Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

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Movies Lately

Meant to make an entry like this some odd months ago but I was distracted by not doing it and right now it seems like a good packing break activity.

At the time I planned on making the wry observation that the last three movies I had seen in theaters were all based on books that I had read and dearly dearly loved long long ago. It's been a while and that's no longer the case but those three were Life of Pi, Les Miserables, and The Hobbit. All three were good, with Life of Pi most and Les Miserables either least, or at least least re-watchable. I've loved the musical for a long time too, of course, so I was nitpicking from every angle, but both the music and the cinematography contained a lot of disappointment. And the acting, well, everyone has said it, but it's never too late for one more RUSSELL CROWE? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Would love to see more of the girl who played Eponine, and Hugh Jackman is always worth admission even if he doesn't quite match his role, but overall I thought it was overhyped and unnecessary.

True story: I used to think the line in Cosette's "Castle on a Cloud" was "There is a lady old and white", as in, hoary. I remember the exact moment that I listened closer and realized that it was a lady all in white, and that Cosette wasn't imagining a generic parental figure but was being contacted by her dead mother in her dreams. I was fortunately alone in the bakery where I used to work, because I think I actually had tears well up. Sure, I'm weird like that, but this is powerful stuff. It's a story that demands respect even in its cheesiest moments. I don't think the film quite understood that.

The music in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on the other hand, was a highlight, or at least the two songs near the beginning sung by the dwarves. They did the breaking dishes scene! It was awesome! An even better highlight would have been the song about roasting funny little birds in fir trees, but sadly, someone made the decision to ditch the whimsy in favor of dramatic action, so instead we got a nasty-looking white orc and a lot of hack n' slash. I heard some people thought the movie was too childish and not serious enough to do the book justice, to which I have to ask, what book did they read? The Hobbit, unlike LotR, was expressly for children and that's what elevated it from prequel to classic in its own right. Seeing the source material changed in ways that are so clearly profit-motivated is a real comedown from the wonder of old favorites gaining silver screen visuals.

That's the main reason I wish they had gone with a single movie instead of another trilogy, and yes, I know that the additional footage that pads it out is all authentic Tolkien plot. But it's not The Hobbit, and its presence takes some of the Hobbit out of The Hobbit. They'll give you a gorgeously scripted, perfectly acted, visually stunning, and joyfully faithful scene like Bilbo and Gollum's riddle exchange, and then follow it up with a few minutes that have no purpose except LOOK, IT'S GALADRIEL, WE GOT CATE BLANCHETT AGAIN, COME BACK NEXT YEAR FOR EVEN MORE STAR POWER!

Life of Pi, the book, was a birthday gift I received when it was fairly new. Religion and animals being two of my favorite topics, it was well chosen, and I still stand by Pi's wisdom whenever I remember certain passages. For this one I could understand most of the changes in the adaptation, considering the difficulty in filming it (I hear it bankrupted the CG department). At least, instead of just telling people the book is better, I think I'll always say it's worth experiencing both versions. And after both, I'll want to talk to you about religion and animals.

Since those, I've seen Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, neither of which I would ordinarily go for but both of which I quite enjoyed. (I was saddened to hear about historical inaccuracies in both, because I want to believe everything I see. I guess that's why I don't ordinarily go for that kind of movie.)

Not to leave out the new(ish) Whedon lineup. Naturally I loved all three, which leaves me unsure about what to say about any of them. Last night I showed my boyfriend Cabin in the Woods, figuring he'd like the crazy ride of the second half even though geek movies aren't usually his cuppa, and I was right. For myself I'm always happy to re-watch this one because the beginning is more rewarding when you know the end, and taking inventory of the monsters is so much fun. This time, boyfriend pointed out a killer robot that I'd never seen before, and I noticed that the maintenance department won the betting pool through their unoriginality, proving that the Buckners are the most likely outcome. Both of us agreed that the Purge button was the best part.

Getting someone interested in The Avengers seems to be another matter. I guess it's just the kind of thing you're into, or you're not. Needless to say, I am, and the copy that my best Kean got me has already seen a fair amount of use. My favorite Avenger is Hawkeye because all of the others are too mainstream, and because arms. I just saw someone on Twitter saying that the movie was essentially an expensive reboot of "The Gift", and that's got some truth to it, but in a good way. The fair and even distribution of important plot and action moments is probably just one of those Whedon trademarks that we don't think about because we're used to it, conscientious character building is another, and if sacrificing oneself by diving into a portal is too specific of a climax to use more than once, well, at least he flipped it upside down.

It does feel at this point that the Marvel movie franchise, having built up to such an event and then, amazingly, having handled it well and turned out a good product, must be getting ready to collapse. If that's the case, I'll miss it, but I did see the third Iron Man and thought it was pretty damn good for a Part 3, not to mention tying into The Avengers in a fairly seamless way. I'm crossing my fingers for a lot more fun before the inevitable decline. Of course I'll be watching S.H.I.E.L.D., but this is a post about movies, not TV.

Much Ado About Nothing was a joy. I'm not much of a Shakespeare buff - hell, I don't think I even have a favorite - but there's something almost inevitably pleasing about hearing familiar modern actors speak his lines. I love Beatrice and I love Benedick, and I love the story of how Joss gathered everyone up to shoot the damn thing in record time, and I love how many recognizable faces there were being such unexpected characters. One more I'll end up owning, one more for many watches in the future.

On the plane to England I watched Hanna, which I just looked up on IMDb and Wikipedia to figure out what the hell it was about because the audio on Delta is kind of crap. Turns out the big twist at the end wasn't that twisty, which is a little bit of a bummer since that could have made it substantially better. It wasn't bad, just kind of goofy and uberviolent. Adele from Dollhouse was in it, though!

On the plane back I watched Wreck-It Ralph. Loved it! I hadn't had much of an idea on what it was about, which probably made it better, because I was charmed by how well the behind-the-console world of the arcade was conceived. (Part of me wonders if Hollywood has become a bit too enamored of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, but that's besides the point.) Also, how cool is it that they got so many brand names and copyrighted characters in there? Never would have expected Mentos + diet soda to be used as a feature film MacGuffin. My favorite part was the 'Oreo' chant. Oreos are great. I love Oreos.

(Before that, actually, I started watching 10,000 BC, accepting that it was going to be terrible but figuring it was worth it for the CG prehistoric mammals. Halfway through? I realize I've seen it before - possibly even in the theaters - and suddenly remember thinking, the first time, that it was going to be terrible but worth it for the CG prehistoric mammals. The scene that sparked the memory was of enslaved native peoples building pyramids with woolly mammoths. Both times, that was when I came to understand that the CG prehistoric mammals were not worth it. I don't remember if I turned it off the first time, but I believe I can handle never knowing how it ends.)

Edit for one I forgot: Equestria Girls, the feature-length Friendship Is Magic movie, is now available on YouTube, so I watched it. I figured I would get there one way or another, since it's new material with ponies, although the matter of canon isn't a big deal in this fandom. I'd heard enough about it that what I saw was pretty much exactly what I expected: the genuine bright and positive feel of the show, mixed with the sour taste of commercialism and teeny-bopper fashion.

For those not in the know, Equestria Girls featured the full cast and crew from the cartoon, but the bulk of it took place in a fantasized high school setting, where the characters appeared as humans (except for Spike, who was a talking dog). The purpose, from Hasbro's business angle, was to sell a line of fashion dolls boosted by the popularity of the show. Since My Little Pony in all its incarnations has always been aimed at toy sales, that in itself isn't a big deal, but Friendship Is Magic has distinguished itself through having a lot of artistic integrity and striving to portray positive female characters who don't fall into typical feminine stereotypes - such as obsessing over fashion. Most fans felt like humanoid ponies were unnecessary, and they are, and that the cookie cutter, super slim appearance of the teenagers was an insult to the show's core message, and it is. But when you get beyond that, they put out a decent little movie, and it is, after all, temporary.

The inclusion of so many background characters was a major point in its favor. It's fun to just watch and look for them, and there are plenty of little in-jokes to make you smile even while you're yawning over the plot, like Trixie commanding the vending machine. My only complaints in that area are that Big Mac wasn't big enough and I didn't spot Lyra. Also, everyone is fully recognizable as who they are as ponies, and not just because of their voices and appearances. Probably the biggest way this idea could have gone wrong would be to emphasize Flash Sentry, the outfits, and the class status too much, but overall, it was still about friendship, and still our Mane Six. (Though one of the issues with watching this as an adult is that you're stuck wondering about the rules of the parallel universe, and why there are doubles of everyone but Twilight, Spike, and Sunset Shimmer. What if there used to be, and going through the mirror means that the other world's Twilight just blips out of existence?!)

Speaking of Flash, though, this might be one place where I divide from the bronies. I think it would be neat if Twilight got a love interest. Sure, Flash is nothing special as human or pony, but I like his color scheme as pony and I like that he's a pegasus guard. They look cute together. He could bring her flowers and stuff.

That's all I can think of right now, but if you saw any movies lately that you want to talk about, throw 'em at me and I'll tell you if I saw them and what I thought. This is the post for all movies!
Tags: a book i read, a movie i saw, marvel cinematic universe, middle-earth, music, ponies

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