A lazy post for a lazy day

I spent much of today sleeping – and will probably do the same tomorrow. It’s my idea of a good weekend.

But… since I can’t share my unpopular but correct opinions on Facebook for a bit, I’ll post some here… Not really one of my usual posts – just 3 random things that I might flesh out in other posts, but probably won’t.

1. Memes like this don’t show what some might think they do…

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I’ve seen a couple now, with ridiculous over the top video sequences that people seem to think makes Indian movies cool. So let’s clear this up, shall we? Other movies are stupid. Indian movies are stupider. It’s like they take the most stupid parts of the movies they watch and then ramp up the stupid to new levels of… stupid.

2. The Snyder cut of Justice League is fucking awesome

Four hours is a little excessive though. But it’s worth the watch. Maybe not in one sitting.

3. The Suicide Squad is gonna suck starro ass

Starro? Really?

My son and I watched the trailer earlier, and I’m sorry but what? His first reaction: “Is that the main characters?”. DC got a lot wrong before, but one thing they did right was to go dark insted of light. It was the only thing they really did well. I shall refrain from writing more.

The new Iron Spider movie name probably has ‘home’ in it and who gives a shit?

I’m seeing this trending all over social media…
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Am I the only one who thinks the new Spider-man sucks iron donkey balls? He’s supposed to be a loner, for fuck’s sake. Spider-man is a tragic and reluctant hero, who initially uses his power to get some money so he can impress a girl, who then doesn’t stop a robber who happens to go on and kill his uncle. So he’s consumed by guilt, punishing himself for being selfish when in reality he did nothing wrong. And to top that, he is manipulated by a narcissistic, overbearing self pitying whining old aunt who is annoying as fuck and expects him to do everything for her, but who will never be happy with what he does, no matter how much. When he isn’t saving somebody or unfairly being called a menace or trying to be there for his aunt, he’s brooding on top of a gargoyle somewhere as he bawls his eyes out. We relate to him because he’s every one of us, thrust into a situation where he gains incredible powers, and despite his best intentions, he gets nothing but grief for using them. But he’s a fighter. He never gives up – he throws out the sharpest and most effective sarcasm kind of defense anyone has ever heard, and he comes out on top, somehow. So we relate to him again because he doesn’t let the haters win.

At least… that’s the Spider-man I know, after growing up reading a lot of comics mostly from the 1970’s and the 80’s. Nobody has ever really captured that in a movie, but the previous efforts at least included some parts of the character I love.

But no… this Spider-man with a magic costume from Iron Man… he’s something else. Not a bad character although not much of an actor to be honest – I’d rather see Zendaya as some kind of super hero because she’s way more talented. But he’s not and never will be much of a Spider-man to write home about, and I don’t care what version of the title they use.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a bad movie

My son and I stayed up to watch this movie on release day… that involved downloading a torrent and watching at home, and since we were both hyped to see it, we watched it after midnight, ending around 2:30AM. So I can’t emphasize enough… we both loved the first movie and were excited to watch it. I don’t normally watch movies until 2:30AM. We expected a good movie. We were wrong. I’m writing this because I see that despite being bad, the movie is doing well. Maybe someone can read this and know what they’re in for.

The very first action scene, in a shopping mall, is pure cheese. The dialog is shit, and that continues right through the movie, the action looks fake, and the movie is just… well.. bad. It’s like they recaptured the tone of the first movie, but without substance. And a terribly weak plot, in many ways. Spoilers ahead, so don’t read on if you don’t want to read spoilers.

They make several references to The Monkey’s Paw, which is the classic story about being granted wishes and the consequences of those wishes. So, since they fuck it up so badly, here is the basic Monkey’s Paw plot, the way it is meant to work: (paraphrased and based on a version I knew from when I was around ten years old, but this will do)

A couple comes into possession of the mystical Money’s Paw, which grants 3 wishes.

They use the first wish to wish for wealth. And they get it, but lose their son, who is a soldier recently gone to war. He dies, and they get the money from the insurance policy.

They use their second wish to wish for their son to come back. Again, they get their wish. But he doesn’t come back alive or human, or OK. In the story I know, this is left to the imagination. Think Pet Cemetery…

Thus they use the last wish to wish for his/their suffering to end. They undo the second wish, but their son is still dead.

The lesson, of course, is that wishes or shortcuts don’t get what you expect. There is a price, and that price cannot be undone. The Monkey’s paw story always ends in tragedy. But in Wonder Woman 1984, there is only one wish, except in one strange case where the second antagonist gets two, for no good reason. Max Lord becomes the dream stone, and finds a way to grant everybody’s wishes at once (where the dream stone is just the magical monkey’s paw as an artefact imbued by some kind of god in the Wonder Woman mythology).

But Wonder Woman saves the day by getting everybody to recant their wishes. Despite a set piece at the start of the movie with her as a child, presumably to teach that shortcuts are bad, the movie ends with everybody recanting their wishes and undoing the harm done. They botched the Monkey’s Paw story completely.

There are other problems with the movie. Kristen Wiig’s antagonist as Cheetah is poor. She starts out as a sympathetic character, and wishes to be like Diana, unknowingly wishing for super powers. The catch to her wish is that she loses her humanity – so she is no longer a character that cares for anyone else. And thus, she is no longer a villain we can sympathize with. They take away what we like about her, making her a caricature, a cardboard cut-out villain.

The battle at the end of the movie between Wonder Woman and Cheetah looks fake as fuck. Diana wears armour that looks like plastic, and the fight is reminiscent of the end of Black Panther, pure CGI cringe.

There are other issues with the movie (the pace, the motivations of Max Lord, Diana using her powers to make a jet invisible despite the wish apparently having removed her powers, Max being reunited with his son at the end, presumably indicating the son must have teleported or something), but that’s enough for me. It was still entertaining and a little enjoyable for me, although my 12 year old son hated it – he’s a harsher critic than I am. To reiterate, my main complaint is the movie is style over substance. It could have been so much better. Strong acting from Gal Gadot and Pedro Pascal, but nothing could fix the weak plot.

This movie was a major disappointment for us, and I think it will be for many. The gimmicky release both to movie theatres and streaming service worked, and the movie is a box office success… that concerns me too. They’re making another one, seemingly without having learned that they made some serious mistakes with this one.

What movie traumatized you as a kid?

WhatMovie

I have two.

Mary Fuckin Poppins.

I went to a lot of kids’ b-day parties as a young child, at this place called the 3 Arts in Cape Town, always on a Saturday afternoon, and invariably blasting us with just a spoonful of saccharine chim-chim fuckin chiminy brain sucking glee. It was enough to leave me insane from an early age.

The other one was…

Freaky Fucking Friday

…with a young Jodie Foster, which I hated for similar reasons.

Honestly I found the meaning of the word saccharine because I looked up that horrible feeling those movies gave me in my stomach… it’s the feeling of your brain getting sucked down into your gut and out of your arse.

Those sickeningly sweet movies are the true reason that I fucking love horror. I wrote this to be humorous, but I am dead serious. I hated those movies as a child.

DC > Marvel

Time to take a break from the serious posts and focus on entertainment, albeit with an opinion guaranteed to piss most readers off.

It’s been over a year, but every time I swipe left on my phone, I’m still presented with a never-ending pile of badly written clickbait that promises to reveal stupendous truths about the Marvel movies, only to deliver the same garbage repurposed for every article. Every time it’s about six paragraphs of the same rehashed rot followed by one brief paragraph they could just as well have put in the title and saved me the trouble. Reminds me of those bad 1980s American television specials that promised you “coming up next” every 5 minutes for an hour, only to deliver 2 seconds of disappointment at the end, like taking two hours to cum but using up all your spunk in pre-cum and having nothing for the finish. I find myself reading those articles in fascination, wondering how it is that the well of possible articles can possibly run so deep given the superficiality of the subject matter. Also I’m amazed at the fragile masculinity of men online, who apparently hate Captain Marvel and Brie Larson, though it was my favourite movie last year. Strong women rock! What the fuck is wrong with you people?

Anyway, it’s been over a year so I am finally gonna say it. Avengers Endgame sucked ass. Left with an impossible cliffhanger, they opted to solve it by combining two half-hearted renditions of the worst plot devices ever conceived: a deus ex machina and time travel. (Let’s be honest – time travel introduces more problems that it solves and in any case, if you can travel back in time, there are easier ways to fix the cliffhanger than the one they chose. And if you’re gonna do a god from the machine you might as well go all the way and not have her powerful enough to wipe out entre space forces but not strong enough to take a few stones across a field.) Throw in a couple of heroic sacrifices for good measure and make it two hours longer than necessary. I sat through the whole movie with my son, and for both of us it was only because we had to see it to the end. Consider this: Two factors that make a bad movie are, 1: waiting for it to end; 2: waiting waiting waiting for something to happen. For a movie that managed both of those dubious honours, it’s surprising how well it did.

Also iron Man is one of the most silly superheroes ever. Don’t get me wrong, Robert Downer Jr is awesome, and his charm and charisma was a major contribution to the tone of the movies, but his standalone movies were pathetic in summation. The first was good, I admit, and I did enjoy it; the second was stupid. And the third… Let’s forget it entirely. Or had you already done so?

For all its bad rep, Justice League got their deus ex machina right. Superman without kryptonite is invincible, which just so happens to be the real problem with Superman – in a universe without anything as powerful as he is, he is too overpowered, hence kryptonite is a contrived weakness tacked on afterwards. But what made it right was with the motherbox, he is literally god from the machine, so the movie mocks the plot device as much as using it. Of course Justice League almost featured time travel too, and it would have been interesting to see how they used it, not as a half-arsed undo button but instead as a narrative device to connect Batman vs Superman and Justice League. (I’m glad they left it out though. In my opinion time travel should never be used. Let’s not mention time travel plus “quantum” magic.) And while most people seemed to dislike Ezra Miller’s Flash, I thought he was perfect. So much better than that fan favourite crybaby whining man-child who acts in the TV series. (Urgh. That guy. His face or voice alone is cringey AF, but both? Fucking hell.)

Most amusing for me is that the MCU used an inappropriate light-hearted tone, which felt completely wrong, and yet the dark tone taken by DC, which felt right, is overwhelmingly perceived as a mistake.

So I know… my opinion is in the minority. But that’s OK. DC is still better than Marvel.

Ash vs Evil Dead is also worth watching

Again, not really a review. But while cooped up in lockdown, when not working, we have to do something… and I choose to watch movies and series.

So the other day I decided to download Ash vs Evil Dead and now I’ve watched the first season. I didn’t really think I’d enjoy it. An old school friend, one who I met up with on Facebook, told me about this series when it started a few years ago. The funny thing is, I was the one who introduced him to it 30 years before. Back in our school days, poor old Eric visited my home, and anyone who visited me there was forced to watch a few movies, two of which were the original Superman with Christopher Reeve, and Evil Dead Part II. I watched both of which at least once a week back then.

And Oh boy! Eric freaked out when he watched it. He shouted; he screamed; he squirmed! And he loved it. I forgot all about it in the years since then, but he remained a fan, and I didn’t even know the movie became a cult classic.

So I downloaded it, and I’m glad I did. The protagonist, Ash, played by the sadly underrated Bruce Campbell, is a moron. He’s vain, arrogant, not too bright and has zero self awareness, yet has a good heart and is a reluctant, and sometimes not so reluctant hero, killing zombies called ‘deadites’ in the most gory and hilarious ways.

It doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s corny, goofy, filled with slapstick, and cheesy, but horror comedy genius. Somehow it isn’t campy. I don’t know how but it never gets campy, unlike something such as those awful Pirates of the Caribbean snorefest movies. Each episode is only about half an hour so it moves along quickly too.

The last two episodes of season one guest star Samara Weaving, and by the way, if you haven’t watched 2019’s Ready Or Not, which is another bit of comedy horror genius, you should check that out too.

Home movie reviews–Depraved; Sweetheart; Bliss

On Saturday I lost track of time – found myself watching random YouTube videos and ended up on a list of horror movies from 2019. I can’t remember the channel; might’ve been WhatCulture… Anyway, I settled on three movies and watched them; thought I’d share my experience and recommendation for whether or not they’re worth your time.

I don’t want to spoil too much and I’m not going to give a rating of a number of stars or any usual kind of review. So in each case below, I’ll give a brief summary and rate it according to two points… thumbs up/down and watch/don’t. The titles link to each movie’s page on Rotten Tomatoes.

Depraved

It’s a modern take on Frankenstein without the depth, some unnecessary plot details tacked on that add zero value, and nothing redeeming about any of the characters the monster kills.

  • Thumbs down.
  • Give this one a miss.

Ignore the Rotten Tomatoes critics rating for this one.

Sweetheart

A girl washes up on a small island and struggles to survive. It’s a monster movie – there’s some kind of monster that comes out of the water at night, a monster that drags its victims, sometimes dismembered and sometimes alive, into a hole in the ocean floor.

The movie gets a little predictable with the plot after some other survivors show up, and makes one major mistake near the end in that it sets up its own rules regarding the behaviour of the monster, and then breaks them for a cheap scare. But overall a good watch.

  • Thumbs up
  • Yeah… watch it.

Bliss

A struggling artist is about to be kicked out of her apartment and gets dropped by her agent as she hasn’t finished a painting in three months. So she goes off on a bender, ingesting some weird drug called Bliss, a mix of cocaine and DMT.

Starts out poorly – some sex scenes where we are led to believe we can fuck with pants and panties on, and I thought that was just silly. And we’re treated to several minutes of nothing happening but our protagonist getting progressively wasted. (I spent several years in a drug-fuelled delirium in real life. This does a good job portraying and glamorizing that, but I have better things to do than watch people being wasted.) But around 17 to 20 minutes in, things change, and if you saw the trailer it would have been given away… it changes to a vampire movie. Lots of gore, great music and atmosphere with disturbing visuals, and you’ll forgive the poor start as well as the silly explosive ending.

  • Thumbs up.
  • Watch this shit.

The funny thing for me is that I nearly stopped watching this movie in those first fifteen minutes, but it turned out to improve enough to be my favourite of the three. I’d elected to watch Depraved first, expecting it to be good, and Sweetheart was my second choice. Turned out my preconceptions were wrong, and this was the best of them, with Sweetheart being good too. Depraved was a disappointment.

Watch Doctor Sleep, the director’s cut

I just watched Doctor Sleep, without realizing that this was the director’s cut, but what a movie it is! I highly recommend. I’m not going to write a review because I could not write one without spoilers, but all I’m gonna say is that if you haven’t seen it, you should.

I started reading Stephen King when I was twelve years old, having already watched some horror movies, including Amityville II:  the possession and Videodrome. I also watched the Evil Dead part 2 the year it was released, though that was a few years later. Likewise I watched The Shining as a child before I read the book as a teenager, which I think I read at around 13. Having started with Carrie about a month before my thirteenth birthday, thirteen was a bumper year because there were already quite a few books he’d written by then. (1986)

So, all these years later, horror is still my favourite genre. I can’t say these movies or books scare me… it isn’t about that. It started out being about fear – fear of the supernatural and a fascination with all things spooky. I believed I lived in a haunted house as a child (aged one to three) – hell, I even had my parents convinced that the supernatural was real. And that, that place of deep fear, of terror, of overactive imagination fuelled by grim nightmares and sleep paralysis, is what drove me into my love for all things horror. And when I say horror, I don’t mean trashy slasher flicks like Friday the 13th, I mean real horror like Stephen King’s books and this excellent movie I just watched. And before that, it was horror comics, which for me were as important as the super hero ones.

Thank god (god isn’t real but those are the only words that work) for my parents who supported my interest in all things horror and didn’t stick to age restrictions. It would have been awful if I hadn’t been allowed to watch and read what I loved. Parents ought to support their children, even when that means breaking the rules when the rules don’t make sense.

Anyway, this one, just for moment, sent a chill down my spine, that scene with the ghost from the bathtub brought back a memory from the first (and only) time I watched The Shining as a child. So I’ll repeat… if you haven’t already watched it, you should do so. Maybe not alone at night – not everybody has quite the same temperament for these things that I do… but if that makes it scarier and more fun, then maybe that is the way. It’s the only way for me.

Eli – An unfortunate twist that leaves the movie making no sense

This past weekend, I watched two movies. One of them, Coherence, is a few years old now, so I guess most people have seen it. (It was excellent and worth watching if, like me, you missed it. Heck, it’s worth watching even if you’ve seen it before.) The other was Netflix’s Eli, which I thought looked worthwhile from the trailer.

It wasn’t. Spoilers follow. You have been warned.

The premise seemed interesting. A boy has to live in a plastic bubble, or makeshift spacesuit when going out, because he’s so ill, exposure to the world will kill him. He gets taken to a spooky old house and has a friend outside, in Sadie Sink, made famous in Stranger Things as the newest cast member and red haired girl who joined the cast in Season 2… seen in the trailer getting his attention by throwing stones on the windows from outside.

Except right off the bat, the movie doesn’t make much sense. Knowing that this was made by the producers of the Haunting of Hill House, I knew there’d be clues throughout. And sure enough, there were…

Some of the clues:

  • Some hillbilly types at the gas station mock him in his spacesuit at the start, and he “makes a wish” for his mother (something she does to calm him down kind of like Martha Kent calms little Clark in Man of Steel), and he wishes he could mess them up (I forget the exact words because I only watched it once), hinting at a hidden darker nature.
  • They rock up at the secluded spooky house, and the Sadie Sink character, who obviously doesn’t live there, is just hanging out in the yard, even though it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere. Not out of place at all.
  • They walk in the house, greeted by Lili Taylor as Dr Horn, and two seriously creepy nurses who stare suspiciously at the boy, making it quite clear that they are obviously not nurses.
  • In a conversation between Eli’s parents, she mentions needing to have faith, and he replies sarcastically, “I’ve always been faithful”. Too much emphasis on the word and obvious double-meaning.
  • Then the ghosts start to show up, in a trope that I am too lazy to look up but that one where the spooks are there to help kiddo realize the true nature of the house and that they are former “patients” who died at the hands or doctor Horn.
  • Another scene features his parents sitting at the base of a staircase, with her praying and he comments, “Do you think praying will help us?”

After that, the movie tries really hard to convince you that there isn’t a plot twist coming. Dr Horn and her two minions carry out bizarre medical procedures on the kid, and the movie limps along with him getting clues from the ghosts and the girl outside who mostly just hangs around, but also warns him that the last patient disappeared after medical procedure number 3. Convenient as he’s just had procedure 2.

Eventually it turns out –  surprize surprize – that Dr Horn is really some kind on super nun. He’s not really sick. His mother, having given up on god after praying to him for a child with no success, eventually prayed to the devil. So Eli is literally the Son of Satan. Da da daaaah! I kid you not!

The problem with this twist, though it seems to make sense at the time, is that since the “doctor” was not really a doctor, the medical procedures she did make no sense at all. The twist renders the whole movie plot pointless. It wasn’t an exorcism because they couldn’t remove who he is… so what the fuck were they doing? Nobody knows, and this is one case where the plot twist is so “clever”, it’s stupid, and makes the movie a joke.

On the whole, the movie wasn’t a bad watch. It was entertaining, but for something with such a twist, terribly predictable. And the twist kind of messed up everything that happened before it.

I finally saw Avengers: Infinity War

There will be spoilers here. Don’t read it if you don’t want to see spoilers. They won’t be major because I’m not going to tell you who dies, but they will give away plot details.

So I finally took my son to watch the new Avengers movie this past Saturday. “Finally” after it was only released a week ago may seem like an odd word to use, but I’ve been seeing spoilers everywhere so it felt like a long time. Firstly, I can not understand why it has a 13 age restriction. Josh is 10. Fortunately nobody looked at him too closely so they let us in.

Overall, I liked the movie. It was better than Thor Ragnarok, which I hated. The acting was good. The chemistry between the various actors worked. The comedy was not too excessive and was effective. The script was good. No complaints about any of those…

It was the plot I didn’t like. Thanos is the big bad guy, literally, and really all he does is get all the infinity stones for his gauntlet. In other words he does Big Bad Guy Stuff. He wins, of course, because there’s a second movie coming. His objective is to bring balance and “mercy” by wiping out half of all intelligent beings, which is similar to what he achieved with force a while back, as shown in a flashback. Having achieved his goal, he then sits around. He could just as well go fishing.

Thanos’s plan is to eliminate half of all life so that we do not have limited resources. In his mind that is mercy and ensuring that there is plenty for all. But why would he want to do so on Earth? It’s a place he’s never been. The same goes for most other places. Is he doing this because he loves everyone? It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t really much of a plan. It works in a comic of limited panels of rich colour drawn beautifully, but for me this doesn’t translate well to a movie plot. I want more. I want a villain who has more than two dimensions.

Although there are some deaths in the movie, the “shocker” comes at the end when Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet to snuff out half of all existence. In other words, people simply vanish in a puff of CGI smoke. But among those who vanish are some new Marvel characters who have movie sequels confirmed. (As far as I know, they do.) So to me, it feels kind of cheap and tacky.

Furthermore, there’s a clue in the post-credits scene that Captain Marvel is coming. Who exactly is she and how will she undo the work of the Gauntlet? I don’t know… sorry about that. But I do recognize a deus ex machina when I see one. For those who don’t know, deus ex machina, Latin for “God from the machine”, is a plot device where some unresolvable situation is lazily resolved from outside of the narrative.

Overall, I liked the movie. My ten year old son did too. And I know it’s based on a comic book, but still… The flaws in the plot could have been ironed out. Maybe a standalone Captain Marvel movie and some minor changes could have saved us from the cheap ending, but that would have meant doing away with the cliffhanger. And movie studios love their cliffhangers…

There were other issues I had with the plot. I can’t reveal them without writing greater spoilers, and I don’t want to do that, since the movie has only been playing for one week here. I do recommend seeing the movie.