Author Archives: The Cool Ship

What The Cool Ship is Thankful For

We here at The Cool Ship would like to take a moment from our hectic holiday schedules and tell all our wonderful readers what we give thanks for.

Rob A.

I am incredibly thankful for my outstanding wife and daughter, who fill my heart and soul with such love and joy everyday of my life. For the wonderful family that was included in the deal when I got married. They’re an unbelievably welcoming and caring group of people, who have accepted me as one of the family since day one. A guy couldn’t ask for better. For my family on my dad’s side, who are there for me no matter what, always supporting and loving. For my true friends, the ones who are there through thick and thin. For my fellow Cool Shippers because you gotta have a great crew to pilot a ship this awesome. For Doctor Who (no joke), because I’m sure many of you out there will understand, it truly does bring such wonder and magic and feels of all kinds into your life. Doctor Who isn’t just a show, Doctor Who is a way of life. I’m thankful that I’m happy, healthy, and able to take care of my family. I’d be more thankful if I had a better job but this isn’t the time to complain. And last but certainly not least, I’m thankful for all of you, the readers. Without you, we’d have no reason to keep doing this, day in, day out. Seriously, without readers, we’d just be keeping an online journal that no one reads. So thank you for your continued support. You guys are the best!

J. Fortune

I am thankful for my wife and son (soon to be sons!!) and the blessed life we lead. I am thankful to live in a country where I can write, read, or say whatever I please, and for the men and women who have made, and continue to make that possible. I am thankful that because of pizza and other fine Italian foods we need not question the existence of our Creator or His love for us. Finally, for entertainment. For the idea we as a nation have time to sit and stare at art that has been created simply for our appreciation (or in my case critique), I am truly thankful. Have a fantastic holiday.

Colleen K.

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. I mean, I do every year, but this year stands out. I’m thankful to my husband, my friends, my family, The Cool Ship staff, and the thousands of people around the world who supported my catcalling campaign with Hollaback!. (Not sure what I’m talking about? Catch up here and here.) I’m glad that I have a job that I like. I’m glad I work from home meaning that I never really have to change out of yoga pants unless I’m leaving the house and not on my way to yoga in which case I put on jeans.

I’m grateful that my first full year of marriage was like a “Get Psyched” mix tape made by Barney Stinson – it just gets even more awesome the more you get into it.

And I’m grateful to the readers of The Cool Ship. You guys are intelligent, funny, and a wonderful community who I am glad to write for. A toast to you!

TJ J.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had this year: From meeting folks at Gen Con to expanding my freelance career, this has been a good 12 months.

I am, of course, thankful for my wife and my kids, all of whom can drive me crazy, or amaze me, but still gift to me the love and support I so desperately need.

I’m thankful for The Cool Ship. It gives me a creative outlet and lets me write about the extremely dorky things I love, like board games.

I’m thankful for my friends. Whether we talk every day or go months without speaking, I am immensely grateful for the people who are close to me.

I am thankful for the massive amounts of food I am going to consume tomorrow. Much like Galactus destroys planets, I plan on destroying turkey like I was the last survivor of the previous universe who was chosen to become a demigod that keeps the cosmic balance by eating turkey.

Finally, I am thankful for whoever reads this. Seriously, God bless you and yours. I hope that  the next 12 months will be better than the previous. Thank you.

For one for all - high fives!!!!! [Gif courtesy of celebuzz.com]

For one for all – high fives!!!!! [Gif courtesy of celebuzz.com]

From all of us, here at The Cool Ship, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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The Cool Ship Watches: Breaking Dawn: Part 2

The latest and last installment of The Twilight Saga was released on Thursday night, and droves went to see it, waiting in lines, crying, and other such tomfoolery. Several The Cool Ship crew members braved the excitable crowds to see Breaking Dawn: Part 2. (They did it for Part 1, too.) Here’s what we thought (SPOILER ALERT!):

Gabrielle Johnston – The conclusion to The Twilight Saga fell with a decided thud. At least, it did in my theater. But, I know I may have been in a minority…since I respect myself, can do simple mathematics, and recognize that I don’t need a man to complete my soul.

Image courtesy of IMDB.

Breaking Dawn: Part 2 was a contrived piece of tripe that wavered between halfway amusing fake vampire-y antics (Look! Bella can beat the big dude at arm wrestling! Oooo! She sparkles, now!) and soul-crushing boredom in strained conversations. And can we talk about how Renesmee’s creepy CG face moved independently of her head? It was terrible!

The best part of this movie wasn’t even for real! But, for several minutes, I was prepared to sing its praises to the sky; it had redeemed itself by going off-book and throwing fans under the bus by killing Carlisle and Jasper. And it was done with such pizzazz not seen in any combination of  previous Twilights 1-4.

Heads were ripped off! Necks were broken! The freaking Earth was opened to what I have to assume was its very core! AND vampires and werewolves got chucked in to their fiery deaths! YES! It was a healthy dose of comeuppance sorely needed in this fantasy land where actions don’t matter all that much. Frankly, it was refreshing!

But, it was all a hoax (CRAP!), a vision that seer Alice showed head Volturi Aro to dissuade him from a battle that would have been infinitely more interesting than anything else that has ever happened in ANY of these movies.

Sigh!

When Alice’s vision was revealed, I was honestly disappointed. It wasn’t because I hate any of the characters; they each have their own harmless charm, I suppose. It was because we saw what this movie could have been! We saw what director Bill Condon WANTED to make it. But, he couldn’t, so he threw some of us a bone and made the best five minutes of the entire movie series.

I know I’m not the intended audience for this movie or any of the other Twilight movies, but good storytelling holds true across any divides. The fact is that this series, whether you’re talking about the books or the movies, is poorly conceived and written, with questionable themes and unhealthy obsessions. Even its star, Robert Pattinson, had issues with it!

But, I guess I can’t blame the movies totally. After all, they’re based on books. So, the blame is ultimately laid at the feet of Stephanie Meyer, a woman who had a dream about a sparkly hot guy.

John Calhoun – What’s left to say? (These movies are awful; so much so that their poor quality is practically iconic.)

The acting was painfully wooden –an incredible mystery when you consider the generally positive reviews that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart garner in their other films. The lighting was awful. Everything was too bright and too sunny in a place that’s supposed to lack sun so vampires can hide. I hate that I miss the tinted, blue look of the first film.

Dare to compare.

Smurftastic!

All the stuff people have always hated about these movies is still there, with an extra helping of CGI baby face. In short, this is the same movie we’ve been watching since New Moon.

But, it’s important to highlight the one thing Twilight 4.2 almost got right. I’ve read the books (though I am not a fan), and this movie is so close to achieving greatness in spite of how bad EVERY aspect was.

Gabrielle outlined Alice’s vision in her own section, but it deserves another mention since it’s the only good part of the movie.

After an hour of the standard conversation, conversation, funny remark, conversation formula, the climax of the series was a face off between the Cullen family and the Volturi. At the end of the books, the Cullen clan talk the Volturi out of killing them by pulling together a big group of allies and furnishing evidence that Ed and Bella’s daughter isn’t an immortal child. Both groups walk away without exchanging blows, and the Cullen family lives happily ever after.

So, imagine my surprise when father Cullen gets his head torn off and SET ON FIRE! And then, a huge fight ensues! People are just dying all over the place! I watched a teenager get his werewolf neck snapped and twitch to death.

I can only wonder what it was like for people that hadn’t read the books because the entire movie theatre freaked out. Everyone lost their shit and panicked as protagonist after protagonist got the ax, throwing Stephanie Myer’s final work aside for a more interesting conclusion.

For four beautiful minutes nothing was off the table. Anyone could die, and no one knew how this movie would end! Anything, anywhere was possible. Would Disney announce a reboot of Star Wars episodes 1-6? Would James Bond die in Skyfall? Would the movie industry finally release us from the iron cage of formulaic writing?

I was elated! I was shocked! I was ready to give this movie the best score of any review I’ve ever done!

And then, the realities of an industry’s obsequious politics set in. And yes, I’m ashamed that the movie tricked me. I’d give the movie 1 out of 5 for accomplishing that and nothing else.

Colleen Kiphart (Editor’s Note: Colleen didn’t actually see Breaking Dawn: Part 2, but she thought she could wing it. Let us know how it goes in the comments…)– As the editor has probably noted, I haven’t actually watched this movie. I really don’t see that as a problem. I’ve never let facts stand in the way of a good review!

Aren’t you jealous?

When this movie came out, I was honeymooning slightly to the left of the grid in Jamaica. But, I did watch part of Twilight while getting blitzed on local rum at a place called House of Bluez (Yes, I’m bragging at this point, but I’m back to reality, now.).

So, to the review!

Bella is a now a superhero/glitter bomb/ teen mom/ engaged and underage chimera. She’s deceiving Edward to save her magic vampire baby! How bad-ass! From what I can tell from the previews, she expresses this by wearing black leather, smiling twice (but making her regular “Who farted?” face the rest of the time), and stiffly hugging the preternaturally precocious child actor next to her in the manner of a great ape.

Edward alternately broods and smiles with his mouth permanently screwed like he’s trying to keep in his dentures. Wolfie never locates a shirt, but makes us all want to call Chris Hansen with the way he looks at Reneesemaybethiswasaterriblenameidea.

In conclusion, I will probably never see this movie, but I feel like I have. You’re welcome, Internet.

Rob Allyn – I’m gonna make this short and sweet, because I feel like phoning this one in. I mean, I am literally writing this on my phone, and it takes forever to do. I love and hate technology.

Anyway, unlike Colleen, I have seen this film. I was convinced by my girlfriend to go as a way to celebrate our anniversary since we didn’t get to on an actual date.

As a person who absolutely hates everything Twilight, this is difficult for me to say but… I liked this film. Don’t get me wrong, it did have some awful moments but for the most part, it was the most watchable of the series.

First, the bad: Kristen Stewart; the CGI face of the child throughout the film; the CGI of the vampires running throughout the film; the part where everything turns out to be a vision, and no one dies; and Kristen Stewart sharing the sappy memory montage with Robert Pattinson about how much she loves him.

Now, the good: Lee Pace playing a kick-ass vampire; Michael Sheen’s laugh when hears the little girl’s heart beating; and (the thing that redeemed the whole film) the EPIC final fight scene! Dear lord, that was sweet! Probably one the best I’ve seen in a long time. I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing. I was even cheering “Die bitch, Die!” when they went after Dakota Fanning’s character.

So freaking good. I’d watch the film again just to see that fight scene.

I still hate all of the others, but this one was pretty good.

And that’s my review.

 

((Featured image courtesy of breakingdawn-themovie.com and can be found at http://www.breakingdawn-themovie.com/.))

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The Ending Has No End: Thoughts On The Ending Of Mass Effect 3

By: Danielle Peterson

I have not taken many bold or unpopular stances in my life, and rarely have I shared them with strangers, but step back because I am about to toss down one mighty unpopular opinion-I think that the ending to Mass Effect 3 was good.

Admittedly, I had a different exposure to it. I played Mass Effect 2 after the whole ending debacle earlier this year; the reason I did so was because I supposed that if so many nerds were so angry about it, then it must be a pretty good game to begin with. I was not disappointed with ME2 and bought ME3 after the EC DLC was made available. I installed it before the end, so I never saw the original endings. So, as someone who never saw the original ending, I can provide insight without my previous opinion tainting said insight.

Choice is a big theme in the Mass Effect series. Choices make who we are, and those choices have consequences. A lot of people have complained that the ending was “press the button you want for your ending”. I don’t argue that that’s what happened, but I believe it was intentional. In conversations with EDI, one of the more salient points was that sapient beings make their own decisions. The ending was a decision, and I believe that was an appropriate thematic choice. Choice is what makes a “soulled” AI different from VI or “soulless” AI, at least in my view. VI can only do what it’s programmed to do (or not, although to know the exact opposite of its programming is still a limitation of its programming), but sophisticated/ “soulled” AI can chose what to do, like EDI and the geth.

Secondly, the ending asks you to come to your own conclusions. I like that. It makes the game last longer and gives it an afterlife. Shepard was the first organic to be able to speak to the AI/God/Boy that was the collective consciousness/boss of The Reapers. Rather than leaving Shepard to die, the AI/God/Boy chose to speak with Shepard. Not only that, but it presented Shepard with ways to break the cycle. Why did it do that? What was the catalyst that made this cycle so different from the ones before it?

My theory is that the conflict between organic and synthetics was no longer a certainty. The AI/God/Boy was aware of this, partially because of the choice that the heretic geth made to worship The Reapers. That the geth were able to form factions was a sign that they had evolved past merely AI and into true sapience (EDI’s storyline serves to reinforce this idea). In addition, aside from the heretics, the geth are some of the more reasonable beings in the galaxy. They kept to themselves and didn’t invade other systems. The quarians are at fault for the conflict. The geth have retained the label bestowed on them by quarians (literally meaning servant), which is an indicator of their sentimental relationship with the “Creators”. They do not seek conflict, yet they defend their own existence. Geth could choose to live anywhere as they are not bound by the restrictions of organic life, but they have an attachment to their homeworld, just as other species do.

Legion informs Tali that the geth maintain the homeworld for the return of the Creators. Just the word “Creator” implies respect and even affection for the quarians. They regret the deaths of quarians, yet the quarians that seek peace with the geth are considered to be fringe. The geth have been tempered in fire, during which they have developed the qualities of the Citadel races. AI/God/Boy recognizes this via the heretic geth interaction, and, combined with the tenacity of organics (embodied in Shepard, who, regardless of whether you are a paragon or a renegade, is the personification of sapient organic nature) recognizes that the cycle need not be continued. The organics have finally done their part by completing the Crucible, proving that they can be as smart and efficient as synthetics, and the synthetics have done their part by evolving souls, proving that they can understand organic reasoning.

A short sidebar here: humans have only been on the scene for some thirty years, but in less time than it takes for a highway to be built, we are saving the galaxy. This is side effect of how great we think our own species is. It’s usually presented in the framework of a Goldilock’s Zone: we aren’t as brutish and uncivilized as those Krogan/Klingon/Dwarves; however, we aren’t too smart and cold, like those Vulcan/Salarians/Elves. We are juuuuuust right.

The Reapers themselves are “soulless” AI, unlike the geth and EDI, who have evolved “souls.” The AI/God/Boy knows from its programming that The Reapers are no longer necessary since synthetics have evolved “souls,” so conflict is no longer a certainty because synthetics and organics are finally analogs of each other–albeit in a very early stage. But, as a “soulless” AI, the AI/God/Boy  is unable to make the choice, which is why Shepard must make the choice.. since the Reapers cannot.

I could elaborate, but that isn’t the point of this article. The point is that I came up with that theory because the game gave me the choice to do so. It didn’t hold my hand, nor did it give me a big explosion where Shepard is carried up to Space Heaven by space eagles (although it did rely heavily on “space magic,” but hey, that’s a given when you are suspending the rules of physics enough to enable faster than light travel). I am sure lots of people who have put effort into it have come up with their own theories. The beauty of the ending is that these theories can exist.

People have accused the writers of being lazy hacks, but I believe they wrote a massive backstory and have left it up to you to make the ending, should you be inclined to. Not traditional writing, sure, but there are too many variables to make a singular ending that would have satisfied everyone. They have given you the threads, and it’s up to you to weave them together.

Danielle Peterson wrote a book (that isn’t about a video games) and has a website.

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