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iron man 3, a review of a movie that doesn’t quite understand itself.

Children should not be aloud to be actors. It’s a simple fact that the overwhelming majority of child actors are just horrible. They can’t emote and often sound like they’re speaking English as a second language. Syllables fire off at random intervals and their faces react about a second too late. 
 
Sadly, the fact that children are remarkably poor actors did not stop Shane Black from writing one into the story. He’s entirely useless and serves only to lob a few lines so that Tony Stark can be a dick. He’s a fun dick, to be sure, but a dick nonetheless. He openly mocks a kid whose dad left him when he was just a few years old for no real reason. And the kid’s got nothing more to say than “GARSH! I AM CRUSHINGLY ALONE!”
 
But the tonal issues in the movie don’t just lie within the child actor. They also stem from the simple fact that, just a few weeks ago, we got bombed by some assholes who just wanted… well we don’t know since white hat isn’t being read his Miranda Rights / is being denied legal council, but that’s neither here, nor there. Whatever the case may be, it’s all screwy. And that screwiness also relates to the way in which violence is presented in the movie. I feel like I can speak for anyone reading this who say the photos of the after-math in Boston, bombs are unpleasant. They make for a horrific scene, one that can’t really be put to film without dedicating to it fully. 
 
The movie ends up lying within this remarkably strange middle-ground where it isn’t quite an escape from reality, a fun lark, like the first movie was. It tries its hardest to tug at your heart-strings with scenes of bombs, going so far as to bomb Jon Favreau within the first 15 or so minutes of the movie, but it totally falls flat given that he’s scratched up slightly, but not really any the worst for wear. And beyond that, he spends the beginning of the movie just being annoying. You can’t be expected to build any sort of empathy for him, because he’s just busy being obnoxious.
 
And he somehow survives a blast with temperatures reaching over 3000 degrees Celsius, just by hiding behind some crappy souvenir stand. I might just be thinking about bombs in light of what’s happened in Boston, but I do honestly think it’s a major problem with the movie. Bombs are evil devices, and treating them as a flashy plot device felt cheap. 
 
One area in which Iron Man 3 did actually work for me was in the choice of villains. Guy Pierce plays a decently interesting villain and seems to have had a good time chewing the scenery throughout. His transformation from crippled to handsome evil mastermind is believable enough. Ben Kingsly also plays an interesting role with a few twists and turns. Thankfully, this isn’t just a case of “sequel=more villains!” because it feels like basically every third superhero movie falls flat on its face from just trying to amp up the action by just having a horrible clusterfuck of villain-ry. Spiderman 3, Dark Knight Rises, and X-Men: The Last Stand are all terrific examples of how an otherwise wonderful franchise can bite the dust by just trying to juggle too many balls at once. 
 
The story remains interesting up until the last battle, when it completely falls apart thanks to some horrendous foreshadowing and writing. The following are just a selection of some of the questions that I had during the movie and immediately following. Needless to say, the end of the movie is… problematic. The Vice-President is apparently evil? Because his daughter has only one leg? And so wanting to help her makes him want to murder the President? And somehow no one will find out about this? What was Aldrich’s (Guy Pierce’s) plan for showing how he actually captured The Mandarin? Was he going to waltz into the White House with the Mandarin in tow and just expect everyone to nod along? How was he going to get the Mandarin off? Didn’t the actor know that it’d all end badly? That he’d end up in jail? What is the magic goo and why do people sometimes blow up? Is it when they take too much? Or not enough? Also, when Iron Man is fighting Super Goo, as I’ve elected to call him, since he didn’t get a name, does he not understand that he regenerates? He sees this regeneration MULTIPLE times throughout the movie, and just ignores it sometimes, while anticipating it other times. Apparently electricity stops it? Why does Super Goo shoot Maya (Rebecca Hall) if he sort of needs her to finish/fix the formula? Why can Super Goo breathe fire? What does that have to do with exploding and / or regenerating their bodies? Why can Tony just fix Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow)? Couldn’t he have just come up with some sort of Batman-style antidote to make the final fight make a lick of sense? When Tony blows up all the Iron Men, Pepper is still wearing the glove of one of the Iron Men. Why did that not explode? 
 
I’m not kidding. I could go on. For a while even. The movie throws aside ANY pretense of any sort of logic and just has robots explode for the final 45 minutes or so of the movie. It just reeks of Disney. The forced awful child, the lack of any sort of meaningful violence, even where it would make a lick of sense, the ludicrous amount of CGI, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of vaguely fun, but the first part of the movie feels like it tries so hard to have you harbor some semblance of emotion or fear for any of the characters in the movie. When Pepper falls into the fire, it’s during the middle of fighting DOZENS of Super Goos who’re all immortal(ish.) A few people in the theater even so far as to let out derisive “PFT”‘s. There’s no fear for anyone, no stress involved for anyone watching the movie, and the one main character who dies, Maya, she does in such a way that 1. is kind of hilarious, 2. comes SO FAR out of left field that I was convinced she must be a totally different character or that I’d heard something incorrectly, or 3. she just dies half-off-screen, so she’ll just being in Iron Man 4: Iron Man Harder. 
 
Or maybe not. I don’t know. Or care, really. And neither did the people that wrote this movie. Image
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adventure time recapping: all your fault and little dude

Double header! 
So what happens when you finally hit a bump in the road? I mean, you have to know it’s going to come some day, right? No relationship can continue on without any sort of instability forever, right? 

 
It’s what kept me from writing this for over a week now. Adventure Time is my unconditional comfort food. Plop me down in front of a Czech dinner and I’ll scarf it down with alarming speed. I look forward to it each and every week for years now. I was resistant to it at first, sure, but it’s like yoga for my childhood. Sure it’s sometimes difficult to get through and makes me cry like a girl… ok, losing the yoga metaphor… I hope. 
 
I digress, the Lemongrab character is something that I’ve thought long and hard about. I just can’t find what makes him funny. He’s like that kid in school whose inexplicably popular, even though his only discernible positive quality is blowing snot rockets with alarming velocity. Which, while impressive, is mostly irritating. Kind of like Mumford and Sons. 
 
I’ve not given up Lemongrab. Maybe I’ve missed something! Maybe there’s something wrong with me… or maybe there’s something really helpful about finding a problem with something or someone that you love. Maybe it means that you’re growing as a person, better able to accept flaws. Nothing’s perfect and the lows mean that you’re more able to appreciate the highs that they’re able to give you.
 
 
SPEAKING OF HIGHS this week’s episode gets everything right. It’s everything that makes Adventure Time  that warm embrace that I get to start my week with. Sweet gravy-soaked goodness.
 
The show’s never been afraid to be weird, but in an unflinching highly deliberate and sincere fashion. It’s like on the Simpsons, when the following exchange happens:
 
Frink: “Yes, over here, […] in Episode BF12, you were battling barbarians while riding a winged Appaloosa, yet in the very next scene, my dear, you’re clearly atop a winged Arabian! Please do explain it! 

Lucy Lawless: Uh, yeah, well, whenever you notice something like that… a wizard did it
Frink: Yes, alright, yes, in episode AG04-” 
Lucy Lawless: Wizard!

 
 
It doesn’t waste time trying to bore you with explainations like, “why do they have a sausage-flare? Why do they call them sassages? How does an anthropromorphic hate turn food into poo? It doesn’t really matter. Would an answer really make you happier as a viewer? 
 
It reminds me of J.J. Abrams. He has a box that he received from his father at a young age, that he’s never opened. He’s never once opened it. Not even one peak. The mystery will forever remain. It’s what made Lost so breathtakingly unsatisfying. As a creator, you owe it to your audience to either answer questions appropriately or not at all. Adventure Time stratles that line to an impressive degree. You’re left longing for answers about the back story while feeling that much closer to the characters in the show. Just like early season of Lost. Can you imagine how much more satisfied we’d all have been if they’d simply never promised to answer questions about the origin of the island? Did we really need to see “Across the Sea?” Did a single human-being feel that they know more about the show, the origins of the island, or the characters on said island following weird reveal of WHO WERE THE BODIES IN THE CAVE THAT none of you honestly remembered from season one… you know… that burning question you had… and why do they fight over wine or something….
 
Adventure Time circumvents all that nonsense, because no one really cares about how flower/Master Shake wizard came to be. He was underground to hide himself from the world until a magic flower grew out of his head and gave life to Finn’s hat. Now that that single sentence is out of the way, let’s have a story arch where there is a clear redemption of his character where he’s allowed to overcome the demons his father thrust upon him through the power of maternal love. Just a few sentences that allows you to feel close to a character whose first appearance is coming out of the ground and snarls a bit. 
 
Finn and Jake spin around in a pool of water and make a whirlpool that’s small and kinda sucks. Everyone does it as a kid, he’ll I’ll still do it any time I’m in an above-ground pool, which admittedly happens so often. 
 
But in the end, good moms can put an end to badness. The last sequence is kinda great. All it takes is some good parenting to turn evil into good. You get to see the once evil hat made good, and the Wizard no longer turns everything he touches evil. Balance is restored and everyone gets to be happy. All because someone’s mom was a mench along the way. I gotta imagine Osama bin Laden had a shitty mom. I bet she was a real piece of work. 
 
 
Rando thoughts:
 
Why’s there a raspberrying horse? Why’s there a saloon? A cowboy? Banana Guards don’t seem to be particularly helpful.
 
Master Shake should be everywhere.
Kitchen gloves stop heat. Heat and magic. 
 
“He turned it into poo! This is poo now! Smell it!”
“BMO hit you on the butt… hehehe….”
“Sassages”
“You’re gettin’ kinda fat, dude.”
 
Anime-explosion jokes! 
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revolution recapping: soul train

Previously on Revolution: Plague Dogs

I’m not sure if there has ever been a dystopian, pseudo-post-apocalyptic television program that was as laugh-out-loud funny as Revolution is. The laughs probably aren’t always (or ever) intentional, but if you’re a fan of Acting Facial Expressions 101 and sudden and inexplicable plot twists, you’ll have a good time.

And if you’re a sappy, science-fiction dreamer who doesn’t know how to let a corny show go, then stay away.

Plot

Well, in this episode Charlie and company finally catch up to her captured brother Danny – only to lose him again. This all goes down in a little town energized by the presence of a big train. There are some confrontations: Charlie and Neville meet face-to-face for the first time, Miles and Neville fight, and not-Nate heroically defies Neville’s orders to help Charlie escape.

Got all that? Don’t worry; even if you skipped this entire episode, nothing much actually progressed. The biggest progression probably falls in the arena of “character development.” Nora realizes the fun of exploding things isn’t worth it if it costs human lives. Pre-blackout Neville realizes it’s okay to hit humans (not just punching bags) when your family’s life is at stake. Charlie realizes frowning, whining, and complaining 24/7 have been getting her nowhere, so she decides to toughen up and (presumably) get more interesting.

And in the end, two actual story developments popped up. Remember not-Nate? His name is Jason, and he’s actually Neville’s son! Also, Monroe gets Rachel to confess that there are 12 secret necklaces that will help turn the power back on. A hunt for an unwieldy number of objects that will probably take the whole season, if not longer? Sounds like J. J. Abrams! (Or Harry Potter – hello, horcruxes.)

Talking Points

Griping

Just call me, Charlie, right? So, yes, I’m having trouble keeping the negativity out of my analysis of this show – I can admit that. You know what I think it is? This show is so close to approaching greatness (and by close I mean . . . in the neighborhood. Or at least in the same state).  In my not-very-humble opinion, I think television needs more programs that push the boundaries of what we think is drama, what we crave as human interaction, and what we consider as a philosophical approach to the moral dilemmas we face every day. Is Revolution doing any of those things? No, not really, but it has the premise and the back story to achieve something close – burdened down, of course, by the character development and the plot progression of a slow-moving train to hell. I don’t know. After five episodes, I guess it’s still a draw.

Can You Handle It?

There’s an amazingly brilliant article from Market Watch writer David. B Wilkerson about problems Revolution and NBC may be forced to face in the coming weeks. Wilkerson writes, “Revolution is the kind of series that demands that its audience pay a lot of attention and think hard about each episode, as the ABC program Lost did so well . . . That sort of program may be too much for viewers who lead stressful daily lives.”

Oh, man. This world we live in. On this quote alone, I have reason to keep watching.

Revolution takes a break next week, but it’ll return Monday, October 29.

Hayley has other interests besides just nerdy TV shows. She also is a big fan of thinking. She ponders the great mysteries of life, like how more of her time can be devoted to watching those nerdy TV shows.

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Previously on Fringe: In Absentia

For all worried about what this season will bring, fear not. I have solved the great mystery! This season plays homage to… itself. More accurately, this season of Fringe will be similar to season one and two. There are “monsters of the week,” which move toward explaining how to defeat the Observers, or “the baldies” as Etta so eloquently calls them. So, kind of like my unhappy prediction, but better. 

Team Etta finds a location in one of Walter’s tapes, and they go off to find out why that location was so crucial. Turns out there are people with bark-like material covering parts of their bodies. The group of people, who live in the forest, have devoted their lives to recording earth’s history– all of the important events.

The mine nearby that gives the people their barky-skin houses rocks are an extremely powerful energy source. Just 40 pounds of that stuff and they’re ready to go. However, getting the rocks is an extremely difficult task; the further inside the cave you go, the more covered in barky-skin you become until your pores close to protect itself and you die. Recordist leader, played by Sci-Fi actor Paul McGillion, sacrifices his life to get the rocks and Team Etta narrowly escapes the Observers.

Although it’s different from the plot and episodal arcs of season three and four, I like where this season is going. I know that some people didn’t like the hardcore sci-fi parallel universes.

Thoughts, Opinions, Problems, and News 

  • I did like River Massey, Recordist leader’s son. Like me, he is a hardcore fan of the original Fringe team; he loves studying and learning about them. And the eulogy for his father was a touching scene.
  • I also enjoyed how Astrid had a larger part in the episode. Actually, I like how Etta took the backseat and hid in the bushes looking for the Observers so we could follow the original Fringe team.
  • I loved how we were given a chance to look through the Observers binoculars.
  • How did the recordist people know everything? How do their magical recording devices work? I need answers, Fringe.
  • If you have been reading these, I also feel kind of bad. This section is always very long, filled with huge rants about how I need all the answers immediately. But what kind of show would that be? If we had all the answers immediately, there would be no drama, no climax, no plot. So, sorry for being so nit-picky, Fringe.
  • How does Astrid have a cell phone? How do they communicate without the Observers knowing?
  • On that note, what do the Observers know? We know they can read minds; do the humans have to be within a certain proximity for them to know what’s happening? It would be a little bit unfair if they knew everything at every time. I’m working on my patience– I’m sure all the answers will be answered soon.
  • I am so glad we got to learn about Olivia and Peter’s backstory. It was refreshing — and a great relief– to hear that Olivia has been stoic and mopey for a reason. Her guilt over losing Etta. Hopefully she will be back to her usual self soon.
  • The traditional episode 19 will be episode number 9!
  • The next episode comes out in two weeks, on October 26. And the promo looks AMAZING. Titled “The Bullet That Saved the World,” the teaser has Observers, Olivia with an idea (our protagonist is back!), action, huge guns, Broyles, and Walter saying, “There was a time when we solved Fringe cases. It’s time we made a few of our own.” Whattt?! SO EXCITED. 

Quotes:

Astrid:  I found something. Walter, is there a mine where you are?

Walter: – Mime. The only mime that I know of is Marcel Marceau. What’s he got to do with any of this?

Astrid: No. a mine. You said mine – – m-i-n-e – – on the tape. Walter, whatever you’re supposed to find, it’s in a mine.

Walter: Do you have a mine – – m-i-n-e – – here?

***

Olivia: I wanted so much to be a mother, but… I just… didn’t think that I was programmed that way. That I was… destined for something else. Ever since I was a kid, ever since the Cortexiphan Trials, I just… I was at odds. So how could I have this incredible little girl? So, when we lost her, I felt like that was my punishment… my punishment for being too conflicted to appreciate her when we had her. And that day at the restaurant… I knew that I had to go back to New York because I didn’t want to… find… what I knew we were going to find. I just… I just believed so strongly that she was dead, and I didn’t want to see it. And you thought I went back because of my strength, and she said that she admired me today.

Peter: Olivia. I saw how you were with our little girl. I know how much you love her. And I’m not telling you to forget it, but… the past is the past. Don’t let it get in the way of this. I don’t know why it’s happening, But our family got a second chance. So I’m gonna take it.

***

Olivia: I wanted so much to be a mother, but… I just… didn’t think that I was programmed that way. That I was… destined for something else. Ever since I was a kid, ever since the Cortexiphan Trials, I just… I was at odds. So how could I have this incredible little girl? So, when we lost her, I felt like that was my punishment… my punishment for being too conflicted to appreciate her when we had her. And that day at the restaurant… I knew that I had to go back to New York because I didn’t want to… find… what I knew we were going to find. I just… I just believed so strongly that she was dead, and I didn’t want to see it. And you thought I went back because of my strength, and she said that she admired me today.

Peter: Olivia. I saw how you were with our little girl. I know how much you love her. And I’m not telling you to forget it, but… the past is the past. Don’t let it get in the way of this. I don’t know why it’s happening, But our family got a second chance. So I’m gonna take it.

***

River: A hero died today, sacrificing himself in order to get the Fringe Team resources they need to save our world. Edwin Massey, the Recorder of History, made history. He will be greatly missed. Like other great men before him, he gave his life selflessly in pursuit of freedom… and a better future.

River, with the Fringe comics he drew.

Emily enjoys all mediums of speculative fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi–especially reading, writing, and watching them. A Fringe fanatic, she is convinced that one day she will meet her parallel self, aptly nicknamed Femily (Fake Emily), and save both worlds from their inevitable destruction.

fringe recapping: the recordist

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revolution recapping: series premiere

Talk about a mixed bag. Revolution rumbled onto my television set late Monday night and left me with a big pile of questions, annoyances, and a middling stack of tepid interest. I want to like it, okay? I’m also prepared to see it canceled quicker than quirky stewardesses prancing around in the friendly skies. We’ll see NBC, we’ll see.

The Premise

All the electricity is out, and it’s been like that for about 15 years. The government has been replaced by a big scary militia. People walk around with crossbows and swords and gaze longingly at postcards showing the electric yesteryear. It’s like the zombie apocalypse – except without zombies. Or like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – except people smile every once in awhile and don’t mind wearing shades other than gray.

The Characters

  • Dad Ben knows something, but he’s not sharing it with viewers at home. Oh, and he dies about nine minutes into the episode. Of course.
  • Mom Rachel has major sci-fi cred. She had big parts in both Lost and V, but she sort of seems to be dead already as well.
  • Their daughter Charlie hardly smiles, knows how to identify an asthma attack (“You are having an asthma attack!!), and wields a bow like the long lost love child of Legolas and Katniss.
  • Danny, Charlie’s younger brother, has one distinguishing feature: he has asthma (“It is his asthma!!”).
  • Miles is Ben’s brother. His coolness is sort of forced on viewers, but it more or less works. Watch as he drinks all the whiskey! Watch as he kills all the men!
  • Someone not named Nate is a militia man. He’s Charlie’s complicated love interest.
  • Maggie is Ben’s British girlfriend.
  • Aaron is comic relief.
  • Sebastian is Dean’s former (?) friend. He’s also the big bad villain on the show (spoiler alert).

Where Are We Now?

The quality quad of Charlie, Aaron, Maggie, and Miles are off to rescue Danny from the militia men who killed Ben. Not-Nate has reunited with his militia brethren, but he seems to be harboring complicated feelings for Charlie because she’s the only pretty girl he’s seen since all the lights went out – or some other equally romantic reason. Sebastian, head honcho of the evil militia, is hanging out at his evil villain compound (a green lawn with some crisp white tents).

The “Wow” Factor

So I like a lot of things about this show. I’m always down for a high concept science-fiction tale, and this pretty much fits the bill. Complex characters bouncing around in complex settings boosted by an injection of post-apocalyptic shenanigans, tyrannical militias, and sword play is where I live (in my mind). I appreciate strong female characters, and I assume Charlie is supposed to be that based on her decidedly un-girly moniker. I’m also a sucker for anti-heroes that are a little rough around the edges – which I assume the Miles character is aiming for. Add a little intrigue about the fall of electricity and the people who may or may not be able to restore it? Sure, why not?

The “Ick” Factor

On the other hand, this episode felt like a recipe for cookies made out of only chocolate chips and flour. Yeah, the big ingredients were there, but everything else apparently got thrown out the window. Where are my multi-dimensional characters? Danny could literally have been played by a llama if you could teach a llama to have an asthma attack (a very serious and proper use of the word literally). Where is the interesting exposition? I have no idea why Revolution’s America is so empty. Zombie apocalypses conveniently deal with that problem by eating everyone, but without that gross luxury, I don’t understand how the entire country emptied to the point that Charlie has to ask if “there are other towns like ours.” Like other towns with people in them or other towns with beautiful, air-brushed people who have no personality? Because I’m doubtful about the latter.

Prognosis

So far, so good. Over ten million people reportedly tuned in. Let’s hope Revolution can keep up the ratings (and fix a few character and story problems while they’re at it).

Hayley has other interests besides just nerdy TV shows. She also is a big fan of thinking. She ponders the great mysteries of life, like how more of her time can be devoted to watching those nerdy TV shows.

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