Jan 30, 2015

[Movies] Jurassic Park III (2001)

There's something about movie trilogies that results in really bad third movies. It's almost a statistical certainty that the third movie in a trilogy tends to be a pretty sucky one. Or even if you go beyond trilogies and just look at any movie with multiple sequels. Things almost always go downhill after the third movie.

Jurassic Park III is a particularly good example of this tragic Hollywood phenomenon. I had almost completely forgotten the fact that I had actually watched this movie several years ago. But going over a few YouTube clips and the Wikipedia synopsis, all the memories started to come rushing back. It goes without saying that it wasn't a pleasant moment of revelation.

Why did this movie even get made, right? After all that had happened in the first two movies, why do these characters decide to go back to these dinosaur-infested islands? Don't people experience trauma? Even beyond trauma, don't people at least learn from past mistakes? Are all movie characters fated to be stupid in subservience to the demands of the flimsy plot approved by the studio executives?

Jan 29, 2015

[TV] How I Met Your Mother: Season 3

At the end of a long work day, a good sitcom is easier to tune into versus a heavy drama. And I totally love drama shows, don't get me wrong - the more complex, the better. But when you spend your working day crunching numbers, crafting proposals and all that good stuff, it's hard to find the mental acuity and just the plain energy to process the more convoluted plots such drama shows have.

How I Met Your Mother isn't a drama. It's a lovely little comedy that plays out like a romantic comedy movie somehow stretched into a TV series. It has its ups and downs in a formula that kind of reminds you of older sitcoms like Friends and yet still not quite like that either. It's still a unique comedic experience.

And as Tobie and I work through the rest of the show several years later than everyone else, there's still a lot to enjoy about it. And thus we continue to move forward, finding some limited degree of escape in this show while we decongest our brains and try to forget all that had been stressing us out at our respective jobs.

Jan 28, 2015

[Games] Munchkin Panic

Munchkin, as a gaming franchise, is pretty widespread by now. Given the seemingly endless versions of their core game, they've had a few tie-in products such as special cards associated with The Guild and even a version of of the game that features webcomic hero Axe Cop.

But last year we started to see the Munchkin brand cross-over into other games with products like Loot Letter, a Munchkin-themed version of Love Letter called Loot Letter. And here we have another case with the Munchkin brand reaching out beyond its core card game with Munchkin Panic, a Munchkin-themed version of Castle Panic.

I had gotten a little interested in Castle Panic after watching the Tabletop episode featuring the game, since I do enjoy a good tower defense game. But I waited around longer since it didn't seem quite as compelling at the time. I guess throwing in the crazy monsters from the Munchkin universe were all that the game needed.

Jan 27, 2015

[Books] The Strange Library

Given all the press around Haruki Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage after its release, it became a little too easy for The Strange Library to escape notice. And given its rather unusual format, it also feels very different from his other releases. And I'm not just talking about it's relatively short length or its creative cover design.

To be fair, The Strange Library isn't exactly a new book - what makes it feel "new" to the rest of the world is the fact that it was only released in English last year. The original story itself had been published in 2005, so as usual we're all playing catch-up with Japan. It's just not immediately apparent why it took so long for an English translation to be released for this particular book.

Then again, it's not like it's easy to find his earliest works including Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, the first two books of his Trilogy of the Rat series of books. No matter how popular an author you are, I guess it's still up to the publishers to figure out an effective strategy for such international releases.

Jan 26, 2015

[Movies] Boyhood (2014)

It's clear that Boyhood is one of the darlings of this year's movie award season. Then again, when a filmmaker takes 12 years to create a single movie, it's hard to ignore it. That's no small feat, and it seems that folks can throw awards at it fast enough. I suppose it's rare enough to encounter a movie with such ambitious scope - and by scope, we don't just mean a ridiculously expensive movie either.

To be fair, it's certainly an interesting project, and one that truly is a masterpiece in its own right crafted with care and dedication over such an extended period of time. The very fact that the movie got completed with its primary cast intact is pretty impressive by itself. This is especially significant given how everyone involved wasn't even under a long term contract since contracts can't span 12 years.

But when you get down to it, it's really a simple coming of age story that nicely captures a key point in the life of a boy. It's a period that is difficult to capture and traditionally multiple child actors are used to film such a period. The unique approach utilized in this movie certainly opened the doors for something a bit more detailed.

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