Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
April 14, 2020
Bumblebee: A failure of a toy commercial.

So I finally watched the Bumblebee Transformers movie... and no surprise, I didn't like it. Much like the first Transformers flick (and much of the second) from Michael Bay, it wasn't *really* a Transformers movie -- it was a movie about a girl coming to terms with her father's death and some alien robots just kinda happened to be there to help her along with that. None of the Cybertronians had any character or personality: heck, Bumblebee himself spent most of the movie with his memory erased, so what should have been a capable Autobot soldier spent much of it doing stupid things like transforming in public (none of the 'bots actually seemed to utilize that mechanism for actual DISGUISE purposes) and stumbling around breaking things (at one point, despite his massive size, he sits down on a couch, with predictable results).

(There's one particularly objectionable scene where the human protagonists want to get back at a local mean girl, so they enlist Bumblebee's aid to TP her house and egg her car -- which I guess is relatable for lots of folks, but it's not behavior that should be encouraged and it's not a thing I would ever have done and I'd want my teenage protagonists to have more scruples. So that's bad enough, but Bumblebee takes it too far and totally destroys the girl's car. They laugh and drive off, and the incident is never mentioned again.)
As far as the Decepticons go -- I was going to call them stock cartoon bad guys, but they're not even that cool. They speak almost exclusively in single sentences along the lines of "DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HIDE FROM ME?" "YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING!" "FIRST I KILL YOU, THEN I KILL HER!" Basically the kinds of things a kid (or grown adult YouTuber) would shout while waving toys around and making them crash into each other. And when they kill, they do so not because it makes sense for them to do so, but because they're bad guys. (And when Bumblebee ultimately kills them, he does so because they're bad guys? I'm super sick of heroes killing villains without a shred of remorse or regret. I miss the moral grounding of Transformers Animated.) (more...)

-posted by Wes | 6:30 pm | Comments (0)
April 6, 2020
Maleficent: Mistress of Gratuitous Homicide

So I just finished watching Maleficent: Mistress of Evil... and yeah, fuck that movie. Terrible. Terrible for no goddamned reason. First off -- for a movie *named* for Maleficent, the character has surprisingly little agency; she basically just stands around (and sometimes sits attentively) while other characters relay exposition to her. But one of the few things she does is KILL PEOPLE. She's the titular heroine of a Disney movie and she kills *at least* several dozen people. Shit, the first thing she does -- even before the movie title appears onscreen! -- is murder two dudes as they scream "NO PLEASE PLEASE NO" and then are apparently ripped the fuck apart offscreen. How is this okay?

I mean, sure, the murdered dudes were kidnapping fairies for use in horrific laboratory experiments (whether they knew precisely what was happening with the fairies is unclear; they just knew a shady dude was paying cash for fairies; in any case Maleficent didn't know that fact), but Maleficent still didn't have to kill them. In fact, considering that apparently nobody in the Fey community knew what had happened to or where to find the missing fairies, it would have been objectively better to keep the kidnappers alive: Maleficent could have interrogated them, or she could have had Aurora raise the issue with Prince Philip, or taken any number of actions that didn't involve murdering dudes in the night and abandoning their mutilated corpses on the riverbank. Later there's a big war between the humans and the Fey, and the humans kill a BUNCH of Fey, and then Maleficent acquires the Phoenix Force and swoops in and kills a BUNCH of (but not as many) humans, and that's perhaps a little less objectionable given the heat of battle (though even there Maleficent's been depicted as powerful enough to have subdued the humans *without* killing them). (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:29 pm | Comments (0)
February 17, 2020
Thoughts re: Sabrina and her Satanic witches
Category: Linkage … TV, Film, & DVDs

Sabrina may be a terrible friend, but damn does our girl get the swankest threads! More on that in this Popsugar article. It's an amusing read.

Anyway: I've finished watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina S3. While I found it generally pretty satisfying -- the weirdly anticlimactic finale notwithstanding -- I don't think it's nearly as interesting or baffling as S2. Actually, I'd been meaning to write more about S2, but hadn't for fear of spoilers. Has enough time passed that I can spoil developments in S2? Imma spoil some developments in S2.

So one of the stranger things about the show is that witches in this canon straight-up worship Satan -- we're talking traditional Christian Satan, fallen angel, Prince of Hell, Father of Lies and all kinds of other evil shit. Most of the witchy holiday rites involve some manner of sacrifice and cannibalism; one reason the Spellmans run a mortuary is that closed-casket events for clients make for fine dining opportunities. Angels are agents of God and yet are clearly treated as villains when they appear -- Sabrina herself has killed two. And while initially the emphasis on Satanism felt like a move intended to make the show edgier and potentially offend uptight Christian audiences for no apparent reason beyond bad press, I ultimately got used to it? And then I found it weirdly entertaining. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 9:48 pm | Comments (0)
January 24, 2020
The Master Dynamic

So I'd meant to go on an extended rant about the 2-part Doctor Who season opener, but then things got super terrible and I hadn't much felt like writing much about anything, let alone something as ultimately trivial as a television show. I still don't know that I'm entirely up for this, but somehow it feels like a thing I should get out of the way? Despite the triviality. So here goes:

Spoiler: the Master is back, and... kind of terrible, and not in the way that a good villain should be. The Master, admittedly, is one of my favorite villains from any property -- not because he (or, quite recently, she) is necessarily a compelling character (the "evil" version of the hero trope is, well, a trope), but because he and the Doctor frequently interact so amicably. While the two characters are often in opposition, there's genuine respect and fondness between the two, and on more than one occasion the Master has worked with the Doctor to further a mutual goal (usually survival) and has even moved to save the Doctor when there seemed to be no immediate benefit to doing so. Granted, the Master has often sought to *turn* those latter situations to his benefit, but there still seems to be a certain sincerity to his initial motivations. As the Master said on one occasion when the Time Lords enlisted his aid in an attempt to preserve the Doctor's life, "A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about." (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:46 pm | Comments (0)
September 16, 2019
Brief comments on Dark Phoenix

So I watched Dark Phoenix, and... yeah, it's bad. But the thing that gets me: it's bad in the way that pretty much all the X-Men live-action movies (save First Class) have been bad, only the direction (and the dialogue, and the music?) is marginally less competent -- which means the movie was less capable of manipulating audiences into gushing over it despite the lackluster content. I feel like the main problem with the X-Men movies is that they forget that, generally speaking, the most compelling part of any superhero story is the "hero" part, and in most of the X-films the mutants are more interested in protecting themselves -- and fighting each other in big noisy CGI set pieces -- than they are about protecting the public or standing up for nobler ideals. Here (again) the heroes were all flawed in decidedly non-heroic ways: two of the major players, driven by a decidedly ignoble desire for revenge, outright wanted to murder someone they once cared for deeply. Even in the "uplifting" final bit where Jean finally consciously decides to use the Phoenix force for "good," she walks around disintegrating her foes (and, sure, they were evil aliens), and I couldn't help thinking that a being that powerful should subdue enemies without blasting them to atoms. But superhero movies across the board aren't particularly sympathetic to the Supervillain Lives Matter movement.

-posted by Wes | 6:39 am | Comments (0)
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