12 Monkeys (Mini-Review) — Some spoilers

Bruce Willis with a bald head and a red light shining from one eye.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Monkeys

So, I watched 12 Monkeys over the weekend (the movie, not the TV show–although I will take a look at it one of these days now that I’ve seen the movie). I will do a mini-review, but there will be some spoilers that I simply can’t avoid–you can’t talk about the movie without talking about it in terms of its ultimate narrative structure (which, once presented, is a “spoiler”). I will leave the major spoiler points to the end, so if you don’t want to be spoiled be sure not to read to the end of the post. Unfortunately, I can’t guard against a search engines picking up the words in the spoiler section, so you have been warned.

Party Like Its 1995

So, Twelve Monkeys is a movie that I’ve wanted to watch for a while. I’ve heard about it spoken in reverence in the sci-fi community as some sort of harbinger of where sci-fi was heading. And in some ways that was true–this is an older movie after all. However, this is one that never came to streaming and when it originally released, I remember it being just as DVD was hitting and the prices were fairly high.

Not What I Was Expecting

This movie wasn’t quite was I expecting. I was expecting a sci-fi neo-noir futuristic thriller/mystery about the finding of a plague. While there are elements of this in the movie, it isn’t the primary focus. This one has a “concept” (more below) that it adheres to and a narrative structure that was fairly unique (for the time). I have to say that, honestly, I was a little disappointed by it as there have been many, many imitators that I’ve seen over the years, and that has blunted my enjoyment of the movie, as well.

Spoiler Warning–The End

Okay, so this is your final warning, STOP READING NOW if you want to stay unspoiled on the movie.

—————————————————————————————————————

Okay, here goes: this is the movie that popularized a certain type of time travel story, “the bootstrap paradox” story. Okay, what is a bootstrap paradox–literally, it is a time travel story that is both self-fulfilling and has no antecedent. When we enter the story, the plague has already happened, and then we see the way the plague happens when we go back in time with the protagonists. However, the idea of the plague was brought back to the past and that’s how the it gets started (this is simplified). So the plague is started by going back into the past (don’t go back to the past, no plague–no antecedent) and as it plays out, it happens just as the protagonist “remembers” it (self-fulfilling). Why am I spoiling this movie to talk about the end? Because it set the stage for the multitude of “time travel” stories and “boot strap” stories that permeated the landscape for (at least) 10 years after this movie released. Now I understand why there were so many movies that featured this time travel arc. This movie is influential in the genre, that only “ended” with Bruce Willis in another time travel film, Looper. However, in between 12 Monkeys and Looper, there were a ton of time travel/psuedo time travel films released (you can find me talking about them in a post from a few years ago: https://sidneyblaylockjr.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/where-you-end-is-not-where-you-begin-time-travel-in-movies/

12 Monkeys is where all these movies got their ideas/start, so it is a “referential” movie in the field of science fiction (time travel films) and has influenced films for over a decade.

Overall Grade: C

I might have rated this higher had I seen it earlier. However, so many later movies that I watched “stole” (paid homage/or more kindly, thought they could do the idea even better) that much of the movie’s uniqueness had already been worn through. It also doesn’t help that I’d already read many of the concepts in Sci-Fi novels even before the movie originally released. Generally speaking, its Short-stories–>Novels/Graphic Novels–>Film in terms of progression for Sci-Fi ideas. Want to be on the cutting edge, read sci-fi mags and anthologies, want to see the idea propagated to a mass audience, wait for the film. This is one that, at its time, might have made more of an impression (as it did to the countless filmmakers of successive time travel stories, but now, if you seen any of the recent time stories of the last 10 years, Source Code, Deja Vu, etc., then you have a pretty good idea of where the story is headed.

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Robin Hood (2018) Mini Review (No Spoilers)

Robin Hood and Azeem stare out into the distance as arrows fall around them on cloudy black night with orange fire at their backs.
Image Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/blame-game-of-thrones-for-the-useless-new-robin-hood-movie-1.3705686

I hate to do negative reviews for movies. Yes, yes, I know there are lot of people, both in print and in video (YouTube and where ever else) who love to savage a movie (I assume because it shows how “elite” they are in film and their eruditeness), but I’m not one of them. I recognize that a film is the result of a lot of hard work by individuals coming together to collaborate on a creative endeavor. Robin Hood (2018), was one of those movies, however, that simply did not come together based on the quality of the writing and choices made by the director.

The Scripting “Steals” All the Fun

So, it looks like Robin Hood (2018) was trying to go for an anachronistic tale in the vein of A Knight’s Tale, starring the late Heath Ledger. Now, for as fondly as that film is received currently, there are still a lot of problems with it that I will discuss in the next section. For this section, the quality of writing of the script simply was not there (for me) and really worked against the story. Yes, the second major area that I’m studying while working on my PhD is film, but I will say this: I’m still learning about film (probably will be for the rest of my life, but that’s okay). I don’t know every film nor do I have ALL of the historical movements down (yet–though I’ve bought a book that should help–more on this in a future post). However, even I could see quite a few reference points for the script. Telling your audience that this “isn’t the Robin Hood you know” still doesn’t alleviate the need for you as a writer to craft a believable tale. Credibility went out the window when there’s a “machine gun” like ballista/crossbow that pins down Locksley’s “squad” at the beginning of the movie (well, honestly it was gone with the anachronistic “draft notice” that Locksley was sent within the first 5 minutes of the movie, but that’s just piling on). This beginning part has shades of any recent war movie that’s come out in the last few years. One review referenced The Hurt Locker, while I saw shades of Black Hawk Down as well. Once Robin is back and becomes “The Hood,” I saw (way too many) parallels with The Mask of Zorro (especially in terms of story construction) down to the concept of a “mine.” One of the “carriage chase scenes,” even seemed shot like the motorcycle chase scene from Skyfall. I looked up the writer, while there are two listed in for the screenplay, I chose the one who was also listed for the “story” as that one is the one who has usually come up with the story and “pitched” it to Hollywood (usually through an agent, but possibly himself or through some 3rd party). However, I could find very little for this writer online, so I”ll be very dubious should I see his name listed on a future film.

Anachronism “Robs” the Movie’s Realism

So, in addition to the poor screenwriting of Robin Hood (2018), the choice to lean into it through anachronism pretty much sealed its fate. Anachronism rarely works well except in a comedic sense, such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Since that movie is a comedy, we know we’re supposed to laugh when we see an anachronistic element. The problem with anachronism (especially in Robin Hood 2018) is it ignores realism and tries to be “relevant” and “edgy” by telling a contemporary story in a contemporary way with contemporary elements mixed in with historical elements. I would argue that the only reason it worked in A Knight’s Tale is that the technique hadn’t been used in so long outside of comedy and it had a fairly likable protagonist in Heath Ledger. Also, it’s source material wasn’t as obvious as it pulled a bit from The Canterbury Tales and it did not (pay “homage”) to scenes/plots from other movies. However, as I recall, the original reviews weren’t always great. Even now, the Rotten Tomatoes score for it is 58% (79% for audience) and that’s with time coming to “mellow out” some of the film’s detractors. Robin Hood (2018)’s Rotten Tomato score is (as of this writing) if 15% (41% for the audience). Simply put–if you’re going to be anachronistic–it would probably be better just to create a “contemporary” version of the story, however contrived. At least, this way you’d get to tell the “contemporary” story you wanted without all the “historical” bits getting in the way.

Overall Score: F (59 or below)

This is the first movie on the blog that I’ve ever given this score. The only other movie I would have scored this low (for strictly artistic reasons–and not for political reasons) would have been Happy Feet. “Political reasons” just means my own personal ethos in life–there are films that I don’t agree with in message, content, and whatnot, but I’m cognizant to realize that my ethos works for me and not for everyone else, so even though I didn’t enjoy the movie, I’m mature enough to see the “qualities” of those movies.) Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Robin Hood (2018). I was taken out of the story from the very beginning and even the set pieces seemed derivative. Again, I hate to throw this movie “under the bus” as it were, as many people worked on it and the actors do a fine job. However, the script was simply too derivative and the anachronisms too pervasive for me to enjoy and get invested in the movie’s world or story.

Sidney

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Sunsetting Star Wars

Sunsetting Star Wars Two characters from Star Wars watch the twin suns set.
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2W5YPQJqUs

Okay, I know, a provactive title. And yes, The Last Jedi features into the discussion, but not nearly as much as one would think. I’ve known for a while now that the Disney version of Star Wars (at least for the last of the 3 Skywalker films) would be “sunsetting” the original characters and creating a whole new set of characters that we would follow through new movies for a “new” generation. My problem (at the time) wasn’t the sunsetting of the older characters–it was, would I like the new characters? Now, however, I have to say that it is isn’t the new characters that bother me (except the “grumpy Darklord”–Daisy Ridley’s term for Kylo Ren). What I really have a problem with is the way in which the old characters are being “retired.”

Be Fair to Your Audience

Yes, I know we live in an 18-35 year old world. I get it. This is where marketers focus their efforts on, this is where people really want to target their appeals to, but one of the things that I really dislike about the way Star Wars has treated its audience is that they haven’t honored the original actors/roles as much as they could have.

So, unless I get really heavily into spoilers, I can’t actually do a “deep dive” into the ways Disney has “disrespected” fans of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia from the original trilogy. Suffice to say, the resolution of the two men have not ended well. Carrie Fisher unfortunately, passed away, so I suspect we will see footage of her in the new movie, but I feel that they will be far more respectful to her character because she (sadly) is no longer with us (the Paul Walker effect, essentially).

As a long time fan of the films, I don’t understand why we can’t get a resolution of the old characters that doesn’t feature them going out in the way they do. I feel that both of the characters who’ve we’ve “resolved” so far from the original trilogy do not end in a way that is either consistent or satisfying to what we as fans were presented onscreen during Lucas’ original run.

Be Consistent

And this the cry that every fan asks every creator whether or not they originally created a character or not. Let me be absolutely clear–I don’t like The Last Jedi. One of the main reasons is that I don’t feel that the Disney Star Wars films are playing fair with audience expectations is that the characterizations are not even close to what the characters have exhibited in the past, nor do they honor the struggles that they originally had. For example, Luke struggled with redeeming his father from evil, yet his nephew “supposedly” (we see this off-screen) displays tendencies of “evil” and Luke most definitely (again, vague to avoid spoilers) does NOT try to even talk to the kid, let alone redeem him. That is antithetical to Luke’s characterization and doesn’t fit with what I know about the character. However, for plot reasons, we need Luke to ignore 20 years of history (his own history, btw) and act in a manner counter to what he has done previously.

The same is true for Han Solo’s character. While I can somewhat see what befalls him, he still has to act in a “dumb” fashion for his ending to occur. In the original trilogy, Han and Chewbacca rarely split up–it does happen, but it was in Jedi and close to the end. However, in Force Awakens, the split-up happens at just the right time for the “surprise” to happen and to allow Han to be “Solo” at just the right time.

Again, I have to be super-vague to keep from spoilers (& this may be hurting my argument), but I feel that a grave disservice has been done to the old school characters. Leia will probably get a “hero’s sendoff,” but why does she get to be the only one? And why after she’s passed away? My grandmother subscribed to the idea that we should give “people their flowers while they are living,” meaning that one should honor people while they are alive and not wait until they are dead. The actors in the original Star Wars did a wonderful job and their characters are well loved by millions of fans. Is it really so bad to ask the creators of the new series to honor that idea and to give the characters a “sunset” that is consistent with their characters and honors their actors in an appropriate way (which I don’t think is what has actually occurred).

Sidney

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Back in (Summer) School

Image Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/disney/comments/41hgay/all_disney_movies_that_have_been_covered_in/

Sorry for not blogging over the past couple of days. I have to sign up for at least one class every summer in order to keep my Graduate Assistantship for my program. While we had a greater selection of classes during the Summer session, I chose the Children’s Film class which runs from July 8th to August 8th. However, I forgot to check over the long July 4th holiday to see if we had readings/viewings posted for the class (we did), so I’ve been working really hard to play catch-up with the readings for the movies. Luckily, we’re watching (& discussing) movies in class, so I’m only having to read scholarship outside of class, but still that takes time.

Disney and the Disney Formula

Since this is a Children’s Film course, Disney is a titan in the industry and we are devoting a week to Disney films. We started with the original film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and we have moved up into the Disney Renaissance with their more modern classics, such as The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and The Lion King. Next week we will be moving away from Disney, but right now, we’re investigating Disney and the Disney Formula, and we’re looking at how the movies’ messages and characterizations are changing, and have changed, over the years.

Deep Dive

As this is a graduate course, we are doing a “deep dive” into many facets of the movie and, so far, I’m really enjoying the class. I missed most of the “Disney Renaissance” movies, although I managed to see a great majority of Disney’s older movies (Disney Channel) and their newer movies (Pixar) through DVDs/BluRays. So, for me, this class is a great chance to catch-up on a segment of movies that is very much the foundation of the current generation.

Anyway, I have quite a few blog entries that I want to write (I’m in the middle of one now that I really need to finish), so even though it will be sporadic, I still to plan post as regularly as I can. Talk to you all later.

Sidney

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Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Mini-Movie Review–No Spoilers)

Spider-Man (Miles Morales) Movie Poster with him swinging in his iconic black and red Spider costume across Brooklyn New York.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4633694/

Wow! Just wow! So I told a GTA collegue who works in the Writing Center on Friday that I was trying to expand my Film knowledge by watching films that were outside of my normal Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Superhero genres and that I was going to try to find a nice, innocuous Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) to watch–I actually had one in mind–the one with Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal–sorry, had to Google the name) which I’ve watched some, but not all before. However, I forgot that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Spiderverse) released this weekend on Netflix, so I watched that instead (sorry for the unintentional lie there!). This movie is SO good.

Maybe My New Favorite Spider-Man Movie?

So, it is liable to be a while before I get to see the latest Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man Far From Home), but so far, I have to say that I think Spiderverse is my new favorite Spider-Man movie. There was a level of spark, creativity, and pluckiness to the new movie that won me over quite a bit. I really liked the way that Miles Morales was portrayed in the movie as a character first and as a character of color secondly. The writers manage to capture the angst of not fitting in the school setting for me in a way that (mostly) eliminated the things that I dislike about the school setting (which are the cringe-worthy awkwardness that usually happens there–although there were two “cringy” scenes still). Like Spider-Man 2, Spiderverse is a reflection on how to be a hero in everyday life. Spider-Man stories are best when one gets a sense that no matter what life throws at our main hero, he’s going to find a way to rise just a little higher to meet the challenge, even if it looks like he’s broken and down for the count.

This Movie is a Love-Letter to Spider-Man Fans!

Seriously, if you have any interest at all in the Spider-Man mythos, lore, and Rogues Gallery of the character’s various incarnations over the years, then this movie is a definite treat! There are little nods and references to all things Spidey all over the place. I saw “toy” Spider-Man motorcycle in the movie (I had the “Spidey-copter” and I need to go back and see if that was referenced — it would blow my mind if it was) and that’s just the beginning. I won’t go into spoilers, but just know that other versions of Spidey’s iconic self and suits do make an appearance in the movie. They even reference some of the classic scenes from the previous Sony movies at the beginning to help set the scene (in a fun way that is almost a referential self-parody). This movie is, while not quite perfect, is still one of the best representations of the Spider-Man mythos that I’ve seen in (and I’ve seen a lot of them starting with Spider-Man from the Electric Company TV series from the 1970s all the way through present). If there has been a representation of Spidey in the past 40 years or so, then I’ve probably seen it (or heard about it) somewhere and this one is fantastic!

Overall Grade: A+

If I was giving it a score, it would easily earn a 97-98 as I feel that it hits pretty much that I want in a Spider-man movie while minimizing the usual crap-tacular school awkwardness that is inherent in the adolescence version of the character. There are a couple of “cringe-inducing” moments still (having to relate to the school — again, without spoiling it, Miles’ early interactions with Gwen, while funny, do still exhibit that cringyness that I don’t enjoy–but it was so brief and so well done that it really didn’t hamper the movie or my enjoyment of the overall movie significantly, which is the reason for such a high rating. If you have Netflix (or even if you don’t but like the character), I would HIGHLY recommend checking this one out. Spiderverse is something special!

Sidney

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Afrofuturism Canon

Women in futuristic African Attire in the middle with characters from the movie Black Panther on the right and left of the women.  There is a blue background behind the characters with transparent futuristic faces in the background.
Image Source: https://revolt.tv/stories/2018/02/27/octavia-butler-black-panther-afrofuturism-tomorrow-0700aed4c1

I’ve noted before that this summer I’m doing a lot of reading for both Rhetoric & Composition theory as well as Afrofuturism (I’m also reading the new textbook for my English 1010 class coming up for Fall 2019 to try to lay out how I’m going to teach it). I’m noticing quite a few things. One of the things that I want to talk about today is the fact that because Afrofuturism is just now going “mainstream” due to the success of Black Panther, its “canon” (the works that define it) are still being written/formulated/expressed. There’s still a quite a bit of debate as to what exactly constitutes an Afrofuturistic text (heck, my spellcheck even now is underlining Afrofuturism in red, highlighting that the term is still one that is not widely disseminated).

What is (currently) considered Afrofuturism?

So, the one of the most current definitions of Afrofuturism that I’ve seen is that Afrofuturism is a future (futuristic future or future that has futuristic elements) that deals in some way with the African diaspora. That is, the contintent of Africa in some way or the forced migration of African citizens to other continents (mainly for slave labor) and the effects (future) that has had on the culture. While I personally feel that this definition is too narrow (for reasons I’ll explain shortly), this means that the “canon” is generally forming around authors and filmic representations of this idea. So far the major authors are Delany, Butler, Hopkinson, and Okorafor (a fairly recent addition). I’ve attempted and abandoned Hopkinson’s seminal work Brown Girl in the Ring, but at some point before my dissertation, I know that I’ll have to hold my nose and read a representative work by each of these authors. Again, while I have no particular animus towards these authors in particular, I don’t really like their brand of sci-fi, which in the days before the Afrofuturism term began to be used in the 1990s, there work would have been label Social Sci-Fi and this is a sub-genre that doesn’t really interest me as much. The filmic representation for Afrofuturism is even bleaker. Basically, the only “mainstream” examples are Black Panther (seminal, in my opinion) and maybe Space is the Place (formative). If you google Afrofuturism films, you will find others listed, but again, none of them could be considered mainstream.

What is (currently) Excluded from Afrofuturism

Quite a lot, actually–too much in my opinion. A specific example from one the articles that I’ve read is Hancock because it doesn’t explicitly deal with the African Diaspora. If that’s the case, then it stands to reason that other predominately African American/African Descent movies in the Sci-Fi genre would also be excluded, even if there is a valid for including them. I, Robot would be out (even though it talks about robots as an underclass/servant class like People of Color used to be), most of Will Smith’s other work, pretty much any of the Denzel Washington Sci-Fi movies, the (poorly reviewed) adaptation of the Dark Tower which “race-bends” the main character and most certainly should be discussed–in terms of controversy to Idris Elba’s casting and what that means for those of African Descent in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, and even the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which I would argue is probably the most important Afrofuturistic film to be released since Black Panther because it argues for “self determination” and not letting your past define your future–yet, it doesn’t do so from an African Diaspora context, so it will probably be excluded–and I don’t think that right. In the book space, both Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due are working in the Sci-Fi genre, but while I’ve seen them on the list for one forumulation for the canon, they are often left off of others for the “Big Four” listed above.

Why We Need ALL Our Authors of Color

So, this one is running longer than I intended, so I’ll end by saying: we NEED ALL our African American/Descent authors who are working in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy space for Afrofuturism. Too often, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have been genres that have been the province of writers outside the African American/Descent culture and as such, our voices have been marginalized and hindered through lack of representation. Without voices inside the field, we risk letting others define who we are and more importantly, without different ideas flowing throughout the “canon,” we risk others labeling our contributions as “one-note” and lacking the diversity we find in ourselves and wish to bring to the greater writing community at large. “Canon” formation is a good thing, but limiting a canon too much can create a homogeneity that can rob us of our voices just as surely as no recognition at all.

Sidney

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Hunter-Killer: Mini Movie Review

Submarine broaching the ice with Captain and Defense Secretary (US) in the background with (movie) explosions all around.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1846589/mediaindex

In my quest to see a movie every weekend of the year, I watched a movie that got a really poor Rotten Tomato score, but it was an action movie that Apple was renting for .99 and it was one that I had a moderate amount of interest about seeing, so I went ahead and took a chance on it. The movie was called Hunter-Killer and is about a “rookie” US submarine captain who is ordered to investigate the disappearance of another US sub. From there, political and military intrigue ensues — making it necessary to use a combination of stealth and force to save the day. I put “rookie” submarine captain in quotes becaude even though this is technically the captain’s first command, he is a career Navy-man and his knowledge of sea-craft and war-craft is preternaturally good, so much so that it almost strains credibility at times.

36%? It’s Better Than That!

So, understanding that reviews are subjective, this movie is better than its 36% (at time of writing this blog post) on Rotten Tomatoes suggests. The (current) Audience score of 71% would bear out my argument. Is this a phenomenal movie? No, it isn’t. There are places in the movie that strain credibility. The captain of the US boat is prescient to a fault. The performances of some of the “Russian” characters veer into caricatures (and we won’t even talk about their accents), and there aren’t enough female characters–maybe this reflects real life American subs, but the movie ignores reality when it wants to, so why not here as well. However, even with these faults, the movie does action pretty well and submarine-based tension very well. It gives us a fair amount of action the entire way through. Without spoilers, the screenwriter gives us both submarine action and ground-based combat (in about a 50/50 ratio), so it isn’t the true submarine drama that the title makes it out to be, but that is okay. It tries (but doesn’t always succeed) to be a “love letter” to the crews on submarines while still retaining its Action Movie heritage. However, there are TV shows with submarines (I’m thinking of Sub-Rosa–I think?–from NCIS–the one with Kate and Gibbs on the submarine) that do it better–even with a lesser budget.

The Not-So-Perfect Movie with the Perfect Title

I think that the movie’s title does a lot to hurt it. Hunter-Killer implies a sub-hunt movie with sub’s hunting subs and a game of underwater, tactical chess, and that’s just not what this movie is at its heart. It wants to do submarine combat, but it also wants to be a tactical squad based action drama like Special Forces & Lone Survivor. I feel that if you like those movies along with The Hunt for Red October (which I did), then your enjoyment of the movie will be much higher.

Overall Rating: C+

I would have given this, in grading terms, a 78 or 79. It tries earnestly and (in terms of enjoyment) it mostly succeeds. If not for some troublesome elements all the way through: prescient captain, annoying first officer, caricature of the Russians, too few (& underdeveloped) female roles, and a title that implies the movie would be different from what it actually turned out to be, I thought that the movie still delivered enough action, thrills, and tension to be an enjoyable experience.

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness: Why Killmonger (Blackpanther) Was Wrong

Killmonger and T'Challa (Black Panther) face off against each other.
Image Source: https://medium.com/@wyattdonigan/why-killmonger-was-quite-possibly-the-greatest-villain-ever-on-screen-2a1288413065

A quick update on the weekend–I had planned to write a blog post of Friday, but due to how busy I was in the Writing Center and the fact that I also went home for the weekend made it nearly impossible for me to get a blog post written that I would have been happy with, so I just didn’t write one for Friday. Monday was an off day for me, and I spent the day doing (and recovering from) yard work. So, even though I mentally planned this blog entry, it just didn’t get done due to yard work. Now with that out of the way, on to the post . . .

Killmonger as a Hero?

As I’ve been reading through articles and texts on Afrofuturism, there has been quite a sentiment that I (also) heard when the movie first played: Killmonger could have been (and in more radical comments–should have been) the hero of the movie. Now, long-time readers of the blog know that I hate the new (although at this point, it’s fairly old) trend of trying to make the “villain” into the “hero” and vice-versa. I could only shake my head during the time. Despite my “anti-hero”/”villain” bias, I still knew that there was something wrong with that sentiment. I couldn’t put my finger on it, nor could I successfully articulate it (even to myself). However, as I’ve read more and more articles, I’ve finally discovered why I dislike this idea/ideology so much: to take Killmonger as the “hero” and to take his view is to ignore the actual theme of the movie–hate or love, which is more powerful?

Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate; Only Love Can Do That

In many ways, the Black Panther (T’Challa) vs Killmonger debate offers a rehash of the Martin Luther King, Jr/Malcolm X debate that occurred historically, which (although there were other more fundamental differences) boils down to violent vs non-violent protests for civil rights. Flash forward, and you still have that debate–now, T’Challa wonders if things done in the past can be forgiven (made right–and how does a “good” man/king do that) vs. Eric (who is bound by the past and can’t push forward). Eric wants to continue to fight the battle of the past and just cannot move forward. While he has a point–slavery (and injustices it engendered were wrong and horrifying)–he now wants to use violence to retaliate for past atrocities. One article that I read, while admitting that Killmonger’s violence is a problem, rationalizes that he is bad because he uses the violence indiscriminately–against both the “colonizers” and his own people. In other words, the authors had no problems that he was violent–just that he was violent to people of his own color/kind as well as to those out of his race.

The thing that T’Challa does that makes him a hero is that he can acknowledge the wrong, but then he can figure out how to try to find a solution and then to move on. Eric is all about revenge/avenge the past. He wants to perpetrate the same fear, the same destructive behaviors, just to a different group. In essence, Killmonger is all about flipping the dynamic on its head, while T’Challa is interested in changing the paradigm in a positive and helpful way. He is not interested in fighting the old battles or (more importantly) turning the same old tired paradigm upside down. Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make is that the avenge/revenge angle is one that is not correct, no matter what the authors of the articles (and popular sentiment) may want. In this case, T’Challa’s message parallels that of a Jedi–“Defend, never to attack.” Sure, you can remember the wrong, so as not to allow it to happen to you (or anyone else). Killmonger’s attitude is a “Do Unto Others as They Have Done Unto You” and this negatively affects both the man and the message–which is why the movie (and the hero) is ultimately T’Challa and his worldview.

Sidney

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  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Movie Round-up: Recent Movies that I’ve Seen (June 2019)

Apple TV at home
Image Source: http://www.premiumhollywood.com/2018/12/17/the-benefits-of-watching-movies-at-home/

I’ve seen two movies over the past two weeks. I don’t really have enough to say about them both to write a full mini-movie review, so I thought I’d just talk briefly about them in a single post. Unlike some other content that I’ve drafted (but may never see the light of day), this post isn’t really scholarly or high-brow. It’s just me talking about movies that I’ve seen recently.

Henry V

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Henry-V-Kenneth-Branagh/dp/079284615X

This is a movie that came on PBS during my 2nd year in college at U. T. Knoxville, but I wasn’t able to see through to the end because it would have went past 12:00 am and I had a ton of library books (UTK Library) due and I would have been hit with a massive fine. So I begrudgingly left the movie in the middle and didn’t get to see the resolution to go and turn in the books. Well, I finally got to see it through to the end a couple of weeks ago. I was looking for something to watch on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago and I saw that this movie was available for streaming, so I decided to watch (& finish) it this time. It is a stirring as I remember and it also does a a great job of adapting Shakespeare’s words and works to the screen. I like the narrator of the piece and his contemporary dress along with the way he sets the stage, but of course the showstopper is Kenneth Branagh, and his performance is amazing in this film. I’m glad that I was finally able to complete my viewing of the film as it was as good as I remembered it to be as I was watching it.

14 Blades

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/14-Blades-Import-allemand/dp/B003Y98CZO

After watching the “drama” that was Henry V, I wanted something a little lighter for the next movie, so I went to my old standby–a martial arts movie. While these can sometimes be serious, usually they tend to be, if not downright comedic, a little on the lighter side with a combination of outrageous action combined with a storyline that (for the most part) is played seriously and not for laughs. I consider martial arts movies as “ligther” fare for the most part, however.

I couldn’t decide on what to watch, so I just chose one (mostly) at random: 14 Blades. What I didn’t realize that it was an early work (I think) of Donnie Yen, one of my favorite martial artists outside of Jackie Chan. Donnie Yen is a more “serious” martial actor than Jackie Chan is (and that just means that Donnie tends to go for more “dramatic” roles than “comedic” roles). I like them both, just for different reasons. I’ve “seen” more movies that Jackie has done (nearly all of his old collection), but I “own” more of Donnie’s movies (all of the Ip Man movies and Kung Fu Killer).

I enjoyed the movie–it was a standard martial arts movie. There were places were it was very good and there places where the storytelling was too “on-the-nose,” but overall I liked it, and the fact that I got to see a performance by Donnie Yen was just a great bonus. It took its subject fairly seriously (maybe a little more serious than I was wanting), but still it was a fun ride and I really enjoyed watching it.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

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