The Crimes of Grindelwald include a serious lack of wokeness

Where is the wokeness? Where’s that same woke energy you bring to Twitter and changing the OG HP books JK Rowling? WHERE?

*Not spoiler free, but no massive twists revealed either

By now it’s likely you’ve heard at least a few of the lukewarm reviews of The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second instalment of the Harry Potter prequel series Fantastic Beasts.

I definitely fall in the category of reviewers who found this film lacking something much needed, but I don’t think the universe needs yet another review about that. I’ve also already done a podcast with What I Watched Tonight all about those feelings so if you’re interested in my opinion on that then you can listen here.

Instead, I’m interested in fleshing out the films lack of “wokeness” – for lack of a better word. Now, obviously I take issue with most films lack of wokeness, but this feels especially important for one main reason:

Since discovering her wokeness, and experiencing a tirade of displeasure from Twitter, JK Rowling has made it her mission to go back and retrospectively add representation into her books when it isn’t there.

I am someone who is a huge advocate for representation in media, however when JK Rowling does this, it feels an awful lot like a cop out. I personally understand that when she wrote the books she didn’t have the understanding about representation she does now, so I understand why it was lacking in the Harry Potter series. I personally feel that a better way for her to approach the situation would have been to say “Listen, I fucked up, but I’ll try better in future.”

But the many Crimes of Grindelwald are that she then goes back on that and we’re pretty much at original Harry Potter levels of representation once again.

#1. Where’s my gay Dumbledore?


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Probably the first and most noteworthy change, or “announcement” she made in her new wokeness, was that Dumbledore was gay the whole time and was in love with Grindelwald so…. Prove it? Where was that in this film? I love me some Jude Law but boy was he so very not the gay Dumbledore we all know and love. And on that note, why suddenly is the reason Dumbledore took so long to fight Grindelwald because of some random, unmentioned blood pact instead of GAY PINING LOVE??? Missed opportunityand massive cop out.

#2. Why were the two female leads from the first film sidelined, and the other female lead FRIDGED?

giphy.gifI believe I’ve expressed my feelings about fridging before, but if not, fridging is essentially where writers kill of female characters in order to give emotional gravitas to a male characters storyline and give them a “push”. You can read more about it here, but Leta Lestrange DESERVED BETTER.

Tina also deserved better. Like, bitch where was you this whole film? Gone AF pining over Newt. Queenie also deserved better. She is NOT as dumb as this film makes her out to be. She is a strong woman who loves fiercely but she is full of common sense and I don’t believe the Queenie in the first movie would do this shit.

#3. So somehow in the 6 months between the first and second films Newt Scamander became a lady killer?


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What’s up with every female needing to be in love with male leads? I hate that trope. If they start turning him into a know-it-all Sherlock type I’m walking out. I don’t know quite where I’m going with this point but fuck this.

Ok so that’s how I feel. Actually there are a whole lot more emotions but fuck it, this film has had enough of my attention. Basically, JK IF YOU’RE GONNA DO BETTER, ACTUALLY DO BETTER WITH THE SOURCE MATERIAL YOU ARE CREATING.

A few sidenotes:

Theseuss hot AF

Dumbledore big dick energy

Nifflers ftw

Leta deserved better

The tea: your taste in movies doesn’t make you better than anyone else ☕

Listen. If you think you’re better than me because you’re “above” superhero movies, then this blog goes out to you.

I didn’t realise I had to write this, I really didn’t.

But if I get another comment saying that “superhero movies are for children blah blah blah watch a real movie” I’m going to lose it.

And that’s saying a lot because I barely get comments.

I want to start this with a disclaimer: I think we’re all a little elitist. While I’m an adamant believer that if another person’s interests are not harming themselves or other people then you aren’t better than them, I still occasionally look at someone thinking Banksy is the pinnacle of political art and think I’m better than them.

BUT I would never say that to them! And whenever I find myself thinking this I actively mentally correct myself.

When you go out of your way to say someone is childish because they like superheroes, or basic because they think 2001: Space Odyssey is trash and Bring It On is a masterpiece (@ me), you’re simply showing that you’re small minded and not willing to grow.

I want to know why you think you’re more intellectual, or critical thinking, or “grown up” than me because you don’t like Black Panther? Tell me. Come for me in the comments.

I feel like it’s the dumbest people who often decide that something so subjective as film or art makes them better than others. It’s an asinine and childish practice in itself, and kind of the biggest turn off.

Also, as a sidenote, this isn’t just about films. If you think you’re better than me because you snort heavy metal or classic rock and I love to rock out to nearly anything with a beat, then you’re just as bad. Same goes for art, books, and almost anything else!

The only time I feel like it’s justified in looking down on someone for their interests is if they like something that is hurting themselves, or others, or if the artist themselves has contributed to negative things such as racism etc. But when I say “looking down” I still don’t actually mean “be a dick”. I mean “participate in constructive discourse with the person so they understand that you don’t think you’re ‘better than them’, but rather that they should re-evaluate what their interests contribute to”.

TL;DR – you’re no fucking better than anyone because you don’t like what they watch.

Also fuck you.

Black Panther: the worst part was Martin Freemans American accent

If you haven’t already seen Black Panther, then I’ma need you to close this tab and go watch it. Not because this blog post is riddled with spoilers (or is it? I haven’t written it yet so I can’t be sure), but because it’s just a no-brainer that you should GO AND WATCH BLACK PANTHER.

You might not be able to tell from my previous blogs, but I’ve been growing fairly tired of the superhero franchises of late. Mostly the DC tv shows… and the DC movies… and the Spiderman reboots… It’s all getting fairly repetitive, and the only time I get really excited is when something new happens. Black Panther undeniably ticked that box.

Black Panther is hilarious, it’s political, it has killer costume design, and an incredible soundtrack – and it only features like, 2 white people. One of those white people has an African accent, along with 90% of the rest of the cast. And not only was it ethnically diverse (in fact, most of the actors come from vastly different parts of the African continent), but it was gender-diverse. A large portion of the cast was female (no, not 50% unfortunately), but possibly more importantly, the female characters of Black Panther were on the same level as the men. In fact, the strongest warriors of Wakanda were women, and T’Challa’s sister Shuri was shown time and time again to be his equal, if not his intellectual superior. (definitely his superior in jokes and memes)

The movie was deeply political – like so many superhero movies are – but it came not from a place of replicating societal or political events, and not from a place of asking one question such as “should superheroes be ethically supported under a government” or “who was the bad guy in WWI”. Instead, Black Panther is nuanced, and asks as many questions as complex topics deserve.

Black Panther, for the most part, is a look at how colonisation affected parts of Africa, and how it still does – but it’s so much more than that. We are in a future where we are asking ourselves “how do we set things right?”, “is it more important to protect your own country, or is it your duty to share resources with those in need?”, “is it important for leaders to do what they believe is right, or to do what the majority of their people want?”, “is retrospective revenge a viable option, or should people in modern times be forgiven for their ancestors mistakes?”

All these questions and more were approached by Black Panther, as it attempts to show a country in anguish, split between protecting themselves from the outside world, and dishing out retribution upon colonists. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t condemn either argument, but shows that a hasty approach is not the answer, and nor is blindly following your ancestors footsteps.

Of course, as with any superhero film, it also features crazy tech, some incredible fighting scenes, as well as hilarious side-kicks. Oh, and Martin Freemans terrible, terrible American accent. It was so bad it pulled you straight out of the scene. Just let this man be British!!!

 

There are so many other stand outs of this film, not the least being the black excellence it exhibits, but there are so many more who are better, and more qualified to discuss this than me, so you can read those here:

Refinery29

Kulture Hub

Depaulia

Just listen, GO WATCH THIS FILM.

You’ll love it.

Unless you hate superheroes, are extremely, physically adverse to bad American accents by white men, or you’re a racist, then I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this film.

It, 2017: a film that appropriately ignores the entirety of the original book

I sincerely hope you never ever EVER read the original book – but by all means watch the new film if you want.

This blog is going to be NOT spoiler-free, but honestly even if you haven’t read the book, watched the old film, or the new, does it really matter? Does it???? DOES IT?

 

I honestly don’t know if you’ve ever read ‘It’ by Stephen King, but if you haven’t I sincerely hope you never do. I had no intentions of ever reading it until this year when I got it in my head that I’d be able to write a more well-rounded blog about the new figiphy.giflm if I had read the book. And that’s where my life started going downhill.

It’, the 1986 novel (or, brick) by Stephen King is, objectively, the worst book ever written.

I’m sorry. I know we all love Stephen King – hell, I love Stephen King. He’s a white man renegade for the downtrodden, the ignored, and the under-privileged. I’ll even throw him a bone and say he does this as well with ‘It’.

At the forefront it’s a horror novel where there is a killer uh, “clown”, that every so often wakes from its slumber to feast upon kids. After a while however, it also becomes a quite effective discussion about racism, sexism, and even homophobia – topics which I wouldn’t have expected to be discussed in a book from the ‘80s.

So yes, there are some absolutely wonderful things about the book, but I can’t get past the fact that it’s absolutely the worst in almost every single other way.

Now, I know we’re all actually here to read about the new film, so I’ll try and keep this snappy while still giving you context, but here are the main points as to why I think ‘It’ is the worst book ever written.

  • It’s 1,300 pages long and you could cut 70% of those out and still have the exact same novel. Like, the exact same.
  • It takes over 30% of the book for all of the main characters, AKA the Losers Club to actually all even meet
  • There are a large number of strong motifs and concepts that are either never explained or almost done in a throw-away line that doesn’t feel like it justifies the frequency of that motif/concept being mentioned
  • Stephen King clearly doesn’t understand how to write women. At all. An eleven-year-old girl whose father beats her and who is being haunted by a murderous clown doesn’t think about her boobs the instance she wakes up – Sorry to tell ya Stephen.
  • She also doesn’t feel her nipples harden when she is afraid when all of the boys just feel goosebumps
  • She’s eleven for Christ sake stop talking about her boobs!!!
  • The clown isn’t even a clown it’s a spider which is also ~The Universe~ and there is also a turtle which is also ~The Universe~ except it dies by puking out a galaxy and choking on it – are you still following? I’m not
  • Oh, also it’s almost not at all explained why the spider regularly takes the form of a clown who is called Pennywise but also sometimes Bob Gray but only very occasionally.
  • There is legitimately a child orgy that is a 100% serious aspect of the book that is described in detail for an entire chapter
  • And it’s the worst thing I’ve ever read.

Yeah it’s that last part that really threw me off the edge.

I’m sorry, but in what world should I have to read about the genitals and sexual acts and the body fluids of eleven year olds IN A SEWER.

It literally doesn’t make sense narratively either. It doesn’t.

I’d like to say, “yeah, so I had to read a really horrible, uncomfortable sex scene between 6 kids, but at least it made sense in terms of the plot development” BUT IT FUCKING DOESN’T. It’s some shoehorned attempt by Beverly (a fictional character) to bring her and her friends back together so they can stay strong and get out of the sewers blah blah blah something minor about friendship in the face of adversary.

To bring the whole group together she must have sex with each individual boy. Even if sex does somehow bring eleven year olds together (why would it), shouldn’t all of the kids have sex with each other, not just Beverly? I know this is horrible, and obviously I much rather advocate for NO CHILD SEX SCENES AT ALL, but shouldn’t the connection be between all of them not just Beverly? I mean, despite her being the only female, there’s really nothing else that makes her important enough to be the vessel through which they all ~become closer~. Unless vaginas + 5 different boys semen = cauldron and potions and some kind of sorcery.

Whatever. It’s fucked up and I wanna know how we’ve all just ignored this for the past 30 years. Why have I never heard anyone mention the child orgy before? The clown almost seems secondary to me.

What pisses me off most about this book is that it could be really good. It could be fucking fantastic. If Stephen King hadn’t messed around with so much other shit.

So anyway, I’ve just spent 700 words on how shit the book is – but what about the new movie? God I hate that I go on these tangents.

Anyway.

This movie is fantastic because it utterly ignores all of the above. ALL of the above. In fact, I’m pretty firmly in the belief that the people who made it never read the book. Oh you sweet summer children I’m so glad you didn’t.

The movie also understands one fundamental thing that Stephen King never has – nor probably ever will.

The reason ‘It’ has become a cult classic is not because it’s written well, or because it has strong motifs, or the characters are so amazing, or anything.

The reason ‘It’ has become a best seller, and garnered not one but two film adaptions within 30 years is this: a clown in the sewers of small towns who eats children is fucking terrifying.

Stephen King doesn’t realise this. Which is why he makes his clown also a spider but also a giant conceptual beast from the macro-verse.

The reason ‘It’ still brings excitement, hype, and cultish interest is because it’s a fucking cool concept – as long as we all ignore all of the other shit that makes it disturbing in a way you don’t actually want horrors to be disturbing.

Yes, the film definitely wasn’t perfect. It had some pretty bad editing at times, some of the kid actors weren’t great (I won’t hold it against the kids, but the actor who played Ben wasn’t quite up for the role, and REALLY not up for the role of stealing the Historian storyline from the one black character). There’s also the fact that it wanted to dwell on kids in underwear, failed to acknowledge the storylines around racism and sexism, and basically glossed over all of the characterisations and relationships between the kids (good and bad).

So yeah, it was your average horror film – but there were some good bits too!

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Richie Tozier is a standout for me. Finn Wolfhard proves himself again and again to be leagues ahead of other child actors right now, and his dialogue was written flawlessly. Truly flawlessly.

The clown was fucking terrifying. Bill Skarsgard does a fantastic job, and the fast, manic running forwards and the gruesome eyerolls were a fantastic addition that really could not have been played off as successfully in written form.

The explanation of the ‘floating’ motif was fantastic if only because that is hardly EVER explained or justified in the book, and is at least attempted in the film.

Oh, and there was no fucking child orgy so props for that tbh.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far then you deserve a fucking red balloon because I’ve rambled too long. So tell me your thoughts. What did you think of the film? Have you read the book? Did you like either? Do you think child orgies are A-OK to have to read for 10 pages in extreme detail?

I’d love to know.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 – A Storm of Shortcuts

Game of Thrones season 7 was shorter than other seasons but…. Why? I’m literally asking, someone answer me.

I would really, really like to take this time to use the final characters of the Game of Thrones TV series to create allegories with politics, such as neo-liberalism, post-structuralism, environmentalism, constructivism – basically all of the –isms – but Vox actually already did THAT (and like, way better than I ever could have) so if my politics degree must go to waste, I might as well continue utilising my film one.

In the grand scheme of things, the one thing that everyone walks away from high school English or Media class with is the mantra “show don’t tell” – and I think this is a key point that might’ve been forgotten this season. Another key point was to pace things accordingly.

Yes, we are getting to the end of the show (thank the Gods), and so things are going to start coming to a head. Characters are going to finally meet, and people are going to finally die, the white walkers are finally going to descend on Westeros and blah blah blah blah all the rest of it. We all knew these things would happen – but I can’t help feeling like without the books to follow as a play by play to slow down the script, D&D are just taking all of the shortcuts they can to get to the end game.

There are a lot of examples of this I could pull from *cough* Night King gets a Dragon *cough* but the one I want to focus on is the Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen relationship. I’m being purely selfish but it’s because it was SUCH A BIG STORYLINE. We’d all been predicting that he was Aegon Targaryen from the start, and of course the name of the books are ‘A Song of ICE and FIRE’ (no subtlety here re: the Dany/Jon ba-doinka-doink) – but the reveals felt shoehorned and absolutely not as satisfying as I’d hoped.

For starters – the initial “reveal” (in quotations because we all bloody knew it by then) was overshadowed by mansplaining/manterruption. Gilly is learning to read and furthermore, reading one of the biggest game changers in Westeros – but D&D decided what that scene needed was Sam to interrupt her about some meaningless shit. You could argue that they were being coy, but I could then argue that it’s still a shit plot device. We’re getting to the nitty gritty of these storylines and I want maximum satisfaction with minimum mansplaining thank you very much.

My main issue? Jon having sex with Dany after what was (I can only assume) the course of like a week (because, another issue being, D&D are VERY unclear on timelines or how long anything can take e.g Gendry running back to the Wall and also how long the trips between the South and North are etc etc).

Jon’s whole thing is his honour, right? It pained him and took him FOREVER to get it on with Ygritte – and it ate him alive. Yes, he is no longer in the Nights Watch, so I guess technically he can have sexual intercourse with whoever he wants – but I firmly believe he would still not do it so quickly. There would be some painful conversations with himself about how they aren’t married, and how he would be tarnishing her honour, and what would this mean for his position and her political plans, and how would the enemy take it, and how would this look to the people of Westeros and – how they’re not married. He wouldn’t want to bring another bastard into this world.

But like with Sansa, and the Night King, and Sam, and Arya, and Little Finger, and Bran, and whoever else I’m forgetting – Jon’s character is secondary to shock value and cheap thrills. But what’s new there right? It’s what D&D do best.

So yeah, if we can all agree that D&D sped things up for no good reason – can we start asking why?

It’s not as though they don’t have the budget for it. Many shows speed up plotlines that might otherwise have naturally run their course because of budget issues, but I think we can all recognise what a behemoth Game of Thrones is at this point enough to agree that budget has nothing to do with it.

It’s also not as though they don’t have the time – this season was only 7 episodes long, almost half the length that the other seasons were. Those extra few episodes could’ve made a world of difference in these plotlines, and given the characters the development and pacing they deserve.

So why? I’m literally asking, because apparently HBO wanted 10+ seasons, so the only thing I can think of is that D&D are unable to manage running a show that doesn’t have comprehensive books to follow and are too lazy to give a damn.

But seriously – I hate this show and wish they would pretty much put me out of my misery (or release ‘Winds of Winter’), but at this point I still wish they wouldn’t cut corners. So if anyone knows why they are taking so many shortcuts PLEASE tell me I’m so confused.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – a review of sorts, and a Harry Potter film of sorts

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – a review of a HP film which was pleasant, but occasionally missed the mark.

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – a review of sorts – yes, that’s as creative as I could manage to get with this title, and actually quite indicative of how I feel about the film. Oh no! That sounds like I’m going to say bad things! I’m not – mostly – so don’t fear!

That being said, I will start off as spoiler-free as I can, but inevitably will have to give you a spoiler warning. It’s not possible for me otherwise.

Ok. Spoiler-free portion. Here we go.

This was a really well-made film, with some highly skilled actors, that situated itself quite successfully within already laid out Harry Potter canon and film universe. In saying this, it didn’t speak profoundly to my soul, or have the degree of creative flair in its storyline that previous Harry Potter films (books) had.

I want to be fair however. This can’t be viewed through the lens we might have viewed the previous 8 films. Those had books to support them, and for the most part, this worked in their favour. There are a lot of complexities within the Harry Potter universe, ones that aren’t easily conveyed in a 120 minute feature film, and without those books to back it up, Fantastic Beasts ended up falling a little flat on certain storylines and concepts that I can feel certain in believing would have been incredible in the books.

On a similar strain, the canon also went a bit wonky as well. There were definitely concepts and magicky things that I felt (should they exist) would almost definitely have cropped up and been significant in the original films/books.

But don’t freak out! These factors didn’t create a terrible film!

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

Nothing is going to be perfect (I would die before saying I enjoyed the film adaption of HBP) and altogether this was a Fantastic (pun intended) film that I enjoyed immensely!

The beasts were simply amazing. They were creative, loveable, slightly frightening, and captivating all in one sweep – I only wish there had been more.

My favourite part of the film however, was two characters in particular, and from here, I will announce, you will be reading SPOILERS, so continue at your own risk.

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

I wasn’t expecting this, and certainly when first introduced to their characters I wasn’t too impressed, but by the end I was head over heels for both Jacob Kowalski, and Queenie Goldstein. Blabbering buffoon of a short and stout white man, and an almost absurdly feminine white woman who can read minds (sorry, but am I the only one who doesn’t recall anyone having or mentioning this power in the original books or films????) seemed almost lazy. Oh, and then for them to have a romance ?

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

And yet, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was predictable, and yet they added some much needed personality into this film. Yes, there was Newt, a crazy, slightly deranged animal lover with a penchant for disregarding rules, but otherwise, everyone was rather uptight, and absolutely committed to a greater good, or cause.

Jacob and Queenie however, while good people, and absolutely committed to doing the right thing, were not on some great crusade, and they truly breathed some life into a rather bleak, and almost depressing film at times. They were silly, fun, affectionate, and wonderfully loyal to each other and the others in their group, it really was a beautiful pairing.

And yet, they could only carry the film so far, its storyline was, of course, not centred around them, but rather Newt, and the whirlwind of Muggle-Wizard conflict he found himself caught up in.

I’ll admit, the Muggle-Wizard conflict was a great storyline concept, as was the Obscurus (so sorry, no idea how it’s actually supposed to be spelt), and yet I could help but feel that they both were a) difficult to place within the existing canon that hadn’t mentioned them and b) underdeveloped. They could’ve been SUCH strong storylines, as could’ve the fantastic-beast-finding adventures, and yet because they were both placed within one movie, it felt like it wasn’t quite sure which one it found most important, and as a result, there was little real emphasis put on either.

However, my biggest issue was Grindelwald.

I had my suspicions that he would be in the film, and even that it all might come down to him, as he was rising to power around the time the film is set. And yet. It deviates from canon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought it was mentioned quite clearly in the books that his power trip never extended further than Europe?  So yeah, I understand that obviously he could’ve tried to enter North America and was eventually thwarted but that still places it rather strangely within canon.

Both because we know he will be stopped before rising to power in the US, so that takes the fear and intrigue out of it, but also because we know Dumbledore was the only one strong enough to stop him. So either Newt is just the appetiser for this film series, and we’ll be seeing more of Dumbledore come in (not opposed to this idea in the slightest), or we’re going to be deviating further from canon (opposed).

But.

My biggest problem with Grindelwalds’ presence is something else entirely.

Johnny Depp was absolutely the wrong person for the role.

Even if we ignore that Jamie Campbell Bower was already the actor for young Grindelwald in the Deathly Hallows, Johnny Depp simply doesn’t look the part.

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

Oh yes, they made him look frightening, with his bleached hair, and his mismatched contacts – Depp does unsettling quite well – he just didn’t seem like the kind of guy Albus Dumbledore could fall in love with or idolise. His face simply didn’t look “merry, wild” or with a Fred-and-George air about him at all. I’m sorry, but Depp’s face no longer conveys that, and their styling of him didn’t help the slightest.

A tattooed, Nazi-looking, 50yr old with a white-supremacist air certainly looks the part of someone who commits the acts Grindelwald did, but Grindelwald – much like Voldemort – was supposed to be attractive and charming, and this was anything but.

Oh. And it’s 1920’s New York. Where are all the African Americans? I know I should talk more about this, but I just genuinely do not feel qualified enough to do so, however if you’re interested in more about these, I could recommend this Tumblr post as a starting point.

Ok.

I’ve rambled enough.

If you don’t want to read all of this (understandably) I always put in a TL;DR at the end so you can get the gist.

TL;DR: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a perfectly enjoyable film, that sort of wasn’t sure where it was going at times, and with questionable casting choices, but nonetheless a great Harry Potter film, and one I look forward to watching again and again.

Also a great title sequence that I nearly shed an eye over.

fantastic beasts and where to find them - a review

The start of a redo

Welcome to the terror dome

Sorry.

WordPress has set me up with something called My First Post.

I hadn’t planned on writing a First Post, as I’d already done the whole “starting a new blog thing” on my initial Blogger account.

So here I am.

Starting anew here on WordPress, without the high hopes that I will actually start posting consistently this time.

Sorry.

Grease Live: Look at Me, I’m Sandra PC

Image source from jessiej.com

Alright, that title is probably a little scathing, but bear with me!!

Whenever I see a post that says something along the lines of “2015/6 is too PC! No one can say anything anymore!” I generally find myself doing an hour long eye roll. To me it sounds like some scrawny white dude sitting alone in his room with a Mountain Dew, complaining that he can’t call all women sluts and bitches, and everyone else some racist bullshit without getting called out on it anymore. But, in a twisted turn of events, I found myself saying the very same thing while watching Grease Live!

Image sourced from ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com

I know I’m starting this post on a bad note – and I have positive things to say about it, but honestly I just felt like this needed to be said, so I’m getting it over with.

Before you start wondering, no, my problem was NOT with them removing the line “all couples must be boy-girl only”. That line is obviously dated, so I’m glad they removed it, but then again? You know what is also dated? The line in ‘Summer Nights’ “did she put up a fight”. And yet, that line remained. So my eyebrows were raised. But no, my issue will never be with things going PC to accommodate the basic human rights to dance with your desired partner and to not get raped.

What my problem was, was the toning down of the teen sexuality. Most specifically, the changes to the song ‘Grease Lightnin’. In particular the line “chick’s will cream” was changed to “chicks will scream”, and “she’s a real pussy wagon” was changed to “she’s a real dream wagon”. WHAT? WHAT IS THIS SHIT? I get it, I get it. Blah, blah, blah “won’t someone think of the kids”. But honestly, when I was a kid I had no idea what the lyrics to any song were, and when I did, I had no idea what they meant. By the time I knew what it meant for a chick to “cream” I was damn well old enough to be shown that sort of thing. And anyway, what good was it when you still had the raunchy dancing and teen sex?

Image sourced from bustle.com

It doesn’t make me happier to know that it was because, according to Vanity Fair “corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola forced the show to tone down some of the language.” To what end anyway? If you want a family-friendly, Sandra Dee only show, maybe you should’ve picked a live rendition of The Wizard of Oz, or something else. The whole message of Grease is to discuss teenage sex and all that comes with it, there’s just no sense in doing away with it – especially when the themes are so inescapable.

But with all this negativity said and done, this wasn’t an overall bad experience. For instance, Jan, the character so often picked on for her “overeating” actually finally looks like a girl who eats Twinkies. Not to bag on the actress who played her the original Grease, but for a character who was always told she was fat and needed to diet, until now she had never actually looked like anything but super slim. More than that, but while she did have the odd comment thrown her way about her eating, and she made her own commentary on her weight, she also wasn’t thrown as much negativity as the original Jan. Now that’s a PC change I can get behind!

Now for the itty-bitty nitty-gritty – the performances. I would have to say, although I am a huge Aaron Tveit fan, there was little chance of him standing up to John Travolta, but I found the only issue I truly had with his performance, was of his lack of John Travolta pizzazz when it came to saying those classic lines. No one shouts/sings the name “SAAAAAANDY” or “why it could be… GREASE LIGHTNINNNN” like Travolta, and while it was disappointing that those pitchy lines were missing, I understand that they’re probably difficult, and even harder when performing live. Aaron… I forgive you.

Also while I’m on the subject of pizzazz and flair in performances – what was with having a singing trio instead of a Teen Angel? Those guys killed it, but really, why not just one of them playing the suave and sexy Teen Angel? My disappointment was real.

But here I am back to negativity! I’m sorry! I did like things! In particular Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, and Julianne Hough as Sandy. I felt Julianne played a spot on Sandy, and in fact, was very comparable to Olivia Newton-John. Vanessa’s Rizzo, I felt was a little more downplayed to the original, but I liked it, and I liked that this character was so different to the last performance of hers I’ve seen – Gabriella from HSM.

One last honourable mention and then I’ll wrap this up – Jordan Fisher as Doody – I LOVE YOU!!!!

TL;DR: It’s PC, but not in the way you’d think, and has otherwise made some positive changes to dialogue and casting to move this story into the 21st Century, but this version will still never stand up to the original. Nevertheless, it was all good fun and worth the watch… Just don’t expect to be throwing out your original Grease VHS any time soon.

Sherlock and the Abominable Bride: The Game is Afoot and the Story’s on the Nose

Image sourced from myvue.com

First of all, I wish to clarify that while I was once a very, very big fan of BBC’s Sherlock, I no longer am. Not only was I getting rather sick of the racist and sexist undertones, and flat out pissed off at the ableist overtones, narratively speaking the third season was the equivalent of the big, bad, King of the Jungle lion spending his days licking his asshole (which is a fact of nature but still, nonetheless, a disappointment.) Because of this I was not exactly excited for the Sherlock holiday special, but I harboured enough interest in the 19th Century setting that I managed to watch it, in some ways I was impressed, in others I was less than surprised and found myself thinking about the lion analogy.

In saying all this, I might as well start with what I liked about the episode. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the use of filming techniques, particularly where they placed Holmes’ living room into the setting of Lestrade’s story about the bride.

I felt the use of camera movement, as well as the visual aspect of them being physically immersed in Lestrade’s story was done really well, and things like this are what BBC Sherlock is really good at doing – when it’s doing good. This is the same with the use of text on screen. One of the things BBC Sherlock does unlike any other, is employ text to read out text messages and the like – something not many others can say they’ve done successfully. As it turns out, this also works with things like telegrams, proof that taking a model made in the 19th Century, twisting it to fit the 21st Century, and then twisting it again back into the 19th Century, is not necessarily an impossible feat, and I have to say I was rather impressed.

Image sourced from everythingforasherlockfan.tumblr.com

 

 

I also really liked the rather on-the-nose fourth-wall acknowledgement in the episode. Moffat et al are clearly fully aware of the lack of spotlight for their female characters – or at the very least fully aware of the audiences awareness of this – and this was easy to see in the ways Mrs Hudson and Mary both made commentary on their own characters in the story. I found Mrs Hudson’s commentary on her lack of commentary in the narrative refreshing, and Mary’s commentary on her lack of involvement/necessity to the storyline much needed. Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived, because although the writers made these characters aware of the flaws in their writing, it soon become apparent that that was all they were going to do. I’m sorry, but simply nodding towards your flaws and acknowledging that you see them, is not quite the same as actually doing something to fix them.

As you can probably tell we’ve already moved on from the things I liked about the episode…

On the topic of women’s roles in the episode, and the greater BBC Sherlock universe, it is clear that Moffat et al are attempting some sort of change in, perhaps the audiences attitude towards sexism in the show? But certainly not the shows attitude towards sexism. I mean, first of all, the entire suffragette storyline was clunky and forced. Even from it’s first mention (Mary, seemingly random and out of the blue comment “I’m part of a campaign you know – votes for women.”) the whole narrative seemed like it was thrown in after the script had already been written. None of it seemed all that thought through, and it felt a bit like an attempt to appease those damned dirty, liberal hippie SJW’s. But even then it fell far short of that. The suffragette’s are literally seen in KKK hoods! What on earth was Moffat thinking? What on earth was anyone, on set or off, actually thinking when they let that happen? Insane. Utterly insane. The whole story just came off as a meninist who feels like the angry feminists are ruining his show but also his main demographic.

Another problem, in terms of representation, is something I see in almost every piece of work Moffat gets his hands on. Moffat’s heroes tend to take on certain traits of autism, such as the occasional (or in Sherlock’s case, the not so occasional) misunderstanding of social cues. Instead of using this to perhaps, create storylines for autism spectrum disorder audiences to relate to, or even improve representation, instead Moffat uses this to distance his heroes from the rest of the characters in an attempt to make the hero seem “abnormal”. Occasionally this is to make the hero look even more genius, but other times it is used to isolate the hero and make him dislikable to the audience. Either way, it’s really starting to get on my nerves, and it is a poor substitute for real representation of ASD. It’s offensive, it’s lazy, and it is unfortunately something that so many of the audience is enjoying.

Image sourced from xen0phile.tumblr.com

This is much the same for Sherlock’s technical alignment with asexuality, but narrative rejection of anything other than heterosexuality. Although it should be obvious to the audience, and definitely to someone categorised as a genius detective, that he is asexual, Moffat and almost every other past and present depiction of Sherlock Holmes continues to force down our throats the idea that he is a heterosexual manly man who only refuses sexual and romantic relationships because they “distract him.”

In saying this, I am no expert on those topics, and if you are truly interested in a proper discussion on them I would have to direct you elsewhere. Instead I’ll simply segway back into what I know best (or at least better) – TV and film.

Something I’ve heard many viewers complain about is the premise for the episode. Why on earth are they back in 19th Century England? And why would a mind palace work in that way? In some ways, I absolutely agree. Initially, I simply found the premise too obvious. I found myself hearing Sherlock mutter “. . .back of the head blown clean off. How could he survive?” and all I could think was “dammit. Of course this is all about Moriarty. Of course we can’t just have a fun, cracky episode set in the 19th Century because why not?” I understand it was because the writers needed a way to link this episode back to the main narrative of the last season and the future one, but I felt it was unnecessary. I’m a huge fan of cracky episodes, and in the end I was rather disappointed that this could hardly be categorised as one, and even then, after all that, they managed to not even solve Moriarty’s case. The entire hour and a half was just a teaser, an annoying teaser that need not have strayed towards the main narrative at all to be exciting, different, and captivating.

In the end, had it have been simple a crack holiday special where Watson and Holmes and all the characters found themselves in the 19th Century I would’ve been happy. I understand that because this show doesn’t involve itself with the supernatural or extraterrestrial that it may be hard to wrap your head around, but really, it was such a great idea but once the narrative began to move away from 19th Century England and back into the whole Moriarty conspiracy in the 21st Century I felt the success of the episode fall apart. It was no longer spooky, or different, or special, it was simply another narrative where we spent an hour inside Sherlock’s great, otherworldly, amazing, genius mind, and much like the rest of the characters in his mind, we simply had to sit there and let it all happen around us, with seemingly no reason behind any of it other than for the levels of Sherlock’s mind palace to circle jerk. Probably with Moffat.
 
 
TL;DR: Moffat is still a sexist, racist, abliest pig, but hey, he’s trying not to look like one ok guys? So can you filthy ess-jay-double-yewz stop like, bullying him?? Please?

The Force Awakens: the Good, the Bad, and the Nostalgic.

Image sourced from livetradingnews.com
Get your popcorn ready and settle into your X-Wing, because this is a franchise I will always have a hell of a lot to say about – and this is coming from the girl who talks more than the average person on any given day. Also, I should definitely mention – this post is not in any way, shape, or form, spoiler free. I repeat, this post is NOT (!!!!!) spoiler free, so please keep that in mind if you have yet to see the film.
 
I know you’re probably sick of hearing this from everyone right now – but I really have been a Star Wars fan my whole life. My parents are massive fans, and I simply was brought up with it. One of my strongest childhood memories was the feeling of dejection when leaving the cinema after Revenge of the Sith, I just couldn’t deal with the fact that Star Wars was now over. Forever. But huzzah!!! Disney bought the franchise, and one of the perks of the capitalist society we live in is sequels!!!
Image sourced from memegenerator.net

Whoever thought I’d see the day where I would rejoice in Disney buying out Lucasfilm? Probably me to be honest. I trust Disney more than I necessarily should do. Regardless, I was still hesitant about the new film. I may have had blind faith in Disney – but not in J.J Abrams. The most recent Star Trek film had left much to be desired in terms of positive representation for both women and POC, and I felt he would most likely do the same to a franchise which, unlike Star Trek, already has a terrible history of poor representation. Piss poor. But fortunately, I stand corrected. In saying all this, I was hardly surprised by the amount of positive representation in the film. The backlash against the lack of female or black characters in the original trilogy, and even the prequels was so immense, to ignore it now in 2015 would’ve been outrageous, and simply downright offensive. But even if this representation was only born from the backlash from previous episodes, it is nonetheless a thing that they fixed, and I’m overwhelmingly happy no matter the reason. It also shows that women do make great main characters, just like POC do, something which the scifi genre often has trouble realizing, and something it often needs reminding. ALSO on the topic of representation, but also not really, I loved seeing non-Jedi/non-force-strong characters using lightsabers. That shit can be used by anyone, and when in a situation like that, hell, I’d be picking it up too.

 
The characters themselves were so well-written there is simply no way people can argue against the use of minorities in scifi anymore, that is my firm belief. Poe was most definitely my favourite of the newcomers. I felt he made a great Star Wars character, one with the right amount of good looks and heart to make him a long standing character – a healthy mix between Hans’ dirty scoundrel good looks and Lukes’ stifling purity and spirituality. But yes, Oscar Isaacs’ stunning face was also a massive bonus for me, especially compared to how harsh his face (and character) was in Ex Machina (and just as a sidenote: he’s not simply a pretty face, and has a pretty good grasp on how to answer stupid questions about BB-8’s gender, although I still haven’t determined whether what he said was in jest, as Ex Machina has some fairly confusing things to say about gender, but that’s a whole other post on its own and I need to get out of this parenthesis.) Finn as well, I felt, was a fantastic character. Finally we get to see some depth in the stormtroopers, something I had been dying for since the glimpses we got in Clone Wars! He was hilarious, and his jokes stayed true to the light-hearted comedy of the original trilogy – something sorely missed in the sequels – and John Boyega played him almost flawlessly. And again, another newcomer who isn’t afraid to speak out on representation and racism. Basically, what I’m trying to say is –
Textpost: scatmancrothers.tumblr.com

Rey and BB-8 were also great newcomers, and I especially fell in love with BB-8. Initially I was afraid of BB becoming a JarJar type experience, but that didn’t happen. It was as if R2 had a child – a child whose body structure helped emphasise emotions wayyyy more. Basically, GIVE ME MORE BB.

 
The villain…. Well, it’s safe to say my emotions are mixed. Ordinarily, in any other film, this character and actor would’ve given me chills. He acted brilliantly, and his storyline was… Effective enough, but to me, he simply was not a Star Wars villain. Can we just start with his name? Ben? BEN??? I’m praying that is an abbreviation of a name (like Ben Kenobi was in A New Hope) because Ben is NOT a Star Wars name otherwise. And his villain name?? I suppose we’ll model him after Darth Vader almost to the T but not give him a Darth name? Kylo Ren is simply not formidable enough in my opinion, and dropping the Darth title wouldn’t have been my first choice. And then there was his face. I’m not being a dick, he has a great face for acting, and he’s not by any means ugly, he’s a gorgeous specimen, but all the build up they had of him being behind a mask? I felt there needed to be SOME reason behind the anticipation. I imagined either a well known actor, or someone who had an uncanny resemblance to either Han, Luke, or Anakin. SOMETHING to make hiding his face for so long be worth it. But it wasn’t just his face, it was his storyline. He’s a Skywalker’s son, he’s pulled towards the dark and the light, and he needs to kill an old mentor Jedi and a close relative before coming out on top. It’s just a little too familiar, there’s too much of Anakin’s storyline in him, and with his costume styling, well, it felt lazy. I understand that Vader was what MADE the franchise, but his story is done. I’m not complaining that they created a new series, I mean I’m so far up Star Wars ass at this point I’d pay thousands just to watch Luke pop a pimple, but really, we all know this is just a cash grab on Disney’s part, and it looks lazy if they try to draw more out of the Vader story. They should’ve taken a leap of faith like they did with Darth Maul, and create an entirely new character.
 
The plot, I felt, was just the same. Not only do we have an all new Darth Tantrum (as my friend nauticx so aptly put it,) we also have a whole new Death Star (albeit like, 5 million times bigger), a new hero(ine) with a strong connection to the force and an emotional connection to desert wastelands, a cute droid, and basically, characters that come together to form what we in 2015 would call #squadgoals. What I’m getting at is, I just paid $30 to watch A New Hope on the big screen at midnight, mere hours after I had watched it in my living room. Do I resent Disney for it? FUCK NO, I loved every minute of it!!!
 
The mis-en-scene as well, I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt it stayed true to the original trilogy in subtle, yet effective, ways that the prequels simply didn’t. The planets were beautiful, yet understated. The prequels tried too hard to always outdo itself with how stunning the settings were, with Naboo in particular, so much that it failed to understand the simple beauty the originals found in Tattooine, and the Forest Moon of Endor. Those planets (and forest moons) were stunning in ways that CGI need not tamper with, and The Force Awakens returns to that frame of mind. The scene where Rey is gliding down a sand dune is gorgeous in its vastness and its simplicity, and I have nothing but respect for that. The colour palette as well, I felt, was another subtle way The Force Awakens nodded to its original roots. The prequels featured so many bright oranges, red hues, and just an implosion of colours, but the original Star Wars colour palette was far more neutral and natural, with the occasional blue overtone, and The Force Awakens not only recognised that, but replicated it. No outrageous costuming or sunsets here, just a whole lot of black, white, and sand, the only pops of colour being the lightsabers, and the occasional orange jumpsuit.
 
The CGI however, now I have another bone to pick here, but it wasn’t up to par like I thought it would be. There had been so much hullabaloo about how this film was going back to its practical effects roots and ?? to what effect? I felt I saw little enough practical effects, and just in general, fuck all aliens. The film was predominantly humanoid, which, is normal for the main characters, but for minor characters there were very few, and you didn’t get an intro into entire species like you did with, say, the Ewoks. And the aliens we DID get an intro into, such as Maz Kanata (who I didn’t realise was played by Lupita Nyong’o, which is cool) and the alien monsters we see in Han and Chewie’s ship, just didn’t LOOK like Star Wars aliens. Something about their designs just didn’t stand up. I was saddened to see the lack of puppety aliens that were so frequent in the OT, and really what made them so special. I’m all for new designs, but this is a tried and true franchise and in this case I feel it’s best to stick to what you know – although the presence of Admiral Akbar was overwhelmingly welcome for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I mean with the CGI is that there was too much of it. I understand fully that they need to cater to an audience who is accustomed to high-quality animation these days, and I harbor no illusions about my own partiality to well-done effects, however this franchise made it’s beginnings because of its practical effects, and with the improvements we’ve made today – what with WETA workshops work on countless other successful franchises, as well as personal franchise achievements and additions to museum exhibitions – I feel it would not be petulant of me to expect, not just MORE aliens, but ones that are practical instead of CGI. It’s about a balance between welcoming the new technology of today, and respecting the roots that got you here in the first place. The presence of X-Wing fighters took the load off though. There was so much of the old mixed in with the new, that I’m willing to let a lot of the CGI slide, despite the rambling rant you just read – if you’ve made it this far that is.
 
     I know I’ve complained a lot, and I truly did love it, and I’ve noticed all other reviews on it have been overwhelmingly good, but I just didn’t walk out feeling as gung-ho as everyone else. I’m no Star Wars expert. I’ve loved it my whole life, but I will never claim to be the last word on it, so I’m not saying you need to agree with everything I’ve said, but I’m so used to walking out of films I’ve anticipated for so long feeling overwhelmingly satisfied, no matter how shit everyone else thought it was, and for the first time that didn’t happen. Even if I’ve written all of this sounding unnecessarily sullen, I promise you, I’m still going to watch it in cinemas at least a dozen more times, and there are a number of things I simply can’t fault. The Millenium Falcon reveal was perfect. The C3PO reveal was perfect. The jokes were perfect. The use of music was fantastic – there was enough use of the original scores updated with new music that it felt organic, and perfect for this 2015 updated film.
 
     The ending, in particular, I cannot flaw. Seeing Luke there, solitary but always so spiritual, I was screaming from excitement inside. That face is not a face I could easily forget, and certainly not one that will ever cease to create a feeling of excitement in me. His absence in the film was the most interesting part for me, the storyline I enjoyed the most, and honestly, just seeing Luke turn to Rey, as they looked so similar, yet so different, I felt an unwavering sense of (new) hope for the franchise – one that won’t hesitate in the future to open casting to people of all walks of life, and perhaps in the future, more aliens too (please, I’m dying for a Twi’lek.)
 
TL;DR: the practical effects weren’t up to my (high) standards, and the plot was simply a New Hope repeat, but overall, I had a great time, and all the amazing new characters made up for anything I could possibly have disliked.
I also realise I haven’t mentioned Leia/Carrie Fisher once, and I’m sorry about that, because I love her like I’ve never loved another, but there really isn’t too much to say about her presence in the film other than how much I adored her relationship with Rey.
 
     I’m  still going to give it a 10/10 though, because I’m always a slut for Star Wars.