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??
Some big lore bombs getting dropped on this page, along with Cho’s snazzy new suit!
UGH, guys! Can I take a minute to complain about Star Wars? I just finished the audiobook for Thrawn, which has been getting some pretty rave reviews! Well, guess what, turns out it’s boring as snot. In fact, basically every New EU Star Wars book I’ve read (well, listened to since I’m a big audiobook person) has been a real snooze. So has Rebels, in fact, and I honestly don’t know why. But I have theories!
You see, I think we’re just trapped by the films. They are the flagship of the franchise, and all the most shocking revelations, and big, exciting reveals, and game changing events, have to happen in those movies. Meaning all this other EU stuff that Disney is pouring out is just cement to fill the holes in a broken road. But we don’t care about those holes, we’re past them! In fact, if there are any holes in that road that really interest us, like say the hole where Luke cuss’d up his new Jedi academy and spawned a Kylo Ren, we’re not even allowed to look at that hole until we’ve gone further down this road being paved by the films! Am I taking this road analogy to far?
Anyway, the best we can hope for with the EU are stories about characters who have cuss all to do with the main plots of the films. Like, right now it feels as if every book is a prequel setting up one of the movies, and I just do not care. I already know how it turns out! And if all this EU garbage shovelware can’t give me any exciting, new stories while working with predetermined outcomes, then just give me all new characters who have unknown fates, facing problems that are not the ones we saw in the movies. Give me people’s gods damned Edge of the Empire campaigns! The old EU might’ve had a lot of dumb stuff in it, but at least I never knew what was coming next, at least I had a reason to keep turning the page. But for now until the films end, which won’t happen until Star Wars somehow stops being a pop culture icon (aka never), I think I’ve got to write off the new Star Wars EU, as it will forever be relegated to filling in movie plot holes.
(Also, Rebels could almost be good but it goes out of its way to undermine every potential dramatic moment it sets up with some dumb leap of logic or goofy nonsense action bit.)
My favorite detail about this page is Masuhiro showing off the hogtying skills he learned in the ninja cave to Yori and Ina. Ina is not impressed.
The canon explanation as to how Tang ended up hogtied is that after he insulted Wu, Wu turned around, marched toward him, apologized, and wushu chopped Tang across the head, knocking him out. Then Cho produced some rope, and Masuhiro proceeded to tie Tang up. Also, the bandits were dispatched to retrieve Wu’s luggage, which they did, and it was very heavy and they complained about it a lot to each other but not to Wu because they’re terrified of him.
In other news, I have a picarto streaming channel set up that I intend to stream art from Wednesday evenings between 7pm EST and whenever I decide to wrap up. If you want to come chat at me, I’ll be there!
So I’m still absolutely loving Samurai Jack season 5, but there’s a weird contradiction going on. It’s almost like now that the show is on adult swim, some of the humor has gotten more juvenile. Dick jokes,, excessive blood, and random cursing just to be funny. I don’t really object to the content, what bugs me about it all is that Samurai Jack never needed any of these things to tell great stories and set up great action scenes, and considering how weird and distracting they are in this last, otherwise fantastic, season just highlights how unneeded they continue to be. Perhaps Genndy Tartakovsky is a better story teller when he’s restricted to all-ages storytelling, even if he seems to relish being unshackled from that burden.
Also, in the most recent episode, Jack does this meditation deal to get his sword back, and I was really hoping it’d just materialize in his hand like a shard blade from The Stormlight Archive, but no luck.
And lastly, Joe bought Mariokart 8 Deluxe on the Switch. He also bought it for full price when it originally released on WiiU, and he bought the DLC when that released. That means he’s officially spent $140 on Mariokart 8 at this point. JOE, YOU SPENT $140 ON MARIOKART 8!!!
It seems, mayhaps, the brothers are not as of one mind as Tang would prefer.
A while back I watched a playthrough of Nier on the PS3, a game that I wanted to experience but didn’t actually want to play through because it was known for having less than great gameplay. I found it captivating, if not entirely comprehensible. When a sequel being developed by Platinum Games was announced, I was hyped.
I started playing Nier: Automata a couple days ago. In a word, it’s WEIRD. That’s okay, though, because it’s the best kind of weird; the Alice in Wonderland weird, where everyone just rolls with the insanity of it all. I feel as though I love Automata in the same way I love the Evangelion reboot films. They pack in a lot of incredible music, visceral human emotion, and adrenaline-intense sequences, but the plots that encase it all are surreal and filled with metaphor manifest in reality. It’s near impossible to worry about the logic or canon consistency of their narrative, and yet the presentation and character interplay are engrossing (please, please don’t try to explain to me how Evangelion all makes sense). So basically Nier: Automata is a barely comprehensible spectacle, and I totally dig it. I can’t wait to see what insane thing will happen next!
Cho did it! He used the power of hands to counter the power of fists, which are also hands, except all scrunched up!
So, some of you may recall that I kinda like Star Wars a little bit. Well, hey! The first trailer for Star Wars: Episode XXIIVIIXKDSJ Return of the Dark Lords of the Last Sith Jedi is out! My reaction when I watched it was a weird dichotomy of pure joy and expectant frustration.
I think it’s safe to say that the best things to come out of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars thus far have been the movie trailers. They hit all the right notes of nostalgia, and dramatic crescendo that you’d want from new Star Wars films. They consistently provide me enough context to simply assume every subsequent Star Wars film will be the greatest piece of cinema to ever grace the big screen. Needless to say, I have been disappointed, but I’ve tempered that with “well, it’s still a huge step up from the prequels.” Disney is also a very reactionary entertainment company. They work hard to respond to fan feedback in a visible manner, which can sometimes lead to over-correction but it can also lead to better films maybe, hopefully, please.
Am I looking forward to The Last Jedi? You damn well bet I am! Would I be shocked if some other film comes out of nowhere to divert my inevitably derailed hype train a la Mad Max: Fury Road? Not too shocked, no! Because Disney Star Wars movies are just kinda sloppily written, with confusing editing, bad pacing, and muddled character arcs. At this point I just have to accept that I’m never going to get the kind of emotional thrill I’ve previously associated with the franchise, you know, from when I was, like, 12. Yeah, it’s probably because I’m old and jaded. Or because the Star Wars canon encompasses the prequels, and those films utterly ruined Jedi forever. I mean, look at that Episode 8 trailer! Even Luke Skywalker’s sick to death of this ill-defined Jedi nonsense. Here’s some dialog I expect to pop up in the film if we’re sticking with established canon:
Luke – Wait, you take children away from their parents before they even know how to talk, force them into a monastic order where they’re told to never love anything or anyone because it could all be ripped away at a moment’s notice and it’s just better to be dead inside to avoid turning evil? But you also enforce that they feel an attachment to their weapon? And then you make them go into life and death situations fighting for causes that they’re mostly ignorant of and just hoping they stay committed to the Jedi Order out of some sort of Stockholm Syndrome mentality? That’s kinda messed up, guys! I think we honestly better just end this whole Jedi thing.
EPISODE 8: THE LAST JEDI!!
Wu’s about to pull some crazy DBZ stuff.
I saw Get Out. It was a good time, everyone should go see that if you haven’t already! If you don’t know anything about the movie, that’s probably the best way to see it. Know what movie I haven’t seen? Ghost in the Shell. My disgust with the live action film started brewing long before the first trailer, but until we started seeing footage, I still maintained a sliver of hope. It’s not even the blatant white washing that disgusts me the most (although it’s apparently pretty bad based on the reviews and plot synposes), it’s the complete destruction of Motoko Kusanagi’s character. First, they strip away her name (well, sort of, but the way they call back to her name in the movie is part of the problem), and then they strip away her agency. Then they dumb down the world, making it less of a plausible near future and more of a hologram laden cartoon caricature of a potential future, where people buy creepy, alien looking geisha robots to serve them tea and have giant, malformed implants put into their foreheads. A lot of the reviews praised the visuals, but for a movie that’s trying to be a serious scifi thrillers, the world looks more Fifth Element than Blade Runner.
I watched a nine minute clip of the beginning of the film on youtube, and what we’re shown is an all too cliche scenario; an amnesiac, vulnerable looking woman being told what to do be handlers who are clearly lying to her. In contrast, Motoko in the movies and series is a hyper competent professional who always has a heightened grasp on the situations she’s facing. The tension and drama in the animated incarnations comes from the difficult moral and ethical challenges she faces going up against (usually) competent opponents with complex schemes. I started rewatching Stand Alone Complex to remind myself why I love the series so much, and I don’t fine that love misplaced. The show has aged extremely well, and the the movie is one of my all time favorite animated films.
So maybe I’ll hate watch the live action travesty some time if it comes to netflix or some other streaming service I already pay for, but otherwise, I’ll just stick to the excellent animated universes. On the other hand, one of the best possible outcomes has come out of the resurgence of interest in the property thanks to the new film. Production IG announced a new animated GitS project, helmed by the director of Stand Alone Complex! I’m reminded of Genndy Taratovsky’s excellent Clone Wars cartoon coming out of the prequels train wreck. Sometimes good things come from horrific disasters!