Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #19 – February 7, 2021

Well, it’s been 39 days or so since I penned one of these “log” posts…so in general I’ve done quite a bit–including a little bonus lockdown that the city of Perth just experienced.

My cat is looking a bit like a ghoul, don’t you think?

I don’t know that I can remember everything, but let’s see if I can’t come up with ten things.

Editing Stuck

Stuck, is, unfortunately, a time-loop movie. I say unfortunately because time-loop moves seem to have become a bit of a common trope these days. I mean, these stories have been around for a while in TV, movies and other media, but lately they are popping up all over the place–I just saw a trailer for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things which is a teen-love story time-loop move. Still, Stuck–a film we shot last year which I am now working on a fine-cut edit for, is different than any other that I have ever seen.

First of all, it’s just a short film that we did–not a feature. But second, it’s about a guy who is trapped in a single place, not a single moment in time. It’s just that whenever he leaves that place, the time-loop kicks in and he returns to the moment that he arrives. So he’s quite literally stuck.

On a broader level, it’s about a guy learning to accept God’s dealings in his life.

And yes, it just might have been inspired by the lockdowns of 2020.

Pandemic Legacy Season Zero

Before the real-life global pandemic sent my city into a five day snap lockdown just recently (because of a single case of COVID-19 that people found very alarming, but so far has not led to anything further), my friends and I gathered to play the first round of Pandemic Legacy – Season Zero.

Pandemic is a board game where you and your friends take on the role of disease control experts who must cooperate to find cures for a variety of diseases which threaten the world before time runs out or before they outbreak too widely.

Legacy is a sub-brand of board games which imply that the game takes on permanent changes as you play. So the board, or the cards, or the rules or whatever are forever altered by the events of one game, in such a way that soon no two Legacy board games will look exactly the same as each other.

Season Zero refers to the fact that this version is a prequel game to Season One and Season Two, both of which my friends and I have completed (as they each follow a particular narrative with a beginning, middle and end). In this prequel game, we are all spies in the 1960’s trying to track down some foreign powers who are involved in dangerous biological warfare.

We played a trial game, which we lost very badly, and then the first “regular” game, which we won by the skin of our teeth. It was very fun, and I highly recommend it for anyone who thinks that getting together with the same group of people over a bunch of time and playing through a campaign like this sounds fun.

Sentinels of the Multiverse – Oblivaeon

Sentinels of the Multiverse is another cooperative game that I like. This one involves taking on the roles of superheroes (many of whom are modeled after recognizable properties from Marvel or DC but are not actually the same) and working together to fight villains. My younger two daughters and I enjoy this one a lot.

Oblivaeon is an expansion that we recently got for Christmas which is meant to simulate the “grand finale” of the whole story, crating a narrative a bit similar to something like DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. In it, all the heroes are working together to stop a cosmic entity called Oblivaeon from destroying a variety of environments (in a normal game, you only get one, but in this version there are five). It’s very complicated–lots of things to remember and lots of effects of various cards that we had to interpret into this new gameplay. We played one game so far and it took us hours.

I enjoy the idea, but it’s not something I’m likely to come back to all that often.

Wabbit’s Wevenge

Another game that I just acquired, this one has a funny history for me. Years ago, I played a friend’s game called Wabbit Wampage which roughly simulated the mayhem of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. After remembering it fondly for years I decided to buy it with some Christmas money this year. I’m pretty sure it’s long out of print, so I found a copy on Ebay.

However, I made a mistake and got the sequel game, Wabbit’s Wevenge, instead. In this one, which isn’t reviewed as highly, players take on different roles in a scenario in which a greedy mayor is skinning rabbits to sell the furs, and a hero-rabbit is out to stop him. My same daughters as the above game played it together a couple of times and enjoyed it, but also felt like it dragged a fair bit. I’d like to try again, but I’m not sure how quickly we will get to it.

Stargirl

My daughter and I finished the first season of Stargirl and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was quite well plotted and decently acted, and had enough surprises along the way to stay engaging.

There were some weak spots–we both thought that the Hourman character was a bit annoying–but in general we felt like it was a pretty successful superhero drama, in a way that a lot of the Arrowverse shows often aren’t. Season Two is on the way so we’re hopeful for that. We’re both hoping that the Thunderbolt features heavily in that because we just assume that’ll be crazy.

Young Justice

And we also finished Young Justice season two (“Invasion”) which kept up the generally high standards of Season 1. I had seen some of this before, but it was brand new to my girls and pretty jumbled in my own memory. But it’s one of the best plotted superhero / action cartoons that I have ever seen, with a range of engaging characters and some very well done action sequences. Regularly proving his awesomeness over both seasons is Dick Grayson (originally Robin, now Nightwing). I also really liked Wally West / Kid Flash, and the season improved on Artemis a great deal.

Superboy also went up in my estimation, while Miss Martian went down a bit. From the new characters, we all liked Blue Beetle and I also think they did a great job with Batgirl (akin to how well Robin was done originally as well). Season two ended sadly but still in a satisfying manner, and whetted our appetite for season three. However, we don’t have easy access to anything beyond what we’ve already watched, but maybe someday.

Superman–the Man of Tomorrow

Far less satisfying is the recent direct-release animated film, Superman–the Man of Tomorrow. This movie is about Clark Kent’s early days in Metropolis, and the origin of his public persona. Lobo makes a major appearance, as do the Martian Manhunter and the Parasite. I love Superman and his adventures, and at first I was feeling pretty positive about this project, but after it was all over I don’t feel I can’t give this movie a high recommendation.

Part of the problem is how familiar the story territory was for me, having just read Superman: Man and Superman. But beyond that, there were just more and more things I found hard to accept or engage with in the story–from the illogical way that Martian Manhunter pretends to be dead, to the narrative convenience of Lex Luthor accidentally blowing up a power plant, to the gruesomeness of the Parasite’s murders, to the oddness of having to show Superman basically naked for a couple of shots. Parasite himself is often an annoying and one-dimensional antagonist–he has an interesting backstory, but the villain himself is repetitive and a bit boring.

Sherlock

At long last, we finished the last season of Sherlock. I’d of course seen it ages ago, but for my kids (all three of them, even the older one less into the nerdy stuff) were watching it for the first time.

Sherlock season 4, is, as you probably know, full of a lot of nonsense, with it’s outrageous escalating storyline featuring Sherlock’s secret super-powered sister. I dislike the idea that we needed to “pull back the curtain” to reveal the villain who was really behind everything, even a lot of Moriarity’s shenanigans. I also thought Marys death was a bit trite (with her stepping in front of a bullet intended for someone else–I wonder how easy such a thing is to do in real life, actually), but even worse was her constant from-the-grave messages that she was sending along. Serious, who does such a thing? How long has she been doing it for? Were there messages coming all along that she just intercepted each time she was not dead? I also think that Euros’ odd “airplane scenario” in the last episode is a bit of a cheat.

Still, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are always a treat to watch, and I like the supporting cast as well–Sian Brooke as Eurus, plus Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs and especially Mark Gatiss as Mycroft. We all agreed that Tobey Jones was sufficiently creepy and also toad-like as one of the series’ best villains, Culverton Smith in the second episode of the season, The Dying Detective.

The Office

Via the combination of school holidays and unexpected lockdowns, my family has turned to the US version of The Office for some no-pressure entertainment. I’ve always enjoyed this program, though I’ve only ever seen most of it once.

I was particularly caught up a bit in the emotions of the whole Jim and Pam relationship. Anyway, I think we’re making our way through season 5 at the moment (Dunder-Mifflin has been bought out by Sabre, Andy is starting to date Erin, Jim & Pam just had their baby). One of the great things about this show is just how many episodes there are, which greatly serves our purposes at the moment, which is to always have something funny and light-hearted at our fingertips that we all enjoy.

WandaVision

And yes, there’s this little thing called WandaVision running on Disney+ at the moment. There’s been some divided opinions on this thing–some people find it confusing, boring or impenetrable, while others feel like it’s a really good new direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For the most part, my family is Team-WandaVision-is-awesome. Five episodes in and we’re all enjoying it a lot (or at least, as many of us as are actually watching it at the moment). I think the production team is actually doing a really good job with the fake sitcoms it’s creating, but then the story outside of that is of course fully gripping and intriguing. It’s nuts to see Wanda apparently having turned into such a crazy deluded villain, but I’m hoping there’s more to the story than that. Wanda just breaking down and losing her grip on reality would be true to the comics, but that wasn’t necessarily a good story decision then or now. So I’m still holding out for some element of The Prisoner to be part of this story–in some way, Wanda has created this reality because she’s trying to avoid spilling some sort of secret (there have been lots of hints toward this), but maybe in the insanity of it has gotten wrapped up in her own delusions about the life she could have had.

In the last episode we just watched, Evan Peters showed up as her brother, so maybe this has something to do with how Marvel is going to introduce the X-Men into their landscape as well.

Well, that should cover things for the next little while…

In the meantime, I’ll just continue dealing with the giant spider that lives in my backyard.

Just kidding. Apparently it’s harmless, and not as big as this picture makes it seem.

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