You know a movie has done well by you when you spend the next few hours after seeing it wanting to beat a man to a bloody pulp.
And just like that, the last real quality YA adaptation franchise came to an end. Have fun with The 5th Wave and Divergent, plebes. Continue reading
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
— Isaiah 2:4
It’s been fairly hard to muster up the energy or desire to write in the past week or so, what with the world still reeling from the Paris attacks (*Cough* While ignoring bombing in Beirut *Cough*) and Western racism rearing its ugly head once again. It seems like every visit to the internet ends in depression and the need for a stiff drink. And that’s just before witnessing the nightmare that is every comment section right now.
On November 20, Netflix and Marvel will release their second television show together after the first season of Daredevil, which everybody loved, and if you think you didn’t love it, stop lying to yourself. This new show will focus on America’s sweetheart, the international icon known as Jessica Jones.
Cheerful, isn’t it? You know… If abject human misery cheers you up.
Since Jessica Jones definitely qualifies as one of the more obscure characters in the Marvel Comics library, and her amazing-looking show comes out in exactly one week, I figured this was as good a time as any to put off doing part two of that DeathMatch that I started whenever the fuck ago and continue my “WTF!?!?” series. Both first parts of the entries I did for Deadpool and the Suicide Squad can be found here and here, respectively.
I’m not one to delay (*Cough*), so let’s get started.
First appearances: Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944, as Patsy Walker) The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976, as Hellcat)
Created by: Ruth Atkinson (Patsy Walker) David Michelinie & Mike Harris (Hellcat)
Portrayed by: Rachael Taylor (headLand, Transformers, Red Dog)
Other portrayals: N/A
One of the few remaining original Marvel characters from the 40’s that Marvel (Then known as “Timely Comics”) hasn’t put out of their misery, Patsy Walker started out as some Betty/Veronica-esque character in one of those comics aimed at teenage girls that is almost certainly horribly sexist in retrospect.
Later, Patsy appeared in Fantastic Four cementing her as a canonical character in the Marvel Universe. It was later revealed that Patsy was a child model and actress whose mother drew those Betty & Veronica-esque comics, whose characters were based on Patsy and her friends. Not necessarily the biggest fan of having her childhood exploited for the sake of a few catty giggles from teenyboppers, Patsy preferred to devote her time to admiring superheroes, even having a crush on Reed Richards for a while.
After graduating from high school, Patsy married her fictional/non-fictional boyfriend, Robert Baxter, and embarked on a glamorous career as a homemaker. This may be the least progressive “WTF?!?!” entry ever. On cue, here are more pictures of Reed Richards being a misogynist!
Eventually drifting away from her husband, Patsy left his sorry ass and miraculously linked up with the Avengers. Tagging along with the team while they investigated criminal links at the corporation that her ex-husband worked security for, Patsy, a natural athlete, apparently, adopted a costume formerly worn by Tigra before she let her new uniform be designed by a hormonal 16-year old. After the mission proceeded successfully, Patsy joined the Avengers as Hellcat. One wild career on and off the Avengers later (Which included her getting manipulated by Damion Hellstrom, the son of Satan, into committing suicide, and subsequently coming back to life), she is currently working as a private investigator for Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) and has a new solo series coming out in December. As far as I know, she’s not going to become Hellcat in the Jessica Jones TV show, being a former child actress and childhood friend of Jessica’s, and if recent trailers are any indication, she won’t become Hellcat until at least the second season.
Honestly, I’m just wondering how they’re justifying using the name “Patsy” in a modern context.
First appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972)
Created by: Archie Goodwin & John Romita Sr.
Portrayed by: Mike Colter (Million Dollar Baby, Halo)
Other portrayals: Lil’ JJ (The Super Hero Squad) Ogie Banks (Ultimate Spider-Man, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes), Christopher B. Duncan (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), Ryokan Koyanagi (Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers), Greg Eagles (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance), Robert Wisdom (Spider-Man: Web of Shadows) Khary Payton (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2), James C. Mathis III (Marvel Heroes), John Eric Bentley (Lego Marvel Super Heroes)
A young gangbanger from Harlem, Carl Lucas realized that his lifestyle was affecting his family in a negative way, and decided to get his life back on track, seeking legitimate employment and going straight, though he still maintained contact with his buddy, Willis Stryker , who was rising rapidly through the ranks of their gang, the Rivals.
When Stryker’s girlfriend. Reva Connors, broke up with him because of his career choices, she sought consolation from Lucas. Convinced that Lucas had conspired to steal her away from him, Stryker decided to frame him, planting heroin on him and calling the cops. Understandably pissed about this development, Lucas contacted the Maggia (Because”Mafia” was trademarked, apparently) and put a hit out on Stryker, but the hit was botched, and Reva was killed while Stryker survived.
In prison, Cage was drafted into a Super Soldier cell-regeneration experiment, because apparently that’s standard procedure in the prisons of the Marvel Universe (Come to think of it, that explains a lot of things,). The experiment was sabotaged by a racist guard who held a grudge against him, and Lucas ended up with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Breaking out of prison, Lucas changed his name to “Luke Cage”, adopted the horrendous (Yet not exactly incorrect, per se) moniker of “Power Man” and became, as the title of his debut comic would suggest, a “Hero for Hire”, which is exactly what it sounds like.
While Cage started off as a profiteer, he eventually became a legitimate ally of superheroes like Daredevil and Spider-Man, and even had short stints on the Defenders and the Fantastic Four. Along with his good friend Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, cage formed the wildly successful “Heroes for Hire” organisation, but when that eventually fell through, Cage joined the the Anti-Registration Avengers (More on that when Civil War comes out), fighting Norman Osborn during Dark Reign and leading a team of Avengers (As well as the Thunderbolts) for a period called the “Heroic Age”. Cage has risen from a character that was little more than a cynical cash grab directed at the blaxploitation audience has ascended to… at least C-list status in the Marvel Universe. Although he’s getting the bump from the Cinematic Universe, so that’ll help him out.
To be concluded in Part 2
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
-Neil Gaiman, Sandman
Everyone’s favourite alcoholic, mass-murdering man-whore is going back to the basics! And by “basics”, I don’t mean “Scottish accent, casual 60’s sexism and villains/women with extremely implausible names. ”
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Story by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Based on: James Bond by Ian Fleming
Genre: Spy. Duh.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Plot: After an unauthorized assassination mission in Mexico City gets slightly out of hand, James Bond (Daniel Craig) decides to investigate a shadowy, malevolent organisation named Spectre that seems to be controlling world events is somehow linked to him for unknown reasons. Ignoring M (Ralph Fiennes), he decides to venture forth into the world to find out what Spectre’s deal is. Meanwhile, back at home, M is involved in a power struggle with C (Andrew Scott), the head of the Joint Intelligence Services, who wants to get rid of the “00” program and institute a global intelligence organisation that would make the NSA look like kids’ stuff. Shenanigans ensue
If you were to take the opening Mexico City sequence of Spectre, cut out everything that comes after it, and present just that scene as a James Bond short film, I would be absolutely thrilled with it. This sequence is incredibly aesthetically pleasing, with an action scene that ranks among the best in the franchise, a tracking shot that would make Martin Scorsese feel a slight twinge of jealousy, and Day of the Dead imagery that generally looks awesome. It was amazing, and as the first act clipped along, Spectre had me by the throat. It was so much goddamn fun.
And then the second and third acts happened, making that first act one of the more prominent examples of cinematic blue balls in the history of film.
Before I start shitting on Spectre, I should point out that it’s really not even that bad of a movie. It’s not particularly good, sure, but it’s not like it’s overwhelmingly bad, either. Instead, it finds itself floating in the purgatorial ether, being not good enough to overwhelmingly praise, but also not so bad that I can go Fantastic Four on it. That’s frustrating for me, seeing how I’m pretty much incapable of conveying any emotion on a movie besides exaggerated positivity or overwhelming hatred, but such is life.
There are things to like about Spectre thouh, and they do help make up for some of its many faults. Daniel Craig continues to impress as a Darker and Grittier™ Bond who, interestingly enough, is referred to as being an “assassin” frequently throughout the movie, which I kind of like, as the job title kind of fits the tone that the Craig movies are going for. At this point, it’s a toss-up between him and Sean Connery in the race for my Favourite Bond, but I’m leaning towards Craig, as he kind of looks like he could break Connery in half with only his pinky finger.
The other cast members also do a solid job, although that compliment comes with some caveats, which I’ll get into later.
As was the case in the other recent Bond films (Even, you know, that one. Please don’t make me speak its name), the action, when it does occur-
-is extremely well-directed by Sam Mendes, cementing his newfound reputation as an excellent action director (Which is what we had all predicted after watching American Beauty, obviously). Even more impressive is the gorgeous cinematography from the excellently named Hoyte van Hoytema and the score from Thomas Newman (Although admittedly, when the bare minimum you’re expected to do in the score is this, that simplifies the composer’s job of pumping up the audience, I would expect)
With that out of the way, do you remember that obvious foreshadowing from a few paragraphs ago? Well, it’s time for it to come into play!
While the action in Spectre is extremely impressive, these kinds of scenes become few and far between from the second half onward, and the fact that this movie has a two-and-a-half hour long runtime doesn’t help one bit. In the meantime, we’re left with Bond’s relationship with Lea Seydoux’s character, his relationship with Christoph Waltz’s character, and the M vs. C subplot, straight out of Mission:Impossible- Rogue Nation. Out of those three, the last one is probably the most entertaining, but that’s only because M and Q have some funny lines in them, it’s not because that subplot is anything worth writing home about.
Lea Seydoux is a great actress, and I’m glad she’s getting a lot of work now, but I wanted to punch her character in the face every time she appeared on screen. I’m still waiting for an explanation of how she mattered to the plot in any extent, and her whining about her daddy issues and how Bond is an asshole for saving her are both tiresome tropes that should’ve died out in the Mesozoic Era during which they were conceived.
Some of the drama in the movie also revolves around the question of “Is this the girl who’ll finally be the one to win Bond’s heart?” Fuck that. It’s not so much that this trope bothers me if it’s done well (As in: Every single spy movie known to man-fucking-kind), but if THIS was the girl to turn Bond from a badass killing machine into, I dunno, a fucking soccer dad, I would probably lose all faith in humanity.
And now we get to the villain. I could name a million reasons why SPECTRE and Franz Oberhauser make no fucking sense and are generally stupid and idiotic. I’m going to name two.
First of all, Christoph Waltz in any role should be a home run (Just ask Quentin Tarantino!), especially as a villain. He isn’t helped out by the plot though, and he kind of comes across as though he’s phoning it in. It doesn’t exactly help that he appears in exactly three scenes, and we have to wait almost two goddamned hours just to see him again. We sure have learned a lot of backstory about him, though! A backstory that is so phoned by the Powers That Be that my eyes rolled so far into the back of my head that I can’t see anymore. I’m actually screaming this into a tape recorder, and it’s going to be written into the blog by a street urchin that I’ve kept chained up in my basement for this very purpose.
Where was I? Oh. Right.
Second of all, even with this half-assed backstory, we learn very little about him. How did he become the leader of Spectre? What does he hope to get out of Spectre? How did he get his fearsome reputation? And how exactly did he and Spectre engineer the events of Casino Royale, the second one, and Skyfall? Wouldn’t you like to know? So the fuck would I! After the sophisticated, intricate storytelling of Skyfall, I guess the filmmakers decided audiences would be happy with a villain whose character is even more minimalistic than those from the early Bond films, with none of the personality.
I dunno, maybe audiences are gonna be fine with it. I’m happy with whining pretentiously from my high horse, though.
Overall: I enjoyed Spectre for the things that it does well, but it’s shortcomings are just too numerous for me to call it a “good” movie. Look at it way: 2 out of 4 in baseball ain’t bad!!!
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”