Posts Tagged ‘movie’

I have a friend who is an extreme movie-goer.  Loves movies.  Loves reviewing them.  Does not have a blog.  One of his common complaints is that there’s just too many superhero movies, and too many of them are flops for the “genre” to still be considered legitimate and not beaten to a pulp.  He says, what gives?  Suicide Squad was maybe decent at best.  Batman VS Superman is something we don’t talk about (literally never going to review that movie), the X-Men movies are slowly deteriorating, etc.  Now, this is his argument – it is not mine.  The last few Spider-Man movies had split personalities, with some people adoring them and some others wanting to puncture their eardrums, although I don’t remember them getting particularly high reviews.  I fall into the latter category to the extent where I also wanted to gouge my eyes out.

So, why do we need so many of them? If you don’t like even a slight mention of politics, look away now.  Move your mouse, have it hover the X button, press it, and get up and walk away.  Don’t have No Chill.  Although I hate to tell you – superhero movies very often get political.  X-Men can be (mutant registry, hello?).  Captain America can be.  America as in *AMERICA* (THE COUNTRY, AMERICA).  Batman can be.  The comics can be even more so.

Image result for captain america punching hitler

Real subtle.

Superheroes show us that (^), even when it’s not deliberate.  Superheroes show us Captain America punching Hitler.  Superheroes show us the X-Men fighting to not be put on a “list of mutants” type deal.  Superheroes show us alien Superman isn’t all that different except he’s really buff.  In the current divisive political climate, regardless  of what you think, superheroes show us that their situations aren’t actually all that different from ours.  And you know what?  We need to see that.  We need to be reminded to be everyday heroes.  We need to be reminded how the struggles truly are similar in some respects, and what we can do about it.  Sure, we aren’t rich and have a personal butler, and we don’t have superhuman serum, but we have something.  We have the power to organize, to fight back, and to argue with those in power.  We have the power to resist, even if it ends without a success.

With American politics being so shitty, my advice is to take solace in the fictional who undoubtedly harbor more power than we do.  Each movie, each comic, each character – has a statement to bring to the table.  Comic books are also a medium that do not shy from political commentary.  That’s why we still need superhero movies.  They can say things to a mass group of people, masked in a playful cloth.  They can comment – hell, their actors can also comment – unapologetically and brutally, but just subtle enough to not alienate.  We need them because, despite all this, they still bring people together.  But, they make them talk, too.

But why superheroes?  Can’t we just make a CIA movie?

No.  Superheroes give people hope.  Superheroes are people we look up to.  Superheroes are something bigger than all of us and everything we know if they were real.  You can fire a CIA agent.  A cop.  An FBI agent.  A masked vigilante can’t be fired.  They’re controlled by their morals and their power.  Since when did you look at a CIA agent and feel a sense of hope?

My advice is to harness that power for what you believe in.

But, just like divisive superhero movies – another takeaway – don’t forget who your friends are, even if you disagree with them.  Speak softly and carry a big stick.

But now, more than ever, we should be looking to them.

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This sort of just panned out this way.  I come back the same time I attend NYCC for the first time ever.  First, really, I want to say thanks.  My hell that is college is almost over (not the college part, the hell part).  I needed to take a semester or two away from this, which was depressing as anything.  I missed writing even as I’m taking enough writing classes to successfully make me sick of writing.  The upside to taking writing classes, though, is prepping for MR writing.  I get to practice as much as I possibly can before I embark on this.  I have a few storylines in mind, and although I draw I will need an artist because I barely have time to eat dinner nowadays.   (sidenote: if you’re unaware I have a character I want to write a comic book for).

I want to say something:  This blog is a hobby and a job.  In other words, I’d love to see it turn into a job.  But if it doesn’t, I will always come back to it.  I enjoy it too much to fully ever let it go, and I’ll probably do some form of professional writing whether it be a comic book, a novel, poetry, fictional/non-fiction essays, or anthology of short stories.  And you will know about it.  But mostly, I want people to just read it and have a good time with it as much as I do.

So where did I go besides comic con?  I’m a double major, first off, so naturally I’m double the strapped and stressed as you if you’re a liberal arts.  I’m half (sort of) science.  This doesn’t apply if you’re a biology/psychics/math/STEM related major: my apologies, but you shouldn’t be reading my blog and trying to eat, sleep, or shower.  I also was hiding out to avoid reviewing the new Shitastic Four movie so I didn’t need to attend anger management classes.

But onward to Comic Con.

First let me say I am lucky to live in the land of the second largest comic con in the United States.  At the same time, a New York Minute is no joke, and most days of my life lunch doesn’t exist.

My land, right here.

My land, right here.

Living here is part of why writing is so difficult.  My life never stops, its a never ending merry go round of shit to do. I’ve wanted to get back to this, I’ve wanted to write again both for myself and for Comic Frontline.  I’m going to strike a balance.  I’m considering some combination of movies and comic book arcs (I don’t do that cliffhanger stuff) and one post that is solely more like my Christine post perhaps once a week each.  Regardless, I went to Comic Con Saturday and Sunday.  I wanted to go on Friday, but that horrible queue system made it hard to do and slowly getting the tickets became The Hunger Games and the scalpers were Mr. Snow.

imageI still went despite the slightly traumatizing experience of getting the tickets.  I did not go to any panels, but I wish I went to writing panels.  Apparently there was information regarding publishing your own comic book, and that could’ve been useful.  I went for myself and for my blog.  I mean, honestly, it’s all kind of a blur to me.  I mostly went to booths and bought way too much shit and figured out who everyone was cosplaying as.  I did do a cosplay on Sunday, but not Saturday.  It was Jurassic Park related (duh).  Unfortunately nobody guessed what I was (or cared very much at all about what I was), but if you saw somebody in a pink shirt with a JP cap it was yours truly, you creeper.

My first thoughts upon going was, well, it’s just fucking crowded.  Really crowded.  I kind of wish they’d do something about that, but I don’t imagine what they could possibly do.  It just seems like a bit of a hazard to have hoards of people who are barely moving their feet.  The booths were rather interactive, and if nothing else, really interesting.

I'm set. I can leave NYCC now.

I’m set. I can leave NYCC now.  It’s coming with me, though.

While at NYCC, I honestly realized how poor I was.  I saw posters signed by celebrities (Ahem, Hayley Atwell) and Sideshow statues that I wish I had 400 bucks lying around to buy.  They featured Batman statues and an amazing Joker statue so amazing that the price was TBD.  It was that gorgeous that they couldn’t even decide on a price yet.  I went into NYCC with the mindset I wanted one thing related to a small group of people:  Batman, The Joker, Batgirl, Nightwing, Captain America/The Avengers, Peggy, and Catwoman.  I found Batman, Joker, Avengers, and Batgirl fairly easily.  Nightwing wasn’t too tough but it required some searching, same with Peggy.  Guess who’s still the only character I can find nothing for?

That's right.

That’s right.

Yep.  Catwoman.  I could find next to nothing Catwoman.  I found one mediocre t-shirt, this statue, and a few other things, but that’s basically it.  While the statue is a great mention, it’s not economically practical.  I mean, I blew over 100 bucks in this place.  I can’t just drop 400 bucks on a statue.  It was frustrating.  There were some amazing cosplayers, but I was undercover.  I wanted to take a photo of them and put them on here (like a top ten cosplayers type thing), but I was with people who I don’t want to see this blog because I’m intensely private that way.  Next year I will be doing that.  The ones that come to mind are the Hulk Buster, Ghost Busters, and the woman dressed as Claire from JW (or at least a JW scientist).

Speaking of JW.. how disappointing.

They’ve already announced another movie, and had a corner dedicated to the movie, but that’s it.  Now mind you, I liked Jurassic Park before it was cool.  I waited for JW for 14 years.  I scoured the floor for more JW related things, but nothing.  It was all superheroes and anime, and a bit of Pokemon but even that was lacking a bit.

imageThis was the extent of JW-related things.  I wish it wasn’t, but it was.  All the booths had impressive displays, don’t get me wrong – but if you want to keep the hype going for a movie (a JW sequel) that everyone is collectively like “what now?” at, I don’t know, any more merch would help out.  Buy something.  Limited edition something.  A bunch of guys in costumes is nice, but ship out some shit to sell.  I LOVED the amount of Civil War, Deadpool, and Avengers stuff around.  It was utterly everywhere.  And even Peggy got her share of time:

image

Like some other people we know.

800 bucks.. that hurts.

Regardless, I was happy with my prints and my lithographs.  The booths, while expensive, were wonderful eye candy.  The murals might not have come home with me, but they were immersive nonetheless.  You really knew where you were.  You really felt the excitement for future movies and comics and games and whatever else.  It was very superhero heavy, and actually a good bit Star Wars heavy.  It being superhero heavy is why I lost as much money as I did. There were also exclusive Harry Potter statues and The Hunger Games – unfortunately I am not reporting on anime because I have no clue who anyone is.  Pokemon was lacking a bit, but I feel we’re in the age of superheroes – and with references to Civil War, Bat v Supes, and Deadpool utterly everywhere, NYCC didn’t disappoint.  For the JP nerds – they had old school JP toys from The Lost World and the original Jurassic Park in the box.  For sale.  There.  I wish.

Overall, I feel there could be more emphasis on female characters.  Tap into that reserve.  More Batgirl, Peggy, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy could prove useful.  You might even make a buck (or a couple hundred thousand).  It felt male character centric, with some extra emphasis on Wonder Woman.  I just want to see that happen.  Maybe Wonder Woman will help change it.

No Fantastic Four, though, of course.

So I saw Jurassic World.  As some of you might know, I was cautiously optimistic about it (leaning a bit on the side of negativity).  But I saw it last night and unfortunately couldn’t post sooner due to a day job.  I really, really wanted to write last night because I had such strong emotions following Jurassic World.  The premise of the movie is something everyone knows by now it seems: A working, 21st century version of Jurassic Park is made by Simon Masrani, who bought out InGen from Hammond.

As always, a little story for you first.

Jurassic Park and I have a love-hate relationship.  The fandom can be a bit dramatic, and I’ve truly met some less-than-desirable people while navigating my way through it writing this blog.  If there was one thing I wish for this fandom it would be that everyone shuts the fuck up and gets along.  We have something new, don’t ruin it with unneeded drama.  We have waited for 14 years for this movie.

That ultimately brings me to my next point, here.

How did I even get into this Jurassic Park thing to begin with?

Well, it wasn’t some epically major introduction.  I had been a huge dinosaur nerd while I was a kid (I still have a whole bin full of dinosaur toys I refuse to get rid of much to my parent’s dismay).  My dad was watching it in the living room, and I happened to walk in on the part when Dr. Grant and Ellie Sattler first see the Brachiosaurus for the first time.  I stopped for a minute, and was completely taken aback.  I wish I could make it up that I walked in on that moment, but I actually really did.  So I had a JP Chasmosaurus toy someone gave me, and I always looked at the symbol on the leg wondering what it meant (the J and P together).  It was the only JP toy I had and the only original one I owned.  Finally a few years after wondering what it was, I noticed it in the movie my dad was watching.  I had seen The Lost World and hadn’t realized that movie and the movie my dad watched were related.  Then I saw that it was Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs in particular got me through some rough times.  During one hard time, I was waiting for someone to arrive and I knew it wouldn’t be fun.  Before they came, I watched a documentary about T. rex.  I always had dinosaur toys, I was teased in school because I liked dinosaurs.  I had no friends in school, and still, I had dinosaur toys.  That’s part of why I liked Jurassic Park.  Dinosaurs led me to Jurassic Park.  The old scaly raptors, the big, lumbering T. rex… they led me to it.

At first I wasn’t a huge JP fan, but it grew on me, mostly because of how prominent T. rex is.

A lot.

So when JW happened, I was skeptical if it should be brought back at all.

It didn’t disappoint.

Spoilers here on out.

From the opening, the link between dinosaurs and birds is made with a crow.  We are linked with the past of dinosaurs through Gray’s little toy thingy that flipped through the drawings and pictures of dinosaurs back when they were thought to be big lumbering dumb beasts.  This scene I loved.  It set just such a great tone and gave a nod to science – something so many people decided to bitch about (by the way, if you want astronomy information, you don’t watch Star Wars).  Then later on with Dr. Wu admitting they may look very different if they were pure dinosaur genetics was another nod to science.  As a self-proclaimed weather nerd, geologist/earth science junkie, dino lover, and psychology person (so many thoughts right now on that) I enjoyed the nods to science.  It was just enough to be recognizable, as there was no reason to get carried away and begin proclaiming science as if it was a GEO 225 course.  Because it’s not.  It’s Hollywood, and it’s a movie, and it worries about artistic message and articulation – not if the T. rex head is slightly bulkier than the real one.  Obviously some research is always good, as well as some explanation in some cases, but not everything can be as it is in the real world.  Because if Hollywood was the real world, most of this wouldn’t be known or be a thing.

We continue on through the movie, seeing bits and pieces of the park.  I will say the beginning felt rushed, as if the directors and writers knew we were expecting a failing park.  But – The park is gorgeous, really – any JP fan was probably overwhelmed by it completely.  The park really seems to embody what Hammond wanted.  There was a lot of turmoil about the fact it’s a new park – and I’m sure there’s still people around who insist it was a bad idea.  But, mind you, the original Jurassic Park happened twenty years ago.  The original book happened even farther away.  Do you really think many people remember the novel and original movie in great detail?  Maybe the movie.  Maybe.  But not The Lost World or even Jurassic Park 3.  They don’t.  Casual fans and general audience don’t remember what Jurassic Park even is.  When I mentioned it to a friend a year or two ago, it was referred to as the movie where dinosaurs eat people.

He learned this the hard way.

So while your idea for a movie about how DX overtakes Isla Sorna (wait, there’s two islands?) and a whole team of researchers need to be assembled by Dr. Wu (wait, he was in the first one?) and like Ludlow’s half brother (who the fuck is Ludlow?) to find stuff on Isla Nublar to cure Isla Sorna and the Costa Rican government and blah blah blah… nobody would care.  People don’t know about DX, people don’t realize there’s two islands, and people don’t realize everything the super-fans do in general.  Which is part of the only reason I was cautiously optimistic at all about the new park plot – I knew if we gunned for some elaborate plot, the general audience wouldn’t know what it was.  Critics would maybe, but you can’t please everyone.  Ultimately, critics aren’t going to make it rake in 100 million on opening weekend.  The general audience, and making dinosaurs cool again (and in the 21st century) will.  I liked that the film nodded to the original JP many, many times, without making it too much.  i liked the old Jeeps (even if I think it’s ridiculous they found an old battery and managed to start it – I considered it unrealistic).  I liked seeing the Visitor’s Center ruins.  It reminded the viewers why they were there, even as the film struggled to explain to us why it was important.

So the new park is fully operational, and Claire, the person in control of the park, knows she must keep interest in the park for it to be successful.  Claire and Wu go on to make the Indominus Rex, a hybrid creature of raptor, cuttlefish, and T. rex.  She needs to ensure the safety of the visitors while preparing Indominus, so Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is called on to inspect the walls.  Claire is initially painted as stiff.  Originally, I thought, oh great, another bitch woman to fulfill stereotype.  Then I realized something.

While conversating with Owen about Indominus, it’s made apparent she knows a thing or two about these animals.  She knows Indominus ate her sibling.  She knows how Indominus acts – saying things like she’ll come out.  She knows how dangerous Indominus is.  But yet we are constantly calling Claire stiff.

Claire is not stiff.  And that moment, when she was talking about the Indominus, did I realize that.  Claire is a woman in a man’s world (seriously, they’re all men except Zara).  She has a position to maintain.  She has a job to keep, which someone may say a man could do just as good if not better than her.  She needs to play her cards correctly.  Perhaps the reason for her stiffness goes well beyond the so called stereotype – I mean, hell, Masrani flies a helicopter without a license yet on an island full of dinosaurs that could kill him or thousands of others should he crash (kind of like, you know, the Aviary).  She has a right to be concerned with his lax attitude – he’s like a kid in a candy store, all while housing extinct creatures that could escape or kill anyone at any moment should something go wrong.  Claire, in my eyes, doesn’t underestimate the creatures she has on the island – she simply tries to keep up with Masrani.  Masrani seems super relaxed about his creatures and his occupants.  Even when Owen suggests to kill the I. rex to save lives, the person who objects is MASRANI – not Claire.  He states it costs millions of dollars to make the I. rex, hence not wanting to kill it.  Claire freaks out when the Indominus escapes, clearly worrying about the park and the people on it – she’s torn.  Owen has nothing on the line.  He could leave Isla Nublar, maybe go to college courtesy of the Navy, find a nice IT job.  No.  Claire has something on the line, she knows her boss does not want the island evacuated.  She knows her boss doesn’t want Indominus to be killed.  In the corporate world, it doesn’t take much to be fired.  All it takes is a little disagreement or a little disobedience.  Should she show she cares about the creatures that much, it could come off as being anti-profit or anti-guest.  Even when Masrani asks her if the dinosaurs are happy: how can she know if she’s in a huge security office every day, running the park, gathering sponsors, and trying to make money?

And she may just not like children, or be too fucking busy to deal with it.  Corporations void people of their humanity, their feelings.  Claire is a victim of it.  That’s why it takes a dead Apatosaurus for her to realize they’re living creatures.

Claire is the brains of Jurassic World.  Not Masrani.  And perhaps, she’s just too busy.

That leads me to my next point: The acting.

Other than some cheesy lines (“What kind of dinosaur they cooked up in that lab”) and some cheesy acting (see Beanie Guy in JW pressing the big red button to release the raptors as if he’s just beat someone on Xbox 360) I was pleasantly surprised by the acting.  Chris Pratt did… good.  Bryce Dallas Howard did.. good.  Ty Simpkins was perhaps a bit too over the top at times, and I really hated Nick Robinson staring at women (seriously what even is that shit?).  That was the only bit of acting that truly bothered me.  He could’ve been the grungy kid without staring at women constantly.  Just because it’s frequently done in culture does not mean it is right.  It would’ve also been nice for the kids to recognize how badass Claire was too for shooting a gun and doing everything she has done to save them.  It wasn’t all Owen.  Regardless, they were perhaps a bit cliched, but I could kind of overlook it because Claire took no shit from Owen.

But both characters had their badass moments.  Owen is the raptor trainer.  They were not kidding about it resembling real, wild animals.  I actually really got into it as a person who is into psychology (and dog training).  Owen was using a clicker.  The raptors must’ve been conditioned to think that the clicker means food, and food means they did something good, which you don’t necessarily need to be near the animal to do.  It’s simply conditioning, as is imprinting.  Imprinting actually makes a lot of sense for dinosaurs.  Now, I am not getting into a scientific debate (because this isn’t a fucking science blog thanks), but birds very much utilize imprinting.  It’s the only reason I can buy imprinting being effective.  These animals aren’t like other animals, and I know John Hammond tried to do conditioning via imprinting on the JP animals but we never really saw it in action.  These raptors are not his pets.  Most intelligent animals can be clicker trained – sharks, crocodiles, goldfish, dogs, cats.  Just about anything with a half functioning brain.  I have actually clicker trained (granted, it was a 40 pound dog) but I was very, very excited to see Owen using a clicker. That also brings me to that Vic dude (and some characters being underdeveloped).

The dude has like an OCD obsession with military.  Okay, I get it both he and Owen are former military guys – but it almost felt like too easy of a plot device.  I mean come on, most people with functioning brains can realize that wild raptors – or any animals – don’t generally function well as militarized animals.  Even if he proposed editing their genetic code, I highly doubt Wu would be able to get the exact qualities.  While in the end it was sort of why the Indominus was killed, it also felt like too easy of a plot device.  In addition to that, he really just ignores Claire’s authority after Masrani’s death.  At first, I didn’t see why they needed to kill Masrani, but now I get it.  Masrani needed to die for Claire to show herself – who she truly is.  She is quite obviously concerned for the families in the control room, but Masrani knows the profits will take a hit.  She quite obviously knows a thing or two about the creatures, but Masrani bogs her down with running the entire park herself practically.  She quite obviously could be up tight because of how chill Masrani is.  With Masrani gone, Claire can release herself.  Her boss is dead.  She can take the action she feels she needs to.  She can see the creatures and realize what they are without being in a control room.  She can let loose.  She can show Owen she can kick ass without the risk of being fired.

And she does.

That’s her badass moment.  Don’t lie to yourself.  This movie is about Claire.  Claire is the main character.  Not Owen, not the kids, not Masrani.  Claire.  I hear a lot of bitching about how she’s wearing heels – let me give you a quick lesson in feminism and realism.  Let’s be real, a lot of action movies with kick ass women do have heels on.  While it’s not the most practical footwear, I won’t bitch about it.

Oh.. oh god, are her shoes raised?

Wait.. maybe I’m missing someone.

… More heels ….

…. Seriously, I’ve had it.

The fact is, men do not generally wear heels but they are more than welcome to.  Claire is wearing heels, big whoop guys.  Women wear heels.  They can wear heels because they want to wear heels.  It is not for you.  In an interview with Colin Trevorrow with a news source, Bryce Dallas Howard insisted on wearing the heels for the scene (I can find it later).

Do you know why?

Because women wear heels.  And they can wear heels because they want to wear heels.  We do need to learn how to walk in those things, you know.  I have actually seen women run in them as well… and beat people up while wearing them. Wearing heels can be a part of being a woman (IF YOU WANT IT TO BE).  We don’t want to be men.  We want to be equal to men, and that includes wearing whatever the fuck we want to lure a T. rex out of a paddock.  If it’s unrealistic, please go ahead and erase all of Hollywood.  Drop a nuke on it (or would that be unrealistic?).  But, do not expect a woman to wear heels.  She needs to do it.  And she needs to want to do it.  It is part of our choices as women.  When you wear heels, you’re not the goddamn secretary anymore.  Of course there’s better footwear.  But if Owen led the rex out of the paddock barefoot and in his fucking pajamas, nobody would say shit and you know it.  Don’t lie to yourself.  She is a woman, she is wearing heels because she WANTS to wear heels.  And she is the one who saved the day.

Not Owen.

And if you think she suddenly wants kids now, the director himself more or less said he had no idea where the audience got that from.  You can be a nice person (ahem, woman) and not want kids.  You can be a person who is drowning in your work, and once you get out of that work, you’re nicer.  Maybe even be friendlier to kids.  But it doesn’t mean you want kids. It just means you’re nicer to the kids.  Still, I thought the ending was sexist, and I hated how Owen used cheesy pick up lines on Claire, which was basically workplace sexual harassment.  It did have sexist undertones.  Everyone being shocked at Claire using a gun was sexist.  Her suddenly loving kids, regardless of the reasons involved, was sexist.  Her sounding like an immature kid to Owen while looking for the kids – also sexist.  Something can be unintentionally sexist.

Overall, it was a fun movie, and I loved how such insignificant things too on big roles.  The Mosasaur at the end put the kabash on the I. rex.  The Dilophosaurus hologram bought our characters more time to escape as they slowly reconciled with each other in a non-creepy way (a theme a few noticed).

It was a good way to reintroduce the franchise, and T. rex.  It was apparent the director and writers were trying to do right by the fandom after JP3. While I didn’t want another dino fight, I think this one was the most appropriate.  The Spinosaurus skeleton was smashed, the T. rex once again comes out on top, and they even scare you a little – you fear that Rexy won’t make it.  But she does.  I need to add, I was so happy seeing my original girl back.  The fight scene, perhaps a bit cheesy, was completely overlooked for the most part by Rexy making an appearance.  She just saved it in every sense of the word.

The score was generally very good, especially with the tidbits that related it to the first few movies.  But I had a few complaints on top of what I already said. The CGI, generally, was okay, with some parts that it wasn’t as good.  Rexy in the beginning didn’t look so great but it got better.  In addition, instinct could have been emphasized more in the final battle – it doesn’t matter that, the raptors and T. rex have never seen anything like the I. rex.  Even digging into their instincts they wouldn’t be able to place the smell.  I didn’t like much the raptors communicating with the I. rex and turning on Owen – I think that could have just been done by the utter confusion of the park going to shit and the raptors associating it with Owen.  Or, perhaps, the fight or flight response – when an animal is scared they can redirect aggression.  The raptors, simply, could have redirected the aggression toward Owen in their fear until he is able to calm them down.  I just don’t consider it plausible for them to be able to communicate.  In general, instincts could have been emphasized more in the final battle. That’s the only reason indominus worked as a rampaging dinosaur who is confused. Instinct or lack thereof.

Still, I’ve never been so happy to see a goat.

Ultimately, the movie had it’s problems, but for a franchise on the brink of extinction, this was a hybrid of the past and the future. I can only hope things keep going as they are.

Because this time, the Kirbys aren’t here.

As you may or may not know, there are certain movies people watch at certain times of the year.  Some people reviewed Christmas movies in particular.  Some people reviewed classics.  I’m going to review a movie that seems to take place just before or around Christmas – and unlike my other reviews, I’m not going to spoil this movie for you.  This isn’t a superhero movie I could presume you’ve seen.  This isn’t some new movie that young people following me have probably seen.  However, I just want you to know it’s set around Christmas time, and I’m going to intertwine some other messages in this review.  I know I said I was doing Big Hero 6, recently, but I’m actually a little all over the place getting back into the groove of this (and Christmas making it worse).  However, it is connected to superhero movies in a truly bizarre way.  You’ll see how.

The actual name of the movie is The Horse Whisperer.  The premise of the movie is – a young girl, living in New York, owns a horse.  She and a friend go out riding, only for her friend’s horse to slip on ice.  As a result, both friends end up tumbling down onto a road, where a truck eventually hits them both (this is all pretty much within the first 5-10 minutes of the movie).  The friend dies, the young girl we’re following lives but with a handicap (watch the movie), and her horse is traumatized.  Traumatized to the point where he has a complete change in personality.

So… why the hell am I reviewing a horse movie?

I used to ride horses.  I’ve stopped now, but I’ll be going back.  To review a movie such as this is really only appropriate.

Oh yeah… the little girl.  Remember how I said it’s somehow related to superhero movies?  Well, Scarlett Johansson is that little girl.  Her name in the movie is Grace.  If you want a taste for 13 year old Johansson, watch the movie.  But, someone else from a recent superhero movie happens to be in this movie:  Robert Redford, complete with the obligatory question about milk (seriously expected Sebastian Stan to show up).  And I have to be honest, Redford wasn’t terribly interesting – I mean, he was, but Johansson really peaked my interest.  Thinking of her then and now, it’s just really strange.  I mean, I have to be honest, she didn’t actually change all that much, but it’s like seeing a retrospective work of an actor.  It’s like taking a look into their past without even realizing it.  Honestly, Johansson wasn’t a household name until now.  She is a kid in this movie, and she works with Redford long before The Winter Soldier was even on the table – or any tables.  It sort of gives you insight into her acting style, long before Lucy, Avengers, The Winter Soldier, or any other big name she is known for.  You get to see a kid Scarlett Johansson act.

And all things considered, she wasn’t much different.

She was amazing as a child actor.  I mean, it’s easy to say that now because she became Black Widow, but she is actually very true to herself in this movie.  She is still snarky, witty, etc.  Sure, she doesn’t kick Redford’s ass in this one, but they do semi-battle it out in parts.  And I have to wonder: what was it like for her to work with him so long after a movie like this?  This was made in 1998.  Redford literally saw her grow up.  Considering he directed the movie, he was the one who probably found her in the first place.  And I can’t help but wonder how weird that must have been on the set of The Winter Soldier.  I can’t help but wonder their feelings toward each other or if there’s any other movies they did together (actually, if you know that, please tell me).  Seeing two actors suddenly take such a different stage, while one of those actors is so different, is just really weird to me.  I don’t know why.  It just is.

And for the JP fans following me: Sam Neill is there, too.  He’s Grace’s dad.  He presents himself in his usual calm, cool style with some outbursts.  Sam Neill is a smooth actor, I’ll never say otherwise.  I find his acting style quite mesmerizing.  Probably because whenever I see him, he comes off as someone with a lot of wisdom even if he doesn’t actually have wisdom in the movie.  Even in this movie, he just comes off as the Good Guy because of being level headed during a certain moment (watch the movie).

But let me continue my short summary: Because the horse is traumatized, and her friend is dead, Grace’s mom stalks down (basically literally) and drives several thousand miles to meet The Horse Whisperer (Redford).

So… I need to review from here with no spoilers.

Redford is not entirely different from his Winter Soldier counterpart, by the way.  He comes off as cocky in the beginning.  Overall, I feel like this movie really gave me an insight into some of these actors.  A real, serious insight.

But from this point on, Redford tries to work with the horse, and I feel as though the plot could’ve focused a little more on the horse in the end.  I mean, Pilgrim (the horse) is completely and utterly why they drove that far.  The resolution with Pilgrim appears to happen awfully quickly.  The movie was criticized a bit by horse people (don’t be offended, I am one of them) because of the training techniques used, but, I mean, you could kind of criticize any movie for anything like that.  Star Wars depicts space inaccurately.  Jurassic Park depicts inaccurate dinosaurs (oh, shut up).  The Dark Knight doesn’t represent real jokers.  I mean, hello?  You seeing a theme here?  Yes.  It’s hollywood.  That is what Hollywood does.  If you criticize hollywood that much, you will have a breakdown at what occurs in Bollywood.  I can see criticizing an actual movie with actual animals more than I can understand criticizing Star Wars for lack of space realism – how many friends and family of yours have gone into space?
Exactly.

Simply put, while I can understand why it was criticized *more than other movies*, everyone in the general public needs to remember it’s a movie.  If you have a horse problem, talk to a horse trainer.  Do not listen to Robert Redford, no matter how legit he may look as a cowboy… because he does look legit.  The main point is, someone might actually try to be Robert Redford (Darwinism at it’s finest), but nobody is going to try to turn the International Space Station into the Death Star.  While I don’t generally approve of constant nitpicking for accuracy within movies (see: “Documentaries”), I can see why a little nitpicking might be necessary here: people are stupid.

Aside from the possibility everyone tries to become Robert Redford, the plot itself got a little slow, because as I said, it felt like it didn’t quite focus on the horse as much as it was in the beginning.  It’s also a little bit muddled in it’s morals and the moral messages it’s trying to get through to you.  I haven’t actually quite figured it out yet.  Is it about loyalty?  Is it about not always getting what you want? Is it about being open minded?  I can’t actually figure it out, and the general consensus is actually that the ending sucks, at least within my household (I can’t disagree that much, but the polar opposite you’d just call “predictable” so they lose either way).  The problem with the ending is that they picked such a likeable person for it to be involved with.  It’s genuinely hard to hate the person that is involved with this ending.  The ending actually leaves you morally split.  To me, it’s almost as if it embodies the choices we need to make without owning a horse. You know, your dream job or a secure life type deal.  Overall, yes, the messages are a little bit muddled, but I definitely took that home.

I also took home a few other things: the power of animals, and how quickly people can change.  It’s no secret animals help people heal.  Therapy dogs.  Animals that visit nursing homes.  Dogs that visit cancer hospitals.  Seeing eye dogs (companionship).  I mean, if nothing else, Grace has her horse.  After the accident she is somehow disabled, and bullied for it.  You don’t need to own a horse to be disabled or be bullied.  You don’t need to own a horse to have family tension or a mom who works a lot.  If the messages were a bit more clear, I would say this movie isn’t about a horse at all – but it teeters between a horse movie and a moral movie with a horse in it.  It doesn’t fit either clear cut category.  At times it gets corny, as well.  It sort of speaks to people who watch it through one situation or another. It doesn’t really matter if you have a horse or not – you’ll relate to some situation in this movie.  The morals might be a bit muddled, but the fact is, everyone has something they’re grappling with.  The power of animals completely changes one person.  The characters are fairly developed, certainly, but follow stereotype.  Redford seems cold and distant (and underdeveloped), and the chemistry just isn’t there between he and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

And there’s more that makes you step back a bit.

The shots in this movie make you want to hop in the car and go on a road trip.  I shit you not.  It’s drop dead gorgeous.  It really does the mood of the movie itself justice, especially with the constant heartbreak going on.  It’s just awfully contradicting.

Overall, the movie isn’t terrible but isn’t great.  But if you ever want a movie to see struggle, or see a difficult choice, or just need something human to relate to that is in your face, and feeling like nothing is there for you – hug your dog and watch it.

So, Cap: TFA.   I did a story in the earlier Captain America: The Winter Soldier review, so no story this time.

So basically the premise is – this is Captain America’s origin story.  The Captain introduces us to himself, and he does become the Captain.

Don’t doubt this guy.

We see Cap kick ass.  We see Cap rescue the people nobody wants to.  We see Cap decide he’s not some guy in a Star-Spangled-Spandex-Suit.  We see Cap decide it’s up to him to do his own mission – nobody will help him and people will only stand in his way.  We see him still help the people who stand in his way.  We see him do amazing things – and happily so.  This movie really does Cap’s good nature and past justice.

But really, the entire movie has a very upbeat tone.  Once again, Marvel dazzles us with their usual superhero formula. Marvel pretty much makes everything be sort of the same while being different with their superhero origin stories.  Everyone sort of overcomes some kind of personal challenge.  It was a good way to introduce us to Captain America.  As a once member of the general audience, especially when I first saw this movie, it was a good way to set the stage for The Winter Soldier and also introduce us to Captain America.  Overall, it felt like it was about time we got a serious film about a character that is basically known because he exists.  I mean, it was only fair to assume America would enjoy a movie about a guy named, I don’t know, Captain America.

The movie, unlike a lot of superhero movies, had a very light tone to it.  I mean, we see this scrawny sickly kid trying to get into the army with his best friend urging him to forget it.  I mean, obviously, we know he’s going to get in even if you’re unaware of him being a living science project.  We all know he was in the military even before it needs to be said.  I guess I liked that about it – that it was lighthearted.  Nothing was imminent to blow up, nothing was like really crazy tense and dark.  I guess it was a step back from what we usually see – The Dark Knight was dark, The Winter Soldier was dark, the entire Batman trilogy was dark, and Superman even was dark.  Captain America gave us a break.  If everything is dark, it just eventually get’s old.  It feels like everything is always going to be in ruins.  And I like Captain America for giving us a break.

But sometimes, we get too much of a break.  The plot was decent, especially the juggle between origins and plot.  However, it really felt like it dragged.  I mean, I watched this movie with non-comic book people, and toward the end they just were pleading with me for the movie to end.  While I don’t consider it quite that bad, I think for the time it spent on the screen we could’ve gotten a bigger bang for what we sat through.  It did feel long.  The acting was great, especially Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, and Evans himself – but there were just some parts of it that felt like you were doing the army exercises yourself.  Loooooong.  The movie as a whole could’ve been paced better and I think part of that problem was trying to weave in all the information they were.  They were weaving in a plot, weaving in HYDRA information, weaving in Captain’s origins, weaving in Bucky, weaving in the future of Cap, weaving in Peggy, and so on and so on.  It was a lot to take on.  It felt a little bit jumbled to see all that stuff thrown in, and I think as a result, some things were lacking.

HYDRA.

HYDRA definitely came off more as a threat in The Winter Soldier.  It felt underdeveloped.  Red Skull was semi assumed to just know who he was, same with various other HYDRA officials.  It was just somewhat assumed that we know who they are.  Aside from that, they just didn’t get developed enough as a villain or villains.  A lot of it was Cap’s origin story, and Cap and Peggy.  At least, though, we learn something about them for their big debut in The Winter Soldier.  At least we get a taste of Bucky.  It’s hard to not view this film, solely, as the predecessor to The Winter Soldier.  As a standalone, it’s a little harder to appreciate this film for what it is.  I mean, yes, it’s still a fantastic film, infinitely better than The Amazing Spider-Man ever could have been, but when you do put it in perspective that this was truly the first of the trilogy, you sort of realize why HYDRA itself can’t be terribly developed.  Maybe Red Skull still could have used it, especially since he is such a harsh enemy toward Captain America, but not HYDRA, otherwise thunder would’ve been stolen from the sequel.  I generally like the plot, and the acting.  Out of all the films I’ve seen, I probably love the underdog tone the most in this movie.  It’s not hard to relate to a scrawny kid who can’t live his life’s dream.  I mean, maybe none of us are entering an Insta-Buff (TM) machine, but even so.  How many people do you know can’t do their dream job?  Whether it be illness, location, or just rejection, it’s an easy thing to relate to.

Especially if you happen to be a dermatologist.  You are screwed.

But, perhaps that’s what I love about this movie.

Even after Captain America get’s the Instant Buff treatment, he still is true to the character he was before.  Like, for example, being awkward around women.  He just doesn’t get it, despite the fact in the movie women are throwing themselves at him (the cheating scene).  I’m going to be honest.  I didn’t consider a lot of things memorable about this movie.  I mean in the sense of one liners or particularly really strong scenes.  But the part I will not forget about this movie – ever – is the tension and affection between Steve and Peggy.

I just loved it.

I wish I could explain why, but probably because in movies like The Dark Knight we see a slightly feeble Rachel be taken.  We see a Rachel split between Dent and Batman who obviously hides his identity. Gwen Stacy proves to be just as passive. I just loved seeing how strong of a character Peggy was.  Peggy shot at a super soldier.  And made him cower.

She’s a badass.

She’s the badass I needed in a movie.

And she’s not even a superhero.  She’s a love interest.

I needed that.

I don’t think we need absolute bombardment of women in media to get equality.  And I am a woman.  I don’t think we should make an All-Female version of Avengers (I don’t mean different female Avengers.  I mean a female Iron Man).  We need more like Peggy.  We need more like Black Widow.  We need more like Wonder Woman and Batgirl.  Peggy is totally aware of this whole spandex thing.  She doesn’t hide from it.  She’s so snarky even just when we first meet her.

The dynamics between them, for me, literally made the movie.  And it also made Captain America.  Captain America still managed to seem human despite being a technical superhuman.  Seriously, no other superhero than Captain America is so human.  Everything about him is so down to earth, like his “kid from Brooklyn” line.  Like rescuing the men they wanted to give up on.  I will say it again – Captain America is The Man (TM).

Overall, the music was good, the plot was good, the effects were great, but things needed improvement, especially Red Skull and his development.  Red Skull felt almost childish at some points.  Captain America, though, not only saves the day, but his movie from his villain.  And his relationship saves it too because it’s adorable.

Overall, it’s just a good movie. It’s just one of those movies you just sit and decide to watch because you can.

And where is the fun in anything else?

Godzilla 2014

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , ,

I’ve been thinking for a while which movie to review first, and I was led to Godzilla. This is the start of the blog known as Fictional Planet.  After doing research on criticism, movie reviews and developing my own style I am happy to announce the formal beginning of this blog.  I will be aiming to update it every day or every other day to help readers get a feel for my style and catch up with movies.  I may eventually start updating every week, but that will be once the blog is established.

You know, it’s interesting.  I was never one for Godzilla.  It was only recently I started talking to a die-hard Godzilla fan did I take a second look at the decades-old nuclear-iguana-thing.  For a while he just seemed weird to me because of how awkwardly he moved in the old movies – yes, I know they are old, but it just seemed very awkward to me.  Not that looks are everything (especially in regards to old movies) but it just seemed like nobody ever brought Godzilla into recent times.  It always basically kept me from Godzilla or ever becoming interested in him.  So, you might say this has been my first serious taste of Godzilla.

I think I made him angry.  He’s also yelling “Spoilers ahead.”

But in reality, the movie presented itself a little bit differently than other monster movies I’ve seen mostly because Godzilla was going after the MUTOs. and humans were going after Godzilla just for being a tsunami-causing-nuclear-dinosaurthing.  I’ll admit how he was built up was appropriate, but you know I’m going to say what everyone else did about Godzilla’s humans. They were pretty flat.  I didn’t find them engaging.  And…

More Bryan Cranston.

That’s right.

The son, in my opinion, didn’t do Bryan Cranston’s character literally any justice.  He came off as a pissed off son because his dad seemingly was mentally deranged due to being obsessed with a possibly mythical creature that he linked to killing his wife.  Both of them had more potential to be developed, if you ask me, and Cranston died way too early.  They could’ve actually used Cranston to make various statements about government, secrecy and a host of other topics much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier made various political statements (even though, Captain America is honestly a guy in a suit, fighting other guys in other suits, and some guy with those really cool wings..).
Not to mention, various women were blatantly stereotypical – using the barely-developed wife as a means to get Bryan Cranston’s character utterly obsessed with Godzilla, the son’s wife stereotypically being a nurse (and stereotypically sympathizing with her father-in-law), and the son himself fitting stereotype via his military, “tough guy” attitude, etc.  Overall, to me, I saw a whole lot of stereotypes within the characters.  Even if you argue characters cannot be developed too much because it’s a monster movie, there were stereotypes weaving the character’s cores.  I’m not one for stereotypes, mostly because if stereotype should fit me I should not be watching Godzilla at all.

As I mentioned, the plot was interesting instead of the usual humans VS. monster-thing, but I think that more Godzilla could have been shown at the end of the movie (especially considering, at the time, they weren’t planning a sequel).  Not in the middle of the movie, simply because that just let it build up to the moment Godzilla reached MUTOs and unleashed his real rage.  I actually agree with Godzilla not doing much until the ending of the film, simply because we seem to think animals that are prehistoric (or look that way) or endangered as uncontrolled and uncalculated.  Godzilla was very calculated.  He was like a Komodo Dragon meets a crocodile meets a dinosaur (which are actually truly very smart and evolutionary advantageous) meets fiction and it’s vast possibilities.  He’s smart, cunning, but still an animal.  Of course, humans still stereotypically fear him because we don’t understand him, but that’s more of a statement on nature than stereotype; there were also various obvious statements about how nature balances itself out, and we don’t exactly need to blow everything up to try to “balance it out”.  I also think the ending was incredibly cheesy and a testament to the horribly developed human characters that so wonderfully graced Godzilla’s screen.  (Yeah, it’s sarcasm.)

On the other upside, Godzilla sold me on watching one of his movies.  He looked like an animal and acted like an animal – a smart animal.

It was a while ago I watched the movie, so I may be missing a few things, but these things stood out in my mind.  I’d need to re-watch if I’m going to get everything.