In Defense of Tomb Raider’s Quick Time Events

The Tomb Raider reboot from 2013 was fairly controversial for a couple of different reasons, many of which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever read internet commentary about any reboot of a classic games franchise, no matter how well-made. There were two major points of criticism that rang fairly true, though: the game has massive ludonarrative dissonance (I’ll explain what that means in a moment), and the game has too many damn quick time events.

I’m not interested in defending the game from the first charge, because it is a real problem. But I do take exception with the second one, because not only are there fewer QTEs than most people think, the game actually uses them in an interesting way to reinforce Lara’s growth throughout the game.

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Power Rangers Retrospective Part Four: Putties in White Vans

Whew, we’re finally back. Illness and back problems kept this post back for a week but we’re back in the Mighty Morphin’ swing of things! This week, we have no one but TWO monsters specializing in kidnapping children. That kind week, I guess.

Also, Jesus Christ, I didn’t realize how many episodes this fucking show had. Season one apparently has sixty fucking episodes. Holy shit! I had been planning to do the first season at least but wow I might have to reconsider that. That is way too many episodes.

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How I Would Fix Man of Steel

Many people have many different feelings about Zack Snyder’s 2013 Superman film, Man of Steel, but this is my blog so we’re mostly here to discuss my feelings so let me tell you what I think of the movie:

I spent the whole movie alternating between boredom and offense. And not because I don’t like Superman! I love Superman. But Zack Snyder’s vision for Superman is colorless, drab, and almost entirely devoid to the inspirational values that define Superman. And all of that is before you get into my nitpicks with how the film was made, like how even totally static scenes are shot with more shaky-cam than all of the Bourne movies put together.

None of this is news, though. A lot of ink’s been spilled over the past three years about how the movie has problems, and while it does have its defenders, the general consensus seems to be the it’s not a very good Superman film. I’m interested in doing something a little different, though: I want to talk about how I would fix it, without radically changing the plot and without going back to technical nitpicks. There are two points where the story is severely broken, and fixing these would go a long way towards fixing the movie as a whole.

These points are Jonathan Kent and The Death of Zod.

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Manga You Might Have Missed

…and other amazing alliterations.

No Power Rangers this week, for the simple reason that my back acting up delayed Sunday’s post to Monday, which gave me a shorter timeline to pop out today’s post, and the Power Rangers Retrospectives take longer to do than other posts. Instead, I’m going to review and recommend two of my favorite obscure manga series: Double Arts and Qualia the Purple. Both of these are short-running series which can be consumed fairly quickly.

There will naturally be some spoilers within, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

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Fandom, We Need To Talk

We_need_to_talk_Steven_Connie_Listening

Well, it’s happened again. Steven Universe writer/storyboarder Lauren Zuke has been hounded off of social media by supposed fans upset that their preferred ship isn’t the one being teased at the moment. This isn’t the first time a creative force has been forced to flee Twitter after being hit with absurd and uncalled-for harassment – just last month it was Leslie Jones. It’s not even the first time the Steven Universe fandom has done this sort of thing (discussions of suicide within, and then discussed again below), which is absurd given that Steven Universe is about as friendly and inclusive a show as it possible to make without going full saccharine.

I’m not interested in getting into the substance of the complaints made against these people, or any number of others who have endured the same sort of treatment, both because it’s not particularly relevant to their critics’ shitty behavior, and because it serves as a distraction from the main topic: whether it stems from right-wing reactionism or left-wing kookery, too many people within fandom think that they’re within their rights to act like complete shitbirds to other people, and it seems to be getting worse.

A lot of ink has been spilled over this problem, generally identifying the problem as some new attitude of entitlement and usually involving a lot of veiled fist-shaking about those danged millennials being on the lawn. I don’t think that’s correct, because there is absolutely nothing new about the kinds of behaviors which lead to these incidents. What is new, however, is the platform it’s carried on. Tumblr and Twitter alike are terrible platforms for fandom activity, and as a result of fandom largely moving onto them, these kind of behaviors are amplified until they become the dominant form of fandom activity. Hashtag fandom is great for throwing bombs and starting witch hunts; it’s not so great for actually having a conversation.

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On Fight Scenes: Three Things That Make For a Good Fight Scene (and Aren’t Choreography)

I love a good fight scene. Not every story needs to be a slugfest, but I do love a really good session of slugging.

When we talk about fight scenes, we tend to speak in terms of choreography and editing; how the characters move and how those movements are shown to the audience. And those are important, don’t get me wrong! But I want to talk about three other factors that go into a really great fight scene. And I’m going to do it using what I think it one of the best fight scenes ever put to film, the trailer fight from Kill Bill:

God, I love that fight. Unfortunately, this version cuts off before the final confrontation but the only other version of it I could find on YouTube was absurdly low quality, so here we are I guess.

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Power Rangers Retrospective Part Two: TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMWORK FRIENDS TEAMFRIENDS

When we last left off, our heroes had come together as a team of color-coded superheroes with giant robots, and overcame a monster with a flipping incredible design. This week, they learn about the value of teamwork! And working with your friends! And teamwork oh my god can we talk about something else PLEASE.

None of the monsters are as cool as Bones, though. Sad.

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[Review] There Are Stranger Things In Heaven And Earth…

some really incredible poster art depicting all of the main characters

There are some shows that need time to breathe; where it’s not clear until you’ve given it a few episodes to sink in whether or not it’s good. Netflix’s new hit series Stranger Things is not one of those shows. From the very first minute of the first episode, it was clear that I was in for something truly special, and for its entire run of eight hour-long episodes, creators the Duffer Brothers never failed to meet the expectations they had set for themselves. Stranger Things is spooky, touching, well-directed, well-written, and endlessly nostalgic for the eighties. If you want to go in entirely unspoiled, you can stop reading right there, and walk away knowing that it has my highest recommendation, and you should go watch the first episode immediately. If you want to know a bit more, click that read more link. I won’t be spoiling anything major, but there’ll be some minor ones.

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Power Rangers Retrospective Part One: Overbearing and Overemotional

When I was a kid, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were all the rage. Five teenagers with attitude, who put on colored uniforms and fought evil with karate and giant robots? And the robots were dinobots? And they all come together to make an even bigger robot? It was like crack for 90s kids. We couldn’t get enough. I knew all of the rangers’ names and respective colors, their weapons, what their robots were…which is kind of funny, because I only actually remember ever watching one episode of the show (although wiki diving tells me I must have seen at least two, since what I remember combines this guy’s appearance with this guy’s powers ). I saw it over March break when I was home alone, and I remember the monster scared me so badly that after the episode was over, I ran up out of my basement rec room and didn’t go back down for the rest of the day. That I was still so into it despite never actually watching it kind of says something about the power of branded merchandise, I suppose.

For those who were too old, too young, or living under a rock in the early 90s, Power Rangers was a kid’s action show by Saban Entertainment, made by splicing together dubbed-over footage from Japanese Tokusatsu series Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger with new footage of English-speaking actors. The premise: When human astronauts unwittingly release the evil space witch Rita Repulsa from her prison on the moon, her ancient foe Zordon selects five teenagers with attitude to take up the fight against her. When Rita sends down monsters to attack the Earth, these five heroes transform into the Power Rangers to defeat them.

When I decided randomly to start watching the show on Netflix, I did so with an open mind. Sure, the premise is goofy, and I expected the special effects to be terrible, but even if the overall product was lame in general, there might be something interesting there. After all, a lot of shows I loved as a kid (like Space Cases and the 90s X-Men animated series) hold up surprisingly well on re-watch. Maybe this would be one of those.

I have never in my life been so happy to be wrong. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, at least in the first few episodes, is terrible and I kind of love it for it. It’s not simply bad; its disregard for basic storytelling, continuity, and common sense is so baffling that it borders on accidental Dadaism. I’ll give it one thing, though: it’s never boring. Good or bad, it’s a wild ride through sheer insanity.

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