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Daily Reads: Why Horror Sequels Suck, How ‘Interstellar’ Bungles the Human Drama and More

Daily Reads: Why Horror Sequels Suck, How 'Interstellar' Bungles the Human Drama and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Why Horror Sequels Suck. Sure, there are exceptions (“Aliens”), or at least interesting (if not entirely successful) sequels (“New Nightmare”), but for the most part, horror sequels tend to be pretty dreadful. Tasha Robinson of The Dissolve explains why.

…signing on for a really terrific scary movie—especially in a theater, where the experience is more enveloping, and it’s impossible to pause the story and walk away to defuse the moment—is like boarding a roller coaster. The experience is canned and planned, but in the immediate moment, the adrenaline and sense of peril feels real.  Watching a sequel is like getting back on the roller coaster for a few more go-rounds. There may still be adrenaline left, but the real sense of threat is gone. An unknown quantity has become a known one. A ride doesn’t get scarier the second time around. Read more.

2. DC is Beating Marvel at Its Own Game. Marvel announced nine new films this week, but they’re not doing nearly as well on television as their main competitor, DC. Writing for Salon, Sonia Saraiya explains why the new DC shows are leaving “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in the dust.

At least one major reason is that the DC shows have found ways to make their constraints into assets. Precisely because they can’t rely on the location-establishing shots of real places, the DC shows occupy a fascinating and inviting space that’s part fact, part fiction. It’s not always easy to find shows on television where fantasy and reality happily coexist…But Fox’s “Gotham” is a moody, dark cityscape, punctuated by crumbling grandeur and sheets of gray rain. And Starling City in “Arrow” is an urban playground, where protagonist Oliver Queen can scale buildings using just a bow and arrow before showing up to a board meeting in a suit and tie. Read more.

3. This New TV Is Terrifying. Should a TV have a 46-page privacy policy? Our gut reaction is “hell no,” but Michael Price lists off his new television’s functions – including facial recognition, cookie tracking, and voice recognition that will pick up and transmit anything you say around the television. He gets into the uncomfortable implications about this in a crosspost with Salon and Brennan Center of Justice at NYU’s School of Law.

Unfortunately, current law affords little privacy protection to so-called “third party records,” including email, telephone records, and data stored in “the cloud.” Much of the data captured and transmitted by my new TV would likely fall into this category. Although one federal court of appeals has found this rule unconstitutional with respect to email, the principle remains a bedrock of modern electronic surveillance. Read more.

4. Is Inclusiveness Threatening “Masculine Culture?” GamerGate has made treatment of women in video games a bigger conversation than ever, yet there’s a lingering question of how much this is a threat to “masculine culture.” The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg writes that just because she thinks male-dominated arenas should be more inclusive doesn’t mean she’s interested in “getting rid of traditionally masculine culture, either as a critic or a consumer.”

I crack up at Sean Connery’s profane definitions of winners and losers in “The Rock,” and especially at Nicolas Cage’s hilarious riposte to him. I enjoy watching large men run into each other on Sunday afternoons, though I think I could still enjoy it if we found a way for them to do less damage to their brains. I once wrote a feminist defense of Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch”…But because I crave variety, and because limiting roles for men is boring, counterproductive and even hurtful in the same way that proscribing what it means to be a woman is, I like a lot of other things, too. Read more.

5. “Interstellar” Bungles Human Drama. “Interstellar” hits theaters next week, and anticipation is sky-high. Early reviews are largely positive, but not everyone thinks Christopher Nolan handles the human elements of his epic sci-fi film especially well. Alison Willmore of BuzzFeed writes about how the film falters whenever dealing with emotional moments.

The movie just can’t plausibly get into the headspace of people going through the unprecedented experiences its characters do, and therefore, it constantly smacks of psychological phoniness in everything but Cooper’s love for what he’s doing, the one emotion Nolan doesn’t seem to have any difficulty relating to. It’s not an accident that his best film, “The Prestige,” explored how ambition drove its two main characters to destroy each other in their competition to be the best. Dedication to a cause or calling at the cost of everything else is a theme you can pick out in all of his movies, and “Interstellar” suffers in halfheartedly trying to pretend there’s some kind of counterbalance. Read more.

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