December 27, 2016

RWBY Series 4 Mid-Season Thoughts

 In the two months since our last review, RWBY has moved right along. The production values continue to be superb. 







The backgrounds, once akin to a '50s UPA cartoon, are now awe-inspiring at times and the animation is consistently top-notch.


 


I sure hope he doesn't...drop the map.

We've now had a bit of time with all four girls of the eponymous team (who are now on different continents). 

It's kind of refreshing to see Ruby be the main character in her own show for a change. Most of the action has continued following Ruby, Jaune, Nora and Ren as they trudge across the wilderness on their way to a city where they expect to find answers to the conspiracy against them....unaware that that conspiracy is stalking them.

A few surprising facts have been revealed.



...some of which may not, strictly speaking, end up being vital to the plot.

This remains a remarkably solid show. It's hard to recommend to someone who hasn't seen it since the first and to a lesser extent the second season are of so much lower quality they are hard to watch now. However the first two seasons are short and the continual upgrades the show goes through are a joy to watch. 

For those who stopped watching after...all that stuff...that happened at the end of last season, I do recommend that you set aside 72 minutes of your time to catch up on this season.

The one very minor criticism I think I touched on in an earlier post is that the fight scenes don't QUITE match the spectacular choreography that the late Monty Oum used to such effect early on. Compare this scene from season one which had a shoestring budget and a staff of about 15 that were just learning their craft to this one from last month, which enjoys a larger budget and a staff that has amassed tremendous experience. The second fight is not bad at all and the overall quality of the more recent episodes is absolutely spectacular, but despite the limited budget and resources, Monty Oum's choreography had a sense of dynamism and movement (and while physics is too strong a word, there was no jarring sense that it had been discarded). It is that last bit that his successors, despite their considerable skill, don't quite get yet. This is a very minor quibble but it goes to show that Oum was indeed a singular talent.

That most quibbly of quibbles aside; at the midway point this season is excellent. Despite the dark ending of last season and the frightful repercussions thereof, the show has managed to avoid becoming a bleak misery-fest and, due mainly to the pluck of the characters, it manages to maintain a basically upbeat tone until now. 

We'll see if it can keep that up this weekend. 

I certainly will be watching.



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December 19, 2016

Well. That Was Not What I Expected.





Star Wars: Rogue One is is not a space opera.

It is not simply a re-hash of previous plots in the franchise.

It is also completely devoid of infuriating Mary Sues who are effortlessly good at everything. 

Despite its very different tone and style (It is actually a re-skinned Samurai film....complete with Zatoichi!) this is not a rejection of the franchise, its fans or its conceits, but rather a labor of love in homage to the whole kit and kaboodle, complete with geeky references to the trilogy, the prequels and the TV series of the sort that were cute but awkward in the prequels. Here they are done masterfully. 

Likewise the female lead is an action girl done exactly right. 

The movie's effects are everything one would expect from a Star Wars film done by Disney...and more. This is a gorgeous film with visuals that even by today's standards are stunning and it breaks new ground in FX as well as necromancy (which, upon reflection, I'm pretty sure is a Sith art). 

This is a story about desperate bitter people in a dark time who are not all that nice who are at the end of their rope while those they look to for guidance are giving in to despair. 

Rogue One is also a story of honor, redemption, hope and courage that manages to be uplifting and inspiring despite its gritty take on the Star Wars universe. This is a beautiful and awesome film that fits in perfectly to the Star Wars canon without the sense of forcing the issue that permeated the prequels. 


My only gripe is that the score is not anywhere near as epic as one expects from a Star Wars film, except where John Williams pieces are dusted off and used. This is not as egregious as it normally would be given that this is a very different sort of story. 
 
The Force is strong with this one.
Rogue One is awesome. 
Go see it. 


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December 05, 2016

Yet Another of Those Animated Shows Set in a Post Apocalyptic World

...this one's American and from 1939.

It's also seasonally appropriate.


It gives a good sense of the anti-war mood in the country on the eve of the Second World War.

more...

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