REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (On the Wings of Keeradaks)

I’m so happy my optimism in this series is paying off.

Three episodes in, and the future is looking bright in this final season of The Clone Wars. In a nutshell, I’m beginning to care about each character more and more, and the stories being told are getting better, or at least this one is. I’m still unsure if this final season will be the usual mini-arcs that the show is known for, or if it will be one big long arc. We shall see in the coming weeks. Regardless, everything going on right now? Thumbs up.

When last we left our heroes…

This episode picks up pretty much immediately where the previous episode left off, where we see Tech of the Bad Batch working fast in order to properly disconnect Echo from the Techno Union machine he’s hooked into. If you remember, Echo has been cybernetically changed, and it made me make a lot of dumb Star Trek jokes in the previous review. I’ll try to lay off those here. We pick up immediately right after this happens, we’re in some fun Clone War action and the “Advanced” Battle Droids of the Techno Union are making Imperial Stormtroopers look like crack shots (I always have to chuckle when the battle droids are standing like ten feet away from our heroes, guns blazing, and STILL missing.

When they are successful in disconnecting Echo, Echo gives the absolute best line of the entire episode. “Rex… I got a big headache.” Dammit, this line should give me tears, because despite not having seen this character since Season 3, it very much brings back the old jabber the clones would often give through the entire show, and it fits so damn well here. 10/10 on that line.

What also gets a 10/10 is that watching this, I began to realize just how much I was starting to like all these characters, particularly the Bad Batch. Admittedly when they first came onscreen, I wasn’t entirely sure I would care that much for them, but they are genuinely becoming pretty god characters, and I do hope they aren’t just dropped after this arc. There was actually a moment here in the episode where I had to ask myself if Wrecker was about to die, and I was actually hoping he wouldn’t die. That only tells me that I am really starting to like these characters.

Wrecker die? I’m Anakin Skywalker, and I won’t let Wrecker die!

Our heroes escape the Techno Union, and Wat Tambor survives an explosion that likely should have killed him (but he can’t die until Episode III so count your blessings I guess), and we get a sequence that genuinely made me uncomfortable to watch. There’s just something about a sequence in which our heroes balance on a pipe, miles in the sky, that makes me shiver. Maybe I have a slight fear of heights when watching these. I don’t know what it is, but I was once again convinced someone was going to die.

All I want is a railing!

This might ironically lead me to one of my bigger criticisms of the episode… they probably should have had someone die. I don’t know, this might feel pretty trivial in the long run, but I mean, it really feels like this sequence was needlessly tense. I feel that the scene would have been far stronger if they showed us a little mortality here. Show us that the Bad Batch aren’t exactly immortal. The fact that everyone gets out of this jam just kinda took me out of it. Just barely. I don’t know if we will see the Bad Batch killed off in this final season or if they’re just a one and done team, but I feel that if maybe Wrecker, or Crosshair was lost here, it would have made me care even more for the surviving members of the Bad Batch.

Admittedly though, their leap of faith in their escape is pretty cool.

The heroes go to the village of the Natives who appeared in the last episode, and they get angry that Anakin and the clones have broken their word and that the war is coming to their village, and this is where my only other major criticism comes into play. Rex makes a bit of a speech about how yes, they unfortunately did bring the war to their village, but makes the excuse of what they did to Echo as a reason they had to? I don’t know, the speech he gives just doesn’t really fit the situation if you ask me. But I admit I do have to hold off on more Borg jokes with this speech with all the “turning him into a machine” and “robbed him of humanity” statements he makes.

Rex successfully convinces the natives to join them in their fight against the Separatists, and admittedly, this battle is pretty cool. It’s very much a well executed David and Goliath battle as we see the natives and this group of clones fight of this droid attack force, complete with two big walkers, some badassery from the Bad Batch, and some absolutely charming banter from Echo to Anakin which very much brings me back to the good old days of the show.

Chakotay, pew pew… (Hooray for in-jokes)

The way the episode ends isn’t anything special, after the awesome battle, the natives thank the Jedi, and say the Jedi will always be welcome, and then we get some more dialogue from Rex and Echo, and how Echo tells him that it’ll be just like old times. And Echo seems skeptical as he repeats the phrase in a very unsure manner.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!!!!

Time for some Clone Wars Prediction Smackdown!

Is Echo the equivalent of a sleeper agent? Is he perhaps still connected to the Techno Union in some way? Tambor said that the clones ruined years of research when they abducted him and destroyed his work, yes, but it’s not unlike this show to pull a potential fast one on us. I can’t help but feel that Echo might know more than we’re being led to believe here. That or he’s going to go through a whole lot of PTSD here, and won’t exactly get the happy ending we hope he gets.

Well I mean, we definitely don’t see him in Star Wars: Rebels, so yeah, I’m not expecting good old Echo to last much longer, sadly. Here’s hoping his final story arc here really delivers. I have no doubts it will.

Three episodes in, and this show is flying high in my eyes! Again, I’m not sure if this ends this particular arc, or if there’s more to come, or if the entire season will be one long arc, but regardless of what happens here, I absolutely have no doubt that this will be well worth the journey. While this episode isn’t perfect, it’s definitely the strongest of the three out right now, and I wanna see more of it right the fuck now. It hasn’t blown me away yet, but I have no doubts it will. Keep it coming, Clone Wars!

Looking forward to next episode!

Make it So the Star Trek Picard Aftershow Episode 7 Nepenthe!

In part 1 we talk about Nepenthe what we thought about the character development so far and how the episode flowed turn in this is always fun!

Part one can be found here:

 

 

 

In part 2 our Prediction Smackdown! we talk about the predictions that came true and lay out some new ones always a blast!

Part 2 is here!

 

 

REVIEW: Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution

I got some bad news, Pikachu…

So I just watched Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, and is it too early to flash this gif?

I don’t care if it’s too early.

So I get that in the SuperGeeks world, I might be one of the few Pokénerds in the crowd, but I think this is still relevant enough to talk about. But before I go on, I should probably describe a bit about my love of the franchise. Arguably, I was much more into Pokémon as a child growing up. Yes, we all had that one thing we enjoyed as a kid. Being born in 1990, I was the prime target for the late 1990’s Pokémon fever that struck the United States. I remember just how big Pokémon was back in the ate 90’s. It was life itself. I was a huge collector of the trading cards, I watched the anime like it was crack, and I played plenty of Pokémon Yellow before the game cartridge itself was damaged. Good times, man.

And yes, with this epidemic of Pokémon in the States, I was one of many who went to theaters and saw the very first Pokémon movie in theaters. I remember this time with fond memories. I remember the Burger King toys they had for this movie, I remember the trading promo cards for the movie, I remember the card that came with the then very new DVD that I still own, and I remember my dad taking me and friends to go see this in theater.

And I honestly feel like I owe him an apology.

My reaction when I realize my childhood nostalgia doesn’t hold up as well as I want it to.

As much as I enjoy my memories of Pokémon growing up, and as much as I will admit that I still check out the franchise from time to time, I am not above saying that I am well aware that Pokémon is not very good when you analyze it for long, and I am not above saying that as an adult, I will not heckle it. The anime in particular has aged spectacularly in that “Wow, how did I ever like this?” kind of fashion. Granted, I actually own quite a few seasons of this show, and quite a few movies (Don’t you judge me!), but on the off-chance they are actually being watched, I find myself poking fun at it every single time, and I’m kinda accepting that the only real reason I still have these is that eventually, I’d like to be a happy father, and I’m 100% certain my children will find it as charming as I did growing up.

Mmmmm… that’s some good nostalgia…
(Seriously, I lived on Kids WB after school, and these promos were the shit.)

And since I intend to be a good father, I intend to keep this remake off their radar, because regardless of my stance of the film, whether or not I hold it in good regards as a nice bit of nostalgia, Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is about as good as an average Disney Live-Action remake.

Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is the CG-remake of the movie with the same name, and I am 100% convinced that had I seen this as my eight or nine-year-old self, I would think it’s just as bad as I do now. I just wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend just how much of a weird place Pokémon seems to be in right now. I don’t wanna sound like that one guy who is blinded by the nostalgia goggles over their eyes, but this just doesn’t do it for me. I had a pretty low bar watching this, and by the time the credits rolled, all I was asking myself was “Why did I watch this?”

So, inevitably, I’m going to be comparing a lot of this movie to the old, and some might say that this hinders my ability to fully comprehend the film as an adaptation, but the movie pretty much is a scene-for-scene remake of the entire film. It doesn’t do a lot different, and it does far too much in far too similar a fashion. If you’re gonna do this, I say the floodgates for comparisons are open and I’m going to enjoy swimming in it. Let’s just dive on in, shall we?

As a kid, what do you think will be more pleasing to watch?

So before I rip this film a new one, I will go ahead and list off things I actually liked about the film. For one thing, I actually appreciate how the movie opens up. The movie opens up in a jungle where we see a small expedition coming upon some ruins which house carvings of the Pokémon, Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon in existence. The scene mainly serves to provide some exposition and setup for how they stumble upon a Mew fossil, and how they intend to use that fossil to clone Mew, but it’s a scene that was completely cut from the theatrical release of the film, so it was nice to see them include it here, especially since I believe it was a sequence that was originally included for Japanese audiences back in the day.

Only seen on my DVD special features, or on certain VHS tapes if I remember correctly.

Another thing I can appreciate is the visuals. Why lie? Some of the animation in this remake is spot on. While admittedly, some of the character models are pretty weird, I will say that little details are actually really well done. The fabric of the clothes, blades of grass, shadows in the daylight, wrinkles in the clothes, the water looks fan-fuckin-tactic in this movie. Seriously, that water looks amazing! I just wanna go for a nice big swim in that water! 10/10 on that water! Even the Pokémon models are pretty stand-out for the right reasons with details and realism you wouldn’t normally see in the hand-drawn animated film being easy to spot and appreciate, from fur to scales.

I can also very much appreciate the battles and action in this same aspect. They do take full advantage of the CG here, and do their best to make these aspects look as good as they can with the new technology that arguably was not there for them back in 1999 when originally making this. I applaud some of these visual effects that they incorporate into this film, because it does look very good.

Seriously! These battle sequences look awesome!

Okay, so it’s got the look. But what about the feel? The essence? Well, I mean I already flashed my MST3K response up above so I guess that answer is pretty clear.

By the time the familiar plot begins to lay itself out, I couldn’t help but notice something strange, and it’s a problem that plagues most Disney remakes of today. Despite having the longer runtime, it seems to want to rush through some of the scenes that it really shouldn’t rush. The opening sequences of this movie feel like they are so rushed as far as introducing Mewtwo, and who he is. Mewtwo in the original is far more questioning about who he is, and why he was created. It isn’t until he realizes that the scientists who created him care little about him that he decides to kill everyone in the lab… yeah that happens. Little moments such as him learning to clench his fists, or thoughts about him not alllowing himself to be just a simple experiment to be tested and studied are completely glossed over. It wasn’t anything masterful by any means in the original, but it was far more impacting.

“Behold my powers! I am the strongest Pokémon in the world! Stronger even than Mew…”
A true badass boast of the original that is nowhere to be seen here.

Even when Giovanni arrives at the scene, he’s not nearly as manipulative as he was in the original. In the original, he earns Mewtwo’s trust (as short lived as it is in the runtime) by telling him that he and Mewtwo can control the fate of the world together. He makes awesome metaphors to how a wildfire destroys everything it touches, similar to how Mewtwo’s powers do, and that he can help Mewtwo better control those powers. Here… Giovanni barely touches this manipulation. He just kinda comes across as this black and white bad-guy who is somehow even more one-dimensional than his anime counterpart. The sequence of Mewtwo facing test after test doesn’t hit as hard when you don’t hear Mewtwo’s thoughts on him discovering just what he’s capable of. I mean sure, in the original, it was just a couple lines, but it delivers the point home that Mewtwo is still learning to control his power, and it better lands here. The same can be said for when he realizes that Giovanni sees him as nothing more than a tool for Giovanni’s own agenda; a moment that was so pivotal, it was shown to us twice in the animated media beforehand. I hate to say it, but so much of Mewtwo’s inner psyche and his inner thoughts on his existence, and the vendetta he develops with humans is completely gone. I just don’t care about it here. As silly as the original movie is, the goals and thoughts of Mewtwo are far better.

Man… all this over a Pokémon movie that’s 20 years old…

The three amigos!

This of course brings us to our main protagonists of the story, and yes… it was nice to see Misty and Brock by Ash’s side again, even if their new voice actors leave a lot to be desired (one thing 4Kids didn’t mess up). But it’s around this point in the movie that I noticed one very strange thing that proceeded to bug me throughout the entirety of the film… the dialogue. So much of this film’s dialogue is absolutely terrible. And that’s not me watching a kid’s movie with an adult mindset, that’s me comparing the two movies dialogue together. The original is far more charming. And no, this isn’t nostalgia talking. The dialogue of this movie just sucks. For comparison, here’s a moment that happens towards the beginning when Ash Ketchum, in his weak and hungry state, is challenged to a Pokémon battle by a trainer. Ash happily accepts the challenge. And here’s how it plays out in each adaptation. First, the original:

MISTY: Ash, you just said you were too weak to work!

ASH: That’s right, I am too weak to work, but a Pokémon battle isn’t work!

BROCK: That’s progress. At least his mouth is working.

And here’s this same sequence in the remake:

MISTY: What happened to the guy who couldn’t move a muscle?

ASH: I can have a Pokémon battle before breakfast! Maybe two!

BROCK: You’re forgetting one thing… you’re battling before lunch.

Look, even if you’re not a Pokémon fan, I think you know what the more charming exchange is. And this movie is absolutely FULL of these changes. None of which is better than the original. Whether it’s taking out a little comedy in the chemistry of the characters like the example up above, or making Mewtwo not as intimidating, or making Team Rocket look like an even bigger joke than they do in the original, none of the dialogue changes work in this movie for the better! They messed it up! Granted, I’m not saying it should have been the exact same, but I mean would it have been too much to at least try and make it somewhat good? The fact that I could remember the sequence up above BY MEMORY (no, I did not watch the original movie prior to watching this) only goes to show what is the stronger batch of writing!

Another example? In this same area of the film, when Team Rocket is spying on our main heroes, watching them eat lunch, well here’s the original, by memory:

MEOWTH: I’m starving.

JESSIE: (takes out a frying pan) I can cook something!

MEOWTH: Thanks, but the last time you cooked, you wiped out eight of my nine lives.

And now for the remake:

MEOWTH: Am I hungry!

JESSIE: (takes out frying pan) I’ve got a frying pan!

MEOWTH: But without something to fry, it’s little more than a round anvil made out of iron!

Fuck this dialogue. And fuck Team Rocket in this film, they’re terrible. Granted, they never had a standout role in these movies, and were always on the back burner, but even in the original film here, they did FAR more than simply stand around and deliver weak comic relief. They actually helped piece together the mystery of Mewtwo’s creation in the original film to the audience, by showing us some decently executed exposition in the original. It’s been heavily watered down here.

“Do you think we’ll get a bigger part in the next movie?”
No, Meowth, you won’t.

I’ll once more give seriously props to the animation of this film, especially the water. Holy shit does it look good. I especially like how the characters actually look wet when the water clings to their clothes. Credit where credit is due, the visuals succeed with flying colors, and it’s almost enough to distract me from the terrible substance of this film.

As happens in the original, Mewtwo Sends out challlenges to a group of trainers to come face him, but creates a storm to challenge those trainers, so that only those who cross the sea in the storm and make it to his arena are deemed worthy to face him. And I was very tickled to see that they kept a certain highlight of the film. In the original, you can see a trainer flying across on a Fearow to Mewtwo’s island. Yet when we get to the island, that trainer is nowhere to be seen. And it’s heavily implied that this trainer died in the crossing.

Trainer on the left, I have bad news for you…

Well, they not only keep this trainer in the cut here, they add another trainer as well! And none of these two trainers appear at the island. So not one, but TWO trainers get killed trying to get to Mewtwo’s island. I find this absolutely charming. Does that sound maniacal of me? Shut up!

Ash and his pals get to the island, and here’s something that I found odd. They kept a small section of Mew’s filler scenes of the original. Yet elongated it. Why? I have no idea, but there’s a section where Mew is being amused by a windmill in the original movie and it makes for a small bit of cute. And somehow, it’s just not as good in the remake. How do you mess that up?

Look at the cute! LOOK AT IT!
No, not THIS cute, the OTHER cute!

See what I mean? Why elongate the newer one?

Bla bla bla, Mewtwo appears, we get more replaced dialogue that isn’t as good as the original, long story short, Mewtwo hates humans since he sees them as dangerous and he hates the Pokémon who would willingly work with them. And it was around this point where I was actually starting to look at the runtime of the movie. It felt slower. The original had its moments where it dragged, but not like this. It was still relatively quick to the action, and could keep my interest. Here, I can’t help but wonder if the energy is gone. And I think I know why…

It’s the music score. It’s terrible.

The music of the original was nothing spectacular by any means, but it’s not present much of the film here. There are way too many instances in this film where I was asking myself “Is it just me, or is this movie unusually quiet?” The original had a score that played when it was appropriate, and it gave the film more presence. Without the music score here, it feels like there are just one too many awkward pauses in dialogue between character or whatnot. There isn’t even any background noise for a good chunk of it. It really hinders my ability to enjoy this movie. The overall tone, atmosphere, and enjoyability of the movie is just not as good because the music takes such a backseat. This really hits the rest of the movie. And for any of you other people wondering if they still play the “Brother, My Brother” song by Blessid Union of Souls in this remake, no they don’t. Which is a pity because that actually kinda fit that movie. I guess it’s pretty sad when a 90’s throwaway single by a band no one knows about is one of the takeaways of your childhood movies.

As in the original, Mewtwo challenges the trainers to a battle, they lose spectacularly, leading Mewtwo to take their Pokémon, and create clones of them for his new world. Not only does this sequence feel not nearly as exhilarating as the original, but it results in more bad dialogue. Mewtwo isn’t nearly as intimidating here as he was in the original for one thing, and we get terrible lines from Misty like “Are you stealing our Pokémon?!” Where’s my pillow? I need to let out a loud groan into it.

Even this awesome childhood moment doesn’t feel as impactful here.

Mew eventually shows up which leads to a standoff between the army of the trainer’s Pokémon, and Mewtwo’s clone army. Mew lets out that little “mew mew mew” speech about how powers don’t determine the true strength of Pokémon, but that true strength comes at the heart, which Mewtwo misinterprets, and the iconic powerless battle starts. This is where Blessid Union of Souls would start playing.

Brother, my brother…

And it’s ironically here where I would say that Blessid Union of Souls would benefit the film, because without it, and with the quiet musical score paired with the sequences of Pokémon battling makes for a very weird sequence, and it feels far longer than it should feel. It also feels far more tame than I remember it feeling. I don’t know, it just has far more impact and far more brutality in what it shows in the original. Even the watered down morals that the film has about fighting being bad and whatnot have more impact. The morals of this movie were never strong to begin with, but the fact that they take such a nosedive here really says something.

Stop saying our remake of this movie sucks! It doesn’t!

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens. Ash tries to stop the battle, he runs in between Mew and Mewtwo like a moron, get hit by the combined strength of their attacks, and dies. A pivotal moment of the series, as this was the first time we’d seen something like this. It’s a landmark childhood moment to be sure. How is he brought back? Well, the Pokémon are moved by Pikachu’s sadness for his death, and they share in Pikachu’s sadness, crying him back to life pretty much. The thing is that the original explains this a bit better since they establish that long ago, a catastrophe resulted in the near extinction of all life on the planet, and that the tears of surviving Pokémon were the only reason life was able to survive again. As stupid as it is, they explained why Ash survived after the Pokémon brought him back to life. Here… no such explanation exists, so I’m left with the assumption that Pokémon just have magic tears or something.

The one thing you probably couldn’t mess up in the film, and you messed it up. Good job movie.

Yay! Everything is okay!

Even Mewtwo’s epiphany about the situation after Ash’s sacrifice feels watered down. It feels like he comes to the conclusion that all life is precious on his own, rather than having been influenced by Ash’s sacrifice. He barely pays the fact that Ash just killed himself any attention whatsoever.

I need to wrap this up so we all know how it pays out by now. Hopefully anyway. Mewtwo takes the clones and leaves, erasing the memory of everyone on the island, he sends them back to where they came from, the storm disappears, Ash sees Mew briefly, and the journey continues.

Holy shit was this a chore.

Look, even without my nostalgia goggles, this just isn’t very good from so many different angles. If you want to talk about a movie that no one asked for, this is it. If anything, this remake just makes me appreciate the flawed mess that is the original that much more! It’s not perfect, and you probably had to be there to enjoy it as I did, but I mean even to the kids of today who are getting into it I would say that the original movie is worth their time much more. The biggest problem with Evolution is that it has little to no heart. It might look and even sound Ike the movie it’s based on, but the essence that made is a true gem of my childhood is completely absent. And that might sound like bias, but I mean, there’s a reason most Disney remakes get this kind of criticism. They lack what made the original so special, and it’s no different here.

I don’t doubt that there was genuine intent to try and make this special, and it might just be the dub that suffers these problems (I have no idea if the Japanese version of this film differs), but from what I was shown, this just doesn’t have what made the original that special to so many of us Pokéfans.

And it’s a damn shame.

My kids at least will always have this.

Verdict: 3/10

REVIEW: Chronicle (2012)

So a few days ago, someone shared a Looper video which talked about the most underrated superhero movies of the most recent era, and I was surprised that one particular film wasn’t exactly talked about, and that was the Josh Trank movie Chronicle. Seriously, why was this not talked about? I mean sure, it wasn’t a box office bomb, and was critically well-received, but so was Avengers: Age of Ultron, and they talked about that one. For shame Looper. You’ll talk about a terrible film like Push, but completely overlook this film that honestly probably has more going for it than many realize? For shame.

Now I’m not going to say that Chronicle is perfect by any means, because lord knows it’s not, and I can’t exactly say that a lot of the production has aged very well, but for a film with the budget of only about $12 million, I can’t exactly hold it against the film too much.

Not your typical coming of age story.

Chronicle bases its narrative in the style of a found footage movie, and while I can dig the found footage genre as a whole, I will open this film’s analysis on the fact that it really doesn’t feel too much like a found footage movie. What I mean here is that most found footage films out there focus on the narrative perspective of a single camera. It’s not that hard to comprehend, the idea of a found footage movie is that someone has found a singular camera, and is watching the footage on said camera. And Chronicle doesn’t do that. Instead of one camera, the story is told through multiple cameras found throughout the entirety of the film. I mean, sure, our main character, Andrew (played by Dane DeHaan) has a camera (well, he actually has two in this movie), and we see a vast majority of the film through his perspective, but then there are times where we’ll see the perspective of this random girl that is a part of the story, and if that’s not enough, it’ll give us angles from things like security cameras, news cameras, or phone cameras that random people in the background are using. While I kinda like the idea they’re going for here, it very much defeats the purpose of the idea of a found footage movie.

Another thing is that there are angles with the camera not typically possible in your average found footage movie. Now granted, this is a movie about some high school seniors that are gifted with Telekinesis, and Andrew develops a habit of making the camera float around him. Fair enough. But then we go back to the previous point of the multiple camera perspectives. There’s a point in the climax where Andrew surrounds himself with cameras, and I honestly don’t know why. I mean, granted, with his camera, he’s filming his life, and that’s fine and all, lots of people do that. But towards the end when he surrounds himself with the random phones of other people, I can only assume that by this point, the writers had written themselves into a hole, since Andrew didn’t have his camera with him anymore, and said to themselves, “Well we’re a found footage movie, but he doesn’t have his camera, so fuck it, we’ll have him take a bunch of random phones and surround himself so the audience can follow what’s going on.” I would say that this very much defeats the purpose of a found footage film. I’d say that the film would work better as a typical superhero movie, but the more I look at this narrative, I almost wonder if it works best as a found footage movie. I shouldn’t think too hard on this.

Not cool, bro. Here I am enjoying a nice night at the #SeattleSpaceNeedle, when this crazy superhuman dude who fucking flies decides to steal me and everyone else’s phone for no reason, and just have them hover around him for no reason! There goes my new Samsung Galaxy S3! 😦

So as I said, Chronicle follows Andrew, and his two friends, Steve and Matt. Andrew buys himself a camera, intent on filming his life, and we’re quickly revealed that he lives in a dysfunctional family, in which his father is an abusive drunk, and his mother is terminally ill. Andrew is quickly established as a bit of an outcast, often picked on, often bullied, and seen as a bit of a creep. His cousin Matt invites him to a school party, where he, Andrew, and their friend Steven come upon a hole in the ground making weird noises at them. So they decide to go into it, because movie I guess.

Secret tunnel! Secret tunnel! Through the mountain! Secret, secret, secret, secret tunnel!

The boys go into their secret tunnel in the middle of the woods, wander through the tunnel, which messes with the camera, and they come upon a mysterious glowing blue rock crystal thing. What this is, where it came from, or why it’s there? Your guess is as good as mine, it’s the big MacGuffin of the film. It’s there to serve one purpose, and that’s about it. The boys interact with it, the film cuts out, and a few days later, the boys have seemingly developed the power of telekinesis.

So tantalizing…

Now since boys will be boys, they go about testing their powers by pulling silly pranks, and admittedly, these can be pretty funny moments. There’s just something so very innocent about this entire sequence of them making shopping carts move away while wielding a toy lightsaber, and mentally scarring a little girl by having her see a floating teddy bear, scaring the daylights out of her. And yes, as terrible as it will sound, I get a laugh when Steve pushes a car across the parking lot and confuses the person who parked it.

“Yes, it was the black guy this time.”
It makes me laugh. I might go to Hell for it, but it makes me laugh.

The way the three go about discovering just what they’re capable of with their newfound power is also a lot of fun. It goes beyond simple pranks, and mischief. Some very fun concepts are explored in what they do with their telekinesis, such as creating invisible barriers, or crafting lego Seattle Space Needles (Andrew is a bit of a show-off). I think they go a bit overboard with the talent show scene which pays out like a clichéd unpopular kid suddenly wins everyone over because talent sequence, but this movie is home to one of the absolute best, if not the absolute best flying scenes I have ever seen in any superhero movie.

The way this movie approaches flight is absolutely fantastic. At first it’s super chill in how it does it, showing Steve just kinda lounging around, trying to teach it to both Andrew and Matt with this slow and steady learning pace. You seen them struggling, almost like they’re learning how to ride a bike again, and then it transitions into them all zooming across the skies at super fast speeds, cheering like any sane person would at such a discovery. I even love how they kinda address that flying at that height would be very freezing. I mean, sure they don’t address every point that Because Science addresses in why no one would actually want this kind of flight, I do dig that they don’t just completely Superman it. (They don’t do that until later.) Their joy and excitement at learning how to fly is easily one of the things that makes this movie so damn fun.

Flying high again!

Now of course, this movie isn’t without the boys getting into some actual trouble, and they very quickly realize that (as cliche as this will sound), with great power comes great responsibility. They realize that as their powers get stronger and stronger, they have the capacity to do some real harm to people, and while this should come as no big shock, the way they discover this as well feels very fresh and believable. This is far from your typical superhero origins story. In fact, a lot might call it quite the opposite, though I’m hesitant to call it a supervillain origin story either. More on that shortly. When they realize they can actually put a lot of people in danger with their abilities, and force themselves to ground their abilities, it very much feels natural and something someone their age might feel. And as they progress, and things start to get out of hand, eventually leading to the death of Steve, you can see just how fast things hit the fan.

This of course brings us back to Andrew. The kid who is in a dysfunctional family with an abusive dad, and a dying mom. Arguably, this might be the biggest thing I’m not sure how to analyze, because I both love and hate what this movie does with Andrew. You see, one of the biggest criticisms I see aimed at this movie is that Andrew’s character doesn’t really go through a lot of development. One of the core SuperGeeks here went as far to say that simply having Andrew go crazy doesn’t constitute as character development. The thing is… it’s not supposed to.

I don’t think you should be viewing Andrew as a typical character. I mean not only is the found footage approach to film going to hinder character development in the way a typical movie normally would approach a character, but you need to really take into perspective everything that Andrew has been going on through life here. Andrew has had to put up with years and years of physical and mental abuse from his father, and classmates. Even his cousin Matt distanced himself from Andrew, and when life gets too hard, Andrew begins to take life into his own hands.

Admittedly, this monologue is pretty cheesy.

Andrew looks at his powers as something that makes him superior to other people. And he quickly gains a dangerous mindset that isn’t so much meant to make him look insane, but broken. You take away Andrew’s telekinesis, give him a gun, he’s your next Columbine Shooter. And no, this isn’t a tasteless joke, this is a legit comparison. You might think that Andrew goes from 1 to 11 in his vendetta against the world, but no one saw the Columbine Massacre coming in 1997. Two distressed, highly disturbed teenagers shocked the entire nation with one horrifying tragedy. And I can’t help but see Chronicle as a bit of a metaphor in this aspect.

You might think Andrew goes a little overboard with his monologues of apex predators and whatnot, but this mindset he has is eerily similar to what these kinds of people have. I remember the day the Columbine Massacre happened, and how it affected my mother in particular. When I grew older to fully understand this event, and looked further into it, there was just so much I couldn’t believe about the two who initiated such an event. Their mindset was highly disturbing, and Andrew very much has a similar mindset. You might think him declaring himself an apex predator is cheesy in the moment, but I mean it fits the character. A guy who’s no longer able to be reasoned with, will do everything he can to hurt anything and anyone around him, until he is eventually taken down.

You make me wanna scream!

I’ll step aside from the depressing school violence comparisons here because I’m not going to say that the film’s night climax in Seattle is exactly perfect. I do feel like it goes just a little bit over the top. While again, things like transitioning between certain camera angles, news cameras, phone camera’s, police dash cams, and security camera footage is a pretty neat idea, it does make for a rather weird found footage movie. Now I don’t want to say that this movie was just trying to do what Cloverfield did back in 2008, becauseI never felt like it was at all trying to imitate that film, but I mean again, in so many ways it felt like they wrote themselves into a corner here when trying to show us Matt and Andrew flying through the Seattle skyline, smashing into buildings, through walls (did they get durability from the magic rock as well?), and whatnot.

And yes, I do believe that Andrew in his last moment does go over the top. While I will defend his mental breakdown for the reasons stated, I can’t help but laugh when he’s shouting like Goku as he tries to pretty much unleash his full potential in this climactic fight scene. And I do wonder if Matt screams out “Andrew!” more times than Kaneda screams out “Tetsuo!” in Akira. Or Finn shouting out “Rey!” as often as he does in the latest Star Wars movies… okay Finn probably wins that.

Now when all this ends, I do believe the film ends on a very touching moment, and I won’t spoil it for those who are interested in this film. And I do believe that the overall taste the film leaves is very good. It doesn’t exactly leave you on a definite ending, but honestly, I don’t think it needs to. It hints at a sequel, but I don’t think it needs one. I mean, sure, the film doesn’t properly explain everything that happens to them in this film, it doesn’t explain how Matt and Steve tend to know when Andrew is in emotional distress, and whatnot, but in the same way, it didn’t need to do this anymore than it needed to explain where the magic rock came from. Sometimes, it’s best to leave these kinds of things up to the imagination.

There is charm in simplicity, and I thoroughly believe that this film accomplishes that.

So where does that leave Chronicle?

Chronicle has its fair share of problems admittedly. But in the same way, I do believe it has far more going for it than people give credit for. Granted, around this point in time, I was not exactly onboard with the MCU, and thought costumed superheroes were pretty dorky, and I much preferred the approach like this film, or even Heroes had in its heyday. But even 8 years later, I find this film not only to be thoroughly enjoyable, but surprisingly complex for a simple movie about three boys who find out they have extraordinary abilities. I’m not going to say it’s a masterpiece of social commentary, and I admittedly may be overthinking some aspects of the film here, but it is nice to see a superhero movie with substance that goes beyond your typical superhero trope story. I haven’t seen another superhero movie quite like this one, and the fact that so little people talk about it just doesn’t do it a service if you ask me.

Is it underrated? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. I get that the found-footage genre isn’t for everyone, and that on first glance, seeing the characters doing what they do in this film might seem odd or whatnot, but I do believe it is by design. If you’re curious about this film, give it a watch. I’m willing to bet there’s something inside you might enjoy. Might even get you thinking. If anything, at least check out those flying scenes. I’m telling you, those kick ass.

Verdict: 7/10

Video

4Chan Fools the Fandom Menace,The New Batsuit Revealed,and Sonic the Hedgehog review bombed?

4Chan Fools the Fandom Menace,
The New Batsuit Revealed,
and Sonic the Hedgehog is…good?
All of this and MORE tonight on
The Real Supergeeks Podcast Episode 7!

Tonight filling in for our host Carlos is Ross wielding the hammer of doom!

Be sure to check out our Trello for a complete list of tonight’s topics and to see what we will be talking about in our next show!

https://trello.com/b/IlGdKYJg/super-geeks-podcasts

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Creative Commons Music by Jason Shaw on Audionautix.com

Any Copyrighted material used is used for review purposes and should be considered FAIR use only.

This is not meant for children please do not let your child watch this unsupervised.

 

 

REVIEW: Breaking Bad (Season 1)

This one picture alone convinces me that Hal from Malcolm in the Middle and Walter White are the same person.

So for as much TV as I watch, it might come as a surprise to many people that not once have I ever seen the show known as Breaking Bad. There really is no distinct reason for this, I just never went out of my way to check it out. I wasn’t going to deny that the show was potentially very good, or anything, it just never came across as my cup of tea, and I just sort of acknowledged that it existed. I didn’t get any internet jokes about the show, I didn’t know why everyone thought Walter White was a genuine badass, the only thing I really knew about the show was that Bryan Cranston was in it, and it was about drugs. Not exactly a big selling point for me. But here I am, finally watching it, and I got absolutely nothing but high praise for the show. Shall we get cooking, and see why this show is so awesome? Pun totally intended.

The early years…

Now as I said the first time I talked about this show on the group page, I had already thought that Bryan Cranston’s acting abilities were criminally underrated. I had seen him in Malcolm in the Middle, I remember the tremendous hype for 2014’s Godzilla simply because he was cast in it, and I remember so many people hoping that his character would be the Walter White Godzilla badass equivalent, to the point where a good chunk of the Godzilla fandom still resents the movie for what happens to his character maybe 30 minutes in. I will not deny the guy has some very good acting chops. I can’t think of one role I’ve seen him in that hasn’t disappointed me. Malcolm in the Middle is a personal favorite sitcom of mine, and Cranston can carry so many scenes in that show. And I even love what he brought to the Godzilla movie he was in. But if there was anything out there to further solidify my thought process that Bryan Cranston is criminally underrated as an actor, it was this debut season of Breaking Bad. Quite frankly, I’m asking myself why it took me this long to watch it.

Breaking Bad has so much going on for it. Despite a very short seven episode season, I am drawn in and eager to start season two. The only reason I haven’t started watching it is because the roommates are watching with me, and I’m a team player by not watching ahead of them. Ironically, it was one of these roommates that has been pushing me to watch this show for almost eight years now (good God, have I really been living with this guy for that long???), and he’s like a tour guide of this series due to the fact that he grew up in New Mexico and is able to point out certain and marks that he’s personally been to, or knows exist. I never remember specifics, but it’s still a fun fact none-the-less.

From the very first moment, the show had my eyes go wide, as it starts out unlike any show I’ve seen before. In fact, it starts out in one of the most bizarre introduction sequences I’ve ever seen in which we see a near totally naked Bryan Cranston driving an RV like a mad man in the desert, with three bodies in the vehicle, water on the floor, glass rattling everywhere, and absolutely no sense of reasonable speed. Needless to say, he crashes into a ditch, stumbles out of the RV, still near-naked, puts a shirt on, has a pistol in his hand, as well as a camcorder, as the sound of sirens appear to draw closer. He does a testimonial to his family on the camcorder as the sirens draw closer, he stands in the middle of the road, aims his pistol… title card.

White, Walter White.

What the hell did I just start watching, and why am I immediately in love?!

The show of course follows chemistry professor, Walter White, an average, run of the mill guy, and the rest of the pilot episodes details the events leading up to that absolutely bizarre opening. Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) gets hit with the news that he has inoperable lung cancer, and that he has maybe two years at most left to live. We get a very interesting look at his inner psyche as he copes with this information and needless to say, his approach to coping is very unusual. Seeing a family friend, who serves law enforcement, busting a local drug operation, and seeing the high amount of money in store, and interested to make sure his family is set for his future passing, he partners up with a delinquent he used to teach, named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), and says that with his knowledge of chemistry, and Jesse’s knowledge of the drug business, they could make a formidable team.

Legit one of the best moments of the opening season.

This of course is the catalyst for the absolute roller coaster that Season One is for this show. And perhaps the biggest reason everything seems to work in this show is it’s wonderful ensemble of characters, all wonderfully cast. There is no character of this series that feels like they don’t belong. Every character is believable, likable (and if they’re not likable, it’s for the right reasons), you enjoy each development that’s shown on screen, and that is something I can’t often say about each show. As much as I absolutely love shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I’d be lying if I said that every single character has near flawless development throughout the series, and that’s the show I say has the absolute best character ensemble of that franchise.

Watching Walter White slowly transform into this chemistry professor, with little going on in life, to an emerging drug lord legend, and genuine badass is really damn fun. I never would have thought that show simple show about drugs could develop such an intriguing narrative on this one guy alone. And it is entirely believable! Early on when he’s getting his feet wet, the visual disturbance that his character goes through when he realizes the full scale of this kind of lifestyle is absolutely jaw-dropping at times. One of the most tense examples of this comes in the third episode when he’s forced to kill a trafficker who goes by Krazy-8. The final scene these two share together Is beyond tense in all the right ways, and is just one of the few examples I can think of when it comes to just how masterfully this show can manipulate your emotions.

I’m willing to bet that Kryptonite Bike locks flew off the shelves after this scene.

And that isn’t even the half of it. Jesse Pinkman, a character I straight up thought I would end up being more annoyed by than anything is also really damn likable. The show paints him early on as this wannabe punk who let his life get away with him, settled in with the wrong crowd, cares only about himself, and is only partnering with Walter because if he doesn’t he’ll get in trouble with the law. But I was shocked at just how much I would come to really like this character. Sure, he still has his thug-life moments that I just kinda shrug at, but one of the best character moments so far of this entire series came when he went to his parents, and bonded with them. The scenes he shares with his little brother in particular are truly heartwarming, even if for the reason you wouldn’t expect.

These two work so damn well together for this one episode.

Seeing Jesse in this one episode, seeing what his life was at one point like before everything went downhill shows us that these “thugs” are human beings too, and have people who love them. I’m not at all trying to say that drug traffickers and drug lords are nice guys by any means, but it is nice to see a more human side of these people here. The very last moment that Jesse shares with his younger brother, where Jesse willfully takes the fall for his younger brother in bringing weed into the house not only makes for another very believable scene, but I absolutely love when the younger brother asks for it back, only for Jesse to deny him along the lines of “it’s junk weed man”. I have no idea if there was a subtle message for his brother in that he shouldn’t fall for this lifestyle, or go down the road Jesse did, but it’s a damn good scene regardless.

And that’s not the mention the chemistry (no pun intended here) that Jesse and Walter share onscreen. This is definitely an opposites attract storyline here, and these two works so damn well together from episode one. I lost track of how many times I laughed at their interactions, or verbally said to myself, out loud, “Oh, shit…” You wouldn’t expect a guy who bombed chemistry (I can totally relate) and a guy who is a chemistry expert to blend so well together, but low and behold, this show pulls it off.

This one scene has not left my head since I saw it.

Seeing these two go from being hesitant criminal partners who only work together because they have little choice in the matter, to people who genuinely start to care about each other in the line is just fun in an of itself. Though, a lot of this contributes to Walter’s development as a character, in both his criminal and normal life. Honestly, following Walter around in this show is already worth the watch. His spontaneous behavior makes for some of the absolute best moments of the show so far, and since I’m ony seven episodes in, I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s sabotaging a dude’s car he barely knows, punching a random customer in a store for insulting his disabled son (I haven’t even touched how well Walt’s development with his actual family is in this!), or straight up confronting a drug lord trafficker who put Jesse in the hospital. There are just way too many moments of badass in this series.

“This is not meth.” That is definitely one of my favorite pre-ass kicking one-liners out there.

I could go on and on about this show and just how radical it is so far, but I mean, chances are, most of you have seen it. I know I’m very late to the train in watching it, but on the off-chance you haven’t seen this show, you’re really denying yourself quite an experience. I’m honestly getting a little antsy that we haven’t even started the second season yet. I wanna fucking watch it right fucking now. This seven episode season has proven enough to me that this show is something very special. It is on a fast track to become one of my favorite television shows of all time. Not even Deep Space Nine or Avatar: The Last Airbender had me hooked like this one season in. And definitely not by episode seven.

This looks like the start of a beautiful relationship.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the execution of characters, the production value, the intriguing narrative, the near flawless tension in the atmosphere, the wonderful portrayals of each actor… Breaking Bad succeeds on every front with flying colors. The fact that the biggest criticism I can really come up with is that I really don’t care for the one character that is a bit of a klepto really says something, and even then, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to like her. That’s just the show’s design. I guess I’m mainly hoping she has a bigger impact on the plot moving forward since her subplots in this season really don’t matter all that much. I feel like you could cut them out, and not much changes. We will just have to see moving forward.

And we better fucking move forward soon, because I’m beginning to suffer a massive Breaking Bad withdrawal.

Verdict: 9/10