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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

#2,371: Wonder Woman

Alien³ - ★★★☆☆
For years, we called one of our friends "35" because that's how tall he guessed a hundred foot flagpole was. But it was also kind of a reference to '85' in this movie, which had just come out, I think. My point is Alien³(: Director's Cut) was much less bad than I was led to believe. It's a big left turn from the previous entry, but as far as James Cameron followups go, it's way less damaging to the series mythology than Terminator 3.

Plus, three movies in, we had a good time playing 'guess thesynthetic,' which isn't much of a game in the Terminator franchise.

The Big Sick - ★★★½
I thought it was an interesting choice for this movie to be set in the past, but not in the year the actual events took place. Like, Kumail is an Uber driver, and his car has the old Uber logo, so you know it's not NOW, but also Uber wouldn't exist until a few years after they got married.

The supporting cast is great, but Kumail kind of makes the same face for 'touched, deep sadness' as he does for 'flirty and aroused' as he does for 'indignant and frustrated.'

Water & Power: A California Heist - ★★½☆☆
Attended a free screening and learned about just how badly California is being screwed over in the name of ubiquitous pistachios. Like a lot of message docs, it wanders a little bit somewhere in the third quarter, but it's still impressive how impassioned the movie is, given how detached the director seemed to be.

Wonder Woman - ★★★☆☆
It feels like it would be very unpopular to not gush over this, but I thought it was kind of average.

I mean, obviously, we're all grateful they didn't do that "I am no man" thing again, and like any good superhero movie there were some terrific moments, but as a story it's pretty unsatisfying. Like Circle, this is a movie where the main character is just correct about everything from the get go, and so she doesn't learn or grow in any appreciable way. I think the story would have been a lot more powerful if there were no Ares, just... men, and the world turns out to be more complicated than it seemed.

However, if we can't have that ending because all DC movies must end in a fantastic show of light and noise, it would have been really nice if Wonder Woman had triumphed through the application of some skill or lesson or something that we'd seen at any point earlier in the movie, instead of random magic. When all the shrapnel takes off in her direction, I was engaged in the action. I didn't know exactly how she would weather the attack– had we seen evidence that her skin was Superman-tough? But if the solution is just going to be 'she uses brand new powers we didn't know about,' why even bother creating the danger?

Certainly, it seems like there was some other ending originally planned, because I can't believe that moment where Diana forgets her sword and has to be like 'oh, uh, wait here a moment, okay?' to the baddie while she goes back for it was anything but a patch, hilarious though it may be.

More generally, it seems like Marvel has had such a lead on DC that DC should be able to easily spot things that happened in a similar Marvel movie ten years ago and then not do those things. Why does Steve Trevor have to have the Steve Rogers ending to the war movie? For that matter, why is Steve Trevor so useless? I guess it's neat that, unlike Diana, he remembered something he saw earlier in the movie when he wants to give her a boost, but honestly? The four foot of height he gives makes that much difference to her 60-foot vertical? (Which probably should have smushed them when she leapt?) I'd like to see Chris Pine become the Sean Bean of his generation, as long as his characters' deaths in each movie always stem from their own clumsiness and ineptitude.

I'm not sure that the idea that all of the men are ineffectual to highlight Wonder Woman's strength really tracks through the whole movie. Maybe if Dr. Poison (!) had been the villain. Or even if she'd been Ares.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the Etta Candy and Sameer spin off movies.


Escape Room Reviews: The Hangover

Special note: I played this one for free, as part of a friend's bringer job interview process.
Company: 60 Out
Room: The Hangover
Date Played: 6/14/17
Player Count: 5, me and 4 mostly-strangers, including some first-timers.
Success:  Success!

Premise: You're in the mob, see? And the big boss is on his way back from the big house, see? And you better figure out where the money ended up after last night's little "party," or you're going to be the next one to sleep with the fishes.

Immersion: As is often the case at 60 Out, the set looks great. Good production design, and very few if any regular locks - the emphasis is on "magical objects," or things that can sense when they're in the correct position. Unfortunately, as is also often the case at 60 Out, a few things were broken or kind of worn out.

Highlights: This game starts strong with a non-linear section that let our group wander away from one another and explore. I like the puzzle structure of solving these puzzles so you can solve that puzzle, as opposed to 'and then, and then, and then.' Makes you feel like you're doing something with intention. The finale is kind of exciting. 

Lowlights: The pace really dropped for us at the midpoint, with a couple of moments that required our GM to chime in to let us know something was correct but finicky. 

And Finally:  The situation which led me to play this room was kind of an odd one - apparently part of the job application process to become a GM is bringing some folks in to play a game? I'm super curious about what they're looking for. The game went smoothly for our group of mostly-newbies, and I thought it was kind of amusing that my experience with previous games led me astray as often as it gave me a boost. As well done as the room is, I don't think it's as innovative or through-and-through great as some of the others 60 Out has on offer, so out of 26 games played, I'm going to call this #14. 

How to book this room yourself: Visit

#2,367: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Nuts! - ★★½☆☆
So this is the documentary (which was itself based on a book) that was the basis for a podcast that has been optioned for development as a movie. Ultimately, I was a little bit disappointed - in part because I was hoping there was a lot more to the story that I hadn't already heard in other forms, and in part because some of the art styles just aren't my bag.

Aliens - ★★★½☆
This is the one Alien-franchise movie I know I've seen all the way through before, and I was surprised at how much I'd forgotten. The manner of the traditional long, slow build-up. The way everything keeps getting worse. The part where Ridley is crucified for our sins. Wait. No. That's Christianity. I always mix up Christianity and the film Aliens.

Shimmer Lake - ★☆☆☆☆
Points for effort, but this wasn't so great. kind of feels like something you'd stumble over on deep cable. Or a Sci-Fi Channel original if there had been any sci-fi elements. Although the fact that the story is told backwards probably did make me more interested in watching this, the gimmick isn't used very well.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - ★½☆☆☆
Right after viewing, I figured it was probably better than part 1 because it bothered me less, but on reflection the sequel is probably the worse movie. It's pretty long given how little happens, and of course, because it's a comic book sequel, it's the 'what if they lost their powers' plot. In this case, that means we split up the team. You know, the team we spent a whole movie getting together, the one where everyone made the same speech over and over about finding their family? More like the team who all go on separate adventures in the sequel.

I've heard the original described as "Star Wars for a new generation," but Volume 2 feels more like a Trek movie to me. It's slow, it's mostly guys standing around talking instead of exploring space, and the wily and reckless captain has to face off with a weird, cosmic consciousness and its machinations.