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Monstrous Ecology

A quick soapbox moment, August has been a busy month and what little bit of time I have had for myself should not be spent watching mediocre films.

So that Netflix had something to suggest when people looked for A Quiet Place, they produced The Silence. The shameless similarities are well documented, it’s practically an Asylum film*, a piggyback on the popularity of a blockbuster to parasitically gain a sliver of notoriety, so I won’t go too deeply into the similarities, but here’s the brief synopsis:

The world has become overrun with monsters that have some hypersensitivity to sound, and they hunt and kill anything that makes a lot of it, they appear to be blind, so anyone capable of living in silence has a chance to survive. One member of the family we follow is deaf, so sign language becomes an essential part of day to day life, and little mistakes cause death, plain and simple. One film is most definitely better than the other, and I won’t start on why, but The Silence raised one hell of a bugbear for me.

So many films are simply bad at designing monsters, and in many cases it’s because drama defies logic. I remember years ago hearing someone remark that dinosaurs would never have roared at random during a hunt because it’s simply bad stealth, announcing your intent to kill someone is the business of certain serial killers who enjoy the fear and dominance of predation, not something that depends on killing to eat. That’s shoddy dinosaur behaviour, but it’s only a narrow leap of logic away from the truth; The Silence’s subterranean bats on the other hand, require some tremendous feats of thought.

Creatures wholly dependant on sound and echolocation make only sounds that support their hunting efforts, and they are adapted to make sounds at a pitch and frequency that make echolocation incredibly effective. We – humans – understand very little about our surroundings by screaming at them. For a start echolocation requires short sounds that are over by the time the echoes return to us, rather than a drawn out howl that drown out the feedback. Of those humans that have mastered echolocation as best as a human can, they make small clicks and pulses, incredibly quiet, but shockingly effective.

The creatures in The Silence shriek, and they shriek constantly. When they move they make a loud fluttering, they scream at each other, they attack anything in the way with a loud clattering sound. These are not echolocation sounds, these are not hunting sounds, these are horror film sounds, and the dimmest understanding of the logic is enough to make such monsters unwatchable and boring no matter how good an actor Stanley Tucci is. A prime example: in an early film moment when the bat-things are attacking a car, and somehow one of them hears activity nearby that the others don’t, and hears it over the sounds of senseless screeching and battering.

And yet later on loud noises are enough to drive them insane?

Let us also briefly touch upon the notion of horror movie predators that delight in leaving corpses for people to find, still with plenty of edible flesh on them. For a creature that appears to have survived centuries below ground, that’s some profoundly wasteful eating habits for a creature that requires a vast amount of calories to both fly and keep screaming like that.

Anyway, rant over. Feel free to discuss other examples of illogical creature design with me, this particular irritation doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, not as long as we continue to sacrifice the basics of logic in the name of a good story. A plot hole or two is fine, but I will not climb down into that particular crater.


*Actually the screenwriter, Shane Van Dyke, has worked on Asylum mockbusters before! There’s interesting. Dude does not understand how deafness works.


Top 10 Charging Beasts

GeekOut Top 10s

Chaaaaaarge… With bestial rage, these beasts will charge at great speeds! Whether or not they’re portrayed as charging everywhere, or if they just charge when they have to, this week’s Top 10 is dedicated to those beasts who would charge everywhere. Whether they’re charging into action, or they’re just charging and tearing through their enemies, these are the beasts that just keep moving.

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On Your Left – The Importance of Falcon in the MCU

With the recent news of Sony’s reclaiming Spider-Man I feel like anything I write on the subject of the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now will feel increasingly post-mortem, but there’s nothing wrong with the odd retrospective.

I don’t know why I found myself dwelling on the character of Sam Wilson, but his introduction in The Winter Soldier I found to be one of the most important moments in the MCU. The ninth film, six years after the advent of the series, and up until that moment we were missing several profound elements that Falcon brings to the table especially in his introductory scene. (more…)


Top 10 – Magical Menageries

A menagerie is a collection or group of animals, in today’s case, we’re going to be looking at magical ones. This isn’t just a list of herds or groups, but rather areas which feature a collection of the most magical creatures. In this week’s Top 10, we’re going to get all magical and in some cases, a little bit science-fictiony. But don’t worry, we’ll stick to our guns and only pick gatherings of creatures that have some strangely magical properties. (more…)


The Addams Family (2019)

They’re kooky and they’re spooky, but will this latest adventure of The Addams Family be at all memorable? An animated story, which presents itself in a great old-school way, but will modern audiences connect with it? Furthermore, will they get the characters right? A huge proponent to the 90’s films and before was how every character had a role within the family; so will this still be the case, or will this now be washed down? I’ve gone ahead and watched the trailers, seen the promo’s out there and I have to say, this is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Here’re my reasons why – And let’s see how much you agree (or disagree) with.

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Gen Con – Meeting Zombie Orpheus

Ok, last article about Gen Con* or I’m not coming off the subject until October and frankly I’ve got some other stuff wants writing sat in my to-do pile, but this one’s a big deal for me.

Regulars here know I have a particular fondness of the works of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, more specifically The Gamers film project and it’s miscellaneous spin-offs (like Human’s and Households, Natural One, and so on) and Journey Quest which has just had it’s fourth season renewed via kickstarter. The fan supported studio creates comedy for nerds, and I’ve been watching and supporting them since I got into the hobby over ten years ago. The chance to get to meet some of the faces who have inspired my passion for the hobby was something truly incredible. (more…)


Top 10 Fictional Scientific Failures

GeekOut Top 10s

Science fiction and science in general; there is an abundance of media grounded in science. Whether it’s purely fictional science, aka nothing like the real thing, or a heavy dose of reality mixed in, there are successes and failures alike. With that in mind, today we’re going to look at our Top 10 Fictional Scientific Failures. Which of these do you know about and which of these are forgotten like the mistakes they were?

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SDCC Trailers 2019

The last time I did one of these was four years ago, I really ought to make it a more regular thing because San Diego Comiccon is a prime event to promote new material and media coming up in time for the mass indoor-migration. Here are a few of the highlights I’ve picked up on:

Harley Quinn Animated Series [NSFW]

No seriously, they packed this thing with bad language and violence.

Ok, this has some potential. I like Kaley Cuoco as Harley Quinn although I wish she’d given it the proper southern-drawl* that has been a hallmark of the character for decades, but that’s about my only complaint. In the post-Nolan DC days it can be hard sometimes to remember that there have been fun days in DC, even in Gotham where some of the dumbest villains have challenged the caped crusader, and that includes Quinn. So far we appear to be capturing the essence of what Suicide Squad wanted and failed to achieve, and we’ve kept key elements of the Suicide Squad Quinn in the pink and blue look.

Being broadcast on the new DC subscription network may limit the potential pretty dramatically, I actually think this may prove to be a growing problem because Disney are doing the same thing (more on that later) and the number of subscription services are getting as prolific as the number of television channels, but now you have to pay for all of them individually, and slowly but surely that new business model is going to prove how well it doesn’t work. I think. That’s my opinion at any rate.

Anyway, reserving judgement on Harley Quinn but holding on to a shred of optimism.

Picard

The Abrahamsverse Star Trek has put one hell of a stamp on Star Trek since then, we’ve seen it all over STD, and apparently we’re seeing this new theme of industrial style sets and higher colour-contrast lighting schemes in this resurrection of the greatest captain to ever command an Enterprise. The story looks to be another combination of Data and the Borg, and Seven of Nine will be joining the crowd as well to really dig into themes like artificial intelligence versus actual intelligence, life, freedom and independence. Rumours are that Jonathan Frakes will also be reappearing.

Our new crew includes Allison Pill and Harry Treadaway, two very talented young actors who never seem to have broken big which is a genuine tragedy.

Prediction: Turns out the young woman in the trailer with all that mystery around her is the borg queen and somehow time travel is involved… again. I say that because it looks like that borg cube is under construction, and as everyone has a particular loathing of this woman there’ll be some kind of shenanigans with nanomachinery and paradoxes. In short I can’t say as I’m all that excited, but I’m curious.

Marvel Season 4

I was expecting a long slow decline for the MCU that would slowly hurt everyone’s feelings and ruin ten years of amazing cinema by soaking the legacy in bleach until we’re left with a flimsy, pale imitation of what used to be. It looks like they just gave up, no part of the line-up gets me excited, no, not even the new Thor film.

Blade and Fantastic 4 have been confirmed for the future, along with another Spidey-film, and a Black Panther follow up, and sure we’ve got the groundwork for a Secret War or something, and who knows, maybe this is a grand fake-out, but I have some issues, and I’ll keep them short.

The time for Black Widow was about three years ago, some time around Civil War or Winter Soldier when she was at her most popular. A great animated film was made with her and the Punisher working together to take down Crimson Dynamo, and that was about as good as I think we’ll see. You want a good Black Widow? Red Sparrow is probably your best bet.

One quick look into the history of the Eternals tells me that there will need to be some serious conceptual changes to make them work well in the MCU. They’re a bunch of demigods in service to the Celestials, which should bring in a few of the Celestials in time for the likes of Glactus and whatnot, but from what I read they’re far from beloved characters. Shang-Chi is a house built on sand, with Iron Fist flopping harder than Finn Jones’ hair (hah!) and the Mandarin being a fake-out that upset a lot of fans.

“Multiverse of Madness” is a rather uninspiring subtitle, as is “Love and Thunder” which sounds like an episode of Miami Vice.

And here are all of these Disney+ titles, all of which were unsubtly set up during Infinity/Game, Hawkeye will be about training a younger archer, Loki picks up from the Tesseract incident, and buddy cops Falcon and Winter Soldier screams of Lethal Weapon with more vibranium. What If… sounds like it could be mildly interesting, but it’d need to do something more than regurgitate the old What If’s of the comics. What they plan to do with Wanda and Vision is anyone’s guess but for now I’m contenting myself with some early 00’s style sitcom in which most of the comedy is Vision trying to understand people.

A better sounding fan-timeline can be found here, filled with titles that – while clearly fake – has a few more beguiling titles.

Et Al

So the Witcher looks… fine, I guess? There are a few showpiece scenes that look like they could be cool, but I’m listening to the story and it doesn’t grip me yet. I’m quietly hoping to see a Mad Max style approach to Geralt, approaching as a nearly blank slate who comes to propel someone else’s story.

Far more interesting, we saw a mini making-of for dark Crystal along with a bit of new footage which looks like it’ll be a genuine masterpiece of television. It’ll be something to look forward to binging straight after Insomnia.

We’ve had new trailers for a bunch of extra films that we’ve known about for a while, a glimpse of what Rick and Morty’s fourth season will have to hold which… basically is more of the same but that’s cool, that’s what we like. A, hopefully better, television adaption of His Dark materials is on the way and now we can see a bit of it, it looks like it won’t be shying away from the anti-religious themes that were omitted in the Golden Compass film, but also features a cast of some of the best actors of the decade. IT, Watchmen, Westworld, but perhaps the thing that worries me the most is the Snowpiercer series that I simply cannot envision accomplishing what the film did.

Hate to end this on such a downer, so I’ll let it fizzle on a bad line instead.


*New Jersey accent! Turns out I’ve been getting it wrong for years.


Three More Netflix Reviews

I had fun with the last one, and there’s a few things I have opinions on that I didn’t review while I was in my last run of Dungeon Situationals. Rather than review one at a time, let’s take a short look at each. (more…)


Top 10 – Druid-Type Characters

GeekOut Top 10s

To be one with nature is the way of the druid; whether it’s to be one with their more animalistic side, or unleashing a plant-based frenzy. Druids are a huge archetype in gaming, but today we’re not going to look at whether a character is called a druid. Instead, we’re going to check out and celebrate the idea of a druid. In this week’s Top 10, there’ll be some strange entries, as you may not have thought of them as druids, or they may be a perfect fit to the term. (more…)