No Small Parts: Captain Robau from Star Trek 2009 @chrishemsworth #StarTrek #FaranTahir #movie

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If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Other posts in this series can be found here: No Small Parts.

Great Shatner’s ghost! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted about Star Trek. It’s my favorite entertainment property, yet I’ve been so focused on the superhero stuff and random Netflix movies that I haven’t watched any Star Trek recently. Ironically, it was the Iron Man quarantine watch party on June 30, that inspired this post (as well as this one and this one).

I haven’t seen a lot of Faran Tahir, but I’ve been impressed by everything in which I’ve seen him, including his role in Iron Man. That role wasn’t small, but this post is about Captain Robau from the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) gets the credit for his sacrifice, and that’s fair, but it’s clear that he was following the teachings of his captain, played by Mr. Tahir. Captain Robau set the tone for the scene, and the entire movie, by remaining completely calm during the brief negotiations and immediately complying with Nero’s demands despite the danger. He didn’t do this because he was without fear – his bio signs indicated an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, and other signs of emotional distress – but because leaders don’t have the luxury of personal considerations. If you take responsibility for other people’s lives, you need to live up to that.

Captain Robau was a strong character, and his leadership set the tone for a movie that was as much about leadership as it was about friendship.

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Pepper Potts Sucks! @ComicBook @BrandonDavisBD @Rowaenthe @RobertDowneyJr #IronMan #QuarantineWatchParty #MCU

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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 is the second one that in some sense serves as a sequel to the first one.

I must admit that I’m a little out of my element. As I said in the prior Iron Man-related post, I don’t analyze these movies from the perspective of an expert in screenwriting. I focus on themes that are important to me. This post eventually strays into an analysis of moviemaking and human relationships, so I have far more questions than I have answers, and my affirmative claims are often mere speculation. My primary question is: What purpose to the larger story did Pepper’s naivete and/or stubbornness serve?

Here’s what I’m talking about:

In other words, there are several incidents throughout the MCU where Pepper makes the same mistake that many people make in the real world. She tries to interfere with a strong person doing what’s necessary because she doesn’t understand what strength of character is, or at least why it’s important. As shown in Shazam!, attitude is often far more important than actual ability, which is why even in the non-caveman, modern world, strength is an important feature. While Pepper is a hard worker, intelligent, and portrayed as strong in other ways, that’s not a realistic portrayal. She’s simply serving a plot, so the script has her acting both strong and weak at different points.

While we all have our strengths and weaknesses, this paradox is far more profound than that. She doesn’t get a simple reality that, again, I’ve seen a lot in the real world: Telling Tony not to act because it places him at risk is counterproductive. If he doesn’t act, the bad guys will win, and Tony will die anyway (along with many other people). This is absolutely maddening, and it happens during Paltrow’s entire tenure in the MCU. At the end of Iron Man 3, Tony temporarily gives up being Iron Man for her. Fortunately, real world economics prevail, and the screenwriters quickly send Tony back into the fray to save half the universe. But the point is that, if you’re weak, that’s fine, but don’t stand in the way of the strong. They have a job to do, and it’s generally saving your ass.

How Did the Relationship Work?

Sorry, but my writing gets a little choppy here because I’m suddenly shifting gears.

I’m light years from my area of expertise, but perhaps Stark latched onto a person with such a silly outlook because her motivation was seemingly unconditional love, and that’s what he was searching for. According to Captain America: Civil War, he lost that relationship for a while, but as soon as he could, he grabbed her and didn’t let go. As I speculated in the prior Iron Man-related post, that’s probably because Tony’s lack of a family was haunting him (as it often haunts me). Or maybe it’s far simpler: Opposites attract. Because it’s just a movie, they were able to write the script anyway they wanted, so the resulting relationship with Pepper worked even if it wouldn’t in the real world, which wouldn’t be so generous. (For the record, Civil War screenwriter Stephen McFeely stated that her presence would have calmed Tony, but he needed to remain dark and angry in order for the events to play out as they did.) Tony never got “fixed’ by anything we saw on screen; the script just pushed him in that direction leaving the details to our imagination (other than the unwitting therapy session with Bruce Banner in Iron Man 3). Figuring out why is merely speculation. As complex as some of these MCU characters are relative to other movie characters, they’re still not real. They’re just two-dimensional characters driven more by dramatic forces than by real, psychological or logical ones.

It appears that Pepper’s behavior always served to advance the plot. She could hold Tony back or push him forward as needed, but she usually held him back. When she did so, her thought processes were wildly illogical, and that grated on me.

I don’t want to hate Pepper Potts, but I do. There. I said it.

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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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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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Good Watch: Circle @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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It’s hard to discuss this movie without engaging in spoilers. It’s a cast of mostly unknown actors (I vaguely recognized a couple of them) who are standing in a room. They realize that every minute or so, they must vote on which one of them is to be killed. There’s no way of knowing how many will have to die for the sick game to end, nor is there anything more than conjecture as to how they got there and who put them there.

I shouldn’t have liked this movie because it requires far too great a leap in logic. But I did. I certainly didn’t like the ending. It was trite and answered no question. Everything is left to interpretation.

But for some reason, I liked it. As always, YMMV.

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A Summary of the #MCU Leading up to #Endgame @MarvelStudios

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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, it’s one hour and 14 minutes of some of the most important moments in the MCU leading up to Avengers: Endgame.

Maybe watch it at double speed.

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