The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Apocalypse - - What, Now? - A Retro Review

This is a review I had planned for months. To coincide with the release of "X-Men Apocalypse", I was going to take on the 90's four-part "epic", "Beyond Good and Evil". However, as "Apocalypse" fast approaches, as the reviews pour in, I find that not only do I wish to save my $13 by not seeing it, I also don't want to waste what little free time I have with it. That's why I have yet to write my "Civil War" review, because I work a job that often keeps me busy for twelve to fourteen hours every day, and the rest of that time is spent sleeping. At this point, only a cameo from Deadpool could get me in there.

So before I dive into this "epic", I have two confessions to make. Number One: I never liked Apocalypse. But that's hardly a revelation as I have blogged about this before.

Apocalypse in a nutshell.

Second, and this one is probably going to upset a few of you; I don't like the 90's X-Men TAS. I often cited it as an example of the wrong way to adapt a comic book for television animation (although, I think it's safe to say that there are two extremes to bad adaptations and "Ultimate Spider-Man", "Avengers Assemble" and the like are at the opposite end). It aped what the comic books of that era were doing more than anything, and this was the era where Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld reigned supreme; the era where Chris Claremont was forced off the book after making the X-Men a success. More to the point, there wasn't enough diversity of characters on the team they chose, which was Jim Lee's Blue Strike Force along with Storm and Jean Grey. I don't mean diversity as in ethnicity in this case, but diversity of character. The team had two mysterious recalcitrant loners whom both pined for women they couldn't have relationships with. When Wolverine is on your team, Gambit is redundant as he is pretty much the exact same character, only with all of Wolverine's most obnoxious traits taken to eleven. I would rather have swapped out Gambit in favor of Colossus or even Nightcrawler (whom this show managed to make depressing instead of the trickster-like swashbuckler that Claremont and Cockrum made a generation of fans fall in love with). To make matters worse, when they did adapt classic stories like the Dark Phoenix Saga, they managed to get everything there superficially while losing the actual soul the original stories possessed.

Now that I have angered you sufficiently, let me talk about "Beyond Good and Evil" itself. I had initially intended to follow the format that I did with "The Greatest Evil", "Crime Wave", and "In Zarm's Way" but those leave me spending at least two hours per episode and this is a four-parter. A very painful four-parter. So I just watched them again, but I don't want to spend hours dissecting every scene and line of dialogue. Although, I will say that Apocalypse's dialogue is almost as funny as the Headman's.

This is one of those epic events that some types of fans love where most of the show's major villains are brought together into some kind of grand alliance. In "Beyond Good and Evil" we are given Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, Magneto, Mystique, Sabretooth, the Nasty Boys, as well as an awkward cameo by Deathbird whom was shown in a menacing scene at the end of the two-parter, "Sanctuary", really amounted to nothing... I will talk a little bit more about that later.

Another weakness of all this is that we were never given a real reason for all of these personalities to come together. Sabretooth works as a mercenary, and the Nasty Boys are just minions but we're never given a reason for Mr. Sinister or Mystique to be there. Well, let me walk that back a little, we are given a reason for Sinister to work with Apocalypse, but this was in the era where his motives, origins, and whom he was as a character had yet to be defined. The same year this four-parter aired, Marvel Comics revealed that Sinister's ultimate goal was to create the perfect mutant, using Scott Summers and Jean Grey's DNA, in order to destroy Apocalypse. But X-Men the Animated Series introduced Sinister years before the comics gave him an origin and a motive. This also explains the mess the comics found themselves in during this era. But here, Sinister wanted to help Apocalypse wipe out and re-create existence because... reasons.

Magneto's motivations for being there change within the four-parter. At first we're told he's there because Apocalypse promised to resurrect his deceased wife, Magda. But two episodes later, Magda is forgotten and we're told Apocalypse promised Magneto a world in which mutants ruled.

As for Mystique, they never even pay lip service as to why she's there.

Apocalypse, himself, is a mess in this four-parter. Let's start with the fact that this isn't the present day Apocalypse, but the one from 3999 that stole Cable's computer and traveled through time. It leads me to wonder where the present-day Apocalypse is. Well, the last time we had an episode that focused on him, he was shot out into space by his own spaceship whom Beast had fallen in love with (I don't know... I don't know...), before seeing him briefly on a star ship with Deathbird. I had assumed that he got picked up by her and they formed an alliance. Or perhaps 3999 Apocalypse forged the alliance, but I'm getting ahead of myself... more on the time travel aspects in a bit.

What's Apocalypse's motive in this? Well, up until now and throughout all of his appearances in comic books since his very first appearance, all subsequent appearances in the comics and all media, Apocalypse has always been the ultimate darwinist. He believes in survival of the fittest. Only the strong shall survive. Regular humans are weak, they should be destroyed. Only the most powerful mutants should survive to make future generations more powerful. I may not like Apocalypse as a character, but at least this motive fits in with the X-Men's themes of evolution. But, in "Beyond Good and Evil" Apocalypse took a very strange detour.

Apparently Apocalypse was able to keep this pyramid a secret for thousands of years.

In the year 3999, Cable invades Apocalypse's secret pyramid in Egypt and attempts to finally destroy the monster, but Apocalypse gets the drop on him, steals his computer and as he prepares to kill Cable, Cable shouts at him that he will never win. Then Apocalypse pauses to consider this... on a cosmic level, before using Cable's computer to blink himself to a weird temple that exists outside of time. Cable shouts that Apocalypse is evil, but Apocalypse disagrees that he is malevolent... just that he simply is who he is, he thinks himself above good and evil... then he stops and starts to consider Cable's accusation. So what conclusion does Apocalypse reach? That he is the personification of evil and that an elemental balance between good and evil will always deny him final victory. Um, what? Why? How? Why? Que? A villain who admits that he's evil doesn't work outside of comedy. I have no problem with Negaduck or Evil Emperor Zurg reveling in their evil, but a dramatic villain like Apocalypse whom believes in social darwinism believes that he is making the world a better place. It's messed up, it is evil, but he wouldn't think that he himself is evil. Hitler didn't think he was evil. Hell, in no version of the story does the Devil think he's evil. The Shadows from "Babylon 5" had similar motivations, as darwinists whom would destroy entire races they believed were weak, they felt they were helping the strong thrive and creating a better universe. But no, all of this is out the window and Apocalypse is now the personification of evil... and the X-Men are agreeing with him, even with Beast pointing out that once Apocalypse is destroyed, evil will simply take on another form. The fact of the matter is that Apocalypse was the wrong villain to tell a story like this with, and for that matter, the X-Men were the wrong franchise. You can get away with it when it's the Justice League or the Avengers, and while the X-Men are heroes, it was never about good vs evil... it was about acceptance, bigotry, and clashing ideologies... and while some of those ideologies were evil, nobody who clung to them believed they were anything but the heroes of their own story.


So what's Apocalypse's grand scheme? To abduct all of the most powerful telepaths in existence, from across time, bring them outside of time, kill them all at once so he can stop time, end existence, and re-create the universe in his own image. This is how he plans to get around the elemental balance of good and evil. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell a social darwinist reaches this ridiculous conclusion.

The time travel in this story is a mess. Now, I know time travel is difficult. I know it has a history of being misused in X-Men stories, but this is whole new levels of bullshit. Cable and the X-Men travel to ancient Egypt where they destroy Apocalypse's pyramid where he keeps his lazarus chamber in order to prevent him from becoming immortal and wrecking havoc on the world. They succeed but 3999 Apocalypse is now outside of the time and thus immune. When he is finally defeated, he is forced to exit the axis and back in the time stream, with his pyramid destroyed in the past, he ceases to exist. Cable and the X-Men erase Apocalypse from history. And yet Warren Worthington III still has metal wings and blue skin. There are no consequences to any of this; although for some reason, Xavier's legs work again.

If you are going to use time travel in your series, you need to establish clear rules and consider the consequences for your actions. This isn't me demanding closed-loop time travel ala "Gargoyles" and nothing but. "X-Men" already established in previous episodes that changing history was possible three times, and they dealt with the consequences of those changes fairly well, I might quibble here and there but they were consistent with their own rules. But this... nothing. It was poorly thought out spectacle.

This was intended to be the grand finale for the series. I think the idea was simply "let's throw in as many villains as we can for one big brawl". But, as a grand finale, it would have failed. Why? Notice that I barely talked the X-Men themselves. They barely factored into the story. I mean, they were in it and they did things, but this was mostly Cable and Apocalypse's story. Yes, we get Scott and Jean's second wedding, but then Sinister kidnaps Jean because Apocalypse "TOLD HIM TO!" and then neither Scott nor Jean factor much into the story ever again. Beast provides techno-jargon, but Bishop's sister, Shard, plays a larger part. The X-Men themselves don't even factor into the final battle with Apocalypse, except for Wolverine. So it's Wolverine, Cable, Magneto, Mystique, and Bishop battling Apocalypse... and only one of these characters is one of the series' regulars. Jean Grey gets kidnapped. Scott whines about it but doesn't really do anything. Beast provides techno-jargon. Gambit, Rogue, Storm, Jubilee, etc don't really do much except participate in some small skirmishes if that. Hell, Psylocke gets more to do and this is both her first appearance and an extended cameo where she winds up as just one more kidnapped psychic.

Speaking of cameos. Remember that weird Jim Carrey style janitor of the time stream that annoyed Bishop (and the audience) for four episodes? Then he transformed into Immortus. I didn't know who Immortus was. And, even as a comics reader, it wasn't for another fifteen years before I found out who Immortus was, and that he was another identity for Kang the Conquerer? And, to this day, I have no idea why he was here. He contributed nothing.

This was bad, folks. This was so, so bad. I'd be more lenient if this was an 80's cartoon. But in an era where "Batman the Animated Series" and "Gargoyles" were on the air, you don't just shunt your main characters off to the side and let the occasional guest stars take over for what you planned to be your grand finale. Yeah, Spider-Man may not be about dimension hopping and wars for the fate of all existence, but at least the finale of Spider-Man: TAS was still about Spider-Man. At least the finales for the 90's Iron Man and Fantastic Four cartoons didn't shunt their characters off to the side. Hell, even the finale of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon didn't do that, and that was airing around the same time.

Granted, this turned out not to be the finale, and the show then went on to end with a whimper. But looking back at the show, especially it's first two or three seasons, you can see why, despite all of it's flaws, it made the X-Men household names. "Beyond Good and Evil" just betrayed the very premise and themes of the series, and grand finale or not, really had no business being a part of the show. It's weird. It's just bad. I don't know what went on here, what the thought processes were, but the show's audience deserved better than this.

Awful. Just awful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ponderings On a Special Snowflake

Ever since "Agents of SHIELD" started, I believed that something was incredibly wrong with the show. The problems centered around Chloe Bennet's character. Skye aka Mary Sue Poots aka Daisy Johnson aka Quake aka Special Snowflake. From Day One the character didn't work. Chloe Bennet never once displayed the acting chops to carry the show. And yet, despite all the negative feedback, and not just from me, but from the press. Despite it all, the character wasn't killed off, or downplayed. She was pushed to the forefront. Somebody there must have really liked her.

The other day, she made the following statement at Wizard World Des Moines:

"I don’t know. People who make movies for Marvel, why don’t you acknowledge what happens on our show? Why don’t you guys go ask them that? Cause they don’t seem to care!"

And then she didn't stop, she kept on going.

"The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to pretend that everything is connected, but then they don’t acknowledge our show at all. So, I would love to do that, but they don’t seem to keen on that idea."

She sounds angry, doesn't she? Maybe she's sticking up for her co-workers; but I don't think this is the case. I think she's realized that Marvel Studios isn't going to make her a movie star. Now, this is all conjecture on my part. But if you'll allow me.

Ike Perlmutter is the CEO of Marvel Entertainment. Up until about a year ago, when Kevin Feige split Marvel Studios from Marvel Entertainment, Perlmutter had a lot of control over the movie division. If Disney wanted Perlmutter gone, it would probably involve a pay out of at least a couple billion dollars. What kind of problems did Perlmutter cause? Well, he's the reason there was no Black Widow movie for such a long time, and why she had little to no merchandise. He was the reason Joss Whedon left (and now Whedon has expressed interest in returning). He's the one that told Marvel Comics to downplay mutants in favor of Inhumans due to their pissing contest with Fox. But, most interesting, he was the one that pushed for that Inhumans movie that Feige recently took off the slate indefinitely.

Now, how much of that is Hollywood politics and how much isn't we can't really know. But the enmity between Feige and Perlmutter is not a secret. Beyond that, the worst kept secret in Hollywood is that Marvel Studios doesn't care for AoS at all. Joss Whedon has slammed it. The Russo Brothers have slammed it. Feige has never been particularly kind to it... he's praised the Netflix shows, but was always very conspicuously silent about AoS.

And even more recently, AoS was renewed for a fourth season while Agent Carter has been cancelled, and the "Marvel's Most Wanted" AoS spin-off starring Mockingbird has been scrapped. It was also announced that amid record low ratings, AoS was moving to a new time-slot at 10 pm. That's a death slot. It's obvious to me that ABC has no further interest in programming based on Marvel. It's also obvious to me that ABC plans to bleed off whatever episode order they have for AoS, and then at four seasons, they have enough episodes to sell the re-runs into syndication... this is a pretty common practice. Usually if you make it to three seasons, a fourth is all but guaranteed because there is money to make in syndication. But after the fourth season, the show is done.

I think Ike Perlmutter and Chloe Bennet hoped the show would run for seven seasons. By the time it ended, it would have been just in time for that scheduled "Inhumans" movie to begin production. I think Perlmutter told Chloe Bennet that he would make her a movie star. Sort of like when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ran for seven seasons before becoming a movie series. She wouldn't have been the main character in "Inhumans" because Ike doesn't like women-led superhero movies, but she'd have likely been a very key player.

Chloe Bennet just bit the hand that fed her, because she probably realizes that her dreams of becoming a movie star are now over. Or, at least, not going to happen at Marvel. Her resume is already very thin. I suppose her career could one day surge, but given that she doesn't seem to possess much in the way of talent, it's not likely. She's already a failed pop star.

Long story short. I think Ike Perlmutter was the one that liked her. Ike Perlmutter wanted this "Inhumans" movie. I think Ike Perlmutter said he would make Chloe a movie star. I think Chloe Bennet really wanted to become a movie star. I think Chloe Bennet sees AoS as her paying her dues, and the path to movie stardom. I don't think any of this is happening anymore. But, ultimately, I think this is why this Skye character was shoved at us.

But this is all just a theory, I could be wrong.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Star Wars Rebels - Season Two

Sometimes your mindset can affect your enjoyment of something. Case in point, "Star Wars Rebels" season one. I didn't think it was bad when I watched it, but I had trouble enjoying it. Well, I'm here to eat crow because I recently re-watched it and, while some of my complaints about Ezra Bridger still stand, I was wondering what I was talking about. Honestly, I was still bitter towards the franchise as a whole. The sour taste of the prequels was still in my mouth.

What has happened since then? Well, Marvel Comics has put out some excellent comic books, particularly "Darth Vader" as written by Kieron Gillen. Rebels' season two kicking off with the impressive "Siege of Lothal" two-parter which also helped fix Darth Vader in my eyes. Even little things like the Death Battle between Darth Vader and Dr. Doom reminded me of what I enjoyed about the franchise to begin with and why. Also, a little movie called "The Force Awakens" which I really ended up loving.

As such, I recently re-watched "Rebels" season one on Blu-ray and I loved it. I was wondering what the hell I was complaining about. My comments about the Inquisitor (the Grand Inquisitor as revealed in season two) about becoming very Saturday Morning made me face palm. He only had two actual encounters with the crew of the Ghost before Grand Moff Tarkin showed up. Honestly, I must have been letting my bitterness towards the prequels and other recent Lucas approved entries into the franchise cloud my judgement. So, I would like to retroactively raise my grade to an A-. This is a quality action-adventure animated series. Probably the best one to air since the wave of "Spectacular Spider-Man", "Young Justice", "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes", etc. So, mea culpa.

I watched season two in a few large batches. A lot of it has blended together, but it was pretty damn enjoyable. I'll keep it to the highlights.

"Siege of Lothal" was a terrific opening that reminded you of why Darth Vader was and still is one of cinema's most iconic villains, if not the most iconic villains. When I left him off my Top Twenty-Five Movie Villains list and video, well that was me being mad at the prequels. He definitely deserved to be in the Top Ten based on the Original Trilogy alone. "Siege of Lothal" helped remind me of that. Re-introducing Darth Vader as a specter of death in a galaxy far, far away. James Earl Jones returning to voice Vader just helped authenticate it. Sam Witwer turns in a great performance as Emperor Palpatine, so much so that until I looked at the end credits, I thought it was Ian McDiarmid.

The crew of the Ghost also gets fleshed out alongside the universe. We're no longer confined to the Lothal System, although it will still play a large part. We visit other worlds, meet old and new characters alike. Princess Leia makes a welcome appearance midway through the season, and a returned Maul (no longer Darth) makes an appearance in the finale where it becomes clear he will play a larger part... and that is not unwelcome as "Rebels" infuses him with something "The Phantom Menace" did not, a personality. Personality goes a long way.

I should also discuss Ahsoka Tano. Now, I didn't care much for "Clone Wars" at all. Honestly, it's part of an era that I don't care for, but I schooled myself on Ahsoka and watched some of her essential episodes, and I'm glad I did because I found a very likable character. Also it made Anakin Skywalker a likable character, the character Obi Wan Kenobi was talking about in "A New Hope". And I'm glad I watched them because it made Ahsoka's fateful encounter with Darth Vader in the season finale "Twilight of the Apprentice" that much more powerful.

Lots of characters get fleshed out. A highlight in "Matters of Honor" when Zeb and Agent Kallus are stranded together on a moon of Geonosis and must rely on each other. It's a plot I've seen a million times before, but Zeb and especially Kallus benefit from it and by extension, through Kallus, the Empire benefits from it. It's not often we get into the mindset of an Imperial and see what motivates them, their nationalism, how they feel about the orders they are given. While we can hardly excuse Kallus's actions regardless of the fact that he was following orders, we gain an understanding of the man. Likewise we understand Zeb, played by the always fantastic Steve Blum, more.

The new Inquistors are fun, but don't have the air of the Grand Inquistor. The Fifth Brother was kind of a throwaway, but I enjoyed the Seventh Sister, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar... "Star Wars" has always lacked women as villains, so it was nice to see one... and I winced as she suffered a brutal death at Maul's hands.

Kanan and Hera remain the strongest of our protagonists, and I eagerly anticipate seeing where Kanan goes considering what happened to him at the season's climax. Also, I recommend Greg Weisman's excellent "Kanan" comic book. I've warmed up to Ezra a little, but he's still not my favorite character. But that being said, he's finally in a spot where I can say he's got potential. We'll see where he goes from here, but I hope that no punches are pulled.

Good stuff. Good show. I look forward to season three.

Next: "Civil War".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Visual Genius

I keep hearing all the time that "at least Snyder is a visual genius" and, honestly, I don't even believe that. His movies are ugly to look at. Drab. Dark. He's addicted to blue gels on his camera lenses. They're repulsive to look at.

Darkness works wonders with a character like Batman, but Superman is supposed to be colorful. It creates contrast. Superman is the day to Batman's night. I don't even like Superman at all, and I feel I understand him better than Snyder does. Look at this, Superman fans, I am defending your hero from the damage Snyder has dealt him. This is what it has come to.

AMC's "Better Call Saul" has a cast and crew of creative geniuses. The best cinematography on television. A single episode has a tiny fraction of the budget that BvS has. Both seasons probably have only a small fraction of that budget. And yet, Snyder, the so-called visual genius couldn't come up with better shots than the average on "Saul".

These shots are amazing and I wouldn't mind having them on my wall. Snyder hasn't created any shot that comes close.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Zack Snyder Is a Piece of Shit

I just came home from "Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice", and I am going to open this up by saying that it was the most miserable movie going experience of my life. And I didn't expect it to be. I watched reviews, read reviews, I knew just about everything going into it. Well, most things. I felt like I had already seen it, so I figured that I could enjoy it as a bad movie and laugh at it's ineptitude. And while there were a handful of moments where I did exactly that, I was mostly denied.

The cast was mostly fine. Ben Affleck turned in a good performance in a movie that ended up failing him. Cavill, well, I'm indifferent towards him and wish he had a chance to really show off what he could do with this character in a good movie. I'd need to see more of Gal Gadot to formulate an opinion, because she didn't get to do anything of note... she didn't need to be in this movie. Jesse Eisenberg was the worst villain I've ever seen in a comic book movie... I don't know what the hell he was trying to do there, I think they may have been trying to replicate Heath Ledger's Joker but they failed miserably.

You remember the dark age of comic books? The 90's? When everything had to be darkness, death, destruction, carnage, and nihilism to show the world how "kewl", "mature", and "badass" comics were. Those comics were all terrible, they are a stain on the industry. Well, Zack Snyder took that era and made a movie out of it... though it felt less like a movie and more like three hours of a forty-year-old pretentious fanboy crashing his action figures against each other.

There is so much to say, it's almost all been said. I could drone on and on about Batman murdering people (but, if so, why is the Joker still alive?) Or Lex Luthor's jar of piss. The awful soundtrack. The fact that Superman kills someone on screen and a few scenes later says he didn't kill anybody. Um, were the editors watching the movie? There were no establishing shots, scenes just switched in a jumbled and confused manner. There was absolutely no reason for Wonder Woman to be there besides setting up her movie, and she didn't really do anything.

And it was boring. My god, it was boring. The movie just kept going and it refused to end.

But I'm going to mention something that I haven't seen get brought up. There's a character in it who survived the destruction of the Wayne Tower in Metropolis, but lost his legs in the process. The event is treated like September 11th. This man is treated like a 9/11 survivor. He visits a memorial for those lost before vandalizing a Superman statue in red paint with the words 'FALSE GOD' and immediately, he's arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. Um, he vandalized a statue. If I go to the Lincoln Memorial and spray paint it with pro-Confederate bullshit I'm not getting charged with making a terrorist threat. He's later bailed out by Lex Luthor who turns him into a suicide bomber for an attack on the Capitol... and yes, this man does it willingly. Zack Snyder took a character he depicted as an expy of a September 11th survivor and turned him into a suicide bomber.

I don't know how it happened, I don't know how he did it; but it happened, he did it. Zack Snyder managed to prove himself to be worse than Michael Bay. It's amazing. It's tremendous. There are not enough adjectives in the world. Allow me to explain: Michael Bay is a juvenile sleaze that has no idea how to construct a story, flesh out characters, or direct action sequences that cohere. Michael Bay's audience consists of angry, young, horny white teenage boys looking for something to masturbate to. That's Bay's audience. Bay admits it. Bay wears it on his sleeve. Bay doesn't care. Zack Snyder, on the other hand, makes his movies for the exact same audience, but insists he is some artistic genius. Zack Snyder is a pretentious asshole, he's Michael Bay if Bay deluded himself into thinking he's Stanley Kubrick. But he's not. He's just some schmo. A deeply stupid schmo.

Snyder says that he is depicting these characters as they truly are. But if you thought Superman murdering Zod was bad, this Batman kills people. A lot of people. Dozens of people. He wields a gun, holds a man hostage with it, and then shoots the gas tank on a man’s flamethrower, killing him. I'm pretty sure that Batman's refusal to kill is one of the central aspects of his entire character. Because if it isn't, and he does kill then I ask again why is the Joker still alive in this universe?

Snyder must have caught some WB higher ups with their dicks in some kids. I'm 100% certain this is how he's still getting work. The fact that his next dream project is an adaptation of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" explains so much.

When "Man of Steel" came out, my response to it provoked some negative reactions. I was even accused of taking perverse pleasure at the thumping it was taking. I actually wasn't, but I am now. I do admit it. I love that this movie is being trashed. I love that the reviews are scathing. I love that in all likelihood, while it will have a strong opening weekend, word of mouth and terrible reviews are going to sink it. This movie is heading towards an under-performance that is sure to disappoint the suits at Warner Bros. Board members are likely having meetings as we speak, as they have a five year financial plan depending on a DC Cinematic Universe. Someone's head is going to roll. Who's? Considering all of the criticism centers on the fact that they put an incompetent charlatan in charge as their guiding hand, probably Snyder's.

The worst thing about this is that I do not want these movies to fail. Yes, I understand that my hatred of Superman is a matter of public record but I also believe that competition is a good thing. Good movies based on DC characters mean Marvel ups their game to make better movies, and then DC does the same. DC's movies are awful, meanwhile Marvel Studios is getting way too cocky for their own good.

Here's the thing though. I love Batman. And while I don't like Superman, and I'm indifferent to Wonder Woman... I recognize that these are three of the most iconic characters in the world. They mean a lot to many people. Those people deserve to have good movies about these icons. It might not be my thing, but their fans deserve to receive what I, as a Captain America fan, am currently getting. They deserve to receive what I, as a Gargoyles fanatic, could only dream of having.

As we left the theater, my brother and I overheard a woman who saw it with her husband say the following:

"That movie was choppy, dreadful, and pretentious! I don't even like superheroes and I felt bad for people that do!"

And that's how I feel. Superman fans, let me extend a hand of friendship to you and say that while I don't like your hero, you deserve better. I want you to have better. An icon deserves better. He doesn't deserve Zack Snyder. Nobody deserves Zack Snyder.

At the end of the day "Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" is a deeply stupid and offensive movie made by a deeply stupid man.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Where I've Been

I have a new job that involves a lot of over time. Sadly it means less time is being devoted to this blog. But I'm not abandoning the blog all together, I will have some content coming up. Another retro-review is in the works, and I am timing the release of it to coincide with the premiere of "X-Men: Apocalypse"... and that's the only hint you get (admittedly, it's a pretty large hint).

So what are my thoughts and musings about recent pop culture?

1. I loved "Deadpool". I saw it opening weekend, haven't had the time to go see it again but I want to. It's definitely a must-buy for my Blu-ray collection.

2. Season eleven of "Supernatural" has been on fire. I'm not sure what happened, if there was a shake up behind-the-scenes, or what. But it's been the shot in the arm that this show has needed for years. It's easily the best season since the fifth.

3. Downton Abbey had a good ending, but not great. I'm not entirely sure what I expected, but not everybody should have gotten a happy ending. Things just seemed to work themselves out.

4. This year's Oscars were very boring. I didn't have a horse in the race. We all knew DiCaprio was going to get his pity Oscar so he wouldn't have to play a role where he literally kills himself to win. But he should have gotten one years ago for his role in "Django Unchained". Not for this. I'm glad "Mad Max: Fury Road" cleaned up at the technical awards. But the highlight of the evening was Morricone finally winning an Oscar... screw Leo, Morricone deserved one forty years ago.

5. "Better Call Saul" continues to be the best thing on television. Season two is, so far, everything I hoped for even when I didn't know exactly what I was hoping for. Some of TV's best acting, and definitely TV's best cinematography. This has to be the most talented team working on television, and everyone should be watching this.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lucifer - Thoughts, Musings, Opinions

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
Lucifer loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red & yellow, black & white
they're precious in his sight
Lucifer loves the little children of the world
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

How did this show come about? Anti-hero led television shows are popular. And the Fox Network loves their police procedurals. And comic book adaptations are popular... which is probably the only reason Fox paid for the rights to a comic book they probably wouldn't have needed to buy the rights to at all to make this show. Just drop the names "Amendiel", "Mazikeen", and "Lux" and you have the exact same show without having to pay DC Comics, Warner Bros, Neil Gaiman, and maybe Mike Carey a lot of money. It's not like Gaiman created the character, Lucifer Morningstar is in the public domain.

I probably shouldn't curse in a review that I want to be at least semi-professional, but why does Lucifer give a fuck about these people?  Why does he give a shit about punishing the wicked? To back up slightly, when the show opens, Lucifer is a sex hound who has had a number of affairs (I will admit that it's been a while since I read the comic book, but I do not recall him ever bedding any humans or showing any interest in bedding humans... but hey, what should I expect from the showrunner behind "Californication"?), and a pop star he had a fling with is murdered... Lucifer, feeling sympathy decides to make her killer pay and teams up with a detective in the LAPD played by Lauren German whom is the only human he met impervious to his charms... and he develops a bit of an infatuation, and said detective's seven-year-old daughter comes to love him after Lucifer helps her out with a bully. Meanwhile my eyes and ears are bleeding as I watch this. Why couldn't that child have been Elaine Belloc... human offspring of the archangel, Michael, with hidden powers? Well, I suppose she could be, but....

I'm not going to say the Lucifer of the comic was some evil villain... but he definitely wasn't a nice guy, or a good guy. He hated his father, he was ruthless, he had a sense of fair play but twisted... exact words. He wasn't interested in buying or corrupting souls... he just wanted to give his hated father the finger, even to the point where he created his own universe to rob Yahweh of his "monopoly"... and his existence came with one rule: worship nothing. Ultimately, he's a conceited prick rebelling against his conceited father. As David Easterman, a character who sees himself as a victim of Lucifer, puts it: "when the devil wants you to do something, he doesn't lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to hell". The Lucifer of the comic book is not a nice person. He doesn't care about humans. He doesn't care about anyone, really. Except God... because what he's doing is a temper tantrum on cosmic levels.

BTW, Lucifer's supernatural ability to charm just about any woman into bed, or anyone into doing anything he wants. The episode ends with him going for therapy, and paying the therapist for services rendered with sex... all through his devilish charm. Didn't we just see such a thing on Netflix's "Jessica Jones" TV series without it being played for laughs? In fact, on "Jessica Jones", Kilgrave and his ability were chilling. Now, I'm not saying I expect good behavior from Lucifer, but he wasn't doing this in the comic book... and the way the comic book was written, were he doing this, it wouldn't have been played for laughs. It would have been chilling because, while the comic book tried and succeeded in making its title character compelling, it never really tried to make him likable. The show is trying to make him lovable and sympathetic.

Mazikeen is well cast, but she's shunted off to the side when she should be the "love interest" of our devilish protagonist, not some LA cop. In the comics, she was a daughter of Lilith and became defacto leader of an army of demons... all while loyal to her lord and lover. Maybe she'll be given more to do here later on, but I already dislike the way she's being written.

The comic book was very existential, very philosophical, and very smart. This show is none of those things. None. I'm not against changing things for an adaptation, most adaptations do it because different mediums come with different sets of rules, requirements, pacing, etc. But this show changed the source material on a fundamental level, the very premise of the show is divorced from the comic book. I didn't like this. I really, really didn't like this. The Fox Network probably wouldn't air this if it wasn't adapted into a police procedural, that is the only explanation I can even conceive of in regards to this TV show. Because all of the show's problems come down to this decision. Remember when that "Punisher" TV series was in development where Frank Castle was a cop by day while moonlighting as a violent vigilante by night? This is cut from the exact same cloth as that pitch. The Fox Network took a great comic book, one of my all time favorites, and... they slaughtered it.

I don't think Tom Ellis does a bad job with the material he's given. I wouldn't mind seeing him play the Lucifer Morningstar that I know and love, even though he wouldn't have been my first choice. But there's nothing about this pilot that compels me to come back. If I hear that the angle of Lucifer working with the LAPD is removed, Lauren German's detective character is removed, Lucifer caring about humans one iota is removed.... er, never mind. Honestly, I hope this thing gets cancelled and HBO or AMC pick up the rights, because I am confident that the Fox Network forced the police procedural friend to all children Lucifer Morningstar angle on this thing (yes, I know he had a line about not liking children, but his actions spoke much louder than his words).

Would I like this if I had never read the comic? Probably not. I don't like police procedurals and I wouldn't like that the Fox Network pussified the Devil. If you're looking for a great version of Lucifer on TV, then by all means check out the fifth season of "Supernatural" on Netflix. Also, now more than ever, I'm glad he's returned recently in the show's eleventh season because it's a much needed antidote to this show. That Lucifer is well written, compelling, and not sympathetic. This Lucifer goes for therapy. Ugh, Lucifer hates God, pure and simple... he has no delusions about it.

If you enjoyed it, then by all means, keep watching it, and keep enjoying it. I'm glad it's working for you. But I don't like it and unless the show is significantly retooled, I doubt I will ever like it. Have fun with it, but I'm out.