Triple Scoop Reviews: Pipeline, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, and Dune

Pipeline

Year: 2021
Director: Yoo Ha
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Viki
Spoilers: Nope
Grade: Rocky Road

I’m a sucker for a fun heist story, and I have a soft spot for Lee Soo-Hyuk, so Mek and I decided to check out Pipeline. The movie is . . . fine, but also kind of oddly charmless, and a bit on the slow side for me. Oh, that sounds mean, doesn’t it? I didn’t hate this movie. The acting itself is fine (though I’m starting to wonder if Seo In-Guk has ever been in anything where he didn’t play the Arrogant Male Lead), and there were a few moments that did make me laugh; unfortunately, they weren’t very memorable because I can’t think of a single one now. I just never got very invested in the story, and that’s probably because I never grew to care about anyone on the team.

Heist stories usually go one of two ways: A) they’re grim little affairs, full of twists, betrayal, and murder, or B) they’re much wittier and light-hearted, often centering on the Team as Family trope. Pipeline is very much the latter (which is personally great for me), but none of the characters are very dynamic or interesting, and they just don’t have the platonic chemistry that really makes these kinds of stories sing. Honestly, we never learn much about any of them, not even our main lead. I kinda vaguely liked Counter (Bae Da-Bin), I guess, but that’s about it. Frankly, I found myself half-voting for the rich scumbag villain, because I didn’t really care about our heroes, and because Lee Soo-Hyuk wears the hell out of a nice suit. Like. I’m not always shallow, but yeah. I’m a little shallow.

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang Chi GIF by Marvel Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

Year: 2021
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Disney Plus
Spoilers: Yup
Grade: Vanilla

This was fun. I don’t quite love it, for a variety of reasons that we’ll get into shortly, but it was definitely an easy watch. The Final Battle is weirdly murky, but all the other fight scenes are great; I particularly like the chaotic Muni fight, and also when Ying Li kicks Wenwu’s ass at the beginning. (Not to mention, Ying Li’s whole look is fucking fabulous. Christ, I hope to see this cosplay the next time I actually go to a con.) I like how this isn’t quite your typical origin story; it’s a delight when we realize that Shang-Chi already knows how to fight. The music is fun. I am all about that dragon. (Also, the qilin, the huli jing, and all the other mythological creatures that I’m less familiar with.) And I enjoy pretty much the whole cast. I was especially delighted to see Michelle Yeoh and Tsai Chin, even if the latter was only there for a few moments.

Still, I don’t love this one quite as much as other folks, and I think that’s partially because the whole story is just built from one of my least favorite tropes of all time. Like, introducing this awesome, badass, immortal lady who just gives up all her powers because she falls in love (for God knows what reason) with this evil warlord who totally doesn’t deserve her? Yeah, pass. I found myself checking out a bit even before we got to associating tropes like Evil Man Changes His Ways Because of Romantic Love and Evil Man Goes Back To His Evil Ways Because His Love Died. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the acting; Tony Leung is perfectly good in the role; unfortunately, none of this interests me.

Also, for a movie with this many flashbacks, I think it’s completely bizarre to exclude the one where Young Shang-Chi actually decides to run away. It’s a Big Moment for his character, particularly considering the emotional conflict between him and his sister, and the only reason I can think not to include it is if we’re postponing it for a Big Reveal, namely, if it turns out that the man Young Shang-Chi assassinated is also Katy’s dead grandfather. I am desperately hoping this isn’t the case because, ugh, talk about tropes I’m not into. (I think it’d also be kinda cool if Katy and Shang-Chi did remain platonic, but that seems pretty unlikely, and I don’t hate them as a romantic ship. TBH, I kinda like their low-key, just wanna dance vibe. They could totally date and do late night karaoke and save the world without being all tortured and shit–that is, unless Shang-Chi’s lying to Katy about vengance-murdering her grandpa.)

Finally, I appear to be in the minority here, but Ben Kingsley in the role of Comic Relief didn’t do much for me. Like, I loved it when they brought up his character at dinner, absolutely, but the second we actually get him on screen for Kooky Fun Times? Nah. OTOH, seeing Benedict Wong join in on the karaoke? Excellent.

Dune: Part One

Serious Film GIF by Dune Movie - Find & Share on GIPHY

Year: 2021
Director: Denis Villeneuve
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – HBO Max
Spoilers: Yup
Grade: Rocky Road

So, I finally watched this movie, 20% because I was curious, 80% because Mekaela bribed me with a bottle of Moscato that we somehow ended up with. The wine was tasty. The movie was . . . okay? I’ve never read the book, and I have very mixed feelings on the David Lynch adaptation, so I doubt I was anyone’s target audience here. But sure, there are things I like about this. Exposition and worldbuilding are handled much better here than in the 1984 version. Rebecca Ferguson makes Lady Jessica a million times more interesting than I remember that character being. (Also, her costumes are just cool.) And some of Paul’s visions are intriguing, particularly the ones with Jamis, considering he’s set up to be this someday friend/mentor figure, but instead, Paul kills him. (Other visions are less interesting because, much as I like Zendaya, there’s a limit to how many times I need a quick flash of her looking all romantic/enigmatic. I’m definitely looking forward to her having more actual dialogue in the sequel.)

Still, Paul himself? Meh. I genuinely like that he’s a child of two wildly different lineages, but kid’s got all the personality of a celery stick, and I don’t care even a little about his whole Chosen One narrative. (Frankly, I kinda wish Lady Jessica was the Chosen One.) I continue to hate Baron Harkonnen, too, and I’m still royally pissed about the decision to put Stellan Skarsgård in a fat suit, especially while reading bullshit about how careful they all were to avoid using the fat suit for comedic effect in the film; meanwhile, in the very same article: “Stellan  just loved being naked as the Baron. We all used to kill ourselves laughing when Stellan would ask for more nude scenes. He felt, quite correctly, that the Baron appeared more frightening and dangerous unclothed than cloaked in robes or armor.” Cool. That’s way less shitty!

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The only positive thing I will say about the Baron is that at least Villeneuve cut the Depraved Homosexual shit because FFS.

Also, for a 2 1/2 hour film, I do think Dune, Part One has a couple of pacing problems. Like, I kinda feel there should be a little more time between “fuck, we’ve been set up to fail” and “Massacre Night.” And there’s been, what, five minutes between Paul whining that Lady Jessica made him a freak (dude, you’ve got bigger problems right now) and Paul deciding, “Well, okay, I guess I’ll just be Emperor, then!” The second half of the film feels especially off to me. I also kinda just miss how bizarrely weird the 1984 version looks in comparison, although obviously that’s a very subjective criticism. This movie is pretty; it’s just not very fun. Like, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie that takes itself SO seriously. Plus–and I know this is the most minor of complaints–I feel like the desaturated colors of this film are a bit at odds with this oppressive desert heat everyone keeps talking about. I never even once bought that heat.

So, will I watch Part Two? IDK, probably, though I suspect bribery will be involved again, and I don’t think I liked this one enough to see the sequel in theater, no matter how much Villeneuve abhors the idea of people watching his art on the small screen. (Yes, I’m petty. This shit pissed me off.) TBH, I’m a little surprised about how many people were apparently worried there wouldn’t be a sequel, like, I know every iteration of Dune ends up being divisive as shit, but also, this was a wildly anticipated film with a huge cast and well-respected white director, like, the kind of director who actually gets Oscar nods for his science fiction work. I just wasn’t quite sweating the sequel getting the green-light, you know?

“Let The Past Die. Kill It, If You Have To.”

So. The Last Jedi, huh?

I saw this movie basically the second it opened, but I haven’t had the opportunity to write about it until now–although, of course, I’ve read everyone else on the internet analyze it to death. Per usual, my commentary is belated and possibly unnecessary at this point, but that’s we at My Geek Blasphemy strive for: somewhat thoughtful, somewhat snarky, and late AF.

Also, for the most part? I really enjoyed the film.

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The 2016-2017 TV Superlatives

Okay, people! It’s that time again: I present the 2016-2017 TV Superlatives!

Rules are basically the same as they were last year. To be eligible for these super duper prestigious awards, a show must have begun its season sometime between June 1st, 2016 and June 1st, 2017. This means that shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter aren’t eligible for their current seasons, but are eligible for seasons that aired last summer. Meanwhile, Voltron: Legendary Defender managed to sneak in both its first and second seasons, while shows that would normally be eligible, like Game of Thrones and Orphan Black, won’t show up here today because they both postponed their premiere dates. And because my fiendish buddy Alyc got me into kdramas, I’ll also be including any Korean shows I watched that originally aired within that June-to-June timeframe. (So far as I can tell, it only includes a couple. Most of the shows I’ve checked out so far aired in 2015 or earlier.)

With that all settled, let’s get started.

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The 2016 Book Superlatives (Length: EPIC)

It is time, my friends. Yesterday, I posted the list of all the books and graphic novels I’ve read in 2016, and today I will review them in my customary way: superlatives! (Clearly, a tormented piece of my soul will always be trapped in high school.)

To be upfront: the greater majority of my Book Superlatives are positive and/or silly because this is meant to be fun, and because I realized how shitty I’d feel if something I wrote ever got singled out as Worst Book Of The Year or something. However, there are some critical superlatives–Most Annoying Romance, for example–because I do look at these awards as (admittedly oddly formatted) reviews, and also because I’ve never not had multiple candidates for that particular category. I do, however, generally try to say positive things about a book even when I’m highlighting something particularly negative, which, honestly isn’t usually all that hard. There are often a number of things I like about even those novels that frustrate me: Most Annoying Romance, for instance, actually went to a book that I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit, even envied if I’m being honest, cause, damn that author can write.

If you are a published novelist who has somehow stumbled onto my little blog and don’t necessarily want to get blindsided by the possibility of seeing something negative about your novel, I totally get that: feel free to check out that link of stuff I read this year and see if any of your work is even on the table before making your decision. For anyone who is interested in reading, welcome! Today’s post will be full of super important awards like Favorite Sidekick, Chief Asshat, Book I Would Most Like To See As A Video Game, and Best Boo-Yah Moment. There will also be a list of my Top 10 Favorite Books of the Year, if that kind of thing interests you, and a list of my many, many favorite book quotes I read this year. God help me.

Shall we begin?

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“He Who Controls Spice Controls The Universe!”

A few months ago, as you may or may not remember, I took part in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon. Donors could purchase a movie review, should they opt to do so, and a man named Tom did.

Here is everything you need to know about Tom:

1. Tom is an assistant nurse manager of the ICU, one of the departments I work in.

2. Tom is a gigantic movie buff, like, he’s seen way, WAY, more movies than I have.

3. Tom’s movie opinions are completely wrong roughly 90% of the time.

Tom immediately jumped on the chance to purchase a review, and then, fiendishly, spent the next two months going back and forth on what he wanted to make me watch. Would he give me something he thought I’d genuinely enjoy, despite my fairly minimal interest? Would he give me something so ridiculously terrible that it would totally redefine the so-bad-it’s-AWFUL genre? These were hard considerations, and Tom delighted in proposing different alternatives every day, but in the end, the knowledge that I had never seen David Lynch’s Dune proved too much for him.

Dune Stand Fast GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And so, good people, let us begin our journey into the world of Dune, a place of spice, Chosen Ones, gigantic worms, and winged underoos.

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10 Movies I Wanna Gender-Flip NOW

Slowly–impossibly slowly–I’ve been working on a Stranger Things review. I will complete and post this review someday, almost certainly before my 80th birthday, I swear, but for now I’m putting it on hold so I can write this list instead.

So, gender-flipped remakes. Whenever these come up in conversation, I always feel like I can’t properly articulate why I’m so interested in seeing them–but I do think they have value. And before you ask, I still haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters yet, much to my annoyance. It’s been a busy couple months, and at this point I’ve mostly resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have to wait for the rental . . . which sucks, not because I’m sure I’ll like it–I was lukewarm about the trailer–but because I really hoped the movie would succeed at the box office, and I feel bad for not buying a ticket. Ghostbusters’ failure to make money is a victory for the wrong kind of people, the kind who have been actively campaigning for it to fail since it was first announced because, wah, their precious childhoods are being tainted by women–and don’t tell me it’s not about the women. Most remakes, you hear the news, you bitch on Twitter about Hollywood’s refusal to make anything new, and then you move on about your day like grown ass adults. That’s hell and gone from what happened here.

It’s also a victory for the people who will argue that “See! No one wants to see a female-led cast or women in SF movies!” Not to mention the racist dickbags who have been harassing Leslie Jones and doing their level best to display the worst aspects of humanity–Ghostbusters’ failure has even been used as evidence that this atrocious behavior is somehow okay. And don’t get me wrong: it is totally and absolutely valid if you saw the movie and didn’t like it, or just aren’t interested in checking it out–but those misogynists frothing at the mouth the second it was announced? I am exhausted of listening to their bullshit, and Lord knows they won’t be shutting up anytime soon.

All right, that got away from me a bit. Back on track! One of the reasons I’d like to see more genderbent remakes is just the glorious change-up in ratio of male to female characters. Women usually only outnumber men in romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and–interestingly enough–slasher flicks. In fantasy, western, SF, noir, action, crime, war, and various other genres, though, men easily outnumber women–and boy do people complain if ladies outnumber dudes in those genres, because that means it’s a stunt, it’s appeasing the PC Police, made for feminazis, blah blah garbage garbage. Of course that’s patently ridiculous if you think about it: sure, you’re used to seeing movies with 9 men and 1 woman, but is that actually indicative of your life experience? Do you really know 9 men for every 1 woman in your life? No? Then please stop acting like reversing the gender ratio is some completely ridiculous thing that could never, ever be possible. You’re just not used to it, and that’s okay. None of us are used to it.

You wanna know how to get used to it? By watching so many movies with all or mostly female casts that it’s just not a big deal anymore. You could, of course, make original movies that aren’t remakes; in fact, I’d love to see those too. But let’s not pretend that getting those movies is somehow easy; otherwise we’d already have them. Besides, revisiting old worlds/stories with gender-swapped characters could actually be pretty powerful.

With that all in mind, here’s a list of some gender-swapped remakes that I think could be exciting to watch.

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The 2015-2016 TV Superlatives!

The time has come, my friends. The moment that maybe one person ALL OF YOU have been waiting for: the 2015-2016 TV Superlatives.

Rules are basically the same as last year, with a few little tweaks. To be eligible for these super duper prestigious awards, a show must have begun its season sometime between June 1st, 2015 and May 25th, 2016. This means that the first seasons of shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter (which came out last summer) are actually eligible for this year’s awards, as is the most recent season of Game of Thrones. Shows like Preacher, meanwhile, didn’t begun until after May 25th, so they won’t be eligible until next year. The only other shows outside this timeline that will be considered are shows that were completely unavailable to me prior to June 1st, 2015: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, for example.

I’m gonna be honest with you, guys: I could have done a better job of keeping track of these things over the course of the last year. There’s been a lot of frantic scrambling over the past few weeks to try and remember things like, “Shit, who had good season premieres again? SEPTEMBER WAS SO LONG AGO.” I am dedicated to creating a better system for myself next year. (But I’m pretty sure I said the exact same thing last year, so. We’ll see.)

For those of you who–like me–primarily watch genre shows that never get nominated for shit: well, my friends, these are for you.

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“I’m A Person and My Name Is Anakin!”

A side effect of falling hard for any particular fandom means that you will spend far too much of your time investigating any and all avenues of it. I fall in and out of love with fandoms the way most people fall in and out of love with, well, other people, and right now I am head over heels for anything to do with The Force Awakens. I even read a Star Wars novel, and I haven’t done that in probably 20 years.

Thus along with the Disney Princess Movie Challenge of 2016, I have also begun the great Star Wars Rewatch (that, presumably, everyone else did last year BEFORE The Force Awakens came out). That means I had to square my shoulders, face my fears, and watch a film I had not seen in a long time: Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace.

podracing

. . . yeah, it’s not great. There are definitely things I’m going to make fun of. Like, a lot of things. So many things. That being said, I’m not entirely convinced The Phantom Menace is quite the “involuntary twitching, brains leaking from ears, weeping blood, oh God, the horror, THE HORROR” experience people say it is, either.

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