Captain Marvel Film Review (2019)

Note: Ignore the hate, this film is a solid entry into the MCU. This review is Spoiler-Free.

I haven’t paid attention to the hate, but from what a friend has told me there’s this general consensus from some people that the film tries to push a political agenda. Going into the film with two other friends, this was his expectation and after watching the film, both of us were confused. The origin story was a fairly solid story arc that was not really different from other story arcs. There was no plot holes or confusing portions either. The Captain Marvel film is a great addition to the MCU and definitely worth watching.

The entire cast does an amazing performance throughout the film. There is no portion that seems exaggerated or unbelievable. And unlike usual Marvel film trends, this film does humor in a balanced and hilarious way with intense action scenes. When scenes are emotional and seem to be threatening the safety of the cast, there’s no forced humor or gaffes that ruin the intense moment. Brie Larson makes a solid performance throughout the film and she does great with what the writing staff gave her. The only really negative portion for me was that we didn’t really get more of Captain Marvel’s personality as either her superhero self or as Carol Denvers. This is not Brie Larson’s fault, but rather the lack of material given to express herself. In fact, all of the side characters felt great and seem to radiate emotion from each scene, but Carol Denvers, despite being the main character, doesn’t seem to get this as much. There’s just this vague “she’s strong” motif but nothing else. This is not to say she is a poor character or that she has no motives or emotions. It just seems like the writing staff didn’t express a definitive personality for her character and Brie Larson was picking up their slack by being as evocative, witty, and emotionally impactful as possible with the vague character that she was given.

Some argue she’s overpowered, but Marvel has had this issue with Thor and even Ironman too. I suspect we’ll see Captain Marvel’s weakness when she faces Thanos in Avengers: Engdame.

Overall, the film gets a 8.5/10 from me. Definitely check it out, if you haven’t already.

Red Line (2009) Review

Red Line gives the full experience of a rush with its intense racing moments and puts you at the edge of your seat throughout it all. The Yellow Line race and Red Line race completely take the cake with the amazing experience of this film because they keep you invested for both races. This film succeeds in delivery, characterization, worldbuilding, and the fantasy Sci-fi elements of the story. It really did blow me away. In particular, I really like the character build-up for the two main characters, JP and Sonoshee from their conversations, to their background motivations, and to their goals. The story keeps it engaging enough that I felt I was rooting for both characters during the Red Line race and felt mixed feelings about either one of them losing the Red Line race as the set-up was being shown to the viewer.

The worldbuilding for why the upcoming Red Line will be particularly dangerous compared to its previous races and the government responses felt surprisingly well-written and believable. The film stunned me with its brilliant use of using what felt like realistic politics to then offer some of the most hilarious and fast-paced action sequences from the use of such politics. It had explosive twists in the literal sense of the term within the context of the story and I felt it was done surprisingly well. Each of the background characters have their own goals and motivations so none of the actions feel contrived at all. Most importantly, there’s no stereotypical bad guy in the race so nothing within the race is meant to fit a boring narrative of fighting evil. Nothing is taken away from the utter rush of the Red Line race. I had expected some forced plot point to ruin the flow of the film, but it never happened. Instead, there was a really good and often subtle worldbuilding that offered a massive punch within the framework of the main plot. It was absolutely worth it! The film uses these serious backgrounds and build-ups for some of the most stunning and hilarious Sci-fi conflicts in an intergalactic race. This film is simply Sci-fi speed racing done completely right. The enjoyment of watching the racers go into death-defying speeds of madness are equally as pleasurable to watch alongside government military interventions sending massive armies, insane weapons, and crazy secret weapons at them and unexpectedly opening up dangerous areas that result in increasingly insane stunts and actions within the races. The danger feels real throughout it all as you do see many of the racers pummeled and some even die in shocking ways during the Red Line as you watch each racer relish in the rush of their death-defying madness with the full support of the audience.

The entire film builds up to a berserk race where it’ll be impossible to keep track of everything going on with all the racers, but that’s part of the pleasure of watching the film. The insane maneuvers to overcome each other, heart pumping extreme speeds to outdo each other through extra throttling power, attacks against each other to be in the top spot for the finish line, facing down an government’s entire military to complete the race, and the constant back and forth of car smashes and banter to create a riveting intensity as they all risk everything to win. I honestly loved the entire experience from beginning to end. And, from a simple plot with all its worldbuilding and arguably a cliche ending, I couldn’t help but love it. The build-up and payoff were done so well for the end of the film that I was stunned and happy by the ending because of how the sci-fi elements, the character development, the worldbuilding, and the heart thumping race itself intertwined so smoothly for such a satisfying ending.

 

A 10/10 score for this film from me.

Ninja Scroll (1993) Review

The film begins relatively strongly and I enjoyed watching it for the most part. The setting is full of gratuitous violence, rape scenes (in the first 9 minutes of the film, no less), and the setting itself comprises of a fantasy samurai period in a similar manner in which Western writers depict settings of magical medieval Europe seen throughout most Fantasy novels and Western films. Samurai and ninja have magical abilities that make them stronger and able to commit otherwise impossible actions. There’s no bellowing of attack names as its just two different sides using powers to kill each other.

The general plot is this Ninja named Jubei getting manipulated by a government spy to fight against a group secretly working to reinstate a fallen Clan, take down the Tokugawa Shogunate (the main government in power), and re-establish their lost glory as an empire. The enemies that Jubei faces have interesting powers and its always engaging to see him and this Ninja working on behalf of another clan, Kagore, fight against these eight different powerful fighters and their unique powers. Its full of gore and nudity, but not without a reason. Even the horrible rape scene contains an important story element that surprised me. The unorthodox ways people use their powers and how many of them, in the context of the narrative, realistically do so because of how fast a person can lose their life in combat is always engaging for the audience. This film doesn’t disappoint in mindless action and violence and the narrative behind the reasons is solid. Each of the main cast has a believable motivation.

Unfortunately, the narrative starts to fall apart by the end. Jubei, while somewhat interesting, isn’t enough to carry the narrative to keep the audience’s attention. He’s okay, but not great. Kagore, the female ninja, is the only character to have any realistic character development, show any semblance of worry or doubt about her positions in society and her ability to accomplish her tasks, and it is genuinely fascinating watching her character as she navigates through a sexist culture where she follows the orders of a Lord as per her commitment as a ninja even when this Lord blatantly has sex with a woman in front of her with no respect given to Kagore or the woman he’s openly having sex with. He doesn’t care how unnerving or inappropriate it is to attempt to have a conversation about a military attack while having sex. Kagore seems to attempt to hold a strong demeanor in a man’s world with her feeling survivor’s guilt from surviving her team getting massacred, to her self-loathing at her own abilities in comparison to her desire to prove herself, and her personal revulsion at what she has to put her body through to kill her enemies due to her unique powers.

Sadly, this narrative and rather intriguing character almost totally falls apart near the end with a nonsensical love plot and the focus being on her wanting to be treated for her femininity and not a desire for equality which completely counters the entire narrative of the beginning all the way to near the end. It’s possible the person stating these things about her is completely lying, but I didn’t get that impression. The finale centers around Jubei and some guy we only vaguely know from his past who has an insane secret ability. The ending honestly felt like a standard hollywood script compared to the relatively interesting beginning to near the end of the film. Overall, I think it is worth a watch for anyone interested in it.

8.5/10.

Royal Space Force / Wings of Honneamise (1987) Review

Note: Spoilers for the film will be below. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM.

This film is one of the most boring wastes of time that I’ve ever had the displeasure of looking into. I checked it out upon a recommendation of interesting anime films, some of which I had already watched and held highly favorable opinions of, but this film is worthless crap.

There were some mildly interesting portions with the main character recognizing he’s part of a corrupt system, but the plot twist to his gallant actions towards a priestess that he likes and his motivation for pushing the Space Force to complete the project despite monumental hurdles is that he wanted to impress and have sex with the priestess. He acts out commercialized and scripted events in the media to bolster the popularity of the project at the behest of his higher-ups, but its heavily inferred – and arguably explicitly stated – that his motivation for all of this is to fuck the priestess that he personally knows. The public has a sense of mystery and wonder about his motivations; his pilot associates view him in awe despite thinking he’s also an idiot about important political matters. The constant training montages that are re-cut and utterly boring as most of this film is him going on spiels about his boring, disinterested views while you see shots of people working hard building a plane or a spaceship. All of this is for a disgusting shock twist when he tries to rape the priestess. The priestess understands he’s famous and she’s a poor beggar who needs his fame to grow her Church so she “seeks his forgiveness” showing how utterly vapid her faith is and how the “lunkhead” personality is actively dangerous because he thinks that he’s entitled to her body and to rape her however he pleases — only to act like the typical goofball after the horrid encounter the next day. And, honestly, I’m not sure if the girl’s response is portrayed realistically or not. From the standpoint of her situation, her actions make sense, but I would have liked a scene with her alone to show if there was a difference with how she felt about the wannabe-rapist main character.

The final portions of this dull, boring mess of crap is following the idiotic religious prophecy with him going into the stars as a war is going on. It’s absolutely boring. Despite being the main purpose, I was bored out of my mind for this entire trainwreck of a film. What could have been an interesting conclusion about venturing to space is utterly ruined with this potential rapist spewing a sermon about how humanity does wrong, needs forgiveness, and conducts a prayer so that the “evil humanity” doesn’t ruin space. It was disgusting. The shock twist of his attempted rape of the priestess seems to just be there to be a shock to the audience more than not, as his motives could have been changed to literally anything else. You could still make him a horrible person and imply it in subtle ways. It’s arguable that this film did attempt to do that, but if so it was done poorly. His personality was one of apathy to the suffering around him, but then they change him into an outright attempted rapist near the end. As a result, the final scene of a boring monotone with prayer is incongruous with both the twist and the build-up of his horrible personality. I hated this film and I don’t recommend ever watching it. Trust me when I say that it’s likely a waste of your time.

2/10.

Thus Spake Zarathustra Review

He who said ‘God is a Spirit’—made the greatest stride and slide hitherto made on earth towards unbelief: such a dictum is not easily amended again on earth!” – Thus Spake; Zarathustra,  Chapter LXXVIII: The Ass-Festival. Thomas Common translation.

Nietzsche’s philosophical novel was an amazing read. At the time I began to read it, I hadn’t really been captivated by a novel since the Harry Potter series (which I love) and I found most fantasy stories to be really boring. I had first become familiar with it after reading a philosophical analysis of one of my favorite video games, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. I knew Nocturne was conveying some philosophy, but I didn’t know what at the time. I discovered Nocturne is a spiritual re-telling of certain portions of the novel.

I didn’t expect much at the time, it was mostly curiosity in relation to the game. I suspected that I’d find it boring. To my surprise, it was initially quite a laughable read. Zarathustra is humiliated in front of a crowd whom he tries to speak with as equals. The crowds throughout the novel are always seen as hateful and resentful of anything outside of their small town or village community, they resent and fear any change to better themselves, and spend their days not having a clear opinion on what they want from life or any direction on how they seek to motivate their own improvement, but rather live in indolence seeking only self-gratification and nothing else. This is one of the recurring themes of the novel when Zarathustra travels. Zarathustra seeks to be honest with himself and philosophizes his views, but doing so means he’s ridiculed, ostracized, and labeled dangerous for criticizing core beliefs that are held as sacrosanct. People just don’t want to listen to him and instead make spurious personal attacks based upon the most haphazard of claims.

Nevertheless, the beginning portion goes from particularly inspiring with his evocative words about teaching people of the Ubermensch in the beginning of the novel to a bizarre sort of tragicomedy immediately after. Zarathustra speaks to a crowd that doesn’t wish to understand him and instead ask him about the Last Man which he warns about; the Last Man being the aforementioned indolent dweller who doesn’t care about anything but self-gratification. The tightrope walker falls off from their circus act and severely injures himself which scares the crowd into fleeing. Nobody from the crowd helps the dying tightrope walker except Zarathustra who listens to his dying request to be buried. Zarathustra takes his body, which people in other parts of the village use as shortsighted “evidence” to accuse Zarathustra of grave-robbing, and leaves it up a tree to avoid wolves eating the dead man’s flesh. He sits down and gets absorbed into his own thoughts for awhile before leaving the dead body in the tree. I had laughed at this at first because Zarathustra clearly misunderstood the man’s request and didn’t really follow through with it despite convincing himself that he had. It was really peculiar and apart from being comical, I don’t see much on what that specific scenario was meant to convey. By contrast, the chapter immediately after about making good habits was immediately clear and brought back the interest.

Throughout his journey, Zarathustra extols some very interesting perspectives, but it’s always with the pernicious culture of vitriol and hatred for his teachings by various small town or small village communities who refuse to engage and don’t care to change their habits. Zarathustra points out that people prefer simplistic narratives of good and evil based on their culture or community instead of evaluating right and wrong for themselves. This is particularly evident in religious cultures. They claim to be about their own justice and goodness, but put their brains to sleep when faced with corruption or just blame humanity in general instead of fighting back against such corrupt individuals and corrupt institutions. He guides the reader into asking, if these religious teachings of your community are truly so moral and wonderful, if their values are universally correct as your religion might claim them to be, then why doesn’t it stop abusive behavior from happening? And on the charge of blaming humanity in general when they fail, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra argues that this is responding to genuine criticisms with pure hatred. Theologians and the herd who argue that humans will always be violent or abusive by nature in this circular reasoning argument that “humans are humans” are actually expressing pure hatred for humanity. It doesn’t challenge or confront people who harm you or who harm those you love, it’s just a way of throwing away an argument by refusing to listen and instead opting for a nihilistic hatred for all of humanity as a sort of divine answer.

His criticisms of religion, which are his most salient and paradoxically his most ignored contentions, seem to have gone completely unchallenged. I’ve looked for critiques online and nobody mentions his criticisms on religion. In fact, when I join Nietzsche groups online (which usually have 2000+ members) and begin discussing his criticisms of religion, I am immediately banned from such groups. So-called Nietzsche fans like saying that he contradicted himself or didn’t really say anything, but no one ever seems to be aware or brings up his criticisms of religion. So-called readers of Nietzsche never once speak of it. The closest I’ve seen to an honest critique is Alain de Bottom and a lecture video by Jordan Peterson in one of his classes. By contrast, Christian theologians are notoriously dishonest; repeatedly claiming Nietzsche said things that he never did. I even read an online book in which the author cited Nietzsche by cutting out half the words in a aphorism to claim Nietzsche said something that he never advocated for. I’ve seen Nietzsche quotes pages on facebook full of quotes that Nietzsche never once wrote. Most other scholars of Nietzsche, even on Quora, seem to have read critiques of Nietzsche but never Nietzsche’s actual works. They don’t read to form their opinions on Nietzsche, they read criticisms of Nietzsche and believe those criticisms to be absolute fact and never bother to actually read Nietzsche. Some might argue its due to the confusion over Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche appropriating his works for her Nazi ideologies, Heidegger’s own appropriation in which he created a Strawman, or perhaps the strawman delusions of Bertrand Russell; but in all honesty, these sorts of strawman depictions exist for every famous person. Even the US Founding Fathers are constantly misinterpreted. I think what underlies all this confusion is the human capacity of heuristics. People believe they can judge and know everything about a single human being from a few short excerpts and judge their entire life based on a few short sentences they read. This does have evolutionary benefits like spotting really dangerous people like Adolf Hitler, but it can be misused and people can be manipulated into seeing hatred, dishonesty, or evil from people who want to criticize bad beliefs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi seem more like exceptions than the rule, where the character assassinations against them eventually backfired. But for people criticizing ideas without civil disobedience or in a context where civil disobedience isn’t a factor, it becomes much harder to be listened to from others.

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