Friday, May 26, 2023

The Little Mermaid (2023)

Back. For a moment in time.

Sooo....I've lost count, how many subsequent years have they transferred animation to live action? Well they've been doing it since 2014 if you count Maleficent, but actually they've only gotten one out every year since 2019 but they slammed us with FOUR in that year alone so once more unto the breach! And shock twist everyone, I haven't seen The Little Mermaid since my pre-teen years and only remember these things which I shall list now. Our principle cast, the dog, four songs, we nearly got teen nudity when Ariel transforms, Ursula's design was based on Divine of Pink Flamingos fame and just drag queens in general, annnnd her dad had the biggest arc of all the characters. So mostly I'm walking into this blind, and I liked it okay. It's certainly no Cruella in my book but it sure ain't The Lion King levels of fucking useless either. It's decent, the story follows close to the original with some minor change ups, the cinematography is pretty good with no fear of using color or spectacle, the cast is solid, and I really only had two problems with the movie. The first being minor but too stupid to let slide, now I haven't seen the original in probably close to 20 years but I sure as shit don't think there was a brief rap segment in the movie. Seriously, what the hell?? Second, this isn't a detracting point at all it was just something in the back of my brain that kept poking me and saying hey this bothers me but, Ariel looks about 17 and Eric looks about 31, I have issues telling age because I'm old and kinda blind without my glasses, but it just kept striking me as odd. And yet I did like their romance, they had genuinely very cute and funny moments! Halle Bailey is uber adorable and effortlessly captures the wide eyed wonder, passion, and curiosity for the human world, I really can't say a bad thing about her even if I tried. Jonah Hauer-King is a decent lead, you can tell he has compassion and understanding which lends well to the budding romance and while they change his hypnotized state a the end and not for the better in my mind, solid. Melissa McCarthy as Ursula was a bit of a linch pin for me, cause I had no idea until fairly recently and I could see it going bad or good. She actually did quite well, got the drama queen personality, sported a Divine-esque look, and even sang well so no strikes there. Javier Bardem as King Triton, I'm always down for that man and while it is a minor part like in the animated film you still get a firm grasp on him being an overprotective father but they kinda did him dirty a notch by not showing regret immediately after he trashes Ariel's collection, it just gave him more of a dick edge. I think my favorite part of the entire movie is just how done Sebastian is with this shit chasing after this girl non-stop, it just made me laugh. I gotta say the movie sure showcased the beauty and horror of the sea, with more creatures and atmosphere than you can shake a stick at, but I do end up wondering how did they film the actors? Cause sure when it's the far away shots it's all computer, but how did they get them to float and swirl and have their hair move as if they did film underwater?? I have no idea so I guess movie magic isn't completely dead. I'm probably not gonna change anybody's mind on this movie and indeed it does feel like I'm shaking the rust off my typing fingers, but it's a decent movie. I didn't know what to expect so I expected nothing and got a movie that had moments I liked and ultimately walked out of the theater with another live action remake that didn't make me mad or sad. So victory is victory. And if nothing else this gives a redemption chance to those hack fucks who wrote such inebriated garbage dismissals of the animated movie. 3 stars, 7.5/10, and I guess more dimensional traversal next week so see you then.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Journey Doesn't End Here

Death is just another path, one that we all must take. Not so much a literal death for me but certainly the end of an era, yeah that day has finally come. It's been coming for quite awhile in all honesty, months before the 1,000th review, but it's not through pessimistic attitudes or a loss of passion for doing so. It's just been a lot. If my calculations are correct it took just a bit over 7 years of regularly scheduled reviews to reach that tremendous milestone and as I've stated before I never quite intended to make it so far out. There comes a time when even the author of it all must look at the numbers and shakily catch his breath, and on those occasions, it's time to make plans. An overwhelming record in such a short span of time, and I've learned it never hurts to take a break and it seems the timing could not have been better. It obviously can't go on forever but I assure you I have no intention of quitting. You'll see me again sooner than you expect as we dive into the depths and uncover something potentially good. Goodbyes have never been my strong suit, so to take a page from master horror fans Dead Meat, thank you for joining me and be good people.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Visions: Season 2

Open minds for a different view.

This was so interesting coming back to Visions, it really feels like a strong palate cleanser from the usual Star Wars material. It's even more vastly different than the first season and I didn't quite consider that possible. Comprising 9 episodes with longer runtimes averaging 20 minutes, there is so much to talk about. You'd think with such bite sized pieces of new Star Wars it would be easy to summarize but marathoning Visions is like sensory overload with so many styles and stories to contemplate. I wish I had more time to divulge in it but I can at the very least praise my favorites. First episode off the bat, Sith, you know me well Lucasfilm and how to please me. Holy hot damn this might take the cake, combining surrealism while still tethered to the physical world this episode is as much a virtual art project as well as a good story. To summarize it's almost as if you're watching color tell the story, there isn't a lot of shape and form beyond our opposing leads, so it's as close to psychedelic as Star Wars can get. Screecher's Reach was nothing but unpredictable, slightly horrific for a moment, but has an ending that only select few would call happy. I dig it man! Journey To The Dark Head is undoubtedly the most anime styled episode and I feel brings up a point highly important but rarely ever talked about in the visual mediums of this galaxy we love, and is very true to our world as well. And lastly Aau's Song, this got in just based on the cute as hell animation and very easygoing almost wholesome story, I genuinely could see a young kids show in this style similar to Rilakkuma And Kaoru. Oh my lord I loved every single animation style presented here, from 2D to 3D, from stopmotion to CG, it is nothing but a gorging session for your eyes. I saw bits of Kubo And The Two Strings, The Clone Wars, Time Squad, and Kill La Kill from certain episodes and I'm all here for it. The potential for Visions is limitless, and some of these stories beg for a continuation in some form or another like in the first season. Any animation studio can run out to this playground and have at it, any kind of story can be told, any style is accepted. It's madness but I wouldn't want it any other way because it's so awesome! What more can I honestly say? It's another great series and previous statements about the last season hold true here, if one story and animation style don't do it for you well you got 8 more to explore. It's all just top tier effort from the animation studios, to the voice actors, to just the free reign of it all. Such freedom is rare in this day and age to be perfectly honest and clear, to just go out and craft something to be presented to the whole world in a genre and universe as recognizable as this one, and there is no questions asked. Amazing. And in my opinion, it's another 10/10 for Visions, a full 4 stars, and here's to season 3 in the future. A splendid start to the day and my stars above is there so much more Star Wars to revel in today! So enjoy the day, follow your own light, and may the Force be with you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Bad Batch: Season 2

Yet another show with a very split audience, my lord hopefully that won't be a trend.

In terms of overall story Bad Batch seems lacking, but maybe this is showing my immense age but I've seen far far more shows that don't have even an inch of overarching storylines in my time. And let's just call it what it is, The Bad Batch is an animated show intended for kids and teens though adults can enjoy it immensely, so I'm scratching my head at that particular criticism toward this season. Because the stories we do get I still find memorable, enjoyable, and progress the characters which I feel is more important than some major plot development. True, story and characters are two integral parts that cannot exist without the other, but who we follow along with interests me more. So our renegade squad of clones are keeping up with the status quo of last season for the most part, doing odd jobs for payment but that quickly shifts as they start questioning the future for Omega. They take the matter of this child very seriously and we see her skills develop more and more as the season progresses and more importantly what effect she has on the squad. And knowing the 3rd season will also be the last honestly makes me nervous about the future of these characters due to the finale. No details shall pass my lips while alive, loose lips demolish starships, but I will admit the final episode while good did feel...not rushed but that there was more to be said, more to be done. It kinda hits like a ton of bricks and you're sitting there like, well shit! What now? But a bad season this is not. Even if an episode was not one of my favorites there sure was an aspect that made my day! For instance, the season opener is a two parter about the batch looting the castle of Count Dooku and apparently his treasures are cursed, like what the fuck that is insanely cool! That's an idea that makes my imagination run rampant! But let's discuss favorites here. Best episode, hands down, no competition, The Solitary Clone. Why in the high holy hell do I not have a show about either Imperial clones or just straight up Imperials going on missions??? That episode had me hook, line, and sinker from the word go and I will forever petition such a series to be made. 10/10, 100/100! Tribe was something I could easily see in past series, video games, or even the books with the batch encountering wookie Jedi Knight Gungi and helping him back to Kashyyyk to confront raiders, a brilliant episode concept and had so many different moments to make it feel complete and quite I don't know, heartwarming and beautiful for lack of better words. Truth And Consequences gets a shoutout purely and unequivocally for seeing pure galactic history take place from the Senate himself Sheev Palpatine, though that two parter is still very good, and the buildup to seeing the friggin' Emperor was both terrifying and just raw fangirl energy rolled up in one! And I would be remiss not to acknowledge The Outpost, a pivotal episode for Crosshair and how the story unfolds is almost harrowing with a wild ending. Also that lieutenant is everything wrong with the Empire personified in one individual, just because I support the Galactic Empire to the end does not mean I blindly follow it or claim it to be perfect. But eat shit and die rebel scum, your victory and "era of peace" is shortlived. Peace is a lie. But before I continue speaking absolute truth, onto the production details. You absolute showboating beautiful bastards, I mean it's just an ongoing parade of marvellous animation! The vistas, the environments, the tiny details of blaster scores and bioluminescent waters are close to being illegal for looking too goddamn good. Voice acting, still bringing that heat Dee Bradley my dude well done, applause for you on so many years of hard work voice acting! Michelle Ang I think you're practically Star Wars royalty at this point cause Omega just keeps getting better each season and she gets major time to shine here alllll the way through. Wanda Sykes as Phee, a welcome addition to the Star Wars galaxy with a very Indiana Jones treasure hunter vibe about her, awesome! Our more or less main antagonist Dr. Hemlock played by Jimmi Simpson, I can't get a handle on this guy he seems to be this creepily calm and collected top secret scientist at Mount Tantis but we don't know his full endgame so we'll have to bide our time to find out more. Now to briefly expand on characters for a moment, Wrecker is still my favorite of the group hardcore, Omega is adorable and more capable than last time and I sense her story is far from over even when the show is, Tech got a massive upgrade with so many character moments and has a larger part in the action which I loved immensely. Just as a sidebar, seeing that neurodivergent/autism side of his personality get some real screen time and reflection was just incredibly nice to see from my viewpoint. Crosshair was going through hell and I'm not sure if there is true redemption or victory for him but needless to say I am interested. And wisely in my humble opinion they dump Echo, he was barely a presence in the first season so they wrote him out with a more fulfilling purpose here, so good move writers. And I just hope to Christ the final season will be a full 16 episodes, shit go all out and have an hour opener and an hour finale, don't Gotham this for me. And no, I am still not over that! Fox you son of a bitch!! Yeah, just don't...don't do that to us Filoni. So the question now stands, is it better than the first season? I feel it depends on if you want a more involved plot heavy season or just am there for the ride with these characters. Cause truth be told, did the first season have an emphasis on plot? Besides the Empire hunting the batch and them doing odd jobs around the galaxy before Kamino gets blasted, not really. So hey, it follows the same style. I'm in the middle of those sides but overall I'd give it 3 stars, 8/10! Who knows what the outcome will be when the series finale airs? Always in motion is the future. But I know what comes next on one of the most special of days every year, with Visions from the world between worlds of what was, what is, and what could be.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Mandalorian: Season 3

One more week.

I am prefacing this now. I don't wanna hear it, this was a good season, take your tribalism us and them, flawless or shit, all or nothing attitude and bugger off. Kay? Kay. Mando, new season, huzzah! No spoilers this time around, we'll save that for a later time, but I feel this kinda had to go the way it went. This is kind of an odd comparison but roll with me it involves a bit of Star Wars. Once Star Wars was released in 1977 space movies got big again, coming out of the woodwork in fact, and EON Productions saw this and set their next James Bond film in space titled Moonraker with space stations, lazer guns, and earth destroying globes of a different size, but after that they knew they had to bring Bond (pardon the partial pun) back down to Earth with a more serious and very unflashy follow up with For Your Eyes Only. The exact same thing happened for The Mandalorian. It got too big for it's britches last season, so much happened, so many big names entered the chat to where it got a bit crazy! And the writers and creators knew they couldn't keep that same level so they brought it back down a notch. We still have a fairly important story with Din and Grogu setting out to essentially reclaim Mandalore, and as the show progresses we get more and more mandalorians to assist in the cause. That's pretty much the overarching plot, but the individual episodes feel slightly akin to season 1's episodes where each new episode is a new adventure. There's quite a few standalone episodes that still have some expansive information and events occuring but they're more in the background. I equate this season to a very Arthurian source, the mandos feel a lot like knights, ownership over the Excalibur style Darksaber is brought into question, a quest to reclaim a kingdom, it really fits that style while of course being the glorious space fantasy opera it always has been. Just to highlight some of my favorite episodes for you without divulging every episode's plot, episode 3 The Convert. Kind of a no brainer coming from me and my Imperial ties, even if I did have to watch turncoat traitors support the quite frankly inept New Republic. Like seriously I could bitch about the New Republic all day and compare it to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and George Lucas' THX 1138 in just how dystopian it functions especially with former Imperial officers, but we don't got time for that today. Seeing Doctor Pershing and Elia Kane (Hello there new crush.) again was really cool and the progression of that story just wowed me! Episode 6 Guns For Hire I actually really liked, kind of a side mission with Din and Bo but the fact I get Jack Black in Star Wars is completely mental and stunning and I love everything about it, didn't strike me until later but we got some Blade Runner influence in that episode so that bumped the score up a good fair bit, and I know...I know. The Darksaber thing. I know. Deep breath. Din is not a ruler, he is not a leader type. I viewed that situation as him willingly giving up the Darksaber to have a better future for his people and to reclaim Mandalore, a selfless and optimistic act so that his people can band together once more. I knew certain folk were gonna jump at the jugular over that dispute in episode 2, but it's fine trust me. It's okay, we're okay. And of course the essentially two part finale, wow. They still know how to deliver and wrap things up pretty nicely. Too much to talk about, too much to spoil, all I'm saying is I very much enjoyed this season. And from the ending it feels like, to use another analogy, like a bell curve. You start with season one and it slowly starts ascending up the curve, then season two goes even higher and hits the peak undoubtedly, then season 3 starts climbing down and by the end settles down again, so naturally season 4 I feel wholeheartedly is gonna be street level Star Wars again, a return to form. You know it's like poetry they rhyme, each stanza rhymes with the last. Now onto production technicals! Cast still brings their A-game, lot of love given to Katee Sackhoff this season and I am all there for it! Pedro Pascal still being the best poppa in the galaxy and there is a sure fire character progression for him from season to season, he is truly an honorable man. All our supporting cast including our celebrity cameos were wonderful of course, Carl Weathers, Emily Swallow, Katy O'Brian, Omid Abtahi, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, Jack Black, Lizzo, Christopher Lloyd, and of course Ahmed Best, absolutely fucking marvellous work and thank you for being part of my favorite galaxy. Stellar visuals as always from planet surfaces, to jetpack flying, to starships, to creature effects, it's all 100% pure, top shelf, chef's kiss, certified gold production and effects work. With so many new details and beautiful nods, it's a feast for hardcore Star Wars fans and still just as accesible and fun for newcomers. Another fine addition to our collection. And oh my God, there's so much Star Wars to talk about both this week and in the months to come. Lucasfilm pulled the crank and dropped a metric ton of new material on us April, and all I can say for the future is more! MORE!! Throw me in a Snoke tank and hook it up to my veins, I live for this shit. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and tomorrow we jump back into the FiloniVerse proper.