ellestra: (big gun)
I, as everyone else, saw Captain America: Civil War and it was as fun as the trailers promised. And like all the reviewers promised it didn’t feel overcrowded as Age of Ultron did. And the introduction of both Black Panther and Spiderman was superbly executed and left me wanting to see their own movies. Good job marketing!

I also saw it in IMAX 3D and it was OK but not really worth it until the big battle. That was filmed with IMAX cameras and there is big difference between this 3D and the upgraded 3D. In that battle all the details are so crisp and everything is shinier and everyone’s prettier and there is more depth. That was cool to see on the big screen.

One of the things that surprised me when I was watching Civil War was that I disagreed with Cap. This doesn’t mean I’m Team Iron Man exactly but I see the point of view of the governments and the public opinion that drove them to it as completely rational. After all, at least in democracies, governments are selected by people and armed forces (and spies) are, at least nominally, under the rule of those governments and all of them answer to law. Avengers operate on their personal discretion and don’t answer to anyone.

Captain America freely admits that he does what he thinks is right and anyone else’s opinion is not as good as his. And if they disagree he will use force to push his agenda. Trial by combat is not how the world is supposed to work.

Of course, he is a really nice guy and really wants the best for everyone but everyone, even the bad guys, believe they are doing the right thing and that ends justify the means. However, one - intentions are not the same as effects of your actions (after all, road to hell is paved with the best of them). And two - the public in MCU isn’t privy to all the information we are - they don’t know Steve like we know him so why would they trust him. He doesn’t trust them.

Of course, Tony Stark isn’t much better as he basically just acts on his feelings - guilt, remorse, hurt (and the whole Ultron mess happened because he ignored everyone’s objection to satisfy his curiosity) and picks a side or a fight based on them. Until a new one comes along that is. He kept being wrong and losing control despite trying to do the right thing and stay in control of everything. His life and his life's work is unravelling here and all he does is ju7st making it worse. Friends gone or hurt. And damage count keeps rising.

I also don’t think that a force defending Earth from threats like that should be steered by a committee - that never works. However, I do think that they should be more directly responsible for the damage they cause. Just not by being stuck in a secret prison without trial.

In the end I was left with a feeling that only Natasha and T'Chaka turned out to be grown up. Black Widow just tried to do all she could to de-escalate the situation. And Black Panther understood the trap that revenge is and chose the law instead off his feelings.

And to my surprise I felt sad about Zemo (one nitpick though - noone but English speakers would say that as Zeemo). He was consumed by his grief and the revenge left nothing but ashes. What's left when nothing's left? I'm hoping Daniel Brühl gets to be a villain again - instead of being killed off in 5 minutes in the next film.
ellestra: (tiger)
Finally a trailer for Civil War showing new Spiderman. That read is very bright - probably why he needs to squint.

All their movies are great but Kubo And The Two Strings looks better than anything they did so far. I can't wait.

I like this Ghostbusters trailer much better than the last one. Except for that cringe worthy bit at the end.
ellestra: (muppets)
I saw Zootopia yesterday. It is as beautiful, funny and moving as everyone else says. The animation is great. The animals are very anthropomorphised but at the same time all the little movements - like the nose twitches - are so very animal like. And the ideas behind the world design were beautifully realised too. All the climate zones and different sizes of habitats and equipment for different sizes of animals. You can just get lost in the designs.

But the best part is the story.

Everyone talks about how great this film is about showcasing different kinds of prejudice (from bunnies to predators to sloths) and how even if you are discriminate against doesn't mean you don't hold preconceptions and aren't a subject to confirmation bias. It was heartbreaking to see Judy fell into it when she was always saying to everyone it is a wrong thing to do. But this is also the best part.

She tells her parents not all foxes are bad and they shouldn't believe in stereotypes but their warnings and prejudices do get to her. Like a little voice in the back of her head that makes her doubt the very things she says she believes in. So she took that fox repellent, told all about predators not being able to help their DNA, got scared of Nick. Because even if you try to not let the prejudices get to you if something is said often enough you internalise it eventually. Especially if you also fight the stereotypes about yourself.

But just like their words got to her so her words got to them. Her parents tried to follow her see beyond their prejudice and work with Gideon and see not all foxes are bad even if they were bullies as kids. So even if she cannot always stick to her ideals it still matters to say it. Even when you fail at them others can keep them going and that spreads around too.

It matter that she believes those things - both because when she treats others with care and respect it gets back to her (saves her life really) and it lets her s keep trying even when others (even her parents) don't believe in her. It's important that Judy recognises her mistakes and realises the horrible consequences of her prejudice. But for me it was even more important to see the positive ideas she believed in change the people around her. Because nobody can do it alone. And that cooperation how she managed to solve the case.

Oh, and my favourite in joke - was the ad for Moana (one of the not yet released movies Duke Weaselton was selling was Zootopia version).
ellestra: (winged)
The first pilot for the new Ghostbusters dropped today. I don't like it much - it seemed to be designed to show off similarities to the old one and that was kind of boring. I want one more plotty and with some more character highlights instead of rude gags. Still it looks more interesting than most of the Batman vs Superman.

ellestra: (tiger)
So I have some awards to catch up on.

The Nebulas' nominations for last year were announced last week. As they are voted by professionals they are not subject to internet ballot stuffing as Hugos were and it shows. The only thing I miss is The Man in the High Castle for the Ray Bradbury Award but this was a good year for SF&F and that includes screen version and you cannot nominate everything. I'm happy for Nimona - a graphic novel - to be nominated for Andre Norton Award.

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
The Bone Swans of Amandale, C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
The New Mother, Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, Usman T. Malik (Tor.com 4/22/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
Waters of Versailles, Kelly Robson (Tor.com 6/10/15)

Rattlesnakes and Men, Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead, Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds, Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society, Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
The Deepwater Bride, Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
Our Lady of the Open Road, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story
Madeleine, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
Cat Pictures Please, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
Damage, David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
When Your Child Strays From God, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
Today I Am Paul, Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)


Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Ex Machina, Written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile, Teleplay by Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg; Story by Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
Mad Max: Fury Road, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

The other awards that just announced nominees are the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards. I never really got into horror so I can't really say anything about any of those but it's interesting to see self-published entries in both novel categories. It also looks like Alyssa Wong's Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers might be the it short story this year. And I like how the categories are all Superior Achievements.

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Clive Barker – The Scarlet Gospels (St. Martin’s Press)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Deep (self-published)
JG Faherty – The Cure (Samhain Publishing)
Patrick Freivald – Black Tide (JournalStone Publishing)
Paul Tremblay – A Head Full of Ghosts (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Courtney Alameda – Shutter (Feiwel & Friends)
Nicole Cushing – Mr. Suicide (Word Horde)
Brian Kirk – We Are Monsters (Samhain Publishing)
John McIlveen – Hannahwhere (Crossroad Press)
John Claude Smith – Riding the Centipede (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Jennifer Brozek – Never Let Me Sleep (Permuted Press)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Ridealong (self-published)
John Dixon – Devil’s Pocket (Simon & Schuster)
Tonya Hurley – Hallowed (Simon & Schuster)
Maureen Johnson – The Shadow Cabinet (Penguin)
Ian Welke – End Times at Ridgemont High (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Cullen Bunn – Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints (Dark Horse Comics)
Victor Gischler – Hellbound (Dark Horse Books)
Robert Kirkman – Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Image Comics)
Scott Snyder – Wytches, Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
Sam Weller, Mort Castle, Chris Ryall, & Carlos Guzman (editors) – Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (IDW Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Gary A. Braunbeck – Paper Cuts (Seize the Night) (Gallery Books)
Lisa Mannetti – The Box Jumper (Smart Rhino Publications)
Norman Partridge – Special Collections (The Library of the Dead) (Written Backwards)
Mercedes M. Yardley – Little Dead Red (Grimm Mistresses) (Ragnarok Publications)
Scott Edelman – Becoming Invisible, Becoming Seen (Dark Discoveries #30)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Kate Jonez – All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck (Black Static #47)
Gene O’Neill – The Algernon Effect (White Noise Press)
John Palisano – Happy Joe’s Rest Stop (18 Wheels of Horror) (Big Time Books)
Damien Angelica Walters – Sing Me Your Scars (Sing Me Your Scars) (Apex Publications)
Alyssa Wong – Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (Nightmare Magazine #37)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins – Crimson Peak (Legendary Pictures)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: And Hell Itself My Only Foe (Showtime)
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: Nightcomers (Showtime)
David Robert Mitchell – It Follows (Northern Lights Films)
Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement – What We Do in the Shadows (Unison Films)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
Michael Bailey – The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards)
Ellen Datlow – The Doll Collection: Seventeen Brand-New Tales of Dolls (Tor Books)
Christopher Golden – Seize the Night (Gallery Books)
Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles – nEvermore! (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
Jonathan Maberry – The X-Files: Trust No One (IDW Publishing)
Joseph Nassise and Del Howison – Midian Unmade (Tor Books)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Gary A. Braunbeck – Halfway Down the Stairs (JournalStone Publishing)
Nicole Cushing – The Mirrors (Cycatrix Press)
Taylor Grant – The Dark at the End of the Tunnel (Cemetery Dance Publications)
Gene O’Neill – The Hitchhiking Effect (Dark Renaissance Books)
Lucy A. Snyder – While the Black Stars Burn (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks (ed.) – The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)
Stephen Jones – The Art of Horror (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books)
Michael Knost – Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth (Seventh Star Press)
Joe Mynhardt & Emma Audsley (editors) – Horror 201: The Silver Scream (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Danel Olson – Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (Centipede Press)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
Bruce Boston – Resonance Dark and Light (Eldritch Press)
Alessandro Manzetti – Eden Underground (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Ann Schwader – Dark Energies (P’rea Press)
Marge Simon – Naughty Ladies (Eldritch Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – An Exorcism of Angels (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Also announced - the nominations for Philip K. Dick Awards. Here's the shortlist:

Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper (Pyr)
After the Saucers Landed by Douglas Lain (Night Shade Books)
(R)evolution by PJ Manney (47North)
Apex by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books)
Windswept by Adam Rakunas (Angry Robot Books)
Archangel by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press)

There seems to be a trend for one word titles.

And finally - today Oscar winners were announced. They look mostly very predictable - Mad Max: The Fury Road swept the more technical, behind the scenes categories (I was very happy for Ex Machina to get the visual effects) and most of the big ones went to the most likely choices. Except for the Best Picture. It felt nice to be surprised and for me anything was a better choice than The Revenant. But all the documents were great and I was so happy for Chileans.
ellestra: (slingers)
The popularity of the new Star Wars is still soaring. And it's very popular - it just became the highest grossing film in US ever and third in the world already and despite everyone saying China doesn't care for Star Wars it's also did extremely well on it's first day there (I knew it - what does it matter they didn't watch the originals in cinemas - they stay on point on popular culture as well as everyone else and love big spectacle as much as everyone else - maybe even more). This kind of popularity means inevitable fan art and parodies.

There are the beautiful mash-ups of Star Wars with Calvin and Hobbes by Disney artist Brian Kesinger. The most popular one is the most classical:

By my favourite one is this - so true

After all we all know Kylo Ren is the emo one (I wondered if he dies his hair from the start - noone in the family had hair this dark). He shows us all how misunderstood he truly is through his twitter account. Misunderstood by his parents and picked on by his very lonely uncle Luke.

It's a hard life. The one that's may lead one to drank Force calling that girl Rey and keep offering to teach her the Dark Side. Because "No" is never an answer and and she will eventually want him if only Hux stops putting his tantrums on Youtube. It's all described in Kylo Ren needs to Chill.
ellestra: (root and shaw)
I wrote about the things I'm waiting most for this year but that was just the things I could remember from the top of my head. But now io9 (or should I say gizmodo?) has complied both the list of genre (and genre-adjacent) films and the TV series (at least for the first half) coming this year. I completely forgot Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was coming out next month and I had no idea there is going to be The Little Prince film. It also reminded me I wanted to see Lucifer and maybe also Damien (devil is all the rage now on TV) and how much I love The 100 (I though it'd be a forgettable teen series but it turned out awesome and I can't wait to see what Errica Cerra is up too). Oh, and there's a X-Men TV series coming form Fox some time - Legion.
ellestra: (anomander rake)
This is the New Year so let's look ahead at what is coming. All the things I'm most excited so far. It will change - some things will disappoint and others I don't know about yet. But this is what I'm waiting for:

Movies - Deadpool, Ghostbusters, Civil War and Story of Your Life (I’m big fan of Ted Chiang so I’m very excited about this).

TV - X-Files, obviously, and The Magicians (loved the first episode), Luke Cage, You, Me and the Apocalypse (I know it's already has been shown in UK but only Doctor Who crosses Atlantic fast - he can travel in Time and Space) and BrainDead - for new ones. I also, of course, eagerly await the return of Galavant (tomorrow!!!), Limitless (Tuesday!!!), Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, iZombie, Daredevil, Orphan Black, Sense8, Humans, Mr. Robot, The Man in the High Castle and, most of all, Person of Interest. Here's a list of what is coming and when in next few months so you can make your own schedule.

Books - Steven Erikson’s Fall of Light - the 2nd book in Kharkanas Trilogy and Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Dancer Lament because I’m a big Malazan fan.
ellestra: (root and shaw)
Happy New Year!

It's time to look back at the 2015. It wasn't the best of years - with terrorism rising and the weather going all wonky - but at least entertainment was good.

My top films of the year (it's SFF because that's what I see in cinemas - I usually prefer to see other films at home without people talking and looking at their phones and the smell of popcorn - but for genre I usually want the big screen experience):

The ones I was most entertained by - mostly in order: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Unlike almost everyone I had fun watching Jupiter Ascending (it was pretty and I liked Terry Gilliam parts more than the whole of Zero Theorem). I remember liking Age of Ultron but can't quite recall the plot - something, something, killer robots, something Vison, city falling from the sky, new Avengers - so in retrospect the story wasn't that interesting and I was distracted by how shiny it was. I was underwhelmed by all the YA adaptations.

The TV was pretty awesome. I need to cut back on stuff but I really, really like so much nowadays. There are all the awesome new shows. The year started with the joy that was Galavant which to surprise of everyone (and my great joy) is coming back on Sunday.The summer came with Humans and Mr. Robot. And Syfy brought some entertaining space shows - Dark Matter and Killjoys and the beautiful, high quality The Expanse series (already renewed). And Amazon has finally made SF worth watching with the wonderful The Man in the High Castle. It's certainly became my favourite show of theirs (it used to be Alpha House). I also loved Sense8 - from the get go and didn't find it hard to follow at all. I'm very excited to know they are all coming back this year. I never expected to like Limitless (I finally watched the film and it was OK but I'm glad I didn't see it in the cinema) but it turned out to be the most wonderful thing and I'm so happy it's back on Tuesday.

In another controversial view I admit that my favourite Marvel show is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's probably because I generally prefer assemble shows but I also have most fun watching it. Then it's Agent Carter (incredibly awesome and coming back in few weeks) and then Netflix ones - Daredevil and Jessica Jones (I don't have preference here so they are in chronological order). I know it makes me an odd one and I will make it even worse by admitting I like all Marvel shows more than anything DC. And that my favourite CW comic book based show is iZombie. I like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and and I liked Constantine but this is my order of preference.

I said good bye to Continuum, Defiance and Dominium. Haven ended too but Lost Girl still has episodes to burn in US. I gave up on Gotham and Sleepy Hollow and everyone gave up on Minority Report. There were things like Falling Skies and Hemlock's Grove where couldn't get through last season - just watched last episode (still painful). I just read spoilers for Game of Thrones and watched dragons parts. I liked the miniseries - both Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Childhood's End. I also finally binged Black Mirror over the holidays and it is as awesome as everyone says it is. Luther would've been great too but I don't know if I can get over Alice.

There were all my old favourites. I watch The Librarians for pure fun and Doctor Who has improved this year. Person of Interest - still no one want to let us know when it'll come back but it might become a summer show (in place of the horrible Under the Dome and Extant that CBS finally cancelled) and get couple more seasons and I cant wait when our favourite psychopaths will be back. Orphan Black - Helena became true MVP this season and RIP monitors. Also have you seen the new trailers? Creepy.

My guilty pleasures included The Originals and Teen Wolf (so many pretty people in both). And I kept following my favourite dramas - The Good Wife, Major Crimes, Suits,Switched at Birth, The Fosters, The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire, The Blacklist, Elementary (Morland is a joy) and kind of keep track of Shondaland. I don't really watch sitcoms but I watched The Muppets and sometimes Blackish.

In books dragons stay my weak spot - I fell in love with Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers books. There was more Laundry - from Mo's PoV and with superheroes. I read The Martian and The Magicians trilogy before seeing adaptations and loved both. I've read Raising Steam but I haven't touched The Shepard's Crown because if I don't then I still have one more book by Terry Pratchett to read.
ellestra: (sunrise)
Despite pouring rain I managed to get to the cinema and see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Everyone have already analysed every second of it so here are just the observations that stood out to me the most.

It was funny. Much funnier than I expected and it was mostly based on great interactions between characters. The chemistry between main characters is instant and great and you don't mind that they became BFFs (or fall in love) basically at first look (only Han is a little grumpy but that just adds to his charm). There is a lot of shout outs to the original movies both inside the story and just for the viewers. And the story is pretty classical peasant boy finds out his destiny is to save the world but she's actually a girl so she even gets to save herself and that was great. She does rescue her love interest just like it always happens in these stories. But even the tropes in the story were mostly done in a fun and enjoyable way and the interplay of the old and new elements and beautiful visuals to make this great film to watch.

There were few moments they were a little too obvious. I went in completely unspoiled but I still knew exactly what the fate of Han Solo will be the moment Leia mentioned trying to talk their son out of being on Dark Side (like he went and joined Scientology or something). So when went on that bridge I knew the only way he'll comes out of it was down. But the "dying of the light" behind him and the lightsaber through the heart were so over the top symbolic I just spent that whole thing rolling my eyes. Still, it was sad to let Han go - he was always my favourite (like most people) and incredibly fun in this film (not to mention the crazy stunts with hyperspace jumping). But I was also expecting they are going to kill all the old cast so the new generation can take over (and just like old film did with Obi-wan and Yoda) so I'm also glad we still have Leia and Luke.

The First Order flags and looks (and the Empire before that) had distinctly Nazi looks but I thought they went a little overboard with Domhnall Gleeson's character basically going full Hitler on that speech. This was not a comedic scene but it made me giggle because they managed to combine to ultimate movie evils - posh British accent and Hitler (and he's ginger). And that guy doesn't even use Force. But I loved him because he was such a wonderful prick to Kylo Ren about everything (tattling on him to Supreme Leader and enjoying his every misstep). I can imagine these two in an office type comedy (only with more dead planets).

The last scene was also a little ridiculous. I know it was supposed to be moving but they just stare at each other silently for so long it started being funny (it also felt like the whole thing was in the film only to have Luke in the film). Also he was gone for years but he knew where he was going (left a map) and it was close enough that Ray just flew there to get him so it's not like searching for that place took him years. It looked like he failed at Jedi school so he left home and abandoned everyone to brood in Ireland and stare at sea (and Han went to have fun adventures in shipping). While Leia did all the actual hard work of fighting the bad guys and maintaining alliances. Way to go guys - abandon the work for fun and side projects while woman takes care of everything.

The current most popular theory is that Rey is Luke's daughter. I can see that too. Someone did abandon her on Jakku and never came back and Luke did that basically to everyone so why not her too. And as everyone points out she is a tech genius on a desert world with strong connection to the Force. Just like Anakin and Luke. But thorough the film I also wondered if she might be Leia and Han's. Rey and Han were shown to be so similar - literally thinking the same thing and understanding each other without words and then she basically takes inherits his ship. Also the way they often show Ray and Kylo Ren mirroring each other - identical but opposite. She is the daughter Han didn’t know but who wants to be just like him and Ben is the son who knew him and rejects him. It’s very mythological. I’m fine with her being Luke’s daughter but the foreshadowing here that he was Han’s and Ben’s sister was pretty heavy. (I’m not the only one who thinks so.) But no matter whose daughter she is it seems implied pretty hard she is a Skywalker (that suspicious cut when Leia asks Han who the girl is made me wonder if they know) and that makes the whole epic story about battle between Light and Dark Side of the Force a family affair. Again.

I know these may seem like I didn't like it but I did. It is great entertainment and Rey was awesome, Finn was precious, Poe was likeable (limited screen time he had) and the old guard characters were great to see again. I saw a lot of complains about Kylo Ren - that he isn't as competent nor as scary as Vader but I thought he perfectly captured brooding and anger issues of young Anakin (both also slayers of children) so he seemed a lot like his grandfather actually. And I would like to see more Maz Kanata. She was great. I also don't care about the scenes that were in trailers that weren't in the film (partly because I stopped watching trailers few weeks ago - there were so many of them) but I'm sorry that the changes in story for final cut meant all Maisie Richardson-Sellers had left is one staring scene before being blown up.
ellestra: (winged)
One of the traditional TV events in Poland is showing Home Alone movies (at least the first two). My brother said they tried to stop last year but there was big outcry. Way to profit from some kid traumatic experience. Ever wondered what living with this kind of PTSD do to a person? You no longer need to - just take a look at the man Kevin became:
ellestra: (tiger)
I saw the final part of Hunger Games last week but I didn't know what to think about it. I'm still not sure. On one hand it was very well done, beautiful and had some clever comments on politics. On the other most of it seemed pointless and unsatisfying. Once again this feels like a perfect example why splitting a book into multiple movies means too much padding. A very pretty padding but padding still.

This episode piled up stupid and then we have the smart part in the quick resolution. Making Catching Fire just one movie would make this part shorter and we would have the rescue from last film here too so it wouldn't feel like being cheated to just watch some FX reel for the most of the movie.

The whole thing with the trip through capitol was completely pointless. All it did was killing some secondary characters I actually liked so Katniss could live her revenge fantasy. The events at the palace entrance would happen exactly the same way not matter if she was there or not. Of course whoever thought it was good idea to add Peeta to that trip - even the original version - was as bad.

Of course none of this (the revenge trip and subsequent deaths) would've happened if Katniss just stayed behind the lines - argued about strategy and politics - instead of going half-assed but she never listened. She's actually pretty good at that even though she hates it - the way she talks down that guy at the mines and ability to see behind the hatred and perceive enemy as human could've gotten her further than any arrows even in the anit-Snow quest. But instead she wants to walk alone into midfield and the people follow. At the end it reached the too stupid to live levels and I started disconnecting from her as point of view character. Of course she was being kept in the dark on all the plans. The whole Hunger Games thing left her with big trust issues and had the same do it myself attitude in other films no matter how many people tried to help. I get that. But I also understand why they didn't tell her anything since she had tendency to never believe anyone, blame herself for everything and then try to fix it single handedly to the point of being suicidal. I get it got her this far but the whole thing with trying to be better than an army and do the revenge personally was pretty childish and self-centred. It would've been better squished into one film with Peeta rescue. Split it takes up most of the movie making the finale feel pointless.

I also disliked the way they handled Katniss blaming Gale for the bomb. She almost sound like she accuses him of planting it but if he knew he wouldn't go there. The most she can blame him is the idea but it isn't his idea. This is a very old idea. In fact it made me feel a little creepy as the Paris attackers planned something like this on the stadium - the first bomb was to cause panic and drive crowds towards the next ones. I get why she chooses Peeta. It was getting pretty obvious she and Gale had different life goals. She wanted to be left alone and he wanted to change the world. This would've been enough (I know it was in the book but it seemed to me in the book it was like she knew she would blame him even though he wasn't guilty or at least that's how I saw it).

At least the ending was worth it. The whole thing with Coin becoming just like Snow and starting the Hunger Games cycle all over again using crowd thirst for revenge as justification was perfect. Too many revolutions ended like that - creating rule as bad or even worse than the one it replaced. The hardest part, the biggest test after any revolution, even the soft ones, is ability to let go off the power. Coin couldn't do it.

It made me sad again about Philip Seymour Hoffman. Plutarch Heavensbee became my favourite character and the way he manipulated Katniss was perfect. She was trying so hard not to be manipulated that it just made it easier. I'm still suspicious he just put who he liked most at the power and rule of oligarchs behind the ruler is barely any better than a one totalitarian supreme leader but all the clues show he has good intentions so maybe he is the one to let go off the power. At least Katniss seems pretty happy with the world few years after so it seemed to work out.
ellestra: (anomander rake)
I walked a lot on Halloween and then it rained for the first 3 days of November (oscillating between rain and drizzle) and finally was mostly cloudy today with only late night drizzle. In other words exactly how I imagine November only warmer. But all of this combined with the time change made me want to sleep all day long (which I would if I didn't have to go to work . But today I saw sunshine for few moments today and it looks like we get summer for couple of days (tomorrow 26 oC) so I'm trying to at least write down the important things.

Because I am kind of excited. Underneath that sleepy thing. This is because of some films coming in 2017.

Luc Besson is making a Valerian and Laureline movie - Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It's based on the French science fiction comics series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres about temporal agent Valerian and Laureline (name they made up but now it's pretty popular in France) who originally was peasant from middle ages but became an agent tooafter being rescued by Valerian. They travel through time and space and have a lot of adventures - the movie is to be based on two of them Bad Dreams and The Empire of a Thousand Planets. The series has really nice graphics and a lot of cool ideas. Some of them can be easily recognised by any Star Wars fans as the movies have some striking resemblances to the comics.

There is also a new The Witcher film coming. You probably don't know it but there was already a movie (and a TV series) based on the books in Poland (it's translated as The Hexer to make it more confusing*) but it wasn't very good. They tried to put together too many of short stories to make any coherent plot. This one is supposed to be based on only two of them - The Witcher and Lesser Evil which means no supporting characters from the books. The film will be produced by Sean Daniel Company (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Expanse TV series and the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur) and Platige (polish computer praphics and advertising company behind Ambition and Witcher games animations) and will be directed by Tomasz Bagiński (who is also behind the intros of to the game and you can see his short movies in the tag).

*Well, it was Sapkowski's preferred translation but everyone else liked Witcher better and here we are.

And for something closer - there is an all female Ocean's Eleven film coming next year staring Sandra Bullock.

And a new trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass
ellestra: (sunrise)
This is the week when they tease us with the incoming attractions but we al know that not all that looks good in trailers fulfils the hype. We are grown ups well acquainted with disappointment. We can manage our expectations. We can... Oh, fuck it. So let's just allow ourselves enjoy it.

Jessica Jones full trailer is finally here and it's awesome (we don't even see much of him and I'm already revolted by the Purple Man)

And here's another thing that will premiere on 20 November - Amazon's The Man in High Castle. I loved the pilot (you can see the first 2 episodes here for free) and this makes it look even better than I hoped. I want it to succeed so badly it hurts.

All the Star Wars trailers put together in one - looks pretty epic, doesn't it?
ellestra: (sunrise)
Today is Back to the Future day. October 21, 2015 is the date that Doc and Marty arrived at in the Back to the Future II film. So everyone is comparing the future imagined in the 80s to the one we are actually living in. Cars don't fly, there is no fusion reactors and you cannot hydrate your pizza in seconds. We still, disappointingly, need glasses to watch 3D, hoverboards are barely functional (or are just tiny scooters) and Pepsi Perfect is just for people with too much money. But big flatscreens are everywhere and a lot of screens are touchscreens (if you count smartphones most even). We have fingerprint locks and pocket cameras in our smartphones and we can videochat whenever we feel like it (my main way of talking to my family). You can talk to your devices - from phones to TV to some house (and get super frustrated if it doesn't deal well with your accent or speech patterns). The movies had no idea of internet which became a big thing in the future and now we all carry powerful computers that keep us connected to it all the time. Payphones, maps and faxes are mostly forgotten. And Nike has just released (in very limited numbers) the self-lacing shoes. But a lot of companies hope to cash in on the nostalgia.

There is a new short coming in the new blue-ray edition with this extra message from Doc Brown himself

And a documentary about filming BttF

And for those disappointed with the future - CH feels you

The Back to the Future Trilogy in 90 Seconds
ellestra: (telamon)
The Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is out
ellestra: (skye daisy johnson)
Marvel has delayed Captain Marvel once again. This time it's to make space for the Ant-Man sequel. At least it will be Ant-Man and The Wasp this time. Also the Internet is buzzing with Kevin Feige comments about fan-casting, especially in the context of casting Carol Danvers. Many think it means he wants Ronda Rousey to play the role but I think he just means the they like to look at what fan propose for ideas but it daoesn't mean they will agree. They do sometimes (Chris Evans was a massive favourite for Cap) but in the end they will pick whoever they like (and even if that's not going to be your favourite it's going to be fine - most actors are going to be fine in those roles).

The Charity DubsmashWars between Team Carter and Team SHIELD has posted it's last round. It's all about group effort and I'm sorry to say that it looks like SHIELD is still being infiltrated by HYDRA. Team Carter on the other hand is backed by Disney. We all know who has the better chance at world domination (All Hail the Mouse).

Here is Jessica Jones' day from waking up till working till early. In teaser trailers.

ellestra: (sunrise)
I saw The Martian today. It was great. Just like with Gravity it shows science and space travel as something gripping but unlike Gravity it's all positive. Gravity's message was stay home. This says no matter the odds we can do it and get there if we put our minds in it. It's all for the space travel and exploration. The best advertisement for going out there ourselves.

It obliviously doesn't have the same level of detail that book has - so most of the gruelling part of problem solving and Mark explanations are gone. This loses some of the science and humour but we get the beautiful views instead. In 3D it was almost like the Mars Explorer vieweven if it's Wadi Rum instead.

We all know what happened the last time a British director left Matt Damon stranded on a planet. And once again the spaceship air lock gets blown out. The guys obviously bad luck. He even got Jessica Chastain all upset again. Luckily, Mark Watney does much better stranded on a hostile planet than that other man. He sciences the shit out of it (literally sometimes).

The best part of the book is the humour and they do capture Watney's childish and sometimes gallows humour pretty well. Space is not friendly and nothing there helps you survive - the only thing we have are our brains and all that they made - science and technology. And this is what he uses to find a way to solve his problems. This and little help from his friends. Because the other thing we have are other humans. This is movie about science but also about cooperation. Mark is alone and far, far away from all other human beings but those other human beings still save him. The teams in NASA and JPL and Chinese space program and, of course, the crew of Hermes.

They go through the same cycle of defeat and try again to solve this problem. And just like with the book (Andy Weir, blogged his book and crowdsurced some of the solutions), if you have enough minds working on something one of them can have the right idea. Of course we are human so they sometimes disagree and have to play politics and being not careful enough or too careful - Teddy I'm looking at you - but it's hard to make decisions when you know that if you fail the whole humanity will watch a man slowly die. In a way I feel like the NASA team on Earth is in bigger stress than Mark. I wish there was a little more Mitch and Mindy and Annie but it was already pretty long film - almost 2.5 hours long - so it's OK.

At least we got Elrond meeting. I was so happy I wasn’t drinking anything at that Lord of the Rings joke with Sean Bean. It was already glorious when Sean Bean started to explain the Council of Elrond being a secret meeting but I really lost it when Kristen Wiig’s character asked “How did you know that?”. I almost screamed “Because he was there!” but I was too busy laughing. It was in the book but it's so much better with Sean Bean there and Ridley Scott wanted to take it out. This is one instance of Fox executive meddling I'm very happy about.

Even though the Hermes time is very limited they managed to let us like the rest of the Ares 3 crew. Lewis and Martinez are the main focus and Martinez is the most likeable but we Vogel gets crucial role in getting the plan and blowing stuff. Johanssen does her computer fu and Beck does a lot of EVA and we get a glimpse their romance romance (and for some more meta, now in Marvel - Sue Storm and Bucky Barnes get together - who wants to check if that pairing rises in popularity now?). I was a little disappointed they changed the story so that Lewis goes for Mark but movies love to make it personal and commanding is not very cinematic.

It did have so minor issues. As most people I assumed Mindy Park was of Korean descent and instead she was played by Cameron from Halt and Catch Fire. Venkat/Vincent Kapoor thing is apparently due to last minute casting because the actor they wanted had scheduling conflict right before filming started.

They walk on Mars like it Earth and so they do in spinning section but then that's might be because they muscles have already atrophied a bit after being in lower gravity for so long. Why Mark didn't make double layer seal on the blown out door (in case it was pierced by a stone)? And of course everyone points out the storm but Andy Weir admitted this was one thing he messed up but needed for the whole thing.

But neither of these things really matters because there is fun to be had and places to see.

It's funny how two films I liked best this year are all about the deserts. And they both show them in such a beautiful detail. Even though they get even more inhospitable I still want to go and see. Let's go to Mars and see for ourselves. Or at least watch some more Curiosity photos.

Bad dreams

Aug. 31st, 2015 11:56 pm
ellestra: (winged)
Wes Craven died yesterday from brain tumour. He was 76. I'm not a big fan of horror (mostly because I don't find it very scary so I get stuck on illogical parts) but I liked his films - from Freddy Krueger dreamscapes (my first one was randomly A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and they do dream fighting in that one and it was awesome) to the way he played with horror tropes in Scream series (also see the New Nightmare). He put fun into watching multiple people getting murdered on screen. And now that he is gone the whole internet agrees he will hunt our nightmares. Making them properly scary - none of those naked in the office stuff.

The movies

Aug. 24th, 2015 06:54 pm
ellestra: (muppets)
In the past two weeks I saw two movies that will most likely be recorded in history as giant flops and I loved them both. I knew they were failing as soon as I walked into the cinema - The Man From UNCLE audience was skewing toward 60s age range (not that it's bad but usually means little repeat views) and American Ultra showing was mostly empty - and it made me sad in both cases. They were both fun, summer movies - action, explosions, humour and a little romance.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was so very pretty - the clothes, the settings, the cars and most of all the people (also very tall people - everyone talks about Armie Hammer but Elizabeth Debicki towers over Superman and Henry Cavil is not short - except of course Alicia Vikander who is normal sized woman and therefore looks tiny in this). I loved the humour (and the rest of audience did too) and the whole cast had great chemistry together. It's all very predictable - two guys from opposite sides who start hating each other but learn to be partners (eg every cop buddy movie) and the whole fake engagement plot (but they are really falling for each other - from the first sight) and the of course the evil Nazis (with the atomic bomb) - but I didn't care as the whole thing was deeply enjoyable and beautifully packed. The whole thing with Solo and Kuryakin trying to one up each other at who is the better spy (even though they both are basically forced to do it by their respective governments - tragic backstory is a thing in this movie) and of course the famous fashion fight. The completely over the top villains (remember Nazis - and rich ones at that). And I'm still surprised how invested I got into the Illya/Gaby romance in such a short time. They only just met each other and never even finish that kiss and I was totally sold on that romance from that first eyefuck. And then there are final credits and the files say Gabby is learning Russian and I just went awww. It was also funny because they got Brit to play American, American playing Russian, a Swede as a German and Australian playing Italian (but at least the secondary characters are mostly genuine as the foreign dialogue was pretty good - I got most of the Russian and German). I wish we could've have sequel.

American Ultra was a weird mix of a stoner comedy, office comedy and superspy films. Connie Britton and Walton Goggins were probably the best parts but the main couple was pretty likeable and Jesse Eisenberg plays confused nerd to perfection even while killing people with a spoon (hey, it's in every trailer). The whole amnesiac superspy who government wants to assassinate and he kills tons of people have of course become an overused trope long ago but this really sold the confusion. And the contrast between boring life without much opportunities in some place that civilisation forgot and the whole giant supertech government conspiracy. And stores are really full of deadly objects. I only wonder what happened to Laugher (they didn't simply let him disappear - someone is hunting him, right?)

I also saw Ant-Man this summer. It was OK. That's really all I have to say about it. (Also Peggy Carter was the best part.)

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