Lessons Learned: I Rule

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Note: This is not my festival. Purely a flavor image.

Last year, I put out a post reflecting on the work I had done for a recently completed film festival.  Then I left the film commission I had been managing.  With that, I thought I was finally out of the game.  Both the festival and the commission were a lot of time, and a lot of stress, and I had never really had the passion for film that’s pretty much required to thrive in the industry.  I had left that behind me, happily so, and moved on with my life.

But just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I have a hard time saying no to people who need my help.  And the festival it seemed, was not quite ready to stand without me.  Still, I was adamant that I was not going to be as involved as I was last year, basically working another job towards the end of it.  And that was fine.  Last year, we had a problem with having way too few people involved to cover everything, the year before we had way too many to get anything done efficiently, this year, we seemed to hit the sweet spot.  We had few enough people there that we weren’t bogged down in multi-hour long meetings revisiting the same things we did in the last several, but enough of a team that nobody was really overworked.  As opposed to last year, when I managed the money, did most of the fundraising, led the marketing, as well as all the other odd jobs on my plate, this year, I limited my main activities to just handling the finances.  I helped out with other stuff as well, but that was all I was really in charge of, dedicated to.  Everyone else had their own areas, but there were enough people going around, that everything went smoothly.

Until the day before the festival.

And that’s when everything went bottoms up.  First our festival director had a situation suddenly come up, and he couldn’t make it to anything.  Then another member of our committee had an emergency, and she couldn’t make it either.  Leaving our decision-making group cut by half, leaving only myself and our programming director.

But you know what?  We handled it.  We were in a situation where both of us were having to completely adjust what we were doing on the fly, and we made it work.  We had volunteers to help us, some of which were pushed into roles a little bit above their heads, and we both had to take a lot more ownership of the festival and its activities, but we made it work.  I learned things about myself, too.  I learned I do pretty great at quick, casual presentations, given that I had to keep ad-libbing things in introducing or closing out the films, which is one thing I hadn’t been expecting to be charged with.  I learned that I’m able to pretend I know something about a subject matter when talking it over with an expert enough to hold a good public discussion with my only knowledge being the twenty minute film I just finished watching.  And I reaffirmed that people just really enjoy looking at me.  Good times.

I also learned I’m really good at marketing.  Last year, I took over most of our marketing activities.  Our attendance doubled.  I figured I couldn’t claim responsibility for all that at the time.  This year, I left the marketing to others.  Our attendance halved, back down to what it was before I got involved.  It still might be too soon to claim that’s all me, but I think that’s enough evidence to determine that I was at least partially responsible for the boost.

So yeah.  That’s what’s been going on in my life.  Just got through a really rough weekend.  Have a number of strenuous times ahead of me, so posting might be a little slow, by the way.  But still, I learned through it all.  I really need to respect myself more.  So does everyone else.  After all, as this weekend proved, I rule.

Random Thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron

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I had the opportunity to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron last night, a whole four hours before it was officially supposed to be released.  I know, I know, it’s galling, such a thing.  Releasing movies early ranks among the level of software pirates, parking meter tricksters, and spree murderers on the scale of ethical lapses.  As you all know, I am a just and righteous man, so I was just going to stay home.  Unfortunately, I hang out with the wrong crowd, and my so-called friends kidnapped me and forced me to watch it.  How vile!  I am absolutely aghast that they would force me to counteract my morals like that.

But, while I’m at it, I figured I’d at least put my thoughts down on the film.  Not so much a review, no, with a film release this big, you can get those anywhere, and I like to think that people come to Lost to the Aether for something a bit different.  And also, they come here because I am so smart, handsome, and interesting.  Anyways, if you want the bottom line, I enjoyed it a little less than I did the first film, but it’s still a good movie.  Beyond that, well, here are some completely random and unconnected reflections I have on the movie.

  • So, a big change in the way the film delivers its story, whereas the first movie was all about the individuals coming together as a group, then the big, bad, world invasion, the second film breaks things down to a human level.  It’s more about how each character is as a human.  The first act sees a good amount of the team just goofing around with each other.  It’s a film about personalities, rather than the group as a cohesive whole.  The central conflict comes about because of a few character’s personal choices, the film goes out of its way to round out some of the characters who haven’t gotten much spotlight on them, and everyone gets their little moments to let their guard down and show who they are.  It’s a more human-level experience, that I think really works for the sequel.
  • Unfortunately, this is tempered by the characters still being really flat.  I think that just comes from the age we’re in.  Big budget films need international markets to find success, and deep, complex characters are a lot more difficult to effectively translate between languages and cultures.  Still makes for a worse experience overall, no matter how necessary it is.
  • Hawkeye has himself a long-term relationship.  I’m pretty sure that only came about to remove him as a candidate for Black Widow, after all the teases in the first film.
  • Instead, Widow’s with the Hulk.  I never bought their relationship.  Their actors are really lacking in chemistry.
  • For that matter, I don’t really jive with the way they handled the Black Widow in this film.  The past movies she’s been in, like the Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2, the First Avenger, she really added to it.  She had her own unique part in the conflict, she dealt with things in a unique way, and she actively contributed to the plot.  Moreover, she was distinct.  Irreplaceable.  In this film, Black Widow’s just here to be the woman.  She has two scenes offering some brief glimpses into her backstory, sure, but other than that, her point in the movie is the play the traditional feminine roles.  She’s the matching girlfriend, the emotional support, and the damsel in distress.  Her character has degenerated.  She was once a distinct figure in her own right, now she’s just the Smurfette of the crew.
  • I’ve never read an Ultron story.  I have no idea what his personality’s like.  I’m pretty sure it’s not like this.  But that’s not a bad thing.  It would have been pretty easy to have him be the big generic death robot.  Having him like evil Iron Man adds a bit more to the character.
  • I don’t think you can call something an ‘Age’ when it’s pretty much wrapped up within the week or so this film covers.
  • There’s deaths in the film.  I won’t say who or when or how, but yeah, people die.  The movie gets absolutely no mileage out of it.
  • And you know, I never thought I’d be complaining about this, but I think I’m just getting tired of the Whedonistic snark.  It’s all nice and funny when you sprinkle the dialogue with clever quips.  When everyone’s doing it, and they do it anytime anyone does anything?  It gets a little old.
  • The creators did some nice work in building some leads for future movies.  And not just the next Avengers, either.  I’m pretty sure we saw the creation of a villain for the upcoming Black Panther, for instance, and I didn’t even notice until I slept on it.

And, that’s about all I got right now.  ‘Till next time.

Lessons Learned from the Film Commission

So!  I ran a film commission for a while, before I finally left it a few weeks ago.  In celebration of that, I thought I’d share a few random stories of that time.  Sounds simple enough, let’s go!

So, one of the first bits of filming activity we brought to the area was one of those tv shows recreating real world crimes.  In this case, we were lucky enough that the local police department got really interested in the project, and sent their SWAT team out on an official “training exercise” that consisted of doing whatever we needed to get some good shots for the show.  Ostensibly, they were just taking the opportunity to train up on how they’d react to the same situation the production company was recreating, but they let the director dictate what they were doing, had a bunch of actors mixed up with the real cops, and generally prioritized doing stuff that looked good on film ahead of any practical matters.  Your tax dollars at work.  Anyways, we had them in formation, tactically surrounding the restaurant we were set at, looking very serious with all their serious SWAT gear.  And we had to deal with people interrupting us constantly.  Basic sense is that when you come across people heavily armed and ready to throw down, you got the other way.  Instead, possibly because of the cameras showing this wasn’t dire, we had to deal with a huge amount of people just stopping to look, trying to spark up conversation with the police in formation and lurking around the building, or walking in front of leveled weapons.  The worst part came when we had a SWAT sniper set up on the roof across the street from the restaurant, firing at the imaginary perpetrator within.  Now, this was a very real officer, firing a very real rifle, albeit with fake bullets, into a restaurant window, and yet we still had people trying to cross through the line of fire.  No sense of self-preservation

I don’t know who researches things for films, but they’re a lot better at finding things within my own community than anyone I know.  We have a business that trains dogs to help people survive the apocalypse.  We have an actual business set up to discover old treasures lost by the French.  There are a lot more professional ghost hunters in the area than I thought possible.  We have someone here who specializes in making castles out of whatever he can find in the landfill.  None of which I would have known about if someone didn’t call me asking about putting them in some tv show or other.  And if those are lurking, hidden, in my community, just think of what might be in your hometown.

You know all those reality shows, like America’s Next Top Model or whatever, where they air auditions to get into the competition, and it seems like half of those going in for auditions are just so absolutely insane that they almost have to be putting on an act?  Well… yeah.  Turns out that the prospect of being on screen brings out a lot of people like that.  We had a major motion picture coming to the area, and were helping a casting company put on the casting call for local extras.  The casting director was wanting to make it a fun experience for everyone involved, meaning she hired circus performers and brought in some live alligators, but they also had a public stage, where they encouraged hopefuls to hope up and perform whatever came to their heads.  That stage caused me brain damage.  For every one person that performed something worth watching, there were ten putting on an utterly bland performance, and fifty so bad that I tried to eat my own face.  And at least half of the performances were bad Monty Python ripoffs.  Stupid parrots, stupid lumberjacks, stupid spam diners, all that stage did was make me weep for my lost innocence.

People trying to get in front of the camera can be pretty desperate.  I imagine that’s especially true in areas like mine where there are only a handful of paid acting opportunities a year.  How people handle that desperation varies greatly.  At the top are those who are simply proactive about it, making sure I have their resumes in case anyone asks about a position they fit or volunteering with the film commission in order to keep themselves connected with what’s going on.  At the bottom… well, once I had a woman offer to sleep with me in exchange for help getting a minimum wage extra part with no actual guarantee of screentime.  At least, I think that’s what her intention was.  It’s possible she just chose the absolute worst time to come on to me.  But even on top of that, there were those who waited in line for hours at the aforementioned casting call when they clearly didn’t meet the requirements of the roles we’d been posting everywhere.  There were those who went so far as to stake out my office to try and get phone numbers of people working on the film.  There were those who attempted to fake their ethnicities to try and land a role.  Film is a tough, tough industry to get into, especially when you’re looking to get in front of the camera.  That said, there’s a line there, and plenty of people who are willing to go way beyond it.

I think a large part of that desperation comes from the fact that for as powerful and far-reaching the film industry is, it’s actually quite small.  One of our advisors was a former prop master who retired in the nineties, yet even so any time we had a feature film in our or one of the surrounding areas, he knew at least a couple people who were working on the production.  For all the work Hollywood produces, and for all the people trying to make it in the industry, they only really use a small pool of workers, and if you spend any time working behind the scenes you’ll end up seeing a lot of the same faces over and over again.

Because of the way the film industry works, and in part because of the prevalence of film commissions like mine, it seems films rarely are actually shot where they’re set.  I live in a part of the country that’s been romanticized in a lot of older pop culture, and I’ve gotten a lot of interest in recreating rustic scenes in the style of older material.  Thing is, though, locations tend to be chosen based on the financials of the situation more than anything else.  Film is big business, so a lot of states and countries offer incentives to spend their money out there, basically paying back a chunk of the production budget they spend in the region.  My state, not so much.  There’ve been more than a few films coming out set in my section of the country, but actually shot in Canada.  We, in turn, have doubled for places like California, Montana, and the Midwest, when production companies found it economical for us to do so.

When I first started out, I always thought that films were meticulously planned out, with everything following a rigid structure decided on by the highest authorities with little room for flexibility.  Since then, I’ve found that things are never quite as solid as that.  Any film production, even the smallest of indie stuff, still has a lot of moving parts involved, and because of that, things go wrong constantly.  Weather turns against you, you don’t have the resources you thought you would, what worked out on paper just doesn’t fit on screen, random acts of God, whatever.  Productions do plan things out as much as they can, yes, but it seems that once you’re filming, operations are far more about rolling with whatever comes along and trying to make something good out of it than anything else.  Flexibility is key; it seems that there’s always a hundred different details that you didn’t expect, and the main thing that seperates a good production from a bad one is how they handle it.

I’ve found that, by and large, people working in the industry are quite friendly and helpful while they’re working with you, but have a tendency to absolutely forget about you once their job’s done.  I’ve had people go out of their way to get me the information I requested from them, go above and beyond to help me make sure they’re leaving a good impression for their industry on their community, and be incredibly flexible to help make my job easier.  Those same people often make promises to get something to the film industry as thanks for our help, almost always either a thanks in the credits or a copy of the finished work, and that has never happened.  It’s easy to be cynical about that, thinking that they were only helpful while they wanted my help then kicked me to the curb when they didn’t need me anymore, but I think it’s something more innocent than that.  As mentioned above, the film industry is surprisingly small, and oftentimes, you’re only employed for the duration of one production, before the whole team is disbanded.  A lot of people find jobs in the industry through personal referrals, and to get that, you need to have impressed on someone that you’re pleasant to work with.  Hence, they’ve gotten in the habit of being helpful.  However, since the industry tends to drop people from their jobs as soon as the production is finished, they’ve just gotten in the  mindset that once filming is over, they’re just done with it, no more involvement from them, and they put everything they’ve had to do aside to focus on the next project.  Even if it does leave your humble regional film commission director in the lurch.

The exception to the above that I’ve experienced at least are those people successful enough in the industry to become household names.  Now, I’ve only interacted with a few of them, so I can’t quite claim to have gotten a representative sample, but by and large, those with recognizable names have been quite helpful to me.  The big thing that kept the film commission going had been raffling, auctioning, or otherwise selling off autographed memorabilia.  And the ‘hey could you sign some stuff so we can make money off of it’ conversation was always way easier than I thought it would be.  They were always really helpful in getting me in contact with their staff, having stuff through the mail on time, and generally were always easy to work with to get us what we needed, even after they’d left the area long behind.  Again, I think this plays into the fact that you need to be pleasant to work with to keep getting called back, so those who really make it in the industry would need to be remarkably easy to work with.  On the other hand, never give an actor/actress a pen.  You will never see it again.

Debriefing the Film Fest

Dubai-Filmfestival-2010

So, last post, I mentioned that my week was not being kind to me.  It was shaking me down for time like a mobster to a dry cleaning store.  There was a reason for that.  For the past while, I’ve been working on a pretty large project.  Getting together a film festival.  Last week, and over the weekend, it happened.  It took a lot of time, a lot of labor, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it happen.  Although, in retrospect, the blood, sweat, and tears swimming pool was probably less of an attraction than I’d initially expected.  We could have done without that.  Still, I devoted a large portion of my life to pulling off this film festival, and now it’s done with.  That’s good!  But since it put so much of myself into it, even now, the festival’s still riding on my mind, so I wanted to take the opportunity to mentally put this stuff to rest by writing bits of my experience out.  Care to join me?

Unfortunately, our film festival was nowhere near as sexy as the picture above.  We’re still a very young festival, only in our second year, hosted in a small, rural location in a quiet mountain community.  We had booked one of the largest auditoriums in the area, and we could still only seat a few hundred people per showing without getting the fire department saying some very nasty things about us.  We’re a small event, is what I’m saying.  Still, that’s not entirely a bad thing.  We get enough people in that it’s worth us to show the films, worth the filmmakers screening the films, and worth the community to learn a bit of culture.  Trust me, that last one?  We need it here.

Anyways as a small operation, we have a pretty small team.  Last year we had about sizeable group managing the project, each taking up a different part of the duties and making sure the thing went off without a hitch.  This year?  Less than half of that.  We had the same amount of work to do, but with far less people to do so.  We did have a team of volunteers to help review films and work at the festival itself, but all the prep, organization, and heavy lifting?  Done by a fairly small committee.  That did have its benefits.  Last year we had the problem in that we just weren’t organized.  People were just taking whatever tasks they wanted, which left some areas with way more people than they needed, and some weren’t covered at all.  We ran a far smoother ship this year.  On the other hand… yeah.  Everyone was doing at least 2-3 different jobs.  FWhich, considering I was supposed to be doing this on a volunteer basis was a bit much.  I am really, really glad my employer was one of the sponsors of the event, because if they didn’t bend the rules and let me take care of this stuff on work time, I never would have been able to get through it.  We desperately needed another 2-3 people joining us on this project, just to take the load off of us.  I burnt out on it a couple of weeks before it actually started, and I can’t imagine I was the only one.

I’ve handled finances before for a wide variety of projects.  This was the first time that I’ve done so with a committee that wasn’t run by people with a lot of business/project management experience, however.  And that flipped things way the hell on its head.  One of the first things I learned this year is that I had to play the finances really close to the chest.  Money’s a powerful thing.  Money can change people.  Last year’s festival, we built it up from scratch.  This year’s festival, we had resources.  And that stuck in people’s heads.  I don’t normally like to keep people in the dark about what we’re able to do, but I had to this year.  Basically myself and the board of the festival’s parent organization were the only ones with a complete idea of the budget, everyone else had to be kept mostly in the dark.  Which, honestly ended up working out rather well.  The board was relatively flexible to what people wanted, but it did mean that they had to work out reasonable costs, what they think they could get approved rather than spending all of the money forever.  Things actually worked a bit more smoothly the less people knew of the total budget, which was quite the opposite of what I thought would actually happen.

Marketing was probably the biggest responsibility leading up to the festival, at least on my plate.  I was getting word out there pretty much every way I could think of.  The most effective marketing ended up coming from a pretty surprising source, however.  We got our program guides printed a week earlier than I expected, so I decided to use the extra time and get those out there with all the rest of the material.  And that probably got more people there than anyone else.  Everywhere I dropped them off with ran out.  Everyone I talked to about the festival left with a program.  I barely had enough for the festival itself.  It makes sense, telling people they can watch some cool films is one thing, but telling them they can watch these cool films is another.  Still, printing the programs was one of our biggest expenses, and I had thought that dollar for dollar, we’d be getting more worth elsewhere.  Nope, the festival programs probably brought in more people than any 3-4 marketing techniques combined.    Newspaper, radio, online ads, none of that worked so well as talking to people and handing them little pieces of paper stapled together.  Who knew.

One big revelation that I had already kind of suspected: the place I live is full of uncultured boors!  One thing that really seemed odd to me is that a lot of people wanted to live in the type of place that has a film festival more than they actually wanted to go to a film festival.  We’re still not big enough to be able to run the whole event off of our profits, so we have a lot of community groups and organizations providing grants and sponsorships, simply because they want the festival.  I sent all of them free festival passes as a thank you.  Not one of them got used.  And I should have expected it, but most of the locals were really only interested in films that affected them.  The two screenings I considered to be the best, most powerful ones were also the least attended.  The ones with the highest attendance were generally lighter, more surface-level stuff that were either made by local filmmakers with lots of connections or were made about local matters.

Machete Don’t Review

machete kills poster

Philosophical question here.  If someone deliberately tries to make a bad movie and succeeds gloriously, have they done something good?

To understand the background for the recently released Machete Kills, you have to start a couple films ago in 2007’s Grindhouse.  The directors of the film put trailers for fake movies in between each of Grindhouse’s segments, one of which for an over-the-top parody of 70’s exploitation films starring the film industry’s biggest “That One Guy”, Danny Trejo.  I imagine director Robert Rodriguez had planned to leave it at that, but the trailer turned out to be surprisingly popular, so of course they turned it into a movie.

And a wonderful movie it was.  Freed from the standard filmmaking constraints of “making sense” and “not being totally stupid”, 2010’s Machete was a celebration of wild badassery and rampant sex, forming a modern take on the blaxploitation craze while straddling the line of parody the whole way through.  Sporting more fake blood than that weird uncle of yours on Halloween and less plot sense than the ending to Mass Effect 3, Machete was such a beautifully dumb action movie that nevertheless has some real substance behind it.

So how exactly do you follow that up?  How do you make a sequel based on a joke that’s already been told?  Well, apparently, you make Machete Kills.

The obvious thing to do when creating a sequel to something where the main selling point is just how excessive everything is would be to just push the envelope even further.  Take the dials that are already at eleven, and twist them up to 15 or so.  Get the party loud enough to where you start blowing out your neighbor’s windows.  Machete Kills, on the other hand, tones things down considerably.  It’s like the neighbor comes over and politely asks you to turn your music down, and you actually listen.  Who even does that?!

But yeah, the sequel is much less extreme than the original was.  The violence is less inventive and more restrained, the sexual content is mostly gone, and many of the traditional ‘exploitation’ elements have just been forgotten.  And honestly, that last one is probably the biggest factor dragging this movie down.  While it never stops being so self-awarely redonkulous, Machete Kills does not seem to poke as much fun at its subject matter as its predecessor did.  And when you’re not being tongue-in-cheek about many of the moments presented, it just kind of creates a bit of dissonance, like you’re expecting the viewer to take some of the craziest pieces seriously.

One of the biggest draws of the first Machete was getting name actors in the most bizarre roles, and in some senses, the casting of Machete Kills may be even better in that regard.  Obviously, Danny “I can’t believe he’s finally getting a starring role” Trejo returns as the title character, with Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba also reprising their roles from the last film.  They’re joined by Charlie Sheen making a four-course meal out of the scenery as President Rathcock, Mel Gibson hamming it up as one of the primary villains, and Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas all showing up and having nothing to do with anything really.  But honestly, the stunt casting really works out well in this movie.  Gibson in particular seemed to be having a huge amount of fun in his role, more so than in any other movie I’ve seen him in.

All in all, Machete Kills seems to lack the spirit the original had.  They’re both stupid frenzied movies, to be sure, but the sequel doesn’t quite feel as personal as the previous one did.  The first Machete had a surprising amount of substance for what it was.  It was a movie with things to say, and while it said them by essentially screaming obscenities into a bullhorn, its content all worked well together, fitting the pieces into a very solid whole.  Machete Kills, on the other hand, seems much more disjointed and indecisive.  Events seem to happen randomly, the tone and themes vary wildly and drop easily, and there are a lot of characters and plot points that never seem to connect with the main plot.  That’s not to say there’s nothing of value here; there are a couple of smart things the movie does, particularly one where the ending connects with what seemed to be a throwaway gag in the beginning in such a major way.  But for the most part, it feels a lot like they were just throwing ideas out there and not paying attention to what actually worked together, rather than building a cohesive whole.

That’s not to say it’s a bad movie.  It’s not.  It’s alright, if you’re into action fare and don’t mind a healthy dose of deliberate stupidity.  Problem is, it’s just not as good as the first one, and since the movie seems to operate with the assumption that you’ve already watched that movie, well, why would you not just go for that instead?

Man of Steel, Film of Crap

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So, let’s try and start this review off on a positive foot.  Let’s list the things I like about the movie.

1.  It sure is pretty.  The visual design is very striking. The special effects are held to a high standard, and there’s a lot of them in the film.

2.  The casting was excellent.  A lot of good, big-name actors that really fit their roles.

3.  Henry Cavill looks really, really good with his shirt off.

There.  That’s it.  That’s all the good things I have to say about the film.  Other than those, it is absolute dreck.  It is a case study in style over substance, expecting the viewer to get distracted by all the shiny, shiny visuals and completely ignore the absolute incompetence in actually delivering a film.  I didn’t like it, is what I’m trying to say.  Is that coming through at all?  There was barely any characterization, the plot was completely forgettable, and the action… well.  Let me preface this by saying I loved 300, from the same director as this movie.  I count Tony Jaa’s The Protector as one of my favorite movies, and everything in that film is delivered by fist.  I have a special place in my heart for “action porn”, those movies where the plot is just an excuse to make people’s bones break.  So, in light of that, when I say I got bored with the nonstop action in Man of Steel, you know it means something.  The introduction is bloated, while the main plot barely goes anywhere.  And the film is just joyless.  That’s the best way I have to describe it.

The problems come from the filmmakers trying too hard on half the things, and not trying at all on the rest.  Take the aforementioned fight scenes that make up most of the movie.  Sure, it was exciting at first, to see a bunch of kryptonians pounding on each other.  Yet they went on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay toooooooooooooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooooooong without any progress whatsoever!   Superman couldn’t hurt the villains, they couldn’t hurt him, and neither really had much to gain from the early fights, yet they kept ineffectually slapping at each other anyway.  It was obvious they were trying to make the viewer have the feels of ‘OMG THIS IS AWESOOOOOOOOOOOME!!!!!”, what with everything that could conceivably explode doing so five times at once and the stuff that wouldn’t explode only doing so once, yet the action took forever to get anywhere, and it just got dull.  And worst yet, between the shakycam and the constantly changing camera angles, techniques that are supposed to inject energy into fight scenes, it was almost impossible to keep track of what was going on.

On the barely caring side, we can use the characterization for an example.  I was reminded of nothing more than crappy teenage fanfiction in this film.  Oh, there’s certainly nods towards developing characters, such as Superman ‘learning’ humility from his Earth dad teaching him that letting people die was more important than people knowing that somebody has superpowers, but the attempts never actually went everywhere.  Beyond that, nothing.  Superman had barely any motivation, and little character.  It wasn’t the actor’s fault, Cavill just wasn’t given much material to work with.  There was nothing to him.  He was far more of a plot device than he was an actual person.  The worst is Lois Lane.  Again, it’s not Amy Adams fault, the entire character seems to have been written like a bad Mary Sue.  She’s able to intimidate career military officers, can outgun trained soldiers, figures out who Superman is effortlessly, and the protagonist instantly falls in love with her with absolutely no development, yet she contributes nothing to the plot!  You could write her out completely, and the movie would be exactly the same.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the early drafts didn’t have Lois Lane in them at all.

And the entire film is like that.  It tries too hard with the issue of Clark Kent being accepted on Earth, and balances that out by not trying at all to have a plot beyond ‘dudes show up, superman punches them’.  It tries too hard to make the kryptonian culture seem alien, then doesn’t try at all to make its secondary characters matter.  And so it goes.  It was constantly trying to make me feel the feels that I didn’t really feel, and I was left aghast at all the obvious shortcomings.  So that’s my review.  This film is crap.

You make your own Demons:Iron Man 3 Review

iron-man-3

We write about a number of things here at Lost to the Aether.  Mostly video games and writing.  That’s two things.  Two’s a number.  It seems to me that both my writing posts and my video games posts have their own audiences, and when I write about one it tends to alienate the other.

Well that’s not good enough for me!  It’s inherently unfair!  So with this post, in a move for equality, we’re going to alienate both groups equally and talk about movies!  Besides, it’s so rare I get to talk about something topical.  We’re going to review Iron Man 3, out in theatres for a couple of days now.

The original Iron Man movie was good, momentously so.  It was one of the films that performed solidly enough to bring life to the superhero movie genre, and is one of the few superhero films to make an origin story entertaining.  Iron Man 2 took all that momentum, and let it fly away.  Let’s not talk about Iron Man 2.  Following that, Tony Stark and Iron Man stole the show with the Avengers, leading the pack in one of the highest grossing films of all time.  There’s some good legacy built up behind the franchise, is what I’m saying.  So how does Iron Man 3 hold up?  Is it a worthy successor to the films that have come before it?  Is this the life changing movie of the summer?

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