Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

We saw Wonder Woman this weekend.

I really enjoyed it. My wife really enjoyed it. My daughter enjoyed it somewhat less but took monumental satisfaction in nitpicking liberties taken with Greek Mythology.

Robin Wright tore great chunks out of the scenery and shoveled them into her mouth with both fists and then she chomped those chunks until there was nothing left but dust.

I want a General Antiope movie now!!!

I was one of the people who were initially very skeptical of Gal Gadot’s casting back in the run-up to Batman V Superman. I had only seen clips from her Fast & the Furious appearance and I didn’t think she could pull it off. I was dead wrong about that. She’s got the technical proficiency to inhabit the role and the screen presence to bring it to life. She made this movie what it is.

I don’t think that I’ve ever not actively hated Chris Pine in a role. I loathed his smirking, entitled frat boy Kirk. Let’s look at his filmography. He was fine in Rise of the Guardians. Certainly not the best part of it (that would be Alec Baldwin’s Russian Santa), but he did an okay job. I see he’s going to be Meg’s dad in A Wrinkle in Time.  You’d better not ruin one of my favorite books for me, Pine!

To my considerable surprise, he was actually really good here! For the first time, his presence adds to rather than detracts from a movie! Trevor was a likable, interesting character and Pine played him well.

Etta Candy was just the right amount of comic relief.  I also enjoyed Trevor’s ragtag team of misfits. Ewen Bremner as Charlie was my favorite.

In large part because of the scene where he chokes when faced with the sniper in the church tower. In my opinion, the most human element of the movie.

Elena Anaya gave another standout performance, especially in that scene near the fire. It was particularly impressive because half of her face was covered, yet she still manages to convey so much inner life with just a furrowed brow. General Ludendorff was also a good villain, and they’re well-matched. (Also, I didn’t know that he was an actual historical figure until I started looking into it. It’s my understanding that the movie took some liberties with some elements of his life.)

I had really hoped that Professor Lupin wasn’t going to turn out to be a baddie. I held out hope that they were going for a subversion of the trope and I was a little disappointed that everything with him unfolded in an entirely predictable manner. And while I like Ares as a villain, his mind over matter Akira powers didn’t seem to fit thematically for the God of War. I thought he should be more visceral in his violence. However, I did like that he paralleled Diana in a meaningful way. His offer to her to join him seemed logical and meaningful in a way that these things seldom are.

Overall, a great movie. Possibly the best DC superhero movie ever made.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Video Game Review: Tekken 7

I'm enjoying Tekken 7.

I played the first game in 1994, in the video arcade section of a bowling alley and it blew my young mind. I had it on console by the time I moved into my first apartment. There was a paralyzing snowstorm that year and as it was the only game we owned, my girlfriend (now wife) and I got very good at it. A friend kept trying to beat Heihachi and finally gave me the control pad in frustration. I beat him in ten seconds, with one hand, with a perfect. (It was with Michelle though, and in Tekken 1, it was obscenely easy to perform her 10-hit combo.) My wife has a similar story, and how my brother was strutting about his unbeatable Tekken prowess and she curbstomped him effortlessly. Her story is even better because he's so cocky and she's so mild-mannered.

The same friend managed a Gamestop (I think they might have still been called Babbages back then) and he brought over a copy of Tekken 2 before it was released and we played it all night and drank beer (and Zima, because it was the 90s) and sat on the roof and did all the things young people do.

I've got a lot of fond memories of the series is what I'm saying.

I took off the day of the release. so I'd be able to spend all day playing it :)

Tekken 7 continues the tradition of being needlessly complicated and kinda dopey ("Heihachi, you have reclaimed leadership of the Michima Zaibatsu. What are you going to do now?" "Throw a fighting tournament, doy."). So I love it, obviously. They added an exorcist to the roster, because of course they did. I love how they throw in whatever dumb thought comes into their heads, without any consideration for how it meshes with anything else. That's why it's the BEST!

Also, the character customization is a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What Made America Famous

Does anyone know Harry Chapin's music? He's best known for "Cat's in the Cradle", but he wrote many other songs. Jen's favorite is another song off the same album: “What Made America Famous” and the line that always sticks with me is near the end of the song, where the narrator says he still believes that we can still make an America like the one they still teach about in schools.

From the very beginning, America has never lived up to its ideals. Like every other country, there is a lot of ugliness just beneath the surface. But I like to think that those ideals are something real towards which we can aspire. That the Declaration of Independence isn’t pretty, empty words, that at some point in the future we can build a country where Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness really are considered unalienable rights for everyone. We’re a long way off, and I’m pessimistic that we’ll ever achieve it, but I believe in it because it’s something worth believing.

I was thinking about that during Comey’s testimony. Specifically:

"The reason this is such a big deal is, we have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful.

But we’re talking about a foreign government that, using technical intrusion and lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.

That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible.

That’s what this is about, and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it."

Defending Donald Trump, at this point is inconsistent with being a decent human being or a good American.