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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » OSC's Review of Hugo, 3D, and Judging Scorsese (Page 3)

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Author Topic: OSC's Review of Hugo, 3D, and Judging Scorsese
Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Corwin:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Corwin:
Well, that makes me not want to see Benjamin Button. I liked Forrest Gump too much! [Big Grin]

Agreed. I had already decided Button was low on the priority list; now it's just off it. [Razz]
Oh, it's not so bad. Nice visuals, and Brad Pitt looks like a greek god for some of it, if you like that kind of thing.
So like Troy then? [Wink]
Less disturbing in accidental homoeroticism than Troy. Overall, really a less uncomfortable experience than Troy was. That was a strange movie, there are so many scenes in it that are just so wrong, and so many missed notes, it's like listening to someone play a piano concerto with a broken middle finger.

There are too many to mention, but I was squircked out by the costumes, the dialogue, the music, facial expressions, the accents. There was a lot in that movie that just felt *off* in a really weird way.

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Teshi
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I hated Troy. It was the biggest "missed opportunity" movie I have ever seen.
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kmbboots
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I made my student workers listen to me explain everything they got wrong about the story.
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rivka
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Well, sure. That's what workstudies are FOR (captive audiences), neh?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
I hated Troy. It was the biggest "missed opportunity" movie I have ever seen.

In terms of talent and money? Yes. In terms of execution of a script? Well, it was mostly as good as it possibly could have been considering the writing.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Well, sure. That's what workstudies are FOR (captive audiences), neh?

That and listening to me explain how Aragorn and Arwen are actually cousins 39 times removed.
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Aros
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All I remember of Troy is that I could scarcely recall it -- even after having just watched it. It didn't affect me at all.
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Teshi
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Orinoco: Considering the writing!

Writing is always what I pay attention to the most, followed by other storytelling methods like colours, design, lighting, editing and setting, followed by directing, followed by casting and acting, followed by music, followed by CGI/Special Effects.

The opportunity was in the turning the Iliad into a beautiful story on film. I don't care about how accurate it was to the Iliad, I wanted the myth executed properly (mythically). It wasn't. I was mad.

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Samprimary
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I went and saw troy the day before release with the theater staff, in an otherwise empty theater, with lots of alcohol. We were laughing so hard through that entire movie!

So, I had fun.

Under any other circumstances wherein I would be unable to drink or laugh all the time or openly riff, I probably would have just shuffled about in my chair restlessly and left about halfway in.

I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears — in this one, it was so blatant you could practically feel the discomfort of the screenwriters, having to deal with spears, languishing openly with badly choreographed moves, dying to reach the point where the combatants break each other's spears like they were made of balsa wood and pull out their swords and finish the fight in a "much more exciting" way urdurrrurur

It's not noteworthy in any other way to me, tbh — just another movie curbstomped three feet into the ground by terrible writing.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears...
Do you find yourself having to make this point often? [Smile]
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Teshi
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It came out in 2005, after the Return of the King and I remember comparing the motivational speech from Troy to the motivational speech from Return of the King.

quote:

Aragorn: Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!(the men prepare)

Hector: All my life I've lived by a code, and the code is simple. Honor the gods. Love your woman. And defend your country. (the men roar) Troy is mother to us all. Fight for her!

I always thought this was quite telling, not only by the way it was written, but how it was shot and how it was delivered.

Writing: The language is precise and distinctively unique, referencing both the speaker and the listeners and using effective rhetorical devices like alliteration. This fully convinces me that the men are going to be convinced by Aragorn to fight in what we know are appalling odds.

Cinematography/Editing: The camera takes in the foreground, catching the heads and weapons of the listening warriors. We see the faces of the warriors while Aragorn speaks. We understand there is a connection between Aragorn and his listeners.

Acting: Aragorn's voice is pretty ragged, and he's screaming at the top of his lungs and riding back and forth to be heard and you can hear his desperation. This lends credibility and realism to the scene. You see the faces of the listeners looking intently, terribly afraid, up at Aragorn as he goes back and forth, suggesting they are in fact in the same scene. You see them shuffling their feet.

Design: The deseperation in Aragorn's voice is reflected in the desperation in his face and the way his clothes and makeup are done.

Direction/Cinematography: The constant movement of the camera ties in with the high pace and energy of the speech and the pace of the scene/film as a greater whole.

Compare with Hector's speech:

Writing: The writing is simple (much like the code) and doesn't use precise language. The only rhetorical devices employed is repetition of the word code and the metaphor of Troy as mother, which is used but not developed, and then thrown away in 'fight for her'. The use of the word country is weird, since Hector has only ever known the city-state system and isn't fighting really to preserve a generic country but Troy in particular; a city-- that is clear in the next line. He wouldn't say, "defend your country", because he doesn't think intercityly, as it were. Troy is the only place he has known and it is the same for all his listeners. These aren't mercenaries, these are Trojans. They will fight for Troy, not some generic land. This doesn't come off as as credible and inspiring as Aragorn's speech at all. I laughed out loud when I heard it and the kind of dumb simplicity and was wholly unconvinced at the roar following, "defend your country".

Cinematography/Editing: The camera is static and isolates Hector from his warriors, the people he is supposed to be talking to. We get the wide shot, the medium shot, and the closeup and when we're in latter two there's no sense of context at all. We never see Hector facing the men and you get the distinct impression as he is talking and then at the shot of the men roaring that they aren't actually talking to each other. This exacerbates a sense of complete isolation on Hector's part, rather than a connection with his audience. We don't even get to see everyone cheer until the end, only a small section of the horsemen. There's no sense that they're engaging with one another at all.

Acting: Hector clearly isn't addressing anyone except for the crew, because he's looking only to his left and straight on. He is sitting on his horse and absolute worst, his voice is barely raised at all talking which is then men with an enormous roar. How can all those people hear him in the open air on a wide battlefield full of armour and the shuffling of horses and men? He doesn't physically demonstrate effort or committment by standing in his stirrups, and he doesn't put energy into this, the most important speech Hector will make. Of course, part of this is the dry writing, but the actor could have put significantly more effort into this speech and we would have got the sense he actually wanted to save Troy a bit.

Design: Hector's situation isn't quite as desperate as Aragorn's and he's practically a perfectly coiffed Greek, so we'll forgive him a little bit of improvement, but it's still a battle, and it's hot and he was wearing a metal helmet. Come on, he's not even a little bit sweaty and bedraggled? It just subtracts further from the sense of being actually committed.

Direction: Oh dear. Who kept the camera static? Who decided they were going to keep Hector and the horsemen separate? Who decided that in the background men were going to keep walking while not keeping a consistant sound? Who told the actor not to shout his lines? Who okayed supermodel Hector? Director.

In all, Hector's speech does not rally the troops, does not rally the audience, is delivered dully and in front of a sitting camera. There is no sense that he is speaking to anyone or that they are listening to him. The editing is basic, the sound editing is shoddy. The whole thing lacks the level of thought and intelligence and imagination that was poured into the Aragorn speech.

*

Weirdly, I found two different versions of this Hector speech. In the one I linked above, the soliders are quite close and you see five or six in the cut to them cheering. In this one, apparently taken from the big screen, they are much further away and you see twenty or thirty.

For comparision:

Closer
Further Away

Hmmm. I have two theories. One, the further away is the original theatre release, and the weird angle was fixed for a cheaply done head on shot. Two, the closer one is the original theatre release and the more impressive line up of horses in the further away one was the fix, because Hector's looking left (as discussed).

It's not the same men; the horses, at least, are different.

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JanitorBlade
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Teshi: You ended up triple posting your last so I removed the duplicate posts.
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Scott R
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quote:
I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears
How did you feel about 'Hero?'
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Teshi
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quote:
Teshi: You ended up triple posting your last so I removed the duplicate posts.
Thank you! I have terribly shaky internet and I had to go out before I could actually load a page to check whether it had posted once or three times!
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears
How did you feel about 'Hero?'
I think Hero is the prettiest promotion of the triumph of security via autocratic rule over liberty and human rights WAIT we were talking about spears, right?

The spear fight was the best in the movie because it comes before the sludge of 'surprise, that fight didn't actually happen, here's the next fight that didn't actually happen'

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears...
Do you find yourself having to make this point often? [Smile]
About as often as I will again witness and participate against the delusion that japanese swords were the best swords in the world, yes
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Rakeesh
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I went into Troy just knowing the story would be super off. Way too super-Hollywood a deal to keep close.

The thing that jarred me more than anything, though, was when Briseis in the film not only bonds with Achilles, but actually seems to emotionally love him, mourn his death, and respect him-not to mention having what was presented as passionate, emotional, intimate sex with him. This was the guy who came to her home and said, "I'm gonna do my best to kill as many of your people-including your male family-as skillfully as I can, because I really love warfare."

quote:
About as often as I will again witness and participate against the delusion that japanese swords were the best swords in the world, yes
Not only were they the best in the world, they're also the best in all conceivable situations against all conceivable opponents!
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
I use Troy as a central example of when filmmakers don't know how to deal with spears
How did you feel about 'Hero?'
Not really a fair comparison, I think. Donnie Yen and Jet Li are martial artists who have branched out into film. The actors in Troy, well, aren't.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Not only were they the best in the world, they're also the best in all conceivable situations against all conceivable opponents!
They're basically lightsabers.
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Rakeesh
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Well, if you get a Japanese sword that has some sort of mystical properties, the soul of a samurai (or even better, a ninja!) in it, it would totally and in all cases trump a lightsaber.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Well, if you get a Japanese sword that has some sort of mystical properties
So, if you get a Japanese sword...
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Scott R
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quote:
The spear fight was the best in the movie because it comes before the sludge of 'surprise, that fight didn't actually happen, here's the next fight that didn't actually happen'
:nod:

I agree.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Well, if you get a Japanese sword that has some sort of mystical properties, the soul of a samurai (or even better, a ninja!) in it, it would totally and in all cases trump a lightsaber.

Sadly, lightsabers also effectively have mystical properties, so I'm afraid this theory is rubbish, utter rubbish ::pushes glasses up nose::
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Dan_Frank
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Teshi, it's interesting you mention Aragorn's speech at the Black Gates, because that speech has always struck me in how he spends 80% of the speech talking about how Men are doomed to failure in the long run. Virtually all of the pretty imagery is describing in loving detail that future day when Men get wiped out. It was really disconcerting to me, and didn't seem very inspiring.

Better than Hector, sure. But there are many inspiring battle speeches out there that put Aragorn's to shame. Including some in LotR!

PS: Even though I know you're all being facetious, this talk of Japanese swords and Japanese swords in space is kind of making me want to stab you. And not with an ineffective sub-par steel Japanese sword, either.

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kmbboots
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I don't think "a day may come" is saying anything about doomed to failure. I think it is acknowledging the real fears that people face and then giving them a way to set them aside.

It isn't St. Crispin's Day, but it was pretty darn good.

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Teshi
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I'm with kmbboots (obviously, I suppose). You have to remember the context: the situation is basically inevitable failure and insurmountable odds. The enemy is vast, magical and intrinsically evil that threatens to destroy the entire world. Perhaps nowadays people think that not mentioning what is bad is a good political strategy but these people believe that not only their deaths are inevitable, but the deaths of every who is good is inevitable. Aragorn assures them, in no uncertain terms, that while there will be a day when the end will come for an entire species, their job today will not be one that is undertaken in vain.

I find that far more inspiring and realistic than a rose-tinted vision that things will wholly be okay. Remember, they are not fighting to save something tangible, they are simply trying to act as a diversion (as Legolas observes). It's Aragorn's job to attempt to steel nearly completely destroyed nerves enough to get them to fight, if necessary, to the death-- long enough for Frodo and Sam to get to Mount Doom.

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Dan_Frank
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Excellent points!
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Better than Hector, sure. But there are many inspiring battle speeches out there that put Aragorn's to shame. Including some in LotR!


"..I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? Two thousand against ten?”

– the veteran shouted: "No! We will
run – and live!"

"Yes!" Wallace shouted back. "Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

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millernumber1
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http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/fall-2011/essay-cutting-edge-technology-the-life-and-sad-times-of-the-western-sword-by-k-j-parker/

Swords are awesome. But perpetually outdated and outclassed as killing devices.

Also, I think there's no better battle speech than "The enemy's gate is down." :-)

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by millernumber1:
http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/fall-2011/essay-cutting-edge-technology-the-life-and-sad-times-of-the-western-sword-by-k-j-parker/

Swords are awesome. But perpetually outdated and outclassed as killing devices.

Also, I think there's no better battle speech than "The enemy's gate is down." :-)

The best thing about that article (and it's a really good article) is that it hits on all the primary points that will drive the largest quantity of fantasy-prone sword (and japanese sword) fetishists to apoplexy — problems with steel, problems with armor, problems with weight, blatant inferiority to the spear, blatant inferiority of katanas to other swords, the existence of almost completely lost frankish swordfighting arts that would murder samurai without hesitation, swordcrafting's perfection at the point of obsolescence with the smallsword, the fact that you can make a sword these days with scrap steel from a car chassis that is better than katanas, everything! It's got it all!
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millernumber1
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I love it. Thought it was relevant. And annoying :-)
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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by millernumber1:
http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/fall-2011/essay-cutting-edge-technology-the-life-and-sad-times-of-the-western-sword-by-k-j-parker/

Swords are awesome. But perpetually outdated and outclassed as killing devices.

Oh, wow, how'd I miss that one? Parker is always worth reading. Thanks!
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BlackBlade
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Fun article. There was a documentary on Netflix about East Vs West swordcraft and Europeans scouring archives in medieval libraries found sword manuals for various types of swords that certainly incorporated everything you see in an Asian martial arts discipline. Not with as much flourish of course, but grim efficiency nonetheless.

I wish I knew what it was called.

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Mucus
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Which reminds me (not sure if I've said this before), make sure to give
http://preview.tinyurl.com/3znp9zn
a watch when you have a chance, it's a great movie, and supposedly it's a special treat if you understand Mandarin (or appreciate the Sichuan accent).

(Don't watch it with young ones around though)

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Fun article. There was a documentary on Netflix about East Vs West swordcraft and Europeans scouring archives in medieval libraries found sword manuals for various types of swords that certainly incorporated everything you see in an Asian martial arts discipline. Not with as much flourish of course, but grim efficiency nonetheless.

I wish I knew what it was called.

It's *almost* as if-and bear with me, this might be crazy-various European cultures had centuries, scores of generations, of frequent or even almost constant warfare, ingenuity, craftsmanship, skill at fighting, will to live...the kinds of things that would lead them to innovate and become extremely skilled at melee combat as well.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Fun article. There was a documentary on Netflix about East Vs West swordcraft and Europeans scouring archives in medieval libraries found sword manuals for various types of swords that certainly incorporated everything you see in an Asian martial arts discipline. Not with as much flourish of course, but grim efficiency nonetheless.

I wish I knew what it was called.

It's *almost* as if-and bear with me, this might be crazy-various European cultures had centuries, scores of generations, of frequent or even almost constant warfare, ingenuity, craftsmanship, skill at fighting, will to live...the kinds of things that would lead them to innovate and become extremely skilled at melee combat as well.
[Big Grin]

Also, yeah, I loved the article.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Fun article. There was a documentary on Netflix about East Vs West swordcraft and Europeans scouring archives in medieval libraries found sword manuals for various types of swords that certainly incorporated everything you see in an Asian martial arts discipline. Not with as much flourish of course, but grim efficiency nonetheless.

I wish I knew what it was called.

It's *almost* as if-and bear with me, this might be crazy-various European cultures had centuries, scores of generations, of frequent or even almost constant warfare, ingenuity, craftsmanship, skill at fighting, will to live...the kinds of things that would lead them to innovate and become extremely skilled at melee combat as well.
That's just crazy. Everybody knows the only reason Japan didn't just take over the known universe is because their incredible power was all self directed with in fighting. I mean look at WWII! They totally should have won but we cheated!
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Samprimary
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There was no other way we could have destroyed their sturdy and amazingly well-designed naval fleets, of course.
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
. . . blatant inferiority to the spear, blatant inferiority of katanas to other swords, the existence of almost completely lost frankish swordfighting arts that would murder samurai without hesitation, swordcrafting's perfection at the point of obsolescence with the smallsword, the fact that you can make a sword these days with scrap steel from a car chassis that is better than katanas, everything! It's got it all!

Not sure I see how a blade is inferior to the spear. After reading the article, I'd assume that a spear is pretty useless once armor is in the equation. Or in any other circumstance when slashing is superior to piercing. Or in any situation when the tensile strength of a sword is superior to that of a spear (read wooden shaft).
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Teshi, it's interesting you mention Aragorn's speech at the Black Gates, because that speech has always struck me in how he spends 80% of the speech talking about how Men are doomed to failure in the long run. Virtually all of the pretty imagery is describing in loving detail that future day when Men get wiped out. It was really disconcerting to me, and didn't seem very inspiring.
At this point this borders on dogpiling, but I also found it inspiring. I find speeches/songs most inspiring when they proclaim success AGAINST insurmountable odds, instead of inevitable victory. I'm actually writing a (vaguely) similar speech for a Solstice party.

[ December 15, 2011, 04:23 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
There was no other way we could have destroyed their sturdy and amazingly well-designed naval fleets, of course.

I see what you did there.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
Not sure I see how a blade is inferior to the spear. After reading the article, I'd assume that a spear is pretty useless once armor is in the equation. Or in any other circumstance when slashing is superior to piercing. Or in any situation when the tensile strength of a sword is superior to that of a spear (read wooden shaft).

Well, I think I can answer pretty much all of this. To start: how practical do you think it is to try to exploit the 'tensile weakness' of a spear's shaft in combat? What vulnerabilities do you think this poses? Do you think that if you were fighting a person with a spear, you could cut the spear with the sword?

Secondly: what part of the article makes you think that spears are worthless once armor enters the equation?

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Shanna
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I'm kind of late to this discussion. I wanted to reserve judgement until I'd seen the film.

As for Scorsese, I thought "Departed" was wonderful. I thought "Gangs of New York" was atrociously bad. If I've seen any of his other films, they did stick in my memory. Personally, without being told, I'd have a hard time believing that those films and "Hugo" were created by the same individual.

As for "Hugo," though I was still excited to see the movie as I've intended on doing for awhile, a few reviews had me concerned. I could easily imagine Cohen's character going overboard. I could imagine how the shifting storyline could appear disjointed.

But I thought the movie was INCREDIBLE. Alittle slow and wandering in parts, but otherwise completely enchanting. I loved the progression and plot resolution. I thought everything came together in a way that was heartfelt without the typical Hollywood cliches. The 3D in this film did what 3D should. It really added to the experience without being distracting. It gave everything this slightly otherworldly effect that enhanced the fantastical elements of a story that includes automatons and magicians.

And the performances were lovely. I could not be more excited to see Asa as Ender. The part where he's struggling to get away from the Inspector...I got all misty. Chloe was also very believable and endearing. I remember thinking several times that those were the sorts of performances I wanted in the early Harry Potter films. I don't know if it was the actors or the incredible direction, but the two of them were skilled beyond their years.

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Aros
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Sam:
- Doesn't the article say as much? That thrusting weapons are pretty much pointless (get it?) when armor is introduced? I'd assume that a wooden shafted spear becomes even more so, prone to shattering against armor or damage during prolonged combat.

Shanna et al.:
- Did you see Ebert's top 5 movies of 2011? Hugo was number 4 (and the only wide release movie on the list).

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