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Protagonists, Goals, and Conviction

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Jun 29 2013 · 122 views

Essays, Not Rants! 067: Protagonists, Goals, and Conviction
 
Let’s talk about the characters in The Last of Us. Because I still want to talk about that game. For the sake of direction, we’ll focus on Joel and Ellie, because they’re the protagonists (and arguably each other’s antagonist) and you spend nearly eighteen hours with them.
 
I’m going to try to keep this mostly spoiler-free, but since this’ll be discussing characters and arcs and development, be warned of mentions and implications and stuff. If you’re playing the game right now or are planning to in the near future, might be best to avoid this.
 
So. Characters.
 
The dynamic of Joel and Ellie is not like Batman/Robin’s hero/sideckick or even a sort of Riggs/Murtaugh case of contrasting partners. Sure, they have their joint task of getting Ellie to the Fireflies, but there’s nothing personal to that; it’s what they’ve been told to do. That hardly makes for interesting characters. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: “Every character has to want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” So what do Joel and Ellie want?
 
Ellie’s goal is made clear in early conversations: she wants her life to be for something; she doesn’t want to just exist. Like all good goals, it sheds a lot of light on her character. See, Ellie was born after the outbreak, she’s used to a world where people have resigned themselves to the bleak status quo (and eventual death). She wants more than that.
 
Joel’s goal is more fluid. At the outset, he’s content to just get by. Enter Ellie, the other protagonist. She’s serves as his antagonist just as he does hers; she interferes with his life and forces him to find a new goal and he is the catalyst for her ability to journey after her goal. Joel can no longer live just for the sake of surviving, he has to change. There are no other candidates for an antagonist in the game; the Infected, hunters, and other enemies are exactly that: enemies without personification. Eventually, Joel does change and he does achieve his new goal, he finds a new reason to live.
 
What complicates this is that Ellie’s goal cannot coexist with Joel’s new goal. Joel now wants to protect Ellie best he can, but this protection means that Ellie cannot do the thing she thinks she might be meant to do. Now we see Joel as Ellie’s antagonist in full. There’s tension in the dynamic but no enmity; rather it’s iron sharpening iron as Joel and Ellie rub off on each other and challenge the other to do more as they forge their pseudo-father/daughter relationship.
 
The Last of Us, however, merrily subverts any innate expectation a player might have of that dynamic. Ellie doesn’t sit around waiting for Joel to save her: she’ll often stab people in the back or save Joel from a dead end. But, like Elena and Chloe from Naughty Dog’s other PS3 games, Ellie’s not just there for support or a sort of surrogate daughter but a strong character in her own right. Her cheerfulness masks a strong sense of survival’s guilt (which, again, stems from her want). She’s used to the violence littering the post-apocalyptic world but she’ll still wince at Joel’s brutality. Neil Druckmann wrote a character who’s incredibly interesting, and, yes, happens to be a woman in a video game. On that note, it’s worth mentioning that she’s never portrayed patronizingly or as an act of affirmative action. More so than Joel, Ellie has a sense of personal direction for much of the game. Though she’s not quite sure where she’s going, she has a conviction about her life.
 
Interestingly, Joel lacks much of this conviction. More interestingly, he’s the character you play as for almost the entirety of the game. In The Last of Us you only play as a character when their conviction is shaken and they’re not entirely sure what they should do. Often Joel’s not even sure how to get somewhere and is following someone else’s lead. He’s listless and without any driving force for much of the game. He’s looking for a reason to survive, remember?
 
Contrast this with Uncharted where Nathan Drake’s going after the treasure or saving the world (he’s a little sketchy on the how) or Halo’s Master Chief who has a very clear direction of defeat the bad guys and save the world. This is what sets The Last of Us apart, the perennial “what now?” And where do we see this the most? In the characters: the complex, layered characters of The Last of Us.


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Barless Wonder

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , Jun 26 2013 · 137 views

tl;dr: I no longer have a bar in my chest.
 
Longer version:
Got into Singapore on the 10th. Spent the intervening time playing video games and eating, Monday morning local time went into surgery to have my bar removed. Since, y'know, it's time. Everything went well; the bar's sitting on a shelf here in the hospital room (along with some chips of bone [my bones]); I can walk and move and stuff. Useful abilities, those. Current signs point to heart being alright.
 
So yes. I did just pull an Iron Man 3.
 


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With Regards To Capes

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Jun 22 2013 · 180 views

Essays Not Rants! 066: With Regards to Capes
 
In Man Of Steel Superman has lost his usual red underwear. Well, more he never has it in the first place in this adaption. It's no wonder why, no one, not even Batman, wears their underwear outside anymore.
 
That said, Superman still has his cape, something that's seemingly as much an artifact as the underwear thing. Yes, Thor and Loki both have capes, but they're demigods. Batman's cape is explained away as serving not only the effect he creates but a utilitarian purpose as well. Hardly anyone wears capes these days. In The Incredibles, the first superhero deconstruction you saw if you’re my age, Edna Mode goes to great lengths to explain the impracticality of capes in a morbidly comedic sequence.
 
So why does Superman still have his bright red cape? It's doesn't make much sense (see Edna Mode's list for reasons), yet it's part of his costume and and he doesn't rip it off. More importantly, why did the filmmakers choose to keep the cape? It's iconic, sure, but nothing is sacred in adaptions. Here's the deal: capes are heroic. There's the image of the kid with the towel tied round his neck pretending to be a superhero. That's Superman. He's the Boy Scout, the Kansas-bred all-American hero.
 
And his cape is an integral part of that. Look at the use of capes in the film. General Zod, when we first see him, is wearing a cape. It doesn't take long, however, for him to shrug it off and, of course, become the villain he is. When we first see Superman in his outfit we first see his red boots and red cape. When Superman meets the military, we once again focus on his cape. His cape is what sets him apart. Zod doesn't have a cape, nor do any of his followers; but Jor-El, Superman's father, does. It's a beautiful visual cue, one that speaks to the basis of our pop culture mythology: the person wearing the cape is a good guy, a hero.
 
Such is Superman: he's the archetypical superhero. The cape-wearing, evil-fighting man in tights. Contrast him to Joel, from The Last of Us (because that game is amazing and bears referencing). Joel is not a hero, he's not even a good guy. Joel is a desperate man who's more than willing to do horrible things. Joel is a survivor, he acts solely to survive and protect his own interests. Superman, conversely, simply is good and will protect anyone.
 
So where do we get a narrative? Joel's comes from challenging his interests and upsetting his status quo to see how he reacts. The narrative/arc is clear from the onset, though Naughty Dog makes several bold choices with where to take it. Superman has no obvious arc. He's invincible and infallible; any impending doom or moral dilemma lacks tension because we know Superman can't be hurt and will always do right. After all, he's wearing a cape. So where does the narrative tension come from? How does Man of Steel craft a story that doesn't undermine his character but still delivers an engaging story?
 
The movie addresses the question of the cape. The story's primary tension comes not from Superman vs. Zod, but rather within Superman himself. Clark Kent must become Superman... Or must he? The Clark Kent we meet is a Clark Kent divided. He has these powers, but should he use them? How should he use them? There lies the conflict; the tension is the question of should Clark Kent wear the cape or hide in anonymity. Granted, we already know the answer, but it's a far more interesting arc than "will he survive?". Once that question is answered, however, a new one arises: to what lengths will Superman go in pursuit of what the cape means? How far will Superman go to protect someone?
 
Zack Snyder has described Man of Steel as the least ironic movie he's made. It might be the most honest recent superhero movie besides Captain America, there's no attempt to give Superman the dark and gritty treatment so common in our era of antiheroes. Where The Last of Us gives us an antihero who rings closer to a villain, Man of Steel presents a hero with no doubt of his goodness. So Superman wears a cape.


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Thoughts on The Last of Us

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , Jun 20 2013 · 90 views

I stayed up 'till 2am Tuesday night finishing the game, stayed up another two hours mulling it over, and two days later I'm still processing the game. Here's some initial thoughts I scribbled out:
 
It's just a very different video game.

For starters, it's not exactly a terribly 'fun' game. Not that it's not good or a great play, but that it's like Zero Dark Thirty, an incredibly well put together thing that's not easy to watch. Look at the Infected, the zombie-like creatures. Y'know what a couple differences are between zombies and Infected? Zombies are all men, and zombies don't scream and moan. Killing them is both terrifying and crushing.

As a game, it's exceptional. The thing is, it doesn't stop at being a game; The Last of Us is a narrative. Sure, graphics are exceptional (in an early scene you can see your reflection), but the graphics all serve the story. Gameplay; the item scarcity, the brutality of every kill, it all advances the feeling of the story. You're desperate: you've got a dozen bullets left between all your guns, one medkit, a molotov cocktail, and a brick. Gameplay is phenomenal.

But the way it intersects with the narrative is where it shines, and ultimately, horrifies. I found myself not wanting another fight, simply because fights were so violent and brutal. This isn't Army of Two or Assassin's Creed where you get a sort of glee out of slaughtering someone, every kill in The Last of Us is painful. Just when you're starting to think "yeah, I'm bad" you find yourself shooting someone right as he begins to plead for his life. Or you'll get swarmed and die. You're not playing a baddonkey, you're playing a heartless man with a singular goal. Gameplay has you doing things as Joel that you, as a player, would rather not do.

Again, it all comes down to the narrative. Neil Druckmann's script is exceptional. It's ruthless yet so full of emotion you WILL cry at least once. Character motivations are so clear and, in a page ripped from Game of Thrones, characters want something so bad they will stop at nothing to get it (once they know what it is). Moments between characters, especially between Joel and Ellie, build it up to where it's headed, to the ending. The game discards the usual pulpy fiction that accompanies games in favor of something that can only be described as literary.

The Last of Us is a beautiful, beautiful game. One that I'm still processing, much the same way I did with a certain episode of Game of Thrones or the ending of Chuck. It's such a finely woven piece of literature that leaves you in awe and emotionally drained. It dares to be a game that's not just 'fun' but deep and interesting too.

 
Also: It bears mentioning that The Last of Us doesn't have a morality system, there's no decision making. You're playing a story, you CANNOT opt out of doing some things as much as you want. YOU don't have a choice because YOU are Joel and you are doing what he would do. Joel is not you, you are Joel. Again: it serves the story.


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A Grownup Video Game

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Jun 15 2013 · 100 views

Essays, Not Rants! 065: A Grownup Video Game
 
Something big came out on Friday. It was produced by a legendary team known for their amazing work. No, not Man of Steel: The Last of Us, the latest game by Naughty Dog, a team most recently known for the Uncharted series.
 
It’s also a video game that will have you in tears after the first half hour.
 
Understand, The Last of Us is a grownup’s video game. No, not because of the gore or language, but adult because it’s not childish. The game does away with many tropes associated with games in its genre and instead creates a story that feels genuinely new and, more than that, genuinely emotional and heartfelt.
 
The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. Like most stories in the genre, order has been lost. There are quarantine zones where martial law is in effect but, for the most part, it’s lawlessness. But what are the quarantine zones quarantined against? Not zombies per se, but rather people who’ve been infected by this weird fungus-like thing. It’s a great scenario for a video game: put us in control of a late-twenties/early-thirties man who carves a wave of destruction through the military and infected for some reason or other. Fantastic.
 
But writer/director Neil Druckmann and the rest of Naughty Dog are having none of that. You don’t play as some supersoldier and this isn’t some story about a hero shooting his way to victory. In fact, the first character you play as is a helpless teenage girl looking for her father in the middle of the night. For the rest you play as Joel. His hair is graying and he’s very, well, normal. He’s like John McClane from the original Die Hard: incredibly vulnerable. He’s just an ordinary guy without training, gadgets, or even a fitness regime. Joel’s job — and by proxy the player’s — is simply to smuggle a girl, Ellie, out of the quarantine zone. He’s not out to save the world.
 
It’s easy enough to have this in the narrative only for it to be disconnected from gameplay. After all, the Planet may be in danger but if Cloud and friends want to go on a few side quests to level up, what’s stopping them? Not so with The Last of Us. It forces you to think as Joel. The game doesn’t let you run into firefights guns blazing, if anything it will punish you. You never have enough ammo, nor do you have enough health. The game bucks the trend of letting your life regenerate: if you get hit you’ll have to scavenge items to restore it. This reinforces your feeling of vulnerability in fights. More often then not you’ll try to avoid conflict: it’s easier.
 
That said, conflict in the game is visceral. Naughty Dog lays on the blood and gore in their first M-rated game; even strangling an enemy from behind is punctuated by gargles and resistance. You feel every life you take. Violence is unrestrained, but it never quite feels gratuitous. There’s no glory in it. Joel’s comments in cutscenes touch on that idea, but more the it’s desperation of battle that the game instills in you. All this is without touching on the moments of pure terror that characterize an encounter with the infected Clickers.
 
But large sections of gameplay are without active conflict. Sometimes it just serves story. The Last of Us takes the medium of a video game and blends it with cinema and fully utilizes both aspects. All the gameplay I mentioned earlier is married beautifully with Neil Druckmann’s script and exceptional acting and animation from all involved. I’m only a few hours into the game, but the opening — which takes place on the eve of the outbreak, twenty years before the main game — is one of the most powerful moments of storytelling I’ve experienced in any medium.
 
 

WARNING: The following paragraphs contains SPOILERS for the game's opening. If you’re like me and try to avoid any spoilers whatsoever, skip it.

 

 

The game quickly establishes the characters: Joel’s tired from work, he’s a single dad whose daughter stayed up late to give him an early birthday gift — a watch. If you’ve paid attention you’ll notice that nothing in the game’s marketing suggested that Joel had a daughter, and then it dawns on you that something has to happen to her. When you first take control of Joel the car he, his brother, and daughter were trying to escape town in has just been wrecked. Infected swarm around them and Sarah has broken her leg. In any other game you would play as the survivor shooting his way to safety while the girl limps behind. In The Last of Us you play as a father carrying his daughter to safety. You can’t fight, you can only run through town. You are the one carrying Sarah to safety, right now you are the father trying to protect his daughter. You feel immersed because it’s a video game; Joel’s goal has become yours.
 
Which makes Sarah’s death at the hands of a soldier when you’ve almost reached safety all the more painful.
 
You watch a phenomenal cutscene as Sarah dies in her father’s arms. You’re no longer in control, you can’t do anything. You feel that helplessness as Joel tearfully pleads with his daughter to live. And tears well in your eyes as you and Joel watch her die. You couldn’t protect her. You failed. Then the game cuts from Joel’s hopeless face to the opening credits.
 
 

That’s it, no more spoilers.

 

 

The Last of Us uses its interactive medium to immerse you into not only its world, but the emotions within. Like the conversation you can start with Ellie about an arcade game or the subtle glance Joel gives a familiar looking watch in a cutscene: the moments are easily missed, but so typical of The Last of Us’ storytelling. Druckmann and Naughty Dog aren’t talking down to you as a player or spelling everything out for you, and they certainly aren’t trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. They’re telling a grownup story. When you watch someone you’ve spent the past ten minutes trying to protect die in your arms it hits you all the more.
 
This is the power of video games. This is the game that elevates the medium.


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Shakespearean Gateway Drug

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Jun 09 2013 · 92 views

Essays, Not Rants! 064: Shakespearean Gateway Drug
 
Like most everyone who’s taken an English class, I’ve had my share of Shakespeare. I’ve read a handful of his plays, know the plots to a few more, and think I mostly understand what’s kinda going on (but clearly still miss a lot of it). That said, I’ve also seen Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and Hamlet, and enjoyed both, so hey: Shakespeare. Thanks to Branagh’s films, though, I’ve had this appreciation for those long monologues and weird words without stage directions that make up a Shakespearean play.
 
Sometimes it seems that actually seeing something makes you appreciate it more. Take Joss Whedon’s new adaption of Much Ado About Nothing. I got the chance to see an early screening about a month ago (if you’re wondering: it’s phenomenal, go see it). What makes this movie particularly fun is that the script is pure Shakespeare. There’s no updating of the play, there’s no cutting out bits. It’s just Shakespeare.
 
Sure, that means you don’t quite follow everything (unless, y’know, Shakespeare’s your thing), but you get the point of the play. You can follow the plot well enough and you’ll catch most of the jokes (chalk that up to Whedon’s direction and the excellent acting). It’s all Shakespeare, but it’s made intelligible. Or more intelligible. Whatever. As it stands, Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is Shakespeare presented as Shakespeare — not dumbed down — and watchable and understandable by people who normally wouldn’t watch Shakespeare. Familiar faces like Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion (and BriTANick!) help ease you into the Bard’s story. You don’t have to have a Masters in Shakespearean Literature to get Much Ado. It’s there and it’s clear; there’s no attempt to snobbify it. And it just might get someone to pursue Hamlet or A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It’s a Shakespearean gateway drug, if you will.
 
Shakespeare isn’t the only tough thing to get into. Star Trek, as a whole, is a rather intimidating fandom. You have the original series, The Next Generation, a cornucopia of films, and a bunch of other tv series out there. There’s a lot. 2009’s Star Trek remade the universe so an outsider could jump into it. The recent follow-up, Into Darkness, delved deeper into Trek lore. It’s filled with shout outs and nods to prior works that get Trekkies’ approval, but also encourages newer viewers to investigate further. All the while it never alienates newcomers.
 
In fact, Into Darkness pulled this off magnificently thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting as the villain. His devoted fan following from Sherlock — a modern real-life retelling — wound up watching Into Darkness — a futuristic story about space exploration. In this case, Cumberbatch is the gateway drug. Coupled with J.J. Abrams’ storytelling, we receive an open invitation into a world we’d have needed a qualification for. Their efforts, like Joss Whedon’s helmsmanship of Much Ado About Nothing, simultaneously encourages and reassures potential viewers that even though what they’re about to watch may not be their usual fare, it probably won’t be that bad. In fact, it might actually be great.
 
To that effect, both Into Darkness and Much Ado About Nothing are fantastic films. They have that feeling of being for a specific group of people, yet are still remarkably accessible. Even if you still get thee and thy mixed up or thought Spock was that guy with the lightsaber, you’ll still enjoy these films. Heck, you might even try to find more like them.


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Twenty Two

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , Jun 07 2013 · 108 views

So I turned 22 today (er, yesterday). Was fun here in South Carolina, shenanigans, dinner with Mom, that sort of thing. Hanging out with some friends playing Smash till 2am. Yeah.

Now I'm enjoying a couple beers and some writing before I have to wake up and start preparing stuff for my trip to Singapore for the rest of the summer.

Friends, I am an adult.



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TMD's Fifth Annual Movie Awards Part Two

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , Jun 04 2013 · 99 views

Part Two of TMDs Fifth Annual Movie Awards
 
Alright guys. Time for the individual awards. As you should expect (if you've been following my awards [which you totally should be]), we've got my… unique categories. Which are the categories you should care about.
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Worst Movie
Basically, what sucks. These movies are not so-bad-they're-good, but are so-bad-they're-worse.
 
Nominees:
October Baby
A movie so heavy handed with its message the story barely gets told.
Rock of Ages
Great soundtrack! Too bad everything else sucks.
 
Winner: The Watch
This movie's main redeeming quality is Richard Ayoade. Sadly, he's not enough of a factor to save this lousymovie that had so much potential but just crashed and burned right out the gate.
——————————
 
Baddonkey of the Year
Every good action movie's got him. You can throw an army and the kitchen sink at him, and he still prevails. And for that, he is awesome.
 
Nominees:
Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The 16th President uses a silver axe to kill vampires. That is all.
Judge Dredd, Dredd
Karl Urban's chin has never looked quite so manly and intimidating.
Black Widow, The Avengers
Proof that a Baddonkey doesn't have to be pure muscle or a man, Natascha Romanov earns her nomination due to fighting not just smart but hard too.
 
Winner: James Bond, Skyfall
James Bond really shines in this reconstruction of the James Bond mythos.
——————————
 
Best Dialogue:
Is it stilted or awkward or does it roll of the tongue?
 
The Avengers
Joss Whedon. 'nuff said.
 
But if not, here's more: Y'see, Joss Whedon is a fantastically economical writer. He uses dialogue to quickly establish exposition without it ever seeming outright and can also establish characters with just a few lines. It's impressive (and something I am very jealous of). Then of course his dialogue is just brimming with wit. This man is one of the best writers of dialogue today.
—————————
 
Best Comedy
Did it make you laugh? And more importantly, did it make you laugh well?
 
Ted
It's a foulmouthed teddy bear. if that's not your cup of humor, fine. But if it is you'll spend the movie's duration laughing incessantly. The humor's twisted and dark (due in no small part to, again, the incongruity of a foulmouthed teddy bear). It's hilarious, and you'll text your friend the thunder buddy song when it rains.
——————————
 
Best Soundtrack
Music carries a film. Duh. Here's the best:
 
Nominees:
Rock of Ages
Lousy movie, epic 80's music.
The Avengers
This soundtrack is epic. Leaving the BluRay's menu on while getting ready to watch it yields the most epic walks down a hallway. You want a soundtrack that captures the heroism of this movie? Alan Silvestri delivered.
Django Unchained
Why? Because mixing Rap/HipHop into a Western about a black man is awesome.
 
Winner: Paperman
Just listen to Christophe Beck's score for this and try to disagree with me.
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Coolest Movie
This is the movie that makes you think "Holy snap that's frickin' awesome"
 
Nominees:
John Carter
This movie gets an oddly bad rap despite being a slick, really really cool piece of science fiction.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
It's a relatively historically accurate biography of the 16th president except he hunts vampires. And. It. Is. Awesome.
Skyfall
It's James Bond being James Bond, only better.
 
Winner: The Avengers
It's Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye on screen together fighting Loki. What more do you want?!
——————————
 
Who needs character/plot development when you've got booms?
 
Nominee:
The Expendables 2
Sure, it's not as beautifully gruesome as the first, but it's still a wonderful action movie.
 
Winner: Dredd
It's not quite as mindless as my usual nominees for this category, but the slomo action scenes are just gorgeous. Who knew a skull exploding could be so beautiful?
——————————
 
Most Innovative
This is the movie that did something new, something cool, or just special.
 
Nominees:
Dredd
It played with 3D and slow motion, using it as a narrative device as much as for spectacle
The Avengers
Proved that a superhero team-up not only works, but can be amazing.
Blue Like Jazz
Wait, a movie by Christians about a Christian that's not hawking dogma? Impossible!
 
Winner: Cloud Atlas
No, it's not an amazing movie, but it tried something new and kinda pulled it off. So props to them.
——————————
 
Best Special Effects
If I need to explain this, then, well, stop reading.
 
Nominees:
Ted
The bear, man. Of special note is the fight between Mark Wahlberg and Ted. That's all around impressive.
Life of Pi
No bear, but the composite work with the animals deserves a mention.
 
Winner: The Avengers
ILM made a CGI model of a chunk of Manhattan. That alone would be enough for a spot on the list, but the Hulk just notches them up here.
——————————
 
Best Actor:
Daniel Day-Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln
I get the feeling this is the image of Lincoln everyone will think of from now on out (which is a shame; I wish everyone thought of him hunting vampires). But Day-Lewis' performance is so amazing no one else can even enter this list.
——————————
 
Best Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence, Tiffany Maxwell, Silver Linings Playbook
For the record, she was my pick before the Oscars. She was fantastic in 2011's X-Men: First Class and really took off in The Hunger Games, but it's in Silver Linings Playbook where we really see her shine.
——————————
 
Movies That I Really Like For Reasons That I'm Not Quite Sure
These aren't the best movies of 2012, but they're up there.
 
Blue Like Jazz
It's not the most amazing movie, but it gets points for its honesty and dedication to telling the story it wants to tell.
 
The Cabin In The Woods
I'm a big fan of deconstruction and post-modern storytelling. This film takes that and applies it to a genre I usually avoid and creates masterful results.
 
The Amazing Spider-Man
Yes, I liked this one more than the old ones. Maybe it's casting Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Martin Sheen, maybe it's the closer focus on telling a story about Peter Parker, maybe it's because freakin' Marc Webb's directing, or maybe it's because Till Kingdom Come is in it.
Probably all of the above.
 
Skyfall
There's just so much going for this masterpiece of a movie. It's a reconstruction that serves as a brilliant, fun movie that's able to capture both highs and lows.
 
Silver Lining's Playbook
I don't even know where to begin with this movie, just that I really really loved it.
——————————
 
Best Animated Film:
Paperman
This is probably my favorite non-Pixar piece of animation Disney's produced since Tangled (and before that, The Lion King). It's magical, something that suddenly makes the world outside the animation seem more real. Coupled with the phenomenal soundtrack and, it's beautiful. Just beautiful.
——————————
 
Best Moving Picture:
The Avengers
Look, you knew this was coming. I wrote too many Essays, Not Rants about it, but let me list the reasons why this is unquestionably the best movie of 2012:
  • Incredibly deft screenplay that balances exposition and action
  • The team dynamic hits the appropriate speed bumps
  • Every main character has an arc
  • Joss Whedon's banter is in full effect
  • Fantastic action that never loses the characters
  • Great special effects
  • That one long shot of each of the six during the final battle
  • It paid off on the last four years of hype
  • Shawarma



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TMD's Fifth Annual Movie Awards Part One

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , Jun 03 2013 · 109 views

Hey guys.
 
Yep. It's late. As it happens college is conducive for procrastination. Whodathunk?
 
Welcome To Josh's Fifth Annual Movie Awards Part One
 
As usual I'm listing every movie I saw this year. You get the idea. Naturally these are all subjective.
 
Legend:
º means did not see it in cinemas
Multiple * denotes number of times saw in cinema
- — Eh. More or less sucked.
-/+ — Meh. See it if you want.
+ — Fairly good film, worth a watch.
++ — One of the better films of the year. Definitely go see this.
+++ — Amazing is not description enough. Go watch it.
 
  • Contraband, -/+, it's not a bad film but it doesn't really stick with you after
  • Haywire, +, interesting, smart, enjoyable action flick with a great cast
  • Chronicle, ++, blends a unique use of the superpowers and found footage genre into a gritty, well done drama.
  • Safe House, -/+ decent action flick with not much else going for it.
  • This Means War, —, the winning leads can't salvage this lousy movie.
  • Act of Valor, ++, deft action film that's further enhanced by its SEAL actors.
  • John Carter, ++, a severely underrated science fiction film that's exceptionally good.
  • 21 Jump Street, +/-, it's funny enough, but nothing to write home about.
  • The Hunger Games, ++, fantastic adaption of a fantastic book.
  • October Baby, —, I've written enough about this film's flaws on Essays, Not Rants!, so nothing else.
  • Wrath of the Titans, -/+, it's alright, but nothing memorable
  • The Cabin in the Woods, ++, phenomenal post-modern piece of horror fiction.
  • Blue Like Jazz, ++, I drove two hours to watch this movie. Worth it.
  • Lockout, -/+, it's Die Hard in space, but Guy Pearce isn't quite as charming as Bruce Willis.
  • The Five-Year Engagement, -/+, forgettable comedy with few merits.
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits, +, fun stop motion film.
  • The Avengers******, +++, perfect.
  • BZP Lovers 3, +, it's enjoyable enough, but nothing more.
  • Moonrise Kingdom, ++, quirky and enjoyable, it's Wes Anderson being Wes Anderson.
  • Snow White and the Hunstman, —, just blah.
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, +, though not as good as the second one, it's fun enough
  • Prometheus, -/+, look, it's not horrible, but it doesn't use its Alien roots.
  • Rock of Ages, —, good as the songs are, the movie itself sucks.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, ++, great piece of historical fiction with vampires.
  • Brave, +, Pixar does a fairy tale, and a great one at that
  • Beasts of the Southern Wildº, —, not terrible, but sorely lacking in anything distinctive
  • Ted, ++, hilarious comedy with particularly great effects
  • The Amazing Spider-Man**, ++, yeah, the new Spider-Man is a better Spider-Man. Great cast too.
  • The Dark Knight Rises**, +, it's good even if it doesn't live up to The Dark Knight.
  • The Watch, —, lousy piece of not-quite-funny comedy.
  • Total Recall, -/+, Arnold did it better.
  • The Expendables 2, +, not as good as the first, but still a big dumb action movie.
  • Dredd, ++, like John Carter, another piece of underrated science fiction.
  • End Of Watch, +, well put together cop drama
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, ++, well done heartfelt coming of age story
  • Looper, ++, again: exceptional piece of science fiction
  • Taken 2, +, though not as good as the first, still a decent action flick.
  • Argo, ++, fantastic drama with absolutely terrific acting and direction that deserved its Oscar
  • Seven Psychopaths, +, it's funny, it's weird, and Sam Rockwell is amazing.
  • Cloud Atlas, +, a surprisingly coherent blur of storytelling.
  • Skyfall, ++, absolutely amazing James Bond film that might be the best.
  • Wreck-It Ralph, +, probably the best video game movie ever.
  • Lincoln, +, Spielburg and Day-Lewis nail this biopic of the 16th President.
  • Silver Linings Playbook, +++, beautiful movie about broken people.
  • Life of Pi, +, beautiful adaption of a great book.
  • Deadfall, -/+, a messy story that could have almost been good.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey**, +, not as good as The Lord of the Rings, but not quite terrible.
  • Zero Dark Thirty, ++, has what might be the best piece of military action on film.
  • Django Unchained, +, it's Tarantino at his Tarantinoist, and all the better for it
  • Les Misérables, +, there's a lot of singing in this tearjerking film.
 
So there it is, my Big List. Tune in tomorrow for the proper awards.


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Re: Game of Thrones

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