Diablo; Signs

I would like to go into a bit of detail about my neck again today, but let’s be honest, I am absolutely sick of writing about it, and you are no doubt sick of reading about it. Instead I will just say that you should assume that it is in the same condition as it was the previous update if I do not mention it. That way, hopefully, I won’t write about it again until the injury is healed…Don’t quote me on that.

I stayed up late last night playing DiabloII:LOD, several months ago that was a very common thing for me to do, but now it seems almost like my world has gone in a big circle. I started playing DiabloII after I had bought it for my wife as a birthday gift. I played single player for at least a year or more before the ‘purity’ of on-line play pulled me in. By the time LOD came out, I bought two copies of it, one for desktop, one for laptop. I played the game so much and had gotten so much gear muled that I never played a character that was not *helped* by my other characters. This became rather boring after a while, and I just resigned myself to just using a sorc, baba and zon for magic find, and that was all I played for the last few months of my Diablo career.

While waiting for Blizzard to get around to releasing the patch (that was like two years in the making), I split my time between everquest and a diablo mod that was really pretty cool. In the process of doing that, my on-line characters mostly expired. Out of a total of 32 characters, only four of them remained, one high level sorceress, and three mules, though not the mules with the elite gear. None of my friends were playing online anymore as they had moved on to the everquest for the PS2 or World of Warcraft, this made levelling a new character difficult. So what did I do? I started an off-line character so that I could adjust the difficulty to help me gain experience between act bosses.

It had been so long since I had played a character through from the beginning that I was a bit surprised at how difficult it was. Not that there was really any threat of my death in the first act, just that the monsters were all a lot tougher than I remembered them. Keep in mind that this was the first time in probably at least two years that I had been playing a character without hand-me-down gear to help him out. When Andariel (boss of act 1) died and dropped a magic mace I was overjoyed. I used that weapon for the majority of act 2.

That led me to thinking about just how different this was than my recent play style. I never picked up anything that was just magical unless it was an elite item, now I was picking up every magic item I saw and saying please,please,please as I identified it. It is a lot more fun this way, but if I were to start a character on-line again the temptation to trickle some gear down from my mules would overcome me (probably about the time I had to fight Duriel, since I always have a problem with him), and that would take away the anticipation and joy of seeing an item drop then seeing it is actually a useful item.

What is it about DiabloII that has this effect on me and so many others? In just a quick look around what passes for an office at my house I can see Morrowind, Alone In the Dark 3,Arthurs Knights 2, Atlantis: the lost tales, Egypt Tomb of the Pharaoh, I could go on. I haven’t spent more than an hour or two playing any one of those games( never even installed a couple for that matter), yet I am still consumed by DiabloII. The only logical answer is; Blizzard put subliminal messages in the game cinematics that make you want to play it more.

As long as I am in the mood to write about Diablo, I may as well throw a theory out here regarding ebay. In lots of articles over at DiabloII.net people have criticised Blizzard for not taking a firm stance against people who sell game items for real money. I don’t really care either way, if someone is dumb enough to pay actual money for a string of binary code that can only be used in an on-line game, the deserve what they get. A theory that I have had in my mind for a while, though, is that the Blizzard employees actually sell gear over ebay to cover the costs of maintaining battle.net without having to charge the players. The reason that I really love that theory is that it would mean that people who don’t play often enough to find the really good stuff (that is part-time players), and those with more money than brains, would be paying for the dedicated fans who devote ten hours a day to it without ever dropping a cent. This is also the reason that it can’t possibly be true, it would make me far too happy if that was the reality.

I woke up early this morning and was not able to get back to sleep, so I decided to watch a DVD. I found one under the end table called Signs and popped it in. Before I go into detail below, let me just say that there was a BlockBuster sticker on the front of the case that said “Previously Viewed $14.95”, and I think that BlockBuster is just assuming that whoever rented it was actually able to view it.

If you have never seen the movie and plan to, I am gonna spoil it all here, so don’t read it.

The trailers for this movie, as well as the description on the box, say that this is a movie about one family’s experience dealing with crop circles and extraterrestrials. That is true, to a point. The villains in this movie could have been pigeons, frogs hell even day-glow ping-pong balls and it would not have made a difference to the plot. Here is the entire plot in a sentence; Man loses faith in God, things happen to make man believe again. That is the entire movie.

To be fair to the movie I guess I should do a bit more detail about that. The main character (mel gibson) is a man of the cloth. His wife dies in a car accident which makes him question his faith, he turns in the cloth (this happened before the point where the movie starts). As the movie progressess he begins to think that his faith helps to save his son not once, but twice. He then believes that his son has asthma only because there would be a point where poison gas would be sprayed in his face, but God had made it so that he couldn’t breathe at the time. He then believes that what he used to think were his wife’s non-sensical dying words were actually a vision of the future, telling him what to say to his brother six months later when faced with a dilemma.

Okay, I am gonna take a few deep breaths and try to collect my thoughts since it does get even LESS logical.

There are a lot of things in the movie that are inconsistent or just don’t make a damn bit of sense. The first in my mind is why would the aliens decide to try to invade the earth when water is toxic to them. Wouldn’t they have noticed in their cursory exploration that we live on a planet that is more water than land? Wouldn’t they have seen that every dwelling in the entire world -regardless of wealth- had water in it? Attacking would be like trying to dig a paperclip out of a huge bowl of razors, are these beings, that have already mastered interstellar flight, really that stupid?

There is also the issue of the aliens and their ability, or lack thereof, to open doors. In one scene there is an alien that is not able to escape from a pantry which has a couch against the door, in another scene you hear them break out windows to get into a house, then find a disused coal chute (which would surely have been sealed off when the house went to a more modern climate control system) and somehow break through that. Even in the basement where two grown men had done the pole-under-the-doorknob trick and were also leaning against the door, the aliens nearly broke through. This was necessary to build tension, sure, but it was just not consistent.

Then there is the dead wife. So she was hit by a truck and pinned against a tree. In the scene you can see at least three ambulances and a dozen firemen and EMS workers. They just left her there until Mel got there. Great. The movie explained this away saying that the woman should be dead but that she hadn’t died…Well that is when one is supposed to use medical knowledge to keep them not dead, isn’t it? I am sure that letting her bleed internally for however long it took for Mel to get there was probably why she died, but I guess that was what the movie was going for. I think that what you are supposed to believe is that their combined faith had kept her alive long enough to talk to him one more time, so she could could say “swing away”.

My wife said that she has never even made it thirty minutes into this film, and I am actually kind of surprised that I did. I just kept looking at the timer on the DVD player and thinking, something has got to happen soon, and it never did. This is one of the worst movies that I have ever actually sat through, but I did sit through it, so that is something. I just sat through it waiting for something to happen, and then it was over, and then I was pissed off that I had just wasted over an hour and a half of my life watching a movie that you could see at vacation bible school. But don’t take my word for it, the Cap Alert guy gave it what I would say is the best review of his that I have ever seen.

Hoping to see how the movie was reviewed by people other than ultra religious kooks, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and found that it actually has a 78% positive review. Did those people watch the same movie as I did? 78% is like a C+ right? The movie I saw doesn’t even deserve a letter, or if I had to give it one it would be a ‘Q’ or an ‘S’ for Quit or Stop. But it doesn’t even stop there, I went and checked Ebert’s review and he is blowing more sunshine up your ass. The last two paragraphs of his review aren’t too far off the mark though;

Instead of flashy special effects, Shyamalan creates his world out of everyday objects. A baby monitor that picks up inexplicable sounds. Bo’s habit of leaving unfinished glasses of water everywhere. Morgan’s bright idea that caps made out of aluminum foil will protect their brains from alien waves. Hess’ use of a shiny kitchen knife, not as a weapon, but as a mirror. The worst attack in the film is Morgan’s asthma attack, and his father tries to talk him through it, in a scene that sets the entire movie aside and is only about itself.
At the end of the film, I had to smile, recognizing how Shyamalan has essentially ditched a payoff. He knows, as we all sense, that payoffs have grown boring. The mechanical resolution of a movie’s problems is something we sit through at the end, but it’s the setup and the buildup that keep our attention. “Signs” is all buildup. It’s still building when it’s over.

The problem is that I could not find anything better (worse for the movie) to put here from anyone with a reputation. I guess I may be the only one in the whole world that hated the movie and I am okay with that. It just goes to show that there is a damn good reason why I rarely watch any movies other than comedies.

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