Dysfunctional to Functional Family: Tony Stark, Obadiah Stane, Spiderman, and Morgan Stark @ComicBook @BrandonDavisBD @Rowaenthe @TheJeffBridges @RobertDowneyJr #IronMan #QuarantineWatchParty #MCU #Spiderman

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June 30 was the first ComicBook.com quarantine watch party in quite some time. As always, I made a few more Twitter connections through the conversations that came from it. These conversations inspired three posts for my blog, this being the first one.

My posts aren’t about getting clicks. If no one read any of my posts, I wouldn’t really care. Writing them is more about catharsis than fame. Moreover, I’m no film student, psychologist, or sociologist, so I can’t break down the science of movie-making or human behavior. Instead, these posts are about analyzing the themes used within the movies due to my personal connection to their messages (accordingly, YMMV). As a result, my favorite posts have been about Nebula’s Redemption, my comparison of Shazam! and Guardians of the Galaxy, and others dealing with a particular theme. That theme is realizing and accepting that your idealized vision of family is complete nonsense, breaking away from those abusive relationships, and appreciating the family you didn’t realize was in front of you the whole time (though for me personally, the third has been elusive). Not everyone has these experiences, but it’s a recurring theme in superhero movies. I never considered that the first Iron Man movie implicitly raised issues related to this theme.

Father Figure

Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) father died, and then Tony disappeared for a while. This isn’t surprising considering how self-absorbed he is, but when he returned to Stark Industries, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) must have served as a father-figure for him. Before I go forward, I want to mention . . .

Tony didn’t show as much respect for Obadiah as you would want to see from your own child, but Tony didn’t ever show much respect for any authority figure, so it’s still fair to assume Obadiah acted as an adoptive father to him. That is, Obadiah wasn’t merely a coworker, boss, or even family friend. Assuming that, it must have been absolutely devastating for Tony when he realized Obadiah had called for his removal from the company, and even worse, his death. That betrayal would hold back Tony’s growth, which became a slow burn throughout the Infinity War saga. It helps make Tony’s grief over Black Widow’s death as believable as that of any other character despite his never overtly expressing that grief or deep feelings for her. It wasn’t until the first Avengers that Tony showed a willingness to “lay down on a wire” for his allies, but his ego made sure that no one would forget that. Somehow, it was still about him . . . until he started to understand fatherhood in Captain America: Civil War.

Peter Parker and Morgan Stark

In Civil War, Tony latched onto Peter Parker/Spiderman. At first, he was looking for a little more firepower to take down Team Cap ®©TM℗SM, but by Infinity War it was clear he had a genuine emotional attachment to Peter.

By Avengers: Endgame, he was devastated because he “lost the kid,” but he got a second chance in that film. Tony’s life became about Pepper and their daughter, Morgan. He was reluctant to restore the Vanished because doing so threatened what he had finally found after a lifetime of searching, even if it meant giving up on his filial figure, Peter.

Tony’s progression from self-absorbed brat to the guy who’d “make the sacrifice play” was 22 movies long probably because of Obadiah more than anything else we saw, but Tony made it there, and that wound up saving half the universe.

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Okay Watch: He Never Died @henryrollins @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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This movie has been sitting in my Netflix queue for years, but until the pandemic, I never bothered to watch it. This movie is weird. Henry Rollins plays an cannibalistic immortal (I’ll leave it at that) with the personality of a lump of clay. (This isn’t a slam on Mr. Rollins; it’s by design.) He gets involved with a waitress, his estranged daughter, and the mob. All three of those come together in a finale that doesn’t give us closure, instead relying on a reveal of his identity as the major source of dramatic release. This is a weird one, probably worth my two hours, but just barely.

As always, YMMV.

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Lawyer Battle: Harvey Dent v. Harvey #Birdman @KesselJunkie #Batman #AdultSwim

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I have a request!

My cousin, kesseljunkie, asked me to address a burning question.

This is a simple question with a simple answer: Harvey Birdman seems to be in over his head, but the fact is that he always wins in the end. Harvey Dent, on the other hand, is the chief officer for justice in the most corrupt city on Earth. He’s completely ineffective, and in hindsight doesn’t have the emotional or moral strength to withstand his disfigurement. Did Harvey Birdman go on a crime spree during his cancer scare? I don’t think so.

Okay, so that was four sentences. I dragged it out because I didn’t want you to feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth.

Birdman!!!

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Good Watch: White Lines @laurajhaddock @martamilans @TomRhysHarries @DanielMays9 @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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White Lines is the story of a search for answers. As the characters find their answers, it opens old wounds and creates new ones.

Twenty years prior, the older brother of Zoe Collins (Laura J. Haddock) was murdered and dumped in deserted land, and now she’s ensnared in a web of drugs, assaults, and other assorted crimes. The first episode was uneven, but once you’ve got the basic premise explained, it picks up. At times, I was squirming in my seat. Episode 8 is a killer in that regard.

White Lines also stars Marta Milans of whom I’ve become a fan of late, Nuno Lopes, a perfectly-cast Daniel Mays (Tivik!), and Tom Rhys Harries as the long-deceased Axel Collins. The only thing I don’t like about the show is that characters often speak in Spanish (it takes place in Spain), so I can’t take my eyes off the screen for a second (at those times). However, I blame myself for having never learned Spanish. I’d say I deserve that pain in the ass.

Season 1 is on Netflix. As always, YMMV.

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D&D with Celebrities @ChrisPerkinsDnD @DavidKHarbour @BrandonJRouth @karengillan @PomKlementieff @ #DnD #RPG #DnDLive2020

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work. Today, its a video from last weekend of several actors playing D&D with Chris Perkins behind the screen.

I still haven’t watched the whole video, but I can tell you that, while all four of them got the hang of building character concepts and role-playing (duh; they’re actors), David Harbour clearly understood how to play these kinds of games. At one point, he spontaneously helped along a confused Pom Klementieff as if he were an experienced DM.

There were some funny moments throughout. Here’s one.

I’m not a fan of watching other people play, but if you are, there were several other celebrity games that weekend, all of which are on the D&D YouTube channel.

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Favorite Watch: Aqua Teen Hunger Force @DanaSnyder @DaveWillis2 @hbomax #ATHF #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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With HBO Max going live, you must have known it was only a matter of time before I started re-watching this series. My license plate tag is Frylock. After a 24-year absence from Dungeons and Dragons, the first character I created was Frylock, the half-elf warmage/rogue. I’ve recreated Frylock in 4th and 5th Edition. My blog is … well, you knew that. Too bad Carey Means isn’t on Twitter.

And as much as I like series with 30-minute episodes, one with 12- to 13-minute episodes is even easier to watch. I can watch one or two before I leave for work in the morning.

As always, YMMV, but if you don’t like this show, you’re objectively wrong. You might as well say you hate Star Trek, you dipshit.

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How I Watch Movies @KesselJunkie #movie

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Yesterday my cousin, kesseljunkie, was mulling over second chances. Specifically, he was theorizing as to why we give things, especially movies, a second chance. He gave two reasons (you’re going to have to click through to read them); I responded in the comments with a third (edited for spelling).

Here’s a third option that may very well be unique to me (or extremely rare; I dunno). By way of example, leading up to the Dark Knight Rises, I heard lots of rumors that Marion Cotillard was playing Talia al Ghul. I read up on who that character was. Nevertheless, SPOILER ALERT the moment she stabbed Batman, I was shocked for an instant. That’s because my brain purposefully blanks out everything I’ve heard so that I can watch a movie as it unfolds with no preconceptions, spoilers, etc. As a puzzle nerd, it also allows me to solve the mystery if there is one.

This comes from my copyright background, or perhaps my attraction to copyright is based on this personality quirk (i.e., chicken and egg). When analyzing for infringement, you do both an intrinsic (how does it feel?) and extrinsic (let’s break down the science) analysis of a song to determine whether it’s infringement. My first run at a movie is intrinsic — I either like it or I don’t — and each subsequent viewing is extrinsic. I try to figure out *what* made me like it (or hate it in the rare occasion I watch a hated movie again). I also try to discover things I missed, and perhaps experience the two things you mention. They probably apply to me as well.

But that’s just me, and there’s nothing wrong with that. YMMV.

This may explain why my rating of movies is so eccentric.

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Good Watch: #Hush @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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The premise: A deaf and mute writer (played by Kate Siegel) lives in a home in the woods. She enjoys the isolation over her former life in the city. A man in a mask arrives threatening to kill her. Hush is less than 90 minutes long, so it’s no surprise that on 25 minutes in, you see the killer’s face. There’s no time to spare. 93/73

Her disability didn’t seem to play an important role in the movie other than to add a bit of color to the story. This had me thinking: What it would be like if the movie had absolutely no audio? The protagonist is deaf, and we’re supposed to step inside her shoes and feel her fear. What better way to relate to her than to experience the events from her true perspective?

Overall, the cast is good, but the writing fell flat, and I felt like they ran out of things to say, which would explain its 82-minute runtime (includes credits). We’re never given the killer’s motivation, but he’s so incompetent it appears he doesn’t want to win. Fortunately for him, everyone was incompetent, making all the wrong moves at almost every step. Perhaps that was necessary, as the slightest bit of competence would have cut the movie length to 15 minutes. The killer is played by John Gallagher, Jr., who I’ve always liked, but he’s never played an intimidating character as far as I know. There’s good reason for that. I wasn’t at all intimidated despite the neck tattoo, which was obviously a cheap attempt to buff him. At least the character he played was self-aware in this regard.

I don’t understand why it received such good scores on Rotten Tomatoes (93 from the critics and 73 from the audience), but I seem to be alone on this one. What do I know?

It wasn’t clever, original, or scary, which is all it tried to be, but in the time it took you to read this post, you could have watched the movie. As always, YMMV, and cats don’t give a shit.

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Good Watch: #Fractured @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Sam Worthington has done a few movies for Netflix. I haven’t enjoyed any of them until now. This one I did. Worthington plays a man on a Thanksgiving road trip with his wife and daughter. There’s an incident, and he has to rush his daughter to the hospital. He’s told only one of them may go back with the daughter during treatment, and he defers to his wife. After a brief nap, he wakes up and asks for a status report. The doctors and staff say that his wife and daughter were never there. Then the real story begins.

This didn’t end the way I was expecting, and while a bit of a strain on logic, it was a refreshing change of pace. As always, YMMV.

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Eye of the Beholder @GOGcom #videogame #QuarantineLife

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I recently rediscover the classic (1990) video game, Eye of the Beholder (“EotB”). For a limited time, the trilogy were offered free from GoG.com, which allows you to play them on your modern PC. You can still get them, but I’m afraid you’ll have to pay for them.

I used to be a video game junkie back in the days of arcades, but by the time they reached people’s homes, I was either too busy or too poor to play. Eventually, I lost interest. EotB came out during that overlap between those two periods. Considering what most video games looked like at that point in time (as far as I knew), the graphics and game play for EotB was phenomenal. It was as good as some arcade games. Moreover, I was particularly attracted to this game because in 1981, I was forbidden from playing role-playing games due to several unsubstantiated anecdotes of how damaging they could be (e.g., Satanism, failing out of school).

If you don’t have a nostalgic connection to the game, you may not like playing it, but this is exactly the kind of thing that can make quarantine life bearable. 🙂

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