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Lost The Heart

Essays, Not Rants! 313: Lost The Heart   Sometimes it’s hard to explain why something good is so good; why does this one movie work. Other times, you have an example of the same thing executed less well and you’re all “ah, that’s why that one was so good.”   So let’s talk Pacific Rim Uprising, and by extension, the original too. Ostensibly, both Pacific Rim and its sequel are about giant robots fighting giant monsters. What made the first one great, though, was that it was about so much more, ab

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Ta-metru_defender

 

Learning To Write Again

Yesterday I posted the third chapter in my ongoing comedy Good Makuta, Bad Toa. Which is me revisiting a comedy I'd written way back in 2004, when BZP was new and I was... much younger. And I'm doing it for fun, and am having a lotta fun with it.   And I'm also learning how to write again.   See, over the years writing's gotten harder, even as I'm getting better at it and trying to get paid for it. Secret is, writers actually hate writing. And this is me forcing myself to write, and to write som

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Of Men Mighty and Mega

Essays, Not Rants! 312: Of Men Mega and Mighty Mega Man was the video game I cut my teeth on. Well, more accurately, Mega Man X4. It was a tough game that I worked my way through as a kid. Didn’t beat it until at least three years after I got it, but still picked up Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X6 (and Mega Man 8) in the meantime to fight the new bosses, master the new levels, and get my butt kicked time and time again. I got better, beat them, got into the harder Mega Man Z games (look, the namin

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Beauty in Destruction

Essays, Not Rants! 311: Beauty in Destruction   I saw Annihilation this week, which, y’know, shouldn’t really be surprising. I like Alex Garland as a writer (Never Let Me Go is heartbreakingly beautiful, Dredd is a solid action movie) and enjoyed his directorial debut in Ex Machina. Annihilation is science fiction replete with a primarily female cast, so it checks a lot of boxes for me.   And it’s a wonderful film, truly haunting with some moments of absolute horror, but one that is essentially

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Simple Pleasures

Essays, Not Rants! 310: Simple Pleasure   I saw Game Night last night and it’s a delight of a movie. It takes a clever conceit (an immersive game night goes a step too far) and builds on it to great affect. There are some really clever turns that mix with a movie full of a surprising amount of heart and some great laughs. It’s a lot of fun and I really liked it.   I mean, it’s not, y’know, an important movie by any stretch. Like it’s not one that’s gonna go down in the annals of comedy, probably

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Reframing a Narrative

Essays, Not Rants! 309: Reframing a Narrative   So it’s been some time (a week-ish) since Black Panther came out and the mental nerding out has sufficiently subsided that I can have some actual Rational Thoughts about the movie beyond "wow it’s so cool and Okoye is everything." And, go figure, it’s coming down to a lotta thoughts about representation.   And how representation is happening.   But first, a detour to Star Wars. My favorite movie series seems to have enacted a moratorium on white gu

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Wakanda Forever

Essays, Not Rants! 308: Wakanda Forever   So. Black Panther.   Right now, I want nothing more than to geek the crud out about this movie. It’s, wow. Ryan Coogler’s quickly become one of my favorite directors (courtesy of Creed and Fruitvale Station), and this movie is the icing on the cake.   There’s so much to love about it. The plot moves along at a clip pace, so much so that I found myself wanting more when it ended. Its supporting cast is as interesting as its leads, with everyone getting th

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Space Car

Essays, Not Rants! 307: Space Car   There is a car in space right now.   Like an actual road-safe, driven on earth on an actual road, not-originally-intended-for-space car in space. And it was playing David Bowie until it ran out of juice.   So, a while ago, Tesla/SpaceX/Boring Company founder/potential supervillain Elon Musk tweeted that the Falcon Heavy’s test payload would be his own Tesla Roadster. The Falcon Heavy is the latest rocket to come out of Musk’s SpaceX. Which sounds pretty cool b

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Rey and Luke

Essays, Not Rants! 306: Rey and Luke   I liked a lot of things about the The Force Awakens, but easily my favorite addition was Rey, who is undeniably the best. Sure, she's basically Luke Skywalker in the original, except she's someone who's grown up with those same stories and now gets to live them out. It's cool, and she gets a lightsaber and that's awesome.   But The Last Jedi doesn't give Rey some grand adventure. Rey doesn't actually do a whole lot over the course of the film. While Poe’s

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that creative life

Three rejections in three days by three different groups for three different projects.   Woo.   EDIT: Four hours after this was posted, I got another rejection letter!

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But For Adults

Essays, Not Rants! 305: But For Adults   Dennis Villeneuve is currently attached to the latest adaption of Dune. It's an exciting prospect: Dune is a rich novel and Villeneuve has shown himself to be both a skilled director and excellent at adaptations. Arrival was an excellent adaption of a terrific short story, one that managed to make the feeling of the ephemeral come as much to life on the screen as the page. Blade Runner 2049 somehow captured the moodiness of the original while injecting i

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Artistry in Disaster

Essays, Not Rants! 304: Artistry in Disaster   The Room is an awful movie and I adore it. It's terribly made, replete with an incoherent plot and some truly questionable acting decisions, but it also manages to cross that elusive line of terribleness into wonder. It's a movie that makes you ask how on earth could something like this have been made as you delight in the fact that it was. It is also a movie best enjoyed at a midnight screening with a multitude of plastic forks and having imbibed a

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Personal History

Essays, Not Rants! 303: Personal History Exposition is, by nature, a weird thing. In fiction, it is effectively the author, whether through prose, dialogue, or (in video games) incidental environmental encounters telling you stuff about The World you’re visiting. It could be something as mundane as Ted and Jack used to be dating but now Jack’s into Sheila and that’s when Ted decided to quit his job or something as subtly major as "Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. [need better ex

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The Return of The Boyband

Essays, Not Rants! 302: The Return of The Boyband   One hundred and forty-four essays (not rants) ago I wrote about the then-upcoming Final Fantasy XV and how it was frustrating to see an entirely male party, albeit one justified by a space to allow the exploration of bromances.   Anyway, the game came out and all that, and I stopped paying attention to much (any) of the press. Then it went on sale on Amazon for $20 and, after being convinced by my girlfriend ("You’ve been waiting eleven years,

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2017 In Review

Essays, Not Rants! 301: 2017 In Review   2017 has been a year. And it ends in a couple days, so that means it’s time for me to phone it in and post about posts!   Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts   #5: Hanging Out   You know that thing where you talk about fictional characters as if they were your actual real life friends? This post is about how really well crafted characters make you happy just to watch them interact.   #4: Trusting The Story   It’s nice to be able to shut off your brain when y

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Let The Past Die

Essays, Not Rants! 300: Let The Past Die   Part of why I like The Force Awakens is that its characters are, in many ways, Star Wars fans themselves. Rey and Kylo Ren both grew up on stories about the Rebellion and the Empire (though with different takeaways) and so want to live out their version of the stories. Kylo fashions himself into an ersatz Darth Vader, Rey sees the chance to join up with the legendary Han Solo and maybe become a Jedi like Luke Skywalker. The Last Jedi, on the other hand,

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Long Live The Resistance

Essays, Not Rants! 299: Long Live The Resistance   It's really easy to see the original Star Wars as an anti-establishment film. Han, Luke, and Leia are a trio of rebels vying to undermine and overthrow the Man. And given that the movie is a product of the 70s, it just might be intentional. Empire has the Man crackdown on our plucky heroes, and Return of The Jedi culminates in the final usurpation.   Of course, within this framework, any story about plucky rebels can be interpreted as anti-esta

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The Ephemeral and The Sublime

Essays, Not Rants! 298: The Ephemeral and The Sublime Over the years, Hideo Kojima has, because of his Metal Gear Solid games, become one of my favorite video game designers. He's also certifiably bonkers, mixing in discussions of American militarism-as-neo-colonialism in a game where you fight giant mechs alongside a mostly naked sniper who can't speak because of a parasite that uses language to spread (and thus serves as a vehicle for Kojima to discuss how English becoming the global lingua

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Crossing Animals

Essays, Not Rants! 297: Crossing Animals Fetch quests occupy a strange space in video games. They aren't strictly great quests; you talk to an NPC, and then they have you get something for them, or bring something somewhere else. They're usually uninspired and are a transparent effort to pad out the game’s length. Mass Effect: Andromeda mines hours upon hours of gameplay by having the player go to a different planet, talk to someone, and return (for a reward!). Point is, they ain't great.   A

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The Economy (Again!)

Essays, Not Rants! 296: The Economy (Again!)   Star Wars Battlefront II is a really fun game. It course-corrects a lot of the problems of the first one and throws in some fun turns. Dogfighting in an A-Wing and charging through Hoth feel plain fun. But Battlefront II also has a seriously screwed up economy, one that's intrinsically tied to how the game plays.   A lot of contemporary multiplayer games have progression systems, the more you play, the more experience points you get which in turn ca

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Diversity in Middle-earth

Essays, Not Rants! 295: Diversity in Middle-earth   The Lord of The Rings is at once both one of my favorite books and one of my favorite film trilogies. And I don't really feel the need to write another sentence justifying that.   In any case, I reacted with some consternation upon finding out the Amazon was, having attained the rights to Tolkien’s world, developing a new series set in Middle-earth. On the one hand, we get to return to that world. On the other, it's hard to top Peter Jackson’s

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