It seems that the Powers That Be here at JNM(mnj) want me, Resident AntiChrist, to write a regular column regarding movies. Initially I refused, stating that *I* was the one in charge, and that They should be writing articles for *me*. However, it seems that They were committed to destroying the Universe As We Know It if I didn't comply, and so, being the humanitarian I am, I eventually gave in.
So here's the column.
To start off, I want to make it clear that although this column is supposed to describe movies and how they relate to RPGs, I make no promises as to its true purpose or contents. I need a public medium in which to preach my AntiChrist-ly dogma, after all. So, without further ado, on to the movies!
Escape From L.A.
(It almost saddens me to begin an otherwise promising column with such a crappy movie. This particular flick, however, is the one that started off this entire idea, and so deserves to be the first movie 'reviewed.')
For those of you who live in a cave, "Escape From L.A." is the sequel to one of the all-time greatest cyberpunkish action movies, "Escape From New York." I'd go into more detail on the movie itself, but let's suffice with saying that it was pretty damn lousy. That's right; BAD. The acting was atrocious, the computer effects weren't worthy of a vacuum tube, and the entire storyline was as deep as a mud puddle.
However, it did accomplish one thing:
It reminded me just how much I like FASA's cyberpunk-meets-magic RPG, Shadowrun.
To begin, Snake Pliskin was the only character in the movie to survive in a critical role for any real length of time. Therefore, I'm going to consider him to be the only (truly worthy) PC in this scenario (Maps-To-The-Stars-Eddie may have been the coolest character, but he was most definately an NPC. As all GMs know, it's the NPCs that really make the story, anyway <g>.)
If you've played Shadowrun for any length of time, you've probably determined that it's quite normal for PCs to fall off of a 50-foot building (see my article regarding this in an earlier issue of JNM(mnj)) through the roof of a Mitsubishi Nightsky, and exit through the driver's-side door with minimal damage. (Karma's a wonderful thing, ain't it?) NPCs, on the other hand, seem to come a dime-a-dozen, and tend to go out just as quickly. Especially if the PCs have anything to say about it.
In "Escape From L.A.", this same methodology seemed to apply to every major battle Snake was involved in; everyone gets shot up royally, but he manages to make it out with only minor injuries. The helicopter scene in the end personifies this exquisitely; a missile blows up inside the helicopter, and he BARELY EVEN FLINCHES. The passengers, on the other hand, are set ablaze like so many marshmallows.
Another major similarity between Shadowrun and "Escape From L.A." is the apparent ease with which the characters do things; flying a glider is no problem. Nor is surfing a tidal wave. Or slam-dunking a basketball... Or doing cool stunts on a motorcycle. Or a myriad of other impressive things. If this were real life, Snake would have been a pair of boots within the first half hour.
If we base it on Shadowrun, however... Killing a dragon with one shot from a pistol? Been done. [EdNote: Grumble.] Fixing up the electronics on an armored car? Sure enough, with enough duct tape. Shadowrun characters can do damn near anything from the start, and if they can't, just default to the skill web with your awesome attribute scores, karma, all-around PC-ness, and viola! Nuke construction made easy!
Next up, we've got the basic ideals portrayed in the movie:
1) Top Dogs = bad,
If that isn't Shadowrun, I don't know what is.
Bringing this to some sort of close, "Escape From L.A." makes for good watching, as long as you can keep the mindset of a 'Runner. Enjoy the wild and crazy antics of a munchkin troupe wading their way through a (supposedly) well-thought-out adventure. Imagine the GM cringing as Snake uses his 6 Quickness to ride that wave, And There Ain't A Goddamned Thing You Can Do About It. Imagine the ease with which the players are rolling their handfulls of dice.
And above all else, mock it to your heart's content. It's the only way you'll survive.
There it is; the original concept behind this column, and a pretty damn good example of what it is we here at JNM(mnj) are trying to accomplish. (Er... if you know what that might be, *please* let me know...) If you ignore all the text, I'm sure there's something to be learned from this, and you may even be a better person for it.
(Don't hold me to that, please)
As to next issues' movie-RPG relation, I have no idea. There are so many good gamer movies out there that the choice is just plain difficult to make, and recently there have been so few (violence-filled Nicholas Cage flicks don't count. Nyah.) in the theatres that writing about something up-to-date is difficult. Perhaps something worthy of RPG-comparison is just around the corner, waiting to be seen and commented on by Yours Truly.
So, until next time...
NERPS! NERPS! NERPS!
..You know you want some...
And, of course...
Choose Fun 'N'GameS. Choose Dirk!
Now accepting souls for placement in "the Better afterlife." To give your soul freely and willingly, e-mail me with your name and address, and I'll send you a spiritually-binding contract. I'd like to mention the many influential people throughout the world that might support me... if they only knew. Serious inquiries only, or you'll go straight to Hell! Oh, wait...
j n m ( m n j
"Angel: A gargoyle with cosmetic surgery."
-- from a button, attribution otherwise unknown