Me — My Dislike for Televised Media

I’m not a big fan of televised media as a whole. It’s characteristics don’t synergize well with my personality for a number of reasons, and as such I don’t watch a whole lot of things. It has led to this new problem, though, that I can’t relate to analogies people bring up in movies or TV shows, even classics, so there’s this barrier that happens between me and other writers. It’s something I need to work on, and I’ve tried forcing myself to start a weekly classic movie night, but it has never stuck.

I’ll say this much—I like movies way more than TV, and this is almost entirely because of the time investment. I really don’t want to watch the same characters dealing with the same issues over and over again for twelve one hour long episodes for ten seasons. That’s just… insane to me. One season I can get behind, but investing hundreds of hours watching one thing? What a waste of time. (And yet here I am complaining when I’ve binge watched almost 500 hours of Critical Role. Humans are nothing if not contradictory.)

I can enjoy movies without complaint because I know it’ll be over in three-ish hours. It’s not something I’ll spend the whole day getting a fraction of the way through. I’ll meet the characters, experience their story, and be done. Rarely are movies made with the intent of cliffhangers to explore in the sequel. We can’t all be the MCU.

But the biggest roadblock for me is the fact that TV shows tend to be much more character driven than plot driven. I know how to write a plot. Telling stories is my jam. The thing that my writing is lacking in is character, so I would learn a lot more from TV than movies.

Okay, I do have an explanation for the Critical Role thing. The biggest reason why I’m not just watching televised media constantly is that it demands all of my attention and focus to consume it properly, and if you know anything about me it’s my incessant need to be multitasking whenever I can. I’m not just playing games, I’m listening to podcasts. I’m not just eating I’m making a new playlist of music. You get the idea. I can’t do that with movies or TV, so I can’t help but feel like I could be spending my time more efficiently.

Also, going to the movie theater is awful. $10 for 2 or 3 hours of entertainment, are you kidding me? I would expect a video game to entertain me for at least 15 hours with that price. (You’ll notice I dislike going to see things in theaters in particular.)

I really don’t have much free time to myself. Even devoting enough time to watch one new movie a week feels like a lot, and I no longer consider that free time. In an ideal world I would have a time every week where I just sit down and watch a new movie, but my schedule doesn’t currently allow for that.

So until that day comes I’ll sit here twiddling my thumbs and grumbling about how I dislike television like an eighty year old man that doesn’t understand texting.

Review — Logan

An obviously very prevalent movie currently in theaters, Logan is (supposedly) the last of the Wolverine/X-Men movies, or at least the last that Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart will be a part of. I’ll be giving this review spoiler free. After all, it’s often better to target “Hey is this worth watching?” people over “I wonder what everybody else thought of it” people, especially when it comes to newer things.

I’ll give a disclaimer here: I did not watch Rise of the Apocalypse. To be honest I don’t even know for sure if it’s in the same universe, because of all the time travel and retconning that happened. So my review could be a little biased without that information, but it is what it is.

First off, is it worth watching? Yes. It’s a lot sadder than I expected, and not for the reasons I expected, either. The entire movie has a beaten and jaded feel to it, as in the beginning we see Wolverine and the X-Men are old news. From the get-go we get the sense of “What now?” as it seems that life for everybody just sucks.

Here is the biggest problem I have with the movie. It doesn’t explain anything that happened or the position that everybody is in. Early on a new character is introduced that I had never heard of before (not being familiar with the comics), and while obviously important, his relationship to the other characters or reason for being there is only vaguely implicit. The entire beginning involves a lot of hitting the ground running as nothing is explained, you just have to say “That’s how things are? Oh, okay.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying suspension of disbelief is hard here. Rather it’s a lot more realistic and ‘gritty’ than many other superhero movies, but to me Logan seems to be set in a dystopia without a clear basis of what bad thing happened in the past. I have no trouble believing that life is hard in this world, I would just have liked to see how “this world” got to be in the first place.

Here’s the thing. Even if this problem is purely because I didn’t watch Rise of the Apocalypse, I would still have an issue. Yes, you should always read the first book in a series before you pick up the sequel, but you still need to explain what happened previously in that sequel.

To be frank here, that’s the only gripe I had with this movie. I personally didn’t like how violent and bloody it was, but I can’t fault it for that, all things considered. It was just a feature that didn’t suit me particularly well. Other than that, the character interaction, the set design, the film score, everything worked out and was executed quite well. Many of the things I expected to happen did, but in this instance it was good. It’s always cool to think “Realistically, this character should just shoot the guy” and then have that occur half a second later. That means the characters are acting believably, and that’s always a great quality to see in acting.

So, is it worth watching? Yeah, totally. Just know that it’s really sad, violent, and more dystopian than you may or may not have expected.

Review — Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (250)

I can finally say that I’ve watched the entire original Star Wars trilogy. I have to say, it makes a lot of sense why this series is so big. Lucas made a movie that was great for a lot of reasons, and then they kept going and made two good sequels. This series is iconic for so many reasons I can hardly even scratch the surface, but let’s wrap up the last of this series of reviews with Return of the Jedi. It’s worth noting that I will continue watching the movies, getting into the prequel trilogy before The Force Awakens, but for the next two weeks I’ll be preoccupied with other things. I’ll probably review Moby Dick next week. Sorry.

Anyways, while this movie is still great, I’d say it just might be the weakest of the three, or at least on par with Episode V in terms of its inferiority to A New Hope. Before I get into its faults, though, let me explain the awesome points this movie has.

First and foremost, my favorite part was that it had some really awesome character moments. Virtually every main character got at least one scene of growth, and they’re some quality scenes, too.

For example, I loved watching Luke talk to Vader about halfway through the movie. No fighting, no prisoner mentality. It was father to son talk, and I was amazed that that scene even existed. We get so much insight to Vader’s character that, along with all the other foreshadowing in this movie, we can almost see the good in him being shadowed by the Dark Side. Perhaps I’m speaking from prior knowledge here, but a lot of factors pointed to the fact that Vader isn’t all bad. For one, he clearly has compassion for his son, especially in that scene. I got the vibe that it wasn’t the fact that Vader wanted the extra power on the Dark side to make it easy for the Galactic Empire to be victorious. He didn’t try to convert Luke for power’s sake. He did it for Luke’s sake. It was the fact that he wants his son to be the strongest he can be, as well as the fact that they would be father and son on the winning side of a war. It’s simply safest. It makes sense. Seeing them debate those points was awesome.

We also see the Big Bad, the Emperor, prominently. He’s obviously super strong, and we see how persuasive he is towards pushing Luke to the Dark Side. Luke didn’t have anything to do with the battle of Endor, and it looked as though his friends would “fail” for quite a huge chunk of this movie (though we the audience pretty much know they won’t). We see him almost give in, and that entire scene of his conflicted emotions with those two Sith Lords in the room is great. He finally defeats his father (by appropriately cutting his hand off), until finally Sidious steps in and puts him in his place with Force Lightning, which was in no way a pre-established power. I already knew he had them, but an older audience wouldn’t have. Caught me off guard how suddenly that occurred. Vader finally (it took way too long in that scene) succumbs to Luke’s pleadings (being electrocuted helps the paternal instinct kick in. Good thinking, Luke), and he throws the Emperor into the pit of death. Great redemption scene of him turning to the Light Side again.

This movie also had some great moment to moment scenes. Watching Luke come in at the beginning of the movie as a “fully realized” Jedi felt pretty sweet. Finally he’s the hero that can stop the Empire! Watching the ewoks fight off the Empire troops was awesome, and seeing the subtle shoulder slump in the storm trooper as he realized he was lead into a trap by Han (with all the rebels behind the bunker) was hilarious. Also Leia suffocating Jabba with her slave chain was brutal.

But as all movies do, this one did have a few shortcomings. Primarily, my main criticism is the main plot. A second, bigger Death Star? That’s the best ending you could come up with to wrap this story up? Telling us a story we basically already heard? Granted there was a lot that was different about this one, but the main thing was the same. It was sort of silly. Though they did clean up the confusion of that star battle scene this time around. I had a much easier time discerning how well this battle was going as opposed to A New Hope.

That was really my only big criticism. There were small things that bothered me, though. I don’t like how the time gap between the two movies is really vague (especially when important things happened, like Luke forging his own lightsaber). Boba Fett really wasn’t much of a character at all, which was annoying. He very easily could have been omitted from the trilogy altogether. I don’t like how Lando was piloting the Falcon when they blew up the Death Star, because I think that was a responsibility only Han should have taken. I understand contextually why Han didn’t volunteer, but if they didn’t have him do it, why have Lando pilot the Falcon? It very easily could have been scripted either way, but it felt “off” for that scene to be done with a prominent ship without its pilot when they could have easily written the real pilot into the same position.

Overall, great movies. I’m definitely looking forward to Episode VII (not so much the original trilogy, though I know they’re not that bad). And now I can finally be excited for a new Star Wars movie that is coming out soon! Even before watching the original trilogy, the Star Wars universe is by far my favorite sci-fi setting. There’s something about the Jedi Order and the ‘old yet futuristic’ vibe the world gives off, and the charm strikes something in me I can’t quite explain. I’ve never been one for writing fanfiction, but what little I did do focused on unexplored characters or past events we only hear about. The Star Wars universe is overflowing with that sort of stuff. Maybe I’ll toy with the idea one day.

Review –Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back

Continuing on with my review series of the Star Wars films is Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. If you haven’t read the review of A New Hope, know that these critiques come from having seen this movie for the first time very recently. As always I try to give the facts with these reviews, and as good as the Star Wars series is, it still has flaws.

Overall, I’d say that this movie suffers from the same dilemma many movie or TV series sequels are crippled by. The first movie was made as a stand alone, enjoyable piece, whereas the second one was made with the intent that there would be at least one movie or season to follow it. As a result, A New Hope was a much stronger movie. Episode V sets many pieces into place that I’m interested to see to their fruition, but it doesn’t end as well. That being said, the weird part about this is that I’d say the actual climax is much better in Episode V.

In The Empire Strikes Back, we explore a lot more of the universe, both geographically and politically. We get to see the ice planet Hoth, the swamps of Dagobah, Cloud City, and even the lesser locations like the asteroid field have their own sort of intrigue to them. Exploring different star systems like this effectively ‘prove’ that this story is taking place all over the galaxy. This movie also does a great job at showing just how grave a threat the Empire really is. We thought star destroyers were big until we see the Executor class ship, and then we see how Lando is powerless to stop Vader from doing anything he wants. There is no deal. There is “You will do as I say or the Empire will be watching your city far more closely than you’d like.” Lastly, we see how insanely strong Vader is as he uses the Force to choke an Imperial Officer on a communications monitor from who knows how far away. Even knowing the main plot, I was surprised. On top of that, we see the Emperor for the first time, and watching how submissive Vader is to him is chilling.

The fight scene between Luke and Vader was completely unexpected. I thought that it was the defining moment of the trilogy, and seeing it fall together in the second movie was surprising. In this movie the lightsaber battles are still pretty lacking, but I would argue that while those scenes show the films’ age, I imagine they are still pretty good for the era. It isn’t the fight that makes that scene good. It’s how vastly outmatched Luke obviously is here. It’s to be expected, as well. Luke never finished his training and he is trying to stand up against one of the most powerful Sith of the Empire. (And it’s here I realize that the name ‘Sith’ has never been mentioned as of yet. I wonder why that is?)

As far as shortcomings go, again, this movie has a weak ending. The climax battle is solid, but the denouement is really strange. I simply had so many questions I have no clue where the sixth episode will go. For example, I don’t know why Lando & Chewie split up from Luke & Leia. Lando is going to Tatooine to save Han, which makes sense, but what are Luke & Leia doing? I imagine the next step for Luke is to finish his Jedi training, but there was literally no destination established for them, and Leia being there leaves me wondering. If Luke goes back to Dagobah and Leia goes to do some Rebel leadership stuff, why not split them up at the end of Episode V? It just seems really weird because I’m left with no clear indication of our main characters’ immediate objectives. Also, it seems thematically strange to sever Luke’s hand only to solve that problem with a prosthetic less ten minutes later. It seems like giving him a prosthetic would have been a scene better suited midway into the last movie. Of course I say this not having any clue what the next movie will entail. Maybe this was the only scene it makes sense to have happened in.

As a side note, I hate relationships in basically all mediums. It’s a strong personal bias, I know, but it’s just unnecessary. The main characters don’t need to fall in love in ever single movie ever made. Taking this movie/series in particular, I don’t understand the love triangle with Leia. If she ‘falls in love’ with Han, why have that weird incest thing with Luke at all? (Yes, I realize they don’t know they’re siblings.) I also don’t believe that Leia could go from barely tolerating Han to in love with him. I get that she’s supposed to be in love with him the whole time and is simply in denial the first half, but it transitions very poorly. It seems weird that she goes from denial to very sudden acceptance to “I love you” in the span of a few days. Maybe I’m just ignorant on that front, but it just takes me out of the movie when those scenes happened.

So, I’m excited for the last movie. All I know is that there is a battle on Endor with wookies and ewoks, and also there’s a second Death Star. Obviously Boba Fett will be a larger character, as well, given what happened in this movie, and the Emperor will probably make some bigger appearance, too, given he’s the ‘big bad’. So, stay tuned for next week.

Review — Finding Dory (215)

Finding Dory was the first movie I’ve seen in over a month. I guess that’s not that surprising when I haven’t really even had time to relax, but still. The latest movie review I did was on John Wick, which was in August. Let’s get to it.

Now, an interesting thing I’m realizing as I write this is that I haven’t heard anything about this movie. It’s been out for two months and I only assume that people liked it simply because it hasn’t been subject in any conversation I’ve been a part of.

As far as movie sequels that didn’t need to happen go, I’d say it wasn’t bad. The plot is sort of obvious (I mean, come on), but since it took place in an aquarium(ish) it had an interesting feel to it. We’re not traveling across the ocean this time. There are different obstacles involved here. Mostly walls and traveling outside of the water.

This movie had a lot more charm than I was expecting. I liked the majority of the new characters, and as was to be expected, it was pretty funny. I think that’s where most of my entertainment came from. I liked certain characters because they were funny, so I knew how much I would like a scene based on which characters were prevalent.

It did, of course, have its flaws. I had two big issues with the movie. The first was that in order to make things more dramatic, things happened a lot when communication would have made things go a lot more smoothly. It’s frustrating when a character goes off and does something just to cause tension and character conflict, and that happens a lot. There isn’t a whole lot of sitting there “relaxing” in this movie, because the tension never really lets up, making it a little exhausting. Along with this is sort of a side track. I’d say the last twenty percent of the movie didn’t really need to happen. (Of course, the climax and stuff would have had to shift around to compensate for a shorter movie. My point is that it could have been done.) There are a lot of unnecessary conflicts that occur just to make all the pieces fall perfectly into place, which leads me to my second point.

My second issue is that it’s unrealistically predictable. Yes, I get that this movie is for kids. I’m not saying it’s unrealistic. (Well…) I’m just saying that the movie ends exactly as you would expect and it prioritizes that ending over realism. This movie did have a lot of surprisingly accurate depictions of things, sure, but only when the plot didn’t require otherwise.

“Hm. We need this character to go from A to B to encounter this new conflict.”

“Well, in the real world there is no way for that to happen. Aquariums are sort of designed so that fishes in Place A can’t get to Place B.”

“Well, it needs to happen.”

“Alright, fine.”

Again, kids movie. I get that. But that doesn’t invalidate the issue. I’d say huge studios like Pixar should be able to go the extra mile to put even more realism into these things. Heck, even if the movie was realistic, if it doesn’t feel realistic, there’s still a problem there.

Overall, like I said, it wasn’t bad. I liked a lot of the new characters. In fact I’d say I liked virtually all of the new characters more than Marlin, Nemo, and Dory. They’re actually pretty flat in this movie, which is disappointing but not surprising.