Well, this escalated quickly!
I saw Baby Driver this week, and enjoyed it quite a bit! If I had one complaint, it’s that the second half of the film lacks an incredible choreographed car chase sequence, which is disappointing since that is the movie’s gimmick. The opening action scene sucks you in with one of the coolest movie car chases I’ve seen, but it sets up false promises as well, because it never tops its opening action piece. Still, Baby Driver has plenty of personality, quirky characters, and a tightly scripted plot that’s well paced. It’s easy to sympathize with the lead character, Baby, and his plight to escape the criminal underworld. Even all his criminal cohorts, who are all horrifically awful people, are given sympathetic elements that make them hard to hate. The story flies by despite the movie’s hour and fifty minute run time. Going into an Edgar Wright film, I anticipate a lot of comedy and goofiness, and although Baby Driver has those elements, they’re more on the sidelines. The film is far more interested in tense action, high stakes, and stylish editing. Don’t expect a straight up comedy, but if you’re in the mood for a tense, unique crime thriller, Baby Driver is s good time… It’s also got a fantastic soundtrack. I’d recommend it, even amidst the plethora of worthy summer films filling theaters this month!
OH SNAP! (I couldn’t help myself)
So I finally got to the movie theater and saw Spydermen: Homecomers. It was a GOOD TIME, a top class action comedy! So I’m going to talk about it briefly, and there will be SPOILERS.
I don’t have a lot of problems with Homecoming, in large part because it IS a comedy, which lets it get away with quite a few leaps in logic and sudden scene changes without needing to bog itself down with minutia exposition. So my only real problems with the film feel like nitpicks, and they’re also the kind of problems that make me feel old! But I’ll just cover what I loved before I mention the stuff that let me down a bit.
Firstly, HOLY HECK, the mechanical designs in this movie are so freaking cool. The Vulture flying suit might be the coolest thing I’ve seen in a movie in a while, I definitely got some Metal Gear vibes from it. I also loved the setup for the main villain, it’s a great origin story hook.
Everyone in this film is incredibly likable. RDJ might be sick of playing Stark but he’s still great in the role and every time he shows up I’m smiling like an idiot. All the younger actors in the movie feel genuine. The whole vibe of the movie makes me feel good, which is nice because most of the time nowadays I am the living embodiment of darkness.
The plot has a nice clear flow to it, I didn’t really find myself getting hung up on any particular thing UNTIL… (okay, here comes the stuff that let me down some.)
The final action scene is kinda bad. It takes place at night on a plane with a bunch of flashing holographic panels that were desperately trying to give the movie audience a headache. The scene is so dark and the editing so fast and choppy that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on.
Considering every other action scene up to that point was very readable and well done, I don’t really know what happened here. The stakes for the final scene also feel pretty low. Peter’s basically just trying to stop the Vulture from stealing some crates of weapons, something the Vulture has kind of already done to various degrees, so even though it is an escalation, it doesn’t really feel like one.
The scene preceding it is also Peter’s ‘darkest moment’, I guess, in which a ceiling falls on him and he feels helpless for a few seconds until he remembers he’s super strong and lifts the debris off of him. It just made me shrug my shoulders. I suppose it kind of illustrated that Peter found the will to believe in himself, but, I mean there were probably less ‘meh’ ways to do that.
So then the plane they’re fighting on crashes, and the Vulture punches Peter a few times, then decides to just steal a crate of weapons from the crash site, at which point Peter sees the Vulture’s suit is sparking and looking worse for wear, so he tries to websling the vulture, this time specifically to ‘save him’, by, I guess, grounding the Vulture and then explaining to him his flying suit is about to explode? This was definitely an “I read the script so I know what I’m supposed to do” moment, and not something that followed any sort of logical train of thought. Anyway, the suit explodes, but the bad guy isn’t killed, and Peter pulls him from the wreckage and carries him to a safe distance. Note that’s AFTER the suit explodes, but I guess there were some fires so the bad guy might have burned to death if Peter hadn’t moved him. Still, the fact that he was otherwise okay after his suit exploded seems pretty unlikely and anticlimatic. Then again they did both survive a shockingly destructive plane crash (the plane was being flown on autopilot so no bystanders in danger). Either way, it was a muddled and confusing final encounter, devoid of much tension because very little felt at stake.
I also felt pretty bad for Liz, Peter’s romantic interest in the film. She clearly likes him, and she puts up with a lot of crap from him, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt and goes to the Homecoming dance with him. Unfortunately her dad turns out to be the main bad guy, and then Peter awkwardly clues dad into his own secret identity. Peter then ditches Liz at the dance without providing any real explanation, and goes to stop her dad from stealing the weapons. So he essentially ruins her life both directly and indirectly, but at least he saved her dad! Still, poor Liz’s life is royally mucked up by her dad and Peter, and none of it was her fault. Considering everything works out for pretty much everyone else at the end of the movie, it’s kind of a bum wrap for her!
And lastly (and this is the part that makes me feel old), the film’s pacing is EXHAUSTING. I’ve complained about this in other films before, but it seems a common trend in modern movies. What’s also annoying is that this movie is over two hours long at this rapid pace. I think cutting the film down to an hour and fortyfive minutes would’ve notably improved my viewing experience. Homecoming rarely ever stops to breath and we never hang around in a single location for more than a few minutes at most. Few, if any, shots linger, and the pacing is generally frantic. It still works because this is a comedy film, but I do like a movie to slow down once in a while. Also, the action scene in the Washington Monument and the action scene on the ferry probably could’ve been merged into one big, tension building action scene that really played up a set piece moment and covered all the necessary plot points, instead of wildly jumping from one thing to the next. But I guess that’s just the age of movies we live in now! They have to write those scripts in a month with studio approval so they can get the filming done so they can fix it all in post production, that’s just how it works.
And now I think I have to do the obligatory thing where I decide my favorite Spiderman movie. Considering I haven’t watched any of the Raimi Spiderman films in years, it’s a tough call to make. I’ll admit that I found the first Amazing Spiderman film mostly forgettable, and the second one memorably awful, and the third Raimi Spiderman watchable but not particularly good. The original Raimi film honestly didn’t impress me that much when it came out, but Spiderman 2 was one of the rare comicbook films that made me actually cry, more than once. Spiderman Homecoming made me laugh a lot, but it didn’t punch me in the gut, so I’ll say my favorite is Raimi’s Spiderman 2. Here’s a funny video that explains near the end why Raimi’s Spiderman is better, if only by a little (totally subjective, but it’s an opinion I agree with).
And then Yori ran off, just like that! I hope it’s a good snappy thing!
I watched that very brief Castlevania show on Netflix and I enjoyed the heck out of it! Its biggest problem is that it’s way too brief, and also four episodes should’ve at least been enough to get into Dracula’s castle! But the writing is great, schlocky fun, and the relationship between the obnoxiously snarky Trevor Belmont and hilariously aloof Alucard is ready to blossom into the bromance of the decade.
Also, I played some Splatoon 2 over the weekend. It was a chaotic mess! I’m sure I’ll still buy it when it comes out, because I enjoyed Splatoon 1, but playing this weekend demo I found myself feeling pretty down when I was on the losing side of a match, something I didn’t really feel in the first game. That’s probably because there’s no character progression yet. The best part of playing Splatoon 1 multiplayer was that your character still gained levels even if you were frequently on the losing side. I’m sure that will also be the case for the sequel, but until then, losing is just losing, and it’s no fun!
Cho’s troubles with gender differentiation continue. Or maybe he just recognizes the fluidity of gender, he’s a progressive guy.
There’s a movie I want to see coming out every week this month but I haven’t managed to get to the theater yet! On the other hand, I did discover Gundam Wing is on Hulu, and I started rewatching it. Oh, the nostalgia! Before that show, the badassitude of mechs had never registered to me. It was a life changing experience but i haven’t rewatched it since highschool. I’d kinda forgotten that Heero Yuy’s a complete psychopath!
Fear not, Genchu’s on the case!
Not much to talk about today. There’s a Steam sale going on and I bought this game ICEY that was pretty entertaining (also the soundtrack’s pretty DOPE). It’s like The Stanley Parable and Dust: An Elysian Tail had a baby. Also you can beat it in a day, which is nice in the era of 100 hour games. Anyway, back to intently watching Summer Games Done Quick!
Well, that could’ve gone worse!
I saw that Kong: Skull Island movie in our cheap theater a couple days ago. It was pretty entertaining! potentially better than that Peter Jackson King Kong remake if only because it’s (NO JOKING) under two hours!
I feel like I’ve reached an age where a running time under two hours feels like a major point in a film’s favor. I remember liking the Peter Jackson King Kong film, but it’s a movie my opinion has gradually soured on over the years, especially after the Hobbit trilogy helped illustrate Jackson’s penchant for copious excess filler in his films. Not that Jackson comes anywhere near something as brainless as a M. Bay film, but I do find that too many blockbuster movies tend to put their plots on hold while they throw a bunch of CG effects at you as if you’re paying to watch pretty lights and not a compelling narrative (I acknowledge that anyone who likes the Transformers movies would probably say that’s exactly what they’re paying for).
But Skull Island is a very efficiently told story with a consistent tone that’s established in the first scene and carried through to the end. It incorporates plenty of monster movie tropes with just enough self awareness and creativity to feel neither pandering or over done. The characters all receive just enough history and personality for you to feel invested in their survival. John C. Reilly is the highlight here, but everyone’s pulling their weight to some degree. That’s not to say there aren’t plot holes, OH THERE ARE PLOT HOLES. But it’s kind of easy to forgive the film for them because it’s so earnest in the monster story it wants to tell. Honestly, Kong: Skull Island is an easy movie to recommend. I’m not sure how many people actually went to see it when it hit theaters, but if you like monster movies, or at least the idea of monster movies, you could do a lot worse than this.
The WEIRDEST part of the film is actually the knowledge that it is a sequel (well, prequel, I guess, since it’s set in 1974) to the 2014 Godzilla movie. It’s yet another CINEMATIC UNIVERSE that will eventually pit Godzilla against King Kong. The thing is that Skull Island and Godzilla 2014 in no way feel like they exist in the same universe! Still, better than this Dark Cinematic Universe that The Mummy is starting (no, I haven’t seen that, and I have no intention to do so)!
Rules to live by:
-If some mysterious swordsman says he doesn’t want to fight you, DON’T FIGHT HIM!
I saw these combat videos from this MMO Black Desert Online, and I was like “that looks super rad, I want to play that!” So I downloaded the 50 GB(!) game and logged in to the 7 day free trial. After about an hour I was like “Oh wait, this is still an MMO!” and uninstalled it. MMOs are basically another language that you have to learn over the course of months or years, and they rarely ever ease you into it. There’s all this extracurricular study and trial and error involved before the myriad of game systems and inventory/stat management windows even start to click. Also, I generally avoid other human beings so I’m not quick to jump into chat and reveal my noobness to other players. Oh well, I guess if I want intense horde slaying action, I can pick up Hyrule Warriors again, or wait for Fire Emblem Warriors (although it will not look as pretty as BDO).
Also, Loose Canon, by Lindsay Ellis, is a great youtube series, and here’s the first three parts of an academic critical breakdown of the Michael Bay Transformers films, which is significantly more engaging than the movies themselves (granted, that’s a very low bar to surpass, but still…).
Hey, it’s those guys! The assassin guys! Well, ‘attempted assassin’ guys, I guess? Yori’s still breathing, last I checked.
Hey, we saw Wonder Woman! It was PRETTY OKAY! Was it 93% on Rotten Tomatoes okay? Nooooo, it wasn’t THAT okay. Overall, though, the DC movies have set the bar so low, that almost any half competent film would likely get praised. Wonder Woman’s got a lot of heart, and I did feel some actual human emotions at the correctly intended places. So it’s probably worth seeing if you like superhero movies (and who doesn’t amirite?). Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of things we liked and didn’t like. I realize the “didn’t like” like is is a lot longer than the “like” list, but that’s because I’m super nitpicky about my problems with the film while feeling generally good about it over all (SPOILERS of varying degrees ahead).
Things we liked:
- The humor. There was good humor, good character banter. I laughed a lot, which allows me to forgive a movie many other faults!
- The costumes. They were cool. The WW1 uniforms, the amazon warrior armor. Good stuff.
- The trench charge. I like it when superheroes do super heroic things, FEELS GOOD.
- The bad guy twist. I didn’t see it coming! (Joe probably did, he always figures that stuff out)
Things we questioned:
- The soundtrack. I’m not a fan of that wailing Wonder Woman theme. and it’s the only memorable piece of music in the film. It doesn’t even seem to represent the character in tone, so I don’t know why they kept it around after Batman v Superman.
- Mustard gas could already dissolve gas masks (I’m told), the only reason it wasn’t used more during the great war was because it affected both sides equally.
- Adding a hydrogen element to mustard gas doesn’t necessarily make it flammable (according to Joe. Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood that, Joe!)
- If the plane Steven Trevor hijacked was originally going to fly to London to bomb it with Mustard Gas Level 2, he could’ve ditched the plane in the English Straight and swam to safety, instead of heroically blowing himself up.
- Does every guy named Steve have to steal a big silly German plane so he can heroically self sacrifice?
- The tank that Diana picks up to crush Doctor Poison with is a British model tank (I’m told). What it was doing on a German base in occupied Belgium is anyone’s guess!
- Did Diana end WWI in the DC movie universe? She blows up the bad guy and suddenly in the next scene there’s a big celebration like the war is over. How much time passed? Maybe they signed the Treaty of Versailles somewhere in between scene changes.
- The movie’s too desaturated. Gimme more color! A lot of the finale takes place at night and it’s really drab and boring cinematography.
- The kilt wearing Sniper guy gets a bunch of characterization like he’s going to have this character arc that never happens. Hrm. Not the only plot thread left hanging, either. No backstory for Doctor Poison?
- Bad guy Ares had a mustache and looked like an old British dude even when he was the God of War at the height of his power?? What a fascinatingly anachronistic fashion sense he had!
- How much time is passing on Themyscira? Like there are no children, just a bunch of women who…don’t age? But Diana does age, but over a long period of time? Or not? How old is she, exactly? Does she just age normally and then live forever afterward?
- Diana proclaims “I BELIEVE IN LOVE!” and then blasts a hole in the bad guy’s stomach, murdering him with horrific violence. FELT A LITTLE CONTRADICTORY.
Samurai dude: I’m getting some really conflicting messages from my supervisors!
Samurai Jack is over!!! In the end, the truncated final season wasn’t all I’d hoped it to be. It starts strong, with a hyper intense first three episodes, but after that everything slows down significantly, and near the end there’s some not-so-great damsel in distress tropes. Ashi’s story arc could have been less cringe worthy, I think. The final episode is mostly a good time, although it likely could’ve benefited from being two episodes instead of one crammed with so many truncated story beats.
The ending is oddly bitter sweet and a little bit of a downer. I feel like Samurai Jack’s always been a positive, upbeat series, and if anyone deserved a solidly happy ending, it was Jack. Yet the show picks the worst time to finally acknowledge the problem with saving a future that Jack will eventually negate by defeating Aku in the past.
Also, no reference to The Guardian episode? I am disappoint.
In other animated news, I’m so into Attack on Titan season 2. Being only a 12 episode season has greatly improved the show’s pacing, not to mention that season 2 is covering some of the best material from the manga. That new opening is just stuck in my head. I have one big complaint, and this is aimed at the manga, too. When Eren is presented with opportunities to ask very basic and commonly asked questions such as “What are the Titans?” or “Who is the group manipulating the Titans and why?” to people who may actually have answers, he DOES NOT ASK THOSE QUESTIONS. “Why do Titans want to eat people only?” “Where do Titans come from?” These are questions that literally everyone in the world of Attack on Titan thinks about on a daily basis! EREN, IF YOU MEET SOMEONE WHO MIGHT KNOW, ASK THOSE QUESTIONS!!!
Here it is, page 700! Not that numbers matter since we’ve renumbered the archive after reformatting some of the old pages.
Did everyone enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy 2? I forgot to even talk about it last time, it left THAT BIG AN IMPRESSION on me. Not that it was bad, mind you, it was fine. I laughed a bunch. But I kept asking my companions “what is the plot of this movie??” Seriously, it’s just a bunch of unanswered plot threads from the first film all coming together from different directions and tying themselves in a big, fat knot right at the end. And that’s okay, there’s no problem with that kind of storytelling, but it did result in the movie feeling like it was meandering a bit. Maybe if they’d introduced a ticking clock trope at the start to add some tension to the whole thing, that would’ve moved the plot along faster. I don’t even understand why Quill, Gamora, and Drax just left Rocket, Groot, and robot girl on the one planet to go have a good time with Ego. Like, why even break up the group? Was there any reason not to just stay on the planet until the ship was fixed and then follow Ego? Or leave with Ego and come back with parts and tools to fix the ship faster? But whatever, it’s fine, it’s a MARVEL MOVIE! As long as there are plenty of silly quips and great character banter all is forgiven, even when you have a stupid, overly long final fight scene full of nonsense physics that suck all tension out of the scene and leave the audience with nothing but bright flashy CG imagery to gorge on for what feels like half an hour (I have no idea how long the final fight scene was, but it was too long).
Did anyone else just assume we’d see Groot grow from a child to an adult during the course of the movie and in the final scene he’d suddenly bust through a wall or something fully grown and save Rocket at the last second from a bad guy? Man, I totally thought that was gonna happen but, nope, baby Groot, all the way.
Will we ever get a stand alone Yondu movie now??