Movies

Lightyear

What a colossal waste of time. I thought maybe the other reviews were wrong, but no, no, they were right on the money. And it has nothing to do with the shoehorned in lesbian commander and her kiss. It’d be great if maybe characters were allowed time to be fleshed out, to be more than walking, talking caricatures. But none of that happened. Disney is here to sell merchandise, and that’s the only reason for these characters to be the way they are. Gotta hit all the demographics across the board. You might think that the suits interfered with the story, but no, that blame is solely at the feet of the two writers: Angus MacLane, and Jason Headley. The former is also the director of the movie, and a known animator. These two somehow managed to create an entire story devoid of any emotions, entirely dumbed down characters, and plot events that happen because our heroes are inept idiots that cause their own trouble. That last bit feels like a bit of a projection on behalf of the writers. Thank you both for confirming you are idiots.

The plot is that Buzz Lightyear maroons 1200 people on a desolate planet because his ego is too much, and he’s too full of himself. To rectify his mistake, he volunteers to test out the proprietary fuel supply which is unstable that results in time dilation and everyone around him aging. All his friends and everyone he’s ever known gets old, and eventually passes away. Tragic, right? Surely, there’d be some sort of plot element to address this, right? Surely, Buzz will get a chance to process some emotions… oh wait, never mind, onto the next plot element. Because Buzz ain’t a fleshed out character resembling a human being, no, he’s a piece of franchise material: nothing but merchandise. And then the evil Zurg is explained away with the dumbest twist possible because Pixar are too cowardly to admit that the Buzz Lightyear cartoon is much better than any drivel they can come up with (they actually straight up copied themselves for the villain).

Each of the supporting characters is a total nitwit that constantly causes more problems and do nothing but make quips. They’re all supposedly 20+ years old and yet inexplicably act like children. Yes, it is a children’s movie and yet much of the plot is aimed at adults while simultaneously dumbing everything down that the end result is neither for adults or kids. Good job, Angus, keep proving to the world that animators should just stick to animating and leave writing to actual writers. Perhaps if Jason was in charge of all the writing, it might have turned out decent.

It’s a damn shame really. Pixar did a great job animating, as usual. But, other than the animation, it squarely belongs in the trash. The two writers proving that their ability to type is akin to monkeys on a typewriter, and after having seen this travesty, I wonder how they live with nothing but air between their ears.

Do not pass go, do not watch this garbage. I do not recommend it to anyone. Hug your kids, and have a family night instead of this. Show them Buzz Lightyear of Star Command if you want a proper Buzz story.

TV Shows

Ms. Marvel

This was the first Marvel show that felt like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant pond. The formulaic pattern to all their shows and movies left one wondering if it was possible to interject new life into it all. Yet, there was a spark here, and it blossomed into a wonderful tale about a young, Muslim girl, who struggles to find her own identity as she clashes with a clandestine organization, a shadowy government agency and all that comes with growing up in a culturally rich household. The relationship of her character with her well-meaning Pakistani family and the culture clash that arises with the notion of superheroes, is given room to play out. At the center of all this, is newcomer actress Iman Vellani, in her first onscreen role, who is just a delight to behold.

Early on, across the six episodes that make up the miniseries, there’s a scene between Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and her parents. They want to take her to the comic-con she’s been wanting to go, on the condition her dad takes her. He’s so excited, and even dressed up as Hulk in an attempt to connect with his daughter. But in a typical teenage fashion, she bungles it up, disappoints her parents, and hurts her dad’s feelings. It was the acting of Iman in that scene that ultimately connected me with her character, and her depiction of the character. She expertly portrayed the various emotions that come in such a scene. Of feeling guilty, and about to cry upon the realization that you made your parents upset. That you directly caused the tears in your dad’s eye. Her acting here was nothing short of amazing, especially for a newcomer.

The story is not without its faults, such as having villains with not enough character development established to explain why’d they do things. This results in it feeling rushed, that the villains rushed through to try and get to their victory. It takes away from the excellent world building, and character development that’s happened so far. Yet even with all that, it manages to finish strong. Its strength lies in the familial story arcs. Of Kamala’s parents and their relationship to their superhero daughter or of being accepted by the community despite being a Muslim hero with a dazzling set of powers. And speaking of powers, the changes to her powerset from the comics is perfectly okay because this is a character that is all about her identity within the community, and her religion clashing with her identity as a superhero. Individuals don’t relate to the character because she can stretch her arms, or change into another person. They relate because they’ve known that struggle of being different, of being an ethnic immigrant struggling compared to your Caucasian neighbors. The culture clash that inevitably arises.

The CGI is on par with current Marvel miniseries outings, and the musical score was truly impeccable. I loved the fusion of Indian/Pakistani music and hip-hop beats to create this stylistic fresh take on the urban hero. It really helped add to her cultural identity. The creative use of CGI to demonstrate conversation also helped it to stand out. The supporting cast was good, especially Zenobia Shroff as Kamala’s mom and Mohan Kapur as Kamala’s dad.

Overall, I really liked the show. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be “wholesome”. And it really helps that the lead actress, Iman Vellani is so endearing in her portrayal of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel.

TV Shows

Hawkeye

After the success of both WandaVision, and Loki, comes yet another Disney+ show about one of the lesser screen time heroes. This time we get a look at Clint Barton, and how he’s dealing with being an avenger, his family, and a newcomer that falls into his lap because of her own shenanigans. Kate Bishop is that person, a young girl that witnessed Hawkeye in the battle of New York which forever shaped her opinion on what it means to be a hero. Together, they team up and put an end to the nefariousness of the tracksuit gang, and that of a mysterious villain who controls the undercity.

It was enjoyable seeing battles take place in the street, at a very personal level, instead of being a ‘save the world’ type deal. Everything tried to be grounded, as best as one can being a hero that shoots a bow with trick arrows, but a few things slip by that ruin the immersion. For me, it’s the way they shoot their arrows, it’s painfully obvious they’re not actually drawing real arrows or pulling the bow string back, just using CGI instead. And then the finale, several instances of Deus Ex Machina (Mother using car to ram bad guy – first, when did we hear the ignition? And secondly, she’d have to drive down the street, pull a U-turn, and then come back and line herself up). Nobody bothers to seriously injure Kate Bishop yet she’s going way harder on them, injuring bad guys. Finale should have ended with Spoiler Big Bad knocking her out to kingdom come.

We did get a nice spiritual ending/send off for Black Widow that was better, and actually tastefully done, than her own solo movie. Guess you shouldn’t piss off the mouse by asking for equal money payments. Watching Florence Pugh again, after seeing her in the trash she was in, still not sure about her acting, though it is a marked improvement over previous efforts. Jeremy Renner is the same old, he’s always just been a meh actor to me. Hailee Steinfeld is always a pleasure to watch since her Oscar nomination for True Grit, she totally outshined everyone. I could just watch her character doing her own thing, with her own show. She’s a joy to behold on screen.

Overall, it was much better, in my opinion, than the previous two tv show outings by Marvel. It had heart, and character, but out of the 6 episodes, only the finale really mattered. The rest was filler, and I guess this is a problem with Marvel’s shows. They are designed to not matter because not every fan will watch it all, some will just watch the movies, and so the plot of the shows doesn’t really matter. If Billy Bob is just going to watch the movies, then the movie will have all of the relevant information, and retain nothing from the shows. Case in point was in Spiderman: No Way Home, as nothing of Loki was mentioned, just that the multiverse shouldn’t be doing that. I digress. Hawkeye’s a fun Christmas show. You might enjoy it.

TV Shows

WandaVision

I had high hopes when the show initially started due to the meta usage of layering a show within a show. And then the slow reveal that everything was a reality created by Wanda was unique. I enjoyed the performance by Randall Park as Jimmy Woo, it brought in comedy to what was otherwise a grim affair. Elizabeth Olsen did an excellent job portraying a woman consumed by grief and the PTSD that comes from watching your loved one die (twice in her case). I was indifferent to Paul Bettany as Vision. There’s not much that character can bring emotionally to the table. He’s more a tool to advance Wanda’s character.

The rest of the supporting cast characters such as Captain Rambo, Darcy, Hayward, and her twins all did pretty decent. Nothing outstanding, just played their roles. Agatha was campy fun and a nice foil to Wanda, but ultimately served little purpose other than to accentuate Wanda as the Scarlet Witch. The citizens of Westview had little effect on the plot, I thought they would have more than what was shown. That they would have a greater impact on Wanda’s character but they simply served to reminder her that her actions have consequences.

Spoilers From Here On

Ultimately, I was filled with disappointment. They failed to deliver what I had hoped to have been shown. I was expecting to see a Scarlet Witch devastated by loss and brought to madness but it’s Disney, they never have the courage to show such loss. Gotta keep it kid friendly – yet their cartoons have no problems killing off the mom characters. I was expecting Wanda’s twins to die, and Vision to die, and then consumed by grief and vengeance, she becomes the Scarlet Witch and a tragic villain. Instead, we got a Wanda that accepted her loss (for the moment) and reverted everything to normal except the townsfolk hate her guts, oh and she stole the magical evil spellbook. Any devoted fans recognize it from Agents of Shield? Yup, the book that made Ghost Rider and the same book he took to Hell, somehow showed up in Agatha’s hands. I’m slightly angered by that. Shows they don’t care at all for Agents of Shield and that they’re clearly retconning it. And watch, all sorts of various sites are gonna be talking about how the darkhold can bring all sorts of magical things to the MCU… Newsflash people! It’s already happened!

Other disappointments include the Vision vs Vision fight. Two entities capable of phasing through matter fighting into a stalemate and then having a philosophical match. Yawn. Captain Rambo gets powers and she uses it to stop bullets. Another yawn.

Honestly, this entire show was just a marketing ploy for Doctor Strange 2. You could have cut it down to four hour long episodes and you’d have achieved the same result. The only gains were a new superhero, Vision back from the dead, and Wanda as Scarlet Witch. And all of that was simply teased, never allowed to go to full fruition. It’s clear the movies are their main goal to forward the MCU, and the TV shows are but appetizers to slightly sate your hunger while they prepare the main course.

Overall, I actually don’t recommend watching this. It’s a time sink with little to no payout. You’ll have learned nothing going into Doctor Strange 2 that would influence the plot. If you knew comics at all, you already know Wanda is the Scarlet Witch. If you do insist on viewing it, you can skip every episode and watch the finale and you would have learned as much as those that watched it in its entirety. This was a special effects extravaganza and light on storytelling. Then again, it’s Disney. What did one expect?