• kcvidkid

Movie Miscellany for the Old & New Years

Spoiler Alert: Although this editorial includes a few facts, it contains mostly opinions, which are neither right nor wrong, but are mine. (Also, I'm not nearly as old as I'm portrayed to be!)

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Spider-Man has done a number on me.

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There’s nothing about Spider-Man: No Way Home that I should not have absolutely loved. I’m both a movie fan and a comic book fan and it offers the best of both worlds in an incredibly clever way. However, I did not absolutely love it. I barely liked it.

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Spoilers

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It wasn’t because of spoilers… exactly. I actually knew none of the surprises, even ones that I now see publicized and read that people other than me knew ahead of time. (Don’t worry; there are more than the ones we’re reading.) Somehow the simple fact that I knew there were going to be spoilers… spoiled it for me.


There’s a fascinating article on /film by B.J. Colangelo called, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Spoilers (Thanks to Wrestling.) She makes a case that spoilers don’t ruin the experience of watching a movie. It’s more about the journey than the destination.

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Maybe it’s because I’ve never been interested in pro wrestling, but I haven’t reached the same state of enlightenment as Colangelo. I like surprises. There’s nothing like watching a movie when something happens that you don’t expect. I love twist endings. I often think about what it must have been like to see Psycho or Planet of the Apes without already knowing the end.

I’ve finished movies and thought I would have enjoyed them more if I hadn’t known ahead of time what was going to happen. That’s the fun and excitement for me. It’s not something new either. I’ve never been one to flip to the last page of a book.

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This leads me to my next topic...

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Facts & Opinions

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Colangelo argues that spoilers have nothing to do with a movie itself and whether a movie is good or bad. She’s right. Spoilers, as well as any other number of factors, don’t make a movie good or bad. A movie exists; it is what it is. However, here is the most important thing I’m going to say. Whether it’s good or bad… is an opinion.

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Everyone has one of those, and we’re entitled to them. They’re never wrong, but they may be different. You might state that technically, for example, a score plays constantly from beginning to end. That’s a fact; it’s objective. However, you may or may not enjoy it. That’s subjective.

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A movie is a movie. It’s not ours. It doesn’t change. It’s neither good nor bad. The experience of watching a movie is ours. It may change. Your opinion may be that it’s good or bad. It is neither right nor wrong; nobody has the right to tell you that it is. However, everyone has the right to offer one of their own.

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Misunderstanding may come from semantics. In high school journalism class, I was taught that in an editorial it’s redundant to say, “I think” or “in my opinion.” It’s understood because you’re writing the article. Everyone knows the words are coming from you.

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I wonder if people have forgotten this or don’t know it. If I say, “Spider-Man: No Way Home is a bad movie, I’m really saying, “I thinkSpider-Man: No Way Home is a bad movie.” We may think critics are being judgmental, but we must remember that they’re simply stating their opinions. We should never attack someone for their opinions.

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I’ve seen someone write, “It would have been better if…” Someone inevitably responds that the comment is invalid because you can only review the movie that exists, not one that doesn’t. However, we’re entitled to explain what would have made us enjoy a film more than we did.

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I’m breaking this down because I continue to read about negativity in fandom, about which I’ve written before. To those words, which I hope you’ll review, I’ll add that “in my opinion,” we sometimes mistake opinions for facts and foster the negativity which we claim to abhor. I must repeat the words, also, that life would be boring if all opinions were the same.

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I’ll close this section by reminding you of something I’ve often said on podcasts. Everyone can talk about movies, but I have one thing that no one else does: my opinion. In some ways, movie reviews aren’t about the movies at all. They’re about the people who talk about them.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home

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What Marvel has done with their cinematic universe is a remarkable achievement. When Nick Fury told Tony Stark in the post-credits scene of Iron Man:

You’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.

I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but good things don’t always last forever. 2021 was the year I started disconnecting. If not for Simu Liu, I would have had little desire to see Shang-Chi. I didn’t watch Black Widow until a few weeks ago. I barely remember The Eternals. I was not even excited to see Spider-Man: No Way Home… until the hype, of which I am always a victim.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a methodical machine pumping out formulaic product with increasing predictability. I’m not saying I don’t like the formula or that I don’t continue to be entertained by it; I’m saying I’m becoming less so.

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Remember that I’m a “DC Comics Guy.” I didn’t grow up reading Marvel, so none of my thoughts have anything to do with how the movie characters and stories relate to the source material. Of the cinematic Spider-men, I like Tom Holland very much. However, although I liked Doctor Strange, the movie, I don’t really like Doctor Strange, the character.

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I like the idea of a multiverse with different versions of characters. (Crisis on Infinite Earths, anyone?) However, the more magic becomes responsible instead of science, I start to lose interest. I did not like how the multiverse was opened in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

In general, I adore horror and science fiction, but become less enthused when elements of magic and “fantasy” are introduced. The story of No Way Home is built on magic and fantasy, as are, by the way, an increasing number of MCU films. I like the way this can open possibilities, but I don’t like the way this can rescue a plot from corners into which it becomes painted.

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On paper, the concept No Way Home reads like it would have huge emotional impact. Many have said on screen it does as well. For me, however, it was like the web-shooters of Peter Parkers from different universes… manufactured instead of organic.

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Don’t get me wrong; I experienced moments of pure joy in No Way Home. By the end, though, I felt like I had become immune to the mighty Marvel manipulation. These movies are products. For a moviegoing experience, I’ve come to prefer a different type of Benedict Cumberbatch film like The Power of the Dog, which was my favorite of the year.

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Marvel vs. DC... Comics vs. Movies

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Richard shared a meme with me this week:

Sure, it’s funny, and I’m loathed to disagree with my dear friend, but I’m not a DCEU fan that feels like I’m being choked by Brandon Routh (although under certain circumstances I’m not sure I’d be opposed to it.) With Marvel starting to repeat itself, the random, seemingly haphazard way that DC has treated its intellectual property is actually kind of refreshing.

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It’s certainly unpredictable and, if you’ve been reading closely, you know I like unpredictability and surprises. Movies, just like comic books, don’t have to be steeped in continuity. Marvel has been successful with it, but I don’t fault DC for giving up on it.

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There’s been an interesting juxtaposition with Marvel and DC. I grew up believing that Marvel comics had the good stories, but DC had the good characters. I now have an opposite belief about the movies. The MCU focuses on the characters and ongoing stories, each movie building on another. The DCU focuses on individual stories rather than ongoing characters and relationships.

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Is there even such a thing as the DC Entertainment Universe? Isn't that a designation that fans have placed upon it? At one time, they attempted to mimic Marvel, but have wisely jettisoned the approach. Maybe we should stop calling it the DCEU.

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I love continuity in my comic books. Some people don’t. That’s why there’s always been a debate and we have classic events like Crisis on Infinite Earths that conflict with modern strategies of, “everything that happened, happened.” Here’s where opinions enter again. They’re neither right or wrong, good nor bad. You’re entitled to have them.

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Demographics

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Finally, I have to face it. I no longer belong to the target audience for the movies being made. Neither Marvel nor DC is coveting my dollar (although they take every dollar they can get.) This breaks my heart because I vowed never to stop going to movies…

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At various stages of my life, I’d go to a movie with a partner and see an elderly couple walking hand in hand out of the theater. I’d say, “That’s going to be us. When we’re old, we’re still going to go to movies.” Granted, circumstances have changed, largely due to COVID19, but I don’t feel this way any longer (and it’s not because I don’t have a partner.)

I’m not the only one to predict that the theatrical experience is going to change in a post-COVID world. If big-budget comic book movies are the only ones that are going to make money, they’re the only type of movies that are going to get made and released in theaters.

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I don’t think other movies will cease being made, but I think they’ll be increasingly available in our own homes. For a lot of reasons, that doesn’t seem so bad to me right now. The question is, what impact will that make on my enjoyment of the big budget comic book movies once I finally watch them? Smaller scale, more intimate films may play better at home.

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2022

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Thankfully I’m nowhere near a phase where I don’t want to watch movies at all. In fact, this year I am going to arrive at a method of tracking what I watch, and what I thought about what I watched, in a shareable format.

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This isn’t because I believe anyone really cares about my opinion. It’s more because I’m forgetting what I’ve seen and whether I liked it. It’s got to be easier for me to reflect and remember.

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According to Letterboxd, a site I’m coming to love although not many friends or family use, I’ve already watched 17 movies in the first two weeks of 2022! I can slice and dice the data in various ways, which I really enjoy doing. If I commit to it, I hope you’ll join me.

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Enough about me! I thank each and every person that takes time to read my ramblings, whether here or on one of my other blogs. I appreciate you; you’re part of my moviegoing experience. That’s a fact. May you discover in the new year everything you desire.


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