Category Archives: Other People Telling Liz Stuff

Sometimes, Liz needs a break.

Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 2)

Dear Frank,

Here we go again, into the “Heart of Darkness”! Get it, because the video game “Spec Ops: The Line” is like “Heart of Darkness” but in Iraq and super-horrific! Here’s part two of three, courtesy of Eric Miller.

Love,
Liz

Heya again Liz,

So, where were we?

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Ah, right. Read the rest of this entry

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Eric Tells Liz What Happened In “Spec Ops: The Line” (Part 1)

Dear Frank,

SPECIAL TREAT! Eric Miller (yes, of the Los Altos Millers, AKA my brother) recently played a video game! He found it a bit traumatic! So his solution: To tell me what happened in it. In enough detail to justify three whole installments! Not to mention a whole bunch of cat videos.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

Spec_Ops_The_Line_coverThe question “Are Video Games Art” has become, thankfully, a dying question. One film buff, after asking himself that question at the start of a video in giant, bold letters, simply responded “Of course they are, that’s not even in question”. There will always be naysayers, of course, but the gamers of the world are starting to tune them out, because there’s a more interesting question in mind: “What kind of art are video games?”

The medium is everything in art. The finest movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings keeps the soul of the original, but changes most everything else in an effort to keep the three films under 20 hours. Stories you can tell over a 26 episode season are impossible to translate to a 2.5 hour movie, and the ability to frame a shot, cut it, take multiple takes and add in CGI can give film a splendor and weight that even the grandest opera could never hope to achieve. Every medium has its own upsides and downsides based on its mechanics, and the skilled creators have to find out how to enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses to create their work of art.

And that’s the reason why video games have gotten the short stick for so long. Too many try to tell a cinematic story, which means trying to take something that worked in a movie and cram it into a different medium with different rules. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to work as well, because it takes time, is TAKING time to figure out how this medium really works.

Which is why I’m telling you about Spec Ops: The Line here. Read the rest of this entry

“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 7: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

And, after seven long seasons, it’s time for erstwhile “Voyager” chronicler Whitney Bishop to bring us home. Take it away, Whitney! –Liz

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Geena Davis: “We just heard a fascinating and disturbing study, where they looked at the ratio of men and women in groups. And they found that if there’s 17 percent women, the men in the group think it’s 50-50. And if there’s 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.”

Here, at the dawning of this last season of Voyager, I’ve got a theory for why, by the end, pretty much damn near every guest actor on the show is male — unless, of course, the character has to be a sex object, seduce someone, and/or give birth to someone, in which case that role can be filled by a lady — and that theory is basically summed up by that quote up there. The ratio hasn’t been great throughout the rest of the show, but by the end it’s just ridiculous. I think that the more time Janeway, Seven, and B’Elanna get, the more the show feels its gender quota has been filled and just defaults to male secondary characters.

I honestly think the lack of adult female roles has a lot to do with male perceptions of how women take up space. By the seventh season, Janeway still has the helm, Seven is an object of interest for many of the plots now, and B’Elanna’s pregnancy has pushed her back to frequent consideration where she once was absent from episodes entirely. Three women doing things is like having a show entirely about women, and therefore there’s no need to ensure gender diversity elsewhere.

To be clear, I’m not accusing anyone of malice or deliberate misogyny. But seeing seventeen percent and thinking it’s the same as half is just another indication of the failure of imagination that never let Voyager boldly go quite the way it should have. The show started out touting its female-led crew, but wound up not only struggling under its inability to keep up its initial promises of being Feminist Trek, but actually backsliding. That’s sort of sad.

And now, for Season 7… Read the rest of this entry

“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 6: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

The adventure continues thanks to the wonderful Whitney Bishop, who continues her quest through the Delta Quadrant with the cleanest refugees in Starfleet. Season 6 is here — we’re almost home, you guys! –Liz

Voyager_S6Season six of Voyager really becomes the Seven Show. On the one hand, that’s great, because Jeri Ryan is still the most talented cast member and Seven of Nine has some of the most interesting character development still left. Also, up until the end, it strayed away from the disasters that are usually her romance plots and embraced her ability to do other things, like take care of special-needs children and wear less makeup.

On the other hand, though, focusing on her means leaving a lot of good characters by the wayside. Nothing of note has happened to Chakotay in a good long while, and while Harry, Neelix, and Tuvok are present in a lot of scenes (and get to lead the plot in about an episode each), they’re generally supporting the action, not carrying it. That’s just death on a show that’s supposed to be an ensemble cast. I read that this season was a slog for Robert Beltran, and I have no problem believing that, considering how he was in every episode of the show (as was Tim Russ), but I don’t actually remember his being in most of the ones this season.

I’m also just going to point out the fact that three of the four cast members the show forgets about are three of its four cast members of color, put that down, and back away slowly. (If you’re interested in detailed-yet-spoilery statistics, Adherents.com has a list of Species / Race / Gender / Ethnicity Breakdown Among Star Trek Cast Members, which was a good read.)

SEASON SIX Read the rest of this entry

John Tells Liz What Happened In “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

Dear Frank,

John Ross is back! John Ross is back! Having survived “50 Shades of Grey” and “The Host,” he’s once again about to reveal the secrets of lady-focused drama. Is it because he loves the act of epistolary recapping? Or because this blog gives him a reason to do things like watch movies based on young adult fiction? That is between John Ross and his maker. All I know is, we benefit.

Love,
Liz

Dear Liz,

The-Mortal-Instruments-City-of-Bones-Poster-535x792My expectations were below gutter level when I went to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. At the time, it was at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and based on my previous experience with a young adult novel franchise turned movie — The Host — I made sure to sit near the back just in case. But then halfway through the movie, when I did in fact have to go to the bathroom, I found myself holding it because I didn’t want to miss anything. Whether it was intentional or not — I still can’t tell — this movie is fun to watch!

Now I know the point of this is to fill you in on everything that happens in the movie but honestly I couldn’t tell you. I had no idea what was going on half the time. Like other teen novel adaptations, you get the sense that the filmmakers had to leave in everything from the book or face the wrath of its fans. (Too bad the World War Z novel wasn’t popular with teenage girls.) But that’s what I love about these young adult novel adaptations: Were it not for this fear of pleasing the fans, no one in their right mind would make a movie as batshit insane as this one. Read the rest of this entry

“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 4: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

She! Cannot! Be! Stopped! Once again, Whitney Bishop is venturing into dark terrain — albeit dark terrain featuring a sexy Borg lady. Time now for Season 4 of “Voyager”! –Liz

star-trek-voyager-season-4I have a terrible confession to make. I didn’t like Seven of Nine.

She first appeared on the show when I was sixteen years old, and I felt she was about the worst thing Voyager had going for it. One of the reasons was, I will admit now, semi-petty: she was pretty, but she wasn’t just pretty, she was Space Magic Barbie, who had been dressed not only in a tight suit, but in a tight suit specifically made to corset her as prominently possible — and made absolutely no practical sense, to boot. Like, I understand how a plain bodysuit is a reasonably unfrivolous outfit, but really if they’d rescued a boy Borg instead, do you think they would’ve put him in a silver suit so tight you could see his balls?

And there’s nothing in the universe practical about those heels. Her core design was just so obviously someone’s masturbatory fantasy put on display to attract straight male viewers that I was uncomfortable as a young person, and I’m still more than a little uncomfortable now. (See also: Enterprise‘s Sex Vulcan — and boy, is that a show I’m not doing a Skip It/Watch It for. Or wait, here we go: just skip it.) Read the rest of this entry

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