Eijiro, you kept a LIT MATCHLOCK RIFLE IN YOUR TROUSERS?? Come on, kid, I know you’re just learning about guns, but you’re gonna shoot your butt off! Or set your pants on fire. But, I suppose how else are you gonna pull off a badass surprise quick draw?
Movies are incredible, if you really sit back and look at them. I mean Infinity War is like this marvel (pun intended) of cinema movie magic, a near perfect merging of effects, acting, and narrative, that delivers one of the most intense, if not THE most intense, comic book movie experiences to date. I barely even had a moment to breath in the movie, and maybe that’s a criticism of it (it was so intense, I don’t have a lot of drive to see it again very soon), but that’s also an acknowledgement of how well realized this cinema universe has become, and how much I feel invested in it. I loved all the character banter, and almost laughed myself to tears on multiple occasions, while at the same time getting emotionally kicked in the gut! As an experience, Infinity War may be top of its class. As a film, I think it’s solid with some problems, and I’m going to talk about them a bit, so SPOILERS BELOW.
The movie starts out with Thor’s worst day ever, and that’s coming off what had JUST BEEN his worst day ever in Ragnarok. The death of basically everyone from his franchise films immediately set off alarm bells in my head that I’d be seeing other major character deaths in the movie, as well as the high likelyhood that the sequel film will rewind time/merge realities in a way that brings back those who died. I don’t think anyone who’s seen the movie would disagree with this.
But that’s all standard comicbook fare, and who would be disappointed if they bring back T’Challa or Peter Parker and the myriad of other fan favorites who got wiped from existence? I DO think that maybe killing several liked/loved characters in the opening scene (as well as literally all remaining Asgardians) tipped their hand perhaps too early that we were seeing a worst-timeline scenario with an inevitable reset waiting at the end. I’m not sure if this is really a criticism, though. I did (partly) check out emotionally because the movie was clearly setting itself up for a lot of shocking character deaths so early on. But I also have to assume most of the movie-going audience was eager to be rocked by this kind of drama, and it’s essentially the whole schtick of the film, so I can’t really knock Infinity War for being what it intended to be, especially when it did so on such a grand, operatic scale.
But OH MAN THANOS, DUDE, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM. The movie tries really hard to make him a sympathetic or relatable badguy, but he’s a moron and there’s no getting around it. He has the literal power of creation, he can do ANYTHING, he can turn the entire universe into literal paradise, and what does he do? Kills half of all sentient life. Why? Because…resources? He could’ve snapped his finger and created infinite resources. He could’ve made half the population infertile, if population overgrowth was such a problem. He could’ve given free healthcare to everyone, he could’ve made it impossible for politicians to lie, he could’ve fixed the plot holes in The Last Jedi, BUT WHAT DOES HE DO? He wipes out half of all sentient life and goes “Yay, I saved the universe!” What’s even dumber about this is that it’s not a permanent fix, the universe will eventually repopulate and then, in another two thousand years (give or take a century), he’ll have to do it all again! What a dope. And what a dope that none of the good guys even tried to suggest to him that there were other options (not that he’d listen I’ll give Thanos that he was highly self motivated and goal focused).
In truth, I kept expecting a twist with Thanos’ plan. I expected him to do something with the Infinity Gauntlet that only someone with the power of creation could do, something otherwise totally impossible. But wanton genocide hardly requires a metal glove decked out in rainbow jewelry. It just helps the process along a lot faster. On top of that, Thanos seemed to think the autocratic governments he put in place on his conquered worlds were great at bringing peace and order, but those governments came AFTER the planetary genocides he’d committed. Why, when he snapped his fingers, did he not set up Thanos-controlled autocratic governments on all worlds as well? Why ONLY the genocide? But whatever I guess Thanos is just crazy the end!
Also, this movie had a lot of choking in it. The first five minutes in I was like “Man, lotta guys gettin’ choked in this film”, and the rest of the movie was like “Hold my beer.”
I think Nataku is less interested in keeping Eijiro safe and more interested in not having some snot nosed brat get in the way of his glorious bloody sword fight.
I started reading My Hero Academia, and watched the first episode of the anime. It’s entertaining! Hopefully it doesn’t devolved into shounen battle fatigue.
I also read the colorized version of the Scott Pilgrim comic series, and laughing hysterically all the way through. I love the movie, but never read the comics that inspired it, and, unsurprisingly, they’re great! I wanted to rewatch the movie after I finished, and would you believe Scott Pilgrim isn’t available to stream on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Video? I just ended up buying it since I love that movie anyway, but just goes to show how random and unreliable all these subscription streaming services can be sometimes.
I’m trying to catch up on the Marvel Star Wars comics, as they’re probably the best part of the new EU, and a joy to read. I didn’t think you could acknowledge the prequels and still make Darth Vader a badass , but SOMEHOW the Marvel comics manage it. The Luke and Han bromance is also quite glorious.
I also saw READY PLAYER ONE. It’s not… terrible? It’s an extraordinarily middle of the road movie, a standard “find the macguffin” adventure with no surprising twists and a lot of tired cliches. The movie’s only notable for the many pop culture references, most of which I’m sure the 71 year old director asked his production team to add since I doubt he’d recognize most of them. The last line in the movie also hilariously ruins the whole story.
SPOILERS: So in the very last scene, we see the main character making out with his girlfriend on a couch, while he casually states in a voice-over about how he now controls the Oasis, and has just decided to shut it down every Tuesday and Thursday, to encourage everyone to unplug once in a while and go outside. This is basically the height of old man patronizing bull. “These dang kids should stop playing so many video games! Go outside and make out and play sports!” But what about people who work weird hours or multiple jobs and only have time to relax on Tuesdays and Thursdays? What if infirmed or crippled people rely on the Oasis to communicate? What about other functions of the Oasis that aren’t just related to ‘having a good time’ and are relied upon by others in need? What about economic systems based around a functioning Oasis? The legal consequences of shutting it off just to impose a ‘start living your life the way I think you should’ mandate seems overwhelming.
But the biggest reason this whole ‘shut down’ idea is such a middle finger to the story and the audience is that the main character earlier in the film gave a rousing speech to rally all Oasis users to unite and fight the tyranny of the evil IOI corporation that wants to own the Oasis and…make it more corporate than it already is, I guess. Anyway, his rousing speech works, and people unite to fight for the virtual world that they love. One would think those same users would be none too happy to have the guy who rallied them get control of the Oasis and then decided to just arbitrarily shut it off for 48 hours a week.
You’d think the whole point of Ready Player One would be to sell the idea it’s okay to be an introverted nerd, or that some people who struggle to socialize in the real world find themselves able to connect to others more openly online. But in the end, the movie is happy to renounce the internet as something that everyone absolutely should shut off and step away from at least twice a week because that’s what the old man who made this movie thinks. (PS. I love Steven Spielberg and think he’s one of the greatest directors in cinema history, but, ugh, this story was out of his wheelhouse)
PSA – NO UPDATE THIS WEEK (4/23/18)
We apologize for the interruption of your regularly scheduled comic. There was a wrench in the page production pipeline in the form of life related issues. Regular updates will resume next Monday (4/30/18) , in the mean time, go see Infinity War, it’s apparently the greatest movie ever made! Or play God of War, it’s apparently the greatest game ever made! (Both claims have been made based entirely on internet reviews)
Oh, those silly bandit kids and their heroic antics!
I subscribed to Crunchy Roll when I found out a remake of Legend of the Galactic Heroes was airing weekly, created by Production IG with a soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano. Joe and I are big fans of the old anime, and consider it easily the best space opera series told through animation to date. Over the last couple of years, the book series that the original anime was based on has also been getting English translations and is totally worth the time. If you can get over the incredibly corny title (which sounds WAY cooler in Japanese), it’s worth checking out! Unfortunately there’s still no way to actually watch the original series legally (its entire 110 episode run used to be fansubbed on youtube, as well as three movies and a 50 episode prequel series), but hopefully there will be enough interest with a new series that the old will eventually get licensed by, I dunno Funimation, and we can finally get some high quality versions available.
As of two episodes in, the remake looks great visually, but is a little less subtle in its plotting, and lacks some of the characterization of the original (and as much as I love Sawano as a composer, I do miss the epic use of classical compositions as background music). But hot dang, I do love a good scifi space opera, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes is about as quality as the genre gets!
PS. I’m totally aware that you can watch shows on Crunchyroll for free, but the ads suck, and the low quality sucks, and I wanna watch this show on my TV in as high a quality as I can get!
Clash of the jerks!
Okay, NOBODY PANIC, there’s a new Star Wars trailer. I’M NOT PANICKING YOU’RE PANICKING! I am absolutely keeping my expectations within limits! Wait, I’m hyperventilating, give me a second…breath…breath… Okay, I think I’m going to be fine. We’re all fine here, now. How are you? Anyway, I’m gonna go purchase my ticket to get on the Hype Train, I’ll see you later! *runs off frantically into the distance*
But, really, this is, like, the first Star Wars movie that’s not specifically about Rebels fighting the Empire or Jedi fighting the Sith. I’m supre jazzed for that! Also, clearly the Millennium Falcon is brand new when it’s introduced in this movie, thus laying to rest the old EU idea that the Falcon is like a hundred years old. You see, Lucas threw in an Easter Egg showing the Falcon landing on a platform in Revenge of the Sith, and later an old EU novel covered the history of the ship, explaining that it had been built and destroyed and rebuilt and handed off from owner to owner a half dozen times, and it wasn’t exactly new in RotS either. Personally, I found that pretty silly. Can’t it just be some ship?
Queue the dramatic fire. Curse this flammable turf!
I watched this great Lindsay Ellis video on the Hobbit films, and now I really want to go rewatched LotR (and travel to New Zealand).
I also watched X-Men Apocalypse over the weekend, and it’s kind of unintentionally hilarious? I mean, let’s just not even go into the myriad of continuity gaffes which are essentially a feature of the franchise at this point. Firstly, I watched it with someone who has zero knowledge of the X-men films, so trying to explain what was going on was a real trip, this is not a standalone film in the slightest. And secondly, how many times can Magneto go from wanting to wipe out all humanity to wanting to give them a chance? I think it happens every movie he’s in. And also, is the plot of every X-Men movie basically either a mutant wanting to wipe out/enslave all of humanity or a human wanting to wipe out/enslave all mutants? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. So what I’m saying here is that the X-men movies are super tired and repetitive, outside of Logan, which I love dearly (even if he does get killed by a tree). But it’s all a moot point now that Disney owns the X-men, I guess!
Also, wow, there are a lot of blue X-men, aren’t there? Beast, Mystique, Nightcrawler, they’re all on a plane together and yet not a single gag about how they’re all blue. Missed opportunity!
No horses were harmed in the drawing of this comic. Well, cartoon horses were harmed, I guess.
I saw Annihilation, and it’s a bit of a head trip. If you can find it in theaters, it’s absolutely worth it if you like cerebral scifi and don’t mind a dab of body horror/gore. Although the movie’s rather vague as to the actual concrete facts of what the heck is going on, which led me to question quite a few plot points. But it’s hard to call out plot holes because the story’s open ended enough that it’s easy to surmise potential counterpoints to plug any holes. The visuals are unique and it’s not a common scifi premise, which is refreshing. Also, it stars Padme Amidala and Poe Dameron, how weird is that?
I also finally watched the third live action Kenshin movie, as I had the trilogy on bluray from before the big Watsuki scandal. It’s kind of a frustrating film, because it’s eschews from the original story in quite a few places that don’t really help it dramatically. Also some of my favorite story beats from the Kyoto arc are excised completely, namely the entirety of the defense of the Aoiya Inn. If that sequence had been included, it would’ve given a chance for the lesser Juppongatana to be in the film, as well as given Yahiko and Kaoru something to do, as they literally just stand behind a fence during the big fight scenes and serve no purpose in the story at all. There’s a span of time spent on Kenshin being hunted as a fugitive, and going back to Tokyo to meet with Megumi for no good reason, which all could’ve been time spent with Kaoru and Yahiko at the Aoiya Inn, it’s a bummer.
The final fight with Shishio also turns into an unfortunately comical brawl, with Shishio fighting Sano, Kenshin, Saito, and Aoishi all at once. If they’d just cut that out and followed the structure of the fight in the manga, with Kenshin incapacitated and the others just stalling for time until he could recover, it would’ve worked much better. I still enjoy the live action films thanks to great casting, cinematography, and fight choreography, but they fall frustratingly short of greatness due to some weird tonal shifts, too eclectic soundtrack, and frustrating story decisions.
Who dat? In da smoke, who is dat? Oh…
I’ve been playing this game A Ghost of a Tale on Steam, and it’s pretty rad. I actually got it quite a while ago when it was in early access, but now it’s officially released, and, boy, it hits all the right nostalgia notes for an earnest anthropomorphic medieval adventure. The game was almost entirely created by one person, Lionel Gallat, a DreamWorks animator. It’s also an artistically beautiful looking game, but, being a one person production, it’s got some jank. I’ve fallen through the ground at least once, and the game has crashed on me three separate times. It’s still kind of hard to not recommend to any stealth/adventure game fans, though, because it’s delightful, and I’m sure it will continue to received patches.
I’ve also played some Subnautica, which is a game I really want to love, except I mostly find myself aimlessly wandering around the ocean floor trying to figure what to do next. I may cave and just start watching youtube guides, but figuring out what to do next literally IS the point of the game, so maybe that would cheapen the experience. Then again, it’s crazy time consuming and frustrating, so maybe cheapening the experience a little isn’t such a bad idea…
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
It’s been busy times, I haven’t finished consuming any new media to talk about! I’m slowly watching the newest episodes of Voltron, a show that’s beautifully animated but often narratively bland. I’m debating watching season 4 of Star Wars Rebels after feeling burned by a rather dull season 3 (well, more like a debate of when I’ll watch it. I mean it’s Star Wars so of course I’ll watch it eventually because I am a whipped dog).
I’m wrapping up Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer novel, which is great and his Stormlight Archive series is pretty much my favorite of his many series.
I’ve also been playing through A Night in the Woods, and the writing is so damn GOOD. I love this game. For anyone looking for a story driven adventure game about disaffected 20 somethings living in a small town, with some weird supernatural stuff here and there, I can’t recommend it enough. If you like Life is Strange, you’ll almost certainly like A Night in the Woods.
Good thing black power is so highly combustible! Amirite? Eh, EH?? (please don’t wiki the combustibility of black powder)
SPOILER FREE feelings on Black Panther incoming! (or at least veeeery light spoilers, nothing that wasn’t in trailers)
I’m writing this after just getting back from seeing Black Panther, and I’m still kind of shaking with energy, it’s SO DAMN GOOD. First thing I did when I got home was purchase the film’s musical score on iTunes, because it’s SO DAMN GOOD. I think the music may be contributing heavily to why I love this movie so much, as well as the super slick costume and set design work. But that’s not to say the narrative itself is bad, in fact it may be one of the most (if not THE MOST) rock solid stories to be featured in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date, with clear character arcs and motivations, and well realized and contemporary themes. The cast is extremely likable, with great chemistry all around (although, to be fair, this is true for pretty much all MCU films, always top notch casting). There’s also a refreshing reduction of Joss Whedon-style snarkiness. There’s a good bit of humor, but there aren’t any jokes robbing the emotional and dramatic scenes of their impact. I can only HOPE to get a new Star Wars films that’s daring enough to try this.
But most MCU films tend to let their soundtracks bleed into the background. Black Panther lets its score dictate the operatic drama of the story, a very old school mentality that I alway welcome! The events that play out feel grandiose, and it’s very easy to feel the weight of what’s at stake. Where the vast number of Superhero movies involve a specific doomsday weapon or monster, Black Panther’s threat is more the potential for a destabilizing world leader with vast military power and a fanatical drive to use it, a scenario which is all too relatable. The main villain is also not unjustified in his goals, although his abrasive personality and willingness to sacrifice allies makes him hard to side with from an audience’s perspective.
The only criticisms I have are very minor. I’d have liked to see a few more humanizing moments for Kilmonger to pump up the tragedy of the conflict between him and King T’Challa (not that it isn’t plenty tragic as is). There are also a lot of cartoony looking bits where CG’d characters get thrown twenty or thirty feet through the air and it only knocks the breath out of them. It’s a bit immersion breaking, but by now I just kind of accept it in movies. Also, the couple of fight scenes that take place at night ranged from hard to follow to very hard to follow, although that could have been the lighting in my theater. The scenes might be more visible once I’m watching it on my TV at home. This is some minor stuff. Overall, I was completely engrossed in Black Panther, and would highly recommend it to pretty much anyone, it’s an all around top notch crowd pleaser.
I’m not sure where it lands in my MCU movie ranking. I haven’t rewatched The Avengers in a long time, but I tend to tout that as my favorite, with Winter Soldier just below it. Black Panther may tie Winter Soldier for me, although, dang, I really love hellicarriers (and Cap)! Also Black Panther is a stronger stand alone story, with a fantastic conclusion and epilogue while Winter Soldier is more of an Empire Strikes Back style to be continued. Either way, I’m now very excited for Infinity War.
ONLY ONE SHOT LEFT? Gotta make it count!
While on vacation, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I subjected myself to the live action Ghost in the Shell movie. It was freely available, so I figured why not see how badly they butchered my favorite anime? The answer is ‘excruciatingly badly’. I could probably write several pages on how antithetical the Paramount Pictures film is to the manga/movies/anime it’s supposedly basing itself on, but I don’t got time for that right now, so I’ll just make a list (my favorite!). SPOILERS AHEAD BUT WHO CARES THIS MOVIE IS TERRIBLE:
Section 9 is apparently under the financial control of a for-profit robotics company that is run by an evil man. At no point in the movie (that I recall) are we told that Section 9 is Public Security, although Aramaki does state he answers only to the Prime Minister. In the GitS animated film, Motoko is basically stuck working for Section 9 because her military grade cyborg body is owned and maintained by the government. She does not directly rely on a for-profit corporation to maintain her body. Nor is Section 9 funded by a third party entity, they simply received funding allotted in a government budget, which allows them to pursue legal cases impartially (or at least that’s the ideal).
Chief Aramaki is played by Beat Takeshi, who, although being a well known Japanese actor, doesn’t seem to be able to speak English (that is not meant as a criticism towards him). All his dialog is in Japanese, while everyone around him clearly understands him but answers all his questions in English. I just think this is an odd film making decision. They could have easily included some automated translation technology. I would normally just assume everyone’s cyberbrains where auto translating, but no one has cyberbrains in this version of GitS, it seems.
Batou has human eyes at the start of the movie, and then loses them and gets his characteristic cyborg eyes. They look awful. Also Batou is mostly human in the live action film, as The Major is explicitly stated to be the first person to be successfully fully cyborgized with only a human brain remaining. In every other version of Ghost in the Shell, Batou and Motoko are mostly cyborg. Making The Major ‘the first fully cyborg body’ removes much of what makes the GitS world fascinating and unique, as this is now new technology and not tech that has been fully integrated into our society.
The world of live action GitS is cartoonishly garish and ugly. There are silly hologram ads everywhere, many of which are building sized. It’s clearly more interested in looking like Bladerunner than like GitS, but Blade Runner’s world feels far more believable in its holographic advertising. Most of the ads in live action GitS don’t even seem to have any text or explanation of what they’re advertising. Also there are brightly colored neon lights in every corner of every building and it’s just weird and ugly.
The plot is a generic ‘amnesiac super soldier goes against orders from her morally dubious handlers to discover her mysterious past’. It’s pretty obvious where it’s going, and none of the twists are very shocking. She just finds out she was some Japanese girl that the evil robotics company kidnapped so they could have more human guinea pigs to experiment on, and suppressed her memory.
Oh yeah, she’s a Japanese girl who was put into Scarlett Johansson’s body. Like, it’s the most controversial thing about the movie, and for good reason. There are plenty of struggling Asian American actors who can’t find high profile, non-stereotyping roles, and along comes an American studio film about a highly competent, professional Japanese woman who’s respected by her peers, and they cast Johansson. Pretty shitty thing to do, but who’s gonna see this garbage if it doesn’t star a known quantity, right?? Oh yeah, there’s even a second prominent character who is also a Japanese person put into a white person’s body. Stay classy, Paramount Pictures.
Every member of Section 9 in live action GitS is happy to murder/execute suspects who have already been incapacitated. Every member seems to think of themselves as Judge Dredd, with no interest in due process. Compared to the great lengths the animated Section 9 members go to to keep suspects alive and build up evidence for legal cases, live action Section 9 is a hilariously incompetent team. Essentially every problem in live action GitS is solved with a gun, while there are plenty of episode in Stand Alone Complex where no one even fires a shot BUT HOW CAN YOU KEEP AN AUDIENCE’S ATTENTION IF NO ONE’S GETTING SHOT BY THE GOOD GUYS??
There are several scenes from the original GitS film that have been sort of hacked up and pasted into live action GitS. These are the most infuriating parts of the movie because they make less sense than the rest. The garbage truck man from the original manga and film still gets his memory hacked to make him think he has a kid and ex-wife. In the original story the false memories gave him motivation to commit a crime setting up communication relays through public phones. In the live action movie version, there is literally no reason for his memory to have been hacked, as the man antagonist (up to this point) hacks him into some sort of gun toting berserker who tries to shoot up the good guys with ZERO provocation (why is this garbage man so heavily armed and where did he get these guns??). He’s probably the only suspect Section 9 bothers to take into custody instead of just executing with a shot to the head, all so they can have the classic interrogation scene where he realizes his memories of his family aren’t real. What’s REALLY bizarre about this scene is that they have him in some sort of retraining contraption that allows him to strangle himself TO DEATH instantly after he becomes distraught that he has no real daughter.
On top of that, none of this serves any purpose in the context of the live action film, as Motoko only questions her own memories after the super-hacker Section 9 is chasing explicitly tells her that the evil robotics corporation is lying to her. Why have the interrogation scene with the garbage man if it does not lead Motoko to question her own memories, or even philosophize about how much of us as individuals are tied to our past experiences, as she does in the original film? It’s like some executive watched the animated film, and said “we need to put this scene, this scene, and this scene in the movie, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it!” And so they did it, even though it added nothing to the film’s own story or these versions of the characters.
Also, live action Major is literally only a full cyborg for ONE YEAR, apparently spending nearly all of that time working for Section 9, implying she immediately went from being just some random kidnapped girl to being an impossibly amazing super soldier who can leap into a gunfight against a dozen armed people and come out almost completely unharmed. In the GitS anime, Motoko Kusanagi has been a full cyborg body user since her preteens, and we’re specifically told that it took her a long time to become as competent as she has, through good, old fashioned, hard work. Also, she never leaps into a massive gun fight of her own free will without a clear strategy as that would be insanely stupid.
In the original GitS film, there’s some pervy Japanese kink to Motoko’s optical camo as she basically gets naked when she uses it. The anime series discarded that concept for much more practical tactical armor with built in optic camo, which is totally fine. But the live action movie makers felt they wanted to preserve the ‘strip naked’ aspect of the camo, while also being a PG13 film. So what we get is The Major’s cyborg body being not anatomically correct, and looking more like a snug fitting body suit. I’m definitely not saying we needed a naked lady jumping off rooftops, but what we get in this movie is hardly titillating, so why not go the route of the anime series and just give her the full body armor? She wears it through most of the movie’s action scenes anyway.
And now I’ve written way more than I intended even though I said I didn’t have time! Oh well, I guess it was inevitable that I wouldn’t be able to hold back my frustration (And truth is there’s still quite a bit more I want to rant on about this dumb movie).
I also re-watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (a much better movie co-starring Scarlett Johansson), and MAN, I forgot how much I like it! It’s probably still my second fav Marvel movie after The Avengers.