Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Well, it turns out that Mr. Peabody & Sherman was exactly what I hoped it would be, while still managing to surprise me. Of course the surprises were not big, plot-reveal sorts of things; this isn't that kind of movie. They were the sorts of surprises that make a joke work. And, I have to admit, surprises that the jokes worked at all.

The theater was almost empty (that part was not a surprise) but there were some men in the back row who had me a bit worried. They kvetched and gabbed during the previews, and I was afraid that this behavior might continue into the feature presentation. My fear was unfounded, however. They shut right up for the How to Train Your Dragon II trailer (promising!), and then during the film the only noises out of them were laughs at all the appropriate moments. But I don't look down my nose at that at all, because I was laughing as well, although rather more quietly.

The big disappointment was the short that ran before the film itself. It was called "Home Planet" or something like that. It had a neat premise, tasty animation, and great visual gags, but a short like this ultimately succeeds or fails, at least for me, on the turn right at the end. The Pixar shorts are great examples of this.Sadly, this short did exactly what I thought it would do, but which I hoped it wouldn't because I couldn't see a way to make that joke work well. And when it was over I still hadn't seen a way to make that joke work well. I've come up with a better ending now, but only because I'm not ashamed to borrow a trope from Theodore Geisel.

Anyway, Mr. Peabody & Sherman was goofy in some of the same ways that The Lego Movie was, but where The Lego Movie featured pop-culture references galore, Mr. Peabody & Sherman rolled out the historical ones. The voice acting was wonderful (I got just the right amount of Warburton) and Danny Elfman's soundtrack was perfect. The film has a little bit of a Finding Nemo vibe to it on the father/son front, and although it's nowhere close to being the film that Finding Nemo was, I had a great time. It's #2 for the year for me, and by the time we get to December, it may actually still be somewhere in my top 15.

300 II: Abs on the Rise

Today I saw a not-very-good movie. Yes, I'd like the two hours back. If the film has any redeeming value whatsoever it's that it's inspired a bit of interest in the actual history -- history that does not involve oiled men sword-dancing when they're supposed to be fighting. 

In the interest of saving you some time, I'll say this: I have a new least-favorite movie of the year, and this io9 review is more fun to read than the film was to watch. As an added bonus, that review saves me the trouble of attempting to catalog the film's sins, which were many. Just turn it into a petition and let me sign it.

I saw the 3D version, and while it technically adept they kept trying to make me think I had blood in my eye. Which I probably would have ended up with, had I allowed myself to weep on behalf of Greco-Persian war historians.

The Schlock Mercenary RPG is a Thing

If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook you've probably heard me mention the Schlock Mercenary table-top role-playing game. It's a thing. It's going to happen. My friend Alan Bahr and I have hammered out the game mechanic, Alan's been running some alpha play-tests for about a month now, and our goal is to have the project ready for materials design (you know, the book and stuff) in about a year. It's going to take that long because we want to do it right.

And unless you're in Utah this weekend, that's pretty much all the news that's significant. It's a thing, it's coming, but not until 2015.

If, however, you're in Utah this weekend, you can playtest with us for charity. There's lots going on at the event behind that link, so you should note that the Schlock Mercenary RPG session will be on Saturday from noon until 4pm.

A seat at the table will set you back $25, and that will get you that seat for about four hours of role-playing as a mercenary in the Schlockiverse, with me as the storyteller, and Alan as the referee and "physics engine." The players will be their own mercenary company, and the contract will be a spot of law-enforcement in which they'll be encouraged to keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

Consider, for a moment, what you would expect from a Schlock Mercenary storyline in which Tagon's Toughs were told to keep collateral damage to a minimum. Now imagine yourself embedded in that scenario, and armed with something that goes "OMMMINOUS HUMMM" when turned on, but which you've been instructed not to use under any circumstances.

Seating is limited, but even if it fills up there will likely be room in the peanut gallery. There will also be plenty of other things going on at the event. Alan and I hope to see you there!

Celebrate 5000 Strips With a Coupon!

In an egregious oversight I neglected to mention a couple of merchandise-related things when I blogged about the 5000th Schlock Mercenary strip on Tuesday. Specifically:

The coupon is good until March 1st, and you should feel free to share it as widely as you would like. We are confident that you cannot break our store with your bargain-fueled shopping in only eight days.

Pompeii

To its credit, Pompeii made me want to hug all of my loved ones and hold them close. Of course it also made me want to see my enemies die in a fire, so the net morality boost for me is probably pretty slim.

There's really not much to tell here. I had fun. It seemed like Vesuvius took its sweet time delivering, but the rest of the action and yes, actual plot, in the film was engrossing enough that by the time the mountain belched smoke and fire my first thought was "but they haven't gotten to..." which I suppose is the point. Vesuvius pretty much guaranteed that lots of people wouldn't get to. For whatever value of "to" you prefer, really. I didn't plan to care about any of the characters, but by the end I actually did. 

Clearly, I am weak. 

The depiction of the eruption was gripping. Sure, there were moments where the upheaval was very Hollywood ("of course the ground splits open RIGHT THERE...") but there were also plenty of moments where I was completely sold, absolutely convinced that this is how it would have gone down.

Do I recommend it? Well... if you're like me, sometimes you'll walk into a movie theater by yourself just so you can spend $20 for some alone time with popcorn, low lights, and destruction. By that standard, I doubt very many of you are like me. But for those of you who are, seeing Pompeii in 3D at midnight is an UNAMBIGUOUSLY DECADENT LIFE CHOICE. Also, it comes in at #3 for me this year.

I usually don't offer spoilers, but I will risk that in this case. See, the film has Carrie-Ann Moss, Jared Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland in it, so there was this one scene where I realized I was watching Trinity tell Moriarty to kill Jack Bauer.  WORTH THE ADMISSION PRICE RIGHT THERE. If you are like me. 

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