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this will be filled with major plot spoilers. if you’re here trying to decide whether to go see the movie, go see the stupid movie. it’s good. you’ll love it.

*hillary shimmy* hoo! okay.

rogue one is in the upper tier of star wars films. 7 was better, but it’s better than 6. i am open to placing it equal to or even above 7 upon more viewingses.that makes the tier order 1. New Hope/Empire per your own personal preference, 2. Force Awakens, 3. Rogue One, 4. Jedi, 5. monday morning meetings, 6. revenge of the sith, 7. getting a root canal, 8. groan wars/phantom grimace.

i struggled with the first act or so a little bit, which might have been the movie and might have been that i wasn’t properly caffeinated yet. we’ll see when i see it again. which, i’m totally seeing it again at least once.

the best part is, rogue one is here to help fix star wars in general. every time i’ve watched the original movie, i’ve been bugged a little bit more by a nagging plot hole: how can such a gargantuan and well-engineered thing as the death star have a dumb little flaw like that? i’d always assumed the rebels could only have gotten the death star plans from a defector, but how there’s such a gaping flaw just boggled the mind.

enter this movie. an unwilling engineer to the project built the death star to be vulnerable to attack on its exhaust port and then was himself the defector who told the rebellion where the flaw was (through giving them the plans and hinting at it in his hologram). pow. plot hole closed. rogue one is a top-flight star wars movie simply on the basis of making the OG star wars even better.

so anyway, i think part of what made this movie a little tough for me to get into was the bewildering array of names and locations it throws at you in about ten minutes of screen. (imdb for spelling) enter Galen and Jyn Erso, Cassian, Saw Gerrera, K2, Jedha and three other planets, you’re just tossed in here. i’m down to just be tossed in to a universe, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little confusing and the barrage of locations made me barely remember any of them.

the movie really comes into its own for me when jyn, on jedha, encounters the hologram of her dad. i dont understand what made saw gerrera decide “nah you go i’ll just chill here and die” but other than that it’s tough to have much complaints about the rest of the story. hell, the good guys don’t even live to tell the tale. that was outright arresting. there’s no ex machina to swoop in and save jyn and cassian on the beach? they just… they win, but are left in an impossible situation, and just… the movie lets them die?

do you guys understand how bold that is? hollywood heroes always live to the end credits. no matter how positive you are they’re toast. killing off characters not only prevents $equel$, it’s emotionally risky. you’re either going to make the viewer sad, or you’re not, and the latter means they didn’t connect to your characters. it means you failed. when the stormtroopers shred k2 i figured that was the token Good Guy Death since he was after all a robot, even if he was robot alan tudyk. then the movie immediately shows me they died for something, when stunning young carrie fisher lookalike ingvild deila (with some post-effects help of course) gets the plans, says something nice about hope, and we know what’s going to happen from there. to kill the main characters like that, the movie has to first a) make you understand them, b) make you like them, c) make you attach to them, and then d) take them from you, but show it wasn’t in vain. it’s a bold move, a confident move, and it worked brilliantly.

the only thing i would change is probably the rest of the ending. i’d find a way for the battle at the end to blend seamlessly into the beginning of episode 4. i really thought that’s what was happening when vader said to assemble a boarding party, and when it wasn’t, felt let down (and then remembered that the planet they were around was totally not tatooine). maybe leia’s ship immediately blasts to anywhere in hyperspace, any rim system to try to avoid detection, but somehow the star destroyer follows them, leia tells r2d2 she needs to record a message, and roll credits. idk it needs work but i am also not getting paid trillions of dollars to write movies either.

oh and let’s not forget that c3po found a way to worm his stupid ass into the movie for exactly 10 seconds, which he spent WHINING, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD FOR NOTHING ELSE. i’d delete that too.

sitting here trying to think of what else to say, it strikes me how powerful rogue one really was. it feels like SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED when really there’s just a prologue and 3 distinct acts.

P. galen gets taken
1. jyn comes to the rebellion
2. galen gets killed
3. the assault on the archives

that’s it. that’s the movie. it’s so simple. just a couple of really big events move jyn erso from Fuck Everyone And Your Cause, to dying for it. it only really takes one big event for cassian to go from I’m Just Following Orders to disobeying outright for his conscience. these are effective and make sense, not giant leaps like jyn discovering cassian’s dad was also called galen or something. (i will seriously never forgive bvs.) character arcs move more in two hours than they do in many movies that stretch on for ages. and that’s why rogue one is the prequel we all deserved, man. imagine character work like this around anakin and obi-wan, instead of… trade routes… and monologues about sand. i can’t wait to see this thing again and pick up on all the little things i didn’t catch the first time around. and i hope we get more little side-stories like this in the intervening time  between real star wars movies, and maybe even after as long as they stay good. the universe has a TON of untapped stories to tell. if KOTOR taught us anything it’s that.

attached trailer reviews: all garbo except hidden figures, and even that i don’t have any need to see in theaters. give to netflix pls.

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i haven’t written about any movies in a while so i figured the best time to do that again was at 1am on a saturday/sunday. (and publish at 2:30 bc why not i can’t sleep anyway.) about a week ago i saw the new benedict cumberbatch vehicle. actually, i love everyone in this cast. sherlock, and the operative from firefly, and i’ve had an embarrassingly big crush on rachel mcadams since red eye and etc. you should expect minor spoilers here but nothing game breaking.

it’s impossible to remember any of the names in this movie, so i will refer to the following characters:

  • doctor strange
  • the ancient one
  • rachel mcadams’s character
  • chiwetel’s ejiofor’s character
  • the bad guy
  • the evil god-thing
  • wong

Short, spoiler free review: I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. tilda swinton was great. chiwetel was great. benedict wong, as “wong,” was outstanding. his beyonce gag made me almost choke laughing. rachel was good but didn’t get the screen time i expect SMART DIRECTORS to GIVE HER. cumberbatch was very good but his accent came and went a little. it was very very not boring and i had fun. the visuals were overdone at times, and the entire plot is only possible because of two extremely stupid decisions.

Longer, spoiler-light review:

i didn’t know anything about this comic universe at all going into the movie. that’s not uncommon but i’ve at least heard of most marvel properties. doctor strange is a new one to me. it starts by asking a deep, dark, and heavy question as top-of-his-game neurosurgeon Strange murders his own hands by driving like an arrogant moron: what do you do now?

instead of answering that question in any sane way, instead the movie explores different themes, like making an everlasting (positive) impact on the world. strange can’t keep working on his new surgical techniques now, but he can become some magical mystic warrior. just because one thing was taken away, the movie says, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep on in other ways. strange himself just never really addresses that. after about halfway through the film his hands are just never mentioned again. do they get better? that was his plan – learn to heal them like the paralyzed dude did – but when he accepts his new…role?… we forget that plotline completely.

mentioning the paralyzed dude brings me to the first extremely stupid decision.

strange can’t save earth from This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell without using the pendant thing. he can’t use the pendant thing without studying under the ancient one, who he first has to find. he can’t find her if the formerly-paralyzed dude doesn’t decide for some reason to give him the time of day, even though they have a history (very small world here). and he can’t find paralyzed dude if his rehab tech doesn’t seriously and egregiously violate HIPAA. i’m not kidding. this made me actually angry in the theater.  you can’t just go tell your patient about another patient just because he’s also in the medical field and a right prick and you want to make a middle finger of a point. there’s no medical reason for him to reveal that patient’s case to strange, who does not have permission to see that file, which means if someone found out he could face, i shit you not, $50,000 in each civil and criminal fines and up to a year in jail, let alone getting fired from more than just your job. no matter how frustrating a patient is, no rehab therapist is going to commit career suicide and risk prison to make a point. get all the way out of here.

also, This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell is getting annoying. please god let there not be a portal to another galaxy/plane/universe/dimension/whateverthehell in black panther. this goes back to the avengers at least and has to stop.

anyway. this movie was cool and different in a lot of ways. when the ancient one says “it doesn’t have to make sense” that explains exactly the way you need to look at this movie. people wave their arms around and MAGIC BULLSHIT HAPPENS and it doesn’t make any sense, with the sole exception that you need a sling-ring to make a portal. given how much appears to happen without those, that’s a strange and arbitrary rule in a universe that otherwise has none. but i had a lot of fun trying to figure out what was going on, and watching crazy fight sequences that defy Euclidean three-dimensional space, and correctly predicting what the cape was going to do when i saw it move the first time.

the trouble is sometimes the visuals get all of the way out of hand. strange’s first encounter with the ancient one is the worst offender here. he flies around and sees shit. what shit? whatever tilda swinton wants him to see, and how does he see it, like is he there, or is he astral projecting, or is she bringing it here, and how come she can throw him across time and space and back again with a shove but it takes a sling ring to make a teleport? that scene was overwhelmingly visually confusing to the point of being almost unwatchable. it was weird for the sake of weirdness.

i understand what it was trying to do, but something can be bewildering without being toss-you-out-of-the-movie visually confusing. the dark zone or whatever the evil god-thing’s house was called was kind of the same way, but not because it looked confusing, more like the texturing and lighting budget all went into Earth scenes and then it came time to add this and only one artist was left for the whole thing. like, it didn’t look bad exactly, just, like CGI, while the whole rest of the movie has wrapped entire buildings around dimensions you and i don’t exist in and looked amazing.

sounds like i’m whining a lot but i really did enjoy this movie. i told my coworkers it was “okay” and then had to quickly remind them of how i generally feel about movies for them to realize that was an actual endorsement. (these are people who don’t think thor 2 is boring because he fine. like, yeah, would without thinking twice, but google is for that.) kinda feels the same here as i am about to yell a lot at the bad guy in my lewis blackest voice.

hey asshole. and all other assholes in movies about magic spells and stuff.

and listen close, this is important.

if you need.
a spell.
from a book.
break in to the library.
and kill people.
to steal a spell.
in a book.
a physical book.
if you have to do that.
take the fucking book! not a page! don’t rip out a page and leave the book behind, you world-class moron. how can doctor strange stop your plan if he can’t learn the spells to do it in the book you took the spell from? why take the extra time to find the spell you want and tear it out – carefully, don’t destroy it – when you can just take
the whole
book

so yeah that was extremely stupid decision number two. bad guy takes a page out of a book instead of the whole book is an ugly movie cliche that makes no sense at all. happens right off the hop and made me think “oh god here we go.” but like i’ve said repeatedly the movie redeemed itself pretty fast. it’s really good when it gets out of its own way. wong is a treat, everyone else is awesome, try not to think about physics at all, and enjoy the trip.

when i saw the trailer for jason bourne during the superbowl i eee’d so hard dogs in a three state radius started barking. this is one of my favorite movie franchises, and while the 4th movie was not that bad honestly, matt damon IS jason bourne and having him back was the most exciting thing in the world. this iteration of the series is not the best of all of them, but i really did like it quite a lot.

below, in the spoilers, is thoughts.

this was a slower pace for a bourne movie. that wasn’t a bad thing, and it gave the action sequences more weight, but it was different. the mix for this film of the theme, Extreme Ways, was even slower, which was appropriate. there’s been a very mixed reaction to this movie as far as i can tell, and i wonder how much of it is this issue of unmet expectations. it’s hard to say that there’s exactly a Bad Guy in this movie, maybe apart from the Asset, just a bunch of people with conflicting motivations, which is cool and different.

bourne starts the movie saying he remembers everything and then immediately is presented with something he didn’t remember. pretty cocky, bourne. we know literally nothing about david webb, let alone his father, so the “revelation” that elder webb created treadstone was a lot less impactful than some of the other bourne revelations. he found out his son had been recruited and i guess that made him realize his program was awful and terrible because he got himself blown up for threatening to go public.

theres no way, by the way, that bourne remembers a face in a car behind his dad’s flaming van. memory is not a hard drive we can go look things up in. i’m willing to hop along for the ride and let that go because memory is infallible in a lot of movies, and it’s integral to this franchise, just a pet peeve. your memory is terrible and always reconstructed when you recall something.

tommy lee jones is excellent as director dewey and so is whoever played his protege, i think she was Lee? jason bourne is, ironically, more about their relationship and how bourne’s next big villain comes into power at the CIA than it is about bourne learning about his father and then going after those responsible. i think that works, because all the old relationships are worn out in the franchise, and you can’t keep making the same movie over and over. other people will again have let down expectations. so it goes and i don’t think your opinion is bad or wrong. so let’s follow her arc because her motivations confused some:

  • notices when jason bourne resurfaces and gets herself on the operation, presumably because it’s a really important one for the agency, for her own career path, you know. it’s against dewey’s wishes despite his fake support, but asked directly to a Real Important Suit so he has no choice.
  • leads a mission to try to bring bourne down but dewey just kind of takes over when shit gets real. this undermines her ambitions.
  • helps bourne escape a team that wanted to kill him and convinces the Real Important Suit, again in front of and against the wishes of dewey, to let her try to bring him in willingly.
  • when she tries this dewey literally has her people killed. this not only undermines her, it directly threatens her.
  • i’m not sure if she already plans to have dewey actually killed at that point or not, but she helps bourne get to vegas. she sees at this point that he’s at least malleable, and she sees more future with him than with dewey at the very least.
  • after the asset opens fire at the conference it should have become extremely clear to lee what was happening, and she was absolutely not going to stand by and let her pal the founder and CEO of Google get killed for having a conscience, even if he looked down on her decisions now. if she didn’t already want dewey dead she did now because she knew what that relationship was.
  • dewey’s last act is to try to literally steal lee’s plan to have bourne come in willingly. i don’t know how much if any of that conversation lee ex machina would have been able to hear, but it’s poetic justice that he was instantly offed for that.
  • she lobbies, and then quietly presses, the Real Important Suit who has always liked her ideas in this movie to let her take dewey’s vacated spot. she tries to bring bourne in again, which would really give him no choice to be honest, and he outclasses her. a new storyline is ready to go. the CIA director’s entire purpose for being promoted is to bring in bourne. bourne knows it, and knows they’ll turn around and decide to kill him if he refuses outright. she is set up to be the new nemesis in a future movie. YAY MORE BOURNE

the movie is called jason bourne, and has a tantalizing plot going on about whether he could have any identity outside being a badass spy assassin, but ultimately leaves those questions unanswered. even his final “let me think about it” was part of the whole outclassing Lee thing. he is trying to just find answers and “find a different way” as he tells dewey, but as dewey points out, that’s not working for him. he’s got another person at gunpoint. there was a time when he could exist independently, before marie was killed in Supremacy. this time he had to resort to the fighting ring. where he allows himself to take pretty heavy beatings sometimes just so he can stay sharp at still winning those fights. that’s training, that isn’t living. but Lee? that’s a character arc. she changes.

so who is jason bourne is left unanswered, but we learn all about the next big threat to him, who he may only define himself in opposition to. if he keeps turning her down she’ll eventually have to have him killed right?

other stuff.

yeah deep dream or whatever that tech company is called is really clearly google. imagine google+ took off to compete with facebook and that IS google. all the way down to getting its start from funding provided by US intelligence and the DoD and providing the government with information through IRONFIST erm i mean PRISM, and even the part where it outright refuses military funding, like when it pulled ATLAS and SCHAFT from the DARPA competition. The founders of Google were even Stanford grads for chrissakes, just like this guy whose name wasn’t Alex Killorn but that’s what i always heard. anyway, there’s extremely heavy-handed theme work done in these side plots about freedom vs. privacy, but i was too busy enjoying the google parallels to get too annoyed about that. and it was positively subtle next to batman v superman’s themes shouted as dialogue anyway so hey! positive steps.

the final sequences with bourne vs. asset were great i thought. the timing may not be ideal to have a scene with a swat van plowing through a crowded road with Nice having been not that long ago, but at least this was just cars. their fight was the only really visceral moment of the movie which gave it that much more impact, but it wasn’t boring in the run-up to it so it was worth it for me.

the asset himself seems a little thin of a character. he’s just some scary bogeyman. but that’s fine because he functions as a tool of dewey’s. he serves no purpose other than to do what dewey wants. when bourne finally dispatches him it’s more like tying up a loose end than anything else. it’s not the big OMG FINALLY villain engagement you see in movies like mission impossible, and while it’s maybe the final fight’s climax the movie’s climax is long past, it happened in the hotel room. i like that about this movie. others may not and their opinion is also not bad or wrong.

finally, a sour note: movie uses the Friendly Out Of Nowhere That Shoots The Guy You Thought Was Going To Shoot The Hero cliche. come on, man, you are a much better franchise than that. what the hell, this isn’t CSI: Langley. oh and while i’m on the sour note subject, in the opening scene, why is the line “use SQL to infiltrate the database” subtitled? it’s a meaningless, contextless line. “use SQL to infiltrate” is like “break in with a crowbar” being subtitled as someone visibly breaks into a warehouse. thanks tips.

jason bourne is flawed, its focus is not what you may expect, but i really liked it as a slower-paced but still exciting action movie. Ultimatum is still the best bourne movie so far, but this one was also very good.

usually these little writeups go on quite a bit. this one will not do that. spoilerinos:

SO, watched the new ghostbusters movie today and it was pretty decent! loads of fun, loads of laughs, a few jokes that fell flat. dumb as hell but come on. it’s a movie about people fighting ghosts.

based on the trailers i was little bit concerned about leslie jones’s character. we have a team of four women here, who are, initially,

  • respected physics professor
  • crank, but still, particle physics expert
  • wicked good engineer
  • subway worker who “knows the streets”

and you’ll never guess which was cast black. excuse me, my eyes rolled so hard they fell out of my head. i need to go find them. jones was awesome in the movie, as i’ll get to in a sec, but this particular casting is frustrating.

all right so i went into the theater with pretty good expectations and the first act of this movie did its damnedest to disappoint. all those jokes that fell flat that i mentioned happen in the first 20 minutes or so. before erin and abby become friends again over sharing this omg ghosts discovery, which felt pretty real even though they never then addressed this “abandoning” thing as friends (i bet they do in the deleted scenes), their barbs back and forth are just…stupid. if that was the point the movie was playing with fire being as unfunny as it was for as long as it was, but mainly i think it just went UNSUBTLE LEAD BALLOON OF A JOKE thirty or forty times in a row to get started.

patty saves the movie. the scene where she shows up in their um “office” is a turning point where suddenly the writing gets a whole hell of a lot better. it’s like someone else wrote the screenplay for the parts of the movie before that scene. i don’t understand it. it was SO ROUGH and then all of a sudden SO MUCH BETTER. the overwhelming majority of the movie was fun and good and enjoyable, so my recommendation here is, read this:

“erin and abby were friends once and wrote a book about ghosts but then erin went into science and she’s up for tenure, when abby publishes the thing, so her science career is threatened. abby’s got an insane engineer pal whose name i never did remember, and they go find a ghost and get to be friends again. video of that costs erin her tenure so they try to start this ghosty work and patty shows up in their office having seen one.”

and then go show up to the movie about 20 minutes late. much better experience that way. everything before that sucks, everything after it is pretty great. i’m not even sure how much of that is coincidence. patty is a delight, really complements the other three well, it’s just a shame the writing couldn’t carry her absence in the beginning.

i felt like the Kevin character went farther than it needed to to make its point, but the more i tried to explain that here the more i realized that it was because i understood what it was doing from the get go. he’s a hella dumb disgrace that they keep around because boners because that’s the point, of course. he’s really really annoying because *cough* that’s also the point which is what i was missing. the writers want you to understand how they feel watching Eyecandy Blonde in every other movie. so i’ll leave my critique of him as “probably written too ham-fistedly but ultimately decent satire.” i really enjoyed that Dumb Blonde Eyecandy became a male Damsel in Distress that our heroes had to save though. that was a nice touch. and chris hemsworth absolutely throws himself at this character with gusto. props to him because otherwise it could have fallen really flat.

if you’re a man who is offended by kevin, by the way, THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT. THAT’S THE POINT ON THE VERY MOST SURFACE LEVEL. GOOD GOD. learn to be critical with your head and not your feels.

it’s a dumb movie. the engineer (who i found slightly irritating btw) just fabricates stuff with wild abandon instantly and it all works immediately and is exactly correct for what they need. there’s ghosts and shit and impossibly dumb people and a magic portal and incomprehensible technobabble. there’s no real stakes, as reversing the portal seems to reverse all the damage the army of ghosts does. but, apart from the first act, none of that actually matters. i still had a blast watching this movie and think you should go see it.

usually i don’t write about movies that i watch well after they’re out of theatres but this is one i need to regroup my own thoughts on.

i came into 10 cloverfield lane about as fresh as one can, having not seen the original cloverfield movie because honestly, fuck found footage films (except for the incredible Norwegian film Trollhunter). it was interesting, intelligent and definitely worth your time. it also had some aspects that could have been better.

below this line be spoilerinos.

i’m a big fan of the intimate, low-key, high-stakes, suspenseful thriller. Red Eye is one of my absolute favorite movies, and it isn’t just because i love rachael mcadams and cillian murphy and the film basically says “you guys carry this for us” although that is a lot of it. it also isn’t because murphy plays a character named jackson rippner. lol. so 10 cloverfield lane is right up my alley. it has an entire credited cast of 6: michelle, howard, emmitt, michelle’s husband, the lady outside, and the army lady’s voice.

like i said, i haven’t seen cloverfield, so i was not expecting the twist to be that howard is hiding his true nature but also the attack is real. i spent the entire beginning of michelle’s stay in the bunker rooting for her to just go outside and see like, traffic flowing down a highway or something, so when she finally gets the keys and gets to the door and is met by a lady burned up by chemicals i was surprised. of course something was deeply wrong with howard, and i was fully ready for him to be suffering some sort of psychotic disorder, but for the attack to then also be real added a second layer of horror to the whole situation. you’re locked in a hole with this unpredictable, controlling, volatile man, and even if you get out, you’re escaping into very probable death at the hands of an unknown enemy. if the twist is that nothing happened outside, that’s easily the most predictable thing in the world, so until mrs told me what happens in the first Cloverfield i respected this setup a lot. taking a movie that would be really unoriginal but still entertaining in its own right, and then setting it in this Cloverfield world, works very well for what the movie is trying to do.

john goodman kills it as howard. absolutely nails it. he was great. i would have liked to see the subplots about the missing girl and his replacing his daughter with michelle both fleshed out a little more. we can assume everything we need to about the missing girl, which is cool, the movie respects its viewers’ ability to think, AND the “that’s not megan” reveal was super unexpected, but… why her, and what was her eventual fate precisely? was that his plan with michelle too? and apart from treating her like a kid during catch phrase, dressing her in his daughter’s clothes and giving her his daughter’s magazines, the movie begged howard to slip and call her megan just once, but he wouldn’t do it. maybe it would have been cliche but i wanted it to happen and i wanted her to try to call him on it, just to see how he reacted.

let’s talk about michelle though. she gets into trouble without us really caring about her yet. all we know is she is leaving her husband, and the manner in which she does it made me think she’s afraid of him. later, in the “regrets” scene, she reveals that she “always” runs away from problems, so that’s ultimately a misdirection and not an intentional one. see the problem is, this movie is mostly directed so goddamn well, with all the tightness, mood, and foreshadowing a breaking bad fan has come to expect, that her actions here had me thinking for a while that howard was a worse manifestation of the home she was used to, a literal hell mirroring what she was afraid of if she tried to leave, but no, her and her husband really did just have a fight and she ran off from it.

we see her having a conversation on the phone that looks like she’s making an excuse for not being home later, but don’t hear the words. then ben calls him, and she answers, but just lets him talk, silently driving. then she’s wrecked and then she’s in the shelter. that’s it. i didn’t care about the character at all yet. she hadn’t spoken a word. i was too suspicious of howard to feel sorry for him for how she treats him, and he does such a terrible job of explaining himself that of course she’s mistrustful at best, but we know nothing about her, what to expect from her, or how she usually acts. contrast that with red eye. a film with a super tight 85 minute run time introduces rachael mcadams’s character much more effectively before dropping the trouble on her. we know what she does, we know how she interacts with both friends and stress, and we see her handling situations with a strange gentleman. her macgyvering a pen to stab rippner (hahaha) in the neck is shocking because it’s so visceral, but of course she would do that. her ability to twist the situation and delay is because of course a manager at a hotel can do that. in 10CL the first real acts we see michelle do, other than run away, are both feats of ingenuity. you can solve these problems easily, so why are you running from the other ones?

basically i had a tough time getting into this movie at the beginning. there was no way howard wasn’t lying about an attack (oops) so i didn’t side with him at all, and michelle was a complete unknown so i couldn’t side with her fully either. thank god for Emmitt, who, despite being an easily manipulated dinglefart, was able to let us see a human in michelle rather than just an I MUST ESCAPE motivation bot.

the backend of the movie, honestly everything after and including the air filtration system scene, was great. we know for a fact that the attack happened, and we also know for a fact that howard is not just paranoid but monstrous. the “now what” was compelling as hell and every single step along the way had been shown to the viewer before. michelle gets the gas mask plans out of a book we all saw on her first tour of the bunker. she can put together the gas mask and suit because she’s a designer. she’s good at taking disparate things and combining them into something useful, we saw that when she lit the vent on fire and waited with the crutch. when they get caught emmitt takes the blame, and michelle can only let him in horror, as in her childhood stories in the “regrets” scene. which, by the way, when you foreshadow as much as vince gilligan and you bring out a literal barrel of acid, i know what the hell that’s for, lol. someone is already dead when that barrel comes out. it was just a matter of whom, and it certainly wasn’t michelle or howard, not yet. the acid on howard’s face as obvious comeuppance, the fire it sets, and her escape through the ducting are all things we’ve seen before. i love that kind of thing, it’s part of why Hot Fuzz is my perfect movie. even her final decision, to actually go back to houston and do something instead of running to baton rouge (at what just cannot literally be a real fork in the road, that’s a damn metaphor) is a callback to what she wished she could do with the girl in the hardware store, it’s not just the end of her character arc.

so in the end i have a lot of respect for 10 cloverfield lane. i want there to be an 11 cloverfield lane that then follows michelle helping the houstonians fight back. there’s definitely a movie to be found there. a different movie completely from this one but still. i liked it pretty well. i still wouldn’t recommend it over Red Eye for an intimate, character driven thriller though, because 10CL’s characters could have been done a bit better. also go watch Trollhunter.

usually i write these things immediately, but today is saturday and i watched this movie on monday. whateva.

my expectations going in to x-men apocalypse were extremely low. the trailers made the film look like an unintentionally cheesy, overdramatized disaster porn superhero movie. not that we’ve seen any of THOSE this year. but i ended up pleasantly surprised by x-men apocalypse. smart character arcs for existing characters and the newer (good-guy) characters are well done and mostly fun. it isn’t great, and i’m not even sure that it’s good, but it isn’t bad.

spoilers below.

okay i watched some xmen cartoons when i was a kid, but i don’t really remember them, and i’ve never read a comic book in my life except a couple alan moore novels, but even my coworker who is the biggest xmen fangirl i know had this issue: the horsemen in this movie are not fleshed out well enough to know what they’re about. let’s review:

  • the film follows magneto because he is magneto and his story arc actually works great, even if i am getting sick of “magneto is hiding, but he’s good, but a Thing happens and now he’s bad, but at the end he’s good because he’s friends with charles” plot in every one of these newer xmen movies.
  • storm is awesome, from the actress to her hair, and her powers are used in a very cool way, when we see them? which is almost never. we needed more storm badly.
  • angel was kind of beaten easily and mostly off camera, and otherwise his part was to stand around and have metal wings. did he make the transition to archangel that makes him, as the internet tells me, a pivotal part in the original apocalypse storyline? well not on camera he didn’t.
  • i did not know until talking to my coworker that psylocke was called psylocke. this was also when we learned she was telekenetic and precognitive. in the movie, she is basically just a psi-blade. she was underpowered as hell for a horseman. she’s not if you actually flesh her out, but the movie fails to do this. i’m not much of an olivia munn fan, so giving her less screen time is fine with me, but psylocke needed way better treatment than this.

okay, so we have an almost all-powerful megalomaniac who wants to be the world’s literal god, and he gets a cool set up, and then the movie got boring for a while. the second half was fairly by the numbers for what was set up, and that’s fine, it’s safe, it’s not going to make a great movie, but it is the trope for a reason right? the beginning of this movie was just kind of dull for me. maybe boring is better than over produced, over dramatic evil laughter supervillainry, which was what the trailers had led me to expect.

at any rate, when apocalypse finds charles and cerebro the movie gets pretty entertaining, although i do agree with the screen junkies’ review that quicksilver’s scene, while very good on its own, is annoyingly misplaced and completely glosses over the death of havoc. it doesn’t even really impact cyclops that much from what we see. he and jean and nightcrawler have a really fun sequence at stryker’s compound, finding weapon X wolverine was pretty funny and also maybe the best action scene in the movie, but meanwhile maybe the movie’s biggest flaw is happening? okay second biggest. let’s talk about the 2 biggest flaws.

NUMBER TWO. magneto is causing literally world wide destruction. it’s not even really that well controlled by the man himself because he’s just producing enormous magnetic fields. there should be millions of dead. this has no impact whatever.  we see landmarks breaking apart and buildings falling over and debris in the sky, which is about as moving as dubya’s address on 9/11 for exactly the same reason: why all this focus on buildings? you know there’s people in them right? the events of x-men apocalypse seem to happen on an alternate earth devoid of inhabitants except the characters we’re meant to care about. it makes the ultimate redemption of magneto have less weight because he hasn’t actually done that much bad here. i mean, of course he sort of has, but the movie totally ignores the human impact, except for in problem…

NUMBER ONE. hey there, movie, can i call you movie? hi. you pleasantly surprised me but we have to talk about the exposition room. i mean the situation room. in every disaster porn film, we have some circle of scientists, and military, and government officials, sitting around saying things like “death toll in the thousands” to be cut off with “thousands? millions,” or “may god have mercy on us all,” or “what have we done,” just to make sure the impact of what’s happening on screen is even apparent to the dumbest viewers. but see, in those movies, even the terrible ones, those are characters in the movie. independence day’s president is a total badass with a part to play. day after tomorrow’s governmental circle interacts with its main character. but you, movie, had an isolated room filled with empty anonymous suits saying “this is bad” and “oh dang.” thanks for that clever use of screen time. i totally wouldn’t rather spend those minutes seeing psylocke being PRECOGNITIVE????? and storm and storm’s excellent hair do a thing.

my favorite part of this movie was jean gray finally showing off her phoenix side. even though xavier and apocalypse’s fight inside their minds didn’t make much sense to me–like, charles jumped into his head, so when he starts losing and acts like he’s going to die (hahahahahahahaha) why doesn’t he jump back out? but jean goes full phoenix and just destroys him faster than he can regenerate and i’m in my head doing a n0tail impression. hell yes. i wasn’t before but now i’m looking forward to the next movie in this timeline because phoenix is out and she’s strong as fuck, fellas.

so all in all, an okay movie, some really good things and some really bad things. now we sit around and wait patiently for the bourne movie to release 🙂 holy hype yall

the following is spoiler free and i will tell you when that stops being the case.

i didn’t expect too much from captain america civil war. by the time it finally came out i, as someone with no experience with the source material, was pretty braced for it to suck. now, that doesn’t mean i’m going to go in and make it suck inside my head. i’m more than willing to be proven wrong, which the captain america franchise has done before. (winter soldier is my favorite MCU film and it’s not really close, despite me not liking the cap character much and thinking cap 1 was reasonably terrible.) so, did civil war bring me to its side?

no. it did not.

tony stark’s motivations are at the plot’s whimsy. i guess that makes a little sense if this is A Captain America Movie, but come on, iron man has had 3 of his own films and 2 avengers films. he’s his own character. i had this same issue with batman in BvS  but it isn’t THAT severe here in civil war.

the film kind of suffers from tonal problems in that the big dramatic moments are always accompanied by quipping. stop quipping. the marvel universe has always been a little goofy, a little prone to jokes and one-liners, but when you make every line a joke during a dramatic climax it’s very jarring in that bad way.

the characters make really stupid decisions. again, i’m not familiar with the source material, but at multiple points during this movie i would ask a different character, wtf are you doing?

martin freeman is in this movie for 4 minutes with an american accent and that is just wrong.

ok if you’ve made it this far without having seen the movie yet the spoilers are going to begin. this isn’t a “it’s so bad you should skip it” kind of movie, so despite my having a problem with it i still would recommend MCU fans give it a watch, unlike for example thor 2 or iron man 3 which are shocking, boring, or both at times.

i enjoyed the black panther and this likely isn’t unrelated to his disdain for the movie’s quipping ways. it was a little weird that the just-a-prince-yesterday king is also some sort of ninja, but he was pretty awesome and his character actually developed in this movie. you can’t really say that about anyone else. when hawkeye tries to introduce himself on the tarmac at the airport and panther just says “i don’t care” and starts to fight, he cemented himself as my favorite character in the movie 100%. that scene had at least 20 one-liners in a row.

oh yeah lets talk about spiderman. see?? SEE, MOVIE EXECS???? you brought in a popular superhero without wasting a movie on his origin story. was that so goddamn hard? unfortunately, that was spiderman, the most annoying superhero there is by a mile. i was really hoping in the trailer when they revealed spiderman, we were seeing an unfinished graphic, but no. that was what he actually looked like. cartoony and poorly textured. i’m fine with his animation being subpar because how do you motion capture a spider-man, but at least make his suit look like it was textured in 2016. also unfortunately, spidey had one of my two favorite lines in the movie, when he shot web at cap’s feet and *ergh* quipped “tony said to go for your legs!”

IT’S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE WENT FOR CAP’S LEGS WHEN HE PUTS THE SHIELD UP. JESUS MERCY. i nearly applauded. naturally he then went for his arms immediately after that and lost his mark so.

how come cap and sam didn’t at least try asking tony to get the avengers to help? when tony saw the evidence through bullshit and asked sam about it he wanted to help. show him the evidence. tell him the story. don’t just assume you’re on your own, cap, and nobody has to fight at the airport, rhoades can still walk, spider-man isn’t back on my movie screen, and you can probably bring in the psychologist dude easily. make decisions better.

the movie has kind of a tragic arc to it. the presumably protagonists are manipulated against each other. it ends with cap crippling tony’s iron man suit. it’s shot to look like he’s about to decapitate him, and it feels kind of like he lightweight did. rhoades is paralyzed. he should be 100% dead because he fell like half a mile, but still. and in the biggest fight moment of the film, everyone vs everyone else, you have them spewing one liners like they’re happily trouncing their first fight of a lighthearted movie? if that one big fight scene on the tarmac has maybe 2/3 of its dialogue cut entirely, the whole movie would be a lot better for it imo. very good friends are fighting each other hard. if it wasn’t something they really really cared about, they wouldn’t be. it’s a huge moment for all of them. and here they are cracking jokes like it’s an afternoon coffee break. i don’t know, maybe you guys won’t read the movie that way, but it pissed me off beyond just being painful, unfunny lines.

wanda and the vision fall really short imo. if civil war were overwatch, every game would be 3 scarlet witches and 3 visions vs 3 scarlet witches and 3 visions. they are OP as FUCK, yo. the vision can fly, shoot a death laser, move through things, and basically seems indestructible. scarlet witch can pretty much manipulate anything she wants with her mind. sure, if she panics and just flings a dude before he explodes she may not do it accurately, but she’s just as broken as vision is. their impact on the fights they take part in? totally minimal. they spend most of the movie quarantining each other, then they both fuck up a lot. neither in Ultron nor in Civil War have we gotten any explanation of their powers or limitations, which leads me to expect a lot of them and be disappointed in the nothing they do. i don’t get it. if you can throw cars at iron man with your mind why can’t you just hold iron man in place with your mind? hello?? if you can catch a falling watch tower with your mind why can’t you catch rhoades and keep him from not-dying???

steph of ni: gg witch afk

finally lets talk about the ending. and this is where tony stark is revealed as nothing more than a pawn of the plot’s whimsy.

problem: we need tony and cap to fight each other.
solution: make tony take up a more bureaucratic role and support international oversight.
problem: the same tony who was JUST fighting with the avengers, and who thought his plan to defend the world was all anyone needed? how does his character develop that way?
solution: hm let’s pretend those things aren’t things
problem: wat

problem: cap got away from tony but we need those two and bucky isolated
solution: tell tony where cap is going
problem: how?
solution: i don’t know use bullshit
problem: why wouldn’t he send all the avengers chasing the bullshit with him?
solution: i don’t know make him friends with cap again so its secret
problem: what? i thought they were fighting
solution: hm yes that is true but remember there was bullshit

problem: we’ve reached the final act now and tony and cap are friends
solution: make them not be friends again
problem: does tony have borderline personality disorder, or
solution: nono the whole plot has been a ruse to get tony and cap and bucky together and show tony that bucky killed his parents and cap knew
problem: it me the audience and i feel deceived by all this build up
solution: oh yeah well distinct wanking motion. how do you think iron man feels

the way the plot treats its characters is parallel to how the film treats you. watch 90 minutes that don’t matter before the final climax, in which tony and cap punch each other a lot and bucky loses an arm, but then cap reaches out to make nice with tony later anyway so nothing of value is really lost.

at least the black panther has a character arc. he wants to avenge his father, so he pursues the winter soldier to literally the ends of the earth, discovers bucky isn’t the winter soldier he is looking for and the psychologist orchestrated it, sees what obsession with vengeance did to said psychologist, and says you know what, i don’t want this for myself. no other character changes in this movie. sometimes they may switch allegiances but that doesn’t mean they aren’t flat. and then panther is rewarded with the other top-2 line in the movie: “The living aren’t done with you yet.” fucking badass line right there. hell yeah.

but mainly i’m just bitter by how badly the film wasted martin freeman. assholes.