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Incredibles 2: It’s incredible, too

Incredibles 2: It’s incredible, too

Forewarning. I do my best not to address anything beyond what can be seen in the trailers for Incredibles 2 in very specific detail in this pseudo-review. But just in case, consider this a spoiler warning, as I may throw some minor details around that I wouldn’t personally consider overtly spoiler-y.

You have been warned.



Full disclosure walking into this one: I absolutely adore the first Incredibles movie. Like I have no qualms admitting that my rose-tinted glasses were on securely when hearing this particular sequel was coming out.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the first movie, but as I found out while discussing things ahead of showtime with my friend Juan, I can still recall most of the film in striking detail.

I also recall a lot of things that happened surrounding the original movie’s release. I took a class field trip when I was in elementary school, where we all got to go to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to see a screening of The Incredibles together. I don’t quite remember why we had that field trip or who I was there with, but I distinctly remember doing it.

There was also a game based on The Incredibles for the Gameboy Advance that I played to death, not even fully aware of the fact that it was my first exposure to the ever-popular side-scrolling, arcade-styled beat-em-up genre.

So yes, I was pretty pre-disposed to enjoy Incredibles 2. It’s a universe I was excited to see on-screen again.

I absolutely loved this movie for what it was: A really fun family-centric movie that knew how to balance comedy, heart, a number of plots and — mostly — keep what I really liked about each character alive.

A lot of that love certainly comes out of the nostalgia factor. Seeing the characters I loved on-screen again was like visiting an old friend, and I was excited to see how their stories continued.

Being 14 years wiser meant I could see past the nostalgia enough to address what I didn’t necessarily like about the film as a film, both in terms of the overall plot and in terms of how the characters were treated. But I still really enjoyed the overall experience.

Where the movie primarily failed for me was in the fact that… Well… It’s a kids film.

Yes that’s an obvious thing to say when we talk about a Disney Pixar flick, but that fact really stood out to me.

It was obvious how I was well above the general demographic for the movie, as Juan and I were literally surrounded by eight-to-10 year-old children.

Pretty close to how old I must have been when the first film came out 14 years ago, to be fair.

But hey, you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy a Pixar film. That’s one of the big draws of them after all. So what exactly hit me about Incredibles 2 specifically?

Well… It’s incredibly, incredibly predictable. Pun somewhat intended.

The second the plot gets into motion, I knew exactly where it was headed in regards to the big bad of the film, and I was (mostly) spot-on. For anyone old enough to have some movie-going experience under their belt it’s telegraphed in an almost annoying manner.

There were a couple of times where I groaned seeing the characters on-screen not realize what was about to happen.

In a sense, that skepticism and older knowledge base somewhat ruined about a third of the movie for me.

That makes for a fairly good segway, actually. When you walk into Incredibles 2, you should expect to see three major divides in the movie.

After a great cold open making good on the cliffhanger ending to the first film, the plot splits in twine. Alternating between Elastigirl, Helen Parr, Mrs. Incredible — whatever you’d prefer to call her — going off to do superhero work while Mr. Incredible has to watch the kids, dealing with insecurity over being upstaged by his wife and dadly duties like math homework and boy drama.

The Elastigirl superhero portion of the film is the weakest part, in my opinion. There’s a lot of cool action scenes, mostly involving the sweet motorcycle she rides that can split in two as a way to use her powers while driving, and has some sweet moments watching her be successful.

However, the obviously telegraphed plot development makes her side of the story drag, as I constantly found myself waiting for the reveal I was expecting to be revealed.

I much preferred the Mr. Incredible side of the story, which was focused on the family’s dynamic. Particularly regarding the youngest Parr, Jack-Jack. While all of the children’s problems weighed heavily on Bob, trying to figure out how to deal with a baby that has every super powers with no control comprised a majority of the run time.

You watch Mr. Incredible descend into madness and it’s pretty funny the whole way through. As are the reactions of side characters like Sam Jackson’s Frozone and Brad Bird’s Edna. Jack-Jack really stole just about every scene he was in.

I had a particular fondness for Violet and Dash from the first movie, but they were somewhat sidelined in the second.

Violet’s portions of the film are excellent representations of the angsty teenager archetype, clichéd but well-done and very funny each time she has (frequent) angry outbursts.

Violet also winds up being the crux of the family’s dynamic and spurs much of the emotional moments for the rest of the characters. The interactions between her and her father are particularly lovely and stand-out. But her scenes are few and far between.

Dash, however, is somehow shafted further. There’s no moment in the second film that embodies the same youthful childlike wonder of Dash discovering the extent of his abilities, like when he runs on water for the first time in the original.

Instead Dash is very one-note: He’s bad at math/generally not responsible and he’s obsessed with cool gadgets.

I also have some gripes with how long Mr. Incredible seems to stick on the ‘jealous of his wife’ train for a lot of the film. It’s somewhat in-character, but there’s so much more he does in the movie that’s compelling that his jealous moments stick out like a sore thumb.

All of that may sound like I didn’t enjoy the film, but frankly it’s probably closer to accumulated nit-picks based on wanting more out of characters I’ve loved for a long time.

Eventually the superhero and family portions of the movie converge, and when they do, Incredibles 2 seriously kicks it up a couple notches.

I could’ve watched an entire movie just seeing more fun superhero family shenanigans.

Beyond the plot, Incredibles 2 is a gorgeous movie. Everything is crisp as hell after 14 years and does justice to the 50’s art deco comic look that I’m sure is partially why everyone remembers the first movie so fondly.

One example early on is a scene where Helen and Bob are sitting in front of a pool, and the animated water effects glowing up against them make for a great visual.

The only scene where the visuals really hurt more than they helped involved a room full of flashing lights where Helen fights the main villain. The lighting effects on the characters look amazing… But unfortunately it’s hard to focus on them with how much the screen flashes.

I’ll definitely recommend that anyone and everyone should go see the film, as even with my gripes against the story and certain characters, it’s an incredibly fun and engaging experience through-and-through.

One that I would say was 100 percent worth the 14 year wait.

I’ll look forward to Incredibles 3 in 2032.

Happy birthday, blog

As I’ve just been made aware, February 6, 2016 was the day I first created this blog.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-11-01-08-pm

I’m a little late to the party considering it’s about 11:00 p.m. or so when I’m writing this… But it’s been a bit of a long day, so forgive me.

To be completely honest, I never expected that this class assignment would turn into something that I continued to invest my time into.  Sure, a lot of the momentum was built by Pokémon Sun and Moon’s pre-release trailers and information leaks, but I also like to think this has been a great opportunity for me to keep myself writing both about things I enjoy and about whatever’s happening in my life and work.

Oh, and by keep writing, I mean writing a lot.  Seriously, I don’t know how many of these posts have hit over 3,000 words, but I know there are a lot of them.

So, to everyone who’s come to see me and my relentless rambling, and especially to whoever’s stuck around after seeing my relentless rambling the first time, I greatly appreciate it.

Here’s to more abuse of the written word for a long time to come!

Communications 202 productions for the fall 2016 semester

Today was the last day of the fall 2016 semester at Cal State Fullerton.  Next week is finals week, but I’ve gotten lucky with my classes and don’t have to go in for any exams.  There’s a final essay I have to do over the weekend and our final week-long Daily Titan production for the semester on Sunday… But otherwise, I’m essentially free for winter break.

For my Communications 202 class, which was an introductory broadcast production class, our entire semester was building up to producing an actual news broadcast – not a long one necessarily, but still.  All of the packaged reports and the roles preparing the anchored bits were made by the students in the class.  The productions we put together have both been posted online, the second one just earlier this afternoon in fact.

Because it’s an introductory class, things are put together a bit roughly… But considering they’re the culmination of a semester’s worth of work, I figure it would be cool to share the broadcasts we produced here.

For this first production, I was the assistant script writer for the full broadcast – everything outside of the packages themselves.  My own produced piece made it into this show in fact, the first story about Anaheim Ballot Measure U.  I’m a little tired of watching it after spending so much time recording and editing everything, but I still think it turned out pretty well.

For this second production, I was the chief script writer.  Just about everything the anchors said I was responsible for – and yeah it’s pretty cheesy, I know.  I wasn’t exactly putting my best effort into the work, we were hitting the end of the semester after all.

I was also the camera operator for the second show. That meant I was part of the “live” production team, making sure the anchors were properly visible and had the right amount of headroom and everything else that’s needed.  However, there were only three cameras in the newsroom we used, so the job became a bit more complicated when we had to use four or more camera angles to encompass multiple combinations of the three anchors.  I wound up having to mix my two jobs, setting the script up in a way to facilitate being able to move one camera to a new position while another was being used.

All-and-all I wound up having the most fun in that class doing the camera work along with the rest of the team who signed up for jobs on the show.  The rest of the class leading up to it was a little frustrating for various reasons, but I’d say the end made the whole thing worth it.

Since my final American Studies paper isn’t due until Monday, so I’m probably going to take at least the night off to relax.  However, now that the class is over, I feel it would at least be nice to give a shoutout to my Comm 202 professor, Penchan Phoborisut.  She’s a great teacher, and helped me at least get started in learning programs like Storify and Adobe Premiere Pro.  For that I’m grateful, considering they’re the kind of skills I’ll probably have to have a rudimentary knowledge of in this line of work at least.

So, until next time, I’m off to go play more Pokémon.  In fact, I’m thinking I’ll have an update on how that’s going at some point this weekend, since I’ve done quite a bit since beating the main campaign. For now though, let me know if you enjoyed our broadcasts.  They aren’t the most well-polished things, like I said, but for an amateur project I do think they turned out nice.

My (currently planned) Pokémon Sun and Moon team

My (currently planned) Pokémon Sun and Moon team

A game series like Pokémon, in which there are over 700 individual characters to choose from when pulling a team together, really lends itself to choosing favorites.  Everyone who has ever played a Pokémon game undoubtedly has a favorite monster, be it for their competitive viability, the strength of the character building and lore around them or simply the nostalgia factor.

Personally, my absolute favorite Pokémon of all time is the Hoenn native Psychic-type Gardevoir for a combination of all three. A powerful and feared hyper voice using Mega Evolution with a newly adopted Fairy-typing, a wonderful design alongside descriptors about emotional closeness with the its trainer and a consistent reminder of my childhood days visiting my Grandparent’s house in Florida, playing Pokémon Sapphire and catching a Ralts on Route 102 that would stick with me for the entire journey.  I always taught my Gardevoir the move Shock Wave in those days.  Not entirely sure why, but I did.

While I don’t know exactly how many Pokémon will be added to the National Pokédex in Generation 7 (As I’m still avoiding the data mining spoilers), I’m going to assume that the total number of  monsters will probably top 800 by the time we’ve counted through all of them, from Rowlet to the mysterious Crystalline Prism creature we were shown not too long ago and beyond.  That adds a lot of new favorite Pokémon for both series veterans and newcomers to choose from.

In that same vein, I’ve seen many people putting together videos and lists of what Pokémon they’ll be using during their initial journey through the Alola Region.  I did the same kind of forward thinking when X and Y were on the horizon, and I’ve honestly been doing the same thing while Pokémon have been unveiled over the last couple of months, so I figure why not talk about them here?

I actually do team building quite often, both for casual gameplay runs and for competitive team planning, something I started to do a lot more in Alpha Sapphire.  Typically, I try to follow some personal rules when doing so for either kind of play:

  1. All members of the team will typically be entirely different typings, no overlap whatsoever is preferred for the sake of variety and diversification of moves/abilities.
    1. On occasion, teams may deviate from this rule if the typing diversity in a region isn’t phenomenal when using dual-typings or if there are some Pokémon I can’t avoid using that happen to be the same type.
    2. Usually the exceptions to this rule will only apply once.  Mono-type teams tend to be avoided at all costs unless the team is being built specifically for a competition with that rule in place.
  2. The make-up of my teams tend to vary based on region.  So, more often than not a play through of Black and White will have a Unova team consisting entirely of Generation 5 Pokémon, a play through of Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald or the remakes will have a Hoenn team consisting entirely of Generation 3 Pokémon and so on.
    1. Rare exceptions do exist for this rule as well, such as in X and Y where I considered Mega Evolutions to be Generation 6 Pokémon.  Thus, Mawile was on my initial team despite originating from Hoenn.
  3. Movesets, abilities and items used on each team member are usually decided on with single battles in mind, both for casual play and competitive building.  There are a few Pokémon I’ve built competitively that specifically exist to team up with another, however.
  4. While Pokémon can usually be either male or female (besides those with no gender or only one gender option), I tend to specifically pick a gender for a Pokémon that feels right to me and stick with it.  Thus, some I might refer to as he or she depending on how I personally picture that monster.
  5. No legendaries.  As much as I love legendary Pokémon in their own rights, I’m not a fan of mixing them into my team compositions.  Never really have been, it always seemed kind of cheap to me.  Sorry Lunala.

These rules are more my own attempts to make my life harder on myself, honestly.  Just choosing any Pokémon willy-nilly would be too easy, so it’s more fun to set up rules for myself as a way of encouraging more critical thought as far as building things ahead of time goes.

With that said, and without further adieu, I introduce the six Pokémon that will be accompanying me during my first adventure in Pokémon Moon.  Under this read more, naturally.  Could be some spoiler-y stuff for people avoiding any and all information, and  this post is already taking up a lot of space.

Continue reading “My (currently planned) Pokémon Sun and Moon team”

Build-up to Boom’s Summer 2016 Issue Forum

It’s pretty strange for me to see my own name attached to a news story that I’ve had very little or pretty much nothing to do with.

The magazine that I work for, Boom, released its prison issue not too long ago.  There’s going to be an event held on September 26 in the Fullerton Arboretum to celebrate and discuss the ideas that are inside.  A panel of speakers will be talking about prisons in California and prisoner reform for a few hours that night, and I’ll be bringing a reporter and photographer there from the Daily Titan to cover it.  I would write about it for the newspaper myself, but it could arguably be seen as a conflict of interest to write about a group that’s paying me.

The reason I bring up this event is because an article was published on the Cal State Fullerton News Center talking to the magazine’s editor Jason Sexton about the magazine and what will be happening on Monday.  While I wasn’t personally interviewed for the story that was written, I did get my picture taken along with everyone else working on the magazine at CSUF.

Granted, it took two tries on two separate days to get a proper picture done, but it wound up being a pretty sweet picture in the end if you ask me.

Check out the story here if you want, it’s a nicely done article and I think I look pretty good in the group shot, so I figured it would be worth sharing.

New Sun and Moon Information: Minigames!

As it turns out, we got a little bit of Sun and Moon news today.  Makes it a busy day for me blogging, but I suppose that’s not such a bad thing.  To be fair, the thing we got isn’t a huge update anyway, but it is interesting and gives some cool potential possibilities.

Continue reading “New Sun and Moon Information: Minigames!”