Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review: Justice League

This was a very nice two-hour television pilot with a lot of special effects, and a plot barely strong enough to hold the film together. If it were compared to Marvel films, I would say it was on part with Thor, the first one. This review will discuss a plot point in the review, though, I don't think I can spoil anything. In case you haven't guessed already, Superman will be coming back from the dead, and the villain will not destroy Earth--he can't, this is only the start of the franchise.

Premise: an alien threat called Steppenwolf has come to Earth after an attempt to conquer the planet in the days that time forgot. When he was driven off the planet the first time, he left three MacGuffin devices called Mother Boxes that he can use to reshape any planet to his wishes. If he gets his hands on the Mother Boxes, it's game over. Batfleck (sorry, Batman, played by Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman have to assemble the World's Mightiest Heroes (Trademark, Marvel) to find the Mother Boxes, and stop Steppenwolf.

Yes, Steppenwolf is Sauron, and the mother boxes are the Infinity Stones / One Ring / Genesis device.

For the record, that's the plot. The entire plot. Steppenwolf is a killing machine out to rule everything, and he's going to get the Mother boxes. That's his motivation, character, and arc. I literally can't even pad his appearance anymore. Unlike other people, I didn't mind his CGI form ... though I did object to the lip sync. Did anyone else think the mouth didn't match the dialogue?

But Steppenwolf is such a small part of this movie, he's barely worth talking about.

This film is ... okay, with a lot of great scenes. And the scenes are what keep this film from being a total failure.

Ezra Miller as The Flash is remarkably charming as "awkward nerd." And it's clear that he, like everyone else, is as the start of his hero career. And, no, we HAVEN'T seen all of the various and sundry good bits in the trailers.

... But you can find them on YouTube.

Jason Momoa's Aquaman had several fun parts, and they definitely don't want to go anywhere near the blond in the orange scales as seen in Superfriends. I think someone concluded that they had a show stopper here, and they let him try to stop the show. The best bit is him waxing on about how yeah, they're going to die, but it's a good cause to go out for as long as they stop Steppenwolf, etc etc, and it goes on for nearly two minutes ... before he realizes he's sitting on the lasso of truth.

Batfleck works a lot more than I thought he would. And he is definitely the "I'm getting too old for this" Batman as he gets beaten up, a lot. But you can believe he's Batman. You might even believe him as Bruce Wayne. There's exactly one line of dialogue I would have had rewritten, but otherwise, he was spot on.

Wonder Woman... Gal Gadot still surprises as Wonder Woman. She just works. I don't know why, she does. And she has good chemistry with Batfleck -- not sexual chemistry, though Alfred does make fun of Batman for being interested in her, despite no visible interest when the two are on screen together.

And I will compliment Ray Fisher's Cyborg / Victor Stone as being a great performance, acting through heavy CGI on his face.

So that's that positives in this one: the team is the strength here. The characters interacting is the main joy in this film. As for the overall film eh. There is no tension here. It's a world-ending threat, yet the biggest sense of danger in the movie was from ... Superman. Yes, went they bring Superman back from the dead, he wakes up cranky, and you genuinely believe that he's going to rip Batman's head off. But outside of that...wait, is Superman smiling? He's not allowed to smile! This is a Zack Snyder movie! I might actually believe this guy is Superman. But, again, downside: Henry Cavill's resurrection as Superman was so strange, and added so little, all I could think is "If this is the payoff, why did they kill him in the first place?"

And there is so much that's just off here. For example, Victor Stone becomes Cyborg after being in an accident that kills his mother, and his father uses the Mother Box to bring him back from the dead with machine parts. There's a lot of dramatic potential here. Victor feels like a freak and an outcast. He resents his father for keeping him alive like, this, and he hears an alien voice in his head from the mother box computer code. He's even cranky to Wonder Woman. Then, Cyborg's father is kidnapped by our villain. His father is saved, and Victor is on the team .... and he disappears from the rest of the film. Poof, he's gone. I've seen damsels in distress who have had more screen time. So much dramatic tension is drained from the film, and the character.

There's a lot of that going around. There's a scene with Wonder Woman and Batman after one battle that's just the two of them. There were several ways the scene could have gone, from "I'm too old for this" to "This is why we need the superpowered everybody: I'm breakable" to just following through on the romantic tension between the two of them that was clearly supposed to be in the movie.

I know that Justice League had reshoots, possibly even the final edits, done by Joss Whedon. He even has a writing credit here. Whedon started his career as a script doctor. The writer credited for Speed has said that Whedon rewrote most of the dialogue. So you'd think that if there were problems here, Whedon would fix it. No matter his personal issues, he doesn't suck at his job. But it's clear that there were instructions for the film to be exactly 120 minutes, and there are a lot of scenes where you can see the danging threads from where there were obvious cuts. If there's an extended edition, I'll try it.

Over all, the execution was serviceable. But it's Justice League. It should have been more than that. Technically, we didn't need dramatic, we needed grand and big, and we didn't get that. Don't get me wrong, it generally works. The main characters were likable. But there are things like plot, and tension. Hint: we shouldn't have more tension from a hero than the world-ending villain.

And why is the only person in the entire film to say "League" is Lex Luthor in the after-credits scene?

Taken together, I think this is a case where the sum is not greater than the finished product. The individual scenes and moments and little touches in this one are better than the film as a whole. And while I hate using this phrase... ahem... IF THEY'RE SMART...  this is a way for them to skip all of the origin stories in the individual movies, which is a good move, but there should have been more in this film.

I don't think you need to see this one on the big screen in order to appreciate it. Save your money, watch it on DVD. It's cheaper than evening tickets for two to the theater.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What The Last Jedi Needs to do to Save Star Wars

I'm not one of the legion of people who hated The Force Awakens.

I didn't cry "Mary Sue!" at Rey (Mary Sues are supposed to be super-competent, she comes off as super-lucky at best).

I didn't whine that I wanted Heir to the Empire on film (though would it have killed them to have Zahn write the screenplay? Really?).

Though, Good God, they needed about a truckload of exposition to make things make sense. I never thought I'd insist that a movie stop to just explain things.

Seriously, simple lines would have helped. ONE LINE would have helped in 90% of the cases. And I'll show you how in a minute.

But right now, I'll give you one fix, one major fix that would solve a lot of problems. Ready? Here we go....


No, really, tell these people to shut up. I don't think I would have even noticed race in The Force Awakens if some idiot didn't boast about "We've got a Spaniard and a black guy, and womyn! ALL THE WOMYN. And this character is even a Lesbian!!!!!"

....No, really, just shut up people. The more you talk, the more I want to smother you with a pillow.

Yes, for the record, there's supposed to be lesbian character in The Last Jedi... though I have a side bet with myself that if we weren't explicitly told, we wouldn't notice, and possibly not even notice anyway.

But, yes, much of The Last Jedi's job will be double duty. It has to insert backstory, as well as a lot of exposition that should have been in The Force Awakens.

But as I said, luckily, it will require very little actual effort on their part.

Complaint: "First Order? The Resistance? WTF?"

Fix for The Last Jedi: Explain. Everything. Rey's been on not-Tatooine for her life, hearing bits and pieces of the story. Somebody can explain everything, and it should technically work. Assuming no one screwed THAT up. The best I can put together from online reseach, the line is simple..
Luke: The First Order is what's left of the Empire. The Resistance is the New Republic's mercenary army, hired and assembled specifically to wipe out the First Order.
There is a ton of this sort of crap scattered throughout The Force Awakens. Heck, there are problems here that we didn't even know at the time. Heck, the star destroyer we see in the desert after a TIE fighter crashes? That was apparently part of a major battle that happened after The Return of the Jedi. Would have been nice to know that, yes?  Seriously, can we have any idea what happened between point A and point B? Is that too much to ask? I'm not going to read Chuck Wendig. Ever.

Though, honestly, most of these could be fixed with a simple line here and there. 


Fix for The Last Jedi.
Rey: "Of course I can fix parts on the Falcon. I've spent my life in the guts of an Imperial Star Destroyer, taking apart far better tech."
... Also, does anyone remember Empire Strikes Back? Half the movie is showing Han try to fix the Falcon, badly, and failing.


Fix for The Last Jedi.
Rey: "Saying I flew the Falcon ... is generous. More like falling with the engines on."
Seriously, people saw that she was flying awesomely. I saw that she was pulling at whatever controls would work.


Fix for The Last Jedi.
Luke: "You've seen Chewie's bowcaster. It's basically artillery. He shot Kylo Ren with it. If Kylo weren't busy bleeding out all over the place, or if you hadn't spent so much time running, you would have been bantha fodder. You've got some nice basic moves for a stick fighter, but you need more if you ever fight him when he's healthy."

Seriously, if you look at the behind the scenes portions, the stunt team trained Daisy Ridley (Rey) working on the presumption of simple stick fighting.

They actually put real thought into this ... they just didn't EXPLAIN anything.


Fix for The Last Jedi.... None needed.

No. Really. We've all see how bad Stormtroopers are. They can't even hit anything. The joke is that a Stormtrooper fires at a red shirt, misses, the red shirt dies anyway.

I'm surprised "The First Order" has any competent people.

Complaint: "A Stormtrooper on sanitation? Really?"

Fix for The Last Jedi: I'm not sure any is needed. Vet friends of mine tell me that people who make that complaint have simply never worked in the military.


Fix for The Last Jedi.

Apparently, in the novel, they actually spell out that Kylo Ren mind-reading Rey unlocked her force abilities. Which is nice, but EXPLAIN IN THE MOVIE, PLEASE.

I don't actually have a problem with that, actually. Why? Because I saw Doctor Who do this with "The Girl in the Fireplace," and the girl there didn't have any force abilities. As the BBC show said, "An open door goes both ways," or something like that.

And in A New Hope, we're supposed to infer that Luke was already a good shot because of the Force, he just didn't know it yet. And this translates into him blowing up a Death Star, in a fighter he's never flown before.

Frankly, I thought the scene with the Storm trooper and "leave the gun" was just funny as heck. Then again, not like the trooper's have the best minds in the Empire.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Politics Kills Mercedes Grabowski (August Ames)

Let me tell you about a girl. She was born Mercedes Grabowski. When she was 17 (maybe 18) in Canada, she tended bar to make ends meet. She also liked liked Justin Bieber, a comedian named Daryn Jones, and followed MTV Canada. There's no accounting for taste when you're a teenager, so there will be no jokes about Bieber or MTV.

As you can see from her photo on the right -- taken from her long-abandoned Twitter account of 2011, @MercedesGskiii-- she was a pretty girl, even underneath the photo filter.

Her career would be unconventional, to say the least.

In 2013, she entered the world of "adult entertainment." Porn

Mercedes worked under the professional name of August Ames. Now I can't say that I'd be a particular fan of hers, were I a connoisseur of the genre. She seems a little augments to me in many of her photos (see below pic). But, as you can see, she's a pretty girl.  She has pretty eyes and a nice smile.

Earlier this month, she declined a scene with a male actor who had done male-on -male porn. I'm specific about it because I cannot merely say say "gay porn"--Miss Grabowski has been with girls during her 4 year career, so calling her homophobic is insane.

Like I said, a bit augmented -- the lips.
Again, pretty eyes.
Earlier this week, she pointed out on Twitter that her issue in starring with a man who's done other men was a simple health concern. Apparently, unlike the heterosexual porn market, the male-male scene does not require blood screening, or heavily utilize condoms, so this has red flares going up all over the place as an STD warning. Growing up in a house of microbiologists, PAs, pathologists, and medical educators, I can't help but concur with her issues.

Miss Grabowski posted about this on Twitter at the start of the week.

SJW jerks lost their minds. How dare she not sleep with a bi man! How homophobic must she be! Again, this about a girl whose been with other girls, so they should check their privilege, namaste, yo, right?

But no, SJW trolls came up from under their bridges and tried to feast upon her soul. Even other members of her profession decided to virtue signal their little hearts out in an attempt to shame her into compliance.

Three days later, on December 6th, Mercedes Grabowski, aka August Ames, hanged herself.

She was 23 years old....

...One more time.

She was 23 YEARS OLD. And she gets driven to suicide by a bunch of mealy mouthed sons of bitches on the internet because she wouldn't sleep with who she was told?  Funny, ain't leftists supposed to be the pastry of "it's my body, nobody tells me what to do with it"? But oh no, refuse to sleep with a guy of the approved victim group, and they break out the torches and pitchforks. Gee, isn't the pro-porn argument that these are consenting adults who can sleep with who they like? Isn't the difference between porn and sex slavery HAVING A CHOICE IN THE MATTER? Isn't that the choice between porn and RAPE?

But it's Liberal Leftist jerks, they're "pro-choice," but make only the choices that they like, or to Hell with you. Literally.

I'm sorry, this pisses me off more than I can intellectually grasp. I don't think I could have picked her out of a line up if I passed her on the street, and I had to look up the details about her live so I could find out anything about her. I knew nothing about her when I heard about her death, and this still makes me angry.

She was 23 years old, damn it. She was a kid. She was entering Kindergarten when I was entering college. Even if you don't approve of her profession, that's THE PROFESSION. Personally, I don't approve of the job. I don't like the job of "politician" either. There's usually a good reason for people doing what they do. Miss Grabowski suffered from depression, according to her friends. For all I know, her career was self medication. I neither know or care. It was her decision. Heck, I can think more than a few of her coworkers who retire, raise families, have careers, get degrees, and have a real life.

But no, all those options are gone because SJW schmucks decided to pick on someone with her own mental health issues. Great. Just great. Hope they're proud of themselves.

She was a kid who was was maliciously hounded to death by the creatures of the night who decided that her rights ended when they conflicted with the ideals of the shallow beasts who call themselves "Liberals," but wouldn't know anything about Liberty if it bit them on the ass.

Hell, I have seen more kindness and understanding and sympathy for this poor dead girl from her fans and some of her coworkers on Twitter than I have from the butthurt Leftists schmucks who drove her to it. In fact, I've seen some people online saying that they wished Miss Grabowski didn't kill herself because THEY HAD MORE TO EXPLAIN TO HER. "I wish she didn't die, I could have talked down to her more." What sort of inhuman monster does that?

And, of course, this was the same time period the #MeToo crowd was popular on the internet, and these same people Tweeting "#MeToo" .... were going to bully someone into sex she doesn't want to have. Nicely done, you leftist douche bags, you really are rape culture. Thumbs up, all the way.

Thankfully, those self-same asshats are busy crying "brutality" now that all of Miss Grabowski's fans know that she's dead, and who drove her to it. Fun fact: bullies don't like it when they get ganged up on and beaten like a drum. A gang-bang if you will.

I have friends who have stated that there will be criminal charges over this. Hopefully, there will be.

In his Inferno, Dante wrote that those people who drove people to despair were planted upside down, up to their ankles in in boiling excrement. This is why.

Surprisingly, Miss Grabowski was more forgiving than I would have been.

Pity she wasn't allowed to find any of her own.