owlmoose: (avengers - assemble)
I had been up in the air regarding whether I would see Spider-Man: Homecoming on opening weekend. Like many MCU fans, I've been resentful of Marvel's willingness to shoehorn the character into the franchise the second they got the rights back, especially in comparison to their mealy-mouthed excuses for not making a Black Widow film at the height of her popularity. Add in the annoyance at yet another white-dude-centric film and yet another Spider-Man reboot, and I was ready to put this film deep on the back burner. Maybe I'd see it later, like Ant-Man and Guardians; maybe I'd wait for video, like Doctor Strange.

But then. Despite his last-minute inclusion, Spidey was one of the best parts of Civil War. And then advance word came out that they weren't doing an origin story, and that they would follow up on Civil War's promise of Peter Parker as a legitimate awkward teenager. And then the early trailers were super-promising. Finally, the reviews started to come out so positively that T wanted to see it on opening weekend. So in the end I decided I couldn't say no. And you know what? I am really happy I did.

[twitter.com profile] kaytaylorrea put it perfectly in her early reactions: although the world doesn't need more white teenage boy coming of age stories, if we must have another Spider-man reboot, this was the best way to do it. Tom Holland may have just turned 21, but I 100% bought him as a geeky sophomore, torn between wanting to do normal teenager things and his desire to become a full-fledged Avenger, surrounded by other high schoolers trying to figure things out -- especially his best friend, Ned, who is a pure delight, and Zendaya, whose snarky, no-bullshit performance as Michelle made her a favorite character. Tony Stark's extended cameo adds just the right level of connection to the rest of the series without overwhelming the show. Adrian Toombs/Vulture as played by Michael Keaton is easily a top-5 MCU villain: complex, sometimes sympathetic, with realistic motivations, and genuinely threatening without feeling unbeatable. The third act fell apart somewhat, as third acts of superhero films often do, but the beginning grabbed me so, so hard that I can forgive its later flaws.

To talk about why requires some spoilers. So I'll put them behind a cut. )

I also appreciated watching a genuinely funny superhero movie that did not punch me in the face with gratuitous sexism and abusive relationships (I'm looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man), the comparatively diverse cast, and the hints of what might come in future installments. (Zendaya and Jacob Batalan (Ned) and Donald Glover had better be back, or I'll sit on Marvel's doorstep until they are.) And possibly the best post-credits scene in the history of post-credits scenes.

So: fun time, happy to have seen it. Happy that Marvel made it? I'm not sure I would go that far. But within the universe of choices that Marvel actually made (instead of the big picture choices I wish they'd made instead, I'm glad they went this particular direction.
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy hat)
Ever since this movie was announced, I've been both excited and afraid. Excited, because of course I was excited. Even though I'm not super familiar with the Wonder Woman mythos (probably my strongest exposure was from the 1970s and '80s Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon), and I don't have the deep connection with the character that many of my friends share, I'm well aware of her stature in the mainstream superhero canon and her importance as a feminist icon. But precisely because of her iconic nature, and also the habit of Hollywood to use the failure of high-profile superhero films with female leads as an excuse not to make more, there was an awful lot of pressure to get it right. Not to mention the way that Hollywood blockbusters tend to misunderstand and objectify female characters. There were good signs -- a female director, promising previews, Diana being hands-down the best part of last year's Batman vs. Superman -- but I didn't want to get my hopes too far up, especially given the lack of high-profile marketing in comparison to other DCEU films (although ScreenRant presents an interesting counter-argument).

Then the buzz from pre-release reviews started building. Between rapturous comments from people who'd gotten an early look at the film and the sky-high Rotten Tomatoes rating (96% pre-release, which made it the highest-rated superhero movie in RT history; it has since settled at 93%, which puts it just behind Iron Man and The Dark Knight), it was impossible not to get at least a little hopeful. I saw the film yesterday, with T and three friends, and I am thrilled to report that my hope was warranted. Wonder Woman is a solid movie, one of the best examples of the mainstream comic book superhero genre so far. I had fun watching it, I walked out of the theater happy, and even after a day of reflection, I can't find much to complain about. (Not nothing, of course; it was by no means a perfect movie. But it doesn't need to be a perfect movie. Its average rating on Rotten Tomatoes is around 7.5 out of 10, a respectable score for an action blockbuster, and that feels about right to me.)

Some non-spoilery thoughts: Gal Gadot was fabulous, perfectly cast as Diana, able to pull off all the emotional beats as well as the action and a number of fish-out-of-water moments (some funny, some poignant) that hit all the right notes. The rest of the cast were also great; I particularly liked Robin Wright as Amazon war leader Antiope (and how fantastic was it to see a middle-aged lady in such a strong action role?) and Lucy Davis as Steve Trevor's secretary, Etta Candy. Both of these roles were fairly small, but they stuck with me in a good way. Chris Pine was a fine Steve, too, acting alternately as Diana's support and as her foil as circumstances dictated. The action sequences, mostly set pieces that could have been lifted from any modern superhero film, did get a little draggy in places. The film's action was at its best when it focused on Diana: her strength, her agility, her determination, and the high-quality fight choreography that showcased all of these things. Apparently Gal Gadot undertook extensive martial arts training for this role, and it shows. Maybe more than anything, though, is that Wonder Woman is a superhero movie that takes a solid point of view: on the horrors of war, on the twin pillars of goodness and evil that are innate in humanity, on finding a reason to fight the darkness without and within. I also appreciate how little Diana was sexualized, and for the most part neither were the Amazons. Instead, they were presented as images of female agency and power. I suspect Patty Jenkins, the film's director, should take credit for this achievement. What a difference it makes, not to have a male gaze behind the camera's lens.

And now for some spoilers )

In conclusion, it was awesome. Not perfect, but what film is? And it shouldn't need to be perfect -- Hollywood should also have room for mediocre superhero movies featuring female leads, and it sucks that Wonder Woman needed to be twice as good to get half the buzz. That said, the opening weekend has been strong (at $100.5 million domestic and $200 million worldwide, it shattered the record for opening day take for a female director), and between the finances and the solid reviews, I have to expect that a sequel is on the horizon. And maybe now we can start getting all the other female heroes we ever wanted. Give me Black Widow, give me Ms. Marvel, give me Oracle, give me Storm. Give me all of them, good and bad and everywhere on the spectrum in between. You can do it, Hollywood. I have faith.
owlmoose: (hp - monsters)
We saw it. It was fun with some issues, very much on par with the first movie. If you liked the first movie, you will probably like this one. A few unexpected twists in the story, along with many predictable beats, but that's not really a bad thing in this case. I'd say it's the MCU film that feels the least connected to the main movie storyline, although it might tie in more later, depending on what happens in Thor 3 and the next Avengers movie.

The main thing that mars this otherwise lightweight film is a theme of abuse that runs throughout. The movie revolves around family, both found and birth, which is usually something I like, but many of the relationships are abusive in one way or another. It would be one thing if I thought the filmmakers had introduced the topic intentionally, in order to make a statement, but I suspect that it was mostly accidental. Ana of The Book Smugglers wrote an excellent article on the abusive way that Drax treats Mantis, and that's just one example. Cut for major spoilers. )

I have other concerns about the movie (Mantis as the subservient empath was maybe not the best choice for one of the very few Asian actresses in the MCU; Gamora as the joyless scold, a role too often reserved for the only woman on a team; Drax's literal mind and lack of tact being played for laughs, when it was often hurtful toward Mantis and others -- I had that issue with the first movie, too, and as a result Drax is one of my least favorite MCU characters), but I don't want my comments to come off as relentlessly negative. As I said above, I had fun at this movie, and I look forward to seeing more not just in this franchise, but to see it drawing stronger connections to the rest of the series. Most of the cast is fun and charming, and I was particularly glad to see Karen Gillan get much more to do than in the first film. I laughed a lot (even as I was sometimes cringing), and the vibe in the theater was good, and it definitely brought the feels. So I do recommend it (unless abusive parenting is a significant trigger for you; then maybe proceed with caution).
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
I wrote an overview of my year in reading and watching stuff for [community profile] ladybusiness. You can find it here. I also set some annual reading goals for the first time ever; we'll see how that goes.

Although you can likely infer some of my choices :) this is not a proper Hugo recommendation post. Look for one of those later this month, after I've got more short fiction under my belt. But considering this your reminder that 2017 Hugo nominations are now open!
owlmoose: (yahtzee - out of context)
Using the same template as last year.

Your main fandom of the year?
Gotta be Critical Role (see below).

Your favorite film watched this year?
The new Ghostbusters. Arrival was objectively a better movie, and I have more fannish attachment to Civil War, but no other movie was quite as much fun.

Your favorite book read this year?
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan, the fourth book in the Lady Isabella Trent series. I love the directions this story took, and the way the ending has set up the final book in the series. I also need to give a nod to the last Temeraire book, for providing a satisfying and surprising end to one of my favorites series of all time.

Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
If I'm being honest, probably Hamilton again.

Your favorite TV show of the year?
Either the final season of Agent Carter (sniff) or the most recent season of Orphan Black, which returned to form after a slightly off third year. Honorable mentions: Luke Cage, the current half season of Agents of SHIELD, Top Chef season 13.

Your favorite video game of the year?
I haven't played many games this year. The only one that really sticks with me is Solstice, which I mentioned in my mid-year roundup, the new game from the makers of Cinders.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I think you already all know the answer to this one: Critical Role. My first new fandom in the last couple of years, I spent the second half of 2016 watching the series, then re-watching it (I caught up to the most recent episode and then re-watched it a couple of days ago), wrote a handful of stories, and basically became completely consumed. A part of me is glad that the rewatch is over so I can have my life back. A part of me wants to go back and start all over again, again.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
US presidential election season finale Agent Carter not being renewed for a third season. :(

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
Matthew Mercer. Is it weird for your fandom boyfriend to be a real person? But it's true -- Matt's performance on Critical Role, both as DM and as a large percentage of the cast, is a huge part of the show's appeal to me.

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Peggy Carter, forever.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?
"Anything can happen in the woods..." (Spoilers for Critical Role Ep. 72)

The most missed of your old fandoms?
Oh, I don't know, all of them? I feel very out of touch with fandom right now. But at least lately, I suppose I'm most disconnected from Dragon Age. Maybe it's the lack of new content, and also I basically quit all my replays when I started spending all my free time on Critical Role instead. Now that the catch-up project is over, I hope to get back to that.

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
I never did get started in Supergirl or Star Wars, despite my interest. Solstice might have some possibilities, too.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
Star Wars: Episode 8. The final Lady Isabella Trent book, and the last of the new N.K. Jemisin trilogy. The Defenders on Netflix.

Rogue One

Dec. 16th, 2016 08:50 pm
owlmoose: (ffx2 - paine remember)
I thought it was pretty great! Maybe this is an understatement. I need to see it again.

Some thoughts, no specific spoilers )

Major spoilers for the ending )

Meh

Nov. 19th, 2016 10:17 pm
owlmoose: (kh - xemnas)
The Netflix disc we had in the house tonight was Silver Linings Playbook, added on the strength of reviews and Oscar buzz. We were, on the whole, unimpressed. The depiction of mental illness was deeply problematic, it was difficult to like any of the characters, and the ending felt almost entirely unearned. I think I am officially done with David O. Russell movies for the time being -- Flirting with Disater was great, and I remember liking Three Kings well enough, but I was pretty unmoved by American Hustle, and this movie gets a distinct thumbs down.

Today was, as planned, mostly laid back. The fact that it rained all day also helped inspire sloth -- we went grocery shopping (and bought ourselves a delicious rib roast, which we then cooked up for dinner), but that was about it. Just about right when I need to rest up for a concert day. (We will not talk about how much time I spent retweeting posts about current events and arguing with people on Facebook. I want to be active, but I need to figure out the best strategy for budgeting my time and attention.)

Arrival

Nov. 12th, 2016 11:03 pm
owlmoose: (quote - eliot hollow men)
I've been anticipating this movie since I randomly saw the first trailer as a YouTube ad a few months ago. An intelligent-looking science fiction movie about language, starring Amy Adams, based on a story by Ted Chiang? Sign me up. So we went to see it today, and I was more than satisfied. Amy Adams was phenomenal, the story was smart and thoughtful, the visuals were effective, the music set the mood perfectly. It's a meditation on memory, and the blessing and cure of foreknowledge. If you're interested in a sci-fi movie that's heavier on the thinking and lighter on the explosions, I definitely recommend it.

I hadn't read the short story, "Story of Your Life", so I decided to read it this evening. It was quite different, and less to my taste than the movie -- the story went into much greater detail on the linguistic details of language structure and language learning, and it also spent quite a bit of time on physics, which the movie barely touched on. I feel like that level of detail would have bogged down the movie, which moved as a fairly slow pace as it was. Not too slow -- it actually felt just about the right length -- but any slower and it probably wouldn't have worked. As it was, I think Arrival does a good job of taking the main ideas of the text and transforming them to film.

Spoilers, for the story and the movie. )

Good movie. Go see it. Strong contender for best SF/F film of 2016, for sure -- you can bet that this will be on my Hugo ballot.
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
I will say upfront that the new Ghostbusters movie was review-proof for me. Long ago, I decided that I was going to see this movie on opening weekend no matter what anyone thought of it, to vote with my dollars in favor of movies with female leads, and against the whiny dudebros who feel entitled to demand that no such movies exist. To paraphrase something my friend D said on Facebook, I ain't afraid of no ghosts, but patriarchy is another story. Plus, I do have a certain nostalgia for the original, even if it hasn't held up very well in some respects (in particular its casual and not-so-casual sexism). And last, I have a mixed record with Melissa McCarthy/Paul Feige movies -- I liked Bridesmaids well enough, but its gross-out humor aspects were not for me; I enjoyed Spy but didn't fall completely in love with it; and I did not care for The Heat. All of this to say that I didn't have particularly high expectations (despite good early word of mouth from friends), but I was determined to see it anyway.

Fortunately, my expectations were not only met but exceeded. This movie is great, certainly much better than the trailers would suggest. Fun and funny, all four leads are delightful -- especially Kate MacKinnon as the irrepressible Holtzmann; a lot of the early buzz has circled around her performance, and the praise is highly deserved -- and Chris Hemsworth is a hoot as a perfect gender-flip of the sexy dim-bulb secretary stereotype. It works as a homage to the original film, and it equally stands alone as its own story. Perhaps more than anything, I love that all of the most important relationships in this film are among women. There's no overt romance at all; instead, the movie's emotional core is Abby and Erin's rekindled friendship. Although not perfect by any means (there are plenty of issues I could point to, if I were so inclined), what Hollywood tent-pole film is? When I have that much fun at a movie, I'm not inclined to spent a lot of time going after its flaws. That's what rewatches are for, and I definitely want to see it again; if nothing else, the audience was laughing so hard, and in some places cheering and clapping, that I'm sure I missed a number of the jokes.

A couple minor spoilers. )

In sum, I definitely recommend this movie. See it in theaters, soon if you can, not just to support entertaining female-led action comedies, but because it's a blast, and being in a theater filled with other fans enhances the experience. (Stay through all the credits!)
owlmoose: (lost - sawyer)
I haven't done much in the way of best-of lists in the past, but it seems like a good idea, especially if I decide I want to make a more thorough list at the end of the year. It would be a lot easier to write these kinds of posts if I remembered to update Goodreads in a timely fashion. Maybe making regular list posts will get me into the habit. All releases are 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Books and Comics )

Movies, TV, and Other Media )
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
I suppose it's no surprise that Captain America: Civil War has provoked a lot of debate on the Internet. As a card-carrying member of #TeamItsComplicated, I've found all kinds of food for thought on all sides of the issue, and so I share some of my favorites here. Expect spoilers from this point forward, in both the links themselves and my commentary on them.

Spoilers and linkspam behind the cut. )
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
Captain America: Civil War was an excellent Avengers movie -- much better, certainly, than Age of Ultron. It was also a great Iron Man movie and a pretty good Winter Solider movie. It was even, as some have pointed out, a much better Batman vs. Superman movie than the one we actually got. But was it a good Captain America movie? On that question, I feel like the jury is still out.

Cut for spoilers. )

Oscar

Feb. 28th, 2016 11:03 pm
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
I don't always watch the Oscars, and not at all for the last few years, but I was curious to see how Chris Rock would handle hosting duties in the context of the all-white acting nominee controversy. Overall, I thought he was quite good -- he confronted issues of racism and blackness all night, and he pulled none of his punches. Although I also felt like there were a couple of missteps (the bit about men and women being treated differently on the red carpet comes to mind, as does how close he came to suggesting that African Americans are no longer facing "real" problems and therefore have time to spare on diversity in Hollywood), I'm actually hard pressed to think of a better host, given the circumstances.

Other things I liked: the shout-outs to climate change, anti-racism, and sexual abuse in various winners' speeches, Louis CK's thoughts on the power of documentaries, Joe Biden speaking up about sexual assault followed by Lady Gaga's moving performance and the bravery of all the people who stood with her, Spotlight winning best picture (it's a REALLY good movie -- if you haven't seen it yet, you should), all the awards for Mad Max: Fury Road (although I'm sad that George Miller didn't win for directing, at least he received a lot of recognition via his team), and the fact that we can FINALLY retire the "sad Leo wants an Oscar" meme. Nothing against DiCaprio -- he's a great actor, and by all accounts he put in a worthy performance (I haven't seen The Revenant and don't plan to, since it's not my kind of movie) -- but I grew tired of the meme awhile ago. There are plenty of other great actors without Oscars who are possibly even more deserving, and I am more than ready to move on, please.
owlmoose: (science)
Maybe a month or so ago, T got an email announcing a pre-sale of tickets to "An Evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson". It sounded like fun, and we had no known conflicting plans, so we decided to go despite the lack of details about what, specifically, the evening might enail. The show was tonight, and it was just as great as we hoped it might be.

The first thing Dr. Tyson did after taking the stage was point out how trusting we were, to buy tickets and come out to the theater based on such a vague program title. The second thing he did was take off his shoes. And then, sock-foot, he introduced the topic of his talk: "An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies." It was a fun journey through the science of film, television, and a surprising number of beer commercials, what they get wrong, and what they get right. He talked about some of his more infamous run-ins with Hollywood and fandom -- his tweets about science errors in Gravity and The Force Awakens, getting James Cameron to change the erroneous night sky in Titanic for the 3D rerelease (although he tells the story somewhat differently) -- but there were some unexpected topics, too, like the topography of underwear in Zoolander, clever uses of surface tension in A Bug's Life, and how a mathematical equation helped enhance The Expendables 2. And he was hilarious throughout, as well as informative. If you ever get a chance to see him, I recommend it highly.
owlmoose: (cats - lexi innocent)
I haven't seen these making the rounds really, so I'm answering the same questions as last year (plus adding in one about videogames, which was sorely lacking in the past).

Your main fandom of the year?
Even split between Dragon Age and Marvel.

Your favorite film watched this year?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- yes, really. I need to see it again. Mad Max: Fury Road is probably an objectively better film, but nothing made me happier than watching a new good Star Wars movie.

Your favorite book read this year?
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Runners-up include Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear and Black Wolves by Kate Elliott.

Your favorite album or song to listen to this year?
I started trying to research this question, then realized that the answer is obvious: Hamilton.

Your favorite TV show of the year?
Agent Carter just nudges out Jessica Jones and Supergirl. Agents of SHIELD was also really good this year.

Your favorite video game of the year?
Broken Age. Also, the Dragon Age DLCs Jaws of Hakkon and Trespasser, which significantly improved the Inquisition experience as a whole.

Your best new fandom discovery of the year?
I haven't gotten into a new fandom in awhile. But Star Wars and Supergirl are both nudging at me a little bit -- we'll see whether anything comes of either. It was nice to rediscover how much I enjoy the Star Wars and Superman universes.

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?
Avengers: Age of Ultron. I was able to mostly enjoy the movie as I was watching it, but the further distant I get, the more I'm bothered by its many flaws. If the film franchise keeps drifting this far from my interests, I may start focusing on the MCU TV shows, which were much stronger than the movies this year (even given my ambivalence toward Daredevil).

Your fandom boyfriend of the year?
No one in particular? I did write rather a lot about Alistair from Dragon Age, though.

Your fandom girlfriend of the year?
Peggy Carter. Close second: Kara Zor-El Danvers.

Your biggest squee moment of the year?
The opening chords of the Star Wars theme, ringing out in a darkened movie theater.

The most missed of your old fandoms?
I found myself thinking about Final Fantasy XII a lot this year, in part because of the word about an impending HD remake.

The fandom you haven't tried yet, but want to?
As I mentioned, Star Wars and Supergirl (particularly Kara/James) are both tapping at my mindspace. All it wants is a strong plot bunny.

Your biggest fan anticipations for the coming year?
Attending my first WisCon in May!

In terms of media: Season 2 of Agent Carter. Luke Cage. Captain America: Civil War (although the anticipation there is tinged with more than a little dread). The next season of Orphan Black. Star Wars: Rogue One. The sequel to Court of Fives by Kate Elliott, which I think is supposed to come out in 2016. I'm sure there are other books I'm anticipating, but I don't follow upcoming releases closely enough to know what they are offhand. Solstice, which is the new game from the makers of Cinders -- I know a lot of folks have played this already, but I kept forgetting to pre-order and now it's too late. Maybe Kingdom Hearts 3 will appear next year? We can only hope.
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
In short: I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Cut for those people who want to know literally nothing, but there are no plot spoilers within. )

I'll write a more in-depth, spoiler-laden reaction later, when more people have seen it and we can have detailed discussions. For now, I'm happy just being happy. There are complaints I could make, but I don't want to spend a whole lot of time making them yet. I'm too busy wanting to go see it again.
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
[personal profile] seimaisin asked for my top five favorite Star Wars moments, in honor of the upcoming film. As it happens, I decided just a couple of days ago to put myself on trailer/teaser/general information lockdown for The Force Awakens, because the images I briefly saw from the most recent teaser felt like more than I wanted to know. I have to wonder why this level of hype -- it's not like people don't know it's coming, and they have to know that it's getting a huge audience no matter what they do. I already have my tickets, for a Friday afternoon showing (I'm crashing the show that T's office is taking his team to see), and I am officially excited. But I'd rather not feel like I've already seen the whole movie before I actually get there.

Narrowing this down to five is basically impossible, but I'll give it a go, bearing in mind that these could change according to whim. Listed in no particular order:

"I love you." "I know." / "I love you." "I know." Both of these scenes are wonderful on their own, but the juxtaposition between them is what makes them perfect. I could never write about the echo and all its implications for Han, Leia, and their relationship better than this meta post on Tumblr, so I'm not even going to try -- just go read it. These are the best moments in the Han/Leia ship, which I absolutely ship, so how could I not choose them? And it's totally not cheating to list them together, or to throw in "Someone who loves you" from the Jabba's palace rescue. Nope, not at all.

Han Solo shooting up the comm station during the rescue of Princess Leia. I could have gone with any number of scenes and lines that make me laugh ("I am not a committee!" "You don't want to sell me Jaffa sticks." "I dunno, fly casual." "Artoo! You're playing the wrong message!") but "It was a boring conversation anyway" is one that sticks with me, as does the scene leading up to it.

Obi-Wan Kenobi on Kamino. I wanted to pick at least one scene from the prequels, because although there are tons of problems with those films, and I wish they had been much better, I don't want to excise them from my fannish experience, either. Frustrating as they were, they also added many interesting elements to the canon, and none more so than the backstory of the clones -- who they were, where they came from, for what purpose they were created, the surprising origin of Boba Fett. I thought it was a nice subversion of expectations that the clones were created to fight with the Republic, rather than being the enemy of the Jedi -- and then the closing moments of Attack of the Clones, when the ranks of clone soldiers wearing a clear precursor to stormtrooper armor, prototypical Star Destroyers flying in the background, took my breath away. [tumblr.com profile] fangirlhappyhour recently did a special Star Wars episode, and [personal profile] renay's comments about this scene reminded me of how much I liked it, in particular the best CGI aliens in the entire series, and one of the best fight scenes.

The Battle of Endor. Make fun all you like, but I love the Ewoks. Maybe it's youthful imprinting -- Return of the Jedi is the first movie I ever saw in a theater, at the age of 10, which put me right in the target audience. Regardless, I adore how they can be both cute and fierce, and both those traits are on full display in their battle with the stormtroopers in the forests of Endor. It included moments that were adorable, sad, and filled with crowning glory, and I am a sucker for underdogs coming from behind to defeat a superior force. And it was even better on a big screen.

The Comic Con reel for The Force Awakens. When The Force Awakens was first announced, I wouldn't say I was skeptical exactly, but I wasn't really excited, either. I sometimes had trouble remembering it was even happening -- I almost forgot to include it out of the list of movies I was most looking forward to in my 2014 wrap-up posts, for example. That all changed when this reel leaked, and showed me a world that looked like Star Wars, and felt like Star Wars, in a way that the prequels with their reliance on CGI characters and environments never quite did. Getting a little behind the scenes and seeing practical effects in action was heartening. And I found the excitement of the actors and crew to be infectious. Hearing their love and enthusiasm for Star Wars reminded me of my love and enthusiasm for Star Wars. It made me hopeful again, and I've found no reason to give up that hope. Fingers crossed that I still feel that way in a month.
owlmoose: (Default)
Just a cold, but a bad enough one that I missed three days of work and didn't have energy for much beyond lounging around the house. So what did I do? Consumed a bunch of media!

1. Read comics: Nimona, the latest Captain Marvel collection (Chewie!), and the first three volumes of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye. I've had the Hawkeye books for awhile, and I actually bought and read the first one when it first came out. But then I put off getting the second, and then when I did get it I wanted to re-read the first one before reading it, and then I didn't get around to doing that either. So I read them all in one fell swoop yesterday. And they were great, although predictably I liked the Kate Bishop volume the best. Is the next one out yet? I know it's ending soon, or maybe already has, but there must be at least one more (that was quite a cliffhanger). Nimona was delightful. I don't know whether its initial publication as a web comic messes up its Hugo eligibility, but if not, it's definitely in my first round of nomination picks for next year.

2. Caught up on the last few months of PBS Idea Channel, which I hadn't watched since March or so. Or almost caught up, anyway -- I decided to take a break after the video that discussed Lewis's Law. One of the things I've always appreciated about the host, Mike Rugnetta, is how unapologetically feminist he is, and how he refuses to debate the validity of feminism as a philosophy. So when he spent his entire comment response to that episode pandering to "egalitarians" whose poor feelings were hurt when he compared them to MRAs, I was pretty disappointed. (I don't think egalitarianism, in and of itself, is necessarily a bad philosophy, but those egalitarians who set themselves up in direct opposition to feminism are 1. missing the point of feminism, especially intersectional feminism, and 2. not taking privilege into account.) I get wanting to keep your community open to a wide range of viewpoints, and I concede he may have worded his comparison clumsily, but there's nothing wrong with setting the terms of the debate. I hope this doesn't mean that he either avoids feminist topics in the future, or starts treating them all with kid gloves in order not to offend. Honestly, I'm not sure which would be worse.

3. Picked up my Dragon Age: Inquisition replay. I left my Trevalyen warrior stranded in Halamshiral for months, so I started by finishing up there, and then I played through the remaining Grey Warden quests (as well as a bunch of sidequests in the Western Approach, a few in the Hinterlands, and Varric's companion quest). Some spoilers. )

4. Watched a good chunk of Season 2 of Star Trek: Voyager. I never watched all of Voyager, and not long ago I was struck with the idea of revisiting it. I had remembered watching it for a few years, then getting bored when it became The Seven of Nine show, and most of the first season episodes were familiar, but the second season has been almost entirely new to me. I vaguely remember the business with Seska, and a couple of other things, but either I actually didn't watch it regularly or have blocked the whole thing out. It's been enjoyable to rediscover how much I loved Captain Janeway and B'lanna and Harry and the Doctor, and there's no one I dislike (although I prefer Neelix in small doses). It'll be interesting to see when it starts getting familiar again -- I know I was watching when Seven joined the cast, but I don't remember exactly what season that was, and not much about what was happening before that.

5. With T, watched Jupiter Ascending (which was bananas, but a fun kind of bananas, but I didn't fall in love with it as deeply as many of you did -- probably my expectations were dialed way too high), the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself (which was lovely, and if you have any interest in Ebert -- and can handle watching a man in slow decline, since it was filmed over the last few weeks of his life -- I recommend it), and the first episode of Sense8 (promising, although I don't think I'll be able to binge on it).

Back to work today -- I don't usually work my part-time gig on Mondays, but I fell far enough behind this week that I want to at least start catching up. Fortunately I think I'm up for it, although I am a bit sad to end my mini media feast.
owlmoose: (tea - it's good for you)
I went back and forth on whether I was going to see Ant-Man in theaters. I knew I wasn't making an effort to go opening weekend, but other than that, it was up in the air. Then S mentioned that she was interested, so I decided why not, and I got together a group. We watched it last night, at a local theater that has a bar. Just in case. (For the record, I ended up not getting a drink -- the line was too long before the movie, and the showing ran late enough that the bar was closed by the time we got out.)

Short verdict: it was fun. I was entertained and amused. I'm sure I laughed out loud more times than at any other Marvel movie, including Guardians of the Galaxy. Paul Rudd charmed me, as expected. Michael Douglas set my teeth on edge a little bit, also as expected. (Which perhaps makes him an appropriate choice to play Hank Pym.) Evangeline Lilly was great, and I hope we see Hope Van Dyne in future films. Yellowjacket was yet another cookie cutter "titan of industry looking for power and revenge" type, as seen in the Iron Man movies, without the excellent acting of Jeff Bridges or Sam Rockwell to bring a higher level of interest to the character. (I was a little more intrigued by the former SHIELD agent, and I wish we'd gotten more on him.) But I don't expect much from an MCU villain who isn't Loki, at least not in the movies. (The "Agents" shows, at least, are much stronger in that regard.) The visuals and effects were very well done, big screen-worthy if that kind of thing matters to you. I'm actually sort of curious about the 3D version, and I never watch movies in 3D. At its core, Ant-Man is a heist movie, and I do enjoy a good heist movie. It was worth seeing.

But of course I have quite a bit more to say. There have been three main problems dogging Ant-Man since it was announced and throughout the development process: Edgar Wright leaving the project, the absence of Janet Van Dyne, and Marvel's choice to make an Ant-Man movie at all. And all three of these issues also appeared on screen, to greater and lesser degrees.

Behind the cut, for length and spoilers. )
owlmoose: (avengers - natasha)
Now that the second season of Agents of SHIELD is up on Netflix, I've decided to pick up this project where I left off, with my third viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy.

This is not a particular favorite of mine -- it's a fun ride, easily the most humorous of the MCU films, and I enjoyed it while I was watching. Chris Pratt is always charming, and like everyone I fell totally in love with Groot, but the film's frat-boy attitude gets wearying, fast. Basically, I stand by everything that I said the first time, except that Ronin has grown on me as an antagonist. In particular, I would no longer say that Ronin was a worse antagonist than Maeferoth: he might be a bit annoying and over the top, but he has a much stronger personality, and I got a better feel for his motives the third time around. I still wish we had gotten more on Nebula and the Collector, and I hope we see them both in later movies.

Cut for Agents of SHIELD spoilerish stuff )

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