Monday, September 30, 2013

Well-known title drops

Title dropping is when a movie, book or TV show refers to their works' name. Since this blog focuses on movies mostly, those are the title drops that shall be mentioned today.

One reason why screen writers do this is draw attention to the conversation when it is used. The audience straightens up in their seats when they hear those key words that are on the movie poster. They go "Ahhh so that's what it means," or "That's what they're talking about!"

Sometimes they use the title just to be witty about it and others times it is something that cannot be avoided. For instance, in "Back to the Future" Doc tells Marty that he will send him "Next Saturday night, we're sending you back to the future!" as he points straight toward the camera. Instances like this are ones the moviegoers cannot miss.

When John Hammond introduces Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler to Jurassic Park it is inevitable the place's name will be mentioned eventually.  "3:10 to Yuma" is another movie where it is unavoidable to mention the name of the train they are trying to get Ben Wade to.

"Welcome to Jurassic Park!"

The James Bond films are classics for mentioning the title in the films at some point or another. They vary from the names of the bad guy, such as "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger," to a phrase that Bond or another character will say like "The World Is Not Enough" and "For Your Eyes Only."

Others are mentioned at the very end such as "The Dark Knight" and "The Breakfast Club." These add power and meaning to the very last minutes of the movie.

Sometimes the title drop is used in the explanation of an idea. "The Prestige" and "Inception" are examples of these. The viewers are supposed to not know what either of these titles mean in connection with the movie. It becomes the characters responsibility to explain what the concept means in the dialogue.

"Listen, there's something you should know about me...about inception. An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you."

Below is a mash-up of examples of movies using the title drop. Listen carefully and scroll farther below for the order of the movies. If you didn't catch the titles you might want to check your hearing or maybe your movie knowledge.

Order of the title drops
1. "Back to the Future"
2. "The Breakfast Club"
3. "The Prestige"
4. "Inception"
5. "3:10 to Yuma"
6. "The Dark Knight"
7. "Die Another Day"
8. "Full Metal Jacket"
9. "Jurassic Park"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Twilight Princess worthy of Teen rating?

In the Legend of Zelda game series, the 13th installment, Twilight Princess is the only game that has received the T for Teen rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) due to fantasy violence and animated blood. Whether this rating is actually deserved will be explored shortly.

Hyrule Field before the Twilight
Twilight Princess is set in the land of Hyrule like most Legend of Zelda games. There are a few exceptions, of course. Link is a young farmhand who gets transformed into a wolf due to the Twilight that has descended over Hyrule.

Hyrule Castle covered in Twilight
Link discovers his destiny as the one to save Hyrule after he returns to his human form and goes on to clear dungeons, solve puzzles, and defeat many, many bad guys.

All of these are trademark parts of the Zelda series so why exactly has Twilight Princess received a T rating when fantasy violence is the meat and potatoes of the game series? One could argue that the realistic graphics have something to do with it.

Link exploring a cave full of Keese
Twilight Princess is one of the only Zelda games that focused on visually detailed graphics that looked lifelike. Link's enemies are more intricately designed, but the violence is the same as in any game. Our hero uses anything and everything in his inventory to eliminate his foes, but a sword is his weapon of choice.

In Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, sweet little cell-shaded Link finishes Ganondorf by plunging the Master Sword in his forehead. Now if that isn't fantasy violence then I don't know what is. So why Wind Waker was given an E for Everyone while Twilight Princess earned T is yet to be seen.

The other reason ESRB claimed was "animated blood." Now I've played this game multiple times and never have I seen anything that could logically pass as gore. When enemies are defeated they disappear in a puff of smoke just like in every game before them.

Link administering the Ending Blow to a Skulltula

So my only conclusion for this rating is the darker story line. Link is older, there are many people who die that he cannot save, and also a cursed people that he must fight and kill without having any way to save them. There is a grittier tale in Twilight Princess than most of the other Zelda games, with exception to Majora's Mask, which has a reputation of being the darkest.

Let's not forget about this creepy scene with the Dark Links

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nintendo's use of Zelda titles to boost console sales

Nintendo is known for several iconic characters and their brands, namely Mario from Super Mario Bros. and Link from The Legend of Zelda. While most other video game companies focus on their realistic graphics or game play, Nintendo cares more about story plot.

The Legend of Zelda game series is one of Nintendo's bread and butter video games. They have a devoted and sometimes delirious fan base that will buy anything with a Hylian crest on it, simply on principle. The series started in 1986 and has 16 official console games, along with spin-offs.

The Hylian Crest

It is very obvious that Nintendo is aware of this staunch allegiance because whenever a new console is released a new Zelda game is sure to follow shortly afterwards. Handheld devices, however, do not have an immediate game. An example of this is the fact the Game Boy Advance debuted in 2001 and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was released 2004.

In 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System, better known as NES, was introduced and in 1986 The Legend of Zelda was born. Over 60 million units were sold during this time.

In 1991, the 16-bit processing Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released and soon after in 1992, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past became available.

Nintendo 64 set the new standard for 3-D gaming graphics in 1996 and in 1998 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time set the new standard for all the Zelda games to come. Ocarina of Time is still so beloved that it was recently remade for the Nintendo 3DS handheld in 3-D.

The Nintendo Gamecube debuted in 2001 along with the new Game Boy Advance. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released in Japan in 2002 and in North America in 2003. The Wind Waker is still one of the most controversial of the Zelda games to date due to the new art style used, which was cell-shading.

Nintendo introduced the ground-breaking motion sensing Wii in 2006 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess also came out in 2006. Twilight Princess was originally supposed to be exclusively for the Gamecube, but as the unveiling of the Wii was approaching, Nintendo went ahead and made two versions of the game with the Wii version being a mirror of the Gamecube's edition.

One excellent example of Nintendo's savvy marketing skills is the Wii Zapper, an accessory that turns the Wii remote and Nunchuck into a sharpshooter format. The Wii Zapper is bundled with Link's Crossbow Training, a non-canon Zelda shooter game set in Twilight Princess graphics.

The Wii Zapper

There has yet to be any other must-have games that require the Zapper and it's unlikely there will be. It simply used the title of Zelda and it sold to those hard-core fans who can't get enough of Link, Twilight Princess graphics, or just some good ole fashioned shoot 'em up games.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword launched in 2011, also marking the 25th anniversary of the legendary game series, but more importantly Skyward Sword required the Wii MotionPlus, which is an accessory that improved the accuracy and recognition of users' movements of the remote. Coincidence? I think not.

The newest Nintendo console is the Wii U, which came out in 2012, and for the first time there will not be a new Legend of Zelda game ,but instead The Wind Waker will be rebooted in HD. There are rumors that later a new Zelda game will be made for Wii U, but there is insufficient information at this time for any facts.

Facts from and

Monday, September 9, 2013

YA topic evolution

Young adult books, better known as YA, are the books that teens read and one out of pack gets chosen to become the model for the rest for that time period.

To elaborate, from the time I became an avid reader, "Harry Potter" was the thing every kid was reading or wanted to read. If you noticed, similar novels during this time focused on witches and wizard and the like. The series "Children of the Red King" by Jenny Nimmo is an example of a magical themed series that picked up in the middle of Potter-mania.

The iconic "Harry Potter" series

The next fantasy fad was spawned by Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series. The rise of vampires and their love stories soon followed. Each author tried to add a different twist to differentiate from Meyer's massively successful vampire/werewolf/human love triangle. A smaller amount of werewolf/shapeshifter themed books also appeared during this time period.

Some of the other vampire book series that appeared are "Vampire Academy" by Richelle Meads and "The House of Night" by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. There is also a branch of novels written making fun of the vampire romances for those who aren't fans of "Twilight."

The shift to the next genre was not as dramatically noted, but "The Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare is probably the best example that people are familiar with since the first book has recently been made into a movie. The theme this time is fallen angels, demons, and angels in general. There is much more diversity in this field because of the different interpretations of angels.

"Fallen" by Lauren Kate is a Gothic love triangle between a girl and two fallen angels, but one chose to side with Lucifer. In Becca Fitzpatrick's "Hush, Hush" series is about another girl who falls in love with a fallen angel, but discovers her own angelic heritage.

The current YA literature topic is the undead. Anything zombie is immediately devoured by readers, no pun intended. The trailblazer for this genre is Max Brooks with his "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War." While there were previous zombie books, this was the one that started the forest fire and hit TV show "The Walking Dead" based on a comic book series continues to fuel the current fantasy fandom.

However, there is a new mythical creature focus that is brewing and slowly on the rise. And that, my friends, is mermaids. Yes, wait and see soon the bookstore teen section will be covered with them. The "Lost Voices" trilogy by Sarah Porter is probably one of the earliest examples of this rising theme.

"The Twice Lost" which is the third and final installment of Sarah Porter's "Lost Voices" series

To list some other mermaid titles would be "Between the Sea and Sky" by Jaclyn Dolamore, "Fins Are Forever" by Tera Lynn Childs, and "Of Poseidon" by Anna Banks are just a few of the new fantasy genre for YA.

There is no telling where the YA books will turn to next, but it is sure to stay in the supernatural and/or fantasy world because let's face it people want to read about things you don't find in real life.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Movie scores: musical emotion

Most people don't really think about the background music in movies. It is generally ignored and simply enters the mind on a subconscious level, but watch a chase scene on mute and you are less likely to be tensed up or anxious for the protagonist.

Soundtracks and scores can help add to a movie's greatness. Imagine watching "Jaws" without that all too familiar ominous "da dum da dum dun dun dun dun..." Scores serve as an auditory cue for viewers. They alert them to danger or when something is wrong.

Some of the other functions of scores are to evoke emotion, excitement, or eeriness. The best composers in the business have had a hand in many different films or a certain genre. With an attuned ear it is easy to pick up on their trademark sound.

For instance, listen to part of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" then watch the beginning battle scene in "Gladiator" against the Germanic tribes. The two sound remarkably similar and that is because they are both composed by  Hans Zimmer. He is best known for his powerful percussion and loud brass sections.

Certain composers have been known to work along with specific filmmakers. One of the best examples of this dynamic duo is Steven Spielberg and John Williams. Williams has composed some of the most iconic movie themes such as "Indiana Jones," "Jurassic Park," "E.T.," and of course "Jaws." It was Spielberg who recommended Williams to compose for George Lucas' "Star Wars" films.

Another great, but less known composer is Alexandre Desplat, who is known for having such moving orchestral pieces. He has worked on films such as "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" and Part 2, "The King's Speech,"  "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and even "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."

Desplat weaves magic in his scores. Listeners can feel the agony and the pain in his song "Obliviate" where Hermione from the "Harry Potter" movies must wipe her parents' memories for their safety. He conveys emotion without using any words or visuals. Now think of what type of skill it takes to simply use sound to express the complex actions and thoughts that are going on in the movie.

Composers and their scores are an integral part to making movies what they are on the silver screen. So next time when seeing a movie, listen. When you think there is silence there usually is some soundtrack playing in the background, complementing the events happening on screen.

This is just one of the examples of a movie score.