Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

First Thoughts on the Last Jedi

==SPOILERS AHEAD!!!==

This is my reaction after just having seen The Last Jedi at the theater. If you haven’t seen the film then stop reading because spoilers and also I’m making reference to events in the film without explaining them to the point of view of someone who hasn’t seen the film.

Well, long story short, or perhaps I should say, long story excessively long, a big disappointment.

Going in to the film, I wanted to know who is Rey? Who is Snoke? What happened to Ahsoka, Kanan, and Space Aladdin aka Ezra? What is in the ancient books of the Jedi? How does Leia die (hopefully heroically)? Why is it time for the Jedi to end?

Are those crystal wolf things Loth-Wolves? Did Han survive his Disney death in the shaft?

And most of all, I wanted to see Luke kick some ass. And smarmy emo Adam Driver handed his.

Well if you were looking forward to any of those things, rest assured, none of those things are in this movie. None of them. For this manufactured committee-made story-line the awesome Clone Wars and Rebels and their bespoke characters were/are being terminated, why?

Kathleen Kennedy, you’re no George Lucas or Dave Filoni. And Rian Johnson, you’re no Lawrence Kasdan. Looking forward to the last half of the last season of Rebels, otherwise, I think that Kennedy, Abrams &co have just about driven this franchise over the shark as has happened to poor old Star Trek. Did anyone say “spore drive?”

Anyway, the Force went back to sleep, and nobody cared. There was zero audience interaction at the packed theatre. When I saw Thor Ragnarök and Rogue 1 at the same venue (AMD 12 Assembly Row Somerville, MA USA) , the crowd was very engaged, laughing, snarking cheering, and crying in the case of Rogue 1. Not so here, more’s the pity. 3 of 5 stars.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

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15 December, 2017 Posted by | movie, review, saga, samurai, scanlyze, Star Wars, The Last Jedi | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This! IS! THEMISCIRA!!!

Spoilers ahead.

I enjoyed Wonder Woman. I found it rather predictable and it is a linear story with a foreordained conclusion.

However, there were a few averted tropes there. WW’s mother turns out to be a reasonable authority figure who understands that her daughter must go to “man’s world” to stop the scourge of war brought upon mankind by Ares. However, true to the original story, she then tells Diana she can never return if she leaves. Curiously, when she ponders sending all the Amazons, one of the reasons she mentions for not doing this isn’t “and we could never return.” Since Diana is not disobeying her mother’s commands by leaving, then exactly what is she banished for?

Cinematographicly, Wonder Woman has a lot in common with another feminist folktale, Fury Road. The oversaturated orange and blue coloration, and the persistent use of over and under-cranking the speed of action shots is characteristic of both movies, and seldom seen elsewhere. Similarly in the action scenes it was much like an estrogen-powered version of 300.

Finally, although shifted to WWI, it is difficult to overlook the many similarities of Wonder Woman with the first Captain America movie. Supersoldier/demigoddess and fish out of water in a red, white and blue uniform fights a German Big Bad whose sidekick is a renegade German scientist with a severe facial disfigurement in the midst of a World War.

The movie is carried by deft writing which neither quite falls over into camp nor takes itself too seriously. There is some real romantic tension between WW and her companion/love interest/designated rescuee, Steve Trevor, enough to make his Captain-America-like ultimate fate really sad and distressing.

Overall, a quickly passing and pleasant diversion, and fun to see in the theater and share the laughs with the audience.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

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24 June, 2017 Posted by | movie, review, scanlyze, Wonder Woman | , , , | Leave a comment

Thor Ragnarok Teaser Trailer Looks like Big Fun

I am looking forward to Thor: Ragnarok.

It seems the new Marvel/Disney superhero/sufficiently advanced aliens/gods vrs demons movie will combine several of the all-time fan-favorite moments from the Marvel comics universe. Plus we get to see Goth!Cate as the Norse Goddess of Death Hela show us what Galadriel would have perhaps been like if she took the One Ring from Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.

First, we see Planet Hulk–Sakaar. In the comics that arena fight was between Hulk and the Silver Surfer. In the animated Planet Hulk, due to rights issues, the antagonist role to Hulk was represented by Thor’s horse-headed alien buddy and fellow former Mjolnir wielder Beta Ray Bill. Now Thor himself steps up and that has to be epic.

Seems they have also tried to add more levity like Guardians of the Galaxy and probably that helps the Avengers and Guardians franchises not to have a sudden change of tone and stylistic discontinuity when they eventually come together for Infinity War.

Second, I see Skurge the Executioner with his signature weapon “Bloodaxe” and dual-wielding M-16’s. That implies we may see Skurge’s great Last Stand/They Shall Not Pass of “He stood alone at Gjallerbru.”

Third, the arc of Ragnarok in the myths and in the comics is of course archetypal and we may see Surt, the Frost giants, and presumably the great wolf Fenrir and World Serpent Jormangund. Unless something happens to disrupt the attack and it becomes “Apocalypse Later.”

And fourth, Cate Blanchett looks great in black.

A few open questions.

Why is Odin on earth looking like a bum?

What role is played by Dr. Strange?

Will we see the Enchantress or her sister Amora? Perhaps amalgamated into one character?

What role will be played by the Warriors Three? In the comics they are important mediating characters like the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings. Folks who are more close to a power level comparable to mortal humans rather than gods and cosmic powers.

It is a great cast and everyone seems to be having fun.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

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12 April, 2017 Posted by | Disney, movie, Ragnarok, scanlyze, Thor | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reflections on the first Ghost in the Shell Trailer

Here are some actual issues to be concerned with in the new trailer of Ghost in the Shell:

* The Major doesn’t need a traditional origin story along the line of “the government stole my identity and made me a super soldier cyborg.” This is a way overdone trope and it misses the essential nature of the Major’s identity issues in the manga, movies and the series. What holds the Major back in her evolution is is not, not knowing who she was, it is clinging to material items like her watch which serve as tangible confirmation of our identity and that our memories are real, not a dream or illusion or a memory edit or hostile program.

* Bateau seems miscast. He is supposed to be a laid back, beer drinking, basset hound loving, weight lifting ex-US special forces operator. Seems like here the character has been “Danewashed.”

* An important point in the representation of the world of Ghost in the Shell is that cyberization is becoming common and the Net is becoming universal and starting to evolve in it new forms of consciousness and life. Having Motoko as “the first of your kind” is again, recycling a tired old trope which isn’t needed here.

* “Major” is an orphan appellation in this movie. It is used as though it is a first name, which in the manga, movies and TV series is not the case. There, she is called “Major” because she was a special forces operative, a Major in the JSDF and UN forces in Central America before she was recruited for Section 9. But because they have latched on to the “they stole your life” formula, they have lost the more interesting origin story of Motoko losing her parents, her body, her memories, everything in a plane crash when she was six. And they have lost the very touching backstory of her relationship with Kuze and the one hand folding paper cranes by which they recognize each other again.

Part of the confusion in the “whitewashing” issue is that Little Englanders and USians who are not familiar with the franchise assuming “Motoko Kusanagi” is her given name, whereas in English it would be like naming a character something like “Jane Doe Excalibur” and should be seen as an obvious code name, callsign, handle or pseudonym and not as a given name. So they shouldn’t shy away from using it.

Simply “looking awesome” and “looking like the source material” does not necessarily a good movie make. Witness “Warcraft.”

So count me encouraged but dubious about this trailer and film. On the plus side it looks gorgeous and we can at least enjoy the world building and watching a smirky naked badass Scarlett Johannson kicking ass. Which can’t be all bad.

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

16 November, 2016 Posted by | Ghost in the Shell, movie, review, scanlyze | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

My thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

I finally saw Captain America: Civil War last night. What an enjoyable movie! It is a mashup of filmatic styles and tropes ranging from noir to 70’s spy thriller to good old comic book splash page goodness. Shaky cam, long tracking shots, cgi and practical effects are used with virtuosity in a way which surprisingly does not clash or become a distraction.

Of course none of this would work without fine writing, a journeyman cast, and the directors’ broad vision of how the emotional dynamic works for each of these characters.

Props to Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and Tom Holland as your friendly neighborhood kid from Queens. They stand out among the capable and surprisingly nuanced performances by the ensemble cast.

The film avoids one of the overused arcs of films these days particularly of the cape versus cape variety. Rather than building up to a ponderous, cgi-laden Class 3 extinction event, the big fight occurs in the middle of the third act. This leaves room for a smaller scale coda which focuses back on the essential conflicts personified by the characters of Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America: rule of law and personal conscience, friendship and honor, and regret and hope.

Bittersweet, funny and trenchant, not by turns but all at once, this is a rare and laudable piece of film-making. And also great, great fun. It is the film we would have made if we could when we were thirteen years old, but with the wisdom and insight which is only bought through lifetimes of failure, transitory successes, and bitter mistakes which cannot be undone.

Civil War covers thematically much of the same territory as the ponderous and lamentable Batman v Superman. But where BvS is clumsy, depressing, and makes the protagonists look like sociopathic jerks, Civil War manages to leven its gravitas with humor and witty repartee.

If you used to love Marvel comics or still do, you will love love this film. If you are so-so on comic book films but enjoy action thrillers like the Bourne films, I think this film will still work for you.

Bottom line, a two and a half hour film seemed to me to be half an hour and left me wanting more.

Five of five stars.

Captain America: Civil War – Official Trailer | HD

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

11 September, 2016 Posted by | Captain America, Civil War, Marvel, scanlyze | , , , , , , | Leave a comment