Atomic Blonde is better than its trailers

When I first saw the trailers for Atomic Blonde, I was hopefully optimistic. They were rich in all the qualities a good late-summer action flick for adults should possess: high on style, visceral fight scenes, and sex appeal. But, I’d been led astray by trailers in the past, so I was somewhat cautious as I actually sat down in a (very empty) movie theater to watch it.

As it happened, I didn’t need to be cautious at all.

Atomic Blonde may be my favorite espionage action film released since GoldenEye.

This is an espionage film, so I can only give out plot generalities in order to avoid spoilers. Furthermore, while I do have a couple of complaints, these are sadly linked to events that play out late in the film the end, so I can’t actually complain about anything in this film without divulging key plot details! Since this is a spy film, that’s diabolically well played! Fortunately, these complaints are ultimately minor, and should not diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the film. So, onto the GOOD stuff (which there is plenty of)!

The film opens with the murder of a top MI6 agent in late 1989. His MacGuffin is stolen by his KGB murderer, and this sets his bosses back in London on the edge of their seats as the nature of the information stored in said MacGuffin is rather sensitive — a list containing the identities of every NATO agent in deep cover in the Soviet Bloc, which if it ends up in the hands of the KGB will obviously lead to a lot of dead agents. I imagine in real life, lists such as this don’t exist for exactly this reason, and if they do, they probably don’t ever leave the room they’re composed in for the same reasons. But, before I even have time to recite the MST3K Mantra (“It’s only a movie, so I should really just relax“), the film has gotten to the good stuff, and any chance I have for incredulity is lost before it begins — more films should do this. Don’t give the audience time to examine plot holes; keep things flowing and give them what the trailers promised them and you’ll be golden.

Charlize Theron is Lorraine Broughton, the MI6 agent tasked with retrieving the list, and for this, she is introduced to the audience having already failed in that mission, explaining to her superiors (played by the excellent Toby Jones and John Goodman) exactly what went wrong and how. It’s a brilliant use of a framing narrative, and it’s a credit to the film that knowing in advance that she makes it back to London for her debriefing doesn’t at all dull the stakes or tension. Her primary point of contact in the still-divided Berlin is David Percival, played by the ever charming and likable James McAvoy. Rounding out the primary cast is the lovely up-and-coming talent of Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle, a younger and naive French operative working the same case as Lorraine, with whom she shares professional and physical chemistry.

Generally, when a movie casts Charlize Theron, you’re in for a good time regardless if the movie is of any decent quality or not — one thing you’ll always get from her is one hell of a show, and she’s a very dynamic actress with a huge range of skill and talent that is on full display through this film. Being a spy, Lorraine has to assume several identities and play different roles on her mission, which would give a sense of meta enjoyment for any actor, but Theron brings a particular relish to the part, and it feels like Lorraine is a composite made of a number of Theron’s previous roles through the years. Bits of the various heroes and villains she’s played all show up here, with a particular emphasis on her villainous qualities being played for more heroic ends. She very much is like Ian Fleming’s novelised James Bond, in that she’s a “hero” only because she happens to be working for the good guys. She’s unafraid to use any of the tools at her disposal to get what she needs, and her fight scenes really drive this home, with Lorraine frequently being physically weaker than her male opponents and thus resorting to using anything that isn’t nailed down (and even a few things that are) to get the edge in a fight.

I’m particularly fond of Boutella’s casting — she’s a beautiful young lady who has a lot of talent, as shown by her previous roles in a so-far too short career that already includes memorable roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek Beyond, and the ill-fated 2017 remake of The Mummy, in which she was pretty solely the only good thing worth seeing the movie for (I actually ended up rooting for her to win, despite the fact that she plays the villain in that one). As far as I’m concerned, I hope to see a lot more of her in the future. It’s a shame that she’s not used as much as she could have been in this film — it might have alleviated a lot of the impression that she was cast as someone hot to have passionate girl-sex with Charlize Theron, despite the ways she actually contributes to the plot later. Unfortunately, thanks to the trailer campaign, this is going to be exactly the impression taken by a lot of people as they leave the theater. Oh well. She’s still lovely in every sense with this character, and any time spent with her is time well spent, in my opinion.

But then, I’m old enough to remember when this was exactly the situation that James McAvoy was in as an apiring young actor in the early 2000’s, and he’s now a pretty damn talented and successful man (you have to be in order to fill Patrick Stewart’s wheelchair in the X-Men films), and he brings his A-Game to this film as David Percival, a man of hedonistic vices, mysteries, and questionable allegiances that will have you guessing right until the credits roll. Percival is MI6’s West Berlin Station Chief, but under the stress of living in the City of Spies has resulted in the man going completely native, indulging in German synth-wave music, smuggling, strip clubs, and other forms of debauchery. Guessing at his true loyalties proved to be some of the best fun this film gave me. He bounces between seeming utter incompetence and savant-like expertise at “playing the game” and helping Lorraine accomplish their respective goals.

David Lietch, one of the co-directors of John Wick helmed this small masterpiece, and boy, it shows throughout. His eye for superb action scenes is on full display at several point in the film. The action is tight, brutal, fast, and bloody. There’s a fight scene towards the end that takes 7 or 8 minutes and it’s all done as one continuous shot. There’s no music to it, which just hammers home the brutality. It’s easily one of the best moments in an already great movie. Like Sofia Boutella, I hope to see much more from David Lietch as a solo director in the future. Lietch has once again delivered a great action film that deserves to be counted among the greats of the 2010’s with signature flair. Sadly, it’s not all wine and roses for Lietch, as while the film’s dialogue is decent and results in a mission accomplished, doesn’t always feel like it soars to the heights it could have. McAvoy’s Percival hogs all the best dialog to himself, and other characters are content to operate in his shadow, though given his boistrous nature, this may be one of those things that ends up being quietly brilliant about the film.

Tyler Bates composes a great soundtrack (honestly one of the best parts of the movie — worth the price of admission by itself) and sprinkles in over 30 hits of the late 80’s, with 99 Luftballons by Nena featuring prominently in the film. According to various articles I’ve read online, licensing all the music on display in Atomic Blonde was a nightmare more intense than most of the fight scenes. There are no moments where the on-screen actions feels overpowered by the music, but Bates clearly understood where music helped, and where it would hinder, and as such, the movie would have been significantly lesser for not having him.

If you liked John Wick or the Jason Bourne films at their zenith, or if you felt that the Daniel Craig Bond films could have used some improvement, then you’re in for a treat with this one. Atomic Blonde is pretty much everything a late Summer movie should be. The action is bombastic, the cast immaculate, the music is perfection, and despite how the trailers make it look, the plot is tense, real, high stakes, and will keep you invested for the entire run time. It’s the best kind of modern spy fiction, and it’s not for no reason that several have hailed this as “the female James Bond” and fans have called it “Jane Wick” (heh). This is a movie that is actually better than its trailers suggest, and it’s an action movie that has delivered in a way that the Summer of 2017 has so far seemingly struggled with outside of Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

I will see it at least two more times in theaters and then I will be first in line to buy it on Blu-Ray.

As for you? Well, I won’t tell you how to live your life, but in case it’s been in any way unclear, I honestly think you’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing this one up.

I’m giving  this a solid 5 out of 5.

I can’t recommend this enough.


Atomic Blonde released in the United States on July 28th, 2017. I did not recieve any compensation for this review.

Just let Alien die

So Fox is “reassessing” the future of Alien because Covenant made less than half of what Prometheus did.

People are saying they need to improve the quality of the films. I have an alternative suggestion.

Just take Alien out back and kill it humanely. Why? They won’t improve things. THEY WILL NEVER IMPROVE THINGS. And I’m not just talking out my posterior here. I can back this up with cold hard science (of a sort).

A film’s legacy can be a tricky thing to determine, but it gets easier with lengthy franchises.

We haven’t had a even MOSTLY well-liked film since 1986. For those keeping track at home, we haven’t had anything but highly divisive “love-it-or-hate-it” films in this series in over three decades. Here are the facts:


1979: Everyone agrees that Alien, the Ridley Scott original is AMAZING.

1986: Everyone agrees that Aliens, James Cameron’s follow up is AMAZING, but for different reasons.

1992: Most people dislike Alien 3, but it has a few fans who inevitably crawl out of nearby air ducts like Xenomorphs when you criticize the film online.

1997: Alien Resurrection is damn near universally hated, and by all rights should have been the end of things.

2004: Alien vs Predator was goofy and silly and felt about as good as Sharktopus or Boa Vs Python, and again, most viewers weren’t very fond of it.

2007: EVERYONE HATES Alien vs Predator: Requiem. By all rights, once again the franchise should REALLY have fucking ended here. It’s easily the worst film featuring the Alien brand, and again, managed to piss off just about everyone who saw it.

2012: Prometheus is very much like Alien 3: it’s got a few fans, but again, most didn’t like it.


And now it’s 20-goddamn-17. We’ve got Alien: Covenant, which shaped up WORSE than Prometheus, but at least wasn’t AVP:R level terribad (not that that’s a great compliment. Lots of things are better than AVP:R. Stepping in fresh dog excrement for example. On a day you weren’t wearing socks and shoes. Because a mugger had stolen them after murdering your mom and dad in front of you).

Seriously. Put this franchise in a little pine box and bury it already.

It’s the merciful thing to do. Keeping it around is torturing the fans of a formerly-good thing like David torturing and experimenting on Elizabeth Shaw to death off screen so he can create the very first Xenomorph.

Oops. Spoilers to a terrible film you shouldn’t waste your time with anyway.

My bad. 

I regret nothing if it saved you from the sin of being interested enough to see the film.

Stay classy, internet.

Living and working under an assumed name is pretty tough, actually

So, it’s no secret among friends and family that I’m not really fond of my legal given name, and over time I’ve been gradually trying to work my chosen name, Lumi, into things.

But there are a couple of problems with this.

First, I live around people who have pretty much known me my entire life. People who also don’t understand my dislike of my name (I just contend the sound of the name doesn’t fit me right for whatever reason).

Second, I live in Alaska, which despite being the largest State in these United States is pretty much “Smalltownsville, USA” all over. This makes transitioning as simply as to a new name very difficult.

Third: while it’s perfectly legal to live almost every aspect of your life under a pseudonym, boy howdy, it ain’t easy. Employers think you’re trying to hide something, strangers who find out you’re using a pseudonym wonder why you choose not to use your legal name (and then they get suspicious), and a whole lot of other scenarios that, yes, all end in people assuming the worst from you because you’re not being “honest” about your name. The one exception to this? Authors. For some reason. Which explains some of my drive, I think.

Well, let’s be honest:

No. I am not running from anything or anyone.

No. I am not a convicted felon.

No. I’m not deliberately trying to decieve you.

No. I am not trying to conceal my real identity.

No. I am not engaged in any shifty activities that even hew vaguely close to illegal or immoral.

Yes. I AM trying to operate under a pseudonym.

Yes. I AM trying to be more honest about my identity.

Yes. I AM following the law.

Yes. I REALLY DO DISLIKE MY BIRTH NAME THAT MUCH.

And yes, I do mind that people keep asking me why.

Now that we’ve cleared that air, stay classy guys.

Lumi, out!

I went to my old DeviantArt account why did I go to my old DeviantArt account

Sometimes I do stupid things. Like, really stupid. Like, going back to a DeviantArt account I first made in 2006 and hadn’t really done anything on since 2011.

All my stuff is still cleaned out. Well, all my art, poetry, and prose. My journal entries, my comments, and my notes that I once exchanged with a host of friends, many of which I’d known personally at the time (an alien concept to me today, where almost all my friends are exclusively online relationships) are all preserved (up to a point in 2006, anyway) in perfect detail.

Unexpectedly, I found myself combing through years of journals and correspondance. DeviantArt, as it turns out, has done double duty, and also now serves as a time capsule of who I used to be, years before an identity crisis that lasted YEARS and led to a number of personas that all interacted with the world in different ways — even my friends at that time had noticed something was SERIOUSLY UP.

After that identity crisis, I was never quite able to piece back together what had broken so severely. I’m almost fundamentally a different person now compared to then. 

Growing up happens — I’m obviously not a teenager anymore. But that’s not all of what happened. What also happened is that I just… I broke, as a person. On every level. It took me 2 years to really become stable, and I never really became functional again *gesticulates wildly at a professional career that hasn’t achieved anything of note since 2008*. I broke, and when I broke, I did it spectacularly.

I bring this up because if I had remembered this account… I don’t think the damage would have been as bad. I at least would have had some sort of record of the person I’d been, going from my teenage years and into my early twenties. I could have looked at that. Analyzed it. Decided what I wanted to do with that information. And maybe, just maybe, I might have been able to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again in a much more cohesive and useful and fuctional fashion.

I regret that I forgot about this time capsule, this treasure trove that has no value to anyone but me.

All the silly-stupid exchanges. All the fanboying. The staying up into the bitter hours of the morning defending Lucrezia’s actions in Final Fantasy VII (yes, this was a thing I did, and yes, I got really into it as only a teenager could) against my friend Duncan’s accusations. (He did not like her. With age comes perspective, and I can really see why now. So Duncan, if you happen to stumble across this blog for some reason, well, you win you trenchcoated motherfucker. You win.)

I miss all of that, and all the art. I miss producing a never ending font of art, being it drawings, poetry, or prose. I still write, but I’ve since stopped drawing  entirely and I regret that deeply. And even when I write, it’s nowhere as often or as deep. Granted, most of my poetry was emo back in the day, but there a rawness that comes with that formula that could have informed me about who I was even better.

Honestly, I don’t even know if I’m going anywhere with this. I may not actually get to a point at all. But I’ll be looking through my old stuff, all those old correspondences, and looking up the people I used to know there, with most of their accounts being similarly inactive and buried like mine was. I wonder if they have kept their notes and comments too, or if they casually deleted them all, not aware of their potential future value? I for one will be meticulously combing these records though, looking for who I was. Because I miss that person, and while I can never go back to being that person, I can, at the very least, incorporate a little more of that into who I am now.

Thanks for putting up with my slightly emo…. what exactly is this anyway? Moaning? Bellyaching? Existential rambling? Thanks for reading, and putting up with my slightly emo whatever-the-hell-this-is.

Keep being cool.

Lumi, out!

OH MY GOD I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SKY HIGH

This is my blog and I totally reserve the right to lose my shit and rant about things I absolutely adore.

Which I shall do presently.

OMG ITS SUCH A PERFECT MOVIE ABOUT GROWING UP

WTF ITS SO AWESOME ABOUT HOW IT SETS UP THE “BE COOL WITH WHO YOU REALLY ARE” ANGLE, SUBVERTS IT, THEN PLAYS IT PERFECTLY STRAIGHT.

OR HOW ABOUT THAT BIT WHERE IT ACTUALLY PULLS OFF A THIRD ACT TWIST SUPERBLY IF YOU HADN’T BEEN PAYING PERFECT ATTENTION

OMG

OMG

OMG

LYNDA CARTER HAS NO BUSINESS STILL BEING THIS AWESOME; KEEP THAT SHIT UP LYNDA!

Whew. Finally got some mileage out of my caps lock key. I could rant on, but I think you get the idea. I just really love Sky High.

Glad they’re making a sequel.

Peace. 

Black Mirror

Some years ago, during Marvel’s Dark Reign story line, I envisioned a villain for that plot named “The Twisted Mirror” who, shapeless in and of itself, could become Villainous versions of heroes. For instance, face him up against Peter Parker, and he becomes the Dark Spiderman from Dark Avengers or Superior Spider-Man. Face him up against Wolverine, and he becomes Akihiro. Against Captain America, he’d turn into… well… I think Secret Empire answers that question well enough. What follows is a free verse adaptation of an evil speech originally written for him.

Interestingly, by omitting Marvel’s character names, the free verse version fits a much broader pool of relevant topics.

Sound off in the comments if you agree.


You don’t know who I am?
That’s sweet.
I’m you.
All of you.
I’m your reflection.
“The mirror does not reflect Evil
It only creates it.”
There is no truth to be found in the mirror,
Only distortion.
I am you, but only as you can see.
Everyone else sees the hero.
I know better.
I am the imperfection, the snarl beneath the skin.
I’m the gleam in your eye when you think nobody is looking.
A moment of real temptation:
That’s who I am.
I am every dark wonder you’ve had.
All of it made real.
Every single chink in your armor
Every weakness
Every character flaw
Magnified.
Drawn out.
Given a voice.
Given a face.
(That face is yours.)
I’m everything you fight in yourself every day;
Begging
Pleading
Kneeling on the floor of your heart
Praying that you will not become.
Well, I come with glad tidings!
Because the world doesn’t need you anymore.
They want me.
More precisely…
They want you
to become
Me.
I will not countenance a rival.
I am you, but you can’t be allowed to be me.
So, I’m afraid today is the day you must die.
But then, that’s every day for you, isn’t it?
Don’t worry.
The people will be well protected
by the Hero they want so very much.
I’ll give it to them.
And too late, they’ll realize what they actually asked for.
Too late they’ll realize I can’t be stopped or beaten.
Too late, they’ll realize they’ll have only me.
Forever.
Unless…
Perhaps you have something to say about that?

The Nature of Silver

Something shimmers
Something light and thin
Something silent rings
As this noble verse begins

The power to cleanse
Perhaps to control
A power to restrain
Envelop a thousand roles.

Music made metal
Poetry from Stone
It glimmers like water
Magic, singular and alone.

This is the nature of silver
Bending where others shall break
Redirecting Olympian wrath;
Ponder this every hour that you wake.