Category Archives: Movies

Some thoughts at the End of All

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-pokes head from under covers- we good? Everyone has seen it? No one is going to get spoiled. I’m talking about Thor Ragnarok of course which has FINALLY opened in the US as well. What’s going on America. Has Marvel put you guys on timeout or something? No movies for you until everyone else has seen them? But I digress. My non-spoilers heavy review of the movie is that I love-love-loved it! I’m not saying there weren’t problems, but the overall movie left on the much happy/much feels end of the scale. Any more in-depth analysis will be very spoiler-y so you will find it under the huge-ass poster I am about to attach to this post! See you on the other side!

SPOILERS START HERE!

Ok, that should be enough warning for everyone. Now, this isn’t going to be an essay-length piece. I leave these to the professionals and really, I just want to talk about a few bits and pieces that got me thinking while I was watching the movie.

First things first: Odin’s death leading to Hela’s release:

This may be super headcanon-y on my part but I call bullshit. Odin might have had his (major major) flaws as a character but even with that I doubt he would be arrogant enough to bind the imprisonment of one he considered dangerous enough to kick-start the Apocalypse to his continued existence. Aesir are not immortal and Hela is the goddess of Death. Ragnarok or no Ragnarok, she would inevitably burry them all. What I think was meant was that Hela’s imprisonment was fueled by the power of the king of Asgard (which is all but outright said to be a reflection of the overall state of Asgard the realm. Conversely this is a motif very commonly found on Irish and Welsh legends, a great example being the Mabinogion). So here is what I think happened:

  1. Loki mind-wipes Odin and drops him on Earth faster than you can say retcon. He assumes his place on the throne therefore ensuring that a king still reigns in Asgard, even if he does so under a glamour. (mid-Dark World until beginning of Ragnarok)
  2. Thor all but outright rescinds his claim on the throne, pretty much cementing the claim Loki has, if only by virtue of having no one else to assume the throne (end of Dark World)
  3. Thor returns to Asgard and exposes Loki, effectively nullifying his position as king. At the same time Thor himself does not immediately assume the throne and Odin is off to Earth doing who knows what. (beginning of Ragnarok)

This is where things begin to get complicated. Suddenly we have three different men with pretty equal claims to the throne, none of which is actually king. I think this is where the spell holding Hela back is beginning to unravel. Let us not forget that one of the major points of the movie is that Thor needs to learn to distinguish his own inherent power (and one might say ability to lead his people as king) from that which he has inherited from his father as an aid to get him started on this path (which is why I think they chose to destroy Mjolnir so early in the movie, instead of the final battle). So at this stage, let’s timestamp it as the period between Thor returning to Asgard and the two brothers finding Odin in Norway, the spell is falling apart without any fuel but keeps trying to go on on sheer momentum.

Which brings me to my next point. I think Odin is already dead (and I mean that in the physical sense) by the time they find him. Bear with me, I’m about to get symbolic. Before Frigga’s death in Dark World she jokes that she is the reason Odin has survived as long as he has (which I fully accept since she is made of WIN). Now that could be banter between the two of them but notice how quickly Odin deteriorates after she dies. A large part of that is fuelled from gried (again, entirely understandable) but grief alone does not explain how increasingly unhinged he becomes from one scene to the next. It also doesn’t explain how he doesn’t recognise Loki under the glamour. Far be it from me to diss Loki’s skills but one thing that wasn’t faked in that sequence was the stab wound he got. I figured a good chunck of magic is being used to heal him and keep him standing, and on the throne scene, where he is disguised as a guard, the glamour is slipping a little.

So here is what I think happened. Maybe Loki returned to kill Odin. Maybe he returned to deliver the news of his “death” and see how people would react. Maybe he just decided to pop by to raid the library. I think at that point not even he could make out his motives. Whatever the reason, he manages to trick Odin in thinking him dead. Odin is still grieving the loss of his wife, the one pillar of unquestionable support he had (in chess terms, once you lose the queen, the game is pretty much lost). Add to that the perceived betrayal of Thor who runs off to what for all they know is a suicide mission and now the loss of his other son….well…..after Dark World originally came out many fans theorised that Odin was in the Odinsleep rather than dead. I agree with that theory. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him go into that state when the pressure became too much for his mind to cope (i.e. first Thor movie). The major difference is that now Frigga is not there to protect him as she has done before (I think it’s Loki that says in the first movie that Frigga does not leave her husbands bedside when he Sleeps). What if this guardianship is not just an expression of love but her way of acting as an anchor, allowing him to find his way back to his physical body?

So Loki is lead with an unconscious Odin and a kingdom that someone needs to run. Sound familiar? Only this time he knows better. He works from the shadows. He mind-wiped Odin before dropping him off to earth, ensuring that even after (if ever) he wakes up from his catatonic state he will be powerless to interfere, even if his memories return since everyone would assume his words to be insane ramblings. Odin indeed wakes up as an amnesiac (and off screen dammit). It should have ended there, but clearly some of his magic was still active (perhaps the spell leaching off him since at that point “Odin” was still called king). Dr Strange finds him and lifts the memory spell. And here is where things get interesting. You’d think the second that happened Odin would march straight back to Asgard. He doesn’t. He goes to Norway instead, the site I assume the Asgard-Jotunheim war was waged back in the early Viking era (or the flashback sequence of the first movie, lol). Why? Perhaps he knows he is dieing and it makes him introspective. Perhaps he knows his death would potential release Hela and therefore he is uncharacteristically selflessly trying to draw her away from people. Maybe it’s both.

Or maybe, when Dr Strange lifted the spell, some of Odin was already lost either to the afterlife or to the void. Remember, when he “dies” in front of Thor and Loki, there isn’t a body left. He turns in the same star matter Frigga’s body turns at her funeral (which I thought was some kind of magic or maybe even an indication that she ascends to Valhalla since she died in battle). Odin doesn’t die in battle, he just kinda… fades away. No way he’s going to Valhalla in this continuity, I don’t care if technically it’s his hall. So maybe most of him is already dead and his spirit lingers just long enough to deliver his final messages. After all, Hela’s imprisonment start to visibly break before he’s fully disappeared. And let us not forget that his “mortal” form is the way he appears afterwards in Thor’s visions. If that was Thor’s subconscious trying to knock some sense to him, would Odin appear as a frail man or as the powerful king Thor would remember from his youth? Unless he is as spirit, projecting himself to his son’s mind for the same purpose (and the mythological Odin did have aspects of a chthonic deity so it’s not that unlikely).

Hela. Just. Hela.

My Lady Death was definitely one of the high points of the movie. She kicked ass, took names and looked absolutely flawless in the process. Surely there is nothing wrong with her, even if her death scene was hilariously anticlimactic (and seriously how can the GODDESS OF DEATH die? Oxymoron much?). Except for one tiny little detail. THEY MADE HER THOR’S SISTER! WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL (OR HEL, I’M NOT PICKY AT THIS POINT)??? Why would that be a problem since the Aesir/Vanir family trees had already be torn to shreds by the comics and subsequently the the earlier movies? Because even the comics did not shrink from acknowledging that Hela, Fenrir and (the conspicuously absent) Jormungand are Loki’s children. Through all the deaths, rebirths and universe ends, that fact remained. And yes, I know the Thor and Loki of the movies are meant to be younger than their comics counterparts. (much younger in fact. A fan figured out the Midgard-Asgard age differentiation and, assuming that Jotnar have the same life-span as Aesir, Loki is the equivalent of 18 in the first Thor movie. Let that sink in for a moment) My tendencies towards mythological puritanism aside, there are several other reasons why Hela’s character would have worked better as Loki’s daughter rather than Odin’s.

  1. It pretty much destroys Frigga’s character as a protective and loving mother. Because let’s be honest, if Frigga was indeed “the only reason [Loki] is still alive”, do you think she would have passively allowed what happened to her first-born daughter? Or went along with her erasure from Asgardian history? I don’t think so. Therefore what happened? If I recall the Eddas correctly, Frigga is not Odin’s only wife so maybe the implication is that the whole Hela episode happened before she and Odin were wed? Notice how she is absent from the mural depicting Asgard’s past.
  2. Hela as the scorned child of Odin would serve not just as the villain but also as Thor’s foil. A foil that is not necessary since any lesson that might have been learnt from such a conflict has been covered through his love-hate sibling relationship with Loki. To reiterate it is not necessary. I suppose she could be his foil in terms of mastery of their individual powers. After all she also used to wield Mjolnir but clearly grew out of needing it to channel her powers. Thor still relies to his magic hammer until at least halfway through the movie, and even then it’s touch and go for a while.
  3. Still, villains are necessary for conflict and this is how Hela could have provided a more complex antagonist as Loki’s daughter. We have seen how Odin’s A+ parenting affected not only his children, but also (and since his governing style is similar) the Nine Realms as a whole. These are the immediate effects. But how about long-term effects?
    1. With as long as the Aesir life-cycle is these long-term effects could have a far greater ripple effect than what we might assume. A vengeful Hela returning to take revenge for her banishment would be one of those effects. It would add a further point of tension between Loki and Odin which would make any retrospective viewing of the Phase 1 and 2 movies more nuanced.
    2. It would also offer more tangible tension between Loki and Hela (other than the “gods, is that what I sounded like back in the Avengers?” vibe I couldn’t help but get). There would have been an undercurrent of bitterness, a question of why didn’t Loki do something either during his reign in Thor or later after he fell off the Bifrost. It would raise the question of whether he was following on Odin’s footsteps in terms of parenting (a terrifying idea if there ever was one…)
    3. Thor not knowing who Hela was could still be maintained. You could have Hela been on Asgard for a short time in her childhood, perhaps during one of Thor’s earlier quests. If her presence hadn’t be made known to the general public, it would have been relatively easy to hide her existence and banishment from Thor after the fact. Which, again retrospectively, would provide a further point that would drive apart the two brothers. In both the comics (especially the more modern ones) and the movies one of the major causes of conflict between the two is less Loki being an unrepentant villain and more the secrets kept from one another leading to feelings of mistrust and betrayal on both sides.
  4. The question of genetics AND character design.Yes, any great diversion on Hela’s character model from her comics counterpart would have probably resulted in riots. And kudos to the costume department for making that headdress look less silly and more intimidating. I was honestly surprised. I mean come on! Look at this! How even?! But I digress. Case in point, she looks like Loki’s daughter in the movies. Dark hair, green eyes, similar armour colour skin, similar fondness for stabbing people…. Unless Odin’s (very) hypothetical first wife also coincidentally looked like Loki then the genetics don’t add. And don’t tell me it’s magic and her shaping her appearance to match her role (which, again, who does it remind you of?). No, what I think happened was that in an earlier draft of the script she was Loki’s daughter and then further down the editing process it was changed for whatever reason.

So yeah, these were my major complaints. Also, not nearly enough Valkyrie, but we dodged a bullet with her not being Thor’s maybe-lady for the movie so thank gods for small mercies. Still wish she had a name. Valkyrie is a title, it doesn’t count. Nor does it make sense since she’s sworn off that kind of life/service/calling/whatever. It just bugged me. And while we’re on the subject of potential love interests, what the hell happened to Jane? Or Sif? I mean yeah, I kinda assumed Sif was at the Collector’s House of Wonders guarding the Aether, since they have confirmed she is alive. But Jane? Her relationship with Thor was on of the core plot threads in Dark World. Even if Natalie Portman couldn’t appear in Ragnarok due to scheduling conflicts or whatever, there are a hundred different ways you can explain away the absence. Like her character or not, she deserved better than a who-dumped-who joke. (Although Loki’s little eyeroll on the side was pretty funny.

While on the subject, Loki as usual stole the show. And it was nice his character (finally) got some closure without him going full Jedi on us.

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There is no reason for this gif. I just like to flashback to UNNECESSARILY deleted scenes occasionally. Because if you can’t see why this little bit was essential then you need to get your eyes checked. Ok… deep breaths …. Fangirl moment over, back to the serious stuff.

What do I mean? Well the hope of redemption has been a large part of the character’s wider appeal since he first made puppy eyes on the screen and Tumblr spontaneously spawned an army of fangirls (and boys, let’s be real). But up until this point the implication was that this was unlikely. The dichotomy between good!Thor and evil!Loki was too obvious, never mind both of them are as morally grey as they come. I’m not gonna sit here and say that Thor is Lawful Good when he damn near made a war out of a petty insult. Heck, it’s even been acknowledged by the character himself! In canon! “[Bilge snipe] are repulsive. And they trample everything in their path. When I first came to Earth, Loki’s rage followed me here, and your people paid the price. And now, again. In my youth, I courted war.” Thor’s own character development from movie to movie is also fascinating and I may talk about it more at some point but I seem to have sidetracked myself again…. I blame the gif!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the assumption was that Loki could not be redeemed because no way he could be good like Thor was. But Ragnarok proved that that was not necessary. Under his reign Asgard is flourishing (the director’s words, not mine) even there is a certain fatalistic sense to it. Thor accuses him of cutting of the Realm from their allies and basically letting the rest of Yggdrasil to go hang. But unlike Thor, Loki has had first-hand experiences with Thanos. I’m pretty sure he “failed” on Midgard’s invasion in the Avengers partially to get out of Thanos’ thumb (because you cannot tell him that was him trying his best.) I honestly don’t think Loki believes Thanos can be beat. So if all is to end, why not make the last few days or years or centuries happy and idyllic?

What is more, even with all the backstabbing going on in this movie (and wasn’t that a lovely lampshade that particular trope received?) and overall oaths he wants to see Asgard burn to the ground, when he comes back at the triumphant saviour (and that’s what a good payoff looks like by the way) it’s not just for his brother. It’s for the people too. He’s the one who stays close to the ship to make sure the people make it there before he gets called off to deus ex summon Surtur into the climax. Also that final scene between him and Thor before Infinity Wars comes a-knocking to ruin the mood. I can’t have been the only one who got weepy in seeing him finally in peace.

Still a little bitter that my two favourite sorcerers did not get to geek out but I’m holding out for Infinity Wars. And fanfiction.

….

I just had a look at the word count.

So much for this not being essay-length….

Ok, I’m gonna rapid-fire some more positives at you guys before I get to analysing again and we end up with a thesis to deal with.

  1. The soundtrack was glorious and I will be getting my hands on it ASAP (which reminds me… I need to get the Dark World one too…)
  2. Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster. I haven’t seen the character in the comics so I don’t know how loyal the portrayal was but for the MCU? Nailed it. And he wasn’t super-creepy, unlike the Collector, who always reminded me of a demonic David Bowie. You know.Image result for jareth labyrinth Less than…. David Bowie’s actual sorta-demonic, I don’t care if he’s called the Goblin King, performance. Before anyone shoots me, I do in fact love the Labyrinth, in all its cheesy, glittery, potentially LSD induced glory.
  3. The fact the the Grandmaster and Loki were totally flirting and none of you can take that away from me! HA!
  4. The Hulk as a character and not a plot device. Also the fact that he got character development and the fact that we don’t sweep under the rug the effect all this had to Bruce Banner.
  5. Korg. Just. Korg.
  6. The utter ineffectiveness of Skurge as a replacement!Heimdall. (“You had one job!”)
  7. Heimdall also kicking ass and taking names.
  8. The much wider use of magic and runes, because bog-dangit you’re space Vikings! Do something stereotypical already. And yes I will be going back to that scene and trying to translate what the runes actually say.
  9. Asgard going BOOM
  10. That fact that Asgard is canonically four elephants and a turtle away from being Discworld.
  11. Doctor Strange being an absolute sassmaster and teleporting because he can.
  12. The implication that some of Odin’s trophies are fake. Because, let’s be honest. It’s consistent with the character….
  13. Alternatively that there were originally two infinity gauntlets. The thought fills me with the appropriate amount of dread
  14. Surtur not being taking seriously until he must be taken seriously
  15. Stan Lee as a psychotic cyborg barber. Nothing ever tops the confirmation that he is the Watcher (and the subsequent potential 4th wall breaking) but still pretty close
  16. The fact that Loki and Thor could finally act as themselves and not the roles those surrounding them expect them to act as. (note to self: do another blogpost on this) 

I could go on but this post is over 3000 words already and I am seriously getting hungry now. See you folks next time!

Organised chaos is the way to live

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People often ask me why I chose to work as cabin crew, seeing as the constant human contact and changes of schedule might not be the best for an introvert with an almost pathological fear of missing appointments. Yes, the prospect of travelling is a huge plus but still! How do you deal with the difficulties? Well, dear reader, to answer the first half of this question….. I am a spectacular liar. No, I do not make a habit of making up stories of embellishing the truth. I am however very good as lying about myself. People expect me to be friendly on the job, so sure! I can lie and be friendly, even act like the prospect of being around people without reprieve for, sometimes eleven or twelve hours, is not just easy but also welcome. After, these people will likely never see them again. It also helps that much as I am not comfortable around people, I love listening to stories. Like with travelling, I will put up with A LOT if it means that by the end of it I’ll have a good tale to come back to. Still hate when people get over-friendly though…. Like, we just met? Why the hell are you hugging me like we went to school together?

As for the second bit, yes I enjoy routine to an extent. I like knowing that, if a day goes spectacularly bad, I’ll have a few certainties to fall back to. That however is not the same as needing a schedule to function. Quite the contrary, I operate best when under pressure. Give an adrenaline shot and the need to improvise on the spot and you’ll have me at my best (at least not when research is involved). If I have to chuck the rulebook out the closest window, even better. This was actually on my greatest challenges during training: The Rules. For me they are something to pay attention to, take into consideration and respect. After all, they were put down  for a reason, however obscure it is. And I’d never ignore them just for the giggles if there was a safety issue. But following them like they’re the Bible (or any other religious text of your choice…)? No thanks. Best way to get me to poke at something is to tell me not to question it. Juvenile on my part perhaps, but I’ve always learnt better when I understood the why before the how.

And to build on that I have to question (heh!) something I heard near the end of the first part of my training. Our instructor gave us a personality test, one of the fancy ones that modern companies love and yet is not that far from those I used to take on teen magazines. I’ll spare you the gory details but my results could be summed up as:

  • “give me the facts”
  • “spare me the sob story”
  • “screw the rules, we need results”

And all that to the surprise of no one exactly… What did come to a surprise to me was that, apparently, when it comes to cabin crew airlines like the so-called “fluffy bunnies”. And I don’t mean this as an insult, it’s literally how the type was summed up by the quiz. You know the ones! Super empathetic, super nice, make amazing crying shoulders and, if you’re like me, you avoid them like the plague lest they suffocate you. Absolute sweethearts and gods of customer service/placating but frankly I wouldn’t trust them with a flashlight in an emergency. I’m talking about the general type here, not anyone in particular. I have no doubt there are people out there who go from marshmallow to absolute badass at the drop of the hat. I just wonder, even taking the importance, nay vitality, of happy customers into account, you’d prefer a personality type with a tendency to crack under pressure as your primary choice. Especially considering how important safety is.

Am I being too cynical? Probably. I’ve never been one to trust people explicitly, especially people who’s first question is “how are you feeling?!” instead of “how can we solve the problem?”. Tough love is a thing, you know. A wonderful, wonderful thing.

 

On a completely unrelated note, Thor 3 will be coming out the day after I return from my next trip. Expect ravings of the extra fangirlish, super tired type, as  I ignore my minor jetlag and major lack of sleep to drag myself to the closest cinema and enjoy the cinematic version of the End-All (sorta….not really) before the actual End-All comes up and collectively kicks our asses.

Go away anxiety! I’m busy(-ish)!

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I remember back in high school when my friends would ask me how on earth I stayed calm before tests or exams. The answer, unfortunately, was not magic. Rather, it was a curious of acknowledging the inevitable, compartmentalising and just good, ol’ plain not caring. That last bit especially has helped me through quite a lot of would-be panic inducing scenarios. See, the trick is, that if deep-down you are indifferent to the result then why should you stress over it. I invite students of psychology to tell me how many different levels of self-manipulation, denial and repression are involved in this.

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Ironically that also means that when I’m truly invested in something I…well….I over-prepare. And by that I mean, read every single scrap of information that I can find on the subject. Which eventually will lead me older and older stuff (posts, articles, book extracts… I don’t have a big library at my beck and call anymore, so it’s the terrifying depths of the internet that I turn to). Of course, anything older than two years needs to be take with a big, heaping tablespoon of salt, especially if it’s regulations-related. Doesn’t stop me from reading it. And then privately freaking out about contradicting sources.

But what is the current cause of the anxiety I bemoan up at the title line? Well, to put it briefly, paperwork. Tomorrow is my appointment at the US Consular Office to sort out my visa (and liven up, my so-far boring passport…). Here’s the problem, if it might be called so: I’ve done the prepwork that’s required (application, picture, payment, la-di-da…) and even crosschecked it with a fellow candidate AND the (not quite clear) instructions BA has provided us with. Everything that needs printing has been printed, all the papers I need to have with me are in their neat little folder, heck I’ve even picked out an outfit and worked out train timings! Explain to me then why for the past eight hours my brain has been kinda like….

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Rei on the outside, Usagi on the inside…

-sigh- This is finals all over again. To the best of my knowledge I’m perfectly prepared and (knowing me) will there way ahead of schedule…. There are zero things at my application that might lead to me being denied the visa. So why? What possible cause would my brain have to go down the Apocalypse Now route of scenarios? I sometimes joke that I panic over insignificant things so that when an actual crisis comes up, I’m all paniced-out and therefore able to focus. So maybe my subconscious has delegated this whole shebang under “not Earth-shatteringly important”?

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On top of that there is always the ever-present dilemma of buying the cabin bag I’ll need to get eventually now (when Debenhams has an absolutely beautiful sale going on…) and wreak further havoc to my budget or leave it for later and risk missing the sale and paying three times the amount. And of course some paperwork I need to complete for my medical exam on the 31st which I’ve been putting off solely because I despise filling out forms. They have a magical way of making me feel fifteen years younger than I actually am, and I am hardly old enough for that to mean “charmingly young”. (It’s more like “toddler”).

So yeah…unloading online it is. And probably working out until my joints feel like they made out of half-cooked dough… But on the bright side Infinity Wars’ trailer should be coming out soonish and all things Black Panther and Thor 3 so far look bloody gorgeous. Thank you Marvel for continuing to fire up my little fangirl heart!

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There’s no reason for this gif. I just find it hilarious!

 

SPOILERS! Some thoughts on Spiderman: Homecoming

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This is your warning people! You scroll beyond the picture, you get spoilers.

This isn’t going to be a full-on review, partially because it’s been a few days since I saw the movie and, while my memory is good, it’s not that good. This is just going to be a few things about the film I want to touch upon/rant and rave about. Mostly because I adored the film so much.

  1. Can we all please take a moment to appreciate the fact that MCU finally gave us a good father figure? -wipes tear- I knew you had it in you Tony. Mentor my left foot…. He went on full dad-mode on Peter. And I was so happy about it! (Before anyone gets on my case, I have seen both Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I’m still on the fence about Yondu. On the one hand yeah…he was there for Peter Q. when he really needed him. On the other hand….yeah…issues….)Image result for i want you to be better spiderman
  2. While we’re on the subject of my favourite billionaire, how happy was I when he and Pepper got back together? And the ring? Since 2008? Google tells me that that is when the first Iron Man came out. It is my new headcannon that Tony went and got himself the ring after he returned from Afghanistan. Like, straight after that first press conference.
  3. Ned. Just Ned. And the fact that we finally gave poor Peter a BFF that will NOT be turning into the Green Goblin. Plus his genre-saviness was cute.Without wading to Deadpool-esque 4th wall breaking.
  4. The fact that the “With great power comes great responsibility” thing did not come up. Like at all. Five Spiderman movies later, I don’t there’s anyone that’s not tired of that line.  Though it makes me curious… How do you think they offed uncle Ben this time?
  5. Peter vlogging everything
  6. Karen. And everything she stands for. Do you think Tony programmed an entire AI just for Peter’s suit. I expected there’d be an AI, but I figured it’d be F.R.I.D.A.Y.
  7. “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself becoming the villain”- Wrong Batman timeline, I know, but with Michael Keaton as the villain what did you expect?
  8. The movie is about Peter. Not Spiderman. It’s about Peter learning how to balance the superhero-ing around his everyday life. They don’t ignore that he’s a teenager. They don’t Gary Stu him (bless the scriptwriters for that). He’s a genius, yeah. But it’s the sort of genius that’s realistic. Sure he can work miracles on certain areas but that doesn’t make him all-knowing or wise beyond his years. Which is kind of a relief. Flawed characters are the best after all.
  9. Whoever in the US government convinced Captain America to do these educational videos. THANK YOU. It’s the sort of cheesy, well-intentioned thing I can totally see Steve getting suckered into doing. Also the fact that they acknowledge that he’s on the run from the government but, eh! Can’t be bothered to substitute the videos so we’ll go ahead and show them.
  10. No major character deaths! ‘nuf said
  11. How is Happy still alive? For the matter, how hasn’t he gone bald from the stress?
  12. Kinda wish we’d seen Peter meeting Vision. How cute that would have been.
  13. Shout-out for UEA showing up as the Avengers’ HQ again! (Love my old uni!)
  14. Yay for awkwardly awkward teen romance!
  15. That last end credit scene. Just…. Cap, it’s stunts like this that make me want to punch you.

 

Rogue One, or that time when the cameo did not overshadow the plot

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Yay one for finally watching the movie! And yay two for it being as good as it was! And yay three that I did not scream/giggle/gush or otherwise vocally embarrass myself inside the theatre. Believe you me, it was a struggle. I mean, ok, I knew it would be good. Unlike the -more- mixed reactions that The Force Awakens garnered (shove off, it was a good movie!), since Rogue One premiered everyone and their mother has been raving over how good it was. I was cruelly late to the bandwagon because reasons but, yeah… To be perfectly honest, my consummate fangirl side would have been glad to pay the admission fee just for the Darth Vader scene we had been promised in the trailer and Mother of the Great Hungry Sarlacc did that movie deliver both in terms of heroes and villains!

 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the sort of movie you can discuss without diving headfirst into spoiler territory (Legends included to an extent I’m afraid) so if you haven’t watched the movie yet and you mind spoilers the giant picture below will serve as your last signpost.

 

HERE BE SPOILERS FOR ROGUE ONE AND THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY!

 

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για rogue one poster

 

Right! Not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed when the Lucas Films logo wasn’t followed by an opening scroll or the iconic music. I suppose they chose to do so to divide it from the main storyline which, let’s be honest, could have been subtitled “The Skywalker saga” and still be true. Same with the shift in the font as well. The whole, cold opening – title – first act sequence seems to be very popular the last few years and in a way it does serve as a very effective time jump marker. After this slight failure to deliver for the rabid fangirl in me, I actually had to focus on the movie. I had only seen the very first trailer released, meaning, among other things, that certain events utterly blindsided me. Point goes to movie on that one.

More than all the establishing exposition-heavy dialog what I liked about the opening was how well it gave you a feeling on the reality of the Imperial galaxy. The original trilogy was mostly focused on the conflict between Alliance and Empire and son and father, and as such was strangely…small scale, if that is an appropriate term for the movie franchise that made a name for the ages by bringing weapons of mass destruction to a planetary level. The prequels, Clone Wars series included, gave us more of an understanding of exactly how huge the Republic is, how easy it is to entirely disappear with no trace, despite the tracking abilities of Force-sensitive beings and the technology available as well. It is therefore a testament to how pervasive the Empire’s hold is that Krennic (oh we’ll get to him later!) is able to track down the Erso family in the middle of Bloody Nowhere, probably somewhere in the Outer Rim. I suppose it could be argued that they never lost Galen and they just waited for him to be necessary before deploying the Stormtroopers…

All tone-setting elements aside, the opening left me with questions that I felt the movie failed to answer: What was the significance of the Kyber crystal neclace that Jyn is given by her mother? We learn later that Kyber crystals powered the Death Star laser (which begs the question, if the main mining site is destroyed, then where did they find enough to power the second Death Star?) on top of being the basis for lightsabers. And the crystal itself is not a raw piece. It has been clearly polished to its current shape. Did it come from a lightsaber? Did Galen or his wife know a Jedi? They used to live on Coruscant, through the Fall of the Republic so it is possible. Later on, why is Jyn in prison? How long has she been there? She’s clearly used to the conditions but has the necklace and the Empire doesn’t strike me as the type to allow prisoners personal effects. I have to say though, Jyn’s reaction to be being “rescued” by the Rebels was priceless. And it shows that maybe they weren’t as glorified by the general population as the original trilogy might lead you to believe… Which again brings us back to the point of this movie being more grounded to reality (as much as a sci-fi series can be) than the others.

It’s also shown in the depiction of the rebels. They aren’t a united front, they aren’t even all that confident in their prospects. There’s the idealists among them of course, but there are also they ones that are in it for the money, the fighting or even revenge (even Luke is not exempt from that. Lofty
Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Davits Dravenaspirations aside, you can’t tell me that joining the Rebellion wasn’t at least in part in retaliation to what it had done to his family). And what  better representation of the less…shiny parts of the Rebellion than General Davits Draven himself. I wanted to punch the guy’s face in. I don’t know what it was about him, maybe I just have issues with authority figures (Mace Windu evoked a similar sentiment), but dear Mother of All he grated on me! He wasn’t even like Tarkin, whom you love to hate, he was just…unpleasant. Maybe it’s because I’ve come across some rather unflattering characterisations of General Madine lately. I’ve yet to track him down on the comics but if half the things the fanfic writers accuse him of or imply about him are true, then we already have an unlikable yet effective Intelligence Alliance General. Do we really need another one?

And speaking of unlikeable, yet entirely understandable characters, Saw Gerrera. Yeah, we’ll be entering awkward territory folks here. A Clone Wars Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για Saw Gerreraveteran, which, in my opinion, more than explains his attitude towards warfare. Are his opinions comfortable to hear? No, and not just because we as an audience are seeing everything unfold through Jyn’s point of view for the most part. Consider this as well. Gerrera serves as an absent father figure, one that seemingly abandoned our plucky young protagonist. He has seen the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire and is disillusioned about the state of the galaxy. He prefers to fight rather than look for a subtle approach. He is, by his own admission, part cyborg and carries with him a breathing apparatus that should by all application of logic hinder his fighting abilities. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? Even a little? And then there is his base of operation: the moon Jedha with its dessert-like environment and obsolete connection to the Jedi Order…

Oh Jedha! I’m on two minds about that entire sequence of events. On the one hand, anything that causes Tarkin a headache is welcomed by me! On the other hand, a subtle scene this was not. Perhaps that was the point they were going for. In keeping with the realism, they needed to  do away with most of the romanticised idealism of the previous movies. And maybe it’s even a good thing that I could see people squirming on their seats. Potential questions of social commentary aside, the Star Destroyer… I refuse to believe that behemoth can be parked inside a planet’s atmospheric layer without a. igniting said atmosphere and b. landing planetside because of the gravitational pull. It made for a really cool visual but other than that…. (And since we’re on the subject, no, there is no way the Death Star could have a targeting system more accurate than “obliterate planet X”)

Speaking of cool things; Chirrut Îmwe and everything he represented were definitely of the sort. Force user outside the Jedi/Sith dual system and the way he used the Force as an extension of his physical  senses is also how I always figured Darth Vader made do with the frankly atrocious field of vision the mask afforded him. His mantra was also interesting, a mix of what was said about the Force in the prequels and the original trilogy. I don’t know if that is because the film is set in a transitory point in terms of how much about the Force is known or because different sects? organisations? Orders? had different beliefs but it was nice. And I suppose if you aren’t exactly swinging around with a lightsaber you’d be less interested in the more combat-related applications of it. Not that the staff wasn’t awesome! Because I am an absolute sucker for staff-like weapons! And if things hadn’t gone the way they had I can totally see Baze Malbus, Han Solo and Chewbacca sitting together and having an absolute geek-fest over their weapons. Same with K-2SO and R2-D2. The sass could simply not be contained!

Meanwhile in the far less colourful world of the Imperials there were so many things that tickled me! Tarkin in all his vulture-like hatefulness and outmanoeuvring superpowers. (I thought the digital rendering was pretty great btw) I did not mind one bit how he replaced Krennic. Although I was confused when it comes to how they were placed in the chain of commander. Pretty sure they called Krennic a Director and Tarkin a Commander, but Tarkin was a Grand Moff in New Hope and does Commander trump Director? Sure, swift promotions around the upper echelons of the Empire are not exactly rare but still… Maybe they just made a mistake in the scenario. And I gotta say what absolutely cemented Krennic on the choke-worthy list was how he tried to sucker up to Lord Friggin Vader to get his position back. Folks, it’s been nearly twenty years. Are you honestly telling me that there are Imperials left alive alive that are not aware of Vader’s short patience?

And bothering him on his me-time? What’s up with that? Although I found it odd that, of all the planets in the galaxy, Vader would choose Mustafar for his seclusion. His introductory scene was so atmospheric! The shadows and partial lightning letting you wonder what exactly is going on, and then the blurry figure inside the bacta tank. -shivers- And it adds to the character, I think, that he goes from healing-session to rain-wrath-on-everyone in less than a minute flat. Some might say that the short order of Krennic’s visit contributed to Vader’s sour mood, but I stand by my point that he just doesn’t like Director Asshat. His voice was a little off in the beginning, but that may have something to do with the copy of the movie my theatre was playing because after a while it sounded like I remembered from the other movies. -shrug-

While I’m gushing over the Scariest Guy In The Galaxy, did anyone else think that the final scene (which was EPIC) sorta mirrored Vader’s introductory scene. Something about the smoke and shadows and the singular source of light (this time being the red blade)… But then again Vader does have a tendency for dramatic lightning in his scenes…

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The only other thing I will say for the closing scene is that it is an experience. And I would definitely rewatch the entire film just for those few minutes.

The attack on Scarif had shades of the battle of Endor. I suppose there are only so many effective ways to sneak in a highly secure military compound, especially when you have the Death Star looming over your head (and it will forever amaze me that that thing can actually jump to lightspeed. I know air resistance is not a thing in space, but look at that shape!). The ground assault was handled well and the stakes and consequences were illustrated in far harsher lines than Star Wars usually has done. (Maybe it has something to do with the shifting attitudes towards movie ratings. According to the MPPA, all Star Wars episodes up to and including Attack of the Clones were given a PG rating. From Revenge of the Sith and onward this was bumped up to PG-13, which admittedly allows for more leeway on what can be shown on-screen.)

I knew going in that the likelihood of any of the main characters of the movie making it alive to the end was slim to none, before I even knew that Darth Vader would have more screentime than the trailer implied (Stan Lee cameo number of seconds…). I was pleasantly surprised to find that of all the death scenes, none served as shock value. They all served a purpose in advancing the plot through its explosive climax and were allowed to be emotional and even quiet at times. Even Krennic got his moment of ironic justice, not that anyone would weep for him. For me, the more punch-in-the-gut death had to be Bodhi Rook’s. Poor man spent the entire film doing everything short of backflips to convince the Rebels he is one of them and just as he reaches a point where there is an element of companionship, it’s bombs away.

Despite my romantic tendencies I was beyond relieved that there was no overt romance between Jyn and Cassian. A lot of their interactions could be taken to indicate a budding attraction (budding being the operative word here) but I just as much liked them as friends. Maybe, if they have survived, it could have bloomed to something else but in the amount of time they’ve known each other and with the stupendous amount of baggage they have between them…no. And before anyone points fingers to the Anidala ship, a. they already were friends, b. they had more time to interact with each other and allow their friendship to grow to something else, c. by virtue of it being a sequel you could make a case of them being -heh!- star-crossed lovers since we kinda need them to be together for the Skywalker twins to be born.

This review has been all over the place and there are a ton of things I didn’t touch upon, but I’ve already hit an essay-length word count so I’ll leave it off here. In retrospect is Rogue One a perfect movie? No. Is it a good one? Yes. It slots neatly in the SW canon, it handles its subject matter well and hits quite a few nostalgic points without devolving into pure fanservice. Would I recommend it to a friend? Not a starter point for the franchise but if they had seen the other movies, then definitely!

Moana or, why sometimes a simple story is the best kind of story

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Yeah, I finally watched Moana last week. And what an adventure it was, just getting to the cinema with the buses being late and getting their stops mixed up…The type that makes for a long, agonising, lung-burning, foot-hurting, RUNNING kind of story. But I digress! I made it on time for the movie and in the end that is all that matters. But what of the film itself?

Image result for moana movie poster

Favourite version of the poster! ❤ ^_^

The trailer had looked really promising and I was going in not with the highest of expectations but certainly hyped. Aaaaaand promptly got the scare of my life when the customary short started playing and I thought I had walked in on the wrong screening. Mercifully a kid a few seats over panicked over the same thing and his mother reassured as both that we were, in fact, in the right place. Now, I’ll try to keep the SPOILERS to a minimum here but you have been warned nonetheless!

The story is the basic, coming-of-age narrative that Disney seems to be particularly fond of, interspersed with some pretty awesome (and catchy as hell songs!). It was awesome to see the song lyrics being incorporated in the narrative and the dialogue too. I don’t know, maybe it’s the movies I’ve watched lately but in quite a few of them the songs felt a bit…I don’t know…shoehorned… (Love is an Open Door, I’m looking at you!) Not here though! And I also liked how the two main songs (other than Maui’s solo) got a couple reprises. It helped tie the plot together and show the progression of the character(s) through the three acts.

Animation was obviously gorgeous and damn if I don’t want to go swimming in that paradise island (Motunui, which apparently a real place in New Zealand…huh!) with it’s white-golden sand, the crystal clear waters and the absolute lack of anything even resembling a jelly fish -shudder-. I also liked the great variation in the character designs but I swear if I hear one more person calling the titular heroine chubby I will break something!

-Quick tangent here just to get this off my chest. Skip below to avoid the rant and return to the movie fangirling-

No, buddy, she is not chubby. Like, at all. She’s a teenager (I think they mentioned she’s 15), with a healthy, athletic body, which, considering what we see of the lifestyle at Motunui is perfectly understandable. Now she doesn’t have a corset-shaped body figure or prominent cheekbones. And that is a good thing! And maybe her legs do not rival those of a ballet dancer but they can certainly carry her through all the running and swimming and climbing and wayfinding she does during the movie. Come on guys, we went through this whole thing when Brave came out! And remember the backlash when Disney published an image of Merida that was more in line with the figures of the Classic and Renaissance era princesses? 

The point is, teenage girls, unless they do some really intensive athletic or dancing regime, will not be as willowy as the heroine of a Gothic romance. And yes, I know this could be considered a generalisation and yes, I have met girls who ate half their body weight daily and still remained thin, but let us go with the common denominator  for a moment. It’s puberty. It puts the body through a major roller-coaster and not just because of the raging hormones. So it’s no surprise that the so-desired harmony of body analogies will be a bit of a pipe dream until the body decides what it actually wants to look like. 

So what’s wrong with having role models for girls (and boys, you can’t imagine how GLAD I was that Maui, as the main male character, was not drawn like frigging Superman) that come in all shapes and, why not? sizes? Moana is a badass because of her actions and her character, not because she’d be able to fit in a size 6 dress. And to people who see this as encouraging girls to be chubby, well….

  1. You’re an idiot
  2. It’s not your body, it’s not your concern
  3. Some people are just naturally built that way
  4. I’d rather see a little girl or even a teenager, heck an adult be what you call chubby and happy and self-confident rather than thin and eternally worried about putting on weight
  5. No one’s body is here to adhere to your standards of the norm or aesthetically pleasing, so kindly keep your comments to yourself and well out of earshot of young people at an extremely impressionate and formative age in terms of self-perception. 

-End of tangent, back to our usual content-

Since we’re on the subject of characters anyway let me sum up my views on that real quick. Moana’s conflict with her parents, mainly her dad, had shades of Ariel’s conflict with King Triton in the Little Mermaid. Only here, and I take this as a sign of how much more developed kids’ films have become, we are given perfectly legitimate reasons for her father’s stance. True, Moana needs to break through her family’s fears in order to become her own person but there is a huge difference between “All humans are evil because I said so” and ” Do not go SPOILERS beyond the reef because I know from experience that that is dangerous”. Also yay for both parents being alive and involved! But my favourite supporting character had to be grandmother Tala! She is exactly the type of crazy old lady I aspire to be sixty years from now. Again, in her relationship with Moana there were shades of grandmother Willow and Pocahontas and -in a non-Disney context- Iroh and Zuko (any A:tLA fans?) She was wise but not on-the-nose about it and most importantly she guided her granddaughter without forcing her down a path necessarily, and I think that was what ultimately gave Moana the confidence boost she needed to start becoming her own person, keeping what she needed from her childhood and its familiarity and shedding what she had outgrown to make way for new experiences.

Maui was a delight and not in small part due to his voice actor’s (Dwayne Johnson) occasional deadpan delivery. At times he skirted meta-awareness and 4th wall breaking territory, which I felt was a bit out of place in a kids’ film but got a few chuckles out of the adults in the audience. I read some people describing as a comic relief character but I honestly didn’t get that vibe from him. Yes, his redemption arc takes the backseat at times (after it’s not his movie) and he is undeniably funny at times, but if you actually look beyond the magic tattoos and snark, his story is actually really dark. Not gonna say more here because we’re keeping this SPOILERS-lite but what little was told and/or hinted of his backstory on the film has me wanting to dig up an anthology of Polynesian myths and get myself sucked in.

Moana herself was a pleasure of a main character. She was a teenager and that included the attitude, the sass, and the irrepressible need to question any and all authority figures, but also the insecurity that comes with being too young to be trusted to make all your decisions by yourself but also old enough to be expected to begin to do so. I can think of quite a few 20-somethings who can relate. She is stubborn to a fault but she is also deeply compassionate. She longs for independence but at the same time freely acknowledges that she needs the guidance of those more experienced than her when faced with an unfamiliar situation.

Really, the only thing the film lacked in my opinion was a clear villain.  The Kakamora appeared early on and, to borrow Moana’s line, were “kinda Image result for moana characterscute”, so no way they’d be our Big Bad. I’ll give them that though. Not since the third Pirates of the Caribbean film have a seen a boat of such bizarre design.

 

 

Tamatoa was creepy (like keep everyone you cherish away from him-creepy), a legit threat towards both Maui and Moana and even got the movie’s villain song slot! He appears in the second act of the film and I half-expected him to show up during the climax too, but… I don’t know, maybe I’ve been Related imageconditioned to expect whoever sings the “It’s great being evil” tune in a Disney flick to show up for the climax.

 

 

Of course when the villain you actually build up throughout the story, Te Ka, looks like this, maybe they felt that two villains, the fate of the world (sort Image result for moana villainoff) and the characters’ own  baggage would make for a too crowded and maybe even overwhelming third act. I have some issues with classifying Te Ka as the main villain, mainly due to how the conflict is ultimately resolved, but in terms of being a fiery demon of death and destruction…. Boy, did the animation department deliver!

 

 

I don’t have much else to say other than, go watch. Drag the kids along if you have any laying around. Like all good Disney movies this is one for the entire family!

 

P.S. Oh! And did I mention how much I ADORE the realistic hair?