Nerds are Cool

nerds

Rexis here!

I’ve been absent for awhile. You may or may not have noticed. Sorry about that. Its not that I haven’t had time to write, I just don’t have anything to say lately. At least, nothing that hasn’t already been said. I’ve been spending time watching new TV shows and playing video games of course. In short, the Marvel shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage were amazing and I can’t wait for Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Punisher. As for gaming, my time is divided by my three current favorites: Grand Theft Auto Online, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, and of course Minecraft.

See? I have nothing to say about these things except that they are all awesome. As is everything on the horizon. Dr. Strange, Rogue One, Logan, The Walking Dead, Fantastic Beasts and Game of Thrones are all coming soon. What an age we live in! There is so much to see and do in the world of entertainment, its hard to keep up with it all. I refuse to even watch the DC shows. I don’t have the time. I think we’ve hit a peak in regards to the nerd culture that permeates our society now. Its become almost… overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong. Its great that we have this mass acceptance of what was once fringe culture. Gone are the days of the stereotypical basement dwelling nerd with his mint comic book collection. No longer do gamers hide their favorite pastimes. I even have a friend on Facebook asking about the pros/cons of LARP’ing in a graveyard with no fear of retribution. I can’t imagine how this would have gone ten or twelve years ago in my high school. Just kidding. I totally can because I lived it. As a gamer and player of CCG’s, I know exactly the kind of taunting and bullying that comes with the territory.

So what happened? How did we get from there to where we are now? How did the zeitgeist change so drastically? I’d wager it has something to do with the internet and social media, but what do I know? I’m just some anonymous blogger on the internet that can barely find the motivation to write.

What I do know is that we live in an era where fantasy worlds and fantastic beasts reign supreme.

And that is cool.

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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.

Batman v. Superman – Who will win?

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Rexis here!

Hello super friends!

 Later this week we are finally going to see the big budget production of the fight to end all fights. Two of the biggest juggernauts of comics are going head to head in a brutal bout that will decisively answer the question “Who would win in a fight; Batman or Superman?” So many endless debates will be put to rest. A million fan boy voices from one side or the other will cry out and be suddenly silenced as the credits roll.
Or will they?

The idea of these two fighting is nothing new. And while I don’t have a tally on hand because it isn’t pertinent to this post, I can assure you that the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel have seen their share of relationship troubles. This is nothing new between the pair. What’s interesting about this round of drama is that it will occur on the big screen in front of millions who may have never read a comic before. The stakes are high.

The movie is subtitled “Dawn of Justice” which represents both heroes attempting to exact justice on one another. Batman is trying to stop a god-like figure who he believes was responsible for the annihilation of metropolis; a man who could literally do whatever he wants. Superman, on the other hand, sees Batman as a vigilante law breaker deserving of prosecution. They both have valid points which makes it easier to side with one or the other.

Regardless of their motives, there is something more important going on here. The Dark Knight stands as a testament to the best the human race has to offer when facing absolutely insurmountable odds. The Last Son of Krypton is a figure we can aspire to, a representation of hope that is alien to us. The winner of this battle comes with a price. We either lose our humanity or our hope. If Batman crumbles, it would be a metaphor for humans meeting their end at the hands of something we cannot control. If Supes falls, it would be a metaphor that hope has no chance in this world.

I feel I can safely predict the outcome of this battle. There will be no clearly defined winner. That may seem obvious given the trailer, but I feel too many people are going to walk into the theatre expecting something different. Fox isn’t going to green light a movie that would kill off hope or humanity. Likewise, they aren’t going to alienate half the DC audience by choosing one character over the other. It just doesn’t make sense emotionally or financially.

The real story in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, in my opinion anyway, is going to be the origin of Lex Luthor. This is a man with no sense of right and wrong, for whom the ends always justify the means. He is a billionaire, an entrepreneur, a business mogul, and he will stop at nothing in his conquest for power. Luthor is not content with simply controlling the free world (he becomes president at one point). He wants to be a god. His jealousy of what Superman can do is what drives him to reason that if a man can defeat a god, then he is more powerful than god. His arrogance and greed are the very things that will unite Batman, Superman, and their audience (and Wonder Woman).

This is not a battle between humanity and hope. This is a fight against everything that is wrong with our society embodied in Lex Luthor.

As with most comic book movies, a lot of people are going to be disappointed by what they see (my wife already hates this version of Batman). I prefer to stay open minded and I am looking forward to seeing yet another representation of one of my favorite villains. Jessie Eisenberg is an interesting choice, but I have a feeling Michael Rosenbaum will still be my favorite Lex. I’m also mentally preparing myself for a huge cliffhanger ending after a long round of heroes barely hurting one another. Still, I’m going to enjoy every minute of this movie! I just hope the rest of the world can put aside their preconceptions and try to enjoy it as much as I will. Try to forget about who would actually win because you won’t be getting that answer. I feel like you’ll be getting something so much more meaningful.

Movie Review: Deadpool (Spoiler Free!)

Deadpool

Rexis here!

Deadpool! Amirite?

You’ve probably heard that Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Iron Man or that you can’t imagine anyone other than Hugh Jackman (Huge Ackman? WTH is an Ackman?) as Wolverine. Well, I propose to you that Ryan Reynolds was meant to be Deadpool! Of course, my idea of what the Merc-With-The-Mouth should be is limited to the little information I know about him (or knew about him). As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no comic reader, but I know a thing or two. And what I know about Deadpool is that he is sarcastic, vulgar, and constantly breaks the fourth wall. Reynolds shines in this position. Its like he has free-reign to do what he does best. Having been a fan of his for a long time (Van Wilder, Waiting, Just Friends), I loved seeing him in this role!

The movie was fantastic! (Not like Fantastic 4.) I didn’t know what to expect going into the theatre and, honestly, I was prepared for disappointment. I walked out pleasantly surprised and very interested in a hero I didn’t know much about before. The story was great and, even though he is abrasive and an anti-hero, I found myself rooting for Deadpool. I wanted to see this guy win! And I’m not the only one, apparently. This movie is on fire!

Honestly, I’m having a hard time thinking of anything negative to say here. Everything about this movie, from the opening credits to the stinger, was awesome! The acting, the jokes, the presentation, the fourth-wall breaking, the violence and vulgarity, it was all perfect. Oh, and by the way, taking your kids to this movie is a bad idea. Don’t be THAT person. And if you are that person you might want to rethink your values. I grew up watching R rated movies, but you know what I didn’t see in those movies? Pegging. I’m not going into details, but leave the kids out of this one. For crying out loud! Why do we force kids to grow up so fast these days? /rant off

This movies was released at an interesting time with huge productions scheduled all around it. We’re only just getting over Avegners: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Next in the Lineup we’re going to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse. (So many subtitles.) This reminds me of a time some readers may be too young to remember, and its the reason I think Deadpool is so popular.

Let’s travel back to the mid to late nineties, when music was still good, and take a look at a couple of bands who went mainstream. Blink-182 and The Beastie Boys. I’m no fan of the latter. These bands came onto the scene when music was serious and depressing. People had grown tired of it and latched onto bands who made light hearted fun music, often as parody. Pop-punk was born. Music history is fun.

My point is this: Deadpool has come onto the scene when super-hero movies have grown too serious. Everything is about the end of the world these days. Did you see Doomsday and Apocalypse in those trailers? Those guys are not messing around. This is some serious life or death stuff going on. Fox’s brilliant release timing has given us a respite from the bombardment of heroes we are bound to grow tired of and they’ve kept things fresh by bringing in a hero who can say exactly what we are all thinking, and does he ever!

This is a movie you should absolutely see! Not only does it stand on its own as a solid, action-packed, hilariously entertaining movie, but it also stands as a reflection of the age we’re living in, the age of hero movies. Its a criticism, a parody, and a satirical look at some of the biggest pop-culture icons of the day. I fully believe this is why Deadpool works!

Movie Review – Pixels

Pixels

Rexis here!

I’m back from vacation and wanted to kick off the return with a review of a movie that’s been getting a lot of crap from the critics. As the title says, I’m taking about Pixels, which is based off a short film by Patrick Jean, which you can watch here. You’re welcome.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room immediately and say that if you don’t like Happy Madison Productions or Adam Sandler, this movie isn’t for you. Seriously! I’ve seen a number of negative comments just because this movie stars him. Your review is biased and you should feel bad. I, personally, enjoy many of his movies but I’m not about to sing praises for it just because I like his other work. So let’s get on with it shall we? (Spoiler free.)

The film itself had an interesting premise, albeit unrealistic in every conceivable way. Therein lies the fun! When aliens challenge Earth to an actual arcade influenced battle, a few nerds from the 80’s step up to save the planet. This is a fantasy we can all relate to. Wouldn’t you love to be the slayer of Alduin in the real world because you are the only one who can use the Thu’um?

This movie is obviously meant to be fun, not taken seriously, and I had a great time watching it! Some of the jokes fall flat while others hit the funny bone a little harder, typical for Adam Sandler films. The story is told in segments. We go back and forth from character development to arcade-war scenes. A lot of alien invasion films build up to a one hour long final battle, but this movie breaks up the action in order to tell the story of the characters. Are they likable characters? For the most part, yes.

Acting is on par from what you would expect from the Happy Madison crew. (Paul Blart is in it, so you know what you’re getting.) It does seem like Sandler has grown tired of making movies and his performance suffers from it (unlike his bank account, badum tss). There are a few triumphant moments where you could see the youth in him, but overall I think he could have done better. Kevin James is the usual aloof fool. Peter Dinklage was amazing, as usual from Tyrion Freaking Lannister! Michelle Monaghan did a good job as well, but I mostly didn’t like her character. I personally feel like Josh Gad stole the show, though. His character was hilarious and over the top.

Should you see it? If you love classic arcade titles, yes. If you want to see Q*bert on the big screen, yes. If you ever wished you could live in a video game world, absolutely yes! (If you don’t like Sandler, no. In that case, stay away from this.) This isn’t the best movie out there, I won’t pretend it is, but it is a good video game inspired movie and we get so few of those. (Isn’t Agent 47 failing right now?) Let your judgemental nature go, put down the controller, get to the movies, and have a fun little adventure. (If its still in a theatre near you.) For 8 bucks, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. As a game collector, the Blu-ray will occupy a spot on my shelf beside The Wizard and War Games.