Us – Reaction Post

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Yesterday, I went to see Us. Normally I don’t go in for horror and it’s kinda out of season but after sleeping on Get Out I knew I had to see Us in the theater.

I left the theater feeling unsettled. I walked outside and around the side of the theater into bright sunlight to record some quick thoughts. I accidentally ended up standing in front of the Us movie poster while recording. When I got back inside I was still feeling off. I didn’t really recover until the pre-roll for Shazam started an hour later. If I hadn’t gone to see Shazam, I don’t know how long it might have taken for me to recover.

Despite ending the film unsettled there were a few scenes that made me laugh. There was a tumblr post about how Jordan Peele has made the transition from comedy to horror. It pointed out that humor and horror are about building tension and the difference is how you release that tension. You can see this in many Key & Peele sketches that zig-zag between the two.

In Us, the bits of comedy never took away from the horror. The film didn’t linger in the comedy; it hit those beats and continued on. I do wonder if the comedy didn’t enhance the horror. Did those fleeting moments of mirth provide needed contrast to the near constant dread?

Some elements of the film, doppelgangers or clones, memories, personhood, are things that I often think about. I’ve touched upon them in some of my writing but not in a horror format. In a way, this film was made to scare me.

Rating 5/5

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I just read Paper Girls and so should you

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Paper Girls is a comic series written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Cliff Chiang.

Go read Paper Girls right now. Don’t stop to read a preview or synopsis. Just go right now.

I somehow decided to read this series, without knowing anything about it beforehand, over the past couple of days. One of my podcasts just did an episode on it, which I haven’t listen to, but I don’t think that was the actual cause. I must have seen the name somewhere else as well but again without finding out anything about the plot or characters. It feels like my mind was wiped after I was convinced to read the series.

The titular paper girls are four teenage girls who deliver newspapers. The year is 1988. Something Strange happens to them. #scifi #surreal #mind bending

Early Spoiler: #time travel

Plot: Okay so the four girls end up on a time-traveling adventure due to two time-traveling factions from the future.

The time travel element is super well written. There are three or four timelines weaving among themselves that we see from the perspective of the paper girls as they try to get home.

There are knights riding pterodactyls. Clones. Lots of time travel movie references. Surreal dreams. Interesting looks at 2016 and 2000 from a 1988 perspective. Lot’s of good ‘80s nostalgia and perspective. Overall the series is a metaphor for current vs future generations conflict.

The girls are so great. Diverse racial, religion-wise, and sexually. They’re smart and brave and care for each other and stick together.

Listen you may be thinking by now this sounds like “Stranger Things with girls” and you’ll probably be thinking that until issue five when the time travel shenanigans things really start to kick off. That’s when you will realize Stranger Things is “Paper Girls with boys but not as good”. Stranger Things wishes it was half as good as Paper Girls.

I just flipped back through the first few issues to write the previous paragraph and I saw things that connect to stuff in like issue 25-26. I’ve only just binged the series. I didn’t even try to decipher the future language (there’s a partial key in issue 15ish) that is used throughout the series. There are layers to this story that I haven’t started to peel.

I don’t know why you’re still read this go read Paper Girls. Issues 1-27 are out now and the series ends with issue 30 so now is a pretty good time to get caught up.

And here’s a little taste of issue 1 under the cut:

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Gillian Reviews Captain Marvel (Spoiler Free)

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Something I’ve tried to do over the years is to let go of my expectations when I see a movie. It’s hard to do this at times and today I failed a little bit. I let the hype of “The First Woman Led” Marvel movie get to me. I felt a little underwhelmed by the final fight but I realized I was expecting an earth-shattering battle when that wasn’t what the movie was building to or made sense in the MCU history.

Also, this time between Infinity War and Endgame has been full of anticipation for the conclusion of the story started in Infinity War. A lot of people, myself including, are desperate for any hint of what is coming. Captain Marvel is not Avengers 3.5 nor is it the super secret history of the MCU.

Captain Marvel is not the greatest Marvel movie and it shouldn’t have to be. It is a fun movie that introduces a character we could (should) have met years ago. It has great acting and a good story. And it has Goose the cat. Brie Larson emotes in subtle but powerful ways. Samuel L. Jackson brings a bit of humor as her sidekick.

I liked the ’90s setting and didn’t feel like it was forced or over the top. There was one scene that is set to a certain song that is very on the nose but it plays almost in the background. I would have liked to hear the song blasted over the action instead.

The CGI de-aging of Fury and Coulson looked good but I do have mild faceblindness however I have heard other reviewers also say they looked fine.

One final thing. As the Marvel logo began to play, I was internally wishing they would do the older style Marvel Studios logo with images from the character’s comics. Then I saw this was not the new standard logo. Instead of characters from the MCU movies, images of Stan Lee began popping up along with clips of his movie cameos. And then it ended with a simple “Thank you, Stan.” Nearly got my waterworks going. His actual cameo in the movie is inspired but I won’t spoil it.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Umbrella Academy Episodes 6 & 7 Thoughts

Quick review:

I watched ep6 “The Day That Wasn’t” and then rolled right into ep7 “The Day That Was”. These two episodes should be seen together. They compliment each other perfectly.

I have a feeling that some people aren’t going to like them or suggest that they should have been cut down to one episode. I haven’t looked up reviews or recaps of any of the episodes so I don’t know yet. I tend to like the oddball episodes like these two. I also liked the episode of Stranger Things in season two where Eleven has a side adventure.

Spoiler thoughts under the read more:

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“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Five Thoughts

I’ve been putting off watching this episode until I could also devote time to writing up a review. I’m going to work on finishing up the season fairly soon.

Quick Review:

Episode Five, the halfway mark of the season but it doesn’t feel like the end of an arc. I guess from watching the Netflix Marvel shows I was expecting something big to happen and change the status quo. There was a big confrontation between the bad guys and the good guys, main plot threads converged, and some secrets were hinted at but it isn’t the sudden big change that happens in a lot of other shows at the mid-season. Everything that happened has been slowly been building over the last five episodes like a well-made rube goldberg machine.

This is my favorite episode so far because events are paying off in satisfying manners.

Spoiler thoughts under the read more:

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“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Four Thoughts

Quick review:

Separate plotlines are beginning to bump into each other. More backstory reveals for Luther and Klaus. Overall I like the way backstory is being rationed out as each character moves in and out of the spotlight. Some might find it frustrating though.

We’re almost halfway through the season and I feel like the pacing of the plot has been slow but steady. There haven’t been any episodes yet that I would skip on a rewatch.

Spoiler thoughts under the read more:

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“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Two Thoughts

So, I think I’m going to try to write up one of these “thoughts” posts for each episode as I watch each one. I tried to be non-spoiler for the first one but starting with this one I’ll give a quick review of the episode and then spoilers for the episode and comics will be behind a read more.

Great second episode. It cemented the idea that I may know the story but I don’t know what is coming next. More good character moments between the Academy members. Pogo, despite being a talking monkey, brings a lot of gravitas to the scenes he’s in.

Rating: Honestly they’re all going to be in the 4/5-5/5 range unless the series makes a serious misstep.

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“The Umbrella Academy” Episode 1 Thoughts

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I’ve watched the first episode and so far I like the show. The Netflix series seems to be going for a mostly straight deconstruction of the teen superhero group and dropping a lot of the absurdist scifi elements from the comic. This isn’t a bad thing just different.

The chronology of this first episode pulls events from as far the fourth issue of the comic. So anyone looking for a one to one recreation should turn away now. It doesn’t feel out of order and until I checked the comic I thought it might have only been from the first two issues. Personally, I’m looking forward to more scenes that aren’t in the comic. While the comic is a fun read it’s a little shallow on character development. With ten episodes I hope to see more into what makes these people tick.

One large change is Vanya, the seventh child, looks to have more interactions with the rest of the Academy. On my recent reread of the first volume of the comic, which this first season seems to be based on, I noticed she barely says two sentences to Diego before she goes to SPOILER and SPOILER happens. It makes sense that if you cast Ellen Page in a role that you give her more to work with.

A welcome change is we are given brief introductions with character names for all the grown children. In the comic, names are rationed out at one or two an issue. Yes, this is realistic in regards to speech patterns but terrible when trying to keep several characters straight in your mind.

Mild spoiler: Another character(one that I have wanted to see more of) that was mostly absent from the comic appears in the first episode and might get more appearances in the rest of the series.

Rating for this first episode: 4.5/5

Bird Box Quick Review/Thoughts

I just finished watching Bird Box on Netflix. I liked it with a few caveats that would be mild spoilers that I’ll talk about at the end.

The movie is about a woman, Sandra Bullock, and the young children living in a post-apocalyptic world trying to make a journey to a safe haven. Through flashbacks, we learn what happened to the world and how the woman ended up where she is.

Content warnings for suicide, blood, implied and mild gore, close-ups of eyes, imaginary voices.

I found the movie to be very tense and unsettling. More thriller/suspense end of the horror spectrum than shock/gore. I’m not normally a horror fan because most end up in high in shock/gore which I don’t like. Suspense horror pushes my fear/anxiety buttons in a way I do like. The payoff isn’t the point. Not knowing what but knowing something is out there.

Bird Box pushed those buttons in the best ways.

Rating 4/5

Spoilers in the read more.

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