Jun 192014
 

Welcome to the second installment of June’s JUST GO SEE IT: Review and Rethink Edition! Up for another look this week is How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to the animated adventure that featured…you guessed it: dragons! I’ll try to avoid any spoilers again, though to be fair, the trailers for this movie are quite spoiler-y on their own!

While the first How to Train Your Dragon focused on the emerging peace between the people of Berk and the dragons they had seen as mortal enemies for so long, the second movie begins with a scene that quickly illustrates just how integrated into Berk’s existence the creatures have become since Hiccup and Toothless befriended each other. In the scene, several of the characters from the first movie are taking part in a competitive game where they ride their dragons around the island, collect live sheep, and throw them into baskets for points. The island is conspicuously empty in the first few frames of the movie, but as the characters begin to score points, we see that the only reason for this is that all of the Berks (Berk-ites? Berkies?) are gathered in the grandstands around the goal area, cheering on their favorite dragon-Berk team – it’s clearly a popular community event.

CastBuncha cool kids.

Other scenes showed the dragons taking part in daily life in more constructive ways that don’t depend on their ability to fly. One such scene features a big, fat, lazy dragon, who we find plopped down, slumbering in the middle of the blacksmith’s shop. The blacksmith walks into the area, and playfully shouts at the dragon for falling asleep and “allowing the forge to go out.” Sleepily, the dragon sits up and hawks a massive fireball into the forge, and, in true hilarious family movie fashion, he nearly ignites the whole shop in the process! I liked both the blacksmith and sheep-game scenes because they represent a cleverly imaginative way of thinking about how dragons could possibly be integrated into human life. Not that I’m necessarily expecting that to happen anytime soon.

It’s hard to point out other *particular* aspects of the movie that were fantastic, because the entire thing is just incredibly heartwarming and fun. There were a few particular plot points that I was not a fan of, but that wasn’t due to poor writing. I freely admit that I am just hard to please when it comes to character and story development at times. Other than those brief points, though, HTTYD2 is quite fantastic. The animation is beautiful as it was in the first, and the characters are ridiculously lovable. Toothless continues to somehow remind Mystie and I of our cat (we’re not the only ones, though – a friend recently told me he thinks the same regarding Toothless and his cat!), and the baby dragons are so freakin’ cute. A soundtrack that includes Jonsi of Sigur Ros can’t hurt, either!

PosterMeow.

Therefore, overall, I’d say there is no need for a rethink here. JUST GO SEE IT! And take your kids, friends, and family with you – this one is definitely great for everyone, at any age.

Jun 132014
 

Hello readers! It’s been six days since I gave you your movie viewing assignments for June, and I’m ready to follow up with the first ever “Joe’s JUST GO SEE IT Review and Rethink Edition!” Mystie and I just got home from seeing Edge of Tomorrow, which, as you’ll remember from my earlier post, is an alien-battling sci-fi action movie co-starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise that is based on a Japanese novel called All You Need Is Kill. I’ll do my best to keep any spoilers out of this article, and I’d ask any commenters to do be conscientious and advertise any of their own with full-on caps lock and asterisks so that each of our readers can form their own opinion! (NOTE: Linked images may take you to other pages containing spoilers.) EoTPoster First up: I loved this movie. As I previously mentioned, I was a bit apprehensive about the possibility that Tom Cruise could ruin a film that I felt had great potential, but from where I was sitting, Mr. Mission Impossible did okay. It did feel like Cruise had a much larger number of speaking scenes as compared to Oblivion, however, and the writers of Edge of Tomorrow didn’t do us any favors by making his character, William Cage, all that likable – at least not immediately. I did my best to chalk that up to the character’s development, though, and tried not to concentrate too much on Cruise himself. After a short time, I came around. 

CruiseEoT“What do you mean you ‘came around?’”

However, I had no problem immediately loving Emily Blunt’s character, Rita Vrataski. What. A. Badass. Holy hell. In a war with missiles soaring all over the battlefield and machine guns shooting off thousands of rounds per minute, what is our fearless heroine’s weapon of a choice? A freakin’ giant sword, that’s what. It’s eerily reminiscent of Cloud’s sword, though I don’t think the prop artists meant it to be a slap-you-in-your-face reference or anything like that. We meet Rita early on, when Tom Cruise, befuddled and thrown to the ground in the middle of an attack by the alien army, looks up and sees her taking out several baddies.

BluntEoTOh yeah, also: her nickname is the “Angel of Verdun.” Epic.

Luckily, neither Cruise’s nor Blunt’s characters get too trope-y in the film, which allows the viewer to enjoy the spectacular scenes playing on screen. As I have seen some mention, the “Live/Die/Repeat” plot device calls to mind the one used in Groundhog Day, but it is hard to fault the writers for employing such a fantastically interesting tool here, particularly when considering how they twist it to fit the mold of Edge of Tomorrow. Visually, too, the movie is great, although I don’t necessarily mean that in the sense that the imagery specifically was great. Several of the shots of the desolated environment are incredible, sure, but what I found especially extraordinary was the artistic development of both the aliens and the mechanical suits used to fight them. I thought that the aliens in particular were fantastic; they were creative without becoming overcomplicated, and are deeply deadly and fearsome.

I’ll close this article out by introducing the “Rethink” part of “Joe’s JUST GO SEE IT Review and Rethink Edition,” where I will decide whether I was right to being excited about a particular film on the month’s original list. In Edge of Tomorrow‘s case, I think it’s pretty clear that there isn’t a whole lot to rethink, given that I started off with “I loved this movie.”

JUST GO SEE IT!

Jun 102014
 

 

Link Hyrule So, we *might* be a tiny bit biased here at The League 0f 42, with several of our authors citing the Legend of Zelda series as their all-time favorite series and going so far as to use it as an entire argument for the 3DS over the PS Vita, but the new trailer for the Legend of Zelda for the Wii U has us salivating. An entire open-world Hyrule, a la Skyrim? Where do I preorder?

Zelda Hyrule

And I do think it is worth mentioning that no one has confirmed that the individual in the trailer is Link. There is a possibility, albeit slight, that the figure atop the horse is Zelda herself or a female reincarnation of our beloved hero. I do want to note that “Link” is not wearing the traditional green. The hero is androgynous enough that it could go either way, and I will be happy with anything. (Though part of me will keep my fingers crossed that we get to save Link as Zelda this time around.)

Check out the trailer for the first, or hundredth, time:

What do you think? Are you excited for the new Zelda? Could our protagonist be a female?

Jun 062014
 

Youtube-twitch

Has YouTube (and by extension, Google) done what so many rumors flying around the internet are reporting? Are they, as we speak, hashing out the details to a hefty $1 billion deal to purchase Twitch? At this point, all signs seem to point to yes, with the delay likely due to ongoing negotiations over just how independent Twitch will remain. What does this mean for the suddenly booming business of online game streaming?

Honestly, there is a large potential upside to this deal. Most seem to feel that Twitch was growing so fast that a sale was inevitable, as Twitch’s user base now numbers in the millions, across PC and next-gen consoles, as current hardware and internet speeds have made it easier than ever to stream content. YouTube has long been the behemoth of user-generated content, and with Google’s massive wallet backing them, it could open the door to streaming becoming a truly mainstream hobby.

Furthermore, rumors have also stated that there were several other interested parties, including Microsoft, before the supposed victor emerged. Google is far and away a better option, if a deal had to be made, to ensure impartiality among systems. Had Microsoft bought Twitch, Sony would have likely dropped Twitch to form their own service, splintering the community. Microsoft may have also attempted to drive use more towards the Xbox and away from the PC, as their general strategy has been to move away from gaming in the PC marketplace. So if a deal was truly inevitable, why not Google?

However, there are a lot of potential problems on the horizon, should Google/YouTube complete this purchase. First of all is the highly unpopular requirement of Google Plus forced upon YouTube users, and Twitch could very easily follow suit. Social media is, at the very best, a polarizing topic with many, especially amongst Twitch’s main users, and could cause some to drift away, frustrated by such requirements. Forcing additional services such as Google Plus in order to participate in Twitch is a huge pitfall to be avoided, and it is to be hoped Twitch is negotiating away from such a requirement.

Finally, what could be the biggest problem facing Twitch in the event of a Google purchase is YouTube and Google’s strict enforcement of copyright infringement. Video game streaming walks a fine line with videos that heavily feature in-game footage and often music. This sort of content has, rather famously, been relentlessly shut down at every angle on YouTube. Now, many video game companies will happily allow streaming in order to increase visibility and interest (League of Legends most famously), but it could become an extremely difficult area to navigate, depending on developer and publisher action. This is a very difficult problem, with no clear answer, and it is central to Twitch’s business model. How will YouTube and Google choose to navigate it? And could it bring about a drastic drop in interest, right as video game streaming seems to be taking off?

Many in the video game community, especially those whose livelihoods now depend on services like Twitch, await further news of a deal with bated breath. There are many areas which could cause a stumble and a setback, but there is also potential for improvement. It will all come down to how Twitch negotiates this potential deal, and how much Google and YouTube plan to interfere with an already successful model. In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, head over to twitch.tv and find out exactly what video game streaming is all about, and just how easy it is to get involved.  

 

 Posted by at 9:27 am
Jun 042014
 

Following the smashing success of the first five seasons of The Guild (her webseries about a Guild of gamers who become a Guild IRL), Felicia Day created Geek & Sundry, a YouTube channel dedicated to bringing fans the sorts of shows they want to see. With the exception of The Guild Season Six, these shows have primarily been reality-based shows such as Tabletop, The Flog, Sword and Laser and Vaginal Fantasy.

Despite the success of those shows (Tabletop in particular) Felicia Day has been outspoken about her desire to create a new scripted show and has delivered in the format of a new webseries, Spooked. Spooked follows the adventures of a group of “semi-professional” ghost hunters who take on a new case in each episode, spoofing the “reality” based ghost hunter shows you can find on cable television. The first episode aired today and can be found on Hulu and the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel. Or right here.

NO SPOILERS REVIEW.

The first episode of any new television show or webseries can be full of little kinks that need to be worked out and Spooked is no exception. The interaction between the Paranormal Investigation Team (PITs) is slightly off and the motivations for each character are still 2-dimensional. This is primarily felt in this episode as each character had to be introduced, their motivation mentioned and an entire “story” had to be told in twenty minutes. However, despite that difficulty, Spooked delivers in a fun and campy manner that is grounded in the very believable love an older brother feels for his quite younger sister who is dealing with the death of their parents in a very …different way.

Spooked has set-up several questions that I am already curious to have answered and the premise is intriguing. Without cable executives breathing down their necks, I think Spooked has a very bright future in the sorts of stories it can tell. I was a huge fan of the overarching story in this first episode.

I do want to point out, I am VERY tired of people being compared to “12 year old girls” as an insult. It’s hard enough to be one without it being made out to be the worst fate in the world. 12 year old girls are AWESOME, ok?  /rant

As long as Felicia Day, and the rest of the team behind Spooked, remember that the real value of a show is in the relationships built between the characters and the stories between the characters and not just in the number of times they can make the audience laugh, they have got a hit on their hands.

Jun 022014
 
Edge of Tomorrow

Welcome to Joe’s JUST GO SEE IT for June 2014! This is the first post of what will become a monthly column where I, your eponymous host, discuss a handful of movies in the sci-fi, fantasy, or otherwise nerdy genres that I am excited to see. These lists are not meant to be exhaustive – on the contrary, we want you to leave comments about movies you are interested to see as well! We may also exclude some (*coughtransformerscough*), because, after all, this is Joe’s JUST GO SEE IT!

Anyhow, without further ado, here are my JUST-GO-SEE-ITs for this month! They are sorted chronologically, from the nearest releases to the furthest. Trailers are included so you don’t even have to leave the page!

Edge of Tomorrow - June 6

If you’ve been a reader since the inception of TLo42, then you know that I had nothing but great things to say about Oblivion, a simultaneously post-apocalyptic and futuristic sci-fi flick starring Tom Cruise. If you haven’t been a reader since that post, then you might not already know that I absolutely loved that movie, despite the fact that Tom Cruise is often an overly intense actor that often camps up an otherwise good movie.

Such is the situation I’m hoping for with Edge of Tomorrow, in which Tom Cruise repeatedly fights aliens (or, at least, advanced machines) in a battle that seems to be reoccurring. The film co-stars the fantastic Emily Blunt, who looks to be both Tom Cruise’s trainer and love interest. The trailer, which I beg you to watch, all at once reminds me of elements of Inception and Elysium, and, weirdly, both Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Groundhog Day, though I doubt that Edge of Tomorrow will be as dramatic or hilarious as those films (respectively, of course). The basic concepts that you see in the trailer are mind-blowing, and even though I consider myself clever, I’m not completely sure I know which world we’re seeing is real. Or is that even the right question to ask? I don’t know, but I know I want to see it.

The Signal - June 13

This is one I have been excited about since I first heard about it on Reddit and looked up the trailer, which starts with Laurence Fishburne, and almost immediately features the incredible question, “Are you from Earth?” Fantastic visuals follow, evoking both fear and intrigue. There is some amazing cinematography at the end, and the music is perfect.

One of the most striking parts of the trailer, though, is that one critic, Joey Paur of Geek Tyrant, calls The Signal “a mind-bending experience.” That is a fantastic–in the literal sense of the word–description if I’ve ever heard one, and if I hadn’t already been sold, I would have been at that point. This movie looks incredibly interesting, and is easily the one I am most excited about on this month’s list.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – June 13

Rounding out this month’s list is the follow-up to How to Train Your Dragon, an incredibly wonderful and entertaining animated film released in 2010. If you haven’t already seen the first one, I’d suggest you do so ASAP in order to establish the back story for the second one. Here’s a hint: there are dragons involved.

As with many of DreamWorks’ films, the first How to Train Your Dragon was a heartwarmer, and the second looks to follow up on that, emphasizing Hiccup’s family. New dragons are introduced, too, however, and even Toothless gets a few new characteristics. I’ve been waiting for this follow-up the minute the credits started rolling after the first movie; How to Train Your Dragon is a great franchise that can really bring out the kid in anyone. And I mean, come on. Dragons!

That’s all for this month – you have your assignments! But as I said, we’d love to hear from you about what you’re excited for this month, so leave us a comment or tweet at us @theleagueof42 if you’ve got some suggestions of your own! In the meantime, don’t forget the popcorn!