Archive for the ‘ Video Games ’ Category

Pacific Rim (TheByteScene Review)

Date: September 9th, 2013

TheByteDaily

Pacific Rim

3 Giant-Robots-Fighting-Giant-Monsters out of 4

It’s a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters from a different universe. No, really, Guillermo del Toro, the famed director behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Devil’s Backbone, and a wide array of other films has returned to create a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters from a different universe. And it’s awesome. No, seriously.

The movie’s premise is simple, succinct, and straightforward: Giant monsters from another dimension named Kaiju attack Earth from a breach in the Pacific Ocean and the world’s governments work together to create giant robots named Jaegers to fight the unearthly threat. Taking place days after the Jaeger programmed is decommissioned, four remaining Jaegers set up a final resistance against the Kaiju menace in an all-or-nothing gambit for the fate of the world. Again, the movie’s premise is straightforward, and little time is spent on meaningless exposition; despite, or perhaps due to, the film’s ambitious nature, the plot is streamlined and all character interactions are limited by purpose.

What is the point of the conversation, what purpose does it serve to have these characters meet, how is the plot affected by this piece of dialogue? Once a scene answers these questions, the movie quite literally returns to the action, drawing in the audience with visuals, CGI, graphics, robots, monsters, and set pieces that are operatically epic. The film’s pace carries the audience from set piece to set piece choosing to spend time on creating a world where the Jaegers and Kaiju reign supreme.

Above all else, Pacific Rim is an exercise in visual mastery.

Created by artists whose love for the Mecha and Kaiju genres, and tokusatsu is abundant and evident, the movie radiates in subtle homages, references, and pastiches to the works of masters such as Ishiro Honda, Hideaki Anno, Go Nagai, Akira Kurosawa, Yutaka Izubuchi, and Yoshiyuki Tomino.

To those unversed in the staples that these creators and their works pioneered, the movie is loud, beautiful, epic, and awesome. A score by Ramin Djawadi creates a powerful atmosphere that the movie relishes in exploring, and though blockbuster action is present, watching Jaegers pummel, and get pummeled by, Kaiju is akin to watching master warriors dance around a large apocalyptic canvas. The fight choreography is akin to watching violent ballet; Jaegers and Kaiju match one another’s moves like dancers who have spent years learning each other’s intricacies and idiosyncrasies, and discovering new ways to adapt and conform to them.

Yes, the film’s plot is thin. Yes, the characters are fleshed out just enough to explain their motivations. Yes, the action is loud, bombastic, frequent, and worthy of the “Summer Blockbuster” distinction. Beyond these criticisms, Pacific Rim is beautiful, expertly choreographed, beautifully directed, and spectacularly scored.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

– SC(EK)

Man of Steel (TheByteScene Review)

Date: June 16th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

Man of Steel

 

4 Superpowered-deity-figures out of 4

 

The world isn’t ready for a superman.

 

For the duration of Man of Steel’s 143 minute running time, that is the single most discussed question the film attempts to tackle. Ignoring the multitude of philosophical questions that arise at the existence of a superman, none is more pertinent than the issue of how we as a planet will react to their existence. In my conclusion, the world isn’t ready for a superman.

 

The planet Krypton’s core is about to collapse on itself from an accumulated waste of resources over countless generations. The Kryptonian scientist Jor-El alerts the high council of this information, only to have the elders scoff at his insubordination and arrogance. The Kryptonian general Dru-Zod enters the council chamber announcing a coup d’etat, claiming that the high council has reigned for too long producing too little for the people of Krypton. Zod agrees with Jor-El’s sentiments, but differs in the application of his beliefs.

 

Played with little effort by Michael Shannon, General Zod lacks the gravitas one would attribute to a military general, or a villain of any kind. Instead, he serves as a man forced to play his hand at the announcement of the genocide of both his people, and his planet. Under different circumstances, Zod would be less of a terrorist, and more of a revolutionary. Played masterfully by Russel Crowe, Jor-El has given up on his planet’s salvation, and has placed his faith and his hope in his newborn son, Kal-El. Sending Kal-El to Earth in a ship marked with the House of El’s seal, the Kryptonian scientist knowingly changes the fate of both Earth and Krypton.

 

Believing that the day will come when Kal-El will be able to lead the people of Earth into the sun, Jor-El assumes that we will be ready for the arrival of a saviour.

 

This son of the house of El grows up on a farm, raised by two Kansas farmers in the town of Smallville, USA. Their names are Jonathan and Martha Kent, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. The boy is raised as their own; naming him Clark, Jonathan urges his alien son to hide his powers to avoid exposing himself to the horrors and condemnation of the human world. Struggling to find a balance between helping and hiding, Clark’s eventual journey is chronicled in flashback sequences edited to near perfection with the events unfolding on-screen. If there’s anything wrong with the movie, it’s the herculean task Jonathan asks of his adopted son. The idea that a hero must hide himself away for the right moment, hiding his powers, and forcing himself to avoid being an instrument of salvation is almost incomprehensible. Regardless of the audience’s own beliefs, it’s impossible to deny the truth in the elder Kent’s words; the world is not ready for a superman.

 

Henry Cavill plays a different kind of hero than Christopher Reeve; Cavill’s is more stoic, more real, with fewer lines of witty banter or snappy dialogue. What can be said in a paragraph of monologuing is delivered through a single glance, half a minute’s worth of dialogue is resolved in a conflicted stare. Cavill is able to portray a character bogged down with the notion that he must wait for the right moment, while never knowing when that moment will reveal itself. His acts of heroics are carried out in the shadows, and when his moment finally reveals itself, the burden of truth weighs heavy on his shoulders.

 

This is a Superman in an age where supermen no longer belong. This is a superman struggling to come to terms with both his humanity, and his alien heritage. That he falls for the human Lois Lane, played well by Amy Adams, and is forced to battle his own people to protect his adopted home is only the tip of Superman’s existential crisis.

 

Interestingly, action carries the majority of the film; the movie opens with the destruction of Krypton, and only takes breaks to let Clark Kent grow up and General Zod to distance himself from humanity. Whatever exposition exists in quiet, solitary moments, but philosophy, symbolism, and imagery permeate the entire movie. For a summer blockbuster so full of action and movement, and a hero so impossible to connect with, David S. Goyer writes a script begging to be challenged and analyzed, and a character begging to be related to. The film grows with the character, allowing the audience to grow in turn. The soundtrack is deep, eclectic, and visceral, giving a conflicted character varying levels of resolve. Hans Zimmer manages to perfectly convey the Superman that Zack Snyder has directed.

 

The film concludes that the world needs a superman. I argue that this is true; we need a superman. However, I genuinely believe that the world is not yet ready for one. Man of Steel is one of the greatest representations of the Superman character, and should be congratulated on finally bringing the essence of the character to mainstream audiences. By focussing on the man, and using the super as a plot hook, the film manages to convey a universe larger than our own, inhabited by beings beyond our comprehension.

 

I end with a final word regarding the movie’s critical and popular reception. This movie, and every aspect of it’s release including its soundtrack, has divided audiences.

 

It should.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the avid blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

The Student’s Dilemma; A Discussion of Intellectual Understimulation, Workaholism, and Boredom

Date: May 14th, 2013

TheByteDaily

The Student’s Dilemma; A Discussion of Intellectual Understimulation, Workaholism, and Boredom

 

The average undergraduate school year in the province of Ontario lasts eight months, with the remaining four months dedicated specifically towards “Summer holidays.” Two semesters divided between eight months, produce four grueling months of education, filled to the brim with tests, assignments, projects, papers, and lectures. Understandably, the summer months come as a quiet respite, though students will find themselves either continuing their educations by taking summer courses, or finding some form of work or internship to occupy their time by beginning a career and entering the workforce. Finally, how a school determines their credit count is arbitrary and irrelevant, with schools requiring varying amounts of “Credits” to graduate a degree program.

 

The provincial government determines a single university school year as containing 10 classes; engineering, and certain other programs require more classes, but the consensus is that no degree program requires less than 5 courses between two semesters.

 

Comparatively, the average high school year in the province of Ontario last ten months, with two months specifically dedicated towards “Summer holidays.” Depending on the school, and excluding the Catholic school boards (of which I have absolutely no knowledge), ten months are divided between two semesters, with a total of five months per semester dedicated to a yearly total of eight classes. One can immediately notice that the most obvious difference between University and High School isn’t just the length, but the two extra classes that University students are expected to take.

 

From a purely academic point-of-view, high school students are afforded more time to work on fewer classes, which is normally why the hardest transitional change for first-year university students is getting used to having less time to work on more subjects. “Normally,” because the hardest transition isn’t something that is tangibly there, but something that all but disappears into a narrow void.

 

Two months of schooling and education are eradicated in the transition between university and high school.

 

For many students these extra two months provide momentary peace and respite to prepare one’s self for the inevitable onslaught that a return to university entails. For many students, the total four months allow an individual time to relax and enjoy time as something more than a frail reminder of how much work is left, how little work has been done, and how much more work it’s going to take to finish.

 

For many students however, these four months serve as a form of intellectual understimulation, and for those unlucky to not have any plans, unlucky enough to be unable to find work, and unlucky enough to not have the advantage of travelling, these four months serve as an intellectual prison-sentence where boredom is one’s jailer, and apathetic complacency is one’s cellmate. I find that therein lies a paradoxical dilemma with being a full time student and having so long a break to relax in. Working – the mere act of doing something with an end result or an ultimate goal in mind – becomes the norm, and while I’m not arrogant enough to claim that the stress of activity becomes an addiction, even minor amounts of inactivity are agonizing.

 

A four month intellectual alienation is an all-consuming, harrowing, almost torturous test of sanity.

 

For a final comparison, the average Ontario work year provides approximately three to six weeks of paid vacation, with certain civic holidays providing additional time off. Certain Christian holy days also produce time off, with Christmas and Easter being two notable dates. Though the average work day is from 9-5 for full time wages, the Ontario government requires a mandatory 48 hours of work a week, with everything else being regarded as overtime. Those who work more than the government mandated 48 hours – for whatever reason – do so to accomplish certain goals and make sacrifices to achieve them.

 

Compared to the average student, even the least productive worker is an unabashed workaholic.

 

I suppose the truth is that the experience is universal, and it transcends all individuals who take pride in work, in action, and in doing. The mere act of not doing or not working, the mere notion of not accomplishing a task – regardless of how simple it may be – is daunting and, quite simply, mind numbing. The term workaholic is a colloquial concept and refers to someone who is enamored in their work; one’s life revolves around their work, and the term hints at the numerous personal sacrifices one has to make in order to accomplish their goals.

 

Perhaps it’s merely a colloquial paradigm, or perhaps it’s a human need to do better, to create more, to accomplish greater things. Perhaps the idea is something far more simple than the human need to advance; perhaps boredom and intellectual ennui are so harrowing, that the mere thought of inactivity is terrifying enough to elicit action. I can’t be so bold as to state that I know how people can stand to throw their time away by doing nothing and remaining complacent, but I do know that the urgency produced by complacency is often enough motivation for action.

 

The issue then becomes finding something to fill one’s time. In an understandable twist of events, I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to determine whether the colloquialism is meant to be an insult or a great compliment.

 

Though I’m lucky this summer; I actually have something to do.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

Superman; If Only We Could Be so Human

Date: April 28th, 2012

TheByteDaily

Superman; If Only We Could Be so Human

 

I have always bared a heavy bias towards the Dark Knight. In what can only be described as the most pervasive form of artistic negligence, I entered the Batman v. Superman case having already decided that my allegiances lay against the Last Son of Krypton. Considering this is a mere extension of the decades old fan-debate over who is better than whom, it’s understandable that I didn’t place great penalty on the infraction; I’m a bigger fan of Batman than I am of Superman, I think that Batman is a better hero than Superman, and that really is the end of that.

 

Regardless, having read more stories that feature the big blue boyscout, I’ve come to the disastrous conclusion that I was, ultimately, wrong about Superman. My original article about the debate, for anyone who wants a fair understanding of what makes Batman a remarkable example of human fortitude and perseverance.

 

However, I was wrong about Superman, which is why I feel the need to approach the subject yet again, with a more equivocal and understanding view of the immigrant from the stars who taught us all how to be heroes.

 

It’s helpful that a superhero’s name is a how-to guide to understanding what makes them so special (The Flash being a disappointing example of the evolution of language, and his name notwithstanding), because Superman’s identity is entirely encapsulated in his nom de plume. To avoid the redundancy that I’m sure will arise from this article, Superman will hitherto be referred to by one of his numerous noms populaires. Kal-El’s entire existence can be summed up in his chosen hero name; simply put, he is a super man. Certainly, it helps that his kryptonian physiology becomes supercharged once it is in the presence of a yellow sun, which makes him a living solar battery capable of storing an unlimited amount of varying forms of solar radiation, but beyond the powers that grant him the ability to be more than human, he is simply nothing more than a super man.

 

Before writing this article, I considered what this could mean – I attempted to distinguish traits that result in an individual being more than human, and I found that I almost immediately drew a blank. Continuing my original train of thought, I decided to ignore the greater-than-human-traits, and simply focus on the great human traits. I happen to bare a strong genetic bias towards my own species, and though the human population does not possess the greatest list of genetic advantages, it’s undeniable that we seem to possess an astounding ability to propagate and survive. A further obstacle arose when I was forced to admit that the many great human qualities are only labeled because humans themselves have been in possession of the Dymo.

 

Compassion, a desire to help family, generosity, hope, and benevolence are biological necessities, and deeming certain traits “Great” simply because humans found a good word to describe various acts of charity is not only arrogant, but also immature and pedantic.

 

Perhaps it is in this way that Clark Kent encompasses the best of humanity’s many qualities. Beyond the physical feats that he can accomplish, beyond the ability to understand the cosmos on an infinitesimal level, and beyond the philosophy that he basks in, Superman allows us to question ourselves and to examine our own existences in self-reflection. An insightful TED talk compared the Superman character to the messianic one of Jesus, craftily drawing parallels between God sending Jesus to Earth as humanity’s savior, and Jor-El sending his son Kal-El in a desperate attempt to make meaning of his son’s life. Both sons not knowing of their true destinies, but both facing very human struggles to aspire beyond the greatness that their fates would have of them.

 

Superman is not a god.

 

He is merely a man – perhaps not a human, but a man nonetheless – who aspired to be more than himself. What makes the man super is not his ability to be great, but his desire to be a defender of the ideals that make humanity and the planet, more than just simple cosmic existences floating in a dark and deeply misunderstood universe. What’s interesting is that Superman’s greatest adversary has always been Lex Luthor – a very human man with abilities and skills equivalent to the highest echelons of our evolution. The alien’s greatest adversary has always been a terrestrial trying to prove to all of his peers that in the face of the divine, we are all capable of approaching divinity.

 

The skills we are born with do not necessitate the people we become.

 

A human, trying to prove to his fellow humans, that we do not need to be born special to become special. A human standing in the face of what can only be perceived as a god, trying and succeeding in proving his equality, Lex Luthor – though a glorious caricature of humanity’s greatest misgivings – proves that though all creatures are not born equal, but despite our handicaps, we are all capable of achieving greatness. The implications of this analysis being that the Man of Steel is not a super man because of his skills, but because he strives to be greater than his post.

 

I was wrong about Superman.

 

I always assumed he was an omnipotent blue boyscout. It turns out Superman is more human the any member of the species, and simply does what everyone dreams of doing: Being more than who he was born to be.

 

As always, this has been you Admin, the not so Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

The Man with the Iron Fists (TheByteScene Review)

Date: April 20th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

The Man with the Iron Fists

 

3 Golden-Lions out of 4

 

I’m sure there’s a school-of-thought that believes that period pieces should be shot as homages to the past, highlighting how far society has advanced, and how much the overall human collective has achieved in the present, all while using the past as a pedestal for the future. As for Quentin Tarantino and company – the group of filmmakers who have studied under and worked with the cinematic trigger finger – it seems that the way to create an homage is by reducing an entire genre to the sum of its parts and mercilessly showcasing their love for it in a brutal display of cinematic sensationalism.

 

RZA purportedly spent 30 days taking notes and watching Tarantino work during the shooting of the latter’s Kill Bill films, and it’s evident that the Wu-Tang Clansmen has matured into master from pupil.

 

The Man with the Iron Fists is in no way an homage to the martial arts genre as much as it is  an ode to the micro-epics that served as the backbone for the Western definition of kung-fu. The film is bursting with ancient Eastern philosophy, wise mystics, remarkably choreographed fight-scenes, cheesy, baudy characters, and almost every cliche the genre is known for, barring the poorly dubbed voices. If it weren’t for the paper-thin story that doesn’t actually tackle the main plot until almost halfway through the film’s runtime, this would be the greatest ode to kung-fu action cinema ever, and would actually deserve to be considered one of the greatest kung-fu films of all time.

 

It’s clear from the film’s opening credits that those involved in the production’s creation show a deep respect, fondness, and affinity for the martial arts genre, and the kung-fu action cinema subgenre specifically. RZA’s directorial debut is outstanding, and while the writing is profoundly weak on near-spiritual levels, the film is a masterpiece in almost every other way. The editing is tight, the cinematography is crisp and gorgeous, the music is superb, and the fight-scenes are so beautifully choreographed that the extras might as well be credited as backup dancers.

 

RZA’s vision is that of Jungle Village, a shanty war-torn town ravaged by power-hungry clans. The execution of leader of the ruling Lion Clan, Gold Lion, by the conniving, yet oddly camp Silver Lion acts as the spark that sets off Jungle VIllage’s proverbial powder keg, forcing Gold Lion’s son Zen-Yi to leave his fiance, return to the village, and reclaim the lost honor of his family and his clan. Given the plot in context of the genre, it all makes perfect sense. Add some of the Emperor’s gold, Russel Crowe as a British consul, RZA as a talented Blacksmith, Lucy Liu as the head of the Pink Blossom brothel, and David Bautista as a mercenary named Brass Body into the mix, and the stage is set for an explosion of francium-based proportions.

 

Despite the wide-range of acting (and musical) talent on display, the film suffers from extremely slow moments of exposition that neither provide, nor take away, to the film in any significant way. Not to mention, the film’s arguable main character divulges a relatively weak story – never boring mind, but often weak. Hoping to escape the darkness of Jungle Village, the blacksmith is in love with a prostitute in the Pink Blossom. One would be excused for expecting a twist, a knife-in-the-back, or a betrayal, but sadly the romance never amounts to anything more than screentime for the two lovers.

 

The film’s soundtrack serves as a strong highlight, and features an eclectic mix between traditional Eastern influence, Hip-Hop, and Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure. The movie is directed by RZA after all. What’s interesting is how well the tracks are edited together and incorporated into the film’s main score; it was rare for the film to mindlessly throw in a track from the soundtrack and risk ruining RZA’s and Howard Dossin’s own score.

 

Writing yet again, is weak. Disappointingly so, especially since this is an otherwise strong film that is even more important because it serves as an example of an action-flick that is worth watching specifically for the action. The Man with the Iron Fists is a rare film whose action is art, and whose director understands the genre and chooses to embrace every aspect of it.

 

Watching The Man with the Iron Fists, I’ve come to believe that the only way to shoot an homage is by mercilessly brutalizing the genre into submission, showing off everything that made an audience fall in love with it, and everything that made critics lampoon and deride it into arbitrary defection. RZA has made more than a homage to the kung-fu action cinema subgenre, and has, instead, created a singularity designed to appeal to fans specifically, and everyone else who stayed past the hilariously cheesy opening credits. Under almost every circumstance, the film is a masterpiece.

 

Almost.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the slightly-Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

Remakes, Reimaginings, Reboots, and Adaptations; A Discussion About Stuff by A Fan of Stuff

Date: April 17th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

Remakes, Reimaginings, Reboots, and Adaptations; A Discussion About Stuff by A Fan of Stuff

 

When I first learned of Starkid Production’s A Very Potter Musical, well before I even had the opportunity to watch the show, I was skeptical about the direction the community-theatre-company would be taking regarding the decision they were making. I was concerned that the musical was intended to cash in on a blockbuster franchise, and I was incredibly concerned that the musical aspect of the production would be akin to a shark-jumping moment for the franchise. More importantly, I was worried that the team would attempt to take the already existing Harry Potter plot-line and simply recreate the movies with a theatrical style and musical flair.

 

In retrospect, I don’t know what elements I was concerning myself with since the aforementioned production details sound amazing and hilariously entertaining, though I do digress. Well, that and the fact that Starkid Productions used almost every piece of the Harry Potter universe – including the fan-universe – and created three productions totalling almost ten-hours for one of the best fanmade musicals I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

 

I digress, however.

 

What I mean to say is that, when I first heard about the musical, my inner fan exploded in spectacular fashion to warn me about a reimagining of a personal favourite franchise. I cannot stress enough how little I knew about the show, or how little I knew that Starkid would create something funny, endearing, emotional, enormously entertaining, and specifically for the fans of the Harry Potter universe.

 

Frankly, however, It’s an unsurprising reaction to the news of a remake, reboot, sequel, or reimagining, and I’ve noticed that I, and many other proclaimed critics of the human condition, become more and more critically cynical of the news regarding adaptations as more and more adaptations fail in ways that rival the Hindenburg or the Titanic – hubris notwithstanding.

 

I looked forward to the live-action adaptation of Avatar the Last Airbender, I looked past the fact that M. Night Shyamalan would be directing it, and I even let go of the disappointment I experienced at the casting choices, only to be reminded of all the film’s failings when I watched it in theatres. I was excited for the live-action adaptation of the Green Lantern character and even thought that this marked the beginning of a potential Justice League spinoff. As more details entered my field-of-view, I became excited for the casting of Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong, I marveled at the set-pieces being shown off in marketing stills, and I even thought that the actual costume looked pretty cool, only to be marvelously crushed once I saw the shoddy, poorly written, and ultimately boring finished product.

 

Of course, for every Green Lantern there’s a trilogy of amazing Batman films directed and written by individuals who actually understand the character and the mythos. For every Transformers and Battleship there’s an enjoyable adaptation of Clue, and for every G.I. Joe: Retaliation, there’s a G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. For every odd-numbered Star Trek failure, there’s an even numbered (and ninth) success that provide reasons to be excited at the prospect of a popular franchise adaptation.

 

My point is that for every failed adaptation, there’s another that makes it worthwhile being a fan – I’d list examples, but that would be redundant. For every ten adaptive failures, there are two or three subsequent successes that raise the spirits and give hope to fans and filmgoers alike. However, because of the high frequency of failed adaptations, marketing buzz that amounts to nothing, and amazing trailers that mask remarkably stunning failures in plot, character development, special effects, casting, and direction, my reaction to the news of a sequel, remake, reboot, reimagining, or adaptation has become cringe-inducing cynicism.

 

I once again find myself facing this same cynicism in the wake of the new Superman film that was announced around 2009, and that was first trailered in 2012 alongside the theatrical release of The Dark Knight Rises. Yesterday, April 16th 2013, marked the release of Man of Steel’s third trailer and my excitement has once again been elevated.

 

As a fan of the Superman comic books, however, I know that I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

 

Almost every film starring the eponymous man of steel since Superman III has been an unmitigated disaster, and though the animated character has barely suffered (with the comics, and DC animated universe not faltering in quality), any hope for a decent Superman movie went out the window with 2006’s Superman Returns.

 

I won’t get into what made these films bad, and I won’t discuss my personal gripe with the films because I’m forced to admit that Man of Steel’s trailer shows a marked improvement. Despite the data to suggest otherwise, I do believe that the Zac-Snyder-and-Christopher-Nolan helmed film has the potential to please both Superman’s fans, and the palates of most film-goers. This, however, is a belief firmly rooted in the trailers I have seen so far, and the information gathered from interviews, inside sources, executives, producers, and the actors themselves (not to mention the film’s Wikipedia page).

 

My ultimate point, however, has little to do with either Harry Potter or Superman, and has everything to do with my reaction as a fan of an independent property.

 

Instead of being excited by the prospect of another medium creating a story out of something I’m a fan of, I’m immediately cynical about the direction an individual is going to take with the topic. This is fascinatingly nonsensical, because most of my favourite stories – my favourite independent properties – have had life breathed into them by people in no way affiliated with the original creators.

 

It’s almost as if, when it comes to movies, my inner fan rises to the defence of the property, but when it comes to Mark Millar raising Superman in the former Soviet Union, Grant Morrison making Superman an All-Star, or even Frank Miller having Superman fight Batman because the latter has become a threat to the freedom and independence of America in The Dark Knight Returns I’m perfectly fine being at the mercy of the writers, artists, editors, and publishers at DC Comics. It’s almost as if, when it comes to anything other than their original medium, I, and a large population of the fanbase, forget that characters are just that – characters created for the not-so-simple purpose of being part of stories.

 

Stories that, if written well, are interesting and entertaining enough to warrant creation. Stories that, fortunately, are intended to insure that independent properties remain interesting. Stories that, ultimately, are meant to appeal to both fans, and newcomers.

 

Perhaps therein lies the issue; perhaps I’m not upset about a remake or a reboot, or even that my so-called “Rights as a fan” are being tread upon. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that a character or story that I find entertaining, interesting, and worth examining, can potentially end up being ruined in an exaggerated, but still personally hurtful manner. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that characters aren’t being utilized to their full extent, as much as it’s us feeling that our heroes – the characters, and the universes they inhabit, that we recognize – no longer belong to us.

 

I don’t completely understand why I become cynical when I hear about the potential Justice League movie, or the new Star Wars trilogy, especially when I look forward to the new additions to both universes – Star Wars, DC, Harry Potter, or otherwise. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would raise a fuss about a single poor portrayal in a different medium when there are hundreds of bad examples within the original medium to begin with.

 

What I do know, however, is how it feels finding out that our heroes aren’t the same as everyone else’s and, most importantly, how it feels knowing that our heroes are not, were not, and never will be ours alone.

 

Perhaps, quite simply, it’s a mere reimagining of the classic schoolyard debate of whose hero is better than whose, and who cares more about whom.

 

Which breathes a new, expansive layer of irony into this entire article.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the not-so Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

Pick A Side, Maintain Your Convictions, Put Up a Good Fight, and, Above All Else, Admit Defeat; The Importance of Not Taking Things Too Seriously, With Help from the Anonymity of the Internet

At the heart of every non-confrontational form of communication lies the ever present concept of anonymity. Certain emotions may seem obvious to convey, regardless of the medium, but the fact remains that, even when conversations happen with both parties directly speaking to one another, and every aspect of their language is made clear, details can still be misconstrued. It’s how comedians manage to make so many jokes about men and women, their differences, and the explosive danger of not listening to one’s significant other, and it’s how politicians manage to make even the most basic greetings devolve into an all out media war.

Despite this truth, however, it goes without saying that anonymity allows many otherwise “Quiet” individuals to speak out, and speak up, about topics that they might not be able to discuss if their identity were made public. At the same time, this unknown quality also allows many to take advantage of the security of their true identity by acting out, and against, those around them; the colloquial “No one knows if you’re a dog on the internet” metaphor can be extended further, with many, otherwise silent individuals accepting a new persona with their “Bark” and “Bite” gaining equal intensity.

I use the term persona, because anonymity allows us the advantage of being whomever we choose to be, whether these identities support Obama, Harper, Chavez, Jehovah, Zenu, Racial Insensitivity or Racial Equality, and the internet, as the most prevalent form of non-confrontational communication continues to grow due to the power of anonymity, for better or worse. Of course, I use the term non-confrontational in much the same way that a pacifist who engages in verbal arguments defines their position on physical violence; certainly, the internet fosters, and seems to feed on, confrontation, but the truth is that, excluding certain exceptional cases, we rarely see our online opponents in the so-called “Real World.”

In many ways, this is a positive aspect, since much of what is said online is done as a form of absurd extremism to cultivate attention to an issue that the commentator feels is important and worthy of such attention. Though, in other ways, this also means that a significant amount of what is said online bears little value or meaning to those who said it, and to those who it was said to. Even worse, this also means that, to a select few people, topics that seem otherwise important, become nothing more than meaningless drivel spouted as a means to an end.

However, I digress since anonymity has little to do with the overall thesis of this article, instead my issue lies with conviction and maintaining these convictions. In essence, my overall point is relatively straightforward: pick a side, find arguments that support your beliefs, produce these arguments in a manner that doesn’t involve insulting your opponent, and accept that, if your opponent produces better arguments that seem more logical and more acceptable than yours, you might have been wrong anyway. It’s not a matter of arguing against a fundamentalist about the creation of the universe, or arguing with an animal activist about the aspects of the economy that would suffer if animals were given equal rights as humans, or even discussing the possibility of Hamlet hallucinating his entire ordeal – it’s a matter of picking a side, believing in that decision, and standing by that decision until such a time that a singularity occurs that changes one’s mind.

I do recognize my literary redundancy (after all, I’ve already written two articles on giving up – one that’s all for it, and one that’s against it), but it’s a matter of enough importance that it warrants further incidence. This nihilistic belief that it’s pointless to argue for fear of validating the argument’s topic is elementary and against the very nature of opinion – specifically, that any one individual is allowed, and often encouraged, to have an idea or thought that is contrary to another.

Furthermore, the opinion that both sides can coexist is far more insulting than mediating. The arbitrator that believes both sides of an argument can happily coexist insults both sides equally, especially when both parties have dedicated their minds to an opinion that they feel comfortable with (assuming that they aren’t arguing for the sake of arguing, and that they genuinely believe in the side they have positioned themselves on).

Once again, I recognize that history repeatedly shows that two conflicting sides will almost definitely prove to be incapable of maintaining a non-violent approach to conflicting opinions, which is why mediation and arbitration is more than necessary when dealing with large-scale conflict that escalates far beyond the control of the original parties. Moving forward, I also recognize that it’s even more difficult for a party to accept that they’re wrong in a matter, and my opinions on fanaticism remain stagnant (it’s a troublesome byproduct of maintaining a single point-of-view on an opinionated duality), which is why the most important aspect of picking a side is accepting that possibility that one might be wrong in their decision.

Granted, when discussing topics that can neither be proven or disproved, it’s best to maintain a proverbial “Open mind.” Ultimately, however, this is a trivial point since, given the lack of violent escalation, and given that there isn’t an absolute right or wrong, an argument can continue indefinitely, so long as both parties firmly maintain their convictions. That’s really all it comes down to. Well, that and not believing in something strongly enough to become violent.

After all, not everything needs to be taken so seriously.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Hollywood’s Adaptations; Starring Slighted Expectations, and Introducing (for neither the first, nor the final time) Disappointed Audiences

Hollywood’s run out of ideas; Battleship, a movie based on the popular Hasbro board game, was released on May 18th, 2012 (in the United States and Canada, rather) to almost universally abysmal reviews. Though some have offered the opinion that the critical failure of the Transformers series helped produce a slightly better film, the movie, based on a game played with two grids hidden from each other while players call out “Coordinates” to sink the eponymous battleships of their enemies, has been a relative flop. Granted, not in the box office, because it’s already broken its budget and will presumably do so for the coming weeks, though this is a minor and almost trivial point because I can’t go without mentioning that these days almost every big budget summer action flick is breaking its budget; Transformer: Dark of the Moon, for example (my deliciously scathing review) also broke its budget and I can safely say it was one of the worst movies ever created.

Back to the point at hand: Hollywood has almost definitely run out of ideas.

Adaptation after prequel after sequel after reboot after re-imagining, it feels like all Hollywood has been capable of doing for the past few years is releasing films based on already existing independent properties including old television shows (Star Trek, 21 Jump Street, Dark Shadows, Transformers), books (any Nicholas Sparks book, the entire Harry Potter series, any comic book that’s published by DC or Marvel and its subsidiaries), board games (this one is fairly recent, though I am excited to see what happens with this idea; Clue was a film worth seeing, though the game is far more complex than the average family affair), “true stories” that are often wholly fabricated to create better characters and a more enjoyable story (Hollywood loves true stories, and this is a fact), and old movies (I’m not even going to bother giving an example for this one; it should be fairly obvious to everyone involved).

The point, I suppose, is that Hollywood’s few original ideas are rarely so, and even the films that happen to win the most awards at festivals, and ceremonies are often based on recycled ideas. Granted, there’s a point where an idea exceeds its original purpose and transcends its being; to filmmakers, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are no longer wars, but symbols of generational change and evolution, social acclimatization, and cultural purification. Many films have even attempted to provide a human facades to the “Most evil men who have ever lived.”

It goes without mentioning that tropes, cliche’, parodies, and homages exist because the original source material is a fantastic source to derive from; the Greeks, Romans, Ancient Babylonians, and Italians created the world’s finest works of art that still manage to provide stories for writers to learn and create from. Of course, the English language’s greatest contributor died over 400 years ago and, to this day, the title hasn’t been taken from William Shakespeare, or given to someone else. The irony is that even his plays weren’t original ideas and most of his work was directly taken from Italian operas, Hungarian and Swedish dramas, Norse tragedies, Greek and Roman history, and a fabricated version of British history.

It’s a great bit of irony that the most important contributor to the English language (and literature as a whole) created fantastic stories from earlier works that had already been published; Shakespeare was little more than a thief with a gift for fabrication. An important point to note is that it’s rare for any individual to claim that Shakespeare stole his work; quite the contrary, Shakespeare, much like Hollywood writers today, used sources of literature to draw inspiration from. The sole difference being that, when Shakespeare wrote The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark based on the Scandinavian legend of Prince Amleth, he didn’t end up writing something as derisively awful as Battleship or (ironically enough) Charlton Heston’s 1970 adaptation of the original 1950 version of Julius Caesar.

For a moment, allow me to make my point incredibly clear: Shakespeare drew inspiration from other works and while some might argue that he “Stole,” it’s almost impossible to argue that he ruined any of the other works for future viewers. Shakespeare’s Hamlet didn’t ruin the legend of Prince Amleth, and his version of King Henry (though slightly inaccurate) did not tarnish the King’s name. Hollywood, on the other, has a tendency of making films that sully the name of the original source material; the 1970 version of Julius Caesar, Dark Shadows, Wanted, and Daredevil being fantastic examples.

It’s interesting that, even the worst film based on a rather interesting Independent Property has some level of interactivity between the original producers and the film’s writing staff. Some films, for example, are based on books that were published and aided by the film’s producers to make sure that a movie is as close to the original source material to insure that fans of the books enjoy the film and that the fans of the movie will enjoy the books and contribute to the original author’s welfare.

Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather, was aided by several members of Paramount Pictures’ writing staff tasked with the sole purpose of creating a fantastic book to be adapted to the silver screen. Fascinatingly, Puzo actually wrote the script for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, and provided input for the subsequent second and third parts.

In an event similar to The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick is based on a book by Arthur C. Clarke in the most literal sense; Clarke was writing the book as Kubrick was directing his film. The two were actually working together, creating a property based on a few of Clarke’s short stories with a greater plot being agreed upon by the two artists; the differences in canonical endings occurred due to their differing opinions on how they wanted their properties to proceed. Of course, these films are not terrible films, and interestingly, have been called some of the greatest films of all time by critics, moviegoers, cinephiles, and regular audience members.

Granted, there’s only so much an adaptation can do and if its based on source material that’s less than satisfactory (Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight is a remarkable example), it’s unsurprising if the film is also less than satisfactory (the The Twilight Saga is also a remarkable example). Of course, it’s undeniable that there are films that are based on fantastic sources that are also terrible, and its not uncommon for fans to claim that the movie didn’t work with the momentum of the original source.

While I wasn’t a particular fan of the Olympian Demigod series, the film doing poorly while based on solid source material was disappointing to many viewers; it wasn’t entirely surprising since the film was marketed to the same audience that enjoyed the magical school aspects of the Harry Potter franchise while the majority of the Olympian plot was less intricate than the film’s competition, but the disappointment was there regardless.

At this point, I must mention that Hollywood films based on preexisting properties are marketed to the audiences that enjoyed the aforementioned properties the most; comic book fans aren’t going to have the latest Nicholas Sparks novel sold to them, and fans of art house films aren’t going to have any of Michael Bay’s box office masterpieces marketed to them. The Avengers wasn’t marketed to the same audience that enjoyed Dear John or even The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but instead, to the audience that enjoyed Iron Man, Thor, The Incredibly Hulk, The Dark Knight, and other comic book movies. Had the film turned out to be terrible, fans of the original material would have more than enough right to raise complaint since a major promise was effectively broken.

I suppose therein lies a stunning detail: when a Hollywood adaptation promises something, and delivers something else, audiences have a right to raise complaint. Ultimately, when any Hollywood film promises something, and delivers something else (poorly, of course), any audience has the right to complain. It’s not that I went into Transformers: Dark of the Moon expecting anything other than what the film delivered; it’s that the Michael Bay feature delivered something so gratuitously awful, that I couldn’t help myself from raising my voice in annoyance and derision. Certainly, I’ve went into adaptations expecting a certain premise and being given something wildly contradictory and only I’ve enjoyed those films because they managed to do their job well; they were entertaining and interesting, and I was interested and entertained.

In essence, that’s the most important point; it’s not that Hollywood’s out of ideas (because it actually had very few ideas to begin with), it’s that Hollywood has somehow reached a point where pandering to the lowest common denominator has become the most acceptable point-of-view, and writing, special effects, acting, directing, editing, sound production, and genuinely entertaining qualities have been replaced with drivel. Not always, but often enough that it warrants opinion.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Scott Pilgrim (TheByteScene Review)

A-loonie-a-toonie-a-quarter-a-nickle-and-two-dimes out of 4 ($3.50/$4.00)

Is there really anything I can say about Brian Lee O’Malley’s six volume saga of a boy trying to win the love of a girl by defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends that hasn’t already been said? Sorry, I mean her seven evil ex’s, because Ramona Flowers had a sexy phase during her time at the University of Carolina in the Sky with a half ninja. Did that last sentence make any sense whatsoever? Did that last sentence sound absolutely awesome? Did that last sentence intrigue every single part of you for no adequately explicable reason? Frankly, whether it did makes no difference to me because I must, under every conceivable circumstance, state that I love the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels.

Certainly, every volume is crafted with fans in mind; comic book fans, video games fans, Nintendo fans, Sega fans, Sony fans, fans of Sonic and Mario, fans of Zelda and Double Dragon, fans of Mother and or Earthbound (as the distinction was made in the NTSC region), fans of everything and anything that effectively shows up at the San Diego Comic Con are Scott Pilgrim’s target audience. No, seriously, whatever “Geek and Nerd Culture” might be, whatever the current sociological definition of the term is, and whatever images the words “Geek” and “Nerd” conjure are all part of the Scott Pilgrim universe, and the series is, in a word, awesome because of it.

There’s a plot, yes, an overarching story that involves the titular Scott Pilgrim falling head over heels in love with Ramona Flowers attempting to defeat her Seven Evil Ex’s in order for them to be together; a rogue gallery consisting of seven of the worst, most despicably evil, revolting, astounding, fascinating, damaged, and heartbroken characters that could possibly exist outside of a video game (or a soap opera, really) stand between him, and true love. To be quite frank, they start dating immediately, and it seems that the Seven Evil Ex’s pose no real hindrance to the relationship, the second even making it a point of being fairly amiable to the Pilgrim-Flowers coupling.

In reality, the Seven Evil Ex’s act as the final bosses for each novel; they must be defeated by Scott once he advances in his personal, romantic, and professional lives. It sounds a lot like a video game for the simple reason that the series of novels is a video game. Characters are given video game like descriptions once they are introduced, with ratings, fun facts, and various other bits of trivia scattered on a black title card that appears when they do (O’Malley even makes a habit of updating the title cards every few chapters, as if to say that the characters have levelled up as much as Scott has), the main character has special attacks, earns weapon rewards, experience (both literal and figurative), and even money (in the form of Canadian currency, no less), his enemies all have special attacks and major weaknesses, there are bars for almost every conceivable human function, one ups are rewarded for certain victories, and the overarching plot involves the defeat of a league of evil beings.

The series is a video game, certainly, but it also invokes every trope that exists within the manga universe, and O’Malley does a brilliant job of writing everything in a deadpan sense of style. No joke ever goes too far, and almost nothing blatantly out of place seems to faze the cast. Scott Pilgrim is the number one fighter in Ontario, for the simple reason that he needs a cool sounding title, and the character who utters this line doesn’t seem at all baffled by the existence of such a designation.

Interestingly, buried beneath the infantile surface is a surprisingly deep coming of age story, that manages to combine wit, humour, and romance in an incredibly mature way. Reading through the novel, without understanding the not-at-all-scattered references reveals a story of a boy who feels very strongly for a girl who both have yet to understand what they want. Scott Pilgrim is in a band with his close friends from university, but they don’t really go very far. They get a few gigs here and there because of Stephen Stills (the talent), but apart from that, everyone except for Scott seems to have a relative amount of niche in their lives. Scott lives with his awesome gay roommate, Wallace Wells, but the apartment (and everything in it) belongs to Wells. Scott briefly dates a high-schooler, and explains to his sister that he’ll inform her once he’s got it figured out. This appears as a theme throughout the series; characters, beneath their cartoonish designs, have real problems that they need to get past, with the main couple being the two with the most issues.

In a strange way, Scott represents everything a hero shouldn’t; he’s weak, naive, whiny, selfish, scared, incredibly dim witted, easily susceptible to outside forces, has no idea what he wants, and effectively relies on those around him far more than he ever relies on himself. Oddly enough, Brian Lee O’Malley makes it a habit to point out these flaws in an endearing way; yes, Scott Pilgrim is, for all intents and purposes, just as bad as most of the other Evil Ex boyfriends, and he has an innate ability to make his girlfriends turn against him (or in certain cases, stalk him and his friends wherever they go), but as far as characters go, he really is one of the noblest. He’s idealistic, deeply romantic, friendly, kind-hearted, and fascinatingly intelligent in the simplest of ways.

Discussing the sixth novel when it was released, a friend of mine brought it to my attention that we’re not really cheering for Scott to succeed in defeating the Seven Evil Ex’s, so much as we’re cheering for him to get his life together. Each boss battle, and each step forward represents a personal growth for the boy. Each step forward represents a new understanding of the world around him, and while he is 23 years old during the start of the series, he doesn’t really start acting his age until book four. Scott’s character is the best part of the entire series, with his experiences and growth affecting the reader in a profound way; he effectively speaks and lives as the conduit of an entire generation of nerds, fanboys, and geeks with an infinite knowledge of things that hold little ground in the so-called “Real world.” He dumps a girl, finds another one, and then tells his friends that he’s learned the bass line to Final Fantasy II. Seriously, they’re the only ones that point out how horrifyingly cruel and unnecessarily hurtful his actions are, and he’s the one playing a Final Fantasy II tune on his bass.

I must make it a point to discuss Brian Lee O’Malley’s simplistic art style. The series begins with a realistic super deformed feel, with characters having accurate features combined with cartoon-esque proportions. At first it seems a bit out of place, but O’Malley’s style quickly grows on the reader, and by the fourth or fifth page of the first novel, the style seems intrinsic to the plot; absolutely, I can say that O’Malley’s style seems to evolve as Scott Pilgrim does. Whether this occurs on purpose or not is trivial as O’Malley’s story is backed up by his art, and his art helps create a fascinatingly interwoven tale of loss, heartbreak, adaptation, evolution, and acceptance.

That seems to be the main point of Scott’s entire journey: growing up and facing the world as an adult, even if it means having to take down your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend using Ichigo Kurosaki’s Zangetsu.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

The Genius and The Hard Worker; How to Gauge Intelligence and Why One Isn’t as “Smart” as They Think They are, With Help From the Good Will Hunting

Starring Matt Damon in the titular role, Good Will Hunting tells the story of a Bostonian mathematical genius working as a full time janitor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The premise is quite fascinating, and though it was originally penned as a thriller by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who also co-stars as Hunting’s best friend Chuckie), the studio financing the film managed to convince the two budding writers/actors/directors/Hollywood megastars to accept the changes to their original script, and create a story about a genius who, due to a brutal childhood spent between homes, decides to ignore his intellect and pursue a life of mental nihilism.

A poignant scene has Damon reveal that his life’s goal is to stay in the neighbourhood he shares with his intellectually-lacking friend, grow up and most likely have kids, whom he plans on taking to baseball games, effectively spending his future eroding himself of any purpose for both himself, and his brain. The details of the scene are trivial, since the main point of it all is to have Chuckie threaten Hunting’s life to insure that the latter makes the right choice, and pursue a meaningful application to his intellect, and a romance that had recently failed. Chuckie puts the situation into perspective by revealing that each morning he drives up to Will’s home, he hopes that Hunting will have left the neighbourhood. Strong emphasis is put on Chuckie’s hope that Hunting won’t even announce his departure.

The film spends a lot of time exploring the psychological scars parenting, or a lack thereof, can leave on an individual, and the majority of the film’s run time is spent exploring the family Will forms with a fellow genius (but unequally gifted) mathematics professor (played by Stellan Skarsgard) and a community college psychology professor, played by Robin Williams, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Hunting, and experienced almost identical emotional trauma in order to protect his mother and sister. Interestingly, I noticed that not very much time is spent on the fact that given the similar circumstances, Williams’ character had the possibility of becoming like Hunting, though this is a minor detail that does little to take away from the entire plot.

The two father figures are juxtaposed, with the mathematics professor pushing the boy into making the right decision to further his education and revolutionize almost all fields of mathematics, and the psychology professor aiming to neutralize the pain Hunting feels. Both parties are aware of Hunting’s intellect, and both feel the importance of having it expanded and utilized, because both are aware of the importance of having such a natural gift.

It is essential to understand that an intellect like Will Hunting’s does not merely exist in popular culture. While the “Genius-level intellect” trope is repeatedly played, with varying degrees of effectiveness, in movies and television (in addition to being featured in almost every manga, or comic book), it’s existence is not restrained to these mediums. It must be understood that, yes, geniuses exist, and, yes, their potential to expand the recesses of human understanding is awe-inspiring. That being said, determining true genius in the real world is entirely dependent on their subject of interest. An artistic genius might not have the same abilities with mathematics, and their understanding of string theory could be nonexistent. The same can be said for any scientific genius; just because one is capable of rationalizing super string theory, there is no rule stating that they must also be capable to constructing a sculpture, or composing a beautiful piece of music, or even putting ink to paper without completely eviscerating the brush.

Therefore, despite the truth that geniuses exist, the question always becomes, how does one gauge and determine intelligence? Disregarding subjective genius entirely, how does one gauge the intelligence of another person? To what degree can a person safely state that a person is dumb, or intellectually lacking?

I must immediately remove grades from the equation because, based on the current educational model that is used in most Canadian elementary, middles, and secondary schools, grades are not an efficient indication of intelligence, but merely an indication of work ethic. University is an almost different matter entirely, and grades can be used to gauge a person’s intelligence there; so it would seem until one realizes that even in university, work ethic carves the way to good grades. Certainly, in both cases, there will be exceptions – students who work incredibly hard to achieve nothing, and students who barely work and achieve everything.

Exceptions will always apply, though it can be said with a strong value of certainty that work ethic determines good grades and, therefore, grades do not determine how smart a person is.

Next, I must eliminate vocabulary indefinitely. Being verbose and eloquent, while intellectually sub-par certainly doesn’t guarantee an intelligent association. Merely being able to string together words and phrases is a sign of lingual capability, and though one might believe that acquiring a large verbal pallet is a sign of an almost higher echelon of thought, the truth is not always so. In summation, a big vocabulary does not mean a big intellect. I must also mention that speaking multiple languages can be considered a sign of intellect, with the only restriction being that a person must be able to speak these multiple languages fluently. They are allowed some mistakes here and there, as we are all allowed, but they must be capable of maintaining a conversation in these other languages that graduate to anything more than supplementary pleasantries.

I’m more than capable of enquiring into the details of a person’s day in Japanese, though I certainly wouldn’t be able to understand their response.

Grades and large vocabularies must be eliminated, in addition to supplementary lingual skills, though it can be said that being able to speak multiple languages fluently is a sign (but not a guarantee) of intelligence. Grades are actually meaningless outside of academia, so they definitely can’t be used as intellectual placeholders.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what makes a person smart or dumb, and when it comes to judging and gauging a person’s intelligence, I’m left flustered. As far as I can tell, there is only one real measure of a person’s intelligence; disregarding the schools they have attended, the honours they have been bestowed, the money they make, the car they drive, the house they own, the significant others they are associated with, and their parents, there is really only one real way to gauge a person’s intelligence, and it’s through the things they say.

Even then, the results are subjective, but, regardless of how “Smart,” a person might really be, if they’re incapable of maintaining a coherent conversation, that’s as smart as they will appear to you, their judge and jury.

Of course, there is one more, fairly reasonable, measure, and it’s what a person does. Good Will Hunting plays with this repeatedly, through the characters of Skylar (played relatively well by Minnie Driver), Professor Lambeau (Skarsgard’s character), and Will Hunting.

When compared to each other, they are wildly different; Professor Lambeau and Skylar both openly admit to being intellectually inferior to Will, though the audience is left to wonder who the smarter character is – the mathematical genius working as a janitor, the future med student who has difficulty grasping organic chemistry, or the mathematics professor who is repeatedly bested by a 20-year old, who has also won the mathematical equivalent to the Nobel Prize. The answer is obvious, because, when intellect is gauged, and compared to achievement, future achievement, and quality of life, Will Hunting is not the smartest character. In fact, he is one of the least intelligent characters in the film; he is repeatedly given opportunities to produce a positive outcome in his life, and he refuses them continuously. Certainly, I believe that this is the best gauge of a person’s intelligence – the outcomes they produce given their limitations.

The real gauge for intelligence is broken, and horribly skewed towards those with genuinely large intellects and, if used to gauge the majority of the world, would reveal that not everyone is as smart as they would hope. The real gauge for intelligence isn’t how “Smart” a person is, or how “Smart” other people think they are; the real gauge for intelligence is how far a person goes based on the limitations they have been “Burdened” with.

The genius drop-out will always be intellectually superior to the hard worker who needs to spend hours understanding their coursework but, despite what the former might say, the latter will be the “Smarter” of the two. The fact of the matter is that we are never as “Smart” as we believe, but we certainly aren’t as “Dumb” either.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK