Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the Monkey’s Paw of movies (Review)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is almost a great movie that hurts from trying to be Iron Man 2. 

At the time of watching BvS, I was coming off of disliking Man of Steel very much. I had no real excitement for this movie other than the fact we were getting Ben Affleck as Batman and that Batman was going to be a main part of this movie. I didn’t really agree with the direction they were taking, by giving us a combo movie before giving us a proper Superman sequel, but on the other hand I did see it as a kind of pseudo Superman sequel. I’m watching the trailers, I did have a little bit of excitement because it seemed like they were actually taking the story in an interesting direction that made sense, but I was more worried about the subtitle “Dawn of Justice”. It could have meant a lot of things and in this case it meant exactly what I didn’t want it to. Originally I halfway liked this movie, and rewatching it I always find myself watching the extended cut which does feel like a better movie overall. In this review I won’t be discussing the differences between the theatrical and extended editions, I will be reviewing only the extended edition because that’s the version I watched prior to writing this. 

A quick side note here, there’s a cool scene that I actually really like when Clark goes up to the top of a mountain and has a conversation with Johnathan Kent. Obviously it’s not a real conversation but rather a conversation he has through his own memory of his father. It’s meaningful and really works by giving us a great moment between these two characters. I bring this up because if any of you reading this really like this scene then just remember, a very similar version of this is done in The Rise of Skywalker between Ben and Han. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie overall, the scene really works for me in that movie too. Just keep that in mind if you weren’t entirely aware. 

Back to the rest of the movie. I actually appreciated how they set up the main story by giving us the battle between Superman and Zod but from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. They also set it up in a way that makes it feel as if the battle was a terrorist attack in the vein of 9/11. Now this is entirely fictional of course and you can’t compare the two, but it was definitely the feeling they were trying to get across by showing the events from ground level. I love that it doesn’t take long for us to sympathize with Bruce Wayne and where his motivation to take down Superman came from, but I also don’t like the decision. 

Of course not everyone is going to look at Superman the way that we have in all of the previous feature films, but it seemed a little earlier in their “DC Universe” to make him out as a bad guy. Now this is only coming from a personal perspective of me not feeling like it was the best idea. With that said, how they embraced going into this direction works perfectly. Everything is set up the right way in which the world looks at him both as a villain and as a god in some people’s eyes. It really does a fantastic job of giving us a realistic approach to how our current world would perceive somebody with the powers he has and I applaud them for that. 

The problem is that it never really gives Clark a chance to be human. Of course he has emotional moments where he feels the pain of having to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he honestly doesn’t get time to do a whole lot. We just see him sulking and being pushed around by the public and then eventually being attacked by Batman. He has no real development through this story. You can argue that he does and I can see certain points where you might be right but overall I feel like his purpose is to just be there for the sake of Lex and Batman. He only shows a real importance when the final battle comes around. 

Speaking of Batman, this is easily one of my favorite versions of this character in live action. He’s a veteran of crime fighting and where’s the scars on his sleeve. You can feel the pain that he has been through yet it’s hard to really grasp since we haven’t actually seen some of the instances he’s hurting from. Outside of that though, he does give us one of the most brutal versions of the character and I mean that in a good way. The fight choreography with him at any given time is absolutely stunning and brutal. I keep saying brutal because it almost seems very violent and angry when he’s knocking down bad guys. Not too violent of course but possibly the most violent we’ve seen Batman. They also do the best job of making us feel the terror that is Batman. It actually makes us feel what the bad guys feel when they see him. There’s a specific scene early on when he’s hiding up in the corner of a room and it’s terrifying for a moment as you realize it’s him. Also his costume is by far the best on screen costume we’ve had and that includes the badass desert nightmare costume. 

This brings me to my first real significant negative point. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor absolutely does not in any way work for me in the slightest. Look, I really like Eisenberg as an actor, but the version of Lex we got is absolutely annoying and irritating every time he’s on screen. I understand the version they were going for and I can see a way that it could have worked, but man I cannot get it out of my head how much I dislike this character. Everything with him makes sense and his plan is a very Lex Luthor type of plan that on the surface works, but it’s the character himself that I can’t ignore disliking as much as I do.

With all of this, we finally get to the confrontation of Batman and Superman for the big fight. There was of course a small interaction between the two prior to the big fight, but it’s the big fight that matters most. Batman does his Batman thing and comes up with a way to defeat Superman which is badass. The fight itself is badass despite me not being a huge fan of the mechanical suit that Batman wears. I understand why he has it and why it’s necessary of course, but I would have much rather seen a version where they could think of a way to keep him in his normal suit. The fight goes on and I’m loving it, but then the rest of the plot comes into play and ruins the whole movie. They have to get to the “Dawn of Justice” part after just getting into the “Batman v Superman” part and so they need a transition. They needed a way to stop the two from fighting and having them team up instead. This brings us to the famous “Martha” moment. 

Now look, I could probably write a whole piece about why I hate the “Martha” scene but I’m not going to go into it that much. I have seen and read many things regarding how the scene makes sense, but hey, if it doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t work and this scene is one of the worst things to happen to the movie. The name Martha clearly is important to both Clark and Bruce and eventually leads Bruce to stop fighting and join up with Superman in the fantastic “Dawn of Justice” portion of the movie. I understand why the name affects Bruce, but up to that point his character wasn’t going to allow anything getting in the way of him completing his mission to defeat Superman. The only reason why this name works in stopping Batman is because 1. They don’t want Batman killing him and 2. They need to get to the Iron Man 2 portion of the movie. 

If you’re not familiar with what I mean by Iron Man 2 portion of the movie, it basically means that it’s a part in the movie where the main plot is pushed aside for the sake of setting up their larger universe. And in this case, I believe it’s done worse than Iron Man 2. Up to this point and right before the “Martha” scene I was actually really enjoying the movie despite not liking Lex. There was enough up to that point to make me think this movie was actually pretty good, but then they decided to ruin the whole thing by going from a grounded and emotional story into a world destroying epic disaster movie for the sake of setting up their DC Universe. Let’s bring in the destroyer of worlds himself, Doomsday.

As if it wasn’t enough to just have a good story with Batman and Superman, we had to bring in a monster created by Lex Luthor that is set to absolutely annihilate Superman while destroying the planet in the process. My big issue with Man of Steel was that the action was over the top. The action that comes into play in the final act of this movie far surpasses that. It’s as if they felt like they needed even more destruction than before. Now I will say that the visuals of course are stunning, but you can’t just please me with visuals if the narrative doesn’t work with them. It was like watching a car crash happen right in front of me. 

It was the most jarring transition between two totally different movies that I’ve ever seen. We go from a great interesting narrative between two heroes with differing perspectives to an almost Justice League end of the world story. All of this also ends with killing Superman because it wasn’t enough to just make him feel like a villain, they had to kill the guy too. This whole final act is so frustrating that it makes me want to bang my head against the wall over how poorly it was handled and then it makes me realize how poorly a lot of the movie was handled. I think the best part of the movie through and through was Batman, but this movie has so many problems.

My buddy Connor said it best. He said that this is the Monkey’s Paw of movies. It gives you everything you want out of a movie like this, but executed on absolutely none of it. While I do think that they execute Batman very well throughout, I can’t argue with this statement. It gives you so much, so much to be excited for and to like, but drops the ball entirely on almost everything. This movie feels a lot like the first half of Man of Steel. There’s a fantastic movie in here somewhere but the direction never gives you a chance or the movie a chance to fully realize what it has to offer you. It instead gives you surface excitement with underlying disappointment. As my dad says best, shit floats. It doesn’t matter how much surface excitement you have, when the underlying feeling is utter disappointment for them dropping the ball then it’s going to float to the top and overpower any excitement or enjoyment you had. 

I know that I may have gotten off the rails a bit towards the end of the review, but it’s honestly so frustrating that this movie had so much potential and failed. The potential was just within arms reach, but it just never made it to the point of success. This movie makes me want to see more of the Ben Affleck Batman and it makes me enjoy Man of Steel more, but does nothing for me overall at feeling confident for the DC universe going forward. It’s a movie that I want to love, but just fails at so much that I just can’t. I know there are many who like this movie a lot and I know that many of the negative and positive points I made can be argued, so if you disagree in any way then comment below and let me know what you think about it! 

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Panic! At the Disco is Strangely Consist (for a band that lost 90% of its members) – Discography Deconstruction

“Other band members? What other band members” (literal actual , I’m [not] joking here, quote by Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco)

I was not a fan of PATD (it’s a long band name y’all) when they came out. I probably heard I Write Sins not Tragedies before the deep dive but it didn’t come to me. What I did hear a lot of was Mercenary, the song done for Batman Arkham city. I liked it until it goes into the Victor Hugo speech. Then I lose interest.

What got me to finally listen was watching one of those jazz/alt genre cover channels on YouTube. I heard I Write Sins not Tragedies, and liked. So I decided to listen to their first album.

Oh did I not know what would happen to me…

A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is a breath of fresh air here in 2020. It sounds like nothing on the radio now, and feels more layered and… wait… yup!

Their first album is a neigh perfect emo/punk-pop rock album. It really feels like the perfect dark and perverted carnival/regal sound. All of the songs are memorable, have a catchy in a strangely related ways (high tier Fall Out Boy song naming skills), and have a good production for them. It is hard not to just explain why every song is really good. So I will do a sentence for each cause I got six albums to get through.

Introduction/intermission – they’re the neigh in the neigh perfect album. The songs are fine and give context to the songs. They say their part of some weird radio station. After the first couple listens they were skipped

The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage: It sounds so distinct from the rest of the pop-punk of the time with its mix of classic instruments, acoustic guitar, and techno, and manages to keep up a high energy.

London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines: It evolves the sound of the previous song with some experimentation (signs of the next album) to enhance the rebellious lyrics and devil may care attitude.

Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks: This is one of the weaker songs. It’s got some fun rhymes with things like pill and bull, but it is the most forgettable.

Camisado: This is a really fascinating take on suicide and what attempting suicide is like, all masqueraded in poppy song.

Time to Dance: The last weak song. It’s beat and energy is on point, and the idea of someone taking all the grief to I guess dance is cool, but it’s too not dense, maybe obscure.

Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off: One of their most under appreciated songs ever; a solid beat, hook, and just killer lyrical flow and turns of phrase.

But It’s Better if You Do: Energetic and yet vindictive nature of what kind of relationship this song was built around is fascinating and suck a jam to listen to.

I Write Sins not Tragedies: Of course it’s good, but I would say is not the best on the album because it is not nearly as fleshed out as other songs both before and after it.

I Constantly Thank God for Esteban: It just is clever; the story of hypocrisy and contempt of it brought forth through multiple allegories ties it to near perfections.

There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet: The just full double meaning, big band work, and slick productions make this the best song.

Build God, Then We’ll Talk: The breath visual storytelling of every story told is able to condense so much into such tight verses it’s honestly impressive, and the instrumentals are great!

The trivia about these songs shows a deep and specific meaning for all of them, meaning liking them and not looking into any of that does not lessen my enjoyment, but sure makes my analysis lacking. It’s still a fantastic album.

Pretty Odd

It’s rare to get an album titled so descriptively on point. Pretty Odd would best be described as a horizontal move for PATD. It is not better or worse overall, just a shift, a big shift. A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out was Baroque Rock this is 60s and 70s psychedelic and folk rock.

For those that don’t get what I mean. They basically go from Fall Out Boy to late stage Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, Iron Butterfly, and The Avett Brothers.

The album’s first song is a good joke (I assume, or good flip of expectations). We’re So Starving is great and making you feel safe in the same haunted carnival only to diverge quickly with Nine in the Afternoon.

This change grows and evolves in new ways to make things that are lyrically like the previous album. Those come out in their allusions, flow, and lyrical symbolism. Songs like Green Gentlemen, I Have Friends in Holy Spaces, When the Day Met the Night, and Folkin Around are all classic songs. Folkin Around in particular feels like it’s the perfect base for a real folk rock band (of for Brandon Urie to revisit) to expand on into a more fuller song. It is a short, jaunty tune about messing around with a girl. It works, but the need for more of it is just so palpable.

The places the album fails is in the big song everyone likes, Northern Downpour. It has good lyrics, imagery, just generally all the good stuff the bad has had. What kills it is how dull, lifeless, and placid the beat is. There is next to no real musical complexity in the arrangement and composition. That’s it’s death nail for me, and initially turned me off the album upon first listens.

Vice & Virtue

PATD lost two of their members, halving their group. The change is apparent almost immediately. The best that the album could be described is, as a second or third tier pop-punk album. It is not their worst. It just is more bland than anything else.

The blandest comes in different flavors (look how clever that was, ha!). It comes in how mundane and common the lyrics are. It lacks much of the visualization and extra meaning. They’re normal pop-punk lyrics. The blandness all comes in how standard the arrangement and composition of the songs are. None of them hold the complex mix and production of multiple different instruments. The songs start and end pretty standardly.

I don’t fully blame the band. This is what happens when you lose your main writer, lead singer, guitarist, and percussion. This causes a gap they try to fill, but it doesn’t all work.

Some of the songs are not all bland Hot Topic Music. Ballad of Mon Lisa, Memories, and Sarah’s Smile all have sparks of what was. Their sound and lyrics do not fully reach the good. But are enjoyable enough. And Hurricane is fun nonsense.

Losing band members is always a hit to the band itself, but it is recoverable.

Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!

PATD would not recover. In fact they lost more band members. That too would put all sorts of strains on Brandon Urie. I may have sympathy for him, but I do not sympathize with the album.

The album is near unlistenable garbage. Starting with the first song: This is Gospel is just an assault on the ears. It is just a wall of sound and beats, and an uninteresting lyrics. It is about the breaking up of the band, sad sure, but doesn’t make for good music. In an attempt to be balanced, not all of the songs are mindless electronica dance , and pop music. They do attempt to copy the soundscapes of Daft Punk, Temposhark (am I the only person who remembers him), and Imogen Heap. None of that works, but they try.

There are only two songs I would call close to good. Miss Jackson and Girls/Girls/Boys are the only one with any sort of real idea and complexity. Miss Jackson has a good sample to carry it while G/G/B (which is about a threesome Brandon Urie had. Gross) has some turns of phrase that are just stuck in my head and has a beat that is simple but carries it.

This album is a full shift and course change. It’s a first attempt and it shows because…

Death of a Bachelor

Everything attempted in the previous album exceeds spectacularly in this one. It may not be their best album, but it sure is my favorite.

It mixes the electronic-pop sound of the previous album with more of the brass band/big band mix that makes every song something special. It does suffer from too much of the same flavor.

Crazy = Genius, Emperor’s new Clothes, Golden Days, and House of Memories all have some really good hooks, sounds, and fun lyrics. None of them reach the quality of the first albums, but they feel so realized and energetic that it makes the time listening to the album just flow as you jam out.

Pray for the Wicked

The most recent album is not the worst. It more just feels like Urie (now just the whole babd) over thought what made the previous album good. He tries to push and evolve the big band/techno-pop of the previous album into the next level. That next level just is a competition in high energy sameness.

I criticized the previous album for being samey, but the difference is that as the whole album sounded the same, each song has tweaks to the formula. This does that some, just not to the degree it needed to.

Songs like [I’m Not Gonna Swear A] Silver Lining, Overpass, and One of the Drunks (this album has lots of alcoholic references and talk about getting drunk. I guess that is how you pray for the wicked) all feel suitably upbeat and like an extension of the precious album in sound and lyrics.

Meanwhile the singles off this album (I’m only doing because I know what they are and have heard them outside of my Spotify) High Hopes and Hey Look Ma, I made It are a mixed bag. High Hopes is the most generic thing Urie has made for this band. It tries the big band mix but is just lacking and dull. Hey Look Ma (yada yada yada) is better and has a good hook. It’s drops are just kind of lame, and the idea of only caring about how your mom feels about fame just is not as good as previous themes.

Wrap Up: With some extra long lyric of quote added on like Dancing on a Tightrope of Weird and is not Brian Wilson

If a band has lost so many members, changed genre, and released a scattering of quality albums how would they be considered consistent? Simple answer, it’s all in the vibe the band produces. From: The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage to Dying in LA, Brandon Urie (and the rest of what band they had) gave off a vibe of righteous cleverness they did not earn. It bothers me when literal teenagers make giant pop hits about how the breakup they had was the worst thing ever when they’ve barely dated. This is a level where it feels like PATD has figured everything out and want to express how they totally understand the world through these elaborate lyrics, mixes, and compositions, and they almost hit their mark. It does not feel like teenager writing (I mean some of the back half does but let’s not get distracted at the end), but 20 year olds. They know and have experiences that have formed them, but haven’t fully coalesced into a functional person. They have adapted as people (I am making PATD a singular person even as that doesn’t fully make sense) to the changing world and life events Those adaptions however are for survival over passion (that’s the long answer I decided to give you anyway, even after reading this epic).

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 2, Part 6 (Page-a-Day)

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Raisor mouthed something that was quickly blocked by Colt’s cloak. “That Evelyn is right.” He hooked his arm around Raisor. “No animal speaks. Some have vocal cords like ours, but you want to stay away. Those cords are used to trap us.”

“Yes, I know. I’ve fought a couple Tourrares once.”

“So have I!” Colt said. His voice jumped like he found a friend. “Tourrares are quite tricky you know…” their voices were extinguished in the rain. 

“What should we do?” Claudia asked.

“I think Olivier should get a bed,” Hugh said. “I’m sure the comforting would be helpful.” He looked at Olivier. “Would it?”

“Would what?”

“Would you like to take a bed?” Claudia pointed to one of the beds. 

“Of course. You never turn down free food or lodging. You learn that quick on the road.” Olivier creaked to his feet. Claudia looped her arm around his and walked him over to the bed not covered in dog hair. 

“When this is over maybe you can teach me to use some actual magics,” Claudia said. 

Olivier handed his staff over to her. “You are already tapping into the realm as it is with those runes. There is little more I could teach you.”

“That cannot be true!” Claudia proclaimed. Evelyn and Hugh looked back at her before returning to their conversation. She sheepishly placed the staff next to the bed. “I just,” she straightened herself up, “I need to know how to really use magic.”

“You do. Runes are the base of everything.” Olivier got comfortable in the bed, wriggling around before resting. “This mattress is not great, but who would complain about that?” 

“But… I?” Claudia was unsure where to go. “Runes…”

Olivier gave her contouring face a once over. “I see. I’ll give you some basic lessons after this whole ordeal.” He turned over. She smiled and looked back at Hugh and Evelyn. “Can I take this bed?” She pointed to Hounder’s shedded fur, but meant the bed. 

“Take it,” Evelyn said. She looked through the windows. Her gaze said she could see beyond the blockade of water. 

“I wouldn’t recommend going out there,” Hugh said. He moved his gaze from her to the freshly edited map. “Doctors orders. Those other men might be good fighters, but not thinkers.”

“You’re not going to join your horse and buggy in the stable?” Evelyn asked.

“No, I am going to stay here.”

“Are you afraid of the rain, Doctor?”

“No, just afraid of the sickness that comes with it. I don’t want to be the reason this does not succeed.” He looked her over again. Her gaze didn’t break. “Where were you going?”

Evelyn tilted her head upwards to the falling sky. “I think the best approach would be to wait until the rain settled down, then move to a new location.” She turned to face Hugh. “Care to join me?” 

“I am unclear by what you mean, though have a guess.” Hugh returned to the chair he originally sat in before everyone arrived. 

Evelyn laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. Mixing business with pleasure before a mission is not good luck.” She walked over and took the seat across from him. The candle between them started to flicker wildly. “But what is your plan? Sit in that chair all night?” 

“Prepare. I mean I will be most likely sitting if you want to know the physical, but all of this just seems so odd.” He crossed his arms and laid them on the table. “A dragon attacking a castle is not normal.”

The Beauty of Untitled Dad Project

Listen here:

The podcasts follows writer and producer Janielle Kastner grieve the death of her absent father through a narrative lens to get the closure she was denied in life.

It feels like it was made for me, but also that it’s something so intimate that I shouldn’t be listening to it. It is all the things I like in storytelling and entertainment. It’s about art and stories, it is about a real person coming to grips with things she could not deal with, and it knows the medium it is in and uses it to the fullest. We as the listener also get so personal with Janielle and her partner in this endeavor Carson that it feels almost wrong. We shouldn’t hear this. Its not made for us, or me just her.

It’s hard to judge a real life story. Not a story based on real life events, but a real actual person’s narrative. Everything Janielle talks about is true, and hard, and heartbreaking, and also really cheese, schmaltzy, and obvious. It’s just what happened (like how I found out an old neighbor did go Walter White, it can happen). What makes this story interesting is that it’s not about what happened, but what it means. The story we tell ourself over the lie we believe.

Janielle goes through all the parts of a narrative in an attempt to attach parts of her life to the journey of a fictional character. This goes from inciting incident to third act breakthrough and finale. This isn’t done as a literal narrative, but instead as a series of conversations with experts, friends, and colleagues to figure out what her own story is if it were put onto a timeline.

There are revelations, heartbreaking cries, digging into more than what is being said, and answers if closure and satisfaction is the same thing. It is the five stages of grief mixed with the three act structure to bring an ending to all the questions Janielle had.

Look, this is hard to discuss without saying it is free on all podcatchers, Janielle, and director: Cat, have a really good chemistry that makes this story feel so satisfying to enjoy. It makes you feel like every moment of your life could have some meaning. We go from a scene of Janielle at her dad’s funeral his friends through, to her own personal funeral for him. The change in what happens is obvious growth and symbolism. It could be called on the nose, or obvious, BUT that’s what happened.

To prove a point and get personal if you let me (you can’t stop me, just stop reading):

I’ve flown a lot over my life. When I was a kid I used to always want the window seat. It was magical to watch the ground shrink and become a toy. The clouds were magical and like nothing else. It felt like going to a new world. As an adult I always want the aisle.I am flying solo or am the one in charge of the travel and know where we have to be, how much time, and who we are meeting. I’ve got stuff to do. Now, is that me growing up and taking responsibility for things? Do I just not what or get that childish imagination of flying? Or do I not want to feel cramped when I’m sitting next to someone who’s taking up part of my seat and I’m pushed against the wall? We all want meaning from our life and from media. Is there a story there? Could you make a story out of my different times I’ve flown alone? Is that moment of me preferring one seat over another important to my life story?

Stuff (sorry all English teachers ever), needs to mean something to us as humans. It needs to have purpose for us to get something out of the experience. Even if the pursing is just that Imoved to the aisle cause I don’t like waiting.

Hot 100 Review: The Box by Roddy Ricch

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A new song and artist have claimed the number one spot from Post Malone’s Circles (which is at number three now). This artist is Roddy Ricch and his song The Box.

From what I can tell he is a pretty new artist on the rise. He’s done some work with Mustard (like DJ Mustard? I don’t know, my phone isn’t confirming that), and Gunna. His rap name isn’t bad. I like the idea he is not Richie Rich, but instead had to work toward that goal of being loaded. It does prance on my pedantic nerve with “Ricch” because “cc” makes the “ch” sound, but I assume even if he knew that no one else would and would be called Roddy “Rick.”

So, based on what I have said and written about it might be clear where my tastes lie. Not to say I don’t like certain kinds of music, but I know how to talk about certain kinds of music better than others. Rap for example is much harder than some cringy nu metal or alternative rock song. I do the best with what I can, but sometimes it’s just over my head.

The Box is indeed one of those songs. I mean I think I like it. It’s got problems I’ll get into, but I do unironically enjoy it. I think the haunting beat with someone doing a Migos onomatopoeia of a squeaking noise works. Roddy Ricch’s voice and flow is solid. Those all make it something that is an enjoyable enough listening experience.

The song feels lyrically incomprehensible. Not in so far as I can’t understand what he is saying. You can make out specific words and lines easily enough. It just feels so, so steeped and embedded in gangster rap culture that I do not get it, and doesn’t feel narratively cohesive.

The chorus talks about hating cops, breaking open some box, and partying with a woman. Just very classic gangster stuff. It does have some weird and very on the nose imagery about sucking souls and slatts (I keep these posts fairly family friendly, but use your imagination).

The first verse focuses on cruising around, being a thug and hanging out with an attractive girl.

In the second verse he talks about getting with a girl, driving around, and being rich when he was selling drugs.

It all seems pretty standard stuff quite honestly. There are some really solid lines and deliveries. “Pour up a whole [damn] seal, gonna get lazy,” has a really fun playful delivery, the transition from that to the next like, “I got the mojo deals, we be trappin’ like the 80s,” is obvious but gives a good image of how hard they’re partying. “[Bitch] don’t wear shoes in my house” comes out of nowhere every time and is funny; and “Shawty (I love we still use that word) call me Crisco cause I pop my [shit],” is just a really fun and playful line. It’s all real enjoyable stuff, if not all of them are clever.

It more just bothers me he doesn’t say what The Box is. I’m sure it is not a reference to the 2009 movie based on the short story by Richard Matheson. That would make sense and I would understand it. (Let’s look it up. Genius comes to the rescue) Oooh that opens up everything.

The Box is part of a magazine used in robberies. Therefore the song is about robbing a bank and living high from it. I assumed it was a sex thing (always seems safe in music to guess that). Genius also says that slatt is not what I thought it was. It means to be on the come up. That doesn’t really make sense. Latt as in lateral would make more sense.

Back to the robbery idea, him not wanting to fly makes sense cause it’s like some Con Air situation.

The music video sure is on theme. It shows Roddy Ricch being a gangster in nice mansions, takes us to them driving down the street on a Rolls Royce, and shows a gang (I’d assume his cause the first shots show them armed up) raiding an apartment or something. Not really sure, hard to tell. But, it does have an extended ending where it shows a bunch of b-roll of gorgeous vistas, landscapes, and foreign cityscapes. It has an extra verse about traveling, dating, and having fun with his girl. It’s a fine enough video that works. It is just weird how the lip sync is terrible. It feels like they didn’t know where the editing was going so they just had him kind of say the song at each location, but then didn’t match to make sure that’s what he was saying on song was the same as what he was saying. Really weird and lazy.

I would actually say that YouTuber Lenarr Young’s video, “When Roddy Ricch was recording ‘The Box’” is closer to what the song feels like even if it is not thematically on point. In the video a ghost is making the door hinges squeak and that noise causes him to make the song. It is great and funny.

Watch the video:

Now I feel like I’m stretching a lot, and that no one is digging that much into the song. I am also super unqualified to talk about it. I mean I like rap songs that build and communicate a big theme or idea. A brag rap song like this doesn’t really do that. Or it’s possible that it does and all the references he makes have deeper ideas that I am missing. But, the song really feels like it’s just supposed to be played at parties, and have everyone think that they want to go hard like Roddy Ricch.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 2, Part 5 (Page-a-Day)

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She looked pensively at the group of ruffians she found herself around. She then turned her gaze to the marked up map. She took the ink and drew two small squares near the top, or as close to the top as she could approximate. “I may have twisted the truth a knot,” she said. 

“That’s…” Raisor began before Hugh slapped him in the gut. 

“There is a second entrance into the castle. Not the castle proper, where the dragon dwells, but workers quarters. The soldiers domain. The slaves pigsty.” There is an entrance at the top of the castle. It can only be reached by climbing to the top, going through the soldier’s quarters, and eventually landing yourself in a walled off room with bars.”

“Sounds like a prison,” Olivier said.

“That’s cause it was.” 

“I mean you were a thief and assassin,” Raisor said. 

Evelyn flared at him as if she was about to stab him. Her fingers gingerly tapped the hilt of her knife. Raisor jingled his fingers and making them nimble. Evelyn scanned him once over before crossing her arms. “We have our plan in place. No need to know anything more at this time. Do we need to go over the plan again?” She looked over at Colt scratching Hounder’s underside. 

“No, I think we got our plan.”

“In that case we should all go and rest up,” Siguard said. He attached his sword to his waist and grabbed his shield. “We cannot all sleep in here, so I would recommend going somewhere else. We are not lacking houses to sleep in.”

“Sounds very chivalrous of you,” Evelyn said. 

“I am going to ignore a rude comment from such a rude woman and head to an adjacent house.”

“I suggest we meet up before dawn breaks,” Hugh said in an attempt to change the subject. “I have enough food in my cart to sustain us tomorrow morning. Afterwards we can simply split and go our separate ways.”

“Sounds like a reasonable plan,” Olivier said. 

“I have another hunt I must go on,” Claudia said. “Once this is wrapped up, I have my own journey.”

“You speak for us all,” Siguard said. He opened the door. The monsoon barreled through the doorway and drowned out any noise except the crashing wall of rain onto the wood and ground below. Siguard broke the wall and instantly vanished in the rain. 

“Someone should go with him,” Hugh said. “The other army might still be by, and the rain will make him vulnerable to attack. 

“Ha, I’ll go!” Goblet rested his axe upon his shoulder, and covered his head with part of his fur shirt. His footfalls on the mud splattered with the raindrop.

Raisor was the next one up to the door. “I’m going to go sleep with my horse. He doesn’t like thunderstorms much, and we rarely have a night alone. 

“Ahh, the smell of hay, horses, and fresh rainwater. That sounds like a nice evening,” Colt said. He pulled his hood up. The missing sun turned its forest green to a swampy sludge color. “I will join you.” He whistled. Hounder perked his head up, stretched and joined his master at his heel. 

“You do not need to do that,” Raisor waved his hands sideways. “The horses and I will be fine alone.”

“Oh I am quite sure of that.” Colt rested his hand on Raisor’s shoulder. “But it will still be nice to have a human to speak to, even if the animals are good listeners.”

“They’re not good conversationalists,” Evelyn added. She gave Raisor a curved smile.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Review

A surprisingly good yet still pointless continuation in the Terminator franchise. 

Terminator: Dark Fate is a movie that pretends that the last three films don’t exist and is a direct sequel to T2. This is a movie that I was excited for only because of director Tim Miller who was coming off of his success with Deadpool. If he hadn’t been announced as director the. I probably wouldn’t have had much interest in the movie. Unfortunately that comes down to the three lackluster films prior to this one. I will say though that I’m one of those few people that actually like Terminator: Salvation, but I also have never been much of a fan of the franchise. I didn’t rush out to see it so I finally got a chance to watch it with its digital release. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I have heard good things about it, but I’ve also seen some people put it on their “worst of 2019” lists. You could say that I went in pretty open minded. 

Right off the top, I know film is subjective, but if you put this movie on your “worst of 2019” list then I have no idea what you’re thinking. This isn’t one of the best movies of the year, but it’s a pretty good movie. I can think of plenty of worse movies that you should put on your list before this one, but again, film is subjective so think what you will. It’s a fun action thriller that goes back to the roots of what made the first two so good. This also makes this movie the best Terminator movie since T2, but there’s still a big gap between them. At the very least it’s a fun movie that gets by, by not trying to be anymore than what it is. 

Like The Force Awakens and Halloween (2018) it takes the idea of being a sequel/reboot of the series and does it very well. The downside is that it didn’t do well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel like the other two. This boils down a lot to the fact that the movie proves a point of there being nowhere to go for this series. It offers up a very similar storyline to that of the original film by giving us a new Sarah Connor like character and having her being integral to the apocalyptic future. It proves the point of the series not being relevant any longer because there’s nothing more you can really do that hasn’t been done already. With the other sequels, we’ve seen just about every angle of the franchise that we can think of. 

T1, T2, and Dark Fate all give us the story of a Terminator coming from the future to kill characters in the past. Judgment Day and Genisys both give us the lead up to the apocalyptic future, and Salvation gives us the future war itself. Unless I’m just not thinking enough to find a story, there really isn’t anything they can do that hasn’t already been done which could be why the general audience has fallen off of the franchise. Dark Fate is a good movie for what it’s trying to do, but to be relevant it needed to do something different and I don’t think there was much it could have done. It’s a downside for the film as a whole that’s no fault of its own, but it’s a significant point that can’t be overlooked. 

It does however make a point that I overlooked after watching it, but was enlightened by my buddy Connor who pointed out where I was wrong. This movie at first seems to show that there’s no point to any of the events happening considering Sarah stopped her apocalyptic future that still ended up leading to the same result just further in the future than originally intended. It seemed that no matter what, the machines rising above everyone was going to happen regardless. Connor pointed out though that there is a deeper meaning to it if you look at it closely enough. This movie makes a statement that defeating the machines in the past will not ultimately change the outcome of the future, but rather it proves that there’s more that needs to be done to fix the future. 

If I’ve lost you already then I’ll break it down a little simpler. What it’s saying is comparable to something like climate change. You can do small things to change the near future, but it’s going to take massive changes in our culture to change the overall future rather than just prolonging when the endgame happens. This could be something that is explored in sequels, but since it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any then it really doesn’t matter at this point. My first assessment was that this movie did nothing new and honestly it doesn’t, but it does setup the possibility and reality of what these characters are doing is only a small slice of what needs to be changed. I would have been more interested in the creators embracing this point going forward into a sequel if we were to ever get one. 

The biggest highlights for me weren’t just the new characters who were fantastic, but the two old characters played by their original actors, Linda Hamilton and Arnold. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work so much with Hamilton, but Arnold I had assumed would be fine given his appearance in Genisys. Both of them turned out to be my favorite parts of this movie. Hamilton as Sarah Connor was very reminiscent of Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (2018). She was a badass who nailed the aged veteran. Arnold as the original Terminator also nails his performance and it was interesting to see this version of the character who over the years had no mission and actually evolved as a robot. Some people may not like the evolution of his character, but I think it worked and made perfect sense. An intelligent robot evolving into a compassionate and understanding character seems to be a logical route to take. 

I was never really a fan of all of the Terminator’s having new abilities or powers in each new installment and this one fairs no different. The liquid metal kind of deal of course makes sense given how far advanced it is, but I do miss the old style robot that Arnold always was and kind of wish they could go back to that. With that in mind though, the visuals were impressive and as I said before, the action was awesome. From start to finish this movie really nails the action and never lets up off the pedal. Some movies you could say have too much action and this could easily be one of them, but I’d much rather see the continuous action in a story like this.

I also kind of really feel mixed about the whole enhanced human aspect. I mean it’s cool to see a half human half robot go toe to toe with a Terminator, but it also seems kind of pointless. I get that they wanted to have a connection between Mackenzie Davis’ character and Natalia Reyes’ character, but it really bugs me that Davis isn’t just a Terminator. With introducing the human evolution element for Arnold’s Terminator, I felt like maybe they could have done something similar for her but I’m not sure. I’m just kind of torn on whether to like the idea or not.

The final thing I’ll talk about is the actual direction of the film and visual style. I think Tim Miller was able to capture what made the originals so good and of course it helps that he was using similar plot points to make it work, but he was the first one to do it successfully since T2. I also absolutely loved his use of slow motion. It’s a very minor thing to think about, but he does it in a way where he doesn’t keep the slow motion going too long. He does it just enough for you to be like “hell yeah” and then the speed kicks right back to normal to complete the action piece. I applaud him for that and if I’m not mistaken, I believe this was used a few times in Deadpool, but I think he perfected it in this movie. He’s a very good action director and I applaud him for what he was able to do. I will say though that there was one specific part in the story that made me scratch my head a bit as to the logic. It’s when they decide to get onto the big cargo plane. I get that they were in the middle of being chased, but I feel like there were more problems made out of getting on the plane than they would’ve had if they just kept to the ground. It’s such a minor nitpick though. 

Overall this movie is not a “best movie of the year” and it’s not a great movie, but it’s fun and enjoyable to just sit back and watch. It doesn’t bring anything new for the most part, but it does set itself up for potential sequels that could explore some interesting themes introduced in this movie. This is a movie that I think is far better than some make it out to be. It’s not a movie that I would recommend to anyone unless they’re already a fan of the series. It does a well enough job to appeal to old fans and new fans alike, but overall it doesn’t do enough to warrant everyone needing to go see it. I really enjoyed this movie and had a great time watching it. I wish I could see sequels from what was set up, but it won’t happen given its poor performance at the box office. It might be worth watching on TV or even at a cheap rental price. 

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I NEED To Talk about Trap of Love (and you must indulge me)!

So I may or may not (100% definitely am) rewatching Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated (something to follow), and just got to the Hex Girls episode and have been listening to the new song they made for that episode non-stop since.

To back up, the Hex Girls are an in-universe Goth Rock band of three Wiccans. They made their first appearance in the made for TV/home release Scooby Doo and The Witch’s Ghost. They were a red herring as far as that mystery goes, but we’re an instantly iconic idea for the Scooby Doo Universe. They had solid child version of emo/goth music with good vocal and could release a whole album of songs from the movie.

The reappeared a couple times in the home release film Scooby Doo and The Legend of the Vampire (it’s about a rock concert in Australia), and then the show What’s New, Scooby Doo(?). Their biggest, and most important return was in Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated. Other than being more fleshed out (like all the characters), they also created new songs for them to sing.

That is literally all to say that the Hex Girls made a giant impact on me (and probably my taste in music too). So them appearing always gets me hooked in the episode. Their first appearance in Mystery Inc sees them as the victims being terrorized by a musical phantom that wants them to stop their tour. It’s fun, and how they figure out his identity is funny. But that’s not important, what is important is the role they play in the Fred/Daphne relationship.

Their relationship until this episode had been one sided. Daphne has had feelings for Fred while Fred is completely (to a hyper comical degree) oblivious and only focused on making traps. During the episode Daphne is used as bait and kidnapped. She does escape, but not before mishearing Fred freak out that he lost her and says he needs to stop feeling. This causes Daphne to go full rocker and write a breakup song, Trap of Love.

It is bonkers that this song actually exists. It feels like a pop manufactured alternative metal/goth rock song from the time it came out, 2010. It has some really haunting piano and base that sound gothic, then some drums and a surprisingly good guitar riff. But what is more surprising is how well composed the whole instrumental part is. It feels big, got great cord progression and memorable beat, with just a hint of synthesizer and electronic influence like it was a Veronicas or Sick Puppies song.

That’s all good, but what actually is just like crazy is how the lyrics walk this super fine line between vapid, simplistic, and impactful. It is all about Daphne casting Freddy away. She starts by calling out how uncaring his heart imprisons and traps her in a cage, and how his eyes lie. These lies and uncaring tears her heart apart. In the chorus she sings about how the trap of love is snared through desire and want, and that same trap turns into a figurative fire and burns. The best line is how she can’t wait for him and must be released. It seems obvious, but think how “I can’t wait” can be used. It can mean that you want to get something, OR that you are done waiting. Daphne is really both in the scenario of the episode. She can’t wait for him to date her, and can’t wait for him to finally realize his feelings.

In the second verse she cries to be released and let her be, uncage her heart. She ends the song by saying to beware love.

Now, this is all really simplistic and straightforward. It makes really easy dissection material. What makes it work though is how earnest Grey DeLisle is in singing it. The fact she is tapping more into her Azula voice from Avatar The Last Airbender is annoying after the (I basically listened to it the whole hour I was at the gym, plus throughout the day. So a lot). Either way she makes those lines cut pretty well, and the pointed entendres about traps works.

The song works. Daphne and Fred get together and everything is great.

But all that interesting stuff isn’t why I like it. No, after the villain is unmasked and he goes through his motivation he says he wrote bad songs for the Hex Girls to sing on purpose, but they are so good they can turn them into a hit. This song was written so perfectly to be shallow and produced and sung so well that it proved his point.

Like how did that even work? How much of it was accident, and how much was planned? Isn’t that just really interesting.

Also, no wonder there is a ton of Rule 34 when the show dresses Daphne in this rock outfit, and just a purple bikini in an episode where a crab is attacking volleyball players (wait. Did that episode have the same plot as this one? I mean Scooby Doo is formulaic, but I’m pretty sure it had a too similar of a plot. Daphne gets kidnapped and Fred freaks out in that too. Strange).

The Righteous Gemstones is if Swindled was a TV Show (a Review)

It should be obvious to say that religion is not a bad thing. It has just been used by bad people. None have been as bad as the Bible thumping televangelists who use their money to live richer than the whole congregation, sin on the regular, and all the other acts documented in the podcast Swindled by A Concerned Citizen. This show is what life must have been like for the walking example of everything classic Panic! At the Disco hated.

The series follows the Gemstone family, a group of preachers and televangelists who get embroiled in a scheme when a video of one of the pastors doing drugs so hookers comes out and they must find ways to cover it up while staying holy (in the Holy City I might add).

The show is chock full of goodness. The cast and characters are just such endearing losers and jerks. From John Goodman’s Eli, the patriarch, to even Baby Billy Freeman played by Walton Goggins. Each member of the Gemstone family feels full realized with their strengths and many, many crippling flaws. Those lead to some incredibly funny, tragic, and heartfelt moments to transpire completely naturally.

It would be incredibly satisfying to break down every characters arc and journey. Go into detail on how incredibly funny and tragic Baby Billy is, or desperate and controlling Jesse Gemstone is and how that changes. It would be great, but you should watch the show. That kind of analysis is for longer think pieces. Here I’m just saying it’s good.

I will also say that the characters are all here to reflect the themes and ideas the show has on its mind. It tackles corruption, fraud, deceit, feminism’s role in the family, and redemption over its 9 episodes. These play out through a series of one off episodes, constant character interactions, and season long story arcs. The Gemstones and their friends get tested and fail just about all of them, but still keep going, and want to reach to be better people.

Sure, the middle daughter Judy is a deceitful, selfish, annoying, cloying, clinging dirt bag. But she is also neglected, never given the proper attention, needs guidance, and does want to help out in the end.

The ideas this show has about modern Christians is interesting. The characters are incredibly open to homosexuality and bisexuality, but still against abortion. They feel that the women don’t need to be involved in “mans work,” but can be a partner in serving the lord and helping people. The best example is in the first episode when, first born son, Jesse is asked by his wife if she can speak for herself in order to defend herself from the accusation they aren’t allowed to be independent. It’s cutting and funny.

All of the interplay is what keeps the show alive. It does dip when it tackles the main plots of the series, but survives it through sheer force of chemistry and dialogue. Some lines will just be seared into my brain forever. It can be just so, so clever about its jokes, and have the jokes the characters make tell us something about them as people.

It is a great show with great production values. The Gemstone ranch, which is not commented on directly, but is put in our minds to ask if a preacher should have that, looks wonderful. They have an amusement park, zoo, gun range, and four houses. It’s wonderfully ridiculous and poignant. The houses are immaculate, the mega churches we see look huge and oddly familiar. In fact so many locations feel like I am at home…

(One Google Search Later)

Yeah, so this show was shot 20 minutes from my house. It was filmed and takes place in Charleston, SC. This feels special, and why I got a classic southern drama vibe from it. The mall the church is in is one I go to every day. The mega church we see is a convention center I go to all the time. Heck many of the city locations I can pick out on a map. It is weird. Is this how New Yorker or Vancouverians (is that right? I want that to be right) feel all the time? I want more of this show because it feels like exactly like something that would happen here (not literally, but you get the point). It was also a strange experience to watch the show and not think of how those sets are not there in real life. It’s just so strange and took me out in a fun, Where’s Waldo sort of way. It did not take away from the characters though.

In many of the televangelist corruption stories they end with the preacher/pastor (is it obvious I need to go to church?) going to jail, getting out, saying he’s changed, and going back to their same old ways. That is not very Christian at all. This show looks to solve that. It looks and says that these characters are not those people. They do believe in the Bible and Jesus, and want to help. They are real Christians who will follow the Bible and not swindle their flock out of their money. They want to use it to help all they can.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 2, Part 4 (Page – a – Day)

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“Hugh here seems to be all above board and all,” Raisor began, then sheathed his sword, “But we don’t know anyone else here except the horses we rode in on.” He pointed his thumb back to the barn they moved the horses into. “I don’t want to speak ill of any doctors for fear of falling ill myself,” he moved to the table in the center of the room, “but are you going to roll that buggy up to the castle and hope your mixes and potions aren’t burnt to a crisp along with your horses?” His palms slid open on the table, and he leaned forward. 

Hugh looked Raisor over for long enough that the others in the room could count the crashes of thunder. Hugh’s expression didn’t not change, only the location of his eyes. He scanned up Raisor’s body, and rested them on the blades at his back. Raisor could see the calculations running in his mind. They were the ones he did ever time he got too close to another man’s woman at the bar. Should he punch, kick, draw his blades, or run. Hugh grabbed his sleeves and began to efficiently roll them up his arm. He stopped both of them at his elbow. 

Strange black marks ran down both arms. They could see they want further up the army but stopped short of his wrists. They were thick, like paint, but detailed like a scalpel. From a distance they appeared to be the same; only, upon closer inspection was it clear they were not. The left arm had flowing, wave like lines cresting down. The right arm was more jagged and had lines that pivoted over curved. Olivier got close enough to gasp and almost fell out of his chair. “What is it?” Colt asked from a safe distance.

“It is nothing bad,” Hugh said.

“I can see where you get Darkflame from?” Evelyn said.

“They’re not bad,” Claudia said. “They’re just dangerous.” Siguard raised his shield.

“She means for me,” Hugh rolled his sleeves back down. 

“You did not let me finish my sentence,” Claudia said. “They’re healing magic.”

Siguard lowered his shield. “How is it dangerous then?” He asked. He placed his shield aside. 

“Well like Olivier said, embedding people with outside forces is a task. The body was not made to have magic inside of it. The more out of the normal the worse it will be. In this case I am removing harm done to a person,” Hugh held up his left hand, “and trapping it somewhere else.” He raised his right arm. “If I do too much of either it will tear my body apart to reach that equilibrium.” He interlinked his fingers and began trying to pull them apart.

“Okay, he’s up and up,” said Raisor. He turned to Evelyn. The other members of the room shifted their gaze in kind. 

Evelyn remained astute and poised. The gazes bounced off her. “I am the tactician as you can plainly see,” she said. 

“No you’re not,” Siguard said. His voice was ignored in favor of another question. 

“How exactly do you plan on doing that tacticianing when you can’t even get to a vantage point?” Raisor asked. 

“There are some ways to do it,” Evelyn said. 

“I think we’d like you to share that, Evelyn,” Hugh said. He finished straightening his sleeves out.