Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Legend of Korra

the legend of KorraThose of you who might remember my Avatar: The Last Airbender, might remember that I believe that I wished that all series were like that one. My expectations were high when I saw there was going to be a follow-up to the series with The Legend of Korra.

This is the biggest problem that I have with The Legend of Korra is I am constantly comparing it to Avatar: The Last Airbender. It just doesn’t compare, as the series practically take place in different universes. It seemed pretty creative as the world of Avatar grew up. While Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place on a world with mostly medieval technology in an age of empire, The Legend of Korra takes place in an age where industry and modern politics are just beginning. I’m not certain when Korra takes place in comparison to the first Avatar series, but the Avatar has died, and another has risen to take Aang’s place. This is Korra, and I won’t bother explaining how the Avatar system works. Go watch the first show for that.

The show fails on the opening scene. Korra is a young lady who has mastered fire, water, and earth, but not air. Considering that it took three seasons of the first Avatar show for him to master the four elements, it seems odd that Korra has all but one from the get go. A friend of mine pointed that out to me, and now I can’t un-see it.

Korra must learn air-bending from Tenzin, the son of Aang. Korra is pretty headstrong, and meets up with friends firebender Mako and earthbender Bolin. The first season is Korra taking on a foe known as Amon, who leads a group known as the Equalists. They want to remove bending from people, and this storyline is entirely self-contained. Seriously, you could just stop watching after season 1, and I wonder if the creative team didn’t know if they were going to get another.

Season 2 is called Spirits, because all the other elements (fire, water, air, and water) were taken. Korra must take on her uncle Unalaq, who has a plan to unite the spirit world with the real one. Oh, he also becomes the “dark avatar”, and there is a two-part episode that reveals the origin of how the avatar came to be. It’s not bad.

When it comes to Season 3, it gets a little bit more interesting. There is a group of villains led by Zaheer, who tried to kidnap the Avatar in the past and breaks himself and his friends out of prison to finish the job. There is also the rebuilding of the air-benders, which is an interesting sub-plot on the show as the air-benders and Korra’s group must work together to stop Zaheer and his evil gang. It’s probably the most fun season.

Season 4 is a final nail in the coffin. The main villain is Kuvira, a military leader who wants to unite the Earth kingdom, whether they like it or not. This storyline is kind of like the first TV series, but instead of the firebenders taking over the world, it’s the earthbenders. This somehow ends with team Avatar taking on a giant twenty-story robot with a death ray. Yeah, it’s not as awesome as it sounds, and the ending feels worse.

My final verdict on The Legend of Korra is this. I remember when I watched the live action The Last Airbender, and thinking that I shouldn’t have watched it, that I should have been satisfied with just the animated series. As time went on, I started to hate The Last Airbender movie because it was an terrible abbreviation of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. As I said before, I can’t stop comparing The Legend of Korra with Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it just pales in comparison. I would love to say that The Legend of Korra stands on its own two feet, but its too steeped in its own mythology to do that.

Kensington SecureBack rugged Case for the iPad Air/iPad Air 2

KensingtonI’ve reviewed a lot of Kensington products in the past, and the SecureBack Rugged Carry Case for the iPad Air/iPad Air 2 is another one.

What you are looking at is some “Maximum Protection”, which will have a cushioned layer of rubber surrounding the Apple iPad to protect from drops and bumps. There is also a rubberized texture to make the case easier to hold and preventing any sliding on a table and desk.

Included with this package is a Rotating Hand Strap and Shoulder Strap. The strap is good in case you need both hands free, but there is a Rotating Hand Strap so you can use the iPad with just one hand. There is also a ClickSafe lock (sold separately) in order to deter theft.

You should be able to purchase the SecureBack Rugged Carry Case for the iPad Air/iPad Air 2 on the Kensington site for about $99.99.

Odallus: The Dark Call, and Interesting Game

OdallusI have to admit that I didn’t grow up with Nintendo, as I just didn’t own one when I was in high school. I know that shows how old I am, but I remember the Atari 2600. I missed the era of Ghosts’n Goblins, Demon’s Crest, and Castlevania, and I believe that Odallus: The Dark Call pays homage to these games.

When I played Odallus on Steam, and it is one of those games that is a side-scroller, and you are going through some dungeon-like atmosphere and kill bad guys. On the way, you can pick up thinks to help you on the way, like keys and food and stuff.

I believe the description of this genre is an exploration/action game, and you play a warrior named Haggis. Yeah, that is a Scottish dish, which shows that this is kind of a tongue-and-cheek take on these classic games.

I will have to say that I found this game is hard, as I had to do the jump and attack on my keyboard, and I just kept getting them mixed up. I can only give myself a certain amount of time to test video games, but I wish I had more time to master this one.

You should be able to purchase Odallus: The Dark Call for about $14.99 on Steam.

The difference between Marvel and DC’s Cinematic Universes

marvel and dc cinematic universesOkay, when Marvel introduced Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man back in 2008, this was the beginning of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. What happened afterward was somewhat awkward with Iron Man 2, but it introduced us to Thor’s hammer. From Thor, there was Captain America, which led to the Avengers. After that, it was Guardians of the Galaxy, with Thor 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the next Avengers movie.

These films have made billions. Marvel is really making money hand over fist, and there are plans for Guardians 2, two Avengers movies, at least another X-men movie, more Spider-man, and much more. What we are seeing is something that we haven’t seen before since the age of Universal monster movies, where Dracula meets Frankenstein, the Mummy meets the Wolfman, and anything else to get people in the seats. The idea of making not one movie, but a movie that is just a link in a chain of a bigger story is really making audiences have a commitment to a story.

DC has not had much luck on this regard. The Nolan Batman trilogy made quite a big of money, but the last one really couldn’t hold up to the mammoth success of The Dark Knight. That movie really should have kicked off DC’s Cinematic Universe, but Man of Steel didn’t really meet expectations. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice could change that, but the universe it is creating is pretty dark.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, it is a film that shows Batman fighting Superman. Apparently, the good guys don’t fight the Joker or Lex Luthor, but each other. The battle is meant to hearken back to the classic Frank Miller story The Dark Knight Returns, which is a story where Batman is in a dystopian future that is so bleak that he comes out of retirement to stop it. The new Batman v Superman movie seems to show a future where Superman is perceived as threat, and it all boils down to a one-on-one fight.

The trailer for this film was on display at Comic-Con, and there was another leaked trailer for Suicide Squad. This is a DC Universe film about a group of superheroes that aren’t heroes, but villains. This is from a comic about villains who go on black ops missions to compensate for time in jail. This film feels very gritty, possibly R-Rated, and it will have the Joker in it. It will also have Batman in it, and something tells me that what we could be looking at is some kind of crossover story. I have heard there is a solo Batman film, and a Justice League film as well. This is not to mention Wonder Woman and The Flash.

So, it seems like Marvel might be looking to make movies with their heroes that might be PG-13, but appropriate for kids. It looks like DC movies are getting darker, and might be made for adults. If DC is smart, then they will make their movies to fit well together like Marvel kind of does.

In short, I used to think that DC didn’t have a chance at the box office, but if they do it well, then people will not want Marvel movies.

What is up with San Diego Comic-Con?

Batman v SupermanOkay, I’m going to talk about something that seems to be very geeky. I will also admit that I have no practical experience with it. You have heard me talk about how I have attended various conventions like CES, PAX, and MomoCon, but I have never been to Comic-Con.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Comic-Con is like the ultimate convention. I have heard some comic-book writers that the one in San Diego is the convention. The issue is when I hear about it now, comics are never what is in the spotlight.

Apparently, Hollywood believes that Comic-Con is a place where they can promote the latest movie or even TV show. This year, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie (I didn’t abbreviate this title with a “v”, that is in the film’s title) was prominently on display, and there was a whole great trailer to go with it. Clearly, you would want to promote that as these characters are deep into source material.

However, I hear things like Game of Thrones will have a panel there. What does that have to do with comics? Sure, it’s epic fantasy, and even inspired from books, but not graphic novels. I suppose that I am being a purist on this, but is it possible that it is just that comics, science-fiction, and video games just form a certain kind of crowd that Comic-Con just caters to?

If so, then what does that make people who love this stuff? Do we have to be typecast as these type of people? If so, should we embrace it and be proud to be a geek?

Hopefully next year, I will attend Comic-con, and I’ll want to report from the front lines about all the culture that is there, not to mention the cosplay. We shall see.

myCharge StylePower 2000mAh Portable Charger

myCharge Style PowerOf course, I am reviewing another mobile battery, because these things are just that popular. This one my myCharge is the PowerStyle, and it does give the mobile battery some style.

It looks like it is made to fit in your pocket, but has a great style. It has a 2000 mAh worth of power, which allows it to be used for about 500 times. That might not be a lot, but if the power saves your butt, it is worth it.

The PowerStyle is made to fit in a USB port, and then it has a female USB port that you can connect your charging cord to it. From there, you have the power.

All right, there really isn’t much more that I can say about this. You can get it for a low price on the $19.99 on the myCharge site.

Speculative Fiction Friday: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_posterOkay, I’m not really certain that I can classify this as a speculative fiction film, as at its heart, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy-fi film. I discussed when I reviewed The Avengers (the movie based on a British TV show, not the Marvel one) how there is a terrific spy-fi genre that isn’t really around now. Shows like The Prisoner and certain James Bond movies often had the same elements of spy-fi like a meglomaniac who wants to rule or destroy the world, quirky side characters, and skillful and alluring heroes. They also had very groovy setpieces. About the only spy-fi of its type I have found similar to it is the Austin Powers series, and they are more parody than anything.

Kingsman is based on a comic book by Mark Millar. If you aren’t familiar with this man, he created a few comics that have become movies, like Kick-Ass and Wanted. I don’t read a lot of modern day comics, but Wanted is an excellent comic about an ordinary man who becomes a super-villain. I didn’t like this movie version, but the comic is probably one of the best that I have read, but it is also quite violent and sexual. This is the biggest problem that I had with this movie that I otherwise wanted to love.

Let me start by explaining the premise. There is a super-secret agency who operates independently to keep the world safe for democracy. This organization, the Kingsman, has a complex backstory that is explained in an elevator, but there is a leader named Arthur (Michael Caine), a gadget master named Merlin (Mark Strong), and you can see the Camelot influence. This could be a James Bond movie with M and Q respectively, and many have said that Kingsman: The Secret Service is what would happen if Quentin Tarantino directed a James Bond movie.

That is a pretty good comparison, and I will talk about this more later. The film follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a character who had a father who was a Kingsman. Eggsy’s father and friend is Gallahad, played by Colin Firth, and Gallahad recruits Eggsy when he gets him into trouble. rom there, the film suddenly becomes Men in Black as it follows Eggsy as he is recruited as the new Kingsman.

It is pretty obvious that Eggsy is going to be the hero, and the recruitment is very hardcore. Seriously, there is a scene where the recruits’ bunkhouse is flooded, and one of the recruits dies. This seems pretty needlessly dramatic, and this is one of the complaints that I have about the film. I’m going to share more about this after the jump.

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Replay: VHS is not dead Review

ReplayI will have to admit that this game was difficult for me, and I’ll have to describe it as best as I can. The game is about a man who returns some videos, and there is kind of an eighties anime vibe going on. The woman behind the counter is attractive but gets unkind when customers don’t rewind. Anyway, the man has some serious magic realism going on as he gets transported into the movies he’s watching.

The game then becomes playing as two characters, and you have to switch characters to complete the levels. The switching is about rewinding, so you have to plan out your movements beforehand. Man, this is hard to describe, and I don’t know if I can recommend this because I just had a hard time with it.

Generally, I play a game for a little while, but I had a hard time getting into this one. According to the game, a left mouse click should do something, but it doesn’t. The R button makes the rewind happen, but is this how to win the game? In all honesty, I was a little confused.

Perhaps this is why Replay: VHS isn’t dead works, is because it is very different than other games. It has a retro feel as well, which is very popular amongst players. This is a puzzle game, make no mistake about that, and it can be found on Steam now.

Anna’s Quest: One of the finest point-and-clicks that I ever played

Anna's QuestI have reviewed a lot of point-and-clicks on this blog. I honestly don’t want to put the last ones I wrote about, because I just don’t want to put links in there. Oh wait, one of them was Dead Synchronicity, which was also by Daedalic Entertainment. I don’t know if I was just in a good mood when I started playing Anna’s Quest, but I just could not stop playing it on the last Fourth of July weekend.

It is very clear that Deadalic Entertainment was definitely inspired by the King’s Quest series with this game. The thing is that they took Sierra Online’s series and took it into a darker and more mature level while still maintaining a kid-friendly game.

The game starts out with a little girl named Anna, who acts like a little girl without ever straying into annoying territory. She finds herself kidnapped by a witch named Winfriede, and she has a machine to do experiments on Anna.

As you can see, this game strays into dark territory, but never gets too dark. Also, this game apparently takes place in fairy tale times, but there is a machine there. I’ve seen this done in other medium, like usually comedies like Shrek, where modern technology is mixed with fantasy. I don’t know why, but this actually works.

As we follow Anna through her adventures, we see that she meets a lot of people who are extremely well-developed characters. That is, they are more than just people who deliver exposition and information, there is a serious mythos to this game.

Anyway, the reason why Anna is being watched by this witch (which is pretty disturbing) is she has telekinesis. This gives a “third option” element to the game. Most point and click games allow you to see an item and use items, the telekinetic aspect gives Anna the power to manipulate things out of reach, not to mention people at certain times.

Anna’s Quest is to attempt to find a cure for her grandfather, who is very ill of…something. Like most point-and-click games, you have to go someplace to get something, which will then lead to more puzzles.

Without revealing too much, there are about five parts to the game, and they are essentially drawn out puzzles of finding. As you go about the game, Anna meets characters and sees events that show up on level 5, which is a flashback level from the villain’s point-of-view. From there, there is an understanding of the villain in this game. Seriously, there is a sympathetic villain in this game.

I would have to say that the story of Anna’s Quest isn’t perfect, and there is an element of the ending that I didn’t really like, but this is the first time that I have felt the game is story-driven rather than with action.

I might actually play this game again just to revisit this cool world. You can find it on Steam for $19.99.

Biologic AnchorPoint Bar Mount and SportCase for the iPhone 6

BioLogic_AnchorPoint_Bar_Mount_Portrait-600x600I had to try out Biologic products, two of them, actually. the first is the AnchorPoint Bar Mount for bikes and the SportsCase for the iPhone 6.

We’ll go to the BioLogic AnchorPoint Bar Mount, and it is made of durable nylon, with some mount clamps for BioLogic phone cases and bags. It is made for all those people who love to have a smartphone on their bike for the Maps program or anything else.

The AnchorPoint Bar Mount has spring-loaded positive stop screw locks in order to lock the phone in place. It also has flat and 10 degree angled mount bases that allow flexible placement on bike stems and handlebars.

You should be able to purchase the BioLogic AnchorPoint Bar Mount on the BioLogic site for about $19.95.

SportsCase iPhone 6Then there is the SportsCase which is lightweight and comfortably slim, and has advanced protection with a tough hard shell made of thermoplastic rubber.

As you can see, this SportsCase is made for all kinds of phones, like the iPhone 6, and it can work with the the Bar Mount. It is all about the non-slip texturing so it doesn’t fall out of your hand as well.

If you are interested in the SportsCase for the iPhone 6 Case, you should be able to get it for $34.95 on the BioLogic site.