Friday, December 22, 2023

Aquaman II

Today I saw Aquaman II.

It's a lot of movie. Or, should I say, a lot of movieS, considering how much of it is set pieces cribbed from other films and property.  Perhaps James Wan was possessed by the ghost of Bob Kane.

Perhaps, like Topo, Wan's main power is mimicry.

The film is visually... overwhelming.  There seems to be even more happening even faster than in the first film and while it is certainly impactful, so is getting hit with a whale

Just ask Namor.

There is no doubt the visuals are beautiful, but honestly I am mostly deducing that, because my brain had insufficient time to PROCESS the images as they were presented and supplanted by the next.

Jason Momoa is, well, Jason Momoa, and always is pretty much playing Jason Momoa not just in this film but in any film, because Americans don't want who actors who play different parts, they want movie stars who play stereotyped versions of themselves.  I don't blame the American film industry for this, but the parasocial obsessions of American movie-goers.

Pictured: range.
Unfortunately, no pictures of his summer stock turn as "Professor" Harold Hill were available.

He also has gotten way too puffy-faced, even though he's not really that old (42).  He does look great -- huge-- in the classic orange scale-mail shirt, but given the lack of any shirtless scenes and his incredibly blousy civilian wear it's clear that he's not in superhero shape and won't be again.  

Say good-bye to that bod, folks. It has sunk beneath the waves of time.

 Before the beard and long-hair were biker-sexy. Now it just says "bear night at the leather bar."

Patrick "Orm" Wilson has extended shirtless scenes in the film. And those scenes say "DILF".
He's five years older than Momoa. 

Speaking of Orm, there are some who are saying that the buddy-comedy part of the film that focuses on the relationship between the half-brothers are the best part of the film.  I am not one of them.  It wasn't completely cringey, but it stank of Thor-Loki.  One's an uptight haughty supervillain; the other's an irreverent bro-dude superhero; together, they fight crime and make wan jibes at each other.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (still) isn't very charismatic or even just very good as Black Manta. But he doesn't really have to be, since all Black Manta. has to be is vengeful.

And he's only a threat because some ancient evil Atlantis-adjacent tyrant is using him as a hand-puppet, because doesn't it ALWAYS come back to some ancient evil Atlantis-tyrant at some point? 

I have front-loaded the downsides of the film, as I usually do in a review of anything. But know that I did still enjoy the film.  I mean, it has the Neal Pozner stealth uniform, Art Junior sending little concentric rings of marine telepathy from his forehead, and TOPO RIDING STORM THE SEA-HORSE.  For that kind of fan-service, I can forgive a lot.  

The costume looks awesome. I think live action has helped people realize how cool Aquaman's costume actually is; it just DRAWS poorly.

Watching the first film, I found enough fun and novelty to distract me from the film's flaws, which I felt only upon reflection.  In the second film, however, I was conscious of the film's flaws AS I was watching it; THAT was distracting.  

P.S. My hot-take?

The film shows us that Arthur Junior has Arthur's aquatic telepathy 

and he is the child of Mera, who has aquakinesis.


There I deduce that the Filmation Aquaman is, in fact, Arthur Curry JUNIOR, not senior.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Merry Little Batman

Today I watched Merry Little Batman.  As anyone who knows me in the slightest knows, I am,  it is fair to say, "not a Christmas person."

Pictured: Not a Christmas Person.

My idea of Christmas movies is "Black Christmas" (the original), "It's a Wonderful Knife", or "Dead End" (2004).  

"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go..."

I am, however, a Batman person. And so I watched "Merry Little Batman."

The bad?  The hideous, off-putting "Sponge Bob style" animation.   The wildly inappropriate song choices, which if I had been watching this film with a child would have caused me to turn it off immediately.  Some cartoony violence that's more Looney Toons than Batman (which is odd, since Warner Bros. passed on releasing this film themselves and gave it to M-G-M as some sort of tax write-off / holiday gift).  There seems to be some sort of Brit-tinged "edgy" humo(u)r that colors a lot of these decisions, which is also odd since the director is from Allentown.

Perhaps it's Allentown's long-festering yule-envy of neighboring Bethlehem, which gets all the Christmas tourism.

And the severely mixed messaging of young Damian learning that eight-year-olds are, unsurprisingly and obviously, definitely totally not ready to fight crime and of his father Bruce learning that eight-year-old are, suddenly and inexplicably, definitely totally ready to fight crime.

But there is a good. It got a few belly laughs out of me, which was a pleasant surprise.  The idea of villains who have grown elderly is one I've seldom seen. Damian's natural talent for collateral damage not being a cartoon throwaway but a crux of the plot was an enjoyable twist.  And seeing a Joker who has grown sentimental but no less dangerous, manipulative was an unexpected delight.

It's not easy to portray a Joker who is both silly and insidious, but they nailed it.

It is definitely not "destined to be a classic".  But unless you are the starchiest of Batman fans, you will probably get some enjoyment out of "Merry Little Batman".