Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Time to be Thankful and Stuff

It's that time of year again (at least for Americans... do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?). People are giving thanks shortly before acting like the rabid consumer society we are. I may not participate in Black Friday (maybe if you paid me to), but I still want to tell you all what I'm thankful for. I'll skip the givens - family, friends, etc. You know who you are and you know I love your faces. No, this year, I'm focusing on my geek love. This blog has increasingly turned into a geek one, and I may as well continue with the trend. Plus there were plenty of things to nerdgasm over this year.

So, without further ado, the four geek things I'm thankful for this year in no particular order.

1. Women in genre films

It's almost like filmmakers are finally starting to get it. Women can be smart, strong, independent, conflicted, sexy, make mistakes, and make your movie money all at the same time. Who knew that people would enjoy seeing women portrayed as people?

It all started this year with Katniss Everdeen. I hadn't read the Hunger Games books although I had been told countless times that I needed to. Spring Break was the week the first movie came out and I decided that's how I would spend my time off. Who knew I would get through the first book in a day? The movie is by no means among my favorites, but I did enjoy it and I loved how Katniss was portrayed in the film. Plus, huge box office numbers with a female lead in an action movie. This was a HUGE gamble (or so the movie executives thought) and it paid off, cause guess what? Not only do women make up about half of the movie-going crowd, but men enjoy watching female leads too. Crazy, right?

Then came Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. Granted, she was introduced in Iron Man 2, but she was essentially a sex toy that could fight. Not very impressive. The moment I heard Joss Whedon was writing and directing Avengers, I knew this would change drastically. Remember her opening sequence beating three Russians while tied to a chair? Freak out! My favorite writer/director/creator/person did not disappoint. My favorite moment of hers was also one of her most vulnerable. She had just hid from a very angry Hulk and was understandably shaken and scared out of her wits. She's sweaty, shaking, and huddled in a corner. Barton, controlled by the Cube, is on the helicarrier and someone needs to stop whatever shenanigans he's up to. Natasha rises to the occasion and proceeds to beat the crap out of a possessed Hawkeye and knocks his head so hard against the metal railing that he regains control of himself. Then she knocks him out for good measure. She's strong when she needs to be, not when it's easy.

I want to give a shout out to Merida here since her movie came out after the Avengers. Brave doesn't exactly fit into the same category as the other three, but it was a unique movie that deserves a paragraph. Cause, come on. She's a Disney princess who fights and doesn't end up with a man. Plus it was all about her relationship with her mother, who isn't an evil step-mother. It's about communication and understanding where the other person is coming from. I'm sure it resonates with me because I'm a feminist and I had a complicated relationship with my mother as a teenager. Still, I think it's an underrated movie and she's by far my favorite Disney princess now.

Finally, Selina Kyle. Freaking Catwoman, y'all! Who didn't love her growing up? I admit, I was a little nervous about Catwoman in the Dark Knight Rises. Not because of Anne Hathaway (I don't get why people hate on her so much), but because of Christopher Nolan. Don't get me wrong, the man is a genius and I love his movies. However, like most filmmakers, he doesn't have the best track record of writing women very well. Just about all of his movies involve a beautiful woman dying for the sole purpose of creating a plot for the male protagonist. Again, I'm not asking that filmmakers never use this method, but I'd say it's getting a little cliche for him. Enter Selina Kyle. Even her ridiculously impractical heels have a functional use.

2. Joss Whedon

Buffy, Angel, Firefly/Serenity, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrble's Sing Along Blog, Cabin in the Woods, Avengers, and now everything Marvel will do in the next few years. The man can do no wrong. And he's not a one-female-character kind of guy. Rumors of Wasp being introduced in Iron Man 3 are abundant, and he always said he would have put more female characters in Avengers if he could have. I love Wasp, and I'm expecting to see her full-fledged fighting in Avengers 2. Really, if I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be Joss.

"'Why do you write these strong female characters?'
'Because you're still asking me that question.'" -Joss Whedon

How do you not love someone like that?

3. The Hobbit

Technically I haven't seen it yet, but there's no doubt in my mind that I am going to love it with everything inside of me. Plus stuff I didn't know I had. First of all, just look at Bilbo. I may not have agreed with all of Peter Jackson's casting decisions in LOTR (18 year old Frodo, anyone?), but Martin Freeman IS Bilbo Baggins. No one else would have been able to fill his fuzzy, wooly toes as well as Freeman. I may be a little biased since I have a major crush on the man, but I know I'm not the only one who thinks the same.

Second, who would have guessed that dwarves could be sexy? When I heard Richard Armitage was going to be Thorin Oakenshield, I was super excited. The guy is a phenomenal actor and one I have a mild crush on. But I didn't expect them in a million years to make him attractive! And look at Kili! He's got those sexy eyes down!

4. Jeremy Carver

I still maintain that Supernatural should have ended after season five. It was the perfect story arc and ended beautifully. Six was okay... it had one phenomenally funny episode, another pretty funny episode that kind of branched off from the typical mythology that didn't sit all that well with me, and maybe one other stand alone episode that stands out in my mind as pretty good, but overall it was meh. They struggled with the story arc and it doesn't end up making a whole lot of sense. When I start buying the seasons I'll buy one episode from season six, but that'll probably be it. Seven was abismal. The only redeeming quality it had was Felicia Day in one episode. Besides that, I think I chuckled once and was impressed with what was going on twice. It starts out with potential, but that quickly dissolves and the big bads for season seven are not even a little bit intimidating. Very forgettable and a complete throw away season.

Enter Jeremy Carver. He worked on previous seasons but left for a while after season five, since that's all Eric Kripke planned for. Carver is the new show runner and has a three season story arc planned, as opposed to wandering around in the dark for the last two years. It shows. Season eight still doesn't compare to four or five, but I'm interested. It's good. Better than six. Not great, there was a found footage episode that was completely worthless, but other than that I've been enjoying it in general. Plus, not only does Felicia Day come back later in the series, but the next episode is a funny one. We haven't had a funny episode since season six!

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