Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sonic The Hedgehog Redesigned Trailer

This is weird. It's an unprecedented oddity that a company previewed a product, everyone hated what they saw, and not only did the company decide to redo the thing that everybody hates, but they pushed back the release date to make it more fair for the artists involved and as the final kicker, it actually looks like an improvement over the original product.

Has that happened before? It's sort of been a thing with video games, but that's after a product has already released and they patch it for people who have bought it. But this is a movie! It's at most a solid 2 hours of images on a screen that nobody's actually seen yet.

Let's be honest, usually the internet adding input to any creative endeavor is a recipe for disaster. Remember Boaty McBoatface? Remember that 4chan exists? So, to put it lightly, I'm flabbergasted.

I mean, hell. He looks like Sonic now. Like, actually Sonic. They got the guy who made the best Sonic cartoon ever made to do it.

I didn't see that coming. Especially after Monster Sonic. Can we talk about Monster Sonic for a minute?

As you're all doubtless aware of, I have to watch bad movies. There's something insidious in my brain that makes me do it. I was fucking on board to watch this blue abomination traipse across the screen while sounding like Rutabaga Rabitowitz. Hell, I turned up to watch Sherlock Gnomes on opening day, this would be nothing.

So now I'm a bit torn. Actors have said there weren't any reshoots involved, meaning the only thing that has changed is the design of Sonic himself. All the writing, all the voice acting and human actors are remaining the same. So really, my opinion shouldn't change that much from the initial trailer. I'm not expecting Spider-Verse over here. They altered the feel of the trailer somewhat from the first draft, and I'm not completely on board. Gangster's Paradise was an unexpected choice, to say the least, but it was distinct. This time they used Blitzkrieg Bop. The most overused track in existence. Oh wait! They added more high-hat at the end and slapped in some video game noises! Totally different now.

Let's be honest with ourselves. Any Sonic fan that still exists is used to a lot of shit. Name a Sonic game (apart from Mania) that's overall actually good in the last ten years. Okay, nix Generations as well. There ain't much there. So if the movie's pretty bad (which I am still expecting) then it's pretty par for the course for Sonic. I expect to enjoy Jim Carrey as I always do, but like, the rest of it doesn't seem like it's gonna have a high grade of quality here. It looks like a movie from the 90's, like Masters of the Universe. The old trope where a popular character's movie has them leave their own world and enter THE REAL WOOOORLD. It's been played out over a decade ago, but then again everything good about Sonic was left in that era. Regardless of how it turns out, I'm still going to see it because it releases on Valentine's Day and I need something to distract me from the monstrous gaping void of loneliness that threatens to engulf my very essence.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Books From The Bin: Trilby

There's a popular trend nowadays at certain businesses and libraries to have on their premises a book exchange box. There are varying names for this sort of thing, but it boils down to somewhere you can leave old books and anyone who's interested can pick them up. There happens to be some at my local library and my former place of work, so I looked through them pretty often. Usually they end up filled with romance, mystery, or military books, but once in a while I would find something interesting. Typically I'd go for something sci-fi or horror, but sometimes I would just find a book with a detail that piqued my interest. Something like this:

Books From The Bin: Trilby

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Pizza Hut's Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza

I furtively dialed a number with shaky hands. Glancing from side to side, making sure nobody was watching, I resolutely hit the call button.

"Thank you for calling Pizza Hut, how can I help you?" said the disembodied voice. An unwilling accomplice to my heinous premeditation.

"Hi, could I order the, uh, the Cheezit pizza"

"You want the Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza?" they asked, blasé in the face of the uncanny.

"Yes, yes goddamn it."

Taken aback by my curtness, they began the next statement with an extra gentle tenor.

"Would you like that with pepperoni?"

I sighed, and a single tear ran down my cheek.

"Just fuck me up."

What is rock bottom? Is it a place? A feeling? Can it be a food?

Is it this food?

Is this food?

After a certain point in life, you assume you know how the world functions. Most of things you deal with day-to-day make sense. But then you start working a night shift and the most deranged minds on the planet gain employment at a pizza company R&D department. Day is night, dinner is breakfast, and everything you came to trust comes crashing down beneath you. As hard as I try, I cannot wrap my head around how this was meant to be a pizza. They couldn't even be bothered to use the one culinary term that gives one carte blanche to do as they wish, "deconstructed."

This idea, and I'm ashamed to admit it, wasn't doomed from the start. Burger King has had, on a few occasions, the illustrious Mac n' Cheetos, another snack melded with comfort food into a brobdingnagian chimera. But it worked. It was essentially just deep friend mac & cheese, a state fair staple, but breaded with Cheeto dust. I've always scrambled to get it before it discontinued again, but little did I know it seeded a virulent idea in some disturbed individual.

There's one thing, and one thing only, I am willing to give Pizza Hut credit for.

It sure looks like a Cheez-it.

When one cooks, it's important to have varying tastes and textures put together that mesh well with one another. You have the crust on a cheesecake, pasta in soups. What you do not do, is take a cheese-flavored cracker, turn it into a crust, and fill it with substandard pizza cheese. But unfortunately for all of us, that is what transpired.

In the interest of pure inquiry, I first took a bite without availing myself of the proffered marinara. I soon saw my mistake. For one instant there's the alluring taste of a beloved Cheez-it, but then it's gone, like a kiss on the wind.

Then there's nothing. It's an undifferentiated mass of grease and something I could, only after rigorous investigation and soul searching, describe as cheese. They could have put anything in there! The supposed lifesaver of this dish is the marinara, a condiment I am quickly associating with culinary failure. With merely a dip, you transform the bland tasteless chunk into a chunk that tastes like marinara. That's it.

The astonishing thing is, if you let it sit for a few hours, intentionally neglect what was once a hot meal prepared for your enjoyment, it almost, not quite, but almost, resembles its namesake. It comes so close to having a crunch. It comes so close to really existing as food.

Why did things have to turn out like this? Just because something seems like a good idea to the guys in marketing doesn't mean you have to put it in production and actually sell it to innocent people. We have to learn from this, as a society. There must be a better way!

There you go I did it.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The End of the MCU As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

As the prophesy foretold, yet another iteration of Spider-Man looks like it's going down the drain. As Deadline reported and not a single person is unaware of now, the deal between Sony and Disney to share the film rights to Spider-Man has ended. In broad strokes, this means no more Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which, more than anything else, I think is pretty funny.

In an uncharacteristic move, I never ended up publishing reviews of Spider-Man: Homecoming or Far From Home. By the time I collected my thoughts on Homecoming, it was a little too late for anyone to care, and Far From Home had the whole "ENDGAME SPOILERS OH NO" problem. So for the sake of context, here are my thoughts on those two films as a whole.

They were okay films, certainly nothing outrageously wrong from a filmmaking standpoint. Like a lot of Marvel movies, they were fine. Nothing fancy in the mechanics, like camera work or style; if you've seen a Marvel movie you know what I mean. But as Spider-Man movies, they were not good. Spider-Man as a character lost much of what he had in the comics and other adaptations. He was like a sidekick, more or less, trying to impress Iron Dad in Homecoming, and taking orders from Fury to become Iron Boy in Far From Home. Everything that made Spider-Man special and important to me didn't survive the transition. These films felt more like Iron Man 4 and 5 than a reboot of Spider-Man. Where was his independent nature, his man-against-the-world struggle? Where was the working class perspective on this superhero nonsense? All gone. He was provided everything he needed by a rich man, even after said patron died. They even went so far as to homage the first Iron Man in Far From Home, as if to say, "Don't worry everyone, we have a new Iron Man." Spider-Man is not Iron Man. Not even close. I'm honestly surprised that distinction needed to be made more than once, like everyone didn't figure out it was a bad idea after Slott's Parker Industries comic run.

That's not even mentioning the supporting cast, which I found either annoying or superfluous. Each one is named after a legacy character, like Ned Leeds or Flash Thompson, but bears a shallow and mismatched resemblance to their namesake. Flash is a mathlete instead of a football player, but he hates Peter Parker and loves Spider-Man anyway. MJ is a counterculture misanthrope with one tone of voice, but her and Peter fall in love anyway. Ned is just Ganke Lee from Ultimate Spider-Man. As I've detailed before they all seemed scattered, unable to be the characters we know, but not allowed to be different ones either. It was frustrating in a way only someone who obsesses about Spider-Man can understand.

Hopefully that provides some context for when I say: I'm glad this Disney/Sony divorce is happening. My article railing against it in the first place was astonishingly accurate. I just didn't call that Spider-Man would replace Iron Man. He did just sort of appear with little explanation, and they had to change that iteration so much he was barely recognizable. Suffice it to say I disliked the direction they were going with him. The Sony-only venture Into the Spider-Verse was such a massive triumph that it almost washes away Amazing Spider-Man 2. Even the first Amazing Spider-Man was a good movie, and I will die on that hill. Everyone seems adamant to point out that Sony has a terrible track-record with the character, but I like all of those films more than the Marvel ones. Did we all forget Raimi's Spider-Man 2? Spider-Verse proves that Sony can go weird with it, which as far as I'm concerned is worth way more than another boilerplate Marvel film. Maybe someone could actually take some risks again, instead of dipping their toes in the water but ultimately playing it safe. Either give me Flash Thompson, or don't, none of this halfway business.

Not to mention Disney losing a property should be seen as a win by the great mass of moviegoers. Is anyone else terrified by the complete hegemony Disney has over the entertainment landscape? Marvel, Star Wars, classic Disney canon, and they just keep getting more, what with the Fox buyout that occurred recently. They recently released the lineup for Disney+, one of the many many streaming services about to release, meant to desperately claw for a piece of that Netflix cash. It's almost as bad as the Phase III plan they announced back in 2015. But the twist is, that's just one of the franchises they own! There's a separate one for Star Wars, for classic Disney properties, the Simpsons, they even got the goddamn Muppets. Nothing else illustrates in such stark detail the stranglehold Disney has over a wide swath of once-independent properties.

I have very little faith that Deadpool (a film nearly universally beloved) could've been made if Disney owned the character from the beginning. How about Logan? A sequel to a family-friendly franchise, instead rated R and living up to every inch of that rating. Could we ever get an R-rated Avengers film? This isn't how Disney works. Kid-friendly to a fault, and despite making billions of dollars they play it safe time and time again. I'm glad at least something I enjoy isn't eaten up by the conglomerate that thought The Last Jedi was a good idea.

Is Sony going to continue casting Tom Holland? Will they just reboot the whole thing again? Who knows! The only one here we can really pity is Tom Holland in the event he's recast, but then again, nobody really shed a tear when Andrew Garfield got fired. Somewhat troubling is the notion that this might foretell a film version of One More Day, where Mephisto shows up to undo Spider-Man's identity issues, and maybe make everyone forget he exists entirely. At least this time the retcon would work for me. I'm glad I have no idea what's going to happen! I'm sick of superhero movies being the equivalent of the constant tiresome crossover events in comics!

Then again, this may all be a moot point. There's always the possibility of new negotiations, nothing's set in stone. Obviously at this point you know I'd be disappointed if this was reversed. We'll just have to wait and see what the full implications are to this, but I'm a Spider-Man fan, this ain't my first reboot, and it won't be the last.