Portal: the movie?

(via Reddit) According to Polygon.com, J.J. Abrams is in talks with Gabe Newell about making movies about Portal and/or Half Life.  This conversation took place during a Keynote talk about storytelling across platforms at the 2013 DICE summit, which before today is a thing I didn't know existed.  That talk took place today, and isn't up online yet.  I'm looking forward to seeing it.

My first thought when I read that Portal might be a movie was "No way."  I'm a little embarrassed that I had that reactionary response, because it's not fair -- the response under it, the thing that makes sense to me, is "How the hell would you make a movie out of Portal?  It's such a game."  The medium of the game, specifically the game, Portal, not just the medium of 'games,' tells the story of Portal better than any other way I can imagine, because the story was written specifically to fit the game, not the other way around.

Obviously, there's a huge difference between "I don't know how this could be done" and "This shouldn't be done."  I think it definitely should, if J.J. Abrams is on board and Valve is fully involved.  These are people with a real interest, investment and history in demanding more of their chosen media, and a Portal movie might be an avenue into new revelations for both games and film.

Or, I mean, they could make the Half Life movie instead.

Review: Les Miserables

I saw the Les Miserables movie today.  It was awesome. They did an awesome job of being faithful to the musical.  That said, especially near the beginning, the singing and integration of the music wasn't awesome.  (I've used the word awesome three times already in this post.  I am going to try to use it less now.)

Like with Sweeney Todd, I think the most major roles in Les Miserables went to the actors who got them less because they're the best actors for the role, and more because they're the most famous actors who kind of fit.  (Well, with Sweeney Todd, Johnny Depp didn't fit at all.  And if you make allowances for that, did a great job.)

Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe both had a rocky start in the roles.  Jackman did a much better job as Valjean as soon as he was allowed to shave -- he plays 'kind soul with a dark past' better than 'haggard vagrant crushed by the injustice of the world'.  Russell Crowe did not grow so well into the role.  Still, he was only distractingly bad near the beginning -- I got used to it.

Thenardier and his wife were fantastic.  (Sacha Baron Cohen must really like playing criminals in musicals.  Or maybe he just really likes musicals, and nobody will cast him as anything else.)

Gavroche was brilliant, too.

I won't say any more, lest I spoil, except to point out that I cried, a lot.  If your heart has turned to stone and you need a film to reach inside you and move something, go see Les Miserables.

Review: This Film Is Not Yet Rated

I've been meaning to watch this movie for a while, and only just got around to it.  This Film Is Not Yet Rated is about the MPAA, the organization responsible for giving movies their ratings:  G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 -- NC-17 basically constituting censorship barring the film from mainstream distribution. The movie is about the director, Kirby Dick, following the ratings board around trying to get information about them, then, in the last third of the movie, his submitting a cut of the film to the ratings board in an attempt to get it rated.

It's a good movie, but it's hard to think of what to say about it, exactly.  It confirms some of my suspicions about the censoring tendencies of our mainstream media, and there were a few things in it that surprised me.  Like, the appeals process includes two religious representatives, a Catholic and an Episcopalian, who by all formal accounts just observe (which suggests a creepy kind of big-brotherish feel) and according to one anonymous source, participate and vote (which is even worse).

My favorite parts of the film were the interviews with other filmmakers who've had their films censored and scuttled by NC-17 ratings, and the perspective they gained on the process during that time.  The basic lesson:  sex is bad, enjoying sex is worse, women and homosexuals enjoying sex is terrible.

It's available on Netflix if you have a subscription, and I think it's worth checking out.  It could really help to flesh out your understanding of how certain perspectives on morality are artificially pumped up behind the scenes in our media.  And it's not boring, either.