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Monday, June 12, 2017

Ten Thoughts on Wonder Woman (2017)

  1. The beginning is trouble. So much info dumped through voiceovers and narration, spinning my brains as I struggled to get into the movie. A cool three-dimensional renascence painting punched me in the face with the mythology when all I wanted was to settle in.
  2. Robin Wright makes the most of the Ren Fest dialogue. I hate high fantasy movies because of the faux Shakespearian dialogue.  I struggled with this opening. I'm just not the audience for this stuff. Lord of the Rings? Nope. Game of thrones? Snooze. I liked Dragonslayer, except to the lead. I'm picky. Robin Wright has some great badass moments. Watch this with The Princess Bride to see the evolution of Buttercup.
  3. Gal Gardot. I wanted more Olympic athlete and she comes off like a supermodel just off the catwalk. But hold on! She has this wide-eyed doe quality that works. Innocence, vulnerability, and idealism in the most terrible and unbeatable situations. This is not the ultimate badass versus Nazis. This is not Angelina Jolie or Atomic Blonde. Wonder Woman is not a man in a woman's body. She does not show boat or kill someone just to look cool. She is very feminine, and acts only from her deep-seated values. This is the major conflict and what I loved most. Take a mythological goddess, a cartoon character, and put her in the middle of a complicated political mess, World War One, where there are bad guys on every side, and have them deal with that. It is her coming to grips with humanity's self-destructive nature that sets this movie and apart, and makes it into an interesting thought experiment. Gal Gardot took me through this transition, with not the most polished subtle performance, but with enough charisma and humanity to bring me over.
  4. The wish fulfillment that war is caused by a third party devil that leads people to acts of violence, and if you slay the dragon, evil will be vanquished gets tested against the fog of war. Myth vs reality. One thing I have not liked about the new run of comic movies is their use of real world aesthetics, except for the one blue underwear character. I like a more unified world so our hero doesn't look so out of place. When I saw the trailer for Wonder Woman I thought it was the ultimate example of this, but her contrast in this environment is the whole theme of the movie. In dark complicated times, we need a bright beacon of idealism that represents the best of us. Something uncompromised and pure and mythic to guide us back into the light. Her presence in this mud drenched war torn hell illustrated that idea beautifully.
  5. So, a Syfy Original medieval flick, that turns into a fish out of water comedy when Diana comes to black soot London and has to hassle with dumb men and corsets. I thought it was all fine and good, but not very interesting. But once we get on the front lines, and Diana steps for the first time into the Wonder Woman role, that was so dramatic and earned, it made the hour buildup worth it. This moment could have been tossed out, but it comes at that perfect moment when we've heard all the reasons she can't, and when she does, it was pure movie awesomeness. Gardot and the movie pulled me in and I had a great time from that moment on.
  6. Such a great cast of interesting faces that look like comic drawings. Very distinct profiles and personalities. The thing that I hate about movies is bland wooden characters that could be replaced by anything, a frying pan, and it wouldn't make a difference. If a sock puppet would be more interesting, you need to beef up that script and performance.  This movie was so well cast. Danny Houston looks like a drawing. The team that joins with Wonder Woman are given a few moments to show their characters. In this you don't have the typical cold hearted sniper, but a man who drinks himself to sleep and who can't bring himself to pull the trigger.  I like that there was an attempt to give them personalities, though the Native American made me think of the old Jeanne Garofalo bit about the movie Speed. If that character was not here though, we couldn't muddy the moral waters of America's past, so thematically we are still cool.
  7. Doctor Poison. I really liked her. I wish she had more scenes. She has the best wicked witch laugh. I wanted just one more greasy act of evil from her.
  8. So many gas masks. World War One. Gas Masks. I loves me some gas masks, and when all the soldiers take the masks off at the end, that worked as a nifty metaphor.
  9. MAYBE A SPOILER???? How great is David Thewlis? Best actor ever? He gets to play quiet and loud here. My wife had some issues with his casting during the climax, it can be a funny contrast of head and body. I get it, but seriously, he's the best.
  10. The female director's gaze on Chris Pine made me feel very body conscious. I wrapped up and gave my wife the stink eye.

SHOW STOPPER! That first Wonder Woman action scene will go down with Spider Man learning he can go up walls and "I'm always angry" from Avengers as one of the greatest comic scenes ever.

Mad Nerd Moment - It has that CGI over saturation that looks cool but feels plastic and takes me out of the movie. There is enough real mud to get me back into it. And gas masks.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Ten Thoughts on Alien: Covenant (2017)

The best thing about the movie, this awesome poster!

1. Remember Alien? That movie is awesome. Aliens? Awesome too! Alien 3? Lots to love, but too much of a downer to be any fun. Alien 4? Besides a weird Sigourney Weaver and one of the best scenes in the series (embryo freak lab), a big tonal mess. Alien Vs Predator? Fun. Alien Vs Predator 2? Never saw it. Who wants to see aliens running around the forrest? That's why we have SyFy Originals.Prometheus? Loved it, haters going to hate but it put the series back on track. Now this. Sigh.

2. Ridley Scott entries in the series should be called "Worst Scientists Caught on Tape". Nothing in this movie would have happened if these highly trained scientists, entrusted with colonizing a planet (presumably because Earth is now a floating turd circling the cosmic drain), had used any common sense at all. So many dumb decisions getting so many people killed, like...

3. SPACESUITS! Where are your SPACESUITS? You don't know what germs you're breathing! NASA goes through all these precautions to sterilize the Mars Rover to help ease cross contamination, and that is to a dead planet! These scientists, explorers, who are as dumb as dirt, will not wear a helmet just to be safe.  Sure, Prometheus, they all took off their helmets, but the guy who started it was a thrill seeking Mountain Dew dude, and he wanted to be the first person to breathe an alien atmosphere. To him it was worth it. None of the characters in this movie are like that. I say they didn't wear them because of the flack the last movie got for taking off the helmets, Ridley said, no spacesuits, we're going to skip all that. The space truckers in Alien knew enough to wear spacesuits. This felt like Star Trek. Beam down and if I get sick, oh well. If I make the population sick, oh well. SPACESUITS! Why did they wear space suits in the space walk scenes? Obviously they don't believe in them. It's total Black Hole science.

Spacesuit Schmacesuit
4. More sticking their faces in gross, unknown, in some cases obviously hostile alien creatures, only to be, surprise! MURDERED! Kane did it in Alien, but Kane was like that, it was stupid but in character. Prometheus, we had the cute little scorpion python monster that was hissing and pissed off that the BIOLOGIST tries to pet. DEAD! And in this one, the super careful by the books leader, who never does anything by the books, puts his face down in the alien egg to see a freaky spider wrapped in a stomach, and he's totally okay with it and just goes bobbing for apples. Other "smart" people are sniffing around these spore balls, while pissing on the untouched alien world, while smoking (not even a e-cigerette, a combustible old style Camel). Of course the spores infect them. Know what would have helped prevent that? SPACESUITS!!!

5. I totally agree with the second in command girl. You are going to scrap the mission to go detouring to this other planet? Risking all those lives and the entire unborn colony. I thought you were by the book!

6. I like how they subverted expectations when they arrive at the planet and it is at first glance a total paradise. These explorers, who have been cooped up on this spaceship for years, are totally unimpressed by it all. They don't seem excited to have discovered the planet, or the possibilities. Has Earth already colonized before and this is old hat. Oh just another new planet, no big deal.

7. I liked the necropolis stuff. That was cool. Liked the ancient culture stuff. The medieval feel of it, with the robot David being a Leonardo Da Vinci type guy. The medieval stuff, what I liked best about Alien 3 is what I liked best about this movie, turning it into a Gothic castle horror movie. But they also ported over the worst thing from Alien 3...

8. Spoilers! The main lady from Prometheus is not in this movie!!! Don't be fooled. She is dead before the movie starts and we only see her body. I liked her! I wanted to see her continued story. Nope, they pull a Newt and unceremoniously dump her.

9. So in 200 years, people are still singing John Denver? What songs from 200 years ago do you hum along to?

10. SPOILERS! David, the robot, designed the bio-mechanical xenomorphs! They are not what you get when an engineer gets a face hugger, they are not organically a part of the alien technology from part one. David has been fiddling around with their DNA while sitting around in the abandoned engineer world and he makes them. Why do they look like that if they are not part of the bio-mechanical universe Giger created. They come out of the humans looking like hairless cats, and David messed around with them and turned them into biomechs. THAT IS SO MUCH HOT GARBAGE!!

EXTRA! There is no build up or suspense in this movie. Things just happen. The solar flare just happens. Discovering the abandoned ship just happens. The fate of the engineers just happens. A xenomorph shows up in the end, no build up. No anticipation. Just goes through the paces. Especially the last 20 minutes where the movie is over but they have to tack on the plot from the first Alien. So many rehashed moments from the earlier films. You can check them off as they happen.

SHOW STOPPER - The blood and guts are good. They guy throwing up the Alien was pretty gross.

Closing Thoughts: Prometheus was not perfect, but it was ambitious, and I loved how it was an indirect member of the series, expanding the universe without giving to much away. The backlash of fanboys who wanted a straight Alien movie castrated this entry into being nothing but fan service. This was a passionless endeavor from Scott who directs with none of the pent up gusto he brought to Prometheus.

And one more: The trailers had Star Wars Episode 8 and Blade Runner 2. I closed my eyes and could feel 79-82 cracking the ice of my frozen old man heart.

Sam Drog

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