Gamers (2006)…let me elaborate.

So I’ve had a couple of stressful days away from this film, and I have a few more things to ad. 

My biggest issue with this film is how very crappy the characters are as people. We’ve got (and I’m stealing most of this from the sparse tvtropes.org page):

  • Paul: A telephone relay operator who lives with his parents. 
  • Gordon: A low-level public television employee who lives with his parents.
  • Kevin: The GM. A musician (in the loosest sense of the word) who rents a room from his grandparents. Kevin insists on never fraternizing with the players outside the game.
  • Fernando: Sent to America from Argentina after he embarrassed his family by sucking at “the soccer”. Fernando supposedly learned English by playing DND. Lives with his girlfriend but suspects correctly that she is cheating on him. He jerks off horses for a living.
  • Reese: A late addition to the group who none of the other players much care for. Fills just about every stereotype of the annoying and creepy gamer. Lives in a one bedroom apartment with his mother.

These characters gave me nothing. NOTHING to care about. They’re either losers, creepy weirdos, or jerks (see what I did there?). They don’t even seem to like each other. Why should I care about them, or their gaming streak, or any of the weird, stupid stuff that happens to them? I’ve got my own problems, that involve real games. 

I may have issues with GamerZ ( which I’ll get too soon, i hope. Also, can we decide on something DIFFERENT for a gamer movie title from now on?), but at least I thought the characters were interesting, if not likeable. They were strange, but they were strange in a way that made you WANT to see what happened next. Gamers started right away with the gags and crappy jokes, and gave you nothing. I payed for this movie, with real money. Don’t waste yours. Or do, I’m not a cop.

Diceroller Flicks: Zero Charisma…Finally

I’m back folks! Please, let’s hold off the raucous applause and adulation until after the review.

Today we look at one of the newer entries into my bailiwick. I proffer to you, Zero Charisma. Released last October, the film was funded on Indiegogo.com, making about $25,000 for production.

It follows Scott, metalhead, delivery boy, and the general stereotype of a Game master that takes his fantasy too seriously.

As our film starts, it’s interesting to note that this is the second film I’ve looked at that starts in a supermarket. The main character Scott is buying snacks for his gaming group.

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If you could call them that.

I like this guy’s style. He’s got a bumper sticker on his car that says “Because I’m the Game Master…that’s why”. He arrives to his game, and the night seems to be going really well, he’s got snacks, a real DM screen (Lucky him, I made mine out of cardboard, and then glued a bunch of AD&D rules inside it. Alas, it was destroyed in the purge [when I moved a few months ago]), all his players sitting around his kitchen table, and he seems to be working his magic as a game master, until his friend makes a small joke that happens to interrupt his narration.

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I’ve been there. It took a week to get the blood off the game mat.

Slightly irked, he continues his narration, that is until his grandmother comes in to make a sandwich and asks him to open a jar for her. When he gets up to do that, one player leaves the room to make a call, and the others start watching the latest episode of their webseries.

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Scott goes to check on Kenny, the guy who left the room. You know, it’s a pretty big rule of mine (and I’m sure the same goes for a lot of you) that I don’t allow cell phones at the table. I don’t know what this guy’s doing that’s so important, but he did get up without saying anything. That’s pretty rude. Scott chooses to ignore Kenny’s blatant disregard for etiquette and just tells him to come back to the game. He says he’ll be back in a minute. Dude, you can’t start the game without everyone at the table! What’s your deal?

His wife’s leaving him? Oh. Umm…that’s not good…Well, I guess he’s allowed to have a reprieve. He says he can’t play anymore, and Scott tries to reason with him, saying they’ve been playing the same continuous weekly game for three years.

THREE YEARS?!? Kenny, bro. Let’s be reasonable, there are other fish in the sea…

What? You think that’s cold? I’d move to Tiksi if it meant a weekly game.

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I jest. Kinda.

Anyway, this means that Scott’s group is now incomplete. Because Scott is the kind of guy that can’t tie his shoes without rolling a success check, this comes as a bit of a shock. Seriously though, you can really tell that RPGs are his life. He gives this impassioned speech about “reawakening the tradition of communal storytelling” to one of the prospective players, and even though it didn’t get him very far, and was so much marketing baloney.

While delivering Chinese food to the local game store (from which he was fired the previous month for letting the cash register get robbed), he runs into Miles. Miles is looking to get back into D&D, and Scott takes the opportunity to rope him in.

The next game session rolls around (see what I did there? Like dice!), and Miles shows up. This guy seems really cool, he brings a six-pack, he’s a hugger, he’s up on his nerd trivia (Apparently the Millennium Falcon is faster than the Enterprise. Who knew?), and he’s a really great role-player. He’s a little too perfect for Scott, who likes to be in charge in order to put himself above others, (plus Miles answered a text at the table. Seriously, that’s just wrong) and heads are butted.

That night, Scott’s grandmother has a stroke, and his mother, Barbara, comes to visit her. Apparently Scott and his grandmother share a dislike for her, and it’s easy to see why. She’s pushy, controlling, and dramatic, and a little self-centered. Her fiance that she dragged along with her seems a little backwoods, but you can tell he’s trying to be a good guy. And she clearly doesn’t approve of him playing “that little dragons game”.

Quick tangent. Sorry. The thing is, I have never understood why people can look at certain things and think “Oh, that’s immature”. The really cool thing about being an adult? It’s that I get to decide what being an adult means, no one else. If I want to piss away hard earned money on plastic figurines and dice and books, that’s my prerogative. You watch football? I watch Game Grumps. Entertainment is entertainment. To each his own, right?

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Even this guy. Especially this guy

Anyway….sorry.

At the next game session, Miles wants to put the webseries the two guys were making onto his website, a popular geek-gaming-pop culture news site called geekchic.com. Which is apparently like a Nerdist.com or Kotaku stand-in for this movie. Scott tries to puff himself up. He’s got a blog, a totally awesome blog that is “mostly game related, but he writes about movies and other stuff”….I wouldn’t know anything about that. I’d kill for his “14 visitors a week” though….

Barbara tries to stop the game, telling him it’s late and to “be an adult”, and he tells her to leave. This means war, and she sits down with the group, telling all kinds of embarrassing stories about Scott until he quits. He storms up to his room, and in classic “I can’t deal with my emotions” fashion, blasts some thrash metal and puts his fist through his bedroom wall.

They decide to hold the next session at Mile’s house. Things just can’t get much worse at this point, right? WRONG!

Miles not only runs a popular website, is relatively physically attractive, nerd-savvy, and has a super cute girlfriend, he’s also a talented comic book artist with a really nice house.

After a failed attempt at claiming he wrote The Matrix (long story), Scott ends up crying in Mile’s bathroom. Throughout the movie, we see Scott painting a mini of  Ulric Bennevon, his DM avatar character in his campaign setting. He uses Ulric to block the PCs from gaining a certain plot-necessary magic item called the Stones of Light, and tries to shepherd them into a quest.

Miles decides he wants to just kill the guy and take the stones. Having been confronted on his controlling nature, Scott flips out and reveals to the room that essentially, he thinks that all his friends are losers, that he thinks their webseries sucks, and he hangs out with them to be the big man, something he just accused Miles of doing.

As much as I want to hate him, I can’t. Honestly I used to be this guy. I’m sure a lot of insecure nerds have done similar things in the past. Especially the ones that are big on fantasy because they prefer it to real life.

There’s a lot going on in this movie…Barbara tries to sell her mother’s house because she’s in a lot of debt and doesn’t want her fiancée to know. As the house had been promised to Scott, he’s more than a little upset.

You should have seen it before…

Amidst the rubble, he sees a picture of Greg “Totally Not Gary Gygax” Goran, the Godfather of Gaming. Who he remembers is making an appearance at the game store soon. He decides to go and see him, to clear up some of his doubts (as well as try to get his old job back). After this fails, and he’s at the lowest of the low and seething so hard you can see his ears steaming, he shows up to Miles house, where he’s having a party and all the cool, hipster-y people are there (excluding the game group). This random party guy named Kevin who looks a lot like Oancitizen goads Scott into challenging Miles to a medieval-style duel. With Crutches.

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Screw Kevin.

Miles is clearly panicking, his thin veneer of plastic glasses and cool-guy facial hair fading, he has nothing else to do but follow along. But then he gets a shot to the face, and repays in kind with a punch to the stomach that floors Scott. Scotts sidekick, who shows up to pick up Scott, jumps on Miles and gets a fistful of his hair.

After a brief time skip, Scott is now working at the retirement community that his grandmother agreed to go to after the house was sold. He’s looking after his grandmother and running an RPG for some of the old folks. One of the old guys tries to put the moves on a female character. It’s pretty cute. Fun Fact: Did you know that the STD rate among retirees has doubled in the last decade?

I think a lot of freaks and geeks can identify with some aspect of the main character. I know I could. That’s actually one of the reasons this took so long to do. It felt a bit too personal for me to comment on it. He’s socially inept, controlling, selfish, takes things way too seriously, can be over dramatic, can’t handle his emotions well, and puts other people down in order to make himself feel better. At least half of those were me in middle school. But that’s the point. He realizes all of these things and by the end of the film, he hasn’t changed too much, but he’s a lot happier and a lot more self-aware, as well a bit more forgiving of others.  And I think that makes all the difference.

Portrayal of RPGs – 4/5

There isn’t really a lot of RPG in this RPG movie. It’s about the gamers. There’s no “game world” footage, no random in-jokes about kobolds or mind flayers, and we barely see the sessions that take place throughout the film. The few times we get a good look at them, they’re very solid. and while Scott (the character, not Sam Eidson, the guy playing him) isn’t the greatest of actors, you can tell that he puts a lot of himself into the game. I would have liked to see a little more of it as the film progressed.

The Plot – 3/5

This movie, technically, is really well shot, well-acted, and the writing is pretty good. It almost seems to  suffer from another case of “Don’t sue us, please”, but it’s more subverted, in that the real counterparts do exist in universe, they just choose to do their own thing.

If I had to not like something about this movie, it’s the time skip at the end. It’s not jarring, but it really implies a lot that I would have liked to see. I can’t believe I’m saying this but “SHOW! DON’T TELL!”. You can see that Scott is a lot happier with this life, and although he hasn’t learned much, he’s much more relaxed.

Huh. Well, I guess this didn’t need that much editing after all. If you want to check out Zero Charisma, it’s available for streaming on Netflix, Amazon instant video and…Google Play? You can watch movies  on that? Huh. Cool. Anyway, until next time, See ya cyborgs!

NOTE: Due to a shift in my schedule, Tuesday will now be the day that I’ll be regularly updating. I can’t promise movie reviews, but I’ll have something for you to see here!

Lions and Tigers and Updates, oh my!

Oh…yeah. You’re still here….well, I don’t really want this to die, but I don’t have time for it these days. I mentioned a while back that I had a super-secret project I’m working on, well, I might as well tell you. I want to transition to video reviews. There were some films that I looked at, namely Gamerz, that I felt text just couldn’t do justice to, and hopefully, if I can get a little face to face time with you all, that might help. I’m chasing a few leads to get that up in the air, but my partner-in-crime on that venture is being somewhat of a flake. I also want to branch out into tabletop RPG inspired video games, and some other things (whatever I feel like doing, really). IF you have suggestions, put them in the comments, please…please?

I’ve been trying to learn how to animate, but it’s slow going. Can anyone out there help out?

In gaming news, I recently purchased a Chessex Megamat (it was a bit spendy, but I worked a little overtime recently, I think I can afford it.) and I’m slowly building up a collection of miniatures from the Pathfinder sets. If anyone has any minis they don’t want, I’d be glad to take them off your hands (I’ll pay if you’re not into that whole charity thing…).  I’m hoping to get a 3.5 game together with my roommates and ease myself back into it.

This year’ll be an interesting one, to say the least.

Diceroller Flicks: Tripod vs. The Dragon

Are you ready folks? Today is a very special one, at least, I think it is. You decide.

Tripod Vs. The Dragon is a filming of a stageplay put on by one of my favorite comedy music groups from Australia (big list of contenders, I know, but they’re seriously really funny, check ’em out) Tripod, and Australian singer Elana Stone. The concept title was Dungeons and Dragons: The Musical, but they changed it for legal reasons.

The story starts (and they won’t let you forget this) at the dawn of time. The goddess of the word, The Tree of Knowledge, was attacked by wizards so they could steal a branch to forge a Spear of Knowledge.

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And would you look at that production value! Such beauty! An overhead projector never looked so good!

Meanwhile, in the real word, it’s Saturday, and and the game is just starting. Our Players (in the theatrical sense, not the other one): Elana, who plays the DM, as well as the Lady in Red, aka Somethingsomething. Scod: Resident numbers-man (or munchkin, as they are better known) who plays a wizard. Yon: He plays a cleric, but if he had his say, he’d be playing a dog-man. Finally, Gatesy: The new player in the group. He wanted to be a bard, but the wizard wouldn’t let him.

Being new to the game, Gatesy asks what he can “do” in the game. He decides to go busking. The DM allows this, despite protests from the other players.

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Although everyone knows that a REAL D&D game always starts with “you all meet in a tavern…”

Inside his lute-case afterwards, he finds a map with a big empty space missing from it. They decide they need to fill in the gap and their adventure begins. After a run in with an orc, they go to a tavern for Open-Mic night. Gatesy meets a fellow singer and the woman of his dreams, the Lady in Red, whose name he neglects to learn. She sings a beautiful song outlining the entire plot, which goes straight over his head. She then tells him outright that if he goes to the blank on the map, he’ll get eaten by a dragon. This again goes right over his head. Did I mention that he rolled poor intelligence? They vow to meet again someday.

Continuing their quest, the group gets split up in the mountains, and Scod the Wizard gets lost in the dark. He happens upon the Twin Wizards, two brothers who offer him ultimate power and a cool party hat if he can kill the dragon that guards the Tree of Knowledge.

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They look trustworthy, right?

They bequeath him the Spear of knowledge and send him on his way. He rejoins the others, and they hop a boat to the spot on the map.

Arriving in a beautiful garden. Gatesy sits back and relaxes, when the red dragon, guardian of the Tree appears and begins divebombing the adventurers. Shoving the Spear into Gatesy’s hands, Scod shrinks to the back and Gatesy thrusts the spear at the dragons hide, piercing it. The dragon begins to die, revealing it self to be none other but Somethingsomething, the Lady in Red!

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Awkward…..

Scod runs off and gets his hat and flashlight from the Twin Wizards. But ultimate power is not without it’s price, and he soon grow to regret making his friend kill the woman he loves. He sends him a note with instructions: How to get to the underworld. He and Yon separate, Yon going to find Scod, and Gatesy going off to confront the Devil.

Scod and Yonny fight the twin wizards, almost getting boiled inside out until they snap the Spear in half and use it on the wizards. This scene is neat, but only exists to tie up Scod’s story line.

In Hell, after getting past Cerberus, Gatesy confronts The Devil, offering to play the best song ever in exchange for the release of Somethingsomething’s soul. He does so, playing one of my favorite tracks on the soundtrack, Heart of a Fighter. Impressed, Satan lets them go, and they travel up and out of the underworld, only for the game to end.

Portrayal of RPGs – 4/5

Because the film spends most of its time inside the game world, there isn’t a lot of room for meta-humor, but you can tell that Tripod are or at least have been gamers at one point of another, If you don’t believe me,  listen to the final song of the production, and my favorite song, Bard. It’s a neat tune about being an ostracized schoolkid, and speaks volumes to me.

The Plot- 5/5

I rate this one so high because, as you may have guessed, not only am I totally in the tank for this film, but these ratings aren’t really ratings of quality, they’re my rating of whether or not the film does it’s job. The acting was pretty on-par with those groups that go to schools to to PSA skits about bullying and drugs. Not masterful, a little hammy, but I love it, and I think it really works here.

This movie is one of my favorites. It has all of my favorite things. A classic fantasy story with a few twists, gamer humor, well put together music. If anything, the music is the best part. The soundtrack is available on Itunes and Elana Stone’s voice alone is worth the listen. The film itself is available on Amazon, or you can find it on Youtube, but I’m not going to link to it because it isn’t an official video.

If you think I was a little biased toward this movie (teehee!), leave a comment or email me at goblingilmartin@gmail.com.

See you all next Sunday, where I’m going to look at a movie with the word “gamer” in the title.

Diceroller Flicks: Unicorn City

Hey folks, after an 80 dollar replacement hard drive made its way to me, I’m back in business.

This week, we’re taking a look at Unicorn City (which came out in February of this year).  Distributed by Gravitas Ventures and Written by Adrian and Bryan Lefler, one of whom had a hand in Napoleon Dynamite. Unicorn City is a solid whole of a film. It won a bunch of awards at film festivals and even got “Best Film” at Gencon.  It’s when I turned on the critic-vision and looked closer that I had some issues with it, but I’ll get into those later. 

The story follows a man named Voss, and his attempt to get a job at “Warlocks of the Beach”. This film suffers from a heavy case of “don’t sue us, please”, replacing well known entities with off-brand names in order to not have to deal with intellectual property issues. Expect to see that a lot here. Anyway, on with the summary:

The film opens with Voss and his gaming guild playing a game of DoD (Dawn of Days), run by a creepy old guy who goes by his character’s name, Shadow Hawk. Shadow Hawk, is a “me vs. them” DM, also known as the worst possible kind. The usual suspects have been gathered: a gaming group composed of our main characters: Guy with his girlfriend hanging off him, quiet girl who seems to be there more for the players than the game, the foreigner, a guy who reminds me of Badger from breaking bad if he gain a ton of weight, and a biker looking guy. Voss seems to be the intense one, taking things pretty seriously, arguing with the GM, and in a moment of passion, stabs the gaming table with a sword.

As Voss and Marsha (the quiet girl who would like nothing better than to be in a Voss sandwich) head home after the police show up, it is revealed that Voss works with his brother selling tacos, but has a job interview with Warlock of the Beach. Also Marsha is e-dating someone named Tanick Stormblade. Don’t you just love fantasy character names? Me, I tend to stick to faux-Greek sounding names and Disney characters, but that’s just me.

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Unfortunately, her animal companion is a flounder.

Voss tells Marsha that his girlfriend broke up with him, and you just feel that wave of holycrapyesyesyes!!! that she is suppressing because of the ladyboner that she has for Voss that he’s too wrapped up in his own little word to see.

As Voss fixes a real knife onto one of his miniatures, he expresses his philosophy “you are what you pretend to be. “Wanna be a knight? Pretend you’re a knight, live by their code. Think like one and in the end, you are a knight”. Well, this much is true. Actually I’m just pretending to be a blogger. Seems to be working out so far. At least, better than that time I pretended to be a licensed OB/GYN. Waay better.

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Is this thing on?

Then in walks the Hobbit- Lover himself, Kevin Weisman, playing everyone’s older brother who rocks sleeveless shirts, wears sunglasses at night, and takes himself way too seriously and puts his siblings in choke-holds. Apparently they’re going to be evicted from their apartment if Voss can’t help with the rent.

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“Say you like Dave Matthews, go on, say it!!!

Social anxiety Stacy is playing Shmerld of Shmorcraft with the online boyfriend she mentioned. She breaks up with him because Voss is now available. That’s cold. She then runs over to Voss’ house out of nowhere and says she wants her character and Voss’ character to be love interests, all while the man hasn’t finished brushing his teeth yet. You know, if she weren’t so endearing and anxious and pretty, and the object of her affection so oblivious, this would be stalking.

He interviews for a position managing an ARG, but the interviewer says he needs to have experience leading a team and gives him a couple of weeks to wow him with some kind of project demonstrating leader-type qualities.

Voss comes out to his group that he wants to be the new gamemaster. They all jump at the chance to get away from the creepy old man in the shiny shirt. The GM cheats and issues one last challenge: Defeat the final boss of the campaign, whose stats have been secretly boosted up. After a couple of bad rolls, his character is killed, and he storms off to plan his next move.

Marsha brings it up that they should start a new campaign, and Voss says you can’t just “willy-nilly a campaign together. My thoughts on that later. She says that the other players trust him to lead them in a game, so why not in real life? Why not indeed…

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Definite upper-level management material, don’t you think?

He figures out a solution to his problem. Starting a LARP! but he can’t tell his friends why, because they “won’t be themselves”. Somehow this works, and all of his friends are willing to drop everything for days and come with him to the mountains.

Their first adventure is a hit, and Unicorn city soon gathers more LARPers for their project, including a centaur, a kenku, an elf, a knight and a succubus.

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Llllladies…

During an unsuccessful mission, The elf gets picked up by the police for loitering.

Getting nowhere with Voss, Marsha is persuaded by her friend to do a seductive dance by the fireside, for some reason she’s wearing her bra on the outside. after this doesn’t ellicit the response she wanted, she takes Voss aside, throws caution to the wind and kisses him. This gets his attention, but she freaks out and runs away.

The next morning, trouble brews. a Greyhound bus sits across from their camp, and evil should lurk inside? It’s the douchebag GM from earlier they all ditched and a bunch of guys dressed up as orcs, Also known as any average convention weekend.

And soon a news crew appears and wants to interview Voss. They ask for a shot of him on top of a mountain for their piece, and he and the Badger-looking guy from earlier, Clancy, get in the back of their van. When they get far enough away from the camp, the “news crew” ditches them. I’ll just let what Cat-man Clancy had to say speak for itself:

“How did we not see that coming? We were such idiots, man. Like, there were no channel numbers on the van, and then we got in and they’re like ‘hey, you want some candy?’ and then we’re like sure, take us to an undisclosed location and dump our bodies!”

After fighting with Clancy, Voss takes the long, silent walk back to camp. He arrives to find that his entire camp has deserted him, except for Marsha of course. Figuring Shadow Hawk had something to do with his abduction he challenges him to a duel, the weapon? Yo Mamma jokes. No, I’m serious. Someone call Wilmer Valderama. I can’t be the only high school sophomore to have seen that show, can I?

Voss loses, and is banished. In the resulting scuffle, Marsha gets smacked across the face. At this point Voss might as well be double banished. and he goes home to his brother.

After he gets some sense choked into him, Voss returns to the camp to win back his people, and Marsha, who’s being worked over by Shadow Hawk, who reveals himself to be none other than Tanick Stormblade. Posing as a 26 year old online is a great way to pick up chicks. Understandably skeeved out, she escapes just as the police show up and explain that the entire area they’ve been camping in is a toxic dumping ground, hence the elf being arrested for loitering previously. After chasing off Shadow Hawk and getting tased by the cops, Voss leads a charge that chases off the police. You can just smell the “not gonna end well” from here. A SWAT team arrests them, and they get taken to court, where the judge lets them off with community service, turning Unicorn City into a community event where people can bring their families and play games.

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Although I admit this gives me a sudden craving for snow cones. 

The judge did have one minor stipulation though. He’ll knock 100 hours off of their punishment as long as he gets to be the king.

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S’good to be the king.

Also Voss gets the job, of course he would. the interviewer says a canned food drive probably would have been enough. He turns it down anyway to be with Marsha. He sets up Unicorn City in the city park, and it becomes a smash hit. All’s well that ends well, except that our hero is still jobless, with no way to pay his rent except for unemployment.

Portrayal of RPGs – 2/5

I wasn’t happy with the way gaming was portrayed in this flick. It seems like thanks to suffering from “don’t sue us” syndrome, where really obvious facsimiles for real world companies and products stand in for the real thing, they end up glossing over a lot, and it seems poorly handled.

Another big aspect of the film was the LARPing. Like I stated before, somehow over a dozen people are just able to drop everything to come to this LARP/camping trip on a moments notice, it’s a suspension of disbelief that I have a hard time with in a realistic setting. But that’s just my own opinion. I spent the entire duration of Man Of Steel cringing at the property damage during the final action scene.

I’m going to put up a mini-post in a day or two with some extra thoughts about gaming in this movie.

The Plot – 3/5

Honestly, the first time I saw this movie, I really liked it. On my second viewing, with my reviewer hat on, I thought it ran a little long. Not in a really damaging way, but I think the middle-third could have used a little trimming. Everything works out in the end, kinda.
All’s well that ends well, except that our hero is still jobless, with no way to pay his rent, because he’s too good to sell fish tacos, and this is all glossed over. As someone who is currently unemployed, I’d take that job in a hot second.

I have a bit more to say on the subject, but I’m going to save that for it’s own post. too much to discuss.

I’d just like to close saying that I really wanted to like this movie, and it isn’t all that bad. if you think you might like this movie, it’s available on all sorts of on demand services, like Hulu and Netflix, also you can purchase a copy of the film from the film’s website, unicorncity.com.

Also sorry about some of the image sizes in this post, I’ll fix ’em so that the ants can’t get to them. I hope you liked these ramblings of mine. If you did, expect a little something extra soon. If not, I’ll see you next Sunday for the next full review. I’m keeping it a surprise this time. Bye!

Diceroller Flicks: THACO: The Movie

I’m starting my blog officially by looking at THACO: The Movie. The films’ website thacothemovie.com, describes it like this:

THACO is a comedy by Bill Stiteler about three thirtysomething roleplaying nerds who spend game night waiting for their perpetually late friend to show up. The trio spend the day analysing the effect that fantasy and geekery have altered their lives and never quite getting around to playing the games they enjoy.

Originally a one act play by Stiteler, It was made into a fifty minute film in 2007.

The movie opens with a man in a cloak introducing us to the World of RPGs. This is Aaron, whose absence from the rest of the film is the whole reason it exists. What is he doing to hold up the game? Laundry. He goes through the worst types of players you’ll meet when you play. Munchkins – Kill-crazy anthill-boilers who would sell their mother if it let them “win” the game. Rules-Lawyers, who will spend all night arguing with the DM over some minutia in the rules. And loophole experts. RPGs contain a lot of rules, clarifications to those rules, and various errata. I once knew a man that using only a halfling, a gauntlet, and a few conflictingly-worded luck feats, could do an infinite amount of damage with a punch. One tap from this guy would rip a whole in space-time.

When we finally get to the film proper, We meet Duck and Bill. Duck has lost his super-special-lucky four-sided die. He reasons that as a fighter, who can use all weapons, he should, you know, carry all weapons, even ones he doesn’t need, like a dagger.

While looking around for his precious, he comes across something he never thought he would see. a dog-eared copy of GURPS. Now GURPS might seem like good fun, what with it’s do-it-yourself approach to a game system and super expansive character creation, but before you know it, you’re huddled up in the corner talking to a blueberry muffin and wondering “Just where did I go wrong?”…

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He knows what I mean….

Duck uses his find to get a new d4 as hush money. They travel outside (or as a title card calls it “Adventures Aboveground”) to the local gaming store, There they meet one of the missing members of their group, Jon. Jon figured, if the game was at noon, and it’s 1 o’ clock now, he’d have at least an hour before Aaron showed up. As someone who has run a few games In my time, this thinking isn’t that unwarranted.  Also, Neil Gaiman is there.

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He probably doesn’t know why either….

They go for coffee after Neil gets them thrown from the store, and discuss the dark days of gaming, when poor, defenseless gamers were being used by Satan and Chick Tracts roamed the land, and how Mazes and Monsters is a far out game (and probably not a movie I’m going to cover, but If I get enough requests, maybe I’ll consider it).

They return to the basement, and further shoot the shit about the psychosis of young gamers. I would totally want a cock ring of magic missile.

Then there’s a really cool little scene where Duck tries to sneak through Jon’s character’s stuff, and has to do it in the style of an old-school text adventure.

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I’d make an “eaten by a grue” joke, but they already did….ummmm….can he get ye flask? Yeah, that’s a joke….

Then the next title card is “Belief Systems”. Duck refuses to convert from AD&D 2nd Edition to 3rd. I understand the dilemma. After playing both, I’m glad 3.5 and Pathfinder are things that exist.  Things are quickly smoothed over as Jon tells him that he can play a Drow Monk thanks to class restrictions being lifted.

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You can also play as one of these, if you’re so inclined. But that’s another story…

The REAL clincher is that they removed THAC0. While some gamers would mourn the loss, and some would say “good riddance”. Duck is PISSED. The culture shock is too much. When he compares it to GURPS, the table is silenced. The conversation is dropped.

They discuss switching systems. Cthulhu is too predictable ( I too have had a character’s dead relative give them a mansion, only for strange occurrences to take place). Shadowrun is too much like…Quake…Okay…GURPS is laughed away. No Superhero game is balanced enough. Vampire is a little…queer….

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For the life of me I have no idea what they mean…..

The next title card “Conflict Resolution”, leads to an argument. Bill’s adventure was apparently written on cling wrap, because his players saw right through it. He thought he was being clever, and this revelation causes him to hide under the table. They assure him they are still having fun (DMs need their ego stroked occasionally, it’s necessary for our mental well-being), and they go back to the table, only to be interrupted by the on;y thing a DM fears more than running out of plot hooks. THE CELL PHONE! Seriously, if I can get real-talk on you for a sec, the number one rule of ANY RPG after “the DM is always right, as long as it helps the story” is “NO CELL PHONES AT THE TABLE”. It’s hard enough to keep players involved as it is without someone’s girlfriend texting them…

If Hitler, Satan, and Carrot Top Had a baby, This would still be worse:

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The next title card “Encumbrance Penalties” is an interesting treatise on the comsumerist culture of gamers and geeks in general. Jon imagines himself as one of the Junk Women from Labyrinth, and this scares him enough to sell all of this nerd swag. As an opponent of the “buy-more” geek culture, I think this is honestly a pretty inspiring moment.

Finally, the man who started it all, Aaron shows up, just as everyone was getting ready to pack it in for the day.  He muses on what gaming does for him, and how he can hang out with his best friends and do cool stuff. Duck then attempts to kill his character.

The movie ends and the credits roll with a rap, presumably by Duck.

All-in all, I really liked this flick. It’s a pretty realistic look into a bunch of geeks sitting around the table talking about stuff. If you spend any amount of time in a local game store, you’ll probably see three or four people just like the main characters in this film (but probably with longer hair).

Portrayal of RPGs – 5/5

This movie doesn’t try to play fast and loose with RPGs. There are actually a lot of jokes that people unfamiliar with certain games would not find quite as funny.

The Plot – 4/5

A lot of gamers would have given up and gone home long before Aaron could have returned to the film. Everything else isn’t so much a cohesive plot but a series of events strung together by title cards. This isn’t trying to be a grand story, just a peek at a group of nerds, and it achieves this really well.

If you want to check it out, you can get the DVD on Amazon or the entire movie is available for watching here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOgtY7vMeDo on Bill Stiteler’s youtube channel. Let ’em know I sent you!

In case you want more, I’ll try to have another review of one of the films on my list by next Sunday the 5th.

Diceroller Flicks: Hello from the goblin!

I’m creating this blog for a few reasons. I love movies, I love pen-and-paper RPGs, and I love movies about pen-and-paper RPGs. Hopefully I can use this blog to catalog the good and the bad of gamer flicks. The movies I hope to cover soon (in no particular order) are:

  • THAC0
  • Gamerz
  • Unicorn City
  • The Gamers
  • The Gamers 2 Dorkness Rising
  • Tripod vs. The Dragon

If you have any you’d like to see discussed, Leave a comment and I’ll take it under consideration.