Yesterday in Geek-dom: The Defenders

Daredevil Season 1 was a little better than Jessica Jones, which was better than Luke Cage, which was better than the mess that was Daredevil Season 2, which was still a little bit better than Iron Fist. In other words, Marvel/Netflix’s shows have been going downhill. So how did the culmination of it all turn out?

Short answer: it was good. It didn’t have the mercurial characters of Iron Fist or the in-your-face black stereotypes of Luke Cage or the overwhelming mix of plotlines from Daredevil Season 2. And Jessica Jones was in it. Jessica Jones makes everything better.
When the evil organization known as the Hand puts all of New York in danger, almost everyone from the four previous shows crosses paths. The heroes find themselves fighting the same war so they (somewhat begrudgingly) team up.
Unlike the Avengers, no one recruits the Defenders. Matt’s old mentor, Stick, shows up for exposition and stuff, but even he points out that the four heroes coming together wasn’t chance. Danny Rand probably thinks it’s his spirit-dragons. For Matt, it’s God. It’s only mentioned once, but I liked it.
There are other differences between the Defenders and the Avengers. If Tony Stark and his government-sanctioned superheroes were called in for this crisis, they would have caused an awful lot of collateral damage. Plus, they most likely would have gotten there too late. That’s why they’re called the Avengers. The Defenders live at ground level with the mere mortals (even boy-billionaire Danny Rand), so they can see the dangers coming and deal with them.
Also: this show addressed the “about racism” thing that Luke Cage danced around. Luke put it pretty straight: Danny is a rich white dude who could do so much good for the world without using his glowing fist. Brief but effective.
This show does diversity pretty well without shoving it in our faces. Various ethnicities, check. Woman getting over depression-like symptoms and abuse, check. Disabled person (officially anyway), check. Then there’s also a rich white hero and a rich white villain, so it’s not just a bunch of diversity for the sake of diversity.
One Issue: I see no chemistry between Daredevil and Elektra. Charlie Cox is great; Elektra is a good character. They just don’t fit together well on this show.
Final Verdict: Third Best Marvel/Netflix show. Definitely worth watching.

Isaac Reviews Rick & Morty Season 3, Episodes 3 and 4

Just continuing the series. You know how it is. Spoiler Warning is still in effect.

 

Episode 3: “Pickle Rick”

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if shows like Rick & Morty are written with the philosophy of, “Hey, what’s the context for [insert something really random].” Then again, when I assume the writers have this philosophy in mind, the show ends up being it’s own breed of stupid.

Not gonna lie, I almost thought this about this episode. The premise is that Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of attending family therapy. This leads to a surprising amount of violence, rat-punching, and…government infiltration.

Wait, hold on. Rick, as a pickle, is excessively violent and ruthless. This would shed a bad light on all other sentient pickles. Which is why Larry the Cucumber is so insistent on being called a cucumber, not a pickle! Oh my gosh! Could this mean that Veggietales and Rick & Morty are in the same universe!?

I need to get outside more often.

 

Episode 4: “The Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

Anyone who’s watched enough Rick & Morty knows that they are not beyond a little parody. This episode is no exception, as it looks at the superhero genre from a Rick & Morty angle.

I’ll give it this. This episode does a good job with the parody and the meta humor. And it takes a few jabs at the superhero genre—showing that the eponymous Vindicators are interchangeable and shallow, much like other hero teams.

Though, nevertheless, the episode centers around Rick getting black-out-drunk, and is basically twenty-ish minutes of Rick showing off. The deaths are violent, the language is prevalent, and some of the jokes are a bit dark.

I can’t help but think, “What else is new?…you know, besides Noob-Noob.”

 

I’ll have something else next week. I’m planning on continuing this series, but we’ll see how the next two episodes are.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

This Fall in Geek-dom: Teen Wolf

Because I’m a writer at heart, I can’t help but notice trends and similarities in TV shows. You remember how the third season of iZombie was about regular people learning zombies exist? It seems something similar is happening this season on Teen Wolf. Not the Michael J. Fox movie. I’m talking about the MTV series that’s currently on its last ten episodes. Fans are sad to see the show go, but at least it’s getting time to wrap up the story in a satisfying way.
That story is about Scott McCall, a teenage werewolf who has achieved “true alpha” status. I know, it sounds like a Boy Scout rank. It means Scott became an alpha werewolf without killing another alpha, which is what you normally need to do. Long story short, it was a cop-out, but it’s worked out for him so far.

After all, Scott’s pack is full of misfits. He has one werewolf with anger management issues, another who used to be an undead were-jaguar, one were-coyote who’s spent most of her life in animal form, and a couple regular humans who have spent time as evil monsters.
The point is there are a ton of interesting stories revolving around these characters. But the people of Beacon Hills (the town in the show) don’t know those stories. All they’re likely to see are the glowing eyes, claws, sharp teeth, and extra-long sideburns. And according to the trailers and the hints dropped in the show, the truth will be coming out soon. And there will be war.
This works on so many levels. Hunters were the big threat when the show started. Then the pack moved on to bigger threats like witches, ninjas, steampunk Frankenstein, and cowboys borrowing plot ideas from Steven Moffat. Now the show is kind of going back to basics with “werewolves versus normal people”, but also introducing the biggest threat yet. Because even if the heroes win, that means humanity will have to lose.
Werewolves work as a great metaphor for puberty and the responsibilities of growing up, but on the other side of the coin we fear them because they’re terrible predators that usually look just like us. Getting past this isn’t as simple as accepting people who are different, like in iZombie. It takes a stronger love, the kind that’s portrayed in Teen Wolf pretty well.

Danger Days: looking at the sacrifices of the Fabulous Killjoys

Disclaimer: possible spoilers for those unfamiliar with My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and a possible trigger warning for fans of My Chemical Romance. I may not be appreciating this album as much as I should, but at least I’m appreciating it.

 

[Isaac looks up from his computer.]

You know…we haven’t covered music in a while.

[He opens iTunes and scrolls through library. He scrolls down to the M’s, and finds Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.]

MCR_Dange_Days_Front
The album cover, or something similar. (Photo Credit: the Danger Days Wiki)

Hm. I forgot I had a My Chemical Romance album.

And I know it’s not regarded as the best MCR album—that’s still The Black Parade, if I’m not mistaken—but it’s the only one I have readily/legally available.

Plus, I like it.

Danger Days is a concept album—in other words, an album that tells an overarching story, or has a theme throughout the entire album. This one, through about fifteen tracks, two music videos, and a comic series, tells a story of a rebel/renegade/outlaw group in a post-apocalyptic wasteland: the eponymous Fabulous Killjoys.

To give perspective, I haven’t read the comics yet. I’m basing this on the album and the music videos.

Right off the get-go, the initial themes seem to be, in order, making a lot of noise and running away. Lyrics like, “It’s time to do it now and do it loud / Killjoys, make some noise” (from “Na Na Na”) and “This world is after me / after you / run away” (from “Bulletproof Heart”).

However, this being the story of a group of outlaws, there are also references to car theft, drug dealing, and disregarding the powers that be. I mean, the first lyric out of the lead singer’s mouth is, “Drugs, give me drugs, give me drugs, I don’t need ‘em / But I’ll sell what you got, take the cash, and I’ll keep ‘em.” (from “Na Na Na”) Not to mention this album comes with the Parental Advisory sticker, and earns it within the first two tracks.

At least, that’s what it is on the surface. The music videos for “Na Na Na” and “SING” show the Killjoys—the members of the band—basically waging war against a shady corporate business, Better Living Industries (or BL/ind, for those missing the symbolism), that regularly tries to kill them.

Again, I haven’t read the comics, but I think they follow a similar vein.

Here, the theme of running comes back in full force, but with an added theme. It’s a fairly small theme, from what I can see, as it only appears twice: in the “SING” music video and the track “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back.” This would be the theme of sacrifice.

I mean, make of it what you will, but “SING” has the Killjoys breaking into the BL/ind office to save one of their captured friends, at the risk of their lives. And “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” switches the “run” theme for “run so my sacrifice isn’t in vain.”

I don’t know. Maybe there’s something in the comics that I’m missing. Or maybe I got it all. Who am I to say?

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

 

 

And, yes. I did shorten one of the song titles for this post. Forgive my improper citation, but I’m too lazy to put the full name of “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” every time I reference it.

The End Comes… Down a Video Phone

Black Mirror is…I guess a good term would be “psychological horror.” There aren’t always monsters, and people don’t always die. But it’s usually creepy as all get out and there’s almost never a happy ending.

The show is about the various ways technology can ruin lives. Some episodes are set in the not-too-distant future: hackers use drones and webcams to cause trouble, or a guy gets stuck in virtual reality horror game. Other episodes happen in high-tech dystopias, like the world where social media likes and dislikes are the only currency.
I need to be vague so I don’t spoil anything…but then again, I’m not eagerly recommending this show. Unlike the scary Doctor Who episodes or those post-apocalyptic stories I like so much, Black Mirror has no discernible morals. It’s always “cynicism beats optimism.” The creator of the show even admitted, “We throw you into a pit of despair and then pee on you, because people seem to like that.”
It’s true. People seem to like the realistic outlook of science fiction like this, even if it’s a pessimistic outlook. But Black Mirror gets really, really pessimistic. Fans admit that it makes them sick to their stomach, but they still enjoy it. It’s kind of like how nerds enjoy the feeling of getting punched in the soul. But worse. It’s very possible for people to go overboard by forgetting the Hope that still remains even as the world is falling apart. So viewer discretion is very much advised.

I did say “usually creepy” and “almost never a happy ending.” The one notable exception is “San Junipero.”
This episode is about the Matrix, except people log on willingly because it’s a fun vacation spot where they can look however they like. When they die, their minds can be uploaded permanently, so it’s basically heaven on Earth. But if your girlfriend is dying of cancer and she would prefer to stay dead, things can get complicated.
Of course, if you’re a girl as well, you’ll be fine. All the “best” stories let the gay people have their happy ending. Even one where 90% of the main characters get terrible endings.
See, in this case, I’m not just disagreeing with the gay romance on a Christian basis. As a nerd, I dislike “San Junipero” because it’s too happy to be Black Mirror. And that says something about the rest of the show.

Isaac Reviews Rick & Morty Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2

Well, after almost a year and a half, Rick & Morty Season 3 is well under way. I kind of missed my shot at talking about the first episode (which premiered on April 1st) because of emotional troubles. Now that I have the chance, I’m going to talk about it, with the episode that premiered last Sunday night/Monday morning.

And, as such, spoilers ahead.

Before I begin, I would like to point out that this is more looking at the episodes themselves, not so much from a Christian angle or worldview. Rick & Morty is a predominantly atheistic show—almost in the same way that Doctor Who is. Ergo, not every episode will have a solid moral or takeaway.

Or, if it does, it’ll be forced. You’ve been warned.

 

Episode 1: “The Rickshank Rickdemption”

Rick Morty 2.png
Rick and clearly-not-Morty (voiced by Nathan Fillion) [photo credit: Youtube]
The plot is as the name implies: Rick breaks out of prison through his usual, alcohol-and-nihilism-fueled tomfoolery. It’s been a while—four months and counting—since I watched it, but I remember it being fairly complicated, with Rick’s consciousness hopping from one body to another body to another body.

Though, along the way, Rick—through the power of plot advancement—devalues his captors’ currency. If this episode does have a moral, it’s that physical possessions only have value that we give them. Whether it’s the dollar, a car, or McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce.

Not necessarily a Christian moral, but one that would come in handy for when I clean house.

Also, I was basically a baby when Mulan came out; was the Szechuan Sauce actually that good? I’m asking because I’ve never had it.

 

Episode 2: “Rickmancing the Stone”

Rick Morty 1
I…I don’t know how to explain this one. (photo credit: Dailymotion)

You’d think with a name that plays on Romancing the Stone, the episode would be set in a lush, South American jungle. But no. It’s a Mad Max parody.

Rick, Morty, and Summer (Morty’s older sister) are in another universe looking for an isotope that functions as a power source. Meanwhile, Morty and Summer are feeling the repercussions of their parents going through a divorce. It’s basically a 20-minute Mad Max reference with an interesting lesson on dealing with change. It felt like a filler episode, but Rick & Morty hasn’t had much in the field of meta-narrative.

But, still, it has the normal content problems of Rick & Morty, paired with the content problems of Mad Max. Normally, I’d say, “Make of it what you will,” except this wasn’t really that great of an episode, even by Rick & Morty standards.

 

So, yeah. Season 3, so far. I’m not sure if I’ll do this for the rest of the season. If I do, it’ll be another set of two episodes per post, just so I’m not talking about Rick & Morty for three months non-stop.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Angels in Spiffy Tuxedos: A Movie Review

I’d like to submit another entry for “angels portrayed in media.” It’s a movie from several years ago called The Adjustment Bureau. These guys don’t call themselves angels and they don’t specifically say that they work for God, but we’re meant to assume that religions and mythologies throughout history have been referring to these guys in nice suits and spiffy hats, including Anthony “Falcon” Mackie and Terrence Stamp.
This movie is a mashup of Men in Black and that Sliding Doors movie. The tuxedo guys can predict the future with uncanny accuracy and Make Things Happen from small things that could be mistaken for chance to bigger things like changing how people reason or erasing their personality – anything that helps them keep humanity on track according to the Chairman’s Master Plan.
The Plan involves Matt Damon winning a bunch of elections. It doesn’t involve him falling in love with Emily Blunt. But Damon is very good at one thing: changing his mind at the last second and doing something stupid. This makes him the Adjustment Bureau’s greatest enemy.
But to be clear, Matt Damon is portrayed as the hero, trying to fight so-called destiny and be with his dream girl. Terrence Stamp and his spiffy hat-wearing friends are the bad guys. Meaning, by extension, the Chairman (God) and his Master Plan must be bad. It’s Supernatural all over again.
But the Adjustment Bureau is a good movie, in general. It’s about chance encounters and genuine human interactions. It’s well-acted and it flows nicely.

*Spoilers Ahead.* If I’ve piqued your interest, go watch the movie, then come back. If you don’t mind, just keep reading. Ready? Here we go.

From a nerd perspective, the third act is the movie’s downfall. Mackie shows Damon behind the Men in Gray’s curtain. The explanation of how things work seemed needlessly confusing and I found it boring. The movie might have been better if they kept the truth shrouded in mystery.
But then the very end of the movie makes it a bit better from a Christian perspective. It turns out Damon is so good at going outside the Master Plan that the Chairman is willing to change destiny-as-written for him and his dream girl. The “Chairman” changed his mind a few times in the Bible, too. So maybe this movie isn’t so blasphemous after all.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10; well-acted, good concepts, shaky ending