What I’ve Been Watching – October 2017

Dad of Light: Final Fantasy XIV

If you haven’t heard of this, I don’t blame you. This show is based on a real life story of a young Japanese man who reconnected with his estranged father via the online role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV. As a huge fan of this game, I was thrilled when I heard they were making this.

This show is best described as 50% live action and 50% machinima (a film/TV series made using a video game). The machinima side of it is brilliant! The show dives effortlessly into the world of Hydaelyn where the normal text-based conversations of the game are transformed into fully vocalised conversations. It feels right and made me realise how perfect FFXIV is for a show like this.

Unfortunately, the real world element of the show is not very interesting. In fact, it’s downright boring. If that had been on purpose, I would deem it to be a brilliant move by the show’s producers… alas there is no such commentary here. We are meant to empathise with the real world characters and care about this family mending itself.

I’m afraid I don’t. The father is not a very nice man… even at the end of the show. Perhaps that’s just the by-product of bad script writing. The window into his son’s life also creates an accidental window into the patriarchal nature of Japan’s society, which I found pretty uncomfortable if I’m being honest.

It’s quite a shame as the game parts of the show is a terrific proof of concept for people unfamiliar with machinima. I hope someone takes this concept and makes another show based on FFXIV 🙂

Star Trek Discovery

contains spoilers for episodes 1-4

Star Trek’s recent revival continues strongly. While the newest trilogy of films were enjoyable romps, I feel that Trek is at it’s best when it puts characters ahead of spectacle. Thus, a new TV series is a wise decision and for the most part, this is a very good show.

The stories are well conceived. The dialogue is well written. And the actors embody their characters superbly.

The trouble I’m having with the show is that I don’t like most of the characters. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to like them, or if I’m deliberately meant to feel alienated (no pun intended) 😛

The main character Burnham a pariah, and justifiably so. Her intensity reminds me of Jack from Lost, which is to say not every discussion needs to be handled with such intensity. The first officer is frequently stuck up and oddly C3-PO ish. The main scientist guy is completely arrogant and pompous… he has something of a god complex and isn’t afraid of showing it. Everyone seems to argue a lot. In fact they argue more than they talk normally. The only characters I do like are the doctor and Burnham’s room-mate, who seem to be the only characters on-board who smile.

The hardest character to accept, however, is Captain Lorca. I am baffled by this character. He is a warmonger that would probably be endorsed by the NRA if they existed in the Trek universe. His outlook is one of “This technology is a wondrous discovery… How can I use it to kill people?”

I’m honestly surprised he’s not the show’s main antagonist, as his views reflect characters who have been villains in the past (Admiral Leyton from DS9’s Homefront and Captain Maxwell from TNG’s The Wounded). I can only assume these are the early days of his character arc and he will gradually become a bit less Donald Trump-ian.

It’s all a bit estranging to me. Are we supposed to empathise with Burnham? Is Captain Lorca going to become the villain of the series? I genuinely don’t know what to make of it right now. Admittedly I’m only four episodes in, so I’ll definitely keep watching and see how it turns out.

It’s honestly a good show in all other respects – I just don’t know what to make of the characters. Worst case scenario… I retreat to the familiar comfort of DS9 🙂

Thor: Ragnarok

I feel like the Marvel Cinematic Universe just got drunk and went clubbing… with spectacular results 🙂

Ragnarok is the funkiest and freshest of the Thor trilogy. The lore and the action are present as expected, but it’s the comedy that really takes centre stage in this film. It unexpectedly comes thick and fast, even bordering on farcical at times. Yet it adds such a fresh dynamic to the film that I couldn’t help but be entertained. On top of that, the story takes us to some very imaginative locations and throws in a truly thumping soundtrack.

This is a bold vision from a bold director. I’m not familiar with Taika Waititi but I’m going to check out what else he’s directed. I’m surprised Marvel allowed someone to play around with the Thor property like this. It just feels so unsafe for a proven blockbuster franchise. But then Marvel has taken several risks with the MCU in the past. Here, that gamble pays off in spades.

If I had to point to a weak link in the chain, it would sadly be Anthony Hopkins. Not only is he underused, but he seems completely bored in the film. “I said the lines. Are we done? Fine, I’m off to lunch.” Idris Elba is also sadly underused as Heimdall, but unlike Hopkins he at least gives it his best. He strikes me as a guy who thinks “If my character sucks in this movie, it’s not going to be because of my performance.”

Jeff Goldblum, on the other hand, steals every scene he’s in. His fans will love this film as he really is Golblumming all over the place… and its very much for the film’s benefit. Ragnarok is a headtrip that is entertaining, funny, and completely unexpected. What a ride!

So that’s what I’ve been watching lately. Thanks for reading, folks! Feel free to share any thoughts below 🙂

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Watching – October 2017

  1. I watched Dad of Light too! ^^ I have to say, the ‘real life’ parts were very much like any other J-drama. The dad’s character is just like how dads in Japan are, unfortunately. For a non-gamer like me, it was a really good series. 😀
    But I guess for a gamer, it might’ve been rather boring, haha! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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