Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Saw This!! Rewatch Fever

I Saw This (double exclamation point) is our all-too regular feature wherein Graig or David attempt to write about a bunch of movies they watched some time ago and meant to write about but just never got around to doing so. Now they they have to strain to say anything meaningful lest they just not say anything at all. And they can't do that, can they?

See there's the salient point. How can I go on a hiatus when I cannot even not say something about movies that have already somewhat faded from memory & impression.

Serenity, 2005, Joss Whedon -- blu-ray
Titan AE, 2000, Don Bluth -- Netflix
Watchmen, 2009, Zack Snyder -- Netflix

When deep in the doldrums I reach for The Shelf, the shelf containing spaceships and superheroes, elves and meteors crushing skyscrapers. Something I know I will like resets me, settles me and allows me to dash the demons for a short time.

Kent, I also say this is my perfect kind of space opera. Serenity opens like all the Star Wars movies -- with a spaceship, a quick pan over the hull and in through the window, to exchange drama for a giggle, as a part breaks off Mal's boat. We are back, back amongst friends, in the comfy confines that protect us from dangerous, unfriendly space. It doesn't hurt there are plenty of guns to help protect us.

Serenity is not just a good movie because it gave us our favourite show back on the big screen. Its just a good movie that expands cherished rapscallions into epic heroes. They defeat the big bad guys, redeem a monster and expose the greatest monsters (the government) for who they really are. Big ideas. Grand ideals.

And yet, its the heart that matters the most for me. Kaylee finally gets together with Simon, River finally clears the cobwebs out of her head and Mal gets to see Inara again, and be a real hero to her. But this is Joss Whedon, so of course, he also has to tear our hearts out. Heroes never prevail without a loss, a great loss. I always shed a tear, not just for the lost leaf on the wind but the pain Simon feels when Kaylee goes down, or the utter anguish suffered by lost little River when she thinks she might lose her brother.

I love this movie.

Remember Don Bluth? Traditional animator of The Secret of NIMH and An American Tale? He was the ruler of animation before Pixar introduced toys with feelings. Titan AE was his last attempt to play in that sandbox, but rather than go for kids, he gave something to the kids that grew up on his stories. It was a space opera that begins with tragedy -- the end of the planet Earth and an exodus into deep space. It is there, we are a lost dying race, hurtling towards extinction cared little by the rest of the intelligent species. It ends with a new beginning.

While I love this movie, I think he tried too hard to make it "cool". There were lopsided rock songs, and a jerk of a main hero voiced not very well by Matt Damon. But it was in space, with nasty CGI enhanced space alien villains, so I loved it. I still do.

Space Jerk does become a hero, and gets the girl and defeats the evil aliens. Unfortunately it requires their extinction. Not sure of that moral.

Now, this was from Netflix, technically not The Shelf, but I have it on DVD so it still counts.

Not from The Shelf at all, nor containing spaceships, but tucked into this genre rewatch binge was Watchmen. The original graphic novel is still one of my favourites. It's my favourite retelling of how superheroes are supposed to be. It's my favourite dark & gritty superhero tale. It's my favourite collection of anti-heroes and ultraviolence. And it was the first proper graphic novel I read, as I missed the monthlies, and I am still convinced it is best read as one big thing.

The movie is not the comic, but it does capture some of the feel. The Comedian is still a misogynistic ass, who perverts the great American ideal. Dr. Manhattan is still a big swinging (and blue) dick who becomes so far removed from humanity, he has to leave. And Rorschach is still a growling, sociopathic narrator (probably literally does it in his own head) played incredibly by my instant favourite character actor, Jackie Earle Haley.

The movie requires a different ending from the comic, dispensing with giant space alien hentai tentacle horror for a more grounded fear of men who would be gods. While I didn't care much for the change, it does fit today. Science replacing God is a common bogeyman these days. Just today, I saw the newest street hawking bible beaters ask, "Has The Bible Been Replaced By Science?"  Yes, yes it has. And no it hasn't. They have always served different purposes. Dr. Manhattan is to be the next step of Us, but make him the villain feared by all nations & people, and the bogeyman serves a purpose. Some say that is why the CIA invented Al Qaeda.

The movie still looks good, the Zack Snyder motif of animated backgrounds supplemented by real actors. It has more practical props than 300 but as it plays out in an alternate reality, and compressed timelines not our own, I always felt the other worldliness fit this movie. I may not buy it, but I will always appreciate Netflix having it available.