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40 / M / Straight / Single
His journal posts
Sep 5, 2012
Another flash. Brighter. Closer, now. The thunder came again,
stronger, but still soft and formless.
"Is that it?" I snorted. "Really?"
The third flash was mere miles away, bright and filling the sky
with a sheet of purple static that raced through the clouds above
me. The thunder rumbled and spat at me, threatening but failing
utterly to deliver. A small flurry of rain came across the field,
and moistened my face.
"Come, now!" I shouted. "You can do better than that!"
A fourth flash, a fifth, and then a sixth, erupted from the sky and
crashed down around me in the field. Thunder roared and challenged
me, and I bellowed back at it, the rain now whipping across my face
like a constant, wet lash. I had struck a nerve.
More bolts and sheets tore through the air, stretching out like
electric fingers in some enormous hand. It clenched and clawed at
me from on high, and each time the thunder crashed, I roared back
"What are you waiting for," I shouted. "DO IT!"
The lightning came running across the field toward me, striking in
a chain of blows that were so rapid, so many, that it was as though
they were one single snake of light and fury. I reached down to my
feet and pulled it free from the wet, clinging earth. I smiled, and
swung it with both hands, into the deadly assault.
Mjölnir rang out with the voice of the lightning itself, and as the
storm realized it had been trapped, I laughed, and my voice was as
This is what it meant, then, to be Thor.
Dec 23, 2010
It would be the ability to spontaneously generate musical numbers, complete with supporting cast and choreography.
SAFETY DANCE, that's why!
Sep 28, 2010
Based solely upon the fact that the man fights an enormous car-eating cobra made from the robotic bodies of his enemies, I must see this film:
Sep 21, 2010
That's a little weird, but okay...
Who are all these men from Europe, and why are they viewing my profile multiple times a day?
Aug 25, 2010
Aug 8, 2010
Retook the "WoW addiction test," since I haven't played the game in over a year...
And still came out 64% addicted. BAH! I think the test mistakes knowing about the game with playing the game. Just because I know the lingo doesn't mean I still play!
BAH, I say.
Jul 7, 2010
I'm wise to you, Train.
You want us to believe you're solid NorCal, but I'm wise to you. "Took the highway to The 1"? "Hella"? NO ONE from Northern California talks like that.
It's either The Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1.
And "Hella"? You're SoCal plants, and you know it.
FESS UP, TRAIN! FESS UP!
Jul 2, 2010
Hold on to your saddles, boys and girls! This is a long'un!
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone
reading this is familiar with the controversy surrounding the
casting and direction of the M. Night Shyamalan's latest film,
based on the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last
Airbender. The film has been the target of a massive
campaign of counter-marketing, accusations of racism in casting,
and all-around general badmouthing - quite a lot of which has come
from people who haven't even seen the film.
So, since I am never one to believe what the critics tell me, I decided to see the film. See what was going on. See what was happening.
I promised people an objective review when I got done watching the film, and I will hereby deliver. When I get done with that, I'll give you a bit of subjective review, as well. Sound fair?
I want to make a few things perfectly clear before I go further:
• I have seen all three seasons of the TV show within the last three weeks.
• My first viewing of the show was in those three weeks. The show is fresh in my mind and not clouded by the subjective curtain of nostalgia, as it is with some people who watched it last time it was rerun on the air.
• I have read literally dozens of essays about the controversy surrounding the casting of the film, including those by Dante Basco (voice of Zuko), Roger Ebert, and numerous other articulate folk.
• I find it more than a little ironic that the people who played Aang, Sokka, and Katara in the TV show were all Caucasian and no one batted an eye. Perhaps voice acting is truly the color blind theater that people keep referring to? Who can say.
Anyway. The objective review of the film.
- First - the acting.
There's no nice way to say this. The acting is wooden in a good many parts of the film. Nicola Peltz and Noah Ringer's lack of acting experience shows in their delivery of some very crucial lines and during many emotional scenes. I will say that Peltz does, at times sound like Mae Whitman's Katara from the show, and that Ringer's Aang, less frequently, does sound like Zach Tyler's rendition. Jackson Rathbone's the strongest of the Big Three characters in this film, and even he has some very strained scenes (Especially the climactic farewell with Princess Yue). Shaun Toub's role as Iroh was well cast, and although he lacks the overflowing warmth and general quirky nature of his animated counterpart. Cliff Curtis as Firelord Ozai is a stern, commanding presence, and I can't WAIT to see what he does with his Maori fighting skills in the second and third books of this series. In fact, on the strength of his acting alone, Curtis' Ozai is every bit the disciplined, power hungry Meiji-era Expansionist Warlord that the animated Ozai was shown to be. Whether or not he'll fall prey to the power-mad insanity that leads to his downfall has yet to be seen.
- Second - the characterizations.
I want to separate this from the acting because the characterizations come down to a mixture of Item 1 (Acting) and Item 3 (Pacing). I think it deserves a section all to itself because a good deal of what drew people to the TV show was the characterizations - the integration of the characters with their surroundings and their culture.
Characterizations were for the most part good. Aang's overflowing mirth and carefree, spirited Air nature were greatly subdued at times in the movie, and that came across as odd. Aang would go from laughing and mirthful (the Air Temple scene) to distant and cold within a few short moments. I can't help but wonder if this was supposed to reflect his frequent and sudden mood shifts in the show, but due to the pacing element, was carried out in a manner that was not the best.
Rathbone's Sokka was perhaps the most true to the show. Although his role as the comic relief was for the most part missing, his clearly protective, Big Brother style guardianship over Katara was evident, and in full force. Toub's Iroh comes across as protective and fatherly toward Zuko, but, as said above, lacking in a certain warmth that helped define the character. He is shown as being confident, and indeed, very powerful - but without the temperance of his ever present homilies and proverbs, he doesn't project the same sense of wise-beyond-his-appearance, nor does he come across as a particularly effective mentor for Zuko.
And speaking of Zuko - Dev Patel's Zuko switches between wooden and full-force in much the same way that Ringer's Aang does. At times, he is believably obsessed with regaining his Honor and the nonexistent love of a Father he's never been able to please, and at others, he is... simply chewing scenery. It isn't a matter of scenario or action driving these changes, either, apparently. In a scene with Commander Zhao (Who, no spoiler here, does not have an ambiguous death scene as he did in the show), who is pulling no punches in giving the exiled prince a serious dressing down, Patel is stiff and looks as though he's having his lines fed to him. In another scene, with a similar lack of overall action, his recounting to Aang (whom Zuko believes to be unconscious) about how his Father has always favored Princess Azula (Summer Bishil) comes across with a genuine emotion - the sensation of his shame and jealousy toward his sister come across in the quaver in his voice and the look on his face.
Supporting character characterizations were also very well done. Damon Gupton's Monk Gyatso is every bit the wise-but-filled-with-the-joy-of-life mentor that he was shown to be in the TV series. Although he doesn't have Aang help him fling pies at the other Monks, it is clear that he cherishes his relationship with Aang, and his fatherly tendencies toward him extend to knowing all of Aang's tricks and even knowing when the kid is up to no good despite his (Gyatso's) eyes being closed for meditation. Keong Sim's role as the protective father in the Fire Nation's prison camp within the Earth Nation is extremely reminiscent of the same character from the series. It is clear from the looks on his face and the words that he uses to describe his situation that he does what he does (sacrificing his freedom) for his family and his people.
- Third - Pacing.
In much the same fashion as Peter Jackson had to do with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Shyamalan must do here. He has to take an entire season of a show and compress it down to under 2 hours. We can go on at length about how he could have made the movie longer, to better cope with the epic nature of the show, but that point is more or less moot at this juncture.
Pacing on the movie is, in a word, rushed. With Katara narrating, we have a definite sense of time passing, but that narration only serves to assist us with our sense of scale when Katara is directly involved in things. When Zhao goes to see Ozai, for instance, we find ourselves faltering with a perception of time-as-progress in the film due to the disassociation of events from the rest of the film. The montage of the Big Three moving through the Earth Kingdom villages and liberating them from the Fire Nation helps us with this a bit, but when the Ozai/Zhao scenes suddenly become interspersed with Fire Nation/Northern Water Tribe conflict, the question of "Is this a flashback or isn't it?" becomes very pronounced.
Again, the fact that the pacing has a very rushed feel to it is understandable, given the compression of story that had to go on, here, but I have to wonder if it would have hurt the editors of this film to take it up from 103 minutes (including credits, don't forget) to, say, 120 or even 150.
That said, the fact that the first 20 minutes of the film is nearly a shot-for-shot (albeit compressed) recap of the first four episodes of the series is good at helping re-establish the introduction mythos of the show for first-time-Airbender-watchers.
- Fourth - Dialogue.
A good portion of the dialogue in this film is either lifted from the show or is rephrased from the show. A good many of Sokka and Katara's lines are so close to their lines from the show, that at first I was hard pressed to notice the differences.
Some of the dialogue in the film is completely different, or radically alters the relationships of certain characters. Katara and Master Pakku, for instance, do not have their classic battle of words, wits, and water before she is accepted into the Northern Water Tribe's Combat Waterbending training. Pakku is a much more gentle, fatherly figure, due to the changes in his dialogue.
- Fifth - Martial Arts.
These are good, if a bit formalized for Bending. In the show, the Bending came as a second nature to the Martial Arts, and there are times within the movie that this occurs. For the most part, however, a Bender must compete a full set of motions, taking up several seconds, before even the slightest effect is seen. As far as breaks with the source material goes, this is one of the largest.
- Sixth - The Bending.
Just as Water Benders need sources of water to do their tricks, so too do Fire Benders need sources of fire, Earth Benders need sources of Earth, and Air Benders... yeah.
In effect, this actually makes the Bending in the movie more consistent than in the show. In the show, only the Water Benders were ever truly out of their element, so to speak, when it came to ways to shut them down. Take Katara away from water anywhere in the first two seasons, and she was done for, yet Zuko could create fire from nothing, and Aang and Toph were literally always surrounded by their elements.
Also the particle effects in this film are amazing. Okay, that's subjective, but I had to throw that in there because it reflects directly on the Bending.
- Seventh - The World.
The world is, despite the rumors you may have heard, remarkably faithful to the show. Everything from the Fire Nation machines to the Earth Nation's architectural preferences to the Water Tribe predilection for the color blue is faithfully reproduced. Chinese characters are literally everywhere there is writing, and by and large the costumes almost completely match their television counterparts. We haven't seen the cities of Omashu or Ba Sing Se, yet, but given the clearly Imperial Japanese influence on the Fire Nation's method of dress, I would be unsurprised if both of those cities had a distinctly Imperial Chinese flavor to them. The Air Temples look almost precisely like they did in the show, right down to the crumbling towers and wide courtyards.
The animal life is another aspect of the show that makes it reasonably intact into the movie. Appa looks like and behaves like Appa. Momo, as well, looks like Momo. He also attempts to eat the Moon Fish, but then again, he eats anything slower than he is. Because he's Momo.
Sadly, there are no Platypus Bear sightings. Or Badger Moles. Yet.
It's worth pointing out at this time that the ethnic diversity of each nation is made very clear for those who have eyes to see it (IE - if you're not watching the Big Three all the time). Among the Southern Water Tribe, the bulk of the people are clearly Northern-Asiatic/Inuit, with a smattering of Eastern-Asiatic and Caucasian mixed in. The Fire Nation would appear to be predominately Southern-Asiatic/Indian, with a good deal of Southern Pacific Island, and others in increasingly smaller proportions. The Earth Nation is very predominately Central-to-Eastern Asiatic (with a definite Ethnic Chinese appearance predominating), with a clear inclusion of Northern and Middle African and no visible Caucasians. The Air Nomads are depicted via flashbacks as possessing pretty much every skin color available, no doubt reflecting their life-loving and open-hearted natures. Only the Northern Water Tribe has anything more than a handful of Caucasians, and upon reflection, it was no doubt the intent of the casting and production directors to indicate that the reason that Sokka and Katara are so clearly Caucasoid is because their Grandmother is from the Northern Tribe. So, just a (subjective) piece of connection on my part:
IF the Northern Tribe is Caucasian (IE - Norse/Northern Europe/Eurasia) AND Grandma is from the Northern Tribe, THEN her offspring and descendants would show those traits. THEREFORE, Sokka and Katara are Caucasian in a tribe almost completely otherwise full of Inuits.
Just a bit of a logical exercise, there. I have no idea if it was intentional or not.
- Eighth - The Conclusion.
Overall, the movie was not nearly as bad as many people want it to be. Was it stunning and brilliant and life changing? No. Absolutely not. Then again, I watched all three seasons of the show in just a couple of weeks, and my opinion on that is the same. Objectively, the film has several flaws and omissions that make it tricky for people to watch. It doesn't ever drag in any place, but the pacing is fast and at times hard to follow. The acting is wooden, and the dialogue falls short in many places. The visuals are amazing, the martial arts are great, and the Bending really picks up toward the end, going from "Oh, look, Katara is drenching Sokka again" to "Holy crap, Aang just encased that dude in ice spears! While punching another dude with an ice fist! And leaping twenty feet!" Take from that what you will.
So, there's the Objective stuff.
Time for the Subjective.
Firstly, let's get the elephant out of the way. The ethnic issue in casting.
I want to pause for a second and remind everyone that the concept of "races" of Humanity was invented by a rich white man who wanted to separate us by our skin colors and our ethnic backgrounds to categorize us and attempt to enforce the idea that our outward differences somehow made one type of Human better, intrinsically, than all the others. Before someone makes the claim that I am of mixed European and Native American (mostly European, granted) descent and therefore automatically suffer from White Male Privilege in everything I do, I will point out that I was raised in a poor, multi-ethnic neighborhood, where skin color didn't matter as much as your ability to help the people who lived next door to you. I have cousins all over the world, of different skin tones, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and nationalities.
I abhor the word "race" as applied to a person or a people. For this reason, I will use the term "ethnicity" where you might use "race." Trust me, while I might use it as a corrective to piss people off sometimes, I am not doing so here. There is a Human Race. It is composed of many ethnic groups. My review will reflect that.
I presented above what I hope was going through the casting directors mind about the whole Sokka and Katara thing. "If we make the entire Northern Tribe Caucasian with a smattering of other ethnic types, and Grandma's an old white woman, then Sokka and Katara can be palefaces, too!"
i really hope that was what they had planned all along. I do.
Because if not... well... they suck.
The composition of the Southern Water Tribe is visibly, overwhelmingly Asiatic/Inuit. The members of the tribe come out in great numbers when the Fire Nation invades looking for Aang, and there is nary a pale face or round eye to be seen among them. There are a few, just as there are a few with notably ethnic Indian features. But the most of them are Inuit or close to it. To see Katara and Sokka and Grandma standing out among them, paler than I am, is completely incongruous and completely noticeable to me, and many others.
Aang's casting decision still baffles me, especially given the illustrated-through-flashbacks preponderance of Asian ethnics in the Air Nomads. I don't get it. I really, really don't.
Beyond that, well...
The ethnic makeup of the Fire Nation is not "a bunch of Brown People with machines and red sashes" as someone I know put it. The Fire Nation is displayed as, reiterating from above, mostly Asian/Ethnic Indian, along with a good deal of Southeast Asiatic. If anything, the casting choices for everyone in the Fire Nation that we actually interact with are extremely consistent and present the feeling of a Majority within their nation.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it: Even though the casting of Sokka, Katara, and Aang does bother me the actual appearance of Caucasians throughout this movie are as a minority in 3/4 of the world as presented. Seriously. Until you get to the Northern Water Tribe, the world is decidedly lacking in pink.
Do I think that Aang, Katara and Sokka could have been cast just as well with ethnic Asian actors? Yes, I do. And I do not feel that the best actors for the job were cast, especially in the case of Katara.
Getting back to the pacing. Good god, Shyamalan, what were you THINKING? The first 20 minutes of the film is a great way of using pacing and compression-of-time in regards to the show, and gets people on track.
Then, you just sort of... kludge it, and use Basil Exposition-style elders to present elements of the story that should be shown, not told. You violate one of the most basic, fundamental rules of storytelling and hand us our explanations on a silver platter. I know you were crunched for time, but honestly, Grandma and Pakku and Iroh have expository scenes in this movie that the drama teachers at my old High School would fail a student for performing.
Further, by pacing things this way, you remove some of the critical emotional development between Aang and Katara, and Katara and Sokka. Where is the budding romantic tension between the Boy-Who-Would-Be-Savior and his raven-tressed best-friend-and-mentor? Where is the childish antagonism between siblings that turns into a deep and enduring love and respect? In the show, by the end of Book 1, Aang and Katara had begun to recognize their feelings for one another, and Katara and Sokka had had more than one run in with a profound realization that the children they once saw one another as were simply not there any more.
And what the hell is up with that constant reiteration by Aang that the "Avatar can't have a family"?
And yes, the name pronunciation REALLY got to me.
His name is Aang. Say it with me - Ayyng.
The other one's name is Sokka. Pronounce it, now - Sockah.
It's not Ahng. It's not Sohka. Aang. Sokka.
Overall, I have to say, I didn't hate this movie, like so many people wanted me to. Did I like it? I'm not sure. I liked parts of it. I disliked other parts. I thought the visuals were fantastic, and that overall the feel of the film was very true to the original. I also understand that the creators of the series were happy - let me reiterate that - were happy with Shyamalan's job, so I think that's worth noting.
I've had a sort of love-hate relationship with Shyamalan since Signs. I loved Unbreakable. I was pretty impressed with The Sixth Sense. The Village did nothing for me, and Signs...
Signs was really, really bad.
I couldn't bring myself to watch The Happening, because the previews did not grab me. At all. Ever.
Same with Lady In The Water.
Would I recommend someone go see this movie?
Actually, yeah, I would. I think that a lot of people who are bitching about this film are only doing so because their Super Special Awesome Secret Love Thing is no longer their Super Special Awesome Secret Love Thing. It's like when Anime went mainstream and dubbing became good and all those ravening fanboy subtitle pirates started screaming about the end of the world and the coming of the Great Beast, really. Or when the Tolkein Fanatics started smearing ashes on their foreheads because Tom Bombadil, who really adds nothing to the stories, was being cut from the films.
Do I think that Hollywood casting directors and agencies need to get their heads out of their asses and start casting non-Caucasians for non-Caucasian roles? Yes, yes I do. Do I think it was a mistake to cast Aang, Katara, and Sokka as they were cast? Yes, but honestly it's mostly because they are simply not the right actors for the job in so many respects.
I was telling folks tonight after the movie that this one...
This one ALMOST makes up for Signs.
It's not THAT bad. It's not an Earth Shattering Kaboom. But it's not THAT bad.
Jun 16, 2010
Just like Thunderbirds!
But... you know. With no Gerry Anderson. And no explosions.
Well, ok. A few explosions. Very minor. Almost imperceptible.
Anyway! New profile updated and rockin' the house. Let's party!
Mar 2, 2010
Decided to put my Tony Stark picture up. Let's see how many people think that's actually alcohol in the tumbler instead of tea... ;)
We're having the memorial for Starjack's mom this coming weekend. Not something that can be put off for long, and has to be done. I'm not looking forward to it, I'll be honest, but I will be there and I will give him my support and remember my "second mom" fondly.
I want to have a costume party. What theme should I use, I wonder? The "No Theme" theme seems to be one that not a lot of people do, lately. Hmm. We shall see!
Profile update still coming. Just a matter of getting the edits done and where I want them before I put them together.
Life is interesting and full of surprises. What next? Who can say!