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Author Archives: Prickly Pear

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On Fantasy, and why it’s so easy to get hooked onto Hollywood opiate

As of late, it’s been difficult for me to watch any films that take a darker, deeper look at human nature, life, and existence. Normally, I thrive on these themes, and eat them up like pineapple cakes. But lately, I have been too….emotionally  drained to want to entertain them.

In the end, what is it that a majority books, movies, television, and games provide? Outlets for our own fantasies, of course. Where the fantasy space of the viewer is carefully engaged, using the screen material. To quote a friend, “it allows your mind the freedom to wander, to consider what it finds of interest, to float past what it doesn’t.  It allows you to engage a mode of fantasy that draws energy from the story and its characters (though likely not all characters, and different characters for each viewer or reader), but is not equivalent with the story–again, fantasy will touch down on points of interest with the story, but otherwise spends a lot of time elsewhere, playing with some of its ideas, characters or scenarios.” It is a mark of powerful work of art, that is able to transport and immerse the viewer it’s own unique fantasy space. Take Star Wars, Star Trek, or Harry Potter. All of these have fanatical and active fanbases, who are, above all, active in exploring these worlds. Harry potter fanfiction is written and consumed in unfathomably large quantities by fans who love the characters, and love to write about them. There are conventions for both Star Wars and Star Trek, where fans enjoy roleplaying their favorite races.

In the end, I do believe that people have fantasies of two main themes, often intertwined: fantasies of grandeur, and of romance. Hollywood has perfected the formula, the one where a movie, immersive or not, manages to make the audience lose themselves in their own fantasies, more than what’s actually happening on screen. For guys: Fast cars, explosions, wealth, social status, superpowers/amazing physical ability, a sense of purpose, and above all, a sense of specialness, of being chosen. For girls, romance, finding passion/a connection, social status, desirability/likability, and that same sense of specialness. And it all wraps up all tight and neat in 110 minutes. For a movie to have mass appeal, it makes sense to unashamedly throw all these things together in a jumble, which is why chick flicks and action movies are so damn generic.

Art and media is, after all, something to be engaged in, and not just watched. Just like a painting evokes different responses, and is appreciated in different ways by different people. Ideally, one would be fully able to appreciate the complete depth a work of art, all it’s complexities as envisioned by a great mind. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you can find even one reason to be entranced.

The greatest works of art…they are not only immersive, taking you into their realm completely, but they explore and expand your own fantasies. They provide a framework that your mind can roost on, an area to entertain and contemplate at your leisure. They make you think, shaping your understanding of the world, and human nature.

I think it’s quite silly how … almost taboo it is to talk about the notion of fantasies, and how absolutely integral they really are to most of us. Far from being something we discard when “growing up,” we keep them with us for life; they shape our dreams and aspirations, our understanding of media and what works of art we enjoy, and ultimately, who we want to be.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Editorials

 

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Portal 2

Although I had always heard great things about the portal series, I was just recently drawn into it for the Portal 2 Co-op. Having never played 1, I had no idea what to really expect from the game, even though I had heard about it before.

I have to say that it was definitely one of the most challenging and thought-provoking co-operative puzzle games I’ve ever played. After finishing the tutorial, we immediately skipped to the extra campaign, art therapy. This destroyed the natural learning curve for the game by introducing all the different gameplay elements at once, but at the same time provided for a very challenging experience where you had to not only figure out what these new elements did, but how to use them effectively (the blue gel for example).

After going to the normal levels, we realized how well the game introduced each of the elements. The learning curve was excellent, the gameplay always challenging, and Glados became one of my favorite video game characters, with her sarcastic humor keeping you amused throughout the entire game.

As for environment.. the game was crafted perfectly. You awaken after an unknown period of time, where much of the aperture facility has rusted into disarray. It just really feels as if you have been thrust into an aged robot-run testing center.

Though there are no bogeymans, the game cultivates a surprisingly dark atmosphere, with cynical humor and tongue in cheek thrown throughout, and a distinct sense that it is a libertarian rapture gone wrong. It is outlandish in it’s own way, and the sci-fi themes that it explores are interesting to consider; the game delves into the origins of aperture and GlaDOS.

All in all, a very polished game which I highly recommend for anyone to play, either in single or multiplayer modes.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Games, PC

 

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Zelda! Happy 25th Anniversary and a Skyward Sword Review

Rating: ★

This year marks Zelda’s 25th anniversary, and with it was released orchestral rendering of  the best themes of the series.

After finishing Skyward Sword, I can conclude that the series is still going strong, even despite my initial misgivings about the game.

Anyways, below is one of the coolest fanarts of all time:

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Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Games, Wii

 

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Immortals Review

Rating: ★

When I first saw this movie at a pre-screening, I went in with no expectations. I mean, I figured it would be like 300; thoroughly enjoyable but not a “good” movie. The reality wasn’t too far off the mark

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Action/Adventure, Films

 

1Q84: A World of Two Moons

Rating: ★

“Tell me, Tengo, as a novelist, what is your definition of reality?”

Murakami’s novels have consistently explored the merging of the surreal and the mundane in a truly Kafkaesque manner. His latest work, 1Q84, is no exception.

It follows the stories of two protagonists, Aomame and Tengo, in two separate storylines, as they find themselves shifted to the alternate reality of 1Q84, a world where two moons hang in the sky, and strange forces are at work. When Tengo, a 30 year old cram school teacher and fiction writer, ghostwrites a novel titled Air Chrysalis, he throws into motion a series of events. This is 1Q84; anything can happen. Yet, the world does follow its own set of strange and inexplicable logic.

This novel is Murakami’s best work yet: with his matter-of-fact, softly unemotional tone, he manages to capture the essence of modern Japanese society perfectly yet again. And, despite this softly unemotional tone, the reader feels a distinct connection with each of the protagonists.

In the end, it is an exploration of the loneliness.  The two protagonists, having borne their loneliness for so long, do not realize how unconnected they have become, and perhaps this is what allows them to shift to 1Q84…

I won’t say too much, but it is a long book, filled with subtleties and nuance. Sometimes the pace can be slow. But for one who would enjoy a deeply introspective query into what it means to live our modern life, flavored by a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, I can think of no better book to recommend.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in 5 Stars, Literature, Postmodern

 

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