Whatcha Been Watching?

This is the place where you can confab about all the other stuff besides videogames.
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ratsoalbion
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by ratsoalbion » June 24th, 2018, 7:26 pm

I enjoyed it too. Utterly preposterous of course, shallow and hollow - but quite possibly my second favourite in the franchise after the original - albeit after a fairly large gap.
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » June 25th, 2018, 5:37 am

I re-watch/re-visited Indie Game: The Movie, this time with my girlfriend. I had been discussing my game ideas with her, and she's been encouraging me, and I thought this might give her some insight into the difficulties and barriers that come with putting something creative out into the world (as she's not really a gamer).

Her "goods": she made a comment about Edmund McMillen, stating that he was "living authentically", and that even though the artwork was kinda gross, there was something genuine and honest about it. She ended up really liking him.

Her "bads": didn't have a high opinion of Jonathan Blow, which kinda made me laugh. For someone who wasn't really into gaming like I am, she just came to the "pretentious" conclusion pretty quickly. Kinda funny.

A lot has happened since the movie came out in 2012, but as a gateway movie that demonstrates the universal truths of putting something artistic out into a commercial space, with all the pressures and personalties that exist in that world, it holds up well. And seeing it again reminded me just how awesome Edmund Mcmillen is.
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » June 27th, 2018, 6:39 pm

Finished the second season of Westworld. As a whole, I enjoyed this season much more than the first. I enjoyed it getting a bit more personal, a bit more scifi. I do find both seasons to be stretched beyond their story, but that's the nature of television these days.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 5th, 2018, 4:27 pm

So I just started the Wire. I don't like police procedurals, but I needed a show to watch while the wife was away and it clicked. I'm still on the first season but I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Chopper » July 6th, 2018, 10:05 am

I just blasted through seasons 1-4 of the Wire last month; currently bogged down in season 5 but need to keep momentum to see it through.

It's pretty good, the characters are excellent and really stay with you when it's all done and dusted.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Scrustle » July 9th, 2018, 10:17 am

Not long ago I imported the BluRay collection for Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was a joy to watch through all of that again, and finally in decent visual quality too! While it's not flawless, it fixes that awful problem the DVDs had, and generally looks really nice. And of course it's still an excellent show with great character development, great pacing, brilliant animation, and a stunning finale. Very good stuff, holds up really well.

After that I decided to keep the ball rolling and continued on to The Legend of Korra. So far I've watched through the first series of that, and am a little bit in to the second. The first is still really good. Great characters as well, and brilliant animation. It was interesting to find that music is much more prominent in Korra than I remembered. Or rather it is more prominent compared to TLA. The difference is much bigger than I remember. Although coming back to this series after a while has me thinking about some things that I only had hunches about before, but didn't have the wider understanding to really properly get. The whole "Equalist" thing is a bit iffy. Amon as an antagonist is very good, but the way they present his cause has some problems I think. While obviously Amon is a bad guy himself, the way they present his wider cause comes off as a bit... misjudged? I guess going further goes in to spoilers so....
Spoiler: show
Amon may be a liar and a hypocrite himself, but the things he talks about could be pretty legitimate. The idea that Benders in this world are using their powers to oppress normal people is something that is never properly addressed, but what little we do see hints that he's actually right. We see the Triads using their powers to bully and threaten people, and many if not all the the people in high-ranking people in the government seem to be Benders too. Even if they're not actually using their powers to put people down, they still hold a position of power in no small part to their abilities. On top of that, there's the more literal case of the police all being powerful Benders too. Special even by the standards of Bending. They end up using those powers to place curfews on normal people for no reason, and then arrest them when they peacefully protest.

I guess you could maybe argue that the problem in that society is not that Benders oppress non-Benders, but rather the societal system itself allows those with power to abuse it, with that power not necessarily being Bending ability. But even so, Bending still plays a big part in that.

But something that I thought was perhaps just as worrying was how the show presents Amon when he talks, in radio broadcasts and the like. He talks about bringing justice and equality, and changing a broken system. Apart from his deep voice, there isn't really sinister in what he says. Amon's methods are objectionable, for sure, but what he says he's trying to achieve isn't. Yet the show frames these talks as being frightening and foreboding. Tense music plays as people sit around radios fearfully while this man talks about making the world a better place. It comes off like the show is far more concerned with making the viewer fear a change to the status quo, rather than justice. Even if Amon himself just wants to grab power by force and eradicate Bending from the world (not including himself of course), the idea that we are supposed to fear the idea of equality and freedom from oppression, or that the people who believe in that cause aren't worth paying attention to, is pretty troubling.
But despite that I still really liked it. Just bringing up these topics is an admirable direction for the show to take I think, even if they mess them up somewhat. Also I was really impressed watching the first few episodes of this series again too. I forgot how strong they were.

Starting the second series, so far I'm not that hot on it. I remember liking it at the time, although it also getting a bit of a negative response from the fanbase. Now I can see why. One of the biggest complaints was that the animation quality is inferior, for at least the first half of this one, because it was done by a different studio to the rest of the show. I never noticed a significant difference first time around, but this time I do. While the fight scenes are still really well done, the dialogue scenes are pretty sloppy. The character models look kind of sloppy and low detail occasionally, and they frequently feel stiff and lifeless. It makes some of the conversations feel a bit flat. Like the high quality of the voice acting isn't mirrored in the actions that the characters are actually making. There's a disconnect that feels like cutting corners, and dampens a lot of the moments that feel like they should have more impact. But weirdly, there is the occasional dialogue scene where, for a few seconds at least, it seems weirdly over-animated. Like they take am insignificant background character who only has a line or two, and massively play up their actions, to the point where the voice acting feels inappropriately muted. It's good quality animation in those spots, but still kind of jarring and awkward.

On top of that the comedic elements are not really hitting this time around either. I think the comedy moments in the first series were actually pulled off really well. They could get goofy sometimes, but not so much that they felt inappropriate for the tone of the show. Here they go too far over the top I think. Mostly with Bolin. His sidestory with his "love interest" in early episodes feels really pointless and forced. Doesn't need to be there, and just feels like an excuse to have him tag along and be the butt of a few boring repetitive jokes. The poor animation quality also ruins a lot of these moments too, draining them of any energy they otherwise could have. Varrick seems a little too much on the "wacky" side too.

The antagonist for this one tends to get a lot of hate too, but I don't mind him so much. Not in these early episodes at least. At first I think he does come across as a compelling character. He shows that he has expertise in spirituality, something that Korra wants to learn, and also seems to genuinely want to help fix a real problem. But then he suddenly turns and becomes a megalomaniac and steps up his plans to "help" the Southern Water Tribe to an absurd degree kind of out of nowhere. I can see his traditionalist ways being a source of conflict that makes sense, but starting a civil war out of nowhere is a bit ridiculous. Haven't got much further than that yet, so I can't say how things pan out. From what I remember from seeing this before, it doesn't get much better. Looking forward to seeing the flashback sequences again though.
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Flabyo » July 9th, 2018, 2:22 pm

I haven’t got to season 2 of korra yet, but most people I know say it’s the weaker of the four. It gets much better again after the slight dip.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Todinho » July 9th, 2018, 3:57 pm

Scrustle wrote:
July 9th, 2018, 10:17 am
Not long ago I imported the BluRay collection for Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was a joy to watch through all of that again, and finally in decent visual quality too! While it's not flawless, it fixes that awful problem the DVDs had, and generally looks really nice. And of course it's still an excellent show with great character development, great pacing, brilliant animation, and a stunning finale. Very good stuff, holds up really well.

After that I decided to keep the ball rolling and continued on to The Legend of Korra. So far I've watched through the first series of that, and am a little bit in to the second. The first is still really good. Great characters as well, and brilliant animation. It was interesting to find that music is much more prominent in Korra than I remembered. Or rather it is more prominent compared to TLA. The difference is much bigger than I remember. Although coming back to this series after a while has me thinking about some things that I only had hunches about before, but didn't have the wider understanding to really properly get. The whole "Equalist" thing is a bit iffy. Amon as an antagonist is very good, but the way they present his cause has some problems I think. While obviously Amon is a bad guy himself, the way they present his wider cause comes off as a bit... misjudged? I guess going further goes in to spoilers so....
Spoiler: show
Amon may be a liar and a hypocrite himself, but the things he talks about could be pretty legitimate. The idea that Benders in this world are using their powers to oppress normal people is something that is never properly addressed, but what little we do see hints that he's actually right. We see the Triads using their powers to bully and threaten people, and many if not all the the people in high-ranking people in the government seem to be Benders too. Even if they're not actually using their powers to put people down, they still hold a position of power in no small part to their abilities. On top of that, there's the more literal case of the police all being powerful Benders too. Special even by the standards of Bending. They end up using those powers to place curfews on normal people for no reason, and then arrest them when they peacefully protest.

I guess you could maybe argue that the problem in that society is not that Benders oppress non-Benders, but rather the societal system itself allows those with power to abuse it, with that power not necessarily being Bending ability. But even so, Bending still plays a big part in that.

But something that I thought was perhaps just as worrying was how the show presents Amon when he talks, in radio broadcasts and the like. He talks about bringing justice and equality, and changing a broken system. Apart from his deep voice, there isn't really sinister in what he says. Amon's methods are objectionable, for sure, but what he says he's trying to achieve isn't. Yet the show frames these talks as being frightening and foreboding. Tense music plays as people sit around radios fearfully while this man talks about making the world a better place. It comes off like the show is far more concerned with making the viewer fear a change to the status quo, rather than justice. Even if Amon himself just wants to grab power by force and eradicate Bending from the world (not including himself of course), the idea that we are supposed to fear the idea of equality and freedom from oppression, or that the people who believe in that cause aren't worth paying attention to, is pretty troubling.
But despite that I still really liked it. Just bringing up these topics is an admirable direction for the show to take I think, even if they mess them up somewhat. Also I was really impressed watching the first few episodes of this series again too. I forgot how strong they were.
hey Scrustle remember all those years ago when we used to have big discussions about Korra here as it was coming out? Good times, in one of those times I brought up almost the exact same point that you did about the equalists and that plays into why I hate the ending of season 1 so much:
Spoiler: show
you're absolutelly right about what you're saying its really troublesome, the equalists are meant to represent the communists from the XIX century you can disagree with their methods but their goals arent evil and they point out and fight against obvious injustices in society, what Korra does that I find so bad is that it basically says "Those guys are the problem, fuck them and poverty isnt an issue!" and they never ever touch on the topic again so show is just saying you see the problem was those rable rousers really and that's it, the same thing happens in Season 3 whne they put in anarchism

In Korra the main characters protect the status quo and the villains that raise good points( and are much more interesting then our main character) are brushed off in the last 5 min of the season to wrap it up and their issues forgotten, which is why it always baffled me to hear people call this show "progressive" because it has LGBTQ characters the reality is that its a conservative show it reminded me alot of Bioshock Infinite and how the politics in both made me feel.
That animation in season 1 is gorgeous though.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Scrustle » July 12th, 2018, 11:44 am

Finished off Book Two of Korra now, and yeah, this one ends up being rather disappointing. I thought perhaps knowing how things went going in would help soften the bad surprises, but I think it actually ended up having the opposite effect. It's not all bad though. Once they change back to Studio Mir, the animation quality goes back up to the usual high standard, so that's good. Scrutinizing the different animation more closely together was pretty interesting actually. It's not necessarily that Studio Mir actually had more movement in dialogue scenes. If you break down what is actually in the frame and what is moving, both Studio Mir's work and Studio Pierrot's are relatively similar in terms of what they're actually doing. But Mir seems to have a way better grasp of body language. Characters feel much more alive and expressive, just because Mir knows how to pose them better. They're not really moving much more. That's not including shots where the characters are very small on screen though. Mir is just better at keeping to model in those shots too.

Also the flashback sequences with Wan are better than I was expecting too. This is a point that I was actually worried might not hold up. I remember it being a high point because of the drastically different animation style, and seeing a different version of that world that was full of spirits, seeing the origins of Bending and such. But I had a hunch that maybe they explain things too much, or they make bad explanations for things. Getting a bit too far in to "medichlorian" territory, and making the Avatar feel much less special. Thankfully, it didn't come across that way. The explanation for things made sense, and did a good job of tip-toeing around existing lore. Managed to give a backstory for the Avatar and that world without making it feel less important or mystical. Wan's interactions with the spirits are pretty great too. The weird aye-aye one that he spends most time talking to in particular is a really fun character.

Sadly though, the rest didn't hold up that well. The antagonist goes from bad to worse. Starts off with potential, but ends pretty badly.
Spoiler: show
Focusing the story around the role of traditionalism, especially in a world where things like old magic and spirits actually exist, could have been a really interesting idea. But instead it went from that, to starting a civil war, to eventually becoming an evil kaiju god. Wanting to be in touch with the spirits and respecting them is a long way from wanting to destroy the world and erase humanity from existence because... spirits are better? I don't know. It didn't make sense. I feel like the whole concept kind of belittles itself by just being one part of this ongoing series, and as a result kind of belittles the rest of the show too. The idea of a "Dark Avatar" is something that I think actually could have a lot of potential to it. That could be done well. But it's such a huge thing, it needs to be the single threat of this story. Of Korra's story. Make that the big bad over three or four seasons, not just one of several.

The way they deal with that threat, and other events in the finale are pretty nonsensical too. A lot of it feels sort of like deus ex machina, but I don't think it actually counts as that. It is within the realms of what is possible in this setting, but at the same time does kind of come out of nowhere and doesn't have a satisfying lead-up. The way Korra also turns in to a massive kaiju just feels weird and out of place. I guess that's her energy-bending? Which she learns by meditating in a tree? Okay. Jinora helping at the end doesn't really make much sense either. I get that she's a spiritual prodigy, but what exactly did she do in that final fight where she helped Korra? I only watched it yesterday, but honestly all I remember is that she glowed and fused with Korra or something? Or gave her some power? I don't get it.

There were also some really weird narrative choices they made at the end which were just strange and unnecessary. I think these are the things that got me frustrated with this show before. They do some huge things here, that should have massive ramifications for this world, but they never make good on them. Like when they kill Raava and sever Korra's link to the old avatars. Why? All that did was destroy a really interesting narrative tool. For what, a moment of drama in the finale where it looks like there's no hope? Was destroying any chance of seeing Aang, or Wan, or Roku again really worth it for that? Then there's leaving the portals open. Korra just did it, even though that was what she was trying to stop the whole time, for no reason. Just spur of the moment, decided that was what she was going to do. Sounds pretty dangerous to me. We saw what happened during Wan's flashbacks what it was like when spirits could freely move to the physical world. Humans were almost wiped out. But even if that wasn't going to happen again, such a decision should have massive implications for that world. Completely change reality and society, and play a massive role in any major event afterwards. Yet if I'm remembering rightly, that doesn't really happen in the later seasons. Things carry on mostly as normal, but now there are a few magical creatures hanging around.
There's more I could talk about I guess, like how the twins were kind of pointless characters, how Varrick gets off way too easy, but meh. That's enough. And despite all that, I have to admit I did still enjoy watching it. Bolin's arc gets a bit better I suppose (although still never great), and the sidestory with Tenzin reconnecting with his siblings and accepting Aang's flaws as a parent were actually really well done. And even if the finale made no sense, the fight scenes were still really well choreographed and animated, and were fun to watch.

Before I move on to Book Three though, I'm going to play through the game again, since it's set during the period between these two seasons. I've always felt like that game got too much flack for what it is. It's not Platinum's best work, sure, but it's still a fun action game that has that Platinum feel to it, and is probably the best thing you could expect for a budget priced licensed tie-in game for a cartoon. It's pretty impressive in that context I think. It's also way better playing it in NG+, since that gets rid of a lot of the problems. All Bending styles and combos unlocked from the start, and the ability to skip the runner stages. Good stuff.
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Alex79uk » July 15th, 2018, 8:57 pm

Watched Calibre, a Netflix original movie today.

It's fantastic. Probably the best film I've seen all year. I don't want to give too much away, but it's set in Scottish Highlands and two city boys go hunting. A terrible thing happens, and there are consequences.

Check it out. Highly recommended!

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 16th, 2018, 3:33 pm

Ant-Man and the Wasp was fun stuff. Breezy, light-weight, and extremely standalone. It was a good time. Might be the most, "ah, just put that movie on" of the Marvel films.

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