Post 28th Mental State

Recently I rang in my 28th birthday and I guess I had something of a mid mid life crisis, if that’s a thing. There was recently this boom in this app called Sarahah where people could leave anonymous messages for you to read. One such message left for me labelled me as someone who seeks validation and acceptance through social media and covering up my insecurities with narcissism. Basically labeling me as borderline pathetic. Now the message did come off a bit hostile but I could see that there was some truth in it.

I figured I would have a birthday thing where I’d invite my friends over. This is where my anxiety kicked in as I began to worry about no one showing and I’d be all alone on my birthday. Needless to say, a lot of my friends actually showed up and it took me by surprise. I had never felt so loved before in quite a long time. It did have an impact on me. Realizing that I am not so alone that I had been telling myself.

It’s been less than a week and some of these changes were taking effect before but I find myself mellowing out more. The day of my birthday, I didn’t find myself anxious as to who was going to wish me a “Happy Birthday”. I find myself not worrying about asking my friends to hang out. Worrying that they’ll say no because they don’t like me. Not looking at my messages to see if they’ve been read or if they’re going to be replied to.

Also not feeling the need to post on social media just because. There was some truth in those statements. I did use it as a means to get attention from people. Instead of doing the healthy thing and simply reaching out to them. I had been using it as a crutch instead of simply holding myself up especially when it came to people I care about. I’m not sure as to what got me to the point where I was using it to validate myself but I’m glad someone brought it to my attention, even if they were a bit crass about it.

Then there was also the self deprecation. If anyone is hard on me, it’s me. I’m routinely putting myself down and making jokes about myself. I can never really grasp as to why anyone would like me in any sense. Now that is something that I need to stop and have been putting a curve to. I know I’m a great person (not putting myself on a pedestal) and need to embrace it more. I’ve just been so used to using it as a defense mechanism and unfortunately started believing my own bullshit. This will probably take the longest to change but I’m working on it.

There is a saying that you never stop learning and growing. I find that to be true. One never really knows the answers and every day is a learning experience. So here’s to a lifetime of more learning.

‘The Dark Tower’ Review

Stephen King’s epic series of novels has finally come to the big screen after a long period of stop and go. Idris Elba stars as Roland Deschain aka The Gunslinger, the last in a line of “knights” from Midworld. Matthew McConaughey is his main antagonist: The Man in Black aka Walter Padick, a sorcerer who wishes to destroy The Dark Tower to seemingly unleash Hell upon the universe. The two have been going at one another for years but are finally brought together again by an 11 year old boy, Jake Chambers, whose ability to “shine” is crucial to The Man in Black’s plan.

I’ve only read about three and a half of the books that consist of the eight Dark Tower books. I’m also aware that almost all of Stephen King’s stories (books, novellas, short stories) are all linked and through The Dark Tower itself. I did not expect this movie to go into any of that due to licensing issues. But what did I get? Well it was not bad but it really wasn’t good either. The best way to describe the movie was thin. At a little over 90 minutes, the movie felt like it should have been at least 15 minutes longer.

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First and foremost, the performances are good. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are top notch actors and do the best with what they were given. The only problem is that their characters are two dimensional with hints at something more. Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers is a little hard to gauge but that is always kind of the problem with child actors. He certainly did not give a bad performance and he was never annoying but it always felt like something was off. The rest of the supporting cast with Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert and others are fine but they are given even less depth than the main characters.

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The biggest problem with the movie seems to be editing. You can tell that the movie has been cut in many different ways. Sometimes characters finish conversations that never even started on screen. The editing is also off when characters just seemingly show up at places with no set up. Even with the editing issues, the movie is not the mess that you might expect when you hear someone say that. It is a fairly linear story that moves at a good pace but as stated previously there should have been more to the movie.

The thinness of the movie hinders it in as much as we do really know who the characters are, why they are doing what they are doing, how they are able to do what they do and so on and so on. There are many opportunities for character developing moments and they probably were there but the film simply breezes over them. I was never expecting this movie to get as lofty and trippy as the source materials do. But I did want something more to get a sense of how this universe or multiverse works.

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Nikolaj Arcel is the director and this is is his big budget film. The film actually has a modest budget for the type of film that it is. But as per usual when these types of movies, you get the sense that either the director did not get a real good grasp or the studio might have interfered. Honestly, I think it was a perfect storm of events. There have been talks about making the series a television series and this movie kind of proves that to be true. It seems really big and unwieldy for a feature film or even a series of feature films.

Ultimately it seems that the film struggled to find its own identity. On one hand, it had to please hardcore fans and before obvious reshoots, it was supposed to be a sequel of sorts to the books. On the other hand, it is supposed to introduce a new audience to the rich mythology. It ultimately succeeds in doing none of those things. But it is not a failure of a movie. Just a mess of one.

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SCORE: 6.5/10

Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art

Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

If you ask me who my favorite Batman villain is outside of The Joker, it would definitely have to be The Riddler. When I was a kid and they sold VHS tapes (remember those?) of episodes of series, my parents bought me one from Batman: The Animated Series and it was his first and last appearance in the series. His first appearance encapsulates everything great and terrifying about The Riddler. From the beginning, we see Edward Nygma (get it?) finishing a crossword puzzle with relative ease. But after being locked out of his episode and fired by his boss, Daniel Mockridge, for suing the company for royalties on a game he developed, Nygma is furious.

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Cut to the present day, Mockridge is brokering a deal with Bruce Wayne when a threat appears on a news ticker outside. Hinting that Nygma has been threatening him for some time now. We later see Bruce suiting up as Batman and skulking around trying to figure out the riddle while Dick Grayson aka Robin is conveniently playing the game that Nygma developed. The two manage to discover where Nygma has his threat laid out where they come face to face with The Riddler…whom Batman immediately knows is Edward Nygma due to reading the company’s history.

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Within the episode, we really see the value in Batman and Robin. As smart as Batman is, he needs someone to bounce ideas off and there are just things he doesn’t know. Due to Dick being a young adult, he is familiar with the live action version of the video game that he was playing earlier, which Nygma has managed to weaponize. A musical puzzle later is also something that Batman knows nothing about and it is up to Robin to help solve it. Also being familiar with the maze due to video game, he is the key to Batman figuring out loopholes to stop The Riddler’s plan.

The Riddler in the episode shows why he is one of Batman’s greatest villains. Pushing his mental limits as he does not just keep to one type of brain teasers but instead mixes it up and almost everything has a secret meaning. Something that goes unsaid but every episode that features The Riddler also has Robin in it to help Batman. From the beginning, we see how smug and narcissistic Nygma is. Almost all his dialogue with other people has him mentioning how great his intellect is while belittling those he is talking to. But as Mockridge even asks, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Nygma claims he is so smart yet he couldn’t comprehend that he signed a work for hire contract and while his lawsuit may be justified somewhat, it still seems like something he should have known before. Mockridge also firing him for suing the company also seems highly illegal yet Nygma does nothing about that and jumps straight to murder.

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The ending of the episode is also great as The Riddler manages to get away. While he is a wanted man, he did achieve a variation of his goal. While he did not kill Mockridge, Mockridge is a shell of his former self. Having to sleep with a shotgun in his bed just because of his fear of The Riddler. Even though Batman managed to save him, Batman himself does not seem to give the man much sympathy either. It really makes you think about how you treat people whether you are in the right or wrong or in the middle.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was a surprise critical and financial success. It was followed in 2014 with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which was received with even more critical and financial success. The series took a different approach from the previous Planet of the Apes films and instead focused more on the apes side and see how they started to become intelligent to the beginning of their takeover of the planet. This has all been accomplished due to the ground breaking motion capture technology where humans play the apes and are able to bring human characteristics to the apes. So how does the final movie in the trilogy (sort of) hold up?

The movie begins two years after the previous movie where war has taken its toll on both the apes and humans caught in the conflict. Caesar, the ape who started the whole revolution and the leader of the apes, is weary. It’s clear that he is only involved in the war because he has to. Never forgetting that Koba, his best friend that he killed, is the one who started the war in the first place and wondering if he might go down the same path. After an act of mercy leads to dire consequences, the apes must find a new home while Caesar goes on a personal revenge quest against The Colonel.

First and foremost, the title is a bit misleading. This movie basically covers the tail end of the war with the majority of it happening in between movies. Instead, it is basically The Great Escape with apes. It is also not a very action oriented movie. Besides the opening and the ending, the action is very scarce. The movie is much more an introspective tale about Caesar and his struggles with what his life has brought him. Knowing that he is in a war that he never wanted to be in, a father to his sons, a husband and leader to an ape community, it is all taking a toll. It’s noticeable because he has gray hairs on his fur and it’s implied that it came from stress.

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Andy Serkis once again delivers a great performance as Caesar. Caesar has come full circle as he is able to speak in full sentences and is much more human than any other ape. It is a nuanced performance as this is Caesar at his angriest and yet Caesar at his most compassionate. There should definitely be talks about some sort of Academy Award talk about Andy Serkis and what he is able to do. He has delivered one of the best performances in years. Woody Harrelson is The Colonel who is more nuanced than what you would expect from his type of character. Not really having the biggest role despite being the main villain, Harrelson is able to make the most out of his screen time. You understand where he’s coming from but at the same time, you see how far his character has fallen. Steve Zahn plays another ape named Bad Ape, an escaped zoo ape. Other than Caesar, he is the one ape who is able to really communicate with speech. He brings the comedy relief that is needed in this movie but it is never distracting and much more natural. Amiah Miller plays Nova, a mute girl, who Caesar and his group take in. Without getting into too many spoilers, Nova does hint at something that was at the forefront at the 1960’s Planet of the Apes franchise. So if the series continues, and why wouldn’t it, it is easy to see where the films will go.

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Matt Reeves returns to the directing chair after directing the previous film, Dawn. Continuing on the same path with that film, Reeves has helped conclude probably one of the best trilogies in film. It can be considered to make an all out war movie with apes and humans. Instead, Reeves chooses to focus on the personalities at the end of the war. Despite most of the film taking place in the woods and other naturalistic areas, the film is beautiful to look at. There is a shot of Caesar and his fellow apes riding horseback on a beach to the sunset. One of the most beautiful shots in the movies. The apes look fantastic as well. Since Caesar has been the one consistent ape since Rise, he obviously looks the best. There are times when you forget that he is a computer generated character.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a highlight in a pretty dreadful summer 2017. It is not a shove your face in popcorn and turn your brain off type of movie. It is a thoughtful and introspective about war that just happens to involve talking apes and humans. All credit goes to everyone involved in creating this marvelous film. Who would have thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would lead to this? Certainly not me.

SCORE: 9.5/10