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Messages - Crudblud

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Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: January 13, 2021, 04:49:46 PM »
Just finished DOOM. Pretty good throwback to the arena shooters of yore. I'm not sure that what story there is needed to be there. You are the Doomguy, you must rip and tear, you don't need to know shit about fuck to do that. Still, I guess the story is appropriately B-movie in its shallowness. I don't really have many complaints. As repetitive as the action is it's very satisfying, though the glory kills do get old after a while, and the single healthbar final boss was a bit of a disappointment compared to the bosses with multiple distinct phases earlier in the game. Also I wasn't too fond of the industrial metal soundtrack, it sounded kind of tacky to me. All told, a solid FPS.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: December 24, 2020, 12:11:56 AM »
I have been playing Death Stranding. I'm usually not an "omg the graphics!!!" kind of guy but omg the graphics!!! I'm only a few hours in but it's been weird and hilarious so far, which is exactly what I expect from Kojima, although not necessarily in this way. Unfortunately I encountered some system-breaking crashes early on, but it seems like redownloading drivers and verifying the game files has fixed the underlying issues, whatever they are/were.

Big shout out to junker, the kindest man in human history, who made my playing this game possible!

Arts & Entertainment / Re: FES Book Club
« on: December 14, 2020, 10:01:20 AM »
Recent reads (with ratings out of five stars):
Stephen E. Ambrose/Douglas G. Brinkley - Rise to Globalism: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1938 ****
David Black - The Plague Years: A Chronicle of AIDS, the Epidemic of Our Times ****
John Banville - Birchwood **
Francis Wheen - Karl Marx *****

Currently reading:
Norman Stone - Europe Transformed 1878-1919

Also I recently bought myself Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Gustav Mahler as an early birthday present. I was going to read the Stone anyway, but it seems like now is a good opportunity to give myself a better sense of Europe in Mahler's time before moving on to the Fischer.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Political compass bingo
« on: December 08, 2020, 04:31:37 PM »
Become a police officer and then punch yourself in the face.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Political compass bingo
« on: December 06, 2020, 05:26:32 PM »

I half-ticked some boxes because they half-apply to me. I get that this is just memes and nonsense but I'm feeling unironically unironic right now.

Updated to reflect my desire to free former British colonies from China.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: November 27, 2020, 12:02:46 PM »
I'm currently doing my first run of Sekiro without Kuro's Charm. The game got an update with some new content including boss refights and rushes, and a Souls style message/phantom system, so I decided to pick it back up again. I'm doing a regular new game so I don't have any upgrades or skills carrying over from a previous playthrough. The Charm protects you from taking chip damage if your deflect timings are off, and this game's idea of chip damage is pretty unforgiving, and on top of that, you take more damage and do less damage without the charm, meaning that you have to play consistently well for longer in each encounter, but you get extra rewards for winning fights. The Charm is present at the start of every new game/ng+ cycle, but after you beat the game once you have the choice of giving it back to Kuro during the prologue on subsequent playthroughs. It makes the game a lot harder, and I've been struggling with many early game areas that normally wouldn't present much of a challenge. Having said that, I've been playing Dark Souls lately so my feel for the combat is way off, and I did beat the first real boss on my first try, so I feel pretty good about that.
It's done! I beat the final boss last night. Oddly enough I had less trouble with the endgame bosses than I did with most of the midgame ones.

Edit: Holy shit! The boss gauntlets have some really hard "remixed" bosses. I can see why it took From so long to add this to the game now, Genichiro is basically a whole new fight now.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Take J-Man to the mat if you dare
« on: November 26, 2020, 08:46:59 PM »

I have never read the Bible lmao.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: My Philosophy on beer...
« on: November 23, 2020, 09:12:01 AM »
Punk IPA, I'm guessing. It's definitely not for everyone, though I personally enjoy it. I'd suggest trying a beer you know you like that's also offered in a can. For science.
It is a thing that could happen, and if it does I will report my findings. I usually get a few beers in for Christmas so it might not be a very long wait.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: My Philosophy on beer...
« on: November 22, 2020, 02:55:35 PM »
Have you tried them recently?
In October I visited a friend and had a Brewdog "punk" something-or-other in a can. It tasted like shit, but then my experience with Brewdog has been not great in general, so I won't claim it was the can's fault. I ended up drinking some kind of bottled Amstel instead, which was dull but inoffensive.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: My Philosophy on beer...
« on: November 21, 2020, 09:20:57 PM »
Beer is indeed good, although cans tend to impart a nasty element to the flavour. Fortunately most good beer comes in bottles here in the UK, although some not very good beer also comes in bottles, Stella Artois for example.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Joe Biden is winning by a landslide
« on: November 14, 2020, 01:39:36 PM »
I have a couple of questions for people more versed in the minute detail of the US democratic process than I. Could unpledged/faithless electors give Trump the win? Also why is the EC so amazingly retarded as to permit electors to vote contrary to the state they're supposed to represent?

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: November 03, 2020, 11:30:12 PM »
I'm currently doing my first run of Sekiro without Kuro's Charm. The game got an update with some new content including boss refights and rushes, and a Souls style message/phantom system, so I decided to pick it back up again. I'm doing a regular new game so I don't have any upgrades or skills carrying over from a previous playthrough. The Charm protects you from taking chip damage if your deflect timings are off, and this game's idea of chip damage is pretty unforgiving, and on top of that, you take more damage and do less damage without the charm, meaning that you have to play consistently well for longer in each encounter, but you get extra rewards for winning fights. The Charm is present at the start of every new game/ng+ cycle, but after you beat the game once you have the choice of giving it back to Kuro during the prologue on subsequent playthroughs. It makes the game a lot harder, and I've been struggling with many early game areas that normally wouldn't present much of a challenge. Having said that, I've been playing Dark Souls lately so my feel for the combat is way off, and I did beat the first real boss on my first try, so I feel pretty good about that.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Citizen
« on: October 27, 2020, 10:37:02 PM »
... rubberts ... delete

A clever play on words ... but you'd call them erasers ... did you know ... did you think your audience would get it ...

I'm going to be generous, guess it was deliberate and allow myself a chuckle at this luxury comedy.  :D
Hint: "Rubberts" was not coined by Rushy.

Yes it was, you may be thinking of Wobberts, which is what Parsifal/Xasop uses.
I'm pretty sure I was the first person to call him Rubberts.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Terrible Political Memes
« on: October 18, 2020, 08:38:17 AM »

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Citizen
« on: October 15, 2020, 11:46:48 AM »
... rubberts ... delete

A clever play on words ... but you'd call them erasers ... did you know ... did you think your audience would get it ...

I'm going to be generous, guess it was deliberate and allow myself a chuckle at this luxury comedy.  :D
Hint: "Rubberts" was not coined by Rushy.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Terrible Political Memes
« on: September 22, 2020, 08:39:59 AM »

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: August 07, 2020, 06:41:41 PM »
The Batshit Odyssey continues, with the first part of the "Dark Knight" trilogy!

Batman Begins (dir. Christopher Nolan)

A new decade, a new series, a new Batman, a new you! The first major reboot in Batman's cinematic history sees Christopher Nolan, then a rising star known for reasonably clever thrillers like Memento and Insomnia, in the director's chair. Immediately I must make a confession, which is that throughout my years of knowing his work, I have found Nolan's oeuvre consistently underwhelming. While I am trying to prevent this from clouding my judgement of Batman Begins, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that, criticism largely being a vehicle for vanity and all, I have doubtless failed in that task, and for that reason I won't make any overtures to fairness. Having said that, I don't think this review reads as unnecessarily critical, but then what the fuck do I know? I just wrote the damn thing, you're actually reading it, and possibly not for much longer.

Batman Begins begins (it's a bit I can only do once, let me have it) in a much different manner than either Burton's or Schumacher's films. As the title implies, the film deals with Batman's origin story, and it spends quite a lot of time trying to establish the moral code of Batman through comparison and contrast of his childhood experiences against his later interactions with various figures, such as Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents; Carmine Falcone, a mob boss whose sphere of influence encompasses all levels of Gotham City's social and legal power structures; and the League of Shadows, a mystical fraternity of assassins lead by the mysterious Ra's al Ghul. His apprenticeship under Ra's culminates in his refusal to execute a criminal, and the subsequent burning down of the base of the League of Shadows high in the Himalayas. I think this introduction to Bruce Wayne, which invites us to view Gotham as he does, both in the idealism of his father's vision for the city in his youth, and in the tattered idealism of his own as he returns to save the city, mostly works as written.

However, there's something odd going on with Christian Bale in this film. Especially in the pre-Batman portrayal of Bruce Wayne, Bale simply seems like he doesn't know what he's doing. This may well be deliberate, since it is appropriate to the character at that time in his life, but there's something off about it that I can't quite put my finger on, it's as if we are seeing Bale not getting it rather than Wayne not getting it. However, once Wayne returns to Gotham, Bale fits much more comfortably with the material. In this film, Bruce Wayne plays up to an expectation of rich youth, lacking in morals and manners, which, for his parents were good people, beloved of Gotham, he must have chosen to cast aside to indulge in nihilistic libertinism. The scene in which Wayne gets his birthday party guests to leave so that he can confront Ra's al Ghul is brilliantly played, and ultimately shows just how deliberate his decisions have been ever since his return to Gotham.

This film deals much more with Gotham as a living, breathing society than any of the previous series of films did, even Batman Returns, with its three-way intersection of crime, politics, and business, and one of its major villains an outcast aristocrat, doesn't present a full picture of Gotham's interdependent social strata. To be fair, this film doesn't present a full picture either, but it is more willing to delve into social themes, to show the effects of poverty on ordinary people, even presenting Joe Chill as a victim of circumstance rather than a cold-blooded killer—in fact, Tim Burton praised the film for going where at the time it was felt that he couldn't in his own Batman films. Chill is assassinated by Carmine Falcone, against whom Chill testified in order to shorten his prison time, and who is flooding Gotham's ghetto neighbourhoods with drugs. While Batman works with an unwitting old acquaintance, district attorney Rachel Dawes, to get leverage on Falcone, the seemingly all-powerful mobster is swept away by a yet greater tide of evil washing over the city in the form of Ra's al Ghul. This is one of the film's major missteps. While Bruce Wayne's actions absolutely should have consequences, the reveal of Falcone as a pawn in a game of global proportions causes Batman's first crusade to lose its identity as a reclamation of a city and people that were failed by his own socio-economic class. I think Ra's al Ghul's return should have been simply implied at the end and brought to fruition in a later film, since in the final scene we see that they were already confident of a sequel.

But Ra's al Ghul's what we get, so what he got? He is played by Liam Neeson, which apparently is supposed to be a shock. I read that Nolan cast Neeson since he had usually played mentor figures, which Ra's very much is at the start of the film. Given that Neeson is now known for appearing in endless reiterations of the same action movie in which the editing cuts so frequently that you can't tell what is actually happening, it seems like the choice was made for the wrong reasons. Having said that, I like Neeson's performance quite a lot. The character is not necessarily well served by the writing, especially in the latter half where he seems to be there only to fulfil the need for a big villain reveal, but Neeson himself is very convincing as the leader of a global terrorist organisation. From his very first scene, laying out a path for Bruce Wayne to become the Batman, he exhibits calm and debonair charm, with a charisma and mystique that makes us want Bruce to accept his offer so we can see what he's all about. As we learn the truth behind Ra's's (you didn't think I would, but I did) philosophy of justice, the film gambles on the hope that we'll be torn between Bruce's loyalty to Gotham, to the ideals of his father, and the more cosmically minded campaign of Ra's, who seeks to save the world through catastrophe. You can see that the film in this conflict takes its cue from Watchmen, but is it really that compelling? For me, at least, the idea that disaster begets some kind of cleansing empathy was never sound, but I think the film is designed to be perceived to be more morally complex than it actually is.

Ra's is being supported by Jonathan Crane, better known as Scarecrow. Crane is in charge of Arkham Asylum, and is using a substance derived from a rare Himalayan flower in experiments on the inmates. Under the guidance of Ra's, Crane dumps the substance into the Gotham water supply, though I have to question just how rare the flower is if enough of Scarecrow's fear toxin can be produced to poison the entire city. Regardless of the mechanics of their villainous plot, I rather like this portrayal of Scarecrow. Cillian Murphy plays Crane as a weasely, insidious, amoral figure, and while there's more than a dash of the stereotypical mad scientist who doesn't care what lines he has to cross in pursuit of his research, the understated relish of Murphy's performance makes him engaging to watch. Instead of appearing in full costume, the Scarecrow is a simple sackcloth head covering with eyeholes and a mechanism for dispersal of the fear toxin. The Scarecrow therefore appears less a persona in itself than Crane's perversion, lending him the air of a serial killer, which I suppose he is, since his drug so completely destroys the mental faculties of those exposed to it, including, ultimately, his own.

By the time of Batman Begins, the caped crusader had yet to star in a film which really sold him as a capable fighter. The Tim Burton films were deliberately theatrical and often featured unrealistic fighting in keeping with their urban fairytale style, while Joel Schumacher's Batman would usually flash some improbable gadget or found prop as a goof in the face of his foes. Nolan's foray into the franchise shows a martial arts based approach, more grounded than that of its predecessors and also of earlier high-profile western examples of martial arts action like The Matrix. Christian Bale even trained in kung fu as part of his preparation for the role of Batman, but for all of that, and perhaps foreseeing (or sealing?) Liam Neeson's own fate, the fight scenes in this film are absolute pants. Nary a punch is thrown that isn't cut in two with needless editing, and while it isn't quite as bad as Taken, in which the least movement of Neeson's body must be captured in three different ways cut against each other, the impacts lack weight because they are so often shorn of their actual physical context. The relationship between the physical impulse behind a punch, the movement of the body, from the core up and out through the chest and down the arm to the fist, the cadence of the impact, simply isn't there, and any potential for real excitement is wasted.

All scenes, cut to ribbons or not, are set to the predictably dull music of Hans Zimmer, king of the hack composers of Hollywood. Even if the fight scenes were awe-inspiring, there is nothing this man cannot make boring by association. But the flavourless harmonies and workaday rhythms of Zimmer's score are a perfect match for the film's bland colour palette and pedestrian camera work, so in a way the composer has done a brilliant job. I didn't intend here to talk about both music and visuals, but seeing as the one underlies and enhances the other, or at least as that is the intended relationship, it seems as good a time as any to say that there are no arresting images in the entire film. From dockyard drug deals to opulent mansions, the film exists in light grey and dark brown, with anything in between getting dragged one way or the other into a black hole. Pretending towards realism is one thing, but the desaturation of colour coz dark innit seems rather to take life out of the equation. Still, the music and visuals are of a piece, so despite their aesthetic beigery they cannot really be faulted in that they serve the overall purpose of the work.

The lack of character present in the film's cinematic elements are compensated for somewhat by a range of likeable performances from the supporting cast, chief among them Michael Caine, who replaces Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth. Caine is refreshingly unposh, while retaining the understated wit of prior incarnations, and bringing a fatherly warmth to the butler of Wayne Manor. I guess it's hard not to like Michael Caine, generally speaking, but Alfred might be my favourite of his performances next to his impeccable Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. Agreeable, reliable old Morgan Freeman. There's not much to say, he does what he does very well, even if it is nothing we haven't seen from him before. Jim Gordon, not yet commissioner, is played by Gary Oldman, and he comes off as a bit of a doofus, occasionally betraying his Englishness through inconsistent accent work, but he looks Gordonesque, far more than did Pat Hingle in the previous (alleged) continuity.

The wealth of content lifted from the comic books lends authenticity to the film, which is rich with elements and references lifted straight from the panels themselves, but the tone seems to have arisen partly from embarrassment, if not disgust at its comic book origins. The use of an amalgamation of real world metropoleis as a model, as opposed to the grandiose invention of previous films, often leaves Gotham City without even the semblance of a character of its own. While I'm wholly in favour of getting away from the nonsensical neon nightmares of Joel Schumacher, they could at least boast some unique and memorable architecture. Nolan's Gotham, realistic though it may be, is a city like any other, and in its universality it is reduced to a kind of nowhere, a state of being which reflects the film as a whole. Competence is consistently substituted for style, but there is little of value in mere competence. The platitudinous mantra “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” speaks of taking risks only as it applies to characters within the film, while its rote form and flat, simplistic vision more adequately suit the form of the film itself. No risks are taken here, Nolan is too competent and too satisfied by his competence for that.

Batman Begins is an underwhelming film. It lacks the stylishness of previous Batman films, and while, by varying degrees, it undeniably outdoes them in consistency of quality, it also cannot reach the heights that those less assured efforts could, even if it avoids the lows to which they sometimes sank. A mountain range is dangerous and difficult to cross, but a flat line provides little challenge or reward. See? I can do simplistic lines, too. Flaws can often add character and charm, but in Nolan's vision of Batman, the flaw is the lack of character itself. Character is often located somewhere in the margins, never allowed to take too much away from the central idea of a grounded superhero movie, something that can wipe away the occasionally mad excesses of what has come before it and replace them with the reassuring beige of competence. I, at least, find myself in the throes of desire for mad excess, if only to break from the monotony of “realism” as it is presented here. It seems, then, that where this Batman begins, I must stop.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: August 02, 2020, 08:32:45 PM »
Borderlands 2

Braindead loot grind with the most *holds up spork* humour imaginable. Lost interest pretty quickly. I guess it's more fun in co-op but I don't know anyone who has it or would want to play through a game that old.

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Just Watched
« on: July 29, 2020, 10:27:41 PM »
2020: A Buttshit Odyssey & Nipples

Batman & Robin (dir. Joel Schumacher)

How exactly do you follow a film like Batman Forever? The question must have been front of mind for Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman when they returned to the franchise to craft the fourth and final entry in Warner's first attempt at a Batman feature series. With both Schumacher and Goldsman being complete hacks, it is frankly surprising that they rose to the challenge of answering it as well as they did, which is about half as well as they would have had to were they to actually make a good film. Make no mistake, Batman & Robin is every bit the superior to its predecessor, it is more cohesive, more stylish, more deliberate, and more enjoyable, if only because it doesn't come across as being actively hostile towards the audience. Yet for every good idea there is a lingering cloud of noxiousness, for every great moment a dull quarter of an hour, for every refreshing change an inescapable reminder that you are watching the sequel to Batman Forever.
The film's first move is to both acknowledge its status as a sequel and to shit on the thing it is a sequel to. “I want a car,” says Robin. “Chicks dig the car.” “This is why Superman works alone,” Batman replies, almost rolling his eyes at the camera. Alfred completes the undoing of the previous film's opening exchanges with the line “I'll cancel the pizzas.” Through this, it makes a promise to the audience that it is proceeding in good faith with an attempt to deliver a knowingly silly Batman experience. Yet it fails to progress from that stage in a holistic way, rather some parts advance while others linger, entangled in the wreckage of prefatory catastrophe. This piecemeal approach to making improvements over the misbegotten formula of its prior efforts means that the film ends up being very much in two halves, one an agreeable camp caper, the other a mess of half-baked characters reciting often simply unfunny jokes in service of a story that doesn't make sense. In lieu of needlessly prolonging this review, so without delving into details of plot, I invite you to ponder this question: are there any plants that can thrive in an ice desert?
While many cast and crew members returned for the sequel, Val Kilmer did not. You could hardly blame him for wanting to be somewhere else, though of all the somewhere elses he could have ended up, The Island of Doctor Moreau was probably the one he was least prepared for. But Kilmer's absence is notable only because his replacement in George Clooney so effortlessly provides the qualities he could not. In a film like this, Batman absolutely has to be the unflappable straightman, someone who can deadpan his way through all the plot has to throw at him, and Clooney is most definitely up to the task. Very early on we see Batman skating down the spine of a model dinosaur after announcing, in a calmly assured voice, “Hi Freeze, I'm Batman.” It is of course ludicrous, but Clooney's unflinchingly suave coffee advertisement demeanour totally sells it. Chris O'Donnell's Robin is meanwhile thrust into being the comedy sidekick, a role which he is not best suited for. In the previous film he excelled, or at least came closest to excelling in quieter scenes which more or less called for plain, indeed borderline human charm, but here he is left floundering in the form of a wholly unnatural goofball while Alicia Silverstone sort of takes over the troubled-but-good-kid role he played previously. It isn't so much that O'Donnell lacks the chops for comedy, but that he is essentially performing the role of the ignition to the engine of this comedy and the key doesn't fit. 
The mismatch of role and player in Robin's case is nothing compared to that of Mr Freeze. In any other possible world, Arnold Schwarzenegger, forever best known for playing a cold, emotionless killing machine in The Terminator, would have been perfect for playing a cold, emotionless cure-researching machine here, but Akiva Goldsman and whoever else clearly ignored the superlative—and surely most popular with this film's alleged target audience—version voiced by Michael Ansara in Batman: The Animated Series, so Schwarzenegger is staggeringly miscast. The infamous ice puns rarely make any sense and are only ever remotely funny because they're so incredibly awful. There is a reason the “ballpoint banana” joke from the 1966 Batman works, and that is Burt Ward's complete earnestness of delivery. There's no grinning or winking, just a straight-faced, clear-voiced annunciation of absurdity. Arnie meanwhile bites chunks out of the scenery like he's bulking for Mr Universe. Of course, by this time no one would have expected much else from Schwarzenegger, who had since the mid-'80s become a mainstay of the Hollywood action-comedy blockbuster scene, providing a springboard to questionable comedies like Junior and Jingle All the Way, as well as increasingly mediocre action movies like Eraser. The two meet in Batman & Robin, which should have been the nadir of his career, but alas, who among you could have foreseen four more Terminator sequels, let alone his starring in three of them?
As ever, these characters inhabit Gotham City, which returns in a more fleshed-out and stylish vision that can occasionally impress the eye. In Batman Forever it was reduced to a kind of lifeless neon interstice between scenes of questionable cohesiveness, here it is not so much a believable city as it is a gigantic art museum, but at the very least it has physicality and style. In its design it pays homage to Fritz Lang's Metropolis, with elevated roads snaking their way around gigantic statues, but here all is surface, and the answer to the question “why did you put that there?” is “because!”, which goes some way to summing up the film itself. Unlike in Batman Returns, there is little sense of society (that's another eleven years down the line, folks) in the Gotham of this film, the characters exist pretty much entirely apart from the broader world around them. Not that, for example, a man in a diamond-powered exosuit (the only remotely subtle ice pun in the entire film, by the way) who goes around freezing people has to have a deep relationship to his context to be effective as a villain, but Mr Freeze seems to have nothing at all to do with the world he inhabits, and this is not addressed in a way that makes it appear deliberate, if it is even addressed at all. Everything we see of Gotham is supersized to match the operatic performances it is intended to contain, but there are precious few combinations of role and player that can actually expand to fill such a space, and this leaves Batman's beloved city feeling empty for entirely different reasons than it did in the previous film.
In fact, when I say “precious few,” I actually mean “precisely one.” For there is among the main cast one above all else, a woman who could almost make you believe you're watching a better film. If ever a “yas queen” should escape my begrudging lips, let it be for Uma Thurman in this film. She throws herself into every line, every pose, every glance, every scene without the faintest care about looking stupid, which is precisely the fearlessness required to sell such questionable goods. From knowingly clichéd eco-warrior to genocidal plant goddess, there isn't a moment in the entire film when Thurman is both on screen and outdone. The only problem is that she's playing Catwoman from two films ago. Pamela Isley sees something she wasn't supposed to, her boss kills her, she comes back with superpowers to get her revenge. When the best part of your film is just one ingredient of a much better film warmed over, you should rethink just what in the heck you're doing, but since “you” in this sentence is either one of or an almost definitely satanic fusion of both Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman, maybe it is in fact I who should rethink just what in the heck I'm doing. Besides inviting the unflattering comparison to better days, the film also serves the Poison Ivy character poorly by encumbering her with weak practical effects and even worse CGI. Poison Ivy has the potential to be a one-woman circus, and Thurman is more than a match for any level of lavishness, but she is consistently undercut in the phantasmagoria department by lacklustre support.
But what wasn't Pamela Isley supposed to see? What was it that brought forth her untimely demise? I'm torn between “a golden retriever with gland problems” and “a man in an inflatable rubber suit,” so for one time only you get two (count em') shitty yet accurate and dismissive jokes for the price of one, said price probably being your patience. Bane is pretty much a non-entity throughout the film, his job is to be large and throw less large people around, and to respond to button presses like some kind of Pavlovian golden retriever with gland problems (three! ...sort of! (count 'em)). Professional wrestler Robert Swenson, who wrestled for WCW and other promotions, plays the beefed up version of Bane, but his mat skills are not really put to any good use here. It's unfortunate, since, for all the supposed homoeroticism in this film, one would think that the chance to have a big muscular man do a thing he is good at would not be passed up. But alas. Well, I guess so far as Swenson is a supremely large lad, his performance is successful. Bizarrely, one of his most active scenes is to the film's detriment, highlighting one of the major tonal issues it struggles with, or rather ignores throughout. The Turkish bath scene, in which Poison Ivy has him throw a bunch of street punks out of a derelict building, features numerous cartoon sound effects that feel totally out of place. Taken at face value it is a relatively minor blunder, yet one which brings to mind the deep-seated identity confusion of Batman Forever. While the film makes overtures to outlandishness, its stagey acting style and often clunky action scenes mean that attempts to play up an atmosphere of cartooniness rather than of operatic drama fail miserably.
Opposed to the one-dimensional Bane, Alicia Silverstone plays Barbara Wilson, this film's Batgirl, with not so much multi-dimensionality but rather the sense of lots of individual unconnected dimensions existing in separate realities. With the Hardyesque Pat Hingle playing Commissioner Gordon, there's no way Silverstone could have convincingly played his daughter, so it makes sense to shoogle the role around a little. Instead of the usual ties, then, Barbara Wilson is in fact a relative of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred is sick and Barbara has come to petition Bruce Wayne to send Alfred back to his native England, where he may live out his final days in the bosom of family. I bring this up not to pad out the review, but because this sub-plot, while as vigorously bungled as one might expect, is a nice send-off for Michael Gough, who returns to play the much mistreated butler one last time. As for Silverstone, her performance is, as previously mentioned, quite strange. In her very second scene she sleepily proclaims “both of my parents were killed in a car accident five years ago,” which I must confess caused me to burst out laughing. Her nonchalant line delivery and not-all-there smile are presumably intended to be read as an affectation of unassumingness by which she hides her true rebellious biker chick hacker chick ten-words-per-minute chick self, but in practice she simply appears to be high. Despite having just arrived in Gotham, on break from “Oxbridge Academy,” she speaks without the faintest hint of received pronunciation (this is probably for the best), and is furthermore intimately familiar with the meet locations and customs of the city's underground bike racing scene. (Said scene is apparently being run by Coolio, who, originally just a cameo, has been revealed to have been playing Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow. If you think that sounds like complete nonsense, it is, but it's also true.) Her performance is as confused as the role itself, yet as Batgirl, Silverstone's scenes have probably the most straight up fighting of any of the main cast's, and she also has the best hero/villain banter in her scene with Poison Ivy.
With the main cast now fully accounted for, surely there can be no love interests? Well, you'd be right, and also wrong. Elle Macpherson, one of several supermodels featured in the film, plays Bruce Wayne's girlfriend Julie Madison, a throwback to Batman's original run on Detective Comics. I will, broken record as I am, now talk about past episodes from the annals of cinematic Batlove history. Vicki Vale is nothing special, but her relationship with Bruce Wayne and Batman begins as two separate threads which weave together over the course of the film, culminating in the third act. Selina Kyle brings this idea to new heights by having her alter ego act as an adversary to Batman while she romances Wayne, and by having their dual natures so closely mirror one another. Chase Meridian, well, she's at least involved in both sides of Bruce's life. Julie Madison simply sits or stands near Wayne in some scenes but mostly just doesn't exist. We're supposed to believe that there is some conflict when Wayne, under the lingering effects of Poison Ivy's pheromones, spaces out during a kiss with Madison, but Madison's sparse appearances render her a thin gruel of a character, and there is not a moment that, despite the false amours of Poison Ivy fogging his mind, we can ever believe that Wayne gives a shit about her in the first place. Given that there is no indication that Macpherson can act, this is probably for the best, and Madison is thus saved from being the worst of the Batman love interests in the first Warner series only by virtue of the fact that, unlike Chase Meridian, she is completely irrelevant to the main action of the film.
So that's Batman & Robin. It far outstrips Batman Forever, but it can almost never be spoken of positively in itself, only in relation to the disaster that precedes it, and too many of its own failings are reminiscent of said disaster for it to successfully make the case that it has learned and moved on from it. Add to that the fact that so much of its good parts are either homages or perhaps unwitting reiterations of good things in previous Batman films and you end up with something that can't with any sincerity be heralded as an actual improvement, the same bunch of idiots simply got luckier overall with their selections of material this time around. Schumacher, may he rest in peace, I suppose knew he was making some bullshit, and later on he went so far as to apologise for his contributions to Batman's career on the silver screen. Yet at the time this film was released, a third, or rather fifth entry was slated for production. Batman Unchained, which was to feature cameo Coolio as Scarecrow, and allegedly, and most bafflingly, Jack Nicholson returning as Joker, was planned to be a darker and more serious Batman, closer to the comic books of which Schumacher claimed to be a fan, but the box office intervened and for better or for worse we shall never know what hell may yet have been unleashed, or unchained, or whatever. Well, looks like I'm running out of things to say, guess that's my cue to put this review on ice!

Arts & Entertainment / Re: Cyberpunk 2077 E3
« on: June 23, 2020, 09:33:40 AM »
That's some nice thinking there buddy.

Apologies, I forgot about generic fantasy games that span multiple genres, as well as PUBG and its clones...

Unironically, though, can you suggest some actual decent PC titles? I generally respect your opinion and all I have done with this overpowered PC I purchased is play a broken, unfinished (never-to-be finished) spaceshit simulator, the 69th iteration of D O O M, and a 16-bit clone meme game.

Since Cybermeme 2069 isn't ever going to be released we may as well do something useful with this thread.

It's true that PC has traditionally lent itself to FPS, online games, strategy games, RPGs etc., and a lot of the games that are developed first for PC now do end up being ported to consoles, but it's worth noting that a great many games will run far better on PC (especially if you have a meme machine) than on any console currently available. So apart from console exclusives and bad ports of console originals (including multi-platform releases where PC was an afterthought like newer Elder Scrolls/Fallout titles, although in the case of those games you can mod them to make them slightly less garbage), most of the time you're getting a better deal playing on PC, especially since it's so easy to set up a controller now.

The big strength of PC as a platform today, and also one of its weaknesses, is ease of access for small independent developers. It means that you get a lot of lazy clones and meme 8-bit/16-bit style games, true, although quite a few of the latter are good if you can look past the retro art style, which has become cliché. Here are some good games that are either PC exclusives or were developed for PC first, came out in the last ten years, and don't necessarily conform to what you'd expect from a PC title:
  • Baba Is You is a pixel art logic operator puzzle game in which you screw with every aspect of the level to get the solution. Using the rabbit Baba, you push words around to affect the properties of world objects, allowing you to, for example, walk through walls, walk on lava, or even change the win condition.
  • Less retro styled but on a similar-ish theme, Hack 'n' Slash is a 2D Zelda type game that lets you edit scripts on objects (including enemies) to change their properties/behaviours and basically break the game however you want, while also potentially making it impossible to beat.
  • Lastly on the hacking theme, Hacknet is a text-based game which may scratch your cyberpunk itch, at least for style. The writing is a little memey for my taste, but if you want to hack into some servers and steal some data it's a good time.
  • Superhot is a tactical FPS in which time passes only when you move. Each level is pretty short and intense and very very easy to screw up.
  • Hotline Miami is a top-down shooter with great presentation and level design based around working out the optimal path through each stage.
  • Subnautica is a first person survival game. I don't normally enjoy survival mechanics, but this game has a beautiful ocean world to explore and great atmosphere, and looking for crafting materials and stuff feels more like an adventure than a chore.
  • Hollow Knight is a metroidvania style game which takes some inspiration from Dark Souls with its death mechanics. For the record I only played a couple of hours of this one, but it has a nice art style and atmosphere, and the movement/combat feels good.
None of those are going to push your PC, so if you're looking for master race games that will justify the amount of money you spent unfortunately it's either Scam Shitizen or AAA multi-platform releases like Control—you should also definitely get Sekiro btw. Because I am poor I haven't played a whole lot of new stuff, so I can't say what's good that came out this year, but PC also has a great library of older games, many of which have been updated for compatibility with newer versions of Windows. If you've never played oldschool Command & Conquer, the original Fallout games, or Diablo II, to name just a few, they're all worth checking out.

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