My Romantic Movie Night

Just got done watching Garden of Words.  The animation in that film is absolutely stunning.  It is a visual masterpiece.  Thought about doing a review of it, but I figured that I haven’t written anything of substance on this page in a while.  Honestly haven’t had much that inspires me to write about.  I could write about Trump’s latest idiocy, but that’s done by the entire fucking media.  To be fair, he doesn’t make it hard.  How are people saying that America didn’t elect its first female President?  Sure looks that way to me.  We elected an oversized teenage girl into the Presidency.  The glass ceiling has been broken!

But back to the film, it may have been a visual masterpiece, but I kind of hate it.  Hear me out – it all comes down to the ending.  There’s no resolution!  You have this scene where the underage kid reveals to the woman who he has bonded with when he finally figures out who she is that he’s in love with her.  She totally shoots him down.  It’s a harsh scene.  I felt so hard for that kid.  Throwing your heart out and then getting it thrown in your face is hard.  Then the adult woman who he admitted his feelings for realizes that she has feelings for him too and goes after the kid.  It’s a truly fantastic scene when they meet and the kid is all sad and angry and rails on her, only for her to run into his arms.  I love that scene.  It’s some truly amazing payoff and the voice acting is phenomenal.  It’s a testament to the people who made it.

Then she leaves!  The two are apart and that’s it.  Come on!  Now, I get that this would be a little weird, considering the fact that she’s 27 years old and he’s 15.  But better films have made this work.  Why have her leave?  Maybe have the two admitting how they feel but also acknowledging that they can’t be together because of the age gap and have them realizing that they will have to wait a little bit.  That’s an acknowledgement of reality while still having them looking to keep their feelings alive.  It would have been much more fulfilling if the film ended with her finding a life close to the person she loves, and having him giving her the shoes he had been making the whole film to her at the end.  Like a kind of promise.  Wouldn’t that have been more fulfilling?

See, here’s the thing about me – I’m a hardcore closet romantic.  When I watch FLCL, I feel a genuine tinge for the kid when he is falling for an older woman.  It’s funny, American media bitches about how the idea of a younger man dating an older woman is so frowned upon.  Japan certainly doesn’t shy away from an age difference with boys and women.  What’s more, they also make it respectable.  Sure, there is plenty of fan service for busty older women that young horny boys are into, but in both Garden of Words and FLCL, they play it as these women being genuine people with the boys discovering their romantic identity with them.  In both cases, it makes for some great scenes.  But while FLCL played it off that the kid falling for the older girl was a metaphor for him growing up and accepting who he is, Garden of Words played the romantic angle straight.  Which makes it that much more frustrating when the film ends on a sour note for no good fucking reason.

I really am bad about it.  When I watch the scene in Stein’s Gate when Christina and Okarin admit their feelings for each other, I judge that scene harshly as well.  It’s a great scene, but it could have been better.  For starters, the music in there is terrible.  It’s distractingly bad.  The scene would have been better served if there was no music at all.  Would have added to the emotional gravity as well, considering the fact that Okarin was about to let the woman he just admitted that he loves die.  Genuinely would have loved that scene more.  Also, get rid of the narration by Christina.  It added nothing.  Just quiet.  Have the rain be the biggest sound, with a few seconds for the audience to take in the cruel irony of what was happening with these two characters.

Anytime I see romantic scenes in stuff I like, I typically get all butterflies, while secretly seeing ways the scene could be better and really make me all warm and buttery about it.  Am I the only one?  No joke, someone in the comments, tell me if I am fucking crazy here.  So many great romantic scenes in movies are ruined because of bad details.  Used a lot of anime references.  What can I say, they tend to play romance a lot better than sappy love stories in American cinema.  That’s not to say that it isn’t done well in other mediums.  In the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel genuine heartbreak as Adele is first introduced to the truth about her sexuality with a classmate, only for her feelings to be totally crushed when she realizes it was just a one-off thing and not a sign of true attraction.  The tears on her face seemed genuine.

I guess it’s a sign of me getting older.  As the years on my birthday cake grow, and my time having been single grows, I feel more and more of it.  But no one who sees me in person will know that.  My cynicism is well-known to those who speak to me.  Groj knows, I’ve made no secret of it here.  Deep down, though, there is that part of me that secretly longs to have that moment where I meet a girl at a place I regularly go and then strike up a conversation and something grows between us.  A man can dream, right?  Granted, everyone goes to bars to meet people these days.  I go to bookstores and walks around my home.  Not a lot of places for romance.  But hey, it can happen, right?

What about all of you?  What romantic scenes from stuff (I swear, if someone says The Notebook I’m gonna virtually smack you.  That movie is fucking terrible) have made you all warm and buttery inside?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I love you.  I can’t help it.  Yukino, I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” – Takao Akizuki, The Garden of Words

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s First Take: The New Mutants Official Trailer

Twentieth Century Fox has really shown that they are willing to take insane risks with their properties.  First it was with Deadpool, then it was with Logan.  The first was a very light-hearted and violent film that never went too hard-R.  The second was a grisly and very grim film that went insanely hard-R and didn’t shy back from the violence.  I really like that.  This new film has decided to take another strange turn, into an avenue that I honestly never saw a Marvel film taking before now, and I am so desperately hoping it is financially successful, so other films can learn from this example.  Now they are going straight-up horror.  I find this fascinating.  There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get into it.

We begin by seeing shots of a dark establishment.  There are lots of gravestones with code numbers that are very reminiscent of the ones the kids had in Logan.  We have “We Don’t Need No Education” playing in the background.  Is the idea that this place is a school?  An odd choice, but I’ll go with it.  There is a woman grilling a small child, asking if she has ever noticed strange things happening.  Then the question comes up – have you ever heard of mutants?

This leads me into wondering where in the timeline this film takes place.  Part of me figures that it takes place in the same universe and timeline as Logan.  It fits.  After all, how else would you explain the fact that no one seems to know what a mutant is?  Society has forgotten about them.  They’ve been dead for a generation and now we have new mutants coming along.  Lots of cool implications there.

It cuts to the doctor talking to a new kid about the fact that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adults because they can have more deadly bites.  Interesting.  A metaphor for the fact that children are more dangerous than adults?  Neat thought process there.  Get to meet a couple more mutants, including a blonde girl.  The doctor says that these children are dangerous, which leads to one of the kids hearing noises come from a washing machine.  The kid gets closer, until a hand slams onto the door and flames come out.  Okay.  Lots of questions.  Why was that kid in there?  Why are flames coming out?  This is weird.

Then it gets to the montage of stuff, and this is where it got my attention.  The aforementioned doctor is all cut up.  Okay.  One of the mutant kids has blood on her finger and then faces start meshing through the walls.  Interesting.  A kid describes this place as not a hospital, but a haunted house.  That line is kind of dumb, but at least it informs the idea that this place is painted as a place of healing, even though it’s much more likely that it’s some kind of Weapon X type facility.  There’s someone in a weird mask.  Horror movie trope #1,000,000.

We see more and more chaos surrounding these mutants.  What interests me is the idea that if it’s the kids themselves or something outside them.  So maybe this film takes place before any of the mutants from other films are discovered?  Like, these are some of the originals and now we’re seeing the chaos they are able to cause because no one knows how to stop it?  Lots of interesting questions here.

Here’s the thing – a comic book themed horror film is a fantastic idea.  That’s what Ghost Rider should have been.  I genuinely believe this idea could work.  The thing is that this trailer doesn’t tell us much.  Especially if the film wants to go hard-R.  Please tell me it does!  You know what this film needs – a Red Band trailer.  We need to know if it’s going as twisted and dark as its predecessors have.  Please tell me does.  Please let this be a film that takes all the balls 20th Century Fox has gotten with their darker superhero films and runs with it.

But my worry is that because this film doesn’t have the name recognition that Deadpool or Logan did that people will ignore it.  They’re releasing this in April.  What a random time.  I for one mean to see it.  I need to know.  Hopefully all of you do too.  Let’s not let a potentially interesting idea languish on the vine.

Initial Verdict
Intriguing

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

What a weird year for Marvel films.  Everyone says that they’re getting tired of all the Marvel films, because they’re so predictable and stale.  Part of me thinks that someone at Marvel heard that, and has been eager to change things up.  And wouldn’t you know it, but this year has delivered two very good films that may not have shaken the formula to its core, but at the very least have made things different enough to have people enjoying them more.  Nowhere was that more apparent than with the sequel to one of the funniest films in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy.  A film that not only had some surprisingly good character development, but a villain who actually caught me off guard.  Sure, the formula is there, but at least this film plays with it, and it actually feels like it is expanding on the lore of these characters, rather than just retreading old ground.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that sometime after the events of the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy are now for hire heroes that do nice things for pay.  Not a bad racket.  However, after Rocket decides to fuck things up for them because he can’t stop himself, Quill’s father comes back into the picture.  Backstories are explained, and characters’ true motivations are revealed.  A villain who actually has a motivation that isn’t just copy-paste comes up and now another battle is on to save the galaxy.  Like I said, it still has that formula, but it does it oh so well.

I’ve complained to no end how films are now basically just becoming endless CG bugs me, and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t the case here.  This film is ALL about the CG.  It’s fucking everywhere.  That being said, it was still pretty.  I think the director knew that everyone would be noticing the constant CG so he took a very interesting tactic – use brilliant colors as a way to offset people’s disdain for it.  That’s pretty clever!  The same thing was used to good effect in Doctor Strange, though this film also had color used for comedic effect at times.  Constant, vivid colors was all over this movie, and I’m genuinely glad it was because otherwise I would have been rolling my eyes a lot over how fake so much looked.

Which is one one of my flaws.  It’s pretty clear that while Baby Groot was cute as fuck, he was never in the shot and everyone who pretended to interact with him wasn’t really interacting with him.  That was painfully obvious.  Plus, yeah, some of the sets were so blatantly just people in a room with green-screen absolutely everywhere.  I’m honestly glad I am not one of these people who watches making-of videos of movies, because I bet watching people just being in green rooms acting is both depressing and funny.

The film also brings back it’s truly fantastic soundtrack.  I love the musical choices in these film.  How each track is used also perfect goes with every scene that it goes into.  The opening is the most known and parodied, but there is a ton of places that each track is used well.  This director knows his stuff oh so well.

Speaking of, the comedy in this film is so on point.  It’s kind of nice to see a film where all the heroes are pretty much anti-heroes pretending to not be.  These people are such assholes!  I love it!  Every single character in this film is kind of a douche, but the chemistry between all of them is just fantastic.  My favorite is still Rocket.  This guy is such a dick.  He is the biggest anti-hero of them all, but the way he plays with that just makes him so lovable.  Maybe it’s that inner asshole in me who can’t get enough of it.  Hell, even Drax is funnier in this film.  His complete lack of a filter is just too perfect.  Plus, he said one of the most cathartic lines to me on a personal level.

“When you’re ugly, people love you for who you are. When you’re beautiful, you don’t know who to trust.”

For someone who struggles with body image issues due to balding that isn’t especially pretty, this strikes such a chord to me.  My self-loathing is a constant struggle.

Overall, this isn’t a perfect movie.  Yeah, the formula is still there.  But it still feels like a breath of fresh air.  I’m glad I got to see this on Netflix.  A good Spider-Man film and now a good sequel to a flawed original that takes it to the next level.  With the MCU looking to wrap up now that Infinity War is coming, I genuinely think I’ll be able to look back fondly on it.  Marvel caught lightning in a bottle, which DC is now pathetically trying to imitate.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

You Don’t Understand Blade Runner (A response to Anita Sarkeesian)

I never thought I’d be talking about this bitch ever again.  After she left video games, I figured she’d just disappear into some abstract corner of the Internet and I wouldn’t ever have to deal with her stupid views on topics that she clearly knows fuck-all about ever again.  But then The Drunken Peasants podcast subjected me to her latest video, where she decides to go after one of my favorite films, with her pathetic, paltry, pseudo-intellectual bullshit that shows that her ability to critically analyze themes in films has all the depth and size of a puddle in the parking lot of my apartment building.  Ugh!  I’ll have the video here, so you can see I’m not taking anything out of context.  Let’s talk about it.

She begins with saying that according to the original Blade Runner, the future is going to be racist, have flying cars, but oh boy, noodle shops!  Yeah, because that is TOTALLY what the ethnicity of Blade Runner was about.  You know, like how the lower world is a very ethnically diverse place, while the upper world is very white.  Huh, it’s not like that was a deliberate design choice that Ridley Scott made in order to symbolize the power gap over the time period the film was made.  Nope, not at all!  This woman can’t analyze anything in a way outside of her feminist lens that tells her that everything is bad unless it caters to views that, if we learned anything from her analysis of video games, are clearly contradictory.

After her TERRIBLE intro, she says that all the fans of the original film get to rejoice at the idea of a sequel.  Did she not follow the unveiling of that at all?  This sequel is being met with VERY fierce skepticism by the science-fiction community, as it should.  Hollywood has shown that they are bad at doing sequels and now Blade Runner is on the block.  Granted, they got the director of my favorite film of 2016, Arrival, to do this, and he has the cinematographer he had making Incendes and Sicario, the latter of which is one of my favorite films.  That does leave me feeling hopeful, but let’s hear more about what Anita has to say about this great science fiction cinema landmark.

Now we get to her “burning questions” Blade Runner introduced.  Like “shouldn’t there be more Latinx people in Los Angeles.”  Okay, stop.  Can we PLEASE stop using the term “latinx?”  It sounds like you’re talking about Kleenex, for one.  For another, there was a surprisingly good point brought up on The Drunken Peasants.  See, here’s the thing about Latino and Latina – in old romantic languages based off Latin, words are made to have different genders assigned to words depending on who is speaking and who or what is being spoken about.  It’s part of those languages’ cultural heritage.  Now we have some fucking white people coming in and saying “no!  You can’t have these distinguishing features because that’s not inclusive enough!”  Aren’t you the ones who stress out your fucking ass that we need to have respect for other cultures?  Sure doesn’t seem like you respect their language.  Maybe you need to check your privilege, white bitch.

After going on for a while, it’s pretty clear where this entire video is going – sex robots are bad and promote sexism.  Funny, I just saw an article where it talked about how women are going to replace men with sex robots in the future and didn’t paint that as a bad thing.  Funny how it’s only wrong when men do it.  Groj, I just wish she’d come out and say she’s a man-hater.  Can you please, Anita?  It’s so obvious where this video is going, and you even say that we’re about to be approaching a future in Blade Runner where biomechanical androids exist and men abuse them.  Unreal.  It’s funny, Anita makes fun of the men who have difficulty dating, whether it be to personality flaws, or to them being shy and scared of interacting with people, and mocks them for it.  How many socially awkward women who would seek a robot for companionship would she mock?  What a sexist harpy.  As with all modern feminists – it’s only sexist when men do it.

She then makes the argument that the film has good ideas, but it looks at them from the perspective of white men.  Yeah, I guess that’s true, unless we want to ignore the ENTIRE FUCKING MOVIE!  For example, one of the most interesting elements of the lower world is the language of the city.  The police officer who originally takes Deckard in speaks it.  It’s an amalgamation of all the languages spoken on the lower level.  Roy Batty may be played by a white man, but look at what his role in the film is – a slave.  He is part of a slave race.  Skin color be damned, he’s part of a slave race and is desperate to stop his inevitable death.  Even when he gets to see the head of Tyrell Corporation, the conversation about his demise doesn’t go well and you have no idea if Tyrell told him the truth at all.  To say that this film focuses exclusively on the perspective of white men is fucking ignorant, and also denies all the perspectives of the film from all the various characters.  But hey, let’s simplify it down to the color of people’s skin.  Because that isn’t fucking racist at all.

We get to hear next how the two female replicants are a metaphor for modern day misogyny.  Wrong!  They are representations of the exploitation of women in subjugated classes.  There was a time when all women in this country were a lesser class.  Hard to argue that.  But the entire narrative of the replicants is that they are a species separate from us who are being subjugated by the humans who created them.  It’s a story about power relationships and how there will always be those in power using their power over those without.  These two female replicants are not some metaphor for the “patriarchy.”  They are part of a larger narrative of those in power destroying the lives of those without, and how when we are out of peoples to conquer, we shall create power dynamics to have.  Like I said, Anita’s ability to critically analyze things has all the depth of a fucking puddle.

Then she talks about the scene with Deckard and Rachel.  All it is in her mind is – he assaulted a woman.  Since she clearly can’t analyze this film, let’s inform the class of how stupid that perspective is.  The narrative of this film is that replicants are lesser than humans.  It’s the belief that our entire species has.  Deckard is a bit hard to follow because he seems to have at least some regard for the replicants and doesn’t want to continue killing them.  However, he is still part of a species that sees them as lesser and deserving of death (even if he is a replicant himself, which is left unclear for a very good reason).  Is the scene with these two very jarring and uncomfortable?  Yup.  Anita criticizing the music is her not being able to see that the music there was a deliberate choice to make the scene more uncomfortable.  Everything in the film is deliberate.  Deckard using his power over Rachel was a sign that he is at least partially just as brainwashed as the rest of society and chose to exercise his power over someone who couldn’t fight back because she had nowhere else to go.  It does make him look like a bit of a bad guy, but the thing is – that was deliberate.  It was meant to tell the audience that even a character who you are supposed to root for is still human and subject to the same forces the rest of us are.  I hate Anita so much.  She is shitting all over a movie I love because it’s pretty fucking clear she doesn’t understand it.

One thing Anita says that just blows my mind – the film isn’t about the women.  No shit, moron!  It’s about the replicants!  It’s about members of a subservient race who are being hunted by a society that says that they aren’t allowed on Earth, on pain of death!  I just love how this imbecile has made it out to be like these three female characters don’t matter to the script at all.  Does this bimbo have any awareness of how themes work?  Any idea how to critically analyze media?  Of course not.  Her Master’s thesis basically sucked the cock of everything Joss Whedon has ever made, back in the day.  He isn’t exactly writing Shakespeare.

We also have some other white person who can’t critically analyze issues of race, either.  Race doesn’t enter at all into the film?  No, because the fact that the lower world is very ethnically diverse and poor, while the upper world is very white and wealthy isn’t a look into racial ideas at all!  Ugh!  Background texture?!  It’s one of the central themes at play, you fucking moron!  Roy and the replicants have to hide in the lower world because they are also part of a lesser class.  Except in the film they are even lesser than the oppressed classes of the lower world.  That’s the fucking point!  Rachel is part of the upper world until she realizes that she is a replicant.  After which she has to go down to the lower world because now she is lesser.  Do you not get anything to do with this movie?!  How did that escape your notice, oh wonderful feminist one?  Aren’t you the idiot who says that your research is “double and triple-checked”?!  Clearly not because I’m not some film school graduate and even I can pick up on this!

This was stupid.  It’s nice to see that her analysis of movies is just as shitty as it was about video games.  I hate this woman and her videos.  Please stop shitting on one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” – Roy Batty, Blade Runner

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: I Hate Star Wars (Blame the fans)

There’s this new supervisor at my job.  I kind of love this guy.  Unlike my immediate supervisor, who I am almost-certain is not a fan of my hatred of my job and my hatred of our clients, the latter of which I go to NO effort to hide, until I am on the phone.  Then there isn’t a single client who doesn’t think I want to help them with their problems.  My professionalism is perfect.  Flawless.  To date, I have gotten people who only hear me on the phone to believe that I love my job and love to help people.  Even the biggest assholes who call up just to be cock-suckers, I treat them with the same level of professional courtesy.  But once I hang up that phone, there’s a lyric from a song that I have going in my head for virtually every client –

Please end your fucking life.  Please end your fucking life.  I really have to emphasize, no one cares if you’re alive.

For anyone who wants to call in to child support, if you are one of the nice people, keep in mind that when I think that way, it’s because of the ten assholes who called before you.  Don’t take it personally.  Unless you are one of the assholes.  In which case, see the lyrics I presented previously.

But our new supervisor is a swell guy.  He takes my negativity and makes it into a jab at my own expense.  I dig it.  Though I can tell that he only has so much he can take.  He doesn’t understand that I don’t feel joy.  At all.  Happiness is a fleeting thing in my world because of brain damage.  I don’t feel positive emotions the same way he does.  But the guy is trying to get it.  I’ll give credit where it’s due.

Something about him – he hates Star Wars.  Something that annoys the immediate supervisor to no end, since she is in love with it, or a gay coworker who shares my given first name since he is the same.  The conversations about this film series really got me to thinking.  Here’s the thing – I hated Episode VII and Rogue One.  The first was a second-rate remake of the original film, except with a chick, and the other was a boring retelling of a story where we know how it would end before it got started.  I see the previews for Episode VIII and I’m like – who cares?  Why should I care?  It’s just gonna be a remake of Empire Strikes Back.  Disney is saying that this film will be different and it will take chances *cough*bullshit!*cough*

I just can’t bring myself to care.  Hell, I’m never gonna Netflix it.  Why would I?  I’m just so done with this franchise.  And the people I blame for this are the fans.  When Episode VII premiered, I got to watch a YouTube I respected start crying.  Fucking crying!  Over a movie that is almost entirely ripped off with some fan service thrown in just so they could say “look!  This is just like those other movies!  You all liked them, right?!  Yeah, I did.  I still do, at least a little.  But this franchise has become a complete clusterfuck, with all the fans singing praises for these new movies.  Why?  Because the most common argument I hear is – but they’re so much better than the prequels!

Sure, they are.  But here’s the thing – the prequel trilogy was a dumpster fire.  There are a TON of films better than those.  It’s hard to be much worse.  Why would I heap on praises for the new films just because they are better than films that are on par with the Transformers sequels?  I could say that the original Transformers film is better than the prequels, and that is a true statement.  But does that make it a good film?  Not really.  It’s generic popcorn cinema, but that’s it.  Funny, that’s the term I’d use to describe Episode VII – generic popcorn cinema.  However, because it’s Star Wars, it’s just amazing!  Yeah, look at that retarded lightsaber that Kylo Ren uses!  Or hey, look at the this villain who is a petulant man-baby!  That sure is neat.  Oh, and we have a chick protagonist now!  She sure is an interesting character, what with her nullodramatic acting and stoic personality that is as interesting as American cheese.  Oh, but there’s the Millenium Falcon!  That’s cool, right?  What’s that?  It’s blatant fan service just to get the nerds to cum in their britches?  Okay.

If only the fans were objective about it.  Episode VII and Rogue One are average films that are just fine if you are one of those people who can turn your brain off and watch the pretty lights and shit blow up.  If you actually want engaging science fiction, they are the last thing.  Makes sense with Episode VII.  J.J. Abrams can’t direct anything other than popcorn entertainment.  But no!  They’re masterpieces of cinema!  They are ripping off the fucking plot of better movies wholesale!  I mean, they’re better than the prequels!  That counts for something, right?

Wrong!  Not in my eyes.  They’re generic, boring, cookie-cutter films.  If Disney were intellectually capable of making something that wasn’t a cookie-cutter film, what a wonderful world it would be.  But then people might get mad because it doesn’t appeal to the largest audience possible.  Say what you will about the original films, at least they knew they were going to appeal to a niche.  But since we live in an age where fucking hipsters drown us all in nostalgia praise, everyone has to love this new film because it does the same goddamn thing as the originals do.  Because who cares about originality?  The millennials have turned their brains off enough as it is.

So yeah, I hate this franchise now, and you can blame the fucking fans.  Meanwhile, great ideas like 1313 died because Disney can’t have a project that isn’t kid-friendly.  That would hurt their precious fucking image.  Groj forbid that people actually want something new and unique.

Until next time, a quote,

“When change does not happen and bread and butter issues tackled – people become cynical and disillusioned.” – Tony Leon

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Death Note (2017)

Fuck this movie.  Fuck this fucking movie right up its ass.  This is the worst.  The absolute worst.  How terrible the live-action Japanese versions were should have been a big clue as to why this film wasn’t going to work.  The insanely over-the-top nature of the anime does NOT translate well into film.  So when you combine that with TERRIBLE American writers and a director who clearly has no talent for directing, then you end up with this pile of shit.  Yet-another anime adaptation to add to the pile.  Can whoever posed the idea of Akira being adapted into American take a fucking clue from this?!  They’re all bad!  Every last American adaptation has sucked, without a SINGLE exception.  Just like every video game adaptation has sucked.  When will Hollywood learn?  Wait, this wasn’t Hollywood’s fuck-up.  This was Netflix’s fuck-up.  I don’t have streaming here, but a friend invited me over to see it, and holy shit, it’s bad.  I hate when things I love get turned into shitty adaptations, and this was no exception.  There is so much to talk about, so let’s get to it.

The plot goes that Light…Turner (fuck that name) has the Death Note given to him by Ryuk.  That’s right, instead of Ryuk being bored one day in Shinigami Land and sending the book to Earth not caring who picked it up, in this version he gives it to Light and implies that he is the chosen one.  One of the many ways they fuck over EVERY SINGLE character in this film.  But instead of seeing this book as a way for him to create a world dedicated to his own personal sense of justice and becoming a genocidal monster in the process, Light decides that he’s going to impress a girl!  That’s right, instead of his character being a genius whose sense of morality becomes a twisted nightmare, he’s a pathetic high school loser who wants it is implied is just being used.  More on that later.  Then we get a dumbed-down version of L who is going to stop him.  Who wins?  Do you care?  If you do, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Nothing in this movie is good, aside from Willem Dafoe’s voicework as Ryuk.  Speaking of, let’s go into how every single character is fucked over.  So many people are going to say “it’s an adaptation!  You shouldn’t compare it to the original!”  Yeah?  Well then change the fucking name!  Light is turned from a genius who decides he is going to become a God under the assumed name of Kira into a pathetic angst-y teenager who is almost-certainly being led around with no agency of his own.  Whether it be Mia (their terrible version of Misa), or Ryuk, he always seems to be on someone else’s leash.  Did the idiot who directed this even see the anime?  Fuck this movie.  Light is not some brilliant mastermind.  In the anime, he is a calculating genius, who makes every move according to a plot to best the greatest detective of all time.  Every relationship in his life is part of a calculation, along with everything he ever does.  Part of what makes him so compelling as a character is how his urge to become a god ends up destroying the lives of every single person he touches, and he by the end he laughs his ass off about it.  In the film, he’s a pathetic pawn being used by pretty much everyone around him.  All of the brilliance of the cat-and-mouse game between him and L is gone.

Oh, let’s talk about L.  Do I care that they made him black?  Not even a little.  What I care about is the fact that they made him so pathetic.  I guess the director saw how he is in the anime and took that to mean that he isn’t socially awkward in the extreme and on the autism spectrum.  In this film, they decide to him him so pathetic that he has to have a song played to him to fall asleep.  This version of the character is pathetic.  That’s the only word for it.  You never sense this genius mind clouding a sense of detachment, which makes him believing that he is making a connection with Light so tragic.  He believed he had found a friend, and at the very end he realizes that he was just being used by Light.  In his last moment, he looks into Light’s eyes and sees that it was all a lie, and him and his companion died for it.  There are plenty of ways this character could have been 1000X better and been black.  The color of his skin had NOTHING to do with how pathetic and stupid this character was.  If anything, this actor is very competent.  I bet with better writing, he could have sold this a lot better.

Then there’s Mia.  A spin on the Misa character from the anime, here they make her out to be something of a force acting on Light, compelling him to do bad things with the Death Note.  Because we can’t have any of the morally gray stuff from the anime.  Everything has to be clearly black and white.  Fuck this movie.  The fact that so much of what initially makes Light use the Death Note is to please her just irks me.  In the anime, she was an insane groupie of Kira.  She was in love with him and would do anything, absolutely anything to please him.  To the point that she cut her own lifespan in half to get the Shinigami eyes.  But in the end, she realizes that she was used, just like everyone else, and it’s implied that she kills herself.  Another of those relationships that were nothing but a tool to Light and nothing more.  Can’t have that morally gray stuff in the film.  Doesn’t help that this chick acted like she should be in a sitcom.  Ugh.

Let’s talk about Ryuk.  Do you like Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin voice?  Well, he does okay with it here, so you can enjoy his vocal performance.  But here’s what pisses me off – in the anime, Ryuk isn’t on Light’s side.  He isn’t on anyone’s side.  When Light’s gambit is up, and he reaches out to Ryuk to help him, he outright says that he won’t.  Early on in the series, he helps Light out, not out of a sense of loyalty, but because he finds the game that’s going on interesting and realizes that if he doesn’t tell Light about the security cameras in his room, the game will end abruptly.  In the film, he’s painted as seeing Light as the chosen killer, and even compels him to do things.  Once-again, you can’t have all that morally gray stuff about Light seeing himself as a god and believing his genocidal rampage as a way to express that.  That might make audiences question who is the good guy.  We gotta see our protagonist as virtuous at all times.

Oh, and then there’s the book itself.  In the anime, Kira’s chosen method of killing is heart attacks.  There’s a reason – to show that these people are being killed and it’s him doing the killing.  It’s a way to spread the fear all over the world because no one knows who would be killed next.  In the movie, the vast majority of deaths are done through these Rube Goldberg machine ways of dying that REALLY make me think back to the Final Destination ways of dying.  It’s like the film wanted to show off the gore.  Funny, they want to have violent deaths, but no moral ambiguity.  The exact opposite of the show, which had very contained deaths, but a TON of moral ambiguity.  I guess someone assumed American audiences can’t handle that.  Fuck this movie.

As a fan of the anime, this film spits in the face of everything that made it great.  But let’s take that away.  Let’s pretend that the anime that this director halfheartedly riffed on never existed.  This film still sucks.  The performances are boring.  The motivations make no sense.  I’ll give that Light in the anime went from zero to Little Hitler in the span of a few moments.  But the series took the time to explain why he had this viewpoint.  Plus, there was the moral ambiguity of the battle between Light and L, where the body count gets higher and higher, and the audience is left wondering if either one is a truly good person.  In this film, the motivation is that Light is being manipulated by the people around him, with little agency of his own.  That’s boring!  Give me a reason to care why he’s so evil.  L is also a bad character, written to be so incapable of surviving on his own that he has to be taken care of.

I hate this movie, and can someone please make a note somewhere that American adaptation of anime don’t work so we can stop it, already?!

Final Verdict
2 out 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Shin Godzilla

What a fascinating film I just watched.  I love me some old Godzilla movies.  The effects are so bad, but the kaiju fighting is just too much fun.  Plus, watching them dubbed adds an extra layer of cheese that cannot be compared.  I didn’t really like the new Godzilla movie that America made, partly because there was so little of the actual monsters.  A similar criticism could easily be leveled at this movie, but I won’t.  Why?  Because this film just took the most fascinating approach.  There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this film is just focused exclusively around Godzilla.  No other kaiju to fight.  This movie has our titular monster as the big bad, which again sounds like it would be boring, but this movie just so odd.  It tells the story of a new Godzilla in a world where he never existed, now coming for Japan (what is his beef with that place?  What the fuck did they do to him?) and the Japanese government desperately trying to save their country from destruction.

This film is perhaps the most political movie I’ve seen in years.  It’s weird.  95% of this movie is spent with characters just talking.  There is so much talk about Japanese politics that you almost forget that you’re watching a Godzilla film for a while.  I wanna hate that, but I don’t.  Getting to see this Japanese government and some genuinely-likeable characters desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of an international threat that is looking to take excessive measures to stop Godzilla is genuinely touching.  The head of a special department who is trying to figure out a way to stop Godzilla specifically is my favorite.  You genuinely get the feeling that he is invested in this effort to save his country.

Since the entirety of the movie revolves around the political sphere, if you hate listening to people talk about politics for almost the entirety of the 2 hour runtime of this film, you’re gonna hate it.  That’s the big and small of it.  Even when you see things happening in service to the plot of the film, they always find a way to bring it back to the the government’s efforts and how international pressure comes into play.  It’s actually kinda smart.  You genuinely feel for these people who are stuck in a world where they have red tape and public to worry about.  I like this perspective.  In the American film, it was all about a small section of military characters, none of whom were particularly interesting.  This movie has a kind of authenticity because they keep it focused on Japan and make the outside world as not evil, but disconnected.  You can take all this for what you will.

That being said, this film has a LOT of elements that are silly to the point of ridiculousness.  Since there are a lot of American characters in this movie, you get some genuinely funny Engrish.  This female character who is the American liaison to Japan is my favorite.  It’s clear that she’s a Japanese actress and English is NOT her first language.  But believe it or not, they get real American actors to play American parts.  The problem is that the writing for these actors is clearly done by somebody where English is their first language.  So the dialogue is so fucking stilted.  It’s kind great.  Oh boy.

Speaking of ridiculous things, let’s talk about the effects in this movie.  In the old films, it’s clearly someone in a suit.  This time they decided to trade in the suit for CG, and it’s…terrible.  I love it.  When you first see Godzilla in his original form, it looks so bad that I was laughing my ass off.  The eyes especially.  That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  Maybe that’s why they worked so hard to keep the focus off him.  Because too much time with the monster and we would have been laughing our asses off.

But it isn’t devoid of cool effects.  There is one scene that just blows me away.  It’s when they finally do real damage to the monster, and he loses his cool.  What follows may not be amazing, but is done with so much finesse and really good musical cues that you feel how desperate the situation is.

One thing I do wanna point out is a track used in this film.  When I first heard it, I laughed my ass off.  It’s so clearly robbed from Evangelion.  I mean, to the point of shameless.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I know that FUNimation is at least partly licensed in the production of this film, I’d be amazed that they haven’t sued the living shit out of this studio.  It’s so obviously the track from Evangelion.  They do change it just a little bit later in the film, but it’s not enough to make me think it’s anything else.

I also wanna talk about this film’s weird habit of suddenly taking strange angle shots right the fuck out of nowhere!  I mean nowhere!  They’ll suddenly have a shot from the weirdest angle and then cut away.  Whoever was behind that decision, I want to know why.  These shots just come and go in a split-second, and serve no purpose in any scene they are in.

Overall, I’m not sure how to rate this film.  There are a TON of flaws that one could easily nit-pick to death.  But, I had fun watching it.  This is a genuinely entertaining movie, for me.  Maybe it’s because I liked these characters, and the politics they were talking about was genuinely interesting.  I don’t know.  But your mileage with this movie will vary.  So glad I watched it with subtitles.  If I had had to suffer the dub, I know I wouldn’t have been able to take ANY of it seriously.  The genuine strength of the performances comes out only in original Japanese.  This review may not make much sense to you, but this is the best I can talk about it.  Do with my review what you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick