Monday, April 29, 2019

The Expanse - season 3 (2018)

I never reviewed second season of The Expanse. I watched it and meant to write about it but then forgot to do it. First half was good. Second half was disappointing because new plot without protomolecule started and everything was less exciting than in first half. It is less exciting when season finale is two fights inside two ships than potential destruction of Earth. Third season begins where second left off. There is bigger change after mid-season finale than it was between two season.

Third season brings The Expanse to be best science fiction series at the moment. It is what first and first half of second season were. Season is divided into two halves but second stay interesting too because it didn't turn up to be build up for next season. First half benefits for later half of second season which was build up for it.

Most unbelievable aspect in series is how James Holden happens to be in correct place and how correct people happen to be where they need to be. Everything else tries to be as scientific as possible. Except distance and time it takes to travel that distance. But it would make quite boring tv to have characters travel most of the time. After third season even protomolecule feels believable. After second season it felt magical story telling device. In third it was explained better and made more sense.

Book series The Expanse is based on is currently eight books long. Next one should be last one. So far one book has been one season. I started to wonder should I check the books because this is interesting story and science fiction series' doesn't have too good track records lasting over five seasons. Syfy already cancelled this after three seasons. Reason we get fourth is Amazon picked it up. Is Amazon committed to do remaining six seasons or do they check it season by season?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

This is spoiler free review. I will publish spoiler review next week.

I am not sure should I be happy that Endgame worked as well as it did or be disappointed that last hour didn't work as well as two before it. There hasn't been cinematic universe like Marvel Cinematic Universe before. Endgame closes big chapter of it. To underline this movie doesn't have end credit scene. Marvel hasn't announced any new MCU movie. Sony has announce next Spider-Man movie. We know there will be next Guardians of the Galaxy because of what happened to James Gunn. But other than that Marvel Studios' have made sense of end. These movies have made so well in box office that there will be future movies but they haven't announced road map like they had until this movie.

Marvel Studios can and have balls to make the movies which are not what we expected them to be. Endgame works best when it does it. It is worst when it is what we expect chapter ending movie of big franchise to be. CGI battle at the end and fan service go too far. Most of the fan service happens during last hour. They even redo my favorite scene from Infinity War with different characters. It has impact and made sense for the story but it has way less impact than when we saw the same thing in Infinity War.

Endgame has tons of fan service. Some of works really well like Tony and Steve joking about Steve's ass (memes and fan fiction shows them often as lovers). Some feel like they wanted to check as many boxes as possible. This happens in scenes where main characters visit sites and characters of other movies. Or when other female characters join Captain Marvel in middle of last battle. It felt like they wanted to show they have strong female characters like we don't know they are there. And then there are would it be nice if x did y moments which rarely work on any movie.

If Endgame was cut to two or two and half hours cutting the part where last battle become confusing mess and fan service for sake of fan service this would have been on level of Infinity War. I really liked first two hours. Then there happens something which makes very little sense but it needed to happen for us to have ending we had. Before that there were many great moments like how Thor and Hulk dealt with what happened in Infinity War.

If you like MCU movies you will enjoy Endgame. It is not huge drop from Infinity War but it still is a drop. There is first openly gay character which can be easily cut from Chinese cut but it is still there for rest of us.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Black Panther (2018)

It is hard to write spoiler free reviews of Marvel Studios'  movies. They haven't released bad movie yet. Most of them are not really good. Just good enough to be entertaining. Each movie is different but there is feeling of being Marvel Studios' movie. Black Panther was movie event of 2018 for having mostly black cast and if I am not wrong that was also the case behind the camera too. It showed fictional African country with future technology. It did well in box office to show diversity doesn't hurt movies.

Spoilers from this point onward. Reviews and analyses said it had philosophical battle between T'Challa and Killmonger. I didn't expect high minded debate but I was surprised how Killmonger was presented as crazy terrorist guy. There was philosophical debate between hiding from the world and helping rest of the world. But that debate was between T'Challa and Nakia. Nakia wanted to help rest of the world when T'Challa wanted Wakanda to hide. T'Challa saw merit in Nakia's way of seeing things only after he learned what happened to Killmonger and what it made Killmonger to be. Killmonger wanted revenge and world war.

Killmonger's position was to use Wakanda's superior firepower. And did they debate about these positions? No. They did what winning side wanted to do. Which kind of was Killmonger's point of view. Being strongest and forcing others to do what strongest wants. They even decide ruler of Wakanda with fight to the death. If movie has message it is it is probably not a good idea to decide ruler by fighting to death. But they couldn't have that message in superhero movie because in superhero movies winner is right. Might makes it right. One with better arguments tend to be stronger in movies.

To be honest most Wakandans didn't see this as good idea when T'Challa was challenged first time but this is how the nation works. It is weird how things are solved by fighting in such a technically advanced nation.

I remember Killmonger to be praised as better Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. I didn't see him that way. Praises probably come from his death scene. Before that he did everything to look like villain. Good villains believe in their cause and try to sell their view. Killmonger believed his cause but didn't try to sell it to anyone. His plan was to become king and use his position to start war against rest of the world. He didn't try to get others on his side.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Death of Superman (2018)

It is funny how animated DC movies show how stories should be done when DCEU live action movies ruin the same stories. The Death of Superman was part of Batman V Superman. It took few minutes at the end of the movie and ruined the whole the death of Superman thing. Story arc was big in comics rather for killing Superman than being really good story arc. This animated movie is the best version of the story. Only good version of the story to be honest.

Someone in DC had good idea of killing Superman. They invented new villain to do it. Doomsday only needed to kill Superman and die in process. So they didn't spent too much time inventing him. He is angry and he fights. In comics story practically goes unstoppable monster appears from somewhere and beats every hero until it meets Superman. Then they fight until they both die. There are no other story arcs. In Batman V Superman Doomsday was just thrown in because someone thought it was good idea.

What makes animated movie better is it has more than Doomsday coming to kill Superman going on. It has Clark Kent telling Lois Lane he is Superman and everything included to it which gives emotional weight to story. In other versions this had happened earlier. Animated movie knew Doomsday fight wasn't enough. There had to be more to make this interesting. Addition to Lois Lane arc there were few smaller characters getting arcs showing how death of Superman felt.

The Death of Superman is also setup for next story arc Reign of Supermen. Origin story of one of the Supermen is shown during the movie. Other are shown during end credits. Movie have emotional impact even when it shows Superman may not have died after all. It is something Batman V Superman couldn't do.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel is another fun and entertaining but forgettable Marvel Studios movie. I would put it among better half of those but not among the best ones. It tells origin story of Captain Marvel and is start of Avengers initiative.  Movie is set to 1990's. It should work if you watch movies in chronological order. This sets things in motion for first Avengers movie and end credit scene set them for forth. Compared to other female lead superhero movie Wonder Woman this was better one. This didn't drop the ball in the end like Wonder Woman did. This was spoiler free part. It is what you can expect from Marvel Studios. It has own flavor but in the end it is Marvel Studios movie.

Now to spoilers. It was interesting to see Skrulls as good guys. When I read more comics they were bad guys. Don't know if they have ever been good guys in comics. In comics they were big space empire at war with Kree. Movie convince us that this is the case in MCU too. But it was later revealed that Kree is the empire and Skrulls are rebels trying to survive. I still can't believe Skrulls as good guys. I wait them to show their real colors in sequel.

I want to see more of Kree. I hope they get bigger role in next phase of MCU. Supreme Intelligence reminded me of Sibyl System of Psycho-Pass. It looked similar and had similar function. ...And in comics they are similar in other ways too. Potentially watching Psycho-Pass will spoil future MCU movie where Supreme Intelligence's real nature is revealed. More I think about it more sure I am where Supreme Intelligence plot is going.

Ronan the Accuser wasn't necessary. I see why he was here but having him here made Captain Marvel too powerful. At least too powerful to stay on Earth in future movies. Which means she won't stay on earth because Marvel doesn't tend to make stupid decisions if they have time to plan. Firing James Gunn was stupid but he is rehired now.

CGI Samuel L Jackson wasn't distracting. It was weird when he was with "young" Coulson who didn't look any younger. Not sure if that was inside joke or something. It felt like it was. Not too distracting but noticeable.

Guess I have to say something about main character. It is bit hard because she felt diluted. She had lost her memory. She was empty vessel filled by Kree. But she didn't felt like she grew when she gained her memories. She gained powers and changed side. But she remained dedicated solder through out the movie. She is like lowest common determiner. Character who is relatable to most people. Story of put down woman rising up was more important than personality. I don't say that was wrong choice since this seems to be empowering movie. I just hope she gets more personality in future.

First Captain Marvel was among better half of MCU movies. Second one could be among best movies if it deals with Kree all the time and Supreme Intelligence is what I expect it to be.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Farscape: Season 1 (1999)

This is Farscape's 20th anniversary. That is reason why we got restored HD versions for streaming. I remembered liking the series but it often happens watching series again shows it wasn't that good in first place. This isn't the case with Farscape. I am surprised how good it looks after 20 years. Practical effects and puppets are the reason. One reason for series was showcasing The Jim Henson Company's capabilities. It is reason why creatures look better than in other science fiction tv series. Some look even better than creatures in big budget movies.

Farscape tells about astronaut John Crichton escaping militaristic organization Peacekeepers with escaped prisoners and exiled peacekeeper. Aeryn Sun is exiled for too long contact with unknown species. Ka D'argo is warrior, Zhaan priestess and Rygel slug like overthrown ruler. Crichton comes through wormhole to their prison break and end up with them on living ship.

First season doesn't have big story arc until episode 18 which start season finale. Before that there is prison break, episode where they find out what is happening to their ship and new crew member Chiana joining in episode 15. Inside slots separated by those events episodes can change places without problems. In some cases changing order would to fix problems. There is episode where Zhaan and Crichton bond but in next episode Zhaan is eager to leave John behind only to in later episode refer to bonding episode saying Crichton carries piece of her within him. Continuity isn't too important in the finale either. One character just disappears somewhere when they are escaping Peacekeepers.

Farscape focuses in characters. Characters look alien and have interesting back stories. It doesn't have philosophical debates other science fiction have. It is more setting interesting characters free in science fiction settings and seeing what comes up. First season is used for introducing the characters and bonding them. What was refreshing was they didn't have roles. They were people thrown together trying to survive and get back to their homes.