Using the power of the Death Note, Light Yagami becomes Gotham’s God of Death and begins ridding Gotham of its criminals. Only one thing stands between him and a new world with no crime, The Batman.
Hollywood had a clear message that they wanted to express during the Oscars. They beat every viewer over the head with it for three hours.
Diversity emboldens us. Empathy and tolerance bring us together. Fear only serves to divide us. And that we must resist.
Last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the rise of President Trump set the stage for tonight’s award choices. A concerted effort was made to nominate diverse people and films. A record-setting number of black people won an Academy Award. The winner of Best Picture was not the heavily-favored and heavily-white La La Land, but the queer and black, Moonlight.
The same message was echoed in the speeches made by the Academy Award winners.
“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves, we are trying to show you, you and us, so thank you, thank you, this is for you.” said Tarell Alvin McCraney, writer of Moonlight.
The director of The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, chose not to attend the Oscars due to the travel ban but left a statement to be read from him:
“Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”
Strong words that no reasonable person could find fault with. Not could they find fault with the message. But in some brief moments last night, Hollywood’s true smug elitist nature bubbled to the surface.
The first such moment came during actor Mark Rylance’s introduction for the Best Supporting Actress category.
“Opposition is really good in society… Sometimes, the most supportive thing is to oppose. Something women seem to be better at than men, is opposing without hatred.”
This was a sexist blanket statement. If the roles were reversed, people would be up in arms. The purpose here was to empower women which made it a good lead for the award, but he bashed men too. This statement was contrary to the message of the night.
Another brief lapse came during Viola Davis’s acceptance speech.
“People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say,’“Exhume those bodies.’ Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. ”
The speech was impassioned, raw, and inspirational. But she also essentially that only she and her artist friends celebrated the human condition. She set herself above the common person. Struck me the wrong way.
And finally, during a long horrendously unfunny bit, Jimmy Kimmel brought out unsuspecting tourists to meet celebrities sitting in the front row. All the stars were laughing at the normal people showing up during their big award show. As if the average person was something worth laughing at. The skit had no punchline to it other than that.
As the tourists awkwardly made their way past the celebrities, Kimmel asked a young Asian tourist what her name was. She had to tell him twice as he struggled to pronounce it.
He then joked that it wasn’t a real name like her husband’s name, Patrick.
On a night when diversity was being celebrated.
Antiheroes come in shades of grey. Lou is the darkest of dark grey. He would be black in any story that didn’t feature him as the protagonist. There is not much redeeming to him. He is willing to manipulate and harm people to justify his own ends. Dan Gilroy, the writer of the film, describes him as a sociopath and refers to the film as an antihero success story.
The introductory scene brings Lou’s darkness out in a quick two pages. It is not available on YouTube unfortunately. So here is the scene in screenplay form.
In two pages, Lou gets established as a creepy man who shouldn’t be trusted by people. Common story convention says to introduce your main character doing something that shows us who we are. So we begin here with our sociopathic antihero cutting a chainlink fence. As he notices that he is not alone, he turns and gives this charming yet unsettling smile.
It’s not in the screenplay but it gives us our first impression of Lou. This is the first we actually see of him as the shot prior to this had him in the dark. Jake Gyllenhall killed it with his starved coyote look.
He seems so feral in both appearance and in how he moves. When the security guard’s light hits him, he reacts like a nocturnal animal caught in headlights. He gives his first words, a lie to get the guard’s defenses down. He feigns not knowing what he’s doing. We can tell he’s done this sort of thing his whole life. There is no worry nor tremble in Lou once he’s caught.
He smiles wider and advances toward the officer, where he can get a better look at what he’s dealing with. His confidence grows once he sees that his opposition is only a security guard. He takes out his ID, continues his lie until he’s close enough to pounce.
We are given this image to close out the opening sequence.
The fate of the guard is left up to our imagination. After seeing the entire film through and see what Lou is capable of, it’s scary to imagine just what he could have done to this man.
The Wire is arguably the greatest television show of all time. I haven’t seen enough classic television shows to give a definitive answer on that. The Wire never talked down to its audience and expected them to pay attention. Its messages were subtle. So subtle that at times the show’s messages could sail over the heads of its small, but dedicated audience.
How the audience perceives the message of scene is an important thing for a writer or director to consider when constructing a scene. The scene below is meant to show that Tommy Carcetti is no better than any other politician. He gives a long speech on how the city needs to be harder on the drugs-trafficking taking over the city. Carcetti’s words are passionate but lacking in substance. He offers no real solutions to the struggle of the people in Baltimore.
On the commentary for this episode, David Simon says that the performance of Aidan Gillen and the push-in of the camera imply truth to the audience. Aidan is so genuine in the fire behind his words that people don’t play attention to what he’s saying. Simon states that the push-in was done to show that this is Carcetti’s moment. This is where he becomes mayoral in the eyes of the people. He inspires people with the same words that have failed them in the past.
Simon commented that this showed that politics was more about the visuals rather than the words being spoken. Success in politics is about coming across as fitting for the position through your poise and articulation in debates. The content of your speech is secondary.
Audiences have grown tired of the traditional heroic story. A virtuous person rising up against the forces of evil and darkness is saved for children’s stories nowadays. Adults are bored with idealistic heroes. They want flawed individuals at the center of their stories.
What is it about antiheroes that audiences love?
I have been watching films and television shows about antihero protagonists to find out the answer to that question.
Every story needs the right protagonist. Death Note has a money one in the god of the new world, Light Yagami. A story about a high school student that finds a notebook that can kill people is a novel concept by itself. When that high school student is a genius sociopath with a god complex, you get the intriguing cat and mouse game that is Death Note.
Under other circumstances, Light would be a traditional hero. He has many heroic qualities. He is highly intelligent. Determined. Battling against the evils of society. His major flaw is his hubris. That same flaw is shared by many ancient Greek Heroes.
However, Light Yagami is a sociopath who revels in the destruction of his opposition. He murders thousands of criminals over the course of the story. He is so driven to his goal that he will manipulate anyone to achieve his ends. He believes he has the right to judge the world and no one should dare stand in his way. Those who do deserve death.
After killing Raye Penbar and a team of FBI agents sent to investigate him, Light Yagami realizes he has left himself exposed. Penbar’s fiancee, Naomi Misora discovers a clue that could implicate Light in the murders. Light runs into her and finds out her discovery through idle chitchat. He asks for her name. With a name and face, he can kill anyone. She gives him a fake one. With his life on the line, Light slyly gets the woman’s real name and kills her.
I chose this scene as it shows all the facets of Light’s character. This woman is his first real challenge. If he fails, he will be arrested and executed. He acts out of survival. He gains her trust with subtle lies and compliments. Once he has won, he tells her he is the killer the police are looking for. By then it is too late for Naomi to do anything.
On the surface, this scene is a man killing a young woman and getting away with it, a villainous endeavor. But this scene is a battle of wits. Two intelligent people go back and forth until one comes out the victor. Ultimately Light uses Naomi’s emotional attachments against her.
This scene is very well-thought out and logical, among the best in all of Death Note.
An intriguing protagonist only remains intriguing against strong opposition. The eccentric L. Lawliet is Light’s rival in this story. L is the world’s great detective. He is as ruthless and cunning as Light is. He has the support of the police force and applies immense pressure onto the wannabe god. The cat-and-mouse game between the two of them is the backbone of this story. The story drops in quality after Light defeats L.
It’s important to not try to force the audience to feel a certain way about characters. Death Note lets the audience decide on whether they want to side with Light or L. The story teller should be putting on a show, not trying to push morality onto the audience.
Death Note‘s Light Yagami is the reason this anime is able to appeal to people who do not usually enjoy animation. He draws the audience in. People want to see him caught. People want to see him get away with everything. No one would want to be friends with him, but we do all want to see how he gets past his next big obstacle.
I look forward to the upcoming live action adaptation of Death Note. There have been interesting casting choices made. The portrayal of Light Yagami will be the key to the success of the adaptation. If the writers and director accurately transfer his character to the screen, then American audiences will be in for a treat.
But that’s a big if.
Everything gets a reboot these days. Robocop. Ghost Busters. Spider-man. Batman. Superman. Every year Hollywood spits out a remake of a once successful brand.
Now the time has come for the hit 90s television show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, to be rebooted into a movie.
Trailer just dropped for it.
As I expected when the movie was first announced, this is a lot more grounded and realistic. The campy atmosphere of the 90s show is dead and buried. The Power Rangers are in a Breakfast Club type scenario. They ditch and get their powers from an alien rock. Then Rita attacks them.
My first impressions is that this movie is going to be forgettable. It’ll be in line with that Robocop reboot rather than a Dawn of the Dead. They have gone away from the source material. This is what the studio behind the movie must believe will give it broad appeal. Out goes the spandex and bright colors, in comes the dark palette and realistic costumes.
I don’t think this movie will be atrocious. It won’t be like Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie which almost killed the franchise. It will be a safe action film with unimpressive visual effects. I’m confident in believing this will have no lasting legacy.
The costumes for the movie and the tone of the trailer don’t seem appealing to children or the fans who are nostalgic for the original show. It’s in the sweet spot where it’s too serious for kids but not adult enough in concept to get people to go see it. Because it’s not going full camp, the movie will be trapped by the sheer absurdity of the Power Rangers concept.
Powers Rangers was a show where the main villain was trapped in a dumpster for 10,000 years. A giant head in a jar told a gold robot to get five teenagers with attitude to combat her in spandex while powered by dinosaurs. At the end of every episode, the villain made her bad guys grow a thousand feet tall and then the rangers got in their giant robot to fight them.
Trying to make this serious and grounded takes the soul out of it. Power Rangers barely has a soul to begin with as its an Americanization of an old Japanese show, but there is a soul there. There are ways to tell more dark Power Ranger stories. Power Rangers: In Space, Power Rangers: Time Force, and Power Rangers: RPM all told dark stories but embraced the absurd concept.
This movie will make some money. The budget for the film is 150 million dollars. I wager that at best it can make 200 million world wide. But even that I feel shaky on. The original Power Rangers movie made 66 million dollars on a 15 million dollar budget. That was when Power Rangers was at the height of its popularity. They will need more than 66 million for this to be considered a success.
There’s still a long time until the release of the film. I am keeping an open mind toward it. Trailers can be misleading. They are not created by the director. So the movie could be lighter in tone.
But from what’s been shown so far, it’s not looking morphinominal.
Under a punishing sun in the midst of Kenya’s vast grasslands, a zebra’s luck is running out. It has attracted the attention of three starving hyenas. The zebra is ahead of its spotted pursuers but the predators are gaining on their striped prey.
Out of the thirty zebras drinking and bathing at the water hole, this one drew the short end of the straw. It ran left when the other zebras went right. The wrong choice.
Were it not for the cut on its left thigh, this zebra could have escaped its drooling hunters by now. At top speeds, zebras leave hyenas in the dust. These hyenas are running faster than hyenas ought to. These starving pups are desperate for a meal. This zebra cannot be allowed to escape like the others.
But it seems that may happen. The zebra is beginning to pull away. The hungry hyenas are starting to tire. Days of hunting without a kill has weakened them. Their legs give way beneath them. Fortune is on the zebra’s side for today.
The hyenas growl and whimper at one another as yet another zebra gets away. The two bigger hyenas eye down their younger brother. The small one bares its yellow teeth and barks. It scurries away with its tail beneath its legs. Its elder brothers keep close.
As the calls of the hyenas grow silent, the zebra slows. The endorphins fueling its strength run out. The zebra moves aimlessly until it finds shade underneath a tree. The cool spot under the branches and leaves of the Acacia tree is a rare place of comfort in the Kenyan grasslands. The zebra lies down, exhausted.
Its comfort ends when the whooping calls of the hyenas return. The calls are louder and more frantic. A clan of twenty hyenas is converging on the zebra.
The hyenas fight with one another, snapping and cackling. One hyena bites the ear of its brother. They each want to be the first one to satisfy their hunger.
The hyenas are like a swarm of hornets. They’re biting, ripping at the zebra before it can make a sound. To the human eye, the zebra appears to be calm and at peace as though it has accepted its fate. But death for this zebra is as agonizing and painful as death can be.
The calm that human observers claim to see is the zebra’s body going into shock. The zebra feels each rip and tear of its flesh and bone as the hyenas wrench it open and pull out its organs. Its senses dull as the blood seeps out of it. Its vision will blur and its hearing will lessen, but its pain receptors stay intact until its last heartbeat. If the zebra is fortunate, it may die a quick death. An overeager hyena could bite down on its heart and ends its misery.
The sight of hyenas feasting on zebras is distressing for human on-lookers, but this is what becomes of animals on the losing end of the circle of life.