Like my mixed feelings about Angelina Jolie, I have mixed feelings about Maleficent. Jolie is a gifted actress and uses her fame to try to make the world a better place, but I'm still a little icked out by how she and Brad Pitt got together, screwing over Jennifer Aniston in the process. (To the extent that I think about those people at all, which really isn't that much). With Maleficient, Disney's live action re-envisioning of the Sleeping Beauty tale, it turns the truly terrifying villain of Sleeping Beauty and turns her into an anti-hero, forced into her villainy by betrayal and brute physical assault, with the removal of Maleficent's faerie wings a clear metaphor for rape. But the point of the story is not Maleficent's evil but how she was truly good under it all and how Aurora, through her goodness and pureness and a touch of the sapphic, brings a happy, alternate ending to the faerie tale. The movie just doesn't commit fully to anything, though. That the handsome prince isn't important is a nice touch, sure, and I loved the dragon - but the real villain is so one dimensional, the rules of magic in this world are conflicting (Maleficent can levitate and toss around soldiers but she can't do it to herself?), and everything is just all that damn CGI. The best part is Jolie, who commits to the role and who, even under the horns and the prosthetic cheekbones, provides the true heart of this lightweight movie: when she awakens to find her wing-ectomy, the scream she gives is truly terrible and heartrending, and not your typical Disney fare.
Don't eff with Maleficent
Yes, that's the original Disney Sleeping Beauty dragon,
I'm a fan of some of Neil Marshall's movies - new(ish) horror classics The Descent and Dog Soldiers - and I like brutal period hack-and-slash movies. But somehow, Marshall's Centurion just didn't quite work. I guess there needs to be more than just disembowlings and head-crushings to make a battle/survival flick work.
More's the pity, because Centurion had an above-average cast, including Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones's Davos Seaworth), Imogen Poots and Noel Clark (Mickey Smith, Rose's boyfriend from Doctor Who). The nutshell story follows a small cohort of Roman soldiers, stranded on the northern frontier of the Empire after bloodthirsty Picts decimate their legion. It is up to Fassbender's centurion to lead the remaining men through rough country to the safety of the Roman garrison to the south. The Picts send revenge-obsessed tracker Etain (Kurylenko) after them with a group of warriors and the Romans' safe return is anything but guaranteed.
Marshall has a deft hand with action sequences - that's not in question. But Centurion's characters are thinly drawn and there's just nothing special about the story unfolding on the screen. The Descent was also about a group of people in challenging terrain trying to get away from relentless, chasing killers and that is a much, much better movie.
Is it utter Marvel blasphemy to admit that I liked Ant-Man better than Avengers: Age of Ultron? Because I did. I enjoyed the smaller focus and the lighter tone. I liked how funny it was - with John Pena stealing every scene he was in. I liked checking in with Peggy Carter and the Falcon. I loved Scott Lang's affection for the ants (Antony!) and the glee he had with what he was able to do. I liked Evangeline Lily's cranky-pants. I thought the toy train fight scene was lots of fun. And I just like Paul Rudd. My biggest complaint? You make Rudd work so hard to get that fit and you only have that ONE scene with him shirtless? FOR SHAME.
I finally saw Inside Out last night and while I can understand why everyone is just SO IN LOVE WITH THIS MOVIE, I myself didn't love it. I'm not being contrary (well, maybe I am being contrary). I thought the voice actors were particularly well cast, I loved the world-building the filmmakers had done with the control room and the personality islands and long-term storage, I thought it was very, very clever and even informative. I just prefer more PLOT in my movies. I'm a plot junky. The twistier, turnier, more complex a plot a film or show or book has, the better. Inside Out is just a little light on plot, that's all. Don't hate.
Part of the problem here is that I haven't been reading very much. Over the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, I've been working through a lot of my lunches. Since I do the bulk of my reading during work lunches, this has really cut into my page count. Now that the holidays are over, I should be picking some books back up.
This brings me to another problem: what to read. I'm sort of in the mood to catch up on all the Neil Gaiman that I haven't read yet. But I'm also watching Syfy's The Expanse and so now want to go back to that series, rereading the two I've already read (Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War) and then go on to the rest of them. And I also want to go back and reread the first two books of the Millenium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire), go on to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and then finish with The Girl in the Spider's Web, by David Lagercrantz, which continues the series and which I received for Christmas.
Watching-wise, I'm enjoying The Expanse, although half the time I'm wracking my brain, trying to remember what happened in the books. I certainly like it better than Syfy's miniseries Childhood's End, which I found a little disjointed, dropping and picking up characters willynilly. I am all caught up with Sherlock and have just one episode to go with Master of None, which I have really enjoyed (the episode "Mornings" is an entire, sweet, well-done, intelligent, funny, heartfelt rom-com in and of itself). I've got just a couple more episodes of S4 of Game of Thrones (that fight between the Mountain and the Viper!) and I'm still loving Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. And then there's television coming back, and the return of Agent Carter and Better Call Saul, and OMG the return of TheX-Files ...
At least I should be able to consume enough to merit some more regular posting soon.
I read, ski, drink good beer, go to matinees by myself, honestly believe that the DVR is the world's greatest invention, burn dinner for Mr. Mouse on a semi-regular basis and watch more horror films than I think I do. I like puppies and kittens and baby bunnies and bacon and sunshine and the mountains of Utah and chocolate banana malted milkshakes and puppies and chick flicks (no, not chick flicks) and surprises and classic Mustangs and did I say puppies already? I like sarcasm and snark and tend to have a glass-half-empty view of life because when things turn out, I'm pleasantly surprised. I also like puppies.