Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Avengers: Age of Ultron

In addition to renting Jurassic World the other day, I also managed to pick up Age of Ultron.

Entertaining but...

To me, Age of Ultron is some well written character drama filled with long fights that probably would've looked better on paper as opposed to the long drawn out mess they were. Sometimes a fight scene is just TOO long.

Now I'm not a purist. In the comics, Hank Pym, the original Ant Man, is the creator of Ultron. Here, it's a combination of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. In the comics, the Vision is purely the creation of Ultron. Here it's a cross between Ultron, a mad scientist, Bruce and Tony.

Do I think they missed some moments that would have come across fantastic in the movie? Like Thor telling Ultron, "We would have words with thee?" (From Avengers Vol 3 by Kurt and George)

Yup. Understandable though. Ultron has been around for decades.

It's not that the movie lacks and 'quip' moments. Captain America and his whole "language" bit has already been made into numerous memes including a great one with Dead Pool.

And it's not that Ultron voiced by James Spader isn't highly entertaining. He almost steals the show, much like Loki has in whatever movie he's appeared in. He's funny and crass, seemingly hyper intelligent yet way overconfident and unsure how he fits into things.

Perhaps it's just that there are too many characters? Hard to say.

Now for gaming purposes though? Fantastic movie. Hell, I can't tell you how many times a long drawn out fight saved my bacon in Champions using 4th Edition Hero back in the day. The rolling of dice, the calculation of damage, all time sucks that I could then use to hope I did a better job of prepping for the next game.

So what can you steal from the movie for your game? Well, if you've playing a superhero game and it doesn't already have a version of Ultron, there's Ultron. He's a robot who in this version at least, wants mankind to 'evolve' or die. Kind of like a real mean version of the older comic character, the High Evolutionary.

In the comic though? Ultron is all about eliminating mankind. All about the end of organic life. All about being the ultimate bad ass. In Champions, that would be Mechanon. Pretty much a straight motif take save for his origin.

For other bits?

There's the whole "don't show a gun if you're not going to use it." In this instance, Hawkeye is injured early on and is healed with some amazing technology. That technology is then the showcase of how the Vision gets built.

Then there's give the players enough rope. For instance, the Scarlet Witch goes around messing with people's minds in this movie. Thor in particular suffers a bad vision. But in this instance, he seeks out further guidance on that vision. If a player has a background that allows him to incorporate it into his character and into the ongoing game? Take it and run! One of the potential problems with a 'group' session is that the 'group' is too much in the spotlight.

The villains turn! One of the bits this movie has, is actually rooted in the comics. When first introduced as mutants way back in the day, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were minions of Magneto! They later joined the Avengers.

Here, the duo have a hate for Stark because Stark technology was being used to bomb their country and they hold Tony personally responsible for the death of their parents, undergoing intense treatments to become augmented enough to fight against the Avengers.

Their quest is personal. When it turns out Ultron wants an extinction level event... well, they are less than pleased with it.

Minions! One of the things that Mutants & Masterminds did well was the one hit villains and their minions. Sure, you could do the same in Champions if you wanted to really low ball the point creation and character ability and in Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, they never really used it effectively, but it's can be mighty satisfying to have a lot of villains around that everyone can take out. This can allow characters like Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America to be useful while the big guns such as Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk do the heavy lifting.

I enjoyed Age of Ultron more than Jurassic World. It's a bigger setting, it has more characters, it has more going on. It has a feel of continuity that Jurassic World acknowledges was there, but is self contained overall.

Age of Ultron works better when you're familiar with the rest of the characters and their franchises and all of that is going to lead into bigger movies down the road. It's an interesting way of making movies and I'll be curious to see how well it plays out and hopefully continue to mine it for ideas.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jurassic World

I'm way behind on so much entertainment that it's not even funny.

Take Jurassic World.

Some interesting ideas here that role playing games have been stealing since before the first Jurassic Park book was written. If you need any proof  hunt down a copy of Isle of Dread by TSR from way back in the day.

Gamers have known since day one that dinosaurs are cool even if they have no special abilities.

As far as movies go, it's terrible. It has a few saving graces, most of those being the ever improving amount of technology in the movies that create the world that the dinosaurs are living in.

The people? Utterly stupid. The scenarios they wind up in? Equally stupid. The lack of injury? Amazing.

I'd strongly suggest the guys writing and making future Jurassic Park-World movies watch Die Hard again and take notes on how bloody, injured, and battered the main hero is at the end. It shouldn't be a "Man, I sure did sweat a lot!, I'm going to need a new shirt!"

Outside of things like, you know, heels not breaking regardless of the circumstances. I was surprised she didn't use of of her shoes to smash a raptor's head in, Shoe survived every other catastrophe known to man.

There are many many issues.

It's a semi-futuristic world and the phone service stucks? No one knows how to text?

Military specialists don't realize the time and training needed to enable a small group of semi-trained raptors as opposed to a grand scale?

I could go on and have already gone on too much to not talk about the "fun" parts.

1. Monsters are smarter than you think they are: Jurassic Park made the raptors so smart that it became a running gag cartoon shows like Family Guy. While it's good to have a lot of dumb monsters that are there only to get the beat down, have a few of them be capable of surprising the good guys.

2. Mad Science! Fantasy games already have the owl bear and actual classics of fantasy like the griffon and other beasts that mix multiple animals into one type of animal. When you start throwing dinosaurs and other fantasy monsters into the mix, fun things can happen! 3.5 and Pathfinder with their use of templates can get a lot of the mechanical work done in such instances.

3. Island Mix: One of the fun things about say Jurassic Park, is that it all takes place on an island. Imagine though if you start to mix things up. The characters get home and find out there's some talk of a plague or that over in Europe people are coming down with a 'rage' virus? That monkeys are taking over the cities? Hell, the island might be the last place that's safe from the other stuff out in the wider world at that point. Some versions of the Isle of Dread have it 'float' through various dimensions although it's been pinpointed to both Mystara and Greyhawk and I'm sure that some have pegged it into the Forgotten Realms because you know, why not?

Jurassic World has a lot of things going for it in terms of visuals. In terms of sound. In terms of representation of action. It's not going to win any consistency awards or any awards for best actor but if you want to see a gene spliced super raptor tearing it up across an island of people and prey, or people who are prey, it's a solid movie and can get the 'adventure' blood flowing.