Ghostbusters 2016 and the Age of Reboots

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Rexis here!

Ninja Turtles. Beauty and the Beast. The Jungle Book. Independence Day. Tarzan. Pete’s Dragon. Ben-Hur. Dredd. Total Recall. Robo Cop. Terminator. Planet of the Apes. Jurassic Park. Ghostbusters.

What is going on? Why am I listing classic beloved movies and franchises? Because all of these have been rebooted, sequeled, or copied to some degree (or will be soon). And we find it most prominently in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, I love episode 7 to an almost worrying degree, but even I notice the similarities between it and A New Hope. I’m not blind. Terminator Genisys was guilty of the same thing, going so far as practically lift the intro from the first movie and paste it in the beginning. Now, the Ghostbusters preview shows Slimer and the Stay Puft marshmallow man.

  But Why? Why all the throwbacks to the originals?

I started thinking about this when I saw the Ghostbusters trailer for the first time. You see, I have two kids and we LOVE movies. I have a catalog of awesome films I want to watch with them someday and its constantly growing. And it includes the original Ghostbusters as well. The problem is that the list is, like, crazy long. It is literally a list of all the movies I’ve grown up with and loved my entire life. Literally, a lifetime of movies. The same applies to some of my younger coworkers who have never seen a lot of my favorites. When someone tells me they haven’t seen Back to the Future, a lightning bolt strikes a clock tower somewhere.

How can I reasonably expect them to watch all of the movies I consider great?

Casablanca. Sunset Boulevard. Psycho. Gone with the Wind. Citizen Kane. Singin’ in the Rain. Vertigo. Some Like it Hot. 

Do you know what those movies have in common? A couple things: they are considered must watch classics and I’ve never seen any of them. And I don’t plan to. There are several reasons I lean toward movies released during my lifetime. I’ve talked about it before, but let’s discuss nostalgia once more.

You see, our brain has this funny way of remembering the good things and letting go of the bad things. Its why we love Star Wars: A New Hope even though the acting was subpar, the special effects are dated, and the entire story is a copy/paste of the hero’s journey. Its even obvious that George Lucas had no idea where to take the franchise in the following movies. We are able to look past that because of our nostalgic love for the movie (also space samurai and magic), myself included (This is an example. Put your pitchforks down.) The same applies to the original Ninja Turtles movie, and there’s probably no bigger Ninja Turtle fan that I used to be. Watching that movie now is… painful. But nostalgia keeps a special place for it in my heart.

The point is that these older movies aren’t going to have the same impact on the current generation, similar to how Casablanca or Sunset Boulevard would have no impact on me due to a general disinterest. We don’t spend a lot of time looking at death photos from the 1800’s (most of us anyway) because the times have changed and its not a thing we relate to quite as easily as we once did. That’s how art works. Seriously, if you are going to demand the younger generation to sit down and watch the original Ghostbusters movie because they need to be more cultured, please tell me the last time you put on music from Billie Holiday (not the Fallout soundtrack, you nerd). Jokes that used to work just don’t anymore. Film theory and story telling have evolved. Things have changed, as scary as that is for a lot of people, and you have to accept it or you’ll live in this little bubble consisting of only things from your nostalgic past.

Do you understand now why we have these reboots/remakes/sequels from some of our favorite franchises? The entertainment industry understands this, and you aren’t dumber than an entertainment exec are you? Are you?!

This is why they blew up a bigger Death Star in episode 7. Its why the ID4 aliens are coming back. Its the reason we are seeing how Earth became a planet of apes. These were great stories and retelling them for a new audience makes sense in two ways: It introduces these worlds we hold so dear to the younger generation by keeping the material fresh and current -AND- it makes money! It makes so much money! Money! Money! Money! If you want to know why nothing original comes to theatres these days, its because of money! You don’t think episode 7 fired up the sales of the first 6? Of course it did! And there’s nothing wrong with that! If you’ve ever thought “I’m not going to see this because its obviously a reboot cash grab,” then you know nothing about economics, generation gaps, or how art works. And yes, it is a cash grab. They don’t make movies out of the kindness of their hearts.

Things will never be what you think they should be ever again because what you think they should be are based solely on your past experiences and nostalgia. And you know what? If that’s how you feel, no one cares what you think anyway. The future belongs to those who want to participate in it, not criticize it for being too different from the past they love so much.

So let’s talk about this whole Ghostbusters thing. There are a few different camps people fall into when it comes to their refusal to see the movie. The Angry Video Game Nerd recently came out with a video saying that he wouldn’t be seeing it or reviewing it, primarily because he thought it would never live up to the original which he holds in such high regard. This is just… ignorant. And I love the AVGN, so its hard for me to say that. But to discredit a movie because you don’t THINK it’ll be what you want is ignorant. Of course, he isn’t really known for reviewing movies, especially new ones in theatre…. So… Why did he even come out with this if not for YouTube views? Hmm…

Another camp you could fall into, and I believe AVGN mentioned this as well, is refusing to see it because the trailer wasn’t funny. I can understand this. Don’t give the studio your money if you generally aren’t interested, but once you’ve made that choice, how about just moving on with your life instead of blasting it all over social media. I can judge whether or not something is funny to me. I don’t need your help. Oh, by the way, trying to make a statement about reboots by not seeing Ghostbusters isn’t going to stop the industry from making more reboots. Did you see what I said before? Reboots make money, even if it isn’t yours this one time.

You could be one of those idiots who won’t see it because the cast is all female. You’re stupid. Or maybe you just don’t like that the cast isn’t the same as the original. Hate to break it to you, but that’s true for a lot of reboots. Get over it.

I haven’t seen many complaints beyond this. I’m not in any of these camps and I will absolutely be seeing this. I found the jokes in all the trailers to be hit and miss, but I’ll give it a fair chance in theatres. And I won’t be watching it to compare it the original. I’ll be seeing it because I LOVE movies. I love the art form. I love the experience. I even love seeing beloved characters and franchises from different perspectives, and that’s what I’ll be getting here. Hey, I even love bad movies because of how bad they are.

So if you still have reservations, that’s fine. You do you. I can promise you this though; you will find a review for the movie right here on Ability Points within a few days of it opening. So if you want a legit, unbiased review before you check it out, check back or follow me here or on Twitter @RexisGamer.

Disney’s Greatest Villain

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Rexis here!

I love Disney movies! I have a hard time finding fault with any of them and I know this doesn’t resonate with a lot of people. A more recent disappointment in terms of box office sales was The Good Dinosaur and it was unfounded in my opinion. I thought the movie was really good and had a great villain; that scary vulture thing that follows the storm. Very cool. Not to mention the artistic style the movie was filmed in. This isn’t about the merits of The Good Dinosaur, however. This is about a villain that absolutely struck fear into me when I saw him.

For many years, I was dead set on the fact (yes FACT!) that Scar from The Lion King was the greatest Disney villain. He’s evil, manipulative, and straight up killed someone. Not many Disney villains have accomplished this. After he tells Simba to “run away and never return,” he commands the hyenas, very bluntly, to “Kill him.” He has no emotion and is absolutely power hungry. I love him.

But he’s been replaced at the top of my list of villains.

Without further hesitation, I give you Disney’s greatest villain:

Shere Kahn

This is Shere Kahn from Disney’s The Jungle Book.

I am not exaggerating when I say that he literally gave me goose bumps in the theatre and still does when I think about certain scenes. I won’t spoil the movie too much (considering this is a remake, there really aren’t spoilers for a book from 1894 and a movie originally from 1967), but I will be talking about what drives this character, his history, and what makes him great. If you don’t want to hear it, or you’re scared of spoilers, this would be the time to go.

I found an interesting article here where Chris Culver, a real-life bestselling author expounds on what makes a good villain, and I think his list does a great job of summarizing what I see in Shere Kahn. So let’s use that as a template, shall we?

1   Good villains are exceptional persons.

From the moment we meet Shere Kahn, he stands out. The other animals remain completely silent and even fearful in his presence. He is agile, yet heavy. Intelligent, yet menacing. He follows the laws of the land and even refuses to kill Mowgli near the watering hole as that would break one of those most important laws. He values justice but is not above murder. Calculating. Cold. Absolutely exceptional. Instead of wondering what he can do, you are left wondering if there’s anything he can’t do.

2  Good villains are fathomable.

Culver explains that we should understand the villains goals and that they should be rooted in his psychology. We all know Shere Kahn wants Mowgli dead, but why? Because he has a deep disdain for man. SPOILER: His backstory involves him attacking a traveling man and his baby son. The man burns Shere Kahn with fire and scars his face, which saves the baby. The man is not so fortunate. That baby grows up to be Mowgli. Shere Kahn knows what fire can do. He knows that only man can wield it. And he knows who Mowgli is. This is as much about revenge as it is about preventing a potential forest fire.

3  Good villains get screen time.

The movie has other villains including Louie the ape and Kaa the anaconda (#TeamBlackWidow). Screen time has to be shared, but every appearance of Shere Kahn is a breath-holding nightmare, especially when he gets ahold of that wolf cub. If you know the scene I’m talking about, you’ll understand how “edge of the seat” that whole ordeal was. While screen time doesn’t make the villain great, it gives you the chance to get to know them, and boy do we get to know him.

4  Good villains are multi-faceted.

I think this is the most important distinction. As I said before, Shere Kahn is very much about law and justice. Its what drives him to revenge against the boy who’s father took a torch to his maw. Its also what drives him to force man out of the jungle. Man is dangerous and he knows it. By keeping a man cub, he knows the wolves are flirting with disaster and that it won’t just affect them; it will affect everyone.  This is utilitarianism at its best. If he kills the man cub, everyone benefits.

5 ?

There is one aspect that Culver hints at, but doesn’t say outright. He comes close by saying that a villain needs to be fathomable, or possible within the world they live in, but there is a more important aspect to this whole thing. If I added a number 5 to the list it would simply say “Relatable.” We see a lot of villains with convoluted back stories, things we can’t relate to, but Shere Kahn’s desires are so visceral, so familiar to us that we can relate to him immediately. We don’t know what its like to nearly be a king, like Scar. We can’t imagine why we would need to collect poor unfortunate souls, like Ursula. We have no idea what it would be like to live forever, like Mother Gothel. But we can all relate to vengeance and to justice. That’s what makes him a great villain above all else. He represents the very animal within us, the beast that cries out against injustice while simultaneously questioning how far we are willing to go to prevent it.

Abandoning the Console Market

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All of you are fired!

 

Rexis here!

My time away from the blog has done me a lot of good. I needed to take a break and reevaluate some things. One of those things was how I’ve been spending my gaming time. The answer is short: on PC.

I’ve been a console gamer pretty much my entire live. I even bought an Xbox One late last year and I still love playing on it. Things have begun to stagnate a bit though. My list of active games had become very short, consisting of only Minecraft and Final Fantasy XI (both on PC). And now, FFXI is off the list. Yes, I was down to playing just one game. That’s what stagnation is.

Check out my game room here and you’ll see a LOT of thing I just don’t play with anymore. Its a sad state of affairs that it now collects dust and goes unappreciated. I’ve felt like I’ve been moving away from my collection mentality a bit, beginning with sale of a few Game Boys last year. I don’t regret it like I had before when I sold game stuff. I even stopped looking for retro video game deals. No garage sales, flea markets, or second hand stores for me anymore.

Moving away from this got me thinking about just abandoning gaming in general. And since I’ve been playing just the one game, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before I parted with the entire collection and moved on. I had no excitement or anticipation about upcoming titles. Not even Zelda Wii-U gets me moving anymore. But… I’m a gamer. The thought of leaving video games behind actually scares me. I knew I couldn’t do that, but I could make a change none-the-less. Amid rumors of the Nintendo NX and the Playstation 4.5, I decided to leave behind the consoles and handhelds and to move to strictly PC. That’s right loyal readers and random passerbys, I am never buying another console.

With that in mind, I had my eye open for a solid PC. You see, the laptop I play on has a cracked screen, so I play it on a small monitor. Its not mobile at all anymore. Add to that the consistent over heating issues and its inability to run games at max settings, and I’d safely say I was in the market for a replacement.

So I parted with my Sega Genesis, Nomad, and Game Gear collections which gave me a little down payment of sorts, and strolled into Best Buy to browse about. Now the computer I want runs about 2,000 of those fancy American dollars. I can’t afford that despite the incredibly lucrative success of this blog /sarcasm. I wouldn’t normally shop at Best Buy, by the way. I just happen to have a credit card there from a purchase I made a while back.

I didn’t find much at first that matched my budget, and there were way too many laptops. I wanted something I could upgrade over the years and keep building upon. Laptops and tablets were simply not options. So, I gave up and wandered over to the video game section as  I’m fond of doing. There, on an end cap, sat this:

MyPC

You can find all the specs here.

I knew immediately that this wasn’t a high-end gaming PC. I’m not an idiot. But the price was right and it met my most basic requirements: upgradeable and more functional than my laptop. So I did my research. I Googled it (great reviews). I talked to a friend who is like an expert at this stuff. (Shout out to NinjaZonza!) Ultimately, I could have saved up some money and waited a bit to get a much better PC, but hey, I’m playing Minecraft, not Fallout 4. So I decided to buy it. It was $100 dollars off, so it only cost me $480.

After some trivial driving about to pick it up from a store that actually had one in stock, I got it home and opened it up to reveal the massive tower. This thing is huge, no kidding. It didn’t fit under my desk or anywhere in or on my entertainment center. I had to tuck it behind my TV a bit, but I still get a good view of the LED lights coming out the side! So awesome! (I’ve always wanted a PC with lights in it!)

It didn’t come with a monitor, but this was a good opportunity to use the 46-inch TV in my game room for something other than the occasional Xbox session. I also found that it has no Wi-Fi, which isn’t a problem for me because I prefer the wired connection.

To sum up my experience with it so far: I love it. My active gaming now includes Minecraft, Skyrim, Portal, and Alien Isolation (and I’ve got a building backlog). It runs beautifully and at max settings on some titles. I have 1TB of storage internally and 3TB external. I also have a wireless mouse and keyboard to use from the futon and an extension for my headset for TeamSpeak on Minecraft. Compared to my laptop, this thing is a beast and I’m really happy I picked it up.

I see a bright future in PC gaming for me as the years go on and I upgrade it.

Movie Review: Civil War – Underoos!

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This is a badly photoshopped image. Why is Black Panther 50 feet tall? Who’s in those suits in the back? Is that a crashed tie-fighter? I just had to use this.

 

Rexis here!

And spoilers. There’s spoilers here.

I haven’t written anything in almost two months and it feels good to be behind a keyboard to do something other than work and play video games. I’ve been itching to put words on paper (paper means electronic screen in 2016), but my schedule has been crazy. During my absence, I’ve done quite a few things, but I mostly wanted to talk about Captain America: Civil War and how absolutely amazing it was!

Seriously, I cannot gush about this movie enough! And for the love of all things sacred, Iron Man calls Spider-Man “Underoos” in reference to the underwear, which Wikipedia can sum up for you here:

“Underoos were developed as a product idea in 1977 by an independent entrepreneur, Larry Weiss, who obtained licenses for the four major comic character groups (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Hanna-Barbera, Archie Comics) which included Superman, Batman, Shazam, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Spider-Man, and Captain America.

NBD. Just dropping yet another culture bomb on you. I’ve seen so many people asking what Iron Man says that I had to answer the question in my blog. Sigh.

Anyways, this movie was absolutely everything I’ve come to expect from the MCU. I had no doubt I was going to enjoy every minute. I will admit I was skeptical about Spider-Man, but in my opinion, he stole the movie. The few scenes he was in were incredible. Just watching Peter Parker go toe-to-toe with some of the Avengers biggest names was like a dream. His banter with Tony Stark, how we DON’T see Uncle Ben get murdered, the way he rekt Falcon, Captain America, and the Winter Soldier…. Wow. Just wow. Tom Holland, you da man.

The movie wasn’t without its flaws, however. I didn’t read the comic because I don’t read comics, but I know one of the main criticisms was that the movie doesn’t follow the comic storyline. I don’t care. I just don’t. I was actually hoping to see a lot more plot involving the accords, but in the end we got a revenge story of sorts. And I’m fine with that! It managed to set up a sort of rift between the different groups that will carry over into coming movies. This “civil war” doesn’t simply end when the movie does, as it shouldn’t, because super hero registration is a big deal and can’t be resolved in a couple of hours. Still, I would have enjoyed more info in that regard.

I’ve also seen a lot of complaints about Baron Zemo, the main villain, in case you missed that somehow. He was an interesting character, in my opinion, and a well written villain. He suffered from the acts of the Avengers and sought revenge in an incredibly devious way. He attempted to tear them down from within. His plan was extremely convoluted and required a fair bit of luck to pull off, but isn’t that to be expected? This is a movie based on comic books, after all. He was definitely displaced, though. The original Zemo was a Nazi, but aren’t we tired of watching Captain America kick the crap out of Nazis? I take that back. Its always fun watching Nazis get beat. Tarentino made a whole movie about it. But it gets repetitive if that’s the only thing Cap does. New Zemo struck me as a little more human. I liked that.

As for everything else: the action was on point, the acting was superb, the plot was good-not great, the story telling was above average, and overall – this is how it’s done, Zack Snyder. Side note: Please stop making movies, you hack. You’re ruining everything.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you’ve already seen the movie. What did you think? Did you like Spider-Man? Wasn’t Black Panther just awesome? Because I loved every bit of it and cannot wait for this to hit Blu-ray. I feel like I say that about every Marvel movie these days…