I’ve been busy with the new day jobbe, but wanted to share some things which are great:

Alice in Wonderland
Never been a fan of Alice in Wonderland. Annoying little kid wandering around a crazy place eating and drinking indiscriminately and poo-pooing about like it’s all a great inconvenience. Tim Burton’s take (with a lovely script by Linda Woolverton), was absolutely stunning. Not just visually, which you expect from a Tim Burton film, but a fantastic coming-of-age-and-finding-yourself story about a 19 year old Alice whose destiny it is to lead a rebellion against the Red Queen. Yes, really! Check out the Joan of Arc armor! There were some heavy-handed moments, but nothing so egregious as you wouldn’t expect it in a fairytale. It was wonderfully cool to see a girl-comes-of-age movie (she even ends up on the prow of a ship at the end… like Titanic!) where she gets to pick up a sword and slay a real dragon. The performances are all amazing, too. Anne Hathaway as The White Queen takes herself just-not-seriously-enough to make her incredibly likable. Helena Bonham Carter is a perfect Red Queen, and though Depp is often over the deep end, it’s not too terribly annoying because he’s not on screen the whole time.  Mia Wasikowska is a strange Alice – I especially like the dark circles under her eyes – but the strangeness is what makes her so interesting. Great story, great actors, great visuals – and, have I mentioned? – Alice gets to slay? Yeah. Highly recommended.

Dragon Age: Awakenings
This is the sequel/expansion for Dragon Age: Origins. I am a sucker for a lot of Bioware games, primarily because they’re full of great stories, great characters, and a level of interaction with other characters that you just don’t get in any other game. It’s a tough followup to Dragon Age: Origins. Origins was longer, had more in depth relationships with the characters, and all that. Awakenings got off to a rough, slow start, with lots of installation issues, game crashing, and annoying lack of access to character conversations. Once you figure out their new system for character interaction, it gets easier (basically, you can’t talk to your folks any time you want. When you unlock a prompt, it either automatically starts the dialogue, or you have to select an object to trigger the conversation). But, you know, the gear is better, you make more money, and the choices are sacrifice this or sacrifice that. Lots of ambiguity. Lots of gray. I love that. Also, ass kicking female characters. There’s still the requisite “chick with boobs hanging out,” but as with Origins, they’re not *all* that way, which is what makes the difference, to me, between a lazy, sexist game and one that acknowledges that hey, yeah, woman have different characters and personalities, too! They don’t all run around with their boobs hanging out! Was also pleased that my golem armor didn’t have the obligatory boob-enhancements. What the hell kind of armor forms a breasplate with two custom boob-protrusions? Really? Nice to get away from that at the end with my warrior and the Sigrun the dwarf rogue. Also, very nice Buffy moment there at the beginning with Mhairi. Love you too, Bioware. Overall, A-.

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