Friday, October 19, 2012

Hotel Transylvania

So, Molly and I decided that we would try our hand at a video review to prove that print is still a viable medium.

Here's a fun drinking game for watching the video:

*Whenever I say "um", take a drink.
*Whenever Molly gives a pregnant pause before responding, drink until she speaks.

Note: Reviews in a Box is not responsible for any cases of Alcohol Poisoning.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman

"Respect women." Words to live by if you don't want to get punched in the face by fat Italian Spiderman.

Alright, so we're doing something a little different for this review. Molly went to see "The Amazing Spiderman" without me, so I have no clue what the movie was like... well, other than all of the previews and trailers that gave away the entire story and plot. I'll be relying on her for the details.

But since I can't really review The Amazing Spiderman (actually, I can: It stinks. There was no need for a reboot other than for Universal to hold the property rights of the Spiderman license, so the movie really is nothing but a soulless movie cashgrab to hold a valuable property), I have instead to review something else. I will stay on theme and do a short review of "The Italian Spiderman".

Holy fuck! If you have not seen the Italian Spiderman, watch it. I will provide the links. It blows away any adaptation of Spiderman I have ever seen. Seriously. The Italian Spiderman is a chauvinistic, womanizing fat man who doesn't so much shoot people with webs as he does shoot them in the face with a shotgun. I will provide a couple of links, but it is definitely worth watching.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I will transcribe what we say and format it later.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think of the Amazing Spiderman?
Molly: That most stuff didn't pop out.
Chuckie: Did you see it in 3-D?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: Did you wear your glasses during the movie?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Through the whole thing?
Molly: Well, I took them off a couple of times. During the scary parts. Because one part a guy was turning into a scary monster.
Chuckie: Well, that might explain why things didn't pop out.
Molly: Yeah, but it looked like a monster trying to eat me.

Chuckie: Okay, but anyhow, did you like the movie?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: Now, I didn't see it. So can you tell me what happened in it?
Molly: Okay. (A very long pause.)
Chuckie: Um. Now?
Molly: First it started at commercials, like aways.
Chuckie: You mean movie previews?
Molly: Yeah. And, Daddy, I have a question.

Chuckie: Sure, Sweetie.
Molly: Why does the commercial always say "Buy your tickets on Fangdango."?
Chuckie: Well, my guess is that by ordering your tickets online ahead of time, the movie theaters have less of a crowd at the box office and therefore can hire fewer people. Also, the movie companies are happy because it gives preliminary numbers for their movies and the money goes to them even if the people end up not making it.
Molly: I like puppet puppy in the commercial. It's pink.

Chuckie: Okay, back to the movie. What happened after the commercials?
Molly: The movie started to start.

Chuckie: Okay...
Molly: I saw Spiderman and he wanted to hang out with a girl.
Chuckie: Was this before he was Spiderman and had the costume?
Molly: No. It wasn't Spiderman just like then. After his dad died, he started to be Spiderman. But he didn't have the black eye things. The next day he made them.

Chuckie: Okay. So, how did his dad die?
Molly: Since there was like a bad guy who had like... he gave him a soda and he killed his dad and he had a star on him. And that's when he started to become Spiderman. Wait, not his dad. It was his uncle. That's why I got confused. Because his uncle lived with him.
Chuckie: So, wait. The bad guy had a star on him or a scar?
Molly: STAR.
Chuckie: What kind of star?
Molly: I don't know. I can't remember.
Chuckie: What it a yellow star?
Molly: No.
Chuckie: That's good. Daddy would have been really confused if a Holocaust Jew killed Uncle Ben.
Molly: No, it was a Captain America star. Like you make a triangle with two lines like that. It wasn't colored in. But there was a black outline to draw it.

Chuckie: So he gave him a soda then killed him?
Molly: No. His dad. He gave Spiderman the soda. And he killed his grandpa. No dad. No uncle. I keep getting confused.

Chuckie: Okay. Why did he kill him though?
Molly: I don't know. Since's he a bad guy and a car keeper.
Chuckie: Car Keeper?
Molly: Like he steals cars. Like he's a bad guy.

Chuckie: Okay. So, after his uncle dies, then Peter Parker decides to be Spiderman?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: What did Spiderman do?
Molly: Saved people's lives. Shoot webs so people couldn't die. Because cars were going to fall and he shooted his web. And do you want to know why that happened? Because his teacher turned into a lizard. A giant lizard. I am not making this stuff up, Daddy.
Chuckie: Really?
Molly: Yeah. He used a kind of liquid. A science liquid. He was a scientist. A bad, bad scientist. Ask Grammy if you don't believe me. Or Mason. Besides, I was there and you weren't.

Chuckie: Okay, fine. So, what was the scientist lizard trying to do?
Molly: Trying to destroy Peter Parker.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: I don't know. I guess being a lizard messed with his mind. But I think he was secretly bad before he turned into a lizard.

Chuckie: So, you said that Spiderman was trying to hang out with a girl, right?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: Who was the girl?
Molly: I don't know. She had blonde hair and a ponytail. I don't know her name though.
Chuckie: Gwen?
Molly: Yeah! How do you know, Daddy?
Chuckie: Daddy used to read a lot of Spiderman comic books.
Molly: Can you give one to me?
Chuckie: I don't have them anymore, but maybe we can get a few for you.
Molly: Yay!

Chuckie: Anyhow, did Gwen find out that Peter Parker was really Spiderman in the movie?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: How did she react?
Molly: She was fine with it. But she was a little bit worried because her dad was a cop and he wanted to kill Spiderman.

Chuckie: Why did her dad want to kill Spiderman?
Molly: I don't know. Maybe because they thought he was being bad sometimes. But the police weren't doing their job and Spiderman was and he was mad. Spiderman shot a guy with web and I laughed because the police should have put handcuffs on him instead.

Chuckie: Okay. Wow. I think you probably got the relationships in the movie right. But what happened in the movie? What was the plot?
Molly: Plot? Can I talk about cots instead?
Chuckie: Uh.
Molly: A cot is something that you sleep on at school. Not your big school, but your little school. For naps when you aren't a schoolager.
Chuckie: Okay. Can we talk about the plot though?
Molly: COT!

Chuckie: Alright, fine. So, what happened to the lizard scientist at the end of the movie?
Molly: He turned back into a human.
Chuckie: How?
IMolly: don't know! There's a crazy liquid. Another science liquid, I guess. He's all about science. Oh, and the cop who tried to kill Spiderman died. He tried to save Spiderman, but he died. And people can change feelings in a movie. Don't ask me why, but they can.

Chuckie: Did the cop find out that Spiderman was Peter Parker?
Molly: Yeah. I think so. Maybe he took his mask off, or maybe he didn't. Maybe he did it when he wasn't on the movie screen and they were showing other stuff.
Chuckie: Well, that would be an important plot point to miss.
Molly: Cot point.

Chuckie: Fine. Anyhow, how would you rate the movie?
Molly: Good. Oh! Wait! Stars! Twenty four stars! "Out of how many?" you say.
Chuckie: Yeah. Out of how many?
Molly: I would've gaven it three. And moons. But nothing else today. Just stars and moons.

Chuckie: Alright. How many moons do you give it?
Molly: Um. Seven.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of Clown Vercury?
Chuckie: Clown Vercury?
Molly: Clown Vercury.
Chuckie: What is Vercury?
Molly: It's Vercruy.
Chuckie: Clown Vercury?
Molly: Yes, like the planet. Clown Vercury.
Chuckie: Mercury?
Molly: Oh! Yes. Mercury. Out of Clown Mercury.
Chuckie: What the hell is Clown Mercury?
Molly: I just thought of a Clown on Mercury.
Chuckie: So, seven moons out of Clown Mercury?
Molly: Mm-hm.

Chuckie: So, who do you think would like this movie, Pixie?
Molly: Um. I know that Mason will because he likes Spiderman.
Chuckie: Well, he went with you to see it, Sweetie. Did he like it?
Molly: Yeah, I think so. But he doesn't review movies.
Chuckie: Did he seem to like it?
Molly: I think.

Chuckie: Who else would like the movie?
Molly: Grammy and Pappy.

Chuckie: They went too. I meant what kind of people who haven't seen it yet. You know what, never mind, do you think I would like the movie, Sweetie?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Since I think you like Spiderman. And boys would usually like it.

Chuckie: But what do you think I would like most about the movie?
Molly: That Spiderman saved a little kid.

Chuckie: Do you think Mommy would like the movie?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Um, I think because you guys like superheroes. Like you like Captain America and Mommy likes Thor. And I thought maybe you guys could do a little mix up with the superheroes you liked.

Chuckie: Fair enough. What do you think Mommy would like most about the movie?
Molly: Um. That if she rented the movie, she could like it in three ways. She could have Spiderman and Thor on the same team. Or she could have Spiderman and Thor fight each other. Or should could have Spiderman have Thor's hammer.
Chuckie: Um. You know if you rent a movie, you can't change the story and plot like that though.
Molly: No. If you have a movie screen like Pop Pop has, you can do whatever you want on the movie. He makes the popcorn though. But Mommy could borrow his movie screen and do whatever she wanted on it.
Chuckie: No. Rented movies don't work like that. We couldn't take our movie of the Little Mermaid and put it on Pop Pop's movie screen and make her go into space.
Molly: Why would anybody want to do that? Make a mermaid go into outer space? That makes no sense.
Chuckie: That's irrelevant. The point is that you can't change it.
Molly: How about if nobody is on your team and nobody noticed. Like if you put it on a movie screen and nobody saw it. Then you wouldn't know what was happening on it and maybe it was like that.
Chuckie: Schrödinger's movie?
Molly: No, like two years ago.
Chuckie: What?
Molly: Like, you could... I nobody is working with you and you said that the movie was in the theaters and you were actually lying and then he said that was two years and they think that and they never saw it, so then, you'd just get away with it. And that's what I'm doing with Mommy's part.
Chuckie: I have no idea what you mean. Do you mean lie about the movie and say something happened, but didn't?
Molly: Yes. And then you could just get away with it.
Chuckie: So Mommy would like the movie if we told her that Spiderman and Thor were in it together?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: But then she couldn't ever see it or else she'll know we made it up.
Molly: But let's see if I can get away with that.

Chuckie: Alright. Anything else you'd like to say about the movie, Pixie?
Molly: Even though I gave it Clown Planet Mercury, it still wasn't in the show. So don't think that Clown Planet Mercury will be in it if you see it.

So, that's our review. I haven't seen it, but I can easily guess at the formulaic cash grab that is presented. I'm sure it's mildly entertaining in a popcorn movie kind of way, but probably nothing in the way of depth of "The Italian Spiderman". Molly liked it and remembered the plot a week after seeing it. If anything, I think this shows how simplistic the movie is since usually I have trouble having her remember stuff the day after seeing a movie.

I would give "The Amazing Spiderman" more credit if part way through the movie, they rebooted it and started the origin over again and replaced all of the actors without explanation. However, I didn't see it, so I don't know if that actually happened. So, instead, watch The Italian Spiderman.

Molly gives it twenty four out of three stars and seven moons out of Clown Mercury which is, actually, just a clown on Mercury. I think she also hits a very solid point with her comments on whether or not her mother would like the movie: If you don't see it and instead just pretend stuff that you like is in it, you will probably like the movie a lot better than if you saw it. I think this is probably the most true of a review she has ever written. Except the Clown Mercury part because what the fuck?

And for those interested, here is a link to the first episode of the Italian Spiderman. It is worth watching and you can follow the links through youtube for the rest of the episodes:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Katy Perry: Part of Me

The Doctor's deadliest foes.

Dear Future Molly,

Part of why I have enjoyed writing these review with you is that I think it will be a fun thing for you to look back upon when you are older. You can see how fun you were as a little kid and hopefully you can see the fun I had with you when you read these reviews when you are older.

That being said, I took you to see Katy Perry: Part of Me today. I took you because Mommy did not want to see it, despite you playing tons of Katy Perry songs on your computer for her. After each song, you would ask her, "Did you know that Katy Perry" did this song? And when Mommy would feign surprise, you would then ask, "So do you want to see the movie now?" Mommy's answer was always no.

As a result, I decided that I would take you to see the movie. I only tell you all of this, Future Molly, because this the standard by which each and all of the Father's Day presents I receive from you from this point on will be judged.

Just thought that you should be aware.



I was not looking forward to the movie, but actually, it wasn't that bad. I'm still not exactly what you would call a Katy Perry fanatic, but the movie was surprisingly entertaining and interesting enough.

Essentially the movie follows Katy Perry around for a yearlong tour and you see some stuff on stage, interspersed with backstage stuff as well as interviews with families and friends of Katy Perry. The end result is a movie that has a somewhat inspirational message for young girls to be themselves. Considering the fact that these messages are few and far between these days, I have to say that I admire it for that.

Basically, it's more than a concert footage film, but less than a real in-depth bio pic. But ultimately, if you're a Katy Perry fan, it's fun. And if you're ambivalent toward her music, but have a kid who is a Katy Perry fan, it's worth taking them to just to see how they enjoy it and to share something with them. Even if it forces you to be unsure of how to react when your five-year old daughter hops out of her seat and points at the screen to sing along, singing out, "I want to see your Peacock-cock-cock!"

Molly: (As, usual Molly is next to me as I type this on the computer. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I will transcribe what we say and format it later.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think of the movie "Katy Perry: Part of Me"?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: That she had one of my dance recital songs in it.
Chuckie: "Firework"?
Molly: Uh-huh.

Chuckie: Well, that song was only a small part of the movie. What else did you like about it?
Molly: That it was fun to watch.
Chuckie: What made it fun?
Molly: That she looked like a Dalek.

Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: Like remember how her dress made her kind of look like a Dalek. I told you that in the theater, Dad.
Chuckie: I know, I just wanted you to say it here. What did you think about the songs in the movie?
Molly: I liked all of the songs. But "Firework" was my favorite one.

Chuckie: I saw you bopping and dancing and singing along to a bunch of the songs.
Molly: Yeah. Because I liked them.

Chuckie: Yes, it was very strange to see you hop out of your seat and point at the screen and sing "I want to see your Peacock-cock-cock."
Molly: I like that song.
Chuckie: What do you like about it?
Molly: The lyrics.

Chuckie: So, can you tell me what the movie was about?
Molly: Katy Perry.
Chuckie: Well, yes, but what was she doing in it?
Molly: Singing songs and dancing.
Chuckie: True. But it was following her through a yearlong tour. And showing clips from all of the places she sang and some of what happened backstage.
Molly: Okaaaaay. But I just liked the song bits.

Chuckie: Can you tell me a little more about Katy Perry now and who she is?
Molly: She's popular.

Chuckie: That's true. Anything else?
Molly: She's a girl. Or a gal. You can use either of them, Daddy. You use girls when you are saying "boys and girls" and you use gals if you are saying "gals and boys". So they both mean the same thing, it's just how you use them.
Chuckie: Okay. But I knew she was a girl before we went to the movie.
Molly: Or a gal.
Chuckie: Okay. Regardless. I understood that she had a vagina before we saw the movie. What did you learn from the movie about her though?
Molly: Her and her husband broke up. And I didn't even know that she had a husband before that.

Chuckie: There we go. And how did the break up effect her?
Molly: Like special effects?
Chuckie: What? No. Like how did the break up make her feel and what did she do?
Molly: She felt sad and she cried, but she kept performing.

Chuckie: Did you learn anything else about Katy Perry?
Molly: Um, she sang songs when she was a kid.

Chuckie: Okay, fair enough. Did you find that the movie was inspirational?
Molly: What does that mean?
Chuckie: Like that it inspired you to do something or that you could be something.
Molly: For Halloween? Because I want to be Katy Perry for Halloween now.

Chuckie: Not exactly what I meant, but it works. Does that mean you don't want to be Merida anymore?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: So, what would your Katy Perry Halloween costume be like?
Molly: Her having blue hair. A costume that is like one of her dresses, like the one... one of the... like the one... um, the one... not the striped one, the one before that one.
Chuckie: Okay. I don't remember which one that was.
Molly: I don't either, I know that I liked it. That's all that I remember.

Chuckie: Wow. Okay. But speaking of dresses, one of the early songs in the movie had a bunch of costume changes during it. What were you telling me during the movie about it?
Molly: It's a trick.

Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: Well, there's like two ways that I think she could do it. Number one that I just thought of, um, well, I thought that she gets in the bag and she takes her clothes off and she paints them black and then she glues them so that they can stick on the inside of the bag. And there's like new clothes in there and she puts them on real quick.

Chuckie: That's one way.
Molly: Number two is that she took her clothes off and she put the new ones on because they were already in the bag.

Chuckie: Okay.
Molly: Oh! Daddy, I have another idea. Number three is that she got into the bag and, um, um, she, um, and she liked, um, used the snapping power like this guy did in a commercial where he snapped his fingers and everything changed.

Chuckie: Well, first of all, I love that you are debunking the quick-change "magic", Pixie.
Molly: Thank you, Daddy. Maybe she should be on Penn and Teller.

Chuckie: Well, I'll tell you the trick behind quick change acts. She wears clothes over top of her other clothes so she just has to take them off real quick and she's already wearing the next outfit underneath of it.
Molly: Oh yeah! But Daddy you can't put that in our review because people will know the trick then.

Chuckie: You are the best, Sweetie. I'll make sure to edit that out.
Molly: Thanks, Daddy.

Chuckie: Alright, so how would you rate the movie?
Molly: Like giving it stars and stuff?

Chuckie: Yeah, however you want to rate it.
Molly: Um. I'd like to give it, um, ten stars.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: I would have gaven it nine.
Chuckie: So, ten out of nine stars?
Molly: Yeah. Um, moons too.

Chuckie: How many moons would you give it?
Molly: Eleven.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Six. Now fireworks.

Chuckie: Alright, how many fireworks do you give the movie?
Molly: (sings) Baby, you're a fiiiiirework! Oh, oh oh! (stops singing) Twelve out of twenty.

Chuckie: Okay.
Molly: Suns, Daddy!
Chuckie: Alright, how many suns do you give it?
Molly: I give it thirty. I would have gaven it forty.
Chuckie: Then why didn't you?
Molly: Just wanted to.
Chuckie: Alright, so out of how many suns?
Molly: Thirty.

Chuckie: So, what kind of people do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Thousands, maybe.

Chuckie: Alright. But why kinds of people will those thousands be?
Molly: Old people and young people. And by older people I mean people older than me and by young people I mean people younger than me.

Chuckie: Fair enough. Do you think that there are people who wouldn't like this movie?
Molly: Yeah. Like maybe Mason. And Lenin. Because Lenin's just a baby and babies don't like older kids stuff.

Chuckie: Do you think Mommy would have liked this movie?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Even though she didn't want to see it?
Molly: I think maybe she'd like it, since she didn't know what it was going to be about so she was just guessing that she wouldn't like it and maybe she was wrong.

Chuckie: Anything else you'd like to say about the movie, Pixie?
Molly: That it was pretty cool to watch. But it would have been cooler if we could have got to watch it in the massage chairs. The End. That's my review.

So that's our review. While my level of ambivalence toward Katy Perry's music remains roughly the same, I have to admit that the movie wasn't that bad to sit through. Really, it's nice to see a positive empowering message toward young girls in a movie, but it is a shame that this is one of the few places where you see it.

The movie is obviously designed for the Katy Perry fan, but as a father of a Perry fan, I'd have to give the experience two and a half out of five stars, though I probably would have given it another half-star if not for the film making me wonder if I should stop my daughter from asking to see someone's peacock-cock-cock.

Molly loved the movie and gave it ten out of nine stars, eleven out of six moons, twelve out of twenty fireworks and thirty out of thirty suns. She also thinks that Katy Perry's quick-change act is good enough to go on Penn and Teller's Fool Us (it's not), and now knows with little mistaking that Katy Perry has bangs and not fangs.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Brave's Merida after swimming.

So, with most movies today you get the entire plot laid out in the trailers and other media that comes out. In fact, for the new Spiderman movie, I believe someone has put together a 25 minute movie of all of the clips and bits released in special features that tells the entire story. As much as I hate it, I suppose it works for marketing as despite knowing everything you will see ahead of time, these movies still make hundreds of millions of dollars. As a movie-going audience, we don't like to be surprised because then we might have to think.

However, Pixar's Brave is the antithesis of that. At least for the causal enthusiast who hasn't gone out of his way to look up previews, special features and spoilers. I just knew that it was about a princess who wanted independence and assumed we'd be a rather stereotypical movie along that fare.

So when the actual meat of the plot hit me, I was rather surprised. A little disappointed, but mostly just surprised.

The first twenty minutes of the movie was essentially what was predicted in the trailers and such. Young teenage princess forced to marry, but wants to lead her own life, so she takes a stand and "wins her own hand" through her own "tomboyish" ways, much to the chagrin of her more royalty disciplined mother.

However, then the movie takes a swerve that I didn't really expect as Merida, the princess, finds Deus-ex Machina the Witch who can solve her problem and ends up turning her mother into a bear. So, now remorseful, Merida has to try to undo the spell which can only be undone by a metaphoric mending of broken bonds. Complicating the mother's transformation is the fact that the father's entire lineage revolves around being the fierce bear-killer.

So, what I originally thought was going to be a rather traditional story told in mostly non-magical world with just a Highlands backdrop, instead turned into a mystical story of rather unusual effect. So in that regard, I was a bit disappointed. I didn't like the magical aspect of the story.

However, there are a few things that I really liked. First, it's Pixar. It was beautiful to look at. But what most impressed me is that it was a mother-daughter movie. There aren't a lot of them in animation. Usually, the mother was killed in some horrible fashion early on and you either had struggles against a replacement matriarch figure or a daughter trying to fit in awkwardly with her overly male father figure, hence not having full understanding.

Instead, Merida got along well with her father, but the mother was the source of conflict. In the end, Merida and her mother grew to learn much more about one another and became closer.

I am a little disappointed at how they found the "middle ground" in which they eventually settled in. Merida didn't win her mother's trust or affection until she was willing to give up and be married to a man not of her choice. Only then did the mother concede her daughter her freedom. It's just an awkward message. I suppose it's sort of a Abraham's test, where faith was only proven once willingness to do the extreme was proven. But it just seems a rather harsh means of proving for a mother's understanding.

But anyhow, the movie was good. Just not quite as great as I had expected. I'm glad that I was thrown off by the bear swerve, but regardless, I still think I would have been happier with no magic and just a more standard tale of rebellious daughters with kilts as a backdrop.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I'll ask her a question and transcribe her answers and format it later.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about the movie "Brave"?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Well, I didn't like some parts since, like, there was, like, a bad bear and, like, saw a part because I thought it was over and I was covering my eyes, but I looked because I thought it was over but it wasn't. And I did not like more parts.

Chuckie: What other parts didn't you like?
Molly: Um, when the guys were trying to kill Brave's mom and when the mom was trying to kill Brave. And one more part. When, um, Brave uh... I don't know what that cake thing was...

Chuckie: It was a cake.
Molly: Okay then. Um, Brave gave her mom a cake and she said that she made it herself, but she didn't because a witch made it and then she turned into a bear. Well, I kind of liked that part because it was a little funny.

Chuckie: Okay, so to sum it up, you thought that parts of the movie were a little intense and didn't like those parts.
Molly: What does intense mean?
Chuckie: In this sense it means strong, extreme and very evocative in feelings.
Molly: Uhhh... yeah. Or you could say violent. Since, like I saw a violent part.
Chuckie: Alright. Violent works as well. What violent parts are you talking about though?
Molly: Um, when I saw the mean bear parts. He was violent.

Chuckie: Okay, that's fair. Now, you said that you liked it overall though. So what did you like about the movie?
Molly: Um, wait a minute. I remember another bad part. When she yelled at her mom and ripped her dress.

Chuckie: Alright, but you still haven't listed anything you liked about the movie.
Molly: I liked when like the girl and father was laughing.

Chuckie: Anything else?
Molly: I liked when the mom made the picture and that made me remember something that the girl did that I did not like: when the girl ripped the picture.

Chuckie: Alright, so it seems to come down to the fact that you have a lot of feelings about the relationships in the movie. Can you tell me what thought about the relationship between Merida and her father?
Molly: What?
Chuckie: Merida is Brave.
Molly: Oh. The fighted and they got along.

Chuckie: They fought?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: When?
Molly: Remember when they surrounded the bear and he wouldn't listen to her and they fighted.
Chuckie: Oh yeah.
Molly: You didn't remember that?
Chuckie: Well, not exactly. But I guess it does bring up an interesting dynamic of the relationships. As Merida became closer to her mother, she in effect began to oppose her father.
Molly: Huh?

Chuckie: Well, earlier in the film, Merida was her father's daughter. She fought with her mother and had a closer relationship with her father. Merida and her father trusted each other's consul and knew what one another wanted, but her mother was on the outskirts. But then, as Merida became closer to her mother and protected her as a bear, her father was on the outskirts and was the misunderstanding authority figure that opposed them. So Merida never truly reached a balance in her personal relationships with her family, but merely set a pendulum swinging that moved the other direction closer to her mother.
Molly: I still don't get it.

Chuckie: In the beginning, Merida liked her dad better and fought with her mom. At the end, she liked her mom better and fought with her dad.
Molly: Uh, it's so confusing. It's like she's time traveling in different places.
Chuckie: Wait. What?
Molly: Well, it's like she's time traveling in different places, but the movie doesn't let us see.
Chuckie: How is she time traveling?
Molly: Maybe the show didn't let us see.
Chuckie: But, why do you think she's time traveling?
Molly: Because she keeps switching. The dad liked her, then the mom liked her and da da da...
Chuckie: No. I think she just changed her feelings in the movie in a linear time sense. She just changed her mind. I don't think time travel was involved.
Molly: Oh. So it just all happened in their brains?
Chuckie: Uh, yeah. I think. What do you mean?
Molly: I mean they made up their minds on their own.
Chuckie: Yeah. They just changed their opinions because of how people acted.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: Alright, so tell me about the relationship between Merida and her mother?
Molly: They were fighting.

Chuckie: Did they make up by the end?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Well, kind of.
Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: Well, remember when her mom was a bear and her eyes turned black and she was going to be a bear? That's what I meant by kind of.

Chuckie: Okay, but why did they make up at the end?
Molly: Their feelings.
Chuckie: Okay. Technically, but what changed their feelings?
Molly: They learned that in a family everyone should love each other.

Chuckie: Who was your favorite character in the movie?
Molly: Merida.
Chuckie: What did you like about her?
Molly: Well, I wanted to tell you something. Um, in the commercial she said "when do I get to choose?" and it was a girl who looked like her because she had orange curly hair.
Chuckie: Okay... Uh, but what did you like about her?
Molly: Um, I liked her dress, but not the hood thing. The white hood. I did not like that.
Chuckie: But what did you like about the character and her personality?
Molly: That hood looked like a white plastic bag on her head.
Chuckie: Yes, I suppose so. But what did you like about the character and personality?
Molly: Um, I liked that she could use a bow and arrow. That's kind of like my personality, but I throw darts instead. And when I grow up, I'm going to have the exact same hair. I'm going to dye my hair orange and then I'll put lots of braids in it, then when I take the braids out it will be all curly. Then I'll be just like her. Except I'll throw darts.

Chuckie: That's right. And what did you say you wanted to be for Halloween?
Molly: Merida. And I wish I could dye my hair orange now. Can I?
Chuckie: Let's ask mom on that one.
Molly: Yay!

(Editor's Note: Sorry to put that "no" onto you, Jess.)

Chuckie: Alright, so how would you rate the movie?
Molly: Stars and moons and suns.

Chuckie: Okay, so..
Molly: Wait! Instead of suns, can I do little sprinkles of suns? Oooh! Wait! Instead of suns, can I do fireworks? sings Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Drifting through the wind, trying to start again? I forget the rest.
Chuckie: You can rate it however you like, Pixie. It's your review. What do you want to start with?
Molly: Um, fireworks!

Chuckie: Okay, how many fireworks do you give it?
Molly: Sixty one. "Out of how many" you say.
Chuckie: Yes, I do. Out of how many?
Molly: I would've given it thirty one, but I thought that maybe I should have given it a higher number because I liked it better, then I gave it a higher number.
Chuckie: That's fair. But out of how many?
Molly: Out of thirty one.
Chuckie: Oh. Okay. I misunderstood what you meant by that.
Molly: Now stars.

Chuckie: Okay, how many stars would you give it?
Molly: Um, I cannot decide on which number I want. I'm thinking of sixty-two and seventy-one. I can't decide which one I want to give it.
Chuckie: Yeah, I suppose that is tough.
Molly: I just wish I could make a picture instead.
Chuckie: It's your review.
Molly: Okay. Then I'll make a picture instead of stars.
Chuckie: Sure thing.
Molly: Yay!

Chuckie: Alright, so what kind of people do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um, I think maybe Edison. Maybe Mason. Grandmom, Pop Pop. Uncle Neil. Grammy and Pappy. Mike. Jo. Isaac. Kat. You. Mommy. And meeeeeeeeeee!
Chuckie: I meant more of demographic-wise. Like kids or older people or boys or girls.
Molly: That is all of that stuff.

Chuckie: Fair point. Alright, so you seemed to think it was a little intense. Do you think that it is too scary for little kids?
Molly: Jut the black bear part.

Chuckie: Fair enough, Sweetie. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the movie?
Molly: I think the movie was teaching you not to be mean to your mom because she might kill you if she was a bear.
Chuckie: Not sure if that was the exact message they were going for, but close enough.

So, that's our review. It contained a bunch of spoilers in it that weren't given away in the previews, so if you didn't want to read spoilers, you probably shouldn't have read the review.

I liked the movie, but ultimately didn't love it like I thought I would. The messages learned were simple and could have been done without the strange bear-magic swerve, but I still find it interesting to see a take on relationships not usually tackled in children's animated films. And ultimately, it is still miles above Cars.

Molly gives it sixty-one out of thirty-one fireworks. And as a youthful, but insistent "fuck you" to the standard industry of movie reviewers, Molly has decided that instead of stars that she would instead give it this interpretive drawing:

So, from left to right: The Mother, the mother as a bear, the father and Merida. Bottom row is Merida's three brothers.

So that should be rather clear on where she ranks this movie.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games

Seriously, it was either this or a Hungry, Hungry Hippos joke.

So, I know it's late, but I finally got to see the Hunger Games.

For those not familiar with the story, it involves a girl who has won the affections of two men, one a vampire and the other a werewolf. The hunger referred to in the title is a reference of the hunger for blood that the vampire constantly feels around her, as well as the hungry rage inside of the werewolf and the girl's hunger to fulfill the desire to be saved and be married and a good wife.

Okay. Actually, it's not that at all. Though considering the love triangle and the targeted teen audience, it very easily could have been. But let's all thank the director for not shitting all over the story and going in that direction.

Instead we have a story about a strong female lead, who risks herself in a sacrifice to protect her younger sister from the violent games which are held to amuse the powerful and keep the underclass in line. The games themselves are an allegory about a bloodlusting society and fruitless wars mixed with over-commercialization to the point where everything is done for the show and sponsors give aid to popular "characters" who are fighting for their life.

Honestly, I was a bit worried when I first started hearing about the movie because it came with an unexpected wave of popularity that made me leery of what might come from it. I read the book when it first came out and enjoyed it, but never read past the first one. However, with the surge of popularity that made it seem like the movie was destined for Nickelodeon Teen Choice award slimings and MTV Best Kiss awards, I didn't have my hopes up.

However, they ended up with a movie that ended up being rather solid. It covers the themes of the book well enough and even decides to build them subtlety. For example, the connection and relationship between Gale and Katniss wasn't slammed over our heads. Ultimately, this is good, as it leads us away from a more direct comparison to the Twilight series and being on Team Peeta and Team Gale. Also Haymitch's character was built a little more subtlety as well. I mean, it was obvious that he was a drunk at first, but as he became inspired by Katniss, there was no big obvious scenes in which he openly declares that he isn't getting drunk. Instead, there is just a subtle raising of his hand to stop a glass from being refilled. It's actually rather refreshing since most movies hammer in points over your head and think that the audience is stupid.

The movie portrays brutal violence of children against children, though for the most part it is not directly shown or glorified. I mean, it isn't exactly the level in which Toys masked violent scenes, but the only scene that really "glorified" it was one in which the announcers were wistfully reminiscing about former Games. This is, of course, to make a point. However, the violence is a bit less "controversial" than it could have been. For the most part, it is the older children committing it against the younger. But it still treads the water to test it for next year's upcoming "Ender's Game".

But anyhow, blah, blah, blah. Salient points and meaningful messages aside, the movie looked pretty. While the excess and luxury of the Capitol isn't how it is portrayed in the book, I actually think I rather like this interpretation of it better. The book had the excesses of the Capitol depicted as tattoos and body alterations so that some people were essentially cat people. Instead, I rather like the break from the more typical sci-fi approach and the presentation of the Capitol's excesses being a sort of old French Pompadour approach. It still portrayed the differences between the sparse and meager means of the outlying Districts and the Capital, but did so in an interesting visual way.

 On the whole, I don't have many negatives to say about the movie. The ending is a bit abrupt and things are just sort of over. But overall, the movie is a solid adaptation of the book and quite enjoyable. Perhaps not quite worthy of the level of hype that it has, but then again, I'd rather a character like Katniss, whose choices are deep and powerful, have it over a character like Bella, whose choices are essentially which monster she'd rather wait until she was married to fuck.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in a Q&A form. I'll ask her a question and transcribe her responses to the best of my ability and format it afterward.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about the Hunger Games?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Since it was--since I never watched it and since I like surprises like that.

Chuckie: What was surprising about the movie then?
Molly: Well, since I never watched it and I didn't know what it was like, except for some parts that I watched in a commercial. Except the part where they got ready to fight, I watched that on a commercial so that didn't surprise me at all.
Chuckie: Yes, but what did--
Molly: I was expecting it, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, fair enough. But what did you like about the movie itself besides the surprise factor?
Molly: Um, since, um, that girl who was being mean before started being nice to people and had friends.
Chuckie: Wait, did we see the same movie? Who are you talking about?
Molly: Katniss.
Chuckie: Oh. Okay. I guess that's fitting. So, the movie was all about Katniss learning to be nicer to make more friends?
Molly: Yes, instead of being mean and lonely.

Chuckie: What about all of the people that died though?
Molly: That part was sad. But that happens, Daddy. And she still made new friends.

Chuckie: Okay, so who were her new friends in the movie?
Molly: Um, I don't know their names. There was the girl who was little who had black hair...
Chuckie: Rue?
Molly: Yeah. And the boy who... um, I have nothing to explain him. But the boy who helped her and they helped each other.
Chuckie: Peeta?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: So, all of the tributes and fighting and killing for bloodsport and for show was all just backdrop for Katniss learning to be a nicer person and make new friends?
Molly: And to teach the other people.
Chuckie: Teach them what?
Molly: To be nice.
Chuckie: Pixie, you do realize that everyone was trying to kill everyone else, right?
Molly: Yes. But only good friends won, so it was best to try to learn how to make good friends.

Chuckie: Okay. So, tell me what happened in the movie?
Molly: Um, they taught a lesson to the other people. Since they were teaching a lesson, well, a bad lesson, to fight back at other people. Like let's say like if my cat scratched me and I fought back at her, so I would like punch her and it's like you're in that place where like, like, like you try and win. Like, it's like, well, the audience watched and, well, it gets harder and harder and well, they try and win and, well, like the people try to fight each other. So, um, that's what it's kind of like.

Chuckie: Um. Wow.
Molly: I'd punch Opoly, since you don't like Opoly.
Chuckie: Thanks for that, Pixie. I'm not sure if that exactly answers what happened in the movie though.
Molly: Oh. Um. They helped each other. Do you know when I said that she... um... nevermind. Um, she helped people when they got hurt.

Chuckie: Okay. True. But did she fight?
Molly: Um, actually, I don't think so. Wait! She shot one person with a bow and arrow.

Chuckie: Okay. So, why was it that everyone was gathered together there to fight one another?
Molly: Wait. Like on those stools?
Chuckie: Mm-hm.
Molly: Since then it would, like, so they could see what the places were, so they could look around and see what to do and they would gather up the people so then they could think that it would get harder and that that group could like gather up so that they could make friends and have a plan.

Chuckie: Okay. Wow. I really think we both approached this movie from a different interpretation of the message.
Molly: Oh, Daddy, and I know another part!
Chuckie: What?
Molly: Um, since the other people that were like... the camera people, I think... they made it harder for them so that almost all of them could die.

Chuckie: Yes, that's true. Why did the camera men do that though?
Molly: So then, like, there could only be one champion.

Chuckie: Yes, that's true too. But why were the camera men trying to make it so that more of them would die? Do you know why they were doing all of that fighting?
Molly: Um, I don't know what you mean.
Chuckie: Do you think that the camera men were trying to put on a show to appease the bloodlust and show the power of the capitol while still beating down the districts with only the sliver of hope as a possible reward?
Molly: Um, maybe?

Chuckie: Do you think that the message of youth fighting to satisfy a power and blood hungry populace is really just an allegory to modern aspects of fruitless war?
Molly: Um, fruit? What does fruit need to do with this?
Chuckie: Um, fruitless. In this case war that bears no reward.
Molly: What does bears need to do with this?
Chuckie: Um. Bears. In this case war that has no reward.
Molly: Yeah. A little bit.

Chuckie: Okay, so, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: Um. Stars.

Chuckie: Okay. How many stars would you give this movie?
Molly: Um, two.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of three.

Chuckie: That's it? Just stars this time?
Molly: No, I also want to give it a reward.
Chuckie: What kind of reward?
Molly: Um, a gold one. Wait, what color is gold?
Chuckie: It's, uh, kind of gold.
Molly: Okay.
Chuckie: So what kind of gold reward are giving the movie?
Molly: Two hundred.
Chuckie: Two hundred what exactly?
Molly: Two hundred and one.
Chuckie: But two hundred and one what?
Molly: Rewards.
Chuckie: Okay. Is that out of something?
Molly: No.
Chuckie: It just gets two out of three stars and two hundred and one rewards?
Molly: Gold rewards.

Chuckie: Okay. So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um, let's see. Edison, Grandmom and Pop Pop. Grammy and Pappy. Mike. And Kat. And Craig and Lindsey. Maybe their baby would, but I don't know. It might cry when the little girl got killed because it's just a baby.

Chuckie: I meant more of an age group or demographic.
Molly: Then Isaac and Jo. And Mommy and you as well. And me.

Chuckie: Fine. Why do you think they would like it?
Molly: Since it's like a movie for that age.
Chuckie: Your range runs from premature newborn to grandparents in their sixties, Sweetie.
Molly: They'd still like it.

Chuckie: Pixie, were you sad when the little girl with the back hair, Rue, died? I thought that you were crying then.
Molly: I wasn't crying.
Chuckie: You were wiping your eyes.
Molly: That's because I hadn't blinked since the movie started and so that's why I had some tears in there.

Chuckie: Fair enough, Sweetie. Is there anything else that you'd like to say about the movie?
Molly: If people watch the movie people will learn that if you fight with somebody, they'd probably fight back, so it's better to be nice to people instead.

So, that's our review. I'm still not quite sure that Molly saw the same movie as I did, but she still seemed to enjoy it. She was also surprisingly not bored throughout the movie, which does take a bit of time to set up some of the pace and plot at points. And apparently the death of Rue wasn't quite as sad as the death of the Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

I liked the movie. Having read the book first, I thought that I would have been more upset at the changes or omissions that were in the movie, but honestly, it was a solid enough translation for me. I suppose the hounds were a bit disappointing. In the book, they had an emotional impact as well by carrying the DNA of the dead tributes in them. However, in the movie, they were just generic wild dogs. But overall, I have little complaints about the movie and while it still feels just a little light of being epic, it is still a good watch. And, truth be told, I wouldn't mind watching it again just to see the who introduction of the "Girl on Fire" sequence again. It was really good watching.

Molly gives it two out of three stars and two hundred and one gold rewards. She viewed the movie, not as an allegory to societal collapse for a culture who bathes in reality television and has grown apathetic toward the outrage of sending our youth to pointless wars, but rather as a primer on why it is important to be nice and make friends.

I wish I was five again.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

See? Ewoks cannot be all bad if their spin-off material can produce something like this.

Oh wait. Nevermind. Their spin-off material also produced this.

Alright, so in our review of Empire, I mentioned that I thought it was the weakest of the original trilogy and then went to point out what I thought were pacing and story flaws with the movie. That was the easy job. Since I think Empire is the weakest, that means I think that Return of the Jedi is better than it, which leaves me with a much more difficult task in this review: Defending Ewoks. I will get to that later. First of all, let me point out a couple of this movie's strengths:

Death Star:
Now, while some people may think that it is rather lame to reuse something like this in a later movie, I have to point out that the fact that the Empire built another Death Star excited me like no other movie. This isn't because I am a Death Star fanboy. Sure, it's neat and all, but that was no reason for my childhood excitement at seeing it rebuilt.

You see, I spent a LOT of my childhood watching cartoon serials and pseudo-serials like Voltron and being filled with remarkable levels or ire and rage at the bad guys. King Zarkon or Prince Lotor would create this incredible Robeast infused with all kinds of special power and implement a huge plan of attack. Voltron would be virtually defeated, laying in near ruins with victory just a breath away from the villains. Then something random or unlikely would occur, like a random mouse chewing on wiring, and the plan would fail at the last moment and Voltron would barely be able to beat back the bad guys. Then next week, Zarkon and Lotor would just come up with some completely new line of attack, but WHAT THE FUCK, GUYS?!?! You were so goddamned close to winning and something so randomly arbitrary occurred and stopped you. Obviously your plan was good. Fucking hit them with the same thing again. This time, if there doesn't happened to be a fucking eclipse during your attack, you'll win. Don't just toss a plan aside that had the only defenses of the good guys shattered and nearly destroyed.

This all or nothing approach of villain plans drove me crazy. Seriously, you were SO FUCKING CLOSE to winning! So, when the Imperial Forces decided to rebuilt the Death Star, I didn't roll my eyes and say, "Seen it." No. I fucking felt vindicated for every schmuck of a villain I had seen before. The Empire said, "Fuck this. This was a fucking awesome plan that got fucked up in such a random way. Let's fucking fix that problem and build a better Death Star. I mean, Christ, we blew up Alderaan. An entire fucking planet! Billions of people. For shit's sake, that was such a good plan, we'll just patch up our ventilation port and fuck shit up again."

So seeing the rebuilt Death Star vindicated my outrage at every single plan gone wrong in every single cartoon serial I watched as a kid. Even fucking Wile E. Coyote came close some times and just needed to learn from his fucking mistake and alter the plans that came closest. This coolness factor is able to cancel out the cuteness of at least ten Ewoks.

The Ewoks tend to distract people from the fact that Return of the Jedi is a dark, dark movie. I mean, forget about the obvious themes of corruption, patricide and the realization that the last two movies were full of incest, there is a lot there. The entire Jabba's Palace opening has Jabba's lustful molestation and near rape of a Twi'lek who was then murdered for his amusement after her refusal to accept his advances. Leia is later captured and turned into what will eventually be a sex slave for Jabba, who then is choked to death by her. Think about that scene. This isn't some glib blaster shot and someone falling down. She wrapped a chain around his neck and struggled with all her might as Jabba's tongue flapped out helpless as he took his last breath. Not saying he didn't deserve it, but that's a rather dark death. Strangling someone fully on camera who is desperately trying to breathe one more breath is dark enough to cancel out at least two dozen Ewoks.

But then the entire confrontation scene between Luke and Vader with the Emperor overseeing is actually a very dark scene as well. Seriously, watch it again and you'll realize how dark it is. It goes beyond a simple corruption scene. The Emperor gloats about how everything Luke holds dear is going to die around him, taunting him to attack him in anger. Luke resists at first, because his plan is to confront Vader for that resolution and self-testing that he needs, even though he realizes that he will die on the Death Star as his friends complete their plan. He just needs to prove to himself that he is worthy, even though he will die. However, the thing about the taunting is that it works.

Luke eventually gives into hate and draws his weapon. Luke stops himself and decides not to fight and hold off. Then Vader senses that he has a sister and that he can pervert her to darkness instead. So, Luke, angered and  vengeful, attacks Vader. Here he strikes wildly and full of anger and rage. He gives into the darkness and it is stronger in him because it is this anger and rage that lets him finally beat Vader. He cuts off his hand and leaves him near death and realizes that he has become the evil that consumed his father... He has reversed roles with him and he has become the rage-filled force standing over the wounded, handless, weaponless and undefended man, capable of striking him down.

That's some dark shit as well. That's worth canceling out at least another two dozen Ewoks' cuteness.

Now, this isn't to say that there aren't problems with Jedi, but they are mostly minor ones that are understandable from a story-telling standpoint. For example, why the fuck would you want to take a ship as big as the Millennium Falcon inside the Death Star instead of the smaller, more agile fighters? For no reason other than the audience feels a connection to the ship and it is almost a character in and of itself and would be disappointed if it somehow did not help out with the end game. Or, when going down in a rough surface terrain forest where stealth is important and everyone is camouflaged, why the fuck would you bring down a shiny gold robot prone to being knocked over and a little droid that runs on two skids that couldn't compensate for a raised tree root? The answer, because they are primary characters who should be given a role.

But the Ewoks. There is a lot of hate for the Ewoks because they look stupid and are cuddly. However, I first need to point out that, for the time, they were actually really decent costumes. We're talking pre-CGI days. You know, the days when dwarves/little people knew that they could always put on some crazy-ass costume and get a job in Hollywood? If Jedi was made today, you'd end up with CGI Ewoks and a shitload of unemployed little people. Now, the Ewoks had a purpose. Yes, I realize that the primary purpose of them was to sell toys and kiddie spin-off merchandise and products. However, these are simple stories told at the level of kids. Really, there isn't a lot of depth to the plots. But this story is so dark that you need something for the kiddies to lighten it up a bit. Perhaps Lucas went a little too far with the cute, but I don't think so.

The Ewoks also serve to give us a view of war not shown before in these movies. Rebels, Stormtroopers and aliens died left and right in these movies and we didn't pause or care. But I defy anyone to tell me honestly that the first time that they saw that Ewok die on screen and his friend try to wake him up they didn't tear up. Seriously. This is the first we've had impact of war and had it mean something. Obi-Wan's death ended up being a good thing overall. But that Ewok laying there while the other one pushed him a couple of times to try to move him showed an emotional cost of war. That Ewok death scene cancels out at least two score living cute Ewoks in the movie.

Ultimately, however, the Ewoks are supposed to give a message that the "little people" can make a difference. But it also gives us another message of strength of indigenous people in terrain that qualified soldiers are unused to fighting over. So, yes, the Ewoks are an allegory to the Viet Nam war.

Okay. That's probably going too far. But you get my point.

There only real problem that I have with Return of the Jedi is the fact that in the original Star Wars when Luke first gets C-3PO and finds out that he was part of the Rebellion, he asks him if he has any stories. Threepio responds that he isn't a very good storyteller. However, in Jedi, he's fucking mesmerizing the Ewoks with his storytelling and is even adding in sound effects for all of the principle battle scenes. Fuck what he said to Luke. Threepio can fucking spin a yarn.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form.  I'll ask her a question and transcribe her responses to the best of my ability and will format it afterward.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about the Return of the Jedi?
Molly: I like it in the middle. I liked it and I didn't like it.

Chuckie: Okay, what didn't you like about it?
Molly: Um, that -- that -- that little guy that got shot.
Chuckie: The Ewok?
Molly: Mm-hm.
Chuckie: How did that make you feel?
Molly: Sad. Because he got hurt.

Chuckie: Was there anything else that you didn't like about the movie?
Molly: I didn't like that his father got hurt.
Chuckie: Whose father?
Molly: Lucas.

Chuckie: Okay, we'll get to that later though. Anything else you didn't like?
Molly: No.

Chuckie: So, tell me what you liked about movie.
Molly: Well, I liked that they were celebrating because the good guys won and Lucas's father died. They had fireworks. Daddy, did you know that they had fireworks on other planets?
Chuckie: No, I didn't know that. I would have thought that they had some kind of more technologically advanced means of celebrating, like giant holograms or laser light shows or something.
Molly: Nope. Fireworks.

Chuckie: Yeah. So, what else did you like about the movie?
Molly: Wait. There are other parts that I didn't like about the movie!
Chuckie: Okay, like what?
Molly: Like when the one guy fell into the sea monster in the sand and it ate him and when Dark Vader's boss got thrown down that pit and died.

Chuckie: Well, you know that these guys that died were bad guys in the movie, right?
Molly: Yeah, but it was still sad. They have families, you know.
Chuckie: Wow. Okay. Good point. So, why don't you tell me what happened in the movie?
Molly: Well, they had to rescue Han Solo because he was frozen, so they put him in the oven to free him--
Chuckie: Wait. They put him in the oven?
Molly: Yeah. He turned red like he was hot then got out of the frozen stuff.

Chuckie: Ah... Okay. Well, continue.
Molly: Princess Leia freed Han Solo, but the big frog took him and her. Oh, and the big gorilla was there as well. Then Lucas showed up and rescued them.  Then Lucas visited Yoda, then Yoda died, so that's another part I didn't like too. And then they had to stop the bad guys' plan.

Chuckie: What was their plan?
Molly: They were building another Death Star.

Chuckie: Okay, I know it broke into a few interweaving plot points here, but what happened on the ground in the forest?
Molly: Princess Leia found Ewoks. And the Ewoks helped them fight the bad guys. And when they won, everyone was celebrating, but they weren't congratulating the Ewoks because they did most of the work.

Chuckie: Okay, while that was going on what was Lucas doing?
Molly: He went to see his father, Dark Vader. And Dark Vader tried to turn him into a bad guy, but it didn't work. Dark Vader didn't really want to fight Lucas or turn him into a bad guy, but his boss told him that he had to and so he fought Lucas because he didn't want to get fired.

Chuckie: So what happened in the fight?
Molly: Dark Vader became a good guy and killed his boss so that he could save Lucas and his boss would be dead and couldn't fire him. So then he became the boss. But then he died.

Chuckie: What did you think when Lucas took off Dark Vader's mask?
Molly: He looked like an alien. He did not even look like a person.

Chuckie: So, a lot of people don't like the Ewoks and think that they ruined the movie. What do you think about that?
Molly: I liked them since they fighted the most. They fighted more than the rest of the good guys did.

Chuckie: So, tell me about the character arcs. How did Lucas change by the end of the movie?
Molly: He was really good at using the force field. I'm not good at it yet though. Watch. (She stares at the shelf, straining.) See? Nothing happened.
Chuckie: What were you trying to do?
Molly: I was trying to move the books and shelf. But I'm not good with the force field yet. But that's okay, because you never give up and you have to practice, practice, practice.

Chuckie: What about Han Solo? Did he change by the end of the movie?
Molly: He wasn't frozen in the sandbox anymore.
Chuckie: Any kind of personality change?
Molly: What is a "personality"?
Chuckie: The way he acts and the things he believes in.
Molly: Well, he wasn't acting when he was frozen in the sandbox, so that changed.

Chuckie: Fair point. How about Princess Leia? Did she change at all?
Molly: No.

Chuckie: Okay, did Dark Vader change?
Molly: Yes. He turned into a good guy and then turned into a ghost.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: Stars.

Chuckie: Okay. How many stars would you give Return of the Jedi?
Molly: Um, five and out of three.
Chuckie: You are giving it more stars than it is out of, you know that right?
Molly: Yeah.  And I want to give it Ewoks, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay. Um, how many Ewoks?
Molly: Twenty-four Ewoks. Is that a lot of Ewoks?
Chuckie: I don't know. I'm not used to an Ewok rating system. Out of how many?
Molly: Four.
Chuckie: Then, yes, I would have to assume that it is a lot of Ewoks to rate a movie with.
Molly: Good.

Chuckie: So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Ellen, Eva and Cassie. Not the little Cassie, but the big one.

Chuckie: Why do you think they would like it?
Molly: Well, I think Ellen would like it because I'm her best friend, Ewoks and they fight and stuff. My other friends would like it because of the Ewoks.
Chuckie: You really liked the Ewoks, didn't you?
Molly: Mm-hm. That's why I gave it more Ewoks than stars.
Chuckie: I don't know if that's how ratings work.
Molly: Well, I was going to give it three Ewoks, but then I thought I should give it more.

Chuckie: Okay. So, while the Ewoks are cute and cuddly, there are actually a lot of rather dark themes and scenes in this movie. Would you say that the movie is more for kids or for grown-ups?
Molly: Grown-ups. But I still think kids would like it because I did.

Chuckie: Fair enough. So, is there anything else that you wanted to say about Return of the Jedi?
Molly: (covers her right eye with her hand.) Sibuna.
Chuckie: Sibuna?
Molly: Yeah, that means it's a secret that only people from House of Anubis can hear.
Chuckie: So, I can't hear it?
Molly: Nope. The End.

So, that's our review. Molly really liked the Ewoks in the movie, but was rather upset at the Ewok death scene. When it happened, I had to pause the film and talk to her since she started to cry. We still made it through the rest of the movie, but for anyone who discounts Ewoks of being too cute, they made an impact on the potential cost of fighting and war to my five year old.

Of course I liked it. I don't think anything touches the original Star Wars by a longshot, but this is my second favorite of the original trilogy. But most importantly in this movie, the Empire learned a lesson that everyone from Prince Lotor to Wile E. Coyote to Desslok to the Zentraedi to Cobra Commander to the Decepticons could not grasp: If your plan came THIS FUCKING CLOSE to wiping out your enemy and failed for some fluke reason, don't throw out the blueprints. just tweak them and retry them.

Molly gives it five out of three stars and twenty-four out of four Ewoks. She also considers the Vader's struggle with battling his son and his attempts to either pervert or murder his child stem from a fear of being fired from his job. She also apparently had more to say on the movie, but I'm not a member of the Sibuna club from House of Anubis, so I have no clue what it might be.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Molly with Han Solo frozen in sweet, sweet chocolate. He was eaten just after this review.

Alright. I know I'm in the minority on this one and I routinely take crap for it, but here it goes: The Empire Strikes Back is the weakest of the three original Star Wars movies.

That isn't to say it is bad. I mean, it's still Star Wars, though decidedly less fun than the other movies.

So before I get flayed, here are my three primary reasons why it is a weaker movie:

1. Incoherent Story Pacing:
Star Wars had a basic story of rescue the princess and destroy the Death Star. These were pretty tangible and easy to track for the plot. Empire separates the characters and builds to separate stories to follow: A) Train as a Jedi and B) Escape the Empire. On the whole, this wouldn't seem bad except that jumping back and forth between the two build such different levels of excitement and theme that is sometimes jarring. Holy shit! It looks like the end for Han and Leia! Things couldn't possibly get any worse and--oh... there's Luke doing a handstand with a puppet on his foot who talks like he is reciting ASL literally talking vaguely mystical. So, it causes pacing problems with the movie, as opposed to everyone in the first movie sticking together. And, when they aren't sticking together, they are at least all trying to achieve different goals of the same objective.

 But secondly, this break and attempt to tell two different stories causes problems with the timing of the movie. How long does it take to train to be a Jedi? It seems like it would be a long and arduous training, especially with Yoda's hard on for teaching patience. So, how long did Luke train with Yoda to get the new powers that he employed by the end of the movie? My gut would say at least weeks. However, you have to compare this to the pacing of Han Solo's escape from Hoth. He left Hoth and immediately went into an asteroid field, to be flushed out and hide in the Imperial garbage and then flew directly to Bespin where he was almost immediately betrayed by Lando. Since the Empire was there before Han, one would think that there would be no real reason to stall Han's capture too long--just enough for Vader to arrive personally. So by that time frame, I would say that maybe Han was on the run for a day or two at the most. With this timing, we have to assume then that Luke's Jedi training lasted less than this time (since he then needed to rush to Bespin to free his friends). So, Luke learned a shitload of Jedi powers with probably less than a day's training. Now, I don't know much about the Force, so maybe the power-learning is rather front-loaded, but it still seems off to me. So the pacing of the action to training is awkward and it also makes trying to figure out how much time really passed just as bad.

Then again, Han's fleeing was hindered by the fact that he couldn't fly to light speed. So it's possible that travel time was extended and it took him roughly 10,000 years to fly to Bespin without being able to go to light speed.

2. Vader Become a Farce:
 I know, I know. All of the fanboys who love Vader love this movie, but for me, this movie breaks his character even more than removing his mask in the third movie to find that the menacing evil of the galaxy looks like mashed potatoes. I loved Vader in the first movie. He was a religious zealot, but he was properly leashed in a military structure. Grand Moff Tarkin kept him in check and stopped him from making too much of an ass of himself. I -loved- that dynamic. I mean, really, think about the scene from Star Wars when they are discussing the completion of the Death Star and how militarily obsolete Vader's views really are:

Admiral Motti: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they have obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it!
Darth Vader: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the potential of the Force.
Admiral Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerous ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the rebels' hidden fortress...
Darth Vader: (starts Force Choking the shit out of him) I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Grand Moff Tarkin: Enough of this! Vader, release him!
Darth Vader: (releases him) As you wish.

What this scene illustrates is that Vader is a religious zealot, but is still under the command of the military structure. And I love this scene. Not because Vader uses cool Force Choke powers, but rather because it shows how he is archaic and out of place in this structure. Not to bash religion, but really, think about a real-world equivalent of this scene:

(sitting on an Aircraft Carrier in the Gulf)
Admiral: With us positioned out here, we can use the aircraft to control the air space and control the sea of our less technologically advanced enemies, giving us full control and power over this sea zone.
Naval Chaplain Who Has Somehow Found His Way Into the Meeting: Yes, but the power of this aircraft carrier pales in comparison to the power of Christ.
(sighs and eye rolls from around the command room)
Admiral: (speaking diplomatically) Yes. That may be true, however, it is not really applicable in this situation. Now, if you don't mind, we really need to get back to planning the strategic assault and conquest of the enemy ports.

I mean, really, Grand Moff Tarkin was right to call Vader down and stop him. And Admiral Motti was right to make fun of Vader. I mean, yes, the Dark Side of the Force is really powerful. I'm sure Vader could have transported down to Alderaan and Force Choked the entire planet's population to death. However, it would be a rather time consuming endeavor. Just blowing up the planet with the Death Star really was the much more efficient path to take. Though, I suppose, hearing that Vader went and spent 6 months on Alderaan personally Force Choking every single inhabitant of that planet would also be rather intimidating to the rest of the galaxy. But more in the religious zealot way rather than the military might way.

But anyhow, Vader didn't have a leash in this movie. So he's constantly strangling people and making immediate promotions. It just became farcical. I preferred him as mystical and powerful, but at odds with a military structure. Now, he's just killing admirals who forget to say please and thank you. And really, this illustrates the idiocy of the officers in the Empire. The best position to have is the one just below the current General. Invariably, he'd fuck up and Vader would choke and kill him and immediately promote you. Your next move? Resign your commission and get your pension at General pay level and sit nice and pretty on some Outer Rim planet.

3. No Love for Blondie:
This is a personal, but very real beef of mine. Growing up with nearly albino-white blond head of hair, it became a signature trait of my childhood. So, whenever we would play games with a group of kids, I'd become the defacto blond character. Do you know how much it sucked playing Super Friends with your friends and having to ALWAYS be Aquaman? Do you know how terribly limited children's school yard imaginations are to create problems that also involved, at the very least, a nearby lake? So, when we got to play Star Wars, it was fine being the blondie. I got to play Luke. Sure, others rushed and argued over who was Han. But I had a blaster AND a lightsaber. And, if a girl was playing with us and got the be Leia, then Luke got the girl.

But that changed with Empire. Now the gaggle of Han Solos would get to smooch the girl on the playground. As consolation, if there was a really young or really short kid playing, he'd get to be my Yoda. But that was hardly any consolation.

Now, none of this is to say that Empire is a bad movie. But it is also an incomplete one. Star Wars had a beginning, middle and end. Return of the Jedi had a beginning, middle and end. Empire just felt like middle throughout. There was no overarching story that covered a grand scale and it just feels a little flat.

What I did like about Empire, however, is that characters continued to develop. Luke and Leia both come a bit more into themselves during their journey. Han remains static, however, and Vader develops, but, as I mentioned, is almost farcical now as a character.

But the absolute best part of Empire Strikes Back? The fact that it lends us the best worst nerdy joke ever:

How warm is it inside of a Tauntaun?
Luke warm.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me at my computer as I type this. Because of her age, her review will be in Q&A form. I'll transcribe it and reformat it when we are finished.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about The Empire Strikes Back?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Um, the last part where the guy was still alive even though they chopped off his arm. When they were in the fight.
Chuckie: What guy was still alive?
Molly: Lucas.
Chuckie: Who chopped off his hand?
Molly: Dark Vader.
Chuckie: Why were they fighting?
Molly: Since they were on other teams.
Chuckie: So, did Dark Vader tell Lucas anything important while they were fighting?
Molly: Yes. That he was actually his father.
Chuckie: Do you believe him?
Molly: Well, kind of. But maybe actually Dark Vader's a good guy and I just don't know.

Chuckie: Don't you think that a father can be bad and a son can be good?
Molly: Well, no.
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Well, I just don't think it.
Chuckie: Does that mean if I was bad, you'd have to be bad too because your my kid?
Molly: (shakes her head)
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Since I don't want to be bad. And other people might be good. And since I was bad, I might be mean to you.
Chuckie: Then don't you think that maybe Lucas is good even though his father is bad? They can be different?
Molly: Kind of, but then they won't like each other.

Chuckie: Fair enough. Alright, so tell me about the movie. What was it about?
Molly: Um, all the star wars.
Chuckie: Wait. What? Can you be more specific?
Molly: Well, on the ice cold planet an ice bear tried to eat Lucas. And he used that thingy to try to grab it.
Chuckie: Wait. Thingy? You mean the Force?
Molly: Yes. He used the force field.
Chuckie: Okay. Then after he got his light saber, what did he do?
Molly: He got out and saved himself. Then he went to see that little guy.
Chuckie: Little guy?
Molly: Yoda something. They didn't tell us his last name.
Chuckie: Why did he go and see Yoda?
Molly: He went to learn how to be a master.
Chuckie: A master of what?
Molly: The force field.

Chuckie: Okay, but meanwhile, what was Han Solo and Princess Leia doing?
Molly: They went to a city in the clouds where Dark Vader was waiting for them.
Chuckie: What happened then?
Molly: He trapped Han Solo and put him in the sand box thingy so that he'd be in there forever.

Chuckie: Alright, so tell me a little about the characters in this movie. Tell me what happened during Lucas Skywalker's character arc in this movie?
Molly: He changed.
Chuckie: Wow. Good answer. How did he change?
Molly: Um, since he started with two hands and ended up with one.
Chuckie: (laughs)
Molly: (interrupts) But he got a robot hand at the end, so even though he had two hands at the end of the movie, his character was still changed.

Chuckie: Good point. Tell me about the other characters.
Molly: Well, there's Princess Leia. She's a princess of the galaxy.
Chuckie: Did her character change or grow?
Molly: Well, she kissed a lot of guys in the movie.  But she told Han Solo that she loved him right before he got frozen in the sandbox. But she kissed Lucas before that, so I think she was just confused.
Chuckie: So, by the end of the movie, she wasn't confused anymore and knew who she liked.
Molly: Yeah. She liked Han Solo.

Chuckie: What did you think of Dark Vader in this movie?
Molly: He was mean.
Chuckie: Do you think that they overplayed his character without having reigns on him and essentially made him into a cartoonish characterization that is a bit over the top instead of keeping him a darkly mysterious figure who plays his vast power closer to his chest?
Molly: I have no idea what you just said.

Chuckie: Alright, which did you like better, Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back?
Molly: Star Wars. I loved that movie. Especially where they yelled "Utini!"

Chuckie: So, what didn't you like about Empire Strikes Back?
Molly: Hm. That he chopped off his hand.
Chuckie: When we were watching the movie,  you told me that Dark Vader chopping off Lucas's hand was a dumb idea. Why did you think it was a bad move?
Molly: Because when you chop something with a light saber, it becomes more powerful, like Ben.
Chuckie: I'm not sure if that's exactly how that works.
Molly: Well, you still shouldn't be chopping off people's hands. It's rude, especially because it's his own kid. But, Daddy, I don't think that he wanted to. I think that he had a master who told him to do it but he didn't want to, but he had to follow his rules.

Chuckie: Wow. Very astute.
Molly: What does stoot mean?
Chuckie: It means you were very clever in thinking that Dark Vader was following a master's orders.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate the movie?
Molly: With stars and suns.

Chuckie: Okay, how many stars would you give the movie?
Molly: Fifty million.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of one star.
Chuckie: So, the movie is fifty million times better than the absolute best?
Molly: I think so. And suns, Daddy.

Chuckie: Alright, so how many suns would you give the movie?
Molly: Thirty five and a hundred and forty five.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of two.

Chuckie: So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Wait! How about the moons.

Chuckie: Sorry. How many moons would you give this movie?
Molly: Forty five and fifty hundred and forty five and a hundred more.
Chuckie: Okay. Out of how many?
Molly: Hm. Out of X.
Chuckie: "X"?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: As in a variable "X"?
Molly: What's a variable mean?
Chuckie: It means that it can potentially be any number, but is often solvable to a single number, set or range.
Molly: What's a range mean?
Chuckie: It is a span of numbers that it can be within.
Molly: Yes. That's what I meant.

Chuckie: So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um, most of all, I think Edison and Pop Pop.
Chuckie: Why do you think they'd like it?
Molly: I think she's grown up enough to really enjoy it.

Chuckie: Who was your favorite character in the movie?
Molly: Princess Leia.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Since she's a girl and she's a princess.

Chuckie: So, do you think that grownups or kids would like this movie more?
Molly: Grownups. Well, I think because Pop Pop likes it and I just think that. I think more grownups would like it.

Chuckie: Alright. Is there anything else that you wanted to say about The Empire Strikes Back?
Molly: It was a sad ending because he cut off his arm and that was his dad that did that to him.

So, that's our review. Molly liked the move, but not as much as Star Wars. She was also a lot more distracted during this movie. The pacing really is a lot slower than the others, especially for a kid. While Molly chatted up every possibly theory as we watched the first one, she was looking for distractions during this one.

Of course, I like it, but it is my least favorite of the original trilogy. That isn't really a bad thing though when you consider the relativity of it all though. It's like saying that oral sex is my least favorite sex out of the three options. Although it gets the "least favorite" title, I'm still a big fan.

Molly thinks that it was still a good movie. She gives it fifty million stars out of one star, thirty five and a hundred and forty five suns out of two and forty five and fifty hundred and forty five and a hundred more moons out of X. You can solve for X at your leisure. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we'll have a good chance to sit and enjoy Return of the Jedi.