Not There Yet

Look, nobody wants JUSTICE LEAGUE to be good more than me, with the possible exception of anyone who has money invested with Warner Bros right now. So I don’t enjoy the fact that this fancy new trailer looks… like nothing special.

That’s not to say that it looks “bad,” but if the idea here was to turn everyone around on what’s thus far looked like a pretty bad film (and a DCEU sliding right back into its bad old habits after the welcome respite in WONDER WOMAN) this isn’t doing it as far as I’m concerned. Flash and Cyborg still look ridiculous, the overriding aesthetic resembles 90s comics in all the least attractive ways, and after half a Summer of female fans swooning over WONDER WOMAN’s epic beach fight it very much looks like Themiscyra and The Amazons’ role here is to get killed (or at least decisively “owned”) by Steppenwolf in order to demonstrate how bad a baddie he is – if so, that’s going to go over like a lead balloon.

I genuinely hope this is good. Whatever transformations WB has to make to this franchise to get it back to watchable, I hope it begins here. But I remain underwhelmed, and I don’t want to start feeling like we’ll be waiting around until the just-announced FLASHPOINT movie in order to see the substantive retooling that this whole enteprise worthwhile.

He Is Risen!

Well, holy shit – ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE (of all things!) gets a movie:

Originally framed as more or less the Nicktoons lineup’s answer to THE SIMPSONS, viewed today I think it can be convincingly argued that ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE might actually hold up better than any of the other 90s animated comedies specifically focused on “everyday nineties life griping” humor – that’s not to say that I don’t still love DUCKMAN, but having viewed both pretty recently it’s ROCKO that I’d say a present-day audience with no nostalgia attachment could “get into” the most easily.

Maybe that has something to do with the specific context of the series’ place as a just-edgy-enough Nickelodeon production repurposing “adult” sitcom humor in kid-friendly (though sometimes only just so) terms: ROCKO was, effectively, a show about explaining the grumpy “life sucks!” humor of grownup sitcoms and stand-up routines in terms a kid audience could understand. It’s almost certainly the case that a lot of the young viewers who caught this between showings of the “bigger” Nicktoons like RUGRATS or DOUG came away with a slightly better understanding of what mom and/or dad were so annoyed by when it came to mysterious “adult world” stuff like The DMV, office politics, paychecks, taxes, etc.

With that in mind, much as I love the unstuck-in-time conceit of the trailer, I hope the actual film eases up on the “LOL we’re from the 90s!” nostalgia-tripping and confronts 2017 on its own terms the way the original series did its own time (the smartphone gag feels the closest to that, i.e. Rocko as the outsider to American conspicuous consumption looking askance at Heffer and Filburt as full-on “buy ins” to that sort of thing.) I’m overcome by a desire – perhaps a bit sadistic – to watch poor hapless Rocko suffer the indignities of social media, “streaming” TV, etc. The brief glimpse at a Nolan/Snyder-ized version of Really-Really-Big Man is amazing, as well.

Please let this one be good!

KINGSMAN 2 Red Band

Hm. On the one hand, I’m 100% down for “The Statesmen” – a cowboy-themed American sibling outfit to The Kingsmen with Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges as the U.S. equivalents to Edgerton and Firth? Inspired!

…on the other hand, Matthew Vaughn’s track record at sequels to adaptations of Mark Millar nonsense is about as bad as his track record for original adaptations of Mark Millar nonsense (my initially positive take on KICK-ASS 2 is about the wrongest I’ve ever considered myself in hindsight – KICK-ASS 2 is horrible) so… yeah, proceeding with caution here. Resurrecting Firth, especially considering it’s apparently a small enough deal to spoil this far out, especially reeks of doubling down on whatever worked last time rather than having a good narrative reason to continue the story.

The original KINGSMAN is a messy, problematic thing; but it’s also wickedly ingenious at points and it’s alarming just how good a product Vaughn can make by sanding the worst impulses of off Millar’s ugly try-hard nihilism. So color me hopeful, but I can’t shake a sense that¬†everything is a franchise, and I’m not 100% convinced that the KINGSMAN “world” is actually interesting enough outside of Eggsy’s boy-to-man journey to not diminish upon continuation. We shall see.

TRAILER: The Shape of Water

You could write a pretty substantive book on the number of cancelled Guillermo del Toro projects we’ll sadly never get to see, but the recent news that we’ll be getting a “gritty reboot” of HELLBOY rather than the hoped-for threequel hurt more than most. Still, del Toro never disappoints at having something in the pipeline regardless, and this looks like it could be a suitable replacement on more than one level (it also looks really, really good):

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Netflix Shuffle

Much as I try to keep this blog from turning me into a nerd version of Andy Rooney, sometimes I hit on a seemingly meaningless question that makes sense to me but that I can’t conceive of not having been routinely asked and answered already. At this moment: Why doesn’t Netflix have a version of “shuffle mode?”

Here’s what I mean: I won’t say that I’m not a binge-watcher of things, I am. But what keeps me from using Netflix (or, frankly, most other large-variety streaming services) as much as I think I otherwise would is that I don’t always want to watch a pre-planned or immediately-desired set of programming. The fact is, having spent most of my TV-watching life in the pre-2012-or-so era, I like to have the damn thing running as the background noise of my home and I find a certain amount of genuine enjoyment in the “Oh! [thing] is on, cool!” mode of realizing something has appeared onscreen. Continue reading