Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

So I originally planned to do a craft focused post on some of the things I learned about novel writing after finishing the second draft on my current project. Then I found a baby sitter, so me and my wife went out to dinner and saw Thor: Ragnarok instead. Seeing as Thors and Ragnaroks are all the rage today I figured I’d do a quick review instead and save/procrastinate the more complicated post for later.

hulk     Also hulks, People like Hulks.

Synopsis

   Thor: Ragnarok is the third movie in the Thor Marvel movies and like it’s name implies, focuses mainly on Ragnarok, the destruction of Asgard, Thor’s home. It also features the return of Hella, the main antagonist, goddess of death and being of nearly unlimited power who casts Thor and Loki out of Asgard.

Thor is flung to a far off alien planet where he is forced to fight as a gladiator for his freedom, build a team return to Asgard and help defeat his sister . A Valkyrie shows up, hulk pitches a fit and Loki is hanging around too.

Thor review

Space Gladiator Vikings! the musical.

Style

I’ve always found the Thor movies to be particularly pretty movies in the MCU, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this movie might actually be the prettiest movie in the MCU. Just about everything about this movie is beautiful, the fight scenes are fantastically choreographed and do a fantastic job giving the audience a good idea of exactly how powerful Thor is. Thor get’s a short haired, trimmed down and colored up redesign. The Music is cranked up to eleven and then the knob is broken off.

The planet in which Thor finds himself stranded on is in the literal ass end of the universe, complete with devils anus. It’s brightly colored and feels like something pulled out of Guardians of the Galaxy, even if it feels like something of standard trash planet that we’ve seen in several Sci-Fi books and movies in the past.

I think there are some really interesting evolution between the trilogy of Thor’s movies, well two movies, I found Thor dark world so boring that I hardly remember what happened, something about elves or what ever. But what I wanted to point out is the different directors, Thor (2011) was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who among other things has a claim to fame for bringing Shakespeare to the silver screen. Where Thor Ragnarok is directed by Taika Waititi, a man who is famous for a bunch of things I’ve never heard of, that are mostly comedies.

Thor (2011) is beautifully designed, gives an epic scope and takes itself seriously while being punctuated with jokes, but moves at a slower pace. where as Thor Ragnarok is action packed, rushing through it scenes and whimsically bouncing between perspectives. the movie only slows down to make it’s jokes. Speaking of jokes…

rock guyLearn to love this asshole, because he’s going be hanging around. 

Tone

What the shit movie, seriously. Every review I read about this movie just gushes praise, that this is the movie that saved the Thor series and reinvigorated the MCU, What The Shit Reviewers.

Thor Ragnarok’s tone is just so completely different from the previous movies in the series and it was very hit and miss with me, leaning closer to missing more often then not. I mentioned earlier that the movie is fast paced and that it’s not bad thing. But the problem is that the movie is damn near incapable of slowing down for anything other then a joke.

There are so many examples of this happening in the movie that I’d spoil entirely to much of it to include them into review, but a glaring example is in the opening of the movie where Thor is having a bit of dialogue with a major villain while hanging bound from a chain. Thor spins around three times, stopping the conversation every time he spins away from the villain and the apologizing when he’s finally back in view.

Peter Griphin.jpg

This god damned Joke, in a Marvel Movie.

   After this joke out plays out Thor tries to end the conversation with a badass one liner and the that moment is stolen by another joke. This happens again and again at every significant emotional moment of the movie. Thor Ragnarok, despite what it’s labeled as or what anybody tells you, is a comedy punctuated by action. The movie feels like it was aiming to be in same vein as guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s other space action comedy.

There is no rest, no time for serious reflection on what brought the characters involved into their situations and how they should change to get out of it, none of the pacing that helped make GotG a sucess. Instead there are jokes that hand wave character development, Jokes that rush through emotional trauma, jokes that belittle the central themes of the series. Which is massively problematic for a movie that’s supposed to be a capstone to the trilogy that the series have been building up to from all of the movies Thor has been involved in.

Bottom Line?

   I like this movie, I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I do. Pound for pound it is some of the best Thor we’ve ever gotten, just not the most well executed. But still, go see, decide for yourself, I highly recommend it. Besides what else are you going to see?

justice league

Heh, now there’s a joke. 

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The Archetype has come together with Nightmares of a writer to produce a podcast with a mutual friend of ours. We covered multiple games, time travel, history and superpowers. If these things interest you click here and give us a listen.

 

Time travel in storytelling is almost as old as it is confusing, early writings pop up in Hindu mythology with the story of king Kakudmi who travels through time after moving to another plane of existence and back.  The king finds he’s traveled ages into the future and all of his friends and family dead, this is just one of many old stories that show up with men traveling to the future in various ways.

Time Travel to the past is more recent idea that only started to show up in early 1800’s With first story being told by a Russian author Alexander Veltman who wrote about going back in time to meet Aristotle and Alexander the Great.

But enough about History let’s get into the good stuff. What makes time travel interesting is hard to pin down when you take into consideration how it’s used. Is time travel your heroes superpower? Is it a one time thing? Can you control it with a time machine or is a random thing?


Does it require you to get to 88mph

Time Travel primarily functions in one of two ways in fiction, one is as a setting where the lead character and company travel to different periods of time to go about there story. The second and more confusing way is as a plot device which can and usually does include time travel as a setting but also as device to give the story more depth and complexity.

Time Travel as a Setting

Time travel as a setting is best favored by fiction that follows an episodic narrative. This format for time travel is widely used cartoons, Live action shows, comics and any other media where the setting can be changed from episode to episode and the time travel itself is just a means of changing that setting. This may not be the first thing that come to your mind when you think of time travel but it is the most common as it’s often feature in children’s cartoons like Phineas and Ferb where inventing a time machine was really just another way to have an adventure, while most cartoons only used this form of time travel as one shot gimmick for that weeks episode, some cartoons built this version of time travel as their shows engine for moving the story.

Flint the Time Detective - Can't We All Get Along? (DVD) Cover Art
If you don’t remember this then your not old enough to use the internet

Flint The Time detective was a show that followed the evolving monster models that Pokemon had already established, Flint was a boy who traveled far and wide to catch monsters. Sound familiar, what set flint apart from it’s contemporaries was it’s driving gimmick, time travel. Flint was a cavema… caveboy and each episode had him travel through time trying to hunt down different cute and quirky monsters. Without time travel as a setting Flint would have never gotten off the ground. It also needs to be pointed out that this format hasn’t been restricted to kid’s cartoons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured a video game based around time travel as a setting called Turtles in Time where each level was placed in a different era in time. Maybe more famously the 2005 re-boot of Doctor Who heavily featured this in it’s first season and still does now, thought it grew more complex as the show went on.

When done well this form of time travel can be used to produce interesting characters and settings to help enrich your story, however some authors tend to rely on the gimmick as a way of making there story interesting instead of using it to help create interesting characters and places. Once again I’m going to turn back to Doctor Who  primarily the first season of the reboot where the Time Travel was used mostly as means of putting the Doctor and his companion into different settings like a space station orbiting a dying earth or elizabethan England. The early episodes featured fantastical places but had poorly developed characters. While the Doctor was plenty interesting, Rose Tyler suffered early on in the series, and her mother and ex-boyfriend never became more then buzzing noise in the audience’s ears as they tried to watch the show. Russel T. Davies, the shows main writer at the time, leaned heavily on his settings and forgot to  make interesting characters and regardless of where in time your fiction is taking place, if the people in it or boring the rest of the story will be as well.


But all will be forgiven if they bring back Jack

Time Travel as a Plot Device

Time travel as a plot device is often more confusing and far more prone to abuse.  In it’s plot device form is easily applicable to all forms of fiction and media, and while it can used different ways by different writers the main similarity is that it is a constant and controllable device that is used for more then just shuttling characters from place to place.

But what separates the good from the bad? The mark of an author using time travel well is that it allows them to both create and solve problems in a unique fashion. It important to note that Time travel can be used to create trouble for the lead, if it’s only a positive force with no limitation it begins to create problems for the writer as they struggle with ways to challenge the stories lead. Limiting the leads ability to travel through time and having those same abilities used against him forces the writer to come up with creative ways solve problems and serves as an excellent way to build tension and gives the audience something worth viewing.

No one seems to do this better then the current lead writer for Doctor Who, Steven Moffat and nobodies done it better then what is possibly the most famous episode of the rebooted DW series, Blink. Spoilers ahead fellows so If you haven’t watched This particular episode of DW leave now, I mean it. Go google the episode, watch and then come back here and finish this article.Are they gone? good, okay, let’s get back to the article.


Bring me my brown pants

Blink is one of the better if not the best known DW episodes for a host of reasons, what aspiring writers want to focus on is how Moffat used time travel against the characters in the show to drive up tension and emotions. He used time travel from the beginning to ramp up tensions, first with messages from the past, then with mysterious notes and disappearing friends and then with a dying love interest. All of which happen because they were transported back in time and the same things that got them are after the shows lead sally sparrow. Moffat also used this as chance to show off the Doctor’s brilliance, instead having him sonic his way out of the situation as many a writer have done, Moffat instead chose to have the Doctor work out his problems without the use of his TARDIS and mostly off screen. By sending messages through time the slow way, by writing recording and waiting, the Doctor was able to communicate with sally sparrow so she could retrieve the TARDIS and save the day.

Another interesting thing to note about this episode is that Moffat kept the setting relativity current, with only a few scenes from the past and having most of the episode take place in the present, time travel was used strictly as a device for the characters to use to move the story forward.

While Moffat used time travel brilliantly, the most common problem with using time travel is that it get’s awfully complicated awfully quick, Moffat makes a nod toward this in Blink by the doctor try to explain time as “a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.” Because of this time travel has been abused and misused on numerous occasions either leading to fridge logic, like why on earth didn’t Harry Potter just a time turner to solve everything ever or how many episodes of DW are laced with paradoxes that aren’t even attempted to be given a nod, both examples leave their viewers saying WTF?.


But.. how.. when… A Fez? This doesn’t even make sense

The problem comes from a writer looking for either a quick way out of problem they’ve landed their character in or that they were looking for a way to give their story more depth and complexity and instead just made it muddled and confusing. Your audience will like having their minds blown, they won’t like being left confused and frustrated.

Time Travel and You

As you can see time travel can get complicated, but don’t let it scare you away from writing with it. While you’ll probably blunder through it for a while you can take solace in the fact that people Like Moffat and Davies screw up even at the professional level. And don’t be afraid to let your creativity flourish, the rule of cool applies to most time travel stories and if it’s interesting enough most viewers will let it pass even if it get’s hard to understand and if they start asking to many questions just tell them “It’s complicated” and hope they don’t respond “I’m clever.”

“My Cabbages!”

“There you are Perry.”

“Aw here it goes!”

“Note this before my notes;
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.”

“You should come in the box”

“You tell those spiders Ron.”

“A baby’s gota do what a baby’s gota do”

Any Chance you’ve figured out what our little topic for today discussion is? I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of those before. That’s right were talking about running gags. The Inside joke of the media world though it’s been around a lot longer then what we consider media. can you place all the jokes? Answers at the bottom of the article.

A running gag when, done well, can do a couple of things like :

Help bind the plot together to give a sense of progression, the animated series “Avatar: the last Air bender” did a good job of this, The same jokes showed up in different places at different times contrasting just how far the group had come from the begging of the series, in fact a couple of their jokes have ran right into their new series for a couple of laughs.

If your like Phinease and Ferb however, the Jokes aren’t just a means of moving your story along, they are your story, This great little children’s show (Don’t Judge me) runs on a series self contained mini adventures as opposed to a long narrative arc, and it’s running jokes make the whole most of the episode and help develop characters, I mean half the show runs on the gag of a platypus constantly being secretly and oddly to spy style base of operation to fight a self proclaimed mad scientist. But it also uses it’s gags to tie it’self together reminding the watchers that thing last week happened and it’s still funny.

That’s not to say that some gags have been thrust into a show repeatedly even though they weren’t funny or well after they lost their hilarity. I’m sure you’ve seen a few of these, thinking yes Seth I like to see Peter fight a giant chicken and nearly die, I do not however want another scene of peter skinning his knee an sitting on the side walk for a minute and a half. I bad running joke is one that was funny but only becomes and nuisance or one that was never funny at all. they often lead to the feeling of wanting the show, or book or comic to move on already.

But let’s not leave on what makes a bad gag let’s leave on a good one, the thing about a good gag is that it builds on it’self, what was only mildly funny becomes increasingly entertaining. But more then anything else, the gag can’t feel obtrusive, shoe horning a gag into a plot just feels out of place and leave the audience feeling pulled out of the story. A good gag needs to use the attention it gather to drive the plot further and get a good laugh.

“My Cabbages!” Cabbage vender in Avatar: TLAB

“There you are Perry.” Phinease from phineas and ferb

“Aw here it goes!” Kel from keenan and Kel

“Note this before my notes;
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.” Balthazar in Much ado about nothing(in Elizabethan English nothing would sound close to noting as well, the joke was in the name)

“You should come in the box” Naked Snake metal gear solid 3(a running gag through out all the major games)

“You tell those spiders Ron.” Harry speaking about Ron’s fear of spiders, which is the real gag

“A baby’s gota do what a baby’s gota do” Tommy from rugrats