Posts Tagged ‘trolltastictalk’

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

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