Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Slow Death of the Western Genre (in honor of BigBlackHatMan)

Hello, I'm KalKratos. And I'm doing another anniversary blog. This time it is for BigBlackHatMan. He does Western film blog reviews for Today, I'm going to talk about how the Western genre is slowing dying as its own entity.

We all know the Western genre. From cowboys and indians, to lawmen and outlaws. The Western genre was very prevalent during the entirety of the twentieth century. Fantastical stories of romanticizing the Old West captivated children throughout the years. In fact, one of the first films ever was a Western: The Great Train Robbery in 1903. But by the 90's, the genre was slowly becoming less pronounced as its own genre. So what happened? Well like in Toy Story, the Space Race changed everything. The 50's and 60's were very focused on space. And kids became more fascinated by the possibilities out there, than romanticized history. Sure, some kids stayed with the Western genre during those times; but by the time that those kids who loved the Western genre were grown up, the kids of the current generation at the time were more focused on space and other science related fiction.

But that's not the end of the Western genre. The Western genre still lives on strong through genre hybridization. The first true Western hybrid was in 1990. Back to the Future: Part III. It was primarily a science-fiction story with a Western setting. But there are other Western hybrids that date back prior to Back to the Future. Star Trek is an example of a Western hybrid, not in setting, but in themes and content. Gene Roddenberry, before Star Trek, did Westerns primarily. Then he decided to cash in on the growing trend at the time of sci-fi shows. He sold it to Desilu Studios as Wagon Train to the stars. Wagon Train was a Western TV series that ran from 1957-1965. Even as Star Trek had movies, TV show sequels, their subsequent spinoffs, and one TV prequel, Star Trek kept its Western themed origins.

During the 90's, Contemporary Westerns became more common. Westerns that didn't have an Old West setting, they had a modern setting; but kept the themes and content.

So what about more traditional Westerns set in the Old West? Well, the more prevalent ones are the hybrids. Jonah Hex, Cowboys and Aliens, and Serenity.

Speaking of Serenity, Firefly is the most popular Western hybrid. In fact, it is more Western than sci-fi. The only thing that makes it sci-fi is the spaceship and other planets. If those weren't there, it would be considered a traditional western. The Independence War is a reference to the Civil War. A lot of Westerns took place not long after the Civil War, so it was still fresh in their minds during particular works of Western fiction. Now, you may be reading this and thinking, the Firefly crew were not like the Confederates. Those guys were racists. Wrong. Slavery was a secondary issue during the Civil War. The main reason the Civil War was fought was because of state's rights. Sound familiar? Cause it is the same cause that Malcolm Reynolds and his unit of Browncoats were fighting for. They didn't want to be apart of some gigantic government. And the outer planets represent the Old West, not just in setting, but in metaphor. And of course the Alliance represents the Union. Although I doubt that the government during time was as evil as the Alliance.

So again, what about more traditional Westerns? Where are they? Well, they are usually under-the-radar, foreign, or direct-to-video. The last Western that was on everybody's radar was the remake of True Grit. That was a year ago. Last century, Westerns were the most prominent genre at the box office each year. Now, it is comic book movies, action movies, and sci-fi movies. Quite a lot of times, those three genres are all in the same movie.

It seems that the genre is finding more strength in the video game industry. Gun.Smoke, GUN, Mad Dog McCree, the Call of Juarez series, the Wild Arms series, Sunset Riders, Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption, Outlaws (1997), and The Oregon Trail. I think the reason for this is because a lot of the more modern ones that I listed, take a more mature approach to the Western genre and harkens back to the spaghetti westerns (which are my favorite kind of western).

Another place that the Western genre is finding strength is in the Far East, ironically. The Good, the Bad, the Weird; Sukiyaki Western: Django; and The Warrior Way are some live-action examples. Cowboy Bebop and Trigun are some popular anime examples.

So it seems that the genre isn't as popular as it once was. And most likely when it is shown, the hybridize it with another genre. So, I hope you enjoyed my blog. Comment below.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Top 13 Animated Disney Movies (in honor of Moviefan12)

In honor of Moviefan12's one year anniversary of blogging on, I am listing my top 13 animated Disney movies. Why top 13? Because I'm an unlucky bastard. So let's get started. Beware, some entries may contain spoilers.

13) Hercules

Hercules was my first glimpse at Greek Mythology. After that, I became entranced by it. I started looking everything up about it. But the books I looked at were more kid-friendly versions of the myths. It wasn't until years later that I found out that those versions and the Hercules movie itself weren't true to the myths. And the pop culture references do bog down the movie. But what makes up for the family-friendly version of the myth and pop culture references are James Woods' portrayal of Hades and the climax of the story. James Woods as Hades is a laugh-riot. I think that makes him almost as good as the more menacing villains. With comic relief villains, they are usually a pain to watch; because they aren't funny. Hades can be a great comic-relief villain and occasionally can be very menacing, especially in the climax of the movie; where Hercules must actually face a real trial, unlike what the whole movie has led up to.

And as for the music, it's okay; nothing special, except for one song. I Won't Say (I'm in Love) is good enough to listen on it's own. I should also mention that the love interest in this movie is not as wholesome as previous Disney leading ladies. She is way more sultry and seductive than her predecessors, and especially more than another love interest that will be mentioned later in the list (, which is pretty damn surprising when you see who she beat). It provides a good contrast to Hercules' boy scout nature. While not the best Disney animated movie in a long run, it has its merits and has great nostalgia for me.

12) The Black Cauldron

This is one of Disney's darkest and underrated movies. Based on some of the books from the fantasy novel series The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, this movie has the charm of a lot of other fantasy movies from that decade. It seems like a Disneyfied version of Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. Now I've never read the books, I liked the charm of the movie and unusual darkness of the movie. Even though it is underrated, it isn't great. It's good for a fantasy movie from Disney.

11) Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

Now I never saw Ducktales that much as a kid. And yes, I had the Ducktales theme song stuck in my head too. It will never leave. But I enjoyed it all the same. Amazingly, it got very dark at and near the climax of the movie. This movie's genie predates Robin Williams' Genie, and maybe even surpasses him. In a lot of ways, it plays out like a cross between Ducktales and an Indiana Jones movie. Hell, even the guy who made the poster was aware of this. It still captures what made the show so great, while giving it something that can stand on its own. What else can I say, but Ducktales.

10) The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This movie is one of Disney's darkest films. It's amazing how they managed to take Victor Hugo's dark tale and make it more kid friendly while still keeping a lot of the themes present from the novel. From the operatic flashback told by the gypsey jester, to the exciting climax of the movie. Now I have never read the novel, but I have heard what they changed. Now I will say I mega-loathe the comic relief in this movie, the gargoyles. Unfortunately, this is a step down in Disney's portrayal of gargoyles (you know what I'm talking about). They really bring the movie down. This could have higher on the list had it not been for those three annoyances. Now a way to explain how he is able to have conversations with those things, is that his isolation from humanity caused him to become crazy. He actually thinks he is talking to those things. And when have we ever seen them walk (err, hop) and talk while somebody besides Quasimodo was in the room.

And let's not forget the fridge horror lesson of the movie: The beautiful blond guy is chosen over the ugly nice protagonist of the movie. Oh the unfortunate implications of that choice in the movie. Now I know that nobody gets her in the book, but obviously that wouldn't work for Disney. (Well, Quasimodo did in a very, incredibly creepy way.) But did they really have to unintentionally teach children that no one will date you unless you are beautiful by traditional standards? Now I understand that it was noble for Quasimodo to concede to Phoebus, but it still has horrific implications. Later Disney realized this fridge horror and made a sequel allowing Quasimodo to get a girlfriend. But if they had just paired Quasimodo and Esmerelda up in the first place, they wouldn't have had to make a sequel. They would have just made one out the horribleness of their greedy hearts.

And of course I must mention why Quasimodo, Phoebus, and Frollo are so hung up over Esmerelda. She is stunningly beautiful, strong-willed, witty, and sexy. Honestly, Esmerelda is one of the most feminist characters out there, while being hot and sexy. She stands up for the weak against powerful leaders, even at her own risk in a male-dominated society that has outlawed her kind. And she is unknowingly seductive.

P.S. Did you know that Quasimodo was voiced by the man that played Mozart in Amadeus?

9) The Great Mouse Detective

It is basically a Sherlock Holmes story told by mice. What's not to love? This is the movie that led to the Disney Renaissance. It has a maturity about it, that comes from its Sherlock roots that even adults will enjoy it. This is one of two 1986 animated movies about mice that had emotional depth and maturity to them. The other one is An American Tail. Before Dreamworks was competing with Disney, Don Bluth was Disney's rival; until Don Bluth ran his own career into the ground by making crappy movies. You know the ones which are crappy. But I digress. The Great Mouse Detective is a great mystery that would be worthy of an actual Sherlock Holmes story.

8) The Lion King

HAMLET WITH LIONS! 'nuff said. But the reason it isn't higher on the list is that the musical numbers and Timon and Pumbaa feel out of place with the content and theme of the story. Now I know that Timon and Pumbaa are based on Hamlet characters just like the rest of the cast, but their dialogue just doesn't go with the rest of everything; and of course, the hyenas as well.

7) Aladdin

Aladdin is riddled with the traditional Disneyfication of adaptating a classic less-family friendly story, but that doesn't stop it from creating a great work that even adults can enjoy. Aladdin, himself, is only okay. It is Jasmine that shines in this movie. I think Jasmine paved the way for characters like Esmerelda to shine. Jasmine wants to marry for the right reasons, not to get married for the sake of getting married. And she is fed up with the royal suitors her father has chosen for her. I mean looking at the one we do see, is it any surprise that we sympathize with her? And Robin Williams' Genie shines even more than Jasmine. His comic portrayal of the Genie is one role that will never be forgotten.

He easily has the best song in the whole movie: Friend Like Me. Forget A Whole New World. Friend Like Me has more going for it. And while Jafar may be a typical villain, this is probably the first time that a villain had romantic interest in the hero's love interest. Well what about Eric and Ursula from The Little Mermaid? Well I think that she was interested in taking down Ariel, King Trident, and the mermaids. She wasn't really interested in Eric, just that it would turn Ariel's deal in her favor. That's why I think Jafar is the first villain to be interested in the hero's love interest.

Granted, some people may say that it is only because marrying her will give him control of the kingdom; but even after he became a wizard and took control of the kingdom, he still showed interest and sure seemed to like that fake kiss from Jasmine. It is a great movie; and I may be the only one, but I liked the sequels, especially Return of Jafar. Return of Jafar compared to the first one was like The Empire Strikes Back in terms of theme. Does it mean it is better than the first one? No, but it certainly has its own merits.

6) Tarzan

Although it seems that most of the praise for this movie seems to be over that damn Phil Collins song that just doesn't ever want to leave your brain. It almost seems as bad as the Ducktales theme song. But as for the movie itself, I love it. I love how in the beginning of the movie, Tarzan resents himself for being human, and not ape. I could actually relate to that, but not as much as another Disney character that I will mention later. I relate to him because like me as a kid, I resented myself for being Aspie, and not a normal kid. But like Tarzan, I learned to like who I am, discovered more like me, and found something unique about myself that I was proud of. I also love how the emotion feels more adult in this film than a lot of other Disney movies. I should also mention how hot Jane is. Forget Ariel and Belle. Give me a slice of Jane any day of the week.

5) The Emperor's New Groove

Now beyond the moral lesson of learning to be less selfish, this movie is hilarious. And it has lots of meta jokes. One of my favorite jokes is the waterfall scene. And it also has a bit of meta into too, but the way it was delivered by John Goodman and David Spade is what makes it so damn funny. Another meta joke that I just absolutely love is near the end when Kuzco and Pacha make it back to the palace after leaving Kronk and Yzma falling off a cliff, only to find them having beat them to the palace. Kuzco or Pacha asks them how they made it back before they did. Yzma doesn't know and asks Kronk. Kronk doesn't know and looks at the map of their race and says by all accounts that it doesn't make any sense. And they shrug it off. I put this high on the list because it is just so hilarious.

4) A Goofy Movie

The reason this movie is so good, is because it is so relatable. Everybody can relate to Max in some way. Having an embarrasing dad. Being a "loser" at school. Or having an unrequited crush on somebody. What makes the film so strong is Max coming to terms with his embarrassing father and forming a better relationship with him. Now this film is just as much Goofy's film as it is Max's. Goofy must come to terms that his son is growing up and let him live his life. It is a story of a bond that is strengthened between father and son. Now it should be noted that this film is practically a movie sequel to the cartoon series Goof Troop. But in the series, Max is pretty much a bland, toned-down, younger version of his father. But here in this movie, Max gets some better character development. Where he actually becomes a teenager.

Now I should note that I have one of my favorite Disney songs in this movie, as Moviefan12 knows all too well: After Today. After Today is a great song for it's upbeat attitude towards the end of school while following Max's part in the song about gaining the courage to do what will win over his unrequited crush later that day. This movie is the perfect movie to watch with your father.

3) The Nightmare Before Christmas

I think this one is obvious. It is great. Although it wasn't made by Disney, it has been claimed by Disney. It was recently re-released in 3D as a Disney movie. So I think it counts. It's interesting that I wasn't scared of this movie as a kid, even though I was scared of lots of other movies. This movie works as a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie. There's not much to say about this movie that hasn't been said before. So I guess I should mention which is my favorite song. Jack's Lament is my favorite song of the bunch. It is my favorite for it's great introspect at a man who grows bored with doing the same thing every year, and wants something else, something more.

2) Lilo and Stitch

Quite a few people forget how great this movie is. Probably because of the many sequels and tv spinoff. But before I get to the best part of the movie, I'm going to talk about the design of the aliens, their culture, and technology. It is refreshing to see a movie's designs for aliens that aren't just humans with slight differences.

Now for the best part of the movie, that people don't seem to see. Lilo has Asperger's. Lilo is social awkward and longing to be accepted. She has an exceptional knowledge of Elvis Presly. And relates better to animals. And since I have Asperger's as well, I recognize her behaviors as Aspie. When I first saw this movie, I had recently discovered that I had Asperger's. And I really related to Lilo, but I didn't know why. That is until I recently went on and saw someone recognized her as an Aspie. Then I thought about it and saw it for myself. So Lilo and Stitch will always have a special place in my heart and helping me get through a tough time during my childhood.

1) Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is quite possibly the most underrated Disney work of all time. It didn't do that great at the box office. It got mixed reviews from critics. And has been said to be the movie that brought an end to the Disney Renaissance. There has even been some division within the Channel Awesome community. Nostalgia Critic put it on his list of movies he loves but everyone else hates. Marzgurl and Blockbuster Buster did somewhat negative reviews of the movie. But I personally love this movie. And here's why. No musical numbers. Great artwork from Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy. A story treatment from Joss Whedon. And quite possibly the best story about Atlantis ever seen. Usually you don't see Atlantis as the focus of a movie or television. So I'm glad they made a movie about Atlantis. And this is the movie that started my interest in the Atlantis legend. I also get incredibly pissed off whenever someone puts Atlantis in the Meditteranean Sea, because that means that they aren't paying attention to Plato's writings on where it is located.

So those are my top 13 favorite Disney animated films. Hope you enjoyed the list. Comment below.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

X-Men Movie Continuity Errors (Attemptedly) Solved

Hello, I'm KalKratos. This is my first blog on the site. Eventually I'm going to write a film review series called Unoriginal Review. But until then, I am going to bring something to your attention that has been bugging me for the last few days. Most of us have seen the X-Men movies. While there is disagreement on which ones are good, they all have usually avoided major continuity errors. But with the latest X-Men movie out, there are a lot of continuity errors. And X-Men: First Class is in canon with Singer's X-Men movies. Hugh Jackman makes a cameo as Wolverine. And Rebecca Romijn makes a cameo when Mystique briefly shapeshifts into an older version of her human form.

Sure you can just say that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine aren't canon anymore. I have heard rumors on the internet that that's what the producers of First Class have in mind for it. But what about people who didn't hate Last Stand or Origins, maybe even liked them? How are people, who can't stand continuity errors (such as myself), going to continue watching all of the X-Men movies without becoming frustrated. Well I'm going to address the continuity errors and a way around them. Now these explanations come from various sites around the web and are not at all official. So, let's get started. Now BEWARE, there are SPOILERS for all of the X-Men movies if you haven't seen them yet. So if you haven't, go watch the ones you haven't yet; and come back here when you're done.

1. Charles Xavier becomes paralyzed in First Class

I thought I would address this first, since it is the biggest. In X-Men: The Last Stand, we see Charles walking in the prologue. And in X-Men Origins Wolverine, he is able to stand for a few seconds with no chair in sight.

Well in the comics, there were times when Professor X would regain the use of his legs. Why can't we assume that in between X-Men First Class and those scenes that he would regain the use of his legs, but lose them again before the first X-Men movie.

2. Charles and Magneto become enemies in First Class

This is kind of like the first one, but not as bad since it is only established in one movie and alluded to in the first movie. In X-Men: The Last Stand, we see Charles (walking) and Magneto go and recruit Jean Grey in the prologue. In the first X-Men movie, Charles says to Wolverine that Magneto helped Charles build Cerebro.

It could be possible that Charles and Magneto rekindled their friendship long enough to build Cerebro and recruit students.

3. Havok and Cyclops are supposed to be brothers

In X-Men: First Class a teenage/young adult Havok is one of the main characters set in 1962. We can clearly see Cyclops as a teenager in 1979 in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Bryan Singer said that Havok and Cyclops aren't brothers, but has alluded to them being related in some way. As for the "cameo" that Cyclops makes in First Class, I wouldn't make anything of it. People are seeing what they want to see.

4. Two Emma Frosts in two separate movies

In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we see someone with near identical powers as Emma Frost near the end of the movie who is Kayla's sister. In X-Men: First Class, she is clearly named Emma Frost several times, dresses the same as the character, and has all of the powers of that character.

The "Emma" that appears in Origins, is never named Emma Frost in the movie. It can logically be assumed that the character that appears in Origins is coincidentally named Emma and has her mutant power as a returnable diamond form.

5. Two Strykers

In X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X2, Colonel William Stryker plays an important part as the villain of those movies. In X-Men: First Class, a military man who seems to not like mutants during Xavier's meeting with the CIA, is named Stryker.

In X-Men: First Class, when Xavier is reading Stryker's mind, he talks about his son William. So the Stryker we see in Origins and X2, is actually the Stryker in First Class's son

6. Human Beast in X2

In X-Men: First Class, Hank McCoy tried to cure his monkey feet mutation; but ended up making it worse by turning his entire body into the blue skinned, blue furred man we all know and love. But in X2, we can clearly see Hank McCoy in human form on a news program in the background.

In X-Men: First Class, Hank got so much praise about the way he looked after his transformation; but he was looking for a way to return to normal. Maybe sometime between now and X2, he found a way; only to lose it by the time X-Men: The Last Stand comes around. And the reason Beast was uneasy about returning to human in The Last Stand, was because he had finally come to terms with looking the way he does during his second transformation.

7. Sebastian Shaw in X2

In X-Men: First Class, Sebastian Shaw is the main antagonist of the movie, but dies at the end. In X2, a man, who we don't see, is interviewing the human Hank McCoy. His name is Dr. Shaw.

Just because his name is Shaw doesn't mean that he is Sebastian Shaw.

8. Magneto's helmets in X-Men: First Class and the X-Men Trilogy

In X-Men: First Class, Sebastian Shaw had the Russians develop a helmet that would block psychic detection, reading, and control. When Magneto killed him, he took that helmet. At the end of the movie, we see his helmet looks more like it does in the comics: red with a purple border and tiny horns on the front of it. In the first three X-Men movies, we see that Magneto's helmet is a completely different design, ergo a different helmet. It's a red helmet with a similar, but different design, and from a glance, a different texture.

It seems incredibly likely that the helmet he stole from Shaw was destroyed, so he eventually had a new one made.

So those are some fan-made resolutions to the continuity errors that started to plague the X-Men film series. Hope you enjoyed my first blog. If I didn't mention an error, bring it up in the comments.