Fun Size Episode 19 – This Human Centipede of Cinematic Nonsense

We’re back in the studio for a continued conversations with our friend Kit Laika, to dig into why Dwayne Johnson may be the most likeable human being in the world.

And then we tempt fate by taking a critical look at the first DC superhero movie to get universal critical acclaim in nearly a decade!

Kit has an unpopular opinion about the new Wonder Woman film. What are the reasonable expectations we can have for a blockbuster superhero film? We talk about how we can unfairly pile our hopes and dreams onto a piece of entertainment, and how it can often be difficult to be honest about something that we really, really want to love.

6 thoughts on “Fun Size Episode 19 – This Human Centipede of Cinematic Nonsense

  1. I can’t get behind the idea that if there’s no threat the character might die, there’s no investment. Death is, as far as I’m concerned, the least dramatic risk you can take in a story, because it’s ‘all-or-nothing’.
    Characters can risk loss, they can risk emotional damage, they can risk the failure of their goals. All you have to do is invest them with genuine emotional weight.

    With that said, while I enjoyed Wonder Woman, I felt that they definitely failed to ‘stick the ending’, resorting to Cliche Ending #2 instead of something that would have been thematically consistent, and there were a bunch of sequences where it felt they were SO CLOSE to doing something really significant but they shied away at the last moment and went with the easy option.
    As an example, when she beats Ares with ‘love’, they made it traditional Hollywood love – ‘heterosexual, romantic, monogamous love’ – where they could have made it the love that makes a man who lost everything is still willing to work with a man whose people stole everything from him. The love that makes a low-life criminal dream of the stage. The love that means that a killer can still find it in his heart to sing.

    I also think that the ‘White Queen Argument’ doesn’t hold water because, sure, the character uses her sexuality as a weapon, but the fact is her creators – John Byrne and Chris Claremont – were colossal pervs with truckloads of weird sexual hang-ups.
    So is it really ‘her decision’, or is she a lingerie-clad doll in the hands of a pair of weirdly hormonal middle-aged perverts?

  2. “I can’t get behind the idea that if there’s no threat the character might die, there’s no investment. Death is, as far as I’m concerned, the least dramatic risk you can take in a story, because it’s ‘all-or-nothing’.
    Characters can risk loss, they can risk emotional damage, they can risk the failure of their goals. All you have to do is invest them with genuine emotional weight. ”

    I do agree and if I were to make the same point again, I’d broaden it. When you know that all of the characters are coming back for the next five movies — as well as all their supporting characters — and you can already see still promotional images of them years in advance, it tells you that they aren’t likely to change much or the current thing you’re watching isn’t likely to have that much impact on them.

    Now, my brain knows this, deep down. It’s the truth of every serial use character from James Bond to Superman, but a good story can make me forget that, and showing me stuff five years in advance while I’m still consuming *this* stuff makes it really hard to forget.

    I wish that movies could just tell their own story, and not have quite so much obtrusive advertisements for future movies woven into them. The stuff like Logan, that almost go out of their way to eschew from Easter Eggs, cameos and crossovers are just so much more attractive to me these days.

    I get that serial characters are likely to survive the story, but don’t rub it in my face, is my point.

  3. Waited to listen to this one until I actually saw the movie (mission accomplished last night); a lot of thoughts on it are still swirling in my head, especially after listening to your show as well, but in general I can say that I’m more or less in Mike’s camp in that I thought it was good, but not great. It definitely didn’t live up to the expectations I had built up by the gushing assessments from friends/acquaintances who’d already seen it.
    For me, the disappointment stemmed mainly from the disjointed story, which was frustrating, because there’s so many elements of the movie I really liked – first and foremost, I thought Gadot was very well cast. (Also, I have to say I like Chris Pine better as Steve Trevor than as Capt. Kirk.)

  4. Wonder Women

    I really disagree with your analysis of Wonder Women. It seemed Many of your points seemed more because you wanted to be a contrarian then a serious critique.

    The most obvious was the point that the Amazons were pacifists. Based, I guess, on Hippolyta wish to not to train Diana as a warrior. She hinted at several times that the reason was because she was afraid that as Diana grew stronger she’d alert Ares to her location and bring a fight that could kill Diana.

    Which is exactly what happened. Steve’s plane went through the barrier that kept Themyscira hidden within an hour after Diana unleased her power. The explosion of her bracelets was a signal Ares has been looking for.

    When Diana was helping Steve to escape she was confronted by Hippolyta. The queen was sad and disappointed in Diana, not because of some non-violence philosophy but because Diana was going to have her naiveté ripped from her.

    Which is what the rest of the movie did in a really great way. Diana confronted the worst of humanity, sexism, racism and the genocide. The movie highlighted each head on without being overtly preachy. The movie stripped Diana’s simplistic views of the world and replaced it with a move complex and deeper understanding of humans. She came out stronger, more realistic and one of the best heros because of it.

    Much more then anyone else in the DC Muderverse and many of the Marvel’s characters too.

    • I wanted to give myself a day or so before responding to your thoughts. I’m still evolving my feelings about the movie.

      I can promise it isn’t out of a need to be contrarian. Like I’ve said on the episode, I liked Wonder Woman, but I didn’t love it.

      I liked seeing a superhero motivated by altruism and compassion, but the longer I’ve had to digest it, the less impressive it becomes to me.

      There is a lot to like in the movie, but I don’t think it quite lives up to the intense reactions people are having to it.

      I like the World War I setting and I like what it’s trying to do with the reveal of Ares and Diana losing her naivete, but I don’t think it’s as smart or deep or profound as it wishes it was, and I feel like the climax is a bit of a mess.

      Weirdly, it reminds a bit of Star Trek Beyond, where it’s a conflict between someone from an enlightened culture who is having a crisis of faith, and a relic of an older more violent time who thinks that humans are nasty brutes.

      Now, the enlightened hero wins and learns something, but it’s tailor-made for a solution where the hero doesn’t just blow up the villain to save the day, but proves them wrong philosophically.

      I wanted both Captain Kirk and Wonder Woman to find a solution that was cleverer, more enlightened and didn’t just kill the baddie, but proved their respective cultures right.

      I wanted more of a Doctor Who-style solution. I wanted Diana’s principles to win. I wanted an old school Kirk speech to give the villain pause, if not change their mind.

      This isn’t to say that I dislike this movie, I really don’t. I quite liked it. But under reflection, it falls more into the middle of the Marvel pile qualitywise, minus a few great moments. Though it does have a lot to remind one of the first Captain America movie, I don’t think it’s quite as good. But it’s a deal better than the other Marvel film it reminds me of: the original Thor.

      That isn’t to say that I necessarily agree with Kit or Casey on every point they made. I’m probably more positive about it than either of them, but there is a lot of truth in their assessment, too.

      But I knew that Kit had a dissenting view on the movie, and I wanted to give her thoughts a hearing. She’s smart, funny and I think her opinions are worth hearing. Especially since so many people in the nerdy podcasting world seem to be giving this movie a very similar response.

      I’m still digesting my thoughts on this movie, but I think my opinion is likely to settle somewhere around, “a pretty good movie.”

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