Monthly Archives: June 2013

World War Z Review

WWZ

World War Z is, in case you have magically missed out on all the hype, a zombie apocalypse movie which begins in the contemporary USA but then goes globetrotting. It’s about as “based on” Max Brooks’ 2006 novel as U-571 was “based on” genuine historical events, so bear that in mind if you enjoyed the book.

Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a UN Investigator who seems better at staying alive than every soldier he meets. He’s kind of like a Mother Teresa figure, sowing destruction in his wake through sheer coincidence yet remaining largely unharmed. He’s coerced out of retirement because apparently nobody but a retired diplomat is fit for the job. We see how much of a big goddamn hero he is when he’s the only person who can drive fast in gridlocked traffic, and when he saves his wife from the Obligatory Rape Threat even though a few minutes before she’d shown herself to be pretty quick-thinking and badass. Tragically for Gerry the younger of his two daughters seems to be completely stupid, and many of his close encounters of the Zombie Kind are entirely thanks to Little Miss Derpface.

Alas a great deal of the plot requires stupidity from everyone in it. This is one of my no-no’s with storytelling, and World War Z hits it frequently. Gerry’s youngest is a moron, so Action Happens, because Gerry himself is bright enough to get out of Action’s goddamn way. Other survivors they encounter are morons, which mires Gerry further in set pieces which wouldn’t occur if people were as smart as they initially appeared to be. Of outstanding stupidity is the moment which leads to this:

WWZWall

But the stupidity doesn’t stop. Scientists Gerry meets who are ostensibly very bright turn out to actually be deeply intellectually hampered. Soldiers actually seem to fare pretty well on the brains scale in this film, but I imagine that’s only because if a Blockbuster attempts to show American soldiers in any light other than massive heroes right now, it’ll go down about as well booking Gary Glitter for a children’s birthday party.

Gone is the novel’s commentary on US isolationism, government ineptitude and wealth-driven corruption. Perhaps that’ll come in the sequel since, in the movie’s defence, the book is set ten years after the war, whereas the film is set during the outbreak of the virus. Sequel? Why, yes. World War Z has already grossed so highly that a sequel’s been ordered. People will probably pay to go and see it.

Unless you’re really keen on seeing the visual effects on a big screen, I’d save this one until it’s cheaper to watch. It’s not bad, and you probably won’t feel like you wasted your money, but that’s largely because bugger all else is on right now.

WWZWHO

Verdict: 6/10.

Entertaining, spectacular, forgettable.

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Dragon’s Maze Mini-League Adventure

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The recent trip to Texas was centred around visiting a friend, so Mr. Troo and I took a Dragon’s Maze booster box with us and spent a fortnight engaged in an impromptu mini-league. Here’s how it worked:

  • Each player took one third of the booster box.
  • For the first three rounds we opened six of our boosters and built a 40-card deck.
  • Each subsequent three rounds, we opened one additional booster.

This went pretty well for me from the very start, as I was able to riff off these guys:

DGM Battering Krasis DGM Trostani's Summoner

Opening three Battering Krasis and two Trostani’s Summoner within my first six boosters was a boon, but I didn’t have enough Green and White to go full Selesnya, so I splashed Black and included a few Orzhov staples such as a couple of Tithe Drinkers.

This was working reasonably well for me, but wasn’t especially reliable. My saving grace in the early stages was that both Shannon and Mr. Troo had pulled even less cohesive colours than I had, and were struggling to pull together remotely reliable decks.

As the league progressed and more boosters were opened, I lucked out and pulled even more Orzhov cards while my opponents were pulling more assorted random gibberish. Ultimately my deck looked like this:

3x Tithe Drinker
Sin Collector
Maw of the Obzedat
3x Rakdos Drake
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Pontiff of Blight
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Bane Alley Blackguard
Boros Mastiff
2x Crypt Incursion
2x Far/Away
Alive/Well
Profit/Loss
2x Debt to the Deathless
2x Riot Control
Godless Shrine

Pretty soon my star players had shifted to these guys:

DGM Pontiff of Blight DGM Teysa

I was able to extort myself alive long enough to pull one or the other, after which extorting my opponents to death or becoming relatively unassailable shifted control of the board in my favour. My two main problems were when Mr. Troo pulled two Mirko Vosks, and Shannon pulled a Master of Cruelties. Mr. Troo was pretty capable of grinding me to death if he played a Mirko successfully, so the sight of that Dimir critter usually put the game on a short, sharp countdown. It was the appearance of Mirko that made me include the Rakdos Drakes in the end, avoiding unleashing them so that I had flying blockers that could buy me an extra turn each.

All in all I pulled some amazing cards to build a robust Orzhov deck around, as I already have some bloody good Orzhov cards sitting about, so I’ll tinker with a deck list and test that puppy out!

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The Trouble with The Lack of Tribbles…

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Before disappearing off to Texas, I wrote an article for SFX, which you can find here.

It largely deals with the attempts to turn episodic-format shows into serialised dramas, and focusses on Doctor Who and Star Trek as its main examples.

Enjoy! 😀

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