Books, Comics, Culture, Editorial, Feature, Film & TV, Videos

Aaron’s Old Dragon Ball Z Binder | An Unboxing Video

Here’s a sneak peak at some video content that we produced whenever I went and visited Sam, James, Aaron, and Erica this past weekend! It’s a little long-winded, but we had fun and thought you would too. Next video will be short and sweet and show-off a lot more of what we did the weekend THAT WE FINALLY ALL MET IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS (Ed. And none of us were murderers)! Enjoy.


Culture, Film & TV, News, Videos

“Ultimate Christian Wrestling” Needs Your Help!

At the New Orleans Film Festival last year I had the great pleasure of seeing a fantastic documentary about a small Christian Wrestling community in Georgia, appropriately titled Ultimate Christian Wrestling. The film was genuine in tone, focused on a very interesting group and their motivations, very funny throughout without belittling the beliefs of those shown, and a very human tale about dreams and how the road to achieve those goals can get so very twisted.

The version of the film that I saw was apparently an incomplete cut, according to director team Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino during the Q&A that followed. Now, there is a Kickstarter campaign that has a week left and is a little over halfway towards its goal. If you’re at all interested in independent film, documentary filmmaking, or having a hand in assisting those that work in those fields, please consider contributing, and even if you can’t contribute sharing the link can help out tremendously.

I’d love to see this film in its final form and you’d really be in for a treat if you gave yourself the opportunity too.

The Kickstarter campaign can be found HERE and the film’s Facebook page can be found HERE.

Feature, Film & TV

To the Death: Tenth Doctor vs. Eleventh Doctor

To the Death is a point-counterpoint style article series that pits two writers and geeks against each other to see who’s opinion reigns supreme! In this edition Sam and Aaron will be arguing a point that many geeks don’t see the end of…alive. Is Doctor Who’s Tenth Doctor (portrayed by David Tennant) better than the Eleventh Doctor (portrayed by Matt Smith), or is it the other way around? Aaron, what do you think?

I have a saying myself that whichever Doctor I am watching at the moment is my favorite Doctor. That being said between 10 and 11 there should be absolutely no question at all! The 10th Doctor is by far the superior Doctor. He’s suave, good looking, fast talking and clever. He uses smarts over his sonic screwdriver to solve a problem. And his relationships with his companions are so much more interesting than 11. Not to mention he is in one of the greatest episodes in Doctor Who history with Blink. With that I submit to you that in all of the spacey wacey timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff, 10 is the best.

Hold on a second. Ten is definitely all of the things you listed…I’ll even give him the edge in the suave and good looking department (because really…I have no argument for that), but to say that Ten is more clever or faster talking is ridiculous. Eleven is so bonkers at times, but there is never a moment when he’s not being clever in some way. And if he isn’t the faster talker, I’ll eat my shoe. When you have almost everyone you encounter wondering what you’re saying when they meet you, you’re doing something right. The man escaped from a horde of Weeping Angels by talking. Ten couldn’t even escape from one (brilliance of Blink notwithstanding). Eleven has only had the three companions, but the relationship he shared with Amy and Rory was one of the most deep and rewarding Doctor/Companion relationships this side of Doctor Who. Eleven has Rory Williams. This is the guy who punched Adolf Hitler in the face! Now he’s got Clara, which is another severely rewarding companion (no spoilers). And, to go back to Blink. It is one of the best episodes, but Ten is barely in it. It’s mostly about Sally and her struggle with the Angels, not the Doctor’s.

Wait, wait, wait. Thats just crazy! You’re Crazy!  His relationship with Amy was no more than her bossing him around! In fact, Amy had moments of being totally insufferable! He and Rory should win just because they had to deal with her! And either way, by the end the two of them seemed to care more about their real lives than traveling with him. How boring! And I counter your Rory Williams argument with Mickey Smith, who not only takes over for a resistance movement in another dimension (ANOTHER DIMENSION), but also ends up marrying Martha Jones (high five to Mickey!) And comparing close relationships, 10 shared DNA with Donna Noble, making the one and only DoctorDonna. But lets not get off topic here. This battle is not over Doctor companions, but who is the most awesomer (yes I am using awesomer) Doctor. Which is 10.

I think it would be unwise to compare Doctors without comparing companions, honestly. I feel like anyone watching the companion relationship between Amy and the Doctor would have to disagree with you on that point. Amy was a free spirit and at times a bit bossy, but it always boiled down to the fact that she was the girl who waited for him. They have a deep relationship that has spanned much further than it began. She’s his mother-in-law for goodness sake. And to say Mickey is better than Rory is a slap in the face. Rory not only survived THE UNIVERSE IMPLODING, but he waited completely conscious for the woman he loved for 2,000 years and stood up to an entire fleet of Cybermen dressed as a Roman Centurion. AND HE PUNCHED HITLER IN THE FACE AND PUT HIM IN A CLOSET.

I surely won’t discount the importance of companions to the Doctor, but this is a knock down drag out BRAWL of bad-assery of these two Doctors! Lets see Mr. Sam Wright, if that is your real name. The 10th doctor has dealt with some of the most dangerous of baddies and has escaped from some of the craziest situations! In “The Satan Pit,” he confronted a demon that escaped its own body to take over a space station that was orbiting a black hole (which he escaped). He saved the Queen of England from werewolves, snogged (his words) Madame de Pompadour (and invented the banana daiquiri). He kept the Titanic from from crashing. He has taken on full scale Earth attacks from both the Daleks when they and the emperor of all Daleks, Davros, moved the Earth to a completely different side of the universe. He took on Cybermen that were wiping out a whole other dimension and won. Not to mention he beat them both (on a completely different occasion) at the exact same time while they were at war with each other (winner of best use of 3D glasses ever, mind you) And he has taken on a force that the 11th Doctor has yet to. He has defeated other Time Lords (River Song doesn’t count. Though he did have to deal with her once.) The 10th Doctor had to deal with the Master twice! And then had to defeat the Time Lords returning from their time lock. We are talking about the worst of the worst here! 11 has fought bad before, but not Time Lord bad.

B-A… Am I right?


Fine point with the Time Lords, sir, but Ten did “kill” all of them, rendering the point moot. Eleven doesn’t, realistically, have the ability to match that particular feat, but I’m sure he’d be able to do it in a spectacular fashion. Everything else…pish posh. Your space demon? Eleven took down a parasitic sun worshiped as a god that threatened to devour the universe if unchecked. Saving the Queen from a werewolf? Saving Winston Churchill from Daleks. “Snogging” Madame de Pompadour? Try marrying Marilyn Monroe. Banana daiquiri? Pasta. PASTA, the most amazing food! And sure, Ten pulled Earth back from some other part of the universe, but Eleven saved the universe from imploding on itself and ceasing to exist…and also stopped time from completely running out. He stopped a Time Lord eating planet from travelling into our star system to rip it apart for more of the non-existent Time Lords. And, on that token, he is the only Doctor who’s been able to speak to the TARDIS. Maybe if we would’ve been having this conversation two years ago when Eleven was just a fresh Doctor, you’d have the edge (even though he still would have saved the universe from imploding by that point anyway, but whatever). I say to you now, Eleven has done just as many impressive and astounding miraculous things as Ten (if not more). And I must say that he does it with a huge roller coaster of fantastic emotions too.

Oh, and you can keep your 3D glasses.


You want to talk about emotions, huh? David Tennant is not only an accomplished actor of the Doctor variety, he is an accomplished stage actor! Hamlet anyone? That being said, the 10th Doctor is great at keeping his cool (another reason why he is so great), but when he needs to emote…he freaking emotes. The anger and fear he can instill in his enemies is astounding! When the fire is surrounding him when he drowns the Racnoss Queen, he means business. The look in his eyes was downright scary when he came to the conclusion (be it the wrong one) that he could bend time at his will and change fixed points. To see the fear instilled in him when he was completely wrong and the Ood beckoned to him for his end was chilling. And, in his last special, he delivers one of the best acting performances ever! You could feel the struggle of his conscience when he pointed a gun at the Master and Rassilon. The disappointment and defeat he showed when Wilfred knocked on the glass of the radiation shield room. And don’t tell me you didn’t shed a tear right before he regenerated. He did not want to change, and we did not want him to. Tennant is an artist.


Oh, yes. All of that is true (Hamlet, in this instance, is irrelevant…but hey). Matt Smith has a natural charming and goofy persona, which is always a pleasure to watch. Very alien. Very fun. But when it comes down to it, the man has major range and can make a speech like no other. Imagine with me, if you will, the man halting the space ships of every single one of his major enemies past and present with a simple shout of his voice. Imagine his recent speech when he gave his memories to a parasite planet, tears rolling down his cheeks from all the things he’s endured in his 1000+ years. Imagine with me the raw emotion he threw out there when he realized his human TARDIS had to go away forever. Imagine with me the anger when he understood the choices he had to make when dealing with Starship UK and the Starwhale. Imagine with me the child-like giddiness when he found out exactly who River Song was for the first time. Imagine with me the sheer grief he showed at the unexpected loss of Amy and Rory. And I dare you to tell me his “goodbye” to Amy near the end of the Series 5 finale (The Big Bang, I should say) wasn’t powerful…and his trip down memory lane while working backwards through his time with Amy. “I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind… I hate repeats.” Oof. Smith is a master.

As timeless as this battle is, we still haven’t found a solid answer to the question. And perhaps the answer is simply this: both of them have solid characters and fantastic screen presence. Both of them are wonderful and we’ll leave it at that.

No. Of course we can’t. This is the internet and Doctor Who we’re talking about. This is never going to get left alone.

“Oh hey, guys. What about me?”
Editorial, Feature, Film & TV

Matt Smith to Leave Doctor Who

[Author’s Note: This is not a retrospective or a comprehensive look at the Eleventh Doctor. Not even close. It is merely an apreciation for Matt Smith and the things he has done as the Doctor]

It’s hard to believe that after four wonderful years, Matt Smith, Doctor number Eleven, only has two more adventures left. In a press release by the BBC on June 1st, it was revealed that Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor would be regenerating in 2013’s Christmas special.

200px-EleventhdoctornewI read that news with an almost sort of disbelief, even going so far as to surprise myself when I realized I didn’t believe it even more than I didn’t believe David Tennant was leaving back in 2010.

You see, I was one of the lucky ones. I was living in England in 2005 when Christopher Eccleston took the screen as the returning Ninth Doctor. I was there through every single twist and turn of David Tennant’s tenure. Though I had returned to America by this time, I was there for Matt Smith. For the past eight years, in some strange and wonderful way, Doctor Who has been an important part of my life. It hurts to see a Doctor go.

It was sad when Nine regenerated.

It cut deep when Ten regenerated.

I have to sit here and imagine how bad Eleven is going to be.

Because while David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston were amazing in their time, so too was Matt Smith. He did so many things with the character that were so incredibly intriguing and wonderful. He played his Doctor with a terrific reckless abandon, always one step away from human. Always strange and always clever and always eccentric, but never unfeeling and uncaring. When he came up with a plan, he often did it on the fly, a few times commenting that he didn’t have a plan yet because he hadn’t finished talking and analyzing the situation. He was always so very smug and overconfident in his abilities. It was often for good reason, but he was so much more subtlely arrogant (and sometimes not so subtlely) than Nine or Ten. He’d get so caught up focusing on something important that he would shut everyone out, even if it meant being insensitive (“Amy, you’re dying. Shut up.”) Even so, he did this because he cared and because he was trying to find a way to save everyone.

"What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?"
“What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?”

My favorite among his quirks was his complete disregard for traditionally cool things. He embraced things like bow ties and bunk beds and fezzes, things society doesn’t necessarily think are cool, and somehow made them cool. His childlike love of the world and the weird things inside of it was refreshing to watch.

This is all merely a layer of the Eleventh Doctor, however. His goofy and charming exterior is merely a surface – a coping mechanism, if you will – to the Doctor that lies beneath. This emotionally tortured, tired, and sad Doctor who uses the goofiness as a crutch to stop himself from hating himself. This is the Doctor who just came off of eliminating his entire race…for a second time. The Doctor who had just come back from seeing all of the people he had lost and would perhaps never see again. This was a Doctor who proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that the companion is the most useful tool in his arsenal as something to stop him from becoming a monster. Something even more terrible than he considers himself already. Smith was a naturally charming and energetic Doctor, but to see him in those dark moments. In those heartbreaking moments. In those moments of anger and pain and loss. It was truly a sight to behold. He is a man who wants to be forgiven for the things he has done, sees no way for this to happen, and carries on anyway.

Because of all of that, the added layer of care he spent on the Ponds was pronounced. He had lost so much already, and he was going to make sure that Amy and Rory (his family) were cared for. This is why their final act in the Doctor’s life was so emotionally draining. The devastation that Smith displayed upon their final moments was absolutely flooring. His odd and complicated relationships with Clara and River Song were also incredibly fun to watch, but the relationship he had with Amy and Rory was probably the most rewarding companion relationship in the revived series.

The Doctor and the Ponds

It was just amazing to watch Smith work. How he effortlessly transitioned through his absolutely wide range of emotions as the Doctor was fantastic. The way the man delivered a speech was fantastic. It’s clear to me, as it should be to you, that Matt Smith is fantastic. His time on the show has been a roller coaster ride. Not a single dull moment. All of it fast paced and fun.

Of course, Doctor Who is at it’s most exciting when a new Doctor is about to walk in. Despite the fact that we, as a viewer, know so much about what the Doctor is and what the Doctor stands for…the regeneration is an exciting time because it’s like everyone is walking into a brand new character. We don’t know how this new Doctor is going to be aside from the base set moral code of the Doctor…and that’s the unknown factor that keeps the show fresh. As strange and sad as Smith leaving is, he’s been involved in so many large scale things as the Doctor that it’s hard to imagine where he can go from here. Perhaps it’s a blessing that he realizes this. Good luck to the Twelfth Doctor (it’s so weird to type and say that), though. I hope he’s prepared for unreasonable hate, whoever he is, because the fans will not sit back and realize that this show now has a track record for picking the right star.

Still, it’s not like we’re never going to see Smith again. He will be starring in Ryan Gosling’s “How to Catch a Monster,” an incredible chance for him to stretch his legs and really show the world what he can do as an actor. And you can bet I’ll support him through every step, but still. Knowing he’s gone…knowing that by the end of the year, the silly face that has made me laugh, cry, and everything else will be someone else’s face…it’s uniquely heartbreaking.

I’ve struggled with this decision for quite a while now, never once making a final choice, but here it is. You can shout at me, or tell me I’m dumb, or anything else, but I’m finally ready to say it officially:

Goodbye Matt Smith. You truly were MY Doctor.

eSports, Feature, Film & TV, News

AZUBU Who? – New Streaming Site Takes Gamers by Storm

After‘s untimely demise following numerous streamers revealing the company’s poor business practices, streamers and viewers alike have been looking for a new home for spectator gaming.  While many streamers have successfully transitioned to‘s former competitor, others have made the jump to a new challenger to the streaming business:

Azubu, a German/Korean video game media company, has been involved in e-sports for the past two years.  Azubu began by sponsoring major Korean tournaments, and then by sponsoring two League of Legends teams – Azubu Frost and Azubu Blaze, now known as CJ Entus Frost and CJ Entus Blaze) and multiple Starcraft 2 players including viOLet and Symbol.  However, earlier this year, Azubu surprised everyone by not renewing its contracts with its League of Legends teams and announcing a partnership with American team Counter-Logic Gaming (CLG) to create a new streaming platform.  Now, three months later, is up and running and bringing in tens-of-thousands of viewers already. offers a cloud-based streaming platform that replaces traditional buffering methods.  It also features tailor-made experiences for different devices, listing computers, tablet PCs, smart phones, and smart TV as examples on the website.  The site features primarily Starcraft 2 and League of Legends streamers (Each of the members of CLG hold a spot on the top-10 watched streams), but is likely to expand to Dota 2 and World of Tanks players soon. has a nice and clean interface, and I’ve yet to experience any problems watching the streams in high definition.  The website itself can be a bit confusing to navigate, but that’s a small complaint compared to the level of quality offers – especially for a brand-new service.

As the streaming service to fill’s spot as’s main competitor, is on its way to being a big name in the streaming community.

Feature, Film & TV

So… You Want to Pitch a Film?


These articles are back and I wanted to kick start the series back up with a personal experience. This October, I had the pleasure of being selected by my university to go and pitch a short narrative film to a panel of industry professionals and a general audience at the 23rd Annual New Orleans Film Festival as part of their Pitch Perfect film student contest.

Mark Vance and myself at the New Orleans 23rd Annual Film Festival representing Auburn University

Since it was the first time that Mark and I had pitched anything to a large crowd of people, we decided to do some research, utilizing the help of a faculty member at our university. After digging around the internet and meeting with said faculty member once a week for a few weeks, this is what we came up with:

Try to summarize your film in as few of sentences as possible.

This is an important point to remember, mainly because you’re given a very limited amount of time to do your pitch (be it for a contest or for meeting time with a sponsor or individual). You don’t want to impose and take up too much time when you discuss your project or film, so be courteous and concise.

Compare your film to other films in order to establish a mental image in your audience.

Some people argue that you should do this, others argue against it. From personal experience, get out a comparison sentence or two right after your brief synopsis and your audience will have a better internal image of what you’re babbling on about. As a word of warning, do not compare your film to terrible films, regardless of if you feel the “terrible film” is an under-appreciated classic or not. You’re pitching, most likely, to gain funding or some other benefit for your project, so know your audience.

Prepare a one sheet, or one page, and a visual aid. 

Whether you’re pitching to a group of contest judges or to a good friend who wants to support your endeavors, it’s always a good idea to prepare a one sheet (sometimes called a one page) and some sort of visuals, because film is a visual medium. A one sheet is a single sheet of written material that sums up your film, rephrases major points that your pitch touched on, mentions a little bit about yourself and your motivations, and occasionally includes some sort of visual element of the film that captures the aesthetic that you’re shooting for (pun intended).

With your visual aid, you can make it an animatic of your storyboard, a dramatic reading of your script by actors over a series of still images that capture the atmosphere and look of your film, a trailer, or even a scene from the film that you’ve already shot. Film being a visual medium means that people want to see something. It’s almost like a prototype to your concept. The films with visual aids receive more empathy and their ideas always become more tangible.

Never, ever, go over the time that you’re allotted to pitch. 

One thing that audiences, and judges, cannot stand is a person whose pitch goes over time. It’s also embarrassing for the pitching party, especially at contests, because then a representative of who you’re pitching to will alert you and the audience that you’ve run out of time. Going back to our example of a one-on-one pitch with a sponsor, you don’t want to dissuade them from assisting you by taking up all of their free time. Of course, if during a one-on-one pitch, your conversation asks for more elaboration, or you’re asked to continue to discuss the film, by all means do. For the most part, however, you do not want to overstay your welcome.

And, those were the main points that I discovered while doing pitch research. You may want to do some research of your own, especially depending on your film, but for the most part there were the major do’s and don’t’s. Hope this helps and happy pitching!


Feature, Film & TV, Video Games

Doctor Who Needs a Video Game

I am a complete and utter Doctor Who fanatic. Those who know me will also know this. I’ve been directly responsible for a mass amount of people entering in to the world of Doctor Who, a feat that I’m proud of.

One of the things I’ve always wanted was a Doctor Who video game. Not the mobile games, or the BBC adventure games, or even The Eternity Clock (a 2D side-scrolling…something or other). I want a full-fledged Doctor Who action game. A game where you can take on the role of the Doctor and, potentially, others to help rid the universe of its “problem children.”

The game would be a third person “action puzzler” (I suppose that’s the best genre I have for it). The big deal about it is that it probably wouldn’t be a 100% traditional action game. The Doctor is the most pacifistic action hero ever. He has his moments of rage and anger, but his big thing is that he doesn’t use guns or a whole load of violence if he can avoid it. He is certainly an action hero, but he doesn’t really follow many of the action hero tropes. How does one utilize this fact and make it into gameplay?

Puzzles, of course! Really well designed puzzles! The Doctor has numerous tools at his disposal. The Sonic Screwdriver and the psychic paper would be the two primary tools, but the Doctor has gathered so many off the wall objects over his several hundred year life that I’m certain many cool items can be used and implemented in puzzle solving. Perhaps a puzzle as simple as using the Tenth Doctor’s 3D glasses to make your way through a safe path of a toxin ridden room. Perhaps it’s as complex as using multiple tools to flip the quantum neurospectromitor and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Maybe your companion is trapped in a room and is being closed in on by Daleks, and you need to use your sonic screwdriver and some kind of cryptographic transmogrifier (if you haven’t figured this out yet, I’m making up a whole mess of words) to unlock the door in time. Who knows? The thing with puzzles in a standard action games is that there’s a lot of reality it kind of has to be grounded in. The beauty with sci-fi is that you can dream up all manner of nifty puzzles using all manner of nifty gadgetry. And short of giving the Doctor a Portal Gun, 3D puzzle solving with handheld tools seems to be the trick.

But it wouldn’t be all that fun if there was only puzzles. Herein lies the problem. How do you add more gameplay elements to a character that won’t feature much combat? You add two things: Stealth and Investigations.

The first thing that will probably be implemented would be a stealth element. Large amounts of dangerous enemies are not good things and the Doctor would be in the thick of it (as always). Of course, unless there was some sort of strategic advantage to it, the Doctor wouldn’t rush directly into a confrontation with a horde of Daleks. That’s where stealth comes in. Perhaps you alter the environment to create safe paths around obstacles, like using a crane to lower some metal pipes down to create a path over patrolling baddies. Maybe you can overload a circuit to create a large explosion that draws enemies near to it so you can get through unseen. Perhaps you act as bait while your computer controlled (or, dare I say, partner controlled) companion activates necessary…y’know…things that need to be activated. Maybe you even use your Screwdriver to rewire a drone for an inside job. Subterfuge is important, and there should be numerous creative ways to finagle your way through potentially dangerous situations.

The investigations portion would probably be a lot like an adventure game. A big part of Doctor Who is that the Doctor stumbles into situations with virtually no information on what’s happening and discovers things as the episode proceeds. In the game, the Doctor would have to search the environment and question NPCs about events in progress to get a bigger picture of the situation and how to best proceed. Maybe he finds an old photograph that suggests alien interference with their location and then uses that photograph to ask the owner of the place about strange goings on. Of course, it wouldn’t be fun or a challenge to simply get answers in a string of scripted responses. You would, for example, need to present the right clues and select the right things to say to a character to get all the information you need out of them. What I’m suggesting is, essentially, Phoenix Wright except as Doctor Who. It’s a system that would work incredibly well, I believe.

Of course, there might just have to be straight up action portions to the game to balance out the stealth and puzzles. Maybe you begin a level playing as the Doctor’s enemy and set up the mess that the Doctor has to fix. Maybe in the middle of a level, control switches to an enemy and you have to hunt the Doctor down to bring in the next portion of the story. Maybe there’s a character that is the Doctor’s ally, but not opposed to violence as he is (such as River Song or a potential new character) that takes a more “hands on” approach to the entire situation. It still probably wouldn’t be a traditional shooter or anything like that, but it can add some things to the spectrum of gameplay styles for people who want to do something different.

The best part about this is that you could probably play it two player. The Doctor, for his own sanity, always travels with some form of companion. Whether this is a game exclusive one that gets whisked away on some crazy adventure or the Doctor’s existing companion in the show at the time, there’s still room for player 2. Of course, the AI would have to be smart in this game for any of the tricks you might need to pull in game, but just imagine if you had a friend along for the ride.

As far as the story goes, there are two different ways they could take it. The first way would boil down to one long story taking place over several hours of gameplay. The focus would be on one enemy or group and you work your way up to the final encounter with them over the course of your game. The idea of linear story telling shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you.

The second way (and this is, honestly, my preferred way) is an episode/mission structure. In this case, you’d have several different missions you could undertake that would focus on a different enemy in different locales, but were shorter, overall, than the straight story. I like this option because it offers the widest array of villains they can include in the game as well as the widest array of stories (and I love me a good Doctor Who story). The best part (and this structure would work better for this) is that in between missions, the TARDIS could act as a story hub. You could control the companion in the TARDIS, talk to the Doctor, explore the rooms, and learn more about the Doctor Who universe. If this is a companion created for the game, perhaps you learn more about him/her as well.

If the powers that be could gather a top notch developer to build some beautiful mechanics and some regular Doctor Who writers to pen a fantastic story, I think a 3D Doctor Who game could do incredibly well.

At least, as a Whovian, this is what I tell myself.

(All screenshots taken from Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock for PS3, Vita, and PC.)

Film & TV, Video Games

Halo 4 – Forward Unto Dawn Episodes 1 & 2

In my honest opinion, movies based on games (and games based on movies at that) are an extremely over rated (if only a money grabbing) idea. Most of the time the idea goes nowhere, Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with a good video game story (or doesn’t know how to sell it), or Uwe Boll gets ahold of the project, and nobody wants that. But recently technology has changed things.

The “web series” has taken over. This, I like. After watching the Mortal Kombat web series that came out before the new game, though they weren’t officially related, I thought to myself, “why don’t more game companies get behind this?” They can creatively control their own work, it can be released at the company’s leisure, and the game’s plot can be presented in a cinematic medium without the prying/story destroying power of Hollywood (or Uwe Boll).

My wishes were granted.

It was only a few months ago that 343 Studios and Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a web series along side their new game, Halo 4. The best part? It will be released on YouTube,, and the Xbox‘s Halo “haven”, Waypoint, for free as 20 minute shorts for 5 weeks. I was skeptical, but I have been a Halo fan for quite a long time, thus elevating my standards.

But, after watching through the first 2 episodes and their preliminary trailers… it wasn’t enough. I WANT MORE PLEASE!!!



“Forward Unto Dawn” follows a UNSC military school team of cadets preparing for the war against human insurrectionists. Though the entire team is the focus of the narrative, Thomas Laskey (Tom Green.. no not that Tom Green), a cadet who questions the war and the battle with the aforementioned insurrectionists, is the primary protagonist. Laskey is the son of a military commander, the brother of an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) who he looks up to, and was top of his class. Needless to say, Laskey has some pretty big shoes to fill. Laskey’s lack of faith in the school and his negativity of the war make him an outcast among his peers and the faculty. But looks aren’t everything and with his family background and the conviction he has in his beliefs, there are those who believe there is a leader in him, including his squad mate (and possible love interest?) Cadet Chyler Sylva played by Anna Popplewell, of the Chronicles of Narnia films. His leadership skills shine in the end when he gets his squad through a game of capture the flag with some interesting tactics.

Cadet Sylva

“Forward Unto Dawn” does a good job of showing how young soldiers in the Halo universe are brought up. It is even more interesting to see how they feel, cope, and learn in a universe at war. You really get to know these kids throughout their struggles. And in two episodes you can already see how they are growing into the soldiers that they will become. It shows that Halo doesn’t always have to be about the frontline.

Cadet Laskey in his Cryo Uniform

It’s really nice to see a live-action movie legitimately stand on its own in a world built by a video game. As a fan of the series I can’t get enough and “Forward Unto Dawn” gives me something to look forward to every week in my countdown towards Halo 4. 343 Studios and Microsoft nailed a way to promote their new game and made something really special for the fans. The previews for next week’s episode are teasing at Covenant and Master Chief. Needless to say, I can’t wait.

You can catch up on the series here.

Film & TV

An Elementary Analysis

I spent a lot of time slinging skepticism at Elementary. Not all of it was in the bitter recesses of the internet, a place where all negative feeling towards something is amplified 1000 times. I spent a little bit thinking about it in my head. Just the fact that we have a Sherlock Holmes show set in America (when Sherlock Holmes is one of the few remaining things that is undeniably British) seems to be kind of off. The fact that it seems to be seriously capitalizing on the popularity of BBC’s Sherlock (even Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, the show runners, called BS on the whole thing) is a bit seedy. The fact that (and please don’t assume this to be a sexist comment, because it really isn’t) they cast a female in the role of Watson seems off as well. This isn’t to say that it’s bad to cast women in roles that have been assigned to men, but this particular instance seemed like it was meant to assign sexual tension to a character that doesn’t really give a toss about sexual tension. This is America, after all.

So imagine my skepticism, then, going into the premier episode. I sat down with my proverbial notebook, ready to take down facts and slam it while comparing it to a British show that is vastly superior.

And I came to two realizations:

  1. That the show is actually good
  2. That it’s slightly unfair to directly compare Sherlock and Elementary
“I felt like Jimi Hendrix there for a moment.”

My big test for a TV show is that I watch the first episode. If I like it, I’ll watch the second episode. If I like that, I’ll watch the third. By that point, I typically know if I’m going to follow a show through it’s season. Having seen two episodes of Elementary, I’ll probably skip the third date and go right into going steady.

The first thing we have to realize here, as viewers, is that both Sherlock and Elementary have two different Sherlock Holmeses within them. Of course they share the same Holmes character traits, but they’ve got different personalities. Both are sociopaths with no use for the drivel we call every day life and both of them are genius level detectives who often analyze things and people until they break down in some kind of emotional fit. I think the big difference you see between the two is a much more open Sherlock Holmes (in Elementary) than the Sherlock Holmes (in Sherlock.) It’s quite striking actually. You come into the show expecting a more cold and self-reflective Sherlock and instead get a Sherlock who is open to accepting help and letting lessons penetrate his thick skin. He still has his moments though.

I don’t know why this fact surprised me, but I guess it’s safe to say it did. The Sherlock in Elementary is NOT American. He is, in fact, still British. Having come to New York to get away from London and his drug addiction, Sherlock offers his services to New York’s finest to help solve cases. I suppose I should have assumed he would be British, given Jonny Lee Miller (a British actor) plays him, but given the last thing I saw him in he played an American (Dexter, season 5) I sort of assumed.

He does, in fact, do a great job of Sherlock Holmes. The best part is, he’s a bit more of a sympathetic. He’s incredibly manic, appropriately disheveled, and absolutely wonderful…but he’s quite obviously human. I’ve heard some complaints about Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock, citing him as almost alien in his intellect and emotion. I love Benedict, but I can agree with this conclusion a lot of times. The way Miller plays his Sherlock is absolutely brilliant, showcasing the fact that Sherlock is, in fact, a human with emotions. He’s a damaged individual who masks himself with fake bravado and lack of interest in other humanly things…when all it takes is a down to Earth companion to start his healing process.

On the matter of this companion, Watson is always the key in any sort of fiction based on Holmes. Watson is the relatable one who is there as a buffer to Sherlock’s quirkiness. It seems to be no different for this version as well, female or not. Lucy Liu is playing a decent Watson with a relatively interesting back story. The fact she’s a woman has really played no part aside from the fact that she happens to be a non-male Watson. My worry previously about the artificial sexual tension was dealt with in the pilot in a really clever fashion. Watson herself is a strong female character in this universe. She knows what she’s doing, and she knows how to “handle” Holmes, which is how most people should: be patient with him up to a point and then knock him down when he gets to big. He still has his ego, but it’s checked baggage because of her.

You then have the sub characters of Captain Gregson and Detective Bell, both of which are interesting characters for the show. They aren’t as fleshed out as Sherlock or Watson (obviously) but they seem important to the universe as Sherlock’s police contacts. The problem I had with their parallel characters (kind of) in Sherlock is that they were characters you wanted to hate because they hated Holmes for no real good reason (short of Lestrade, I suppose). These characters in Elementary are good in that they have a healthy skepticism of Holmes, but still know how to respect him when the time is right. They even helped him with an unorthodox plan to uncover the killer in the second episode. It’s good to know the regular police will be more of a help than a hindrance in this show.

There were two big worries I had with this show. The main one was that it was going to be a direct rip-off of Sherlock, which it wasn’t because of how Sherlock and everyone else in this world is portrayed. The second was that, because it was an American crime drama, it was going to be far too much like a CSI or any other cop drama nowadays. While it is very much procedural, it’s excusable because of the fact that the show is a character study. There’s so much invested in developing everyone from the main down to the secondary characters…and it shows.

Elementary jumped from one of my most go to TV jokes into one of my go to TV watching experiences in two episodes. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the show takes us.