It’s official. It took the third movie for me to finally admit it, but Wonder Woman is single-handedly saving the DCU from its moody, emo self.
She’d already made the last third of BvS watchable, even if the rest of the movie was complete shit, similar Martha’s and all. The standalone Wonder Woman movie shone, if only because next to all those duds it was nice to see a DCU movie done right for once… done right, except for the fight scenes, which I wasn’t quite satisfied by, but it’s a minor complaint in a movie that was okay.
Full disclosure: I was fully prepared to dislike Justice League. I had seen Suicide Squad, and that ensemble movie was a complete dumpster fire. The aesthetic of the DCU has never charmed me, and I don’t think it’s meant to be charming at all. Not that every superhero world has to be charming, but if you’ve sat through Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, you’re going to come out of the theatre wondering if they hate their viewers. The world is too grim, its colour palette too dark, its heroes too tortured and there seems to be absolutely no hope of redemption from the cartoon characters who play their villains.
It doesn’t help that DC’s villains have been played in various reiterations by actors capable of truly mining the depths of their character – Heath Ledger’s Joker and Kevin Spacey’s Luthor come to mind. (I realize this is a bad time to celebrate Kevin Spacey, but the man can act. Let’s give him that.) After bravura performances like that, what are their successors supposed to do to avoid being carbon copies? We get Jared Leto as the Joker by way of Hot Topic. We get a motor-mouthed Jesse Eisenberg as a wholly irritating Lex Luthor. They even gave up on having an actual actor and handed us Steppenwolf (still can’t get over that name, my mind goes to Scandinavian metal bands whenever it’s mentioned.) Steppenwolf, for all the vocal stylings of Ciaran Hinds, is the crappiest CGI rendered character sinceRead More »
There are directors with a signature so unique, there is no mistaking their work for anyone else’s. Martin Scorsese and gravitas. Steven Spielberg and childlike wonder. Christopher Nolan and mindtrips, Wes Anderson and whimsy. Quentin Tarantino and dialogue, Tim Burton and oddities, Joss Whedon and wit… Taika Waititi and sheer unbridled irreverence?
It’s official. Taika Waititi takes nothing seriously, not even Asgard. And it works.
Awesome things come out of New Zealand. Milk. Corned beef. The haka. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Lorde’s debut album. And as if NZ wasn’t already blessed enough, it also has Taika Waititi, of What We Do in the Shadows, the insane romp of a vampire movie about fanged roommates just trying to get along in the age of the internet.
I’ve slowly been building up to Thor: Ragnarok by getting familiar with its director’s body of work. So far I’ve seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Happy Birthday, Ricky Baker!) and What We Do in the Shadows. Both have deceptively simple premises, relatively low budgets and the wickedest sense of humour. If Taika Waititi has brought even half of his sense of the ridiculous to Thor Ragnarok, then I have high hopes for that movie, because I have decided that What We Do in the Shadows is now officially one of my favourite films.
Sharing space with someone else comes with a lot of baggage – it doesn’t just get more complicated the more people share the same home, it gets multiplied tenfold by the kind of people they are. And if you’re a vampire, who lives with other vampires, each of whom inhabits a particular Dracula stereotype… well. That’s what What We Do in the Shadows is all about.
I enjoyed this more than Wilderpeople because Waititi doesn’t just direct. He plays a major role as Viago, a prissy vampire fussbudget who wants his flatmates to lay down newspapers and towels if they’re going to eat someone on his nice clean couch.
Undone dishes. Orgies. Virgins. Sunlight. Partying with ghouls and witches. Google. Skype. Werewolves, not Swearwolves. Vampire bat fights. Victims. Blood. A group of perennial man-children running around Wellington just trying to live their best lives. It’s all very matter-of-fact from beginning to end, and the sheer normalcy in the face of so much absurdity is what makes this movie imminently watchable.
I’ve seen what Waititi can do on a limited budget and an unlimited imagination. I wonder what he’ll do on a Marvel budget, and if he’ll make another cameo, the way he did as a particularly strange priest in Wilderpeople. I hope he does. And I hope it’ll be a hoot.
Perhaps the MCU, having read my mind, decided to up the ante on its latest phase (what are we in now? Three?) and introduce interesting second leads to keep ladies like me – who can only go full nerd for so long without getting exhausted – invested. I know I’m watching Ragnarok for Cate Blanchett. And now I know who I’m watching Black Panther for.
I’m living a fantasy where Michonne breaks up with Rick, cuts off her dreads and moves to Wakanda to engage in some badassery with a staff. The Panther and his problems can take a back seat, because girl can fight. I have faith in you, Michonne! Don’t let us down in February!
Our small band of heroes trudges through the snow-capped mountains beyond the wall. The Brotherhood Without Banners is represented, as is Winterfell and the Wildlings. Even the South has a delegate, in the form of Gendry. There isn’t a person of colour in sight, and yet, diversity!
Talk turns to how anyone could keep warm this far north, and Tormund Giantsbane extols the virtues of exercise: walking, fighting, or screwing your brains out.
“There are no women around,” says Gendry.
“Then we have make do with what we’ve got,” replies the wildling with a leer. Good old Tormund. Always up for anything.
Do you speed through the opening credits of Game of Thrones? With that swelling orchestral score and educational bird’s eye view, I almost always linger. The places featured in the opening are almost always a sign of where the action is going to be. Eastwatch shows up for the first time, so you know something’s going down out on the East Coast tonight.
Still stewing over Olenna Tyrell’s big reveal, the Kingslayer is busily, if not grumpily, getting down to the business of paying off Lannister debts with Highgarden gold. Wanting more than a saddlebag of gold coins (“it’s not a castle”), Ser Bronn makes a play for the home of the now extinct Tyrells, but is rebuffed with a terse “we’re at war.” They never let Ser Bronn rest. Will Ser Bronn ever get any rest?