“gee you haven’t written in a while.” gee, you haven’t read in a while. this got a little hostile. i think we got off on the wrong foot here.

i have had a year, and if you see this you probably see me on twitter, where i overshare it. Having A Year is why i haven’t had the time or energy to post, or draw really, even though i badly want to do both. and everybody is mad negative in avalanche circles right now, so instead of getting really really frustrated by any of the things i want to be frustrated by…. let’s talk about an incredibly well designed game i’m playing the shit out of.

let’s talk about celeste.

celeste is a platformer that came out last year, almost exactly a year ago actually. it’s about a girl named Madeline (or whatever name you input) climbing a mountain, the titular Mt. Celeste. she isnt real sure why she’s doing that, just that she feels like she has to do it. what ensues is a masterwork of design that, even when i’m furious at my repeated deaths, never stops being fun. what ensues is a game thats only tutorial is a bird that tells you what buttons you need to know a couple of times, which instead uses its level design to teach you how the environment works. what ensues is a difficult, tight platformer… that also comes with an “assist mode” to keep it accessible for people who are maybe not masters of the genre.¬† youtube is drowning in videos about how well designed this game is. i like this one, where Snoman talks about how the game teaches you how to play it by…. letting you play it.

the absolute giants of platformers are the games that consistently get this right. i’m talking old school super mario and donkey kong country, yall. this game’s level design is at that… level, sorry. sorry.

what the video above hints at, and what i mainly want to talk about, though, isn’t the game design. there’s a hundred million youtubers who are better than me at talking about game design. this is about narrative and from here on out i’m spoiling the shit out of celeste’s story.

the first piece of madeline’s story comes out of the mirror early in level 2, Old Site, which i think is my favorite level to run so far. she encounters a mirror and inside is a darker version of her – the enemy the celeste speedrunning community lovingly refer to as Badeline. after you learn about the space blocks, badeline starts to chase you. and you may not notice this during the first couple of screens of the chase, because they’re easy – she chases you by mimicking your movements about the level a few seconds after you. if you delay or backtrack, she can kill you. oops.

badeline shows up a few other times in gameplay, including in a truly stunning boss fight that you just have to experience. if you’re like “steph sorry i’m never going to play this game” then just hop on youtube and spend like 5 minutes watching it. it’s the only boss fight in the game, but the level she’s in is called Reflection.

but badeline has only come out of madeline. celeste mountain has a mysticism about it – whatever inner demons you have, the mountain brings out as physical manifestations that you have to defeat as you climb the mountain itself. for selfie-obsessed Theo, it’s to do with his sense of control and being watched. for Oshiro, the hotel guy, it’s an intense depression rising from self-doubt. for madeline? badeline is just good ol fear.

she hounds you. she tells you you aren’t a mountain climber. she tries to get you to turn back. she gets defensive in a fight with Oshiro, causing him to lash out in a tough chase sequence. she tries to stop you from progressing past the mirror temple, and that’s where the story does its story thing.

madeline has had enough of badeline and tells her to kick rocks. badeline thinks that’s the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard, and she kicks you off the mountain, in a very literal way, down into a lake or something. madeline tries to find her way out of here, but she’s giving up on the idea of climbing the mountain. she just can’t do it.

early in the game we encounter an old lady who just laughs at madeline for thinking she can do this. for some reason, there she is again in level 6, and she convinces madeline that, no, not only can you not kick out a part of you, you have to stop fighting it too – you have to understand it, and make right with it. so they chat for a minute while madeline figures out that badeline is scared and trying to keep madeline safe, at all costs. the only thing to do now is find her and come to an understanding, work together.

holy shit.

celeste has come to my life right in the middle of doing a lot of very scary transitiony stuff. i’ve been dogged the entire way by stress, shame, a sense that terrible things will happen, imposter syndrome, and just overall crippling…. fear. i am climbing this mountain while part of me protests, loudly, that i can’t possibly do that. of course it helps that this is a truly phenomenal platformer (and speedgame), but this is really a case of the perfect game coming to me at the perfect time.

now badeline is pissed, and won’t talk to madeline, doesn’t think she is coming in good faith here, and what happens next is that bossfight.

have you ever wrangled with a part of yourself you weren’t real happy about, or maybe an old, bad memory, like the kind that changes you?

the way you “attack” badeline is just by hurling yourself into her. she can’t stand to have you come so close, so she bounces you away and backs off farther, throwing up even more defenses. you do this over and over through tougher gauntlets and challenges until she finally relents. she doesn’t really believe you can climb celeste mountain still, but she’s at least going to try to help. the music gets… light, relaxed, and you can double-dash now, symbolizing how you’re working together (madeline’s hair changes to indicate how many dashes she has available. when she has two, she gets badeline’s flowing pink hair.)

finally. chapter 7. celeste throws perfect music at you here to change the attitude. it’s free, exploring, excited even. no more of the foreboding atmospherics we’ve been enjoying–don’t get me wrong–but the music is just, palpable excitement. and then obviously with badeline’s help you’re able to scale the mountain and beat the narrative of the game. there’s a lot more game to be beaten, but that’s the “main story.”

people say this story is about mental health, about depression and anxiety, and they aren’t exactly wrong. but i think it’s a lot more general than that. i cannot imagine a more effective metaphor for accomplishing something in your life that you don’t think you can accomplish. by climbing a physical mountain, this little tightly designed retro-aesthetic jump-n-dash-em-up tells a beautiful story that we all live at one point or another. and it does so, like that video said at the top, by encouraging you to beat a video game that will feel, at one screen or another, impossible. how many layers are we at here? we tell the story of doing something you didn’t think you could do, by beating a game that feels at times like you can’t get through it, about a character climbing a mountain while she’s dogged by a manifestation of her fears. three levels.

this game is on every platform (lolpun) and not expensive. you have no excuse not to pick it up, unless you just legitimately cannot stand a platforming game, in which case that’s okay. please don’t come tell me why you don’t like platformers. you don’t have to. but for everybody else… (sigh) this game was on every short list for game of the year for a damn good reason. it’s my new speedgame for now, not that i’m good at it yet. i think my xbox controller isn’t the best choice, maybe a dualshock would be better because of how the directional inputs work, like it’s hard sometimes with the control stick but this controller’s D-pad sucks ass… but also i’m just trash at the game lmao. anyway the developers of celeste clearly intend you to speedrun it. there’s plenty of tools in the game like in-game timers, multiple check points you can load up the levels into, death counters, etc, and when runners find timesaving glitches, as long as the code isn’t broken-broken, the developers pretty much just go “oh that’s neat” and leave it in the game. but even casually. this game is a masterwork and you should play it.


whats up yall. i attended the oklahoma city march for our lives event today and thought tellin you about the sights and sounds may help me organize my own thoughts on it.

i rolled in a little late. blame anxiety, blame starbucks drive thru takin 15 minutes to get me a damn tall mocha, whatever, it’s all good. the event started at the oklahoma county election board, which is about a mile and a half from the state capitol. i figured out where i could park, hopped out, and hurried to catch up.

lincoln blvd is long, hilly, and straight, so it was near-impossible to tell how big the crowd i was trying to join was. i saw a couple of blue-vested ACLU legal observers lagging behind, but never saw any others as i moved through the march. (i probably ended up dead in the middle. they walked p slow.) the police presence was pretty understated, mostly state troopers who didn’t get out of their vehicles, a couple of dudes on foot in bulletproof vests & no hat when we actually reached the steps of the legislature. people were mostly talking among themselves, carrying their signs, occasionally stopping strangers to compare signs and take photos. we had gone a full 20 blocks before the road curves, to go around the capitol, when it became clear how big the march was. a few hundred at least, not bad for a gun control rally in deep red state oklahoma.

that curve was also where i walked with a state trooper’s front bumper not 2 feet from my calves, shoulder to shoulder with other marchers. for some idiot reason they insisted on keeping the right lane free of marchers. not for traffic, though he said it was–maybe 2 cars came through and that was behind a cop car and very very slowly–this was purely so the cops could drive up and down beside the demonstration. they kept the lane open even after we reached a point in the road where it was more or less blocked off. to enforce this one trooper actually cut across people to forcibly mash us together into the far left lane, driving himself in the center. it didn’t escalate–this was a bunch of families, church groups, and white liberals–but it made me nervous as hell. allowing¬†any traffic next to marchers brought me shades of heather heyer immediately.

fuck this guy.

the chanting didn’t start until after he had pulled this maneuver, which i see by the time stamps was a full half hour into the march. there was some WE CALL BS coming from the organizers at the front, but we couldn’t really hear that and the self-sustained stuff didn’t kick in til after we were confined to one lane of the road and feeling antsy. gj cop! a girl who couldn’t have been more than 8 felt the need to kick up “show me what democracy looks like” a few times herself after that had happened once, and when the crowd around her was ready to reply, loudly, i thought she was gonna throw a fit she was so happy. what a great moment for her. people started actually talking to each other outside the groups they had come with after that.

when we reached the steps we were greeted, bizarrely, by a traditionalist Christian group, I’m not sure which, holding signs about how this gun violence is all a sign of the world turning against god and handing out literature. i think they were supporting the movement, in a general way, but it was kind of hard to tell for sure, and their primary goal was obviously proselytizing (and baking in the sun under their traditional all-black and hats and hoods). it wasn’t like rolling up the south oval back at OU one day and coming face to face with a westboro baptist church fuckhead though.

we had a minute of silence, nothing like what you’ve seen on TV today from Queen of #theTeens emma gonzalez, it wasn’t that powerful, but i appreciated the first speaker taking time to give us a tidbit of each MSD victim’s life, making sure they were remembered as more than a name and an age in the newspaper. and after that things got pretty vanilla tbh. there were probably 10 speakers, i didn’t count, one was either Indian or Pakistani (and he owned, shoutout to Robbie (?) Patel, that dude is going places) but the rest were white, and mostly they were women and girls. they were teens except one woman who had survived a shooting 30 years ago. she told us about her experience and what PTSD has done to her, which was a bold and powerful speech, except she kept saying “woke” in earnest. white people, please, stop saying “woke” unironically. (you don’t have to tell anyone else this because they quit doing it two years ago.)

the loudest response lines were jabs at trump which was extremely disappointing. when a later speaker named off incidents that predated him, pointing out that this is not an issue of one president, it was quiet. they called for people to give up on their love affairs with guns, they called on people to register and vote, they outlined a few specific bits of legislation in the current session here in oklahoma that suck ass, and that was pretty much that. nothing radical here, just folks chanting “Vote them out.”

the nra was referred to in passing, the republican party only mentioned in the context of “this should be a bipartisan issue,” the democratic party’s failure to do anything on the national level, totally ignored. that people are dying so the rich can stockpile more money, that the nra uses fear of nonwhite people and immigrants and leftists to do it, never mentioned. there were no black speakers, though i did see a few BLM activists milling about, one with a sign highlighting someone who had been shot to death in a private prison. i wish we could have heard about that. M4OL is focused on school shootings, which makes sense, given that it’s a student reaction to school shootings. but gun violence isn’t limited to mass shooting events. that’s not even the main source of gun violence. domestic violence–no mention. police killings–no mention. suicide–no mention. accidental injury from shotguns was mentioned. there’s not a moment for trayvon? nra contributions to (the term-limited) governor mary fallin were mentioned. there’s not a moment for calling out those greedy suits themselves and asking ourselves what exactly their purpose is? ah well.

and it took the youngest speaker, an 11 year old dude (whose name literally included “poindexter,” i am not making that up), it took him to say this is not a mental illness problem. to almost no response. stigma is real, and to hear that crowd bellow for gun control, but fail to see that mental illness, which affects all genders and yet somehow almost all mass shooters are men, for this crowd not to get that is scary. who you think they’re gonna weaponize a gun control law at? the white dude on his 13th DUI who still has a driver’s license because he can afford a lawyer and the legal fees and the court costs, and his uncle knows the judge? or the black activist who is “depressed” and organizing a demonstration? come on, yall. think. to be fair, none of the speakers mentioned mental illness, though one did refer to the MSD shooter’s “signs of mental instability” which, based on what’s been reported, is pretty bulletproof language. it doesn’t take mental illness to become unstable and not everyone who has a mental illness becomes unstable. that’s fine. the crowd needs to catch up though.

M4OLOKC was a short, hot, peaceful event. probably we shouldn’t expect these kids who are focused on school shootings to take on whether we should have access to the same instruments of power as the powerful have (or whether those power structures themselves, in turn, should have weapons), or how capitalism is killing us, but that only one speaker felt she could even say “white men” referring to the power structure left a pretty gaping hole in the rhetoric. certainly i don’t expect some teenagers to have thought through all the theory and far-reaching implications of their very basic demands. there’s still people who we did not get to hear though: the same people we never get to hear. the parkland kids are actively elevating black voices and the leadership group itself includes people under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. the whiteness of our group was discouraging. ah well.

we should probably expect a little better organization around the supporting groups, though. i saw people hanging out with clipboards ready to register voters, specifically including 17 year olds who are turning 18 soon. they should have been singled out for everyone. “if you need to register to vote, if you need to update your registration, they’re right there by the statue.” that’s all it would have took.

and that was it. we ended abruptly and made our way, peacefully, down the sidewalks back to the election board. so i’ll do the same here. i didn’t expect this event to be radical. but it’s still clear that this place is behind where it could be.

and i haven’t written about them, but after watching annihilation, i feel like i don’t have any choice. that thing is going to stick in my head until i flesh it out. the other two will be brief.

we start in Wakanda.

i watched the black panther

if you haven’t seen this movie yet… wtf? lets go. come on. get up, out of your chairs, and i want you to go to the window, and yell… nothing, actually, just follow your head with the rest of your body and then go to the movie.

black panther is a blast, just a lot of fun. it’s a really well-paced action movie, and it’s pretty to look at in a unique style, and the music is awesome. seriously, i saw people annoyed that the villain came in with the same theme music as usual but set to a trap beat, like that said “trap is bad.” my dudes, the villain is from oakland. the beat is meant to call back to his roots, not say trap is bad. good lord.

but also, and this is where spoilers start, it’s a movie that–you don’t have to! you can just root for T’Challa!–if you want to, there’s plenty to think about. the villain isn’t even really a villain. he changes the protagonist’s viewpoint. how many movies you’ve seen do that?

i’m not going to critique how this movie treats killmonger’s plan, or t’challa’s, or isolated wakanda, mainly because i don’t really think it’s my place to do that. black people have got it covered and you should read a few reviews by black writers. my job is to shut up and listen on that front. but also because, i don’t think this movie asks you to. it simply says, on one hand, we have the traditional way wakanda does things, african people doing incredible things and keeping an eye on what’s going on outside their country, all secretly. on the other, we have, not exactly radical black liberation, but kind of a caricature of it. maybe liberation with a healthy dose of vengeance. if you’re #teamkillmonger, and you’re not an authoritarian, the instant he says “the new wakandan empire,” every single hair on the back of your arms should have shot up and said NOPE. so i’m immediately skeptical of reviewers who call this movie a slag on black liberation because he’s not that, he’s another imperialist, just carrying a vibranium banner.

the movie doesn’t ask you to choose him. it also doesn’t ask you to choose the sort of neoliberal conclusion t’challa settles on. it merely asks you to consider: does killmonger have a point? does he have several points? where does he go too far? same for t’challa. check out the white guy’s place in this story: does it look familiar to other movies to you? how’d you feel about the nationalism behind the guards that protected killmonger until it was clear t’challa wasn’t dead? really? whoever is on the throne? i don’t think this movie so much has a message, which is the brilliance of it. it merely reflects the very best–and the very worst–of several possible perspectives, and asks you to consider, or not, if you so choose.

(i for the record was on team nakia from the minute we met her and lupita n’yongo is so goddamn good in this movie holy shit. go find a review that talks about how important this movie’s women are.)

and i watched three billboards outside ebbing, missouri

and i sort of hated it? it’s a very compelling movie with outstanding performances of terrible people whose terribleness is never justified by the movie in a meaningful way. two things.

1: this movie relies heavily on the junior-highest idea of how TV reporting works i have ever seen. throw your “in this reporter’s opinion” line in the shredder, imagine a world where news outlets ask you for comment before airing a story about you, and in general, shut the hell up.

2: if someone asked me to explain how white people deal with bigotry and awfulness, i would just watch this movie with them. because they simply don’t. they call it out when it’s extremely blatant, even then do nothing, and then ignore it when the racist/homophobe/abuser/whateveryouwant are on your side about something. at least peter dinklage’s dwarf character taking abuse all movie culminates in him walking away the only damn white person in this whole town deserving your support, and he knows it, and he makes sure she knows it. and it’s real hard for the argument to be “yes this is all the point” when the movie itself just disregards graphic domestic violence, punctuates it with a joke, moves along like nothing happened. when the casual fslurs in this movie are neither deserved nor warranted nor even directed at anyone on screen–they’re just there, i guess to remind me i don’t belong in this town? when even the black characters in this movie are either no-dimensional plot devices or themselves victims of racist overpolicing, which is pretty much ignored. sure, lady burns down the station, but the guy who threw her friend in jail without bond over two joints is LITERALLY IN THE CAR WITH HER DRIVING TO IDAHO. AND SHE DOESN’T CARE. AND NEITHER DOES THE MOVIE.


and i watched annihilation.

so that movie… was… a trip and a half. if you aren’t familiar with the source material (i wasn’t myself) then i need you to understand the marketing is goddamn terrible. just terrible. this movie is a trippy sci fi adventure. and it is at many points, deeply demented. there’s one spook in here that i an atheist can only characterize as demonic. it usually isn’t but it has a couple of moments where it is graphic and not easy to watch. i was not expecting this level of descent into madness from the marketing, so you might not be either.


if you’re into dark, heady scifi, intricately worked themes, weird natalie portman movies, and you’re fine with a couple sequences of really screwed up imagery, (but not looking for like a horror movie), this movie is for you. it’s really smart. it’s not great, and i’ll splain why, but it’s very good. it’s visually stunning. but you can’t shut your brain off. you gotta keep up with the theming and what’s going on. if you can’t do that or if you get squeamish about super-twisted shit, it’s not for you, it will just be like a bad acid trip.

spoilers to follow.

i really think the key to understanding this movie lies in one line said by the leader/psychologist. okay look i cant remember all (any?) of the names in this movie. so here is who i will refer to:

the leader: the team leader. dr v-something i think. the psychologist with cancer.
natalie portman’s character.
tessa thompson’s self-harm survivor.
bear-lady: the other white lady who gets eaten by a bear.
enya: the addict whose name i misheard as enya and never got that out of my head.

when natalie portman accosts the team leader about why she thinks her husband signed up for a suicide mission, the team leader explains precisely what the shimmer represents in (95% of) this movie [para.]: “a suicide mission? do you think that’s what this is? people confuse suicide with self-destruction. almost no one commits suicide. almost all of us self-destruct.”

the shimmer is, for the vast majority of this movie, not just a “prism that refracts DNA.” it’s an exploration into self-destruction. when people self-destruct they do crazy stuff that makes no sense. each member of the all-female team go on some symbolic journey of self-destruction in the shimmer, and the film’s job is poking at why they do what they do, and at what happens to them.

i’ll start with the leader, she’s easy. she has terminal cancer and is not fighting it. she’s dying, she knows she’s dying, and when she reaches the lighthouse, she’s just gives in and melts away. the psychologist has decided she is going to face death head on and see what it holds for her. so she goes into the shimmer, to the source of it all, and is consumed. she doesn’t fight ever. she keeps watch, she remains cautious and vigilant, and then, is consumed. she could fight this, but she chooses not to. she faces it. she says herself that the lifestyle choices we make are a form of self-destruction.

bear-lady has the most tragic of the five’s backstories. she lost a young daughter to some disease or something, it doesn’t really matter exactly, she’s just totally blindsided by a crushing life event and, in her own words, “it’s like I lost myself too,” that’s not verbatim but she describes just not being her anymore in the wake of this loss. so what happens to her in the shimmer is pretty much exactly this. she’s blindsided by a bear in the dark and killed before anyone can do anything. but she isn’t gone. the horror she’s gone through comes back in the GOD DAMN DEMONIC PIGBEAR EATING HER VOICE OMG THAT WAS CREEPS. she is gone, she has been totally destroyed, and yet, she still exists, still is alive through this DEMONBEAR I REBUKE YOU. she becomes a shell of that horror, and that’s pretty much it. it meshes, maybe not seamlessly, but decently enough her money line that we started this paragraph with. a sudden, random catastrophe has left her feeling like nothing but a horrid, shrieking voice of agony. is that self destruction? not exactly. she doesn’t choose this. but sometimes this path chooses us.

we can’t talk about bear-lady without talking about enya, who, claps for movie including a gay (?) woman of color and that not mattering at all. like she makes a joke hoping for some Natalie Time, doesn’t get it, and we just move along with our lives. it doesn’t play into her story, it’s just who she is. representation!! anyway, i think she had been clean from whatever her addiction was for 10 months in this movie. but then things get traumatic. she loses someone she’s close (?) to, and she starts to become unhinged. she accuses everyone, natalie portman specifically, of actually killing bear-lady. and that’s when the I SAID I REBUKE YOU, PIGBEARDEMON, comes calling, sounding like an old friend… but only bringing destruction. which is one way how a relapse can work. this metaphor was little heavy handed for me, but it’s also the clearest for it, it works the best.

tessa… who i have now seen in two (2) movies and am quickly joining her team, she rocks, and she is here portraying a self-harm survivor who now hides the cliched forearms covered in scars. her path is kind of beautiful to me. i’ll mention this role is tough for me to write about because, heh, wonder why i stopped wearing shorts around high school? so she’s also ultra-smart and walks around the shimmer with a sort of air of wonder about her. that gets her in trouble quickly, when she goes in the house in the swamp and gets attacked by the super-alligator thing because she has no urgency. she still asks for help though. after that cursed creature kills enya, the very next scene, tessa is outside with her arms exposed for the first time. after going through that trauma, she’s not hiding this part of her anymore, she has chosen to embrace it. “she wants to face [the shimmer],” she tells natalie portman. “you want to fight it. i don’t want either of those things.” she’s explored this path of self-destruction and decided she’s ready to embrace it. so she rubs some shimmer-grass into her arms and walks away, mutating in front of our eyes into something else. something new. i’m very grateful to have gotten to see her in this role because it’s written well and she kinda kills it, and it’s super duper meaningful to me in a way languge fails. i have no more metaphor analysis because of the last reason.

so that leaves natalie, and the end of the movie, and my gripes. [dramatic, creepy trombone]

so after the leader rolls credits and explodes, a big floating ball appears. natalie stares into it and a drop of blood is pulled into it from her face. you know that expression “staring into the abyss,” and how it looks back into you?

lets back up. the movie reveals in flashbacks that her husband, special forces, is never home. so sometimes, she’s boinking a coworker. one day, she ends it with him, and tells him that her husband (kane) knows about them. we also see through various bits of film discovered by the team that kane slowly descended into madness himself and eventually blew himself up with a phosphorous grenade, on a mission he left without warning for, a day early. we’re left to wonder whether maybe he chose to leave early because he found out–the timeline isn’t clear. he describes himself being completely eaten up inside, and it’s by mutation from the shimmer, but his wife’s betrayal may be leading him down a path of self-destruction that leads him here, to the lighthouse. he’s filmed and replaced by some sort of mimic, and that’s who natalie was introduced to in the first act. an echo of him. not him–clearly not him. just, something like him.

this version of him, like an unbidden memory, jumps suddenly back into her life. she had taken him for dead and grown obsessed with staying in their bedroom when she wasn’t working. she wouldn’t even hang out with that one coworker in her grief. but when he’s back, well now she has to find out why he went in, what happened to him. and when she finally reaches the lighthouse, she stares into the abyss, the abyss is a bitch and stares back, like it does, and she comes face to face with… a mimic of herself. for me, she didn’t just chase her husband into the shimmer to try to save him out of love. it’s just as much out of guilt. she doesn’t think he would have accepted this mission if they were just happily married. (bear-lady makes a reference to everyone on the team having a story, and specifically mentioned relationship drama.) so now, out of guilt, she defies everything in her way to go make it right, and comes face to face with…herself. she’s unable to get out of her own way and would be stuck there if she didn’t trick the mimic into killing itself with a grenade like kane did.

and that’s where the ending loses me.

killing the mimic destroys the whole shimmer…….? how? why? what happened to for example tessa, or any other people still in it? is this her “working through” her guilt? by coming face-to-face with herself and forcing herself to suffer how he did in the end? see, i would be willing to accept that if the movie just ended there, or if the last shot didn’t reveal that she isn’t exactly herself any more either, that her iris flashes gray just like the kane-mimic’s does. what??? he knows he isn’t kane because he doesn’t have kane’s memory. he’s as stunned as anyone else that he recognizes natalie portman at home. but this is natalie’s character. it’s her. we know this. she knows this. is she changed, sure, but the film implies she’s become a mimic too and that makes no damn sense. plus, her “defeating” the shimmer like some kind of final boss doesn’t make any sense either. her journey was the only one that matters? no one else’s. just hers? okay, movie. all of the theming, all of the metaphors, break down, in about ten minutes. [dramatic trombone.] and then, one last thing.

i love benedict wong. he’s great and he’s wasted in this movie. but can we not include his character at all please? i’m not sure framing this narrative helps, and his character seems to exist only to dumb down and explain the movie. there’s a moment where natalie refuses to tell him something because it made no sense, like “i don’t have to explain this to you,” and he insists. “yes. you do.” then we go through this big extravagant ending, all of these metaphors finally come to a head, and then the movie gives us…benedict wong. “SO IT WAS ALIENS?” “yeah,” natalie agrees. “it was aliens.” it’s as if the movie wants to assure you that if you don’t want it to be, the movie doesn’t have to be that deep. it can just be a trippy ride about a bubble that magically makes your DNA combine with trees and stuff because aliens. y’all, that movie would be GARBAGE.

i call producer meddling on this character, and i call producer meddling on this ending. from what mrs was able to find out online, in the source material the shimmer doesn’t get destroyed. natalie’s character just stays at the lighthouse, colonel kurtz style. and that fucking works a whole lot better than her defeating the shimmer does. but it doesn’t feel complete in the same way. it doesn’t feel like the journey has an end, because the hero does not come home. it isn’t easy to understand, and that’s why i call producer meddling, either that or fundamental lack of understanding of this aspect of the source material.

but yeah it’s a really clever film, stunning, dark as shit and not date material, but you should see it if you’re into such things.

this comes about a week after i saw it. actually exactly a week.

i’m probably going to talk in this one more about OG jumanji than about this version because i think the new one is better. you should not expect spoilers.

i absolutely adored this movie. it’s not exactly a sequel, it’s not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it’s more, ah… a re-imagining. jumanji in the 90s is an ancient board game, so jumanji in 2017 (set at first in 1996) is an atari cartridge, which is a perfect analogue. it has very clear rules, which are pretty absurd, i won’t lie, and it follows them to the absolute extent of that absurdity. every single rule the movie makes explicit leads to something, be it a key plot point or someone just… exploding (for a huge laugh). it’s funny as hell. and it’s not one sense of humor either. these are not the same jokes repeated over and over. the laughs are kept very fresh by the way the characters and cast interplay. even its dick jokes weren’t eye-rolling. there isn’t a lot of depth here–the characters aren’t beautifully-rounded portraits of human beings (although they do all grow in some way), there isn’t some overarching theme to write a thesis on how it blew your mind–in fact, turn your brain off and just have a good time.

i really don’t know what to say about the cast. karen gillan is a gem, the rock is bae, and there really isn’t much of anyone else they could have cast in this movie for this role except jack black, he is utterly perfect in every way. (i’ve seen chris hemsworth pull off something kind of similar, except he’s [long, embarrassing string of emoji] and jables looks like your spouse’s weird uncle, which mattered.) i’ve always been a little meh on kevin hart but he’s great in this. the cast kick ass. and this movie is a framed narrative, and even the cast outside the frame are good.

the only complaints i have are contained to this graph and they are mildly spoilerish (and EXTREMELY minor). warning… warning… warning… warning… didn’t care for the villain a lot. he’s pretty much just nasty and the final encounter with him wasn’t as dramatic as the setting really could have earned.

so those jokes i mentioned? they land for the entirety of the movie. start to finish. it doesn’t stop being funny when the stakes are raised. the fun for us doesn’t have to go away because shit got real for the characters. really this is just a wildly entertaining movie, and because it couldn’t give less of a shit how dumb and silly it is, it gets a solid good-good go-watch-this rating from me. this is the kind of movie i want to watch when i feel shitty. i may buy it (and i hate rewatching things). the ONLY thing i was actively disappointed by, which is different from a complaint, is that karen gillan didn’t say “bite me” at that one part. you’ll know the part. maybe she didnt because it was obvious but that was like, THE LINE. my head was SCREAMING it. “LOOK DOWN. LOOK UP. ‘BITE ME.’ DO ITTTTTT.” ah! well,

contrast this with the original jumanji, which i loved as a kid and have seen like 40 million times between the house and substitute teachers. i even had the IRL board game. (it was boring.) and yet………………………. what…. what is it? what is that movie attempting to be?

is it a comedy? then why doesn’t robin williams (pbuh) have jokes?

is it a family movie? then why is it so dark? why do adults just breeze on by when alan is getting the shit kicked out of him and his bike jacked? why does it look like the (omg that cgi is actually so bad lol) monkeys are going on a murder spree? why does everyone almost actually die somehow? why is the NRA’s wet dream in this movie?

is it a kid-thriller? then where is the suspense? we know what they need to do–just sit down and roll the dice, then pick up the game and run, and as soon as it’s safe again, do it again. stop dicking around and just do it. if it is a PG thriller why is van pelt a slapstick routine? he should be scary. he is defeated by a bar code scanner and outright squeals once.

what are the rules? it rains in the house when they roll monsoon. can they just go outside? what if they had rolled it outside? would the whole town flood? how come sometimes it just rains, but other times you roll a carniverous plant that shoots you with tranquilizers (lolwut), or murderous… seriously, were those chimps? bonobos? they look so bad it’s impossible to tell, or a fuckoff stampede that never ends (no problem if you just run perpendicular), or the Most Dangerous Game, or if you get extra unlucky, sucked physically into an actual jungle. OR MAYBE YOU JUST GET BATS LOL?

there’s a lot of similarity with what i just wrote and the honest trailer for jumanji. watch that, or don’t, see if i care, but those four minutes helped me express the little nagging “hang on” feeling i always had towards jumanji, despite loving it.

Numanji (i am not sorry and i will not apologize for that) knows exactly what it’s trying to do, and it does it well. maybe it’s easier because of the video game setting, but it also has clear rules (even if they are …random) and sticks to them. it utilizes its cast perfectly. it does a fine job taking the piss out of how dumb video games really are if you overthink them. and it even tries to bring home a motivational message without falling face first into a vat of cheese when it does so.

we grew up with jumanji as a classic, but really. numanji (still not sorry) is better. go see it. you’ll have a blast.

i completely cannot understand why this new star wars installment is dividing people so hard. this is objectively such a good movie. the spoiler free version to start with:

from a technical standpoint i don’t think it’s a stretch to say no other star wars movie can even come close to last jedi. the musical theming we have come to expect, but now the visuals, the art palletes, the cinematography, and thematic elements deeper than “go underdogs” and “go characters i like” on top of some outrageously strong acting, dialogue that mostly isn’t cheesy mumbo jumbo, and characters who have flawed motivations all coming together in conflict, resolved with so much grace. this is a really strong movie just as a movie. it’s imperfect–and i’ll list a few whines i have with it–but i like this movie a lot.

my main purpose below the Spoiler Marker won’t be to talk about the movie so much, but to look at some of those thematic elements i mentioned and wonder aloud… now what? where can the series go from here?

[this is the spoiler marker]

[seriously i’m going to drop major spoilers immediately]

[last warning]

i do want to start with those gripes though just to get them out of the way. i just saw the movie for a second time and these stuck out to me as kind of, ew.

  • i dislike how they handled leia Not Getting Killed By Kylo Ren. my suspicion is, they had planned for him to kill her in IX. that’s probably not happening now for obvious reasons, but i imagine this was some kind of force fate destiny thing. but DUDE. she’s in the vacuum of space. the moisture in her skin is flash freezing. she has suffocated and is dead. her flying herself back to the ship is fine–she’s obviously always been force-sensitive, just untrained–but if you have to have her survive those bombs, there has to be some other way to do it. like she clearly knew what was about to happen. she could feel kylo ren’s thumb hovering over the button. they could have had her brace and hang on to the controls then force-fly her way in or something and fall unconscious to asphyxia just as the door opens. this way was silly and felt bad.
  • they play fast and loose with the timeline here while making it look like everything is happening simultaneously. it can’t be. several days pass on luke’s island while the resistance cruiser has like 18 hours of fuel left or something, and kylo ren mind-melds with rey on multiple days.
  • i know, the rey narration is actually coming from the next scene, when she’s looking at time stretched out in front of her while we hear her talking to kylo about it, but it’s still extremely sudden narration and very out of place here. it was jarring in a scene that’s already jarring. you over-jarred and now i am tossed out of the movie.
  • i’m torn on whether the appearance of yoda was too on the nose or brilliant and awesome. does the movie lose something without that scene? is luke motivated to force-astral-project himself across the galaxy without it?
  • i am team anti porgs. are they adorable? yes. are they a cynical ploy to woo you into buying shitty merch? also yes. is it cute and hilarious that the porgs were terrified that a giant ass wookiee had just KILLED THEIR FRIEND and was about to EAT him in front of them all? NOT AT ALL, that was sad as hell and threw me out of the movie. especially that one who was the most scared, you just slaughtered his brother and got annoyed that he was sad and terrified you were going to snack on his body, you shag monster. “isnt it a little hypocritical of you to gender the porgs” hey you know what, you try making that bullet point make sense without losing clarity in a bunch of “theys” and without turning them into nonliving things with “its”. anyway it isn’t necessary for chewbacca to take on porg pets by viscerally shaming him for eating meat and exploiting the (fictional, i will emphasize) porgs’ clear grief and mortal horror because their eyes are cute.
  • bb-8 coming out of the head of an at-st was the most “fuck you movie” moment of any of the new movies, and that includes all of the bullshit that happens in the final act of rogue one. to the director’s credit, he almost seems to apologize for this, as fin and rose look at each other like, hang on, really? dafuq? how…? but if you know it’s incredibly stupid then you could have done better. that might work in a comedy but this was a movie with fun and jokes in it and that isn’t the same thing.

now that i have bitched about continuity, magic bullshit, and porgish liberation, let’s gush.

  • wasn’t it awesome at the end when 3po was doing his godawful 3po stats line and poe told him to shut the hell up?
  • wasn’t it so funny at the beginning when poe was acting like he had a bad connection to general hux to stall for time, like usually in sci fi movies all the tech works great until the plot needs it not to for suspense, so thats a super original gag because we dont expect the idea of the tech failing?
  • wasn’t that shot of the resistance cruiser accelerating to lightspeed but hitting stoak’s ship before it reaches that point and just slicing it in half in total silence and almost monochrome jaw-dropping and amazing and the most arresting shot in any star wars movie to date easily?
  • wasn’t the crystal planet like so visually stunning?
  • wasn’t it neat when luke met up with r2d2?
  • wasn’t the “rhyme” between “the force isn’t all lifting rocks” and “ha, lifting rocks” perfect?
  • wasn’t it awesome when the mind link between rey and kylo first showed up and rey was like hey its you i hate you and kylo was just like, bemused, like, oh, huh, what’s going on here?
  • wasn’t the fight scene they shared badass and stoak’s death a great way for both kylo to not turn, because he is following the sith tradition of defeating your master, and also rey to trust he was going to, and THIRD to set up said badass fight scene which was great and fun to watch and made kylo ren trust rey was going to turn with him?
  • wasn’t adam driver amazing in this movie in general?
  • wasn’t the banter between hux and kylo ren great?
  • wasnt it awesome when poe acted to the new general whose name i cant remember (she had purple hair and i spent both entire watches of the movie wishing she had been played by jewel staite, not that this actress was bad or anything) like he was entitled to answers and she just shut him down hard?
  • dont you want more of the obviously untold backstory between her and leia?

Exhale, steph.

i’m ranking this movie 3rd in my star wars power rankings.
1. IV
2. V
4. Rogue one
5. VII
6. VI
7. III
the shit one. I
we don’t talk about that one. II

okay, so now to that thematic thing.

star wars hasn’t really had anything to say about the world before. galaxy? world, screw it. it’s never been about nothing–it’s been about lots of things, but it’s never really made commentary before. that all changes with the side plot that people who aren’t thinking too hard about the movie consider a red herring.

fin and rose go to canto bight, aka the wokening of the fin

let’s sum what’s going down here. fin and rose take a little transport through hyperspace (….k) to the playground of the ultra-wealthy: a casino and resort on canto bight. that’s where they’re going to find a master hacker to come save their day. we aren’t told why that moz or whatever person thinks he will agree to help them, but they’re pretty desperate, so you may as well go for it. they park at random on a beach. this isn’t any other place, this is canto bight–someone owns that land, and you didn’t pay them cash to sit your ship there, so you’re now guilty of criminal trespass. rose is not looking forward to this place, but fin gets there and is like blown away, this is opulent and fabulous. i mean, he’s just a stormtrooper, so the line we get is “wow, this place is great” but you know. they step outside and she explains she came from a planet where she was of a slave, child labor caste. their masters got uberrich by selling what her people mined out of the ground. we see some child laborers in that shot, but they aren’t yet important, what’s important is the uhhhhhh dog-cat-horse-goats standing in for quarterhorses on this planet. they’re held against their will and cruelly forced to do something pointless so someone else can profit. this isn’t just a casual animal liberation subplot, the creatures are a symbol of rose’s people. she reveals that most of these people got their wealth from selling arms to the fascUH ahem the first order, and that’s the last piece to fall into place for fin, he decides… you know what, you’re right, these people sit on a throne of blood and lies. then they get arrested.

what happens next is important. they don’t get to meet their master codebreaker, but they do casually run into someone else who can do the job. (hacker ex machina?) he gets them out of their cell and they escape, immediately finding themselves where? the horse-dog-goat-cat stables. that symbol of the oppressed from earlier. now we meet the child laborers of canto bight, and this is the crux: rose explains to the kid who they are, and then they set the goat-dog-cat-horses free, smashing the shit out of the casino on the way, in a manner that would have made a black bloc proud. fin is still a little naive. “it was worth it to hurt them,” he says, but come on, these folks are gonna be fine. and then hacker-ex-machina re-appears, and they have no choice but to put their trust in him.

unfortunately, you can’t put your trust in anyone from this world. hacker-ex-machina helps them because the price is right, and then the next time the price is right, he helps their enemies. money is all that matters to these people, and who gets hurt along the way is just an unfortunate cost of doing business. it does get revealed that capitUH (Cough) canto bight people are funding both sides of the war to generate perpetual profit for themselves a little earlier. hacker-ex-machina uses that fact to say look, there are no good or bad guys. finn calls that bullshit and he says, hm, i may be wrong, who cares? i got mine, nothing matters, good luck with getting executed!

what, the hell, is an anti-capitalist subplot doing in a big budget Disney movie? let’s let rose and leia explain.

fin tries to valkyrie himself into the battering cannon. rose shoves him out of the laser’s path. why? “we won’t win by fighting what we hate. we’ll win by saving what we love.” then they kiss and there’s an explosion and sparks behind them and oh my god groanerino, but that line, combined with leia’s last–that between the people in the millenium falcon, they have all they need to spark a new rebellion–explains exactly what that angle is doing here.

in the final shot of the movie the child laborers are dicking around, playing Resistance Soldier, when some boss alien is like hey back to work. the kid goes to grab his broom. it flies to meet his palm–the kid’s force sensitive, look at that. and he shows us he still has rose’s ring with the rebel emblem. and after faking a little sweeping, he lowers that broomstick like a light saber. these kids are going to grow up into adults who resist.

what the last jedi uses this “red herring” subplot to set up is a universe where neither the rebellion nor the empire, neither the resistance nor the first order, can ever truly win, because they’re both profit machines for the ultra-wealthy that can’t exist without the other, without the two in balance. it’s the never ending exploitative struggle between worker and owner that’s behind all this, and not only can we not trust someone from that world to help us, we don’t even need them. the resistance must fend for itself. and it will fend for itself, and it will grow, not by destroying a force clearly more physically powerful than it, but by helping the people, building solidarity with the people, proving to the people that the resistance has their backs, until the people outnumber the forces that would step on them, exploit them and their work, and stop them living their own lives in the name of money and power. star wars VIII is revolutionary canon, yall, and the next time i’m feeling TIRED, i’ma hear the late (goddammit) carrie fisher in my ear: “we have everything we need.”

so yeah, that’s all buried in a movie about space lasers and lightspeed and john williams music. and none of that even begins to touch on kylo ren’s obsession with letting go of the past or how none of this movie would have happened and everyone would be safe if the new resistance leadership just talked to each other. we could expound on that for another–good lord, thats a lot of words. let’s stop this here. this movie owns. publish button.

what is the most important gripe i’ve had with the thor movies: they are brooding and boring.

marvel heard me loud and clear.

thor ragnarok is a hell of a lot of fun. visually it’s gorgeous. it’s actually about something other than “omg look at the stakes!!!” the dialog is great. the story is preposterously silly and it knows it. finally a thor movie brought us more of interest than “chris hemsworth is at least 13/10” and i am here for it.

as always, i don’t know anything about the source comics. i have read before about the norse ragnarok story. i don’t remember it very well except there’s a god of death called something like Hel and a giant wolf that eats… the sun? something like that. it was cool to see some nods to that, like Hela having the giant wolf, which is NOT explained otherwise.

normally this is the point where i start warning you about spoilers, but i really don’t know how spoilery this will be. i’ll try to keep it light. i just want to talk about why i liked a movie featuring characters i’m not super fond of so much. don’t expect it to be organized or make sense. the movie’s pretty dumb, but it knows how dumb it is, and the ride is a blast. overdone rebirth/hero’s journey story or not, you should check it out. don’t miss.

  • it was pretty clear from the opening scene that the characters were following the old “making a prophecy happen by trying to prevent it” cliche. it was interesting to see this movie’s take on that, and how the characters kind of react to it.
  • the overarching plot is an apocalypse story. we see actual gods trying to either destroy a universe or stop that from happening. absurd and ridiculous. it’s such a silly idea. thank you for making this movie be equally silly.
  • jeff goldblum remains a national treasure. he was outstanding in this movie. protect jeff goldblum at all costs.
  • the MCU has written the hulk basically out of relevance. tony stark is just as smart as bruce banner, and thor, an iron man robot, and the vision can each do anything hulk can do without all the collateral damage. i like that he escaped to a world that accepts him, that we actually got some hulk dialog, and that we actually explored the “anger” of hulk a little bit. anger IRL is usually a response to perceived threat. bruce banner being vulnerable and stressed out makes perfect sense, and the hulk as his protector? yes.
  • i don’t know how many people had to ok the name of the wormhole to asgard. but they all took a giant risk and damn does it work, lol.
  • i mentioned the dialog being great. that’s cause it’s great. super natural, very witty, loved it. i’ve heard a whole lot of it is ad-libbed and that makes a ton of sense. let the actors really inhabit those characters and be–well, as real as possible. quit forcing quips on us. joss. chris hemsworth is funny as hell in several other roles, and that angle of him really shines here. speaking of the dialog the grandmaster insists on referring to his slaves as “prisoners with jobs” because he doesn’t like “the S word.” which, i appreciated the shit out of, because (motions at The 13th).
  • the scene with the valkyrie attacking hela was eye-poundingly stunning. it’s like a renaissance painting. extremely, extremely good scene.
  • i also appreciate the history of asgard being lain bare. odin didn’t just become ruler of the 9 realms by being a benevolent overlord. they conquered that shit, and then when he decided he was tired of that life he kicked out the goddess of death and painted over all the monuments to his brutal past. that seemed a little familiar too. (:
  • the main villain of this movie is a woman. she isn’t bitchy. she isn’t an ice queen. she isn’t a seductress. she is just more powerful than you and you are between her and her goals, so you can fall in line or die now, you have three seconds to decide. cate blanchett owned the screen but the character they gave her made it possible.
  • thor’s new mjollnirless lightning powers seem a little OP. little worried how that plays into future avengers films.
  • oh, and as a last thought, the doctor strange cameo was hilarious. “i have been falling for 30 minutes” hahaha

i just


ok. im good. we’re good.

guardians 2 is in danger of usurping winter soldier as my favorite of the marvel movies. it has a couple of flaws, which we’ll get to spoilerlessly, and it has a couple of themes that cut the shit out of me, which we will also get to as obliquely as we can before i dive into the spoilers. the problem is, all my complaints are non spoilers, and most of what made me love this film IS spoilers, so, if you stop at the spoiler line your impression may come away overly negative. i loved this movie. we critique because we love.

for starters its absolutely gorgeous. the full spectrum is on display here. apart from the opening scene (well, the Guardians’ opening scene), this is a 3D movie that didn’t engage in gratuitous 3D for its own sake. it’s a very funny movie, although it also spares absolutely no toilet joke, which grates on the nerves quickly, but mercifully goes away. i’d actually say the whole first act is a little rough around the edges. the screenplay could have used a “dont do that” person in the first few scenes and would benefit nicely.

it was a really mixed bag for that first act. you would laugh out loud and then, oog, cool, another pee joke, thanks. there would be an excellent raw moment from a character and then, immediately, something over the top. i understand that for example drax’s point is to be over the top, but good lord, that forced laughter was unbearable the 50,000th time in ten minutes. tough to point at other things without spoiling. and honestly, it was like the movie didn’t know how old its audience was for a while. several times, characters would pointedly stop at “sonuva,” and the worst insult was “douchebag.” but when shit goes down, we can actually finish “sonuvabitch,” and people can swear, and it’s fine. it’s weirdly fun and glib about killing lots of people too. i dunno. it was weird tonally in the first 45 minutes or so.

anyway, when the movie finally gets on with itself, we get just as complete a character arc for #Trashpanda rocket and, weirdly enough, karen gillan’s nebula, as we do for peter himself. peter and rocket’s stories pay off in outstanding fashion for me. what a dope couple of story lines. nebula/gamora pays off less than the other two, but some of that is because of the nature of nebula’s character honestly. she’s just been made to be so cut off and distant that when she finally gets the spoiler she wants she just doesn’t know how to handle it, other than to continue her obsession with killing thanos. it’s real hard for me to relate to is the problem with it. i imagine not a lot of us had titans for fathers who had their children fight for sport. i’m also an only child. shrug.

the final act is just excellent. everything about it is great. i felt like i was watching an A++ final boss battle in some vidya. loved every second of it. any detail would be a spoiler. just trust me the last half hour owns so hard you guys.

it deals with themes of love and hope and acceptance in a way i never expected. it was funny and silly and saturated and somehow, moving. i just wish there wasnt this weird tonal thing going on in the first half and that the bathroom humor was toned down several notches.

anyway, this movie was in the aggregate hilarious, extremely smart in its pacing and themes, beautiful to look at, and beautiful to experience. you should see it and the spoilers start in 3… 2…


okay so i haven’t googled yet. are the christians panning this movie as being about killing god yet? a quick search hasn’t revealed anything so i’m assuming probably not. that surprises me. if harry potter is satanic, certainly so is blowing up the brain of even “a god, little g.” maybe it’s because ego bears no resemblance to the abrahamic god. he’s more of a zeus. he’s certainly the embodiment of his namesake. YOU ARE ALL BELOW ME, AND THERE SHALL BE NOTHING THAT IS NOT ME! hahaha.

so i’ma unwrap the layers here. at the most basic point, this is a victory for humility, chosen family, and sacrifice over egotism. that’s obvious. of course, the humble self-sacrificers are also some murderers and thieves and scoundrels, so the morality play is thin, but that’s what’s there okay?

but that isn’t what really slayed me here. when ego says, for some, unknown, complete idiot reason, that he gave his lover cancer, that he killed her so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back to her anymore, peter rejects him on the spot. that’s fairly predictable. we would figure peter would be anti-killers of his mom. but it’s a little bit more than that.

really often in movies and TV, especially when any element of fantasy is involved, the characters are made to fulfill some destiny. they are becoming who they were supposed to be. that is what it is, it isn’t necessarily a bad or a good thing, but where guardians 2 started throwing dust around the room was when peter rejects all this. he could be a demigod. he could be immortal. WE COULD RULE THE GALAXY, TOGETHER, FATHER AND SON. but peter rejects that. he doesn’t need your destiny. he doesn’t need to be who you think he’s supposed to be. he values his chosen family over his real one because that’s who has actually been there for each other, and that’s real, not this power thing. not this “blood family” who rejects what he values and who he wants to be.

the protagonists of these movies have always been a ragtag misfit band. they come together because they really have nobody else. i’ve been there, man, and there is no tighter bond than the folks who stick together, because the only thing they have in common, is they’re the only people who don’t reject each other. when nebula says “you’re not friends. all you do is yell at each other,” and drax brings the theme home with a sledgehammer because no other character can deliver this cheese with actual seriousness, “no, we’re not. we’re family.” when the people who are supposed to be the closest in your life reject who you are, you cling to those who embrace you for who you are, oddities and perfections and lumps all alike. the ones for whom, all the devils that they don’t know can come along for the ride. in a world where families have only recently started to quit rejecting their queer and trans kids, where trans women are murdered regularly, where gay men are rounded up and tortured in chechnya, in a world where foreigners are expelled and killed and sentenced to death by exile without a fuck given, this is a timely-ass theme and i am here for it.

feel like i need a minute to recover even just talking about it lol. i didnt expect this movie to hug me but here we are. thanks, movie.

the other great arc was the one where rocket grows up. i did not expect yondu to have such a major role in this movie. his redemption story is nice. that the other ravagers or whatever they’re called all showed up to his funeral, yeah, very good, very touching. has half the weight if the movie didn’t draw parallels between yondu and rocket, and also has less weight if the movie didn’t make those parallels clear to rocket himself. the first point of this theme is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. no matter what the universe has made you climb. someone else has been there before.

thats a nice thing to say in a movie but it’s not like it hasn’t been done before or anything. but this movie takes yondu through his redemption arc so that rocket, who seems to have seen himself beyond saving, can see it. yondu has to do something so truly heroic as dying to save the life of his adopted son-ish, because it was necessary to bring all the ravagers or whatever back. to make them proud of him again after they exiled him for being a scumbag. or was it not enough of a scumbag? either way, yondu certainly met exile with “well i’m trash anyway so let’s just get on with it.” the ravagers or whatever came to his viking funeral, displaying their respect for what he did, showing how proud they were, and there’s rocket. he sees that even when yondu was exiled from those people, he was still counted among them. they sent him away for his actions and even mutinied, but ultimately, he was redeemable because they never sent him away for who he was. rocket keeps shoving everybody away like yondu did, and now he sees that while people may not want to be around his lashing out, he still has value, he can still even be honored among them. and there’s a single tear. “oh, don’t do that,” i thought, as the dust blowing out of the vents suddenly mixed with freshly cut onions.

this is a movie about the importance of chosen family, about triumph over people who would have you be something you are not and don’t want to be, about acceptance, a movie that says you, whoever you are, hi! you have value. it’s somehow at the same time a movie that punches eugenicists in the face. in 2017, it’s a movie we sorely needed. and it’s delivered with all the fun, flair, and panache we came to expect from the first guardians movie. god damn i think i’ve talked myself into elevating this movie to the #1 from marvel spot, but i’ll need another watch to make sure.