The Paladin thinks The Finest Hours are fine

Alone one night I had the hankering for a good, sweeping rescue movie so I started up The Finest Hours on Netflix.


The film stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, Eric Bana, and a host of other familiar faces. Chris Pine’s Bernie Webber is a Chief in the Coast Guard who failed to rescue the crew of a ship and that haunts him a little. At least Pine plays it that way and dialog tries to tell us that’s the case, but since this happens before the film I had no way to relate. He also starts a relationship with Holliday Grainger’s Miriam who is strong and independent, but fearful of the career Bernie has chosen. The film focus on this relationship at the beginning, before showing us the tragedy aboard the S.S. Pendleton that has shorn in half, trapping 32 members of the crew.

Eventually Bernie’s CO orders him to take small ship across the bar, which everyone knows is impossible, but I don’t because you haven’t shown me yet. Still it is an exciting scene and is fairly exciting. The rest of the rescue is fairly paint-by-the-numbers and then it ends, snatching a lot of the emotion from the part of the story.

The Finest Hours got me interested in the real story it is based on, but the film itself  failed to capture the excitement, uncertainty, and character of such a daring rescue. While flat, the film it isn’t terrible, so the Finest Hour is something I suggest you watch when you’ve got nothing else to watch.

The Paladin’s PAX Wrap Up


Like Shmee I also attended PAX West, formerly Prime, and like him I came away with a few games to recommend. While there really wasn’t a game of show for me in either the Board Game or Video Game categories, there were some interesting and fun games you should check out for yourself.


911 Operator by Jutsu Games out of Poland made me upset, not because it was difficult or controversial. No, I was upset because I was on the phone with a guy who had cut off his leg, begging me to tell his wife he loved her, while the stupid ambulance driver took his sweet time navigating Seattle’s streets probably trying to find a Starbucks first. 911 Operator felt frantic, but meaningful and I was proud at the end of the demo that no one died on my watch – not even one-leg guy.


Lightspeed Frontier was a fun little game in the IndieMEGABOOTH by Crowdwork Studios. I had fun flying around in this procedurally generated, rouge-like game (Shmee’s favorite genre right now). Plus I rammed another ship, killed it, and impressed the devs who were cool guys. You can download the demo now, so give it a try.


The final game I’ll talk about is Identeco a Cyberpunk RPG that is now in Beta by Humanoid Games. We played this and it was a lot of fun. Thematically its similar to the RPG Shadowrun, just less grim and without the fantasy elements of Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, or Magic. Mechanically it felt a little more like D&D with a little more meat to it. I enjoyed our playtest and was impressed with the system. I suggest you download their Beta and give it a try yourself.

Some honorable mentions would be Cowbots and Aliens (which Shmee talks about in his post) and Ice Cool, a fun dexterity game with penguins.

Course there is so much more that goes on at PAX; panels, events, swag, and just being with friends, bro. Most of it would be hard to explain without context or not being in a sleepless state kept awake by energy drinks. Still, I plan to go back next year to plumb the depths and come back with more great games to try.

The Paladin thinks they named it Spectre because there wasn’t anything there

This weekend I had an excellent bag of toffee covered popcorn. It was in small bags, tasted fresh, was satisfyingly crunchy, and the toffee flavor was delightful. It was Cascade or River something. I don’t seem to remember the name, but the experience easily made up for it.


Unlike the movie we watched, Spectre. I can remember the name, but beyond that I can’t really think of much else. It was a James Bond movie? It had Monica Bellucci in it very briefly, which was as shame. Voldemort let Moriarty fall off a balcony. Stuff blew up and bad guys were dispatched in the usual ways.

I wonder if the new Bond films have the Star Trek movie problem where every other film is good.. Only they’re on the odds and not the evens? But Spectre is not like Star Trek V: Final Frontier bad; it’s just forgettable, a lot like Quantum of Solace. And its not Daniel Craig’s or the director, Sam Mendes, fault. Casino Royale and Skyfall were a renaissance in James Bond films, that were both more grounded and yet mindful of the past cinematic experiences. I think it was just the story, whatever it was, was just boring.

Really, I just want to talk more about my mystery bag of toffee covered popcorn. It was that good.


P.S. I do remember one thing about the movie – the opening title was THE absolute worst James Bond song ever; even beating Moonraker by a huge margin.

The Paladin watches 2 Tiger, 2 Dragon: The Second One

Consider the stone dropped in the center of a still pond.

The air gently moves, rustling the leaves of the trees. Golden yellows, ripe greens, fiery red all dance in the breeze.

Ripples race across the smooth surface. The crane looks on.

The crane is staring at you. It’s black eyes fix your own. It is peering into your soul.

The ripples reach the edge of the pond. A snowflake lands on your cheek.

The first.


Conversely its sequel…


Consider the stone. Now look at me. Now back to the stone.

Oh, young love. Old love. Big drunken guy in love.

Now back to me. There’s a bald guy.

Foot balancing wushu.


Dead. Undead. Credits.


Such is the unevenness of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in comparison to its sequel Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (CTHD:SD). The first is a contemplative film, shot amongst sweeping vistas, and eye popping wire-fu. The latter is a far more standard affair with a predictable plot and typical archetypes. CTHD:SD attempts at times to mimic the world and atmosphere of the first film, but more often than not comes off as a made for TV movie.

All the actors are fine, Michelle Yeoh can be in everything, but none are required to or give stellar performances. The fact that they all speak English is also disappointing, being the sequel to one of the most successful non-english films in the US.

Ultimately, Ang Lee infused Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with such contemplation and wonder that the sequel seems heavy handed and hollow. Had the first one been a more classic martial arts film the lower budget sequel wouldn’t have been so jarring.

Taken on its own CTHD:SD isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either. The fights aren’t super exciting or technical and they also seem to have an urgency to get to the talking parts. Really, if you are craving a good martial arts movie this will do to take the edge off, but it’s not a full meal. If your wanting something that stops to smell the flowers and contemplate leaves falling it doesn’t do that either. However if you want to watch a foreign film without British accents or subtitles… here you go.

The Paladin dug The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


There is something about period spy movies that are just fun… or at least they can be. It a fine line of course. You can go too campy; trying to play on the sensibilities of the period and end up creating a very unreal world or you can also go too dramatic and suck all the life out of history. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Guy Ritchie walks the line perfectly – reveling in the colors, styles, and sensibilities of the 60’s. At the same time it is aware of the reality and tension of the time; thus keeping its feet on the ground. For reference The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TMfU) hews closer to the newer James Bond films than the Connery or especially the Rodger Moore films – but it has fun while it does it.

TMfU follows the unlikely paring of the CIA’s Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill, and the KGB’s Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer as they try to stop a group of Fascists from arming a shadow Nazi regime with a Nuclear Weapon. Dragged into the middle is Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), a German mechanic who’s father might be helping to build the bomb.

The cast is a lot of fun, Henry Cavill really sells the charming and competent Solo, Hammer exudes barely controlled strength and malice, and Vikander’s Gaby is strong, brave, and intelligent. The “bromance” between Solo and Kuryakin is a lot of fun to see develop, as is the actual romance of the story.

The thing I loved about TMfU was the witty banter and the way it was shot. Ritchie certainly has his own style that infuses a lot of life and energy into his films and for TMfU he adds little touches you’d recognize from films from the 60’s. Layered cuts, long zooms during chases, and just a touch of technicolor give the movie a nostalgic feel and energy that sets it apart from say a Bourne movie or James Bond.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a fun, witty, and energetic and I highly recommend you give it a try.