Star Wars: Mary Sue Unleashed!

Now that “Star Wars: the Force Awakens has hit   cable television with round the clock multiple showings  I thought would talk about it  it since I didn’t have the opportunity to add my two cents when it came out way back in December of 2015 (Merrick Says Stuff wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye). The movie begins on a serious note of nostalgia by opening with the printed text we have come to know and associate with George Lucas “Star Wars”. Our story opens up about 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” Luke the first Jedi to appear after the fall of the Republic and the last one has disappeared. Since the fall of the Empire a new danger has appeared and it’s called the first order.

The movie begins with a meeting between Poe Dammeron and village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. The meeting is interrupted when storm stoppers led by Anaken jr *ahem* Kylo Ren  crash the meeting and capture Poe, while Ren kills Tekka. The droid BB-8 escapes with the piece of the map. From there our brave little droid encounters a scavenger named Rey  near a junkyard settlement. Meanwhile  Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Storm Trooper FN-2187 on his first mission discovers he doesn’t like killing and decides to discretely make moves for a change of careers.So he hatches a plan to free Poe and together they bounce. What follows is a familiar tale of good verses evil with our intrepid heroes desperately trying to find Luke, the galaxy’s last hope and save the universe from the clutches of evil. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. It’s a “New Hope” beat by beat but I’ll get into that in a bit.

First let me talk about the good things in this movie. For the most part I thought the casting of the new characters was pretty good. I love John Boyega  as FN-2187 or Finn for short so much so I’m willing to forget that yet again the only black guy in a galaxy far far away gets his  name from a bunch of white people. Roots much? I thought Boyega played a very sympathetic and likeable character. One of the things I found interesting about the character Finn was how some people called him cowardly. Personally I say it was the perfect representation of the black mentality in that if an African American sees danger to the east we are going west. Finn wasn’t going to play with his life but he was fine with letting others be the hero and play with theirs. I honestly think the label of cowardly was wrong. Finn had a finely honed sensibility about immediate danger however when his new found friends are in danger, namely Rei he does what he has to do.

Speaking of friends I felt Oscar Issac was very charismatic in the role of Poe Dammeron and I second the claim that in him there is leading man material. He wasn’t in the movie long but the screen time he had left an impression. In fact the entire movie left an impression and had a lot to prove and fix. It had to prove that a viable Star Wars movie could be made while fixing the mistakes(prequels) of the past.The movie is never boring, a problem I had with the prequels, and the characters both old and new are quite likeable, also something that was a big problem the former Lucas movies. In fact the movies were non stop action with characters I felt somewhat invested in. The movie had a lot to prove, it had to feel like a Star Wars movie and really get us to feel that old nostalgia from before. “The Force Awakens” somehow managed to do all of these things and quite well. Yet after watching it I felt nostalgic for the George Lucas Prequels.

Now here is the bad. Being nostalgic for the George Lucas prequels is a really bad thing. By no means were they good but at least Lucas tried to do something different. He actually tried to traverse new grounds and concepts rather than walk the paths already tread.  What J.J. Abrams did what recreate “A New Hope” beat by beat. It was an almost Slavish remake. Technically  a different title means a different movie not a remake but make no mistake “The Force Awakens” is a remake much the same as “Jurassic World” was a remake of Park. Everything was Slavishly recreated from the desert planet, to the McGuffin in the droid and finally the climatic battle to destroy a death star, excuse me, star killer base with non stop action designed to distract people from the fact that this movie has (what little there is) a shoe string plot. It was an expensive, glorified remake designed to fleece nostalgia frenzied fools (including myself) out of their hard earned cash and milk those merchandising sales with characters like Captain Phasma played by Gwendoline Christie who got about two minutes of screen time.

One of the things I’ve learned with J.J. Abrams films is that in order to enjoy them one must go into the movie with their brains firmly shut off. Once that is done one can firmly ohh and awww at all the pretty colors and action he’s going to serve like at an all you can eat buffet.  But there is a problem I find totally unique to Abrams:he includes material so   heinously stupid  it shuts your brain back on. Both of his Star Trek movies were littered with that with one of the worst offenses being Spok and the red matter shuttling toward Romulus to “revitalize” their sun. The other (though there are many scenes) also involved this mysterious red matter, specifically when they jet it off into deep space, blow it up, thus causing a black hole to form with the Enterprise right in the event horizon. Some how the Enterprise escapes A FRICKEN BLACK HOLE.

My brain was forcibly shut back just by reading the opening story. I found myself asking how are there still rebels if the republic won? How in the hell does the first order pop up under the republics nose and why had they not done anything about it? Why is princess Leia a general? I can understand no longer being a princess since her planet got blown up but I would have expected as least a senator. The list of plot holes causing my brain to shut back on goes on from Kylo Ren, the wanna be Darth Vader and my asking why didn’t Leia and Luke break bread with this kid about his grandfather to how and why in the hell would Luke leave without reestablishing the Jedi order and did they forget that Leia had the force too?

There is also the issue of Poe Dammeron. He was supposed to be dead and yet somehow with no explanation shows up alive and well from a ship sinking in sand then blowing up for good measure. There was, the script and it said Oscar Issac  got girls panties wet and some guys feeling uncomfortably conflicted because damn it he was just too damn sexy to die. Then there was the horrible saber battles: I mean really with the budget this movie had they couldn’t spare some extra cash for a good fight choreographer? The saber battles looked like something my friends and I staged back when I was a kid. The movie had some very cringe worthy moments like Finn saying the  eye rolling line”That’s one hell of a pilot” as part of some very forced nudge and wink  to the audience regarding Poe being miraculously alive.  I meant to stop I really did but when I think about the movie it annoys me all over again especially when thinking about Rei the Mary Sue of the movie. I did not like Rei at all.

star-wars-rey-a-marry-sue

While I understand the need to portray strong females in roles I think the concept of Ms Mary Sue Skywalker is just as much patronizing bullshit as  the old school damsel in distress or girl friday from days of old. She’s perfect in every way much the same as Andrew Garfield as spider man who’s sole reason was to hit multiple demographics from the nerd to outsider to hipster. She’s strong, independent and apparently only needs to be told the force exist in order to best her cousin Kylo Ren. In many ways this depiction is just as condescending as making her the needy damsel in distress or the woman who can’t do anything without a man. I’m sure many women would like to think the are perfect in every way but it a lie we as men allow to get some peace.

Women are just as flawed as men and for this movie we should have had a flawed nuanced women who could be strong and independent. I wish Star Wars had come out with a fan made film like Start Trek did with Battle of Axanar which was superior in every way to the more recent star trek films that have come out in the past decade. (Sorry Star Trek Beyond  but axanar beat you too) to  show executives a very good star wars movie using the books and comics from what used to be considered cannon before Disney purchased the IP from Lucas. I do not like JJ Abraham movie. It relied heavily on the nostalgia factor in order to evoke the feels  when it really should have been something that stood on it’s own. I honestly felt gypped giving this movie my $8. I payed to see something new not a remake with a fancy new title. Suffice to say I will not be giving anymore of  my cash to movies set in a galaxy far far away…

 

 

 

 

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Summer Block Buster Blues

Summer time has come to represent many things in our modern era. For kids ages 5 through college it is summer break with school out and freedom for roughly two to three months. It’s summer holidays with 4th of July at home or on the beach and memorial day weekend barbecues symbolically ending summer with kids miserably returning to schools while adults rejoice. In our consumer driven society summer time has also become known as the time of summer block busters. It is a period of time when movie producers release big budget films and make insane amounts of money off summer time movie consumers. Summer time block busters are also augurs the state of things to come from what to expect with future movies to projected profits. This year the forecasting was not good. We got remakes, reboots and re-do’s galore not to mention some truly ill conceived super hero flicks, no not BvS that was spring. I’m talking about Suicide Squad.

I’ll save suicide squad for later. The summer wasn’t all a boring waste land of boring reboots and sequels we didn’t ask for or deserve. The summer was kicked off right with “Captain America Civil war” Which began on the best foot possible.  It was just unfortunate that the follow up summer movies stumbled, dropped the ball and just flat out fell on their faces. One of those face plants was a movie called “The Legend of Tarzan.” For some reason Lions Gate studios felt that the world did not get enough of the  previous Tarzan films and birthed a 49th to slake our desire for a half naked white man running around calling himself the king of the jungle in Africa. But here are the things that set it apart: first it has Samuel L Jackson in it as a lead black token character, Maggot Robbie as the not heroine even though that is what she is and this time the movie is self aware of how out dated the notion of a white man calling himself the king of the jungle is and spends it time pandering to social justice warriors by making racist material more PC for today’s delicate palette. In my personal opinion the best way to achieve that goal would have been not to make this movie at all.

Alas the the summer of blues doesn’t end there. In terms of summer dont’s we had X-Men apocalypse a super hero flick  about as middle of the road as could be and advertised how the X-Men franchise is the  premier bottom bitch of the pimp called 20th Century Fox . If you had any hopes of X-men returning to Marvel who would treat it so much better kill it because if it’s one thing X-Men apocalypse seemed to say is that will not happen any time soon.  The cap off to an incredibly lack luster summer of movies and one of the shining examples of everything wrong with Hollywood has to be the sequel to independence day. The sequel we didn’t ask for or deserve. The first one was lightning in a bottle, an oddity that shouldn’t have worked but did and helped launch the film career of Will Smith. The sequel is just a travesty that should have been aborted.

Block Buster Movie bombs 2

Speaking of travesties that should have been aborted I feel the same could be said about ghost busters the remake. Now I give not two shits about the “controversy” concerning an all female cast. The real controversy was the cynical decision to reboot it in the first place in hopes of recapturing lightening in a bottle. News flash its almost impossible to recapture something like that. The original Ghost Busters was that rare convergence of actors and perfect timing among other things that made that movie good. So I’m not sure that type of success could have been replicated but the Ghost Busters reboot did have talented actresses that I felt deserved a far better movie than what they were given. Would it have been so hard to write a script in which the original Ghost Busters happened and these women were their successors?

As if the summer couldn’t get worse with, I can’t even say poorly written Ghost Busters script since it essentially was the same movie as the original we also had to get a remake of the 1950’s classic Ben  Hur. I find myself wondering what movie executives were smoking when they thought a remake of Ben Hur was a good idea. I know they shamelessly tried to market it to Christians by having Christ in it but apparently not even they were buying the garbage Hollywood was trying to sell. Ben Hur and Ghost Busters were two actual flops of the summer.

Suicide Squad should have been as well but once again fan boys zealously flocked to the theater to support  this sad attempt and making Guardians of The Galaxy gone bad. It’s ironic, the movie had a bigger opening that Guardians but ultimately Guardians will still be considered a bigger financial and critical success than Suicide squad. This was a movie along with ghost busters the Chinese audiences had the good sense to ban from being viewed in their country. Speaking of Chinese audiences I feel they are partly to blame for the movie remakes and  reboots we have experienced within the past few years. China is a rapidly growing movie market that Hollywood is all to desperate to mine. As such since Chinese have no idea that a movie like Total Recall or Robo Cop are remakes Hollywood just mines old material updates it then repackage it as something new. It worked before right? of course it did. It augers a very disturbing trend.

The summer did have some highlights to be sure like “The Secret Life of Pets” or “Finding Dory” But what good movies there were to be found were far and few in between. Even worse they were overshadowed by loud garish colored movies like Suicide Squad and the ill advised “Ghost Busters.” It was a sad summer because for every bright note like “Captain America Civil War”  or “Sausage Party”there were 10 other downers   that had me singing the summer time blues…

 

 

Suicide Squad: Suckers for Pain

Suicide Squad has finally dropped and the reviews are- I want to say less than stellar but that’s an understatement considering they are around “Batman Vs Superman” caliber. In fact the rotten tomatoes score is just a smidgen lower sitting at 26% to “Dawn of Justice” 27%. This is actually a bit worse than what I initially predicted in my previous post “Not excited for the DCEU” in which I stated  that “Suicide Squad” among the other upcoming  DC movies would be mediocre at best. Honestly after all the re-shoots I was expecting something comparable to X-Men Apocalypse which was the very definition of mediocre.

So I find the scoring kind of ironic considering how at the premier David Ayer tweeted fuck marvel and joined in with fans chanting it.Well I suppose  if by fuck he was referring to himself bent over while aggressively shoving his brown eye onto the tip of Stan lee or some marvel executive’s dick then sure! Fuck marvel. Unlike my response the reply from marvel execs like Joe Quesada and Stan the man Lee was nothing short of classy with them tweeting “Hey Marvel faithful I know you’re upset but cut @DavidAyerMovies a break, it was all in good fun. Can’t wait to see SS, best of luck David!” and”Hey @DavidAyerMovies – Don’t feel too bad about dropping the f bomb. It’s a compliment of the highest order!”

That was an incredibly mature and magnanimous reply unlike what has been seen in DC fans. In response to the low rotten tomatoes aggregate score a petition was created by Abdullah Coldwater supposedly as a means for fans to express their anger over the perceived unfair treatment “Suicide Squad” and other DC/WB flicks have received by demanding that rotten tomatoes the site that compiles critic reviews be shut down. I find it cute that little Abdullah of Alexandria Egypt started a petition to have rotten tomatoes shut down because they didn’t like the aggregate negative critic scores on suicide squad. I shouldn’t be surprised that someone from Egypt moved to create a petition to shut down something because someone said something they didn’t like. How many regime changes has Egypt had in the past eight years now?  It’s a shame the sarcasm and condensation in my voice doesn’t translate to text. I really wanted to pat that nit wit on the head.

The problem isn’t critic responses or some perceived notion that solely based off what critics say people will flock to see a movie or stay at home. If critics had that much power Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise would have been dead a long time ago. The problem lies with DC/ WB and with the rabid fans the suckers for pain who mindlessly keep buying into this garbage. If they want a quality flick they should demand it instead of like sheep flocking to the theater to give DC/WB their money in hopes that the next movie will be good.  I’m not sure why people are so surprised by the negative response this movie received or the potential negative responses DC/WB that may occur with the release of Justice League and Wonder Woman.

Now as much as I enjoy seeing DC/WB burn because of their sloppy cynical attempt to short cut world building and make Marvel money fast their failure serves no purpose to the future of comic book film genre. In fact it’s a drag. With every comic book film dropped  critics write about how they wonder(hope really) if this will be the movie that rings the death knell for comic book movies if Marvel finally manages to make that one box office bomb. That is a lot of pressure for one studio and unfair. Marvel has almost single handedly changed the film industry by successfully creating a connected universe and constantly making quality movies. So in my opinion they deserve to have one misstep in their library.

They cant however because other studios like DC/WB and 20th century fox aren’t holding it down (I didn’t mention Sony since they had the good sense to get into bed with Marvel). I’ve said before in previous blogs that I’m all for competition so long as it’s good. In fact competition is best because it makes companies compete for our dollar and in the end we as consumers win. Right now that is not the case and just going out to the movies and handing DC money they clearly did not deserve then crying foul when critics rape it and bad word of mouth kills it off (and it will) does not help.

I think Suicide Squad was a wasted effort but not because I didn’t want to see it or thought it was a bad idea. I liked the idea of a Suicide Squad movie but only after the DC extended universe was established. So about 5 or 7 movies in I think a Suicide Squad movie would have been perfect. On the flip side if they were going to rush a Suicide Squad movie (which they obviously did) they should have used “Batman: Escape from Arkham” as a template and they should have gone balls out and made it rated R. “Escape from Arkham” was “Suicide Squad” done absolutely right in way that was true to the characters so that they remained bad but as the viewer you liked their bad while wondering which one will die and laughing when its revealed which ones do. In the Animated film they were bad to the bone bad guys, it’s what they do and did so well without  having e to constantly remind anyone by saying it.

Expect more of the same mediocrity and possible re-shoots of Justice League and Wonder Woman since the cash has already been spent and the dirty hand of Snyder is all over them. I hope fans learn from this and  break the cycle.If you want better quality from the DC/WB learn to keep your  cash in your  wallet and  don’t settle for something sub par like this Suicide Squad movie is. Don’t be a sucker for pain.

 

 

Stranger Things: A Review

I just got done binge watching the Netflix show “Stranger Things” a show set in what looks like Stephen King’s back yard of Maine that even comes with a blatant reference to the man himself. It’s any small town in rural America  where everyone knows your name and your business. The idyllic peace is broken with an incident of a young boy Will Byers played by Noah Schnapp mysteriously disappears. This nameless town could be a sister town to Maine a ghetto or poor mans Maine as it were because what follows is a story truly stranger than fiction that involves government agencies and seemingly supernatural forces at play.

For me the strange thing about the show “Stranger Things” is the positive reviews the show has received. It’s not bad but I didn’t find it particularly good either. It feels like a cast off Stephen King story  where  the books   “IT”, the short story “The Body” which was later called “Stand By ME” and chapters of “Dream Catcher” had an orgy and viola! the series “Stranger Things  was born. This could have been a good thing but instead it came off as mediocre especially with the introduction to the mysterious child eleven played by Millie Bobby Brown who is part of some government experiment that gives her psychic powers like Charlie from “Fire Starter.”  Oh and did I forget to mention mysterious beings from an alternate dimension that came into our world because eleven… touched them?

The biggest reason I did not like this series is  the story telling.In addition to things not explained,  and multiple Stephen King rip offs  this story has some manhole sized plot holes. While I get that this is the 80’s and a small town where latch key kids are the norm it utterly baffled me the town’s Sheriff’s  played by  David Harbour lack of worry or empathy when Will Byers goes missing almost like it was routine for this kid to disappear when clearly it wasn’t. You would have thought this little white kid was black. Fun fact, if an adult goes missing you wait twenty four hours. If a child goes missing immediate action is supposed to be taken. When Joyce Bryers reports her son Will missing she’s blown off with only a half hearted attempt to find initially made and this was only after persistent nagging.

What the hell kind of town is this and why does Sheriff Hopper still have a job?I also found fault with the procedure. This is a small town with very limited resources so why wasn’t this phoned into the state police or FBI?  Better yet there is a creepy science facility that everyone in town simply ignores? I’m not even going into the big brother wire taping or how as the story builds the towns folk just accepts how these people who are clearly working for the organization just accepts their authority with no question. For me it is a huge stretch that no one would think to call authorities, particularly the sheriffs department outside of the town.

It is also unclear as to how or why eleven has psychic powers save that some weird thing that went wrong in a sensory deprivation tank with her mother somehow gave her powers. The show didn’t even seem to have any real sense of what her powers were or what limits they had, with the character seemingly pulling something new out of her ass. This confusion extended even to the end when eleven sacrifices herself to save her new found friends.

Now there were some things I liked about the show. For example I felt that Millie Bobbi Brown gave a very good performance as eleven. She managed to be broken, vunerable and somewhat dangerous all at once. I also  liked how eleven didn’t have any ideas of gender specific roles at least until she put on a wig and dress and said I’m pretty. Before that  moment I liked the fact she had no preconceived notion of what it was to be a girl,thinking it only natural to hang with the boys. It was a very wasted. Speaking of wasted moments I felt Winona Ryder and Natalia Dryer were wasted talents trapped in one note characters with Winona playing mother of the year Joyce Bryer Will Bryer’s  crazy mom and Natalia as Nancy, the annoying, know it all, “god my parents are so lame” teenage girl stereo type you just want to backhand every time she opens her mouth.

The show reaches his climax with eleven sacrificing her life to save her new found friends, Will being found and brought back from the alternate dimension, and the evil scientist organization being destroyed by the creatures they helped bring into our world. All is well or is it? We are treated to a final scene in which Will is vomiting up strange creatures that presumably incubated within in him. Does that mean he gave birth? Who knows but it opens the door to yet another season of a very mediocre show.

 

 

 

Not Excited About the DCEU or Their Comic Con Extravaganza

The San Diego Comic Con is the annual Wood Stock, and gathering of nerds like myself across the nation  to celebrate the golden Renaissance of all that is good  in the comic book,  science fiction, and fantasy has come and gone. Most studios have come with their A game and whipped the masses into a frenzy  of excitement and wonder with their upcoming TV and movie projects.For some like Marvel studios who was visibly absent from the previous year’s event it was a way to say we’re back and in a big way (something I will talk about in another post). For others like WB/DC it was more of a desperation fest PR blitz like I mentioned in my previous article “Justice League: Dawn of The PR Blitz’ where the panel serves as a place to do some hardcore damage control and show that they are listening and please give them another chance like some desperate ex that knows they are on their way out. Did it work? That remains to be seen although I will say fans seem far more forgiving of DC/WB than they are of Marvel. WB/DC did everything they could to gin up excitement for their upcoming movies and TV. Fans were excited and there were a number of YouTubers that were in a frenzy as they watched the trailers. I on the other hand wasn’t.

In my last article I  mentioned a desperate PR blitz in which some of the harshest critics of BvS were invited to view a scene that show cased the movie’s more “light hearted” tone. Well now the fans at comic con finally got to see what the journalist saw. After watching it I can say that in a word the footage was underwhelming. The Justice league trailer wasn’t bad, I mean I didn’t want to piss all over it like I did BvS but it wasn’t really that good either. This was an obvious attempt to make sure their burgeoning superhero franchise didn’t die a crib death.

It’s obvious that Snyder watched Civil War since the flash recruitment looks like it was lifted from the spidey Tony Stark interaction. While the scene and trailer on the whole wasn’t bad it looks like a pale imitation of Civil War without the clever quips which made  what humor I saw … amusing but not really funny and kind of forced with just a dollup of desperation on the Snyder’s part.The movie  also has to devote a significant amount of time to explaining the motivations of the characters they recruit.

Its a method that sacrifices over all character development in favor of the two main ones, Batflec and WonderGadot. If they were going to blaze their own trail while appropriating from Marvel they really should have made separate movies that led the Justice League rather than the lazy short cut they took. It would have saved them the whole recruiting montage and 3-5 minutes of explaining each characters motivations. Since they didn’t set this movie up Avengers style it means either one long four hour movie to properly do whats needed with each character or a two and a half hour flick with only two main ones,  Batflec and WonderGadot as its primary focus.

Despite this issue there were some stand out parts in the Trailer. Aqua man was one of them. They justified the casting of Jason Mamoa as part of an Aqua man re-imagining by making him Polynesian as opposed to the milk toast blond haired blue eyed white guy. It was an interesting selection to say the least and one I would be on board for if not for some problems. The first is Jason Mamoa. Many people know the man as Kal Drogo from Game of Thrones and that perception has not changed much. When I saw the first pictures of him as Aqua man I my initial thought was “Oh! It’s Kal Drogo under the sea.” That’s a problem. Now with Jason Mamoa in the role Aqua Man is sure to be a baddass and from what we see Jason delivers Baddass douchery in spades. That is one of the other problems.

Jason Mamoa is really good at being a Baddass Douche bag, so much so that I feel he’s type cast. Me thinks they are trying too hard to make Aqua man cool. Now I’m all for infusing a milk toast character like Aqua Man with some ethnic flavor and I love the idea of a  pacific islander birth and origin. But why is the place he shows up in look like any other predominately white town found in Stephen Kings back yard of Maine? I spied with my little eye something that did not fit in the Aqua man scene and his name was Jason Mamoa.

If they were going to go with the multiracial theme with a re-imagined Aqua man why not go all the way? Why not have  Aqua man’s home set in Hawaii or some other tropical island where the natives worship him as a sea king or guardian deity?That would have been a very interesting way to introduce the character with a 21st century spin. So I call bullshit on a really bad and poorly thought out PR spin whose sole purpose  was to justify why they made the selection of Mamoa  for reasons other than for his role as Kal Drogo.  Rounding out the cast is Ezra Miller and um some black guy playing Cyborg.

I didn’t hate Ezra Miller’s performance as Barry Allen or rather I wasn’t moved to piss all over him in disgust like I do with TV’s Grant Gustin in the role. It’s obvious the movie is going to lean heavily on him as the comedy relief and I found him to be somewhat quirky. Miller’s performance didn’t work my nerve. The black guy playing Cyborg was just there. The CGI sucked but I understand it is early work which means the final product will be somewhat different. All in all the trailer was just there.It is obvious the Snyders are desperately trying to salvage what’s left of their careers after their work in this film is done. They are trying but the  writing on the wall that if this movie is a total flop like BvS should have been. But Zack will bounce back. He can still have a pretty lucrative career shooting music videos and porn. I’m sure his money shots will be epic. It’s sad really that after the  intense amount of screen doctoring this movie has received  at best what the viewing public will get is an  X-men Apocalypse MEH! kind of movie. I could be wrong. Time will tell.

WONDER XENA XII

The next movie up to bat is Wonder Woman Starring Gal Gadot directed by Patty Jenkins.  I have been pretty vocal in my distaste of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman which leads me to my main issue with this movie and trailer. Gal is tall, skinny, with the body of a 10 year old boy which would make her a perfect run way model since most of them don’t have much in the way of feminine curves.  However Wonder woman is supposed to be the ideal women, a feminist icon with a more realistic female physique in that she has breast and hips. As an Amazonian warrior she’s athletically built,  not petite like Gal. In short she’s built like an amazon and able get it and dish it just as well as her male counter parts. There is a reason why we have the term built like an AMAZON. It’s because it is a term we use to denote a big athletic warrior woman which again just on pure physicality Gal is not no matter how many sandwiches she eats or hits the gym. So I have issues with this one body type Hollywood continues to sell to impressionable young girls and even boys.It’s okay to have curves and swerves and  It’s okay to like like them.

In terms of acting and gravitas her main claim to fame is the fast and furious movies in which she does little more than stand around looking pretty while shaking her ass in a skimpy bathing suit. In  BvS that was pretty much all she did when she wasn’t in sexualized battle poses during her fight with Doomsday. Wonder woman though sexy is supposed to be more than a sex symbol and even when exuding sexuality there is an element of danger kind of like having a tiger as a pet.

With Wonder Woman it should be look but don’t touch or rather I’m too afraid to look at her funny let alone touch because she might run a sword through me. Gal does not have that. Other actresses that do and one of my favorite is Lucy Lawless Xena Warrior Princess. Lucy Lawless essentially with the character Xena was playing wonder woman. Gal does not have that element of dangerous beauty, of look and if you’re fool enough touch at your peril. She’s all about the hypersexualized fantasy porn version of Wonder Woman but not the actual character with the gravitas to lead and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men. In addition to that Wonder Woman is a tactician second only to batman and you can see it in how she fights and leads which also lends to the element of danger. Again see Xena for a good example of a tactical warrior. I saw none of that in what performance there was of Gal in BvS. All she gave was look at me I’m hot in this dress or look at me I’m getting hot fighting Doomsday and look at me strike a sexy pose while doing it.

Simply put there are other far better actresses with actual thespian skills (I haven’t even touched on Gal’s heavy accent or her dead pan performance) that could have brought such a nuanced character to life. Some examples outside of Lucy Lawless would be Lynn Collins. She was the princess in John Carter and Wolverine’s GF in X-men Origins Wolverine. The actress Antje Traue from MOS was another good pick. She was the female in Zod’s crew. Jamie Alexander who played lady Sif was another choice and  far better than Gal especially since she had experience playing warrior women. Charlize Theron would have made a far better choice than Gal as well.

The problem with this flick as well as their upcoming movies is Zack Snyder’s blaring lack of understanding of DC Characters, Wonder Woman in particular and cast Gal in the role in part because of her “Israeli military training and background” (so he says) and mainly because of her  perceived sex appeal which is all he sees with a character like Wonder Woman. In terms of the trailer we are treated to COLOR. Yes the movie actually has color as well as an odd greenish tint. I’m not sure if that is by design or due to early shots. Set in WWI Wonder Cap err Wonder Woman must venture into mans world together with MR Peggy, I mean Steve Trevor and stop the devastating war.

What what is shown in the Trailer the action looks decent although  with way too much  CGI with bullet time slow mo added for that extra effect. It really didn’t look authentic, not like Captain America Civil War which used a lot of wire and string choreography . I like Chris Pine in the role and think that was a good casting choice. It was nice to see the lasso and see Wonder Woman’s suit with some color. What acting scenes there are in the film Still does not convince me this is the actress right for the role. Judging from the trailer I don’t think the movie will be bad but again like Justice League I don’t think it will be particularly great

Suicide Squad

The theme of Meh! seems to be the theme of most of DC/WB’s immediately upcoming slate of movies including Suicide Squad. I’m not excited about that movie even after seeing the final trailer. As harsh a critic as I am concerning DC properties I honestly want them to do well but well in the right way. That includes not making a cynical cash grab based on iconic properties. I honestly want to feel some hype for the movie and thought maybe there was something wrong like my being so biased I was unwilling to acknowledge that maybe DC had something good. I was pleased to find out I was not alone. I read an article right before the comic con by    titled “I’m Not Excited for Suicide Squad” and I felt vindicated.

I like the idea of the movie but it would have been better served if it came out roughly 5 movies or so into the DCEU. Most of these characters save for Harley, Amanda Waller, and maybe killer Croc are unknown to the general public and maybe even comic book fans. I know I had no clue to the rest of the cast. They have gotten better with the trailers. They are not bad but I’m not moved to part with my cash over this movie. Like with Gal I have problems with Margot Robbie cast as Harley.  Margot is a far better actress than gal. I loved her performance in Wolf of Wall Street.

So as an actress I have no issues with her . She is just not right for the role and I have extreme issues with this hyper sexualized baby doll version of Harley  as little more than the hot girl friend of the joker. I’m not saying that Harley is not hot or crazy but in recent years starting with Batman Arkham City they really emphasized the sex pot aspect of Harley over the fact that she used to be a doctor, an accomplished and dangerous villain in her own right who could take down the bat and when pissed made the Joker run for cover. So no, I’m not excited about these upcoming DC/WB superhero flicks. I think they will be mediocre much like their trailers shown at the comic con which I think is sad because in the Renaissance of superhero movies and TV I think as a viewing audience we deserve better. Maybe I’ll be surprised and the upcoming Suicide Squad movie will be better than I expected. I’m not betting any money on it though.

 

 

 

 

Justice League: Dawn of the PR Blitz

This past week began an ongoing media blitz by Zack Snyder and company to turn around negative reception from BvS (Batman vs Superman). In an article published in Io9 titled “How Zack Snyder Hopes Justice League Will Save His DC Universe”   columnist Germain Lussler writes how it’s known that mistakes were made and in an unprecedented and dare I say desperate move on day 31 of it’s 111th day film shoot the Snyders invited some of the most vocal detractors of BvS to the set in London to watch filming of the new Justice League movie. The Snyders feeling contrite in a rare moment of humility acknowledge that mistakes were made with Batman V Superman and they are trying. Deborah Snyder producer, wife and nepotism beneficiary stated “The main thing we learned [on Batman v Superman] is that people don’t like to see their heroes deconstructed.”

And they only now just started to listen? Fans were saying loudly since MOS that they didn’t like what the Snyder’s were selling.If the divisive reviews weren’t clue enough then the fact that a walking tree and talking racoon out performed MOS. Now some would argue and they would be right that like a gay bottom after a 10 hr gang bang the movie had a big opening. It’s true it did but like BvS the movie blew it’s load early on and petered out around the six hundred mil mark while like a vibrator with energizer batteries “Guardians of The Galaxy” just kept going.

The idea of D list unknown characters out performing the first superhero and triple A character like Super Man is simply Blasphemous. The Warning bells should have been loud and clear but the Snyders like fox news during the 2012 election seemed to exist in a bubble of denial. For the record people don’t mind seeing heroes deconstructed, that was what “Watchmen” was. People don’t like seeing their characters acting out of character and doing things with no discernible rationale.

Appearently this movie is supposed to be about “multilateralism” and Batman’s journey to the rediscovery of his humanity and redemption as he gathers heroes to stop the upcoming threat of DarkSeid *ahem* Steppenwolf DarkSeid’s uncle. Hello!  Didn’t Snyder get the memo ? This is Batman not not murder man. Batman shouldn’t be on a journey of redemption at least not like this. The notion of batman on this supposed journey to regain his humanity makes this less of an ensemble and more of a batcentric movie. It’s obvious Zack still has that boner for the bats.

The article further goes on to say that Superman will indeed return (like we didn’t know) in the third act and how Superman’s arc in this film will be a direct result of what he went through in the last one. Snyder States “[With Batman v Superman] I wanted to get to a Superman that had a reason to be Superman. A reason to feel the way he felt about humanity.” I suppose  there is nothing like getting killed and brought back to life (not at all like Jesus Christ) to teach those difficult lessons on humanity and what it is to be a man like a little death and resurrection. We’ve all done it right? I mean  his parents and life experiences just pale in comparison to getting capped and brought back. But hey! The Snyders have learned and they are listening right?

This is apparent in the script. The articles creator and all who were invited to the shoot got a peek and saw humor. “It’s fun, it’s funny. It’s different,” said Gadot “Each and every character brings their own flavor and color to the team.” There is a scene that is a combination of quicksilver meets Tony Stark recruiting Civil wars spider man that totally isn’t Civil War that is humorous. As a matter of fact most of the humor it seems comes from the Flash. So this movie will be Marvel esque without being Marvel the Avengers without the name and the set up.So this move will be Marvel without the meticulous world build or planning.  “But they have learned and are listening” Snyder states as he proudly shows off  the new Bat mobile sporting bigger and more guns.

Will this desperate attempt to woo the harshest critics be enough to save the rectum shredding of a mess that Snyder has created? Have they truly learned anything from past mistakes?  Probably not. I personally think Snyder and the WB execs have only gained a surface level understanding and as usual learned all the wrong things like with their push for BvS R rated on the heels of Deadpool. In much the same way I think they only have a surface level understanding of what makes Marvel work so well. Will it be enough to save their franchises? Again probably not. They already blew their load by wasting two of their most iconic stories  (death of superman and batman returns) and rushing to commit themselves by spending the cash on JLA and WW before they got feedback.  I think the best they can hope for is something along the lines of X-men Apocalypse, a movie that didn’t suck, but wasn’t good and just lay there like a bored hooker. But hey! I’m sure the PR blitz will be enough to bring hopefuls and believers on board until they finally get one movie right.

Voltron Legendary Defender and Savior of My Childhood

“Voltron The Legendary Defender” was released on Netflix on June 10th 2016. Like many I am a Netflix subscriber so I knew of the existence of this Netflix series and I knew the day it dropped because Netflix said so. My response was a great big heap of apathy. I  didn’t care that Netflix was making yet another Voltron remake and quite frankly was disgusted. Voltron, the 80’s classic was a  beloved relic of my childhood that I’ve had to watch get raped time and time again by mini Zack Snyder wannabees who sought to “re-imagine” the series for a new generation. In short, time and time again I’ve been burned and cut deeply. The first cut came in 1998 with “Voltron The Third Dimension” a series done in CGI. It had promise but the premise was in a word stupid with the main villain Zarkon now serving as an liaison to the galaxy garrison to aid in the destruction of a new threat,  his son Lotor who is now the new big bad (news flash, king Zarkon was a double agent). The dialogue was stuffed with a heavy dollup of Limburger cheese in the quest to recapture the magic of the original. It failed yet  somehow managed to maintain many of the original show’s flaws and even magnify them.

The next attempt at a Voltron series revival was a show titled “Voltron Force” that aired on Nickelodeon. The best thing I can say about that show was that it had a kick ass opening theme. The show died after one season.  It seems to be a theme going on, that when studio heads try to update or  Millenialize movies and shows they tend to die a horrible death (yes Star Wars the force Awakens and Jurassic World did well but they really shouldn’t have). So it’s understandable given past experience why I’d be skeptical  of Netflix “Voltron the Legendary Defender.” But hey! The third time is the charm right? Yes! I’ll admit it took some nudging to watch this show, like say glancing over a few early reviews but this is a case where the third time is the charm and my inner child danced with glee.

The show blends old with the new and it works really well.  Despite my nostalgia for the original show it did have flaws and one of those was the emphasis on Voltron. As a kid you knew when the space pilots formed Voltron everything was over and wrapped up in a tidy, little bow. Not so in this show.The stories are far more complex than it’s predecessor giving ample focus and story development to the characters themselves. Things aren’t so simple for our heroes who unlike in the first series are not hot shot pilots and actually have to learn how to form the super robot.

Another welcome departure that I like is the characterization of women. As much as I liked the original series I had to admit Princess Alura though being one of the Voltron pilots at times was nothing more than a damsel in distress who hitched her star to the alpha male of the group. The  portrayal of women in this show (yes I said Women not woman) is done incredibly well and nuanced. There is no damsel in distress in this show and instead showcases nuanced female characters who are more than just their Va Jay Jays, while avoiding the mistakes of shows like  super girl (super girl? Why not super woman ?) who insults the audience intelligence  with silly heavy handed girl power messages and a character that seems to be nothing more than just a walking Spice Girl catch phrase. Seriously  instead of super girl the show should be called the “Vagina Diaries.”

To me Voltron’s characterization of women hearkens back to 90’s shows like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Xena The Warrior Princes” in which strong female leads were simply baddasses. The women are strong independent characters that pull their own weight and stand toe to toe with their male counter parts. The show  also pays homage to the original with scenes like Alura saying things like “activate interlock” and “dynatherms connected.” Unfortunately it was in preparation of the space castle taking off.

As an anime officiando I’m in love with this show and the creators for all they did right. One of the main things being the “just for kids” moniker I hate so much.It’s not just for kids when back in the day they had anime that was classified as ultra violent. Of course Voltron isn’t anywhere near the ultra violent days of Japanese anime but it does fall into the spectrum of shows like “Batman Beyond” “Young Justice” and even “Spectacular Spiderman” which though marketed for kids managed to pull a more diverse audience of teens, twenty somethings, and even beyond. The Netflix producers unlike the producers of the aforementioned shows seem to understand that animation is not just for kids and  success is not measured by toy sales.

Netflix does it right with ratings as the measure  (something the “Young Justice” creators should have done) instead of toy sales by appealing to both the  literal child and inner child within us. The thing that producers of those defunked showed misunderstood was that while yes, adults are the ones that buy toys for their kids they also buy adult toys (insert chuckle) for themselves.  Thanks to this show I can see plenty of Nostalgic inspired adults going out to buy a die cast metal “Voltron Legendary Defender” should Netflix together with dream works decide to release it. The show is expertly crafted to appeal to both old and the new and manages to be the savior of a piece of my childhood.