Transformers: The Last Knight Watch Log

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Originally posted on my Tumblr.

I’m watching Transformers: The Last Knight and I just want to scream at how ill-conceived this movie is.

***

I’m an hour and half in and I just remembered the movie started by introducing a kid sidekick, who had her own robot sidekick, that we last saw forty-five minutes ago. Anthony Hopkins is an absolute terror in this movie as he swings from distinguished gentleman to demented old man. Hot Rod has a FRENCH ACCENT FOR NO EXPLAINABLE REASON!! He also has a gun that slows down time. ALSO, the movie needs to decide if these robots bleed green blood or can just fall apart for comedic reasons.

One more thing before I continue this movie: if a character starts a sentence in one location he can not finish it in another. That is not how conversations work even in movies.

***

There is so much wrong with this movie but the worst part is it isn’t a complete movie. If Unicron had only been hinted at then it would have worked as a sequel hook. Until Cybertron arrived and started wrecking earth, Unicron felt like the pressing matter at hand. Also, was Cybertron draining power from Unicon? Did the good guys save Unicron? I’m unclear on that point and many other points. I am torn between wanting to know what ludicrous plot they were going to come up with in the next movie and wanting to scrub this and the previous three movies from my mind.

Rating 1/5

I am looking forward to the Bumblebee movie, which is not directed by Micheal Bay. The transformer designs look much better and hopefully it will be the start of a new series.

Short Random Movie Reviews

Originally posted on my Tumblr.


 

Ant-Man and The Wasp

I went to see the latest Marvel movie today and I really liked it. Like the previous movie, it’s comedy-action with a solid plot. The Wasp gets plenty of action scenes and never gets sidelined. I really liked Ghost, one of the main villains. The recent run of Marvel movies have had great villains like Vulture, Killmonger, and Hela. Ghost continues this trend of villains with understandable motivations.

Fyi: There is a scene after the diorama credits and then another at the end of the regular credits. The last end credits scene is entirely skippable, has no bearing on any other movies, and is not worth watching.

Rating 4/5


 

Monster Trucks

I just watched Monster Trucks, a movie about monster trucks that have literal monsters for engines. It’s a “kid and their monster” type of fun movie. Overall it’s a well made movie with a goofy concept. There aren’t any glaring plotholes and the minor ones can be ignored if you just want to have fun. The characters are pretty shallow but likable. Mostly white cast except for Danny Glover who appears in the beginning, disappears for the bulk of the movie, and then reappears for a couple of scenes near the end.

It’s not art but it was fun to watch once.

Rating: 2.5/5


 

Bright review

I just got done watching Bright on Netflix and I liked. The biggest praise I can give this movie is: it doesn’t get bogged down trying to explain two thousand years of alternate history with elves and orcs and pixies and dragons.

The world just is this urban fantasy and people live there. A centaur cop shows up in the background for like five seconds. A dragon flies through the clouds over LA. Orcs have block parties. Pixies are pest creatures like wasps. Nothing is explained in great detail but because the characters interact like their world is real, it makes sense.

Beyond that, it’s an action cop movie with Will Smith and an Orc. The race metaphor gets hit a little too hard at times. A couple of scenes feel like they linger so Will can ad lib a joke or two but it’s done with restraint.

Rating 4.5/5

Justice League Watch Log/Review

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Originally posted on my Tumblr as I watched the movie.

***

I’m just about to start watching the Justice League movie. Let’s see how bad this is.

***

I’m about halfway through the movie.

Cyborg’s storyline is kinda cool. I liked Barry Allen’s storyline when I saw it in the tv show. Also, they need to cool it with the Barry is horny for Diana “jokes”. Aquaman’s backstory is so ill-defined and so far in the background that if I didn’t know it already it wouldn’t make any sense. Atlantis and merpeople are just a thing now I guess. I don’t know what Diana’s storyline is except to fight and look sexy. Also, Diana has super speed too now I guess. Batman is Batman; so that’s ok.

The action isn’t really wowing me and the plot doesn’t feel super engaging. Maybe it’ll pick up in the second half now that the team is (mostly) together.

***

Yeah having the team together helped a lot. I wish there had just a little bit more of them interacting. Not for the movie to be longer but if they got together like twenty minutes sooner.

Diana’s story came into focus in the second half of the movie a little better. Something about coming out of the shadows and being a shining beacon of hope. We don’t really get to see her take charge of the team just hear about it while they save Batman.

Btw Bruce letting the Kent’s farm get foreclosed on makes no sense. You can not tell me that he wouldn’t have been keeping on eye on Martha Kent after getting her son, Clark Kent aka Superman, killed. At the very least he would have kept the mortgage paid up. That woman has lost everyone in her family. Bruce, my parents are dead, Wayne would not have let her lose the farm too.

That Russian family that briefly appears throughout the movie is obviously there to make the danger personal. Mostly I was confused about what was special about them in particular and later surprised that there were other civilians in the area as well.

Overall not as bad as I thought it would be.

Rating 3/5

Spoilery thoughts below. Continue reading

Random Doctor Who Reviews

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These are a couple of short reviews of Doctor Who episodes from the most recent series. Originally posted on my Tumblr.

My Beautiful Ghost Monument

I just watched the newest episode of Doctor Who. Fairly average Doctor Who episode but the ending, the Doctor reuniting with the Tradis, was marvelously heartfelt. The Doctor has a quick moment of gender confusion that felt very familiar to me as a trans woman. From the first episode, I loved that the Doctor being a woman was not presented as a problem or an issue to constantly commented on. I hope we get more passing (no pun) moments of “trans-ness” (for lack of a better word).

Rating 3.5/5


 

Doctor Who: Rosa Parks

So, I’m several weeks behind on Doctor Who but I’m getting caught up.

The “scifi bad guy” felt lacking in motivation besides being a racist from the future. The “current day bad guy”, aka white people, was horrifically realized without being over the top. The very matter of fact way they enforced segregation and their own “superiority” over black people felt the right kind of wrong.

Vinette Robinson, who played Rosa Parks in the episode, was great. Quiet but with steel bracing her every word. I am glad that the episode showed her as involved in the activism of the time and not just a tired woman.

I was struck by the similarities between the bus driver running off the bus to call the police and the continuing present-day trend of white people calling the police on black people for existing in what they perceive as white spaces.

Overall, I liked the episode but it is emotionally intense in a way that means I probably won’t watch it very often.

Rating 5/5

Gillian Reviews Venom

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Sunday night I went to see Venom after work. It was kind of a late showing, 9:15 pm, and I was debating with myself a good portion of the day. The trailers didn’t really grab me and combined with a general critic consensus of “it’s a bad movie” along with the handicap of being unconnected to Spider-Man, I had pretty much made up my mind not to see it.

Then I listened to a podcast review and heard something that piqued my interest. Near the end of the movie, Venom the symbiont admits he is a loser. He’s smaller than the other symbionts and can’t form as many different weapons as they can.

Forget the trailers; they’re straight up lying to you about Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiont’s relationship. Yes, Venom speaks with a deep gravely voice and yes he kills and eats people but he and Eddie have a much more equal relationship. You could even say it’s symbiotic. But seriously they bicker with each other like an old married couple and it’s kinda cute. The symbiont controlling and threatening Eddie never really happens in the actual movie.

Also, forget the comics because the absence of Spider-Man changes a lot of Eddie and Venom’s motivations and personalities. Surprisingly Venom without Spider-Man works fairly well. There are a few things that just carry over without much explanation, like his appearance and name. It’s never stated in the movie but the big white eyes are just what these symbionts look like. Also, his name, Venom, is just his name for no reason. These are minor things that I feel don’t break the movie.

The actual story is pretty straightforward with no real twists or turns which is fine for a super anti-hero movie. It’s not high art but it’s serviceable. The transition from second to third act is a little rough with some surprise motivations and character development but it’s still a thousand times better than Spider-Man 3. There is a mid-credits scene that sets up a sequel that I would be willing to watch.

I ended up enjoying the movie and will probably watch it again once it hits a streaming service. It is a departure from the comic character in many ways which may be a deal breaker for some people. This slightly new take on Venom was refreshing to me. It’s a new origin story for a familiar-ish character.

Rating 3.5/5

Gillian Reviews Power Rangers

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Power Rangers is the reboot movie of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tv series.  It presents a slightly darker and grittier version of the Power Rangers but not as dark and gritty as the “fan-made” short film that came out a couple years ago.

The plot is simple: a group of kids gain superpowers and must defeat the evil enemy.  While I liked most of the characters, they weren’t the characters I knew from the series.  They are present in name but with different backstories and character traits.  There’s a little shuffling of races to avoid matching with their ranger color and the cast ends up slightly more diverse because of it.

My main nitpick with the movie is that the five kids have no connection with each other or reason to work together until the film says they have to.  I rewatched the first episode of the tv series after watching the movie and I buy those kids as a superhero team more than the movie’s kids.  They’re all friends and supportive of each other and just nice kids.  I’ll admit the show is a little rough to watch twenty-four years later but the characters are the rock of that show.

On to the costumes.  I did not like the design of the armor.  I get they were trying to avoid referencing the tv spandex too much but the low rent, bio-techno, Iron-Man look isn’t good.  The color scheme is inconsistent across the armors with some having patches of white and others having shades of their primary color instead.  It’s a nitpick but it bothered me as a fan of the old show.

The zords were honestly hard to look at.  They looked like rejects from a Transformers movie.  The mastodon zord had six legs for some reason.  I did like that they had a chance to fight separately which they rarely did in the show.  The Megazord was something of a let down since it wasn’t made from combining the zords in Voltron-esque sequence and instead combined offscreen into a giant robot that looked like the five robots had been melted down and recast into a man shape.  Easily the most recognizable sequence from the show is the zords combining and it gets cut out and turned into a non-reveal since it was a foregone conclusion that they would be combining their zoids.  Another nitpick from a fan of the show.

In fact, lots of things bothered me about the movie as a fan of the show.  The movie is a fine superhero movie but is a below average Power Rangers movie. I will admit I came very close to tears during the emotional climax of the movie. The characters aren’t my Power Rangers but I’m in my late 30’s and the movie was aimed at a younger demographic.

Rating 2.5/5

Alien Covenant and Faceblindness

The other night I watched Alien Covenant with my roommate.  She hadn’t seen it before but I had seen it in the theater. This isn’t a review so beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

I wanted to write about my experience watching this movie as someone with faceblindness. Faceblindness is the inability or difficulty to recognize or remember faces.  My own faceblindness is fairly mild. While I can learn to recognize a person’s face it takes some time. A person I’ve just met is as easy for me to lose as a grain of sand on a beach. Unless I take note of some distinguishing feature or clothing item I could literally turn around and not recognize them when I turn back. Even after I know a person’s face, I mostly rely on hairstyle, clothing, and body shape to recognize them.

Alien: Covenant starts by reintroducing David, the robot from Prometheus, played by Michael Fassbender. After a short ominous scene with his creator, the film cuts to the spaceship Covenant, where we meet Walter, a different robot also played by Michael Fassbender. To my eyes, Walter looks like a different person. Fast-forward to after the Covenant’s crew has landed on an alien planet, been infected by alien spores, fought white pseudo aliens, blown up their landing ship, been rescued by David, and led to a destroyed city. David walks right past Walter and calls him ‘brother’. I still don’t recognize them as the same actor. I think David is calling Walter brother just because they were both robots.

Fast-forward past David cutting his hair to a similar style as Walter, to an extended scene of them interacting as David teaches Walter how to play a flute. They are literally face to face split screen Parent Trap style. I think “Hey they kind of look alike,” but I still don’t think they are the same actor. Walter has a bulky physique and wide face while David’s is slimmer and has a thin pointy face.

Fast-forward again this time to the two of them fighting. Wait are they the same actor? Then there is a cut away from the fight when it seems like Walter has won but we don’t see the killing blow. Later, Walter rejoins the other survivors but something about him is different. He still looks like Walter but there is a tiny voice in the back of my head saying “David has replaced Walter.” That’s nonsense of course. How is the movie going to explain it? Walter and David look nothing alike. Did David skin Walter? Maybe he downloaded himself into Walter. The action is really picking up at this point with an alien fight with a crane attached to a flying platform so I mostly ignore these thoughts. They kill the alien and get back to their ship in orbit.

Fast-forward past the final fight with the last alien to Walter putting the Heroine of the movie into hypersleep. She makes reference to the log cabin she was planning on building with her husband and he doesn’t react. As she begins to realize Walter is David, I see, like magic, Walter’s facial expression shift into one of David’s. I am now 95% sure David and Walter are the same actor. David does a final bit of creepy robot stuff and the credits roll. There in black and white, I see “David/Walter Michael Fassbender” and then finally I am sure they were the same actor.

TL;DR – I only suspected two characters, played by the same actor who were supose to look alike, were the same actor near the end of the movie and wasn’t sure until the credits.

Gillian Reviews Train to Busan

Just watched this and I loved it. It’s about a father and daughter who are traveling on a train when a zombie outbreak happens in South Korea and zombies get on the train.

The little girl nails her scenes. The suspense and action are great. The film is centered on the two but addition character give it an ensemble feel. One of the main themes of the film is saving yourself vs saving others and I love how they played it out.

It is a South Korean film so subtitle reading is required but well worth it.

Rating 5/5

 

Gillian Reviews Star Trek Discovery ep 1&2

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Star Trek: Discovery ep1 or Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part one

The opening credits are interesting. I like the mix of technical drawings and “strange new planets and new lifeforms” imagery.

As someone who grew up idolizing Spock and Data for their logical natures, I find Michael Burnham to be very interesting. Her logical nature overriding, but not eliminating, her emotions is what I had hoped to grow into as a child. She very obviously is not a human pretending to be a Vulcan but a human who was raised by Vulcans. Her overtly emotional response to the Klingons at first seemed in opposition to her “upbringing” but is fully in line with being a survivor of a Klingon attack as a child. Sarek even cautions her during their vip call to not let her past influence her decisions.

This first episode is very Burnham centric which makes sense because she is the main character but I don’t really feel like I got a read on any of the other characters. Except for Saru, Doug Jones’s character, the science officer. He is very good at sensing danger and death as we are reminded every time he speaks. Despite Burnham having served on the Shenzhou for seven years, I felt there was a sharp separation between her and the rest of the crew. I’ve stayed away from most spoilers but I know the Shenzhou does not survive episode two and Burnham is transferred to the Discovery. I don’t know if any other characters survive so this might just be to keep the audience from getting attached to temporary characters.

I don’t mind the new(old) look of the Klingons. Klingon history and government was not offered as an elective at my high school but there’s enough exposition to keep the plot running without bogging down the story. I do like the idea of the different “races” of Klingons.

Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part two

In this episode, we get a glimpse of Burnham seven years ago when she joined the Shenzhou crew. I’m a little confused about how some one who trained at the Vulcan Learning Center and Vulcan Science Academy just joins a Starfleet crew. Maybe they transferred her credits. Anyway we see her Vulcan upbringing did take quiet well but she has loosened up a bit in the last seven years.

Surprise, Burnham is carrying part of Sarek’s soul with her that lets them mind meld over light years and it’s never come up in the past seven years or anytime before that. This would have been a great season one reveal during Star Trek: Shenzhou.

Starfleet is thoroughly established as non-violent which I like.

I was not expecting the ending with Burnhan being court martial-ed and sentenced to life imprisonment. It’s going to be interesting to see how they justify making her first officer of the Discovery. I knew “something” happened, the Shenzhou was destroyed, and she ended up on the Discovery. I didn’t expect that “something” to be her committing mutiny.

Previous series and movies have kind of played a little loose with enforcing Starfleet regulations. As long as the hero saved the day any transgressions were swept under the rug or punished with a slap on the wrist. For example, Kirk and co. stole the Enterprise and blew it up during The Search for Spock and were punished in The Voyage Home by being assigned to the new Enterprise.

These two episodes are well crafted and fun to watch but I’m worried about how the rest of the season will(or won’t) flow with them. They set up a lot of Burnham’s character and the state of Klingon/Starfleet relations but I feel like that could have been revealed in episodes set on Discovery. The series is named after the Discovery so it seems like an odd choice to the start the story before the main character reaches the ship. I’m not saying I don’t like these episodes. Maybe it was important for us the audience to see the Shenzhou’s last mission before getting to Discovery. I will be watching the rest of the series.

Rating 4.5/5

Gillian Reviews Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Dreadnought by April Daniels is awesome. It’s about a trans girl superhero and it’s written by a trans woman.

The first chapter and a few others made me cry; it hits on a lot of things I felt as a closeted trans teenager.  April Daniels does not pull any punches about what it would be like to live with an abusive transphobic father. I didn’t have to deal with that myself because I came out a little later in life but some things still ring true. Like the way he says “son” and “boy” when we meetup. The quiet wishing that he would just accept me for who I am.

The superhero part of the story is funny and action packed but also real about how messed up being a superhero would be. It reminds me somewhat of “Soon I Will Be Invincible” by Austin Grossman on that front.

It’s a good book that hit me hard in the emotions. Be warned that it doesn’t shy away from the trauma trans girls live with.  Goddess, I want this to be a movie just to hear Danielle’s last line said out loud, “I’m transgender, and a lesbian, and I’m not ashamed of that.”

The sequel just came out today so I have another book to read right now.  Both books are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

Rating: 5/5