Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on October 14, 2017

Mindhunter is Netflix’s new series with several episodes directed by David Fincher and adapted from a book by the guy who did the same for The Road a few years back. It tells the true(-ish?) story of the creation of the FBI’s serial killer unit.

It stars the one white guy from Hamilton (though in the opening I thought it was Simon from Firefly, because he has a very similar speaking voice, and it’s a quality that makes it require a bit of suspension of disbelief to have both this character and Simon romantically involved with women) as the young smart guy trying to consult with academics. The that guy who I think of as the “his name is Robert Paulson” guy is his partner but I should think of as the main guy from Lights Out is his partner and a more traditional FBI guy. Anna Torv, who I don’t think I have seen at all since Fringe ended, plays a psychiatrist.

I had high hopes, what with Fincher involved, and it is good, but a little disappointing. As far as his stuff goes, it’s closer to Zodiac than Seven. Not exactly thrill-a-minute, but interesting. I didn’t really like the way it left off at the end of the season, though, so hopefully there will be more, and it can have a satisfying end.

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Posted in tv by Bill on October 8, 2017

Lucky is a 2003 FX series that came at the beginning of the poker craze where John Corbett plays a gambling addict former champion of an event that resembles but is legally distinct from the WSOP, and Billy Gardell and pre-Office Craig Robinson are fellow degenerate gamblers and hustlers. Ever Carradine is basically the female lead but is for some reason only credited as a “special guest star” in virtually every episode.

It’s a half hour dramedy, but seems like the kind of thing that would have been better off as an hourlong with some more drama, because as a comedy it’s not that good (and John Corbett is actually pretty good for the dramatic parts, but all wrong for any time he’s supposed to be funny), and the poker action is typically unrealistic (string bets, nut boat loses to quads, etc). But it has some decent stories, and the hot blonde wife from Rescue Me has a recurring part in which she is younger and hotter than she was on Rescue Me, which is awesome.

Posted in tv by Bill on October 4, 2017

Gifted is Fox’s new X-Men show, centered around some mutants on the run from a federal agency which is named after Sentinels but features no giant robots. Amy Acker and familiar guy and Silver St Cloud from Gotham and her loser brother are a family on the run after the kids’ powers manifest, and weird looking hot girl (pictured) and guy from Incorporated and some other people are an existing sorta mutant underground group. I think if there were fewer superhero TV shows, I might consider giving this a shot, largely based around the weird hot girl, but there was definitely nothing special to separate it from the pack of mediocre superhero shows.

Random complaint: shows with scenes set in Atlanta should recognize that it’s a predominantly black city. The intro has like 10 Atlanta cops in it, and I think they’re all white, which I’m pretty sure would never happen with any group of 10 Atlanta cops.

Posted in video games by Bill on October 1, 2017

Galactic Civilizations III is a space based 4x game from the same developer that did Offworld Trading Company, which, though I thought it seemed only slightly above indie level budget, was slickly designed with a nice interface. So when this appeared in a humble bundle, I figured that would mean this would be easy to pick up and not have interface frustrations like a lot of these games.

Well I was certainly wrong about interface frustrations, because it has this horrible clicking sound that the only way to disable is to mute all sound effects. One of the most annoying sounds I have ever encountered in a game. I had hoped it might be restricted to just the menu, but it continued into the game. And I got about 10 minutes into the tutorial and nothing interesting enough happened to make me keep putting up with the damn sound.

Posted in tv by Bill on September 30, 2017

Big Mouth is a new Netflix animated series co-created by and starring the voice of Nick Kroll, about awkward kids going through puberty and the hormone monsters that encourage their crazy and embarrassing behavior. It’s watchable but not great. Too many musical sequences and the jokes are hit or miss.

Plus the characters’ version of awkward is that mildly charming kind where they like… ask a girl out and she says yes and then they throw up, so they’re totally embarassed but then are dating the girl they like, which is not at all like my experience as a 13 year old. But a show where they don’t talk to girls at all wouldn’t be very interesting. So I identify most closely with the illiterate PE teacher guy, which is just depressing.

John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, and Jason Mantzoukas voice the other main characters, with Jenny Slate, Maya Ruldolph, Fred Armison, and Jordan Peele rounding out the cast.

Weird complaint: the opening theme is the recently deceased Charles Bradley’s cover of Black Sabbath’s Changes, which is a good song, but where they pick it up, the transition is really odd. They play like a three beat intro then the horns come in and we’re right in the chorus. I think it would have worked better to have the little intro thing play over the show and smash cut to the credits. That sorta limits the kind of jokes you can end the cold open on, but lots of shows like It’s Always Sunny make that kinda thing work.

Posted in video games by Bill on September 30, 2017

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the second game in the rebooted franchise.  Just like the first one, you’ve got Camilla Luddington’s hot voice, elaborate climbing sequences, grisly deaths when you screw up, probably Lara getting a horrible infection from being covered with cuts and scrapes and the falling into corpse and rat infested waters, missions where I think I’m supposed to be stealthy but I just kill everyone, missions where I think I’m supposed to use a rifle or shotgun or explosives but killing guys with a bow and arrow is more fun, some fun jumping/climbing puzzles (with fully functional, thousand year old wood-and-rope pulleys and levers and cranks and things), exciting action sequences, and fairly forgettable plot and characters.

The story is about picking up where her father’s work left off, chasing proof of the existence of the soul and also a thing that grants immortality. Which seems like kind of a shitty basis for a sequel, especially one with a title indicating the main character is rising. It would be better to see her striking out on her own rather than riding on her father’s coattails. After a quick thing in Syria, it’s set in Siberia, which is a little bit disappointing as it results in wearing parkas and stuff. Obviously I’d object to her running around in a bikini in any setting, but the outfit from the first game was a nice mix of practical and easy on the eyes. There is a ridiculously obvious heel turn and an even more ridiculously obvious identity reveal.

There’s an annoying habit of revealing items on your map that you want to get, and spent a while trying to figure out how to get to them, only to discover that you need to advance the plot to trigger an event that makes it accessible to you. Like it shows you a relic on your map inside a house, so you try to get inside the house, trying to jump up to climb in through an open window, but you can’t quite reach. And then you find out if you go do a thing and come back later, the doors are wide open and you can walk right in. I’m cool with that happening, but they shouldn’t put the thing on my map until it’s actually accessible, or it just creates those time-wasting “how do I get in here?” struggles.

But the jumping and climbing and falling and stuff is exciting, and some of the puzzles are fun. I didn’t enjoy it enough to spring for the DLC, but for $12 towards a humble bundle, I won’t mind even if the rest of the bundle turns out to be uninteresting.

 

Posted in tv by Bill on September 26, 2017

Star Trek Discovery is CBS All Access’s new show which I gather takes place a little after the NuTrek movies. It aired the first episode on CBS before the move to the streaming service, which is a little bit of a shame, because the first two episodes really make up the introduction to the story. But I was intrigued enough by the first hour (or most of it, as a football game ran long causing the DVR to cut off the end) to sign up for All Access. $6 a month for maybe a few months isn’t too bad to support a series.

You can tell Bryan Fuller wrote the pilot (but sadly isn’t sticking around to run the show), because the main character is a woman with a guy’s name, in this case Sasha from TWD as Michael Burnham. She’s a human raised by vulcans who’s the first officer on a federation ship captained by Michelle Yeoh. The show takes place in the early days of the Federation, and seems to focus on the rise of the Klingon Empire.

The first two episodes are very much like a Star Trek movie, full of action and drama, but I’m hoping the future episodes are a little more classic TV Trek. It would be weird if The Orville is more Star Trek than the actual Star Trek show on at the same time. The Klingons speak almost entirely in Klingon, which I don’t think is that great of an idea, since it means the audience is pretty much reading text and not getting anything from the actors’ performances. But otherwise it’s good so far.

Posted in tv by Bill on September 24, 2017

Ghosted stars Adam Scott and Craig Robinson as basically nobodies who get roped into working for a secret government organization that investigates the paranormal. Doesn’t premiere for another week, but it’s on demand, and I do like watching pilots ahead of time. It’s… not that good. But the two stars are very likable, and it’s in the middle of a bunch of Fox shows I’m watching anyway, so… why not? It might get better, I guess.

Posted in tv by Bill on September 15, 2017

American Vandal is a new Netflix comedy series that takes the true crime documentary format and applies it to a ridiculous crime (spray-paining dicks on the cars in a high school’s teachers’ parking lot). It’s created by some people whose imdb credits include Honest Trailers, and I do like those, so I figured it was worth a shot.

It’s a solid format for a comedy. They use all the usual tropes of true crime shows, with narration, audio recordings, photos, documents, social media screencaps, footage from meetings and stuff, cliffhangers, re-enactment graphics, and minimalist background soundtrack for mood and to emphasize the plot twists.

It’s maybe not as funny as it could be, but I’m honestly totally interested in the plot  (#FreeDylan). I always enjoy comedies that do tons of twisty plot (Arrested Development, Trial and Error, that kinda thing), and there are enough jokes that do work to keep things going. Plus there’s the constant talking about “the dicks” incident as super serious business, which while not a joke, is still amusing.

Posted in movies by Bill on September 15, 2017

The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who is not the founder of McDonald’s, but is the one who turned it into a huge business. It’s a surprisingly interesting story, though I’m not sure it really needed to be a full length film. But it still makes for an ok story.

Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch play the actual McDonald brothers, Laura Dern is Kroc’s first wife, Patrick Wilson and Linda Cardellini (blonde, I didn’t even recognize her until she spoke) are a couple who run a franchise, and B.J. Novak is the guy who really figures out the business.