Justice League: Superman

I’ll admit upfront The Man of Steel was never my favorite. I don’t have much against him, but our personalities just never clicked.

He kind of reminds me of Mr. Incredible (who is clearly based off of him.) And like that hero, I think most of Superman’s mistakes (and successes) are the type that a dad might make.

There’s more to this than you might think. In the JLU show I’m referring to for all of this, Superman was the one who founded the Justice League. He said he needed more help protecting the Earth. So you might truly say he was the Father of the League.

That is how he relates to it an its members. Even though they are all friends, it’s demonstrated several times that Superman can never forget that he;s the mpst powerful, for better or for worse.

Unlike with Wonder Woman, Superman is someone we have to look at the background of before his character on the show will even make sense. Especially since its referred to several times.

Superman’s worst moments all have to do with Apokalips, if you’ve read my other superhero posts, you’ll know that that is the hellish planet Scott Free and Big Barda hail from.

The trouble is, the writers of JLU didn’t believe in making characters who could be stronger than the evil of Apokalips. Scott is the only one they ever let escape it without help, and that only because they couldn’t change too much about him. (And Scott actually had help originally, so his story got totally rewritten for that show.) Superman gets targeted by DArkseid after crossing the wrong person (I forget exactly who it was.) And brainwashed via machine into forgetting who he is and then attacking earth.

I hated that whole twist, but it creates his central conflict, so I ahve to include it. One cool thing about the whole mess was that Lois Lane, the one without powers or any notable fighting skills, was the one to snap him out of it. She keeps him grounded. (Honestly, it’s the best version of her I know of.) Other than that, the whole thing completely detrys Superman, and he has a hard time picking up the pieces.

This comes into play on the show many times. Darkseid is the one who can upset Superman’s self control (aside from Luthor.) The others have to hold him back from attacking. Batman gives him one hard hitting talk about getting over it. Deserved, I grant you, but as usual Batman has no tact whatsoever and its clear superman is sore and bitter about the whole thing. IT would be hard not to be, if you’ve never forgiven yourself for it, which he hasn’t.

We see in another episode that his greatest fear is losing control of his powers and destroying everything without being able to stop himself. Something I can relate to. Very much the Elsa-complex. And just like with her, superman only feel reassured when he lets someone who loves him reach out to him and help him bear the weight of his own powers.

I’ve heard that we are more afraid of our greatness, our glory, than we are of our weakness. It ain’t kryptonite that gives Kal-el nightmares.

MAybe we could all learn something from the way his friend help him wiht it. My only problem is that he never seems to be cured, which I think he could be. But notwithstanding, they were on the right track.

Some good things Superman does are also fatherly. He gives pep talks. He keeps the Leauge centered and focused, and whenever he cant ake a hit for is friends he does. HE’ll get in front of them to sheild them, or put him self first if they are falling hard, the best time was when he got Batman out of a burning watchtower in the nick of time. I love that scene because Superman is using his invulnralbily and speed without regret or thought of himslef. It’s pure.

No one is afraid of him most of the time, some jokes are made at his expense regarding how he can’t intimidate people like Batman can; but friends and enemies alike are terrified of him when he’s truly angry. Like most mild mannered people, when Superman gets ticked, he gets really ticked.

Even though he starts the league in order to have help, he has a hard time delegating to them. They feel like he doesn’t think they can take care of themselves.

One of the worst episodes (at least if you go by the hardest to watch) was “The Secret Society.” That was the one where the obligatory team split-up happened. The writers had the sense not to ever do this again, and the way they did it was completely annoying.

You’d really expect a team of adult superheroes to be more mature. Frankly, all their problems came out of nowhere. I never understood what Green Lantern was talking about for the first en minutes when he was laying out their problems.

But well-written or not, it did introduce some problems that came back in later episodes. One of them being Superman’s problem with letting other people be in danger.

If I had to say what the best thing about Superman was, I wouldn’t know how to answer. Or would I?

My favorite thing about him was that, except with his three most hated foes, Superman is a very merciful guy. He doesn’t hold grudges against anyone else, he expects the best from people. We never hear him knock any of his friends for being anything but less powerful than him–and not always right.

Superman got made into a complicated mix of proud and humble by the time the show ended, but over all, he’s likable. And he is the League’s fearless leader, and no one else could be like him.

All of them care about him deeply, as is shown in the episode “Hereafter.” And they share how he encouraged them, and set them all a good example. Because most of the time, his motives were pure, and his character more steady than the rest of them.

And I think that says it all.

This is pretty fun, I can’t wait till the next installment, and even if the J.L. isn’t your thing, I hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane with me.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Wonder Woman.

So, I’ve been thinking about my once-time favorite show a lot, and I thought why not take a closer look at it?

Because, as I’ve explained, I no longer watch it, but I think I was too harsh with it in some ways when I mentioned it before on this blog. It’s a sensitive subject you know.

There are some really bad episodes on it, and no mistake, but there was at least twenty or so that were worth watching and also thought provoking. (And there’s not that many episodes to begin with.)

With that introduction out of the way, Let’s get started.

The best thing about this show was the characters. I don’t think a single fan will argue with me on that point. Nomatter which ones you liked, you pretty much only watched the show because of the characters. (Though it has some of the best animated superhero action I know of.

These characters could nail corny one liners; awesome climatic dialogue; flirty romantic; serious romantic; fun; angry; under mind control; you name it. And all of it seemed to fit. That was how good the voice acting was. You believed you were really watching them.

So that’s why I’m going to dive into each member. But it was putting them all together that made the show freaking incredible. More on that later.

I’ll begin with my favorite: Wonder Woman.

Now, you have to throw out the Linda Carter version of her completely. She has no sister, she can’t sing, and she has no interest in someone in the military.

But Wonder Woman, generally called Diana on this show, makes up for all that by being totally awesome. And I don’t just say that as a crazy fan.

In a way, Wonder Woman balances out the League. She is one of the most powerful, but she is also the most simple in some ways. She’s straightforward but not overly blunt. Somehow she manages not to irritate the inferiority complex in other people that Superman tends to (more on that later.)

It’s not hard to see why. Diana has no trouble picking a fight, or winning one usually, but she doesn’t rub in her advantages. Unlike some of the other top super powered beings, she has warrior training, and she know what it’s like to work for her skills, instead of just to be born with them. She’ll pull her rank when she needs to, but it’s not often.

But more important than her power is her heart. As cheesy as that sounds. Diana always strikes me as the most motherly out of the female supers. She just has a way of caring about her friends and wanting to help them, but not too much. You get the feeling she’s the one they’d turn to for some serious mom-talk. We never see her really use this ability full on except in “Kid’s Stuff.” But it’s an underlying theme of her character, and you can sense it even when you can’t see it.

Without a doubt, the best episode with her in it is “Maid of Honor.” But that’s also the best episode for discussing the Wonder Woman/Batman dynamic, so I won’t give away too much.

But in that episode Diana meets the Princess of Kasnia (made up country) after she is nearly abducted in the middle of a party. The Princess, Audrey, is not much phased by this event, but in order to continue on her merry way, she needs Diana to escort her around. Diana agrees to this and ends up having a blast. She and Audrey become friends instantly, and she decides to keep and eye on her, which won’t be hard because Audrey is inviting her to all her events.

They way Diana and Audrey interact is flawless. Audrey brings out the hidden party girl in Diana, and Diana shows compassion and some tough love to her new friend. We get to see Diana at her best in both the fun friend role, and the friend who-loves-you-too-much-not-to-be-hard-on-you role. Diana also gets to play detective in a way, and we see how though she is a lot more instinctive than Batman, her instincts are right.

Pretty much is was impossible not to love her after this episode.

But Diana has her flaws. The major one we see most in “Starcrossed.” and “Hawk and Dove.” But many people refer to her as “stuck up.” What’s odd is that we never see her act stuck up except in the latter one, and that was a new development.

Diana does act like a Princess, I’ll grant you, but she is one. I’d call it confidence and a really refreshing unaffectedness. (By which I mean she’s never awkward, though sometimes she unconsciously makes other people feel so.)

Her real flaw is she is vindictive. She’d rather fight it out than talk it out. Which is a typical superhero problem, and Wonder Woman has it in a typical way. Slugging it out is simpler than trying to peaceably settle it, and she has a temper. She eventually becomes aware of this flaw and tries to control it, but she has a hard time forgiving.

To her credit, like Mr. Darcy, she seems to take great care in not letting herself be offended easily. WE almost never see her get angry at friends, and then not without great provocation. See’s easy going and spontaneous. Not often spending a lot of time thinking things over, but her decisions work out 80% of the time. Basically, you could sum up Wonder Woman by saying she’s rough around the edges, but her heart is in the right place, and she’s a lot of fun.

I wouldn’t say she’s the core of the League, or what holds them all together, like I said, I believe her effect is more to steady them. She provides back bone. She’s the midpoint between all-too-human and all–too-powerful.

Actually, Wonder Woman is kind of the most balanced superhero in my mind because her powers are definitely super, but she only has two actual powers. Flying and Strength. The rest of it is skill and her magic armor. It makes her easier to understand than the ones with so many powers one can’t even keep them all straight (not to mention the writer keep changing them as time passes.)

I’ll talk more about her in the Batman one, but for now:

Truth. Justice. And whatever Wonder Woman’s motto was.

–Natasha.

The Lord of the Fantasy.

Yesterday I saw “The Fellowship of the Ring.” For the first time.

I know, Christian; millennial; homeschooled; how is it possible I’ve never seen it before?

I haven’t read the books either (gasp.)

Honestly, the story just didn’t appeal to me. The ring creeped me out, and there weren’t a lot of girls in the story. Up until recently, I really didn’t have an interest in any story without girls in it. Girl Power and all that.

I’m sure some of you haven’t seen or read the series either, but I’m  not going to recap, I’d never fit all that into one post, or two.

The point is, now that I’ve seen it, do I like it?

Sort of. I actually only decided to finally take an interest because I’ve been reading a lot of J. R. R. Tolkien, and what better way to understand a writer than through his material?

but reading about his creative process is very interesting. Did you know he never knew much about what would happen in the legend before it actually did happen? HE always had  a sense of the story being given to him, not imagined.

And knowing some of it, I completely agree that no one could make that up. It really happened.

No, I don’t mean I think it actually did, (though If I were told it had historical base, I might,) but it would make you think so.

Genius.

And it just the thing to make you feel how little you actually know about writing.

I can easily feel smug about my talent when I compare it to most modern authors, who don’t know how to really write. If I have even an inkling more than they, I’m ahead. But next to real genius, my efforts still look like child’s play.

Nothing wrong with that of course. Plenty of good books are written n that way, and it’s not a reason to stop. But it is a reason to be more humble.

I think we get lied to a lot about our abilities. Not everything we crate is beautiful just because we created it. Being unique does not equal beauty. Some of the ugliest and most disturbing art I have seen was unique, because it was unhealthy.

See, rarity works both ways. It can either mean you have an incredible gift and are using it well, or that you are creating something horrid, that only people who have a flaw in their soul will like.

That is not an exaggeration. It is hard truth.

Now, it may be a rare person who will create such bad art, but it’s not so rare as it was, because we’ve started letting them off the hook by saying they are expressing themselves. (As if any of us would want to know the self they are expressing, if that was the case.)

But this is not a post about that, I think I’ve made my point.

But most art is on better footing. Not all of it is about pleasant subjects, but it will at least be making a healthy point about the sadness of a more tragic subject.

Tolkien’s work is very much a blending of both, and a skillful blending because he does it without shifting the overall tone of the story.

No one should read fantasy without considering its tone, and its message. Anyone who thinks fantasy is for pure entertainment and has no real life point, is reading it wrong and does not understand the genre.

See, if I may wax Tolkien-like for a moment, fantasy is far closer to real life than we think. But because we have no guard against it, we accept truth in fantasy easier than we will in real life.

Think of you favorite books, mine are all fantasy or fiction, and I know that the truth I learned from them became a part of me because it was ins tory form, and that was much easier to take in and retain than any “real” lesson would be.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus constantly used stories, known as parables, to teach the people. But only to his disciples would he explain the full meaning.

The reason he gave was that it was for his disciples to know the things of the Kingdom, but he people had shut their ears, and eyes, and hearts.

This makes more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. Someone recently expounded on it, saying that the stories were so even the people could understand the way to have an abundant life. (I paraphrase.)

As we all know, many people consider Jesus to be a moral teacher but not the Son of God, and that being the case, they will only accept his teachings on that basis, so the stories are an effective way to convey that.

In this case, the motivations of Jesus and of fantasy writers is the same. Both wish that the people would understand them if they spoke plainly, but people don’t like that for the most part, so in order to get their message out, they use stories. Because they want people to have a better life, even if they stubbornly refuse to have the best life.

You might compare it to how, in stories, the heroes will have the best life (if they win) but the people who helped them along the way will still have a better life than otherwise. No good author likes making everyone in their story miserable just because they aren’t the hero. (Not that some don’t do it. Check out Les Miserables, though I don’t know if Victor Hugo liked it, so much as though he needed it.)

So, the first thing fantasy teaches us is that if we want to be happy, we have to be good. That is the foundation of all healthy fantasy, because any that says otherwise is lying, the real world will prove that.

There’s plenty more about this subject to be delved into, but for now, I’ll sign off.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Spectacular Spider-Man!

I do not like spiders, but ironically, my favorite superhero was Spider-Man when I was a kid. Back when it was the only superhero comic I read. (We used to get them in the mail, cool huh? I wish that still was a thing.) And while Scott Free and Big Barda may be my new favorites, along with Wonder Woman, Spider-Man will always hold a special place in my affections.

And that’s why I have now seen the Tobey Maguire movie version of it, which was the most true to comic book version that I have seen. (I couldn’t have  been the only one disappointed by the less mature, and more goofy Spider-Man in Civil War, though even so, he was the best of it, in my opinion.)

I’ve talked about Superheroes in general a lot, but I haven’t talked about most of them specifically, let’s do that.

In my view, Spider-Man and Batman are a lot alike. (I apologize for the hyphens, but autocorrect keeps putting them in.)

I don’t mean personality wise, but let me say, I’d forgotten how sad Peter Parker’s story was. It was even worse seeing it then reading it. I guess that means the actors were convincing. The movie version is even more like Batman because Peter sees Uncle Ben after he’s shot and goes off at once to stop the killer. Only to find in an  un-Batman-like twist, that it was a guy he could have stopped.

Lesson Learned: Revenge is stupid and so is yelling at someone over nothing.

But I would not be flippant about it, Spider-Man had a legitimately crummy life, whatever version of him you know. he gets dumped constantly; his friends turn into villains; his villains turn into worse villains; his family dies. Not fun.

The amount of times Peter Parker gets really hurt, emotionally and physically, are enough to make you ache in sympathy. Why? You ask. Why do the writers keep doing this to him? (If anyone knows the answer tot hat, please comment it, seriously.)

By contrast, Batman witnesses one personal tragedy (though more later in some versions of him) and is scarred for life. Ig et that there’s a difference of age here, but still…

Really, it’s their personality. Spider-Man is a wisecracking kid trying to dot he right thing and pay the rent at the same time. Batman is a rich kid with nothing else to occupy his time except making business deals and going to events. Nott hat I fault him for that. To each his own, but perhaps Batman gets more of the luxury of wallowing in Self Pity.

After all, Peter has to support his aunt, and keep any eye on Mary Jane and his other friends. (Though they dwindle.)

Maybe it’s true that idleness is worse for your character than almost anything else. Bruce Wayne can be kind of self absorbed, though he does a lot of good. Peter doesn’t have that option. So  even though he’s younger, he’s got more heart. (Like Captain America says.)

Maybe that’s why my favorite version of Batman, and the only one I really like and respect, is the Justice League Unlimited one. AS much as I wanted someone to punch after he turn down Wonder Woman, he still is at his best when he’s with the League.

It brought him a bit out of the shell of darkness most of his movies place him in. It’s even in the background. Most of the JLU adventures take place in the daytime, whereas if you go to a Batman only film or show, most of it is at night. Interesting, right?

I could go on for a whole other post about Batman’s good moments in the League (maybe I will, who knows?) But for now I think it’s enough o say he needs friends.

Another difference between them, despite their similar origins, is that Batman usually has people around him who wish he’d let them be more of friends or family to him, but he won’t.

Where as Spider-Man will, but he gets deserted or libeled or overlooked.

I really think Peter Parker just needed to be cut some slack by his writers, but I guess that just doesn’t leave people o the edge like horrible things happening does.

I ought to have learned by now that a person like me, who likes peace, tranquility, and happy endings; is never going to be satisfied with superhero material unless I purposely stop before it gets ruined again.

It’s the never ending battle of super-heroism that is what I don’t like about the concept. And no one said it had to be that way when the genre started, it just evolved into that. And that was what kept stuff selling. Which we can only blame consumers for.

Apparently, I’m pretty much a minority in my tastes on that score.

Anyway, you might be wondering if I liked the movie. The answer is: I neither liked it nor disliked it.

The Green Goblin is without a doubt the scariest Spider-Man (or Marvel itself even) villain I’ve ever seen, though there are DC villains even worse than him. He was too real. I firmly believe what happened to him could happen in real life, and probably has.

Nonetheless, it was not exactly a tragedy because he chose it himself and kept choosing it. My sister said choice was the big theme of the movie.

I agree, and I would add so was the difference between being given power, and trying to take it.

This difference is sort of pointed out in Frozen, when people think Elsa is using sorcery, but as we know, she was born with her powers, making them a gift.

That’s actually a subject worth covering in another post, but I can’t delve into it here.

The Green Goblin, or Osborne, made all the bad things happen to himself by poor planning and experimenting with dangerous things and ultimately committing murder and hurting his son’s emotional well-being. A classic case of a villain who doesn’t know he’s a villain. Only, he does, in a way.

Peter, on the other hand, directly cause only on of the bad things that happens to him, and is sorry for it. Not blaming anyone else. But instead of letting it crush him, he does the only thing he could to honor Uncle Ben’s last bit of advice to him, he uses his powers for good instead of selfish gain.

You have to pick up the pieces after your life is shattered, or you and everyone around you will step on the broken glass.

And those are my words of wisdom for now, until next time–Natasha.

What I hate (and love) about superheros.

Not the first time I’ve talked about this I know, but I actually have found a couple of superhero films that I like, and the new Wonder Woman came out this month, so let’s go for it.

First of all, start with the negative.

What I hate about superhero movies is how darn depressing they are. Seriously, there’s some pscyo villain who has some non-relatable reason for wanting to destroy humanity, and we’re all supposed to sympathize with them, even when they’re point of view makes no sense. And the hero never has a really good answer for them.

At least in the last decade and a half of films.

But when they do it right, the villain is tragic or at least someone we won’t feel sorry for; and the hero is not shaken by the villain’s warped world view.

Not all superhero movies are depressing, they were originally inspiring.

What I like about superhero movies is they can give us a cool story, with plenty of unrealistic action and science and powers; but they keep it grounded in real life. The perfect combination some would say.

In my personal opinion, “The Incredibles” nailed this one in every way. The heroes never stop being normal people with their own quirks and problems to work out.

In contrast, the Avengers never stop acting like superheroes. I have never seen any of them really loosen up and turn off the charm and bravado and wise cracking, and just be people.

The whole idea of a superhero is a person with special powers, who uses them unselfishly. The MCU can’t even decide whether it’s heroes are heroes or villains.

What shocks me is how many people are applauding this, even while many are horrified. People find a movie boring now, if the villain is not just as compelling as the hero.

I don’t mind an interesting villain, but if they aren’t going to reform by the end, I don’t want to get attached to them.

This will sound sacrilegious, but I have never made any connection with any modern superhero except briefly for Captain America. (In his first movie.)

But, what I do like about the superheros I actually connect with, is how they never let anything stop them from doing the right thing.

It’s like Superman says of his friends in one episode of the animated Justice League, he tells the bad guy he’s fighting that none of them will stop fighting as long as they ‘re breathing, and able to move. (I paraphrase.)

I appreciate the teamwork they exhibit. It’s what makes they’re powers are attractive, because the team shows the best of everyone.

But it’ how they are with each other in ordinary life that really makes it work.

I think Guardians of the Galaxy was better in  this regard, even though they all start off as enemies and end up with rather dysfunctional family–friendship dynamic, it worked.

Anyway, there’s no formula for making a good superhero flick…which is the problem. Personally, I find movies where there has to to be a violent action sequence every five minute to be boring.

I’d really start to think superheros just don’t have self control.

At least when Mr. Incredible loses it, there are serious consequences.

I really hope that this new Wonder Woman film sparks a new trend, because I think this genre had a lot of potential if people figure out how to use it right.

In the end, though, whenever you have huge quantities of something, the’res only going to be a few really good products to choose from.

I think some people see it as stuck up to even complain, the masses like the total crud that studios pop out every two years, why not we? What makes our opinion so much better?

Well, I can’t really say. I have my reasons, my concern is that the majority of us don’t use reason when we’re judging a film or any other thing we like. We want to be entertained. Not taught.

(I know folks who won’t even try to hide that this is their perspective.)

And if that’s what you want, than even a really well-made movie is lost on you. Take Frozen as an example. I know for a fact that despite its popularity, not even half of the fans fully understand why it’s a great movie. They like the songs, the cool clothes, the funny scenes, and the wishy-washy message about love; but they miss the real deep message about true love, and the really important stuff the movie is telling us about ourselves.

And many just can’t stomach the format.

Personally, I don’t care about formatting.(Most of the time.) My tastes go from those super-boring-to-most-people real life story movies, to a few of the notoriously bad Christian movies, to Disney, to obscure movies very few people have ever heard of and movies that were supposedly made to sell toys.

I don’t care. I just want the movie to speak to me. Otherwise, what’s the point? Literally.

Now, it is possible to get caught in the trap of assigning meaning where meaning clearly wasn’t intended, which is why I think movie reviewers are important in moderation. Just like book reviewers are. I’d be hypocrite if I said that’s a bad thing.

But I do think there is too much credit given to the movies that are huge successes. Frankly, a lot of them are trash. Except the ones that are not.

But, there are legit reasons people like even the Superhero movies that I despise. A lot of the times they can overlook the flaws because the heroes are just so cool, and I suppose that’s fine to a certain point.

But you can’t just excuse every problem because a movie appeals to your personal taste. Per example, I used to like Pocahontas the best of any Disney princess movie, but though I don’t hate it now, I admit it’s pretty flawed. (Sorry to any fans out there.)

Anyway, I risk shooting the sacred cow just writing this, but I think people will see where I’m coming from.

Until next time–Natasha.

It’s not what you do.

I’d like to start off by personally thanking all of you faithful readers who keep coming back to this blog, even on days I don’t post, it really is encouraging.

Also, it was finals week, so I had to devote more time to finishing up my project, that’s why I only blogged a couple times, but it’s Summer Vacation time and hopefully that will get better. You other bloggers know what I’m talking about.

So, today’s topic: What’s wrong with Millennials?

Okay, that was kind of a joke.

The thing is, we get criticized a lot, and I can’t be the only one who feels like it’s a problem. People judge us before they even know us.

Movies aren’t helping either, they show us more and more often addicted to our handheld devices, or they show the next generation down (whatever they’re called) addicted even more.

On the other hand, movies at least feature main characters who aren’t typically glued to a screen, because who’d watch that movie? Not me.

But, this is no time to start whining about how nobody understands us.

I actually sympathize with the older generation who thinks we’re throwing away our lives on things that don’t really matter.

They say we’re not mature.

And a lot of us aren’t.

But, it’s not all our doing either.

I notice a constant theme in the material aimed at our generation: Self Discovery.

I like Self Discovery to an extent. It’s perfectly healthy to be independent and creative and try new things.

It is crucial to your development to know yourself.

But I have some concerns about where this train is taking us.

I saw a bit of a show the other day, one of those “reality” shows where they aren’t filming actors, but the lives of real people. And there was a baby shower happening, and some moms were passing around advice. But to my slight horror, all they said was “Let the little things go” and “Don’t worry because you’re going to be a great mom.” Don’t doubt yourself, basically.

Look; it’s all well and good to not be afraid of being a mother, but since when is that all you need to know about it?

Isn’t it kind of selfish to focus on how you feel and not on how your child is going to feel growing up? I think some advice in that area would have been timely.

Plus, “Let the little things go,” is advice most of us aren’t taking. Who is famous for freaking out about every little inconvenience?

Yet, simultaneously, we also are known for going with the flow.

This is not everyone to be sure. It may not even be most of us, but it is what is being made into our image. Thank you, television.

The worst of it is, we are warned about not accepting what the people around us think about us, but not against not accepting what the TV and Movie industry says about us. I find what they say very offensive a lot of the time.

We all should take a moment to ask ourselves who made teenage promiscuity, drinking, and rebellion, cool in the eyes of the culture?

Who made dark and gritty the new face of teen movies and novels?

Who made a mockery of parents?

Beep be deep a deep– The Entertainment Industry.

With a lot of help from other sources of course.

See, it’s not what the majority of people do that makes it a cultural trend, it’s what the majority of people see as normal.

For example, we all have lied. But if it wasn’t accepted as normal, few people would admit to doing it. And less people would keep doing it.

I don’t lie, at least on purpose. The scary thing is that there are kids who, when they hear that, scoff at it.

What have we done?

In all fairness, a lot of blame does go to parents, since it’s not like it’s a law that kids have to watch certain shows, and shows or no shows, it is the parents who set the moral tone of the house.

And the shows warn us that parents don’t understand us, but guess who does? The shows themselves.

But I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

And I don’t want to make things harder for parents by making them feel guilty.

But we all need to think, hard.

Personally, I’m considering the effect movies with swearing and a lot of sex jokes have on my mind. Just because I won’t tell those jokes, or swear, does it mean it’s not affecting me?

But I’m lucky that the only way I see the corruption of the world is generally through the screen, literally. Most of you probably see it every day, in person. If its’ disheartening to me, it must be worse for you.

It is exhausting to stay positive in a world with so much negativity. But let me offer a small tip before I close.

Remember that comic book I keep referencing?

Well, there’s a very important character in it, Auralie. She’s got only one line, but it’s what we see her doing that is important. It is said of her “Her thoughts are beautiful, she creates beauty with her mind, imagine doing that on a world like Apocalips.”

It’s really not what’s around you that makes you happy or hopeful, it’s what you grow inside you.

For me, that is faith.

And if Millennials and other generations alike choose to focus on growing those good things inside ourselves, then it won’t matter what’s happening around us. I mean, it won’t harm us.

It’s not many who will make that choice, but everyone has the option.

Those are my thoughts for now–Until next time, Natasha.

Hercules and Atlantis–part 2

Now for Atlantis:

So, meet Milo Thatch, our protagonist. Basically, he’s like Hercules only a geek and not buff.

But he’s also not awkward. Milo is just that right balance of socially out of it and decent, polite person, also pretty lonely since his Grandpa died.

Milo has spent his life trying to find out where the lost continent of Atlantis is, and has finally figured out where the Shepherd’s journal, the key to finding it is, but everyone has decided he’s a fool and won’t give him the chance.

Thankfully, the movie spend only about ten minutes on this boring and over sued plot, and we turn to the far more interesting discovery, that the journal was already found by Milo’s grandfather and that his lifelong friend Mr. Whitmore has just been waiting for the right time to send Milo off to discover Atlantis, with the same crack team that found the journal.

People have said the movie is boring, I say, what movie did you watch? Huge machines that can sink the most fortified submarine ever; a cook who things beans, bacon, whiskey, and lard are the four food groups; and a giant worm. Not to mention one of the scariest and most apathetic villains Disney features to date. (I thought he was scary.) My guess is that the main complaint would be the lack of character arcs, to which I say pfft!

Our cast of characters is memorable, cool, and hilarious. Each different and each will remind you of someone you know, probably. Milo is us, pretty much. And Then there’s Audrey, the  mechanical genius who’s also the youngest person abroad, in her teens; Sweet, the kind-hearted doctor who’s also super funny; Mole, the…mole (digger), and also the person who hates soap; Lenny, the slightly nutty explosives expert; and the old lady whose name I have never remembered but she’s classic grumpy grandma with a good heart; and of course Cookie, the cook.

The movie also features the unusual and sad character of Helga, or Lieutenant, as she’s called most of the time. Helga seems to be the typical tough girl, efficient and non-emotional, and she is– but there’s a little hint that she might have been more. After they find Atlantis (I told you, spoilers, but if you’ve seen commercials, you knew that already,) she tells Rourke aside “There were not supposed to be people down here, this changes everything.” To which Rourke replies coldly “This changes nothing.”

What everything? Well later we find out that ?Milo was the only one who did not know that the purpose of the mission was to steal the power source from the people. He originally wanted to find it, yes, but once he knew there were people there, that thought went out of his mind. He never dreamed anyone would still do that.

It seems Helga had second thoughts, very briefly, and never again does she seem to waver, perhaps she figures she doesn’t know these people and no one will ever find out they even existed. It’s still cold-hearted, but we’re left wishing she had chosen differently, and in the end, she does play an important part in saving the Princess, though it’s in revenge and she dies afterward.

But versus the heartless Rourke, she’s a more sympathetic character, and that’s, in my opinion, the brilliance of the movie. Like with Megara, all our heroes are flawed, (except Milo,) they’ve all done things that, as Lenny says “We ain’t proud of.” But wiping out an entire civilization proves to be more than they can live with, at least after Milo makes an impressive and short speech about it. I don’t think that takes away from it, we all need to be kicked in the pants every now and then before we’ll do the right thing.

We all know that they are not perhaps, role models, most of them were pretty mean to Milo at first, and they turned on him for a while; but in the end they knew he was right and risked their lives to undo the damage they had done.

They still got rich.

And you could say that was lame, but I think it’s fine. They didn’t know beforehand that that would happen, and call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think it’s lame to be rewarded for doing the right thing, it’s just not a requirement in every circumstance.

The verdict:

I find Atlantis very entertaining, and in a kid friendly way, without a lot of gore or on the line humor. Plus, though it hasn’t the deepest message, it has a good one. It’s an adventure and exploration movie, and it was wise to keep it that way and not change the tone with a lot of unnecessary drama or moral dilemma that had nothing to do with the main plot.

Hercules is the opposite in that way because the side plot turns into the main plot in an almost unforeseen way, and it is deep.

Milo does the right thing partly for Kida, his love interest, but mostly because it is the right thing, and who else is going to do it. There’s also a theme of doing the right thing even when it seems like it’s not the smart thing, and how much his grandfather influenced him. Also, don’t be a mercenary, and take that Flynn Rider, (and to an extent Kristoff, I love you guys, but really, you couldn’t help the girl just because it was the right thing–and she’s hot, of course, because they always are.)

Why hate on either of these movies? They weren’t claiming to be cinematic masterpieces. They are exactly what they seem. Atlantis is a cool and classy film with eccentric characters and mysterious forces; Hercules is  zany spin on old myths with a heartwarming message.

Both are making their point pretty darn well in my mind. That’s all for now–Natasha.

Hercules and Atlantis.

Our story begins before Hercules, many years ago…

That’s pretty much how the Disney version of Hercules starts.

Atlantis starts a little differently: Shouting, someone yells “You fool! You’ve destroyed us all!” A wierd crystal thingy pulls a woman into itself, and a whole city sinks beneath the wave. Fast forward to 1914.

Why am I tackling both movies in one review, well, they’re short. And another reason is that they both get a lot of flack in the Disney fandom, which I think is undeserved. Or maybe it’s in the anti-Disney fandom.

You all know what I think of Disney and how stupid I find most of the criticisms against it, but it’s also a little strange that I like two movies that both have very different ideas of the gods than I do. (I know folks who won’t touch movies like that, you see.)

Well, I do draw the line somewhere when it comes to magic and other religions, but not here. The reason is simple: Hercules isn’t saying Greek gods are real any more than Sleeping Beauty is saying fairy godmothers are real. It’s pretend, and it’s used to tell a story, not to tell us what to believe. Which is very different from other sources which might use the same material. (Like the Heroes of Olympus series. I’m looking at you Riordan.)

Atlantis is a little more iffy, but I go with it because I like the movie and have never had problems with the mystical side. Plus, it’s still not meant to be taken seriously.

It has been awhile since I’ve seen it though.

But essentially, what I like about these movies is the same, they use a more unconventional approach to make a profound point in a way a child can understand and an adult can mull over.

(Spoiler alert.)

Hercules is straightforward: He’s stolen from his godly parents, raised by mortals, goes off to seek his true home, becomes a big shot hero after a lot of training, and ultimately earns back his immortality.

But the person that makes the entire movie for me is Meg, his love interest. At first I never liked her, and didn’t like the movie all that much, but once I got older I started to understand the story better. Meg is working for Hades, the bad guy, and hates it and him; but has no choice because she sold her soul to him to save an ungrateful boyfriend who then left her. Meg is only eighteen so we’ll blame her age for her poor choice of men. But now, more cynical and bitter, she mistrusts Hercules up until his humility and unpretentiousness win her over.

What makes this a little different from the usual girl-learns-to-love-again plot line is that Hercules is entirely honest about being nice to Meg and she knows it. It’s actually her conscience that drives her to the conclusion that she can’t help Hades anymore, only it’s her love that gives her the courage to face him. Things go tough for Meg because though Hades can’t make her choose to obey him, he can bind her and gag her and use her as a pawn, which he does.

I almost cried along with her when Hercules finds out she was helping Hades but doesn’t know she changed her mind and tried to get out of it. In the end Meg figures she’s lost Hercules but goes and get his trainer Phil in order to save his life, and then saves it herself by throwing herself under a pillar and pushing him out of the way.

After Hercules returns the favor and saves her life, she thinks he’s going to be immortal and decides to quietly walk out of the picture, but Hercules decides to stay with her instead. everyone lives happily ever after.

Now, that is fairly predictable, but it’s still plenty of food for thought. Hercules is a bit of a Christ Character. an immortal becoming mortal and being a hero, ultimately laying down his life to save his love, and earning his immortality through that. And the message that a Hero is measured by the strength of his heart is nothing new, but that’s because it’s true.

The movie is smart to point this out, because Hercules becomes a hero to everyone and earns fame, but all he wants is to go home. He starts to get a big head for a brief time but as soon as he finds out all this is not enough, he quickly goes back to being humble and questioning is he’s really such a hero. He has no conflict about doing the right thing, his only weakness being that he’ll sacrifice the greater good to save Meg. If you could say that’s wrong.

Making Hercules humble was the only way to make him heroic, in my opinion, and the movie passes it off believably.

Also that Hercules father guides him and is the king of all the gods lends more weight to the Christ Character idea. I don’t think that was intentional or that the movie needed that, it’s just interesting.

But the way the Christ parallel is actually important is this: Meg, unlike most Disney Princesses, is not perfect or always on the right side. She makes serious mistakes, and even her self sacrifice only makes up for it, it doesn’t erase it. This is a sobering thing to have with out female lead. Meg actually needs forgiveness, she really needs it.

We all know that this would be true of any princess, but we don’t see it with anyone else up until Merida and Elsa come on the scene much later. (Well, in my opinion, Ariel too, but she’s not called on it.)

The fact that Hercules accepts this about her but chooses to believe in her best is what really makes his character.

And that’s where Meg gives us hope, if we let her, the hope that there is forgiveness for your mistakes, and you can be free from your bondage. And that there is someone who will give up everything for you and do it gladly. I hate that some people think Meg would be haunted by that later in life, why, she’s lucky. Few of us get that kind of love in an earthly life.

But Herc is really a heavenly being after all.

I’ll dive in to Atlantis (ha ha) in part two, until then–Natasha.

The Croods

Okay, this movie was on the list of Movies I will never watch.

Why? Because the name says it all. Or does it?

Well, one of my siblings saw it and said it wasn’t as bad as we expected, then I saw the end of it on TV and thought “This doesn’t seem so bad.” So finally I sat through the whole thing. (At least I think it was the whole thing.)

Now, the whole premise is based off evolution, which I don’t buy in the least, so I kind of had to ignore that. I thought “It’s like any other fiction setting. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously.”

Well, I certainly hope that was the case. Let me just say I never saw so clearly why evolution is repulsive and not a really nice kind of fictional idea. You’d either have to believe it was true, or be utterly disgusted that anyone could hatch such and idea. Or lay such an idea, which came first? Laying or hatching? (Ha ha.)

There is something disturbing about watching human beings act like animals, and not as a joke, but because they are just animals, in that ideology. And once Guy, the one normal person, came on the scene, the contrast just got worse. The one thing that helped was Guy pretty much was speaking for the audience the whole time as he was freaked out by the Croods behavior. Which was sort of funny, sort of.

Guy also is initially afraid of them because they are cave men. Which is interesting. because we don’t usually think of more evolved, i. e. smarter, people being afraid of less evolved people. But brute strength is just that, brutal. And I can understand why he was freaked out. The scary thing about brutality is that you can’t reason with it.

But the Croods don’t turn out to be quite as bad as he (or we) thought. Though the way they eat is truly terrifying to watch, and honestly gave me the same sick feeling as “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” did. They are stupid, but it’s clear that the father (I forget his name) cares about his family and is unselfish about providing for them and protecting them. His wife is also a pretty nice mom character. Who sticks up for the other characters when she sees fit. Thunk and the Mother-in-law I have little to say about other than they get better at the end, but are pretty annoying and gross through the beginning and middle of the movie. The baby had one sweet moment when she said her first word, the rest of the time she acted like a dog. Literally.

The most important characters are Eeb and Guy. Eeb is kind of annoying at times, but we feel bad for her because she hates living in the dark and doing the same thing every day. Just surviving. The first real moment of connection between her and Guy is when he says, half pleadingly, “I hate the dark.” At first, Guy doesn’t particularly seem to like Eeb, but since he’s all alone in the world save for his pet lemur–monkey thing, he gives her a shell to signal him with. After all, she is human, and he wants her to live through the disaster he’s seen coming. The disaster turns out to be the Continental Drift. (Ice Age anyone?)

Eeb goes on to tell her family about Guy, which immediately makes her dad suspicious, then their cave gets destroyed and they have to run out into the more fertile and uncharted territory beyond. Of course they immediately get into trouble and Eeb signals for Guy. (And if you’re thinking the Adam and Eve thing was intentional, I totally agree.) Guy, albeit it reluctantly, saves them and gets thanked by nearly being suffocated and then imprisoned in a hollow log. however, after a while Eeb lets him get out because he’s hungry and he offers to let her help him hunt. Since she’s been grounded form tis, her favorite thing to do, she accepts readily.

But this movie never loses an opportunity to be crude, within the PG limits that is. You won’t find any sex humor or half cursing in here, that I remember, and it can be really gross, and also frustrating to watch people be idiots the whole time.

Still, there are some moments where we feel like we’re watching a real family. There’s one important scene in the second half of the movie where Guy and the Dad are both stuck in tar, and Guy finally reveals why he’s alone, this was how his family died. They were clearly more evolved, since he is, but no one knew how to get out of tar. Guy then says the last thing his dad told him was “Don’t hide, live.”

Yep. That’s the whole point of the movie.

And while I’d not say the movie makes it in any brilliant way, the setting does illustrate it fairly well. What better way to show the futility of the survival mindset than with a hypothetical cave man story? I’ll even admit that it probably breaks it down in the easiest to understand way.

The point is profound even if the characters are not particularly so. And for once, the simple, three word way of making it actually works. Especially since the way Guy says it really sells the line as important.

After this, the dad finally accepts that even though Guy is sort of a threat to his authority, he is also lonely and needs a family, even if they are a lot less smart than him. Something Guy himself has realized by this time.

Another really important moment is when Guy is the first to support the dad’s plan to save them all. It is really cool to watch the dynamic of the new guy respecting the father, in the most literal sense, as well as figuratively.

We even get a kind of Noah’s ark reference.

The movie closes with the Croods and Guy all deciding to live out in the open and follow the light. In Eeb’s words.

The verdict?

I neither recommend or discourage seeing this movie. You can get a cool message from it, but you can also be left with a lot of unpleasant images running through you mind. A lot will depend on your tolerance level. There are better movies to watch about really living, but few that will cover it in a simple enough way for kids to understand, so there is that. But I suggest parents screen it in advance.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

Black, White, and Grey.

You all know that you can spell grey with an e or an a? Weird huh?

The spelling of grey is arbitrary, it’s not even a British English vs American English thing as far as I know. (Unlike spelling honor, valor, favor, flavor, and other “o-r” words with an “o-u-r”, which they do in Britain. Or used to anyway. Which is why, I, being the C. S. Lewis fan that I am, still “misspell’ those words sometimes.) How you spell it is entirely up to you.

Doesn’t that just seem fitting? Because we like to say there there’s black and white morality, and then there’s a grey area. The grey area is your arbitrary perception of right or wrong, or your uncertainty thereof.

In simpler terms, the grey area is moral limbo.

Some say there is no grey area. (Gray area?)

Well, I think that there probably is. But I think we need to be more specific about what we mean when we say grey area.

We don’t mean that some things are neither right nor wrong, we mean that some actions are right or wrong in different circumstances, and those circumstances are not always plain to see.

See, I believe in situational ethics, but not what the term means now, but just that different situations call for different actions.

What I don’t believe is that your code of ethics can change with each situation. Just the enacting of it does.

See, if you are a inconstant person when it come to telling the truth, than your ethics are that truth is only important some of the time. So whether you tell it in one situation (where it won’t hurt your case), or hedge it in another (where it will), your ethics have remained the same.

Likewise, if you tell the truth whether it hurts you or not, you ethics are to be painfully honest.

Simple, right?

But that’s more of a black and white example. Or is it?

People would argue that lying is better sometimes in order to save someone’s feelings, I personally think lying is justifiable only when someone’s life is at stake, and that’s a rare situation.

But you see how this black nd white thing can quickly be turned into a grey area.

It’s kind of the inspiration for the title “Fifty shades of Grey,” but I won’t go there. (No, I haven’t seen it, and I won’t if I can help it.)

But this is where all this arbitrariness has gotten us.

Part of the reason I enjoyed Mr. Miracle so much was because in the 70’s, right and wrong could still be cut and dried things. Clearly, Scott was doing the right thing, and his enemies were monsters (literally often enough.) Barda sometimes verges on doing something bad, but she is always stopped or stops herself before it gets to that point.

But look at superhero movies and comics now, our heroes spend more time trying to figure out if they are really heroes than they do defeating the bad guys. Who often try to say they aren’t bad guys. You know, back in Shakespeare’s day, a riveting villain was one who knew they were evil and wanted to be different but had one vice they would not let go of (Read Hamlet.) Shakespeare called it what it was, insanity. There was no grey area. most of his villains don’t even want to change.

Now, we have bad guys who don’t want to change yet we feel sympathy for them because they are more human. Plenty of people will defend to the last this way of treating bad guys.

When this trend started, it wasn’t all bad. Some villains do just need to be shown some mercy. But I would argue they are the ones who are less evil and more confused or bitter. Which would not be the majority now.

Some people are cruel because no one had ever been kind to them, they can change because of mercy.

But some are cruel because no one ahs ever stood up to them. And that is not something mercy is going to fix.

Why should we sympathize with people who have never really been mistreated but decide that it’s their destiny to control everything?

I have both real life and fictional examples in mind, and I’ll bet you do too.

I think this is pretty long, but my word count is not working, so I’ll wrap this up.

We all need to realize that you don’t prevent evil by questioning good. Someone needs to tell the media this. (Of course, sometimes evil masquerades as good.) But when good is apparent, we should not second guess it.

There’s this thing called faith. I like what that one girl in the first avengers movie said after the big New York showdown. The avengers saved her life, so she believes in their intentions.

You see, it’s not the good guys fault that there are evil creatures raining from the sky, but it is their fault that the rain stopped.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.