Guilty Pleasure: Clash of the Titans 2010 @NataSupernova @theofficialmads @TheRealLukevans @liamcunningham1 @NicholasHoult #GuiltyPleasure #QuarantineLife #Titan

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking here.

POST #200!!!

Yesterday, I talked about the original Clash of the Titans and mentioned this one. Of course, that got me thinking. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the Clash of the Titans remake earned scores of 27% from the critics (who cares?) and 40% from the audience, but I’m one of the 40% that liked it.

To start, I’m an apologist for anything related to mythology, even when, as here, they take far too many liberties with the stories. I get that the needs of drama override fidelity to the stories. I also thought that, special effects aside, this movie actually outclassed the original with the scenes featuring the Stygian Witches and Charon. Other than some silly dialogue, I thought the scene with Medusa (Natalia Vodianova) was a match for the original, which is no small compliment, and this movie provided more of Medusa’s background.

As much as I like Rosamund Pike, I wish Alexa Davalos had returned for the sequel as Andromeda. I thought she was good here. Overall, if you look at the cast, it was as solid as a diamond, with some established actors, some making their first attempts at a blockbuster, and some just getting their starts. In addition to Ms. Vodianova and Ms. Davalos, you have Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Danny Huston, Luke Evans, Liam Cunningham, Nicholas Hoult, Rory McCann, Alexander Siddig, and one of my all time favorite actors, Pete Postlethwaite (RIP). I think they spent plenty on the cast and not enough on the screenwriters to give the movie broad appeal.

There were definitely some annoying characters. The religious zealot who led the charge against royalty and the two brothers, Ozal and Kucuk, who had no business going on the quest, all irked me as much as they did the rest of you.

If I had to watch movies based in mythology all day, I would do so gladly. This is no exception … though even I wasn’t too fond of Wrath of the Titans (despite a better audience score). YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc (please retweet!)
Follow Natalia Vodianova @NataSupernova
Follow Mads Mikkelsen @theofficialmads
Follow Luke Evans @TheRealLukevans
Follow Liam Cunningham @liamcunningham1
Follow Nicholas Hoult @NicholasHoult

Good Watch: #Fractured @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking here.

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.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc (please retweet!)
Follow Netflix @netflix

Guilty Pleasure: Green Lantern @VancityReynolds @TaikaWaititi #movie #GuiltyPleasure #QuarantineLife

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. . . but I imagine this won’t be a popular one. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking here.

First off:

Yeah, I know. With Rotten Tomatoes scores of 26 from the critics (who mean nothing to me) and 45 from the audience, Green Lantern isn’t exactly well-loved, but if it were, it wouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. You chose to read this post. You’re committed to hearing me praise a movie you can’t stand.

Let’s start with the easy part: Ryan Reynolds is always great. You all love his sarcasm in Deadpool, and he delivers it here in spades. It’s a typical Ryan Reynolds performance, and if you can’t get behind that, you’re truly lost. As for the rest of the cast, I know of at least three Oscar winners (Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, and Taika Watiti) and one nominee (Angela Bassett) in there. They didn’t win Oscars for this movie, but it’s a good cast.

Moving on, one of the dead horses I love to beat is that I’ve never really read comics, but there’s a method to that madness. I have an exceptional, long-term memory, and I read a few comics in childhood, so I have some idea of comics lore. However, I have no loyalty to their story lines. If Parallax is nothing like what he was in the comics, I wouldn’t know and don’t care. This isn’t a defense of Parallax — I thought he was rather goofy — but rather a means to help you understand why I hold the positions I do on this and other Guilty Pleasure posts. Ergo, many of the reasons you may have for hating this movie have no relevance to me.

Next, Sinestro. Whether we’re talking about the actor (Marc Strong) or the character, this movie was the set up for a sequel that would rival the Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens. Whereas the first movie is always about the protagonists, the second movie is always about the villains. I know of no comic villains with a more tragic fall than Sinestro. He was made quite sympathetic and demonstrated a dedicated campaign against the fear to which he eventually succumbed. This made his fall from grace all the greater. Again, I don’t know many comic book back stories, but a second movie with Mark Strong playing Sinestro as the villain could have been incredible.

Then there’s Taika Waititi. He really sucked in this 🙂 , but considering who he’s become, this is a great look back at his beginnings. Sure, that’s not a reason to like the movie, but I consider it bonus points. He’s turned into something special and won an Oscar for his efforts elsewhere.

Finally, the music. Music is my favorite art form, and when I really like the music, it can often carry the movie. The music is overall rather weak in this movie, but there are a couple of pieces that are on one of my playlists. Here’s a short example that I thought captured the scene well:

The music starts at 0:54, but you may need the entire clip to appreciate my point.

All of this is enough for me to watch this movie occasionally despite some poor dialogue and overacting. I’m doing so as I write this.

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power–Green Lantern’s light!

If you’re interested, it’s streaming on HBO Now.  

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc (please retweet!)
Follow Ryan Reynolds @VancityReynolds
Follow Taika Waititi @TaikaWaititi

No Small Parts: Miriam in Captain America: Civil War @AlfreWoodard @RobertDowneyJr @ChrisEvans #MCU #CaptainAmerica #IronMan #NoSmallParts

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking here.

Unlike the other MCU films, the overarching storyline in Captain America: Civil War wasn’t the Avengers finding a way to come together, but rather the Avengers being torn apart. Behind the scenes, the Sokovia Accords were being written, and Secretary Ross was getting ready to confront the Avengers, but for the disassembly of the Avengers to occur, it had to come from within. The two factions were led by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Steve needed no outside help to make his stand; it’s what he does. Likewise, Tony is prone towards sacrificing liberty in favor of security, but in prior films, he insisted on being the one in control of that security. Something had to push him over the edge to where he’d be willing to surrender that control to the government that he so routinely dismissed.

Enter Miriam, played by acting veteran Alfre Woodard.

Jump to 0:55 for the scene in question.

Miriam tells the story of her son, Charlie Spencer, who had the city of Novi Grad, Sokovia dropped on him during the events of Age of Ultron. She blamed the Avengers for his death and laid a huge guilt trip on Tony Stark in that scene.

One of my pet peeves about superhero movies is the after saving the world, the unappreciative human race vilifies the heroes because of the collateral damage that occurs, ignoring that, in some cases, without the heroes the entire human race would be killed. That’s certainly a theme in Civil War, and it’s annoying as hell, but in Civil War those arguments were no more than a means to advance a more reasonable position. The United Nations truthfully understood that what the Avengers were doing was right, and that the consequences of those actions were often not the Avengers’ fault. They simply wanted international oversight to minimize those consequences.

But logic isn’t always the best motivator. Even the most stoic among us are emotional creatures. You can’t blame the Avengers for feeling bad about what happened. If a criminal held a gun to a loved-one’s head, and you felt you had to kill the criminal in order to save that person’s life, the world wouldn’t blame you, but you might still find it difficult to deal with having killed another human being. Maybe you could have disarmed the criminal, and if so overpowered him. Tony was facing the same emotional dilemma, and to make matters worse was the creator of the threat, Ultron. Even more, maybe Tony could have zigged when he zagged and saved some more lives.

Miriam appealed to that emotion, and in less than 2 minutes of screen time, set in motion the civil war between the Avengers.

Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking here.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc (please retweet!)
Follow Alfre Woodard @AlfreWoodard
Follow Robert Downey Jr. @RobertDowneyJr
Follow Chris Evans @ChrisEvans

Why I Love the TV Series, Star Trek: Enterprise

I’ve been revisiting the series Star Trek: Enterprise (“STE“). The episodes are available free on the Star Trek website. In light of last week’s anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek: The Original Series (“TOS“), I thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts.

STE is a much-maligned series in the Star Trek franchise. Though I can understand why relatively new Star Trek fans didn’t like it, I never quite understood why fans of TOS didn’t. Sure there were problems with the writing; the temporal cold war was annoying and never truly resolved, and they never should have forced the Borg and Ferengi into the storylines. However, for those who’ve been with Star Trek from the beginning, we’ve seen it as a morality play first, and bells and whistles second. The futuristic setting was interesting and important. It was interesting to see where humans were going and important because it told us that somehow, despite the threat of nuclear annihilation, we were going to make it. Nevertheless, the reason we were going to make it was because of our social evolution, not our technological evolution. Greater technology, by itself, simply gives us the means to destroy ourselves. We have to rise above our instincts and insecurities to make it to the 22nd century. Story was what mattered.

So, how did we go from cross burnings to not batting an eyelash when we meet an energy-based being? We can certainly see the first part of that evolution by looking at how our real-world societies have (and haven’t) evolved since the 60s. We can also see how we’ve evolved from the Original Series to the Star Trek: The Next Generation (“TNG“) era, a time at which diversity was so extensive that we threw up our hands and surrendered to it psychologically-speaking. What’s missing is our future. By “our,” I mean those of us living in the 21st century, and those that will live in the 22nd century. What can we and our descendants expect? Star Trek: First Contact gave us a hint. First contact with the Vulcans “unit[ed] humanity in a way that no one ever thought possible, when they realize they’re not alone in the universe.” Deanna Troi, Star Trek: First Contact. That’s great, but it’s also a bit idealistic. Even if humanity no longer hated itself, could we really expect that to mean the end of bigotry instantaneously? STE answered that question, and that’s why I loved it. It told a part of the story we needed to see, both in terms of our social evolution and technical evolution. The jump from TOS to TNG wasn’t nearly as fascinating to me as the jump from right now to TOS, because that’s what will affect people I actually know, including me.

Two of the best episodes in all of Trek history were Demons and Terra Prime, a two-part series starting Peter Weller (a.k.a., Robocop) as a xenophobic human. He united black and white, male and female, gay and straight, and faithful and atheist against a common foe: Anyone who wasn’t human.  It demonstrated that humans are as bigoted as their circumstances dictate. By that, I mean that whoever is most different at the time is the target of our bigotry. Sure, looking at green-blooded, pointy-earned clones of Satan, we’d probably lose focus on how we hate each other, but that focus had to go somewhere, and sure enough it did. Humans developed great resentment towards Vulcans. Of course, there wasn’t much outright hostility, but then again bigotry nowadays doesn’t often result in physical violence, but that doesn’t make the bigotry any less real. Also, humans were getting something out of their relationship with Vulcans, so that helped to mollify that resentment.

Or so my theory goes.

Still there was a story to tell there. You may agree or disagree with my point of view, and you may have preferred a different direction for Star Trek canon. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that we’re analyzing social issues, which is what made Star Trek one of the most important series in the history of television. That analysis is the mission of the Star Trek franchise. Whatever legitimate concerns you might have for the quality of the writing, with Star Trek: Enterprise, mission accomplished.

Unless, of course, phase cannons weren’t glamorous enough for you.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc