Tarantula (1955)

No I’m not reviewing movies again shut up but it’s October and I can’t resist a good horror movie marathon, so this year I’ve decided to finally cover what is quite possibly my all time favourite inexplicably reoccurring movie trope: the giant spider. First up, the one that started it all, 1955’s Tarantula. Plot wise, it’s pretty much your classic atomic age monster B-movie. There are scientists out in the desert experimenting with a nutritional supplement in order to solve the inevitable problem of world wide hunger (he explains that by the year 2000, the global population will exceed 5 billion, at which point there can not possibly be enough food to sustain everyone on Earth, which is comical in the alarmist way it’s presented, but also not at all an inaccurate prediction). Anyway, the protein works, but has the unfortunate(fortunate?) side effect of turning all the test animals into giants. There’s eventually a fight in the lab between the eccentric Professor and his dying mutated assistant which causes a fire, seemingly killing all the animals. Except, you guessed it, the fucking spider got loose. It proceeds to wander the desert, while Handsome Country Doctor Man collects clues and slowly figures out the plot of the movie. Basically, if you’ve seen one of these movies, you know what they’re all like. Black and white, bunch of bickering cops and army guys, ect. It you ever saw Them!, with the giant ants, it’s not at all dissimilar. I always remember one with a praying mantis but I think that may have been an episode of The Magic School Bus. Anyway, what really makes this one stand out (other than the fact that I frickin’ love giant spiders) are the special effects. Basically, they actually have a real tarantula, as well as a few gineau pigs and a rabbit, and just use a combination of super miniature sets, some basic compositing shots, and a lot of clever editing to make it seem like the creatures are, as a certain alternate timeline cartoon supervillain would put it, yuge. It’s simple but if works beautifully. The director, Jack Arnold, was sort of a B-movie legend, having also directed It Came From Outer Space and the first two Creature From the Black Lagoon’s. He would later go on to use a lot of the same techniques in 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, in which there is also a confrontation with a scaled up spider, only this time it’s the man having shrunk, and the bug who’s supposed to be regular sized. And who played that spider? The tarantula from Tarantula. I guess she was the Dicaprio to his Scorcese.

Giant Spider Size: About 1 and half Ang Lee Hulks

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Why King of the Hill Has the Greatest Theme Song In Television History

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Now admittedly I don’t know a lot about music, and I really don’t want to start my first ever online thing talking about it with “well it’s really catchy”, but that’s the first thing that catches your attention about the King of the Hill theme song. It’s really fucking catchy. But it’s catchy in a good way, and not just because it’s a good enough song to not mind having it stuck in your head. I read something one time about how the reason you get a song stuck in your head is because your subconscious is still trying to resolve a melody it can’t quite remember. That’s why sometimes finally hearing the song again or singing it out loud helps get it out of your head. If that’s true, then the King of the Hill theme is perfect because it’s such a short and simple melody that it’s incredibly quick and easy to resolve in your head. I mean, besides that, it’s just a great fucking song. I mean I’ve binge watched the show a couple times, and you never get sick of it, even after 13 seasons. The twangy-ness and rythm of it are pure county western, but it’s done in a really quick tempo with electric guitars, and the whole thing has kind of a grungy vibe to it. It’s like a cynical 90’s punk/rock takeoff of classic southern American culture. Which is exactly what the show is. And then you get the visual accompanying the song, Hank and the boys standing in the alley sipping beer while the outside world bustles around them in fast motion. It’s a show about a simple man watching the world change around him. It’s about these old school southern values and ideals that have remained the same for generations suddenly being in contrast with the modern age. The whole show is about people standing still while the world bustles in fast motion around them. That one simple visual and the alternative rock tune that accompany it manage to tell you everything you need to know about the show in 30 seconds and without a single lyric.

Also, everybody should go back and watch King of the Hill, it’s fucking excellent.

Jason Bourne Review

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Ok first off let me just real quick run down my thoughts on the previous Bourne movies. The first one is a great little action movie from the early 2000s, and one that really redefined the genre for a while there. I would call it a classic film. Two and three, I’ll be honest, I’ve only seen once, and they totally blend together for me. I think everybody says that, right? When I think back I just see one long montage of him shuffling through crowds in Europe and talking to Joan Allen on the phone. But there is some sick action still, and I remember enjoying them at the time. While not on par with the original, I would call them both good modern action movies. Then the Jeremy Renner one I saw but have absolutely no memory of. Something with pills? Was Rachel Weisz there? I know they played that Moby song at the end (which they totally botch in this one, btw, with this shitty rock remix). Anyway so I went into this movie with pretty much no strong expectations either way. I like Matt Damon and I enjoyed most of the previous movies but I wasn’t one of those early 2000’s action film nerds who hasn’t shut up about how amazing the Bourne movies are for the last 10 years and was super excited for this new one. And to be honest I found this movie pretty goddamn mediocre.

First of all, everything is vague and lazy. Jason Bourne has spent the last few years doing vague stuff for vague reasons. He then returns to the world of espionage because of some lazily constructed plot involving privacy and the internet, which is intentionally kept super vague because if they got into it at all you’d realize how little they actually know or have to say about the issue. They were like “just say Edward Snowden a lot, it’ll be fine” Secondly, for a movie called Jason Bourne, you’d think there’d be some actual character development for Jason Bourne, but they were like no, fuck that. We get no sense of what he’s like as a person, how he’s been living, or what affect getting his memories back has had on him. For all intents and purposes he’s just been waiting around for more action sequences to happen since the end of Ultimatum. 

And then like, you’d think that if he’s been out of the game for so long, it would be some big crazy thing that pulls him back, but instead they have to like go out of their way to invent reasons to get him involved in this bullshit plot about the government spying on social media, because isn’t that just so creative and topical and edgy. But so they invent this whole bullshit backstory with Jason Bourne’s dad, just so that he can have more secrets about his past to try to find out now that he’s already found out all the secrets about his past. But then he gets all the info like halfway through, and so then they have to invent a reason for him to have to kill the bad guy. So like he finds out who killed his father, and it just so happens to be the same guy who’s been assigned by the CIA to hunt him, and who also has a grudge against him for something related to files that he leaked in one of the last movies, and from that point on Jason Bourne’s whole motivation is just to kill this one guy. And then like the whole time Alicia Vikander is all “no, we can bring him back in, he still cares about justice, and patriotism, and whatnot”, and you’re like does he though? All he cared about in the last movies was finding out about his own past while simultaneously taking down the people who stole his memories, and now in this one he’s just out for revenge on his father’s assassin. Seems like he’s kind of just out for himself every time. Maybe try to get Jeremy Renner back instead. Just sayin.

I don’t know, I wanna say, this movie is kind of dumb, but there’s some good action, but like, is there? I can’t even tell anymore. I think I’ve just become totally desensitized to action in movies. Like there’s all these cars crashing into each other, and intense fist fights, and it all should be really exciting, but I’ve seen it so many times it’s like my brain just doesn’t register it anymore. It’s all just white noise. Maybe that’s why the only big action movies that make any money any more are the superhero ones, it’s like you need giant green rage monsters and dudes dressed like bats to even get any one to look up nowadays. I-I don’t know, I’m just so bored of movies. They’ve already done everything cool, there’s nothing left. People wonder why there’s no good straight up action movies anymore, that’s why. It’s done. It’s over. You can’t just make a thing now, you have to make a thing that’s also some kind of ironic dissection of things in general, because everything genuine is now tired and stale. And now even ironic dissections are becoming tired and stale. It sort of makes you wonder what the point of even making movies is any more. And historically, isn’t the stagnation of culture and art usually a sign of a falling empire?? Could this average and forgettable fifth Bourne movie be a sign that this cushy facade of western society is about to crumble?? Are we truly in the last days of Rome here people??!! But I’m rambling. If you liked Supremacy and Ultimatum you’ll probably like this one, it hits all the Bourne movies staples. If you don’t really care about the franchise, though, I would skip it.

Overall Rating: Quick Someone Get Tommy Lee Jones in a Freezer Before He Melts Any Further/10

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

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I’ve noticed this thing about a lot of recent comedy movies. No, not just that they’re bad, I mean something else. See I think the last sort of wave of comedy movies that anyone really responded to were like those Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow movies from like ten years ago. You know, like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. And what made those movies so funny is all the improv between the actors. They didn’t really write jokes, it was just kind of them all reacting to stuff and riffing off each other, and somehow it worked. And I think a lot of movies since have been trying and spectacularly failing at doing the same thing. It seems like a lot of directors think they can just stick any four funny people in front of the camera without writing any jokes for them and expect it to be gold. The thing is, Seth Roger and Jason Segel and Martin Starr and Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill and Judd Apatow have all spent years hanging out and smoking weed and writing comedy together. They literally become famous off of just trying to make each other laugh. So when you get them all together in a movie, their natural rapport and comfort and developed timing with each other all translates to the audience, and it’s effortlessly funny. But there are so many points in not just this new Ghostbusters movie, but also every other Paul Feig movie I’ve seen, where the rhythm and the timing and the framing all suggest that what the character is saying should be a big funny punchline and it’s just nothing. It’ll be like some generic understated reaction line, and it just comes across like there was no joke written, and they couldn’t think of anything funny to improv. And it’s not that they’re not funny actors who are capable of improv, but unless you have the exact right group of actors and director, you just can’t hang a whole movie on improv alone. At some point you have to write some jokes.

Speaking of actors, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth completely stole the show. Like I said, most of the jokes are just the characters reacting to wacky scenarios, and Leslie Jones’s reactions are genuinely the funniest. As for Chris Hemsworth, I can’t tell if he’s actually a really great comedic actor or if it’s just his accent, but every line he had made me laugh. Kate McKinnon was also really good, in the sense that her character was this ridiculous, over-the-top cartoon character who belonged in a completely different movie, but was super fun to watch. The two real let downs are Melissa McCarthy, who I dislike generally (being exassebated and having a midwestern accent isn’t a comedic persona), but who was tolerable in this, and Kristen Wiig, who gave a suprsisingly bad performance. Normally she’s funny, but it’s like she has no fucking idea what she’s doing in this movie. Like I think what happened is they sort of tried to make her the main character, which meant she had to be really grounded and relatable, so instead of letting Kristen Wiig like come up with a funny character to do, like they did with Kate McKinnon, they just made her play like “the normal girl”. So all she has to fall back on to try to be funny is that whole awkward thing she does, which stretched out over two hours with nothing else and no written jokes quickly becomes pretty painful.

Oh yeah, two hours, this movie is too long by like 40 minutes. What happened to a nice, brisque 90 minutes comedy? They’re all super long now. Even the best comedic premise wears thin after the two hour mark. Learn to edit, Paul Fieg. (Feig? Fieg. I can’t rememeber how I spelled it last time. Spellcheck says they’re both wrong. I’m not googling it). Some of the actual ghost stuff was better than I thought it would be, too. The trailers make it look like they’re all just generic, but there are some interesting ones, once you get over the fact they’re all CG. There’s also way more of a focus on the development of the ghost fighting tech, which is kind of cool if you’re a nerd. One thing I really didn’t like was the “final boss” ghost, tho. I’m just gonna spoil it, who cares. The bad guy asks them to choose their destructor form, and they ask for a “friendly cartoon ghost”. So it literally turns into an animated version of the Ghostubsters logo, which then turns giant and realistic and starts fighting them. Which is stupid enough on it’s own, but like, there’s a moment in the trailer where you see Stay-Puft, right, and I was like “oh no, they’re doing stay-puft again”. But then in the actual movie it turns out it’s just a Stay-Puft balloon that gets possessed along with a whole Macy’s parade, so it’s more of a reference than anything else. But then like two seconds later this thing asks them to pick a destructor form and then proceeds to transform into a giant white chubby cartoon character with a bowtie. So what the fuck was even the point? Either do Stay-Puft or don’t. Anyway it would probably be a stretch to call this movie good but if you mentally divorce it from the original and just compare it to the average modern day bright loud crap, then it’s completely fine. 

Overall Rating: And really with the whole calling out your own youtube haters thing? You know you give them the power when you do that. So childish. Who are you, Kevin Smith?/10

X-Men: Acapycolypse Review

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They did it, you guys. They fucked it again. Ten years ago, fox had a pretty successful little X-Men trilogy going, and then they completely fucked their third movie. Like Spider-Man 3 fucked it. Then they resorted to spinoff prequel solo movies, but the first one they made was so bad that they completely abandoned that idea. At this point you would have thought the X-Men movies were pretty much dead, but then a guy named Matthew Vaughn stepped in and completely refreshed the franchise. His reboot/prequel was so good it warranted a time travel sequel that reunited both the old and young casts and even featured the return of original director Bryan Singer, who despite having made an awful Superman movie, an awful WWII movie, and an awful…Jack and The Beanstalk movie? had yet to make a bad X-Men movie. And Days of Future Past might actually be my favourite X-Men movie. It’s a great homage to the original movies while still feeling fresh and taking advantage of the younger cast, the time travel is simple and makes sense and is well executed, and it’s even got the perfect use of Wolverine, as a vessel to carry the story forward, but leaving the heavy lifting to Xavier and Magneto character and emotion-wise. But more importantly it uses time travel to wipe the slate clean of the previous movies, and it was set up to give us a fresh start with an unsullied continuity. And then they fucked it again.

There are a lot of problems with X-Men: Apocalypse, but I think I’m going to start with the thing that disappointed me the most; Magneto. I’m also gonna start spoiling shit. Who cares, it’s been out for like a month. Magneto starts this movie living a normal life, not using his powers, with a wife a kid, under an assumed name. Right off the bat that’s incredibly disappointing. I mean, at the end of the last movie when he flies off it seems like he’s got some big plans. Then you find out he just spent the last ten years working in a steel mill and nailing some broad. Then when his family dies (which is actually a pretty good scene) he just agrees to help some blue guy he’s never heard of destroy the world. First of all, that kind of senseless mass destruction has never been Magneto’s modus operandi. But even if you concede that the convenient death of his totally manufactured family was enough to cause him to lose total faith in everything and just start wrecking shop, the Magneto I know and love would at least do it on his own fucking terms. Instead he’s just some lame-ass second fiddle. And at the end, he just becomes a good guy again for no reason. Like he’s hanging out in the mansion with the X-Kids and Charlie’s all “see you later old friend” despite the fact that he just murdered millions of people. But like, see, they’re trying to find all this shit for Magneto to do. Like they don’t know what to do with him, so they’re like giving him all these subplots and secret families and having him switch sides on everybody. But like, why the fuck don’t they know what to do with Magneto?

Just make him the villain. It’s so obvious. That’s the whole point. That’s what you’ve been building towards for the last two movies. Magneto is one of the greatest comicbook villains of all time, he’s so complex and interesting, and we have yet to see Michael Fassbender actually play him as fully realized, villain Magneto. And don’t you want to see that? You see they have the one thing that’s so hard to get right in a superhero movie: a great bad guy. I mean anybody can throw together a fun team of superheroes (well, not DC, but almost anybody), but giving them someone to go up against who’s just as interesting is almost impossible. And here they have it, sitting on a golden fucking platter and they’re fucking wasting him. Stop with the backstory, stop with “proto-Magneto”, just make him fucking Magneto already. Just give him a helmet and have him go assemble a brotherhood of mutants. You have an amazing actor, an amazing character, and now two movies worth of set up to make us actually care and relate to him while still rooting against him. And think about how interesting that would be; I mean, in the first X-Men we just saw Magneto as the villain. Sure he had sympathetic elements, but he was the bad guy and the X-Men were the good guys and it had clearly been that way for years. But now that we’ve gone back and actually seen the schism between him and Xavier it gives us a whole new perspective when this new team of young X-Men are suddenly told to go fight him. Maybe it’s even a reason for them to question Professor X’s leadership, like he doesn’t tell them about his previous relationship with Magneto, and there’s a breaking of trust. I don’t know, there’s a lot you could do there.

Maybe that sounds a bit simplistic, but that’s my point. This movie should have been a lot simpler. We’re trying to re-introduce the X-Men here. Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, they should be the main characters. And if the only plot was them going up against Magneto, then they could have been. We could have just spent the whole movie getting to know these characters, like we never got a chance to in the first trilogy while everyone was so busy focusing on Wolverine. Instead, they share their screentime with an entirely new villain that has to be established, plus Magneto’s irrelevant side arc, plus Professor X, who for some reason they’re trying to force into the action hero protagonist role, plus a super forced Wolverine cameo and  a really out of place Quicksilver sequence. And yes, the stuff we do get of Scott, Jean and Kurt was great, probably the best thing in the movie, but it’s just so few and far between and so surrounded on all sides by poop. Let’s get back to Professor X for a second. They have the same problem with him they do with Magneto. They seem incredibly reluctant to actually just place him in the Professor X role. Yes, McAvoy’s Xavier is great, and I want to see more of him, but he should not be the main character in this movie. His arc is done. We saw his origin. The whole point of X-Men: First Class was to show Xavier and Magneto’s backstory. Great. Done. You could skip right from that to the first X-Men, all makes sense. Then DOFP, they re-tread a lot of that same ground, but it’s still well done, and at the end of the movie you feel confident that the next time you see Magneto and Professor X they will be more or less the characters we meet in the original movie. But then in this movie they’re still the goddamn beta versions. Professor X shouldn’t be out fighting villains, involved in all the chaos, because his entire arc in the last movie was to accept his place in the chair. In this movie all that he should have been doing is guiding the young X-Men. His arc is done, just relegate him to the Patrick Stewart role. And again, like with Magneto, Xavier can be a more interesting character now that we know how he got to where he is, but that doesn’t mean the movie should be all about him.

I guess the only thing really left to talk about is Apocalypse. Look, he’s fine. As a big comicbook fan, it’s lame that they stripped away most of his powers and backstory, but I never would have really expected them to attempt comicbook Apocalypse onscreen anyway. The look is also a little dumb, but Oscar Isaac’s performance I think makes up for a lot of that. He’s good, he’s got a real menacing presence. All in all, he’s about the same as your average Marvel villain, vague forgettable plan and all. I honestly just think he shouldn’t have been in this movie. I mean, I get it. You need a big follow up to Days of Future Past, and fans have been demanding Apocalypse for years. It might have seemed a little anticlimactic to announce that they were just doing another one where the X-Men fight Magneto. But man, that’s what we needed. Not only does his massive amount of screentime seriously detract from several hugely underdeveloped characters, but the fact that he’s even in this movie kinda of makes him seem like less of a big deal. I mean think about the stakes for these new young X-Men: literally their first ever mission they defeated Apocalypse. How is anybody else supposed to seem intimidating after that, unless Apocalypse is a little bitch? Wouldn’t it have been better to maybe wait a sequel or two and have him go up against a fully established team of X-Men who have actually been through some shit? I don’t know, fuck it, I’m done. Oh, also Psylocke, Storm and Angel all do literally fucking nothing, the costumes all look ridiculous, Quicksilver gets real annoying real quick (no pun intended) once they start developing him as a character (also, he’s still living with his mom? It’s been ten years since the last movie. how old is he supposed to be?), and it’s abundantly clear by this point that Jennifer Lawerence has completely stopped giving a shit. Oh, and Havok dies in the stupidest way possible, so I guess that sucks if you care about Havok.

You know what the worst part is? I’ve spent years defending these X-Men movies. Every time someone goes “oh, those movies sucks, fox should just give the rights back to Marvel so they can make it” or “what’s with those black leather suits, why don’t they wear the comicbook costumes?” I’m always the first guy to go on about how Bryan Singer has a unique creative vision for the universe, and how they helped define comicbook cinema in the early 2000’s, and how First Class and Days of Future Past revitilized the franchise, and how excited I was to see where it would go. And now I just feel like an asshole. Everyone was right. Fox, you have no idea what you’re doing with the X-Men franchise. You should just give it back to Marvel.

Overall Rating: Caliban was the best part/10

Daredevil Season 2 Review

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Ok so I know it’s been a while, I’ve kind of fallen off writing these. I sort of was thinking for a while about trying to put some effort into doing something more professional with these, but then I never got around to it, so I kind of just thought fuck the whole thing. I think the conclusion that I’ve reached is that I’m just going to write one every once in a while, when I actually have a lot to say about something. And let me tell you I definitely have a lot of shit to say about this new season of Disney’s Marvel’s Netflix’s Daredevil. If you read my review of Season 1 you already know that I absolutely fucking loved it. I think it’s an absolutely outstanding piece of television and a perfect adaptation of one of the coolest comicbook characters of all time. Upon rewatching it a couple of times, I would say that it’s not perfect. The plot sort of starts to drag a little around the last few episodes. Not that there’s anything specific I would cut out, it just seems like in general things could have wrapped up a little quicker. I think it could have been tighter as maybe 10 episodes instead of 13. I actually think that’s true for all of these Marvel Netflix seasons, I kind of felt that way about Jessica Jones as well. I also think the Kingpin, though incredibly interesting, is maybe not the coolest version of that character we’ve seen. All in all though, great stuff, I didn’t have a bad thing to say about it at the time. And now that Season 2 is out, I’ve heard a lot of people giving it that same praise as Season 1. But for me there were just a few more things about it that kind of bugged me, and now I’m gonna rant them at the internet. SPOILERS AHEAD.

 

Ok right off the bat let me say there’s a lot to like in this season still. It’s still well made, well shot, well acted, there’s amazing fight choreography, all the characters are done unbelievable justice, and it’s so, so cool to see a violent r-rated adaptation of these properties. I almost feel like a huge asshole for complaining at all, the fact that this even exists blows my mind. I mean, I grew up on the Ben Affleck version (Who remembers Colin Ferrel as Bullseye? Anyone? Anyone?). But it’s no Daredevil Season 1. And I’ve just talked to too many people who don’t seem to notice any difference.

First off, I didn’t find the action quite as captivating, and at first I wasn’t sure why. It’s all the same close range, gritty, painful looking combat that I loved in the first season. And the violence was better than ever. But I think maybe that’s why I cared less. They went a little overboard with it I think. One of the reasons the violence in the first season was so shocking was because it was used pretty sparingly. For the most part it would be just a regular comicbook thing with guys punching, but then every now and then someone would get fishhooked in the guts with a big sharp ninja weapon and it would really make you wince. This season it feels like they’re trying a little too hard to get that same reaction. Like in the last or second last episode, when the Hand has Stick tied down, and they’re doing the whole bamboo fingernail torture in graphic detail, and I’m just like, ya know, I don’t know if we need to see that in a Daredevil show. Don’t get me wrong, I love graphic over the top violence in almost every other context, but I just felt like the level that was set in season 1 was perfect. It didn’t need to be any more violent than it was. Season 1 it felt like the violence was necessary to tell the story, and here there are a few moments where it feels like the story was more necessary to tell the violence. And the fight scenes got more over the top too. Back in season 1, there were so many more memorable moments. Like remember when he fights that assassin in the alley, and the dude impales his own face on the sharp fence thing so that the Kingpin won’t find him? Or when Matt’s in the police station and he hears the crooked cops shoot his witness but he can’t do anything about it? Or what about that awesome fight with the ninja dude Nobu, where he ends up getting lit on fire at the end? Or the hallway fight in episode 2 that’s all one long shot? I can’t think of any moments like that from this new season. Almost every fight scene is just a bunch of ninjas show up and they all punch until Daredevil’s the last one standing. And it starts to happen so often towards the end that all the scenes just sort of blend together. And so even though the actual fights and choreography are as good if not better than last season, none of it ends up nearly as memorable.

Secondly, the whole season feels much less focused than the first one. The first season, it’s all about Kingpin, and everything that happens revolves around that one central plot. In this season there’s more going on, and I don’t feel they handle the juggling of multiple plot lines that well. I mean, ok, the first few episodes are all about Daredevil vs. Punisher. And truth be told, that’s the best stuff in the whole season. That scene where Punisher chains DD up on the roof with the gun was so perfect, and ripped straight off the comicbook page. It’s so great to see these two character actually just sit down and spend 20 minutes discussing their opposing moral viewpoints re: killing vs. not killing. Hey, DC, you know why you’re not making Marvel money? Because this is how they handled the question of “should Batman kill people?” whereas you guys were just like “fuck it, Batman kills people.” No one will respect your characters if you don’t. You can make a good Superman movie, just stop shying away from the character. Marvel committed to Iron Man and Captain America and look how that turned out. But I digress. After Daredevil puts Punisher away, that’s it. The story completely shifts. Suddenly Stick and Elektra show up and the whole focus completely changes. There’s no hint of them at all during the Punisher stuff. You can literally draw a line down the middle of the season, Daredevil/Punisher half and Elektra/Hand/Ninja half. And yeah, Punisher’s still in it, but he doesn’t have another confrontation with Daredevil, and his story arc never intersects with the main ninja plot in any significant way. He’s mainly just there to give Foggy and Karen something to do.

Ugh, yeah can we talk about Foggy and Karen for a sec? Ok cause I actually really liked both of them in season 1. Foggy was the perfect goofy best friend character and Karen Page was likeable as hell and the perfect vessel for all the Kingpin investigation stuff with Ben Urich. But now that Foggy knows Matt is Daredevil all he does is bitch and moan, and he becomes really annoying. And then there’s the whole Punisher trial, and it’s like a real chance to see sort of how it effects Foggy, what it’s like for him to defend this murderer, and actually develop the character a little if you’re gonna give him so much goddamn screentime, but instead his entire arc, for 13 episodes is just “I’m pissed at Matt Murdock because he’s too busy being superhero to be my friend, whaaaaa”. And then Karen Page is doing the exact same thing as last season, except this time teaming up with the boss dude at the newspaper because they killed Ben Urich. And then she just gets a reporter job even though she has no writing experience whatsoever. It just seems like they’re trying to give them shit to do, and it got to the point where every time they cut back to either of them I would tune out and look at my phone.

But all that aside there’s still one thing we haven’t talked really talked about yet; the Punisher. Now look, there are some truly great Punisher moments in this show. Like I said, the episode with him and Daredevil on the rooftop is amazing. And there’s a part where they fight side by side, classic Marvel Team-Up style, and the Punisher’s about to kill a guy, and then Daredevil stops him and is like “we do this my way”. SOO COOL!! Having said that, I was a little disappointed. Personally, when it comes to the Punisher, I’m of the school of thought that you can’t ever really make him a relatable protagonist. The Punisher is, at his core, just a force of nature. He is made to kill and that’s all he does. He just sweeps through a place and cleans it the fuck out. And you know, it’s maybe sort of interesting to get in his head a little bit, see what kind of fucked up shit he thinks about while he murders or whatever, maybe get a sense of his motivations. But you can’t really have him develop at all. You can’t have him grow or change like other traditional protagonists. He just kills. That’s all he does. And if you want to see a really bad attempt at making the Punisher a normal relatable protagonist, watch the Thomas Jane movie from the 2000s. Actually, watch it just for Travolta as the bad guy, he’s hilarious. Anyway, so that’s really what I was looking for from this Punisher; I wanted Daredevil to be doing his thing, fighting ninjas, protecting the kitchen, whatever, and then suddenly Punisher rolls in and it just becomes a bloodbath of mob guys, and it’s like this unpredictable third party who just shows up and fucks everything up, and we see how all the characters, good and bad, now have to deal with him. That would have been really awesome. Instead he’s handled more like a straight up Daredevil villain, and other than when he murders that one meeting of mob guys in like the first episode, we never really get a sense of him being on this huge killing spree. It’s a much more sort of reserved Punisher, it feels very much like his “Year One”.

And you know, that maybe could have been interesting, but then they couldn’t even do that without making it super convoluted and confusing. Like all the stuff with his origin. The Punisher’s origin should not be a super complex one; guy gets back from Nam (or Iraq in this case), his family gets caught in mafia crossfire and are murdered, he swears revenge on all criminals. End of story. Now it’s like there were these undercover cops and this crooked army general and the whole thing may or may not have been a set up specifically to kill Frank Castle and his family? Like we don’t even know, that’s the thing. They spend half the season spinning their wheels in this bullshit only to never give us any clear answers and just go “uh, cliffhanger ending, wait till next season or whenever, don’t worry, it will all make sense at some point.” And the biggest insult of all; at the very end of the season, the Punisher’s just loaded up on a whole shit ton of guns, he’s spray painted a skull on his shirt, and he’s got a goddamn MINIGUN. He is finally the full comicbook Punisher, armed to the fucking teeth, and you know whoever he’s going after is in for a world of hurt. And then he doesn’t do anything. We never see him again. There’s even a scene where Daredevil and Elektra are fighting an impossible number of ninjas, on a rooftop, and it would be the perfect moment for Punisher to show up in the final hour and blow them all away. And he just fucking doesn’t. Elektra dies and Daredevil’s sad about it and that’s the end of the season. I mean they even showed the Punisher with that minigun on the posters. Did anyone happen to pass through Yonge and Dundas like a week or two before this came out? They had a giant 20 foot billboard of The Punisher with his minigun, and then he fails to use it a single time in 13 hours of show. That is some grade A bullshit. If you show me a minigun, someone better blow apart a bunch of ninjas with that minigun. It’s like a rule of screenwriting man, Chekov’s minigun. But I guess we’re “setting it up for later”.

And that’s the whole problem I have with this season, it just feels like its dragging its heels. I mean they do the exact same thing with the Hand and Elektra and all this vague resurrection stuff. They set up all this stuff and then never actually explain any of it. And that would be fine if it was only a small part of the story, but the entire goddamn plot of the show, at least in the last half of the season centres entirely on the Hand coming after Elektra because she’s some sort of vague mystical doomsday mcguffin. And we never find out what or how or by who or fucking anything. I guess we’ll have to wait for Daredevil Season 3, or Iron Fist, which ties in with Madam Goa and the mystical city of K’un L’un which they hinted at last season, or until the Defenders, when Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones all come together like the Avengers, or maybe before any of that we need to wait for Doctor Strange to come out and burst the bubble for using magic in the Marvel universe. Woah, when did this cinematic universe become almost as confusing as the comicbook one? Anyway, it’s like in Terminator: Genisys, when they’re like “hey, who sent old Arnold back in time?” and he’s like “Idk, it’s classified” and then they just hope you forget about it by the end of the movie. Or like in the new Star Wars, how we keep being told that who Rey’s parents are is super important but we never actually find out who they are. It’s one thing to withhold certain bits of information for future instalments in your franchise, but when so much of the basic setup isn’t given to us it kind of just starts to feel lazy, like they haven’t written it yet. You ask me, I bet they don’t even know who Rey’s fucking parents are yet, they’re just gonna wait and see which internet fan theory works best. I think that’s becoming a problem with a lot of this shared universe movies, where they have trouble sewing enough seeds for future movies while still having each movie be satisfying in it’s own right. And for me that’s exactly where Daredevil season 2 stumbles. It’s the Iron Man 2 of these Marvel Netflix shows, just feels like a big trailer for the Defenders. Which makes sense because Daredevil Season 1 was like the Iron Man of them. Woah, and then Jessica Jones is just like The Incredible Hulk, because I really loved it but nobody else has seen it or knows that it’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Overall Rating: I really want to see this Daredevil team up with the new Spider-Man but one is part owned by Sony and the other is part owned by Netflix so it probably won’t happen anytime soon/10

An Incoherent Rant Involving America, The Missteps of Organized Religion, and Superman

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Superman is one of the purest symbols of American culture. There’s no disputing it. There’s no other character who so perfectly and iconicly fits the hero archetype. And he’s a character who has echoed down throughout the entire last seventy years of pop culture. He’s every other hero who came after him. He’s every 80s action movie tough guy. He’s Luke Skywalker, he’s Indiana Jones, he’s Peter Parker, he’s Kevin Bacon. Debuting in Action Comics #1 in 1938, he was created at an interesting time in America’s history, just coming out of the great depression and now on the verge of a second World War. America was a country that needed something to hope for. And out of that need for hope was born the Superman. So yes, the S on his chest really is a symbol for hope, but maybe you try to be a little more subtle about it that that, Zac Snyder, you idiot. But I digress.

You see, I sort of have this theory that superheroes are the new gods. Just look at the Justice League; Supes is an obvious parallel for Jesus, and then the rest of the members all line up perfectly with the Greek Pantheon. Wonder Woman is Athena, Batman is Hades, Aquaman is Poseidon, Green Lantern is Apollo, Flash is Hermes, and Cyborg is Robocop. But aside from that I think they fill the same role in our society. I mean yeah, we obviously still have actual religion, but those have all pretty much become archaic bureaucracies over the last couple thousand years. Personally, growing up, I never had any religious presence in my life at all. My hippy stoner jazz musician father always instilled in me a jaded mistrust of any major organized religion, and my mother never had the heart to try to fight him on passing on any of her Christian beliefs. And I would hazard a guess I’m not the only person in my generation, or the several before it, who grew up with that rough perspective. But without religion, I think we still need something to fill that space. Something to hope for, something to ascend to; a set of morals and a good reason to follow them. Personally, I always filled that hole with comicbook characters.

Instead of the lesson being “follow these ten commandments or you’ll go to hell”, I learned to try to act selflessly because the one time Peter Parker chose the selfish path it came back to hurt the ones he loved. And in times of moral crisis I legitimately do try to ask myself “What would Spider-Man do?” And ok, I know what you’re thinking, that sounds stupid, and I’m probably the only one who does that, and shut up, nerd. But you know what, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that these characters who were created during World War II specifically for the purpose instilling hope in the American people have skyrocketed in popularity in the last fifteen years. The superhero boom kind of died out for a while after the war. America was celebrating in their glorious victory, having earned them control of the entire world, essentially. That’s what the next fifty year of pop culture were all about. Every movie and comicbook that you loved growing up, it was all born off this post-war high.

And then 9/11 happened. America was reminded that they weren’t untouchable. And suddenly movies changed. Everything became dark, and gritty, and serious. Suddenly you couldn’t just have a big tough guy run in and snap a bunch of Russian necks, now you had to deal with the consequences of that violence. Hell, even Superman himself has to be dark and brooding in this new millennium. Then on top of that you stack the collapse of the economy, the corruption on wall street, the rich poor divide, black people being beaten and killed by police, young people losing more and more faith in their government and their country day by day. And what suddenly became the most popular movies? Ones about superheroes. Because we’re at a time when we need to hope again, and these characters, our own pantheon of gods, will help us do so just like they did in WWII, and just like every other religion has done for every other society. Every culture since the beginning of time has had their own myths and legends, maybe the only difference is that we’re now evolved enough to recognize them as the fiction that they are and not take them so seriously. Maybe we don’t need to believe every word of an old story and fight to the death with those who don’t in order to still get something out of the story, to still be able to recognize the consequences and morals taught by it and instill them into your own life.

So wait, what’s my point? Superman is hope? And also Jesus? And comics are better than church? Well, yes, to all of those, but also other stuff. Let’s talk about Lex Luthor for a second. He’s the antithesis to Superman in every single way. A human being, one who clawed his way to the top through sheer cunning, instead of being gifted with amazing power. But really what Lex Luthor is above all else is someone who saw through the bullshit. Because you see, the truth is that Superman is fiction. This character, this hero archetype, this ideal that we had been instilling in the minds of our children since the 40s, it doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as heroes, and the only people who actually get ahead in life are the ones who are just smart enough and just willing enough to do what has to be done to bend the system and get to the top. And that’s what Luthor did. And the scary thing is, lots of real people did it too. While everyone was busy talking about how great America was, there were greedy, corrupt, power hungry people making backdoor deals and bribing their way to the top. And by the time everyone realized what had happened, that we weren’t being lead by the people who had earned it by being virtuous, but by the greedy who had figured out how to exploit the system, it was too late. That’s Lex Luthor. He’s a corrupt politician. He’s a sleazy wall street banker. He’s a fucking Martin Scorcese character, and he’s the kind of person who rules America in real life.

And then all of a sudden, this god descends from the heavens. Superman. Not only everything that Lex isn’t, but everything he believed never existed. This hero, this false symbol of hope that everyone had been chasing, is now real. One man who encapsulated every virtue, perfect in every way. And that’s why Luthor hates Superman, because his existence makes Luthor wrong. If Superman exists, than this American ideal isn’t bullshit. It means it is possibly to lead and do good for the world without dirtying one’s hands, without doing the things Luthor’s had to do to get to the top. Without Superman, Luthor is a clever guy who saw through bullshit. With Superman, he’s a greedy villain who’s comeuppance is coming. And that’s why it pisses me off when people say that Superman is lame, or that it’s impossible to make a good movie with him. And if you try to make a personal story about Clark Kent dealing with being an alien or whatever, that’s probably true. But what’s interesting is not how he reacts to being on Earth, it’s how Earth reacts to him. And nowhere is that point better illustrated that in his dichotomy with Luthor; it’s the pure ideal that America spent fifty years striving towards, coming face to face with the dark reality of what America actually had to become to be on top. And maybe in thousands of years, when aliens discover our ancient ruins, these two characters with be enough to tell everything they need to know about the rise, corruption and fall of America. Also, now that I’ve said it I really want to see Martin Scorcese direct an entire movie about Lex Luthor’s rise to power.