Author Archives: Mage Mistress
Supergirl – I’m not sure I can make myself watch it
I finally saw the First Look Trailer for Supergirl.
I was horrified.
I felt insulted, and it is not just because it is practically a shot by shot recreation of the SNL Black Widow Series parody. (Though that certainly doesn’t help.)
We start out OK with Kara leaving Krypton… and then the bad pop music kicks in and the recreation begins. Kara Zor-El is barely making her way down a street juggling her boss’s coffee and whatnot while talking on her cell-phone to make arrangements for some event for work. I can take bumbling – Clark always bumbled his way through things to hide his abilities. I’m distressed by the music choice (it’s so HARD to be Supergirl in LA!) but we aren’t unwatchable yet. Oh, and clearly Kara’s co-worker (don’t know his name) is an important character who has a crush on her that she completely doesn’t see. This would be OK if what happens later doesn’t happen – but we’ll get there.
Enter Kat Grant. I have nothing against Callista Flockhart in general – what I have an issue with is that before she even steps into the room we know that she is an anti-social stark raving bitch of the highest order. Apparently the only way for a woman to rise to a position of power in the business world is to behave like everyone around her is a fly to be trapped in her web having every last dream sucked out of them and their souls crushed.
Then we meet “Oh. My. God!” Jimmy Olsen… Sorry I mean James Olsen. Apparently Jimmy is too undignified a name for a grown man.
The rest of that scene is watchable, good even, and what follows with the sister and the plane is fine. I can even deal with the couch squee. (though by this point I’m cringing a bit what with the terrible music choices and sterotypical boss-bitch etc)
Then we find out that Kat Grant has dubbed this savior of the people on the plane #Supergirl. That’s the character’s name, and I don’t have a problem with that. What I DO have a problem with is the fact that this name comes from a horrible human being who clearly meant it to be demeaning and insulting. After all, demeaning and insulting are the only ways that Kat Grant is capable of interacting with the world, and this super being is stealing her thunder, right? Kat Grant explaining why it’s OK to be called Supergirl and not Superwoman could have been a great, empowering speech. It should have a been a great, empowering speech. So many of the right words are there! You just have to leave out all of the words around them, and the person who is saying them, and the way that they are being said, because the words are delivered in this snarling ‘I don’t care what you think. You’re nothing. I’m more important than you and I’ve decided that she’s Supergirl so you can put up and shut up or be replaced’ manner that actually makes it EVEN MORE DEMEANING. This is not empowering. This is excusing petty, shallow, jealous behavior because you have enough money and power to get away with it, and if somebody else who just happens to be your employee (be sure to point out that you’re the boss and Kara is nothing!) doesn’t like it you’ll fire them.
Explain to me how that is empowering?
And then it somehow manages to get worse.
We move to the rooftop, where Kara is about to tell her coworker, who clearly wants to go out with her despite being absolutely friend-zoned, that she is Supergirl. He doesn’t know that’s what she’s going to tell him, but it’s obvious that whatever she’s about to say is very important to her. It’s important enough to take him up to the roof where no one else will hear it. She’s stammering. She’s nervous. She’s trying to tell him something that is huge and deeply personal, and he’s apparently like her best friend or something. So of course he is supportive and listens to what this woman he allegedly cares about has to say – because he cares about her, and this is painfully obviously important to her.
Or he interrupts her and decides what she’s trying to tell him for her. To wit: “Oh my God you’re a lesbian. Oh Kara, that’s why you’re not into me! This is… this is… this is great news!”
Who thought that was OK? Who? Honestly, I want to know precisely who thought that was OK.
At this point, I am beyond horrified.
And not only does she NOT kick him to the curb, she proceeds to let him tell her how to dress, and what crimes to attend to, and basically run her life. Because, you know, she needs a man to do that for her.
We’re just about 5 minutes into the trailer and we find out there are actual real threats with 90ish seconds to go. OK, maybe there is something redeeming here.
10 seconds later she gets told that she can’t play with the boys’ toys and “if you want to help, go back to getting someone’s coffee.” Which of course leads to a good cry. The only thing missing is the fluffy slippers and the pint of ice cream, but in fairness they may have simply not been visible in the shot.
The remaining minute isn’t completely terrible, but by this point you’ve lost me. I’m gone.
And the real pity is that a new trailer dropped today, and THAT trailer is for a show I could have been excited about! Unfortunately I’ve already seen the leaking break lines and the busted rails ahead and I just don’t think I can look. They removed the most egregious things I saw from the original trailer (which whittles the trailer down from 6.5 minutes to less than 2) and added some additional footage of Supergirl being Supergirl – which was good stuff!
The problem is that Kat Grant is still going to be yet another vision of women only being able to be the boss if they treat everyone around them like dirt.
The problem is that it’s undignified to call a profession adult male ‘Jimmy’ so we’re changing the character’s name to James, but it’s perfectly OK to call Kara ‘Supergirl’.
The problem is that it’s perfectly OK that the name ‘Supergirl’ was given to her by someone who we have made it painfully obvious is a petty, shallow, vindictive, awful bitch who is likely acting out of jealousy and probably came up with the name out of spite as these are the only emotional states Kat Grant seems to be capable of.
The problem is that the ’empowering’ speech from Kat Grant to Kara about the name Supergirl that follows is where she informs Kara that she’s the boss and if Kara doesn’t like it then Kara can be replaced.
The problem is Kara’s apparent best friend and confidant being a complete jerk who leaps to conclusions about what she’s about to say instead of actually listening to her when she is clearly trying to tell him something that is important to her, and simultaneously thinking that the only way a girl he wants could possibly not like him is if she’s a lesbian, is still something she’s cool with and qualities she looks for when choosing a man to run her life for her. (And, you know, that she apparently needs a man to run her life for her.)
The problem is that unless they are going to rewrite and reshoot the entire first season all of that is still there, and I’m still not OK with it.
Open Letter to Hollywood:
If you were sitting down for an interview, on solid level ground that is not moving, and you were to be not moving for the entirety of the interview, and the camera person was to be not moving for the entirety of the interview, and whoever is filming this interview showed up with no steady-cam or tripod… you would backhand that person across the face while yelling “Where is the tripod you fool?!”, wouldn’t you?
I get it – found footage is neato! It’s the flavor of the month. It’s awesometastic! It makes you feel like YOU’RE THERE! One movie did it, NOW WE ALL HAVE TO DO IT!! Because if we’re not lemmings well then what are we?
I get it. I do.
The problem is that your entire film should not look like it was shot by this guy:
Why? I’ll tell you why.
And I’m being super serious here: when the shaky-cam makes your audience run out of the theater to vomit before the action starts there is a problem.
“As Above So Below” (and, for the record, ‘Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones” – I’m looking at you, too.) I wanted to love you. Truly I did. I suspect that you had some cool things going on, but sadly I couldn’t watch any of them.
There is a segment pretty close to the beginning of the film, and this isn’t really a spoiler so no worries, where the lead character (a female archaeologist) is doing a little before I made the find of a lifetime I was just this humble archaeologist searching for the truth interview. She is sitting down outside of a building. It is a bright and sunny day. You would hope that the person she hired to film this would be capable of holding a camera steadier than I can when neither he nor the subject is moving, and yet the entire segment looked like it was filmed here:
Now you may be asking yourself why I’m using still images to convey how motion sick I was. It’s a valid question, and the answer is that it felt like a valid proof of concept. I was able to make you understand how the camera (and the contents of my stomach with it) was pitching and swaying and why I was still sick the day after seeing this movie without actually inducing motion sickness.
The catacombs under Paris are such a fantastically creepy location that I can’t understand why there aren’t more movies filmed there.
What a pity I was too sick to be able to watch the movie before they even decided to go there. It was actually the interview with the university bobbing up and down in the background that did me in.
How sad is that?
I was able to hear the movie, and it sounded like I would have enjoyed it if I could have watched it, or if it had a narrator like an old school radio drama for those of us trying to not be asked never to return to this theater again.
So Hollywood, in closing, please stop with the 100% shaky-cam movies. Shaky-cam needs to be done in moderation to accent the frantic parts of the movie. If you do it throughout then at best your movie has no range. The palette has only one color (and only one shade of that color). There is no contrast. There is no false sense of security before shit gets real. There is no sense of urgency to the shaky-cam when every moment of the film is shot that way.
At worst, your audience winds up praying to the porcelain gods before the action even starts.
So please, please just stop. I like horror movies, and I want to support the genre, but I’m not sure I can justify continuing to pay theater prices for a film that I can’t actually watch.
RetCon 2014: Day the Second – Spaghetti Dinner
Saturday night was time to play the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game that I had been anticipating since RetCon 2013.
For those who don’t know, last year I had the extreme pleasure of playing a vital role in the Saturday Night AFMBE game.
“See? I have this patch right here! Do you know what this means boy?”
“You think you have the right to ask me to turn over my gun because you *claim* to be an officer of the law? Well where’s your badge, law-man?” I wait a beat to glare meaningfully at the individual in the hospital gown standing before me. “Well that’s what I thought. I am the one with the gun, and I am not stupid enough to turn that gun over to you because you asked. You didn’t even ask nice! What’s that? You think you have more skill with this here firearm than I do? Would you care to be a demonstration of my shooting ability?”
For the record – the person playing the alleged law-man was being a big jerk.
For the record – I am capable of playing an even bigger jerk.
I may have died that night, but I died so that the hotties might live. I died secure in the knowledge that, had I lived, I would have gotten laid.
Since that time I have been told, in no uncertain terms that I must play in the Saturday Night AFMBE game at RetCon 2014 and, if possible, play an even bigger jerk.
This year I got to play a trigger happy gun toting maniac with a wide variety Firearms Skills of either 4 or 5 (very nice for AFMBE) , and a slight Cruel Streak (1). Welcome to a “Fistful O’ Zombies”!
We started off the evening at the local saloon, which a group of banditos had just walked into. This looked like an opportune time to start polishing my shotgun while consuming my whiskey.
One of the banditos was giving the waitress a look that did not sit right with me, so when a different bandito (there were three) flipped a card table over I took that as a good excuse to blow a whole in the chest of the rude guy with the lewed eye. The preacher-man in our party decided to try to heal this poor unfortunate soul who had done nothing to deserve getting shot in the chest (giving that waitress the stink-eye was what you’d call “ill-advised”), but when he laid his hallowed hands on the guy the body shot backwards through the chair he had still been sitting in and fell on the floor in a smoking heap. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who hated banditos. I figured maybe it was time I started goin’ to church regular again.
In other news, shit was about to get real.
We managed to put down two of what we now knew to be zombies at the bar but the third escaped. We tracked him, and discovered that a whole zombie gang was headed straight for town! We acquired a map of the town indicating the day (tomorrow), and a name, but not much else. The sheriff was drunk, the townies were in danger, and after we cleared those three undead gang members from the saloon we pretty much had an all-you-can-drink-buffet goin’ on for us here so we were NOT going to let that saloon go down without a fight!
We fought zombie horses, we fought a whole gang of zombie a*holes, we fought a demon straight outta Hell and somehow or other they all wound up with lead poisoning by the time the evening was through.
Was my character a big jerk? Yes. Yes she was. She shot people in the face with a shotgun just for lookin’ at other people funny. She was rude, loud, obnoxious, and certainly better than any hombre! I could go into detail, but I’m pretty sure you had to be there.
When the game was over there would be only one day left of RetCon 2014.
It always ends too soon.
RetCon 2014: Day the Second – Savage Afternoon
The day began with coffee, as all days should, and then a Savage Worlds adventure I wrote called “The Search for the Dreaming Temple”. If you’ve ever seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” you know what I was going for here*: the hunt for a powerful artifact, Nazis, a map with a moving red dot on it to indicate travel to a foreign country. We spared no cliche.
I had figured on the team hiring some small boat to get them to Victoria Falls, the suspected location of the Dreaming Temple, but they wound up exploding their find a boat roll so I felt it necessary to let them get on a larger boat. So much for the hippo attack and getting stranded with a long walk through the jungle to go. Instead, they wound up on a boat with a group of four blonde Europeans. Fortunately they had received a communique at the hotel with an intercepted message indicating that the Nazis were also searching for the temple, so they immediately assumed that the Europeans were the other team trying to beat them to the temple. The research assistant was sent to investigate the potential threat.
The German research assistant.
He said he was a German Jew, so everyone broke out the Dewar’s and the Lucky Strikes and started cleaning their guns.
Later that night he was sent, by himself, to find out about the competing team without any supervision.
I am fully aware that was redundant. It bore repeating.
He promptly warned the other team that they had been spotted, that he was already in place with the American team, and that the American team had asked him to drug them to slow them down. (He also left the vials of sedative for them in case they found a use for the drugs.)
He returned and told the rest of the team that it was cool; they were just big game hunters on safari.
Oh! While he was out he also shot the American Anthropologist, and somehow (I can’t imagine how), convinced the others that it must have been someone on the crew who had been bribed to try to stop them. It was OK though: some Dewar’s and a pack of Lucky Strikes helped the good Doctor fix the Anthropologist right up!
The entrance to the temple was at the bottom of a still pool of water at the top edge of Victoria Falls. The team found boot prints trampling the river bank, and knew they had to hurry. It wasn’t easy, but they found their way in.
Within the temple they were seeking a crown that granted mind control abilities to the wearer. Naturally I printed pictures of many statues, two of which were wearing crowns. One of those two statues was standing on a dais surrounded by statues of cat warriors. It was 30 feet tall and had an ostentatious Hathoric crown on its head. The other was roughly 10 feet tall, stood way off in the back of the room, and had a much more sedate looking crown on its head. I’m sure you can guess which crown the Strong Back was sent after.
I’m sure you can also guess which crown the Research Assistant made a stealthy beeline for. Notice rolls all failed to spot him.
The true crown was snatched with careful timing to ensure that any trap that sprung would be tied to the goings on at the 30 foot tall statue. Both crowns were snatched. The other statues came to life and began to give chase. The cavern began to flood. The intrepid adventurers ran like the wind!
And arrived safe and sound in the arms of the Nazis waiting for them at the banks of the river, their guide line to safety in the hands of the fräulein in charge.
Knowing their spy was in place the fräulein felt no need to put the rest of her troops at risk when they could just wait for the Americans to surface and hand them the crown.
It was a tense situation with the Nazis demanding the crown be turned over to them. Demands and quips were exchanged. The eminent archaeologist attempted to use the crown’s awesome powers to get the Nazis to turn on each other, never guessing he had the wrong crown. He started with a simple request to toss back the grappling hook on the guide rope, which they did, but when he ordered one of them to shoot their leader he instead shot at Dr. Smith… rolling a twenty-three to hit (I exploded that D6 3 times!), and almost incapacitating him with that one shot.
“You have seen both our dedication to our cause, AND our fine marksmanship. You vill send ze crown to us vit… dat von. He vas being reasonable before you forced us to get unpleasant.”
Of course she indicated the Research Assistant.
Not only did Dr Smith hand what he thought was the crown to the Research Assistant, who already had the real crown tucked into his pack, he insisted on writing out a letter of commendation stating that the man deserved his doctorate for his services during this trip.
The Research Assistant then makes his way back to the shore with all of the items, offhandedly tosses the crown from Dr Smith to a Nazi goon requesting that he “hold this a minute”, says “I almost feel bad about this”, whips out a sharp knife and cuts the guide rope. He then opens his pack revealing the true crown! The adventure closes with him handing it off to the fräulein in charge, and readily admitting that he was the one who shot the Anthropologist.
It was a good day to be the GM.
*and if you haven’t seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” you are hereby ordered to correct that situation immediately.
RetCon 2014: Day the First
Ran “Adrift” as an “All Flesh MUST Be Eaten” module tonight. Never having run AFMBE before I was a little nervous, but it ran very easily and I had a blast!
One highlight (of many) was how easily the biologist whipped up a super deadly poison, and used it to kill a creature who was cooperating with them. The team then came close to accidentally poisoning a community of amphibioids by dumping the poisoned amphibioid’s body into the lake. I did specifically state that the level six success meant that the poison would work far more effectively than they could have imagined. Let me tell you, they would have brought down a lot of messy amphibioid death on themselves if they hadn’t argued about it and wound up burning the body instead.
And when that same biologist performed an autopsy and declared himself not guilty of killing the creature, who must have had a bad reaction to something he ate, I was amazed by how he managed to not lie at all during it. Well done, sir.
For the record, they poisoned the creature because the physicist (who left Earth to get away from the aliens that had been patiently awaiting the perfect moment to abduct her) was convinced that it was highly intelligent and playing possum until the perfect moment to strike. How she convinced the others of this I’m not quite sure, as I was working with the medical doctor who was trying to teach it to speak English.
The medical doctor was not pleased by the rather sudden and unanticipated death.
I was also impressed with how close to the lake they choose to be despite the fact that most of them couldn’t swim.
One poor redshirt NPC (Codename: Alpha) almost drowned in the lake except that the medical doctor jumped in and saved him, and the team contemplated trying to transplant the poisoned amphibioid’s gills into his chest so he wouldn’t drowned anymore. Remember that super poison? Yeah, I remembered it too.
The medical doctor wound up stumbling across the planet’s big nasty secret, but I won’t post any spoilers here because it’s time for me to catch a few winks before “RetCon 2014: Day the Second” begins!