Monday, September 21, 2015

Reflection on Gotham's Dark Knight


Over the last 2 months, my previously-Batman-less girlfriend and I have watched all 7 Batman films.

Batman: This original Batman has the same weakness that all of the live action movies have: not enough Batman roaming the shadows and laying down his own justice with various gadgets. That said, it DOES have my favorite Bruce Wayne. Micheal Keaton's Bruce Wayne is as quirky-looking as you'd expect for a rich person who lives in a creepy mansion, puts on a suit and stalks a scary city at night. This movie also has the most maturity to it, in that Wayne's romantic pursuit takes a while to develop, and there aren't a whole lot of neat effects to subdue the kids. This movie also has my favorite ending (top of the city hero shot + great score track).

Yes.
Batman Returns has an awesome opening sequence that gives you more to look at than credits. You also get to hear the Danny Elfman theme with more oomph. Batman Returns doesn't waste any time cutting to shit you want to see. Batman's backstory is established, so a little chaos in the streets brings one of the series'  great shots: Wayne stands with the Bat Signal on him to a music cue. This movie brings an interesting mood to it. It's still as dark as the first movie, but with a little comical twist. The part where Batman does a 180 in the Batmobile just to boost his flaming jet on the fire-spitting juggler comes to mind. Secretary Selina Kyle's relationship to shady CEO Max Shreck is also comical at times, and gets really jarring when he pushes her to her death. I still jump every time, even though I know it's coming. But good lord, this Catwoman is sexy, and it's pretty awesome that she considers getting even with her CEO once in for all worth sparing half of her nine lives. There's a scene when she talks to Penguin about working together and who's got the upper hand, and it's got innuendo, physical comedy, and two really good actors making a great moment.

Batman Forever is a favorite because a change in director brought such a goofy movie that only takes a nugget of itself seriously. This movie starts off with 30 minutes of one-liners and really stupid exposition. Then we get to see a return to darkness with brooding Bruce Wayne and Two-Face's killing of Dick Grayson's parents. This movie has a lot of style and color compared to its predecessors, and the Riddler is infinitely quotable and as Jim Carey as possible. Wayne's love interest in this is Dr Chase Meridian, which is probably the most gorgeous Nicole Kidman has ever looked. They throw more one-liners at each other, and some really light, obvious psychology, and then we get treated to one of the best shots in the Batman series. At some point, Batman jumps off a roof to chase the villains, and the camera pans up and down his figure, cape-a-flying as the theme gets  going. I feel like the director wasted this shot because our hero falls right through a tube to his own burial. Ahh well, the Bat vehicles are the best in the series. The final note is that I am a huge fan of the corny running towards the screen in slow motion at the end of the movie.

Batman and Robin doesn't have much going for it, as you can tell the film's agenda is in merchandise and partnerships with fast food. Poison Ivy is really sexy, but Bane sucks. Mr Freeze's jokes are hilarious, and George Clooney doesn't make a good Batman or Bruce Wayne. The vehicles are really impractical and look ugly. On the other hand, this movie has my favorite Batsuits with heavy leather capes and silver accents. The movie also boasts my favorite-looking Gotham. Both the Schumacher Batmans have Greek/Roman statues embedded in the city and buildings, and add great atmosphere to all of the chase scenes.

Sorry Nolan, didn't like your tumbler as much as the others.
10 years later, we get Christopher Nolan to direct 3 more-realistic, dark and serious but consistent movies. Batman Begins has really good suspense, and boy do they make you wait to see Batman...in all 3 movies. In almost 8 hours of the movie, you see Batman for a quarter of it. Christian Bale is neither my favorite Batman nor Wayne, but he certainly couldn't be accused of not trying. With the Nolan trilogy, we get consistently great acting, great lines, a great score, and some great combat. The first movie has some really great scenery, and Alfred is fantastic in the whole trilogy.

The Dark Knight is simply as perfect a movie as I could ever hope for. There's nothing else to add.

The Dark Knight Rises is severely lacking in Batman, and the Bat could possibly my least favorite vehicle in the franchise. I thought Bane was interesting, but to have some brains - intelligent villains with a plan are so much better to watch! They didn't spend enough time on Catwoman, and the story's crazy timeline was hard to ignore. The movie does, however, have my favorite music of the trilogy, which is Bane's menacing theme. I am very very interested in seeing Nolan direct a Batman team, whether he works together with Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, or all of them.

I may have botched a reference here or there, but it was really nice going through such an exciting and eccentric part of American culture with my girlfriend. She liked all of them, and ended up liking the last movie more than anyone else I know.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

PAX 2015: A first of many to come!


 
Rocket League tournament@SONY
For those of you who don't know, the Penny Arcade eXpo is a 4-day weekend of tabletop games, videogames, anime, cosplay, gaming culture presentations, and there is a ton of winning winning winning! At TGS, Tokaigi, and other conventions, you stand in line to play a game demo for 15 minutes or watch a trailer on a huge screen, all while on the lookout for hot booth babes or cosplay. You can find this at PAX, but there are a lot more ways to walk away with stuff: gaming tournaments on every system, scavenger hunts based on finding qr codes throughout the 8-building grounds (holy shit, right?), games played while waiting in line, and tons of even-if-you-lose concessions. 

(B)Link
Tickets to this event were sold out within hours of going on sale, and that was 3 months before the event. Luckily, applying to work at PAX opened after that, and lil ol me was accepted to join the ranks. The Enforcer[E] crowd are good people. Nerds of every caliber who were there to help other nerds be nerdy. My favorite part about the event was talking to people: PAX is so very social, which I cannot claim is true for other expos of its type. My Japanese is conversational, so it's not all lack of skill and effort on my part. But, the host culture means that TGS and Tokaigi attendees talk to their own groups, and leave the noisemaking to the presentations. To contrast, I had a dozen attendees during PAX come up and talk and hang out (well, I WAS at a lounge with beanbags) and struggle with eye contact and stumble through sentences about Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda. I'm not poking fun at these people, I'm saying they overcame their uncomfortableness to talk about cool shit. There were lots of tips when and where to wait in line for limited pins and giveaways. With the exception of my family and friends, it was the most genuine group of strangers I've ever rolled with before. 

I've never been more aware of the getting-to-know-someone process than here because there were no professional guidelines or barriers to limit the context of conversation.

This poor bastard was bleeding for 96 hours.
Some of you reading this might be like my co-workers who ironically live in Seattle and look down on gaming culture. I hope you open up and welcome gaming into your life, because pretty soon you're gonna be the weirdos who don't game out! Also, there are major economic opportunities: I met two people from Tulsa who said there weren’t any PC cafes there, and the only arcade had games that were 30 years old. Not to mention the fact that there probably aren’t any connections to Japan or anime. $10k, open an arcade for all the IT people who need a place to spend it!

The biggest sour point was that I wish I had had friends to attend PAX with on my off-hours, though. However, there were almost 1000 [E]s, so it was pretty easy to chat up one of them when I was feeling like doing something other than gawking excitedly. I’ve also heard that going with a group means you’ll inevitably spend time doing things you don’t want to do.

NintIndies...I see what you did there!
Highlights of the event: NintIndies had a room in the Sheraton Hotel with a dozen titles: Typoman, a sidescroller with live word puzzles; Runbow, an 8-player frantic platform racer; and a game called Shantae, a sidescrolling adventure game with leveling up. Also, there was an [E]-only Magic: the Gathering draft tournament where I won the first of three rounds, but ultimately had to concede because the second round took place a little too late for my tastes. Had a blast, though.

WRONG ARIES, dude...you're looking for Ares!
One thing that didn’t rule about that weekend was how much non-PAX time I wasted not being there. Friday and Monday were work days, and Saturday’s power outage meant an extra 2 hours burned in traffic/waiting for the bus. 

All in all, the event was A++++ 10/10 would buy from again! 


Grey Friday: Know your brands