Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 2, 2017
Thoughts on Doctor Who’s “Thin Ice”

Overall, the episode wasn't terrible. It had some good moments between Bill and the Doctor (though I don't know how to respond to writers when they place words in the Doctor's mouth that are patently false, like "I've never had the luxury of outrage"); it had a compelling "mystery"; and its supporting cast was pretty diverse (though I do find the abundance of children in the Capaldi era to be super annoying). The episode was, to be sure, basically a rehash of previous nuWho episodes except in a different setting -- "The Beast Below" comes to mind, what with the feeding of people to a humongous creature imprisoned beneath the city for some exploitative purpose -- but that's par for the course for Doctor Who these days.

But following the handful of articles about how Doctor Who was supposed to "tackle race and whitewashing" in this episode, I did find it to be disappointing. The episode definitely did acknowledge those topics, but there's a difference between "acknowledging" a thing and "tackling" it. (This distinction, by the way, is part of the reason I declined to comment more publicly on Get Out. I thought the movie was an effective thriller, but I found its much-lauded exploration of racism to be a letdown -- especially given the well-meaning posts from some of my white friends to the tune of "all white people need to see this movie.") With respect to whitewashing, the subject is dispensed with in a 20-second exchange. Explicit racism gets a bit more emphasis, if only because the episode's villain responds to Bill with a cartoonishly racist outpouring before the Doctor socks him in the face. And while I guess that response represents progress -- the last time a character was openly racist to his companion, the Doctor proceeded to fall painfully in love with that character -- the episode's "tackling" of the topic is restricted to that one bit of dialogue. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:52 pm | Comments (0)
March 11, 2016
Legends of Tomorrow and racism
Category: Serious … TV, Film, & DVDs

So last night's episode of Legends of Tomorrow was actually encouraging.

My main problem with the show is that it's essentially a live-action children's cartoon. Now, in principle, there's nothing wrong with that -- with such a large cast of characters, it's arguably the "natural" tone for such a show -- but the show's premise (and much of the content) is dark enough that the style clash -- in one scene the characters will be having a heated argument about some exceedingly trivial matter (often a perceived slight); in another someone is being beaten bloody in a Russian gulag -- just doesn't work for me. It might be a better show if the characters were committed to simply "stopping" Vandal Savage from finally conquering the world in 2166; instead their express goal is to use their ability to travel in time to corner and execute Savage at some prior date. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 8:37 pm | Comments (0)
April 6, 2014
Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Category: Serious … TV, Film, & DVDs

So I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night. It was pretty enjoyable, though I think I agree with the reviewers who complain that it shines when it goes in for character moments but is mostly too focused on world-building and spectacle -- particularly the final action sequence, which is largely interchangeable with any of the explosive battles that superhero flicks tend to end with these days. (While I'm not the fan of The Dark Knight that everyone else is, I applaud that film for its comparatively quiet concluding confrontation.) In any case, those flaws aren't immediately apparent while one is caught up in the action onscreen -- they're the kinds of things that one ponders after one has left the theater. (They're also the kinds of things one ponders while reading negative reviews of a film, which I tend to do for most movies I see; I feel these reviews offer perhaps more balanced and interesting analyses than overzealous fanboy praise.)

What did occur to me while the movie was running was that holy heck is it long! It's 2 hours and 16 minutes, which is too long for my tastes (for a superhero flick, anyway) -- and it seemed even longer since I had to piss like a racehorse by the 80-minute mark. I sat there with my legs crossed and tried to hold it, since I figured the movie had been on long enough and would probably be over soon... and then it kept going, and going, and then there was an action sequence and then it still kept going... so finally I rushed off to the bathroom at what seemed like a quiet moment. (I'm informed that I picked probably the best time to go, since it sounds like I chose the longest stretch of nothing significant and/or amusing happening in the film.) It does seem like even action films these days are striving for "epic" lengths. Admittedly, these lengths do (artificially) imbue the films with a certain feeling of depth -- if only because 2+ hour runtimes used to be reserved for weightier material -- but I find myself missing the tighter, less ponderous, and more fun adventures of less recent years. (It's worth noting that, for a short while, Daredevil was actually my favorite superhero film. Sure, it's goofy as heck -- the titular hero's playground foreplay with Elektra never fails to send me into a fit of giggles -- but that is a movie that really keeps things moving.) Ah well. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:18 pm | Comments (2)
June 17, 2012
I bought used library stuff today
Category: Books … Miscellany … TV, Film, & DVDs

Okay, I bought them yesterday -- since it's after 3AM now -- but still. I don't often buy CDs (it's free to download music, and I don't mean illegally; Amazon's got lots of free tracks and there's Freegal for library members, among the many free songs artists and DJs offer up on their websites), but the library had a $1 per CD or 5/$4 sale going on and, after browsing the selection, I decided I was probably going to get three of them. So why not get two more for just another buck, right?? That's how they get ya.

CDs purchased:

  1. Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree
  2. The Cure - Wish
  3. Annie Lennox - Songs of Mass Destruction
  4. 10,000 Maniacs - Blind Man's Zoo
  5. This Mortal Coil - Blood

I also bought two books: The Haunted and the Haunters, a collection of ghost stories selected by Kathleen Lines, and Spider-Man: Midnight Justice... the latter of which was apparently not enjoyed at all by the author of the linked review. Oh well, it was a quarter and features VENOM. And might make for a fun SC review someday.

And I bought a DVD! Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People. I'd never heard of it before... but holy shit it looks awesome! And it's rocking a 6.4 on IMDb, which surprises the heck out of me for a film like this.

Aaaand that'll do it for this post! Now, because it's totally what I should be doing instead of sleeping, I'm going to head to the basement and photograph action figures. See ya next time. ;p

-posted by Wes | 3:29 am | Comments (5)
April 25, 2012
Two shows I really like and why

If you're one of the three subscribers to Scary-Crayon's tumblr, you've seen this already -- but I thought I'd post these thoughts here as well since they're also kinda in line with a personal blog entry (in that they're thoughts about things that I like). A cartoonist I know asked about shows people enjoy and why, and encouraged people to explain their reasons in detailed fashion. In response, I wrote about "Doctor Who" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and why I like them so bloody much!

Why I like "Doctor Who":

The show's brilliant premise (it's about a dude who travels in a craft that can go anywhere in space and time) gives it basically unlimited potential and versatility. It's also fascinating how the show's various eras tend to reflect the times in which they were made, though sadly it's currently in the "derivative scifi action show" phase that I'm not especially enjoying. Still, I keep watching because I'm very invested in the universe, and because the premise means that standout episodes or a complete 180 in terms of the show's quality is entirely possible.

(And I didn't mention it in the SC tumblr, but also because Daleks are awesome and those companions are mostly right foxy and THE CLASSIC TV DOCTORS RULE. Except Six. He was pretty terrible.)

Why I like "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles":

Terminator 1 and T2 are films I enjoy very much (I didn't see I as a kid, but loved T2 -- and my old Kenner Arnold fig was one of my favorite childhood playthings), but T3 and Salvation (which admittedly came out while TSCC was already running, but still) were comparatively weak and didn't do much for me. So I love that TSCC essentially acknowledged where the story went wrong -- and that Sarah Connor was one of the most, if not THE most, compelling characters in the franchise -- and revisited the story before it started sucking. (I also love how they did it: they had the characters literally time-jump over the events of the third film.) It's a very good show, too, and ponders many of the tangential questions one might have asked and ideas one might have had while viewing the films or thinking about the premise in general. Among other things, terminators are shown to have (slightly) different personalities and missions beyond simple assassinations; the show suggests that characters can travel back from different future timelines; and even, owing to the terminators' role as thinking machines with the ability to solve problems and make decisions, the suggestion that some terminators might voluntarily choose to side with humanity, or at least to oppose Skynet. Even terminators who remain committed to Skynet are shown to oppose it at times, if doing so will increase their chances of completing their mission. It's very interesting.

And it doesn't hurt that Lena Headey is gorgeous.

-posted by Wes | 5:05 am | Comments (4)
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