Thoughts Re: “Beware the Batman”

julio 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm (Animation) (, , , , , , )

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You know, given my burnout on Batman, I wasn’t all that hyped up about the third cartoon series in ten years. While the hype indicated that this one, at least, reflected some unconventional choices—Katana as a regular character, loads of emphasis on Alfred as a former spy-master, new takes on E-list villains—still, it’s Batman.

Well, two episodes in, and I’m interested. There’s plenty of room for polish—the latest episode, for example–but the way the show is building up its overarching stories and characters is currently reminding me a lot of Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated—I understand both shows share a producer–and that can only be a good thing.

 

  • I’m unsure what to make of Magpie’s design. While I have no problem with “sexy” costumes when they make sense for the character involved, I’m not sure this particular one passes this particular test. Sure, there’s a lot of Catwoman in Magpie, and Selina was always one of those characters partly defined by their sexuality, but just like it annoys me when Ms. Kyle’s zipper is left open to her navel, I feel there’s a space between “sexy” and “bustier and kinky boots”. It feels like an unwelcome encroachment of an unwanted design element into a realm where it’d previously held little influence.
  • Given my continuing frustrations with he latest TMNT‘s lack of female characters, the fact that the second episode of the show features four different women playing different roles within it makes me supremely happy. It doesn’t pass the Bedchel Test, sadly, and my gut tells me that such prominence will prove an outlier (although three of the four women are coded as “recurring”, so who knows) but still, it’s nice to see.
  • On that note, Barbara looks adorable.
  • Also like TMNT, Batman has that CGI-show problem of looking like it’s taking place in an empty city. It’s slightly better than TMNT is, but only just. Here’s hoping it doesn’t limit this show like it does that one.
  • As someone who’s put in a lot of thought into the concept and history of gun censorship in cartoons—I’m a frequent contributor at TVTropes’ “Family Friendly Firearms” page—I was quite interested on what approach the creators would take after the Aurora massacre convinced them to tweak their firearm designs to be less realistic. And this one is particularly interesting, because you can sort of tell what the original weapons were supposed to look like.  In any case, the weapons have altered in a way that doesn’t annoy me too much–a couple in the first episode are given weird un-weaponlike colors, but they still work.
  • There’s a weird dissonance when it comes to the way Batman’s acting. There’s a certain callousness to his actions that feels at odds with his level of experience. Like, it feels to me that earlier Batman should be a kinder gentler, Batman, yet this version is putting people into comas, electrocuting them, and telling them it’s their own fault when they agree to become subjects of unethical experiments—as if coercion weren’t a possibility.
  • Professor. Pyg and Mr. Toad, from the first episode, have been turned into eco-terrorists. While it kinda works, I also kinda wish they’d taken a different approach when reimagining the characters. I’m tired of seeing the only people concerned with the environment being either terrorists or jokes.

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Re: “Pacific Rim”

julio 19, 2013 at 9:31 am (Film, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

  • Clearly, the film takes place in a world in which Neon Genesis Evangelion never existed. While actually mentioning the resemblance would have left a bad taste in my mouth, I would have still appreciated some nod to it.
  • That said, I wish that in some respects, it had been more like Evangelion, particularly as it pertains to the world-building, which is where I had the most problems with the film. First and foremost, I find it inconceivable that any sort of competent authority would have taken such a blasé attitude to the study of Kaijuu as The People In Charge do here. I mean, how the heck does “Kaijuu research”–which would be necessary regardless of whatever measure is taken against them—get reduced to a two-man team? THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ANY ANTI-KAIJUU MEASURE. And yet it takes years to figure out they’re clones?  NERV would be so disappointed.
  • From what I understood, there was nothing inherently special about the Jaegers—they were just equipped with enough firepower to take down most Kaijuu. So if it’s about having the right weapon, why not diversify? Why not have plasma-cannon equipped planes, or maybe a killsat placed directly above the seam? Or heck, any sort of non-Jaeger scout-units, so that they don’t have to go in blind every single time and waste their only effective defensive measure trying to figure out what their up against?
  • I’m unsure what to make of the relationship between Raleigh and Mako. Part of me wanted it to be platonic, because genuine friendships between straight opposite-sex people are still so rare in film, but another part of me wanted to support the idea of having the only romance in a film be interracial. What I got in the end, though, just let me unsatisfied, cause it read to me like a romance arc, with the lack of a kiss in the end suggesting that they wimped out about making it explicit for some reason. Then again, there’s a good chance that I may be misreading things, so I don’t know.
  • Given the Tumblr hype for this film and the good things I’d heard about what it’s approach to diversity, I was, in the end, rather disappointed on that front. As fantastic as Rinko Kikuchi and Edris Alba are on their roles, and as much as their characters are totally the emotional core of the film which isn’t to say I found either of them terribly interesting: theirs are the sort of characters whom I feel are made worth paying attention to by their actors– their inclusion feels like an oasis in a film that otherwise leaves me parched. As nice as it is it to see a woman of color in the female lead role, it’s hard for me to give cookies to the film when Mako is the only woman in the film (the other female Jaeger pilot is essentially a named extra). In the end, the two characters end up feeling like exceptions and exceptional. Just where are all the female Jaeger pilots/pilot candidates?

In the end, my biggest issue with the film is this: it does nothing that others haven’t done before or better, and what it does is for the most part boring.  I feel that given the premise and the actors and the budget, Pacific Rim is a film that I feel easily had the potential to be another Speed Racer (I love Speed Racer) and yet falls short, landing instead on “merely okay”. I’m glad it exists, and that it was given a shot, and hope there are films that improve on what it does. I’m glad that it found an audience, and hope that further increases the profiles of the people involved in it, particularly Keiko Minuchi, whom I hope to see in lots more stuff. But I just can’t share in the enthusiasm.

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