Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Witcher 3 DLCs: Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine

This was just going to be a blog post about Blood & Wine to begin with, but then I realised I hadn't even made a post for Hearts of Stone, so I'll put this one in here too!

It's been over a year since I last played The Witcher 3, and thus also over a year since I played Hearts of Stone. I remember being very excited about it solely because Shani would be there. Shani who my Geralt romanced in the first game. I was seriously hoping that something would happen between him and Shani in the DLC since I had botched every romance available in the base game for 3. That didn't happen unfortunately. The main story of the DLC was ok. When I first met Olgierd von Everec I thought he was an ass, but the more I learned about him the more I pitied him. Especially during the quest that went inside his wife's painting and I found out how he came to be indestructible and in the debt of the Master of Mirrors. Almost none of what happened to him was his fault. He wanted to provide for his new wife and prove himself worthy to her father. But he did a mistake turning to the Master of Mirrors for help, and the Master just kept stringing Olgierd along until everything he had worked for came apart. So yeah, I decided to kill the Master and save Olgierd. The quest in the Master's realm was epic, but slightly annoying. Before I realised how the area worked I just kept on dying. As soon as I realised how it worked the quest was extremely easy. I was happy with how things turned out for me in this DLC. I especially remember the party quest with Shani, that was a lot of fun :3
Most recently I played Blood & Wine. That was epic! A whole new zone, with lots of side quests etc. I spent almost 40 hours on this DLC so it was basically a whole new game! When I started it up, my main feeling was that it had been a whole year since I last played - how do?! And then the first thing that struck me was once again that this game is so beautiful I don't even know what to do with myself. So Geralt is called upon by the duchess of Toussaint (is that a pun for All Hallows? Because that would be funny), who's got a contract for him to kill a beast that's been terrorising her capital. He accepts and travels south to Toussaint where it soon becomes obvious that the culprit is a vampire. Before doing anything about that, though, I completed the map! I did every single side quest (I especially liked the one where I got to save people from curses, like the one with Vivienne who turned into a bird woman, and the one with Marlene who had been cursed into a wight), and also every single question mark on the map. As soon as that was done I continued with the main quest and it soon became so very complicated. The vampire didn't kill of his own volition, he was blackmailed into doing it in the hopes of saving his love who had been kidnapped. Except it later turned out that his kidnapped love and the duchess' missing sister and the blackmailer were all one and the same. The vampire is (understandably) distraught and releases hell upon the capital Beauclair. The city is overrun with vampires of all kinds and Geralt, along with his friend Regis (who's also a vampire), decides to get Syanna (the woman who caused all this and played three roles) out of the prison her sister has put her in. Except this prison is the Land of a Thousand Fables. A fairytale world inside a book. It was the best part of the whole DLC. I laughed out loud at the little girl who used to sell matches and flint, but nobody bought them so she branched out and now she sells drugs. I encountered the Pied Piper of Hamelin and his rats. I found a rat, cat and dog riding on a horse. I played Little Red Riding Hood with the Big Bad Wolf. I discovered Goldilocks' and Rapunzel's fates. I ran into Will o' Wisps, the naked Emperor and the Puss in Boots. It was amazing xD And then towards the end I ran into a bonfire straight out of Dark Souls xD Oh, and I recieved a contract from a goose, who gave me a Golden Egg as reward upon completion. Easily the best part of the DLC. When we got back from that world we went straight to the main boss battle. AND IT WAS EPIC! Holy shit. I've never been so scared of running out of healing stuff as I was right then and there. And holy shit that vampire O_o Wow. In the end I managed to get a happy ending where everybody lived. That made me smile. Then I felt sad that it was all over. The Witcher-series is done. Goodbye, Geralt ♥
And now for some screenshots! I'm a tourist when I'm playing Witcher. It's so beautiful *_* But I'll just post the funny and/or sad ones :P The ones of beautiful scenery is better experienced :)
 Basil Fawlty and Smeagol! :D
 Lol, Geralt xD and Vivienne as a bird
 The trail of rose petals and candles leads to a dead body...
 ...and she has this letter :'(
 Geralt's painting didn't turn out as expected, and Waiting for Godot?! xD
 Land of a Thousand Fables and a bonfire!!!
 Most epic boss battle ever!
 Goodbye, Geralt. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Watching old, old movies part 3

(Part 1) (Part 2)

7. Nosferatu (1922)
I was really looking forward to seeing this one. Although watching a silent horror movie was sort of odd, I really liked it. Mostly because it was genuinely creepy. Well, most of the time. The thing in the beginning when the movie shows how happy everyone is before Nosferatu arrives in town made me wonder if I was watching a horror movie or an exaggerated comedy. But as soon as we get to Transylvania and later when he arrives in town, it starts to get properly creepy. It was odd, though. The previous old movies I've watched have all been with sound, except that they rarely had ambient music. This one only had music and no other sounds. The contrast was quite stark :P The only thing that actually bothers me about this movie (apart from the exaggerated beginning) is the ending. The text she finds says that "an innocent maiden must willingly give her blood" so that he'll forget about time and stay out in the sun and die from it. First of all she's somebody's wife so I really doubt she's a maiden or all that innocent. Secondly it really didn't look like she gave herself willingly. So in the end it just looks like he went "oopsie I stayed a bit too long with this one, oh well now I die". Kind of ruined the suspense. But all the iconic moments ♥

8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Didn't like this one at all. The director said that Hyde was inspired by Neanderthal people, but to modern me it looks like a blatantly racist make-up. Apparantly Hyde's skin was supposed to be grey, but that doesn't really come across in a black-and-white movie. What he came across as was a version of Dr. Jekyll with darker skin, broader nose, bigger lips, and hair that really looks like gel-styled African locks.
Maybe it was unintentional, but damn... Anyway Hyde isn't really dangerous in this movie imo. The main difference between Jekyll and Hyde (apart from their looks) is that Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and that Hyde acts like a pig. You know, drinking too much, being inappropriate with the ladies, and also acting slightly abusive towards the ladies (I don't know much obv, but considering the 1960's ads I've seen of a husband spanking his wife for not making him dinner on time, his behaviour towards women can't have been all that rare). It wasn't scary. Not even slightly creepy. And it was boring. And slow. So slow. Boo.

9. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Hooray for first jumpscare! This was my first movie starring Vincent Price (who I know was a major influence for Alice Cooper's early work). I was really looking forward to a haunted house movie, hoping that it would be similar to The Haunting from 1999 that I really like. It started off properly creepy and gave me my first jumpscare of this old movie marathon very early.
But then they started explaining things. The scary woman than had given me a jumpscare was the blind wife of the custodian of the house. They left the house as agreed upon midnight. And then we find out that everything scary happening in the house is just the shenanigans of the millionaire's wife and psychiatrist trying to make one of the guests hysterical so she'll shoot the millionaire so that the wife and the psychiatrist can be together with all his money. Suddenly no ghosts. And suddenly more of a criminal investigation movie than a horror movie. I was disappointed, but the movie wasn't bad. Just not what I thought it would be.

Hearthfire 19th - Hearthfire 25th

Another hectic week has come to an end.

On Monday I only played The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, and also watched two episodes of Star Trek TOS.

On Tuesday I played The Witcher 3 until it was time to go to work. I worked the closing shift so when I got home at 10.45pm I went straight to bed.

On Wednesday I worked the opening shift so I got up early and went in to work. After work I had lunch and then spent a couple of hours catching Pokémon. Nothing exciting happened, though. I got home around 5.30pm and then we had dinner and afterwards I started playing The Witcher 3. Toni had the night shift so I stayed up late playing until 2am-ish.

On Thursday we went downtown to buy a few things and have dinner at a restaurant. We walked down and I managed to catch the last Venonat I needed to evolve into Venomoth! :) When we got home we dyed each other's hair and afterwards we spent the evening playing. I played The Witcher 3.

On Friday we got up relatively early to get ready and pack a few things. We met up with a few friends downtown and then took the train to Stockholm and there met up with more friends and had dinner together at a restaurant. We then went to the harbour to get check-in and board our cruise ship. We went for a 23-hour cruise, back and forth between Stockholm and Turku, Finland. The occasion was a friend's birthday. This evening ended with all of us getting completely shit-faced xD

Woke up several times during the night to Saturday. I managed to snap a picture of the harbour when the ship was docked in Turku before dozing back off to sleep. Woke up with ravaging munchies and went to the tax free shop to get crisps and jerky, and then ate that while watching Disney Channel in the cabin. Around 4pm we met up with a couple of our friends to have dinner at the ship. We ran into a couple of other friends working on getting shit-faced again, but the four of us were really not in the mood for that. The ship docked back in Stockholm around 6pm, and we started on the long trip home. Got home around 8.45pm, unpacked, and then isolated ourselves in front of a computer each. Both of us needing to recharge our batteries after being surrounded by people for so long. Silence and solitude ♥ Went to bed rather late.

On Sunday we woke up and started playing games. In the evening we met up with Toni's parents for dinner at a restaurant downtown. When we got back home we returned to our computers. Around 9pm we snuggled up in the sofa and watched the latest episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory and Agents of Shield. Those were over around 12.20am and that's when we continued playing our games. I played Oblivion until bedtime.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Hearthfire 12th - Hearthfire 18th

What a week! I'm totally exhausted!

Monday I had work in the evening. I didn't do much else than that. Spent time on the internet mostly.

Tuesday I had a staff meeting in Stockholm so I had to get up at 6am to be there on time. Luckily I didn't have anything else to do this day so afterwards I went straight home and then I spent the day reading my book and also watching Dracula from 1931, The Wolf Man from 1941 and Night of the Living Dead from 1968. I was too tired to do anything special.

Wednesday was a busy day. First I had another staff meeting so I had to get up at 6am again. Afterwards I worked opening hours until 2pm, and after that I rushed to the train station to catch the next train home and get all the way to the centre and be on time for my tattoo appointment at 3.30pm. I made it in time and recieved my first tattoo ^^ The Deathly Hallows logo on my right wrist. It's not properly healed yet so picture will have to wait a bit. After getting a new tattoo each we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant in town. In the evening we watched Star Wars episode 2: Attack of the Clones. It's better than episode 1 obivuosly, but come on. I read in an interview once that George Lucas thought of the whole story for Star Wars when he was 15 years old. As a writer myself I can tell you that it's painfully obvious.

Thursday was a short day at work. When I got home I spent the day playing the new DLC for The Witcher 3.

Friday was a long day at work. In the hours between shifts I played Pokémon Go, but nothing fun and new happened. But I'm very close to a lot of fun and new things so I just have to keep playing to catch up. When I got home I watched Frankenstein from 1931 and The Mummy from 1932.

Saturday was yet another long day at work. I spent the time between shifts playing Pokémon Go, but still nothing fun and new. This work day was crazy. If you have never worked a job in service then you have no idea how incredibly stupid ordinary people can be. The tourist info desk at the department store is located right next to the restrooms. You need to pay to use the restrooms there, which is quite standard in Sweden. You're paying for a public restroom, but in exchange the restroom will be clean. Anyway, we deal with the visitors to the restrooms as well. This day I had a line going from inside the restrooms all the way out onto the floor of the store, for 2 hours. It felt like all of Europe was going to the restrooms in the store. Ofc people had left their ability to read along with their intelligence and their ability to see at home before going out. It's Saturday no need to think at all! So despite there being a sign next to the card machine for the restrooms no one could read it apparantly (there's probably less than 1mm between the sign and the card machine). So no one managed that basically. And since no one even bothered to read what it said on the screen of the card machine either it all ended up in the card machine going out of order. It said Out of Order on the screen of the machine, but seeing as no one could read this day people kept putting their cards in the machine and then getting angry with me when it didn't work. *sigh* So I took a piece of paper wrote "TEMPORARILY OUT OF ORDER" in capital letters and taped it on top of the card machine. That did the trick. They stopped trying to use the card machine, but instead they came to me to pay and complaining about the queue. *sigh* Basically, everything was my fault. All day. When I got home I watched Creature from the Black Lagoon from 1954 and Nosferatu from 1922.

Yesterday, Sunday, was another long day at work, and I once again played Pokémon Go during my break. Less people in the department store this day, which was a relief. I had company this day too and we spent most of my hours there talking about Japanese grammar, and writing. Practically analysing kanji and their radicals is a lot of fun. I also introduced this colleague to keigo, the three extremely polite ways to speak in Japanese which are required by societal circumstance to know how to use. He didn't know about keigo, his teachers hadn't talked about that yet. I have never really been somebody's senpai in Japanese, but now I am and I quite like it ^^ When I came home I watched one old movie (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1931) and a new-ish movie: The Woman in Black from 2012. After the newer movie was over I spent about 1½-2 hours watching nothing but horror movie trailers, which made me very jumpy. Especially so since just as one trailer ended a neighbour came home. So after having watched a bunch of creepy horror trailers I hear steps outside my door... O_o Creepy... When Toni came home we spent some time on Youtueb together and then I went to sleep. Totally exhausted from this week.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Watching old, old movies part 2

I'm on a roll here. Even more so because these old movies are usually between 70 and 90 minutes long :P Could easily fit two or three of these old movies in the same time it would take to watch one modern epic adventure movie (I'm looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings). So the next batch from my list:

(Part 1)

4. Frankenstein (1931)
Another iconic movie. This one set the image for what everyone thinks Frankenstein's monster looks like. Even if you haven't seen the movie you're sure to have seen pictures from it or pictures based on it.
I'm not gonna go into the plot because most people know the broad strokes of this story. Something that surprised me, though (maybe a reflection of the times): in the beginning it says "Based on the novel by Mrs. Percy B. Shelley". Why not just Mary Shelley? Why use her husband's name? As always when I watch or read the Frankenstein story I just feel sorry for the monster. Awakened into a world where everyone's afraid of you. That little girl was the only one to show him kindness, and he accidentally killed her. He didn't understand it wouldn't work that way - that the flowers would float, but the girl wouldn't. How could he? He was nothing more than a baby, really. A baby with inhuman strength that could kill you if he threw a tantrum. The Frankenstein story always makes me question who's the most monstrous; the actual monster who means well, but looks and sounds scary, or the humans whose base instinct is to kill anything that's different? I haven't read the novel yet (it's in my bookshelf waiting for me), so I can't be sure, but in every adaptation I've seen Dr. Frankenstein's assistant is named Igor, but here he's named Fritz (awesomely played by Dwight Frye btw), and in every adapation Dr. Frankenstein's first name has been Victor, but here it's Henry (Henry actually has a friend named Victor which was very confusing to me in the beginning of the movie). I don't know which is the real names from the novel, but suddenly having new names for the characters was slightly bewildering.
There was nothing unexpected about this movie, and although I'd like to call it amazing it doesn't quite reach all the way. It was good. I enjoyed it. But maybe the whole story is too well-known for me already. Boris Karloff was as great as you'd expect as the monster, and Dwight Frye was masterful as usual.

5. The Mummy (1932)
Another Boris Karloff movie. Before I started watching it I had a slight wondering, then when the title cards started showing the actors and their characters, I knew. The Mummy film from 1999 that I absolutely love is a remake with spiced up story of this movie from 1932. I figured that out when I saw that Boris Karloff played Imhotep - the mummy himself - with the same name as the mummy in 1999. The base plot of the two movies is the same: a 4000 year-old mummy is exhumed and accidentally awakened, he then tries to get his ancient love back by using a living girl that looks like her, his love betrays him and the living girl is rescued by her boyfriend and the mummy destroyed. Karloff was amazing. In a speaking role like Imhotep he was a lot more charismatic and appealing than as the monster from Frankenstein. His "mummy-stare" is scary and hypnotic at the same time. (I really understand how he got the Hollywood nickname "The Uncanny"). His voice was deep and appealing (imagine a mix of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee). I mean, I can see that his looks aren't that amazing, but I sort of fell in love with Karloff here!
In terms of excitement I really liked the story! But then again I may be biased, because I love the 1999 movie so much.

6. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
The creature looks like a mix between the Ice Warriors and the Sea Devils from classic Doctor Who.
The whole story was very King Kong-y. Scientists discover a basically untouched lagoon in the Amazon and begin exploring it for fossils etc. They discover a creature that they call the Gill-Man (sounds like a very stupid superhero name tbh). Gill-Man becomes interested in the woman of the group and attempts several times to run off with her. She's afraid of him and the men of the group keep arguing about whether they should kill Gill-Man or capture him for study. In the end Gill-Man is killed but not brought back for study (for some reason - now they have all the proof they need to show the world of science that Gill-Man was real). I quite liked the movie though, to me it had some similarities with King Kong and Anaconda. I wouldn't call it a favourite, but it was definitely neither boring nor bad.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Watching old, old movies part 1

So for a few years now I've wanted to watch the really old black-and-white horror movies that sort of set the standard for everything we have today. I know horror has evolved a lot and I didn't expect to get scared by them (even modern horror scares me very rarely), but I wanted to see them none-the-less. I didn't know where to start but I found a huge list on IMDB and decided to follow that :)

1. Dracula (1931)
This movie is iconic, and I'd heard of it so many times before, but never watched it. The first time I heard the name of Bela Lugosi was actually in the Johnny Depp movie Ed Wood. I know the story of Dracula intimately, though I have never really managed to read the novel (might try again now). Because of the Great Depression this movie's budget was cut, and a great deal of changes had to be made. The movie was originally supposed to be an adaptation of the novel, but due to the cut budget it became instead an adaptation of the play from the previous year. What stood out to me the most being used to modern movies was the lack of ambient music. I don't really notice the music in today's movies so the silence was basically deafening in this one. No ambient music, no suspenseful music... The lack of music actually made the suspense even more suspenseful. The special effects were about what you'd expect for an 85-year-old movie (not many and those that were, quite dreadful by today's standards). The propriety of early 20th century was there. You'd always see Dracula closing in on his female victims, but the camera always diverted or scenes were changed when he was about an inch away from her. Can't show a man tocuhing a woman on film! ;P Another thing that struck me was that I always imagine Dracula in the late 19th century (as in the book and most modern film adaptations) but all the women in this movie had short 1920s hair-styles, so I took it as this movie took place sort of contemporary as to when it was made (despite all the sail ships and horse carriages - they did have steam ships and cars in the 1920s). But what has lingered the most with me was Bela Lugosi's Dracula. I loved his mesmeric eyes; his hypnotic stare. And the scene where Mina is entranced to go into his arms and being encloaked by his cloak was beautifully haunting and at the same time that sort of creepy-cosy that I like.
So despite the choppy storytelling and the weird editing of this movie (due to the cut budget), I really liked it. Also, Dwight Frye was masterful as the insane Renfield (pictured to the right above) - and now I finally realise that Alice Cooper's The Ballad of Dwight Fry actually is all about Frye's Renfield. Makes sense since Cooper himself is a major fan of old school horror!

2. The Wolf Man (1941)
This movie was ridiculous and there are so many things I didn't like. Most of the things I think were due to the times. Not just that it aged badly, but because the way Larry acted towards Gwen. If he had done that today he'd most likely be charged with stalking and/or get a restraining order (if Gwen had had the guts to tell on him to the police). You don't spy on a girl through a telescope (that's creepy and stalk-y) and you don't insist on making a date when she tells you no, and you most definitely don't kiss a girl after she tells you she's about to get married very soon! Was that mirroring the times or was he just genuinely creepy? Other than that the movie was angsty and had basically no plot. Gypsies come to town, Larry and two girls go there to have their fortune told. The gypsy man (played by Bela Lugosi btw) is a werewolf who turns while they're there and kills one of the girls. Larry kills the werewolf but not before he has been bitten. So he turns into a wolf man (no explanation why the gypsy turns into a wolf, but Larry just turns into a man with fur and a wolfish snout).
The villagers find the murder weapon and it's such a unique thing that they know that it's Larry's so he's charged with the murder of a man (the gypsy changed back upon death) while he insists he only killed a wolf. He turns into the wolf man at night and roams around the woods. The villagers set out to kill the wolf they hear at night. Larry is killed. The end. It might just be because I've never been into the werewolf thing, but there's nothing I liked about this movie.

3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The zombie movie that set the standard for the rest of the century! I'm not a huge fan of zombies either tbh, but this one was interesting because it's so different from what I'm used to, especially how the zombies look, but also that they have some sort of cognitive brain function left. To me it was obvious from the beginning that none of the characters would survive, and I could figure out a lot of what was going to happen by just knowing how zombies usually work. But seeing as they didn't know back then I expect it was a lot more thrilling at that time. Anyway, Barbra and her brother Johnny arrive at a graveyard to place flowers on their father's grave. Johnny is an ass and scares Barbra who runs basically into the arms of a zombie (who they don't realise is a zombie). Johnny dies while defending Barbra and she flees to a house in the middle of nowhere. The house turns out to be abandoned and she finds a dead body on the upper floor (no explanation to why this dead person doesn't come back to life as a zombie). Barbra spends the rest of the movie being an incoherent mess and not doing anything at all but screaming at times and whimpering at others.
She is joined by a black guy named Ben who immediately reinforces the house and blocks all entry. He tries to work with her, but later gives up and just lets her sit in the sofa. Here I was slightly wondering who would die first, which Hollywood trope they'd implement - the black guy or the dumb blonde? They are suddenly joined by another group of survivors who'd apparantly been hiding in the basement of the house. (Why didn't Ben bother to check there when he checked the rest of the house?) A married couple who does nothing but argue, and a young couple who turn out to be quite resourceful. The married couple has a daughter who's sick. We're eventually told that she's been bitten by one of the dead (and that's when I realised exactly how the whole plot would unfold). The group listens to the radio and the TV and decides to try and get to the safehouse in the closest village. Here we're told that the rising dead is caused by the radiation from an exploded spacecraft, and we're shown a big group of villagers that have volunteered to go around killing all the zombies. They promise to be done in less than two days (lol). To get to the village the group needs the truck in the front yard. But it needs gas from the gas tank further along in the front yard. Ben and the young couple decide to get there using fire to scare off the zombies. Except fire and gas don't really work, and as expected the truck blows up with the young couple inside. Ben manages to get back to the house, but the married dude doesn't want to let him in. Ben forces his way in and almost kills the guy. Then all hell breaks loose. The daughter is turned and all the zombies from the front yard are attacking the house in force.
They break through and kill everyone except Ben who manages to survive by hiding in the basement. The next day he hears voices and quietly goes back up. It's the villagers who have arrived to kill off the zombies. They mistake Ben for a zombie and shoot him. The end. As a whole I liked this movie, but there were a lot of things that bothered me, especially Barbra. Surprisingly, the ending didn't bother me. It was the only unexpected thing in the movie and I quite liked it. I later learned that Ben's character was originally supposed to survive, but as this movie was made during the Black Rights Movement in America, Duane Jones (his actor) wanted to have Ben die. At this time black characters apparantly didn't live, they were supposed to die, and Duane Jones didn't want to seem entitled or as if he was asking for attention or anything, so he asked to have his character die.