Movie Diary – December 2018

Some people like to belittle the world of franchise films and wonder why movies are constantly expanding universes and sequels and I’m here to tell you it is because of ME because I saw 4 movies this month and they all ruled and all were part of massive franchises. So, in the order I saw them…

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I’ll save you from scrolling too far south on this post: This was the best movie I saw this month. I took my kids, knowing this was going to be a better Spider-Man adventure than Infinity War. My big gripe with IW is of course that (spoilers!) Spider-Man dies. I figured this would be a better outing for my 7 year old son who loves Spider-Man. Imagine my shock when (spoilers again!) Spider-Man dies in this movie too, in the first act.
But while that was bad, it set up for all these other Spiders to replace him. And it is FUNNY. It is a PG family movie that has action and adventure and is really funny. I adored The Incredibles and its sequel and I am so happy that a very different family super hero movie can join those ranks as a go-to movie for Saturday nights on the couch.
Into the Spider-Verse is visually unlike any other movie I’ve seen. It emulates not just a hand drawn style, but the coloring mimics comic book publishing specifically, even if that kind of coloring wasn’t in use when Miles Morales was first introduced to the world.
When it was over, my son was asking about Miles and my daughter was asking about Gwen, and it seems like there is a Spidey for everyone. Of course a day later all they talked about was Spider-Ham, but they are kids.

Once Upon a Deadpool
I missed Deadpool 2 the first time around so I jumped at the chance to see it in a way that would differ from a home viewing. The bit with Fred Savage added is a clever framing device for the PG13 edit, but I have to tell you, this still behaves like a very R rated movie. A few *bleeped* F-words and probably some sexual situations subtracted doesn’t make this “family friendly” at all. I’m open to seeing the original cut of the movie now, but kinda hope they double dip for this version on home video too since it was so funny.
Added bonus: added tributes to Stan Lee. The grafitti wall art of Lee was in the original cut, but the new version has an “R.I.P.” added next to his smiling face. Post credits also includes outtakes from Lee’s cameo in the Deadpool 2 teaser trailer.

I swore I wouldn’t pay to see another Transformers movie. Each of the live action entries has been worse than the one before it. I wanted the movies to end either go away or be rebooted. Then Bumblebee. New director, new cast, new style. There is so much going for it. And it worked. I loved it. The opening scene is a high budget CG animation of something we would have seen in the 1986 movie. Decepticons corner the Autbots on Cybertron, forcing them to escape. While this is cool to watch, it also directly contradicts stuff from the previous movies. And as the movie continues, it is a course correction. Bee loses his voice, becomes the VW beetle, and so on, but every time they could lose a convention from the Michael Bay movies, they did. The movie plays like a remake of The Iron Giant, but given how that shapes the tone of the movie and forces it away from Bay’s perversions, I’m fine with that.
Judging by how much has changed in the last six months or so with the movie, it would not shock me if this is the reboot I was hoping for. I liked the 2007 movie, it is imperfect but has some heart and does things we never saw before. If this was the movie we got in 2007, we’d be a lot better off. It now looks like Bumblebee is the “First Class” of this franchise, setting up a new series without the last few lousy entries.


Its true. We go a PG-13 Deadpool movie. We got the BEST Spider-Man movie from a Sony animation studio. We got a great Transformers movie with no weird sexual stuff. It is a month of miracles.
The biggest miracle of them all is Aquaman. This movie had no business being this fun. Three years ago we saw Jason Momoa holding his breath under water in cell phone footage in Batman V Superman, and I never would have guess that a spin off would spin this far off.
As you know, I liked Justice League, but even I wouldn’t have cited Aquaman as a highlight. He has become kind of a joke with the “My Man!” stuff and the weird lens Snyder and DC cast him through, as a kind of drunk and surly bruiser. By the time Justice League finally came out and under-performed, they were knee deep in making Aquaman a movie and I have no idea what happened. It is as if no one told anyone here that something cost too much or was too big or too wet or needed to be more like whatever other movie in the DC Murderverse. James Wan guided Furious 7 into massive success despite losing the star during filming. It would seem this made him the perfect choice for Aquaman.
This movie is HUGE. Everything is big. At times it is like Star Wars underwater. Then it becomes James Bond. Yeah, theres a little Thor and Wonder Woman in there too. But none of those movies achieve the scale Aquaman moves comfortably in. The movie is constantly establishing rules and customs and devices and to my mind no thread is ever dropped. While the plot is no more or less simple than the average hero movie, it is so dense with activity. And on screen there is what you expect with some big fights and vehicle chases, but I was shocked how much appeared to be practical. Infinity War put Spider-Man and Iron Man and others in all CG suits, and it is kinda off putting watching their unmasked head float above the costumes in some scenes. This movie’s underwater storm troopers have real suits and you can see the difference on screen when they fight or run through a wall or even just walk into a room. Mo-cap an actor wearing nothing but a skin tight suit and they movie different from an actor wearing a suit or armor.
This is the DC Universe with their Iron Man moment. A movie no one expected to be good and a hero with no real big fan base. With Superman and Batman kind of off the table for WB at the moment, they’re forced to try to make the very best movies they can with who they have. Please, a Mera movie next. Then Aquaman 2. Then a Brine King movie. Do not stop.

Weekly Recap Wednesday – 8/10/16

I’m a guy who used to talk a ton of shit about video games and only after writing this week’s recap do I realize I have nothing to say about games this week. I don’t want to write about my Halo matches every week, so maybe next week.

Suicide Squad
It was a bold creative choice to introduce a Joker that wasn’t funny. I mean the basis for the character is he’s a psychopath who finds humor in murder and mayhem, but ever incarnation of the character has always been at least a little funny. I don’t think Jared Leto did a bad Joker at all. It was just a very different one. This one is some kind of modern gang leader, with the tattoos and the teeth and all the crap we’ve been looking at for a year. But he never gives us a line read anywhere close to Hammil (“You killed Captain Clown!”) Nicholson (“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”) or Ledger (“Do I look like a guy with a plan?”).

But that’s OK, because he’s not the star. Margot Robbie as Harley is pitch perfect. She’s the character off the page and out of the animation cell. Robbie is a bit young maybe to have been a former psychiatrist as the Harley character is supposed to be (she must have graduated and got her doctorate and then been turned to be Joker’s minion the following week). I’d maybe prefer a version of Harley more like the modern independent one, but this is her first live action appearance so we have to start somewhere. In the sequel or the solo movie she can kick Joker to the curb and go nuts in Coney Island.

Will Smith as Deadshot is another one people had doubts about, but I thought he was great as well. “White people that shit” is a line only a black actor could deliver and it gave Deadshot some depth of character we wouldn’t get with a white actor. I’m a Will Smith fan for life. He doesn’t always make the best movies, but he’s always the best thing in his movies.

The rest of the supporting cast was fun too. A few laughs from Captain Boomerang, Kroc, and others. I wish the final movie has been rated R and they had not wimped out on some of the action and suggestive humor. It isn’t like I’d take a kid to see this as it is right now with all the decapitations and Harley’s ass hanging out all the time. If DC decided to do an R Rated Blu Ray after the fact with all their movies, I’m fine with that, but let us not pretend this movie is OK for a 10 year old to see just because they didn’t say “fuck.”

Vice Principals Speaking of bad guys, HBO’s Vice Principals is not the show I thought it would be. The advertising before release made it look like two high school vice principals played by Walton Goggins and Danny McBride would be competing for the same job and constantly sabotaging each other. By the end of the first episode, they form an alliance to take down the principal who was hired from outside and focus all efforts on sabotaging her.

Since the two of them are white men who feel entitled and the new principal is a black woman who through various scenes is shown to be confident and capable and earned the job, this show suddenly took a very dark turn about white privilege in the middle of the screwball comedy. Much of principal Brown’s backstory is revealed in a scene where Gamby (McBride) and Russel (Goggins) respectively break in and then BURN HER HOUSE DOWN. This was the second episode. This show went off the rails QUICK.

Based on being familiar with Danny McBride’s past roles I was sure he was going to be the big a-hole in this show. I was kinda right, he’s gruff and abrasive and speaks out of turn all the time, but ultimately he wants to lead the school and wants to be good at his job; that is admirable. Goggins as Russell is the loose cannon. He doesn’t think twice about stealing personal information or valuables, destroying school property, or (as I mentioned before) burning a house down. His sweet southern delivery hiding his diabolical intentions are the reason to keep coming back.

Since both of them are so disreputable, it is hard to call either of them protagonists, but their bad behavior is what makes the show worth tuning in for. McBride makes you cringe as he tries to befriend an attractive teacher or deliver bad news to a staff member, Goggins inspires outright rage as he quickly becomes the villain of the show actively trying to destroy everything.

I hear this is going to be a two season show, with season one being the fall of the school year, and season two going through the spring. With a limited time frame and focus, I hope they are free to do as much crazy crap as possible without worrying about long term consequences for characters.

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I don’t think of myself as nuts about the characters Scourge. Introduced in Transformers The Movie he’s one of the Unicron created henchmen for Galvatron. He turns into a boat or a ship or just some slab that has a gun on top. On the left we have the Generations version of the character, who had a more Earth friendly stealth bomber mode. Right side is the 2006 Titanium figure, which has some diecast metal parts and otherwise has an accurate but stylized depiction of the character.

The center is the new Titans Return figure, who I think splits the difference. The robot mode isn’t quite as dynamic and cool looking at the 2010 Generations figure, but he looks much more like the movie character in both robot and vehicle mode. He’s missing the movie character’s red claws, but he holds a gun so whatever. Like all Titans Return figures, he’s a headmaster so that head pops off and becomes a smaller robot. But the original wasn’t a headmaster so I don’t care and won’t bother addressing it. The head does not have to come off to transform, but it isn’t hidden in robot mode, so you can just pop it off and throw it in the cockpit of the slab ship.

I guess with the three of them I have Scourge and some Sweeps (his clone-like minions) for my eventual TFTM display. If there is anything I’m working toward its having a display of all the characters from Transformers The Movie, with emphasis on modern versions where possible. TFTM is 30 this week, so its nice to have another character to check off my list, even if its one I already had. Of course I now think about Vincent’s article “Why I’m Not A Toy Collector” when he talks about the trap of a new improved definitive version of the character coming every year.

“So Strange” East Hundred
I flipped through my shazams to find a new tune to post this week. I don’t remember where I heard this. Maybe the Shape Of Rock on WMSE? In any case, judging by the view count on youtube, only a few people have every heard this song so give it a spin. Its some propulsive indie rock not unlike Sonic Youth. Looking them up on facebook looks like they broke up a long time ago, but the music is still good.