Up, Grief, and Healing from Loss

Disney-Pixar’s Up has a special place in my heart. It’s a fun adventure film with some stunning animation and great writing, and every time I sit down to rewatch it, I find myself in love with nearly everything on the screen all over again. This wasn’t always the case, though. The story is centered on a man dealing with his wife’s death, and fridgings are an overused trope that I hate a great deal. But the more I thought about it, the less this fridging in particular bothered me. Up takes that common trope and reworks it into an important life lesson with a surprisingly positive message about dealing with the death of a loved one.

Continue reading

Left Behind: A Survival Story

jpgGentle readers, a little while ago I promised to review the new The Last of US DLC when it came out. Titled Left Behind, it was released on February 14th, which, among other things, was the same day that Ellen Page came out of the closet. This will become important later. In any case, because of a hateful thing that I call a “job”, I didn’t get to download and install it until today. It took me a couple hours to make my way through, with lots of pausing to gush about various parts. My review can be summed up thusly: it is important, and it is awesome.

My editors are telling me that I have to write more than that, so I’ll start by telling you why it’s awesome. Left Behind opens on a series of flashbacks which you’ll recognize if played the base game, a scene where Joel is gravely injured. Now, in the normal game, Ellie shoots her way out the front door, Ellie and Joel get on a horse, Joel falls off, fade-to-black, wake up in the Colorado wilderness. You start Left Behind playing through the story of how Ellie gets Joel patched up and manages to move him after he passes out. This adventure is interpolated by the story of Ellie and Riley, which you may remember was mentioned at the end of The Last of Us.

left-behind-dlc-release-last-of-us rileyThat story opens with a flashback to Riley, who, not for nothing, is a dead ringer for what you’d imagine a young Marlene to look like. She has reappeared in Ellie’s life after a long absence (about forty-five days) and surprises her by sneaking into her military school bedroom. After a confrontation about Ellie thinking that Riley was dead and Riley having joined the Fireflies, they venture off to rediscover their friendship via mischief in a local mall. Cut back to the mall in Colorado, where Ellie is attempting to collect the necessary supplies to suture Joel’s wound, and must move earth and sky to do so. I’ll get back to plot in a second, but it was at about this point in Left Behind that I noticed that Ellie’s sprint was slower in the snow.

(Fair warning: major spoilers after the jump.)

One More Post About The Last of Us. Muahaha!

original (1)

So I struggled for a long time with what to write about for this post. To be perfectly honest, most of my morning was spent letting my brain be melted by the stealth-bomb gesamtkunstwerk that is Beyoncé’s newest album, which if you haven’t heard, appeared at midnight on Friday the 13th, without being announced or leaked at all. Spooky, but awesome.

Speaking of things that are spooky, yet awesome: The Last of Us. If you don’t know, The Last of Us is a highly rated zombie-survival third-person action/adventure which tells the story of a jaded mid-aged smuggler and a young girl making their way across a United States awash in fungus-zombies and bandits. It is also a game that I am completely obsessed with and have talked about in no fewer than three other posts. I had said something about not doing any more posts about The Last of Us, but I am completely untrustworthy. 2.5 months have passed since I last wrote about it, and so much has happened. Continue reading

The Last of These The Last of Us posts. Probably.

tlou-joel-sarah-ellie-threatenedSo this is my third post about The Last of Us. You see, much as the fungus which affects the game’s whole setting and drives the plot forward, the game has infected my brain. I now spend a lot of time thinking about it when I am not cannibalizing other humans or rolling around Pittsburgh in a Humvee. If you didn’t get that second one, it’s probably a good time to mention that there are spoilers in this post. Though, honestly, if you are a PS3 gamer and you haven’t played this, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

Before I get to the golden egg hidden at the end of this post, let me recap you a bit. Continue reading

Big Damn Heroines

So The Last of Us. Again. If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a survival horror based on the concept of a human-infecting cordyceps fungus. It follows a jaded, aging smuggler (Joel) who lost his daughter in the early stages of the apocalypse, as well as a spunky, foul-mouthed teenage girl (Ellie), who is somehow immune to the infection. They fight their way through the ruins of the United States, killing fungus-infected zombies and bandits as they go. The game has incredible character development, revealing both the characters’ backstories and advancing their relationship together, while simultaneously engaging the player in an immersive and occasionally terrifying gaming experience.

Continue reading

Strong Female Characters: Gearbox, You’re Doing it Right

In all the hubbub of Borderlands 2, what with its delightful new and old cast and (roughly) kajillion side-quests, I think it’s important to step back and appreciate the timeless things. The simple things.

But mostly that Ellie is the best character in the game.

I’ve already given my partial opinion about larger people in the media, so when I saw her concept art I was seriously worried what would come of such a character, especially when every other female in Borderlands is thin as a whistle. Would she be played off for jokes?  …The bad kind, that is, not the kind that Borderlands is revered for. I should have had more faith in Gearbox because this lady is faboo.

From her introduction I loved her—seriously? Smashing a bandit in a car compactor? Bad. Ass.— because it was such a great example of what was to come. She doesn’t take shit, she’s clever and resourceful as hell, and she’s fun. She’s an actual 3-dimensional character. Gasp, be still my beating heart.

Playing along her questline further also reveals an intricacy that not many other Borderlands characters have in my opinion. She has motivations beyond “wow, I better not die” and she has something to prove, but not to herself. Being Scooter’s sister, that also means that she’s Mad Moxxi’s, the voluptuous vixen manager of the Ring O’ Death’s, daughter. By doing Ellie’s quests, Ellie ends up venting about how her mom wants her to lose weight and essentially be like Moxxi. In fact, her mother doesn’t believe that Ellie can even take care of herself on her own out in the Dust. Ha! Allow Ellie to prove her wrong. The great thing about Ellie is that she’s completely okay with her life and her choices. She knows smart enough to survive and that she’s damn  sexy to boot. Her confidence in her skills and in her body isn’t played for laughs, so the player is able to come to respect this unlikely paragon of beauty. And gosh, it’s just great.

I could gush more, but why don’t you take a look at what the designers at Gearbox have to say on the mechanic yourself?