A New Who???

In The TARDIS

!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!  There was an extremely huge announcement the other day about the newest incarnation of the Doctor from Doctor Who.  Stop now if you haven’t heard/don’t want to hear about who the next Doctor will be!!!

Unless you’re the type of Doctor Who fan that avoids the series like the plague, you probably heard a major announcement on July 15, 2017.

Full disclosure:  I personally haven’t watched the last two series of Capaldi’s run as the Doctor.  The stories have been terrible in my opinion and I just lost interest.  With that being said, even I know that a new Doctor has arrived.  There has been a lot of speculation as to who would become the newest face of everybody’s favorite Time Lord.  Numerous actors and actresses were rumored to be taking over the role.  Tilda Swinton and Kris Marshall were two names that popped up more often than others.  Neither one of them was chosen, though, and fans learned on Sunday that the new Doctor would be:

memeburn-ssl-sndytsvoxozgokstuvcm.netdna-ssl.comdoctor-who-13_765x0_80-05991f2f0ea824df67547905fa983218dab541d9

Jodie Whittaker

Now, I must admit that I am not familiar with Whittaker’s work in other programs.  Her most prominent work appears to have been on Broadchurch along with another former Doctor, David Tennant.  I never watched that show, so I can’t gauge how she’ll do in her new role.

What I can say is that as is typical with every single Doctor that has ever been announced (even before the age of the internet), there is a lot of controversy surrounding the newest actor in the role.  Of course, the internet makes reactions to the announcement immediate, and in many cases, extremely nasty.  I remember quite well how people ranted that Matt Smith was too young for the role and that Peter Capaldi was too old.  The same holds true with Whittaker, but not because she’s too old or too young or too attractive or too unattractive.

It’s because she’s a woman.

In all honesty, I’m neither here nor there about the announcement. I hope that Whittaker does a good job. More importantly, I hope that the writing improves. Matt Smith was saddled down with some terrible stories near the end of his run, but I enjoyed him in the role enough to stick with the show through the bad times. Capaldi never captured me and his stories were atrocious. I quickly lost interest in the show during his first series and have only sporadically watched it since that time.

With that being said, the thing that bothers me most about the announcement of Whittaker isn’t that a woman has taken over the role, it’s that so many people lash out against those who are negative about the change.

Some of the complaints come from men.  Some of them come from women.  Many men who complain that the Doctor shouldn’t be a woman are often on the receiving end of nasty comments that call them misogynists, bigots, “broflakes,” and male chauvinists.  The reaction to women with negative opinions of the casting weren’t as harsh, but still pretty nasty.

There’s also a lot of positive reaction to the announcement.  Many men and women are happy to see a woman in the role of the Doctor.  People are saying that a gender change in the character has long been overdue.  Others say that it’s about time that a female was placed into the lead role of a science fiction franchise.  Star Trek: Voyager fans have been very vocal about the fact that their franchise had a female lead first with Kate Mulgrew’s portrayal of Captain Janeway.

1063f260-6606-11e4-871e-1b62bfda1b3c_bbc-america-doctor-who-812-death-in-heaven-

Outside of the series revival, I am not aware of any precedent set about the character changing gender.  It has only recently been mentioned with characters such as the Corsair and with Missy, who was once the male Time Lord known as the Master.  The General also regenerated into a female form.  There’s also mention of the Doctor being able to change gender in the Paul McGann short, The Night Of The Doctor, in which the eighth Doctor is told by the Sisterhood of Planet Karn that the regenerative powers of the Time Lords is enhanced on their planet, allowing one to choose what they regenerate into, including man or woman.

romana-2-lalla-ward-baker-costume-570x349Romana

In the classic series, females from Gallifrey were referred to as Time Ladies.  Romana was prominently featured in the show and was portrayed by Lala Ward and Mary Tamm.  Another Time Lady, the sinister (but oh, so wonderful) Rani, portrayed by Kate O’Mara, never regenerated on the show, but showed no inkling of becoming a male that I’m aware of.  There were a few other Time Ladies that popped up in episodes as well, but no hints were made about their gender in past regenerations.

The_Rani_05

Here lies the problem.

While many people have no issues with Whittaker taking over the role of the Doctor (including myself), especially since the revival of the series has made the gender changing regeneration canon, I do see the point that many people, men and women, are making about why the Doctor should remain male. Yes, I’m pretty sure that there are a bunch of broflakes out there who simply can’t stand seeing a woman in the role, but I also believe that many men and women are standing behind the basis of Time Lords and Time Ladies that was established during the classic series.

maxresdefault

It seems that many people are too caught up in the man versus woman scenario and do not want to listen to legitimate reasons from some fans for keeping the Doctor male.  I would really love to see these people take a step back and simply listen to the reasons that some are against the gender change.  I hated John Simm as the Master, but I got over it.  I hated Michelle Gomez in the role as well (what little I saw of her).  He was too hyper and psychotic.  She was annoying.   Does that make me a misogynist?  No, it just means that I didn’t like either actor in the role and/or the way the character was written.

It’s true that we haven’t seen Whittaker in action in the role yet, and after an episode or two, many opinions will change.  Some men might like her more than they did when she was announced.  Some women who loved the announcement will be screaming for a change.  Basically what I am saying is that it’s okay to love the new Doctor and it’s okay to dislike the new Doctor.  If you dislike the change because you can’t stand a woman in a prominent role then I really can’t defend you.  However, if you dislike the change due to the precedent established in the classic series, I fully support your opinion.

Don’t let people push you around.  If they bring up other gender swaps in characters, remind them that the character of the Doctor hasn’t been rewritten.  The character has regenerated.  One popular argument is that of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.  While the character was male (portrayed by Dirk Benedict) in the original series, the reimagined series made the character female (portrayed by Katee Sackhoff).  The problem with this argument is that the new series didn’t pick up where the original left off.  It was basically a reboot of the old series with different actors in the classic roles.  Yes, the gender changed (as it did for other characters in the show), but Benedict’s character didn’t morph into Sackhoff’s character.  They are essentially two different characters in different timelines.  Fans of the classic BSG might not have liked the gender change, but they had the option to look at the new Starbuck as a different character engaging in different stories.  Fans of the new version of the character could simply ignore the classic series.

With the Doctor, however, the character regenerates into a wholly new being that carries with it the baggage of its past lives.  Each time the character regenerates, the dynamic changes but the history is still there.  Add to that the fact that the first two showrunners for the revived Doctor Who, Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, added a little romance and/or flirtation between the Doctor and some of his companions, and you really have a changed dynamic.  Will the new Doctor fall for male companions?  Female companions?  Alien companions?  Will the new Doctor be stand offish with new companions?  “Who” knows?!?!?

Oh, and that whole argument where Tom Baker made a joke about wishing his successor in the role good luck no matter who he or she is doesn’t fly because it’s his opinion, and not canon.  As much as I enjoyed Tom Baker in the role, he definitely cannot change canon at will.

dr_who_destiny_of_the_daleks

article-0-0072959400000258-407_468x366

Imagine Whittaker’s Doctor interacting with Tegan and Turlough.   Would Tegan be as snappy with a female Doctor as she was with Peter Davison’s Doctor?  Would Turlough decide not to kill the Doctor because he grows to admire her as a protector of the innocent as he did with No. 5 or does he decide not to kill her because he is attracted to her or possibly believes that she doesn’t deserve to be the leader of their traveling party because she’s a woman (I can totally see Turlough being threatened by the fact that a woman is in charge)?  The dynamics can and probably will get crazy, and I have to admit that I’m pretty excited to see what direction this new regeneration will take the character and the series as a whole.

In conclusion, I welcome Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor.  I can’t wait to see where the show goes from this point.  New showrunner Chris Chibnall definitely has a mess to clean up with Moffat’s work in my opinion.

Here’s to better stories and a good run as the Doctor for Whittaker.  Let’s play nice, folks, and hear out all opinions before we judge people for disliking a change.  Remember that change is always difficult, and we need to be understanding with each other.

As always, thanks for reading.  Let me know what you think about the new Doctor in the comments section.

 

 

 

Swinging Into The MCU

Spinning A Web

When it was first announced that Sony and Marvel had come to an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, geeks like myself rejoiced.  I personally enjoyed both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as everyone’s favorite wall crawler, but Sony flubbed Maguire’s run with a terrible third film (ya know, the one with Eric Foreman as Venom) and couldn’t piece together a story interesting enough to win over audiences for Garfield (despite Spidey’s awesome Rogues Gallery).

If anybody could right the radioactive arachnid ship, it had to be Marvel, right???

Yes and no.

Before anybody goes into fits, understand that I really did enjoy Spider-Man:  Homecoming, but something was missing and I just can’t put my finger on it.  Let’s look at what I liked about the film first and then try to pick apart the more problematic areas.

Just FYI, there be spoilers ahead!!!!!  Stop reading NOW if you haven’t seen the film!

cdn.expansion.mx.jpg

The Cast

Casting directors are three for three when it comes to putting a new face into the Web-slinger’s suit.  When I first heard that Tobey Maguire was going to be Spider-Man, I shuddered.  He wasn’t very impressive in anything else that I saw him in, but I was wrong about him as Spider-Man.  Maguire did a great job.  Garfield impressed me even more, adding a little more attitude to his version of Peter Parker.

Tom Holland was brilliant.  He portrayed Spidey as a hero desperate to fit in with the big league talent like Iron Man and Captain America.  His awkward and humorous attempts at heroism early in the film won me over.  His constant harassment of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in order to get called up by Iron Man was believable and funny.  I really enjoyed his attempt at using his suit’s “interrogation mode” to shake down Aaron Davis (Donald Glover).

On the flip side, Holland portrayed Peter Parker to perfection.  Peter was your typical nerdy kid in love with the popular, older senior.  His awkward attempts at fitting in with her and her friends and the way that he looked at her for just a little too long brought back plenty of terrible memories for myself and plenty of other audiences members, I’m sure.

spider-man-homecoming-movie-trailer-images-marvel21

Jacob Batalon was hilarious as Ned, Peter’s sidekick and Spidey’s eventual “man in the chair.”  His reaction to finding out that Peter was Spider-man was great.  Had I been put in the same situation, I’m sure I would have been just as excited and eager to help as Ned was in the film.

Robert Downey, Jr. basically walked through his now well-worn Iron Man shoes in this film.  Thankfully he didn’t overshadow Holland or any of the rest of the cast.  He was mainly there as a mentor.  I hope Marvel keeps it that way.  Chris Evans had a couple of cameos as Cap.  They were some of my favorite parts of the film.

Marisa Tomei (hot Aunt May), Laura Harrier (Liz, Pete’s crush), the aforementioned Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine (Herman Schultz, Shocker), and most of the rest of the cast were excellent, but there were a couple of misfires that I’ll get to later.  Oh, and how can I forget to mention the hilarious Martin Starr, who portrayed Mr. Harrington, Peter’s Decathlon coach.  You might remember him from Freaks and Geeks.

Marisa-Tomei-photo-by-Chuck-Zlotnick.jpg

The real stand out in this film, at least in my opinion, is Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture.  Keaton is no stranger to comic book films (Batman, anyone?), but his portrayal of the Vulture was one of the best I’ve seen as a Marvel Cinematic Universe villain.  I actually felt a little sorry for the guy.  I totally saw where he was coming from in the film and as a father myself, completely understand why he kept a piece of the Chitauri pie for himself.  He was protecting and providing for his family.  He was using criminal methods to do so, but I honestly believe that his heart was in the right place.

Keaton’s “dad talk” scene with Holland was my favorite part of the film.  It took the “meeting the dad for the first time” moment and made it even more uncomfortable and lethal.

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton stars in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING.

The Plot

Fitting in is something that we all go through at some point in our lives.  It’s an extremely basic thing but we can all connect with it on some level.  Peter sees taking down the Vulture as his ticket to an all expenses paid trip to the Avengers squad.  He also sees being a part of the decathlon team as way of fitting in at school at getting to be around his crush.  He makes poor choices with both and suffers the consequences, but manages to come out ahead in the end.  Peter learned that being the popular kid like Thor or Hulk isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world.  He also learned that getting a date with the girl he really likes can be just as much of a daunting task as taking down a super villain.

The Action

There was plenty of action in Spider-Man:  Homecoming.  Peter faces off against two versions of Shocker at different times in the film (and to different degrees of success).  He also has an epic action sequence that takes place at the Washington Monument.  His first encounter with Vulture takes place on the Staten Island Ferry in a sequence that mimics a similar encounter from Spider-Man 2 where Maguire’s Spidey faces off against Doctor Octopus (the brilliant Alfred Molina) on a train.  The big battle between Spidey and Vulture takes place above New York City and is quite the spectacle.

spider-man-homecoming-vulture-1024x576

The Humor

Spider-Man:  Homecoming is funny.  It’s really funny.  There’s more humor packed into its run time than both Guardians of the Galaxy films combined.  The laughs don’t become tiring or cheap as they did in the second GOTG, either.  They are consistent, believable, and memorable.  They rely on Peter/Spidey’s awkwardness and need to belong to deliver, and they work almost perfectly every time.

And Now For The Complaints

I’m sure that many of my complaints will be seen as petty, but they bothered me nonetheless.  Here goes.

The Cast

Flash Thompson, where art thou?  Flash Thompson is Peter’s big bad in high school.  He’s one of the best bullies to ever grace the printed page and received two fine portrayals on the big screen via Joe Manganiello (the Maguire films) and Chris Zylka (the Garfield flicks).  In this go round, Flash is portrayed as a snarky rich kid who can’t get over the fact that people like Peter more than him (at least on the decathlon team).  He’s smarter than old school Flash (he’s on the DECATHLON team, not the FOOTBALL team).  He verbally abuses Peter more than anything and loves to flaunt his wealth.  The character is portrayed by Tony Revolori in Homecoming, and his verbal abuse and more intelligent ways are supposedly based on the more modern style of bullying that kids go through today.  Really?  I have a teenager and last time I checked, kids are still getting beat up at school.  This straying from type for the character bothered me.  I would have much preferred that Flash stay more like the traditional Flash.  His style of bullying is timeless, like it or not.

spider-man-homecoming-flash-thompson-header-2.jpg

Also, I have absolutely zero problems with Zendaya.  In fact, I think she’s a pretty cool actress/singer.  I enjoyed her on Shake It Up and have listened to her music with my daughter.  Heck, I once stood in a line full of ten to twelve year old girls to get her autograph for my daughter (who wasn’t with me at the time).  Here’s the proof:

zendaya

However, she was entirely miscast in this film.  Her character, Michelle Jones, who we later learn goes by MJ (sheesh), would throw a rod into the spokes of the film almost every time that she popped up on the screen.  The character was completely unnecessary.

The Action

Yes, I mentioned the action as a pro earlier, but it was definitely a con as well.  As wonderful as the climactic battle over the skies of the city could have been between Spidey and Vulture, it just fell flat in my opinion.  Why?  Because you couldn’t see what the heck was going on.  The scenes were shot at close range, blurry, and went by faster than you can say, “Can the real Flash Thompson please stand up?”

The best action sequence in my opinion was the Washington Monument elevator rescue.  You could see what was happening, humor was injected into the scene, and feelings of peril manifested easily.

Plus, Spidey bulging out his muscles in an attempt to hold the Staten Island Ferry together looked eerily similar to this:

revenue-managerspider-man-homecoming-webbing-ferry

See what I mean?

The Music (Or Lack Thereof)

Michael Giacchino helmed the score of Spider-Man:  Homecoming.  He also scored the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films, Jurassic WorldThe IncrediblesRogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Doctor Strange as well as many more successful films.  He does a very good job of blending themes from previous composers into his own work.  He did it with the Star Trek theme from the original series and from the first films/The Next Generation and the work of John Williams from both Star Wars and Jurassic Park.  He included the old Spider-Man theme in Homecoming, but after the initial introduction of that theme, the music takes a backseat to the rest of the film.

On films that Giacchino doesn’t have an existing theme to base his score on, he falls back on the same rhythms, beats, and tones.  I’m no musician, but I can recognize repetitive sequences in music.  Just listen to the soundtracks for Abrams’ Star Trek films and the Doctor Strange film.  You’ll hear many of the same sequences in both.

Plus, Giacchino also sucks the emotion out of great themes.  The music was severely lacking in both Jurassic World and Rogue One.

Music helps build characters, emotion, and tension.  It is a character in its own right in films in my opinion.  The music doesn’t do that in Homecoming.  It’s just sort of there.  The biggest pop received from me was at the end of the film whenever The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop was played.

In Summary

So, despite some of the casting choices, action sequences, and the music, Spider-Man Homecoming is a pretty cool film.  It’s funny, catches the vibe of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and hinted at a few other baddies including the Tinkerer, Prowler, and Shocker (who I hope gets more screen time in another film).  It had one of the best villains since Loki, and managed to take place inside of the Avengers timeline without necessarily being a part of it.

Oh, and I loved this costume:

Spider-Man-Homecoming-Trailer-71-1024x419

So I do recommend that you check out Spider-Man:  Homecoming, but don’t get too caught up in the hype surrounding the film and Marvel’s involvement.  There are better Marvel films out there.  Heck, there are even better Sony films out there (Spider-Man 2).  HC is fun and you won’t regret watching it in the theater.

As always, thanks for reading.  See ya next time!

 

Ahhhh! The Wonder Of It All!

Themyscira….London….And Then The Front

Book-ended by two highly anticipated Marvel films, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Spider-Man:  Homecoming, the arguably more anticipated DCEU film, Wonder Woman, had a ton of weight on its shoulders.  The film was preceded by the lukewarm Man of Steel, the record-breaking (but fan dividing) Batman Vs. Superman:  Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, which left many fans praying that Wonder Woman could save a supposedly sinking ship.  (For what it’s worth, I thought that all three of the previous DC films were good, with only Man of Steel being somewhat of a disappointment.  I have reviews for all three of these films on this blog.  Feel free to peruse them later.)

Of course, there were plenty of naysayers about DC’s resident Amazonian warrior.  Many of them were Marvel fanboys that were blinded by the success of their own favorite film franchise.  Some of them were chauvinists who thought that no super heroine-fronted film could make it without a male hero to step in to save the day.  There were also plenty of DC fans who had given up hope that Detective Comics knew what they were doing when it came to films and decided to watch Flashpoint Paradox yet again (which is actually an awesome animated film, by the way).

Thankfully they were ALL WRONG!

WONDER-WOMAN-2017

Wonder Woman hit the big screen to huge audiences.  Unlike BvS and Suicide Squad, which saw big drop offs in ticket sales after their opening weekends, Wonder Woman maintained solid and impressive numbers.  GOTG had been in theaters for roughly one month prior to Wonder Woman’s release, and the only potential threats to her position atop the box office came in the form of a mediocre Pirates of the Caribbean sequel (released May 26)and an even more lackluster The Mummy reboot (released June 9).

Spoilers Ahead!  Stop Reading Now If You Haven’t Seen The Film!!

The film opens with Wonder Woman as a child growing up in Themyscira.  She longed to join her Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) in training for battle, but her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) denied her.  Secretly, however, Diana joins Antiope for private sessions.  Eventually the duo are found out, but Hippolyta allows Diana to continue training.

intro-1496857739

During this time in the film, we also learn the story of the “God killer,” which is supposedly a sword that can destroy Ares, the god of war, if and when he returns to send man into an unending time of war.  Obviously he’s going to be returning soon, and Antiope believes that Diana needs to be battle ready and eventually learn her true fate.

Then a US spy literally crash lands in Themyscira, bringing with him a bunch of very angry German forces that are trying to kill him.  Diana finds the spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and the pair end up fighting alongside the rest of the Amazonian warriors as they subdue the Germans…..but not without casualties.

Antiope is killed during the battle, as are many more of the Amazons.  Hippolyta is convinced that Steve Trevor is one of the causes of the attack, but Diana defends him.  We then get to see the Lasso of Truth for the first time.  With it, the Amazons learn of a great war (WWI) that is going on outside of the protected walls of their homeland.  Diana is convinced that the war is the work of Ares, and determines to find him and destroy him.  Hippolyta doesn’t want her to go but eventually gives in to Diana’s request.

Wonder-Woman-meeting-secretary

Diana and Steve Trevor take off for London, where he introduces Diana to Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), his secretary, and a room full of men, primarily politicians and generals, who can’t wrap their minds around the fact that a woman wants to help them and, gasp, wants to go to the front line in order to take out the enemy.  Seeing the way that Diana interacts with Etta Candy and the politicians/military men gave us a humorous look at a woman’s place in that time period.  Diana empowered Etta and wasn’t taken seriously by the men, but she would soon prove her worth on the battlefield.

Like I said previously, the men didn’t take Diana seriously and, as a result, refused to help her and Trevor get to the front.  Trevor takes matters into his own hands by gathering up a ragtag group of men who agree to help him and Diana.  At the last minute, another ally, Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), shows up with money to fund their adventure.

David-Thewlis-in-Wonder-Woman-2017-672x372

Diana believes that Ares has disguised himself as General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and that if she can kill him with the God Killer, the warring ways of mankind will come to an end.  Trevor’s group, which includes French Moroccan agent Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), sniper Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and smuggler Chief Napi (Eugene Brave Rock), set off with Diana and find themselves pinned down by the Germans in No Man’s Land (a brilliant play on the fact that a woman would be leading the way).  Trevor tells Diana that they cannot save the people in No Man’s Land because it is too dangerous.  He tells her that the best way to help them is to continue on their journey to the front.

wonderwoman-1280-9amembargo-1488818748850_1280w

Unlike Superman in Man of Steel, where Henry Cavill did a lot of sulking and wondering if he should use his powers to help mankind, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman goes against her human counterparts when they tell her that she can’t save everyone.  She climbs out of the trench and walks directly toward the German lines.  It’s one of the most epic moments in the film.  Her courageous example convinces the rest of the soldiers to help her, and they save No Man’s Land.

That moment sets Wonder Woman apart from the other films in the DCEU.  She knows her role immediately and doesn’t hesitate to help those in need.  Two movies into the DCEU and Superman is still struggling to find his place in this world (and might be dead…..yeah, right).  Batman is old and angry and quickly losing faith in humanity.  Wonder Woman, however, knows that she must help, no matter the odds.

wonder-woman-trailer-15

As the film moves on, a plot by Ludendorff is uncovered that includes using poisonous gas to kill the Allied powers in the Great War.  The gas is created by the sinister Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), who loves to test her gases on human subjects.

wonder-woman-doctor-poison-bane-batman-1000552

This ultimately leads up to a confrontation with Ludendorff, and Diana easily kills him despite his use of a drug provided by Doctor Poison that gives him super strength and a bit of roid rage as well.  After Ludendorff’s death, however, war rages on.  It confuses and hurts Diana.  She can’t understand why mankind keeps on killing and fighting for no real reason.

Steve Trevor attempts to explain to Diana that the world is full of evil people and that all  she can really do is continue her fight no matter what sacrifices have to be made.  It is at this point that the true Ares is revealed (and I’m not going to name him), and Diana goes into a battle of strength and wits with the god of war.  Ares tries to convince her to join him and run rampant on humanity, but he fails in his quest.  An epic battle ensues and a major sacrifice is made that gives Wonder Woman all of the fuel she needs to end the war with Ares.

You’ll have to watch the film in order to find out what else happened.

What blew me away about this film is how human and grounded it is.  It shows the horrors of war, especially in the scenes that take place in Veld, like no other superhero film has ever done.  Most comic films gloss over the tragedy and loss of war.  Captain America:  The First Avenger did this.  It was still a very good film, but at no point did the viewer really get a good look at how horrible war can be.  This has continued throughout the Marvel films and only managed to become somewhat grounded with Captain America:  Civil War, where lip service is paid to the major losses of life due to the two Avengers films.  Wonder Woman could easily be a period war film, but with a superhero involved.

The cast was superb.  Gal Gadot carried the film as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, and Chris Pine stood by her side as a reliable friend.  There was some romantic tension between the pair, but it was dealt with through the use of humor and sensitivity.  David Thewlis and Danny Huston were excellent in their respective roles, as were all of the members of Trevor’s gang.

The female cast, particularly Robin Wright and Lucy Davis, were brilliant.  Wright was fierce and convincing as Antiope.  Connie Nielsen was also solid in her role, as were all of the ladies portraying Amazons in the film.  A special shout out goes to Anne Wolfe, a professional and very successful female boxer, who portrayed Artemis in the film.  She grew up in my hometown.

Davis gave us a look at a woman who spent most of her life in the shadow of the men she served.  As the film progresses, however, Davis is given more responsibility and her confidence blooms.  I hope that we get to see her again (possibly in flashbacks or in a visit from the Flash in the upcoming JLA film).

The music was wonderful.  Rupert Gregson-Williams weaves the score through the film and rides the emotional highs and lows of each scene.  Included in many of the film’s tracks is the brutal electric cello solo work of Tina Guo.  When the cello plays, you know somebody is about to get hurt.

wonder-2.jpg

So, does Wonder Woman hold up against any of the Marvel films?  You betcha.  In fact, it easily bests the bulk of Marvel’s offerings with only Captain America:  The Winter Soldier giving it a run for its money.  It’s definitely the best DCEU film on the market, and hopefully DC’s winning ways will continue with the upcoming Justice League film.

Wonder Woman has proven that DC can make a film that stays true to its comic roots and give fans a story that can be enjoyed by comic book readers and the general public.  I believe that the previous films (let’s just forget about Green Lantern) tried too hard to appease comic fans and the general public suffered as a result.  Marvel has a solid formula of spoon-feeding stories to non-comic readers that makes their films easier to digest, but maintain enough of a balance to keep comic readers happy.

Wonder Woman was great, and here’s hoping that Justice League will be just as wonderful.  As always, thanks for reading.  See you again, soon!

Justice-League-movie-cast.jpg

 

 

 

 

Daredevil

Hell’s Kitchen, New York

Yes, I know.  I’m way behind on this topic, but the fact of the matter is that I only recently subscribed to Netflix.  Life has a way of preventing us from doing things that we really want to do, so I had to wait a bit before taking the Netflix dive.

Oh, and since it’s been out for a couple of years now, just know that spoilers are ahead.

While Marvel has definitely figured out the formula for cranking out hit films, their foray into television is more hit and miss.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while entertaining, has consistently lost viewership over its four (soon to be five) seasons.  I quit watching the show regularly about two thirds of the way in on season one, and the few episodes that I’ve managed to watch since that time haven’t impressed me at all.  Agent Carter only managed to last for two seasons before it finally gave up the ghost.

Daredevil-Smiling-03192016-e1458404080678

Despite Marvel’s mediocre foray into network television, I figured that having fewer restraints on their Netflix programming might actually work in their favor.  In my opinion, it did.  Daredevil has turned out to be a much grittier, more realistic look into some of Marvel’s “B Squad” heroes.

Growing up, I was first introduced to Daredevil in 1979’s The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Issue 190, Something Evil This Way Comes.  I still own a copy of the issue (although it’s in bad shape).  I loved how a blind hero was working the streets with just as much success as big league heroes like Captain America.  In fact, I’ve always seen Daredevil as an A-lister in the Marvel universe.

46273a_lg

The Netflix series begins with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his best friend, Foggy Nelson (the highly underrated Elden Henson) opening up their own law firm with zero clients, zero prospects, and zero money.  Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) becomes their first real client and they hire her on as an office assistant in order to pay for their services.

daredevil-matt-karen-foggy

This trio is really the heart of the series.  Henson provides some much needed comic relief (this series is darker in a vein similar to DC’s cinematic universe) but is also a brilliant lawyer who gains confidence with each case and social interaction.  He’s not just a bumbling sidekick, but a man loves his work.  Without Foggy to keep him grounded, Matt Murdock would probably lose control of himself.

screen-shot-2015-04-27-at-11-07-04-am-133579-640x320.png

Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page is a much more mysterious character.  Early on in the series it is hinted that she’s hiding something from Matt and Foggy.  She often goes out looking for information despite the wishes of her lawyer friends.  This means she gets into trouble once in awhile but she somehow manages to make it out of every bad situation with just a few scratches.  A romance develops between her and Matt that I really enjoyed, but it gets derailed by a character introduced in season two that I’ll get to later.

daredevil-season-2-romance-for-matt-karen-s-mysterious-past-enigmatic-hero-or-secret-v-590377-2

Charlie Cox does an excellent job as Matt Murdock/Daredevil.  He gets his tail handed to him regularly.  He bleeds, gets bruises and cuts, almost dies a few times, and often relies on others to help him out in certain situations.  It’s these things about the character that I love.  He makes mistakes (in the real world and superhero land) and suffers the consequences for them.  His relationships grow strong, unravel, or are reduced to a level of toleration.  In many cases, especially when it comes to the law firm, he plays second fiddle to other characters.

Charlie-Cox-as-Matt-Murdock-in-DaredevilCharlie-Cox-Daredevil-600x340

As the series played out, our first real look at a villain comes in the form of James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore).  He is the go between for the true villain of season one and said villain’s associates, which happen to be numerous gangs throughout New York.  Wesley made an immediate impact with me, and I couldn’t wait to see him turn up in each episode.  He was cold, calculating, and never flinched when dealing with characters like Leland Owlsley (the brilliant Bob Gunton) and the secretive and sinister Madame Gao (portrayed by Wai Ching Ho).  Madame Gao happens to be one of my favorite characters on the show as well.

wesleydaredevil

Wesley is also our introduction to the many solid supporting cast members that keep Daredevil interesting.  Leland and Madame Gao were excellent, as were characters like Nobu (Peter Shinkoda), Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall), Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), and Claire (portrayed by the lovely and wonderful Rosario Dawson).  There are other characters that move in and out of the narrative, and they are just as wonderful as the recurring members of the cast, especially Scott Glenn as Stick, Matt’s mentor.

daredevil-e7-stick-podcast-recap-e1428859268320.png

Kingpin-Daredevil-030215-970x545

Of course, every superhero needs an arch enemy, and Vincent D’Onofrio knocked it out of the park as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin.  Despite not making a physical appearance until a few episodes in, Wilson Fisk’s shadow loomed large over the entire Daredevil story.  Someone was manipulating criminals, police, politicians, lawyers, and just about everyone else in Hell’s Kitchen, but no one would mention his name.  All we knew was that when his representative, James Wesley, showed up, things were about to be shaken up.

D’Onofrio brought heart to the character and for just a few minutes, I sort of felt bad for the guy.  When we finally see him unleash his full fury on one of the Russian gang leaders, though, there’s no doubt about how cruel and powerful Fisk can be.  His childhood haunts him, and he puts himself on a mission to “clean up” Hell’s Kitchen.  Simply put, D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is the most interesting villain ever cranked out by Marvel on the small screen and he’s second only to Loki in the MCU.

Daredevil-Season-2-daredevil-netflix-39403152-1920-1080

Season Two of Daredevil brings with it new dangers and new characters.  One new character, The Punisher, declares war on the gangs of Hell’s Kitchen.  He brutally murders any and every criminal that gets in his way.  He’s referred to as a one man army on many occasions (and rightfully so), and he initially gives Daredevil (and Nelson and Murdock) a lot of headaches.

netflix_daredevil_the_punisher_trench_coat-1

The Punisher/Frank Castle is portrayed by Jon Bernthal.  Being a huge fan of The Walking Dead and having met Bernthal in person, I expected quite a bit from him in this role.  He didn’t disappoint.  In fact, Castle’s story is the highlight of the second season.  The bond he forms with Karen works perfectly, and his uneasy truce and clashing vision of justice with Daredevil moves the story along at an excellent clip.  Heck, his interaction with Kingpin in prison is wonderful as well.

The only miscue in the second season, at least in my opinion, is the addition of Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung).  Listen, I have absolutely nothing against Elodie Yung.  I honestly believe that she played Elektra to the best of her abilities.  However, I feel like the character was sort of dumped on the series because the writers felt that they needed her to shake up the show.  She wasn’t needed.  The Punisher, the Blacksmith, Kingpin, Madame Gao, Stick, and Nobu were very capable of stirring the pot.  I really wish that they would have held off on introducing Elektra in either season three of Daredevil or in The Defenders.

daredevil elektra netflix

Elektra’s story was too rushed and unnecessary.  There were enough stories needing to be told in season two already.  But, the past cannot be changed and the character has arrived.  Hopefully the writers will do better with the character in future installments.

I really enjoyed watching Daredevil.  While the MCU dances around in technicolored madness and minimal bloodletting that earns a soft PG-13 rating, Daredevil is in the trenches getting bloodied, banged up, and scraped off of the cement.  It’s funny that so many people complain about how dark the DCEU films are but seem to love Daredevil for being almost as dark.  I hope that Netflix and Marvel continue to use their lesser known characters in this fashion.  It will open up people to a whole new (to them) batch of characters that are just as interesting as the likes of Spider-Man and Thor.

Next up on my Netflix Catch Up Marathon is Jessica Jones.  I’m three episodes in and, as of right now, I’m not that impressed.  Krysten Ritter hasn’t had a lot to work with story wise so far, and I’ve found myself wanting to seek out different entertainment choices.  Hopefully things will pick up now that Kilgrave (David Tennant) is finally showing his face.  I hope that Tennant chews this show all to pieces.

Jessica-Jones-1-1200x674.jpg

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll be giving my review of Jessica Jones soon enough.  From there I’ll hit Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  By the time I’m done with them, The Defenders should be almost available.

 

The Gang’s All Here

The Funny End Of The MCU Spectrum

While everyone seems to be caught up in all of the wonder that is the upcoming Wonder Woman film (I can’t wait to see it myself!), I’m still over here in Louisiana trying to play catch up with everything form Netflix to the MCU.  Marvel’s latest entry on the big screen, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, was highly anticipated and rightfully so.

Marvel has released a seemingly unstoppable string of successful films that range from great (Captain America:  The Winter Soldier) to middling (Thor) to downright terrible (Iron Man 3).  Phase Two of the MCU introduced stand alone films for characters that aren’t as familiar outside of comic book pages with names like Ant-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-movie-image

The first Guardians film was a hit.  It was full of humor, action, and featured a likeable cast.  As with almost every other MCU film, though, it featured a rather dull villain (Ronan) and despite being extremely cool and fun to watch, it didn’t have much depth to it in the long run.

GOTG, Vol. 2 makes up for the villain this time around, but comes across as being even more shallow than its predecessor.

!!!!!STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN GOTG, VOL.  2.  THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol.-2-pic-20

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2017

The film reunites Chris Pratt (Star Lord) and company for another galaxy saving adventure.  The Guardians are hired by the Sovereign race and their leader, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), to stop a creature that is trying to take batteries (the very powerful, very valuable variety of batteries) from their supply.  After successfully taking out the creature, they receive payment in the form of Nebula (Karen Gillan).  Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) liberates some of the batteries for himself as well, and when the Sovereign find out, they send out an attack force of drones to stop the Guardians.

GOTG-Vol-2-Kurt-Russell-Chris-Pratt

Luckily for the Guardians, Ego (Kurt Russell) shows up and wipes out all of the drones (but not before the Sovereign do some heavy damage to the Milano).  He then takes Star Lord, Drax (Dave Bautista), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to his home planet (which happens to be HIM) in order to show his son what he’s been missing over the years.  Along for the ride is Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an empath who helps Ego sleep at night because of the difficulties of being a powerful Celestial.   Rocket and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) stay with the ship to repair it and keep an eye on Nebula.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol.-2-pic-26

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 L to R: Rocket (Voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Voiced by Vin Diesel) Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2017

Rocket and Groot run into problems with a group of ravagers lead by Yondu (Michael Rooker), who has been hired by Ayesha to capture the Guardians.  After successfully capturing Rocket and Groot, Yondu’s men turn on him when he decides to look the other way when Star Lord is brought up.  This leads to mutiny, and Yondu finds himself imprisoned with Groot.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-2-hi-res-screenshots-7

Nebula sets out to find Gamora and have her revenge, but they find the bodies of Ego’s other children that he hoped to combine powers with in order to trigger his “seedlings” that he planted in his travels that would literally take over other worlds and spread his singularity across the galaxy.  None of these children had the power of the Celestials like Star Lord and were terminated by Ego.

This is where Yondu really comes into play in the story.  Michael Rooker chewed up the scenery in the first GOTG film, and does even more of that this time around.  It’s revealed during the movie that Ego hired Yondu to collect and bring the children to Ego’s planet.  When Yondu finds out that Ego murders the children whenever they don’t stack up to his expectations, he takes the child he currently has in tow, Peter Quill, and protects him from the slaughtering Ego.  When other Ravagers find out that Yondu has been trafficking children (a big no-no), he and his men are shunned.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-2-hi-res-screenshots-5

Mantis, who has become fast friends with Drax, reveals Ego’s plan to him.  They join up with Gamora, Nebula, Yondu, Rocket, and Groot in order to convince Star Lord that what Ego is doing is evil and they prevent the duo from joining forces to completely take over the galaxy.  This angers Ego, and he attacks the group as a planet and Star Lord as the human Ego.

An epic battle ensues that includes multiple 80’s references, Baby Groot detonating a bomb that destroys a planet,  and Star Lord realizes that while Ego might be his father, Yondu is truly his daddy.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-2-baby-groot-1080P-wallpaper

Of course, no epic battle occurs without sacrifices, and Yondu gives his own life in order to save Star Lord.  I have a major problem with this moment in the film, but I’ll address that later.  Once Ego is destroyed and balance is restored to the galaxy, a funeral is held for Yondu.  During the funeral, the Ravagers that shunned him and his men earlier show up and give him a proper send off.  They realize that Yondu is much more honorable than they ever believed him to be.

Then the credits roll.  We see a teen-aged Groot doing teen-aged things, there’s dancing in the credits, Sly Stallone (who portrays Ravager Stakar in the film) joins up with some old pals, and we see a cocoon holding Ayesha’s newest weapon against the Guardians.  She calls it “Adam,” which is an obvious reference to Adam Warlock.  Hopefully we’ll see him in the already announced Volume 3.

Issues

Sure, the film was fun to watch, but it seemed like director/writer James Gunn didn’t really know what to do with most of the characters this time around.  Drax, while still a powerful warrior, was basically reduced to comic relief.  Everything that he did in the film was used for laughs.  The same could be said for Rocket and Groot.  Gamora was still  fighting her sister (and Karen Gillan definitely improved her performance this time around), but other than the pair deciding to join up together to help fight Ego, there was no real character development.  Heck, even Star Lord remained basically the same.

The only character that had any real development was Yondu, and he was killed off in the final minutes of the movie, which brings me to my biggest gripe about this film:

Why did Yondu have to die?????

Peter Quill was fresh from a fight with his Celestial father who just showed him how to use his powers.  Quill literally created a giant Pac-Man out of nothing to battle Ego, yet he couldn’t scrounge up enough juice to make a space suit for his “daddy” to slip on until the rest of the Guardians caught up to them????  You could argue that he was tired from the battle, but he could have at least whipped up a breathing mask for Yondu.

In Summary

Like I said, the film was very enjoyable to watch, but it’s basically more of the same from the first film but with a better villain (Kurt Russell was born to play a character named Ego).  It’s definitely not one of my favorite MCU flicks, but it’s still better than Captain America:  Civil War and Avengers:  Age of Ultron.  The special effects were excellent and the fight sequences were pretty cool overall.

I’ll buy it on Blu-ray when it hits the shelves like I always do and watch it for the laughs, but this film could have been much better.

As always, thanks for reading.  I know that a few people probably disagree with me about this film, so let me know why you disagree with me in the comments.

 

Because I Want To!

Somewhere in space, the final frontier….

As most of you know, life has been kicking me around a lot lately.  Star Trek is one of the few things that has been able to make me smile recently.  With that in mind, here’s a few photos of some of the many strong, intelligent, lovely, and fun ladies of Star Trek.

Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

May Update

Lake Charles, LA

2017 has kicked my tail.  I’ve missed every single convention that I hoped to attend so far and will not make it to Southern Geek Fest, either.  Why?  I’ve been really busy with work, family duties (which I’m not complaining about), and life in general.  Money is also tight as well.  With that said, I wanted to give another push for Southern Geek Fest.

SGF has a great lineup this year, and I’m really disappointed that I won’t be making the trip east to hang with my biggest and favorite geek family.  I know that I talk about this group more than most, but they really are that great.  If you can make it to Hattiesburg, MS at the end of this month, do so, you will not regret it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The slideshow above is only a small sampling of the wonderful guests that will be present at SGF.  Celebrities from Clerks, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and comic artists will be on hand, as well as authors, pro wrestlers, and much, much more.

In other news, Star Trek Continues recently released their latest episode, Still Treads The Shadow.  If you haven’t seen this episode (or any other episode for that matter), check them out here.  There are only a few episodes remaining, so be sure to experience this brilliant fan-made production of Star Trek.

wallpaper20

Photo by Hannah Barucky

Oh, and that image above?  That’s a creation of the super cool Hannah Barucky.  I purchased a print from her awhile ago of Dr. McKennah (portrayed by the lovely Michele Specht).  I hope to one day meet this wonderful lady at a convention in order to thank her personally for her awesome work.  Check out her art, cosplay, and fashion work here.

Well, that’s all I have for now.  2017 has me beaten down a bit, but I’m not out!  Hopefully I will see a few of you in the real world very soon.  As always, thanks for reading!