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)
February 15, 2020
A visit from Bacardi
Category: Dreams

The other night I dreamed Bacardi had gotten into my room and pooped on my floor and kind of rubbed the poop into the carpet. I didn't remember that he had passed, but I did recall that he'd gotten old and kind of not-all-there, so I didn't get mad. I just sighed, said, "It's okay, buddy," and reached to move him out of the way so I could get to cleaning up after him.

But then Bacardi jumped out of the way, darted around me and raced out of my room and down the stairs, and when I reached the foot of the stairs moments afterward I saw him running circles around the living room and dining room like he did in his prime. He responded when I called his name; he gave high fives on command; he snuggled up beside me when I lay down on the floor. When I rolled over onto my stomach and said "kisses" (incidentally not a request I made often in his lifetime, because yuck), Bacardi came around to my face and licked my nose and mouth for several moments while I rubbed his sides and back. And then I woke up smiling, and it took me a bit to remember that Bacardi is gone.

I've heard that one is supposed to avoid the touch of the dead in dreams, but fuck that. It was really nice to play with my little buddy again.

-posted by Wes | 3:45 am | Comments (0)
February 11, 2020
The Mystery Judge
Category: Miscellany

So last week I had jury duty. Perhaps more on that later, but for now let me just say: the judge looked a LOT like a famous actor, and figuring out who it was bugged the heck out of me after the first time I approached the bench. Was it John Candy (albeit much slimmer)? John Ritter? A John Candy/John Ritter hybrid? What actor had I seen sporting such kind features and exuding such warmth and congeniality?

Then I had to approach the bench a second time, and he leaned in and looked more serious, and I was sure it was some other actor. And when I apologized for asking so many questions, and he dismissed it with a chuckle and a wave, I was sure I was close. The answer was on the tip of my tongue -- but I didn't have it yet.

I sat down and leaned to the side to look past the other jurors and take in the judge's face, and suddenly I had it. The courtroom filled with bees; the judge's robe became a leather jacket with three metal spikes adorning each shoulder. Several notably devout jurors vanished, leaving behind only their clothes and the faintest scent of vanilla. Atop the witness stand, the Cheddar Goblin vomited macaroni and cheese onto a pair of children shrieking with delight.

This was the courtroom of Nicolas Cage.

-posted by Wes | 2:14 am | Comments (0)