Movie Rants, Uncategorized

A new adventure!

Mae Govannen, mellyn nin!

You may have noticed that I have, once again, disappeared from this blog for an inordinate amount of time. This is because I’ve been doing some work on a new blog, which can be reached at the following link:

https://wizardattheclicks.wordpress.com/

What with my day job, my social life, and just trying to survive in the cold, cruel world on my own and all, I don’t actually have a whole lot of time for blogging. So I decided to take my favourite thing about blogging–which is writing movie/television reviews–and just focus on that for a while, cutting out the clutter. I may one day return to posting random nerdy things here on a regular basis–ironically, that’ll probably happen when I get my life together and start acting like an adult–but for now, it’s all movie reviews, all the time, at my new site, Wizard at the Clicks!

By the way, if you understand the reference in that name, I love you forever.

Namarie,
Aldy

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Marvel, Uncategorized

A Bit of Civil Fangirling

I saw Captain America: Civil War this weekend, and it was amazing! The fight scenes were incredible, there was a ton of focus on character development, and I wasn’t bored for a single second of the two-and-a-half hour run. But I do have one beef with the filmmakers: Why call this a Captain America movie when it’s clearly an Avengers movie? Sure, Cap is arguably the protagonist, but Iron Man and Black Panther are equally important to the plot, and there are 12 superheroes total, including two who are brand new to the MCU. And every one of them gets a chance to shine.

So, because the movie was so much more about the characters than the plot, and because I’m feeling like a lazy fangirl, instead of a normal movie review, I’m just going to list each hero’s awesomest moments. These are roughly in order of how much screentime the character gets, with a slight bias towards the ones I like best. Minor spoilers.

War Machine

Team Iron Man (duh!)
Best moment: Teasing Iron Man after Stan Lee pronounces his name as “Tony Stank.” And right after such a sad scene, too…

Ant-Man

Team Cap
Best moment: Turning into Giant-Man! Also, “Thinks for thanking of me.”

Hawkeye

Team Cap
Best moment: Calling out Iron Man on his latest terrible decision in a well-deserved angry speech.

Vision

Team Iron Man
Best moment: Attempting to cook for Scarlet Witch while wearing a sweater. He’s adorable.

Scarlet Witch

Team Cap
Best moment: Completely owning Vision in a fight. “I can’t control their fear. Only my own.”

Bucky (aka the Winter Soldier)

Team Cap (when not brainwashed into being Team Villain)
Best moment: All the bickering with Sam, and his congratulatory smile when Steve finally kisses a girl. His fight scenes haven’t gotten any less awesome, either.

Falcon

Team Cap (duh)
Best moment: Trying to get people to treat his drone like it’s a real bird. Also, see above.

Black Widow

Team Iron Man (maybe)
Best moment: Going to the funeral with Steve so he wouldn’t be alone, even while they’re having their biggest disagreement ever.

Spider-Man

Team Iron Man
Best moment: Literally every word that comes out of his mouth, which is a lot of words. Highlights include, “Your shield doesn’t obey the laws of physics at all!” and “Remember that really old movie…Empire Strikes Back?”

Black Panther

Team Iron Man…ish
Best moment: Well, to describe my favourite moment would ruin the end of the movie, so let’s just say…every fight scene he’s in? With his sweet bulletproof cat suit and its vibranium claws, just kicking every other hero’s butt without pausing for chit-chat. Man, he is cool.

Iron Man

Team Himself
Best moment: Going after Bucky sans suit, even though he’s no match for him without his tech. And all the times when he sticks to doing what he thinks is right, even when it means losing friends or giving up control over his own abilities. Iron Man’s always a bit of a jerk, but in this movie he’s at least a sympathetic jerk. Not to mention a jerk you feel really, really sorry for.

Captain America

Team Himself
Best moment: Quite a few…stopping a helicopter with his bare hands, bonding with Spider-Man over their NYC origins in the middle of a fight, picking a tiny Volkswagon as a getaway car, and just all the times he tries to make peace between the heroes despite their differences. He’s like the team dad, in the best way possible. And again, one of his best moments is at the end, so I can’t mention it.

The villain is also easily the best to appear in a Marvel movie so far. If you haven’t seen Civil War yet, go see it.

Namarie,
Aldy

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Star Wars, Uncategorized

May the Fourth Be with You!

Happy Star Wars Day! I hope you’re all having a grand time watching the movies…you lucky sods who own the DVDs and the televisions to play them on. All I’ve got is a picture of Han Solo:

…And also this lovely video, which is currently fulfilling two of my needs because “Hamilton: An American Musical” is my latest obsession. If you haven’t listened to the cast recording yet, go do it now.

Okay, I feel better now.

Namarie,
Aldy

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Uncategorized

Let’s speak of the Devil

My favourite Marvel superhero is back! Season 2 of Daredevil hit Netflix on Friday, and I’ve spent the last few days bingeing as much as possible in my spare time. Now that I’ve finished, here’s my overall impression: same old awesomeness from last season, but with a few annoying bits thrown in.

Let’s get the annoying bits out of the way first. Spoiler-free, don’t worry.

Ugh, he can play pool on his own, KAREN.

  1. Love triangle grossness. In this season, not only has Matt inexplicably and unforgivably broken up with his true soulmate, Claire Temple, but he’s also developed an attraction to Karen Page and re-kindled a college romance with a psycho assassin whose last name sounds like Nachos. So there’s a lot of boring drama around that. Now, don’t get me wrong–I like Elektra. She’s an interesting character with complicated motives and tons of plot relevance, even if Matt does spend a little too much time angsting over her. But Karen, while okay as a solo character, is a walking cliche as a love interest–always getting herself in trouble for no good reason and never figuring out her boyfriend’s secret identity, even when it’s stupidly obvious. No thanks. I’m shipping Clairedevil until the day I die. And I sincerely hope this is the last time we’ll ever see an entire episode about Matt’s love life. More ninjas, please!
  2. Cliffhanger endings. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this season ended with a lot more unanswered questions and unresolved plot lines than the last one, which is a wee bit irksome considering how long we’ll probably have to wait for season 3. And I’m a wee bit worried about where some of those plot lines are going to go. Please, writers–be nice to your characters.
  3. Not enough of my favourite people. I expected the arrival of new characters to push some old ones to the sidelines, but I’m still going to complain about it. There wasn’t nearly enough Father Lantom (he only shows up in one episode!), and as usual, not enough Claire. There’s never enough Claire. Although I was quite pleased at the return of Stick and…certain other, more spoiler-y characters.
  4. Loads and loads of gore. This wasn’t annoying, exactly, since a lot of it was a necessary result of introducing the Punisher to the show–but some of the gore felt like overkill (pardon the pun). Season 1 had an unprecedented level of violence for a Marvel property, but since then it’s been outdone by Jessica Jones and movies like Deadpool. This season almost seemed to be trying to re-establish the record, what with the number of people who get shot in the face point-blank, gutted with shivs, or tortured with power drills. I have a pretty strong stomach for movie violence, and there were one or two moments when I had to look away. So just be warned: the fights this season ain’t for the faint of heart.

Now, on to my more positive impressions. As always, Daredevil’s greatest strength is its characters. I’m pleased to announce that nobody lost any of their awesomeness between seasons, and now we even have a few new characters to love. To elaborate:

This is about as blood splatter-free as he gets all season.

  1. Jon Bernthal was BORN to play the Punisher. I always thought his turn as Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead was one of the better things to happen to the show, but now I realise he was wasted on that part. Here he perfectly embodies the pain, anger, and sheer tough-as-nails ruthlessness of his vigilante/serial killer character. And yet he’s able to convincingly show a softer side when it suits him. Plus, the character is just awesome. He’s got a great ambiguity to him: is he really trying to clean up Hell’s Kitchen, or is he just a revenge-driven psycho who happens to target criminals? He’s a great foil for Daredevil and his no-kill code, and all their scenes together are electric.
  2. Foggy Nelson. He’s just a beautiful human being, and I love him with all my hearts. This season he shines, if possible, even brighter than he did in the last one. He may be the show’s (much-needed) comic relief, but he’s also an incredibly brave, kind-hearted,  intelligent guy, not to mention a dang fine lawyer. Everyone should have a friend like Foggy. And those who do have one should APPRECIATE him. *glares at Matt*
  3. More Avocados at Law! This season we get to see Matt and Foggy doing their day job more often, which is awesome. I’ve always loved the idea of a superhero being a lawyer, and this show is really taking the time to explore how that might work–or not. Things tend to get complicated when Matt’s superheroing tangles with his lawyering. But that just means the courtroom scenes are every bit as exciting as the fight scenes, and the two are usually directly linked. Speaking of which…
  4. More amazing fight scenes. I know I just complained about the excessive gore. But so many superhero fight scenes boil down to two dudes punching each other in the face until one falls into a nuclear reactor or something, and Daredevil has always had a knack for making its fights waaayy more interesting than that. This season, we’ve got a “hallway fight” scene that successfully ups the ante on the one in “Cut Man,” plus loads more martial arts-heavy ninja battles. The Punisher even gets his own (just slightly bloodier) hallway fight scene. Each one is beautifully filmed and choreographed. Basically, if you’re a bad guy on Daredevil, you don’t want to hang out in hallways.
  5. More supernatural elements. I like Daredevil for its relative realism, and I don’t think alien invasions, Norse gods, or any of the crazy stuff that happens in the Avengers movies would ever fit into its storyline. But it’s still a superhero show, and Daredevil needs some out-of-the-ordinary baddies to fight. So I liked the way this season spent more time developing the Hand, and all the creepy shenanigans its members are up to. There’s only so much you can do with drug dealers and gangs, but an ancient order of ninjas that may or may not be immortal and is seeking to activate mysterious living weapons called Black Skies? That’s an appropriate challenge for a hero who dresses up in a devil costume.

Overall, I’d say this season proved, once again, why Daredevil is the best thing ever to be produced by Marvel. It has more time to develop its characters and explore its themes than any of the movies, and so it never feels as rushed or crowded as many of them do, even in a season as packed with plot as this one. Unlike most superheroes, Daredevil deals with street-level problems–gang warfare, kidnappings, everyday murders and so forth–and he actually risks something in doing so, since he’s far from invincible. And despite its more “grown-up” tone, this show still knows how to have fun. It retains just enough cheesy comic-book dialogue (“Daredevil must die!”) and crazy ninja fights to remind the viewer they’re still in the world of superheroes, not the real one.

Until next time, boys.

And now I have to wait a year for season 3. Ah, the pleasures and pains of binge-watching.

Namarie,
Aldy

 

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The X-Files

From the Mixed-Up X-Files of Fox W. Mulder

The much-anticipated (by me, anyway) new season of The X-Files has come and gone. I decided to reserve judgement about it until I’d seen all six episodes, but now I can conclusively say that the new series is…a very mixed bag. It’s kind of fitting, actually. In six episodes, the revival managed to capture the very best and the very worst sides of The X-Files, showing that even though Mulder and Scully have smartphones now, not a whole lot has changed for their show.

Here’s my ranking of the new episodes, from worst to best:

6. My Struggle (Episode 1)

Synopsis: After several years away from the X-Files, Mulder gets a tip from a wacky conservative YouTuber who has uncovered a new government conspiracy. He and Scully investigate, and end up back in their old basement office.

My thoughts: Man, this was a struggle to get through. It was nice to see Mulder, Scully, Skinner and the gang back in action, but they did waaaayyy too much monologuing, even for this show. And the new conspiracy makes, if possible, even less sense than the one the writers spent nine seasons building up. It’s like they tried to take every major news story of the last ten years and squeeze them into a connect-the-dots pattern. Mulder’s new habit of throwing out random references to current politics, just to show he’s still relevant, is also quite annoying–especially since The X-Files‘ time-honored tradition of paranoia fuel is really all it needs to stay relevant in today’s world.

5.  Babylon (Episode 5)

Synopsis: A pair of suicide bombers blow up a mall in Texas. One of them survives in a coma, and while the FBI races to stop a second bombing, Mulder tries an unconventional method of communicating with him.

My thoughts: I wanted to like this episode, because it reminded me of some of the better ones from the old series–wacky sci-fi hijinks set alongside thoughtful explorations of philosophical subjects. But although I think it was trying to have a serious discussion on faith, zealotry and the power of belief, it never quite made it beyond cliches and platitudes. This episode also introduced two new agents who are supposed to be Mulder and Scully’s younger doppelgangers, but are really just annoying twerps. Mulder’s “magic mushroom” trip was pretty funny, but it’s the episode’s only redeeming feature.

4. My Struggle II (Episode 6)

Synopsis: The new conspiracy’s end game is revealed–a plague designed to wipe out everyone on the planet who doesn’t have alien DNA! Also, the Cigarette Smoking Man has lost his nose.

My thoughts: My opinion of this episode is actually subject to change. If the show gets renewed for an eleventh season, I’ll say it was a pretty decent, though rushed, season finale on par with some of the ones from previous seasons. If it doesn’t get renewed, then this cliffhanger was a horrible way to end The X-Files. Even Firefly got more closure than that. Also, the two new twerpy agents disappointingly re-appear in this episode, which makes me worried that they’ll become recurring characters in potential future seasons. Ugh. All in all, a rather disappointing end to the new series.

3. Founder’s Mutation (Episode 2)

Synopsis: An employee at a genetics company commits suicide under suspicious circumstances, leading Mulder and Scully into an investigation involving mutant children.

My thoughts: This was a good, suspenseful monster-of-the-week episode. I wish the “monsters” themselves had been slightly more developed, but the displays of their superpowers were still cool (and sometimes gruesome). Best (or worst?) of all, the story delves into Mulder and Scully’s fears and regrets about giving their son up for adoption, and it shows us what Mulder would have been like as a dad. Which pretty much destroyed me emotionally. Whyyyy couldn’t they all just have been a happy family?? *sniff*

2. Home Again (Episode 4)

Synopsis: No, it’s not a sequel to “Home.” (Still can’t decide if I’m more relieved or disappointed about that.) While investigating a series of bizarre murders in Philadelphia, Scully finds out that her mom is in a coma.

My thoughts: This episode was a major tear-jerker, and it left me, once again, in awe of Gillian Anderson’s acting skills. The woman can convey so much emotion without ever raising her voice, and it’s almost as enjoyable as it is painful to watch. And her mom was always one of my favourite minor characters on the old show, so it was already sad to see her on her deathbed. As for the monster-of-the-week plot, it was creepy and memorable and rather thought-provoking: a giant, supernatural garbage man, created from an artist’s angry thoughts, out to avenge mistreatment of the homeless. Although it seems a little weird to stick Scully’s personal trauma alongside such a horror movie-type investigation, the episode’s two halves tied together surprisingly well.

1. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster (Episode 3)

Analysis: Mulder is feeling discouraged because so many of the “unexplained phenomena” he used to investigate have now been explained by the Internet. But he reluctantly accompanies Scully on an investigation into some Florida murders that appear to have been committed by a lizard-man.

My thoughts: I honestly think the entire X-Files revival was worth it just for this episode. It’s beautiful. It’s glorious. It’s a nonstop, 45-minute celebration of all that is great about the show. There are lots of treats here for die-hard fans–from confirmation that Scully’s immortality is canon, to a moment when Mulder lays flowers on Kim Manners’ grave–but you don’t have to be an X-Phile to appreciate the hilarious reversal of typical “were-monster” lore, as Mulder meets a peaceful lizard-man who has been cursed to transform into a human. Not only is this episode laugh-out-loud funny, it also rekindles the sense of wonder and joy at the absurdity of life that has always been my favourite thing about The X-Files. Darin Morgan’s writing makes me so very happy.

Overall, the reboot could have been a lot worse. It’s still more interesting than seasons 8 and 9, in my opinion. But the next season (and there had better be a next season) has to be longer, and it has to give us some answers about William and the state of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and so forth. I couldn’t care less about the big, vague conspiracy (even Ol’ Smoky has lost a lot of his villain appeal) but I still care about the characters, and, like Scully, I just want the “little questions” about their lives to be resolved.

And I wouldn’t mind a few more comedies about were-monsters.

Namarie,
Aldy

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Nerdish Musings, Uncategorized

In Memoriam

So, Harper Lee died the other day. This made me rather sad, because she’s been my hero since I was 13, and now I’ll never get to meet her. But she left behind quite the legacy: arguably the greatest American novel ever written, and the only enjoyable section of lit class in high schools everywhere.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of anything profound to say about a woman who said everything so well, so I wrote a poem for her instead. I’m sure she would have hated it. Here it is:

To Scout

Your words are a strong house
raised from the same Alabama mud as your
sharp bones, your smiling skin.

Its warm, sun-baked walls hang
heavy with time and countless rains,
but the windchimes dance on the porch
and every window is open.

It is a house to be silent in.
A place for looking and listening.
The only music a mockingbird’s cry.

For you, word-builder, loved silence also–
to chase away the noise of fame
and accept praise, derision with only
a nod.

You were pale
and mysterious, cooped up in your house,
though not out of shame,
and I used to lean on your fence,
peer at the windows,
wishing for a tongue to tell you.

For you had given me much:
a new set of spectacles, through which
all people looked more lovely.
You had given me laughter
and sharp, tearing beauty
and a windy, impossible dream.

You have left your house now
and it is the only fitting headstone.
Your words and silences,
fitted together like bricks in mortar
and finished at last.
But you already knew about finishing:
how to speak your piece, bow, and leave the stage
having done one thing well.

Namarie,
Aldy

 

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