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Everyone's lost but me!
25 April 2015 @ 03:37 pm
Hey, sports fans, long time no see. Just dropping a quick line to let you know that I've published a book on Amazon, check it out. I'm also going to be trying to do masterposts of fics I've posted each month, in case anyone's interested.
 
 
 
Everyone's lost but me!
Jupiter Ascending is like a winding mountain road. You look at it over a few miles and see that there are a lot of twists and turns, some ramps where a car might conceivably jump a gap, even a loop-de-loop. And there, at the start, there’s a European super-car with Vin Diesel getting into it! He revs the engine. He turns on the radio and wouldn’t you know it, your favorite song is playing. With a squeal of tires, Vin Diesel takes off, only to jump out of the car as it flies through the guardrail, tumbling down the mountainside in super-slow-motion. You watch as the glass explodes from it, as the chassis deforms with every twisting tumble, until finally it explodes into a fiery wreck, the sparks like a meteor shower, the flames like a nebula.

And that’s all well and good, you think, but wouldn’t it be more impressive if that car had actually ran the obstacle course?

And that’s how I feel about Jupiter Ascending. It’s basically the same movie as The Matrix, only not as good, and we already have The Matrix sequels for that.

-For some reason, they put the obligatory love story front and center, even though I could only think was that Caine, our hero, admitted to attacking ‘an Entitled’ for no reason, which apparently turns Jupiter on. You’re expecting him to say something like “that Entitled ordered me to fire on civilians!” or “that Entitled sent my friends to die!”, but no, apparently Caine assaulted someone just because he has no self-control and Jupiter is totally into men who are randomly violent. Uhhhhhh…

-Like I said, same movie as The Matrix, only where that revealed the ‘humanity as cattle’ theme at the end of the first act, this waits until the movie is mostly over to go into that (even though it’s super obvious, making you wonder if Jupiter has ever seen a sci-fi movie before). It doesn’t work nearly as well. I guess here they want Jupiter to kinda be seduced by the allure of being ultra-wealthy before rejecting the system, but she never really seems to feel one way or the other about this wish-fulfillment. Or anything. In fact, her suddenly owning the entire world seems like it comes as a major hassle to her, not anything interesting or any sort of opportunity.

-Really, pretty much the entire movie is a series of ‘people explaining things to Jupiter,’ ‘bad guys chase Jupiter,’ ‘if bad guys have succeeded in catching Jupiter, good guys have to save Jupiter.’ Which, again, similar to the plot of The Matrix, but there, Morpheus/Caine got captured, so our supposed hero Neo/Jupiter had to step up and save him. And he only did it once. Morpheus didn’t immediately get captured again so we could get an instant replay on the clear and obvious climax we had just seen.

-Yes, the third act of the movie has the bad guys kidnapping Jupiter and trying to force her into signing over the Earth to them, then her getting rescued by Caine—then another group of bad guys kidnap Jupiter and try to force her into blah blah blah. It’s really odd, because you’re thinking “okay, I guess that winds up the movieeeeeeee, oh we’re dealing with this entirely new set of problems, ‘kay.”

-Instead of like in The Matrix, where there was one antagonist who represented all of the nogoodniks, here it’s like in the Matrix sequels, with three different baddies all feuding with each other. And I could think was, really? Do we need three? Two could’ve done it, instead of Jupiter the kidnapping victim being passed around by all three of the Abraxases like a joint. The film’s big bad guy is, I guess, Eddie Redmayne, and people really seemed to like his performance, but he disappears for a huge long stretch while Jupiter has to deal with the two other siblings. It’s just bad writing.

-Jupiter is really shockingly passive for a modern-day female protagonist. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s actually a little refreshing that she never learns to fight and has to strap on a skintight leather catsuit and shoot laser pistols because she’s a Strong Female Character—but she never does anything else either. You know, she doesn’t inspire people, she doesn’t come up with clever plans, she isn’t a doctor who cures some disease… In The 100, for instance, Clarke very rarely has to shoot it out with bad guys or have a swordfight, but she still makes hard choices and plays politics and comes up with plans on a weekly basis. Jupiter does none of that. I see no way in which this character passed the Sexy Lamp Test. Again, it’s like if in The Matrix, Neo never learned kung-fu and instead he just kept having to get rescued by Morpheus.

-Okay, let’s just go and compare this to The Matrix again. Matrix ends with Neo, fully a hero, reveling in his newfound power and saying now he’s going to take his fight to the Machines. Ascending ends with the equivalent of Neo going back to work as an office drone, happy with his place in the system, not doing anything to fight against the Machines even though they’re still oppressing his people and he has all this power, but hey—who cares, he’s got a cute girlfriend now. And maybe that’s supposed to be a really subversive ending about what an asshole Jupiter is. I don’t know, it doesn’t play that way to me, especially since the Abraxases are infinitely worse than the Machines, destroying whole civilizations on a regular basis just so they don’t get liver spots. I thought this would be a movie about Jupiter expanding her mind and becoming aware of injustice and suffering around her. Instead, it takes on the worst part of The Wizard of Oz, the end where she says “screw all those hopes and dreams, I just wanna stay home and happily accept my lot in life!” Did we really need an update of that?

-Can we please stop casting Channing Tatum as a stoic action hero? It never works. When he’s basically playing Bruce Campbell—yeah, I said it!—and doing comedy, that works fine. He was even alright making quips in White House Down. But can anyone take him seriously?

-I get it, guys, I want to enjoy a movie that ends with Channing Tatum fighting a space dinosaur too. But! I would enjoy it much more if we’d established that that space dinosaur was Bolin’s big number two man, his fixer, his right hand, not just one more in a long line of henchmen—not even the only dragon. So instead of thinking “yes, Caine beat Bolin’s best man!” I’m just “okay, how is that different from the fifty other people working for Bolin that he beat up? It’s not a climax just because he had a little more trouble with this one. What is this, Taken 2?”

Now, I know Tumblr needs something to insist people see instead of Fifty Shades of Grey, but instead of it being Jupiter Ascending, which is a lost cause and has about as much chance of crossing over with John Carter as it does getting a sequel, how about we throw our support behind Kingsman: The Secret Service? I thought it was really well-done, great action, great writing, and I say this as someone who makes an ‘eww, gross!’ face at Mark Millar as much as the next person.

(In fact, if you go to Latino Review, there’s an interview with the film’s director where he’s shockingly upfront about how much of a hack Millar is and how Jane Goldman, is responsible for turning Millar’s high-concept shit into actual stories human beings enjoy.)
What are some areas where you [and Millar] differ creatively?
Matthew Vaughn: I believe in a thing called three-dimensional characters. [Laughs] He believes in the quick one-liner. I always say, if he was around in the 80s, he’d be in Hollywood making a fortune saying, ‘This is Jaws, set in space.’ That’s where [co-screenwriter] Jane Goldman comes in as well, to say, ‘This is great idea. It’s got so many facets to it but we’ve got to get that heart and that drama to underpin these crazy ideas.’

So, if you wanna talk about how a woman co-directed Jupiter Ascending (~so diverse~), I’ll counter that a woman co-wrote Kingsman and did a much better job.

-I’m going to shock you now: Kingsman is actually a lot more feminist than Jupiter. The female lead, Roxy, has basically the same creds as Mako Mori. She’s in training to be a spy, just like our hero Eggsy, they befriend and support each other, but never develop a romance. They’re just bros who kick ass together. She’s also super cute and has no apparent qualms about seducing another woman, fyi.

-The villain’s henchgirl, Gazelle, is afforded the honor of getting the final mano-e-mano fight with Eggsy. You might expect for it to come down to a ‘good girl vs. bad girl’ fight between her and Roxy, while Eggsy goes after real bad guy Samuel L. Jackson. Nope, SLJ is a total wimp and Gazelle does all the heavy lifting. You could also count her as being a badass disabled character, but I guess ‘the evil villain with the hook hand’ isn’t anything too new. Still, it’s probably better representation than Jupiter Ascending, where it’s like ‘uhh, the police captain and one of the three villains’ twenty henchmen are black women. Diversity!’

-Now, due to our present dumb culture wars, I’ve heard people complain that the movie is denying climate change. Which is just mindboggling stupid to me. Good guy Colin Firth—who is excellent, by the way, as basically Roger Moore’s James Bond in a Daniel Craig world—outright says that climate change is happening. It’s just that SLJ’s character’s attempts to stop it are extremist and evil. Guys, it’s the same plot that Hugo Drax had in Moonraker or Karl Stromberg had in The Spy Who Loved Me: save the planet by wiping out most of humanity, then ruling over the survivors. I don’t think we need to politicize saying that mass murder is wrong.

-I’ve also seen people demanding Social Justice! over the very end, where Eggsy saves the world and then has sex with a cute, grateful girl. Okay, fine—to me, it’s the movie being upfront about being a guy movie and giving the hero a sexy reward, which is a lot less offensive than suddenly turning Roxy into a love interest or the thing the Bond movies seem to be on now, which is to go ‘oh, oh, we care about women’s issues, look, this girl was forced into prostitution, how terrible,’ and then she has sex with Bond anyway and gets killed to show how evil the bad guy is. Kingsman just takes the old stalwart of Roger Moore getting the girl and parodies the cliché by turning it up to 11, with ‘Bond’ knowing the girl for five minutes instead of ten and being more explicit about what’s happening. But at the end of the day, it’s still two pretty people deciding to have meaningless nookie because they didn’t die. I’m pretty sure a fandom with ‘sex pollen’ in their vocabulary doesn’t have room to complain.

-Now, I don’t mean to say the movie is perfect. There are a few too many winky nods to James Bond, where you lose points for subverting a cliché by pointing out ‘look, I’m totally subverting this cliché!’ And it’s funnier if you just let the audience pick up on it. Like how instead of crying blood or having a cyanide capsule collapse his face, SLJ’s villain deformity is just… having a lisp. That’s clever! And there’s also a bit where the villain tests out his doomsday plot on the Westboro Baptist Church. And it’s short enough that I don’t really mind, but the satire there falls flat for me—it’s just the preacher being an io9 commenter saying ‘I’m a religious fundamentalist! I hate science!’ and the punchline is Colin Firth saying ‘wonk wonk, I’m a gay atheist jew with a black boyfriend on socialized welfare’ or something like that. Which is fine, because it’s over with so quickly, but if you’re going to take a shot at as easy a target as the WBC, I feel like you need to be even more clever about it, otherwise you’re just going “and what’s the deal with airline peanuts!?” (c.f. the recent Parks & Rec episode about meninism.)
 
 
 
Everyone's lost but me!
27 January 2015 @ 11:28 pm

As I said, as I revise and edit this vampire story of mine, I’ll be going over that process both here and Patreon, although I’m saving most of the ‘Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray’ kinda stuff for the Patreon. Hey, fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat. So consider this a free preview.

Now, from conversations with my editor, we’re in agreement that most of the fat to be trimmed is gonna come from the first act. Blame it on the Aspergers, but I’ve got sort of a ‘When Are They Going To Get To The Fireworks Factory?’ kinda rule. So, why should we spend so much time on these two characters’ relationship when one of them’s going to become a vampire and that’s gonna hit the reset button on their relatsch anyway? Because they’re both attractive women No reason!

So this is the first scene that both me and le editor (ze editor?) singled out for the cutting room floor. Basically, the pre-vampire stuff was running so long that I wanted to throw in a scary bit as a bit of foreshadowing; “Fireworks Factory In Twenty Miles’. And it’s not just a Lost thing where it’s creepy for the sake of creepy, it’s tied into the plot.

The problem being, by the time it actually comes into play and is explained, I think most people will have forgotten it. It’s like “oh, you’re telling us NOW what that was all about? They were both STRAIGHT when that happened!” So, since we’re hurrying to the scary stuff anyway, we don’t need any proto-scary stuff, and the bit is gone. It’s still a fun little scene though, got that right NOOOOOOOOOOOPE reaction from the people I showed it too, it’s just not quite right for this story.

(Hey, anyone remember when movies would do teasers that were just shot for the ad campaign and didn’t actually happen in the movie? Weren’t those fun, since they didn’t give anyway away, but they still told you what you were in for? Think of this as that.)

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Everyone's lost but me!
02 November 2014 @ 11:51 pm

So I wasn’t really planning to comment on the rumor that there would be a trilogy of Wonder Woman films, with the first one set in the 1920s, simply because it sounded so spurious. Okay, I suppose I can believe that, even having committed to doing a WW2 Wonder Woman film because that’s how it was in the 1970s (!!!), DC would then make that the sequel to one set before the character was even originated.

(That’s really the only reason to do a WW2 movie. I’ve read quite a bit of Wonder Woman and she doesn’t ever really seem to deal with fall-out from the Nazis the same way Steve does. She doesn’t have any lingering foes or lost loves. It doesn’t work to make Cap the result of a supersoldier experiment during the Gulf War, but it works fine to have Steve Trevor crash on Paradise Island during the 2010s. So the only reason to tie Diana to WW2 is Silver Age nostalgia, so fuck that. I mean, we’re not going to even have a non-“used car salesman” Lex Luthor until next year. Of course, then he’s going to be so new-fangled that he’s some Mark Zuckerberg evil geek, so I fully admit I’m a hypocrite there. But c’mon, Smallville got this right. Smallville and a bunch of children’s cartoons. Bald guy, suit and tie, hates Superman, loves money. Doesn’t seem that hard)

But the thing about the movie starting off with “warring factions of Amazons” misses the point about as much as a Star Trek movie starting with a Federation civil war, or a Star Wars movie about trade disagreements. And honestly, I don’t think any studio plans out whole trilogies in advance—at least, not like this.

The whole idea of the franchise is that you do a movie, then you do it over again. You’ve got James Bond, Q, M, Moneypenny—sequel time, you get more Bond, Q, M, Moneypenny. With this plan, you’d pretty much be changing settings and supporting cast every movie. Now, Marvel’s done that sort of planning, but they’re clearly next-level: With TWS, they’ve lost all of the first movie’s stuff, so they bring in Peggy for a cameo, make Bucky the villain, and make Black Widow the female lead to tie it into The Avengers—making that movie a sort of Captain America 1.5.

DC—they make Man of Steel because their Superman copyright is about to run out (no, really), then when that underperforms, they add Batman to the sequel. Then they decide to make that sequel a launching board for every other character in their stable as well. I imagine that’ll go about as well for them as Amazing Spider-Man 2 worked at launching The Sinister Six.

Speaking offfffff, now that it’s turned out that Marvel was being totally truthful about working on a Peggy Carter TV show, a Black Panther movie, a Captain Marvel movie, et al—Is it really so hard to believe that they are working on a Black Widow movie, it’s just taking a while? Unless you want to believe that Marvel decided to do Black Panther and Captain Marvel the minute DC announced Wonder Woman and a Cyborg movie (yeah, that’s never gonna happen). What can I say, these things take time. Feige’s been wanting to do a Dr. Strange movie and it’s still only now happening.

So, drawback, with a BW movie happening in 2020 or later, I don’t think there’s any way they can make Scarlett Johansson look younger than she did in Iron Man 2 for it to be a prequel/origin story. Not a huge loss, since we saw how well “let’s explain the hero’s mysterious backstory in mindnumbing detail” worked for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. My prediction is that Widow will leave the Avengers after Infinity War, and with Johansson no longer being ‘double-booked,’ they’ll give her and Hawkeye a team-up movie in Phase 4 that’ll touch on the Red Room and all that but in some clever way—using the Yelena Belova storyline to give insight into what Natasha went through without us ever seeing Teen!Nat.

Also, a Wonder Woman period piece really seems derivative of Agent Carter at this point, who is a possibly a bigger fixture in pop culture right now. She was in the Captain America movie, the sequel, the one-shot, Agents of SHIELD, now a TV show… meanwhile, if you don’t read comics, about the only place you’ve seen Wonder Woman is The LEGO Movie.

 
 
 
Everyone's lost but me!
27 October 2014 @ 12:32 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.

AO3.

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!
20 October 2014 @ 04:18 pm
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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.

AO3.

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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