Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kevin Is Right: Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer

This one is just a quick hitter because I just watched the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer and I am pumped.   Check it out below:

Wow.  There's so much to love here in such a small package.  (Yes, you may insert joke here).

First and foremost, it looks like Marvel will be cribbing liberally from Ed Brubaker's amazing run on Captain America (November 2004 to October 2012), which for my money is one of the best runs in a comic, ever.  If you want to read the books before seeing the movie, that's the place to start.  The Winter Soldier is the title of one of the best Brubaker's arcs, and it looks like the plot beats that characterize the arc are central to the film.

The high points all appear to be represented.  On the surface, we have the mystery of who is The Winter Soldier.  (We won't spoil it here).  However, even within the trailer we see the layers of subtlety of theme being peeled back.  The genius of Brubaker's run on Captain America is that he didn't utilize Captain America as just another super hero, or even as a sort of jingoistic American power fantasy.  Instead, Brubaker's run was a meditation on what it means to be American in the 21st century, and the tension between the legacy of the idealized American past, particularly "The Greatest Generation" and the realities of an ever-changing, frightening and menacing world.  The use of Captain America was a lens in which we could envision how "Old America" would view "New America" and thereby reconcile the two rapidly diverging ideas, and the nexus at which our American ideals converge upon our American realities.  In this case, the tensions between pre-emptive warfare and our idealized sense of justice, and even more subtle meditations, as manifested in Cap's suit which appears to have eschewed the more idealistic, symbolic Red White and Blue for a an approach that can be simultaneously be described as practical and stealth, or perhaps sneaky, covert and, even Anti-American.  I'm sure the symbolism that the only sign of America left on Caps' costume, the star, is also featured within the trailer on the Winter Soldier's metallic arm, will not go unremarked upon.

On top of this substantive work, we see some of the other special sauce that's going to make this All-American burger so tasty.  The character list is impressive.  Natasha Romanov, "The Winter Soldier", Nick Fury, and Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, who appears to be directing S.H.I.E.L.D. (even I don't understand this mystery, but it looks awesome), as well as The Falcon, who not only is a fantastic and underrated companion character to Captain America, but looks to be given a phenomenal character design for the movies.

I also want to commend the first 30 seconds of this trailer in particular.   I felt it was a bold move to lead your action movie trailer with a relatively quiet character moment between Romanov and Rodgers.   The gamble paid off in a big way, though.  The acting and interplay between Evans and Johansson is extremely engaging and playful, and yet the end beat of the scene is the sort of heroic moment that immerses you in that Captain America feeling.  I have to confess that after that 30 second clip, I had to readjust my expectations.  I was ready for a movie to start, and, sadly, only had a trailer.  Ultimately, that scene served to give me the intangible feeling of quality which really shaped my impression of the rest of the trailer.  Something whispered to me "Don't worry Captain America fanboy, we'll take good care of you, we understand."

Despite their excellent track record, I've never been this excited for a Marvel movie.  Sure, it's just a trailer, but this one may end up ranked with the first Iron Man film in terms of quality, if this trailer is any indication.  Obviously, too soon to tell, but boy do they have me excited!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Loaded Dice Cast Season 3 Episode 8: Beyond Two Many Beers

Coming at you with the booziness, Loaded Dice Cast is back!  Prompted by the new game Beyond 2 Souls, marketed as a movie more than a video game, The Loaded Dice crew attempts (drunkenly) to examine the convergence of traditional forms of visual narrative with video games.  Vince drinks the brown, Dubs uses bud heavies as cough syrup, Evan, predictably, gets fancy, and Kevin forgets to eat dinner but remembers to pound 7 beers.  A certain liquidity overtakes the conversation, but we get some cool stuff out of it.

In the beginning of the episode, Kevin talks about his experience at NY Comicon 2013.

The draft this week covers a theoretical Loaded Dice Kickstarter, where you, dear listener, fund our hookers and booze habit, and receive dubious prizes in return.


Show Notes:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kevin Is Right: Why Your Kickstarter is Bullshit

Over the course of the last year or so, we here at Loaded Dice have really changed our tune on crowdfunding.  Indeed, we discussed the issue in a lot of depth in a recent podcast on the subject.  Suffice to say that we have gone from very excited about the possibilities of democratized crowdfunding, and the empowerment of participating and patronizing the projects that you wish to see come into the world, to a sort of wary feeling of disillusionment, fueled by the myriad delays, disappointments and occasional outright frauds which have come to pass over the course of the last 18 months or so.

The problem with kickstarters is that they can prey on a group of unsophisticated "investors" who have wallets that are both loose and fat.  In place of the traditional model of video game investment, which relies upon the tried and true concepts of business plans, legal vetting, budgeting, and a bunch of other stuff you learn in business school, developers are allowed to tug on the strings of nostalgia and empowerment fantasies to sell you rainbows, ponies, unicorns and wishes. None of the vetting that goes with taking a potentially good idea to market is required, and often, it is not even begun until the money is already in hand.

I wanted to deconstruct what I felt was a typically problematic kickstarter video, the primary "elevator pitch" of most, if not all,  kickstarters, for the purposes of exposing the manipulations.  I have chosen the recently fully funded (and fully stretch goaled) Mighty No. 9 kickstarter.  I want to emphasize that although it is of necessity that I have singled out one particular kickstarter video, it is not because this one is particularly more egregious or terrible than the rest.  My goal is merely to use it as an example to demonstrate a wider pattern of the manipulations and illusory promises that are typical of this sort of pitch.  Mighty No. 9 just happened to hit many of the high notes.  Oh, and Dubs is kind of enthusiastic about it, so it's always fun to shit in his cornflakes.

Analysis After the Break....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Loaded Dice Season 3 Episode 7: Happy Endings

A Wild Live-Cast Appears! While enjoying football in Geoff's basement, Geoff, Kevin and Dubs broke out into a discussion about happy endings. Well, endings in general, at least. Dubs felt inspired by the ending of Breaking Bad to do a retrospective and analysis on what makes an ending good, and what makes an ending worthy of nerd-rage within the context of beloved television series.  We do not get into spoilers for Breaking Bad, but are pretty Spoiler Heavy on LOST, Star Trek, and some other older series.

Amidst the government shutdown in the US, we draft better reasons for the Nerd Party of the United States to shut down the government. We may have hit an all timer in terms of offensiveness on this one.

Kevin and Dubs provide a review of the new Cuaron movie Gravity as well, to warm us up.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Loaded Dice Season 3 Episode 6: A Tree Grows in the Holodeck


This week Loaded Dice asks the most important question of all: Is Star Trek's Holodeck an existential nightmare machine, or merely the greatest masturbatory aid of the 24th century? Our expert panel of Dubs, Kevin, Derek and Vince survey the relevant issues of sentience, consent, talking fleshlights, memory, creation, violence and identity while perusing various examples from the Star Trek canon including Voyager's Holographic Doctor, Hologram Moriarty, the mating habits of Lt. Worf, and the e-brothels of Quark's bar.

Additionally, our draft segment features the stuff of nightmares. Nerd nightmares.

To warm up on the topic of the creation and destruction of sentient life, Derek enlightens us with a review of the Peter Molyneux God Game fittingly entitled, Godus.

Hope you enjoy!