Follow Batman: Year One

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Batman: Year One is the animated version of the classic Frank Miller graphic novel following the Dark Knight through his first year.  Does the animated version hold up to the book? Not quite, but it is still pretty good.

The movie starts off with Bruce Wayne flying back in to the city, and Jim Gordon starting his new job as a lieutenant for the Gotham City Police Department, and then follows how the two start fighting crime.  Bruce becomes a vigilantly, and Jim starts to deal with the corruption in the police department.  This film also chronicles the start of Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.

It is great that this movie is as much about Jim Gordon as it is Bruce Wayne because in the end he really is the one with the most to loose: wife, child, job, and the stability of the entire city, and he chooses to do right thing anyway.  Bruce on the other hand has already lost it all.  The Catwoman parts were interesting, but I think due to the restricted time of the film they could have left her out, but she is a good counter point to Batman, and what could have happened to Bruce had he grown up in the same slums that she did.

I think the actors were trying the channel the dark mood of the movie to much and kind of came off deadpan.  Proving it is hard to replace Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of Batman.

It is a good movie and DC Universe, the animation studio in charge of the DC properties, continues to put out quality films.  Someone at Warner Brothers should think about giving these guys a shot at some of the live action films

Is Warhammer 40,000 fun?

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My friend Todd Fadden got me in to a little game called Warhammer 40,000 (or 40k), and by little I mean huge.  It is a miniatures game, meaning you buy little bits of plastic or metal, and then glue them together, and then paint them, and then you have to develop a strategy, and then after all that, you get to play a game for about an hour and a half.  It is also a ton of fun.

There are a ton of different factions to choose from.  You can be space bugs, space orcs, space marines, space elves, and tons more, those aren’t the official names of the groups but they are easier to understand.  I have been building a group based of the space marines called the Space Wolves, and if I was good at the painting, they would look like this:

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Maybe if you are nice I will take a picture of my guys for you someday.

As with all geeky games, Warhammer 40k has very complex rules and every faction has its own subset of the rules, but what it comes down to is that you compare spread sheets and roll a bunch of dice, and argue about whether the units have line of sight or not.  It is very fun.

Now for the not so good part.  The maker of this game, Games Workshop, has started jacking the prices of the miniatures, and they weren’t cheep to begin with, so the only affordable venue is to buy them off EBay, but that can get frustrating if people aren’t selling what you want, or someone else snakes your units (in my case probably guys ridding giant wolves) out from under you, and then once you get them you have to paint them, so it requires a ton of time.

But all that being true, the game is fun, and it possibly one of the geekiest games in this word.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have to check on some EBay bids.

Can you win the Game of Thrones

Game-Of-Thrones

Game of Thrones is a HBO series based of the books by George R. R. Martin.  The series has been on for two seasons, and the third season starts on the 31st of March.  It is simply the best fantasy show on television.

The show is about the land of Westeros, and the several different houses all biding for their chance to either sit on the Iron Throne and be King of all the land, or simply be free of the empire and be king of their own little section.  The heroes of the show are the Starks, and they are the Lords and Ladies of Winterfell, the northern part of Westeros.  There are a lot, and I mean a lot of other characters, which is great because you get so many viewpoints on this war.

The writing and the acting are great in this series, but the one thing that bugs me is the amount of nudity in the show.  For the most part it is okay, but then they decide that they need to spice things up a bit and go overboard, and it can get a bit distracting from the serious tone the rest of the series sets.

But if you can handle a bit of scandal, then this show has a lot to offer, dragons, zombies, and medieval action, to name a few things, and I am going to have to figure out some way to watch the third season.

Should you sign up for Redbox Instant?

Redbox-Instant

Over the last week a new internet movie streaming service has launched.  It is Redbox Instant by Verizon.  It costs $8 month, but you also get four free movies from their Redbox kiosk every month.  So is it worth it? Maybe.

The selection of movies that you can stream without additional cost is very limited at the moment, and the only TV based device that streams the service is an Xbox 360 with your Gold subscription, but I am sure more are on the way.  There are additional movies that you can rent and buy, but if you can rent them they are $4.99 for standard definition and $5.99 for high definition.  Or you can buy them for $16.99 for standard definition or $21.99 for high definition.  Those prices really aren’t that compelling since the draw of Redbox has always been cheap movies, and those are the same prices as every other service.

This leaves the only perk being the four movies at the kiosk, and if you rent from Redbox a lot then this may make since since you would be adding streaming for $4.  If you don’t use the kiosk then Amazon Prime, or Netflix offer way more for the money, and Amazon gives you free shipping on all Amazon purchases and free books from the Prime lending library.  Netflix’s perk is pretty much just the biggest library of streaming movies, but that is what this is all about in the first place.

I am happy there is another service entering the ring.  Competition is always a good thing, and I hope the number of streaming movies grows quickly, but for now I would hold off on the one month free trail of Redbox Instant until there is more to watch.

Get Lost in Strange Places

Strange Places

Strange Places is a fantasy book written by Jefferson Smith.  If you haven’t heard of him, you are probably not alone since he seems like a fairly new author, and I got the book by buying an indie book package deal, so that for ten dollars I got twelve books, and three dollars went to help young authors.  So is my eighty three cent book any good?  I think so.

The book is about a young orphan named Tayna (not Tanya like my head kept translating it).  She is in a horrible orphanage, and told that she is unlovable, so she does her best to take care of her fellow orphans until she meets an evil looking Lord, and a creepy guy in pink rain coat and pants, and is transported to a magical forest.

I know an orphan that finds out she might be magical and is kind of a big deal is not the most original story ever told, but it is different enough from that other magical orphan so that you are not always drawing comparisons.  Jefferson Smith shows his talent here too.  He makes the world and the characters believable, and it is a fun read.  Tayna specifically is really well written and is a great protagonist.

Like many fantasy books this is just the first one in a series, so a lot of this book is just introducing the characters, building the world, and showing how the magic systems works, but it still manages to be entertaining.  It does leave on a cliff hanger, and I usually prefer to have books at least have some feel of wholeness, or at least have the rest of the books ready to go.

Stange Places isn’t perfect but it is a good read, and I have seen it around for a dollar or less.  If you are looking for a good fantasy book, then this just might be your ticket.  It can be found on Amazon.