Sometimes I have trouble writing a coherent blog entry on a topic near and dear to my jaded, jaded heart. This may or may not be obvious already. Heck, sometimes I have trouble even writing a coherent sentence. This also may be obvious. So I present truly random musings on stuff that’s caught my fancy but I don’t think is substantial enough to turn into a full-blown, spleen-venting entry.
I said before that while right now there are a lot of television adaptations of comic books available right now that the quality is pretty hit-and-miss. I’m not going to just single DC out here either. The first season of Agents of SHIELD was not very good, and I really wanted to like that show. I’ve heard tell the second season is much better, so I’ll try to pick it up again. And there’s Gotham, which is also going through some growing pains. I’m not sure I care for the premise anyway. And of course there’s Arrow, which as far as I can tell has about as much to do with Oliver Queen/Green Arrow as I do. This show should have just been titled Technically Not Batman Because This Guy Totally Kills. I won’t claim to be an expert on Green Arrow by any means, but when the show features as many if not more Batman villains than members of Ollie’s own Rogue’s Gallery, that’s a bad sign.
Right, this is me talking about good stuff. So now there’s a spinoff of the “Arrow” universe for the Flash, and of course his origin is from the depressingly dark and edgy reboot “Flashpoint.” I was afraid the Scarlet Speedster would be, well, “fast Batman” given the main show. And after seeing Man of Steel and Justice League: War, I’m seriously doubting that DC remembers how heroes who are not Batman are supposed to act. But I caught a bit of the second episode and it was refreshing like the cool breezes of spring to hear Barry Allen stand up and tell the doubting cop that he knows heroing is dangerous but if he can save even a single person, he’s damn well going to do it. That is as close to a “Big Damn Heroes” moment as I’ve seen in DC in much too long.
Wolverine is dead. For realzies this time. Yep, totally dead and will never, ever be seen again. Riiiight. Look, I’m not saying characters can’t stay dead. Banshee and Nightcrawler and Jean Grey and Xavier are all still dead. However, those characters do not have Wolverine’s true mutant power – uber-badassness. Wolverine’s in more X-men movies than the original X-men! He’s got two solo movies and a third in the works. He inherited Xavier’s dream instead of Cyclops and somehow manages to find time to be on the Avengers. Wolverine was so popular in the late ’90s/early ’00s Marvel was sticking him on covers of books he technically didn’t appear in just to sell the comic! It’s as though every few years Marvel thinks it’s a great idea to kill off a prominent character to increase publicity and then choose that character by throwing darts. Last time it was Johnny Storm/Human Torch, and that lasted a year or so before he turned up again alive and well. Seriously, Marvel, how stupid do you think we are?
I really love the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. I admit they have flaws, but they are the gold standards of epic fantasy. And I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of LotR. I admit that has flaws too, but given the density of the source material and the amount of patience a theater-going audience will give a movie, I think the adaptation was done very well. Casting was spot on, acting was good, effects were great, music was sweeping, and I even invested in the extended editions because I wanted to see even more. So perhaps the bar was set too high for a prequel anyway. Trying to make an epic prequel only invites comparisons to the epic trilogy. However, I counter if The Hobbit had been a one-in-done (as it should have been), it would have been a fine addition to the trilogy.
Clearly that did not happen. After the second, my disappointment was so great I vowed I would not pay money to see the conclusion in the theaters. I will see it, of course, but I was pretty sure from the first movie that this trilogy was going to become the subject of a very long (or multi-part) entry of “Storytelling Failures.” And this week I happened to catch a trailer. My jaw dropped, and not in the good way. I knew that this third installment wasn’t going to be any better, but I apparently underestimated how bad it might be. The goal of a trailer is to get a potential audience interested and therefore the trailers are assembled from the most cinematic parts of the movie (if not necessarily the best because there just isn’t enough time). This trailer made me less interested.
Now, I realize not everything in a trailer may necessarily appear in the movie, and that some parts that seem large in the trailers are quite small in the actual movie (like Grimlock; but I was onto Michael Bay and stayed well away). But even so, in that scant two minutes or so, several issues came up, but here’s what may seem like a minor problem but in fact is a major error in storytelling (you may well complain I’m merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and I can’t deny that, still that dang deck chair bothers the hell out of me). Apparently there is supposed to be some subplot between Thorin and his nephews, Kili and Fili, based on a pretty standard protective father/rebellious sons dynamic. I don’t object to using that dynamic. The problem is this – Thorin’s relationship with Kili and Fili wasn’t even mentioned in the entire run time of the first movie. It was barely a throw-away line in the second movie. You can’t build drama off of relationships that haven’t been established yet! This is storytelling 101, for crying out loud. To me it doesn’t matter if this subplot is not going to have a large role in the last movie. Any screen time dedicated to this subplot is dramatically empty and therefore pointless. Unfortunately, I think most of the rest of the movie will be the same.
Damn it, Peter Jackson, what the hell happened?