Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Superhero Media: The Lone Ranger (2013)

Oh, so Disney has the rights to The Lone Ranger, no wonder The Green Hornet didn't reference it, they would have had the pants sued off them. Actually, this film reminds me a lot of The Green Hornet in more ways than the obvious narrative connection; both have an acting choice that severely hurts the overall production, both show glimpses of the, far better, films they could be and both give a contemporary reworking (of a kind) that seems utterly unnecessary. Let's get it out of the way first, Johnny Depp was a terrible choice for Tonto, on many levels. Having a white actor play a Native American in a film where American colonialism is destroying the last of the Native Nations just seems like a phenomenally idiotic choice that someone should have caught before any filming started. I certainly get why Depp got the role, Disney were hoping to have another Pirates of the Caribbean level success with Depp as the draw-card, it just smacks of poor decision making and insular Hollywood ignorance of broader cultural issues. 



What really grates is that every other Native American in the film (even young Tonto) is played by a Native American actor and they are all killed off at the end of the second act. There's also a sub-plot with Tonto hunting a Wendigo that turns out to be his imagination, except that the guy may have eaten a woman's leg? That never gets resolved, by the way. All this is really a shame, because with a decent Tonto, or at least less of a focus on him, The Lone Ranger could have been a much better film. John Reid is a District Attorney chasing criminal Butch Cavendish into "Indian Territory", joining his brother Dan's Ranger posse to hunt Cavendish down. The posse is ambushed and everyone is killed, only for John to be resurrected by a spirit horse to become the "Spirit Walker", champion of justice. The film follows the protagonists as they hunt down Cavendish and his men, there's some kind of plot developments with a silver mine and an evil railway tycoon, but they fail to excite once you get there.



The one element that almost saves the film comes in the finale, in which The Lone Ranger finally emerges, prancing horse, silver bullets, William Tell Overture all combined with a dramatic chase across two runaway trains. It's pretty damn awesome. In fact, it's probably worth sticking out the entire film for; no really. Someone came in as I was watching the finale and commented that the film looked really good, sat down and watched the remainder. I'm somewhat reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, as both that and The Lone Ranger are pretty dull, focus too much on a tired Johnny Depp caricature and one hell of an epic battle that I loved (the big ship battle in Pirates). Look, this is on Netflix, you can gain access to liquor, give it a go, even just to see the finale. As disappointing as it was, The Lone Ranger did bring to mind the many great costumed heroes of the Old West that I can get to work on down the track. Jonah Hexx, Two-Gun Kid, Lone Ranger team-up here we come! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

See Wakanda and Die!

The NWA "Pirates in September" mega-game this year was "Plunder the Spanish Main" and, once again, I ran the native island adventure, which I typically turn into Wakanda. As one may expect, life became pretty deadly for any pirates brave enough to try and steal some of the treasures that could be found on the shoreline. Aside from some miscommunication with other organisers that led to a couple of disappointed players earlier in the day, everyone seemed to have fun and I had barely any downtime throughout. Enjoy the pictures and hope to see you in September 2018! 


















 












And for those interested, here are my Legends of the High Seas stats for the inhabitants of Wakanda:

Wakandans


All Wakandans have the following Special Rules:

Vibranium Weapons
Wkandans always wound on a roll of 4+, regardless of opponent Defence.

Panther Warriors
Enemy Models shooting at Wakandans must pass a “Spotting Roll” before declaring a Wakandan model as a Target.

Black Panther
S
F
St
D
A
W
C
FA
FT
5+
9
5
5
3
3
7
2
2
Equipment: Vibrainum Gloves (two Hand Weapons)

Lightning Quick: May make an extra, non-Charge, Move in the Shooting Phase.
Dodge: 6+ Save
Fury: +1 Attack on Charge
Fearsome Reputation: Enemy models must pass a Courage Test to Charge Black Panther


Wakandan Champion
S
F
St
D
A
W
C
FA
FT
4+
5
3
4
2
2
4
2
1

Equipment: Sword, Metal Cuirass

Skills: Leader


Wakandan Warriors
S
F
St
D
A
W
C
-
2
3
3
1
1
-

Equipment: Hand Weapon


Panthers
S
F
St
D
A
W
C
-
3
4
4
1
1
3

Equipment: Teeth and Claws 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Superhero Media: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Due to some mild trauma I experienced when I was fifteen, I really don't recall my childhood, or much before 2002. I have some dream-memories, which I don't trust for validity, and occasionally something floats up from the subconscious, but for the most part, it's all gone. One glimmer that remained for years was that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was a terrible film. It's not. Sure, it's not even the third best TMNT film, but I think that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III may actually be a bit better than Secret of the Ooze. The premise is silly (par for the course for TMNT, really), a magical lantern transports April, then the turtles, back to the last days of feudal Japan where they must save the local village from the machinations of Walker, a colonial exploiter leveraging the local Diamyo. As with the previous two films, the plot is pretty basic, think a stripped down Seven Samurai with four turtles and Western colonialism as the villain rather than bandits. 



Actually, that the bad guy, even in feudal Japan, is a greedy European man, is pretty damn smart for a TMNT film, compare it to TMNT(2007), where a colonially-minded, wealthy, culturally appropriating white man is the red herring villain obfuscating the "dangerous foreigner" mastermind. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is full of nice little touches and clever ideas, like the turtles, now 17 years old (they were identified as aged 14 in the 1990 film) wanting to stay in the past because they don't have to hide from people and are appreciated for who they are. Those familiar with psychological development theories will see something in that small part alone. The puppetry has improved again since the previous film, and this time around, the action scenes got better, possibly because the suits are easier to move in? I've done enough horse riding to know that it's actually pretty tricky, I'd hate to try it in a foam-rubber turtle suit and plastic samurai armour. 


Casey Jones is back, but relegated to a b-story about teaching hockey to the time-displaced Samurai Honour Guard; still better than the version in Out of the Shadows. Even, for the moment, not taking the decline of the turtles culturally in the mid-1990s, it's easy to see how there wasn't a fourth film in this franchise. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was, despite some truly clever moments, just not good enough to cycle into another film. Again, I don't own a physical copy of this film, and I don't intend to get one, but I'm glad I got to see it again as an adult and not have to rely on misty memory. Seriously, I remembered this film having child vampires in it? I'd say I'm confusing it with The Next Mutation, but I don't recall having ever watched The Next Mutation. Due to my non-existent memories of childhood, nostalgia doesn't really function for me, but I felt a twinge of something with this film.