Hey everybody, Sorry for the delay. I was watching the Boston Massacre (Cavs-Celtics) last night and neglected to prep this week’s post. Also, since it's Memorial Day and 84 degrees outside I decided to do a quickie (que Deadpool quip). Who wants to stare at a screen on a day like today? Yeah, I’m talking to you!
Speaking of Deadpool, I had the chance to see the Merc with a Mouth Saturday. If you're still deciding whether to spend your hard earned cash on DP2 or Solo, Deadpool is my recommendation. I heard Solo was a flop. Something I think all of Twitter predicted a year ago. The trailer didn't grab me so I opted for a Date with Mr. Wilson.
Deadpool 2 had a purposefully restricted budget. The Creative team had a falling out and script duties changed hands after some felt that it should be a dig budget movie, others felt it should stick with its roots. Which, let me tell you, was the right decision. Plus despite being a small budget film, in no way did it feel like one. Was it a little CGI heavy at times? Sure, but Wade pointed it out to the audience anyways so basically the writers own up to it.
The humor was on point, I felt like I was watching a 2-hour long Family Guy episode.
Sidebar: Can you imagine Seth McFarlene getting a gig on Deadpool? That would be amazing. Throw in Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for good measure and let's see what happens.
At times, the jokes happened so fast that I missed about 25% of them because I was too busy laughing at the other 75%. Not a single dull moment in the film. Plus, Domino was a BADASS.
My one criticism is the ending of the film. Where honestly…the writers screwed up a very key detail.
SPOILER: CLICK TO EXPAND
In the end, after dying a slow and comical death, Wade finally gets to embrace his girlfriend-whose-name-I-can’t-remember-and-is-to-lazy-to-look-up. Wade gets his closure and the GF tells him that his family still needs him. Touching right?
Then Cable goes back in time to save Wade.
Here’s the problem.
If Cable saved Wade, Wade never dies, meaning he never gets to see his wife and have his closure.
The writers fucked up. And technically Wade should still be depressed and suicidal having not seen his wife.
Cable shoots/saves Wade and he’s ok now? Nah, the writers fucked up.
So in a bid to be moderately sentimental, the ending makes zero sense.
Does anyone care? Probably not, it’s a Deadpool Movie. And a hilarious, entertaining one at that.
Have a great day everyone!
I read somewhere that Joss Whedon told James Gunn that his only criticism of his script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was that it was not "James Gunn" enough. Too often we see that movie studios and outside influences compromise a movie. See Suicide Squad/basically all the DCEU films. Fortunately, James listened to the wise sage that is Whedon and decided to go full force with his movie, how he saw fit. Guardians of the Galaxy, as a result, turned out excellent.
I always stressed it's important that Marvel movies remain fun to watch. I wrote about the Marvel Formula - create all the aspects of a great action-adventure film and add in just the right amount of comic relief to make the film worthwhile. Make scenes dark and gritty and then cut that tension with well-timed joke. Marvel is hitting their stride and James Gunn has it all figured out. I already could tell by simply the trailer.
As the end credits finished rolling, and the screen went to black without a post-credit clip to show for it, my sister looked at me and asked, “Well, what did you think?” I paused, trying to form my words. All I could muster up was “I dunno,” and “I’m pretty tired.” It was 1 AM and I had worked that day. I honestly couldn’t form an opinion, which is bad for the blogging business. Then, after a long night’s sleep and with a clear head, I realized why I was hesitant to say anything.
I'll say it...Logan wasn’t great, but I so desperately wanted it to be. I wrote an earlier post raving about the Logan trailer and how its gritty tale and awesome, unique premise had the potential to finally do the character justice. Hugh Jackman, I think we all agree, perfectly portrays one of the best characters Marvel has to offer. So it only makes sense that you’d want the movie to be a final swan song success. In every movie, the portrayal of Wolverine has been perfect, the story around him — not so much. I think the standalone films have some merit but ultimately crumble at crucial moments (*cough* Deadpool).
The problem I have with this Wolverine standalone is not necessarily the story, but rather the telling of the story. Here’s what I mean. I found the premise of X-23 and the evil testing facility to be great McGuffins (story devices that act as the reason for the story). The setup is fascinating, Charles is suffering from Alzheimer’s, Logan was a storied hero who has removed himself from the public eye. X-Men has disappeared and an evil agency is cloning/developing mutants for war. Great setup right?
Here’s where things go wrong.
[Warning: Spoilers for Rogue One]
Finally, after a hectic holiday season, family in town and a start at a new job I was able to settle down and watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Now you might think that this is a Rogue One review but it’s not. I’ll give my quick take on the movie but then I’m going to talk about something that is far more important to me.
Now having watched Rogue One, I feel that I can safely say that Star Wars is neglecting its greatest asset.
First let me ask you this. What scene was revered as the best scene in Rogue One?
The Darth Vader scene at the end when he boarded the rebel ship.
What character was the most exciting to watch in action?
Chirrut Imwe, the force sensitive monk.
What makes fans literally piss their pants whenever it appears on screen?
Are you tracking with me here?
The one of the greatest thing about the Star Wars franchise is the Jedi and anything Jedi related.
Lightsaber battles, moving objects with the force, the unlimited potential power of the Jedi/Sith. These story elements is without a doubt the coolest things about the franchise. What do kids dress up as for Halloween? Jedi and Sith. Name the best scene from Episode I. How about the Darth Maul “Duel of Fates” Scene. What saved Episodes II and III from being unbearable? The damn Lightsaber battles.
Now of course I know that in no way can a Jedi appear in Rogue One, I get that. But the movie just came out so I’m riding the train of Star Wars related blog posts.
Sidebar: I was extremely curious, however, as to what happened to Ashoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan. How cool would it be if she appeared in Rogue One? Or even better Episodes VII/VIII/IX? Of course this is a fools dream, but one can only hope.
Back to my point…The Jedi Mythos is an essential part of the Star Wars franchise and should not be neglected any longer. The animated show Rebels had the right idea, bringing in Jedi and as a result the show was a hit. I understand that RI and E7 didn’t allow for Jedi elements to come in to play but it is my hope that they really amp it up in the coming episodes. Fans are dying of thirst when it comes to the Jedi/Sith/Force Sensitive. That’s the point I was trying to make earlier. People lost their minds over Imwe and Vader. I want to see some Lightsaber duals!
Now some might argue that Star Wars is not about the Jedi but rather the Rebels. Some argue it’s a franchise about resisting tyranny and good vs. evil. To the people saying that, I disagree. Yes, Rebels and good verses. evil is all well and good, but it can’t be the only thing. Star Wars is so much more. Star Wars is a fascinating world filled with alien creatures, culture clash, mysterious religions and beings of power. I’ve always written that the best stories create a sense of escapism and Star Wars does just that. In addition, the Jedi are so damn fascinating to learn about and to watch.
Just as there is balance in the Force, there needs to be balance in story elements. There needs to be a perfect amount of Rebel resistance and Jedi mythos. The prequels blended Jedi with crappy CGI and space politics. Episode VII pandered to the original Episode IV, copying a lot of its story elements. It was good but it didn’t have a lot of Jedi elements to satisfy my thirst. And of course Rogue One was all about…well the Rogues so no room for Jedi there.
With the coming of Episode VIII the creators finally have a chance to carve away all the bad elements of Star Wars and showcase the good. It’s clear the studio has a good understanding as to how to portray scrappy rebellion facing off against the forces of evil. Now, they just need to infuse the awesome story element that is The Jedi into its storyline. I love the Jedi and I hope to see a freaking Lightsaber in every other scene. If Jedi are truly treated as just ghosts, then I’ll be sorely disappointed.
May the Force be With You.
BONUS: If you’re like me and have been wanting a good Jedi/Sith confrontation, Lightsaber battle and all, I highly recommend this fan made video. It took two years to make and is considered one of the best Star Wars Fan Made films of all time.
I know two non-comics related posts in a row is bound to turn some of you off but I need to say my piece. This post has a spoiler but honestly you won’t care.
The brilliant mind that is J.K. Rowling has blessed the world with what many consider a modern classic: Harry Potter. There are college courses that specifically study Harry Potter. Christian groups have advocated for the banning of the books (for whatever reason). The books have been made into blockbuster movies and Rowling is a household name. Rowling made it, she is sitting on top of the world.
So what does she do?
She milks it.
That’s right. The beloved author who will be discussed in literary textbooks in a hundred years will have to live with an asterisk attached to her name. She could’ve quietly put to rest her series, written other genres and lived out her days as an icon. But no…she had to push the bill.
I did not like Fantastic Beasts and if you read Harry Potter, neither will you. The Harry Potter films were created with a love of magic and the hopes that the viewers will be inspired with a sense of wonder. Fantastic Beast is a film that hopes you’re still attached to that wonder and will spend money on merchandise. Studio money-grab at its finest, the studio chained J.K. to a desk for FIVE total movies. No longer is it about the movie, it’s about box office numbers.
As a result, Rowling churned out some “magic” and it’s pretty bad.
The film has a weak and super confusing storyline, the center being a tortured, creepy foster kid being some sort of demon cloud. The lovable supporting characters were the best thing about the film, which isn’t a good sign for Newt and Tina. The main characters struck me as one-dimensional and underdeveloped. Newt really likes creatures and Tina wants to be a good Auror. That’s literally all I can tell you about them. Think about that. One-Dimensional. This is not a good sign for a studio trying to build a franchise. Yes, the special effects were neat and the creatures were imaginative, but that doesn’t make it a good story.
I think the filmmakers were hoping we would be drawn to the creatures and be awestruck by magic like in Harry Potter. But that’s not why we loved Harry Potter. We loved Harry Potter because he was going through school just like the rest of us (mean teachers, bullies, drama and romance) but with an added mix of mystery and adventure. Plus, Harry had magic, which is why we would rather get lost in his world then deal with our own. Barring magic, Fantastic Beasts had none of this, which is why by the time I was halfway through the film I was bored. You couldn’t invest in the story or relate. Instead of feeling magical escapism, I just wanted to escape that theater.
I love Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, so it saddens me that this movie happened and that I had to write this scathing rant. I hope the studio either pulls the plug (doubt it) or that they pull their act together.
So you just watched Arrival, and now you’re confused. Have no fear, this article explains everything. You can also skip to the spark notes if you don’t want to read the whole article.
Ted Chiang is a renowned sci-fi writer with numerous awards under his belt. Unfortunately, he is unknown outside the sci-fi community. When I heard about Chiang and this new movie (which took Eric Heisserer 6 years to script!) I bought his book The Story of Your Life and Others, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Having read the short story that the movie is based off of, I can comfortably explain what is going on.
First let me preface: this is actually what happens. It’s not like Inception where the filmmakers toss the ending in the air and let you argue online among yourselves. All the puzzle pieces are there, you just gotta put them together.
***SPOILERS HERE ON OUT***
So…what’s going on? The first thing you need to understand is what Louise (Amy Adams) eventually learns through the course of the movie. Time is not linear. That’s what the Heptapods are trying to teach humans. Time happens all at once, simultaneously. That’s why in written form, the inky graphic forms a circle. In that circle, all that needs to be said is said all at once. Throughout the film, the scientist are able to crudely pick out elements of the circle in order to communicate.
Louise described the inky graphic as handwriting a sentence with two hands from the outside in. In order to do this you need to already know the exact words and spaces in order to accomplish a sentence. With the circle everything is said in an instant.
This premise applies to time. Events in time are all happening at once, simultaneously. As you are reading this, you are also celebrating your first birthday and you are also being buried at your funeral.
This explanation of time is similar to Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. Dr. Manhattan, is able to perceive time all at once. When he is on Mars, he says he is also at a carnival and also at a superhero gathering.
Tracking? If not, the takeaway is this. Time/events are happening all at once. Because you perceive events in a circular/non-linear way, you are able to see the “future.” Because the future is happening now. This is how Louise is able to call the Chinese general. The general shared with Louise his private cell number and his wife’s dying words at a party 18 months after the aliens left. Presently, when the Chinese were about to attack, Louise in her attuned state of mind, recalled the phone number from the future to call off the general’s attack.
So Louise saved the day, because she understood the “Universal Language” (term later published in her book dedicated to Hannah). Because she understood the Universal Language, she understood time and thus can see the future.
So what the heck was going on with the daughter Hannah? Aha, this is where the movie is playing tricks on you. The scenes with Hannah are not flashbacks. This is the big twist at the end. Remember, time/events happens simultaneously. Same thing applies to the movie scenes. You could argue that they are flash-forwards. On the linear timeline, after the aliens leave, Louise marries Ian (the physicist) and they have Hannah. In the beginning you just assumed Hannah happened before the aliens because the movie starts with Hannah’s story.
Remember, midway through the movie, Louise’s daughter drew a TV show for school. The TV show featured her mommy and daddy talking to animals (The Aliens). Another scene, the daughter asks for help with a science term, Louise replied “I don’t know, you’re father is the scientist.” That scientist being Ian the physicist.
It’s symbolic that Hannah is named Hannah because that word is a palindrome, meaning it can be spelled forward or backwards and still make sense. The same perception applies to events in time.
So we proved that the daughter (who dies) is born after the aliens leave. So what’s with Ian? What’s so sad about this story is that we learn Ian will divorce Louise upon hearing about Hannah’s deathly disease. Midway through the movie, Hannah is standing by Louise asking about her father. Hannah says he looks at her differently. Louise confesses that she told Ian that she knew Hannah was going to die (I’m paraphrasing). She said “I thought he was ready.”
In the present, just as the aliens are leaving Ian confesses his love to Louise. Louise asks Ian if he knew “the whole book beginning to end” would he go through with it. He gave some bullcrap answer (which doesn’t matter) and then hugs Louise. Once he hugs Louise, she recalls how wonderful it is to hold him and decides to go through with the relationship despite her knowing how it will end. In the future, when she tells Ian about his daughter’s inevitable death, he was not “ready” and leaves her. He was likely upset that Louise knew the future and chose to put him through the pain of losing his daughter anyways.
The weapon that the Heptapods were referring to was the ability to perceive time and “the future.” The giant splash page of circles was their way of saying if you piece their puzzle together, you’ll unlock the keys to their language (and time itself). “1/12” is their way of saying that humanity has to work together in order to piece this puzzle together. Doing so creates a more cooperative earth and advances society. The Heptapods share their secrets of time because they know that they’ll need Earth’s help in the future. When humans do master their findings, they’ll be able to scientifically advance their society and help their alien neighbors.
So to recap, here are the spark notes:
And there you have it. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @comicbookboom.
Ted Chiang is a genius and I highly encourage you to read his works. For starters, Stories of Your Life and Others is a good read with a variety of creative premises and thought-provoking stories.
Till next time, which is now and also already happened…
As the post-credit clip went to black and the film concluded with “Doctor Strange will return” I looked to my good friend Alex and said “well what’d you think?” To my surprise he said he wasn’t crazy about it and that it in fact could’ve been better. I was shocked, were we even watching the same film? He told me he wanted more, that the plot was weak. Again, I disagreed. But then I immediately knew what he meant.
Doctor Strange stuck to the classic Origin format that is tried and true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel Origin Story has been a fixture in the MCU, after all not everyone knows these characters (You’re lying if you claim you knew Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie came out). With the origin story, everyone learns about our hero, how he/she ticks and then said hero takes down a bad guy (the call to action).
The problem now is that the “Origin Story” isn’t enough to satisfy movie viewers. Unless you’re living under a rock you probably have seen an MCU movie by now. If you haven’t: a) I envy you b) why are you reading this blog? Because the MCU is so big now and everyone is invested, we want to see that story grow every time a film comes out. How’s Cap holding up? Where was Thor during Civil War? Marvel has people hooked and reeled in but now for some reason they keep reeling. We want a story that is both a good origin story but also plays a role in the bigger universe.
It’s so ironic that The Ancient One told Strange that he’s been looking at the world through a keyhole…when in fact that’s just what the whole movie is: a tiny keyhole to the greater Cinematic Universe.
Going back to what Alex said about it being a weak plot, I really disagree. The movie set up the origin, presented a call to action, had comic relief, awesome fight scenes, a climax and a resolution. If you were one of those rock people that had never seen a Marvel Movie, you would’ve left fairly satisfied. At the time of this post, critics and audiences rated it at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too shabby.
The effects were amazing and trippy. I can’t imagine that amount of work it took to create such visuals. To coordinate between the graphic studios, director and actors must’ve been tedious. But it was worth it, especially in 3D. I loved the casting graphics, spells glowing in thin air.
Cumberbatch was excellent, a fantastic addition the MCU. I cannot wait to see him interact with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans. Even though the persona of Dr. Strange is that of a pompous arse-hole, and Ben has played those roles numerous times, he succeeded in creating a new character. At no point was I like “hey look it’s Sherlock Holmes!” He played a range of emotions, from a man on top to a guy down on his luck. A know-it-all and a diligent student.
Again, the only criticism I have is that the film should’ve played a bigger role in the MCU. This is why Captain America: Civil War was so successful. It featured a famous story, had a dominating cast, and was uniquely tied to the MCU. It’s no surprise my friend said he wanted more. After Civil War there is a certain expectation that Marvel needs to meet, or fans will leave feeling bummed.
Another possible negative is the ending. Doctor Strange violates the laws of space and time to rescue his comrades and restore the protective seal that stop this ancient destructive being. Dormammu refuses to be sealed so Dr. Strange traps him in a messed up time loop. Eventually, Dormammu cedes Earth and Dr. Strange wins the day. To some, this seems a bit anti-climactic. I would argue that this ending just makes sense. Doctor Strange used his wit and studies (the reason he has powers) to take down an all-powerful being. What, you expected Strange to punch him or throw fireballs? Please.
If you go into the movie knowing that it will only be an origin story, with no surprise appearances, you’ll enjoy it. I know I did. I’ll probably go again just to appreciate all the visual effects that I missed. I hate 3D and normally advise against it but I actually recommend 3D for this film. Marvel stuck to its “origin story format” (whether you like it or not) and churned out another gem.
Excelsior My Friends!