I went to the 9:50 screening of Deadpool last night. I managed to get the center seat in the back row. The theater was about 1/4 full, and even then there was a buzz in the air.
Deadpool, Marvel’s latest comic book character to receive the R-rated movie treatment due to violence and subject matter, drew genre appropriate previews. I couldn’t even absorb the body count before the actual film even started. If you like “shoot -em up bang! bang!” movies, this summer might be your best summer yet.
I have been enjoying the Deadpool teasers as they have been released, so I had a pretty good idea of how the movie was supposed to be, but we know how that can work. Best laid plans and all that. However, this particular movie delivered. Yeah, sure, this movie is about a wisecracking immortal a-hole comic book character, but the immortal wisecracking a-hole comic book character has style, and the film even managed to give us enough backstory to make Deadpool three dimensional. The movie felt like it was crafted by both the people in front of and behind the cameras. It comes across as the movie they meant it to be and wanted us to see.
It was entertaining from the opening credits all the way through the closing credit scroll (and beyond), so don’t be in a rush to leave your seat. Ryan Reynolds admirably breaks down the 4th wall, and this movie is most definitely a feather in his cap. 2016’s Deadpool is a far cry above the version he played in X-Men Origins, and the supporting cast, CGI, stunts and dialogue come together to make this film funny, action packed, and maybe, just maybe, my new favorite comic book to movie translation.
It is full of helpful life lessons, like math and advice on relationships, delivered with his never say die attitude. I’m just going to say it. If you like the comic books, you will love the film.
Your friendly neighborhood Major Stackings.
The latest entry in TT Games’ highly successful Lego video game series is Lego Marvel’s Avengers. Similar to the Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars games, Lego Marvel’s Avengers is an adaptation of multiple movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; specifically, the content of the game covers portions of Captain America: The First Avenger; Avengers; Thor 2: The Dark World;Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I recently picked up this game and played through the first few levels, and thought I would share my initial impressions.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a “review” of the video game; I wouldn’t consider myself qualified to score it relative to all other video games. As a fan of Marvel and of Lego video games in general, this is just my first impression on where this game falls among it’s peers.
Star Trek: The Next Generation had a Writer/Director’s guide, commonly referred to as the bible. Within this guide was a list of 13 things that were not to ever happen on TNG (i.e. commandments).
Here we will look at each commandment, and show when TNG maybe didn’t follow their own rules.
All blockquotes and episode details are from Memory-Alpha.
Rule #1. Stories which do not materially involve our own crew. Yes, we do like to see interesting new characters — but only when used in addition to an interesting story line involving our continuing characters.
TNG Episode 7×15 “Lower Decks”
Junior officers speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.
This episode only has the main cast in the periphery, and focuses on four junior officers and their attempt to receive a promotion.
If Daredevil managed to prove anything back when it was first released, it was that the ABC stylings of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter were not going to define the TV side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Significantly darker than anything we’d seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far but still managing to avoid the joyless grit of films like Man of Steel, Daredevil used it’s tone to tell a fascinating long form story with one of, if not the, best antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at that time. Sure, Daredevil had issues (ones that are becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of Jessica Jones), but it created a baseline for the Netflix/Marvel Studios shows that Jessica Jones adheres to nicely.
It is the same Hell’s Kitchen from Daredevil that we find ourselves in for much of Jessica Jones. We follow our titular character as she attempts to make a living for herself as a Private Eye, but Jessica is significantly more than she appears – gifted with super-strength and very limited flying abilities, she gave up her attempt at super-heroics after a prolonged encounter with a man who can control minds, Kilgrave, left her with severe PTSD.
In case that basic synopsis isn’t enough of a clue, the topics that Jessica Jones deals with are sensitive ones. Although the idea of mind control has been used in various ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before now, it’s never been explored in such detail – the implication of somebody being able to control not just your actions but your very thoughts and emotions is naturally horrifying, and the loss of agency that comes with that haunts everyone that Kilgrave uses. And it isn’t just an allegory for rape or sexual abuse – Jessica herself is a rape survivor thanks to Kilgrave, and much of the shows focus on human sexuality (and the diverse nature of it) shows us her taking that aspect of herself back from Kilgrave. One of my only concerns going into Jessica Jones was that this aspect of the show would be handled poorly, in an exploitative way or used for shock value, but I’m pleased to say that it isn’t.
If some of that sounds a little heavy for a superhero show then you’ll be pleased to find out that Jessica Jones isn’t just a superhero show, at least not in the way that you might expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very ‘comic book’ at times, with multiple characters having superpowers and the show having subtle (and not so subtle) links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe – but in much that same way that Daredevil was a crime show first and a superhero show second, Jessica Jones is very film noir for much of its run time, with Jessica the cynical and jaded narrator talking us through her thoughts. She’s a fascinating character to base a show around, in some ways the prototypical noir protagonist – deeply damaged and self-destructive (particularly in her coping mechanisms) but also truly heroic when given the chance, she isn’t so much an anti-hero as she is a hero who has been through too much, and thanks to an emotional and often understated performance from Krysten Ritter I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
The entire supporting cast is on the whole pretty great, particularly Mike Colter as bulletproof bar owner Luke Cage and Carrie-Anne Moss as cut-throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth, but special mention has to be made to David Tennant as Kilgrave. The way he is written and how that ties into the subtext of Jessica Jones already meant that Kilgrave was destined to be the best villain in a Marvel Studios production to date, but Tennant’s performance takes that and elevates the entire thing to a new level, making Kilgrave one of the best villains of any comic book property that I’ve ever seen. Kilgrave is broken at a fundamental level, petty and cruel and completely lacking any concept of right and wrong thanks to how long he has been abusing his powers, and the result of that is that he has no regard for anyone beyond what they can do for him. His motivations are simple and make sense in a twisted way once you understand the character, which just makes his particular brand of villainy all the more disturbing – because people like Kilgrave (sans powers, obviously) exist in the real world.
He is effectively the living embodiment of entitlement, a disgusting human being without a moral compass who decides what to do based on what he wants right now and nothing more – but he’s also charming when he wants to be, a true manipulator who hides just how nasty he actually is behind a carefully crafted façade of niceness and a level of self-pity that is both understandable and almost certainly unearned, and Tennant balances these two sides of the character perfectly. More impressively, Jessica Jones isn’t afraid to humanise Kilgrave without ever justifying him – his back story is a sympathetic one, but we see other characters with much the same story who have taken a very different path, and the show doesn’t try to explain away his actions by making you feel sorry for him.
The fact that everything about Kilgrave ends up tying into the subtext and themes of Jessica Jones is a testament to how well written the show actually is, never mind the consistently high quality of each episode . Whereas Daredevil peaked very early on and very slowly went downhill from there (I should mention here that Daredevil was still never anything less than good even in its worst moments), Jessica Jones starts off good and continuously gets better until it peaks around about episode nine with what I can only describe as some of the best few episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. It does drop in quality slightly over the last few episodes with the introduction of sub-plots that the show doesn’t need and an increased focus on the most tertiary of side characters taking some of the momentum out of the build up to the final confrontation, but even here it is amongst some of the best television of the year.
Jessica Jones isn’t perfect, but the minor flaws it contains are more than made up for by the multitude of strengths that come with them. In a time when television is regularly giving us shows that raise the bar for what the small screen can offer, Jessica Jones still manages to stand out as a show worth paying attention to, a legitimately great season that would work just as well on its own as it does as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jessica Jones is stronger and more confident in its first season than the vast majority of shows ever manage to be, and I can’t wait to see what the Netflix/Marvel Studios partnership brings us next.
For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.
Minority Report is set 10 years after the events that took place in the Steven Spielberg directed movie, but instead of Tom Cruise attempting to prevent crimes before they occur, it’s Meagan Good who’s serving up her own brand of justice as Detective Vega.
The show opens with a recap of the events of the movie and origin of the three Precogs. It then jumps 10 years into the future, where we learn at least one of the trio as left their island sanctuary. That island living was good for them, because they are all a lot thinner and more attractive.
Precog Dash is back in D.C. trying to make it on his own. He has flashes of murders, but he doesn’t get the whole picture (he needs his twin to put the pieces together). After witnessing a murder 40 minutes in the future, he dashes (pun intended) to try and stop. He arrives just a moment too late.
Enter Detective Vega (Meagan Good). She is a homicide detective investigating the recent murder. She lives in the shadow of the now defunct Precrime (the first fifteen minutes has several news reports in the background stating how things have become worse since Precrime closed). Murder is back with a vengeance in D.C. and Vega can’t help but marvel at the days when unnatural deaths were extinct in the nation’s capital. As she is leaving the scene of the murder she is followed by Dash. After an encounter in an vacant stairway he gives her a drawing of the killer. Vega is able to run down the killer with the image and begins looking for the mysterious informant. She easily finds him (no one can hide in the future!), moments before he has another Precog episode about a murder to take place the next day. Vega and Dash team up to stop the murder of a prominent politician and his wife.
Here are some things I noticed about the show:
- Dash’s murder insights come in a variety of timeframes. From several seconds, to forty minutes, to a day, but not the four days they enjoyed in the movie (for premeditated murder).
- Minority Report, the film, is famous for predicting several key technologies, such as multi-touch interfaces and breeding crack babies who can see the future. This pilot tries to capture that magic; with HUD contacts, small surveillance drones, and the future of advertising.
- Dash’s twin brother doesn’t look much like him as an adult (in the kid flashbacks, they are identical).
- They did manager to get one actor from the film. Daniel London reprises his role as Wally the Caretaker, at least for the pilot.
- The show seems to be going out of its way to make sure we know that Meagan Good is a woman.
Overall I thought the pilot was okay, but I feel like the detective with the none-cop partner has been done. I’m thinking of Sleepy Hollow, Forever (canceled), Castle, Bones, Due South, Rizolli and Isles, Fringe, just to name…a bunch. Are there any detectives out there who are partnered with other cops?
Anyways, Minority Report. If you loved the movie for all the elements that weren’t Tom Cruise, you might like the TV show.
Recently the live chat movie night has been reborn. Several movies have been watched and commented on. One recent one was the classic 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
This weekend, Fox released their latest Marvel comic book adaptation, a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. The previous two Fantastic Four films weren’t very well received, and Fox was likely hoping to cash in on the post-Iron Man comics boom to change that perception. If so, it didn’t work out as they’d hoped. What follows is a review of the movie, what went right, what went wrong, and where Fox may go from here.
The movie wasn’t terrible. Despite what you might read on Rotten Tomatoes, this wasn’t anywhere near the worst comic book movie I’ve seen; it’s not even the worst comic book movie Fox has ever released. For starters, it’s definitely an improvement on the previous Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver, not to mention Daredevil and Elektra. Having said that, it doesn’t hold up well at all compared to the Marvel Studios movies, or X-Men franchise. If anything, the movie was disappointingly mediocre. Mediocre, because it’s just kind of there: there’s a story, and it occurs, and there’s people and they get powers and they sort-of use them, but by the end of the film, you feel like they never got around to the interesting part. And disappointing, because it could have been better: it’s obvious that there was a much better movie just begging to be released, but we’ll likely never get to see it. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the trailer promised so much more: whatever movie that trailer was from, I would have much rather seen that than Fantastic Four.
In the end, it wasn’t a complete waste of time — it wasn’t offensively bad coughcoughGhostRider2coughcough. But I don’t really think there’s much of an audience that’s going to be happy to pay for this movie. If you’re a fan of the Fantastic Four, this movie will anger you, and if you’re a fan of superhero movies, it will disappoint you. (For reference: its the first Marvel movie since before Iron Man that I’m not going to see twice, and that includes Thor 2).
Rating: 2/10 (mostly for the acting and the first act); wait for Netflix.
For the rest of this review, there will be some broad spoilers, so if you’re planning to go see it, you might want to stop and come back later. But since you probably aren’t, you can read on…
I recently signed up for a trial membership of Kindle Unlimited to find new reading material. Like so many others, I discovered their “100,000s” of books were most ones no one had ever heard of. They have a few stand out series, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, but the vast majority of their unlimited selection is comprised of titles and authors few have heard of.
On a whim I decided to choose a science fiction series titled The Solarian War Saga by Felix R. Savage.
The first book, The Galapagos Incident introduces us to a future where humankind has spread out throughout the Solar System. The main protagonist is Elfrida Goto, a half Japanese woman who is working on the United Nations Venus Remediation Project. This is an effort to make Venus habitable. They acquire asteroids, load them with some kind of organisms that can survive the 600 degree weather, and crash them into Venus. Elfrida uses remote viewing (think Surrogates 2009) to attempt to acquire asteroids and relocate any settlers who may be already there. Things turn dicey when her remote body’s machine intelligence appears to have its own agenda and goes rogue.
The series tries to imagine a future where technology has taken us to the point of remote sensory, bionic implants, and highly advanced artificial intelligence. These intelligences are so advanced that the United Nations (the supreme authority on everything in this future) has placed bans on just how smart machines can be. This was a direct response to some incident on Mars that resulted in all colonies being lost there and the planet going dark.
The writing might lack a little at times, and the science doesn’t hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but I enjoyed the series none the less. After reading the The Galapagos Incident I continued on to The Vesta Conspiracy, The Mercury Rebellion, and finished with the short story prequel Crapkiller (an ill advised title in my mind). People who enjoy a good space opera might enjoy visiting the future of Felix R. Savage for a few books.
The first book is available for free on Amazon, and the series is available via an Amazon Unlimited subscription (or trial).
From the moment it was announced, Ant-Man was viewed as a bit of a risky move by Marvel. Even for a comic book movie, a guy that gets really small and talks to ants seemed like a bit of a stretch. Could they make it work? Would this be the beginning of the end for Marvel?
Of course not. Marvel doesn’t seem capable of making a genuinely terrible movie, and Ant-Man was far, far away from terrible. Following up on epic adventures like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel gives us a small, fun, and funny heist movie that more than delivers.
The short version: 9/10, definite watch, and do so in 3-D if possible. One of my favorite MCU movies yet, largely because it’s something different from what we’ve gotten so far. For more details, keep reading.
Note: There will be very minor spoilers here for some elements of the movie; I will try not to give away anything major, but you may want to skip this one until you’ve seen it. If you’re willing to risk it, click on down:
The film that put James Cameron on the map, The Terminator is quite rightly seen as a science fiction classic, a film that has had enormous impact on modern pop culture thanks to both the lasting impression that The Terminator made and the huge career boost that James Cameron received afterwards. Without The Terminator, I very much doubt that we would have seen the rest of James Cameron’s filmography come to fruition, never mind the number of actors that he has since helped turn into film stars.
The story follows Kyle Reese as he travels back in time from a post-apocalyptic future in which an artificial intelligence known as Skynet has taken over the world. His mission is to protect Sarah Connor from a killing machine known as a Terminator that was also sent back in time to kill her thanks to the fact that she is destined to give birth to the leader of the human resistance.
The time travel mechanic is a creative and tidy way to set the story in motion, and allows James Cameron to hint at the much larger world he has created without it getting in the way of the progression of the story and the momentum that is being built from the very start. It also allows Cameron to easily explain why Kyle can’t call for back up, and why the police and authorities are simply unable to help – it’s a very smart way of ensuring that their is no easy way out for the main characters, keeping them isolated and on the run for the entire movie.
Which is important, because at it’s core The Terminator is little more than a slasher flick with a science fiction flair. The Terminator itself is the ultimate slasher bad guy, a silent, expressionless, intimidating and virtually unstoppable killing machine that is never too far behind our heroes, who are hopelessly outmatched. The best example of this is during the now iconic assault on the police station – even dozens of cops on their home turf can’t do anything to stop the Terminator, really upping the ante and making the Terminator feel as dangerous and unstoppable as it is meant to be, while at the same time showing us how capable Kyle Reese must be to have successfully fought the Terminator off several times before now.
Potentially more important, The Terminator manages to avoid the casual misogyny and conservative politics that are now synonymous with the slasher genre, defining itself as markedly different during a time when slasher flicks saturated the market – no doubt a part of why The Terminator was both a critical and commercial success in it’s time and why it still stands up as a solid piece of film making over 30 years after it’s initial release.
It’s also worth pointing out how well developed the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor is in The Terminator when compared to Terminator Genisys, and it’s mostly because of the subtle but important character work that the The Terminator does with Sarah Connor both before and after her first encounter with Kyle Reese. You can understand completely why a vulnerable and scared Sarah Connor would seek comfort in the only man in the world that knows what she is going through, but the equivalent of this in Terminator Genisys is (like everything else in the film) rushed, forced and ultimately unsatisfying.
And the only reason that this all works as intended is because of Cameron’s ability to recognise and work within his limits. His original idea for The Terminator also included a liquid metal robot that would go on to be the primary antagonist in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but he cut it because he knew that the visual effects available in 1984 weren’t good enough to do the idea justice. This restraint is noticeable throughout The Terminator, which saves it’s limited special effects for important moments and manages to do more with it’s modest budget (just $6 million!) than films that cost upwards of 20 times as much – I’m looking at you, Terminator Genisys.
I still stand by my opinion that The Terminator should never have been a franchise, with the phrase “diminishing returns” very much applicable to the series after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that’s neither here nor there – The Terminator is a testament to the importance of inexperienced directors being given the opportunity to prove themselves, showing us the potential longevity of a film when an idea is executed well by someone who knows what they are doing. Even if The Terminator has since been overshadowed by it’s own sequel, it’s still an important and entertaining film that shouldn’t go under appreciated.
For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.