Friday, May 28, 2010

Empire Strikes Back is 30. Sex in the City 2 is new. Whither progress?

New over at Cap'n Wacky's Boatload of Fun:

It's Memorial Day weekend. Summer is finally here, which means there must be some fun movies to watch in the theaters now, right? Zonar lets us know why he's not watching Robin Hood, Shrek 4, Letters to Juliet, Prince of Persia, and keep scrolling to yesterday's post for a special all Sex in the City 2: The Four Whorseman of the Apocalypse post.

Yikes. Well at leat you can re-watch The Empire Strikes Back, which turned 30 this week. What more excuse is needed to post the link to Cap'n Wacky's Death Star of Fun again?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST finale thoughts: the last big reveal


Before getting into the spoilers, I'll start off by saying I loved the Lost finale. I found it enormously satisfying, touching, rewarding to those who had spent the last six years watching, and entirely emotionally satisfying. After the paragraph break, I'll get into details, talk more about what I liked, and what you didn't.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

First of all, I can't believe how many people posting online that in the end they thought they learned that everyone's first theory was true: that all the castaways died when Oceanic 815 crashed and the island was purgatory. What show were you watching? Did you make it to that scene in the church when Christian appears, hear the word "dead" and then turn off your TVs? There's absolutely no room left in the end to believe the castways died in the plane crash. Christian explicity states that everyone died, as everyone eventually does, some before Jack, and some many years later. Did you actually need him to speak the words "and most certainly not all at the same time in a plane crash."

This was not a cop-out ending. The dead-in-the-plane crash ending probably would've been. It would've meant nothing we watched for the last six years really happened. It woudl've invalidated the events on the island. Instead, what we learned was through the hardships on the island, these people who had been lost and alone forged real bonds, fell in love, and grew into a community - a community so strong that when they all eventually died, they created a new dimention - a sort of limbo (but not a purgatory) in which they reconnected, helped one another accept their deaths, and moved on to the next stage of existence. Far from invalidating the story we've been watching, it actually validates everything that happened. Every story we were told was a step they took closer together. Every hardship they endured strengthened the bonds they were building.

To paraphrase Lost: "Everything that happened, happened" and "everything that happened happened for a reason."

We didn't learn all of those reasons in the smaller sense, and for some that's going to sour the whole soup. For me, learning most of those smaller things was enough, since we learned bigger answers, including some that we didn't even realize we were asking. I can let go of not knowing why Kate was seeing horses on the island in exchange for learning the meaning of life. It's a fair trade for me.

Having heard in recent weeks that the producers intended to end the series in a way that left things open to intepretation, I was a little worried. I did not want a wholly ambiguous ending, though I didn't mind (and probably prefferred) and ending with some ambiguity. When we got what we got, I was actually surprised with how direct it really was.

There are still some things left to think about, though, and I'm glad of that too. The thing I'm thinking the most about now the makeup of the people in the church in the finals scenes of the sideways world, who was there - and who was not.

Michael and Walt: My wife and I were both fully expecting these two to show up, but why didn't they? Michael, we were told, was stuck on the island amongst the whispers. Since time was immaterial to the sideways world, I guess he remains there forever. Sad, but a fair explanation. As for Walt, Christian also stated that for everyone in the church, their experiences on the island were the most important of their lives. I'd like to think that with Walt leaving the island when he was so young, he went on to have more important experiences in his life, and forged greater connections with other people than he did with these castaways.

Miles - had it been up to me, Miles would've made it into that room too. The other freighter bunch I can understand were not as connected to this group, but Miles lived with some of them for years in Dharmaville. Surely Miles and Sawyer were tighter than, say, Sawyer and Boone, right? Perhaps the Walt explanation works for Miles too. As one of the few to survive and escape, he want on to forge more imporant bonds.

Vincent - Vincent 100% should've been in the church. I feel so strongly about this that I'm going to have to write another whole seperate piece about it later. Stay tuned!

Ana Lucia, Daniel Faraday/Widmore, Mr. Eko, Charlotte, etc. - I tottally get it. They just didn't have as strong a connection with this group.

Penny - But Penny makes the cut! Strange that. Sure, her connection with Desmond is totally strong enough for them to need to be together, but she's the only person in the room based on the connection she had with only one other person. What makes her the exception? Could we argue that somehow Penny had some degree of connection with other members of the group too? We could, but it would be a stretch.

Libby - Libby, similar to Penny, had a strong connection to only one other member of the group: Hurley (though she at least knew most of the others). Not a strong enough connection, I guess. Having been an important part of Hurley's earlier sideways epiphany, I would've expected her to be there.

Benjamin Linus - we'll get to, but first let's adress this question:

Who was really in the sideways world, and who wasn't?

Christian also explained that the sideways world was a world created by the castways so they could meet one another again and help prepare one another to move on. The place itself was not real, in the literal sense, and the places and some of the people there (such as Jack's son) were not real at all.

Still, I think that some of the people who we met along the way in that world really were real (at least in the same way out castaways really were there - in spirit form - as pure souls). Based on the conversation Desmond and Eloise had during the concert, I have to conclude that Eloise and Daniel were both real. From there, I'd have to guess Charlotte was too. From there, though, it gets really murkey.

What do you think about Nadia? I say not real. No sparks with Sayid and no connection to the group means not real for me. What to think, though, about his epiphany with Shannon? Was Shannon his true love after all? Sure looks that way.

what about Miles? Was that even him at all? Did he have enough of a connection to the group that his sideways limbo-whatever at least overlapped a bit with theirs? Is that the case with others we saw? Desmond's line about Ana Lucia not being ready certainly implies that she was real as well. Will Miles/Daniel/Charlotte/Eloise/etc eventually ascend together?

What about Benjamin Linus? No doubt that was really him, the onetime grand villain of Lost. For Benjamin, perhaps the sideways world was kind of a purgatory, though I think that if it is it's because that's what he's decided he deserves. Locke invites him in to the church, but it's Ben himself who decides he needs more time. I think he'll get there some day, and I'm surprised the series was able to get me to the point where I'd be glad for him about that.

And since I've gone on so long about the Sideways reveal, I think I'll end this post and write more about everything else later. The last big twist wound up blowing my mind one last time, just as I hoped it would, but it also left me with a great feeling about life and my own connections with friends and family, and thinking about who I'd be likely to meet again in my own sideways world before the next departure.

Disney Attraction Series #1: The World Famous Jungle Cruise

Here's the first of a series of portraits of some of my favorite Disney park attractions. More to come at completely random intervals.

The World Famous Jungle Cruise
Disney attraction portraits #1: The World Famous Jungle Cruise.
A 1955 Disneyland original, the Jungle Cruise has since been replicated or re-imagined at Walt Disney World, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland. Board a jungle boat and head out for adventure under the guidance of a witty and experienced skipper. This Adventureland mainstay began as a serious adventure through the world's jungle rivers into a hilarious pun-filled laugh-fest. This picture includes different boat styles that have appeared in the jungle over the years and elements of the various versions of the attractions.
To see a larger version, visit my DeviantArt account.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lost portraits series: Jack and Jacob


Lost portrait series #19 - Jack Shephard. The reluctant leader, but natural bossy-boss. Is it weird that of all the characters I drew for this series, I had a hardest time coming up with that two objects to put behind the show's central character? Kind of weird. Anyway, here's Jack.


Lost portrait series #20 - Jacob. Longtime island resident Jacob brings the Lost portrait series to a close. Namaste.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Second-to-last LOST thoughts, reactions, and speculations.


(SPOILERS)

Nice to see the real Ben Linus back, wasn't it? I don't think he's really completely gone over to the dark side, but at least he's being devious and ruthless again. I'm betting he's either got a plan to turn again old Smokey or he's buying himself time to come up with a plan. Whatever's going on, it looks like we're going to get some good Ben Linus moments in the grand finale.

The ascension of Jack Shepard. I don't know, didn't it seem like, for an event that you could argue was kind of the point of the whole series, didn't Jack's acceptance of Jacob's island protector position seem to lack much dramatic heft? It did to me. If this was really what everything was building toward, wouldn't you expect some dramatic close-ups, more oomph from the score, just... more MORE?

I have a theory about why they didn't play it this way. My guess is that we haven't really seen the end of the issue about who the new island protector will be. What did we learn in the scene leading up to it. The RULES aren't always really rules ("it's just a line of chalk in a cave, Kate"), Kate was (is?) still a possible candidate after all, the candidates were chosen because they were flawed (um... who isn't?) and alone.

If the island's history of repeating and echoing the myth from "Across the Sea" needs to be broken, and if the candidates need to change to become worthy, wouldn't a good option be having the island protector NOT be a lonely, solitary individual? Wouldn't it be better if the island had more than one protector? I think that's where we're headed. I think we're going to see a Jack/Kate co-protectorship after all is said and done.

But then that doesn't figure in the crazy sideways world, which is certain to have some real importance to the series finale. I don't know where that story is going, but unlike a lot of other LOST fans, I'm really enjoying it and looking forward to learning how it plays out.

Oh, and I was glad Sawyer tried to call Jacob out on his uninvited messing with their lives. I'm glad someone didn't just immediately accept Jacob as a purely benevolent being. I actually would've liked a bit more from Sawyer on this.

Desmond: Who got him out of the well? I don't think it was the Jack/Kate/Hurley/Sawyer team. If it were, why wouldn't they show us? Who does that leave? Miles? Claire? Vincent?

You know who I lost track of, though? The great mass of everybody else. The extras. The unnamed other survivors of Oceanic 815. Where did they go? The last time I remember seeing them was when some were being ferried off to the freighter and it blew up. Killing some, sure, but there were still a bunch of people stranded with Sawyer and Juliet and the rest. Where did they go after that? They didn't time jump, right?

Rose and Bernard (and Vincent): last we saw them, they had settled in 1977 and didn't want any more drama. But what happened to them after Jughead blew up? Did they stay in 1977 when everyone else jumped back the present? That doesn't seem likely, does it?

The big finish is this Sunday! Fingers crossed against crushing disappointment!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lost portraits - Claire & Richard


Lost portrait series #17 - Claire Littleton. She's gonna be a mom! She's the loveable sidekick's object of desire! She's ther hero's surprise long-lost sister! SHE'S CWAZY! OK, she's a girl and we have no idea what to write for her... but isn't she pretty?


Lost portrait series #18 - Richard Alpert. By now it's a bit of a cliché to make cracks about Richard's preternatural inborn eyeliner, but how can I IGNORE it, I ask you? Lost's biggest mystery.

Monday, May 17, 2010

LOST: Across the Sea thoughts (and spoilers)


We're heading into the last week of LOST as a going concern, so you'll soon be rid of both my drawings and obsessing over it. Last week's episode was a major look into the origin's of the show's overarching mythology, and I've been struggling to decide how I feel about it ever since (not, you know, not-stop. I have taken breaks for snacks and sleeping and such).

Some spoiler-containing thoughts: I'm really glad that, after all the rampant fan theorizing about just what characters from religion or mythology Jacob, hir nemesis, and the previously only alluded-to "crazy mother" really were, it turns out that LOST has chosen to build its own mythology (albeit one with echoes and resonance with many existing religions and myths). It's a stronger story that way, and the writers don't need to worry about offending anyone with their take on existing religions.

I'll admit that in some ways my faith was a little shaken by this episode, particularly the moment when the Nameless Brother explained the origin of the time-shifting donkey wheel: we're going to turn this wheel to harness the light with water and that will get me off the island. Oh. What? It just felt like a half-baked answer cooked up after a mystery was introduced, and that makes me worry for the bigger questions. However, there was a line about "smart men" being in the camp coming up with this idea. Further elaboration on this could help a little.

The origin of the cave skeletons, on the other hand, was pretty satisfying to me.

Then there was the big reveal of the magical cave of glowing light and life. I had long ago stopped worrying just what made the island special, heal people, etc. and just accepted the island itself as a magical and precious commodity. This answer - and I think any answer would've - felt like a reveal that just wasn't needed.

As to the story as a whole, I’m feeling better about it by thinking of it as an ecological fable rather than a religious parable (though obviously there are some strong religious elements involved – “take this cup, drink from it, and become like me”). The light/water being a sacred life force that man could destroy if they try to use it? Smokey’s lines about digging into the ground and how there are some smart men who have ideas about how to harness it? These lines gain a little extra resonance with all that oil currently bleeding into the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm hesitant to come to to solid of a conclusion about how I feel about this episode yet. I have a feeling in the few remaining hours LOST has left, we may be getting further revelations that will color our perceptions of what we learned in "Across the Sea" (was mother always telling the truth? I kind of think not). Honestly, I'm kind of hoping we do anyway.

Oh, and Allison Janney is always great.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lost portraits: Vincent & the Polar Bear


Lost portrait series #15 - Vincent. Probably the only individual on Oceanic #815 who was immediately happy to crash land onto The Island. One minute he was cramped up in a cage in a dark place without any people, then BANG - outside! Sand! Lots of people! BARK BARK BARK! I kind of wish the show had done just a little more with the canine castaway. We couldn’t have spared one episode for following Vincent around as he witnesses events on the island and then, via flashbacks, learned his shocking backstory? Could've been awesome.


Lost portraits series #16 - OMIGOD POLAR BEAR!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lost portraits - Jin and Sun


Lost portrait series #13 - Kwon Jin-Soo. I think if the characters of Lost were to all get together and have a big dinner after the show was over to hand out various awards, Jin here would have to get most improved. Think of how he showed up on the island, unable to speak English, paranoid of strangers, strict and controlling of his wife. Now here he is fluently bilingual, a friendly member of the community, and a loving and supportive spouse. Way to go, J!


Lost portrait series #14 - Sun-Hwa Kwon. Delicately beautiful, a demure and supportive spouse, a gentle and loving mother. Also? Do NOT mess with this woman. Ever.