Tag: Justice League

Aesthetic updates and internship hours

Aesthetic updates and internship hours

I know all of my loyal readers pay intimate attention to each and every change on my blog, but in case you didn’t notice what happened I’ll fill you in.

Just last night I modified some minor elements over in the archive for my work with Gladeo. The biggest and most noticeable change was the shift from an internal photo showing the reporting team from when I first joined on:

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 7.03.27 PM

To a much more recent image on Gladeo’s website showing myself with my title:

screen shot 2019-01-29 at 12.05.25 am

Given my current lack of facial hair, both images are technically pretty dated. So you might be wondering why I bothered.

I assure you that the change isn’t some vain attempt to clear my blog of any pictures not featuring me, myself and I.

It’s more about the page where this new picture is found on Gladeo’s website.

The team photo is about a year-and-a-half old, and the Gladeo League itself has drastically changed since. For instance, I’m technically no longer just a part of the reporter-interns.

I’m the head of the League, the Managing Editor. The Superman to their Justice League. The Lex Luthor to their Legion of Doom.

Just not the Jesse Eisenberg one.

As a result you can this new-ish picture of me on the official staff page. Essentially where a bio would go, just without any text from me.

I wanted to bring things more up-to-date with this web development, as Michelle let me know she was setting it up yesterday.

Even if it isn’t technically that “up-to-date” due to my aforementioned lack of fur nowadays. In fact, when I was in a video conference with Michelle, it took her a long time to figure out why I looked younger until she realized we haven’t seen each other since I had foregone the follicles.

The visual change isn’t the only update I made to that Gladeo page on my blog, however.

Part of the reason I was in a video call with Michelle yesterday was that she needed to show me how to do some work on the inner-mechanisms of the website.

As I mentioned in my Homeless in the South Bay post, and many times before that, I’ve begun to accrue hours for my Internship class. The 120-hour goal will likely encourage me to go to more events or reach out to more possible interviewees, but at the same time it has encouraged me to take up as much extra work for Gladeo as I can.

Including now running the official website’s blog.

That’s right, I have a more traffic heavy outlet to shout my thoughts into now!

… Or I would, if that job wasn’t mostly about posting updates and such. The only assignment I’ve been given so far is copying off the last year’s worth of Facebook post updates onto the nonprofit’s website.

Once I see how that will come out in a tangible form, I’ll figure out the right place to point you all and flesh out my work portfolio with the PR-esque work.

Today I just wanted to relish in the increased responsibilities, expansion of my skill set and time sink for required Internship hours.

As always, great things should be coming soon enough!

I think so, anyway. Really the only reason I had the chance to finish this post so early in the afternoon is because my car crapped out on me.

So here’s hoping that doesn’t become such an issue that I’ll have a lot to say on it for another day’s post.

Ocean Comrade doesn’t flounder

Ocean Comrade doesn’t flounder

… But it also isn’t what I would call a great movie.

It just happens to have the rest of the DCEU as a point of comparison, and in that pantheon of films it succeeds better than most.

Aquaman (or Ocean Comrade as my sister serendipitously called the titular hero) has a few things going in its favor.

Visually, there are plenty of scenes that are marvelous — though sometimes a little too reminiscent of 2001’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

The city of Atlantis in its full lit-up glory is beautiful next to some of the drab environments in places like Gotham City, and scenes like Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Herd) diving into a monster-filled abyss lit up only by a red flare and the occasional lightning flash really left an impression.

I also do have to give credit to Momoa, as I enjoyed his character far more here than in Justice League. Especially considering he and most of the other actors were likely suspended on wires the whole time, he keeps a strong, fun energy throughout.

Even when they milk that female sex appeal for all its worth.

Plus he has good chemistry with Herd’s fish-out-of-water, especially in one moment when she first visits the surface world and he indulges in her ignorance by splitting a buffet of roses.

Aquaman also has some fantastic fight choreography. When the first trailers were coming out, I thought the trident combat underwater looked a little wonky. There are some wonky visual effects, but the fighting wasn’t.

In fact, there are two battles in particular — one on the submarine seen in most trailers and the climactic fight against Oceanmaster (King Orm (Willem Dafoe)) — that are stunningly well-done and frankly brutal in the best kind of way.

In that first scene I actually laughed and applauded watching Momoa just decimate fools.

The first act of the film is honestly its best part. Between that sometimes brutal, sometimes fun and drunken Aquaman action and the touching expositional scene with his star-crossed parents, I was invested more than any other DC movie going in.

But frankly, that’s about the extent of my compliments toward Aquaman. Because once things break into the second act, I’d argue it falls apart.

Might as well start with what I teased already: Some of the visuals are real wonky, particularly in underwater scenes. When I mentioned how hard it must have been to perform so much on wires, I do have plenty of respect for the actors involved.

But there are more than a few moments where it looks like characters are getting dragged around on wires instead of swimming.

Everyone’s hair looked good moving around underwater, to be fair. But I feel like if as much work had gone into swimming animations as had gone into the backdrops, it could have been really special.

If the movie had been a really solid experience all the way through, I might not have paid that issue too much mind. But while there’s a great 90-minute movie in Aquaman, what we got was a nearly 150-minute experience that drags so hard in the middle.

Part of the reason for that is because Aquaman tries to balance half a dozen storylines at once and doesn’t do so successfully.

Right in the middle of the movie, just after Momoa and Herd arrive in Atlantis following a disaster hitting the surface world so they can start hunting for the MacGuffin which will help Aquaman defeat his half-brother, Dafoe (how those two are meant to be related is beyond me).

In the next stretch of the film there’s an action-packed detour to be echoed later, a boatload of exposition on the history of the underwater kingdom and an Uncharted-esque expedition to a desert temple which leads to a longer MacGuffin hunt.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we threw in a fun montage for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta building his suit, as well as underwater political drama between four different nations.

If some of the concurrent plot threads were chopped down, it would have made the movie cleaner. That might have also saved a lot of the scenes from feeling too jarring with time skips (because there are a lot of those).

The last place I think Aquaman fails rather badly is with explaining it’s own mythology.

In terms of the DCEU movies, one bad example example is how much it’s emphasized that Momoa has never been to Atlantis. So much so that he has to ask Mera her name when she saves him.

But… He went to Atlantis and met Mera in Justice League, right? Unless I remember the scene wrong, they were there when Steppenwolf steals the Atlantean mother box.

So what’s the deal, cinematic universe lore?

For in-movie rules, Atlantean powers are a bit of a grab bag. Aquaman can exist underwater and on land, which makes sense considering his hybrid status. Yet so can Mera, which suggests that perhaps they all can.

Except there are a ton of soldiers who need to wear reverse diving suits (that keep water inside — it’s pretty cute actually).

So maybe just the royal-blooded Atlanteans can breath out of the water?

Except Dafoe’s character at one point says he can’t go to the surface.

… But then also he does go there for his climactic final fight with Aquaman?

I don’t know! It was just confusing, and lost me pretty easily. That’s not even mentioning the extra powers, like Aquaman being the only one who can communicate with fish or Mera seemingly being the only one with aquakinesis.

Even if you want to wave this off by using the movie’s supposed logic that water breathing and other powers came from the same disaster that sunk Atlantis, it still seemed very inconsistently distributed.

Also, on that note, not enough goes into why there are four different underwater nations and why they don’t get along for all the political drama to be compelling or even make sense.

Also also, there’s a part of the movie that seems to involve inter-dimensional travel using some strange portal that comes out of nowhere.

I know a lot of this probably sounds like nitpicking. But there’s a lot of time to nitpick when the movie had such a weak middle section.

All that being said, I’ll still undoubtedly say that Aquaman is better than half the other DC movies. It’s more fun and comic book-y than Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman could ever hope to be.

But it also comes nowhere near Wonder Woman in being a good movie. Despite how rough the third act was, I’d still say it was more comprehensive throughout than Aquaman.

I’m seemingly in the minority with my opinions toward this movie considering how much acclaim it’s gotten, and I’m sure some people will want to call me a Marvel fanboy for that.

I just don’t think Aquaman was immune from criticism simply because it stood higher than a lot of its immediate peers. And yeah, compared to most Marvel movies, it is pretty lame.

But for a DC movie, it was pretty good.

Plus it gave me something to write about today, so I suppose it can’t be all THAT bad.

Repeat Offenders

I’m having a strange sense of déjà vu this semester.

A couple of my class have given me assignments this week that are pretty much identical to other assignments I’ve had in previous courses — one of which I’ve seen at least three times now, in fact.

That third-time returning assignment (the one that I find more interesting right now, considering at this rate I’ll need to develop a punch card) was handed down in my Visual Communications class this afternoon. Essentially I have to take a number of photos over the next two weeks, either on my phone or with a professional camera, that represent major concepts in visual composition.

So a photo that shows a prominent horizontal line, one that shows a good grasp of the rule of thirds, one that displays the difference between the foreground and background, etc.

As an isolated assignment it makes sense. What better way to get kids engaged and learn a variety of terms by making use of that little device in our pockets to actually engage with the work.

The problem comes when, as in my case, you see the same assignment repeatedly. In Comm 202, focused on broadcast journalism basics. In Multimedia Journalism. Now, again, in Visual Communications.

Is there just some unwritten rule that in the 21st century, every visual-focused class will get students to go out and take sample photos with their phones? Was there a college teaching conference that established this staple?

Is it only a California thing or does this happen all across the country?

I’m actually, genuinely curious to know.

My Mass Media Ethics class yesterday also assigned a small project I’ve seen before. For that, we need to spend about a week keeping a media log with all the news we consume so we can reflect on it.

I had to do the exact same thing for my Comm 233 class — the one that I started this blog for.

Back then I was pretty upset with the project. The professor was kind of an old fart and quite literally used the assignment as a way to rub it in our faces that we’re all too addicted to technology.

Like sure we definitely are, but that doesn’t mean you need to be condescending about it dude.

This time around the assignment is focused more on tracing back to the corporations that own each media outlet and deciding how that ownership might create bias.

A more interesting, reasonable through-line in my opinion.

Thinking about it, those two kinds of assignments seem very intrinsically linked to modern-day students. I suppose that’s the reason why they’re showing up repeatedly, for me at least. Whether or not you guess see these particular assignments, or just other projects that multiple teachers have assigned, I guess is up to you all to let me know.

No matter what, I’m just glad neither of these two projects are due next week. Because my two essays for my Psych classes still loom heavy on my mind…


As an aside, while this isn’t related to the overall post I’ve just written, it’s something that stood out to me so much today that I just had to share it.

Over the past few months I’ve been watching a YouTuber named Nando v. Movies rewrite the recent DCEU Justice League film beat-by-beat. It has been fascinating to watch, as one of the reasons I picked up on the guy in the first place was because of his script rewrites. They show a great grasp of the comic book source material and movie structure, so it’s always a joy.

The four-part Justice League series has been especially great, in my opinion. While I enjoyed the original movie, the novel version Nando creates is vastly superior and sets up a much more compelling path for the universe to take.

It’s just too bad he isn’t actually working at DC’s movie division.

The final part of the series just released today, and I would say it’s very worth taking an hour and a half to watch each part in a row. You can check them out here.

Dude deserves the shout out, go see his stuff.

Impossible to Miss

Impossible to Miss

There were many reasons why DC’s 2017 cinematic film Justice League was a critical flop.

Amongst them was the fact that some of the CGI was kind of wonky. The fight scenes, particularly during the climactic fight against a dark red backdrop, were mostly hit-or-miss.

However, arguably the most disastrously well-known CGI mishap in the movie was Superman’s mouth.

See, as the story goes, Henry Cavill moved on to take part in Mission Impossible: Fallout after he finished recording his scenes for Justice League. The part required him to grow a bushy mustache.

Then DC decided to reshoot parts of Justice League after Joss Whedon took over as Director. By then, Cavill was full mustache mode and not allowed to shave due to Paramount stepping in.

So much money was spent digitally removing the mustache, and everyone universally agrees the effect was awful.

True story.

While that may have become one of the downfalls of DC’s big crossover event, now that I’ve seen the new Mission Impossible… I think it was worth it to save this movie.

Fallout, the latest in the long-running Tom Cruise tentpole series of action-adventure spy thrillers, is a great movie. Action-packed, well-acted and full of some gorgeous cinematography.

Yet… The whole isn’t necessarily a sum of its parts. For all of the wonderful things within Fallout, it feels incredibly bloated at its two-and-a-half hour runtime.

Frankly that was the biggest complaint my family pretty much collectively came to after leaving the theatre. Each scene on its own was pretty wonderful, but a good chunk of them could have been easily left on the cutting room floor without losing anything. Making the film better, somewhat more concise in fact.

For instance, as the trailers show, much of the movie is set in Paris, France. However, the climax of the film takes place in Kashmir. There’s an entire sequence between those two locations that takes place in London, England which could have easily been cut down wildly and happen in Paris as well.

There are also far too many action scenes. The most prevalent ones in the trailers, a fight including Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill in a bathroom, happens early in the flick. It’s wonderfully choreographed and edge-of-your-seat intense.

But then there are easily six or seven massive action scenes throughout the rest of the film which all give the same rush without a break. It’s exhausting in practice, despite the fact that each fight or chase is memorable on its own.

Peter Rosenthal puts it best in his three-minute review of the film for the Onion honestly:

But action is what’s expected of a Mission Impossible movie. Tom Cruise will always be doing his own stunts. It’ll always, always be fun and exciting — even if slightly overdone this time around.

What I hadn’t necessarily been expecting out of Fallout were the wonderful interactions between Cavill and Cruise, as well as some of the actually stunning shots in the film.

On the first point, watching Cavill come into the MI universe with such a robust, fun role actually made me mad. He is a great actor who really sells a complex (though somewhat predictable) character who fits right into an already well-established canon.

I really wish DC utilized him better. Because if I’m showing my cards, the DCEU Superman isn’t really that great in my opinion. But now I know that he could be fantastic if he was given a better set of circumstances to inhabit.

As a side note, when I mention Cavill’s character being predictable, the same could essentially be said for most of the movie. Many of the plot beats are set up well in advanced and fairly easy to read for anyone who has enjoyed their fair share of spy thrillers.

But I feel it’s a testament to Fallout’s screenplay that even when early film predictions one might have, do come out correct by the end, it’s still a wild ride getting there. A ride which takes those predictable ideas and does utilize them in ways which still have surprises and intriguing twists.

Honestly I think a good reason for that is the chemistry between Cruise and Cavill. While the other members of Ethan Hunt’s crew do still have significant roles, they take more of a backseat to Superman and he really steps it up.

The other thing I loved about Fallout were a number of the action set pieces throughout. As I mentioned, much of the movie takes place in Paris and boy do they make good use of that locale.

Fallout showcases a variety of things in Paris, from famous landmarks to smaller alleyways that paint a real picture of what can be seen.

Their use of landmarks in particular are very well done. Probably my favorite action scene in the film was a chase between a motorcycle-riding Cruise and the Parisian police. In it, there’s a long tracking shot of Cruise driving backwards through traffic in a circle around the Arc de Triomphe.

It’s a gorgeous shot and really well-paced within the scene to be exciting and cool without lasting too long as to lose its luster.

There are scenes like this all over the movie that are captivating… But like I mentioned before, falters in that there are arguably too many of them. There was enough content in Fallout to easily fill two movies, and a more hefty editor would have been appreciated.

The climax of the movie is especially bloated and honestly jumps the shark to a ridiculous degree. Which is saying something considering we’re discussing Mission Impossible.

I won’t give too much away. I’ll just say it was the clearest case of ‘they should not have survived this’ in the movie, which winds up highlighting how many times the characters should have died throughout the entire rest of the flick.

In spite of that, even the climax takes many clichés of the genre and presents them in a way that’s engaging. So I’ll give the filmmakers credit in that regard.

In all honesty, if the Mission Impossible franchise is something you enjoy, it’s likely you’ve already seen the movie. It’s certainly a re-watchable guilty pleasure of a series for my family. In that case, I’m sure you enjoyed this movie as much as we did.

Because in spite of its somewhat glaring issues, it’s still a fantastic Mission Impossible movie at heart. One with great action, stunning visuals, some well-crafted character moments and an intriguing collision of at least five-or-six different groups that doesn’t really lose focus or become confusion.

If you are new to Mission Impossible, however, just know that this particular entry in the series is very long and very draining to sit through. A good amount of it could have been cut out, even if it was great.

Basically the movie was too much of a good thing, but still good all the same.

Plus, as far as I was aware, it managed to have a number of beautiful female characters involved in pivotal action and character-driven scenes — and none of them got undressed once during the movie.

So good on you MI crew. Glad to see you had some restraint.

Script Doctoring at its finest

Script Doctoring at its finest

If I haven’t made it totally obvious around here, I like movies.

I like movies a lot. A good chunk of that love comes from my dad, who was a pretty serious actor for a while and continues to work in the movie industry, currently for Fandango as I’ve discussed in the past. Thanks to him I’ve seen all kinds of flicks from throughout cinema history.

As time has progressed, seeing movies with him (and the rest of my family by extension) has essentially become a fun exercise in script doctoring. While a ‘script doctor’ may be an actual industry term for someone who consults on a script before it is put into production, I mean it more in a post-viewing thought experiment sense. Being able to walk away from a movie and discuss what could have been done to improve upon it.

Granted there are elements of hindsight involved knowing everything that happens as a finished product rather than seeing it in its fledgling development. A development that may be plagued with other problems that lead to less than stellar end products.

But we discuss things with those points aside. We have no real qualms given that none of us have any intent to create our own movie anytime soon. It’s just fun talking about how we might have improved certain things.

Superhero movies have been an excellent source of that internal debate for the last few years. Especially thanks to the Marvel and DC cinematic universes attempting to create larger, cohesive universes. That kind of large-scale project opens up tons of opportunities to pull from previously established canon in both the comics and movies to determine what might be better ways of moving in the direction those studios are going toward.

DC movies are the obvious ‘easy target.’ You’ve probably heard all of the comments: They ruin a bunch of popular characters. They’re doing everything to catch up to Marvel in too much of a compressed timeline. The dark, gritty approach to superhero storytelling isn’t utilized well.

For the most part I can’t say I’d argue. There are plenty of recent DC movies that I thought I would love just based off trailers which wound up being disappointing. Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman come to mind immediately.

However, there’s plenty of good things going on in the DC cinematic universe. Things that we all want to work out better in an overall context because of how iconic the characters are.

The Batman and Justice League animated series’ from the 90s/00s were huge parts of my childhood. I knew Batman and Superman and all of those characters growing up because of how iconic those shows were, given the fact that I was never much of a comic book reader.

Outside of the big characters like Spiderman or Hulk, I wouldn’t know anything about Marvel until they began their own cinematic universe. Though, to be fair, as amazing as that universe is there still are flaws. It just happens that the flaws are less noticeable due to how much is going well around them.

I would also say that the MCU has been a big thing to me because of how amazing an example it is of creating an extensive universe. Of crafting stories that all tie in together and create one giant experience.

For someone who wound up becoming a writer, it’s amazing to see.

But all of that aside, I feel like I’m getting too tangent-y with what should otherwise be a simple post. Basically, I love discussing the flaws and successes of each superhero movie with my family because of their merits as good cinema and because of the engaging universes they create.

That post-movie critique is frankly as important to me as the movies themselves.

This summer, I’ve taken those interests in post-critiques to a whole new level. My realm of consistent YouTube views has expanded into more analytical channels, rather than simply let’s plays and other video game stuff.

Some notable examples, because I’m honestly using this post as an excuse to promote these people include:

  • NerdSync — A channel focused on looking at not just obscure bits of comic book stories and trivia, but looking at them through the lens of the real world history that led to in-universe decisions. Great 10-minute watches which have taught me so much more about comics themselves that also often promote other comic book-related creators on YouTube.
  • Captain Midnight — More or less the same idea as NerdSync, examining decisions in comic books (primarily their movies) through the lens of real world decisions and general tropes surrounding them. Includes interludes on every video showing commercials and media properties from earlier decades related to modern-day cinematic counterparts that are very recognizably stylized and pretty cool.
  • Mother’s Basement — Kind of does for anime what channels like NerdSync do for comic books. Examining the problematic or successful underlying writing tropes and such which go into beloved shows. Loves to bash on Sword Art Online, which I find hilarious having never watched the show but knowing just how hated it is by anime fans.
  • Just Write — If you want to be a writer like I do, this channel is a good place to spend some time. They look at popular media (be it books, television, movies or some combination of the three) to pick apart specific traditional writing clichés or innovations. Some really notable pieces on shows like Westworld or the modern-day Star Wars trilogy that I love and have been able to use as some writing inspiration for my own novel.

These guys join a pantheon of other more analytic-focused channels that I now enjoy the catalogs of, amongst mainstays like Game Theory, Cinema Sins and Wisecrack.

None of these creators are the reason I decided to write this post in the first place, however. I found a brand new addition to this list today that really pushed me over the edge.

Nando v Movies is a channel that looks at all different movie genres (though primarily superhero flicks) through an analytical realm similar to the others I listed. Picking apart tropes and clichés to see what works and what doesn’t.

But Nando does something a little different to stand apart from the crowd.

He is, essentially, a very well-researched script doctor.

What my dad and I might do just based off knowledge of the cinematic universes we’re observing after watching a new DC movie, he does using a full breadth of comic book history to draw upon.

He quite literally acts out brand new scripts for scenes that either minutely or majorly change a film in a way that drastically changes things. I don’t think I’ve seen any videos of his that misses the mark in making both good and bad films better in some way, shape or form.

He doesn’t just look at the major cinematic universes too, though his work on lackluster DC flicks are pretty amazing. He also looks at the Marvel Netflix shows and other major blockbusters. Star Wars, Ready Player One, Jurassic World. All of which are given minor adjustments with so much heart that they feel like they could be easily canonical.

Even if he too acknowledges in part one of his Justice League rewrite that he has the benefit of hindsight and no movie-making pressure. That’s sort of where I stole my own earlier disclaimer from, as a disclaimer.

Side note, investigations and fan theories for the current Star Wars films have become some of my favorite things. Because I enjoyed the Last Jedi, but I’d almost say I enjoy fan-generated ideas for the Last Jedi better than what we got in theaters.

Now with all this said, I don’t always agree with the content of the creators I’ve mentioned here today. But I feel like that’s just as big a part of the magic behind watching them as the amazing theories and insight they’ve been able to cobble together for mediums I haven’t paid too much attention to.

The Internet, for as divisive as it can be, is an excellent place to pose ideas and invite civil debate. I love having the opportunity to compare my own ideas and headcanons to their own.

So that’s essentially my pitch for the day as I finish this post seeing I’ve somehow almost hit 1,500 words. Go out and find some analytical content for your favorite things.

It’s not only an excellent way to kill time, but an excellent way to kill it with engaging, thoughtful material.