Apr 17, 2015

[Movies] The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

By the time The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King came out in December 2003, a lot of us fans were both excited to see how things would turn out but also sad that this real-world adventure was about to end. After all, this mark three years of having some pretty geeky epic fantasy entertainment to look forward to every Christmas. And now things had come to an end.

In many ways, one can't help feel that everyone was also waiting for this final movie to fully evaluate the franchise. As much as the individual movies were pretty respectable on their own, the real measure of things was to look at the entire epic as a complete story. And it was a lot easier to look at things in this manner given how Peter Jackson had also filmed the movies in fairly quick succession.

Personally, I certainly felt a sense of fulfillment once we had gotten to the end of things. Sure, this third movie isn't necessarily the best one in the trilogy, but it at least gave things a fitting end. It got a little crazy at times and it left you with a weird feeling of things just not wanting to end, but then that's just part of the quirks of this particular fantasy franchise.

Apr 16, 2015

[TV] Adventure Time: Season 3

It's not easy to do season-by-season reviews for an animated series like Adventure Time given how random a lot of the episodes feel. But that's only if you look at things on the surface and over time you'll find some pretty fulfilling story concepts and plot twists woven into the overall narrative. Each individual season may not have a strong theme that ties into every episode, but you do see a steady progression of character development as each episode adds to the overall narrative framework.

At the very least, the show remains a lot of fun and each new adventure provides more opportunities for the different characters to really shine and be themselves. And I really appreciate this balance that the show manages to maintain. The overall plot and the continued development of the character stories are equally important and managing to achieve both says a lot about the creative team behind the show.

And while I don't think there were as many stand out episodes in this season, we still had a lot of fun. It had key moments, but it also had significant reveals about different characters that really affected the path of the show in future seasons.

Apr 15, 2015

[Games] XCOM: The Board Game

I've had a weird history with the X-COM franchise over the years. In the PC world, I've always been fascinated by the story behind the game. It's a classic science fiction concept after all - humans trying to deal with alien abductions all around the planet. The slow crawl of fighting alien UFOs, defeating alien ground troops, and salvaging their technology all made for a compelling game. The turn-based nature really drove the strategic element of the whole thing, although it had one heck of a learning curve. And the slow crawl through unexplored alien landing sites led to a lot of creepy moments. The X-COM games really created a distinct experience and I'm thankful the games were made to begin with.

When news of a board game based on the franchise came out, admittedly I was pretty excited. I wanted to see how they were going to translate the various strategic layers of the game including resource management and squad-based tactics all in a static board game. As things progressed, news that the game was going to require an app to run the different scenarios certainly upped my curiosity factor and it certainly provided new ways to make this game even more unique.

Apr 14, 2015

[Books] Dream Stalkers

So I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Night Terrors when it first came up in my NetGally review queue. The cover had a clown of all things and that's not something you eagerly look for. And that was probably the appropriate reaction since the cover is meant to depict a nightmare clown. And his name is Jinx.

Admittedly what had prompted me to get through Night Terrors sooner rather than later was the fact that Dream Stalkers, the follow-up novel in the Shadow Watch series was already in my review queue. And hey, a book franchise that is already able to build up into a full series feels like something that deserves more of chance than the average one-shot.

And while Night Terrors wasn't quite a home run, I was still pretty fascinating by the setting as a whole. Waggoner seems to have a good thing going here, for as long as he can provide good adventures for our pair of Shadow Watch officers to get into. And that's what this second book really represents - a test of how well these characters can continue to fare in new adventures.

Apr 13, 2015

[Movies] Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher was definitely one of the stranger movies to come out of the recent award season. It was one of those movies that was certainly impressive for different reasons and you know that they were out to accomplish something pretty serious here. But at the same time it felt like something a little tiring or at least a little too dark for my tastes. Then again, it's hard to wrap one's head around the fact that these events generally happened and so some of the bad stuff that happened has to be viewed through a different lens.

I'm no Channing Tatum expert, but I feel like this was probably his most serious project to date. He tends to get involved more in romance pieces or comical action movies and this was just an entirely different animal. At first I kind of hoped that this movie would somewhat lighter.

But then again, comedies do not typically make it far in the various awards competitions so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. And the result is a movie of a different color entirely.

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