I had been looking forward to this movie. The previews with Fiennes in his chef whites acting like a pretentious culinary twat were fun to me. It is mostly the strength of his performance that carries this movie.
If you haven't seen the previews, the movie is about a restaurant that costs $12,500 to get dinner at. They only serve twelve patrons a night. It's on a private island where the staff lives. But it turns out that this particular night is special; something dark is afoot. A lot fewer people leave the island than arrive.
Because I have been to culinary school, I was particularly interested. But fear not, this is not a flick for pretentious foodies. Most of the culinary bits in the movie are a send-up of the entire fine-dining industry. Everything from the martinet cooks yelling "Yes Chef!" to the utterly pretentious plates of food that the Chef actually informs his clients will not fill them up.
More than a pastiche of Gordon Ramsey and his ilk, there is an interesting psychological theme running through this movie about the cooks and their relationship with the industry and the clients. When the cooks talk about the dishes and the menu, they exude a passion that isn't mockery. At least I didn't think it was. Whatever it was, it walks a fine line, at once intriguing me about how that cook brain works, and making me chuckle at what I presumed were humorous bits. But that's just it, some of the deep bits of culinary talk are such a fine mixture of serious exploration and cultural send-up that it's all the more interesting to watch.
Everybody gets skewered. The initial main character is the maximum foodie idiot. Fienne's character eventually brutally mocks him, going so far as to say that people like him ruined dining. There is a prominent--the prominent--food critic in attendance with her publisher. She gets both barrels, figuratively speaking. The rest of the diners have murder-worthy backstories that aren't culinary related. The guy who is the restaurant's angel investor is physically brutalized in front of everyone.
It all works, but the writer in me can't help but see what could have been. Because what emerges is a glimpse of an utterly fascinating character in Fienne's Chef. We get to meet his mother, hear childhood anecdotes about his abusive upbringing, and see his bizarrely kitted-out cottage on the island. He is by far the most interesting character in the movie, yet we are stuck focusing on Anna Taylor-Joy's character who is much less interesting, and her face is hard for me to look at; it's got some subtly odd geometry that just really grated on me by the end of the movie.
My only real complaint is that they left the best material on the table. It would have been much more interesting to have a movie about that restaurant, the lives of the staff, their devotion to their chef, the restaurant's discipline, and of course the food.
Go watch this movie. Even if you don't like it, I think you'll find it a more interesting failure than the rest of the tripe out there.
The last few DC universe movies had been disappointments to me. So I wasn't hopeful when I decided to see this one. But I figured that The Rock might bring something to it, and the previews looked promising. Unfortunately, Black Adam turned out to be a sloppy mess.
As you saw in the previews, we have this vastly powerful character who has been asleep for 5,000 years and is a generally disagreeable fellow. He gets woken up and we have to wonder whose side he's on. There's a lot to work with there. So I figured they couldn't go too far wrong. I didn't expect brilliance, but I didn't even get the typical mediocre superhero movie.
First, there's the setup. There's a fictional Middle Eastern country with some cool mineral that everybody wants. It's being exploited by an evil multinational company that makes billions while the downtrodden people starve. The company has a free hand in the little nation-state, erecting armed checkpoints wherever they like. In a sideways way, they are invoking the Palestinian refugee situation. There is even a scene where the main female character bitches out the would-be heroes for showing up when they did. She rails at them for a minute or two for not giving a crap about the plight of her people until they want something. It gets really political for a minute. Then it's back to the tongue-in-cheek tone we're accustomed to. The movie can't decide on a tone. It wobbles from farce to serious political commentary and generally all over the place.
Then there's the sloppy plotting. It drove me crazy. The super-secret blessed 5,000-year-old crown of muckety-muck is sitting inside a mountain--with an open ceiling to the sky--where anyone could walk in and find it (but hasn't in 5,000 years). At another point, Black Adam is trapped in some kind of suspended animation pod (by the 'good' guys), and magically wakes up when needed and can pull out his respirator. Even better, he doesn't just fly off to save the day. Instead, he fights and almost gets destroyed in the process. Ostensibly these movie makers thought that was a cool bit of drama. It hit me like one of the dumbest sequences put into a wide-release movie. The movie is full of that kind of nonsensical plotting. Guess what word Black Adam has to utter to relinquish his powers? Shazam. I'm serious. It's painful.
Back to the tone. They actually have Black Adam walk through masonry walls several times instead of using doors. I think the idea was that he was a sort of newborn naïf that didn't understand our modern world although the flashbacks make it clear he came from a world with doors. And wouldn't we all expect the very smart fellow to get the idea after the first time? It's just the kind of utterly stupid humor they drop in all over the place when they aren't trying to convince you that the fate of the world is at stake.
All in all, the logical inconsistencies make this a movie I couldn't immerse myself into--just go with it. Then when you get the tone wobbling between juvenile shenanigans and world-ending danger, it turns the movie into an odd presentation. It's something, but I didn't find it engaging or entertaining.
Let's say that's all fine to you. The tone wobbles are fun to you. The logical nits are just noise in what's a great plot. The setup isn't political pandering. Say that all works for you. At the end, the woman commanding the superhero team calls in Superman to talk to Black Adam. Seriously. We go through all this artificially tense insipid plot only to find out that Superman was a phone call away. He could have ended the whole affair in seconds, literally.
The one bright spot in this film was Pierce Brosnan. His performance was strong and his character arc was engaging. So, yes, this movie is utter garbage, but in that stinky little pile is some great work from him.
If you have to watch this movie, don't do it sober.
I like to go to the movies every weekend. The pickings have been slim, in my opinion. So, last weekend I was casting around for what to watch and settled on See How They Run. Sam Rockwell's presence encouraged me, as did Saoirse Ronan's. Both of them generally have good taste in picking their projects. Overall, it's a strong cast.
The tone is more than a little tongue in cheek. It centers on a production of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap. So we have a murder mystery movie about a murder mystery production. It's shot in an exaggerated color palette which made it look a touch cartoony.
Where this movie fell down for me was the writing. It is a boring script. Rockwell plays this aging, alcoholic chief inspector who emotes so much ennui that it infects the whole movie. Nothing gets under that guys skin, nothing shocks him, and he seems to take nothing seriously. This contrasts, purposefully no doubt, with Ronan's rookie constable character who is hyper-dilligent. As a dynamic, it works. But when this duo is put into motion, they are not fun because the plot is so insipid. For instance, a good chunk of time is spent on the constable catching the inspector drinking on duty. It's cute, but for the time they spend with it, it's not enough. Then they make a joke out of the inspector's excuse for not being on the job while he's boozing--a dentist's appointment. They return to that insipid bit two or three times in the movie.
That's the movie in general: cute but not enough.
David Oyelowo and Adrien Brody likewise play their quirky characters well, perhaps purposefully a little over the top. But like the stars, their characters are given weak bits with which to mine their quirkiness for comedy. Again, it comes off a little cute, but really not enough.
The tone they picked is difficult, but they pull it off. The performances are all strong. The production values are likewise strong. It's just a boring script..
The first trailers that came out for Nope were bizarre to me. They had this shtick about how such-and-such horse trainers had these deep Hollywood roots intercut with shots of the star galloping his horse down a road with those inflatable stick men you see outside car dealerships flailing alongside the road. I immediately said hell no. Later they had a trailer that said it was about aliens. They also gave us enough of a tease to make me say I'd try it.
I was gunshy about seeing another Jordan Peele movie because I absolutely loathed his second one, Us. Unfortunately he's fulfilled his M. Night Shamalamadingdong curse. After a brilliant debut with Get Out, we've now had two god-awful flicks from him.
Nope starts by introducing us to the incompetent main character, OJ (Otis Junior; kudos to Jordan for screwing up the movie's tone with that overburdened name). Remember all that horse heritage in the preview? Well, this scion of all that supposed greatness is a muttering fool who couldn't handle the most simple task of an on-set safety meeting. All he had to do was tell the cast and crew how to behave around horses, but he couldn't manage it. In rushes his sister who also fails, preferring to take the opportunity to sell herself. Then, less than a minute later there's a horse incident because the crew wasn't properly briefed. The Haywoods are fired and we're stuck with a film about two unlikable idiot siblings.
Then we're bizarrely introduced to the Haywood siblings' neighbor. We're shown a bloody set wherein a chimpanzee sits after having apparently killed a cast member. It turns out the boy actor in that show becomes the Haywood's adult neighbor. No fewer than three different views of that same asinine TV set are presented throughout the movie. It had no direct relationship to the story. It was backstory for a small side character. It's just one of a hundred choices Peele made in putting this movie together that had me shaking my head.
Long story short, it's an alien hunt. Can we capture aliens on film? I won't tell you, but I will tell you that the alien proper is the lowest-quality special effect I've seen in a modern movie. There were movies in the '50s that had better looking aliens. The alien in this movie looked like it was put together with dingy WWII parachute material.
The plot is so stupid that it hurts my brain to think about it. Mercifully, the movie does eventually end, but not with any sense of climax. It's just a shambles of a movie that lurches from scene to scene delivering a barely cogent narrative about three of the dumbest humans put on film trying to get their Ancient Aliens on. There is no rising tension, no climax, and no epilogue to tell us what happens to the Haywood twits.
Overall, it's a weak narrative about unlikable incompetent characters edited to be as unengaging as possible.
Don't watch this movie, not even for free. I don't think it would be improved by intoxicants unless you can come up with a mocking drinking game for it.
Jordan Peele is the new M. Night Shamalyan. I had such hopes for him.
The thing they sell you on in the previews is the black phone in the basement that isn't hooked up yet nonetheless receives calls from a supernatural source. I generally don't enjoy Ethan Hawke, but that phone gimmick was a strong hook.
The movie starts out fairly strong. It's the 1970s, so for those of you of a certain age, there's some nostalgia value in just seeing the '70s brought to the screen.
They have a decent setup: kids disappearing, taken by the Grabber. The main character is an abused boy whose classmates have been going missing. They set up a little parallelism between the abuse of kids in general and the kid's father who beats the crap out of his kids. So there's a lot to mine for engagement: abusive family, tight bond with sister, sister's psychic powers, and a whodunit regarding the kidnappings. But the moviemakers fail to capitalize on any of it.
The problem with this movie is that once the kid is trapped in the serial killer dungeon, the moviemakers didn't know what to do with the movie. So they throw out some side content about the kid's psychic sister, but generally speaking the movie just wanders around until it kind of ends all of a sudden.
Yes, there is a cogent narrative thread, but there's no pacing, no suspense, very little of a climax, and no epilogue or denouement. So in terms of being emotionally effective, this movie is weak. The ending isn't particularly satisfying.
Ethan Hawke does a good job with what they give him, but they don't give him much. So we don't get a portrait of a sick mind or engaging weirdness.
My biggest complaint is that they don't do much with the supernatural angle. Other than a few mysterious phone calls, there is almost nothing. The direction is flat. The scariest moment for me was when the little sister is riding around and gets a stunning hint from the Grabber's victims that she's in front of the dungeon house.
As a writer, I could sense there was a drama behind getting the screenplay written. Something went very wrong in translating the original short story into a shooting script. Likewise, the direction was weak. So in the end, we get a thriller that isn't suspenseful or thrilling. Since the short story was written by Stephen King's son, I suspect that this project was a square peg that a whole lot of influence got crammed into a round hole. Without that name behind this movie, I don't think it would have been made.
I don't recommend you watch it, but if you must, I suspect that intoxicants will greatly improve your viewing.
Actual discussion of this movie would just allow the movie makers to take more of my life.
Simply said, I recommend that you do not watch this movie under any circumstances.
Really bored people who actually plumbed the depths of my blog will have noted that I posted a fairly esoteric post a while ago that dealt with the economic model of Borderlands 2. Specifically, I was talking about arbitrage between the slot machines in Sanctuary vs. those in Tiny Tina's "Assault on Dragon Keep" DLC. That is, I'm a Borderlands geek.
Tiny Tina's DLC was so popular that they started selling it as a standalone game. People didn't want to have to buy Borderlands to get that DLC. It's a testament to what a great job they did with that DLC.
So when 2K announced that they were coming out with a game designed around that DLC in Borderlands 2, I was very excited. I spent months waiting. I pre-ordered the game on Amazon. Three days after I received it, I sent it back for a refund.
Wonderlands is a train wreck before you even get to the content. They made all the technical mistakes they made in Borderlands 3. Said another way, they never fixed all the things they broke in Borderlands 3. Let's review those mistakes. First of all, Borderlands 3 is unplayable for the simple reason that the user interface is unusable. In couch-coop mode, I couldn't read the screen. At times, I would walk up to my 50-inch plasma screen, put my eyes right up to the screen, and I still couldn't make out some of the text. So, in technical terms, 2K has given the middle finger to all the co-op players out there.
It also didn't help that Wonderlands doesn't have a way to calibrate screen position, so I found certain things on-screen clipped at the edges.
If those two technical problems don't sway you, there's also the issue of the vending machine interface. Since Borderlands 1, the vending machines have been a sink hole for computing cycles. You go into a vending machine and the rest of the game--often your partner sitting next to you on the couch--starts to stutter. It is so bad that sometimes my girlfriend and I take turns going into the vending machine interfaces because otherwise it brings the console to its knees.
Let's say none of that sways you. Let's say you only use single-player mode and have phenomenal eyesight. What's wrong?
Answer: everything else.
The game has no story. The game has no characters. The game has no objective. It has only the barest skeins of missions which aren't compelling because they don't tie into any story. If you're used to the Borderlands model, it's bizarre to navigate.
When I first started playing Wonderlands, I was dropped into a mission. Disoriented and annoyed with the interface, I played on in the hopes that things would get better. When I finished that mission I was transported to her "Overlands" area which is the weirdest gaming thing I've run into in a professionally produced game. In Overlands, they change the animation style so that your character becomes a little anime bobble-head figure walking around what looks like an old fashioned board game. Different spots in Overlands give you access to different areas with local missions.
So, once in Overlands, you might wonder, "Where should I go next?"
I didn't know. After a few days I didn't care. The entire game is an incoherent mess.
The only good in all of this is that Amazon let me send the game back. I didn't have the presence of mind to do that for Borderlands 3, so now it's a coaster.
My message to you is: DO NOT BUY TINY TINA'S WONDERLANDS.
This movie is too long, too busy, too fast in many places, and incoherent much of the time. It's a glorious mess.
I write 'glorious' because it's creative, funny, brave, and unpredictable. It starts out as a conventional drama about a harried laundromat owner's tax problems and devolves into an abstract rant against nihilism. There's a lot of room for fun in there, and they make use of a bit of it.
As the movie progresses, the visual style accelerates until the audience is subjected to a staccato barrage of imagery that races by so fast that it barely registers. In places, that's a smart fun way to do it, but after an hour and a half of this movie, you're still in for another forty minutes, and I felt every damn one.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
The conceit of the multiverse was fun to see. That's how far sci-fi has come. We can now throw the multiverse into a wide-release drama and everyone pretty much gets it. Their trick of transferring from one verse to another was weak as hell. They'd have someone do something wildly improbable and that would trigger a jump to another verse. I was willing to let it go, but then they got stupid with it. There were two separate characters that had to shove trophies up their rectums to jump verses, so we get these stylized shots of ardent fighters ass-slamming the trophies. It's sorta-kinda funny, but tonally it's at odds with telling a serious tale with serious consequences.
The notion of a character that had access to all their selves across the multiverse was also interesting. They chose to go to a dark place with it. The main character's daughter becomes a multiverse terror because with access to all her selves, she becomes indomitable. The downside is that with access to all that, she still can't find satisfaction. Having seen all things everywhere, all versions of herself, she becomes a nihilist. In none of those universes can she find a variation of herself worth living for--the very definition of nihilism.
The plot problems start when the mother acquires the same power as the daughter. Neither can defeat the other. It's the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. The upside of that problem is that for us to get resolution, there really must be a meeting of the minds, not subjugation. The downside is that the audience is subjected to a seemingly endless fight in which these two super-multi-verse mavens slap each other around across the multiverse. The notion of reaching a crescendo is achieved with pacing. The little set-tos come faster and faster with flashes of imagery that gets old in about ten seconds. Unfortunately it lasts like half an hour. It's maddening to sit through.
The ending was a cop-out to me. Mom and daughter tearfully make up, and the world resumes it's heartening, sloppy course. There's just enough time for mom to confront her own father with her daughter's homosexuality. It felt like a PC happy-horseshit add on to me. Ostensibly, her mother's ability to confront her father's bigotry is supposed to demonstrate growth on her part. To me, it was just pandering. They seemed to want to drop back into this one dreary existence and pretend that the wider multi-verse didn't exist. Their insistence in having these enlightened women stooping to address pedestrian bigotry was a statement to me of how far they haven't come. The mom's father is a shit that should be happily ignored. Where is the wisdom of letting the ignorance of mean people undermine one's sense of well being? You might not agree, but the larger point is that they had a decent resolution that they muddied with politics.
If we're going to address bigotry against gays, one of the best ways to do it is to let our gay characters in movies be gay without making a big deal out of it--because it isn't. The grandfather didn't care about the granddaughter's sex life. He was a misogynist. They have a scene of him disappointed at his child being a daughter, so the fact that his daughter's daughter is gay is a non-event to that asshole. They all lost him with their gender long before they developed a sexual orientation.
So, summing it up, we have a movie that has great bones, but was badly in need of a hard-nosed editor and a creative team less interested in farming for political brownie points at the expense of story. Someone could probably come along and edit that 139 minute monstrosity down to a brilliant 90 minute flick.
If you do watch this movie, I recommend intoxicants.
So, here I am, a minor author with some stories sold. I have a novel approaching publishability. I have enough stories to put out a collection.
This posting is the article I wish someone had written for me to read, a primer on author newsletter logistics. As with most learning, I like to start with the big picture, the context.
While I like to think I know something about writing, I knew next to nothing about publishing or marketing. So I bought a book about how to self-publish. The over-arching advice, rule number one, the bare minimum thing every self-publishing author must do--according to this book anyway--is build a list of email addresses for a newsletter.
Unless you're fairly famous, your books don't sell themselves. It's trivial to upload a file on Amazon and call yourself published, but after that? Who exactly will buy that book? The short answer is: almost no one. Even your potential fans won't know to look for it.
Of course any self-published author must do their own marketing. For some people that means giveaways. For others it means Facebook ads. But apparently the cheapest, most effective thing to do is send out a newsletter to your registered fans. The 'conversion' of newsletters to purchases runs pretty high, so they say.
I'm a technical guy (Computer Science MS), but I didn't understand how it all works. It's not rocket science, but I found it interesting to dig into. Author newsletters are a big segment of the email business. There are companies that are dedicated to managing newsletter subscriber lists, creating snazzy looking mailings, and even transactional stuff like giveaways.
Step one is to have a website or webpage somewhere from which you can collect email addresses. It's a simple idea, but there's a big difference between posting static content for readers, and quite another to implement transactions which require data storage and retrieval. I used to work in IT, so the idea of setting up a server with a database and coding transactions was a painful thought. It might be more painful to me because I know, in detail, what it takes to do and maintain. Imagine how your less technically inclined writers would feel about it. Even if you're clever and maybe think up a cheap way to code it, what if you're successful? Then the volume of those transactions shoots up. Will your little kludge of a system scale up to meet demand? And how much of your time to you want to spend maintaining and monitoring those systems? You get the idea, not fun to even think about.
Like all common tasks that no one wants to do, there are people you can pay to do it for you. You've probably heard of MailChimp. They are one of the companies that does all this email related stuff I'm talking about. MailerLite is another one, the one I decided to use.
Collection of email addresses is achieved by embedding a form from a mail service into a webpage. In my case, I log into MailerLite and use their GUI builder to create a page to collect email addresses. Really I only have to customize one of theirs; they provide templates because it's the basis of a ton of their business. Once you layout the page, your mail service gives you code to embed in your webpage, literally. You cut and paste that code into your webpage/website. In my case, I use Weebly to host my website, so I go into Weebly's GUI builder and insert 'header code' and 'control code'. The header code is for establishing page-scoped CSS setup. The control-scope code is to actually manifest the mail-service interface (screen/page/popup). Then when the user goes to that page of your website, the embedded form shows up. That gives the user a chance to enter an email address and click a button to send it to your mail service. In my case, if I log into MailerLite and go to 'Subscribers', I'll see the newly entered email address.
Simple, right? Conceptually, yes, but you do have to figure out your mail service's interface and your web-hosting company's interface to embed code. In my case, when the form popped up on my Weebly site, the paragraph ( "<p>" in HTML) content was the wrong style. Some sneaky combination of CSS settings polluted the embedded page. I had to spend a few hours trying to figure out exactly what bit of code to tweak and how. Unfortunately, MailerLite doesn't directly support Weebly. They have 'integrations' which is to say partnerships among these companies. So MailerLite plays with Wix fairly nicely and Weebly seems to play nicely with MailChimp, but MailerLite and Weebly gave me some grief.
That's the kind of thing that would put off a non-techincal author. Imagine someone like that having to debug the form embedded on their website. It's one of a thousand little things that pushes authors towards traditional publishing or hiring a 'web guy.'
I got through it, cursing a little. As usual, I'm happy to have done it because now I learned some important things in the process. At that point, users of my website could go to the newsletter page, enter their email address, and those addresses would pile up in my MailerLite account. In my case, when I publish short stories, I get to tell readers my website URL. The idea is that they get a tickle out of a story, go to my website, looking for more and signing up for my newsletter which will hopefully turn them into a book purchaser some day in the future.
Did I mention I've never sent out a newsletter yet?
It turns out you need email service to send out newsletters. Yeah, I know, you have an email, right? You don't need simply an email address, you need your own email domain. That may sound like a big deal, but if you have a website, you likely already own a domain. By 'email service' I mean that the DNS (domain name servers) entry of your website domain (e.g. lbspillers.com) will now contain the records that direct email correspondence to servers willing to take them.
Strictly speaking, you don't need your own email domain. The thing is, that free email services don't want to do bulk mailings for you and a lot of email client software gives the stink eye to emails coming from those free services. How many emails does it take to make Gmail balk? I don't know. A lot, I suspect. But more importantly, how many people will take your email seriously? There are authentication protocols like DKIM and DMARC that email clients can use to decide if an email claiming to be from you is authentic. Using your own email domain allows your email service to participate in these kinds of authentication protocols, ensuring that no one thinks your newsletters are spam or from a spoofed address.
Cursing again, I went to my internet domain seller, the people who manage my DNS entries, and discovered that basic email service with one glorious mailbox would cost me $11 a year. For that price, I was willing to get with the program. I purchased email service and spent a few hours setting up my one email email@example.com.
Now I am finally positioned to send out newsletters. Even better, those newsletters will have the very professional looking "unsubscribe" links that will let users opt out. That's not just a nice feature, but required unless you want to be accused of sending out spam emails. It's another little thing that your mail service takes care of for you.
Did I mention that MailerLite is free until you reach 1,000 subscribers? Yeah, pretty cool. So my total cost for setting up for author newsletters so far is $11 for the year (renews at $14…it was a sale) and some fairly aggravating hours learning the nitty-gritty details of all these vendor interfaces.
Now I just need readers.
Over the weekend I went to see Uncharted with my girlfriend. I was surprised that the theater was nearly sold out. I had probably only seen one preview for it. Ostensibly Tom Holland is pulling Spiderman fans to the theaters.
Sloppy is the word I'd use for this movie. Sloppy writing, sloppy plotting, sloppy storytelling, sloppy character work, and a sort of general disdain for believability. So, yeah, gimme a popcorn movie with eye candy and tension and…stuff, but does it have to be so sloppy?
The movie in a nutshell is that the Scooby Gang is on the trail of lost South American gold. Of course, so is our cliché bad guy played by Antonio Banderas. But don't worry. They won't bother with building any tension with that bad guy. He's just the sugar daddy that can supply the toys that this movie's visuals demand.
We open with Tom Holland in that preview scene where he Kong-jumps from palette to palette in 400 MPH wind behind a cargo plane. It's so god damned impossible that I can't watch it with any interest. Anyone being dragged behind a plane would be hard pressed to hold on. They certainly can't leap against that wind from palette to palette like a preening gymnast. I watched it, of course, but it wasn't affecting to me. It was just ridiculous piled on ridiculous. There is no, oh crap that guy might shoot him, because the entire scene is bullshit. It's just a question of what ridiculousness will they show next, a shrug.
Then we get to Holland being recruited by Wahlberg. I won't bother with the details, but it tracked about as well as Holland Kong-jumping in 400mph winds.
The best bit is probably them knocking around Barcelona trying to find the map to the treasure. That involved a lot of fun Indiana Jones style exploration with interesting eye candy.
Anyway, the Scooby Gang, riddled with mistrust as it is, eventually breaks up and separately get to the treasure about the same time as the bad guys. In a shot straight from The Goonies, there are two Spanish Galleons sitting in the back of a nearly closed grotto with sunlight streaming onto them. It was a a glamour shot of two wooden ships that have come through 500 years of weathering completely unscathed. And yes, they sat there, visible from above for 500 years with no one finding them and the ships' magical wood never succumbing to the elements.
Not only did that wood not succumb, but it's strong enough that two straps on each ship is enough for it to be hoisted into the air by some mythical helicopter capable of lifting a ridiculous tonnage of ship.
What you get in this movie is a string of startling visuals which completely lack verisimilitude. They constantly will pull you out of a plot that itself is asinine and populated with characters doing things humans don't do.
This movie's quality will increase proportionately with your level of intoxication. Do not watch it, but if you must, don't watch it sober.