Monday, December 24, 2012

Modern American Mythology is Poop

He looks like a
Hyborean-era Pict!
Ronon Dex took a stab at being Cimerrian and it ended about as well as you'd expect it to end in this, the era of molesting franchises with the yard stick of vapid writing. Wasn't quite Transformers level bad but it's not exactly adequate either. (I am now convinced that the reason Transformers made so much money was because those who watched it recognized the sin they were committing and felt compelled to see it again as penance.)

Robert E. Howard was doing something akin to "selling out" or lowering his standards when he created the Conan novels; finding the discipline of historic fiction to be too much work, he decided to make a history-inspired high fantasy setting instead -- one that would require far less research.

Because the pulp fiction era was in full swing, Howard chose to give people the easy reading materials they wanted; a patch-work quilt of sex and murder to help them escape the ennui of 20th century life. The success of the franchise was an indication of how ardently people wanted to escape their ever-mechanized, soul-sucking world.

Such criticism lays bare in the dialogue of this 2011 re-re-reboot of the story; even exploring the possibility that the barbarian world is indeed morally superior to the established, sedintary life. A cute little piece of commentary that might be considered deep if you generously account for its dude-bro origins. (I just now realized how much I hate the term "reboot" as it's used in film and therefore vow to do this to anybody who uses the term in that way from now on).
I am the master
wizard!  I look down on
your shallow suburban

Somebody took a story written in the 1930's and retold it in a comic book in the 1970's and told it again as a movie in the 1980's before it gets ruined by the cookie cutter film industry of 2010's. If this was all a plot on the part of the Schwarzenegger cult to convince us that his new remake is going to be more authentic, I suppose we can call that more successful than the conspiracy to convince Americans that a Moon Landing ever took place.

As expected, Conan lost most of his cunning and replaced it with a boyish mischiev. It lost most of it's atmosphere and replaced it with just name-dropping; "See! See how much research we did? We copied/pasted some words from the Hyborean wiki!" Most disappointing and least surprising of all, this movie completely deemphasized the most important character and character dynamic in the story.
Now there's a good,
traditional, paleolithic
nuclear family.

Conan stories were always a product of their times. In the original novels, you had the common 1920's tropes of remembering past lives via hypnosis, the idealized primeval man, and cults engaging in human sacrifice. The comics introduced a precedent for the loincloth and more over-the-top action scenes than the comparatively mundane Flynning that took place in the books. Arnie gave us punching horses in the face. Momoa couldn't be expected to hurt his pwitty wittow surfer hands by smacking the horse directly.

This Conan is as contemporary with his writers as the Conans past were with theirs. It was so modern that I kept forgetting whether I was watching 10,000 BC or a slightly funnier Your Highness. It expresses how deeply weaboo our culture has become with deep-crouching weaboo poses mid sword fight, how trivially we understand social issues like slavery and conquest, and most annoyingly of all how proud we are of our mysticism while ashamed near to death of our theism.

Crom is the single-most important character in the entire Conan universe and they reduced him to less-than-lip-service status in that movie; a stark contrast with the original Howard stories that boasted a much lower fantasy but never shied away from theism any more than it did nudity -- both natural traits of humanity, really.

The relationship Conan had to Crom was a compelling and meaningful one that makes any of the Conan material worth reading. Film writers are too gun-shy when it comes to divinity to ever approach the matter with much more than a trite portrayal of Olympians like they were royal conspirators in a Shakespearean tragedy.

Dead-false god!
Conan never needed to reduce gods to mortality the way Teal'c did in order to keep the SG-1 plot moving. There was always the implication that Conan's relationship to his deity was a precarious one and this strain was gracefully told in the form of Conan's life.

As you read the Conan novels and comic books, you start to share Conan's tenousness regarding the topic. He accepts as a matter of fact that Crom is divinely powerful but is not certain as to how powerful that actually makes him. He prays to him regularly but doesn't keep a fearful reverence. The protagonist seems to accept that he himself is mortal but gets that he's no ordinary mortal. He is haunted by the uncertainty as to how much of his power can be attributed to his deity and how much can be attributed to himself.

It's the sort of question that quietly drives Conan crazy. "How powerful am I, really? I seem to get through all kinds of situations that kill normal people. Will Crom abandon me some day and leave me to die like the many people I've met? Has he already abandoned me and I'm just lucky?"

The only way for Conan to know his limits is to ultimately find them; leading him to be ambitious and cocky because the worst thing that could possibly happen is that he dies knowing how far his power actually extends.

The coolest theist in
all of literature is still
this guy.
It's the theme that constantly alludes to an ultimate showdown between Conan and Crom himself; because he's gonna have to know sooner or later and the truth might actually be worth blasphemously dying for. This doesn't make him any less devout in his worship of Crom. Indeed, it seems to be a more complete expression of his faith -- I mean, how will you ever get to challenge somebody to a friendly bout of (im)mortal combat if you aren't on speaking terms with him?

I didn't really expect to find these things in the newest Conan movie and I honestly don't expect Arnie's re-re-re-remake to do any better (even tho' he did have that awesome prayer in the first movie). But if any Conan movie is going to do it right in Ishy's book, this'll pretty much have to be considered.

Though it's fun to mock this movie, I'm not entirely sure that it deserves the scorn it's been getting (from others or myself). Its vices are not unique to itself but are more a reflection of just how amazingly uninteresting modern American movie writing has gotten. It's a product of its literarily depressing times. It's no longer an escape from the soul-sucking modern world but a victim of it.

Welcome to the 21st century, Conan.
They say "berserker rage" is
code for something.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Well, we gave it a shot.  It was a fan made video made for himself-Ridley Scott; except it was the worst fan made movie.  It was just horrible, none of it made any sense.  For example: why would anyone care if some scientists found cave drawings that might mean life on another planet, who would spend that kind of money? How do you get a xenomorph from a worm, or black goo?  And how does it change a man to a monster from just being inside him?  And how does a squid grow in a human?  If  a baby has any dna difference it will reject it.  How does a xenomorph come from a squid?  What killed those 'architects' really?  
Ugh, it was all so badly written!  Not a good tribute at all!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Ugh.  This movie, ugh.  It was too gory (sorry, gore doesn't make a movie, I hate gore, it serves no purpose other than to gross you out.)  The characters were blah, the story was blah, I was waiting for it to be over after only 15 minutes into it.  If you want the same basic story but in a better written, better produced, better characters, okay, just better;  go watch 'I am Legend'  so much better and basically the same premise: world is succumbed to a disease that turns them into vampire's, someone tries to find a cure, etc. etc.  

Can't believe I wasted my time on this one. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Troll Hunter


Go watch this movie now!!

It is awesome!!

With all the fast action, CG, no plot, or deep characters movies that are thrown into our faces;  this movie is a breath of fresh air.  You might find it slow in some parts, but it sucks you in from the beginning and doesn't let you go.  I was into it the whole time.  It is about these college students trying to film something for school.  They start out with following hunters around and then trying to find a poacher, but it turns out much better. 

They find out the man they are following actually hunts Trolls, they decide to follow him with their camera and the adventure get's intense.  Some people die and the ending is unclear.  They found this lost tape, watched it, and spread the news about Trolls everywhere.  Really not sure, but in the end the Troll Hunter just walks off, probably hoping that the camera crew will spread his story and pick up where he left off.  But, I think they all died, so anyway, I have no idea.  

Its on Netflix now so I suggest you watch it :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

My rant on VD

Okay, I've been avoiding this, but I'm just fed up now. I was really skeptical about this show but now I'm addicted.  So, yes there is a love triangle, but for some reason its just really compelling to me.  I just finished watching Season 4 Episode 6.  And, what the heck is going on with Stefan!  He's an idiot!  First, he let's his 'love' die from drowning!  How can a vampire not save two people from drowning in a car, honestly, is he just a wimp?  Maybe he wanted Elena to die.  But, its his fault that Elena died, maybe not that she is a vampire now, but now he wants a cure and will do anything to get-kill innocent people, team up with Klaus again; not that Klaus isn't awesome, but c'mon.  He almost lost Elena the first time he teamed up with him.  All because..what, he can't stand to have the vampire version of Elena?  He wants his human back?  I really don't get it, all the while Damon loves Elena through anything!  He loves her no matter what she is or what crap she puts him through.
Damon is so much more mature and smart about things.  He doesn't go save Elena in this episode from Klaus, which Klaus said it was to keep her safe, why is there any question he wouldn't?  He wants her to be human to make more hybrids, I think his life is lame, Klaus is supposed to be awesome, can't he think of something else to do with his time?  And Stefan goes and wastes time and loses Elena anyway.  I've never liked Stefan but now he's just getting more stupid?  Just lamesauce.  That's all there is to it.  Some days the writers are good, other days not, do they change writers every time?

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Dork Night

The old cliche says that we fear what we do not understand. Perhaps now we've reached a kind of hubris because now that we know that there are no prehistoric creatures that breathe combustible gasses, that the "canals" on Mars do not service a civilization capable of obliterating us all, and that Republicans, however cavalier and lawless, do not accidentally push "the Button" and start nuk-yew-lur apocalypses, the only unknown we have left to fear is things we know to be impossible.

Like perpetual energy!

I usually assume that meddling legislators are the reason why rational people would repeatedly and deliberately do something that's patently silly. While I don't rule some sort of literary regulation out of the picture, something causes me to doubt that politicians are adding riders to bills that would require all movies to have some variation on the perpetual energy plot device.

I'm wondering when we're going to get sick of movies' propensity to use crayons to write "fictitious new super-battery" on post-it notes and then habitually slap those post-its on every central plot device they stumble upon.

It was especially out of place in The Dark Knight Rises where the stupid glowey-bit of literary significance did not need to be a source of "free, clean energy for the entire city." It could as easily have been a regular old-fashioned, ticking time bomb and all the suspense would have been there.

But you see, regular bombs, even nukes, are considered to be pretty well understood – not by us generally but by somebody that we trust. No, there is no unknown here. There is no frontier. There be no dragons behind the hills that we've been up and down a jillion times over.

But if you string-replace "atomic" with "fusion" suddenly it's novel and scary. Now you're dealing with some massively unfamiliar ground that could actually be the end of times — for all we know.

And, to be honest, it's not really far from the truth; Anybody who does try to sell you the uber-panacea for all the things is precisely the kind of person you should fear. Those are the snake oil salesmen, the ones who will feed cocaine to your infants so they can be perma-healed of all forms of HP loss. By the time the seizures kick in, they'll be long gone with your money.

The movie went pretty much as expected; Batman continued to tout his faux morality system like he was making out with a cardboard standee and pretending it was the actual Katy Perry. Anne Hathaway did a reasonable job of making her cardboard standee pretend to be the actual Catwoman who apparently enjoyed being made out with.

I can't wait for the reboot that makes Batman into the annoying frat-boy who goes a-vigilanteing to accrue ladies.

Like this one.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why not?-On free Media

My thoughts toward media dispersion:
 If itunes, amazon and other such are so fantastic why do they charge as much for movies and music as much as if I just walked into Best Buy.  If you do not need to go through the process of putting it on a dvd or such why does it still cost the same?
Because the studios still want their money.  The actual people doing the “art” don’t get enough of the money for their efforts.
Why can’t it all just be free, like pirating them online,  if I watch or listen to something I enjoy I’ll go out and buy, or even buy merchandise and advertise it myself.  But why would I want to spend money on something that may or may not be good.  The reason there are so many bad movies, music. etc. is because there is not enough weight in actually making it good, because people have to pay for it before they get to actually decide if they like it they’ll make anything these days.
Now, either people just have bad taste or maybe I’m right.  The way I see it is, we don’t pay money to try on clothes before we decide if they fit or if we even like the way they look, so why should we on anything else?  Libraries exist, I don’t purchase the books before I read them, but if I want to add it to my collection I will go out and buy it.  Why don’t we do the same thing for movies and music?
Because the Government owns the Studios, they aren’t private studios.  They will get money regardless if its any good or not because they charge to go to the movie theater or when you buy a cd, etc.  If all information was free, which it should be; then people who deserve all or most of the credit for their efforts will be justly rewarded, while those that suck will just suck and disappear.
For instance,  I love Joss Whedon’s work, but his really good stuff gets the shaft, like Firefly didn’t even have one season because the Tv network decided it wasn’t popular enough, but it was popular enough to encourage a full length movie and have a ton of fans.  But in order for Joss to know I appreciate him, what do I do?  Besides buy his movies, shows, etc.  Is there any other way to let him know that its his work I love?  Not really, money is what speaks.  That is why I love how youtube has rewarded people on its own merit.  Those who can make it big on the internet don’t have any use for the Studios anymore.  They can publish their own music, movies, videos on their own and get their own funding and be rewarded richly and fully.
Also, TV has no use anymore.  Most TV channels put their shows on the internet, or there is Hulu, Netflix-you’d just have to wait for the season to come out on dvd.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts for free media for now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Post-Pokemon Generation

The Post-Pokemon Generation

Errol Flynn action scenes are like pot. Relaxing, easy-going, kind of silly. When George Lucas introduced us to the space fantasy of cocaine, there was no turning back. The hypodermic needles we whored ourselves out for since then have been numerous and tetanusy.

Finally, the cinema industry has heaved like the great queen slug in the slurm factory the most concentrated dose she can muster. The secretions are so potent that we, like Phillip J. Fry, cannot tear our selves from its sugary-pulpy goodness.

Tim Burton is a genius. He had the great wisdom to mix the two most commercialized sugar-high excuses into one glorious movie and put a rather compelling twist on both. He gave our grocery store's "seasonal" aisle names and faces too demented to forget.

In the reflective piece of The Nightmare Before Christmas, we are introduced to Jack, the pumpkin king, who is bored to depression by the fact that his lifestyle of freely indulging his mischievous impulses has become so routine.

Like a drug addict who, after a long life of indulgence, starts to feel numb all over. They require bigger and bigger doses until they hit the limit.

Movie action has pushed the envelope to the point where it catches fire and gets pregnant with mutant alien fire babies.

Yeah, I saw The Avengers. It was the most masterful methamphetamine overdose to date.

That movie was a rush. I think if it had been released thirty years ago, the viewers would've been foaming at the mouth, caught in a coma because human brains had yet not been trained to consume that much data all at once.

The whole of humanity seems to have been preparing, stretching our eye sockets so they could be safely gang-raped by that many over-the-top, renditions of cataclysmic collateral damage.

Just like a good overdose, the 2.5 hours of flashing lights, perpetual noise, masterfully-rendered quipiiness... the end result is me feeling hollow inside.

What am I supposed to think about this movie?

This thought had been haunting me since 2003 when Ang Lee's unfortunate work gave us little more than Jennifer Connelly wearing too much clothing. It festered all through Toby Maguire's rendition of the pre-Amazing Spiderman, and it has finally reached its fruition today with Avengers.

Action scenes in the modern comic book movie are much like the way boys make believe; everything is larger than larger-than-life while having a simultaneous triviality to them. What's more amazing than catching a flying F-22 Raptor in your teeth? Not even caring about it afterwards, that's what. And where do you go from there? Do it again! That can't possibly get old!

Like boys on the playground, this movie abuses orders of magnitude only seconds before the abuse of infinity — which actually really isn't infinite at all because they have no clue what that means… and if they did know what it meant, then the game would be over and you wouldn't get to keep fighting the bad guys. Thus, the power the enemy wields is infinite but the power of the good guys is infiniter.

What the hell is the point of winning if you can't lose? What's there left to fight for if (spoiler alert for the hyper-sensitive) you can't even die by shooting yourself in the head? Just about all other pretense at conflict from then on just seems masturbatory.

When I think about how terribly boring the literary side of The Avengers is, it frustrates me because it's a pretty good movie with some amazing imagery in it. They even managed to keep the camera guy's epilepsy under control just long enough to show some of it! If only the Bourne movies could say the same.

I feel like Jack the Pumpkin King. It feels like I've been watching the world (a world that its own prospective conquerors admit isn't really all that interesting but they just wanna conquer it anyway) in peril so much that I've stopped caring. Just like Jack, I'm so bored with the same-old routine of watching New York (curiously always representative of the whole of civilization) teeter on the edge of doom that the only way I'm going to be happy ever again is if I ruin Christmas.

The Avengers, while magical and epic times ten to the power of infinity (but not really) is a net loss on the fun factor.