Rise Of The TMNT Reveal!

Somewhere In The Sewers

Just a few minutes ago, the official Facebook page for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a live event where they officially revealed the new look of the Turtles, April O’Neil, and Master Splinter from the upcoming Nickelodeon series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Myself and a ton of other fans tuned in to see what our favorite heroes on the half shell would look like and here are my thoughts along with photos of the characters and the cast that will play them.

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Raphael is up first.  In this incarnation of the group, Raph will be the leader.  According to a panel at the live event that featured Ant Ward (co-executive producer), Andy Suriano (co-executive producer), and Rob Paulsen (voice of Raph in the 80’s, Donnie in the 2012 series, and voice director on the new series), Raphael will be a reactionary, think first leader.  Based on the photo, you can see that he’s ditched the sai for tonfas.  Not much else was revealed about him except that he’s voiced by Omar Miller.

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The tech-savvy Donatello is next, with a streamlined look and a ton of gadgets.  He’ll be voiced by Josh Brener.  He’s still a nerd, but according to the panel he will be more confident than other incarnations.  Donnie will still use his trusty bo staff but, as in recent years, it’s loaded with gadgets.

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Here’s the new look for Leonardo.  Much like Donatello, Leo features a slimmer look.  He won’t be the leader (at least for now, hopefully that changes), but seems to have been placed into a fast-talking, fun-loving, turtle with attitude role.  Leo’s Katana blades are gone, replaced by a single Odachi sword.  The way it was explained by the panel made it seem like he’s basically a sharper version of Michelangelo.  He’s voiced by Ben Schwartz.

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The last turtle is Michelangelo.  He’s an artist and according to Paulsen, the one turtle that most closely fits the legacy of TMNT.  Voiced by Brandon Mychal Smith, Michelangelo will lose the nunchucks and use a Kusari-fundo instead.  Oh, and don’t worry, he still loves pizza according to the panel.

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April O’Neil and Splinter finish up the new looks.  April was the first character revealed at the event and she’s definitely different from the classic April O’Neil and even the newer, teenaged version thanks to a glowing green bat.  Many fans have mentioned their dislike for her race change.  That personally doesn’t bother me, but when asked about her new look (and not specifically her race), Ant War and Andy Suriano mentioned that they wanted to reflect the “diversity of the world around us” and “wanted to portray a contemporary teenager.”  It sounded like a roundabout attempt to address the race change without directly addressing it.  I did see negative comments posted during the feed but, c’mon, people, this is just a character.  Get over it.  O’Neil will be voiced by Kat Graham.

Splinter looks very different from his former incarnations as well.  He reminds me of Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda.  He’ll be voiced by Eric Bauza.  Not much was said about his character, but it seems like he’ll have a tad more attitude in this incarnation than in the past.

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L to R:  Kat Graham, Josh Brener, Omar Miller, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Ben Schwartz.

 

According to the panel, the turtles were designed around their personalities and attitudes. Based on what I’ve read (and with a small bit of input from the panel), Raph will be a snapping turtle, which fits his angry attitude.  Donatello will be a softshelled turtle but more confident than previous incarnations.  Leonardo will be a red-eared slider who is very sure of himself and Michelangelo will be a box turtle who likes to “tag his shell” with stickers and paint.

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The overall look doesn’t impress me very much.  I’m completely willing to give the show a chance, as I believe that if the stories are strong enough, the animation won’t matter as much.  Folks who know me know that I love Donatello, but this version of him is the least visually impressive one I’ve seen so far.  I don’t care much for how lean both he and Leonardo look.  Michelangelo looks better, but he has an extremely amphibian vibe going much like the other turtles.  Raphael looks the best in my opinion.  Of course, he also looks more like a reptile than his brothers in this version of the characters.  I’m not too fond of April’s design and I can’t stand Splinter’s design at all.

Again, I’ll hold off judgment until I watch the actual series, but the overall look and feel of these characters is not very impressive.

Thanks for reading my post.  Let me know what your impressions are of the characters.  Do you like the look?  Does the race change of April bother you?  All opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

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Look! Up In The Sky!

Boyle Heights, CA

I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling for pretty much my entire life.  As a child, I remember waking up early on Sunday morning to watch Mid-South Wrestling with my dad.  I cut my teeth watching legends like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, Junkyard Dog, and Rick Flair.  I watched tag teams and stables such as the Rock n’ Roll Express, the Freebirds, and the Four Horsemen develop.  Many of these wrestlers would go on to the NWA promotion and/or WWF (WWE for you youngsters out there).

I started watching WCW and WWF and attending their live events once I got into college.  I didn’t have cable television as a kid, and never saw WCW or WWF prior to college, so I was blown away by the skill levels of the wrestlers in these promotions and in their stories, ring entrances, and merchandise.  WCW turned me on to luchadores and lucha libre, and I quickly became a fan of guys like La Parka, Psicosis, Rey Mysterio, Jr., and Eddie and Chavo Guerrero.

Once WWE gobbled up WCW and ECW, lucha libre was placed on the back burner and I was only able to watch it on Univision whenever I had that particular channel.  I watched CMLL and AAA shows when I could, but I slowly caved to WWE since it was literally the only big show left in the states.

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Netflix came to my rescue last year when it started streaming seasons one and two of Lucha Underground.  Broadcast in the states on the El Rey Network (which I am not offered in my area), the show’s first season drew major heat for its over-the-top story lines and outlandish characters.  Murder, a man that claims to be a dragon, another guy who is apparently from outer space, and a lady that controls one of the show’s biggest wrestlers with a rock is just a small taste of some of the stories and luchadores featured on the show.

NOTE:  Minor spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched Lucha Underground

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Despite all of this absurdity, the show works on a level that WWE would never dare to touch.  The in-ring action is fast, high flying, and genuinely fun to watch.  Luchadores such as Pentagon Jr. (who is currently going by Pentagon Dark), Aerostar, Drago, and Johnny Mundo (better known as John Morrison) use a countless number of holds and fast moves to impress the crowd.  Almost all of the wrestlers use high flying, high risk moves to shock audiences as well.  Angelico and Fenix are quite possibly the best at these aerial antics.

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There are also “big guys” in the ring such as Big Ryck, Cage, Matanza, and Mil Muertes.  These wrestlers will throw out some aerial work as well (especially Cage, who continues to impress me), but rely heavily on strength and intimidation to win their matches.

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Oh, and the ladies aren’t forgotten on Lucha Underground.  Sexy Star, Ivelisse, Taya, and Mariposa are just a few of the many women that wrestle for Lucha Underground.  They don’t shy away from the boys, either.  In fact, some of the best matches that I’ve seen so far include female wrestlers such as pretty much every Trios Champion match between Angelico, Ivelisse, and Son of Havoc against any trio that takes them on and a particularly great match between Taya and Cage.

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Mascarita Sagrada, a mini luchador, competes against men and women that are two and three times as big as he is and he is often paired up with other unique wrestlers such as Pimpinela Escarlata.  Drago, the aforementioned man that claims to be a dragon, walks out into the “Temple” for his matches with a long black tongue.  As the seasons have progressed, he’s added wings and a huge headdress that he wears when entering the ring.  Another standout wrestler is The Mack, who comes out in old school boots and tights and he’s built just like a wrestler from the seventies or early eighties.  He’s not chiseled like a rock and his body jiggles when he moves, but he’s one of the most athletic big men in the game these days.  He’s a big high flyer and draws a big pop from the crowd when he enters the Temple.

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The storylines are just as flashy and unbelievable as the wrestlers themselves.  As I mentioned, in the first season, a luchador was murdered off screen by another wrestler.  Blood was shown splattering on the face of witnesses at the scene of the crime.  Other story lines involve Pentagon Jr. breaking an arm of each opponent he faces, putting their career on hold.  Catrina, manager of Mil Muertes, controls the big man by using a rock.  The rock apparently holds some sort of power over Mil and his eventual stable called the Disciples of Death.  Oh, and in season two, two of those disciples were murdered by the third one, Sinestro de la Muerte.  Other stories include revenge, good old fashioned hate, and the desperate need for glory and fame.

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All of this insanity is lorded over by the promoter, Dario Cueto, who is even easier to hate than Vince McMahon, Jr.  Cueto is a manipulative sleaze ball, using money, jealousy, and hate to build tension between wrestlers.  He often pairs up enemies in tag matches in order to force them to work together.  He demands that the referees play loose and easy with the rules so that fans can watch the violence unfold in and out of the ring.  Cueto is quite possibly one of the most brilliant creations in all of Lucha Underground.

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While Cueto pulls the strings, a pair of guys that are very familiar to wrestling fans call the action in the temple.  Matt Striker, best known for his work with WWE’s version of ECW, and Vampiro, known for his work for WCW and CMLL, create quite the pairing on television.  Striker calls the matches in a fairly traditional way, throwing in cheesy lines and cerebral thoughts every now and then.  Vampiro, the color commentator, often calls matches with spirit that channels the crowd.  In fact, he sometimes leaves the announcer’s table to join the crowd.  He also translates some of the dialogue by the luchadores and name drops classic wrestlers and wrestling moves.  The duo are extremely fun to watch.  Striker plays the straight man and Vampiro sort of rambles throughout each episode.

Lucha Underground is definitely a great option for wrestling fans that are tired of the same ol’ same ol’ of WWE.  There’s more violence, much stronger language, and elements of history, fantasy, and science fiction woven throughout the show that give it something that makes it stand out from the pack.  I recommend watching this program, but be warned that the violence and language can get pretty tough in certain episodes.  I personally watch each episode before I decide if my son can watch it with me.  F-bombs often run rampant in some episodes and plenty of wrestlers bleed excessively.  If you are accustomed to watching the current tame version of WWE, you might want to avoid viewing Lucha Underground with your kids.  Other than those elements, though, there isn’t a wrestling program on television better than Lucha Underground.

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Thanks for reading this post.  I’m actually going to an Aro Lucha event (not affiliated with Lucha Underground but features many LU alumni and current wrestlers) in February and will happily give a full review of it afterwards.  If you watch Lucha Underground or any other wrestling shows, let me know what you think about it in the comments!

Gulf South Convention Roundup!

All Over The Gulf States!

With a new year comes new geeky things!  One of those geeky things is a fresh round of conventions across the Gulf South!  In this post I’ll be listing a few of these conventions that will be hitting us within the next few months.  I’ll also let you know if I’ll be in attendance at any of them.

First off, let’s take a look at Pensacon in Pensacola, FL.  Although I’ve never had the pleasure of attending this particular convention, I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.  It has grown with each year and based on their guest list for 2018, they have no intentions of slowing down any time soon!

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From The Walking Dead to Doctor Who and Star Trek to Galaxy Quest, there is a media guest for everyone.  Some of my personal favorites include the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer and all around gorgeous lady, Kristy Swanson, the Swamp Thing film’s Adrienne Barbeau, and Married….With Children’s own Marcy Darcy, Amanda Bearse.  Other guests include Jack Skellington himself, Chris Sarandon, Walter Jones (Black Ranger from the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers), Cooper Andrews (the wonderful Jerry from The Walking Dead) and a whole host of other excellent actors, authors, artists, and exhibitors.

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Seriously, this convention is loaded, and if any of my friends happen to attend, I want a full report on this convention (and maybe a phone call from Kristy Swanson)!  Once my crazy schedule dies down a bit, I hope to make the trip to sunny Florida to attend Pensacon!  Check out all of their wonderful guests, vendors, artists, and more here.  Pensacon happens next month, February 23-25.

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Up next is one of my favorite conventions of all time, CoastCon.  Held in lovely Biloxi, MS at the beautiful Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, this convention is celebrating its 41st year.  That’s right, kids.  This southern, fan-run convention has been kicking around as long as I have!

This year’s guests include anime voice artist, Bryce Papenbrook, and Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of the Lords of Avalon series and the Chronicles of Nick.  This is one of the most fan-friendly conventions that you can attend, and I love not only the convention itself, but the entire city of Biloxi.  This is the type of convention that you go to in order to hang out with friends old and new, and to attend panels covering all of your favorite fandoms.  Get information on guests, hotels, and more here.  The event will take place March 16-18.

Next up is the third incarnation of another one of my favorites, Southern Geekfest!  As of this writing, there hasn’t been much talk about this year’s event.  I’m hoping to actually make this event this year since I missed last year and because it is headed up by some wonderful people.  Hattiesburg, MS isn’t the first place one might think of when talking about pop culture, but there is a thriving fandom community in this wonderful Mississippi town.  Keep an eye out for more updates on this convention here.

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Last but not least is the local con, CyPhaCon, in Lake Charles, LA.  From April 6th-8th, CyPhaCon will take place at the Lake Charles Civic Center.  This year’s event looks to be just as excellent as the last couple of years with guests such as Warehouse 13’s Eddie McClintock, Babylon 5’s Jason Carter, and Farscape’s Gigi Edgley.  Anime fans will get the chance to meet Ian Sinclair and J. Michael Tatum.  Kimberly Richardson and Mike Moreau are slated to attend as author guests.  Morgan and Danny Allain will be in attendance as artist guests.  Cosplay guests, fan groups, and the performance group Take One Productions will also be in attendance.

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There are many more guests, including musical guests, to be announced, so be sure to look here for more information about this upcoming event.  I am definitely going to this event, so be sure to look for me.  When the event gets closer, I’ll let you all know exactly when I’ll be there.  My primary goal:  to get a hug from Gigi Edgley!  I loved her as Chiana on Farscape, and she stole my heart with her guest role on Star Trek Continues.

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That’s all for now, folks.  Thank you for reading my post.  If you’re attending any of these events, be sure to let me know how it goes!

Addictive Apples

Storybrooke, ME

I’ve been all over the place with my nerd viewing in recent months.  I’ve bounced around from The IT Crowd (which I love and recommend) to multiple rewatchings of Star Trek, Star Trek Voyager, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, to shows like Luke Cage and Robotech.  My wife, who rarely becomes passionate about any fantasy or science fiction programs, often had me watching Grimm with her.  While I enjoyed the series, I never felt a need to continually watch it.  In other words, I can view one or two episodes and I’m good for a few weeks.  My wife is a rabid fan of the show, however, and has watched all of the seasons repeatedly.

Over the weekend we decided to watch a new (at least to us) series entitled Once Upon A Time.  If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge Disney fan.  I’m also a big fan of fairy tales.  I really enjoy Disney’s take on fairy tales as well and don’t mind the liberties that the Mouse That Walt Built has taken with those wonderful stories.  I do, however, find myself hesitant whenever a classic fairy tale is injected into modern times.  After skimming the web for information on Once Upon A Time, I was a bit worried over what I might be getting into.  Thankfully the show has been a very pleasant surprise.

Be Forewarned:  This series has been out since 2011 and I’m playing catch up.  Any post I make about this show from here on out will contain spoilers for all of the existing seasons.  But don’t worry, I’m still on Season One, so I’m not going to spoil anything recent for awhile!

The series starts with Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison, Kirk’s mom in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie) reuniting with her son that she gave up for adoption, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore).  In Fairy Tale World, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla, Boomtown) storms into the wedding of Prince Charming (Josh Dallas, Fandral in the first Thor film) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin, Big Love) and casts a curse in which she’ll be the only person with a happy ending when their tales come to an end.  This curse transports numerous popular fairy tale characters to Storybrooke, Maine, where they lose all memories of their former lives and live in a never-ending cycle of life under Mayor Regina Mills (the Evil Queen).

Sounds kinda silly, right?  Stay with me here.

Henry shows up at Emma’s home and tells her that she is the key to breaking the curse placed on the people and beings of the Fairy Tale World because she is the daughter of Charming and Snow.  According to a prophecy of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle, Trainspotting, Ravenous, The Full Monty), Emma will return to break the curse on her twenty-eighth birthday.  Emma doesn’t believe Henry and brings him home to his adopted mother, Regina Mills.

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Henry tells Emma that no one can ever leave Storybrooke because of the curse and that anybody that does try to leave ends up having something bad happen to them.  He also tells her that Regina only pretends to love him.  Knowing how tough the life of an adopted or foster child can be, Emma decides to stay in town for a bit.  She comes into contact with a number of characters in the first few episodes and we get to learn a little about each of them in our world and in the fairy tale realm.  She eventually winds up as a deputy in the town under the watch of Sheriff Graham Humbert (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey), who happens to be the Hunstman that was sent to kill Snow White and bring her heart to the Queen.

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With each episode, we learn that certain citizens of Storybrooke know exactly what is going on and that many others experience flashbacks to memories of their other life.  Mr. Gold (Carlyle) is apparently fully aware of what is going on and makes deals with any and every citizen that becomes desperate in the town.  He also manipulates Emma into running for sheriff and thus forcing Regina to run her own candidate.  Of all of the characters in the show so far, Gold and Regina are definitely two of my favorites.

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Another favorite is Dr. Hopper/Jiminy Cricket, portrayed by seasoned character actor Raphael Sbarge.  Science fiction fans will no doubt recognize Sbarge from his time as a recurring character in Star Trek Voyager and as numerous other characters from TV and film in productions as varied as Independence Day, iZombie, Risky Business, and Pearl Harbor.  This guy has been all over TV and film and his role as Hopper is excellent.  He’s one of the first citizens other than Mr. Gold to stand up to Mayor Mills.  He’s also Henry’s therapist, and has a strong bond with the boy.

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Meghan Ory portrays Red Riding Hood/Ruby in the series.  While she’s primarily nothing more than a source for information and eye candy for the locals, I’ve already looked ahead and know that her character has bigger things to come later in the series.

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Josh Dallas’ Prince Charming/David Nolan hasn’t done much in the series so far, but that’s primarily because he’s been in a coma for most of the episodes in our world.  He’s been really busy in Fairy Tale Land, though, managing to chase down the wrongfully accused Snow White and eventually fall in love with and marry her.  He also slayed a dragon for King Midas (Alex Zahara) in order to bring Midas’ kingdom and his father’s together.  I won’t reveal the twist in that particular story if you haven’t seen it yet.

In our world, David has only recently awakened from his coma and is struggling with feelings for Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White despite being married to Kathryn/Princess Abigail.  He suffers from amnesia and is only beginning to discover his place in Storybrooke.

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While the plot left me a bit hesitant at first, one cast member drew me in like a moth to a flame.  I’ve always been enchanted by the lovely Ginnifer Goodwin since I first saw her in HBO’s Big Love, and she is the primary reason that I decided to give Once Upon A Time a shot.  Her portrayal of a tough, smart, and quick-witted Snow White plays in wonderful contrast to her somewhat meek and caring Mary Margaret.  She has quickly developed a strong friendship with Emma, and is only beginning to build her relationship with David.  Her story has been very interesting so far, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

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I was entirely unfamiliar with Lana Parilla until seeing this series, but she has quickly become my favorite part of the show.  Parilla plays bad at a devilishly good level.  I love hating her, and am always surprised by how evil she can be.  At one point in the series she physically dukes it out with Emma and despite all of her magical power in the other world, it’s this fierceness and jealousy-driven hate in our world that makes me love her so much.  When I grow up and become the Evil King, I hope to rule just as bad as Lana Parilla.

The show overall is extremely fun to watch.  There are a few moments were it becomes a bit disjointed, but the ship is usually righted before the end of the episode.  I’m only ten episodes in, so I know that there’s a lot of story left to be seen.  The CGI and practical effects are pretty good, with the CGI only faltering in a few spots.  There’s a Disney purity that lingers over each episode, but there’s an adult tinge to it as well.

As each episode plays out, the story gives the viewer just enough of a taste of what’s really going on to want them to continue watching.  That’s the sign of a truly good story, and considering the fact that this particular show is based on stories that have stood the test of time, that’s saying quite a lot.

I give it four poisoned apples out of five.

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As always, thanks for reading.  Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever watched this series and how much you like or dislike it.

Wanna Be Famous????

On This Very Blog

I’m sure that you are all aware that convention season is upon us.  Last year was a bust for me as I only attended one convention (Louisiana Comic Con, which was awesome).  This year I plan on attending a few more.  I have definite plans to attend CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA and Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA.  I also hope to attend Southern Geek Fest in Hattiesburg, MS and CoastCon in Biloxi, MS.  Those two are pretty much up in the air at the moment, but I highly recommend attending them if you can.  I’m also looking at attending at least one or two other smaller conventions in Louisiana and possibly Texas.

So why am I posting this and how will it make you famous?

Simply put:  I want new material for my blog and want your help doing so.

In order to do this, I want to do a few one-on-one interviews in person with cosplayers, other bloggers, artists, authors, convention runners, super fans, and maybe a celebrity or two.  If you happen to be any of the things that I just listed, I want to hear from you!

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If you are attending any of the same conventions that I am going to and have a few minutes to kill, I want to talk to you.  I want to know why you love to write.  I want to know what inspired you to create your art.  I want to know how long it takes for you to make your costumes.  Get the picture????

If you aren’t going to be at a convention but happen to be fairly local to me (from Beaumont, TX to Lafayette, LA and north to Alexandria, LA), I’d  love to hang out with you wherever you’d like to meet and talk about what makes you tick.

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Last year I started my “Ten Burning Questions” posts and while popular, it became difficult to find participants.  People enjoyed reading those posts, but only a few brave souls actually agreed to answer questions.  By doing interviews in person, though, I hope to get a little more insight to the individuals that I interview.

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If you are someone you know is interested in being interviewed, please shoot me a message either through this blog or over on my Facebook page here.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your help!

Shining “Bright”

Orcs and Elves and Fairies, Oh My!

Veteran LAPD officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is forced to partner up with the first Orc officer in the country, Nick Jakoby (the completely unrecognizable Joel Edgerton), and ends up taking on a Dark Elf and some bad cops in Netflix’s most expensive original film to date, Bright.

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I first heard about this film on Netflix earlier this year.  The streaming service heavily promoted the film and successfully grabbed my attention.  Despite having a seemingly absurd premise, I impatiently waited for the December 22 release date to arrive and watched the film that evening.  Something about the promos really grabbed my attention.  Part of me wanted to see just how bad this film could be, but another part of me said that director David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Training Day) might possibly be able to make a decent movie out of this Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Chronicle) story.

I  held off on writing this review because I also saw Star Wars:  The Last Jedi during the same time period and felt that that film was a bit more important to blog about first.  This decision allowed me to think about Bright a bit longer and it made me grow to appreciate the film even more.

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Minor spoilers ahead, but nothing too surprising.

The story seems a bit silly on the surface.  It’s essentially a buddy cop movie about the grizzled veteran (Smith) attempting to survive the day with his new rookie officer (Edgerton)…..who happens to be an Orc…..and Elves and Fairies also exist in this present world.  All of the other cops on the force want Jakoby eliminated from his position, and when Jakoby and Ward stumble upon a magic wand and an Elf (Lucy Fry) capable of wielding it, other cops see it as a way to permanently remove Jakoby by killing him and taking the wand for themselves.

Things get even crazier when a local human gang also finds out that Jakoby and Ward have the wand and they give chase.  Top that off with the fact that the owner of the wand, the sinister Dark Elf called Leilah (Noomi Rapace), is after them as well, and you’ve got all of the ingredients for a chase film sprinkled with humor that only the combination of David Ayer, Max Landis, and Will Smith can deliver.

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Despite having a solid amount of humor throughout, this story is pretty dramatic.  There are undertones of racism (from the cops, Orcs, Elves, and humans) and an Uncle Tom factor (the other Orcs hate Jakoby for trying “to be human”) in the film, but these elements simply play out in the background, being injected at moments in the film and then being pushed back while the main plot plays out.  Landis could have written a grand social commentary about race relations, but decided to stick with a buddy cop film and it works very well.  I’ve read a few reviews where people claimed that Landis squandered a perfect opportunity to address race relations with this film, but I believe that his intention was never meant to address that specific element, only to use it as a catalyst for the main plot.

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The Elves in the film are seen as an elite race, being wealthier, more intelligent, and considered more attractive than the humans and Orcs.  Fairies are relegated to being a subspecies that are pests and nothing more.  This hierarchy plays into the film’s tale, as one of the protagonists, an Elf named Kandomere (Edgar Ramirez), comes across as a bad guy at first, but is really only interested in upholding the law.  In fact, I’d say that Razmirez gives one of the best performances in the film.

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The rest of the cast does an excellent job.  Smith and Edgerton have excellent chemistry on the screen, and Edgerton does a particularly good job behind a ton of makeup.  Lucy Fry spends a lot of the film rattling off Elvish until she finally trusts Ward and Jakoby.  It’s at this point where we see that there’s more to her than meets the eye.  Noomi Rapace eats up every scene that she’s in, commanding the viewer’s attention as she kicks, punches, threatens, and murders her way through Los Angeles.  Her two primary followers (Veronica Ngo and Alex Meraz) provide plenty of action as well.  Margaret Cho and Ike Barinholtz are excellent as bad cops out to get Jakoby by any means necessary.  Happy Anderson channels a young John Goodman as Montehugh, Kandomere’s partner.

The film has excellent practical effects and an excellent soundtrack.  It makes perfect sense that Cannibal Corpse would be a band that Orcs would listen to, so it comes as no surprise that their track Hammer Smashed Face is considered “one of the greatest love songs ever written” by Jakoby.  It’s these types of light moments and nods that hold the film up between the heavier moments.

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It doesn’t surprise me that the professional reviewers shot this film down.  I’m pretty sure that their DNA is encoded with an anti-fun gene that forces them to hate any film that doesn’t have some great message attached to it……or they are a bunch of snobs.

There are better fantasy films out there, but for a fun weekend flick that’s actually pretty cool, give Bright a chance to shine.  Ignore the critics, pop some popcorn, and enjoy this movie.

Thanks for reading my post.  Let me know what you think about Bright in the comments section.  I’ll be posting again real soon!

The Force Is Middle Of The Road With This One

In A Galaxy Revisited

2017 has been a good cinematic year for geeks, nerds, and pop culture addicts. Logan, Wonder Woman, Alien: Covenant, Kong: Skull IslandJustice League, and Spider-Man: Homecoming are just a few of the films that graced the silver screen this year.  Heck, even Netflix delivered with its most expensive film production to date, the Will Smith vehicle called Bright (which I highly recommend).  But of all of these films that we’ve been offered this year, none of them were as highly anticipated as Star Wars:  The Last Jedi.

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When we last visited the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) set out to find Luke Skywalker, Han was murdered by that no good, tantrum throwing Kylo Ren, and the First Order lost their shiny new Starkiller Base.  Finn was almost killed by, you guessed it, that bratty Kylo Ren, and Mark Hamill made more money with one stare than you or I will ever make in a lifetime.

Which leads us to The Last Jedi.

(Note:  Spoilers are coming, but not before my general review.)

The film opens with the Resistance in shambles and the First Order hot on their trail.  The Resistance has run out of almost everything and are hoping that Rey and Chewie return with Luke Skywalker, their “only hope” for victory.  As the film rolls along at a much slower (but intentional) pace than every other film in the Star Wars universe, Finn and a new character, Rose, head out to find a code breaker to complete their subplot mission while General Leia tries to hold the rebellion together long enough for Luke’s return.  Poe goes full wildcard on his friends in another subplot and Kylo Ren reaches out to Rey in the hopes to show her just how powerful she can be with him at her side while she attempts to get trained by Master Skywalker.

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As I said before, the film moves at a very slow pace when compared to the other Star Wars films, and I can see where this might turn off some of the fans of the previous films.  There are also some actions taken by certain characters (I’ll get into this more in the spoiler section) and by the director, Rian Johnson, that I can definitely see as things that would sour the opinion of loyal fans of the galaxy far, far away.

But with that said, there’s a whole lot to like about this film.  For starters, when the action does get going, it rolls full throttle.  There are three distinct sequences in the film that were simply amazing to watch.  A fourth sequence brought out the detective in me as I tried to decipher what was really going on.

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For old schoolers like myself, seeing Carrie Fisher on the screen and knowing that she’s gone meant that I held back tears almost every time she appeared on screen or said anything as did seeing her with Billie Lourd, her daughter.  One scene in particular hit me very hard, and I thought that it would be the end of our princess in the film.

Speaking of death in the film, Rian Johnson did an excellent job of making myself and others seriously doubt the safety of a lot of characters.  That’s one of the best parts of this film in my opinion, as I never truly knew who was safe and who would be pushing up galactic daisies by the end of the film.

I also really enjoyed the addition of Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran to this film.  I had doubts about both of them before seeing the film, but Tran really surprised me and Dern gave what was possibly the best performance in the film.

The returning cast did solid jobs as well, but I felt that John Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe were kind of forced into the script, as the actions of their characters (at least in my opinion) didn’t really amount to anything when the credits rolled.  That’s not to say that either actor did a bad job in the film, I just wish that they would have been given more substantial parts in the movie.

Overall, Star Wars:  The Last Jedi just seemed to be off balance for most of its run time.  There were extremely wonderful peaks and deep, divisive valleys throughout the film, and one character’s actions in particular seems to have ripped the veil in the religion that is Star Wars.  What’s funny is that this particular piece of Star Wars controversy didn’t bother me that much, but I’ll get to that soon enough.

The Last Jedi is definitely worth watching, but check your preconceived notions of what shoulda/coulda/woulda happened at the door.  A lot of people love the film and just as many hate it.  The rest of us are in the middle wondering how the next film will resolve all of the open-ended bits and pieces of this film.

That’s my general review.  Below this photo of General Hux, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma are my views on specific and very spoiler-infested aspects of the film.  Keep reading if you’ve seen the film.  STOP if you haven’t watched The Last Jedi yet!

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Last Warning!!! Spoilers Ahead!!!

The Last Jedi was definitely interesting to watch.  The ending, which gives us a very much alive General Leia Organa, makes me wonder how her role will be played out since Carrie Fisher can no longer play the role.  Was Leia’s death scene already filmed for the next movie?  Perhaps she was supposed to die in place of Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) but they decided to shelf her death for the beginning of the next film.  If so, that’s going to be gut-wrenching for fans like myself that could barely hold back tears when Fisher was on the screen.

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Speaking of holding back tears, in the moment where Holdo decides to pilot the Raddus into Snoke’s ship at hyperspeed and she and Leia stumble over “May the Force be with you,” I legitimately shed a couple of tears.  To me, that is the point in the film where Carrie Fisher truly said goodbye to her fans.  I kept waiting for her to turn around and tell Holdo that she should take her place, but that never happens.  I had a similar feeling when the Resistance evacuated Crait.  I assumed that Leia would walk out to talk with Kylo Ren in one last attempt to save him and/or her brother, Luke, but that never happened.  This more than anything makes me hungry for the next film.

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I was also completely disappointed with Benicio del Toro’s role as DJ in the film.  His character was completely useless in the film.  Hopefully he’ll get a little more action in the next movie.  The whole Canto Bight (casino planet) sequence where Finn and Rose meet DJ was not needed in my opinion.  I understand that this little side adventure will most likely lead up to “a new hope” thanks to the young rebels inspired by Rose and Finn, but ultimately the only thing that this part of the film did was give Finn a reason to face off with Captain Phasma for (possibly) one last time.  I really hope that this isn’t the last we see of Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), but I have my doubts about her ever returning.

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In my opinion, Captain Phasma is the biggest waste in not only The Last Jedi, but in The Force Awakens as well.  She towered over Finn in their battle but much like Boba Fett (and possibly intentionally like Boba Fett) did in Return of the Jedi, she went out like a chump.  Gwendoline Christie deserved better in this trilogy, and I hope that she somehow managed to survive The Last Jedi.

I can’t say enough about Laura Dern’s performance in this film.  I immediately assumed that she was either A) a plant for the First Order that was intentionally making bad decisions for the Resistance, or B) Supreme Leader Snoke.  Seriously, there were multiple times in the film where Dern’s face made me question her true intentions.  I was sad to see her die in the film, because her acting chops knocked everyone else out of the galaxy.  I’ve also had a major crush on Laura Dern since I saw her in Jurassic Park, so my opinion might be a little biased.  My goodness, how beautiful is that woman??????

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Another high point of the film for me was Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.  Seeing her in all of the promotional material and in action figure form, I assumed that she would become what toy collector’s call a “peg warmer,” one of the characters that everyone tolerates but doesn’t really like and whose action figure will be found all alone on the peg long after the popular figures are gone.

Tran did such an excellent job with the role despite being included in a throwaway subplot with Boyega’s Finn and their escape sequence was one of my favorite in the entire film.  Oh, and the two other sequences that I hinted at in my general review included the battle between Rey, Kylo Ren, and the Elite Praetorian Guard (the dudes in red around Snoke), and the “battle” that takes place between Ren and Luke Skywalker.

Speaking of that battle, when Kylo screams out for the First Order to hit Skywalker with everything and then Luke knocks a little dust off of his shoulder after the attack, I knew that something was definitely up.  Sure, Luke was a powerful Jedi, but nothing like his father or even Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Based on the films alone (and not on any of the old EU novels), Luke’s use of the Force extended to blowing up the first Death Star.  Vader held back in the hopes that Luke would join him and ended up having to kill the Emperor himself when Luke refused to turn to the dark side.  Also take into consideration that Luke had attempted to detach himself from the Force because of his screw ups, and I was left wondering if Luke was a Force ghost already or doing some high level astral projection stuff.

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The battle with the Elite Praetorian Guard deserves to be right up there with some of the greatest cinematic lightsaber battles in Star Wars including Kenobi versus General Grievous, Kenobi versus Anakin Skywalker, and Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn versus Darth Maul.

Now, one thing that seems to bother a lot of people about this film is how Luke attempted to murder Kylo Ren before he could turn to the dark side.  This particular plot point didn’t bother me that much.  Yes, when Luke is telling the story, I got a bad feeling at first, but when he’s almost finished with the story and comes to his senses just a tad bit too late, I can absolutely believe that he’d doing something like that.  Remember that Luke made a lot of quick decisions in the original trilogy, and other than his refusal to use his guidance system and rely on the Force to to destroy the Death Star, they often proved to be bad ones (investigating the Sand People, checking out a meteorite just before it’s quitting time on Hoth, leaving Yoda’s training to help his friends, flying along with the Rebellion to Endor, etc.).

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I didn’t buy Kylo’s version of the story at all, nor did I buy his explanation of Rey’s parents being nobodies.  Of all of the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, though, Kylo Ren has become the most interesting.  I absolutely believe that he wants to join forces with Rey, but he’s definitely not above lying to her to get what he wants.  I also believe that he’s leaning more and more to the light and that Rey shows a little dark side potential.

I also think that Snoke might still be around.  Remember that if Luke is powerful enough to project his image across the galaxy, Snoke might be able to as well.  This could lead up to Kylo Ren and Rey joining forces to defeat him or Rey turning to the dark side and Kylo Ren turning into the hero I’d really like to see him become.  Who knows?  The Last Jedi was an imperfect mess, but it left myself and a lot of other people with some very intriguing questions.

As always, thank you for taking time out to read my post.  Let me know how you felt about the film in the comments section or give me your own theories about what might happen next.

May the Force be with you!!!!