Speculative Fiction Saturday: Millennium Actress

millennium-actress.341I would appear that I am celebrating the anime extravaganzas of Satoshi Kon, and this time it is Millennium Actress. I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way and say that it is very similar to Perfect Blue, in that I’m not really certain what is reality when I watch this movie.

This is kind of why I like watching Kon’s films, because they are deliberately disjointed to the point where I have to look up the Wikipedia entry just to get a semblance of the plot. Often, it is difficult with films like these because I don’t know if this is just me not paying attention to the film or the filmmaker’s writing.

Here is the basic semblance of the plot: a reporter named Genya tracks down an actress named Chiyoko Fujiwara. She is an actress from when film was just becoming a great industry. Before she became an actress, she met a revolutionary who is also a painter. She helped this man to escape the authorities, and he gave her a key. Chiyoko becomes an actress in hopes that this mysterious man will see her again and track her down. I guess she loves him, or something.

So, the meeting with Genya and Chiyoko, that serves as a framing device for what would normally be a flashback storyline. What is strange is that Genya and his wisecracking reporter friend are mysteriously transported into Chiyoko’s flashback. They don’t seem to be surprised by this whatsoever.

From there, we see Chiyoko’s movie career and the films that she stars in. The strange thing is how these realities overlap each other and it is very difficult to tell what is reality, or at least the movie’s representation of it. The same technique is used in Perfect Blue, but instead of dealing with the topic of losing one’s mind, Millennium Actress is about dealing with memory.

If you have ever stopped and thought about your life, you might discover that there are a lot of inconsistencies to it. You might also discover that there is a purpose to it. In the case of Chiyoko, her purpose was chasing this mysterious man, and she never was able to properly settle down. This is one of many themes in the film, another being how life is often about the chase to get a reward, and not necessarily the reward itself.

Something tells me that more can be gained by watching this film again, and perhaps I will do that again.

No Man’s Sky is an Apparent Disappointment

If you are not familiar with No Man’s Sky, it was one of the most anticipated games of the year. It isn’t every day where someone comes out with a game where the viewer can explore about 18 qunintillion worlds. Seriously, there is no way that you can do that in your own lifetime. Is it too good to be true? Apparently, it is.

As you can see from the Angry Joe review that I put here, the game has a powerful set-up, but is ultimately disappointing. The issue is that this game is too ambitious, and many things that were promised upon the game’s announcements were not given.

At first, the player can explore a world, see new lifeforms, and leave for other planets. However, gamers were promised that there would be large space barges and factions and the player would have to choose which faction to join, but this just isn’t happening. Also, the spaceships are not as diverse as it was thought.

Then there are issues with it crashing, like all the time. This is something that I predicted when the game was about to be released, before it was delayed. It appeared that the delays didn’t help this game.

Now it is possible that hello Games, publisher of No Man’s Sky, is working hard to fix these problems. With a little DLC updates, it could be pretty good. However, is it worth the full price for something not finished?

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Perfect Blue

Perfect BlueOkay, I often don’t review anime, and I can’t say that Perfect Blue is speculative fiction. However, this is one film that is just so very interesting that I have to write about it.

Perfect Blue was directed by Satoshi Kon, who passed away in 2010, and left behind many great animated films. I haven’t seen them all, but I remember seeing Paprika many years ago and still not getting it.

I believe that these are the films I need to see right now. The ones that are very confusing, and have no sense of closure. I think we as audiences have adapted to a certain method of storytelling, and if any movie can get away with going against it, that is good. Unless every film ends up like this.

Perfect Blue is about a Japanese pop star named Mima, and she has decided to transition into being an actress. Like most pop stars that try this, she overcompensates and shows up in some “dark” films.

This is where the film gets really confusing. Mima then begins to appear on a show which is about a murderer with a dual personality, which actually describes her to a T. If this is what is happening, in all honesty, I can’t really tell what is real and what isn’t in this film. The storyline of the film is structured in such a way that it is really difficult to tell, honestly.

This film bears a strong resemblance to another film known as Black Swan, which I haven’t reviewed, but it is about a ballerina who is losing her grip on reality. This film came out before that in 1997, and I guessed this because it shows a world just being introduced to the the Internet. So yeah, it is a little dated, but there is something about this film that just works.

Stephen King’s ‘It’ and ‘The Dark Tower’ Release Dates and News

pennywise-ew-00054120_612x380It looks like 2017 is going to be the year of Stephen King adaptations. Considering that the horror author has had many done in his name with some good and some bad, it looks like some of his best and well-known works are going to made into films. The first that is coming is The Dark Tower with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, and it is a planned trilogy that will be quite epic in scale. The second is It, which is also an epic, but more on a classic horror story level. This is what is known about The Dark Tower and It release date and news.

There is news about The Dark Tower, as CinemaBlend reports that the planned trilogy is filming. This actually answers questions about The Dark Tower adaptation that many have had. If you are not familiar with it, it is a series of eight books that King wanted to be his magnum opus. It is strange to see the story being compacted into three movies, and one can’t help but wonder what is the plan.

After all, are they filming all three films at once, like The Lord of the Rings, or filming one film, hope that it is a hit, and then wait to film the other two? This really is a problem when you have to deal with connected universes and whatnot.

Fans will have some kind of first look at Entertainment Weekly’s PopFest from October 29th and 30th, and hopefully that will be some kind of big huge shot in the arm as far as publicity for this movie is concerned.

Then there is another Stephen King film coming out, and it is It. That is, this is the title of the film, and it is essentially a remake. It is an adaptation of a very long book from King (over 1,000 pages), and it was made into a TV mini-series back in 1990. Back in that mini-series, the main villain was a child killing clown played by Tim Curry.

What you are seeing here is a photo of the new Pennywise the Clown, who is played by Bill Skarsgard. If you are not familiar with the story, Pennywise is this demonic entity who hibernates for decades, but awakes to kill children. The story is about a group of kids from the fifties who stopped the killer clown, only to have to reunite in the eighties to stop him once again.

What isn’t known is whether or not the new version of It will take place in the fifties or eighties as some period piece, or perhaps the script will go into an entirely different direction. The clown costume is perhaps a modernized update of the scary clown costume.

The first of these Stephen King adaptations to be released is The Dark Tower, showing up on February 17, 2017. As far as It is concerned, it is coming out on September 8, 2017.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Little Prince

the-little-prince_1sheet_20-041I don’t know how many people have heard of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s most famous work of The Little Prince before, but this film, which was made overseas and adopted by Netflix, is going to put it on the map. It certainly will get people to read translations of the famous French work, but the might be surprised that it is nothing like this adaptation.

The most obvious thing that I can say about this adaptation is that it is nothing like the source material. The description that you will find on Netflix discusses the framing device that this adaptation used to present this classic tale, and I would have to say that it works.

The story the film goes with is about a young girl who has one of those moms that wants to give her daughter the best of education so they will become so very successful. The little girl isn’t really interested, and she becomes distracted by this aviator who lives next door. This aviator has this house that looks like the one from Up, but even more quirky.

By the way, this gal lives in a neighborhood where every house is exactly the same, and it looks very gray and sterile. It feels like this film is trying a bit to hard to show something, but it least it doesn’t preach it by telling us.

This girl visits the aviator, and some bad stuff happens. No, this isn’t that kind of story, but honestly, if you knew that your daughter had a friendship with an old man, you might suspect something bad was going on.

Anyway, the aviator’s friendship involves him telling the little girl stories about how he crashed in the desert, and met this young boy, who came from another planet. In this world, planets are rocks that you can walk around, and you can fly around using birds. I think Jimmy Neutron had ore realistic physics, honestly.

Now, the stories that the aviator tells the girl are right from the book, which is about an aviator who crashes in the desert and meets a little boy from another world. So this movie is essentially a sequel to The Little Prince, the book, so this could actually be called The Little Prince 2.

The movie attempts to continue the story established in the book. I will have to say that the story then gets very fantastic, and that is saying something for something that takes place in the universe of The Little Prince.

I will have to say that I didn’t like this film because I am a purist who doesn’t think you should change a story, particularly one that is well-established like The Little Prince. My first encounter with this story took place when I was in French class in high school, and I read it twice, in French. I am not really certain what the book was actually about, theme-wise. I suppose that the story is about how we lost our inner child, and other various things that have since become psycho-babble.

This movie does have a good theme as well, about clinging to that which is important, even though it is not material things. This film does give you a good case of “the feels”, which is a lot like some of Pixar’s best work like Inside Out. So, if you are willing to ignore The Little Prince book, and except what this film is, it works.

Our Review of the Game “Bear With Me”

Bear with MeWell, here’s another game review, and this Bear With Me game is quite unusual. The gameplay isn’t really original, as it is a typical RPG game, where you are wandering around a certain place, picking up items, interacting with characters, but the setting is what makes this unique.

Bear With Me takes place in a very film noir world. If you aren’t familiar with that style, it usually involves a seedy characters in a seedy setting in a bad part of town. The main character is usually a private detective, in search of justice.

What makes it interesting is how the main character of this game is a little girl named Amber, who has a stuffed animal named Ted E. Bear. What is interesting is that there are other stuff animals that are alive in this black-and-white world, and there is even a robot guardian.

This might be a bit of a spoiler, but what is interesting is that one of Amber’s friends is murdered. The body is a stuffed animal with its stuffing on the outside, and it really puts this world into perspective At first, I thought Amber’s world was some kind of mix of magic realism mixed with film noir, but I realize now that some of this plotline is taking place within Amber’s imagination.

There seems to be some kind of plotline going on with Amber and her missing brother. Apparently, her missing brother is happening in real life, and I’m not certain what else is happening in real life. It feels like something bad is happening in this world, and I can’t help but think that the parents are trying to keep Amber out of some kind of trouble that is really happening in this world.

This is what makes this world different from other RPG games. There is some kind of other story that isn’t being told that I don’t really know, and kind of draws me in.

I will have to say that I found the puzzles of this game quite simple. In fact, I found that the characters were really telegraphing the solutions to puzzles even before I even saw that they were going to be problems. I still got stuck in a few places.

The game also makes fun of RPG games, as it will occasionally break the fourth wall and talk about how dumb RPG cliches are.

I really liked playing this game, and you can get Bear With Me on Steam for about $4.99.

TiVo Roamio OTA DVR

tivo roamio_ota_frontI’ve had a fun time reviewing TiVo products, with my review of the TiVo Bolt, and it has changed the way that I watch TV. It is high time for my review of the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR, which is made for those who want to experience the TiVo experience on antenna TV.

Now, I am not familiar with an HD antenna, but it is apparently a thing. For those who have been using the HD antenna, the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR is able to give users one terabyte of recording, which is about 150 HD hours. For those who want to do SkipMode, this will do it, so you don’t get to see commercials. Oh, and you will have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube.

It also includes OnePass, which can track every available season and episode of a show. So if you want to watch an entire program, it is possible. There is also QuickMode, which allows for skipping through shows at a 30 percent faster rate.

So yes, it has all of the TiVo features that make a TiVo a TiVo. What is interesting is how even though it is antenna only, there is this thing on back that allows me to open it up. Now, I have the TiVo Bolt, and this is the spot where the cable card is inserted. Granted, the cable-card doesn’t have a cradle, but I made a transfer from the Bolt. It didn’t take.

Here’s the thing: when I set up the Roamio on my TV, it gave the option of setting it up for cable. I called the company to see if I could set it up for cable, and they said no. So what gives? Did TiVo make this thing and say: “Nah, we don’t need no stinking cable”.

You should be able to purchase the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR here on the TiVo site. Just to let you know, you might be able to get a cheaper version of it. Speaking of cheap, there is no subscription cost.

Active Edge Survival Straps: Regular Survival Bracelet, Fish Tail

Active EdgeWe have reported on Active Edge stuff before, such as the shirt that can make you healthier. Apparently, Active Edge makes these Survival Straps bracelets made of paracord.

If you haven’t heard of paracord, then you must be missing out. Seriously, there is some kind of fad on paracord, so if you ever are in a mess, you can just pull some paracord off your bracelet and use it. This is what I am assuming what it is, otherwise paracord has become some kind of fashion accessory.

The Fish Tail Survival Bracelet is made to be “super stylish and expedition ready”. Apparently, there is about 15 feet of 550 feet military spec paracord. Apparently, if you actually use it, then it will be replaced free in exchange of the story and the rights to publish it, and all you need to do is pay for shipping.

This bracelet can be purchased on the Survival Straps site for about $24.99.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Robot Overlords

Robot OverlordsOkay, I’m not certain why I have never heard of a film known as Robot Overlords, but what do you think a film like that would be about? If you said that a bunch of robots take over, you would be right!

If you are wondering why you have never heard of this film, I am guessing it is because it probably didn’t have a big release. That’s actually too bad, because this film isn’t really that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it is Terminator 2, but it has just enough to take seriously, yet is just enough fun.

The film opens with a creepy kid who is apparently a robot. He says that robots have been sent from who knows where to study the people of Earth. There is apparently only one rule, which is humans stay inside while the overlords study them. This is an interesting concept, but there are some things that raise a lot of questions. If these Robot Overlords wanted to study humans, shouldn’t they be just watching while humans are doing their thing? I mean, if a group of scientists were to study some lions in the jungle, they wouldn’t tell them to stay in certain parts of the jungle.

Also, if people are inside all the time, how do they get food? Do their Robot Overlords deliver them pizza every night? Anyway, he film shows that humans have these tracking devices affixed to them, and the beginning shows a father just going nuts. He ventures outside his house, and a Robot Overlord vaporizes him. The film then focuses on a group of kids who one day shock themselves, which shuts off their trackers.

The kids take advantage of the broken transmitters and have fun in the city. From there, they decide that they want to form some kind of resistance against the Robot Overlords. Okay, I’m really getting tired of title-dropping here. Spoilers after the jump.

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Video Game Review of “Road to Ballhalla”

Road to BallhallaJust to let you know, Road to Ballhalla is an interesting game, but I’m not certain how to describe this. In fact, I didn’t even really know what screen shot to use.

Just to let you know, in the screenshot that you see here, you are the smaller ball. This is one of those games where you are some kind of ball, marble, or other rolling object, and then go through an obstacle course. The last game that I reviewed like this was Marble Mountain, which I just realized I called Marble Madness in the title. You can’t really blame me, as the game is like that eighties game.

Road to Ballhalla has more of a 2D thing going as you can roll through what looks like one of those rat mazes. The thing is if rats had to deal with lasers and other obstacles, they would probably…well, I’m not certain what the rats would do, isn’t that why we do experiments on them?

What is very interesting is that Road to Ballhalla has a terrific tutorial with a tongue firmly in its cheek. I have to say this is a pretty unique take on a gaming convention, and it works to the game’s credit.

For those who want to try this game out, it is possible to purchase it on Steam for about $14.99. There is a special going on for $13.49 at 10 percent off, but that could have expired by the time you read this.