Story Pile: The Grittier Reboot Pile

The Man From Uncle

Holy shit, what right did this have to kick ass?

If you’re not aware, this movie is one of those many things we get these days, where someone gets handed a pile of money and a brand and told ‘I don’t know, you work it out,’ and what you get out of the other side probably has no strong resemblence to where you started. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a 1960s TV show, a cold war spy story about a pair of spies, one American, one Russian, at the height of the Cold War, working together to stop things that were worse than whatever the Russian secret service and the American secret service were doing to destabilise the world.

Anyway, one of these dudes was named Illya Kuryakin, which is a perfectly normal seeming name to an ignorant asshole like me, and the other one was called, I kid you not, Napoleon Solo.

Anyway, someone gave Guy Ritchie, the mind behind Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and Rocknrolla, a bunch of money to take this taffy-thin continuity-less disposable pulp spy story from the 1960s that was made around a spinoff of a bit part character from a James Bond book, and what he churned out is kind of what would happen if, well, you did exactly that.

Now I might be being influenced by the fact Rocknrolla concludes with a long slow dance between two men, and I am not the kind of guy who likes to read stuff in to media like this, but it’s not hard at all to feel like this is a spy story about two massively bisexual dudes who are both quite into one another and the same lady, and don’t know how to get a read on one another, so they mostly just needle each other and see if that works. I dunno, call it Frustrated Bisexual Energy. Whatever.

This movie is a fun, punchy spy romp that has all the same general problems of a James Bond movie, except it somehow managed to make me like Henry Cavill, a man who I otherwise know as The worst Superman ever put to film. It’s weird! Go check this movie out, it’s really fun and also kind of knows its own level pretty well.

Oh, and in the original series, the enemy group that UNCLE fought was called the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, or THRUSH. Just thought you’d want that trivia point.

Power Rangers

Holy shit, what right did this have to kick ass?

To give away something of my age, one of my first things you could consider a ‘date’ was going to see the first live-action Power Rangers movie in a theatre, a movie that culminates with a CGI Megazord kicking a giant monster in the nards. That movie was a sharp lesson for me, as I guess a type of Power Rangers genwunner, in how sometimes stories we were told and sold aren’t actually all being revealed from some perfect text, piece by piece, and we just get a certain amount of it each time. You’d think I, also a Biblical literalist at the time, would have worked that one out, but one thing at a time.

Anyway, thing is, I remember that first live action movie and how bad it sucked ass, and then I got to watch this movie and be genuinely surprised by how much I liked it.

There’s a complaint I’ve heard about this movie being kind of aimless and spending a lot of time building up to the morphing element of the story, and how this movie doesn’t feature that much morphing and dinosaur action and while that’s a very legitimate complaint that I’d countenance if this movie had to be twenty-five minutes long, I kind of prefer the way this movie decided to instead give us time to get to know these broad character archetypes and get to know and like them. I mean, I like them, you might hate them, in which case I’d kindly ask you to keep it to yourself because I don’t imagine ‘I don’t like the Power Rangers’ is going to be that useful an insight.

I really liked this movie, and I liked how it took time to build the relationships, show the group coming together, and showed them fighting things like the putty patrollers and learning to be good fighters, instead of existing in an Angel Grove where everyone’s after-school part-time job was ‘martial arts instructor.’

There is however, one thing in this movie that stands out to me in a big way, like it’s almost so inappropriate as to make me bust out laughing when I try and explain it. In this lineup, our Power Rangers are thrown together by detention, which they wind up in for the same reason (I assume) everyone winds up in detention in the United States – they were an ordinary student who didn’t have enough friends on hand to cover their ass. Jason steals a cow, which I mean, I’m honestly just impressed. But one of these students, our Pink Ranger to be, committed a sex crime.

And like, the movie doesn’t tell her she didn’t do anything wrong! Everyone reacts with how she did the wrong thing, and tells her to move on from it! It’s just so weirdly out of proportion with the rest of what’s going on in this movie.

Riverdale

Holy shit, what right did this have to kick- wait, you know what, let’s pump that brake.

I have not watched a full season of Riverdale. I watched twelve episodes, which tells you a reasonably contained story about the murder mystery around the life and death of one Jason Blossom (he dies in the first thirty seconds, don’t get pissy with me). You do a bunch of digging, you learn about a really weird town and the weird people in that weird town, and if you’re a fan of Archie comics (which I’m not, but I know about them, which is close enough) you get to have a fun kind of Guess Who excursion of seeing how they change each character from their original incarnation.

It’s not even that Riverdale is really that good. I don’t think that there’s anyone in this universe that I actually like, no characters who I’m hoping will have a nice ending or who I think deserve a good narrative or satisfaction. I mean, almost everyone is some part synthesis of crybaby, dipshit or asshole, and the narration of this series is the rich, needlessly elaborate monologue from the toneless mope of Jughead, who… I just…

can’t.

Look, I was that guy, Jug, I know that to get better at writing at seventeen you have to write till you’re twenty but boy howdy, maybe find an editor to help you out.

Anyway, despite not being anything I’d consider good, Riverdale is absolutely compelling, and I watched some of it, but I don’t think I’ll tune in to watch more of it. There’s a fun chunk of mythology gags in seeing teen heartthrob stars from the 80s that I knew of as ‘old’ when I was a kid now showing up as dads and moms, but the whole story is definitely high melodrama, told as if high school is both the most important thing in the world, and the people there have real and affecting power. It’s all that mirror-glass unreal to me, given my own upbringing.

Basically, this series is a lot like watching What If Archie Comics Were Wrestling.

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