Joy

Joy winds through the life of the titular character. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is perfect. The rest of the movie fails to support her and wastes her talents in a boring flick. There are hints of a good film here. A worthy protagonist, a compelling struggle and a winning end. But nothing shines as bright as Lawrence and that leaves this film muddling through the latter half of the run time.

No Escape

I went into No Escape expecting a story of Typhoon Haiyan. Instead I found an action thriller. I’m not a fan of Owen Wilson. But this film convinced me he can perform well outside of a comedic role. Wilson guides his family through danger as the country devolves into revolution. Challenges abound and some timely help from Pierce Brosnan keep the family alive.

Pan

How about you and I pretend I didn’t list Pan as one of my most anticipated films of 2015. Got it? Great. Thanks.

The Gift

Jason Bateman continues to deliver interesting performances in smaller films. In The Gift, Bateman plays a bully who has a chance encounter with one his schoolyard targets. Joel Edgerton, writer, director and Gordo, delivers a creepy performance. Bateman’s life starts a slow spiral as he tries to keep Gordo at bay. But everything crashes down around him as he resorts to his bullying tendencies.

War Room

War Room surprised me but I’m happy I saw it. I’m not a fan of religious films. Often their focus on miracles instead of every day living is disheartening. I’m sure miracle stories are inspiring to many. But the practicality of War Room inspires me. It offers guidance that doesn’t rely on miracles to improve one’s life. That prayer, or meditation, and a willingness to adjust one’s lifestyle and forgiveness can do a lot. War Room isn’t for everyone. But it was for me.

The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne is excellent as is Alicia Vikander. There are qualms to be had with the subject source. I hope there was an attempt to cast a transgender actress. But their performances and the film as a whole are award worthy. This year has been the year of Alicia Vikander. Hope we continue to see her career grow.

Minions

Yep. Minions. I am not the targeted audience and it showed.

Concussion

Is Concussion the film that kills American football? Probably not. Will Smith is superb. I’m not sure if the accent matches that of the person. But his performance with it was perfection. I know I wasn’t keen on letting any future children of mine play tackle football. This picture shows the world why.

Goodbye 2015!

It’s been a great year but I’m excited for 2016. 2015 was a year filled with growth and change.

In April, I asked the woman I love to marry me.
In June, I moved to Tallahassee and in with my newly minted fiancée.
In July, I said goodbye to Gainesville for one last time.
In September, I returned to Atlanta for our now yearly pilgrimage to DragonCon.
In October, I helped two of my dearest friends get married.
In December, I built my third video game for 2015.

There were many more events. Seven weddings in total. Numerous holidays. Travel throughout the Southeast US. And a decent showing at the gym.

The Force Awakens is the most optimistic film in a long time… on Tumblr

I’ve found playing Jedi in the Old Republic video game series difficult. The Jedi Code promotes intellect over emotion. But while playing the games, your protagonist develops deep emotional connections with their companions. Some of these connections become romantic relationships. The games have often encouraged these relationships through mechanics while tsk-ing them in dialogue. This article suggests that we’re seeing a new side of the Force. It is an interesting thesis.

#ORUSingle

Presented without comment.

Is the Big 12 on the Verge of Major Change?

College conference realignment continues to intrigue me. Massive institutions of higher learning playing musical chairs because of their athletics departments. Granted, there are billions of dollars at stake. But that money is often a drop in the pond compared to their endowments. Four of the five major conferences are secure in their positions. This article examines the fifth, the Big12.

The Environmental Cost of Moving All Our Stuff is Huge. How Can We Shrink It? by Nate Berg

Berg takes a look at the future of moving stuff around the world. I’m most excited about the autonomous driving technology. It will increase the safety and efficiency of automobiles. I dream of a future where my children won’t have to learn to drive because automobiles drive themselves.

Introducing OpenAI by The OpenAI Team

Artificial intelligence fascinates me. Virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana are becoming more prevalent. As institutions inch closer to true AI, we need more safeguards in place to protect humanity from our ambition. OpenAI hopes to be one of those safeguards. Elon Musk, who has raised the alarm about AI, is a major funder of the group.

Why Splatoon is my game of the year by Sam Byford

I don’t own a Nintendo WiiU. But if I did, Splatoon would be one of my first purchases.1 A first person shooter, Splatoon turns the genre on its head by change the win conditions. Painting the walls with liquified color replaces the genre standard splattering brain matter. Byford puts Splatoon forth as his game of the year.


  1. Along with Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Super Mario Maker, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. 

Vacation

John Francis Daley’s departure from Bones was a sad moment. He left a great acting role to be a screenwriter and director. It was my hope that Daley would go on to do awesome things behind the camera. Vacation fails to go anywhere. A comedy about the importance of family, the dynamics of the family ring true. The comedy doesn’t rise above elementary school penis and poop jokes. I wasn’t expecting much out of this film and that’s what I got. One can only hope Daley’s next screenwriting credit can graduate to some higher humor.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Normally, I’d spend a paragraph discussing a movie, but Star Wars The Force Awakens deserves so much more. So look forward to a full movie review in the near future.

How Pokémon Go will benefit from Niantic’s lessons from Ingress on location-based game design by Dean Takahashi

The Pokémon Company is joining forces with Niantic Labs to bring Pokémon to smartphones. Takahashi has an interview with Niantic CEO John Hanke. They discuss the spinout, partnership and direction of the game. Hanke provides a plethora of information about a product I’m excited about.

Star Trek Beyond Trailer Review by Toni Sanchez

Last week, Paramount Pictures released the Star Trek Beyond trailer. I avoided the release in hopes of seeing it on the big screen in front of The Force Awakens. Alas, no luck as AMC did not run the trailer in front my showing. My good friend, Toni Sanchez, posted a review of the trailer. I agree with what she says. It’s not my favorite trailer but it is built for a different audience. That said I hope that Toni and Simon Pegg are right1.

Best of 2015: Gamasutra’s Top Games, Devs, Events and Trends at Gamasutra

Gamasutra’s staff compiles a list of development studios, trends, events and games for 2015. This is a great article that captures most of what occurred this year into a single space.


  1. HeyUGuys got a brief interview with Pegg about the trailer. 

Today I’m introducing a new kind of post, a daily link round up. I read dozens of articles and blog posts every day. I’ll be providing links to the most interesting with some commentary.

Design Comparison: Exploration and Journeys by Brandes Stoddard

If any game should have a good system for travel, it should be a game based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpieces. Stoddard reviews D&D 5e’s rules on Exploration and The One Ring’s rules on Journeys. He offers suggestions for how to adapt the Journey rules for Fifth Edition. If I ever ran a more lethal D&D campaign with say the slower recovery options, I would add in the Exhaustion of Travel rules.

Captain Marvel: A Carol Danvers Primer by Charles Paul Hoffman

With the conclusion of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run, it’s a great time to re-examine her history. She’s risen from a male-based heroine to a defining feminist figure in Marvel. Hoffman’s primer is a great beginner’s guide to Carol Danvers and includes recommended readings.

SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 at The Verge

SpaceX landed the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral last night. The ORBCOMM-2 mission lifted 11 satellites into low-Earth orbit. Quite the accomplishment. I look forward to SpaceX attempting the water landing again.

Secret Code Found in Juniper’s Firewalls Shows Risk of Government Backdoors at Wired

An internal code audit of ScreenOS, the software running on Juniper Networks’ firewalls, revealed multiple vulnerabilities. Juniper Networks issued a security advisory and updated software for their hardware. Many conclude that state actors are responsible for the malicious code. The security advisory provides enough detail to locate the master password backdoor. This makes it easy to hack any unpatched firewalls.

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

On one hand, I’m disappointed I didn’t catch Rogue Nation in theaters. On the other, I’m happy I saw Spectre first because I’m sure my review of it would have been less favorable. In the fifth installment, a US security committee determines the Impossible Missions Force to be obsolete. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on the trail of The Syndicate, an organization modeled on the IMF but with cross purposes. The film follows Hunt as he evades Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin), with the help of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner), to root out the Syndicate.

It’s a fantastic action thriller. But if you only see one spy movie, go see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But if you see two, watch Rogue Nation.

Terminator Genisys

Another in-universe reboot, Terminator Genisys brings the franchise back from the depths. As always, John Connor (Jason Clarke) send Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). This time a T-1000 greets Reese at his arrival. Sarah and Pops rescue Reese and they try to adapt to the changes in the timeline. They travel forward to 2017 to stop Genisys, the proto-Skynet developed at Cyberdyne Systems in San Francisco. Genisys updates the franchise for a future of constant connectedness. The performances are good but the story is convoluted at times.

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer stars in Trainwreck, a movie about … well, a trainwreck of a woman. There is romance, comedy and drama but this film drags on far too long. Amy struggles with the imparted views of her father on commitment. Her younger sister is a model family first mother that raises her stepson as her own. Amy is the uncommitted half of a relationship but jokes made at Steven’s sexuality fall flat. Assigned to write an article on a sports surgeon, Amy dances with Dr. Conners through a one night stand to a relationship. Amy, and Dr. Conners, messes up a good thing. After alienating her sister following the death of their father, Amy realizes that she messed up a good thing and moves to win Dr. Conners back.

Trainwreck is a mess of a movie that drags on as it meanders through the various relationships of Amy, how she messes them up, realizes that she needs them and attempts to fix them.

Spy

The supporting cast in this movie drew me to it. The headlining actress deterred me. Jude Law, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Morena Baccarin and Melissa McCarthy. I’ve struggled to enjoy McCarthy in films like Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy. But watching her in Gilmore Girls was an enjoyable experience this summer. She continues to grow on me and Spy might be the film that has brought her to the watchable level. McCarthy plays a support agent sent into the field after Law’s character is KIA trying to recover a nuke. The jokes and physical comedy are consistent and above average. Spy won’t rank high in the grand scheme of things but it’s a solid action comedy good for some laughs. I anxiously await Ghostbusters.

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur suffers from being a Pixar movie that debuted the same year as Inside Out. The animation is the best I’ve seen in a movie. Just like the first time I saw Incredibles and Elastagirl’s hair, the scenery in The Good Dinosaur is astounding. Unfortunately, this movie is otherwise a run of the mill Disney film. Arlo, the eponymous Good Dinosaur, is the runt of his siblings and fails at every task assigned to him. His father is killed in a Mufasa-esque scene this time with rushing water instead of a herd of wildebeests. I’m not sure why this movie had to take place in an alternate universe.

Watch It: If you want to see a solid animated movie.
Skip It: If you have young children, there’s no blood, but a decent amount of violence and scary moments.

Creed

A fantastic story with Rocky (Stallone) mentoring Creed’s child (Jordan). Donny fights his way through his childhood and eventually into the ring. The relationships and character growth in this movie a superb. I only wish the resolutions were cut so short to move the film into the final fight with Pretty Ricky Conlin. Otherwise a great movie even though I haven’t seen any of the other Rocky films.

Watch It: If you’re want to see an Oscar worthy performance from Stallone and a mostly fantastic screenplay.
Skip It: If you’re allergic to blood, but even then you can watch it.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer play American and Russian spies sent to help Alicia Vikander find her nuclear weapon scientist father. What a fun romp through Cold War Europe. The chemistry of the cast and the direction of the film are great. Not a top tier film for me but clearly a cut above.

Watch It: For a good water/oil team up action movie.
Skip It: If you’re looking for something more serious.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (2014)

A movie I skipped in theaters last year, this turned out to be a very enjoyable family friendly film. It can be tough to adapt children stories into screenplays but this film does a good job of maintaining the message of the book. Every character in Alexander’s family gets a share of the bad day but they realize that family is what really matters.

Watch It: If you’re in the mood for a comedic family friendly film.
Skip It: If you can’t be bothered with a kid film.

Selfless

Ryan Reynolds is really solid in this movie that deals with death, immortality and immorality. He plays two characters, the first has sold his body (and thus his life) to a corporation in exchange for treatment for his sick daughter. The second character is the transferred consciousness of Ben Kingsley a dying real estate mogul. The movie focuses on the cost and morality of exchanging someone else’s life for your own.

Watch It: If you want to watch a good thriller with an interesting theme.
Skip It: If you dislike Ryan Reynolds.