Review: “Dreamfall Chapters”

julio 7, 2016 at 1:13 pm (Videogames & Vidcons) (, , , , , , , , )

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Dreamfall Chapters is huge. Too huge, really: it’s the finale to a story to a game released ten years ago, dealing with plot points and characters from a game released in 1999, featuring three worlds (or more, depending on how you count), two cities, four protagonists, and the answers (or simply answers) to a million different mysteries. It’s a story about life, death, rebirth, dreams, identity, depression, growing up, relationships, addiction, conquest, colonialism, politics, passion, genocide, racism, complacency, sisterhood, guilt, redemption and whatever other theme you’d care to find. That developer Red Thread’s scant resources are just about enough to give us the stage play version of events, and to do so fairly well, speaks highly of their commitment and passion. And yet, it’s still the stage play version of events: think the original Star Wars, with the camera never leaving the Death Star.  While its world is technically larger than its predecessors’ it feels like it should be larger still, and that it isn’t is behind many of its issues.

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“Legends of Tomorrow” Is the Arrow-verse’s Largest Show and its Smallest

enero 23, 2016 at 2:53 am (Reviews, Television) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Legends of Tomorrow

Sometimes it pays to be skeptical.

When news of what would eventually become Legends of Tomorrow first popped up, the concept seemed, to put it in the kindest possible words, contrived. A team made up of Sara Lance, Captain Cold, and the Atom? What. It seemed like a something that had come into being not because somebody had had a fantastic fucking idea for a story that required these characters, but because The Powers that Be wanted to make some money out of characters from Arrow and The Flash that no longer had homes in those shows and needed a concept that could accommodate them as well as other assorted DCU B- and C-listers.

Now that the pilot has come and gone, it now seems that the initial suspicions were correct: Legends of Tomorrow is a show that exists primarily to give its characters something to do.

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Review: “Pretty Little Liars” 6.11: “Of Late I Think of Rosewood” (Spoilers)

enero 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm (ABC Family, Pretty Little Liars, Rape Culture, Reviews, Television) (, , , , , , , , )

(Content Note: Transphobia; Transphobic Narratives)

The best scene in “Of Late I Think of Rosewood”, the premiere for the second half of Pretty Little Liars’ sixth season, takes place in a courtroom, where the Liars are being compelled to testify as to their mental state regarding Charlotte Dilaurentis, a.k.a. Cece Drake a.k.a. Red Coat a.k.a. A, in order to determine whether she should be set free. Charlotte’s sister has asked the Liars to live up to their name and testify that everything is hunky-dory, and because the Liars are all too used to dancing to Alison Dilaurentis’ tune, they agree. Aria even has prepared script and everything.

And then, Aria says no. Abandoning her prepared remarks, the littlest liar asserts that no, she is not okay, that the scars she obtained during Charlotte’s nine-month reign of terror are nowhere near fully healed, and that she does not feel safe. It’s quite possibly her best scene in the entire history of the show, and, in a world that consistently asks its underprivileged to Get Over It and forgive and forget transgressions enacted by more privileged peoples and institutions—a world in which women are consistently asked to forgive how the Patriarchy has arrayed things against them and to “act normal, bitch” because #NotAllMen—it can be considered a rather powerful, brave statement.

Except…

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Fan Fiction: “The Aquarium”

octubre 19, 2015 at 3:30 am (ABC Family, Chasing Life, Fan Fiction, Ian Writes) (, , )

Greer´s Back

So Chasing Life, one of my favorite new shows of the last few years, got cancelled earlier this month.  Worse still (depending on how you look at things) it ended with most of its ongoing plots unresolved, including the one where Brenna Carver dealt with the return of ex-girlfriend and fellow cinnamon roll Greer Danville to Boston.  The episode itself indicated that Brenna was getting ready for a night out with Greer at the New England Aquarium, before being interrupted by other events.  We never got to see the date, which is an absolute crime, particularly since we hadn’t seen Greer all season.   So I wrote it.

At the entrance to the New England Aquarium, Greer Danville tried not to pace.
She wasn’t normally this anxious.  Correction: she wasn’t normally this visibly anxious.  Correction correction: she wasn’t normally this excited.  Yes, that was better.  In any case, it was all Brenna Carver’s fault.

Greer had not known what to expect when she’d showed up at Brenna’s house the previous day.  The two former girlfriends were still on friendly terms, and their break-up had everything to do with external factors and nothing to do with the way they actually felt about each other, but still, a lot could change in five months.  Brenna’s social media feed, at least, had suggested some level of moving on, and Greer had convinced herself that she was fine with that, if that was the case.

(Correction: almost convinced herself.)

The rest of the fic can be read at Fanfiction.net.

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Review: “Pretty Little Liars” 6.10: “Game Over, Charles” (Spoilers)

agosto 14, 2015 at 7:26 pm (ABC Family, Pretty Little Liars, Television) (, , , , , , , , , , )

[Content Note: Transphobic representations]

As the #SummerOfAnswers rolled on, my favorite A theory was by Rachel Watkins, who runs the PLL Theorist Tumblr. According to the theory posted on May 22, 2015, A, then believed to be Charles Dilaurentis, would turn out to be Cece Drake, who knew and loved Charles while they were both in Radley, and loved him until the day Charles died. After that moment, Cece decided to play the game, becoming the first A. I didn’t agree with all of it—I’ve always believed that Mona originated the A identity and iconography on her own, like the show claimed, and that whomever almost killed Alison simply used it as a new way to carry on with what they were already separately doing—but it felt satisfying; if the show had ended up doing something like that—and it did—I would have been happier than I would have been with almost any other resolution.   I liked Cece as A: not only did I enjoy the character of Cece, she’d been made into a big enough figure in the history of the show to make her a satisfying answer. Granted, she didn’t have much of a reason to torment the Liars, but the same could be said of most other viable suspects, and the series latter de-emphasizing of the high school and family elements seemed to suggest that the Liars’ actual connection to A’s larger motives would be tangential at best.

Other, not altogether dissimilar theories also had Cece as A, but also took the season 5 finale’s revelation that A was Charles (Dilaurentis, as eventually confirmed in season 6) at face value. Charles, the theories explained, was actually trans, and eventually grew up to be Cece Drake. While they kept Cece as A and were more in tune with what the show actually seemed to be setting up—it initially suggested Charles was actually dead before revealing that no, he was still alive—it was an extremely unsatisfying theory, largely because it would mean that the person who had tormented Alison Dilaurentis, the Liars, and increasingly large amounts of people, and who had killed several people during the course of the show, was also the only trans character in the show.   Said theory, if true, would be a slap in the face to the show’s many trans fans, to the people who had come to see the show as a (decidedly imperfect) oasis in a universe still hostile to LGBTA people, and to the young watchers who deserve better than to being misled about trans people. No matter the execution, it would make Pretty Little Liars’ universe into one where cis people could be very many things, and trans people would be the one thing they always were in television, killers or victims or both. Even if the show attempted to somehow redeem A the way it had done with its previous villains, there was no guarantee that it would work, and her narrative would never stop reinforcing the idea that trans people are fundamentally dishonest and dangerous, which is the opposite of the truth and an idea that constantly endangers them. Therefore, it seemed too terrible a possibility to contemplate.

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Review: “Chasing Life” Episode 2.03: “Life of Brenna” (Spoilers)

julio 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm (ABC Family, Chasing Life) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Taken from AfterEllen.com

Image obtained from AfterEllen.com

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we will almost certainly not be seeing Greer this season.  Given production schedules, the abridged episode order, and her role in the show, there’s no reason for us not to have heard about Gracie Dzienny’s return, if it were going to happen. This, on one hand, is disappointing, because Greer is absolutely wonderful.  On the other hand, it’s also super-interesting, largely because if this were any other show, there’s no way she wouldn’t be around.  At this point, it’s impossible for the writers not to know that she’s a fan favorite.  There’s no scheduling conflicts that I’m aware of that would have prevented her from being around, unless Dzienny is simply not focusing on acting right now.   The only reason I can think of for her absence is that the writers are incredibly committed to a plan, and that plan means that Greer cannot be in the picture for now.

The weird thing, though, is, that as “The Life of Brenna” shows, Greer is very much still in the picture: the episode is framed by an e-mail communications between her and Brenna, marking Greer as a confidant and repository of all of her former girlfriend’s angst about changing schools, her sister April’s cancer, and a life that seems to be spinning out of her control. She is obliquely alluded to when the show alludes to a character’s mentally ill ex, which accurately describes Greer during the second half of the first season. If there was ever an episode that merited a cameo, this was it. But no.  Not that the episode suffers for this absence, as even without our favorite eco-club president, “Life of Brenna” still manages to be a fantastic showcase for its title character. Leer el resto de esta entrada »

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Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta 2015 Completion Photo Album

junio 30, 2015 at 8:43 pm (Videogames & Vidcons) (, )

Because the one thing you must absolutely do immediately after saving the world is to take pictures of your accomplishment.  I’ve already defeated Omega, so now it’s time to see if my plucky band of girls (plus the token boy) can’t also defeat Shinryuu.

WP_20150630_010

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“Alias” is a Show About a Spy, and Not Much Else

mayo 25, 2015 at 12:30 am (Television, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Alias made the current action TV landscape possible.

Part of what defines the current so-called golden age of television, particularly when it relates to the action-adventure genre, is its ability to rival film when it comes to sheer scale and craft. Before 2001, you really needed film in order to make Superman fly; Lois & Clark may have understood Superman, but it had no other choice but to suggest his more impressive super-feats, rather than actually show them. Now, with shows like The Flash, there’s no obvious sense of compromise: while there’s still a gap between what you can do in each medium, it’s much less noticeable, and mitigated by the fact that there’s a lot of things you can do with TV that you just can’t do with film. Alias, the 2001-2006 action / espionage show starring Jennifer Garner and created by J.J. Abrams, was in many ways the show that began to bridge that gap.

Compare the first season of Alias to the first season of La Femme Nikita, a show that stopped airing a scant few months before spy royalty Sydney Bristow made her debut. Sure, the earlier show could occasionally pull off some slick moments, and yet, these were these few and far between, exceptions in a show that oftentimes felt quite limited. Alias, on the other hand, often succeeded in making it feel as if those limits didn’t exist. Whereas Femme spent most of its on generic cities or inside Section One HQ, Alias took place all over the world (in a simplistic, theme-park-y, made for TV way—they sure as hell weren’t filming on China, Japan, Monaco, etc.—but still). While Nikita got into a lot of relatively-easy-to-stage shoot-outs, Sydney got into a lot of brawls, car chases, and races, requiring considerably more involved choreography from the creators.   La Femme Nikita had style and tone; Alias had that and vision. Perhaps most importantly, while La Femme Nikita was structured in a manner not dissimilar to countless other shows, with self-contained one-shot episodes and very few recurring characters, Alias had several large, overarching and interconnected storylines, involving lots of characters and events and places, giving the show a scope that at the time was unmatched and requiring far more attention and trust from viewers than was the norm at the time. Without Alias, there would have been no Lost. Without Lost to popularize the mytharc and assure TV execs that yes, viewers could deal with complex and elaborate story arcs, shows like Arrow or The Flash wouldn’t exist, at least not in their current forms.

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Season One of ” La Femme Nikita” is Indeed Quite a Bit Like “Twilight” (Spoilers)

noviembre 2, 2014 at 10:52 am (Television) (, , , , )

One of the claims I often noticed made when comparing the Peta Wilson La Femme Nikita to its successor, Maggie Q’s Nikita, is that it is  both considerably more dark and more gray than its successor. After finishing season one of Femme, I have to agree with the first part of that assessment: while Nikita is a story that is fundamentally about the possibility of fighting impossible odds and winning without having to give up one’s soul—even if that soul has plenty of red in its ledger—the earlier show, or at least its first season, is about the futility of even trying. It makes for a work that is fascinating, yet unpleasant to watch, particularly since the writers and showrunners appear to have no idea of just how dark the story they’re telling actually is.

Both versions of the story, like all versions of the Nikita story, feature at its center a quasi-legitimate black-ops group which forces their “recruits”, including Nikita, to become spies and assassins—spyssassins—at gunpoint. Femme‘s is called Section One, and is, the show wants us to believe, mostly involved in legitimate counterintelligence—stopping terrorists, procuring WMD’s before they fall into The Wrong Hands, etcetera.  Nikita‘s organization, on the other hand, is called Division, and is explicitly presented as a group which, unbeknownst to the rank and file, has been almost wholly corrupted by its director, who basically uses it as a way to accrue money and power for himself. The difference in the way the organizations are portrayed are largely a result of the two different stories each series is trying to tell: La Femme Nikita is a story about Nikita when she is inside, and therefore needs her to be doing arguably good work for Section One, while Nikita is about a Nikita who is on the outside trying to bring down Division, and therefore needs the organization to be a bad guy.

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A Visual History of April O’Neil, Part 7: 2010 – 2014

agosto 7, 2014 at 6:13 pm (Anime, Comic Books, Film, TMNT, Whitewashing) (, , , , , )

TMNT (2014) set photos of Megan Fox as April O'Neil.

The year 2009 brought about a seismic shift to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: after twenty-five years as a mom-and-pop property–albeit a ridiculously successful one–the intellectual property was sold to Viacom, and more specifically Nickelodeon, an entity that would not, and did not, waste any time capitalizing upon it.  Only an entity like Nick could have been able to take a cartoon series that lasted six years and almost a hundred and fifty episodes and make it seem like a footnote in TMNT history, but that’s precisely what happened; with the turtles once again in comic book stores, tv screens and movie theaters, the last few years have been like 1991 all over again.

However, this is not, in fact, 1991, a time when Eastman and Laird were willing, if not always happy, to let almost anyone play with their toys: Nickelodeon appears to keep the turtles on a much shorter leash.  Even when characters like Karai get radically reinvented, it feels like a boundary exists; the turtles must not pass this point.  They can’t be radical, just Radical (TM).  Therefore it is not surprising to see that April is once again and three times over, a white woman.

More interesting for the purposes of this series is the fact that IDW Publishing’s license to create and publish TMNT books gave them the ability to reprint the old Mirage and Archie material, and that the company has thus been making books that were out of print for decades available once again.  More interesting still, the reprinted Mirage material, much of it originally in black and white, is being recolored, meaning that various colorists have been tasked with looking at the various looks of April O’Neil and drawing conclusions about  just what it was the original creators intended, and deciding whether or not they’ll stick to that original intent.

So yeah, lots to cover here.  One note before we begin, though: these images are organized in more or less chronological order, and while that’s easy enough to establish with the books, I’ve had to rely on some educated guesswork when it comes to the images relating to the cartoon and film.  So there’s that.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

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