Arlock writes (personal). An outlet for Glossolalia

TV & Movies

Rogue One

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s talk Star Wars. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but there may be spoilers here.

Rogue One. Yes, it has flaws. No, I don’t care. I’m seeing a lot of hate online, but to my mind, everything that is being touted as a flaw actually strengthens the movie. The film was technically excellent, brilliant visuals, solid acting, great direction and sound, but mediocre meta-plot (let’s chase the info around), and a few largely pointless characters. In fact, I’d say this movie was solid overall. Yes, it could have been more, specifically underutilizing the threat of Vader, but it also could have been so much worse. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

cxabo27uqaa0k_t

So quick summary. This is, for my money, the best movie set in the Star Wars universe. However, this is NOT the best Star Wars movie. I say that because Rogue One does not follow the same beats as a traditional Star Wars movie. This isn’t a lonely boy-child rises to be the chosen one in a black and white universe where no one has even heard of moral ambiguity. This was a team effort, not Jedi saves/destroys the day yet again. We deviate from the Action/Adventure Space Fantasy for prepubescent teens and get a more grown-up movie without going all grim-dark.

For me, the modelling, set re-creation, and general feel of the move to reflect New Hope was a winner, but this was then built on by adding action & combat sequences that were actually really well done.

So to address the criticisms

Characters being too ‘special’.
There seems to be a lot of angst that these characters aren’t ‘everyman’ characters rising to overcome their humble backgrounds to become true heroes. Bollocks. Screw the hero’s journey, it’s been done to death in the main storylines.

In this instance, all the characters (even Bodhi in many ways) are outstanding individuals. They have to be if they have even the slightest chance of succeeding against an opponent with overwhelming superiority in manpower and resources. Jyn at 16 was an exceptional soldier in the most extreme faction of the rebellion (before succumbing to abandonment issues). Chirrut was an elite defender of the old Jedi temple only a few steps down from a Jedi himself (before the temple got trashed). Baze is packing a Mandalorian weapon and skill set. Even Cassius is one of the rebellions best operatives. These guys are all flawed, but they are badass and know what they’re doing. They have to be because they’re going up against an entrenched enemy stronghold and insurmountable odds.

This movie had characters, rather than caricatures. Star Wars has always required a suspension of disbelief, I mean who seriously doesn’t think Obi-Wan wouldn’t have spaced Luke the first chance he got after seeing he had all of Anakin’s worst traits? In this iteration, the characters were so much more believable and that allowed me to invest more heavily in the story.

As an added bonus, in this movie the Stormtroopers haven’t been told to deliberately miss, so they are a viable foe.

The Empire
The Empire in this one is real, it’s in your face and active in every aspect of the world. This is an entrenched power, confident in its superiority. The rebel faction is at best an irritation, a gnat that is too agile for the behemoth to swat. That, right there, is the empires only weakness. It is too big, too powerful, too entrenched. With that size comes all the baggage of command structures, bureaucracy, petty power struggles, and an inability to react quickly to threats such as surprise rebel fleet attacks, or a surgical insertion of elite saboteurs. You know, those guerrilla tactics effective against a superior but inflexible opponent. Make no mistake, the Empire at no point appears threatened by these Rebels, and that is how it should be… right up to the moment their Achilles Heel is struck in episode IV.

The shout-outs…

oh, so many shout outs.

  • Tarkin was being very Tarkinish
  • Goldenrod and the blue beeper make an appearance… fanservice… Meh. (but I kind of cheered at the time).
  • Senator Organa makes an appearance… kind of nice (I kind of grinned at the time)
  • … and mentioned a female Jedi who he’d been hiding (yep… definite Clone-Wars grin at that one).
  • Vader was in a bacta tank (cheers),
  • … then made a ‘choke on it’ quip (groaned, but remembering the whiney arsed Hayden Christensen portrayal of Anakin, reluctantly accepted it),
  • Vader did some Sith stuff (totally just fan service… yet WOW… totally worth it!)

Villians

Yeah, we could talk about Vader, Krennic and (maybe even Galen Erso, or General Draven) here but the true villain is the in-fighting that palgues Empire and the paralytic indecision on the Rebel; side. Krennic knows there has been a leak and is too busy trying to save his arse to simply quarantine the files or let anyone up the chain know that there could be an issue. Everyone else is going ‘we had a leak, your security sucks’ while Krennic knows full well the source was his chief engineer, a guy who just happens to have nothing left to lose. He’s the ONLY one who understands the seriousness of the issue, and he dies with his secrets. On the other side, Rogue One isn’t just fighting the Empire. It is also fighting the lack of support and entrenched leadership by committee, and that’s an enemy we can all relate to.

The Robot wasn’t funny

WTF? Seriously, what part of Star Wars has ever been funny? C3PO whinged, Jar-Jar annoyed, and even BB-whatever was merely cute. Star wars never did funny outside a bit of teenage pandering slapstick. That may be why I found the occasional dialogue induced chortle in this movie so refreshing. K-2SO wasn’t an amusing sidekick, it was a character that happened to be a robot.

This movie doesn’t need to exist

Okay, that’s true. But I’m very glad that it does. It’s just a shame that we aren’t likely to see these particular actors return to the Universe again.

This movie should have been the Saving Private Ryan of Star Wars

Yes, that would have been cool, but in case you missed the memo, Disney now owns Star Wars. So that was never going to happen.

Oh and Rogue One Easter Eggs That Slipped Right By You…

… I wonder if there is going to be a whole new generation of baby girls named Jyn now?

 


Sight

…and now for something moderately terrifying… but cool.. oh so cool!


Batman vs Superman

bvsI’ve decided I’m not going to bother watching the latest Zack Snyder slug-fest. Sorry DC, think I’ll wait for Suicide Squad. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of both Sucker Punch and Watchmen so I’m not just anti-Synder, but the first Man of Steel was such a joyless timesink that I don’t see the point in revisiting it. Also, I don’t know how anyone could meet, much less surpass, the first two pitch-perfect Nolan Batman movies.

Apparently, that makes me part of the problem; because I’m told that critics being critical of a movie is now problematic. But when they are critics that I generally agree with, and the flaws they’re pointing out are the very things that are usually deal-breakers for me. Well, why would I pay money to go see a movie I’m not going to particularly enjoy, and in doing so support the production of sub-par movies?

I’ll wait for it on Nexflix methinks.

 


Image

DareDevil Season 2

DDIntro

 

Our favourite blind pseudo-ninja is back, backflipping in the rain to beat crime. Took me four days from start to finish binge-watching this show. Six episodes a day, with a two-day break in between. (Broke some ribs recently so getting comfortable hasn’t been easy).  So no spoilers here, but I truly enjoyed season 2.

With the series taking a Mad Max-esque approach of the named protagonist being the window from which we see their world, but not always being the focus of the story, the welcome addition of Electra, The Punisher “You put them down, they get back up, I put them down, they stay down!”, and Karen’s evolution really made the season for me. Still, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Season 1, and nowhere near as much as Jessica Jones.

It wasn’t as fresh as Season 1, lacking much of the awesome big-picture politics. In fact, the antagonists in this series seemed to exist purely for the heroes (and anti-heroes) to react to, lacking any real depth of their own. No Kingpin here. There were also a few scenes that were awesome but seemed to be carbon copies of season 1. For example, Season 1’s hallways fight now takes place going down a set of stairs this time and doesn’t come off nearly as well, maybe because we’ve seen it before.

…also I am not going to forgive Ramirez for leaving all those unanswered questions about the Hand and Black Sky.

also

Fisk (season 1 spoilers) http://www.polygon.com/2015/4/15/8421775/daredevil-netflix-kingpin-marvel

A Good Season 2 Review (spoilers) http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/03/21/a-sub-par-daredevil-season-two-yields-a-great-punisher-season-one/#7c343bc52b36

EDIT: Extra Link

io9’s take on season 2 http://io9.gizmodo.com/8-things-we-loved-about-season-two-of-daredevil-and-4-1766455847 which I agree with 100%

 


Why Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is Actually Way Better Than The 2016 Deadpool – Dorkly Post

 I have to concur with this article. Some very salient points.

Just hear us out.

Source: Why Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is Actually Way Better Than The 2016 Deadpool – Dorkly Post


Video

Time Trap (10 min)

Awesome little short film.


STAR WARS (prequel trilogy) recap

Prequel

The Phantom Menace: Monk-Diplomats go to resolve a trade dispute, and end up triggering a full-blown war. Picking up the most irritating character ever to appear in Hollywood, they rescue a princess from capitalism, are happily complicit in slavery, take a woman’s child away from her, and prove that democracy doesn’t work. Along the way, they use laser swords to break hundreds of easily replaceable robot killers rather than jam the signal directing them. Then in a fit of rage, the Jedi kill the only person who may understand what is going on. They do NOT solve the trade dispute.

Attack of the Clones: While most of the movie is spent talking about a bad thing that may happen, the worst thing to happen is a love story apparently scripted by an autistic 9-year-old who has heard that girls and boys like each other when they grow up. Introducing an army cloned from the nastiest bounty hunter in the known universe, who are used to blow up hundreds of easily replaceable robots. Also, a pointless bad guy who is easily repelled by a bouncing muppet. The “too old to be trained” padawan spends most of his time stalking a woman 20 years his senior.

The Force Awakens: The all-powerful, all-knowing, Monk-Diplomats are nearly all killed by their bodyguards. (With the exception of the little green one, because he is too short to shoot in the head). The man who has orchestrated the deaths of millions makes that final irrevocable step into evil by using his hands as a Taser (the lesson here is that murder, corruption, betrayal, and being a political conservative are bad, but using electricity is the True Evil). Then the surviving Monk-Diplomat fights the traitorous apprentice he apparently didn’t train all that well and leaves him on fire on the side of a volcano. Mercifully he only has his limbs burnt off and gains PTSD and pain-fueled madness. Obi apparently then goes off into the desert to plot an intricate revenge where he gets his former pupils son to finish the murder he couldn’t go through with himself.


STAR WARS (original trilogy) recap


Original

Star Wars: An anti-social religious fanatic tries to talk a naive farm boy into patricide. On the way, they do untold damage to the military-industrial complex by destroying the universes most advanced space station but ultimately accomplish little.

Empire Strikes Back: When an assassin turns out to be his son, a government official manages to disarm the boy. Simultaneously capturing a group of mass-murdering insurgents.

Return of the Jedi: The young farm boy has come to understand his attraction for his sister, and now mind-rapes people. The solitary hope for an almost extinct religion puts himself and his sister at risk to rescue a smuggler from a crime-lord and then teams up with cannibalistic teddy bears to destroy (for a second time) the universe’s most advanced space station.

Update: Colbert also explains it quite well.


Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Gamergate: How the Netflix series absorbed the anxieties of the online movement.

 

Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones is many things. (A great article by )

Source: Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Gamergate: How the Netflix series absorbed the anxieties of the online movement.


Jupiter Ascending

Watched Jupiter Ascending… just a hairs breath away from awesome. (cutting a bit out of many of the action sequences might go a long way to tipping it into the awesome category). Turn it into a TV show, focus on the politics/manoeuvring and I’m there with bells on.

jupiter

 

Loved the world building, just need a bit more character building. Also the ship designs, separate sections held together by forcefields was simply gorgeous.

jupiter-ascending

Inspiration 4/5
Spectacle 5/5
Coherency 2/5

Verdict: Visually spectacular and an interesting universe. Wouldn’t mind visiting it myself.


Flash & Arrow

Flash

So DC TV, buff men in suits, prancing around in make-up. Comic book TV may have succeeded, usually when the show goes that extra step to subvert the trope, where DC movies have continuously failed to truly entertain (Batman aside) but I’m seeing a disturbing trend.

Arrow UpsI’m barracking for the bad guys. The Damaged Dr. in Flash makes that show worth watching, while on Arrow I have to give the love to Malcolm Merlyn. The time before that, it was Slade that was the heart of the show. We get Miss Smoak and Merlyn on the same Team and I am so turning to the dark side. The bad guys have motivations, achievable goals, and better suits. The good guys just want to double as punching bags, and occasionally have grief-stricken moments of painful exposition and introspection. Can’t we go back to the special effects, weird genetics and leave Days of Our Superhero’s behind?

Let’s not tell the janitor that cleans up after Ollie Daddy Cop his daughter is dead, let’s draw it out as long as possible so both the death itself and the sheer betrayal of not being told for months, is certain to make his heart explode. If that scene isn’t directed by Michael Bay, and with the splatter reaching Central City, I am out of here!

Okay, I admit there have been some good moments, it was refreshing seeing the team get their arses handed to them by Brick. Arrow and the Canary regularly waltz through their fight scenes, so it was nice to see a bit of desperate rough and tumble that relied more on face punching than fancy weapons skills.

Maybe I’m just over tortured heroes getting their arses kicked, staging a comeback, emerging victorious, and gasping as another villain steps from the shadows. Rinse, repeat, cash the cheques.

 


Star Wars Episode 7: No George = a New Hope.

Dark Side

Dark Side

Okay, so I’m going to try and earn some geek cred here, and put up some suggestions about what I’d like to see happening in Star Wars Episode 7. For the record I’m a big SWTOR fan, but we know when this will be set, and who it will be around, so I won’t go there.

Now we all know that Luke, Han and Leia will be back and playing a central role, so I’m working with that. We also know that JJ Abrams will be in the hot seat, and I’m fine with that. JJ is the master of flashy-flashy-bang-bang, so I’m certain that the action sequences will be as breathtaking as they are loud. We will have lightsabers and Jedi, and the Dark Side, because without those it isn’t Star Wars.

Yet what I’d like to see, and maybe you’ll hate me for this, is a real story. We have established characters. We know their backstory. So let’s build on that.

Picture this

No make-up, no cgi, we have Han and Leia still happily [sic?] married catching up with their old friend and relative, Luke. They sit around a table, reminiscing (much like the Babylon 5 episode Sleeping in the Light ) and talking about this brave new world they helped establish. Leia is worried that her (now grown) kids are idealists, and put themselves at risk with their projects helping construct a new order. Han bemoans that one of them champions the central government ideal that made the empire so effective for its short reign.

Luke on the other hand has more small-scale issues, but no less worrying. He’s got a new generation of Jedi to help guide, and since they have been trained in the force since they could walk, many of them exceed him in power and understanding of its ways. He’s worried about the Dark Side (naturally) but at the same time worried that he doesn’t know enough to truly recognise it. He’s got one former apprentice fascinated by an idea that terrifies him, where power comes from a careful balancing of both sides of the force.

We have flashbacks (maybe) and views of the world outside this small room as the next generation starts a new ‘saga’, but the focus is the main three characters, their hopes, their fears, their regrets over lost opportunities.

…. and if Haden Christianson appears anywhere in this I will disembowel the person responsible for it with a rusty spoon