Thursday, May 31, 2012

Real Steel

Since I talked about one movie I watched on a plane, I thought I'd do another. The first film I actually watched when I settled in for my first eleven hour flight was Real Steel because I'm a sucker for Hugh Jackman.

I think everybody thought that Real Steel was just a movie version of Rock'em Sock'em Robots. Even I made that joke, and I had no idea that it was actually based on a Richard Matheson story. Richard Matheson is a bit like Philip K. Dick, you probably have no idea how influential he's been over genre film and television. His stories are everywhere, including The Twilight Zone (where Steel was originally adapted).

With that surprisingly pedigree for the story, it's becomes unsurprising that the movie itself is so much better than expected. Yes, there is robot boxing. That is totally a thing, and sometimes it is as ridiculous as it sounds. But at it's heart, it's a sports movie and a father/son bonding movie. It's more about family than it is about robots.

In fact, the biggest fault with the film is that it follows the tropes of the underdog sports movie a little too closely. Sure, having the underdog be a robot was different but it wasn't different enough to forgive how predictable the plot can be. Everything moves forward exactly as expected, and they're not even brave enough to go for the one plot twist I expected.*

Which makes it sound like I didn't like the movie. I actually did, I thought it was a good action story. It seemed like a good movie for kids to watch with their parents (not sure what age is appropriate for robotic carnage, but whatever). I thought the acting was well done, for the most part. The visuals were fantastic, and the special effects were a relief. I was expecting really wretched CG robots that didn't look real, but they had the sense to make everything a little grimy so that it would be realistic.

I don't know that it's a movie I'll go out and buy, but it's definitely one that I'll end up stopping on and watching every time it comes on TV.


The twist I expected: that Atom was actually designed by Mashido and that he was an early design that was scrapped because he couldn't make it work quite right but the kid had figured out the way to make it perfect. Or maybe he was forced to scrap it by his sponsors at the time because it wasn't what they wanted, and he always wished he had kept this robot and wanted him back. Actually, the fact that Atom's origins weren't delved into or explored and yet he was a one of a kind robot that could learn? HUGE misstep, and the biggest glaring problem with the whole film.

Once Upon a Time: Part 1

Since I've been having so much trouble having enough things to review, I'm going to stop doing this whole "review an entire season at once" thing I've been doing.

But at least in this instance, I watched too much of the show at once for me to just do one episode. So we're going to talk about the first part of the first season of Once Upon a Time. We'll go through each episode really quickly and then do a quick overview. Sound good? I hope so because that's what I'm doing.

I think it should be obvious, but while I'll try to avoid spoilers a few might end up in there. Spoiler free overview: The first half of this season is slow and takes a LOT of time to get going, but there are at least a couple characters I cared about enough to give it more time.

Pilot: There was JUST enough in the Pilot to keep me watching and not really a lot more. I was instantly a fan of Snow White/Mary Margaret and I wanted to know more about Prince Charming. The thing is that the episode made so little impact on me that I can't even think of things that I can write here about it. It just was a pilot, it set things up. Including the sheer amount of bad wigs we're going to be treated to in the Enchanted Forest.

The Thing You Love Most: As far as I'm concerned, this episode is the only one where I cared about Regina at all. This episode gave me so much hope for her character, because for her to do what she does here then I really want to know more about her back story (at least at this point I did). This episode also really started to set up Gold/Rumpelstiltskin as a character I desperately wanted to know more about. In general, it was because this follow-up episode was so strong that I kept watching the show in general. Especially finding out the link between Mr. Gold and Henry.

Snow Falls: Every bit of interest I had in Regina was pretty much used up in this episode. I was excited to see Snow and Charming in the real world, thinking that perhaps this was going to be a story of him rediscovering himself and they slowly fall back in love with each other. Instead it's Regina again with the "no wait, there's a secret wife so we can have a love triangle" play. Boring. The Enchanted Forest story was really fun and interesting though, and made me like Snow even more.

The Price of Gold: The one thing I noticed right off the bat about this show was that I found Mr. Gold to be a much more fascinating villain than Regina. Regina just kept giving speeches about "responsibility" and how Emma gave up Henry and blah blah. I really didn't care, at all. Though this episode is one that brings out a lot of the plot holes that the show has with their whole "time doesn't move here" piece. Has Ashley been pregnant for 28 years? Was Cinderella still pregnant in the Enchanted Forest when they moved over and that's why? The thing about this show is that the less you're asked to think about the actual system of magic, the easier it is to enjoy.

Anyway, the point of this is that Mr. Gold is still amazing. Rumpelstiltskin's appearance in this episode was so classic and perfect. Emma goes back and forth in this one, but in general she did well and I liked her. And I loved the fact that they're setting up this favor she owes Mr. Gold, they better pay that off well.

That Still Small Voice: The bulk of the Storybrook parts of this episode were so boring and terrible. Regina is back to stomping around and yelling about responsibility and "I'm in charge of this town" while still not being able to think more than a step or two ahead of anything. She can't even out think a ten year old. If I hear her say "Emma, I just want what's best for HENRY" one more time I might scream.

But the Enchanted Forest story about the origins of Jiminy Cricket? WOW. Impressive acting, a dark story, everything about it was really great. Well, except for the Blue Fairy's costume but seriously, that is just something I cannot get over and cannot forgive. How wretched is that thing? But this was another episode that made me keep watching just on the strength of the other characters outside of Regina.

Part One Overview: At this point in the season, I desperately wanted to know more about Snow, Charming, Jiminy, and Rumpelstiltskin. I could take or leave Emma and Henry, I see their importance and I find their relationship interesting but it's already starting to fall into repetitive cycles instead of growing and changing. Snow and Charming are fun and interesting in the Enchanted Forest, but I hate what's going on in Storybrook.

But in the end, as long as there's more Rumpelstiltskin then I'll keep watching the show. Because there's also still a chance that he'll kill Regina and take over so I'll watch for that.