First off, this has way more in common with Conan the Barbarian than with anything resembling Arthurian mythos.  In fact, I kept thinking that squeezing Arthur through a Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft filter the way this movie does is really kind of genius and I wish I had thought of it.  When the film opens on a darkness-shrouded ziggurat  and a passable replica of Minas Morgal, complete with flames shooting out of the top, I knew to chuck any expectation of anything making sense out the window. Since Arthur and his band of miscreants are all quite likeable, and I for one find Guy Ritchie’s directorial quirks delightful — he knows exactly when to skip a long narrative sequence and replace it with a snappy montage instead — I had a pretty good time with this.

In fact, it’s a way better Dungeons and Dragons movie than the actual D&D movie. Someday I’m going to rank my “way better D&D movie than the actual D&D movie” movies.

Although I have to admit, none of us could abide how badly Arthur treated his sword. You don’t drag Excalibur on the stone floor, even if it makes cool sparks!

 

Gonzo space opera is the best space opera. This may be the best gonzo space opera EVER.

So, this one’s a lot like the first one in that it’s simultaneously a really familiar story (Enemies become friends! Star Lord has a long-lost father! With superpowers! It ends badly!) but it also feels really new and amazing and visually fantastic. There’s stuff here I’ve never seen before.

This one’s also quite different than the first one. (Sensing a thing. GotG:  we take really familiar patterns and then frak with them.)  It’s slower paced, which seems weird but also works well, I think. Our team built a family in the last movie. In this one, they’re acknowledging that family and solidifying what that means.  Their core is now strong enough that they can start to look out and expand. There’s a lot of exposition, which I think works better when we already know the characters, because even if the pace is slow, we’re watching our beloved characters do their thing.

My very favorite thing was how the team looks after Baby Groot. Like, he’s an actual little kid, not just a small version of himself, and everyone is super aware of it, and they’re kind and nurturing and worried about him. In the middle of all the crazy gonzo universe-shattering action and revelation, it’s about the sweetest thing ever.  Yes, superhero movies don’t have be eternally dark and gritty!  Woohoo!

Also:  SO MANY EASTER EGGS. There’s a lot going on this. Even my comics guy friend who usually does the annotations on these things for me couldn’t keep up. I’m waiting for someone to do the shot-by-shot rundown.

 

downtime

May 3, 2017

That thing where you’ve been working on the same Word file for three months and even though you’re finished with it (for now) you keep trying to open it by reflex instead of the new thing you’re working on.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tix acquired for tomorrow. I’m so excited! This has been a tough one to stay spoiler-free on. I’m even trying to stay spoiler free on the Awesome Mix so I can see the songs in situ as it were, before knowing what they are. (I’ll never forget how hysterical it was when Star Lord comes sweeping around on his jetpacks to the chorus of that awful Piña Colada song, which I never thought I would own because I hate it so much, but there it is.) In fact, I saw an ad for the new Awesome Mix, and accidentally glimpsed the first track listed, and it was like, “Hey Carrie, what song would you most like to see on the new Awesome Mix?” and it was that actual song, so I had to immediately hide the screen before I saw anything else.

I love being a fan of something. My fandoms are getting me through the current political climate.

And then, we have the diametric opposite of GotG Vol. 2, which is Alien: Covenant, a franchise that I’m so burned out on that I can’t even be bothered to really pay attention to the trailer. The thing looks dead to me. Not just dead, but smashed up roadkill that’s been driven over for a week and yet is somehow still recognizable as the squirrel that it used to be but you’re not even sad anymore, you’re just disgusted, and not even the crows and magpies will go near it.

So no, I’m not planning on seeing Alien: Covenant.

 

Colossal

April 17, 2017

Colossal is an art-house film in which Anne Hathaway’s character discovers she has a psychic link to a giant monster destroying Seoul.

Isn’t that such an amazing premise?

I’m not going to say much else because I’m writing a long-form review of this one for Lightspeed, but I wanted to get the word out that yes, I liked it, it’s clever and does some nice deconstruction of several tropes, and though the third act drags and turns really really dark, it majorly sticks the landing and makes it all worth while.

Since this is a limited release right now and isn’t likely to stick around for long, if you have any interest at all in quirky genre films you might check this one out. Even my friends who still haven’t forgiven me for dragging them to Snowpiercer liked Colossal.

 

Beauty and the Beast

April 7, 2017

So I did go see it. It turns out, I really like musicals, and the live-action version of this feels a lot more like a classic musical than the animated version did, for some reason.

It was sweet, it was charming. It didn’t blow me away and I kind of wanted it to. The SFX are amazing — I kept forgetting one of the main characters is essentially computer generated. Neat trick. A great supporting cast, which is exactly what you want in this sort of thing. Disney still has a thing for dead mothers.

But the real takeaway from this is I am now officially obsessed with Dan Stevens. That man has the most expressive face.

Bonus trivia:  The actress who plays the Enchantress also plays Elinor in the same Sense and Sensibility where Dan Stevens plays Edward.  MIND BLOWN.

 

movies…or not

March 27, 2017

I haven’t been going to a lot of movies lately. Busy with other things, underwhelmed by current offerings. What am I not seeing?

Life:  Oh hell no. Monster in space rehash. Nothing about the trailers interest me. When are movie astronauts going to learn not to poke the squicky pseudopod?

Kong: Skull Island:  I’ve actually been hearing pretty good things about this. And, you know, Tom Hiddleston.  But it just seems so loud.

Power Rangers:  Or as the trailers suggest, The Breakfast Club: The Gritty Reboot.  I have absolutely no nostalgic attachment to the Power Rangers.  In fact, along with The X-Files, it was one of the shows that started up right before I left for my year abroad in the U.K., and I was shocked to return home and discover it had somehow gotten mega-popular in my absence. (Ah, the days before ubiquitous internet…) I didn’t get it. Oddly enough though, I’m getting good reports about this one as well. Still not inclined to go see it.

Beauty and the Beast:  I may actually go see this. I haven’t decided. Again, I have no real emotional attachment to the original animated film.  It may turn out that I’m such a sucker for ornate costumes and musicals and fairy tales that I go see this like a junkie looking for a hit.  Plus, Dan Stevens of Legion is the Beast?  That intrigues me.

Also, if you’re a fan of Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, and you have not read Robin McKinley’s first novel Beauty, you should go do so immediately. And then quietly reflect on the fact it came out a dozen years before and think to yourself, wait a minute… 

 

Logan

March 17, 2017

So, this is like a “What If?” story about the worst of all possible X-Men worlds. Grim, dystopian, and entirely predictable.  The movie opens with Logan killing a bunch of guys.  Every third scene after that is Logan and Mini Me killing a bunch of guys.  Apparently, there are exactly three ways to kill someone with adamantium claws, and they do it over and over and over again, and by the end of this thing I was super bored.

You know what I’d like to see?  The version of this story with no fight scenes.  Here’s how that works:  The best parts of the movie were, like, Laura and Charles bonding, and Laura having to figure out how to eat a nice family dinner, Logan playing caretaker to both of them — a role he is entirely unsuited to — and Charles trying to balance medication with his increasingly erratic control of his powers.  Imagine a movie with all of that, and the threat of violence dogging them through their whole trek, but not actual violence.  Imagine the tension.  And then the only fight is the one at the end, when all that tension bursts.

But see, that would have been a lot harder to write.  This one?  This movie was lazy. The fights were the least interesting part, but they just kept happening.  And I don’t care if she has the highest kill rate in the film, Laura is still a cloying moppet.

And I just want everyone to know that there are no mountains, pine forests, aspen groves, or anything but preternaturally flat, wind-blasted prairie on the border between North Dakota and Canada.

Honestly, my favorite part of the whole thing was seeing Marjorie Liu’s name in the credits.  Good job, Marjorie!