Review: “Crimson Peak”

“When the time comes, beware of Crimson Peak!”

Sage advice from her Mom, that Mia Wasikowska’s Edith Cushing would have been wise to follow.  As she doesn’t, we’re treated to Guillermo del Toro’s latest creation “Crimson Peak.”

Edith, a would-be-writer, is shown to be independent in both mind and fortune, as she eschews balls and matrimony in favor of social reform and novel writing.  All this is abandoned, however, with the introduction of baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and Thomas’ sister, creepy dominatrix  Lucille (Jessica Chastain) into her life.  Despite the misgivings of both her father (Jim Beaver) and her Ophthalmologist suitor Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam,) she is quickly married and packed away to Sharpe’s estate named “Allerdale Hall,” and learns only too late that the red clay in the earth gives the place its alternate nickname “Crimson Peak.”

The movie plays out much as anyone would suspect, who is a fan of the gothic/horror/noir genres–no dramatic “Sixth Sense” plot twists here.  What one gets is more a sense of a long homage to the seminal works clearly loved by the filmmakers:  Edith and Thomas’ whirlwind courtship and marriage is reminiscent of “Rebecca,” with their big romantic scene ripped almost verbatim out of “Jane Eyre.”  Crimson Peak itself, in its dilapidated state  mirrors “The Fall of the House of Usher,” sinking into a blood-red tarn, while cinematic callbacks to “Notorious” and “The Shining” make up much of the third act.

Where the movie falters a little is in trying to eat its cake, and have it too.  del Toro clearly loves a strong female protagonist, and Edith is a good example of one…until she isn’t.  Unfortunately, the cornerstone of most traditional gothic tales is a helpless (and hapless) heroine who endures a frightful situation largely because she has no other options–no friends or family, no money, and no progressive ideas that she can live independently.  While we can understand the bright and stubborn Edith getting charmed into a hasty marriage, there really doesn’t seem to be a good reason why she would consent to stay in a house that is clearly uninhabitable.  Unlike the usual shrinking violet gothic victim, she has a man who would marry her, a solicitor who can wire her all the money she needs, and a strong will of her own.  She’s clearly been brought up wealthy–why on Earth would she allow herself to be put up in a house that doesn’t even have a roof over a large part of it?  (For that matter, how is it that later, the snow is so dense you can barely see outside, yet we only see a handful of flakes floating down from the huge gaping hole in the roof inside?  How can Thomas stomp on the floorboards when they first enter, causing red clay to exsanguinate up between them, when there is an entire floor beneath them?)  Edith is too strong in the beginning for us to understand why she becomes so weak in the middle–staying in this house where both supernatural and natural elements are clearly threatening her, when she could easily leave.

But the main reason to see the film is for the gorgeous visuals.  The costumes are lovely and ornate, and will no doubt be recognized for awards at some point.  Wasikowska is constantly in white or yellow, and is lit so she almost glows amongst the darker palettes of the Sharpe siblings, like the omnipresent dead American butterflies being consumed by the British moths.

The House itself is the most successful character in the film, with del Toro reportedly having spent over half a year to build the three-story set practically.  Ornate and designed to unsettle in every possible detail, it is a virtual living thing, that both captivates and captures everyone in it.  By the end of the film, while motives are revealed and reversed, we get the sense that everything that has transpired–from the telling of the tale to the events therein–has all been in service to The House, which is ultimately as transfixing as a poniard through a butterfly.

 

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Once Upon A Time, S5E03: “Siege Perilous”

Spoiler Thoughts:
  • Emma needed…an axe?
  • Pretty ominous when one of your team is a tree.
  • Charming is so elated to have a guy to hang with, who isn’t sleeping with his daughter.
  • I feel like trees shed bark and leaves and stuff pretty painlessly.  Why can’t we use those as samples?
  • Charming has no idea what’s going on.
  • Maybe because he’s a farmboy with probably no formal education and about a week’s worth of prince training?
  • I never get why we don’t ever address that.
  • The chance Charming is taking, is getting out of babysitting.
  • Oh WTH Grumpy.  Last week you were all “we need to go with you to help her!  We never get to show how much we care about everyone!”  Today it’s all “KILL THE BEAST!”
  • Maybe slow down on the promises if you don’t even know what the deal is, Charming.
  • Rumple is the only guy in this town that knows how to have fun.
  • I guess Happy’s not getting his axe back in one piece.
  • Not sure that was altogether comforting for Zelena.
  • It does seem as though Regina’s had quite a few second chances of her own.
  • Arthur just described his triangle with Lancelot and Guinevere as “a difficult situation.”
  • “Lancelot, he daid!”
  • Maybe you shouldn’t keep a lit flame in the chest with all your most precious stuff.
  • If I’m the Sheriff, my thinking runs towards fingerprints at this point.
  • Robin and Hook could actually be a hilarious duo.
  • How can Hook STILL have trouble with phones, when Robin can text photos and has been in Storybrooke a shorter amount of time?
  • Hook is so repulsed at this sonogram.
  • There are a lot of complex situations in this town.
  • I really love Emma’s new hair and wardrobe.
  • Evil is so much more stylish.
  • Why is it, everyone trying to look good gets sloppy hair?  It’s like once you turn evil, your concept of good is some hayseed.
  • Oh, it is peasant bro-hood!
  • Apparently Charming didn’t pay all that much attention to the Arthur legends.
  • Probably a bad competition, considering Guinevere is clearly EEEVVVIIIL.
  • That might be the fakest mushroom ever.
  • “Certain death!  You go first.”
  • That leather’s going to take some time to dry out.
  • Who’s going to pawn a bean?  Unless Belle’s a total moron, I think she’s going to be a little suspicious.
  • What a shocker, the Squire who was all suspicious-acting took a powder.
  • Ok, Doctoberfest is good.
  • Well it’s hardly fair jousting if one guy’s got a car.
  • Funny how the bridge can now hold like three guys, and Arthur isn’t making a move to help anything.
  • Arthur acts like he wasn’t watching the whole time.  What, did he have to go to the bathroom or something?
  • I don’t know if I’d do trust exercises with the Dark One.
  • Aw, she didn’t even get to eat lunch.
  • How could that mushroom get out of a locked pouch?  It’s not like the armored knights had time to pickpocket him.
  • But Charming, you are a FARMBOY.  You ARE only famous because you kissed a sleeping princess.
  • In some reality, there’s a little old lady shrieking “WHERE’S THE BEAN?!”
  • Arthur, you mushroom stealer.
  • Oh good, Charming.  Now you can be the guy who kissed a sleeping princess and found a mushroom under a tent.
  • How is he going to be a knight of the round table if he’s not planning to stay?
  • That is some fast trusting Arthur is doing.
  • Oh, it’s dead Lancelot!
  • I think Charming’s getting duped again.
  • Poor soon-to-be-dead Grif.
  • Don’t do it Grif!
  • It will be a cornerstone of an EEEVVVIILL kingdom, Grif!
  • Robin just sits around eating in Granny’s all day.
  • Oh, it is just bro-hood week all around.
  • Hey, remember when Belle said she never wanted to see Gold again, and took up macking on Scarlett?  It’s not like he ever did anything less evil to make her change her mind.
  • He’s the hero?  A town full of princes and knights and whatever, and she’s picking him?
  • The guy with the heart so full of evil, it actually tried to kill him by its own self?
  • Well I totally don’t get what the point of the whole Squire plot was.  Arthur wanted him to steal the stuff, but then got Charming to get it back.
  • Then he pretended like there was a bean to send them back, but then there never was a bean, and he doesn’t even want to get back.
  • For that matter, why did he tell Charming where the mushroom was in the first place, if he didn’t want him to have it?
  • I feel like maybe Guinevere might be the brains in this operation.

Dragon Age Inquisition Thoughts: What Pride Had Wrought

Spoiler Thoughts:

    • The bartender says people are complaining that I’m bedding my allies? I certainly haven’t seen anything to give me that impression.
    • Ok Morrigan. Off to the Temple of Mythal.
    • Forgot how repetitive these sequences are, wandering down the river and killing Templars.
    • I feel like Cullen would have said something to us, since we just saved him.
    • Entering the Temple. Oh, one Corypheus, extra crispy.
    • Now does Corypheus’ lieutenant know that he can come back in a blighted thing? If not, why do they keep going through the temple? They don’t seem that excited about him being apparently dead.
    • “Oh, the Old Gods are probably a myth.” “HDU!!”
    • Um, Solas, do you have something to share with the class?
    • Ok, jump in the hole? Or do the rituals? Jump in the hole? Or do the rituals?
    • Well maybe we try both this time around: trot around the rituals and then jump in the hole.
    • I always feel like this was kind of a weird ritual for priests to make people do. I get that it would make people focus and meditate, but on the other hand, it’s like if you had to finish a few rounds of Dance Dance Revolution before you could see the Pope.
    • Alright. Time to see what’s in the hole.
    • Oh good. My inventory is already full.
    • [Line of magical elven archers show up with arrows cocked.]. “Someone’s watching us!”
    • Nothing gets by you, Inquisitor.
    • “Say something, Solas!”
    • “Don’t look at me. I got no dog in this race.”
    • Ok, we will ally with you…Wha?…Damnit, Morrigan.
    • Well this Sentinel guide is one personable elf.
    • I must say, Calpurnia is a lot more reasonable than Sampson.
    • Look, you might hold off on the “savage Qunari” remarks when I have one RIGHT HERE.
    • Maybe I should have brought Dorian.

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    • So who’s thirsty?
    • Solas? “NOOOO!” Well alrighty, then.
    • I let Morrigan have the well last time, but I feel like an elf inquisitor would have more of a vested interest in drinking it herself.
    • Well this was a lot more dramatic than if you let Morrigan take the power.
    • The fact that Corypheus showed up again doesn’t bode too well for Calpurnia.
    • Morrigan doesn’t seem like she’s gonna let this go anytime soon.
    • Oh burn from Leilana. Maybe she’s still bitter that Morrigan never wanted to go shopping with her.
    • The dragon is a horcrux?
    • Ok, getting on to the last chance to talk to anyone.
    • Not too much from Varric or Vivienne, but to be fair, I’m not sure we were close.
    • Ok Solas, your turn.
    • Slave markings? Yeah, you can go ahead and get rid of those, thanks.
    • Watch the hand there, Solas.
    • Wait, what?
    • Oh this is horrible, although the option to say “your loss, asshole” is pretty great.
    • Solas, you heel.
    • At least you get dropped off outside, because it’d be pretty awkward to still be in his room after that.
    • Cassandra is such a good friend in this game. I’m glad she didn’t kill us in the beginning, like she wanted.

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    • Wait, did Cole just…erase himself?
    • Oh Cole.
    • I think my favorite line of Sera’s is “I believe the stuff not made up by dead people who failed.”
    • Blackwall’s pretty terse.
    • Man, what exactly is going on in that painting in the stables? I’m…not sure I want to know.

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  • You can tell when I’m getting close to the end, because I start doing a permanent save every few minutes.
  • Time for The Final Piece

Heroes Reborn, Season One, Episode 104: “The Needs of the Many”

Image from NBC.com

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Mohinder voiceover!
  • Why didn’t he zap away with her?
  • Look Zachary. She’s a psycho. And she’s not going to be supportive of your new lifestyle.
  • Well that went from lovely to creepy in a moment.
  • Shibuya!
  • Ren is this season’s Ando.
  • Look. I’d work for a lot worse companies for free sushi.
  • That hug wasn’t weird at all.
  • Not a fan of the spicy tuna.
  • Taylor, she’s rounding them up because she’s a resident of Crazytown. That’s it.
  • They walked all the way through Alaska?  Because Alaska is pretty big.
  • Wow, it doesn’t seem like Butterfly/Invisible girls were as careful as they might have been.
  • Oh, I think it’s too late, Zachary.
  • Not even the Han Solo “I know” from Joanne.
  • On the upside, Zachary no longer has to ask if the hotel room has a coffee maker.
  • You know this isn’t realistic, because no aisle seat on an international flight is going to go empty.
  • Bat-luchador Man.
  • They’re just gonna leave those guys lying out in the lobby for anyone to find?
  • This was maybe not planned that well.
  • HRG is the coolest.
  • Zachary got so much more empathetic and virtuous after he became one of the hunted.
  • Ugh. Tommy’s a close talker.
  • I feel like Tommy could have zapped out a little earlier.
  • Oh, Carlos finished the Luchadormobile.
  • Maybe the kid shouldn’t leave the door to the secret hideout open in broad daylight?
  • Well that went well.
  • Oh that REALLY went well.
  • Why couldn’t Molly just unplug herself and leave?
  • Or was she doing it to get away from HRG?
  • Maybe the moral is that you shouldn’t shove guns down your pants and expect that something bad isn’t going to happen.
  • Oh Phoebe’s back!  And she’s got a new look.  The Unibomber look.

 

Once Upon A Time, S5E02: “The Price”

Photo from http://onceuponatime.wikia.com/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_Wiki
Spoiler Thoughts:
  • The denizens of Storybrooke are never slow to lose faith in all their leaders.
  • Good thing Camelot stories always end happy.
  • Oh, this is the post-Nimue era.
  • I’d like to go back to last season for a moment, where I mentioned that maybe anyone else but Emma would have been a better choice to become the Dark One.
  • Wow, this is like that Friends episode where Monica and Rachel switched places so Rachel could have health insurance.
  • Arthur’s all “why do I take orders from you again?”
  • Like these medieval guys are going to balk unless they get bottled water.
  • No eavesdropping here, Charming.
  • Robin is constantly in distress.
  • The VW of sadness.
  • Poor Emma.  Too evil to even land a pirate.
  • Maybe don’t announce you love the hard way before you know if the hard way’s going to land you in the hospital.
  • Emma never got any perks when she was savior–what a gyp.
  • Camelot had dresses for Snow and Emma, but not Regina?
  • Actually, how did Charming learn to ball dance?  He was a farm boy!
  • Looking at all the guys’ formal attire, I have to think that Robin, Hook, and Charming all packed their own clothes.
  • Belle’s date at the ball is a rose in a bell jar.
  • Henry is awfully cute here.
  • Oh, this might not go all that well for Regina.
  • Why on Earth would Regina just sit there, while this dude kills Robin?
  • I feel like Charming could have just knocked him out.
  • I guess it’s kind of unrealistic to think that you can win over everyone, even with genuine repentance, after you torched all their families.
  • Hey, did we ever think that maybe we could get a doctor for Robin?  And not jump immediately to dark magic?
  • I mean, this is a royal court, right?  I can’t imagine they don’t have surgeons.
  • Oh Rumple is so wonderful.
  • Why doesn’t Emma ever tell anyone about talking to Rumple?
  • Eczema is a harsh mistress.
  • How could this possibly help Regina?
  • Nice to know that no one else had any idea of why it would help either.
  • I don’t know if I want my town run by people who would happily all move to die at once en mass without a clear plan.
  • Technopop is apparently stronger than True Love’s Kiss.
  • Well if the tradeoff for this great new wardrobe is not getting invited to the post-disaster parties at Granny’s, evil doesn’t seem that bad.
  • Guinevere is totes evil.
  • Robert Carlyle must enjoy this.  A few minutes of giggling and evil, and the rest taking a nap in street clothes.
  • There are a lot of people getting in line for this sword.  It probably belongs in the bottom of the lake with the One Ring.

Heroes Reborn, Season One, Episode 103: “Under the Mask”

Photo from NBC.com

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Man, if I had been shot in the shoulder, and sewing me up wasn’t getting priority over gassing up? I might be done.
  • Not a fan of this couple. The wife in particular is doing some impressive figurative mustache twirling.
  • These security guards don’t look all that Japanese.
  • I feel like a fight that’s going to go on this long, should look more convincing. Maybe they should have gone with mo-cap.
  • If I was a part of the Heroes Universe, I would be one of the poor schmoes who brought their car to Gutierrez and Sons, and is now never going to get it back.
  • Oddly enough, this would never happen in Japan, because in all the time I’ve visited there, I’ve never seen anyone run into someone else, nor anyone yell at someone unless they were drunk.
  • Oh you know HRG is not going to wait around for this guy to get back.
  • This dude is kind of bad at revenge.
  • Ooo. Origami!
  • Ok, that little upturn sound the guard made? That was totally Japanese.
  • The wife is baffled as to why Zachary Levi wants to take all the fun out of killing.
  • HIRO.
  • This is the Car Ride of Exposition.
  • Poor Molly has literally spent her whole life getting kidnapped.
  • He has,,,planaria power?
  • Zachary really did get too much sun.
  • I feel like Tommy might be exercising some bad judgement here.
  • Hard to think what’s so awful Molly would rather hang out at Renautas than go with HRG.
  • This is apparently the week where everyone refuses protection?
  • Well that could have gone better.
  • On the whole, it was a pretty good presentation.

 

Dragon Age Inquisition Thoughts: Side Quests and Emprise du Lion, Hissing Wastes, and Forbidden Oasis

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Spoiler Thoughts:

      • Emprise du Lion time.
      • “Red lyrium. We should be cautious here.” [Setting up camp] “What did you say, Solas?”
      • Ok, I don’t even know why this couple died on the cliff with the bottle of wine his dad left him.
      • I have never been able to get this one quest with crazy lady moaning about losing the ring to activate.
      • Finally found Michel before Suledin Keep. I love the quest name “Call Me Imshael.”
      • Oh, ok Michel. Leave me here to kill the Choice Spirit while you go back to town. This wasn’t even my deal!
      • Let’s see…riches…power…virgins…Oh, no virgins…
      • Now you’re called the Late Imshael.
      • Oh wait, the red Templar is Carroll? Not the mildly crazy Carroll from the tower docks? Who liked cookies?
      • Well, we’ll never know now–he was too distorted to see if he was the same. Poor Cullen has so few old friends left.
      • I like how these guys in the cages at the quarry are screaming and yelling to be let out, but their fellow townspeople are just walking around, pretending not to hear.
      • LOL at the guy who wrote the whole confession to his wife, and then wanted to take it back when he made it out of the quarry alive.
      • No, buddy. The manslaughter doesn’t not count just because you survived to face the consequences.
      • I like how when Cullen fixes this bridge, it looks indistinguishable from the original stone carvings, but when he had to fix that ratty bridge in the desert, it looked like he gave some high school a hammer and some two-by-fours.

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    • Ok, twenty more minutes, and we took another dragon down.
    • Maybe we can manage the last dragon, since it’s closest to the fast travel point.
    • Oh, it’s like two levels higher than us. Maybe if we just sit on the ledges and shoot down at it?
    • Ok, I don’t think it should be able to hit us with the dome of fire if it can’t even see us.
    • Ugh, it keeps putting up guard as soon as I whittle it down
    • Ok, about half an hour, and we’ve managed to take one leg down by about 1/6.
    • I think we’ll have to come back for this one.
    • Oh hey, Wicked Grace!
    • I kind of feel it improbable that Cullen would actually agree to a bet where he might lose his clothes, but it’s cute anyway.
    • I guess no one wanted to invite Solas or Vivienne.
    • All right. Off to the Hissing Wastes.
    • Man, I had forgotten how big Hissing Wastes was.
    • Actually, I had more or less forgotten everything about Hissing Wastes. I think it’s mostly because there isn’t a lot of plot or dialogue here–just walking around in the desert, killing random things.
    • The nice part is that there are so many campsites, you can pretty much just leap off of cliffs, and be reassured that you can make it back to one of them before you’re totally drained.
    • I do like the section where it’s almost always nighttime with that big moon in the distance. So pretty.

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    • Unfortunately so much of this area is all based on those map quests that I find so difficult. I can never get the sketches to line up with the actual point of view until I already know where it is.
    • Playing a mage makes the combat so much easier than a warrior, since you can basically pick people off from a mile away…but it also makes it a little meaningless, since you basically never see or hear them, and by the time you run over to loot them, they’ve evaporated.
    • Dragon time! Bull gets so excited.
    • Ok, missing one page of the journals, and one ocularum.
    • The chances of me finding the journal page seems pretty slender by this time, but I don’t know why I can’t find a skull on a stick.
    • I also think historically, I’ve finished one mosaic. I usually get all the pieces…except one.
    • I’ve never gotten enough gems to fulfill that Hinterlands tapestry requisition, either. Damn templars.
    • Time to go back for that dragon on the Storm Coast.
    • Ugh, it’s electricity resistant, and that’s most of what I have.
    • I never have much idea of what this power of the rift thing does. Like a lot of lights and colors, and then everything goes back to killing me.
    • HA. This fragment of inadequate chain mail is hilarious.

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  • “The designer may have misheard ‘aureole of protection.'”
  • Alright, now time to see if we can get that second dragon in Emprise.
  • At least I have a fire staff with me. The problem is that these colosseum layouts make it so it’s hard to get far enough away to not get hit by the effects of her attacks.
  • Oh what a hurt. After a half hour of fighting, the dragon loot and two of the dragonling loot spawned under the stairs where I can’t pick them up.
  • Ok Solus, it’s nice that you can sense there’s an artifact here, but it would help if you could give me a hint where.
  • Well, we’re at the same level as the last dragon–maybe we can give it a go again.
  • Entering in from the top we can pick at her largely without getting beat up, but it’ll take forever because no one else will be able to help.
  • Should she really be able to fire mine me when she can’t even see me?
  • It’s like ten minutes to take down the guard, for about thirty seconds of actual attack time.
  • Attack, attack, attack.
  • Ho hum.
  • Everyone else is dead now.
  • Just me and the Highland Ravager.
  • Zzzzz.
  • Oh wait, we’re done.  Yay!
  • Ok guys, naptime’s over.  Now we can pick up the last shard and go investigate the temple.
  • Forbidden Oasis!  Sounds so much more exciting than “walk around in the desert and fall off ladders!”
  • I read a lot of hate for Forbidden Oasis.  While I don’t loathe it, I think part of the problem is that the heavy dependence on vertical mapping makes the flat maps more or less useless.
  • Considering the major quest is to find the jillion shards littered around everywhere, that means the majority of your time is spent just trying to figure out how to climb up on stuff.
  • It doesn’t help that the only other quest of note stymies you by making you hunt down a miner who never seems to be anywhere around where her marker is.
  • 20 minutes spent running around trying to find her, you start wondering if she really wanted that wedding ring in the first place.
  • Ok, ready for the Temple of the Forbidden Shard.
  • Really Solas?  Is it really an artifact of your people?
  • Also, it’s not just your people, in case you’ve forgotten.
  • Cole, you wouldn’t keep getting fried by those circles if you’d stop running into them.
  • No matter how empty I try to get with my inventory, I can never get through this without having to go back and sell stuff off.
  • Well, I think we’ve exhausted the resources of the Forbidden Oasis.
  • Time to go look for the elven blood magic sword.
  • There is an awful lot of loot lying about this random elven temple.
  • This actually seems a little like a side quest to the Knight’s Tomb side quest.
  • Well that was pretty brief.
  • At least Bull got a new sword out of it.
  • So at this point, I think we’ve just about done all the quests we’ve been able to find up to What Pride Had Wrought.
  • The initial plan was to now do all the DLC except for Trespasser, but as all the reviews I’ve read seem to think they are on the short side and not heavy with story (versus lore) content, I might actually wait until they put them on sale or in a bundle or something, and just play through until we can do Trespasser.
  • Basically, I’m a little impatient to get to Trespasser by now.
  • Trespasser, Trespasser, Trespasser.
  • Ok, let’s get ready to wrought some pride.