Feet! Is this the end of the Demons of Sorrow??
How bout that Solo: A Star Wars Story? Despite apparent disappointment at the box office, and a lot of C+ rating reviews, I actually thought it was a pretty good time! SPOILER talk below.
I just want to go through my positives checklist:
I loved the set up for Han’s game with Lando that won him the Falcon.
I really enjoyed any scene with Lando.
I liked how Han met Chewie.
I liked the Kessel Run sequence, but I think mostly because it referenced the rebel theme and asteroid field chase music from the original trilogy a bunch.
I liked the handling of Han’s origins in general, it didn’t feel as pandering as I’d expected.
I liked that it was mostly a goofy sort of movie, although I wonder if it would’ve been better if it had presented a darker sense of humor, and played up a bit more grittiness.
I thought the acting was good across the board.
Yeah, really, my big problem with the movie is that it feels like three or four movies combined. The plot is way too overstuffed, and about half an hour too long. There is an undeniable sense of peril fatigue, where the characters seem to be in constant extraordinary danger from beginning to end, so any sense of tension is completely lost. Granted, this is a major problem with pretty much all big budget action adventure movies nowadays. I also thought a lot of the character deaths fell pretty flat in the film, and there were a lot of them!
Also, ugh, the inclusion of Darth Maul makes me roll my eyes. YES, I’ve seen Clone Wars and Rebels, I know he canonically survived The Phantom Menace, but let’s just make this real clear. Most audience goers’ immediate question upon seeing him is going to be “HOW IS HE ALIVE?” And the answer to that is so convoluted and stupid that it’s unlikely any future Star Wars movie would ever address it. I don’t like when a movie’s plot point can’t be understood without supplemental material, and on top of that, Maul does eventually die on Tatooine having a half second long duel with Old Ben, so seeing him in this movie is just dumb to me, because following up on it in a sequel film would be redundant to the cartoons, and contradicting it would seem unlikely since Lucasfilm really wants to make everything one big canon. There’s also my personal bias against anything Prequel era, but obviously that’s not going away. So to quote Lando, “I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I accept it.” (gotta give Joe credit on that gag)
UPDATE (5/28/18): Next page should be up tonight.
Oh, Masuhiro, weren’t you even listening on the last page? But then, things just happen so fast, ya know?
We’ll be seeing Solo on Friday, I’m excited! I mean, even though the advanced reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are putting it around 70% and it’ll likely drop even lower after its release… But then again, Rogue One is sitting pretty at, like, 86% and that movie is like 80% super boring characters being boring. And who cares about Rotten Tomatoes scores anyway, amirite? Either way, I’m sure I won’t be able to shut up about it on the next comic update.
Hey, hiding in smoke is, like, Uso’s thing, man! You can’t just go stealing your dead co-worker’s gimmicks!
So I love Full Metal Panic. It’s basically like someone took the handful of unintentionally hilarious scenes from Gundam Wing with Heero Yuy and Relena in high school and made a whole series about it. Granted, in Full Metal Panic, Sagara Sousuke is in charge of bodyguarding Chidori Kaname and not telling her to go die in a hole. I’m a sucker for fish out of water scenarios, as well as action comedies, and anything mecha, so I don’t know if there’s an anime that feels more tailored to my tastes. Full Metal Panic does tend to drop off the radar for many years at a time, but whenever it re-emerges, I get hyped, and it feels like every new season is better than the last. The latest, season 4, titled Invisible Victory, feels like it took direct inspiration from The Winter Soldier, with fast, intense action sequences and knuckle biting tension. FMP has always been an action comedy with the tail end of each season dipping into some heavy drama, but IV just dives right into the deep end, and it might end up being my favorite anime of the year depending on how it plays out!
You can actually watch the entire first season of FMP on youtube for free!
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…