Is the Doctor a Superhero?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let’s talk about Doctor Who.
Except today I’m less enthusiastic about it, because the 2016 Christmas special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” wasn’t all that great. But if you ignore most of the Doctor Who parts and focus on the Ghost (a knockoff Superman) and Lucy Fletcher (the reporter love interest), you get an almost decent story. Steven Moffat admitted that this story is based on his love for Clark Kent and his “love triangle with two people in it.” So apparently he wrote his version of that and then threw in the Doctor.
But even the superhero plot has problems. Lucy is way too good for her superhero crush. She’s clever and interesting enough to be the Doctor’s new companion, and the Ghost isn’t even very good at being a superhero. For one thing, his alternate job is being a nanny, which means he’s either abandoning a human infant to save a hot reporter or leaving a criminal only half-defeated to change a diaper.
Then again, the Doctor does just as much abandoning. In this episode, he ignores a crisis because he gave superpowers to a nine-year-old for Christmas, and then he ignores that for a couple decades, because River Flipping Song is waiting for him. He also leaves the evil aliens alone (twice!) so he can care for the baby that Supernanny is supposed to be watching.

So neither the Doctor nor knockoff-Superman are very good superheroes. They’re just people who can do some impressive things, not human enough to fit in with the world but too human to leave it alone and do nothing. They can have flaws but still be role models. You just need the wisdom to know what’s admirable and what’s not.
Therein lies the core of what we talk about here at the Correlation. Yes, there are parts of many fandoms that don’t align with a Christian worldview. But that’s called human imperfection. The only story that lines up with Christianity perfectly is the Bible. But it’s really unlikely for any Christian to live an enjoyable, fulfilled life without learning any stories that aren’t the Bible. With discernment, a Christian can enjoy the parts of those other stories that are admirable and tear the rest of it to shreds, like so many fans do with the Doctor Who Christmas special every year.

Coming next week: my own thoughts on Rogue One with unavoidable spoilers.

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Rogue One Review: Movies and Trailers

So, I finally got to see Rogue One.

[Note: I removed about ten pages of me crying into my keyboard. Most of it came out as unintelligible, weepy gibberish. Around page 5, I wrote “It’s beautiful. So beautiful.” about three times, then went back to random letters and numbers.]

I’m fine now. I just had to get that out of my system.

To be honest, there’s a lot that I liked about Rogue One. I liked the space battles, Chirrut Imwe, the explanations for the plot holes in A New Hope, K-2SO or “Wash-Bot” as I like to call him. I even liked Darth Vader, despite being a proud supporter of the Rebel Alliance. (Long Live the Rebellion!)

There’s a lot that I was surprised about too. And I am not the only one who walked away surprised. The day after I saw it in theaters, I came upon a bunch—and I mean a bunch—of people, mainly on YouTube, talking about how there were scenes in the trailers that were not in the final cut.

After having seen the movie, I can’t help but think, “Really? That’s your complaint?” [double-take] “Actually, hang on, you’re complaining?” I didn’t worry about how the movie and the trailers lined up. The movie has about an hour and forty-five minutes on the trailers combined; I think the movie is canon. I was happy that the movie was good.

I, for one, am also glad I got to see a Star Wars movie in theaters again. I was too young to watch the prequels when they were in theaters, so actually getting to see lightsaber fights and space battles on the big screen was a real treat.

That said, I’d probably put Rogue One in at least my top four Star Wars movies. The characters were well-written, the story was compelling, and even the score was great. There were a lot of other things I liked, but I’ll skip them for now. (Especially since some of them are spoiler territory.)


Added in Memory of Carrie Fisher

So, one of my side-hobbies is drawing. I’m not very good…actually, I’m quite terrible compared to many of my peers.

However, I felt the need to add a drawing to this post.


(For those who can’t read my handwriting, the text is “Charming to the Last.” [The first line said by Tarkin to Leia in Episode IV; I thought it an accurate description of Carrie Fisher.])


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In Which Tom Cruise is Not Awesome (Right Away)

When I read Isaac’s post about video game adaptations (pretty good stuff there), I just kept thinking about Edge of Tomorrow, aka Live Die Repeat, aka All You Need is Kill! Specifically, I thought about the Angry Nerd video about it.
The Angry Nerd said Edge of Tomorrow is one of the best video game movies out there, and it’s not even an adaptation of a video game. Think about it. When Tom Cruise dies, he resets to a recent checkpoint. He sucks at fighting at first, but he gets better the next time and progresses farther. Every now and then he faces a situation he just can’t get himself or Emily Blunt (more capable than most NPCs in escort missions) out of, so he has to start over and find a new strategy.
As the Angry Nerd points out, in most other video game movies, the main character is super-awesome right from the beginning. That’s not what happens to most of us in reality. We have to hear the “Mario dies” theme music an infuriating number of times before we defeat Bowser. It doesn’t matter if I’m James Bond or Master Chief or a Little Green Army Man. Every video game’s multiplayer mode is “Let’s Shoot Noah in the Face…in Spaaaaace” or “Let’s Shoot Noah in the Face with Nice Tuxedoes” or “Let’s Shoot Noah in the Face with Zombies.”
Pokemon is another example of an adaptation doing it right. Ash starts out as a total n00b and grows up to be less of a n00b as his Pokemon get stronger. Yeah, yeah, TV shows have a lot more time for the hero to get better, but…Rocky, anyone? Need something more contemporary? Big Hero 6. Immortals Montage.
The moral of the story is you don’t have to be Michael Assass-bender or Jack Reacher right away. When you fail, just get back up and try again. But don’t die. In real life there are no respawns.

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Video Game Adaptations: Could it Be How We Watch It?

So, no. I haven’t seen Rogue One yet. I mean, I would have by now if it weren’t for this little thing called SNOW.

Yes. SNOW. Everywhere! I haven’t heard anything about how well Rogue One did at the box office, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it tanked because of the blizzard on opening night and the sub-zero temperatures all weekend.

That said, I’m going to talk about an upcoming release rather than actually look at what’s in the theaters now: Assassin’s Creed.

I won’t say that I remember when the first game came out, but I do remember starting to get into the franchise when III hit the shelves. (In fact, ACIII is the only game I own and have personally played.) Likewise, I won’t say that I plan on going to see it when it comes out.

So, why am I bringing it up? Well, it’s the fourth video game adaptation this year, (the others being Warcraft, Ratchet & Clank, and Angry Birds), and…I won’t say it looks the best, but it looks better than at least two of the other adaptations.

In fact, Assassin’s Creed is the latest in a very, very long line of video game-to-movie adaptations, and people expect it to be as bad as its predecessors, the likes of Resident Evil, Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, etc.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down to watch one of the other three video game movies of this year, Warcraft, when it hit me: what if both sides are doing their job wrong? You see, Warcraft the movie is a fairly coherent storyline where everything makes sense…if you’ve played the games. The pool of mana at the top of Karazhan and why Medvih needed to soak in it after casting large spells? That made sense. The relationship between orcs and humans, both in regards to their similarities and their differences? That made sense. But to the outside eye, it probably doesn’t.

Maybe that’s the problem with video game adaptations: they rely too heavily upon their source material. They do so to the point that without the source material, they make little sense, as was the case with Warcraft. Or they spend the whole movie focused on worldbuilding or character introductions, as was the case with Mortal Kombat. Or they try to take on a completely different look and tone from the game for unspoken reasons. Lookin’ at you, Mario Bros.

So, in closing, maybe I will go see Assassin’s Creed, just out of curiosity. But not until I actually watch Rogue One.


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Why Do We Like Cute Things?

Disclaimer: this is a filler post while I wait for Rogue One to come out. You have been warned.

In order to answer such a deep, philosophical, lifestyle-defining question, we must first define what “cute” is. I for one define cute as a state of being in the same vein as “pretty” or “beautiful,” only it conveys a sense of endearment or smallness along with physical appeal. For example, puppies are cute. Kittens are cute. A swarm of black widow spiders is not cute, even for someone like me who actually likes spiders.

So why do we like cute things anyway? Some would attribute this to our innate maternal and paternal instincts—the brain-waves that make us think like mothers and fathers, and our desire to care for things.

Another hypothesis is that humans are naturally drawn to things we see beautiful. Flowers, paintings, and music may not be cute, but we are drawn to them in the same way that most people are drawn to, say, a basket of kittens.

So, is there anything wrong with liking cute things? I believe no, as long as it is in moderation. Cute things are a great distraction from stressful times.

I guess, in a way, our love of cute things reflects our nature of being created in God’s image. After all, we are admonished in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. I guess cute things could be inserted into one of the final three categories.

And now, my weakness, owls.

In a recent survey, eight out of nine owls are perplexed about appearing on The Correlation.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to prepare for my second exam of the day. Biology waits for no man, woman, or bird of prey.


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Geekiness With Contentment is Great Gain

*Strap in, folks. This is a long one, with no specific fandom to connect with. But my professor liked it, and I’m proud of it, so here goes. Welcome to my Christian Introverted Nerd Contemplation and Advice Column.*

One time, my college roommates were planning to play Ultimate Frisbee but the weather turned bad and the game was cancelled.
“See, this is what you get for being extroverted, outside people,” I said. “Disappointment.”
The way I see it, emotional energy is a relatively non-renewable resource. This may be a symptom of my Asperger’s syndrome. It’s kind of like how introverts need “recharging” before going into a social engagement. If I’m going to care about things that make me happy, like TV shows or books, and also care about things that are actually important, like academics or my relationship with God, there are going to be things that I just can’t care about, like sports or socializing.
As a nerd, I choose to invest a lot of my emotional energy in fandoms. This may seem unfortunate because I don’t have as much emotional energy to spend on things like academics or socializing. But as we’ve discussed many times on the Correlation blog, there are many benefits to investing in the community of a fan kingdom.
When you care about things like sports teams or celebrities or social interactions, and they inevitably let you down, you feel disappointed because you have wasted your emotional energy on them. But when I care about fandoms, I can more easily separate the things I actually care about from the fallible people behind them, so I don’t feel the same disappointment. And if something within the story is disappointing, I remember that it’s not real and pick a different story to enjoy.
When my home sports team loses, I don’t feel upset, but other fans do. I like to think I “win” even if the team loses, simply because I’m in a better mood than those around me. This is Biblical: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). We can insert Christian-compatible fandoms and all the benefits that come out of them for “godliness,” and the “ungodly things” we choose not to care about include sports and Justin Bieber. We still have to be content with what we get (for example, we must accept that movies like “Deadpool” are not very good for Christians), but as long as we are putting our energy toward good things, we win by default.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about this in terms of “eternal value.” My brother has complained about the fandoms I’m interested in because they don’t have eternal value. I explain that they do have some value, but he apparently defines value differently. This seems like a reasonable argument until you realize that very few things in this world have “eternal value.”
Almost no fandoms have eternal value. But neither does algebra, and that’s coming from a nerd who likes algebra. You will never be required to use algebra in your eternal life unless you’re forced to use it in Hell. As an introvert, I can see that small talk with extroverts has no eternal value, either. Same Hell scenario applies.
The Bible tells us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things here on Earth. As long as we do invest in things that have eternal value, like a relationship with Christ, we can use the rest of our time and energy to enjoy our non-eternal lives.

So if you want my advice, lower your expectations. Stop caring about sports and celebrities and trivial social interactions. Be content. Join some fandoms if you haven’t already. See how awesome your life becomes.

Isaac Trenti’s 5 Important Video Games of 2016

So, here’s how it is: last week I had a lot of stuff going on last week, namely a few assignments and exams. I simply didn’t have a blog post written for last Wednesday. I also forgot about posting until 2:00 in the afternoon, and would have had to plan, write, and post a new article.

But, I’m back now. And I’m prepared. (Read: I’m writing this on Sunday.)

So, December is upon us, and a lot of “Top 10 of the Year” lists are rolling out already. But since we only have two more releases this year—neither of which look overly interesting—let’s take a look at 2016’s video games.

I’m just going to point out here that this is not a Top 5 list. These are just five games I thought to be important to the medium. Not the best or the worst, just the ones worth remembering.


5) Mighty No. 9

For lack of better words, Mighty No. 9 is this year’s Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. I’ve never been one for the side-scrolling shooter genre (Metroid is my least favorite Nintendo IP, bear in mind), so this game didn’t appeal to me personally. But it still was anticipated by gamers all over, especially fans of Mega Man. It was delayed several times over and didn’t do well critically or sales-wise. I remember seeing it on the shelves when it came out. A week later, I saw it on the clearance rack.

Moral: be careful what you wish for. The game was sold as the “return of Mega Man.” Nobody realized that Mega Man went away for a reason.


4) Doom and Battlefield 1

I’m sharing this slot with two games because they ultimately did the same thing, just slightly differently. I’ve reviewed both, so I’ll cut to the chase: both games simultaneously took a step back while taking a step forward. With Doom, I’d argue that it took two steps forward, but both games were quite satisfying, especially looking at their competition. The FPS genre is competitive in every level. The competition—Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, and to an extent Overwatch—tried to advance the genre. Some of them, in the wrong direction. While advancing their graphical appearance and showing they can make games for the new consoles, Doom and Battlefield 1 actually went back to its classic, traditional roots. No wall-running, no giant robot mechs, not even complex plots or deep world-building. They were just games. And if the 2016 Game Awards say anything, they are good games at that.

Sure, I wouldn’t recommend either of them to kids, but we’ve been over this. I wouldn’t recommend anything to kids.

Moral: we don’t always need fancy. Also, a good soundtrack can really help a game. My props to you, Mick Gordon!


3) Skyrim – Special Edition and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Again, these games ultimately did the same thing. They are both remakes of older games, upgraded to an HD format, ported for the current console generation. But, that’s basically what they are: ports.

And here’s another thing. There isn’t even a generation gap between the games. A lot of people still have their PS3’s and Wii’s. (I know Twilight Princess HD was a port of the GameCube version, but I played it on the Wii.) Those who played the original games probably still have the original games—as I do. These ports simply seemed unnecessary.

It isn’t like I have anything against ports, mind you. I’m currently playing through Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, which I could actually afford because it was remastered. But why would I buy a game that I already have?

Moral: more for game developers, but be patient with ports. Learn from Pokémon and Wind Waker: if the game was released more than two console generations ago, it’s safe to remake.


2) Pokémon GO

Speaking of Pokémon, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Sun and Moon came out and people were silent. We already got a good Pokémon game this year. It got people outside and interacting with other fans of the franchise. It did what Pokémon Red and Blue set out to do twenty years ago. Foster communities, make friends, then promptly squash them with your Level 70 Venusaur. Sure, it also stirred up the conservatives, as I discussed here, but I can’t blame the game for that.

Moral: also to the game developers, never rule out the mobile market. Everybody has one and anyone can play on them. Except me, but that’s my problem.


1) Overwatch

And now we come to one of the biggest games of the year, and not because of its sales, awards, story, or gameplay. Overwatch takes the cake because of its fanbase. Seriously, I didn’t really hear about Overwatch until I crossed paths with a few Tracer cosplays before the game released. The game probably has one of the biggest fanbases I’ve seen in gaming, rivaling last year’s biggest fanbases. (Those being Undertale and Five Nights at Freddy’s.) I’ve never played Overwatch and—sorry, Blizzard—don’t think I will anytime soon, but seeing the reaction to it made me legitimately interested.

Moral: we are fans; do not underestimate us. I don’t mean that to be threatening, I’m just saying that we are the ultimate test of how well these things turn out.

So, in closing, here’s to another memorable year in video games. Let’s hope that 2017 will be just as…wait. 2017. That means…



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