Posts Tagged ‘Final Fantasy’

What is your name?  What is your quest? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” – The Keeper of the Bridge of Death

What is a Quest?  The term is defined as “a long and arduous search for something” or “An expedition undertaken in medieval romance by a knight in order to perform a prescribed feat”.  I looked a few days ago through the dictionary that sits just to the left of the dais on the floor of the House of Representatives for what it had to say about “Quest” and what I was presented with was nothing but lame jargon…on the floor of the House of Representatives?!  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  Tim Keller purports that a quest is a journey upon which one embarks  – not entirely of their own choice – that either leads to their death, or they return from the journey so changed that they cannot return to their old life.  Conversely, an adventure is something chosen freely that one embarks upon and at its end is able to return to their old life as it was before they left.

Looking at an example such as the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings is a quest, while The Hobbit or There and Back Again – as it is also calledis an adventure (even if the the trailer for the upcoming film may hint  at it being a quest rather than an adventure).  Bilbo comes back to his old life as it was before he left it.  In Lord of the Rings, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Sam, Merry, and Pippen do not – and – spoilers – Baromir dies.  Frodo and Gandalf go with the elves to the Grey Havens; Aragorn marries Arwen, becomes a father, and embraces his destiny as the long expected King of Gondor;  Gimli and Legolas become life-long friends; Merry and Pippen are now the tallest of Hobbits and in the books must return to the shire to defend it from destruction; and even though Sam marries Rosie and lives inHobbitton for some time – sans Frodo, his dearest friend – he eventually is called to the Grey Havens as he had been a  ring bearer too, never to return to the Shire once he leaves.

Much like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars is a quest, Dune is certainly a quest, as is the Terminator franchise; in these cases the main characters go through things that leaves them vastly different than when they began.  Luke Skywalker goes from a lonely and forlorn  farm  boy on a backwater word to the hero of the Rebel Alliance and the last of the Jedi Order.  Han Solo: from rouge smuggler to, Rebel hero, hunted bounty, General, and the pirate who actually has a change of heart and finds it within himself to love a princess.  Leia: from youngest member of the Imperial Senate, to Rebel leader, orphan without a home, hunted fugitive, warrior princess, and willing to risk it all to save the life of the pirate who’s heart she won.  And Obi-Wan Kenobi…from Jedi, to hermit, to teacher, to sacrificing himself for a cause greater than himself:  allowing the rebels to escape the Death Star and calling out the potential he saw in a 19 year old farm-boy who he’d spent the child’s entire life thus far guarding in secret under the guise of “a crazy old man” (who thought it too dangerous to go alone, so he gave him his father’s lightsaber).  In Dune, there is no doubt what-so-ever that young Paul  Atradies cannot go back to the life he lead as the son of Duke Leto on the water-world of Caladan once his family leaves their home to manage spice production on Arakis at the behest of Duke Leto’s cousin, Emperor Shaddam the IV.  Paul goes from a young teenager to the Duke of House Atradies after the murder of his father and subsequently  the undisputed leader of the Fremen – the native people of  Arakis – waging war on House Harkonen and the Emperor for the freedom of Arakis and the Fremen; eventually waging war across the galaxy and becoming Emperor of the known universe himself.

These stories are fraught with danger and intense conflict which bring about great transformation and change within it’s characters, but it often isn’t “all pony rides in May sunshine”  We often shy from quests because we don’t like the pain and difficulty that must be persevered though and the unknown that is the fork in the road:  deciding to do what is right or shirk from it.  It’s why some, when faced with such choices, become the hero while others become the villain of the story and such a choice leads to a destiny of “glorious purpose” bent on selfish and devious ends.  It’s why Yoda voiced concern about Anakin Skywalker and was reticent to know what came after suffering because he didn’t know if perseverance and character would result in Anakin’s life or resentment and anger and it took a generation to ameliorate that mistake amidst Yoda questioning the readiness of the younger Skywalker.

The truth though, is that human beings need quests, especially men, and Superhero movies – from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Iron Man and the Avengers, and Green Lantern – to video game franchises, like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda, readily support this idea.  Often though, destiny does not call upon us at the moment of our choosing and we are reluctant to get involved.  We’d rather save whales, because that’s easy…and not the universe.

And so I will end as I began: Who are you and what is your Quest; what are you searching for…and are you willing tto embrace that quest in the same manner which young Talia Al’Guhl escaped the pit…jumping without the rope?

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Author’s Note:  Thoughts on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (via a Facebook note) after it’s release in 2010; great movie.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy heroes, comic books, and video-games. Now if someone can successfully turn that into a movie, I am all in. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is all this and more. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the six volume comic book saga of the same name, volume six having just recently released in the last month. In truth, I have not read the comic books yet, so I do not know how well it follows the source material.

In the film, Scott Pilgrim (played perfectly by Michael Cera) is a 22 year old bass player in a band with some friends from high school. The band’s desire is to make it big, to sign with a producer everyone calls “G-man” and Scoot is dating Knives Chow a high school senior. Enter Ramona Flowers, a roller-blading punk girl with wild hair colors that Scott really wants to date. The audience soon learns that in order to date Ramona Flower, Scott Pilgrim has to fight and defeat Ramoa’s seven evil exes (a.k.a. The League of Evil Exes). It’s a riot to watch Scott Pilgrim go one-on one with with Lucas Lee (played by Chris Evans – Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and soon to play Captain America) and Todd the Bass Player (played by Brandon Routh; Superman in Superman Returns). I particularly enjoyed the “Bass Battle”. Some are going to see this as romantic-comedy-esque, because yes, romance is one of it’s main themes, and it’s a very funny movie. As someone who doesn’t like romantic comedies all that much, I actually like this (battling a League of Evil Exes who all have superpowers to win the heart of a girl; who doesn’t?).

This is a movie that is a complete ode to a generation that’s grown up loving video-games and comic books. One of the wonderful aspects of the films is the use of music and sound effects from the classic video-game franchise The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo series which happens to be my all-time favorite gaming saga). From using the history of Pac-Man as a pickup line; learning the bass line to Final Fantasy II; many nods to classic arcade fighters like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter; Thor’s Hammer – Mjollnir; and a final duel influenced as much by role-playing games as it was by Star Wars; this is a movie that a gamer/superhero fan will love. In many ways this is the movie that was made for the “Nintendo generation”. There are nods to many other cultural icons like Bruce Campbell/Evil Dead, The Seven Samurai, and the late John Hughes.

The whole idea of seeing Scott Pilgrim (while surely flawed) as a hero goes beyond honing skills, winning fights, scoring points, and collecting change in the process – it’s the idea that he’s willing to fight and defeat seven evil villains so he can date a girl, not so he can take over the world. He’s willing to risk life and limb because of a girl (and to protect his friends). Most films don’t execute this all that well, but Scott Pilgrim does so in a way that’s humorous and nostalgic. It’s nice to see the geek hero triumph and see a character actually learn something worth learning. Pilgrim is a much better hero than many of the anti-heroes who are popular today, such as Wolverine, Punisher, Blade, and Spawn. There is an innocence to his heroism that is akin to Link in the Legend of Zelda games –Scott Pilgrim didn’t seek to become a hero, the circumstances found him. I think this is a film that will define this generation long after it leaves theatres. Children of the Eighties have The Goonies, and this generation has Scott Pilgrim – just beware the Nega-Ninja.

The FENX, surprisingly, not in this blog post.