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Saturday, November 19, 2022 11:08 PM
(Last updated on Saturday, November 19, 2022 11:25 PM)
On the Viewer - Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities: Season 1
 by Fëanor

Hello folks! Been quite a while since I posted on here about anything other than my books, but I recently finished making my way through the first season of Netflix's horror anthology show, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, and I thought I'd talk about it a bit.

Guillermo del Toro, if you are somehow unaware, is a film director who is known for fantastical movies about monsters. I'm a huge fan. This show is kind of his version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; he shows up at the beginning to introduce each episode, but it's a different director telling a different story each time, and there's no connection between the stories, besides the shared genre.

Episode 1 - Lot 36
This is one of the two episodes co-written by del Toro; it's directed by Guillermo Navarro, a cinematographer and long-time collaborator of his. It's set in America during the Gulf War and stars Tim Blake Nelson as a mean, greedy, self-interested, misanthropic veteran who buys the contents of abandoned storage units and sells off the items in them for as much money as he can get. He has no sympathy with, or interest in, the former owners of the units, and when one shows up to ask for some of her personal effects back, he refuses out of pure spite. He's the classic awful horror protagonist that you spend the whole story just waiting to see get his comeuppance.

His latest unit, it turns out, belonged to a former Nazi, and has some very creepy, but also very rare and valuable, items hidden away in it, including an infamous set of volumes on black magic. If he can find the final volume in the set, a collector promises him a huge cash payout - large enough to pay off the loan shark who's been threatening him.

This is a pretty solid horror story, with a creepy story, creepy and effective visuals, and some of my favorite horror tropes. But it does suffer a bit from having a completely unlikable and occasionally stupid protagonist. It also introduces some mysteries that are never satisfactorily explained. I'm okay with that sometimes, but this time I really wanted to know why that guy was skipping on the security cam footage. The conclusion of the story, though satisfying in its own way, feels a bit anticlimactic. You're told what's going to happen, and then you have to wait around while it inevitably happens.

Episode 2 - Graveyard Rats
This one's quite fun. It's written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who made the original Cube. It has a darkly comic flavor to it and stars David Hewlett as a highly-educated man who, nevertheless, finds himself trying to scrape by as a graverobber. The cemetery where he plies his trade has had only slim pickings lately due to an extraordinary rat infestation - they keep stealing away the corpses, and all the valuable items buried with them, before he can plunder them. If he doesn't come up with some big ticket items soon, the sketchy guy at the dock who buys the goods off him may just bury him instead.

You may notice the plot here is very similar to that of the first episode: a down-on-his-luck guy engaged in a seedy enterprise must make a big score or likely die. This time, though, our protagonist is slightly more likable. Sure, he's a little pompous and awkward, but he has something of the sad, bumbling clown about him, too. Oh, and he's also claustrophobic. You can imagine what happens to him later.

This episode is a lot of familiar tropes presented well, with good effects and cool visuals. There's nothing astonishing here, but it gets the job done in the creepy crawlies department.

Episode 3 - The Autopsy
Another rather strong entry, this one directed by newcomer David Prior, and written by the prolific and talented screenwriter, director, and producer David S. Goyer. Our main character this time is a clever, likable medical examiner played by F. Murray Abraham. He's deathly ill, but facing it with wry equanimity. A sheriff who's an old friend of his has called him in to perform autopsies on a bunch of dead bodies recovered from the site of a mining accident. The "accident" was preceded by a strange series of disappearances, reappearances, and grisly discoveries, and the sheriff wants to know how it's all connected and what it all means. Our medical examiner hero discovers the answers, to his cost.

This is a disturbing and gory one. There were a couple of scenes where I had to turn away and squeeze my eyes shut until they were over. With Abraham in the lead, and other talented actors in the secondary roles, it's full of fine performances. There's a thoughtful, philosophical feel to portions of it, but in some ways I feel like it explains too much. The villain is an inveterate monologuer, and he gets a little tiresome. But if you want the creeps, this will give you the creeps!

Episode 4 - The Outside
Hoo boy. This one is something! I'm not familiar with the writer or the director, who are Haley Z. Boston and Ana Lily Amirpour, respectively. This episode features our first female main character, a bank teller named Stacey. She's played by Kate Micucci, with Martin Starr as her husband and Dan Stevens as the host of the unsettling infomercial that claims it can make Stacey's dream come true. Said dream is to be beautiful and popular, so she can fit in with the beautiful, popular girls at work. Why this is her dream isn't always easy to understand, as the other girls at work are pretty awful to her, and do nothing but gossip incessantly about all the sleaziest local drama, insulting and disparaging everyone they talk about.

After a hallucinatory interaction with a late night TV commercial, Stacey becomes obsessed with a skin cream that she's sure will help transform her into her perfect self. She uses it and continues to use it, despite the fact that it makes her break out horribly in red itchy spots. The cream is white and does a lot of splurting and squelching. The resemblance to another white substance is definitely not a mistake.

One thing I found interesting about this story is that, counter to the expected stereotype, Stacey's husband is not an abusive jerk! He is unflaggingly supportive and loving. It doesn't make any difference in the end, but still, it's refreshing.

This is really the only story in the whole anthology that features social commentary. It talks about the cultural obsession with a very specific kind of shallow, boilerplate sexual attractiveness, which television media encourages women to seek out and inhabit at the expense of all else. The pursuit of the destruction of idiosyncratic self in preference for this smooth, plastic ideal leads one woman into madness, violence, and death. It's surreal, darkly funny, and often deeply uncomfortable to watch.

Episode 5 - Pickman's Model
This was one of the episodes I was looking forward to the most, as it's based on a classic short story by H.P. Lovecraft that I quite enjoy. Sadly, I was disappointed. It's directed by Keith Thomas, another newcomer I was unfamiliar with. I did recognize the two male stars, however: Ben Barnes is our main character, Will, and the perpetually weird and creepy Crispin Glover plays the titular Richard Pickman. Will and Pickman are both art students at Miskatonic University, a school familiar to anyone who's read Lovecraft, and a school which is, most unfortunately, located in Arkham, Massachusetts. I say "most unfortunately" because this setting convinced the filmmakers to have Barnes and Glover speak all of their lines in absolutely atrocious Boston accents. Glover's is particularly egregious. It makes listening to the dialog a truly painful experience, far more horrifying and off-putting than any of the nightmarish sights we're presented with.

The plot is tiresome, proceeding in odd stops and starts, and sometimes veering off unexpectedly. It opens with odd outsider Pickman joining Will's art class. Will is fascinated by the man's unique, nightmarish paintings, and at first tries to befriend him, even calling him by the unfortunate nickname "Dickie." But Will quickly discovers that Pickman's work doesn't just look nightmarish - it also seems to bring nightmares to life in the waking world. The surreal visions Will experiences after looking at Pickman's paintings nearly ruin his relationship with his girlfriend and her family. Luckily for him, at this point Pickman inexplicably decides to pick up and leave, taking all his paintings with him.

Here the story makes a jarring time jump. All of a sudden, Will has gray in his hair and the girlfriend who seemed to have dumped him in the previous scene is now his wife. They even have a young son. This was such an unexpected and unexplained turn of events, I thought maybe it was meant to be a dream - but no!

Anyway, Will's successful, comfortable life is once again thrown off the rails by the sudden (again, unexplained) reappearance of Pickman and his oddly infectious paintings.

There's an attempt made to connect this story with the larger Lovecraftian Mythos by having some of the characters start chanting about Yog-Sothoth (the name of one of Lovecraft's Great Old Ones), but it doesn't go much of anywhere.

What exactly is the deal with Pickman's art? What does it do to people, and what does that have to do with his family history and the thing in his basement? It's not entirely clear. This adaptation does eventually recreate the shocking reveal that was the climax of the original short story. But since by that time we've already guessed as much, it's not very shocking. Furthermore, this adaptation seems to be telling a different story entirely, so the reveal doesn't make a great deal of sense. The final scene, though certainly horrific and effective in its way, is also a well-used cliche. After it's strongly implied that a certain horrible act has been performed, we crawl slowly toward the shocking reveal that...yes, that's just exactly what happened. Clumsily undercutting your own final revelation doesn't make for a great ending.

Episode 6 - Dreams in the Witch House
Another disappointing Lovecraft adaptation! Yay. This one was directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Mika Watkins, and it stars Rupert "Ronald Weasley" Grint in the main role, struggling with another very bad fake accent. He plays a spiritual investigator who, as a child, witnessed his twin sister's spirit being dragged away into another dimension upon her untimely death. He's been obsessed with finding his way to the other side ever since. With the help of a mysterious drug, and a stay in a haunted house built by a witch, he succeeds - unfortunately for him.

"Dreams in the Witch-House" is a lesser known Lovecraft story, but one I quite like, with fascinating ideas like mad geometry, impossible angles, and a creepy rat-like familiar named Brown Jenkin. Unfortunately, this adaptation doesn't really capture the flavor of that story, though it does include some of the characters and plot elements, and certainly features some really fantastically unsettling images. The crooked silhouette of the witch, lit only by her own burning eyes, lurking in the dark corners of the old house; the walls covered with strange symbols and creeping vines; and within those walls, the pattering feet of a rat with a human face...yeah, that's quality stuff.

Sadly, there's a lot of other stuff here that feels like filler, and doesn't work as well. The episode drags on a bit, and certain twists of the plot, including the final one at the end, feel random and arbitrary.

Episode 7 - The Viewing
A lot of horror stories can be broken into two parts: the slow buildup of tension and mystery, and then the horrifying revelation and payoff. The Viewing is like 80% buildup. It's well done, and super stylish buildup, but still...that's a lot of buildup. And the payoff, when it finally comes, is anticlimactic.

This episode was written and directed by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, who are also responsible for the absolutely insane and surreal Nicolas Cage vehicle, Mandy. I was not surprised to learn this, as the music and visuals in this short reminded me of that film. The music and visuals are effective and fun - this thing is dripping with style.

Eric Andre, Charlyne Yi, Steve Agee, and Michael Therriault play experts in widely varying fields who are all called together for a mysterious "viewing" by a reclusive and fabulously wealthy eccentric played by Peter Weller. After a lengthy intro, a rambling conversation, and a lot of drug-taking, Weller's character finally reveals that he's brought this group together to look at a weird rock he found. The rock is much more than it seems (natch), and things go horribly awry (natch).

The climax is exciting and gory. But then the story just kind of...trails off. There's a lot of philosophical talk, and a pretty cool monster, but what exactly is the point of it all? It's not clear.

Episode 8 - The Murmuring
This episode is easily the best of the season. It's written and directed by Jennifer Kent, who made the modern horror classic The Babadook. This short is concerned with the same theme as that film - grief.

Nancy and Edgar, a married couple who've recently experienced a terrible loss, are researching why and how birds are able to move so swiftly and seamlessly in enormous flocks called murmurations. As part of their research, they head out to a secluded island to record the behavior of birds called dunlins. They've been provided an old house to stay in while they're out there, but the house is haunted by its own terrible secrets. As Nancy struggles with sleeplessness and terrifying hallucinations, she becomes obsessed with learning the history of the house and the family that once lived there, and her relationship with Edgar begins to break apart.

Powerful, visceral performances from Essie Davis and Andrew Lincoln give this story weight and realism. It's a slower, more lyrical story than the rest, but it has plenty of scares and terrifying moments. It's also far and away the most emotionally hard-hitting episode of the season. My eyes were definitely leaking by the end. It's a gorgeous, deeply moving piece - a wonderful conclusion to the season.

It sounds like del Toro is already planning a second season. The first one was uneven, but that's to be expected of an anthology series. I'll definitely be curious to see more.
Tagged (?): Horror (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Netflix (Not), On the Viewer (Not), TV (Not)
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Thursday, June 9, 2022 03:31 PM
It's that time again
 by Fëanor

I made you another STRANGER WORLD book! This one is called BOOK AND HALL and you can pre-order it now on Barnes & Noble. It will be officially released on June 27, 2022, when it will also be available on Amazon.com.

This is the hardcover edition, by the way. The paperback and eBook editions will follow either late this year or early next year. I'll certainly let you know!

This particular entry in the Stranger World series is a pretty fun one I think. The main setting for the story is a maze-like museum full of creepy and fascinating magical artifacts, overseen by a mysterious collector and his grumpy bear butler. There's also a winged horse, a squad of werewolves, and the return of two recurring characters: the Puzzle Piece Man and Esthuan Thievesbane.

I'm sorry to say this book also features the final appearance in the series of Hunter's best friends, Gertrude Clemmons and David Kim. My first draft of the Stranger World story was one enormous novel, and in that version, Gert had even fewer scenes, and David had almost none. When I decided to split the book into six parts, and it came time to flesh out this section of the story, I made it a priority to give Gert and David more space, because I really enjoyed the dynamic between Hunter and his friends. Also, with the story split into separate books, I needed to find ways to remind you of what happened last time at the beginning of each book. I found a way to combine both those purposes with this book's opening scene.

It was also breaking the story up, and then needing to flesh out the separate parts into their own books, that gave birth to the character of Esthuan Thievesbane, who ended up being one of my favorite things about the story. She gets a chance to shine again here.

Anyway, I hope you like the book, and thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Book and Hall (Not), Books (Not)
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Sunday, March 6, 2022 10:34 AM
You Get a Book! And You Get a Book!
 by Fëanor

Hi, folks! Just popping on to mention that you can now purchase my latest book, RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE, in paperback format on Amazon!

It wasn't supposed to come out until tomorrow, but Amazon is weird about paperbacks and doesn't let you put them on presale or set exactly when they're going to be published; you just have to push the button a little before they're supposed to be available and hope for the best. So you get it a day early! It'll be officially released in paperback and eBook everywhere else tomorrow.

I'm afraid the Amazon paperback edition of RING AND IRON is a bit more expensive than the previous volumes in the series, and I'm honestly not entirely sure why. It's a bit longer, mostly because I increased the font size, so that might be it. But it's also possible that production costs have just gone up.

The good news is, if paying for books is not your thing, I've still got you covered! Now until the end of March, you can enter a giveaway for a FREE copy of the Kindle eBook edition of RING AND IRON on Goodreads! A lot of people have already entered, so better get on it if you want your chance.

I've said it before, but RING AND IRON really is my best book yet, and it catches you up on the story so far, so if you've been avoiding the series until now, I hope you'll give this one a try.

Regardless, as always, thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Thursday, December 2, 2021 10:49 PM
Interview!
 by Fëanor

I got interviewed! Check it out.
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Sea and Sword (Not)
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Tuesday, November 2, 2021 08:46 AM
Do you like free stuff?
 by Fëanor

If you're curious about my books, but aren't sure you want to spend money to find out if they're any good, I have good news for you! I'm giving away my latest book, RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE! There are separate giveaways running now on Facebook and Twitter. It's easy to enter, and if you win, I'll send you a free signed hardcover copy of the book! Just get in there soon, because I'll pick the winners in six days, on 11/8/21.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Sunday, October 31, 2021 08:36 AM
(Last updated on Sunday, October 31, 2021 08:38 AM)
My New Book Is Out!
 by Fëanor

Hey, I totally jumped the gun and released my new book! BOOM! RING AND IRON: A STRANGER WORLD ADVENTURE is out now!

Wee!

Yeah, I was planning on holding out until 12/6 for the release, and putting it on pre-order tomorrow, but then I was reading about supply chain issues that are effecting the publishing industry, and how book orders later than early November would likely not make it to folks in time for the holidays, and I decided to just pull the trigger. I want you to have it in your hands before the end of the year, so here you go!

If you don't want to buy it on Amazon, you can also pre-order it on Barnes and Noble. It'll come out on that site on 11/14. They wouldn't let me release it any earlier than that for some reason.

Keep in mind, this is the hardcover release; the paperback and eBook versions will come out some time next year.

Because I'm a self-published author, my books survive on "word of mouth," so I would really appreciate it if you would tell folks about RING AND IRON. It's my best book yet. It has magic and adventure and monsters and mystery, and I think it's good fun for all ages, 8 to 1000. Post about it on social media! Review it on Amazon! Tell people about it when you pass them in the street!

Of course, RING AND IRON is even better if you've already read the first two entries in the series, TREE AND BEAST and SEA AND SWORD, but you can start here and not be lost. I do the thing in the beginning where I get you up to speed on the story, don't worry!

Anyway, I hope you all love the book. Thanks for reading!
Tagged (?): A Stranger World (Not), Books (Not), Ring and Iron (Not)
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Wednesday, May 19, 2021 03:35 PM
(Last updated on Thursday, May 20, 2021 11:50 AM)
UPGRADE!
 by Fëanor

Hey folks, just letting you know, I went ahead and upgraded my website to a newer version of PHP, because my host warned me the one I was using was painfully, unsupportably old (oops!). So, please let me know if you see any issues as you're poking around. Thanks!

ETA: While I was at it, I also got myself an SSL certificate, so you can now visit my site in a secure fashion using https! Very exciting. To me, anyway.
Tagged (?): Meta (Not)
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Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:03 AM
(Last updated on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:07 AM)
On the Viewer - Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)
 by Fëanor

Here's another live-tweet compilation, this time from a re-watch of Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars micro-series, which recently got added to Disney+. Technically, I believe this series is no longer canon, but as this article points out (thanks to my friend Camden for sending me the link), it could pretty easily be inserted into the story that the later The Clone Wars series tells, with a few small exceptions. And it should be, because it's great!

——

Like a lot of Tartakovsky's work, the original Clone Wars strongly emphasizes action and awesome visuals over words. There are lengthy sequences with no dialogue of any kind. Yet you always know what's going on. It's a very clear visual story, often told on a massive scale.

——

A lot of really fun and inventive designs, for the characters, settings, and vehicles. Also some great characters are introduced and developed here, like Ventress and Grievous. The Grievous we meet in this show is far more terrifying and dangerous than the one in the movies.

——

Durge is another really interesting character design. The way he bulges and extends and persists reminds me of Akira, and of the rampaging poisoned animal spirits in Princess Mononoke. I'm pretty sure the character never speaks, either. At least, he hasn't so far.

[Editor's note: indeed, he does not.]

——

One of the things Tartakovsky's Clone Wars is better at than maybe any other Star Wars show or movie is capturing the awesome power and incredible abilities of the Jedi, especially Jedi Masters like Windu.

——

It's also amazing at handling things of massive scale, like a gigantic warship with a huge, army-flattening piston on the bottom. Not a vehicle we see anywhere else, but this show makes it very memorable.

——

Anakin's duel with Ventress near the end of volume one of Clone Wars is just a masterpiece. Gorgeous setting, dramatic lighting, amazing action. And then of course the powerful metaphor of him picking up one of her own red lightsabers to ultimately defeat her.

——

The duel is followed by the introduction of Grievous, which is equally fantastic. Previous episodes have established how powerful the Jedi are, and now we see them defeated and cowering in terror from Grievous, who easily defeats a group of them single-handedly.

——

On Tartakovsky's Clone Wars, we learn more about the rituals and ceremonies of the Jedi than we ever have before. We learn there's a series of trials a padawan normally has to overcome to be granted knighthood, and we even get to see the rite where Anakin becomes a knight.

——

Yoda himself cuts off Anakin's braid to officially knight him. In a nice touch, Padme receives the braid and places it in a keepsake box along with the japor snippet necklace Anakin made for her when he was a boy. There's also some nice Qui-gon references.

——

There's a funny scene where Anakin gets to see 3PO in his gold plating for the first time. Then scenes of Anakin being a competent hero, coming to the rescue of other Jedi. Which is nice. Sometimes in the movies he's such a jerk it's hard to understand why anyone likes him.

——

Padme sees Anakin with his scar for the first time. R4 is destroyed and R2 becomes Anakin's droid. Lots of milestones in their lives, but it doesn't feel like they're just ticking boxes; it feels organic, like you're watching these characters change and grow.

——

I appreciate that Commander Cody first appears flying in with a jetpack. He's named after an old serial character who was famous for flying around with a jetpack.

——

Star Wars repeats lines of dialog like it repeats musical phrases and themes. I like that Obi-wan gets to say, "What an incredible smell you've discovered." They do a good job here developing their slightly antagonistic, big brother/little brother friendship dynamic.

——

Anakin is the hot-headed, action-oriented guy, while Obi-wan is more patient, thoughtful, precise. "There are alternatives to fighting," more repeated dialog...

——

It's nice that Mace Windu has a purple starship and a purple droid, all to match his purple lightsaber.

——

I'm not a huge fan of Star Wars' heroes tending to take advantage of a native alien culture's beliefs to manipulate them into assisting in their wars. It happens again here, with Obi-wan putting Anakin forward as some kind of prophesied hero.

——

Yoda absolutely wrecking the droid invasion forces with jaw-dropping displays of power. Good stuff.

——

Let's pick up where we left off with Clone Wars!

Yoda & Windu together are an almost unstoppable force.

I love the image of the Chancellor calmly drinking tea, watching the battle outside his window. He's orchestrated this war between disposable armies and he's gonna enjoy it!

——

Fantastic build of drama and tension as the Jedi wait at the elevator, watching the closed doors of the chancellor's office, behind which they can hear Grievous picking apart the clone soldiers...

——

Grievous is a deadly force of nature in this show. Just a terrifying monster. It's great.

——

The Ithorian Jedi's roaring trick is a unique ability that we haven't seen before. Fun.

——

I think this marks the first appearance of Grievous' staff-wielding bodyguards, another fun creation.

——

One of the trials a padawan faces to become a Jedi is the trial of the mirror, where they must overcome the darkness within themselves. This is the trial Luke faced in the cave on Dagobah, and the trial Anakin is facing on this alien world.

——

In Anakin's cave, the pictures on the wall begin to move, and they tell the story of a warrior whose hand was lost in a battle with evil. The new hand that took its place gave him power with which he defeated many enemies. But the power ran wild and killed his friends, too.

——

As the story ends, a face appears in the midst of the twisting vines of darkness: the face of Vader.

What a powerful moment. And as with a lot of Tartakovsky's most powerful scenes, it is entirely wordless - a purely visual story.

——

I love the realistic details, like the recorded voice repeatedly asking them all to "please deposit two Republic credits" as they run into the subway.

——

I love the inventive ways they use the force here: quietly lifting up the end of Grievous' cape and tying it to the end of a departing train. Brilliant!

Also, "no capes!" :LOL:

——

Yoda and Windu aren't just incredible warriors, they're also brilliant thinkers. As they're fighting, they both realize at the same moment that the invasion is just a distraction to hide the enemy's true purpose: the kidnapping of Chancellor Palpatine.

——

Shaak Ti stays behind to give her fellow Jedi time to get Palpatine to safety. Man, you just hate Palpatine even more in this scene, knowing that her sacrifice is meaningless, that this is all just a little play he's directing, and that his kidnapper is really his servant.

——

Anakin: "Do you think they'll be able to reclaim their old lives?"
Obi-wan: "I sense they will, as long as each of them is able to accept himself."

Anakin cringes at this. He doesn't seem sure he can accept what he might become...

——

Shaak Ti actually survives this, but is defeated. Windu manages to get a parting shot in on Grievous, crushing his chest plate, which explains why Grievous is always coughing and wheezing in Revenge of the Sith.

——

Anakin replaces his destroyed mechanical arm with a new one, now gloved in black - an ominous sign of what's to come. Obi-wan tries to comfort him, saying what we see inside ourselves can be frightening, but our choices shape our destiny. Unfortunately, Anakin makes bad choices.

——

Clone Wars takes us right up to the opening of Revenge of the Sith, ending literally moments before the events of that movie begin.

It's a thrilling, gorgeous, brilliantly realized part of the Star Wars story. I was really glad to be able to see it again.
Tagged (?): On the Viewer (Not), Star Wars (Not), TV (Not)
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 07:06 PM
On the Viewer - Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021)
 by Fëanor

This is another live-tweet compilation! I hope that's okay! There are some spoilers in here, so beware.

——

[Thread #1]

"Kong bows to no one."
:Thumbs up: :COOL:
#GodzillaVsKong

——

I like that each monster has a girl as his advocate. Also, spoiler: the scene where Kong talks is real good. I came in a much bigger Godzilla fan, but they're selling me on Kong here.

——

It's interesting how the military guys just wordlessly do whatever the scientists say. I guess that is generally what happens in these movies, but it seems like at least in American movies there's usually more friction.

——

Also, I strongly suspect we're going to see Mechagodzilla, and I'm HERE FOR IT!!!

——

Can you really break into a secure electronic door by breaking open the keypad and jabbing it with a screwdriver that you licked the end of? I mean, I'm asking, maybe you can.

——

Bro. HOLLOW EARTH! So cool.

——

It's just a tad hard to believe that these three yahoos could just wander into this extremely secure, top secret area without anybody noticing or challenging them. But whatever, I'm here for the giant monsters.

——

MECHAGODZILLA!! Called it! Yeah!

——

Kong, axe in hand, on his throne, in an ancient hall in the center of the hollow earth. That is freaking cool as hell.

——

Ghidorah's skull as a living psionic super computer. Damn, they just threw all the crazy ideas into this, and I'm loving it. The visuals are fantastic, too.

——

Taking a break for tonight, but I feel like this movie has captured more of the spirit of comic books than a lot of movies I've seen recently that are supposedly based on them. The wild invention, the crazy colorful visuals, the epic scale, the rivalry, the big brutal fights.

——

[Thread #2]

Picking back up where I left off with #GodzillaVsKong !

——

I'm not totally clear on why they only need a tiny little sample of the hollow earth magic power rock, and boom, they're good to go. In fact, they don't even need the rock itself, they just need the data download about it. How does data let you produce enormous amounts of energy?

——

Godzilla shot a hole into the middle of the earth with one blast of his radioactive breath?? Dang.

——

Why did the hollow earth temple start falling apart anyway? Because of the tiny sample they took? Or because Kong switched the thing on with the axe? It seemed to start happening before Godzilla zapped the hole in...

——

So, no massive gravity anomaly on the way out of hollow earth? That's only on the way in. Like the toll into Philly from Jersey.

——

I love how colorful the movie is. Maybe partly a reaction from having recently seen the incredibly gray and drab Snyder Cut, but it's just beautiful.

——

Did they consider a possible theme park ride based on this? The ship flying around between the battling titans is making me imagine a Star Tours type experience...

——

Kong hanging off the top of the skyscraper is a nice callback.

——

Not sure I ever remember seeing Godzilla crawling around on all fours. That was different.

——

So, mechagodzilla just immediately starts thinking for itself once it's charged up with replicated hollow earth magic rock energy? Okay. Man, they're really asking us to swallow a lot here.

——

Now we're gonna use the underground spaceship as a giant defibrillator paddle to restart Kong's heart. Sure!

——

Okay, cool fight. But I feel like it would have been more interesting if people had actually been in control of Mechagodzilla, and if they hadn't just been crazy bad guys. I mean, there's a sane argument that can be made for destroying the Titans to protect humanity.

——

A fun movie. It's interesting that it's really Kong's movie. He's basically the protagonist. I didn't expect that.

I'm a little bummed there are no post-credits scenes. They couldn't give us a little tease for the next movie? Maybe a little Gamera or something? Ah well.
Tagged (?): On the Viewer (Not), Star Wars (Not), TV (Not)
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 06:58 PM
On the Viewer - Justice League: The Snyder Cut
 by Fëanor

I live-tweeted my reactions to watching the Snyder Cut a while back, so just thought I'd collect all those tweets here, for posterity.

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[Thread #1]

Ok, I'm watching the Snyder Cut, it's already annoying me, this should be fun.The sound waves of Superman's yell flying across the earth was just...weird. I get what they were trying to do, but I feel like it could have been done in a way that wasn't so silly.

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Bruce meets a random guy who is probably a fish man, and just immediately tells him he's Batman? In public? And lets fish man talk about it in front of everybody? Why??

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The lady smelling Aquaman's sweater is just creepy. He's got this town of people practically worshipping him.

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Martha Kent's dog is named Dusty? Not Krypto?

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Of course the Kent farm has been foreclosed on. Everything is so gray and colorless and mopey. It makes me mad. You're a comic book movie for God's sake! Have a little fun!

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Oh my god this ridiculously elegiac song playing while Lois stares at the monument to her dead boyfriend in the rain, jeez!

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Wonder Woman showing up standing on the arm of a giant gold statue of Justice is a bit on the nose. Just a bit.

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Oh my god, this movie is terrible. I was going to say something nice about it, because it was fun watching Wonder Woman beat up terrorists, then they ruined it with the "can I be like you some day" bit.

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I'm curious if there's going to be any point to that scene. Was it just to introduce Wonder Woman? She doesn't really need an introduction at this point. Or will the terrorists somehow tie in to the larger story? I don't see how...

[Editor's note: no, there will no point to it.]

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"Maybe it's going back to sleep."
"Evil does not sleep. It waits."
Ugh, I just rolled my eyes so hard.

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So, I thought the idea was that Steppenwolf is showing up after thousands of years absence. But didn't we see him hanging out with Lex Luthor at the beginning of the movie? And what's the point of sealing the cave, didn't the central chamber have a big skylight?

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I went back, it absolutely does have a big skylight. There's no point sealing off the entrance if you could just climb out. There's even guys in there that can fly. I mean...wow. This is so bad.

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Ok, but now the entire thing fell into the sea. Maybe that was the plan?

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Ok, I will say a nice thing now: some of the action scenes with Steppenwolf were good.

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Now back to bad things: so much sad choral music! Oy.

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Why was Diana restoring an ancient statue while wearing a fancy sheath dress?

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The dialogue is just very bad.

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Diana lights a torch and suddenly she's in an ancient pit?! Where did this come from?

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Okay, I will say another nice thing: the ancient frescoes of the mother boxes and Darkseid are really cool.

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This scene of Aquaman saving a guy feels like another introduction scene - except we already met him...

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He just came in from the ocean wearing a shirt, but before he dives back in, he tears the shirt off and throws it on the ground, just like he did earlier. What does he have against shirts??

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Willem Dafoe, erstwhile lighthouse keeper, demands that Arthur take up his mother's trident! And offers him a weapon with five spikes on the end. Don't tridents have three spikes? Isn't that the point of the whole "tri" part?

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Steppenwolf and Desaad have a conversation that is mostly exposition. He owes Darkseid 10,000 more worlds?? Man, you've got some work to do, dude.

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There's a computer effects-laden epic flashback battle showing the last time Darkseid came to earth and was fought back. It's kind of lame. It doesn't help that Wonder Woman is there to provide incredibly corny and completely unnecessary narration throughout.

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It is cool that we get to see Darkseid and the previous Green Lantern. But they turn Darkseid into a big gray brute who grunts and hits things. Not at all the thoughtful, aloof Darkseid I know with the colorful outfits and cool crooked laser eye blasts.

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Dude comes jumping in with a big axe and hits Darkseid in the shoulder. Reminds me a lot of Thor jumping in and hitting Thanos in the shoulder with an axe in Avengers. Just saying!

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Really unimpressive showing from Darkseid here. If the point of this flashback was to make him look big and scary, they failed miserably. He gets hit a couple times and passes out in the back of his van.

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Have I mentioned that there is no color in this movie? Everything is gray and washed out. I don't get it. It's just ugly.

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I like that the Atlanteans and the Amazons have these fancy rituals and ceremonial locations for sealing their mother boxes away, and the men just...put theirs in a hole and cover it with dirt. :LOL:

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I enjoy that they introduce the Flash with a REDUCED SPEED AHEAD sign. And he's late, of course. Good old Barry.

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Ah, an entirely manufactured emergency so Barry can have a reazon to show off his powers. Sigh.
So many of these scenes feel jammed in here for no good reason. Why not have Barry's intro be worked into the overall story? Instead we're wasting time with a cliche traffic accident.

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The soundtrack is so melodramatic!

I like the idea of Barry running right out of his shoes, but...how do the rest of his clothes stay on? Not that I want to see him naked...

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Also, really uncool that he is stopping to touch the girl's hair in the middle of saving her. Seriously. Not okay. Creepy and bad.

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The touching, romantic music as he takes the time to steal a hot dog...

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Think I'll sleep for now. Perhaps more tomorrow night!

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[Thread #2]

Picking up where I left off with the #SnyderCut .

They trying to set up a romance between Diana and Bruce? Huh.

I like the extra backstory for Cyborg. This is actually good character development here.

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What kinda dude tries to cheer up his depressed, angry teen son by telling him he has the power to destroy the world??

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Yeah, I really liked the Cyborg sequence there, and I really liked the scene in the prison between Barry and his dad. Plus "you're living in the past; make your own future, Barry" feels like foreshadowing of Flashpoint, which is fun.

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"Fluent in gorilla sign language" feels like a Gorilla Grodd reference, but maybe I'm reading into this too much now. Regardless, love this scene between Barry and Bruce.

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"What are your super powers again?"
"I'm rich."
Ah yes, the only true super power.
I'm actually really enjoying the movie tonight. Not sure if this part is that much better, or if I'm just in the right mood...

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I like that merely because Diana did an internet search for him, Cyborg immediately found her, hacked her system, set up a meeting.

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Really like the scene between them, with Diana connecting with him over loss and learning to open yourself back up again. Really, loss and what to do about it is what all these characters are about.

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"Hi, Barry, I'm Diana. That's not right. Great." :LOL:

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Another conversation between Desaad and Steppenwolf that feels mostly unnecessary. I guess we did learn that Steppenwolf now has working defences for his fortress...

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Now we got most of the team together, talking to Commissioner Gordon about parademons! Fun stuff.

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The music in this movie is mostly bad, but I really love Wonder Woman's theme.

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Sometimes the computer effects are really good and sometimes they're really surprisingly bad. There's a scene where Batman's grapple gun almost falls off a metal walkway, and the way it moves is just really obviously unnatural and fake.

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I appreciate the extremely matter-of-fact way Alfred says, "catastrophic failure of all systems."

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Ok, so I like that we're bringing Anti-Life into it, upping the stakes, that's cool. But...how exactly did Darkseid and his minions "lose" Earth? How did he not know this was where he suffered his great defeat, and where the equation was written? I mean, that makes no sense.

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Cyborg is pretty central to this version of the story! And now we're going to use the mother box to bring Superman back. Interesting!

Wait, did he try to bring his mother back? Hmm...

Anyway, gonna stop again for now. Good night, folks!

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[Thread #3]

Ok, it's #SnyderCut time again! Moving into the third hour now.

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Ok, very unexpected cameo from Martian Manhunter there. He couldn't have just asked Martha to stop by?

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This is a good setup for the next part of the movie. Use the box to try to revive Superman, but using the box calls the enemy. Their only chance to win could also bring on their defeat.

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"She's 5000 years old, Barry. Every guy's a younger guy."
Heh.

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"This red cape charges back" isn't really the thrilling line they think it is...

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Lois has a pregnancy test in her bedside table drawer, and the brand name is Force Majeure. :grimacing face:

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Oh man, the tension and foreboding as the countdown goes down to one, and then the vision of the awful future. So well done! And we get to see Darkseid use his omega eye beams!! Hooray!

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Intense and brutal battle with a confused resurrected Superman. Then a powerful self-sacrifice by Victor's dad - which reminds me a lot of this same actor's self-sacrifice in Terminator 2! Poor guy is always pushing buttons to kill himself in an attempt to ward off apocalypse.

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Part 6: Something Darker. That doesn't really fill me with confidence...But maybe they're just talking about the black suit.

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I like that Bruce introduces Alfred by saying, "I work for him."

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"I don't care how many demons he's fought in how many hells. He's never fought us. Not us united."
Nice.

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Can somebody just text Lois and let her know it's important to hurry up with getting Clark back together??

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Or, you know, we've established that Martian Manhunter is around. Couldn't he lend a hand? He has a very impressive power set of his own...

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I have to say, there are some really great quiet character moments here. I'm really enjoying this movie now.

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The "something darker" comes from Batman, as he's considering what his prophetic dream might mean - specifically, the bit about Lois Lane being the key. I seem to remember this dream being in the theatrical cut, but we didn't see it in this version...

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...Or I could be remembering something from Batman vs Superman, actually.

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Anyway, pretty neat moment as Clark hears the voices of his two fathers urging him on, and he puts on the black suit and heads out.

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They spend the whole movie trying to get this thing to fly and on its maiden voyage Batman crashes it? C'mon Bruce!

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Very fun action sequence as the team mows their way through a horde of parademons. They're like popcorn!

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Oh man, Superman shows up, blows a puff of breath on Steppenwolf's axe, and one punch shatters it. Nice entrance!

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They fail, they're too late, but it's okay - Barry can run faster than time.

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Realizing how much this movie is about fathers, too. Superman's dads, Barry's dad, Victor's dad, Aquaman's dad. Lots of complicated father-son relationships here.

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Barry runs the world back into existence. What a visual. Fantastic.

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"I'm not broken. And I'm not alone." Such a great character moment for Victor. Really well done.

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Oh man, the way they all work together to finish off Steppenwolf and send his corpse back to Darkseid? So badass.

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But even as they defeat Steppenwolf and stop this attempt to destroy the world, the threat of Darkseid himself rises. Very ominous.

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Epilogue! Lots going on here. More villains lined up to come after them, and another vision of a horrifying future in which Superman is an enemy. It's a bit much, really.

But yeah, I actually ended up mostly liking this movie! I'm shocked.
Tagged (?): DCU (Not), Justice League (Not), Movies (Not), On the Viewer (Not)
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