Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ant Man and the status of superhero movies in general

I haven't written on this blog in literally years.  But I feel strongly enough about something that I'm blowing the dust off this thing in the vain hope someone might read it.  More to just put my thoughts down than anything else, really.  But I don't see anyone else saying this, so it might as well be me.

Me being who I am, I pay attention to superhero movie news.  Marvel has been in that news a lot lately, what with Edgar Wright leaving Ant Man, a movie he's been at least saying he's been working on for years.  Since just after the first Iron Man movie.  Think about that.  Ant Man wasn't in the first Avengers movie because Edgar Wright wanted to introduce him first.  What a waste.

Now, there are rumors and leaks about the movie's story focusing on Scott Lang, the second Ant Man, stealing the suit from an older Hank Pym in order to help Lang's kidnapped daughter, Cassie Lang, who would go on to become the young avenger Stature and die while trying to bring her father back from the dead because reasons.  Also, it seems to be another one of those comic book deaths that is going to stick, because female character reasons.  I'm serious about that.  Who cares about Scott Lang?  Not me.  But here's one less female superhero in the world to bring a male one back to life.  It's under the guise of "paying a price" and "a life for a life," but really.  It's the writers doing away with a female hero to bring back a male hero nobody cared about.  Not me, anyway.

But I digress.  Dear reader, you may sense I'm a bit fired up about something.  I assure you, it's not Wright's leaving the director position, though that is disappointing and discouraging.  It's this:  Marvel has found a way to exclude Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, from the story of Ant Man.  Better yet, they've replaced her with a damsel in distress, a female character objectified for the main character's motivation and story.  And I don't understand why.

The Wasp isn't the greatest hero in the Marvel universe.  She's not the most interesting character.  But.  She's a founding member of the avengers, and is actually the hero that came up with the team's name.  Specifically to Ant Man, she's an incredibly interesting character foil, because Hank Pym is somewhat of a reluctant superhero, and it's Janet's influence that gets him out into the world.  Janet encourages him to use his "pym particles" to help people directly, and make a tangible difference in the world.  It's a man encouraged to become a hero by his romantic interest.

Also, he beats her; that's awful.  Really awful.  It's something he regrets forever and it comes to define him to his fellow heroes and he is constantly trying to move past it and atone for it but never really succeeding.  As he shouldn't.  Because it's unforgivably awful.

Another thing that's unforgivably awful is Marvel has purposefully excluded another female superhero from the cinematic universe.  It's a movie about Ant Man; the Wasp should be there.  It goes without saying.  I don't understand why Marvel is dragging their heels at best and at worst directly opposed to the idea of bringing in female superheroes.  It's frustrating and appalling.  There's going to be a Peggy Carter TV series.  Okay.  There's going to be a Jessica Jones Netflix series.  Oh, you mean that character who was raped and then gave up being a superhero?  Yeah, okay.  Where's Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers?  Where's She-Hulk?  Everyone's clamoring for another Hulk movie after he stole the show in Avengers.  Stinking introduce She-Hulk!  DUH!  And while you're at it, why the bloody hell are you purposefully excluding Wasp from the Ant Man movie?!

DC meanwhile is going to have Wonder Woman in the Superman/Batman movie, and has already announced that they plan to have a solo film for her after the Justice League movie.  That's a long ways out, but it's still more than Marvel has given us.  Marvel is tearing DC apart in the movies right now.  I don't know why they're giving DC this opportunity to turn things around.  Fans of superhero movies will say, "Marvel movies are better than DC movies," and right now that ends the argument.  Before long, DC will have a rebuttal that goes something like this:  "Yeah, but DC was brave enough to bring to film a female superhero in her stand-alone movie, and that's more than Marvel has done."

Scarlet Witch is going to be in the Joss Whedon helmed Avengers 2.  Well okay then.  It might not suck.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Star Wars VII might not suck, but it will probably disappoint

I'm calling it.  Here's where I'm putting my money.  Star Wars episode VII will disappoint.  Here's how it will be.  Fans will flock to it.  They will flock to it because they are fans, JJ Abrams has a bigger reputation now than he has ever had, and the trailer should be amazing.

In fact, let's talk about the trailer.  It will be dynamic, fast, with quick shots of fan-favorite characters, lots of camera zooms, dramatic one-liners, and laced with intrigue.  It will give the impression that more is going on than what we see, and in order to find out what is really going on, we'll have to see the movie opening night.  Opening night, because after that it WILL get spoiled.

Fans will leave the movie feeling sort of let down.  They'll agree it was better than the prequels, but still not as good as it could, or maybe even should have been.  There will be action, explosions, and lens flare, and will probably look amazing.  The story, the characters, and the intrigue presented in the trailers will fall short.

And that is how Star Wars episode VII will be.  It will be a huge success financially, but only remembered because of its accidental relation to a very famous franchise.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I'm excited to hear there is movement, if sluggish, forward on the sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire.  But I'm concerned about what director David Fincher says in this article.  He wants to make it his own thing allegedly because there was criticism that he followed the book too closely? 

Really?  Really?  If that is even true, this is one of those cases where not every opinion is valid.  Some are just stupid.  Followed the book too closely?  Is that even a thing?

I'm willing to bet that's a bogus response, anyway.  What I suspect is that they're going to try to write more Salander into the sequel.  That's what the Swedish version of the film did after all, and people seemed content with it.  Besides, Rooney Mara got an Oscar nomination for her role as Salander.  It was huge.  How is more Salander a bad thing?

Here's the deal, though.  Girl Who Played With Fire is awesome because it takes that character we know to be competent yet brutal -- and we love her for it -- and makes her the prime suspect in a gruesome murder.  And then we don't see her for the majority of the story.  She disappears after we see her alone with the soon-to-be-victims.  We know she is definitely capable of a murder like this.  But we, like Blomkvist, have no idea why she would do it.  We care about her like he does, we know she's able like he does.  And we want to know where she is, like he does.

That may not sound like much, but it's so exciting to be in exactly the same situation as the main character in the story.  I've never experienced anything like it in a book.  To me, it is the most essential part of the story and the trick it pulls off most successfully.  Perhaps in the entire trilogy.  It also makes those precious few moments we do see her all the more meaningful.  To rob movie-goers of that experience will cheapen the film irrevocably. 

Mr. Fincher, I urge you to follow the book closely.  It's such a fun ride.  If you want to make it your own, don't fall into the same traps as the Swedish version.  Besides, people who have read the book don't want to see something new.  We want to see what we imagined come to life.  Fair warning:  any changes you make we'll probably hold against you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Avengers -- decadent and sexist? Ooh, read on

Let me get this out of the way:  The Avengers doesn't suck.  At all.  It's easily the most fun I've had in a theater since Return of the King, and the ending was even more satisfying.  It was so good on so many levels, and like I've heard a lot of other reviewers saying, I hope this finally propels Joss Whedon to the superstardom that an artist of his caliber deserves.  He nailed it.  I've also seen smart people rip on the movie a bit.  To them, I say to each their own.  It probably won't get best picture, okay sure.  But if you have something against the genre, you're probably not the right person to review it.  Just saying.

Of course, panel people coming out of seeing "The Artist" alongside people coming out of "The Avengers" and see who had a better time.  Who was more satisfied.

Now, on to what I really want to talk about.  While the NYT has been trashing The Avengers for being "decadent" and whatnot, another camp has been criticizing it for a fairly decent reason:  There's only one female.  Who, incidentally, doesn't have any super powers.  Who kicks a ton of ass.  She's perhaps the most capable of all of them -- at one point she discerns what's going on while everyone else is having a dick-measuring contest.  She happens to look great while she's doing it.  But still, there's only one of her.  One out of six.  I'm responding primarily to Margot Magowan's blog post.  Not because I disagree or because I think she has a shallow interpretation of the evidence.  Quite the contrary.  I think she has valuable insights and a perspective that needs to be shared.  The comments on her post were left by idiots, though.  And I don't want to register to share my long-winded response.  I hate registering.  I commit to nothing.

First off, this blog post is good.  I agree.  Women are often objectified and overly sexualized in their poses for comic books and the movies inspired by them.  I think this is based on the assumption that the predominant readers and viewers of these are adolescent boys with only one thing on their minds, ergo the best way to sell their stuff is to show a lot of tits and ass.  It's disgusting, really.  I really wish the industry would change.  And to that degree, this poster doesn't do the movie credit.  I much prefer this one:

She's cleaving out a bit, but at least she looks somewhat intimidating.

To the next post, I would just like to say that talk has exploded around the internet about what characters should be in Avengers 2.  There's talk about Dr. Strange and Namor, for example.  Mr. Whedon has cryptically said that managing six characters was really hard, and he's not sure he would want to do even more.  But I'm going to wait and see.  There are a bunch of characters that would keep a sequel fresh.  For me, the first would be Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel.  She's being set up as Marvel's answer to Wonder Woman, and she'd be an awesome addition to the team, even if she replaces someone.  Before
Ms. Marvel, there was Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk.  She's cool because she's a bit more reluctant to be a hero, and everyone around her is expecting her to lash out like her cousin and she has to continually win their trust.  Then there's Janet Van Dyne the Wasp, Jessica Drew Spider-Woman, Bobbi Morse Mockingbird, Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch, etc.  There are also black superheroes like Luke Cage and Black Panther.  There are others like The Falcon, Patriot, Bishop ...

Sorry.  I kind of got off track a little.  Anyway, I have two points to make.  The first is that there are plenty of super heroes out there to add more diversity, along both gender and racial lines, to a sequel to this already amazing movie.  The second point is as long as Joss Whedon stays at the helm, I'm willing to bet cold hard cash that more strong, capable, believable female super heroes will appear in the sequel.  He had only one to work with in this movie, and she was awesome.  I'd love to see what he would do with a few more.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mass Effect 3

I'm compelled to post about this. I don't think I'll be saying anything new, but just saying it might make me feel better.

Game journalism bitches and moans about not being taken seriously. Real journalists don't take it seriously. Gamers bitch and moan about games not being regarded as an art form. Art critics don't necessarily regard video games as art. It's easy to imagine them scoffing at the idea. My beef is not with art critics; it's with game journalists.

Game journalists are missing a rare opportunity with the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy. By and large, their response has been this and this(don't get me started on the "ninja turtles are aliens" part. Actually even if you do, I'll just agree with MovieBob I think. He's normally pretty on top of things). Fans have been saying this. See the disconnect? It's vast. It's so vast, it's impossible for dialogue to happen. Game journalists have, by and large, told fans of the game to shut up. (I know MovieBob is not a game journalist, but he weighed in on the issue and that makes him fair game.) Some fans have responded in untempered rage calling for mass firings and other unbelievably unreasonable things. Now, I agree that they should at least calm down. Other fans have started the Retake Mass Effect movement, and I don't like the wording of that. It presumes quite a bit. Other fans have bought cupcakes for Bioware, the makers of the game.

This is the time for game journalism to shine. This is a gaming issue, and game journalists have shown their ineptitude. Why the grand disconnect? What happened to create such a divisive ending? What happened at Bioware? Was this due to the game being leaked before the release? Was a new ending rushed? Did EA pressure Bioware into making the ending some kind of purchasable DLC to generate more revenue? Who's asking this? Who should be? Game journalists. Instead, they're saying this. Wah waaaah.

At least other journalists are getting into the fray and being reasonable. I suppose, being reasonable is agreeing with me. Yeah. Yeah, it is. I'm reasonable. I don't want the artitstc integrity of the game's writers to be compromised, but I can't deny that there are serious issues with the ending. Vast disconnects of logic, philosophy, and plot holes on a grand scale. Direct contradictions to the rest of the game. Let alone the fact that no matter what you do, the ending is basically the same, removing all choice from the player and negating all of the choices you've made to this point. Also, in Mass Effect 2's DLC Arrival, Shepard destroyed an entire system by blowing up a mass relay. If all the mass relays blow up, all the planets I sacrificed so much for or fought so hard to secure are obliterated, INCLUDING EARTH. I cause more destruction in ten minutes than my enemies could in 100 years. There's a little geek rage for you. Sorry about geeking out like that.

If you've followed my myriad of links, you're as familiar with this issue as I am. I think there should be changes made to the ending, and I trust Bioware to make them. I'm sure they'll make an otherwise fantastic game only better. Whether they go with the indoctrination theory or not, I know it will be better than what we got. I didn't mean for that to rhyme, but I'm okay with it. And the rest of the game is so good. It is SO GOOD. Whatever the ending will be, we'll know more about it in April. And it might not suck.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Oscars

There seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding the Oscars. "The Academy is largely comprised of white males," "The Oscars didn't get as many viewers as is financially feasible," "Harry Potter should have won SOMETHING." But me, I just don't really care. The Oscars are kind of like politics, there's nothing I can really do to change anybody's mind so why get emotionally involved? I'm at enough risk for high blood pressure, I don't need more needless stress in my life.

But I did watch a little bit, and I do think the Academy, in general, is pretty predictable. I do think they play it safe, to some regard. If they liked a movie, they're going to give it a bunch of awards in as many categories as it is nominated regardless if it really deserves it for that category. I'm thinking specifically of Hugo, which beat out a bunch of movies in several categories that I don't think it necessarily should have. But then again, I haven't seen it so I can't really comment on it at great length. I'm sure it's a good movie, but I doubt it's -- what, five Oscars? -- good.

And I'm sure Meryl Streep earned her Oscar, again, I'm just sad Rooney Mara didn't get it for her fantastic work in Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. What a fantastic movie. And Ms. Streep was glamorous and gracious and had a very moving speech, so I'm not overly upset about the whole thing. I just think this is an instance of the Academy being predictable and playing it safe.

I'm also sad that Gary Oldman didn't win. He's one of the best actors out there and turns out consistently high caliber performances, even if the movies he's in aren't always that great. Actors of his quality should get an Oscar. He probably will eventually, it's just too bad it didn't happen this year.

Here is one Academy decision I will support, though. The Artist should get Best Picture. Now, I haven't seen it, but I know what it's about. I've read articles of people bemoaning it, saying the story is really nothing new. That's fine and may be true, but a movie is more than story alone. You can't argue that The Artist is stylistically unique. I guess Tree of Life is also unique, but I think the Academy was right to choose The Artist. I look forward to seeing it. After all, it won Best Picture. So it might not suck.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Superhero movies

I guess Green Lantern sucked. I didn't see it. I went and saw X-Men First Class. Which was awesome. Fantastic acting, a great story, character development ... in short, everything. Doesn't follow the source material, but I didn't care. No one I have talked to about this movie cared that they didn't religiously adhere to the source material. So, go see that one.

Green Lantern had everything going for it. A good director. A script that a Green Lantern comics writer had signed off on. A decent cast. A big budget. I don't know how it could possibly have failed as hard as everyone is saying it has. I was so sure this movie was going to be good. I hear it sucks. ~sigh. Where did they go wrong? Maybe I'll see it someday and tell you. Until then, go see First Class. Unlike some movies out there, it doesn't suck.