Sunday, January 05, 2020

Star Wars - My 42 Year Journey

Right before Christmas, we saw the end of a long journey, the nine movie spanning vision from George Lucas for his creation - Star Wars.

I jumped on this train at 13 years old back in 1977, and after 42 years, we've finally reached the end. (Of the main original concept, anyway!) :P

It's mind boggling, the way this universe and these characters have become so meaningful to so many of us over the years. Let's not forget the music, either, as I believe John Williams is a BIG part of Star Wars' success. Yes, not all of the films have been good, not all of it has been consistent, yet the plan (whether in its original form or not) has come to pass. It's a testament of how much it has affected so many, that it survived long enough to be completed. Science Fiction and Fantasy weren't considered as worthwhile in the movie biz back then. Star Wars opened the way for change.

Star Wars IV

1977 - Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope - The beginning! Super thrilling, exciting, a look at what Science Fiction could be. Thanks to John Williams, a deep love of background music began for me. It showed music could bring a new dimension to films that were as important as the special effects, the actors, the story.  Peter Cushing from the Hammer Films! (Awesome!)


Star Wars V The Empire Strikes Back

1980 - Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back - This one is my all time favorite. We learned more about the Force and the Jedi. Leia and Han Solo fight against the attraction they feel for each other despite their very different backgrounds. We discover Luke's relationship with Darth Vader. (They published the book before the movie release. I still remember sitting at the couch reading the novelization and the utter shock at the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father!) I waited in line for hours on opening day to get to see it! Squee! (Super Awesome!)

Star Wars VI Return of the Jedi

1983 -  Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi - The culmination of the trilogy (already the news of Lucas' vision for 9 films, 3 set before and 3 set after had everyone excited - even if the chances of them being made was slim.) Ewoks were introduced (So cute!), more awesome music by John Williams, Han and Leia reunited. The Emperor! Hardship and Victory!  (Awesome!)

Then we hit the long gap of waiting... Would we ever see the 6 films promised? (There were a lot of other Star Wars things in between - books, comic books, the never to be spoken of Ewok Christmas Special, games, and more. But the films...where were the films?!)

Star Wars I The Phantom Menace

1999 - Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace - They were back! Yes! More John Williams music, woot! Awesome special effects, but something was lost, the realistic, gritty part so successful in the first three films had disappeared, giving way to CGI. The reinvention of the Force and the introduction of Midiclorians. Trying to turn the mystic into science - even though this is a prequel! What? But who cared, Star Wars was BACK! YAY!  Young Obi-Wan - woot! (And the introduction of Jar Jar Binks - I like him in this film, but so many people did not. Oh, the hate. Don't give in to the Dark Side!) (Pretty Good! Starwars is BACK!!!!!)

Star Wars II Attack of the Clones

2002 - Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones - Build up, setting more things in place to bring us toward the future we learned of in Episodes IV to VI. Anakin and Padme, more Obi-Wan. Christopher Lee - squee! But hold on, who the heck thought putting Jar Jar into politics and have him help mold policy was a good idea? Nice guy, but 'hello?' are you all nuts? (Decently Good?)

Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith

2005 - Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith - WTF? You changed the fighting style after 5 previous films? WTF? Instead of the most glorious Anakin vs. Obi-wan battle we get "but I hold the higher ground?" WTF? You have the Force, higher ground means nothing! Yoda gets turned into Dragonball's Goku? (He even does the Kamehameha!) WTF? Unequivocally the WORST Star Wars film - EVER! I almost went to the Dark Side due to this one. I even rewatched it a few years later to make sure of the flaws - made me want to strike them down even harder! Ugh! I could rant on this one for hours, HOURS! (Though the lizard mount was super cool!) I waited 28 years for this? Bleah! (Horribly bad!)

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

2015 - Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens - Disney brought the franchise! They went back to having more physical objects, so the feel of the originals was back. Disney has money, Disney will pay someone to make a super awesome script and bring Star Wars back with a BANG! WRONG! :( Instead, someone mushed together pieces of the first three films somehow thinking that was the recipe needed for success. Think again! Luke was back, Leia was back, Han Solo was back - yay! But wait, Han reverted to a five year old. Kylo Ren is godlike in his abilities. He can bend light! Mess with time! What? (Plus, there's no way Darth Vader's helmet survived! Not the way that ship blew. Oh the humanity!) Plus the hints about Rey's parents? Totally ignored in the later films! Sigh. Oh, and a trash worker stormtrooper is part of an elite commando unit? Right... (Mostly garbage, but still better than Episode III!)

Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi

2017 - Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi - It was Star Wars so I went, but expectations were low. So in some aspects, I was pleasantly surprised, others not as much. Kylo Ren still way overpowered. Hints from Episode VII were totally discarded as if they'd never been. Disney is still not using their might to find a decent scriptwriter (that or there were too many hands in the pot). (Mostly Decent?)

Star Wars Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker

2019 - Star Wars Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker - Still no decent script, and loads of backpedaling, which made for a bigger mess. Tons of nostalgic moments. Several stupid ones. (If Rey can jump high enough to go over a super tie fighter, she should be able to leap around a shipwreck instead of tedious climbing it.) Rey is now showing godlike powers. Ugh. (How was there even a wreck? The whole facility exploded from the core!) (Oh and Force skills are NOT hereditary! Ugh.) A super secret Sith map - so make a dagger hilt in the shape of the wreck that is only about twenty years old but the map and knife are ancient? And the wreck has power? What? Oh and out of nowhere, let's make Leia a MASTER JEDI in her youth! Yeah, like she'd have the time to become a MASTER? Some training sure, but a MASTER? So glad I did not have high expectations. Still, I got teary eyed, nostalgic, pumped by the music. I have tried my best not to look at it too closely or who knows what will happen. Heh heh. I will not give in.  (Super nostalgic, but not good.)

The nine film journey is over. Huzzah!

Even with the crap, it is still an amazing achievement. I'm glad I survived in the world long enough to see it through. Though not all of those involved got to get to the finish.

I love the Star Wars universe, so, yeah, I'll keep watching. I am sure this cash cow will be milked for years to come. Who knows, eventually the Force might be with us, and some awesome films will come our way again. :P


There's always hope. May the Force be with you, always.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Mini Movie Reviews 12/15/19

Morning!

This time of year is always bonkers for me. The weather, too, especially as it swings from cold to warm and back again. Then there's squeezing in the holidays while trying to juggle all the year-end accounting projects before the close in January. Since the company is now public again, the amount of requirements for auditors and reporting goes way up!

I hope you guys are having a better time of it! :P

Mini Movie Reviews

Knives Out

Knives Out - This film was a lot more fun than I expected. It's a classic Agatha Christie setup, but then it takes a left turn in an unexpected direction. Secrets, machinations, lies, a ton of details pulling every which way. Even when you think you know what happened, it turns out it wasn't that way at all. Great performances, good twists and turns. There was something odd on the way close-ups were filmed, which made the actors and actresses look off, but this could have been intentional.

Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Jumanji: The Next Level

Jumanji: The Next Level - Hubby had been chomping at the bit to see this one. :P They did a great job showing some of the reasons Spencer chose to try to fix the game and going back inside. Some new people and characters get introduced as Jumanji gets thrown into a bigger crisis than before. The actors doing the avatars get to reinvent themselves as the people behind them have changed. They did such a great job! Awkwafina did a great Granpa Eddie. ROFL.

Some new skills and new weaknesses. The prehistoric ostriches were super cool and scary. Lol.  One extra bit ties the end of the film back to giving homage to the original Jumanji as well as a possible leading to another film! Favorite quote: "You are the worst Bravestone ever!" :P 

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again.)



Have a great week!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Virtual Tourist - Yakuza 0 12/1/19

Mini Movie Reviews

Frozen 2

Frozen 2 - there was a lot to love about this sequel. I adored that we got to see how the family was before the scare, which made the parents separate the two girls. They also worked in the lesson from the first film into the second one, which made for a nice progression. The animation was great, and we have new songs to sing. Lol. I enjoyed it a lot! Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Ford vs. Ferrari

Ford vs. Ferrari - Matt Damon and Christian Bale are fab in this film. The rapport between the two men and the difficulties they face came across as natural and with depth. From the quick research I did, this is mostly accurate, with the usual license taken by Hollywood to ramp up the excitement and drama. The one bit I do wish they'd pointed out better is how Ken Miles would have won the European trifecta of racing if he'd not been shafted at Le Mans. He would have been the first man to ever win all three. So sad. Good story, great cinematography, excellent acting, cool racing stunts. Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 - New town

The game switches characters and cities. 1980's fictional Okinawa!

Yakuza 0 - Crab Sign

See that giant crab sign? They have those for real! The details are amazing.

Yakuza 0 - first view of The Grand

Side street view of the cabaret club called The Grand. This is where we will meet Majima.

Yakuza 0 - The Grand front entrance

The front entrance to The Grand. Super glitzy!

Yakuza 0 - Inside The Grand

They have a full-on band! Though it is the '80s, this does take you back to the big clubs from the '40s.

Yakuza 0 - clientele at The Grand

A shot of the clientele at The Grand.

Yakuza 0 - it's Christmas!

Spotted some nice decorations for Christmas! That's Majima. Did I not take a pic of him? Eek!

Yakuza 0 - Don Quixote

Your super general type store - Don Quixote! They have all sorts of stuff for sale. :P

Yakuza 0 - Shrine

This is shrine tucked away in some narrow streets close to Club Sunshine. The same weird priest with the clown face is here. A place to trade your CP points for goodies and advantages.

Yakuza 0 - ritzie club interior

This town is chuck full of ritzy clubs. Everyone has money to burn! :P


I keep trying to get myself back on to a regular schedule with posts, but life is all over the place. I hope you and yours had a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Virtual Tourist - Seasons After Fall 11/3/19

Morning all!

Fall is definitely in the air. Temperatures have been chilly all week. It might actually be here to stay!
Due to unforeseen issues at the publisher, Alien Redemption will probably not be available in 2019 but be pushed to early 2020. :(  Editing is progressing. I don't think they've assigned a cover artist yet.

Movie Reviews

Terminator: Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate - A lot of James Cameron's films of late have been not so great, so I went to see this with low expectations. I was very pleasantly surprised - the movie was good!

It picks up after events in Terminator 2 Judgement Day and then leaps forward twenty years or so. Skynet is no more. Now they have to worry about Legion. (Time does not like being messed with.)
Great action, special effects, and acting. There are lots of small surprises. I was impressed with the physical details concerning Grace being a cyborg. You can see the scars around her eyes, her arms, chest, and stomach where they did work on her. There are also divets, small screws, and more. And there is a price to be paid for the enhancements.

The new terminator type sent after Dani was super tough and absorbed information at an alarming rate. I love that they made him a small man, someone who you'd never expect to be able to do what he does. Both a liquid and solid terminator, he makes for a super challenging and scary combo. There were some attacks he could have done that he didn't, but then a future flashback shows his compatriots doing precisely what I thought he should have done. LOL. Guess it would have made his mission too easy then.

Overall, I enjoyed the film a lot. Seeing Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwatzeneger together again was a treat. Bitter old Sarah Conner was a hoot. The film definitely deserves to do better at the box office than it has so far. Rating: 3.5 out of 4. (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Virtual Tourist

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall - Little Seed

Our true form. This is the Sanctuary.

Seasons After Fall

We are back inside the fox and heading off to the second guardian.

Seasons After Fall

You'll learn that in any of the areas with water, winter is your friend. It is the only way to get across and leap out.

Seasons After Fall

Walking through a hollow log.


The route here is obstructed. There are little creatures you can get to spawn who, depending on the seasons, can be activated to blow them up. :)

Seasons After Fall

Another obstruction. Though later, you learn to play with the steam and ice.

Seasons After Fall

There's a giant feather on the outcropping. Something that will be useful after we meet the second guardian.

Seasons After Fall

The second guardian! Now things are about to get super interesting!

Seasons After Fall

Now we can summon summer by barking twice near the energy ball. The new season affects the little guys, and thus we can make them leave their nest which you can see in the branch to the left.

Seasons After Fall

The tree now has a carving for the second guardian as we make our way back to the Sanctuary.

Stay warm out there!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Virtual Tourist - ABZU 10/27/19

Morning!

October has turned out to be a very chaotic and tiring month. Loads of crazy stuff at work. The weather also just turned, so we've had lower temperatures and rain this week. But is the heat really done with us yet? We shall see!

Mini Movie Reviews



Gemini Man - Hubby and I had thought this would be Will Smith and his son, but it was all Will Smith. The film was great fun. Impressive stunts and fight scenes with some surprising moves. Gorgeous locals and cinematography. They even play with camera perspectives - enough to make it interesting, but not so much it disturbs the viewer. Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Pay Full Price to See Again!)



The Current War: Director's Cut - I'd never heard of the film until about a week ago. Per IMDB it was initially released in 2017. The title is horrible (If you don't know what it is, you'd think it was an actual war movie.) The film is about Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse and the fight/race to light up the US with either DC or Alternating Current. A lot of history gets sanitized for the history books. Here's a chance to get a taste of what they don't tell you. Great acting, fascinating history, and you get a feel for how truly revolutionary the concepts being thrown about are to the people of that ear. Rating: 3.75 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price.)

Virtual Tourist

ABZU

ABZU is a visually stunning puzzle game. The music and art are great, but I will say it was really short (only a little over 3 hrs of gameplay), and the character movement underwater is so awkward that it proved frustrating and horribly distracting from the beauty around you. Just about the time I finally felt I got the hang of it, the game was over. o.O

ABZU - current

A fast-moving current underwater.

ABZU - Awakening

The awakening.

ABZU - Awakening 2

That's us. You become aware floating facedown in the water.

ABZU - first garden

The first area - there are several species of fish to meet. :)

ABZU - underwater plants

Each area is different, and through your explorations and solving of puzzles, the area themselves can change. You start getting the feeling something terrible happened here, and you're trying to fix it.

ABZU - meditation stone

You will find a statue like this in each new area. You can sit on it and meditate. In meditation, the camera will attach to a nearby fish and follow it around, showing you the name on the bottom right.

ABZU - Energy Temple

As you complete the puzzles, you will enter this energy temple area and give energy to it.

ABZU - Temple center

The central area of the energy temple.

ABZU - the first area acknowledged

Once you give the energy for the area you completed, the energy temple will go through a growth sequence.

ABZU - Changed Garden #1

This occurs after the change at the temple, transforming the garden and releasing new creatures into the sea.


Have a great week!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Virtual Tourist - Seasons After Fall 10/13/19

Morning, all!

Fall seems to have officially arrived here in Texas. Weather flip-flopped, and we went from 100 down to the 70's with one morning being a super chilly 54. But will it stay? :P

Mini Movie Review

The Addams Family

The Addams Family - Super adorable and nostalgic film. Even better, they actually show when Morticia and Gomez got married and how Lurch became part of the family. Also, how they found their home. This helps build the neat two-mirror-sided plot of the film when, after 13 years of cutting themselves off from the world, the world pushes back in. The movie was a lot of fun. Rating: 3.5 out of 4 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!) (No additional bits in the credits though.)

Virtual Tourist

Season After Fall

This is a super cute 2D game. Short duration (though I've not finished it yet), but super cute and something of a mystery.

Seasons After Fall - integration

I forgot to take any pictures of the energy seed into. DOH. This is where the energy seed (the player) gets integrated into a nearby fox. A young, mysterious voice is asking us to help it with a project.

Season After Fall

The integrated fox and seed. If you home in, you can see the fox's eyes now glow. The area on the photo is where the energy seed came out. The four stones and the floor area seem to be all that remains of the ruins of the place.

Season After Fall

We're heading off to the first guardian. I am to retrieve a piece from each one.

Seasons After Fall

A beautiful sea to look at on the way.

Seasons After Fall

There ate items to interact with to let you progress in certain areas. For this, you bark. This limb was coiled until you do so. Now I can make the jump! (Some things you run across look like something to use, but you can't yet. There's a reason for that. :P)

Seasons After Fall

Stone totems made by the first guardian. As you come near, their eyes light up.

Season After Fall

The first guardian. It seems he sleeps a lot of the time. :P

Seasons After Fall

When you get the shard and try to go back, you find you can't get past a particular area. Something was said to you as a hint, and I was able to work it out. If you bark twice near the shard (it is an energy ball and floats - see the floating blue ball on the left?), the whole weather of the area changes to something else.  So we went from spring to winter! So you change the weather to affect things. A rather ingenious idea for a puzzle game. (The weird thing on the right previously looked like an empty, dead flower pod. Now it will gather and throw out a giant snowball, allowing me to reach the tree limb on the left!)

Seasons After Fall - Closed avenue

When I get close to our starting point, the way back towards the just visited guardian is closed.

Season After Fall - assimilation

Once we return to the temple ruins, the young voice has the seed assimilate the energy shard. Then we merge once more with the fox.


Have a great week!
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