Legendary Watch: The Green Knight @joeledgerton1 @ralphineson @BarryKeoghan @A24 @tracydeonn #MythologyMonday #MythologyMonandæg #TheGreenKnight #GoodWatch

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I found this moderately funny Venn diagram.

Last Saturday, I did something that I rarely do: I took a nap. It’s probably been about a year since I did that, and I haven’t taken naps more frequently than that since college. I also did something else that I hadn’t done since September: I went to the movies. I used to do that almost every Sunday, but with the pandemic, that’s non longer common practice.

I think these two things are connected. I took a nap, felt revitalized, and figured I see a movie at a late hour. I bought a ticket to Old and almost immediately regretted it. I wanted to see The Green Knight first and didn’t realize it had been released. Fortunately, Old ended right about the the Green Knight‘s start time. With previews, I didn’t miss a thing.

The Green Knight dragged at times, but I’ve come to expect that from movies about legend and mythology. We sometimes say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s certainly true of a movie. As a result, most myths can be told in 45-60 minutes on film. Filmmakers have two choices: borrow material from other myths and legends or fill in the story with creations of their own. I usually see the former, but in this case, it was the latter as far as I could tell. If they were borrowing from specific myths and legends, I didn’t recognize them. This is where it dragged, but for an apologist for such things, I still enjoyed it.

This also means that it’s probably not the story you know beyond the broad strokes. Besides the original filler, the filmmaker took some liberties with the story, but this can hardly be considered inappropriate. From generation through generation, Arthurian legend is essentially a collection of fan fiction. It appears to have changed with almost every telling of a story. Who’s to say that the filmmaker is wrong for doing their own thing?

The cast was great, BTW.

I give it a B+, but remember that comes from an apologist. YMMV. Old was good too, but I like everything M. Night Shamalamadingdong does, even including the much-maligned The Village. So yeah, YMMV.

So, now that this is over with, let’s gear back up for my continuation of my 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons revisit by asking why the hell haven’t I seen the Green Knight appear in any official D&D text after the original Deities and Demigods? Even in that source, there was very little provided by the description. What villain could provide a greater hook than one whose villainy is merely teaching you a valuable lesson? FYI, A24 created an RPG based on the movie, which they released about a year ago. Googling it provides several reviews of it from CBR.com, Polygon, and others.

I didn’t think there’d be a post-credit scene in a movie like The Green Knight, so I left too early. Oops.

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Disappointing Watch: Bill & Ted Face the Music @BillandTed3 @paramountplus #BillAndTed #ParamountPlus

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Two movies recently hit Paramount+. Yesterday, I wrote about A Quiet Place 2. Today, I’m really sad to report that Bill & Ted failed me.

I don’t think this is a case of growing out of the material. I’ve grown out of professional wrestling. I know what it feels like to just not care anymore because of who I am now. On the other hand, I haven’t grown out of Star Trek or Star Wars. Weirdly, I’ve absolutely grown out of the old Godzilla movies but love the new ones because I loved the old ones. I’m not sure that makes sense, but there it is.

This movie was atrocious. The pacing was terrible. The new characters were stupid. We all thought Station was stupid, but we didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We sucked it up and enjoyed Bogus Journey anyway. But here, I couldn’t do that. There were too may actors/characters added that were a second rate versions of the actors/characters they were replacing. What’s worse, the android was replacing Death even though Death was still in the movie. Death was a watered down version of his character in Bogus Journey, but my nostalgia kicked in and I was okay with that. But nostalgia couldn’t save this movie. Probably worst of all is that the heroes aren’t even Bill and Ted. Why did they name the movie Bill & Ted [anything] if Bill and Ted aren’t really the heroes.

It’s rare for me to be this disappointed in a movie that I want to love so much.

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Not-Quite-My-Thing Watch: A Quiet Place 2 @quietplacemovie @johnkrasinski @paramountplus #AQuietPlace #ParamountPlus

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Two movies recently hit Paramount+, and I’ve been dying to see them both. First up is A Quiet Place 2. I’m not a fan of horror movies, so when a few of the typical horror tropes reared their ugly heads, it took quite a bit away from my enjoyment of the movie. As with all horror movies, people make stupid decisions just to advance the plot (lazy writing), and are then saved because logic always gives ground to the needs of the script. If that doesn’t bother you as much as it did me, then you may like this movie a lot more than I did.

That’s important, because I still liked (not loved) it despite these flaws. As much as I wanted to punch the main characters in the face, I found myself really caring for them. I wanted them to win. The opening act was also very tense, and while it didn’t answer all the questions we have, it gave us some more with which to work.

I should warn you that the movie doesn’t really have an ending. I guess that’s to make sure there’s A Quiet Place 3.

Kylo Ren More GIF - KyloRen More TheLastJedi - Discover & Share GIFs | Star  wars sequel trilogy, Kylo ren, Star wars kylo ren

Next up: Bill & Ted Face the Music

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Good Watch: Ragnarok, Season 2 @jonasgravli @SunthDanu @netflix #MythologyMonday #Ragnarok #Jotunn #Thor #Loki #GoodWatch #tv

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Last week, I watched season 2 of Ragnarok. I previously discussed season 1, which I think I liked more than I should have. I’m a sucker for mythology, so I sometimes give modern dramatizations a little more credit than they deserve (though this is not absolute). This certainly applies here. The acting was rather sour at times, and I’m not sure whether that’s because the English is dubbed. However, I haven’t seen a better representation of mythology on film than this show, and that’s despite the fact that it intentionally (and appropriately) takes the “gods” and “giants” in a different direction.

The premise is that the war between gods and giants never ends. Both groups are continuously reincarnated but in different ways. You learn in season 2 that the giants know who they are their entire lives, even as they take on new ones through reincarnation. However, because the gods represent the interests of humans, they possess or are reincarnated as (probably the former, but unclear) humans, taking time to remember/learn who they are. This creates a foot race. The giants are busy destroying the world (in the most modern of ways in this show), searching for evidence that the gods are returning. Once they learn that the gods are back, they race to complete their plans, or even kill the gods, before the gods gain their full strength. The complication for the giants are that they’re bound by the rules of the game, which doesn’t allow them to act directly at times.

See? Giants aren’t all that bad.

Despite getting to the action this season, there’s still character development in play. For example, there’s an obscure character in Norse mythology, Járnsaxa (don’t click the link if you don’t want to be able to infer spoilers), whose role took me by surprise. Her character was in front of my face for two seasons, and I didn’t recognize her until the last episode of season 2. Based on the myths, her presence is important to how the series should wrap up. Some new characters were “born” in this season as well, including two extremely important ones, Loki and … something else.

The actor playing Loki is no Tom Hiddleston — who is? — but he does a good job, and the writing for his character is as good as any I’ve seen for any god from any mythology ever on television or in the movie theater. He’s exactly what Loki is supposed to be, which is hard to fit into modern storytelling. He’s not evil. He’s not even always selfish. He’s . . . Loki. Moreover, Thor’s reluctance to remove Loki as a threat makes a ton of sense, just as it does in Norse mythology, but not in exactly the same way, because this show takes place today.

Season 1 was very slow — all set up — but season 2 really got us into the mythology. Unfortunately, it’s only six, 50-minute (or so) episodes. I wanted a lot more.

I can’t guarantee you’ll like it if you’re not a mythology nut like me, so as always, YMMV.

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Good Watch: The Last Blockbuster @blockbuster @netflix #Blockbuster #GoodWatch #movie

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I finally caught the Last Blockbuster on Netflix. It was an interesting telling of how Blockbuster failed. Absolutely nothing was a surprise. Blockbuster died because technology changed; everyone knows that. I was disappointed that they tried to spin its demise, refusing to admit that Netflix, et al. killed it. The argument is that Blockbuster died because they didn’t have the capital to invest in streaming technology. Well, yeah. Duh. We know that. When we say “Netflix killed Blockbuster,” what we’re all really saying is “streaming technology killed the video rental business.” Nothing in the documentary proved otherwise.

Great. Now I’ve developed another nervous tic.

Nevertheless, it was, as I said, and interesting telling. I love learning about history regardless of how recent it was.

No Nostalgia Here

What surprised me the most about the show was my own emotional reaction. I really don’t care. That is, despite renting videos being a huge part of my teenage life, it was kind of a pain in the neck. I’m not immune to nostalgia. Most of the people who have ever read this blog have done so only because nostalgia brought me back to D&D 24 years after the Satanic Panic took it away from me. I have the same love of childhood garbage food that all of you have. However, renting videos wasn’t without cost.

First, my parents had to get with the program and actually buy a VCR. That took a while. Second, it was about a 1.5 mile (each way) walk to get to the video rental store. There are also occasional war stories related to renting videos. For example, I’m a middle child, and when I say I’m a middle child, I mean I’m the middle child, as in the poster child of middle children. Look it up in your dictionary. If my picture isn’t there, buy a new dictionary. Ergo, I never got to pick what movies I wanted unless I took matters into my own hands, and even then, I had to wait my turn for the VCR, which sometimes never came. That leads me to a specific war story. My cousin and I once rented Bachelor Party. We were in high school and didn’t have credit cards, so to rent it (without our parents’ assistance), we had to put down (IIRC) a $75 deposit (that’s $187 in 2021 money . . . for a high school student). We were dipshits.

Overall, I suspect I have more fond memories of renting movies than poor ones, but I just don’t miss it. I can imagine how inconvenient it would be if I still had to do that. As I type this, Netflix proceeded directly to Stowaway. I like being able to just grab movies at the touch of a button … errrr, click of a mouse. Of course, you all probably agree with that, but nostalgia isn’t really about actually wanting to go back, but rather about remembering what was going on in your life at that point. Well, I’m a big movie theater guy, so going to the movie theater is still a far more enjoyable experience than renting and watching a video at home. I suspect that’s why this documentary didn’t pull at any heartstrings. Perhaps I’ll have a nostalgic reaction when and if movie theaters die. (Fuck you, COVID-19.)

Still a good documentary. As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Excalibur @Tubi #movie #Excalibur #music #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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This past weekend, I discovered that John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) was available to stream on Tubi. In case you didn’t know, Tubi is a free streaming service with commercials, and it’s often useful for watching movies showing on pay services to which I don’t subscribe. I took advantage of a rare day of not working out and re-watched it.

To me, Excalibur is a classic, and it has a moderately funny story behind it (for me). My dad was always present but never paying attention. He left our upbringing to our mother, taking interest only when our interests collided with his. So, if you weren’t playing tennis, playing chess, or visiting the Renaissance Festival, you were a nuisance. He wasn’t cruel; just uninterested. When Excalibur came out, both he and I were interested in seeing it. I was a mythology buff, and he a history buff, and the movie appealed to both of us. Well, I was 13, and when my mother found out how much nudity was in it, she blew a gasket. Of course, my dad was pissed off at me because I was the one that told her.

That was a fun day.

My Impression

Nudity aside, I loved the movie. I was familiar with the basics of Authurian legends and wanted more. The next time I saw the movie was in high school, which were the days of VHS movie rentals. My cousin and I rented it, and my view had changed. I found the base storyline just as interesting but the delivery goofy at times. Also, being a high school kid, I was a bit put off by seeing Sir Lancelot’s nut sack. This weekend was the third time I had seen it, and it was fantastic, errrr … nut sack and all.

It’s a quick telling of the Arthurian legends, taking some liberties with the story in the interests of getting the story told in less than 8 hours. What’s not to love about that? I’m sure many readers agree, so I’m not going to dwell on any of that. Instead, I’m going to point out something I found interesting and unusual.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is, as one would expect, filled with grandiose, classical music pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that the music never played (to my recollection) during the battle scenes. All you heard was the sound of battle, and that produced a chilling effect. Because I’m a nerd, I’m reminded of an observation Lt. Cmdr. Data made about alien poetry that often included pauses that could last for days. That seems ridiculous, but pauses do have value. They’re analogous to negative space used in graphic arts, such as the arrow in the FedEx logo between the ‘e’ and ‘x,’ and this effect was used very well by John Boorman here.

As always, YMMV, though how could you not like Excalibur?

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Historic Watch: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan @Netflix #Japan #Samurai

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A new docuseries just dropped on Netflix this past week, and I watched all six, 45-minute (or so) episodes on Saturday. Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan discusses the quest for power in 1500s Japan. It’s presented through recreations narrated by historians. As you should expect, those from the 16th century seeking to rule a nation were often cruel and selfish. Some were arguably insane. All of them, however, were master tacticians, and some of their techniques have earned the respect of modern militaries.

I read a thread on Reddit in which several people stated that they didn’t like how the show was presented. For example, when the show cuts away to the historians, “who where paid to speak like stupid 9th graders,” the video goes to black and white for dramatic effect. Another stated he “had to turn it off with all this pandering.” I find all of this criticism to be at best inaccurate and at worst dishonest. Yes, the historians made sure to present the material as dramatically as possible, but they didn’t sound like they were in high school. The black and white shots provided a clear contrast between reenactment and dialogue. It’s a nice effect. Finally, I don’t see how there was any “pandering.” Japanese honor is often romanticized, and this show doesn’t do that at all. It clearly shows how cruel, deceitful, and selfish these leaders were.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience approval sits at 57%. Technically, I’m in the majority, but that’s considered a bad score. But none of the commenters disputed the truth of what was presented, and that’s what matters to me. Unless you’re a true student of history (I’m not), there are a lot of interesting, significant events in history of which you’ll never scratch the surface. This series helps in that regard.

As always, YMMV.

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Current Watch: Future Man @jhutch1992 @ImKeithDavid @futuremanonhulu #FutureMan

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I mentioned this past weekend that I’ve found my next streaming obsession, Resident Alien. However, that show is currently being aired, which means I can’t binge watch it. That leaves me with a hole in my viewing schedule. Well, I suspect many of you have repeatedly seen that same clip in a Hulu commercial where Abe Lincoln says he’s having the worst theater experience in his life, and Jesus thinks he’s an idiot for saying so. Some quick internet sleuthing informed me that the clip is from Future Man, so I decided I’d watch it.

I finished season one over the weekend and am about halfway through season two, which was easy to do because each episode is about 25 minutes (as opposed to 50 minutes). It was okay, but I’m still intrigued by the clip. It’s not getting better, but I’m confident it will because I learned Seth Rogan will eventually show up. (Believe it or not, I like Seth Rogan a lot.) Like Resident Alien, it’s a dramedy with a bit of science fiction. If you’re into video games (I’m not), that’s mildly relevant to the show and may make it a bit more interesting for you. If you’re into the Hunger Games, the lead is someone from that cast, Josh Hutcherson, but the supporting cast is pretty good. In fact, I love Keith David, and he plays an important role in season one. He’s worth the price of admission by himself.

Here’s a review from Looper that coincidentally hit my stream today. Google is watching me!

As always, YMMV.

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My Next Watch: Resident Alien @AlanTudyk @ResidentAlien @SYFY #ResidentAlien #SyFy

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I’ve found my next streaming obsession. I think. The SyFy channel has a new show called Resident Alien. It stars Alan Tudyk as an alien, Harry, living in a small town in Colorado. If, like me, you’re into science fiction and so-called dramedies, this could be for you as well.

But as I’ve said before, you shouldn’t care about someone else’s opinion about a show unless you understand why they hold that opinion. I’m a Star Trek fan (duh!), and one of my favorite aspects of the show is how they examine humans from an outsider’s perspective. Humans are stupid; even the smart ones. Our emotions make us do silly things. Spock and Data are both characters that make interesting observations about how this occurs, but they also show how such a thing can be a strength. Our emotional connection to others is the essence of what makes us “social creatures,” which leads to tribal cooperation and eventually to civilization. Harry, does this very well. If this is up your alley, then this may appeal to your interests.

I wish I had a psychology degree.

One thing that’s different: Harry is definitely a bad guy. Like Vic Mackie from The Shield, he’s an anti-hero, but being largely comedic and clearly involved in a moral growth process, my guess is that the resident alien will come around to the good side. We’ll have to see, because this is a new show, and as of this moment, only four episodes have aired.

As always, YMMV.

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Relevant Watch: The Next Karate Kid @CobraKaiSeries @McSchlossberg @healdrules @jonhurwitz @ralphmacchio @WilliamZabka @MartinKove @Xolo_Mariduena @marymmouser @KarateKidMovie @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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Cobra Kai inspired me to watch the often-maligned Next Karate Kid, which I recently learned is on Netflix. It wasn’t Highlander 2 bad, but it was bad, and I was happy when the final credits rolled. I just wanted it to be over. The writing was garbage, but you could still tell that Hilary Swank was going to become a good actor. I love when movies connect (perhaps explaining my obsession with the MCU), so despite its weaknesses, it would be great to see her in a future season of Cobra Kai. The primary villain, Michael Cavalieri, could return, as could Michael Ironside (who really sucked in this) and Jim Ishida. Ishida is the one still-living actor that played a monk. Hell, Walter Goggins could return. Walter Goggins! Despite all its flaws, I’d love to see this movie recognized in Cobra Kai.

After all, it’s not as if Karate Kid III deserved any awards, but we all want to see Terry Silver and Mike Barnes, right? As always, YMMV.

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