Thursday, May 31, 2018

Eulogizing Social Media

Not to betray some kind of unknown truth about me or anything but...I’m closer to 40 than 30 and what that means is that I grew up in a world that pre-dated common internet usage.  In fact I didn’t have a computer till I was 16 and back in those days it was basically AOL chat rooms, AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and slow...oh so slow...with buffering, adult entertainment.

Some of this was great - AIM allowed me to be dark and moody, thought provoking and unironically insightful about the universe (in away message form) while creating opportunities (though I cannot even remember how this happened) to talk to lots of random new people.  It was like twitter before twitter because I didn’t really know any of these people and they would come and go from my sphere without warning and you had no idea what happened to them. There wasn’t a community sense to it, we were all just islands.

The advent of Social Media as it was constructed had two major players in the early days - Facebook and the hip alternative version “Myspace” which had the “Top 8” and music and all sorts of other random crap I don’t even remember anymore.  And Facebook back then was a place to just talk to your friends and plan events, bitch about classes and somewhat similar to the old days of AIM, post unironically insightful thoughts about the universe.

Obviously Facebook has become an engine designed to sell you things and try to maintain as much of your attention as possible throughout the day.  The funny thing is, and I imagine I am not alone in this, the changeover from what Facebook was to what Facebook has become actually drove me to lessen my presence there to the point I’m at now...where I’ve basically scrubbed my existence from the site and am only there so I can get rewards in app games I play.

Instead I had given my social media eyes and ears over to Twitter; it was a cleaner and easier to digest platform that made it fun to engage with new people and see what was going on in the world very quickly.  The realization that Facebook was my past (about 95% of the people I’m “friends” with there are people I haven’t engaged with in years) whereas Twitter was my present. Which drove the point home that Twitter was the platform more likely to keep my interest.

And it did.  For years I spent hours a day scrolling through my feed looking for funny comments and interesting retweets.  But at some point a few years back it became apparent that I wasn’t seeing all of Twitter...I was basically seeing the same 10-12 people’s posts.  I sought out the other people in my following list and sure enough they were actively tweeting...I just wasn’t seeing them. Algorhythms had decided that they were less important and thus would not be actively presented to me, apparently.  So I found work-arounds and ways to still see the people I was interested in but was frustrated.

Similar to the uproar that still exists with Instagram, Twitter had decided (and still maintains) the belief that they know better what we want than we do.  Which isn’t actually true’s not that they think they know what I want, they know what they want to show and sell me. If it was just that they thought they knew what was best and didn’t have a vested interest in this new version there would simply be a setting to go completely chronological and to see all tweets.  Instead, there’s a main focus on retweets (which can be turned off) and posts other people have liked (which cannot be turned off).

I’m sure Twitter isn’t going to hear the death nell anytime soon; but for me it’s a dying platform.  I’m currently on a hiatus from it and don’t know when/if I’ll come back. Their decision making in regards to adjudicating complaints is laughable at best and accounts that post horrible content and free to continue their racist, xenophobic diatribes with impunity (because they have lots of followers and thus drive active users to want to see the content of these accounts).  Whereas lesser accounts are suspended or even banned completely based on a single interaction that “violates” their rules. It’s crap and it’s done so that they can say “hey look, see this is how many offensive people we’ve banned”...”but...what about all these other”...”Don’t know about any of that but see all these accounts we’ve banned? We’re making Twitter safe!”

I don’t really need social media’s not healthy (actually) and as a full-fledged adult who can source his news independently.  I’m sure I’ll miss some of the memes (though only like ¼ of them actually made sense - who is that weird yellow blockey looking guy with the skinny legs?) but in the end my mental state will be improved and I won’t objectively hate people as much because I won’t have their ignorance shoved in my face quite so often.

I would encourage everyone, not to abandon social media on my instruction, but to take a long look at your own consumption habits and analyze whether spending time on those sites are actually providing you with benefits and not just a way to kill time.  There’s much better ways to kill time - read a book, take a walk, play some video games...fucking write.

It’s been a good run, social media, over 8 years on twitter, but it has run its course for me and the time has come to let the reigns go loose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Guns - why the Second Amendment doesn't mean what you think it means

We live in a society that is completely idiotic sometimes.  I don't completely blame the idiot people who think the idiotic things they do...society has made them this way by creating a situation where they're lead to believe things that are completely false.  It's like religion; people will proclaim the complete and undeniable nature of their god...except...there are no facts; only beliefs, hopes and desires.  But at least with religion the damage is less than with guns (at least since the end of the crusades and ACTUAL religious persecution ended).

Our country was founded on the idea of laws outlined in the constitution and its ten initial amendments, ratified by congress these documents set in motion a nation that has grown beyond anything any of those men could have ever imagined.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights was written at the end of the Revolutionary War in the late 18th case you're not counting we live in the 21st century...meaning it's been over 200 years since these documents were created.  Since that time we have grown from 13 colonies to 50 states and a number of territories and protectorates.  Numerous wars have been fought (winning most of them) and its citizens have been leaders in technological achievements from the cotton gin to the personal computer.

And yet...we still hold on to this 200 year old document as if it is infallible and the perfection of all things political whilst simultaneously twisting its factual information for our own personal reasons.

There's a great seen in the show The West Wing where an argument is being had over the nature of the Constitution and whether or not it is archaic in regards to the census here's the transcript - it's worth reading - my part continues below:

Every single expert, including the census bureau itself, which is a
commission, has said sampling is better.

We've heard these arguments many times, but in this country we have a

We are aware of that.

The Constitution's very clear on this.

I don't think it is.

Until a court rules that sampling is Constitutional-

The article is arcane.

Come on, Toby. The article is not arcane.

Let's take a look at it.

No. No. We don't have time-

Let's take a look at it!

Toby! None of us is a Constitutional scholar. And we honestly don't-

It's not gonna take long!

My staff managed to unearth a copy.

Toby, come on, we've been here for six-

Mandy, would you read please from Article 1 Section 2?

This is silly!

Still, in all it is the owner's manual and we should read what it has to say!

[reading] 'Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the
states, which may be included within this union according to their respective
Which shall be determined by adding the whole number of persons including
those bound
to service for a term of years.'

Well you said it right there. It says which shall be determined by the whole
of persons. The whole number of persons! Not the end of an equation that some
statistician got off a computer. It says so right there!

Actually that's not what it says.

What do you mean?

Mandy left out a few words. Didn't she Mr. Willis?


Mr. Willis teaches 8th grade social studies, and Mr. Willis knows very well
what the
article says. It says which shall be determined by adding the whole number
of free
persons. And three fifths of all other persons. Three fifths of all other
They meant you Mr. Willis. Didn't they?

I cite this because it's important to understand that a document written over two centuries ago, regardless of what it is, is arcane and it is undeniable that the world has passed it by; in this case in regards to the value of HUMAN BEINGS.

So let's talk about guns...

The Second Amendment - included below unabridged says:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to keep the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

This gets interpreted by society today...and for a long time, sadly...that guns are a right for anyone and everyone to own and carry around.  Many states have gone so far as to allow ordinary citizens the right to walk around with a gun concealed on their person...ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!

The Second Amendment is pretty clear on the subject: if you are part of a militia which is necessary to keep the security of a free state you have the right to bear arms.

Let's dig into that a little deeper.

When the "army" was founded in 1775 it was not intended to be a constant long-standing entity.  It was created to fight the British and everyone was conscripted.  Additionally, the armed forces have always been an external fighting force, not a police force to be used to control the populace.

Anyone know how many cities had police forces back when these documents were created? about none; they didn't come around until the 1830's.

Militias were farmers and merchants and clerks who banded together into service defending their towns from, namely, British invaders and those members of the Continental Congress felt obliged to specifically grant them rights to own weapons.  The fact that there is a specific provision for how arms were to be appropriated would indicate that the Framers did not intend to allow what currently exists in regards to gun ownership to occur. 

Militias, as outlined in the text of the Second Amendment, do not exist any longer.  All cities, big or small, have some sort of municipal or county or state police force regulating their area to maintain law and order.  From that simple fact alone, the Second Amendment becomes completely obsolete and unfounded as a currently applicable right.

There is a reality to the fact that guns are an ever-present fact in our current society and they will never, ever go away because politicians would never have the stones to actually do anything about them anymore, but if you want to not look like a complete fucking moron point to that sad fact and stop misappropriating the laws this country was founded on to justify your desire to own something so inherently dangerous that every year hundreds of people die from accidental shootings.

Oh, and let's not forget the dozens upon dozens of school shootings that have happened over recent years and the one thing that rings true more often than not when these events are being reported and in the aftermath investigated: the guns were obtained legally.  That is fucking insane.

Agree with my stance or disagree with my stance on guns...but it's pretty impossible to deny the facts I'm presenting; open your eyes and see.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Free Speech - why it isn't what you think it is

We live in a country of idiots.

Over the nearly 240 years since independence was declared this country and its inhabitants have seen a number of highs and lows.  We've seen wars and we've seen desecration.  We've seen peace and prosperity (for some).  And often, far too often, laws are used to incorrectly reinforce ideas; whether that's under the guise of a purported right to own firearms (which when reading the ACTUAL TEXT of the Second Amendment clearly outlines the requirements for such things to be true, and virtually none of the gun owners meet these requirements) OR the right to freedom of speech as outlined in the First Amendment which will be our topic today.  

There is an incredible misunderstanding in this country about what Freedom of Speech means.  People make the assumption that they can say anything they want anywhere they want and they are covered under this law from any repercussions.  This could not be further from the truth.

For those of you not familiar with the specific verbiage of the First Amendment I am including the unabridged text here:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The key phrase that people fail to grasp from this statement is right at the beginning, "Congress shall make no law..." this is explicitly indicating that a law shall not exist which infringes on free speech.  Laws are executed by government agencies and maintained by states and the federal law enforcement agencies within this country.  Laws of this sort do NOT extend to public or private business or spaces.  People CANNOT simply say whatever they want and wrap themselves in the cover of the First Amendment and be "OK".

Here's a good example of the idiocy of people.  My drive to and from work is primarily on toll-roads and the primary road I take has numerous bridges and two walking path bridges that the road travels under.  Over the past few years I have been caught up in dozens of traffic jams, some of which extend 10 or more miles back, due to dumbass fucking people camping out on one of these walking path bridges and putting up stupid signs like: "Impeach Obama" or "Abortion is Murder" and other conservative right-wing shit like that.  

Over this past winter the local government decided to put up shaded netting - the kind you find on good tennis courts to keep wind from blowing through - which was clearly done specifically and explicitly to keep these dumbass people from massing on these paths and causing massive traffic issues.  I was extremely excited about this since traffic is bad enough without these fucks adding to it.  

Well, today on my drive home I was experiencing random traffic issues and I thought, "there must have been an accident - it couldn't be those assholes; there's that netting now".  Well, guess what...yeah, it was the idiots.  They had signage above the netting and off to the side of the path and this signage, instead of being some crazy conservative hate-speech it was various versions of complaints about their freedom of speech being infringed upon and demanding the right to be there and put their signs up.  Oh, did I mention that in several places these people destroyed portions of the netting?  No, well, they did.

Ok, so let's get one thing straight - I don't have to like or give a fuck about your message to hate you for causing traffic issues for me and thousands of other people JUST SO YOU CAN SAY THINGS NO ONE CARES ABOUT EXCEPT YOU.  But the fact that these people think that the netting is an infringement on their rights is TOTALLY FALSE AND IGNORANT!

The netting is not a law enacted to limit their speech.  The parties involved in placing the netting there were attempting to merely prevent unwanted affects from their demonstrations.  

You have the right to assemble.  You have the right to protest.  HOWEVER other people and organizations have the right to inhibit you from adversely affecting the surrounding area.  Add to this the fact that you destroyed public property and I hope these assholes got arrested today.  

I have dreams, no kidding, about making my way to the bridge where these people are with a paintball gun and just shooting everyone there, repeatedly at close range - pelting them with high-velocity rounds of paint.  Cause pain but do no permanent or deadly damage.  The satisfaction I have during these dreams is outstanding.

People will continue to unabashedly misunderstand and ignorantly invoke this law; of this I have no doubt.  But my hope is that somewhere along the way someone may stumble upon this post and learn a little something.

For now; please please please don't just assume something is true - investigate and learn.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Batman v Superman - A Voice in the Void Review

A lot of people whose opinions I appreciate and respect on a number of topics have been, in a manner of speaking, up-in-arms over the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie which was released Friday before last.  I'm here to tell you; their thoughts, discourse and opinions are lies or, perhaps it's better, instead to simply say: they fucking missed the point.

In my aging state I tend to prefer to avoid opening weekend release viewing of major films.  Gone are the days of sitting online for hours to rush into the theatre with the hope of getting a decent seat.  Now we can buy seats, specific seats, in advance and never concern ourselves with spending any more time waiting to view the film than we decide is desired.  As such I waited till today to see BvS.

I wasn't worried about spoilers; I've read the stories these characters are loosely based on (Dark Knight Returns, Death of Superman) and so I waded knee-deep into the minefield of Twitter seeing posts about how Rotten Tomatoes rated it terribly and numerous, numerous people stabbing at both the writer David S Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight) and the director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, Sucker Punch).

Let's touch on some important things that people completely missed the boat on.  First, the decision to "retell" the Batman origin story.  Yes, they show Thomas and Martha Wayne be gunned down but that isn't the point of the memory; it was in fact a dream and it was a dream about how Bruce first encountered bats and how in this dream they saved/killed him and brought him into the light.  It's a metaphor for who he had become but it also showed that this version of Batman that Goyer and Snyder were portraying was truly broken.  And despite what people will tell you mainstream American (you know, those millions and millions of people who went to see the film that have never read a comic book and may have never even seen prior Batman or Superman movies) they needed to be able to connect Martha Wayne to Bruce in the story.

Second, on that note let's talk about Martha Wayne and Martha Kent (a story line crossover literally decades in the making).  Batman is broken, like...seriously and unimaginably fucked up in this version of the story.  Unlike previous incantations where Bruce used his parent's death as an excuse or even a driving force; this version seems to see that occurrence as a mere stepping stone along a path he was destined for.  Batman is the core of the Justice League; he is their human moral center.  He, unlike all other standard members of the League, is a flesh and blood natural human and he's been broken for a long time.  But guess what; at his core he is still a good person who wanted to do good for the people of Gotham and when Clark utters Martha's name Bruce has an awakening.  He realizes that Superman isn't some god who needs to be feared and destroyed, he's someones son.

You can call that cheesy.  You can call that a cop-out.  But as someone who's read Batman comics for more than half my life; through dozens and dozens of versions of his personality based on differing writers and their construct of him, I can tell you that his reaction was something I expected.

I can't tell you that this movie is perfect; it's not.  There are plot points that seem rushed or at the very least lacking; such as, Diana Prince being in Metropolis to get back a photo of her from when she was fighting in Belgium (along side Chris Pine...) is both naive and somewhat's 2016 (even in this movie) and it's a digital image...even if she stole the original and wiped every hard drive she could find he could still have there's that.  There's the Superman killed people story.  It kinda doesn't make any sense...they were killed with bullets...untraceable bullets, but still...bullets.  Superman would have obliterated them with heat vision if he wanted them dead.  Plus; though this isn't covered in the movie, I am positive that he didn't kill the guy who was holding Lois hostage with a gun to her head so...yeah.

Let's talk about some things that people hated on that aren't plot holes.  First, Batman missing what Lex was really doing.  Bruce had his suspicions and knew Lex was up to something; but I remind you that Bruce is BROKEN mentally and he is absolutely focused on Superman and the need to take him out before he destroys every one and every thing.  Plus there was the Diana women distracting him and weird dreams involving the Flash (which he doesn't know is the Flash yet) and a basically drunk Alfred who wants him to spawn instead of fight.

Second, Superman not seeing the bomb in the during the hearing in DC.  I read a review where the person actually said "why didn't Superman hear the bomb"...I don't mind this person voicing a rather stupid thought, but I do mind them clearly never having watched Fight Club!  "Modern Bombs Don't Tick" is real and the bomb was most likely triggered by a remote device set off by Lex.  There seems to be a side-story in that as well where he allowed his close assistant to die; perhaps he knew that she wasn't able to prevent Bruce from stealing his file, perhaps she knew too much and had to be disposed of.

Batman v Superman is an action-packed film which does a solid job of establishing the DC Universe in characters beyond just Batman and Superman (introduction of Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, Wonder Woman) and the link between Lex and Darkseid is so...comic-booky that I LOVED IT.  People have been hating on this version of Lex...why?  Because he's a weirdo creep rather than a maniacal psychopath bent on Superman's destruction?  How do you think he got that way?  This movie was Lex Luthor's origin story.  How's that for irony?

I really enjoyed this movie; every film has flaws and plot holes and something for everyone to dislike.  Critics didn't understand it (yes, I realize what I mean when I say that) but it's true.  I'll give you a parable; George Lucas craved the acceptance of Hollywood and critics so much that when he made the prequels he basically said "the true fans will love anything I make but I'm going to try and make this for the masses to enjoy!" and so he went out and did the complete opposite both stylistically and managerially than he had previously by bringing on huge named actors to star and wrote BORING crap stories hoping to appeal to a wider base rather than just focusing on making good movies.  This movie was made with a head nod to the comic book fans specifically.  The story lines are deep rooted in the core of these fanbases.  The Death of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns are some of the most famous stories ever and this film took pieces from both to connect the characters and bring them together.

Is there a better version of this movie?  Possibly.  But this movie didn't disappoint me and I think a lot more people enjoyed it than not.  The fact that on a midday showing the second Sunday after its release I was still in a full theatre is telling.  People love big action films - whether they're about some terrorist trying to take over an airport (Die Hard 2) or superheroes battling a demon monster and each other.

The most important thing I can tell you is this: don't let other people tell you a movie is good or bad; you have to decide that for yourself.  But what's important is that you go in with an open mind.  And also that you listen to me and what I say most of all...I kid..I kid.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars - The Force Awakens

The films of the original Star Wars Trilogy are iconic, generation-bridging parts of science fiction lore and likely never to be supplanted from their place in history.  There have been other epic series' that have come since; the most impressive of which would be Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  But given the fact that these were merely adaptations of existing works and not original stories it falls even that much more short.

Lucas, for all his later stumbles and faults, had a vision for Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  He scoped the arc of each character and developed the plot with an emphasis on drawing the audience in and making them genuinely care about Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, C-3PO and R2D2.  This is something that so many other filmmakers have tried to do and failed; he should be applauded for his creativity, vision and foresight.

With the sale to Disney the franchise was put in the hands of the most competent director in Sci-fi films right now.  Six years prior JJ Abrams had resurrected the basically dead Star Trek franchise with a new cast.  He forged his own path going so far as to put his version in an alternate universe from canon to maintain what had come before without letting it influence his vision.

Disney, perhaps in collaboration with Abrams, did a similar thing in the SWU - all the books, comics, etc. that had been produced since Jedi were expunged from canon.  I was among those fans who had hoped without reason that Episodes VII-IX would be the Timothy Zahn story; by far the best series of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (SWEU) but those hopes were dashed.  If you haven't read this series, known as the Thrawn Trilogy, I would highly, highly recommend picking it up.

Unlike restarting Star Trek, which had already produced numerous television series and nearly a dozen movies, Star Wars was living on the gasps of what the original trilogy could still command after the debacle that was the prequels.  There are certainly SW Fans who will stand by those films as they are zealots and ravenous fans too blind to recognize failure in their messiah.  I don't mean to cast aspersions upon all SW Fans who enjoyed episodes I-III, but if you can't see the obvious flaws, storyline errors and insanely contradictory plot points these films created you are not someone whose opinion on film that will hold any weight with me.

So here was the task set before Abrams: resurrect the Star Wars Universe, bring together fans of the original trilogy (meaning: don't ignore that which came before) and draw in a whole new generation while simultaneously set up a franchise which Disney plopped down $5.5 Billion (will a B).

I chose to keep myself rather distant from the rumors and stories out there about the film's plot, characters and story.  It felt important to me that I go into this experience with my eyes as unclouded as possible.  I watched the trailers, yes.  But I ignored all goings on and chatter out there.  When I sat down in that theater today I had an open mind and no expectations.

I've spent much of the day replaying the film in my head and even considered not writing anything up until I saw the film again; but initial reactions can be solid from a writing perspective.

Let's start with what I didn't like: I was definitely disappointed in the lack of screen time for Captain Phasma.  It is entirely possible that her character will play a much larger role in the subsequent films but for me her absence was noticeable.  The characterization of Luke was not to my liking.  A bad thing happens and he runs away?  That's not the Luke I knew from the original movies; which is all we're supposed to know.  As much as I tried to disassociate what I know from the SWEU the use of lightsabers by non-force trained persons was bothersome to me.  It's a hurdle I don't think I'm easy to clear.  Who's fighting who and why; there's an established government (the presumably good guys - The Republic), the First Order - who rose from the ashes of the Empire, and the Resistance...which is apparently the guerrilla fighting arm of the Republic?  It is not at all explained and we are left wondering why it was set up this way.

What I did like: the character dialogue was brilliant at times.  When Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren first meet, Poe's little glib remark, "Do you speak first, or do I speak first?" is spot on and hilarious.  Though Poe doesn't have an excessive amount of screen time this line is perfectly in line with who he is as the "new Solo" (calling it now).  The relationship between Rey and Finn - two people who have not lived the life they wanted and are drawn together by forces beyond their control make a distinct and pure connection.  The story of Han and Leia; its construction helps at a reality to the time that came before and puts a human face on the Universe-spanning story line.  The fact that unexpected things happen regularly and without fear of the repercussions; Abrams isn't afraid to anger or disappoint fans - which is the exact opposite of where Lucas had taken the franchise, I have to give him credit for that.

Because Star Wars has been such an influential and impactful part of my life and since I was left feeling burned and scared by the prequels I realize that judging this film too harshly is a very real possibility.  I remember walking out of Episode I thinking, "The next one is going to be awesome - this was the set-up move, like A New Hope and the next one will be dark and full of kickass fight scenes, like Empire" and that hope was not fulfilled.  So whereas there is absolutely no comparing the quality of The Force Awakens with the crap which was Jar Jar Binks and the trade embargo story of The Phantom Menace, there is still those lingering concerns.

I fully reserve the right to amend this review after seeing the film a second time if I come away with a much happier feeling.  But for now I leave you with this: Star Wars is alive and well.  And that is something we can all be happy about.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Being a Star Wars Fan

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm
Being a Star Wars fan of my age is a bit terrifying right now.

I grew up on the original trilogy. I consumed them frame by frame, imagining myself on Hoth battling AT-ATs, running through the halls of Cloud City and the forests of Endor.

I spent inordinate amounts of money on the Star Wars CCG and Role Playing materials (though the stories that came from those experiences I will treasure forever).

But I had never seen a Star Wars film on the big screen until the mid-90s "remastered" films. I was still relatively young at the time so my level of angst was minimal (don't worry, it grew quickly) but even then I was annoyed at the tinkering. I was expecting to see a higher quality big screen version of my favorite films. Instead I saw randomly inserted new creatures and ridiculous dance scenes.

Proof that NOBODY liked the tinkering is that when they finally released the films on DVD they were a package deal. To buy the original you gotta get this new shit too. I've never once watched those versions.

Then Phantom Menace is announced. I remember buying tickets to see one of the Analyze movies with Deniro because the new trailer was being shown on that movie specifically (talk about a ridiculous crossover of audiences) and when that music started up and that first scene appeared: chills.

My friends and I sat in line for 6+ hours opening night to watch that pile of garbage with 6 minutes of great Jedi on Sith action. Afterwards, sitting at the Dunkin Donuts we discussed how, like A New Hope this had a slow start but the next one...the next one will be great!

Those dreams died very quickly with Attack of the Clones (which had no attacks of clones or by clones).

I'm not even going to spend time on Revenge of the Sith.

Cast and Crew of SWEPVII Meeting to discuss the film
Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm
Things are different now. Lucas has sold his influence away. Disney has kept the key players from Lucasfilm in place to guide the ship and they went out and got Abrams who resuscitated the Star Trek universe with grace and a tip of the cap to all that had come before.

But still I proceed with cautious fear/jubilation. They're saying all the right things; separating themselves from Lucas' vision for this next trilogy and are centering the film on new characters with a nod to the original star warriors.

It's not just about Ep VII though. With Disney at the helm they are determined to get their 5Billion and then some out of their investment in the greatest science fiction saga in film, screen and page.

Spin off films are already in the works and the sky is the limit.

Over-saturation is a common concern I have heard coming from a lot of fans but if done well the myriad films have the ability to do in movie form what the books of the Expanded Universe have done for years: create a more well rounded and magical view of the Star Wars Universe.

New characters are good and important. When I originally head the original cast was returning but they weren't using anything from the EW canon and were in fact dissolving that canon to allow these movies to exist with the encumbrance I was frightened. Old Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie battling the empire seemed cliche and interminable.

But you add in fresh faces to alter the course and boom; magic restored.

I have a lot of hope left in me and I am thankful for the opportunity to still believe in the magic of Star Wars.  No longer will I utter the words, "I have dreamed a dream and now that dream is gone."  The dream has returned and with it comes lightsabers and wonderment. 

Below are some images from the The Force Awakens in Theaters December 18th

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Courtesy of Disney & Lucasfilm

Friday, August 14, 2015

Movie Review: Fantastic Four

Courtesy of Marve/20th Century Fox

Story points and plot is divulged at your own peril.

The Marvel universe has been taken in a lot of good directions over the past 15 or so years.   The X-Men franchise - though had some middling along the way - has overall been very strong thanks to some great directing work. The Avengers (including Hulk and Iron Man movies) has also had some issues but again the strength is still there making the franchise a billion dollar entity.

All of this was possible because Marvel stepped up and basically created their own production house - not satisfied with letting others take the lead on their own characters.   Which is what makes this film so surprisingly bad.

Actually, let me take that's not bad; it's worse than bad - it's boring.

Fantastic Four is a reboot to the previously failed franchise staring Ioan Gruffudd (King Arthur), Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Jessica Alba (Sin City) which held true to the original story of how the team got their powers. The first movie wasn't bad, a typical Origin Story to introduce an audience not all that familiar with superhero movies back in 2005.   Where the train went off the tracks was in the second film when they decided to follow the Silver Surfer/Galactus storyline (an utterly famous arc in the comics which has spawned hundreds of stories since) but apparently deciding that a giant pink and purple humanoid with amazing powers and gadgets they made Galactus some kind of cloud creature with tentacles...yeah.

So, is the new Fantastic Four worse than tentacle monster Galactus? Sadly, yes.

The film dives into the childhood of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm where, in fifth grade, the two collaborate on an amazing device that can transport matter into another dimension.   Fast Forward seven years (so that makes Reed like...17?) and one of the top minds in the world is trolling high school science fairs looking for talent? Yeup.
Courtesy of Marve/20th Century Fox

Richards gets brought on board at the Baxter institute where Franklin Storm (Sue and Johnny's father) runs a prestigious (although apparently secretly funded) institute for gifted youngsters.

Oh, and Von Doom is there.

Richards and the team, along with Doom who is apparently a badass with a past (that isn't gone into other than in random asides) and whom is in love with Sue (gotta keep that part of the continuity, right?) work to complete a large-scale version of Reed's original machine to travel to this new universe.

After testing it and confirming it works the team gets benched in lieu of professionals (a novel concept) but the boys get drunk and decide to use the device themselves.   Predictably that endeavor goes awry leaving Doom presumed dead in the other universe and the other three transformed. The trip back causes some sort of disruption field which affects Sue as she's wildly and RANDOMLY TYPING A MILE A MINUTE ON A KEYBOARD because we all know that the faster and more random you type into a scientific computer the more likely you are to be successful at what you're trying to do. Not blaming Mara for bad acting necessarily...though she seemed to do kind of the same thing in House of Cards a couple times...

So now they've got powers and are going to team up to save the world, right?!?!? Wrong.
Courtesy of Marve/20th Century Fox

To apparently create heightened and never actually fulfilled drama to this story Richards runs away from the complex the team is being held at. He disappears, naked, from a hidden and totally off-the-grid military installation in the middle of winter...just, why?

The story skips ahead a year. They've all gotten better control of their powers and a new device is ready to transport a team back to the other universe...where Doom is alive and has been busy cultivating world-altering powers!

In the end the movie culminates in an all-to-short fight between the Four and Doom where predictably and incredibly easily they are victorious. The world is saved!

I was genuinely excited for this reboot. The FF are one of my favorite teams as they are origin of my favorite Marvel character the Silver Surfer who has played a prominent role in their universe of the decades of comics. It seems really unlikely the studio will green-light a sequel given how much this movie has been panned; which is unfortunate. And if Twitter is to be believed even the Director thinks the final product is shite...intimating that there were outside influences at work that destroyed his better vision.

Courtesy of Marve/20th Century Fox

The cast had promise but the story was flawed. Buried in the minutia of character development. Why does there need to be a origin story movie for all superhero characters? Where is that written?   Jedi have the Force - it's explained (albeit briefly) and then it's understood and accepted. There's no damned origin movie explaining how Jedi's got their powers or why. Just make a movie that's entertaining and shows the characters in their element. If people don't understand why so and so has these powers and what's his name has those powers they can FUCKING GOOGLE IT.

It just feels that these movies more often than not fail due to the hindrance of having to spend screen time devoted to explaining things that don't really need explaining. Just tell us a fun, entertaining, action laden story!

Sadly FF is a big pass.   Don't waste your money. If you want to see it, wait for streaming of DVD.   The graphics and fight scenes don't even require the big screen like most action movies do - there's not enough of them to warrant it.


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