Aug 31, 2016

[Theater] Tribes (Red Turnip Theater)

Red Turnip seems to like choosing plays that are a little disruptive - or at least the sort of hard-hitting content that makes you feel more than a little uncomfortable or it tackles some niche sub-culture such as those suffering from certain medical conditions. And we're not talking HIV here, that's the boring stuff.

Tribes is their latest production of Red Turnip Theater and it's one with a rich collection of problems at its core. It's a story about a character who is deaf. It's a story about another character who hears voices that aren't there. It's also a story o one o the scariest things on a planet - a family with no choice but to live together under one roof.

And that can be plenty scary.

I liked the concept behind this play and there were some notably good moments all throughout the production which is a great thing. There were also problems with the way the story was structured and it suffered from "third act" problems as is the case for many other plays out there.

Aug 30, 2016

[Videos] All the Spells Cast in the Harry Potter Movies

The general people of the internet at large are great at playing around with popular media and come up with some interesting results. We've seen various supercut videos composed of various cliche and tropes and we've seen re-edits of movies to change the tone into something else entirely.

I was not expecting to come across this video, but here it is. And it's at the right level of geekiness to really make it interesting. This is a video that goes throughout the different Harry Potter movies focused solely on all the spells actually cast or at least encountered.

Unsurprisingly, the video isn't all that long. Its not even 10 minutes. And we're talking all eight movies here.

Aug 29, 2016

[TV] The IT Crowd

One of our first full series viewed via our recent Netflix subscription is the full run of The IT Crowd, a British sitcom from Channel 4. At first I thought it would be something like The Big Bang Theory with a bit more of a British flavor, but thankfully it's not just that. It's something else entirely.

Normally I'd review each season of a show individually but British shows are often trickier since they tend to be a lot shorter. And it's not like this wa a show with a seriously complicated meta-plot or anything like that. If anything the show is amazing in embracing how episodic it is. And therein lies a lot of the show's brilliance.

Aug 26, 2016

[Games] Legendary: Captain America 75th Anniversary

Obviously we're pretty invested in the Marvel side of the Legendary franchise. Heck, we're invested in the Encounters side of the Legendary game franchise as well. What can we say? We really enjoy this flavor of deckbuilding! And this little expansion turned out to be quite the delight indeed.

Legendary: Captain America 75th Anniversary is proof that you can made a decent card game expansion based on a single character. Sure, you can argue that the Spider-Man focused Paint the Town Red had a similar flavor, but then again it's not something we typically expect from Captain America, especially given how much of his career intermixes with that of The Avengers.

But yeah, this anniversary expansion has turned out to be one of the more interesting ones and certainly a great addition to any Legendary card game collection. I dare say the little box set is practically a requirement in order to make the most out of your Legendary games, especially given how this really makes your SHIELD card a lot more useful, among other things.

Aug 25, 2016

[Transformers] Megatron and Optimus Prime Get It On In Combiner Wars

Machinima's Combine Wars web series continues with "Unforgotten." This fourth episode seems to continue the thread of the last one of two characters fighting it out because they can with limited effort to further the plot. Sure there's some exposition, but man are all episodes going to be like this moving forward?

Side note, I kind of wish that we had gotten to see more of Megatron fighting the Constructicons. That looks like a worth battle worth exploring further.

But don't take my word for things - check out the episode for yourself below:

Aug 24, 2016

[Games] Futurama: Game of Drones (Android)

I try not to invest too much time into mobile games since, well, life is beautiful and all that. But inevitably one looks for something to do while waiting in queue or while idle for one reason or another and a lot of mobile games nicely address that particular itch. But they don't address that itch for long.

While I'm not the biggest Futurama fan, I eventually gave in and downloaded Futurama: Game of Drones since (1) match-3 games are decently casual and easy to pick up and drop between tasks and (2) Futurama is funny. The combination of the two elements made for a decent enough game with all the frustrations of this game genre.

I played the game steadily for a week or thereabouts while switching between Star Trek: Wrath of Gems on the side. But over time I played it less and less until I've reached a point where I only occasionally venture into it when I remember that I have it.

So let's explore that a bit.

Aug 23, 2016

[Apps] Doctor Who Colouring App

And while I never got into the "adult coloring book" crazy that got pretty popular last year, I am more than a little amused that the folks at the BBC decided it would be a good idea to release a Doctor Who theme colouring app because, why not, right? And the app isn't free either, so you will need to shell out approximately $2.99 USD for it on Android, iOS or Amazon devices.

As much as I love Doctor Who, I'm not sure if this something I'm ready to get into just yet.

But if you're curious, check out the video ad below:

Aug 22, 2016

[Comics] Chrononauts

Skimming over this year's Eisner Award nominees got me rather curious about a number of titles and a related Image sale on comiXology led to me picking up a number of titles. Award nominations and yet another  $0.99 sale makes for a rather deadly combination for me indeed.

Among them was the Mark Millar creation Chrononauts, which appealed to me since it was (1) a limited series, (2) about time travel, (3) and with a nice retro feel to it. And while I normally like my comic book art involve cleaner lines, there was something about the rough look of the covers that got me a little nostalgic for the comics of my youth.

It's easier explore limited comic book arcs like this it means I don't have to invest too much to get a full comic book story experience. Plus I like tracking how many books I've read in a year via Shelfari  Goodreads and a limited series tends to have a clear definition of beginning and end all nice and neat.

Aug 19, 2016

[Games] SimCity BuildIt (Android)

As much as I love board games like Suburbia and PC games like Cities Skylines, one doesn't always have the time or the opportunity to play such games. And sometimes you really just want to build a city despite the other factors getting in the way.

I found myself wanting to scratch that city-building itch and finally got into SimCity BuildIt as a more casual effort to get back into the city-building groove. And while the game is comparatively simpler to play than its PC-based older brother, to call it a casual game may be a bit of an insult. Like the original SimCity before it, you still have to balance diverse elements in order to keep your city functioning. Plus it has EA's usual brand of brutal freemium design that can make it pretty tempting to purchase in-app currency with real-world money.

But that's just how these games go.

Aug 18, 2016

[Transformers] Optimus Prime Versus Windblade

In the latest episode of Machinima's Transformers: Combiner Wars web series. I was not expecting Windblade try and take on Optimus Prime with little regard for herself. And of course Optimus was all noble by not attacking her for as long as possible, although given his size and relative scale compared to Windblade, you wouldn't expect him to be able to dodge her attacks so quickly.

Three episodes in, I have to admit that I wish the animation quality was a little better. Sure it''s a Machinima series so it's not exactly a Pixar creation, but for a series that aims to be totally action-packed, at times the action ends up being jerky and jilted. This fight was generally okay, but it definitely could have gone a heck of a lot better.

But don't take my word for it - watch it for yourself!

Aug 17, 2016

[Comics] Paper Girls Vol. 1

If you loved Stanger Things, then Paper Girls is a comic book title that you should be reading. Even if you didn't get into one of the most talked about shows in a while, you still need to read Paper Girls. It's that good, I promise you.

Admittedly, I only got clued into this title because of (1) the Eisner Award nomination for Best New Series and Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team and (2) the fact that Image put pretty much all of their Eisner nominee comics on sale over on comiXology. And I already had a healthy respect for Brian K. Vaughn given the brilliance of Y: The Last Man and more recently Saga. The man knows how to write a great story.

Plus hey, it's rare that we see a title get nominated for both art and pretty much story and that's a pretty compelling thing. Plus I'm all for more titles that show strong representation of characters other than straight white men without resorting to turning them all into men in drag or something.

Aug 16, 2016

[Movies] The Full Rogue One Trailer

The first teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was actually quite promising and already felt like a decent trailer and not just a teaser. And while I generally enjoyed The Force Awakens, I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to enjoy Rogue One even more.

But man, there's so much good stuff in the full trailer! We get a bit more characterization for some of the weird characters teased in the first glimpse trailer. We have so many shots of the Death Star! I want more of Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma! More gushing statements here.

But don't take my word for it - go watch the trailer for yourself!

Aug 15, 2016

[Comics] The Amazing Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth

Dan Slott managed to do some pretty interesting things since he took over the writing for the various Spider-Man titles. He took the risk of shaking up various elements of what has been traditionally been Spider-Mans primary character arc by taking him away from the Daily Bugle and gave him an actual career as a scientist / inventor over at Horizon Labs. Thus Spider-Man's story started to sound a lot like Iron Man's tale in terms of new technology but with the addition of his spider powers yet none of the insane amount of wealth. You can't get everything.

Ends of the Earth is a particular storyline that ran in The Amazing Spider-Man that was also part of the celebration of Spider-Man's 50th anniversary. And suitably enough, the story featured The Sinister Six, a group of Spider-Man's oldest foes, especially Doctor Octopus.

The looming death of Doctor Octopus was a key event that led to other big changes for the Spider-Man comics. Thankfully things weren't as messy as other arcs such as the infamous Clone Saga that had me quit reading Spider-Man comics to begin with.

Aug 14, 2016

[Movies] Looking: The Movie (2016)

I was never exactly the world's biggest Looking fan, but I had a healthy appreciation for what the show was trying to achieve. Mainstream LGBT representation is a little rare and to get a new series on HBO was still a big thing. But the show was on somewhat shaky ground from the get-go and it was lucky for the show to make it to a second season.

Let's face it - Looking is not the Queer as Folk off these modern times. It may touch on similar themes but I always felt like something was missing to really give the show heart or at least make it feel like it was speaking with the voice of this generation of gay men.

The show did not get renewed for a third season, but instead they committed to a movie to sort of wrap up loose ends. This is that movie. And while this movie didn't exactly change my thinking about this show and some of its characters, it did act as a decent enough end to the narrative for many of thee characters in the show.

Aug 12, 2016

[Books] Blood Rites (The Dresden Files - Book 6)

I have enjoyed the fact that every book in The Dresden Files series of books can largely stand on its own as yet another adventure of Chicago's only wizard in the phone book, it naturally has a bit of continuity. Much like how Discworld novels have an ideal reading order, so do these books. Characters grow and develop over time after all and how things will move forward is where the more interesting stories  lie.

Blood Rites can seem like yet another adventure that involves the quirkiness of the vampire courts, but it's not. This book represents an amazing leap forward in terms of character plot point developments and a heck of a lot of changes for the life of one Harry Dresden.

I like how the book ended up answering a lot of questions that had been floating around for a while without needing to go out of its way to do so. The revelations were all directly tied to the main plot and they helped move the immediate story forward, but they also really did a lot to change how we look at Harry. And that's some brilliant writing right there.

Aug 11, 2016

[Transformers] Combiner Wars Episode 2 - The Council

Machinima's Transformers Combiner Wars continues on with its second episode, We finally get a closer look at the Council of Worlds, which in this incarnation consists of Starscream, Rodimus Prime (who still looks very Hot Rod and the Mistress of Flame. They continue to discuss how best to deal with the threat of the Combiners while another figure spies on them from the distance.

It's not the most exciting episode around and there's a lot of unnecessary establishing shots of Starscream flying about. But it is interesting to see how the Council is responding to things like the battle depicted in the first episode. I also wish they put more effort into syncing mouth animation with the words being said, but that may be expecting too much from a Machinima YouTube-only production.

Aug 10, 2016

[Movies] Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

I have a pretty healthy appreciation for Batman stories and one of the big ones is definitely The Killing Joke. But it's also one of those stories that is so beloved that any effort to tackle it is tricky. One of the more controversial aspects of the DC Comics New 52 reboot a few years back involved messing with some of the continuity aspects established by this story.

So yeah, I was part of the group that was excited about an animated adaptation of The Killing Joke given they had reunited most of the core team that drove the wildly popular Batman: The Animated Series back in the day. So how could you go wrong with such a great and already well-loved team, right?

But of course, some creative liberties were taken with the source material, as has been the habit for many of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies in order to make the source material somehow more appropriate for the audiovisual medium that is the full-length movie. But in this case, some of the changes felt more distracting that they needed to be so much so that it somewhat tainted the rest of the narrative.

Aug 9, 2016

[Videos] John Oliver on the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremonies

I've never been one to get too involved in athletic events, including the Olympic games whether we're talking about the summer games or the winter ones. But it's still a major news event and so one cannot escape encountering it as a headline piece.

But to make the most of things, one might as well focus on the more entertaining aspects of such things given the lack of more genuine interest. And for that we have John Oliver's Last Week Tonight as a great way to filter the news.

And yeah, his bit covering the opening ceremonies for this year's summer Olympics is pretty fun.

Aug 8, 2016

[TV] Voltron: Legendary Defender - Season 1

While my love for robots is most focused on The Transformers, I also watched a lot of different robot-related cartoons growing up. And one of them involved a group of giant robot lions that formed a bigger robot called Voltron. It wasn't necessarily my favorite cartoon, but then I was still familiarizing myself with the anime aesthetic at the time. But I did watch a lot of it and I still preferred the lion team over the vehicle team.

When Netflix announced a reboot cartoon, I wasn't entirely sure how to feel about their show, Voltron: Legendary Defender. Given my general feelings for most things from the 1980s, I don't feel that anything needed rebooting, so that's beyond the point. And I also acknowledge that this isn't the first time someone has tried to re-launch the Voltron franchise given things like the 2011 Voltron Force spinoff series.

But we have this new cartoon now and I was surprised by how much of a learning curve I was feeling in getting to appreciate this show. By the end I didn't exactly hate it, but I did feel things were somewhat lacking for an old dog like me.

Aug 5, 2016

[TV] Stranger Things: Season 1

The 1980's has become quite the gold mind of nostalgia exploitation, especially in the entertainment industry. And I can't really blame them - that generation of kids is all grown up and still falls near that key age demographic of working folks with some money on the side that can be spent on other things beyond base necessities. And thus it only makes sense to keep going back to this period and to see what sticks.

Thankfully, Stranger Things is a heck of a lot more than your typical 1980's nostalgia trip. It's a rather serious piece of storytelling with a gripping core narrative, great characters and all that good stuff. But yes, it is also a clear homage to the 1980's and not just the time period but even the sort of stories and movies that defined the era.

There's a lot things in this series that will seem strangely familiar to folks to actually lived during that time period. You'll see and hear things that give you a bit of deja vu and fee like something you've seen and yet you also know it's completely different. And how this plays out makes for one memorable television experience.

Aug 4, 2016

[Transformers] Combiner Wars Episode 1 - The Fall

The first episode of the Machinima animated series, Transformers: Combiner Wars, is finally out. And while we saw a lot of this in the trailer (the episode is only about 5 minutes long after all), it was still pretty striking to have the episode with an epic battle between two combiners: Computron and Menasor.

But beyond the fight. the mail goal of this episode appears to be setting up Windblade's arc in this series, which is all about her having enough of the destruction that the Combiner War inevitably cause. And she's ready to take things in her own hands to get things done and restore the peace.

Check it out below!

Aug 3, 2016

[Movies] Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

The irony is not lost on me that as I write this review for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first reviews for Suicide Squad have also hit the press and the feedback isn't too encouraging. This movie was met with similar criticism when it came out earlier this year, but many fans were adamant that the critics did not know what they were talking about and probably misunderstood the movie.

And that's a weird way of looking at things - that the movie can only be truly understood by fans despite the fact that the movies don't exactly adhere closely to the original source material. If a movie can only be understood by the people who already love the character then it can't possibly be a good movie? Or at the very least, it's one that does not communicate a complete narrative since the assumption is that only "true" fans can fill in the blanks inherent to the story.

I had low expectations for this movie and I dragged my feet before we eventually caught the movie on home video. I wish we hadn't though.

Aug 2, 2016

[Videos] 107 Facts About Invader Zim

What sort of an introduction does Invader Zim really need anymore? I was definitely one of the stranger cartoons to come out of Nickelodeon, but it's also definitely one of the more memorable ones.

Or maybe everyone just loved GIR.

And Channel Frederator has finally given into YouTube comment clamor to create a 107 Facts video about this rather subversive cartoon.

Aug 1, 2016

[TV] Game of Thrones: Season 6

I will now best remember this season of Game of Thrones as the one that our entire office got into for one reason or another. And while we're not exactly the biggest team around, it was still interesting to see so many different people get into a single show. This included some folks needing to catch-up from a prior season including a few who who were just starting season 1!

This sixth season of the series represented largely uncharted territory as we're already well beyond the thus-released source material. And while the TV series has diverted from the books in a number of ways, not we're at a point when almost everything is new for both TV viewers and book readers alike and one can only wonder how much of what we see on the small screen will still end up in the promised books.

And while a lot of folks have had trouble with the sort of scenes that the show has embraced in recent years, I think this season involved too many key plot points and resolutions that it was hard for most folks to keep away despite past misgivings.

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