atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6343: The Double Feature

I find myself forgetting which day it was exactly, but this past weekend Mrs. Fungus and I watched Deadpool 2 and Annihilation.

Deadpool 2 is, of course, chock-full of violence and profanity. Worse, it uses all that in an effort to be funny. Worse than that, it works and is entertaining.

And if you think about it, that's all 100% in keeping with the ethos of the story. Deadpool is not meant to be nice. The grimmest, darkest, grittiest Batman version you can find is Hello Kitty next to Deadpool--but Deadpool doesn't take itself seriously and is played for laughs.

#2 was not as funny as #1 was, but I found it entertaining. I noticed that Negasonic was suddenly an "out" lesbian; I don't recall there being any mention of her sexuality in the first movie, but suddenly in this one she's got a Japanese girlfriend with pink hair that I'll refer to as "Ms. Lesbian Accessory" because her only function in this movie was to make it obvious that Negasonic is a lesbian. Negasonic's part in the movie was also extremely minor, though, so it was not as obnoxious as it sounds like. And the entire thing was given a gloss by having Deadpool greet her in every scene they shared, and receive a cheerful greeting in return, as if to emphasize the intrusiveness of the character's insertion into the movie.

But it is still pretty obnoxious. It's like someone standing up in the middle of a family member's birthday party and saying, "Hey, I know nobody cares, and it has nothing to do with the occasion, but I'm a homosexual! Just gotta shove that in your face; enjoy!" And this is the sum total of Negasonic's character development. Whee!

The rest of the movie was really entertaining.

Annihilation was not.

Spoilers, but I'm doing you a favor:

Mrs. Fungus read a review of it and decided to put it on. Tee review gushed about how great the last 30 minutes of the movie were, even to saying they were "mind-blowing". Well, they weren't; they were neither great nor mind-blowing. What I saw was Typical Hollywood Sci-Fi Movie About Biological Menace From Space.

In general I do not like "biological menace" stories. Some of them can be interesting, but the most likely way that "biological menace" would kill people would be for them to die laying in a hospital bed, leaking vital fluids and not moving much. That doesn't make for an exciting film, so instead the biological menace from space mutates the shit out of everything, simultaneously making it look hideous and disgusting yet also making it incredibly dangerous and hostile.

Because "egad I've mutated into something with gelatin bones" does not make for exciting cinema, nor does "Hey I realize I look like someone took a bear apart and reassembled it inside-out, but I'm actually pretty friendly".

And all the alien mutations are always beneficial, of course, meaning that they enhance survival. This mutated bear is a super-bear, and it can take an entire magazine from an M-16, blowing half its skull off, before it dies!

Of course the military cordons off the area and studies it. Here's a little aside for those people who can't get the hint: if you spend three years sending people into the alien mutagen bubble, and no one ever comes back out, and you can't figure out what's going on except that you know the alien mutagen bubble is getting bigger and will eventually wipe out life on Earth? Don't study it. Just back off and sterilize the place with nuclear weapons.

Okay, the guy was a clone. I called that from the very beginning of the movie; he was a clone, and he wasn't human. And of course he starts to come apart.

After a lot of hand-waving, an all-woman team goes into the alien biological menace (ABM). Most of them get killed. Of course Natalie Portman gets to the center of the ABM and finds out the big secrets, and then sets fire to ABM and gets out, but she's been altered by the ABM, because that happens to everyone who goes in. The people outside don't really know that. After the ABM is burned to a crisp, she's reunited with Clone Boy, and the irises of their eyes glow yellow to show the audience that ABM has not been destroyed. Of course.

There was a lot of gee-whiz bio-gimcrackery in this movie, but perilously little story. It's a very basic "ABM ruins everything" yarn, which was old when the original The Thing hit theaters. This version came out of a best-selling SF novel; I'm guessing that either the novel was a lot better than the movie, or else standards for SF novels have really dropped. (Wait--NK Jemison won 3 "Best Novel" Hugoes 3 years running. Guess what that means?)

It would be interesting to see a story like this where the ABM abruptly died of smallpox or something. Heck, the story could involve a crack team trying to get a smallpox sample to the center of the thing to inject it. Only the vial breaks. Hero has never been vaccinated and contracts it, but when he gets to the center and is absorbed by the ABM that's enough to kill it.

The fad, though, is for humans to end up being helpless against the ABM because it's just so superior to terrestrial biology in every way. It's not the way to bet, of course, but Hollywood loves wiping out the human race.


This movie further tried to emulate The Arrival by relying heavily on flashbacks. It made no sense to do it here, except that it split up some of the exposition.

One flashback showed Natalie Portman's character having an affair with Token Black Man. This occurred in one scene, and had no impact at all on anything else in the movie, and its inclusion is inexplicable. The only thing this element really accomplished was to eliminate whatever minor fraction of sympathy I had for the character, especially considering that the timing of the affair was so poorly communicated I have no idea when it occurred. Did it occur after Original Boy went missing? (At the beginning of the movie he's been missing for a year.) Did it occur after OB left on his super-secret mission? And further, was it an ongoing thing, or was this the first time she'd strayed? There are no details given; the only thing we do know is that she stops in the middle, deciding that she no longer wants to have the affair. Nothing is ever explained about the affair. Token Black Man invites her to a barbecue somewhere near the beginning of the movie, an invitation she declines, so we know she has a history with him, but that history is never explained, either. This element is entirely irrelevant. It added nothing to the story. The affair (and Token Black Man, in fact) could have been completely excised from the story.

Avoid it, seriously.

* * *

There was another thought I had, related to SF in general, that I've forgotten. Oh well. I should go back to bed, anyway.
Tags: #1, #2

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