Friday, 26 May 2017

It's a Wonder Woman World ...?

To say the hype train for the Wonder Woman movie hasn't been mega is ... well a bit of an understatement. Wonder Woman isn't exactly the first movie of its kind, although many would have you believe it is absolutely groundbreaking. It goes without saying the film is significant because it features a female lead in a powerful role. Not to detract from Diana's thunder but, the Underworld Franchise has had a female lead across 5 movies since ... 2006? (that was the first Underworld film right?), Kill Bill's Beatrix has been named one of cinemas Top 100 characters of all Time for her martial arts antics, and even Disney's Mulan, Moana and Merida tick a lot of "strong, powerful woman/girl" boxes. Dare I mention Ghost in the Shell which, despite its many misgivings, also featured a powerful female lead?


Wonder Woman isn't exactly the first powerful female film, or even first solo film in this genre (Selene has held her own for 5 films without relenting in her butt-kicking) but it's CERTAINLY one of the most influential in the here and now. For that, we should stand up and pay particular attention. Underworld 5 came out last year but didn't gain the same traction as Wonder Woman has this year, whether the film lives up to its expectations has yet to be seen, but the current Wonder Woman phenomenon alone cements it's place in the feminist film Hall of Fame.

Every couple of days I saw a post about people complaining about Diana's clean-shaven pits or her weight loss food sponsorships (or whatever protein shake/weight management products they were) or the lack of merch/promotions when compared to her male counterparts (Batman and Superman). I was happy to sit back, let the dust storms settle and write a review after the movie rather than weigh in on every new still-shot from the trailer or dodgy product-placement ... but then I read this and boy howdy did I have to respond.

So the Alamo Drafthouse situation, for those of you who don't want to click the link and read the whole thing (You totally should though). A female only screening of Wonder Woman promotion is taking place in an Austin cinema (since the publication of the article, this has expanded to another Drafthouse cinema and also included extra screenings). Pretty sweet idea right?

It warms my cold, dead heart to think about women and girls of all ages coming together and openly geeking out at the cinema at an event specifically geared for them.

Seriously, how sweet is it to picture a bunch of Diana Fans swarming the lobby and engaging with each other before and after the screening?! When I go to regular film screenings, I generally head straight in alone or with my friend(s), not a lot of socialising happens, which sucks because everyone at the cinema is going to see a movie, yet, few people really chat to each other beforehand, at least, that is from my experience. I think this kind of event cinema is different though, like film festivals, it's not just the screening you attend, but the experience. This experience is for ladies who, perhaps hide their power level in their every day life or don't have other geeky friends to chat with. This event brings together those women who might not get to share their fangirling with anyone and gives them a venue to just have at it with other people like them. I'm not saying men deter women from unleashing their inner geek, but certainly for some, a female-only environment offers a special place for women to come together and embrace something together that they wouldn't otherwise experience.


It was all sunshine and rainbows until men came in and ruined it of course.

Pardon my rather blunt language there, but the main contrarians were ... men. Their argument, "This is discrimination/sexism" "This isn't fair" "Men can't have nice things" "MUHH FEMINIZUMM" "SJW Snowflakes taking over!". 

That is basically it although some comments on posts related to the event range from bitter man-baby tears to downright absurdity. The kicker is ... this isn't an exclusive screening at the movie houses involved, this isn't the one and only chance for men to see the screening and they are in no way shape or form being deprived the chance to see the Divine Diana in action.

The Womens' screenings are various times on Tuesday the 6th of June (two separate screenings at the time of writing this have sold out), the film premiers on the 1st ... and aside from the two women screenings on the 6th ... there are also general audience screenings for anyone and everyone to attend. Men (and women who want to attend general screenings for that matter) are not being deprived the chance to see this film which is what makes the arguments of discrimination all the more ludicrous. It is obvious that the problem here is that for 2 screenings, men aren't invited. All the other screenings in the world suddenly don't matter whether or not the men initially wanted to attend on Tuesday the 6th at 6.30 or 7.00. It's basically a toddler surrounded by toys but throwing a tantrum when one particular toy they weren't even playing with gets put away. I don't recall seeing such an outcry at female led business events like the Stevie Awards or Female Entrepreneur Awards coming under fire despite that these events only praise the works of, you guessed it, women.

This screening isn't an attack on men, but a celebration of women by inviting them to come together and enjoy an event that is very much by and for women. Proceeds from the event are being donated to womens charities and as far as I'm aware the staff for the event are largely, if not entirely, female. Not only is this a great cause, but it's employing and empowering women which is fab.

Men are invited to enjoy this film as well, but for two, or three, or four screenings (at this rate, the event is proving really popular, more screenings are made available to meet popular demand) women are encouraged to share a moment together. Female audiences in comics, video games and movies are more often than not ignored or snubbed in favour of the "more lucrative" young male audience, despite the fact females make up half the population and in many cases, they are also half the audience in movies, games and comics too.

If anything, the tremendous success of Wonder Woman will show just how powerful the female audience is. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Diana. 

After the abysmal Suicide Squad, Superman 3 and Batman V Superman, there may be hope for the DCEU yet, and BOY is it fantastic that Diana will be the one to save this sinking ship and pull the Justice League up by their laces. If early reviews are anything to go by, as well as the sheer female force supporting her, Wonder Woman might just save more than the DCEU's bacon, she might just save female-oriented scripts that were teetering on the edge of a producers desk ready for the bin because they were "gurl films".

Could this be the dawn of a new age of female power in movies? 


It's too early to tell, but I sure hope so, the forecast is already quite promising, with Batwoman and Captain Marvel in the works, not to mention Ant Man and the Wasp, although it isn't a standalone, hopefully Hope Van Dyne will really slay on screen. Who knows, maybe there IS hope for a Black Widow movie yet! And if thats the case PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE make BuckyNat canon! Brutasha was paaaants.

Monday, 22 May 2017

She's Back!!! [Cat Update and Other Things]


Hi everyone!!! I'm feeling much better!!! My fur is growing back nice and soft and I'm jumping and climbing and playing all the time!!! 


Silliness aside, thanks for the patience. Essays are almost all wrapped up, not long to go (yikes!) Mizzy is feeling MUCH better thankfully and I couldn't be more pleased. It wasn't until she bounced back that I could really see how lethargic she'd gotten while she was ill. Her recovery was actually pretty quick which was fantastic. 
She was very good at taking her kidney-fixing tablets (which is usually a near-impossible task when it comes to giving her worm tablets during worming season!!!). I'm so grateful she's well again. 

Anyway, there's a lot to catch up on here. Monthly Marvel Inspo, the Guardians movie (I'm afraid I might have missed the "review" window on this one, it's a bit late now), I re-read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and would love to do a re-review after taking a break to really sink back into the story [check out my original review HERE]. I want to talk about lots of cool things, the current Steve Rogers and Secret Empire situation, I left a bit of a cliffhanger in my last T-Bolts update and I ought to pick it up again. I was lucky enough to attend Dublin Sci-Fi Film Festival in Smithfield, it was the first year of this Genre film festival and I want to review some of the flicks I saw and the festival in general. 

In light of some recent personal experiences, I'm also tempted to delve into topics relating to feminism, which, I know is a delicate subject so I'll tread carefully. If feminism isn't your cup of tea, you'd rather read my comic posts and such, by all means read my other posts. Feminism is important to discuss, but forcing the discourse onto people won't make it pleasurable and won't allow people to open up to its ideals. I'd much rather wait until people are ready to approach the topic or are ready for me to approach the topic with them so everyone can enjoy it!

Also in the works is a top-secret album review (very very exciting). An absolutely fantastic band (its a sneaky surprise till next time) that I have previously reviewed elsewhere in a collaborative post with another reviewer have once again delivered a super special copy of their latest album. It would be poor form for me not to write an honest review on it. Stay tuned I'll be posting aplenty! Keep your ears and eyes peeled for this review which I hope to sit down and do very soon.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

A -hopefully brief- blog break

This is my cat.
Her name is Misty (It was my moms idea to call her that, if I was in charge I'd call her something cooler like CAPTAIN AWESOME or something). I call her MizzyMoo, MizzMizz, Mizzeen, My Little PorkChop, The Great Mizushi (sometimes Malice and Mizery when she's being moody and emo). Anyway, my little Mizzy is a little unwell. Here she is looking a bit rough after a trip to the vet (before the sedatives wore off).

She's a bit poorly at the minute and is on medication for her kidneys for the next two weeks before another round of tests to see if she's feeling better. Last I checked, she wasn't doing too bad, she was purring and slapped me on the nose with her paw (she's in good form when she's sassy). Anyway, between my second semester deadlines creeping up, and my little furbaby being poorly, I can't bombard you with posts like I did last month (even though I had commitments and deadlines then too). Hopefully in a fortnight I can sit down and post my usual Marvel Monthly and HOPEFULLY HOPEFULLY a snip of good news that Mizz's kidneys are fighting fit. She's looking much better (although patchy after getting shaved for blood tests) so the tablets must be helping a little, but we won't be sure till she gets a follow up test. 

I got my actors cheque not too long ago (somehow it got lost/forgotten/vanished but casting dept were lovely and sorted me out a couple of weeks back) pretty much every penny was poured into getting this little mite tested and treated, hopefully she gets good news and no more vet trips!! Of course, her health is priceless, so spending my wages on her instead of camera equipment or a dress was no loss. She's my greatest treasure. 

Please stick around folks, I love posting my thoughts and ramblings here and can't wait to get back into blogging once my little MizzMuzz is strong again.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The End of the Thunderbolts?

Apologies for a delay in posting!!! I'm going to touch on both Secret Empire #0 and Thunderbolts #12 to make up for my tardiness!

Before I jump into the thick of it I have some dreadful news ...

Apparently this could be the "end-end" of T-Bolts. T-Bolts was originally going to be picked up again later this year (Autumn/Winter maybe?) but that might not be the case. I can't for the life of me fathom why when every comic shop I've been to has sold out of most, if not all, copies of Thunderbolts for most issues. I don't think Dublin and Belfast are exceptional cities in terms of comic readership, if anything, it's a pretty small market, but compared to other comics but TBolts was doing incredibly well. I was late getting into town this week and I kid you not, I went to 3 of the major comic shops in Dublin and #12 was sold out in two of them and in the third shop I was lucky enough to pick up the last copy. This wasn't even a week after TBolts came out so it would have been in the new release category and had already sold out in 3 stores within a week. Further, when I look at back issues/older issues, TBolts is hard to find in an abundance. I can't speak for every territory, but Dublin and Belfast saw pretty good sales unless they stocked particularly low numbers of Tbolts for ... reasons? 

Anyway, that aside, TBolts might not be picked up which ... makes literally no sense to me and I can only hope Marvel change their minds regarding this decision because, despite its explosive ending, I don't think the TBolts are totally wrapped up and the series sold pretty well to my knowledge. Anyway, complaints aside, lets get into Tbolts and Secret Empire because that's what you came here for. 

Back to Thunderbasics

TBolts begins with Jolt and Atlas in "present day", so no more WW2 stuff. Because this issue gets so heavy, I think Zub, Malin and Yackey wanted to start on a happy note, so Jolt helps Atlas back on his feet and the pair endeavour to help Bucky and the others although Jolt (rightly) points out that Atlas is in no fit state to take on Zemo and the Masters of Evil. 

If you were left wondering what happened to Bucky who appeared to be getting blown to smithereens by a moody cosmic cube in the last issue ... Well Kobik and Bucky make an explosive return to "present day" Thunderbase. Kobik is distraught and unhappy to say the least. Given the extent of manipulation she's been subjected to at the hands of SHIELD, Redskull, even the Thunderbolts and dare I say Bucky? (Despite his good intentions, he certainly influenced her, good, bad or otherwise), it comes as no surprise she reached a breaking point. 


She zaps herself and Bucky back to the present where Zemo and the Masters, Fixer and Moonstone all await him. 
Mach X and Songbird are cornered by the Masters and fighting a losing battle. I know this is a comic, but Wrecker's brutal attack on Mach X (literally beating his head in with a crowbar) actually made me somewhat uncomfortable, on top of Melissa's broken ribs at the hands of Thunderball ... it was somewhat more visceral than the other fights the TBolts engaged in. I think it may be in part due to the fact I felt a real sense of peril for the characters since everything was going wrong, I felt like this wasn't another battle they would win against the odds. For the first time ever, it felt like they'd lose ... which they basically did. 

All was not lost though ... I mean ... remember a prediction I made waaaaay back forever ago? WELLLL IT WAS RIGHT!!! Ghost wasn't a throwaway easter egg. He attempted to turn the tides in favour of Songbird and Mach X although it was a case of too little too late, especially given the fact a sentient cosmic cube was destroying reality right above their heads ... BUT HEY CHECK IT OUT! GHOST'S HERE!
Who needs a guardian angel when you can have a guardian Ghostie!!!
While Bucky goes toe-to-toe with Zemo (and wins), Moonstone and Fixer worry about Kobik. Jolt and Atlas attempt to calm her down and Moonstone toys with the idea of killing Zemo. When Bucky tells her not to kill Zemo ... Moonstone has other plans. She'll kill Zemo even if it means taking out Bucky first... So much for team spirit!
Zemo and Bucky are downed and Kobik is spiralling out of control, Jolt and Atlas can't control or contain such vast amounts of energy. Fixer fumbles as he considers taking the shot to end it all. At this point, despite Kobik's memory tampering and their strained relationship, it appears that Fixer was beginning to understand and similarly adopt Bucky's approach to her. He did start calling her she and was less frosty toward her but ultimately, he apologises to Bucky and takes the shot. 


The panels that depicted Kobik's destruction and the immediate aftermath, Abe and Melissa being separated as they were pummelled with the rubble of the Thunderbase, Kobik apologising and telling Bucky ... and the other Tbolts possibly, that she loved them ... These panels killed me, they were beautiful and painful. Kobik and Bucky's distress was tangible. Zemo takes advantage of the distraction to knock Bucky out while he has his back turned. 

Even Fixer appears moved by the whole thing, as he notes Kobik used the last of her energy to protect them from the explosion... I hope I'm not the only one who thinks Fixer was growing attached to Kobik in his own weird way.



All hope is not lost however, as Fixer notes that Kobik broke into shards which spread across the planet and can be traced. Atlas emerges from the rubble, Zemo orders him to pick up Bucky, the Zemo-TBolts are going on an adventure ... presumably to find the Kobik shards or cause more chaos. Moonstone immediately jumps in with Zemo (despite wanting to kill him seconds ago ... Karla just can't play well with others), Fixer begrudgingly has to lead them to the pieces of Kobik so he's roped in with Zemo and Atlas, looking dejected, picks up Bucky and they vanish into a portal. Atlas himself said he's a follower, with no alternative, he rolls with Zemo but it's pretty clear he's not as happy about this arrangement as he could be... Not that anyone could blame him, Zemo points out that basically everything is his fault because he inadvertently led Zemo and Co to Thunderbase. 

Later, Songbird emerges from beneath the snow and ruins of Thunderbase, weeps for Abe who is presumed dead, and she begins to walk away towards ... goodness knows what but I'm sure she'll make her way into Secret Empire pretty easily. Ghost emerges from the snow and picks up a Jolt who, utterly exhausted, has shrunk down to a teeny tiny size. 

So that was TBolts. A few of my predictions came true in some shape or form others didn't.
  • All my nagging about Ghost paid off ... he came, he saw, he ... didn't conquer much but hey, there he was!
  • Abe and Melissa didn't side with Zemo, as I sorta suspected, unfortunately their escape didn't go as well as I'd guessed it would ... Guess I got too optimistic there. 
  • The Inhumans incident was ... never touched on again ... although all this drama with Ulysses kept them busy I guess and the Tbolts weren't exactly following the news to hear when their names were cleared because they were getting beaten up ... I wish they'd wrapped it up though.
  • HYDRA-Cap is still "unknown" to the Tbolts except for Bucky and Zemo, but with Secret Empire going down, this won't remain secret for long. Ulysses vision is also hanging in the air, Tbolts would have been too soon to wrap up that prediction though, it is continuing in Secret Empire. 
  • Abe's role in PH remained a secret, but it would have been interesting to see Atlas' response, had he known. 
  • I guessed that Fixer and/or Moonstone would have a change of heart, and I think I'll give myself a point for that, I assumed Fixer would have a change of heart and Moonstone would roll with Zemo and for the most part, it seems clear that Fixer's heart is with Bucky but his head with Zemo. If he wasn't truly invested in Bucky's Bolts, why would he apologise "Sorry Boss" before taking a shot at Kobik. Moonstone on the other hand is as cold and heartless as ever (but I still can't help but love her ...)
  • Jolt and Erik choose sides ... sort of happened. Atlas was forced to team up with Zemo and Jolt slipped away (or rather shrank away due to Kobik's energy overload). Now they find each other in different camps but I highly doubt they'll part forever. 
This post is getting a wee bit long so I won't go into Secret Empire #0 just yet, A LOT happened in TBolts. I'll try keep this brief, but with Kobik blown up ... and history sort of "stuck" now ... perhaps that explains the controversial twist revealed in Secret Empire #0, but more on that next time!!

Thanks for reading! 


P.s. If you can, drop a message to mheroes@marvel.com asking them to consider renewing TBolts (remember to be polite!!!) and hopefully they'll pick it up again. There is SO much more that can happen with the Tbolts, the story is certainly far from over and it would be fantastic to see it played out properly rather than see it in a 4-panel side-note in some other story. I think these characters deserve more than a mere mention in one of the bigger arcs to wrap up the next part of the story and Zub & Co were absolutely FANTASTIC. TBolts is faaaar from over and we know it!!! 



Saturday, 15 April 2017

This is Major- Ghost in the Shell Review and Whitewashing.


I'm a sucker for sci-fi/action/futuristic stuff lately so I wanted to see Ghost in the Shell. From an aesthetic perspective it appealed to me, it had a lot going on visually. I expected an extravagantly stylish film. Before I get into the guts of it, lets address the great big honkin' elephant in the room.

White-washing. 

Like this whole Joss Whedon/Batgirl controversy, you have to have been on a social media blackout to have missed the drama surrounding ScarJo and GitS. To make a long story short, many criticised the casting of this film because ScarJo is a white, American actress and many believed Motoko/Major should have been portrayed by a Japanese or Asian actress.

(I gave my 2 cents in the big green chunk at the bottom after my review so if you don't give a donut about the controversy you can read till my verdict and leave it at that, but if you do, go ahead and read the whole darn thing!).

AND NOW I REVIEW!

  • SCAR JO IS MAJOR... Disappointing actually ...

Despite the fact that I don't see it as entirely problematic (or entirely unproblematic either) she was cast to play Major because she's white but the fact remains that she was very ... robotic in her performance. I'm not familiar with the anime, I know it exists and thats about it, so I don't know how "human" Major is supposed to be but it would have been nice to see her "emote" a little, maybe not through her face but her voice? or her eyes? or something. She's supposed to be a soul in a shell but her character lacked a lot of soul. She was convincing though I guess and moved beautifully on screen. 

The scene with Motoko's mother felt incredibly unnatural though this was mostly on the scriptwriters part. Kaori Momoi who played Motoko's mother was fantastic, the emotions poured from her where ScarJo was stuck and stiff (with shock perhaps? Although it seemed to be the same stiffness that dominated the entirety of her performance, it's hard to differentiate). My main problem here was how it came about. Kaori's character invites Major in and immediately drops the "My daughter ran away and killed herself but I don't believe she killed herself" bomb straight away. Now, I'm no expert on the subject, but, I don't invite strangers into my house and then drop all this stuff on them unprovoked. It just came out in an inorganic way, it was essential to the plot to reveal what happened to Motoko and that this is her mother but the way it played out on screen was disingenuous and forced. Props to Kaori for her fantastic performance with such clunky writing to contend with, she really did salvage what she could, but the pacing was entirely off and the dialog did the scene a disservice. Kaori conveyed more emotion in 2 minutes on screen than ScarJo did in her entire performance.

  • VISUAL OVERLOAD

I went for the visuals, not gonna lie, I'm a sucker for stylistic stuff, GitS doesn't fail to deliver with fantastic special effects and prop and set design. I was 200% on board with the eerie geisha-robots ever since the trailers, my only complaint is that we didn't see like 400 more of them, the trailer is pretty much it unfortunately. 
I really liked how it was shot, the colour, the textures, the effects, really it was art in motion. Very few shots are visually boring or stagnant, everything from lighting to the camera angles and movements are carefully considered. Editing of course plays a huge role too. In one of the fights in particular you don't actually see the fight, just flashes of blue light and darkness mashed up with quick, disorienting cuts, it's actually really difficult to watch which only adds to the desperation and danger of this fight. The viewer becomes defenceless which is a jarring change to earlier fights where Major was utterly pwning every n00b that crossed her path. 
I love the glitches as well, the way they just didn't fit in with the world only enhanced the notion that "that isn't supposed to be there". It was an interesting quirk considering the "fake-ness" of the glitches contrasted with the "real-ness" of their meaning. The glitches were out of place and seemed like errors, when really they were one of the more "truthful" glimpses of Major's story, except Major had been brainwashed into believing these "errors" didn't belong. 

  • AND HERE COMES THE TWIST ... that you already saw coming

I dunno if I'm getting too clever I'm not, but this movie was pretty predictable, and I haven't even seen or read the anime or manga or done prior research. I went into the movie blind yet I still predicted every plot twist before it happened.

These may not be in chronological order, but hey, they all happened so heres the "twists" that weren't really twisty. 
*SPOILERS* 
1. When Major gets glitches and has to take her medicine I immediately twigged that the "medicine" which keeps her brain from rejecting the shell was no such thing, it was a memory suppressant to keep Major compliant. 
2. Kuze and Major/Motoko being lovers in their "past" lives. The second they met face to face I saw that coming. 
3. Kuze "dies" and Major lives. He was "suicidal" from the beginning and had a back-up plan, when he asks Major to join with him and makes no attempt to fight the spider-tank, I knew if anyone had to die or sacrifice themselves, Kuze was going to go because Major wouldn't die (Hollywood like it's "happy endings" and keeping protagonists alive for potential sequels and so on). Someone had to be a sacrifice to pull on those heart strings and it wouldn't be Major. I'll admit I did feel bad about Kuze "dying" for a fraction of a second when it seemed like he'd finally found someone like him, something to live for, but it was nonetheless predictable. 
4. Ouelet's sacrifice. From the beginning I knew Ouelet would swap sides. We all knew or suspected that Major was brainwashed/controlled, and Dr O was this sympathetic, kind, motherly figure. When Major was figuring stuff out, I knew Dr O would help her and thus get her self killed. Her character was pretty convincing but her end was so predictable. 
5. Daisuke survives the shooting attack; I knew he'd be fine when he whipped out his gun a couple scenes before his ambush in the car. Daisuke knew what was going on, he was prepared and when he hopped into the car and put his briefcase in that awkward position, I knew he was setting up a shield. It didn't mean he didn't look totally badass when he nailed those baddies in like 6 shots, but I saw it coming long before it happened. 
6. Motoko's mother reveals the truth of Majors past ... everything in that scene was predictable and suffered from clunky scripting but the performance from Kaori saved me from rolling my eyes so far back in my head that they drilled through the back of my skull. 
*SPOILERS END HERE*

  • A CONVINCING ON SCREEN RELATIONSHIP

Batou was an incredibly convincing character. While Kuze and Major's relationship was interesting, I thought Pilou Asbæk's character portrayed the most convincing relationship on screen. He's not Major's love interest, but his admiration for her is very clear. He respects her and cares for her. It can be hard to capture these kind of relationships on screen in such a short time period. Game of Thrones has whole seasons to build up relationships, a movie has 2 hours to go through all the motions and shove in tonnes of plot and action stuff, but Batou's character and his relationship with the main protagonist was captured well. He's the tough guy with a soft heart. We see how bad ass he is quite clearly throughout, but his soft side comes out naturally and beautifully through one simple action. 
He feeds stray dogs ... 
That was an example of good characterisation in my opinion. You can see he's not just a tank with cyborg eyes, he's a gentle giant who also kicks ass. His character had much needed depth, unfortunately ScarJo's, Major, didn't have quite as much depth and I wonder if a slightly less robotic performance could have remedied that. 

  • The Verdict?

I'd give Ghost in the Shell a solid 6/10. The design was spectacular, the props and VFX in particular wowed me, the story and acting, albeit predictable and sometimes a bit stiff, wasn't too bad. The movie did make me think about the whole human/cyborg "what makes a person a person" type questions without it turning into a depressive philosophical mess. 
It wasn't bad by any means. Plenty of room for improvement, but there's rarely a film that pops onto screen entirely flaw-free. The white washing controversy is really the only thing I can complain about at length because to me, it appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction and incredibly mishandled and misinformed. 
I'm all for social justice, but when your social justice steps on the small time cinematographers and filmmakers in Hong Kong who could have benefitted from some good press related to GitS filming in Hong Kong, are you really doing anyone any favours or just standing on a soap-box for the sake of it? 

So the review ends here, but continue reading if you want a female film scholars opinion on THIS PARTICULAR instance of "white washing". (And I stress this particular instance, GitS is one of many films that have problems and lumping everything together and adopting a reductionist approach is a baaaaaad idea. Lets analyse things case by case instead of presuming every single instance is set in the same context and same level with the same circumstances and impact). 

I'm on the fence about this because white washing is a problem, like the lack of females in many leading roles/big projects, but I'm hesitant to voice my concern about this particular case because ...

1. Gearing the blame at ScarJo was the wrong approach. The problem lies with the producers, directors and casting department. An actor plays a role they've been cast to play (lets not get into "she should have turned down the role" because that may be "easy" for a star of ScarJo's calibre to turn down roles but most smaller actors simply can't afford turn away jobs and we shouldn't apply the same expectations to actors on the margin.)
Finn Jones found himself in similarly hot water for playing Danny Rand/Iron Fist, but Finn Jones has nowhere near the same renown as ScarJo. It's ludicrous to expect him to be picky about jobs when his career is still developing, although after all the controversy I don't know what will happen to him next. 
It's a casting director that selects the actor for the role. Blacklisting actors simply for doing their job and being white is an unnecessary attack on actors, yes, the higher-ups may have got the message, but striking them instead of ScarJo strikes me as a far smarter tactic. 
If you get a raw burger at a restaurant you complain to the chef or management, don't attack the waiter! ScarJo might have been an easy target because she was the "face" of the film and her career is unlikely to wither, she'll still be Black Widow in 2 more Marvel Movies and this will all blow over so she doesn't have to worry, but there are plenty of other budding actors who don't have that luxury and we shouldn't set ourselves up to target them as well. If we want to tackle white washing we need an approach that doesn't throw actors under the bus because they aren't solely to blame by any means and the approach that I saw people adopt toward GitS was totally misguided.

2. Major was a cyborg, her "ghost" was supposed to be a Japanese girl, considering we only briefly see Motoko in a flashback/glitch ... Does Major need to be ethnically Asian? It would be a nice touch, yes certainly, but is it completely necessary? I don't think Major could be considered whitewashing of the same calibre when compared to the likes of a Jackie Chan movie being recast with a white actorTHAT is certainly white washing. Major is a cyborg character from an anime/manga, her race is ambiguous at best, the anime is Japanese but the characters aren't all necessarily Japanese themselves. Given the setting/locale, it would make sense for GitS to have more Asian actors, it certainly could have done this and probably should have, but targeting Motoko exclusively and not other characters like Cutter and Batou? I done a little googling and Kuze's character (played by Michael Pitt) was apparently modelled on a Half-Tiawanese/Japanese actor [sources [1][2][3][4] will search for more later]. Where is the outrage about Kuze (a confirmed Asian character in the original text) being played by a white dude? 

If Major is considered extreme white washing, I dread to think of the backlash of an actually confirmed Asian character such as Disney's Mulan (who is ethnically Chinese) being cast by a white actor. This isn't a clear-cut case of whitewashing, certainly debate worthy but perhaps we should be more critical in our criticisms because this isn't as simple as Emma Watson trading in Belle for Mulan or Pocahontas or Tiana, Ghost in the Shell is a "grey area", Mulan is clearly Chinese, did Ghost in the Shell warrant such an extreme reaction? Perhaps so, but where are the Kuze complaints? The fact that ScarJo/Major was the ONLY target in a film that could have had other roles filled by Asian actors seems fishy to me, it screams "I looked at the main character and started yelling without engaging in a little research and critical thinking". 
KUZE WAS WHITEWASHED, Major ...? It's not so simple, yet only one character was subject to ridicule, someone please explain this to me and don't pull the "she was the protagonist/main character" excuse because Kuze was also a significant character, until Cutter becomes the main villain, Kuze is Major's primary antagonist and he is described as appearing ethnically Asian although he, like Major, is a cyborg. If people applied the same standards to Major and Kuze I'd be utterly understanding, both are cyborgs, both were white washed, but the fact it's only Major means that the primary dissenters didn't investigate anything further than a trailer or an angry tumblr post.  

3. There is a lot more involved in a movie than the lead actress or even the casting department. Next time you complain about Hollywood whitewashing again, take a look at who is involved, think about people outside of casting and the main credits. Think of the local folks in Hong Kong (where filming took place) who depend on big productions to bring in money or boost the local industry. Why would the big Hollywood studios try something like this again if it fails first time? Why would they endeavour to make another GitS-esque movie, perhaps with an Asian lead next time when the first one bombed? The Hollywood Execs don't feel the pinch but the folks on the ground in Hong Kong could get hit hard by the controversy. 
I think of Northern Ireland and how Game of Thrones injected a lot into the local economy and really put NIScreen on the map. Because of Game of Thrones, NI began huge investments in developing its film industry, that's part of the reason I moved there. Because of GoT people actually consider filming in Antrim instead of Austria or Australia (or literally anywhere else, before GoT NI didn't get as much attention, now its on the map), and thats great for a small industry like Northern Ireland, it helps small artists and the large companies. So next time you boycott a film for white washing, take a look at who else you hit. ScarJo can jet set around the world to her next project but local cinematographers, gaffers, camera men, catering crew, runners, MUA's and everyone in between don't have that same luxury. The investment from GitS could have had a knock-on affect which helped a small-time director in Hong Kong make his or her big break. 

4. Leading on from point 3, some progress is better than no progress for Asian cinema and stories and representation. Hollywood was telling an Asian story, yes, the casting wasn't quite as diverse as most of us may have liked, but it was a step in the right direction. I get as frustrated as the next girl when I see movies attempt a feminist message but fall flat, but at the very least, each new movie is a step toward telling that awesome feminist story. I watched The Accused in one of my film classes, and of course, it was groundbreaking, but I also had a lot to criticise. Fortunately The Accused was quite powerful and successful, it's shortcomings were by in large outweighed by its strengths. My point is, yes, we want a perfect, diverse Hollywood and we want it NOW, but if we ignore every step toward that end goal, we never get there. GitS was far from perfect, but it was a start toward that goal. 
I want a Black Widow (and Bucky!!!) solo film(s), but mass-boycotting the MCU until they make it won't make that happen, it will only harm the MCU. 

There are other ways to promote diversity in film and that is to MAKE AND WATCH DIVERSE FILMS. Look at film festivals, you will find incredible stuff that you won't see from Hollywood studios here and now, and if you promote that stuff, Hollywood will watch and learn. Boycotting is one way to make an impact but you can be far more constructive and still make a difference. Look at Taika Waititi. NZ film industry is hardly comparable with the Hollywood Powerhouse BUTTTT, Taika is now directing Thor Ragnarok because Boy (2010) put him on the map and it stormed film festival circuits. Then he made Hunt for the Wilderpeople and he'd built up a great rep. Now a bloke of Jewish-Maori descent, from New Zealand, is directing a Marvel movie. Boycotting Age of Ultron didn't make that happen, massive support in NZ and overseas boosted Taika and he was noticed. If we want more POC directors, writers, actors and producers we have to put them on the map. Yeah, it's not fair that we have to do it this way, but right now, it seems to be the best way to change Hollywood. But by all means, complain and boycott all you like, a lot of these angry SJW's like to be angry, and while protesting and petitioning can be a bit of craic, a lot can be said for positive reinforcement rather throwing stones.

To cut a long story short, Ghost in the Shell probably isn't the best example of Hollywood whitewashing given that Major's physically a cyborg and her "ethnicity" is ambiguous. Despite her conscience being that of a Japanese girl, her physical appearance doesn't necessarily need to reflect this even though it would be desirable right? 

BUTTTTT GitS certainly could have included more POC or perhaps have cast an Asian lead. Given that the movie is said and done, they can't do that now, but we can learn from it and I think what we, the audience, need to learn is that boycotting and blaming ScarJo isn't the only/best approach. Hopefully the big Hollywood studios learned from this, but if not, I wish cinemagoers did. Channel your energy into supporting Asian cinema and actors. It doesn't cease to strike me as odd that these dissenters complain about wanting to see Asian actors and yet many do nothing to actively support Asian or even World cinema ... similarly, they complain about Major being white and not Kuze which tells me that 1. They didn't investigate they jumped on a whitewashing bandwagon, and 2. Basically they have no clue. 

I hate to call people ignorant, but that is ignorance, especially when all it took for me to figure this out was one quick google search. Before you criticise GitS for whitewashing Major, take a look at the other characters, Kuze whom has been described as ethnically Asian is played by a white guy but very few posts seem to point this out which would have made the white washing argument infinitely more credible. Leaving out this key point only undermines those who make very valid points about whitewashing. 

I'll stress, GitS certainly had some casting problems but the response from the audience was incredibly narrow and skewed. 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Pucker Up Powerfully!

I was wearing my NYX Cosmic Metals lippy today and, quite frankly feeling fabulous AF about it and after getting a wonderfully-wonderful grade on my presentation (it was about Captain America!!! so I gave it 200% effort) I was struck with the urge to write a blog post and I have no idea how I put the two together, but hey, Lipstick and Superheros, I’m down to clown with that.

I picked mostly NYX because I love the brand, its cheap, works well on my sensitive skin (the lipstick I mean, the eyeliner is a little harsher but I'm very sensitive), it's also SUPER vibrant and has crazy shades that are hard to find at affordable prices elsewhere. Also, since I moved to Belfast ... I've lost my mind for NYX products, they don't have any decent NYX outlets in the South so I'm OBSESSED while I have the chance to easily stock up on NYX. 

The eyeliner and liquid eyeshadow is great too, but the lipstick is the product I scoop up en masse from NYX. Without further ado, lets see what shades and styles I pair with each hero/villain. It's Marvel (as usual), but I'd dare to make a DC edition if people suggested heroes/villains for me to swatch!!! 


HELA, LOKI & AMORA


NYX Cosmic Metals in the shade "Out of This World". I have this shade strictly because LOOOOKIIII, but it certainly suits Hela and Amora the Enchantress just as well! It’s so fab, honestly you don’t need to wear ANY other colour in your outfit, just pair this lipstick with all black or an all white look and it’s ALL the glamour you need. Any shade of green is obviously a nod to these green-clad characters, but what makes Cosmic Metals so perfect for this trio of villainous magic-users is the shimmery metallic shine. It really does add a spark of magic to your lips. 


BLACK WIDOW

I know Natasha usually wears a leathery/PVC-shiny suit in the comics, but for some reason, she strikes me as the type to wear a matte lipstick. NYX liquid suede in Alien is just a matte black and it doesn't come off when you drink tea which is great not that Tasha spends all her time sitting around drinking Earl Grey.  I think she'd look great with a two-tone red/black ombre lip in a matte shade
I found some cool inspo on google, but really there are tonnes of cool ways to channel Natasha. A strong red lip, a strong black, or a combo of the two never fail!


WINTER SOLDIER

Silver or grey of course, something to contrast with those messy smudgy black racoon-eye makeup you simply MUST wear when channeling Brainwashed-Bucky! I thought NYX Macaron lippies in Grey Sesame done the trick. I adore this cool look combining the black and grey, both are NYX lipsticks.
Src: Crafty Lady Abby


HULKLING, SHE-HULK & THE HULK

I haven't tried Makeup Monsters before, but they have this crazy-cool style and selection and their entire site is SOLD OUT, so they must be pretty damn good. I'd love to try them out in the future. This shade is called GI Jane. 

Hulkling, She-Hulk and the Hulk are different to the other green-lippie-God's in that 1. They aren't Gods or Goddesses or Asgardians like Hela, Loki and Amora, 2. They aren't magic users, 3. Their green palettes tend to have lighter green shades rather than the deeper emerald and jade colours associate with Hela, Loki and Amora. 

Although Hulkling is a Kree-Skrull hybrid and in no way related to (human) Bruce and Jennifer (Hulk and She-Hulk) who are cousins, this trio share a similar palette. I think Hulkling has a slightly darker and earthier yellow-green shade where as Bruce and Jennifer have a lighter shade which leans closer to a mint green, then again, it depends on the comics colourists and style. Either way, they are closer related in their branch of the green family than the Asgardian bunch! GI Jane seems to lean close enough to both Hulkling and She-Hulk + The Hulk so I think it could work for all three.  


WICCAN


Couldn't mention Hulkling WITHOUT mentioning Wiccan, and after my latest Monthly Marvel Inspiration post (#5), I couldn't not include some makeup stuff for my favourite Sorcerer. NYX Cosmic Metals has a couple of blue and purply shades. I think Dark Nebula shade ticks all the right boxes, but you can't go wrong with any of the blue-toned Cosmic Metals, I think mixing a couple of shades together would also look cool. 



WASP

Wouldn't be Wasp if it wasn't vibrant yellow! I got this one (NYX Macaron Lippies in Citron) although I'm finding it hard to really work it into my makeup routine... I'm not that great at makeup, but it is a fantastic colour. A yellow eye paired with a black lip can work just as effectively as an alternative look if you can't work the yellow lipstick. A gold would be easier to pull off I think, but it wouldn't have the same "Wasp" effect as a nice vibrant lemon-yellow.


SONGBIRD

Songbird needs a vibrant, strong pink to match her hair and sonic wings. I think NYX Liquid suede in Pink Lust works a treat, it's such a shockingly-pink shade. 
Black and pink or white and pink ombre would look really cool. I like the white and pink a lot but theres lots of room to experiment with Songbirds shades. 



HAWKEYE


Kate Bishop AND Clint Barton both rock a strong purple! I also think Kate would work a matte/suede finish lipstick rather than shimmery/glittery, perhaps I only see the magic users wearing shimmer/glitter lipstick, that seems to be the case so far since Wiccan and Hela, Loki and Amora are the only heroes and villains I pair with metallics! 



MOONSTONE

NYX are releasing four more Cosmic Metals shades, I think the gold is perfect for Moonstone in her old look (white and gold) and also her current T-Bolts look. 
As for a red-Moonstone look, I have Urban Decay VICE liquid lipstick in the shade Trap, it's a beautiful crimson with a gold glittery fleck in it. The gold is subtle and the red suits her current T-Bolts look and it's TOTALLY SMUDGE PROOF once the colour sets. It's one of my all-time favourite lipsticks although at roughly €20 per lipstick ... It's an investment, I can get three or four NYX lippies for that price.

What's your favourite shade? What other heroes and villains do you think should have a lipstick shade? Do you buy lipsticks based upon the colour palettes of your favourite comic book characters? Is it weird that that's what I do?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Monthly Marvel Inspiration #5


After last months whopper post, I thought I almost deserved a break! Then I remembered that blogging takes dedication and I'm not exactly the worlds best blogger so I had to persevere and here we are!!! Yet another MMI.

*insert sneaky self-promotin here*, check out my Polyvore for more!!!

This edition is my fave former-Young Avenger, Billy Kaplan, a.k.a Wiccan!! He's basically me if I was a magical mutant dating an Alien-Prince-of-Space! Wiccan is geeky, like an uber-nerd and pretty damn stylish, he's also a half-twin like me and a brunette, so that means we're practically the same person right minus the whole reality warping chaos magic powers stuff! So I thought it would be fun to play with his signature style in a way you can wear every day. Since he has a few variations of looks, I decided to focus on key elements, so, space/galaxy prints, red and a palette that's largely limited to blues, blacks, silver and navy shades.

Avengers Academy introduced Wiccan, Hulkling and Cassie Lang (a.k.a Stinger) in an event not too long ago, Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) and America Chavez were introduced before Wiccan, Hulkling and Stinger. I love how Avengers Academy also play with the character designs in different level outfits. It's fun to level up your characters and watch them go from casual jeans-n-shirt sort of clothes to a variation (or sometimes exact copy) of their superhero suits from the comics.

I'm one step away from maxing out Wiccan's level so I'll have his Demiurge look woo! I really dig the concepts though, how wicked is his hoodie in the first and second sketches? I love the way the ties/button are to the side, asymmetry NEVER looks uncool. Avengers Academy sort of do what I do with my MMI, it's really fun to see how they play with various character outfits for different levels and events/costumes. 

I really dig the idea of retro-futurism and that sort of style so I attempted to bring in a bit of that because Wiccan seems the type of guy to dig retro stuff (his favourite movie is The Sound of Music which is older than he is so that something).


Wiccan MMI




I thought the spiffy jacket looked pretty retro, and the glasses, jewellery and fishnet tights. Serious old-school vibes yknow. So this look is a little quirky. I see a lot of these galaxy skater skirts and they're pretty hard to style to be quite honest. It's easy to just tone it down with blacks or whites and let the galaxy do the work, but superheroes usually get to look a little flashy so I threw in the red to make this outfit ... pretty damn loud. But hey, why the heck not. I really love the girly skirt paired with the rough-n-ready stompy Doc Martin boots and fishnet tights. Haven't seen fishnets in style for quite a while but they seem to be making a major comeback and I'm low-key excited!


Wiccan look



Okay, this is considerably more toned down. The black patent ankle booties pick up on that PVC/lycra-spandex sort of thing Wiccan's got goin' on. I know most of us wouldn't be brave enough to wear head to toe lycra-spandex, so kudos to heroes for doing it for us I'd give it a go for a convention maybe but lets be honest, it's not something you can wear every day. I knew I wanted to put gold shorts in this look but without the cheap/tin-foil-look booty shorts, so these dark gold metallic/glittery shorts are perfect. The gold is more brassy and dark kind of like Wiccan's, rather than a vibrant gold-gold, and the length is a bit more modest and everyday-wear-friendly. Paired with a peplum because they're flattering as all hell, and a long oversized red-cardi because we can't all wear capes every day. The cuffs and alice-band mimic Wiccan's wrist and head accessories and to introduce some of his signature blue/lightning magic theres some cute earrings with a similar shade gem in the middle! 


So there you have it, one wacky and one less-wacky Wiccan look. I sorta wish I didn't toss out my old peplum top now but I didn't know how to style it before. What a shame!!!

Who's up next month? I have no idea but now I want to do all of the Young Avengers (send help)! Stay tuned till then.