June 27, 2018

That Bumblebee Trailer and Other Transformers Stuff

So a few weeks ago, the trailer for the upcoming Bumblebee trailer dropped, and everyone had their hot take on it, which was essentially that it looks pretty good, or at least doesn't look like, feel like, and is definitely not a Michael Bay movie. I'm inclined to agree. The trailer looks great; the robots are crisp and transform in a coherent manner, and the tone of the movie feels smaller in a great way, more intimate, character-focused.

At the end of the day, though, this movie is still called Bumblebee, and I just can't really take that or the character all that seriously, especially ten years into all this mess. I sense clear love for the source material from the director and the people behind the camera for this, which I think this franchise has needed from the beginning; the toy aspect of the Transformers has always been something that the previous films have tried to steer clear of, but I like that they're leaning into that this time, and not in a cheeky way, but in a way that quietly and lovingly acknowledges it, like how Bumblebee's vehicle mode underbelly has his face staring down at the ground, or how visible and coherent vehicle kibble can be seen on the robot modes.

With the gross and stale taste of the Bay movies still in the back of our throats, this movie looks like some fresh water at last to wash that away. On the other hand, I felt similarly to the trailers for both Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, and especially with the latter I was extremely disappointed, so who knows how this will turn out. I'm holding out cautious hope that this can be good or at least competently executed with a loved focus on the robots as characters.

I'm in an interesting position with regard to the Transformers community. I've stopped collecting the toys mostly out of lack of interest in the current toyline, needing to budget my money more carefully, and just general shifting of interests. But I'm still up on what's happening within the fandom, the state of the comics (I'm so sad the IDW continuity is coming to an end, don't talk to me plz), what's coming up in terms of new Masterpiece toys and such. And it's interesting to be in that position, to be more passive than active, to be watching people on YouTube mess around with the toys in their reviews for me instead of actually having one myself; I've never really thought of reviews as like a source of entertainment on their own, divorced from the actual enjoyment of the subject that they're reviewing, and so to be a viewer and not a consumer of the product puts me in a kind of limbo status. And I'm sure I'm not the only one within the fandom who's like this, but the lack of conversation about it makes me start to think about this kind of stuff. I don't know. I'm going to TFCon Toronto in about two weeks, and it'll be interesting to see if that toy-collecting itch gets scratched or if it's even there anymore; I might just gaze longingly at everything and not buy anything. And that might be just as satisfying.

But yeah, that's where I am in the fandom. And those are my thoughts on the Bumblebee trailer. Christmas time is gonna be awesome! We have Bumblebee, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I guess Aquaman if anyone's into that (??), and a remake of Merry Poppins. It should be a good.

June 21, 2018

2018 Updates

Hi, all. Happy Pride Month!

Okay so it's been a while. I honestly didn't mean to be on I guess a hiatus for this long, but things have been pretty busy. I graduated college, so that's exciting! It's definitely a surreal thing to be done with a life format that I've had for about as long as I can remember, and now able to be in the world as an adult is just...I don't know, man, I kind of like it but also there's a lot of stress I'm feeling about needing to get a job, needing to produce content for people (like this lol), needing to be a functioning person in society. And I think that's more of a uniquely American thing than a me thing, at least I hope it is.

After graduating, I went to Australia in May! Melbourne, specifically. It was INCREDIBLE!!!!!! Took a bunch of pictures, and got to meat a good friend of mine I'd met through tumblr of all places, and she's amazing! We spent much of our time hanging out in comic book shops and bookstores. We also went to the zoo, the aquarium, and I took a cruise from Melbourne over to Williamstown which was great. Also, I had the chance to go on a food tour of the city, where this guy just took our group to all kinds of different restaurants and snack places! It was super yummy! The trip itself is something I'm definitely going to remember for like the rest of my life--how often am I going to be able to travel to Australia again?? And meeting this person in real life after three years of phone calls and online messaging and fangirling out over Buffy, it was truly such a genuine experience.

I'm excited too because in July, I'm going to TFCon Toronto, the fan-run Transformers convention in Canada! This is going to be phenomenal; despite being a lifelong fan of the franchise, this is going to be my first time being able to go to a convention specifically geared to Transformers fans, and I have never been more stoked! Expect lots of pictures of that!

Overall, I'm doing very well. Applying for jobs and fellowships and stuff has been taking up most of my time, as has this summer internship with this teeny tiny publishing company. The gig itself has been pretty good; I've been working to get a manuscript from draft through to publication which as been an experience. Good learning opportunities for sure.

I'm definitely going to start updating this blog more now that I'm not so busy. I'm thinking a post a week, maybe two if I'm feeling spontaneous. I did like doing this last year a lot, it really helped me to focus and unwind, which has I feel become even more essential now that our government has turned all tyrannical (good lord). I can't believe it's almost the middle of the year already. Life really is just speeding by.

Australia pics:


December 11, 2017

UberEats, and the Last Two Weeks

Sorry I've been MIA for the past few weeks. It's been a busy time since I'm finishing up the semester and I was sick last weekend. But I figure I should put something up here, just update anyone still reading on what's been happening.

The end of the semester has kept me very busy. I completed my thesis and turned it in, and fun side-note, Elliot Wake himself liked it on my Instagram page and asked me to send him a copy! I was very flattered and humbled and I did as he asked; I hope he likes it. I'm very glad to have the thesis off my chest, though I do partly wish I had more time to write it and get more material into the final draft. I had to cut a lot in edits just due to length, and even the first draft was cut down from talking about all four of Wake's books to just one. Which was probably smart--as my professor says, the cuts you make in edits are almost always a good thing--but there's still that part of me that wanted to keep all the material. But it's in now, so that's good. The thesis class had a lovely party downtown with our professor too! It was a nice evening.

Over the weekend, my friend introduced me to UberEats, the new(ish?) service whereby you order food and get it delivered to your house through Uber! It's awesome! Totally wallet-draining, though, so I don't think I'll be ordering from them very often. Still, I tried it the other day and it was great! I got pancakes, and the time it took delivery was relatively quick and painless. The woman who delivered the food was nice too.

I've been re-watching Person of Interest, one of my favorite shows! It deals with themes of surveillance, the morality of following orders, godhood, plus it has a lot of great action sequences. I've been enjoying re-watching it from the beginning; I don't remember season one very well at all, and watching it week to week when it was on the air was frustrating because a lot of the plot points they pack into the show are subtle and the writing is smart and dense enough to have some of the information get lost from week to week. But now that it's on Netflix I can binge like six episodes in one go and the puzzle pieces become a lot sharper. I always love Michael Emerson and Amy Acker, and the relationship between Root and Shaw is just so perfect. Loving this show all over again is fantastic!

That's about all I have to update you guys on. I know it's a bit of a short post after a lengthy break, but it's still a pretty hectic time for me. I'm looking forward to going home for the holidays, and hope to have more writings up here soon.

November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Break, Books, and Movies!

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving holiday! I know I did. Very relaxing and accompanied by lots and lots of food, my week-long break from school began with my Mom and I going up to Portland and seeing Justice League and Thor: Ragnarok. I liked the former and loved the latter, both reactions surprising me a lot. None of the trailers for Ragnarok made me want to go see it, that's why I waited until this week to do so, but I absolutely loved this one! Hugely entertaining and very funny! I also surprisingly liked Justice League, which I guess we're all supposed to hate, or if we loved it we're supposed to still hate the Joss Whedon stuff? Guys, Whedon was trying to fix a broken thing; sure, he might not have done an amazing job, but...I mean, do you really want another Snyder-only DC movie? Remember the last one, Batman v. Superman? Yeah, I don't want that either. So, no, Whedon wasn't the problem, or if he was, he was no more of a problem than Snyder was.

Anyway, we saw those and that was fun, and then I got some books at Powell's! I'm currently making my way through World War Z, and I'm liking it a lot! It's a fascinating look at a "real world" zombie uprising and the aftermath of it, how we as a species and as various societies survived the onslaught of the undead! Really very cool, and fear-inducing in a way that only the threat of societal collapse can conjure, but also in a way that feels very personal because all the accounts are from people who survived the zombie war. I also got Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which is a very interesting and poignant account of racism in modern England and the history of slavery in Britain, and that is fascinating! This is something I've never at all thought about before, so this book is quite illuminating. I'm only a chapter or so into it, but I am liking it a lot. It's biting, personal, and very well-researched. Alongside that I also got White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, which I'm looking forward to reading, and Roxanne Gay's new book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. This is one that I'd been looking forward to for a while, but I'd never seen it around so I'm glad I finally got to nab it! Finally, I got ahold of Andi Zeisler's We Were Feminists Once, a monograph that looks at and critique's the modern mainstream feminist movement that is right up my alley (or at least I think it will be). I'm super stoked about all this new reading material and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on some of it with you.

I had Thanksgiving dinner with my family up in Idaho, and my six-year-old cousin was adorable and summed up the general sentiment of the holiday with "I’m only having thanksgiving because there is pie and we have family here. This is the uselessest holiday because there are no gifts!” Dude, same. But the food was delicious and yes, there was pie and that was great. I got back late last night and have bene recuperating and catching up on work and school work easily enough. I'm looking forward to the coming weeks as this semester draws to a close.

November 18, 2017

Thoughts on Justice League

I'm with the majority viewpoint on the DCEU: Wonder Woman was amazing and everything else before that has either been bad or awful or insultingly lame, and which movies coincide with which descriptive change depending on my mood, so suffice it to say I am not the biggest DCEU fan out there. Which is a real shame because I absolutely love the DC lore, the comics, and especially the DC Animated Universe by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini which was my introduction to comics and superheroes in general. I have a great love for the animated universe and tend to hold other iterations of the League and its origin story up to that version of it. Which might be unfair, but I only do that because the Justice League Unlimited series managed to capture perfectly what these heroes are about and what the Justice League itself stands for.

Going into this movie, then, my expectations were both very low and very high. I wanted this to recapture in some way the spark of genius that the DCAU managed consistently, while also recognizing the majority-poor company it kept in its own franchise. I went in with severe reservations, so imagine my surprise when I walked out of there thoroughly pleased with what I saw.

This movie is not a good movie, but it's a fun movie, the kind of fun this franchise as a whole has been missing. The comedy moments help, but it's more about those little nuggets of character introspection and synthesizing of their core ideas into little scenes that help make this movie float for me. Batman's line to the Flash, "save one person, then you'll know what to do" really captures for me not only who Batman is but what being a hero is too, that it's not just about stopping the bad guys but helping the good guys and saving people. And this movie has sprinklings of this kind of optimism throughout which helps to distract from what really doesn't work.

The character interactions are Justice League's strongest points; the one-liners mostly land, the conflicting personalities are very much there, but beyond that this does recapture for me what this team of heroes is supposed to be, the first line of defense for humanity. And having the discussions about that hinge on the death of Superman and what that death has meant for these heroes was very good. I finally felt like I was watching a movie about the Superman that we all know and love or at least know or at least are aware of rather than the walking tree that's been in two of these DCEU things so far. Superman in this movie is probably one of the best versions of the character we've gotten in live action. He has that boyscout charm that does feel a bit dated now, but also an aloofness that really pushes him forward into this world in a great way, an attitude about him that resonates with the core aspects of the character, hope and justice. Also, and this is just an aesthetic thing but I feel it worth mentioning, they finally got his costume and cape the right shades of blue and red!! Thank god! After all the color-starvation of the other Snyder DC movies, this was a joy to watch on screen.

The weaknesses of this movie are many, but I think they can be boiled down to three. The villain sucks, the external plot is very simple and not in sync with the internal character conflicts and explorations, and it feels overstuffed and simultaneously vacuous at the same time. DC has had some amazing villains, the Justice League alone has a pretty kick-ass rogues gallery. Steppenwolf is a difficult villain to do because he's not really a character, he's all muscle meant as a prelude for Darkseid. Moreover, a lot of the Darkseid/Apokolips stuff is really meant to be an external means of exploring the internal character of Superman. So having all that dumped into this movie, where Superman isn't the main focus and doesn't even have much to say on the matter when he does show up, it all just feels very unfinished and uncommunicative. I don't get why they went with this villain.

Tied in with that is the overall external plot of the film. It's simple, which is fine if it means we get as little screen time devoted to it as possible to leave room for exploring the character stuff. Well strap in because the first half-hour of this movie feels like an hour and it's almost all plot-related stuff. Very mundane, very plodding. The good guys end up having to stop a bad guy and they do. But it all feels very out of step with the internal character drama that's going on right alongside it; the quips feel out of place in the climax, and Superman's presence totally didn't jive with me in the final act. Having apocalyptic armageddon happening all around you only to have the guy with the bright red cape show up with a smile just feels off. It's an external plot that is begging for some internal juice, but the juice they do have isn't the right flavor. (No, I don't know what that really means either.)

Finally, the runtime. Now, DCEU movies have had a serious problem of being overlong, so in that respect this movie is such a breath of fresh air! Clocking in at just under two hours, this has the brevity to feel light and quick once it picks up its feet, and that helps a lot. But I also will say that I think it could have used another twenty minutes just to explore more fully the character interactions and main themes they were trying to sprinkle into the movie. I'm sure there'll be a Snyder three-hour monstrosity that comes out, and if that's the case, I honestly wouldn't be opposed to watching it, especially if it's more scenes of characters talking instead of action.

Justice League is not great. It's obvious fan-service, and it knows it, a novelty film amongst a genre that was once niche and now hugely popular. It has awesome action, comic-book-novelty character beats throughout, and an easy moral message that is "superhero" in the best way. If you've been waiting for a fun representation of the DC superheroes that is also set in this amorphous Snyder-verse where no one wants to live, then this is your movie. If you're looking for a good movie with the DC heroes plugged into it, this won't work for you at all. But I didn't have high hopes for this and I walked out with a big grin on my face, so take that for what it's worth (probably very little because my tastes are weird).