Sunday, August 11, 2013

Red Hand of Doom in [Legend], Part 1.5

So, yeah, it's been a long time. But, here's the deets on the first real session of our Red Hand of Doom campaign with a bunch of psychotic murderers. We've had several sessions since the first post, and I have a lot of back content, that I'll be posting pretty frequently, hopefully.

Our campaign begins in a hot, dry summer, with devoted cultists of Nerull setting out to explore the Elsir Vale, searching for a rumored vault in Vraath's Keep. And hey, if they find some townsfolk to murder, bonus! The Elsir Vale is an old region, situated along the Dawn Way. The region used to host the Kingdom of Rhestilor, out of Rhest, but nearly two centuries ago, goblins came out of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains and destroyed the decaying empire, but not before being driven off. Now the various territories mostly look after themselves, and haven't had to defend themselves from anything serious in a long time. Unfortunately for them, our PCs are about to enter the scene!

Again, it is a hot, dry day as our three erstwhile, err... heroes are on their way to the nearby town of Drellin's Ferry, the last stop before entering the Witchwood, where Vraath's Keep is supposedly located.

Unfortunately, at a forested bottleneck, with an old farmhouse nearby, six hobgoblin warriors and a Hellhound exit the woods, and begin attacking the party! Soon, a hobgoblin samurai exits the farmhouse to engage in melee, and a cleric and second Hellhound also exit from the farmhouse.

Despite the mook-ish status of the Regulars, they were statted up as full, level one characters. Most of the stats I use are from this thread, at least up to the point where he stops updating it. Several enemies aren't covered there, and I make stats for those, and also I upgrade all the characters to [Legend] 1.0.

The Regulars serve their purpose well, clogging up the battlefield and soaking damage from the real heavy hitters. They don't hit very often, especially since Eldritch draws a lot of fire with his Knight track abilities along with having an ungodly high AC, but their Perfect Defense feat ruins Evening Shimmer and Eldritch's charges to much frustration, and their Heroica abilities give the Bladebearer some much needed bonuses.

The Bladebearer was a disappointment. He failed as a melee monster because Eldritch was able to aggro him almost the entire time. He couldn't hit with any of his flashy combat maneuvers or Discipline of the Serpent abilities because Eldritch has an absurd AC. On top of that, Eldritch hits harder than he does on attacks, and has several auto-damage abilities that hurt the Bladebearer with his small, 5 foot Melee range. The Bladebearer may benefit from a level up in later fights, or, at the very least, [Reach] on his weapons. That would allow him better utilize some of his movement-based abilities, such as The Terrible Swift Lash, Wake, and the entire Acrobatic Adept track to become more of a skirmisher, ducking in and out of melee with the characters, which might enable him to score more hits to activate his Iron Magi abilities.

The Hellhound on the other hand was surprisingly effective, albeit I had to play him differently than intended. The Hellhound came out rather weak in melee after the [Legend] conversion, but his Elementalist abilities gave him powerful, autohit ranged attacks, and the Shadow Blink feat enabled the Hellhounds to teleport through Evening Shimmers absurdly huge melee range, and avoid all attacks of opportunity. Both of them basically harried Evening Shimmer until they were eventually killed by some well-timed Incantations from Swaggalicious, but they served their purpose well.

The Doom Hand Cleric didn't really shine in the first half, but he really came through in the second act. Early on he cast Sanctuary on himself, so remained decently healthy for most of the fight. I kept trying to maneuver him to where the Bladebearer and Eldritch were fighting, to deliver much needed buffs, but I just couldn't get him there.

After the second wave of Hobgoblin Regulars came, and the Bladebearer and both Hellhounds were killed, I knew time was running out, but I still managed to put up a good fight. The Cleric called a retreat closer to the barn, and massed the remaining Regulars around him. He then put up a Obscuring Mist and created a gauntlet, having the Regulars stack up Reckless Strikes and Aid Anothers(I know they don't exist in Legend, but come on, I liked them in 3.5) to actually score a few hits in. All good things eventually come to an end though, and even though the Cleric was able to get in a good Dread Wave and Hammerfall against the party, he was eventually knocked out.

Note how I said knocked out and not killed, mind you. The party dragged the unconscious Cleric to the farmhouse, where after finding worthless gold, a Granite Spike, and some unidentifiable holy symbol, Swaggalicious attempts to convert the Cleric into an undead monstrosity for Nerull. Unfortunately, the ability in question said nothing about the newly-undead creatures being loyal in any way to their sires, the creation of a new Ghoul Cleric led only to a fruitless social encounter that the Cleric attempted to walk away from, and was succinctly murdered for. However, the party did learn of the existence of a hobgoblin organization calling itself the Red Hand.

And that's it for the first session. I'll post some more in a little bit. Sorry I've been ignoring the blog for a while, I'll try to get better at that.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cheese101 reviews: The Conjuring

Okay, I know that I've done a whole bunch of reviews lately but I have to talk about this movie, mainly because of all the buzz it's gotten. Now The Conjuring is not a masterpiece, its nothing groundbreaking, it's not the greatest horror movie since The Exorcist (even though it certainly channels it), what it is however is a very good spooky movie.
Another thing that I want say is that this movie offered an interesting experience for me. This was the first horror movie that I saw in a ghetto movie theater. I have to say, it's exactly how it's portrayed in various caricatures. I was amazed that the stereotypes were that accurate. I have to admit that I did chuckle a few times due to people shouting out things like "Girl don't go in there!" and "I'd be out!" However have no fear this did not spoil my view of the movie.
This movie was based on a true story, believe it or not. And the film felt like it was pretty feasible. Only a few times, like a scene in the climax, did it feel a bit cinematic. Other than that it felt like it could actually happen in real life, which helped to make the film more terrifying.
The screenplay was uninspired and rather bland. There was nothing in the writing that was groundbreaking or even fresh. But the writing was not what made this movie, it was the directing. With James Wan (Insidious) at the helm, he turned a bland screenplay into a truly frightening picture. The shots were remarkable, from a spinning camera, to closed in shots that make you feel like you can't breathe. The so-called master of modern horror, was also the master of perfect timing for The Conjuring. He made good scares into GREAT ones! The suspense and tension in many parts of the film were positively palpable, and Wan used this to sometimes create scares, let the viewers off the hook to make them let their guards down, or even(in one scene)make a joke. Not to mention the effects which were mostly practical, without the use of much digital or CG junk. Wan wanted to make a movie that hearkened back to the old ways of making horror movies, and like I said before it does have a very Exorcist-ish feel to it. Another thing that certainly added to the horror was the music, which was quite creepy. And as a man of faith I'll also found this movie to be surprisingly inspiring.
The acting was pretty good, most of the movie it was incredible and was very effective at making the movie even more believable. There were a few moments where the acting slipped and became pretty bad, but most of the time it was very good.
Now this doesn't make it a masterpiece, the best horror movie of all time, or even the best of the year (that honor, so far, goes to the re-imagined Evil Dead). However this is a very good horror movie, and a very good movie in general. I recommend it, it's a real scare!

The Conjuring gets a 7/10

-Thanks for listening

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Whose Line is it Anyway?" Reboot: Initial Reactions

     So, as of this Tuesday (7/17/13), we have seen the reappearance of "Whose Line is it Anyway", the hit improvisational comedy show that, for one, really defined part of my childhood, as I grew up watching it, and always flocking to it when I discovered the syndication that flitted on and off of the air, or was playing original episodes. The original, nearly decade long run was an absolutely fantastic, albeit cheesy, form of vaudville-esque sketch comedy, that was very much eternally self-aware and had fun with itself a great deal of the time.

Now, the one thing that always defined the show for me, in hindsight, was the relationships of everyone on the show. It felt, very much like a troupe or a family, akin to Monty Python's Flying Circus in a respect. Simply due to the chemistry and the relationships being one of the building points of the comedy, even though the humor ranged from conventional, to absurd, it was all built on the strength of the relationships between the comics in question. Regardless of who was exchanged, switched around, added on, removed, or anything, there was eternal sense of the relationship between the comedians on stage. It lent to a great deal of banter, in-jokes that can easily be picked up on, for even a new viewer, and made it feel like there was a lot of emotion that added on to the strength of the comedy, making it feel natural, letting it flow, and making the points between the games all the stronger and make the show actually feel longer and more lasting, despite the criticism of the sheer number of breaks between show and commercial, to where it cuts out a healthy 10 minutes of the shows running time, rather than most television only sacrificing 6 minutes for advertising. The point is that upon my first viewing of the 2 new episodes of the series, I feel that so far, there is a very missing sense of Family that made the show more than just a good sketch comedy, but a good show in general.

While I won't deny the comedic talent of the new host, Alisha Taylor, or the strength in comedy of the now well-aged returning stars, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mocherie, or Wayne Brady, there is still this sense that, something's been lost in terms of the relationship. The relationship is still strong with the 3 main center-pieces, because they have had a decade to work together, and still share a strong sense of kinship on stage, it's that it feels ... Insulated. Largely due to the current lack of strength of relationship between the host and the cast. This could be due to it being her first real time on the show, and being a host of a show of this particularly original nature, but it still leads to a cauterized whiplash from the details that made the show more light-hearted and easy to connect to.

 There's no banter really between Alisha and any of the cast members, and there isn't the classic ending point to the "Points don't matter", bit at the beginning. Ex. "Welcome to Whose Line is it anyway, the show where everything is made up and the points don't matter, that's right, the point's don't matter, like whatever your girlfriend says while the game is on". There was a constantly chiding sense of friendship, references, and other matter of silly, and at times, topically biting humor that really gave the show a sense of strength, which the first two episodes of Season 9, as I will be referring to it as for sake of ease, sorely lacked. Further, what made the show particularly charming with it's sense of family and closeness, wasn't just insulting the host in a tongue-in-cheek manner, it wasn't just the steadily accrued in-jokes and patterns, it was how the audience was even brought into it a good number of times, with the yelling and audience suggestions, and particularly, bringing in the audience members. Now, it wasn't done EVERY episode, admittedly, but it was a steady and often enough pattern that it became part of the show's "vibe", and was one of the defining aspects that stuck in the mind of the viewer. However, given this is how they kicked off season 9, given a 6 year hiatus on the show, I feel it is something they should have done, which they didn't, to remind the old fans, and the new ones, the tone of the show would be delightfully sarcastic, zany, and very inviting through these relationships, by making the audience a part of the family, and feel as much a part of the show, as the actors, and the host, making it truly genuine improvisation, and really building a strong relationship all around that made it feel Natural.

 The same was done with the celebrities, when they, occasionally, showed up on stage. There presence was natural, defining to the episode, due to it being a rarity, and also didn't make them a centerpiece, but rather, delighted in their style, while letting them into the show's environment, rather that conforming to the reason the celebrity was deemed noteworthy. Further, they were highlighted by being on stage, the Entire time, thus making them feel as if they were part of the Whose Line is it Anyway Family. Season 9 does NOT do this. At all. Rather, what it does is: Has a sketch or two, has the celebrity show up, have the scene conform to why they're famous, they leave, different sketch, they return, sketch related to their area of fame, leaves, different sketch, end-credits featuring celebrity and why they're famous, done.

 Which leads to a major problem in terms of the show's ability to actually have staying power, due to it being focused on the guest stars without making them feel like they are important to the show, leading to a weird issue of focus that just causes the show to feel weaker. Coupled with the lack of relationship inherent to the comedy, and the lack of audience connection to the relationships that really make good improvised comedy, for a show like Whose Line anyhow, leads it feeling weaker and colder and less entertaining.

 Is the improvisation still good? Yes, they still have comedic talent, it's just that it falls behind to the strength of the earlier seasons due to the lack of rapport. I hope they can earnestly build a better relationship soon, over the course of the season, so that we can really get a show that's better than what it currently is. I do admit though, I feel the formula of the celebrity pattern they're using won't fade anytime soon, meaning I might always have this gripe over the show, and the general contrivance that follows their presence always making it feel odd to watch, and make it feel less natural. Where the American Run of Whose Line is it Anyway was founded on creating a very warm atmosphere, that created close bonds with every aspect of the performance involved, whether they be camera men, the host, the audience, and all focused on creating a series of easy to understand and pick up on references, memes, and motifs, each contributing to a very natural feeling to the improvisation that gave it strength in the number of connections that are powerful, but easy to be apart of, whether celebrity or no. The 9th season has decided to become celebrity centric, contriving itself for the guest who dominates the times they are allowed on stage, but is otherwise disconnected from the bonds of the show, and with little interaction between the audience, the host, and the cast, leading to the lack of access to the connection between the triumvirate that is Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, and Colin Mocherie, making it feel as a whole less enjoyable, and less natural, so that it doesn't have the same impact, or create a sense of strong identity that the original had.

 However, I stumbled onto a short-lived GSN series, 1 season, 40 episodes, that seems to keep the relationship going, "Drew Carey's Improv-a-ganza", only 10 episodes are on Youtube, and finding all of them on the internet might be blastedly difficult, but it is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy seeing, as the relationship is still very much there, albeit the show isn't quite as good as the American run of Whose Line is it Anyway, but is still better in terms of the inviting relationship that it provides.

Cheese101's greatest disappointments: Paper Mario Sticker Star

I have always loved the Mario RPGs, ever since I played Paper Mario at a friends house during my childhood, I have thought (for good reason) that the Mario RPGs are some of the most magical and well put together games ever crafted. There are two main series of these; Paper Mario, and Mario & Luigi. Both series great in their own right. The Mario & Luigi Games were always able to make you laugh with hilarious gags, and a fantastic combat system. The Paper Mario games (which I believe to be one of the best video game series right now) are focused on creating deep, unforgettable characters, and surprisingly philosophical story lines. Many were turned off by the Wii's installment in the series, Super Paper Mario. They call it the black sheep of the franchise, even if critics drooled over it. Most of the complaints came from a change in battle systems, from turn by turn in the first two games ( Paper Mario, and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door) to a side-scrolling adventure where you simply whacked your foes. However Super Paper Mario left us with a great cast of characters and the surprising twist of creating Luigi as a villain.
However with the new Paper Mario on the 3DS... Sticker Star... well let's just say my hopes and dreams were shattered. This new installment into the series was handled mainly by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. He had kept his greasy classic style game designing hands off the first three games, but I suppose he couldn't help himself and took the helm of this title. The consequences were apparent. The story, for starters is garbage. It's just like a Mario game's story. Bowser comes and messes stuff up, and it's up to Mario to save everyone. Now this is sort of like the plot of the original except it's a lot more basic and you don't have a well characterized Bowser. The game just takes you through world's with no real reason of you actually being there except just to get through them.
Now let's get to the characters... well there's Mario... and some floating crown sticker thing that tells you how to play the game, and pretty much does nothing else. This is a great fall from the character Tippi in SPM that served a similar purpose but was also a great character and integral to the plot, also she had some kickin character development, I was crying at the end of that game. And another thing that made the first three games so great were interesting party members, whose combat skills and personal story lines had me hooked. But once again, sadly, Sticker Star is not one of it's predecessors. So there are no real or developed characters in the  game, that might have had something to do with the lack of real dialogue. There was the occasional bland line here or there, but all of it's skip-able. The dialogue in the game only goes as deep as the stuff in Super Mario Galaxy (yeah not even as deep as Sunshine, which actually had SOME good exchanges). It was stupid stuff, like "This town sure is cool!" but nothing character or plot building.
To be fair though, the game play and combat mechanics were solid. The mechanic in which you had to collect stickers lying around everywhere to use during combat was nifty. However when you got to boss battles you had to rely more on luck than skill. Being that you HAVE  to hit them more than one time per round, and the only way to do that is by gambling your turn away on a slot machine type mini-game. Also the whole thing about placing down stickers to create effects in the world was cool... for a bit. It then turned into finding that thing again and getting it turned back into a sticker again and then hoping that it's the sticker that the game wanted you to place there. A mechanic that started out cool simply got annoying as the game went on.
Paper Mario Sticker Star was one of the most disappointing games that I have EVER played! It took the greatness of the series and THREW IT ON THE GROUND! If you're a fan of the series than I hope I've persuaded you not to waste a cent on this Mario-clone piece of garbage.

-Thanks for listening

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cheese101 reviews Sharknado

Okay so when I saw the trailer for Syfy's newest B-movie, I was sort of excited. I can't lie I was excited to see this rediculous action romp. I will be reviewing this movie as a B-movie B-movie, not a mainstream movie. But what makes a ssuccessful B-movie? I'll answer that so you can put my review in context. A good B-movie has to have acting so bad it makes you laugh, effects so cheap they make you weak, and plots that sound like they came out of the mind of 7 year old child.
So how does Sharknado do in all of these respects. Let's start with the acting... it sucks, I mean it's absolutely awful, and at times it works in the formula. Unfortunately the thing that stops it, is the plot and story. What we see in the trailer is that it's about a giant tornado that has a bunch of sharks in it. What it's really about is a divorced man that trys to save his family during a hurricane off the coast of California ( this is impossible of course since hurricanes can only form in the Atlantic, the ones the form in the Pacific are Typhoons). While the streets flood a bunch of sharks come into the city and swim around and eat people. So the first hour consists of the characters driving around and being dramatic. The Sharknado doesnt even come into play until the final 15 minutes of the movie, which are by far the best parts. So that already ties into the second point being the plot. The plot of a movie entitled Sharknado should have been centered around the ludirous idea of a tornado with a bunch of sharks in it. Instead Sharknado is a phony drama, the plot is full of yawns and snoozes. The final 15 minutes however were amazing, it's what I was expecting and hoping for. It's full offlying sharks killing people in various ways, and people shooting these sharks as well as slicing them in half with chainsaws. However it was too little too late tp save the story of this movie. Why couldn't the whole movie have been that?
Okay other than that there are the effects, they were pretty laughable and would have worked well with the formula had the plot been constructed better. The lighting was random and inconsistent, the CG was crappy, and there was the most illused stock shark footage I've seen in a film ever.
Overall, Sharknado was horribly dissapointing, it could have been an extremely emorable B-movie, instead it tried to be more than what it was, which was a formula for disaster. Now it's not even that enjoyable to watch. It has failed in it's purpose.

Sharknado gets a 3/10

-Thanks for listening

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Picnic Panic, Chapter 1

Here you have it, the long awaited(?) 1st chapter cum(heh) expanded universe thingy for Susan's Sticky Adventure. Let's fucking do this and never look back. Also fuck this site and its lack of indents.

The phone rang, finally ending in that now all-too-familiar answer. "Susan's not here right now, so why don't you fuck off! *Beep*" Alex sighed, and hung up the phone. Ever since Susan got that goddamn motorcycle, she was always busy.

"Ah, who the hell cares. She's probably just at the ice cream parlor. I'll just go get her, and we can have picnic for old times sake. Also, why the hell am I saying all of this out loud, what the fuck is wrong with me? Somebody make it stop! Ahhhhhhhhh!"

Alex caught himself, and breathed a sigh of relief. Grabbing his jacket and keys, he headed out the door.

The stench of blood and wreckage wafted from the streets, which were in utter chaos. They had been since the Rensfair Incident though, so no big whup. Alex sniffed the air, trying to pick through the various scents for motorcycle fuel. "North", he thought, and began heading that way. Aside from a brief, strange twinkling in the sky, there were no problems and he reached Pop's Ice Cream Parlor within the hour.

Alex stopped. He could smell a strange odor coming from the parlor. Definitely ice cream, but... something else, too. He slowly reached for the door handle, but then...

"Halt!" Came a voice from behind Alex.

He turned, seeing a man dressed in a large purple jacket with a white waistcoat, with epaulettes. He also wore a tricorn hat, and kept a cutlass and flintlock strapped to his side. He had short cut brown hair, and a wise, sad face. The man was flanked by four others, wearing silver outfits with over-sized visors and unwieldy rayguns at their hips. Alex didn't recognize the clothes, but the face was unmistakable.

" What the hell are you doing here?" Alex choked back a sob. "I watched you die, damn it, what are you doing here, old man!"

"Rest easy, child," the man said. "I'm not your father. I am Space Royalty merely adopting this form to speak with you."

"What, did you think this form would make me more comfortable? It fucking doesn't!" Alex shuddered visibly from his memory. "I watched my father die in front of me. Also he was kind of a dick. I am a complex character with lots of emotions!"

The man laughed. "Nah man, we don't really care about your comfort. We just like 'Contact'." There was a shimmer in the air as the man shifted to the form of Carl Sagan. "We really fucking love 'Contact'. Hell, we're not even hideous aliens or anything. We're just humans. Our parents were astronauts who realized that Earth kind of sucks, so they built robot versions of themselves back home and stayed to create the Space Royalty."

"What the fuck is going on here? Like seriously, what?"

The man sighed and looked to the ground. "Look, I'm gonna level with you. I'm Major Thomas Filmore, commander of the 69th fleet of the Space Navy, and I need your powers."

"...Powers? What do you mean by... powers?"

"Your last name is Terrior, kid, don't play dumb."

Alex Terrior sighed. "Fine, you caught me. I'm a werewolf. What's the big deal? It's not like it's the full moon right now anyway. The only werewolf thing I can do right now is smell my crush in there", he pointed to the ice cream parlor, "fucking her motorcycle!"

"Ah, it may not be the full moon down here, but up there" the Major said, pointing to the sky, "up there it always is."

Alex gulped. "So what? If I went to space I'd be a werewolf. You can't control werewolves, they go all insane and wolfy!"

Thomas chuckled. "Oh, Alex, Alex. Rest assured, we can control it. We have the technology."

Alex sighed. "You know what, fuck it. I'm bored, so what the hell, I'll go to space. Let's hit it."

The Major nodded. Then they climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies.


Allow me to start this by saying that, not only will NOT follow my usual posting format, as a Spoiler section is not really needed, because this movie is not as much about narrative as it is about experience, and to spoil an experience for something like this is that which I'd rather not do. The narrative isn't that important to the overall film, as I will state why in as rambling a manner as I can muster.

 Know, that you MUST SEE this Movie. Or I will hunt you down with a 20 story mecha, and pummel your remains into the Earth. Now, to start with, this movie is stupid. Horrendously Stupid. It is balls to the wall, silly. However, this is by far the most FUN I've had at the theaters in a very long time. Not intellectual intrigue, or pretentious fixation kind of fun in the intellectual sense, but just pure, unadulterated, deeply visceral and geeky FUN. I have never gotten to be able to say that any film in particular, and I hope I can say it more in the future, because if more movies follow this basic protocol of "Have FUN" then we may actually be able tor really enjoy movies that aren't trying not to trigger synaptic fire.

 Word of Warning: If you THINK for one moment too long, you may not enjoy this movie.

 Breaking down the movie.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

 One: This Movie has amazing casting with little character. Some of the characters are flat and one dimensional, you can really predict a lot of the characters. Desperately so, and if you've seen ANY Action movie centered on a government organization you have seen this movie. But God DAMN was it fun to watch these characters. They had just enough problems to keep us involved in their stories, while not being too interesting beyond a surface layer. However, some characters were more interesting. For instance, my favorite characters, and in my opinion the most developed, were Mako, who looks like Faith from Mirror's Edge, and the General Pentecost, or as I remember him "General Badass".

 A lot of the casting choices are actually really underground actors, or at leas they aren't famous enough that I recognized them, except for Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Ron Perlman makes a fun appearance as a gangster and scavenger character who actually is important. Even some of the background character designs are absolutely fun to look at, like a highly caricatured duo of Russians, both with bleach blonde Drago hair, and is rocking a beautiful black beard, for this weird whiplash on the sight of him. Even though I claim that the characters aren't that interesting, the way that they structure how the robots work, through neural interface and the concept of "the drift", where memories and sensations are experienced between partners, means that you actually can feel a lot of the chemistry between the characters develop, but just not show a steady bond, which is actually quite clever on the part of the writers given the premise because it gives us far more time to devote to the giant Monster fights over petty "Character development", and all that. That is not what we're about here for Pacific Rim. And that is what makes it special.

Two: The fight scenes were fun to watch, and were AMAZING, and are honestly, what obviously was given the most effort over the entire film, and friendships may be made and broken over which fight scene was your favorite because of the sheer amazing that nearly all of them have. These were what we all came to see it for, what it was made for, and I honestly was squeeing half the time, from the sheer scale and wonderfully silly beauty that these fights have. At one point, they even start doing things as if it came out of a Mecha Anime or a Sentai Series, especially thanks due to the setting having a case of gratuitous Japanese. I don't want to explain these, and why they were amazing. I can't. I might not even do it in the spoilered editions of my musings, because you NEED TO SEE THESE. They are works of geeky art! I sat there wondering after one of them "Can they top this? I think not, this one scene won the movie for me." And Then, while failing to beat my expectation managed to Challenge it with a wonderful show of amazingly silly force! These fights are what Micheal Bay believes he does in his movies, what he wants to do in his movies, but is actually done RIGHT.

 Actually, I could easily tear away from my attempt at organization to give that as a fantastic summation of the film. It's what Micheal Bay thinks that he does, a fun, silly, not that high brow film with amazing special effects, badass characters that are actually funny while managing to straddle a line between caricature and being believable people.

The effects are gorgeous, though the CGI occasionally felt fake early on with the Kaiju monsters, and the constant night fighting actually creates some very interesting luminous visuals, due to the glowing monsters being given runic symbols and such, which made it an interesting panoply of color and glowing blue blood and such. They did a lot of interesting things with the setting, with a background of political conflict, world histories and a setting built on reactions to the existence of Kaiju, and that influencing events surrounding the defense force and so on, it all had a very believable world, despite points where science decided not to existence, some odd bits of causality that can be inferred about Pacific Rim's take on certain issues of scientific credibility, and generally some wacky things.

This is a movie that one does not nit pick, because to do so, does the zaniness a disservice. However, the film as a whole manages to invest one enough to care, while focusing on the major center piece, THE RIP AND TEAR. The setting is interesting enough to be believable, the characters are interesting enough with their various archetypes and fun scenes abounding for each of them, but generally with enough meat to carry them through the entire concept of character development (except, oddly enough, for the "main" protagonist), while the fight scenes are really the center piece of the film and got the most love, with enough around to buoy support and take what could have been a horribly average movie, and by matter of sheer awesome make it a decent movie. If they added more to some of the characters, hell, it could have been a GREAT movie, but it knew what it was.

 It was Roland Emerich in scale, Micheal Bay in budget, and just smart enough to be a good popcorn flick without being dull, offensive, or uninteresting. While the beginning can be seen as slow due to exposition concerns. However, this movie can be nitpicked to pieces, and I did it myself as I was watching it due to odd interplays of science and the limits of believable narrative are stretched at times, it is a simple entity, but a beautifully simple one, unlike most simple movies which fall to eventual blandness. It is very much, actually, like Sentai and Mecha Anime in that regard, it can do beautifully over-complicated, silly things, and be perfectly amazing and embrace that that's what it can be, and what it is.

This is ExtravagantEvil, going Medieval on Bad Movies.
It's almost as if someone added a degree of "grounded reality" to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagaan.

Pacific Rim, we Love you and always will, because you will never change.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cheese101 reviews: Monsters University

I'll start off saying, I didn't like Brave, the target audience was made up of mother's and daughters, and unfortunetly unlike most other Pixar movies, it ddoesn't have much to offer those that don't fall into it's target audience. Actually allow me to correct that, Pixar movies have always had an extremely inclusive target audience. Everyone could walk away happy from a Pixar film and every movie they released was something special. Thus they became the king of animated movies. However that title started to be doubted after  Cars 2 and Brave. Unfortunately they have officially lost it with Monsters U.
Now, Monsters University is not a bad movie. It's actually pretty good. It has quite a few funny moments and the animation is fun and exciting. The voice acting is no problem, it never really is for Pixar, and the story as a whole is nice and hear warming.
Well that sounds great right? Well it has a few problems, the charcters are cute, but hardly memorable, except of course, the ones we already know from Monsters Inc. The comedy is funny, but there is not a really memorable moment in the movie, or for me a joke that I would call histarical. The movie trys to make a lot of jokes that will make adults laugh and a lot of jokes that would make kids laugh. The good old Pixar never made these two mutually exclusive. Another thing this movie screws up with is sticking to their own story from the original. Most were just for cameo purposes, but still it ruined some things in the original movie.
When Pixar makes a movie we compare it to its past works. That may be very unfair, that's true. So let's be fair, Pixar has made many masterpieces, Monsters University is a good movie, but it's nothing special, thus Pixar is now on the same plane as those other animation companies that make movies that are good but nothing special.

Monsters University gets a 6/10

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cheese101 talks about why Christopher Nolan should NOT be involved in crafting DC's cinematic universe

Now many of you may want to react angrily upon reading the title of this post. However I hope that instead of reacting you listen to my reasoning.
I'll start out by saying that Nolan is a superb writer as well directer. And he certainly did  a fantastic job of reigniting DC's cinematic hopes and dreams with writing and directing the incredible Dark Knight trilogy, one that I believe will go down as one of the greatest series of superhero movies ever made. He also was heavily involved in Man of Steel (serving as a producer of the movie as well as working with David S. Goyer on creating the story) DC's newest venture.
Now DC believes that it has a growing fanbase of movie goers and are willing to build their own cinematic universe to compete against their rival, Marvel's, impressive one. DC has already announced their next two projects, Man of Steel 2 (or whatever they're going to end up calling it (Steel Mangolias ~Loki)) and Justice League(woot!).
Now why shouldn't Mr. Nolan be involved in crafting DC's cinematic universe further? First lets look at what Nolan is. As a director, he likes it dark and realist-ish. Something that won't be welcome in a world full of space aliens , murmaids and rediculous heroes. As a writer, he prefers to keep things complicated. both of these things worked amazing with Batman, but Batman is one of a kind and is possibly the darkest most complex hero superhero ever created. However there really isn't another hero that can be crafted like that, definetly not if you are planning on making the atmosphere created in one superhero movie translate into other movies to form a cinematic universe. Added to that Nolan was asked to direct Justice League but declined. He knows that it's not right for him, and I know it's not right for DC, definetly if they want to prove that their superheroes are WAY better than the ones Marvel has. (Them's fightin' words. ~Loki)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cheese101 reviews This is the End

I was originally planning on reviewing Man of Steel, but I noticed that Evil already beat that topic to death, so instead I'll review another film I saw recently. This is the End, was advertized as being an end of the world action comedy. While the action is minimal it certainly doesn't limit this movie from being what it is. That is a drop dead hilarious movie about a bunch of wimpy jerky actors trying to survive the Apocalypse.
This movie was apparently based on a short film called Seth and Jay versus the Apocalypse. Thats virtually what this movie is. Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen are the two main character of this movie. However as most of you would undoubtably know by the trailers, they fins themselves stuck with James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride. All of them playing themselves. Most of them are not likeable people. As they were designed to be, and that generally leads to quite a bit of hilarity.
The plot was also interesting, certainly for a comedy. Not only was there the whole apocalypse thing going on, but there was constant tension between the chacters especially between Baruchel and Rogen, who are friends that find that they've both changed over the years and are struggling to redefine their friendship. On the apocalypse side of the story, the used the biblical end of days as written in the book of Revalations. Its not done well often but I was pleasantly surprised to figure out it wasn't a movie about zombies or aliens.
On things that are wrong with this movie... there really aren't that many negatives. The beginning had a lot of aquard humor, it was funny just not great. Other than that its a great movie, it may not be remembered for years to come but I'd say it certainly was an enjoyable experience and recommend this movie to anyone as long as you aren't  offended by raunchy humor.

This is the End gets a 10/10

So, yeah, this is me.

Hey everyone, it's me Loki_XLII, or as this video tells you, James (curses, you know my real name!). I'm the first winner of Cartoon Hangover's T-Shirt Giveaway contest thingy. I don't win a lot of contests, so this was pretty fucking radical. I also have a terrible sore throat, so I come off as pretty unexcited, or that might just be how I talk, I don't fucking know. But yeah, I now have a free t-shirt!

I'll still probably go naked, though.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Extravagant Evil: Man of Steel ... Heart of Gold, Movie of Diamond Encrusted, Platinum Genius

The Following will have a Spoiler section, and a non-spoilered section.

To start with: I have made a personal vow to see this movie again, just because I am very consumed by many moments in the film that made me really think about it, and surmised it to be an interesting examination on the character.

Man of steel does a lot of interesting things artistically to really try to complete this image of Superman as a concept as much as a character and is very heavy in terms of symbolism. One thing I loved about it is that it stayed very true to the existential roots that really did make Superman in his inception, that of the Ubermensch and all that jazz. They really played those elements well, and had him as an interesting character that played off of Zod in that same existential framework. Zod as a villain really did make sense as a villain for this film, and you need to see it to really see why. I will discuss more in the section I designate for a Spoilerific examination as to WHY it works so well, but for now, know simply that it does.

Further, like a lot of things done with Superman, largely in the comics, they do a lot of interesting messianic imagery with Superman, and it actually feels very aware that the symbolism like that is required for a god-like character like Superman. To the point where I feel they have a lot of fun with the symbolism to both strengthen the character and use it as a means for a viewer to have fun taking in the symbolism if they did really notice it.

This leads to another thing that Nolan did in this that I liked, he really did have fun with this, while being very serious and interesting all the while. His Humor was Subtle. From what I've heard of some reviews, they pinged it for lacking humor, a la the Avengers, but the humor here is more subtle so as not to lead to Tonal dissonance in a very artsy, but main stream accessible film. In fact, as I will highlight in my un-spoilered section of my observations, the worst joke was in fact a more obvious joke out of tonal dissonance.

Now, this movie was not perfect. Far from perfect. However, not too far away to where you can't see the possibilities in your peripheral vision; which is, ironically enough, a very Nietzsche-esque way of describing the movie. Able to see what it could be, perfect, if it had more will power and restraint at times.

The Action scenes are few and far between in this 2.5 hour long epic, which lead to an issue in that the way they reacted was to really over-extend the fight scenes to a point of gratuity at times, to where one grew almost as exhausted as Superman from the fighting in and of itself. While this does deliver on the epic scope required for combat with a god forged in armor of will-power, it does also become a strain because they go and go and go and go, with fire and bullets and speed and dervish, without time for the audience to breathe at times. It builds tension to the point where it just becomes pain through the chaos now and again.

If they gave more slow points in the fights, it could have kept the scale with a natural lull in the action to
marvel at the chaos, which I will touch on in the more open section I'll compose.

The acting was very good, and while I was very hesitant of their choices I really actually appreciated the performance of Henry Cavill, he carried a very compassionate sense of distance and understanding, and really Really fit the restraint needed to define Superman very nicely. Not to mention his face and body type fit Superman's frame nicely and really made us believe that Henry Cavill could fly.

Due to my concerns with the fight scenes the movie develops some pacing issues, but each section in turn, even if the pacing is odd at times create a very interesting and thought provoking experience that actually is fun to watch by really mixing together really well Nolan's and Goyer's writing, interesting casting, and Zack Snyder's familiarity with high paced action and the over the top nature of combat that superman requires.
While it has it's quirks and issues, as such an odd combination is wont to do, it plays it straight enough to not shatter Suspension of Disbelief

I will be examining more closely my praises and issues with the film below.

For those who don't want to See Spoilers,

This is Extravagant Evil, going Medieval on Bad Movies.

- - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Okay, in the beginning we focus on Krypton, which I found really interesting as a concept, and tells his origin as it has been told before. It is a very interesting setting, with very interesting technology. It is very grim and distinctive, with this full plate armor, and very fluid natural technology in the forms of things like self assembling nano technology type ball-bearing building blocks, and a very distinctive landscape composed of a landscape that looks like someone took a comb across the entire landscape like combing the beach in Space Balls, Cranked to 11. It had so many weird elements to it, that it was hard to process all the portions together quite right.
Why is their this giant, overly decorated, archaic council of persons that make Xerxes look subtle, and all this armor and all this technology here and taking this particular shape? Not to mention the wild life being shown and being very odd and just not feeling like it gelled together. This lead to me wanting to see more of Krypton explained and explored, but we know the rules, Krypton is destroyed and all hope is lost, therefore we don't get to see any more justifications for the sheer grimness and austerity that embodies the decaying Kryptonian Empire.

That is another interesting thing that they did, I feel like they made the entire society very grimdark, where Kal-El was the first natural birth in all of history and it all devolved into a caste system of giant genesis tanks due to population limits, on an expanding society that covered thousands of worlds over 100,000 years. Which is still very odd, because why would the empire suddenly decide to contract?

So it does take a lot of liberties with the Kryptonians, and made them more "Noland-y", and I liked it, I just wanted more time to really get these elements all set into each other and really get a feel for it, so that it doesn't feel like they just took a bunch of cool elements and aesthetics and smashed them together and shucked it into a blender.

The aesthetic issue kind of came to a head for me with this odd 4 winged, bird dragon that Jor-El rode at the beginning, for soon after the visceral birth of Superman, we see that the entire society is falling apart as Zod is leading a coup. So, Jor-El rides his 4 winged insect bird dragon over to a "genesis pool", none of this is given context for the first... 45 minutes I'd like to say by the way, and swims down, as he is surrounded by fetuses attached to kelp, and grabs a magical rune covered skull called "The Codex", again, no context until the 45 minute mark. All of these interesting concepts, no explaination, no context, other than "People are dying and it's grim and dark and sad". However, it is very interesting and still manages to give an emotional overtone for what the Kryptonians are like and really gives Zod a lot of initial characterization, based on the emotion of the society, even if the overall chunks have this weird issue gelling as this pseudo-sci-fantasy construct, that feels like a more technologically advanced version of the Imperium of Man at times.

Also: Jor-El is played by Russel Crow, and it really really works. He is the same as he always is. Bored looking, tired, and disinterested. Jor-El is a broken man, no one listened to him, and his people are dying.
It actually makes SENSE that he is played by Russel Crowe with that in mind, and also, he soon after gets stabbed and becomes nothing more than a consciousness uploaded onto a magical flash-drive, so he is a broken down, tired, hologram for the remainder of the film. Once again, this actually makes sense to use Russel Crowe.

After all that, and Superman is sent through the "Phantom Zone" (read: the Warp) to appear at Earth, and Zod is safe from the planet's destructon due to being trapped in said Phantom Zone.

Then, the movie does something really clever. It does not tell Superman's remaining backstory linearly.
It skips to Superman in his 30's. On a crab boat. All of Superman's backstory is explicitly told through select scenes of flashbacks, and they let the fame of Superman's backstory, after having redefined Krypton for a new audience, and clarifying the relatively more obscure facts of Superman's name (Kal-el, all that) they just let the eternal story tell itself at the back of our minds, because we know it, and only show us when things change which I have to Applaud the movie for taking such an interesting direction by not directly discussing Superman, because it knows we know him backwards and forwards.

Through these, they actually do some interesting examinations on Superman's childhood, and half deconstruct his idyllic Kansas existence as he comes to really heavy terms with his powers, and we can see the mental strain that it puts him under, and how as a small child he reacted to the world with fear due to the lack of will-power. Which he eventually tempered of course. They are all done very nicely and really help define the character really Reall well.

He is essentially a drifter who keeps having to leave town after he helps people with his Herculean strength, out of an ingrained fear from his father about causing a panic with his existence, which strengthens the levels of Nietzsche sneaking into this movie, due to the constraints of the lessers and all that. Eventually, he's on an arctic trip with the military uncovering a giant object in the ice, where he meets Russel Crowe and we get a lot of context on the magical rune skull, the diamond motiff, and so on. The ship almost has a very Alien aesthetic with the hallways, and we find out that the S on Superman's costume, which is actually a symbol of the house of his father, is a symbol for hope. Of course, the only point of issue I take is "Why is Superman's Suit and cape on board in holding for 18,000 years?". This is one of the problems with the movie, some stuff you just have to buy and run with, and it does lead into the pacing issues I gave earlier.

This movie likes to expedite scenes that can be hard to write around given their set-up and skip to the next point.

We can talk more on that later as, before the ship is discovered, we get to meet our Lois Lane. She is ginger. She is hot. She is Spunky and curious and everything we want our Lois to be. She is great in this, and I would not have her any other way. Even if she is too stupid to realize the floating sentinel thing on the ship that she followed Superman on to, wasn't there to kill intruders and got whipped in the stomach . Superman heals this of course with his heat vision and dumps her in the snow and runs away. this all happens post exposition of course.

Now, as my immediate mastery over my memory of the plot starts to slip, I'll really start going into a more thematic and 'key scene" break down of the film with plot elements more interspersed.

Soon after Lois manages, through tenacity alone, to track down Superman, we get more reflections on his backstory and the death of his adoptive father, which really does give us a lot of insight into the Superman character again, but very much with a Spider-man element of dedication to it, here we get to see Zod hijack the world communications array and demand Superman, and eventually, Supes surrenders himself,ore t and is for a time, of his own choice detained by the military which leads to another example of the subtlety of the comedy of the movie being based on the sheer power and concept of Superman, like how he tears through handcuffs the military gave him like paper.

Now, before the decision was made, we see a really heavy amount of the messianic imagery, when Superman is discussing with a Priest what he should do, which is serious, but has a level of reaction humor that was well done on the part of the priest, and there's interesting lines like "Should we really trust in Zod", which to me sounded reminescent in "In god we trust", that made me smile personally. This scene highlighted a filming technique that dominated the film. Heavy emphasis on the foreground, blurring the background, and making it less about the setting, than the characters.

This is done a lot with the dialogue with the priest, when the background is just slightly blurred, and shows a stained glass of Jesus. Next to Superman's head, and he talks about sacrificing himself for Man, someone who must bear man's burden. Get the picture?

Eventually, we see that Superman is taken aboard the ship of Zod, and we find out a major diversion from continuity, it is not Kryptonite that is superman's weakness, it is simply the atmosphere OF Krypton and the environment, due to it being a difficult place to live. Therefore, due to him being empowered by Earth's easier environment, what happens is that he is forced into the capacities of their environment, to where it is essentially poisonous and debilitating without it actually being a source of sheer weakness, just relative weakness, which due to the more grim elements of this film, is more than enough and fits the tone.

Lois also gets dragged aboard for some reason, and she has the magical flash-drive that contains Russel Crowe, and he teaches her how to save Superman by screwing with the atmosphere and life support to match Earth rather than Krypton and save Superman.

Then he heads down to Earth, and here is where I start to get a major beef with the movie.

Due to the environment of Earth, a lot of the preserved Kryptons from the war have Super Powers, albeit to less a degree than superman because they haven't the time to concentrate on refining it, which is an interesting weakness also, because when they lose their personal biomes, they develop the Sensory issue that Clark conquered when he was 10, leading to it being a point of dishonor to Zod when his "Breather" falls apart and he's disarmed by this major distraction of X-Ray vision.

Now: Due to this, Superman has to use his powers to kick the shit out of the Semi-Super Super villains.
However,  know that Superman is aware of the scale his powers impact society and is eternally compassionate. He therefore, instead of doing the thing he always does when super-foes appear and lead them out of town to lessen the carnage, he acts Reckless, and insane, crashing into Diners, throwing the villains into trains, nearly destroying his hometown, and Metropolis, in a holocaust of fire and collapsing buildings and gas stations. This is Stupid. Very stupid. He tears apart the city and acts very much in heavy disregard of people he can't see directly, despite his highly refined super vision. I found it very distracting just how long this would commence of the sheer carnage and carelessness, and Superman would simply take it, rather than draw their fire to a less inhabited portion of KANSAS. Kansas. The land of corn fields and dust, and there was nowhere he thought to run to? All the while, indirectly causing mountains of death. Nice one Supes. Nice one.
, w
Now, as I write this, this reminds me of a major point of editing that they did in this movie that I liked, and at the same time, didn't.

They did a good job with the special effects, and really got us to feel what it was like to look at Superman flying around at high speed and punching through walls, and really the feel of speed in combat is there, and it is palpable, and interesting. When Superman learns to fly, this speed is also presence, and we have fun also just switching between Superman moving and his reactions to his new found, will-forged abilities and it really does give us a lens into what it's like

However, a problem occurs. It is hard to process at times. With the initial flying scenes it works very well, but in the scuffle of combat, in a flurry of more realistic/gritty darker colors, it can fall to Micheal Bay syndrome and be hard to process, and it falls into being a flaw I feel in the movie.
We focus a lot on Superman's perspective, and really get a vibe for seeing the world through the eyes of superman, except Speed. And this was directed b Zack Snyder. Slow-Mo Snyder. And he did not think that there was any moment that could not have had fun with Slow motion than Superman fighting Pseudo-Super men? Where everything is incredibly fast combat maneuvers, amid hails of bullet fire, giving a moment to process the punches, and experience the speed of Superman, and his villainous opponents, in comparison to bullets, would be an interesting way to give us a cool moment to breathe and be able to refocus on what's going on.

Another interesting thing, when Superman first felt the Kryptonian environment, he slips into unconsciousness, and through Kryptonian science, they probe his brain and send him into a very interesting confrontation between Superman and Zod, where they learn that Zod wants to rip apart Earth's surface with advanced terraforming to make it Krypton mk. 2. This was done with some interesting and trippy and dark imagery that really sold the issue that Zod and Superman have, and solidifies a major issue that Superman has in this, sacrificing the source to his largest existential question in the name of the people he feels close to is a very palpable issue, and I am truly a fan that they included it, and shows Zod's strength as a villain.

Back to the small-town-fight, there is a female that serves as Zod's right hand girl, and she is DULL when she speaks, she goes on this pseudo-evolutionary-social-darwinist-"morality is for the weak" rant while fighting in a diner and it is another thing I didn't like, was because it both sacrificed her as an interesting mini-boss, but also was just a bland and generic villain speech, which also falls into a problem of bull shit science that the movie suffers which I'll expand on.

Remember the magic rune skull?
It contains the genetic code for every Kryptonian genetic combo that is useful to their society. By the BILLIONS. We were lead to believe it was the magic flash drive. Rather, after Kal-El was born, they tossed it into a collection of Laser beams and stored all their genetic code into superman.
post-natal genetic add ons. By the billions of combos. Each one nesting on his blood cells.

It actually is very interesting for the plot as it makes Zod even more hellbent on killing Superman, especially after, surprise, Supes wins, but makes the plot for them a lot more inter connected which is really Really interesting. It's Still BULL SHIT but I can understand why it was done for the sake of the conflict.

Anywho, Superman saves the day, the Earth is protected, evil  terraforming is stopped, and due to dropping an interdimensional nuclear collision, which suffers from more bullshit science and expedited pacing to really keep the movie moving, they killed all the evil Kryptonians by tossing them back in the Phantom Zone.
Zod SOMEHOW survives.

One last note: They actually do something very interesting during all this, with the giant terraform machine being in Metropolis, they make it feel a lot like 9/11 footage, and get a perfect reaction, and show that humanity does have a good core, which justifies Superman's goal a lot more, and really gives the setting flavor, and has a major emotional weight to it, and was really clever and well done.

Anyway, Zod has lost everything he fought to protect and is consumed by an existential crisis, and lashes out at Superman, vowing to slowly kill everything Superman ever loved, and him, slowly, and quickly advances in mastery of his powers, due to the Will of the Warrior, and he sheds his armor near the end, and flies, more themes of Nietzsche flying around, and the fight is well shot, though is very long, and drawn out, and so on.
Just tears the city apart and costs thousands of lives. Meh.

They land in a trainstation, and Clark gets Zod in a head lock, and a family is cornered in a section of the train station because Zod wants to make Superman mourn the people of Earth just like Zod mourns Krypton.
Shoots eye beams, slowly moving towards them, and Superman, trying to keep Zod's head away from them, divert his aim, Snaps his neck.


Superman kills Zod, by snapping his neck. And Superman just breaks down and cries as a result of this. That moment of existential break down lasts all of 30 seconds, and then it moves on to the end.

This is the scene that made me want to watch this movie a second time.
This is a major moment in Superman's character, and is really fitting with the  Noland way of doing this sort of thing, and I feel like I must examine this entire movie over again because of it, and I believe it was intended to be an accidental neck snapping, but I don't quite know.

This scene really did just solidify the movie for me, and made me realize that there is a lot more to this film than the surface, and is a major tone defining moment. It shows that Superman's ideals must now and again be sacrificed, and when it does, Superman dies inside. It is really my favorite scene because it gives the climax a moment to breathe and settle itself as a question of morales, which is what Superman will always be.

then it ends, it moves on, Superman is left alone after chatting with a US General, and gets a job at the daily planet, after a joke about Superman being hot.

All in all, a fantastic movie that really shows what superman is, despite changing Continuity a lot.
If you HATE Superman, watch this movie, it might just change your opinion on the character, as it shows what Superman is at his core, and fleshes it out really well. It is a beautiful, well made, and despite my criticisms, a fantastic movie that functions more as a perfect experience with interesting questions, rather than a collection of perfect scenes.
This Movie is a fantastic exploration of an interesting character, and while it suffers at times, and falls for occasional issues, it really has a lot of subtle, nuanced and well handled characters that deals with ideas of Human destiny, and the potential of man with willpower, and what we really should define ourselves as, and choose to be, with the importance of these choices being fantastically demonstrated.
This is, a fantastic, multi-layered movie, and one of  THE MOST engrossing films I've ever seen.

this is ExtravagantEvil, going Medieval on Bad Movies.

Campaign Journal: Red Hand of Doom in Legend

I've always been a fan of Rule of Cool's Legend system. It's not my favorite system by any means, but it's fun, and actiony, and pretty badass for what it does, which is rule-heavy fantasy(sorta) action. I want to do a review of it at some point, but not till 1.0 is out, which should be later today. However, I can still talk about some of my experiences with it.

First things first, this is a campaign journal. And yes, it's a campaign journal of Red Hand of Doom, a module that even I can admit is way to overplayed in the campaign journal scene. BUT, hopefully this will be a little different just because we're adapting the module to Legend from its native home in 3.5 D&D. I also happen to be running this module for a completely ridiculous party that may be taking the whole 'D&D characters are just a bunch of murder hobos' joke just a little to far. I wanted to do Red Hand of Doom because it's a module I've started several times but never finished, and I demand closure.
Without further ado, let's introduce the party:

Eldritch: Played by one of my friends who unfortunately doesn't post to the blog, but is in the band, he goes by Duelist on our Let's Plays. He was also a fellow player with me the first time Extravagant Evil tried to run this for us as a play by post. He is resurrecting his character from that failed first attempt. Eldritch is an antipaladin/deathknight kind of guy, mechanically a Human Paladin with the Judgement/Knight/Necromancer tracks. He focuses on autodamaging guys who come near him, and has some powerful fear debuffs that he can stack with the other players. He wields a fuck-off huge Scythe and has a badass magical shield. Plotwise, he aims to claim 999 souls from defeated enemies in order to turn his weapon into a death scythe save his younger sister from the clutches of the death god, Nerull. He's grim and determined, and his new life as a serial killer has left a dark mark on his psyche that he'll never be able to recover from. At this point, he exists only to save his sister, and doesn't care about anyone or anything else. Also he tanks for the party, for some reason.

Evening Shimmer: Played by ExtravagantEvil, who unfortunately knows how the adventure goes, because he's the one who originally tried to run it for us. Despite that, he's decided to make things horribly hard on me by him and everyone else bucking the railroad as hard as possible, but more on that later. Evening Shimmer is a Unicorn, using those somehow strangely-well designed My Little Pony tracks. I believe his breakdown is a Sage with the Unicorn/Disciple of the Crane/Force of Will/Arcane Secrets. He is the only character to take Full Buy In. He focuses on having a fuck-off long horn, and can battlefield control like no one else. When he can get his charges in, he's also one of the primary damage dealers. In the story, he was bequeathed to Eldritch by Nerull to serve as a mount. Unfortunately, Eldritch doesn't really want a mount, and prefers to work alone. But a duel between the two revealed Evening Shimmer's usefulness, and they now travel together, albeit with no mounting. Evening Shimmer seeks to create a cult to Nerull and get all the soul harvesting done at once, and Eldritch is standing by and letting him do that, although he's unconvinced the plan will work, and prefers to just kill when he has the chance.

Finally, there is Swagalicious: Played by a new addition to our group, and not yet a member of the Hans Bachman Band, he's just a guy I met at school that I recruited not to make this a complete slaughterhouse for the PCs. His character is unfortunately less-developed than the other two, but me and him may take some time to create something truly cool. Swagalicious is a Lich Shaman, with the Lich/Incantation/Shaman Spellcasting tracks. He is the groups healer, and despite having the most hp of the entire party as well as cheap, efficient self-healing from the Lich track, he insists on staying in the back. He also has an afro, and acts positively insane around townspeople. He is also working for Nerull with the group, though for more mysterious purposes. He seems to be assisting in creating the cult with Evening Shimmer, but also intends on converting many disciples to the ranks of the undead, which clashes somewhat with the others soul gathering ways.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheese101 talks about Teen Titans Go!

Many of us were mesmerized by the brilliant animated show Teen Titans. We laughed, we cryed, and we were acquainted with several deep and memorable characters. When people heard that there was a new Teen Titans cartoon hitting Cartoon Network, TT fans were praying that it would a continuation of the cliffhanger we were left with at the end of the original show. Instead what was delivered was a goofy cartoon featuring chibi Titans running around everywhere. Thus the new series already birthed a large hate group, before the first epidoe even premiered. When it did most fans of the original saw it and quickly joined the growing population of people that hate Teen Titans Go! Added to that TTG replaced a well liked (and great show in its own right), Young Justice.
I have watched Teen Titans Go!, in fact I've seen every episode out currently, and I have to say I love it! The show may not be the superherosmack down that Young Justice is, or the exciting cartoon that the original was. Instead it's a hilarious journey, in which there is never a dull or serious moment. The humor is in no way childish, sometimes its very dark humor covered up by pretty colors, and smiles, which adds to the hilarity of the show. The animation suit the shows comic tone, and unlike many people I don't see it as a down side. A great plus for the series is that all of the Titans are brought to life by the same voice actors as in the original.
Overall, the hate for this show is blown way out of proportion. I believe that if you open up your mind, not expecting something tthat's like the original then you will come to the same conclusion I have. Teen Titans Go! Is a great show, and I hope it has a very successful run.
And Young Justice fans, I hear that Cartoon Network is planning on doing a season 3. So don't let your anger stop you from enjoying this diamond in the rough.

-Thanks for listening

Friday, May 31, 2013

Celebrity Voice Actors

Following through with what Cheese said, why does Disney have such luck with celebrity voice actors? Disney, primarily Pixar, casts a lot of celebrities, from Woody Allen and Tom Hanks in Toy Story, to Ellen Degeneris in Finding Nemo, to any number of celebrities not known for their voice acting. And yet, their movies are typically phenomenally well-acted, usually because of the life that these celebrities bring to the characters. And yet, when Epic uses celebrities, they show their lack of expertise in an admittedly difficult field.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cheese101 reviews: 'Epic'

So today I saw Blue Sky Studio's new animated feature film. Blue Sky brought us animated classics such as Ice Age, and joyful immersions such as Rio. So how is Epic? Does it join the club of good animated movies along with it's older brothers?
First off let's talk about the back bone of the movie, the animation. For the most part it's beautiful. It creates a rather detailed world overflowing with color. However there are a few problems. And unfortunately they're not that small. On quite a few of the character models the mouth movements don't match up with the voices. The most notable one belongs to the main male protagonist. That's not a very good thing, considering he's on the screen quite a bit.
Next let's get down to the story. Many critics have hazed the plot of this film, I on the other hand have no problem with the main concept of the movie. I actually thought it was pretty cool. There were a few moments that I thought were not very effective in telling a good story however. (SPOILER ALERT)These came mostly at the end of the film. The entire movie was about these guys trying to protect a flower bud in order to let it bloom the new queen. I thought it meant the a new queen of the forest would grow out of the flower. Instead they give the powers of the queen to a two-dimensional extra that breifly stated at the begining of the movie "I wish I could be queen, that sure would be cool!" To which her mother said "That's not how things work." So there's that terrible ending! The movie also suffered from Thor Syndrome, meaning it had a rridiculously rushed romance in the movie just for the sake of having to have romance in the movie.(END OF SPOILER ALERT)
The score was okay, highly forgetable, which isnt a bad thing.
On to the worst part of the movie, the voice acting. The script of the movie was good, it was the execution that killed it. Dialouge felt too rushed, and charcter's voices didnt match thier apperance or personality. Sky Blue also has a bad habit of filling their voice acting slots with big names instead of people that would be good for the voice acting role. So far this hasn't come back to bite them, until Epic that is. What you have is a cast that doesn't know how to voice act, and it turns out to be sadly obvious.
Overall Epic is not a bad movie, it has flaws that stop it from ever being considered greate, but it's still a colorful and beautifully animated film.

Epic gets a 4/10

Fiction: Susan's Sticky Adventure

One day, Susan was going to get ice cream. "Oh man," said Susan, "I just love Iced Cream! Licking it, eating it, rubbing it all over my body..."

"What was that last one?"

Susan turned her head to see the form of Jeffery, her best friend in the whole world who was also a magical flying Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. "Oh, nothing, I just fucking love Ice Cream, man, lay off me. It's not like I masturbate in piles of it or anything."

Failing to detect the lie with his mighty robot brain, Jeffery said "Oh, yes, I too enjoy ice cream. Ingesting it causes my fuel cells to operate at peak efficiency."

"Whatevs, Jeff, just let me mount and ride you all the way to the ice cream parlor."

Jeffery's eyes lit up. He hoped Susan meant sexy times. Alsas, it was never sexy times.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fuck Persona, man

Cheese or whatever yelled at me to post something, and I'm tired, but this blog does need content, so whatever. I like Persona, but here me out.

Have the Persona games ever explored how the main character is kind of a dick? I mean, the game probably isn't meant to be taken this way, but he basically goes around making friends in order to gain magical power ('cause friendship is magic), and like, he doesn't really care about them. He just tries to befriend them as fast as possible to get stronger personas, right? Like, hey, little girl, I'll help you get over your parent's neglecting you because of an impending divorce as long as it'll give me better demons. Or hey, French faggot dude, I'll help you sew, but it better give me wizard powers. Hey, cool, every girl at my school, the sex was great, but I really just wanted to kill monsters. Fuck bitches, get magic.

And you know what, you're protagonist is basically completely vapid. He can create an infinite number of personas, and it's treated like a superpower, but basically, that's just saying that he lacks a personality and can just fake something, right? Like, I want this to be the angle that Persona 5 takes. Most definitely.
I'll post something more sane tomorrow. Or well, maybe not that sane. It's a bit of fiction I wrote earlier this year, I'm sure you all will love it.
Does anyone actually read this blog?
Probably not.
 Love, Loki_XLII  

Cheese101 talks about Hideo Kojima

In case you don't know, Hideout Kojima is the guy that created the amazing video game series Metal Gear. Back when video games were simply another way to have fun, Hideo Kojima made it art. He molded something that could be used as a medium, to express fantastic plot lines and even to express values and beliefs. If anyone has played a Metal Gear game ( especially a Metal Gear Solid game) then you know that there are a lot of aantiwar undertones in the series. However he melts them into the plot in such a way that it never sounds preachy (except maybe some moments of Peace Walker). And if you didnt notice Kojima's touch to the series then that helps to pprove my point even more.
Metal Gear is sort of special to me, before I played the game, I played mostly platformers that had little to no plot. When I played the original MGS my eyes were opened. I learned that video games could be so much more than colorful romps. I have been hooked to the series ever since. I admire it so much, I even consider Metal Gear Solid 4 to be my favorite game of all time.
But more about Kojima, the creator of this universe. I see him as the greatest single video game designer today. No contest. And the great thing is that he's still young not even 50 yet. He decided that he will eventually end the Metal Gear series, which i happen to like the decision. There are even some rumors that Kojima will design and write the next Silent Hill game, maybe he can make that series good again, he's hoping.  

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cheese101 Reviews: Oblivion ( the movie)

So today I went to the movies and saw Tom Cruise's latest flick, Oblivion. I had heard several things about the film and i have to say that they only scratch the surface of whats wrong with Oblivion.
For starters, lets say what Oblivion did right. To it's credit the visuals were absolutely spectacular, some of the best I've seen in recent memory. The set up felt nice, it was slowly easying the viewer into the plot. However, they probably should have kept it hidden for a longer time because once I actually figured out what the movie was about I shrank back in my seat due to disappointment. The set-up was wasted, instead it became a series of sci-fi plot twists, extrememly predictable plot twists. The writing was also sloppy, many plot points contradicted themselves. The script seemed like it was trying to be really cool an complex, but instead I think it turned into a romp in which the writers didn't even know what was going on with the plot. The movie could have been so much better, it could have also been a lot worse. What we have here is a nice case of mediocrity, or worse something that could have been special.
In case you didn't know Morgan Freeman was in this movie, that may come as a shock to those of you that have seen it, because he's only on the screen for a few minutes and his apperance is hardly memorable. Note to Filmmakers: If you have an acting god, like Freeman, then use him.
My final point may be a bit controversial. But Tom Cruise is not a good actor, in my opinion. he plays the same character in every movie he's been in, and that character's name is Tom Cruise. I am not saying that he has never been in a good movie or that Cruise's one character hasn't been a perfect fit in a movie. He has been in some AMAZING movies. But I believe to be a great, or even a good, actor; the actor has to be able to become a different person. Unfortunetly Cruise can't do that.

Oblivion gets a 5/10

Thanks for listening

ExtravagantEvil sends his Greetings.

Good Morning,

The handle on my end of this little consortia is ExtravagantEvil, or Colin, which ever you prefer, and being one of the key founders of the Hans Bachman band, welcome you to our little hole of debauchery and culture.

I will probably posting reviews as will most of our fellows here, but also go tangentially into things more than just reviewing films, music, and my fair share of table top games.
I'll occasionally post some of my own products: Homebrew and ideas/stat-blocks for TableTop RPG's, etc. Most importantly, there'll be philosophical style analysis of things like film, culture, news (if I can bother to watch the Ringling bros. that it is again), and just insights and things that I hope provoke discussion in the comments.

--- ExtravagantEvil

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hey Guys I'm Ryan,

Unlike these losers I don't need a handle. I've known both of these guys since Middle School, making that 4 or 5 years since I've known them. I'm 17 and a Senior in high school. I'm a Gemini, born on June 1st.

I'll probably be doing reviews of my own. I'll probably also blog about news going on, and my personal life. Why? Because Fuck You That's why. For the most part I'm a gamer and a eater, so expect reviews on food and video games.

I'm an aspiring novelist and may post links of what I'm writing later on, make sure to read those! Alright, I'm out. Done with introductions.

 hello everyone,

 I have known the hansbachman band crew for quite awhile. i joined the crew when
I first met Loki_XLII about 4 years ago.

I will also be posting reviews and other things 
like that.

Be sure to check it out.

- Cheese101
Hey, I'm Loki_XLII, and apparently I have a blog now. I've dabbled in the idea for awhile, but I'm not really interesting on my own. That's why my friends, the intrepid rockers of the Hans Bachman Band(we don't actually play music), are going to post here with me! If you want to follow our massive launch to internet fame, you can follow our stuff on other websites, most notable youtube, here( There's not much there, just a couple of shitty Let's Plays, but we're adding new content  very soon, such as some cartoons(if I can draw correctly), some live action stuff(if I can find money to buy a camera), and some even more shitty Let's Plays!

But that's enough about other websites, I'm sure you're wondering what this blog is for. Well, it's really for whatever. As I get busier with my creative endeavors that I plan on doing in the future, it will be helpful to have a site where I can post to keep people up to date on whatever it is that I'm currently doing. I may also use this for the occasional opinion piece, if I'm particularly motivated. I also dabble in fiction, though my real dream is to write for the prestigious world of television. I'll post that stuff here, when I get around to it.

Probably the meat of this site for a while will be reviews. I consume a large amount of media, be it film, television, books, video games, or even the elusive tabletop role-playing game. I also have lots of opinions about media, that I'm sure people will want to read. Reviews will happen a lot, probably any given time that I watch/play something that I want to review. These will not necessarily be current reviews, because I don't have the money to get things when they're up to date. The best I can manage is a Netflix subscription, but hopefully that's enough.

Well, I'm kind of running out of things to say in the introduction, so I'll talk to you guys later. My friends will probably post later on, you'll recognize them by the different handles.

Speaking of handles,