Week in Review

Just so that nobody thinks I’m dead…

My life last week consisted primarily of me playing Civilization V. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take paternity leave to care for my new daughter (sadly, today was my first day back at work), but she doesn’t do a whole lot right now except eat, sleep, and poo, so I wound up purchasing a new video game.

I’ve owned every Civilization title (including Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri) since part II, which is the first computer game I ever played on my first computer. With each iteration, I invariably blow about a month of my life sitting in front of the computer screen internally uttering “Just one more turn.” I know the Civilization series is not everybody’s cup of tea, but for fans, Sid Meier and crew miraculously manages to keep the series fresh while never departing too radically from the core gameplay.

By far the best innovation of Civilization V is the elimination of unit stacking. You can no longer place a billion military units into the same tile. Only one military unit and one civilian unit can share a tile, including the city garrison. Combined with the fact that the basic game board tiles are now hexagons instead of squares, this makes for a much more tactical game. I actually like military combat in Civilization V, whereas in previous games, I always attempted to avoid it by pursuing diplomatic solutions until I could just nuke everybody I didn’t like.

Moving on… Here are a few other random things about last week.

I caught the last thirty minutes of the new Masterpiece Mystery on PBS, which was an updated version of Sherlock Holmes (i.e., it is set in the present) featuring a very young  (and odd-looking) Sherlock. I thought I would hate it, but I didn’t. The bit I caught was just a rip off of the scene from The Princess Bride in which the Man in Black matches wits with Vezzini, with Sherlock in the role of Vezzini and a serial murderer in the role of Westley. But it was a good rip-off.

If you’re a Sherlockian, you’ll probably want to check it out, but unfortunately, I only see a preview on the PBS website, and not the full episode. Ah well.

Since this past weekend was Halloween weekend, I pulled a couple of scary movies out of my DVD collection to watch. The first was my wife’s choice: the remake of Dawn of the Dead. I’d forgotten that Zack Snyder of 300 fame had done this film. And seeing this again, I realize he kind of ripped himself off with the opening montage to Watchmen, since the opening montage to Dawn of the Dead was similarly done. Both are rather brilliant, by the way.

Snyder’s a solid, slick director who does flash well, and there’s a lot that I like about his DotD, right from the start in which the protagonist has to escape her neighborhood with all hell breaking lose around her. One of my favorite shots is the low angle steady cam trailing her car as she speeds through the residential streets. It’s something you’re more likely to see in a video game than a film, and as a result, it’s weird and interesting.

What makes this film worth watching, though, is that Snyder uses pretty much all practical/special effects for the copious zombie killing, and that’s kind of unexpected considering how enamored he clearly is of CGI.

Even though my wife picked it and had seen it before, in her analysis, Dawn of the Dead is more funny than scary. She might be right–it’s very jokey, but then again, it does have a scene in which a woman gives birth to a zombie baby, and that’s damn creepy.

Anyway, we watched that on Saturday, and on Sunday, my pick, we watched Blade II. This remains one of the best action films I’ve ever seen. I actually saw this movie twice in the theater, which is something I never do. I haven’t got much to say except that Guillermo del Toro is an artist and it’s absolutely unfathomable to me that this film only has a 6.6 on the IMDb. This film is not only creepy as hell with amazing make-up effects, but it’s pretty much just the most ass-kickingest film ever made. For my money, Wesley Snipes is probably…I don’t know…one of the top five film martial artists. I love his economy of motion and the way that when he hits a dude (yes, I know he’s not really hitting them), it looks like he’s just breaking bones with every strike.

9 Replies to “Week in Review”

  1. Blade 2 is in my top ten favorite movies of all time. It’s just so damn entertaining. Dawn of the Dead is also very entertaining, but I was such a huge fan of the original film that the remake didn’t do a whole lot for me since I never saw the point. However, as remakes go, it was really well done. It’s a good zombie movie.

    And the Civilization games are boring. I have tried so hard to get into strategy games since they are so popular, well respected, and sound really cool. But… no. I just can’t do it. I enjoy the Sims and Sim City, but that’s about as much strategy as I can handle.

  2. Blade 2 is great. Hell, I’d watch it again right now.

    As much as I love Civilization, I’ve never been able to get into real time strategy games like Starcraft and Command & Conquer. There’s too much going on in games like that and it happens too fast for me. I prefer a more laid back strategy game.

    The thing I like about Civilization is that it’s turn-based, so it’s more like a game of chess. It can take many, many turns–an entire game’s worth, really–to see a plan come to fruition. It’s often less about producing the right units and deploying them correctly than it is about effective city management throughout. Civ V gets the balance right even more than previous games in the series, because for military victories, it’s no longer about producing the most units.

    The thing I don’t get is that there’s a multiplayer option. As cool as it sounds to match up against other humans, who would have the patience for that?

  3. Okay, I know I don’t belong in this conversation because I don’t like any of the movies you’re talking about. What’s the opposite of chick flicks?

    Anyway, I did see a movie this week where I had to watch it between the fingers of my hands. The name is The House of the Devil. Not that much happens in it, but the suspense waiting for something to happen kills you!

  4. How do you know if you like them? Have you ever seen them?

    I don’t know: guy flicks?

    Hmm…I’m reading the synopsis on the IMDb. Sounds pretty weird. I’d watch it.

  5. I’ve seen them, but I don’t guarantee I’ve stayed awake. First of all, I don’t usually like any humor in my horror.

  6. I guess you’re a purist, though it’s pretty sad that you probably think Orphan is a better film than Blade II.

Leave a Reply