Dragon Age, Ma Vhenan: The Lore is a Lie

This is cross-posted from my blog on Gamasutra.

I’ve finally figured out how to talk about the root of my deep love for Dragon Age: Inquisition without spending an hour or more spoiling the story and lore of the setting for the listener. I stumbled upon this during a Skype call with someone completely unfamiliar with anything Dragon Age. My fumbling explanation gave him the mistaken impression that Inquisition went back on the lore established in the first two games, retconning things better left alone. But that’s not true. No, Inquisition gave us an extraordinary gift uncommon in any fantasy setting: it taught us that everything in the established lore is suspect. Continue reading

Tangled, Part 3

This is the third and final entry in my series of rants about the animated movie, Tangled. I liked the movie, but was disappointed that it wasn’t better when it could have rivaled anything out of Pixar’s studio. Check out parts one and two, and keep in mind that there are spoilers ahead.

The Horse

Maximus, from Tangled

Maximus. Stalwart steed. When his human master fails to catch the thief, he carries on, doing a much better job than the incompetent guards can manage.

Until he decides to act like a dog. Continue reading

Tangled, Part 2

Sorry for the delay between the first post about Tangled and this one. Spoilerfest!

The Sun’s Gift

As I mentioned in part one, I have a healthy amount of respect for the backstory of the movie. The changes they made from the original tale left them a lot of room to maneuver while keeping the core story elements intact, if not strengthening them. However, it raises moral conundrums which are never addressed in the movie. Continue reading

Tangled, Part 1

I didn’t get around to watching Disney’s Tangled until a few days ago. Though I missed it in theaters, it came up in a Facebook discussion about Pixar’s upcoming Brave. Reminded of it, I got my hands on it and watched it.

Watching the movie, I found myself conflicted. The parts I liked I really liked. The parts I didn’t like, I really didn’t like. There was very little in between. At the end of the movie I simply felt disappointed. So much was done well, but the parts that were done poorly left me with no desire to watch the movie again. Frustration prompted me to write a long consideration of its pros and cons. So long, in fact, that I’m breaking it up into multiple posts. (Hopefully the others will be shorter than this one.)

That said, I would like to point out up front that I do think the movie is worth watching.

The Tale

Traditionally, the story of Rapunzel starts with a pregnant, common-born woman having cravings for her neighbor’s vegetables. When the neighbor catches her husband sneaking into her garden to steal some for a third time, the neighbor demands the unborn child as payment for the stolen vegetables. Since this neighbor is supposedly a witch, the couple complies out of fear. The girl grows up to be beautiful and eventually the witch locks her in a tower, where she stays until a prince hears her singing and starts to court her when the witch isn’t around. When the witch finds out, she cuts off Rapunzel’s long hair, which is the only way into the tower, and casts her out. When next the prince comes by, the witch blinds him. Though there are several variations on the ending, typically Rapunzel and the prince eventually get lucky and find each other again.

Tangled sets itself up with a modified origin story, adding a magic element to Rapunzel herself and setting up for a very different tale. I won’t summarize the whole movie (though there are spoilers ahead), but for my purposes here I do need to tell you about the five-minute back story with which the movie begins: Continue reading