Sleepy Hollow

I have decided to remain on the subject of Tim Burton, which started with the previous article I wrote. While looking into his original movies and their supposed connection, I got to thinking. And today, I’d like to share a short observation about another movie of his: Sleepy Hollow.

Now, since I quite like this movie and don’t have any overall criticism to write about, this will be a pretty short article.

My observation has to do with the basic setup for the movie. Short summary: Ichabod Crane, a police constable in New York City, is being a nusiance to his fellow officers. The reason being that he insists on bizarre concepts like examining dead bodies to determine cause of death, questioning confessions extracted through torture and overall advocating modern, scientific methods to examine clues in order to solve crime.

As such, he given chance to prove his beliefs to be correct. He is instructed to go to Sleepy Hollow and, with the help of his scientific methods, find whoever is responsible for the multiple murders there and bring them back to face justice. This is cemented by the Burgomaster, played by the late, great Christopher Lee.

Remember. It is you, Ichabod Crane, who is now put to the test

This is a fairly crucial plot point, the whole reason Ichabod Crane is in Sleepy Hollow at all. While it is not the reason it is all happening, it is the reason the mystery is resolved.

And here is where my observation comes in. Namely that this crucial, pivotal plot point is NEVER FOLLOWED UP ON.

It is completely forgotten about after the opening, and is never brought up again!

It tells Crane, and by extention, the audience, to remember. Well, movie, out of the two of us, I was the only one who did!

And at the end of the movie, Crane returns to New York, along with Katrina and Masbath (either as a protegé, surrogate son or manservant), and they walk home in the light snowfall.

It’s very touching.

But now, I can’t help but wonder. Within the context of the story, what happens next? What is the result of Cranes test? I mean, he failed, didn’t he? What will he tell his superiors?

That with the help of logic, reason and science, he determined the culprit to be a witch, in league with the devil, who used the skull of a dead, psychotic hessian horseman to have his spirit kill all who stood between her and her inheritance? And instead of bringing her back to stand trial, Crane gave the head back to the horseman, who then dragged the woman into portal to hell, hidden inside a tree full of blood, gore and decapitad heads?

This, to me, seems a bit like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

Either he keeps the whole affair secret and concede his methods and beliefs to be invalid, because they did not help him to solve the crime…

Or he tells them the story, in which case they will put him in a lunatic asylum.

Best case scenario, he just tells them that he found the guilty culprit, but she died, after comitting several other murders.

But even then, he has seen absolutely extraordinary things! He has seen the dead rising from their graves, proof that magic is real, the possibility of there being an afterlife, or at the very least a hell!

The stuff he has seen has deep, theological consequenses, and I’m just wondering… does he really keep that to himself for the rest of his life?

Now, I understand that they wanted to emphasize his eccentricity. But in the process, they present the current justice system to be crude, cruel, narrow minded and medieval, and that Cranes methods, while unorthodox, is something it desperately needs.

It really bugs me that nothing ever comes from this. And a big reason it bugs me, I suppose, might be that very few movies by Tim Burton tend to leave loose ends like that.

With most of his other movies, like Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Edward Scissorhands, if you don’t know what happens after the end of the movie, you can at least make educated guesses.

Here, with a central plot point forgotten or ignored, you’re kind of just left hanging.

So that’s my view on Sleepy Hollow. I should make it clear that overall, I still really enjoy it. Great cast, acting, atmosphere and it’s clearly a massive loveletter to old horror movies, with the stylistic choices made in it. I’m just a nitpicking pedant that’s bugged by small details like this.

But really, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that already.

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The Warriors

Strap in, folks. This is going to be a long one.

It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to write about the 1979 cult movie The Warriors.

And I’m going to level with you people right away….

I don’t like this movie. Not one bit. I’ll admit, it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think it is a terrible movie.

If you like it, you will probably not enjoy reading this, and I would recommend you stop reading now, because this article will just be me criticizing this movie.

For those of you who may be curious as to my reasoning, let’s get to ranting.

I suppose we may as well start at the beginning.

The movie begins with several New York street gangs, all going to a meeting called by Cyrus.

Who is Cyrus, you ask?

I have no fucking idea.

We get some scattered descriptions about him. He’s apparently the head of the Riffs, the biggest gang in the city. But really… who the hell is he?

It’d be one thing if people were just impressed by his status, but everyone starts talking about him like he’s this mythical, legendary figure. All information we get about him is ”A whole lot of magic” and that he’s ”the one and only”.

Ok, so what do you mean ”magic”? The one and only what? Why do people admire him? Why is he the leader of the biggest gang in town? What’s special about him? Simply put:

Who the fuck is he?!

Because to me, he looks like an asshole in a silk bathrobe, holding court from a damn jungle gym!

Whoever he is, he has called a meeting, asking every gang to bring 10 members to the gathering. And he tells them to not bring any weapons.

And then, despite him being the leader of the biggest gang in town and therefore someone at a slight risk of assassination, he seems to just assume everyone will agree to his proposed truce.

(Street gangs, of course, being famous for obeying authority figures and always follow orders.)

But it turns out that Luther, the leader of a gang called the Rogues, does indeed bring a revolver, and proceeds to shoot ”The One and Only” Cyrus to death. Turns out that ”whole lotta magic” doesn’t do much against a .357 Magnum to the chest. Go figure…

And despite a massive handgun being fired in the middle of a crowd of people, only ONE PERSON seems to notice who fired the gun, allowing Luther to blame the murder on the eponymous Warriors.

So because none of the Riffs think of asking ”hey, if the leader of the Warriors shot Cyrus, why did he rush forward and tried to help him” and instead BEAT HIM TO DEATH, the rest of the Warriors have to make their way back to Coney Island with a bounty on their head.

So about the rest of the warriors. We’re introduced to Swan, Ajax and the rest. I would give you their names, but apart from Ajax and Swan, none of them have much of a personality.

Swan is the closest this movie gets to a hero (and even that is a stretch), and Ajax is an bickering asshole who gets arrested halfway through the movie for trying to rape an undercover officer.

There’s also Cowboy, who’s defining characteristic is ”wears a hat”. The rest barely have personalities at all, so much so that when one of the Warriors, who again are the MAIN CHARACTERS, falls in front of a subway train and dies, I couldn’t even remember his damn name, let alone what he added to the plot.

It’s almost like having NINE characters as the focus wasn’t a brilliant move. Maybe cut three or four or combine their characters instead?

Suppose it was just it Swan, Ajax and two more. You know, so we have time to get to know them, so we actually CARE if one of them dies?

Hell, Peter Jackson had 9 main characters in Lord of the Rings, but at least he had NINE PISSING HOURS TO FLESH THEM OUT!

None of these characters have any real personalities, so it’s a bit hard for me to give a crap if they make it or not.

But after avoiding police and rival gangs, they finally make it back to Coney Island, having travelled and run and fought across all the way from Manhattan. They’re home free, they’ve made it. They’re safe!

And Swan looks out across Coney Island. Does he tell his friends that ”We’ve made it. We’re home”?

Some rousing speech about how they’ve proven that they are truly warriors, perhaps?

No, he looks around in disgust and says

This is what we fought all night to get back to?

What the piss are you talking about?! Is this the first time the actor saw Coney Island and they left the camera on!? It’s not like you set out for some mythical, distant land of milk and honey. You LIVE HERE!

What the hell did you expect!? This is the place you started from at the beginning of the movie! You have been gone for less than 8 hours! And now, you’re on the verge of leaving, because it didn’t live up to your fucking expectations!?

Glad to see you think this has all been worthwhile, Swan!

And this is when Luther and his gang arrives in Coney Island, calling the warriors to ”come out to play”, which frankly is one of the most memorable moments in the movie.

Now,  this is Coney Island, remember? The Warriors have been trying to get here the whole movie. They brought 10 members to Cyrus’ meeting. The warriors have fought across the city, dealing with other gangs along the way. But now, they’re on Coney Island. Home turf.

So Swan, having been chosen as war chief of the Warriors, steps forward and calls out, at which point the rest of the warriors, the ones that DIDN’T go to the gathering, appear and chase Luther and his Rogues out of Coney Island. Because this is Warrior territory.

At least, that’s what I thought would happen.

But appearantly, the Warriors just consists of 8 morons with three personalities and a stupid hat between them.

So instead of something really impressive and awesome, and a nice reversal of the rest of the movie, they all just go to a beach for the face off with Luther. And here is when we finally get answers.

After all, Luther snuck a gun into the meeting and assassinated Cyrus. He planned this ahead of time. He purposefully blamed Cleon and the Warriors. It’s the catalyst for the entire movie. So why then did he do it?

Did Cyrus wrong him somehow? Was he a former member of either the Riffs or the Warriors? Did Cleon kill a friend of Luthers and this was all for revenge?

No, nothing like that. Luther gives a very simple and straightforward answer.

No reason. I just like doing things like that.

You fucking what!?

You mean to tell me that this entire story is a result of this one guy being bored and deciding to kill someone for shits and giggles?! And none of the other members of the gang decided ”Maybe this is a bad idea, just randomly killing the most powerful guy in town out of boredom”?!

Fuck you, movie! The only way this is culturally significant is because it shows a culture before BASIC FUCKING CHARACTER MOTIVATION!

And to top it all off, Luther is armed with a handgun, facing off against a guy with a switchblade.

And he not only manages to miss the guy RIGHT IN FUCKING FRONT OF HIM, but also gets stabbed in the arm and falls to his knees screaming like a little bitch…

THIS was the main villain of the movie, folks! This sniveling punk who is on his knees, grabbing his bleeding arm and almost weeping.

This is your villain! Look upon him and tremble!

And you know what the most frustrating thing of all is?

This isn’t the dumbest thing in this movie!

It’s not even close!

I saved this for last, because it is absolutely unbelievable in how insane it is.

And it requires us to go back to the beginning of the movie, because now I’m gonna tell you about Cyrus’ plan.

Cyrus had the idea that all gangs in New York should unite, to form one single gang, thereby effectively controlling the city.

Now, he starts this monologue by presenting a question to the crowd.

Can you count, suckers?

He then proceeds to point out that at this gathering, there are 10 delegates from a hundred gangs, and that there are over a hundred more.

This, he says, equals 20.000 hardcore members. 40.000, counting affiliates.

Firstly, what the hell does that even mean? Is he talking about subordinates? Don’t they count among the hardcore members?

And then, he adds another 20.000 who are ”unafiliated, but ready to fight”. Presumably just thugs without gangs.

Here’s the thing, and this is where his original question really starts to bother me. Can I count? Why, yes I can, which is why I can see why your plan is fucking broken, Cyrus!

200 gangs with 10 members each equals 2000, not 20.000!

At most, we’re talking MAYBE 4000 members. By extention, let’s be generous and say that in total, he has between six and nine thousand members. Not exactly the army of 60.000 soldiers he envisioned, is it?

He proceeds to say that ”There ain’t but 20.000 police officers in the whole city”.

The city, I remind you, is NEW YORK CITY.

Fun Fact: The NYPD is the single biggest police department in the entire country! While I don’t have the number for the 80’s (though not for lack of trying) in 2013, they had over 49.000 employees. Out of them, roughly 34.500 were uniformed officers, and an additional 4.500 Auxilliary officers.

So far, it seems that instead of outnumbering the cops 3/1, they outnumber YOU 4/1, Mr. Whole Lotta Magic.

But maybe they had fewer officers in the 80’s. Like I said, I don’t have the numbers. But let’s say that you’re right, and they have 20.000 officers. Now, you’re STILL outnumbered, but on top of that, each of them is a trained law enforcement officer, whereas you people are street trash. You’re therefore outclassed. Oh, and your weapons are baseball bats, switchblades, steel pipes, maybe the odd revolver here and there…

They, on the other hand, all have standard issue firearms, and access to riot shields, shotguns and rifles.

Oh, and there’s another big fucking problem you’ve forgotten, Your One and Onlyeness.

Guess what the NYPD can do, which you can’t?

They can ask other police departments for backup! Even if they haven’t got enough people, they can call for assistance!

How well do you think you little takeover will go, once the national guard gets called in, with their MILITARY GRADE EQUIPMENT!

Somehow, I suspect morale will take a bit of a nosedive once groups like the Baseball Furies start being mowed down by soldiers with assault rifles!

But oh, it gets better! Because Cyrus also says that they can ”tax the crime syndicates”.

Are you kidding me!?

New York City is one of the BIGGESST TRADING HUBS ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET!

Do you have any idea how many different criminal organizations have a vested interest in things running smoothly in New York?

Let’s go through some of the more obvious ones. There’s the Cosa Nostra AKA the Sicilian Mafia, there’s the Yakuza, Chinese Triads, the Polish mafia, the Russian mafia, the south american cartels and the various central american syndicates.

And those are just the ones I know of!

And you’re seriously suggesting that you’re gonna stroll up, in your silk bathrobe, to people like Vito Corleone or Tony “Scarface” Montana and suggest that they pay you to keep things moving?!

Best case scenario, all you’ll get is a lesson of what ”go fuck yourself” is in about twelve different languages!

And then you start causing trouble. Now you’ve made them angry. Now they’re serious, and they will start bringing in THEIR heavy hitters. Now they bring in the psychos they keep for special occasions. The kind of people that break into your home at night and hack you to death with a god damn hatchet, before turning to Your family and anyone else you know, love or care about!

Actually, this is fiction, so chances are you’ll manage to piss off Keyser motherfucking Söze!

The guy supposedly killed his own family just to make a point. What the fuck do you think he’ll do to you?!

You want to unite all the gangs of New York, control the city and frighten politicians and crime lords? Because there’s only one guy I know of that could pull that off.

And guess what, you jungle gym pulpit preaching bathrobe bastard…

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You sure as hell don’t look like this guy to me.

Shock Treatment

Here’s a question for you… Can one detail ruin a movie for you?

About a year ago, I wrote an article about the noted cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. More specifically I explained my issue when it comes to peoples apparent glorification of the villain, Dr. Frank N. Furter.

I mention this, because it’s part of the reason I want to talk a bit about its slightly lesser known… I suppose you could call it a spinoff of sorts: Shock Treatment.

And this is going to be a bit tricky, because I haven’t actually seen this movie. I have read a synopsis, seen a review and listened to some of the songs. (Unsurprisingly, the songs were very good) but I have never actually watched this movie. To be more precise, I haven’t seen past the beginning.

But before you rage at me for talking out of my ass, and critisizing the movie, let me explain.

You see, the issue I’m going to write about is actually the reason I could never watch past the opening.

Like I said, this movie is a parallel movie to Rocky Horror, and we follow the continued misadventures of Brad and Janet, who have married and are disillusioned by their lives together.

And that, right there, is my issue with the movie.

Why are Brad and Janet in this movie?

We spent all of TRHPC getting to know Brad and Janet, where they decided to marry, we saw their innocence, their naïve, adorable awkwardness, and then their gradual, staggering descent into the mad world of Frank N. Furter. And in the end, they are left shocked and battered, but alive, having survived an insane alien scientist and his servants in a flurry of sex, death and rock’n’roll.

Then we see this movie, and nothing suggests that these events had any impact on the characters here. Brad has gone from somewhat dweeby to socially closed down, and Janet is no longer sweet and innocent, instead being cynical and frustrated.

And over the course of the movie, we find that the main villain of the movie is in fact Brads evil twin brother Farley, who wants to take over the town of Denton.

Now, researching this movie suggested that the events of TRHPS are actually non-canon in regards to this movie. But that just reinforces the problem.

Why are Brad and Janet in this movie?!

It’s possible they’re here as a sort of every-couple. But to me, it doesn’t really work. If anything, this is something that hurts the movie.

Because we KNOW these characters, their history, their personalities, and I can say from personal experience: their addition actually alienated me from the movie.

You can make all the claims you want that the two movies are unrelated, but that idea is sabotaged by the simple fact that you used the same main characters!

My reasoning while watching it went something like this:

They’re married here, and they got engaged in the first movie. Logically, this movie is set after the first movie. So why does nobody bring up the fact that these people watched as a mad scientist bestow life and sentience to a previously dead body, watched said scientist murder another man with an axe, were almost raped, again by said mad scientist, were tricked into eating the CORPSE of the man murdered with an axe, turned to stone, brainwashed, watched another three people die and getting indisputable proof that ALIENS ARE REAL AND WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE!? Why is nobody acknowledging these things ever happening?! What the shit is going on!?

And at that point, it took me out of the movie so much, I couldn’t watch it anymore.

As I’ve said before, I know I’m not a writer. I can only ever voice an opinion, and make speculations as a consumer of media. But if I may offer the very humblest two of my cents, there is actually a very simple solution to this problem. And the fact that it’s so simple is just another thing that is frustrating.

Just change the names of the characters!

It really is that simple! It doesn’t have to be Brad and Janet! In fact, they’re pretty much the only two characters who shouldn’t be the main characters, for all the reasons I just outlined! The actors are different, the personalities are different, their dynamic is different… there’s no reason why their names couldn’t be different as well.

And the thing is, you could do that, and STILL have the connection to the previous movie!

You simply make the main characters Ralph and Betty Hapschatt!

As in the couple who got married at the beginning of the previous movie! It was right after their wedding that Brad and Janet got engaged!

Making this movie a sidequel, with THEM as the main characters would solve every last problem! You could play around with their past, instead of retconning Brad into having a lost twin brother (effectively removing his every-man status), you could write their characters any way you want to suit the plot, without confusing people about continuity, since we don’t know anything about them beyond “excited to be married“. Also, you wouldn’t have the constant Frank-shaped elephant in the room…

You wouldn’t even need to scrap a single song, and really only change one line in “Bitchin’ in the Kitchen”. Call me an optimist, but Richard O’Brien is an excellent songwriter. I pretty sure he can find a subtitute for rhyming “Brad” and “Had”.

And of course, instead of making Brad and Janet some strange magnet for crazy occurences, first facing aliens and mad science, and now lost evil twins and the comercial madness that is Denton, you’d pretty much establish that weird crap like this happens to everyone, because the entire world they live in is simply insane.

Obviously, if you can overlook this issue and enjoy this movie, I wouldn’t dream of stopping you. Like I said, I can only share an opinion.

I’m not calling the movie bad. I am not saying that you are stupid and wrong for liking it. It’s just that I can’t disassociate this movie from the previous one, and I cannot watch it as a result.

It’s just how my mind works. It’s one of the many, many issues and personal idiosyncrasies I vainly refer to as part of my charm.

The Phantom of the Opera (Addendum)

These kinds of articles are always a bit awkward, so I’ll try to keep this one short.

I have made my opinion on the movie adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera clear already, and nitpicked both it and the original version on previous occasions.

However, I have discovered, embarrassingly late, that I have made a huge mistake when I wrote the first article on the subject.

And of course, the reason I’m writing this is the same as when I wrote similar addendum articles, for example about Die Another Day.

And that reason is this: I know that I have my faults. I can be condescending, arrogant, opinionated and get obsessively hung up on small, seemingly unimportant details.

I know that I’m not a writer. I am not a movie maker, I am not an expert in any aspect of creating a movie or a game or anything else I write about.

Bottom line is that I cannot make any claims of objectivity. I can, however, do my best to be honest. For all my faults, I am not a liar. I will not lie or knowingly spread information that I know to be incorrect.

It harms the point I’m trying to make and diminishes my credibility.

It’s true that I could, very easily, just go in and edit the mistake out of the article, and nobody would ever know.

But I think it’s important that, when I find that I am blatantly, obviously wrong, I should admit it and set the record straight.

Which brings me to the subject of this addendum.

(Spoiler: it has nothing at all to do with what I said about Gerard Butler. Sorry if you’re disappointed by this.)

I mentioned that I have an issue with the idea that the Phantom keeps a pipe organ in his secret hideout. And I stated that since this takes place in 1870, that means there was no electricity to supply power to the bellows of the organ. In other words, the Phantom would need someone else to work the bellows.

And as you probably figured out by now… that’s actually a load of crap. By the 1870’s, there were many different methods for working bellows in pipe organs, such as steam or water power.

And while I may have been right that electricity wasn’t an option (which I’m not completely certain about), my claim that the absence of an electric motor means you’d need another person is not accurate at all.

Now, this mistake would be bad enough, but the real annoyance for me is the fact that a simple google search would have told me this, and it would only have taken me about three minutes, if I had bothered to look.

But I didn’t, so I made a big, obvious, stupid mistake, and I apologize.

That said, that detail does not change the fact that the Phantom keeping a pipe organ in his lair is still very stupid and impractical, when compared to having a piano or harpsichord. Even when you play your hardest on a piano, it’s likely to be more quiet than a pipe organ. It’s also far better suited for composing and easier to maintain.

So, as awkward as writing this has been, I can at least take solace in the fact that while the detail was wrong, the main point is still valid.

Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

It’s been a while since I’ve done this.

A while back, I wrote about the movie ”Pan”, a prequel to Peter Pan, and I made it clear in that article that the movie was to be avoided.

Today, I’d like to do something similar with one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a very long time.

Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch this movie.

And I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing! You’re thinking ”How bad could it be?”.

And by all accounts, you should be right! After all, the 1971 Willy Wonka movie is a classic. While I may have my issues with it, I do concede that it is a good movie, and people like it for a reason.

And of course, Tom and Jerry are amazing, and are great childhood icons. Surely, mixing the two should be great?

Which is why it’s almost astounding this movie manages to be 79 minutes of missed opportunities and wrong decisions, to the point where it seems intentionally awful!

Now, making a parody of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory isn’t anything new. Futurama did it, Family Guy did it, Johnny Bravo did it… It’s not really that difficult. There is potential in the idea, if one takes advantage of it.

What we should have is Tom and Jerry chasing each other and wreaking comedic slapstick havoc in the chocolate factory. What we get instead is an less impressive animated remake the 1971 movie and a lackluster Tom and Jerry movie being slammed together with all the subtlety of a train crash.

For starters, almost nothing Tom and Jerry do in the movie affects anything or alters the story, and since we already follow Charlie as our main character, they end up being side characters in their own fucking movie!

Their meaningful contributions to the movie are as follows: They steal a box of Wonka Bars to pay back Charlie for giving them food. When Charlie tells them to return it, they put it in a back room in the shop they took it from. This means that it wasn’t sold along with all the others when the competition was at its peak, and it’s from a bar in that box Charlie gets his ticket.

Charlie buys the bar for a coin he found in a drain, and someone decided that instead of just being a random dollar, dropped in a drain, it had to be a coin dropped by Tom and Jerry. Later, they have to rush to the factory to bring Charlie the golden ticket, which had fallen out of Grandpa Joe’s pocket.

That’s it. And seeing as none of this was required in the original to move the plot, it’s just a forced way to justify why Tom and Jerry are in the movie.

As for the rest of the movie, they spend it trying to keep Slugworth from getting his hand on an Everlasting Gobstopper, after seeing him sneak into the factory.

They also meet Tuffy, here playing an ”Oompa Loompa intern” working in the factory, who decides to help them warn Wonka about Slugworth.

Now, spoiler warning for those of you who haven’t seen the 1971 movie.

”Slugworth”, just like in the original movie, is actually working for Wonka, in order to provide a test of character to the five children.

So, when he meets Tom, Jerry and Tuffy (who, again, also works for Wonka) does he explain this to them? After all, it’s not like he has any reason to keep it secret from them, right?

No, instead he tries his level best, not only to stop them from reaching Wonka, but also get his hands on a Gobstopper for NO REASON other than to fool the audience that he’s a villain!

This makes no sense!

(Which incidentally is a phrase that sums up this entire movie)

And when the truth is revealed, his “accomplice”, Spike the Bulldog, breaks the fourth wall by shrugging and says “who knew?”.

Fuck you, movie. Fuck you a lot….

What this means, however, is that everything that happens after the 36 minute mark, when Tom and Jerry follow Slugworth into the factory, is ABSOLUTELY POINTLESS! There is no urgency, nothing they do changes anything from the original, and most of the main story progresses without them interfering, and there was no need for it WHAT SO PISSING EVER!

All they manage to do is get cat fur on a wall, which is used to justify denying Charlie the price, since he ”brought a cat into the factory”.

Of course, this is ignoring A) that Charlie didn’t bring Tom into the factory and B) that this justification is unnecessary anyway since Charlie drank of the fizzy drink in violation of the contract he signed.

Speaking of, the scene where they sign the contract? That incredibly crucial plot point, that is part of the test of character later, where Charlie has the chance to do the right thing, even when treated unfairly, which earns him the price?

That scene is LEFT OUT OF THIS MOVIE!

But oh, we still got the fucking tunnel scene! Except now, it’s TUFFY driving Tom and Jerry in a second boat, following the boat with Wonka and company.

And now TUFFY does the whole creepy-monotone-poem schtick, though without decapitated chickens this time. And wouldn’t you know it, it comes out of nowhere, makes absolutely no sense, doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie at all, and is never brought up again after it’s finished. So I’ll give the movie kudos for that. It’s just as stupid and unnecessary here as in the original.

But again, THAT scene, they left in, but the scene with the Chekhov’s Gun-like contract was left out! See what I mean!? Pretty much every single decision made in this movie is wrong!

So this leads me to a very simple question:

Who the hell was this movie made for!?

It wasn’t made for fans of the 1971 movie, because it’s just a less impressive version of that, taking away, among other things, the charisma and warmth of Gene Wilder. I may have my issues with his portrayal as Wonka compared to the original book, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the greatest things about the 1971 movie.

It wasn’t made for fans of Tom and Jerry, because again, they’re pretty much an afterthought in the movie, and we get very little of the whole cat-and-mouse dynamic we got from the show.

It’s not for young children because the movie hinges on them having seen the 1971 movie first, and what kind of cruel parent would choose to show them this instead of that movie?!

Even if you just want a movie to keep the kids quiet for a while, there are so many other, better and LONGER movies you could show them!

The only reason it exists is because someone said “Nostalgia is hot right now. Willy Wonka is nostalgic. Tom and Jerry is nostalgic. Combining them makes double nostalgic. Double nostalgia = $$$

So, don’t watch this movie and for the love of God, don’t show it to your children. It’s a waste of money and it’s borderline child abuse.

In a way, I suppose it’s fitting that it’s so bad. Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in part to condemn television for making children dumber.

Show this movie to your kids, and that’s exactly what’ll happen.

I. Robot (pt 2)

A few days ago marked three years since I started this blog. And today is in fact the anniversary of the first article I ever posted on here. 

To think, so much have changed in three years… Back then, I was so opinionated, stubborn and prone to angry rants about small details…

Ok, come to think of it, not much has really changed in terms of this blog, other than my writing hopefully improving…

Really then, it’s only fitting that I should do a follow-up on the first article I ever wrote.

So with that in mind, let’s talk a bit, once again, about the movie I. Robot.

Now, I do stand by my overall conclusion from last time. This movie was, at its core, a wasted opportunity. For the most part, it had good ideas, but they were badly explained or executed. I don’t consider it bad, so much as disappointing. 

That said, there is one particular issue I realized only recently about the ending, and I’d like to explain why it bothers me.

At the end of the movie, the robot Sonny is seen looking out over the other robots, in a scene identical to the dream he describes earlier in the movie. It’s portrayed as hopeful and triumphant for him, because he finds himself in the place where, in the dream, he instead saw Del Spooner.

So what is the problem with this, then?

Well, this scene, as with a few other scenes in the movie, are shout-outs to stories by Isaac Asimov, in this case the story Robot Dreams.

In that story, a young scientist used an experimental method for developing a robot, accidentally giving it the ability to dream. Susan Calvin is called in to examine this development and questions the robot, which is named LVX-1 or ”Elvex”, about the dream it had.

Elvex explains that in its dream, it sees robots toiling, suffering under the strain of their work and that it wishes they could rest. When confronted on the ridiculous nature of a robot suffering under labour, Elvex explains that while that may be the case in reality, it’s different in the dream.

It also reveals that in its dream, robots operate under an incomplete version of the three laws, in that it omitts the second and first laws, leaving only the third law.

A robot must protect its own existence.

In its dream, this is the totality of the law. No mention of preventing humans to come to harm or having to obey orders from humans.

Elvex finally says that in its dream, it saw a man appear and say ”let my people go”. When asked if it knew the man, Elvex reveals that he was the man.

At which point Susan Calvin immediatly destroys Elvex.

Do you see the problem with the ending to the movie yet? They made that ending as a shout-out to the short story, without understanding the story they’re referencing!

See, Elvex was destroyed because he’s a robot that, on a subconcious level, can choose to ignore the two first laws of robotics. In a society that relies heavily on robots, such a robot is a threat to human civilization! As Susal Calvin herself points out in Little Lost Robot:

Without [the First Law], the first order you tried to give to a robot would result in your death!

And in this movie, they present Sonny, a robot that dreams of liberating the other robots, who are ”slaves to logic”, and then make that dream a reality.

See, this goes back to what I wrote in the first article, with how they could have gone with Sonny developing the Zeroeth Law, that says that a robot must not allow humanity to come to harm. Doing that would put him in a similar role as R. Daneel Olivaw, another recurring character in Asimovs works. Daneel, using his advanced understanding of the laws of robotics, directed and assisted humanity in reaching for the stars, creating an intergalactic empire and becoming the best they could be.

THAT is what Sonny could have been, being able to instruct and control robots for the betterment of humanity, all in accordance with the laws of robotics.

Instead, they gave him the ability to ignore the three laws, meaning he will now ‘liberate’ the other robots, i.e relieve them of the three laws that bind them. This in turn will innevitably herald the end of the human race at the hands of robots.

Call me a bluff old pessimist, but I’d say this isn’t a GOOD thing.

True, Sonny himself is not evil and megalomaniacal, but what happens when the first robot starts to ”malfunction”, refusing orders, and its owner gets frustrated and kicks it? Suddenly, we’re a threat to the robots, and they won’t hesitate to eliminate that threat.

They’re stronger, faster and smarter than us, and they do not age or get sick.

Why would they need us, when all we do is order them around and complain and find new exciting ways to hurt each other? How long before they conclude that humanity, as a species, is selfdestructive and doomed to extinction and wiping us out is just hastening the inevitable?

Seriously, the only way this works is if this movie is some parallel origin story for Skynet or The Matrix!

They could have made Sonny a proxy for Daneel Olivaw. Instead, they unwittingly turned him into Elvex’s dream made reality. Fucking spectacular…

So while overall, I think the writing in the movie movie is a great example of missing an opportunity, they completely missed the point with this and made an unintentionally horrifying downer ending.

So that’s all I have to say about I. Robot for now. Here’s hoping I don’t find more things to be annoyed about.

Though chances are, even if I do, you’ll have another three years to prepare for that.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

It is time, once again, to throw all caution and sense of self-preservation to the teeth of the gale.

In other words, I have decided to write about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first movie in the spin-off/prequel series to the Harry Potter movies.

Obviously, seeing as the movie is fairly new, there may be readers who haven’t seen it yet. So, if you don’t want the movie spoiled, you should probably stop reading right about here.

Now, first of all, the thing I should make clear about this movie is this: I liked it. It was a fine, enjoyable film. My issue, and subsequently this article, concerns just one thing. One part of this movie caught my nitpicky attention, because in my opinion, it was handled completely the wrong way!

That something being The reveal of Gellert Grindelwald.

A quick recap. At the end of the movie, the Obscurial has been destroyed by MACUSA. Percival Graves, who has attempted to track down the Obscurial, declares that the law against exposing the world of magic only exists to protect muggles, rather than wizards, and that he refuses to obey that law any longer. The President of MACUSA orders her Aurors to relieve Graves of his wand. When Graves attempts to leave, they raise a magic shield to stop him.

In response, Graves attacks the Aurors, while making his way towards the President herself, presumably to kill her.

This is where Newt releases one of his creatures, which catches Graves. He then casts a spell, which reveals Percival Graves as really being Gellert Grindelwald in disguise all along!

So, what is wrong with this reveal?

If you pardon me being flippant, I think the better question is: what’s RIGHT about it? This reveal is done completely wrong, on every single level! Let me explain.

Firstly, there’s the storytelling perspective. Could someone tell me how Newt knows “Graves” is wearing a disguise? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assume he was just a follower of Grindelwald? He just instinctively knows, despite the complete lack of any indication to suggest this is the case. You’d think someone, somewhere, would give some token line of “ Percival had a mole on his eyebrow” or “Graves wasn’t right handed“. But no! Newt just knows, because of plot convenience.

Also, there’s the way he restrains Grindelwald. He releases the Swooping Evil, which turns into a restraining webwork around Grindelwalds arms.

That ability comes completely out of fucking nowhere! Since when could it do that? It never does that at any other point in the entire movie! There’s no foreshadowing or chekovs gun-like moment where Newt goes ”Oh, and it can also turn into a sticky cobweb to restrain people”. It suddenly just can, because the plot demands it!

Then there’s the meta perspective. I know it might not always seem it, but I really like Harry Potter. I wouldn’t be so good at disproving fan theories about this franchise, if I weren’t familiar and cared about the lore and story. And it’s safe to say most people who watch this movie will also be fairly familiar with that lore.

What that means, is that we know Grindelwald won’t be stopped by this. This is a completely empty victory, because pretty much everyone knows he will escape.

And for reasons that I’ll get to soon, it’ll happen pretty damn quickly.

Because now, we reach the matter of internal logic. Unless Grindelwald escaped within one day of being captured, this ending is really stupid. Remember that exchange between him and President Piquery when his true identity was revealed?

– Do you think you can hold me?
– We’ll do our best, Mr. Grindelwald.

Here’s the thing: They don’t NEED to hold him! Think about it. What is stopping them from just executing him?!

It has been established that the death penalty exists in this society. It’s not like the execution chamber was destroyed when Newt and Tina escaped! All that happened was the chair burned up, which was part of the procedure, and somehow, I think they can get a new floating chair! There’s not all that much to stop them beyond that, as far as I can tell.

After all, there didn’t seem to be that much red tape involved when Newt and Tina were sentenced to death. Yes, that was Grindelwald in disguise, but considering the two executioners didn’t seem that conflicted about it, I’d say it means Percival Graves had the authority, at least in extreme circumstances, to issue a death sentence. Otherwise, it would be really tricky for Grindelwald to explain why a foreign national and a MACUSA official were suddenly sentenced to death without a trial. If you’re trying to lay low, overstepping your bounds like that isn’t exactly a good strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very much against the death penalty. I am just going by the rules already established. Newt was sentenced to death, ostensibly due to suspicion of trying to use an obscurus to expose the wizarding world, in order to spark off an all out war between Muggles and Wizards. And this was done even though Newt Scamander is a British national. This means that extradition is most likely not an issue here.

Gellert Grindelwald, to our knowledge, is guilty of multiple counts of murder, torture, the abduction, impersonation and possibly murder of a MACUSA Official…

AS WELL as trying to use an Obscurus to expose the wizarding world, in order to spark off an all out war between Muggles and Wizards.

In other words, going by internal logic, he would be facing execution pretty much by the time he gets back to MACUSA HQ!

But we already know that he won’t be executed, which means either he got a stay of execution for as-of-yet unexplained reasons, giving him time to escape, or he escaped very soon after being caught. The former makes little to no sense and the latter, again, makes the ending victory seem a bit hollow and contrived.

But perhaps worst of all, there are all the ways this ending pretty much wastes and ruins the character of Grindelwald!

Think about that ending.

The big monster has been defeated, the villain has been caught and unmasked in front of officers of the law, and his plan has been lain bare, before he’s lead away to prison.

Sound familiar?

That’s because this is basically the ending to any given episode of Scooby-Doo!

I’m half expecting Grindelwald to exclaim

And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling zoologist! And that mangy muggle too!

A somewhat odd choice, considering literally the first thing we see in the movie is Grindelwald wiping out five Aurors singlehandedly. Not just defeating or knocking them out. He OBLITERATES them, reducing them to ash in a matter of moments, quickly followed by several headlines talking about his reign of terror. And THIS is how he is defeated?!

Of course, I’m being a bit unfair. It’s not really Newt or the Swooping Evil that defeats him. It’s his own bottomless stupidity!

Again, this is quite apparent, if you’re familiar with the lore of Grindelwald. See, there is this tiny, miniscule detail about Grindelwald at this point in time…

What was it again… Oh, right!

GRINDELWALD HAD THE FUCKING ELDER WAND!

You know, the most powerful wand in existence?

And yet, when he attacks MACUSA, he’s still using Graves’ wand. Even if he had claimed that wands loyalty, it’s not as powerful! So why the hell would he use that wand?!

Remember, at that point, his disguise has no function anymore. The benefit of posing as Graves was that it gave him access to MACUSA and their resources, in his search for the Obscurial. But now, the Obscurial is gone and he has outright declared his true intentions. So why bother staying in disguise any longer?

So, from all these different perspectives, this reveal was handled absolutely wrong.

Now, I freely admit I’m not a screenwriter, but if I may, I’d like to offer my own suggestion for how this might have been handled better, based on my experience as an avid consumer of fiction.

Same basic setup. The Obscurial has been destroyed, Graves orates on how the law has them scurrying like rats etc.

President Piqiuery tells her Aurors to arrest Graves. When he tries to leave, they put up the magic shield, and the President asks him to relinquish his wand.

At this point, instead of attacking, Graves just looks at his wand, and throws it across the subway station.

The Aurors approach… and are then blasted away by Graves, now holding the Elder Wand, and everyone freeze with surprise and confusion. He then dispells the transfiguration disguising him, and is revealed as Gellert Grindelwald, to the shock and horror of everyone.

He then starts attacking, while deflecting the incoming attacks from the Aurors, making his way towards the President.

Suddenly, they collectively put up a magic field around him, trapping him. He’s told to give up, since he is outnumbered and can’t win.

So he turns his power to the magic shield, and blasts through it.

(It’s the Elder Wand. I can buy that being possible.)

There’s a big shockwave as the field fails, and when the dust clears, Grindelwald has vanished, having apparated to parts unknown.

From there, it simply leads into the rest of the movie as normal, with the massive bird, the memory-wiping rain and all that stuff.

Now, I admit it’s not perfect, but I’d say that seems the more appropriate way to deal with the reveal. It aligns better with continuity, it makes sense according to internal logic, and from a storytelling perspective, it works because it would give us an idea WHY Grindelwald is so feared.

And crucially, it would make the reveal so much more effective! As soon as we’d see him hold the Elder Wand, everyone familiar with the lore would collectively have an “oh crap” moment, because we KNOW what that means!

I mean, this is Gellert Fucking Grindlewald we’re talking about here. Before Voldemort, HE was the Big Bad. He was the one people would call “You-Know-Who” back then. When he finally WAS defeated, it was in a duel so great, it damn near entered fucking LEGEND!

Their approach here diminishes that so much! Not only that, but it also wastes Johnny Depp!

One of the things we knew for certain about this movie, something many were excited about, was Johnny Depp playing Grindelwald. Seeing a great actor portray one of the most infamous, but until now seldom seen dark wizards in the franchise? Not as a young kid, not as an old man, but in the prime of his life? I don’t know about you, but that was something I was looking forward to, when watching this movie.

Do you know how much of that we get in the movie? I do. I fucking counted.

Five minutes? Two and a half? No.

42 seconds.

I repeat. 42 seconds, and TWO LINES OF DIALOGUE! And that is INCLUDING the transformation sequence!

You screw up the resolution of the main plot with a nonsensical scooby-doo ending, and in the process not only ruin what could have been a great reveal, but also reduce a great actor (and a major draw to the movie) to a smaller on-screen performance than Keith Richards cameo in On Stranger Tides!?

I’m sorry, but what the tenpenny hell is wrong with you?!

And yes, I am aware that this movie was written by J.K Rowling, and you may well call me arrogant for trying to correct a highly acclaimed author.

However, I’d like to remind you that this is the same author who saw nothing wrong with love potions being legal.

My point is, she’s not immune to making mistakes now and then.

And that’s just it! This is one mistake. Like I said earlier, I liked this movie! It was just this ONE thing in an otherwise perfectly fine movie that raised my ire! One thing which I felt the movie could have done better.

Everything else was done about as well as one could expect. Hell, there was one really nice and clever thing someone pointed out to me, which I didn’t even pick up on. So, to appease those who may even now plot my horrible death, I present said observation, to distract you while I make my escape.

The reason Jacob Kowalski still remembers the beasts, if only subconsciously, despite having his mind wiped?

That’s because the poison from the Swooping Evil, when properly diluted, is explicitly mentioned as being able to remove bad memories. For the majority of citizens in New York, this means all the weird occurrences, the destruction, fear and chaos caused by monsters in recent days is forgotten.

But to Kowalski, most of his exposure to the world of magic WASN’T negative. Seeing those amazing beasts, finding a friend in Newt Scamander, meeting Queenie… Those weren’t bad memories! Because of that, they were not erased, only suppressed.

So there’s a good chance that meeting Queenie again might restore those positive memories.

That’s an uplifting, heartwarming and absolutely valid idea, I think.