Captain America: Civil War

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

Avengers 3: Civil War is a brilliantly written film that . . . oh, I’m sorry, Captain America: Civil War. I apologize for the oversight, you see, I just couldn’t tell the difference between this Captain America film and an Avengers film . . . because far more than just Captain America gets character development. In fact, the main character of this film seems to be Ironman.

The addition of Black Panther is something I really enjoyed about the film. His fight against Ironman and Bucky was amazing. However, what I truly enjoyed was the main villain’s motivation. This is, by far and with all sincerity, the best Marvel film that I’ve ever seen.

The divide is an argument for accountability to the whole world versus personal freedom for the Avengers. Both aspects are done incredibly well. Scarlet Witch’s lack of freedom is expressed well by being kept under house arrest by Tony Stark. The reason being the beginning of the film where one of the enemy’s were strapped with a bomb. There was only a split second decision that could be made and Scarlet Witch pushed the bomber into a building . . . that was an apartment complex filled with innocent people and accidentally ended-up killing more people as a result of that snap decision-making in a very stressful environment with superheroes and villains having war on a crowded civilian street in Africa.

The old black woman that Tony meets after his presentation at MIT is a very damning point for the Avengers. Captain America constantly seems to argue about wanting to be right when the world deems them wrong and standing up for what they believe in, but this visceral example of the dangers is probably the most damning point against the Avengers. For those who didn’t understand what happened, in Avengers 2, when the Hulk went on a berserk rampage in a different African city, Tony Stark had to use an extra-powered Ironman suit to effectively stop him. During the ensuing fight, Hulk destroyed a massive building that killed many civilians within it. That old black woman, a State government employee and implied to be a single mother, had a son who had been working in that country during his summer as part of a volunteer program, to help the poor in that country on behalf of the US government and presumably in conjunction with his military service for the US government in that country, he was doing this as a summer job while working on his Bachelors for an IT degree in college. The Hulk’s rampage and destruction of that building killed that young man and many other civilians.

Some of the photos by the US government in explaining the ramifications of the Avengers actions included children killed from the building Scarlet Witch inadvertently destroyed. 170 nations worked together, after the incident in the beginning of the film, to bring peace through regulating the Avengers.

I love Captain America’s portrayal because it shows how the typical hero archetype in Hollywood films, while well meaning, is ultimately self-centered and destructive to both their allies and a threat to the world. The twist with Bucky killing Ironman’s parents was fabulous. While Bucky “wasn’t at fault” the fact remains that anyone who hypnotizes him could use him to kill more innocent people. Is it really worth it to protect him and find a cure, possibly allowing more innocent people like Ironman’s parents or the staff at the UN being murdered mercilessly by a rampaging monster who has all of Captain America’s abilities? More people will die, it’s not so different from the Hulk. Can everyone who allows such monstrous power to go unchecked always argue that they’re vindicated from the potential danger of keeping such people alive?

Despite Scarlet Witch being forced into a suit that could kill her at any moment, it ultimately was her own responsibility. She chose to take down Vision and join Captain America’s group. The power can’t go unchecked and she was allowed greater freedom before she joined and explicitly went against US and UN laws by acting as a rogue agent/terrorist sympathizer.

The main villain’s motive, the diversity of even the foreign cast, and the believable characters and sympathetic emotional understanding of the foreigners, a dynamic female character like Scarlet Witch, and three different Black men who all had independent and dynamic motives really show just how great diversity and characterization has come in depicting women and minority characters. I’m honestly shocked at just how good this film was in portraying them without any of the drawbacks of stereotypes. Spiderman, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and even War Machine to an extent all gain amazingly deep characterization on the level of Ironman and Captain America. It really made watching this film a wonderful experience. Avengers 2 had everyone in character archetypes and boring shoehorned stereotypes. This film, by a shocking contrast, had a deep philosophical undertone of the damaging effects of superhuman powers on an international level (WITH REALISTIC POLITICS! HOLY SHIT!), a deep level of characterization for all the characters, amazing fight scenes among MULTIPLE characters that flow shockingly well, and basically everything that I felt Hollywood could be, if it tried. And it did try, and it was AMAZING!

The main villain’s final words, in response to a discussion about justice is just perfect. Black Panther tries to convince him to seek justice and the main villain rebuffs him telling him to tell that to the dead right before trying to kill himself. The man lost his family during the end of Avengers 2, being crushed to death by the ensuing earthquake and debris from tragically living too close to the floating land. Another damning point, Ultron’s creation was the result of the Avengers experimentation, and all they did after the damage was go back home while the main villain had to deal with putting his family into their graves after a funeral. The twist with his character, instead of seeking the other Winter Soldiers as was expected by the audience; he decides to kill them in their sleep, and his motivations were phenomenal and perfect for the film. He sought to destroy the Avengers empire internally instead of externally, because as he so rightly pointed out, empires will simply persevere from the hardship and come back stronger to fight the external enemy. His point about destroying empires internally by revealing the video tape and Captain America admitting to having kept the truth from Ironman was a great ending twist.

There is so much more I could say but I’ll stop here.

This is the best Marvel film I’ve watched so far. It kicks the teeth of the crap known as Avengers 2 and is a true Avengers sequel. Definitely a Must-watch film. It’s as good as the Dark Knight, I kid you not! I would really love to see if Marvel can top how amazing this film was.

9.8/10

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Major Spoilers Below

One of the best sequels I’ve ever seen. The plot twists, apart from the one at the end, take a surprising turn. The Ice Queen displays more cunning, thoughtfulness, and endearment to her child slave army than Ravenna did with . . . anything. However, the film is more a romance/adventure more than anything else and it definitely passes the Bechdel Test.

One of the most interesting aspects of this film, it leads you into believing that the film will be a typical revenge film and then destroys that belief with a rather interesting plot twist that spectacularly shows off both the Snow Queen Freya’s cunning, which far surpasses Ravenna’s, and her cruelty, which is more psychological and physical. The film’s ending twist, although predictable, does an amazing and believable retcon in explaining why Ravenna didn’t just kill Snow White immediately and instead let her grow up. Ravenna’s guilt over what is revealed was palpable. It explains why the Huntsman, Eric, is such a great warrior.

Also, in all honesty, this film is better without Snow White making an appearance in the film. It’s an improvement because this film is about Eric and his wife, Sara. Who, shockingly, we found out wasn’t killed by the black guy, but instead was imprisoned for seven years and brainwashed by the Snow Queen into believing that Eric ran without her while Eric believed that Sara had been brutally killed. The film is really about them getting reacquainted and back together. It helps reinforce why Eric remained true to his one love. Both of the characters have fairly dynamic, believable, and relatable motives and personalities.

The foreshadowing for each twist is done subtly and fairly well. The young black youth’s demeanor before they chucked Eric into the river, the brief mind control and riff that Eric endures. What I particularly love is the time skip aspect of the film. I thought it would be a fairly predictable revenge film prequel before the events of Snow White but instead the film goes into Ravenna and Freya’s sisterly relationship before a timeskip after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman.

Certain drawbacks of the film, however, are that the final fight between Ravenna and Freya is a huge letdown, some of the lighting decisions were just stupid as we cannot see Freya clearly when she’s making announcements to her child slave army, Freya and Ravenna’s brother is never brought up, Freya and Ravenna’s bloodline powers aren’t given greater detail and seem to contradict Snow White’s assertion of Ravenna’s mother bestowing magical witch powers on Ravenna, and I feel as if certain scenes should have hung for a few seconds longer to make more of an emotional impact on an otherwise good plot.

Overall, however, I think it’s a good film. I really don’t get the negative reviews for this film series but perhaps Europe just has a finer taste in films than American audiences and their rampant Michael Bay explosions.

For me, this film is definitely worthy of an 8/10.

And here is a re-post of the rap battle, because it is so awesome:

Angel Egg (1985 Anime Film)

Major Spoilers below

This uniquely visualized film explores a what-if concept of the Noah’s Ark story in the Bible.

What if Yahweh decided not to help humanity after the Great Flood and instead let the world die?

In the film, a dove is suppose to inform Yahweh of what happened so that Yahweh begins the next step. However, the Dove, like the people in the ark, turned to stone as a result of the cursed rain. Those that didn’t become stone sunk into madness.

This film is explicitly stated to be open to interpretation but most aspects can be recognized. What cannot be ascertained is whether or not the man holding the Cross has either gone insane by dreaming his interactions with the girl or if he’s building a new form of humanity comprised only of the women who turn into eggs and breed more eggs that create clones of themselves or similar looking young girls with no physical differences.

There seems to be a Moby Dick reference, comprised of soldiers who have gone mad trying to capture and eat fish in a world where all living things except the scant few humans are dead. They constantly throw spears at whale shadows. In one scene, it seems as if they’ve caught a shadow but that presentation may also be a reflection of their madness.

I’m honestly not sure what to rate it, and it does seem to be for audiences who prefer slow, dark, gothic, and potentially depressing content. It is most definitely an acquired taste and only for those who prefer such genres. I watched it blind.

  • Interesting tidbits that I found, although I may be looking too much into this:

Spoilers for Persona 4 and Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

  • The beginning eye ship seems to have influenced Persona 4’s setting and the designs of Ameno-Sagiri and Shinado. The design of the beginning seems eerily similar to Persona 4’s area where Ameno-Sagiri is fought. The bodies making up parts of the floating eye ship seems reminiscent of several Atlus bosses, in particular, Shinado’s form before his final form, Ancient of Days DLC content of SMT4 may have some semblance of similarity with the concept, and certain bosses from Shin Megami Tensei 2.

Wolf Children (2012)

By far, one of the best films that I’ve watched. It simply outdoes itself in its depiction of real life characters in difficult settings.

Some people may not like the Mother character due to potential perceptions that she’s a mary sue, but I could see real life cases of mother’s acting in such a happy-go-lucky manner. Part of her character is smiling and pretending to always be happy, despite difficulty. And constantly taking degrading remarks from elders could be seen as a form of what it takes to be a good parent. As sad as that sounds, it’s likely true for women who live in lower income environments. Although, I base that upon what my own mother had to go through and stories I hear of other people’s mothers who grew up in similar environments.

This film is chiefly about motherhood; the difficulties, the issues of never knowing enough to try to ameliorate the problems for one’s children, finding – often physically laboring – to create the perfect environment for them to grow up, finding the right community, teaching children to keep some of the more rambunctious behavior to themselves, and eventually accepting that your child will grow up faster than you think; to move on to other perspectives and worldviews that are beyond your control and part of your child growing into adulthood.

It’s both a bittersweet and happy resolution at the same time. That is what makes the ending of the film so satisfactory. The mother watches how, right before her eyes, her children grow and move on before she realizes it. Thus making all of the hard labor, constant research, and single-minded effort on her part worthwhile.

The film’s lengthy introduction, depicting how she met her boyfriend/husband (the film leaves it to interpretation) and their relationship before the story progresses depicts a fairly realistic response to the shock of falling in love with a wolf man. What I particularly liked was how the mother reaps the benefits of her own effort and intellectual prowess, physically building her own happiness and nurturing environment for her children without much help in the beginning, before befriending the community and building helpful relationships.

The shy, awkward, and arguably unsatisfactory (for the mother) conclusion of her relationship with her children as she is always smiling even when in emotional pain does have a sense of realism to it. Some children, especially introverts, can be awkward and rush into leaving due to not knowing what to say as they move on to their new lives. It’s bittersweet and arguably tragic, but it’s very real and very human.

To conclude, this is quite a satisfying film. I’m hesitant to give it too large of a score due to my obvious bias so I’ll give it a score of 8.9/10.

Great film, it is definitely worth watching.

Struggling Against Personal Apathy

Sometimes, it’s a struggle to fight apathy. Particularly when confronting bleak aspects of the world.

I am in the perfect position to be working on subjects of great import to me, but I find myself struggling with apathy again. I had hoped that I would no longer suffer this stupid problem but here I am, facing it again, and with no rational sense of why. Sometimes, I really don’t understand myself. I despise this self-defeating procrastination.

Perhaps it is atelophobia, that is, the fear of lacking perfection. I definitely had this problem and never properly recognized it until very recently. Maybe it’s the lack of ever following deadlines, maybe it’s this terrible nihilistic concept of how – within the grand scheme of cosmic life – it just doesn’t matter what I do, and maybe it’s the fact I always hate myself for being lazy. I had assumed punishing oneself for laziness was a positive reinforcement, yet according to Kelly McGonigal’s book “The Willpower Instinct”, this is not so. In fact, it’s utterly detrimental and it’s actually better to forgive oneself.

Unlike what most people boast, I have read through a good amount of positive psychology books on getting work done, but I always seem to fail to follow through. I’m always lacking in the step that requires self-monitoring and then the apathy sets in. Oftentimes, I just don’t feel enough to care. The apathy first began with a moral quandary, then acknowledgement over a reality that I didn’t quite like, and then wondering whether life had any significance in the grand scheme of the universe’s life cycle and the heat death of the universe.

I had been struggling with depression throughout my grade school life from fifth grade onto my early college years. The best way to describe the feeling was a detached sense of reality and lack of seeing value in what I felt were trivial and boring aspects of life. Classes, in particular, were of no value to me until I began college and could choose what I wanted. Choice, therefore, was empowering and I hadn’t been able to handle that freedom at first since it felt like every aspect of my life was decided for me. Particularly because my parents kept hounding me about how I could end-up going to juvenile prison if I didn’t strictly listen to them. A ridiculous argument born out of fear and paranoia from the national news and my father’s job, I had never once committed a crime or even attempted anything of the sort. I was always an attentive student and the only real problems were lack of self-respect and inability to deal with failure. My parents are great for financial support, but they’re damn stupid with dealing with anything related to either difficulty or empathizing with people outside of their own paranoid worldview. Admittedly, I probably have aspects of their personality, or perhaps the whole personality, and just don’t recognize it. But, to be perfectly frank, I really despise this part of my life and these tendencies of both my parents. The high school wasn’t all that different either. The high school was either extremely strict or extremely lax in administering regulations and there was never a sensible middle ground. Fights would break out practically every week during my Junior year in high school, the graduation ended in a massive fight with eight police cars coming in to stop the mass violence (at least, by my count before I left), and I was never able to express myself without scorn or derision or paranoia by the faculty when trying to convince them that I wasn’t going to harm people in the school.

I had written an essay related to a scholarship I had hoped to win. Participating in the essay ended-up being one of the worst decisions of my life. After 3 months with no answer, I suddenly got a response 3 days after the Virginia Tech massacre. It came as a shock to the faculty during an emergency conference about an essay that I wrote in which they learned that someone of my skin pigmentation wasn’t a Muslim. This only helped bolster the racism of my classmates who were quick to perceive me as crazy as the essay I had written for a scholarship somehow became public knowledge within the school the very next day after the emergency meeting. As for the reason this fiasco began regarding the material in the essay? I said I was justified in hating members of the faculty for being incompetent. Now, during my high school years, I had been taught and led to believe that rules were the cornerstone of decision-making in a very advanced social process. However, these schisms and general stupidity in rule implementation throughout high school made me believe, at the time, that people in power were the only determinants of the rule-making. And for a so-called democracy, the school system of the US school I went to felt fairly authoritarian in both its theoretical reasoning and practice. Amazingly enough, in college, it was basically confirmed by a few professors that college is for those who are meant to think in a society while grade school is only meant to teach the history of a country and nothing else.

This was one of the influences for a moral quandary that I had realized. I’ve since realized the problem as a result of operant behavior within animals in general and thus a flaw, if one can even call it that, within humans. We humans have a tendency to ignore and to not perceive the tragedies within foreign countries as real. This has been somewhat lessened in influence as a result of social media, but the problem persists because, for the most part, people just pay attention to the general town that they live in and nothing else. They hold psychological biases for their in-group, in this case their country, and don’t perceive the lives of people in foreign countries as having equal value to those among their own populace. The in-group/out-group issue can serve dehumanization campaigns even of people that we do meet day-to-day, such as the current stigma against Muslims and people of Hispanic descent within the US. As I studied more political psychology, I learned the reasons why this was and I realized I couldn’t put my expectations on the general populace to simply “know better” or be knowledgeable as I am in consideration of these pertinent moral and ethical questions. That may sound patronizing but I say that simply because they honestly have no interest in such questions. Admittedly, my reasoning could be little more than pop philosophy but I try to include my readings of psychology in my examination of this geographic fact of life regarding human apathy for those who live outside one’s borders.

The most pertinent reason for my apathy, especially for all of 2013 where I could hardly bring myself to do much of anything, was the issue of drone strikes. I had happened to come upon a video of bombings thanks to Youtube’s recommendations list as a result of watching Chomsky and Chris Hedges videos. I had clicked it not fully knowing what it was and saw a collection of real life bombings caught on camera. For the following months, I woke-up with horrible migraines, chest pain, sometimes I felt like it was hard to breathe, and I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. I had been misled into believing that those bombings were drone strike videos but that wasn’t the case. It was just videos of . . .  typical bombings in different parts of the Middle East. The first time seeing them brought on a sense of overwhelming anger, hate, loathing, and revulsion. The chief emotion that kept wracking me was guilt. I realized whenever someone pays taxes, they pay into that horrific act of destruction and mass death of civilians. I tried discussing this on various forums, not knowing how else to handle it and not wanting to burden my family with it, and I mostly got shut out of various forums. In retrospect, I should have realized that would be the case. However, discussion without any videos on forums which I had never linked such content was also shut out as “trolling” because the lives of people overseas just didn’t matter to the typical US citizen. A harsh truth, but one I continued to observe whenever trying to form a serious discussion over such issues. Whenever serious discussion was met, people would either jeer at me for having compassion for people overseas or they would say that it had nothing to do with them; this is despite the fact that we recognize we’re living in an elected government by the people. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people don’t care about foreign policy or just what the US actually does overseas to other countries. It doesn’t register into their radar or even their worldview. I didn’t fully comprehend just why until reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. However, it should’ve been clear to me when thinking back on my high school years, although even then I would often think about the human power structures of the world itself.

Fortunately, I was slowly able to move on from this crippling depression and guilt, by recognizing that the decision obviously wasn’t mine, that if I could change it then I would, and that recognizing I wasn’t to blame wasn’t an attempt to say to myself that I didn’t care about the impacts of what drone strikes did when they burned alive innocent men, women, and children who had nothing to do with terrorism. Even to this day, it amazes me how we US citizens can argue that Islam is the problem, meanwhile we pay taxes for a drone program that is now bombing and flaying alive innocent people in seven different countries; a fact that we conveniently ignore while touting ourselves as morally superior and ignore how our complacency with such a program continues to create massive terrorist insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Moreover, what are people who see news of their own country and neighboring countries with wreckages from drone bombings suppose to think of us? They would constantly be bombarded with images of people with the same ethnic background as themselves and the same faith as themselves suffering from horrific injuries or seeing the general destruction of such bombings; what are they suppose to think of us? This has had real world consequences, like the revolution in Yemen to oust their country’s leaders.

The last, and probably most normal, of issues related to procrastination and depression, was wondering what significance my life has when I consider the heat death of the universe. Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence helps sometimes but not always. I eventually pulled through and pushed past this one by recognizing the reality that, even if heat death is certain, this is still my life and I should try to maximize my life satisfaction because it is still my experiences. It isn’t wrong to live for personal self-fulfillment but I always struggle with the first step of just pushing forward, it’s always been a struggle for me to do work when I don’t feel like it. I’m not sure how to adequately handle that aspect of beginning a project. I can’t “push through”, I can’t “trick myself”, and I can’t “just do it” as none of those work. The latter, in particular, is shown not to work in psychological studies. I try breaking it up into steps but then procrastinate by reading or watching TV. I think the issue is Atelophobia. I’ll try to remind myself of the Growth mindset as I seem to forget at the most important of moments, but I’m just not sure anymore . .  .

If anyone has any advice, feel free to give me tips on this issue.

Bakemono no Ko

An anime film that is worth the watch. I felt as if some of the storyline was generic but the method in which the story occurs makes it unique enough to be interesting.

Some parts, like the relationship the main character has with the love interest, is rather melodramatic. But this film portrays a Master-Student/Quasi-Step Father – Stepson relationship really well.

The characterization of the bear, Kumatetsu, is well portrayed and believable. Kyuuta’s character development, albeit somewhat generic, is engaging enough for the film.

The story’s overall themes of bonding and moving forward by oneself is probably the best aspect of the film. It carries this theme extremely well with all of the characters. It seems to be in favor of Kumatetsu’s honest, straightforward, and blunt parenting compared to his rival’s hesitant and well-meaning parenting that didn’t seem to help one of his children grow into becoming self-reliant and having a strong sense of identity.

Despite Kyuuta’s identity crisis, he’s shown to be able to overcome it, partly thanks to his love interest, and mostly from his positive and blunt style of upbringing. Despite the hiccups along the rode, Kyuuta is better able to handle the real world because of his sense of identity.

Without spoiling it, the conclusion of Kyuuta and Kumatetsu’s relationship is allegorical to moving on after a parent has left and seems to be meant to parallel Kyuuta’s younger self in the beginning of the film when his mother died and he began to hate everyone in his life.

However, one major drawback of the film, for those who don’t understand Japanese cultural themes, is that much of the allegory and cultural significance of the film is lost on outside audiences who may simply conclude “it’s magic” when viewing the film. But there seems to be strong cultural symbolism to Japanese folklore within the film, that the film itself presumes the viewer may already be knowledgeable about. But this isn’t necessarily a damning point because the intended audience is obviously Japanese people and those with the cultural understanding of Japan.

Overall, I would rate this film a 7.7/10. Definitely worth the watch.