Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Welcome to Middle-Earth, weary fantasy-lover!
You have the option of following the epic tale of a heroic white guy (of varying height) as he treks around vanquishing evil, dark-skinned barbarians! If you want to watch (or play) a woman who isn’t given the smurfette treatment, too fucking bad! If you want to be a guy who isn’t white as snow and pure as rain – “we don’t like yer kind ’round hurr!”

Orcs                                                                                   Sad-face

Ah yes Mister Hero, and should the forces of ‘darkness’ unite against your ‘heroism’, fear not, for the pure-races will be preserved by the Deus Ex Machina of an invincible army of green white-dude ghosts! Afterall, what could be more heroic than a god-moding cheat code?

But don’t the orcs eat people, oh wise-and-mighty Aleksandr the Great(est)?

Why yes, my curious Judeo-Christian friends! In the same way that I’m sure all black janitors are magic.

Okay, seriously, what is my point?
Why, allow me to answer you, dear hypothetical reader!
Because while this type of review is not my usual fare, I feel it is incumbent upon me(as a geek)  to address this widely acclaimed work of horseshit that has been methodically spreading itself around popular culture like some over-hyped viral outbreak.
Because I was sick and tired of Lord of the Rings by the time the second movie came out (thats Two Towers, not that desiccated Hobbit story arc). Yes, I’ve read the books. No I didn’t like them either but holy SHIT did the racism not sink in until you put that crap on screen!
I’m not just being hyperbolic! If you take a step away from what orcs (every single one, apparently) do, and just look at it in terms of racial issues, why WOULDN’T they rebel against their Caucasian overlords? Orcs are pushed unto a volcanic reservation (and still hunted for sport) and treated like utter monsters by every single ‘goodly’ person without exception. There are apparently NO redeeming qualities to orcs at all. Shit, even the evil drow of better fantasy series have their outliers! (one outcast drow being the moral hero of several series). More than that, all of the ‘civilized’ societies of Middle-Earth have been living in relatively close proximity for ages and yet remain completely segregated even from each other. Which begs the question: What…happened? Was there some great ‘purge’ of half-breeds? Some ‘final solution’ that all the pure-bloods agreed upon? It seems to me that Sauron, is in fact the Abe Lincoln liberator of the orcs (we just happen to be sitting on the Confederate side of history).

sunrise                       The Grand White Wizard leads the charge against the forces of darkness!

My point is, I really don’t give a fuck if Tolkien came up with the archetypal human/elf/dwarf narrative that is still used today by better fantasy writers (he didn’t). On top of the seriously problematic racial overtones, one has to notice the utter lack of notabe female heroes. Tolkien established an oppressive gender heirarchy in his fantasy world for purely peripheral reasons (as opposed to Game of Thrones, for example, which actively explores these issues ad nauseam).
If you can’t turn a critical eye to the blatant failings of your preferred entertainment genre, you are failing your own sensibilities while openly propagating rather jarring racial (nevermind gender) stereotypes for the sake of cheap (and very white) thrills.

femfatale,female,feminism,feminist,fight,movement-8736bed24c128f6ce450693f50716e90_h                                                                 “Give me back my Midol!!!”

Fight Club is a Feminist film.
Hear me out. These are not my words, but of another feminist. Apparently, because the real thing the men in Fight Club rile against is the established patriarchal order, it is in fact, a feminist film (for dude-bros).
“Huh”, said I.
Bob, (testicle-less though he may be) is clearly very in touch with his emotions, and this is not seen as a bad thing, but surely that alone does not make it a ‘feminist’ film. In the same way the overt flirtation the film has with the homoerotic aspects of male sexuality does not really make it pro-LBGT, right?
(Okay so that was a crap joke…in the same way that 300 was TOTALLY not homoerotic).

film-300_005                                                        Soak in the manliness!

Even as I enjoyed the nuances of the film’s dichotomy, the way the sole female character was treated by the males in the film always troubled me.
They clearly resented being “a generation raised by women”.
Fight Club itself is exclusionary to women (as a combat instructor, that’s some serious — no sarcasmBULLSHIT right there).
Further, the male ‘protagonists’ state that they, “don’t think another woman is what [they] need”.

300: Rise of an Empire Eva Green as Artemisia             Everything Eva Green touches, no matter how shitty, turns into Gold. No discussion.

Fight Club is usually seen as a schizophrenic thriller — a single tear-drop away from an MRA manifesto — especially since for the majority of the film, the main character fixates on openly hating the sole female lead of the movie (while simultaneously sexually fixating on her).
However, misogynistic as the male characters may be, the point of the film clearly illustrates the hatred/obsession with women as the focal point of the film; and when you think about it, that is some surprisingly honest shit from such a popular piece of cinema.
That view alone, intentional or not, makes this a film worth taking a second look at — difficult though it may be to wade through the sexism — in order to see the misguided angst of the men under the patriarchal system they, themselves erected from their own twisted and confused, perspective.

I leave you with a kiss:

mal3Calm down, its just a movie.

Its not just a movie.
Maleficent is proof-positive that fantastic children’s cartoons like Wreck It Ralph and Frozen out of the Disney workshop are not an accident but part of an empowering new direction for the studio and by extension, Hollywood.
The movie was better than I could have hoped (and I hoped for a lot), free from all the mandatory (old) Disney sappiness and did not even falter in the third act, as too many otherwise great films too often do. I will NOT spoil anything about this film just yet as it is still out in theaters, but you owe it to yourself to see this (and if you happen to pick up any children on the way to the theater, bring them along).
The full review will be posted when the movie has had a chance to make the rounds. For now watch this trailer. Then go see it in theaters and support it with your money. Seriously. Its that good.

Overall, the film Man of Steel is decent at what it is supposed to be (minus the insane anti-logic of both of Supe’s fathers). One teaches Clark to distrust humanity at all costs, something that Super then spends the entire movie trying to overcome, while the other goes out of his way to make sure his species goes extinct (except for his son)…as opposed to the ‘bad guy’ who actually wants to save his people (except for the underclass). Quite the planet of heroes.

Unsurprisingly, the ‘new and improved’ Lois Lane in the film Man of Steel is a complete disappointment. Yet another useless female character placed there solely to demonstrate how ‘great and powerful’ the male character is and then inexplicably find romance where there is none by randomly make out for a solid fifteen. Personally, I find that kind of ‘by-the-hollywood-book’ unnecessarily overt classification of the protagonist’s (hetero)sexuality something that seems almost always out of place. Alien, if you will. But like, in a really tediously pointed sort of way.

lemme look at you, gurl
“Now, hold your head high while I show you how to kick your boyfriend’s ass like a proper lady.”

The villainous commander played by the talented Antje Traue however, was a pleasant surprise. Though scarce in dialogue and stoic by character, her presence and demeanor were a refreshing and much needed contrast to the female lead who’s usefulness involved more saving by strange men than Princess Peace and more fawning over the pretty boy than a Twilight convention.

Worth watching just for that.

Oh, and Colonel Christopher Meloni saved the planet while Clark was busy dicking around.

You’re welcome.

I’m not going to whine about how they abandoned cannon and continuity. Instead, I am going to whine (briefly) about how much I fucking hate casual action films in general and how disgusting it is to see a cerebral series made into yet another shoot em up–tits in your face–gratuitous action flick. I loath the type of shit films that get released for the general popcorn munching masses. Mostly because those films aren’t trying to target anyone like me and therefore I feel lonely and left out. *sob*

In my very isolated opinion, when one decides to make a film, one should first ask whether it should be made at all. Why are you making it? What is it you’re trying to accomplish? What story are you trying to tell? All I see when I watch these films is money-grubbing and lens flares.

Highlights of the movies
“Stop exploding, you cowards!”

Money is your reason? FINE. I don’t blame you. I blame the people who pay to see your garbage. Just don’t expect me (a self-respecting, sentient, bipedal humanoid) to bend over and enjoy it.

I don’t care how flashy (literally) or fast-paced or explodey the films are. Nor do I care about how many ass-shots the random new useless female character had. And I certainly don’t give a flying fuck about who the films themselves were made by. If I’m going to judge people by their work, I will judge them on a case by case basis. This case? FUCK J.J. Abrams.

Oh, and fuck you other-trekkies. You can’t just say ‘its a good movie but a bad star trek film’. It doesn’t work that way. Its either good at what it is or it isn’t any good at all. (it isn’t).
Look, I get it: the originals are dated. They needed to reach new markets.
So instead of reviving ST with a sense of dignity and a story about social commentary that ST is famous for, they shit on any and all military or diplomatic ideals, make it a brainless action movie, and fill the cast with professional teenager-lookalikes. Somehow this makes me think of Tiny Toons — its the same characters just painted for a much younger, much dumber audience (not that the Toons were particularly clever to begin with).
The whole thing feels like a prepubescent boy’s wet dream. “Fuck the rules, cultural differences, societal issues, gender boundaries, racial tensions, and discipline — give the keys to the starship to the brash idiot. Oh and throw in a good measure of anti-logic and gaping plot holes.”

Then again, to be fair, I was never a Kirk fan.

Set a course for SEXAH
“You win again, gravity!”

Oh yeah. The plot holes. Look, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief in so far as the universe I’m entering is demanding…the aliens and the star fleet and the spaceships. But when you break your own fucking logic every godsdamned movie, its just BAD WRITING. Its called pulling a Deux Ex Machina out of your ass. STOP IT!
I’m not going to list all these plot holes, frankly because others have done it Already and Better.

You like these movies? You think they’re ‘fun’? Great. Have your fun. I’m all for brainless euphoria.
Wait, nevermind. I think they’re the same old tired shit bereft of interesting villains, relatable heroes, ‘free’ of the logic of their own universes and are therefore unwatchable, uninteresting, counter-creative trash. Such are the worlds you pay to see.

HOOAH
Die for your country? Of course! Basic burial rights? Maaaaaaaaaaaybe.

I’ve written about the religious discrimination that Pagans face in mass-media outlets of the United States before.
Pagans do not worship the devil, but peacefully praise varying aspects of nature and humanity in reverence of faiths that far outdate more modern, monotheistic, patriarchal religions that were conversely born of vast histories of violence. The USA military only very recently allowed fallen soldiers of a Pagan affiliation to bare a pentacle (a pentagram with a circle around it) on their tombstones. Pagans, in all their various faiths (Wicca, Asartu, and Druidism among others), make up roughly 2% of the United States’ population. Being true religions, with histories of extensive and brutal genocide done unto them by followers of the other more pervasive faiths,  it is therefore somewhat baffling to me that they are relegated to the same niche in modern entertainment as werewolves and vampires (who, aside from some unfortunate cases of porphyric haemophilia or very widespread body hair) are most certainly not historically repressed groups.

There have been quite a few ‘evil witch’ movies in recent years, and I’d like to discuss them just a tad.

Wicked Fun
Beauty = Good, Ugly = Evil. Got it.

There’s a new Oz movie out now. Its REALLY “deep”. But thats already two fragmented sentences, so enough about the reboot or prequel or whatever it is, I want to talk about the original. Sort of.

In the book ‘Wicked’, the official sequel of Wizard of Oz, the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ was born with a terrible deformity (including a horrible allergy to the most common substance on earth) for which she was shunned and abused merely by misfortune of looking different from the other characters. Meanwhile, Glenda the ‘Good’ Witch (Whitey McHonkyKlan) laughed in Elphaba’s face (Wicked Witch of the West’s non-slave name) after her sister was killed by a falling house. Hilarity ensued as residents of Oz gleefully celebrated the horrible death, singing, dancing, and declaring it a national holiday.
Glena asks the occupant of the house if she is a ‘good’ witch or a ‘bad’ witch.

Dorothy, in possession of the sensitivity of a three year old child, responds that she can’t be a witch because witches are ‘old and ugly.’ Glinda, in possession of the logic of an Alzheimer’s patient points out that ‘only evil witches are ugly’. (And remember only bad people are disabled)” –

Glenda then steals the shoes off Elphaba’s sister’s still-warm corpse, and quickly topped that act of in-your-face body-looting by way of hiring a gullible kid (simple-minded Dorothy) to assassinate Elphaba herself (however, not before prema-magicing the shoes that are Elphaba’s rightful inheritance on the poor child). Glenda further endangers Dorothy by telling her to leave Munchkinland (the only place where Elphaba has no power) to see a charlatan wizard instead of simply telling her how to heel-click her way home.
But the devious level of fucks-not-given of the characters isn’t the issue. Nor is it the author’s pointed allegories of racism in a story (that my twisted mind sees as) full of murder and revenge. The problem is the unquestioning, blind acceptance of the audience when taking Glenda’s chirpy side of the story…which is basically just ‘look, her skin is dark, laugh at her then kill her with allergy overdose!’
Thus, instead of the usual ‘burn the witch for her suggested evil’ trope, we have ‘melt the innocent deformed woman’ as the celebrated result.
And so evil dolled up as goodly triumphs once more.

But what about other films?

More witch evilness
A whole new article is required to delve into the fucknuttery of Disney’s many creations.

Well there’s the usual, like Hocus Pocus with three evil (but silly) witches go about sucking the souls from children. The Craft where three evil  (but angsty) witches go about causing a general ruckus but this time one witch is ‘good’ and fights them (actually like this movie). There is the new Hansel and Gretle: Witch Hunters, where the main antagonists are three evil (but dumb) witches who’s plan is snacking on childrens, but this time TWO good witches try to stop them…(although it should be mentioned that unlike in The Craft, being a witch AND the alignment of said witch is not a choice but an accident of birth, meaning the countless hundreds of ‘bad’ witches slaughtered in-movie goes from disturbing to genocid-y very quickly if you think about it — DON’T THINK ABOUT IT!!). There’s also Season of the Witch, which intriguingly enough starts out sort of mournfully showing the execution of some accused witches by the hands of the Church in the Medieval Ages (when this actually happened to innocent people)…..but then demonstrates the Church was TOTALLY right to kill those bitches by the thousands because they ARE possessed by the devil!… and so is the rest of the movie! Whoo! Go Church! Our saviors! What would we ever do without you?

Just imagine literally any other historic group being dehumanized in this fashion for entertainment value. Imagine, if you will, Nazis being commercially portrayed as saviors of humanity because they ‘saved’ us from the Jews. Or the same for the Klan or slavers in regards to African-Americans. Sounds like hyperbole? Sounds extreme? Sounds like you haven’t heard of The Eternal Jew or Birth of a Nation or archives upon archives of others because the only thing that keeps this type of bullshit out of our movie theaters and by extension our (mainstream) cultures, is that enough people give a fuck to boycott it. Apparently those who identify with witchcraft got passed over for that moderate decency. Thats too bad, because people sure do enjoy an awful lot of their holidays.

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*I will strive to keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum

WDSMPI RALPH STANDEE NO.2.vc6

_________”I’m bad and thats good. I will never be good and thats not bad. There is no one I’d rather be but me.

This is a movie about video games created by Disney and it is ASTOUNDINGLY well done. It is an animated film that takes itself seriously while preforming delightful comedy and surprisingly, at times even manages to pluck at the old heartstrings. I went to see this with my little sister and while she couldn’t stop laughing I couldn’t stop grinning–we both thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic movie and tribute to video game fans everywhere. But its not all in-jokes–though there are many hilarious and much-appreciated references, one does not need to be a video game expert to appreciate this film.
I am not going to spoil the plot or go into too much detail about the movie itself, I’m sure other more qualified critics can do a better job of summarizing this tail of rebellion and self-acceptance. Instead I will focus on the feminist aspects of this film, and more specifically the four major characters and critique them for the well-constructed heroes that they are.
In the beginning we see gender roles being challenged almost immediately but in the most casual, subtle ways. Such as two boys playing a ‘girly’ racing game and a girl playing a ‘manly’ shoot ’em up game. Its not just a role reversal though because the girl later wonders over to the racing game and wants to play that too, so it is having your cake and eating it too. Now, on to the characters:
RALPH
wreck-it-ralph-ralph

I actually don’t have too much to say about the main character. He is a fun protagonist to watch. Ralph strives for acceptance and as a result rebels against his own nature or ‘programming’. He is a ‘bad guy’ who wants to do good, mostly for the sake of the recognition of his peers who shun him. As he goes along, Ralph usually ends up fudging things up and causing more harm then good. He is saved by the little girl he made friends with and then hurt earlier in the show. This is a REFRESHING exit from Disney’s usual damsel in distress scenario. Ralph is ultimately possessed by a need for redemption and simultaneously seeks self-acceptance.


VANELLOPE

The_Rotoscopers_-_Wreck-It_Ralph_-_Vanellope_von_Schweetz
This little dynamo is a ‘glitch’, basically meaning she has abilities outside the norm and is therefore even more of an outcast from her society (game) than Ralph is. She is spunky, energetic, somewhat annoying, and is generally a lovable brat, challenging the status quo just like her big brute friend Ralph. Unlike Ralph, she has no interest in being a hero, but rather wants to be a racer–a part of her community. She does not so much care about acceptance so much as achieving her potential. Vanellope is an invigorating on-screen character with a delightfully twisted side. At one point she sheds the confines of society (a dress) and remain herself, while teasing those who used to torment her.

FELIX
1735WIR_VideoGame_Felix_Pose

Felix is a typical goody two-shoes kind of guy. While his powers are undoubtedly useful and his official role is ‘the hero’, he is in this role-reversal story, a support character. Felix is the epitome of a submissive personality, bouncing his own existence off of the presence of others. He fixes what Ralph breaks, is the hero for the people of his community and pines after and is a (at one time literal) punching bag for the domineering woman he has a crush on. His interaction with that woman is of particular interest and is the point where his character shines through the best. Unlike his friends on this list, he IS the status quo, yet simultaneously serves as a catalyst for the progress of others. He has no real conflict or fault to overcome, which is unfortunate as he could potentially have had more depth, (perhaps if they had taken the time to illustrate the pressures of everyone expecting him to succeed or how it can be lonely on the top too) instead they compare the worst time of his life to any old day that Ralph has, thereby making him little more then a good-natured hanger-on. Instead of redemption, fulfillment or self-love, Felix instead strives to uplift others and make everyone around him happy.

SERGEANT CALHOUN

Wreck-It-Ralph-Jane-Lynch
She is the ‘tough chick’ character on a quest to destroy the evil alien bugs of her world. Calhoun is single-minded in her mission to keep the bugs (literal viruses) from spreading to the other games. Though totally capable and without a doubt the most badass of the group, she seems to desire some reciprocation–someone she can count on. Calhoun, like Vanellope, are their own characters. Reflecting on the film it feels like Ralph and Felix are no more or less important then their female counterparts. This is a story about the dames as well as the dudes and no character feels overshadowed. Calhoun’s ending in particular made me laugh almost to the point of tears.

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

Calhoun marries Felix. Wearing a dress just like she always wanted (unlike Vanellope, who is in her own right the BEST Disney Princess to date).

This film is cute and touching and succeeds in creating not just strong female characters, but compelling ones as well. The ladies of this game world manage to grow (level?) and keep their individualism intact. That rarity in cinema alone is worth all the praises this movie deserves in spades.