Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review - 'The Flash', S03E19 - 'The Once And Future Flash'

Barry Allen slowly coming to terms with the risks associated with time travel has been a recurring theme throughout much of the third season. Barry's decision to travel back in time and save his mother had created an entirely new time-line – and, despite his best efforts, he had not been able to return things to the way that they were, before Flashpoint. More than that, though, many of the problems that Team Flash has been confronted by, throughout the season, have been a direct result of Barry's decision to meddle with the past.

Watching as Barry had slowly come to accept responsibility for the problems that he had caused, and resolved to do better in the future, had actually made for a fairly satisfying character arc – to such an extent that it actually seemed a little strange to end the previous episode with Barry's decision to travel to the future.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E18 - 'Ace Reporter'

When Kara's decision to go against Snapper Carr's orders, a couple of episodes ago, had resulted in her being fired, I had thought that it was inevitable that she would eventually get her job back. Even if the idea of the series abandoning CatCo, and focusing entirely on Kara's exploits as Supergirl, had held a certain appeal to me, it had just felt like too drastic a change to the basic format of the series.

So, with Kara's eventual return to CatCo seeming inevitable, the only real question concerned how it would come about – and, I do have to admit that this was a source of some concern, for me. Kara's transition from personal assistant to investigative journalist had just seemed much too simple, back at the beginning of the season. The entire sequence of events that lead to her becoming a journalist had seemed to consist primarily of her decided that it was what she wanted to do, and being handed a position by Cat Grant – and, nothing that had happened since than had done anything to convince me that she was actually suited to the position.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Three Great Plot Twists In Three Great Video Games

While there has always been a large number of video games that have been entirely focused on action and spectacle, or simply on pure entertaining, it would also be fair to say that there has also always been video games that have attempted to explore the possibility of telling engaging stories within this interactive medium.

It's an aspect of our strange little hobby that might not be appreciated by those who do not share it, of course. But, for those of us who have devoted too many hours to playing video games, there are bound to be any number of video games that have impressed us with the quality of its writing, or its cast of characters, or the basic structure of its plot. There may even be examples of video games which affected those who played them in a much more profound way than simply providing a few hours of entertainment.

Sure, you could make the argument that none of this would make necessarily allow video games to be classified as 'art' (although, even on this point, it might be possible to come up with a list of games that would suggest otherwise) - but, that's hardly the point. As a medium for story-telling, video games have always had the same potential as films, books, and television.

Take, for example, that classic story-telling device known as the plot-twist – that sudden moment of revelation intended to catch you by surprise, and to completely change the feel of the story. In books and film, a well-done plot-twist can become the main talking point for fans. And, in the world of video games, there are examples that are just as good as anything you can find in any other medium - three of which I fully intend to blatantly spoil below, so consider yourselves warned.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S02E17 - 'Aruba'

The first season of Legends of Tomorrow may have had its share of issues, but the series had still managed to pull off a very entertaining final episode. The whole idea of the Legends being required to divide their forces, as they took on different versions of Vandal Savage at different points in time, had made for a very impressive, and very creative, action sequence which had even managed to go some way toward redeeming the first season's often underwhelming central narrative. I still didn't really care about any of the convoluted drama between Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Vandal Savage, of course – but, at least the characters did receive a memorable send-off.

Of course, the second season of Legends of Tomorrow has felt very different. The trio of villains who had been brought together to challenge the Legends have been so entertaining, whenever they are on-screen, that the season has always felt a little bit weaker whenever the focus wasn't placed on them. That's actually the exact opposite of how I often felt while watching the first season – and, it definitely indicates a fairly significant improvement for the series, as a whole.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Review - 'Legends of Tomorrow', S02E16 - 'Doomworld'

Personally, I've always appreciated stories that are willing to let the villains achieve a decisive victory. It's not necessarily that I actually want the villains to win outright, of course (although, that can be entertaining when it is done well) – but, instead, it really has more to do with actually allowing the villains of story to appear to be both formidable and effective. In a story where the villains never actually win, or never even seem to come close to achieving any sort of victory, the entire conflict can start to feel a little one-sided.

The Legion of Doom, for example, have been a very entertaining part of the second season of Legends of Tomorrow – but, as the season has progressed, the odd sense that they are actually the underdogs in the story has only seemed to grow stronger. This came to a head with the opening sequence of the previous episode, when we saw the Legends not only manage to locate Eobard Thawne's base of operations, but also successfully steal the last piece of the Spear of Destiny right out from under the nose of the villainous speedster.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Film Review - 'Ghost in the Shell'

While I would never call myself the most devoted fan of Japanese animation, I could still list plenty of examples of different films and series that I have genuinely enjoyed over the years – some of which even having managed to leave a lasting impression. High up on that list is, of course, the original Ghost in the Shell animated film, released in 1995 – a film which managed to impress me with both its strong sense of world-building, and its story-telling (the deliberately slow pace it set did test the patience of my younger self the first time I saw it, admittedly – but, it grew on me).

So, perhaps understandably, the whole idea of a live-action American remake is something that I have always approached with some degree of trepidation. Not because I have any real issue with the idea of a live-action American remake, of course (in fact, I have been sincerely hoping that the film would turn out well) – but, mostly out of concern that the whole endeavour would be fumbled in some way. This is, of course, exactly what seems to have happened – though, let's not get ahead of ourselves.