[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Friday, 2018-02-09

Superhero fatigue

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 01:31

I have tried to avoid dumping on things other people are looking forward to… but yeah, I am tired of the Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, [that’s not] Superman, Guardians Of The Galaxy…. The only superhero movie I am interested in at all is Black Panther (I am looking forward to that).

I am interested in Star Trek and Star Wars even less. Trek has become just … eh. And the last two Star Wars movies were so bad… just… SO bad… ecch. Barring something coming along as unexpectedly entertaining as Force Awakens, I think I’m done with that franchise (I never thought I’d say that).

I guess this is what getting old feels like.

Thursday, 2018-02-01

Godzilla Science

Filed under: Movies,Science — bblackmoor @ 14:47

I’ve been watching all of the Godzilla movies in order. I’m up to “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” (1995). One of the wacky things about Godzilla movies is their … I guess I’d call it “alternative science”. Most Godzilla movies have at least one scene with people in a lab or around a table, explaining to each other the most nonsensical “science” behind whatever might be happening.

Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)

Saturday, 2018-01-13

Trainspotting, again

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 22:15

We watched “T2: Trainspotting” (2017) tonight. To put it in the vernacular of the film, it wasn’t shite. I enjoyed it. Quite a bit, actually.

And if you’ve not seen it recently, you really should see the original.

T2: Trainspotting

Saturday, 2018-01-06

Return Of The Force Awakens

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 22:47
The Force Awakens

We are re-watching “Star Wars 7: Episode 7 The Force Awakens” (which, fun fact, is the only Star Wars movie to have its “episode” number match its actual number). 20 minutes in, and I am reminded why I rank this as among the best of the Star Wars movies.

  1. The characters have fun with each other.
  2. The comedy works.
  3. We care about the characters, because we like the characters.
  4. The characters accomplish things.

You would think that people making Star Wars movies would remember these four simple things. But historically, 2/3 of them don’t.

Even the spaceship fights are amazing in this. Partly because the choreography of the spaceship fights is creative and interesting, but mainly because we care about the characters and what they are doing.

And in case you are wondering how to correctly use a recognizable veteran actor in a movie like this, Max Von Sydow’s character is a perfect example — that’s how you use a veteran actor in a movie like this. They come in, they provide gravitas, they pass on wisdom, and then they leave (probably by dying). They provide motivation and support for the protagonists — they definitely don’t upstage them.

Want to see how not to use a veteran actor in a movie like this? Laura Dern in “The Last Jedi” is a perfect example of what not to do: swoop in, derail the story, make the protagonists look incompetent, and grab all of the attention.

Friday, 2017-12-29

Star Wars and what it means

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 14:05

This guy says a number of insightful things. I don’t agree with everything he says, and I think he’s much too kind to “Star Wars 8: Rogue One”, but no one’s perfect.

Sunday, 2017-12-24

Star Wars movies rated

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 22:47

My opinion of the Star Wars movies so far, ranked from best to worst. The ranking is not exact: any two adjacent movies could be swapped, depending on my mood.

The Force Awakens

2nd Best
Star Wars 7: Episode 7 The Force Awakens (2015)

The Empire Strikes Back

3rd Best
Star Wars 2: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Return Of The Jedi

4th Best
Star Wars 3: Return Of The Jedi (1983)

There is a rather significant gap here. I like the movies above this gap, and I dislike the movies below this gap. With apologies to Mr. Lobo, I’ll go so far as to say that the movies below are “bad movies”.
Revenge Of The Sith

2nd Worst
Star Wars 6: Episode 3 Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

Everything Wrong With Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Attack Of The Clones

5th Worst
Star Wars 5: Episode 2 Attack Of The Clones (2002)

Everything Wrong With Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The Phantom Menace

Worst
Star Wars 4: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Review

Star Wars: The Lost Jedi

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 17:38

So… “Star Wars 9: Episode 8 The Last Jedi” (2017). I thought it was slow and dull and pointless. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the abomination that some people seem to think it is. I’d put this movie about on par with “Star Wars 5: Episode 2 Attack Of The Clones” (2002): not “good”, by any measure, but middle of the road as far as Star Wars sequels go. Perhaps a bit worse than average, but not as bad as “Star Wars 8: Rogue One” (2016), and quite a bit better than “Star Wars 4: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace” (1999). More than anything, it’s disappointing. “Star Wars 7: Episode 7 The Force Awakens” (2015) was so much fun, with great pacing and appealing characters, and then to follow it with this long, dull, pointless… thing.

To save myself the effort of having to type this up more than once, I will list here the various things I disliked about “Star Wars 9: Episode 8 The Last Jedi” (2017):

  1. Slapstick pratfalls and out-of-place comedy (I get it, comedy is hard).
  2. Endless stultifying exposition.
  3. Slow, awkward pacing: it’s like three or four slow, dull movies were shuffled together to make one longer, slower, duller movie.
  4. Pod racing — I mean space horse racing.
  5. Stuttering Benicio Del Toro.
  6. Super Leia flying through space (I was literally stifling laughter in the theater during the Super Leia scene: I didn’t want to laugh out loud, I’m not a jerk, but that was just ridiculous).
  7. Space hamsters.
  8. Space manatee breast milk.
  9. The Slowest Spaceship Chase In The UniverseTM.
  10. A completely unnecessary and pointless Rose Teacup subplot. Was she supposed to be a romantic interest for Finn? She just doesn’t fit into the movie at all. If this were fan-fiction, she’d be the obvious “Mary Sue” character. Perhaps she is.
  11. A completely unnecessary and pointless Laura Dern subplot. She was even more glaringly out of place than Rose Teacup.
  12. Abrupt and meaningless Snoke death, tossing into the trash any tension or interest built up about him.
  13. Abrupt and meaningless revelation about Rey’s parents, tossing into the trash any tension or interest built up about them.
  14. Everything the good guys tried to do during the movie … every. single. thing. … failed. They succeeded at nothing.

That final criticism is the most damning one. Rey’s trip to find Luke Skywalker? Pointless. The Slowest Spaceship Chase In The UniverseTM? Pointless. The entire side trip to Planet Vegas? Pointless. The entire “take out the sensor” caper? Pointless. The fight against the Imperial walkers on Red Salt Planet? Pointless. It’s a three hour movie in which nothing happens, and we have no reason to care about any of it or anyone in it.

Luke tells Rey to get out while she can

There is actually one character I care about: Rey. You can feel her frustration as she goes from scene to scene, trying to find a story arc or any purpose to this exercise, but never finding it. By the end of the movie, I felt great sympathy for her.

I suppose I should point out three things that I did not dislike.

  1. I do not mind that Luke Skywalker made a tragic error in judgement, and that his error became the motivation for Ben Solo becoming a villain. That was probably the most interesting thing in the movie. I think it was handled badly — Luke would not stand over Ben with a lit lightsaber, that’s just stupid. But the core idea is interesting
  2. I do not mind that the cast was a mixture of ethnicities and included both men and women. I have a hard time fathoming the mental state of someone who would object to that.
  3. I do not mind that Rey has miraculously become an Ultimate Force MasterTM without any real training. Yes, it contradicts pretty much the entirety of what we have seen and been told about the Force and the Jedi… but who cares? We didn’t know about laser swords and mind tricks before we met Ben Kenobi. There’s a first time for everything.

Incidentally, I think I may be the only person who doesn’t like Phasma (the chrome storm trooper). It irks me that we are supposed to think she’s interesting even though she does nothing interesting. She’s like the Boba Fett of this, dropped into scenes for no apparent reason. The difference, of course, is that Boba Fett was used because he had developed a fan following, while Phasma is just a “collectable chrome variant” storm trooper. Just having a name and a different outfit doesn’t make her interesting. There are at least a dozen nameless characters throughout the Star Wars films who say and do more interesting things than what Phasma has said and done. I also think there’s something wrong with Phasma’s armor itself. I’m not sure if it doesn’t fit right, or if the actor has weird posture, or what, but it just looks …. weirdly “off”, like a jacket that has been buttoned up wrong. As far as I can tell, the only reason the character exists is to sell an action figure.

P.S. Do you like that gif? I made it. 🙂

P.P.S. I think people are trying way to hard to reinterpret this terrible movie in a way that makes it laudable. Yes, it’s lovely that the cast is a mixture of ethnicities and men and women: it’s still a long, dull movie in which nothing happens, no one matters, and all the good will and story potential generated by “The Force Awakens” is wasted.

But wait, there’s more…

This won’t make a huge amount of sense to you unless you have seen the “The Last Jedi” video Jenny Nicholson made, but I spent a long time writing it, so I want to preserve it. (Also, if you aren’t her patron, you should be: she’s brilliant and funny.)

10) Snoke was wasted. That he died is not the problem: the problem is that the audience’s time and investment in the character was thrown away. It wasn’t a clever misdirection — it was bad filmmaking.

9) I don’t care much about Kylo Ren one way or the other. He’s underwhelming as an antagonist, but he’s got some depth as a character, so it balances out.

8) The movie was pointless because nothing was accomplished. Everything the protagonists attempted failed, utterly. In fact, the protagonists would be better off if Poe Dameron and Finn had slept through the movie.

7) Again, that Rey’s parents are no one special is not the problem: the problem is that the audience’s time and investment in the character’s backstory was thrown away. There are probably dozens of ways a competent filmmaker could have revealed that and made the revelation mean something to the audience — this was not one of them. It was bad filmmaking.

6) I have no problem with Luke making a catastrophic mistake that winds up creating the next Dark Lord. That was probably one of the more interesting things in the movie. The execution was handled badly (Luke standing over Ben Solo with a lit lightsaber is just stupid), but in comparison with the rest of the movie, it almost looks competent in comparison.

5) Super Leia was laughable. I literally laughed in the theater. Let’s ignore the fact that it made Carrie Fisher’s final appearance (as a living person — I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up later as a grotesque CGI mannequin) into a joke (the filmmakers didn’t know she had months left to live, after all). It makes what should have been a tragic, character-building moment for the protagonists into a pointless digression. She should have been given the hero’s death that her character has earned over the past 40 years. Instead, that was given to the utterly superfluous Laura Dern character. Again, this is just bad filmmaking.

4) As for Holdo, the Laura Dern character … her existence and everything she does undermines the arc of the movie and the importance of the protagonists: that character shouldn’t have even been in the movie. Again, this is just bad filmmaking.

3) Broom kid is irrelevant. The entire pointless trip to Planet Vegas accomplished nothing for the story arc or the characters. Again, this is just bad filmmaking.

2) “The theme of ‘The Last Jedi’ was failure”. The theme of failure is part of a good movie if the characters return from that failure and then succeed. (There is a literary term for this, but it slips my mind at the moment.) The problem (again) is not that characters failed. The problem is that those failures were meaningless — there was no follow-up where the characters come back and succeed. They don’t even learn anything. What did Finn learn: to never take risks to help anyone else, because it’s doomed to failure and will, at best, get a lot of people killed who wouldn’t have otherwise been killed? What did Poe learn: to follow orders without question? What did Rey learn: that nothing matters, no one can be trusted, and even the people who ought to know better will just disappoint you, so why even try? They all just fail, the end. Whether that was intentional or not (I rather think it was), this is just bad filmmaking. I will direct you to Jenny Nicholson’s brilliant criticism of Rogue One, where she says that intentionally making a movie bad does not make it a good movie: it’s still bad.

1) The movie didn’t “challenge” me. It bored me. I started looking at my watch during the pod race — I mean space horse race. To be clear, I didn’t hate the movie. I thought it was marginally better than Rogue One (rather than caring nothing about the characters and what they were doing, I cared very little about the characters and what they were doing). But it’s no “Phantom Menace”. It’s not the worst Star Wars movie ever made (so far).

P.P.P.S. The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie for people who don’t like Star Wars. Handful of individuals strike a decisive blow against a massive organization? Nope: the characters fail, utterly. Lightsaber fight? Nope: no lightsaber touches another lightsaber in the whole movie. Likeable characters? Nope: the movie goes out of its way to make the protagonists we loved in The Force Awakens into losers and incompetents. Dramatic death of a beloved character that ignites the resolve of the protagonists? Nope: Leia becomes a joke, a flying clown, an absurdity that will always be remembered as Carrie Fisher’s embarrassing final role. A character who made a tragic choice gets redemption? Nope: Luke betrays his student, does nothing useful, and then fades away.

Friday, 2017-11-24

Open Letter to Satellite of Love, LLC, Alternaversal Productions, LLC and Undiscovered North American Ape Pictures

Filed under: Movies,Television — bblackmoor @ 18:25

MST3K: The Crappy Remake (2017)

It appears that Netflix has committed to funding a second season of “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return”. Congratulations, I guess.

Well, if you’re going to do it, here are some suggestions on how to make it better than the Kickstarter season:

  • Do not edit or censor the movies. This is not 1988. You are not on basic cable. If you can’t make it funny, either try harder or choose a different movie. (I could stop here, and that alone would be enough condemn the Kickstarter show.)
  • Have the voice actors control the robots. The puppeteering of the Kickstarter episodes was worse than the worst that Josh, Trace, Kevin, or Bill ever did.
  • Find voice actors for the robots who don’t sound exactly alike.
  • No lip-syncing in the theater. Seriously, what the hell.
  • Don’t riff the movies like old-timey auctioneers. It’s supposed to be comedy, not a contest to see how many words per second you can squeeze into the show.
  • Ditch the rigid, inflexible Tom Servo arms, and go back to the ones that that had movement and conveyed action.
  • Get rid of the stiff, ceiling-mounted Gypsy and go back to having the mobile Gypsy who can actually interact with the other characters.
  • Scale the mad scientist set way, way back. It’s not “The Tonight Show”. It’s a lab. Less is more.
  • Bring back the hexfield view screen.
  • If you are going to have props, have actual props, not the same laser-cut plywood cutouts every week.
  • If you are going to have an invention exchange, put some fucking effort into it. Jesus.
  • Have a real set for the SOL.
  • Do not pause inexplicably for ten seconds during the opening theme song. (Also, “yellow” is two syllables, and the music has one beat there. How can you guys not cringe every time you hear this song?)

I could go on (and on, and on), but that’s enough.

Frankly, I’ll be surprised if you do any of these things, because I think you have completely lost touch with what made MST3K a great show. But maybe you’ll surprise me. I hope so.

Afterthought

If you are a fan of something long enough, you will live to see it turned into something that is painfully bad (“Godzilla”, 1998; “The Phantom Menace”, 1999; “The Planet Of The Apes”, 2001; “Rollerball” 2002; “War Of The Worlds”, 2005). Maybe, if you live long enough, you’ll get to see what you love turn back into something you can love again (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, 2015).

So maybe I will live long enough to see “Mystery Science Theater 3000” be good again.

Tuesday, 2017-11-21

Authority figures

Filed under: Movies,Society,Television — bblackmoor @ 14:33

Humanity’s love for authority figures is annoying. “Alien” (1979) gave us a perfect, self-sufficient, self-propagating alien species. “The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.” So naturally a sequel introduced a superfluous “queen”. “Star Trek The Next Generation” gave us the Borg, a hive mind with no leaders, no individual thought: a society of perfect, remorseless unity. So naturally “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996) introduced another superfluous “queen”.

It’s like we can’t even conceive of a society without authority figures, even an alien one.

Alien Queen by Hideyoshi

Tuesday, 2017-08-15

Ghost In The Shell, The Sand, Nudist Colony Of The Dead

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 11:17

Recent movie viewing…

Ghost In The Shell (1995)

“Ghost In The Shell” is pretty famous, but I’d never seen it. The first half hour is really good. I really liked the story, the characters (if not the English-speaking voice actors), and the animation. It starts to bog down at around 30 minutes, when two characters woodenly recite some Philosophy 101 blather for a few minutes. After that, every ten minutes or so the movie grinds to a screeching halt for more “what does it mean to be alive” blah blah blah. It’s the sort of tedious philosophical crap that seems deep when you’re 16; after you take a couple of philosophy courses, or read a few books, or get some life experience… not so much. Aside from that, and the English voice actors in the dubbed version being really just terrible (don’t judge me for watching the dubbed version), I thought it was okay, but I expected it to be a lot better.

The Sand (2015)

In “The Sand”, a half-dozen attractive young people in bathing suits wake up after a beach party to find that they are stranded in the middle of a stretch of beach that eats anything living that touches it. The premise sounds horrendous, but the performances and the variety of ways the characters die really raise the quality of this. The cast is surprisingly good, and the movie held my interest the entire time. The special effects are very good at the beginning (both the gore and the monster), but get more cheesy and less convincing as the film goes on. But at the beginning, they really are quite good. Overall, this movie exceeded my expectations, and even surprised me a couple of times.

Nudist Colony Of The Dead (1991)

“Nudist Colony Of The Dead” sounds like it will be awful, and it is. However, it’s not what I expected, and it’s actually somewhat amusing. For one thing, it’s a musical. The songs are terrible, but the tunes are kind of catchy. Second, it’s a satire of late-1980s Americanized Christianity, along the lines of “Saved” (2004). It’s not as funny as “Saved”, but they do try, and it’s definitely a step above painfully unfunny “comedies” like “Bridesmaids” (2011), “Jack And Jill” (2011), and “Hot Pursuit” (2015). Finally, I was surprised at just how little nudity there is. I was expecting a cringe-inducing, wooden parade of naked bodies, but there’s more nudity on an episode of Game Of Thrones (the first season, anyway: I stopped watching shortly after Sean Bean died). Heck, “Ghost In The Shell” probably had as much nudity (although those were robots, so I’m not sure that counts). So while I wouldn’t call this a good movie, if your expectations are as low as mine were, you might find it okay, or even mildly amusing. But it’s no “Zombie Strippers” (which is fantastic, aside from the tedious framing scenes at the beginning and the end).

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