MCU mini-marathon

Mar. 25th, 2017 06:34 pm
scaramouche: Captain America's shield & Iron Man's arc reactor; Civil War artwork (steve+tony)
[personal profile] scaramouche
Still in a Steve/Tony high, I decided to have an MCU mini-marathon with The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. It was most fun. Some conclusions:
  • The Avengers is more nerve-wracking in rewatch, knowing that SHIELD is actually Hydra part deux. Just about everything to do with or done by SHIELD made me anxious.

  • The action in The Avengers isn't... shot very well. Age of Ultron, despite having more CGI weirdness, is far more dynamic and physics-heavy. On the flipside, The Avengers as a whole is continuously exciting and engaging, while I found myself mentally checking out of some quieter scenes of Age of Ultron. As for Civil War, it feels emotionally tight in a way that the other two films simply don't, and the hand-to-hand combat is also excellent, but the airport fight goes on way too long in rewatch.

  • There is something to be said for the opinion I'd seen on the interwebs that Age of Ultron works really well as an immediate follow-up to The Avengers, i.e. if you pretend that Iron Man 3 never happened. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier less so, because there's at least some consequences from that movie brought forward.) Which is a bummer, because I love Iron Man 3.

  • Considering I just read a book about meteoroids and global-level extinctions, Ultron's plan is even more ridiculous. I mean, sure, superhero-movie physics, but eh.

  • Steve's dialogue improves DRAMATICALLY between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. How much of that was Steve's The Avengers PTSD getting lost to the cutting room floor, and how much was it due to Steve's snarkiness being highlighted in The Winter Soldier, which might've influenced the writing for Age of Ultron? Don't even get me started with Steve's costume in The Avengers.

  • Natasha and Thor are hilarious, and although I can understand them being flattened a lot in fic that's focused on other characters, it's still a damn shame that it happens.

  • Look, Steve is my fav, but the thing that bugged me the most about his POV in Civil War is that he presented no alternatives to signing the Accords. He was just a wall, and made no effort to bridge the divide. I can buy that being part and parcel of the character, but let's just say that I know enough walls like that in real life that I get stressed as hell seeing it in fiction.

  • The logic of the Accords continue to be shaky as hell (why... are they blaming damage caused by other parties on the Avengers) but I can buy this in a sense because the true endgame a la Zemo had nothing to do with the Accords itself. Though I am interested in seeing how the Accords play out in the following films, if at all.

  • All three films involve the core team being split apart by the bad guy. ALL THREE. It's weird as hell to watch back-to-back, and the only thing Civil War does differently is that it makes it permanent, while the previous two have the team getting back together for the sake of the battlefield, though without actually talking about it or having any emotionally honest team moments. Which, I guess, highlights how the team was volatile to begin with, and only really work as a team when they can focus on a common target. Fandom has wanked to hell and back about whether these guys really are friends instead of mini-cliques who work together by necessity, but I find it more interesting to look at it this way: Tony and Steve's first real emotional moments happen under the weight of the Accords, and later in Siberia in the worst possible circumstances. (They had a single, great banter scene at the end of Age of Ultron, but it felt like merely skimming the surface, especially compared to the connection between Tony and Bruce in The Avengers, plus Steve's with Sam and Nat in The Winter Soldier.) Extrapolating from that, Avengers: Infinity War would be a spectacular cap off for this cycle of films if it manages to present true, bona fide emotional team moments. No pressure.*

*I mean, I'd love it, though I know better than to pin my hopes on it.

It's just really egregious when watching the films back-to-back, how the team just head off for the final fight with Loki/Ultron without addressing the team conflict presented on-screen beforehand. The Avengers is less an issue because they're just starting out as a team, but Age of Ultron is really awkward -- they were literally beating the crap out of each other before Vision pops out and picks up Mjolnir.

I felt that Civil War does really well to address that emotional gap with dialogue that actually depicts familiarity between the members (the Steve & Tony argument just before Bucky gets triggered is so so SO different from their arguments in the first two films, with actual affection present between the lines) but, well... civil war, et cetera. Even the epic fight in the airport felt less stressful in a sense, because they were aiming to stop, not to hurt, whereas the fights in both Avengers films were very much targeting the soft, squishy bits of each other. Basically, after watching the first two Avengers I felt starved for more friendly interactions, but somehow after Civil War I wasn't as much, despite it ending on such open-ended heartbreak. Which is food for thought, I guess.

While I was about halfway through Civil War, my father came in and decided to join me. He'd never seen it before, and he hasn't seen Age of Ultron either, but he seemed to be able to follow it well enough, and was really into it until he realized what was going on and said, appalled, "They're fighting each other?"

Plus, once the reveal with the 1991 accident happened, he said flatly: "Well, that's difficult."

Yes. Yes, it is.
scaramouche: Anna from Supernatural in cartoon form (spn: anna cartoon)
[personal profile] scaramouche
During some link-hopping I discovered that, despite Disney tentatively doing a live-action film of their The Little Mermaid, and there being a film adaptation with Shirley MacLaine coming out this year, another indie film managed to leapfrog both for a 2016 release and became, officially, the first English-language live-action feature film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.

(It's true. Despite the book coming out in the 19th century, all the prior adaptations have been animated, live-action for television, or in languages other than English.)

Last night I watched this 2016 film, which stars Rosie Mac as the little mermaid, and can say quite reasonably that the only thing this film has going for it is that it that was made quickly enough to get that First English-Language Live-Action Film Adaptation moniker. Its worst fault isn't that it looks like it was made for $100 dollars (of which $90 dollars was spent on the gorgeous mermaid tail that seen for maybe 30 seconds), or that the story is a cynical modern-day adaptation with very little wonder, or that the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Its worst fault is that it's boring.

I can forgive a lot if there's a decent idea somewhere in the center of any story, and although there were a few flashes of maybe-brilliance in this adaptation, it's just a slog to watch, and with very little charm. I didn't care about or understand any of the characters, and I had very little idea of what the story was trying to say. Plus it had that sense of look-how-edgy-we-are in having the little mermaid and her (first) prince having a one night stand that ends badly, and then the little mermaid being curious about sex toys and then becoming a burlesque dancer. I have very little patience for edgelord adaptations that don't retain any sense of magic, and not to mention that this makes it the third recent cynical adaptation for The Little Mermaid specifically, the others being Little From the Fish Shop and Charlotte's Song (which is more inspired-by instead of a straight adaptation, but still).

Still, I think in theory that I could have enjoyed a modern-day adaptation that takes a cold, hard look at the culture clash of a mute mermaid having to navigate our world, if only it weren't so damn dull and cheerless.

Red Sonja

Mar. 23rd, 2017 02:52 pm
scaramouche: Vocal Adrenaline glee club from Glee, with "Bring It" in text (glee bring it)
[personal profile] scaramouche
It's been literally months since I came back from my London trip, but my stack of new media sitting in the middle of the floor of my room has barely shrunk. In fact, it's grown a little, thanks to the bunch of stuff I've been buying lately post-Rogue One. I know I should just put everything away, but I really do want to consume the DVDs and music at least once before shelving them.

I tried to start up again by watching Red Sonja (the movie version, with Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold's Conan expy). I've wanted a decent DVD version for some time now, and had held off getting one back when DVDs were still exciting and getting decent extras, but it's been too long of a wait for a special edition of some sort so I caved and got a basic version if only so I have the movie at all.

I did a rewatch and MAN OH MAN I forgot how much this movie did for my younger self's id. It's so aggressively eighties, with its style and special effects and earnest dialogue and matte paintings, plus Sandahl Bergman (who plays Queen Gedren) had a particular vocal quality that had me flashing back to the English dubbing of various cartoons and European films that I grew up with. I don't know whether it's the way she speaks as Gedren, or how her voice was recorded or what, but it pings a very specific sensory memory, it was most disconcerting.

Fresh-faced Brigitte Nielsen was also a delight, with her awkwardness working as a plus in selling the character to me as a child, though perhaps it comes off differently if I'd watched the movie for the first time as an adult. I'd also forgotten how non-subtextual Gedren's interest in Sonja was -- somehow I'd convinced myself that it was something I made up but, nope! Gedren really does want Sonja, just as it sounds. Tremendous.

State of the Fannishness

Mar. 21st, 2017 11:43 am
scaramouche: Captain America's shield & Iron Man's arc reactor; Civil War artwork (steve+tony)
[personal profile] scaramouche
It's been a pretty weird week+ in general. Work's been intense thanks to a couple of deadlines converging, and I've only really been able to keep my head afloat (read: not getting too stressed out) thanks to lovely, lovely fandom. Though in this case, not the fandom that I thought it would be.

I'm still loving Rogue One, still have a WIP I hope to finish; still loving Dean/Cas (though it's a bit on the backburner) still hoping I can one finish up that other WIP. But it's not those fandoms.

Here's the process: a whole bunch of people added me on tumblr since Rogue One (like uhhh... I hope you guys like my random panfandom reblogging), and I added a few of them back because it's nice to have a little variety. One of the people I added happens to also be into Tony Stark in a big way, which means that I had a whole load of MCU and Marvel stuff back on my dash, when previously it had been sporadic.

Much like how seeing one piece of fanart had me falling into a Chirrut/Baze spiral, a couple of Steve/Tony gifsets had me spiraling back into Steve/Tony in a huge, huge, HUGE way, which I was not expecting and thought wouldn't happen again.

Recap: I honestly enjoyed Captain America: Civil War, but the fandom was a stressful place to be in at the time with all the partisan yelling at each other, which also bled into the fic. There was also a general feeling that the concept of Civil War in itself is flawed seeing as that Tony and Steve never had an epic friendship to begin with, and on top of that I personally never felt that the Avengers team worked as a team (unlike, say, the crew of Guardians of the Galaxy, who sold the dynamic wonderfully within a single film). All of that meant I disengaged from fannishly participating in general because, frankly, it just wasn't fun.

Fast-forward a year later, and I've somehow finally gotten a handle on MCU's Steve/Tony dynamics, and... it works for me. (They're cats. They're cats who spit and hiss at each other, and occasionally sit on each other, and sometimes stay within glaring distance of each other because they NEED the other one to see them, but mostly they're cats.) It really, really works for me, and the past week has been a feverish haze of binging on MCU fics on AO3 in between juggling board papers and financial proposals.

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