Three Trailers

It has been … a day, and I find that I’m not in the chattiest mood tonight. So let’s talk about some stuff that’s coming out.

The Eternals

This trailer is the first thing I’ve seen from this movie that gave me even the vaguest interest in seeing it. I’m still not going near a theater– this and Shang-Chi are going to have to wait until they’re available on Disney+ for me to watch them– but this actually made me think for a few seconds that I might have some interest in seeing it. There was never any chance that I was actually going to skip the thing, and I still don’t know a damn thing about any of the characters, but at least it’s on my radar as a mild positive and not a thing that I have to put up with.

Star Wars: Visions

Given my lifelong disdain of anime and my utter inability to get into any of the Star Wars animated projects no matter how hard I’ve tried, you would think that this show would have no appeal for me, and I am as surprised as you are to announce that you would be completely wrong in thinking that. I am all in. I don’t know if this is in canon or not– I feel like lightsaber umbrella might be a concept best left out of the official SW universe– but I’m genuinely excited about this, for the novelty if nothing else.

Speaking of novelty …

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I’m including this out of sheer schadenfreude. I liked the Kevin Smith Netflix thing well enough, although it didn’t change my life and I’m not chewing my nails over the second half of the season. But He-Man nerds got all bent out of shape about that, and then the next thing Netflix throws at us is this? As I’ve said many times, I have no real skin in this game, but even I was looking at this by the end and thinking maybe they’d gone a bit too far. Seriously make Battle Cat a dog who turns into a wolf and say it’s inspired by He-Man. Call him Boy-Dude or something.

I am seriously looking forward to the fanboy tears, though.

#REVIEW: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021)

It might be useful, before reading my review of the movie called The Suicide Squad, to read a review of another movie that came out in 2016 that was just called Suicide Squad. You are sort of expected to pretend that that movie didn’t happen, even though this movie has several of the same characters portrayed by the same actors and is more or less the exact same movie in terms of the overall story. This is, in some ways, the movie equivalent of a comic book series getting a new #1 issue; yeah, it’s the same people, mostly, and the same idea, mostly, but you can start fresh here if you want to.

Here is the tl;dr review: just like the first movie, this movie is exactly what you think it’s going to be, and if that’s the sort of thing you like, you will like it. You might like it a little more than the first one.

A slightly longer version: The main difference between this movie and the first movie is that this one is (as I remember, at least) a hell of a lot gorier, although it’s always played for laughs if that’s worth anything to you, and James Gunn’s insistence on overusing vocal music as part of the score. The actors are probably of slightly higher quality (hell, Idris Elba and Peter Capaldi are in it) and King Shark is better than any individual element of the earlier Suicide Squad, although I’d have liked them to find a way to give him more underwater scenes. The rivalry between Elba’s Bloodshot and John Cena’s Peacemaker (I think?) is fun, and somehow Polka Dot Man is not only in this movie but he and a girl who can control rats are its emotional heart. I don’t know how that happened but it’s true. This is the third or fourth movie Margot Robbie has played Harley Quinn in, and she fully inhabits the character at this point and I love it.

Fascinatingly, despite lots of actual murdering happening on screen, this movie comes off as much happier and heroic than the Murderverse movies. So that’s a plus too.

Don’t go to a movie theater and get Covid to see this or anything, but HBO Max is cheaper than a pair of movie tickets in most places.

#REVIEW: Black Widow

I think the best thing I can say about Black Widow is that I don’t have anything bad to say about it.

I’m pretty sure I’m about to be unfair to this movie. I’ve been burning out on the MCU lately, and Loki really didn’t help with that, and the notion that Black Widow was going to have to be … well, not a prequel, really, but set in the past at least, because Black Widow herself was killed in Endgame has always rubbed me all kinds of wrong. And I wasn’t in a hugely receptive mood for it when I sat down to watch. This usually isn’t a good sign for a movie! And yet. I mean, I have some gripes, but they’re just that– gripes; the movie itself is fine.

Good stuff:

  • The cast they’ve built around Natasha is great. David Harbour’s Russian accent is godawful and inconsistent but he is very clearly having an enormous amount of fun playing the character, and y’all probably know by now how far that can get you with me.
  • The story is pleasingly self-contained. You’ll kinda have a hard time if the phrase “Sokovia Accords” doesn’t ring any bells, but just knowing that she’s on the run from somebody because of something is probably good enough to get you through the movie. You don’t really need the details and the movie doesn’t get into the weeds with them either.
  • The main villain might be the biggest bastard we’ve seen in the MCU so far. Seriously: he’s Killgrave from Jessica Jones level, if that’s even still canon.
  • The good guys’ Big Plan at the end is also pretty good, especially since it seems to have been thrown together in something around three minutes of in-movie time.
  • The action sequences are solid, but see the next section.

Like, okay, that doesn’t sound like much? But to a certain degree it’s all you really need, right? Good actors in roles they’re well-suited for in a well-written action film that looks good and shows you some shit you’ve not seen before. That’s already a B or B+ movie, and remember I was in a bad mood watching it.

Less good:

  • I’m not sure how I feel about how the movie treated Natasha? She spends the entire film getting her ass beat and you’d think that since it’s her movie they’d give her an action sequence at least as badass as either her first appearance in Iron Man 2 or her introduction in Avengers. Sadly, that’s not the case. Again, the action sequences are pretty cool– the whole final falling-through-the-sky bit and the rescue at the prison are standouts– but she doesn’t get a moment anywhere that lets you know what a badass the character is.(*)
  • There’s a lot of unnecessary ass shots. I mean, I enjoy Scarlett Johansson’s ass as much as any other straight guy, but it was actually distracting. And the movie was directed by a woman!
  • I want more Taskmaster. I wanted more Taskmaster in this movie, and I want to see the character again. Not as much of a gripe as it could be, though.
  • There were some points where I was wondering about where she gets her money from. Like, she’s got a Guy, and this Guy seems to be able to produce whatever she wants on short notice in any country on Earth, and I feel like maybe we should have learned a little more about that guy.
  • The stinger at the end suggests that Yelena’s career went in a different direction after the events of the film than her character development during the film would imply. I’m being deliberately opaque to avoid spoilers, of course, but, c’mon, you ended the movie as this, and a few years later you’re doing that? Really?

So, yeah: I went in with a bad attitude and kinda down on the entire MCU thing and came out of it having watched a solid action movie. Call it a B, or a B+ if you are as entertained by David Harbour as I am. And the movie adds some texture to Infinity War and Endgame that wasn’t there before, which is cool. I don’t know for sure that you need to drop $30 for this on Disney+ right away, but you probably already have if you were going to, and I’m glad I didn’t go to a theater to see it, but it’s an enjoyable, competent piece of filmmaking and I enjoyed it.

(*) There’s a moment late in the film where Natasha does … uh, something to herself … that shows how impossibly tough she is, and she keeps getting up after each of the fights. She’s absolutely not portrayed as weak. But showing her toughness and a standout badass moment are not quite the same thing.

#REVIEW: Loki, Season One

The tl;dr version: I hate time travel stories, and I am so, so tired.

I keep threatening to actually review Avengers: Endgame, which I never actually did. I was hip-deep in family crisis at the time I saw the film, and the reason I’ve not written it since then is primarily because the post is going to end up being 12,000 words long, and it’s not going to be fun to write. The short version: I think that Endgame, for all of its fan service and plethora of holy shit moments, in the long run is easily the worst Marvel movie, and in a lot of ways ruined the MCU. Endgame chose the worst imaginable way to solve the story problems that Infinity War set up, and because of the choices made in that film every MCU product since that film has had to be about Endgame.

And now, every single post-Loki MCU product has to be about Loki, too. And this is not an improvement.

(I’m going to assume you’ve watched the show, but sort of talk around the details a bit? So spoiler warning, I guess.)

I’m still going to resist the urge to make this post ridiculously long. I’m supposed to be back in my training in fourteen minutes, and honestly I’m hoping to get the entire post finished before then. Let me get the positives out of the way first: the actual show itself, in a vacuum, is pretty good. Tom Hiddleston is, of course, an amazingly talented and charismatic actor, and they’ve surrounded him with a cast that doesn’t really have any weak spots. I thought the pacing for the program was great; I didn’t think there were any filler episodes (you wouldn’t think this would be possible in a six-episode season, but it is) and while it ends in a very cliffhanger fashion it definitely tells a coherent story, or at least it does once you accept that you have to have watched, like, 25 movies and two days of TV that came beforehand. Nothing in the MCU is really internally coherent any longer; you either accept that or you don’t as part of the product.

The problem that I have is that one of two things have to be true about this show, and neither are good: either I, someone who has been reading Marvel comic books for nearly four decades and is well-versed in the minutia of things like alternate timelines and multiverses, completely misunderstood what the deal was with Loki’s Time Variance Authority, or the entire concept of the Goddamn show doesn’t make a single damn drop of sense from start to finish.

It will not surprise you to learn that I am not blaming myself for this one. It’s possible that I Just Don’t Get It, but I really don’t think that’s the case. I think I understand It, to the degree that It can be understood, because the fundamental problem is that It doesn’t make any sense.

I can accept, begrudgingly, the concept that the Avengers were “supposed” to go back in time in Endgame and steal an Infinity Stone from themselves, but that Loki picking up that same Infinity Stone from where it was dropped and poofing away was not “supposed” to happen.

I cannot accept that a timeline where Loki is a fucking alligator is due to a single “variance” in a timeline, or that a variance that leads to Loki being a woman (strangely, called Sylvie; why does she have a different name from the other Lokis? No idea.) would lead to that variant Loki being culled at, like, eight. That problem definitely happened earlier than that.

This is already multiverse shit before the show creates the multiverse. A world where Loki is a Goddamned alligator is going to be different from our world in a whole lot of ways other than this one dude being an alligator. You can’t just prune the alligator and everything else is fine. And since this show happens before Infinity War or Endgame, and ends with the multiverse being created and Loki getting dumped into some other universe than the one he started in … is the MCU prime universe still the same? Did the multiverse get created before Infinity War or Endgame, or is that just another mess?

We already have Is This Person a Skrull or Not floating around as a universe-wide problem. I really don’t need Is This The Real Universe or Not dumped on top of it, especially when it’s done this sloppily.

I gotta get back to my meeting, but I think you get the idea. I’ll see Black Widow this weekend; we’ll see if that sets me off too.

OKAY SO I GUESS WE’RE DOING THIS

First things first: this is the new YouTube channel, which right now is only barely real. I have managed to confirm that I have at least a basic understanding of how everything works and is a test video and a semi-real livestream that no one watched except for my son in the last few minutes, but I natter on to myself throughout it just for the hell of it. I have some calibrating to do on the TV, which is too dark right now; I’m not sure if the actual video is too dark as well because one of the things I don’t know is how precisely YouTube replicates what I have on the screen.

I also need to make some branding decisions; right now the channel is just called Luther Siler, because that’s how YouTube defaulted things; I’m considering adopting an entirely separate identity for this so I can share it here and with my kids if I want to. Or maybe I’ll lose interest next week and you’ll never hear about it again. Who knows? Not me!

If you do happen to watch the video and have any questions or comments– particularly about whether you can actually hear me as I ramble on– definitely let me know. Preferably as a comment on YT which will count as engagement. Also, if you have any clever names for the channel, let me know.


We finally got around to watching Raya and the Last Dragon last night, which you might have guessed from the telltale “Raya and the Last Dragon” graphic at the top of this post. Verdict: I liked it, but not enough to write a full blog post about it? It’s not up there with my absolute favorite Disney movies (Aladdin) or my favorite new-Disney movies (Frozen) or my favorite Pixar movies (Incredibles and Finding Nemo) but it’s a solid second-tier Disney film for me, where I won’t necessarily actively seek it out to watch but I’ll probably end up stumbling over it and watching it again in the future, that sort of thing. The character work and the animation are great (the character work is really great, actually) but the story itself stumbles a little bit, especially since it more or less starts off with the main character having to find the Infinity Stones. You’ve got to be really careful with any story structure outside of a video game where the character has to track down X of something before the story can start, and in this particular case I’m not even convinced that a lot of the conflict was necessary. But I liked it, and it jerks at the heartstrings appropriately, and it’s the only Disney movie I’ve ever seen where I can honestly say that the fight scenes were super cool. Check it out.


I just wrote a review about a book where I kept using the word “delightful” and emphasizing how heartwarming and life-affirming the book was, so naturally my next choice for reading material was Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is about the intertwining lives of two women in Kabul during the waning years of the war against the Soviet Union through to the rise of the Taliban.

This is the third of Hosseini’s books that I’ve read, and I think it’s his third actual novel, following The Kite Runner and And The Mountains Echoed, and … like, I love Hosseini’s books; the guy is a brilliant author, but his books aren’t exactly there to be enjoyed? That’s the wrong verb; it’s not what they’re for, and going from the candy-coated big gay happiness pile of The House in the Cerulean Sea to this was whiplash-inducing, to say the least. You already know most of what the story’s going to be like from the words women and Kabul and Taliban, and it’s not going to turn out that the two women are superheroes who beat the hell out of the Taliban or anything like that. Nah, they’re going to have miserable, oppressed lives, and the story ends on a happyish note but only after several decades of horror.

Is that a recommendation? I dunno. Hosseini is a brilliant writer, as I’ve said, but I kinda threw this book into my brain without thinking beforehand about how it would affect me, and I might have put it off for a while longer if I’d thought about it more.