Welcome again to We Have Always Live the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.
Last week it finally happened: Final Fantasy XV officially came out–and just so we are all clear, this is actually true, I physically have a copy that I have played and can verify is not a dream. (Although if it is a dream, maybe that means the rest of 2016 is too, so maybe we could just wake up now? Please?) The game itself is pretty damn good, and highly addictive, even if it is full of a lot of the quirks and jankiness you would expect from a game that took ten years to make. This is a game, after all that was the reason I bought my PS3 back when it was still called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Few games can claim to have as troubled a development and as much reworking of their concept as this one, and even fewer can actually come out the other end of that process as a fairly good game (as Duke Nukem Forever showed). Even for a series as popular and successful as Final Fantasy, the amount of resources that Square Enix has been willing to put into this game is staggering (which is nice, considering since the merger it’s often looked like Square Enix would like nothing more than to murder every part of Squaresoft’s legacy).
But now that it really exists, that history is secondary to the game itself, and the feeling it creates for me, a profound sense of nostalgia and reflection. I don’t simply mean nostalgia for the Final Fantasy series as a whole, which this game certainly delivers on, from visuals to Prompto at one point singing the FF victory song after battle, much to my inner child’s delight. I mean that this is a game that makes me reflect on how far I have come since it was initially announced, as it has been in development for virtually the entire time I’ve lived in Los Angeles after leaving home. Playing this game makes me look back at how much I have changed in that time, and all the positives and negatives that come with that. It connects my past and present in a way that few things can, and shows the power video games can have as cultural works. So even though 2016 has been… problematic at best, I am still glad to be in a time when FFXV exists. It may only be a momentary respite, but it is certainly a welcome one.
From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.
- As we hit the stretch run of 2016, David is here to offer a very early look at the Oscar race, now that there have been a slew of critics awards and other nominations handed out.
- Amy returns with Atomika vs Alien (Pro-) Life Forms, a very spoiler-filled examination of hard choices in the hit sci-fi film Arrival.
- The Life in the Kraken podcast is back with a classic two-hander, Bad Guys and Nice Guys, as David and Kyu discuss the sad state of modern movie villains, plus The Nice Guys and other film chatter.
- On Saturday, Baturdays continues with Detective Comics #52, “The Secret of the Jade Box.” Yes, it’s another Chinatown story, so the secret of the Jade Box is probably that it’s full of racism. Hooray.
Catch of the Week:
Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.
David: Super heroes have become such a part of pop culture that sometimes it is difficult to see anything else, but that doesn’t change the fact that last week the Arrowverse brought a massive four-show (Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and The Flash) crossover event to the small screen. This Invasion! event proved to be immensely entertaining, even if you had no prior viewing knowledge of these shows, and even more satisfying if you have kept up with even one of them. Any TV fan should really watch this event, but more importantly, we should all just reflect on how impressive it is that such an event could even happen. Good job, TV, good job.
Kyu: This week I’m recommending The BFG, Steven Spielberg’s latest and another hint after Bridge of Spies that the master is actually trying again. Based on a good-but-not-great Roald Dahl novel about a little girl and a big friendly giant, the film captures the wonder and delight of a silly tale told well. Mark Rylance is incredible as the tongue-tied, gentle giant, and the effects are a real highlight, particularly as the BFG makes his way through human country with stealth and grace. Most interesting, though, is the way Spielberg seems to connect with the BFG’s mission in life: both men are towering dream-makers whose talent for art is their way of helping to make up for the ugliness of a world too full of bullies. It’s not a perfect movie–even John Williams can’t sell the original material’s fart jokes as classy (or all that funny either)–but I found its gentle whimsy a wonderful corrective to the events of the last few weeks. Check it out if you get a chance.
That’s it for this week. The Kraken would like to remind everyone that the Christmas lights are toxic to the touch, so you know, stop touching them. We are really tired of cleaning up all the bodies.