I Finally Played DA: Inquisition DLCs

DAII am so thankful for having such generous friends, like “D”, who let me borrow his XBox One in order to complete the Dragon Age Inquisition story line.

I still have a 360, which is by no means a bad thing, except to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry that dictates my game play.  I love the Dragon Age series, for many of you, this is not new information – just type in “Dragon Age” into my search bar to see all of the devotion.  I’ve already done a number of posts on the series, and so much more…

When it was announced that the DLCs for Inquisition, the extra content that gaming companies release that sometimes add a number of extra hours to enjoy, or not depending on the series, would not be released on older consoles, like my 360, I won’t lie, I was on the verge of tears.

Deep breath.

I had invested money and lots and lots of time to play the new game and then I was told I wouldn’t get any of the extras.  Nope.  Not having it.  It was kind of a slap in the face.  If the gaming companies are moving forward with the technology that comes with the newer consoles, then why did they even bother to release the game on the older ones?  I’m not going to rant about this now, but know there is a rant a comin’.

Needless to say, the DA:I extras did not disappoint and playing on the One was superior; the graphics are amazing, the details crisp, the subtitles and codex much easier to read.  I had one concern, moving over my character from the 360 to the One.  I read a number of articles that all said the same thing, but they were all incorrect.  I tried a variety of tactics to import the data, but they all failed, so if you’re like me, behind the times, let me give you a tip I received after talking directly with EA.

*If you started your game on the 360, you need to download the free version of The Black Emporium on the 360 before you can advance.  If you have all the DLCs for the One, you will obtain The Black Emporium in the pack.  Using the character you want to continue playing with, visit the emporium and create a new save.  On the screen there will be an option for exporting via the emporium to the One.  Nowhere did I ever find this information; most sites suggested using the cloud which, according to EA and my own findings, is incorrect.

You do need to have XBox Live in order to save this information to your account which is how the One will find it when you load it.  Now, on the One, under Extras there is the “Import from 360” option.  Character info will pop-up to ensure it’s the correct import and…Voila!  I wasted hours trying everything else.  Footnote, your character won’t import exactly, although it is pretty close, so I had to make a few changes which is why it’s good you start in the Black Emporium.

DAI JoHThe first DLC is Jaws of Hakkon, a new region to explore in the Frostback Basin.  There are a number of missions to complete while you search for the remains of the last Inquisitor, who is believed to have died in the area hundreds of years ago.  You will learn a great deal of history during this time with tales of the Avvars, the creation of the Seekers, and the previous Inquisitor and his political ties, lineage, and reasons for being in such a remote location.  The map is a bit confusing, as it is a place of peaks and valleys, so travelling from one location to another sometimes takes a little effort finding that one path.

With the new DLCs, you obtain new weapons and armor, but if you play these after the initial game, the armor ratings will be much lower than anything you currently have equipped, so use the schematics to build yourself something new, although most items remained of a lesser value than my current stock.  My favorites were both of the Qunari armors; they show a little skin and really are nice looking on your female Inquisitor in particular, and Dorian, because everything looks good on Dorian.

There are a lot of things to fight, so I think I ranked up twice before leaving the area (one must have been a carry over from Descent which I played first, because so much fighting), and there are loads of crafting items to utilize.  There are also more ocularum shards to find that will open a specific door in the area, useful before the boss fight.  Lastly, instead of runes, there are now sigils that have both positive and negative effects.  I didn’t use any, not yet anyway.

DAI DescentDLC number two is The Descent which takes place in the Deep Roads.  If you’ve played the previous two games, you’re probably like me and sort of huff at the thought of traipsing through the Deep Roads yet again, just as the Wardens must.  Wink wink.  Those blasted darkspawn!  And there are just. so. many and it is difficult.  Even at my high rank, I had to drop down from hard to normal in some areas because the enemies were just relentless and never ending.  I’m having nightmarish flashbacks just typing that.

I played Descent first, I’m not sure why, but if you’re early on in the game play, I would suggest visiting this area sooner than later because there is a ton of money to be made.  I think I ended up with 100,000 gold in addition to some great new armor and weapons.  You do have to be in Skyhold to access this mission from the war table, so you have a little time to rank up beforehand.

The Descent is a long, winding mission to solve the mystery of these random earthquakes that have started affecting the area.  This is of great importance because the dwarves mine lyrium, the whole of their economy, which both mages and Templars rely on.  You end up travelling further than anyone has before, and the landscape is quite beautiful and a little reminiscent of Blackreach in Skyrim.

Trespasser

The final DLC is Trespasser.  This is the one I couldn’t wait to get to – the end.  You cannot go back to anything unfinished once you begin, and you will receive a little pop-up at the war table with this warning.  The story takes place two years after you have defeated Corypheus, having been summoned by the council to the Winter Palace to defend whether there is still a need for the Inquisition.  After the events, you will have the opportunity to make this decision.

All of your friends have returned and you can interact with each, so make sure you talk to them multiple times to instigate cut scenes.  I played first as my female mage who romanced Cullen.  Great cut scene, fyi.  There is also a great scene with Dorian, as well as a couple of fun things with Vivienne and Josie.  There are dog treats to find which you will give to the mabari Cullen has taken a liking to that add perks such as cunning and magic, etc. but as this is the last DLC, I was confused as to why this was necessary.  Your rank will be high, your armor and weapons will be top notch, and you will have so many abilities you won’t know which ones to choose from most of the time.  This is one thing I wish they would have included from the previous two games, the ability to open the wheel of choices for all those abilities you have acquired so you can actually use everything in your arsenal.

This DLC is a great story for a number of reasons, one of them being that it continues to tie together other topics from the previous games.  The eluvians, the elven mirrors that have played a role in each game, are your means of travel in Trespasser while you try to stop a pretty big threat.  I won’t give anything away, but will only say that this paves the way for a great Dragon Age 4, which is years away, if at all, since it hasn’t been announced yet, and the creator of the series left Bioware a little while ago. 😦  So, wait, there’s a job opening?!  Bioware, please announce at least the promise of a new game…there are still so many story lines that require closure!

I freely admit it that I will play these DLCs at least two more times with my other characters I’ve created so I can see the endings for each, or at least until my friend asks for his XBox back.  This is the same friend I was able to encourage to play the game in the first place because of my (great) interest in the series.  For gamers who like RPGs, start at the beginning with Dragon Age Origins, forgive Bioware for Dragon Age II, but still enjoy it, and then find your way to Inquisition where all these stories converge.  You won’t be disappointed.

Game on!

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10 Films That Surprised Me In the Last 10 Years

After my post about the unfortunate Crimson Peak, I started thinking about the movies I have seen and loved.  They had to be out there, right?!  I’m kidding, of course.  I can easily list a number of films I’ve seen in the last few years that I thought were brilliantly done.

Oddly enough, in my email the following day there was a message from StumbleUpon, a site I haven’t visited in quite a while, about The 30 Best Films of the Decade (this list discusses films from 2000-2009).  I decided to utilize this list as a spring board to create my own “10 best in the last 10”.

This was a difficult task.  There really have been some wonderful films in the last 10 years, a great many of them that I still have yet to see are on a virtual running list, so this list is about the films that truly surprised me and left a lasting impression from a variety of genres; those I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first saw them.

In order of their release date, I present to you the following:

W&GdvdWallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) – I adore this animated film.  The characters make their full length feature debut in this wonderful tale about a man and his dog trying to save the annual giant vegetable competition from a destructive beast with a taste for veg.  The thing I discovered about Wallace and Gromit, and why I love it, is the subtle humor and the dark side of their stories.  Almost more for adults because of the humor, kids can definitely still enjoy the movie because they won’t understand half the jokes anyway, just like Pixar films.  This one takes multiple viewings to catch all the little nuances and cleverly placed verbal and visual cues, and then you’ll find yourself like The Sis and I, quoting it fairly regularly in your daily life.

PansLabyrinthPan’s Labyrinth (2006) – The Sis had not seen this film prior to Halloween, but after watching Crimson Peak, and being disappointed, I encouraged her to watch this beautiful, moving, and surprising adult fairytale by Guillermo del Toro.  This import was nominated for dozens and dozens of awards, and one viewing will give you the insight as to why.  Set in the 40s during a rebellion against the fascist government in Spain, a young girl with a wonderful imagination takes a journey to discover who she really is.  I like to mix reality and fantasy in my own writing and I think that’s why this film struck me – it does exactly that, perfectly.

VforVendettaV for Vendetta (2006) – I knew nothing of this film upon seeing it, and I’m not sure who introduced me to it, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  I like the idea of alternate universes, and the idea of “what if” in regards to history.  England is in a police state following Germany’s win in WWII, and V, voiced by Hugo Weaving, is considered a terrorist for his actions that would lead the people to freedom from their government.  Along his journey he saves a young woman (Natalie Portman) and discovers an ally to his cause.  One of my favorite aspects of this film is that we never see V’s face.  He wears the Guy Fawkes mask the entire time, and although you think that would lead the audience to disconnect, it’s more symbolic that he could be any of us.

Lars&RealGirlLars and the Real Girl (2007) – I turned this film on out of curiosity and discovered a truly moving film.  Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a man who is sort of detached.  He doesn’t like to be touched, and desperate to find a connection, orders himself a girlfriend – a full size doll.  Despite his family’s protest, that he’s crazy, a doctor encourages them and the whole town to embrace his delusion, and his girlfriend becomes an active member of society.  It sounds strange, but it’s a wonderful story about family and how easy it is to write someone off rather than try to help them.  As adults it’s easy to become self-involved, we constantly worry what others might think, and sometimes we want the easy way out of a situation, but this film shows us otherwise.

LetTheRightOneInLet the Right One In (2008) – I had already read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist before seeing the film, a rarity, so I knew the story going in, but the film still surprised me.  This Swedish film about the bond of friendship is an interesting take on the vampire genre.  Oskar is a shy boy, bullied at school, who befriends his new, odd neighbor, Eli.  Oskar comes off as a bit of a goof, but he’s a 12 year old boy, so, you know, it’s expected, and Eli is wary of him, but also intrigued.  Eli is compelling to watch, and going against Hollywood standards of “beauty”, there is something so interesting about her.  The story builds like a romance, so much so that sometimes you forget you’re watching, what is technically, a horror movie.  An American remake was filmed within 2 years and it wasn’t nearly as memorable.  Give the original a watch.

TropicThunderTropic Thunder (2008) – You may find this a surprising add to the list, but I think it’s an underrated comedy about the Hollywood system.  Ben Stiller directed the film, and there are a few versions available strangely, but despite not loving all of Stiller’s films, this one is hilarious.  I’m not kidding.  Stiller plays the typical action star who has had a string of flops, including a turn in a serious role as a man with a mental disorder who has been cast as the lead of a Vietnam War epic based on a novel.  His costars are Jack Black, a crude comedy actor, Robert Downey Jr., a multiple Academy Award winning actor who really gets into his roles, and Brandon T. Jackson, a rapper who wants to break into acting.  They end up having to become actual soldiers as the location where they’re shooting is an actual war zone.  There are homages to other war films, the jokes are funny to those who know about Hollywood, and the casting choices, I thought, were spot on.  One of my favorite parts of the film is the fake trailers at the beginning of the film.

District9District 9 (2009) – As you know, I like sci-fi.  I’m currently writing a space odyssey.  So believe me when I say, this movie completely took me by surprise.  This is not an invasion film like so many other alien movies, it’s about what happens when they seek refuge.  They become second class citizens, relegated to internment camps, where their well-being is not a concern, but learning more about their technology is.  They are not cute, friendly looking aliens, they are hard, bug-like creatures which makes empathizing with them an even greater challenge, and one director Blomkamp achieves.  This story could be looked at as a metaphor, but let’s keep it simple.  This story takes place through the eyes of a government worker who contracts an illness upon visiting one of the districts, and learns first hand how cruel and brutal the humans are and have been to their refugees.  There have been rumors of a sequel for years, and after watching this film, you’ll definitely want one.

FantasticMrFoxFantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – This is the first of two Wes Anderson films on my list.  I didn’t plan it, I swear.  The Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the book by Roald Dahl, one of my favorite writers, and is the perfect story for Anderson’s signature style.  Using stop motion animation, this is the story of Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who is doing his best to fight his true nature for the sake of his family.  Eventually he can’t fight it any longer, and his stealing starts a war with three local farmers.  First off, the film is beautiful.  Then there’s that subtle humor and dark side again that I so enjoy.  You don’t have to have children to watch this or Wallace and Gromit, and you don’t have to be embarrassed that you liked them, just remember that animated films can be smart and fun.

IngloriousBasterdsInglorious Basterds (2009) – By far, my absolute favorite Tarantino film, and one of my favorite movies in long time.  Following that same “what if” idea that I like, Tarantino proposes a fantasy about ending WWII by killing Hitler and his closest advisors.  This film introduced us to a wonderful villain, and the actor who played him, Christoph Waltz, that I think scared more people with his cool demeanor, and random bursts of excitement, than any horror movie villain.  I tried to stay away from the big-budget Hollywood movies for this list, and as I think Tarantino is still more of an independent director, I think I can get away by adding this one.  His signature brutality is still prevalent (and how could it not be in a war movie?!), as is his penchant for killing off everyone, but you still leave the film satisfied.

GrandBudapestHotelThe Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – I appreciate Wes Anderson’s sense of humor, but that wasn’t always the case.  It had taken a few years of cultivating my own dry sense of humor to appreciate his work more fully.  Sometimes his stories take a strange turn, but that was not the case here, and that is why I was so pleased with Grand Budapest.  As The Sis is a big fan of Ralph Fiennes, we were going to see this movie regardless, but what we discovered was a beautiful film with a wonderful, surprising story – it is no wonder why this is considered his best work.  Keeping in line with his signature style and set in the 30s, a grand (pink) hotel serves as the backdrop for a mystery involving Fiennes’ character, Gustave H., the hotel’s concierge, who provides his clients world class service.  Along with his protégé, Zero, the lobby boy, they embark on a unique adventure.  This film garnered Anderson a slew of nominations, including best film, and it is because of his quirky characters and interesting story that you will understand why.

So there you have it.  When I first started putting together my list, I was at nearly 30 movies that I considered truly wonderful in the last 10 years, so as you can see, this was really taxing to decide on just 10 (and by no means is this list complete).

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you agree with my list?  What movies have you loved these past 10 years?

A Discrepant Writer Reviews: Crimson Peak

CrimsonPeakIn the spirit of Halloween, The Sis and I decided to spend an evening enjoying, what I hoped would be a wonderful and spooky tale by Guillermo del Toro, with the always lovely Tom Hiddleston.  Those two creating a period piece – I’m in!

((sigh))  Oh, Crimson Peak.  Yep, you guessed it.  It was not all I hoped it would be.

*I will do my best to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, because as you know, I am usually behind, so by the time I get to a review, I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen it anyway.

I had been looking forward to this film for months.  Del Toro has an interesting vision in all his work, so I expected a great deal more from him.  I like the phrase “left wanting” and that is the exact phrase to describe my feelings.  The storyline was predictable, and as I sat in the movie theater, I felt sort of bored.

I couldn’t believe it either.

Here’s a quick synopsis: Young rich girl, Edith (MiaWasikowska) marries mysterious poor noble, Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and moves into his haunted mansion with his strange sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain).

That’s the best I can do without giving too much away.  The film is classified as a gothic romance which is true.  It’s a mystery in a haunted grand estate that has fallen into shambles, but the plot is a thinly veiled nod to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.  Even one of Jane Eyre’s best pieces of dialogue between Mr. Rochester and Jane has been slightly altered and injected into the film.  In both stories it’s a beautiful moment of the man declaring his feelings, that the string that binds their hearts together may be able to stretch across an ocean should they be parted, but it is also a bit manipulative on his part to force a declaration from the younger, naive woman.

For me, as a gothic romance, there should be an element of longing.  Stories such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and even Dracula have a strong longing between characters.  There are a number of obstacles such as social rank, separation, marriage, and even death to create this sense of longing, and that was missing in Crimson Peak.

CPinteriorWhat it did do, spot on, in fact, was the visual aesthetic.  The amazing house, which is the true star of the film, is situated on this desolate spot of land above a red clay quarry.  The clay bleeds into the earth above, hence the title.  A hole in the ceiling allows for leaves (from absent trees) and snow to drift in which creates a wonderful cinematic image, and the costumes are beautiful, even if sometimes I felt they were time period inappropriate.  *Side note, Tom Hiddleston was born to wear a suit, no matter the year.

What it is not is a horror film.  I’m pretty sure I remember Stephen King commenting on how scary it was, but it’s not.  At all.  And this is coming from a scaredy cat.  I don’t like horror movies in general, so I was predisposed to being scared by this film and then wasn’t.  A little heart palpitation now and again is good for you, or so I’ve heard, so I was looking forward to hiding behind my hands.  I didn’t.

I felt the movie took too long to set up the story.  There was too much backstory of Edith wanting to be a writer and frivolous side pieces that took away from the rest of the story.  This made me feel that some of the story was left undeveloped, and left other story ideas confusing instead of what they were hoping would be thought of as mysterious.  And then there was the plot twist.  You could see it coming from a mile away, and that’s why I think I was bored.  I knew what was coming long before it ever got there.

2stars

I know I had high standards for this film (because it was one I actually wanted to see by artists I know do great work), and that’s in part because I’ve been disappointed quite a bit recently, and I expected more from this team.  I can’t recall a movie I’ve loved in a long time, and that saddens me.  I want to be a part of this industry, and I feel less inclined to go to the movies each year.  Well, I suppose that means I’ll just have to dig deeper and write something that’ll blow their socks off!

Well, those are my thoughts.  If you saw Crimson Peak, what did you think?

A Discrepant Writer Reviews: The Quest

The QuestI am not a reality show watcher.  Other than RuPaul’s Drag Race, I have only seen snippets of shows, mostly through The Soup.  Randomly searching through the Netflix options, The Sis and I came upon a reality competition show called The Quest.  We turned it on out of curiosity, but not only were we hooked, we’re ready to sign up for next season.

Here’s a quick synopsis: Contestants are transported to a magical realm to help a kingdom under attack from a dark force.  Through a series of adventures where new skills are learned and tested, one will rise above the others to wield a magical weapon that will help them defeat the impending evil.

Now here’s what I liked about the show.  It’s a fantasy world created and filmed in a castle in Austria.  The queen of the realm, her advisors, and her kingdom played their roles wonderfully.  They had backstories and stayed in character, adding an authentic feel to this world.  It’s a combination of role playing and competition where the contestants, aka paladins, actually helped one another to succeed.  There was very little in-fighting or backstabbing, something I generally expect from most of these “reality” based shows.  Also, there was never any mention of prize money.  A trip to Europe to live out your childhood fantasy of saving a kingdom as a worthy knight is prize enough.  This is another reason I feel the competitors were inclined to be kinder to one another.

The elimination round is judged by the Greek mythological Fates (and you know how I have a soft spot for them), and you’re guided and mentored by a knight of the realm.  Now for my cosplayer friends and fellow fantasy genre enthusiasts, doesn’t this sound like the ideal competition for us?!  *A spoilery bonus, the eliminated contestants return for the final fight, so there is an honest sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

There is no telling who will be the winner.  Size and speed don’t necessarily give you an overwhelming advantage, as some rounds required a variety of skill sets.  Overall, the show is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to those who prefer to spend their time in the books and movies of other worlds; where dragons rule the sky and heroes are created, where you can live in a castle, make friends with the queen, and save the day.5stars

It makes me want to cosplay all the more and join the Society for Creative Anachronism, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

Give it a watch, or if you already have, share with me your thoughts.

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Into the Woods

ITWposter*Some spoilers – will try to keep to a minimum 😉

Sigh…oh, Into the Woods, I had high hopes for you.

First off, I had no idea this was based on a play from the 80s, I just knew it was a musical fairytale, and I was in, but after the first scene, I quickly realized this was not going to be what I was hoping it would be.

Quick synopsis –

James Corden and Emily Blunt, both of whom I adore, are a childless couple living in a small village as the local baker and his wife.  They have no names, unless Mr. “Baker” counts?  A musical opening number offers us the information that they would like a child, but have yet to be successful in conceiving.

In flies the witch – the always fantastic Meryl Streep, who is the witch from the original story of Rapunzel, in which she offers a trade to the man stealing from her garden – specific greens for his pregnant wife – the veggies for the baby.*  Fair deal.  The witch gives over a whole lot of information to this childless couple about how their house is cursed and if they complete a ritual in a given time, she will lift it.

For writers, this scene will drive you crazy.  It offers all the information about the movie in one scene and without any real provocation.  It’s not as if the couple sought out her help or advice.  She just comes in one day and says, “Let me help you.  Here’s everything you need to do, no strings attached.”  Really?!

*The baker’s father was the thief, and hence Rapunzel is the baker’s sister, whom he doesn’t give a fig about finding, just FYI.

So off the couple go in search of four items that when combined by the witch will lift the curse and give them the family they desire.  They need a cow the color of milk, a cloak the color of blood, hair the color of corn, and a slipper made of gold.  Enter Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk with his white cow, Little Red Riding Hood (who The Sis groaned each time she opened her mouth – she was annoying), Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

As the title suggests, nearly the entire story takes place “in the woods” and they sing about it, often.  Sadly, none of the songs are catchy or even memorable except for one, which I will mention shortly.  The story does stay more true to the original tales in which the darker side of the storytelling is preserved, like killing the wolf to free Red and her grandmother who have been eaten whole, Rapunzel’s prince being blinded by thorns grown by the witch after being caught leaving the tower, and even Cinderella’s stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit the slipper.  Yep and eww.

But the overall story is weak and drags, and this is coming from Disney…Disney! Who is the reason I have a princess complex!  And Rob Marshall, who directed Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.  Chicago is great and so catchy!

Maybe because they were trying to stay true to the original, they didn’t realize that it didn’t translate.  A play is limited in its location changes, hence all the woodsiness (I like that word and I’m keeping it) while the action seemed stifled and the dialogue was often too on the nose. Ugh.

The two saving graces of this film – when the witch is transformed and looks like this:

ITWwitchAfter

Love it!

And when the two princes, one of whom is Chris Pine in a hilarious role as Cinderella’s prince, sing this song:

That’s it.

The story takes a weird turn about three-quarters of the way through, when the happily ever after seems too soon, but what follows is completely out of left field.  There is a moment of weakness that results in a really bad consequence and the remainder of the story threw me for an unexpected, and what felt like a forced, loop.

Given the cast, the people behind it, and the basis for the story, Into the Woods was not the fairytale I was hoping for.

2stars

What are your thoughts on Into the Woods?

*Video courtesy of Youtuber John Oncer.

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Death Comes to Pemberley

DeathPemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley recently popped up on Netflix, and as a Jane Austen enthusiast, I was excited to see they had picked it up.  I had been seeing articles, set photos, etc. for some months, so I made the effort to watch it almost immediately.  If you are wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, it’s because we haven’t paid for television in over 3 years.  So yes, I’m fairly out of the loop on most things.

Based on the novel of the same name from 2011 by P.D. James, I have to say I have been less inclined to read any of what is basically fan fiction of one of the most famous love stories in all of literature.  This is not a judgement in any regard.  I love fan fiction, I write some myself, but what I have discovered in some of the reading I have done is that it lacks the…hmm, what’s a good word…magic?

Jane Austen ran in the circles she was writing about.  Modern day writers can only emulate what they’ve studied, read, and seen because we have not lived it first hand, and again, by no mean is this a shortcoming.  I love period pieces, and if we only wrote about what we “know”, we wouldn’t have the wide range of diversity we do in any medium.  As writers, we each have a voice, and when it comes to something as widely beloved as Pride and Prejudice, you have to get it just right.

So here is my quick review.  Twoandhalfstars

The film was broken up into three parts.  I’m pretty sure it could’ve been told in two.  Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys play our leads, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in their sixth year of marriage planning their annual ball when tragedy strikes.  A murder.  Because of the people involved, a wedge is slowly driven between the couple and we are given a glimpse as to the repercussions of following one’s heart instead of one’s head – or at least in the minds of these characters.

The actors are both very good, but I felt Elizabeth was cast incorrectly.  She was not the same spirited woman I have come to love and this is where I blame the writing.  She seemed weak, and that spark that had attracted Darcy to her in the first place was replaced by insecurity and she was kind of dull.  Darcy was too distant, even from the beginning of the film, and because so little is really known of him from the original material beyond those honorable traits we know and love, he too came off a bit dull.

Now, I haven’t been married, so maybe after six years of marriage in this world, they’re a little bored of each other, but when we leave them at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s not that I expect the permanent happily ever after, because it is based in “reality”, but I expect more than this.  Of course there will be hard times, etc., but I also expect that the challenge they presented to one another would carry over.  They should have spirited debates, and still have some spark…well, I think so anyway, and that was missing entirely from this tale.

I didn’t feel/see any spark between these characters, and I almost felt like the obligatory “romantic”, oh, let’s call it what it was, the sex scene was meant to reassure us that they did indeed have “something”, but that doesn’t happen in Jane Austen’s stories, so I know it was meant specifically for modern day audiences, and for me it felt out of place.

There’s an odd side story involving Wickham, played by Matthew Goode, and that does have some bearing on the story overall, but in the vein of a mystery, it was still rather convoluted.  The other failing was the absence of Jane and Bingley, the two people dearest to our main characters.  I think there were two scenes with Jane, and they didn’t amount to much.

I love the idea of seeing more of two of my favorite characters, as I’m sure does every Janeite, but I would almost prefer to imagine their fates as an open-ended tale without any real knowledge of what happened.  Looking back on what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound that promising of a film, but it had its moments, and I was glad to have the opportunity to watch it.  If I were flipping channels and it was on, I’d most likely leave it for a bit, but it’s lack of overall charm doesn’t compel me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Well, that’s my take anyway.

Happy Sunday!

The Discrepant Writer Rambles about Captain America: The Winter Soldier

CaptainAmerica2shieldSo as you may have noticed, I have been quite absent as of late.  The new job is just sapping my energy and creativity, and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is look at another computer screen.  I thought by now I’d be on a better track, but I’m not quite there yet.  So I thought instead of rambling about the job and the lack of writing, I’d do something a bit more fun and do another movie review.

I am now always behind in my tv and movie watching, this never used to be the case…I wanted to write this post over a month ago, and even then I was already behind.

As some of you may already know, I am a big fan of Captain America, the character.  Chris Evans is absolutely adorable, don’t get me wrong, but I am smitten with the good ol’ American blond boy in general.  I like to think of myself as a good person, that I would do the right thing; even in my video game playing I always choose the “right” path (for which The Sis will usually mock me) and something about that quintessential good guy is extremely appealing.  The good guy doesn’t necessarily have to finish last – although if Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was standing in front of me (or just Hiddles in general), I might leave Cap in the cold. 😉   I like a big action/blow ’em up type movie, and the surge of comic book movies has been a lot of fun for the movie-going experience, especially with Marvel doing such a good job of mixing their universe.  Side note, I’m not going to discuss all the prejudices and politics that have become the main topic of conversation recently in association with these films.  That can be for another day.

I wanted to see CA2, but when it was being released I wasn’t quite the Cap fan that I am now.  I have one friend in particular to thank for turning me on (pun intended) to the world of Captain America.  So when I realized how much more I wanted to see this movie, it was already on its way out of theaters and I had to wait for the dvd release – months later.  Another reason for my late entry on this subject.

So here’s my insight, kept to a minimum because I’ve already rambled a bit more than I anticipated (and it’s been a little while now since I watched it), of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I was aware of more of the particulars by the time I finally saw the film, so I felt I understood more going in then I would have before this new interest.  And don’t worry I won’t spoil anything for those of you who are behind too.  The movie had a more realistic feel, despite the superhero nature.  Of course there are some big action sequences and massive destruction, but most of the time, I didn’t feel like I was watching a comic based movie.  It is based in the real world and deals with the current political climate and the lengths some people are willing to go to.

I like Natasha being a part of the film, as Steve’s friend and partner, without there being that underlying romantic theme.  I don’t understand why the majority of movies feel it necessary to put the guy and girl together, regardless of their compatibility, just because.  God forbid a man and woman just be friends and work together…side note, she deserves her own movie!

We meet Falcon, who, from what I’ve seen in other mediums is a teenager, but is now a war vet.  He’s not a superhero, but just a good man who wants to do good and because of his admiration for the Cap joins his fight.  I’d like to learn more about him.

The title gave me hope that we would see more of The Winter Soldier, which unfortunately was kept to limited, mostly non-verbal scenes.  Although the few scenes he does have are poignant and will make you more sympathetic to his plight.  There is a whole other post I’d like to dedicate to this character and his relationship to Cap.

After watching the film, I was interested more than ever to learn more about Captain America and his story, especially as hints of The Civil War story line continue to spread.  Then the move happened, and the new job, and I’m no closer to knowing any more than I was just after watching the movie.

My final take on the movie – it’s among one of the best of this genre.  I’d say it’s in my top 3; behind The Avengers and Iron Man and no, I have not seen Guardians yet..I know.  It doesn’t feel as far fetched as some of the other stories, and I think it resonated more with audiences because of its modern take.

Needless to say, I’ve been on the hunt for just the right Captain America shirt and have some comics waiting to be purchased.  I bought a reusable water bottle with Cap’s likeness from the comics and it is this new habit, that could be the right word, that got me the job.

So thanks, Cap!

If you’re interested in some Captain America fanfic, give Archive of Our Own a look.  That’s what started all this.

Have a great week everyone!

Review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I have been horrible at watching movies lately.  I have Netflix, but I’ve been on a kick of watching tv series (serieses?  What is the plural?  Is it like sheep or Lego?) and my movie watching has fallen by the wayside.  Then I got the notice from Redbox – free rental.  Well then, let’s take advantage of that!

So, yes, this review is a good six months after the premiere, but if you’re like me, a little behind, then you might find this useful, or at least interesting…I hope.

My sister suggested that I write reviews.  When I countered with, “but I’m so behind, and nothing would be relevant”, she replied that reviews don’t require a time frame.  She also reassured me that because I always had a clear understanding of what I liked or didn’t in something that others may be inclined to watch a film they hadn’t considered before, or not.  I don’t care for reviews that offer big vocabularies and technical terms to make the writer of the review proud of themselves.  I like honest reviews that tell me if I’m going to like the film.  My goal is to write a review as if I were talking to friends, which I am. 🙂  So here is my first go at a review…which I will now be sure to keep shorter since I rambled.

Also, I will need some sort of catchy title for my reviews, like, Geeky Girl Reviews “said film”, or Discrepant Writer Reviews…any thoughts?

I should first preface this review with the fact that I have not seen the first Hobbit in the series in its entirety.  I am a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although, that is neither here nor there, but it is one of the reasons I was compelled to watch this series.  The other, Benedict Cumberbatch.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you are probably aware of the love my sister and I bear for this actor.  Looks aside, and yes, he is incredibly sexy (if you need proof, and are among one of the last people on Earth to hear about his work on Sherlock, it’s on Netflix, go watch it immediately, and all will be understood), he is an amazing actor with a voice so rich in timbre that it makes 99% of all women weak in the knees.  I’m not sure if that fact is true, but it sounds accurate. 😉

Hobbit:SmaugPosterLet’s try out one of the titles…Discrepant Writer Reviews  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Quick overview: The dwarves are trying to reclaim their homeland currently occupied by the dragon, Smaug.

I read The Hobbit many years ago.  So many, in fact, that I couldn’t tell you that the movie I was watching was even remotely related to what I had read.  Nothing seemed familiar, except for Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and the ring.  The movie had the feel of the Lord of the Rings in design and scope, which was a welcome sight that they had not detoured from appearances (I’m looking at you George Lucas).

We are again transported to Middle Earth, and there are some familiar faces, even if some of them shouldn’t be there – Legolas, I didn’t realize how much I had missed you, until just now.  There are plenty of new, pretty faces – Evangeline Lilly as the elf, Tauriel, Lee Pace as the elf king and Legolas’ father, Thranduil, Richard Armitage as the dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield, and Luke Evans as the human smuggler, Bard – the only ones whose character names you might be inclined to hear and remember.  The character of Bard reminded me quite a bit of Aragorn, the human with a noble lineage who is a “more than meets the eye” type.

Right off the bat, I was confused.  I had the volume up on my tv well beyond its normal range and I still could not hear what was going on around one of the initial scenes that takes place in Rivendell between Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, and Elrond.  My mind wandered easily throughout the film, and I think this had to do with the pace (some scenes just lagged or were completely unnecessary), and maybe in part because I was not yet invested with these characters.  This may be because I hadn’t finished watching the first film.  Maybe.

Everywhere the dwarves go, they are captured and pulled along to stand before whoever is the ruler of that particular area, be it an orc, an elf, or a human.  They are considered vagabonds basically, even though one of them is a king by birthright and he is leading a small band of what is left of his people to their rightful home.  At times, I was a little annoyed at Thorin’s behavior, wanting him to be more than he seemed, and maybe he will in the final film.

Gandalf goes off on his own journey to find a wizard called the Necromancer, who everyone continues to comment on can not be a human because humans aren’t powerful enough to control the dead.  There’s a battle that occurs that left me confused, because orcs were present as well, and I didn’t know why any one was even in this particular place to begin with.  Maybe because my mind had wandered earlier.

Cut to, Smaug.  *Side note, I like dragons.  I hate that most of the time they’re referenced as evil, as in the game Skyrim.  You have to slaughter dragons by the dozen, with only two that are actually nice and helpful.  When Smaug speaks, it’s like hearing Darth Vader for the first time.  It’s wonderful and sends a thrill down your spine.  He has lovely dialogue, knows everything, and you kind of hope he wins.  At least I did.

When it cut to black, I laughed, because I knew that what I had heard would be the last line of dialogue and hence the end of the film.  And it was.

Overall, fun to watch if you’re already a fan of LOTR, but it’s a bit long and tedious, and you could probably skip to the end where Bilbo meets Smaug to understand the whole of the film thus far.  The book is not that long, only 365 pgs. vs LOTR at nearly 1200 pgs. which is why it’s understandable that there were three films for that series.  I don’t think The Hobbit requires the same approach.

3of5starsI’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s well done, but I wouldn’t take my time to watch it again, except maybe for Smaug, and a little more Legolas.  Well, that’s my take.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to share.

Have a great weekend everyone!