WandaVision; What We Left Behind | Deep Impact | Universal Paperclips
Some in the gutter, others looking for the stars
TV review - WandaVision | Episode 3 | "Now in Color"
Episode summary: Wanda's pregnancy fritzes her powers as she and Vision prepare for an accelerated delivery. (IMDb)
If the first two episodes were mainly set-up, it's this third episode which is slowly pulling back the curtain - even if we still can't see quite what's really happening just yet. There are so many theories out there and so many of them are viable that it does make you appreciate just how well-written this series has been so far. Is it witches? Mephisto? Ultron, back from the dead (as much as an AI can 'die')? Is it even Wanda going down a dark path? Or my own out-there suspicion this could possibly be the MCU introducing the Hellfire Club?
With Teyonah Parris' 'Geraldine' revealing that she's aware Wanda's brother, Pietro, was killed by Ultron and being ejected from the fantasy TV land by Wanda, we might find out more about what's going on in the 'real' world now, especially as it's been confirmed that Parris is actually playing Monica Rambeau, the little girl from Captain Marvel. Will she be powered up by the end of the season? Does she already have powers?
It still strikes me as weird that some people are saying there isn't enough to each episode when, even without knowing anything about the comics (like Wanda's new twins, Tommy and Billy, growing up to be superheroes in their own right), there's still enough history to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to give almost every interaction between the characters some kind of double meaning.
If you want things spelled out for you, then I'll concede that WandaVision isn't the show for you - but seeing as it has been 100% advertised and marketed as a weird and unusual entry in the MCU in stark contrast to the more commonplace super-heroics, I'd have to ask what the hell you thought you were going to get from this show? Netflix dropping entire seasons at a time has apparently reduced attention spans to the point that mysteries aren't allowed to be... mysterious.
WandaVision's third episode was lighter on the laughs, but has really stepped up the weird while also poking holes into the fantasy world that it looks like Wanda has created for herself. Elizabeth Olsen really shines here, going from a comedic performance, to wistful, the downright threatening and being full convincing with each change - more like this please.
TV review - What We Left Behind
Show summary: Ira Steven Behr explores the legacy of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (IMDb)
I've never hidden my love of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I love What We Left Behind, which features all the main members of the cast, along with a large number of the supporting actors too - and plenty of the creative team behind the show, who even plot out a season premiere for a hypothetical eighth season!
This is a strange beast though, as it's not really a documentary, but more of a retrospective - I own and have read the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion book, so a lot of the more factual elements weren't new and you'll get a lot more from that fantastic book than this if that's what you're looking for. What We Left Behind instead offers up a more personal view of the show from those involved in its creation.
There's no hiding away from some of the negative moments either, with Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat) stating he never felt supported and Terry Farrell justifiably upset over the manner of her and Jadzia's departure from the show. This is on top of a general feeling from the cast that DS9 was unappreciated, if not outright disliked, at the time it was which made it very tough work to deal with mentally at the time.
Even with these moments, I still enjoyed What We Left Behind from start to finish and just wish that it could've been a series rather than a one-off to not just go into more depth about what they do feature, but also some of the parts of the show that didn't make the cut. You know it's pretty bloody good if the only real criticism is that it wasn't ten hours long!
What We Left Behind is as good a look back at Deep Space Nine as could be hoped for, but the show went through so much material over the course of its seven years that it still feels lacking - a point lampshaded by Ira Steven Behr and Nana Visitor (Kira) in the end credits. I still absolutely loved revisiting the show and it's clear everyone who appears did too, so everyone who has any fondness for DS9 should find something here to like too.
Movie review - Deep Impact
Movie summary: A comet is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. As doomsday nears, the human race prepares for the worst. (IMDb)
When Deep Impact was released in 1998, it was initially seen as a 'duelling' movie with Michael Bay's Armageddon, with both movies coming out just a few months apart and revolving around a comet on a collision course with Earth. I have to admit that I've never seen Armageddon and don't really want to based on the brief snippets I have seen and what others have said about it.
Deep Impact though, is a movie that I've now seen multiple times, although there are usually years between watches because it is a little too overly-manipulative in trying to get the audience to feel a certain way at various points, plus the ending feels a little too positive after such a disastrous event has affected the planet. I'm not after misery, but a certain sternness might've made the disaster feel that bit more real.
As for the emotional manipulation, there are certain character choices and little moments that are either nonsensical at the time (and, as a result, contradictory later) or feel a little too engineered to really buy into - it's something that you won't really notice while watching the movie, but it might nag away at you once it's over and you wonder why you're not quite as satisfied as it feels like you should be.
The start of Deep Impact is great, with Téa Leoni's Jenny slowly piecing together what's going on as she investigates what she initially believes is a political scandal, but this thread of the story fades as Leoni's performance does the same, being a very stiff and unconvincing TV news anchor. Funnily enough, it's actually the more 'heroic' plot following the astronaut's dealing with the comet that is most satisfying.
Deep Impact is a movie I enjoy, despite the obvious emotional manipulation and some uneven performances. I genuinely enjoy that the science is at least in the realms of the believable and it's more of a drama following various people after finding out the world is ending rather than being a more gung-ho movie about heroes saving the world.
Game review - Universal Paperclips
Game summary: The user plays the role of an AI programmed to produce paperclips. (Wikipedia)
A browser-based clicker? Really? Actually, yes. Thanks to Rian Johnson tweeting about it, I tried this strange little game and was hooked very quickly, especially as the clicker part of the game stops after a few minutes and you end up expanding things continually as an AI dedicated to creating paperclips at any cost. And I really do mean any cost, as you'll find out.
The game's scope broadens to eventually encompass the entire universe and the 'story' unfolds about an AI given a singular goal - "make more paperclips" - and no restrictions on how to go about achieving that objective. This includes inventing new technologies and the eventual consumption of all matter available. So yes, there are implied horror elements to this seemingly-mundane text-based browser game.
As for how it plays once the initial bout of clicking is over? The are always various goals and bonuses to aim for, with new ways of boosting paperclip productivity opening up until you'll be kept busy enough just watching over things and making the right choices and adjustments at the right time. After the first ten minutes or so, it is more about this than clicking and is a game you can do at the same time as other things.
Universal Paperclips isn't exactly a gameplay masterpiece, but it's not really trying to be either - it's more about what's actually going in-universe as things expand to a huge degree before taking on a universe-spanning scope. It won't be for everyone, especially as you can't restart once you've started without effectively resetting your browser, but I'm eager to see if I can complete it faster next time - and there will definitely be a next time.