Friday, July 27, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - A Short(ish) Review

This review will have spoilers so I'll write this first bit for people who haven't watched it yet.

The Dark Knight Rises is a very satisfying conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy.  It has everything you would want in a finale:  epic battles, a skin tight catsuit wearing Mia Thermopolis, indiscernible voices from mask wearing characters, and a crying Michael Caine.  Honestly, if you like Batman in the least and you've seen the other two films, you should watch this movie.

Okay, I got sucked so far into this movie that I forgot all my knowledge of the Batman comics.  They throw a red herring out that Bane is Ra's Al Ghul's son.  I know that Talia is Ra's Al Ghul's child.  But I bought it, hook, line, and sinker.  It made total sense that Bane was the mastermind.  Of course, once "Miranda" gutted Batman I realized the errors of my ways and thanked God that it was dark in the theatre so nobody could see my embarrassment at being duped.

The point is, this movie is a good way.  The biggest issue that I had was the relationship between Bruce and Miranda.  All of a sudden they're bangin' beside the fire.  There was no romance or chemistry, it just happened.  Which actually sent up red flags that something was fishy with her.  Especially since Mia Themopolis and Batman obviously had something going on.  But the movie was so engaging that by the time Gotham was overrun I had forgotten about those red flags.

Some of that could have been due to the length of the film.  It ran for about half a day.  But unlike Breaking Dawn Part I it didn't seem to last forever.  I honestly thought it should have lasted longer.  If the relationship between Bruce and Miranda hadn't been brushed over it would have made the betrayal much more exciting, and it would have made me care that Bruce cared.  But the "romance" accomplished it's goal and moved on, so that's good.

Another issue I had was that I couldn't understand anyone in this movie.  I think my theatre just had a terrible mixer, because the bass overpowered everything.  Batman and Bane are hard enough to understand without the music or explosions drowning out what they're saying so much that I have to strain to even understand context.  Even Gary Oldman (who I didn't know was British until Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out) was unintelligible.  Mayhaps it was the awesome 'stache that he rocked which muffled his voice.  Except I think it was bigger in the first two movies.  Anyway, I hope that was just a bad mix in the theatre.  If anyone else experienced this maybe it's just a plain bad mix.  Either way, when I watch this with my deaf roommate I guess I'll find out what I missed by reading the subtitles.


Really, this is the type of summer movie that needs to be made.  The Avengers is like the Call of Duty video games, in that it appeals to the lowest common denominator.  It's good fun, but there isn't a whole lot of depth and you don't need to think to enjoy.  I guess the same could be said of The Dark Knight Rises as there is a bunch of cool gadgets, sweet action, and explosions (in that you can just shut off your brain and enjoy the ride), but this is an actual smart movie with real character depth and story.  Unlike in The Avengers, I felt for these characters, especially the bad guys, which is a sure sign of good storytelling.

So my recommendation is watch this movie.  Just not at the Century at Pacific Commons until they get a better mixer.

UPDATE:  Oh, one thing I forgot to mention was that when I first saw the previews I figured this would go the way the old Batman movies went:  there were way too many characters.  I was pleasantly surprised at how natural everyone seemed to fit into the script.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Onion

My mind is shot.  I just finished summer school today and I really felt like turning my brain off, which I did after a terrible bout of fighting with a terrible C++ project.

I didn't have anything to write about, but thanks to the trap that is the YouTube sidebar I rediscovered the fake newspaper/news show The Onion.  I got a good laugh and thought I'd share it with you.

Below is a picture of very well done, subtle humor.  The news ticker has nothing to do with what the dude is talking about, and it's perfect random crap which makes for well timed humor.  Below that is the video it actually came from, which makes fun of Kickstarter, an awesome website which helps sincere, but generally under-qualified people to live their dream of some sort (read - I'll be on there soon enough :).  But it's also used to help fund amazing stuff like the return of Five Iron Frenzy and a return to form for Tim Schafer and Rob Gilbert!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

M83 - Midnight City and Reunion

I hated M83's Midnight City when I first heard it on the radio.  It sounds like music from the 80s which I hate.  Except, it started to grow on me.  The more I heard it the more I enjoyed it.  Then I watched the music video which is super awesome.  The sequel is another song called Reunion.  I don't like it as much as Midnight City but the video is totally worth a watch.  The production quality is startlingly high.

Check 'em below.

Part I Midnight City

Part II Reunion

freddiew - YouTube Badass

Medal of Honor Cat, you are truly America's greatest hero.

Have you guys heard of the amazing YouTube channel freddiew?  It's two guys who love action films, who make action shorts (the kind you watch, not wear), and who seem like really nice dudes.  Above is one of my favorites called Medal of Honor Cat.  They combine humor and action and some really cool stunts.  They're such groovy guys that they have a separate channel devoted to behind the scenes stuff from their main channel.

Check it out, otherwise Medal of Honor Cat died for nothing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Hobbit Blog

Peter Jackson's take on The Lord of the Rings was amazing.  These three movies are some of my favorite, especially the Extended Editions.  When I found out that Peter Jackson was actually on to direct The Hobbit  I was excited.  Sure, I think Guillermo del Toro's take on it would have been good, but I don't think it would have felt like it was in the same world as The Lord of the Rings movies.

Anyhoo, the first movie doesn't come out until December 14th, but thankfully Peter Jackson and crew have made production videos to make us salivate and wish the end of the year were closer.  Click the banner below to venture to the official Hobbit Blog.  Check out the videos and other tidbits of info on the upcoming duology.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Weekend Plus A Short Review of Drive

Deceptively bad poster of the best movie I've seen in a long, long time
The Fast & Furious movies are terrible.  They're fun to watch with a group of people, but they are just plain bad.  That's the main reason I never saw Drive.  Other reasons included that I've never seen Ryan Gosling in anything except The Notebook, and that was terrible, too.  Then I saw the poster and the font that the title is written in makes it seem like a naughty film.

However, the good folks over at RedLetterMedia reviewed this in their Half in the Bag movie reviews and I figured I'd give it a go.  But I just never got around to it, that is, until this weekend.  My fiance was sick so I went to her place and we watched movies all day, starting with what might possibly be the worst movie ever which was an Indian movie called Fast (my fiance is Indian; otherwise I wouldn't have bothered).  I think we watched about ten minutes and even she thought it was terrible, and she has bad taste in movies.

After gouging out my eyes because Fast was such a terrible movie, we headed over to 7-11 to that wonder of wonders, The Red Box.  We picked up Paranormal Activity 3, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (in 2D), and Drive.  The first two were exactly what you'd expect.

But Drive was absolutely amazing.  From a purely technical perspective, Drive was the first film in a very long time that I noticed how carefully every scene was shot to include the right composition, lighting, and timing.  Ryan Gosling did a fantastic job as did the entire cast which includes Ron Pearlman and Albert Brooks as the antagonists, and Carey Mulligan and Walter White made up the supporting cast of good guys.

This is not a Fast & Furious type of movie.  I wouldn't call it slow, although it might seem that way.  Instead, I would say it's well thought out.  Everything happens in the proper time, it doesn't rush anything.  But when action happens it happens in full force.  This is not a movie to watch with the kiddies.  It's brutally violent and very realistic in how it plays out.  

In fact, everything about this movie is very realistic, especially the relationship between Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.  He's not some badass who just picks up on women because he's a badass.  He's a quiet, shy badass and he does what needs to be done and doesn't talk about how awesome he is.

If there was one fault in this movie, I'd say it's the selection of songs.  They aren't horrible, and they fit really well with everything in the movie, I just don't like the songs.

So bottom line, check this movie out.  It's amazing and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't watch it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mass Effect 2 - Character Driven Story

While I'm on the subject of how much I hate Mass Effect 2 here's a little comic I made to illustrate how terrible the writing is and just the overall feel of that most evil of modern games.

Characters should have character

Storytelling - Mystery

I love stories.  Stories can open your mind and make you see things in a different light than what you currently see them in.

Conversely, bad stories can open your mind and make you see things in a different light that makes you wish the lights had never been turned on.

One very poor, but sure, sign of a bad storyteller is when something that is a mystery is revealed when it is unnecessary for the story to advance.  Obviously, in a mystery novel the main mystery must be revealed, otherwise there isn't really a book.  So what do I mean?

I'll give you two examples of where a mystery was revealed and because of this the story broke down.  The first we'll talk about is Star Wars, something very near and dear to my heart.  When Darth Vader first walks onto Princess Leia's Corellian Corvette (the ship at the beginning of Star Wars) I knew all that I needed to know.  He was the one dude in the black suit amid a bunch of white.  He stood out as the bad guy.  He was a dude that thirsted for power and reveled in it and no one was gonna mess with him.  And all this you can gather in the first few seconds of screen time.  Later on Obi-Wan is talking to Luke and says that Vader was a pupil of his but he turned to the Dark Side.  There's some back story and it's relevant and more importantly concise.  It also sets up what happens later in the film when Obi-Wan and Vader head off.  It adds some tension to the fight scene because you knew that they were once friends.

Obi-Wan, in just a few lines, explains everything that you need to know about Vader.  There is no need to make three horrible prequels to explain this.  For one it cheapens the experience of the original story because Vader was a crybaby in the prequels, the antithesis of his character in Star Wars.  For another, as I've already established, we already know everything we need to know to grasp the character of Darth Vader.

Anakin Skywalker, crybaby

Darth Vader, badass
Okay, so that was a prequel, a twenty year afterthought.  Let's look at a mystery that was revealed in a direct sequel which totally ruins the experience in two terrible games called Mass Effect 2 & 3 (although 3 is bad from a purely storytelling sense, not actual gameplay...well, some gameplay).

I loved Mass Effect on PC.  Aside from some technical aspects it was a solid game, in play and story.  At the end of it you're introduced to Vigil, a VI construct of a Prothean, a long dead alien race, whom you never see and always understand very little about.  You also don't see what the Prothean looks like as the data has degraded over the millennia.  However he is a cool, unseen character and adds some desperation to you as the main character in that it makes you want to hunt down Saren and Sovereign, ::SPOILERS:: who is in fact a Reaper ::END SPOILERS::.  Throughout the whole game Protheans are integral to the story in the sense that they provide clues to what in the universe is going on.  Vigil provides the last piece of the puzzle and fulfills his mission.  And that's it.  You never really find out much about them, other than what was needed to complete the story.

However, in Mass Effect 2, you discover that the badguys, called Collectors, are actually ::SPOILERS:: the remains of the long dead Protheans who have been modified by the big badguys to do their bidding ::END SPOILERS::.  I'll admit that this could have been cool, but the way it was executed was so poorly done that it just seemed a cheap plot twist, because the Protheans had nothing to do with the second game, so there wasn't any build up.  However, in Mass Effect 3 they reveal that  ::SPOILERS:: there was one Prothean who still remained and he wasn't anything like the ancient race which was slightly revealed in the first Mass Effect ::END SPOILERS::.  Plus he was a complete and total ass-hat, which ruined the entire experience of the first game.  And do you know what that added to the story?  Nothing.  It didn't matter one bit.  ::SPOILERS::  When Sovereign was revealed as an actual Reaper in the first Mass Effect instead of just a Reaper ship, that was a revealed mystery that changed the nature of the narrative  ::END SPOILERS::.  It was exciting and fruitful.  But the reveal that Protheans were tyrannical, slaving douchebags, not some advanced, benevolent alien species didn't help the story.  It made me want to side with the Reapers and kill all sentient life, because who wants to end up like that?  Which is not good storytelling.

Vigil, unseen Prothean in Mass Effect
Javik, somehow alive Prothean in Mass Effect 3

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Man From Nowhere - A Short Review

The Man From Nowhere is a Korean action/drama film.  Which I didn't realize until I saw writing.  I thought it was Cantonese, not Mandarin because I actually took a semester of Mandarin and know what it sounds like.  And yes the character names should have been a give away, but I wasn't focusing on that.  I was wrong.  And I'm glad I was, because my biggest problem with Chinese films is that they're pretty goofy.  Funny is fine, as this film was at certain parts, but when people are mutilating each other with hatchets and blowing holes in each other the last thing you need is slapstick humor.  I think this was the first Korean movie I've watched and it was excellent.

Here are some bullet points as to why I enjoyed this movie:

  • I was never bored watching it.
  • The fight scenes were awesome but not over-the-top ridiculous like a lot of Kung-Fu movies are.  Also there weren't too many.  The fights were very well balanced with the drama.  
  • The child actress was pretty good in this.  
  • The movie was dark and grimy and they didn't hold back on the realism, which meant some of the stuff was brutal and they showed it.  But it was appropriate, I think.  
  • I actually clapped for our hero a couple of times because I was so involved in what was going on.
  • ::SPOILERS:: The good guy didn't die in the end, which made me smile!  YAY!  ::END SPOILERS::
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who doesn't mind reading subtitles.  Especially since you can watch it free on Hulu.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Super Mario Summary

Free games are awesome...but some of them are just time-killers.  Some though are incredibly good.  A Super Mario Summary is one of these incredibly good, free games.  It's based on the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES and it is exactly what it says it is.  Here's a screenshot of the first level.

Yes, level 1-1 looks easy.  But they really do get hard by 8-4.  Plus if you try and get all the coins, finish it in a specific set time, and get the tip top of the flagpole, it's a real challenge.  I've gotten an "S" grade on a third of the levels (which I assume stands for "sexy"), an "A" grade on maybe half, and I barely survive the other ones without trying for perfect completion.  

If you love old school platforming, beautiful pixel art, and something you can pick up and play for a few mintues only, A Super Mario Summary is the perfect game for you.  Plus, it's free!

A Super Mario Summary was created by a dude name Johan Peitz in a 48 hour game development challenge called Ludam Dare.  Johan also apparently created the game engine called Pixelizer, that the game was created on.

A Game of Thrones

Okay, I had never heard of George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones until the HBO series was previewed.  I was interested because I love Boromir.  So I started watching the show.  It was exciting.  I liked the characters.  I didn't like the sex as it was explicit and really uncalled for.  The only time sex is needed, if at all, is to advance the story.  And even then it can just be alluded to not graphically shown.
Anyhoo, after watching the first few episodes I did what I normally do with book adapted TV shows:  I read the book.  I then realized that the show almost follows the book exactly.  To me that's boring.  There are some deviations which are good like when ::SPOILERS:: the TV show had Boromir fight Jamie rather than just getting crushed by his horse.  But really there wasn't much to look forward to in watching the show anymore.  Plus, Boromir dies, which was the main draw of the show for me ::END SPOILERS::.
Which brings me to one of the main reasons why I think  the whole series is just bad.  Main characters are crucial to advance a story.  But who is the main character in this series?  I don't know!  Everyone dies!  And if they haven't died yet, it's just because George hasn't written about them in the last thousand pages.  Plus there are more characters in this series than I can even count.  When George switches between character perspective I'm always confused as to who that person even is and what relation he or she has to anything that's going on elsewhere in the book.
Which brings me to point number two:  the whole series of Game of Thrones (previously called A Song of Ice and Fire) is about twelve million pages too long.  I don't even know what the story is about after five extra long books.  Every time the story seems to go somewhere, that character is killed off (bringing us back to point number one) and everything they did was essentially wiped off the record.
Really, there are many, many problems with this series, but I keep going back to it (usually out of boredom of life) so it has at least some draw.  Or I'm just OCD and can't not find out what happened.  Either way here's a sweet video from JoshSundquist that explains exactly my problem with A Game of Thrones.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SketchBomb in San Francisco

Hey all!  If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and love drawing, check out this sketch group I'm with called SketchBomb!  It's ran by a couple of cool dudes, Mike Henry and Ryan Hall, known as zatransis and frogbillgo on deviantART.  It's a group of dudes and dudettes that draw for three hours, typically three themes throughout the night, and then at the end of each hour we gather around and look at each other's work.  It's a good time, regardless of your drawing ability, and it's a very fun atmosphere.  Come check it out and I hope to see you at the next one on August 4th.


Alright, so I'm a huge Star Wars fan...minus most of what is considered Star Wars in the times of now.  I truly am saddened at what Star Wars has become and it all started with Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace.  Luckily, a man named Mr. Plinkett was brave enough to call out the terrible, terrible film  that is Episode I, not just how it ruins Star Wars, but how it ruins cinema.  Besides doing hilarious reviews of the Star Wars Prequels, the fellas at RedLetterMedia do all sorts of other funny, movie related stuff. Check them out by clicking the banner above, watching the videos below or click here to go directly to the famous 70 minute Plinkett review.

Beware, there is much profanity and just plain weird stuff going on.

Intro to Me

Hi there!  My name is Ben Floyd and I am really quite awesome.  Since this is my first blog entry I figure I'll introduce myself and let you know a little bit about what you can look forward to in the coming days, week, and years.

First off the name of my blog is called Floydian Theory.  Why?  Because it sounds like Freudian Theory, but since my last name is Floyd...well, there you have it.  No deep seated sexual aggression manifesting, I just thought it was clever.

Who am I that you should read my blog?  I am a lover of many things, video games, movies, music, books, art, and animation.  I am an aspiring game designer, but I have so many interests that it's hard to focus on one thing for longer than...what was I talking about?  Which is the main focus of this blog.  I want to get everything that interests me out of my head and onto the web-o-sphere and maybe my brain won't be so cluttered that I can actually focus on making great games.

What will be on the most excellent of blogs known as Floydian Theory?  Whatever I think of putting on here.  I get in moods where I'll focus on gaming, writing reviews, bitching about how the game industry is a bunch of sellouts, you stuff.  Then I'll watch a movie and want to talk about it because it was so bad or because it was so awesome.  Then I'll show you awesome drawings that I found on the interweb.  Then I'll talk about the latest book I've read.  Maybe I'll even show you some of my own artwork.  Most of all I'll just be talking, waxing philosophical, and blubbering about whatever is on my mind at the moment I sit down at my keyboard.

This sounds too awesome to be true, I know.  You might be thinking that no one man can be so awesome as to talk about all these things and doubt that I even exist.  Well, let me prove there is a picture of a dude in a Batman shirt, which might prove that I exist.

Oh no!  My secret identity is revealed!