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12 January 2017 @ 11:46 pm
Arrival & Fantastic Beasts & Rogue One  
Wrapping up my 2016 film reviews/comments, because I was on top of these until we hit December, heh.

First up: Arrvial. This film has Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, it's about languages and science, it's about the importance of and the difficulties inherent in communication, it's about first contact with aliens, I was predisposed to like this film, okay? Except then it was smart, educational, funny, and had a rare (at least in Western media, to my experience) type of ending where instead of it being BOOM BIG ENDING there were events and information that put into context everything in the film that you'd already watched, that brought everything into focus. And what reveals! If you're looking for an explosive alien movie with blowing things up and landmarks going up in smoke, this is not the film you're looking for. It's more like Contact, it's thoughtful scifi, and it's bloody brilliant.

[SPOILERS - things I loved]The alien language was beautiful. I loved the constant idea throughout that we progress by helping each other, by working together, culminating in the reason for the aliens' visit being that we're to be able to help them in the future. The idea of langauge and understanding as a gift! Time travel, the fourth dimension, as a lived experience! "I just found out why my husband left me," oh my heart, right in the feels. You think in the language you learn. Just. THIS FILM. I REALLY, REALLY LIKED IT.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Possibly unpopular opinion time: I thought the Harry Potter films were pretty, and creative, and some of those actors and actresses will forever be the face of their characters for me, but. They cut so much of the books in the earlier films that it damaged the plot and they could just never touch the books. My hope for Fantastic Beasts that as a film not based on a pre-existing story it would be forced to have a stronger plot in order to stand on its own merit. It did have stronger plot, and the creatures and magic were as magical as expected. It's not one I'm going to rave about, but it was enjoyable, I'd watch it again, some good funny moments and nice little details, I'd love to adopt a niffler and a bowtruckle, and the inside of Newt's suitcase was very well done.

[SPOILERS - some thoughts]I did fall into the trap of thinking that the little girl was the Obscurus host and I liked that it was Credence instead. And it had some lovely details and jumping off points - if I still wrote Harry Potter fanfic I would be enjoying the hell out of playing with those *grins*.

On the downside, I'm not sure how I feel about the Grindlewald reveal, mostly because to me Fantastic Beasts wasn't the introduction to a war story, but a war recovery story, with Newt and Jacob, but also other characters, finding their feet and discovering - literally in Jacob's case - magic, in discovering wonder and joy again. If this is just a nod to the wider world, well okay then. But if this is going to be a war franchise... we'll see. Also, um, what happened to diversity? There's a shot at the end of the female, character of colour head of MACUSA surrounded by a pack of all white, male auorors that slammed it in my face that despite two women as well as two men heading the cast (although the focus is on the guys; i'd be interested to see the screentime) there's a distinct lack of racial diversity that, especially considering there's no story source material and they could have done anything they wanted, is damn sad.

Well then. Rogue One. I'm not a fan of Star Wars as such; I consider myself to be more an enjoyer of Star Wars as someone who likes Things Set In Space. But even I appreicated how this prequel to A New Hope adds wonderful details to the existing 'verse and casts A New Hope in a new light. It's a good space-heist movie, there's some fun and humour very reminiscent of the original films which I enjoyed, and I appreicate the many shades of grey the film explored. And then that ending. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT ENDING. As such, I think this is a good film but I'm going to need some time before I do any rewatching. To recover.

[SPOILERS - oh you want to hear about the ending - NO, REALLY, HUGE SPOILERS]The ending? Everyone dies. We're talking major major character death. But it works so well. When they first started going I jumped to the thought that characters dying would be a good explaination for why none of them then show up in the three films that follow it, but I was still holding onto a silm hope that maybe some of them would be allowed to survive. Because this film had managed to make me care about them. And then there was the moment where the Death Star plans are being passed from hand to hand by rebel soldiers as they're persued by Darth Vader, these nameless background characters dying to pass these plans on, a human chain, and that, THAT MOMENT, was for me the context of the whole film.

Rogue One is the story of nameless background characters, who have their own story and thing going on, who contribute to the big plot lines but we never see it. And I am a sucker for stories about background characters being brought into the foreground. I didn't expect to see that in a big franchise film. Bravo! And, as is the way with Redshirts (sorry, I know, wrong Stars :P ), they did. Tragically. Sadly. But this time we know their names, we know their stories, and it gave me all the feelings, but the moment that my eyes leaked? Those nameless characters persued by Darth Vader, their exit door closing, passing the plans through the slim remaining gap onto their fellow rebels, dying for it. Because I didn't know their names, or their stories, or anything about them, but the characters of Rogue One had given me direct empathy and for the first time I can remember I had leaky eyes at the death of background characters. Damn you Star Wars, you and your feelings.

On a side note, dear parents who take small children to see 12A films - meaning kids under 12 can watch with an accompanying adult: 12A is a guidance that means the film certificate board suggests your child be 12 to watch this film. Please check the film certificate board website to see why a film is rated the way it is. And then consider that maybe you shouldn't take toddlers and 5 year olds and small children into films that are seriously unsuitable for them before the unsuitable thing happens and both you and your children have to deal with the fallout. Not questioning your parenting skills; you know your child best. My sister with Down's Syndrome? Perfectly okay with a rom-com rated 15 for swearing, sex, and stupidity. Would not be okay watching A Monster Calls even though it's only rated a PG, because of the sad and the reason for the sad. You know your child. Please also know your rating reasons. Thank you.

With the trend to making things like superhero films 'darker' to draw in the older audience whilst trying to keep the younger audience, there seem to be more 12A films with little kids in the audience. Maybe I notice it more because I go to early film showings with my sister. But the kids in some of these 12A films, especially Star Wars are nowhere near 12, and I want to say to their parents: look, I know you think superheros and space are childish, but they're not. Or I know you want to watch these films because they're geeky and you want to share with your kid, but you've got time yet when they're older. I know the original Star Wars trilogy was rated PG, but Rogue One really, really isn't. *sigh*. I'll shut up now, but I had feelings about that as much as the film's ending.

So, that was 2016. Up in 2017: I really, really want to watch Hidden Figures! And I am, of course, looking forward to Spiderman Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor Ragnorok. Not sure what else is coming out yet. What films are you looking forward to in 2017?
author_by_night: Folks by ozqueen (quoted from To Kill aauthor_by_night on January 13th, 2017 12:56 am (UTC)
Haven't seen the other films so no comment there. I have seen Fantastic Beasts, though. :)

First, I agree with your basic assessment of the films. I DO think the books would make an incredible miniseries, and I can see them being made into one a few decades down the line. There's just so much that gets missed, although it didn't help that JKR hadn't even planned out all of the books yet, let alone written them, when the first three were released.

As far as FB goes, I wasn't sure about the girl being the Obscura. I went back and forth between her and Credence the whole time, but I also thought maybe they both were.

I was surprised at the hints of it being a war series. I do wonder how that'll work, though... we know DD defeats Grindlewald, not Newt... I guess we'll see?
inkvoices: hp:luna believesinmagicinkvoices on January 15th, 2017 10:22 pm (UTC)
it didn't help that JKR hadn't even planned out all of the books yet, let alone written them, when the first three were released Yes! Whenever I see a film advertised that's based on a book but the author hasn't finished the series yet I'm always 'you might want to hang on there folks!'

Oooh, I hadn't thought both! That would have been really interesting.

I know, right? I'd really like to see Newt travelling all over - when they first announced they were doing Fantastic Beasts I thought it'd be a wonderful opportunity to see different countries and cultures and explore all kinds of creatures and magic. When they said this one was New York I had a sigh and moved on, but now they've said they'll be doing more they've got my hopes up again a bit. But Newt or Grindlewald chasing the other or wider politics? Not sure I want :/
cassiekiss_me_cassie on January 13th, 2017 01:49 am (UTC)
RE: Rogue One

Omg, that end with those plans... yeah. Killed me.

RE: Children

So, I have feelings on this. Obviously, what with a 7 year old. I was seriously concerned about taking him to Rogue One, especially realizing the ending (yes, I spoil myself) but while tragic for ME, for him, he saw no real deaths (ie, there were bright light explosions, but with the exception of Chirrut, you don't really see them dead after the explosions, ya know?) and was able to take all the adventure of it in without getting a lot of the subtler meanings, Really, the only issue he had with it was the length. And maybe all of the above was that he likes Star Wars but he's not really invested in it.

Otoh, I wouldn't let him see Civil War. Partly, because there was a lot more politics to it that he wouldn't have understood and there were not any exciting action scenes around those political scenes to distract him. And also because he legitimately CARES so much about Cap and Iron Man that I thought them fighting themselves to death at the end would scar him.

So anyhow. I think it matters a lot about the kid in question, their relationship to the story AND a whole bunch of little things. Some kids CAN handle it; some can't.
cassiekiss_me_cassie on January 13th, 2017 01:53 am (UTC)
PS: The kid was really mad at me for not letting him see Civil War because a bunch of his friends got to see it... WHINE.
inkvoicesinkvoices on January 15th, 2017 10:24 pm (UTC)
So anyhow. I think it matters a lot about the kid in question, their relationship to the story AND a whole bunch of little things. Some kids CAN handle it; some can't. Exactly. My sister is fine with things like Lord of teh Rings and whilst she found Rogue One sad it wasn't super upsetting for her. A film where a teenager dying of cancer having a nosebleed however, even if you don't see the dying, makes her really upset. And I do appreciate with off-screen or 'no ketchup' deaths it can pass over the heads of kids who don't get the context. But. There were kids upset and parents guilty, and parents guilty even though their kids didn't look too bothered (I hope) at this screening.

Edited at 2017-01-15 10:25 pm (UTC)
cassiekiss_me_cassie on January 16th, 2017 12:23 am (UTC)
Ah, that makes a difference. My backup plan if N did get upset was to take him a few doors down to a showing of Sing that started 15 minutes after Rogue One started while Hubby watched Rogue One.
inkvoicesinkvoices on January 20th, 2017 11:31 pm (UTC)
That's the big that bugged me - that the 12A is meant to be a parental guide, or a nod to find out what it's about if you're kid isn't 12, and it seems to get ignored now. Often I would say with films like Star Wars, the superhero films, films people might call childish I think. *sigh*

Good back up plan :)
jesterlady: TITCMosswordjesterlady on January 13th, 2017 06:02 am (UTC)
Those are some really interesting views on both Arrival and Rogue One. It's making me think. :)

Plus, I totally agree about the kids thing!
inkvoices: F:goingmadSimoninkvoices on January 15th, 2017 10:26 pm (UTC)
Thinky thoughts are always fun :)

I don't get why people don't check ratings when they're older than the kid in question *sigh*
Meckerziege: star warsgelbes_gilatier on January 14th, 2017 01:56 am (UTC)
And then there was the moment where the Death Star plans are being passed from hand to hand by rebel soldiers as they're persued by Darth Vader, these nameless background characters dying to pass these plans on, a human chain, and that, THAT MOMENT, was for me the context of the whole film.

That scene killed me. I could barely keep it together after the beach scene, which was bad enough, but this one was so awful. I mean, it was awesome from a cinematographic point of view but the sheer slaughter and desperation of the scene - and the fact that none of them made it out of there, not one - felt like a punch in the gut. A really heavy one. I nearly lost it at the hammer head corvette sacrificing itself to get the Star Destroyers but that Vader slaughter was really, really awful.

I am a Star Wars fan, BTW, like, one who knows every movie, has read a ton of Legacy books and a couple new canon books, too, who gets a bit of a kick out of hearing "General Syndulla to the briefing room!" in Rogue One (I haven't even seen one Rebels episode and I still couldn't help grinning) and who noticed the first time around that Red Leader's and Gold Leader's scenes were from A New Hope and expertly cut to fit into Rogue One. And I honestly think that Rogue One is the best Star Wars film so far, and by far. I liked The Force Awakens but I really, really loved Rogue One. If I had read Rogue One as fanfiction, I would have sold my effing soul to see it on the big screen. Rogue One is truly the Star Wars movie I wanted for the last ten years, and it didn't disappoint. It had a bit of a weal beginning (too many and too fast location switches) but it really picked up speed and quality on Jedha.

I was kind of afraid they would - in accord to the current political climate - push the "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" narrative too far into the direction of "terrorists" and would villify the Rebellion beyond any redemption but they really managed to walk that fine line between "all of them are evil terrorists who don't care about civilian casualties" and "all of them are white knights in a sea of evil" perfectly. The whole thing had so many nuances. Not just Saw Guerrera and his partisans but also the frictions in the "main" Alliance, Draven ordering Cassian to basically execute Galen Erso - which is wrong on the moral side but makes sense from a military tactical standpoint - Cassian's inner conflict, Jyn's journey from "It doesn't bother me if I don't look up." (which was a very pointed commentary on people having he luxury of not having a political opinion) to giving her life for a cause... ugh, it was beautiful!

I also agree with you on being careful about taking children to movies like this. I honestly wouldn't, as this is more of a war movie than a star movie (I found the visual nods to WWII and Vietnam War movies especially exciting but then I just really love war movies, in general). Actually, it's a war movie, period. The "main" Star Wars movies definitely aren't, and I really don't see a problem with parents taking kids of maybe 10, 11 years to see them but that movie? That's not a kid's movie, and it's not a "simple" action movie, either. It's a complex tale of sacrifice, morality in wartime, attonement (Cassian's greatest moment was his "We have all done terrible things in the name of the Rebellion" speech)... I know parents are the only ones with a right to decide for their kids but honestly... if you wouldn't take your kid to watch Full Metal Jacket or Platoon, you probably shouldn't take them to watch Rogue One, either.

Edited at 2017-01-14 01:59 am (UTC)
inkvoicesinkvoices on January 15th, 2017 10:34 pm (UTC)
THAT SCENE. YES. ARGH. Normally I don't mind background characters getting knocked down, soliders in a massive army or faceless, nameless characters. I mean, it's a bit ouch, but we're trained not to really care. I love Terry Prachett's 'Guards! Guards!' for addressing that and I loved that Rogue One addressed background characters, I just wasn't prepared for the impact of sudden nameless, faceless characters dying ON TOP OFF background characters i'd gotten to know dying. As if I'd almost learnt about the nameless, faceless characters too, or that the feelings were compounded, and that they were literally passing the batton, that continuation of character-meaning... I don't know, but it was damn clever and my hat is off to that.

Oh nice! It's always good to heard what a fan of something thinks too for comparison, and vice versa when I'm the fan *grins*. Good to know it stands up in a fan's eyes.

Yes, I liked the grey areas very much. Like Cassian with his execution orders and his speech about having following unsavoury orders in the hopes of contributing to something more, but not sure they can go on from that... And Jyn's 'it doesn't botther me if I don't look up' was perfect.

And what gets me is that the ratings even reflect this - the original trilogy is a PG and Rogue One is a 12A. I checked the ratings to see why, as did my cousins who have kids (and then they asked me after I went to see it), because maybe if it's a higher rating you should ask why? *sigh*