Whip It

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Whip It (2010)
Director: Drew Barrymore Starring: Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Drew Barrymore, Juliet Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Jimmy Fallon, Eve, Zoe Bell, Landon Pig, Carlo Alban, Ari Graynor, Andrew Wilson, Daniel Stern

Certificate: 12A  Running Time: 102 Minutes

Tagline: “Be Your Own Hero”

She’s been entertaining us in one way or another for most of her life, whether by her acting or her ‘extra curricular activities’, so I suppose it was inevitable that the delightful Drew Barrymore would eventually turn her talented hand to directing. But what sort of film would she choose? A romantic comedy like The Wedding Singer? Brainless action like the horrific Charlie’s Angels? Or something similar to one of the many serious drama’s she’s starred in? Actually, no. It turns out to be something quite different. Something akin to the small-town American indies of which I’m so keen, but most other people haven’t heard of.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Whip It is set in the world of the Roller Derby, which, to be frank, is a sport I had never even heard of before seeing this film. Nonetheless, it’s an amateur contact sport practised primarily by women and contested by two teams of five each. Four players from each team begin racing around the oval track before the remaining member of each team known as ‘jammers’ start from further back. The jammers then have to race round and round the track attempting to pass as many members of the other team as possible. The players on that jammer’s team attempt to clear a path for her while the opposing players try to stop them. For each opponent successfully passed, that team scores a point.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

At the start of the film, however, Bliss Cavendar (Page – Juno) had no more idea what Roller Derby was than I did. She is a directionless 17-year old living in a small Texan town called Bodeen. She is shunned by the ‘cool kids’ at school, has an unsatisfying job in a fast-food restaurant called the ‘Oink Joint’ where her only friend, Pash (Shawkat – Arrested Development), also works, and she has no real interests or goals. Her mother, a former beauty queen, pushes her into entering pageant after pageant, and she goes along with it despite not really caring about them. During a shopping trip with her mother, however, Bliss encounters some roller derby players distributing fliers.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Immediately intrigued, she and Pash lie to their parents and travel to Austin to watch the roller derby clash between arrogant champions, the Holy Rollers, and perennial losers, the Hurl Scouts. After meeting Hurl Scout, Maggie Mayhem (Wiig) after the derby, she is invited to attend a tryout. After a bit of practise she attends the tryout where she discovers she is one of the fastest skaters around and is offered a place on the team! The only problem from here is trying to improve the losing attitude of her new team and dealing with the building rivallry with Iron Maven (Lewis) and her Holy Rollers. Around the same time as all this, she meets budding rock star, Oliver (Pigg), at an after derby party with whom she immediately hits if off. However, with so much of her time now being taken up by her new pursuits, her friend and parents are forced to take a back seat.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


As I said, I had no idea what a ‘Roller Derby’ was before I encountered this film, but if it’s anything like this, it looks pretty damn entertaining! It’s an interesting subject on which to base a film, and Drew Barrymore, who also has a co-starring role as fellow Hurl Scout, the violence-loving Smashley Simpson, looks like she’s having a fantastic time, both on-camera and off. The diminutive Ellen Page is as lovable as always (okay, maybe not Hard Candy!) as Bliss, showing once again she’s more than just a little cutie – despite her being a bit selfish, she’ll still have you cheering her all the way. Whilst perhaps a little sterotyped, Pigg also does a decent job as confident, brattish rock singer, Oliver.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

The main players are all well supported too. I’ve long been a fan of Juliette Lewis and she’s bang on form here as the cocky and ruthless star player, Iron Maven, and the other players including Eva Destruction (Graynor), Bloody Holly (Bell – Death Proof), and Wiig as Bliss’ new friend, Maggie Mayhem, are all great fun to watch. Before you ask, yes there are some males in the film too, although not many! Andrew ‘brother of Owen and Luke’ Wilson is the Hurl Scouts team manager, Razor, who takes great pride in his ‘playbook’ (which of course the team dismiss as nonsense) and event compere, Johnny Rocket (Fallon) has a lot of fun with his innuendo-laden commentaries. Bliss’ parents (Stern and Harden) do a lot with their limited screen time too, with the latter suffocating Bliss with her controlling ways while her father just sits back, happy to let his wife be burdened by her. Lastly, lovely little Alia Shawkat has grown up a bit since I last saw her in Arrested Devopment but she’s still endearing and makes a great ‘best friend’ as Pash. Hope to see more of her soon.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


The bottom line is, I watched this film because I liked Ellen Page in Juno and was intrigued to see Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, plain and simple. I’m not sure what I went in expecting, but this definitely wasn’t it! However, to say I was pleasantly surprised in an understatement – the events depicted are entirely inconsequential to all but those most directly involved, but that doesn’t stop this film from being an absolute joy to watch for it’s entire length. This is exactly the kind of film I like – well cast, good acting, decent story, etc, but beyond all that, interesting, earnestly portrayed characters that you actually find yourself caring about. Special mention must also go to the absolutely fantastic soundtrack. As is often the case with movie soundtracks, you’ll probably not have heard of half the bands here, but the songs are almost all great and perfectly selected for their scenes, with the roller derby songs in particular suiting the action to a tee.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


So, Drew Barrymore’s career as a director is off to a damn good start. Considering those involved, I was expecting this to be a pretty entertaining film, but it ended up being an even more thoroughly enjoyable 100-odd minutes than I thought, and one that I’ll undoubtedly sit through many more times! I’m sure it won’t appeal to all – it’s not a sugar-coated chick-flick or a gun-laden blokey action film. What it is, though, is the best film

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQGPdXnb2Gg
I’ve seen this year so far…

RKS Score: 9/10

The Interview: Ned Coker: CCP

CCP logo
CCP logo

CCP

So pretty much all of us are fans of CCP here at Obsolete Gamer, many of us were and still are Eve players so when we got a chance to do a bunch of Gamer Profiles from CCP staff we were honored to publish them.

We wanted to go a bit beyond the gamer profile and find out what it like working for CCP and what else is going on in their world. Ned Coker was kind enough to chat with us about himself, CCP and their upcoming projects.

 

CCP: Gravy can baseball

Can you tell us about how you came to work for CCP?

Ned Coker: I was a marketing intern at White Wolf Publishing in 2006 right before the merger with CCP. Upon the melding of the two companies, how could I not continue riding the juggernaut? I got to my current position, being in charge of EVE Online’s Public Relations, after working my way up through the ranks, losing my fair share of battleships in pursuit of “getting to know EVE” and proving my love of our products to those around me.

What game did you first work on?

Ned Coker: The first game that I contributed design work to was a White Wolf product line called Scion.  I’ve even co-authored a part of the Scion Companion book on the Hindu Pantheon.  Once I switched over to EVE PR, I’ve joined my other coworkers in plenty of CCP “open brainstorming” sessions. I still do some stuff for the White Wolf part of EVE too.

What is it like working for CCP, the day to day?

Ned Coker: It’s probably easier to show you a few videos… take your pick.

NSFW Lyrics

Just because you work with games does not always mean you are a gamer however, a lot of people at CCP are true gamers, what is that experience like?

Ned Coker: Being able to share a common “language” is amazing—considering that we all pretty much grew up loving games of all sorts.  From actual playtesting to Halo 2 conference room trash talking to some long standing pen and paper games, it’s refreshing and well, comforting to feel like nearly everyone here is a brother by another mother or a sister by a different mister. Do we all agree that Star Control 2 had one of the greatest multiplayer components of any game ever? No, but not everyone here shares my vision.

Can you tell us about your other games?

Ned Coker: Well, I could talk for years and years about CCP’s game design, the settings etc, but the easiest thing to do is to just reiterate that from White Wolf’s storytelling system to EVE Online and further into the future, we hold several things at the core of creating games. Maximize human interaction. That’s really it.  It’s the shared experience of gaming that makes them wonderful. Sitting around a table or chatting from a thousand miles away. Whether it’s telling cooperative stories about vampires or negotiating economic deals across star systems, all of our games point towards a shared experience on many scales.

 

 

The one-to-one encounters to the thousand person shared experiences.  Leaving the choices and goal-making up to players is also a key tenant in our game design.  Sure, it requires more imagination, but it also provides tremendous rewards. Sort of like a homemade meal just tastes better than fast food because you put some elbow grease into it. These things will never change about our games and in the future you’ll see us trying to innovate with our philosophies as a base.

CCP: After a Friday barbecue

With EVE Online, what was the overall goal you wanted the game to achieve?

Ned Coker: Mazimize human interaction. It seems like a lofty goal for a game, but it’s what’s at the heart and soul of the original game design, why the “sandbox” style was chosen.  A secondary goal would be to create a really amazing Science Fiction experience. EVE has a lot of room to grow to capture all the Sci Fi hallmarks, but the sense of scale and exploration are there. Of course the battles. And, well, with the addition of Incarna next year, we’re taking a huge leap forward.  On a less philosophical level, we are always refining our goals.  As a business, we want more subscribers, but we also want subscribers who are contributing to the game and who will stick around with us because they provide invaluable content for the game itself. We also want EVE Forever. So far, we’re nearly 8 years in and it’s changed a lot and kept growing.

More CCP Downtime: CCP Atlanta’s head chef

Seeing it today with a strong following are you happy with the results?

Ned Coker: There were many mistakes along the way, as is natural with any evolving product, but I can safely speak for the founders in saying that they never imagined EVE would change so much or be so popular. Our players have been really patient and helpful in building EVE.  So, yes, extremely happy.

What was something you wanted to add to Eve Online that you haven’t been able to yet?

Ned Coker: Yes. There’s a LONG LONG LIST. Luckily, there’s room to grow, so it’s just a matter of time.

What is the next major step for Eve Online?

 

Ned Coker: Right now we’re deploying EVE Online: Incursion, which adds a huge new feature in the form of group content.  Up next is really more like a whole staircase instead of a step—Incarna—the name of our technologically massive effort to bring realistic avatars to the game.  Did I say realistic? Here’s a test version video made by a player.


Can you tell us about your gaming background personal and professional?

Ned Coker: Sure. I’ve been gaming since I was really really really young, since my dad worked for IBM.  Nintendo was my first big jump into true nerdery though, and from there I split my interests amongst tabletop, a long stint at Magic: the Gathering and numerous consoles and then getting back into PC gaming after high school.  I’ve always been about world building and roleplaying, and never took my FPS games too seriously. For me, it’s all about the experience of playing with others, so I reveled in Goldeneye 64, roleplaying games, and now the glorious, indefatigable MMOs.

 

Professionally, my “career” really started with White Wolf as a marketing intern. I know, lucky me avoiding the real world (I don’t count shorter summer jobs).  Before that—and after college—I was writing a novel, which I never finished but will eventually.

What are you currently playing?

Ned Coker: Currently I’m all about Team Fortress 2 and EVE Online. They fulfill both parts of my personality. For tabletop, I switch between White Wolf stuff and a homebrew D&D 4E game.

What’s the next major event for CCP?

 

Ned Coker: Fanfest, and the party at the top of the world. I hope you’ll join me there. I’ll buy you a drink!


Fanfest 2011 trailer

Páll Ívarsson: CCP

CCP logo
CCP logo

Name: Páll Ívarsson (CCP Fear)

Company: CCP

Profession: Senior Game Designer

Favorite Classic Game: Civilization

Quote: I was 8 years old when it came out, and I think I got it about a year later through a friend of my mom’s. I was super excited about it, the concept being “You rule your own civilization” and out of a selection of a few games she had got me, this was the one I needed to install on our new 386 computer. The main problem was that I didn’t speak a word in English (being from Iceland) except a few words here and there and my mom claimed I wouldn’t understand it. But I ignored her warnings, and I’m glad I did. Empowered by English to Icelandic dictionary I spent hours in front of the screen, trying to make any sense of the game. My main problems were with building roads, irrigating my barren lands and what messages I was receiving. But I stood the test of time and by writing my own small pocket book of strategy I was able to play Civ again and again. These moments, and many others shaped me into the gamer and the developer I am today.