Project G-A Primer

Man, you remember when I used to do series?  Have a particular idea or theme I was wanting to have across several posts to build off each other, or more thoroughly explore a work or franchise?  And how at least half of them I never bothered actually finishing?  Yeah, good times.  We should do that again.  And you know what, let’s do that again here!

So, a while back, I did something for like the second time in like three years.  I went to see a movie in the theater.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters, in fact.  I’d been kind of a passive Godzilla fan for a while.  I’ve seen more of the Godzilla stuff than your average, less sexy general consumer, and probably enjoyed all the stuff it has to offer way more than most, but I’ve rarely made a point of getting into something Godzilla when it wasn’t right there in front of me.  I caught the 2014 Godzilla in theaters, and thought it was all right, although it was the first movie that I watched after I left the film industry that I ended up with an overall positive experience of.  Still, I found myself inexplicably excited for King of the Monsters.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Aether, my main man, don’t you have issues with watching movies?  And didn’t King of the Monsters get really mixed reviews?  This doesn’t seem like a good time.” On the contrary, this ended up being the best time with a movie I’ve had in… I don’t know how long.  It was perfect for me.  Part of it may be expectations.  I remember talking to a few people about my hopes going into the film, hoping that it would be at least a little stupid, but not too stupid, and that it would revel in it’s own big dumb monsters fights in a satisfying way.  And I’ve never had a movie that delivered what I needed from it so fully.  It is exactly the right level of stupid, it relishes its monster fights, and, for me, one of the best things is that about 90% of the movie was done either on a sound stage or by CGI, which are two aspects of production that I never had anything to do with when I worked in film, and therefore don’t trigger my burnout-induced stresses that often come with watching a movie.  So, whomever you are on the film crew for that movie that is a devoted follower of this blog because that’s the only likely way you’d know so much about me, thank you so much for making a movie that’s just for me.

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In any case, after my time with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I found myself diving deep into my inner Godzilla fangirl.  Snapping up all the movies I could easily get my hands on, pouring hours into going through them, reminiscing about all the other Godzilla properties I’ve spent time with, I don’t think I can call myself a ‘passive’ Godzilla fan any longer.

Which brings us into this series I’m going to start here.  I’m spending all this time with the movies, I figured I’d at least build some content around it.  Godzilla’s been around for close to 65 years now, with more than 30 films made, with widely varying levels of quality and availability, and I haven’t been able to build up a complete library of Godzilla films overnight.  As such, this may not be a comprehensive look at the Godzilla films.  But I am going to at least put together some mini-reviews for all the Godzilla films I’ve been able to collect.  So, I call this a series, but that’s really just what it will be.  A bunch of small reviews.

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Before I get into doing that, though, I wanted to go over how these films all fit together, because I think some groundwork there will be useful in understanding these things once we get into a bit more of the nitty gritty.  One of the things I particularly enjoy about the Godzilla films is that in general, the continuity is handled in a way that, largely, you could make whatever you want out of it.  The movies may be very, very different, and there’s a couple of separate timelines and continuities there, but you can always just pick up a movie and watch it, if you were so inclined.  The individual stories are almost entirely self-contained, and for the bits that do follow up from previous films, they will explain clearly what happened in those films and how it’s leading to things now.  There is absolutely zero continuity lockout in this things, and you could start from any point and be right where you need to be.  And frankly, there’s a lot of room for headcanon in there too.  There’s the official lines, sure, and things may not always match up between series, but it’s wiggly enough that if you wanted to, you could consider things pretty much happening all in one go, with different Godzillas growing up and stomping around at different times.

That said, there are a couple of factors that could be useful to keep in mind as we’re going through this.  Biggest one is just the eras of Godzilla we’re looking at here.  Toho will typically produce Godzilla films in clumps, doing them over a span of time while people are really interested in them.  Then, when interest starts to wane, so as to avoid making things overdone, Toho will put the franchise on hiatus for a decade or so, to give it time so that it’s more fresh when they come back to it.  As they bring Godzilla back, they’ll reboot the continuity, starting after the first movie.  Usually, each span of time will be creatively rather different as well.

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As far as the movies go, you start, obviously, with the original Godzilla in 1954.  No matter what the other films do with their timelines (except for the American-made Monsterverse films and Shin Godzilla, which start everything over completely), the original Godzilla is fixed point in history.  The first Godzilla known to man always attacked Japan in 1954, Japan was always helpless against him, and he was (almost) always killed by Dr. Serizawa weaponizing his newest, fearsome scientific discovery.

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Then, some time later, a new Godzilla arose to terrify the world.  What happened there, though, varies.  The various series of Godzilla films are named after the Japanese eras in which they were largely made.  The first of those is the Showa series, which is what most people think of when they think of Godzilla.  Probably where the films made their biggest overall impact.  The Showa series came out in a time where the Japanese film industry as a whole was really troubled, and although they did have home-grown successes of all types, the only types of films that could consistently bring in a profitable audience where kids’ movies.  The first two Godzilla films are thoughtful horror movies akin to the classic King Kong.  If they stayed that way, though, the franchise probably wouldn’t have survived this long.  Bowing to the market of the time, from the third movie on, Godzilla movies where either ‘all-ages’ or outright children movies.  This is where you see the campy, goofy Godzilla, basically pro-wrestling in rubber suits.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s helpful to know what to expect.  When you think of cheesy Godzilla movies, the scenes you may be remembering probably came from this era.  This is where the big dumb Godzilla dropkick was.  This is where you saw Godzilla dancing.  And although this isn’t the only place to find Godzilla goofiness, this is where it was most concentrated.

And although the first Godzilla movie pretty much stands outside the series structure, it’s considered a Showa era film, so next time you’re trying to impress that fly honey at one of those Godzilla parties that go on all over the place all the time, make sure you include the original in the Showa films or he/she is just going to think you’re a big nerd.

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The Showa series ended in the 70s.  Godzilla was on hiatus for a while, until they came back with a new film in 1984.  The developers, recognizing the trajectory the original series was on, wanted to go back to its roots and start fresh with the dark, heavy tone that the first movie set.  So, The Return of Godzilla, the first movie of the Heisei series, rebooted the timeline to just after the first movie, and had a new Godzilla attacking Japan 30 years later, taking the next step from the original film while also maintaining a lot of the sci-fi elements that the later films had brought.  Other films in the series followed suit.  The Heisei series definitely has it’s own goofy moments, some of them really goofy, but it plays everything a lot more seriously than the Showa series did, and it’s rare that you’ll find instances of deliberate humor in there.  It still revels in its fun big monster fights, but it does so seriously.  Serious face :I.  It has a bit more of a sense of continuity; there’s a couple of recurring characters, the G-force organization is at the heart of most of the movies, and fairly often new villains are created as a result of past happenings in this Godzilla timeline.  You can also tell that the special effects team was really excited about being able to put lasers on screen here.  In most other eras, most of the monsters will fight physically most of the time, with the various breath and other distance weapons being reserved for special occasions, when you really just need to hit the big guy hard or when you need a whole lot of things destroyed right now.  In the Heisei era, though, monster combat is mostly done through beam spam.  Lasers, breath weapons, special moves, the monsters are definitely at their flashiest here.

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Then, in the 90s, the Heisei films started slowing down.  As a result, Toho put their Godzilla films on hiatus again.  This time though, we weren’t going to lack for Godzilla in general, just their version of Godzilla.  Instead, they were going to give Tri-star a shot at making their own Godzilla universe in America.  Plan was for Toho to be on hiatus and Tri-star leading the way for Godzilla for about ten years.  Tri-star’s Godzilla film came out in 1998.  It… wasn’t good.  Toho wasn’t willing to let that be the lingering memory anyone had of Godzilla, so they broke their hiatus early and came out with the Millennium series of films.  Probably the biggest notable thing about the Millennium series is that every single film with one exception is in a continuity of it’s own.  Like The Return of Godzilla did, although most of these came out within a year of each other, they all take things back to just after the first movie.  Some of them do recreate events in the backstory between the first movie and this one, but that’s always independent of any of the other movies, and doesn’t match up with anything we’ve seen on film so far.  This series is less consistent, in general, in terms of creative design between films, but overall, it strikes a balance between the goofiness of the Showa series and that seriousness of the Heisei.  It’s also of pretty mixed quality, but the good films of this series are some of the best Godzilla movies overall.  In my not-so-humble opinion.

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Then the series was put on hiatus again after all that was done.  Ten years later, Toho decided to trust an American producer again, licensing Godzilla to Legendary Pictures for what would become their Monsterverse.  That’s still ongoing, with two Godzilla movies on deck so far as well as one where Godzilla made a cameo, and a third already in post-production, and it will be ongoing until at least 2021.  Contrary to last time, Toho seems very happy with what Legendary is doing, and is satisfied with allowing them to take the lead.  The Monsterverse, so far, restarts Godzilla and most of it’s associated features from an American perspective, while also slowly combining it with what they’re doing with the King Kong reboot.  It offers a new take on the classic Godzilla format while also being really faithful to what worked with Toho’s films, and with the latest release, is starting to build a world unique to itself.  I’ve been a fan of it.

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Toho has returned to the Godzilla well a few times, however, although they haven’t made a dedicated effort to establish a new series.  It seems that so far, with what’s being called the Reiwa series, they’re mostly doing it when the creative opportunity for something unique presents itself instead of really trying to establish a market position for it the way most film producers would.  So far, we’ve got one movie and a trilogy of anime films out of the Reiwa series, both of which are taking the normal Godzilla formula and twisting it into new forms, well beyond what’s been done before, that essentially require these movies stand apart from anything else that would typically be going on with Godzilla.

So…. that’s that.  Here’s a big old post where I’m creating content that’s mostly talking about how I’m going to create content later.  Have I ever mentioned that I work for the government?  We love recursivity.  In any case, I’ll see you guys down the line.

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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.

Debriefing the Film Fest

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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

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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

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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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When Writers Get it Wrong: Interpretation and Authorial Intent

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Every form of art, every bit of media, every story told, it all relies on the reader’s interpretation. That’s just how these things work. Everyone has their own personal lens through which they view these things. Stories do have different depths, of course. Something like George Orwell’s Animal Farm is meant to be analyzed at a far deeper level than the average Jason Statham face-kicking action movie. They both still require interpretation to get their point across to the viewer. Every artist has to leave it up to the viewer to interpret why it’s OK for Jason Statham to kick all those faces off, why his face-kicking cause is a noble one, and why kicking everyone’s face is going to help him achieve his goals. Thing is, it’s impossible to tell how one random person is going to read things. Everyone has their own unique set of experiences, preferences, morals, etc., and that colors they way they absorb this sort of stuff. Everyone’s going to read a story just a little bit differently. All the artist can do is put their content up there and hope the viewer is going to read it the way they expect.

Stories are what the reader reads, not what the writer writes. That’s just the way they work. The writer can use all the pretty prose and flowery phrases available to them when writing the perfect content to get across their point, but no matter how well crafted they are, words on paper are still just words on paper until the reader absorbs them. And readers don’t always read things the way the author intends. Those pesky consumers are always applying their own perspectives to what the artist lays out. It’s a beautiful thing, though. That’s what makes morals hit home, makes art more than just ink on a page or lights on a screen, makes stories apply to you personally. But what happens if the writer intends one thing, and you see another? Or what if the filmmaker intends something simple, while you find something deep and grandiose?

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