Tag Archives: entertainment

Pacific Rim and a Pile of Good Things

Pacific Rim

Giant badassery, anyone?

I’ve never been one for giant robots. There has always seemed something impersonal about their metallic exteriors—as a young thing I was drawn to much squishier fare, the children-aimed toy-selling fiction I latched onto starring fantastical animals in place of transforming vehicles. Even now I’m not so much into the whole mecha thing, and unless it comes highly recommended (see: Neon Genesis Evangelion) or is reportedly so delightfully terrible it shouldn’t be missed (read: Transformers 3), I won’t send my focus in its direction.

I also don’t necessarily have a fixation with giant monsters attacking cities either, or a combination of both the aforementioned. So Pacific Rim pretty much passed by my radar. Until, naturally, Writing Buddy leapt forward and redirected my radar to encompass it. Reportedly, it was actually good. Reportedly, I was to go and see it right that instant.

In WB we trust, let me tell you, because it was several different kinds of amazing.

Good Thing #1: Awesome World-building

In the near future, the daily life on earth has been somewhat disrupted by giant alien creatures popping up from an interdimensional rift between two tectonic plates, leading to awesome Del Toro-designed monstrosities looming out of our most iconic and picturesque oceans and smashing up everything they see. In response to this, mankind put aside its old rivalries and came together to combat their giant funky foes, creating the Jaeger program: a taskforce of giant human-piloted robots to punch these extra-terrestrial enigmas in the face. Continue reading


Filed under Alex Watches, And I Think That's Neat

Free!dom of Artistry

A new show is taking the anime world by storm, raising palms to laughing faces all across the fandom community. It’s been wonderfully received so far… you could even say ratings were going swimmingly.

Free! promotional material

Sorry for the pun. Have some pretty boys as recompense

Free! is a new series currently airing from Kyoto Animation about a group of friends who are competitive swimmers. That’s it. It’s two episodes in, so no great overarching plot can be expected to have revealed itself… but it has been very well established that this is not a show that will be watched for the plot anyway. Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings

Dying in Fiction 103: Deal with the Supernatural for Long Enough

Within fiction there are certain codes, ingrained enough in our collective psyche that, hypothetically, if we were to end up stranded in a made-up world, we, as geeks and fiction aficionados, would sort of know what to do to stay alive.

It’s a dangerous business being a fictional character. As if life wasn’t hard enough, you’re caught and contracted into the business of propelling along a story, and that means having constant drama flung at you by the godly hands of your writers. They’ve got to keep the audience invested, see, whether that means piquing their curiosity about the future of your love life or scaring the bejeezus out of them with life-or-death suspense. My understanding of television writing comes down to this: it’s a group of people in a room with some pens and paper and a whiteboard, rubbing their hands together and going “Okay, team. How can we mess around with everyone’s lives this season?”

Not even kidding there. I listened to a seminar on it at a writer’s festival I went to, but that’s an irrelevant detail except that it allows me to waft around the fact I visit writer’s festivals and am clearly a deeply cultured human being. The point is, screenwriters are in the biz of cramming as much drama into their characters’ lives as they can to make their creations as engaging as possible. In any long running series, it’s inevitable that at one point or another they’d have to start running out. After all, there are only so many times you can raise the stakes before it gets ridiculous. When scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel with a creative spatula, writers are often faced with the option of the ultimate dramatic device: kill off a main character.

If we’re talking about anything set in the real world, this can be a serious move that many executives, team members and fans would rebel against in terror. But if your show resides in a universe where the supernatural is putty in its writers’ hands, then you’ll find there’s much more leeway, and, as the hero, much more of a chance you’ll be horribly murdered. Because they can bring you back. Continue reading


Filed under How To

Cool Cool Cool: Alex Watches Community

The cast of Community

Community is my kind of humour, laden with pop culture references and parodies that are not so intricate that they’re not funny if you don’t get them—at the same time, not entirely relying on them and the attached stigmas of the people who get them to be entertaining (cough).

For the as yet unawares to the inner workings of this show, it follows the antics of a group of students at the fictitious Greendale Community College, the audience walked into the midst of it by Jeff Winger, a suave and stylish lawyer who not only eerily reminds me of someone I went to school with but has been debarred recently upon the discovery that his degree was forged. So tasked with getting a legitimate American university diploma, he seeks out the laziest route and enrols at Greendale planning to breeze through four years of his life with just enough credits to escape and be cool again, and possibly get laid along the way.

Things change for him, however, when in an attempt to follow his latter plan by using his impeccable charms on high-school-drop-out activist-of-everything sometime-hipster-photographer Britta Perry, Jeff finds himself in a study group with six other misplaced misfits who, without his intention, become a tight-knit group of friends. And the adventure begins, as Abed would say. Continue reading


Filed under Alex Watches

Being the Media’s Plaything: Not Actually Gender Specific

The phrase “Why isn’t there a Men’s Rights movement?” is often equated to questions like “Why aren’t there soup kitchens for rich people?”

Of course women have, and have had over the past century, every right to speak out against being screwed over by the rulers of the world, and their demands had every right to be louder than men’s because you know, they could already vote and earned twice as much money. But as a companion of mine pointed out recently, when it comes to things less fundamental to survival but still damaging to society, like my favourite poison media representation, both genders are equally troubled.

I talk a lot on here about how the female gender is preyed on and toyed with by fiction and the media, but less about guys. Because, well, the obvious answer is, they get trapped in its claws less. There aren’t six hundred different books and magazines and films beaming them conflicting and troubling messages about how to love, how to act, how to think and what to like and how to define your existence based on your gender-based position in society.

Hey, wait a second…

Okay, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take some of my older posts about females being messed with by the media and look at the male side of the issue. That sounds like fun. Continue reading


Filed under Fun with Isms

Once Upon a Badass

Once upon a time, in a faraway enchanted kingdom called Holly Wood, there was a group of writers and producers who gathered, like a council of wizards, around a round table in the depths of their mystical headquarters. Together they talked for many days and nights, toiling away as suns set and moons rose, searching and racking their brains for a solution that would save the kingdom.

Suddenly, one of the wizards sat up straight, his hands hitting the table. “I have it!” he cried. The others gathered around him, shuffling excitedly and wearily in their robes. The wizard looked at all of them. “What if we take classic fairy tales,” he exclaimed into the hush that had befallen the room. “And make them… badass?

There was a silence, then the wizards threw up their hands and cheered. They clasped their faces and laughed hysterically, they embraced and danced. They had done it. They had come up with something new and exciting. The kingdom would rejoice.

And they certainly wouldn’t notice if they repeated their new spell again and again…

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Blasting into a cinema near you

Continue reading


Filed under Archetypes and Genre

The Genre That Won’t Stay Dead


Oh, aren’t they wonderful? They’re flesh-hungry, bloodthirsty, shambling balls of apocalyptic fun that we can all enjoy. There’s a zombie film for everyone, from fans of gore and horror to those in want of a romantic comedy to an opportunity for a fun family outing to the cinema.

In less lyrical prose, zombies are freaking everywhere. They are in our video games and our comics and our movies and our TV shows and our children’s programming and our books. They are a staple of popular culture and everyone knows what they are. How exactly did this happen? And, my big question for this week, why are we so obsessed with dead people that walk around?

Zombies would have to be one of the most recognised fictional monsters out there, alongside Frankenstein’s monster and all that seek to reanimate it (no pun intended… actually that’s a blatant lie) and vampires, which funnily enough both have their roots in Gothic literature. Zombies didn’t shamble towards the Western media until the 1930s, and then they were a very different type of thing. The original zombies, of course, were not the reanimated dead but ordinary people put under a spell using voodoo, leaving their association much more with the horrors of exotic witchcraft than radioactivity-induced brain-eating. They were a favourite movie monster in the early days of cinema and were the star of many a moving picture such as White Zombie (1931), Revolt of the Zombies (1936) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943). As you can see, they marketed their niche very well.

I Walked with a Zombie poster

“Her radiant blonde loveliness ravaged through the curse of vengeful voodoo!”

Continue reading


Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Bad Morals, Good TV

A split promo of 'Weeds' and 'Secret Diary of a Callgirl'

Some lovely person sat me down recently and showed me the first episode of Breaking Bad, and I swear it was love at first sight. Though I could tell it was to be an emotionally abusive relationship, I was hooked, intrigued and enamoured.

Breaking Bad is about Walter White, a fifty-year-old scientist who has dropped remarkably from his career’s peak, and finds himself in a dead-end job teaching chemistry to high school students and working spare hours at a car wash. He has a growing family to provide for, with a disabled son and a pregnant wife, with his successful and delightfully obnoxious brother- and sister-in-law hovering over them. When he is diagnosed with lung cancer and two years to live, he decides that he has nothing to lose and delves into the production of crystal meth with the help of an ex-student.

Already an interesting premise, to watch this mild-mannered innocent walk head-first into a world few of us have seen the inside of. What exactly will happen in the catalyst created by the good citizen and his terrible but seductive moral decision?

This is the premise of a lot of shows, actually. Weeds follows the story of a newly widowed single mother who begins dealing marijuana to afford her upper middle class lifestyle. Again, a perfectly reasonable character who could be anyone’s smiling neighbour engaging in grossly immoral activities. The same goes for Dexter, on a terrifyingly high level, in which the viewers get inside the story and mind of a compulsive serial killer.

Secret Diary of a Callgirl is exactly what it claims to be, Hung follows a man who becomes a male prostitute… the list goes on. Drug dealing and murder are, of course, illegal and hideously immoral in the eyes of our society, and prostitution has its own set of stigmas, especially with the character in question being a man, which is a rare subversion that causes all eyebrows within a 30 metre radius to rise. But if the actions these characters commit are so heinous then why are we so enamoured with their stories? Shouldn’t we as respectable citizens be appalled and repelled by the very suggestion, let alone the prospect of watching the intricacies play out on screen? Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings

Yes Homo: A Study in Subtext

A comic detailing the issue

Anyone who has ventured far enough into the Intertubes in pursuit of more information on a favourite show or book, or perhaps companionship on the subject, will have stumbled into the glorious and bizarre world of shipping (that is, for those giving their computer screens blank stares right now, the mental pairing up of characters within the show in a romantic context). They will also have discovered a universal rule: everything is shippable.

Yes, children, everything in this series is shippable! Even I’m shippable, but that is called self-insert and is frowned on in many circles.

 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory jokes aside, you shall discover that it’s actually quite true. If any characters appear within the same screen space for more than a few seconds (and sometime if they don’t!) there will be someone somewhere who wants to see them end up together. And this includes (shock and horror!!!) those of the same gender. Continue reading


Filed under Things We Need to Stop Doing

In Defence of Fandom Punching Bags

There’s always that one character that gets a barrel of fan hatred dumped on them. Always, without question. It’s one of those rule of the universe things (others include: if you drop toast it will always land spread side down and get covered in carpet fluff and cat hair, if your infallible washing machine that has worked for 20 years ever breaks down it will be when you desperately need it, and if it’s possible for a cat to do, there are at least ten videos of it on YouTube).

Upon inspection, however, I’ve begun to wonder what exactly it is that magnetises so much bitterness towards these fictional people, especially from the loudest demographic of most fandoms: the young adult female bloggers.

Let’s begin with the example of Sansa Stark of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. I have yet to delve into the intricacies of this series and its fandom but from the periphery (tumblr is a wonderful thing) I can see that there’s not a lot of love for her. In fact, she’s one of the least popular people in the series, and the subject of a lot of whinery, mostly centring around the fact that she is “whiny” “shallow” “useless” and “annoying”.

Sansa Stark

It’s because she’s ginger, isn’t it?

Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings