Friday, September 22, 2006

Movie Review: Flyboys

Flyboys is based loosely on the experiences of the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI. This French aviation squadron was made up of American volunteers prior to the entry of the US into the war.

The movie is an entertaining showcase of computer generated aerobatics, but it's a bit too long and a bit too cliched to be a truely good film. If it was just one or the other it would be more forgivable, but the two combined tend to drag the film down. When the characters aren't in the cockpit the film drags, particularly during the romantic subplot. You can't blame this on the acting, which is good, there just isn't a lot for the actors to work with. Their characters are a checklist representing different war film archetypes. You will probably be able to tell who will live and who will die as soon as they appear on screen.

A couple of the characters are supposedly based on real-life people, while the rest are supposedly amalgamations of different real-life flyers. Even so, the characters come off cliched.

Still, the action scenes almost make up for it. Seeing some of these classic planes recreated in full color was a treat. If it wasn't for the amount of downtime between each dogfight, this would have been a more entertaining film.

Also, the film does a pretty good job showing just how dangerous life was for a WWI fighter pilot. The escadrille always comes back from a mission short some pilots. I have to give it credit for that and for showing period costume and uniforms in full color. This is always nice for an era usually only portrayed in black and white.

The film earns its PG-13 rating for violence. It's a war film. There's death, there's blood, and there's maiming. Not as graphic as many other war films, but it's all there. Other than a couple of brief scenes inside a brothel, there's no sex in the film, not even partial nudity. The romantic subplot gets no further than a kiss.

For the reasons I've mentioned, I can't give this film a full recommendation. I'd say wait for it to come out on DVD, but the action scenes are worth seeing on the big screen. I just wish they made up a larger percentage of the film, or else that the rest of the film had more to offer.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

First Warmachine Battle

Well, I didn't take any pics, but then only a couple of my models were painted and none of my opponent's were even primed. Heck, his Behemoth model consisted of the base and one leg!

My usual beginner's luck held up and I won, barely. It was internecine warfare as my 500 point Khador force led by Sorscha faced his force led by a pretender Sorscha. My force consisted of the starter set for Khador, plus a unit of Doomreavers, a Greylord Ternion, and Alexia Ciannor. His force was Sorscha, a Destroyer, a Spriggan, and the Behemoth.

This was the first game for both of us (well, my opponent had played a demo game before, but this was his first full 500 point game). I totally did not know the rules. I had asked to just watch a match first, but the host of the game day at the FLGS insisted that the newbies start. So, I quickly went over my stat cards and began play. Fortunately the host and his friend were both pretty good about answering questions as we played.

The game board was open terrain with a couple of hills. LOS was not an issue. I got the first turn and advanced all my units, but that was it. I should have tried to bombard with my Destroyer, or cast Fog of War, but I didn't even think about either. I may not have been in range for bombarding though.

He did bombard with his Behemoth on his turn, taking out a Thrall that Alexia had created as well as a couple of Risen. The Destroyer then took out one of my Doomreavers.

The second turn I still didn't bombard, just moving my units closer, except for Alexia and her remaining Riven who retreated. I did cast Fog of War this turn, which would make it harder for my opponent to hit any of my units except for Alexia and her Risen which were out of range. My Greylords also managed to get a couple attacks off on the Destroyer and his Sorscha with Frost Bite, but didn't do a lot of damage. Meanwhile he moved his entire force towards Alexia, with the Spriggan charging the nearby Doomreavers. Fortunately, he was only able to get one of them.

The next turn I charged his Sorscha and her accompaning Destroyer and Behemoth with my remaining Doomreavers. They managed to take off a few more hits on his Sorscha, but she still had at least a half dozen or so hits left. Then on his turn he managed to knock down my Juggernaut and Sorscha with Tempest. He followed this up by attacking with his Spriggan, using grenades against Sorscha follwed by bombarding Sorscha with his Behemoth. The end result left my Sorscha with a single hit left!

Obviously enraged by this, my Sorscha stood up, used her feat, and cast two Razor Wind spells at his Sorscha, finishing her off and winning the match!

It was a very close game, with all the decisive moves (my opponent's Spriggan attack and reminding me to use my feat) being suggested by the host of the session. I learned a lot about how Warmachine plays, and am pleased with what I learned.

I'm also inspired to continue painting the rest of my force (so far just the starter box and a single Doomreaver are painted). I've also looked at what I might get to expand my force to 1000 points.

Alexia was a complete non-factor in this game, except for drawing fire that should have gone to other units. She led the largest unit on my side, and I think that distracted my opponent. Once he realizes just how weak Risen are he won't let them distract him like that. He almost focused all his efforts on Alexia, until the host pointed out that she wasn't my warcaster.

I can see where she will be usefull when the other side takes troops, but against an all warjack force, she has limited utility.

My other units all proved their worth though. The Doomreavers, Greylords, and Sorscha all contributed directly to his Sorscha's defeat, while my Juggernaut and Destroyer both provided useful assists.

I'm now looking forward to building my force and playing future matches. I'm also inspired to continue my painting after getting some positive comments on the units I've managed to do so far.

The only downside is that out of six players there, five of them have Khador forces, and three of those only have Khador forces. There's going to be a lot of internecine warfare going on.