Posts Tagged ‘trolltastic’

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

Status Report

Politics? Done.
English? Done.
Spanish? Grrrrr!

Yeah, my exams are going well. But Spanish tomorrow will probably demoralize me, causing a -5 despair penalty on my next Study Marketing check…sigh…

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?

Japantag 2009

One week left until having to endure an entire week of exams, so what does lil’ Aki do? Nope, he’s not studying…he had some off-the-hook fun at the Japantag 2009 in Düsseldorf, Germany!

The Japantag (english: Japan Day) is an annual festival organized by the city of Düsseldorf to celebrate the unique relationship between Germany and Japan (which is about more than just covering each others back in some World War almost 70 years a go). All along the Rhine, you’ll find stands and shows, and to go out with a bang, the day is concluded by an awesome fireworks show.

My personal reason for going to the Japantag, however, is not just my interest in Japanese society and culture, but also my fascination for the strangests hobbies around: Cosplay and Japanese fashion. Now, don’t be scared: I will probably never dress up as some Anime character myself, but I love to so people investing their spare time in creating brilliant and beautiful outfits. I had the chance to marvel at some truly masterful outfits this year, but sadly, my eyes also had to endure terrible pain and agony caused by chubby little girls who felt like dressing up in mini-skirts and far too tight tanktops. I hope that the memory will fade some day…

Anyway, I had a damn good time this year. I had the chance to see people that I hadn’t seen for ages (still, Laura, we still have to meet up again!), laugh about silly jokes, eat gross food and fall asleep at 4 AM this morning with a feeling of pure satisfaction and delight.

Unfortunately, I haven’t received much photos yet, but I can give you this one:

haru markus japantag 2009

Can’t you see, posing is my specialty!

I’ll update this blog as soon as I have some new pictures, so stay tuned!

Signed,

Aki

The Geek Pit

People who know me know my geek-potential, which is quite high. So, to figure out how geeky I truly am, they ask me questions like: Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers? Pokémon or Digimon? Dungeons & Dragons or Tunnels & Trolls? Well, most of the time, I just ignore queries like those, but one question just keeps coming back:

“Aki, are you more in the Star Wars or the Star Trek camp?”

Frankly, I don’t even know. So, to see which of these two franchises can conquer my heart, I’ll have them duke it out in The Geek Pit: Star Wars vs. Star Trek! In a three-round epic battle, we will see which science-fiction brand is King of the Hill! A word of caution: I do not base this fight on any objective perception and empirical study, just on my bare gut feeling. So in case you’re not sharing my opinion…don’t try to find out where I live.

Round 1: Creativity

When it comes to science-fiction, I like my shows to be in some way original, and not just as some carbon copy of something I have seen a million times. Both Star Trek and Star Wars are the foundation of many of our modern sci-fi clichés, but what was their “catching phrase” when they came out, and which one was better?

When Star Trek aired in 1966, it had some very creative stuff: spaceships flying at post-light speed called “warp”, alien races that were either friendly or extremely deadly, and the technology to “beam” objects and living beings around. Later on, Star Trek discovered that their fanbase was largely made up of PhD’s and semi-scientists, so they could turn it up to eleven and add even more half-true technobabble, giving the franchise the reputation for being quite a “realistic” outlook on how our future could look. However, this made the show also very, very heavy and somehow even truly philosophical, which is not exactly what you want on your Friday evening while enjoying a cold beer.

Eleven years later, the first Star Wars movie aired. Before going into premiere, George Lucas organized a private presentation of the film for the crew and their friends and family. After the movie ended, George’s wife just said: “What an amount of bullshit” (or something like that). Well, miss Lucas, apparently science-fiction fans just LOVE bullshit, since the franchise is the best-selling movie series after James Bond and Harry Potter. What makes Star Wars stand out is the unique combination of science-fiction technology and space-faring heroes with classical fantasy elements like the quest of a Chosen One and an order of noble knights using a mysterious power (the Jedi and the Force). Definitely, Star Wars is a lot more epic than its rival: it has the bigger space-fights, the more dramatic one-on-one-duels and that gritty feel to it. All in all, the whole concepts and ideas behind this brand are more accessible to the broad public than Star Trek is.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love my share of intellectual talk about the probability that a worm hole could end in subspace, causing a spaceship to be reduced to nothing but quantum particles. But let me tell you where Star Wars has the cutting edge when it comes to creativity and shaping the science-fiction genre, next to epic storytelling and revolutionary shots: lightsabers. Say whatever you want, but lightsabers are the coolest thing that ever came from a director’s mind. So, I have to say…Round 1 goes to Star Wars!

Round 2: Coming of age

Now, we all know that both franchises are old: Star Trek turned 43 this year, and Star Wars is just ten years younger. However, my question is: how did both franchises evolve over time?

The Star Trek franchise spawned six television series and about a dozen full-length feature movies, each exploring different parts of that big Star Trek cosmos. Until today, nerds fight about who is the best captain, and what ship was the most awesome. But in the end, all that matters is that Star Trek was one heck of a productive franchise in these last 43 years, and…the women on the show got more gorgeous! Nichelle Nichols a.k.a. Uhura from the Original Series was not THAT special, but just look at Jeri Ryan a.k.a. Seven of Nine. Damn, if all Borg looked that HOT, I would get myself assimilated ASAP!

Certainly, resistance to this IS futile...

Certainly, resistance to this IS futile...

Now, women are not everything (but, frankly, quite much), but Star Trek did quite some other stuff to keep itself alive, with its latest spawn being the new Star Trek movie. Even though most Trekkies (including me) are disappointed, the movie did manage to give Star Trek a young and more action-packed face. This franchise isn’t dead yet, even though it limits its presence mostly to telly shows and big-screen movies.

Star Wars, on the other hand, made sure to fully use every medium available, and did especially well on the novel and comic book market. Also, the “new” trilogy gave the whole saga an even more epic presentation, giving Lucas the chance to show the world what he really had in mind when he started filming the original trilogy way back in the seventies. Also, media coming out under the label of “Expanded Universe” keeps the cosmos of Star Wars growing and growing, elaborating on existing storylines and adding new ones. The television show “The Clone Wars” used quite an original animation style to depict the events between episode II and III, and novels and comics based around the movies just keep coming.

However, Star Wars didn’t change much in these 33 years. Where the Star Trek franchise actually at least tried to look like it changed (changing crews, ships and locations in the universe), the galaxy of Star Wars just remained the same for the ignorant observant. So, I’m afraid I have to cut Star Trek some slack here. Round 2 goes to Star Trek!

Final Round: Memorable characters

No matter how good your plot is, no matter how expensive your special effects are: if your characters are dull and boring, your story is an instant failure. Luckily, both Star Trek and Star Wars are rich with thrilling personas, races and factions. But which brand has the coolest of ‘em?

When it comes to Star Trek, most people will think of either Captain James Kirk or Captain Jean-Luc Picard, as they are the hallmark of the different captains. In pop culture, these two have become the reason for the geekiest of discussions: which captain is better? However, Star Trek has some other quite interesting characters, like Scotty, Data, Seven of Nine (forgive me, but…RAWR!) and the hologram Doctor. Unfortunately, most of these never really got into the common mass media, and stay quite unremembered outside of the nerd-o-sphere.

Enter Star Wars, a brand that managed to create the most stereotype of sci-fi bad guys, who’s most renowned quote gets abused so often in pop culture it’s not even funny anymore: Darth Vader. Who DOESN’T know him? His suit, helmet and voice are more than remarkable, and what bad guy can say he has a theme like him? Pure awesome! But we’re not done yet! Who’s green and never heard of grammar, but kicks your ass anytime? Oh yes, Jedi Master Yoda! Another character that gets quoted so often and somehow everyone tries to speak like the little gnome, but fails miserably due to being educated in linguistic structures. Even sidekicks like Admiral Ackbar made it into pop culture just because of one damn line!

So, I hate to break it to you, but this final round just has to go to Star Wars. I think we have a winner!

STAR WARS WINS!

But don’t worry, Trekkies, it’s not like I don’t like your stuff. If you just had light sabers and Force powers, instead of technobabble and Vulcans…

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

Reporting!

Alright, I just returned from Cologne, and I’m dead tired. But you know what? Today was one unbelievable awesome day, and I’m not going to describe it in plain, simple words. No, you better get ready for my Role Play Convention 2009 Report…with pictures!

After a LAN-party at Fridaynight, I got up at 6:30 in de morning after a measly 4 hours of sleep. Oh well, the shower did me good, and after my 20 minute bus drive to Aachen Central Station, this magical elixir definitly hit the right note:

COFFEE!!!

COFFEE!!!

Yes, coffee! Or, to be more accurate: cappucino. A big mug of this divine sensation of the senses got me ready for a the train ride, which was not really noteworthy. As a true nerd I used to time I sat in the train to read up on my European Science stuff, but I got tired of reading about the financial crisis and old farts pretty quick, so you can understand that I was more than happy when the conducter announced that we had arrived at the Cologne Trade Fair (generally known as the “Koelnmesse”). As I got out the train, I checked my route planner for the next step of the journey. My paper fellow told me to search for “Strassenbahn 4”, which I did. But while I was looking for the tram, I noticed signs pointing out a footway towards the Koelnmesse. I said to myself: “What the heck, you have to healthy feet! How far can it be when the tram needs 2 minutes for it?”

Well, turns out that I was smarter than the route planner from the internet. Using the tram to get to the trade fair would have been nothing but a detour! And thus, I arrived about five minutes sooner than planned (what a difference), bought my ticket (which seemed to include about a dozen of common Magic: the Gathering cards…thanks organizers for adding more cardboard to my life), and entered the convention. I was supposed to meet up with Tommy and Natalia at the “Risen”-stand, but in the first minute of my attendance I was just OVERWHELMED by the sheer amount of people, colorful banners, costumes and goodies available! Dazzled by this cognitive overload, I almost walked straight past my two companions, but Tommy made sure to catch my attention (believe me, he has some suitable “attention phrases”).

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Our tour around the RPC started with an inspection of the LARP supplies shops around the main hall. Tommy and I are closet LARP’ers, but in this case I mean to say “too broke and lazy to start it” with the word “closet”. Still, we share a certain fascination for latex weaponry (addendum: every guy on this planet loves to hit someone with something. It’s fact), so the boothes supplied us with ample opportunity to see interesting designs and notice a certain difference in quality. But also, we noticed a difference in service. A little stand of a Danish LARP gear supplier (why did I forget their name) surprised us with a sign at the stand, saying: “Touch everything, and try it out…they don’t break easily”. Well, you don’t have to say that twice! Tommy and I got ourselves a fine blade, and went at it. After about five minutes of…ahum, finely aimed strikes and skillful handling of the sword, Tommy and I called it a draw, and decided to go at it again at the next best occassion. So, if you see me slinging around rubber swords in my living room, don’t ask. I’m just doing the Rocky Balboa training thing, but just more freaky. And with more sweat.

Our trip around the Role Play Convention got us to some very interesting stands, and we took our time to check out the boothes of industry giants like EA (boasting their MMO-RTS-TCG experience “BattleForge”), Upper Deck and more. Strange enough, I wasn’t THAT impressed by their appearances, as their stands just looked tóó sterile and controlled. Add to that the fact that the EA stand boothbabes (who were some very nice pieces of booty) seemed to be afraid of cameras, so I did not catch a single picture of them. A shame, as they seemed to be the only really hot booth babes around (trust me, girls with HUGE thighs in short skirts can almost ruin the last remnants of your already crippled eye sight).

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The halls were just filled with pure awesomeness, and a wide variation of publishers, companies, clubs and more. Of course, all of them were somehow related to fantasy, sci-fi and / or role-playing, but most of them added to the very warm and friendly atmosphere. Well, that “warm” feeling might be an after effect of the twelve different kinds of mead I tasted. Come to think of it, I forgot to get me a bottle of that cinnamon-flavored mead…damn!

Around 14:30, we made our way to the “Lese-Ecke” (Reading Corner), where one of the grand-masters of fantasy held a reading / Q&A session / autograph session: Andrzej Sapkowski, author of the books on which the PC-RPG smash hit “The Witcher” is based on. This Polish old gentleman turned out to be a man who was very well aware of his status amongst fantasy literature lovers, and loved to joke about it. Comments about how “truly awesome” he was were just the beginning, swiftly followed by a short story about how he became the “grand author he is now”, finished off with an outlook on his future, seeing himself working together with Steven Spielberg to make a DECENT Witcher-movie. The sarcasm was literally dripping from his statements, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the sit.

We concluded our visit by trying out a boardgame at one of the free gaming tables. We chose “Dust” (I can literally feel the CS-jokes coming up), a tactical boardgame set in an alternate future, where World War 2 never really ended, and the whole world turned into one big battlefield. The game shares some similarities with Risk, but feels kinda cool due to its unique setting and quick-to-learn basic rules. After three rounds though, we noticed that the game could last for a whole night if we wanted to play it by the book, so we changed the winning conditions a bit, and the gentlemen got their asses handed to them by Natalia. That’s what you get when you let a woman lead an army…

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Before catching the train home, Tommy, Natalia and I had a little diner at the local McDonalds, made sure to see each other as soon as possible, and went separate ways. While sifting through my collection of flyers, magazines and other goodies collected, I felt anything but let down by this experience. The Role Play Convention was even cooler than I imagined, showing visitors every possible facette of the role-playing subculture. The staff members were nice and helpful, and every visitor added to the totally awesome-o-saurus experience. In case that the organizers decide to stay in Cologne, I’m probably back at the RPC next year.

Signed,

Aki