Aquaman or Aqua-meh: Super Hero Fatigue Has Docked

I saw Aquaman last night. It wasn’t terrible. If you remember one of my last movie posts (here’s the link to it in case you don’t), I can get pretty miffed if a movie sucks eggs. I walk out of theaters after the movie is over actually angry. However, I didn’t walk out of Aquaman angry. I walked out of it indifferent.

Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

So for those of you who are just wondering if Aquaman is worth the price of admission, let me tell you right off the bat that it is exactly worth a nine dollar movie ticket. Go ahead and see it if that is the price of your local movie tickets.

The movie is meant to take place after Justice League, or at least I think it’s supposed to. Arthur Curry is still doing his surfer-bro super hero stuff. His plans are interrupted when Princess Mera of Atlantis comes to him for aid. Arthur’s half-brother, Prince Orm, wants to attack the surface world. In order to stop this, Arthur has to reclaim his heritage and take the throne of Atlantis.

And that’s exactly what he does.

The predictable plot points are part of what brings down Aquaman’s story. For example, Arthur’s mom, the Queen of Atlantis, is pronounced dead after she was “sacrificed” to the Trench People, but since we didn’t see it happen, everyone could kinda guess that she actually survived and was living in exile. The whole story has that kind of I-could-see-that-coming vibe.

There is also a lack of character development. That’s one of my absolute favorite thing in movies, when a character starts out the story one way, but then turns out another by the end. Arthur doesn’t really feel like he progresses (or regresses) in any way. Jason Momoa is cool and all. He looks good shirtless. But the character itself doesn’t seem to have an internal struggle. A smarter film-person than me would know if that’s the actor’s fault or the writer’s fault. I honestly can’t tell.

Oh, and Black Manta comes out and just…does super-villainy stuff. He looks neat. But…you kind of get the feeling he wasn’t integral to the story. I mean, Ocean Master was clearly the main big bad.

The movie is at its best when it showcases the alien nature of Atlantean life. Some people might laugh at the notion of warriors riding into battle on sharks, leviathans, and mega-seahorses, but that was my favorite thing about the movie. I have a soft spot in my heart for ridiculously outlandish battle customs in fiction.

But even when I was enjoying Aquaman, it was a mild enjoyment. And I don’t think it was entirely the movie’s fault.

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m suffering from Super Hero Fatigue.

I love super heroes, perhaps even more than the average person. I have a healthy collection of comic books. I’ve dressed up as a super hero more than once for Halloween. Nearly all the posters I have had up in my bedroom are of super heroes. I could spend hours talking about super heroes.

But I also like variety.

There is no longer a drought of comic book movies. There’s a deluge.

Not a year goes by that we don’t have a super hero movie. So in order to grab my attention, a super hero movie has to be pretty special or unique. And Aquaman was just…meh.

See? I couldn’t even be bothered to come up with an actual word to describe it.

It is neither above average or below average.

It’s just…average.

I rate Aquaman a this-is-seriously-just-an-average-super-hero-ish-movie-where-the-most-special-thing-about-it-is-that-it-has-sharks-and-underwater-stuff.

A Hero for Hers: The Wonder Woman Moment

I didn’t walk into the theater to see Wonder Woman excited because she was the first female super hero to get her own big movie.

I walked into that theater excited because it was a super hero movie.

Let me back up a bit.

I’m a woman, but being a woman isn’t the sole thing that defines me. I’m more than my sex, so much more. I’m a coffee lover, avid reader, movie watcher, video game player, struggling writer, and pet bird owner. Those are some of the main things that make me who I am, and I would rather people know me and see me for those things rather than for just having some internal organs that make me a female.

I’m a comic book nerd too, and it was that part of me that fueled my excitement to see Wonder Woman.

Too often, the status of being female is seen as my defining characteristic. And while I’m happy to acknowledge the truth that, yes, I am a woman, I own a vagina, a uterus, and a pair of ovaries, I don’t want to be known for that. Am I making sense? Sometimes I feel that having my femaleness pointed out to me is just another form of sexism. (A low-key form of sexism. Oof, I hope I don’t enrage anyone with this post.)

For example, I love the idea of a female Doctor Who. About bloody time that show demonstrated the Doctor’s mutability in a way that’s different from just changing his age. But it sometimes irritates me that she’s known as the “Female Doctor.” The other Doctors weren’t labeled by the fact that they were men. Do you see what I’m driving at here?

So I walked into the theater to see Wonder Woman simply thrilled that one of the Big Three (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) was finally getting her own movie.

Imagine my surprise when the movie made me cry.

And no, I’m not talking about when Steve Trevor dies, even though that’s a sad moment.

The part I cried at wasn’t intended to be a tragic moment at all. It’s that moment when Diana steps out of the trench and onto No Man’s Land. The music swells gorgeously. Then, once past the trenches, Diana clears out the nearby town of German soldiers while her holy-awesome Hans Zimmer theme song pumps out. And that’s when I started sobbing.

It hit me like a lightning bolt, the realization that I had never had an experience like that before.

I had never had a super hero who was a woman like me have a totally bad-ass moment all to herself.

It never mattered to me before, but suddenly it just came home to me. I had never seen a woman fly up and hold a falling helicopter with one hand. I had never seen a woman drive the Batmobile over the rooftops of a corrupted city while escaping from a buttload of cops. I had never seen a woman use her webbing to swing between skyscrapers in a training montage.

And it suddenly occurred to me as I was watching Wonder Woman leap through buildings and bring her vambraces together to block bullets that I had been missing out.

When I was younger, every super hero movie that came out was centered around a guy. And even though that was the case, that wouldn’t stop me from pretending to be one of them on the playground. Kids I played with wouldn’t care, but it would majorly suck sometimes, because no boy wanted to pretend to be Lois Lane or Mary Jane Watson. So who was I supposed to rescue?

And the female “super” heroes I did have? God, they sucked eggs sometimes.

If they weren’t overly sexualized in a way that my knobby, non-curvy, ugly self could not mimic, then they were severely under-powered.

If you ask kids who they want to be from the Avengers, no one says Black Widow. Who wants to be Black Widow when you can be the Hulk or Iron Man?

Wonder Woman’s history is by no means a shining example for a female super hero. Her origin is wrapped up in bondage and female submission. And her TV show? I dare you to watch it and tell me how many times she gets chloroformed and knocked out. I dare you.

But in her first big movie, she shines. She’s just freaking awesome. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids (boys included) want to pretend to be her on the playground now.

I did not walk into that theater looking to feel proud about being a woman.

But I did walk out of the theater that way.


A Taste of Venom

Venom movie

I’m definitely a terrible reviewer of movies.

For one thing, I always post about them months after they come out. This is due to the fact that I schedule my posts weeks in advance. So while I may have seen the movie quite promptly, the post I write about it will be published way after the fact.

Also, I am a completely informal reviewer. I am so informal I should put “reviewer” in quotes to further demonstrate how inadequate I am.

I “review” movies.

There we go. That’s better.

I can’t help but be in a perpetual audience state of mind. I don’t have an innate grasp on filming techniques or schools of acting. I just watch the damn movie and then decide whether I like it or not.

But I think there’s something to be said for reading about a movie’s qualities from a total amateur.


In my humble opinion, it was a tad mediocre.

I went to see it with no bias. After Solo, I’ve learned never to judge a movie based on people’s preconceived notions of how it will be. So I went to see Venom with a completely open mind, and it failed to impress.

The movie is about this reporter named Eddie Brock.

Side note: Yes, I’ve read Venom comic books, including the ones where Venom was partnered with Flash Thompson.

Eddie is living the good life with a solid reporting gig and a loving fiancée. Unfortunately for him, he loses it all when he tries to find some dirt on this corporate tycoon. He gets fired in disgrace (because that’s how powerful this tycoon is), and his fiancée leaves him.

Side note: She didn’t leave Eddie because he got fired. She left him because HE got HER fired. She was the corporate tycoon’s lawyer or something like that, and Eddie snooped around on her computer in order to take the guy down. Her law firm put two and two together after Eddie tried to spill the beans about how messed up this tycoon is, and they let her go.

So Eddie loses everything.

Meanwhile, the corporate tycoon has been researching how to pair humans with alien symbiotes. (See? Another reason I’m a bad reviewer. I forget the names of the characters and then become too lazy to Google them.) The results of this research are gory and graphic, so I have no idea why corporate tycoon thinks this is a good business investment.

When Eddie attempts to infiltrate the corporate tycoon’s research facility, he ends up having a close encounter of the symbiotic kind, and that’s how he meets Venom.

Venom is the name of the symbiote that pairs with Eddie, and honestly, their interactions are the best parts of the movie.

Side note: Why do symbiotes have names of their own?

Eddie acts like a total freak when Venom is with him, but even when they do reach some sort of equilibrium in their partnership, it is hilarious. Seriously, if Venom had then become some weird kind of buddy-cop story, I would have been all for it. The absurdity of their interactions are the highlight of the movie. At one point, when they have to leave the top of a skyscraper, Venom offers to launch Eddie to the ground from a window. The scene then cuts to Eddie in a descending elevator, with Venom muttering, “Pussy,” in Eddie’s head.

Instead of the Venom/Eddie action-bromance we all wanted, Venom got mired in the corporate tycoon’s plot.

The corporate tycoon pairs with his own alien symbiote, and the grand finale of the movie is a fight between two CGI goo monsters.

So one of the biggest flaws of the movie is the villain. Corporate tycoon is just too corporate tycoon-y. He’s a caricature, a stereotype. A nonsensical stereotype at that. He witnessed some absolutely brutal failures of symbiote pairings, and he still thinks it’s a good idea to try it out. And then near the end, when he pairs with his own symbiote, he seems totally cool with the idea of that symbiote bringing down more of its kind to Earth and taking over the planet. How the hell is he okay with this?

The rules of alien symbiosis were also very shaky. It was fine at the beginning, when Eddie himself was trying to figure out what was going on, but by the end of the movie, I still had no idea how the symbiotes functioned. At one point, they say that symbiotes can only pair with specific people who suit them biologically. If you try and pair a symbiote with someone they don’t match, the results are gruesome. This leads you to believe that Venom pairing with Eddie was a rare occurrence. But later on, Venom pairs with Eddie’s ex in order to go meet up with him. Was she a match too? If not, why didn’t she explode into bloody little bits?

Eddie’s ex also presents a whole set of problems on her own. For someone who was rightfully angry at Eddie, she sure is ready to forgive him by the end of the movie. Plus, she’s not as scared of Venom as any sane person would be. She actually witnesses Venom tear the head off of someone’s body with his mouth, but she’s still okay with letting Venom get inside her later on.

If you’re a big comic book movie fan, go ahead and give Venom a watch. It’s not the worst a comic book movie could be. But it’s definitely not the best. I rate Venom an I-like-Venom-the-character-so-of-course-I’ll-watch-his-movie-once-but-then-I’ll-never-watch-it-again-unless-forced-to.


The Incredible Incredibles

Pixar movies have never let me down. There may be Marvel movie flops, DC movie flops, or Star Wars movie flops, but it is rare indeed (i.e. never) when Pixar gives me a movie I don’t enjoy.

A couple of days ago (or actually more by the time this post gets published), I went to go see Incredibles 2. In case you were doubting whether Pixar could keep up their winning streak, rest assured, this sequel to The Incredibles lives up to the first.


I’m not a movie critic, so don’t think of this as a well thought-out review. It’s more of an ode to how incredibly awesome Incredibles 2 was.

Basic plot is that some hero enthusiast who is super rich approaches Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone about helping a movement to make supers legal again. This dude wants to focus on Elastigirl as the head of their movement, their poster vigilante, since she has a better track record of not leaving total destruction in the wake of her path. Bothered by his dismissal but still willing to support his wife, Mr. Incredible stays at home to look after their three kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack.

It was uber cool to see Elastigirl hero-ing on her own. She gets a motorcycle that can split into two halves, the front and the back, and she goes on a high-speed chase on roads and over rooftops, and she uses her elasticity to Slinky her way over any and all obstacles. Remember when Elastigirl sneaked into Syndrome’s complex in the first movie? Yeah, this bike chase was a more action-packed equivalent of that.

I just wish more of this kind of exposure could have happened with her daughter, Violet. I’ve always thought that Violet’s powers are some of the most powerful (aside from the smorgasbord of  powers that is Jack-Jack). Think of all you can do with force fields and invisibility combined. It would have been neat to see her use them to their fullest strength.

But don’t be alarmed. This sequel is brimming with action, with every one of our favorite heroes getting a chance to show off what they can do. Plus, new heroes arrive on the scene and demonstrate how expertly Pixar can make an awesome superhero movie. Of the new heroes, I thought Void was really cool. Her power was to make portals appear wherever she wanted them to, just like in the video game, Portal. 

And Jack-Jack! He was a riot! Even though he’s a baby, he gave us one of the best action sequences in the entire movie when he got into an epic scrap with a raccoon. If you haven’t seen the movie, you might think I’m joking about that being the most epic fight. But seriously, Jack-Jack brought down the hammer on that unlucky raccoon.

The big villain ends up being the sister of the rich dude who is trying to get heroes legal again. Her big end goal is to discredit supers in the eyes of the average citizens. She wants to accomplish this by hypnotizing the soon-to-be legalized heroes and then having them commit horrendous atrocities on television.

She comes scary close to accomplishing her goal. But thanks to the Incredible super kids, the day is saved.

Did I forget to mention that Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack have to take on all these adult super heroes, including their parents? Yeah, awesome right?

Not only is Incredibles 2 a great kids movie, it’s a great super hero movie. In fact, there are several DC and Marvel movies that it beats by a long shot.

If you haven’t seen it, you definitely have a treat in store for you when you do.

Avengers: Infinity War (aka Why My Heart Hurts So Much)

I had no idea what to expect when the theater lights dimmed and the large crowd of people (Marvel fans, no doubt) who had hustled into the first showing of Avengers: Infinity War that was available in my small town shushed each other. I had avoided spoilers like the plague. Aside from what was in the first couple of trailers, not a hint of what would happen had entered my brain.

I went into this thing pure.

I came out in a total state of shock.

I’m publishing this post way after Infinity War was released. Nevertheless, here is the obligatory SPOILER WARNING. (There you go, Danny. All caps. Now, when you’re lightly skimming over what I’m writing, you can actually figure out that I’m about to spoil a movie.)

Avengers: Infinity War picks up right after Thor: Ragnarok. Thor, Loki, and the rest of the refugees from Asgard are on a spaceship set for Earth, where they can hopefully build a new life for themselves.

Not gonna happen. As the end credits to Ragnarok showed us, a larger ship than theirs pops up right in front of them, and it turns out that it is Thanos’ ship.

Wonder of wonders.

It’s all downhill from there.

Thanos starts kicking ass and taking names, starting with Loki and Heimdall. Thor has to watch as both a friend and a brother are brutally murdered in front of him. Thanos takes the Space Stone from Loki (who had snuck it out of Asgard) and so his quest begins.

The heroes from Earth (plus the Guardians of the Galaxy) have to contend with this pink-faced monster man and his underlings for the rest of the movie. Infinity War is practically nothing but battles. I’m not complaining. The movie is a culmination of everything that has come before it in the MCU. It’s the ultimate pay-off. As such, the tension almost never lets up.

Thanks to the wonderful senses of humor that some of our heroes sport, we’re able to get a few laughs in what would otherwise be a harrowing and stressful experience. But the ending still wrecks me.

I already issued a spoiler warning, right?

Everyone dies.


Half of everyone dies.

Not kidding.

Thanos’ grand plan is to bring balance to a universe that is beset with the problem of overpopulation. His own planet of Titan was brought to ruin because there were just too many beings on it. Now, it’s a dusty wasteland. Since Thanos is trying to save the universe by killing off half of its inhabitants, he comes across like he’s a burdened hero, a reluctant savior. That coupled with the fact that he’s so powerful makes him one of the best villains Marvel has come up with.

(Not that that’s saying much. I mean, Loki’s their only really good villain. And they killed him off in Infinity War. Yowch.)

In the end, Thanos succeeds. Despite three separate plans to stop him from the three sets of heroes we see grouped together in various locations, Thanos manages to get all of the Infinity Stones and snap his fingers. With that single snap, half of the people in the universe crumble away into nothingness, including a lot of our heroes.

As it currently stands, here’s every hero who is dead:

  • Black Panther
  • Falcon
  • Groot
  • Winter Soldier
  • Vision
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Star-Lord
  • Drax
  • Mantis
  • Doctor Strange
  • Spider-Man

(Loki and Gamora died before the snap, but yeah, they’re dead too.)

When the movie ended, everyone was horrified and thrilled at the same time. It was the weirdest sense of contradiction I’ve ever felt battling inside of me.

There were a few things in the movie I took issue with. And by took issue with, I don’t in any way mean that they ruined the movie for me. Fuck that. I loved the movie.

  1. The sense of unreality: With a lot of our heroes dying, it didn’t feel like their deaths would last. I mean, no way is Black Panther just gone. No way is Star-Lord gone. The deaths were kind of cheapened in that regard. It’s no longer a discussion of “I can’t believe they died.” My friends and I are all saying, “Okay, how is Marvel going to bring them back?”
  2. Thanos’ love for Gamora: In order to acquire the Soul Stone, a sacrifice is required. Whoever is seeking it must sacrifice something they love more than life. Gamora, who had led Thanos to the Stone under duress, begins to laugh because she thinks that there is nothing that Thanos loves. When Thanos turns to look at her with a tear in his eye, we’re supposed to believe that he truly loves her as a daughter. Ugh. No way can the sick bastard who murdered Gamora’s family claim that he loves her.
  3. Star-Lord ruins his own plan: Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange end up on Titan together, and Star-Lord comes up with a plan to remove the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’ hand. It almost works, but right when Peter Quill (Star-Lord) is about to help remove the Gauntlet as the other heroes hold Thanos down, he finds out that Thanos killed Gamora. Peter gets angry enough that he lets his emotions get the better of him and he accidentally gives Thanos enough time to shrug everyone off of him. For some reason, this moment didn’t fly with me. I understand his emotions. But his outburst felt like a convenient reason for Thanos to get himself free.
  4. Peter Parker’s slow death: Of all the deaths in the movie, Peter Parker’s death hurt me the worst. His death also lasted the longest. Everyone else crumbled to dust suddenly, you couldn’t feel grief in time, just jaw-dropping shock. Yet Peter Parker, had time to mutter that he doesn’t feel good, stumble over to Iron Man, fall in his arms while whimpering that he doesn’t want to go, and then give one last, frightened look into Tony Stark’s eyes. Damn you, Marvel, for making me feel things.

I have to see this movie again. I need to see this movie again. I need to review every plot point, re-hear every quip, and rethink my chances of surviving until the next movie comes out.

Black Panther: “Wakanda Forever” For Real

I recently saw Black Panther in theaters, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not make a blog-post-thing about it, Amanda?’ There’s no reason for me not to, right? (Right?)

I saw the movie waaaaaay later than I normally would. When a super hero movie comes out, I usually try to see the premiere. A premiere in my small town is basically just a seven o’clock showing in the evening with a longer line. However, when Black Panther came out, I was pet-sitting for my sister, so I could not abandon her gorgeous menagerie to see the first showing. And then further postponements occurred, and I saw it about two weeks after it originally came out.

Oh, well.

Anyways, I’m a huge comic book fan. I loved comic books before the movies made them successful. Even so, I have to admit that I’m suffering from slight Superhero Fatigue. There is no shortage of superhero content to dunk yourself into; a year can’t go by without a superhero getting their own movie. I love superheroes more than the average person, but there’s no denying that our summer movie selection is being dominated by them.

All I’m saying is that if you’re going to give me two superhero films a year, you should at least make them stand out from each other. I mean, Doctor Strange was basically Iron Man with magic. Come on, movie dudes. You’re not even trying.

Black Panther has answered my prayers. It was good. I’m officially jumping on the band wagon.

It felt so different from other Marvel superhero movies. Instead of watching a hapless man-child stumble his way to hero-dom by haltingly learning to use his powers for good, we got to see a man (a man man) settle the mantle of responsibility onto his shoulders in an ethical and reasonable manner. (Shout-out to all Halo fans who may be reading this.)

Prince T’Challa may have been following the same story path as Thor did in Thor, but T’Challa handled his rise to power with much more aplomb and grace than Thor. (For one thing, he wasn’t a whiny Norse god with an inflated ego.)

Every actor in that movie played their roles to perfection. My favorite characters were Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, and Erik Killmonger, the villain of the story. Shuri was a delight every time she was on the screen. I nearly split the seams of my stomach trying to hold in my laughter when she called Black Panther’s shoes his “sneakers.” (I have an obnoxiously loud laugh; I wanted to be kind to other moviegoers.)

And Killmonger was great! For having not that much screen time, he made his presence felt for even the shortest of moments. Michael B. Jordan played the abandoned prodigal son so well, I felt like I’d received a kick to my emotional lady balls. Hit me right in the feels, I’m telling you.

Let’s not forget the music! It’s been far too long since a movie’s soundtrack has caught my ear and it wasn’t made by John Williams, Hans Zimmer, or Michael Giacchino. Killmonger’s theme was really identifiable, but in my opinion, the best piece comes out during T’Challa’s visit to the ancestral plane, when he sees his father again. Whatever that track is called (I actually think it might be called “Ancestral Plane”), it’s a superb bit of music. Strings play a melody that is fit for the king T’Challa is.


The movie ends happily, with T’Challa deciding to reverse Wakanda’s foriegn policy decisions of the past. Instead of remaining isolated in all of their glorious self-suffiiciency, Wakanda will now walk the path of gracious aid and attempt to help those who cannot help themselves.

It’s an extremely positive message of hope to the world. I left the theater felling buoyant as hell. A friend of mine was quick to point out, however, that if you really think about it, the ending to the movie is incredibly tragic.

“Why? I just saw an incredibly happy ending.”

“But it’s not real,” he told me. “There is no hidden technologically-advanced country in Africa that will rise up and help people.”

And he’s right. There is no Wakanda that is going to assist the beleaguered, downtrodden, and mistreated African-Americans of this, or any other, nation to rise above whatever horrible situations they find themselves in. Black Panther paints a beautiful picture of a hopeful future, but it’s based on the past creation of an imaginary place.

I think it’s important to remember that effort needs to go into making that future a reality. We shouldn’t just congratulate ourselves that a movie like this got made; we should focus on actually following the Golden Rule of treating other people how we would like to be treated ourselves, not just in words, but in thoughts and actions as well.

If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, I highly recommend it.