An Update on My Progress

Now that I’m getting a bit more settled in to my new job, I’ve had a little more time to clear up the various messes that have popped up recently (all the while having to plan for the new ones that will inevitably make an appearance, such is life).

Anyhow, to make sure I keep to a certain degree of productivity; I’ve been using my free time to write out outlines for the upcoming reviews past the Penis Arc. Amusingly enough, I found that even my original Year of Sasuke review failed to catch all of the things that I had issues with despite being dedicated to explaining why that arc was so terrible. It’s kind of amazing how re-energized I feel at knowing I have something new to bitch about. No wonder why SJWs have so much energy.


So About a Certain Movie Coming Out This December…

With about a month to go until a certain franchise about battles in space releases its latest installment, the Disney hype machine has been in overdrive. Casual moviegoers are being inundated by a flood of marketing geared at making sure that butts will be filling seats in December.

As for me, I’m kind of wary given my skepticism of certain revealed elements of the plot and the memories of disappointment associated with the prequels. Let’s go into the latter element for the sake of this post.

I can still recall the major hype leading up to The Phantom Menace, and just how excited seemingly everyone was. There was nothing quite like it. You had nerds and normal people alike open to waiting in line weeks before the movie came out. Mad Magazine was able to dedicate an entire issue to the phenomenon that was Star Wars Mania around the time of the film’s release. You kids who were too young (or not even born yet) might not remember, but it didn’t feel like a movie release so much as an event. Take the hype you see for any product’s release nowadays, and multiply it by a factor of insanity. This was all the more amazing given that the Internet was not nearly as prominent as a means of mass communication as it is today. Kids might think that today’s blockbusters are huge, but if they think that, then it’s clear that they were not around for the original release of TPM. As big as this new movie looks to be, it just doesn’t quite match the madness of 1999. And how could it?

TPM was, like the new movie, released quite a while after the previous film: 16 years, in fact. To know that the iconic cash cow franchise was releasing a new installment after all that time was too amazing to describe for anyone who was a fan of the original trilogy. There was so much excitement as people were willing to wait in line for so long and among such crowded masses that you would have thought that TPM was going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. There was no way it could have met the hype even if it was as good as the unedited version of The Magnificent Ambersons. Even then however, we all hoped that it would at least be on the level of the previous films.

So just like everyone else, I waited in line despite the fact that doing so at the local theater was akin to waiting in line at Disneyland at peak hours. Like everyone else, I was caught up in the frenzy that was the anticipation for a new Star Wars film. And like everyone else, what I got out of it was The Phantom Menace.

Now I sit here with a lot less anticipation and a little wariness. I’ve been burned before. As with many other fans of the originals, I still recall the sting of disappointment that was TPM. I still remember the disappointing follow-ups, but even then, they were merely the cherry on a shit sundae. To think that people had waited 16 years for TPM. No movie could possibly hope to disappoint as many people and as many expectations so harshly. Yeah, Age of Ultron and The Dark Knight Rises* were letdowns, but they didn’t have nearly as high a series of expectations, as huge a pairing of hopes and dreams, associated with them.

But who knows, maybe Abrams will find a way to make a worthy successor to the originals. But until then, I just can’t buy into the hype.

P.S. I might just have done a very bad thing. Yesterday, I caught my mom, who, while not a fan of the franchise, still was into it enough that my childhood included watching (and re-watching) VHS copies of the original movies (and I’m not talking about the 1997 re-release with its edits), watching all sorts of documentaries and fan films pertaining to the franchise on YouTube. She even went as far as to watch the Christmas Special!

Seeing that she appeared to be in the mood for anything Star Wars, I recommended that she check out Red Letter Media’s Plinkett Reviews. After the fact, I wonder what I have done.

* It’s telling that the best thing to come out of the latter film was Baneposting.

Why Movies Based on Video Games Feel Somewhat Pointless

With the Warcraft teaser trailer now out, fans of the franchise are clamoring for a movie adapted from a video game that doesn’t suck. It’s telling that among video game adaptations, the best reviewed are films like Mortal Kombat and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, neither of which I would call anything more than passable. This problem goes way back, with some seriously horrid misfires such as the Super Mario Bros. film that is an adaptation in name only. The most entertainment that one can hope for is something like the Street Fighter movie, which had Raul Julia’s truly legendary swan song of a performance to elevate the movie from campy, but still mostly bad to so bad it’s hilariously good. To be honest though, I think that part of the problem with movie adaptations from video games is that the very change in medium this requires is a seemingly insurmountable mountain in itself.

The thing about video games is that most people don’t play them for the story; rather, they play them for the sake of playing, well, the game. It’s right there in the term “video game.” This isn’t supposed to be a movie or an art piece. It’s a game. If you wanted to make it artistic or cinematic, you’d either call it an interactive whateverthefuck or simply make a movie. A lot of people seem to miss the obvious problem with focusing so much on storytelling in a cinematic mode in a game. Most times, the plot is just there so that players have an excuse to have the characters do whatever it is they do to ensure that the game happens as it does, as in the case of Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja, which asked if you were a bad enough due to rescue the president. While it’s true that some games have decent stories and characters, the fact is, a lot of these games take advantage of their medium to tell a story interactively (the first BioShock, for example, took elements of a video game that players took for granted and then used them in the story in a manner that was genuinely shocking and memorable). One of my issues with games that barely have any gameplay is that whoever made them wasted their time making a poor game when they could have aimed for making an interesting movie or book or whatever narrative-based product. That’s not to say that interactive works can’t tell stories in mediums other than video games.

Take visual novels as an example. Oftentimes, readers are given options where they might make choices like they would in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book or dialogue options. In short, these “novels” give their readers a chance to impact the work to a certain extent. At the same time, visual novels are able to take advantage of the medium. Fate/stay night takes a scenario, then repeats it twice with minor differences at the start that eventually lead to greater distinctions between the three routes available to readers. In contrast to Fate/Zero, which is a more traditional narrative (it was first released as a light novel) that serves as a prequel to the other work, FSN requires reading through all three routes (among other things) in order to develop a full understanding of the story, the universe it takes place in, and the characters, all of which are explored to different extents and from different angles depending on the route. To read only one of the routes is to know only 1/3 of the whole story.

One film that was indeed adapted from a game, and pretty decent in its own right, even if it did take time to become a cult favorite, was Clue. Of course, this was an adaptation of a board game, but the way the film was executed resulted in a product that was a worthy movie in its own right. The casting is in many cases brilliant, and the movie realizes just how silly the very premise and naming traditions of the game are, reflecting that in a farcical tone and multiple endings, evoking the game it was adapted from. Even then however, it was less an adaptation of the game than it was a movie that took the game’s conceits and played with them while adding some more silliness to the proceedings.

This goes back to the matter of video game adaptations. They are in the end just plain unnecessary. Why would I watch a movie about whatever when I would much rather be waiting for this overly long cutscene to end so that I can start playing the game? A story as told through interactive gameplay should be distinct from a story told through a more traditional narrative medium without interactivity like that of a movie. In the end, both mediums are aiming to do different things with their respective audiences, and it’s the failure to recognize this that leads to people scratching their heads when films based on video games just don’t work. This isn’t like when a book and its own adaptations need to be differentiated as different takes on the same basic story. Rather, this is a difference between mediums with completely opposite approaches to just how they interact and are to be interacted with by their audiences.

It’s such a dang shame that people can’t recognize that. And that’s why I can’t really buy into the hype for Warcraft. Despite seeing the budget and the director at the helm, and the potential of finally having a genuinely good film adaptation of a video game, in the end, there’s little point to adapting a game faithfully by cutting out the game.

So About My Lack of Posts…

To those wondering what happened to me, I’m still alive, just busy as hell with other responsibilities like work (started a new job recently and need to get settled in) and responsibilities that popped up (which I’m still not even through with yet). I’m also trying to find time between all of that to finish the next post, which will be a reworking of the Penis Arc review I did a couple of years (was it really that long ago?) back to match my current format.

The good news: I’ve also begun preparations for a full review of the Immortals Arc, so that should have almost entirely new content a la The Kazekage Rescue Arc review.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get things done soon enough. Sorry to those folks who for some inexplicable reason think it worth their valuable time to read my ramblings.