Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’

It’s not the Batman movie we deserve, but the one that we need.

The LEGO Batman Movie. Directed by Chris McKay. Written by Seth Grahame-Smith et al. Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and Rosario Dawson. 104 minutes. Warner Bros. Rated PG. CNS Rating is A-II—adults and adolescents.

This may be the greatest Batman movie ever made. And heaven knows a lot of them have been made.

Although it comes from before my time, I grew up watching the Batman television series from the ’60s, starring Adam West. As a small child, I thought the show was hysterically funny. I would sit in front of the TV and laugh my head off, and my father assures me that his cousins used to do the same thing when he was a kid, watching it in its original run.

I was in grade school when Tim Burton directed Batman starring Michael Keaton. When that movie came out, Batman was suddenly all the rage. Every kid at my school was in to Batman, except for me. I didn’t care for this new, bloody, violent, brooding vision, even if it was closer to the spirit of the source material. The Batman I loved was bright and colorful and happy, with really, really cheesy acting. Continue reading “Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’”

Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?

Featured image: Totally a real screenshot from the film and not some crazy cosplaying by GeshaPetrovich.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Screenplay by Sukehiro Tomita. Starring Kotono Mitsuishi, Aya Hisakawa, and Michie Tomizawa. Toei Animation, 1993. In limited release from Viz Media, 2017. Dubbed. Runtime 78 minutes. Rated PG.

We’ll get to the meaning of the deliberately provocative clickbait title of this review in a moment. But first, let’s cover the preliminaries.

So, I just saw Sailor Moon R: The Movie, the first North American theatrical release of a Sailor Moon film, courtesy of Viz Media, which now owns the North American distribution rights. The film originally came out in 1993 and runs a mere hour and eighteen minutes. I hope some other showings around the country are more successful than the one I attended, or Viz Media is going to go broke, and I don’t want them to go broke until they finish releasing the series. Continue reading “Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?”

Watch ‘Sailor Moon: The Movie’ Before It’s Gone!

Like many magical girl fans, I have sometimes daydreamed about what a live-action Sailor Moon movie might look like. My imaginary version would probably piss off most of the fans, because it’s a gritty Kung fu film directed by the same guy who did The Raid. No, I’m serious.

For some fans, daydreaming is not enough. They take it to the next level and actually make the movie. There have been several such projects, and even though they’re not-for-profit, they have a habit of disappearing because of copyright claims. In fact, when I stumbled across Sailor Moon: The Movie on YouTube, I mistakenly believed it was the 2011 short film starring Avery Danielle, but I was wrong. That one, sadly, is gone from the interwebs. No, this is the 2015 loooong film starring MaryBeth Schroeder, and it clocks in at a whopping two hours and twenty-two minutes. That’s the size of an epic-length feature film. Continue reading “Watch ‘Sailor Moon: The Movie’ Before It’s Gone!”

Why the New ‘Ghostbusters’ Looks Like Suck

The remake of Ghostbusters has certainly stirred the pot. Its trailer has the dubious honor of being the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history. At the time of writing, the dislike count is 839,395. That last dislike on there is mine. I don’t normally hit dislike buttons and, in fact, generally dislike them, but I wanted my own piece of YouTube history.

Recently, the popular Cinemassacre released a video in which reviewer James Rolfe says, calmly and reasonably, that he is not going to see the film because the trailer looks terrible and the new movie pays obvious disrespect to the franchise. His reasoning, given the subject matter, is sound: Continue reading “Why the New ‘Ghostbusters’ Looks Like Suck”

DeMG on the ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Controversy: Everybody Shut Up

And here we go.

I get the impression from the hand-wringing that there are people on the internet who think Hollywood’s casting directors can create actors and actresses ex nihilo. They have to work with what they have, people.

Are you upset about Scarlett Johansson starring in a Hollywood adaptation of a Japanese anime? Okay, then name me an A-list Japanese actress in Hollywood. I mean that seriously; I don’t keep tabs on Hollywood and I am aware that there exist a lot of allegedly A-list actors whose names I don’t know.

Oh, excuse me, it seems most of the internet isn’t complaining that Johansson is not Japanese, but that she’s not Asian. But surely you don’t think Asian people are interchangeable and all alike, do you … do you? If the role of the Major were being played by a Pakistani or White Russian, that is, someone Asian, would you be satisfied?

Tell me: exactly when did Hollywood get Ahnenpass rules? Since when are actors and actresses supposed to be judged on melanin content or genetic heritage rather than, say, talent? It must be quite recent: I don’t remember anyone whinging about white actors in Speed Racer, which was also an American movie based on a Japanese cartoon. Oddly enough, I do remember the internet whinging a great deal about white actors in The Last Airbender, which was an American movie based on … um … an American cartoon.

“But the cartoon characters are Asian!” the internet cried.  No they weren’t. They came from magical element land, spoke American slang, and behaved like American teens. They were about as Asian as a pan-Asian cuisine fast food stall, but that didn’t stop busybodies and scolds from tarring M. Night Shyamalan as a racist, which no doubt completely blindsided him: no one has any hope of accurately predicting what will offend the Twitterati and Tumblrinas.

And because the rage and offense of Twitter cannot be predicted, there is no point in trying to avoid giving that offense. The executives at the studio making the Ghost in the Shell movie should answer the self-appointed internet moral guardians with a giant middle finger. If they do, I will see the movie. If they kiss butt instead, I’ll skip it.

It’s not “whitewashing.” It’s just practicality. Movies made in a place cast actors from that place. In Bollywood, it’s customary to depict characters of European descent by slapping a wig on an Indian actor. And I can’t tell you how many anime I’ve seen with allegedly foreign characters who speak Japanese fluently and with a flawless accent. Sometimes they speak their “native” language (usually English) with such a thick Japanese accent I can’t understand them. For example, check out the “English” girl from Kinmoza. It’s pretty funny. But does it offend me that a Japanese woman is playing an English girl? No, because I’m not that petty.

People claiming to be offended by this are trying to introduce a moral principle they cannot possibly apply consistently. The inevitable result will be hypocrisy such as we see in people condemning Johansson playing the Major while insisting we need a non-English James Bond. No casting director could possibly obey such a harsh rule, and historically, casting directors have not. Remember Scotty from Star Trek? Not actually Scottish. How about Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October? Not Russian.

When a person acts, he plays someone he’s not, someone with a different life and different history, and yes, possibly a different race, from his own. That’s why it’s called acting.

And just to be clear here, this is the character we’re talking about:

She actually kinda does look like Scarlett Johansson in a wig.
She actually kinda does look like Scarlett Johansson in a wig.