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Game Review: Eiyuu densetsu: sen no kiseki II / Trails of Cold Steel 2 (PS Vita)

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Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is a rollicking prelude to Asgard's end times. Headlined by the power antlers of Hela (Cate Blanchett), goddess of death, utter destruction has never been so appealing. In his third movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is determined to stop her and save his people...because that's what heroes do.

Humor is the standout in Thor: Ragnarok. There are so many quotable lines ("I have been falling for thirty minutes!"), absurd exchanges, and just plain goofy moments, like Thor's attempt to smash a window with an exercise ball. Jeff Goldblum is a riot as the Grandmaster, and Korg (Taika Waititi) is ridiculous. Even Hela will pause her murder spree long enough to make a dry observation. This movie is lighthearted despite its high stakes, and a lot of that is because of its lead.

Thor is uncomplicated. He's Odinson, the god of thunder, next in line to the throne, and a hero. He's sure of himself and his place in the world, and is as swaggeringly confident h…

We Stood in Line for the SNES Classic and Got Mario Run Instead?

On September 29, Junior and I lined up outside our local Gamestop for the chance to buy a fragment of my childhood: the SNES Classic. I was eager to show my little one the games that I grew up with, but also, I wanted to play Super Mario World. After playing so much JRPG (Sen no kiseki and Sen no kiseki II), I longed for the simplicity of mindless platforming.

Although we arrived a full 30 minutes before opening, there were more than a dozen people ahead of us already. Nerds. A small line formed behind us, too, and we all chatted nervously about our chances of getting one of the limited units.

The store opened on time, and we all inched forward. As we got closer to the store proper, my heart sank as I saw the sign posted on the door: only 20 units stocked. I didn't know how many people were in line ahead of us, but I was about to find out.

One by one, the early birds filed out, gripping their purchases. About midway through, I spotted one lady with a larger bag--she had purchased…

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a dumb, fun action movie. While bigger, louder, and more action-y than the original, it lacks the fresh premise, emotional arc, and character development of the first movie. However, it does feature an impressive array of talent, and a celebrity who’s having the cameo of his life. Overall, it’s an entertaining romp that sets up possible future movies in the franchise.

As in the first film, the Kingsman face a diabolical villain with global reach and a sinister solution to a real-world issue. Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) wants the war on drugs to end—and will sacrifice millions to achieve her goal. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that most Kingsman agents and their bases of operation are the first casualties. Cut off from their resources, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) travel to Kentucky, USA for assistance from their “cousins,” the Statesmen.

The Statesmen provide a lot of laughs, especially their codenames: leader Champagne (Jef…

Junior: Third Annual Report

Junior has now officially transitioned from Toddler to Child. In this report, we will highlight his various areas of growth and development.

For reference, his previous reports are here and here.

1. Language and Cognition
While Junior is now perfectly capable of expressing his needs, wants and opinions, this past year has also been notable for the number of times Junior's teacher has raised concerns over inappropriate language. The issue is being addressed via parental self-restraint and gratuitous word substitutions (e.g. "fudge").

Junior demonstrates strong listening comprehension skills. When explained a concept in Tagalog, he will accurately explain it to someone else in English.

So far the only potential lapse in brain power is seen in his unerring belief that when he can't see you, you can't see him. Hide-and-seek with Junior is exceedingly easy for adult participants.

2. Coordination

Junior has an excellent sense of balance and is fearless and competent on …

Movie Review: Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver is a lot of fun. It has a smashing soundtrack, killer stunt driving, and an outstanding supporting cast. The writing, by director Edgar Wright, is sly and subverts expectations. Overall, it’s a film worth watching on the big screen.

Baby Driver focuses on Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young getaway driver employed by Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby is fantastic at his job but wants to go straight; the thieves he works with constantly tell him he doesn’t belong in their world. When he meets a nice young woman (Lily James), he becomes even more desperate to make a fresh start. But the latest job turns out to be more dangerous than anyone expected…

The veteran actors surrounding Elgort are superb. Spacey is in fine form as a criminal mastermind with a firm grip on his favorite “employee.” His crew includes Jon Hamm, sleazy as Buddy, his beloved Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Jamie Foxx as the menacing Bats. Their conversations among each other, and their interactions with the taciturn and mus…

Game Review: Eiyuu densetsu: sen no kiseki (PS Vita)

Eiyuu densetsu: sen no kiseki (Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel) is another excellent installment in the Trails series by developer Nihon Falcom. This time, the action takes place in the Erebonian empire and focuses on a group of students attending Thors Academy, an elite military school.  The group, called Class VII, is a mix of commoners and nobles -- highly unusual in a country with a rigid social system. Players take Class VII members through their first year of military training, and, naturally, tropes, teen drama, and absurdities abound. The game was released in 2013.

Sen no kiseki does nearly everything right. The music is top-notch, with absolutely perfect tracks for all situations: battles, towns, character tensions, quiet evenings, mysterious happenings, even homeroom! I mean, a short speech during an academy board meeting gets an epic swelling score, which was both ridiculous and yet appropriate. The opening theme is fun, and so is the ending. At one point, Class VII e…