I’m of rather mixed feelings about Netflix’s newest original series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. If I take it at face value, it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book series, and it’s honestly an enjoyable way to spend eight hours. Neil Patrick Harris does a fantastic job as Count Olaf, and slips into and out of each of Olaf’s disguises with a whimsical flair that makes the unfortunate events of the series seem drearily entertaining rather than just dreary. Though it seems at times darker than the book series, much of the acting is clearly meant for a children’s demographic, as the characters go through the plot reveals with all the suspense of a Scooby-Doo-esque “I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” And the runtime, though a little bloated, allows a lot of time for the adult actors to make their shenanigans funny. I really enjoyed watching this series. However, in adapting the book series to Netflix, a few things were expanded on that ended up making the story’s internal logic a little, well, unfortunate.
Having seen two out of the three abysmally bad Fantastic Four movies already, I figured that by now I was probably jaded enough to tackle the original 1994 version without risking my sanity. After all, the 2015 version was absolute rock bottom: so bad that it derailed before looping back around to “hilariously bad” and ended up in a fiery heap somewhere between terrifying and boring. Much to my relief, while the 1994 version is indisputably terrible, it’s the sort of terrible you can watch in relative comfort and have a giggle at. Some charming aspects are that it’s mercifully short, comically overblown, and features (genuinely) the best movie version of Dr. Doom we have. Some terrible aspects are that it feels like a high school kid did the final editing, it treats women like garbage, and while it’s technically fairly accurate to the comics, it chose specifically the worst faults of the comics to stay faithful to.
Despite the Johnny Depp of it all, I’m still excited to see Grindelwald as a character in the Fantastic Beasts sequels and to see if they expand on the relationship between him and a young Dumbledore. Part of Grindelwald’s depth comes from their relationship; the two were extremely close and basically planned to take over the world together until a fight between Grindelwald, Dumbledore,and Dumbledore’s brother ended tragically in Dumbledore’s sister’s death. This caused a rift between the two, and Grindelwald struck out on his own, while Dumbledore attempted to delay his confrontation with Grindelwald after Grindelwald started to seize power in Europe.
I previously believed that Albus and Gellert were confirmed to have been in a relationship, and so when I heard that Albus’s sexuality would be explored in future Fantastic Beasts films, I assumed that would include their relationship. But while researching this post, I discovered that J.K. Rowling never believed that Grindelwald reciprocated Dumbledore’s feelings, and, in my opinion, this really takes away from the complexity of the character. Furthermore, if their relationship became a major focus in the movies, it would be huge. Queer main characters whose relationship is at the forefront of the story and not playing second fiddle tothe main straight couple would be major representation.
The part of me that’s a Star Wars fan has been in overdrive these past few months. With the release of Rogue One, the new season of Rebels, and Carrie Fisher’s death, I’ve been having all the feels. Due to health reasons, however, I actually fell behind watching Rebels this year, and I didn’t manage to get caught up until recently. I’m still not happy that my favorite character Ahsoka Tano is gone from the story, but she has never been the only reason I watched the show. There are still plenty of good things about Rebels to go around, and at this point, if you’re a Star Wars fan and you haven’t been watching the show, you need to.
I love it when any piece of pop culture incorporates some kind of religion that isn’t Christianity, because despite the fact that Christian themes are everywhere in Western media, not everyone is Christian. It’s nice to see media embrace themes from other faiths and show more religious diversity. However, sadly this tends to be a very exotified, watered down, and often inaccurate depiction, especially when it comes to Eastern religions.
Marvel’s latest hit, Doctor Strange, is based on a comic that relies heavily on Eastern religions, particularly Buddhism. However, the orientalism displayed in the comics, as well as the culturally appropriative nature of the comics in general, means that the portrayal of Buddhism in the movie tends to be a rather problematic one.
You guys, I really wanted Sing to be good. Like, really badly. Despite seeing ratings that were somewhere in the “meh” area, I remained hopeful—movies mostly about singing (in a non-musical format) aren’t for everyone, after all. Yet as the credits began to roll I found myself echoing a sentiment used by our very own Ace earlier this week: Sing sure was a movie. It wasn’t a travesty or entirely unenjoyable, but I left with the feeling that maybe the writers at Illumination Entertainment simply didn’t know what they wanted to do with the plot and were too attached to showing different animals singing and dancing to pare the story down into something more coherent.
A few weeks ago I was pretty bored and so I decided it was time to listen to a new podcast. For the most part, I have almost exclusively listened to Night Vale Presents podcasts so far, so I felt it was time to branch out. I looked up several of the current most popular fictional podcasts and became interested in one called The Black Tapes. I tend to shy away from horror, but our former author Fiyero has been introducing me to more horror as of late; I found myself hooked on the show and listened to the entire first season in one night.