The Original Gods

I’m in the minority of people who actually really enjoyed Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, it’s not a good movie, but it’s a watchable one and the Godzilla parts are great. The human parts are terrible. Just terrible.

That trend continues in it’s sequel, the deeply silly compulsively fun Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Since Godzilla emerged from the sea in 2014, Monarch, the secret military group, has been hunting other “titans,” in hopes of studying and controlling them. Vera Farmiga plays their top scientist who has invented a doohickey that emits sonic freqeuncies that calm the beasts. She’s married to Kyle Chandler who is also a Godzilla scientist. Their son was killed in the 2014 attack and their daughter, Millie Bobby Brown, now follows her mom around learning all about Kaiju.

Charles Dance plays an eco terrorist who wants to destroy human kind with Kaiju, I think? Vera Farmiga’s team is made up of Ken Wattanabe, Bradley Witford, Thomas Middleditch and Zhang Zhiyi. Their military arm includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Anthony Ramos. Senator CCH Pounder wants to shut them down.

I am obsessed with this cast and they were in way too much of this movie. This is a movie about Godzilla and King Ghedera fighting. And also Mothra and Rodan fighting. I really don’t care about Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s marital problems when there is monster fighting to see.

The monster fighting is glorious. It’s also hella dumb. But in the best way. I haven’t watched Kong: Skull Island, but I understand it’s in the same vein.

Just, like, Americans are bad the people part of Godzilla, maybe we should stop trying and just watch the monsters fight now.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu
  5. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Trailers:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: God, it looks good, I’m really really looking forward to it.

The Kitchen: *exhale* I hope they ALL GET ALL THE NOMINATIONS for that movie, it looks spectacular. (And I have every intention of reading the GN)

 

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions

The Clone Wars’ belated final season, released on Netflix, rather than the series original home of Cartoon Network is kind of an odd duck. It’s painfully brief. (13 episodes) It only covers 4 stories (though they’re all pretty strong) and resolves nothing.

To be fair, it’s hard to offer resolution in Clone Wars it’s meant to be a bridge, the resolution comes in Revenge Of The Sith, but there are seeds planted here that don’t even reach full fruit until The Last Jedi, whether that was “that plan,” (I doubt it, Kathy Kennedy, for all her brilliance is not Kevin Feige, she’s more adaptable than he.) or just some thematic resonance that makes sense because narrative is inherently structured no matter how hard you try to deconstruct it Rian Johnson, (I have many many critical thoughts about The Last Jedi, but we’re still a few months away from that discussion!) I’m interested in the question.

The first arc revolves around Tup and Fives discovering that there’s extra programming in the clones, that could make them turn on their commanders. Their advanced knowledge of Order 66 gets them killed, and leads to Rex deprogramming himself. (We don’t know this yet, of course.)

The second is Padme discovering that her shitty ex boyfriend is playing both sides because he’s shitty. Also she and Anakin discuss divorce. I don’t really care for this arc, but that’s because I have limited emotional investment in Padme and Anakin’s relationship and even less in her ambivalence to her shitty ex boyfriend.

The third arc involves Jar-Jar and Mace Windu fighting an evil force cult and it’s awesome which you would never expect to say about a Jar-Jar arc, but it explores the nature of the force and what it means to those again, outside The Jedi/Sith binary. I can’t believe how central this idea has become to the franchise but I sort of love the work out it gets in this series.

The final arc was the one I remembered, which is Yoda talks to ghosts. This is the one that I think really comes through in Last Jedi. After learning that Jedi Master Sipho Dios isn’t dead, or is he? Yoda goes on a vision quest to learn how to commune with the dead. He does so by talking to some embodiments of emotions in kabuki masks and Darth Bane, the first Sith, voiced by Mark Hamill. Hearing Hamill bring the menace he’s perfected in his voice over the years to an argument with Frank Oz’s Yoda is delightful.

But overall, it becomes clear that Yoda knows the order has lost it’s way. That he continues to fight is out of habit, he knows he has to destroy the Sith, but the old was have to go with that destruction. It’s resignation.

I’m glad I rewatched Clone Wars even if it felt overwhelming at times. Revisiting isn’t a think I do as much lately (the point of Nerd Homework after all was to break me out of the cycle of rewatching I’d found) especially not critically, and I was glad to do it here. The show is a wonder of writing and action. (Even if the animation is not to my taste, exactly) It deepens the lore and scope of this world, and, probably, as I watch Revenge Of The Sith later, it will make me feel deeper about that movie too.

Next week we’ll talk about Revenge Of The Sith, yes, we’re back to movies at least for a few weeks. Which is a relief for the rest of my watch schedule to be frank.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5

I have to admit I put off watching this season for a few reasons but mainly because I didn’t want to go through it’s ending. But the other arcs leading up the devastation are good too, so let’s talk about them first!

Ahsoka and Yoda and a Droid voiced by David Tennant teach a bunch of adorable Younglings to build lightsabers. Also Hondo is there and there’s a circus? I dunno, the Younglings are real cute though.

Maul and Savage team up with Death Watch to take over Mandalore, which is great on a few levels, because it gives Sam Witwer a lot to do, and isn’t he just the best? (We’ll talk even more about Witwer tomorrow friends, don’t you worry!) There’s also the small matter of Satine, and Maul’s vendetta against Obi-Wan, which of course, ends in the Duchess’s death. (The woman I love…)

The next step comes when a suicide bomber goes after the Jedi temple and Anakin and Ahsoka investigate the crime. Once the case is solved, Ahsoka gets wrapped up in the conspiracy and winds up thrown out of the Jedi order, and even when her name’s been cleared she decides to walk away.

That walking away is the fulcrum (HAH GET IT) of Ahsoka’s character. My favorite thing in all of clone wars is the way it plays with the people around Anakin being presented with similar situations to him, emotionally and choosing the more ethical and healthy paths. Obi-Wan chooses the order and his vows and commitment over Satine, Ahsoka leaves the Jedi behind rather than compromise her ideals. Anakin can’t do either of those things. He’s limited by his attachments, and can’t see beyond them.

I know this post was late, but I really was just not up for the emotions of Ahsoka’s walking away from Anakin, especially knowing what comes for them.

Next week we’ll cover “The Lost Missions,” which if I remember is mostly Yoda talking to ghosts? I mean, that’s super rad, so I’m looking forward to it.

Even In Death I’m The Hero

Kevin Feige, may his name be praised to the Nerd Heavens, So Say We All, stated that Spider-Man: Far From Home would serve more as a Coda to MCU: Phase Four, than an opening chapter to Phase 5.

That’s all well and good, and making Spider-Man, Peter Parker, as played by the relentlessly adorable Tom Holland the new centerpiece of this enterprise, is probably the best call anyone could have made. But Far From Home functions as a very good film all on it’s own. I’ve made no secret to how much I love Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was is probably the post Ultron MCU movie I’ve watched the most, and in a reconsidered ranking, the winner of a movie season that was easily my favorite since I started the experiment. Far From Home is world’s better than Homecoming. Peter’s more sure of himself in some ways and more uneasy in others, and just genuinely trying to do the right thing.

The school trip to Europe that takes Peter away from New York, is a great way to set him off kilter to begin with, and to show the impact that Tony Stark’s death has had on the world, and on Peter, who is being pressured by Nick Fury and Maria Hill to step up and be the public face of superheroes now that Tony’s gone. (Excuse me, but what’s going with Sam Wilson, or LITERAL KING T’Challa, that they can’t do it? Why does this fall on the kid?) He also kind of wants to catch his breath and tell MJ that he likes her.

Naturally none of that happens. European cities are being attacked by mysterious “Elementals” and new comer Mysterio is helping SHIELD take on the threat. Peter’s helping too, and of course, if you know how stories work, Mysterio is not what he seems.

Jake Gyllenhall’s Mysterio is the best part of this movie, especially as a kind of road not taken, since he was likely up for Spidey back in the day. (And frankly might have been better, but Maguire was great too.) He fills this fake hero actual villain with humor, charisma and perfection.

The action sequences move quickly and feel more comic-booky than anything before. See it on the big screen if you can.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu

POST CREDITS:

 

The mid credit scene features Peter and MJ swinging through Manhattan (SWOON) they land in Time’s Square and a large screen projects “The Daily Bugle.com” hosted by J. Jonah Jameson. PLAYED BY JK SIMMONS. I mean, we’ve all always said that the MCU’s biggest strength is casting, and you can’t improve on perfection. Then he reveals Peter’s identity. OH NO!

 

Then there’s the post credits. Where we learn that the Fury and Hill in this movie, weren’t Fury and Hill at all but Telos and another Skrull! Fury’s been taking some time off in space. What will happen next?

Trailers:

I missed the trailers. Sorry gang!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3

If Season 2 is about complicity and begining to fill in shades of grey, Season 3 is about living in that grey.

It’s also about how Anakin categorically rejects his chances at turning away from the dark side, over and over again. It’s about Ahsoka beginning to see she doesn’t quite fit with the way the Jedi do things. It’s about Obi-Wan seeing the world he knows collapsing around him. It’s about Padme realizing that she might be on the wrong side.

And it’s just so good. The weird wrinkles that form because of those themes make for some of the most compelling episode arcs. Ventress’s origins, as a Night Sister, and their relationship to Darth Maul, (And Savage Oppress, which, like Star Wars names are always a little on the nose but that’s a real doozy) which leads into an exploration of the Dark Side and The Force outside of the Jedi/Sith binary. (Something that I think will probably be vitally important moving forward in the series after The Rise Of Skywalker.) 

This also leads into The Father/Daughter/Son trilogy, and Anakin’s confirmation as the chosen one and his rejection of the responsibility of maintaining balance.

It’s just so good you guys. The physical embodiments of the Force are shouting at him to get it together, and he just. can’t. let. go.

He can’t let go of his grief and guilt about Shimi. He can’t let go of Padme. He can’t let go of Ahsoka and Obi-Wan. He can’t let go of his own identity as a Jedi. He can’t do it. The inevitability of the whole thing is part of what makes these episodes great, but it’s just such good character work.

Anyway, there’s a lot to think about with that. And there’s also just the deepening of the mythology around Force paving the way for Ahsoka finding her “other path” later in her life. And how stunning and amazing that is.

Next week is Season 4, Darth Maul’s actual return, and just more and more escalation. Plus! Admiral Ackbar! Yay!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2

I find myself sighing in happiness a lot while I watch this show.

The writing is just so good. The characters are so strong, the storylines so absorbing. I really enjoy myself.

Season 2 starts to muddy the waters a bit more and that’s a very good thing. It’s an important and strange thing to remember as we watch any prequel material, we’re not following the heroes. Not really. This is the setting republic and the rising empire. It’s bad. WE’RE FOLLOWING THE BAD GUYS.

Well, it’s not like the Separtists are good, or anything, after all, Palpatine is playing both sides, but it’s still unsettling when you see it. It’s also important to note how spectacularly bad at running a war the Jedi are. They lose. A lot. When they win it’s usually because Anakin, you know, the guy who’s eventually consumed by evil? does something brutal or impulsive.

It’s some heavy, heavy shit, especially for a children’s cartoon based on the silly movies about space wizards.

Star Wars is profoundly silly, and that’s part of why I love it. Clone Wars is oddly, one of the least silly facets of the universe. And again, that’s for a few reasons, but a big one, is Obi-Wan’s arc this season.

Obi-Wan’s big moment in season 2 is centered around Duchess Satine of Mandalore (the delight I get from Obi-Wan’s secret love being named Satine is not small, you guys.) who leads the neutral alliance of planets. Yes, she rules Space Switzerland. She’s a determined pacifist and is in no way going to let the Jedi get away from knowing that they’re complicit in some terrible things.

It’s pretty great. It’s also such a difference between Obi-Wan and Anakin, really highlighting the two sides of a coin that they are. When faced with betraying his vows and chosen way of life back when he was Anakin’s age, Obi-Wan chose duty. (It helps that Satine also chose his duty, where as Padme…well…we’re talking about complicity right?) Anakin, meanwhile, didn’t. He married Padme, but didn’t leave the order.

And speaking of the Galaxy’s Most Annoying Secret Couple! This is the season which has the weirdest pair of episodes, where Padme reunites with her ex boyfriend, who is a skeezy finance guy and Anakin gets jealous and then the skeezy ex boyfriend poisons her. 

First of all: OF COURSE Padme dated the equivalent of a shitty Wall Street Bro before she reconnected with that weird kid who was obsessed with her. And of course it makes the most powerful person to ever live so far insanely jealous, because he is not an emotionally stable dude. Like at all.

We also get to see Boba Fett, being kind of a shit. He’s joined up with some bounty hunters, and wants revenge for his dad’s death by Mace Windu, which is completely fair.

Ahsoka doesn’t have as much going on this season, but she does get some cool episodes, takes command of her own squad at one point and manages to put Anakin in his place a lot.

I just love her you guys, I love her so much.

Onto Season 3, where the shades only get more grey and also Darth Maul comes back. You know how like, Filoni really likes Darth Maul?

Because I Want To Get Better

Rocketman was billed as “A True Musical Fantasy” in all of it’s marketing. What was not highlighted nearly enough in that was musical. I went in expecting a rock and roll bio pic, in the vein of Ray and Walk The Line and yes, Bohemian Rhapsody. I think most people did.

Rocketman isn’t a rock and roll biopic. Well, technically it is. But it’s mostly a musical. Like a real deal, the characters can’t contain their emotions with dialog so they burst into song musical. It’s a musical that tells the life story of Elton John (well, the first half) with his songs, which is why it’s gotten miscategorized, but from about two minutes in, wehn Elton, in full devil drag, sits in a rehab circle and begins talking about his life, he visualizes preteen Reggie Dwight, and adult Elton and Young Reggie go through a verse of “The Bitch Is Back,” to introduce the stifling middle class suburb where he grew up, I realized, “Ohhhh, this is different.”

It’s different in a way that’s pretty well attuned to my taste. I’m a big Elton John fan, and even at their hackiest I love a rock bio (I think it comes from all those lazy Saturday mornings watching Behind The Music on VH1.) and I of course love musicals. (There were a couple of moments, especially the “Benny And Jets” orgy sequence where I was having trouble not thinking of the Fosse of it all.)

Rocketman is flawed, but even it’s flaws are hugely entertaining. Taran Edgerton is perfect, taking John from a wide eyed wunderkind to a sneering petulant spiraling superstar. It’s a powerhouse performance fueled less by physical resemblance than vocal and pure energy. Richard Madden plays John Reid as a kind of swoony devil on John’s shoulder, but it’s also great, because who could say no to anything let alone rock star decadence, when you have Richard Madden making bedroom eyes at you? (Also, it’s weird that Reid has been played on screen by both Petyr Baelish and Robb Stark in the past 2 years, yeah?) If Reid is John’s devil, then the movie casts Bernie Taupin as the voice of his better angels. Jamie Bell makes Taupin a stalwart figure, really the embodiment of the cinematic cowboys he idolized. It’s telling that the script has Bernie code switch between calling his friend “Reg” and “Elton,” and is the only one to do so. (He’s Reggie to his family for the most part, and Elton to Reid.)

The music numbers really make the whole thing worthwhile. “Honky Cat,” was probably my favorite, for it’s sheer MGM Musical on cocaine audacity, though I mentioned the Fosse feeling of “Benny And The Jets,” and Bernie finally walking away to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” is prettily done as well. I’m listening through the soundtrack now, and I’m not sure many of them work as standalone covers, but that’s not the point. (Also the only bio-pic soundtrack versions that I think do are Walk The Line, because Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were doing something very specific vocally there.)

Memory is also a major theme in this movie, and frankly I could write a whole other review just about the ways it deals with memory. I’m going to be thinking about and talking about this movie a lot I think.

  1. Avengers: Endgame
  2. Rocketman
  3. Detective Pikachu

Trailers

21 Bridges: This movie looks so dumb. If I still had cable I’d probably watch it 1000 times on TNT or whatever.

MIB International: SO SOON.

Yesterday: I can’t wait for this. It really does look wholly delightful.

Downton Abbey: SADHFUIFSHGNIRNBHIVNHGIDLSJLFGHIUFHGNRFJNRI. I am so excited for Downton Abbey. It’s embarrassing. No one should be this excited for the fucking Downton Abbey movie, but I AM. I can live with a disappointing GOT finale, I’ll even survive if The Rise Of Skywalker flounders but if Downton Abbey isn’t FAN FREAKING TASTIC, I will be quite put out, and I may even go to the garden to cry silently and miss the dressing gong.