Tag Archives: marvel

Film Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

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I admitted in my review of Thor Ragnarok I refused to go and see this film in the cinema. It was a decision that rested fairly well with me, though it took a couple of weeks for people who know I’m an MCU fan to realise I was being deadly serious. There are a couple of reasons why I didn’t want to go.

Firstly, and this might be a controversial opinion, but I don’t like Spider-Man as a character. I don’t know what it was about the comics or the cartoons when I was a kid, but something turned me against Spider-man and I have never liked the character since. It wasn’t like I didn’t try again when I got older.

I watched the Toby Maguire films, and I liked the first one quite a lot. Looking back though I understand now it is because of William Defoe’s turn as the Green Goblin. After the first film I never found a better villain in that trilogy, so I didn’t really see them more than once or twice at most.

I have never even seen Andrew Garfield’s films, because I felt the re-boot was just a money making scheme. Sorry everyone who was by employed by this franchise and those who loved this films. Don’t take it personally, because it isn’t personal. I am a cynical person; it is an opinion formed against a corporate decision not against the creativity involved.

But I mention this lack of enthusiasm for Spider-Man for a reason. While a lot of people were very excited by Spider-man being brought into the MCU, and even my first reaction was, ‘oh wow cool’, my second reaction was, ‘oh Marvel have enough money now to buy back everything they sold years ago, so they can now make more money.’ (I did say cynic!). So my couple of reasons so far are very much I don’t like the character, and I don’t like the cynical way he is used to make money.

However it really didn’t help that he was introduced to the MCU via Captain America: Civil War, the film that just destroyed my obsession with the MCU. I’ve got massive problems with that film being used as a launch pad for both Spider-Man and Black Panther.

One of them I could have forgiven, and if it had only been Black Panther I would have forgiven them (because quite frankly we need more diversity in the MCU and quickly). But because it was both, I was left feeling that Captain America’s story got hi-jacked, so I obtained even more biased against Spider-Man.

So I didn’t go to the cinema to see it, but at some point I don’t really remember I did concede to watch it at home.

And I did watch it to the end of the film, even though I was given permission to skip out if I wasn’t enjoying it. But I didn’t for a very simple reason.

Tom Holland is brilliant as Spider-man.

I thought he was a bit annoying in Civil War, but in his own film (and irritating Happy which is just hilarious) I will hold up my hands and admit that as cynical as I am about Spider-man and why he has been added to the MCU, it does work really well.

And it does because someone who is believable as a teenager boy has finally been cast in the role. The fact Marvel decided to skip the origins story in the belief we might actually know it was an added bonus. They just allude to it briefly via Ned, who reacts exactly like a teenager boy would react to finding out his best friend is a superhero. As if it is the coolest thing in the world, and how can I help?

The other thing that makes the film work is the villain, who for once wasn’t disposed of at the end, and wasn’t some mega-maniac motivated by wanting to rule the world (Loki I am looking at you).

Michael Keaton’s character is just an ordinary family man who changed because the world changed after the events of the Avengers Assemble. He did so in order to provide for his family and became the Vulture as a result. While for the majority of the film he isn’t a very nice man, by the end he admits like I do that Tom Holland’s Spider-man is a decent young boy with his heart in the right place.

So yes, I am cynical, and I have explained why I am, but as much as I had reservations about Spider-Man Homecoming, it is a good film, and is better than the most recent films for better established characters like Captain America and Thor.

I even enjoyed watching it. I mean I didn’t have the mind-blowing experience I can remember feeling as a more enthusiastic fan of the MCU, but it is great. I might even be more open to going and seeing the next one at the cinema. (Dear beloved husband of mine: please note use of the word ‘might’!)

Essay: My Many Selves as a Geeky Fan

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I’ve been thinking a great deal in recent months about what it means to be a fan; bear with me, I think a lot, I write it all down, and I’m not averse to an unhappy ending. This essay is the story of who I have been all my life; I am a geek. I’m not just a geek, but that aspect of who I am has evolved over the years and is a large part of my life.

For the first time ever though I’ve evolved because of other fans and I’ve been hurt by that change. For you to understand my heartbreak you need to know the context that came before.

The Early Years

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I can remember being an obsessive person from a very young age. As a geek, it started with the Ewok cartoons, before I even knew about the Star Wars films. I was also into ‘Back to the Future’, something I have since identified as being one of my first real obsessions a one, unlike the Ewok cartoons, I am still captivated by.

I’ve always been relatively secure in my interests; if I had periods of trying to conform to ‘normal’ because of peer pressure then they were short lived. I know they did happen, and generally speaking they stopped because I was bored.

I was the kid that got called a geek, a nerd and a swot. When I was younger that hurt. Then, when I was about twelve and I turned around to someone shouting it at me with a simple reply; ‘And?”. They were confused; ‘So what if I’m a swot?”. It didn’t stop them from shouting it at me for a while, until they realised it didn’t bother me. They started shouting other things instead, but that’s different. I was sure of myself and my interests, and it stopped hurting.

This was before the internet and social media were all the rage; I spent my teen years having hushed conversations with friends about whether Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager was the best Star Trek Series (for which the answer is Deep Space Nine), or whether the Klingons, The Dominion or the Borg were the best villains (despite previous answer, The Borg, hands down). That was about as much interaction as I had with other people about geeky things; I talked with like-minded folks, who also had things like ‘swot’ shouted at them down the corridors.

And I never considered myself lonely; I had friends for other reasons. Being a geeky fan was an entirely different part of my life. It had more to do with my parents than with my peers.

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The first time I saw the Star Wars films was when they re-released the films in the cinema in 1997, branded as the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy. Like the generation when Star Wars was first released, I got to see it for the very first time in the cinema.

My parents introduced me to Star Trek. I can even remember being excited about the last few series of Deep Space Nine and Voyager broadcasting for the first time. It’s the same with Stargate SG-1, which I think we watched because of me and my love for the fact they combined science fiction with Ancient Egyptian mythology.

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And then there is J.R.R. Tolkien. I was never taken with ‘The Hobbit’, which I read as a child, so Tolkien was a bit of a mystery to me overall. All I knew was that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was one of the few books my dad would read again and again. I can remember seeing the trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring, and being intrigued by the fact my dad was excited by it. And then I saw the film for the first time. Wham! In the space of 178 minutes, I became a fully-fledged fantasy fan as well as a sci-fi geek.

It was my first evolution; it changed everything. I still didn’t like ‘The Hobbit’, but I devoured ‘The Lord of the Rings’, its appendices, and swiftly moved onto ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘The Unfinished Tales’. It made me take interest in Harry Potter. I discovered Trudi Canavan. The Chronicles of Narnia, which I had already loved as a kid, became even more important. As a writer now I write about magic, and it is all because of Tolkien and Peter Jackson.

It was also the beginning of my passion for special features; how it was made, how they did it, how the actors felt being part of the production. I read the movie guides and re-read the books again and again. It wasn’t just with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ I did this. It spread to other passions. I practically memorised the Star Trek Encyclopaedia by Michael and Denise Okuda as well.

Being a geek was something I did with trusted friends, my parents and in the privacy of my room where I could devour my interest, safe in the knowledge that no-one could stop me from enjoying myself. I didn’t know what it meant to be an introvert at the time, but knowing that now, explains a great deal about why I was a private geek. This continued on for many years.

Discovering Fan Fiction

Up until I was about sixteen the internet had nothing to do with my life as a geek. The geekiest thing I did on the computer was read the Encarta Encyclopaedia. Despite the internet becoming more popular, it was something the cool kids did.

Given they called me names in person and my books didn’t, I didn’t really gravitate towards using emails, MSN messenger or MySpace, because books were better. The first email I sent was when I started university in September 2006. I didn’t join Facebook until 2007 because my boyfriend (now my husband) persuaded me, and also set me up a personal email account at the same time.

Before then I hadn’t shown much interest; I can even remember the first time I accessed a website. It was at school, and one of the German teachers looked at me as if I was completely thick when she told us we needed to access a website and I said didn’t know how; conversation went like this.

“Miss it doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Type in the correct web address.”

“Yeah Miss, I’ve done that, but it isn’t coming up.” So I closed it down and started it up again because she thought it must have been the connection. She watched me type in the address again. I waited. “See Miss it isn’t working.” Then the look came.

“You need to press enter,” she said in an incredibly condescending tone.

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I said. I pressed enter; it worked.

“How did you not know that?”

“Never used the internet before Miss,” I answered. The look again; I got it from quite a few classmates as well.

Admittedly, I must have been about fifteen, this was 2003 and the internet wasn’t exactly in the flush of youth anymore. I think using the internet was expected to be a basic skill. Needless to say I try and watch my tone when people admit they can’t do basic things; if you’ve never been shown then, HOW are you supposed to know?

And now I had been shown, I still wasn’t interested.

It’s rather miraculous really that I ever discovered online Fan Fiction. I’m not even entirely sure why I found it. I think it was because I’d been writing Harry Potter fan fiction (from the Marauder Era, but my protagonist was a character I created, and J.K. Rowling’s characters were just there for me to practice with). When I discovered other people did this too, it never occurred to me to join them and publish my writing online.

I was taught that sharing online was a dangerous thing to do because there were nasty people on the internet. There still are and I’m still careful, and I think the re-definition of ‘troll’ is one of the best examples of how language can be re-purposed.

It was also because I had no desire to share my stories online. If I was going to be a writer, then I wanted my work to be in a book and printed on actual paper with ink. I still want that now. I dread to think what people would have thought of my writing, because reading it back it is terrible. But it was practice. I did however have a very short phase of reading other people’s fan fiction with great interest, but I was only ever interested in Harry Potter. I knew Lord of the Rings stuff existed, but I had no interest in it.

It was I guess my first introduction to what we now call shipping. As a fan of the Harry Potter books I always thought Harry and Hermione would end up together. I still think that, but I’ve always been of the opinion that J.K. Rowling as the writer had the right to do what she wanted with her story, and I accepted that. In Fan Fiction though I was drawn to Hermione and Severus Snape ending up together.

It is weird thinking about it now, but all I can assume attracted me to it was the fact that I related a great deal to Hermione as a teenager, in the same way I did to Matilda when I was even younger. They were both girls that loved books and were rather clever, and they were accepted as such; I say the shouting of ‘swot’ down the corridor stopped hurting. It would however have been nicer to not have to hear it at all.

And Snape was for me the perfect complex character. I didn’t quite know what he was really thinking or who he was really working for; he was a mystery and I loved him as an anti-hero. At this point Alan Rickman had also been cast, and I have a soft spot for him, because I loved him as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

I cried, several times, when I learnt he had died; I do that very rarely for celebrities, Natasha Richardson having been the previous instance. All I can assume is that I liked the combination of Hermione and Snape, because as a hormonal teen, it was a weird way of having a crush on an actor.  This phase lasted probably about three weeks as a deep obsession, before I got bored and it petered away, and I went back to how I had been before; private.

There is however a reason why I have mentioned it; it was my first foray into the idea that people explore stories outside of canon. I’ll come back to that.

The University Years

I consider being a student at University as my formative years. Because in university, I met more geeks, and being into geeky stuff at university isn’t uncool. I didn’t have to talk in a hushed voice about my opinions. People in university are a lot more grown up than school kids.

I also theorise that alcohol, partying, and the freedom to do whatever you wanted outside of parental constraints but within the law, changed most people that thought being a geek was a bad thing by teaching them a lesson. The lesson being that people are allowed to be whoever they want to be. All the geeks, nerds and swots actually had a head-start on the cool kids with that freedom, because we had been free being ourselves for a lot longer.

I went out in Newcastle on my first night as a student; I was out until 3am with a girl I didn’t know but who I had to now share a bathroom with. I was also utterly naïve to partying, and I hated every minute of it. I stayed sober, and somehow managed to get myself to my 9am introductory lecture in the morning. I was bleary eyed, but I paid attention enough to discover I could be a student representative, and thus started my interest in politics, but that’s another story.

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That night, rather than go out again I stayed in reading a new book I’d treated myself to with my student loan ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. It is the only time I have read the book, because the context I read it in is too important for me to consider going back to it just yet (this is how I still feel ten years later). I lost myself in its pages, rather than go out to ‘have fun’ just because I could. I already knew who I was as a person, and it was the sort of person who curls up with a good book rather than light up the ‘Toon’.

I did meet people at university though, including the man that is now my husband. I did it my way though, via social interaction that didn’t involve being hungover the next day. I was bruised, but that happens in Karate. I made friends on my history course, and through my hobby, and discovered commons interests with them. With my partner, we shared our interests by binge watching box sets, and talking about geeky stuff we loved as we got to know each other.

I was no longer a private geek; I had my partner and I had friends at university that were a lot more open to accepting me as being a geek. I was also becoming a great deal more certain about the fact that I want to be a writer. This lead me to the internet.

Social Media

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I have this blog, and it is the foundation stone for my platform as a writer. It links to Facebook and to Twitter. It linked to Google+ and being a good little social networker, I set myself up on Pinterest and Tumblr too; I was connected.

Google+ was the first to fall away due to it being mysterious. Pinterest never really worked for me and my blog. Tumblr just became somewhere else where I copied my WordPress posts to without much readership. It is only really on Facebook and Twitter that I’ve maintained my author platform.

Pinterest and Tumblr though become something else to me; they became the places I went to follow my geeky interests. I find crossovers amusing; there are some really great examples of fan art out there, and while I don’t participate myself I have been stunned by the creativity and dedication some people put into their passion.

I evolved again; I was no longer a private geek, I was a social media geek. I laughed alongside everyone else at the joke about the ‘basic’ girl being a bit frightened by fandoms.

I began to identify as being part of fandoms. I connected with other like-minded people. It became something that I would share with my partner; I’d even share content on Facebook with my non-geek friends as a demonstration of who I am as a person. I would laugh at, like, re-blog, pin, and tweet about things geeky that I loved. While my platform was still there for writing, it also became the online extension of the geeky part of my personality.

I was no longer a private geek, and when on this very blog I started to write reviews, I deliberately developed sections dedicated to certain fandoms. I doubt that I am alone in having done this, and I would very much correlate this rise in geeks creating content for the internet with the rise in franchises. Because why not? Fan content is free marketing. Why create something new, when what you can do instead is simply add to an existing franchise with a fandom that will go on to passionately share their fan-art and memes. Many will even go on to write fan-fiction.

This is who I became. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t admired everything that I’ve seen over the years with wide-eyed naivety. There are things that don’t amuse me, there are fandoms that I’m not a part of, and I don’t always agree with everything shared on the internet.

I am also just not that into shipping; the foray into Harry Potter fan fiction was brief. I also very briefly developed in interest in Reylo because of one sketch by a fan. I read one fan fiction dedicated to Kylux. Then people started shipping Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, and alarm bells went off in my head. I stopped paying attention to shipping and went back a step to crossovers, memes and great art work.

To be honest, I ashamed that I didn’t see what happened next coming from a mile off.

‘The Final Problem’

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Needless to say I no longer laugh at the joke about the ‘basic’ girl being a bit frightened by fandoms. Whether she was ever real or not, the joke was real and that girl saw something I didn’t. She saw the obsession of some fans and was frightened by how intensely protective they are their interest.

I’m not frightened; I am really disappointed.

As you can see from my essay, I have evolved as a fan over the years. I was the little girl pouring over books, and watching the television with my parents. I dipped my toe here or there into the internet, before becoming a confident half of a partnership not scared to be geeky together. And then I became the social media geek.

Over the years, what I have liked has changed. I mentioned ‘Matilda’ before; I was a massive Roald Dahl fan. That faded for years until I recently read ‘Love from Boy’.

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I am still a massive fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Silmarillion’, and I also like ‘The Hobbit’ films, despite the fact I dislike the book.

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I have had a love/hate relationship with the MCU for years; I hate Tony Stark, but ‘The Winter Soldier’ made me fall into love with the rest of the MCU. Now though I’m a bit ‘meh’ about it because I’ve got bored.

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I’ve also figured out why I’ve struggled to connect to Doctor Who in recent years because of the cancellation of Doctor Who Confidential which satisfied my love of knowing how it was made.

And there are many more; I am a Browncoat; I find joy in Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus books. There are standalone books like ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ that have wormed their way into my heart. I’ve never blogged about Harry Potter, but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them re-sparked inspiration for my own writing.

I blog reviews and I talk about my passions a lot. However, except from having the odd discussion on WordPress with other bloggers, all of which have been pleasant even if we haven’t always agreed, I was only ever really an observer of internet fandoms.

I’m really struggling to be that anymore. Every time I go on Tumblr now I leave it feeling low. I’ve pretty much stopped because instead of cheering me up and being a place of refuge it has become a place where I only find hatred. If it was not for the fact I go on Tumblr to also read about Feminism, LBGTQIA and INTJ, I might have already followed through with my deleting my account entirely.  I’ve retreated on Pinterest; I haven’t deleted my ‘Geek!’ board but it is now a private place just for me and my husband.

I want to be a private geek again; someone who talks with like-minded people in person. The appeal of being part of a fandom died a sudden death and it utterly broke my heart. There have been actual tears because I loved going on the internet and seeing that I was not alone as a geek. I even tweeted this not long ago before I’d come to fully realise and process all of my recent feelings.

Like I said I wasn’t lonely as a geeky child, but there were fewer of us. Before the internet I hadn’t really been able to discover the true richness of being able to share your passions with other people. I was able to become that person over time and through the development of technology that put other people in the palm of my hand wherever I was, provided I had enough battery and a decent 4G signal. Pulling back from what I had become hurts.

It hurts all the more, because it isn’t what I love that’s changed and changed me like it had been before. Other fans crossing the line has forced this transformation.

I have been disappointed over the years by things I love. I don’t like ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ all that much, either the book or the film. I don’t hate J.K. Rowling because of it though. I was deeply disappointed by ‘Civil War’; I don’t hate the creators of the MCU though. I don’t dislike Tolkien just because I’ve never liked ‘The Hobbit’. I might never forgive the BBC for cancelling Doctor Who Confidential, or Fox for cancelling Firefly; I don’t hate the people who made that decision though.

And I might not have been thrilled with ‘The Final Problem’ the last episode in the fourth series of Sherlock, but I mostly certainly don’t hate Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss because of it. I certainly don’t send threating tweets or blog on Tumblr about how the creators are now not allowed to identify themselves as being who they are because people disliked what they didn’t do in Sherlock. I don’t lash out angrily at other fans because they are fans of Sherlock in a different way, and didn’t have the same hate-fuelled reaction to the episode. I don’t believe my opinion is the only one that matters and anyone else is wrong, which therefore justifies bullying.

I have never hated a writer because they did something I disliked. I’ve been disappointed, and fine yes the first time I watched ‘The Final Problem’ I was a bit bored. I wasn’t the second time though and while it will never be one of my favourite episodes it is still better than most television I’ve ever watched. In fact I would credit Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss with sparking off a bit of a television revolution. I doubt clever shows that don’t dumb it down for their audience such as ‘The Man in the High Castle’ or ‘Westworld’ would exist if the foundation of modern clever television that started with Sherlock hadn’t been laid.

I will never agree with the reasons people are justifying those actions ; the creators are human beings and that in itself is enough for me to be respectful. I reserve hatred for rare examples of human beings who are actively making the very real lives of human beings miserable. I’d never hate someone because of something fictional.

The fact people are acting like this has actually made me ashamed of being a geek, something I have never felt in my life.

I shed tears when I first saw Gandalf fall in Moria; I still cry when Dumbledore dies; I struggle to watch John Watson talking to Sherlock’s grave; and the ending to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress chokes me up just thinking about it. I’ve been moved to tears many times over the years because of the books, films and televisions shows that I have let into my heart.

I never thought I’d ever cry because another fan had hurt me, but I have, and those tears have been the most painful, because they came from the very last sort of people I ever thought; the sort of people who like me probably got called a ‘swot’ or a ‘geek’ or a ‘nerd’ when it was meant as an insult rather than as a way of identifying ourselves.

Moving forward…

I detest the word fandom now; I’m seriously contemplating editing my entire blog to remove the word. If it does disappear then you know I did.

I’m in two minds about keeping my Tumblr account, and I doubt my ‘Geek!’ board will ever re-emerge as a public board on Pinterest. I’ve stopped reading the comment threads on twitter, especially on anything Mark Gatiss tweets. I’ve followed him for years, for various reasons and loved reading the commentary because many of his fans are witty and respectful. Now, I always find one that isn’t.

I don’t want to be associated with that backlash. I don’t want to be thought of as a member of any fandom, because for me the word has come to be associated with being part of the ownership of what has been created. Rather than the writer being the owner, the audience is instead, which is a very postmodernism viewpoint and I dislike postmodernism for many reasons.

Fan Fiction in the days when I developed an interest in Snape/Hermione was a bit of fun. I should have known when people started shipping Daisy and Adam, rather than Rey and Kylo that the lines between reality and fiction, canon and fan fiction have become blurred. For some people I don’t even think they exist at all.

And I think it is going to take me a long time to come to terms with the disappointment I felt when fans of Sherlock lashed out in hatred.

For now I’m just pottering along; I’m still going to blog, because I’m not going to silence my voice because I’ve been disappointed by what others have said with theirs. I’m using twitter to tweet some geeky stuff, because I’m not going to deny part of myself because other fans have made me feel ashamed.

But the most recent evolution of myself as a geek has shaken me to the very core and I’m not going to get over that easily. I also don’t see this evolution of myself as a geek being able to move forward with the sort of positive progress I have made over the years; I can’t ever go backwards, but I don’t see forwards as being an option either.

I’m stuck as a geek who can no longer entirely trust other geeks to have my back even if we have a different opinion. We didn’t all hush our voices because we were ashamed of being who we are, some of us just weren’t as confident about being a geek as others. We whispered to save those that were a bit embarrassed from being overheard by our bullies.

I never thought the geeks would become like the bullies. Maybe I am just a bit more wide-eyed and naïve than I had thought.

Film Review – Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

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I have ignored the hype about this film; I watched the trailers only a couple of times, and just generally avoided getting excited about the film. I’ve been using my tried and tested method of going into the cinema with low expectations (it worked remarkably well for Assassin’s Creed), and given I’ve not been impressed of late with the MCU, I wanted to try and leave the cinema without having been disappointed.

Well I sort of succeeded, but I have had it confirmed for me that the MCU has indeed lost its power over me, because not even a Guardians of the Galaxy film could get me excited. I still absolutely love the first film; I think after the awful Civil War film, the Guardians of the Galaxy have supplanted Captain America and become my favourites from within the MCU, but the second film is just not as good as the first.

Sadly though I knew this was going to be the case before I saw it. The first film was a fresh slap in the face, and of all the protagonists within the MCU I feel like Peter Quill is the most relatable. However, because it was so fresh and new, I knew the second film could never be as good.

The thing is I don’t think it is a bad film, I’m just not in any rush to go and see it again. Gone are the days when I would be leaving the cinema and buying tickets for a showing the next evening so I could see it again as soon as possible. Genuinely I don’t think I’ll see this film again until the dvd release.

It is certainly spectacular, and the settings wonderfully created. The plot of the film was even paced, though I would argue it doesn’t really have a defining moment where your heart ends up in your throat. That might be because I’m not easily stirred when emotional moments are a bit predictable (and seriously they seeded the final scenes right at the beginning of the film, so if you know what you are looking for when it comes to foreshadowing, then you know where its going to end up).

The characters as well all reacted as expected to the plot of the film, and they all have a lovely development within the film. Baby Groot completely steals the show; hands down the best thing about the film. Completely adorable.

It is a brilliant film, and I’ve sure over time I will grow to love it, but if you’ve sensed a distinct lack of enthusiasm from this review, then you’d be right. By all means go and watch it; I strongly suspect you will love it a lot more than I do. But now having seen it, it has confirmed for me that my love affair with the MCU is well and truly over.

 

Film Review – Doctor Strange

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Anyone who has read my review of Civil War and also my post on Marvel Revisited will know that I’m no longer the biggest fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – I’ve always been pretty honest about my opinion on Tony Stark, but now I’m more than willing to just be opening critical and rather bored.

I properly slammed Marvel for being so blatant about the reveal of the infinity stone in this film on revisiting my thoughts on the MCU. Also given that this film and its protagonist is remarkably similar to Tony Stark, you might be rather surprised to learn that despite the fact I’ve been rather apathetic in getting around to blogging a review of this film, I do actually like it.

Doctor Strange has a few things going for it that made me want to see the film again recently when it got released on DVD. It is has magic, time travel and a great cast.

I’ll start on the most controversial of those:the cast. I’ll start by saying I don’t know the comics, nor was I expecting an Asian male actor to be cast as the Ancient One. I fully support the controversy surrounding the whitewashing that took place in ‘Ghost in the Shell’, a film I have no intention seeing for the very reason that there is literally no excuse for why an Asian actress couldn’t be cast. If the industry wants Scarlett Johansson in an action film, then three words: Black Widow film.

I will admit though I had no clue about the controversy about the casting of Tilda Swinton until after I’d already been to the cinema. I knew she had been cast and after falling in love with her as an actress in ‘Only Lovers Left Alive‘, I will hold my hands up and admit she was one of the reasons I went to see the film.

Whitewashing in Hollywood is definitely an issue that needs to be stopped: the only defense Doctor Strange has for having done it is because in the film they redefined the characters origins as Celtic, and they did have a strong female role, instead of just another male character, in industry equally as guilty of sexism. Not a great reason, but there are worse ones out there.

That aside, the rest of the cast was utterly brilliant, even if the Marvel formula doesn’t really stretch actors too much, I really loved the ensemble. I mean Benedict Cumberbatch had a bit of a dodgy accent, but it was consistently dodgy rather than a one that went all over the place.

The real reason though that I like the film is pretty simple – magic and time travel, specifically time loops. I am a fantasy geek, and I write about magic. I am also a science fiction nerd, and I’m particularly fond of time loops.

Honestly, this is a pretty basic reason to like a film, but I have found of late that if I think too much about Marvel films I end up being critical, perhaps overly so, as I tend to be like that when I get bored and there is no doubting that as a franchise overall, I’m bored.

However I love magic and time loops, and how they visualised that is pretty stunning in an slight rip off of Inception but trapped in a kaleidoscope sort of way, but I left the cinema buzzing and I would recommend the film as it is good fun.

Film Review – Captain America: Civil War

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I will admit this review is more than a little bit overdue. The main reason being is that I had been so excited about this film when it came out in the cinema, that when I left disappointed that I had been so bored, annoyed and angry about the film, I didn’t feel like writing a review. I didn’t want to think about, so I just moved on.

Naturally of course when it came to doing a Marvel Movie marathon over the festive holidays, I couldn’t just ignore the film, so I watched it again, and I desperately tried to be objective. I really just can’t be. I hate this film, for a singular reason.

It is not a Captain America film – it is an Avenger’s film marketed as a Captain America film, where Captain America doesn’t even get to be his own protagonist – he has to share the role with Tony Stark, who is my least favourite Marvel character to start with, and also be the launch platform for Spiderman and Black Panther. Seriously, I’m surprised a kitchen sink wasn’t thrown in the battle in the airport, because Marvel literally threw everything else into this film. I half expected Mjolnir to shoot past the battle scene at one point.

Fine the plot made sense, the characters didn’t really do anything that was out of character, and you can’t deny that it is a decent film. It has its highlights when Bucky and Falcon snipe at each other, but other than, nah, not for me.

None of that stops me from being bored while I watch it; frustrated while the heroes fight each other but don’t actually mean it the majority of the time (unlike Superman and Batman who were at least having a proper go at each other for all of two minutes); and angry that the sequel to The Winter Soldier (which got me hooked onto the films in the first place) is actually a sequel to Age of Ultron. UGH!!!!

If you’re a fan of the MCU then yes it is a must see film, however literally the only consequences of the film is that Captain America and Tony Stark now only talk via voice over letters (vast improvement on the bickering really, and you only hear Steve’s voice), and the Black Panther is actually a decent character, whose film has potential. Other than that, despite having a bit of a scrap the characters didn’t really have a Civil War, and its proved that Accords or not, you can’t imprison those that step out of line because even without his shield Captain America’s able to break them out.

Pointless film.

Marvel Revisited

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One of the things I have done on my blog is write about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I reviewed the films and wrote about my love of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as part of the grand plan I had for my blog in 2016.

Having spent a good chunk of my festive holiday re-watching the films in a marathon, I thought it was a good time to actually re-visit what I used to think about the MCU. My original post on the MCU was honest and full of a great deal of hope.

I was honest about disliking Tony Stark, and I had a great deal of hope about the future of the MCU. However, people change – my grand plan for 2016 was based on being really excited about the films of major franchises.

Most unfortunately one of the recent conclusions I have made about franchises, affects the MCU the worst. One of the things I loved most about the MCU was the Infinity Stone story arc. I had felt that the complex and interconnected universe of films was finally beginning to pay off.

However, while I’ve not reviewed them yet the additions to the MCU from 2016, including Civil War and Doctor Strange haven’t propelled my excitement for the MCU into new heights – when I wrote that I was excited, it was because I was genuinely excited. I was excited going into the cinema to see the films for the first time. I came out of Doctor Strange still buzzing (less so with Civil War), but I did do with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

And it was very much to do with the slightly clunky, probably not needed, reveal of the fifth infinity stone in Doctor Strange. I felt insulted that its reveal was for the ‘audience’, as if somehow if it had simply been mentioned that it was an ancient and powerful relic from before the universe, the audience wouldn’t make the connection. UGH!!! Why would the term of ‘infinity stone’ be universally known? Why did the connection to the MCU need to be made so darn clearly, as if it’s audience was clearly stupid and needed the addition buzz of the wider universe arc to make them love the film even more?

Let me answer those questions – the term wouldn’t be universal, the stones would probably have different names in different cultures, across the world and the universe, you know because people are actually diverse. Oh and Marvel, your audience isn’t stupid – we have invested a lot of time into loving the MCU, we would have figured out that Strange’s power over time was caused by an infinity stone. It might have even been a nice reveal for a later film, like Loki’s Sceptre was from one Avengers film to the other. Just a thought Marvel.

As much as the MCU is something that I enjoyed, its time as one of my favourite things is coming swiftly to an end. I will see it out until the end of the Infinity Stone arc, purely because I do want to know what happens, but I’m currently doubting it’s ability to hold my attention beyond that – someone bringing Agent Carter back to my small screen is the only thing I’d really pay attention to if it happens after the film universe has lost my attention.

There are two reasons for this change of heart – one being that having watched all of the films in sequence in the last couple of days, the initial excitement I felt just isn’t there anymore. There isn’t enough complexity in the MCU as I find in other franchises to keep me wanting to go back to them again and again.

The other reason is a one I’ve figured out in recent weeks when I’ve been thinking more about Star Wars and Fantastic Beasts – the MCU, (and X-men and DC as well) don’t inspire me. I haven’t come out of an MCU marathon inspired by the characters, plots and story-world to go out into the world and produce my own characters, plots and story-world.

I’m actually kind of left a bit empty really, probably because the original source material (comic books) just doesn’t float my boat. I’ve been writing a lot recently about my own writing and re-discovering what inspires me, and I came to a pretty harsh conclusion – superhero franchises based on comic books don’t inspire me as a creative person. I had been drawn in with ease into the hype of a massive cinematic universe and I have been left empty of my own creativity because of the ease in which these characters and stories be can be told and then forgotten.

I feel as if I had disposed of my creativity’s needs with the same ease that Marvel uses to dispose of its villains.

So in revisiting the films, while the MCU certainly will always have a place in my heart, and I’ll made trips to the cinema at least for the coming couple of years as the Infinity Story is wrapped up, the shiny gleam that MCU used to offer me has dulled quite a bit.

Also, I will admit Tony Stark is not as bad as I used to believe – he had been outshone by Thor and Captain America, but in truth he’s gone up a little in my estimations and they have come down a bit, so they are all on a level playing field now.

Still love Loki though – that will probably never change.

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TV Review: Agent Carter – Season 2

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It took me a while to connect to the second season of Agent Carter, certainly longer than it did with season one, but the show is still utterly brilliant, and the storyline in season two is even better than the first season.

I think the reason it took me a bit longer to connect to what they were doing in season two has to do with the fact that the creators no longer needed to prove to the audience that a woman is able to be multi-dimensional and a capable character, while also being the lead. Throughout all of season one it was all about proving that Peggy Carter is deserving of the job she has earned and being respected as a capable woman.

The creators have toned that down for the second season, because that no longer needs to be proved, it has been established, and it is toning down that makes the second season so brilliant. It doesn’t need to be pointed out that Peggy Carter is a capable, because the show has established that this is perfectly normal. They have made having a ‘strong female’ character normal.

Someone please pat them on the back, and don’t whatever you do ask them why they wrote a ‘strong female character’, because I will throw a Joss Whedon quote at you.

Go on I will anyway but I’ll make it small.

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The second season of Agent Carter is a fab romp through LA, starting with a lake freezing over, and ending with a very satisfying development. It is fun, funny and as fabulous as Agent Carter herself.