Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: On Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Among the genre shows I fell in love with (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Supernatural, and Doctor Who primarily) I also had a longstanding affair with the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. I tried to love Caprica, but I still feel that the show waited until what was unfortunately the end of their run to come out swinging. 

But when Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was announced, I got frakkin excited. I don't even care if this blog doesn't generate the numbers that pissing all over Christopher Nolan films does, I had to take a moment to talk about this webseries/potential pilot for the (alas) now dead project. I loved this feature-length webseries. I loved it for all the reasons I loved the show, condensed into 90 minutes. For me, this is a prequel done right. 

Most Idiotic Review

"The reason the reboot of Battlestar Galactica worked so well was because of its adult themes, sophisticated characterisation and involving story arcs, performed by a cast of very talented actors. What we have in Blood & Chrome is none of these things ... I can only assume that this substandard, humourless clone of a mediocre episode of Stargate SG-1 was intended to hook a younger (and stupider) audience than the original series because aside from some of the spaceships, it has nothing at all in common with it." — garyX (Rotten Tomatoes)

What I really take umbridge with in this review is how f***ing boring the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries is in comparison to the rest of the show. It's not bad by any means, but it wasn't introducing extremely adult themes, involving story arcs, and my interpretation of the characters after my initial viewing of the Miniseries was that they were archetypal at best, and cliched at worst. Seriously, Saul Tigh is a commander with a drinking problem. Starbuck is the ace-pilot with an authority issues. Adama is the wise captain who is beloved by his crew, except for his son, Lee, who has issues with him. One of the pilots (boomer) has a forbidden relationship with the deck Chief. The only interesting character right off the bat for me was Baltar, and he remained so for the majority of the series. 

The rest of the cast certainly gained depth over time, and I'm not saying they were horrible by any means, but in the Miniseries they weren't winning any awards in my book. Well, this was doubling as a Pilot for a prequel show. Let's face it. These writers have never come out of the gate swinging necessarily. Battlestar just had a leg up that the inciting incident of the show was humanity getting wiped out. After that kind of opener, the story tends to write itselfif you're writing sincerely, and I'm pretty satisfied they were.

The only thing that I really enjoyed more about the reimagining was the theological implications raised by the show (that were dashed pretty badly during the fourth season, but I di-f***ing-gress. Those are nowhere to be found here. I think Blood & Chrome was operating under the 'No atheists in Viper Cockpits.' Ludicrous.

Most Accurate Review

"Much of the production team from the incredible Battlestar Galactica series - executive producers, writers, visual effects supervisor, composer - are on hand to bring this lavish, adrenaline-fueled movie set 10 years into the first Cylon War. Conspicuously absent though is the man who gave the show its true heart & soul, Ronald D. Moore. The followup Caprica series was not as well received by fans for its cerebral storytelling, so they went in the opposite direction with Blood and Chrome - this thing is almost all action .... it was great donning a flightsuit and manning a Viper once again, and the first sight of the Galactica brought a lump to the throat proving that there are many stories left worth exploring in the BSG universe." — DrStrangeblog (Rotten Tomatoes)

I definitely spent a great amount of the run-time thoroughly giddy at simply returning to the BSG. A lot of the sets were recreated digitally, and I'm pretty sure a majority of the budget went to those effects, since some of the other scenes ... weeeeell, let's just say the script's ambition outreached the capabilities of the effects department, who were obviously trying their hearts out, so I'm not bothered. 

It does feel very much like a homecoming for a fan of the reimagining, with the writing, stylized dialogue, and world largely intact. I think actually this is what Star Wars fans were hoping for with the prequels they got slammed with. Poor guys. 

As DrStrageblog pointed out, this show really swings the pendulum the opposite way from Caprica, trying to launch the Viper Firing so to speak (I'm full of puns today ... not sure why). While I might actually prefer the slower pace of Caprica, I think this model had more room to wiggle through. I feel like if you start with a family drama primarily focused around a scientist, a lawyer, and a robot-girl, it's harder to showcase the action (not impossible by any stretch), but a show focused around military-life already has a story that can easily slip into drama ... with explosions too. Win/Win!

What I Say

It's not often I can come out and say how much I love something, but I really loved this. Why? I'll try to be fast.

PlotThe basic premise of the show is following William Adama as a young hotshot on his first covert mission aboard the Battlestar Galactica. It's ten years into the war and things are not as they seem. It's got a real buddy cop element to it with ... I guess a femme-fatale? I will give credit, while the story is not necessarily the most original (which I totally lambasted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for in my review of it), it has enough twists and turns that it kept me pretty engaged, which is rare for a prequel. Most of the time, there's not really a lot going for the plot to be surprising. You know who'll live, you'll know who'll die, and you know what the ultimate outcome is. It's pretty hard to build tension out of a setup like that, but Battlestar Galactica left most of this area vague enough to still instill some pretty invoking drama.

CharacterI know a big complaint about Blood & Chrome was Luke Pasqualino's casting as a young William Adama, taking over the role made iconic by Edward James Olmos. I actually liked his portrayal. He was a bit of an asshole, I'll give him that, but if anything, he seemed like an odd amalgamation of Starbuck and Apollo from the original. He had Apollo's sense of duty and morality, but he had Starbuck's cocksure attitude and independence. The rest of the cast is pretty interesting, but I'll mainly focus of Coker, who's only forty-seven days from retirement, as he will constantly remind you over the course of the show, leading to only one of two possibilities, either he'll die, or he'll reenlist due to the effect our patriotic and idealistic William Adama has over him. That was my takeaway.

Spectacle — As I said, the effects aren't as good as the previous shows, but they're still trying really hard to bring that same weight Battlestar Galatica had, even if they're falling short. The designs are very sleek and nice, and in some cases (like the titular ship) identical, while some things, like the Cylon Centurions, Raiders, and Basestars are updated in a retro way (it is a prequel).

Still, if you're a fan of Battlestar and were a little less than thrilled by Caprica, maybe this will be more your cup of tea. Alas, the show was never picked up. It's a shame, as I personally would have enjoyed seeing the ongoing adventures of young William Adama.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Okay, so I'm rushing headlong into a major minority opinion. Upon viewing this movie I responded with a resounding, 'Meh.' I was seriously confused as to why the movie received the praise it did. The characters were fine if nothing special, the dilemmas were fine if nothing special, the story was fine ... if nothing special. Outside of the visual effects, I failed to be wowed by the spectacle that was this movie. My main complaint, and I'll get it out of the way here, is that there wasn't a single moment in this film that truly surprised me. If anything, most of Marvel's movies have had more shocking twists in them. This movie struck me as very paint-by-numbers storytelling. 

But, I'll give it this much, instead of feeling that the entirety of the human population that saw this movie is mentally incapable, I am starting to feel like I missed something, like that guy who was grabbing the last Ho-Ho and missed the punchline. Everyone else is laughing, and sure I've got a Ho-Ho, but I'd really like to know what the joke was. So before I unleash the venomous barbs fully, I would like to see the movie again. But it's Wednesday and I need to post a review!

Most Idiotic Review

"There's evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. However often it risks monkey-mad silliness, it's impressively un-stupid." Tim Robey (The Telegraph)

I might take flak for this, but I'm going to say it anyways, 'un-stupid,' is a f*cking stupid way to describe something. In the English language there are so many antonyms to stupid and so many synonyms for intelligent, I'm a little flabbergasted at what I just read. While I think the direction and visual style of the film is really intelligent and patient, and provides some real interesting stuff to watch ... 'genuine ideas about diplomacy' was not the phrase that came to my mind. The reason for this? I'll let the Most Accurate Review do my talking ...

Most Accurate Review

"... the film’s other main flaw is lacking character development. The bad guys are absent of definition, coming across as bitter, violent and a great contrast to the more morally liberal protagonists. Sadly, Gary Oldman’s character is particularly damned by this disparity, which I felt was a great shame."  Henry Stanley (impactnottingham)

Here's my problem. Imagine you have a great story with really engaging protagonists and some real thought provoking theme and a visually interesting tone. Now make all your antagonists cardboard cutouts. You just blew a tire on the freeway at eighty mile-per-hour.

What I Say

Plot — The plot of this film didn't engage me, not because it was bad, it was just predictable. At first I thought things were playing out intelligently, but without the existence of bigoted psychopathic antagonists and naive overly trusting protagonists, this movie's plot wouldn't have worked. That's my main gripe, and yes I'm going to keep harping on it. I walked into the movie expecting the Planet of the Apes to ... y'know, Dawn. I have seen every other movie in this franchise, so it's not hard to figure how it was going to end, after all. I was hoping that the getting there would have been a bit more thoughtful, but I really am hard pressed to believe it was. 

Characters — So we have Not-James Franco, Gary Oldman playing the same angry character that John Malkovich played in Warm Bodies, Andy Serkis doing another smashing performance as a CGI character, and Kobo the Asshole Monkey. The good guys are good and thoughtful, while Koba and Dreyfus are jarringly. The one thought that really bothered me was that right from the beginning of the movie I thought to myself, "Ah, look, the asshole character(s) who will f*ck everything up." And unfortunately, the movie never proved me wrong.

Spectacle — Since it's always the elephant in the room for me, yes, the movie looks fan-f*cking-tastic. I mean holy hell, does the CGI looks good. I can't deny it, I won't even try. I was really impressed. The apes oftentimes emoted more successfully than their human counterparts, and the decision to keep the apes from talking for the majority of the movie, communicating in only sign language was a really nice tough in my opinion, since I think it let us connect with the apes more as characters than CGI creations. Some really topnotch work. 

So there's my quick rundown on the film. I do plan on seeing it again though, and maybe reevaluating or simply reaffirming my opinions stated here. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Terrible Tuesday: On Inception

Okay, so I might be abusing the word 'Terrible' but this movie was a real thorn in my craw. I feel like I messed up that colloquialism, but not enough to Google it. Either way, I have a lot of issues with movies that are overly popular without having earned it. In short, no, I didn't think the movie was terrible, but I certainly didn't think it was anything special and was even hovering on the edge of not being good. Why? I'm glad you asked. 


Most Idiotic Review

"... it feels like Stanley Kubrick adapting the work of the great sci-fi author William Gibson ... Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country." — Empire magazine

Recently I have a harder time finding a review to truly fit this section, to the point where I almost consider cutting the most idiotic review entirely. Today is not one of those days. This review literally drew a, "Fuck you," from my lips upon reading it. I was so astounded by what I had read I actually went ahead an reread the review a couple of times. Kubrick and Gibson included in a review of this? This is what I'm talking about. The movie, I'm sorry fanboys (I'm looking at you WheelsTCW), IS NOT THAT GOOD.

Most Accurate Review

"I found myself wishing Inception were weirder, further out ... the film is Nolan's labyrinth all the way, and it's gratifying to experience a summer movie with large visual ambitions and with nothing more or less on its mind than (as Shakespeare said) a dream that hath no bottom."  Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

Now, this might not be Phillips' point, but what I took away from his statement is that yes, I wanted the movie to be more daring. For a movie with such an out there concept ... it plays it really safe. Like most of Nolan's forays into the film world, he has an out-there-concept with a straightforward solution. Inception is no different, and while it has large visual ambitions ... I don't think there were really that many of them. If anything, I can list them on one hand. You had the flooding hall, the exploding street, the folding city, the hallway battle, the ruined city, aaaaaand ... uh. I'm having trouble thinking of others off the top of my head. So I guess I disagree about the Shakespeare quote. This dream has a hellova shallow bottom if you ask me.

What I Say

I didn't get this movie. I don't mean that it went over my head. If anything it went under my head and a little to the left. It made a nice little whooshing sound on its way by. Then I stepped out of the theatre and I was greeted by the craziest Holy-F*ckery of a movie I'd seen in my lifetime. The internet went crazy. Why? People are stupid. But besides that, I'm going to delve into what Nolan and Co. really produced with this movie. 

Plot  This is a heist film, plain and simple. Normally I'd have no problem with that. But since the film had such an fresh concept, I was really hoping for more. Leonardo DiCaprio plays as Cobb, the proverbial walking thanksgiving meal. Cobb is joined by his fellow dishes  on an epic quest to ... sabotage Ken Watanabe's competitor's company. Riveting. How do they do this? By planting the idea in the heir to the company's head by using illicit military technology.

Throughout the film we descend deeper into Labyrinths created by Not-George Clooney's Ocean's Six. The respective settings are the streets of a nameless city, a hotel, and ... a snow-capped mountain fortress straight out of James Bond villain's layer which is also a hospital. Then there's Limbo, a dreamworld that you can only escape from by killing yourself which you won't know to do unless you realize its not a dream, but for some reason people forget that it's not a dream. Check.

There's also Cobb's dead wife, who's storyline is earily similar to Leonardo's arguably better film, Shutter Island.

So far, so good. I actually like the plot. I don't feel like there's anything wrong with it. I feel that there is a lot more that can be done with the concept of entering dreams, but the film certainly never lied to me about what it's premise was, and at least it restrained itself from flopping like The Cell.

Characters  Aaaaaaand the movie falls apart. I don't connect with any of these characters. None of them, which is astounding, seeing as this is a star-studded cast. And I have a way to demonstrate this fact.

1) What can you tell me about the individuals in this cast?

Now ...

2) What can you tell me about the individuals in this cast?

And here's the thing. I really dislike Tarantino, which I'll explain with another quote. "You only have good taste is you ... find long streams of pointless dialogue that don't have anything to do with the plot of the movie you're watching." (Tired Ov Shitty Movies)

That said, I think my point still stands. Tarantino's characters feel alive, not just plot devices. I know nothing about these characters Nolan populated his film with. Who are they? What's their backstory? What're their hopes and dreams. The most we ever see of the ensemble is what job they perform in the context of the heist. That's it, and for me? That's inexcusable storytelling. As I like to quote, novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island) said, “Character is plot; character is dialogue; character is scene. A story with a few strong characters can occasionally survive a weak plot, but a story with a strong plot cannot— ever— survive weak characters.”

Well, in film, weak characters can be saved by strong actors, and at least to Nolan's credit, he knows how to cast amazing talent who really seem to fill out their cardboard cutouts. I don't necessarily think the characters themselves are inherently bad, they're just never given any way to connect with the audience, so I still think they're poorly written. 

The only character who really gets the focus (oddly it's not the character who's head the ensemble is inside of, his characterization begins and ends at 'Daddy-Issues') is Leonardo DiCaprio. He's haunted by the same backstory of the traumatized widower struggling to maintain his own sanity in the face of having a job to do and questioning reality. I'd probably be less harsh on this if not for the mere existence of Shutter Island (which is coming up in this review a lot) which I think delves into the psyche of its protagonist much more succesfully, which is hilarious considering they were limited to, oh, I don't know, reality? 

So Cobb is haunted by his wife, Nolan favorite Marion Cotillard, who he feels guilty over the death of. He doesn't trust himself at performing his job as an extractor anymore, but this one last job will allow him to return to the states to be reunited with his children. Already I can see a much better story involving Cobb trying to cause Inception in the authorities controlling his expulsion from the US, so that he can return, but I digress. 

This has been a common complaint I've had about Nolan's characters. It rides the line between 'Show Don't Tell' but never really achieves either. We know things about characters, but always as an outside observer, a third party without any ability to participate. We're the people in the stands watching the guy streaking. Sure we can guess as to why his dangly bits are on display for all to see, but other than a chance of strange flashbacks, oftentimes we're not given much else to work with. 

Spectacle — Okay, so last but not least. This movie is visually spectacular ... when it wants to be. And to be honest, I was left wanting. For a movie with a concept with such rich potential it literally fights to stay grounded in reality, and I thought that was cool, right up until I saw Terry Gilliam's Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. If you want to see a movie that takes its concept and Looney-Toons runs across the chasm on a Acme Rocket, this is the film for you. Only Terry Gilliam's imagination can sustain something so ridiculously over the top and, as always, purposefully strange. Now, personal preference aside, I think Inception should have leaned a bit closer to the strange, especially as they went 'deeper'.

Actually, since this is getting to be a longer review, I'll end on this note. You want to know what I'd have liked to see? This.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Infamous Second Son

So, my gaming history went something like this, 

  • Roller Coaster Tycoon 
  • Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
  • Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (and associated expansion packs)
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
  • Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
  • Fallout 1 & 2
  • Planescape: Torment
And ... that's pretty much it. I wasn't much of a bowler, if you know what I mean. So my introduction to modern console games were the 7th generation games BioShock and Infamous (years later I did fall in love with New Vegas and Deus Ex). I loved the former for the story, I loved the latter for it's ability to reach into my deepest fantasies of being the least qualified superhero ever and allowing me to rampage around a city. Granted, I must have liked something else otherwise I'd have probably preferred Prototype ... but I didn't, so moving on.

I'm always a little dubious about sequels. In this day and age, can you really blame me though? I could spend multiple reviews waxing philosophical and ANGRILY TYPING IN CAPSLOCKS about how tired I am of sequels, remakes, franchises, reimaginings, spinoffs, shared universes etc.

But, I have to admit, I was actually pretty excited about Second Son. So, does it hold up to my pretentiously high standards and expectations?

Most Idiotic Review

"[Second Son] speaks to an attitude reflected in the main character: 'We're far too cool and alternative to be put into your little boxes, man! Not like those nerdy spods over there, with their dungeons and Star Wars and all the other shit we pretend we don't know anything about.' But it's all delusion! Second Son stands obliviously in a box clearly labelled 'current-gen'. As in 'same as before but shinier and there's less of it'. Less sandbox, less missions, less of everything except arrogance. Can't see much point in it unless they found a way to erase the previous games from history. Like, say, by making a new console not backwards-compatible with– oh." -- Yahtzee Croshaw (Zero Punctuation)

Well, Yahtzee keeps popping up in my reviews in this section. Surprising. Again, I'm a huge Zero Punctuation fan, but oftentimes I just can't agree with him. I doubt that would bother him. This particular point I chalk up to Yahtzee being a hipster. I can't help it. Maybe it's the goatee and the fedora he so commonly sports, but this part of his review really just sounds like the rallying cries of the hipster population. Maybe it's my Vegas upbringing and the people I surrounded myself with. 

We were an eclectic group to say the least ...
But ultimately it's just a matter of opinion, so I'd best leave it at that. I can't personally agree with Yahtzee on this one, but I can still see where he's coming from.

Most Accurate Review

"While Second Son’s individual beats and characters are well executed, the plot that strings them all together is frustratingly straightforward and limited in scope, depriving the bit players of the chance to make a meaningful impact on the core conflict."

I find myself favoring reviews that appeal to how fun the game is, but how much more the game could have been. There's the shame of wasted potential, but not to the degree that the game we ultimately received was still a lot of fun. 

What I Say

So what is this story trying to offer? We have Delsin Rowe, a twenty-four-year-old Native American who lives with his more conservative cop brother in a fictional Okamish conservation, before he discovers he's a conduit or bio-terrorist who can absorb powers from other conduits he comes in contact with. Delsin is also your regular ol' Juvenile Delinquent, but, being voiced by the Baby-Jesus in real life Troy Baker, he's nothing but charm. 

The antagonist of the story is Brooke Augustine, the director of the D.U.P., a government organization bent on controlling the so-called bioterrorist threat, and the crux of this story involves Delsin trying to absorb her own conduit powers over concrete in order to save the people on the conservation.

This was the first major problem I encountered. I was under the impression that, when Augustine suspects Delsin of hiding something, she hurts the people closest to him and ... leave him behind? Behold the makings of the classic revenge plot that we've all seen a million times. He goes on a quest to get stronger so that he can return home with the chalice and a new sense of self. While it is a classic archetypal story, it rings very tired in this case, no matter how much new characters try to spice it up. 

After that the story pretty much plays out as you'd expect. I won't spoil it, but I'll be honest, it doesn't go anywhere truly surprising, even if it's nicely done.

The characters though are certainly a step up from previous installments. While I never had particular issue with Cole McGravely pants, I certainly see why he's not going to be lauded as revolutionizing video-game characters, he's a MacGuffin in and of himself created in order to get to the gameplay of the stories. That's about it.  

Here, whether you find him charming or grating, Delsin is a pretty fleshed out character, and not too detached from the situation not to enjoy the gameplay as much as the player. He has some pretty solid relationships with the people around him too, especially Reggie, his brother, who goes along with a lot of Delsin's harebrained schemes with a sigh of weariness, hinting that, while Delsin hasn't had powers for very long, this behavior is nothing new. 

Reggie is actually really interesting. The fact that he has an inherent distaste of bio-terrorists supplies the game with some pretty sincere drama as it causes friction between the two brothers, and it also allows the player a direct insight into the minds of those who are antagonistic towards Delsin (and being an action game, there's quite a few). Also, the game works hard to not characterize any of the alternate viewpoints. To some degree, I can see this world legitimately existing.

Fetch is one of the other main Conduits we see in the game, and she's not nearly as interesting as I expected her to be. Actually, outside of the two main characters, most of the rest of the cast is woefully underdeveloped. Fetch has a really interesting backstory, but it really doesn't go too many places. She, like Delsin, seems more like a response to needing a new powers source than as a character called upon by the story. Now that said, her dialogue and voice acting are a lot of fun, and her relationship with Reggie and Delsin are entertaining, I just didn't feel like she was utilized to her fullest extent. 

In a way, she (and Eugene, who was the other main conduit in the the game, who I really don't have a lot to say about) was what I feared The Avengers would ultimately be. I understand Delsin the protagonist, but I remember having a similar sensation during Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, right at the very end of the game which was the moment someone uttered the line, "Only you can stop the bad guy, rescue the damsel, save the world," ... or something like that. I instantly thought, "Why am I the only one? Why can't we call on an army to do the world saving?" 

Lastly we have the antagonist. I still don't really get Brooke Augustine. Her initial backstory is pretty nice, and while I won't ruin it, I found it pretty interesting ... and completely inconsistent with the character we and Delsin face for the majority of the game. It felt very schizophrenic truth be told, which hurt my overall enjoyment of the story. 

The spectacle of the game though is where the game really shines. The various powers, Smoke, Neon, Digital, and Concrete. While they're visually stunning, they really stretch what constitutes 'elemental' powers. I mean, the moment Angels started flying around their recreation of Seattle ... well, it's not done poorly, it's just a little out there.

Gameplay is smooth and fun, and really builds on what the developers learned in previous Infamous games, but ... it really doesn't add too much knew, in terms of gameplay or story. It's fun, it's flashy, it's enjoyable, and really there isn't too much more to be said. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

No Post Today!

Hey fellas. On the road again. Heading back to the land of the Mormidons, Utardia.

You might be able to tell, I'm not a fan.

But it's a good school, relatively cheap, and it's where I felt like I needed to be. I love Vegas. I almost always have a great time here (despite having encountered some of the strangest scenarios imaginable), and I always miss it a lot. But it wasn't where I needed to be.

So, as I say allons-y to my true home to return to a intermediate stepping stone, I'll say to you, "More reviews are on the way. Catch you on the flip-flop!"

~ Godzello

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Young Adult Fiction and Whether You're Too Old For This Sh*t

For those of you who eschew reading entirely for Hollywood bombardment and suckle at EA's udder, you might have missed out on the back and forth debate raging about Young Adult fiction that took bloggers by storm. My understanding is that it started over Ruth Graham's article for Slate, "Against YA"

So here's my take on it.

I don't give a f*ck what you read. I really don't. I have no qualms about it. And I too have read, and honestly reread some of my treasured Young Adult roots. I'm only twenty-two for christ's sake, so I'm not that far removed yet. But here's the biggest thing I'm noticing in the defense of adults reading YA, 'Live and Let Read,' which is great, and I don't care, and the other is, 'It allows me to connect with my kid,' good for you. BUT.

I remember being a kid. I read things like Pendragon by DJ MacHale and The Mad Scientist Club, and even Winnie the Pooh. Loved these books and I still appreciate and love the part they played in my life. Then something happened. My father, a college English professor, handed me an adult book for the first time. He'd been paying attention to the kinds of YA books I was falling in love with, and found the adult equivalent. I fell head over heels. It was amazing and I loved it. More than a decade later, books are one of the few areas of life that we still really can let lose and talk about together without going for the jugular. Here's the thing though, I'm on his level now, and instead of pandering to my age-range, he and I are equals. 

So back to YA people who read for pleasure and enjoyment. I had the same negative reaction to the Lego Movie. It was fun, clever, well made, and for the little bit of theme it was broaching (if not fully realizing) I can think of half-a-dozen adult equivalents that deal with the topics better, more directly, and more deeply. So it's not that I have any problem accepting that adults make the occasional foray into YA ... it's that it seems they live there. That's creepy to me. It's like Bronies. "It's got a great message, mang!" is the rallying cry. 

Sure it does. That's the point of most kids' shows. So did Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and while I used to dress up in costume and yell, "Tyrannosaurus" in a voice that sounded closer to Matt Damon from Team America than I'd like to admit, in my early twenties, that it so not the way I want to self-identify. It's a diluted form of the world, devoid of the rich complexity that starts to hit you in your early twenties and beyond, and maybe it's because I come from a fantastically shitty childhood, but I grew past the rose tinted glasses fast. Give me the unanswering universe, utterly void of purpose or meaning every day of the week. I personally can't relate to YA anymore, nor can I imagine, why anyone would want to. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On The Lego Movie

No one who reads this blog (all four of you) know I'm no stranger to ripping a movie a new one. But I actually feel bad when I say I didn't really like The Lego Movie. One, until I sat down to write this review ... I did like it. I laughed most of the way through it. It had entertaining visuals, a clever story, recognizable figures, engaging jokes ... and, ... honestly the characters left no lasting impact on me. That was the main thing. I only saw the movie a week ago, and seeing as I can still name the episode order of Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I haven't watched that show since junior high? Not remembering something is a big deal. I think that's when I realized there really wasn't anything to remember. 

Most Accurate Review

"Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages." -- Rotten Tomatoes website's consensus

I still really enjoyed the movie. I did. So I want to give credit where due. I had very low expectations when the movie was first announced. The fact they could pull of such a concept as well as they did is astounding. I wouldn't have wanted to be the screenwriter on that project. 

Most Idiotic Review

"It's just too bad that a movie that encourages you to think for yourself doesn't follow its own advice." -- Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)

Of any complaints I can lobby against the film, the Lego Movie really did keep me guessing. On several occasions I really had no idea where the movie was going. I can't say that often. And while I don't know if all the twists really worked, that might just be personal preference on my part. 

What I Say

Alright, the plot is pretty simple. The badguy (played delightfully by Will Ferrel (who I'm not always such a big fan of), wants the world picturesque and, 'by the book,' and his perfect world is threatened by the Master Builders, a group of creative rebels who can build 'outside the box'. The films soars here with a fun, clever, and fastpaced script about the adventures of a normal lego-piece (Played by Chris Pratt) becoming a hero who is unique and special. It's definitely a post-Don Bluth kids movie, alas. It's so kid friendly that, while there's nothing untoward for kids, it really doesn't challenge them in any way.

I felt torn about this one. One, I found the characters less to be characters and more expositories for clever joke dispensement. Two, I found the characters harkening back to classic archytipes. I think my ultimate opinion is that nothing in this movie will challenge kids to new ways of thinking, but it will lay some of the groundwork explored more fully in other stories. While there was nothing done wrong with the Lego Movie, it didn't strike me as doing anything new or risky in any way. They were using a pre-established model to tell a pre-established story.

The film shines in its visuals, which are very clever. There's a lot going on, which is appropriate, but never feels like it's overpowering the story, which is so fast paced it waits for no one, not character or visual, which makes it fun and enjoyable, doesn't leave a lot of meat on the bone for a close encounter as my professors like to say (unless you're just enjoying the background visuals, which are a lot of fun).

Ultimately I have less to say about the Lego Movie. I thought it was very well done, but it didn't leave much of an impact on me. I'm glad I saw it. I'm glad I didn't pay to see it in theaters.

~ Godzello

P.S. Batman was friggin awesome.