Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lost in the Stars

What's the longest a movie has made you angry?

We've all got movies we hate--"A Life Less Ordinary," "Lucy," "Justice League." But I'm talking about the kind of anger that makes you stew, that invades your thoughts during peaceful moments.

The best I can come up with is "Sphere," Barry Levinson's turgid and senseless adaptation of the Michael Crichton sci-fi thriller I read and endlessly re-read as a 12-year-old. Months after eagerly seeing it in the theater, it still had me fuming.

But that's nothing compared to the rage a large number of gentlemen are still nurturing online towards "The Last Jedi," the eight official Star Wars installment which was released a full seven months ago. The frothing wrath about every related to the movie--the treatment of Luke, the female military command, the hostile takeover of the franchise by the dreaded SJWs--has become such a constant presence on every social media platform, star Kelly Marie Tran had to leave Instagram due to the vitriol.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Questions I Have About "Jurassic World"

Did the Indominus Rex always plan on escaping?

You'd think so, but then why did it take the time to eat one of the workers, while still inside its cage? (Remember, part of his plan to lure them into the cage was to forego food.) Was it just curious what humans tasted like?

Why was Owen training the raptors before Vincent D'Onofrio's military contractor shows up?

What was the point?

On what planet does training raptors to be soldiers make any damn sense?

In this age of the highly trained and well-equipped super-soldier, lizard brains are going to win the next war?

How is it possible that the Indominus gained the ability to camouflage from cuttlefish DNA and to regulate its heat from tree frog DNA?

I get that this is playing off of the business in "Jurassic Park" about the dinos being able to switch genders from their frog DNA--but that was presented as a weird biological fluke. Now this animal is somehow selecting advantageous traits from the entire genome of its contributors. Do you realize how large and complex DNA is, how unlikely it would be that the Indominus would just happen to get those characteristics? Twice?

Why does Dr. Wu say "you cannot have an animal with exaggerated predator features without the corresponding behavioral traits?"

It's sounds scientific and logical, but falls apart after a moment's thought. You're telling me these genetic wizards couldn't design a fearsome-looking lizard that just chills? Isn't that kind of what we did with the dog?

Why does Gray say they need "more teeth?" He wasn't around to hear Henry Wu use that phrase to describe the order to design the Indominus.

It's not like it's a normal way to say "more dinosaurs."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

In Defense of the Jurassic Park Franchise's Most Reviled Entry

Jurassic Park III contains two talking dinosaurs.

The first is a velociraptor which Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) dreams is in a plane with him, as it approaches Isla Sorna, an island filled with very real and (as far as we know) mute raptors.

The second is Barney, of Barney & Friends, who appears on a TV screen and briefly distracts Ellie Sattler's (Laura Dern) 2-year-old son while he receives a desperate call for help from Grant, now stranded on Sorna.

For most viewers, one talking dinosaur was enough--two was unbearable. The Raptor On a Plane scene is mostly remembered as the self-parodying nadir of the once-mighty franchise which began with a movie that seemed like the Citizen Kane of summer blockbusters.

Well--everyone's wrong.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Confounding Conundrum of the Condiment King!

Batman's silliest villain has a surprisingly interesting story.


Of all the throwaway side characters in "The Lego Batman Movie," he was A One to remember.

The Condiment King makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance--complete with ketchup and mustard guns that make a loud "splurt" sound--in "The Lego Batman Movie," as one of the Joker's minions.

It's a funny moment on its own, and it's even funnier for the Batman fans who know that this pest-o is an actual villain from the DC canon. At the time, I remember thinking it was a rare joke-on-a-joke that worked.

But the Condiment King is no mere joke-on-a-joke. The "Sultan of Sauce" is more like jokes cubed on jokes cubed, an intricate and seemingly infinite Russian nesting doll of knowing, self-referential winks, each layer gently elbowing those before and after it.

And when the jokes are all put together, the story of the "Prince of Pickles" forms an arc with an unexpected (and likely unintentional) air of tragedy--which is maybe the greatest joke of them all.

It turns out the Condiment King explains quite a bit about Gotham.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Universal Deconstruction

"Justice League," released last year, still doesn't seem to have the proper respect from either critics or audiences. I think this is because there is a fundamental misunderstanding of how it builds the DC Extended Universe mythology.

Therefore, I've decided to put together this Justice League/DCEU FAQ, which I hope is helpful.

So what's the deal with the Flash? How did he get his powers?

He was struck by lightning, and this gave him the ability to create a "layer of dimensional reality that seems to manipulate space-time." At least, that's the "abridged version." (These are real lines from the movie.)

Um, OK. And the suit? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman Fallen

Has The World's Most Popular Superhero Become Obsolete?


Let's get this first out of the way: "Batman v. Superman" isn't as bad as you've heard.

I mean, everything you've heard about it is true. But you might find yourself enjoying it, moderately, in parts, like I did, after you've thrown out the convoluted plot like a gnarled wad of Christmas lights.

Director Zack Snyder's nihilistic tone has earned him legions of enemies eager to feast at his corpse--but at least that's something for the moviegoer to hold onto, a distinction from Hollywood blandness. It leaves a sour aftertaste, though. No more so than with what appears to be the titular character, Batman.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Case for "Revenge of the Sith"

If you're not with me, then you're my enemy!

That paraphrased George W. Bush quote, inserted towards the end of "Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith," could sum up the feelings most Warsians have on the prequels as a whole. Having decided that those seven-some hours of cinema were most definitely not with them or their love of Star Wars, they've declared them to be a mortal enemy.

But, as Obi-Wan retorts, only the Sith deal in absolutes. And as we are not Sith, it is time we abandon wholesale judgement of the entire trilogy without nuance. It was, on the whole, a lifeless and frustrating saga. But it did have its moments and qualities--no more so than its final entry, "Revenge of the Sith."