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Thursday, May 17, 2018

What the MCU version of Thanos gets right; and what it doesn't

The hype was real for this character, ever since the stinger of The Avengers (2012) revealed his involvement in Loki's invasion of New York. A sinister, purple-skinned brute who grins at the prospect of undertaking a so-called suicide mission; what's not to love about that?

The comic counterpart of this character, if you ignore his Ultimates version entirely, is an enigma: he's not out for conquest or money or something like that; he's out for love. He's in love with lady Death, who is a humanoid entity in the Marvel universe. He has been her willing thrall for decades since his first publication. He eventually became the Avatar of Death, having been granted vast powers that made his former self look like a choir-boy in comparison. As a Titanian Eternal, he can manipulate cosmic energy for many purposes, such expending it via energy beams, giving himself the ability of flight, improving his strength & durability, and many other feats. He's also a telepath, who has been so difficult to defeat in this way that even Moondragon, a high-level telepath in the Marvel universe, was unable to beat him with such powers. Also, good luck beating him at all; he's gone toe-to-toe with Galactus, Odin, Thor, the full-power of Blackbolt, and recently the Phoenix Force-powered Thane, one of his last-remaining ill-begotten children. 

Then the movie about Thanos finally arrived, and while far from perfect (it is one part of a two film story arc, after all), it mostly hit the right notes. Our long-awaited greater-scope villain made a bombastic entry to the big screen in a big way. He's been praised by many so far that he's the best villain in the MCU; some even say he's one of the best villains in any comic-book movie.

I disagree with the last part, unfortunately.

Mind, I have come to accept, years ago, that these movies won't adapt everything from the comics so closely, or faithfully, rather. This is not the issue I have with the film. My problem with his depiction here is the lack of consistency, not only with previously-stated facts about his character in the MCU, but with his character development and backstory as well.


Here's a checklist of what they get right:

  • His super strength, which rivals, if not dwarfs those of the Incredible Hulk & Thor.
  • His nigh-invulnerable body.
  • His place of birth; Titan.
  • His exile from Titan for his grandiose, yet extreme schemes involving the deaths of many from his home world.
  • His reputation as a feared galactic conqueror.
  • His ability to wield the infinity gems.
  • His ability to speak to others, even his enemies, in a respectable, if not commendable tone. He's not the most erudite in the MCU but he's close enough. But he's not arrogant, either.
Now here's what they get wrong:

  • His motivation. Everything about it is wrong; it doesn't jive with his character at all. Why does he care about the welfare of worlds across the universe? With the reality-bending powers of the stones he could literally do anything, yet his first compunction is to murder half of all sentient life throughout the cosmos? And that's all he wants to do? No appeasement to the gods, especially Death, so that he can be deemed their equal?
  • His (as seen so far) total lack of cosmic energy manipulation abilities, as well as telekinesis, the ability to fly, and telepathy (more a defensive version, but he has been shown to 'speak' to people through their minds). Eye beams powerful enough to knock Thor off his feet? Nope. Generating black holes when and where he wants? Nada. Surrounding himself with energy shields on a whim? Zilch.
  • His infamous affection for Death, which is a humanoid entity in the comics. His sole motivation in the classic Infinity Gauntlet storyline, from which the film derives most of its influence, is to become her equal by showing, with the gauntlet, that he is comparable to a god himself. He ends up screwing this up by virtue of becoming more powerful than Death itself
  • His exile from Titan, which was due to him growing into a mass murderer who tried to forcefully usurp power from his own father. After some time of traveling the cosmos, gathering power in more ways than one, he comes back with a vengeance. A nuclear one. He was the reason they were wiped out, not some ambiguous doomsday scenario that was explained poorly and in haste. Somehow his people were wiped out by overpopulation alone? Nobody survived? Nobody had the wherewithal to, y'know, fix the situation by any means necessary? What the fuck?
  • The jarring retcon of previously-stated facts of his escapades throughout the universe, such as his previously established annihilation of Gamora's people. Instead, it turns out that he killed half (to save the other half, it seems) of her people, sparing the rest, while she herself suggests that many of the rest lost the will to live. Same could be suggested of Drax the Destroyer (who wasn't originally an Earthling in this continuity) and Nebula and their people. With this movie we can now assume that he killed half of their people and spared the rest out of some insane savior logic. Who goes around the universe doing that? If you're going around killing half of the population of each inhabited planet, don't you think there would be massive repercussions of their own? Apparently he's doing all of that to save the universe from itself. WHAT?!
  • His murder of his own mother.

Friday, March 23, 2018

'Anchor' Mini Project

I'm kind of on a roll, here. I guess that's what happens when you listen to music that really touches on something you hold close to your heart.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gNRdc02wcRuwWTUxba-0YkGHX8auIlHp

Like the previous project, it is watermarked.

Edit: Increased transparency of watermark; changed a few lines, added a new one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dimming - Mini Project

Well, I've finished a project in one sitting and it's all finished, ready for sharing.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1u_KlHYNHJLgNsbneAjxYdrFqkBeU2X6g

It is watermarked.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Godzilla Review (2014, Action/Adventure/Monster, Legendary Pictures)


This movie should remind you why Godzilla is king.

Should...

The movie mostly ends up checking the right points: Godzilla himself is badass as ever and isn't simply out to destroy us; he battles other Kaiju; we get to watch human characters that we care about; it's fun to watch.

But what this film does wrong is that it seems to undermine itself on almost all those fronts. Godzilla is badass, yes, in appearance and in how he handles his opposition. But you might be hard-pressed to actually see him in the first place, because he's only in the movie for about ten to fifteen minutes of the film's solid two-hour run time. Considering the film's title, I expected to see more of him. You don't have to inundate us with him in every single frame (build-up is always nice), but maybe grant the viewer, I dunno, a glimpse of the titular monster in half of the film's run time? Could that have been too much to ask for? The M.U.T.O.s that he battles, for instance, get significantly more screen-time than he does. In fact, they get even more development than he does.

Yet when he shows up, he's glorious to behold. He's got a great design, he towers over most buildings now, he resembles a fighting bear, and he's not a malevolent force that we must overcome somehow. And he shrugs off nukes, even eats them perhaps; it will take other kaiju of his power level in order to really bring him to his knees, and that's a definite plus to this version.

The human element has some stronger foundations, too. The effective Bryan Cranston has a role here as Joe Brody, who inadvertently discovers the presence of the M.U.T.O.s and kind of sets the plot in motion. Disaster and tragedy strikes, and we have to then fast forward to the present. He's determined to find out why the disaster occurred and why the government is running experiments where it happened. This gets him in the (non-hostile) crosshairs of his son Ford Brody, a military operator, who wants to bring him home. They reunite, investigate the disaster site, reconcile a bit, and discover that there's an immense danger present there. It's a dormant M.U.T.O., and it's about to wake up. This is where Bryan Cranston's character ends up getting killed, and the human element of the film suffers for it.

I don't have anything against Aaron-Taylor Johnson as an actor, but he doesn't exactly sell his role as Ford. He is certainly sympathetic and all, but he doesn't drive the plot forward until the very end when it makes a lot more sense for him to have any impact on it at all. Instead, Elizabeth Olsen as Ford's wife, who is a nurse who ends up right in the heat of Godzilla's battle with the M.U.T.O.s toward the end, does manage to elicit some interest, in spite of how brief her appearances. And then there's Ken Watanabe's character, a scientist who has been studying kaiju with the MONARCH project (they investigate things like this). The only notable thing about his character is that he's always in three modes in all of his scenes: looking surprised, looking shocked, and looking confused. He delivers his lines in monotone and really just serves to drive home the fact that this is very much, in fact, a Godzilla movie. 

The film does have some fun with its premise. Like in the good old days of the franchise, Godzilla has to meet a skyscraper-size match and do battle with it. In this movie's case, two (of the same species no doubt) adversaries that reportedly decimated Godzilla's species many eons ago. And the kaiju within these proceedings, especially his enemies, flat-out eat nukes for breakfast. They also deal untold destruction in trying to find a nesting ground so that they can replenish their numbers. Godzilla is tracking them and has a score to settle, and the only reason we know this at all is because the military somehow become privy to this inevitable showdown. And when the showdown does happen, it's pretty cool to watch. Our badass title character even unleashes not one, but two radioactive breath waves on his insectoid enemies.

And speaking of the M.U.T.O.s, and having previously mentioned how they actually do receive development throughout the film, they do come across as sympathetic antagonists. In one particular scene that will stand out with some viewers, the female and the male are clearly shown to be mating partners. They work together, look out for one another when they're in danger, and they even nuzzle. How cute. While their design leaves a little to be desired (they look rather unnatural), they at least come across as more interesting antagonists than otherwise, which is a plus. And then Ford Brody ends up destroying their egg-sacs, which puts the mother into flat-out berserk mode, all directed at him. You can't help but feel a bit of pity for her, given that all she's trying to do is help her species survive.

Then Godzilla, having dealt with the male (who, while significantly smaller in size than the female, has the advantage of flight) which was annoying our hero with hit & run tactics, sets his sights on the female. She's about to deal the killing blow against Ford when Godzilla grabs her and delivers a heavy dose of radioactive breath down her fucking throat. While you couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the M.U.T.O.s, this triumph is nonetheless a glory to behold. He roars into the skies, signifying his place at the top of the world, and collapses in exhaustion. The next day, with the world watching, he awakens and heads back out to sea, with humanity cheering him on as the necessary but destructive force to save the world.

Now all of this may seem like they take place over a significant amount of time, but they in fact don't. Again, Godzilla hardly even shows up in this movie, which, I must remind everyone, is NAMED AFTER HIM. And when he finally does, the battle, while still fun to watch, doesn't exactly lift the film up from mediocrity all that much. It's certainly a plus to see him do battle, but considering all that preceded that segment of the film, it wasn't enough. However, knowing that Legendary wants to make this into a number of films, re-imagining his battles with his famous foes like Mothra & King Ghidorah, I think we can all rest assured that the franchise will go places that will satisfy what we want out of these types of films in the first place: sheer, monumentally-large fun.

Just give us more of the titular monster, please.

C+

The Good:


+ It's Godzilla
+ Godzilla has a really badass design. Some Japanese audiences didn't like it, but that's fine. I like him resembling an enormous bear. I like him having an ominous presence just because of how large he is. And I like how expressive he is now, such as showing that he, too, can feel pain and fear.
+   The M.U.T.O.s, while kind of off-putting in appearance (their eyes are evil looking, which is a nice touch), have a surprising depth to them. This takes them beyond the otherwise predictable role of "something for Godzilla to destroy."
+ It's not a depressing film.
+ Bryan Cranston delivers, as per usual.

The Bad: 

- For a film about Godzilla, he hardly even shows up. And by then it's another case of "too little, too late", or at least by some measure of the phrase.
- The human leads don't really warrant much interest.
- Bryan Cranston is only in the movie for about...15 to 20 minutes. And then he gets a bridge dropped almost literally right on top of him.
- Ken Watanabe's character & talent is rather wasted. He delivers his lines in a quiet monotone, like he just awoke from a coma that had left him weakened and confused.
- Feels a bit over-long.
- You don't get the best glimpse of Godzilla until he literally comes roaring into the picture, which further undermines his presence in the film.
- Seems to be more of a setup film than a confident, stand-alone film. It was meant to establish a shared universe, akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Disney continues to put out. Unlike the MCU, which was carefully handled by Kevin Feige, this shared universe seems to be a bit forced from the word "go."

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Godzilla Review (1998, Action/Adventure/Monster, Columbia TriStar)


Sorry, this is not the original Godzilla. Nor is it the decent-but-flawed 2014 reboot.

This is the rain-soaked, Manhattan-bound (you have to ask yourself during the movie, "WHY MANHATTAN!?"), inconsistent Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin effort to Americanize the franchise. It didn't succeed, and I'm happy that it didn't and I was even when I watched it at 10 years old.

One thing a lot of people don't mention about the movie is just how depressing its visual palette is. Not only does it rain for its entirety, or so it seems to anyway, but it's either always night time or the skies are almost always gray. It's a far cry from any other Godzilla movie ever made, where we were supposed to have fun watching the ridiculous and oversized proceedings take action. Instead, some of us, such as myself, pined for that one frame of even a ray of sunshine cutting through the dreary gray clouds during the few sequences taking place during daylight.

When you look at the human element, you can't really grasp onto anyone. No, not even Jean Reno manages a lick of excitement from viewers. The lead protagonist in all of this mess is Matthew Broderick, who plays himself. No, not really; he's supposed to be playing the role of an earthworm scientist of sorts who is in way over his head, and has a conveniently-placed ex-girlfriend who works for one of the local news stations in New York. The problem with both characters, especially Broderick's, is that they are simply there. In a movie so otherwise ludicrous in concept (giant monster stomping through a massive supercity) you'd think they'd try to inject some kind of levity into the situation, like some witty one-liner or ridiculous feat of strength from the human leads, but not even that happens. Ditto for the rest of the crowd barely-earning their paycheques in these proceedings. They're just...there. They fill a void, not a character.

Then the monster element comes in and it leaves us, and left me a little--confused. Are we supposed to root for its eventual defeat? Or are we supposed to root for its triumph over adversity? And how the hell does it fit in a subway tunnel at all when it is large enough at times to bring down buildings with a mere swipe of its tail? And the big twist that it is female elicits even more questions than anything else. Such questions would be, "how did it manage to do that at all?" and, "I thought Godzilla was a male?" And on the topic of the offspring themselves, who conveniently play a brief role in the movie (and pay a bit too much homage to the vastly superior Jurassic Park released five years prior), why, when their, uh, mommy drops hundreds of tonnes of fish for them to devour do they instead opt to eat the larger and lesser (in number) humans scurrying about? If the scent of dead fish eclipses anything else in the immediate vicinity, you'd think they'd opt just for the fish, right? Well, not in Emmerich-world.

They have to give chase to our, er, 'heroes'. Predictably, nothing of consequence happens here except for a few accusations of plagiarism from fans & viewers alike of the aforementioned dinosaur movie. Anyway, our heroes manage to destroy the offspring, and that of course pisses off our star character and drives it to seek their oblivion. If you ignore the fact that this thing was previously depicted outrunning military helicopters, while surrounded by skyscrapers no less, then you'd think that a mere yellow taxi having to brave the chaotic streets of New York (with or without a rampaging giant monster) would be easy pickings for this beast. Well, somehow it isn't. Eventually, it gets caught in the suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge and then pulverized by heavy fire by the military. Which, I have to say, is a godsend given that they caused arguably more destruction than Godzilla did in this movie and in any proper world would have all been disbarred from their jobs during or after the events of this movie. But I digress.

Godzilla collapses and then dies. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel sad, angry, or joyful that this beast succumbed to a mere dozen explosions that would see the original Godzilla shrugging off (then you look at the Legendary-era incarnation and how it barely even notices dozens of missiles peppering its hide). I wasn't sure if he, or she, or whatever the hell it is was the misunderstood anti-hero or the angsty anti-villain in this picture. And I wasn't sure why I was supposed to care about the shot of Broderick coming face-to-face with the dying monster. All I knew at that moment was that this mess was about to come to a close. And you know what I was sure of then? That I could leave this bumbling movie behind and experience far more joyful things in life.

Oh and did you know that the movie takes place almost entirely in dreary, rain-soaked imagery because the special effects were not quite up to speed even for the production team? Yeah, and did you notice how sometimes Godzilla changes size, radically I must add, to fit the needs of the scene wherever necessary? Yeah, it doesn't even manage to be an exceptional special effects vehicle for entertainment. What a goof.

D
  

The Good: 

+ It's Godzilla
+ The military manage to be more destructive than the monster itself, which is unintentionally hilarious.
+ You can understand people speaking in this movie (assuming English is your first language at least)
+ It inspired Gareth Edwards and Legendary Pictures to try their hands at another reboot years later, and it was far better (still flawed, though)

The Bad:


- Every scene is rain-soaked, and if it isn't, it's because it takes place indoors. 
- It's either always night, or damn close to it.
- The special effects aren't that impressive. And it's why the studio used rain to cover them up.
- You don't care about anybody
- Godzilla changes size conveniently in order to fit the scene. One scene sees him (her?) toppling skyscrapers and high-rises and others (usually off-screen, again how convenient)  it is able to fit inside of the subway tunnel system. They're large for tunnel systems but I don't think a massive monster like Godzilla could fit in them.
- Awful plot
- Rips off Jurassic Park, namely the suspenseful raptor-chase sequences. And they couldn't appreciate the huge mound of fish dropped at their literal feet by their, uh, mommy?
- Is Godzilla good, bad, or in-between? We never know!
- Godzilla gets killed by a handful of missiles. WEAK!
 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A White Lie | "Anguish" Poetry Collection

I lied last time.

I said that I was done with my project, finally at that! Well, as these things tend to do, I suddenly came up with another entry to add to the (now 16 strong) pool of poems. When I read it it does come off as pretty melodramatic, pretty sad stuff, at least if I consider the readers' perspective.

Oh and having talked about it with someone close, I thought I should disclose that I don't want any readers to think that I am actively considering suicide or anything like that. These poems, when released, will be an artistic reflection of the times that have haunted me throughout my life. They will be nothing more than that. After all, the band members comprising the death metal act Cannibal Corpse don't seem to, so far anyway, engage in necrophilia, mass murder, and cannibalism (or any combination thereof) so that logic applies here, too. If I were in dire need of help I'd have sought it already, a long time ago at that.

To bring this post to a close I will state that as of this writing, I am considering all kinds of avenues for publishing. There is the self-publishing route (through a middle-man), the DIY route (the most challenging, painstaking, but surely most gratifying method) or there's considering a publishing house (potentially the most exposure but the least rewarding, should the book be unable to sell more than it costs to put out). I have many options and I have to weigh them all. So this will take a while of course.

-G


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Anguish" Preview | Confinement

I haven't updated this blog in months. It's become a bad habit indeed, but maybe after having completed an actual project (finally!) I'll have mustered the motivation necessary to update this more often, and perhaps more regularly.

But that's neither here or there; this post is about a preview into that "actual project", entitled "Anguish." It will be a collection of poems centering around my very long battle with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and inability to be chipper most of the time. I'm going to look into various avenues through which I can publish the collection into a book. Eventually I'll capture a visual element to complement the book, and that, along with visual tweaks of the actual literary element when applied to paper, will find its way into another edition.

Further edits for clarity and for the general fuck of it may be forthcoming until the collection actually gets published for good.

Without further ado, here's a preview of "Confinement." Note: this, along with the rest of the collection, was written in free-verse style.



You became blind
Your heart wrenches
You taste gloom
You see no way out

Your breaths falter
Your heart is in a vice
You recollect life
Your light dims

You beg for escape
You grasp for...something
Your hope now wanes
Your heart begins to break

You then throw it in
You perceive the end
Your lungs collapse
You cannot scream now

You finally glimpse happiness
You gripe at the prospect
You know the awful truth
You know you are in confinement