Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Once Upon a Prediction, Yet another TV Show that brought fairy tales to life

    I am a fan of Once Upon a Time, an abc TV show. It has five seasons that are still ongoing. I have been watching them on Netflix, so I have not seen anything of season five, but I did just binge watch season four. While watching it though, patterns are seen with everything. The entire show is getting predictable in a way that it is stuck in a loop. Sure, the characters are interesting—although they seem to be learning the same lessons over and over again, ‘trust yourself’, ‘don’t hold a grudge’, ‘magic always comes with a price.’ They can’t learn from their mistakes—The romances are cute and charming (get it!? Charming. They are Charming?) and there is something about it that draws you back in. Probably those major cliffhangers. And yet, it is at the point where I can tell where everything is going to end up, because of the loop I mentioned before. Here are some examples of things that just keep happening every season causing the same conclusions.

  The bad guys are not really bad guys: There has only been one case that I can recall where the bad guy was just an evil person from the start. Someone always made them bad through scheming or by accident. In either case, instead of killing the not-so-bad-bad-guy they are usually saved from their evil ways. (In Rumpelstiltskin's case, it is a temporary save each time) Even if they do kill the villain they always come back, even if it is just through flash backs. They are causing chaos in the past, again.

   A flashback in a flashback in a flashback: Not really a prediction-scheme, but a regular occurrence none the less. Since the beginning, half of the episodes are in flashbacks, showing everyone why they are all in such deep water. (Honestly, if you think about it the longer the seasons get pretty soon every second of the past in the characters lives are going to be mistakes and decisions made that cause a big rupture in the future). It rarely happens but there has been an episode or two where there the flashback is in a flashback. You would think they had all learned from their past mistakes. Apparently not.

   The antagonists plan never works: Sure there is the main plan to catch those nasty heroes, but there is also the backup plan. The subtle plan we discover fairly quickly throughout the episodes, along with the heroes. As soon as Emma and her team of heroes discover this plan they thwart it so that the antagonist cannot not succeed, but by the end of the season in a fluck accident or by another power we see the second plan comes to pass, leaving the heroes and the audience staring bewildered at something they have to deal with in the next season.  

   Two Stories: We have the main big problem, that started the season before, that goes to the mid season and is dealt with. The second half of the season is another problem or villain they have to deal with. Sure it keeps the season fresh, but so predictable.

   The Newbie doesn’t like you: Whenever someone new is introduced one of the older characters has met them and has a past with them. (Oh look, another flashback). And, every time that character despises someone (usually a Charming) or someone despises that character until they are either convinced or forced to alley themselves to the group. Everyone has at some point. (except Zelena, yet).

   Someone needs a pep talk: So whenever someone is struggling with an inner conflict or mad at someone or is just cranky they of course get their pep talk, even Regina (the Evil Queen) gives her bit of advice when Emma is being stubbornly mad at her parents, it happens every season about something. The pep talk every time, no matter your problem is; trust yourself. Yes, there are more words in the actual conversation, maybe a story (even another flashback) but when you break it down it is always trust yourself, listen to your heart. (Which, has its own foundation problems, but that is another discussion).

     So, those are my observations I am pretty sure I had more, but you get the gist of my knit-picking. I did not write this for the purpose of making people hate the show, it was just something I had been thinking about and maybe it will make you think. I will probably continue watching the seasons until they come to an end, because if anything, they are very good with the cliffhangers.

     Careful, Sweety, magic always comes with a price.
Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015


Oh my! Our blog has seen better days.......

Ladies and gentlemen another review (or more like promotion) from my beloved brother who adores video games. 

My friends, Nosgoth has gone free to play on Steam!
as an encouragement to at least try it out I shall give a bit of a game review for it.
Nosgoth is a third person team based fighting game where one team plays as vampires and the other plays as humans.
upon starting players have access to two vampires and two human classes. the Reaver and the Tyrant for the vampires and the Hunter and the Alchemist for the humans.
the main game mode is death match. in this game mode players are teamed up with three other people in teams of 4, and pitted against another team of 4. the point of this game is to be either the first team to collectively get 30 kills, or have the most kills in 10 minutes. each game has two rounds. during the first round one team will be humans and the other will be vampires, and during the second round they switch. the kill counts of both rounds are added together at the end of the second round and the game goes to the one with the most kills.
the units are pretty balanced if used properly, and the game makes it as fair as possible by having the teams switch races each round.
in general the humans have to stay in a group and wait to repel the vampires. humans are mostly ranged units. the hunter has a repeating crossbow and has the ability to throw a bola that disables the attacks of vampires, and an explosive volley of bolts that deal aria damage. the alchemist fires an explosive grenade out of a launcher. they also start with a flash grenade that blinds any vampire in the vicinity and a firewall that damages the vampires if they walk through it.
there are supply spots around each map that human players may run to in order to regain health and restock on ammo.
the vampires are primarily the initiators of combat, they are melee for the most part, and have three abilities each. the Reaver has a Jump ability that is a good gap closer that disables the person he jumps on for a short time period, and deals damage to him. he also has a smoke bomb that makes it so other vampires can see humans who run through it even through walls, and blinds the humans while they are in it, and they have the ability to sacrifice the ability to attack for the ability to dodge all projectiles aimed at it.
Tyrants are large tank units with the ability to make a charge that throws all enemies that it comes in contact with. it also has the ability to sacrifice its attack but take next to no damage from attacks, and the ability to send a shock wave through the ground that damages all in its wake.
finally all vampires have the ability to gain health by executing a fallen human. upon death humans have a short time where they are harvestable, if a vampire gets there in time they can drink their blood to gain health.
All in all it is a really fun game to play by yourself with a team of strangers or with a group of friends. 

Thanks for sticking with us even though we are lacking in the posts department. 
Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Maleficent, The Winged Fairy

          Since I had been greatly disappointed in Disney's retelling of classics, such as Oz, The Great and Powerful, I did not experience Maleficent's world when it first arrived in theaters. I had received mixed reviews from friends and family. Most disliked it and were disappointed, although my older sister passionately loved its contents so I gave it a try. My first impression was wonder. (Mostly because winged people have fascinated me of late). It had the classic strange looking creatures, with fairies and tree people, separated from the humans with constant war between them. 
      Over all it was rather enjoyable I did not very much appreciate the ending of the story. It made no sense to me, and so rather dampened my view of the movie to something of unsatisfied. Of course there were little visual and story line mistakes I saw, like every movie has if you look hard enough. The scene where maleficent has a sudden and unexplained wardrobe change  really threw me off, personally.
     Then there is the actress Angelina Jolie, I do have my distaste for her personal character and acting, however with her role of Maleficent she did a wonderful job and portrayed the hate and love very well.
      Fantasy always has me enthralled, especially when there are dragons, knights, wars, and developing and funny characters (Like Maleficent's faithful companion, the crow, Diaval).
     There are many things I enjoyed about this movie and many things I thought over used for such things, or completely wrong. I don't wish to make a list but encourage you to find out for yourself. It might be a interesting one time movie for you.

Thanks for reading, Beasty

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Giver

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”  - Lois Lowry, The Giver

  "Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back."

  The Giver by Lois Lowry is an incredibly provocative and pervasive novel that delves into your mind with a special keenness, leaving you quiet and reflective and deep in thought long after you close the final pages.

  A movie, based on the novel, was recently released in theaters and I must admit, I watched it without having read the novel. However, my only regret is that I hadn't been introduced to the story sooner, in any media. 

  The themes of freedom and choice resonate with me deeply, as well as the struggle of the main character, Jonas, who, after becoming the Receiver of Memory, finds himself strangely isolated, seeing the world in new ways that he cannot share with those he loves. Living a colorless, cold, hollow existence all his life and being suddenly thrust into the beauty and pain of the true reality beyond has left him estranged from his companions. Different in a society that values and protects sameness above all else.

  Though the book was short I enjoyed it immensely for the hour or so I was buried in its pages. I can honestly say that when I glanced up and looked at the setting sun I saw the colors so much more vividly and appreciated them like never before. I sat in the sunshine and felt the warmth, I stood outside and felt the wind, listened to music and marveled at its loveliness. And I considered the world in all its great glory and great tragedy and compared it to Jonas's existence. 

  Yes, they had control, and order, and safety and some measure of diluted happiness but where was the piercing beauty of singing, or instruments? Where was the deep desire of two beings in love? Where was the diversity of cultures and races? Lost was excitement and fear, love and hate, joy and despair. There were no highs to reach for and no lows to climb from. There was nothing but an empty, lifeless, orderly routine for people alive on the outside and dying on the inside.

  We may have great suffering in this world, but we have great joy as well. And great hope. We should never forget our good fortune, no matter the circumstance. There is beauty and light, even in pain. And there is pure, limitless hope, as inconceivable and vast as the heavens. Great beauty in great darkness.

  The Giver is a little book with big thoughts. It is a great example of the difference that simple things make in life and shows very vividly the chasm that their absence leaves in a person's life, in humanity.

  If you're looking for a short read, I can promise The Giver won't take too much of your time. If you're looking for a simple read, best not pick up this book. 

  It will be reverberating in your mind and heart long after you've read the final words.

  “For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.” 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Howl's Moving Castle, the book

          Most anime fans will know the Studio Ghibli movie, Howl's Moving Castle. However, not many know about the original creator of Howl's world. Writer Diana Wynne Jones was a British children and adult fantasy writer. Sadly, this talented woman died the year 2011, unable to finish many more stories she had hoped to write. I read the book years ago along with my cousin (both of us anime and book fans) after watching the movie. I instantly fell in love with the world, the characters and the author's writing skills. I have read this "children's fictional" literature three times since and enjoy its contents every time.
     For those who are unfamiliar with movie or book, Howl's Moving Castle is filled with wonderful magic, living scarecrows, transforming dogs, evil witches, vain wizards, demons, and of course a moving castle. It has its comedy, its clumsiness, its bit of romance and its elusive curse.
      The enjoyment Miss Diana had while creating this world is clearly seen within the pages. Her humor is also very clear, as well as her British origins which adds flavor to the written word.
     I do question her use of the word 'demon' since our friend Calcifer is anything but a demon. I suppose an appropriate word for a fire creature would be hard to classify.
     Miss Diana has written two other books following Howl, Calcifer and Sophie in their adventures. Castle in the Air, and House of Many Ways. Both oozing with magic and strange creatures.

"How about making a bargain with me?" said the demon. "I'll break your spell if you agree to break this contract I'm under." 

P.S Doing a quick Google search on Miss Diana--thank you Wikipedia--I discovered when studying at Oxford two of her professors were none other than J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis. How lucky was she? 

Here's another curse, may all your bacon burn.
Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 - A Rambling

"How do you become someone that great, that brave, that selfless? I guess you can only try. A chief protects his own."

In the realm of storytelling, sequels are always an incredibly difficult business. Oftentimes, the financial success of the initial work can be more of a motivating factor in a follow-up’s production than respecting the nature of the story.
So I thought when I heard that Dreamworks had greenlit How to Train Your Dragon 2. The first remains one of my favourite films that Dreamworks animation has produced since their inception (still behind Prince of Egypt, which I doubt they’ll ever top) and it told a very well-written, very heartwarming, and very complete story. An excellent movie in every respect, and if Tangled hadn’t come out that same year, it may well have won my personal best picture award for 2010.

I kept my expectations low for How to Train Your Dragon 2 (especially after a disastrously made trailer was released which basically spoiled every major plot point) but remained ever hopeful that it would overcome my worries.
Having now seen it twice, I can say with certainty that it absolutely surpassed and destroyed all my expectations and is not only a worthy sequel, I would offer an argument that it is superior to the first. 

It begins by doing something that I really love in good sequels. Much like Toy Story 2 and 3, it acknowledges the passage of time between the movies. Characters have grown older, their lives have progressed, and the story deals heavily in the themes of change and growing up; finding your place in a changing world, responsibility, and the importance of family. 
I was around Hiccup’s age when the first movie came out, and to see him unmask and reveal himself to have joined me in his early twenties and dealing with many of the same questions and fears I grapple with today was an amazing personal bonus, and definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the film.

These ideas are not only reflected in the theme and conversations, but also in the events of the story. How to Train Your Dragon 2 does NOT play it safe at all and makes points to progress the story, its characters, and to shake up the status quo. It doesn’t set itself up for a sequel, it doesn’t rest on the character development the first film offered. Instead, it feels like a new natural new chapter in a grand epic. Everything changes very naturally, and feels like a new, genuine chapter in Toothless and Hiccup’s lives rather than a cash-grab story that lands with them back where they started in order to churn out more cheaply written sequels.

I apologize for rambling on the same topic. Long story short, it does everything a good sequel should, and does it maturely.

It is also exceptional from an animation and cinematography standpoint. The flying scenes and environmental designs are stunning. One thing that surely sticks out in my mind is a sequence in a dark cave wherein a character uses several dragons as makeshift lanterns. Extremely visually impressive and creative. The sense of scale is also well-done, with massive dragons clashing in the background of battle scenes as the camera focuses on smaller humans and dragons in the foreground.

As far as music goes, many of the brilliant leitmotifs from the first movie return. Combined with lyrics this time! The opening flying sequence set to “Where No One Goes” singlehandedly alleviated all my worries about the film, as I sat back relaxed and ready to be further impressed.
The standout musical moment in the film however, definitely goes to the lovely and extremely catchy folk song “For the Dancing and the Dreaming” sung midway through the film. A great song that will touch your heart from a storytelling standpoint, and that you shall be singing for months afterwards.

If I were to criticize the movie, (and I do have to be very nitpicky to find flaws) I would say that the villain was probably the least interesting character. He was built up VERY well through a story Stoick the Vast tells, and had a really good design and concept behind him, but his backstory receives next to no development. He has a brief speech, and a really contextually weak excuse as to why he does what he does. He comes across as just being evil because the movie needed a villain. Not a bad character, just not a very interesting one.
I do love the way Hiccup interacts with him and treats him, though. Seeing Hiccup constantly look for a peaceful way to stop him up until the very end was very cool, and an excellent thing for the young children watching to learn. Even after horrible things have been done that most would deem unforgivable, Hiccup continues to live by Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Brilliant to see.

Also, there is one major plothole concerning a certain character’s survival, and the whole subplot about Ruffnut being attracted to Eret made me feel uncomfortable a lot more than I found it funny.

All in all, though, I was completely blown away by this movie, and am very optimistic for a potential third film. 

It was dramatic, funny, touching, and very, very epic. I am waiting on bated breath for the blu-ray to be released, and shall be working on my Hiccup 2.0 cosplay in preparation for the next movie.

"You came early into this world. You were such a wee thing. So frail and so fragile. I feared that you wouldn't make it. But your father, he never doubted. He always said you would become the strongest of them all."

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2 - spoilers

  We've always known that Spiderman's most important conflict has been with himself. The struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spiderman. It is the personal difficulties of this split personality that lies at the heart of every Spiderman film, and it is these personal difficulties that made me fall in love with Spidey in the beginning. Peter Parker is an underdog in the purest sense of the word, and it seems that it is all the more clear in both this film and the previous Spiderman sequel. And if there is one thing I love, it's the underdog.

  I enjoyed the first Amazing Spiderman film from 2012, I had low expectations going into the theater, because I loved the original trilogy so much, but I was pleasantly surprised, if not blown away. Some people may think me odd for saying this, but Tobey Maguire's portrayal of Spiderman will always be the true hero for me. His innocence, his unselfishness, his decency is exemplary of the hero, and it is the honesty and sincerity of the old films that urges me to favor them over the new ones.

  That does not mean I dislike the new films. Not at all! Andrew Garfield's portrayal, while not as honest as Maguire's, is a genuine one, and his nervous energy, half-smile and sense of humor are definitely heartwarming. The Amazing Spiderman 2 gives us a clear picture of all that.

  Anyway, I won't go into a comparison of the two different series here. I enjoy them both for different reasons, and since this is a review for TASM 2, we'll talk about that instead.

  Peter Parker/Spiderman: One of my favorite things about TASM's Peter is his smart-aleck personality and his wry sense of humor. In that area, the film did not disappoint. Further, both actors, director and writers did an excellent job of showing Peter's human struggles, his desire for normal relationships and life situations, his obligation to the hero calling, and the way his burden grew over the course of the film. It is the way Peter's heart is so painfully divided that makes him interesting and endearing as a character, what makes you sympathetic to his struggles. But even more so, it is the way he time and time again rises above his circumstances to do what is right. By the film's end, we see a man changed and shaped by the trials of life, who, despite tragedy and heartache, gets to his feet again. This is the reason Spiderman is my favorite superhero. A personal hero.

  Gwen Stacy: Well, I can't say that I'm surprised at the direction Gwen's story took. The hints were all over both this and the last movie. I knew Peter breaking his promise to Captain Stacy would come back to haunt him at some point. That aside, I think it's still safe to say I was pretty heartbroken by her death. I liked how they played it out, she falls but he catches her, she falls again and he catches her again, but the third time, he's just a second too late...
  Aside from the obvious, I think Gwen's character development was well done. In some instances she reminded me of Mary Jane from the previous trilogy, complaining about Peter's desire to keep her safe, but I can understand where she's coming from. It's such a shame that Gwen was killed off in this film, she is a great character played by a fantastic actress and her chemistry with Peter is so beautiful. I might just cry now...

  Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin: I was skeptical of this aspect of the films, wondering why Harry's character hadn't been introduced in the first installment and balking at the idea of someone other than James Franco playing one of my favorite anti-heroes. I am pleased to say, I was FAR from disappointed. I love this Harry almost as much as the old one in many ways and I can't wait to see how he'll be going after Peter in future films. His descent into evil was portrayed very vividly although made less poignant by the fact that he desires Peter's blood in vengeance for himself and not his dead father. The one thing off-putting about this version of the character was the fact that he, not his father Norman, took up the role of Green Goblin and Gwen's murderer. I am curious to see how this will play out in the future.

  Max Dillon/Electro: Despite his slightly eccentric qualities, I felt incredibly sympathetic to the character of Max Dillon/Electro. His story is very good homage to what can result when we tear people down, ignore them and push them aside. Peter's friendliness was, unfortunately, too little too late. I can't help but wonder what might have resulted had someone stepped up and befriended the poor guy. He seemed like a genuinely nice person who was more victim than perpetrator, though that doesn't excuse his behaviour. I was quite saddened by his death, but those feelings were quickly made null and void by Gwen's demise and Peter's grief. However, now that I'm thinking back on it, I can definitely feel bad for poor Max, if only....

  May Parker: Both the Sally Field and Rosemary Harris versions of Aunt May are close to my heart for various reasons, but one in particular that especially stuck out in this film is the love and protection she desires to give a troubled and often distant Peter, a boy she took in and raised, a boy she loves like her own. Their relationship is one of the sweetest in the entire franchise and it makes me smile and tear up every time. One thing I am curious about is when (or if) they will have Peter confess about Uncle Ben's death. In the original films, Peter confesses in the second film, but that was notably absent here. Although it will probably break my heart all over again I would love to see it in this series at some point. Hopefully the writers can work that in there.

  Oscorp: One of the things I am really enjoying about the reboot is how Oscorp seems to be at the center of this big conspiracy. I very much enjoy intrigue and mystery so it will be interesting to see the Oscorp situation unfold over the course of the films. It's very cool to see all the layers peeling back, revealing more and more of the company's secrets. Excited for more!

  Mary Jane Watson: Actress Shailene Woodley was cast as Peter's red-haired love interest and even filmed a few scenes, but was ultimately removed from the final cut due to the already large group of characters. For my part, I would have loved to have seen her and Gwen interacting, and I am interested in seeing Shailene's portrayal of the character I loved from the original trilogy. I hope she will be in the next film, the new take on the character will be fresh and fun I think.

  Felicia Hardy: Harry Osbourne's pretty young assistant, who, in the comics, is also a villain named Black Cat, and is one of Peter's love interests, was intended to have more screentime, but again, was cut for the flow. I was interested in this girl from the get-go and disappointed to find her scenes so few. She had a mysterious, knowing quality about her and whatever she wants with Harry, it can't be good. I think they have the potential to be a really great team of Spidey antagonists if they should ever work together.

  All in all, I definitely, hands down, loved this film and I am now 100% confident in the future of the Spiderman franchise. This would easily take the third spot on my top Spidey films and I am very excited and optimistic to see what lies ahead in the films.

  Before I go, I (being a die-hard Spidey fan) would like to leave you with my favorite quote from all five of the films. I hope it will inspire you as it inspires me.

Henry Jackson: Hi, Peter!
Peter Parker: Hey, Henry! You've grown tall.
May Parker: You'll never guess who he wants to be... Spider-Man!
Peter Parker: Why?
May Parker: He knows a hero when he sees one. Too few characters out there, flying around like that, saving old girls like me. And Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero. Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.