How do you deal with an aging game during its low periods?
How do you deal with an aging game during its low periods?
Sar Crux is no more, either as a twitter handle or a domain name…
Yes the domain, sarcrux.com will still point here, but that will eventually expire, so try to update your bookmarks before that! 🙂
Why the reason for the change?
Don’t worry, I’m still around 🙂
Been taking a break from WoW due to burn out, and been enjoying the time off away from the game over Xmas & New Year, especially as I got a PS4 from Mrs Sar for Chrimbo 😀
I’ve got a pretty hard case of burnout from grinding AP for 3 months straight, so time away is doing me good, especially ahead of Nighthold releasing in 12 days.
Been playing quite a lot of Overwatch too, and enjoying getting into it again. D.Va is my girl, and she can do no wrong! 🙂
Expect more regular updates and posts soon too, as I’ve been taking a bit of a writing break over December, mainly due to the amount of assignments and coursework I had to do throughout Nov/Dec for my degree course, but the biggest cock-block has been my work firewall blocking this site because they say it’s “game-related”. And guess where I at least draft write a lot of my posts?
Anyhow, hope you have all had a great Xmas & New Year, and had a great time with your loved ones 🙂
Really, properly, angry.
A white-hot, incandescent, rage-fuelled, burning, seething, roiling, pure, barely restrained anger.
That’s how I’ve felt since the result of the EU Referendum was announced in the early hours of Friday morning, when the UK had, incomprehensibly, voted by a slim margin to leave the EU.
My last post about this before the referendum was largely an on the fence one, but as you have probably guessed I went with my head rather than my heart, and made the sensible, logical choice to remain a member of the EU.
It seems however, that slightly too many people within the UK, particularly in Little England, actually fell for the jingoistic, xenophobic, misplaced patriotism espoused by the Leave campaign in the run up to the vote. Now of course begins Project Backpeddle, as the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Daniel Hannan start telling us that in reality:
Not exactly our typical sort of programming, but then again there’s a reason why I renamed from Sargaming.net to SarCrux.com 😉
So the EU Referendum in the UK is merely days away, and as someone who is pretty firmly-ish on the fence I’ve been doing my best over the past few weeks to make my mind up on the issue.
I am leaning towards a Remain vote at this moment in time, but I do have some serious misgivings both ways.
A handful of days before the ~EURef, and I'm still undecided on Leave or Stay.
Leaning 70/30 one way (Stay) atm, but still not 100%
— Sar (@Sarcrux) June 20, 2016
I had a good discussion with @BenTinyShaw on Twitter today about the pros and cons. He’s pro-leave, but not given to the usual histrionics and nay-saying that seems to mar both sides of the campaign lately.
The leave campaign largely seems to be strongly flavoured by racist and xenophobic lot, a la the BNP, UKIP, EDL, Britain First, Rupert Murdoch’s plethora of rags such as The Sun, and in Northern Ireland politics the DUP. All of the above I abhor with a zealous fervour. That’s why it was good to have that discussion today on Twitter with Ben, because there was none of that. Respect.
Admittedly the Remain camp’s campaign has been nothing short of farcical, with ever-increasingly silly claims about what would happen if we left the EU: “Brexit will drive down wages!” “Brexit will drive up prices!” “Brexit will cause massive job losses and unemployment!”
I await someone seriously claiming Brexit would give us all cancer, blot out the sun or eat our babies!
So my main concern about leaving the EU is this. The SNP in Scotland at the last election absolutely decimated Labour’s voter base. As a result Labour’s share of the overall vote dropped to a point where it may potentially never recover enough for them to win another election. Certainly for this generation at the very least.
That means that the UK will for a good long while at the very least, be for all intents a One Party State, and that One Party is the Conservatives. This is the same Tory party that loves Zero-hours contracts, wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, had to be forced to bring in legislation on maximum working hours, maternity pay, paid annual leave and other various workers’ rights.
If we were to leave the EU, the Tories would have unfettered ability to repeal all of the above legislation, all of which was ushered in by the EU and has improved the lives of working people right across the UK no end. In other words we’d all be back to doffing our flat caps to our Guv’nors again and offering to polish their shoes.
If we’re going to be a Tory-run country for a length of time, I’d hate for them to run the UK without governance from the EU.
It’s this that is my biggest concern, and the main reason I’m leaning towards a Remain vote.
Also consider the fact that Austerity+ would potentially be the de facto economic status for the UK should the Tories remain in power for the foreseeable future, especially outside of any fiscal oversight from the EU. Not something the EU would have a direct say in, but I’d hate to think how hard the Tories would turn the screw should they be allowed…
At the moment with people free to move about the EU at will and work wherever they like, more people move into the UK to work than leave. This increase in net population levels surely has to place increasing strain on our public services, particularly the NHS and benefits systems? The NHS is already at breaking point, thanks to the Tories (again) doing their best to drive it into the ground in an effort to privatise it and have the UK running with a medical system akin to that in the US. And we all know how broken the financing of the medical system is in the US, being as it is an arms race between the insurance companies and the medical industry in ever-burgeoning costs.
$24,000 for an X-Ray? Pull the other one GOP, it’s $6,000 cheaper.
If we did leave, concerns above aside, we would have full control of our borders & immigration policies.
We’d also have full electoral accountability, given that the leadership of the EU itself is unelected and unaccountable for its decisions. We also wouldn’t be subject to some of the dafter laws, such as no straight bananas. A law which is responsible for so much food wastage across the continent that if donated, would probably end the famine situation in Africa.
If we did leave, export tariffs into the EU would come into effect, a zone which accounts for 44% of our exports.
Our single biggest trading partner is actually the US, taking about double that of our second largest export market, Germany. And, despite this, given how much we export to the EU I’m skeptical about how hard they’d hit the UK with import/export tariffs if we did leave.
But I really fear for the future of workers’ rights, the NHS and general wages if we left the EU.
So, like you’ve seen, there are plenty of arguments on both sides. But for me, it’s basically like trying to decide between which bucket full of shit you’ll be prepared to eat if forced. Lumpy or runny?
The process of me sitting writing this hasn’t really helped me all that much, but I hope it’s helped you if you’re still fence-sitting!
So I made a change to the theme for the website, and this one’s a hell of a lot better for those of you reading on a mobile browser.
However, the site itself should work fine and dandy, and look a bit better even on a desktop browser.
There’s still a few wee niggles to sort out:
So that will all be sorted over the next few days, but hopefully you’ll find it a bit of a better reading experience, regardless of which type of device you’re reading this on!
So this week has been great 😀
First up on Monday (23rd) I attended the live cinema launch event for OverWatch!
It wasn’t bad, a lot of the cinematics, followed by a developer Q&A, but at least the Soldier 76 cinematic was new to me, as I deliberately didn’t watch it ahead of time 🙂
Winding back a bit, the previous Monday (16th) I was contacted by a PR firm working on behalf of Universal Pictures, who wanted to invite me to a couple of events this week, both of which were in Dublin.
Both events were related to the Warcraft: The Beginning movie. First up was an Art event in Temple Lane South on Tuesday (24th), where I was invited to take part in the creation of a mural depicting a scene from the movie:
— Sar (@Sarcrux) May 24, 2016
So I was there most of the day, from about 11:30am until 6pm. And when you factor in the fact I live just outside Belfast, I had over 230 miles of a round trip, and 7 hours travelling both days!
I really enjoyed the art event, watching @solusstreetart creating the above scene and getting to see Dublin as well! That was my first time in the city, despite having lived in Belfast all my life. Derp.
Dublin is gorgeous though, and the weather on Tuesday for the event was absolutely wonderful. Sunny and warm all day, and it showed Dublin off to its best. The city is set along the river Liffey, and it’s just really beautiful.
So that was Tuesday’s event, then on Thursday (26th) I was invited to the Irish Premiere for the Warcraft movie itself!
Yep, I’ve already seen the film, more than a week ahead of it’s UK release on Friday 3rd June!
There’s a review embargo in place until this coming Monday (30th) at 12pm UK time, so I’ll not be publishing my full thoughts until then.
But expect a long and thorough review at that point, giving my full thoughts on the film, what worked, what didn’t work, what frustrated me and what impressed me.
But, to give a taste, some of my tweets from last night, right after seeing it:
Just out of the #warcraftmovie and first one-word reaction?
(Pun fully intended)
— Sar (@Sarcrux) May 26, 2016
Make sure to come back on Monday at 12:01pm for the full review!
This is going to be a spoiler filled review, so if you haven’t seen it yet? Look away now…
Today was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 65.
He died 5 years ago and I miss the hell out of him.
It’s apropos, trust me.
So I finally got around to seeing Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (hereafter referred to as simply: BvS), after it being on release for over a week already. Having read and watched reviews being less than kind to it, I wanted to see for myself if the less than glowing critiques were justified, and if they were, what was it exactly that made the film so bad?
For a start, BvS isn’t quite as bad as the current rating of 31% on Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe. There were some pretty good points about this film…
The first positive of the movie. Seriously.
Christian Bale was and probably always will be my favourite on-screen Batman. So when Ben Affleck was announced as Batman, I was seriously questioning what the fuck DC were thinking.
As it turned out, he makes for a great Batman. Not Bale great, but great nonetheless. Bats in this film is a perfectly realised Frank Miller’s Batman of The Dark Knight Returns. Right down to the story beats, age and even his bat costume & armour. All are directly referencing and lifting from Frank Miller’s defining work.
This is a pissed off, grizzled and just plain fucked off Batman. A man who is sick of shit and just wants to clean up and protect his Gotham from any and all threats.
As Bruce Wayne, he was in Metropolis during the events of Man of Steel (MoS) and saw and experienced first-hand, at street-level, the kind of wholesale wanton destruction that Kryptonians are capable of when they have a tiff.
After a short dream sequence (the film is full of them), the intro sequence to the film depicts the destruction during the end of MoS as witnessed by Bruce. The background to this destruction laden intro is the World Engine that was unleashed by Zod in MoS, battering the city.
With buildings collapsing left, right and centre, Bruce dodges his way through the destruction, in an effort to see who he can save. His main goal is the Wayne Industries building in Metropolis, which he witnesses being sliced in half by Heat Vision, and collapsing, killing everyone still inside.
From that point on, you can understand how an ordinary man like Bruce would view aliens like these. Mega-powerful, god-like creatures who can’t be stopped or killed by mortal weapons and who could, on a whim, destroy all life on the planet. As he said to his butler, Alfred:
“Count the dead, thousands of people. What’s next? Millions? He has the power to wipe out the entire human race, and if we believe there’s even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty.”
Thus begins his mission to take down Superman…
Henry Cavill returns as Superman, his second appearance as the Last Son of Krypton.
I bloody loved Man of Steel, and a lot of that was down to Henry Cavill. I think he not only makes a perfect Superman, but also a great, more modern Clark Kent.
Christopher Reeve for many, will of course, and rightly so, be the best Superman. However as good as he was (and he was!), he never quite had the physicality that you would associate with someone as physically powerful as Superman.
Cavill fills that suit with aplomb.
If it sounds like I’m completely man-crushing here?
He returns to the role, and does just as great a job here. The impact that the events of MoS had both on Metropolis and Clark play out here.
There are two diametrically opposed views on Superman in this film. Those who support Supes, and believe he’s only here to do good, and those, like Bruce Wayne, who believe he presents a clear, present and potentially future threat to the citizens of Metropolis and beyond.
Cavill plays the guilt-ridden and conflicted Superman/Clark to a tee, and events later in the film show him pushed to the breaking point, ready to go full on nuclear on the film’s main antagonist and first major failing,
Lex Alexander Luthor.
Good job Henry.
No, not the Lex you’re used to. Just not yet at least. Jesse Eisenberg, again playing himself as he does in every film he’s ever in (hey it worked for Sean Connery right?) plays Alexander Luthor, son of Lex Luthor.
Here, Alexander…fuck it, Lex, is a tech billionaire, of much the same ilk as another character Eisenberg played in the Social Network: Mark Zuckerberg. Here he’s full of twitches, tics and really hams it up as a man with psychological and pathological daddy issues.
His portrayal of Lex frames the character as one that might actually be clinically insane, which was honestly the best thing about the character.
But the biggest negative about his character is his motivation.
What the fuck was it?
It was never made clear throughout the entire film exactly why Lex was doing what he was doing. He just seemed to hate Superman and wanted to kill him. He kept referencing imagery of angels and demons, so maybe he was meant to be thinking that Superman was a demon in human form and he saw himself as the saviour of the world?
But if that was the case, then that doesn’t track logically with his unleashing of the villain that criminally was shown in the trailers: Doomsday. A creature hell-bent on destroying everything. But we’ll come back to him in a bit.
Underused, but we got to see a decent glimpse of how Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will be realised in her first full length feature that’s set to début next year.
There were initially a lot of concerns, similar to Batfleck, about Gadot’s casting. Happily though, again similar to Batfleck, Gadot pulled off the Immortal Amazonian Princess shtick with not a little bit of credit to her name.
No, she’s not built, like some would have liked, but she did well with the little she had handed to her to work with. That amounted to a few scenes outside of the Doomsday battle, and of course the majority of that battle itself.
But what of the other cameos? Flash? Aquaman? Cyborg?
Well, these were all “blink and you’ll miss them” cameos. Seen mainly as surveillance footage gathered by Lex in his research, each cameo was on screen for less than a minute each.
For me though, Flash aside, none of the others really have me all that pumped. And I only exclude Flash from that because I love the completely unconnected TV show. But frankly, the guy they’ve chosen to play Barry Allen in the DCU?
Looks like a skeevy drug dealer to be frank:
Bleh. I remain to be convinced about any of the coming Justice League members outside of the Trinity. They’re not the Avengers, that’s for damn sure.
And as an aside? No-one even fucking likes Aquaman. I feel sorry for the frankly miscast Jason Momoa. He’s been stuck with a fucking terrible superhero to portray. I predict his solo film will absolutely stink.
Not even the guys on the Big Bang Theory, who all love superheroes, even like Aquaman.
And as for Cyborg? Anyone care?
Anyhow, the remainder of the MoS supporting cast are all here too: Lois Lane and Perry White (a returning Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne), as well as Martha and Jonathan Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).
The actual emotional highpoint of the film for me was when Superman went AWOL for a while to try to clear his head and to get away from Metropolis, following a bombing at a trial where he was the only survivor.
He went hiking in the snow, and had a vision of his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent whilst there.
Pa Kent had a few wise words for his son, and the line that got me, after the vision ended?
Clark: I miss you dad.
Told you it was apropos.
Anyhow, onto the failings then, and what dragged the film down, Lex Luthor aside…
First off, there was very little humour in this film. I can remember two jokes, one of which was the “I thought she was with you” line from the trailer.
Other than that, and an aside from Alfred (who seems to have been merged with the character of Lucius Fox in this DCU continuity and provides Batman’s tech support), there was bugger all to lighten the mood of what was otherwise a fucking grim spectacle.
And yes, DC are using a bastardised Zod’s body (as seen in the trailers!) as that Doomsday. And here? He looks like a fucking Mutant Ninja Turtle. Like a pissed off Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle that didn’t get his pizza delivered within 20 minutes or less…
Anyway, the storyline follows that particular character’s most notable story to a tee.
Yeah DC, you done blown your load early.
You killed Superman.
You went and utterly blew the Death of Superman storyline by cramming it into the last 20 minutes of the second film in the DCU?
/facedesk x infinity
Death of Superman should have been a storyline that had an entire film dedicated to it. Man of Steel 3 perhaps.
You should have given the general audience time. Time to bond with this iteration of Superman beyond 1.5 movies. Give them time to see him redeem himself from the events of the first movie, to prove himself to be the hero the world knows him to be.
Then? When he’s a proper saviour, and adored by the world of the DCU and audiences worldwide? Then drop the hammer of Death of Superman, without any hint that he may still be alive, unlike what they did with the final shot of this film.
Alas that wasn’t to be. Instead, DC rush things in an effort to catch up to Marvel, and cram Superman’s most important storyline into the last 20 minutes of only the second film in the DCU, thus robbing the character’s sacrifice of much of its gravitas and importance.
But, as anyone who knows the Superman comic history will attest, Supes does come back after the Death of Superman storyline, and this version will too, but I’ll swing back round to why in a second.
There were many dream sequences I mentioned earlier, and two of them are relevant to where I think the DCU are heading with their overall story arc. Particularly that of Superman.
The first dream sequence involved a more overt cameo from the DCU’s Flash. In it, he warned Bruce Wayne:
“Listen to me now. It’s Lois, Lois Lane. She’s the key. I’m too soon? I’m too soon. You were right about him. You’ve always been right about him. Fear him. Find us, you have to find us.”
The other sequence, partially in the trailers, was set in the post-apocalyptic wasteland outside of a city, presumably Metropolis. In it is carved a huge Omega symbol, and there are troops with Superman’s S logo emblazoned upon their arms.
In this dream, it looks like Superman has gone evil, and amassed an army that worships him like a god, and he’s destroyed everyone that has gone against him.
Given these two dream sequences, I have a feeling they are going to really fuck things up. Especially for Superman fans.
A few years back, a fighting game was released by WB featuring the superheroes of DC.
It was called Injustice: Gods Among Us.
It was set 5 years after the events of Death of Superman, and in it, he and Lois are married and she’s pregnant with his child.
The story goes that Superman, after the Joker tricks him into killing Lois and destroying Metropolis, Superman decides that he needs to impose a forced “peace” on the world. He warns the governments of the world to cease fighting, or that he’ll do it for them.
In essence he becomes a global dictator and rules the planet with an iron fist.
So yeah, that’s where I think they’re going, and maybe why they’ve blown such an important storyline so early in the DCU.
It’s also fairly obvious that the major villain in the DCU, and perhaps in the last JL movie proper, is going to be Darkseid. In the aforementioned apocalypse nightmare, Darkseid’s henchmen are fighting alongside a corrupted Superman and his troops, so it looks as though both Superman and Darkseid could be teaming up in a future DCU installment.
In essence, Darkseid is going to be DC’s Thanos.
Except Marvel will have threaded the threat of Thanos throughout 12 movies over the course of 10 years.
Not so much patience being shown by DC.
Am I glad I went to see the film?
Yeah, of course. I love superhero films and TV shows, and it takes one to be really really bad for me to regret seeing it. Potentially Aquaman’s solo flick will be falling into this category.
Would I recommend you go see it?
Eh. It depends if you’re as big a fanboy as I am. If not? Maybe wait for the Blu-Ray release in 6 months.
Ultimately, it’s a very mixed film. Storyline was sketchy to non-existent, and the characterisation of some characters was off or incoherent at best.
The premature use of the Death of Superman storyline so early on in the DCU is so very nearly unforgivable, and Zack Snyder is going to have to really justify trying to run before he can walk with this nascent Justice League IP. This should have been a story that would have been built up to over the course of years, and if Darkseid’s coming? Have him resurrect Superman as his lieutenant.
But the film did have some high points. The fight sequences were good, and the effects were well handled. Batfleck and WW both came out of this with credit in their banks, and we’ve got a possible showdown with Darkseid on the cards.
I don’t usually score stuff, but it would be around a 5 to 6 out of 10. It was far from awful, but it was also far from great. And I say that as someone who adored Man of Steel, a movie that has had no shortage of critics in the years since its release.
An appropriately bitter-sweet experience then, for a bitter-sweet day.
Happy Birthday Dad.
I have an on and off (mainly off) love affair with Linux. I’ve been using it on a sparse basis for years, whilst using the most recent version of Windows for my day-to-day stuff.
Now, some of you may or may not know, that in my day job I’m an IT Analyst/Engineer. I do a variety of tasks within this role:
So needless to say I’m a bit of a geek, both personally and professionally…
However Linux is something that has been a consistent pain to get working over the years. That said, it’s definitely a situation that has been improving, albeit slowly, over the years.
At least nowadays installing nvidia drivers in linux doesn’t involve having to dig into the guts of the OS and edit xorg.conf files and bollocks like that.
Linux Mint has been my distro of choice over the past couple of years, as it works better than most other distros I’ve used.
Mint in particular works pretty much out of the box. There is very little that needs to be done once it’s installed, other than run updates and make sure the programs you want are installed properly.
For those that don’t know, or are unfamiliar with Linux and how it works, there are many different “flavours” of Linux available.
Some, like Ubuntu and Mint are specifically targeted at Windows users who want something different, right through to the other end of the spectrum, where you have distros like Arch, which are highly technical and should only be used by seasoned Linux users & pros.
Mint is a “fork” of Ubuntu, or rather it uses Ubuntu “under the hood” while presenting a very different desktop experience to the user. A few years ago, Ubuntu’s makers decided to take the user interface in a direction similar to that taken by Microsoft with Windows 8.0 – a desktop seemingly designed for touch devices, even on a bog standard PC with a keyboard and mouse.
The creators of Mint decided that they liked the Ubuntu OS/Distro, but felt, like many others, that the direction Ubuntu were taking the desktop experience in was wrong, and decided to create a version, or a fork, of the Ubuntu OS with a more traditional, start menu/button like environment.
Whoever wrote the boot-repair utility for Linux needs a fucking knighthood. Seriously, that grub loader was properly borked.
— Sar (@Sarcrux) February 17, 2016
However, there are still some egregious issues with Linux, and it’s still far too easy to completely break your entire PC and your ability to even boot it into either Linux or Windows, if like me you’ve decided to play it safe (hah!) and dual-boot.
For example, I tried to install a new desktop environment called Gnome into Mint, and even though I did everything perfectly fine, and did exactly what I was meant to, it somehow managed to break the entire machine so badly that it managed to lose the boot settings. This meant it couldn’t find the configuration file (a thing Linux uses called GRUB) it needed to boot up, and as a result I was left with a machine that wouldn’t load either Windows or Linux.
So after an hour or so trying to fix it by hand, manually typing commands into the only thing I was able to get, a command prompt named Grub Rescue, I decided to boot up a live copy of Mint via a USB stick and use the above named utility to repair the damage that had been wrought.
And windows now works as it did before grubpocalypse!
— Sar (@Sarcrux) February 17, 2016
And lo, everything was fixed once more and off we went again, this time a bit more cautiously and staying well the fuck away from Gnome!
Ahh, fresh Mint.
— Sar (@Sarcrux) February 17, 2016
So once it was back up and running, it was time to set about customising and trying out some games…
Bwahahaha. Making it feel a bit more like home 🙂
— Sar (@Sarcrux) February 18, 2016
So using a windows emulation program named Wine, I’ve managed to get the Battle.net client installed, and got WoW downloaded and installed too.
WoW’s performance is nowhere near as good as it is on Windows, obviously, but it’s good enough that if I’m in Linux I can log on and check my garrison missions, or maybe jump on the AH, pick up mail and so on.
It’s certainly not anywhere near good enough to raid or even do any sort of group content like 5 mans.
Perhaps it just needs a bit more tweaking done, we’ll see.
Steam on the other hand doesn’t seem too bad. I’ve something silly like 680 games in my Steam account, and just over 200 of those have native Linux binaries, and are directly usable in Linux without having to go through Wine.
This includes even modern games, like Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin (Enhanced edition), and even the likes of X-Com 2!
Of course big strides have been made in this area in recent years, particularly by Valve, as they’ve created their own distro of Linux, named SteamOS. This stemmed from Gabe Newell’s dislike of where Microsoft were trying to take the PC desktop environment with Windows 8.
This all stemmed back to when rumours were still flying round about the intention of MS to lock the OS to only be able to install programs from the Windows store, and trying to lock the entire PC hardware to only be able to boot into Windows via TPM and Secure Boot.
Of course none of those things ever came to pass, but Valve have carried on developing SteamOS, building it into their branded PC hardware OEM lines, called Steam Machines, which are essentially linux powered PC based games machines for the living room.
I’ve yet to try installing any Steam games, as last night was all about battling with Battle.net via Wine (spoiler: it’s not a flawless experience!) and getting various other programs installed, like Chrome and Spotify.
Steam games will be tonight’s experiment, so I’ll make a post over the next few days letting you know how I got on with those, and how well they perform in comparison to Windows.
I’m hoping the native Linux games in Steam are a damn sight better performing than WoW is, given the lack of Wine emulation to suck performance out of it.
I’m glad though Steam & Valve are pushing to get more games compatible with Linux, as otherwise, this would be the sort of “quality” gaming experience you’d be subject to…
So it’s Xmas time again, Winterveil is currently in effect on Azeroth, and we’re all looking forward to seeing a fat man emptying his sack all over our living rooms late at night…
Christmas came early for me and a lot of other geeks this year, with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec 17th. Long gone now are memories of George Lucas’s attempts to destroy the franchise with his horrific prequels, which were packed full of risible acting, complete lack of acting or direction, and the terrible decision to eschew practical effects completely in favour of CGI, which hasn’t aged well, even only 10 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
JJ Abrams took the helm for this first film of another trilogy, and it quite bluntly shits on the prequels from orbit. It is a far, FAR superior film to all three prequels on several fronts:
Acting: Newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey & Finn respectively absolutely school Natalie Portman and the godawful Hayden Christensen in terms of raw acting ability.
See Anakin? THIS IS HOW YOU EMOTE!
Ridley is absolutely delightful, and Rey is now firmly one of my favourite SW characters. Boyega as Finn completely owned his role and finally showed what a black male lead character (itself practically a SW curiousity) in the SW universe can be.
Sorry Lando & Mace Windu, but you were hardly lead characters!
Practical Effects: Frankly, screw overuse of CGI. If you can build a set practically, then for god’s sakes do it! It gives the actors so much more to work with and allows both them and the audience to inhabit the scene so much more, and the situation becomes so much better realised and believable as a result.
Practical creature effects also helped enormously to give this new film the same feel as the original trilogy, especially the new “cantina” scene at Maz Kanata’s castle.
Friends Reunited: The original trilogy cast & characters make a very welcome return, and when Han & Chewie appeared on screen for the first time, you couldn’t have wiped the stupid fanboy grin off my face for a million quid. Not that the story concentrates on them in any way. No, this is firmly a film centred around the new triumvirate of characters (Rey, Finn & Kylo Ren, the new villain), but the appearances of them spattered throughout the film’s 136 minute running time help make the universe feel just like the one we left 32 years ago.
Story: No trade federation, no trade routes, no silly senate dealings. Nope, this was back to the roots of story telling in Star Wars: A story firmly about family. Or in this case, families…
There was one major criticism of the plot for this film:
[su_spoiler title=”Click for slight spoiler details…”]The film’s plot, beat for beat, perhaps too closely mirrors that of A New Hope. Didn’t bother me at all though, as it was perhaps better to help root the characters and setting once again back into a galaxy far far away…[/su_spoiler]
Overall though? Absolutely loved it. I was completely wrapt for the 2 hours, which is not something I could say for more than any individual 10 minute period of any of the prequels.
Is it better than the OT films? Perhaps Jedi, which as always been the weakest of the OT, but New Hope and Empire for me are still stronger films, especially Empire.
I’ll be going to see it a 2nd time over the Xmas & New Year period, which is something I rarely do with films/movies in the cinema. Last time I did that was the Matrix!
If you haven’t seen it yet, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS!? GO!