Thursday, August 29, 2013

Episode 36 - Real "Steel"?

We're back! Again! After an extended hiatus to reflect and retool the podcast, Nick and Tim return with a new, live format for Derailed Trains of Thought! This episode was originally streamed live last week at, which allowed us to interact with our listener while recording as well as drastically reduce our editing time. We had a few technical snafus (early on, you'll hear music playing before we intended it to), but overall it was a fun and mostly successful first broadcast!

But what, pray tell, did we talk about? Realism in fantasy, a topic inspired by the end of the summer movie season and controversy over Man of Steel in particular. How do storytellers help audiences suspend disbelief? And how does one make a story believable while maintaining the essence of the fantastic? Tim and Nick wrestle with these questions, review some of this summer's movies, babble about their current projects, and more in the long-awaited return of Derailed Trains of Thought!


Show Notes

Loading the player ...


  1. Wish I could’ve been there live, but my work schedule makes it so I get back home just as the podcast starts, and dinner hasn’t been cooked yet.
    Congrats Nick on The Unremarkable Squire! I’ve downloaded the Clock tower story, and I can’t wait to read through it. As a Castlevania fan, I’m a sucker for clock towers. And when I think of the Great Mouse Detective, I do think of the clock tower.

    Tim, do you get to play around with the bows at your job? If you do, you should dress up as Green Arrow and take cosplaying to the next level.

    Man of Steel-
    Overall, I enjoyed Man of Steel, but there were a few problems. I really didn’t like how they portrayed Pa Kent, especially after reading the beginning of John Byrne’s Man of Steel run. I wish they would’ve made him more supportive of Clark saving people as a teenager. Also, wasn’t a fan of how Superman stopped Zod, but Tim and I have discussed this before.
    My other big issue with the film is that with the action in this film, it felt like the end of a trilogy more than the beginning. I mean, where do you go from here? The world was in peril, and then Metropolis was wrecked. What do they do in a sequel to raise the stakes?
    That said, I still enjoyed the movie, and I’d buy the movie once it comes to blu-ray. And I agree with Tim that Krypton was a visual spectacle. I loved the metal technology they used in the film.

    Realism in fantasy
    I love The Prestige, but the first time I watched it, I had a hard time accepting the ending. The world seemed so grounded in reality, that once the fantasy element comes into play, I was a little disappointed. Now, the more I thought about and understood it, the more I enjoyed the film, but it seems to come so out of nowhere to me. Yes there are hints, but it took a second watch to appreciate them.

    Summer movies:

    Iron Man 3- Loved it. Marvel did a fantastic job with their movies this year, and I think this one has been the best so far. I like Iron Man, but I don’t know that much about his character. In a way, this helps, as I don’t have expectations as to how the hero should act. I thought the twist with The Mandarin was clever, though I’m sure it’s disappointing for some Iron Man fans. One thing I’d like to note, I’ve noticed that Marvel likes to throw in a major twist at some point in the film. I feel the twist here worked much better than in The Wolverine.
    The Wolverine- Not a huge X-men fan, but I especially detest Wolverine. He’s just too overdone in the Marvel universe for me. That said, I loved the film. I think some of it has to do with the location the film took place in, which was very beautiful. As for Logan, his character arc was better than any of the other X-men films I’ve seen. Wasn’t a fan of the twist, as it kind of ruined a good portion of the movie for me, but I still liked the film.
    Star Trek: Into Darkness- My wife and I loved it, but I know I got more out of it since I’ve seen Wrath of Khan. The Spock/Kirk brought some exciting moments on screen.
    Pacific Rim- I’m surprised that you didn’t love Pacific Rim, considering I know you like Evangelion. I’m glad you at least brought the comparison up at some point. For me, I was giddy the entire film. In my opinion, Pacific Rim shamed every single Transformers movie Michael Bay ever made. You can have a big, dumb action movie, but this shows how to do that with heart. My only disappointment is that they didn’t show more of the other Jagers that were a part of the team.

    Thanks for reading my letter and using my question!

  2. Hey Greg, thanks for the comment! A few quick replies,

    Yeah, I've played with the bows a bit. I've thought about doing some sort of costumed video parody, but I'm kinda clueless on where to begin putting together a cosplay outfit if involves something more involved than clothes I have at home or can find at Goodwill.

    That is an interesting point regarding the crazy high stakes in Man of Steel. It was extremely intense for a first movie and where do they go next is a good question. Apparently, part of the answer is they add another superhero to the mix. Plus, Lex Luthor is likely to be involved, so I imagine the conflict will be more personal.

    I can certainly see your perspective with The Prestige. Sometimes such a twist can feel more like a violation of trust than a neat surprise. Tricky to pull off.

    Regarding Pacific Rim, I think in pretty much any mecha show I've seen, the giant robots are the part I'm least invested in. Evangelion is fascinating because it captures a completely hopeless worldview in the midst of vast government conspiracies, post-apocalyptic devastation, protagonists with extremely fragile psyches, and the clash of titans (because the Evas are not really mechs as much as cybernetic mutations of supernatural beings, which adds a whole other element). Pacific Rim definitely handled the giant robot genre better than any film to date, but at its core, that's all it was, at least for me. I appreciated the passion, heart, and intellect that del Toro clearly brought to the proceedings, but it's just not my thing. I'm sorry del Toro; it's not you, it's me!!!