Tag Archives: popcorn movie

The Benefits of Escapism

Sometimes, the world really sucks. It’s beginning to feel like every time we start to heal and move on from one tragedy or disaster, another strikes. Last week I was dealing with flooding in our area, and the persistent threat of tornadoes, but all of that faded into the background with what happened in Orlando.

This is by no means a post rehashing the news, or remarking on the politics now surrounding it. I’m in dire need of a break from it all, just as I’m sure you all are, no matter your personal affiliations. It’s times like these that I really do marvel at the beauty of literature, music, and films to take one’s mind off of things. This is when I’m most in need of all guilty pleasures, no matter how small. Red wine and some cookie dough ice cream while watching Netflix? Yep, I’m there.

One of my personal favorite guilty pleasures is historical romance novels. For a bit of light reading full of lush clothing and descriptive language, it can be interesting enough to keep my attention and absorb me so that I forget the awfulness of the world around me. Plus, it has the benefit of being comfortingly predictable; as a reader, you know exactly where the story is heading. Love will triumph and the hero and heroine will ride off into the sunset together. It’s incredibly reassuring and serves its purpose wonderfully: escapism.

Everyone has their own form of escapism. Literature is a fantastic one, because you can honestly imagine yourself in the shoes of a heroine and lose yourself in a new world that you create in your mind. Geek culture is full of ways to indulge in escapism. Science fiction and fantasy novels can be brilliant, richly detailed escapism. The multitude of geek-central television shows we currently have, whether presently airing or available on Netflix (Firefly, anyone?) are a fantastic source of comfort right now. Plus with all of the great movies coming out this year, there has to be one or another that you can check out in the weeks to come.

The Nine Alignments of Firefly

Editor: There we go. Firefly, Good, and Evil, all in one image.

I’ve talked before about how I use the phrase “popcorn movie” as a positive phrase because there is something so deliciously wonderful about being able to absorb myself in a film for two hours, whether or not the movie is full of substance. Popcorn movies are perfect for times like these, when all we really want is to munch some popcorn in a dark theatre and “ooo” and “ahhh” over some really cool graphics and Good vs. Evil stories. Especially because popcorn movies, like historical romance novels, give us the sense that good/love can and will win.

So I say make sure to indulge in some escapism this weekend, in whatever awesomely geeky way you want. And then Monday, pick yourself back up and face the world and do your best to emulate the heroes in the fandom you indulged in and try to make sure that good will win, even in our presently sucky world. Whether by speaking out against hate, donating time, money, or blood, writing to your lawmakers or voting, or even reaching out to your friends and family and letting them know you love them. Use your geeky escapism to bolster your spirits and refresh yourself so that you can help tackle the problems we all face.

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Comic Book Movies: Expectations vs. Reality

Since this is the year of superhero and comic book based movies, it’s only fair that we’ve been talking about them quite a bit. I was going to take a break from doing so after Civil War‘s awesomeness, but I’ve barely had a chance to because another is on the horizon: X-Men Apocalypse.

As I talked about in my post at the beginning of the year, this is one of the movies I’m most looking forward to. I’m a little hesitant now because of some of the movies I’ve seen so far this year. Deadpool was awesome, but I wasn’t sure what to expect with it, so I was happy. Batman vs. Superman was the essence of mediocrity. And Captain America: Civil War blew my expectations out of the water and pleasantly surprised me with how fantastic it was.

Unfortunately for me while watching a trailer for Apocalypse today, I saw that the reviews coming in from people who have seen it have been very mediocre, to say the least. Currently on Rotten Tomatoes it’s at a middle of the road 50%. As far as action movies go, it could be far worse. What I’ve noticed is that the less than thrilled responses tend to come from the fact that people have very different expectations for comic book movies, and a lot  of different factors go into those expectations. Continue reading

Captain America: Civil War. Now that’s how you make a movie.

We got to the theater yesterday to see Captain America: Civil War, the newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Holly recommended I write a review… but then we also saw that a lot of other reviews have already been hitting. Have a few links!

Pretty sure there’s more where those came from… I feel surely I have something to add to the conversation, but I’m also still digesting the movie. I also want to avoid spoilers, since the movie is so newly out… although it’s been out overseas, and made so much money over the weekend you all may have seen it once already.

One thing I can do is refer back to previous posts. Like how I predicted that Civil War would be Captain America 3 because of their comics trajectory after Winter Soldier. Or the whole host of stories that came before the Civil War comics and which make it seem derivative. Or polls like Spider-Man or Team Iron Man versus Team Captain America.

But there’s a main post I want to reflect back on: my reactions to a review about Age of Ultron and how it was killing/not killing the “popcorn movie.”

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Movie Review – San Andreas

This last weekend we watched San Andreas, with Dwayne Johnson. While on the one hand, yep, it’s a disaster movie and you know what that means… on the other hand, it’s a really solid disaster movie, that doesn’t stretch out the tropes too much.

One thing I can say about disaster movies is that they make great popcorn movies – as in, there’s thrills, adrenaline, amazing effects, and somewhere along the line that can mean that tropes are relied on heavily, audience expectations that you feed on purpose – or subvert on purpose. So I’ll get to those after the jump.

But the one thing I want to say as a general, non-spoiler review: the destruction and mayhem in San Andreas is really solid. There’s no bad guy, no monster or aliens or evil corporation. It’s not even much of a social commentary, unless you count “man it would be great if we could detect earthquakes before they happen.” No, it’s just a massive, act-of-God disaster movie, without far-reaching world-destroying effects – but you know things wouldn’t ever be the same again. The effects were great, you got to see all kinds of things just fall apart. In other words, this was a fun movie. Now on to some analysis below!

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Genre and Medium and the “Popcorn Movie” and Age of Ultron

So, back when Avengers: Age of Ultron first came out, I read the following review on Wired:

I felt that I wanted to see the movie more than once to really know what I thought of it. Because of the Geek Baby, that second viewing only happened recently. I’ve been mulling over the movie, with posts like this one and like this one.

To sum up reviews of the movie, I think that it was alright but nowhere near as good as the first Avengers. It’s not doing something new and different like the first one did (bringing together how many individual movie franchises), it’s not as excellent a dark trilogy sequel as some of the classics (Empire Strikes Back), and it has Too Much Going On And Being Set Up syndrome (but not as badly as, say, Amazing Spider-Man 2). Do these statements seem fair?

I talked about the first couple of things in my prior posts, so let me just say something here about Too Much Going On And Being Set Up. Some of the most hotly debated scenes from the movie – Thor’s vision quest, the Banner/Natasha “monster” discussion – had extended, deleted scenes. That was really interesting to find on the disc. These scenes that the fans saw as particularly troubling were ones that, apparently, Joss Whedon had trouble with too.

Was it because he was trying to succumb to the all-powerful Marvel plan? Yeah, maybe some. But the two versions of scenes like this show me that Joss did his best to work them into the movie in its final form. Successfully? Eh. Clearly debatable. But the theatrical versions were the ones that he meant for us to see… the scenes of lesser evil?

However, my main purpose here is the review from Wired. It says it was picked up from another site, so it was opinionated enough for syndication. It got me fired up before, but rather than a point-by-point rebuttal or some other Nerd Rage, I want to just address the main point of the article.

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