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Picoreview: Inhumans: not *as* bad as the reviews said. To further illuminate that comment, I also went to see Rough Night this week, and of the two, Inhumans is not the one I wanted to walk out of.

That said, you should not in any way mistake it for *good*.

I went because I was sort of horrifiedly fascinated to see just how bad it was, after all the scathing reviews. The result may be that my expectations were SO LOW that I could not actually be disappointed. Also, there were only four people in the entire Imax theatre (I was the only woman), so I sat in the back row and livetweeted the whole thing, which may have added considerably to my enjoyment of the whole thing, because, I mean, it was awful, but I genuinely had a good time.

The inhuman special effects are unforgiveably bad. Medusa’s hair is embarrassing and her costume is dreadful. Gorgon is wearing plush boots with hooves glued to the bottoms and they must have told him “just walk on your toes, it’ll be fine.” Lockjaw–okay, actually, Lockjaw’s teleportation looks pretty cool, so presumably that’s where they spent all the budget. Although it doesn’t look like an expensive effect.

The writing is *appalling*, especially in the first twenty minutes. I mean, my *God*, it’s bad. Iwan Rheon is not only saddled with truly awful lines throughout, but is also, I think, badly miscast as Maximus, which is saying something, because the writing is so terrible for everyone that it’d be pretty easy to feel that the entire show was badly miscast. But he really stood out. *None* of it is well-written, though. Somebody somewhere said “Inhumans should have been treated as a family drama like The Tudors, only with superpowers,” and that really is what they should have done and instead they…have done this awful stilted thing with a painfully tropey creepy charmless bad guy and…I mean, honestly, I don’t even know how they made it this bad.

Ken Leung, playing Karnak (whose name I never caught in the show, and whom I referred to as Tattooed Attitude), was trying really hard with really bad material. (So was Crystal’s hair. Crystal, played by Isabelle Cornish herself seemed…pretty Crystal-like, really. Not good, but I thought she had potential.) Serinda Swan’s Medusa was…*sigh* Yeah. Anson Mount managed to be utterly awful without having to say a word as Black Bolt, and then he got a little better and I thought perhaps he could pull it off with time and practice, and by the end he’d won me over and I was really enjoying him.

(As an aside, though, these people have *moronic* communications systems for a people with a silent king. I mean, Black Bolt ACTUALLY USES SIGN LANGUAGE in this film. Which is AWESOME, because silent king! Except…Medusa…is the only person…in the entire Inhumans family…who has bothered to learn it, and thus is the only person who actually knows for sure what Bolt is saying. WHAT KIND OF DUMBASSERY IS THAT?! And also they have a, you know, like, Star Trek communicators system, WHICH THE KING CAN’T USE. BECAUSE THEY’RE MORONS. I mean, for God’s sake, if nothing else they’ve been watching Earth for ages, HASN’T SOMEBODY NOTICED HUMANS USE PHONES TO TEXT NOW? Do the Inhumans not have a writing system which THEIR KING could communicate with? OMFG!!!!)

Ahem. Back to the main post:

Gorgon is WONDERFUL. Despite the plush boots and bad writing, Eme Ikwuakor *radiates* charm and presence, and dominated the screen whenever he was on it. I loved him and I want him to have awesome SFX instead of humiliating ones.

There were three twists I didn’t expect in the show, two of which improved their characters (one improved the affected character so dramatically that I completely reassessed the performer’s ability) and one of which made me go OH YAY. And my final verdict?

I’ll watch more. It’s not good, but it’s not as bad as I expected from the reviews. I think its most unforgiveable flaw is that it’s not much *fun*, but honestly I do not think it’s noticeably worse than the first 2/3rds of season one Agents of Shield, which I thought was really grimly bad but watched all of. It’s not worse than Legends of Tomorrow, except Legends knew it was bonkers from the outset and just ran with it, which gave it a higher feet-kicking outrageous entertainment value. But ultimately, yeah, I’ll give Inhumans a chance.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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Picoreview: Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets: much worse than it had to be.

I went to see this with a friend who’s visiting, and we agreed that it really was much worse than it had to be, which is different, perhaps a step up from, “not as good as it could have been.”

The dialogue, specifically the dialogue between leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, was excrutiating. They had roughly the chemistry of two wet paper towels (although that may be doing wet paper towels a disservice), and the attempt at a romantic storyline between them was very possibly the worst I’ve ever seen on film.

The stupid thing is that it was totally unnecessary. They could have eliminated all attempt at a romance and made them just partners and it would have improved the film 100% and cut it by at least 20 minutes, which would have improved it another 80%. (It would require at least another 10 minutes of cuts for cuts to improve it by a full 100%.)

Aside from the total lack of chemistry, DeHaan and Delevingne were desperately mis-cast in terms of size and physical attributes: they literally looked like children with their waifish forms, big eyes, delicate bone structures, and teensy tinsy heights. Everybody else (including the obviously very young and very, very pretty Kris Wu as a young sergeant that my companion and I said sadly to each other, “He’s obviously going to die,” as soon as he came on screen) looked like adults and towered over them. It was genuinely bizarre.

On the other hand, it turned out Delevingne, whom I’d only half-seen in the half-watched Suicide Squad, was really pretty good when not on screen with DeHaan, which made her character being sidelined a lot annoying even though I’m not a reader of the original comics, which are titled Valerian and Laureline and the characters evidently carry equal story weight. (My companion didn’t think she was as badly used as I did, so YMMV.) I want to see her in a well-written part, now, but I wish they’d cast somebody else in this role. Someone who didn’t look like a Wolfrider thrust amongst humans.

All that (and more) bitching aside, I’m not sorry I saw it. The effects were glorious, the maps from Valerian & Laureline to every piece of space opera from Star Wars onward were clearly and brilliantly overlaid, starting with a Jabba the Hudefinitely not Jabba character and rolling right up through Avatar (we, in fact, kept referring to the main alien species as “the pale Avatar people”), the underlying story was decent, and the first five minutes were among the best I’ve ever seen in science fiction film making.

Seriously: the first five minutes were worth the price of admission. Even if the rest of it had been irredeemably horrible (instead of just a lot worse than it needed to be) I would not have been sad to have seen it on the big screen just for the first five minutes. They were uplifting and hopeful and funny and poignant and *beautiful*.

Also Rihanna was wonderful. I love Rihanna anyway and although her introduction in the film was, um. Yes. It sure was um. Anyway. She was amazing in her small part and the movie would have been vastly improved if she’d been cast as Valerian. Unfortunately, what casting her *did* do was play up how poorly cast the leads were, because she was all emotion and riveting screen presence and completely overwhelmed DeHaan (Delevingne was only on screen with her for a few seconds), but dang, I loved her.

So I thought the bones of a good–even great–movie were in there, but they were tragically given body by two badly miscast leads and a script that needed to stop forcing romance onto a working relationship, and that’s genuinely too bad.

But really, man, the first five minutes. Wow.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’ve been–I don’t think I’ve been doing it on the blog, but on Twitter and my FB page I’ve been keeping pretty close tabs on Wonder Woman all summer long. I’ve seen it five or six times in the theatre (including infamously flying to Liverpool to take my friend Leah to it to make sure she’d see it when her husband didn’t particularly want to!). I’ve been watching it break record after record–it was the biggest opening for the first weekend in June ever, it’s the biggest female-led, female-directed movie in history, Warner Bros have announced they’re going to be running a major Academy Awards campaign for it for Best Picture and Best Director (and I tell you, having seen it six times, I *still* think Gal Gadot deserves a Best Actress nomination). It stayed in theatres at nearly unprecedented numbers–it’s down to under 1000 now, but it only dropped that low last week–and I’ve just been hanging on to watching it go from success to success. It’s meant a lot to me. It shouldn’t *have* to, but it has.

And now I’m looking at this week’s nubers. $402.8m in North America as of Wednesday. $396m internationally (and that’s as of the weekend, because Box Office Mojo doesn’t get international numbers as rapidly). $798.7m all together, worldwide.

So I’m calling it: Wonder Woman is going to squeak over $800m worldwide *before* it opens in Japan on the 25th.

The fascinating thing is that Japan is a total wild card. At the worst it’ll play like the other DCEU movies and make about $15m there. But it’s a princess warrior movie, and Diana’s voice is being dubbed by the woman who does Sailor Moon’s voice, which is as canny a bit of casting as ever there was. And Japan *loves* princess movies. It *could* play like a Disney princess film and make tens of millions.

It needs $873,260,195 to beat Batman vs Superman by $1.

Come on, Wondy.

(Also the director, Patty Jenkins, is reported to be just about to sign a historic deal for the sequel, with the expectation of a payday unlike anything a woman director has ever seen. Come on, Wondy! #emotions)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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I’m somewhat better than I’ve been, but I’ve still got a cough and snotty nose. No, I haven’t gone to a doctor, but only because it turns out there’s a shortage of doctors in this town and nobody is taking new patients. We got signed up with a clinic in theory but we still haven’t gotten notification that we’re actually in their system, so…yeah. Anyway. At this point I think I’m going to have healed up before I’m in the system. Whee.

That said, all I want to do today is lie in a lump on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine all afternoon, but I’d have a 7 year old beside me saying, “What? What?” and fake-laughing at things, which wouldn’t really be much fun.

The Wrinkle in Time trailer dropped yesterday and made me cry. Twice. It looks amazing. (“Mommy,” Indy said incredulously, “are you *crying*?” Yes. Yes I was.) Anyway, I haven’t read the book in at least twenty, possibly thirty, years, and I immediately bought a new copy to read it. I didn’t think it would hold up, honestly, but I’ve read the first chapter and so far it’s still amazing.

I also re-read THE HERO AND THE CROWN a couple days ago and for the first time the acid trip battle with Agsded actually made sense to me. I’ve only read the book about forty times, so it’s nice that I eventually became able to really follow that scene.

Also I don’t remember crying through Talat’s rehabilitation before. *wipes eyes*

I made crabapple jelly with the last of LAST year’s crabapples, some cherry jam, pitted more cherries that Dad brought out, and bought some peaches that I need to process today and see if I’ve got enough for jam. I have frozen strawberries, too, and some many-berry mix frozen berries. Jam, glorious jam. :)

There are TWO kittens in the garden. We’re calling them Topsy and Turvy and are feeding them and their mama. I’m waiting for the local rescue people to have a capture cage available, so hopefully that’ll come through soon.

I turned a grant application in last week. I’ve got a book proposal just about ready to submit. I have copy edits to do and need to email my editor about line edits. And…I’d have to look at my to-do list to see what’s next. That’s plenty to get me through the week, though. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

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C.E. Murphy

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