Archive for the ‘General Stuff’ Category

The Troll’s Opinion – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Okay, first of all: Spoiler Alert! This review is full of descriptions of important parts of the movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and don’t want to mess up your own experience, do yourself a favor and do not read this. You have been warned.

I admit that I am a person who really believes the hype, unlike what a certain rap song tries to tell me. But when I saw the first teaser for Transformers 2, or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I was sold. And after my big brother teased me even more by going to the premiere of the movie in the US, I just had to see it too. So, I grabbed my buddy Daniel, and we went to the movies.

So, in case you can’t be bothered with reading this whole review, let me sum it up for you in the words of the Nostalgia Critic: adequately satisfying. Starting off very good, the film had its moments of random, forced humor and stupid scenes that just didn’t contribute to the movie. So, how did it go, Aki?

Well, as I said, the movie starts off extremely well, showing us how the Autobots that remained on Earth work together with a special military unit called NEST to seek and destroy remaining Decepticons. During an operation in Shanghai, the Autobots and their organic buddies blow up half of the city, and the American government is anything but pleased. Arguing that the Autobots will just draw more Decepticons to Earth, a representative of the President demands them to leave, so that Earth will not become the battlefield for an alien vendetta. Optimus Prime, still being voiced by the awesome Peter Cullen, understands the fear of the humans, but knows that the recent growth of Decepticon activity has a completely different reason, namely the return of the so-called “Fallen”… (insert dramatic music here).

Meanwhile, our protagonist Samuel Witwicky (Shia LeBouef) prepares for leaving to his college in Europe (by the looks of it, I guess he’s studying in Britain). While calling his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan “Hot Piece of Booty” Fox), he discovers a sliver of the Allspark in one of his old, torn-up sweaters. As Sam touches the shard, he is infused with the knowledge of weird, alien symbols, and turns into a complete mindfuck in the coming days. The height of his possession comes during his first astronomy class, and afterwards he paints the walls of his dorm full with the cryptic signs. This seems to draw the attention of a hot co-ed, who turns out to be A FREAKING DECEPTICON! Since when do Transformers take the form of a human?

Oh well, it all turns awesome when the Decepticons start to hunt Sam because of his knowledge, which seems to be the travelling guide to some kind of Sun-sucking machine, which turns the energy of stars into pure Energon, the lifeforce of every Cybertronian. However, the Autobots know what it means when the Decepticons, now clearly lead by the enigmatic Fallen, would blast out the sun: not only would the entire human race be doomed, but the Decepticons would have enough Energon to raise a whole army, even without the Allspark. A thrilling race against time starts, full of explosions, epic battles, a bit of romance and the death of Optimus Prime.

Who-whoa-whoa-what?! Optimus freaking Prime dies? No worries, crying fanboys, he is resurrected, but I was kinda shocked when he was stabbed to death by Megatron (who’s voiced again by Elro…ehh, Mr. Smi…ehh, Hugo Weaving). Even though this is a good twist, I can’t help it but feeling like this movie could have been so much more…

Of course, it had some really awesome stuff. For example, Jetfire is one of the coolest Transformers I have ever seen: old, senile and relying on a walking stick / battleaxe to walk around. Everytime he talked, I had to think of all those Vietnam veterans telling their cruel war stories. Jetfire is even so old, that his transformation looks clunky and anything but smooth! Also, the special effects and combat scenes are off the chain. Just like in the first movie, the fights between gigantic robots, with little human soldiers crawling beneath them look unbelievable epic and awesome. And last but not least, there’s not just one very pretty lady in this flick, but two (even though the second turns out to be some brain-eating killer machine)!

Still, this movie is flawed in several ways, suffering clearly of Sequelilitis. Some of the dialogue just feels crappy and rather weird, and the kid-friendly characters like the twins Mudflap and Skids started to annoy me the second they were introduced. Furthermore, the ending is anything but satisfying, turning Optimus Prime into Ultra Optimus Prime and having him one-shot the Big Bad Evil Guy a.k.a. The Fallen. The directors could have really extened that fight, just to give the viewers a satisfying ending. Believe me, I left the cinema with very mixed feelings.

However, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not a bad movie, it’s just not as good as its predecessor. The whole movie just doesn’t feel as epic, dramatic and cool, and just lacks the genuine “kick” of the first one. Still, this movie offers enough to be worth its money: it is a firework of special effects, large-scale combat and even a bit of romance and family drama. It’s not a movie for everyone, but most surely one for us guys who just love to pop open a beer, lean back and enjoy the show. Autobots, transform and roll out!

Signed,

Aki

Rounding up

You know what I just realized a few hours a go? I just had my last classes for this academic year…wow. This year went by extremely fast…damn, it seems like yesterday that I got to know the people I would study with for, hopefully, 4 years. All that’s left to do now is surviving two weeks of exams and re-sits, and then I’m more than ready to enjoy one-and-a-half month of relaxation. Six weeks is quite alot, so what would I like to do in that time?

First of all, I want to take the time for reading a good book. It has been quite awhile since I worked my way through a fine novel, even though I enjoy nothing more than finishing my day by reading a few chapters before falling asleep. Also, I should use the spare time to write down some of my ideas, and get a little longer story going. Maybe the summer break is the ideal time to elaborate on my Anthanatos concept?

Second, I would love to take a little trip somewhere in Europe. I have some options, with an attractive invitation to visit Sweden for a while (thanks for that, Joakim!). So, who knows, I might update my blog from there during the break? 😀

And last, but not least, summer break is the ideal time to do something nerdish, just to keep up the reputation. So, anyone who has input on that, just drop me a line. Anything’s possible: from a Stargate SG-1 marathon, to a crazy experimental RPG one-shot.

For now, I’m off to enjoy the evening. I adivce you to do the same, especially with this song I just can’t get out of my head:

Signed,

Aki

P.S.: Yes, it’s a new blog skin. Awesomesauce, righto?

The Troll’s Opinion – Star Trek

Wow, this movie was terribly…average. Gosh, what a letdown for my €7,50.

Now now, dear Trekkies, you would love to know what makes the Troll so sad about the new Star Trek movie? Honestly, I don’t know. This movie just doesn’t feel like Star Trek, no, it feels like what a fanfiction author would do with the franchise if you would give him a few millions and tell him to make a movie high on special effects about his personally written alternative storylines. That kinda brings it to the point.

Everything about this movie is average. The actors? Average, even though I have to admit that they made quite some cool choices for the key characters like Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana might be a bit skinny, but makes a very delicious xenolinguist). Also, I liked the way Chekov and Scotty acted in this movie. But what for the love of William Shattner got them to cast Chris Pine as the young James Tiberius Kirk? No matter what he does, he looks like a high-school dropout who tries to act all tough and bulky. Oh, what do you say? That’s his role in this movie? Sad, very, very sad. And oh so average…

You might think the story can save it? WRONG! Again, we meet an average two-dimensional bad guy (played by Eric Bana, known from his protagonist part in the “Hulk”), who has an average plan full of vengeance and hatred, and who has a lame and average Doomsday Device. My dear J.J. Abrams, did YOU write the script? Because, you know….did you lose all your awesomeness in the writing process for the twenty-fifth season of Lost? Are you sparing your energies for a totally awesome sequeal to Cloverfield? Or are you just kidding us? Really, get something different than [SPOILER ALERT!] frickin’ time-travelling!

So, that’s two points for Team Average. What could save this movie? Right, the special effects! I would be lying if I said that they sucked, because they were more than awesome. Gene Roddenberry would be kinda proud of what we can do with his franchise nowadays, and I guess he would have loved to be a part of the creation of these space battles. Still, I somehow have a hate for that extremely sterile look of the Enterprise, which causes a very interesting contrast with the ride of our two-dimensional big bad evil guy, however.

But still, some flashy effects do not make a movie awesome. When the credits started rolling, I said in my seat and had a very strong feeling of: “Mehh”. Is this all we can get out of such an awesome world and setting nowadays? Do we really have to resort to the most cheapest of storylines, with some not-so-awesome actors? I expected more of the revival of this brand, and thus, I feel very, very, let down. And I hoped that this movie was enough to get my brother into the Trekkie-camp. You have failed me, Abrams!

And thus, this movie get’s no more than 2 out of 5 “Fascinating”-remarks from me. I’m sorry Leonard Nimoy, but even your presence couldn’t save this movie.

Signed,

Aki

On the horizon: Star Wars – The Old Republic

You cannot tell me this is not so awesome and epic. It might be because I have the hots for Star Wars and everyone who uses a lightsaber as his primary weapon, but I’m still drooling all over this.

Of course, I know of Star Wars: The Old Republic for quite awhile. After seeing how Star Wars: Galaxies by SOE failed miserably as they made essential changes to the core concepts of the game, I believed that LucasArts wouldn’t trust anyone ever again when it comes to turning the good ol’ franchise into an innovative and progressive MMO. But I guess when BioWare, creators of renown games like “Knights of the Old Republic” and “Mass Effect”, came knocking on my door to create a game based on my gazillion-dollar-franchise, I would have a hard time to say no.

But what makes me have so much trust in this title, except for the fact it is made by a group of people who obviously know how to create an immersive experience? Well, call it a marketing technique, but it definitly got me hooked: BioWare wants to add a missing element to the MMO world: story. Now I know that most MMOs at the moment already have some kind of story backdrop, but think about it…what direct impact does the story have on YOUR character? Does it influence him in any way, except on a role-playing level? I think not. All the MMOs I’ve played so far had good background stories, but all of them were just that: background.

BioWare strives to creating a personal storyline for every class. In that storyline your character will have choices to make, and this choices will make your story different from that of someone else who plays exactly the same class. Think about the following: you are fighting a grim battle against the man who killed your beloved one years ago, but who also happens to be the only one who knows how to get off of this hellhole planet. In an epic battle, you have the chance to wrangle your arch-nemesis to the ground, ready for taking the final blow. And here comes the choice: do you let vengeance guide you, and kill this bastard, or do you let him live, so he can get you off the planet? The choice is yours. Believe me, if this works out like I hope it will, I guarantee goosebump-moments and some epic storytelling. And guess what I just LOVE in video games?

The other thing that really interests me is the setting BioWare picked: the Old Republic. This sets the game several thousand years before the rise of Darth Vader, and lets us play in a time where Jedis and other force-wielding persons were more common than in the “default” Star Wars setting. This will also make it more plausible for having quite some Jedis and Sith as characters, unlike what SOE did in Star Wars: Galaxies. Still, BioWare should make sure to not screw up the immersion: the Force is still a very rare gift, and the last thing I want to see is a server population of 75% Jedis, and 25% other classes.

Which leads me to my only real problem with this game: handling Jedis and Sith. Personally, I liked SOE’s early approach to “Jedihood” in the early months of Star Wars: Galaxies. Players had to fulfill a long, long chain of quests, which took you a very long time to beat. At the end of this chain, you had to face a very hard and perilous trial, and only if you could beat that, your character rose into the rank of a Jedi, wielding power unlike most other characters on the server. This made Jedis rare and unique, and it just felt right. Of course it was not the fairest way to handle it, but it kept the amount of these gifted people low.

As we all know, SOE changed that later, in a way that was just completely sick: everyone could roll a Jedi from the very START. This threw off the balance of the game, and was the essential suicide of the whole game. So how will BioWare work around this? Jedi and Sith as a starting class, or as something you have to “unlock”? Or will they take some complete new approach? I can hardly wait to see what these geniuses will do!

Until then, I can only say “May the Force be with you”!

Signed,

Aki

Is God nothing but a particle?

So, last night I went out with Daniel and Britt to see Angels & Demons, the wide-screen version of the famous novel by Dan Brown. Even though many of my friends warned me, and told me to rather see something else a bit more nerdy, I was more than pleased. The pace of the movie is fast, and doesn’t leave you bored in your seat while also learning something about Catholic history (including some semi-true stuff).

The movie got me thinking however, because of that one part where science and religion are compared to being just two different languages describing the same thing, and how they can co-exist. I’m wondering…is that truly possible? Can two completely different things co-exist, or even merge into one single being, a kind of belief in Divine Progress, or Holy Technology? Well, I think that such a thing is possible.

Let us look at the roots of modern science, and especially chemistry and physics: Ancient Greece. Way back, Greek philosophers tried to find explanations for why things work like they…well, work. One of the earliest concepts of chemistry, which would also be the foundation of the later created Alchemy, was born: the transmutation of different elements. Empedocles stated that all of creation was based on the four elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Later philosophers added an element that held these four together, named Aether. These elements could transform into each other, and be reborn as another one. This is not too different from modern-day chemistry, even though our modern periodic table of chemical elements contains 117, instead of just 4 (or 5) elements.

However, this view was not purely scientific. Philosophers used it as the foundation of their own belief, of their view on how the Gods worked their wonders on Earth. In addition, they saw their “science” as a way of mimicking these powers, and doing something of god-like proportions. In their ancient society, science and religion were not like two different polarities. No, they were more like two sides of the same coin.

However, in time, some philosophers became scientists, and others priests. The first group tried to understand the world in a more…empirical way. A way based on the perception of the world around us. The second group, however, put their faith into something that cannot be explained by scientific means or whatsoever. They started to believe that some things cannot be explained by pure observation and codification: some things were meant to be uncomprehendible by the human mind. And so, these once united spirits drifted apart.

And we all know how that ended: ideologies collided, people got mad about what other people said, some people got burned, others got exiled, and from time to time the occassional church got burned and university got blamed for creating anti-Christian academics. But imagine what we could have achieved if science and religion, no wait, science and FAITH would have combined their forces, and united the world on a whole new level?

Science is the tool that expresses mankind’s need to evolve, to strife for the next big thing. It is in science where a human can break the boundaries of his body and mind. Look at what our modern science can do: fight diseases on a molecular level, create power sources that are near infinite and bring humans into space. These things are wonderful and good, but people still need guidance. Is our path the right one? Will we find ascension at the end of the rocky road? In comes faith…

Faith is another tool, a tool used by humans to give them support in things they cannot completely comprehend. Science can create wonders, but some things are just not yet achievable. Faith can give the inner strength to those who need, to those who need a higher concept to guide them. See it as an outline, a rough blueprint you build your dreams and ideas on. A blueprint which can be the final spark of imagination needed to create the next scientific wonder…

So I ask you, die-hard scientists who deny the existence of all divinity, to look into yourself and witness how often you have asked yourself “Why?” and couldn’t find an answer in your quantum physics. You might find one in faith.

And I ask you, stubborn fanatic zealot, to drop your shield of belief and your monopoly on the truth. Look at what answers mankind has to all the questions your holy book or local preacher has. Just try to embrace them, and weave them into your “divine construct”.

Don’t worry lads. In the end, God will neither be an old man chilling on some cloud, nor will it be a single particle that is at the core of every atom. No, fellow readers, because in the end…science, faith and divinity is what you make out of it.

I wish you all a good night.

Signed,

Aki

The Hunt for Gollum

You want to know what kind of stuff you can do with about $3000? Well, you could go on a very expensive shopping spree, or get yourself a very, very nice second-hand car. But I know something even better: making one heck of an awesome Lord of the Rings fan movie.

Certainly the most entertaining 40 minutes of my Sunday afternoon.

Signed,

Aki

Solutions, friends…solutions!

Well, most quotes from my last post were more than easy. But I heard from several sources that the remaining quotes were extremely hard to guess without using Google-Fu or someother research martial art. Well, folks, let’s solve this puzzle once and for all!

“The video arcade is down the street. Here we just sell small rectangular objects. They’re called books. They require a little effort on your part, and make no bee-bee-bee-bee-beeps. On your way please.”

People who know me can tell that if there is one movie from my childhood that left a damn big impression, it must be Neverending Story. Seen from a professional point of view, the movie wasn’t THAT good. Compared to the book it is based on, it even kinda sucked. But boy, did I LOVE the sight of Falcor the Luck Dragon. And guess what? My mood still gets all sunny when I see that smiling dog-like face! But who actually said that quote? Well, it was this grumpy old librarian…

Mr. Koreander, the stereotypical old man who just KNOWS that kids know longer read books, but are only entertained by the sight of virtual bloodshed and high scores. Little did he know that one day, a socially awkward boy named Bastian would stumble into his bookstore, and that a book from his collection would send that child on the adventure of a lifetime…

“Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”

I’m keeping this one short, because it is terrible easy: Aragorn from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. That wasn’t TOO hard?

“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

There are some movies that are so awesome, that not seeing them is just a sin. A cardinal sin. One of these movies is Forrest Gump, another one is The Dark Knight. I think it’s more than clear from what movie this quote is, right?

“Me? I’ve had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest and the earth. I am… I am a faun. Your most humble servant, Your Highness.”

Guillermo del Toro is one of the biggest visionaries when it comes to movies. One of his most memorable movies is Pan’s Labyrinth. The movie revolves around a little girl in Spain during World War 2, who flees from the horror that reality is, and finds refuge in her own imagination. The movie has a somehow sad ending, but is filled with memorable scenes and creatures. The most memorable of them is the scary, yet somehow charming Faun, who has a firm place in my movie memory. I mean, look at him, you just have to love him!

“I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky…”

Indiana Jones. But which one, and from who’s lips? Well, this one is from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, my favorite of all the Indy-movies. Not just because of the epic storyline around the Holy Grail, but also because of Sean Connery, and his role as Professor Henry Jones. No, not as DOCTOR Henry Jones, that’s his son. Connery knows how to play the charming, yet somehow strange and bizarre old man with his ivory-tower approach. Still, you score about 500 points in my book when you quote Carolus Magnus, or Charlemagne for those who slack in Latin.

“Sam, wait! No matter what happens, I’m really glad I got in that car with you.”

Transformers, duh! But, ladies: guys didn’t watch this movie just for the shape-shifting cars. No, there was a certain other reason…

“None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with you. You’re locked up in here with me.”

Yes, we know that, Rorschach. You made your point quite clear by incapacitating several of your inmates. But still, Watchmen is a terrible awesome movie, even though a gigantic blue penis is waiting around the corner of every scene. Ahh well, it could be worse, huh?

Signed,

Aki