Monthly Archives: December 2020

How To Ruin a Movie with Just One Character


I’m gonna say it, all right? I love Wonder Woman.

Conceptually, I mean. Like, she’s basically the answer to Superman, right? This broad, poorly designed skillset. She can basically do anything the situation calls for, as long as she “discovers the power within herself” and she’s doing it to save somebody, or save some institution, or you know, she feels like it or whatever. I mean, she flies in the new movie. Lassos bullets. Heck, she hookshots and Tarzan-swings off of friggin’ lightning in the new movie.

And it’s awesome. Who cares if it makes sense? I wasn’t a fan of the comic books or of the old school show or anything, but you know what? She’s a great girl-power character, the first movie is tons of fun, and it’s a harmless guilty pleasure. Is the first Wonder Woman a great movie? I dunno. But it’s definitely good enough to rank in the top half of the superhero movies out there, and it’s probably near the top of DC’s catalog. (Sorry, DC. You kind of suck.)

And there’s a new Wonder Woman out! Holy shnikes! Wonder Woman has this new badass gold armor with wings, oh my god. And it’s in this awesome 80’s aesthetic with that new-wave soundtrack? That was so cool in Thor: Ragnarok! This is gonna be amazing. I couldn’t wait.

See the source image

And I gave up on the movie about twenty minutes in.

I can’t even speak to how good the movie is generally, because I couldn’t get past this one thing. The movie went so horribly and stupidly off the rails before it even got out of the first act, it never got me back.

Mild spoilers here — I’m not going past the first act as I mentioned — but here’s your warning.

Her love interest from the first movie is back.

Was that in the trailers? I can’t remember. I remember seeing a trailer in the movie theatre back when we could still go to movie theatres, which was what, about seven years ago?

But he’s back. And I get it, he’s the big-name co-star in the franchise. He’s probably contractually obligated, fans maybe want to see him; this is Hollywood. Okay, fine. But if you saw the first movie, and if you have basic math skills, you recognize there’s a problem here.

The first Wonder Woman is set in the time of World War I, when Chris Pine plays a pilot. Wonder Woman 1984 is set in … 1984. So there’s some time passed there, and they can no longer (if they want to be story-consistent) have young, beautiful Chris Pine in the movie; that doesn’t make sense.

So instead, Gal Godot, young and immortal because Wonder Woman and all that, is approached by some rando at a public event. He hits her with something only Chris Pine would say. Slaps Chris Pine’s old wristwatch into her hand. It’s him. Her old flame. They go back to his room. We see the rando in the room, but there’s Chris Pine in the mirror, and from here on out, rando dude disappears and we only see our beautiful, rugged, contractually-obligated Chris Pine in the movie.

But like … how? I mean, I get it. Chris Pine’s soul or whatever has wound up in this random dude, but the movie has no interest in explaining how or why he got there. Wonder Woman literally asks him “how” and he’s all “I have no idea,” and that’s about as close as the movie gets to explaining this.

This is bad storytelling.

This is not in and of itself a bad plot idea — and certainly it’s been done in movies before, to better or worse effect. But here, it’s handled so badly that my eyebrows shot up to the top of my head and did not return to normal until hours after the movie was over and I had fallen asleep. I mean, explaining this thing away is easy, right? There is, literally, magic in the world when Wonder Woman is involved. The first movie’s big villain is the Greek God of War, for heck’s sake. Literally call on any god watching out for Diana, wanting to do her a favor, to squirt her old flame’s soul into this new husk like Cheez-Whiz into an olive, and bang, there’s your answer. But no, the movie just hand-waves it away and we’re expected to go along.

Or how about this? Start the movie not from Wonder Woman’s perspective (do we really need to go back to the island where the first movie started, aside from the super-obvious plant about not taking shortcuts from princess Buttercup?). Start instead from this rando’s perspective. Show his apartment. He’s obsessed with tracking Wonder Woman. He’s got newspaper clippings of this strange woman at the site of all these strange occurrences, pictures of Diana walking around town. The stereotypical red yarn zig-zagging across a big creepy stalker bulletin board. Dude is obsessed with her and we don’t know why. Feels creepy. Is he the villain? Is he gonna try to kill her? Then we go to the same big event. He’s got his collar pulled up, his hood hiding his face. He sees her. She moves away from the crowd. He makes his move — he’s gonna grab her, DANGIT WONDER WOMAN DON’T GET PUNKED BY THIS FOOL — and there’s the watch. And she knows it, and we know it, and okay, we haven’t explained any more what’s going on with this guy but we’re at least involved and we care about him.

But we don’t get that. We get a rando who Diana recognizes immediately as her guy and we’re asked not to worry about it. And I can’t do it. If you’re gonna bring back a character who should be dead or at the very least aged into uselessness to go on an adventure with your heroine, you have to at least make an attempt at telling your audience how it’s possible. I mean, audiences maybe aren’t as tough to please now as they were a year or two ago? COVID has softened our hearts. We just want to be entertained. Take us on a journey.

But that doesn’t mean you get to pretend we’re stupid.

And the presence of Chris Pine in this movie says that we’re stupid. It feels like the movie studio throwing up the big middle finger to us, saying “whatever, it’s a Wonder Woman movie and Chris Pine comes with the Wonder Woman movies, so just shut up and sit on your couch and eat your popcorn.”

Is WW84 a good movie?

I really can’t tell you, because I never got past this crap.


WriteMonkey on my Back


I fired up WriteMonkey again a few weeks ago, as I mentioned back then. And I don’t mean to harp on a thing or make too big a deal of something that’s ultimately not that big a deal, but I love this little program. It makes me want to write, and it has all these little bells and whistles that set off little dopamine hits while I’m writing. Word counters and progress bars and clickety clackety sound effects and all sorts of little whatnots.

I fired off 1000+ words in something like the space of 30 minutes because I just … wanted to. And I was having fun with it. Just poking at the edges of this new project. Outlining. Brainstorming. Course-plotting. It didn’t feel like work, it felt like play, which is, you know, what a hobby is supposed to feel like, right? At least, sometimes?

If you struggle as I do with getting the words flowing sometimes, it’s worth trying out. Did I make this same post a few weeks ago? I don’t know. But I’m enjoying it today and it’s worth mentioning.


Back in Action


Well, we came through our COVID scare.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more useless in my life. No energy, no drive to do anything, with a vicious head cold that nothing could really assuage, for about five days.

And I had it easy. My wife had it a lot worse, more like two weeks, and she’s still not 100%.

But even that isn’t on the *bad* end of this thing. Lots of people have had it way worse.

We’re back at work now, but we are far from the only people in our schools to contract this thing lately. It’s going around.

Wear a mask. Be smart out there. Stay healthy.


SUPERHERO


A giant inflatable Lego Batman was assaulting the city.

Stomping on cars, picking people up and depositing them (unharmed, he’s not a monster) several blocks away, dragging his rough rubber exterior across the facades of buildings and making a nuisance of himself. When he got to MOMA, it had gone far enough. (I don’t know what MOMA looks like or whether the cityscape this was happening in was anything remotely like where you would find MOMA, but this was a dream, so … you know, logic has no place.)

Luckily, I was there, and I was ready to leap into action. Because I was Batman. Too. Yes, I was Batman too, except I was the real Batman, and I was also Will Smith. So my wife and I (yes, my real wife, because real Batman needs a Real Wife) hopped in the Batmobile which was really just a fancy black Lincoln — real smooth, you know, clean lines, tasteful, refined, not flashy like those other Batmobiles have to be — and, well, getting to the site of the inflatable Lego Batman was a problem because it was during rush hour traffic, and you know how it can be, so it took us a few minutes.

Also, the Batmobile flew, which was fortunate, because the Batmobile had no tires. Somebody had stolen them or something, I dunno.

Anyway, we got to the scene of the crime where inflatable Lego Batman was dragging his body across the front of MOMA and really causing a heck of an inconvenience to everybody and the first thing I did was throw a car at him, which because he’s inflatable and made of rubber didn’t work out so hot; it just kinda came right back at me. What also came back at me was Lego Batman’s mom (looked kinda like Susan Sarandon) with a claim for damages against her son. Yeah, turns out this whole thing was an insurance scam somehow, but screw that lady, I don’t have time for your lawsuits, I have to save MOMA, so I ran over to inflatable Lego Batman with a well-sharpened Batarang (are Batarangs sharp? I dunno. Mine was), sliced inflatable Lego Batman’s feet wide open and he deflated like an old waterbed.

Uhh…. dreams are weird.

Interpret that one for me.


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