The tagline for this should have been “Pandorum: Definitely not a sequel to Event Horizon!” in big happy words. This is yet another attempt at the doomed-to-failure space-slasher genre, something you may have seen in other high-budget-yet-crappy movies like “Sunshine.”
Whoever wrote the script for this was clearly a big fan of Event Horizon (which was actually a really good movie). And, I'm gonna be honest, the script for this... wasn't terrible. It wasn't good, but it wasn't terrible. It seemed to have an adequate premise from what I could gather and a few instances of strong dialogue (like the one guy telling his story about little indians, that was nice even if I don't know what he was talking about).
It was visually good. The designs of things like costumes, weapons, and monsters (gasp, spoilers) were all really pretty well-done.
The acting was good (except in the case of Dennis Quaid). Ben Foster and Antje Traue gave particular strong performances, even if... well, let's say Antje practiced her English a lot between Pandorum and Man of Steel. Her voice is melodic and expressive but the words she forms really mean nothing about 80% of the time. The movie is also wise enough to have her deliver the majority of exposition (in other words, you never get to know what's going on).
What this movie really is, is a directorial disaster. It's gloomy and grimy, too dark to see. The scenes are choppy and the storyline is incredibly challenging to follow. About halfway through I more or less gave up on trying to figure out what was going on, and just figured, “Oh well, space monsters.”
Even that, however, proved to be boring. Focusing closely, I felt like the action scenes were actually decent. But something about the pacing and the music just made me not care, like my eyes drifted away from the screen to look at more interesting things, like my desk, or that guy over there's unsettling mustache.
I can't go into too much detail, both for fear of spoilers and because I didn't understand the majority of the plot, nor care. That's fortunate, however, since this film doesn't really deserve to be gone into in detail. If you decide to watch it because the plot sounded interesting, just rewatch Event Horizon. If you're watching it for Antje Traue, just rewatch Man of Steel. If you're in it for Ben Foster, just rewatch 3:10 to Yuma. And if you're in it for Dennis Quaid... get out.
I want to do a mass-review of Killjoy. Not just the 2000 slasher flick, though, no -- I want to review ALL FOUR, all at once. Isn’t that exciting?
So, for those who have never heard of it (you probably haven’t), the Killjoy series of films by Full Moon Entertainment that started in ye olde Y2K. They feature a clown hitman from hell known mostly (but not only) as Killjoy. They vary vastly in quality and consistency, but as a general rule, they are pretty fun.
So, allow me to start with the first film:
The first movie is okay. It features a very basic storyline with a young boy that gets spurned by his prospective lover and accidentally shot by her gangbanger boyfriend. Right before that, however, he uses some black magic (dum dum dummmm) to bring a little doll to life, one that he dubs “Killjoy”.
The movie picks up with the performance of Angel Vargas, who plays the eponymous clown character and arrives one year later in the film’s chronology. He is sinister and playful, with a decent evil laugh and a hammy attitude that is definitely enjoyable for a villain. He also breaks the mould a bit – Killjoy mocks and taunts his thuggish victims by using a lot of cursing and urban language, which comes off as wonderfully eccentric among his basically clownish and silly persona. I refer to this Killjoy as the “silly” Killjoy, and he most often dances about and rubs his palms together, paving the way for what would eventually turn into a very fun character.
This flick has a girl protagonist, some side characters, and a creepy old wizard guy who seems to know a thing or two about a thing or two. Many things occur, with the protagonists trying to find ways to end him and his teasing, reality-warping murders (which are seemingly functional only in his realm, which takes the form of an ice cream truck). They sort-of succeed after trying a lot of stuff that doesn’t work (including trying to take him at his word, which is disastrous), exiting his “realm” and seeming to escape. Spoiler alert, he’s fine and continues to give the protagonist nightmares even after he’s killed his fill. The story of this movie is referenced by every consecutive film, so it’s pretty important that you see it if you’re going to watch the others. It’s low-quality and campy, with shabby acting and a weak plot – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
For those with an eye out, it contains side-boob with one nipple, giving it a Nudity Rating of 2.
Killjoy 2: Deliverance from Evil (2002)
This movie is… a little bit different. It follows a basic slasher-flick plotline, with a bunch of convicted cons being dragged into the woods for a camping trip by a couple of cops, or… whatever they were. This was the least entertaining of the four films, despite being the introduction of Trent Haaga taking on the role of Killjoy.
This part is important. It heralds a distinct change in Killjoy’s makeup, giving him more sinister red lips and red, wing-like streaks across each eye, as opposed to Angel Vargas’s pink and green semi-ovals. In this movie, Trent Haaga doesn’t seem like he has not fully nestled himself in the role – his speaking voice is deep and gloriously sinister, but his evil laugh lacks conviction. He is hammy, but not perfectly so, and does an absurd amount of evil hand-rubbing.
Killjoy 2 is not referenced in any of the other films, and pretty much seems to have never happened. I am glad for this: it’s the only one of these movies that doesn’t really seem to fit. He doesn’t need a realm to use his powers, and after killing almost everyone he was after, he was casually “killed” by a splash of holy water that completely melts his face. He doesn’t come back, he doesn’t get a creepy stinger after the credits showing his likely return – nothing. However… hope is not lost.
Despite having a sex scene, this is skipped over and this film has no nudity besides some muscular arms in a tank-top, which I am pretty sure do not count. Nudity Rating of 1.
Killjoy 3 (2010)
Eight years pass.
Trent Haaga returns as Killjoy with a whole-new attitude. He’s ditched his bright, satiny costume for some black-and-red threads, his overly-gigantic hair has slimmed down and is now perfect for concealing the demonic horns we never knew he had. His laugh has improved, and so has his acting, and his heavy, hideous makeup has been swapped for some creepy facepaint, turning this incarnation of Killjoy into one of my very favorite killer clowns.
This time-skip also shows a mixed-race cast as opposed to the all-black casting of the first two films, a vast improvement in film and sound quality, and basically the quality of everything. It seems to have a basic premise, an old man summoning Killjoy to wreak havoc and slapping him in a magic mirror to be delivered to some pesky teenagers, who, as everyone knows, are at the bottom of the monster food pyramid.
We also get to enjoy Killjoy’s three clownish lieutenants: Punchy, a demonic behemoth who takes the form of a gigantic hobo clown; Freakshow, a truly disturbing demonic asian mime with a creepy little conjoined twin/dollbaby thing; and Batty Boop, a succubus with an annoyingly endearing baby talk accent who is Killjoy’s “girlfriend” and wears only body paint (yeah).
The plot is basic, showing some basic kids getting killed in increasingly creative and enjoyable reality-warping ways as soon as they enter the mirror, which is Killjoy’s realm in this movie (however, he does seem to have some power outside of it, as the kids are unable to leave the house the mirror is in). All of his lieutenants get a chance to have fun, with Punchy getting a boxing match with Zilla (the resident Big Guy in the teenager team), Batty seduces the main man-guy, and Freakshow just… just terrifies everyone with his horrifying eyes and creepier baby-buddy (seriously, this guy scares me, can you tell?).
When Michael (from the first movie)’s dad shows up, revealing that it was he that summoned Killjoy for the purpose of getting revenge on him, things twist a little bit. Now he and the surviving kids jump into the mirror and try to stop Killjoy there, using any and all methods – by turning his lieutenants against him, to using his true names (of which he has 53) against him, to using the souls of his victims against him, to using good ol’ fashioned protagonist power.
Spoiler alert: None of those things work. When his henchmen turn, he kills them. True names are irrelevant (unless you actually have power of them, see Killjoy 4), and it’s revealed that all of his victims become a part of him, as he absorbs their souls (you see a bit of this at the end of the first film, but it’s vague, he just says “dinner time” to Michael after the entire affair ends). Oh, and protagonist power means nothing.
With just about everyone dead, including the old man, it is revealed that one thing seemingly annoys him enough to temporarily defeat him – laughter. Zilla and Sandie figure this out at the last second, and while Zilla still doesn’t make it, Sandie does. Killjoy is defeated and the mirror disappears, but Sandie is left with an eternal case of psychotic giggles. Whoops.
This flick is by far better than the first and second flicks combined. Trent Haaga’s performance is fantastic and memorable, bringing back to old slang from the first flick to seem eerily modernized with lines like “I’m f***ing Killjoy, I don’t need an excuse!”
This film gets a Nudity Rating of 3 – Batty Boop is a regular character and appears only in body paint throughout the entire film. Add on the fact that those with fetishes for body paint or clowns (cough cough) will get a little something extra, and she provides enough fanservice for the movie.
Killjoy Goes to Hell (2012)
The best film yet – this movie has decided to vote yay for consistency! Trent Haaga returns in his latest, most sinister incarnation, along with, well, EVERYONE ELSE that’s still alive! Batty Boop, Freakshow (sans little baby buddy – he gets a robotic replacement) and Punchy are all back and taking their parts in Hell.
This one features Killjoy standing trial in Hell for incompetent softness, specifically for letting a survivor escape in Killjoy 3 (this seems like a hard attempt to ignore the second film, as he lets two people escape in that one. In the first movie some people live, but they weren’t his targets).
He is stripped of his powers (and a lot of his names) and forced to take part in an infernal court. A deep-voiced, bearded Beelzebub stands as the judge, and the annoying little pimple of a barely-demonic mortal named Skid is his defending attorney against his scantily-clad ex-girlfriend, Jezebeth, who is working against him.
Everyone’s performances are as good as can be expected for a movie with such a low budget. Even the special effects are decent, and some people who were only alright in the third movie (like Batty and Freakshow) have greatly improved by the fourth film, along with much larger parts. Killjoy Goes to Hell perfectly blends comedy with an enjoyable plotline and some distinctly eerie scenes (again, Freakshow, with a surprising show of scariness from Batty). Writing and dialogue are all terrific, and even Sadie, the giggling survivor from the last film, shows up. This is my favorite of the four movies and has solidly cemented the series as a favorite of mine. Yeah – I consider myself a Killjoy fan.
The movie is satisfying from start to finish. If you are a fan of a little camp, comedy, and evil clowns in general, this is the holy grail.
This film has a Nudity Rating of 4 – Batty is back and as naked as ever. Add to that some burly, bare-chested fellas for those who are into that, a DA (Devil’s Advocate, apparently) in a dress that is as indecent as a dress can be, and another demon girl dressed in red paint who appears towards the end, and you have a film with plenty of skin.
This concludes my review for the Killjoy series, and I’m hoping for more to come! Please go check out the films (might wanna skip the second, unless you are into completion like me), and let me know what you thought!
Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before this moment. Frozen is Disney's current golden child – even after the massive success of Tangled and the slightly-less-massive (but still massive) success of Brave, this movie has blown everyone's expectations out of the water. People absolutely love this movie, in an almost creepy way. I've never heard an unkind word spoken about it. So it was only a matter of time before I got off my lazy ass and actually watched the damn thing. I did that last night.
My feelings were immediately mixed, and I decided to give myself some time to chew on it. I thought and talked about it all night, annoying family members with my proto-review of the film and, inevitably, humming “Let It Go” as I went to sleep. Waking up refreshed and with my coffee in hand, I'm ready to give this film a proper review and tell the world what I think.
But where do I start? I realized a few hours after watching it that this film has a lot going on, even if it isn't apparent at first. Unless I'm overthinking it, there are actually a lot of highly conceptual ideas lurking in this movie, complete with subversions and little tricks.
I'll start, I suppose, with the music. The music was... admittedly, underwhelming to me. I went into this after hearing the hype for it, so I figured that, twenty seconds in, this thing would rock my socks off. It really didn't. Most of the songs felt recycled from other Disney flicks (The Little Mermaid, specifically), even if they were very well-sung. At points there were songs that were barely even songs, but simply characters holding a conversation that consisted of normal sentences that they decided to sing (normally I don't have an issue with this, but it felt... forced, to me).
The film makes up for this weakness in a small way, with a single song – “Let It Go,” which pops up around the twenty-minute mark and is also played during the ending credits. I actually was immediately blown away by this (both the song and the singer) and got chills a couple times. This song was powerful, and conveyed a specific message very strongly, and very well (more on that a little later).
So, overall, the music didn't impress me. The singing was good, but of course it was. The songs themselves just... didn't grab me.
Next is the characters, of which there are a good few. Some are amazing. Some are less amazing.
Elsa is the film's antiprotagonist (I made that up! Yayyy) and I'll have a lot to say about her later in this review. For a quick, superficial summation of her character – she's okay. She starts off as a total ice queen, but she has her reasons. That's cool. She then becomes more of a tragic figure, also with good reason. She's more of a plot device than anything, though she brings the largest amount of heavy emotion to the production.
Anna is the real protagonist, which isn't obvious right off the bat, but becomes moreso in a short time. I have to say, I was really impressed with her – Kristen Bell puts out a genuinely spectacular performance in this, and Anna was my favorite part about the movie before I start getting into the contextual stuff. Anna is innocent, vulnerable, and lonely. She's awkward and real in a way that is actually befitting of a Disney movie, in that she's just over-the-top enough to stand out, but not so over-the-top that she loses her organic quality. She performs her “everyman” purpose perfectly, while still having enough character to stand out and be worth having an actual name of her own (not every everyman can pull that off).
Kristoff is, um... Kristoff shows up. He also has a reindeer. And while I really want to say something about him, I just don't have anything to say. He never really felt like more than a stock character to me, and while he has his “talks to himself/his reindeer” thing going on, it never really felt like enough to give him a personality. His dialogue didn't stand out in any specific way, his design was bland, and overall he felt like a void in the film that could have been replaced by pretty much anything else. Maybe I'm just not appreciating him properly, but Kristoff just never felt like any more than another plot device/stock companion.
Then there's Olaf.
I'll admit it right now – when Olaf (the little snowman guy) came onto the screen, I outright groaned. Here comes the token slapstick comic relief character, who will show up, act stupid, talk stupid, and look stupid. He will do stupid things to make children guffaw but he will subsequently cause my brains to melt out my ear.
Only that's not what he did, at all. I mean, a little bit. He did look stupid. And his voice was a little goofy, but it wasn't that goofy. The thing is that Olaf actually carried jokes, real jokes. With punchlines and stuff. And, though I hate to admit it, he was... well, funny. He didn't rely on slapstick or goofiness to get a laugh, he said and did things that were actually worth laughing at. Now, while the humor wasn't this film's strong point, Olaf alone did his part in turning that around. The kicker is, not only was he funny... he knew when to get lost. When he wasn't needed, or comic relief was otherwise not wanted, he either found a way to disappear or he toned himself down. A lot of movies can't boast a comic relief character who's handled this well.
All together, the dynamic between characters is adequate, but not amazing. The majority of characters don't interact with anyone but Anna beyond a few words, so she has to carry the film's relationships on her own. She does alright, but it's a big job – character dynamics beside Elsa/Anna are generally lacking in depth.
Did you notice that, while mulling over the cast, I never mentioned the core villain? I didn't, did I? That's because I... really can't. This brings me to my central point of this film – the morality.
The morality in this is actually interesting, in that a lot of the characters fluctuate and change over time. Check it out:
We have the Lawful Neutral Elsa. By the time the events of the intro have passed, we get “Let It Go,” which is entirely about her shift from Lawful Neutral to Chaotic Neutral, all in one go. After the events of the movie progress some more, she eventually shifts to a warm, cozy Neutral Good. These changes make her an absolutely fascinating character from a moral standpoint. She fills the role of the villain for much of the film, but she is obviously never actually evil, and getting to watch her fluctuate and grow as a person is really amazing.
We have the Chaotic Good Anna. Technically she doesn't really change her views, but that's because she's, y'know, the hero.
Kristoff starts off as a very firm True Neutral, outright stating that he doesn't give a damn whether or not Anna lives or dies. Of course, by the end of the film he also progresses into more of a Neutral Good role.
Olaf is a silly snowman and doesn't count. But while I'm at it, I'll peg him as Chaotic Good too.
The Duke of Weselton is a very brutal kind of Neutral Evil and it shows pretty quickly. But I didn't list him as the villain, did I? That's because he's not.
The true villain is so devious, so cunning, so vile, and so utterly, adeptly, masterfully well-hidden that he shall remain a mystery. For those who have seen the film, you know who I'm talking about. For those who haven't, I won't ruin the twist.
Now, how many films (let alone Disney films) can boast that amount of moral ambiguity and subtlety? Sure, none of this is really going to flip you upside down, but for a kids' movie the actual depth and organic development that goes into these characters is pretty amazing. “Let It Go” is the catalyst here, as the herald of Elsa's initial change, and it was when I started to realize that there was more to this movie than met the eye.
Though, there were other hints. The film is self-aware in a small way, such as its quick and brutal subversion of twenty-minute-marriage Disney love, and the concept that romantic love is not the only (or most powerful) kind of love out there.
Though, that reminds me of something else.
What the hell, movie?! When are you going to get it through your head that if you're trying to establish a platonic, familial relationship, it has to look and feel different from a romantic one? There were at least three (I think four) points during the film where I was compelled to say “...Now kiss.” The sisters would wait until the most tender and emotional moments, the music would soften, they would grow close together... and then it would jarringly break to something else. It really feels like the sisters could make out at any moment (though obviously we know that they can't do that; society would crumble and fall apart) and even the culmination of the film leads up to a “true love's kiss” that doesn't end up happening because the true love is Elsa, so it has to be a “true love's hug” instead. Now, I'm not a filmmaker, so I'm not going to suggest any alternatives. But seriously, Disney, figure out what you want, because the amount of femslash out there is in no way unfounded (not that it would need to be founded to exist anyway, but still).
Now, at this point it probably sounds like I really liked this movie (I certainly have a lot to say about it, don't I?) yet at the beginning I mentioned mixed feelings on it. Well, yeah – the movie was fine. It was good, and I can see how people liked it. Honest.
Now, do I believe it lived up to its hype? Was it the best thing I've ever seen? Even the best Disney movie?
It was good, but it wasn't great. The music needed to stand out a bit more. A lot of the humor was just not that funny. A good deal of the ending just didn't really hit home, and the touching parts were only so touching – they lacked that raw moment of “holy crap is this actually happening” usually exhibited by animated tear-jerkers, and there was never really the serious moment of fear that is needed to elicit a sensation of sorrow/hope/happiness. Even the moment where it looks like Olaf is about to melt could have gone a lot further – he starts getting a little soggy, says he'll risk it and stay anyway, but then ends up just leaving with Anna and being totally fine. The saddest point is in the very beginning (where Elsa starts avoiding her sister full-time), and the rest of the film fails to live up to that brief spark early in the beginning.
That said, it wasn't bad by any means. Even its worst parts were only mediocre, and it was mostly good as a whole. But is Frozen the divine's gift to Disney, a miracle that will revolutionize animation, filmmaking, and storytelling as a whole?
Find this review, along with some pictures of kittens, on my Tumblr page, Ravencourt Asylum.
Other Viners have reviewed this movie! Check 'em out:
In 1974, a horror novel by legendary author Stephen King was officially published. The book was called Carrie. The book was set five years in the future (1979) and was about an awkward teenage girl who discovered that she had telekinetic powers. Pushed to the brink by teasing classmates, Carrie White snaps and uses her new-found abilities to wreak complete and utter devastation.
The book was raw and ended up being a success. A film, starring Sissy Spacek was released two years later, in 1976. In 1999, a non-canon sequel was released. In 2002, a made-for-TV film of the exact same name was released. And finally, in 2013, we got yet another feature-length film, this one once again titled, simply, “Carrie.”
The big difference in this last film, was that it was actually good. And that's the one I'm going to be reviewing today.
I'm not sure where to start, to be totally honest. I really enjoyed everything about this movie – it was a refreshing, realistic, and modern take on a done-to-death classic. The high school girls that taunt and torment Carrie (played by the staggeringly talented Chloë Grace Moretz) actually act like high school girls. Carrie's mother (played by Julianne Moore, who I usually don't like – in this role, however, she's admittedly in her element) is a convincing zealot with obvious and realistic signs of mental damage (she reminds of my older sister, a little bit!).
And, perhaps, most importantly, we have Carrie herself. Now, let me set something straight – I enjoy Moretz's performances as a whole. I've always thought she was good, I've never really thought she was great, and I've never been one to gush over how amazing she is. That said, she steals the show here, in a big way. She finds a spectacular balance to her character, and she also allows that character a chance to evolve from previous performances without “ruining” her. Moretz's take on the 40-year-old character is an awkward, but otherwise intelligent and together young girl. She's been sheltered and she knows it, she doesn't want people to know about her home life so she doesn't make it common knowledge. This makes her come off as a very realistic “weirdo”, acting the way an actual teen in her position most likely would. She questions her mother's continuous indoctrination with reasonable protestations, shows spectacular degrees of conflict when confronted with challenging situations, and is, all around, one of the most well fleshed-out and real characters I've seen this decade.
The performances, however, are not where this movie's strengths end. The cinematography is fantastic. The dialogue is amazing. The script is excellent. The movie teases the mind at every turn. It guides you to where it wants you to go and then firmly places you there, like a virgin being allowed to touch a breast for the first time.
What must also be considered is the challenge that this film was presented with. It was tasked with telling a story that everyone already knows, not changing the story in any way, but nonetheless making it a thrilling and engaging experience. We, as an audience, wait eagerly for the inevitable finale – and it isn't just foreshadowed, it's outright made clear. If, at the beginning of the film, a man walked onto the screen and clearly stated “at the end of this movie, Carrie will slaughter an entire school with her telekinetic powers in a fit of rage,” it wouldn't be any more obvious that this is how the film will inevitably end. We all know it. We're all waiting for it. And when it happens....
IT. IS. AWESOME.
Chloë Grace Moretz holds herself like some sort of goddess of rage, drenched in blood and directing her crippling frenzy against those who had tormented her. The kills are creative and powerful. There is no conflict, no shame, no holding back. Carrie becomes the spirit of vengeance and uses her ability to crush everything beneath her, eventually using her power to lift herself from the ground, floating as she brings the school to rubble. The extra climax with Carrie's mother is equally intense, even emotional.
So, with everything said and done, 2013's Carrie doesn't leave you hungry for more – it leaves you satisfied, like you just sprang for the $30 feast at Red Lobster. Highly recommended.
This review, as well as lots of pictures of kittens, can be found on my Tumblr page!
HEY GUYS I HAD SOME THOUGHTS IN MY BRAINYTHINK-HEADPARTS. THEY SAID, "HEY JOI, WHAT IF HBO MADE A FORGOTTEN REALMS TV SHOW?"
Then my other brainythink-headparts went "Hey, that would actually be extremely sweet. I would have intercourse with that show. But who would they cast?"
This is who they should cast.
Note: This is not a complete cast. Some characters I don't necessarily care about.
Drizzt Do'Urden -- Pana Hema Taylor
Yup, Agron's boyfriend from Spartacus.
WHY, JOY, WHY?: Don't freak out. Think about it. As a Forgotten Realms elf, Drizzt has very specific features that we have to keep in mind -- narrow features, slim figure, short stature, soft hair, etc. This little guy has all of that stuff, and while his nose is a little bit funny I'm pretty sure you'd all be satisfied with how he looked once the studio finished his make-up.
But can he even act the part?: Probably. Drizzt is only so challenging a part, he's just a big blend of friendly, noble, and sometimes emo. Not too tough and we already saw Nasir do his part to be fierce, vulnerable, courageous, and wounded. He can also do action scenes, meaning that his training time will be minimized. And obviously Drizzt is gonna have to do some serious action scenes.
Artemis Entreri -- Stephen Amell
WHY, JOY, WHY?: Why not? Let's be honest here, this isn't crack-casting in the slightest. Amell looks uncannily like Entreri, and can do amazing action scenes.
But can he even act the part?: For his failings as Green Arrow (not being funny or upbeat enough), he's perfect as Entreri. His cold, dead eyes; his superficial, empty charm; his tortured demeanor. All of this is exactly what we need in an Enteri character. I'd love to see Amell wielding the jeweled dagger -- a lot more than with a bow and arrow.
Wulfgar, Son of Beornegar -- Alexander Skarsgård
Yup, the vampire dude from True Blood.
WHY, JOY, WHY?: While I hate to be redundant, why not? He's a tall, buff, blond viking, and while he's a little too old for the part makeup can age him pretty easily.
But can he even act the part?: Again, the part isn't that hard. Wulfgar has two points in his life -- boisterous warrior out to prove himself, and sulking, brooding, angsty jackass. Pretty sure this guy can do both of these things. The action scenes won't be anything amazingly hard since it's just swingin' a hammer around, too.
Catti-brie Battlehammer -- Rose Leslie
Yup, the wildling chick from Game of Thrones.
WHY, JOY, WHY?: Dammit, why do you keep asking that? This isn't out-of-the-box here. I'm firmly in the box. Who would you cast as a young, spunky redhead who is good with a bow and was literally raised by dwarves? This is a clear choice.
But can she even act the part?: ...Do you watch Game of Thrones?
Jarlaxle Baenre -- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Yeah, I'm borrowing from GoT again. You know this guy.
WHY, JOY, WHY?: Okay, this one is a little trickier, as it's a natural challenge with casting fantasy races such as elves. Nikolaj (let's call him "Jaime Lannister" for short) has a slightly leaner body type and an angular face that seems healthy but experienced, which is what we need for Jarlaxle. Overall, though, what matters for this character is less action scenes, and more attitude. Which brings me to....
But can he even act the part?: I think he can. In Game of Thrones he is frequently talkative and cunning, confident to the end, and even a little playful. For those who have read the books, this is exactly what we need for the Jarlaxle character -- if he alters his character a bit (as an actor, I should hope he can), he'll be able to portray an excellent Jarlaxle.
And that's it! Before you say "what about Bruenor/Regis/Harkle/etc./etc./etc." the answer is "I don't care enough about those characters to cast them, I'll leave that to the casting directors who will never make this".
Known for his complete lack of proper formatting, seemingly wandering and pointless story, small word count, shameless femslash, and overall sub-par writing, he -- despite a total lack of support -- continued to churn out work week after week for the sheer love of doing so.
Now that he's gone, and has started to fade from memory, I intend to honor that passion for his craft with the Theik2 Library of Ultimate Excellence -- where I will personally reformat, proofread, and edit each Theik2 story into a masterpiece.
Note: If you share my dream of acknowledging Theik2 as the best writer to ever live, feel free to edit stories and link them to me! Be sure to post links to the original story in your remastered version!
When, exactly, do new powers and abilities get firmly considered, despite evidence to the fact that they shouldn't be?
When do inconsistencies become consistent?
...When is it time to move on?
A lot of people can't decide on these, as it seems to fluctuate from character to character how hard fans will hold on to a certain set of feats and abilities. From time to time, we get something like a reboot that firmly establishes a new power level – other times, the change is gradual, yet not pointed, or just seems to come out of the blue. These latter types are a lot more likely to get called out as stupidity on the writers' ends... but when does inconsistent become consistent?
Let me skim over a few characters that have had... issues... with fluctuating power levels.
AQUAMAN: Aquaman is this article's poster child. He's gone from being mediocre-yet-superfluous, to sucking really badly, to being overly edgy yet still unimpressive, to being extremely powerful yet uninteresting, and has finally settled on being immensely tough in addition to being a very flavorful character.
And you know what happened? Everyone loved it. The newest, most physically badass Aquaman has gotten more love from fans than ever before, launching him to the status of one of DC's most popular mainline characters. Almost enough to bring a tear to your eye, isn't it? Yet it raises some questions – Aquaman's look hasn't changed. His attitude hasn't changed. His backstory hasn't changed. Is power level really that important to the popularity of a character? If so, how do characters like the Punisher ever achieve any sort of fanbase? How about...
WOLVERINE: Wolverine's power level has been absurd since his conception, yet everyone seems to pretty much accept that a Wolverine is a Wolverine is a Wolverine, except when it isn't a Wolverine (which is totally intolerable).
From the get-go, and consistently after that, Wolverine has been able to tussle with people like Hulk and Thing, every brick in between, energy-users, telekinetics, and everyone else ever and usually come out on top, or at least not looking too bad. The only exception to this rule is his own villains – if Sabretooth, Omega Red, or other specific Wolvie-centric villains get involved, suddenly everything's different and he actually plays to his pre-established power set.
Yet people tend to not overly care whether Wolverine can jump eighty feet straight up, or whether he can get ripped to pieces by a guy with swords. Wolverine's Wolverine... we've all acclimated by now. If he can fight Hulk – let him fight Hulk.
Which reminds me.
HULK: Hulk doesn't need explanations for wild fluctuations in power level! Hulk can get knocked out by Captain America if Hulk want! Hulk only have small majority of Wolverine – Hulk no mind, Hulk get him better next time! What? Hulk not afraid of Namor! Namor not been able to beat Hulk since the 1970's!
Thing is, Hulk goes from having relatively close bouts with Benjamin Grimm to thunderclapping planets out of existence. He goes from tussling with Wendigo to beating Thor's face in. Whenever he's in close proximity with Juggernaut, go ahead and flip a coin to see what happens. Not that that'll stop Hulk from pummeling Silver Surfer to goop.
Yet... because his power “increases as he gets angrier”, people tend to not much notice the fact that he's grown to a silly level of strength, they just dig it 'cause hey, he's Hulk, and Hulk is badass. Pay no heed to the fact that his level of potential anger has increased exponentially since 1962 (hey, Hulk just turned 50 not long ago – congrats Hulk!).
Though, if someone else had such a radical power increase all of a sudden, it may not necessarily be as well-received. Someone such as...
BLACK ADAM: Since he broke out of the constant struggle with Billy Batson and started establishing himself as a noble anti-hero and a part of the JSA, Teth-Adam's power level has increased exponentially. While Captain Marvel (do people really expect me to call him Shazam now? I'm not sure) and those of his ilk have always been tough cookies, they've never been anywhere near the level that Black Adam's been at over the past ten or so years.
This, however, has been received with... mixed results. While some people, fans of the character, have been “Hell yeah! Adam kicks righteous ass!”, others have found Adam's propensity for defeating seemingly everyone who comes within ten feet of him to be distasteful. Apparently doing things like blitzing Superman, backhanding a Flash, flat-out dominating the entire Justice Society, and during WW3, taking on all of DC Earth, is a bit too much of a stretch in too short an amount of time. Many people still refuse to accept that certain things he's done should even be taken seriously, regardless of whether or not they occurred or are consistent with themselves – despite not being consistent with the things Black Adam had done in the seventy years before them.
Mayhaps DC's reboot will give him a chance to re-establish himself in the image he has been attempting to establish for the past decade. We've seen that the reboot can be very helpful for that, like it was for Aquaman, and like it was for...
CHEETAH: WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED TO CHEETAH?!
Now I'll be the first to admit that Cheetah is a very tough lady. She's always been able to hang with Wonder Woman (impressive on its own) and she's even shown that she's quick enough to give a challenge to Flashes. That was before the reboot.
After the reboot she became an outright beast, a Leaguebuster capable of easily taking down Superman and the rest of the team. Not only was this totally out of left field, it was her first appearance of the reboot – right off the bat they established her as a very high-tier character, not one to be taken lightly. Wonder Woman herself doesn't even seem to be a suitable adversary for her anymore, which in a way, circumvents the whole nature of the character.
And yet, what's funny, is nobody really... minded. There were no calls of Cheetah being too powerful, barely even a brief gasp of awe at the changes. It was just accepted. “Hey, Cheetah's tough as hell now – cool.” While it was not met with the abundant joy of Aquaman's change, nor the disgust of Black Adam's apparent amp, it just seemed to fizzle away as something unimportant and not worth acknowledging. Much like when the opposite happened to...
ETRIGAN: Even less of a burp (as if that were possible) occurred when Demon Knights came out, starring the Demon himself, Etrigan. Now, before the reboot, Etrigan was a force to be reckoned with, a man who could make Lobo look like he needed to work a little harder.
Yet, in Demon Knights, Etrigan was wholly... unimpressive. Now, he looked a lot cooler. His attitude was awesome. And hey, now he has wings – sweet! But what happened to his teleportation? His off-the-cuff spellcasting? Strength the likes of which can knock Superman out of orbit? Telepathy? ANYTHING?
Nope. Now Etrigan has very standard abilities... flight, fire breath, basic enhanced stats befitting his status. But he's nowhere near the demon he once was... and nobody cares.
At the beginning of this article I wondered how important power level is when applied to a character's popularity. With Aquaman it seemed to be a game-changer. Yet Etrigan's popularity didn't waver (in fact, it may have increased) when he took a severe dip in his mojo. So... what was the difference?
So, while I can go on and on with characters that seem to be a smidge inconsistent (such as Black Panther, Thor, Batman, and a heap of others) I'm going to cut this short and ask you the question. When should new feats take hold? How much does power level change a character? When do feats override on-paper abilities?
Hey everyone! It's me again, with an exciting new installment of... well, my usual reviews. But this one's slightly different! Rather than reviewing a movie, movie series, band, or comic, this time I'm going to be reviewing a TV show! Specifically, my favorite TV show to date.
Now, I know what you're thinking. “Positive reviews are boring! Do something vitriolic like your After Earth review!”
Well, I agree. Negative reviews are funnier. But, as I said, this is my favorite show, even after being canceled after two seasons. And dammit, I'm gonna review it. And, while not everyone enjoyed the show (how, I don't know), I'm still going to talk about how completely fantastic and flawless it is, because I'm extremely biased and don't care about what's wrong with it. Well, actually, maybe I will point out a few small flaws, just to be fair – but know now that despite the fact that I'm going to acknowledge them, I'm still not going to attest to the show being anything other than perfect.
The show is Legend of the Seeker, directed by Sam Raimi and very loosely based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books.
Very. Loosely. Based.
When the show was actually noticed (it had TERRIBLE advertisement), it got a lot of flak for many different reasons.
People thought the books it was based on were stupid.
People didn't think it mirrored the source material closely enough (six of one, half dozen of the other, huh?)
People thought it was trying to rip off Star Wars
People have no taste
So, between all of those deciding factors, LotS was nowhere near a commercial success and was canceled after the tidy ending of Season Two. I have yet to emotionally recover from this catastrophic event, and the cancellation has forever left a gaping hole where my soul used to be.
Anyway, where do I start? Why don't I start from the beginning, the first few episodes that made everyone immediately dismiss it as utterly ridiculous.
IT'S STAR WARS!
You heard right, folks! It's Star Wars. Specifically Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The story opens with Luke Skywalker-- I mean, Richard Cypher-- as a totally normal (yet suspiciously awesome) guy, farming moisture-- I mean, chopping wood and building bridges and all that fun stuff. Evil storm troopers-- I mean, uh, evil D'Haran soldiers suddenly come barging in from this unknown world that's been sealed away for centuries, and adventure begins to ensue. We also get a glimpse at Darth Vader-- I mean, Darken Rahl, who is the main villain of the first season and a recurring character of the second.
As events start to unfold, Richard meets a remarkably badass and extraordinarily hot Princess Leia-- I mean, Kahlan, who is a Confessor. She can mind-control people into loveslaves, detect lies, kick ass with a pair of daggers, and telekinetically hold her bodice together while it shows off as much cleavage as she can manage.
Richard gets increasingly confused by the supernatural events around him, and finally confronts his uncle-- I mean, father, about it. His dad tells him to go find the old man who lives in a shack not far away, Obi-Wan Kenobi-- I mean, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, who ends up being a jedi knight-- I mean, wizard.
You still with me? Cool.
Anyway, Zedd and Kahlan tell Richard that he is the prophesied one, the Seeker of Truth, destined to bring peace to the world and destroy Rahl. He tells them to shove it and goes home, only to find that the D'Haran soldiers (specifically one soldier, who is a real piece of work) has killed his dad (gasp, spoilers!) and framed Richard for the crime. In light of the death of his parental figure, he goes back to Zedd and Kahlan and decides that he would like to be a jedi-- I mean, the Seeker, after all.
A lot of people, I think, didn't get past this. It's simply too strikingly resemblant to the plot of the first Star Wars movie (or at least the beginning of it), and nobody took the show seriously despite solid acting, gorgeous scenery, amazing costuming, fun action, and good special effects. Pity.
Now that we've established that – the show is actually fantastic.
The characters totally rock. It has a focused cast that never stretches beyond five central characters, and they're pretty friggin' loveable.
Richard: (Neutral Good) – Richard seems like he's gonna be your standard reluctant everyman hero at first, and for a little bit he is. However, it doesn't really take him all that long to embrace his role as the Seeker, and his personal moral code starts to take hold. Turns out, Richard has a heart of gold and never compromises his own ethics, almost to the point of stupidity. If he wasn't such a badass, his wide-eyed perspective on life would have gotten him killed many times over. However, he is that badass, fair and square, and he manages to struggle past the obstacles in his path (taking his licks when he has to) and never compromises what he believes in.
Kahlan: (Lawful Neutral w/ Good Tendencies) – While she is personally my least favorite character on the show, other fans love Kahlan, and for good reason. She has cool abilities, such as the power to discern lies and the ability to “confess”, which permanently binds people to her and makes them her thralls. She isn't exactly crazy about doing this but she does it a lot anyway, usually against D'Haran soldiers, officers, or other people that are going to get killed anyway if she doesn't confess 'em. She's no-nonsense yet caring, but she does have a traditionalist facet that is intriguing if not endearing – her belief in what must be too often overrides her feelings of what should be, leading to her occasionally making some really distasteful decisions. Still, she's affectionate and compassionate, along with being fierce and strong.
Also cleavage. Sorry, sorry. But seriously: cleavage.
Zedd: (Chaotic Good) – Why hello, Zedd, what do you have in store for today's episode? What do you mean, 'look at the script'? Oooh... I see.
This guy is a wizard of absurd power, which they often try to excuse with the fact that he is also super old and therefore liable to forget some stuff from time to time. This leads to Zedd's abilities fluctuating by the episode, generally being dependent on whether or not the plot demands them. His magical abilities range from the ability to cast massive ritual spells and even stoptime, to just tossing firebolts. However, no matter how useful stopping time might be, when it'd be too convenient for him to do so he seemingly forgets how.
Besides that, however, he's funny, smart, and cool, and he always seems to be the guy who finds the third option when both of the obvious choices seem to really suck.
Darken Rahl: (Lawful Evil to the bone) – Lord Rahl is like, the ultimate villain. He's sinister, intelligent, powerful, skilled, ruthless, and well-groomed, and you can even relate to him in a sort of crazy way (particularly in the second season, where we see more of his human side now that he's not the main baddy). I'll kinda lay off talking about him too much, because spoilers, but seriously, he rules.
Like, a lot.
Cara: (Does Not Compute – Lawful Chaotic – GACK) – Cara Mason doesn't show up until the end of the first season, and she doesn't join the core team until the beginning of the second. However, she is far and away my favorite character on the show. She's one of the Mord-Sith – an ancient order of leather-clad, anti-magic, bisexual dominatrix badasses who are sworn to serve Lord Rahl. For [INSERT REASONS HERE] she breaks away from the other Mord-Sith and joins up with Seeker & Co., where she proceeds to be absolutely fantastic. Not only does she bring a whole new meaning to the word 'badass' (with her pain-resistance, anti-magic, and dual-wielded Agony Dildos), she is tragic while having a lot of really endearing character moments, and even has some of the funniest lines and moments in the show. She is also thoughtful enough to modify the traditional Mord-Sith uniform to show off more cleavage.
Obviously I can't do an in-depth review on the entire storyline of a 44-episode television series, but I can glance over some of the highlights.
Scenery: Holy crap. I mean, it's set in New Zealand, so that pretty much explains its own self. The scenery is absolutely fabulous.
Costuming: This is kind of a weird thing to touch down on but I need to make mention of it. The costuming in this show is really fantastic – like really fantastic. You already get a glimpse from the core cast, but honestly, every lowly henchman or soldier or map-maker or garden-variety Mord-Sith just has truly amazing outfits, be it cool fantasy armor, robes, skintight leather BDSM-suits, or anything in between.
Plot: The overarcing plotline is standard enough – hero fight bad guy, hero save world – with minimal twists along the way, but it's the individual episodes that give the show flavor. Each episode has its own mini-story, its own little quest, its own problem that has to be solved, and each time we get to see how Seeker & Co. handles things. Each new episode shows more personality and more cool abilities, shows more of each character's moral code and shows more of the world around them, and the people in it.
Then, in season two, Hell opens up and zombies start to pour out! YAY!
Relationships: Whether it's the romance between Richard and Kahlan, the devotion of Cara to Richard, the mentor-figure relationship of Zedd to Richard, the tense, subtexty rivalry of Kahlan and Cara, or the “I can save you” relationship between Richard and Darken Rahl, each relationship is driven home with fantastic execution. The dialogue is consistently vibrant and each passing episode cements the characters in your heart – it doesn't scramble for shock value by destroying characters, but instead constantly builds on them by testing, tempering, and rewarding them.
I've probably said enough as is, and there's no way I've held your attention for this long. So, without further ado, I'd just love to recommend the show and tell you that I really love it – it has a special place in my heart, a special enough place to warrant a nearly two thousand word review. The whole thing is even on Netflix's instant watch, so if you are ever looking for something new to sink your teeth into, something with finite size but a satisfying climax, try taking a risk on Legend of the Seeker.
Thank you, and goodnight.
Unless it's morning where you are.
In which case, just... goodbye I guess.
Anyway, remember that you heard it here first (unless you didn't)! Be more like me, and do things I do, because I'm cool!
Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a music review, right?
Yes, yes indeed it has. The first and last music review I did was on The Scarlet Ending, and while music may not exactly be my area of expertise I had a blast writing the article, since music is very much something I love.
Now, over the past couple years I’ve been spending the majority of my time in an establishment with a continuously looping soundtrack that doesn’t change. How anyone is capable of surviving this is beyond me, but it quickly became apparent that earbuds were soon to be my best friend. This experience has vastly improved my appreciation of music.
You see, you can fill your head with the stuff you’d rather be listening to, and that assuages the pain of having to listen to Michael Jackson and Ace of Base on the radio. But the thing is, back in those dark days, I only really had so much music I listened to. Once you've played out the ten or so bands you know, a few hundred times, they quickly become just as intolerable as the tripe I’d been avoiding.
This lead to a musical renaissance for me, a time where I was forced to adapt or die. I had to find new music that I enjoyed, a lot of it, and fast. This lead to a lot of experimentation, and lead to me exposing myself to a ton of new artists.
Among the new bands that I found during that Dark Age was a fairly unknown group known as The Vincent Black Shadow, named after the motorcycle of the same name.
The Genre!: A standard glance at Wikipedia tells me that the group is ‘Alt Rock’ which is… well, frustrating. The term ‘alt’ means nearly nothing, since it just means “y’know, it’s a li’l different” without actually saying how.
However, my own efforts to describe the group’s distinct style meet with equal futility. They manage to be dark, yet upbeat — but upbeat without being particularly cheery. On a scale of hardness, they are… firm? While they have a catchy and intense sound that you can tap your foot (or in my case, bob your head) to, they don’t have the ‘noisy’ aspect of metal, nor do they have the consistent speed of punk, or the gloomy pace of gothic music, which puts them in a strange gray area.
On top of that, they have no specific gimmicks (such as trumpet) to auto-slap a new genre into the mix, yet lyrically they deal with some very dark topics such as trauma, surgery, insanity, and possibly rape (depending on your interpretation of the song “Surgery”).
So, when all is said and done, and I’ve attacked this from every angle my limited pool of knowledge allows, I come to… well, alt rock.
The Voice!: My favorite part about this band is its lead singer, originally Cassandra Ford (more on this later). She has a power that is not too frequently seen in female rock vocalists, along with being outright competent. She hits all the notes she can be expected to, is vocally fluid without doing that annoying wiggly thing, and is even able to hold her own with non-lyrical sounds (moans and whatnot — not entirely sure how to describe that; once again, my musical knowledge is limited at best and I speak the words of a simpleton).
Though, with their latest album, Cassie Ford decided to take a hike and work on something else. As a result, the band’s keyboardist, Nikki Hurst, took one for the team and stepped up to the plate.
We haven’t gotten to see a lot from Nikki yet (currently, only a single EP features her voice), but reception has been mixed, as are my own feelings on her. On one hand, I have to give her props — she stepped into a very long shadow by filling Ford’s role in the band, and she does not have the forceful presence of the band’s last vocalist. However, her voice does have… personality, and has been described as “downright funky”. My only real complaint about her is that her voice doesn’t always manage to stand out against the backing music.
The Verdict!: I enjoy the hell out of the band, honestly, and while not every song is a hit I really enjoy listening to them. The roster-change was an unneeded burp in the works but now that I have adjusted, I don’t think it really harmed the band. They’re dark, yet catchy, lighter than some more hardcore stuff but in no way fluffy, and songs bring their own individual melodies to get caught and tumble around in your head. I recommend them — so be more like me, and do things I do, since I am cool!
Metro (Cassie Ford)
In A Row (Cassie Ford)
El Monstruo (Cassie Ford)
Surgery (Cassie Ford)
Stupid Intruders (Cassie Ford)
The House of Tasteful Men (Cassie Ford)
Head In A Box (Cassie Ford)
Watch Out! (Nikki Hurst)
Welcome Home (Nikki Hurst)
For more of my reviews and non-comic-related articles and blogs, come visit me over at Chronicles of a Stoic Maniac, and maybe I'll give you a cookie!
(I've learned a bit more about uploading images and making pretty threads, so here ya go. ^_^)
(Will repeat certain feats if they fit into more than one category)
Left to right:
- Stands on one finger.
- Smushes Bruce Wayne
- Smushes Black Lantern Roman Sionis.
- Brings a grown man to his knees with a handshake.
- Throws a grown man several stories straight up.
Left to right:
- Stands on one finger.
- Flips over the Arkham gate (while dodging bullets)
- Doing flips while firing accurately.
- (The rest) A fight with Batman where she is nearly untouchable and barely fighting back.
Left to right:
- Tanks being shot off in a rocket and crashing. No visible wounds.
- Regenerates from a bullet wound.
- Word of mouth -- is flattened by a mechanical mallet, bounces right back.
Speedblitzes, immune to joker venom, flat-out dominates him.
He thinks he's tough -- she tosses him off a balcony.
Vs. Killer Croc
Croc gets the jump. Harley wins anyway (then passes out).
Vs. Batman (1)
Blocks his punch, gets lost in the chaos, comes back, squashes him.
Vs. Batman (2)
Tanks his hits, creates havoc with minions, catches his rope and drives him through the floor.
Vs. Batman (3)
Missing a few scans from this. He actually does hit her with a batarang once (while she is making faces at him), and another time bashes her into a jukebox. The entire rest of the fight goes like this... she humiliates him.
Vs. Cass Cain and Tim Drake
She's dressed as Babs in this but she handles Cass and Tim pretty easily. Nightwing shows up later as well but they don't interact really. Segues into a chase scene, Harley escapes.
Left to right:
- Her little poprocks manage to distract/blind Big Barda rather effectively.
- Shooting accurately while doing flips.
- Quickdraws her popgun out of hammerspace to shoot Jimmy Olsen out of the way before a Joker-thug can pull the trigger.
- The rubber bullet bounces all over the place, she easily dodges it.
- Turns out that rubber bullet is deadly...
- ...Able to break ribs and whatnot, though again she evades it easily.
- Her Extend-O boxing glove shoots straight through a wall.
Men with guns vs. Harley tied to a chair -- Harley owns, with just shuriken and kunai.
Left to right:
- Threatens Bruce Wayne, who admits she'll probably beat him.
- Kicks Hush in the nerts.
- Out-flips and almost kills Catwoman.
- Underwater, in metal armor, with a spear, BEHEADS that giant shark, while surrounded by others. Is unscathed. Just holding that head up is a strength feat.