Animated Women Actually Exist: Reviewing ‘Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China’



Assassin’s Creed Chronicles opens with Shao Jun stuck in a dangling cage. She is being held captive by a ‘group of corrupt eunuchs’ (i.e. Templars). It is also revealed that she was once a concubine. I feel that something could be read into this. I don’t know quite what. Maybe it’s an aggressively sex-positive story.

The game itself is a 2.5D stealth platformer. Presumably as a result of the loss of half a dimension, women have become easier for Ubisoft to animate, and so the lead for the first installment of Chronicles is a woman. Shao Jun may even be familiar to those who saw Assassin’s Creed: Embers, an animated short in which she meets Ezio Auditore—the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood. The story features the box which Ezio gave her, the Precursor box that appears throughout the Assassin’s Creed series. The actual plot is fairly sparse…

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Do You Experience Female Gamer Privilege?

In response to a recent article about Male Gamer Privilege by Johnathan McIntosh I decided to explore the other half of the equation.  What is Female Gamer Privilege?


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The Ellen Page Of It All

ImageClick the image above to read my latest manifesto for which explores the importance of Ellen Page and Ellie coming out on the same day and what it says about all forms of Entertainment.  Enjoy!!!

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Cyber Harassment in Video Games


Last week I got the chance to talk to Jenny Haniver the creator of the Not in the Kitchen Anymore website.  We discussed how a recent rape threat she received took far to long to be acted on by Microsoft and what that says about the way threats are dealt with in the current claim reporting system.

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Vide Game Review: Dead Island Riptide

When are we going to have a true open world zombie survival horror game that doesn’t make us feel like we’re the brain dead zombies?



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My review for Fable: The Journey

I know I haven’t posted in a while but I’m going to try and get back on top of things.  Just recently I was asked to review the lastest installment of the Fable franchise for  It was a painful experience, but don’t take my word for it, checkout the review.


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Movie Copycats # 15: “A Trick is Something a Whore Does for Money.”

The Victims: Fans of turn of the century based literature.

The Perpetrators: 

The Illusionist - Bull's Eye Entertainment (September 1st 2006) Directed by Neil Burger, Based on the short story ""Eisenheim the Illusionist", by Steven Millhauser, Adapted by Neil Burger.

The Prestige - Touchstone Pictures (October 20th 2006) Directed by Christopher Nolan, Based on the Novel by Christopher Priest, Adapted by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan

Similarities: Both films are about magicians in turn of the 20th century Europe with tricks that defy reality.  There’s also a dash of romance thrown in along the way.

Differences: Although both films are set during the same time period and deal with discovering secrets behind magic tricks, the sub genres of the two films are very different.  The Illusionist comes across as a Romeo and Juliet type political thriller and The Prestige is more like a tragic science fiction crime thriller.  I know that seems like a lot to shove into either film but both succeed in handling the different facets of their stories very well.


*Spoiler Alert*

Jessica Biel and Edward Norton - (The Illusionist 2006)

In The Illusionist, the magician Eisenheim (Edward Norton) comes to fame after a less than privileged youth as the poor son of a cabinetmaker.  In his youth he befriends the Duchess Sophie (Jessica Biel) and falls in love.  As is tradition in such cases of drastic social differences they can not be together so Eisenheim goes off to become an amazing magician and Sophie goes on to live the life a noble woman should live.  They end up

Rufus Sewell - (The Illusionist 2006)

reuniting at the peak of Eisenheim’s success at one of his shows where they rekindle their love affair.  Of course this doesn’t bode well with Spohie’s fiance’ the notorious Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell).  Leopold hires Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to follow them and in turn he becomes the character in the script obbsessed with discovering the magician’s secrets.  A chracter type common in both films I suppose it’s necessary in a film about a “illusionist” . . .

Pual Giamati - (The Illusionist 2006)

Sophie enlists the help of Eisenheim in order to prevent Leopold from assinating his father in order to gain control of the throne.  However Leopold confronts Sophie and after she mysteriously disapears it is rumored that Leopold has murdered her.  Eisenheim is put under suspicion by Leopold and Inspector Uhl is sent to investigate him.  Basically Eisenheim puts in motion a sequence of events that gains retribution for Sophie who was “murdered”, leading the Inspector to Leopold who kills himself when confronted with his guilt.  It’s very Shawshank . . . that includes the ending *wink*.


Hugh Jackman - (The Prestige 2006)

Christian Bale - (The Prestige 2006)

The Prestige sets off like a crime thriller with magician Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) on trial for the murder of his colleague/rival Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman).  Flashing back to when Borden and Angier were first making a name for themselves we see that the two were friends.  While working under another magician Angier’s wife Julia McCullough (Piper Perabo) dies when a trick goes horribly wrong.  Since Borden assisted on this particular trick Angier blames him and they begin rival careers.  Angier copies Borden’s work until he comes across a trick he cannot mimic.  This sets him off to discover Borden’s secrets and steal them from him.

Scarlet Johansen - (The Prestige 2006)

Piper Perabo - (The Prestige 2006)

It sets in motion a very complex web of events with Borden marrying Sarah Borden (Rebecca Hall) and having a daughter, Jess (Samantha Mahurin).  While he lives his happy life and successful career Angier can only think of sabotaging him and finding out the inner workings of his act.  He enlists his assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) to find out his secrets but she ends up falling for Borden and turning on Angier.  Women.

David Bowie - (The Prestige 2006)

After a series of double crosses and intimidation Angier is able to discover that Borden enlisted the help of one Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) in his most notorious act, “The Transported Man”.  All I will go onto say is that the technology Tesla has designed is used to assist Borden and Angier but one chooses to use it in a far more sinister way then the other.


Verdict: This one is a tie.  Both of these films are well crafted by Directors who really respected the original stories they were based on.  This is just another example of how a filmmaker having their hand in the writing and production of a film results in a more cohesive and successful story.  Yes both films are very similar but the plots have enough difference to make them unique and fresh to watch on their own.  I will say that The Prestige is the film with the most richness in story which is mostly due to the fact that it is based on an extremely intricate novel and not just a short story like The Illusionist.  If you haven’t seen both you need to.

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Movie Copycats # 14: Operation Red Planet

Victims: Nerds and Ancient Astronaut theorists everywhere.


Mission to Mars (Touchstone Pictures March 2000) - Directed by Brian De Palma

Red Planet (Warner Bros. November 2000) - Directed by Antony Hoffman

Similarities: Both deal with space missions to Mars that go awry.

Differences: There are two distinct differences between these two films.  The time in which it takes place and the overall conflict of the plot.


*Spoiler Alert*

Red Planet takes place in 2056 and Earth is on the verge of a global crisis due to pollution and overpopulation.  The solution has been to alter the environment of Mars in order to make it habitable for humans.  They accomplish this through automated missions in which they “seed” Mars with Algae that releases oxygen into the atmosphere.  The Mars-1 crew is sent to investigate The Red Planet after planetary scans show the oxygen levels suddenly declining.

Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, and Val Kilmner - Red Planet (2000)

AMEE - (Red Planet 2000) - The AI that goes berserk once they land on Mars. Robots turning against humans . . . classic.

Overall the plot is a bit weak.  Pollution? Overpopulation?  All pretty predictable factors in a futuristic sci-fi movie so no surprises there. Lets take a look at the cast.  They must be a poorly roundup group of actors, right?  I mean you have Val Kilmer . . . wait umm . . . Carrie-Anne Moss . . . no, she’s the only woman in the damn movie . . . there’s your nerd bait.  Oh Tom Seizemore. . . wait but everyone kind of likes that guy . . . Simon Baker better known for his current role in The Mentalist . . . Benjamin Bratt  and the great Terence Stamp . . . WTF?  This isn’t a terrible cast.  The most unknown person working on this film is the the director Antony Hoffman, who never went on to make another film.


Don Cheadle - (Mission to Mars 2000)

Mission to Mars begins in the year 2020.  Not as much of a futuristic jump as Red Planet but a supposed glance into a would-be future none the less.  Like Red Planet it deals with humans trying to colonize Mars.  They are doing this by setting up space stations on the surface and building agriculture green-house like buildings where they can produce plants and in turn, a source of oxygen.  This first mission also dubbed Mars – 1 is led by astronaut Luke Graham, Don Cheadle.  Basically they encounter electronic interference one day and while on an expedition and get attacked by an unseen force.  They lose communication with Earth and everyone is thought to be dead. I have a link tot he video below because it’s pretty much the “oh ****” scene of the movie.

Gary Sinise leads the three men one woman crew of the Mars-2 rescue mission consiting of Jerry O’Connell, Connie Nielsen, and Tim Robbins.

Jerry O'Connell, Don Cheadle, Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, and Connie Nielsen - (Mission to Mars 2000)

Mission to Mars is much better than Red Planet.  Yes it deals with the fact that we are going to suffocate our planet with pollution in the future if we continue on they way we do but it doesn’t let that control the story.  Above all else it is a very typical rescue-action-drama.  It could take place in outer space or the old west with their compadres held captive by mountain men in Appalachia.  Either way, Gary Sinise is coming to get you.  Fully equipped with a scowly smile and baby blue eyeballs.

Gary Sinise and Jerry O'Connell

Once inside the face on Mars structure they realize that it is actually a monument left to them by their galactic ancestors telling them the secrets of how humans came to be on planet Earth.

Verdict: I think it’s pretty clear that I liked Mission to Mars far better than Red Planet.  Although both movies suffered from lulls in action Mission to Mars is the strongest of the two stories.  It deals with an explanation of human existence which isn’t hard to swallow even if you DON’T believe in aliens.  Could there actually be a face on Mars?  And if there is, couldn’t it be a constructed building of some kind left by our ancestors?  It’s an interesting question.  Who knows how long it will take us to truly understand and explore the vast universe around us.

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Movie Copycats # 13: The Fast and The Infuriating


Gone in Sixty Seconds - Touchstone Pictures (2000) Directed by Dominic Sena

The Fast and the Furious - Universal Pictures (2001) Directed by Bob Cohen

Similarities: Both films involve a car crazy crook with a past looking at a chance for redemption.  They also involve brazen police officers who employ no-nonsense tactics to catch these crooks.  And since both films deal greatly with redemption it’s no surprise how both films end.


Gone in Sixty Seconds 2000

Gone in 60 Seconds is about not being able to escape your past.  Memphis Raines (Nicolas Cage) has returned home to save his younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) from the clutches of British crime boss Raymond “The Carpenter” Calitri (Christopher Eccleston).   Memphis is forced to call on the help of his mentor Otto (Robert Duvall) the “auto-mechanic” hardy har har . . ex girlfriend Sway (Angelina Jolie) and numerous other grifters in order to pull off a 50car heist and save his brother.  Following the movements of Memphis and his gang our a police duo that in my mind was EXTREMELY well-cast.  You have Delroy Lindo as Detective Castlebeck and Timothy Olyphant as Detective Drycoff.  Delroy Lindo and Timothy Olyphant!!!! Those two combined are more bad ass then the entire main cast of both films!  But I digresss . . . Of course they venture into stealing all the cars blah blah blah . . . things look good . . . things don’t look good . . . cue laughter . . . shit hits the fan . . . shit gets resolved . . . the end.

Nicolas Cage, Timothy Olyphant, and Delroy Lindo - Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

Fast and the Furious is about seeing the good in the bad.  Police officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) infiltrates the underworld of illegal LA street racing in hopes of discovering who is behind a recent string of hijackers.  He befriends Dominic Toretto and his lowly band of racers including Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster).  After becoming attached to the group he must blur the line between his investigation and newfound allegiances in order to find the real criminals behind the hijacking.  They race  . . . they race some more . . . Brian O’Conner stands up to The Man . . . they race . . . blah blah blah . . . find out who’s hijacking people . . . defend their on . . . blah blah blah . . . defend honor some more . . . Paul Walker saves the day . . . blah blah blah.

Verdict: I am going to go with Gone in Sixty Seconds.  Not to say that The Fast and The Furious wasn’t good at all but I felt it was more MTV then Gone in Sixty Seconds.  This most likely has to do with the fact that Gone in Sixty Seconds is based on a 1974 movie called Gone in 60 Seconds.  If I’ve learned anything from watching older films it’s that they paid more attention to story structure and character development.  Here’s the synopsis:

Insurance investigator Maindrian Pace and his team lead double-lives as unstoppable car thieves. When a South American drug lord pays Pace to steal 48 cars for him, all but one, a 1973 Ford Mustang, are in the bag. As Pace prepares to rip-off the fastback, codenamed “Eleanor”, in Long Beach, he is unaware that his boss has tipped off the police after a business dispute. Detectives are waiting and pursue Pace through five cities as he desperately tries to get away

Now if you have seen the Nick Cage version of the film you can tell just by the description that there are some similarities between the 1974 version and the 2000 version.

Henry B. Halicki - Gone in 60 Seconds 1974

Gone in Sixty Seconds isn’t just a common remake though.  It is the continuation of the legacy of Henry B. Halicki who wrote, directed, and starred in the original.  An avid car collector and successful businessman he set out to make Gone in 60 Seconds with a skeleton of a script, a small crew, and limited resources.   After the success of the film he continued his career in film earning the nickname “The Car Crash King”.  In 1989 Halicki died in a freak accident on the set of Gone in Sixty Seconds 2.  A 160ft water tower rigged to fall during a car chase seen toppled due to a defective cable that snapped and severed a  telephone pole which fell on Halicki and killed him instantly.  Jerry Bruckheimer in association with Disney, purchased the rights to the story in 1995 and began filming Gone in Sixty Seconds in 1999.

 What works with the newest one is that it isn’t a direct remake of the original but more of a rejuvenation which is something I like to see.  It takes the basic framework of a well coordinated story and develops it into a modern format.  And they did it all without making it all about the “hey look what my car can do” factor like in The Fast and the Furious, which was pretty much just a car show with dialogue. . .  and Vin Diesel . . .

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Movie Copycats # 12: We’re gonna need a bigger Genre

Victims:  Anyone who became terrified of going in the Ocean after the 70’s.


Jaws (1975) - Directed by Steven Spielberg, Written by Peter Benchley (novel/screenplay) and Carl Gottlieb

Orca (1977) - Directed by Michael Anderson Written by Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati, and Robert Towne

Similaritis: In a seasonal fishermen infested vacation town off the coast of a mostly secluded area tourists and locals are terrorized by a deep sea mammal.  Muhahahaha.



Susan Backlinie - Jaws (1975)

Jaws is a more traditional film in the sense that there is an antagonist, the shark, and a protagonist, the local sheriff played by Roy Scheider, and ultimately there is a face off between the two opposing forces in which the hero comes out on top.  Very American.  Orca  on the other hand reverses these roles and despite the antagonist seeming to be the whale it is ultimately a role more well suited for the main character, a  deep sea fisherman played by Richard Harris.  Orca really makes you want to be on the side of the whale and I feel like this is mainly due to the foreign influences of the story developers.

Jaws (1975)

Jaws takes place in the beachy town of Amity, the epitome of small town America.  Chief Martin Brody (Scheider) is charged with its protection.  However his authority is overlooked on the eve of the biggest tourist season of the year when a young girl is killed by what he believes to be a shark.  Amity’s Mayor, Murray Hamilton, refuses to close the beaches despite Brody’s concern.  It’s the classic tale of one person trying to prevent a disaster and the establishment refusing to heed their warning until it is too late.

Robert Shaw, Roy Schneider, and Richard Dreyfuss - Jaws (1975)

Ultimately Brody and his Motley Crew are brought in to venture out and take care of the shark when it kills again.  This crew consists of a brasin sea captain Sam Quint (Robert Shaw) and marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss).  While it does take awhile to get to this point of the film it is a big pay off.  We get to watch a shark ‘splode!  After the awesome sea captain gets killed though :-(.  Small price to pay for some cinematic justice.


Two years after the crisis of the fictional Amity beach town Orca came out.  Interesting fact to note is that the boat they set out to destroy Jaws on was called, Orca.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Orca starts off in a more graphic fashion.  Hard to consider seeing as a woman is killed in the first ten minutes of Jaws.  The reason that this particular film is more graphic then it’s predecessor is because it actual shows things, which might have been the reason it wasn’t as commercially acceptable as Jaws.  One film you could get away with taking your kid to the other you most certainly could not.

Momma Orca dies - Orca (1977)

Orca opens on the fishing boat of Captain Nolan, played by Richard Harris.  We might remember him better today as the original Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Back in 1977 he was poaching whales!  As Captain Nolan he ends up killing a female whale in the beginning of Orca only to realize that she was pregnant.  The baby whale spills out onto the deck.

The dead orca baby . . . so sad - Orca (1977)

All of this unfolds while the Daddy Orca looks on in horror from afar.  It is this incident that insights the Orca to reek havoc on Captain Nolan, his crew, and the fishing town he calls home.  One of the best scenes in this film is when the Orca slams into Captain Nolan’s seaside home and attacks Annie (Bo Derek) an injured crew member.  Causing the house to fall into the ocean Annie slides into the grasp of the Orca much like the way Quint does towards the end of Jaws.  the only difference here is that instead of dying the woman gets her leg nawed off by a whale.  It’s awesome.

Bo Derek getting her leg ate up - Orca (1977)

In the end Captain Nolan along with the remaining crew, a helpful Native American Umilak (Will Sampson), and Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling) set out to fight the vengeful Orca.  Basically they get owned by the Orca because Karma is on it’s side.  I really don’t want to go into details because it’s pretty messed up sequence of events for an ending.  Not your traditional neatly resolved Hollywood ending like Jaws.

Richard Harris, Peter Hooten, and Will Sampson - Orca (1977)


Jaws by a nose!  I like the fact that Orca was a lot more graphic just for the simple fact that I was NOT expecting that at all the first time I saw it.  And the ending is non-traditional which is always a plus.  The good thing about Jaws is that the story is so well handled that there is no need for an excessive amount of gore or even the need to show the shark for almost the entire film.  There’s just this overwhelming build up of dread that culminates into an amazing climax ending.  Very well done.


*Shameless Spin-offs*

KILLER FISH!!! (1979)

Need I say more . . . .

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