television and movies

Family-oriented Baddies are my Weak Point.

Everyone has their favourite type of villain. Not ‘antagonist,’ as that can refer to any number of obstacles going against our main character. I’m talking the human obstacle: the dark overlord, the crime kingpin, the local psychopath. Some of us like them remorseless and cold, some like them tragic, some like them mysterious, and some like them with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

I like it when they have families, but not families that are downtrodden and fearful of them. I don’t want a cowering wife or cautious husband, and dead-eyed children. If the Dark Lord has a wife, she’s his Queen and a badass in every measure. And these two? If they have kids, they are surprisingly doting parents, and those kids aren’t in the dark about what their parents do. Hell, they might even be on the way to taking over for mom and dad.

I really enjoy seeing the typical, loving family dynamic applied to villains. While some might say it’s been done to near cliché-ness, I still enjoy the contrast. We don’t expect villains to be loving, or we expect that the loss of their loved ones is the reason they’re villains. But I like the idea of a family scheming together, without all the plans to kill each other off for power or have one betray everyone else to the heroes (I’m looking at you, Overlord’s-Daughter-who-falls-in-love-with-the-Hero.) Seeing that family dynamic in our villains gives the audience a reason to like him, a possible weakness for the hero to exploit, and world-shattering consequences should anything happen to any member of the villain’s family.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the idea of tragedy surrounding the villain’s families, or said families being the key to the villain’s redemption. If I had to pick my current favourite villains (though, by season three, they’re more ‘morally ambiguous’ than outright evil), I would say it’s Queen Regina and Rumplestiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Both are heavily motivated by family, a factor which leads to their downfall, and later redemption.

Regina is shown before her time as the Evil Queen as having a very close and loving relationship with her father, while she seeks her mother’s love and approval. Though she is more driven by her desire for revenge, her actions lead her to kill her beloved father as payment for the curse that sets the series off. In recent seasons, she’s less antagonistic towards the other main characters, but not exactly one of them. Her desire to change is influenced by her love for Henry, her adopted son. Regina’s family based character development is a wonderful thing to see. It’s well-paced, sticks to her character, and doesn’t play off her maternal instinct as a weakness. Her badassery hasn’t decreased at all.

Rumple is a more clear-cut example of family motivation. He kills and takes on the mantle of the Dark One to gain the power to prevent his son from being sent off to war. Despite his best intentions, this power corrupts him, and gradually pushes his son away. Though he wants to give up magic to make his son happy, he’s been corrupted by the power and can’t bring himself to do so, even when it means his son is lost in another world. Much of his motivation from that point is centered on getting to where his son went and reconciling. Like Regina, this leads him to become less of an antagonist, and more of an ally.

Really, I don’t do the characters justice in a hundred words. If I haven’t already spoiled too much of it, I suggest you give the series a try.

Perhaps it’s my love of my own family that makes me enjoy this dynamic in a villain. I think a good family brings out a lot of potential for character development.

What about you?

Categories: musings, On Writing, stuff i like, television and movies | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Readers at the Movies

Avid readers (and writers) are probably some of the most insufferable people to go to the movies with. It’s especially bad if the movie in question is based on a best-selling novel, like so many are these days.

Fact is, we are often so in love with these books that any changes made feels like a slap in the face. Some of us don’t really grow out of this, often going to see the movie for the sole purpose of ranting about how terrible it was. Some of us realize that movies/television and books are very different mediums. We enjoy the movie for what it is (though this doesn’t prevent some people from complaining during the show anyway).

I try not to complain too much when it comes to movies/television-based-off-books. If there’s a scene I really wished they had kept, I might comment on it. I save my ranting for when the movie is truly awful and butchers the plot/characters/setting beyond all belief (I’m looking at you Eragon). It’s a matter of respect, more for my fellow movie-goers than the film though.

I have a friend who’s more of the former when it comes to movies vs books. I actually did not know this side of her existed until we went to see the last Harry Potter movie. Every so often she would lean over to me and whisper something.

“That didn’t happen in the book.”

“That happened later in the book.”

“That was totally different in the book.”

To which I eventually said something like, “Dude, if you don’t shut up I’m going to punch you.”

I love her, I really do. But she’s not allowed to read The Hobbit until the trilogy is out of theatres.

But I get where the rage is coming from. We get really attached to our favourite books, so seeing them violated for the sake of “appealing to a wider audience” or displayed with evidence that the people behind the movie just didn’t care, well, it wounds us. Sometimes they reduce our beloved fictional worlds to smouldering trash heaps (like Eragon). Other times, we get something decent, but padded out with some pointless plots and characters (I’m looking at you Desolation of Smaug, though the other Hobbit movies count too). Sometimes the movies are good, regardless (Harry Potter). Some of us might even like the movie adaptation better—This is just me, but while I like both versions for different reasons, I ultimately prefer the Coraline animated movie to the novella.

In the end, it’s a matter of taste and how strongly attached we as readers are to the fictional world.

But we must also remember the differences in the mediums. Really, if you want the book, read the book.

Categories: musings, television and movies, This is my life | Leave a comment

Not All Movies Are Meant For Your Child, Seriously

In the event that I ever have children, I will have rules when it comes to movie theatre visits.

1)      No R-rated movies for the children.

2)      If Hubby and I really want to see an R-rated movie and can’t get a baby-sitter, we will wait until we can get a baby sitter.

3)      When the children are young, we will not take them to an 8 PM showing of a two hour long movie.

4)      We will not take the children to a movie they won’t understand, regardless of rating.

5)      We will pay attention to the movie ratings.

I’ve been to far too many movies—R-rated or at least a strong PG-13—where someone has decided to bring their five year old. I’ve been to movies that a kid probably wouldn’t understand, shown at a late time, and had to endure a kid sitting behind me, squirming and jumping around. I’ve had to endure moves where kids would not shut up or stop crying.

And don’t give me the whole “You’ll understand when you’re a mommy” speech. No. Bringing your kid to a movie they won’t enjoy makes the experience sucky for them and everyone around you. We are conditioned to accept children in certain theatre situations. For example:

Little girl shouts “I hate you Gaston! I hate you!” during the climax of Beauty & the Beast? I heard that and it was both hilarious and adorable. This kid had also been trying to sing along to the songs, despite not knowing any of the words. In a Disney movie, you expect kids and you expect a little bit of this behaviour. However, I rarely see obnoxious kids in theatres when a kid’s movie is showing, because the kids are entertained and thus behaving.

Little boy wears a weird mask and kicks seats and wiggles around while his mother talks on the phone during the climax of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows? Fuck you, lady. No. You don’t take a kid to see a Sherlock Holmes movie, especially not a late show. He was tired and probably bored out of his mind. Sherlock might not have been R-rated, but it was still a bit of a complex movie for your eight year old. Granted, you were yakking on the phone as if no one could hear you, so I guess he might also get his manners from you.

But for all the griping I’m doing about kids at movies, one of my most memorable experiences happened because of a kid who wouldn’t shut up.

So, we’re at Phantom of the Opera. It’s a dramatic. It’s mostly musical. It’s fairly violent. Really, not the type of movie a seven year old would understand. Needless to say, someone brought their seven year old. I never saw the kid, but his voice carried throughout the theater.

“Who’s that?”

At which point anyone who can see the kid is casting glares at him and his mother. I know this is going to be a long movie.

“Why is Raoul locking her in her room?”

What made your mother think this would be a good movie to take you to?

“Why are they singing?”

It’s a musical, kid. Now shush.

But the questions kept coming. Finally, we get to the climax, and the big dramatic unmask of Gerard Butler.

Everything is intense.

Christine tears off his mask.

“The Phantom has a really ugly face!”

And I start laughing. You win this round, annoying child. All is forgiven.

My sisters and I still talk about this kid. That one dumb observation was kind of worth it for us.

But seriously people, your kids are not as cute and funny as you think they are, especially not to strangers in the movie theater. Please, attend certain movies with small children responsibly.

Categories: musings, television and movies, This is my life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The End of Dexter and a Whole Bunch of Characters Deserved Better

The following entry contains spoilers for the final season of HBO’s Dexter. You have been warned.

Dexter has been a constant source of entertainment for my mom and I for the past several years. We were slightly saddened by the coming end of our favourite series, but at the same time, excited to see what would happen to the characters we came to know and love.

I’m still reeling in disappointment.

Let’s start with Dr. Evelyn Vogel. Ever since the beginning of the season, when she showed up with disturbing pictures drawn by a young Dexter, I had suspicions. She knew about Dexter’s urges, she helped Harry develop the Code, and now, this season’s murderer was sending her segments of brain tissue taken from his victims. I thought she was behind all of it. She had the build-up to be revealed as manipulating things from the shadows. I was certain she would be the mastermind behind everything.

But, nope, it was actually her crazy son who kills her when she tries to do the right thing. I’m very disappointed in how weak a character Dr. Vogel became when she had all this potential.

But let’s talk about her son. Or, let’s not. There’s nothing to talk about. Compared to all the other villains I’ve seen in this series—The Ice Truck Killer in Season 1, Miguel in Season 3, Trinity in Season 4—he was a generic “for the evilz” villain with mommy issues. How boring.

Then there’s Zach. They had built up that Zach was going to become Dexter’s protégée, and I actually liked him. There’s was a lot of black comedy revolving around how he had no idea what he was doing when it came to killing. With hearsay about a Dexter spin-off, I figured he was a good candidate for the protagonist of that.

Except just as him and Dexter patch things up after a disagreement, he dies at the hands of Mr. Mommy Issues. So, he existed for a few episodes.

Masuka also had this side-story this season about finding out he had a grown daughter. I didn’t get the point of it. The entire thing could have been cut. It only seemed to be there to give Masuka last minute character development and fill some screen time.

Hannah comes back, and she’s alright for the most part. But there was this whole issue about keeping her hidden because she was still a wanted criminal. And she gets found out, which causes a lot of problems for Dexter. So…why not dye and cut her hair? All the pictures circulating show a blonde woman with long hair. Dye it black and cut it short. Or if you absolutely can’t for some stupid reason, put a wig on her. Hell, if she has to go out, give her frumpy clothes. Hannah always looks fashionable. People notice fashionable, attractive women. But no one will look twice at a woman in jeans, a t-shirt, with her hair in a ponytail.

But I guess we can’t have that because Hannah needs to look sexy for the audience. At least she eventually did something useful by the end of the season. I was getting annoyed with the wanted murderess being unable to handle herself in a tough situation.

And I think she’ll make a good mother to Harrison.

And now, Deb.

Deb is my favourite character. I love her attitude. I love her potty mouth. I love how she’s a general badass who speaks her mind. I love how she was still able to come off as badass when she was struggling with life and was turning to Dexter for advice.

And then, as with many female characters, she must die to inspire the male lead into action.

I could have handled her dying, though I wouldn’t have wanted it. It was the way it happened that makes me angry.

Deb gets shot during a confrontation with Mommy Issues after the genius U.S. Marshal Max Clayton frees him from being imprisoned by Dexter, despite videos of Mommy Issues killing people being all over the news (thanks to Dexter).

He gets stabbed for his trouble and there was much rejoicing.

So, Deb is shot and taken to the hospital, where the doctors are optimistic. But her dialogue reads like bad foreshadowing for her death. A few minutes later, there are flashbacks with Deb and Dexter. Then the “Complications” arise. Deb is taken back into surgery because of a clot. Her brain was starved for oxygen for several minutes. She’s in a coma, and if she ever comes out of it, she’ll have to live off a feeding tube and be essentially brain dead.

Quinn, her love interest whom I was praying she’d finally marry, agrees with the audience that this is an insult to her character. Dexter is inspired to take down Mommy Issues once and for all. Later, he comes back and takes Deb off life-support, which you can see coming a mile away. The scene where he does it is brilliantly acted on Michael C. Hall’s part, and I’d probably have shed some tears for Dexter if I hadn’t been so angry.

I also might have been able to appreciate the symbolism of him stealing Deb’s body and dumping her into the ocean, as he sees her as one of his victims.

But I couldn’t. If Deb absolutely had to die, she should have died in a blaze of glory. Maybe saving Dexter from Vogel and Mommy Issues. The woman deserved a badass hero’s death. Not being reduced to becoming a vegetable because of some idiot not paying attention to stuff that’s vital to his job.

If they had to take the vegetable route because they wanted the most tragic option for the character, she deserved a proper funeral. I couldn’t appreciate the symbolism of Deb being thrown in with Dexter’s victims because I felt she deserved better.

Frankly, a lot of the choices in this season pissed me off. Normally, the writing in Dexter is excellent. What happened here? Were there new writers? Did a bunch of actors have to leave mid-season?

But, I’m sure there might be some curiosity about my feelings on Dexter’s final fate.

I thought it was fitting, though I disliked the events that led to it.

Dexter fakes his death to live a life of solitude and keep his remaining family safe. Harrison is taken in by Hannah and the two will presumably live a safe life in Argentina. Astor and Cody—who are only briefly mentioned—will not be bothered by Dexter’s enemies.

I could never see Dexter committing suicide, but I couldn’t really see him getting a happy ending either. It was a justified ending for his character. It seemed to be the only thing that fit.

I just wish others had gotten justified treatment as well.


Categories: musings, television and movies, This is my life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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