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Returning to the Fold: MtG’s Global Planeswalker Series

24 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

In concept, Wizards of the Coast announced a terrific idea: to get “a team of Chinese artists, writers, and folklorists to explore a new branch of Magic lore rooted in Chinese aesthetics and mythology.”

They released two new Planeswalker decks a few days ago—Global Series: Jiang Yanggu & Mu Yanling—to appease a new (re)generation of players, like myself who is part of that demographic and heritage they want to appease. I love works inspired by ancient worlds. My return to playing this game is because of Amonkhet. When that phases out, I do not know if I will continue. I hear Modern tournaments are brutal, and I am not sure if I want to play in that arena.

This release is not meant for serious competition or Friday Night Magic tournament play. Not everyone will know this detail. It’s not written on the accompanying story card. From WotC’s own mouth: “After much discussion, we settled on something unusual: these cards would be legal for Standard play in mainland China events. They will also be legal in Vintage and Legacy everywhere. They will never be Modern legal, because once they rotate out of Standard, the reason they were Standard legal no longer applies…”

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How Can The Incredibles 2 Be Topped?

16 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert!

Brad Bird‘s The Incredibles is a perfect send-up to many a past superhero comic. Not only does it explore familial issues (the core of what this franchise is about) but also it continues to examine the public perception of what kind of purpose do these Supers serve. The subplots introduced in the first film get further analysis, and the resolutions are far from being complete.

This second chapter does not get too deep with the whole “Gods and Monsters” aspect which defines many a DC film. To stay light-hearted needed this filmmaker’s magic touch. PIXAR’s mantra focuses on matters of the heart and togetherness instead of the difficult choices heroes have to make: Is it possible to save everyone from harm?

In the first movie, Mr. Incredible aka Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) yearned for those bygone days of simply saving the day. He has an ego the size of his heart. To do good is tough, and he’s not out to showboat. He wants to protect the little guy, but not everyone agrees to his method. The public despises superheroes because they can potentially cause more harm than good (somebody has to clean up the mess they leave behind), and only a handful of folks support them. He gets recruited to do good deeds but little did he know the peoples involved have their own agenda. The sequel flips the situation around by having Elastigirl / Helen (Holly Hunter) getting the adventure and seeing Bob at home, dealing with raising a nuclear family. The plot is a retread and it works well enough to highlight reversed gender roles. Bob gets to clean the dishes at home and Molly gets to be Mrs. Fantastic.

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How to Train Your Dragon 3 Updates

6 Jun

how_to_train_your_dragon_3_posterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

While How to Train Your Dragon 3 is a year away from release, the past ten days have been exciting for fans keeping tabs on reveals. This work has been finished for some time, and it’s supposed to get a preview at Annecy International Animation Festival next week. A teaser trailer may well be released during or afterwards.

For now, the release of the poster shows Toothless meeting the female of the species, a Light Fury, and all hearts will be aflutter for this pairing. Adorable as she is, one big question many will ask is where has she been? The world is large enough for any serpentine species to find places to hide in, hence the title.

The reason is that the new villain, Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), has an agenda. He’s wiped out nearly all of the male of the species, and Toothless is next!

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Beyond Ready Player One. On Technology and the Music

5 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

The virtual reality (VR) interfaces we have today has not drastically changed in Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Futurists have to believe advancements in neural interfaces and holo projection will fill in the gap instead of advancements in the hardware used today. The former is vaguely suggested and the latter, none is even considered. This movie is not comparable to The Matrix or The Congress. Amusingly, a joke is made when nature calls. Unplugging is required.

Even in the future 30 years from now, folks are still wearing those darned headsets! I am having neural seizures since not everyone is going to have full command of their senses to believe the world they are jumping into is real. The IMAX 3D presentation hardly jumped; much of the visual treatment was flat. The music featured, however, was amazing and it spoke to me. Although for this glimpse into virtual reality, when my first exposure into this discourse is with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the bar is set high. This work is neither at Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell level of exploration, even though the story offers a fleeting tease of what could be.

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