Thursday, 16 April 2015

So Fetch Friday: Revenge of the IMDB Trolls

Well, I'm almost done with my exams now. It's been a bit rough but I think I'm making some decent progress on my take-home exam, which just leaves the one that I have on Wednesday. I'm doing what I can for it and hopefully it will be enough. We'll see what happens. Otherwise, I've mostly been watching action films this week in the spare time that I've had. No surprise there. My insane addiction to action cinema is the main reason why I've tried to run an event in which I'd try to watch anything but action films. It's not that there's anything wrong with action movies, it's just that I seem to be watching far too many of them. Speaking of action films, there were a couple of new ones that I saw.

I did something that with hindsight may have been a bit stupid. I was browsing Netflix and found of all things that Battleship was available. I had pretty low expectations. When I first heard they were making a film out of a board game on the IMDB message boards, I tried to stay optimistic but in the end I quickly realized how silly this was going to get. When I found it on Netflix I thought I'd perhaps try watching it and see if it was really as bad as I had been lead to think. Apparently "better than Rambo: First Blood Part II" was too high a standard for this one. I couldn't get through more than half an hour in, and during that time I kept asking myself why I was watching this thing. I guess I'd hoped it would at least be entertainingly bad, but it wasn't even that. I suppose if you can make some robot friends out of your Blu-ray player who can help you riff the movie you might stand a chance, but otherwise it's not worth your time.

I mean, this is a movie that literally begins with the main character breaking into a convenience store to steal a single chicken burrito for some girl he just met at a bar in the middle of the night. This guy does such a horrendous job of it that he ends up being chased by the cops and tasered for all his trouble, and from what I saw this was also supposed to be the main character... you know, the guy we're supposed to relate to and be rooting for. The most insane part is that this whole affair somehow manages to win him the girl's hand in marriage. What kind of sane person would want to get romantically involved with someone who was so obsessed with having sex that they would go to ridiculous lengths to steal a chicken burrito? Yes, she said she wanted one, and that particular bar couldn't accommodate her, but there probably were other ways she could have obtained one legally on her own. Also, this is actually the first ten minutes of a movie called Battleship, and there was not so much as a single boat anywhere to be seen.

I also finally saw Faster, but I'm not sure it was really all that good a film. I won't say it was awful. It was definitely better than Battleship, and it did have some good ideas. The story worked enough to keep me going but ultimately I felt like it didn't really work to its full potential. For one thing, I'm not entirely convinced that the stylistic choice of keeping the central cast unnamed was the best choice. I think I can sort of see why they might have done that with The Rock's character, but the three central characters that we're supposed to be concerned with are literally named "Driver", "Killer", and "Cop".

Also, even more annoyingly, a lot of the best characters were in the supporting cast and not given much focus. Cicero was alright for the most part, at least until the end when she suddenly figures out her partner is corrupt and suppresses evidence against him for absolutely no good reason. Then there was also Lily, who seemed really promising with the whole sub-plot about "Killer" (seriously, give him a name) turning her into an action girl and more than just a criminal's attractive girlfiend. It looked like it had potential to go in some interesting directions but nothing ever comes of it. I guess I'll give credit that I didn't see the twist at the end coming, but it was also fairly obvious that "Cop" was going to die when he kept rambling about how he was going to retire in a few days.

One pleasant surprise I did experience, though, was The Big Year. In theory, this looks like it should be a disaster waiting to happen, especially when you put together Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Funnily enough, it actually kinda worked in ways I wouldn't have expected. Even Jack Black was okay, and Steve Martin was a nice touch. I also liked the love interest, a bird-obsessed girl who could do perfect imitations of various bird calls. Actually, being quite fond of birds myself, I could relate to The Big Year. I don't think I'd go to quite the extremes that these people do but I do like seeing the birds. I get excited just seeing a gold finch or sparrow in the front yard. There were some beautiful birds shown here, quite the variety.

Also, the idiots from IMDB are back! It looks like they're not even trying anymore. This one user by the name of benman46 posted this in response to my thread on Black Sea"Is this a serious question? That is the most laughingly stupid comment I've read for some time." Oh yeah, because how dare I call out a film on having an all-male cast when there was no reason for it and then use that as an example to encourage better representations of women from other filmmakers. Also, there seems to have been a brief discussion going on in the same thread by a couple other users that shows just how backwards-thinking some viewers are:

central_p: On a boat with 12 men who are killing each other, the primary role of a female would be to be gang raped! Great thinking!
joekiddlouischama: Actually, that prospect could have added suspense. Likewise, maybe have two of the men competing for the woman ...
Tuosma: Cheap suspense.

Why is it so difficult for people to grasp the simple fact that the presence of a female character in a film does not mean that a love story automatically has to be present? It seems just about everyone who has replied to my comment seems to be under the ridiculous assumption that a female lead in this film would have to be a love interest, and there's no reason for that to be the case. Why couldn't there be a female lead who is doing just as much back-stabbing or double-crossing as the men? There doesn't have to be a romance. There doesn't even have to be any sexual component at all. Why is that such a difficult idea to understand.

Of course it gets worse, because this guy benman46 also posted in response to me calling out a blatant mock thread: "Serves you right for making such ludicrous statements yourself." Why is it so hard for people to grasp the significance of questioning these things? They keep talking about how there are "plenty" of movies with "women in them", and every time that comes up I can't help but think "which movies are you talking about?" These people can't seem to wrap their mind around the fact that these gender inequalities in film are very real and need to be addressed. It's absurd, and the obvious solution is to stop making these posts but I also think it's necessary to raise these points. It's important to call out these films for their poor casting choices to draw attention to inequalities.

That's not even getting into the people who like to accuse me of "interfering with the artist's vision" or who try to justify these movies' choices by making easily debunked arguments claiming that men are physically stronger than women. Then of course there's also the people who have identified me as a "Feminazi", because as we all know from history the Nazis were extremely supportive of feminism. That's why there were so many high-ranking female Nazi officers like... yeah, no. The comparison really doesn't work.

I haven't had much time for my usual shows, but there is one good thing that happened: Game of Thrones is back! Finally we get to learn what happens next in this exciting saga... sort of. The first episode was mostly just picking up where everyone left off. Naturally, they decided to put the two most popular characters on the show (Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen) together, and I suspect their alliance will be interesting to see in action. Brienne of Tarth seems a bit lost right now, since she can't seem to swear loyalty to someone without them getting unexpectedly killed off. Now she's stuck with Podrick in the middle of nowhere with no idea of what she is supposed to be doing.

I'm curious about what's going to happen with Arya. Last we saw she was on a boat heading for the wall, so does that mean she's going to be reunited with Jon Snow? By this point he's pretty much the only family she has left (well, there is still Bran, but he's kinda out of reach of anybody at this point; and she just missed being reunited with Sansa). Meanwhile up at the wall, Stannis has declared himself the new "King of the North", and he also tried to have Mance burned alive. Not a pleasant fate for Mance, but it almost seemed like the smart option would have been to surrender to Stannis and avoid risking the genocide of his people.

I'm not sure what this means for the other Wildlings, but it looks like Jon Snow's not entirely ready to accept Stannis as his new king. To be fair, It's not hard to see why. From what we've seen so far, Stannis's reign would probably only be slightly better than Joffrey's. It would be better in the sense that Stannis would actually have some idea of what he's doing and the responsibilities of being a king instead of simply abusing his power for his own pleasure. He'd also have to earn his position instead of simply inheriting it by circumstance. On the other hand, knowing Stannis he would probably be a tyrant in many ways, even if he technically has a legitimate claim to the Throne. Really, Daenerys is the only one actually qualified to rule a kingdom on the grounds that she is the one person who actually gives a crap about the well-being of her subjects and is able to think in terms of what is best for them over her own desires. There's a good question for you to think about. If you lived in Westeros, who would you want to sit on the Iron Throne? Who do you think is the person best fit to rule a kingdom like this?

On the bright side, I seem to be getting back into shape. I've found a few more topics to discuss in the past few days and I finally managed to finish that article I started about what makes a strong female lead. It's been extremely well-received too, which is good. Now I just need to start figuring out what I'm going to do for all the blogathons I've encountered. There's so many I'm not sure where to begin, and of course I'm still waiting for entries to my own. I've invited a number of people already and several have expressed interest so it should only be a matter of time before I get my first entry, or at least the first entry besides my own.

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  1. Thank you for the link but your opinion of Stannis is so misguided it was actually painful to read. I thought the show fixed the wrapped view of Stannis some of the audience had with last season finale, but apparently it's not enough.

    1. That's funny. I don't remember him doing anything particularly redeeming in the Season 4 finale. He took over the North, declared himself king, forced the Wildlings into subjugation and has hinted that he is willing to resort to genocide if they refuse to serve him. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but thoughts like these are why I raised the question in my post.

    2. You forgetting him rescuing the entire realm from Wildling threat which would go through Westeros pillaging and raping if it wasn't stopped.

      And he is the King, no need for him to declare himself one.

    3. Technically, that last point is somewhat debatable seeing as the only person who was officially crowned King is dead. Technically, one could argue that Daenerys is the real Queen on the grounds that she belongs to the original Royal Family.

      I guess it didn't occur to me that Stannis had managed to bring a stop to the Wildling threat (if perhaps not in the most ethical way possible). I guess he did do that. If the remaining Wildlings agree to serve him that would technically bring peace as well, though we'll have to see about how that goes.

  2. I've very much for better female representation in the cinema, I tire of the nagging wife/girlfriend character and husband married to the job sub plots in police/detective movies, and will automatically knock a point if I see it.

    However, I feel that Black Sea does perhaps have legitimate reasons for a lack of female presence. The ban on female submariners in the Royal Navy was lifted in 2011, the first female submariners ever in the 110 year history of submariners were only hired in May 2014 (here's a link -

    In the film, Jude Law's captain Robinson was looking for experience, and its very unlikely that a female would have the experience that would match Robinson's demand. Also Robinson hired co-workers, who would all be male.

    However, you could argue the one character (possibly even two characters actually) without sub experience (Tobin the guy from Liverpool and Scoot Mcnairy's character) could have been females. So, perhaps a female could have been on the sub, replacing Scoot Mcnairy because I feel Tobin being male had relevance to the plot. So...maybe I can see your point.

    1. When you say "Royal Navy" I presume you mean the British Navy right? From what I understand, different countries actually have had different attitudes toward women on submarines. For one thing up here in Canada we've opened up just about every military branch you can name to women (or at least, I'm not aware of any that still impose gender restrictions), which includes infantry and submarine warfare. I think Norway also allows women on submarines. Then again, I guess you can argue there might be reasons why the characters in Black Sea don't necessarily go for Canadians or Norwegians.

    2. Yes, I was referring specifically to the British Navy where the change was made absurdly late in comparison to other Western countries such as most of the Scandinavia and Canada.

      They had to keep their expedition on the down low (don't want loads of people finding out about a stash of gold, do you?) so they kept it within a group of people they trust (and some Russians because it's a Russian sub).

  3. Thank you John! I feel like Battleship is one movie that I'll be forever grateful for not forcing myself or my family to watch. It's a shame that such a great board game classic couldn't get a really good adaptation, and I wonder how much of its failure blocked the way for other based-on-games movies.

    1. I think the problem with board games being adapted to film is that they don't really lend themselves to compelling stories. Generally if there is a "story" of any kind in a board game it's often just background information. Video game movies are known to have similar problems but often they at least have some kind of story the filmmakers can work with, even if it's a very simple one it can still serve as a starting point.

  4. Battleship was pretty awful, but in defense of that first was a direct mocking of that viral video all over youtube of a REAL THEFT FOR A BURRITO that happened and it pretty much happened exactly like that.

    It was dumb, but I see what they were tying to do.

    Also...GET OFF OF IMDB!!!!

    1. Was that actually what happened? Okay, that does explain a few things and I guess that makes a little bit more sense, though I'd still say it seemed really out of place for this particular film and I'm not sure it was the best choice to have the protagonist go through that whole thing.

      One of these days, I might just have to get off the IMDB discussion boards if this insanity keeps up, but then who's going to call out all the films that have all-male casts for no good reason?

  5. Ugh...Battleship. What an awful movie. You didn't miss anything by giving up on it. Faster wasn't great, but I enjoyed it. And please, for the love of all you hold sacred, stop jumping in the cesspools that are the imdb threads.

    1. Yeah, I should probably get on that. I'm not sure why I even bother with those threads. I'll just have to find a new way to call out all the movies that have all-male casts for no good reason.