The Most Important Moment in My Life

Life is strange, but in a good way.

In early 2009, I met a young woman named Mary. She worked at the Writing Center with me, and a mutual friend suggested she join our Dungeons and Dragons game. She was enthusiastic, if a bit odd. She asked if it was proper for her character to collect the eyelids of fallen enemies. I politely said she couldn’t do that, but she could have a tail.

A few months later, we started going out. She was everything I ever hoped to have. Mary was smart, insightful, and beautiful. She was headstrong, stubborn, and creative. The romance never wavered, and eventually we moved in together. In the holiday season of 2010, I asked her to be my wife. She was so happy, and had more than a few glasses of eggnog, so the rest of the night was spent in the bathroom as she puked up the beef burgundy we had for dinner. It’s the kind of story we like to tell when we, again, have a few drinks. It’s also one of the happiest nights of my life.

We grew closer.

A year ago, October 18, 2012, we had a common law marriage. We’ve been dying to have a proper celebration, something with masks and some horror, but time and money have been tight. This year, however, we both started good jobs. I’m teaching full time. We can get insurance. We can even make plans for a proper house in a year or so.

For our anniversary, we found out that Mary was going to give me the greatest gift of all.

Come April, she’s going to give me a baby.

It’s been a few weeks since we suspected, but on our one-year anniversary, we got final confirmation that everything looks good. Mother and baby look fine. I have a thousand questions and a million things I want to say to this child. But for right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Come what may, I know what I have to do now.

I’m going to be a father. I’m a writer, a teacher, a friend, and a son… and now I get to add “father” to that list.

I love you, Mary. And I love you too, Tyranacore/ Vader/ Athena/ Madeline/ Whatever We decide to Call You.

PS: Yes, the kid is going to be brought up on Seuss, Silverstein, and R. L. Stein. Do you even have to ask? BabyPicTV

Manny and the Necromancer

Putting in the
Putting in the “man” and “romance” in “necromancer”…

June 23, 2013

Last night’s Dungeons and Dragons game had perhaps the weirdest in-game use of liquor, shapeshifting, and seduction I’ve ever seen.

The party was investigating a town recently overcome with cultists of Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undeath. Naturally, such cultists are prone to things like sadism, insanity, and, I figured, occasional necrophilia. The last one was not overtly mentioned, but makes sense.

As the party snuck around the ruined town, they happened upon a tavern being used as some sort of torture chamber for the town’s survivors. Manny, playing the drow wizard Vician, decided he had a plan. He convinced the elf bard Vittoria to go along with it. Confident, he cast a spell to make both of them appear as ghouls so they could sneak into the ruins and free the two men being tortured by a necromancer.

After some routine questions from the necromancer, Manny, still in ghoul form, decided to gift the necromancer a bottle of liquor he had “found” outside. Seeing this, the necromancer took it and threw some of its contents at the very cut and very bloody men hanging on the rack. Their screams of pain filled the room as the rest of the team looking in through a window and wondered what Manny was doing.

As the DM, I too wondered what the hell he was doing.

I then had the necromancer take a swig of the bottle.

“So… he drank it?” asked Manny.

I looked at him and said, “Yeah. Why?”

“Because I bought something… It’s called Love Philter. He’s going to fall madly in love with the first creature he sees-”

“STOP!” I said.

I rushed out of the dining room and to my computer to check the online database. From the dining room, my players counted down as I accessed the site and verified this wild claim.

“Five… four… three… two… one-”

“SON OF A WHORE!”

I stomped back and conceded that, yes, the necromancer would now fall in love with the first creature it saw, but there were six people around him, including Manny, the bard, and a smattering of ghouls and demons. I then had Manny roll to see which one would become the object of his affection… and Manny rolled the number for himself.

Fine… He wanted to play like that? He wanted to make the necromancer fall in love with him. The NECROMANCER.

As in, he “loves” the dead?

Fine.

At this point, another player pulled out his phone and proceeded to play some background music.

The necromancer, being the sick bastard that he is, took what he figured was a ghoul and began leading it to the back of the bar for some… alone time.

“I… didn’t consider this,” he said as a horny necromancer guided his character.

All I could think of was this…

am+i+the+only+one+who+thinks+shes+really+ugly+_b054bfd84bb010c1a6b2c2c705061367

Manny thought quickly and managed to pantomime something to the effect of “I can’t do this with an audience.” The necromancer, eager for some cold lovin’, instructed the demons and other ghouls to wait outside. Meanwhile, the rest of the adventuring party is watching this comedy of errors through the window and wondering what to do about the monsters outside. Vittoria the bard took the hint and untied the two men, carefully leading them through the tavern while the necromancer disrobed of his armor and weapons.

Ever the sick puppy, Manny asked the necromancer, “Do you like violence?”

Also ever the sick puppy, the necromancer agreed. Manny whipped out a pair of manacles and tied the necromancer down, who at this point could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

Leaning in, many blasted the far wall and killed five ghouls before blasting the necromancer’s head into a fine red mist.

The rest of the session involved some more bloodshed and sleuth-work, but the point is that one of my players magically seduced a sadistic necrophiliac and managed to wipe out half his undead posse, thus giving the other players the chance to go after the demons.

Not sure if I should be proud or worried this plan worked.

 

“Genius” is Hard Work

You COULD depend on dumb luck and talent... but that's dumb.
You COULD depend on dumb luck and talent… but that’s dumb.

June 20, 2013

Who do you want to be?

When I was younger, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted. From a very young age, I always liked telling stories. When I grew up, this changed slightly to a love of language and poetry. Did I know English when I moved to the United States? Somewhat. But I saw all the stories, movies, and books I was now exposed to and wanted to be a part of that, so I pushed myself to learn English and writing as best I could.

And now look at me. One of my editors is finished with Charcoal Streets and the other is on her way to give me the final corrections and suggestions. Last year, I wrote a gaming book that’s gotten great reviews. A few years before that, I ghostwrote a novel that has been sold and read all over the world.

But I wasn’t a natural talent or anything like that.

My wife likes to say that this sort of thing just comes naturally to me. The truth is that I worked hard at it. I had a passion for it, but I didn’t start off just writing down poetry. I had to work hard at it. Very hard. While I do think there is such a thing as natural aptitude, that isn’t the case with everyone who is good at something.

We all have obstacles in the way of our dreams, but there are ways around them. I learned many things from my grandfather, but one of the most important is that it’s never impossible to achieve a goal. Difficult? Yes. Tedious? Certainly.

Impossible? That man didn’t know the meaning of the word.


Hard day at work by *vaporotem on deviantART

I try to live my life the same way, and whenever a student tells me the assignment or the lesson is too hard, I just smile and tell them the same thing.

It gets easier.

If you can’t understand a lesson in one way, try thinking of it another.

If you can’t lose weight with a diet, try more substantial change.

If you want to be more learned, read and research.

Are some of our goals easy? No. Hardly. But that doesn’t mean we should quit. Even now, despite my pride in the final draft of Charcoal Streets, for example, it’s already been pointed out to me that there are several sections that could be MUCH better. Once this was pointed out to me, I had to agree, although I cried on the inside.

All writers do that.

I’ll say it again… goals aren’t going anywhere. We just have to find different ways of getting there.

Who do I want to be? I want to be a great writer. So that’s I’m trying to do.

Show Some Lovecraftian Love

He's seen things...
He’s seen things…

June 18, 2013

Given the cosmic horror themes my current D&D campaign is about use, I felt it prudent to read up on Bloch, Howard, Smith, and of course Lovecraft. These men built on a fairly recent tradition of cosmic horror that would not really hit until decades later.

Having re-familiarized myself with these works, I feel I should point out how influential they have been in MANY areas of popular culture.

There are, of course, the films that are direct adaptations of Lovecraft’s world. I’ve reviewed Whisperer in Darkness and talked about how “Call of Cthulhu” is good for college courses. Of course, there are also the Gordon films (Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Dagon, and “Dreams in the Witch-House), but there are also the films that borrowed from the central concepts of Lovecraft’s vision.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

Sure, the Ghostbusters, well, uhm… busted ghosts. But the big bad in the first film is Gozer, an extradimensional being that seeks to destroy the world. The dead rising are a byproduct of its impending arrival.

Lovecraft was not a believer in the supernatural, despite modern pop belief in the contrary. His stories, even those that dealt with magic, made it seem more like an advanced form of super-science, an understanding beyond that which we know. The titular witch in “Dreams in the Witch-House” wasn’t a student of potions and astrology. She learned to manipulate space and time as a scientist would learn to mix different chemicals.


Ghostbusters – Gozer’s Entrance by ~thefenrir on deviantART

Alien Horror

H. G. Wells made the concept of alien invasion a reality with War of the Worlds. It’s a classic, but Lovecraft was the one who came up with the idea of aliens as truly horrible, and ALIEN, entities. Name a story in the mythos. Any story. Odds are that the beasties and nasties are not so much earth-bound horrors as they are alien “gods” from other worlds. Even if they are creatures from Earth, they likely have a connection to alien entities. Such a premise has caught on with others.

In Hellboy, for example, the ultimate evil is the alien monstrosities just waiting to be released. In The Thing, the titular, well… thing… is an alien shapeshifter that, aside from its origin, would not be out of place in a fantasy horror story. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they eventually made vampires into demons that were actually creatures from other dimensions.

Fan Fiction

Today, you can type the name of any show, movie, or book, and find terabytes of stories written by a host of fans from all over the world. Flame wars can erupt at the slightest provocation.

Well, Lovecraft encouraged such behavior.

What we call the Cthulhu Mythos, the collected mythology of alien horrors, is actually written by several different authors. Lovecraft himself borrowed terms and characters from other writers such as Ambrose Bierce. Years of authors borrowing from each other, building a common mythology, has led to retcons, inconsistencies, and a massive library of stories… and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s also why some people think things like the Necronomicon are real. So many authors mentioned it that it MUST have some sort of real-world analogue.


Cosmic Horror by ~NoxinOen on deviantART

There you have it. Lovecraft and others, I’m sure, are the unsung heroes of modern fantasy and horror. I’m not saying they’re the only ones responsible, but Lovecraftian horror had a serious impact on pop culture. It took decades, sure, but we’ve embraced these stories. We often use them for comedic effect, such South Park‘s take on Cthulhu himself or even the Unspeakable Vault of Doom. The truth is that the giants like Stephen King and Clive Barker owe much of their inspiration to the works of the early weird fantasy writers.

And I think they deserve more respect and recognition.

Whisperer in Darkness Review

I'm in ur head, removin ur brainz
I’m in ur head, removin ur brainz

June 11, 2013

Every few months, I get on this Lovecraft kick that often lasts weeks. To satiate this urge, Mary and I watched The Whisper in Darkness, a full-length movie by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, the same people who brought us the short film adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu.” This was a different film since it was a “talkie” in the style of 1930’s horror films.

So, what’s the verdict? A little background…

The Plot

Albert Wilmarth is a professor of folklore at Miskatonic University. He has doubts concerning the stories coming out of Vermont regarding strange creatures from other worlds washing down the river after a massive flood. After public humiliation following a debate with an anti-science advocate who believes in the stories, Wilmarth is approached by George Akeley, son of Henry Akeley, a man who’s been writing to him for months regarding strange creatures in the hills. George presents Wilmarth with evidence that the creatures are real and forces the academic to doubt his own sanity.

After months of frantic letters, Wilmarth receives one final letter from Henry Akeley asking him to come to Vermont with the evidence. Akeley furthermore claims that his panic over the creatures was unfounded and he now has a deeper understanding of their goals.

Upon arriving at the isolated farm, Wilmarth faces the shocking truth about the creatures and their plans for humanity.

The Good

Much like “The Call of Cthulhu,” this film was shot in “old-school” style, making it look like a 1930’s horror film. The special effects do incorporate some CGI this time around. While the effects do look somewhat cheap, it doesn’t make them less creepy. In fact, it adds to the charm of the overall film. They’re really only showcased in a few shots towards the end, anyway.

The acting is appropriately theatrical given the genre. Perhaps one of the most intense, and nerve-wrecking, moments in the film involved Wilmarth, played by Matt Foyer, simply looking at a door while strange, and possibly alien, voices, moved about outside his room.Having read the story, i knew what would happen, but I still found myself clutching Mary’s hand as tightly as she held mine.

Lovecraft is often celebrated for his imagination, but the original story did end quite abruptly, albeit it with a twist. It was also mostly a series of letters between two characters and some conversation, an exposition of things that had already happened. The filmmakers decided that this was fine, but it also served as a first act to a larger story. Normally, I would be very disappointed in someone thinking he or she should “improve” on the original story, but in this case, it worked.

The second half of the movie starts with what is the original story’s twist, then takes it in a direction closer to a thriller and a race against time. And yes, it does end with the usual dark, forbidding Lovecraftian ending that really seals the deal and creates a feeling of dread.


Mi-Go, the Fungi from Yuggoth by *Cloister on deviantART

The Bad

The aforementioned changes in the story, while pleasant and entertaining, can be a turn-off for die-hard Lovecraft fans. After “The Call of Cthulhu,” a wonderfully faithful adaptation, some might feel this one takes too many liberties with the source material.

There are also times in the movie where things just sort of… stop. It can get a little slow in several sections towards the middle, but it eventually picks up again. The beginning also takes a bit too long in getting to the main story.

The IA! IA! CTHULHU FTHAGN!

This was an enjoyable movie, creepier than I would have thought, and it was nice to see the Mi-go on screen. I would love to see the HPLHS do more of these films, maybe with bigger budgets. They’ve certainly showed they have a knack for bringing the dread and eeriness of Lovecraft’s world to the screen.

Like I said before, though, the change in story at the end might not be for die-hard fans. For casual fans, it’s still a good film. For people new to Lovecraft, I think it serves as a good introduction to the mythos.

If you’re curious, here’s the full trailer. Sweet dreams…

Learning How to Spell: Can’t Stop

My dreams get weirder the more stressed I become.
My dreams get weirder the more stressed I become.

June 3, 2013

My dreams tend to be kind of weird, especially, when I’m stressed about work. Twice now, I’ve been working on something and wondered if I should really do it. The last time, Neil Gaiman, or rather a dream projection of him, told me to enjoy what I do.

Last night, the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave me some advice.

I’ve loved the Chili Peppers since I first heard the Californication album. In fact, their sound and general attitude have been a huge influence on my own writing. The dream, though, started off gray.

I walked down a street. It was full, and I’m more than sure it was in Laredo, too. Everything looked gray, not black and white, but certainly washed out. As I approached a bar on my right, someone pulled me and said, “Hey, are you going to come to watch the Chili Peppers?”

Since the Chili Peppers are one of my favorite bands, I of course rushed in. It was a small bar, too, maybe a dozen tables spread out over a long floor. The bar was surrounded with red Christmas lights and upbeat music. Anthony Kiedis was actually tending bar as Chad Smith talked with people at the tables and Flea served drinks. John Frusciante played the guitar on the stage, no song in particular, just strummed along with the music.

Everything seemed too surreal. I felt like I was in a dream, but didn’t realize I really was in a dream.

Kiedis served me a drink but declined one himself. Smith went behind the bar. The band never actually played throughout the entire dream, but it felt like I was getting to just know them.

Flea then said something strange.

“It’s hard to tell your story,” he said.

I thought about it. I thought about the book I’m just waiting to get back from my editors. I’m ready, just itching, to put the finishing touches on this thing, but I’m also nervous.

What if it doesn’t sell? What if it does? What if people hate it? What if they love it?

It’s enough to paralyze someone. Too afraid to keep going, too scared to even start.

Kiedis then said, “Who cares what they think? People will love it if they love it. It’s you. Just tell your story.”

And then I woke up.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s the first and last thing you can feel when trying to do something. I’m afraid right now. The trick is to not let that fear be the deciding factor in anything. I learned that part a long time ago. Emotions are powerful, but actions trump them every time. Acting in spite of fear destroys it. Showing your love grows it. Enduring pain lessens it.

All I have to do now is close my eyes, take a breath, and jump.

Randomology-Themed Drinks 2

Art, music, gaming, and booze go together like... well, like art, gaming, and booze.
Art, music, gaming, and booze go together like… well, like art, gaming, and booze.

May 28, 2013

I’ve been sick for a few days and haven’t had the energy to really do much, but I thought I’d give you, my dear readers, another round of gaming and literary-themed drinks. I’m assuming you’d already have a good shaker handy for some of these. Standard shaker or Boston shaker both work just fine. Get ready for some fun!

Battlestar Galactica

Ambrosia, a light green drink, appears to be the drink of choice if you have the resources in the Battlestar Galactica universe. Here’s a visual approximation with a kick.

  • 3 oz absinthe
  • 3 oz simple syrup
  • 5 oz Sprite
  • 4 oz sweet and sour mix
Pour the absinthe, simple syrup, and sweet and sour mix into your shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour into glass containing sprite with no ice. Enjoy, but be careful. Absinthe has a bit of a kick you’ll never feel until it’s too late.
The Cyberpunk
Many cyberpunk settings are all about synthetic food and cheap booze to dull away the rainy nights as megacorps watch over everything. Whether you’re reading Gibson or playing some Shadowrun, this drink should evoke that same feeling of cheap life and hard drinks. I call it the “adrenalin shot.”
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz Rockstar energy drink (Low Carb)
  • 1 oz Gatorade (any blue one)

Mix ingredients in a glass and stir. Be careful, though. Energy drinks and liquor can be even more dangerous that regular alcoholic cocktails, so use caution.

The Elf

Elves are all about nature. I figure they’d appreciate a cool, refreshing drink, and for some reason, the idea of elven moonshine appeals to me. Our elf, a bard, is currently a countess and royalty. Still, she’s a tavern fly first and foremost, so there. I give you, the “Minty Elf.”

  • 1/2 oz white creme de menthe
  • 1 1/2 oz corn whiskey
  • 1 dash lemon juice

Add all ingredients to your shaker with ice, mix well, and pour into a glass. And watch your elf fly… or pass out.

The Dragonborn

This one is based on my wife’s character in our current game. Her name is Kali, a dragonborn barbarian who is fond of spitting acid at her foes. Her companion character, a little imp she named Sally, has had her moments, too. In honor of these two characters, I present to you the “Kali and Sally.”

  • 1 oz Bacardi 151
  • 1 oz Wild Turkey
  • Coca Cola
  • 1 oz Doctor Pepper
  • 1 oz Jim Beam
  • 1 oz orange juice
This drink actually has two parts: the shot and the chaser drink. For the shot, pour the jim beam and orange juice into your shaker and mix well. Pour into a glass with the Doctor Pepper and ice. For the chaser drink, pour the Bacardi and Wild Turkey into a highball glass filled with ice. Add the Cola and stir. When you’re ready, down the shot and enjoy the chaser drink. Warning! Much like an angry dragonborn, this drink will knock you on your ass if you’re not careful.

The Tiefling

Tieflings are humans that long ago made pacts with devils. Modern-day tieflings are the descendants of that infernal deal, but most would just rather be left alone. Our tiefling, Melek, still has that fire from hell within him, and he uses it, so I give you the “Frustrated Tiefling.”

  • 5-7 dashes hot sauce
  • 1 oz Smirnoff vodka
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Mix all together in shot glass until. Add more hot sauce if necessary, and drink immedietly. For a non-shot version, add the mixture to a lager beer and enjoy slowly.

The Drow

Drow are secretive, underground elves with a penchant for torture, slavery, and sadism. So, of course, it figures out group has one. He’s actually pretty mellow, though, but he has moments of insanity. Like suggesting the group set an inn on fire so everyone will get to safety when a fight breaks out. Anyway, I give you the “Mad Fey.”

  • 1 oz cream
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz raspberry liquor

Pour the ingredients into a glass with ice and enjoy! For a slightly less strong drink, consider using simply grape juice instead of raspberry liquor.

If you happen to try any of thee, write a message below and let me know what you think.

Tomb of Horrors, Players of Evil

May 27, 2013

This weekend, my group had the opportunity to try its hand at the classic D&D adventure, the Tomb of Horrors. While there’s a super-adventure for 4E that’s set years after the original adventure, I wanted to give my players a taste for old school bash-the-door-in-and-pray-you-don’t-die games, so I updated the original module for their level and kept all the traps, save-or-die situations, and general geekiness that is the original.

I’ll write a full article on everything that happened, but I did want to share some initial observations.

My players have been doing this campaign since the winter of 2009, but they haven’t played previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons and we don’t really have the chance to branch out into other games given our schedules. However, I’ve been lucky enough to play 3.0 and 3.5 D&D, Fireborn, a little Magic the Gathering, d6 Star Wars, Call of Cthulhu, and others. In a way, I wanted them to feel like they were part of a long tradition of gamers. Anyone who’s played through the Tomb of Horrors knows it’s a meat grinder. Making it out alive, or with most of your limbs, is an accomplishment.

Seeing as how the party is epic level now, I wanted to give them a taste of what it used to feel like to be so vulnurable.

This is a key part of the last few gaming sessions and levels I think is missing.

Do the players have fun? Oh yes.

Did they also enjoy a night of deadly rooms and tapestries trying to kill them? Oh yeah.

Like I said, they still have another week to go to get to the end, but so far, there are stories aplenty.

Just thought I’d let you know.

Quick Review: Fingerprints

First sign of trouble? Cover vs actual still.
First sign of trouble? Cover vs actual still.

May 22, 2013

As I looked through horror movies to watch this week, I came across Fingerprints, a low-budget horror movie based on a Texas urban legend regarding a train crash. The legend goes that a school bus stalled on a set of train tracks as a train was about to pass. A few kids managed to escape, but most died when the bus was hit by the train. Now, if a car stops near the tracks, the legend says the car will move, on its own, past the tracks. If you put talcum powder or something similar on your car, you’re supposed to be able to see the fingerprints of the ghost children who push you to get you to safety.

This being a state legend, and since I’m still buzzing from Charcoal Streets and those stories, I decided to see what this little film did with the legend, so I pulled it up on Netflix.

And the first thing I see?

Review1

…Comic sans? Really? Okay, so it’s not EXACTLY comic sans, but it’s pretty close. Maybe it’s just the first card.

Review2

Nope. They just keep going.

So, what about the title card itself? Surely they were smart enough to at least put in some weird effects. Or maybe they wanted the titles to look like a little kid drew them, just to hammer the point home that there are going to be creepy ghost children in this film?

Review3

…Wow. They just didn’t care.

First impressions are very powerful, and if my first impression of this movie is that the designers didn’t even bother to find a creepy or even serious font, I’m not even going to bother with the rest. Sorry, Fingerprints, but you actually lost me in three title cards. Bravo.

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

 

They see me rollin'...
They see me rollin’…

May 20, 2013

I had very mixed feelings four years ago when the Star trek reboot got underway. I didn’t want my beloved franchise ruined.

As it turns out, it’s been a fun romp.

I finally got to watch Star Trek Into Darkness earlier today and have a lot to say about it. Because of the nature of the movie, spoilers will be CLEARLY listed at the bottom of the review.

Synopsis

Set a few months after the last movie, this one starts with Kirk blatantly breaking the Prime Directive, Starfleet’s highest order of non-interference, and getting demoted for saving Spock in the process. Things go further south when a mysterious man named John Harrison orchestrates a bombing in London that kills forty-two people and takes out a secret Starfleet facility As it turns out, John Harrison is a Starfleet operative who’s gone rogue and has a plan for the Federation.

That’s when things get personal for Kirk after a second attack on Starfleet headquarters takes a personal toll on him.

And to say more than that would be to spoil the movie indeed.


Dark Side of Star Trek by ~kung-fu-eyebrow on deviantART

The Good

The story was a character study of both Kirk and Spock, their motivations and how they approach life. Much like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan showed the effects of age, this one showed the consequences of Kirk’s youth and Spock’s too-human side. Kirk’s gung-ho attitude and youth, something many people felt made no sense at the end of the last movie, come back to bite him in the butt, and hard. It was refreshing, and then the movie proceeds to show Kirk going through the pain and challenges that will mold Kirk into the captain we all know.

The film also addressed the contemporary issue of drone strikes, war, and vengeance. One of the major plot points early in the film involves the Enterprise being tasked with launching long-range torpedoes at an inhabited world to try and take out Harrison. Surprisingly, Kirk of all people is fine with this given his emotional investment, but others are very much shocked and appalled at the idea of launching weapons of mass destruction at a populated location to get a single individual without a trial.

The action sequences in this one are brutal, too, possibly to go along with the darker themes. Expect broken bones, crushed heads, and a starship beat-down that’s downright painful to watch. They are, however, utterly bad-ass. I’m also glad Abrams decided to tone down the lens flare effects on this one. They would have given me a headache with the 3D.

As in the previous film, there are plenty of allusions for die-hard Trek fans to latch on to and giggle over, so keep an eye out for them.


Star Trek Into Darkness by ~applejaxshii on deviantART

The Bad

Uhm… see the Spoilers section below.

Final Verdict (Spoiler-free)

The movie was fun, I enjoyed it, and would watch it again…

Now, if you want to know the full story and my other thoughts, go past the picture and read the spoiler-filled Final Verdict.


Star Trek: Into Darkness by *ThreshTheSky on deviantART

Final Verdict (WITH SPOILERS)

Okay, so Cumberbatch is actually Khan, thawed out and used by Starfleet to help design new weapons. A lot of people guessed it might have been Khan from the very beginning, and I tried to avoid any of those articles enough to try and remain surprised.

However, despite Cumberbatch being genuinely creepy as the bad guy, it does raise the unfortunate implication that one of the most iconic characters in Star Trek was recast as a white man. Ricardo Molteban’s run as Khan in the original series is legendary. Even people who don’t know the franchise will probably recognize one of the most famous moments from Star Trek II where Shatner eats the scenery and most of the movie lot and yells Khan’s name. Khan was smart, charismatic, and most of all, dangerous. Rightfully so, many people are complaining that Khan’s new actor is a white Brit who seems to be saying that a man of color can’t be all these things, can’t be dangerous and smart…

However, I’m going to call crap on part of this. Not all of it. Just part it.

The character of Khan is a genetically-engineered superman. His full name denotes Indian and Chinese heritage, and yet he was played by a Mexican actor. Likewise, John Cho, who is Korean, was cast as the Japanese Hikaru Sulu. Zoe Saldana is Puerto Rican and Dominican and plays Uhura, who based on several sources is either Central or South African and was played by Nichelle Nichols, who was from Illinois. But I guess since they LOOK the part, there aren’t too many complaints.

Also, consider the times in which we live in today. Khan is a terrorist, a warlord who wishes to wipe out those he considers inferior. Now consider what would have happened if a brown man had been cast in the part, especially given the movie’s overt theme of terrorism. While it was a noble gesture in the 60’s to make the villain a non-white, the original draft of the episode “Space Seed” did have Khan as a Nordic superman that sounds similar to a superpowered Nazi.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I am disappointed that the film went with the decision to cast a white actor, it has its good and bad points. I’m all for going with a great actor as opposed to one that just looks the part. Either way, Cumberbatch did a great job.

And now, if you’re still interested, here’s the final trailer…