Friday, May 26, 2006

Mutant Hysteria

Just watched X-Men: The Last Stand two days ago and subsequently watched it again with my folks the next day after some netsearches done to review some overlooked details. Watched the usual run of comedy movie trailers, the occasion modern suspense or horror movie trailer and the piece de resistance, the latest Superman Returns movie trailer. The trailer gets to show more as to what's going to transpire in this movie. Its like they combined Superman I and II elements sans the Kryptonian villain trio led by General Zod. (Snootchy Bootchies!!! Hahahaha... ;) ) Kevin Spacey is shown to be the actor for Lex Luthor, mainstay big bad and foil to Superman. I noticed they used some elements of Gene Hackman's Luthor acting with a more maniacal twist like he is protrayed in the current comic setup. The Fortress of Solitude is shown once again besides its small-screen appearance in Smallville. A scene showing Supes rescuing a jetliner going down was pretty hairy in terms of superheroic factor since it was usually shown easy-peasy in the comics in some point. It's one superhero movie franchise worth watching again anew. On to the main portion of this blog. The movie about mutants.

X-Men: The Last Stand is the supposed final movie of a trilogy of movies even though there's loose talk of subsequent sequence though talk of spinoff movies are discussed. >>>>Spoiler Mode Engaged<<<< The movie starts off with a timeline 20 years prior to the current setup where Professor X and Magneto visit the Grey residence to sell the Greys the idea of having Jean Grey enrolled in Professor X's School for Gifted Youngsters. A brief demonstration of power was done by Jean which features cameos of Stan Lee and well-known X-Scribe Chris Claremont. Scene fast-forwards and shifts 10 years later elsewhere showing a young Warren Worthington III manifested his mutation and self-mutilates himself to hide it from his father. This brief scene acted as the catalyst or starter of events which will create the conflict in the movie. Move to the present. The US Government has now created the Department of Mutant Affairs which features a familiar blue-furred mutant as its secretary. Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast is played by Frasier and Cheers Kelsey Grammer. He gets briefed in a presidential meeting regarding the hunt for Magneto which shows that Mystique was apprehended during an attempt theft which brings to light a mutant cure synthesized from a mutant in a pharmaceutical company's custody. The impact of such a cure to the mutant population is pretty distressing given how such a cure can be used as weapon if non-compliance occurs. Scene goes to the X-Mansion, with the much anticipated Danger Room sequence. It was full tilt action in the scenario involving X-Men Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Rogue, Iceman and Shadowcat against a Sentinel in a familiar Days of Future Past setting. Sentinel was shown as a haze-obscured outline and the severed head was there to show for it after Wolvie and Colossus execute the familiar Fastball Special. All the X-Men are still shaken with the loss of Jean Grey but the worst hit was Scott Summers. Scott Summers get withdrawn and all mopey and whiny that he gets a psychic summons from Jean that leads him back to Alkali Lake, the site of her demise. Dr. McCoy visits the mansion to inform Professor X about the news he received from the earlier meeting. After the news of the cure was made public, scene shifts to a town hall meeting of sorts for mutants. Magneto openly issued his recruitment call to add ranks to the Brotherhood and gets new recruits when he was approached by Callisto, Arclight, Psylocke and Kid Omega. As to not exhaust all the details since my memory is starting to fail at this point, I'll just critique the relevant points. Jean Grey returned as Dark Phoenix and kills Cyclops in short order during a kiss. Angel makes an appearance but not yet established as an X-Man. Other mutants that were shown were Jamie Madrox, The Multiple Man and unstoppable X-Men baddie Juggernaut. They remade Juggy as a mutant and no connection to the mystical Ruby of Cytorrak as in comic canon. Dark Phoenix joins in with Magneto's Brotherhood after a failed psychic duel of will between her and Professor X. The Blackbird gets to go on another outing but is now shown to have cloaking tech like the Helix from the Mutant X tv show though it gets destroyed by Dark Phoenix due to collateral damage. Combat roster for the main fight scene is comprised by the same group in the Danger Room sequence but with the addition of Beast. Teamwork really pays off against an opponent who knows your moves or senses you too well. Wolvie sticks his claws into Dark Phoenix to end her threat to the world. Magneto ends up depowered but not for long. Prof X somehow survived, if one were to sit out the ending credits to see the scene. Storm gets to do a lot more stuff than just altering the weather. >>>>Spoiler Mode Disengaged<<<<

The throughput in my brain is just flooding and barely enough to process out to get my review ahead of the rest who would post their reviews by Saturday or Sunday. I apologize for rushing this but its just the rush from watching the movie that got to me even though it was 90 minute movie. It should have be made longer given how much potential stuff it can be covered with a longer screening time. This movie goes out with a bang for sure and not a whimper as expected with Cyclops short appearance time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Vor-acious Reading

Just received my latest and possibly last E-bay purchase with my bro's help. The item I got about two weeks ago happens to be one of FASA's last game produced before they folded up in 2001. Its an intriguing title called "Vor: The Maelstrom".

Vor: The Maelstrom is a tabletop miniatures wargame which I would consider just as fascinating for those who enamored with current off-the shelf games like Warhammer, Warhammer 40K and others of its type. What would be considered the draw for me for getting it in this case? The fluff writing. Back in 2002, months prior to my recall to home, I saw this item in a shelf at Wizards Of The Coast gaming store branch at Northgate Mall in Washington state, north aways from Seattle.

I browsed through it and some of the forces used in the main book caught my eye and interest. I'll just run through a brief description of the forces/races showcased in the game:

Union - Comprised of the USA, Canada and Mexico collectively called the North American Union which was brought about by the threat presented by the next force...
Neo-Soviet - Led by General Gregori Vanivar, a student of Stalinist Communism who rekindled it to a scattered and decayed Soviet Union after personal tragedy affected his world outlook. If the Union are the epitome of high-tech fighting forces, the Neo-Soviets would strikingly remind you of Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge expansion because they are at the forefront of the black sciences of genetic mutations, chemical and radiological warfare.
Shard - An interesting force which were initially immortal energy beings at the apex of their evolution now forced back to corporeality due to the condition of the Maw where everybody else is stuck in for a long round of survival for resources and territory. These crystalloids are very versatile in manipulating their crystal forms to suit ranged and melee combat, moreso as they mature after centuries of existence.
Growlers - Strong, powerful pack oriented creatures of incredible strength and drive. They are the brute force type of force depicted.
Zykhee - A race of warrior-monks that excel with the use of mysti-tech. Tall, lithe and bodily flexible.
Mashers - Primitive neanderthals with hyperactive and hypercharged nervous systems which all them "mash" or fuse technology into them, their bodies acting as the power source.
Golems - Massive monolithic conquerors made known by their heavily armored countenance and strong-armed force tactics.
Ceru - A slave race that broke off from their Golem masters. These alien hi-tech gravbike riding gang of nomads survive and strike a blow at their former Golem oppressors.
Pharon - A necromantic race with a strong Egyptian motif and influence. They wield a mix of high-tech and necromancy to crush the opposition and recycle the remains to rejuvenate themselves or create new cannon fodder. They take the matter of creating "Essence of Chicken" to whole sickening level. *gag*

My possible top three forces to pick out of these mentioned are: Union, Shard and Neo-Soviet and Golem or Pharon for a far back-up pick. The Union and Neo-Soviet would be comfortable to RTS people familiar with the Red Alert 2 franchise if they ever reach 21st century standards and upwards. The Shard are fascinating given how they manipulate their crystalline bodies composed of psychically-responsive nanite crystal and they can expulse small amount of their life energy to channel as offensive blasts, defensive fields or other energy phenomena to utilize in the battlefield.

The overall story background of this wargame is straightforward. The Maelstrom is a roving cosmic anomaly that sucks in many worlds to be devoured at random intervals, the worlds that survive have its inhabitants eke out a routine of survival and exploration to acquire resources and territories to improve their chances in the Maelstrom. Skirmishes between the above forces happens as well as an alien lifeforms outside themselves also appear.

I only got the mainbook, Forcebooks covering Neo-Soviet, Shard, Growlers, Zykhee, Pharon and a pocketbook inspired by the game itself through a bid on Ebay with my brother's help. Its still tricky reading to go through it besides wrapping my brain around wargame stat-speak in order to proceed with the next aspect, conversion work to a pre-existing RPG system that would best reflect their abilities. I get some time, when available, to fashion something with regards to some of these fascinating forces into a playable format for RPGs.