Ready Player 1

 

Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

The film is set in the year 2045, when much of humanity, escaping the desolation of the real-world, uses the virtual reality software OASIS to engage in work and play. Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before indentured players working for a large company, run by Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn), can do so.


I read the book back in 2011, so after seven years there isn’t much of the original book I remember. But I would see this before reading reviews. Firstly, there is a lot of eye candy. And despite being 2:20hrs long, it had good pacing.

The first third of the movie is dominated by popcorn CGI of the Oasis and it’s difficult to sympathize with the characters. It isn’t until the last third that the  characters work and the drama pulls you in.

 

Arrested Dev 1.01-2

Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz, which originally aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2, 2003, to February 10, 2006. A fourth season of 15 episodes was released on Netflix on May 26, 2013.

The show follows the fictitious Bluth family, a formerly wealthy and habitually dysfunctional family. It is presented in a continuous format, incorporating handheld camera work and voice-over narration, as well as the use of occasional archival photos and historical footage. The show also maintains several running gags throughout each season.

Ron Howard serves as both an executive producer and the series’ uncredited, omniscient narrator. Set in Newport Beach, California, Arrested Development was filmed primarily in Culver City and Marina del Rey.


 

Episode 1.01 – Pilot

Michael anticipates becoming the new president of his father’s homebuilding company, having put up with his family for years in order to achieve it. Instead, the position is given to his mother, Lucille–just before his father George Sr. is arrested by the SEC. When his family proves unable to run the company, Michael reluctantly returns to help. Meanwhile, Gob’s magic career is derailed and George Michael develops a crush on his cousin Maeby.

 

Episode 1.02 – Top Banana

Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth

The banana stand has burned down and flashbacks reveal the events that led to its destruction: Michael tries to get George Sr. to let him run the company himself. Maeby begins working at the banana stand. Tobias auditions for a commercial. Gob deals with feeling unneeded.

 

Northern Warriors 2

King’s Bounty: Warriors of the North (2012)

This is a sequel to King’s Bounty: The Legend (2008) and King’s Bounty: Crossworlds/Armoured Princess (2010).

This was a replay, playing as a warrior.  It’s still a fun game and longer than I remember, I started off not using cheats, but soon I god bored with constantly going back to stock up on troops. I ended up playing with demons and dragons. The final four encounters I left to the auto-combat, but the ultimate showdown I din manually. It proved to be relatively easy to complete.

Stat Comparisons (2015/2018)

Score: 646/875
Battles: 611/627
Difficulty: Easy/Normal
Leadership: 46,637/33,734
Level: 70/65



Nebula

2017 Nebula Award Finalists

Novel
Amberlough, Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss
Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory (Knopf; riverrun)
The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty (Orbit US)
Jade City, Fonda Lee (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor; Orbit UK 2018)

Novella
River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing)
Passing Strange, Ellen Klages (Tor.com Publishing)
And Then There Were (N-One), Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3-4/17)
Barry’s Deal, Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion Press)
All Systems Red, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette
Dirty Old Town, Richard Bowes (F&SF 5-6/17)
Weaponized Math, Jonathan P. Brazee (The Expanding Universe, Vol. 3)
Wind Will Rove”, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 9-10/17)
A Series of Steaks, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld 1/17)
A Human Stain, Kelly Robson (Tor.com 1/4/17)
Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time, K.M. Szpara (Uncanny 5-6/17)

Short Story
Fandom for Robots, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny 9-10/17)
Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM, Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex 8/17)
Utopia, LOL?, Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons 6/5/17)
Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand, Fran Wilde (Uncanny 9-10/17)
The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard), Matthew Kressel (Tor.com 3/15/17)
Carnival Nine, Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/11/17)

Northern Warriors 1

King’s Bounty: Warriors of the North (2012)

This is a sequel to King’s Bounty: The Legend (2008) and King’s Bounty: Crossworlds/Armoured Princess (2010).

Originally played in 2015 (ended January).

Score: 646
Battles: 611
Difficulty: Easy
Leadership: 46,637
Level: 70



Good Place 2.13

Episode 26 – Somewhere Else

 

Michael argues that the humans’ postmortem self-improvement, which the immortal beings thought impossible, means the afterlife system is corrupt.

Eleanor’s memory is again wiped; in a new scenario, she is saved from the accident that would have killed her; Michael and Janet monitor the behavior of all four humans.

Eventually, Eleanor travels to Australia to meet Chidi, pleasing Michael.


Well this ended in a strange place (Australia). And in the end it is all about Eleanor. This is the last episode of series 2. Series 3 has been commissioned, but where will that go ????

The whole point of this episode (and possibly the series is that people should do good things not for the ‘reward’, but because it’s the right thing to do.


Michael: No, see, I think it does prove something. If I’m right, the system by which we judge humans, the, the very method we use to deem them Good or Bad, is so fundamentally flawed and unreasonable that hundreds of millions of people have been wrongly condemned to a, an eternity of torture!

Jason: Man, think about everything that’s happened to us. We died. Michael tortured us. We teamed up with him. We escaped. We went through the portal. The Judge ruled against us. Then Michael showed up. This has been one of the craziest years of my life.

 

Wind Rising

The Wind Rises
 

The Wind Rises is a 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli.

The Wind Rises is a fictionalized biopic of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, used by the Empire of Japan during World War II. The film is adapted from Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, which was in turn loosely based on both the 1937 novel The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori and the life of Jiro Horikoshi.

The Wind Rises was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013. It won and was nominated for several awards, including nominations for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.


While beautiful to look at (even the images of war have an engaging style) this is does not have the same emotional intensity of previous Miyazaki films I have seen: ‘When Marnie Was There’ and ‘Princess Kuguya’. It’s a straight forward telling of Jiro’s story, interspersed with dream sequences featuring innovative aircraft designs.

After watching, you have to remind yourself that these were devices for destruction. The result is that the film’s theme is one of the creative impulses, even in times of war.

 

Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising

is a 2018 American science fiction film directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and written by DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, and T.S. Nowlin. It is the sequel to the 2013 film Pacific Rim, with Guillermo del Toro, director of the original, serving as a producer here.

The sequel stars John Boyega (making his producer debut) as well as Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Adria Arjona, and Zhang Jin, with Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman returning from the original film.

Set in the year 2030, the plot follows humanity needing to again fight Kaiju, giant monsters set on destroying the world.


Big bangs and crash-whollup.  Its big machines hitting each other and monsters from another dimension. Enjoyable while it lasted, but very forgettable.

 

Forbidden Island


Forbidden Island
by Jeremy Robinson (2017)

U.S. Army Ranger, Rowan Baer, is invited to provide security to a research team visiting the most dangerous island in the world–North Sentinel Island in the Sea of Bengal.
Talia Mayer, is recruited to study the island’s elusive inhabitants–the Sentinelese–who have resided on the tropical island since the dawn of mankind. Mahdi Barakat, is given little choice: join the expedition and make contact with the Sentinelese, or be left to face the men tracking him down.

As part of an expedition funded by the Indian government and supported by a local resort millionaire, the team struggles to make contact with the Sentinelese, a tribal people renowned for their violence, strange behavior, and mysterious ways. But when the expedition’s yacht strikes a reef, and sinks, the team finds themselves stranded on an island few people have ever set foot on and survived, an island that they quickly discover is home to far more than primitive tribal people.


If it wasn’t for the cover, I wouldn’t have thought this was not written by Robinson. It has a slower build to the action, the pacing is a bit slower and has less of the breathless action style normally associated with his writing.

It’s also unashamedly a horror novel. The usual aspects of science fiction and mythology are turned down and the gore factor ratcheted up.

Despite all that, it’s still a good read and will appeal more to the horror fans than the sci-fi ones.

 

 

Good Place 2.12

Episode 25 – The Burrito

The Judge’s Burrito

The four humans arrive at the Judge’s chambers. Eleanor reveals Michael’s sacrifice. The Judge, Gen, agrees to hear out Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani, and tells them they must be subjected to separate tests of their personal growth.

At their own request, they will share one fate and can only pass if all do individually. Jason fails a test of impulse control, while Tahani fails when, instructed to ignore what others think of her, she maturely confronts her parents over their lifelong cruelty towards her.

Then Michael and Janet arrive.


Chidi: Wait, you don’t already know everything about us? You’re not omniscient?
Gen: Well. Not in the way you mean. I try to learn as little as I can about the events of humankind so I can remain impartial ’cause I’m a judge, yadda yadda yadda. That being said, sometimes I get bored and I cheat a little bit. I’ve been binging Ken Burns’ Vietnam recently. It’s okay. I mean, I’m immortal, but that thing is long, you know what I’m saying?

Gen: I just absorbed the entirety of your existences, and I just wanna say, you guys are so cute! And the thing is, you didn’t file any paperwork and you have no advocate, and the rules say I gotta… [gives a thumbs-down and blows a raspberry] send you back.

“Bad” Janet: You really junked your jeans on this one, you butterface.
Michael: I did what I had to do.
“Bad” Janet: Oh, you had to junk your jeans? [high-fives Shawn]
Shawn: How could you betray your own kind like this? Who taught you how to turn a human inside-out by reaching down their throat and grabbing their butt from the inside?

Eleanor: All those ethics lessons paid off! Who ever said philosophy was stupid!
Chidi: You d-you did! Many times! As recently as this morning!

Eleanor: Oh, Jason. I feel like you always understand about twenty percent of what’s happening.
Jason: Thanks!