TepidShark's 2014 Movie Awards

I continue to love Giant Bomb, but I don't play as many games as I used to. However, I watch a lot of movies, and with Screened gone this year, I figured I would post here about the best and worst from this year in movies.

Best 2013 movie that I didn’t get to until 2014: All is Lost

I left 2013 feeling that for the most part it was not a great year for movies. After going back, there were a few more movies that I ended up liking from 2013. Her, 42, & The Place Beyond the Pines are few examples. What stood out about All is Lost, is how much of a bold statement it was. If you have only one character and very little dialogue, that is a hard thing to keep people’s attention for 90+ minutes. Yet, you are engaged the whole time. Yes, it is Gravity on the sea, but on some level it is better then Gravity, because they leave some things open to interpretation. All is Lost is a one of a kind experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Biggest Disappointment: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

I recently got the Blu-Ray of the original Sin City (It is a very good Blu-Ray too) and it is incredible how much the storytelling and visuals hold up. That said that was 2005. It took them nearly a decade to tell more stories in that world, and it is ultimately a letdown. To be fair, the actual A Dame to Kill For segment was well done, but the other two show promise and run out of steam by the end. After the watching Sin City, I wanted more Sin City. After A Dame to Kill For, I don’t need anymore.

Criterion of the Year: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

This was the first year I started to pay attention to the Criterion Collection and there is a lot of great stuff in there. This year, they re-issued the mind blowing Ace in the Hole, I got to see the original Insomnia, and marveled at the adorable Fantastic Mr. Fox, among many other great ones they put out this year. If Disney’s Fantasia didn’t exist, Mad World would be my favorite movie of all time and their treatment of Mad World is stellar. In addition to a high quality transfer of the theatrical version, they have finally put together all available bonus footage for the extended version, I have been longing for. Plus, there is a ton of great bonus material including the cast promoting the film, that I’m surprised has never been put out before. This is the version of Mad World fans have been waiting years for, and I could not be happier because of it.

2014 movie I didn’t get to, that I most want to see: Lucy

In any given year, there are plenty movies I can’t get to, but intend on wanting to see. Others from this year include Frank, Boyhood, The Fault in Our Stars, The Drop, Kill the Messenger, St. Vincent, Big Eyes, and many others. In fact, I came very close to giving Birdman the honor, but Lucy looks like my kind of movie. It looks like the kind of bat shit crazy that I would hope for. If it really is the dark gangster tale like The Professional mixed with the insanity of The Fifth Element, that sounds like something I have got to see.

Worst Movie: Transcendence

It is really easy to get down on the fact that this year had a fourth Transformers movie, (I have only seen the first one, and I thought that was terrible. From what people tell me they only get worse) but to be honest, I didn’t see this specific one. I think the reveal of who is behind what is going on in Non-Stop is stupid, but until that time, that movie is fun bad. Transcendence is just the worst. The leaps in logic in that film make no sense. It is just the worst kind of paranoia about technology and the future I have seen. I’m no futurist, but I seriously doubt anything that happens in that movie could actually happen in real life, and that would be fine, if they weren’t trying to portray it as a warning to people about the future, but they take it super seriously. It is the very definition of a mess of a movie.

Top Ten of 2014

10. 22 Jump Street

The Jump Street movies are a lot of fun, but if 22 was just 21 again, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. 22 has even more fun with the nature of exceeding expectations and sequels while at the same time maintaining the nuts atmosphere of the first one. And that credits sequence is one of the best things I have seen in a while.

9. Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer had a semi-crazy story about making it to our shores, so it is incredible that the director’s vision of that movie came out here. And while that vision may borrow from other films like Elysium, the way they show that is one of the most bizarre and visually interesting films of the year.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy

Most people thought Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be a disaster. I never really thought that. The idea of The Dirty Dozen in space mixed with Marvel’s track record seemed like a no-brainer to me. And yeah, it tries a little too hard in spots, but Guardians is ultimately a film that just fills you with joy.

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

This year turned into the year of Wes Anderson for me. Before, I had never really liked him, but this year I saw both The Life Aquatic & Fantastic Mr. Fox and found them enjoyable but not classics. With the mad-cap caper film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson finally made a film that I truly loved.

6. Gone Girl

David Fincher has been slowly turning into one of my favorite modern directors. If Her last year was about how people connect in relationships, then Gone Girl is about how they disconnect. I also appreciate how both men and women are equally to blame when it comes to the breakdown in a relationship. Gone Girl is yet another addition to Fincher’s already stellar catalog.

5. Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow had the ability to be either really stupid or something completely forgettable. Instead it is the surprise film of the year. It is really astounding how well the idea of action sci-fi Groundhog’s Day works. And unlike Transcendence, the concept being taken seriously only helps sell the idea to the audience. It may go down as an underrated gem, but it is one that shouldn’t be missed.

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I feel like I’m one of the only people who liked the first Captain America, but I genuinely enjoyed the idea of a World War II superhero film. With the Captain going into modern times, the world is less black & white and it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. The Winter Soldier is the best kind of Marvel storytelling, the kind that uses their characters to tell a story that reflects the state of our world. It is the Marvel film for the times we live in.

3. The Imitation Game

Alan Turing is a figure that not many people seem to be familiar with. Yet, our modern world might not be the same without him. But that is not what makes The Imitation Game fantastic. It is ability to blend several genres like a romance film, war story, and spy thriller, is something that has to be commended. It’s one of the best stories and best performances of the year.

2. Noah

I’m not really a religious person. So the thought of a movie about Noah, doesn’t sound like it would be that appealing. What Darren Aronofsky has done with this film, is make a film that tells the story of Noah without it having to be attached to religion per se. He also does a masterful job at making Noah a conflicted figure, and makes you question if Noah’s decisions are the right one. It is an incredibly thoughtful and well-realized film.

1. The Lego Movie

It may be a bad thing that the first new film I saw this year, also ended up being my best film of the year. Yet, The Lego Movie has everything you could want in a movie. Even though it is CGI, it looks beautifully handcrafted. The humor is legitimately funny, appealing to both kids and adults. But the best thing about The Lego Movie, is its message, which is that being creative is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated. It can’t think of a more engaging and memorable film this year.


The Giant Bomb Show Pilot (A Video Editing Exercise)

I seem to recall Jeff once saying that if they managed to work out a deal so that Giant Bomb could be on TV, he would do that, as he wants their content to ultimately be everywhere. However, if something like that were to happen, I doubt Giant Bomb would be interested in producing a bunch of original content specifically for TV. Instead they would probably prefer to take a bunch of their pre-existing content and re-purpose it for TV. 
So for an editing exercise, I took a few quick looks from the site edited them down to fit within about 44 minutes and wrapped in what a TV style presentation might look like. I will describe some of my editing decisions at the bottom of this post but generally my editing decisions were guided by the audience being people who aren't familiar with Giant Bomb and/or who don't follow video games as closely as some of us do. But it was still important to keep Giant Bomb's point of view in that they are half informational and half entertaining. So, with that mind you can view a playlist of the show here or below is the show in parts (because I don't want to pay google money to upload a 45 min video). Either way, imagine there being a commercial break in between the parts. 
Part 1: 

 Part 2: 
 Part 3:  
Part 4: 
 Part 5:   
Part 6: 


 Methods to my Madness

  • I chose the quick looks that I did because I wanted ones where the guys were on screen so somebody not familiar with who they are could associate a name with a face. If they were to do this for real they would probably go with more recent quick looks for sure. Could have put Wii stuff in there but that stuff wasn't in HD.
  • Since the quick looks I chose were from the old office, I thought I should be consistant and use footage in the intro from the old office. Again if they were to do this for real they would probably use stuff from the current office.
  • I do not intend to diminish the work that Dave & Drew do for the site by giving them a "with" credit, they are not in quick looks as often as the others, but more importantly they are not in any of the quick looks I chose to use. And yes Alex Navarro does work for the site, but he does not appear in videos anymore.
  • I admit that editing down the quick looks makes it a little jumpey. I did consider putting transitions between my cuts but I thought it too weird to have a dissolve or something every few seconds. So this probably the better of the two outcomes.
  • The model for the technical structure of the piece was how BBC America edits Top Gear. The big thing that came from that was the coming up bumpers.
  • I personally don't have some moral thing against swearing but as the idea was that this would be on TV generally swearing is bleeped (Plus it is kind of fun to put in bleeps). Different channels handle it differently but generally it seemed like in my research I found that "fuck", "shit", "ass-hole (but not ass)", and any direct references to sex are bleeped. I kept double-entendres in, but I don't really know if I was supposed to or not.
  • Small note: in the Kinectimals quick look I do know that Arthur Gies is no longer with Joystiq, but I thought I should keep him as being from Joystiq out of consistency.
Any other questions about my methods I will be glad to answer in the comments below.  

Things that could be added or changed

  • I considered giving them jokey job titles for their tags. For example, I was thinking about in the Sports Champions quick look tagging Ryan as a "Sports Champion" and Jeff as a "Coach of Sports Champions". I didn't do it because I figured people unfamiliar with who these guys are would want to know who they actually are. However, I could have easily gone towards jokey tags because it fits with Giant Bomb's personality.
  • Didn't have time to implement this, but I thought it could have been a cool idea to put fun facts that the guys don't mention in the video. I thought of this while watching the recent Sleeping Dogs quick look. In that one, they don't know what the name of Hong Kong's currency is. You could pop up a thing that says, "The currency in Hong Kong is Hong Kong dollars"
Well that is all, hope you enjoyed it. 
PS. Final Cut Pro 7 was what I used.

The World Ends With You Music Remixes from Kingdom Hearts 3DS

I am also putting up the original versions so you guys can compare:

Twister (Original Version):

Twister (Kingdom Hearts 3DS Version):

Calling (Original Version):

Calling (Kingdom Hearts 3DS Version):

Someday (Original Version):

Someday (Kingdom Hearts 3DS Version):

I never played The World Ends With You but considering offbeat the soundtrack seems, it seems like something really unique. I am now going to check it out.


The State of Square Enix

Much has been made about how hard of a time the video game industry in Japan has had it this generation. It seems to me that Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Onimusha, Dead Rising) is the only one on the Japanese side who understands how much trouble they are in. Yet, when he spoke out about this, most of the game industry in Japan laughed at him. But what they do not realize is that he was right. This generation, for the most part, has seen the rise of western games, and the slow downfall of Japan in the games market. That is kind of a shame, because no one makes games like Japan does.

I feel no Japanese game company is stuck in the past more then Square Enix. When it comes to Square Enix and me, I admit that the only series they put out that I am actually interested in is Kingdom Hearts. Yet, while I do not claim to have any knowledge of the business of the video game industry, from the outside, I look at the way they run their operation and think it is being run by crazy people. I remember Square Enix saying at one point that the three pillars of company would be Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy. However, this generation and its long development times have proved that that business plan does not work anymore, but no one seems to have let Square Enix know that.

Dragon Quest is a huge franchise in Japan, so popular that they cannot release it on weekdays because no one will go to school if they do. Following the Square and Enix merger, one of their goals was to increase Dragon Quest’s popularity worldwide. They made a huge push with Dragon Quest 8. They made a few changes to make the game appealing to western audiences. They even included a demo for the then unreleased Final Fantasy 12 in the package. It did not matter though, as not many in the west cared about the game. Since then Dragon Quest 9 was a DS game, and the upcoming Dragon Quest 10 for the Wii and Wii U is an MMO.

Kingdom Hearts and its follow-up Kingdom Hearts 2 were insanely well–liked. In fact, the first Kingdom Hearts was Square Enix’s highest selling PS2 game in North America (worldwide it was Final Fantasy 10). 2008 was the last time to date Kingdom Hearts graced the consoles with the North American only release of Re: Chain of Memories, and since then the series has been a series for portable systems. While I feel Birth by Sleep for the PSP was a great game that is on the level of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, most people believe, like the other portable games, that it is just another spin-off. This kind of misconception cannot be good when it comes to sales. Plus, since less and less people are playing portables, I would imagine that, since it has such long time since the last major console game, people (especially who do not follow video games that closely) might not even remember what Kingdom Hearts is.

Finally, there is Final Fantasy. The three major Final Fantasy games (Final Fantasy 11 not being one of them) were easily the biggest successes for them worldwide on the PS2. So it was not surprising that when this console cycle began that Final Fantasy would be the franchise they would lead with. They announced Fabula Nova Crystallis, a massive project that included two PS3 games and a cell phone game (later turned PSP game and dropped from the project). However, Final Fantasy XIII (like Metal Gear Solid 4) seemed to take longer then they expected, to the point where I wondered if that was a game that would actually be released. I did think it was smart of them to release the game on 360 as well. When the game was finally released in 2010 (about four years after it was announced) it sold pretty well, critics blasted it as being the epitome of dated game design. It makes one wonder if it was worth all the effort. Now they working on Final Fantasy 13-2, but I just do not know if the general public is really interested.

Meanwhile the Kingdom Hearts team is making yet another game in the project titled Final Fantasy Versus 13. Announced around the same time as Final Fantasy 13, the game has had the same troubled development as that game. In fact, it was never confirmed, but it is widely believed that because Final Fantasy 13 was having such problems that staff from Versus had to go over to that team to make sure the game got finished. It is only recently that Tetsuya Nomura has announced the game had entered full development. The game is still currently a PS3 exclusive, but I seriously doubt that will remain the case.

So here we are. Many are expecting this generation to be over in 2013, and Square Enix has put out one game in only one of the franchises out of three that they said would be the pillars of the company on the two major consoles. It seems they continue to live in a world where their games are the biggest event worldwide, and that is just not the case anymore. In fact, had they not bought Eidos, I think they would be much worse off then they are.

An example of what could be done with Square Enix HD Collections

What can they do? I feel they actually have the most to gain from this recent trend of HD remakes. Sure they plan to do Final Fantasy 10 HD, but they need to go further than that. From what see there are at least three HD collections they could put out: Final Fantasy 10 Collection (10 and 10-2), Kingdom Hearts Collection (Kingdom Hearts, Re: Chain of Memories, 2, and Birth by Sleep), and Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 Collection (Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core). Plus, they could also do Final Fantasy Type-0, Final Fantasy 12 and Dragon Quest 8 as HD versions as well. Yet, what Square Enix has that no one else has is International Versions/Final Mixes that no one outside of Japan has played. If they put those out in North America and Europe, made an effort to market that those were versions North America and Europe have never played before, that could be huge for them.

As far as new games go, they will eventually put out Final Fantasy 13-2 and Versus 13. Then the way Kingdom Hearts has been going I would expect Kingdom Hearts 3 to happen but probably on the next consoles. However, following that I strongly feel that Square Enix should take a long hard look at how they make games and run their business. The industry is moving towards a worldwide mindset, whereas Square Enix still runs with a Japanese mindset. They will need to change their operation or they will be in for a rude awakening in a few years.


My Time at Whiskey Media: A Failed Internship Application Attempt

Over a month ago, I found myself in the San Francisco-based Whiskey Media office eager to prove that I was worth them taking me on as a future intern for the Fall of 2011. This was the final stop of a journey that had lasted over a year. Even though it did not work out for me, I am writing this to tell you guys about my story, discuss what a future internship applicant can expect, and help you learn from where I went wrong.

Like most people who follow Whiskey Media, my first introduction to idea that they were taking on interns was Matt Kessler. Sure anybody would be jealous of the position he got in, but imagined he got the gig through some agency or a random notice on a college bulletin board or something (it was only later that I learned that he had done a lot of community stuff). He was followed by Steve, and I thought, good for them, but I could not even come close to even being considered for something as they must be picked from some source that I did not know about.


It was only later on that Ethan put up this notice calling on the community to apply for internship at Whiskey Media. While I normally live in Berkeley (which if you do not know is about 30 minutes by subway from San Francisco), at the time he posted that I was studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Still, I submitted a resume and Ethan said it would be a good idea to contact him in the Spring (it was August 2010 at the time) for applying for a Summer 2011 internship. He also mentioned that living in the bay area was a plus.

This was where I probably made my first mistake, as him saying that made me think I had a good chance. I then started imagining if I got the internship what I contribute to the sites without being invasive. I was getting ahead of myself. When I returned to the Bay Area/United States, I let Ethan know that I had returned. But when I first contacted him I titled the PM “Update”, which I should have taken into account that Ethan would look at that title and delete it as it says nothing about you are writing about.

As the New Year began, Kessler and Steve had left, and for the longest time Whiskey Media was sans interns for several months. This made me concerned that Whiskey Media had canceled their internship program for good. All I could do was stay tuned to Whiskey’s programming and Ethan’s Blog on Giant Bomb for updates. Finally, what I considered to be Spring (April) had arrived and I submitted my resume again. This time Ethan wanted an interview in person. The problem this time was that I was at Southern Oregon University finishing up my final quarter of my undergraduate studies in Video Production. Another mistake I could have made was that I should have been better available. He told me to let him know when I had finished.

Ethan is serious when it comes to hiring interns!

However, while waiting for the quarter to be finish, this post showing the Summer internship lineup appeared. While I was excited for those who got chosen, I franticly wrote Ethan, worried that I had missed my chance. He assured me that openings were still available for September-December. So now I was applying for Fall instead of Summer, which was fine with me because it would give sometime between graduating and the beginning of the internship to rest and gather myself. As the quarter and my college experience drew to a close, I contacted Ethan and we arranged to meet for an interview the Friday after I got back.

So here I was about to go into my first out of college interview. I believed I had two things going for me: I lived in the bay area and not only did I major in video production but I had directed live television programs for the college television station. I was standing at door of the building where Whiskey is housed (they share it with several other companies). I pressed the button and it just kept ringing. I felt awkward, like I was supposed to do something else to get in that I did not know about. Finally, someone from another company answered the door and asked why I was there. I told him I was interviewing with Ethan Lance at Whiskey Media, and he directed me to Whiskey’s door within the building.

Just like that I was that I was there. This is the place I had seen over and over again in videos. I was near people I idolized for years and all I could think was, “Don’t say or do anything stupid!” Finally, Ethan showed up and we exchanged greetings. With all due respect to Ethan, I get the sense that he not the best at time management. In addition to scheduling four interns to work for Whiskey Media at once, we had previously arranged for our interview to be at 2 pm but he asked me if we had scheduled our interview at 2 or 2:30.

After getting that settled, he showed me briefly around the place before we decided on the bar for a place to conduct the interview. In some ways the interview was difficult because I wanted to make myself appealing to what Ethan was looking for, but at the same time getting across what I hoped get out of an internship at Whiskey. If I was to get an internship, in my ideal world, I would have loved to learn more my about my field of video production from Ana, Joey, Drew, and Vinny. They do my favorite work that Whiskey puts out.

Daniel was laid back, maybe too laid back.

During my interview with Ethan, I could sense an intenseness as if he were testing me to see what I was made of. The same was not true when Ethan stepped out, and Daniel entered. My conversation with Daniel was more laid back. Ethan’s interview was more what I would want to be doing at Whiskey, whereas Daniel’s interview was more about what my interests were. Though it was laid back, he did have a few surprises I was not expecting. I knew vaguely what I wanted to say, but when he asked me what would be a good gift for premium members (like me) who are contributing another $50 in September as part of their yearly subscriptions. I had to think for a little bit. I do not remember what I said but it probably could have been more creative.

Half way through the Daniel section, a wild Kessler appeared. This was unexpected even for Daniel. Kessler briefly joined the conversation. He asked me if Giant Bomb was my favorite Whiskey site, on account of I was wearing a Metroid T-shirt. I told him that while Giant Bomb had gotten me into Whiskey Media, it has been fun getting to know the other sites as well. I also mentioned that I was really excited about Screened.

The three of us chatted for a while then Kessler and Daniel left and had to get back to work. Ethan then returned and said that while he had to get back to work, I was welcome to stay for the Happy Hour. However, he told me not to disturb the staff, and to only talk to the interns. I took him at his word and was super quiet so as to not bother anyone. I am still not sure if this was the right thing to do. On the one hand, they do have work to do and I would not want to cause problems, but on the other hand I recently called Radio Dave last week and he said that that is just a scare tactic that Ethan uses. So in playing it back maybe I should have been livelier. I mean I was sitting next to Kessler when Dave comes up to him and assists him with whatever he was doing, and I do not doing anything. I do not even introduce myself to him for fear that I did what Ethan told me not to do. I still have no idea.

Anyway, I got to see this Happy Hour live, which was a ton of fun especially since I got to partially see how it got done. Ethan had to leave early, but I asked him when I would be hearing from him and he said the following week. However, the following week came and went without a word. I should have seen that that was not a good sign, but in my mind I thought that maybe they were still talking it over. Until finally, on the next Tuesday I got the message that I was not right for them. I had suspected this was case, but at least now it was official.

So where did I go wrong? I probably will never know, but I have my guesses. I probably should have been more willing to go the extra mile and be there to interview when he originally asked. I probably should not have gone so heavy into the video production on my resume because they probably were not looking for video production people. But mostly I should not have planned so far ahead and gotten my hopes up. I did not think that while we only see the people who get the internship, there are probably hundreds of people who get to the interview stage who do not end up getting to be an intern.

Am I disappointed? Yes, for sure I am disappointed. I thought some of the ideas of what I would do there were pretty solid. For example, I had an idea of how to frame the intern videos differently. I would be a reporter who has gone undercover as an intern without Whiskey knowing and the videos would be the reports I file. I thought it was a pretty good idea.

However, mostly I am disappointed about the missed learning opportunity. While I can not speak as to why most people apply to be an intern at Whiskey, I assume it is because most people think it is a fun place to be. I was hoping to be an intern as Whiskey as a chance to learn more. Whether it be how websites work, or more about video production, I just wanted continue to learn despite college being over. Oh well, one can not win them all, and if nothing else it is a good learning experience for applying to other internships or jobs. And if nothing else by not getting the internship it means I do not have to play Farmville for my job. So score one for me.

Update (3-15-12): In light of the announcement of Whiskey Media's split and relocations, I would like to add that I am truly thankful to have gotten a chance to visit the Front Street office when they were there. It is something I will always remember. Good luck to everybody who worked at Whiskey Media.


How Sonic is like Metallica.

For different people there are differing times when they lost interest in the Sonic series. For some people (including some of the Giant Bomb guys) the last good Sonic was Sonic 2, for others it was Sonic 3 & Knuckles, & for some it ended with Sonic Adventure.
This is not unlike people's opinion of Metallica. For some the last good Metallica album was Master of Puppets, for others it was And Justice for All, & for some people it ended with The Black Album.
It is a very similar dynamic.

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