May 19, 2013

Hera, Help Me, I Hated Star Trek Into Darkness

***SPOILER WARNING***

It pains me to have to write this but last night I saw Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot, and I hated it. 

Before I go on I should mention two things: a love of Trek was instilled in me at a very young age, it has always been part of my life, and I liked (not loved) the rebooted Star Trek but was behind the effort to take the franchise in an new direction. 

But guess what? They kind of threw that out the window with Star Trek Into Darkness. Why? Because they recycled an old story and thought it would make them look incredibly clever to viewers. At least that's how I saw it. 

The mystery surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch's casting took over most of the press written about the film early on. Pretty much everyone's first thought was that he'd be playing Khan and although he was "revealed" as John Harrison later in the game, we all still knew he'd turn out to be someone else when all was said and done. After seeing the film, I'm not quite sure why they wanted to keep this a secret. Could it be because it was a really terrible idea? Quite possibly.

I was with the film up to a point - I believe the point was when Cumberbatch said his name was Khan - and then it sped downhill like an Olympic gold medal bobsled team. I hoped we were all wrong, I hoped it wasn't actually Khan, but at the very least if it was, I hoped they'd do something really unique with the character. 

They didn't.

The crew of the Enterprise haven't evolved much since we last saw them. They've been going on missions but Kirk is still Kirk, and Spock is still Spock. And that's pretty much it because this is the Kirk and Spock show. Seriously. I actually felt sorry for the rest of the cast because no one else had a chance to shine or even really act together as a crew. Uhura got to speak Klingon, Sulu got to sit in the captain's chair and sound badass for about 10 seconds, Scotty shut down an enemy ship and opened an air lock, Bones got to say funny things, and Chekov...ran around a lot. What a waste of a tremendous group of actors. I won't go into Dr. Carol Marcus all that much but suffice to say, her purpose in the film was minimal and they made her stand around in underwear for absolutely no reason. We didn't even see an actual display of the intelligence she was touted to have.

And then we have Khan. Cumberbatch was phenomenal in the role, there's no question about that. I really hope he gets nominated for tons of awards for it and that it leads to many more high-profile gigs for him. But the whole film was a poor use of the source material. The audience wasn't given a compelling reason to believe in what Khan was doing or why it was really all that bad considering what happened to him. It would have served the story so much more had we actually seen Khan with his people and what they went through instead of just telling us about them. 

I still could have been on board with using Khan had something interesting been done with him. For a while during the film, it seemed as if he would actually wind up being a good guy, someone who sides with Kirk and his crew to take down the actual evil in the film, Admiral Marcus, and help the Federation fight the Klingons in a possible third installment. That didn't happen.

And then Kirk decided he was going to enter the Enterprise's warp core.



I physically had to stop myself from shouting at the screen and walking out at this point. I envisioned the writers discussing what they were going to do with the film and saying, "It'll be great! We'll do the EXACT SAME THING as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but we'll flip it on its head and NO ONE WILL SUSPECT! This is so clever!"

Except it absolutely is not. The whole point of the Star Trek reboot was to keep things vaguely familiar but alter history so they had free reign to do whatever they wanted with the franchise. So they could boldly go, as it were. And they decided to copy the franchise instead. It's one thing to decide this is the direction you're going in, it's another to execute it in the worst way possible.

Oh hey, Kirk's gonna die. GOOD THING WE HAVE THAT MAGIC BLOOD WE PLACED IN THE FILM EARLY ON! 

Like, shit, seriously? Kirk was dead for all of 15 minutes, making sure the plot point had no emotional impact whatsoever. And having Quinto scream Kirk's otherwise trademark "KHAAAAAAAAN!" might take the new top spot for scenes that make me want to vomit. I understand they thought it was an emotional break for an otherwise emotion-lite character but it was cheesy as hell. For a longtime, hardcore fan of the franchise, it was annoying to expect exactly what was going to happen, realize how terrible it would be, and then see it played out just that way. 

And don't even get me started on Old Spock spilling the beans on Khan when he should have kept his mouth shut. 

Star Trek Into Darkness was incredibly hollow for me. Not just as a Trek fan but as a moviegoer. I'm all for mindless action films now and then but that's not what Star Trek is in our culture. At least, it didn't used to be. When you think back on the legacy of the previous films, there was always a point or lesson to be had, even if it was kind of lame (The Final Frontier, I'm looking at you.) This film had none of that. The only possible thing I could take away from it was a lesson in friendship but even that seems trite considering we don't really get a chance to see the crew interact in such a way. They're too busy dealing with explosions, you see?

Perhaps new Trek just isn't for me. That makes me sad but I can come to terms with it. At the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, we see the crew departing on a five-year mission, a term that harkens back to the original series. We can only hope this is what makes them into what they should be - a team, explorers, and a family.

Feb 21, 2013

It's Time For The 2013 MDA Muscle Walk!

Hello! Two times a year I ask you all to help me out for a cause near to my heart - raising money to fight Muscular Dystrophy. Well, this is one of those times.


The 2013 Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Walk is coming up March 23rd! I've been attending since 2009 but unfortunately I won't be able to actually go to this year's walk. HOWEVER, my team "The Nerdy Birds" will still be doing our part to help everyone else beat last year's total!

How can you help?

First and foremost, a donation would be spectacular. You can do that securely online at our team page. We've set the team goal at $2,000 but I'm hoping we can bring more in! I say this every time but ANY amount is the perfect amount. If you can give $1, give $1. If every one of my Twitter followers gave $1 each I'd raise over $20,000 for MDA! It adds up quickly.

Second, if you cannot donate I ask that you spread the word. Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Myspace, message boards, billboards, anywhere! Getting the word out means possible donations and the closer The Nerdy Birds can get to their goal!

Thank you all so much for always being there for me and thank you to the newcomers for the help as well. :)



Feb 19, 2013

How Would You Like Game of Thrones Season 2 On Blu-Ray?

HAPPY GAME OF THRONES DAY!


Thanks to Appliances Online I have a copy of Game Of Thrones: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) to give away to one lucky fan!

I was able to get a preview copy of the set, which hits stores today, and you will not be disappointed! Here's are some of the features:


  • Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay
  • Game of Thrones: Inner Circle
  • 12 Audio Commentaries with Cast and Crew
  • The Religions of Westeros
  • Character Profiles
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Histories & Lore
  • War of the Five Kings
  • Hidden Dragon Eggs
  • The actor interviews are fantastic and I've watched the Blackwater Bay feature, which was pretty impressive. I'm always amazed at what they are able to pull off on their budget. I've yet to find those dragon eggs though...

    So you want to win one for yourself? Just send an email to nerdybirdcontest [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line: Game of Thrones S2 Contest. (Exactly that or you will be disqualified) Then tell me (briefly) about your favorite character from the show. The contest will end tomorrow, Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST. This contest is open to anyone, anywhere but you may only enter once! 

    Thanks again to Appliances Online for giving me the opportunity to hold a contest for something I'm such a big fan of!

    Jan 14, 2013

    To boldly roll.


    I'm embarking on a new journey today. One that will involve danger, intrigue, and a whole lot of trust.

    I'm starting a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

    That may not sound like a big deal to you but to me, it is. And here's why. 

    I'd wanted to play D&D since I was little but always felt intimidated. Not only did I keep my geek flag hidden back then, I wasn't aware of anyone who played so I couldn't even get my foot in the door. It wasn't until I started dating someone in my twenties who'd played his entire life that I got my chance.

    But not with him. See, his D&D group was "boys only." Lame, right? Those guys had a very tight-knit group for years though so I couldn't blame them too much. But I still wanted to play. So what was a girl to do? Create a "girls only" league with the boys' girlfriends. To be fair, we also had one guy in the group. He really wanted to play and we were "more the merrier" type of people.

    But my D&D career ended before I had a chance to make a saving throw. I was dumped by my boyfriend and immediately after, my group stopped talking to me. And I'll be honest, the latter might have hurt more than the former.

    I was friends with these folks for almost three years before we started our gaming group but the D&D portion of our friendship was different. We had already gotten to know each other better at regular game nights but once D&D entered the equation a new chapter was opened. I was thrilled to learn the game along with them and discover what their characters were all about. We'd only played a handful of times but they were good times, and times I expected to continue. 

    When it didn't, I was hurt. I expected, perhaps foolishly, that my relationship with these people existed outside of the relationship I had with my ex. The breakup was his choice, I hadn't done anything evil to him, but they made the choice to break off contact with me anyway and with that, my short D&D career was over. 

    That was six years ago.

    I've had opportunities to join other D&D games over the years but never felt quite comfortable jumping back in. I had been so happy with my group, learning together, being ourselves, that I couldn't bring myself to say yes and get hurt like that again. I've certainly had the same experience with romantic relationships in my life but always told myself I'd never know unless I tried. For some reason, D&D was different.

    These days I work in an office with several geeks. We commiserate over the latest geek drama and share in the joy of exciting announcements, so when the invitation arrived in my inbox to join several of them in a new campaign, my heart stopped. 

    And then I said, "Fuck it. I wanna kill some goblins."

    I'm just a few minutes away from meeting with my co-workers now to get ourselves situated for our new campaign. I'm gonna need a refresher course since I have a terrible memory but I couldn't be more excited to begin.

    And yes, my dice do match my hair. Deal with it.


    Nov 30, 2012

    The James Gunn Controversy



    [Note: I started to write this post before James Gunn issued his apology statement. Rather than rewriting the entire thing, I decided to leave it as-is with an addendum attached to the end.]

    It was my day off and on my day off I try to keep internet viewing to a minimum. I’m online quite a bit already, as you may well know. But I hopped on Twitter, as I often do, to see what the day had to offer in the way of geek news. It seemed my Editor at TheMarySue.com, Susana Polo, had stumbled upon something that bothered her. Indie director/writer James Gunn, hired by Disney/Marvel to bring The Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen, had written a post titled, “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With.”

    The title itself didn’t strike me as anything unusual for the comic internet (of which I wasn’t aware Gunn was an active participant in) In 2010, I myself wrote a list about wanting to have sex with Batman, but once I read the content of Gunn’s list I realized why Susana had written the piece.

    Gunn posted the list on his own website on February 11, 2011 so why was this just becoming a big deal now? Two reasons: One, someone on Tumblr came across the post, didn’t appreciate it, and wrote about it. It spread. Two: Because Gunn is now responsible for a big-budget film from Disney/Marvel, which means there are more people invested in his career.

    After both Gunn and actor Rainn Wilson asked their followings online to vote in Gunn’s second annual poll of this kind, he whittled down the list of his 300 nominees to 50, and wrote about them. What followed was at best, the kind of immature sexual talk you’d hear in an 8th grade locker room, at worst, some seriously homophobic and misogynistic remarks. I won’t bother copy/pasting them here as some people who’ve done that have been accused of taking his words out of context. You could read the list on his website. But it was removed sometime between the night of Tuesday November 27, 2012 and when Susana started writing her post the following morning.

    But if you do want to read it, and I warn you, there’s some extreme, trigger-y language, the page iscached on Google. There was also a follow-up list where Gunn gave just his own top superheroes he’d like to have sex with. Also deleted. Also cached.

    To me, that’s telling. It would be one thing if, when he realized how many people were offended by the list, removed them from his website and replaced them with an apology. Something like…
    I removed the posts in question from my website because, while coming from a place of humor, I realize I am now in a position of power and people in power have a responsibility. People in power have influence and what they say matters.
    But that didn’t happen. In fact, since the list was brought into brighter light, he hasn’t addressed it at all. Even after The Hollywood Reporter picked up the story and asked both Gunn and Marvel for comments. Neither Marvel, nor their parent company Disney, has issued a statement.

    At face value, having not been familiar with Gunn’s work or personality, the list comes off as a disgusting man making misogynistic remarks about fictional women and homophobic remarks about their male counterparts.

    Many have defended Gunn’s words claiming if you look at his past work and behavior, this is his brand of humor and he does not truly feel this way about women or homosexuals. They claim it’s purely satire.

    But it’s not.

    I’m not saying the list wasn’t made entirely in jest (a type of jest that offends me personally), I’m just saying this is absolutely not satire. And don’t forget, satire does not equal comedy. It can be written as humorous, but satire does not equal comedy.

    Merriam-Webster has two definitions of the word:
    1. a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn 
    2. wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
    What human vice is Gunn holding up to ridicule or criticism here? What vice or folly is he using sarcasm or irony to deflect? The one answer I’ve heard to those questions is Gunn was attempting to ridicule the many comic fans online who write this type of gross list regularly but if that was his intent, he failed. The list is not satire, at best, it’s base humor.

    But that’s neither here nor there. Why? Because Gunn hasn’t spoken out on the subject closing in on 48 hours after it started making waves. Someone started apetition to get him removed from The Guardians of the Galaxy film. I don’t agree with that sentiment, especially not before hearing the man out. People who have met him or know him personally have defended him, saying he was just “being stupid,” and I can believe that but I’d like to hear Gunn say it himself.

    I also find it odd to call into question Gunn’s friendship with Joss Whedon. I have plenty of friends who make jokes I find offensive or who have opinions squarely opposed to my own, that doesn’t mean they aren’t my friends. So no, I don’t feel Whedon should get involved, least of all before Gunn says anything.

    Different people see different things when looking at his post. I get that. But in an industry already hostile to women, something like this from a prominent member sets a bad example. Jokes like the ones Gunn wrote become indoctrinated into our culture in such a way that they become acceptable to some people and bad behavior continues to perpetuate. Women being raped because men think they can “turn” them is something that happens too often in our society and by continuing to treat it lightly, we reinforce that way of thinking.

    Do I think calling for his job and/or head is the correct response? No. When controversial things like this pop up online, some people discuss civilly why it bothers them, but others take it and run to a very dark place. I don’t necessarily blame them, the things said in Gunn’s list are extremely sensitive in nature and people themselves are sensitive to that depending on their life experience.

    Then the situation escalates when people who don’t see X, Y, or Z as a problem, accuse those who do of being overly sensitive, or *gasp * having feelings about something. I’m sure you’ve seen it plenty of times on message boards and social media. Someone says they are really offended by something and another person tells them:
    1. It’s not a big deal. 
    2. You’re looking at this all wrong. 
    3.  Aren’t there more important things to complain about in this world? 
    4. That bitch just needs some dick.
    Number four happens to women who speak out online more than you can possibly imagine.

    But in defense of those who have serious issues with what Gunn wrote, and wrote an intelligent response, saying something is homophobic or misogynist isn't the same as saying the person themselves is homophobic or misogynist. Most people forget that. People can say things they don’t realize are inherently offensive.

    I agreed with Susana’s assessment and am glad she raised the profile of this post from long ago. What Gunn wrote was extremely problematic and needed to be discussed. I, for one, hope we never stop.

    [Addendum]


    I’m extremely happy Gunn issued his apology and take it at face value. Some will suspect he only responded because the issue was picked up by GLAAD and the Human RightsCampaign but I take what he said to heart as that’s what I would hope people would do if I were in his position. Being a public figure is a difficult thing but I think Gunn’s words displayed his intent without him having to “explain the joke” as it were. He said he was sorry, not that he was sorry we were offended, which is a backhanded apology used by many these days in replace of the real thing. And apologized for those who were hurt by his words. He promised to be better on all accounts in the future and I think that’s all we can ask of him. 

    If you'd like, you can also read Susana's follow-up post on The Mary Sue.

    Oct 9, 2012

    TARANTINO XX: 8-FILM COLLECTION Trailer

    I could not be more excited for this. Thank goodness it comes out November 20.
    Included in the set: Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill: Volume 1, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Inglourious Basterds, True Romance, and Death Proof.

    Oct 5, 2012

    Nerdy Bird News!

    It's been a while, folks. How are ya? Hopefully you've been following my work at TheMarySue.com where I post multiple times daily. If not, I give you a big sad face. But I've got some news to share! You can soon read my work at a new venue...

    Tada! I told you some big news was on the way. After New York Comic Con, you can find my comic book column on IGN.com! It's a move I'm very excited about and who knows? You may even see more of me on there than just Hey, That's My Cape!

    Meanwhile, you can catch me at NYCC next weekend. The Mary Sue is hosting a party on Friday, October 12, and I'll be on several panels! 

    • Friday 9pm-10pm - The Psychology of Cosplay with Andrea Letamendi, Bill Doran, Holly Conrad, Jenna Busch, Robin Rosenberg. Room 1A01
    • Saturday 5:15 pm - 6:15 pm - Geek Thoughts: Top Blogs Discuss Writing About Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fandom with Cyriaque Lamar, Heidi McDonald, Jamie Frevele, Rich Johnston, Ryan Britt. Room 1A01
    • Saturday 6:30 pm-7:30 - Ladies of Womanthology with Anya Martin, Ashley Lentini , Bonnie Burton, Ceili Conway, Ma'at Crook, Rachel Pandich, Tanja Wooten. Room 1A01  
    • Sunday 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm - GeekMoms: Raising Young Padawans with Amy Kraft, Corrina Lawson, Kristen Rutherford, Nicole Wakelin, Rebecca Angel. Room 1A01. I'll be moderating this one!!
    As usual, you can always stop me to say hello on the show floor and Saturday night I'll be at the Geek Girls Network party!