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Everyone's lost but me!
19 October 2014 @ 07:09 pm

I got to see this at a preview screening, it comes out this week, and I just wanted to say GO SEE IT. It's absolutely worth the subprime mortgage you have to take out to afford a movie ticket, popcorn, and a drink these days. I think it has the best action this year, and it's probably the action movie of the year (all due respect to Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

First act, best I've seen in years--great, economical storytelling. It takes some well-worn tropes, lets them breathe, but plays through them at a good clip to get to the good stuff. Introduces all the players, makes you care about the good ones, makes you want to see the bad ones hit by a truck.

Like I said, the action is wonderful. No quick-cutting. No shakycam. The way I've been told, the directors were some stunt guys on The Matrix movies who Good Guy Keanu Reeves befriended and, when they got it in their ear to make a movie, he said "hell yeah, sign me up." It pays off wonderfully. Reeves is great here. I know he has a limited range, but John Wick is right in his wheelhouse--sorrowful, serene, wryly humorous, and with a Santy Claus bag of deftly executed badass moments.

It's R-rated, too, the way an action movie should be, with people dropping F-bombs and getting Gutterson'd left and right. Wick's favorite move is to give an enemy mook two shots in the chest to disable them (usually so he can then waste someone else), then finish them off with a headshot in case they're wearing armor. There's a pink mist on-screen every five minutes. Sensational. Great variety of action too. We get stealth missions, fistfights, wrestling matches, gun battles, car chases, everything but giant robots, really. This baby's pretty much the greatest Punisher movie never made (forward to Marvel: Hire this movie's writer and directors RIGHT NOW. If you don't want to make a Punisher movie, make a Black Widow movie with headshots.)

I also really like the movie's sense of humor. It's not tongue-in-cheek or openly jokey, like a Marvel movie--John Wick takes itself seriously. But whereas some recent revenge movies like The Equalizer and A Walk Among The Tombstones kinda shoved your face in the grim grittiness--rape and prostitution and women being hacked up into little pieces--John Wick instead gives you a wink like "hey, you're here to have a good time, we're here to entertain you. You bought a ticket to see Keanu Reeves as a hitman with a heart of gold, going after villains so bad they literally kick a dog. We're going to deliver." The audience I was with ate it up. Big laughs for lines as simple as a wonderfully timed "...oh." Again, not a comedy, but some great, dark humor to lighten the mood and release some tension.

I also rather like John Wick as a character. He doesn't wallow in man-pain or swagger around like a prick, which I think is the direction a different actor would've taken it. A lot of the times, he gives people the Doctorish option to walk away because, hey, his fight's not with them. Sometimes they take it. Other times...

"Alright," I hear you say, "that's all well and good, but what about your future wife, Bridget Regan?" Well, she's playing a small role, the bartender at a bar for assassins where John goes for information. Ian McShane also hangs out there (with some other great cameos as underworld figures) for about the small amount of screentime, which I take as the movie's way of saying that Kahlan Amnell is just as badass as Al Swearengen. After all, I never saw Al take out a shadrin. Not one!

Also, I love the movie's conceit of (to borrow a phrase from Leverage) Crime World. This isn't an origin story. We start the movie with John Wick being who he is and doing what he does, and the movie makes a great running gag out of just how well-known his badassery is. It's a very pulpy, Tarantinoesque world where there are hotels that cater to international hitmen, underground bars where you can get a drink so long as you leave your blood feuds outside, and Willem Dafoe mentor figures. Everyone knows everyone--it's a bit like a harder-edged Fast And The Furious. I wouldn't mind a return to this world where you can go to Lance Reddick for a safehouse, Randull Duk Kim for lead poisoning treatment, or Bridget Regan for a stiff drink.

If I have one complaint, it's that the movie brings on Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins, one of the assassins gunning for John. She's great in the role--a villainess who has no interest in seduction or looking sexy because she'd rather ventilate her target with a MP5 or snap his neck with some MMA moves. The character sticks around long enough to make herself really hateable, so you're looking forward to a final winner-takes-all with John Wick, but it never really materializes. My dad, who saw it with me, thought her final fate was a clever touch, so I don't know, decision's not unanimous.

But anyway, great movie, comes out this Friday, please do check it out and support R-rated movies, original films, cleanly-shot action, and Good Guy Keanu Reeves.

Everyone's lost but me!
18 October 2014 @ 01:50 pm
Title: Sextremis
Author name: Seriousfic
Beta name: Shendude
Characters/Pairing: Tony/Pepper, Pepper/Darcy, Pepper/Rhodey, Pepper/Maria, Pepper/Bruce, Pepper/Natasha, Pepper/Clint,
Fandom/Universe: MCU
Rating: NC-17
Word count:
Warnings: None
Summary: A side effect of her Extremis treatment gives Pepper a heightened sex drive, while recovering from open-heart surgery gives Tony no sex drive at all. Pepper gets off with a little help from her friends.


Fanworker name: shadesofblurple.
Rating of fanwork: PG-13
Link to accompanying fanwork master post: Tony's Surefire Hit Make-Out Mix
Everyone's lost but me!
15 October 2014 @ 04:25 pm
Second verse, same as the first.

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Everyone's lost but me!
15 October 2014 @ 04:08 pm
So gang, over on Tumblr, I've been catching up on Arrow via Netflix and posting brief recaps as I go. I'm going to be collecting all of those here to serve as a place for easy discussion and commenting on my reviews and the show as a whole. Anon comments are allowed and welcomed, but if anyone threatens to kill a female gamer, obviously that's going to change. Anyway, enjoy some jumbled thoughts about shirtless Stephen Amell.

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Everyone's lost but me!
04 October 2014 @ 09:00 am
Non-Stop: Am I the only one who thinks it weird that there’ve been more movies where the villains are evil Iraq War veterans than movies where the villains are evil jihadists?

Halo: Reach: Perhaps I’m allowing myself to be distracted by a highly noticeable flaw rather than less obvious virtues, but the co-op is really poorly integrated in this game. I’ve played Gears of War four times, they have four player co-op where every player is controlling a character with their own personality and unique look.

The single-player, I take it, is bad enough. You play a Master Chief wannabe (Apprentice Chief?) who rarely talks and has no characterization. Yes, they let you customize the model and play as either a man or woman, but since you have like five lines of dialogue, what’s the point? The real main character is the squad leader, who you don’t play by the way, and he’s just another stubbly white guy. This story is supposed to be more of a character piece, but everyone in it is just a government killing machine—hard to care when they get picked off one by one. The biggest difference between all of them is the color of their armor; you can’t even see through their faceplates (making this whole game basically Power Rangers with guns). Then in co-op, you just have another player randomly following around who NEVER talks or has any impact on the plot, just shows up for the gameplay. That strikes me as really damn lazy in comparison to how well-integrated the co-op was into GOW’s gameplay.

I’m not even asking for the cool co-op stuff GOW does, like having one player control a spotlight while the other moves through a darkened arena, but this is a game where they give you a co-op vehicle segment and instead of it being one character running, the other gunning, you just get two vehicles to drive. What’s the point?

Legend of Korra – Wouldn’t this traumatic angsting be more justified if Korra had been forced to kill Zaheer to win? As it is…

Korra: The world doesn’t need an Avatar! I AM CONSUMED WITH EXISTENTIAL ENNUI!

Bolin: You’ve saved the world, like, three times.

Korra: *grows hobo-beard*

Arrow 2x01 – You know, I haven’t seen a lot of people get upset with the MCU for having Captain America or Iron Man kill people. I think most are willing to accept that, hey, Steve Rogers is a soldier, he’s firing a gun, people are checking out. DC, on the other hand, has this very weird stance where they’ll give their characters no-kill policies… but have them kill someone (or over twenty someones) first, which doesn’t seem to accomplish much except piss both sides of the debate off. Or, you know, give DC an obligatory dose of grim and gritty ‘maturity’. “KILLING IS WRONG—BUT OUR HEROES DO IT ANYWAY, BEFORE THEY LEARN BETTER!”

So, Arrow season two starts with the conceit that, because of Tommy’s death (THANKS, LAUREL), Ollie has decided not to kill people anymore. So, what, he’s just going to use his arrows to shoot people’s guns out of their hands and pin their clothes to the wall? That seems kinda lame for a guy whose name is Green Arrow. You don’t see Blade just hitting people with the flat of his sword. Also, the sequence that got us here seems oddly inert, dramatically speaking.

-Ollie fights Merlyn, possibly or possibly not killing him. (I get that it’s a TV show, and they want to keep their options open as to whether to bring John Barrowman back or let the season finale be the last word on his character, but DAMN—lazy.)
-Ollie goes to find Tommy dying. They don’t say one word about murder, but Ollie is struck by an earlier conversation where Tommy called him a killer. He also says that he didn’t kill Malcolm, but later people refer to Malcolm as being dead, so, what—did Ollie stick him in a box with Schrodinger’s Cat?
-Ollie vows not to kill anymore.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if Ollie straight-up killed Merlyn, admitted as much to Tommy, had Tommy call him a murderer with his dying breath, and then that motivates him to use nonlethal force from then on?

Oh, one more thing.

Ollie: Laurel, at last we’re reunited! I’ve spent five long years dreaming of seeing you again! Truly, our love story is epic!

Shado: Hi Ollie!

Laurel: Who’s this?

Ollie: Uhh…

Like, damn, girl, at some point, YOU’RE the side ho, know what?
Everyone's lost but me!
02 September 2014 @ 08:30 pm
I’ve heard that the new (already shitty) Fantastic Four movie is being based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four series. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that series was pretty unappreciated, right? I know Ultimate Spider-Man was very widely acclaimed, so it makes sense for them to adapt it into Amazing Spider-Man (even if that series ended up having more to do with my last bowel movement than it does Punk Rock Gwen or Peter’s Best Friend Mary Jane or the fact that USM was based on the Raimi Spider-Man movies in the first place). But all I remember of UFF is a standard-issue Muppet Babies/Guv’Mint Sponsored Superteam set of tropes in lieu of innovation. It seemed like the most thought that went into it was giving Doom goat legs and explaining that Reed didn’t have internal organs anymore. Riveting stuff.

In fact, the really well-liked runs of FF, aside from the obvious Lee/Dikto stuff, all had Reed and Sue married, the Baxter Building established, Franklin having been born, etc. I’m thinking John Byrne, Mark Waid—and in fact, the FF run penned by Mark Millar, same guy who did UFF, was widely reviled for a sophomoric “villain even worse than Dr. Doom!” plot.

UFF itself was canceled seemingly pretty quickly and went over to the usual gimmicky bullshit of Sue and Ben getting married instead of Reed and Sue, Reed becoming a supervillain, and Johnny moving in with Peter Parker (not like that, slash fans). So it just seems weird to me that Fox would go from adapting Days of Future Past with X-Men, a story that is very well-loved by comics fans, to adapting UFF for Fantastic Four, when the only thing that storyline seems to offer is an excuse to make all the actors dirt-cheap CWagers.
Everyone's lost but me!
02 September 2014 @ 08:19 pm
I think they could’ve come up with a better title. You’re just gonna go with the setting as a title? That’s okay if your story takes place in a Space Station on The Edge of Space (great Vin Diesel movie, that), but if you’re just set in a random American city… I mean, you don’t see anyone calling Spider-Man “Queens” or X-Men “Westchester.” Oh, the movie.

Okay, quick summary: Philadelphia is set in the early 90s. Tom Hanks plays a gay lawyer with AIDS who has been fired from his law firm. They say it’s because of incompetence, he says it’s because they realized he was HIV-positive. He hires Denzel Washington, a homophobic lawyer, to represent him in a wrongful termination suit.

I think it holds up pretty well. As kind of prestige piece, it doesn’t go in for a lot of Movie Bullshit and strikes me as fairly realistic for the most part. The villains are suitably assholish without being caricatures—I like how the lawyer for the bad guys quietly says “I hate this case” after having to grill Tom Hanks to make her case.

As a Jonathan Demme movie, I don’t think it’s on the same level as Silence of the Lambs, which was kinda doing the same thing only with regards to sexism instead of AIDS/homophobia. I think SotL worked better because it was less on the nose, a bit more subtle. Like, there’s a brief exchange between Clarice and Crawford in the movie where she chastises him a bit for basically playing the boys’ club card so he could move the investigation forward, and in doing so he inadvertently perpetuated this attitude of sexism Clarice has been struggling against. I could believe real people would have that conversation.

Philadelphia, though, there are a couple scenes where Demme shoots a character looking directly into camera and saying that you can’t get AIDS from shaking hands, or reading the legal definition of discrimination, and it just comes off as preachy. Now, at the time the movie came out, I can see this as being BRAND NEW INFORMATION, but it just hasn’t aged well. There’s also an Oscar Clip Moment where Hanks’s character is listening to opera and describing what the singer is saying and he’s kinda literally going “I’m a saintly gay man sent to educate you about tolerance” and it’s all a bit much.

On a similar note, if you’re in the mood for a double feature, I’d actually recommend first watching Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, a stand-up special released about ten years prior to this movie. At the time, I believe Murphy was one of, if not the biggest box office star in the world, and he’s still making fun of homosexuality and AIDS in some very harsh, ignorant ways. I watched it a few days prior to seeing Philadelphia, and I think it was coincidentally enough a good way to set the tone of what the general attitude was at the time of Philadelphia’s release.

The chief criticism I’ve seen of this movie is that not much emphasis is put on Hanks’ character’s homosexuality. He’s in a relationship with Antonio Banderas’ Miguel, but I don’t recall them kissing or embracing or anything. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, at least, because for most of the movie, Hanks is suffering from the later stages of the AIDS virus and not much emphasis is put on Washington’s heterosexual relationship either. If the straight man had a whole ‘falling in love!’ subplot and the gay guy just, I don’t know, read books, that would be more of a situation for me. I do think the movie could’ve used, I don’t know, some candid moments of Hanks and Banderas kissing or cuddling spread throughout the movie to sell them as as affectionate a couple as Washington is with his wife, but it’s a little thing to get outraged over when the movie really isn’t a romance at all.

One thing I didn’t like: they make Washington’s character a pretty virulent homophobe and it struck me as the kind of Movie Bullshit that Philadelphia avoids for the most part. I get it, they want a really dramatic character arc for him to go from hating gay people to accepting them, but I don’t buy that a guy like that would take Hanks’ case in the first place. I’m not saying he has to be a saint, but I think the movie would work better if he were more ignorant or misinformed than actively hateful, and instead of Hanks saintly transforming him, he just became more aware of what gay people went through and learned to emphasize with them better. I don’t know, maybe at the time, the attitude he had was more realistic, but it comes off as kind of gimmicky high-concept “KKK member defends black man on death row!” sort of thing. 
Everyone's lost but me!
24 August 2014 @ 09:59 pm
So I'm looking at those offering betas for the DC Big Bang and the Marvel Big Bang, which I signed up for, and as you might expect, a lot of the people there are more concerned with boyslash than anything I'm liable to write--the plotty sex comedies you might expect. So before I wade through a cavalcade of negatories, I thought I'd try asking for a beta from those more inclined. I'm doing four fics, each of them will be around ten thousand words. There's an X-Men movieverse fic, an Iron Man movieverse fic, a Power Girl fic, and a JLI fic. All of them are explicit, with plenty of m/f and f/f smut, but I also try to keep them character-driven and vaguely witty. So, if anyone would be willing to parse something like that, let me know.
Everyone's lost but me!
So here’s my plan. After I get published and have a few novels under my belt, I come up with a bare-bones premise and outline for a story. I write some character descriptions, very broad stuff, nothing specific about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality. Like, uh—‘Love Interest A: The child of Villain B, a canny person with an interest in AI programming and an extremely literal sense of humor. Drawn to Sidekick C.’

Then I put what I’ve got online and let my fans vote on who the characters will be. So if you want the hero to be a gay Muslim paraplegic, you just vote for that. And when all the votes are tallied, I write the novel, having left the specifics entirely to the internet. If the Hero and the Love Interest are both male, it’s a gay love story. If the internet has voted that every character is a woman, then it has an all-female cast.

Then, whenever anyone asks why I don’t have, I don’t know, an Eskimo in my stories, I’ll just say “You should’ve voted for an Eskimo.”

Also, votes cost one dollar a piece.