Why Superhero Fatigue Is Nonsense (With Zombies!)

Superhero fatigue” seems all the rage among some, but it’s a dubious concept at best, and easily disproven.  Reason being, if superhero fatigue were a thing, it would have been proceeded by ‘zombie fatigue.’

Look at the 2013’s World War Z, the Brad Pitt-starrer that was for awhile looking like the Fantastic Four of its time.

Except that it wasn’t, and despite a $190 million budget it went on to earn over $500 million and spawn a sequel.  And zombies haven’t only been successful in movies.

And speaking of zombies, whether or not they shamble (as God and Romero intended) or run despite the fact that their muscles should have atrophied as much as their bodies have, they clearly aren’t going anywhere.

AMC’s The Walking Dead has not only spawned a spinoff, Fear The WalkIng Dead, but the show continues to be a ratings behemoth for the cable network.

And for the life of me, I don’t quite understand it.  Where I used to work I was the first person to sing its praises (I didn’t have cable, so I purchased the first season via iTunes) and introduced it to anyone that would listen.  The fifth season has recently turned up on Netflix, and I have been watching that too, and its pretty good.

Though what it’s also, is relatively one-note in that while the cast may change, very little about the series itself does.  Not really,

Screenshot 2015-09-28 08.42.08

The scene above, from season 5, episode 10, Them possessed a bit of gallows humor the series sorely misses on a regular basis.

Though there are relatively rare instances when it rises above its humble origins, like in the picture above, though that’s the exception because, except in relatively rare situations, the series refuses to embrace the absurdity of the situation.  It’s as if the writers and directors have a mandate (like the one DC Entertainment supposedly has toward humor), and that mandate is that things will be as grim, as relentlessly bleak, as possible.

And I understand that.  After all, the series exists in a world were dying isn’t quite what it used to be.  The thing is, what the series misses–a lot–is that there’s humor to be found in the bleakest situations.

So, The Walking Dead has lasted over six seasons and shows no sign of slowing down and consistently remains one of the highest rated shows on television, while also being, sometimes literally, a pretty grim slog.

So if a series as repetitive–though admittedly enjoyable (in a end-of-the-world hopeless kind of way) as The Walking Dead–can not only grow, but thrive, then I expect that superheroes, be they in movies or on television, will as well.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Teaser Trailer

The latest teaser trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones is perhaps one of the best trailers I have seen–for anything–in a long while.

And while some might think that that’s hyperbole, take a look at it, and you’ll see what i mean.  So much information about Jones is given in a very short span of time, which is impressive.  You can tell that she lives in a small apartment, she’s flirting with alcoholism, is a bit of slob, has a problem with rules (no one sets their alarm at 9AM when there’s no pressing need to do so) has superpowers, and parties pretty hard.

All of that just from a camera panning across her room for a few seconds.

I have seen whole television series that have had less character development.

Jessica Jones – Trailer

The trailer for Netflix’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones has just dropped, and it’s very psychedelic and…purple.  I assume that that has a lot to do with the influence of the Purple Man (David Tennant) on Jessica Jones. He’s a character that has the ability to control people’s actions (if I recall, due to pheromones or some such thing).

I like how the Netflix series are making the characters more grounded, while keeping the traits that made them so distinctive from the comics.  For instance, in the comics the Purple Man is literally purple, which might not go over too well with the feel that Netflix and Marvel are seeking.

Instead he dresses in purple, which accomplishes the same purpose, while keeping the character realistic enough for those that  have never seen him before, while at the same time cluing in fans of the comic who he is in a way that’s like a homage.

The Visual Effects of Marvel’s Daredevil

Daredevil openingWatching Netflix’s Daredevil, you’d probably be surprised to learn that a lot of the scenes that you thought were practical were actually digital.  For instance, the scene where Daredevil jumps from a window into the Hudson River?  Digital.

The fight between the titular hero and the red ninja in episode 9 – “Speak of the Devil“?  A lot of that was CGI as well (particularly Daredevil’s wounds and blood spatter).

I tend to be on the lookout for such things, yet I didn’t notice any of it which is a good reminder that CGI can be unobtrusive as well as bombastic.

Click here for an interview with Bryan Godwin, CEO and Executive VFX Supervisor for Shade VFX, the company that provided all the visual effects for Netflix’s Daredevil.

Ejecta – Review

Ejecta movie poster

“The Darker Side of Close Encounters.”

Tony Burgess’ Ejecta is at heart a tale about hubris, the variety of which that says Man is the center of the universe, couched in a story about a conspiracy theorist, who’s niche is aliens.

William Cassidy (Julian Richings, a pretty well-known character actor) typically looks gaunt to the point of being skeletal, which makes his casting almost perfect.

What’s not so good is that Ejecta also, for the most part, relies on found-footage tropes to accomplish its purpose, which is not a good thing, especially when the movie would have been better served by a more traditional narrative.

In this instance it’s either the recollection of Cassidy–who essentially being tortured through the entire movie–or video monitors of a shadowy government agency in charge of alien retrieval.  The found-footage-like stuff almost immediately takes you out of the movie, though if that weren’t bad enough, a lot of it is done in shaky-cam, which is equal parts irritating and frustrating.

The government operatives from the beginning are played not only extremely unsympathetically, but sadistically so, which does the movie no favors because–as you’ll see later–the aliens and their tactics aren’t exactly E.T.-inspired.

And I have nothing against movies that depict humans being on the wrong side of the cosmic coin, but it shouldn’t necessarily be made it quite so obvious that that’s the case because you end up rooting for the aliens, which I am not quite sure was the intent of the filmmakers.

Another thing is that Ejecta is relatively low budget, which came to my attention mainly during scenes when the soldiers were movie through the complex, which looked suspiciously like an abandoned building.  All that would have been necessary to elevate the look would have been to slap a new coat of paint on the walls.

Ejecta is on Netflix but be warned, not only are we not alone, YOU are not alone.

Goodnight Mommy – Trailer

For awhile France was the place to go for innovative horror (and where directors like Alexandre Aja and Xavier Gens hail), now it seems that there’s been a shift to Australia.  Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead is currently on Netflix, and it’s pretty clever–in terms of where it takes zombie horror, not so much in terms of visuals.

And Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s Goodnight Mommy looks to continue the trend.

Visually, the movie reminds me of Funny Games (for some reason) and revolves around two twin boys.  Their mother returns to their remote home (which is good for chasing your kids for prolonged periods, due to the isolation) to recover from plastic surgery on her face, and the boys aren’t too sure she’s actually their mother.

When I originally heard the synopsis, I thought that it was a case of the twins being bat-shite crazy (like Dead Ringers with little kids), and their mother spending most of the movie fleeing, though if the trailer is at all accurate, the boys may be on to something.

The Living – Review

“The Ties The Bind Are Nurtured By Blood”

Jack Bryan‘s The Living is a pretty impressive thriller that revolves around a man, Teddy (a virtually unrecognizable Fran Kranz, Cabin in The Woods) who after a night of drinking beats his wife, Molly (Jocelin Donahue).

He had no memory of it happening, but Molly’s bruised and bloody face speaks for itself.

It’s not said explicitly, but it seems that this was not the first time that he had hit his wife.  So her mother, Angela (Joelle Carter), and brother, Gordon (Kenny Wormald), are fed-up, and respond in desperate and unexpected ways, setting in motions events that move rapidly beyond their control.

What works especially well is that the biggest names are Kranz (who’s nothing like the character he plays in Woods) and Chris Mulkey, neither of whom are exactly household names.  This is a benefit because, in such a small, almost intimate story there aren’t any stars big enough to pull viewers out of the movie, would which would probably be the case if we were watching Tom Cruise or Charlize Theron, for example.

If you’re looking for a taut, well-acted thriller you could certainly do worse than The Living.

The Living is currently on Netflix, because some people will do anything for family.