Sunday, June 17, 2018

Orbita 9 / Orbiter 9 (2017)

Orbita 9 has huge twist about 20 minutes in. I don't want to spoil it. It changes what movie is. So it is hard to talk about the movie without spoiling the twist but I try to do it. I wanted to like Orbita 9. In the end I liked it but there were moments when I wasn't sure if watching it was worth it. First 20 minutes didn't promise much. It takes about hour before movie gets really interesting. Then the ending is little let down but not enough to ruin the movie.

Orbita 9 is hard science fiction movie with story I have seen couple times before. Trailer spoils the twist at 20 minutes. I recommend not watching it. Twist is not so huge if you have seen this story before but it still has some impact when it is revealed. Story steals or borrows lot from other science fiction movies and series. Some of which I want to see continuation.

Story would have suited better as episode of anthology series. 90 minutes felt too long. Half of that would have worked better. Some scenes felt extended beyond what was needed to make a point. If this had to be 90 minutes it needed more world building and maybe secondary plot. Now it only has the main story and too little world building. As it is Orbita 9 is little above average science fiction movie with not too much we haven't seen before.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Solo (2018)

I am late to the party. Story of my life. I didn't want to see this in theater but I promised colleague to watch this. It took longer than I expected but I did see it in theater. This is what you get when you know Star Wars fans. She liked this. I haven't heard her telling what she thinks about Deadpool 2. I guess this doesn't work both ways.

Star Wars fandom is so heated that I feel I have to point out why I didn't want to see in theater. I thought movie wouldn't have anything interesting to give after I saw the trailer. I liked The Last Jedi even after second viewing. I wasn't boycotting. I just didn't find Solo interesting. I thought it would be showing us what we learned in original trilogy. And I was right. It didn't have much to offer. Seeing the heroes doing the thing wasn't enough.

To be honest same story could have been told better if done edgier. Solo suffers from fact it was made for kids. It feels too much like product made by movie making factory. It is almost definition of mediocre. More I think about it the script was actually good but execution made it mediocre. I will go into spoilers to explain why I think this is.

Emilia Clarke was miscast as Qi'ra. She is Han's love interesting. She wants to leave Corellia with Han. Han manages to get out but gangsters take her back. She is saved by Dryden Vos. She was in somewhat abusive relationship with him living among ruthless gangsters. She felt she couldn't leave him because that would make other gangsters to hunt her. Then she meets her love Han who wants her to escape with him. She is in conflict of what she should do. Should she go with Han and be on the run all the time or play the game with gangster and survive as long as possible.

That is interesting character arc. I got that from what characters said and did. I didn't get that from Emilia Clarke's acting. She walked through scenes smiling and looking cute. Her character had rough life but she didn't show it. She said it. Qi'ra's character arc was only real character arc of the movie. It was mediocre because actress couldn't deliver. I wish I had seen the conflict before we saw it from her actions in the end. There were scenes which tried to bring this up but they didn't work due acting.

This is real shame because Solo was meant to launch Qi'ra movies or at least her bigger story arc in future Star Wars movies. She was only one who was set to have future adventures. Han and Chewie went to take job from Jabba the Hut which they had screwed at the beginning of New Hope. Lando went back to gambling. Qi'ra was only one who was set to go to next movie.

Emilia Clarke isn't only problem. Same acting problem and lack of emotion is elsewhere too. There is almost no impact when group members die. Rio and Beckett's wife Val died during train robbery. Both died during long action scene without any stopping for brief moment to let those deaths have any impact. After action scene Beckett acts like they had just failed a job. Not like his wife and his friend had just died. Their deaths didn't have any impact on any character. Beckett cares more about failed job. This is problem of direction not the script.

L3's death didn't have impact because of completely different reason. Lando's reaction to L3's death is so over the top it is more funny than sad. Was that meant to say something when robot's death got bigger reaction than Rio's and Val's deaths? L3's death also happened during long action scene and there was no reaction to it after action scene was over.

This was part of a bigger problem. This is a prequel. We know who will make it to original trilogy. We don't worry if they make it. We know they make it. We could worry about characters who are not in original trilogy but movie almost tells not to. Rio was Beckett's pilot. We knew he would have to die to make room for Han. L3 was also a pilot. It made Han leave pilot's chair. It had to die to make room for Han to do legendary Kessel run. What should we care about when some characters are set to survive, some events are set to happen and we are almost told not to care about others?

Qi'ra was only one with character arc. This means Han starts as Han we know and doesn't change during to movie. Closest thing to character arc is Han fails one trick at the beginning and manages to do it later. Han is there to do the things mentioned in original trilogy. Lando is there to show Han and Lando had history like mentioned in Empire Strikes Back. Script offered possibility turn Han from good guy to one who doesn't care about anyone else but it wasn't used or this had same acting problem as Qi'ra. Han is the same from start to end. His character arc happens in original trilogy.

Some people seem to hate L3. I liked it. It was comic relief and worked as such. Some say Lando was best character. He was ok except in couple scenes one being L3's death scene. Beckett was best character mainly because of Woody Harrelson's performance. I would have liked him to react death of his wife a little.

Solo is pretty much what you can expect from trailer and knowing they will show what was told in original trilogy. Script went to darker places than I expected but execution didn't go there. I complained lot here. Movie had few good moments but mostly it is as average as movie can be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Westworld season 2 episodes 7 and 8

I wrote my thoughts of first five episodes earlier. I ranted about sixth episode in Twitter. I felt like writing about it but not enough to write post about it. It was mostly how what I wrote about first five episodes was going to worse direction. After watching seventh and eighth episode I felt like writing another post. It was weird plainly filler episode was way better than story wise important episode.

Seventh episode showed how there are no stakes in the series. I was shocked when they killed William and Maeve. They would have died from those bullets if they weren't important characters. But because they are they won't die until their story arcs are concluded. They will survive anything until there is big reveal for their story arcs. This killed all tension from their story arcs. It is just waiting for the mysteries to be solved.

Episode showed problem with all the time jumping Westworld does. There was no tension in scene with Dolores and Charlotte. We knew Charlotte would survive without any harm because we had seen her in future without any injuries. So why should we care what happens to Charlotte if we know nothing will happen to her?

Bernard being exposed have same problem. It happens in future. We don't know what happens to him. But because we know series won't kill any one with main story arc we know he will survive somehow until the season finale at least. It is just waiting to get to season finale. Even Anthony Hopkins couldn't save the episode. Ford controlling Bernard could lead to something but it was weird for Ford telling he gave free will to hosts and then taking it away. Talk about hosts recording guests for fidelity sounded nonsense.

Eighth episode was actually good one. It was clearly filler before last two episodes but it showed what Westworld could be. It didn't have too much jumping. There wasn't anything new to main story arcs or concepts series has introduced. It was interesting to see how things have happened from perspective of someone displayed as mindless savage in previous episodes. We have seen hosts waking up before. This time it was without jumping and other distractions. Not building mysteries. Just a story which stood on its own.

I will watch last two episodes back to back. I can't think of anything which would make this season as good as first one. I doubt last two episodes will give anything as good as eighth did. It will be more of what seventh episode had.

Monday, June 11, 2018

One Punch Man (2015)

Back to good anime. You have probably heard about One Punch Man even if you are not into anime if you have spent any time on internet. He is one of those anime heroes who has become main stream meme material. Saitama is so powerful superhero he can win anyone with just one punch. This might sound like premise of boring power fantasy. However One Punch Man doesn't try to build anything on if Saitama will win or not. We know he will win. Question if others can make it until Saitama comes to save the day.

Saitama wants challenging opponent. He is growing frustrated when no monster or group of villains give him any challenge. Other superheroes have to give their all to stop villains. People think Saitama is cheating because everything is too easy for him. One Punch Man is parody of superheroes and monster of the week shows. It has bizarre cast of heroes and villains. Each villain seem to be more dangerous than other. Some villains are few times size of skyscrapers.

One Punch Man is good because of relatable characters. Genos is powerful cyborg who seem to be only one who knows how powerful Saitama is. He wants to show he can make it even without Saitama. Mumen Rider regular person playing superhero. His only power seem to be his inspirational talks and never give up attitude. We don't fear if Saitama will survive. We fear if Genos and Mumen Rider will survive.

You might need to have some knowledge of superhero or monster of the week genres to fully enjoy One Punch Man. Anyone watching anime probably have enough of that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I watched The Last Jedi again

Toxic Star Wars fans seem to be news worthy these days. The Last Jedi has got more hate than other movies before it. Solo is not performing in box office as well as you could expect from Star Wars movie. After hearing so much critique I decided to watch The Last Jedi again. I did change opinion a little but I don't see it same way as haters and really don't get some of the critique. I think haters belong to three different groups. I get to my current opinion later but first what I think has caused all the hate.

First group is people who don't like diversity of new Star Wars. Some seem to confuse all critique coming from this group. If you want to see big budget movies you have to get used to diversity. Studios want their money and they know white males are not only ones with money. It doesn't matter how some fans complain about diversity. Big budget movies will have diversity to attract bigger audiences. I don't see diversity as a problem. It could be done wrong but in that case movie probably does have many other flaws too.

Second group is Star Wars Expanded Universe fans. EU contains books, comics, games and other media released after first movies. Fans got their Star Wars fix from EU when there was only three movies (+ Holiday Special and Ewok movies) and continued to get their fix when more movies were released. Disney declared EU material non-cannon because they didn't want to be restrained by EU stories. Fans of EU didn't take it too well. The Last Jedi's Luke Skywalker is different Luke Skywalker than EU Luke Skywalker. This group's hate seem to culminate to Luke Skywalker but there are other changes from EU that they don't like. Bit like their holy text were discredited. I think Disney didn't know what they did when they made EU non-cannon.

Third group is fans who want their Star Wars movies to be fun action movies without any serious themes. I am not sure if you can say they hate The Last Jedi. Their voices get mixed with two other groups.

I don't have problems with diversity and don't have Star Wars EU baggage. I can see The Last Jedi as what it is. I still think it is fourth best Star Wars movie. I haven't seen Solo yet but I don't think Solo will be better. The Last Jedi has few problems. It follows Empire Strikes Back too closely. Everything Poe and Hux does at the beginning should have been rewritten. Characters improve later but beginning sets wrong tone. Rose's reasons saving Finn and causing First Order to destroy the door made sense only if she had read the script and knew Luke Skywalker would walk through the hole in the door to buy heroes time to escape.

Whole casino planet could have been dropped. They could have gone to First Order's ship without going to casino planet. They could have added all that social commentary without going to casino planet. Movie should have ended soon after Snoke's ship was destroyed. Ending at the planet felt more connected to rest of the story second time, but emotional high point is still when Snoke's ship was destroyed. I liked Mark Hamill's work more this time. I liked Rose first time more than this time. Maybe because I knew what she does at the end and was more critical of what she did during rest of the movie.

I like how The Last Jedi does things differently. Rey's parents weren't important. Luke had his doubts of Jedi order and wasn't this guy who could do nothing wrong. Rey's and Kylo Ren's connection was interesting. Killing Snoke like he was killed was probably best thing they could do with the character. He didn't feel like a guy who would become supreme leader. Maybe he was so powerful he didn't need to care how others like him. He acted like guy who get others hate him.

I enjoyed The Last Jedi. It took Star Wars to new places. I don't mean planes or anything like that. It made story more interesting. All the hate it got make me fear what is coming in future. Will the movies continue revolve around original trilogy and be copies of original movies. I hope they do something like Knights of the Old Republic games did and do something which has nothing to do with Skywalkers or original trilogy but still being Star Wars.