A Culture In Need of ENJOYABLE Books

Talking with some other #pulprev friends today, one of the best points brought up about stories in video games is that players often focus on the story because they don’t read. I’ve made this point numerous times regarding video games and stories within them – if your goal is to tell a tight story, a game is not a very good medium. Gameplay is the art that is unique to games; this doesn’t mean you SHOULDN’T tell a story with a game, it just means that if your primary goal is a traditional, highly constructed story, you are better off…

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Aesthetics MATTER

I’ve been travelling lately, so I’ve missed some on-point commentary by my contemporaries. Alexander, who I’ve had on NewPub Talk before, nails it once again: Within that article is one things that I’ve been trying to hammer for years: Aesthetics Matter. Aesthetics are powerful. Aesthetics have meaning. They aren’t just arbitrary window dressing, as some post-modern critics would have you believe. My YouTube subs often take exception to my heavy weighing of Aesthetics as a category when I review movies and games, but I often feel like I give them too little weight. Good aesthetic presentation can save a sub-par…

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The Diversity War never Ends

It doesn’t matter how much you shut out men. It doesn’t matter how concentrated alternative lifestyle adherents are in your industry. They will always call for more. You are in an eternal state of sin for the color of your skin. Take note of this. Not only are the goalposts shifting, there were never any goalposts to begin with; or rather, the goals are different than what they say they are and aren’t actually on the field. The point of pretending there are goalposts is to get you to play the game they want you to play. If your industry…

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Beauty in Art is the Reverence of God

I’ll try to give my broadest, most robust theory behind beauty in art: Beauty in art is the iteration of God’s creation. Yes, this is Platonic. When a painter paints a portrait of a beautiful woman, he is iterating God’s creation directly. If he is painting a woman that is born of his own imagination, he is painting an iteration of the concept of female beauty, which is revealed through God’s creation. This extends to music. Beautiful music is a display of the perfect mathematics that underly God’s creation – an ordering of pitches over time according to mathematical relationships.…

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Stylization and Aesthetics

Rob Liefeld sells comics. His detractors are often at a loss to explain why, and while Rob is one of the most lambasted artists in comics, he continues to be successful. I got this impressive cover off of an extensive article dedicated to bashing Rob. Rob sells comics because he sells style. His images are not intended to be realistic, but grotesque. They stand out and make you pay attention. The heroes are bigger. The guns are bigger. The swords are swordier. It’s something other artists could learn from. At the same time, though, the complaint regarding technical issues is…

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Disney Star Wars may provoke an artistic renaissance

Not because it’s good. Oh no, it was very, very far from good. And yet it may be the shock that wakes people up from the cultural stupor of the corporate period and gets them to either stop consuming entirely (starvation) or gets them to look at non-corporate alternatives, most of which are fare more original and better executed than the drivel that has been pooped out by Disney the last few years. That incentive could drive lots of money – and therefore talent – back to writing classic stories. The meta-narrative of Disney Wars, which has primarily been about…

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The Material Mind – What makes a mind “alive”?

I detailed in a recent Star Wars Mandalorian analysis a rare entry into the the true science fiction space in the mighty space opera franchise. In the final episode of the first season, a droid character acts as though he is sapient, even making moral calculations, but at the same time denies that he is alive. This becomes important when the Mandalorian, who never removes his helmet in front of living beings due to an oath, allows the droid to remove his helmet and treat a life-threatening wound. This creates some dissonance with the titular character – he has come…

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Creating Plot Points on the Micro Level (Lined Paper)

I wrote Lined Paper after giving a short piece of advice on how to pace scenes so that they keep the interest of the reader: Hey David, how should I think about control “tempo” in writing? I’m bad at explaining things but I’m trying to write my NaNo and when I go back and look at stuff, I see that the scenes I like have a lot more detail in them and come across as slower, and the ones I’m more unsure about almost look like summaries of what happened than being, uh.. “present” in what is happening? Sorry if that…

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Black Panther: Review and Analysis

Production Aesthetics – 9/10 Tribal African inspired sets and costumes are eclectic, but effective, and always visually interesting. This film is superior in aesthetic value to the majority of superhero flicks, presenting things that are rooted in the familiar, yet unfamiliar, as opposed to Thor, which is much more fantastical compared to the Norse aesthetics that supposedly inspired it.   Cinematography and Special Effects – 8/10 The special effects are generally very effective, but there are plenty of seams to be found within the impressive visuals, from odd-looking war rhinos to CG stuntmen that look more like dull plastic than…

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review (No spoilers)

I put this review out on YouTube the day of release, but I haven’t been keeping up with dvspress except for fiction (lately, at least), so in case you missed it, here is my spoiler-free consumer-focused review of  Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.


Basic Breakdown:

Production total – 8.7/10

Aesthetics: 9/10 – Delivers the OT aesthetics in sharp detail, use of specific colors is effective.

Effects: 9/10 – Excellent CG and cinematic effects. The movie is comparable to the prequels fidelity if a bit less baroque and unconvincing with some of the cg characters.

Sound design (abstain) – The theater was not set up properly and the sound peaked constantly, but I think the sound design was likely a great improvement over the Force Awakens.

Cinematography – 8/10 – The cinematography was good, and generally shots were well-edited and showed the action clearly, though even at two-and-a-half hours the editing felt a little too tight. A descent iteration of contemporary editing strategies.

Story Total – 3/10

Characters/Acting: 4/10 – Andy Serkis and Mark Hamill deliver strong, convincing performances that take up too little screen time. Every other performance was bad, and was accentuated by terrible dialogue, missed humor (and indeed humor that was wildly out of place in a Star Wars film), and poor casting. None of the characters act in a normal, human way, and all the characters lack any sort of consistent moral beliefs. The female characters, in particular, were offensively incompetent and bitchy stereotypes, clearly made by a gamma male who doesn’t believe in the feminism he is trying to portray.

Plot: 2/10 – Nothing in the plot makes sense in the greater Star Wars universe, or especially with the setups of The Force Awakens. Nihilism is the main theme, probably unintentionally, as Rian Johnson is clearly incapable of understanding basic moral action, virtues, or common sense. A large portion of the movie (~45 minutes) is completely pointless, undermines the mcguffin of the movie (The First Order can track through lightspeed, and yet characters lightspeed away to have a jaunt in a casino planet). The entire plot would have been avoided had any character acted like a normal, well-adjusted human being.

General Effect – 2/10

Aside from a few “Star Wars” moments, the movie is a disaster and an insult to fans. Rian Johnson, with one single work, sweeps away decades of world-building in the Star Wars universe. The hero of the Original Trilogy, Luke Skywalker, is revealed to be a villainous, cowardly and pathetic human. The mystery boxes of Force Awakens are used to insult fans by making fun of them waiting for reveals that would make the nonsense of the previous movie make sense. In a break of the fourth wall, a character tells the audience to “let the past die, kill it if you have to,” essentially telling them off for being fans or being attached to older Star Wars movies. New Force powers are pulled out pockets at will as gotchas, with no prior vision of them in earlier movies and no explanation of how any character learned them.

Rey, the Mary Sue of the first movie, is at the end of the movie able to surpass Luke in every way, including beating him in a duel, having just learned about the force a week prior (as this movie takes place right after TFA).

The entire affair is deeply insulting and I believe will harm the long-term value of the franchise.

Final Score: 4.5/10

I recommend this movie for people who want a cinematic special effects experience with Star Wars aesthetics, but don’t care at all for a good story and generally don’t have an attachment to Star Wars in general.