[Before I begin, this post will discussing the recently-released fan film based on the Uncharted video game series, link here. I suggest watching it before reading this post, if only to support the film.]
Adaptations have got to be the hardest movies to make.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re no easier or harder to make than other films–genre barriers withstanding–but when you transfer a story or characters from one medium to another, problems arise.
I think no adaptation leap has it harder than video game adaptations. Sure, literary adaptations have it rough too, but we’ve been doing it for over a hundred years now.
But I actually sat down and have watched a few of them. Namely the 2016-Four (Ratchet and Clank, Angry Birds, Warcraft, and Assassin’s Creed), Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and the first half of Mortal Kombat.
I bring all of this up because of the Uncharted fan film that came out, and I’m more familiar with video game movies than I am with Uncharted, despite the series coming with high recommendations from one of my closest friends.
And because I’m in the minority that kind of enjoys video game movies.
A few years back, towards the end of 2016, I wrote a filler post about video game movies. I still hold to the thesis I proposed, that we rely too heavily upon the source material for our enjoyment of the movies. What I didn’t mention (and have thought on since) is that it becomes easy to compare the movie to the video game, and harder to critique the movie as…well, a movie.
Which is partially why claim to enjoy video game movies. I never played Prince of Persia or Ratchet and Clank, and have had limited experience with the other games, and I was able to judge the films on their own.
And from what I’ve found, this improves the quality of them drastically. I liked the Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed movies because they were able to stand on their own as competently-made action movies.
So how does this tie into the Uncharted fan-film? Well, for starters, I liked it. Nathan Fillion was a great casting choice. Even though I don’t know the characters that well, I got a good sense of their attitude and demeanor. The only negative comments I have about it are a couple points of poor editing and that it feels like “Part 1 of X”. I give it an 8/10.
Undeterred by the poor reception for Suicide Squad, DC made an animated one called “Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.” As you may recall, the Animated DC Universe is considerably better than the live-action one. But this movie… oh dear. Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Task Force X are back. Amanda Waller wants them to find Dr. Fate and learn what happened to one of the wizard’s artifacts: the Get Out of Hell Free card. But Vandal Savage and Professor Zoom are sending people after the card, too. The Animated DC Universe is good at showing off lesser known characters. But the characters we get have… problems. Deadshot doesn’t look like Deadshot. Harley Quinn doesn’t sound like Harley Quinn. Dr. Fate is a strip club dancer – seriously! Isaac was right; fan service goes both ways. Also, Vandal Savage, DC’s most famous immortal, is worried about dying. That’s the main plot of the movie. It’s ridiculous. And you know how TV’s Reverse Flash keeps coming back from the dead because time travel? He does the same thing in the Animated movies. It’s starting to get really old. And now for the focal point of the movie: a magic artifact that can get a dying person “straight to Heaven.” Once again, a fandom goes with the “good people on Bus 1, bad people on Bus 2” misconception, completely ignoring Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice. One of the characters, Bronze Tiger, is apparently a man of faith. He has a pretty intriguing line.
You joke about heaven and hell, Deadshot. But trust me, they exist. There’s not a moment that goes by I don’t end up wondering if this will be my judgment day. Will I end up with the woman I love or face a lake of hellfire with the vermin that brought me down? The only thing anyone can hope for is divine intervention. Only through the grace of God can we be saved from eternal damnation for all the blood we’ve spilled. Everything else is just talk.
It’s a nice sentiment. But in this movie, a magical card counts as “divine intervention,” even though it makes no sense for an Egyptian god-spirit-wizard’s artifact to have power over the Judeo-Christian afterlife. And if there was a physical representation of God’s gift of grace, it wouldn’t be something you could get by killing everyone in your way.
I’ve spent the past few hours fishing for things to write about, but I can’t seem to settle on any single topic. So, I’m doing multiple.
Jurassic World: Evolution
Not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed when I heard the latest video game with dinosaurs was going to be a park simulator. Still, I may give it a chance some day. That day being when it’s less than full price.
Rick & Morty, Season 3
I ended up finishing it. It was weird. Season 4’s gonna be weirder.
The latest batch of Steven Universe episodes
[Written while dancing around spoilers] I thought they were good. I like the directions the characters are going.
Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII
I’m not pre-ordering it. Not really looking forward to it, either. Then again, my buying policy for CoD games involve waiting at least a year or two for the DLC to come out before I make the investment. And so far, it’s not looking too promising for the game.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Haven’t seen it yet. Probably won’t for a while.
I have been watching a lot of comedy specials on Netflix. Might do a review on one of them.
And…that’s about all I have. This has been your Weekly Opinion Broadcast. I am your host, Isaac Trenti, signing off.
One of the big problems with Doctor Who, from a Christian perspective, is the evolutionary worldview it promotes. But if you really look closely at examples like these, maybe you can laugh at what the show does as it tries to hold to that worldview. 3) Only Human This is a Doctor Who novel I bought a few years ago, and I regretted my purchase almost immediately. It’s just a really bad book. It features the Ninth Doctor (my favorite), Captain Jack Harkness (one of my favorite companions), and a dystopian future world (one of my favorite kinds of world), and it ruins all three of them. Even worse, it’s about Neanderthals. It tries to create some kind of conflict between the cavemen and the humans, but then it brings out a Token Monster that eats everyone indiscriminately, so any deep thinking goes out the window. Doesn’t matter if you can walk upright or not, you’re dinner. If only there was a God who made people complete and special right from the beginning, huh? 2) The Rings of Ahkaten On the other end of the spectrum, I loved this episode. It was beautiful. But at one point, the Doctor tries to explain why a little girl deserves to live using the Big Bang theory. “You’re a bunch of stardust that came from a bunch of dead stars, which came from a bunch of other dead stars. It’s all random and there’s clearly no purpose to it, but you’re a unique combination of random, pointless stardust. Does that make you feel special?” Wouldn’t it have been nicer if he could say, “God made you special, and he loves you very much”? 3) The Lazarus Experiment This one is a pretty unpopular episode because the Token Monster seemed pretty ridiculous. I hate the monster because it’s a hilariously awful example of an evolutionary worldview. A human turns himself into this giant lobster-scorpion-dinosaur. The Doctor says it was “rejected by evolution” and locked inside the human genetic code. Rejected by evolution? The theory of evolution is based on “survival of the fittest”; if you’re good at surviving, you have babies and populate the world more than other species. This lobster-scorpion-dinosaur clearly survives a lot in the episode, even coming back from being apparently dead. The show wants us to believe that fleshy, two-legged monkey-men were better at surviving than that thing. Ha ha ha.
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog
Well, I don’t want to just blandly call this post “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review.” I have to put some effort into a creative title, as cringy as it may be.
[Sigh.] So, I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom last weekend, and it was pretty good. I enjoyed it. Not that my opinion matters in the long haul.
Oh, yeah, SPOILERS ahead, if you were planning on seeing the movie.
As Jurassic World mirrored Jurassic Park (new scientific breakthrough leads to massive casualties and the closing of a theme park), Fallen Kingdom mirrors Lost World. The big corporation, under the guidance of a old, bedridden geneticist, wants to pull the dinosaurs off the island and put them into some kind of natural preserve. (In this case, because a volcano is going to blow up and kill everything on the island.) But a big corporation gets involved and wants to make money off the dinosaurs, and things go horribly wrong.
Oh, and they bring back Jeff Goldblum for a couple courtroom scenes.
Things I Liked:
I liked basically everything that happened on the island. The volcano explosion/chase scene was probably the best thing in the movie. Sure it opened with Christ Pratt flopping around like a dying fish, but I was fine with that. The rest of it was perfectly paced, perfectly shot; it made me feel tense. And the last shot of the Brachiosaurus on the docks almost made me cry.
The new dinosaurs to the family were great. Baryonyx (the one in the tunnels that attacks Claire and the computer nerd) was one of my favorite dinosaurs before the movie came out, and they did my boy justice. Carnotaurus was pretty cool, and I liked how they turned it into a “baby sister” for T-Rex.
The new genetic hybrid, Indoraptor, was also really cool, since it actually felt like it displayed some sense of emotion. A cheeky, tooth-filled smile to the audience says a lot, especially when it says, “This guy has no clue I’m about to eat him.”
I also liked Maisie Lockwood, the token child of this movie, simply for the fact that she was useful. While the adults were off scrambling to “save” the dinosaurs, she’s off solving the mystery of the Lockwood estate and furthering the plot. Not like Hammond’s grandkids from Jurassic Park, who were useful a grand total of once to hack a computer; or like the kid from Lost World, who was useful a grand total of once to take down a raptor with gymnastics; or like the kid from Jurassic Park III who is pretty useless, but he’s the only male damsel in distress in film I can think of (discuss in the comments); or like the kids from Jurassic World, who were only really there to give exposition about the park.
I also liked Zia, the “paeleo-veterinarian”, but it was more because she reminds me of one of my friends from college.
Things I Didn’t Like:
The way it set up for a sequel. I mean, it made sense that they would. After all, if they make a “II”, there’ll be a “III” down the road. As we learned from [clears throat] The Hobbit Movies, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean…[trails off for five minutes]…Call of Duty, Jaws, and Dark Souls. Oh, yeah, and the original Jurassic Park movies.
But, I guess this is what the series was trying to build up to, and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction where they take it.
Here’s the thing. I liked this movie. Other people liked this movie. Heck, the guy sitting next to me in the theater said something about, “best one in the franchise.”
But then I went home and checked other peoples’ opinions of it. As it stands on RottenTomatoes, it’s the second-worst ranked in the franchise by critics and third-worst by audience reviews.
So, you know what? I’m going to make my opinions of this film abundantly clear: I. Like. Jurassic. World. Fallen. Kingdom. Just as I like Jurassic Park despite twelve-year-old me getting uppity about how they got the velociraptors wrong. Just as I like Lost World despite its straying from the archetypes of the first movie (discuss in the comments). Just as I like Jurassic Park III for being brave enough to try something new for dinosaur movies as a whole. And just as I like Jurassic World for taking the series back to its roots while also raising new ethical questions for a new generation.
I welcome this new installment to the franchise, flaws and all. 9/10 – will buy on Blu-Ray when it comes out. And you can bet that three years from now, when Jurassic World III: Whatever the Subtitle Is, hits theaters, I’m dropping ten bucks to go see it, and another seven for a large cherry slushee. Because you know what? I like this movie. I like this franchise.
I mentioned once that I only notice directing and producing when they’re really good or really bad. In Cloak & Dagger, Marvel’s latest TV show, they’re fantastic. Tyrone, a black boy, and Tandy, a white girl, were given super powers by an Evil Corporation. Tyrone can teleport with this smoke-cloak thing, and Tandy can make daggers and things out of light. The two of them are more powerful together, and they’re going to fall in love while taking down that Evil Corporation. The show portrays the contrast between the two main characters very well. It’s some beautiful visual storytelling. Tyrone goes from a 9-year-old amateur thief to straight-edge student. Tandy goes from 9-year-old ballet dancer with rich parents to homeless, pill-snorting master thief. That’s actually my one complaint about the show. Tandy comes from money, so she knows how to identify wealthy people so she can rob them. But her family went broke when she was, like, nine years old. Did her mom tell her bedtime stories about where they keep the cash at weddings? How does she know all this stuff? On the bright side, this show’s commentary on racism seems to be light-years better than Luke Cage. And you know what this show has that Luke Cage didn’t? White people. If you want to be representational, you kind of need to have some “normal” for contrast. On top of all that, this show actually taught me something about God and the Bible. See, ever since Tyrone’s brother died, Ty has had a lot of bottled up anger. In one scene, Ty is talking to his pastor/counselor, saying “What if I used that anger to find the person who killed my brother and punish him? An eye for an eye, right?” The pastor’s response blew me away. He said, “Let me ask you a question. What if God heard you talking like that? What would He think?” So often we think of the Bible as a bunch of rules for us to interpret and then use to justify our actions. A lot of the time it leads to good things, but sometimes it’s used for vigilante vengeance quests. And we do this in the real world, too. So think of it this way: would God, the personal and loving maker of all those rules, appreciate your interpretation and your actions? Would He want you to use his Word to justify that?
I am very excited to see where this show goes from here. What do you think about it? Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog
Which got me thinking about my personal beliefs/theories about how the dinosaurs died. (And no, I’m not referring to them being taken up in the Great Veloci-Rapture. That joke was too popular for its own good.)
Over the past several years of studying dinosaurs for fun, I’ve also been working on a rough timeline for the lifespan of the dinosaurs in the Bible times.
So creation happens and all the dinosaurs are made. This is followed by the Fall and Adam and Eve getting cast out of the garden. Suddenly, dinosaurs are a major threat for them and their children, but they avoid these beasts for the most part.
Their offspring, on the other hand, have little choice to do otherwise. Probably for the sake of survival, humankind took up arms against these dinosaurs and won, maybe to the point of eradicating entire species.
Then, a thousand years after the Fall, the Flood happened. Assuming the dinosaurs could have fit on the Ark (which I think they could), they would have come out of the Ark to a very different world. A lot of them may have died just by not having enough food.
After that came the book of Job, which references Behemoth, with the implication that Job has seen it in action. It is described similarly to a sauropod, though some scholars dispute this.
Over time, through the humans’ hunting and inability to find prey, the dinosaurs did eventually die out. Though, considering almost every culture had some form of dragon legend, I feel like it took a good long while.
Is this a stretch? Or am I–yeah, this is a bit of a stretch. But it’s my theory, and it makes sense to me.