Gender neutrality has been skiing uphill for so many years and just when you think the slope will plateau to generate real progression in mainstream storytelling, in walks Hollywood

After leaving the cinema in 2015 having just watched the shiny new Jurassic World film with my family, I said, ‘Well, that was shit. That literally just put storytelling back 25 years.’ Which is an obvious embellishment, that also happens to be true. But what was more interesting was how my sister replied. ‘Sure,’ she said, ‘but it also put feminism back 25 years.’

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Universal Pictures Amblin Entertainment, Jurassic Park, 1993.

Much discussion and biting, rapier critique of Jurassic World’s high-heel wearing, T-rex dodging, morally bankrupt female ‘main character’ later and I realised that not only were we both lamenting the same issue — because, without great characters, you simply can’t have great stories but also that Hollywood’s struggle with the issue of gender neutrality has seen a large regression of the equality message at its core over the last two decades. What in the 90’s constituted large steps forward for leading ladies finally able to break away from the damsel in distress cast, have recently reverted right back to where they were in the post 80’s era, amounting to over-sexualised ‘strong’ personas with little in the way of redeeming characteristics outside their narrative purpose. …


In a rush to create a memorable character everyone thinks they have to design a deluge of eccentric characteristics and quirky flaws. Stoner is the antidote to this, proving the remarkable can lie in the unremarkable.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: New York Review Of Books, 2003, The reissued cover

It’s 1 am. I’ve just finished reading Stoner, John Williams’ posthumous classic for the second time. I can’t sleep. How can I knowing I’ve been touched so heartily by a character who now exists more in my soul than in those tender pages which reveal his broken but wholesome life? For that’s the true achievement of Stoner, the deft creation of a character who defies comparison with his gentle ordinariness and manages to burrow his way into your heart nonetheless.

Occasionally when you consume a story you’re invested in the character’s lives, in their journeys, so much so you walk away thinking, ‘oh, wow!’ — and thereafter you look back fondly, nostalgically remarking on the change it’s insighted within you. Stoner doesn’t do this. Stoner is a portrait of naivety and affability without pretence whose genius lies in its simple ability to make you fall in love with the titular character. …


Passion, while limitless, isn’t relentless. And sometimes you need an extra kick to push you further than you thought possible.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

In my short foray into story and article writing, I’ve found that passion, a near-identical cousin to obsession, has a drastic impact on quality. Seems obvious, right? But there’s far more to it than simply asserting our best quality comes from things we’re passionate about. It comes also, from going beyond passion, into embracing — even if in a small way — obsession.

“The train of thought of an obsessed person always runs on a single track.”
Evan Esar

If passion is the thing that compels us into action then obsession is the thing that keeps us doing it even when that passion dries up. After all, passion can be distracted and waylaid and enticed by a million other shiny toys. Obsession, however, is a drive for one thing and one thing only. …


Continuing along our journey to find answers of how WW 1984 collapsed in upon itself

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Warner Bros. WonderWoman 1984

This is a continuation of my first article. If you missed it, here’s the link:

4. Conflict, anyone?

There’s a similar scene in both WonderWoman films that perfectly exemplifies why the first film works and the sequel doesn’t. In it, characters have to dress up to fit in with the world they now find themselves in. In the first film, Diana has to dress against her will in order to fit in with a male-dominated world war one London. In essence, she must disguise and reduce her warrior identity where she doesn’t see the need to, producing conflict with Steve and with all the male leaders she must confront. …


The first film had its flaws but overall was a successful and strangely endearing adventure. This is just a 1980’s nightmare and not the good kind.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Warner Bros. WonderWoman 1984

Let’s start with some absolute honesty. I’ll just put it out there, full disclosure from the beginning so everyone knows: WonderWoman 1984 is utterly, remarkably and mind-blowingly terrible. So much so that I would say it’s probably the worst superhero movie of the last decade!

It’s so bad — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — it at times makes Justice League (2017)look less terrible. I know! When you can earnestly say that about any movie, you should do whatever you can to actively reconsider watching it. And at least Justice League had the common decency to be under two hours keeping the torture to a mainstream minimum. …


So little cinema, too much television; but hope came in the form of a forty-year-old wanna-be rapper thirsting over tight white ass.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Netflix

If I said 2020 has been a strange one I’d win the understatement of the year award, along with the most conceited. Though I’d have stiff competition from Trump on that last one. And I do realise he would probably take such as a compliment; it’s hard to criticise someone with selective hearing, especially through a radioactive layer of orange-tan…But I digress.

I think it screams volumes about this year as a trainwreck when the two most popular films are Christopher Nolan’s high-concept blockbuster, Tenet, and Sasha Baron Cohen’s high-comedy ballbusting, Borat: the only similarity between the two being their five-lettered title. Unfortunately, this year has seen a catastrophic collapse in the movie industry unparalleled in its history. Propped up by a need to fill seats, cinemas have found ticket sales wane drastically due to the pandemic forcing them to close and some to shutter their doors for good. Film productions around the world have shut down, then started up, then suffered delays and now hobble on in a kind of bubbled limbo akin to a socially phobic dystopia — prompting a yelling match from Tom Cruise at anyone who breaks the appointed rules. …


What’s crazy is not just that The Mandalorian solves all his problems by killing them, but that he’s never conflicted about it.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: The Mandalorian Concept art, Disney/Lucasfilm

The Star Wars sequel trilogy may have been rife with inconsistencies, varied levels of storytelling (to be generous), and controversy, but one of the things fans generally accept is the intrigue of Finn’s origins. Certainly, when anticipation was building for Episode VII — the first Star Wars film to be released in a decade — fans rejoiced at the idea that a reformed Stormtrooper could be the central character.

What was exciting about this development was that we’d never seen a Stormtrooper evolve beyond the confines of their horrible shooting ability: of which they had become famous. This also seemed to plant the idea in our heads that there were real people behind the Stormtrooper helmet, ones who cared and bled and felt. Needless to say, the sequels did a pretty spectacular job of squandering the potential depth of character here, as John Boyega himself has suggested, but at least they laid the groundwork. …


While there are many redeeming aspects of Palm Springs taking on the Groundhog Day premise, the flaw with this ‘sequel’ is that it fails to push the envelope and trips on its own logic

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Hulu

It’s impossible to make a ‘waking up every morning to the same-day’ film without being compared to the great grandaddy, Groundhog Day. In fact, the film’s become so synonymous with the time-loop premise that the trope has now taken on the title so that any new movie in the genre is explained as, ‘oh, it’s Groundhog Day, with a twist.’

And in many ways, Palm Springs is a modern-day successor to the Bill Murray classic. It’s funny, entertaining, has two charismatic leads and explores a unique love story like only this type of premise can allow. The issue comes around the halfway mark. Up to this point, the story has been a very engaging rom-com drama leading our two characters to the precipice of falling in love. …


I wish it was good, but The Mandalorian suffers from a lack of anything but nostalgia beneath its cuddly surface

Continuing along my exploration of how The Mandalorian sacrifices good storytelling and meaningful characters for references, cliches and the ever-present cute factor.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash

Chapter 4: Side Characters

I cannot impress enough upon the lack of distinctive side characters in The Mandalorian. The show literally treats every episode’s new characters as throw-away entries who are more appealing for their visual makeup than what’s underneath. And of the few returning characters in the show, we know very little. In fact, I can’t name any of them by heart.

Carl Weather’s Greef Karga (apparently) plays a sort of loveable one-dimensional antagonist in the first season, only to have a life-altering and deeply contrived change of heart by its end. Unfortunately, I can name none of his characteristics other than he likes money and power. We’re not given any insight into what motivates him or what he fears; which is probably a good thing, because his evolution into a good guy is so instantaneous and disingenuine that it would only be exposed as utterly fraudulent had we known his story. …


Feature

Condensing thousands of years of eastern teachings into a few discount phrases for the jaded western hero.

Image for post
Image for post

About

Ryan Morris

First time storyteller looking to learn and share

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store