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I wanted to do a postmortem on my time with B.L.U.E and figure out how I can do better the next time around. This is a bit ‘inside baseball’ (a fair bit of programming talk), but I wanted a record of it to look back to. Also, it may be useful to someone out there. So, here it is. :)

I’ve loved video games for a long time. But it wasn’t until recently, when I reached a point of being really comfortable with Python (the language I wrote B.L.U.E with), that the thought of actually making a game crossed my mind. I was like, ‘Hey, I can probably figure out how to do that’ and I jumped into the world of making a game.




WHAT WENT RIGHT


I love platformers (Mega Man X, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic 2), so I decided to do something similar – something with a Metroidvania feel.
 
I built a small prototype to see how to handle basic things (moving a character, dealing with collision, stuff like that). I am SO glad I did that because that solved a lot of problems that I otherwise would have had to deal with during the larger project. Doing that prototype also gave me the confidence that I could do a ‘proper’ game if I just extended the things that I had already done.

Since this was my first game, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. That meant that the rooms (screens that the player navigates through) were made with two colors (a basic color and a highlight color). I didn’t even use a background color until the final level. That meant that the rooms could be built and iterated on very quickly. I dabbled with doing artwork for each room, but quickly realized that if I slowed down to make each room overly pretty, I would never finish. So, I concentrated on making each room unique. This proved to be a very good decision. The prototype had 27 rooms. B.L.U.E, however, has 201 rooms. Being able to build rooms quickly was a lifesaver.

Over time, I also found a good rhythm for building rooms. I would draw the rooms on plain old computer paper first, build them, play-test them and then change things until the room felt good. This was done for every room in B.L.U.E. This whole process became faster and faster I went on, and I’m glad to have increased productivity in this way while working on the project.

This also forced me to be creative. I thought I had a lot of ideas for rooms – but then 50 rooms later, 100 rooms later, 150 rooms later – I discovered I didn’t have as many ideas as I thought. It forced me to continually come up with new ideas – new paths for the player to go through - and I really like that.

Also, this being my first game, there’s no animation, music, boss fights, maps, mini-games, etc. All of that would have just slowed me down. I had a simple idea – navigate a blue square through five levels and get four abilities – one at the end of each of the first four levels. The final level would require the player to use all the abilities gained to overcome its challenges. That’s it. That simple idea was with me from the beginning of the project until the end.

Another reason for doing this project is that I wanted to become a better programmer and I can say that I understand a lot more about Python now than when I started. So, I’m glad for that growth. It makes me excited to learn more and get better at this stuff. ^_^

Also, the play-testers that shared what they thought about the game - both good and bad – were the best part of this whole proves. I LOVE y’all for doing that. I went back and played the first version I shared with y’all and it was so bad I was EMBARRASED I shared it with you. But you were nothing but kind and supportive, sharing ways that it could improve and how you felt about it. It really showed me that you need a different perspective for something to be good. I was too close to it and y’all pointed out things that I would NEVER have seen. You put aside time to play my silly game about a jumping square and you didn’t have to do that. So again, THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU. :heart: :hug: :heart:

Side Note


An interesting development was the purple ability, Float. At first, the ability was Glide – something akin to what Commander Video has in Super Meat Boy. But, once added to the game it just didn’t feel right. It ruined the flow. I was so excited to add it to the game and once added – it wasn’t fun. So, I tried making it more powerful, but that completely broke the game because now you could just glide from one end of the room to the other, nullifying the need to do any platforming. So, I tried making it less powerful – I allowed the character to glide a little less far. That felt better, so I made the character glide less.  And then less. Then I suddenly had the thought – ‘What if he doesn’t move at all?’ So, I removed all sideways movement entirely and tried that. Wow! It felt really good – and different. This didn’t replace the platforming movement – it added to it. You could now do something that you could not do before (as opposed to doing something that could do before, but in a different way). That moment, when I realized I had found my second ability (the first being Run) was just awesome. I love that. I think that's so cool. ^_^



WHAT WENT WRONG


This project was very much made in an organic, ‘let’s just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks’ fashion. While it felt very ‘true’, ‘raw’, ‘organic’ and a lot of other artsy words, the end result is that there were a lot of missteps and wasted time. The main thing I wish I did differently is that I would have planned more in the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to perpetually change code when I got new ideas. I felt like instead of writing the game once, I was re-writing it over and over again. That was the worst.

To follow up on the whole ‘planning’ thing, the next time I do this I’m going to spend some time just working on mechanics and system architecture FIRST – THEN build the game after. With B.L.U.E., I was doing everything at once. The worst feeling I had was working on room 125 and finding out that there was a memory leak issue that was causing the game to crash. To fix it, I would have to re-write the entire game, using a completely different system architecture to better handle the memory. That was the worst. At this point, I just wanted to build rooms and finish the game – I didn’t want to deal with memory management crap. Next time, I’m going to front load all of that stuff. Figure out a stable architecture that can scale well (since this problem didn’t show up until I passed like 100 rooms) and THEN build on that.

I also started to wonder if I should be programming in Python at all. I mean, I love Python (I’m a total Python fanboy – ‘2.7 for LIFE, fool!’ LOL), but I started to think that maybe I was wasting my time. Maybe I should be using the Unity Engine, or writing the code in C++, and on, and on. Now, I respect C++, but I do not like C++ (I definitely don’t program in it for fun like in Python). These thoughts were quite distracting during the project. I’m glad I was able to push them aside and just work, but the next time I do this, I gotta make sure I do my research first. 

I also need to do a better job on promoting the game. I didn’t know where else to post it, so I posted it here (thought this is primarily an art community, not a game one) and on Twitter. Clearly, that’s not enough. I gotta find some indie game communities and share thoughts, ideas and projects. That whole side of ‘where/how do I share this once it’s done’ I didn’t think about… until it was done. So, I gotta do a better job on that next time.



CLOSING THOUGHTS


All in all, I’m happy with how B.L.U.E turned out. Once I started working on it, I was obsessed (so much so that it surprised me). I worked on it every spare moment from March 7th to April 11th, often till the wee hours of the morning (like 4AM). Though it’s a very simple game, it’s the most complex things I’ve ever written. The game has 201 rooms and has over 10,000 lines of code. I’m proud of it, I hope people like it and I’m glad I did it. *raises glass* “To bigger and better things in the future! Huzzah!” :D

For those interested, you can download B.L.U.E here: BLUE
Hey, all. My first game is complete! Hurray! :dance: It was a lot of fun and I learned so much. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Check it out here:

:star: mikecrichlow.com/images/blue_w… :star:

You play as B.L.U.E., a fearless warrior… who happens to be a blue square. :lol: He has been trapped in this labyrinth of platforming insanity. Please help him escape! Explore five huge areas in this Metrodivania-style platformer. Unlock new abilities! Avoid enemies! Impress your friends! :D




Check it out here:

:star: mikecrichlow.com/images/blue_w… :star:

Thanks for the love and support, y'all. :heart: I especially want to thank those who play-tested it. They made it SO much better than it would have been otherwise. Rock on!!!

Much love and I hope you like it! Talk to you soon! :D

Mike C
...and I don't know how to deal with it.

So, I found out today that Adam Sessler is leaving Rev3Games (which I consider to be the best place online for video game news, reviews, etc.). Not only that, but Anthony Carboni (who I've been watching since he was doing Bytejacker) is also leaving. That leaves Tara Long as the only reason that I would watch the channel. But, it's only just one thing, right? What's the big deal?

Except it's not just one thing.

Max Scoville (who used to host on Rev3Games) left a while ago and that sucked. I thought he was really cool and was bummed to see him leave. Now this happens. Ugh. :(

To tell you the truth I really got choked up today when I found out that Adam and Anthony were leaving. So much so that it surprised me. Why was I so upset?

I think because it underscores a general sentiment I've been feeling for while now: that everything I love is ending. For years I've watched video game shows and reviews and basically grow up with people. It sounds weird, but by hearing someone on a weekly basis you grow really attached to them.

So many shows I love have ended: Diggnation, The Totally Rad Show, X-Play from back in the day (back when it was good), Weekend Confirmed, The Vergecast is on sabbatical... and on, and on, and on. I guess this news about Sessler was just the final nail in the coffin.

Of course it's not just that. This just underscores the fact that everyone in my life has moved away, gotten married or no longer talks to me. I feel supremely left out. Everyone has moved on in their life and I'm still here. Sometimes I feel like the best days of my life are behind me and those days weren't even that great.

Sigh... whatever. I'll deal.

It's just a YouTube channel. It's not the end of the world, right?

I promise my next journal won't be so emotional. LOL

Much love. Talk to you soon.

Mike C
Hey, all. Hope y'all have been good. I'm almost finished the prototype of the game that I've been working on. Just have the start menu and final area to build and that's it! ^__^ I learned  lot from this, I tell ya. The whole point of this was to have fun and become a better programmer. Well, that definitely happened. Gotta keep going and finish strong. :)

So, if you're interested in playing my little game about a jumping square (Huzzah! :lol:) just note me and I'll send over the lastest build. The feedback the last time was SUPER helpful and I'm thankful to everyone that took the time to play it and share what they thought with me. :hug:

Much love, y'all. Keep moving forward! :D :heart:
Talk to you soon.

Mike C
Hey, all. Hope you've been doing well. Sheesh. I need to update my DA stuff more regularly. >_<

Anyway, I've been working on the follow-up to the first game I made and it's gonna be a lot bigger and better! I'm staying with a similar aesthetic (since I have to make all the assets myself) and so far it's coming along pretty well. Trying to find an interesting way to make a square jumping on other squares interesting. Make it 'cute' and 'silly', not 'cheap' and 'crappy'. May even sell this one when I'm done. I dunno. I just know that I'm learning a lot... and it's a lot of work.

So, that brings me to this: I need play-testers. As I work on this, I've love to share where I am and get feedback (since it's going to take a little while to complete). My goal is to have it finished by the end of the semester (May 24) and turn it in as my final game project for that class.

All you need is a Windows PC and a wired Xbox 360 controller. That's it! :)

If you'd like to be a play-tester (I won't trouble you too often. Maybe like 3 or 4 times between now and the end of May) leave a comment and let me know! Hey, it's a free game that you can play! :D You can also send a note. Thanks!

So, what have you all been up to? Games, movies, I wanna know. Been programming so much I feel left out. LOL

Much love, y'all. Talk to you soon. :D

Mike C
So it seems that everything is working well. I'll share a public link here for anyone that wants to check it out. If you do, be sure to pass back around and let me know what you think! Hopefully, I can do more of these in the future. Making a game is so cool! :D

:star: Game link here: --> mikecrichlow.com/images/game_0… :star:



Game link here: --> mikecrichlow.com/images/game_0…

Hope ya dig it! Now I have more programming to do. Bigger and better things await! Cheers!! :D

Mike Crichlow
Hey, y'all. Long time no see. Been busy with school, life and everything in between. During all that I wanted to get into programming more for fun - and I thought that best way to do that was to make a game. Thus, my first game is complete! BEHOLD!



Haha! I know. It isn't exactly Halo. >_< But I made it myself and I think that's pretty cool. Wrote the entire thing in Python and I'm eager to explore other languages/developer kits in the future. Next, Unity! (maybe. Let's not go crazy here.)

Here's the thing. This is the first time I've done anything like this. I don't plan to sell it (I mean, come on. It's barely a game :lol: ) but I do want to share it with whoever wants to play it. Before I do that, though - I want to make sure the the .exe compiled correctly and all that. (Yeah, that's where I am. Told ya - it's my first time writing something like this.)

So, if you have a Windows PC and a wired Xbox 360 controller (yep, it's necessary) just note me that you'd like to check it out and I'll send you a link to the game. I just need a few people to check to make sure everything works and then I'll just post a public link for whoever wants to check it out. :)

Sounds good? Cool. Note me and let me know.

I'm excited, y'all!! Here's to big things in the future! :D

-Mike Crichlow
Hey, all. I’ve been playing a lot of Mega Man lately and I thought I’d share a few things. What do I think of Mega Man? Read on, loyal readers. Read on…




So, a little while ago I was introduced to Mega Man. Due to the excitement of Mighty No. 9, I thought it was the perfect time to go back and see what all the fuss was about. So, I started with Mega Man X. Fantastic game. Then I played Mega Man 2. Also fantastic (though I haven’t beaten that one yet. Wiley’s Stage 1 always gets me. That’s alright. One of these days… *shakes fist* >_< ) Then I tried Mega Man X3 (since it was recommended to me). That game… is awesome. It’s beyond awesome. It quickly became my favorite Mega Man game and I was starting to question if I would ever play anything else. :D All I did was play X3 – day in, day out. I’d get home - beat the game – then do work afterwards. I’d beat the game while listening to a podcast. Or eating lunch. Or just because I felt like it. I had liked games before, but this was ridiculous. :P

In fact I got so proficient at beating the game that I soon desired another game to learn (X3 was getting a little too familiar). So, I tried X2 and immediately stopped playing it. It just wasn’t fun. (I dunno. Wheel Gator sucks so much. LOL) I just wasn’t having any fun playing it. ‘Hmm’, I thought. ‘Maybe my fascination with Mega Man is drawing to a close.’

Then I tried ‘Rockman and Forte’.

*sigh* I got it bad, y’all. I got it bad. :heart:




Rockman and Forte is definitely one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. Now, I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but that’s what I feel right now, so that’s what I’m saying. It’s good. It’s SO GOOD. I think of it all the time. I’m planning paths as I fall asleep in bed. I’m thinking of different ways I can defeat enemies. The music is playing non-stop in my brain. Why is this so? WHY IS MEGA MAN SO FREAKIN’ GOOD? WHY CAN’T I STOP? ARGH!!! LOL :D

Well, to put it simply, I think the structure of the game is designed to generate ownership. They give you so much choice – who to fight first, what weapon to use as you fight them, the levels have no time limit and – as long as the enemies get defeated – you can use whatever strategy you want. I think that’s the key right there.

Since Mega Man games are traditionally very difficult (and Rockman and Forte is no exception. That game is hard, yo!), when I (as the player) discover a path or a weapon that makes what was once an impossible part of the level MUCH EASIER, it feels like I found a secret or something. It feels magical. I don’t know how else to describe it. It feels freakin’ GOOD. And since I was the one that discovered it, I have a tremendous amount of ownership over how to tackle that part of the level.

The thing is – since Mega Man games are so difficult, this ownership basically covers every part of every single level! There is a degree of level memorization that I do for Mega Man games that I don’t do for any other type of game. I also have to practice the levels to get good at them. That’s nuts!! (Think about it – what’s the last game that you had to practice to get good at? Not just play and beat. Not just complete various objectives in multiplayer – but straight up PRACTICE before you got good at it? Just saying – not too many games in the modern era do that.)




So, with that in mind, I think Mega Man games are successful for two main reasons: 1.) They demand a lot of practice to get good at them (thus creating a deeper emotional investment just to COMPELTE the game) and 2.) They give a tremendous amount of ownership to the player (thus making each person’s playthrough feel unique, important and special).

THAT’S why I’m lying in bed thinking of better ways to defeat Dynamo Man. :lol:

I think that also contributes to why people love the franchise so much. Notice that as soon as I got comfortable with X3 I wanted another game to learn (notice I said learn not play. It really is fun to learn new levels, enemies and boss patterns). That’s why people are so frustrated that there hasn’t been a new Mega Man game is so long. They all want a new game to learn! ^_^

Anyway, y’all – just sharing some thoughts. It’s been a while since I’ve been so into a game – a single game – (I play Rockman and Forte for hours every day).  Usually, I beat a game and move onto the next thing. Not so with Mega Man. Those games stick with ya… and that’s cool with me. :)

Oh! And if you haven't played Rockman and Forte I strongly recommend it. It's kind of awesome. :D

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Well, what do you think? Have you played any Mega Man games? What games are you loving at the moment? Comment below. Let me know! :)

That's all for now, y'all. Much love! Talk to you soon! :D

Mike Crichlow

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Hey, all. Just saw the Sly Cooper movie trailer (yay! :dance: ) and wanted to share a few thoughts. BTW, if you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out below.  :)



I think it’s AWESOME that a Sly Cooper movie is being made. I’ve loved the Sly games since back in the day, so it’s really cool so see the characters adapted to the big screen. I always thought that people never gave enough credit to Sly Cooper, since the Jak and Daxter and the Ratchet and Clank games kinda stole the ‘3rd person platformer with a cartoon protagonist’ limelight from him. While solid, the series is kinda uneven if you ask me, but that first game – where you just play as Sly Cooper – that game is AWESOME. Best boss fight of the series, too. *sigh* Good times, y’all. Good times.

Onto the trailer…



First, I think that the mood looks really good. The night background as well as the playful tone work really well. The sound design is good and it’s fun to see Sly sliding all over the place on the rooftops. One of the things l really liked about the Sly games was how much they felt like you were actually playing a cartoon. For example, the little ‘barrel-sneaking’ jingle that would happen whenever you’re sneaking inside a barrel never got old. Love it! I really hope that they put stuff like that into the movie.  You can hear what I mean about the ‘barrel sneaking’ sound at the beginning of this video. :)



Second, I think the characters – for the most part- look really good. It’s always a difficult thing to translate the characters from one medium into another. It’s like making 3D representations of something that you’ve always known as 2D. At first, it’s just going to look weird.
I gotta admit, when I first saw Bently (the turtle) I was like, ‘Wow, he looks a bit weird.’ But by the end of the trailer, I was fine with it. I think he looks cool. On the other hand, Sly immediately looked awesome to me and I think he looks the best of the bunch. Sleek, furry, arrogant – Ha! – love it. Love the screenful of adjectives for him too. Nice!




Who I DO NOT think looks good is Murray (the hippo). His snout(?) looks reeeeeeaaaly long and narrow. I was like, ‘Murray doesn’t look like that.’ Here’s how he looked in the trailer:




..and this is how he looked in the games:




COMPLETELY different, huh? His color is off, too. I guess a big pink hippo would look kinda weird in the trailer – but that’s who Murray is. I mean, his design works in the games, so why should they change what he looks like for the movie? To be honest, they changed how *everyone* looks slightly, but the only redesign that rubs me the wrong way is Murray. I hope they change it and make it look more like the game before the movie comes out.

Overall, I’m excited to see where they’re going with this and looking forward to it. I hope it’s awesome! Now, I just need to see what Carmelita Fox looks like. *rowr* LOL :D




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What do you think about the trailer? Agree? Disagree? Comment below. Let me know!
That's all for now, y'all. Much love! Talk to you soon! :D

Mike Crichlow

--------------------------------

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Stamp - Comics by AzraelleWormser I love anime stamp by vero-g6-stamps Pantsu fan stamp v2 by Rtalon235 Sketch Stamp by MichaelCrichlow

Final Fantasy X by darkdisciple-stamps STAMP-mechanical pencils by Sister-of-Charity  Future Pro - Stamp by MichaelCrichlow

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With the recent announcement of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the next Man of Steel movie (and the following nerd-rage that blew up the internet), the concept of a live action Wonder Woman movie really has me intrigued me. I’d love to see it, but honestly – there are a few issues that have to be dealt with for this movie to be any good. What are they? Read on, loyal readers. Read on…




She Has to Look the Part



With any character, especially superheroes, the first thing that hits you is how the character looks. As mentioned in my Man of Steel Review, one of the things that I liked about the movie was how Henry Cavill looked as both Superman and Clark. He was fit and powerful. He was a super man.

Now, Gal Gadot is fine (I’m not particularly a fan of her acting, but let’s look past that for a second) The thing is… she just doesn’t look like Wonder Woman. She’s kinda petite and slender. Very cute…but very not Wonder Woman.




I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, though. Christian Bale went from The Machinist to Batman Begins in one year. 




If he can do that, maybe there’s hope for her. Now that the Man of Steel sequel has been pushed back to May 6, 2016, I hope she’s taking the time to work out and build up her body. Work it, girl!










The Costume has to Look Right



There are so many variations to the Wonder Woman costume that I hardly know where to begin. That being said – the classic costume is still my favorite. The image of Wonder Woman that I’m most familiar with is the character from the DC animated series.




So, at first I thought the movie version should pretty much look just like that. However, I’ve seen a lot of cosplay of Wonder Woman and (more often than not) the costume comes off looking kind of silly when seen in real life. Or too sexy. Or kind of slutty. Or not practical. And on, and on, and on…




All of that is cool for a convention because people are just dressing up and having fun. When dealing with a movie adaptation of the character however, I think a lot of those things would just distract from the character. Instead of thinking about how awesome and strong Wonder Woman is, half of the audience would be like, ‘I just totally saw her booty. Wonder Woman booty. Wonder Whooty.’ :lol:

Wonder Woman is a difficult costume to do well because she has to be strong and powerful but also feminine and elegant. It’s an interesting balance that not too many can do well. Here are a few examples that I think work really well.




The last picture is my favorite of the group – and that’s a photo manipulation. Which means the photo that I think best represents Wonder Woman ISN’T EVEN A REAL PERSON. It’s this fantasy I have of this … perfect, amazing woman. Truth be told, I think a lot of people think the same way – which is why I think Wonder Woman is an especially difficult character to bring to the big screen. That’s also why comics and animation transcends what can be done in live action – you’re not limited by the constraints of reality.

Have you seen the Wonder Woman television pilot? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. NBC cancelled it before it even aired (though you can still “acquire” it online). Here’s what the costume looked like:




Are you kidding me? Why is so shiny and bright? The colors seem all wrong. Even the cut of the outfit isn’t flattering. Hollywood, you can do SO much better than this. Ugh… moving on…

She Needs to be True to the Character



One of the many reasons that the Wonder Woman pilot didn’t work is that the character didn’t feel like Wonder Woman - at all. At one point she says, ‘People just like to stare at my tits.’ What?! Wonder Woman would never say that! She’s a warrior princess from the Amazon and her tone, mood and speech should reflect that. She’s not a pin-up model in a flashy outfit punching dudes in the face. You have to take the character seriously while also having fun with the humor and camp that is inherent to comic book characters.




This was done especially well in the 2009 animated film, Wonder Woman. In one scene she teaches a little girl (who’s been left out of a game by a group of boys) how to swordfight. In another scene she kicks off her heels to better fight a bad guy. I thought that was awesome! She wasn’t concerned about ‘looking pretty for the camera’. She was like, ‘I need to take care of this situation. These heels need to GO!’ :lol:

If they can write such a cool and interesting character for the animated film (as well as the animated television series), they should be able to write a character for the film that is true to who Wonder Woman is.

Final Thoughts



Wonder Woman is an icon for a reason. She’s smart, strong, powerful and a really good role model. Lately, however, Hollywood has not been doing the character justice. I really hope that Gal Gadot does a good job and ‘tests well’ in the Man of Steel sequel – and here’s the reason: If people don’t like Wonder Woman in the next Superman film, the odds of her getting her own film plummet to virtually zero – and that would be a real shame. A character as awesome as Wonder Woman deserves her own movie on the big screen. It’ll be really interesting to see how the next Superman film turns out. For Wonder Woman’s sake – I hope it’s awesome.

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That's all for now, y'all. What do YOU think? What do you think would make for a good Wonder Woman movie? Comment below! Let me know! :D

Much love! Talk to you soon! :D

Mike Crichlow

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First of all, Happy New Year! :dance: Let’s hope that 2014 is an awesome year for us all. :)

I just watched Man of Steel (I know. I’m so late! lol). I was hesitant to check it out since I heard so many mixed things about the movie, but at last I made the move and just watched it. What do I think of it? Read on, loyal readers. Read on…




Plot: As the planet of Krypton crumbles, General Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a coup as concerned leader Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife send their infant son Kal-El to a distant world called Earth. While the young child travels through space with an object containing the DNA of his home planet, General Zod and his cohorts are sentenced to an eternity in a black-hole prison. Named Clark and raised by kindly farmers Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), young Kal-El lives in fear of what might happen should his neighbors learn about his extraterrestrial origins, eventually exploring the world in search of himself.

In time, Clark's travels take him to a frozen tundra, where the American government has discovered an 18,000-year-old anomaly buried deep in the ice. Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has come to investigate and has a profound encounter with Clark. Convinced that his presence on Earth is proof of life on other planets, Lois finds her attempt to publish the story thwarted by her boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), who rejects it outright. Later, the airwaves are hijacked by General Zod, who threatens to obliterate the human race if they fail to hand over Kal-El within 24 hours. Forced to embrace his otherworldly origins for the first time in his life, Clark Kent dons the special suit from Krypton and prepares to take a stand against an enemy far more powerful than any he's ever known. 
Source




Note: This review contains spoilers. Thou hath been warned. ^_^

Wow. There’s so much going on with this movie I don’t know where to begin. Well, let me start with something positive.

Russell Crowe does a fantastic job as Jor-El and is by far the best thing about the movie. His scenes are interesting and straightaway from the opening scene it’s clear that he’s passionate about saving his son from a dying world. Michael Shannon also – but to a lesser degree – does a good job as the conflicted General Zod, passionate about saving and protecting the people of Kyrpton, regardless of the cost.

There’s also an interesting take on the planet Krypton and its society/people. With an eclectic combination of science fiction and fantasy, Krypton came to life in a way I had never seen before. The world building was really well done and I appreciate that. I also liked the costumes in the film overall. The new Superman outfit is an interesting variation on the classic one and I didn’t find it terribly offensive. I also like how built/muscular Henry Cavill was. It helped drive home the fact that he is a super man and he fit the part well.




However, there are a lot of things wrong with this movie. To be honest, it was fascinating to watch this film because it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes a good movie, and beyond that, what makes a good Superman movie.

First, the entire movie is completely devoid of emotion, urgency and relevance. Why are these people doing what they’re doing? Who are they? Why do we care? The movie doesn’t explain any of it. Are we just supposed to care about these characters because they’re on the screen? That’s not how storytelling works. A movie is supposed to take us on a journey, to introduce us to characters and show us why we should care, to show us why this is a story that needed to be told – and this film fails to do any of that.

It also suffers from what I call “Green Screen Phantom Menace Syndrome” – which basically means that there is so much done in post processing for the film (CGI effects, backgrounds, etc) that during actual filming the actors have nothing to work with and as such produce wooden, empty performances. It’s not as bad here as in movies like Green Lantern or The Phantom Menace itself, but it’s tangible and present.

Second, the movie has a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters they’re portraying. I love Pa Kent as a character because he’s one of the few smart, strong good men left in popular media. Think about it: there are tons of examples of smart, bad men in media. There’s Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Hank Moody, Jordan Belfort – just to name a few. Even Dexter (who’s adorable in his own way) kills people simply for the pleasure of killing them. Good fathers are also an endangered species. Fathers as a whole in popular media are usually represented as idiots or comedy relief (Homer Simpson, Tim Taylor, Al Bundy, Peter Griffin, etc). Pa Kent goes against all of that and was excellently portrayed in the TV series Smallville. So, to take one of the best examples of a good father and replace him with a scared, pessimistic man who literally tells Clark that he should have let his classmates die (to protect his secret identity) goes against the basic concept of who that character is.

Also, Clark developed a deep sense of morality because of his parents and the way he was raised. He was taught to do what is right and pursue what is good even though you don’t feel like it sometimes – strong, difficult lessons that developed him into the man he is. Where is that in the movie? Apparently Clark helps people… because he feels like helping them? I’m not sure. The movie never addresses it. If the movie had given us some type of background, some grounding, some reason – that Clark has this overwhelming desire to help people – that would have made Clark (and in turn, Superman) more real and interesting as a character. 




This leads directly to the climax of the movie where (spoiler!) Clark kills Zod to stop him from killing an innocent family. Wait, what?! What am I watching right now? Superman doesn’t kill people. Punisher kills people. Blade kills people. But superheroes – Spiderman, Batman, Superman, etc. – don’t kill people. Yet Superman just snapped this dude’s neck like a twig. It made me feel dirty.  Ugh…

If the movie was about the responsibilities/consequences of free will, or a discussion on what it would take for a good man to be so desperate that he would take the life of another, then something like this could be approached. As it is, however, it just feels unnecessary, tacked on and gross.

As a counterpoint, take this scene from I am Legend (spoiler!). Will Smith is the last man alive and the only friend he has is his beloved dog, a German shepherd named Samantha (Sam). A virus has killed 90% of humanity and changed the few remaining people into Darkseekers (mutant, predatory monsters). Will Smith is immune. His dog, Sam – is not (see where this is going?). Sam becomes infected and there’s a heart wrenching scene where Will Smith has to put the dog down. He has to kill his only friend. He basically strangles her until she stops breathing – but it’s all done out of frame (off camera). All you see is Will Smith’s face as he forces himself to do it – and the agony, sadness and loneliness that come as a result afterward. It’s a fantastic, powerful scene that I remember to this day.

Clark snapping Zod’s neck has no emotional buildup, no emotional release, it’s neither the culmination of events nor a watershed moment. It serves no purpose other than to shock the audience. It’s gross and I wish it wasn’t in the movie.




Next – and this is a critique I don’t often make – I don’t like the way this film is shot. Camera angles are awkwardly placed. Shots as a whole take too long to transition. It’s as if each shot is so precious that they don’t want to trim it. This movie could have used some serious editing. It’s like “Here’s a shot…aaaand we’re done. Here’s another shot……aaaaand we’re done.” Oh my gosh. It doesn’t feel snappy or well edited at all. So many shots felt heavy handed and forced (instead of organic and natural) that it kept pulling me out of the movie.

Another thing that really annoyed me was the complete lack of humor in this movie. When did Superman become so serious? To my remembrance there was only one lighthearted moment in the entire movie. Two hours and ten minutes into the film a female soldier, when asked why she was smiling so much, simply stated (speaking of Superman), “I think he’s kinda hot.” Cute, but you say this over two hours into the movie? Now you start doing comedy? *sigh* Moving on…

Lastly, the second half of the movie is a train wreck stereotypical of Hollywood overindulgence. Is there any reason that Clark needs to be fighting Zod for forty freakin’ minutes? Are you kidding me?! I was like, “Wow, is this this fight scene still going? This is ridiculous.” The last half of the film is such a spectacle, it is so big, there’s so much going on – and I didn’t care about any of it – that it really got me thinking about what makes a good movie. What was the point in all of this? Am I supposed to feel excited? Am I supposed to feel threatened that Zod will win? The tone is so inconsistent and the messaging is so lost that there were literally explosions on the screen, lots of people screaming – clearly a lot of supposedly important things are happening – and I was completely uninterested. I could not care less. It was fascinating to watch in its own way though.  It showed once again that if the emotional connection to the characters is not there, nothing that happens to those characters – no matter how epic – will matter.




It’s been said that people fall into two categories: there are Batman people and Superman people. Now, truth be told, I like Batman way better than superman, but I respect Superman and I like what the character represents. After this film’s release I heard some people say that the failings of this movie prove yet again that it’s impossible to make a good Superman movie. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s possible to make a fantastic Superman movie – it would just have to be in the right hands and free from the Hollywood politics/nonsense that ruins so many films. (On a side note, I wonder why DC can produce so many great animated films (the direct to DVD animated movies are awesome!) but fail in the live action department so often. Hmm…) Regardless, I still believe that Hollywood can make a great Superman film. Man of Steel, however, is not that movie.

:star: Final Verdict: D+ :star:

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Well, what do you think? Have you seen the movie? Agree? Disagree? Comment below. Let me know! :)
That's all for now, y'all. Much love! Talk to you soon! :D

Mike Crichlow

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Chillin' for a while on Twitch. Come on over and join the fun (as I try to do my best not to suck >_<).

Click here: www.twitch.tv/zivzulander

See ya soon! :)

Mike
Hey, all. Gonna be chillin' on Twitch for a bit. Pass on by and say hi! :)

See ya there! www.twitch.tv/zivzulander

Mike
Hey, all. Gonna be chilling on Twitch for a bit after a long day of finals. Come on over and say hey! :)

Click here: www.twitch.tv/zivzulander :heart:

See ya there! :)

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Update: Finished! :) Thanks for coming by to hang out. So much fun! :D Catch ya next time. ^_^

Mike
Will be chillin' for about an hour. Pass on by and say hey. :)

Click here: www.twitch.tv/zivzulander

Cheers! :D
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UPDATE: Finished! Thanks, y'all. It's always a blast! :)
I'll be playing on here for a little while. Stop by and say hi! I'm still trying to figure this whole thing out. ^_^

See ya soon! Thanks! :D

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UPDATE: Stream is over! Thanks so much for those who came and hung out. It was a blast!! :D
Hey, y'all. Trying this Twitch stuff out. I know. >_< I'm later to the party. LOL :D Feel free to pass on by and say hello. I'll be chillin' here for a little while as I try and figure this thing out. :)

Let me know if stuff is wonky. >_< Thanks!

Check it out: www.twitch.tv/zivzulander

Update: That's all, folks. Catch ya next time. :)
...and I gotta say that I'm a bit surprised. The Xbox 360 controller was my 'go to' controller for the last generation - and I still use a wired 360 controller for my computer. But after holding the new controllers (which was so cool!!) I have some new things to consider.




The first thing that hit me was how comfortable the PS4 controller is. It's super comfortable, y'all. So comfortable. The analog sticks are wider set and the controller as a whole sits in my hands better. The weight is more balanced and the triggers are concave(finally!). Just feels good.

The Xbox One's controller was a mixed bag, though. The analog sticks (which are a bit smaller) feel really good. But those bumpers, y'all. Those. Freakin' Bumpers. I don't like them AT ALL. They take so much effort to push in (resistance is much higher) and the can't be pushed in at the top directly.It's as if you have to push the outer half of the bumper to push it in, as opposed to the 360 controller where you could push anywhere and it would work. I'm rather surprised by this seeing that I was expecting Microsoft to knock it out of the park again. If this keeps up, I may have to switch my controller of choice. ^_^

For now though - I'll stick with my handy-dandy wired 360 controller. That and I have no money to buy any other controllers. HA! Have yu tried any new controller out? What do you think? Let me know! Much love, y'all. Talk to you soon. :D :heart:

Mike
Seeing that I was in a particularly stressful mood (one that I’m still working through), I decided to look at a couple episodes of Princess Lover, one of my favorite animes from 2009 to help me relax. Though I didn’t plan to, I ended up marathoning the entire 12 episode run. My conclusion? Princess Lover is not as good as I remember…




Now, don’t get me wrong. The first six episodes are still awesome and really fun to watch. Seeing the various girls come to terms with their feelings and pursue a relationship with the protagonist in this harem show is still a lot of fun. Fanservice and cute girls everywhere FTW.  However, at episode seven – this show narratively drops off a cliff and become really bad. Like, ‘barely watchable’ bad. I don’t remember this happening - at all. This fun/cute show becomes a poorly-written action thriller – with stuff happening all over the place for no rhyme or reason. A swat team shows up and takes over the main building. All of the maids are now super-fast hackers. Seika Hojoin (one of the four main girls of the show) is now a manager for an idol group. Wait…what? WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHAT IS GOING OOOOONNNNNNNNNNNN!!! :lol:

The thing is – I don’t remember any of this. My memories of the show were just those first six episodes. This whole situation really made me think about how we consume media and reminded me that where we are in our lives when we see something is of vital importance.

Maybe I just never finished the show (though I’m sure I did). Perhaps the abundance of scantily clad girls made me forgive an otherwise sub-par show (it wouldn’t be the first time that happened). I guess I’m just concerned that my views of things may be tainted by where I was in my life when I saw it – not solely of the quality of the art itself. Hmm…

But then again, isn’t the whole point of art to connect with people? To share something? To create a connection? Perhaps the show did exactly what it had to do in 2009 (seeing that I’m still talking about it now :) ), but in 2013 – it’s not for me any more… and that sucks. *sigh* Growing up is hard, y’all. >_<




The same thing can be said for Infinite Stratos – Season 2. I loved the first season of Infinite Stratus and eagerly looked forward to the second season. But this season – forgive me if you don’t agree – kinda sucks. It seems to be SO focused on fanservice that the relationships that make all the fanservice interesting has been thrown out the window. It was really cool in season one to see Ichika (the main guy in the show) struggle with the various girls around him and watch as they slowly developed feelings for him. I thought that was really cool. If a girl showed up that was like ‘I hate you! Get away from me.’ I was like ‘Ha! Yeah, right. You’ll be running after him soon enough.’ And within two episodes she’d be all over him. :D  It was absurd and silly, but really fun to watch. This season, all of the girls are there already so it’s not developing as a harem show, meanwhile the plot is so threadbare that I’m still trying to figure out what the crap is going on. It may just be me, but I don’t remember the show being this superficial.

I don’t want to end on a downer so I’ll share my three favorite shows from this season. Kill la Kill is the best show of the season by far- the animation quality is absolutely superb and DAT EPISODE THREE still gives me goose bumps. So many feels with that show. So many feels… LOVE IT! :D

Second on the list is Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio. I started watching this one later in the season (I think episode four was out when I decided to check out episode one) and it quickly rose to be one of my favorites. Really cool CGI that oftentimes passes for hand-drawn animation and a plot that is always clear and interesting (that alone gives it tons of brownie points).

Third is Nagi no Asukara. It’s a really emotional show that reminds me a lot of Anohana (though the kids are younger in Asukara).  While a good show overall, the tone sometimes is uneven and often plunges into ‘hyper-emotional-anime-melodrama’ that is never explained. At worst, the characters seem histrionic. Overall, I like it, though – and I’m looking forward to seeing how the love-pentagon (?) - I dunno, there are so many unrequited relationships I lost count – will work out.




I know I said three but I need to do one more! ^_^ The last show I’ll recommend is Kyoukai no Kanata. Now, I’m watching this show with the full knowledge that sometimes it’s literally terrible – but I don’t mind. It’s a fun show, though the tone and pacing are super-uneven. The show is eager to do so many things – it’s serious, comedic, has a glass-fetish thing happening, it’s a thriller/action show, a bit of romance thrown in (so many things!) - that oftentimes the story feels less a thought-out narrative and more a collection of ideas thrown together. That said, I like the two main characters and I think the girl in red glasses is super-cute. :aww:

*whew* I feel a lot better now. Perhaps I just had to get that out of my system. Sometimes, you just need to write, ya know? ^_^ Anyway, hope you’re doing well and feel free to share what you’re watching! (It doesn’t have to be anime. Just looking to see what people are interested in. :bounce: )
Much love, y’all. Take care and talk to you soon.  :D

Mike
Good grief. Sweet merciful crap. Just WOW!

Just watched episode 3... twice. It was totally AMAZE-BALLS!! DAT IMPLOSION SCENE. :lol: If you're into anime, do yourself a favor and watch this show. Watch it. Watch it right now. NNGHHH! That is all. :D

Much love, y'all. Talk to you soon. ^_^ :heart:

Mike