My Own Worst Enemy, for the majority of the world that has forgotten, was a short-lived TV spy-show with a twist. The premise of the show was that some of the world's top spies underwent complex conditioning that gave them a case of controlled multiple personalities. While on missions, they were their spying, assassinating, dark-deeds-for-the-greater-good selves. While not on missions or not on that particular job, their other personalities would take over, making them happily standard members of middle American suburbia.

The conditioning of Christian Slater becomes unstable, again in the premise, enabling switches of personality. Thus, the conflict is set. On the one hand, we have Edward Albright, the lone-wolf doer of dark deeds in service to his country. On the other hand, we have Henry Spivey, the wimpier, but more moral husband and father. The two come into conflict with each other and the roles of each other as they accidentally slip between.

If I had to guess why My Own Worst Enemy was short lived, it would be that it had a tendency to be rather down on the work-a-day people who make up the bulk of civilization. Whether by intention or otherwise, it made the case that your life isn't as valuable as that of such a spy. When a show's basic message seems to include "your struggles and triumphs and failures just don't add up to all that much", I can see people being turned off.

Two items turned me off.
Read more... )
Quantum Leap, for those not yet born in 1993, is the story of Samuel Beckett (no relation to the playwright) who invented and tested a time machine. It was a partial success in that it did send him back in time, but only into the lives of those in the past. And, he couldn't get back. All he could do was stay in one setting long enough to complete an unspecified but important task or "put right what once went wrong". Then, he would "leap" into another life at another point in history and geography.

Unlike some shows I've subjected to The Case, Quantum Leap made some fairly good use of its potential for its time.

For its time is an important caveat. Quantum Leap existed in the late '80s and early '90s. That gave it two binds that held it back from fully exploring its potential.
Read more... )
I've already made a Case for remaking 50 Shades of Grey, which started life as Twilight Fan Fiction. As this indicates, Twilight does share the major problem of 50 Shades. Much of the story is something that can be appreciated as a fantasy that should remain fantasy. But, Twilight has its own problems that make it so that it can't all be solved with a presentation that acknowledges that it's not just a step away from reality, but a step away from desired reality.

Twilight, for those not already made familiar by a wealth of commentary, is the story of late teen Bella Swan and her falling in love with a vampire.

The story begins with her moving to a dreary town to live with her father, who is also the local Sherriff. She goes to the dreary High School, where she is nigh-immediately the most popular girl, but finds no joy in either that or any of the people. It's not that she's malicious in her distaste for her classmates, but more that she holds everybody in the same low esteam with which she holds herself.

Some readers and critics, particularly in the comments of Ana Mardoll's deconstructions of the series*, have put forth that Bella Swan could be taken to present as suffering clinical depression.

The only classmates who don't go out of their way to befriend Bella are the Cullens, of which Edward captures her attention. He's initially hostile, but concerned for her well-being, and otherwise a bundle of mixed messages. This prompts her to ask about the Cullens, learn about a convenient fictional myth from the real-but-inaccurately-portrayed local Native American community, and pour over some internet research, all leading up to the much-shown and much-mocked scene. He tells her to say it and she says "vampire".
Read more... )
Waterworld, if you've forgotten (and most have) was the movie set in a world in which global warming caused the ice-caps to melt... and nothing else. The story is your fairly average, low-budget, action piece with Dennis Hopper playing the over-the-top bad guy and Kevin Costner as the blander-than-bland good guy.

Item of note: I know that Kevin Costner can play someone with emotions. I've seen it in Bull Durham.

Now, I say the story is a fairly average, low-budget action piece. But, the movie itself had a high budget. I don't know where the budget went. If it all went to Dennis Hopper, that might have been a good choice. I suspect that it went to the efforts of shooting, off the coast, on settings that would allow you to view this as a world where there's no dry-land in the background of any of the shots, not until they come to the remaining island.

Still, the concept is workable, but for a couple problems.
Read more... )
Ladyhawke is the 1980's Middle Ages fantasy movie about a cursed couple. Both in love, the woman is a hawk during the day and the man is a wolf at night. When an animal, either can only think as an animal. They can feel for each other and even recognize each other, but cannot communicate. For nostalgia, I consider this a classic. On re-watch, I can consider it a tad confused with its tone, but I still say it's an entertaining movie to watch.

A character calling himself Mouse, played by Matthew Broderick, is both comic relief and our viewpoint character for the story. He's a thief of so slight a build that he was able to escape an otherwise inescapable prison by crawling through the drains. He's a capable thief, which keeps us aware of why he would be wanted in his position, and the comedy comes from him being in over his head and surviving through wit and luck.

The movie takes a passing look at the fact that, having been unable to communicate but always so close, there's a strain and can be a desire to find intimacy with someone else. But, that doesn't last more than about one scene, long enough for Mouse to find the way to be clear that nothing really happened.

Therein lies the wasted potential.
Read more... )
Only You Can Save Mankind is a book you probably haven't read. Even if you really enjoy Terry Pratchett, it's not in his Discworld series and... in all honesty, it's not a great book. I know. I just stated a paradox. It's by Terry Pratchett and I... don't like it.

I don't hate it or even dislike it. I can see how others would like it. If you have the chance, give it a read. I didn't find it a chore to get through the whole thing. And, hey, if Amazon is any indication, a lot of people loved it. (Though, one did give it a one star review and called it liberal indoctrination, which actually endears the novel to me.)

My issue with the book is that it left me with the feeling that... nothing really happened. Oh, there was action, there was exploration of a theme and the beginnings of what could open up to a deconstruction of common game tropes of "Always Chaotic Evil" and the application of the Social Anthropological Principle of Out-Group Homogeneity Bias*. Unlike other stories that never notice their own potential, this one notices, but doesn't really have a grasp on how to engage it.
Read more... )
The first movie, intentionally or otherwise, was Act I. I've made the Case for Act II. Now, it's time to complete the epic trilogy.

Like with the second movie, we can move the youngest Incredibles onto new stages in their lives.

Violet Parr has gone through college and law school and is starting her career. This is a source of tension within the family because the firm she works for takes on a lot of what Bob Par/Mr. Incredible considers "anti-hero" cases. A more neutral description would be that they represent plaintiffs in injury and damage cases due to super-hero negligence.

To Bob Parr, this is the very thing that drove superheroes out of the job in the first place. To Violet Parr, this is an essential element of justice.

To Helen Parr/Elastigirl, this is just another conflict in the family that she has to mediate in order to keep the family together.

Dash has just finished college on a track scholarship. As Dashiell Parr, he's continued to not take his studies seriously at all. As the superhero, Blink (a super hero name of Dash is just too obvious and asking for trouble), he did actively study criminology. He knew that he had a career easily in front of him, just like his dad.

And, John, sometimes still called Jack-Jack, is now in college. Like Violet, he has an obvious interest in Super Hero studies, itself an obvious choice for many a student on account of the re-emerging importance of superheroes in emergency response and law enforcement. Like Violet, he gets into his share of arguments with his father.

The first or second scene (after an initial bit of super-hero action, perhaps) will remind of the key issue. Dash has a girlfriend, someone he believes responsible enough to handle the family secret.
Read more... )
It seems official. The Incredibles Sequel is in the works for 2019. There's no reason why we shouldn't have a sequel. It's an entertaining movie about people fully embracing who they are (some for the first time some again) and the need to work with others and the need to value your family. These are good morals.

But, as you might be able to tell from a couple Scenes I'd Like to See*, there's a pervasive problem within the movie.

The Incredibles takes, as given, the moral superiority of those with super powers. They're not just special for being individuals with their own unique space-time and the unreplicable perspective and experience within, like everybody else. No, if everybody's special then nobody's special. The accomplishments that most people achieve, through hard work or study, are mediocrity. Someone born with a superpower that makes practice and exercise immaterial, such as that which others need to win a race, has the unique capacity for greatness.

To put it another way, The Incredibles despises participation trophies, but applauds to celebrate accidents of birth.

This isn't an intended moral of The Incredibles, but not setting to outright tell people that they shouldn't try to achieve greatness if they weren't born great is a very low bar to set. It's more of an underlying assumption throughout the movie. But, for all that, I'm not suggesting a remake.

Whether by intention or not, The Incredibles can be both its own movie and Act I. The first act has the job of establishing the setting and the basis for the conflict to come. The Incredibles has done just that.
Read more... )
The idea comes from my discussion of Amarie's response to Captain America: Civil War. Link right here.

Again, as per previous times I've taken on super heroes, I haven't read the comic books. I'm going, mainly, by the movies. I'm also going by the short-lived cartoon that tried to follow the success of Spiderman in the 90s. Other than that, I'm working with things I've only learned through cultural osmosis. That said, my primary source is the Iron Man movies.

The first Iron Man movie starts with billionaire, playboy, weapons dealer Tony Stark. Tony Stark is a capable salesperson, perhaps a genius level engineer, and has earned precisely none of his fame, wealth, or power. No, really.

Tony Stark was born and raised into the Stark family, which already owned a weapons development company. It was already quite wealthy and already had connections with the US government and military. Tony Stark grew up knowing that he really could do anything he set his mind to, because he had the wealth and connections to override anything that would be a reasonable impediment to someone who was just a genius.

That's all part of it. I mean, you can't blame him for having his privileges. And, his story is, essentially, of recognizing that his actions have consequences on other people and taking responsibility. Good for him... sorta.
Read more... )
I'm certain this movie will be made... probably by HBO. I'm only slightly less sure that this movie will be made with a big mistake.

In the answer to this question, "How did Trump become the Republican Nominee?" the least interesting part is Trump, himself. Someone born to wealth, with a high opinion of himself, and very little to him, if anything, that could even acknowledge any truly humbling concept. We've seen this kind of person before, in both fiction and reality. They're depressing to comprehend and amusing to watch, but they're not all that interesting beyond that.

It's the same reason I couldn't get into The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. One horrible person does horrible things and, at best, that person looks slightly less horrible in relation to the more blatantly horrible people doing more blatantly horrible things... maybe.

No, the far more interesting and instructive story is that of the world around them that allows them to do what they do. In this case, that world is the Republican Party.
Read more... )
Remaking World War Z and Jen and the Holograms. Just freaking respect the source material.

I could easily throw the Percy Jackson series into this, but there's just less detail to go into, there. If you've read the book, you know how the story should go, because that's how the story went.

Really, in general, this shouldn't be a difficult concept. If a fandom loves a story, there's a freaking reason. More detail below the cut.
Read more... )
Repeated Disclaimer: I don't read the comics. I just don't have the money to spend. My main idea of "Batman" is based in Batman: The Animated Series on through Justice League/JLU and even acknowledging Batman Beyond. There's a characteristic of Batman, in these particular fictions, that I find needs more focus in other media.

In the comments of my post on the Silver Age, Smurasaki pointed out Linkara's answer to why Batman doesn't kill the Joker. It's similar to SF Debris's* take on the matter when discussing the Justice League two parter "A Better World". In both cases, it's not our right, as a society, to put that responsibility onto Batman, no more than it's his right to take it on.

That's a good answer for why we shouldn't want Batman to kill the Joker. It's a good answer for why it isn't an injustice for Batman to refuse to kill the Joker.

Red Hood vs Batman** gives an alternate answer. Batman can kill the Joker, but can't stop killing. That's also a good answer. He wouldn't have to become a serial killer over night. But, once you've killed the Joker for the things he'd done or the things he was definitely going to do, how do you justify not killing Marcone? Marcone's ruined lives, taken lives, and it's a given that he will put out more hits on people who's gravest crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and potentially having witnessed something that they might, potentially, report to the police. And, what about Two Face? The only thing that holds him back is the flip of a coin that will, with statistical inevitability, land on the wrong side.

It's a good answer for a mature Batman that knows himself and has had time to see the consequences of his actions. It's a good answer for a Batman that already knows how brutalizing people in order to get answers has come to seem normal.

Yet, at some point, early on in Bruce Wayne's life, when he was making his plans to wage a one-man-war, it's worth exploring the question of why he didn't start. Why, when he didn't have that maturity and self-awareness that can only come with time and self-examination, didn't he start?
Read more... )
Bill is wrong. I'm stating that clearly, right now, with no equivocation. Bill is wrong. I don't want to hear people repeat Bill's argument as though it's true, thinking themselves deep in the deconstruction of comicbooks. More importantly, I don't want movie makers to act with the presumption that Bill's argument represents clarity on Superman.

In Kill Bill: Volume 2, in which we meet the titular Bill that the protagonist wants to kill (I only remember Bill's name because it's in the title), said Bill tells us his theory of Superman. According to Bill, Superman is the real person and Clark Kent is the costume that Superman puts on. This means that Superman is, unintentionally, making a commentary on humanity in relation to himself.

Again, Bill is wrong. That theory isn't there for Bill to be right. That theory is there for Bill to be instructively wrong. Therefore, if you're going to make a movie, remember how very wrong Bill is.
Read more... )
No, I haven't seen this movie. No, as of the typing of this post and the posting, God's Not Dead 2 hasn't even been released, yet. Technically, I could be taking a risk that my assessment of the problems with this movie is incredibly off. In fact, the release date is this Friday, April 1, AKA April Fool's Day. That means that, technically, we could wind up with a movie that is deliberately misrepresented by the trailers.

We could, in fact, get a movie that deliberately shows the events of the first movie and of the trailer to be the misrepresentation of events by a Christian subculture that has a narrative-driven distortion of events... But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The trailers for the first God's Not Dead were pretty spot on for the story line. So, using the trailers for the sequel, this will be the story of a High-school teacher put through some kind of administrative hearing, in which either some judge or some effective prosecutor wants to prove that God is Dead.
Read more... )
The Devil's Advocate, for those who've forgotten, is the movie in which Keanu Reeves plays a small town lawyer with such a winning track record that he's hired by a high-priced, high end, big city law firm. He gets all the trappings of success. And, of course, he works for Satan.

One of the virtues of this movie is that it never plays Al Pacino's character being Satan as a twist to be revealed. It's not stated out loud, but it assumes we already know. With the premise of the movie, the name The Devil's Advocate, and the advertising, we do. So, no need to say it or to pretend to hide it.

Beyond that, this movie is a mass of wasted potential.
Read more... )
The premise for Small Soldiers comes from a complaint that many of us had as children, delivered via Denis Leary rant. The commercials displayed toys that walk and talk on their own. We got hunks of plastic that, if they were top of the line, had arms and legs that could be moved without breaking them off. We were children and it's not like even the rich kids got the tiny sentient being that they could throw into the toy chest when bored, so that disappointment could be overcome... but never entirely die away.

Denis Leary's very wealthy new owner of a toy company has that same disappointment and that brings us to a good premise for a movie. What if a toy company delivered what the commercials promised? What if we got toys that were sentient but didn't derive some kinky satisfaction from making us believe they were lifeless, soulless, inanimate objects. (There, I've just made Toy Story weird for you.)

As premises go, this has a lot of opportunity to it. And, most of that opportunity is wasted.
Read more... )
Lucy is the story of a young woman, suddenly forced into being a drug mule for an international mafia, who gets an overdose of a drug that expands her mind, making her get smarter immediately and become a super-powered nigh-deity. Based on the premise and the look of the drug, there's a good case to be made for Lucy being an unofficial sequel to Limitless, in which someone tests out a drug that makes them much smarter.

Both Lucy and Limitless have the same problem in their premise. The notion that you only use 10% of your brain is... I hesitate to be too mean about this, because in my youth I did buy into the notion for a long while. But, it shows a total lack of neurology knowledge. There is no such thing as a part of your brain that you do not use. That said, this might not be a problem for Lucy, depending on what the movie wants to be.

That is the first definite problem. Lucy doesn't know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a thoughtful consideration on a topic, like Ex Machina? Does it want to be an action movie with a semi-smart premise that allows for creative action, like The Matrix? Lucy doesn't know.

The next problem is that Lucy doesn't put the effort into either choice. A good movie could be both. An okay, but entertaining movie might suffer having either distract from each other. In Lucy, each failure distracts from the other failure.
Read more... )
We started with Beauty and the Beast, which showed us a middle ages village that absolutely must have had personal experience with how expendable the noble class really is. Let's continue with the second most blatant example, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The Wicked Queen does some disturbing evil in this movie. Her motivation is simple and disturbing in itself, to be the most beautiful in the land. This is a queen, mind you, with legal authority over all the land. What's more, she's a queen in Europe, during the middle ages, and (as per at least one prayer scene by Snow White) a Christian country, which means that the official line is that she has divine right to rule. And, her primary motivation is to be the most beautiful.

She regularly checks her magic mirror. When the magic mirror's opinion says someone else might be prettier or "fairer" than she, the only option is murder. She commands a woodsman to kill the one the mirror thinks is the only one, in all the land, fairer than she. When she finds out that didn't work, she tries to do the job, herself.
Read more... )
Disney's had it's Rennaisance. And, like the Rennaisance, it came with an explosion of art, science, and even morality. The moral innovation was expressed in Beauty and the Beast, when the classic hero was made the villain. This was Disney admitting there was a problem with some of their classic movies. The problem they were dealing with, at the time, was that the place they were making for women was not much of a place, with not much room to be an individual.

Well, it's time for Disney to admit that there's another problem.

There's a sin shared by Scar and Jafar and the wicked stepmother and Yzma and Hans. They each made an effort to achieve, for themselves, a higher station.
Read more... )
(The movie, not the TV series... which I may get to.)

Friday the 13th is, perhaps, the birthplace of the classic slasher-flick. The first movie follows some teens in the reopening Camp Crystal Lake. They come in ahead of the crowds to do prep work and, in horror movie fashion, to be unrealistically oversexed. Also in classic horror movie fashion, they die in gruesome manners.

Oh, spoilers ahead.
Read more... )
Page generated Oct. 22nd, 2017 11:51 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios