Desolation of Blog: Geostorm

What’s more dangerous than weather? Evidentially, politics.

I’m oddly torn when it comes to Geostorm. It’s a great film masquerading as a terrible film. That’s the best way I can sum it up.

What I mean is that the film as a whole is enjoyable enough, and I had a great time while watching it, but it also suffers from plenty of cringe-worthy clichés. There were more than enough “fleshing out” elements, aspects to the story that really didn’t need to be included but kind of helps to flesh out characters and the world. But there’s also more “…they didn’t just” moments.

I know this film has been getting it’s fair share of negative reviews, and I think that all comes down to the trailer and marketing. It was made to look like it was going to be another Roland Emmerich popcorn disaster flick, like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. When instead it’s a character driven film that includes disaster film elements like Deep Impact. If you go in expecting nonstop destruction, you are going to be disappointed.

So while I can totally see why a majority of the people disliked it, I personally enjoyed it. If I were to give it a rating, I’d give it a 7 out of 10.

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Desolation of Blog: Introduction

Feels weird calling this an introduction when there are several posts before this one. However, before this point in time, those posts were under the My Thoughts series. I had been saving my movie reviews for Casabloga, and I only added films I considered the greatest of all time in that series. But over the last few months I’ve been writing regular reviews for other films and putting them under the My Thoughts series. Tonight I decided to start a separate series where I review films I just don’t consider the greatest but still want to talk about. I’ll also be including shows into this, with the exception of my post on The Simpsons, because I referenced it in the introduction to the My Thoughts series, and it’d make that post not make sense. Basically, I won’t just be strictly doing reviews in this series, but that’ll be the main focus.

Desolation of Blog: Mad Max

I’m a little ashamed to say that I have never seen any of the Mad Max films before now. I’ve been putting off watching Fury Road until I’d seen the original three. I know you can enjoy it without watching them, but I still want to watch them first. So I’m going to write a short review of each one as I watch them.

 

Mad Max (1979)

This is the original film, the one that started it all. And it is…very boring. For a post-apocalyptic film, it didn’t seem very post-apocalyptic. In fact, he lived in a house with his wife in a city. How was this a post-apocalyptic film? While technically things happened throughout the film, I found myself extremely bored until about the last half hour. That’s when it started to get a little interesting. But the journey to get to the last half hour felt longer than the hour it actually was. I could have sworn two hours had gone by, only to check and find that I was only 41 minutes in. Hopefully the second one is better. If it’s not, I’m not even going to bother continuing.

 

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Oh, my! This film was so much better than the previous one! It didn’t even feel like it was a sequel to the same film. In fact, the first film isn’t even necessary at all. The opening explains how the world became post-apocalyptic, and the only interesting part of the first film is covered in the opening scene here. So just skip the first film altogether and start with the second one.

I can honestly say that this is perhaps the best action film I’ve seen in a long time. I got excited several times, and even found myself awed by the visuals. They used the Sun often, silhouetting characters and other things. The climactic chase scene was shot perfectly. I think it would be hard for them to top this one in the third film.

 

Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

As I expected, it doesn’t top the second film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good movie, but not a great one like Road Warrior. It is definitely better than the first. Similar to how the second film was different from the first, the third film is different from the first two altogether. It actually kind of felt like two films. The first half in Bartertown and the second half with the kids. Then, of course, the two world collide (quite literally) at the end. It was done very well, although it kind of felt like the ending of Road Warrior.

Something I couldn’t help noticing is that in the first film, they used actual cars. In the second film, they used modified vehicles. In this film, they used entirely fictional vehicles that I thought looked more like makeshift vehicles. It actually works here, giving the film, and series as a whole, it’s own feel. When you see a shot of one of these vehicles, you know it’s a Mad Max film.

Now time to watch the newest film to see the story they came up with to bring the character back. I’m honestly excited to see Fury Road. Beyond Thunderdome ended in a way that implies that Max has a further destiny.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Right, so apparently Mel Gibson’s Mad Max story isn’t continued in Tom Hardy’s character. It appears to be a reboot, unconnected from the rest of the series. Which initially bothered me, but as I got into the film it didn’t as much. I ended up liking it about as much as I liked The Road Warrior. In fact, I can’t even decide which one of the two I liked more.

Supposedly this will be the start of a new trilogy. If that’s the case, it had a better beginning than the first trilogy. I honestly hope they do turn this into a new trilogy, because after watching these films I want more. Now that we know that with the modern technology they can make better Mad Max films, I want to see them.

What I mean by that is that while they definitely used practical effects in the film, they used CG sparingly, and usually only to enhance the scene. I don’t think the actors were standing in front of green screens in this film.

 

I didn’t make this a Casabloga because, like Star Wars, it has good films, but I don’t think it’s the greatest. I still highly recommend them, though. However, just skip the first film. It’s entirely pointless.

Casabloga: Loving Vincent

When I heard that they were making this film, I knew immediately that I had to see it. I’ve been a fan of Van Gogh my entire life, and in fact The Starry Night is my favourite painting of all time. But the moment I officially became obsessed with him was when I watched Vincent and the Doctor, in my opinion the greatest Doctor Who episode of all time.

Loving Vincent is not only the story of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, but also the circumstances surrounding his death. Officially, he committed suicide. However, there have always been rumours that he was shot by someone else and just told everyone he shot himself so no one else took the blame.

But what truly sets the film apart is that it is the first one to be entirely animated through paintings. It consists of over 65,000 frames, every single one of them an oil painting in the style of Van Gogh himself. Not sure what I mean? Here is the trailer:

Not only is the story fascinating, the visuals are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. To be honest, this is the perfect way to tell his story. All of his paintings come alive, because everything he painted was inspired by actual people and places. In fact, Armand Roulin is the main character. Armand was the subject of some of Van Gogh’s paintings. His whole family was.

I feel that Vincent’s story is a very important one to share, because it’s a very relatable story of mental illness, depression, and suicide. He may, in fact, be the most relatable historical figure. That Doctor Who episode really helps to make him feel like a modern figure. As though if he were alive today he’d have had a better life. Not that he wouldn’t still be depressed, just that there’s now treatment for it. Back when he lived, he was just considered “mad” and everyone picked on him. Which, naturally, didn’t help his depression.

At the beginning of this post I linked to a scene from the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor”. The following contains spoilers for that episode. For context, Amy Pond (the Doctor’s companion at the time) wanted to save Vincent from killing himself. She feels that if he knows how important he is in the present time, he wouldn’t kill himself. Van Gogh never knew he was famous, because that didn’t happen until after his death. So the Doctor uses the TARDIS to bring him to the present (when the video begins) to show him that all of his artwork is on display where all of the greatest works of art is, given it’s own special room. It’s the most crowded room in the museum. The Doctor has the curator (played by Bill Nighy in an uncredited role) talk about how important Vincent was to history, which obviously brings him to tears of joy.

The beauty of the episode, and the reason I feel it’s one of the greatest episodes of the show, is that despite their efforts, Vincent still kills himself. Amy is confused, and the Doctor stresses that they can’t undo all the bad in the world.

Basically, depression isn’t as simple as “Oh, I’m happy now, I’m all better”. Vincent was penniless and (at the time) hated by almost everyone who knew him. You’d think that’s why he committed suicide. So why did Robin Williams do it? He’s the complete opposite. extremely successful and loved by all. He had four films released after his death. Vincent’s suicide makes sense from a logical point of view, so why did Robin Williams do it?

The answer is that depression isn’t logical. Everything could be going right in your life, and yet you still have this dark cloud over you that you just can’t explain or understand. You could be surrounded by everyone and yet feel like you are alone on a deserted island.

This is why I feel it is important for this story to be told.

Loving Vincent is available on Blu-Ray as of today.

If You Know Someone in Crisis. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

The Elder Blog: Batman: The Telltale Series

I’m playing Batman: The Telltale Series. When I first heard of it, I was confused how that would even work. Telltale, for those who don’t know, is a game company that takes licensed properties and makes story-based games out of them. They’ve made The Walking Dead: Seasons One, Two, and Three, The Walking Dead: Michonne, Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Minecraft: Story Mode, and several others. Those are their main ones, though.

Batman came out recently, and I wasn’t sure how it’d work out. I’m used to Batman games being, like, Arkham Knight and such. Very action oriented. That’s how you do a Batman game! So how would Telltale do one?

The opening sequence was Batman taking down a small group trying to break into the mayor’s office. There’s a ton of quicktime events, and I seriously almost just turned it off. I hate QTEs, as do most gamers I’ve asked about it. But luckily I stuck it out.

After that, I see something I don’t think I’ve seen outside of the Nolan movies; Bruce Wayne interacting with the citizens of Gotham. He is campaigning for Harvey Dent, and after the introduction there’s a fundraising party at Wayne Manor for Dent. At one point, an elderly couple says that even though they have never heard of Dent, they’ll vote for him because Bruce is backing him, because they trust him. I’ve never really thought about how the citizens of Gotham viewed Bruce Wayne before.

I’m much further on now, and I must say, this takes a fully different approach to the Batman game formula, but I thoroughly enjoying this. The game is less action-based and more dialogue-based. That may sound boring, but it’s done very well. For example, at the end of the introduction scene, you have to fight Catwoman. This is obviously at the beginning of the Batman story, because he has no idea who she is. Later on, he meets Selena Kyle while dining with Harvey Dent. The two realise who the other is immediately, because they still have the same injuries from the fight. After a minute, Dent has to get up from the table to make a call, leaving Selena and Bruce to dialogue for several minute. It is more interesting and intense than the fight between the two of them at the beginning of the game.

There are five episodes in the season (yeah, it’s one of those games), and I’m about halfway through the first episode. I’m excited to see where this goes. Just hope there’s not too many QTEs left.