Saturday, May 7, 2016

FLM110 Topic 10: Film and Audiences

I typically watch movies in a cinema if I watch them away from a television. If in a cinema generally speaking I do not interact, I prefer to be a good little boy and keep my mouth shut (surprising I know to anybody who has spent time around me).
I also tend to refrain from laughing out loud or making any comments even if I desperately want to go “ooh I get it now”.
When watching films with friends or family, I am happier to talk and give a running commentary during the commercials before the film and the credits after, but never when the actual film itself is running.
I tend to get annoyed by deliberate sound from other cinema goers. While a laugh at a joke is fine, there is a point where a laugh can be so obnoxious that I want to cover my ears and cringe. People chatting or making loud comments as well annoy me. Babies or very young children crying also gives me a case of the wanna-punch-someone-syndrome. Mind you this crying isn’t a reaction to the film itself either, it’s just because that’s what babies do.
It’s true that I am a heartless bastard, I won’t really cry in films. Maybe misty-eyed at most, but even then that tends to be a reaction to when the film wants me to cry. The engineered action of music, story and cinematography which causes tear-jerking on demand.
I know some people are more emotional than myself and can get triggered by almost anything, but I am far too cynical.

I don’t think I have ever gotten an change of moral mind from watching a film, my morals and view of the world is already baked into me and so far no film, game or book has been able to truly sway my opinion one way or the other. Not that isn’t to say that I don’t ‘understand’ what the film is trying to get across or conveying.
I perfectly understand when films like Children of Men or Zootopia are trying to make a statement on social issues. I think in the case of Zootopia it’s quite evident that the core social message is a response to global terrorism and the people’s reaction to it. Racism, Faith and Gender all are represented in an interesting way.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Subtext: Pokémon The First Movie

 Film: Pokémon: The First Movie
Year: 1998 (1999 English Dub)
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama

Pokémon is massive, although that cannot quite describe it. It truly is an iconic franchise of modern pop-culture.
At its core Pokémon is a video game series, although has spun off in many different directions in many different mediums, the anime (which started off as semi-direct adaption of the game) is among the most famous. It was here where Pikachu was established as the most iconic Pokémon.
This leads to the humbly titled Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (Yuyama, 1998), the western release (of which I will be looking at, which is important to note as there are plot differences in the two versions) is simply just Pokemon: The First Movie.

The film is about an artificially born Pokémon (Mewtwo) who goes rouge and seeks to rule the world with his “superior race” of cloned Pokémon.

The films core moral is “fighting is bad”, although I think the deeper message about how we view and respect each other.
Generally speaking there is a very clear hierarchy in the world of Pokémon (and our own as a parallel), we as humans are the top. We are the most important species on this planet, we control this planets future and we tame or killed other species for our needs, resources or entertainment.
In the Pokémon world, Pokémon are caught as trophies (“Gotta catch em’ all”), then trained for combat for the financial and ego benefits of the Pokémon Trainer (often refereed too as “master”).

Mewtwo at the start feels betrayed by humanity because of this, he was born by humans and not shown any respect.
He was simply to be used as an excrement for knowledge by the scientists and to be used as a weapon/tool by the criminal organization Team Rocket. Both lied to him about “Being equal”.
Mewtwo’s reaction to this was to destroy the place where he was born and to kill all those who made him.

Cursing humanity he made his own race of cloned Pokémon (using DNA) of which he declares to be better the original.

This is very clearly a case of “superior race” syndrome, of which he feels that his non-loving and mechanical approach to raising Pokémon is better.
This draws parallels with many historical moments, the most obvious being Germany under the reign of Adolf Hitler.
The idea of the “machine man”, while not literally machine, but of the concept of being built like a machine, part by part, unloving, though a rigidly controlled upbringing and life of education, society, roles, all of which are to be pre-determined. To make the best off the best. In order to create the most superior possible person.

However in the process of making the strongest, fastest and most efficient, you lose the emotion, the choice and the “core” of what makes life worth living.

The Pokémon themselves display this. The “cloned” Pokémon look identical to the organic ones, par slight visual changes (more black stripes on them). They walk in a rigid marching formation with each other, never stepping out of line. They obey Mewtwo’s command without question and they’re willing to fight to the brutal, bitter end.

They become machine Pokémon, blinded of logic or emotion. Unable (or unwilling) to think for themselves.
In the real world, this is not just seen under fascist regimes, but in cults. Specifically religious cults.
Where there’s a leader and the followers take the leaders word at face value, to build a better world.
As such is Mewtwo’s intentions as he outright wishes to destroy all humans and even kill off all the organic Pokemon as despite being innocent, Mewtwo considers them “weak” for obeying the humans.
This idea of natural selection, will of the strength is seen in fascism as well.

In response to this, the organic Pokemon fight back, one on one against their clone counter-part, but despite the physical and idealogical difference between them. They both do the same thing, resort to violence.
One doesn't become much better than the other as they both become the same thing.
As is the case with the human race in our own world. Our lust for revenge is constant, whenever someone attacks us we as a society feel the urge to attack back. To the point where it doesn't even matter who started it.
Did Mewtwo start the conflict or did humanity? Does it matter? The result is the same, death and brutality.

Two forces refuses to fight, Ash (the main character of the anime) and his partner Pikachu.
Pikachu refuses to fight back, letting his cloned self beat him up.

According to the English Bible (1611, Various), Jesus apparently said this "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also"
This is also known as "turn the other cheek", the idea being that you should "love your enemy".

In the film, this is exactly what Ash's Pikachu does. Despite being constantly beaten (literately on the cheek), Ash's Pikachu refuses to fight back, even in pure self-defence.

Every problem in the film goes back to humans trying to be gods, creating life, attempting to "perfect" life by the way of experiments and control. Demanding animals submit.

The film asks the viewer if it's all worth it, if that's what they desire. The film also dares to question who the viewer is more like. Is the viewer the kind of person who is willing to seek revenge no matter the cost, or are they the kind of person who refuses to lower themselves to the brutality of their opponents.

The film also has a message about prejudice, hating someone purely due to the nature of their birth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tails the Fox

Artwork by FireRai

When people think video game side kick, the first thing when tends to pop into people’s minds is Luigi.
However, I think Luigi isn’t that great.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with Luigi, I like him more than Mario (as Mario has zero personality), but I think he is just a gloried re-colouring with Mario not just in terms of visuals but also mechanics and story.
They’re brothers, so they basically look the same and thus practically play the same and really are the same.

But Tails, now Tails is a proper side kick.
Miles “Tails” Prower is the side kick of Sonic, but you already knew that.
So what’s so special about Tails? Well in that era of gaming, side kicks or second-player characters tended to either be a literal or glorified carbon-copy of the protagonist.
On the base functioning level, Tails is more advanced than Sonic. He can’t run as fast (although he can get pretty close as he’s always behind), but he can fly.
Tails being able to fly almost alone justifies his existence, being able to sick up and move Sonic around the level, to greater heights or to save him from falling to the bottom of the screen, his flight makes him different and gives the two of them an instant dynamic.
His flight doesn’t just end at his own personal two-tail’d ability, he also has a plane which serves the narrative throughout the entire franchise.

Personality wise, Sonic and Tails also have a dynamic which I don’t think has been topped by any other video game duo.

The 2003 Sonic anime got super-dark towards the end.
While I dig Master Chief and Cortana/Arbiter, it can feel a little bit wooden at times.
But the connection between Sonic and Tails just fits so well.
They’re not blood-brothers (clearly not, they’re two entirely different species), but the relationship between them often is pitched more as one of brotherhood than just simply best friends.
Tails feeds off Sonic's confidence and Sonic feeds off Tails intellect. Tails is taken from his pathetic wimpy form to one with self-confidence thanks to Sonic.  Sonic is humbled and is allowed to feel emotions when he is with Tails. While not seen in the game mechanics, story wise Sonic can’t swim (because someone at SEGA Japan thought Hedgehogs couldn't swim and didn't bother to research into it), but Tails can.

Sonic is often shown as either coolcynical or even at times rather cold when it comes to how he deals with other characters, good or evil, but rarely has he ever seen to get angry or frustrated at Tails, even when Tails screwed up (like in Adventure when he basically gave Eggman a chaos emerald by accident).

There is a deeper sense of care and love between the two, even when Sonic games are at their most awful (and they can be awful *cough* Rise of Lyric *cough*), the writing of those two stays about the same.
The comics of course take a lot deeper, but I am not here to talk about comics as it would take forever (although they’re awesome).
When game characters so often have the chemistry of a dusty wooden spoon, it’s always nice to know, that a fox and a hedgehog will always remain true.

Oh and he's super cute.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Toxic attitudes in gaming

YouTube commentators give their opinion on an opinion.
Recently I have finished the unexpected success of this year, Naughty Dog’s Last of Us.
However I hadn't touched the game until a few weeks ago when I purchased a PS3.
Before that my prior knowledge of the game was entirely dependent on gaming media and word of mouth.
While most reviews were quick to give the game ten out ten, singing its praises upon a roof and holding out the game disc to gamers akin to Simba at the beginning of
The Lion King.
One review dared to criticize the game.
One review had the audacity to give the game the worst of all scores… an eight.

I had always had an amusing interest in gamers reactions to game reviews, however I was simply confused at the reaction to Tom Mc Shea’s Gamespot review of
Last of Us.
The sheer anger directed towards Tom was incredible, YouTube’s “thumbs up or down” metric system at a quick glance can sum up with the downvotes over pushing upvotes 8:1.
Granted having the “yay or nay” opinions of 9294 votes verse the overall views of 149,077 is pushing it in regards to analyze.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My thoughts on the marketplace closure of GFWL

For many Games for Windows LIVE (GFWL) is a dirty word.

GFWL is Microsoft’s PC online system, in effect attempting to create a universal online service for PC games in a similar fashion as Xbox LIVE on the 360.
Not a bad idea in theory, GFWL launched in 2007 with Halo 2 and Shadowrun.

At this point in history was the “PC gaming is dying” era and the now monolithic Steam wasn't anywhere near what it is today, in fact if you brought up Steam in conversation, I can guarantee most people won't know what you're talking about.

GFWL was ambitious, achievements, in game overlay, DLC purchases, Cross platform play from 360 to PC and for a short time asking for a gold account to access special features.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thinking of starting a game

A couple people I know are planning a zombie game, but I want to try something a little different.

This is my basic idea.

The three way war between the European Union, Chinese Syndication and United States of North America ended with no victor, only chaos for the world.
Cut off, Australian society fell, most of the population dead the remaining have split into factions or freelancing. Even those who attempt to live life as before in a non-violent way still are split into these factions, the two major factions are CBA (Custodians of the British Monarchy) and the FAR (Free Australian Republic).
Very few firearms remain in Australia and those which remain are considered resources, in this world the factions call on man, woman and child to fight.
Australia is in Tatters.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A new year and a new idea

So it’s a new year, 2012… the year we all die!

Regardless it has been a while since I have updated here or posted a video, well back last year I recorded with my camera a friend of mine (John-Joe) and he took a voice of something akin to a BBC documentary presenter and he just started going on about random things.

I have decided that this will make a good video to upload and maybe even a start of a new series.
I have always wanted to start a series and I have tried many times in the past (most attempts never made it to YouTube or got taken down by copyright issues).
I think the issue is that I am a horrible actor; my voice is a drag and who really wants to look at me?
Regardless John-Joe I think we can all agree is a born star and I have other clips and I will try to upload them too and see how it all goes.