A continuation…

I thought I’d say a little bit more about Age of Ultron.

Actually, this isn’t isolated just to this movie, its in a lot of stuff now.

But one specific scene that really bothered me was the conversation between Bruce Banner and Natasha (Black Widow.) She shares some more of her dark past, about being sterilized.

Maybe I’m just naive, but the practices of whatever organization she was supposed to being sound more like Granny Goodness’es orphanage than they do a spy school.

Furthermore, if she started being a spy when she was six, like the first movie showed, why would she still be in training in her twenties?

But worst of all, she refers to herself as a monster because of what happened.

Am I the only one that finds that really degrading to the many people who choose to have that operation for various reasons? Not all of them are good, but not all of them are monstrous either.

but aside from that, I have a problem with them referring to Banner and Natasha as monsters to begin with. Then later Tony Stark (who I never liked) says he and Banner are both monsters and they should own it.

This was exactly the problem I had with Ever After High’s occasional confusion of principles. And the whole point of that show initially was that just because you were raised to be evil, and other people think you are, doesn’t mean you should be or have to be.

And it sure as heck doesn’t give these three avengers the excuse to be monsters.

I’ve worried about it myself, most people have. We all act in ways we aren’t proud of, and sometimes we scare ourselves with how messed up we can be. Or how mean. Maybe like Banner we have anger issues, maybe like Natasha we’ve lost all our integrity and want to get it back, maybe we have a huge ego like Tony and don’t use the best judgment.

What do all these things boil down to? Fear.

All three of them are afraid that they will either fail the team just when they are needed most, or will actually be the reason it falls.

That’s why all of us feel this way. I should know. IT defined me for a long time.

At least movies like Frozen are honest about it. Fear is the monster, it has nothing to do with our power or our personality. It’s this weakness in us that makes us prone to fear, and every human being has it.

But that’s no reason to shame ourselves or each other. And in my humble opinion, it was disgraceful for the movie to shame it’s own characters and also every person watching who struggles with their issues. That’s not lifting up a beacon of hope, folks.

And don’t tell me “Well, that’s just the second movie, and their character arcs aren’t finished yet.” That’s no excuse. If I can’t find some truth in every single installment, then it’s not worth watching.

Also, the way the movie portrays people in the military is just wrong. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are only in the army because of a horrible thing that happened to them when they were kids. They want revenge on Stark. So they let themselves be turned into human weapons.

Um…most people do not join the military because of personal loss, there are more noble reasons than revenge to try to do something. I notice just about every agent in these films is in for some personal reason. Which may be okay for them, but sometimes people just sacrifice themselves for the good of mankind, and they don’t need a personal payoff in doing it. And war is no way to redeem one’s character either, it’s too morally debatable to begin with.

I also hated Ultron. His view of humanity is terrible. And Vision, whom I was counting on to be more positive, basically says. “yeah, you’re mostly right, but I’m pro-life.” I’m pro-life of course, but his argument certainly wouldn’t have convinced me if I was wavering.

And what Ultron said about humanity is a lie. Most of what he said is a lie. He quote my least favorite Disney movie several times, (Pinocchio) and I think it’s supposed to symbolize how he view humans as puppets he can manipulate and alter as he wishes, and himself as a real person, the enlightened man.

Ugh.

I notice he reflects all the worst parts of Stark, and magnifies them. He’s arrogant, inconsiderate, and has the same sense of humor. And he denies being like him, just like Tony denies that what he’s doing is insane.

By the by, when Huntress did something similar to what Tony did on the Justice League Unlimited show, she got got kicked out. Just saying.

I’d have to agree with Fury that Tony was a loose cannon. His actions were inexcusable.

And these are the heroes.

It might sound like I’m being too hard on them, but consider what we’re giving our youth and children to look up to.

A lot of them love the Avengers, they love every single movie, no matter how bad it’s message is or how depraved the ideas get. And we aren’t doing anything to stop it.

Because it’s cool.

Gosh, and to think how often that word excuses things that are wrong.

I’m sorry if there’s a marvel fan out there who’s getting really mad at me right now, but I just don’t see where the good in this is coming from. Excitement alone isn’t enough to salvage it.

And if we say it is, then we are disrespecting the very genre itself. Superheros were meant to be looked up to and to inspire kids and adults alike to be heroic and brave and self sacrificial, the superhero craze began right after WWII for crying out loud. America wanted its youth to be like soldiers. Devoted to good and their fellow man at whatever cost.

And what have we let that become?

I don’t care what’s modern and culturally acceptable, it’s still wrong. Id on’t think I’m alone in this conviction either.

And if you saw something in the Age of Ultron movie, or the Avengers movie that I’m missing, please tell me,  because I’m hard put to it to find anything in it to honor.

But I do have some hopes for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I know this movie is old news now, but I saw it for the first time yesterday, SI I thought I’d give my thoughts on it.

I’ve made no secret of my general disinterest in the Avengers, but I like to keep moderately up to date on them. I guess I’m hoping I’ll finally see what everyone else sees in it.

I’ll list the positives first: The character interaction of this film felt way more authentic to me than it did in the first one. You can buy that these people have known each other for awhile now. Clint Barton’s family was a cool part, and how Natasha is basically like their aunt, that’s cool.

Also the action made a bit more sense this time around, it wasn’t as all over the place as the first one felt, at least to me.

Fury was barely in it, but he always makes the plot more confusing so that was actually a good thing. He was in it enough to provide a good element of inspiration.

Finally, Quick Silver was great. I expected to dislike him most of the time but I didn’t. (I did go into it know what happens to him at the end, so that made it easier.) I think he was the best part.

And as a side note, Captain America and the Hammer did look totally like he could have lifted it, I saw it move. And the look on Thor’s face was priceless.

But beyond that, I don’t think this movie held up to the original”s standard, and definitely not my own.

Nice action is great in a superhero flick, but for me it doesn’t make it or break it, so long as the scenes don’t look like a sixties Batman fight, I can tolerate less spectacular fight techniques. And a lot of cool powers isn’t enough to tip the scale either.

Banter gets old unless it’s really good, and cliches and subverted cliches can be equally annoying. (Just because you subverted the cliche doesn’t mean it was a better scene.)

No, what gets me is the heart of a film. It’s why the Incredibles and that Justice League movie about two earths are my favorite superhero films, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

What the heart of Age of Ultron is would be hard to say. Other than Ultron gets his heart ripped out, which was gruesome even if he’s a robot.

I think the heart of it was supposed to be putting the civilians first, and valuing human life instead of just victory over evil.

Did I miss the announcement when a superhero valuing human life ever became something they had to decide in the middle of the film? Uh…that used to be for villains who were finally starting to see the light.

Oh that’s right, superheroes apparently are villains, in a way. (Gag.)

Look, if I have to question the moral choices of my hero, then they aren’t my hero anymore. I can’t look up to someone who is morally inferior to me. That’s stupid.

But I get why it’s popular. So many people identify with this because they are unsure of what their moral standard should be.

A hero should be an inspiration, so why did most of the Avengers spend more time in the film depressing me than they did lifting me up?

If you want to make a morally ambiguous, or philosophically uncertain film, great, but don’t call that a hero film. Heroes are the people who stand up for what’s right, defend the defenseless, and don’t back down from the villain. They are not the people hanging back brooding over whether or not they have the right to even interfere. Yes, the right.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? The Avengers are being accused by Ultron of being the disease of the planet, and they wonder if he’s right.

Well, if he is, it started when they made him.

Up till then, only the Hulk was a threat to society, and he was getting better. If they movie had focused on how the power of love and trust can make people rise to new heights, that would have been a good message.

One many would call cliche and cheesy. But there’s a reason these messages keep being repeated time and again, in every generation. And guess what, the generations that reject them are the ones that crumble in on themselves.

See, the day good things become too boring for the population is the day the population becomes more interested in feeling things strongly then they do in feeling what’s right. It’s like the people who chase erotic love instead of lasting love. The first one is just more of a thrill.

And believe me, I get how these new movies are emotionally seductive, if I may use that term. The stakes are always high, and there are tense moments, and some touching ones that feel very real.

But to what does it all tend?

When I watched The Hunger Games I understood everyone’s fascination with them. I’ve heard snippets of Twilight, and I get why teens were sucked into the series. I get it. Folks, I am not immune to the appeal.

But the appeal is something I despise in myself. Even though it’s there, I know it’s not good.

As a human being, I am as tempted as anyone to sacrifice principal for something that will make me feel all keyed up and pumped, or make me hang on the edge of my seat, or make me sigh and feel all wish- washy. Hey, those aren’t bad feelings.

But pursuing something just to get those feels, that’s either a waste of time, or it’s downright dangerous.

I know this for a fact. I’ve read and watched stuff for all those reasons, that’s how I got addicted to it. And that wasn’t healthy.

Now, it;s become kind of a joke to say you’re addicted to something that people really think is harmless. But addiction is never, ever harmless.

It makes you unhappier in the long run, it can make you depressed. It can make you pull away from the people around you. And it can make you crazily obsessed over something to the point where you neglect real world things.

That’s not a joke. And no one should act like it is.

But most people are unwilling to pull away from their screens long enough to really tell whether or not they have a problem. that’s part of the problem.

As for the Avengers, this movie made them look seriously messed up. Natasha’s whole part just made me sad, but without any hope that she’ll get better. She’s not allowed to, where’d all the conflict come from then, it is the only character development she gets after all…

Yeah, so I didn’t like it. I thought Ultron sucked, not because he wasn’t creepy, but because he made no sense to me. None of it did. I wish they’d decide whether the infinity stones control people or people control them. They can’t make up their minds.

There’s more to be said on this, but it’ll have to wait. Until next time–Natasha.

The Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’m a little late to the party on this, but I thought I’d review Guardians of the Galaxy.

This will go on record as being the only modern Marvel movie I actually like. So far.

It’s also the only one I get at all emotional watching. The sad scenes are actually sad. And that killer scene at the end when they all have the stone, it’s the only Marvel end scene that actually makes me feel pumped.

I’m sure some people think there’s something wrong with me that the Avengers moviesare basically boring to me, but I never feel like anyone, least of all the heroes, is really stopping to take in the weight of what’s really happening.

The Avengers are really like soldiers in an army, no time to be emotional, or to have hesitations, or to need more time to figure things out, they just charge into every battle they can and kick rear end.

I’ve never like watching people beat each other up without any personal investment in the fight. In fact, sometimes I get mad at the hero for punching the villain when I feel the villain didn’t deserve it, or that there was more mature way to handle it.

I feel like the Avengers are often like kids who can’t solve anything except by slugging it out.

Obviously, the Guardians of The Galaxy are the same way, so what makes the difference?

First of all, the Guardians acknowledge the dysfunctional nature of their anger issues. It’s not pretty, but at least they realize it’s messed up, and slowly begin trying to control themselves. This is a nice change from it being no moral conflict at all as to whether you should beat the crud out of the person you’re angry with.

Secondly, no one expects any of the characters to be good when the movie starts out. And none of them are. But over the course of the movie they realize what’s at stake, and they realize that working along side each other might be bizarre but it feels right, and it’s nice to have friends; so they are motivated to protect each other as well as the innocent people.

Thirdly, the villain, instead of bringing out the worst in the team by manipulation that they’re too blind to see coming (Loki anyone?) ends up bringing out the best in them. Spurring Gamorra to finally stop being an assassin Quill to finally stop being a selfish jerk, Drax to be willing to help someone else and admit his rage just wasn’t enough to justify his actions; and Rocket and Groot to stick their necks out for someone else.

By the way, this is traditionally the role a villain is supposed to play. Heroes are usually created when ordinary people rise up to stop evil, not when evil draws them together to destroy them.

There’s more reasons to like this movie. I think the on-the-edge violence and questionable ethics of the heroes makes more sense in the Galaxy setting, because of course the justice would be less focused in some planets, and we’re dealing with criminals turning good, not good guys experiencing moral conflict. The guardians start out at the opposite end of the scale, so we like them better as they progress, instead of worse as they give into temptation.

The way they constantly bicker isn’t really funny to me most of the time, I feel more frustrated, like Quill does, then like I’m enjoying it. but that’s another good point, they have to stop the petty banter before they can really realize why they need to do what they need to do.

Another point, and by far one of the best points of the film, is when Rocket says, for the first time not really sarcastic or bitter “Quill, you’re asking us to die.” The timing here is perfect, because Peter says “Yeah I guess I am.” And turns away, because he realizes he can’t actually ask people to die for his 12% of a plan. This moment is what makes this movie seem real, because the stakes are high, but there’s a healthy respect for the lives of your friends, and how you don’t have the right to demand they risk them. That’s why it’s not as cheesy or cliche when Gamorra  stands up and says she’d be grateful to die among friends. No one really believes they’re going to win, but they’d rather die trying with people they care about than live by running away.

That’s what makes my absolute favorite part (battle-wise) so much more meaningful. when Quill grabs that stone, it’s not from the greed for power, he knows it’s going to kill him. The cool thing is, Gamorra knows it’s going to kill her too, so do Drax and Rocket; yet they still grab on, proving they meant what they said about being willing to die with friends.  And what a horrible death too, so it’s really brave of them all. I think for me it means the most when Rocket does it, because he just lost Groot, his first real friend, and might not have a reason to sacrifice himself for the rest of them whom he didn’t even seem to like, but he does anyway.

Then that moment when the stone suddenly stops killing them, it’s amazing.

We know it’s not just that they’re powerful, because the group of people that held it before was still destroyed, I’ve always thought that it was because when they held on, they were all one in heart. With the same motivations, the same drive, the same will; and that was stronger than Ronan’s insane wish to destroy all life.

And darn it if that doesn’t inspire me even when it’s between people whom I wouldn’t normally admire.

But I guess it’s because they find a moral rock to stick to, whereas a lot of other superheroes have been losing their grip. (Not like I’m pointing the finger here, Batman.)

Actually in a wired way, the Guardians remind me of some other superheros, but that’s for another post.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: The Martian

Okay, first of all, if you were wondering I do know that he has a name.

The Martian Man-hunter’s name is J’onn J’onz, or something like that I don’t recall hearing his last name pronounced, but the first is just like John is said in French. Why a man from mars would have a name with a pronunciation like French, I don’t know.

Last but not least, as they like to say.

J’onn actually is the least relatable out of the seven, simply because he’s the only one who’s most definitively not human. He doesn’t even look human, unlike Superman, and partially Hawk Girl. He also doesn’t act human most of the time.

You’ve seen the character before, straight faced most of the time, really deep voice, rarely shows emotion. Spock-like.

But  not at the core.

J’onn was given some decent character development in the first season, and then pretty much reduced to the tech guy and overseer in the second (he also had to play bad cop to some of the junior members,) a decision the writers themselves seemed to regret, as one whole episode is devoted to the problem that became for him.

J’onn fulfills the family role of wise uncle or grandfather. He always seems older than the other members, even Batman. He usually provides the most cool headed and unbiased perspective.

The best example of this is in “The ties that bind.” In that episode, Flash and J’onn are the main League members. Flash is worried about being perceived as immature. We all know that J’onn is the most mature of anyone. What happens is that Mr. Miracle himself and Barda show up at the base to ask for some help in retrieving their friend Oberon from the clutches of Granny Goodness, the person responsible for brainwashing both of them in the past. They have to go rescue this guy named Kilberon. (By the way, he’s a modern invention, not from the original comic.)

J’onn refuses because Apokalips is a threat to Earth no matter who’s in charge of it (out of the choices) and he has no wish to make enemies with either side. Barda thinks this is a load of crud, probably because she’s made enemies with all of Apokalips, and Scott accepts it none too happily, they begin to storm off, when Flash intercepts them and volunteers to go just as an individual. Now they had wanted Superman, and J’onn was very much against that (Superman tends to be a loose cannon where anything Apokalips-related is concerned,) so they turn him down–until he shows how fast he is. Then they let him come.

Long story short, Flash helps them, they succeed, everyone gets home safety…and then J’onn calls Flash in to say something. Flash immediately launches into a speech about how he went behind J’onn’s back, but it turned out all right, and you know what? He’d do it again. How did J’onn like that?

J’onn takes a moment to sigh quietly, then he says “I was just going to ask you if you wanted to play–‘ (I forget the name of the game.) Flash just blinks and says “Oh, sure.”

That’s J’onn, super serious, but deep down he has a big heart. He probably felt Flash did the right thing after all–and maybe, just maybe, he wished he was not so practical and had been willing to recklessly do the same.

One thing the JLU got right that I think Marvel gets wrong a lot (sorry) is that the brainy part of the team should be led by the heart part. Whenever push came to shove on the show, you knew the characters thinking with their hearts and not just their heads were going to win.

When Batman and Superman debated crossing one of their lines to beat the Justice Lords, Superman opts for trusting one of his sworn enemies instead of being willing to kill.

When The League votes on whether Shirara can stay or not, it’s the people who are willing to give her a second chance who get the majority.

When Wonder Woman teams up with Hawk and Dove to defeat a magical war machine (I kid you not) it is Dove’s Peace–oriented perspective that saves the day, and Diana has to yield to it.

This list could go on, but I think that’s enough examples to make my point.

And perhaps the heart over head principle is most apparent in J’onn because he is the most in his head of all of them, but he’s also really devoted to the League because he sees it as his new family.

He only falters one time, in the horrible episode “Secret Society.” The one I really have a problem with finding believable. But even assuming the League really would act that way (out of the clear blue since none of those problems were there before,) J’onn’s part was both annoying and sad. he didn’t like them all tearing each other down, he’s actually the first to leave because it bothers him so much. It’s kind of out of character I think, but also understandable. He does end of being the one to save the day however, so I guess he redeems himself.

J’onn does make some tough calls over the course of the show. He’s also really sad quite a bit of the time, and loenly. His whole planet of people has been destroyed, though Mars is still orbiting the sun. Unlike Superman, J’onn actually watched it happen and was snatched from it seemingly by random chance.

Sometimes the strain of being the only mind reader is too much for him, when he pushes himself too far. But sometimes he can see things the rest of the League can’t because of hi understanding of thought. Like when they are fighting this thing called the Android (not the phone), who can copy all of their powers but is working for Lex Luthor. Wonder Woman tells J’onn to stay out of it because otherwise they’ll never beat him. But J’onn either through reading Luthor’s mind, or assessing the situation, realizes that the Android needs to be able to know what they want. So he allows him to copy his powers, telling him they are not his enemies. The Android then realizes Lex lied to him, and proceeds to defeat him and then leave.

Like I said, J’onn sees things differently.

And that wraps up this series. I hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.

Tech Crisis.

 

How about Wall-E?

You may have seen this Disney film from a few years back, I was just having a conversation with someone about it a few days ago. We were thinking about how technology is changing us. Not a new subject, I know, but have you noticed it’s one people seem constantly concerned about?

Well, at least they’re concerned, that’s a start.

I don’t think I’m at all misinterpreting the movie when I say it’s about how technology cripples us in the long run. It’s funny, when the movie fist came out, I wasn’t as aware of the Tech Crisis (I’m calling it that now) as I am today, but now that I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s all too clear. The human beings in that movie are all sitting around on their duffs, 24/7, watching their little holographic screens. Doing whatever the ship’s computer voice instructor tells them. They’re all so fat (no nice way to say it) they can’t even stand up by themselves. We’re shown later that it’s the time in space’s effect on their bones, they’ve lost a lot. ( I wonder if that’s actually symbolic of a loss of backbone, but I can’t say for sure on that.)

I’v heard that we’re a materialistic society, but the way I see, we’re more and more a people who are materialistic without the materials. I’ll show you.

Look at your phone right now, or your computer, or whatever. It’s probably small enough to be held in your hand. It weighs less than a pound. Now picture what’s inside it. A little micro-computer. Metal, chemicals, battery, and whatever else they make phone out of.

Believe it or not, that is all the physical material that many of us are obsessed with. The rest of it is all just images and ideas in our mind.

The actual material of on-screen transactions is very minimal. Nothing like the obsession with wealth that we used to term materialistic. That’s still a thing, but the other is far more common.

So, you see, we’re materialists without material.

And what’s more, even the mental material is often not really that. There’s plenty of indoctrination going on through TV, but the bulk of what we watch is completely useless to our minds, even as deception. The real deception is that we think it’s funny.

But this is not to come down on any particular genre or person. I think though that our concern needs to be followed up by action.

I can make myself pretty unpopular among the people around me when I actually have a problem with this kind of stuff, but if I allow that to change my mine, I have no backbone either.

Now, I freely admit, I use technology a lot. For this blog, I have to. And for typing anything, because I tried a typewriter, and I’m nowhere near accurate enough to make it worth the time and effort. (Plus you can only print one size and on font and that just doens’t work for me.) I do use smart ohones and tablets to look stuff up. I use dictionary.con instead of an actual dictionary often enough.

None of that is bad, and it’s not wha tI’m talking aobut.

I recognize that technology is helping us get soemthings done more effciently. And that using it to relax with isn’t a bad thing, in moderation.

But I think I overuse it too often. Binge watching stuff isn’t healthy. (Unless you have no other choice because you can’t keep it another day.)

Just to be positive for a moment, I’ll also say that without the internet I wouldn’t have found some of the books I love, been able to buy my favorite comic book, or found my favorite speakers. In all those ways, technology has been a blessing to me.

When I say I hate it, it’s not the items themselves, it’s the idea of it and what’s it’s turned us into.

I am an introvert, I won’t say I’ve never preferred being holed up, with YouTube, in a room by myself, to hanging around other people, but I rarely choose to do that. I have one simple reason:

I want to be the kind of person who prioritizes people over things.

Who actually tries to hang out with their family.

Who is available to their friends.

Sometimes technology is an aid to that, but I’ve found nine times out of ten that a good book works far better. Plus, it shows more of your priorities with what you read than with what you watch (other than watching stuff itself.)

It’s a bit cliche for the person at the other end of the screen to urge you to turn it off, but hey, it’s your call.

One more thing about Wall-E:

It’s a movie about learning how to be human.

Wall-E has overtime developed human feelings by watching their old movies and exploring their stuff. Their real stuff, I want to point out. He’s surrounded by materials that people used up until they went away and became reliant on their tech. The reason they did was because Earth got too messy to live on.

Wall-E, in true Blast form the Past style, falls in love with Eve, another robot. But Eve is more like a robot than he is, at first. Over the course of the film she starts doing more and more things that she wants to do, or are right to do, instead of just what she’s programmed to do. She develops a human personality as well.

You know how when someone seems checked out as a human being we’ll refer to it as auto-piliot? Well, the villain of the movie is Auto, the piloting system that has also developed it’s own consciousness, but a controlling, deceptive one. Intent on keeping power by keeping humanity stupid and dependent on himself. He doesn’t want to be turned off.

A great moment of the film is when the captain, after learning about Earth thanks to Wall-E, finally stands up to Auto and yells “I don’t want to do nothing! That’s all I’ve ever done is nothing!” He finally succeeds in turning Auto off and taking aback control of the ship.

They go back to Earth to take care of it, accepting their responsibility as people.

That’s the movie, in a nutshell. Rediscovering what it means to be human. Through a robot.

Ironic.

Until next time–Natasha.

Why I write and Read.

Hello readers, sorry for not posting. I’ve been busy.

I’m super excited about finishing up some of my books. Maybe if I ever get one published I’ll leave the title in a post.

I just hope my writing makes sense.

You may find this hard to believe, but I actually write more fiction than non-fiction. This blog is maybe 20% of my writing time.

But I love fiction.

I love fantasy.

I love making it up even more than I love reading it.

There’s something magical (ha ha) about world building.

And you know, this is worth bringing up here, because I do pray about what I write. Yes, I want it to change people’s lives. And I might not be there yet, but someday I hope what I have to say will matter to someone.

I hope that one of my books will be like C. S. Lewis’s and Hannah Hurnard’s writing is to me. I hope that people will get caught up in it like I got caught up in the PErcy Jackson series. And won’t have regrets later about how I ended something. I hope people will be inspired like “Carry on Mr. Bowditch,” and “The Enchanted April,” inspired me.

I know that reading is now taking second place to movies and shows, but it will always be the better choice. Though it is the harder one. I myself find it easier to watch something that takes little effort and little imagination, then to read a book that requires both. Currently I’m reading Jane Eyre, and the language is a bit of a challenge even for me–and I read Shakespeare. (I promise it gets easier the more you do it.)

I notice folks are a lot more picky now aobut their stories. I blame the lack of imagination in movies for it. I don’t mean people who make movies aren’t imaginative (though some… you know what I mean.=,) I meant hat your brain really doesn’t have to fill in any of the blanks when it’s all right before your eyes.

A good movie is like a great view. It can be soaked up and inspiring, but it’s not going to challenge your mind in the same way thinking of a great scene will.

Words are as important to our mind as food is to our body. (That’s a paraphrase of what Miss Sullivan says in The Miracle Worker.)

Frankly, when books let you do some of the work yourself, they are treating you with respect. Authors are not concerned with showing us things, they are concerned with making us see. Different form movies.

Now, it’s fine to be shown things, but it will never give you the maturity learning how to see for yourself will.

For instance, my favorite movie showed me a lot of things about myself, but it was the book I read before watching it that had made me able to see those things.

It’s great when you can balance those things out, I hav enothing against drama. But only drama, only movies, only shows, that leaves you only with what youve ben told. Not what you’ve discovered.

This is the real problem I see with people my age, they believe what they’re told, but they don’t know how to figure out for themselves what something means. They think something can mean whatever they want.

The truth is, no good artist (of any sort) sets out to tell the world something ambiguous. There truly is a right way to understand them. In some cases, we know too little about the person to be sure, but in many others people choose to see different things in their work.

Which isn’t wrong, but it would be wrong to then say that’s what the artist meant.

Also, it’s better to take best things out of something than it is to take the worst out of it.

I can’t tell you how many times I talk to someone who seems to be a nice, intelligent person; and then I realize they beleive only what the culture aorund them had taught them.

If we exposed ourselves to more books, older books, ones not subject to our modern ideals, we would find very different points of view. And maybe if we didn’t jsut assume they were wrong right off, but actually opened our minds, we’d be shocked by how much sense they make.

I get that I’m old fashioned, but heck, who says that’s wrong?

The problem with being completely modern is that every age is prone to certain defects, certain wrong ideas, and if you allow yourself to be propelled along by what’s modern, new, popular, then you will be caught in the good and the bad of it. Human nature being what it is, you’ll probably more caught in the bad.

Like for instance, being bad, rebellious, a rule breaker is kind of nodded at in our culture, as you’ve no doubt noticed. I want to know who decided being selfish, rude, inconsiderate, and reckless was the new face of cool. (Oh Jane Austen, where have our Edwardian values gone!)

I respect the idea of being yourself to certain point. It’s healthy to be honest and unique. It’s not cool, however, to use that as an excuse for not being accountable for your behavior to other people.

Which, if we read more books, and were more open to them, we might realize. There used to be this thing called manners, and standards, and it used to be considered right to adhere to them.

The fact is, it does matter what you do. It does matter whether you are on the right or wrong side. And the world to lie to us, and say that you can be bad and still be making an impact for the greater good, why, that’s the most idiot idea ever heard!

No folks, it’s not the bad ones who are bringing anything refreshing to the table.

And that’s what books taught me.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: The Flash.

Oh yeah.

The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes, despite the many jokes about his name. (His alias is Wally West for those of you who don’t know.)

On the JLU, Flash could always be counted on to lighten the mood, and the mood often was pretty heavy.

On a show about alien invasions, bizarre mind control, diabolically clever bad guys, and unbelievably powerful supervillains, there really isn’t much to laugh about. The show was never corny enough for none of it to seem serious.

But Flash keeps everyone from taking themselves too seriously. Which is his obvious role: comic relief.

But what sets him apart is that he is not merely that. We all know the comic relief guy can be totally useless often enough, because, it’s funny. (Actually, I typically find that character annoying.  Ron Stoppable was the only one I laughed at, and that was after I got used to him.) But Flash isn’t, there are several episodes in which in the crunch, it all comes down to him.

And he’s arguably the least powerful. Since Batman’s gadgets probably out weigh Flash’s one superpower in terms of usefulness. But Flash is pretty resourceful when it comes to making the most of his speed.

He is after all, the fastest man alive.

And the only being faster than Superman that was ever officially shown. (Though that was on the Superman show. (Which is worth checking out, but avoid any episodes with magic in them because they were absolutely horrid.)

Here’s another interesting thing about him, he was also the only one of the team ever to overuse his power to the point where he actually burned himself out.

Unlike the other’s, Flash’s power is still tied to his normal human abilities. That is to say, he has to keep a lot of calories in his system because his metabolism burns them up so quickly when he runs. This means that, just like a normal human, he can expend his own strength. He does it one time on the show and it nearly kills him, but his friends save him. (By the way, that part of the episode never made sense to me.)

We never really find out whether or not Flash needs the League, in the same that Batman or Superman or Hawk Girl, or the Martian need it. He’s more like Diana and the Green Lantern in that he could probably be okay on his own, handling his own villains, and still have other friends and family. Flash is not dysfunctional.

In fact, he is also one of the only members who really has a life outside the League that isn’t just in his secret identity. As The Flash, he goes and visits kids in an orphanage, regularly. They love him. He’s not so infamous that his popularity ruins any personal good he can do as The Flash.

The funny thing is, we never see him as Wally West on the show, because we don’t need to see him that way to know he had a human life too, because Flash really never ceases to act like a normal person.

He’s not a genius, though I doubt he has only average intelligence. He’s not super skilled with weapons or gadgets; he doesn’t talk the talk; and he flirts with girls; Flash never acts like he’s someone special.

That’s why the rest of the League loves him, though they rarely admit it. In the Justice Lords episode, it’s even demonstrated that he’s the glue that holds them together. He’s also the one who busts them out when everyone else is unable to do anything because of their doubles. (The alternate Flash is dead, you see. It’s really sad.)

It’s interesting that the supposed death of Superman daunted the League, but the death of Flash twisted them. But not so surprising, since in Hereafter, it’s Flash who stops Diana from taking that road by reminding her it’s what Superman would have wanted.

It’s also Flash who is the first to completely forgive Hawk Girl after she betrays them, and the only one in my memory who never criticized her or even seemed angry.

One of my favorite Flash episodes was the Christmas one Comfort and Joy. In that one, Flash encounters the Humanite (a weird gorilla-shaped mutant with genius intelligence who talks with a deep silky voice.) Humanite is up to his usual no good stuff, when Flash makes an impromptu speech about Christmas, after his gift to the orphans got accidentally destroyed. Humanite is actually moved by this (though he still knocks Flash out for awhile just to get even) and repairs the toy and helps him deliver it to the kids. It’s really sweet, but better if you check it out for yourself.

Flash also shows compassion to another villain, who is really just a man who goes off his meds and does crazy things. Flash talks him into turning himself in with the promise that he’ll visit him. We don’t see him do it, but we know he’s going to.

Because as irresponsible and often immature as Flash seems. he is really neither. He cares about people.

Finally, there’s an episode I forget the name of, in which Batman and Orion follow Flash around for a day, and Orion just doesn’t get why Batman even puts up with Flash, and Batman just says sadly “No, you don’t.” Through the course of the day we see how Flash can be both annoying and really caring. And we wonder also why Batman actually seems to envy Flash in way.

Finally we get it. Batman may care about people, but it has never been his only reason for doing what he does. And he’s never been as able to open up to people as Flash is.

The truth is, what Batman acts like as Bruce Wayne, Flash actually is, effortlessly. Batman always feels that the Dark Knight part of him is there, preventing him from really being carefree and open; while Flash is always the same person, whatever mood he’s in and in whatever guise.

Batman may never go to Flash for life advice, or want to have him as a mission partner, but he still wishes he could be more like him. And I’m not sure we can say that of anyone else in the League, except possibly Superman.

Flash is humble too, and the least suspicious out of all of them. He’s also willing to go against them when he thinks it’s right, as in the episode featuring more of my favorite characters The Ties that Bind. In it Flash helps out Scott Free and Barda when they come to the League for help. (They’ve helped the League, so it was a fair trade.)

Actually, Flash is the only League member known to disagree with the Martian and get away with it in the end.

There’s only one bad Flash episode in the whole show, and he wasn’t the bad part of it. Actually, he was almost playing a Christian role. (I wonder if he is Christian. But even if not, it doesn’t take away anything from his character.)

So, that, in a nutshell, is The Flash. But check him out yourself for the full appreciation of how awesome he is.

Until Next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Batman, part two.

Yes, I know. Part two.

Since I already got into the Batman/Superman dynamic on the show, which I like a lot better than in that awful Dawn of Justice flick, I’ll move on to his other relationships.

I know Batman and relationships sounds like an oxymoron, but again, that’s what made this show great. The superheroes were really each other’s friends and family.

I want to talk more about the Batman/ Wonder Woman thing.

According to the directors of the show, it was practically non-existent, even in their minds; but boy did it work.

Like I said, the first thing in her favor is that she recognized him, but in that episode they work exclusively together, and it rocks. Not just because I ship them, but because they’re characters play off each other so perfectly.

And not for a comedic effect, but for my money, it’s even better when you can have two characters working together and it’s just fun to watch even if they aren’t being funny.

The main thing about this episode is actually about Wonder Woman and respect. you’ll never hear it in the episode itself, but it’s the one that really establishes Diana as someone who should be listened to.

At first she and Bruce aren’t exactly working together. He’s in Paris to investigate some suspicious activity (and to do some Bruce Wayne stuff also,) she’s just there to have fun. (Cue the dumb song.) But after Diana saves Princess Audrey and kicks the crud out of the guys attacking her (all while Bruce just sits back and enjoys the show; another important thing to note,) she decides to party with her as her personal body guard. After they become new best friends, Batman decides to drop in on Wonder Woman in her apartment. After a line or two of banter, he tells her that Audrey’s father is suspected of being involved in some shady business. (I’m really sorry that I can’t remember, but it’s been four years since I’ve seen the show.) Wonder Woman sticks up for Audrey, but agrees to ask her about it. Which she does, and Audrey tells her there’s no possible way her dad is involved. Wonder Woman excepts this, but then gets the shock of her life when Audrey introduces her to her fiance, Vandal savage.  Actually, his grandson who looks just like him. (But it really is the original.) To Diana’s credit, she is not entirely convinced it really is his grandson, but she also behaves pretty ungraciously, to Audrey’s annoyance. Bu they patch thing up quickly and Diana talks to Savage alone, making it clear she suspects him. (And she overhears part of a phone conversation also.) After this, Wonder Woman gets on the phone with Batman, and while they’re talking they hear a news bite that Audrey’s father has just had a serious–and convenient–stroke. Wonder Woman leaves immediately to warn Audrey, while Batman says “Meet you there.”

To make  a long story short, Wonder Woman gets creamed by a freaky guy with a conic blaster embedded into his vocal cords. (Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.) Batman finds her after she’s been knocked out and tells her Audrey is getting married. She recklessly decides to go crash the wedding, in the process breaking some law about intruding. Batman kind of smiles at her way of doing this, but then she gets herself captured, and gets Audrey really worked up by her accusations. Diana really starts to lose patience with her friend here, since Audrey refuses to listen to her, and thinks she’s a lunatic. Then acts like a spoiled brat.

Batman tries to call in help, but the only three members available have to go take down the space weapon Vandal Savage has set up that can destroy entire cities. (It’s not really that much like the Death Star.) So Batman decides he and Wonder Woman will have to fend for themselves. he proceeds to free her, she punches someone while he’s doing it. Then jumps in front of him to block bullets with her bracelets. The two of them proceed to storm the castle and ruin Savage’s plans. (I love the part where Batman runs up to him with a chair and says “You’re in my way” then pow!) They also free Audrey, who has since discovered the truth, not very cleverly I might add. (I like her and all, but she should have listened to Diana.)

The episode ends with Wonder Woman alluding to their dance, and Batman denying it because, secret identities; but she says “You’re still taking me dancing.”

And that’s the episode. There’s a lot more with them in it, and confession-ally, I watched all their episodes many, many times. (I was on the edge of 14 when I quit the show, okay.)

The reason these two work so well is because they are evenly matched. Diana keeps up with Bruce not by being as smart as him, analytically speaking, but by being intuitive. She’s not stupid either, but she definitely is more impulsive. But it generally works for her, and Bruce only seems to admire her for it. He once said that she was a remarkable woman, a devoted friend…and standing right behind him, wasn’t she?

To Diana, their relationship makes perfect sense, but Bruce would never commit to it.

He used the excuse that his enemies would get to him through her, and Diana pretty much just crushed some stone as if to say “Are you kidding me?”

he also thought he had too many issues.

Actually, it was kind of sweet in a way that he seemed to think she could do better, but she didn’t want to.

It’s funny, Batman seems pretty humble for a guy who has so many trust issues, and the truth is, he’s a mix of pride and humility.

He really doesn’t want to lose more people he care about, but he still allows himself to care, just not to show it. It’s like he’s really just afraid of them knowing he cares and thinking he’s vulnerable.

Diana understands this and defends him even when the others are kind of frustrated with his lack of communication. But we see that in his own way, Batman is trying to do his best by them. He just doesn’t like being on a team.

It grows on him though, first through working with Diana and coming to see her as an equal, then eventually with all the others too. That’s why I think he and Diana are so great together, because they make each other better.

I couldn’t say that for any of his other love interests (save in the new Lego Batman movie.)

I have got to end this now, but I’ll talk a little bit more about Bats when I get to Flash. Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: Batman

So, I’m finally getting to the big guy himself, aside from Superman. (But after Man of Steel, doesn’t Superman have a lot less fans anyway? Maybe I’m wrong.)

The JLU version of Batman is my favorite. Though I’ve watched the sixties Adam West show, and seen a few clips of the Dark Knight saga (ugh.)

But I think the show’s version of Batman was the best for a variety of reasons.

The first was that Batman had a more balanced personality, he was still too far on the dark side for my own taste, but he also had moments where he loosened up. The Bruce Wayne part of him was not totally absent from the Batman part.

And the brilliant reason behind this was that the other members of the League (the seven original ones I mean) knew who he was.  We see that Superman knew already, (which is explained in the show that was specifically about Superman from the same creators.) But what I loved was how the other characters found out.

We’re never told how Hawk Girl or Green Lantern knew, and the martian man-hunter either read his mind, or else just found out when Flash did. (In the middle of Starcrossed, it’s one of the funniest parts of that super serious episode.)

But we do see how Wonder Woman knew. It’s in that all time favorite episode Maid of Honor, early on. Diana and Bruce both happen to be in Paris, at the same party, which seems to be a complete coincidence. And Diana is getting harassed by a lot of fans…and the press it looks like (pause to acknowledge the sad fate of every superhero if they were real.) Then a handsome stranger steps in to ask her to dance and she jumps at the chance. What’s fun to watch is how through the ensuing conversation she’s slyly looking hard at his face and insinuating that they already know each other.And Bruce (of course it is him) isn’t really denying it. The golden part is that Diana actually doesn’t know his name, but you can tell she recognized the voice.

Can we all just applaud her for a moment? I can’t be the only one who gets annoyed when superheroes meet people they know and the person can’t even place their voice. I can recognize my family’s voices. (Though sometimes they sound so alike I get the wrong person, but I know it’s one of them.) And even if you allowed for the fact that some people just sound alike, the superheros are always dropping hints. Till you want to bang your head on a wall at the stupidity of the person they’re talking to.

Diana subverts that stupid cliche in one conversation! You can see why I like her now.

This is also one of the things that make me think she was the best match up to date for ol’ Batman. None of his other (and often evil) love interests have ever recognized him without his help.

There’s more heated debate about this than you would beleive, but I’m moving on.

So, why this whole secret identity thing is important is because it denotes some measure of trust. BAtman is always critisizd, even by the otehr characters, for one thing:Not trusting nayone.

Superman is actually pretty chill about it in the origin story episode, and explains to the martian, who says “A wise policy.” (I found that idiotic from a guy who could read minds and ought to know how important trust is to our psyche.) But Batman does trust the league, to an extent. I reviewed the JL movie Crisis on two earths several months ago (It’s in a series called “Earth crisis” if your’e interested) and at the end of that when Batman faces off with Owlman, Owlman ribs him for not trusting anyone else to do something, though, he confesses with a laugh, he feels the same way.

I disagree that Superman would have been the better choice in that situation, but the point remains that even if he were, Batman would probably not have trusted him.

And Batman says on the show to Diana “Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me, real hard.” But that was an early episode.

I really have to appreciate how Batman interacts with Superman even so. He’s about the only one who will tell Superman to get over it, and stand up to him. Which amazes people since he’d arguably the least powerful and Superman could crush him. But Superman wouldn’t. Though he does shove him aside pretty hard in the same episode I just referenced, and Batman doesn’t even  hesitate after that.

It’s clear to see that despite how often Superman and Batman disagree, Superman deeply respects him. And Batman admires Superman more than he will ever show. They’re relationship was pretty much summed up by a brief exchange after Superman came back from the future.

Wonder Woman: Don’t let him fool you. He’s just as glad to see you as the rest of us. (I apologize if I remembered her line wrong.)

Batman: No, I just never believed you were actually dead.

Superman: (nonchalantly) I…guess that’s a compliment.

There you have it. They get each other. Actually, it’s partly because of their friendship that I think the League is so good for Batman. He actually gets to help people who are more his equals and who won’t listen to everything he says because they all are just as used to calling the shots as he is. (Versus his relationship with Robin and Alfred and the other kids.)

You think I just mean the idea of it, but there is seriously a difference with how he acts.

He’s actually so complex I’ll have to split this part into two. Sorry, it’s character discussion after all.

Hope to see you then–Natasha.

Avatar

I’m breaking from my new series to catch up on my film reviews.

Also, I realized today that it is nearly the two-year anniversary of this blog. I’ve grown from two followers to forty one. This is pretty cool.

Anyway, to the review:

I am not talking about the show Avatar, I’ve never seen it. I’m talking about the movie that kind of went under the radar.  I remember first seeing commercials for it and thinking it looked cool. Blue aliens, they aren’t usually my thing, but it was an interesting concept.

And I finally got a chance to watch it.

The story is about a man named Jake Sully, who is an ex-marine, and has lost the use of his legs, but thanks to being a twin and having the same DNA of his dead brother, he is able to replace him in an experimental program that will use his soul and mind into the body of a human/alien being, and allow him to infiltrate their culture and find out how to get the valuable metal they have in their forest. Unobtainium. (That name was said with a straight face throughout the entire movie.)

Creepy sounding right? But once you get over the initial weirdness and your mind adjusts to the idea of a man being inside a large blue thing with a tail, it’s not so bad.

The character I found most intriguing, next to Jake, was Grace. A scientist on the project, who at first didn’t like him being there because she thought he was dumb. (Incidentally, Chris Pratt auditioned for Jake’s role, and Jake Sully is a lot like Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy. Apparently Pratt gets type cast.)

After a lot of in between events that fill us in more on these blues aliens (I can neither remember nor spell their actual name) Jake and his new body end up on their planet, Pandora, with a handful of other humans in avatar form. Jake has some run ins with the flora and fauna of this world, and one of the natives is going to shoot an arrow through him, but the seeds of their ancient tree stop her. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. This tree is like the Home Tree from Pixie Hollow, a source of power.

The native spares him, and then saves his life, making it plain that she thinks he’s an idiot, but he has s trog heart, and she’s not going to kill anyone the tree says to spare. Later she takes him to her people and he is trained by her to be one of them.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but this movie is really long, so I’ll go to the important part. After months of this, Jake begins to feel more conflicted about destroying these people. And Grace, who was in charge of a school for their children and ahs been allowed around them again, is also not for the idea of destroying their home and them. But their protests get them locked up. And after a lot of cat and mouse with them escaping and being caught again, Jake rallies all the tribes of the aliens against the humans. I’ll admit this was the most intense action I’ve seen in awhile.

Of course there is the obligatory scene where the blue people find out Jake was playing them and the girl he’s fallen in love with (and mated with…skip that scene) is furious with him and sends him packing. But as cliché as it is, the actors sold it really well, and made it more unique. Plus we never get that annoying scene where the hero is bellyaching about how they ruined everything and lost the girl, blah, blah, blah. Jake never wastes time.

In the end, the blue people win over the Earthlings, with the help of they’re planet’s god, Awah (Phonetic spelling,) who causes all the animals of the forest to help them, even the ones that would normally eat them. Jake gets to stay there, along with a few other people, and they use they’re mystical tree to make him permanently one of their kind.

The verdict:

I really recommend checking this movie out for yourself. It’s a lot like Atlantis, only with Milo Thatch replaced with an ex-marine. It’s also like Epic and Fern Gully. But the themes are more adult, and a lot more interesting and complex.

I knew Grace would change her mind about the people from the beginning, because she was learning about them the most and spending time with them, she had a more open mind, and more respect for their culture. Jake closed off to begin with, but you knew he’d change his mind too.

The bigger surprise was that a handful of the other humans also changed their minds, and sacrificed even their lives to help the people.

One of the most gripping lines is at the end, when Jake, in making his video log, reverses the terms, saying “The aliens went back to their planet, a few were selected to remain.” The aliens now being his own people.

The is movie is somewhat like Ender’s Game in plot device, but not in tone. I hated Ender’s Game and I didn’t like Ender. Jake on the other hand, I could at least root for. I felt sad for him, and his friends, and I could see clearly why the natives did not deserve what they got and how the whole project was bad to begin with and got worse as it went. You also see that the other humans had almost no respect for the natives, they thought of them as primitives, little better than animals, and that destroying them had no moral implications. The familiarity of such thinking was scary.

I don’t like movies that paint humans as the most evil, despicable race that there is. But I don’t think this movie would do that unless you chose to see it that way. Some of the humans are noble. It is more about how one race cannot dominate another in that way, and that it is not treason to join the opposite side if they are in the right. (Just like in the Hawk Girl post I just did.) It’s also about respecting life.

Even though the religion of the movie seems very Eastern, I found none of it to directly contradict my own faith. I actually thought Awah was a good representation of God in some ways. The rituals were weird, and I did skip some, but mostly it was fine.

Also, instead of the head of the tribe taking an instant disliking to Jake, the mother of it is the most just to him, and she is the one who frees him and Grace at the end, instead of the love interest. I thought that was cool.

This has been a very long review of a very long movie, so I’m signing off now.

Until next time–Natasha.100_2868