Friday, June 28, 2019

Zweihander Revised - the Retail Edition

I was shocked to discover two copies of Zweihander Revised sitting on the shelf at my local Barnes & Noble, truly something that I would ordinarily never expect --and with B&N being bought by a hedge fund that is putting a guy in charge on the record for wanting to cut down on the "hard to sell" books, unlikely to be a thing in the future, either.

Anyway, I'd only been acquainted with the POD version previously, so was shocked to see such a pleasant, high-quality bound tome, with ribbon, full color interior and incredibly nice design qualities for a paltry $65 so I grabbed a copy. You should look for a copy of this edition if you can, it's well worth it. I might plan to actually run a game soon, as the grim and perilous standards of Zweihander suit my gaming mood a lot more these days than the happy and heroic form of D&D 5E. This is also a good version of the game for fans of the system (like myself) from the old Warhammer 1E and 2E days who have never cared much for the Games Workshop Warhammer fantasy setting as such....liked the aesthetics if you will, but not the execution.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Film Review: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Two great things came out of this movie experience with John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum. The first one was when my son turned to me in the middle of the film and declared, "Papa, you know, this movie is made for combat fans. And you know what? We are combat fans." He was spot on....if you've ever wanted to watch a movie with just enough fill between the amazing action sequences to justify the next action sequence, John Wick (all the movies) fit this description perfectly.

The second was the moment I realized that John Wick's charm comes about from the fact that this is basically Male Romance in film format. The John Wick trilogy (soon to be a four parter) is about Keannu Reaves as the embodiment of the middle-aged man who had found his purpose, had it stripped away from him, then rekindles that purpose in the only way he knows how: by some serious murderation. It's unabashed in its revelry of the violent form as the medium of expression. It does not question its own universe, which appears to be one dominated by a heirarchy of assassin cabals who run the world. It sprinkles just enough world building in to make you feel like there is some structure and purpose to the universe, but not enough to trigger the weird fans who must have answers to all questions. It's not about that. It likes to entertain a bit of mystery....but once again, only enough to get you to the next major combat scene. 

So yeah, this has been my favorite film of the year so far. A+++!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Film Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix suffers for several reasons. The key problems this film faces include the following:

1. It's a sequel to X-Men Apocalypse, which was the weakest of the rebooted series so far, and as a result it continues with a bunch of characters that didn't get the best setup in the prior film to begin with.

2. It's a franchise that Marvel fans are convinced is imminently going to be rebooted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Disney. This probably will happen, but I will predict we won't see it for at least 5 or more years.

3. It's taking on the most infamous and well-remembers storyline from the old Byrne/Claremont days of the X-Men during it's heyday, a hard story to adapt to film without making serious concessions.

4. No Hugh Jackman, which means we could not have a squicky Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops love triangle.

5. According to some sources, it was slated for a February release but as booted up due to a conflict with Battle Angel Alita. This shows; the film is a darker, broodier story that would suit a winter audience's sensibilities was clearly not meant to be summer popcorn wahoo fare.

All of that aside, I actually really enjoyed Dark Phoenix and felt like, taken in itself, the film was a better follow-up to X-Men First Class and Days of Future Past (two films I greatly enjoyed), and that if it were possible to simply forget about the existence of Apocalypse then Dark Phoenix might have been even better.

Now, taken in and of itself, Dark Phoenix did a lot right. Chief among these were that it kept the run time to two hours, and as a result had a rather tight and a clean storyline. This despite what I understand were a lot of reshoots and edits, which apparently were meant to fix some glaring issues from test audiences and also maybe to tighten it up as an end to the four part X-Men run.

The actual story made me more empathetic to the Jean Grey character; the actress always struck me as more of a "Jean Grey cosplayer" but I am told she's actually well known from Game of Thrones (something I have never watched, ain't got that sort of time!) so whadda I know. Still, she managed to do a much better performance here than in Apocalypse.

The story also best it incorporate some elements of the original Dark Phoenix saga in to it. There's the threat of the Phoenix Force as a world-eating malevolence. There's an alien race (not the Shi'ar, alas) who seek to bring it to justice or harness it, or something. Jean Grey's transformation from confused mutant to omnipotent power is underplayed but works well for me, and it probably helps that they establish early on that she was never really that ethical to begin with (the story delves into some early childhood trauma, mutant style).

Overall....I felt this was worth my time to see, and appreciated what they tried to do here with the final non-MCU version of the X-Men before some future reboot happens. The movie remains a victim of this Summer's film apocalypse, and perhaps rightly so, but I definitely had more fun with this than Godzilla KOTM or Hellboy. Solid B+

The Idea: Micro Posts

June has been the slowest blogging month for me in years, possibly since when I first started. Some of it has been time (limited), stress (copious) and interest (fluctuating all over the place). A lot of it has just boiled down to "I got other stuff going on."

But! I still do occasionally have something to write or say, I just don't feel it is worthy of an immense blog post. I think I'll toy around with the idea of "micro posting" occasionally when I have something I feel is worthy of discussion but maybe not worthy of a lengthy blog post. We shall see how it goes....