What I Watched, Do Not Follow Me Into Hell: Suicide Squad

Just the worst. I knew going in this was bad, but it's jesus died for the sins of the filmmakers bad. Zero acting, zero script, mediocre CGI that could've been better done with a smoke sprayer and some cel art like Ghostbusters instead. There's shots of the infected building that look just like 1984's better movie.

I've never been more bored by Will Smith; Deadshot's an assassin with no remorse, but here he's daddy of the year. Boomerang keeps tucking a pink unicorn toy into his coat for no sane reason (actual Bronies just get tattoos and jerk it to pony porn, you know?), and barely does anything with his boomerangs or other gadgets. Croc's a gangsta stereotype, and just a normal-sized guy in latex, not a giant half-crocodile mutant who can literally bite a man's head off. Katana is a terrible one-note character in the comics, apparently, but here she's not even that. The rest of the squad are just boring. I like how they didn't even bother to give the disposable example villain any backstory or personality.

The "Hey Vern! It's Ernest!"-looking soldier boss is somehow allowed to sleep with an unstable metahuman whose heart they keep in a suitcase to stop from going on rampages. Amanda Waller is too cartoonishly evil to be in a cartoon, let alone this, you wouldn't trust someone like that with a squad of super-villains, you'd lock her up with them! You tell a room full of professional military that you're operating magic super-villains, but it's OK because the handler is porking her, and they won't thank you for your results. Everyone else normal and nameless dies, and there's zero empathy shown for them or the tens of thousands of people killed by the plot.

The fight scenes are trash. Mobs of black-faced unarmed "monsters" charge into gunfire, like the English murdering the Fuzzy-Wuzzy in Kipling's poem. If you're a reawakened ancient god, and you're building an army, I can see not realizing the value of firearms and modern tactics, but why aren't they armed with swords, spears, bows, slings? Nope, they're literally there to be targets. They rush up, grapple, die. At one point, some of the converted soldiers manage to shoot at the squad, with no cover, and they get annihilated by shitty CGI fire.

The boss fight scene is very directly ripped off from Ghostbusters, with Enchantress playing the part of Gozer, and then gets resolved by her being incredibly stupid, multiple times. You know, it's great that the villains can't hear the squad screaming instructions about "BOMB" across the room, or the surprise of the BOMB might not work. The magic sword that actually hurt you? Just leave it laying around, I'm sure that won't come back up.

This is a version where most of Jared Leto's scenes got cut out; I can't imagine spending more screen time with the loathesome creep who happens to play the Joker so badly. He slurs everything he says like he's got a mouthful of puddin'. He apparently really got into method-acting the Joker on set, which is not how you fucking behave if you're a human being. As I've long noted, the only good thing Jared Leto's ever done was get his head chopped off in American Psycho.

The one bright point to the entire film was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, who does in fact kill it every chance she gets. "We're bad guys, it's what we do!" She's not just a stripper-with-a-bat, but the only one with any personality, or awareness of what being a super-villain means. Margot did most of her own stunts, and trained hard for it, and it shows. Except where she didn't get to do a stunt, and then it's very obvious, because the crew on this were absolutely incompetent.

OK, now I'm ready to watch Birds of Prey and see her in something good, right?

★½☆☆☆ — the ½ is for Margot.

What I'm Watching: Code 8

Code 8 (2019): Inexplicably, 4% of people have "powers": Brawn, Pyro, Cryo, Electric, Telekinetic, Telepath, Healer. You can make a pretty balanced City of Heroes party. But there's no costumed superheroes or supervillains, instead they do construction work, or are just petty criminals. So now the muggles have outlawed powers, and use "Guardians" (shitty human-sized robot Sentinels). I don't buy the premise, but it's no dumber than any other superpowered show, and is far less preachy about it than most.

Unfortunately, it's just a formulaic drug crime drama, Training Day for super-powered gangsters. There's a couple of good powered fights, one really amusing Electric kill, otherwise it barely needs the powers, just drugs. It feels like a failed TV pilot; they actually made a 10-minute short demo movie, that after 3 years of production work got them to this, but it still doesn't go anywhere.

As with most modern films, entirely too much is shot with cyan/orange filters so there's no other colors in deeply dark rooms.

Baby Henry Rollins (Robbie Amell) (character has a name but I don't care) is a stay-at-home good boy who tries to get normal jobs, not use his probably high-level Electric powers like his dead hoodlum father, his mother's sick and losing control of her Cryo powers.

So after a little humiliation day in and out being treated like an illegal immigrant worker, he takes up a life of crime, just to sock it away in his sock drawer, we never get to see Baby Henry Rollins go on a bender, he never has fun, he's just focused on his mom. I really don't like him, he's a sterile plastic homunculus like a Ken doll.

Imitation Walter Goggins (Stephen Amell, cousin to Baby Henry Rollins) is more fun, he's a good ol' boy gangbanger, takes care of his crew. But again we don't see much of his life or anything about him. The other two crew, one mute and one a snickering girl pyro assassin, are even more cyphers.

Their crime boss Imitation Riff Raff (Greg Bryk) is obviously evil and treacherous, keeps a girl Nia around for her power… and for once, she calls out Baby Henry Rollins "You just want me for my power", instead of treating him like a good guy for helping/using her.

Half-Bacon/Korean Cop (Sung Kang) does OK, and there's like 2 minutes of him getting any personality before he resumes reading the cop lines. There's no resolution to either his personal problems or his assertion he's going to bring in Baby Henry Rollins.

I don't like the message. Nothing really changes, the world just gets shittier and shittier, corrupt government, corporations, and mobsters get what they want, and you should just accept death and misery.

Fuck that. These people should rise up and slaughter the muggles in power, and anyone else who gets in the way, make them know fear, and pain, and then die. That'd be a good ending. That's basically the videogame Infamous, which had a lot more character development and personality than this film.

★★★☆☆

What I'm Watching: Harley Quinn

HoboMax delivers a mostly-adult-oriented cartoon about recently-separted-from-Mistah-J Harlequinn/Harley Quinn.

Voice-actor is Kaley Cuoco (the annoying chick from the more annoying Big Bang Laugh Track Show), who is better than I expected, but doesn't really hit the shrill Joisey girl accent I expect; Poison Ivy, her slightly but not too overtly lesbian (well, you'd think, but they do throw in lines about Kite Man) roommate is the surprisingly competent Lake Bell (who has been acting for 20 years but her IMDB page is just a list of trash roles; did you see Surface? Be glad if you didn't.); Alan Tudyk does the Joker, which he's not really fit for, I miss Mark Hammill as the Joker, but he also does Clayface, which really fits his over-the-top thespian tone just like Mr Nobody in Doom Patrol.

"You helped me. I can be around people now. You know, I mean, I hate it, but I can do it without vomiting."

Some of it's well-written, there's a lot of snarky lines, and the plots and tone are similar to the '90s Tick cartoons. But I do find it odd and annoying that A) There's 3 main writers, all of them dudes, B) The art is very male-gazey/Striperella, which hey, I like cartoon porn as much as anyone but it's not a good way to build Harley up as a self-respecting villain. In fact, of the 30 names listed for writing on all 15 episodes, 7 are women, all with 4 eps or less to their names. And it shows over and over again. When they try to "talk about women", it's slightly better than the Rick & Morty Bechdel Test gag, but only very slightly.

"This guy's such a douche."
"I'm sorry, but none of the charming supervillains with great personalities were holding seminars today."

Occasionally manages some social commentary, but at the same time exactly reinforces the stereotypes it's gossiping about.

"I had to make my own [crew] by believing in stupid little things like Mark. No offense, Mark."

SIGH. The curse of the generic name.

Well, I'm rarely bored by it, and I do laugh.

★★★½☆

What I'm Watching: Doom Patrol

So back in 1989, Grant Morrison took over Doom Patrol, which had been around in various forms since 1963, the original genius in a wheelchair, deranged freak "students", fighting weird enemies and society, months before the X-Men. Except instead of having white kids (and later token Storm & Jubilee) stand in for racism with a trite ending every time; Doom Patrol had broken people stand up for themselves, insane, crippled, or just weird as they are. Grant took a weird thing and made it weirder, with increasingly postmodern, deranged plots and villains that just make no sense, cut-up stories and art. Great comic, everyone should read it. Don't bother with anything Grant didn't write.

The show on HoboMax does a decent job of making a core Doom Patrol team: Larry/Negative Being (but not gender-changed Rebis yet?), Cliff/Robotman (voice-acted by Brendan Fraser), Jane/Crazy Jane, Rita/Elasti-Girl, Niles/Chief, and Vic/Cyborg. Larry's easy, a body-wrap of gauze and a shitty ball lightning effect; he whines about his wife and boyfriend a lot, nobody cares. Cliff has a fairly good whole-body suit, and we see a few flashbacks to frumpy Fraser when he had a body. Jane gets a bunch of additional voice actresses for the alternates, her powers are mostly shitty jump-cut teleports and such, the only impressive power is speaking words into steel floating in the air, which become knives. Rita's a pretty good special effect, instead of growing and stretching, she just turns into The Blob but made of fat tissue, oozes into or over everything, and her character trying to fight what a horrible thing she is, is well-portrayed.

Chief, I haven't seen a lot of yet, he's a pompous, secret-filled, treacherous jackass who'll do anything to "put things right" but also to work on his Human experiments; it's Timothy Dalton, so he may be able to pull it off. Mr Nobody, the main villain, is Alan Tudyk, and he gets some CGI erasure to be half-there, which is fine, he mostly just chews scenery and taunts people, nothing actually happens.

The problem here is Vic, fucking Cyborg. In the old Teen Titans comics, Cyborg was the joyless stick-up-his-ass bureaucrat part of the team, but he was opposed by the far more competent Robin/Nightwing, and Beast Boy and every other crazy vigilante to shout him down. Put in with the Doom Patrol, they're no more respectful of Vic the Dick, but he's the least crazy and so kind of runs roughshod over them. Someone please dump him in a recycling bin. Every scene Vic is in is just a drag.

I'm kind of impressed they mostly stuck with '80s-style practical effects and lowest of low-budget surface CGI/painting on the film effects. There's nothing here they couldn't have done back in the '80s.

Speaking of, there's a… setting trick. So, Doom Patrol is deeply tied up in WWII mad scientists, and it's written, set in the '80s. But this show is set in the present. They just skip 30 years, assert that everyone stayed in the mansion and didn't age. I don't know if this will ever be addressed for how dumb it is, but whatever, it lets them have the original crew & villains somehow in 2020. Don't think about it too hard, I guess.

The plots are gibberish. There's a hole in the ground that eats a lame town, and then they travel into a donkey, in order to spit the town back out. They travel to Paraguay and watch a puppet show, put on by living puppets. They're certainly trying to be as weird as Doom Patrol, it's fairly pointless so far, but I'm amused for the most part. It could use some editing to get the pacing up (easy: Just delete every scene Vic is in), these 44-minute episodes feel 2 hours long.

★★★½☆

What I'm Watching: Mothra vs Godzilla, end of Watchmen, cartoons

  • Mothra vs Godzilla (1964): Environmental destruction, in this case draining wetlands to make an industrial zone, exposes radioactive material. An egg floats near land, and is brought ashore. The twin fairies and Mothra herself show up asking "please give our egg back", but a greedy land developer, backed by even greedier billionaire, puts the egg at the center of a theme park. None of this can end well.

    I'm fairly displeased by the green screen/rear projection tricks in this one. It was early days for color, but it wasn't a technology ready for this time.

    The reporter and sidekick cameragirl are fine, kind of a Howard Hawks-like situation, and they're not stupid, and not unreasonably competent; there's only so much the press can do against a developer who doesn't care. Eggman, the reporter who loves eggs, would be annoying comic relief except he's not onscreen all that long.

    There's a visit and multiple visions of the natives of Infant Island, who've been nuked and struggle to survive in a barren wasteland. They're implausible primitive, but Japan has a long imperialist history of its own to deal with here. The fairies sing a song every scene they're in, which is somewhere between charming, mystical, and "oh shit I hate musicals".

    The monsters appear after half an hour. Godzilla as the walking force of destruction, Mothra as the ancient mother ready to protect her egg, and sacrifice to help the Japanese who have done her people so much wrong, and later the gross Mothra babies as the cycle of life. Their squeaking really gets on my nerves.

    The military/JSDF is portrayed unusually competent here. In most Godzilla movies, they are baffled, they try to fight, and die, and are utterly pointless. But this time they have competent plans, and are not doing too bad. They can't win but they can fight Godzilla to a standstill while evacuations take place.

    The ending isn't reasonable. 10 children and a teacher vs thousands dying on the mainland is a small price to pay. Godzilla hates squeaky little bugs like the Mothra larva, but they aren't actually harming it, and their secret power takes forever, during which time Big G should nuke them into oblivion. Hmn, in 1968, Star Trek had the Tholian Web episode, which has some similarities.

    ★★★½☆

  • Watchmen: Finished up. Happily this isn't getting a second season. Big time spoilers, but don't worry about it, you're not missing anything by keeping it secret.

    In the comics, Dr Manhattan's first action as a superhuman was to reassemble himself from nothing, after disintegration. When Ozymandias… inconveniences… him, he pulls himself back together in very little time. So it's utterly ludicrous that the whole plot of the series was to disassemble Manhattan again, and then "absorb" his "powers". His power is that his nervous system constantly reassembles matter to stay existing, a magic booster shot of Manhattan won't make someone else into a superhuman; maybe disassembling them in the right conditions would.

    So the hillbilly Senator, and Lady Trieu's entire plan, and the egg scene at the end, are just nonsense.

    Adrian's escape plan is dumb but amusingly portrayed, Jeremy Irons does occasionally wake up and play Ozymandias instead of just sleep-walking across the set in some tired English country drama. That's about the only part of this entire 9 episodes of bullshit that I enjoyed.

    Later, Adrian using frozen baby squid as an orbital Project Thor system is fun, but the actual effects would be rather more catastrophic, even with frozen organics from high atmosphere instead of tungsten rods from orbit, they're probably impacting at 3 km/s, ~1 Rick (Robinson, not Sanchez) each, so equivalent to 0.25 kg of TNT per squid, and there's thousands of squid. Holding a box over your head won't help. The area impacted would look like a giant cheese-grater had run across it to a few meters depth. And this is why we shouldn't let psychopaths have teleporters or spaceships!

    Fake delayed tension is all through this shitshow, but most notably in the minutes of "run!" "what?" "take shelter!" "who is this?" "you're gonna die!" "uh..." vamping when they would clearly already be dead. Again, I hate Damon Lindelof and hope he gets cancer of the fingers and tongue so the world will not again be plagued by his writing.

    Angela Abar (Regina King) is OK, decent action-hero chick, but she plays a detective very poorly; just hits her marks and says lines she clearly doesn't believe. As Laurie/Silk Spectre, I preferred the dumb but very fit Laurie (Malin Akerman) from the Zak Snyder Watchmen to this one (Jean Smart) who couldn't do a pushup let alone plausibly be an aging costumed vigilante G-woman.

    Hillbilly conspiracy theory cop Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) is amusing, maybe not good, but funny. Very ancient Louis Gossett, Jr as Grampa Will is kind of sad, I didn't even recognize him, but I can't hate on Lou even if the role is badly written. Everyone else is a cypher or a walking meatstick.

    They couldn't even get Robert Redford to do a cameo as himself. Incompetent Lindelof wrote him a letter, and he wouldn't even respond.

    ★½☆☆☆ — I appreciate Irons' Adrian enough to not completely savage this, but don't watch it.

  • Adventure Time, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Rick & Morty, etc.: There's a lot of amusing cartoons for both kids and drunk/stoned adults on here.

What I'm Watching: Rodan, more Watchmen

  • Rodan (1956): A mining company has unexplained flooding, and miners die cut up. Suspicion falls on Goro the brawler… Engineer Sageru is sure he's not guilty, and reassures Goro's sister Kiyu—ah, Honda Ishiro's romances. Every film needs a pretty boy & girl, even if all they say to each other are their names.

It only takes 18 minutes to show the first larval monster, a record for early kaiju films. The giant mob of mine security with their poking sticks and little revolvers are ineffectual as always, but why do they have so many?

The lighting is pretty bad. It captures the darkness of the mines, but even outdoors is very dim to hide details of the larva puppet. The rear projection scenes are not as bad as previous efforts, but still obvious. The only place where lighting is good are the office & hospital sets.

Everyone at the mine and JSDF is competent, and respects science experts, unlike the Godzilla vs Mothra flick. But the scientist then blurts out some unsupported bullshit about the hydrogen bomb moving tectonic plates. The civilians are really quite dumb and deserve their deaths. Then there's an endlessly long nothing happens act.

Baby Rodan is so cute and chubby it's amazing. I've only ever seen it as a giant lean flying death, and of course I adore Pteranodon. The flying model and suit are excellent, and Rodan's wave of destruction is lovely, though they didn't find a traditional Japanese castle to destroy this time. It's a shame it's embedded in a pointless movie.

However, the tank models are preposterous, and the JSDF jingoism is eyeroll bad, lots of sound and fury inflicting no harm on Rodan, but everyone's very proud, it's a very military-focused adventure at this point. None of Godzilla's horror at war, this treats Rodan like, say, Korea, a contemporary problem to be solved by bombing the shit out of it. The end is literally 10 minutes of rockets being shot into a mountain while nothing else happens, and two demoralized Rodans die like Romeo & Juliet. Humans are the monsters.

★★½☆☆ If it wasn't for my absolute weakness for Pteranodon and Pterodactyl, this would be a spectacularly bad movie. As it is, it's merely bad.

  • Watchmen: So eventually the show tells us where Dr Manhattan is, and the nature of Ozymandias' prison, and the origin story of Sister Night. Still no answers as to why, in fact it deliberately has the plot eat its own tail, stupid people causing the problems stupid people investigate. Nothing happens at great length. Interesting ideas like the memory pills are brought up, used in a stupid way, then discarded. The whole thing is a tale told by an idiot. Which, again, Damon Lindelof, I knew it'd be incoherent nonsense made up on the spot, like talking to a toddler. But I don't understand how this fool gets anything this nonsensical and badly-written produced. Got a couple more eps to go and then I can wash my hands of this shitshow.

What I'm Watching: HoboMax

  • Hey, Beastmaster's On (seriously it was on a lot in the afternoons)
  • Hobotime (when you couldn't decide between HBO or Showtime)
  • Skinemax (ah, scrambled cable porn; to this day, static makes me horny (no not really (well, kinda)))

I was ignoring the HBO "Max" launch, but Rolling Stone ran basically an ad/listicle of great movies on it, and so I've given it another shot. Site organization is kind of terrible, it's "Netflix but with more hubs" so you have to poke around all over to see what movies they have. But they do have more older A-list movies, less TV shows.

Currently building up a giant queue by looking at the A-Z list, and then I'll work thru it, because finding anything on this site is a nightmare.

So far, quite pleased by the selection. It's not every movie; there's weird gaps and missing prequels or sequels (they have Yojimbo, but not Sanjuro?! Well, I have that on DVD, but the principle of the thing!), but it's like a pretty good video store. Not as good as mine back in the day, let alone Scarecrow Video, but you can find something besides Navy Seals.

  • Watchmen (2019 series): 3 eps in. Starts with the Tulsa Massacre and does not get more cheerful. Goes back more to the source comic, including the giant exploding squid, but has the consequences 35 years later. Rather implausibly has President Robert Redford, who would be 80+ at this time; I'm actually surprised he's still alive in reality. The masked cops are scum, the KKK using Rorschach as a model sucks (atheist anarchist vigilante, not a racist), the FBI's lead agent is a traitorous bitch, Adrian is a murderous (well, sorta) loonie. Nobody is worth saving. Protagonist cop and old man are… interesting, I guess. But I'm not sure I care. Whole thing's written by Damon Lindelof, who pisses me off with almost everything he writes and especially the dumb ending of Lost, so no shock there. Kind of a hate-watch, but I'll likely finish it.

  • Godzilla (1954): Aside from the B&W subtitles being baked in, instead of letting me choose yellow on black as I prefer, and calling it "Godzilla" instead of "Gojira", a perfectly adequate presentation. As always I sympathize entirely with the monster, Godzilla's been wronged and the Humans should be crushed under its feet. Serizawa is the real monster. It's amusing to compare this with Shin Godzilla; in the '50s, occupied Japan, the security board & Parliament are panicked, but competent at hearing advice and acting on it; in the 2010s, autonomous Japan, the government is completely paralyzed by bureaucracy, the "experts" are only used for PR and any science must be accomplished on the side, until things get close to an extinction event. ★★★★½

What I'm Watching: Undercover, L4yer Cake, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Undercover S1: A Belgian/Dutch crime drama, based very loosely on a real case, with Anna Drijver as a Dutch woman cop (and rather sexy when she cleans up, or if you like dirty biker chicks), and Tom Waes as a Belgian asshole man cop, setting up an undercover observation of a drug kingpin. Except the drugs are mostly ecstasy, the action is mostly in a campground trailer park, and everyone is just pathetic and low-rent. It's barely above reality TV at times, the filmmaking is not excellent, and the plot is glacially slow. The tension between these cops who have to pretend to be a couple, and the shitty crime boss, his pathetic wife, and ever-changing roster of idiot henchmen, is much better than you'd expect. Watch it in the original Dutch/Flemish. Don't expect a fast burner, this is one to watch a bit, go on with your life, watch a bit more…

★★★½☆


L4yer Cake: Great crime book, if a little heavy on the "oo eck 'e're so 'ery English wot wot" shit. Movie's about 50% of the book, plus 25% new shit out of the writer's ass, not always seamless. Movie ending is bullshit—in the book the same asshole shoots him but he lives and then delivers his "if you knew my name" line.

Never said in the book or movie, but his name is Bond, James Bond. Thus XXXX and the fake posing as Bond, sudden development of Navy Seals level murder skills, and fucking another man's wife (which is rarely brought up in the Bond movies, but in the books it's a common theme, also common to Ian Fleming himself—adultery made philandering without consequences easier for him/them).

I don't especially like Daniel Craig as XXXX or Bond, but if you're gonna do both, he barely passes. Book XXXX is just short of 30, Craig was 36 at the time, but looked 40+, a dried-up ballsack face already. Bloated tub of lard Colm Meany will always and only be sad, pathetic Transporter Chief O'Brien to me; he just looks constipated and confused when he's trying to be menacing, or really all the time. George Harris as Mortimer is too pleasant much of the time to be the borderline personality of the book; it's legitimately shocking when he does snap. The girl, Sienna Miller (named for the shittiest color crayon), is about a 7 or 7.5, not the perfect femme fatale of the book; tho the English have a lower scale of hotness so she's probably as good as they've ever seen; and she has few scenes to even establish the adultery subplot.

Funniest moment of the show was the "Serbian" gangsters speaking Romanian; I couldn't tell everything they were saying with my half-assed Spanish and quarter-assed French, but all Romance languages are recognizable. The English filmmakers probably didn't know the difference; anywhere east of Germany is Poland, eh, limey?

★★★☆☆ — aggressively mediocre interpretation of better but not amazing source material.


Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse: So, up front: I don't especially like Spiders, or Men, or Spider-Men, and as noted in The Boys, I don't trust anyone with super-powers not to be a super-jerk. I grew up with the Electric Company Spider-Man, but by the '80s that motherfucking bug had his own live-action TV show, cartoon, cereal, toys, Japanese sentai show, and more, raking in $millions a year. Plus the police, military, and civilian applications of his web-shooter goop must be worth $billions. If he's married to MJ she's worth at least as much as an actress. The poor white boy from Queens act is offensive.

But I needed something light and dumb after the hash they made of L4yer Cake.

Miles Morales is certainly a more humble protagonist than '60s-era Peter Parker; less Hardy Boys and more Boyz n the Hood. But it's taken 20 minutes to get him bitten and plot to start. How are there not thousands or millions of Spider-People in a world where every radioactive spider produces the same powers? As usual in the movies and TV shows, with limited rights and limited creative people of their own, they only acknowledge the existence of Spidey's "rogues gallery", not any of the hundreds of other supers placed in New York in the comics.

I'm not a big fan of urban graffiti; it's mostly criminals marking territory they extort protection money from, or vandals damaging property they don't own. Buy a fucking canvas to paint on.

Mama Morales speaks like two lines of Spanish ever, then switches back to English for the honky audience. NYPD Cop Dad is the stern-but-fair bullshit they'd like to sell; I expect he's all Training Day on the streets.

Even in cartoons, Stan Lee got his cameo. But not Steve Ditko. They can't spare one fucking scene in this Russian-epic-length film for the man who created classic Spider-Man and drew the comic until Stan stiffed him on money (as he did to everyone)? There's a passing mention of him in the credits, which is sadly better than most do.

I did genuinely laugh at one joke: "Hey, maybe you guys can go around? OK, thanks, New York."

Spider-Gwen and Noir SM are good takes on the idea; I'm familiar with SG from the comics. Has-Been SM and Spider-Ham are awful, jokes carried way past their sell-by date. Old Aunt May with a baseball bat is good and strong, as fits a potential Herald of Galactus. Mary Jane as slightly frumpy Jessica Rabbit is weird, but she has little screen time, she's just a trophy for various Peters.

Kingpin's a perfect villain as always and chews the scenery less than in the Daredevil TV show. But for someone so obsessed with family, he isn't very understanding of others' familial conflicts. Still, he halfway saves this flick.

Doc Ock is interesting, but I don't see how the relationship with Aunt May can work after this. Prowler's given a surprisingly good background (but a very Huntress-like outfit with nipple patches). The other villains are just big mooks, zero personality.

There's no plot or conflict except "can Miles survive 3d6 random fight scenes and then push a button?" You will be shocked to learn the answer is yes, he pushes the button.

By 1 hour 20 minutes in, I'm ready for the end of the movie, but there's 40 minutes of this to go. Brevity is the soul of wit, but alas. This just drags out the "kid can't fight" part before the moment of heroism schtick. Then a very long neon Jackson Pollock screensaver with Doc Ock taking an improbable amount of abuse, instead of using a bruiser villain or fighting with the tentacles. All the villain fights get dumber and more punchy as the film progresses. The collider's said to be making a black hole, which means it has at least the mass of a planet, possibly a star; but happily magic dimension shit just reverses itself and there's no lasting apocalyptic results like a city vaporizing even if you do shut it down. Consequence-free adventuring.

"Anyone can wear the mask", moralizes (oh, "Morales", I get why he's so preachy now, "Miles" of it even) a kid who is faster and stronger than any athlete, can recover from almost any injury, swings by his arms from tiny spider strings, and can be invisible (and what man could be good with that power?!) and shoot lasers from his hands. You know, like a SPIDER. If a normal kid wears a SM mask and leaps off a building, they'd just die horribly.

★★☆☆☆ — massively overstayed its welcome, shitty final sequence, too many underdeveloped characters.

What I'm Watching: The Boys

So, The Boys comic by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson is my 3rd favorite comic of all time (right behind Transmetropolitan and The Invisibles ). It carries on in Garth's inimitable tradition of showing how rotten everything is from The Pro.

A band of CIA-funded wankers based in the scenic Flatiron building, led by appropriately-named psychopath Billy Butcher, recruits conspiracy freak and recently bereaved Simon Pegg, er, "Wee Hughie", an organized freak NCO Mother's Milk, and two insane killers, The Frenchman and The Female. They power Hughie up like they are, and go fuck up superheroes who deserve it.

Wee Hughie knows nothing about superheroes or comics, so he goes on a Heart of Darkness style voyage of discovery into deep dark shit. The comics are heavily about the nature of comics and the superheroes they "report" on; they're from an age when superhero movies were pretty crap and nobody cared. Stan Lee is The Legend, now a useless old man in a comics shop basement, but he knows shit. Vought-American is very clearly doing the same Nazi-science-for-America thing we did with rockets, but there's supes all over the world, and everyone (well, anyone in "the industry") knows how they're made. And the supes are all insane with power, as they would be. The Seven live in a flying citadel full of awesome tech and everyone's flunkies and whores, because of course they do.

The Boys comics cured me of superheroes as a serious genre, and they can cure you, too. I can enjoy one for a laugh now, like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy, but any serious preaching and I wonder who they're literally fucking to death. I know how they got that way.

But now we're in a more vapid, useless age, full of shitty superhero movies worth literally billions of dollars, comics conventions bigger than religious revivals, fucking jocks pretending they're superhero fans instead of nerds, bobbleheads, and social media. Especially social fucking media.

The Boys on Amazon Prime reflects this shittiest of all Human eras, the final death throes of the Anthropocene. It's not even terrible, just all the mediocrity of this decade shat into streaming.

So here, the Boys are vigilantes on the run; this reduces the number of sets enormously to just a few shitty warehouses and abandoned diners, no need for on-the-street shots of New York City, they can use shitty parts of Toronto instead, and boy do they. The Seven get an even worse downgrade, being in a mid-size skyscraper in a CGI "matte painting" (nobody paints them anymore) background, with only the Seven's conference room, one corridor, and a bathroom; we never see their lounges and bedrooms full of sluts, or the hangar for the plane Black Noir can't fly. Doesn't matter, you can't see anything because the cameras are permanently tinted dark orange/dark cyan. For shots with chipper superheroine Starlight, they go back to bright colors, because that's real subtle filmmaking.

Wee Hughie instead becomes a 6' tall Billy Joel-listening douchebag "l33t haxxor"/mom-and-pop electronics store guy (most implausible background of anyone: There are no mom-and-pop electronics stores anymore), who's madly into superheroes, especially A-Train. I think the vapid video producers thought this would provide "pathos", but it's just stupid. Lives at home with his Dad (actual Simon Pegg), not in the shittiest transient hotel in New York like Wee Hughie does. Does not rescue a gerbil. I suppose Richard Gere is tired of that story, but I never will be.

Billy Butcher is just a confused loser here. And short. No dog. Doesn't fuck. A couple references to Guinness and tea from other people, but he never brings it up. He's useless. I didn't like Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, either, he was more like Judge Mediocre Honky Cop on a Talking Dirt Bike in Generic Skyscraper "The Raid" Rip-Off, but that title was too long for them; in any case here he shows the same lack of menace, talent, or ability to enunciate; he mostly stands around while actors read their lines. Decent beard and trenchcoat; he's the only one who gets a trenchcoat in the show.

Mother's Milk gets some of the NCO personality, but he doesn't have his namesake's background, no powers, and still has a wife and a tiny daughter, not a junkie ex-wife and a teenage skank daughter; the point in the comic was he has all his shit together for everyone else, but his life's a disaster. No, here he's just good and professional. Whitewashed.

The Frenchman is… he's fine. Not quite enough insanity about France, but he's a violent, passionate lunatic anyway, and close enough that I won't complain.

The Female looks and works great, and the actress does a good job with the "behave like a mad dog" role, but in the comics she's independent, she's perfectly capable of taking jobs on her own and will if they don't have a supe for her to kill.

The supes are a mixed bag. Homelander came out OK; he has more of a plan this time, he's less overtly rapey, but on a scale of 1 to Genocidal Superman, he's pretty far up there.

Black Noir is more useful and less creepy silent stalker than the original; I doubt his backstory's been left intact. But he does nothing; I actually forgot he was there when I started writing this, "wait that's six, where's… OH!"

Starlight's great, she's as perky and stupid as possible, and seems like a decent girl-next-door in her sorta romantic scenes.

A-Train's great, an A-grade asshole murderer with no conscience; but he has a "reason" for being that out of control, which somewhat dampens it.

The Deep is changed from a probably-crazy black man in a diving helmet who can fly, to a white hormonally-bitchy rapist low-rent low-IQ Aquaman who can actually talk to fish (uh, including dolphins and lobsters… so he has general telepathy, he's just insane and only uses it with aquatic creatures?). He's useless and offensive to rapists, and they half write him off the team by the end. Every scene with him in it could be deleted and this would be a marginally less shit show.

Jack from Jupiter is replaced with "Translucent" the naked invisible man with diamond skin; it's such a stupid name that even the show tells him how stupid a name partially-transparent is for invisibility. I loathed Jack, so this is a good change, but then they just use it to have characters talk to empty air and an occasionally CGI shot of him fading in and out.

Queen Maeve gets hosed. From being the queen bitch of the Seven's station, with a harem of naked men, who literally cares about nothing except her next drink or fuck but can kill anything short of Homelander, to a mopey bi woman doing Xena cosplay, in therapy and AA, who's just kinda strong and tough. Just appalling writing, losing the whole point: What does absolute power do to someone that damaged?

James Stillwell ("The Man from Vought American") is replaced with Madelyn Stillwell (played by Elisabeth Shue, "Replacement Jennifer" from Back to the Future II-III; she's never the original). James is a cold, stoic, perfectly rational machine for optimizing profits and killing anything that gets in the way, the one mere Human the Homelander is wary of. Madelyn is a mommy-figure for sad broken little Homelander (and by extension all the Millennials who made incest porn so popular), and a doormat for Starlight (though if she wasn't a doormat, Starlight would have to act like she could plan and be sneaky… which she can't). Her arc is terrible, she's stupid and fallible, the writers are idiots. She's a goddamned catastrophe.

All the secondary stuff falls down bad. Popclaw goes from an active party girl (girl, maybe 18-20) to a middle-aged sad has-been kicked out of a team. She does have one of the more spectacular kills, but her story is garbage. A fat Doogie Hauser wanker not from the comics is introduced to provide exposition that shouldn't be provided. Tek-Knight is mentioned but never seen. The mad scientist just has a cinderblock room, probably filmed in Jeff Bezos' basement sex dungeon, not a silo and a nuke.

No other teams are seen or really mentioned; that ecosystem of D-grade teams feeding C-grade teams feeding B-grade teams feeding The Seven isn't touched on at all, when that's the pyramid scam behind the entire setting. In the show there's just a few villains planning everything, not an entire industry of scumbags using superpowers.

The Jesus freak event is sad, a tent show which cost them nothing to make and it shows. I can't imagine these cheap Amazon assholes making Herogasm, the annual party for supes, look good.

The politics show up and then vanish. In the comics, there's a pro-supes VP "Vic the Veep", like Ahnold Shwazzanagga crossed with Rain Main crossed with George W. Bush, with less IQ than any of them, and he's involved. Here, there's a governor and a senator seen at various times, we're told but not shown anything about a vote on military supes. Cheap and lazy and bad writing.

★½☆☆☆

I'm beyond disappointed. I had a real hard-on for this, but now I'm utterly flaccid. Occasional moments of characters doing something interesting interrupt an endless orange/cyan fog of nothing.

Shows have improved between seasons, superheroes especially. Sony's Powers (another good "superheroes are dicks" comic) adaptation on Playstation+ was unbelievably terrible in S1, decent in S2; Sharlto Copley as Diamond was ludicrous, but they wrote a good plot for him. Amazon's The Tick in S1 was the most depressed, mopey, unheroic, unfunny thing I have ever seen; S2 was less bad, though still inferior to the comics, the cartoon, or the first live-action series.

But for now, please go read the comics instead. They're fantastic.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Hell yeah. I grew up with some of my favorite comics being ROM Spaceknight, Nova, Rocket Raccoon, Adam Warlock (in Marvel Presents, I think?), and so on… the Marvel space series were so much better than their ground superheroes. While the films are a little trashy, they're fun trash, and the music was just awesome.

But then some Nazis doxxed Gunn and Disney was like "I'm shocked, shocked I say, to discover that the writer of Tromeo & Juliet makes dirty jokes!", but happily have seen sense since everyone involved wanted him back.

So here's the music again: