DS 106 Assignments, Assignment 5

I’m very excited for this assignment! I really like the DS 106 assignments, there’s a lot of variety and a lot of unique assignments to get done. Me personally, I’m more drawn towards the writing assignments, specifically the ones that focus around reviewing or critiquing media, like this one about reviewing movies, or this one about reviewing games. If all else goes well, I would love to ideally build a career out of reviewing games and movies.

After all, I talk people’s ear off about this stuff anyways, might as well get paid for it, right?

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to do the first assignment I linked, about reviewing movies, and do a review about one of the movies that I loved last year:

The Batman: An Ode to the Dark Knight.

When it comes to movies, Batman’s greatest nemesis isn’t the Joker or Bane, it’s the writer’s ego. Everyone thinks they know Batman, to the point where they never really decide to do any research, because they get Batman already. Everyone knows the story, right?– Rich kid watches his parents get shot in a darkened alley, and decides to work through that trauma by beating up criminals at night dressed in spandex. They all get the basics of Batman, and because they get it, they treat it with a level of contempt that we all harbor for that which we are intimately familiar with. They don’t bother reading into the character’s history, or the numerous re-imaginings and reboots throughout the years. They never take the time to get to know the side characters who are just as integral to the Batman mythos as the caped crusader himself– The Robins, the Villains, the darkened streets of Gotham itself, and as a result they all fundamentally fail to capture the essence of the character.

Every Batman movie prior to this has fallen prey to this contempt: Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and 1992 Batman Returns is egregious in it’s reimagining of the character. The very substance of what makes Batman Batman is thrown aside to fit Burton’s lackadaisical style-over-substance form of film-making.

Christopher Nolan’s critically-acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy also falls prey to this. Though the acting is tremendous, with world-class performances from Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, Heath Ledger’s Joker, and Tom Hardy’s Bane, the character of Batman becomes a side-character in his own story. We are supposed to believe that these villains are dark mirrors to the Batman, but the lack of care and effort put into the very development of Bruce Wayne from movie to movie just fails to sell that idea.

 

And last but not least, Zack Snyder’s Batman vs Superman. Ugh.

 

Intellectually shallow and aesthetically vain, Zack Snyder fundamentally misunderstands Batman, and the sanctity of his no-kill rule, removing all the complexities of the character in service of mindless action. I could fill multiple essays with how much I despise Snyder’s style, and his butchering of every comic adaptation he’s ever done, but this is not the time nor place.

 

All of this is to say, that while these movies do have their merits and most are perfectly serviceable, they fail to understand Batman as a character and have no respect for the source material they are adapting.

Which brings me now to what is, in my opinion, the best movie of 2022 and the first Batman movie I’ve ever seen which finally got it right: Matt Reeve’s The Batman

Matt Reeves does what none of the other directors have done before: Research. Though his rendition of the Batman is by and large unlike any version of Batman from the comics, there is an obvious reverence to the source material that had been lacking from movie adaptations for decades.

Let’s begin with Batman himself. We see a Batman very early on in his career, only two years in. He is angry, vindictive, futilely attempting to punish the criminals of Gotham for taking his parents from him, all those years ago. He cares little for himself, risking his life to mete out violence.

Unlike the Batman of Zack Snyder’s run, this is shown to be wrong. The violence is not meant to be a glorified spectacle, it serves to show this Batman to be a man so blinded by his zealous pursuit of vengeance, that he foolishly risks his life for no gain.

Throughout the movie, as the mystery unfolds (I won’t spoil any details, as I want anyone who hasn’t gotten the opportunity to see the movie to do so.), we get to see Batman be a detective, slowly untangling a conspiracy in the vividly dark neo-noir fashion of the 80s-90s era of the caped crusader.

And, above all else, we get to see Batman be a hero. The emotional climax of this movie isn’t the spectacle and bloodshed, but Batman reaching out his hand to help someone in need, and protect them from danger. It is him learning to put his need for vengeance aside in order to truly save the city and the people he cares for.

Overall, Matt Reeve’s adaptation of Batman is one of the best ever put on screen, and a wonderful homage to the comics from which it gathers it’s inspirations. It gets many things right, and is a gripping narrative that keeps you guessing all the way until the credits. 10/10.

 

 

 

Assignment 4: Blogging about our passions.

I have ADHD, so my answer to ‘What are you passionate about?’ can differ wildly from week to week, or hell, even hour-to-hour. It’s a very hard question to answer usually, but thankfully I’ve been OBSESSED with tabletop RPGs recently, which you can learn more about in my week 1 post here.

Tabletop RPGs appeal to me specifically because of the sheer creative freedom it allows. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi books, and TTRPGs give me an avenue to basically co-write my own fantasy story with my friends and family, and allow for some much-needed escapism after rough weeks of work and school.

It’s a huge year for D&D fans this year, since there’s a blockbuster movie set in the extremely popular Dungeons and Dragons setting coming out later this month!

 

I’m personally extremely excited for it, and it’s supremely cool to see the little details, like the spells and monsters get translated to the big screen straight from my imagination.

There’s been a influx of shows based on DnD recently. On Amazon Prime, there’s the Legend of Vox Machina, an animated series that is based on a DnD Podcast called Critical Role, which is a bunch of extremely talented voice actors from video games and anime coming together to play DnD.

I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a bit long, but it’s perfect to listen to during long commutes and to leave on in the background.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 2

What did you think on the first day of the CT101?

I was extremely excited for this class. Truth be told, I’ve had a LOT of writing intensive classes in the last few semesters and finally having a class I won’t have to write 10 page papers for is a tremendous breath of fresh air.

Did you like hearing about the course and its creative content? How did it make you feel?

Absolutely, I’m so ready to actually have fun and enjoy my assignments rather than just go through them with my mind turned off just for the required credits.

 

How does CT101 compare to some of your other classes so far?

So much better than my other classes. I love how relaxed and enjoyable class feels, and I love how the professor goes out of his way to make things easier on us, rather than make it needlessly difficult because that’s the way it’s always been.

It’s wonderful to be treated like a person for once.

What are the creative potentials of this class?

The only limit is your imagination!

 

How do you feel about learning new skills that use Internet tools?

Finally! I’m ready and excited to learn!

Assignment 1- What makes me happy on the Internet?

Hey, everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful week.

My most recent hyperfixation has been TTRPGS– Tabletop Roleplaying Games– like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. For those unaware, TTRPGs are a form of group storytelling; One person, usually called the Game Master or GM, creates a world and a story, and everyone else at the table creates a character who participates and directs how the story goes. If you’ve ever watched shows like Stranger Things, it’s what the kids in that play.

If you’re into Fantasy and Sci-Fi or just fiction in general, it’s an awesome way to be able to craft your own daring adventures and let your imaginations run wild. And honestly? It’s a load of fun.  I’m a part of a group that meets every Saturday, and it’s a blast. For three to four hours every weekend, I get to hang out with my friends, relax and snack, and take part in a collaborative story about a bunch of brave heroes fighting against the forces of evil. It’s basically like getting to experience your own fantasy novel.

Now you might be wondering how exactly it works, and I’ll try my best to explain.

There are countless TTRPG systems, and they all focus on different genres and settings. Some are about Fantasy, some are about Science Fiction, some focus on Horror, some let you play as superheroes. Anything you can imagine, there’s probably a game system for it. But for simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, or DnD5e, which is the most popular system right now.

In DnD, the Game Master sets the scene. For example, your group of adventurers may be exploring a dungeon, so the GM will describe what the dungeon’s moss-covered walls, the cold stone, the sound of dripping water in the darkness, to get you immersed into the scene. They’ll also describe the enemies and obstacles you’ll encounter. In a dungeon, you might deal with undead skeletons, or traps or cave-ins.

The players all come with character sheets which detail everything you need to know about your character. Say, for example that you’re playing a cunning thief, or a brilliant wizard, all of the things your character can do will be detailed in the sheet.

Here’s the sheet for one of my characters. It looks like a lot when you first start, but I guarantee it’s a lot simpler than it seems:

This all says, put simply, the things my character is good at. He’s a big, burly warrior who fights with a giant sword. He’s good in a fight, but he’s not very smart and he’s very socially awkward.

So, in a dungeon, my character would do very well in a fight against skeletons, and he’d probably be able to dig his way out of a cave-in, but he’s not very smart so he might fall prey to traps.

To determine what happens, I will have to roll a dice, usually a 20-sided one, and then add relevant numbers on the left to meet or beat a number set by the GM. So, for example, to avoid the trap I might have to roll something to do with intelligence, and meet or beat 15. Since I’m bad at intelligence rolls, I don’t add anything, and if the total of my roll meets of exceeds 15, my character avoids being hurt. If I don’t, then I take damage and my character is injured in some way.

This makes it so that there’s always some narrative tension– I can’t just say that my character is a golden God who succeeds at everything he tries. Because he can fail, his successes have meaning.

With that frankly far too long explanation out of the way, let me explain why I enjoy TTRPGs.

They’re a fantastic way to develop self-confidence and public speaking skills, in an environment that’s not very high stakes. Everyone feels awkward at first, and most people understand that everyone needs a little time to get used to it. It also helps you think creatively, and flexes the little brain muscles of your imagination. And above all, it’s just a ton of fun.

If DnD interests you, then there are countless resources online to try and find a game. I personally use the LFG (looking for group) subreddit on Reddit to find my games. And if you’re (understandably) nervous about meeting strangers in real life, there are a bunch of online sites where you can sign up to play through sites like Zoom or Discord, the most popular of which is Roll20.

And if it doesn’t interest you, that’s fine too. We all have differing tastes, and I appreciate you reading through this post to learn more about something I’m passionate about.

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