Saa-Winggg, Battahh, Battahh!

Pee-Pee Pants City

Unless you’ve been under a massive rock for the last six months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about a dude named Negan and his girlfriend, Lucille (she’s not really his girlfriend, for you non-TWD fans).  You might not even be a fan of The Walking Dead, but I’m sure that you have at least one friend who is that hasn’t shut up about it recently.

In any case, let me get you up to speed if you don’t know what is going on with the TWD season opener.  Basically, last season ended with a cliffhanger.  It was a glorious cliffhanger in my opinion because it baited folks for the season seven opener.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  Despite no new shows (unless you count the forgettable Fear The Walking Dead), TWD stayed in the headlines on a lot of social media and entertainment pages because everybody was trying to figure out who met the business end of Negan’s barbed-wire wrapped bat, Lucille.  There were a lot of other people (products of the instant gratification age) griping that the cliffhanger was the worst possible way to end the season because they didn’t know who died.  Yet I’m pretty sure that all of them showed up on Sunday night to find out what really went down.

Well, Sunday night finally arrived and we all got the answer.  Sure, folks who’ve read the comics had a pretty good idea about who might meet their demise, but the show has been known to go off on wild tangents in the past just to keep things interesting.  There are characters that have died early on in the series that are either still alive or died later in the comics and a few characters have been knocked off in place of other characters.

Warning:  Reading beyond this point means spoilers await you.  STOP READING NOW if you do not wish to find out who died in the season seven opener!!!

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The latest episode brought us back to Negan’s world, where he has a whole bunch of Rick’s group on their knees.  Some are scared, some defiant, and none of them knowing what to do.  Negan is pacing in front of the group and explaining to them in fairly clear terms that he must punish one of them for stepping out of line in his world.  In his hand is Lucille, his beloved dealer of punishment, and he begins to play a game of Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo with the group (just like at the end of last season).  He points his bat at each member of the group and finally makes his selection.  He swings, compliments his victim for taking it like a champ, and then swings some more.  Crunches, screams, tears, groans.  All are present while the beating is going down.

The show managed to carry out the suspense for a bit longer thanks to flashbacks to the events that lead up to the thrashing.  We also see Rick tell Negan that he is going to kill him…..eventually.  This leads Negan to take Rick for a ride in the RV and then proceed to verbally and mentally torture him throughout the rest of the episode.  This particular string of events has become quite controversial, as well as the violence shown on screen during the beatings, but I’ll get to both later.

The victim, if you don’t already know, is Abraham.  Before his untimely demise, he manages to flash a peace sign at Sasha, which makes her break down into even more tears.  Negan proceeds to pound in Abraham’s skull.  We are only shown a couple of the whacks on Abe’s noggin before they cut to Negan’s face and an occasional glimpse of Lucille as she becomes laced with gore.  The production uses sounds to deliver the gruesomeness of the scene, and they do so with perfection.

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But wait!  There’s more!

Whenever Abraham goes down, a lot of people are understandably upset.  The character has quickly become a fan favorite during his run on the show, and Michael Cudlitz has given us more one-liners in his time with the cast than pretty much all of the others combined.  Cudlitz also seems to be a genuinely cool dude in real life, so seeing his character go was tough.

However, The Walking Dead has always killed off fan favorites.  This is nothing new.  It’s the nature of the show and I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.  Yes, Abraham and his brilliant “dolphin smooth” phrases are gone, but life goes on.

After Abraham’s death, many folks gave out sighs of relief because their favorite, whether it was Daryl, Carl, Maggie, or one of the other members of Rick’s crew, were still breathing.  But Negan wasn’t finished with them yet.

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We bounce back to Negan’s torture of Rick for a little bit and we witness him break down everybody’s favorite zombie apocalypse deputy even more.  Negan is relentless, forcing Rick to go after his ax amongst a horde of walkers engulfed in fog.

Then we cut back to the lineup and we find Negan realizing that he just pounded in the skull of Rosita’s former lover.  He begins to taunt her and this pushes Daryl to the limit.  He jumps at Negan but is quickly subdued.  Negan’s men hold Daryl down and Dwight aims Daryl’s crossbow at him.  But Daryl lives to fight another day as Negan tells his men to put Daryl back in the lineup.

That’s when the shocker happens.

Negan reminds the group that he let the first attack on him slide because it was a very emotional time for the group.  But this second attack would not go unpunished.  Negan pontificates a little bit more about his rules and then, out of nowhere, he pops Glenn in the noggin.  This actually caught me off guard.  I wasn’t expecting a second death (despite having caught wind that multiple cast members might be dying in the season opener.

Negan continues to pound on poor Glenn, even making one of his eyes pop out of the socket.  Glenn tells Maggie that he’ll find her and then he succumbs to the multiple swings of Lucille.

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But that’s STILL not all!

Negan continues his torture of Rick.  He forces Carl to the ground and draws a line across  the arm of Rick’s son.  He then gives Rick his ax and tells him to cut off Carl’s arm at the line.  Rick is at a loss.  We get to see him fall to pieces and beg Negan to let him cut his own arm off (hinting at a moment in the comic that involved the Governor).  Negan pushes on, demanding that Rick do it or he’ll bash in Carl’s head with Lucille.  Carl tells his father to “just do it” and Rick lifts the ax, only to be stopped by Negan at the last moment.

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I immediately thought of the Old Testament story of Abraham and his son, Isaac.  For those of you who don’t know, Abraham’s faith is being tested by God, and He asks Abraham to kill his own son when no other sacrificial animal is available.  Abraham then proceeds to bind Isaac and is about to kill him whenever an angel stops him.

Perhaps this event during the show was meant to show the god-like power that Negan held over not only Rick, but his entire group.  It also could have been meant as a nod to the Biblical story and Abraham, who had been killed by Negan.  Perhaps it was just director Greg Nicotero’s way of making people talk even more about a show that seemingly everyone is talking about????

In any case, Rick is broken, Glenn and Abraham are dead, and the group finds themselves at a point where they have no plan of action and no real way of winning….at the moment.  Maggie, despite just witnessing the death of a friend and of the father of her child and being sick due to complications with her pregnancy, picks herself up and tells Rick that they have to go back to Alexandria and figure out a way to fight Negan.  The group carries off their deceased friends, and the episode ends.

The Aftermath (And My Two Cents)

I know of no other episode that has caused as much friction with the fans as this one.  Many people have publicly decried the episode for its violence despite the fact that there have been decapitations, people ripped apart while alive, machetes through skulls, the shooting of children, and many other violent acts throughout the entirety of the series.  Others have complained that the payoff for the cliffhanger wasn’t satisfactory because (all of a sudden) they knew who was going to die in the first place and that the last six months of speculation were wasted.  Some have even gone so far as to say that the show has become a “kill of the week” series, where character development has died and gore and violence have become to focus.

To all of those people I say, “Where have you been?”

From the beginning this series has been about the living characters (the real Walking Dead).  We’ve witnessed Rick go from being an honest and ethical man to a person who is forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do but must in order to survive.  We’ve seen him make good choices, bad choices, and a few stupid moves as well.  He’s learned from all of them.  He’s gone a bit crazy at times as well, but who can really blame him?

We’ve seen Carol go from a meek, domestically abused mother to the literal mother of all butt kickers.  She, too, went a little crazy, but I’m sure she’s going to be back on track soon enough.

Carl, Abraham, T-Dogg, Merle, Maggie, Daryl, Glenn, Beth, Eugene, Lori, Andrea, Morgan, Deanna, Lizzie, and almost every other character that had any decent amount of screen time was changed in some way.  That’s still happening with characters like Enid, Gabriel, and even Dwight.  If you don’t see these characters developing, you’re looking in the wrong direction and focusing on the violence.

For those of you that feel cheated by the cliffhanger ending and/or the cliffhanger payoff, I have to ask you what did you really expect?  The cliffhanger was meant to force you to talk about the series while it was on its break.  You say that you felt manipulated?  Yep, you were.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  You felt like something bigger should have happened?  Exactly how many skulls did Negan need to bash in to get his point across to you that he is a bad man?  Why did Glenn or Abraham have to die?  Hello!  Zombie apocalypse where all sense of order has broken down?!?!?!?

Yes, the episode was extremely violent, but I’d bet you ten dollars that the people griping about the lack of character development were also the same ones griping that episodes that focused on one character (like the Morgan episode) weren’t violent enough.  Also, Negan’s character developed more and more with each swing of the bat.  It was violent character development, and I’m pretty sure that we all now know just how nasty Negan can be without a doubt!

Also, for all of those people that instantly claimed that they called the death of two characters, I highly doubt that you actually picked them both.  Sure, you might have called Glenn’s death or Abraham’s death, but I seriously doubt that many people actually thought that Negan was going to kill two people from the lineup.  Sheesh, the interwebz can fluster me so easily sometimes!

I’m sorry.  I had to get on my soapbox for a bit there.  I promise that I’m finished for the moment.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, once the dust settles on this latest season opener of The Walking Dead, we have this guy to look forward to:

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You see?  That’s how this show has always worked.  Characters live.  Characters die.  New characters arrive to add to the story.  The season opener was pretty good, but I definitely think that the rest of this season of The Walking Dead has a whole lot more surprises waiting for us.

Are you ready?

As always, thanks for reading.  Comment below if you disagree with me (and I bet that a few of you do) and feel free to share this post with your friends.  Oh, and here’s a photo of me and Steven Yeun from a few years ago.  He was a cool dude and I’ll miss him on the show.  Thanks for being a great part of the show, Steven!

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Reboot….Or A Bust(er)???

The Afterlife

1984’s Ghostbusters is a classic film that is loved by not only those that grew up with it and its sequel (and the cartoons, video games, etc.), but by fans of all ages up to and including the youngsters of today.  I have watched this film with my family and friends on multiple occasions.  In fact, it’s safe to say that I probably watch Ghostbusters six to eight times a year.  It’s just that much fun to watch.

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I still laugh at the same old jokes and quote the same old lines:  “That’s a big Twinkie.”  “There is no Dana.  There is only Zuul.”  “Listen!  Do you smell something?”  “Nobody steps on a church in my town!” and so many more…..

I still believe that Egon is the coolest member of the team and, as a result, feel terrible whenever I remember that Harold Ramis is no longer with us.

It was and still is a simply wonderful film.

After watching the 2016 reboot or, as it has been called with its digital and DVD/Blu-ray release, Ghostbusters:  Answer the Call, I’m not getting the same feeling.

Sure, I wasn’t expecting the Melissa McCarthy/Leslie Jones/Kate McKinnon/Kristen Wiig team-up flick to overshadow its legendary predecessor, but I was hoping that it would at least find a way to sink into the hearts of the younger generation as the original film did.

It didn’t.

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Don’t get me wrong, the film is enjoyable to watch for the most part.  It opens in a fashion similar to the original, with an angry spirit scaring the bejeebus out of a tour guide (instead of a librarian) and the trio of doctors (McCarthy, Wiig, and McKinnon) getting booted by their respective universities after investigating the incident.

They decide to go into business for themselves and spectral activity goes into overdrive (thanks to a villain that’s is entirely too boring).  They hire a ditzy secretary named Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), and pick up another team member whenever Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan proves herself invaluable to the team since she knows the city (historically and geographically) better than pretty much everyone else in town.

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From there they start bustin’, obviously, and uncover a plot by the villain to bring about an apocalypse on the city first and, eventually, the world.  They also have to deal with a skeptic, a government cover-up, and a few recognizable ghosts along the way.

Scattered throughout the film are cameos from all of the core original cast with the exception of Rick Moranis, who declined to appear in the film.  Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts all have brief roles in the film.  Harold Ramis also gets a nod in a touching way, but you’ll have to be quick to find it early in the film.  A few other celebrities have cameos as well, but I’ll let you find them yourself.

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Jones’ Patty Tolan and Kate McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann carry the film.  Patty is laugh-out-loud funny most of the time, and Holtzmann is bizarre beyond belief at times but manages to ride that fine line of not being too silly.  Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin rides that line as well, but goes overboard a few times.  His hunky dim-bulb persona worked well for the most part.  Neil Casey portrays the villain in the film and, quite honestly, was boring.  I wasn’t interested in the fate of his character, Rowan, at all.

Kristen Wiig portrayed Dr. Erin Gilbert who, ironically, behaved exactly like every other character that Wiig portrays in comedies.  She’s a likeable vanilla character that draws a few laughs, admits her mistakes, and tries to keep the level of insanity to a manageable level.  Like Wiig, Melissa McCarthy’s Dr. Abigail Yates has a personality that is the same as every other character that McCarthy has portrayed.  She’s blunt, can be a bit dim at times, and can also put up a fight when necessary.  These two characters are the weakest members of the team, and that’s not good considering the fact that the franchise was placed squarely on their shoulders.

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The movie also seemed to struggle with wanting to be equal parts nostalgic, humor, and amped-up action that is so common in big budget films these days.  Ghosts are literally coming at the foursome from every direction in the climax of the film, and the team dispatches them with often superhuman-like abilities.  There was never really a line set for how far these characters could go, and that hurt the film in my opinion.

I appreciated the winks and nods at the original film, but they were executed in mediocre fashion.  Also, if you’re not a fan of Wiig or McCarthy’s brand of comedy, there won’t be much for you to laugh at in this film.

Also, the only memorable line from this film in my opinion was “The power of Patty compels you!” delivered by Leslie Jones.  I keep going back to her and McKinnon because they were just that good.  Had the script and rest of the cast performed on their level, I would have loved this film.

One last thing before I sum up my review.  The music is terribly lacking in this film.  Fall Out Boy fell out on their rendition of the Ghostbusters theme (although Missy Elliott did her best at trying to save it).  Ray Parker, Jr. has nothing to worry about, as I’m sure we’ll all be singing his theme song long after Fall Out Boy is long gone.

In summary, the film is just okay.  It’s not terrible, but I promise you that I won’t be watching it as much as the 1984 classic.  I really would like to see a sequel with a different director and writers, but from what I’ve read the sequel has been scrapped for an animated film and/or series.  I’d also like to see McKinnon and Jones team up in a comedy of their own without the dead weight of Wiig and McCarthy.

So, check out the film if you’d like.  It’s entertaining enough (my kids enjoyed it more than I did, so your youngsters might enjoy it as well), and I’ll probably buy it on Blu-ray sooner or later, but it’s not a must-see.

As always, thanks for reading.  This is probably the harshest review of a film that I’ve done in a long time.  I promise I’m not always the mean-spirited when it comes to films, but I just couldn’t let it slide with this film.

 

 

Louisiana Comic Con 2016!

Lafayette, LA

The second year of Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette was something of a whirlwind for me.  Life has been throwing me some crazy curveballs lately and I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to attend this year.  As luck would have it, though, my Saturday opened up just enough for me to attend for a few hours and they were awesome hours to say the least!

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I decided to “cosplay” as Kylo Din (ner).  A quick trip to Walgreen’s to purchase a cheap mask that I had been looking at, a Star Wars spatula, and a “Kiss The Cook” apron, and I became the son of Han and Leia that turned in his lightsaber for a grill.  Very few people got the joke, but the apron would prove to be a brilliant later in the day (I’ll get to that later).

I stood in a very long line for a very short amount of time to purchase a ticket.  The Cajundome staff was getting people taken care of in swift fashion.  Once inside the venue, I ran into a good friend.  We talked for a bit and then I headed into the main area that featured vendors, cosplayers, artists, and celebs.  I made a quick trip around the entire area, seeing a nice line for the Cowabunga Factory (TMNT cosplayers), a long line for Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), and a ton of fans lining up for Jeremy Bulloch, Deep Roy, and all of the other wonderful celebrity guests.

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Once I figured out the general layout of the convention, I decided to look for a few more friends.  I ran into the wonderful ladies of Orion’s Envy, other friends that I haven’t seen in years, and a couple of folks that I see at just about every event.  I also took a few photos and checked out the vendor area.

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After playing catch up, I headed over to the table of the Library Bards.  Consisting of the lovely Bonnie Gordon and the dashing Xander Jeanneret, the Library Bards take pop hits and put a nerdy spin on them.  I spoke to Xander first, and I’ve got to admit that he was one of the friendliest people that I’ve ever talked with at a convention.  He even tolerated my terrible Star Wars jokes.

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Then I got to briefly talk to Bonnie.  She was also very tolerant of my Star Wars jokes.  Both she and Xander signed a poster for me and I also picked up a shirt from them.  To top it all off, I took selfies with both of them and even got a kiss from Bonnie (thanks, Kiss The Cook apron)!

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I waved goodbye to the Bards and then headed over to Chuck Huber’s table.  I’ve met Chuck on a couple of occasions before, but he never had any photos of him as Bones from Star Trek Continues.  Well, this time he had them, and I just had to snag one to add to my ever-growing STC collection.  I swear that I’m not an STC stalker!

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My day ended with hugs and goodbyes to all of my friends, and I jetted back home to assist my daughter with a few homecoming dance necessities.  Before getting home, though, I stopped in Rayne, LA for a quick bite at the local Mickey D’s.  If you know anything about Rayne, you know that they love frogs in that town, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to find Ronnie Macribbit sunning himself in front of McDonald’s.

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Louisiana Comic Con knocked it out of the park this year.  Although my time there was brief, I could see happy faces all over the place.  Despite large crowds, lines moved smoothly and quickly.  Panels appeared to be well attended and parking was great.  I can’t wait to see what the convention has in store for next year.  I just hope that I can attend for more than a few hours!

As always, thanks for reading.  My next conventions won’t be until next year (CyPhaCon and Southern Geek Fest), so expect me to tackle everything from DC Animated movies, the return of Ten Burning Questions, reviews of books, films, and even a couple of albums.  Oh, and I’ll be attending the Texas Renaissance Festival again this year.  I’ll be sure to post pics and a review for that as well!

Busy Week/Weekend Ahead!

I Feel The Need For Speed!

This is going to be a crazy week and an even crazier weekend.  I’ve been working a ton of overtime lately and haven’t been able to pay much attention to this blog, pop culture, my scouting leader duties, or, most importantly, my family.  From homecoming dances to camping out to trying my darnedest to make it over to Louisiana Comic Con, I’m going to need the speed of Barry Allen to get me through the next few days.

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I’ve completely missed out on the new season of Gotham.  That kills me, because that is one show that has consistently gotten stronger with each episode.  I also missed a couple of episodes last season, so I’ve decided that Gotham Blu-ray sets will be necessities this Christmas.  I think I’m just going to dive in from the beginning again and play catch up.

I’m also behind on Arrow and Supergirl.  Heck, the only show that I’ve really had a chance to watch recently is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that, my friends has not impressed me at all.  I was SOOOOOOO excited to see that Ghost Rider was going to be burning up the screen this season but so far his little run-ins with the ever-increasingly-annoying Quake have me completely fed up with the show.  What an utter waste of a great character!  Marvel needs to stick to films.  It’s what they do best.  Don’t even get me started on all of their Netflix shows, because I haven’t even seen the first season of Daredevil yet!

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So, with all of that out of my brain, I can say that I have managed to watch some excellent DC Animation films recently.  Justice League Vs. Teen Titans was a title that I missed on its initial release, but I managed to pick it up over the weekend and watched it with my kids.  We all loved it.  I’ll review it soon enough.  I also re-watched the excellent Throne of Atlantis and the surprisingly funny Justice League:  War.  These are two of my favorite DC titles, and I also recommend grabbing the comics that they are based on.

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This coming weekend is, of course, Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA.  I am going to do my best to make it out there, but it will probably only be for a few hours on Saturday.  Seth Gilliam had to cancel, but Sean Patrick Flanery (Young Indiana Jones, Boondock Saints) will be showing up as a late addition to the lineup.  With Gilliam out of the picture, my autograph quota has dropped, but I will still try to get a few good autographs.  I’m on the fence about a couple of the celebs, but I’ll solidify my choices before hitting the convention floor.  One thing is for sure, I’m going to check out the booth for the Library Bards featuring the lovely Bonnie Gordon and Xan-tastic Xander Jeanneret!

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I’ve got a ton of ideas for this blog, I just don’t have the time needed to work with it right now.  I promise that more posts about Ten Burning Questions are on the way, as well as a few convention reviews, film and Blu-ray/DVD release reviews, and other wonderfully pop culture things.

As always, thanks for reading.  Keep me in your thoughts and prayers this week as I attempt to survive!  I AM NOT the fastest man alive, but I do look good in red tights!!!!!