Saw Couples Retreat last night. I didn’t find it especially great, but I enjoyed it enough for a Red Box rental. I did like the message that the swingin’ single life can get old, and that while all of the couples learn things, it’s not as if their relationships go from terrible to great. The theme of the movie can be summed up as this: Relationships aren’t always easy, but what in life is?
I did have one complaint though. Each of the male leads are played by rather ordinary-looking guys (especially by Hollywood standards) but every female lead is beautiful, including having a fabulous bikini-ready body. It’s not exactly a complaint, I suppose, but it is just another example of how our culture demands attractiveness from women more than men. It’s hard to imagine the film reversing its gender roles, having all the women be average and all the men be super hunky. I think what really bugged me though wasn’t that the women were attractive, but that the movie didn’t even have the decency to pretend that they weren’t super hot. Would it have killed them to put at least one of them in a one-piece? It wouldn’t really hide anything, but it would have at least been less blatant. It’s a quibble, I know, and not meant as an indictment of the film in general. Just an observation.
I bought Monster Hunter 3 for Wii this weekend. Ended up disliking it so much that I returned it for store credit. It’s not that it’s a bad game. It’s just not the game I was looking for. I bought it assuming I would get to kill monsters. Instead, I spent most of the game collecting mushrooms and gathering herbs. The game is called Monster Hunter. Seems bizarre that so much non-monster hunting activity is part of the game.
Also, it cheesed me off to no end that even though the game can be played with up to 4 players, you need to have an internet connection with your Wii to be able to play with 4. Or even 2 because if you’re playing on one system, you can only do a lesser “arena” mode with 2 players. That’s just wrong. Back in the good ol’ days (and for once I say this without irony) we were allowed to play split screen mode on multiplayer games. Yes, it was a bit of a hassle to have your screen sliced into sections, but at least you could play with your friends. In the same room even!
Sometimes, technology seems to work in reverse. We used to play video games in arcades, a very public setting. Then we started playing games in our homes, which was still a fun way to get together with friends. Now, we all stay home and interact via headsets.
It’s like cable television, which always confuses me because doesn’t it seem like a backward step to take free television that traveled magically through the air, beamed into our homes, and have it transported via an elaborate electronic pipeline? Also costs a hell of a lot more than free.
But back to Monster Hunter. The lesson learned from the game is this: Don’t lose sight of what you’re all about. If your game is called Monster Hunter then there sure as hell better be some hunting of monsters. And not just a little bit of hunting. Not even 75 % hunting. For every hour of gameplay, I better have at least 50 minutes of monster hunting. Otherwise, I just feel cheated. The non-hunting elements of the game aren’t bad. They just aren’t what I’m looking for.
Reminds me a bit of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds remake that seemed less concerned with an alien invasion and more interested in showing a dysfunctional family yelling at each other. I wasn’t there to watch Tom Cruise struggle with bratty kids (who I probably would’ve left to the aliens’ tender mercies). I was there to watch aliens invade. Say what you will about Independence Day but it’s a movie that has the good sense to have aliens blow up monuments and epic jet fighter VS spaceship battles.
So what else?
Warner Bros. has put the stops on many direct-to-video animated superhero films they were working on. Shame about that. From what I understand, the films did well in the long run, but were weak sellers at first. Isn’t this kind of dumb? The advantage of direct-to-video should be the ability to view profitability in the long term. Gil’s All Fright Diner continues to sell well, and my hope is that this goes on and on and on. It’d be cool to make a billion dollars all at once, but I’ll settle for a billion over the course of a few years.
One of the more annoying things about the announcement was that the Wonder Woman animated film’s slow start was taken as a sign that superhero animated features featuring female heroes are never going to find an audience. That’s absurd, and again, illustrates the innate sexism built into our culture. The Green Lantern movie had the same problem, but nobody is suggesting that male superheroes are passe.
I’ll admit that I didn’t rush out to get either of these films, but when I did see them, I found both to be highly entertaining and great fun. The Green Lantern film was probably a little better than the Wonder Woman one, but I still really liked both of them. If a sequel to either was created, I’d jump right on them this time. Which brings up another good point. What’s the logic in building an audience only to discard it as it begins to take notice?
Personally, I believe somebody was just looking for a chance to pull the plug on these direct-to-video movies from the beginning. The performance of these films has less to do with their performance and more to do with preconceived notions. If you think about it, Warner Brothers has always been reluctant to take advantage of DC’s superhero characters. Aside from Batman and Superman, that is. This makes Justice League Unlimited a true wonder. Because, while it features Bats and Supes, it also dares to star great characters like The Question and Green Arrow. Heck, the DCAU’s Supergirl character made me actually like Supergirl.
Then again, Justice League Unlimited gave me a grand affection for The Question, only to have DC Comics immediately kill him off. That doesn’t make much sense since it’s Batman: The Animated Series that revitalized Batman in the comic books, much more so than any of the movies before or since. Heck, my favorite Batman is still found in animated form. You can keep the maudlin mopey goofball in comics and movies.
Oh, and for the record, Justice League Unlimited: Season One is the best thing ever produced for television. Ever. If you don’t own it, you really should. Not only does it manage to take dozens of characters and create a great series of adventures for them. It also manages to integrate a seamless season long story arc. More importantly, this is the season when The Question tried to strangle Lex Luthor for the sake of the future, when Captain Marvel and Superman destroyed several city blocks in a battle to end all battles, where Booster Gold saves the universe, and Aquaman punches out a dinosaur. Add to this crackerjack characterization, thrilling adventure, and an ability to tie it all-together in a way that showcases just how inadequate Heroes is and you’ve got something every intelligent person agrees is almost too awesome to exist in this reality.
Trust me on this. If you’re reading this blog, then odds are you’re a fan of mine. And if you’re a fan of mine, then you will love Justice League Unlimited. I guarantee it. It’s not a money back guarantee or anything, and I won’t even apologize because if you can’t see how awesome it is then that’s your problem, not mine. But go ahead and buy or rent it today. You’ll be glad you did.
Well, I could go on and on. I mean, I really could because this is a huge topic of a great deal of interest to me., but we’ll just have to leave it there for now.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,