Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
I have long been a Hulk supporter. That started with Ang Lee's Hulk, which I felt was unfairly maligned. [I intend to re-watch that one, too, now, because I realized when watching the MCU Hulk that I had rolled bits and pieces of that one into this one.] One reason is that a lot of the shade being thrown at both movies had to do with the animation. Generally speaking, people making movies are making them as technically proficiently as they can, and I am willing to overlook poor tech, especially when you're dealing with companies on the cutting edge. I mean, have you seen movies made before Star Wars? And no one then was complaining about things looking fake or not.
That said, there is a problem with the animation in The Incredible Hulk that has nothing to do with capability; it has to do with choice and design. Those things are fair game for slammingy. So here's the problem with Incredible: Every time Hulk was onscreen for any kind of "closeup" I felt like I was watching Lego Hulk. Of course, Lego Hulk is based on this Hulk, but Lego is intentionally cartoony, and this movie was trying to not, which I will get more into in a moment. Effectively, whoever was doing the animation for Hulk's face went with a poor design that made him look like a cartoon dog when they showed his expressions, and it just does not work.
It especially doesn't work with Edward Norton. Oh, god, he is so pretentious. No, I am not a Norton fan. As I said in my Iron Man review, casting is something that Marvel has proven to be very adept at, but this movie was a colossal fumble. I really have never been able to figure out what they were thinking with this whole deal because, to get Norton, they had to give him script control, and he re-wrote the initial script. What I will say here is that Incredible does not feel like a Marvel movie. At all. That was the thing that struck me most, the feel of the movie. Now, I don't know what the original script was like and whether it had the correct feel or not, but, in the end, that doesn't matter, because it was the Norton script that they used. And Norton who blocked the end-credits scene and made it into a pre-credits scene, also very un-Marvel-like.
The result of all of that is that Incredible feels like an ode to King Kong rather than a Marvel movie. There are two problems with that:
1. Peter Jackson had just made his horrible adaptation of Kong. Maybe Norton thought this would be better? I don't know. It was unnecessary, though, to do this so close on the heels of Jackson's.
2. Hulk is a Jekyll and Hyde story, not a King Kong story so, well, wrong movie Norton. Come on, man, you really could have dealt with the horror of turning into a monster you don't want to be -- and the opening of the movie looked in that direction with the whole "days since last incident" thing -- rather than the romantic Kong angle. The cave scene is so painful to watch.
Of course, all of this was being done vaguely in conjunction with Universal, so maybe they are the reason for all of the King Kong stuff? That, I do not know.
All of that, and I never buy Norton as being tortured by his predicament. Maybe frantic, but not tortured.
Speaking of Peter Jackson, though he has nothing to do with this, I like Liv Tyler. I do. She was great as Arwen. But she is not good as Betty Ross. She's too soft spoken. I think Jennifer Connelly was much better as Betty. Maybe I'll change my mind when I watch Lee's Hulk, but I don't think so. I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and say that Eric Bana was better as banner, too.
Of course, Ruffalo has turned out to be the correct choice, because Ruffalo has that tortured look that makes Hulk work.
And I'm not even going to start on the Abomination. Tim Roth was fine, but, again, whoever made the animation decision made the Abomination an abomination. His cameo in Shang-chi is so awesome, especially in comparison to this monstrosity. Pun clearly intended.
William Hurt is the best part of this movie. Or, maybe, the cameo by Lou Ferrigno. And the one by Martin Star. None of the things that should have been the best parts are the best parts. They are the worst.
Oh, and what's the deal with Stark going to Ross at the end of the movie? I don't think that is ever dealt with. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe Marvel was hoping we'd forget, which we probably did, considering I had forgotten all about that until I re-watched it.
Here's the final word:
The Incredible Hulk is the lowest grossing of the Marvel movies, and there is a reason for that. It's not a movie I will ever go back and watch again "just for fun."
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Shang-Chi, as the title says, is all about the legend of the Ten Rings. The movie sets out to differentiate these rings from the Ten Rings of the Mandarin in the comics. These are those rings, and they are not those rings. As I have mentioned here and there in these various reviews, Mandarin and the rings are a big deal in the Iron Man comic books.
So, yeah, the movie holds up. Completely. It may be better, now, even with the release of Shang-Chi. It gives the movie a bit more depth or reach or something. It was definitely worth revisiting.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
It's been a while since I've been in Dresden-land. A long while. It's possible I should go back and re-read the series at this point but, with 17 books now (this is number 16) in the series proper and a slew of related books with short stories and things, it's highly unlikely that I'll ever do that. Fortunately, Butcher is quite talented at reminding readers of details from earlier books when they are needed.
Unfortunately, it's not enough for this book to be a good place to come into Dresden if you wanted to just jump in. Some of his books are self-contained enough that anyone could pick one of those up and read it on its own. Not this one. Not any of the last few, in fact. We are solidly into the area of the series where you need to have read pretty much all of the previous books. The memory prompts for readers are not enough to get you through if you haven't been reading. And there's nothing wrong with that; that's the nature of a long series. What I'm saying is that this is not the place to come in as a new reader but, also, Butcher is very good at helping his long-time readers along, which most authors are not good at.
But how is Peace Talks, I hear you asking. Peace Talks is good. It's a solid entry into the Dresden series. It has some good moments and interesting developments. It was a fun read and a welcome change of pace for me compared to the other things I've been reading lately. If you're a Dresden fan, you will, of course, be wanting to read this as big things are afoot, and this is the book that's going to lead you into Battle Ground.
However, upon reflection after finishing it, the book has a few... issues. Well, one big issue. It has too much going on it. Too many big things going on it, and it's difficult to get invested in anything because you're constantly being distracted by the next ultra important development which is super big.
Let me sidestep a moment...
For at least several books now, Butcher has been developing this idea of a Black Council that's in existence operating from the shadows and have a particular hate-on for Harry. He's been building it up and up as the next Big Bad showdown, kind of like with the showdown against the Red Court which took several books of building. And while the Black Council is mentioned in this book, they are sort of shoved out of the way for an even bigger menace, one which kind of appears from nowhere. And, yeah, we could argue that point, but there was nothing prior to this book to indicate a villain of this level, so she's really from out of nowhere, and I don't really approve. It's like telling me that you make the best chocolate cake ever and telling me and telling me and, then, inviting me over and making me banana pudding. There's nothing wrong with the banana pudding; I like banana pudding; but it's not what you lead me to expect.
Also, there's this whole thing with Thomas, and you want to care about Thomas, right? We like Thomas. Thomas deserved the book to deal with this, especially since it involves revealing the information about Thomas to McCoy. Instead, after introducing the thing with Thomas and expecting the book to deal with that, it also gets shoved to the side to deal with the aforementioned uber-villain.
Sure, I get that life can be like that. Things come up and distract us from other things, and we have to decide which things to focus on. But that kind of thing makes a book messy, just like it makes life messy. I can't do anything necessarily about the messy in my life, but I would prefer a little less of it in my reading material. These threads could have, probably should have, been developed into separate books.
Then there is the issue of McCoy and his extreme uncharacteristic behavior at the end of Peace Talks. And you can try to no-prize your way out of what he did all you want, Butcher himself did by stating that McCoy was "out of control," but I'm not ever going to buy that Ebenezer did what he did for any other reason than the author poking his finger in McCoy's head and making him do something outside of his character. I understand that sometimes, as an author, you want or need certain things to happen for the plot to do what you want, but, as an author, I don't personally approve having your characters do things outside of the personalities that you've written for them.
Was all of that vague enough for you?
I am trying to do this without spoilers.
Having said all of that, I want to reiterate that Peace Talks is really good. I enjoyed it. It's not the best Dresden novel, but it's certainly not the worst (that would be Turn Coat, as far as I'm concerned). I've already ordered my copy of Battle Ground and am eagerly awaiting it. But what is a review for if not for pointing out the good and the bad?
Monday, September 13, 2021
As an adaptation, Shang-Chi is a poor one. Other than his skill in martial arts, there is nothing to connect the character from the movie to the character in the comics. And I don't care at all.
From me, that's significant, because I am always looking at how adaptations stray from the source material. So a few things here:
3. The Shang-Chi of the comics had no connection to the Ten Rings, which was supposed to refer to the Ten Rings of the Mandarin, but The Mandarin, as a character, has become problematic, despite his long history in Iron Man, and this movie became a way for Marvel to address some of those issues.
Simu Liu is great. This is my introduction to him as an actor, as I'm sure is the case for most viewers, and he was a good choice. I can't say how good he was as an actor since I have nothing to compare the performance to, but he was engaging. Awkwafina was fun and a savvy choice by Marvel. She has such a distinctive voice and she gave resonance to another recent Disney movie she was in, Raya and the Last Dragon.
My problem right now? I want to see it again, but I don't want to go back to the theater to do it.