Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Deadpool - movies with warm and uplifting message

I watched first Deadpool again and realized how Deadpool movies have good relatable messages. Something most superhero movies doesn't have. In first movie it is you can find love even if you are ugly. In second it is you can change and people are not is beyond saving. In first one boy meets girl. Boy gets cancer. Boy get cured but loses his good looks but that doesn't stop girl from loving him. In second boy loses girl and his will to live. He finds reason to live by trying to save abused boy. There are lot of reasons why movies are rated-R but at the core this is what the stories and messages are.

I started to think can I do the same for other superhero movies. Most other movies have message we can stop guy who want to destroy world / turn world into his/her world if we work together. Some times it is hero can stop and rest is the same. You can find this "message" from Man of Steel, first two Avengers movies, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Thor: Dark World, both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Wonder Woman, X-Men: Apocalypse and so on. To be honest Guardians of the Galaxy movies had more messages than this but I included them because the story follows so closely other superhero movies.

It was interesting to see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't have villain wanting to destroy the world or turning it into his or her world. Still its main message was we need to work together to destroy the monster. I had Thor: Ragnarök on the list for short while. But I took it away because you can argue Hela didn't want to turn world into her world.

I am not saying working together with other people to achieve something is bad message. It shouldn't be only message superhero movies have. If you take villain wanting to destroy the world you can add Ant-Man and Deadpool movies. But Deadpool movies have other messages too. So does Ant-Man. Doctor Strange doesn't have it but it has villain wanting to turn the world into his world.

This is one reason why I am so tired with superhero movies. Infinity War was good and different. Latter might be because it was first part of the story. Second part could make it the same as other superhero movies. Some of the movie I listed earlier had other messages too but they are so similar in main parts.

It is weird Deadpool movies have warmer and more uplifting messages than other movies which are intended for younger audiences.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Next lesson in my anime studies is Cowboy Bebop. You have probably seen I have gone through anime classics lately. Cowboy Bebop is one of the biggest. Is it really that good? Yes and no. More no than yes. Cowboy Bebop is very uneven series. Good episodes are really good. Others are quite boring. Some episodes are somewhere in between. I heard you should start from episode five because that is where it gets really good. I tell you a secret. Fifth episode is first really good episode. Series doesn't get better after that. You just see what it can be when it really works. I will get back to this later.

Cowboy Bebop tells story of bounty hunters living in space ship Cowboy Bebop. It starts with two bounty hunters Spike and Jet. Spike is former crime syndicate member. Jet former police. Later they are joined by Faye, woman running huge debts and crazy hacker girl Edward. They hunt bounties in our solar system where Earth has become wasteland and other planets and moons are inhabited.

Cowboy Bebop gets its style from westerns, film noir and 60's movies. All this is set into science fiction setting. There is not too much world building. They just happen to be in science fiction world. Style is more important than building worlds or studying science fiction themes. Darker episodes work better than humorous and action oriented episodes. Action works better in darker episodes. Episodes which end with one or two shots are more intense than episodes where they shoot rapid fire.

Edward was only character I didn't like. Faye had potential to be more. She is woman hanging with Spike and Jet until she finds something better. She was wasted too often to be someone trying to get others' money and not to pay for anything. Good thing was she didn't have forced romance with other crew members. Jet and Spike were laid back bros. All their backstory and story arc episodes were among good episodes. I don't count Feng Shui episode Jet's backstory episode even though it had characters from Jet's history.

I think you should watch Cowboy Bebop even though there are more bad episodes than good episodes. You probably don't need to watch every episode. Episodes  5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 16, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 26 are good episodes. With those episodes you miss Faye's introduction (episodes 3 and 4), Faye's backstory (episodes 15 and 18) and Edwards introduction (episode 9). You get good Cowboy Bebop experience with these 16 episodes. You get 11 good episodes and 5 episodes required for backstory and not missing anything important. Other 10 episodes are more or less fillers. You can watch them if you want to see every episode.

Almost half of the good episodes are among last seven episodes. This is why you are left remembering Cowboy Bebop is really good. Last episodes are really good but to get there there are more not so good episodes. If Cowboy Bebop had only 16 episodes I mentioned before it would be one of my favorite anime. Now it is close to those.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Should I get invested in second season of Westworld

There will be spoilers for first five episodes of second season. I felt I have to write this after I binge watched first four episodes. I decided to watch fifth episode because it was released before this was going to be published. Fifth episode did change my opinion but not completely. Westworld is good series. My problem is I feel like I will be heading towards disappointment if I get really invested in it. One name in credits make me feel this way.

JJ Abrams. I think I have told how I feel about his work on this site few times before. His movies and tv-series keep you engaged when you watch them but leave you disappointed by the end. This is because he like to create interesting mystery without any idea how to solve it. If he knows solution before hand it is something disappointing. He is good telling stories but those stories are not that good or memorable. Usually I forget what happened latest next day.

Westworld is written by other people which might be its salvation. But by how story is told the series might have too much of worst of JJ Abrams. This is most apparent in Bernard story arc and less apparent in Dolores story arc. Bernard story arc happens in future. We see flashback to time when other story arcs happen. We have seen conclusion in his story arc. This should create mystery. We should wonder how everything went to this. So far nothing has made me feel I want to know how this all has happened. It is just stacking many mysteries together in hope of making one big interesting mystery.

Dolores story arc has same kind of problem. She knows what will happen even when we don't. She is walking into conclusion she thinks she knows. This makes her do things which feel really stupid to do at the moment. There was no reason for her to kill confederate solders when she knew she will have big fight waiting for her. She explained her logic in fifth episode but it didn't make much sense in her current situation. I feel Bernard's story arc will be combined into Dolores' arc near the end and those dead hosts aren't that dead after all. These seem to be main story arcs and both seem to set up for disappointment.

I like William's arc so far but there is feeling it is heading to disappointment too. I liked James Delos story on fourth episode. I wanted it go deeper into how James Delos' copy was only a copy of real James Delos. Even when I liked the story I can see concepts introduced in the story could lead into disappointment. We know Williams going to correct his greatest mistake. This could be his copy, Ford's copy or copy of someone he loved like his wife. Ford's copy would be biggest disappointment and series seem to be heading towards it. Unless Ford's consciousness lives in Westworld's networks which also seems to be possibility.

My favorite story arc so far is Maeve's arc. It is most science fiction story arc. It studies concepts like machines acting out of their program and reminding us that hosts are actually programmed machines by having them meet their Japan World versions. This arc has everything I like about Westworld and it is only one not looking to go towards disappointment unless Maeve's new powers change her arc dramatically.

Dolores' arc is only one I haven't enjoyed so far. I have liked Bernard's arc even when it seems to head towards disappointment. William's and Maeve's have provided best moments so far. I know Westworld will give interesting journey but I am not sure how invested I should get. I will watch the season but I try not expect too much from following episodes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Deadpool 2 (2018)

When I walked out of Infinity War I thought it will be my favorite movie of the year. It won't be. I liked Deadpool 2 more than Infinity War. Infinity War is better from cinematic point of view but Deadpool 2 is more entertaining. When I walked out of theater I checked other screenings in case I could go to watch it again. I have never done that before. I have seen few movies twice in theater but I have never wanted to go straight back to next screening.

At the beginning I started to wonder if movie about guy who can't die will be interesting. Movie starts with Deadpool killing lot of people. It was just opening and then movie changes the tone. Movie gets better as it goes one. It was refreshing to see superhero movie which doesn't take itself too seriously and was aimed for adults. It was going to be censored in more conservative countries so it could have first LGBTQ+ superhero couple in big budget movies and Deadpool himself isn't too straight either. Other superhero movies don't dare to go there because it might mean less money.

Story is all over the place and there are lot of plot holes.There is some effort put into story but this is more about interesting characters being funny and doing outrageous things. Every joke doesn't  hit the mark but there is so much of them and most are clever for you to stay entertained. I wanted to see this again because I wanted to see more of these characters. Domino and Cable were good additions to Deadpool family. Domino's solo movie could be hit. She has the attitude and cool powers. Her character would work even without Deadpool in more serious movie. Cable needs Deadpool. He is just too grumpy and one dimensional character to work alone. He was elevated by Deadpool because characters worked well together.

I wanted to see more of Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio. If there is next Deadpool movie I want it to be about Deadpool, Domino, Cable, Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio. This movie will make money but rights are going to Disney who might not want to have Deadpool like this in MCU. I hope they keep making Deadpool movies even if they don't include him in MCU. Deadpool is something superhero movies need to stay fresh and it is only thing really competing against MCU in the genre.

Deadpool 2 is not a perfect movie. It is highly entertaining if you are fan of superhero movies and this kind of movies. All the promotion done for Deadpool movies is good reason enough for the third movie. It just has to be rated-R like first two are. Not taking anything away from MCU but Deadpool is more interesting as a whole at the moment.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

When I looked anime similar to Psycho Pass I found Ergo Proxy. When I looked anime similar to Ergo Proxy I found Serial Experiments Lain. I went deeper into rabbit hole. I don't want to go any deeper if that is even possible. It is understatement to say Serial Experiments Lain is weird. However it still doesn't lose its focus.

Serial Experiments Lain starts as story of lonely school girl's internet addiction. She isn't that much into computers until others in her school get email from dead girl. She wants to know if she too got email. First she start to build bigger computer but then everything goes deeper and deeper in every way.

It is not completely clear what actually happened by the end. Surreal stories need ending which gives satisfactory explanation what happened. Serial Experiments Lain almost has that except I think it has plot holes. I am not sure if everything was meant to make any sense at all. There is story which make sense but everything around it might not.

I watched Nordic dvd release with Japanese audio and Finnish subtitles. Something might have been lost in translation. Still I enjoyed the surreal trip this series is. They say you have to watch it few times to understand everything. Writer understand how computers and internet works on technical level to some extent but not completely. Serial Experiments Lain was ahead its time. It predicted where internet would go and is current still today. It gave nostalgic feel of good old times when internet was more text and hypertext based.

If this sounds interesting you should watch Serial Experiments Lain. If you can't take challenging surreal storytelling it is not for you. Serial Experiments Lain is cult classic. You either get it or don't understand why others like it so much.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Ergo Proxy (2006)

Now I have something not boring to say if someone asks my favorite anime. Before this it would have been Ghost in the Shell (1995). Ergo Proxy is not as well know as Ghost in the Shell but it still got dvd release in Finland. So it can't be that obscure.

Ergo Proxy follows inspector Re-l of futuristic domed city Romdeua. Her world changes when monster attacks her at her flat. Another main character is Vincent who is hunted by monster and is losing his grasp on reality. Child like android Piko starts to follow him. Series start like regular cyberpunk series. Main story seems to be robots and androids becoming self-aware and killing humans. Other theme being life in highly controlled society with refugees trying to be come citizens. Story takes turn to different direction after first few episodes.

Ergo Proxy is not easy to watch. There is on-going story but episodes can start weird places and you have to figure out what has happened since last episode and what is going on. In one of the best episodes literally nothing happens. It spends time showing how one of the main characters grow when they wait for something to happen. Some episodes feel like complete fillers until after you have finished watching the series you realize why those episodes were important showing what is going on in the world. There is one episode after half way point which don't seem to make any sense at all. But later you realize it actually told what had happened before.

Ergo Proxy doesn't tell everything. You have to figure it out yourself. I won't spoil the story. So I can't tell you what this is all about. It doesn't have clear good guys or bad guys except Piko who is child like android. Re-l is one of my favorite fictional characters. She had best moments and her character arc was most interesting. Vincent lacked personality. He didn't know what was going on. He just wanted to know what happened to him. Re-l and Piko carried his character. Re-l was ready sacrifice her career to know the truth. Vincent was more or less expecting someone to tell him the truth.

I can understand why someone might not like the series. It has lot of slow moments. It challenges its audience. There are many episodes which feel like fillers at first and too many dream sequences. Last episodes weren't as good as episodes before it. It felt bit like they ran out of time. I might have missed something which is why I didn't like the ending as much as the story leading to ending. It didn't ruin the series. I wanted to learn more what happened and why it happened. There was more story to be told.

It is hard to say why this was so good without spoilers. First it was mood and art work. Then it was characters. Romdeua was interesting place. I was disappointed when story went outside Romdeua but it only meant story went to different direction. Best moments happened outside Romdeua. I will watch this again. Another time probably reveal many things I missed first time. I almost missed few hints first time. I realized them later after I had seen the whole series.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Akira (1988)

Akira is said to be one of the best anime and science fiction movies. It is always hard to adjust your expectations when you watch something which should best thing ever. You expect it to be something and might be disappointed when it is something else. Usually it is something else if you manage see the movie unspoiled.

Akira happens in Neo-Tokyo where society is almost collapsing. There are massive protests. Bike gangs fight on streets. Violent police tries to keep it all together without thinking too much about collateral damage. Almost everyone seem to be on the edge all the time. Bike gang crashes into weird kid. One of them them is taken by military and others by police. Story gets really weird by the end. Telling more about the story would be spoiler.

I can see why Akira has its reputation. It won't got to top of my anime or science fiction lists. Maybe it would be there if I saw it when it was released. It is still good movie but it has too many flaws to be on top of the lists. Main flaws is ending being too weird and some characters not being given any backstory even though they had some affecting the movie. You had to guess what it was. Worst was long death scene for character we saw briefly couple times before. The death scene happened when main story was shifting gear. It was payoff for something which didn't have any build up.

Akira is based on manga series by director of the movie. Maybe he thought we knew the characters better than what we learned from the movie. Many open questions were probably answered in manga and build up for the death scene was there. There were few characters who needed more backstory. It was clear characters and world had more to give but this movie didn't have time for them.

Akira looks really good. It reminded me of comic books with really good art work. Until the end it doesn't go too weird. It is worth checking to know what the movie actually is. It is not perfect movie but it does many things really well.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thor: Ragnarök (2017)

There are two reasons why I didn't like Thor: Ragnarök as much as I should. I saw it first time day after I saw Infinity War. I saw Thor's character arc from this movie onwards which set some expectations for this movie. Planet Hulk is one of my favorite comic book stories. This movie means we don't get proper live action Planet Hulk movie. This movie took Sakaar setting and some story elements from Planet Hulk. If you take what happened in Sakaar here, mix it with Game of Thrones and add lot of space zombies you have some idea what Planet Hulk is. If you don't want to read the comic animated movie is good option. What was in this movie doesn't spoil Planet Hulk. It is much more than what this movie had.

Thor goes Guardians of the Galaxy or is it Marvel Cinematic Universe space? There are lot of jokes and everything is bright and colorful. Some jokes felt forced and there were too many of them. Like Marvel Studios knew what was coming next and wanted to make this fun colorful action movie. Movie doesn't have good villain or villains. In Asgard it is Hela who had much better premise than what we got. I don't know what went wrong. Her backstory was interesting. Cate Blanchett was miscast. She lacked something role needed. She looked cool in photos but something was missing.

Grandmaster was Roman emperor like ruler of Sakaar. He was different kind of Roman emperor than leader of Sakaar in Planet Hulk. I can't stop comparing this to Planet Hulk. This is like watered down 70's disco version of Planet Hulk. Valkyrie was shining light at Sakaar. She wasn't from Planet Hulk which probably was reason I could enjoy her. Loki wasn't in Planet Hulk either but we have seen him and Thor so many times before. There wasn't much new this time.

End battle had moments but ending was too convenient. Movie was all over the place and then they brought coolest or should I say hottest plot device to save heroes and heroes got go straight to beginning of Infinity War.

My enjoyment was affected by expectations of darker movie. Even the name hinted darker movie. This is fun colorful action movie. It uses too much comedy tropes. Some of those are hilarious. Most not. I probably like this more next time when I know what kind of movie this is. Same happened with Blade Runner 2049. I can see this is not bad movie even with it flaws. I had wrong expectations when I saw it first time. I assumed in Infinity War review you should see this before Infinity War. I was right. Not only because Infinity War starts where this ends.