Monthly Archives: March 2018

Ready Player One Review

At the suggestion of a friend I listened to Ready Player One (narrated by Wil Wheaton). I wasn’t really expecting anything amazing, and I wasn’t expecting crap. I got neither, but I am underwhelmed.

Spoilers from this point on.

Ready Player One takes place in a near dystopian future where humanity spends most of its time playing the video game The Oasis. The Oasis is the online RPG where most of the art, culture, scientific knowledge, and anything else you can think of is stored on there with countless people playing the video game at all times. The Oasis was created by James Halliday who was both eccentric and obsessed with pop culture from the eighties ranging from cheesy sitcoms, videogames, blockbusters from the time period, to even Japanese anime and Tokusatsu.

The plot follows Wade Watts, a Gunter (low level Easter Egg Hunter) on his quest to find the three keys that lead to the Easter Egg left in the game data by Halliday in order to gain his company and fortune in a contest to find an heir (kind of like Willie Wonka). Things in Wade’s life begin to change when he discovered the first key leading to the Easter Egg by accident causing a chain effect of many other players in the Oasis video game to discovering that the Easter Egg quest is not a hoax after all.

Along with regular players in the game, Wade also has the competition of the Sixers; employees of the IOI company who aim to win the Easter Egg contest to apply the usual capitalism to The Oasis game and ruin it for everyone. The Sixers have countless resources at their disposal and are willing to even resort to homicide in the real world killing both their targets and innocent civilians that are in their way.

While I didn’t hate the story, I feel like much of the story was devoted primarily to exposition of the world of the Oasis and explaining real life secrets in video games and pop culture with the most obscure references known to only a handful of people at most. After most of the exposition is done the story flows fairly well though; Wade becomes famous by accident, goes from living a shitty home life to a more decent life, gets the girl and loses her (it looks like he eventually gets her in the end though), has a heroic blue screen of death, and saves the day by accident.

My complaint is that we don’t really learn much of the real world beyond the video game (which kind of makes sense because the novel wants us to focus on the game and Wade and his friends defeating big evil capitalists). We don’t know just how awful the real world really is; are all the animals dead? Is there no plant life? How is Saturday Night Live still going into the 2040s, how is the Wil Wheaton administration going? We never get those questions or answers in the novel outside of some minor mentioning from the character Art3mis (the “girl I gotta impress” of the story).

The strongest part of the novel is the pop culture references primarily from the eighties. I was a little shocked that I got more of the Japanese culture references in the book instead of the eighties  culture reference (the writers of Glee would be devastated how little I know of Rush). There really is a little bit of everything the reader can relate to even if the reader isn’t into video games or nerdy related content. If they’re into movies, there’s movie references, tv shows, there’s a reference!

Wil Wheaton’s narration for the audiobook was a nice match for the book; he always kept a humorous tone and was serious when it needed to be. I highly recommend anyone interested to listen to the audiobook.

Views on the film adaption

I was vaguely aware of the film adaption of Ready Player One until recently. I can’t help but feel that Steven Spielberg was going for the last breaths of the dystopian “teens gotta save the world” movie trend that was started by The Hunger Games. Obviously the film adaption can’t stay true to the source material (no chance of getting Super Sentai Spiderman Mecha in this film), but it does look nice to look at so I might enjoy what will be presented to the audience.

While I wasn’t too impressed with Ready Player One, it was a fun and exciting listening experience. I give Ready Player One by Ernest Cline two out of three keys.

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What to do When Your Favorite Celebrity did Something Bad

(note this was written around December 2017, but still fairly relevant)

The first main thing to do is to remember that despite your favorite celebrity being a great Actor/Singer/NewsAnchor/YouTuber/Author/Artist/Comedian/WhateverElseMakesYouFamous is a human being and is flawed just like you and me. They too have their own personal lives and today I will instruct you what to do if someone you enjoy who is famous did something bad and there is controversy involved. No I won’t be throwing out any names or mentioning anything recent, if any of the following examples make it seem like I’m talking a specific celebrity, I might be, I might not be.

First of all no it’s not bad for you to still support your favorite celebrity because we all make bad decisions in life and live with consequences. In these times of crap one would like some support (so long as the lesson is learned and said celebrity is willing to seek help to solve whatever conflict got them in trouble in the first place.) If you are a religious person then it’s fine to pray for your favorite celebrity when they’re in deep shit because you’d do the same for a normal person when they’re in deep shit and you’d like for someone to do the same for you in that situation. If you are not religious, it’s not bad to have the above support for said celebrity that has done fucked up.

You don’t even have a degree in psychology, why are you telling me how to deal with my celebrity being an asshat?

Fair enough, but as someone who watched a lot of VH1 from thirteen to sixteen and noticing a pattern of celebrities having ups and downs more or less has given me an idea of how to react when they did something. Yes there will be a period of time where fans will be hostile towards said celebrity, but it will pass and they can either enjoy a life of obscurity away from the limelight, or they can find a way to redeem themselves to the public if possible.

“Celebrity X” turned out to be a total jackass!

As I mentioned above, these are people, not angels or gods. If someone you like turned out to be a total jackass when you ran into them or at comicon, then maybe they are a jackass, or maybe they’re just tired.

Everyone wants a private life, sure some celebs are active on social media via twitter or instagram, but no one wants to have fans running up to them when they’re trying to enjoy a ice cream cone or some beach time. Yes there are some celebs that will play it cool and take a selfie with you, but please do understand that they are human and sometimes they don’t want the attention and just don’t feel like taking a selfie.

As for the comicon thing; yeah it happens sometimes, conventions can be exhausting for some celebrities though. Place yourself in their shoes; your at a place with hundreds of people who want to meet you, yes it is kind of cool, but then you realize that the word “hundreds” is in your mind. People that have either been fans of yours since they were kids and grew up watching you on tv, or you got famous over night because you lucked out and got cast as a regular on Doctor Who.

Not only are you meeting these fans, but you’re also autographing their stuff, you have to have a quick conversation with them (some fans may even try to stretch the conversation out more than you want them to). Then you MAY even have to do your own panel; you could be doing a panel alone, or you could be doing it with a group of costars in whatever you’re participating in. You gotta keep that positive attitude going!

Now some people might be able to pull this off, most celebs I’ve met on the convention circuit have been pretty chill and very nice about meeting fans. There have been instances though that friends of mine and facebook pages have said some celebrities weren’t so cool at said convention. Well as I said earlier conventions are exhausting; you can’t be “happy happy joy joy” constantly, sometimes you want to go to sleep, but can’t for whatever reason.

There is also the possibility said celebrity is indeed an asshole; a good example would be a basketball player I’ve been in breathing space with a few times at a local comicon. I don’t keep up with basketball, I don’t care for the sport, I only knew of this individual because of his strange antics in the nineties. When it was announced that he would be at a comicon I thought “well that’s weird that a basketball player is at one of these, but whatever” and I noticed while waiting in line to meet Amy Jo Johnson (she is as sweet as honey btw) that his booth had little to no visitors.

I figured “well this isn’t really an environment for fans of basketball, most of the people here want to meet Amy Jo Johnson and the guy who played Darth Maul”, it was later I found out that he wanted to charge fans money just to get in line and meet him in addition to charging money for an autograph and a selfie. After hearing that and remembering that he wasn’t so friendly at the previous year’s comicon, I guessed that this former basketball player is just not a great guy.

“Celebrity X” broke the law!

While it is upsetting to see someone you like break the law, do remember, the law is the law and just because Celebrity X has money or is famous does not mean they are above the law. Yes I am aware there are instances where Celebrity X gets away with breaking either fully or through some sort of loophole abuse (like house arrest or the rich person prison).

Sometimes not getting away with breaking the law is a nice much needed slice of humble pie for Celebrity X and they will better themselves not just for their sake, but their fans. And it can bite them in the ass by making them too expensive to insure leading them to getting less movie roles and having to resort to a “live my life” type of deal where it’s pretty much them charging you to view what most other people would place on instagram for free (there are two has been Celebrity X that do this now.)

Also remember your high standards can be good for Celebrity X; Celebrity X is as much entitled to their opinion as you are, but sometimes your high moral code keeps Celebrity X from misbehaving too much and may even result in them bettering themselves to please their fans.

Celebrity X does not agree with my religious or political views

Get over it. Along with being human, Celebrity X is not tied down to religion; Celebrity X can be christian and heavily religious thus not agreeing with the primarily liberal life of other Celebrity X. Celebrity X can be an atheist and be against your religious beliefs and practices, Celebrity X can be a scientologist and either want to shove it down your throat or just be casual about it.

Same goes for political party, it seems though that most celebrities do lean towards the left side of politics, including some of the religious ones.

Celebrity X is gay, nooooooo! I wanted to marry him!

HAHAHA! He’s MINE NOW, there’s NOTHING you can do to have him now!

Celebrity X had their phone hacked and all their naked pictures are on the internet!

Be respectful and don’t look them up.

Celebrity X is pregnant at a young age!

It happens, if you can, be happy for them and support any decision they make.

Celebrity X did something pretty damn bad

This is where things get complicated, especially with the current sexual harassment and assault situation. Where you’re not sure what to do because Celebrity X did something particularly bad; by particularly bad this can range from beating their wife or husband, doing any form of physical or verbal abuse, sexually assaulting anyone, etc.

You are shocked and hurt and obviously you feel betrayed by Celebrity X, but you can’t bring yourself to hate them. You don’t like what they did and nothing you can say or do will justify their actions and why you’re still a fan of theirs.

In some cases Celebrity X has come out, apologized, and heavily regrets past actions. To some, this is enough, to others it’s not enough. I don’t have any sarcastic wisdom to provide to make this feeling to go away because I’m still trying to get over my own Celebrity X doing something bad. I don’t want to hate Celebrity X, but I’m not happy with them, but I don’t want to make a YouTube video of me burning all my possessions in relation to them (because let’s be honest that’s just petty and a waste of time).

If you can find it in your heart to forgive your own Celebrity X despite them doing something very bad, good for you for being a forgiving person. If you cannot and no longer wish to support Celebrity X, that is also fine because your reasons are just as justifiable.

However in some instances where Celebrity X did something bad, doesn’t care and you are in full support of this, you’re probably an idiot and probably won’t be reading this little blog anyways. But there have been instances where Celebrity X has been getting away with this kind of behavior for years and is now jobless because of it. You are very shocked that they did these awful things for so long and got away with it, it is fine to end your admiration of them on the spot if they did something particularly bad.

Remember that your Celebrity X is a human like you or me and has their own flaws because no one except for Anne Hathaway, David Tennant and Reese WItherspoon are perfect (don’t correct me on that list internet!) Also remember most crimes are forgivable. Except pedophilia, if your Celebrity X is into that shit you gotta end that admiration on the spot.

A Wrinkle in Time Film Review

A few months ago I posted a blog out of excitement for the motion picture adaptation of one of my favorite books growing up (and got me into reading) A Wrinkle in Time. Earlier today I got to sit down and watch the film and see if I would be fully satisfied with this motion picture adaptation of a book close to my heart, or would this be like Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader again?

Spoilers from this point on, I’d much rather you go read the book A Wrinkle in Time first, then watch the film.

First thing is first, I didn’t hate the film. I do heavily feel things could have been handled better than what was presented. Fortunately there is a big steaming pile of things I liked in the film to make me happy that I watched the film and to say that I liked the movie.

In defense of the film though, I knew changes would be made, I knew characters would be adapted out and new scenes and dialogue adapted in. However there are things in the film that bother me. The primary thing being the direction of the character Mrs Whatsit. In the book the Mrs W’s are indeed celestial beings that are wise, kind, and willing to help Meg and Charles Wallace find their father. While the characters of Mrs Who and Mrs Which are still the same, Mrs Whatsit is kind of a slightly bitchy Elle Woods.

She is still very kind and shows concern for the children, but she also looks down on humanity unintentionally and puts Meg down frequently during the film (she also has a ‘thing’ for the now male Happy Medium). My only reasoning for the decision to have Mrs Whatsit put Meg down was to have Meg focus on her own faults more and more since they are needed by the end of the film, but with the reaction Mrs Who and Mrs Which give her, I don’t think that was the intention.

There are a few plot points glossed over or excluded from the film including; the black thing (the entity that created IT and is causing the evil in the universe), the origin of Mrs Whatsit, the whole point of Calvin in the film, and the near exclusion of the planet Ixchel and Aunt Beast. Also Sandy and Dennis Murray are nowhere to be seen, but I don’t think we’re getting any sequels to A Wrinkle in Time.

The film is modernized a bit, Mrs Who quotes some recent historical figures (including Lin-Manuel Miranda) and a more modern setting, to be honest though with the clothing worn by the human characters and the lack of cellphones this film could take place between the 1990’s and today. Along with modernization, some of the darker aspects of the book are removed from the film (I guess in this version of the film CPS would not let any form of child abuse slide so easily).

There is also a lack of clarification between using magic and science; in the novel there is no magic used. The whole point of the Happy Medium was so she could use her crystal ball to find Dr.Murray and expose Calvin’s home life, via a scientific approach. That is to say I do like what was done with the scene and how it helped Meg grow as a person later in the film.

Back to Calvin, I don’t understand his point in the film. In the novel he’s there to encourage Meg and to try to save Charles Wallace, and in later books it’s heavily implied God wanted Meg and Calvin to get married one day. While romance is never a big deal in the book (Calvin and Meg do kiss) it’s almost non existent in the film and instead of sharing a kiss, Meg and Calvin share a hug. As mentioned above some of the darker tones from the novel aren’t present in the film including Calvin’s home life. The book revealed that Calvin was in a abusive household with multiple siblings and a mother who ‘had the hope and joy in her life beaten out of her’. Not sure why this was watered down to Calvin having a verbally/emotionally abusive father, but it does fit the scene fairly well.

Charles Wallace is…kind of annoying, which is also what I got from the book when I was rereading it as an adult, so nothing too bad. Meg was the central focus of the film (obviously) and I am happy what was done with her character; she didn’t let minor things bother her (not having fashionable clothing, caring about her weight, etc), she cared about her family and brother and knew she was intelligent.

Now there’s the near exclusion of Aunt Beast and how the climax of the film was handled; I liked what was there, and I dislike what wasn’t there. While I was happy that this time around IT wasn’t defeated as seen in the tv movie, I didn’t like the exclusion of Aunt Beast in the film. While I am happy Aunt Beast is there in cameo form, I felt that the character would have been necessary to increase the outcome of the climax.

In the book Aunt Beast was part of a race of creatures that had no gender, no eyes, no ears, and no mouth and spoke via thought. Despite the lack communication the species of Ixchel are very kind and loving by nature and heal Meg out of the goodness of their hearts and provide some ammo via ‘power of love’ to have Meg go and save Charles Wallace. I feel that if this scene had been included, it would have made the climactic ‘battle’ between Meg and IT over Charles Wallace stronger. I am also happy with how the ‘battle’ is handled in the film.

In terms of appearance, THE FILM IS BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT! The planet Uriel is such a beautiful portion of the film with bright colors and scenery (gotta love that New Zealand filming location). The clothing and dresses worn by the Mrs W’s are also very beautiful and detailed. I find myself loving Mrs Who’s outfits in the film with one of her gowns having quotes in various languages sewn into them.

The special effects are nice, and I do like Ava DuVarnay’s decision to make the planets visited in the film as alien as possible (no flying centar in this film).

The Removal of Christianity

I had a feeling this would happen, I’m not shocked and I’m not really offended either. Despite what a meme on the internet may tell you, A Wrinkle in Time is not about religion. While there is mention of the citizens of Urial singing a verse from the Bible (Isaiah 42:10-12), Calvin mentioning reading from the book of Genesis to Charles Wallace, and Charles Wallace name dropping Jesus as someone who fought against darkness, the book isn’t as overtly about religion as many think claim it is.

It is also heavily hinted in the book that the Mrs W’s are servants of God in the books, and in some trailers for the film the impression that they serve a higher being is there. I do enjoy the science fiction approach to them this time around with them only being able to exist there there is both physical light and light as in the figurative sense of good in the universe.

Despite the removal of Christianity from the film there is still a strong good versus evil theme with Meg witnessing the large cosmic evil from the influence of of the Black Thing and IT and seeing the small minor evils in the world (Calvin’s abusive homelife, a school bully who forbids herself from eating certain foods so she can be skinny, a stranger Charles Wallace is kind and polite to getting mugged while waiting for the bus, teachers being envious of a promotion for one of their colleagues, etc). The book and the film are able to stand alone without the inclusion of the religion, but I was hoping the line of ‘not to me Calvin, never to me.’ would have been kept in the film.

Marketing

I feel that Disney didn’t have as much faith in this film as many were lead to believe. While it may be a good thing little to no merchandising was released for the film (there are a few coffee mugs, notebooks, and posters with quotes from the film and three barbie dolls of the Mrs W’s. Oh and the obligatory Pop Funko figures, gotta have my pops). This might be because aside from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, live action Disney films have a tragic habit of underperforming and being quickly forgotten about within less than a year (you ever hear of anyone talking about Tomorrowland or Maleficent still?)

I mean I knew about the film and kept close tabs on it from the release of the trailer last year (my poor friends Sam and Myrna had to endure me counting down to the premier of the film), but I’m not really sure if the public was as aware of the film. As mentioned above I kept close tabs on the film even subscribing to #AWrinkleInTime on Instagram, but I don’t know exactly how much effort Disney placed into marketing. Seeing as how my nieces and nephews (who I see usually around weekends alone) were aware of the film, I’d say it was advertised enough.

The advertisements and film did put heavy emphasis on women and young girls being able to change the world and to ‘be a warrior’ which I have nothing against, but that wasn’t really a thing in the book.

All in all despite not living up to my picky standards I did enjoy A Wrinkle in TIme and give it three flying tulip aliens out of five.

Pokemon I Choose You Review

Pokemon has been here for a very, very long time, so in celebration of the twenty fifth anniversary of the franchise a new Pokemon movie was released to celebrate the yearly tradition of releasing a pokemon movie. Unlike previous Pokemon films which are made primarily to advertise the newest pokemon, give sneak peeks to pokemon coming up in the next batch of games, and show one of the new legendary Pokemon, Pokemon I Choose You is a retelling of the first season of the franchise.

Initially many fans (myself included) thought that this was the movie version of the first three episodes or so. We were slightly wrong.

Spoilers from this point on, I can’t Mewtwo these spoilers outside of your head

There was some controversy surrounding the movie over discrepancies between what happens in the film, and what happened in the first season of the anime. The main controversy being that Misty and Brock are nowhere to be seen during the film and Team Rocket having little to no influence on the plot of the film. Another controversy is the inclusion of many pokemon not seen in the first generation of the game series.

However is this actually a good film despite what many other fanboys on forums and reviewers on YouTube say? Well it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it is better than Destiny Deoxys (gosh that movie is so dull).

As mentioned above the film is an alternate telling of the first season of pokemon, but it borrows some plots from the first season and despite being a ninety three minute film, a decent amount of what occurred the first half of the season made it into the film without it being a horrible mess. The plots borrowed from the first season include Ash catching a caterpie that would eventually evolve into a butterfree and be forced to part ways with, and Ash’s relationship with a abandoned charmander Ash rescues. Elements from the second generation of games are also brought into the film concerning the plot of the legendary pokemon Ho-oh.

Although I was a little annoyed with the approach taken for this film, I do like the alternative storyline. I feel it handled some of the aesops presented in the first season a little better with Ash learning that sometimes you can’t win them all in the film despite being a good person and the opponent you’re fighting being a bad person.

The antagonist in the film was a shocking revelation that the main antagonist was the pokemon trainer who abandoned charmander to die in a rainstorm and only desired to become a stronger trainer only catching strong pokemon. Instead of being just a jackass trainer featured in the initial episode featuring charmander in the pokemon anime, Cross (the villain for the movie) is a talented trainer, but only views his pokemon as tools to achieve his goal of catching Ho-oh rather than establishing a friendship with his pokemon.

Of course it wouldn’t be a pokemon movie without advertising one of the new legendary pokemon in the series and this time around it’s Marshadow who acts as an observer for Ho-oh to make sure Ash is indeed a worthy pure hearted trainer (I guess he functions as a PR advisor for Ho-oh or something). Unlike previous films, the plot is not focused on Marshadow and the pokemon is only featured the last ten or so minutes once again challenging the human characters and their pokemon to see if they are indeed worthy of battling Ho-oh.

I do like that the film breaks tradition and only focuses on Ash’s relationship with pikachu and his other pokemon captured in the film. I like that Ash’s relationship with his caterpie is deep, even if some parts of it were a montage, I like that caterpie was useful in each stage of his evolution. I like that charmander didn’t become a jerk as soon as he evolved into charmeleon and so on into charizard. There is even development from both pokemon as they evolve with caterpie evolving into butterfree, but wanting to stay loyal and stay with Ash despite also wanting to go and mate (contrary to a mistranslation, butterfree do not die when mating). We also see just how loyal charmander is to Ash in each stage of evolution and how this trust benefits Ash’s team in the long run of the movie.

New characters to replace Misty and Brock are also featured in the film, they are Sorrel, a young pokemon trainer who wants to become a professor of pokemon (don’t they have college in this universe? Or do all researchers and professors go through the Jane Goodwill approach?) and Verity, a young girl from the Sinoh region exploring the Kanto region for unknown reasons. They’re not too shabby.

As with many of the pokemon movies, the art and animation is beautiful with a beautiful mixture of 2d and 3d animation. The end of the film also has a piano rendition of the pokemon theme song at a slower temple that may or may not touch the hearts of long time fans of the pokemon anime.

While the film isn’t amazing, I feel it’s a pretty decent movie and there are things to like about the film despite not sticking exactly to the source material of the anime. I give Pokemon I Choose You three Pokeballs out of Five.