Top 10 War Movies

For those of you who didn’t know, I’m a filthy liberal.  It’s true.  But I’m not some crazy social justice type.  Instead, I’m part of what’s call the “libertarian left.”  However, just because I am a filthy liberal doesn’t mean I am naturally opposed to the military.  Time was, before my head injury, I wanted to go into military intelligence.  One of many things in life that Lady Luck saw fit to take from me.  I can’t play contact sports, or serve.  However, the movies have provided me with some good depictions of the life.  Sure, there are the ones that are basically “America, Fuck Yeah!” The Movie, but then there are the ones that actually look at war and what it means to fight.  Or at the very least just have a very honest depiction of fighting it.  These are the films that have stuck with me in that regard.  Or, and I’m just being honest here, some of them are just cool.  I’m not above liking a movie for having cool shit.  The shame of my pseudo-intellectual bravado.  Here are the top 10 war movies that I like.

10. Green Zone
Made by the same guy who did the first three Bourne movies, this film tells the story of an Army unit commander who ends up getting caught in a labyrinth of intrigue, all on a quest to find out the truth behind the WMDs in Iraq.  This movie surprised me, when I first saw it.  See, the United States military is VERY protective of their image.  They have to approve movies depicting them before they get released.  So a film that is critical of military intelligence and isn’t nice about it is more than a little but of a shock to think that that got past their censor.  But then, you realize that Iraq was a giant cluster-fuck and with so many dead and wounded, they probably don’t feel all that bad throwing the government and the people who got us into that mess (that we still aren’t technically out of to this day.  We still have troops there) under the bus.  This film has flaws.  The hand-held shake-y cam can get annoying in chase sequences.  But it is a good look at what happened to this country and where everything went wrong.

9. The Patriot
Now we go to the war that started this country in the first place.  I do loves me some historical fiction.  Now, the cynic in me does recognize that this film is pretty much just Braveheart, but during the American Revolution.  But there is a lot of flavor to this movie.  Mel Gibson’s character is what holds it all together.  Taking the role of Capt. Benjamin Martin, he leads a force waging a guerilla war against the British.  What I like about this film is the characters.  You get to know Martin and his forces.  Everyone has personality.  Even the British are not just shown as pure evil.  Pompous and arrogant, but there are those among them who recognize that they need to be decent to the colonists.  What’s more, you see that the issue of starting a nation wasn’t as clear-cut as history can make it out to be.  There were those who opposed forming a Union.  Not the most complicated film, but worth your time.

8. Top Gun
Remember when I said that there would be films on this list who are here strictly because of cool factor?  Yeah…this is what I’m talking about.  Thing to know about me – I think that fighter jets are fucking rad.  The F-22 Raptor is the coolest thing in the world.  So a movie all about being a fighter jockey and learning to dog-fight?  I am all over that.  Sure, this movie is cheesy as fuck.  It is 80’s to the max!  ALL of the 80’s cheese is in here.  And the lengths they go to in order to make Tom Cruise look tall is just adorable.  But then they play Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” again (no joke, they play it three times in this movie) and I am saying “fuck yeah!” to the screen again.  I’m not proud of it, but there it is.

7. Eye in the Sky
Another film that is very critical of the military.  However, since the primary focus is on the British, with the Americans merely as the partners in this mission, it makes more sense to me how this film got past the censor.  Telling the story of a British and American military operation to take out a British national in Africa, this movie looks at the ethics of drone warfare.  What’s more, they don’t just paint the whole thing as black and white.  One of the things that I love about this movie is the fact that they go so far to make sure all sides are heard.  And they let you, the viewer, come to your own conclusion about whether what they did in the end was right or not.  I like when movies respect my intelligence enough to let me come to my own conclusions.  Not only was Helen Mirren amazing, but the final role of Alan Rickman, and it was pretty fantastic.  If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

6. Fury
When I heard that they were making a film about a tank crew during World War II, I was curious to see what that would end up being.  I mean, it’s a different concept.  Something you don’t think about is how many people it takes to make a tank work.  It’s not just one dude in there.  And during World War II, this was a time when we had German artillery outmatching us.  A LOT of people died inside of tanks during this war.  So we have a movie following the exploits of an American tank crew and their vehicle, doing their best to succeed and survive in the most talked-about war in history.  I was surprised with how good this movie was.  Can add its name to the list of great movies that few people saw.

5. Glory
Heading back into the wars of yesteryear.  This time it’s the Civil War.  Telling the story of the first black regiment in the Union army.  I said before that I loves me some good historical fiction.  But the thing that really makes this movie are the performances.  It’s a fantastic cast all-round.  We have Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and even Matthew Broderick.  I’m with the nostalgia critic and thinking very little of Broderick as an actor.  But every performance in this film is stunning.  Looking at racial politics over a hundred years ago is harrowing.  This film hinges on the strength of its cast as it’s a very character-driven story of these people and their own prejudices as they learn to accept each other.  It’s not especially preachy, either.  If you’ve forgotten about this movie, you really should revisit it.

4. Saving Private Ryan
There’s a reasonable argument to be made that this is the most famous war movie ever made.  When it came out, this film was making huge bank and the critics couldn’t stop talking about it.  And to be fair, there’s a reason why.  We have Spielberg when he was at the top of his game, making a movie that opens on one of the most violent military engagements in history.  Telling the story of a squad of soldiers who are on a mission to find a man whose brothers have all been killed and get him home.  The cinematography of this film is graphic and unforgiving.  If you’ve ever looked for an accurate representation of how awful this war was, you could do worse.  Though I did have the same thoughts about Fury.  Tom Hanks is what makes this film.  I would argue he’s the best actor working today.  When he dies, it is going to be a VERY sad day for me.

3. We Were Soldiers
Heading into a different war, now we get to take a trip to Vietnam.  Telling the story of the first usage of helicopters to deploy troops into active combat zones, we have Mel Gibson back.  Taking a new unit of his into battle, in a war that all of historians agree was a GIANT cluster-fuck.  This movie is also pretty unforgiving in its portrayal of how bad war can be.  You can feel the oppressive heat and terror these guys must have felt, with the enemy pretty much being unseen and all they can do is fire at the green and hope they hit something.  This movie does tend to kiss America’s ass a bit, but given how Vietnam vets were treated like shit when they got home because of America’s attitude about the war, it does make you think that maybe they’ve earned a little adulation
For those who are wondering, this is basically where I would have Platoon, but I had to pick one or the other.  It was close, but I chose this one.  Mostly because I couldn’t take Charlie Sheen seriously in the latter film.  Willem Dafoe ALMOST clinched it, but this film took the spot.  Still, both are excellent films.

2. Black Hawk Down
A war film directed by Ridley Scott?  Sign me up!  This film is hardcore.  Not only is the cinematography at the top of its class, but this has some HUGE names.  I do love how many British people are in this movie doing their best American accents.  I think the best of them was Ewan McGregor.  But then, that dude is one of those actors that everyone forgets about, but always brings his a-game.  Still, this movie had a ton of real talent in there.  Josh Hartnett, William Fitchner, Tom Hardy, Jason Isaacs, and get this – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau before he had any name recognition.  That’s right, Jaime Lannister was an American soldier in a movie.  A sniper for Delta Force, to be exact.  That’s cool.  The violence is hardcore, and the performances are all great.  Not to mention the cinematography is incredible.  This film isn’t remembered the way it should be, but trust me, it’s worth your time.

And my favorite war movie is…

1. Gettysburg
Those of you who have actually seen this movie are definitely scratching your heads at this choice.  On top of some of the best war films ever made is a film that definitely has its flaws about the Civil War.  Let me explain.  This movie tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg.  The turning point of the Civil War.  Had the Confederates won there, who knows what would have happened.  Historians will say otherwise, but I think they would have gone through to Washington.  This movie has some VERY corny elements.  The score being the biggest among them.  However, the reason this movie ranks so high on my list is the performances.  There are some real powerful roles in this!  We have Martin Sheen as Gen. Robert E. Lee.  One of the most beloved generals in American history.  We have Tom Berenger as Gen. Longstreet.  His role especially got to me.  He doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Lee on several occasions.  He has a realist perspective on what they’re doing, but can only follow his orders.  It’s pretty great stuff.  Lastly, we have Jeff Daniels, who is also one of my favorite actors.  He’s playing Col. Chamberlain, a college professor turned soldier, leading a regiment against some of the worst fighting in the war.  The corny bits are able to get past me mostly because you can tell this was a passion project of a ton of dedicated people.  You can feel the passion in every performance.  I love this movie.  If you haven’t seen it, and you like the time period, do yourself a favor and check it out.

So, what about you all?  What are your favorite war movies?  Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“They’ve gotta be tired, the Rebs.  They gotta be close to the end if we are.” – Col. Joshua L Chamberlain, Gettysburg

Peace out,

Maverick

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Top 10 Villains I’d Like to See in a ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ Sequel

Incomniac’s newest game is a marvel (no pun intended).  The fact that they were able to create a Spider-Man game this good amazes me.  This game really is the best in its class.  While it isn’t perfect, it still is able to have an engaging narrative, fun characters, and a world that is fun to explore.  There were some parts of that which could be improved.  Like how you take pictures of stuff, but there is no in-game codex of what stuff is.  You have one for characters you meet, but that’s it.  I would have liked to see one for the places you see and how they connect to Spider-Man’s universe.  Another thing the game did well was having a big part of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.  Even ones that aren’t well-known, like Screwball.  So I got to thinking – who would I like to see in a sequel?  Insomniac has said the idea for a sequel is open, but they aren’t committing to it yet.  That’s fair.  Better to not have a sequel than a half-assed one.  But assuming they do, these are the villains I want to see.  By the way, Venom and Carnage aren’t going to be on this list.  Too many games have done them, and I’d honestly like to see more of the rest of the Spider’s gallery get their due.  Let’s get started.

10. Jack O’ Lantern
This dude is definitely not a central tier villain.  He’s a gun for hire in every sense of the word.  But the original game showed that you can have those, along with a bigger bad and it works.  That was the entire third act with the Sinister Six, after all.  A former CIA agent who became a merc, this guy is all about some pretty clever weaponry.  The suit for this villain has it all, and the helmet is rigged to be imposing, but still be something approaching practical.  It’s kind of a bummer how little fanfare this dude has had, especially on his ridiculous circular hoverboard.  Not a super complicated villain, but one I’d like to see get his time in the sun.

9. Mysterio
A former stage magician turned small-time crook, a lot of the versions of this character that have been done in gaming have not done him justice in the way I think they should.  Also not cool enough to be a big bad, this guy would be a fun side-quest character.  But the real potential I see is in the boss fight.  Too many games have made battling this dude very straight-forward, when that wasn’t the kind of villain he was.  Mysterio was about performance and using trickery to get the best of the Spider.  So their fight should reflect that.  Have Spider-Man working to unravel his projections or traps or what-have-you, while having to work around the main villain himself.  A fight about subterfuge sounds like a lot of fun.

8. Kraven the Hunter
I’ve talked about this dude before.  The ultimate hunter who decided that he got tired of hunting game, and wanted to try something a little different on for size – the Spider-Man.  This would definitely be a boss that is more about the story that leads up to him than the man himself, because Kraven’s tale is a tragic one.  The original game showed that it can weave a tragic narrative, so I’d like to get to know him.  As for the fight, it would be cool if this was a battle where he is hunting you, and you are constantly having to stay on your toes.  It’s all about knowing the angles and getting around them.  One false move, and you could be dead.  I dig that.

7. Swarm
Anyone remember the battle with The Pain in Metal Gear Solid 3?  I do.  That fight wasn’t especially interesting, but it got me to thinking about one of the most unknown of Spider-Man’s villains – Swarm.  This dude was a former Nazi scientist who tried to enslave the queen of a mutated bee colony, and then subsequently had his consciousness absorbed into the hive after they devoured him.  Yeah, it’s comic book logic.  But the dude is literally a giant swarm of bees!  He has no shape, can become any shape, can control thousands of bees, and go anywhere.  This would be one crazy fight, and I kinda wanna see what Insomniac could do with the character.

6. Hydro-Man
So, we have a villain who is literally a giant swarm of bees.  Why not have one who is literally a human personification of water?  Some of this may sound like going over the same kind of fighting as Swarm, but not only does this guy have an interesting back-story in connection with Spider-Man, but this would be another interesting fight.  I think back to the fight with Clayface in Arkham City, and that’s kind of what I think of with this.  It would be kinda neat if the Spider had to think up tricks on the fly, or have the fight be more about trying to contain Hydro-Man than fighting the person him.  Of course, I can already see how the battle ends – with him being frozen and then contained – but maybe Insomniac could surprise me.  We don’t get many water-based villains in games, so I figure that a sequel could let this dude have his due.

5. Morbius
Given that the first game was very family-friendly, this may be a hard boss to include in a sequel, but I really want to.  This vampire has been haunting the Spider for a long time.  Part of me is trying to think of a way that he could be integrated into a family-friendly Spider-Man game.  Naturally, this would be one HELL of a boss to fight.  The vampire powers, along with the fact that he can go toe-to-toe with the Spider in terms of strength and speed, he really would be hard to take down.  Part of me hopes there would be some kind of daylight device.  But this boss would be more about the mystery.  I can already hear the bad jokes now when Spidey actually has to go after a real vampire and him having trouble accepting that.

4. Alistair Smythe
Part of me is kind of surprised that he wasn’t in the last game, since it opens with taking down Fisk.  Smythe has been one of Fisk’s right-hand men for a long time.  When he is first in the comics, he is in a wheelchair, with his weapon being the asset that Fisk has the most use for.  However, over time he gets himself some a neat biological upgrade that turns him into a monster.  That could be an entire plotline in the sequel game.  I can already see him being part of a plot of Spider-Man trying to clean up the remaining assets of Fisk, only to realize that Smythe will go to any lengths to look after his boss’ interests, even if it means turning into a freakshow.

3. Beetle
This guy is ostensibly Iron Man, with more tools dedicated for the purpose of killing the shit out of people.  I was hoping to see him in the films with Tom Holland in them because Stark has become a father-figure to him, but the angle in the games would be more about the Spider having to overcome this guy’s tools of the trade.  However, since the Avengers exist in that universe, and Spider-Man has remarked to having knowledge of them on some level, any chance there could be an Iron Man cameo?  Perchance to dream.  Still, this would be a fun fight.  I imagine the battle with Hammerhead in the most recent DLC, but with Spider being alone, having to figure it out.

2. Lizard
Now, the thing about this character is the fact that Lizard is to Spider-Man what Two-Face is to Batman – a character that is tragic, a reminder that you can’t save everyone and that sometimes you have to accept battling friends.  I see this more as a narrative driven character than someone with a cool boss fight attached.  In the comics, Parker had a deep connection with Dr. Connors, so it would be nice to see the two facing off once-more.  It’s implied that he is incarcerated at the beginning of the first game, but since The Raft was opened and everyone was let out, I wonder where he will end up next.

And the villain I want to see most in the next game is…

1. Green Goblin
I mean, it’s almost dead certain that he will be in the next game, right?  Norman Osborn is one of the secondary antagonists, and the plotline of Harry being in the weird tank is left unresolved.  He was trying to reverse-engineer the Spider’s abilities, so I figure this is all heading to him being either the central big bad of the next game, or one of the big ones.  It is gonna be interesting to see what angle another game in this franchise would take, as they just had a big showdown with the Sinister Six.  Lots of things to consider.  So long as they don’t make him an overacting idiot like the one in the Sam Raimi film (I hated those movies.  Blame the fact that Tobey Macguire is the titular character), I’m good.

What about you?  What villains would you like to see?  Let me know down below.

Until next time, a quote,

“I learned how to disarm opponents by making bad jokes.” – Silver Sable
“Yeah, you mean good jokes.  But I know that humor’s subjective.” – Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2019

2018 has been a pretty ho-hum year for gaming.  There have been some big games, but nothing that really sticks with me at the end.  Nothing that has crossed my mind into territory of something truly extraordinary.  However, all of that is looking to change in 2019.  As the current generation is winding down, as is typical, we are looking to get games that will define this generation.  For whatever reason, consoles always show what they can really do when things are drawing to a close.  I’m stoked for next year.  So many releases, so much to talk about.  Let’s get down to it.

10. The Pathless
Made by the same studio who did ABZU, they are back to do something 100% different.  Instead of an artsy game about a beginning-to-end water level, we get to see an adventure game about an Asian-looking protagonist in a forest world.  The visuals are in the same vein as ABZU, but the content is so much different.  We may even have boss fights, with the only weapon our character has – a bow.  This studio came out of the gate swinging, but I am definitely curious to see what this become.

9. Ghost of a Tale (PS4 Port)
A game about a cute mouse bard on a big adventure through a castle?  Why yes, I’ll have some of that.  This game has intrigued me since I first heard about it.  The visuals look absolutely breath-taking, and the gameplay makes me think you actually are playing as a mouse.  It’s cute, it’s different, and the stealth action gameplay mixed with interaction with adorable little woodland creatures is just the best.  Makes me wonder if you have bigger woodland predators as bosses.  We shall see.

8. Resident Evil 2 (Remake)
It’s really cool how we live in this time where game companies are remaking classic beloved games from the ground up.  And they aren’t doing them in a shitty way.  It’s some high quality stuff.  So when I heard that a classic game from my youth was getting this treatment, I was stoked!  Everything I have seen about the final product looks like it is going to mesh brilliantly with my expectations.  The action is still tight.  The zombies are tougher than you’d expect, making conservation of ammunition even more important.  They have taken the formula they were given, removed none of the difficulty, but updated it to the current age.  That’s brilliant!  Not to mention, the Tyrant in the suit and hat reveal scared the shit out of me. The fact that you can’t fight this thing and can only run from it is great.  Though, why don’t the infected ever attack it?  That’s weird. It would be cool if I could use infected against it.  That’s some neat strategy.  Oh well, over-thinking.  Still looks cool.

7. Man of Medan
A couple of things.  First, a lot of movies have tried the horror anthology idea, but it’s always died.  Never has it stuck.  Second, I LOVED the predecessor to this game – Until Dawn.  That game was such a great visualization of a horror concept, putting the player in the driver’s seat of a horror movie where how many people lived or died was at your control.  That’s fantastic.  So when I heard that this concept is being turned into an anthology, I thought that this idea is ambitious, never been tried, and could become something spectacular.  It’s first part/attempt is in this game, Man of Medan.  And man, I couldn’t be more stoked.  It’s got it all.  Atmosphere, characters that are stereotypes just like the last game, and a mysterious enemy to survive.  Who will make it out alive?  Well, all of them, if I have anything to say about it.

6. Doom: Eternal
You know what was awesome?  The remake of DOOM!  That game was such chaotic, fast-paced, always in motion action.  If you stayed still, you died.  If you weren’t willing to take the occasional risk, you died.  An itchy trigger-finger and a desire to rip and tear were all you had against the armies of Hell, and holy fuck-balls, it was awesome!  I loved that game.  So when I saw that there was a sequel in development, I was stoked.  The initial trailer didn’t do much for me, but then came the Phobos trailer, and I was hooked.  The changes made in this game look so spectacular.  I can’t wait  to see what’s happened between games.  What happened to the DOOM Marine when he was sent back to Hell, if Samuel lost his mind to the demons like his former protege.  Lots of unanswered questions, and demons to rip and tear my way through.

5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
When I saw that Bloodborne was not getting a sequel, I was sad.  However, then I saw the latest project that From Software was doing, and holy shit was I hooked.  An infinitely faster-paced game, with Japanese samurai action, a complex battle system, and the trademark punishing difficult that From Software is known for?  Sign me up!  With a compelling narrative about a fallen warrior with the prince he was supposed to protect stolen from him, I couldn’t be more excited.  This game looks awesome.  The action is so fast-paced that it is almost like a rhythm game at points.  That’s perfect.  It will be punishingly difficult, but that’s all part of the fun.

4. A Plague Tale: Innocence
This game really snuck up on me, but it left such a mark the second I saw it.  You have a narrative-driven action-adventure game, set in Medieval France, with the backdrop of an illness and a plague of rats.  I have already gathered that the infection isn’t the Black Death, but it is still a plague of rats.  Now, you play as a girl who is trying to get her brother to safety, with their young guide.  Puzzles to overcome, stealthy gameplay, and some really inventive use of the environment.  Plus, it looks incredible.  I’m not sure exactly what to think of this game, but we’ll see when it gets here.

3. Cyberpunk 2077
This game doesn’t have an official release date, but I am one of the people who whole-heartedly believes that it’s coming out in 2019.  The reasons for that are many.  First, the developers did a big interview about how this game is being optimized for current-gen consoles.  If that’s the case, then it would have to come out next year.  Otherwise, it would be ported over to the next.  Next, everything I’ve heard says that CD Projekt Red is nearing completion, but are being REALLY coy about when it is being released.  Some info from a Turkish publisher that hasn’t been refuted by the developer makes me think that there is more to it.  And man, I cannot wait to see what this game is!  The gameplay demo had my jaw dropped more than once.  If I am right, then this game is likely going to bring the house down.  If I’m right, of course.

2. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Neat fact about me and a girly-mate of mine, we both always wanted to be fighter jockeys.  But since my head injury has precluded me from military service (along with the fact that I am a giant meaning I can’t be a pilot anyway), it’s a dream that is far away from me.  However, when I heard about this game, you cannot believe how stoked I was.  It got my attention in the biggest way possible.  The gameplay looks incredible!  The environments are amazing.  The weather integration is phenomenal.  The coolest fighter jet ever to exist, the F-22 Raptor, is in it.  This game has everything I want.  The more I learn about it, the more stoked I get.  This game looks incredible, and since flight combat sim games are a dead art, it’s nice to see this genre making a comeback.  The closer I get to it, the more impatient I become.

Before we get to my #1, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

  • MediEvil (Remake): one of my favorite hack-and-slash games from the PS1 getting remade from the ground up.  Really am loving this new push to do these games.  It’s producing some of the most faithful remakes ever made, with modern sensibilities.  Can’t wait to see one of my favorite derpy knights back in action
  • Tales of Vesperia (PS4 Port): One of the greatest Tales games being brought to current generation console.  I’m down with this.
  • Panzer Dragoon (Remake): This just got announced, and I cannot tell you how stoked I am.  These games are a relic.  They are some of the greatest that gaming has created in terms of flight combat.  Before there was Star Fox 64, there was this.  I am so excited to see what they do with it.

And my most anticipated game of 2019 is…

1.Death Stranding
It’s finally here.  The first project of Hideo Kojima’s since he left Konami.  A lot of people have been annoyed at how coy Kojima has been playing with his latest project, but not me.  I am so utterly stoked.  Everything I’ve heard and been told says to me that this game is going to be unlike anything I’ve played before.  Everyone who is annoyed that the game isn’t spoon-feeding them what it is are so dumb, in my opinion.  They should love the vagueness.  It means you get to think and wonder about what it is!  Is there no appreciation for anticipation?  Has the endless Hollywood trailer machine that spoils everything before you get it spoiled audiences?  Not me.  I may not know exactly what this is, but I am DYING to find out.  Norman Reedus has said to expect this early in 2019.  Dying to know if he’s right.

I can feel that 2019 is going to be a hallmark year for gaming.  I know it from the bottom of my heart.  What about you?  What are the games you are most excited for?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“What’s your status?”
“My status is fucked.” – Sam Porter Bridges, Death Stranding

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Final Fantasy Classes

Or Jobs, if you prefer.  For me, it’s like in any JRPG, it’s about the classes.  The various roles of this franchise are as iconic as the franchise itself, and each one has some neat things about them.  However, over the years, we have the characters that exemplify these classes and show just why they are the most impressive among them.  Whether they go by the class name, or just show all the signs of it, these are my personal favorite classes in the franchise, to date.  Keep in mind, all of these are for completely subjective reasons.  Utility has NOTHING to do with this list.  That being said, let’s get to it.

10. White Mage
If you go into any situation in these games without a trusty White Mage at your back, you are pretty much dooming yourself right out of the gate.  Plenty of classes can heal characters, but these ones can also give status buffs and rid you of debuffs.  They can revive fallen party members.  And when you level them up enough, they can unleash one of the most powerful spells in the entire game – Holy.  They are kind of a thankless class, doing so much for so little recognition.  The most iconic of these is Aerith.  The tragic heroine of VII that made us all have the feels when the main villain took her life.

9. Summoner
Another one of those thankless classes.  They only serve one purpose in battle, but through that are able to captivate us with the most powerful being in the game.  The summons of this franchise are iconic on their own, and I did a list of my favorite of them, so naturally we have those who can call them forth.  My favorite is Yuna, from my favorite entry in the franchise, X.  She is kind, driven, and just wants to make a better world, regardless of the sacrifice.  A sweet character, in a very melancholy game.

8. Monk
These guys are unique among those on my list.  Unable to equip much armor and no weapons, these bare-knuckle brawlers are all about beating the shit out of their enemy until they don’t get up anymore.  The Suplex is an iconic move where they pick them up and smash them down to do massive damage.  There’s something about a character who will crack your skull with their bare hands that is so admirable.  When it came down to choosing my favorite, Tifa was a strong contender, but you can’t beat that Yang look.  That dude is the quintessential brawler, not fucking around at all.  You pick a fight with a Monk at your peril.

7. Black Mage
When it comes to iconic, you REALLY can’t go wrong with the Black Mages.  These guys and gals have been synonymous with the franchise from the very first entry.  Ask anyone what they think of when they say its name and one of these characters has a good chance of being on the list.  Elemental warriors who can dish out unbelievable damage at the cost of MP, not to mention learning the most powerful spell in the game – Ultima.  Picking my favorite was tricky.  Since X is my favorite game, Lulu was the obvious choice, but then I thought of who comes to mind when I think of Black Mages, and it was Vivi, from IX.  The inquisitive character with hidden face and glowing eyes.  Also iconic.

6. Samurai
What do you take when you have the Warrior class, but go even further with them, giving a Japanese aesthetic and the trademark “Bushido” abilities?  You get the Samurai!  These guys are awesome!  Sure, a lot of this is about aesthetics, but dammit, the aesthetic is so cool!  Typically wielding a giant katana with two-hands, they are all about cutting through defenses and striking your enemy down in a single blow.  Naturally, the most iconic of these is Auron from X.  This dude just oozes cool.  His laid back demeanor, determination, and how you see him seem to have a weakened arm, but when battle is joined, it ain’t so weakened then.  Another class of character you do not want to fuck with.

5. Dragoon
A class of knights that is also unique.  Wielding spears, and wearing armor that borrows from the dragon aesthetic, these knights are all about fast strikes with immense power.  Their trademark Jump ability gives them protection from damage for a turn, then bringing their spear down on their enemy in a crippling blow.  This class has been kinda forgotten by the franchise as a whole.  However, we will always have Kain, from IV.  This dude had “don’t fuck with me” practically written on his forehead.  A friend of the main character, who would do anything to protect him, even if he sometimes has to fight against him to find his own sense of justice.  Badass with a capital B.

4. Ninja
This class also goes WAY back.  With all the skills of a thief, while having the weapons of their namesake, these guys are like an improvement over the aforementioned job.  Ninjas are badass.  Being all about speed, with knives and powerful throwing weapons, they are not to be trifled with.  Thieving abilities go underappreciated in the franchise, but with bosses it is so very useful.  I keep surprising myself with some of the stuff I get from them.  Naturally, Edge is the most iconic of them.  There really is no contest.  You may never see them, but you will know they’re there when they cut you down and take your shit.

3. Gunner
A very new class in the franchise, but one that has left its mark.  These are the characters who abandon the archetypal fighting with blades, magic, and fists, and are all about the ammo.  The most versatile of these classes was in X-2, where you can level them up to have all kinds of special shots and even let-fly by button-mashing.  However, there are other iconic versions of this class.  Vincent Valentine comes to mind, with his three-barreled gun.  There is also Lightning and Leon, wielding gunblades.  However, for my favorite version of the character, I had to go with Balthier.  This dude is just so cool.  He has this suave attitude that lets you know – he may be a pirate, but he is classy as fuck.  Plus, his gun looks just perfect.  Not the strongest class, but a cool one all the same.

2. Paladin
What do you get when you combine White Mage skills, and powerful sword-fighting?  You get the Paladin.  Equipping heavy swords, the most iconic of which are Excalibur and Save the Queen, they charge into battle with the ability to use white magic, and be able to cover party members whose health is low.  Naturally, the most iconic of these is Cecil from IV.  His journey to get past his darkness and embrace the man he was meant to be is touching.  Plus, their ability to use their powers to heal is a nice counterbalance to their polar opposite class.  Speaking of…

And my favorite Final Fantasy class (or job, if you prefer) is….

1. Dark Knight
Oh yeah.  These guys got it all going on!  They will fuck up your day without a second thought.  Every single character to wield this armor has been a badass mother-fucker that I wouldn’t stand in the way of.  Wielding massive, twisted swords, using black magic that takes health away from them, having incredibly high health, defense, and offense, and an aesthetic that lets you know not to fuck with them.  There are plenty of versions of these characters who are iconic to one extent or another, but the version I love most is from X-2.  Getting this helped me turn Paine into a one-stop murder machine who would chew you up and spit you out!  Was a bit of a pain to find, but worth the trouble.  Cecil is cool and all, but there’s something about my melancholy girl in that black armor that just feels right.

What are your favorite classes?  Let me know in the comments

Until next time, a quote,

“Is there a password for this?”
“Yeah.  Kick. Its. Ass.” – Paine, Final Fantasy X-2

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 More Things I Hate in Movies

The more I thought about the things in movies that bug me, the more I was able to find an increasing amount.  Even after this, I’ll probably find more, so bear with me on that.  The second in these posts, here’s a link to the first.  There are so many things in movies that are just baffling to me, to the point where I wonder if filmmakers are deliberately stupid.  It’s a genuine thing to wonder, isn’t it?  Let’s waste no time, I got a lot to talk about.

10. Classical music is always associated with evil
You ever notice that all the heroes in big budget action films listen to the most down-home Americana music ever?  The worst of it is country.  How many action movies have heroes listening to country music?  Then you have the villain, almost always a pretentious intellectual, with classical music playing in the background.  Because no civilized, decent person listens to that stuff, right?

9. Good guys associated with down-home culture
This kinda ties into the last one, but there’s another angle to talk about.  You know what I loved?  V For Vendetta.  In that movie, we have a hero who is not only a terrorist, but he is well-spoken, eloquent, quoting Shakespeare, and driven by ideals rather than just because he wants to do the right thing.  You know what I get to see in almost all other movies?  Heroes who are bland, boring, and associated with all the things that you see in Americana.  Because how will people relate to someone if they aren’t a blank slate to wear as a skin?!  The irony is that Marvel made fun of that in how everyone poked fun at what a fuddy-duddy Captain America is.  Quentin Tarantino did too in Inglorious Basterds, where you have the upstanding British officer talking with Aldo about what a lunatic one of his men in his outfit is, and Aldo just brushes that off because he’s an uncivilized basterd in his own right.

8. Films blatantly shoving a political message down your throat
When I say this, I’m talking about modern movies that are not even remotely subtle about the message they are pushing, like a LOT of what Disney has produced in the last few years.  The biggest one that comes to mind is Black Panther.  Part of why I couldn’t stand the film was because of the politics being shoved in my face throughout the entire running time.  I’m just sitting there like “could this film be any less subtle?”  It’s ironic, because when I first got to see the character in Civil War, I liked him because of how he was played not to just be a walking stereotype.  Then he gets his own movie and it couldn’t be any more blatant.  Another film that comes to mind in walking stereotypes is Spider-Man: Homecoming.  MJ’s character was the personification of a Tumblr feminist.  She really was.  It was insufferable every time she opened her mouth.

7. Endless explosions/noise in space
Did you know that space doesn’t have oxygen?  Apparently Hollywood doesn’t know that, because space sure does have a lot of shit blowing up in big, bright ways.  Not even like some flash and then gone because the air that keeps the explosion going is snuffed out.  No, it just goes on and on and on.  Also, did you notice that space is noisy as fuck?  Yeah, I was noticing that too.  Because sound carries SO well in a vacuum, right?  That lack of oxygen doesn’t get in the way of all the sound out in the void.  The film that immediately comes to mind as the worst offender in this regard is Armageddon.  Everything was burning space for forever.  It took me out of the scene, every time.

6. The endless sequels/remakes/reboots
Hollywood is out of ideas.  That’s it, they are.  It’s impossible to argue at this point.  How do I know this?  Did you know there is a fourth Toy Story movie coming out?  I did.  The teaser for it dropped today, and I’m like – where can they possibly go with this?!  The narrative was wrapped up REALLY nicely in the last film.  It brought the arc to a nice, clean stop.  It truly did feel like saying goodbye to friends because of how most people who watched it had been kids when the first movie came out, and now they got to say goodbye to their good friends.  Oh, and did you know that they are rebooting Shrek and Puss in Boots?  Why?!  They aren’t even that old!  They’re rebooting Twilight, for fuck’s sake!  Who asked for this?!  I honestly want to know.  It is abundantly clear that they are so addicted to quick cash and so void of any drive to try something new that they will scrap the bottom of whatever nostalgia barrel they can find.  It’s infuriating

5. Guys with facial hair in the military
How does this one not bother more people?  For a nation that’s as big on “god bless ‘Murica” as this one is, you’d think more people would be bothered by this.  But nope!  Probably because you can’t have a manly man unless he has himself a manly beard.  When I see guys who are supposed to be legit soldiers and they have facial hair while they are serving, it bugs me.  There are rules about these things, people!  Uniform regs exist for a reason.

4. The death of 2D animation
Do you think there is anyone left in this country who knows how to do this?  Probably not, given some of the crap this country puts out.  I mean, did you all watch the trailer for Thundercats Roar?  That had some of the shittiest animation I’ve ever seen.  The death of 2D animated films just depresses me.  I think of some of my favorite films, and how much effort went into making them beautiful with some incredible animation.  There is Don Bluth, the absolute master of intricate environments, and old-school Disney.  Ah, for the days before Disney was pure evil and sucking the bottom of their own barrel for quick cash-grabs. *cough*Aladdin Live-action remake!*cough* It saddens me to realize that this art form has died an unceremonious death.

3. Using CG instead of practical effects
Oh boy.  Let me say before I get into this that I don’t just hate CG on the merits of it.  I get what it is and why it exists.  And for some movies, it does wonders, when it’s used well.  Then there are the films that are smart enough to mix the effects and it looks like it’s actually something real.  Then you have shit like Jurassic World and it’s shit-tastic sequel.  Where the effects are so bad it is OBVIOUS that people are interacting with something that isn’t in the room with them.  Thankfully, you have some directors who are rebelling against this.  I swear, I think a computer murdered Chris Nolan’s family or something, because he will go to EXTREME lengths to not have to use digital effects.  Some of the stories about things he has done will blow your mind.  But can we PLEASE have some directors who will give practical effects a go?  Asking for a friend.

2. Films being set in other countries, with everyone speaking English (usually with shitty accents)
I rewatched Hunt for the Red October recently, and I was invited by a friend to a special screening of Hunter Killer tomorrow, and as I saw both the movie and the trailer for those films (respectively), I couldn’t help but notice – why is everyone speaking English?  It bothered me more in the former of those listed, because it starts with them speaking Russian, and then they just stop.  Why?!  They clearly know what subtitles are, so why do that?  It immediately hurts my suspension of disbelief in a movie when I see character who are supposed to be in a country where English is NOT their primary language speaking perfect English with a shitty accent.  Definitely the worst offender in this regard is Enemy at the Gates.  Good movie.  I like it, but hearing everyone with terrible accents hurt my ears.  Speaking of that movie…

And my top thing that I hate in movies (part deux) is…

1.Being in the cold and not seeing a character’s breath
Am I the only person that this bugs?  One of the reasons that I liked Enemy at the Gates is because you actually believe that it’s cold in Russia.  Seeing everyone’s breath was a great tool for selling me of the film’s setting.  But then you have a vast plethora of movies where people are all in big coats, and you are told how cold it is, but don’t see anyone’s breath.  Are they just unable to film in cold places?!  Is that what’s going on?  If so, then they need to work on that.  Maybe don’t spend the money on big CG effects that probably look like shit anyway and instead focus on proper setting.  Am I asking too much here?  Immediately slashes my suspension of disbelief into thirds when it happens.

What about you?  What things in movies bother you?  If you didn’t see yours on there, check out my first list, it might be there.  Let me know if you have additional ones in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“What do you know?  Haven’t you heard of suspension of disbelief?!” – Ed Wood, Ed Wood

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Halloween Specials

Once upon a time, I used to do posts for the holidays each year.  However, as time went on, I found I had less and less to say on the matter.  I try to do a yearly Thanksgiving post.  It’s important to remember what one is thankful for in life, after all.  Groj knows, some years it’s hard to know.  However, a person who regularly comments on my site posed a rather interesting thought on my Top 10 Christmas Specials post – what are my top 10 Halloween specials?  I liked the thought, and while it is a little early to the holiday, I figured that I would post this.

As with my Christmas special post, I will say that not all of these movies are specifically about Halloween.  Some of them are either using the imagery or the time of year, but when I think of this holiday, these are the pieces of fiction that immediately come to mind.  Let us begin this mostly-frightful voyage.

10. The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror
Some of you are probably asking – why is this so low on the list?  I’ll tell you – because the fucking show is still going!  The most common refrain is that it is high time for The Simpsons to end.  This is a criticism that is not without merit.  This series has gone on so long that even some of the cast members are dying.  When I saw that they were making a film, I thought that that was where it was going to end.  And given that the movie was funny, it would have been a good place.  However, it still goes.
That being said, while not all of these yearly specials are great, some of the most memorable moments from the franchise come from these episodes.  They are creative, weird, got more violent as the showrunners found they could get away with more stuff, and while the series was good, told some engrossing stories.  One even got James Earl Jones to narrate Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.  It was pretty great stuff.  Were it that this series had had the good sense to end when it was creatively bankrupt, it would be so much higher on this list.

9. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Carlie Brown
There’s something so charming about the Charlie Brown animated specials.  Each of them is memorable in its own way.  The story of Linus believing in the great pumpkin, while all Charlie Brown gets in his bag for trick or treating is a rock, is charming.  However, the thing which always sticks with me about this special was the story of Snoopy as the Red Baron.  The narrative is fun, and the imagery is good.  These shorts are never the best, but the quirky animation and the cutesy aesthetic sticks with me, even to this day.

8. Monster House
This is a movie which debuted without a lot of fanfare, but it really is an underrated gem of the holiday. Telling the story of a mysterious house that gobbles up whatever enters the yard, it becomes a mystery of two young boys and then later on an unlucky Girl Scout trying to solve the mystery of what evil force has possessed the home and then stopping it.  A CG film, the animation is cute, the characters are fun, the dialogue is great, and the narrative is engaging.  I remember seeing this in theaters with a girl I was into when it came out, and it still sticks with me.  Most of you probably haven’t heard of it, but you should check it out.  It’s a good scary film for kids.

7. Donnie Darko
The only good movie ever to come from this director.  The story of the titular character, his dark visions, and the meaning of it all is set around Halloween.  The story ends on Halloween night.  Donnie Darko is an interesting character.  Depressed, he wants to find out the answers to what’s happening.  The thing that really engages me is the world of his visions, and how it affects all the characters in his life.  This is a very downer movie, but that isn’t a bad thing.  You keep with the narrative all through it, until Donnie gets to the end.  Not a scary film, but a dramatic one.  Unraveling a mystery of greater forces at work in the life of a teenager and how his unraveling brings so much to light around him.  Worth watching, in my opinion.

6. The Crow
The tragic tale of Brandon Lee, whose career in action films was stopped before it could even start.  Something a lot of people don’t seem to acknowledge is that this film is set in the Halloween season.  The climax is leading up to a series of fires that is going to be started on Devil’s Night.  The night before Halloween.  Telling the story of Eric Draven, a fallen rocker who is brought back from the dead to get revenge.  By far one of my favorite superhero movies, this dark film and Lee’s amazing acting brings this story to life like none other.  I love it.  Really sucks that Lee didn’t get to go on from here.  I can only imagine what a bright future he would have had.

5. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
I could make an entire list of my favorite of the animated Garfield specials.  The late Lorenzo Music gave his voice to a character who is so iconic.  There will never be another who can do the voice quite like him.  This tells the tale of Garfield being an asshole and getting Odie to help him get more candy, while planning on taking most of it for himself.  However, after a terrible idea of his causes him to end up at an island on the river, he finds that this night has more than just a little bad luck for him.  It’s cute, it’s fun, and Music is in top form.  What more is there to want?

4. Ginger Snaps
One of my favorite horror movies, this low-budget film tells the tale of two sisters.  The first is Ginger, domineering, mean-spirited, and cold.  The second is Bridgette.  She’s kind-natured, loyal to her sister to whatever end, and infinitely more submissive.  After being attacked by a werewolf, it is the submissive sister who tries to hold things together as his dominant sister is slowly turning into a monster.  This is a very well told story of family, loyalty, and how far you will go to protect the ones you love.  It all hinges on the relationship of the sisters, and I’m glad to say that they do amazingly in their respective roles.  Ginger grows more sassy and sexy, while there is a charm to Bridgette’s kind submissiveness.  The creature designs are cool, the tension is great, and the violence is so hardcore.  And since it all ends on Halloween night, the time is perfect to see it if you haven’t already.

3. Sleepy Hollow
While this film isn’t set on Halloween, the imagery associated with it is all over this movie.  It’s pretty great stuff.  When it came out, a lot of critics didn’t know what to think of it.  The gore effects are silly, the acting is almost-universally over-the-top, but it tells an engrossing who-dun-it narrative where you already know part of it.  As for me, when this movie came out, I was in love.  The same girly-mate I saw Monster House with used to own this movie, and I loved seeing it.  Johnny Depp was in form here.  Ah, for the days before his weirdness in movies was typecast.  It seems like so long ago, doesn’t it?  Telling the tale of a headless horseman who is cutting the heads off everyone, Depp is on a mission to find out why this is happening, and who is responsible.  Neat fact: for whatever reason, Christopher Walken wasn’t credited in the movie as the Horseman.  I will never get why that was the case.  It’s distinctive cinematography, kooky gory violence, and Christina Ricci in her best years.  There isn’t much about this film I don’t like.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Perhaps this is kind of cheating, since I put this on my Christmas Specials list as well, but the beauty of this movie is that it works for both holidays.  Here’s a movie that has kind of gotten lost in its own popularity.  People seem to forget that this is a simple story.  A fairytale about the Pumpkin King becoming disenfranchised with his own holiday and wanting something new.  It’s a very cute story, telling Jack Skellington’s tale.  The visuals are amazing.  The stop-motion animation was the best in its class.  This film has aged so well, and the music was Danny Elfman at his best, especially for Jack’s singing roles.  It got insanely popular because of the nostalgia age we live in thanks to the Internet, but I still love this film for exactly what it is.

And my favorite Halloween special is…

1. Trick ‘r Treat
Another neat fact: the same guy who directed the Christmas horror classic Krampus first directed this, and holy shit!  This guy has a real eye for capturing the spirit of a holiday in his movies.  Kinda makes me hope he does more holiday-themed horror movies.  Or at least does horror with clear inspirations that can show how much due diligence was done to capture it.  This movie is a masterpiece of its genre.  There is no film that I can think of that captures the nature of Halloween better than this movie.  Telling a series of stories, all tied together by a creepy child, each story is unique and twisted in its own way.  If you want a good movie that you can watch with your friends telling an anthology of horror stories that make the most of this holiday setting, you genuinely can’t go wrong.  This director has a gift, and I hope to see more of his works in the future.

What about you?  What are your favorite Halloween specials?  Let me know down below.  Until next time, a quote,

“Halloween’s my kind of a holiday.  It’s not like those other stupid holidays.  I don’t get pine needles in my paws.  There’s no dumb bunnies.  No fireworks.  No relatives.  Just candy!” – Garfield, Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Michael Crichton Books

I don’t know how many of you reading this know, but my favorite author is Michael Crichton.  This man had a gift at taking real world concepts and taking them to the next level.  Or finding things that were in the zeitgeist and looking at them from another way.  Then there were his books about medicine, for which he graduated from Harvard.  As well as his books about crime and corporate espionage.  The man even took a stab at historical fiction, and with the exception of the lost manuscript that just got released (I genuinely didn’t like Dragon’s Teeth.  At all.  I thought it was boring as fuck.  Perhaps there’s a reason it was a lost manuscript), he nailed it!  Crichton was a master of the craft, and while I didn’t always agree with everything in his novels (such as in State of Fear, where he makes clear his belief about climate change and what he believes in mankind not being involved in it), I could always read them and be engaged, left with things to ponder.  Here is my list of my 10 favorite.

10. The Terminal Man
It’s so interesting to read this book.  It was written in 1972, and the concepts within it are more terrifying now than they were then.  But Crichton says outright in the beginning that while these concepts are scary, they’re real.  A story about a man who has seizures that cause him to be both violent and stronger, he is brought into a hospital for a new kind of treatment.  It will put wires into his brain to stimulate the parts of his mind during a seizure to stave it off.  However, this man has a twisted psychosis that leads him to escape after the procedure, with a dark plan.  This book is violent, tense, and the concepts within it terrifying.  Mind control is a concept that people talk about today, and mechanisms that could cause it existed then.  Think about that.

9. Rising Sun
A combination book of two things that Crichton does very well – crime novels and corporate espionage.  A story about two detectives who are investigating a murder at a Japanese corporate party.  This book looks at Japanese business, in a way that is not always flattering.  You have two different perspectives on it, so you can see the juxtaposition in approaches to how people treat the Japanese.  It’s also interesting with this stuff and the time period that it was written in, vs how things are now.  The west likes to believe that we get things, but in reality, the countries that aren’t our own are often as alien to us as life on another planet would be.  This is a book of intrigue and culture, and only Crichton could get skate on ice this thin without falling through.

8. A Case of Need
It’s ironic the timing of this.  During a new Supreme Court nomination, where countless people are wondering if Roe v Wade is going to be overturned.  This book also looked at abortion, but during a very different time.  Published in 1968, this book tells the story of a man who is framed for a botched abortion which results in the death of a young woman.  He gets a dear friend to investigate and find out the truth, saving both him and his reputation.  Before abortion was legal, where unsafe abortions killed countless women, this book took a look at the concept with an eye of critical skepticism.  It’s clear that Crichton was on the side of those who wanted legal abortion for women, but he decided to give this book a hard medical approach, along with a decent mystery.  In today’s climate, this book is definitely worth checking out.

7. Airframe
A corporate espionage story through-and-through, this book holds a special place for me because of the subject matter.  Neat fact – I’m afraid of flying.  I hate it.  It ties nicely into my fear of heights.  A fact that many have sniggered at due to how unfathomably tall I am.  Yes, this fact does amuse me to some degree.  Telling the story of an airplane manufacturing company (do they even have these in this country anymore?  I figure all that shit was outsourced years ago) who is tasked with investigating the cause of a horrifying accident, it is a story of corporate greed, corruption, and why people REALLY should be more afraid of being in airplanes.  It’s mired in corporate speak, but Crichton takes you through it.  He loves to have little digressions to talk about whatever subject matter is in his books.  Partly to help you understand, and partly because he clearly wants to show off how much research he did to write them.  This book is among the best in this genre, and if you aren’t afraid of flying, it will help with that.

6. Pirate Latitudes
When I was given this book, 1st Edition, for Christmas one year, I was unsure what to think.  A historical fiction book by Michael Crichton?  I mean, Timeline was great and all, but this just seems a little outlandish.  Then I started to read, and all my doubts evaporated.  Telling the story of a privateer who is given a task to raid an island that has equal parts danger and opportunity, this story is mired in Crichton’s ability to show off his research, and the adventure factor of a great pirate story.  It genuinely shocked me how good this book is.  These characters and their adventure feels so grounded in what could actually happen.  It doesn’t have the rosy view of pirates.  No, these people are gross, immoral people.  But Crichton has a gift at making those you shouldn’t like feel so fun to get to know.  A trip to the high seas you won’t forget.

5. Sphere
This novel is a little bit different.  Instead of Crichton showcasing his research, he wanted to show off his ability to use mood and setting to his advantage.  Telling the story of a man who once made a plan on how to deal with first contact with aliens, he gets a chance to do just that as a craft has been discovered at the bottom of the ocean.  What follows is a supremely suspenseful novel about terror at the bottom of the sea, and a device that has powers that defy all comprehension.  Crichton is able to make the deep ocean seem more threatening than anyone though possible.  Telling a story with tons of The Abyss before that film was a thing, it’s a novel to make your skin crawl.

4. Disclosure
This novel really seemed ahead of its time, looking at where we are now in terms of gender politics.  Combining a VERY touchy subject with his corporate espionage style, this novel tells the story of a man who works for a computer company.  A woman is hired that he used to be involved with.  After she tries to make a move on him and he rejects her, she comes after him with a sexual harassment suit.  From there, he does something that would be ballsy even to this day – files a sexual harassment suit right back, getting a lawyer who is a big-time feminist.  Taking on the concept of gender politics in the time when this was written could EASILY have blown up in his face, but Crichton doesn’t back down from his perspective.  He shows that it is possible for women to abuse their power and sexuality as a man, along with be corrupt and vile.  He doesn’t shy away from the implications.  It’s a daring novel, and I think that it has more relevance now than it did when it came out.

3. The Andromeda Strain
The novel that helped put Crichton on the map.  The first work of his to be adapted to film, and probably the only one done right.  This story was revolutionary for its time, and it has aged exceptionally well.  It takes the perspective that what if alien life that comes to our world isn’t some big monster, but rather something so small that you can’t see it with the naked eye?  A probe crashed back to Earth after having gone to find alien life, and it came back with something in tow.  An alien pathogen that kills the entirety of a small town.  Now, a group of some of the best scientists in the world comes together to try and figure out how to stop it.  This novel is tense.  The process of learning about this infection and what it is will leave you on the edge of your seat.  It’s a mind-bender, to say the least, and I am still shocked by it even to this day, because of how it takes concepts from time gone by and takes the next step in terms of technology.  A first contact story unlike any other.

2. Jurassic Park
Definitely the most famous of Crichton’s books.  A novel that tells the story of an eccentric billionaire who used cloning to create an island full of dinosaurs.  However, there are several things about the novel that separate it from the movie and make it far better.  For starters, this novel builds up the reality of dinosaurs existing in a way that the film doesn’t.  It’s a process of the world getting hints about them, only for a small team of people to be given the full reveal.  Not only that, but it looks at the creatures themselves, and what they would be like.  This isn’t just some monster movie.  It’s a tale about animals from 65 million years ago being brought back to life, thrown in the mix with mankind.  It’s a story where survivors are trying to get everything sorted out, and learn what they are up against.  The parts of the story examining what these animals are are fascinating.  It’s a shame the film didn’t take the time to really dive into that.  But you gotta entertain the dim-witted American audience (I do like the movie, by the way.  However, my point stands).  Not nearly as violent and creature-feature as the film, with some amazing science every step of the way.

And my favorite of Crichton’s books is…

1. Prey
Some of you saw this coming if I have any readers who read my post about my top 10 favorite books.  Not only is this my favorite book by Crichton, it’s my favorite book of all time.  This is him at his best.  Him taking real science and going the next step the way that only Crichton could.  It’s a nightmarish, fascinating, tense story about a corporate that creates nanomachines and how swarms of them get out into the wild.  Now, an out of work father who wrote the code that these machines are governed by has to get back into it, to solve the mystery of what his wife was doing away from home, and to save the family he has worked so hard to cultivate.  This book is a masterpiece, plain and simple.  It has Crichton showing his research like never before.  Though, if you find that stuff self-indulgent, you will hate this book.  There are long sections where he gets into some scientific or philosophical concepts and will carry that on for some time.  It’s pretty great stuff.  These machines, how they are created, and what they become, is a story that will have you spellbound, turning pages like it’s nobody’s business to get to the end.

What are some of your favorites?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“They didn’t know what they were doing.  Sometimes I wonder if that will be humanity’s epitaph.” – Jack Forman, Prey

Peace out,

Maverick