Sunday, May 21, 2017

Virtual Tourist - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 5/21/17

Morning!
Hubby's sick with a cold, and I am not far behind. Boo! The weather has been flip-flopping like crazy!
Taskforce 29 HQ
A cool thing the game peeps did. If your original rescue mission failed, you would not meet this guy at the office. But if you did!  :) I thought it was a nice touch that the game made a distinction.
Super cool 3D hologram, no? :) 
This was funny and sad. This is Jensen's workspace at HQ. The board pretty much says it all. Poor guy. (Not sure what's up with the cereal boxes.) :P
Back in the Streets
Coolest store front for a wristwatch no? I guess for these guys that would be very retro! :P
Barb wire fences next to old castle defenses. 
Meet the current head of the underground newspaper. He became a little bit of an issue as it appeared he'd gotten intel about HQ's secret base. Not a good thing. 
Down in the sewers. A super cool bit of graffiti! 
The weird advertising is half the fun of walking around. 
Is this not the cutest setup for a fast food burger joint? :)
One of the things Jensen does best. Crawling through vents! :P
May the weekend find you dry and your sinuses behaving! :)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mind Sieve 5/15/17

Morning!

Going to try to do a full post for this week. Wish me luck!

FanFun


Symphony of Science - Onward to the Edge! Hubby shared this with me. Once the song starts it's just too cute!



Something else he sent me. These solar panel roof tiles from Tesla look awesome! :) 



Despicable Me 3 "Minions Prison Trailer" and more. Like a musical! lol. 



IT Trailer 2 (Extended) - okay, that is definitely one creepy looking clown! o.O


Social Media

Introducing Instagram Stories - they disappear in 24 hours if you don't move them to the feed. Not sure of the point of it?

Writing

Want To Grow As A Writer? Transform Your Critique Group by Writing Coach at the Writers Helping Writers Blog. Some excellent points in the article!
Have a great week ya'll!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Virtual Tourist - Dishonored 2 5/14/17

Morning!
Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day!
Dishonored 2
View from the top of the sanctuary building on the small island outside the city.
Isn't that gorgeous?!
Odd looking flower, no?
Maintenance man - he's seen things they are trying to keep quiet.
Love those windows!
Bad things have happened here...
The poor man has been experimented on. He has a lot of answers. 
A shutter in the kitchen close to the water. This way leads to a partially sunken boat and some goodies.
Disquieting view
A storm is coming.
Have an awesome Sunday!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Movie Review - King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur Legend of the Sword
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Firsbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Graig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Annabelle Wallis, Bleu Landau, and more.
Directed by: Guy Ritchie Screenplay by: Joby Harold, Guy Ritchie, and Lionel Wigram Story by: David Dobkin and Joby Harold Cinematography by: John Mathieson Music by: Daniel Pemberton
Premise: A betrayal destroys the peace Uther Pendragon has built and it's led to the massacre of most mages. But Uther's son escaped Vortigen's grasp as well as Excalibur. Years later, the sword surfaces again embedded in a stone. Vortigern can't afford to have his plans interfered with. So all males of a certain age must come forward and try their hand at removing the sword from the stone. Yet pulling the Excalibur free also means certain death. (Rated PG-13)
Review:
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Charlie Hunnam does an excellent job as the down to earth, yet troubled Arthur. Astrid Bergès-Firsbey as the mage was both mysterious and no-nonsense. Jude Law didn't have to stretch too hard to play the backstabbing Vortigern. Though I will say, he did a fabulous job looking conflicted as he made his sacrifice.
2) Special Effect - Total Thumbs Up:  Just when I think I can't be wowed by special effects, I run across something to prove me wrong. All the effects in the film were fabulous! (And they should be, I saw at least three visual effect companies in the credits!) The 3D component served several of the special effect sections quite well.
The giant elephants with pyramids on their backs in the beginning sequence were super rad. Loved their fire eyes and their cunning intelligence as they wielded giant rocks tied to ropes. Sweet!
The three fates/sirens/octopi looked amazing! The tentacles and undulations were superb. The Lady of the Lake also gets a super neat sequence of her own.
The demon warrior with the flaming and smoke cloak was super cool! So were the bizarre fire bombs. The giant rats, bats, and snakes were very detailed and looked alive.
Though a mixture of cultures, all the fantasy locations looked fantastic. Londinium was a bizarre mix of British and Roman but looked awesome. The tower, the Bad Lands, all the CGI locations looked super.
3) Plots Story - Neutral: If you come to see this film expecting an accurate rendition of the Arthurian legend, you're in for major disappointment. Much as Guy Ritchie did with the Sherlock Holmes movies, he's kept the bits he liked then jumbled/changed the rest. The previews alone should have been an indication this would not be cannon, but in case you didn't realize it, I figured I'd give you a heads up!
You know you're not in our England when you see a Mayan temple on a hillside not far from a mage's tower. Londinium itself is a weird mix of Roman, Greek, and old English styles. It's difficult to say if it was intentional in order to let us know this won't be your usual Arthurian legend or people not doing their homework or just something someone had always wanted to do.
The plot is straight forward for the most part. There are no real surprises aside from those at the beginning. Some of the motivation was suspect though. They say Vortigern betrays Uther because he was jealous of him, but I didn't see much to be jealous about. He had a loving wife, a beautiful daughter, a high position in court. He could even do magic! So his "jealousy" motivation didn't quite work. (Coming to love people fearing him came later, so not part of the original equation.) Also, the fact he suffered so much in his sacrifices for power scenes - if you feel so terrible about it, why would you do it at all? Bleah.
Arthur's motivations worked a little better. And they had an arc for his needing to overcome a hurdle to get to use the sword as it was meant to be used. (Excaliber in this film is super powerful!) One thing they never do cover is why Arthur was hoarding so much gold. What had he planned to do with it? The detail would have meant more if they'd given us a reason. Otherwise, it just looks like greed for greed's sake.
They did do a bunch of fun and good bits. There was a lot of story to cover and some of the ways they condensed things worked pretty well. The gag with the story of the Vikings was a hoot and a half. Some play with camera work made for some funky storytelling as well.
So some definite points for the fun and some of the maneuverings, but negative points for so wholly messing up the legend. The fact Mordred is in the beginning sequence made me think Uther was Arthur for a while. Ugh.
Oh, and we get one, one super quick glimpse of Merlin. And that's it. Boo!
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Aside from the CGI deaths and pratfalls, there are also plenty of fights, chases, and other physical stunts. Good job by all involved!
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: While historically inaccurate, all the sites looked fantastic. Londinium was a giant mix of several cultures and showed many differing types of architecture. Bizarre but cool. The Stonehenge type temple and several other mystical locations were fab. I fell totally in love with Vortigen's cave. Sometimes less is more!
6) Costuming/Makeup - Neutral: I keep going back and forth on this one. Most of the costumes looked great. But then they'd throw something in that would bug the heck out of me. For example - the ladies by the bank who find the boat - the way they're dressed, I thought them ladies of the court rather than ladies of the night (they were awfully dressed up for doing laundry!). And in several spots, Arthur's clothes don't look period but rather modern. His fleece lined coat, his machine stitched night shirt. They looked like something out of a modern store. Jude Law's clothes all looked great and medieval. And so did most everyone else. But Arthur's colors, cut of clothes, etc. stuck out a lot.
7) Music - Total Thumbs Up: Daniel Pemberton does a lovely job with the soundtrack. Has several flavors mixed in it all the way from modern to Scottish. Lots of fast paced tracks that merge well with the action around it.
Conclusion:  "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" is a retelling of the old legend which has been chewed up and put back together in a different way. Think Robin Hood meets King Arthur meets Spartacus meets Dungeons and Dragons, and you'll have a good idea of what you're in for. And yet, it was still fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Movie Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, and more.
Directed by: James Gunn Written by: James Gunn Based on the Marvel Comics by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Cinematography by: Henry Braham Music by: Tyler Bates
Premise: After finishing a job for the Sovereign, the Guardian's find themselves in trouble when Rocket filches some of the goods they were paid to protect. Saved by a stranger, the group meets Ego, Peter's father. But the Sovereign are not about to let the Guardians' transgression remain unpunished. They hire others to do the work. And as Peter finally embraces the fact he's found his father, Gamora realizes something about Ego is not quite right. (Rated PG-13)
Review:
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely and strong performances from all members of the cast. All the weird and sometimes clashing personalities are fun to watch. Several emotional scenes were beautifully carried out by all parties. Michael Rooker deserves added attention for his intense and emotional conversation with Rocket - and for pulling off a metallic 50's hairdo with style! :P
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: There were lots of great effects and visuals in the film. Mantis's antenna and her bug like eyes were so well done, you never doubted she looked like that.
All the Sovereign people were gold from head to foot, and it looked natural. Their throne room, gadgets, and remote controlled ships looked great. And the giant tentacle monster? Awesome!
Ego's palace was gorgeous. His ship and the molding platform were lovely. The moment reconstructions in the egg like receptacles were neat and loved that they had a different texture than everything else. There were several body repair sequences, and these were fab! The view of Ego from orbit said it all. 
The big fight on Ego's planet was spectacular. And kudos on making Kurt Russel look young and long-haired once more! He looked great! :)
3)  Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: On several levels, the plot for vol. 2 is a lot darker than the original film. The main point of this one is discovery. Discovery of self, of what's been there all along, of things you never knew you possessed, and fear of acknowledging emotional needs. Every single character has a revelation of one form or another. Many are not ones they are happy to find out about, even as they bring a sense of growth, depth or even a bit of peace to their souls. 
There are a ton of wonderful little moments. The opening section ties directly back to the beginning of the first film as well as the end. Adorable! 
Several major items that have shaped Peter's life are made clear. Things are not always as we assume. 
I did think some of the action was less believable this time around. While our heroes are intrepid and hearty, some of this went way beyond. Almost like overcompensating for the darkness and going too far with the size of the action. This took away rather than added to the film.
As always, be sure to sit through the credits. Not only is the cool backdrop of a record album ala Jefferson Starship entertaining, so are the "I am Groot" word plays, and the multiple extra scene snippets! :)
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Most of the stunts are CGI-assisted, but no less fun. Some of the gags were taken to a much higher level than the last film, which stretched believability quite far. Still impressive to watch though. :P
5) Music - Total Thumbs Up: While all the great 80's music and visual 50's music homage was fun, I was a little disappointed that they used those almost exclusively rather than more music by Tyler Bates. Some of this they made up with the neat, nostalgic treatment of the original theme by the Steepers in "Guardians Inferno." Very disco and reminiscent of Meco and their cool renditions of Star Wars music and other popular science fiction soundtracks of the time. 
Conclusion: While not as good as the first, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is still worth a watch. Darkness and discovery, as well as lots of humor, awaits!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Virtual Tourist - Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter 4/30/17

Morning!
New game this week. From Frogwares and running on the Unreal Engine - Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter.  
I've mixed feelings about the game so far (Have only completed one case at the moment).
I loved Sherlock Homles: Crime and Punishment. But I ended up feeling lukewarm about the Testament of Sherlock Holmes (Crime and Punishment's predecessor) - mostly from the lack of plot support for the ending, which felt rushed, contrived, and out of place.  
With The Devil's Daughter the negative points so far have been:
1) Lack of clear instruction on what commands or buttons need to be used, especially in "action" areas of the game. All three have suffered from this, but this one is worse than the others as the action has been ramped up and you do more. (A picture of a mouse with a darkened key in no way suggests it needs multiple clicks!) Would it hurt to have a tutorial stage? (Screaming at the screen in frustration is not what you were hoping for your players to do - right? Right?) 
2) They sold out and instead of sticking with the original Sherlock and Watson they'd created for the previous two games (based on the stories), they've spliced current movie version Sherlock and Watson with original Sherlock and Watson. UGH. Worse, they kept everything else in their universe looking the same as in the previous games. Same 221B, same Lestrade, same Scottland Yard. So it clashes and feels awkward. (Sherlock being emotional and tongue tied with the neighbor was so NOT Sherlock Holmes. Ugh.) 
Hopefully, this new strategy will sell more games for them, but for those who've bought the other two games, it might prove a little jarring/disappointing. :(
Anyway... 
On the left is "New" Sherlock, on the right is "Old" Sherlock. Notice the higher scruffiness ratio in "New" Sherlock bringing him much closer to Robert Downey Jr. than Jeremy Brett. 
Now here on the left is "New" Watson and on the right "Old" Watson. When he first appeared, I didn't even recognize him! lol. A "brighter" more dapper version of Holme's old chum. 
Scruffy Sherlock has arrived at White Chappel to investigate a mysterious disappearance.
A flat down in White Chappel.
One of Holme's Irregulars out on a mission. They flipped control to the boy but didn't let you know! I stood on the street wondering why he didn't follow the man as Sherlock asked. DOH! The actual act of following the guy wasn't bad. (Though after several deaths and not understanding how to use the controls correctly, I had to skip the walking the thin beam between buildings part. Grrrr)
The view outside Holme's balcony at 221B  Baker Street.
One of Holmes many possible disguises. Tea shades for the win! :P
Walking down into a storage area beneath the streets of London.
Watson and Sherlock as they stand outside Marsh's house. Almost a dandy in his dapperness. :P
The woods - the start of the game did an action scene here when you first start of things occurring in 48 hours. The transition to the actual action was clunky and jarring. I clicked the map to go spy on a meeting in the woods, and next thing you know you're running for your life without any segue. Would have been nice to get there and take a few steps or see something before dumping me into the mess. *sigh*
Sherlock is hiding in a cabinet in a hunting cabin for the final confrontation in the first case. One solution did not fit with what was stated - that didn't look like a slow death to me! They also never covered how the guy was juiced up to do something that should have been beyond him. Argh. (Unless the game is skipping sequences on me?)
Picture of a statue in the Archeology Club gardens. The second case looks to be centered around the Curse of a Mayan god! 
Hope your Sunday is fab!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Movie Review - The Circle

The Circle

Starring: Emma Watson, Ellar Coltrane, Glenne Headly, Bill Paxton, Karen Gillan, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Mamoudou Athie, Patton Oswalt, and more.
Directed by: James Ponsoldt Screenplay by: James Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers Based on the Novel by: Dave Eggers Cinematography by: Matthew Libatique Music by: Danny Elfman
Premise: Thanks to a friend, Mae gets a chance to interview at the prestigious company The Circle. A social media giant, The Circle is pushing for 100% transparency across the world. As Mae embraces the culture of her new employers, she begins to see that total transparency can cut two ways. Her willingness to share all inadvertently affects others around her in negative ways. Are the company's and her own ideas going too far? (Rated PG-13)
Review:
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: A lot of new and familiar faces appear in this film. Emma Watson does a great job as Mae. Her suffering and helplessness with regards to her father's illness really came across. Her open-eyed eagerness to embrace the ideals of the company, even as she scoffs at some of the directions they are heading in, were very well done. Tom Hanks and Patton Oswalt were slick as the company's leaders. Karen Gillan as Mae's friend Annie brought several angles to the tale as well as a lot of energy. John Boyega as Ty proves yet again that you can be alone in a crowd and not just when you're by yourself. :P Major kudos to Bill Paxton and his portrayal of someone with MS. 
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The film had tons of subtle special effects. The cool compound for The Circle when viewed as a whole. The user interfaces for the different pieces of software. The frames around the visuals to make the scene look as if it were being viewed through a camera. And let's not forget all the neat pop-ups on the screen as you'd see on your phone screen. A lot of the comments were fun all on their own. (Some a little freaky too!) :P
The section with the kayak in the dark, the fog, and the ship came out very well. The medical software was cool as well.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: This type of story can go terribly wrong, but luckily they treated it right. Both sides of the question were evenly weighed. Thus allowing the audience to see the pros and the cons rather than the film just picking a side and making the movie preachy or heavy handed. As with all power, the question that must always be asked is "who watches the watchers?". Anything powerful enough to make a difference always runs the risk of being abused. The film is quite thought provoking.
4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely cinematography, especially of the Bay and The Circle compound. Tons of different sites in California were used to create the illusion of The Circle. There were some beautiful beach shots for our intro to one of the men controlling the company. 
Conclusion: Good, thought provoking film. Both sides are shown evenly, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)  


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