Thursday, August 24, 2017

Random Thoughts On... The Highlander Franchise

“From the dawn of time we came…moving silently down through the centuries. Living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering, when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you…..until now.”

This monologue from Sean Connery started off a franchise that was popular in its time: Highlander. Whether it was a good franchise is a matter of debate, though. A few months ago, I started to wonder if there was a podcast about the Highlander series out there. By the way, thank From Crisis To Crisis: A Superman Podcast for that. Every April Fool’s Day, they do a parody review of something else instead of a Superman comic book. This year, it was an episode from the Highlander TV show. It took some searching, but I found one by the name of Highlander Re-Watched. Since then, I’ve been catching up on all of their episodes about the series and movies.

For those who probably don’t know, Highlander was a 1986 movie about Connor MacLeod, a 16th century Scotsman born in the Highlands. He belongs to a race of Immortals who battle each other throughout time. When the battle is over, the loser gets beheaded and the winner gains their strength and essence through the Quickening. When the last Immortal on Earth is left, he or she will earn “The Prize,” something that is kind of vague.

The movie was pretty much a standalone, done-in-one thing since Connor wins the prize. Then, four movie sequels, two live-action TV shows, an animated TV show, an anime,  a few comic series, and a few (some cancelled) video games came. Since I’ve been a sword-faring mood (Renaissance Festival and Witcher 3 play), I thought I’d finally share my thoughts on the franchise as a whole.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Favorites - 11 Villainous Characters Gone Good

“Everyone loves a good redemption story.”

I don’t know who said the quote, but it's a true one. While we sometimes like seeing folk be bad, we also like seeing them go good. You can look everywhere for this common trope as well. This list was actually what started the whole thing. I didn’t have to think hard about which heroic figures have gone evil, though. I did have to put a little more thought into this one. While some names popped into my head easily, others took a minute. These aren't necessarily my favorite characters and it’s not in any order, so let’s start off with someone really random.

1. Sami Brady (Days of Our Lives)
I know you’re looking at me weird, so let me explain. When I was younger, my grandmother was an avid watcher of Days of Our Lives. Guess what we more or less had to watch at about 2pm? We didn’t have another TV, so I had to do something with that time! If you’re wondering, no, I’m not a DOOL fan. I haven’t watched the show in years. I do glance at it at the YMCA if it's showing, though. Even though I’m not a fan, I can say I got fond memories of it. Sami wasn’t necessarily one of them.

To put it nicely, she was one… witch. She was usually scheming to get some dude. I think one of them was named Austin. Even when she got the dude, she’d screw it up somehow. She was pretty much the jealous sister of the show. After some time, I do remember her becoming less of a witch and turning into a somewhat nice person. I guess the writers or actress got tired of that constant role of villainess. I don’t know if she stayed that way since soap operas are a lot like comic books. I can say that Alison Sweeney did a good job with that role. The fact that I remember her says something. 

2. Vegeta (Dragonball Z)
I think it’s time to swerve away from the odd and look at “The Prince of all Saiyans!” When Vegeta came onto the scene, he was a straight-up bad guy. No one can doubt that. I don’t think anyone can forget what happened to poor Nappa, aka “Mr. Clean with a ‘Stache.” Even after his time on Namek where he allied with the heroes, he wasn’t a good dude. Vegeta was obsessed with being better than Goku and he even did some really stupid things because of his Sayian pride. When you let the evil android get stronger instead of taking him out earlier, you’re not exactly good, are you?

Even when Goku returned for the World Tournament years later, he was still a douche. He let himself be taken over by Babadi (some green thing?) and went on a rampage. It wasn’t until his own son was in danger that he actually began to look heroic. He sacrificed himself to take out Majin Buu and even though that Pepto Bismal-looking thing didn’t die, it was a noble sacrifice. Like all characters in the DBZ universe, he did come back but he came back different. He even put an end to his rivalry with Goku.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Favorites - 10 Heroic Characters Gone Bad

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”

This quote from Batman: The Killing Joke says a lot about heroes or good people who go down a dark path. Sometimes, an event will happen in their lives that will irrevocably change them. Mostly, they can find the way to keep their wits and continue to fight the good fight. Heck, how has someone like Spider-Man not gone totally dark after what’s happened to him? Other times, they fall so far off the wagon, you wonder if they were even on the wagon to begin with. You’ll see this trope everywhere in movies, TV, books, and video games. So, here are some good characters that turned dark. They’re not necessarily in order either.

1. Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars)
That’s right, folks. One of the best villains in movie history was once one of the good guys. It always has to start like that, don’t it? Even though the prequels weren’t perfect, they and Star Wars: Clone Wars showed how a “mostly good” Jedi would go evil. Because of Palpatine’s influence and Anakin’s own fears, he became Darth Vader and helped tighten the Empire’s grip for years. I’ll touch on his ultimate end next time, though.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"It's a Video Game!" - Mass Effect: Andromeda

“Space: the final frontier. This is the voyage of the Survey Ship Tempest. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Ryder has gone before… and no, I ain’t just talking about dating a hot asari either!”

Well, it has come to this. When I heard that another Mass Effect game was on the way, I was stoked. The Mass Effect trilogy is one of my favorite video game series. I think every ME fan was throwing that “my body is ready” meme around or something. Then, as we started to see more of it through trailers and gameplay, the excitement started to die down. Also add reports of things going on behind the scenes. Then, the game was actually released. The reception was pretty mixed overall. Some liked it while others thought it was really flawed for what Bioware is known for.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was released during March this year. The reports and videos about the game did leave me worried, so I thought I’d wait until those game patches got released. Besides, I’m an adult with bills to pay, so it had to wait. I did rent it through Redbox first to see how the game actually was. Later, I finally bought the game along with the latest Witcher game. I’m playing that now and… well, I’ll keep my opinion on whether it’s better than MEA. After over 70 hours of gameplay, what did I think of this spinoff?
The Many Faces of Ryell Ryder. I played around with some looks and they worked for the most part. I did have that weird gaze that everyone has, though.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place roughly 600 years after the original trilogy. In 2185 (between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3), the major races came together and formed the Andromeda Initiative. The plan was to make a one-way trip in four giant ships (arks) and the Nexus (their version of the Citadel) to the Andromeda galaxy and explore new planets. 20,000 citizens from each race (human, krogan, turian, and asari) volunteered for this undertaking and they were all put to cryogenic sleep for the long, 600-year trip.  One of the leaders of the Initiative was Alec Ryder, a former Alliance soldier and one of the Pathfinders for this undertaking.
Daddy Ryder!

You’ll either play as Sara or Scott Ryder, Alec’s children. When the Hyperion (humanity’s ark) makes it to the galaxy, they run into trouble. Hey, it’s the Mass Effect universe, so you know things will go bad. It turns out that the planets that the races are supposed colonize aren’t perfect. Add new threats, new races, and infighting with your people into the mix.  Top all of that off with something happening to Alec and you are made humanity’s Pathfinder, the one who’s supposed to lead the colonization of these planets. With a new ship and new crew, you’ll have to brave space and make the Heleaus Cluster a viable place to settle.