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Valérian & the City of a 1000 Planets Flounders in Space

21 Jul

valerian-v-poster-full-highres

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

* Spoiler Alert

Luc Bresson is a filmmaker with a fantastic range of movies under his belt. He can craft incredible material, namely The Fifth Element, and provide quality children’s entertainment in Arthur and the Invisibles. I particularly enjoyed his adaptation of the comic book The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec to film but with Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets, something got lost in the translation. His latest film had an exciting start and was off to the races with its two prologues.

Sadly, it loses steam by the third act and I found myself not caring for the hero, Valérian (Dane DeHaan), saving the day. He has to prevent an alien race from going extinct and show to Laureline (Cara Delevingne) that he’s serious about pursuing a relationship with her. Val is a philanderer, and Laureline wants nothing to do with him. They are a meant to be a crime busting duo of time-agents who should implicitly trust each other much like how Mulder and Scully have to in The X-Files. The trust needs to be earned if she is to accept his proposition to marry. This early plot reveal could have defined the entire movie, but it gets ignored during massive set pieces which communicate a different story.

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[Victoria, BC] Gauntlet Games Impresses in Gordon Head!

15 Jul

gauntlet gamesBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

In the garden city of Victoria, British Columbia, Gauntlet Games is making an impact upon the gaming community living in the municipality of Saanich. Not only is the University of Victoria nearby for this operation to cater to students but also, lots of nearby residents find this place convenient to get to. When some folks do not want to travel into town or elsewhere to get their fix in Magic the Gathering (MtG) or Warhammer, this place is happening. It has been in operation for more than a month now.

In what I witnessed after successive visits is a very open and bright place to visit. In what I see during the evening hours are a dozen people, if not more, playing one type of game or another. Myself, I was here to try out a few role playing game systems I have not played before and tried my hand at playing MtG again. There’s only so much I can enjoy out of the electronic version (side note: the company is making a huge mistake by not completing the Amonkhet story in Magic Duels).

Brodie Cawdell is the manager of this operation. When he immediately saw that the area of Gordon Head did not have easy access to a game store, setting up shop was fortuitous. He got the best spot at University Heights Mall. People passing by can gaze through the large windows and see the fun going on inside. Some folks do not understand the gaming culture, and most of the staff and customers here can explain. They love to talk about the hobby and give tips when they realize that the visitor is new to the game (or rusty like me).

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Could War for the Planet of the Apes Be The End of the Saga?

13 Jul

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
*Spoiler Alert

No previous knowledge is required to get up to speed before War for the Planet of the Apes. This third and possibly final film of the trilogy recaps the essential bits of lore needed to show that life on Earth is bad not only for ape-kind but also the humans. The Simian virus has taken its toll on humanity and it’s an ongoing threat which is evolving before the survivor’s very eyes. Those who are still around have banded together in enclaves and think extermination is key to reclaiming their position in the animal hierarchy.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) is the leader and he just wants his tribe to be left alone. They are not at completely at fault for the calamity. However, there are soldiers who think otherwise. Colonel (Woody Harrelson) leads a nearby army faction thinking he can do what’s best. Unfortunately, his motives do not jibe with other groups, and he’s considered a renegade. After he killed the wrong apes in a midnight raid, these two leaders are going to face each other head on. Well, that’s if nothing else gets in their way. Both are facing their own demons.

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Returning to the Fold: Playing Magic the Gathering’s Pre-release Hour of Devastation

9 Jul

mtg__hod_prerelease_product

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

I have not played the customizable card game, Magic the Gathering (MtG) for a very long time. In the past, I enjoyed how this game played with the legends from an ancient exotic world or looked at a genre (especially horror) in new ways. The best legacy era expansion sets are Arabian Nights and The Dark. I eventually stopped playing because folks with plenty of money to buy those great cards made me feel I could not compete and I did not find the world they created for MtG all that engaging. Finding casual games at gaming stores was tough.

Also, I wanted Wizards of the Coast to offer a new Middle Eastern themed set. The legends and lore of Ancient Egypt are the most requested and everybody knew it. Twenty-three years later since the release of Arabian, this company finally delivered with Amonkhet. The subset Hour of Devestation looks great. I saw cards showing the designers were looking deep into to Kemetic lore get the mystique right. The first set only whetted many enthusiasts appetite.

Pre-release challenges at gaming stores occurred over the weekend and I thought why not, let’s jump in. I know the core game mechanics and I am playing Magic Duels. Hopefully, I will not suck going up against experienced players. At least the field is level in the sealed game-play format. I went to a store where I did not feel intimidated. Out of the four stores in town, only one looked hopeful. It was not an overstuffed operation and it smelled clean. I plan on playing again this coming weekend (July 14-17) when this expansion hits all retail outlets.

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