Koontz – Extra Credit

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Twilight is an action/romance movie about a girl named Bella Swan who is sent to live with her father in Forks, Washington. In this city there is an existing family of vampires. Her main love interest is Edward Collin, a member of the vampire family. There is also an Indian reservation outside of town where a conflicting love interest, Jacob, lives. The movie takes place in Forks and at the end, the plot leads to Jacksonville, Florida, where Bella grew up.

Since this is the first movie of a series, the budget was not very large and it is noticeable. The movie is meant to be very monotone due to the weather in the area and also the pale skin of the vampires. In addition to the absence of color, the aesthetic quality is not as clear as most HD movies. It is also apparent that the character makeup and acting is that of a lower budget film. It is not as noticeable until the second movie in the series is viewed, whereupon there is a drastic difference. The movie gained a lot of popularity after the first showing which helped make the rest of the movies in the series hits and ensured better funding. Resolution of the fight scenes between vampires is poor and some backgrounds do not look real against the action. The backgrounds also do not look real as they are climbing up to the top of the trees at the vampire speed. The cameras are continuously moving with the characters which causes dizziness and the appearance that they are unsteady. Framing/angles are far too close in certain scenes such as when they are in school and talking about the assignment and it pans back and forth to each of their faces.

Sound effects in this movie are almost obsolete until the fight scenes. In addition to the monotony of color, the audio is all along the same sound level and energy level. Characters do not raise their voices or get upset–Jacob is one of the only actors who shows some drama. Edward, since he is a few hundred years old, has strong moral values and was raised in a different era. Because of this, he has set a moral duty for himself to remain abstinent until marriage with Bella. Bella however keeps testing his strength and self-control. She also wants Edward to change her into a vampire. He refuses to change her because he believes that vampire’s souls are damned and he wants to save her soul. Jacob’s family is good friends with Bella’s father. He wants Bella to be with him because she would not have to “change” for him. Edward and his family also do not harm humans like other vampires. They call themselves “vegetarians” and feast on only animal blood. The drama in the end is against vampires who are not vegetarians and end up coming after Bella.

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The fighting is comical and is not scary or thrilling enough to make the scenes interesting. It is hard not to laugh and it is mostly because of the poor level of acting from most of the characters. The characters in this movie are not well defined. The movie is far-fetched and unrealistic. The continual movies in the series do get better and more interesting. This movie sets the basis for the series plot line but once that is understood, it is not engaging enough to watch again.

Critical Essay #3 – Koontz

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Gears of War is a brutal video game of a humanlike race combating creatures from below their planet’s surface. This game is a third-person shooter game, where you can see the characters and control them in a third-person view. Gears of War takes place on a planet called Sera. The planet’s inhabitants were fighting a 79-year war called the Pendulum Wars over a natural energy source called Imulsion that was found under the planet’s surface. Two major governments were fighting this war: Coalition of Ordered Governments or COG; and The Union of Independent Republics or VIR. The Coalition of Ordered Governments soon turned to a weapon of mass destruction called the Hammer of Dawn, which was controlled via satellite, and used it to wipe out most of the Union. The COG soon attempted at peace with the Union when they found themselves fighting a more destructive foe, the Locust. These creatures came up from under the planet’s surface and were fighting to take over the planet. The Coalition of Ordered Governments then turned to the Hammer of Dawn again to destroy these creatures. They found it extremely difficult to destroy these creatures and where they came from. The Government sent out a Military Unit called Gears to travel into the planet’s surface wipe out the Locust creatures. This primary team of the game has characters named Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago.

The aesthetic qualities are very dark. Most of the game takes place underground or outside at night in the rain. Even with the dark qualities and the hard to see boards the graphics are pretty good. They have very smooth and functional transitions during gameplay. The rain scenes are very well executed and even though it’s difficult to see, lightning helps light and guide your way. Where the quality of aesthetics is poorest is in the people. You can see the pixels in the faces during the story mode and sometimes there is a lag in gameplay.

The user experience is really cool. Even though the game is dark, it enhances the game and can be scary when a Locust jumps out at you. Gameplay has three main modes to select from; story mode, online battle, or horde mode. Story mode is great and takes you through the entire story of Sera and its inhabitants. Story mode is basically like playing a game through an entire movie switching as characters Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago. Online battle is where players can join in on battles among others from all over the world playing as people of Sera or the Locust. The online battle is set up on small maps that are randomly selected from parts of the story mode. Each battle is about 10 minutes per battle. Horde mode is probably my favorite way to play this game. It too is played online with others. However you are grouped together with a select team and you are attacked wave after wave by the horde of Locusts. The Main weapon of the Sera people is a machine gun with a chainsaw on the bottom of the gun.

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There are minimal positive values of this game. Even though the characters are fighting to keep their race alive it is a very brutal and vulgar game. The chainsaw gun can saw through the opposing characters along with shooting them. The violence in Gears of War is pretty brutal. There is lots of gore with bombs, guns, and chainsaws. There are a few female characters in the game, however the females that are in the game are leaders of the Governments and also the Queen Locust. The language in this game is very vulgar. Even though this is a harsh brutal game the characters are fighting to keep their race alive.

Overall Gears of War is a great game that has a fantastic story line. The gameplay overall is a lot of fun and the characters are very dynamic and have plenty of activity to keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to keep playing to find out what will happen next. The dark quality of the game also helps keep the player disoriented on what might pop out in front of him, catching him off guard. This is certainly not a game for children.

 

Critical Essay 2 – Koontz

Man-of-Steel_01Man of Steel is an action movie about a man who is sent to Earth by his parents as a baby from a foreign planet named Krypton. His Earth name, Clark Kent, is given to him by the Earth parents who find his ship but his given name is Cal L. He is raised from infancy to a grown man on Earth, and Earth is as much his home as Krypton. His birth parents are Jor-E l and Lara. His Earth parents are Jonathan and Martha Kent. His love interest in this movie is Lois Lane, a reporter who he meets while she is chasing one of her stories. His main nemesis is Zod, a military General bred to protect Krypton.

On Krypton, artificial population control was established and they harvested all the natural resources of the planet which caused their planet’s core to become unstable. His parents foresaw this calamity and took steps to protect him by sending him to Earth. Shortly after he is sent to Earth by his father and mother, Krypton is destroyed. His Earth father believed keeping the secret of his supernatural strength was important for Clark’s safety and because he felt Clark was meant for more. Because of this, Clark wrestled with a lot as a kid. In one scene there is a bus crash, and he wrestles with the moral obligation of whether or not to let the kids die or to save them. He does what is right even though it could expose him. When threatened by a bully as a kid, he wanted to hit him but showed constraint and serious self-control. His father’s words were: “Decide what man you want to become, whether he has good character or not, he is going to change the world. “ Once he is a grown man, he finds a ship that allows him to access his background from Krypton and his father’s conscience. By accessing this ship, he allows General Zod to find his location.

The aesthetic qualities of the movie are really good. CGI is above average but at times during fight scenes especially it is not believable. Resolution is not as good and is not as detailed which causes the backgrounds to look fake as the characters are fighting. Framing is good but there are some unnecessary close ups. The cinematography is primarily good but there are times where the camera is shaky as though someone is holding it and walking with the actors. There are also some camera angles which cause glares with scenes that are shot outside. Some appear to be intentional but one appears to clearly be an accident (above his earthly father’s head). Sound effects, like with most action movies, are very loud which causes the volume to be too low during dialogue and far too loud during explosions, etc. The acting is decent but there is some overacting from some of the characters–for instance when Zod is being sentenced, he says “I will find him”. It is necessary to a point and shows drama. One positive is at the end when a woman is trapped under a building, she looks genuinely terrified to be alone then the man holds her hand.

The set colors throughout the entire movie are not vibrant but greyed out on purpose. The writing and the storyline took a parallel approach to the Biblical Savior; making Superman (Clark Kent) appear as though he is Earth’s Savior or “the light”. His suit is vibrant in comparison to everything around it.

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Superman has impeccable values, morals and self-control. In addition to the scenes already mentioned, he was faced with a situation and his father was in danger. His father held his hand up so he would not expose himself. Clark had to watch his father die. The emotion in this scene is accurately portrayed and the scene is hard to watch. Superman was raised by his Earth parents to treat people how people should treat each other. Even though the military attacks and shoots at him, he still saves them. One of his ethics is to never kill, but he had to change it to kill Zod so Zod would not kill everyone on earth.

Man of Steel was an uplifting, empowering and entertaining movie. It caused the viewer to feel a lot of emotion, heartache and angst. Overall, it was well written and well directed. A definite must-see!

 

Critical Review #1: EMF 140 – Koontz

The-Big-Bang-Theory-1-ppcornThe Big Bang Theory is a sitcom about young adults who live in Pasadena, California and know each other primarily through working together at California Institute of Technology. There are seven primary characters on the show but the main character in which the show is primarily focused around is Sheldon Cooper.  Sheldon is a physicist who has difficulty expressing normal social skills and judging how to act in situations. The other main characters on the show are Leonard Hofstadter, who is Sheldon’s roommate and also a physicist, Penny, a waitress who is Leonard’s primary love interest, Howard Wolowitz, an aerospace engineer and Raj Koothrappali, an astrophysicist. Later in the series, two supporting characters are introduced: Bernadette Rostenkowski, a microbiologist who is Howard’s primary love interest and Amy Farrah Fowler, a neuroscientist who is Sheldon’s primary love interest. The show is a comedy and the writers of Sheldon’s role do a fabulous job.

This episode is about Christmas. Sheldon is uncomfortable with gift giving. He feels that he has to provide a gift of the same value for the perceived gift he will receive. This is too hard to him to deal with, so he declares that he will give no gifts. But even this solution is fraught with anxiety, so he decides to get his girlfriend a gift so she will be uncomfortable because she will not have a reciprocating gift. He spends agonizing time finding something to reinforce the notion that gift-giving is not a productive exercise. At the ensuing Christmas party, he joyfully gives his girlfriend his gift so she will be uncomfortable. However, she unknowingly has baked him cookies from his grandmother’s recipe and he is overwhelmed with the spirit of Christmas after all.

The aesthetic qualities of the show are good considering it premiered in 2007. Colors are vivid and framing is comparable to the type of cinematography used today. The show does not overuse sound effects such as laughter after jokes. When music is played, it is not contrastingly high as compared to the dialogue. The sets reinforce the idea that the characters are nerds and have a love of science and all that it entails–especially Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. On the walls, they have many comic books and figurines which depict immaturity. The writing of the show is clearly the main focus of the show, and the sets emphasize the importance of the dialogue and the characters’ actions. Camera angles are good for the most part. There have only been one or two episodes where the angles were odd and it was usually at a secondary set. Overall, the production value would be considered good.

The story is told through humor. Often the character comments to each other seem cruel. The key for making the show so successful is how well the actors were cast. Sheldon plays his role so believably and his body language complements all the quirky things that he says. As the love interests enter the show in later seasons, there is more angst created with each individual couple’s storyline. The most humorous of course are Sheldon and Amy. Their main angst is created with Sheldon not understanding communication and how to interact with others. Each of their apartment sets help create the background for the character who lives there and helps display their personalities through the furnishings. When there is conflict, the characters help make their anger obvious with body language in addition to the dialogue.

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The show is clearly written primarily for comedy and values of the characters are typical of modern day society. Accomplishment is certainly emphasized on the show as they are constantly competing with each other and comparing their successful careers. As mentioned above, some of the character comments to each other seem cruel and offensive. Their friendships are not without conflict, but when they do have an argument, they overcome it. They also look out for each other’s best interests and try to guide each other, especially Sheldon, through emotional situations. They are loyal to each other. They respect each other’s wishes such as Sheldon’s claimed seat on the couch. Sheldon is constantly holding Leonard accountable for breaking their roommate agreement which is drafted like a legal document with signatures.

Overall, The Big Bang Theory is a great and also educational show. It is intelligently written, satirical, vivid, interesting, enjoyable and comical. It is one that can be watched many times and still cause viewers to laugh.