Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Warhammer 40K Death Match

B. very selfishly ran off to Hawaii with his wife last weekend, so this past Saturday marked two weeks without playing a game of 40K. However, last night we were finally able to get together for yet another round of our favorite unhealthy obsession. Saturday night's game of 40K was notable for a few reasons. First, it was our first game played at my home rather than at B.'s. Second, it was my first game played entirely with my own figures rather than with a mix of my models supplemented by some of B.'s. Finally, I showed that an army of standard Space Marines can take on the elite Grey Knights and make it an extremely close fight.

This time around I took the "Sir Robin" approach to the battle; i.e., I bravely ran away while shooting everything I had. Since the Grey Knights are geared towards close combat rather than a shooting fight, this approach significantly leveled the playing field. I lost by a small margin, but the game could have ended very differently if a single dice roll had resulted in a three instead of a two. My Dreadnought simply needed to score one more hit against B.'s Dreadknight, after which it could have turned its heavy weapon against his remaining two Knights. Unfortunately, I had burned up a lot of my luck earlier in the game, the shot missed, and the Dreadnought was forced into close combat with the Dreadknight. The two Dreads duked it out and annihilated each other. Considering that his model was worth a lot more points than mine, I wasn't too sad about the outcome of that particular fight.

Dreadnought vs. Dreadknight: Grudge match of the week

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movie Review: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Although Netflix sent me this DVD back in June, I didn't get to it until now (once again, I blame Warhammer 40,000). Buckaroo Banzai has been a sci-fi cult classic since it was released in 1984. In fact, quite a few of those who created Star Trek: The Next Generation were fans of the movie and inserted various in-jokes into computer screens, starship dedication plaques, etc. I had thus thought that I would like the movie as much as I have so many other cult sci-fi movies. As it turned out, Buckaroo Banzai left almost no impression on me.

Buckaroo Banzai is a brain surgeon, particle physicist, and rock star. He is recognized the world over and has regular phone conversations with the U.S. president. His band also doubles as his lab assistants and, when necessary, his heavily armed strike team. This makes for a wacky premise that is so underplayed that it loses much of its humor. Sure he's supposed to be a brain surgeon, but we only see him perform a single surgery at the beginning of the movie and then his medical expertise is never really used again. He's supposed to be a rock star, but he performs only once in a New Jersey club. Most of the time he plays the part of a particle physicist that helps to perfect and test a method for traveling through solid matter by entering the "eighth dimension" (he only does this once in the first 15 minutes of the movie).

The plot primarily revolves around the efforts of a renegade faction of alien beings from "Planet 10" to steal the "oscillation overthruster"; the device that allows one to enter the eighth dimension. Apparently these aliens arrived on Earth years before by way of the eighth dimension and want to use the device to return to their homeworld to finish their rebellion. In the meantime, the aliens have established a company called "Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems" that has received a number of defense contracts. When Banzai's trip through a solid mountain via the eighth dimension becomes famous, another group of aliens realizes that the renegade leader might be able to return to Planet 10. They arrive in orbit and threaten to destroy the Earth in order to kill the renegades if Banzai can't capture him first.

Overall, the movie wasn't bad, but it wasn't that remarkable, either. I was never bored (the unpardonable movie sin), but it seemed like the movie squandered most of its potential. It wasn't funny enough to be a real comedy and the wackier elements of the story weren't played up enough to be effective. At the same time there was too much comedy for it to be taken as a more serious sci-fi film. John Lithgow, who plays a human scientist who was possessed by the aliens' leader during an early attempt to travel through the eight dimension, gets the most chuckles. But this is through Lithgow's over-the-top Italian accent and Mussolini impersonation, which get old fast.

Then there are the stray plot threads that come out of nowhere and go nowhere and cause the story to lose its focus. The most egregious of these is the revelation that Buckaroo Banzai's love interest is the long lost twin of his (deceased?, estranged?) first wife. Maybe these plot threads would have made more sense if the sequel that's mentioned at the end of the film had been made. Normally I would mourn an unmade sequel (e.g., The Rocketeer deserved a sequel, but its disappointing box office receipts killed it), but the thought of the promised Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League just isn't that exciting.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Poor, Neglected Blog

A few months ago my blog was averaging over 100 visits a day, thanks to Google. Well, I guess that Google's search algorithm is affected by how often you update your blog; I've since dropped to about 60 hits a day. I can only blame this on one thing: Warhammer 40,000.

Until B. introduced me to that infernal game (that wonderful, awesome game) I was on the Internet all the time. I actually knew what was happening in the world, I followed politics, I read b-movie reviews, and I updated my blog frequently. Now I don't even know what Republicans are running for president (not that it matters, I'd vote for him or her over Obama anyday), the list of B-Masters reviews that I need to catch up on has grown significantly, and my blog was updated only once last month (and then it was a 40K post). Netflix was the best entertainment-related thing ever during the B40K era ("Before Warhammer 40,000"). Now I've had a couple DVDs for nearly three months and I've still not watched them.

How can I not add this guy to my collection?
It's not like I'm playing the game all the time. In fact, we only play it once a week. However, since I'm actively building my army, I end up painting figures almost every night. This process takes a lot of time since I have an obsessive, perfectionist personality. I had told my wife that once my Space Marine army was built, I would have more time in the evenings. Unfortunately, 40K is addictive and B. and I have been talking about expanding the number of armies we have to add some variety to our games. Specifically, I've considered getting a Chaos Daemon army to complement B.'s Grey Knights (the Grey Knights are Space Marines who specialize in daemon-hunting).

So, I hope to get back into blogging by posting a few book and movie reviews, maybe a couple CD (i.e., mp3 album) reviews, and some political commentary... Oh, who am I kidding? This will probably be my only post for the month and I'll spend the rest of September building all of this stuff:

This is about $200 dollars worth of 40K stuff


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