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The Thanos Effect

thanos2It was surprising that nobody moved from their seats when  the movie AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ended. I wasn’t sure if they just wanted to see the post-credits scene which Marvel has been using as teasers or they could not believe how easily Thanos defeated the team of Avengers that stood on his way and turned many of them into dust after merely snapping his fingers.

I’m used to seeing a few people beginning  to move to the exits of the movie theatre when the post-credits start rolling. But that time it was different. It was like Thanos applied his reality-bending power on us and welded our a – – es where we were seated.

Nobody stood. Like me, they were glued on their seats perhaps with jaws dropped  and eyes wide open not believing what just happened. They probably didn’t expect it to end the way it did. Spoilers have already warned the movie goers (who do not mind reading them) that Avengers would die trying to prevent Thanos from getting all the infinity stones. However,  they and I never thought it would be that many.

It seemed that just like me, the moviegoers stayed for they were hoping that instead of a teaser what Marvel designed for the post-credit scene is to have everything Thanos did getting undone. Perhaps the gods and goddesses (creators) of the Marvel “movieverse” could have possibly used it as an opportunity to introduce time-travelling LORD IMMORTUS who would have moved back everything to the time that Thor attacked Thanos, tell Thor in the process to change his aim and make him target, not the titan’s chest but his arm with the gauntlet so he would not be able to put his thumb on his middle finger and do that infamous finger snap.

The post-credit scene which Marvel cruelly put at the very end was not something I hoped for though. There was no LORD IMMORTUS, not even one of the TIME-KEEPERS who may have possibly not approved of Thanos’ intentions. What we saw instead was a confirmation that Gamora’s stepfather succeeded in “murdering half of all life in the universe.”

At least those among us in the theatre that time who previously read spoilers had the idea that certain Avengers would die. But the spoiler-phobic movie fans there who may have intentionally shut themselves off any information about the movie, and might perhaps avoided watching the trailers (which I sometimes do), were gravely disappointed for perhaps they were expecting an ending similar to the first two installments of the Avengers’ series where all of their favorite characters survived (except for Quicksilver in THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON) and emerged victorious.

It was possible that  not a single one of us in the theatre was heartbroken when Loki died.  Moviegoers dislike him anyway. That’s the unfortunate role of bad dudes like him in stories – to be hated. None probably minded when after killing the Trickster Thanos said, “There would be no resurrection this time.” But I was thinking if everyone of us went back to that line and started wondering if that applies to all of the super, mighty and seemingly invincible Avengers who disappeared in thin air after Thanos made that murderous snap of his fingers.

The Winter Soldier was the first to flake into nothing. I, possibly the other moviegoers also, waited with bated breath who would go next after him.

Then one by one the other Avengers disintegrated – the Black Panther, the Scarlet Witch, and the Falcon. Those whom Thanos defeated in Titan were not spared. Dr. Strange, the Guardians – Star-Lord, Groot, Drax and Mantis were also reduced to dust.

Also killed by Thanos, aside from Loki, were  Gamora, Heimdall, and the Vision.

The silence that engulfed the  movie theatre after the post-credit scene reminds me of a funeral.

I am not sure If anyone of us cried. I didn’t. I was just a little bit moved when Peter Parker sobbed unabashedly clinging to dear life when it became obvious to him that he was randomly chosen in Thanos’ selective slaughter.

But the post-credit scene offered a glimmer of hope. Before Nick Fury disappeared, he successfully sent what appeared to be a distress signal to Captain Marvel paving the way for “AVENGERS 4.”

Of course, some of the Avengers, if not all, will be resurrected in the next Avengers movie. As to who among them will be brought back to life is anybody’s guess.

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Reconfiguring Mythology

(I wrote this essay a few years ago after watching the first ‘Avengers’ movie and before the showing of “Prometheus.” Screenwriters and movie producers have mined the pages of Mythology and Legend for their movie projects. Both Marvel and DC (and their partners) keep coming out with movies where their resident superheroes either make friends or clash with mythological and legendary characters and creatures. Watch “Wonder Woman” and you’ll see how elements of “Greek Mythology” were fused into the movie. Go watch the latest “Transformers” movie next and find out whether Merlin, King Arthur and the knights of the round table sided with the Autobots or with the Decepticons.)

Recent movies I watched (“Clash of the Titans”, “Thor” and the “Avengers”) have brought me endless amazement.  Amazed because my favorite characters in classic literature come alive in fresh story lines stuffed with visual and sound effects  that are breathtakingly outstanding and astounding.

But more than the amazement, the said movies  also inspired  me to revisit the subject in Literature that I have always considered most interesting – Mythology.

Of course we know that the Titans are entities from Greek Mythology. Seemingly, movie producers are casting their lots on the Titans nowadays. “Prometheus” (which is the title of the movie that soon I will be watching) himself is another Titan.  What remains to be seen is whether or not in the movie Prometheus plays out his role of stealing the heavenly fire for the benefit of humanity.

Conversely, Thor and Loki, who appeared in both “Thor” and “The Avengers” are both characters in Norse Mythology.

Generally,  script writers and movie producers  are seemingly mining the pages of Mythology  for their movie projects.

Movies similar to the aforementioned clearly show how enormous advancement in technology  benefited  Mythology.  There’s nothing now that creative writers can’t describe in their narratives that 3D and 4D computer graphics can’t project unto the silver screen.

The unbelievable visual  effects made possible through Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI) thrill movie goers and startle them no end. This is one of the best ways to present Mythology. All those imaginary creatures, out-of-this world settings and incredible circumstances would no longer be left for the audience to imagine but for their eyes to feast upon.

What would be the educational implications of this modern rendition of Mythology?

Teaching the said subject has become easier and learning on the part of the students become more fun. For teachers, the movie versions (or even just a few clips) of stories from the pages of Mythology may serve as their audio-visual materials. Discussions during  classes will be greatly augmented by the visuals students see in the movies. Lest we forget that the current generation of learners  are visual. The better they learn when presented with images, pictures and colors. With the right  movies, they learn while having fun.

It could be true that the movie versions of Mythology may make students disinterested with reading but one thing we should bear in mind is that the learning landscape has changed. Through viewing learning could be achieved as well. Viewing, just like reading , has lately been classified as a macro skill in language also.

These reminds me of the suggestion made by one of my students in Creative Writing before. She said that to make sure that the students would read the original story and not just rely on the movie version one activity that could be designed is ask them to find the portions of the original story modified in the movie version.

Could it be that learning Mythology becomes more effective through “viewing” than through “reading?” This is not saying that today’s generation of learners should no longer be encouraged to read. For each area of knowledge there is a corresponding macro skill most applicable. Methinks that for Mythology it is “viewing.”

However, teachers need to pay attention to the discrepancies between the original story and the movie versions. They have to warn the students about such.

For instance, in the movie “Troy”, the Trojan war took place in less than a month. In the original story (Homer’s Iliad), the war ended after ten years. The movie also shows Paris killing Menelaus which is not the case in the original story. The foregoing are but a few of the many discrepancies.

The teachers have to be on the lookout for possible changes to the original story. They themselves need to recognize the changes so the students get to be informed.

Perhaps the movie producers needed to tinker with the original storylines of the “classics” to make the movie versions more cinematic. Understandably, not all the details in the original stories can be included but at least the brains behind the movie production be sensible enough not to change significant details in the story.

Another thing that teachers should be ready for are questions like “Are the Hulk and the Iron Man mythological characters?”

“Myth” is traditionally defined as a story about gods, heroes or imaginary animals which has been handed down  from  one  generation   to another from primitive  times  and is  usually of a religious nature. Additionally the  purpose  of myths is   to explain some belief or natural phenomenon.

Should the foregoing definition be considered, the Hulk and the Iron Man are not mythological characters. In the movie “The Avengers” only Thor and Loki fall in that category.

Experts differ in opinion as to whether or not the companions of Thor and Loki in “The Avengers” be classified as mythological characters. Others contend that they are simply fictional  characters or superheroes that appear in comic books. Their stories do not bear the prerequisites for a myth.

Some are saying that stories in the comic books are part of “modern mythology.” It is not. In a strict sense the term “modern mythology” is delivering classic mythology using as medium the modern technology available nowadays.

What could really be considered as modern version of mythology are the “urban legends.” “Batman,” also a famous character from the comic books is said to be part of urban legend. Thus, if the  comic book character Batman, technically, is a Mythological character, urban legends being a modern version of Mythology, what about the rest of the comic book characters?

Then, the discussion goes in full circle again.

But who knows, with characters from Mythology and comic books finally brought together either as friends cooperating or enemies locking horns in the movie “The Avengers” a redefinition of the term MYTH may follow.

Source: Reconfiguring Mythology

“DON’T BREATHE”: A Review

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Would you not hold your breath if breathing may lead to your death?

This, probably, is one of the best suspense-thriller movies of the year.

It appeared to be just an ordinary home invasion movie in the first 26 minutes. That much time was used for the “exposition.” There are movies that took lesser time to introduce the characters and to establish their motives. But once the “rising action” started on the 27:11 mark, when the deceptively helpless blind man asked “Who’s there?,” I found it difficult to leave my seat. From there, the roller coaster ride begins with the switchback going in no other direction but up  and hits lots of twists and turns.

The source of the conflict is clearly “man against man.” But it’s not a predictable struggle between two opposing forces. It’s not the usual good against bad stuff for neither of the sides is good. Rocky, Money and Alex are thieves. What about the blind man?

The blind man, a military veteran living alone in an abandoned neighborhood, is about to be a victim of the trio targeting the money he received as a settlement after his child died in a reckless driving incident. So one would think that the blind man plays the role of the victim. But wait! The thieves would end up getting victimized by their victim. The blind man was supposed to be helpless (being blind) but his military experience gives the viewers a perception that he has special skills. What gives him a distinct advantage in the struggle, aside from the gun in his hand, is his familiarity of the nooks and crannies of his house.

The prey turned predator.

Will Rocky, Money and Alex succeed in getting the blind man’s money and come out of the house alive?

A portent of the horror that the young thieves are about to experience came when the Rottweiler, which turned out to be owned by the blind war veteran, came charging at them while they were on a car spying on the house that they were about to burglarize. Luckily, the windows of the car were up.

Rocky witnessed helplessly how Money was killed by the blind man and how he sealed his doors and windows to ensure that no one else would enter (and get out of) his house.

In the basement, when Rocky and Alex were trying to find a way out of the house, they discovered that actually the blind man kidnapped and impregnated Cindy, the young woman who killed the military veteran’s child.

Accidentally that the blind man killed Cindy when some of the shots he fired missed Alex and Rocky and hit Cindy instead.

The movie succeeded in making me glued to my seat… on its edge to be exact. I postponed peeing until I saw the final credits rolling. The scriptwriter did a masterful job in building up the conflict leading to the crisis. The most difficult thing to do in a movie is to maintain constant tension in a limited setting like a house. With so limited a space the writer managed to keep the action going.

This, however, is far from being a perfect movie. There are a number of loopholes.

No! It’s not how on earth did the blind man not hear the barking of his dog when the thieves arrived. I was wondering why too. But when Money opened the living room there I found the answer: He was fast asleep, the windows are tightly closed, and the TV was on.

Here is one of the loopholes… Rocky and Money are lovers yet in no part of the movie you can sense that the two are in love. What was more obvious was Alex likes Rocky.

What about this?…How could the BLIND man have succeeded in kidnapping Cindy? Unless he has an accomplice. His mad dog could have not done it for him.

Another one…The opening scene, where the blind man could be seen dragging a bloodied Rocky, could be considered a spoiler of some sort. Having that in mind, as the action progresses, it gives the viewers an impression that the movie would end up with the blind man coming out victorious in the struggle.

From that scene, the movie proceeds to flashback.

I think that that scene gives some anticlimactic effects to that exciting sequence where Rocky succeeded in luring the Rottweiler into the car and had the dog locked up inside. It allowed me to correctly guess that when Rocky was standing about to celebrate her freedom the camera would roll in an angle where the blind man will been seen coming to grab Rocky from behind…and that, exactly, happened.

That’s the end of the flashback…but not the end of the movie yet. There are 5 more minutes left after that.

I tried to guess what would happen after the blind man recaptured Rocky. I thought that that was it…the blind man getting Rocky back is already the climax. It turned to be just the beginning of the end. Rocky being brought back to the house would only pave the way for an exciting ending.

Rocky was lying on the floor helpless and defenseless against the blind man. Then what seemingly could be considered a “deus ex machina” appeared…an insect, the ladybug.

I recalled seeing a ladybug in the movie once in the beginning and again at that instance toward the end. Rocky also had a tattoo of the insect in her left wrist. She also mentioned in her narrative about her childhood how the ladybug made her feel safe. With both Money and Alex  dead, seeing the ladybug again in her most difficult situation, brought courage back  to her. She made the alarm sound to confuse the blind man and repeatedly hit him with a crowbar.

The climax came at exactly the 1:20:43 mark. The blind man, after taking a series of blows to the head fell to the basement.

Rocky came out of the house alive and with the blind man’s money…but the blind man survived.

The movie ended with Rocky and her sister leaving Detroit for California.

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