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Kraggh's Works ♫♪



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Nostalgia Bomb!

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, Music Jun 01 2017 · 212 views
Bionicle, MNOG, music


:kaukau: Bam. You're all thinking happy thoughts now. So am I. Glad we're all on the same page.

Seriously, this music gives me the best feeling. It's my favorite game music of all time, and that means that I even like it more than "Baba Yetu". I love it, and it always inspires me, not just emotionally, but also creatively.

Why hasn't LEGO released an official CD with this soundtrack? I went to put it in one day while I'm on a road trip, listen to it with the highest sound quality, and feel like I'm going on the adventure of a lifetime.

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The Toa Nuva vs Avatar Aang

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle Mar 15 2017 · 295 views

:kaukau: I can't decide. Who would win in a fight? Let's assume for this that Aang is willing to kill during this fight.

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Iniuri

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, Literature Aug 30 2016 · 383 views
IDES, Iniuri, Iruini

Background


:kaukau: Iniuri is one of my planned constructed languages for a series of mine called the IDES. Its name comes from Toa Hagah Iruini. Back in the day, when I was really unoriginal with my stories, I came up with a fictional battle where Norik and Iruini fought alongside my Neopet, Kraggh, as his noble generals. Kraggh was a conqueror who diplomatically added the world of Bionicle to his interdimensional empire. As you might have guessed, this is where I got my old username from. Later, I retroactively changed some of the details of these characters once I realized that I wanted to create something that was (big shocker) original, so I invented a brand new species for these generals to belong to, a species that I felt reflected the nobility that I attributed to the Toa Hagah, and I called them the iniuri. Why did I name them the iniuri and not the kiron when I liked the character of Norik better? I'm not sure, but I'd imagine that I liked the almost Elvish sound of Iruini-spelled-backwards, and it was also less obviously a Bionicle-inspired name.

The idea of creating a language for the iniuri didn't occur to me until several months ago. Sure, I had thought up of a sound for a language, but really I spent more time developing the Iniuri (capitalized here — I'll explain later) culture from which it came. Once I realized that I wanted to actually develop the language, I already had all of its basic sounds in my head, and a history.

After some basic linguistic research, I immediately realized that I wanted the Iniuri language to follow the grammar of Esperanto, except I wanted it to sound less like a hybrid language and more like its own thing. The phonetic impression left by Esperanto is, in my opinion, inconsistent. The words viro and knabo sound like they belong to different languages. That's okay for Experanto, since it's purpose is to sound vaguely familiar to speakers of all sorts of Indo-European backgrounds, but the purpose of Iniuri is to sound beautiful and poetic, and to evoke very specifically the Iniuri culture.

Out of all of the constructed languages that I plan to complete, this one will probably be the easiest one to write, and the easiest — possibly the most enjoyable — to learn. Part of it comes from the familiarity of the Indo-European grammar, but it's also the simplicity of the grammar and the sounds. It isn't my favorite of the languages I've conceived (I prefer philosophical languages that manage to compact as much information per syllable as possible), but it's the one that's most likely to catch on. You'll have to wait a while before you see it in all its glory, though, because it doesn't make an appearance until the eleventh book.




History of the Language


In the very, very beginning of the ancient Skull War, the Battle of the Crater at Ŋoji rendered the planet uninhabitable for millions of years. After millions of years, people began to settle again in this region, renaming the planet Siriein (commonly anglicized to “Siriane”). These people were eight-foot-tall humanoids with lion-esque heads, called the iniuri. Another humanoid species called the tandlʃ, smaller and wolf-like in appearance, settled in with them and over time became “honorary Iniuri,” so that Iniuri came to refer to both the specific species and the ethnicity that consisted of the two species. Iniuri with a capital <I> referred to the ethnicity, whereas iniuri with a lowercase <i> referred to the species. Tandlʃ are the more populous of the two types of Iniuri, taking up approximately 80% of the population.

Two hundred years before current events, the Iniuri came out from a ten-thousand-year period of cultural stand-still known as the Oral Era. During the Oral Era, nobody produced books, poems, movies, or plays, due the large library of works already available. With literally trillions upon trillions of books written over the course of the universe's long, long history, the Iniuri believed that it was vanity to believe that there was anything new under the sun, and they pursued the art of uncovering older stories. More than half of the works readily available in their libraries were translated into Iniuri from other languages, although in all fairness to Iniuri culture, they often altered their translations of this borrowed literature to make it more poetic. If someone was artistically inclined, they would go on to study art rather than to produce it, or they would update an old translation of a work and improve upon its poetry. It was common in this era for Iniuri to memorize entire books. Parents would even name their children after books and raise them to memorize their namesakes, or to even name them after an ancient author and raise them to learn their namesakes’ entire bodies of work.

There were some individuals who took this art to extremes. Known as a ʐiuʐi, or a bard, such an individual would go on to memorize dozens of books. In your average town, you would find a handful of bards populating the downtown forum. In a city, there would be hundreds or even thousands in the downtown, and their work was considered to be a public service. Some would gather crowds for reciting popular books, or well-known poems and songs, while others would risk fewer tips by reviving forgotten manuscripts. Bards weren't the only people to share books; most people had at least one memorized, and it was common to socialize around book recitations, especially when people were meeting each other for the first time.

Siriane was from the beginning an advanced society, being founded by interplanetary colonists, and obviously had such technologies as cinema and virtual reality, but these mediums were considered vulgar compared to the majestic art form of theatre, which by far reigned as the more popular mode of entertainment. Many larger towns would have a district with ten or so opera houses. Most plays had intermissions, during which a popular pastime among the patrons was talking philosophy, local news, and politics, the last of which might normally cause fighting and animosity in daily discourse, but was a sign of high-mindedness to hold one's temper while discussing such things during an intermission. The Iniuri were never known for leaning one way or another with their political tendencies, since they had diverse and often highly contrasting political and economic outlooks. While it was easy to sterotype Iniuri artistically, it was impossible to come up with one political stereotype for them.

The Oral Era never came to a definitive conclusion so much it was gradually phased out. It began with some poets taking strong liberties with translations, bard prioritizing audience participation in stories over the stories themselves, and some bards choosing to recite contemporary essays. Rare original works then began appearing in theatre, where old plots were adapted into fresh manuscripts for contemporary audiences, much like how Shakespeare took inspiration from older plays. One thing led to another, and eventually it became normal to produce original art, in any medium.

Even though they had lost their prominence in Iniuri society, the ʐiuʐi remained an unshakable stereotype of Iniuri culture, and one that they nostalgically didn’t bother to shake off. The Iniuri incorporated the bard into their identity, and still did memorize hours of poetry as a popular hobby, although the amounts that they committed to memory was far less, and those who memorize entire books numbered less than 1% of the population. In any given town, there might be only one or two old-fashioned bards on the streets. The culture remained in a visible way, but people were no longer immersed in it. They were proud of their past, but increasingly proud of their growing corpus of newer works. The culture of street entertainment didn’t dwindle, though, and one could still find plenty of artists in the downtown and business districts of communities, artists who presented their own original poems, stories, songs, and even non-verbal forms of art such as painting, chalk drawing, miming, acrobatics, and magic shows.

In the present of this story, the age of New Art has been going on for approximately 200 years. Recently, an iniuri named Arcein (anglicized to "Arcane") was president of the prestigious Vanaturi University. He was a relic of Siriane’s past, as he had memorized the entire Vliucart (holy book) and many other classic works, and was well-acquainted with many that he hadn’t memorized. He was a recent widower, raising his son Astarr by himself. Upon his son’s encouragement, he ran for president of Siriane, and succeeded.

During this time, the an ancient interdimensional order known as the Defenders were rumored to be moving the legendary Mathazon Crystal, and their rival, the Arkvader and his followers, collected intelligence indicating that they were hiding it on Siriane. The Defenders had, in fact, moved large armies to the uninhabited Ŋoji Crater. Arcane, whose civilization was concentrated on the other side of Siriane, would have liked to be involved with this conflict, but chose to stay out.

However, the Defenders gained a new and valuable ally through the rising conqueror named Emperor Kraggh. Kraggh established relations with Arcane and convinced him to become a charter member of his developing holy empire, called Alphega. This relationship would have been impossible in the past, since the Iniuri were too diverse for such radical political maneuvering to take place without running into heavy resistance, but Arcane lived in a very exceptional era of history. They came to several diplomatic agreements, the most relevant to this article being that Iniuri would enjoy a status as one of the Alphegan empire’s official languages. Arcane and his son personally fought in the Second Battle of the Crater, and Arcane then went on to serve as the first president of Allied Zones of Alphega, setting strong precedent for Iniuri’s use as an official language of government and not just a language with official acknowledgments by way of courtesy.

Iniuri’s prominence in the A.Z.A. made it a major international language, since Kraggh’s interdimensional empire grew at an alarming rate, and he even managed to conquer one twelfth of the galaxy-sized ringworld of ALPHA. Kraggh himself chose to speak Lucian and Silberzonge, but showed utmost tolerance for the language of his first major ally.

(Phonology, writing, and grammar to come in a later entry)


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Bad Movie Marathon "Bertrand"

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies, Bionicle Aug 15 2016 · 322 views
Twilight, Eragon
:kaukau: Most times that I review a movie, I leave the review-ee a generally positive impression of the film. Am I too easy on movies? Am I a suck-up? Actually, no. I'm fairly tough on films, all things considered. The reason why most of my reviews are positive is that I'm good at figuring out which films are worth watching. It's called selective viewership, and we all practice it. Here's an experiment: just watch the poorly put together trailer for Push and be honest with yourself. If your reaction was "Ugh, nope, not going to bother with that," then congratulations! You just practiced selective viewership.

Because of selective viewership and good instincts, most of us hate Twilight without ever having watched it. You want to rip those movies apart, but you also want to save time. Actually watching those movies wastes time, so you might as well hate on them from a distance. To some, it's cowardly to criticize a movie that you've never seen, but don't listen to them. You're doing it right. Stay intelligent, save up those IQ points, and maybe go to college someday. Life is too short for you to waste your time on bad movies.

Which is why there's something wrong with me. And my sisters, who share my Valjean genes. Did we listen to our better judgment? No. We knew that the Twilight movies were bad. We knew that they failed on every level. We knew how we'd feel about them. It didn't matter; we watched them anyway. One summer we were minding our own business when we saw a review (warning: contains language) of Breaking Dawn, Part 2 on The Escapist, which encouraged people to watch the movie just so they could laugh at it for all the wrong reasons. Then we got an idea. An awful idea. The Valjeans got a wonderful, awful idea.

What if we used our selective viewership powers to intentionally go out of our way to watch bad movies?

We went to the library, checked out all of the Twilight movies, and made ourselves some popcorn, ready to revel in the perverse blasphemy against the good name of cinema. The result would have been a natural disaster, if not for how unnatural it was. Still, it was a cinematic catastrophe, and like any catastrophic event, it deserved a proper name. We called it "Bad Movie Marathon Alvin."

The surprise twist? The Twilight movies weren't that bad. Well yes, they were bad, but not that bad, because we watched another movie first that helped us put things into perspective, and in fact made us appreciate the talent that went into Twilight. Yes, it made Twilight look good! Only a total abomination could do that, a manure cart filled with poop — stuffed with poop, overflowing with poop, actively radiating poop — and our selective viewership, for all its insight, was not shrewd enough to realize just how bad it would be.

Ladies and gentlemen: Eragon.

I have never reviewed this movie, and never will. Absolutely nothing that I write will ever compare to this recap (like the last link, it contains language). It is the best review of a bad movie I have ever read, and I still pull it out every once and a while when I need entertaining. Only a movie like Eragon could produce this. Thank you, Christopher Paolini.

We Valjeans came to a conclusion: individually, Eragon was worse than any of the Twilight movies, save for possibly the last one. However, as a whole, Twilight as a series outdid Eragon, because is was long, boring, tiresome, and far more drawn out than it had to be. As a matter of fact, we tried something out of a hunch and looked up the plot for the books in Wikipedia; we then looked up the plot for episodes of Star Trek and found that individual episodes had more story than all of the Twilight books combined. So don't worry, we still have plenty on Twilight.

Years went by and we learned from our mistake. A few weeks ago week, it's my pleasure to announce that we, the blasted fools, plugged in another bad movie marathon, this one named Bertrand, and we saved the worst movie for last. Are you ready? Let's get started:


BIONICLE: THE LEGEND REBORN


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Drive by review: this is Barbie for Boys. The animation is poor and clunky; the actors are posing with their voices; and the band of protagonists unite together with cringe-worthy ease. It's kind of campy, although it doesn't amp the camp up to eleven like it should have, because it wants to take itself seriously as a story about superheroes, saving the world, and bravery.

The Legend Reborn starts off on the wrong foot right away, since it begins with the infiltration of Makuta into the body of Mata Nui, enslaving the Matoran and doing evil stuff, except I'm not sure if any of that was mentioned by name. If you followed the Bionicle storyline prior to this movie, you knew that all of the characters lived inside of Mata Nui, who as it turned out was a giant robot, so huge that he had entire island chains inside of him, and Matoran were people inside of him who kept him running. It was really weird.

Do you know what wasn't too weird and made a bit more intuitive sense? The Mata Nui Online Game, which was epic. It was back when Bionicle was cool, and I can't stress this enough, that it was cool. I have very nostalgic memories of a dignified, epic telling of the Bionicle story that rose beyond being a mere advertisement for the toys.

It's hard to explain what all made Bionicle so unique, but I'll try, since it has inspired me as a writer almost as much as other major influences like Star Wars. I insist that you go play MNOG and get immersed in the original Bionicle world and its storyline. It has an atmosphere about it that makes it larger than life, mysterious, intriguing, and unique. It was a special world that I wanted to immerse myself in, and it even had the perfect music that helped make that world feel real. It really is its own entity, and so much originality went into it that it's hard to compare it to anything else.

After its glorious third year, Bionicle got a lot less interesting, because they took away a lot of the mysticism in the storyline. They made the heroes less special, and ventured off of the original setting that made the story so fresh. The most significant grievance was changing the nature of the Makuta, a satanic entity who was the jealous brother of the much-adored god Mata Nui. They made him a cyborg, one of many Makuta, and changed his name to the drastically less mystical sounding Teridax, which sounded like it came from a bad fan fiction. They then changed the mythology even further by changing Mata Nui from a god sent by the Great Beings to the aforementioned giant robot. It was very, very stupid.

Then there's this movie, which some people defended, but an honest reviewer like me could see for what it was. That is to say, it's that mentally challenged kid with a heart of gold. Okay, maybe it's heart isn't that golden, because this movie was an obvious cash grab so that the LEGO company could make a little extra money on the side, but the film itself isn't too cynical and has a positive spirit. Other than that, any objective viewer can say that its characters are flat, its storyline is incomplete, its plot is unoriginal, its world is uninteresting, its voice acting is cartoony, its animation is an afterthought, and its atmosphere is uninspired. I can't stress that last part enough: the old Bionicle had a whole ton of atmosphere, and this doesn't have any.

The movie doesn't even succeed as a toy commercial, because the movements of the characters really show off their awkward proportions. Perhaps strong characters with in intriguing stage presence could make up for that, but clearly the movie doesn't have that either. So what you have is an advertisement for action figured that brings attention to just how awkward these figures are when they're actually in action. Does that sound like a winning move?

Otherwise, it's harmless if you want to show it to your kids, although you want them to be intrigued by something, I recommend that you show them MNOG and get immersed in that world, pretending that the latter storylines never happened. It will be much cooler that way.


BARBIE IN THE NUTCRACKER

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An actual, proper Barbie movie, made for girls. Barbie in the Nutcracker is a little darling, much hated by my sisters. As they have made sure to remind me, the characters mistake a cardboard cutout of a castle for the real deal, even as they're walking through its front door! Yes, this is a stupid movie alright. It doesn't operate under any human logic, and like most direct-to-DVD films, the characters were cardboard cutouts.

The main character, "Barbie Nui," the bland female equivalent of Mata Nui, has no personality. She does have a name, Clara, but let's be honest — you're not going to think of her as Clara. For crying out loud, the movie's name is Barbie in the Nutcracker, so for all intents and purposes her name is Barbie. Meanwhile, as with any Mary Sue, the movie pretends that she has a personality, but her traits are all generic positive attributes. If I can remember correctly, she possesses cleverness, kindness, and bravery. Incidentally, she has these exact same traits in every Barbie movie.

Barbie films have bad animation in general, and this was the first computer animated Barbie film, coming out in 2001, so its animation was especially bad. For example, when Barbie does ballet, something about her thighs looks disturbingly unnatural, even by Barbie standards. I also get a kick out of the hair, because as much as the Barbie franchise loves hair, they animate it as one ugly, solid piece of matter. Some of the characters also have the oddest 'do's, like the aunt who gives Barbie the nutcracker. It has some sort of weird spiral going on in back that I can't describe, and you'd just have to check out the movie for yourself to know what I'm getting at.

This movie wasn't as bad as The Legend Reborn, though, because in its defense it at least based itself off of one of the great ballets. And on that note, the music wasn't half bad, for obvious reasons. So for me, at least, it was a more entertaining watch than Barbie for Boys, because it had a classic story. Other than that, this isn't my choice for entertainment, nor should it be anyone's.


THE WIZ

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The Wizard of Oz is a fantastic, classic fairytale with unforgettable, striking imagery and timeless characters. The movie is one of the most iconic films ever made, arguably one of the definitive entries in our movie culture. There have been countless adaptations, unofficial sequels and prequels, and spoofs of The Wizard of Oz, generally being quite entertaining. Many television shows, if they go on long enough, will eventually feature episodes mimicking The Wizard of Oz, along with A Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life. It's one of those phenomenons that stands on its own as truly inimitable, and there will never be another Wizard of Oz. Things that base themselves off of The Wizard of Oz also, with few exceptions, turn out to be delightfully entertaining.

The Wiz is one of those exceptions. It isn't too difficult to explain why, either. It's a musical, and the cardinal sin of any musical is to have uninteresting music. As the movie trudged on, I found myself looking at the clock, because it was boring, and we often zoned out during the musical segments. It just wasn't that interesting, and that's a shame.

Maybe I'm missing something here. People have praised the stage version and said that it's better than the movie, and I've witnessed it before where a song sounds boring until sung by the right vocals. When my high school put on a production of Beauty and the Beast, the short guy that they had playing the Beast made "If I Can't Love Her" into the blandest song ever. He technically hit all of the notes, but he sang it with so little personality that I didn't even perceive the song's tune. When the play finished, I had no interest in hearing that song again. Then I discovered a video of a Korean opera singer singing the song, hitting all of the same notes, and it was beautiful. How do you account for such a drastically different perception? I don't know, but I'm open to believing that The Wiz could be an entertaining stage production. If someone in my area produces it, I will probably give it a visit, just to see if there's a difference.

One thing that I'm sure contributes to the dullness of these songs is that oftentimes the movie completely lacks choreography, robbing the singers of any chance to be expressive. This isn't all of the songs, but it describes enough of them that it becomes a problem. And by no choreography, I don't just mean that they don't dance. I mean that they're not moving, period. No walking, no adjusting their body language, nothing. You'd expect more out of a movie that has Michael Jackson in it.

That's not to say that all the songs are boring. Most people are familiar with "Ease On Down the Road", and that's a gem. I'm also a little bit partial to "No Bad News", and I can hum its tune. Outside of those two, though, the songs are boring, and I know that it's possible to produce consistently interesting songs. Les Miserables did it; Fiddler on the Roof did it; The Sound of Music did it; Oklahoma did it; Beauty and the Beast did it; The Lion King did it; The Phantom of the Opera did it; Mary Poppins did it; Godspell did it; Grease did it; Annie did it; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory did it; and most importantly of all, Bewitched and the original Wizard of Oz did it. One can argue that I shouldn't put my standards so high, but I say that I should put them that high. Shouldn't I have a standard somewhere that posits that a musicals music should be entertaining? And if it's not entertaining, then it is what it is. What am I supposed to say, that a musical is boring and unentertaining, but otherwise enjoyable? What kind of a review is that?

Let's be clear about something, though. I'm not attacking the makers of this movie. I understand that good art is hard to make, and I have no particular talent with music, so I know that I wouldn't do much better. They aren't grand masters of the craft, but unfortunately it takes grand masters of the craft to write music that's entertaining. Not too many people can do it, so those whose musical credentials read "better than average" still aren't good enough to entertain us. I give them credit for trying, but I don't give them a trophy for succeeding, because they didn't.

Except with their main song, "Ease On Down the Road". As I've said, it's a good song, so the movie isn't completely devoid of merit. I can't speak for others when I say that "No Bad News" is a good song, though. That's just me. If you watch the movie, you might dislike it, but you might find another song that just barely fits your fancy, and you can advocate for that one. There are enough songs in there for that to possibly happen. No guarantees, though, because the music truly is boring, as a general rule.

Outside of the music, the movie's other fault is the sets and cinematography. Personally, I like the sets, because they make the movie feel like an on-screen stage musical, but the lighting doesn't do them justice. Personally, I'm not averse to the idea of darker lighting in and of itself, since it gives us a very different type of Oz that's dimmer and grittier, which puts the film in the green light for having its own distinctive vision. Visually, the film is distinct and can't be mistaken for anything else, and I admire that. It's also nice to give an Oz with an all-black populace its own distinctive "black" feel. However, I don't believe that this decision benefits the overall impression that the movie makes, because it's difficult to take in the beautiful sets and appreciate the choreography and costume designs. It makes the setting appear to have less depth, and everything becomes two-dimensional. I can even see it being argued that creating a run-down, ghetto-like "black" Oz as being a twinge racist, although I'm not sure where I'd fall in that discussion if it were to be had.

Overall, the film just doesn't deliver, which is sad, because it's hard to go wrong with an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. I'd give the play a chance, but it's entirely likely that I will never watch this movie again, because it's simply so boring and only serves to waste my time.


FOODFIGHT!

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Here we go. The worst that we saved for last. Foodfight! first came to our attention when the Nostalgia Critic reviewed it, and it was one of the less savory films he had reviewed, which was pretty impressive considering his library of bad films. It's interesting, because in spite of how insanely bad it is, there aren't too many reviews of it on the internet. No Honest Trailers, no "Everything Wrong With Foodfight! in 15 Minutes or Less," no HISHE parody, nothing. The only prominent cinephile to review it was Doug Walker. So I feel privileged to be one of the few to tackle this beast, although it puts some pressure on me to write knowing that I'm something of a vanguard. I really wish I had it in me to write something that would function as a guiding light to future reviewers who might wish to jump on the bandwagon, to set the standard for reviews of this movie.

Alas, I don't have it in me. Not today, as I sit on this chair and try to recall all of the mind-bogglingly stupid things that happened in this congenital defect of a movie. However, yes, I actually bought this movie. I own it, and you can bet your sweet milk money that I plan on watching it again. Maybe someday I will come back and do a scene-by-scene recap of Foodfight!, reacting to each and every one of its individual moments with as much comedy as I can muster.

But for now, I'm just reviewing the film, the worst that I saved for last. And it's true; it was the worst. All the movies leading up to this were pretty bad, but Foodfight! delivered. While everything else was bland and difficult to enjoy, Foodfight! entertained us with every passing moment, because we never ran out of things to laugh at. I have to admit that I was worried that the Nostalgia Critic had selected only the worst parts in his review, but Foodfight! was jam-packed with one bad moment after another, leaving us incredulous as to how such a film could actually exist.

Seriously, I came down on The Wiz for demonstrating that it took more than just better-than-average talent to make a good movie. At least in the other movies you can see how talented people actually tried to make a good produce. But there's no accounting for Foodfight! I have seen college students put together better animations than this. I have seen fanfiction writers put together a better story. I have heard kindergartners read their lines better than some of the voice actors in this bad egg. Where did all of the talent go? Where?

Because it's intended to be a comedy, it's funny. Kind of. For all the wrong reasons, really, but we were still laughing, because the movie consistently gave us reasons to laugh at it for trying so hard and failing so spectacularly. Every single joke that this movie makes is lame, with no exceptions.

Usually, I can list a few redeeming qualities, one or two things that were genuinely good. For as much as I absolutely hated Man of Steel, I loved Antje Traue as Faora. For as much Star Trek Beyond disappointed me, I genuinely laughed along with its sense of humor, and got emotional when they paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy. However, Foodfight! has nothing, at least nothing intentional. Which was a relief. I often get tired of holding back somewhat on an otherwise bad movie because it has at least one redeeming quality. It's hard to actually suck in every conceivable way, but Foodfight! does it, and I'm able to completely bash it for everything that it is. It feels good!

The animation, for example. It is worse than The Legend Reborn, or even Barbie in the Nutcracker. In fact, it's the worst animation I've ever seen in any film. They don't even reach the quality of 90's video games. I'm pretty sure that someone could make a better-animated film than this by playing The Sims. Sometimes, when the characters moves, it looked like the animators were working through a glitch in their software, because their movement was so unnatural.

The characters are everything you've seen before, except for less. Dex Dogtective is an aviator-jacket-and-fedora-wearing scoundrel of a sleuth, with ripoff personality traits of Rick Blaine thrown in, making him the most interesting character in the film, albeit still a stereotype with no real depth. There's Sunshine Goodness (Oh the name!), whose sole character trait consists of being Dex's girlfriend with a sunshiny personality. There's Daredevil Dan, the annoying sidekick who is the annoying sidekick. There's Lady X, the femme fatale who turns out to be the bad guy. And that's about it as far as characters go. That's literally all you need to know, and you understand the entire cast of this film.


The story: it's been done to death, and even then it couldn't be followed. I mean, the story takes place in a world parallel to our own where the food mascots are real, and what happens in the real world has some effect on what happens in the fictional world, sort of like The Lego Movie. Except the rules for this interaction are never clear. It's indicated that the food brands, as personified by their mascots, can interact with the real world, but you don't know exactly how that works. Sometimes they live in an abstract world, but at other times they're running around in the real world and need to physically get across the grocery store in order to check out the manager's computer. When they do this, apparently these abstract entities can interact with humans, but humans may or may not be able to see them. How do they travel from one world to the other? Does their world exist in an alternate universe? Does it exist physically inside of the shelves? The movie indicates that the grocery store aisles physically transforms into a city at night, but I'm not quite sure how this works. Nothing about this makes sense!

I can't even give this film credit for at least having good intentions, like many direct-to-DVD films aimed at children. Among other things, it has fetish humor ("This will be more fun than a spanking!"), which doesn't belong in a children's film. It's also a shameless attempt at product placement, which is probably the only reason that Foodfight! ever existed in the first place. It pretends that it has a moral about not putting "evil products" on the shelves, but I don't know what qualifies as an evil product and how any of this connects to real life. There is absolutely nothing good about this movie, body and soul, so I have to give it a resounding F.

Even so, I insist that you buy it and see it for yourself. This films is an absolute goldmine.


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The LEGO Movie Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, Movies, Reviews Feb 14 2014 · 616 views
LEGOs, username change

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:kaukau: The LEGO Movie turned out to be what I wanted it to be, which is good.  The problem is, how to I begin to explain what my hopes for this film were?  Well first, I certainly wanted something that felt definitive, something that wasn't just a LEGO movie but The LEGO Movie.  It fit the part by having a good story that expertly mixed together a dramatic narrative with plenty of comic relief.  And trust me, there was plenty of comic relief.  There were so many jokes in this movie I would have to watch it twice in order to catch them all.  The dramatic element, meanwhile, intimately incorporated the nature of LEGOs into its character.  This isn't a movie with a bunch of LEGO jokes and gimmicks but an overarching plot that could have otherwise been unrelated to LEGOs.  This is a movie with LEGOs that's about LEGOs.  There is simply no other way that this film could have been made.
 
The beginning of the movie, meanwhile, was a strong note.  The villain gains control of a mysterious device from Wizard Freeman.  Whatever it is, it's powerful and could only possibly be used for evil, and it's called the Kragle.  You know I smiled at that.
 
But that's not the strong note, even though I personally loved the name of the doomsday device.  What I loved was that the opening of the movie made use of giant LEGO sets and made a complex LEGO city filled with movement.  Not only was it visually splendid, but it had a great way of establishing the feel of the universe and the way things worked.  There were countless things going on, enough to make me think that this was indeed the LEGO Movie, the one where they pulled out all their guns and did everything that could ever possibly be done with LEGOs.  The smartest thing about all this, though, was that it was also all put to a theme song.
 

 
Having an establishing sequence set to a song that defines the theme of the movie is a staple of classic movie making, which shows that the makers at LEGO decided to use all their tricks.  The great thing about this song is that it also works as a great description of what LEGO is all about, without necessarily being about LEGOs, sort of like how "When You Wish Upon a Star" works as the official theme for Disney.  It's also catchy enough that I think I could play it for five hours straight.
 
As I said before, this movie is visually amazing, incredibly clever at every turn, uses every single LEGO-related joke and story element you can imagine, and also includes a pretty great reference to BIONICLE to keep us at BZPower happy.  Even the references to things non-LEGO are pretty good and done to far better effect than in movies like Shrek.  I genuinely think that they put everything they could into this movie, and made LEGOs a strong enough theme for a story, that it works well on the big screen.  In fact, I think that this was made for the big screen, and seeing it later on VHS DVD/Blue-Ray would be a cause for regret.  The end credits suggest as much when some of their credits feature LEGO versions of those popcorn bags that you get at the theatres and poor butter on.  So take my advice and see this before it goes onto the small screen.  Especially since you're reading this on BZPower and that obviously makes you a fan of LEGOs.
 
To put it another way, everything in this movie is awesome.
 

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Signing out from the movies!

 
 
In need of a new signature because of this,
The KRAGGHLE!


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Ask Kraggh

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, BZPower Dec 01 2009 · 432 views

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:kaukau: I'd like to thank Dokuma for the idea and for not putting a copyright on it. For this week's theme, there's really no choice, given the current events stirring at the hearts of the community. This is to be dedicated to BIONICLE.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh



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The End?

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle Nov 29 2009 · 299 views
Bionicle
:kaukau: So I've heard that Bionicle is nearing an end. At first I thought this was just speculation, but then the context in which people began mentioning it began to sound much more firm, as if it was fact, not opinion.

There have been many times I've felt like I've been under a rock, but none of them compare to how I feel right now.

To make things clear, I can accept that Bionicle will end. I do not so much feel shocked as I do curious. Bionicle seems to be a successful product. I wonder what the logic of the LEGO company executives made them decide that ending such a successful product would be good for them. It couldn't be because of the sales, so it seems likely that there might be an internal or legal problem. Perhaps they have already explained their reasons, but I haven't got word of it yet. So basically, I'm curious.

I'm also curious as to what will become of BZPower.

EDIT: Okay, I have read the letter. It all makes sense to me now, and I appreciate their reasoning.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh



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Orange Guard

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle Nov 21 2009 · 215 views
Bionicle
:kaukau: Regarding the Bionicle Stars, I was considering buying them all, even though it would have meant a hefty burden on my wallet. Now, I don't think that will be quite necessary if I want to get Tahu to look perfect.

The one little peeve I had with Tahu was his sword hilt guard. It's the color of steel. The rest of the sword - indeed the rest of the set - comes in shades of orange and red. It seems out of place. Yes, the gold one would work much better. However, the set that comes with the golden Nuva shoulder armor is the Skrall, which doesn't look that good to be honest, especially considering that it looks like it should be Tuma and I wasn't a fan of Tuma in the storyline. So it seemed that it might have to go without the golden guard.

All along, I wished that the guard was orange, because it would go well with the rest of the set. Now, that seems plausible. To my good fortune, I acquired such a piece yesterday. Now it would appear that I shall no longer need Tuma, although I might still get tempted by his black Kopaka sword, which has been one of my favorite swords in all of Bionicle. In the end, though, I don't think I will, though, unless I request him for my birthday or something.

In the meantime, I will get all the rest of the Bionicle Stars, Tahu first.

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh



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Berix And Zesk

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, Reviews Feb 12 2009 · 322 views
Bionicle
:kaukau: Now, I don't have pictures, and I only have a few minutes to write this. However, I thought I'd inform you on the sets of Berix and Zesk and what my initial and most dominant thoughts were.

Berix is tall and has the best color scheme of any blue set since Gahlok in 2002. She is the second-best Agori. I also really like her yellow head and her helmet. I have no objection to the colo gold in the set, although perhaps the shield it is part of could have been a better shape.

Zesk is beyond doubt the best Agori. Seriously, I recommend him. His helmet is very cool and it kind of makes him look like a puppy. The tail is perfect, and if you build him like the Zesk Review Rebuttal suggests, his body looks stone-cold awesome. The color scheme is perfect. Overall, he can look like a beast, a demon, a monster, or a simple puppy. Unlike how previous reviews have claimed, he is indeed very posable. Perhaps the head is restricted, but only to the degree where he can't look up. He can still look from side to side. In the meantime, he comes with a great variety of poses. You can pose him with his legs sprawled out, standing on three legs but lifting up his front paw menacingly, pouncing, ready to pounce, and kicking his hind legs like a bronco. Surprisingly, in the last item of this list, he actually has considerably good balance. He looks good from multiple erspectives and I have not found a pose that I didn't adore yet.

Now all I need is a nickname for him...How about Dutch Dog?

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh



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Got Gresh?

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Bionicle, Reviews Jan 15 2009 · 425 views
Bionicle
:kaukau: I finally got him yesterday. In this blog entry, I'm not going to give him an official review of the set, but I'm going to tell you my thoughts and feelings after getting the Monster Gresh that I didn't have when I only had canister images and an advertisement with awesome action but a cheesy announcer. Let me tell you first the process of buying him, which was interesting in and of itself.

I walked to Wal*Mart, in temperatures below zero with killer wind chill, all just to buy Strakk and the two Agori that remain in order to complete my collection. However, the shelves were almost completely barren when I got there. There were no Agori whatsoever, and the only Glatorian available were Gresh and Tarix. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that this brought interesting news. It meant that 2009 was getting really popular if the sets would fly off the shelves just like that. It also told me that the usual buying pattern had changed. Normally, green and blue, according to Bonesiii, rank in the top three when it comes to sales. Within my area, however, they were the only ones left behind. It was an interesting observation, and it also gave me a little hope that this might help the tansets stay tan.

Now, with a little reluctance, I took Gresh off the shelf and went to the front of the store with him. As I have done with all my past purchases since the summer of 2008, I used the check out counter that was being run by my cousin, who I will refer to as Violet. I payed for the set and left.

I went over to the Hi-Vee which was two or three blocks away. That's where I had walked from. My father's car was parked there. As the good old reviews say, I only made it to the car. As soon as I got inside, I used my fingernail to open the canister lid (I haven't clipped them raw in a couple of weeks). Once the lid was off, I reached down and took out the first piece my hand felt. That piece was one of his leaf swords.

This is where the true examination begins. I am glad to say that my first impression of the sword was a good one. It's better than it looks on the canister. I instantly admired how long and slender it was. It truly does have a catchy design. The word that first came to mind was "dynamic", and that word still comes to mind. The colors blend beautifully. I will tell you how they work with the rest of the set, but that will be later.

For now, I will work from the toes up. The feet, in my opinion, have seen their best use they ever have in their three and a half year existence. They go perfectly with Gresh. As I am sure you have noticed, Gresh has a leafy design, but that too I will get to later. For now, I'm just glad that the feet also came in lime green, in which they look very good.

Gresh is the only set to use the Rahkshi calves. This makes him taller than all of the other sets, because all of the others use a calve than is one unit shorter. I suppose it contributes to Gresh's look. Of all the sets, LEGO went with a slender look for him.

His thighs aren't as big of a disapointment as I thought they were. The odd pieces of armor actually look good for him. Overall, Gresh has a leafy look. I like that because it makes him look like he's from the jungle. Had they tried to go with such a theme for any other set, it wouldn't have worked. The double socket joint piece is black, as I could tell ahead of time from the canister pictures, and I am glad to say that it blends in. I always had a philosophy that black worked better than gray because it was a much calmer and more elusive color. That is to say, it doesn't stand out or distract from the main colors.

Now his torso was something to behold. As much as Bonesiii would say that these aren't humans and don't need human proportions, he's still an obvious humanoid and deserves to look impressive by human standards. This torso is a bit more bulked up, and I like that. The chest armor sticks out farther due to the construction of the shoulder armor, and because of it his chest doesn't seem flat. He seems to have some depth. It's great to see this especially because of my basic knowledge of the human muscular system. I can imagine having a latissimus dorsi, or something like it. I can imagine the pectoralis major, the trapezius, the deltoid, and the abdominus rectus. Not only do I imagine muscles, but I can imagine other things, such as a spine, lungs, heart, and digestive system fitting in there. Human or not, this is definitely pleasing towards his overall appearance for me.

His torso is also almost completely black from behind. The only green on it is the chest and shoulder armor. I personally don't mind. For some reason, it looks totally awesome with green. I don't know why. Fortunately, it is also easy to look over, in case the buyer wanted a set where they just wanted green to catch the eye. I think it is also notable that the black is only found on areas on the torso and the parts of the limbs connecting right to it. I'm glad that it is made this way instead of spreading it out. One it's spread out, it begins t look like a secondary color. However, this way it only brings to mind a specific area of his body, and that is the core strength. Now, if it was used for his ankle ball joint, then it might have been a bit distracting to the color scheme, but it is, overall, very conveniently placed so that is is hardly noticeable unless you are looking for in. Perhaps that isn't the right way to say it. It's there if you enjoy the color scheme that way, but you don't see it so much if you like to focus purely one shades of green.

Sprouting from the back is a life counter. I'm sure we've all formed opinions about these before, and I personally like them. I think it looks fairly good on him, and makes his back something interesting to behold as well. Normally, all the focus on a set is set towards making them look interesting from up front and the backs are left to be dull and unattractive. I found it interesting that the Metru chest piece holding the life counter was black instead of a shade of green. I'm not complaining, though. It's my second one so far, and along with the one from Skrall, it should be quite useful for MOCing. I also like hot this adds more depth to him, just like how the chest armor is put a unit forward. It helps his body looks rounded instead of wide and flat like he's some sort of gingerbread man.

From there comes the shoulder armor. This is probably one of the highlights of the set. It's one of the first things you notice about him on the canister. I never liked those Tahu/Bitil leg stuff last year no matter how it was used, but I congratulate this set for actually raising it up to share its time in the limelight (pun intended). It contributes towards his leavf, fern like look, and in the meantime it kind makes him statuesque. It reminds me of an epaulet, or a pad on the shoulders of a fancy military uniform. While I don't imagine Gresh being a high ranking official, at least the look is something I can relate to and doesn't look completely random. It also adds flair to his shoulders.

As for his arms, there's not much to say. Yeah, we have the familiar Piraka thigh armor now on his bicep, which doesn't look that bad. I guess it helps him look muscular, but in a lean way.

Now I am onto his weapons. I'm start with the Thornax launcher. I'm already established that I like the thornax launcher, and of all the Glatorian, the way he weilds his is my third favorite. It's the only launcher I'm seen in all of Bionicle that is held exactly like a regular pistol. It's even the right size and shape. Granted, it only has one bit of explosive ammunition that takes up a large chunk of its muzzle, but it still looks pretty good and I like it better than the manner in which Strakk and Vorox hold their guns.

His shield-slash-swords are interesting, and I'm glad that I have finally reached them. They really complete him. The shield is interesting, but it is by no means my favorite way to equip the pieces. They looks better when as used as typical swords, although sometimes they can be difficult for finding a good pose. No, the best use for them is when he holds them from the plus rods on their sides. They look excellent that way. If he's holding his wrists strait, they align just right along his forearm. It looks like they were built into him, or like they're part of him. It is in this case that he literally makes me think "Monster Gresh". You can imagine them as the creepy fins from a swamp monster or an alien. Or you can imagine him as, most expediently, some sort of plant monster, because when held this way the swords are like his thigh and shoulder armor in that they look like leafy protrusions coming from his body. He looks like a human plant. It is very cool. I also like the image of the built in weapon because I always thought that having weapons built into the forearm was cool. Let's look at some of our famous super heroes, shall we? We have Spider Man and his webs, Badman and his blades, Iron Man and that small missile that blows up tanks, Buzz Lightyear and that wrist laser, and probably many more that are really cool. I just always loved the idea in the way that Bonesiii always likes spiky shoulders. I just like them. However, just so I don't give you any misconceptions, they are not my favorite weapons of 2009. Malum's claws come in first, and Skrall comes in second with his awesome sword-slash-gun. Gresh is a bronze. One last note about the swords, one of the first things I noticed about them was that then he has his arms down, they sword go past his feet.

I will end this on where I end all things, the part of the set which I preserve as the last thing on the construction process. My opinion on the mask is better than I thought it would be. It continues to add to the leafy look with those three things coming out of it, but I was relieved when I also found out that it looked good on its own, too. The spikes flow backward in a suave manner. I don't think I'll mind their pointlessness as far as prose is concerned in making an efficient helmet. The soldiers of ancient timeshad those funny little mohawk things built into their helmets, so Gresh should be able to pass in having three prongs protruding from his helmet with no purpose other than to look good. I enjoy the simplicity on his mask overall, which is a simplicity that reminds me of the 2001 masks. It has its basic shaped and that's about it. The one gimmick that the designers apparently thought that they'd add was a spine that goes up his forehead. I don't mind it. It adds to the jungle look in him, and it can also help him look like some creepy alien if you want to visualize such things. One of the things that stood out to me about the helmet, however, that I couldn't even guess at by looking into the pictures, is that when he looks down, his masks slips conveniently underneath his chest armor just like Malum's does, at it fist in just perfectly. I can imagine him digging his chin into his chest armor when he might particularly want to protect his neck, just like I might dig my chin into my scarf to protect my neck (and hopefully my lips) from these blasted winter temperatures this January.

There's a lot to say overall. Personally, I will give him the honor of being the second best green set of all time. The winner is the classic Lewa. However, Gresh would have pulled off a gold if the Metru green was instead Mata green. I swear, he actually would have. I would have actually admitted that there was a better set than the classic Lewa. If his Metru had instead been Mata, my brain would have blown up because he would look so awesome.

He's definitely taller and more slender than all the other sets. However, it doesn't bother be. I always imagined Toa of Air (or in this case, Glatorian of Jungle) being taller and more slender than all the rest. The classic Lewa was tall and gangly compared to his Toa brothers and sister, after all. This is my consultation for when I see Gresh right next to Malum and making him look like a shorty.

Gresh is incredibly easy to pose if your have his swords in forearm mode. He looks fairly good in most poses and you don't have to struggle to find something you like. Having him interact with other sets is interesting.

I have yet to give my Gresh a nickname, like I have for my other three sets. Malum is Malum Man, the Skrall is Hannibal, and Vorox is Zand, which is Dutch for sand. I'm considering naming Gresh the Monster Gresh, although I'm also having fun posing him wish his Thornax held high, gazing at it from behind his helmet. What comes to mind so incredibly easy when I pose him like this is the image of a Predator holding a human skull. I might be one to something here...

Your Honor,
Emperor Kraggh







Me

Username: Jean Valjean
Real name: People literally don't have names in my family
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, Quarter Hungarian, Eighth Swedish, Sixteenth German and Irish
Physical description: Looks like the eleventh Doctor
Favorite food: Chicken, turkey, and beef.
Least favorite food: Vegetables of any kind
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite singer: Billy Joel
Favorite song: American Pie
Favorite movie: Schindler's List
Favorite TV show: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Favorite play: Les Miserables
Favorite color: Silver
Second favorite color: Brown
Favorite board game: Risk
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Lucky Number: 53
Past-times: Writing, reading, drawing
Political Caucus: Iowa Republicans
Religion: Christian
Language: Iowegian

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