The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One

I liked it, but....


Let's start with the "I liked it..." aspect, because there was a lot in here to like.

Gareth Edwards puts together a lot of great visuals. This movie was beautiful to look at. Every frame was a work of art. From the use of shadows and the use of colors, to the locations.

We've never seen that many ground battles in the "Star Wars" movies before. Yes we had Hoth and the Battle of Endor (though, I have a ton of issues with that), but in regards to actual ground, guerrilla warfare... this felt like a World War II movie at times.

The film was well edited, and the pacing was very tight. This was a very competently put together film, and I absolutely loved that we got to see other aspects and faces in the "Star Wars" Universe outside of the Skywalker clan. Don't get me wrong, the Saga films should be focused on them since they are the heart and soul of the universe... but in a big universe like this one, there are a near endless amount of stories to tell. This took advantage of that, and I would like to see that improved upon going forward.

Also, like "The Force Awakens" before it, Lucasfilm have mastered the fine art of combining practical effects and CGI... obviously using the prequels as a reverse yardstick. I felt this way after watching TFA, and I feel this way now. Lucasfilm (under the brilliant leadership of Kathleen Kennedy) is obviously now made up by people who hate the prequels and understand why they were so poorly received. This is a good thing.

Now I dive into spoilers.

The fan service was great, normally  I would think they were trying too hard here, but I absolutely loved the fan service. We've waited a long time for Darth Vader to return to the big screen after "Return of the Jedi". The last time we saw him was in one of the most embarrassing scenes of the prequel trilogy. The moment three movies had been building up to, and then it was something out of a bad comedy. But here, this is what we've been waiting for. Lord Vader only has two real scenes in the movie, but they're worth it. His second scene in particular, I've been wanting to see Lord Vader in a situation like that for decades now.

The return of Grand Moff Tarkin. He was played by Guy Henry, but they used a lot of make-up, motion capture, and CG to transform him into Peter Cushing and it looked pretty damn good. I'm not going to say it was perfect, there were moments when it seemed a bit-off. But they did a damn good job. He's not in the movie very much, but he's in it a lot more than Lord Vader. And while he's not Rogue One's adversary in the movie, he looms large over everything.

I wanted more of Tarkin and Vader, but I understand why they couldn't be at the forefront. The same reason that Vader rarely shows up in "Star Wars Rebels". If they lose too often, you diminish their threat.

Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) was somebody I wanted to see more of. An anti-Imperial insurgent who the even the Rebel Alliance considered to be a dangerous extremist. This is the sort of character "Star Wars" has been missing. Someone who's fighting against the evil empire, but is hurting the cause more than helping it. We see figures like this over and over throughout history. Also, like Vader, he was more machine than man and relied on a breathing apparatus. He should have been in the movie a lot more than he was. I understand he was a character in "Clone Wars", but I haven't seen much of that show. Maybe I'll look for his episodes.

My favorite of the new characters, however, was the droid K-2SO. His design was great, and despite being a droid, he was the most human and lively of the characters introduced in this. I just learned that Alan Tudyk was responsible for bringing him to life, which explains a lot. The dry humor was hilarious, and I ended up genuinely loving this character.

I enjoyed Jimmy Smits' cameo as Bail Organa, and.... without spoiling it, I loved the ending of the movie. And I mean the very, very end. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. That was a great note to go out on.

The final battle was terrific. The opening crawl of "Star Wars: A New Hope" called this the Rebel Alliance's first victory against the Empire, and seeing it on screen was a joy.

And, of course, seeing more and more diversity brought to, not only "Star Wars", but massive blockbusters. Excellent, keep it up.

So yes, as I said before, I liked it.


The movie's greatest weakness, and I'm sorry, but this is a big weakness, was most of the new cast. There was a lot of potential in each one of them, but the script didn't explore any of them to the degree that it should have. Personally, I think there were too many new characters introduced here. Cut two of them out, and use that screen time to get to know our leads better. As it is, most of them ended up feeling like characters from either a piece of fanfiction, or a video game tie-in... granted this is a tie-in, but I still wanted more.

Don't get me wrong, not one of them made me think "this is a horrendous character", as the prequels did with boring piles of nothing like Anakin Skywalker, Padme Amidala, Mace Windu, General Grievous, Jango Fett, Jar Jar Binks, Watto, Darth Maul (who was fixed later on in Rebels), etc. No one made my eyes and ears bleed. There just wasn't enough done with them.

"Star Wars" has always been full of colorful characters. Chirrut, the blind warrior-monk was a fun character most of the time. I didn't mind most of the "blind ninja" tropes, in hand-to-hand combat. But when he was able to shoot a TIE Fighter out of the sky, that was too much. I understand that he was a very spiritual man, and a believer in the Force. But they also stressed that he didn't have abilities like the Jedi... which is why his shooting of a TIE Fighter should have been cut. Also, considering how spiritual he was, and his faith in the Force was what motivated him, I think he should have been the one to deliver the motivational speech to the Rebels at the beginning of Act Three instead of Jyn.

Now, Jyn Erso was our lead. And she wasn't that good, but she could have been better, and should have been better; Felicity Jones' wooden performance didn't help. She sometimes felt like the protagonist in a piece of fanfiction... and don't crucify me, all the new characters felt that way. But, like pulling back on Chirrut shooting a TIE out of the sky, I would have given her motivational speech to him, and had her focus continue to be revenge on the Empire over believing in the Rebel cause until farther into Act Three when she embraces her heroism, and realizes that this is all bigger than her. As is, she was the weakest link in the whole thing.

There are more examples with the other characters, but a little bit of editing to the script and we'd have had a far more interesting and memorable cast.


My current rankings are: The Empire Strikes Back > A New Hope > The Force Awakens > Return of the Jedi > Rogue One. I'm not going to even bother ranking the prequels.

Gareth Edwards is a director with a good eye for photography, pacing, and constructing a story. But, his ability to characterize people continues to be his greatest weakness. This was an improvement over his "Godzilla" where nobody felt like a human being. I saw actual life in these people, but it could have and should have been brought out to the forefront.

I had a good time at the theater watching this (I am considering going again), I will buy it on Blu-ray. So, yeah, go see it and have a good time. But don't go in expecting "the best since Empire Strikes Back" because it's not.

Grade: B

Friday, December 9, 2016

All Our Faves Are Problematic Or... Let's talk about Ian...

I've been trying to force myself to not write this entry for a couple of years, now. Ian runs a blog dedicated to tearing down "Gargoyles" and overlooking similar and deeper flaws in the 2003 4Kids "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". I'm not going to name it or link to it, but you can find it if you wish.

"Gargoyles" is pretty beloved in the animation community. Not by everyone, but that's okay. Even sacred cows like "The Simpsons", "Batman the Animated Series", and "Loony Tunes" have their detractors. Hell, I'm a detractor of a good portion of the Bruce Timm DC Animated Universe outside of Batman TAS... and yes, upfront, I am willing to admit my own butthurt that Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are placed on a higher pedestal than "Gargoyles". I'm admitting that now and upfront because I need to be intellectually honest before I dive into discussing Ian's words of... well, not wisdom. Let me also admit that back then I used to be very defensive of "Gargoyles", and while I still am, I am also more likely to just roll my eyes and click to the next page. It took a lot of growing up, and having better things to do with my time, but here I am. So, am I a hypocrite for this entry? Well, I'm willing to admit it. But if I'm still grinding an ax against "Agents of SHIELD" or "Lucifer" or, yes, even JLU in another ten years, I'll mention that to my therapist.

I first encountered Ian over a decade ago on ToonZone. Back then, he was going by the name "The Big Bad" and was using Rogue from X-Men Evolution as his avatar. He had an ax to grind about "Gargoyles" even back then. Mostly because the 2003 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon wasn't as highly regarded as it. Any time someone would criticize it, he'd bring up something he didn't like about "Gargoyles" without fail. For a while it seemed like he mellowed. Then he started his blog.

Ian has accused "Gargoyles" of every crime in the book. Homophobia, sexism, cultural appropriation. If Tumblr is angry about it, then Ian has accused "Gargoyles" of it. And he's been doing it for ten years. Despite my dislike of JLU, I only ever found one big red flag like that (Tala and Flash), and while I have talked about that more often than I should... you know what, in an effort to be less like Ian, I'm going to stop. I made my point long ago, and it's tired.

Was "Gargoyles" perfect? No. It's heart was in the right place, and it was pretty damn progressive. Yes, "Heritage" is dated. Yes, the resolution of Tea and Fara Maku could have been handled better... and yes, those were two of the weakest episodes of the series for a variety of reasons. Even Greg Weisman, himself, would agree the show wasn't perfect and pushes himself to improve on representation, as you can read here.

It's amazing how you can predict these people, like clockwork. ALL of them want everything to be absolutely morally perfect, and to them, stories are only a vehicle for teaching values. That's where his anger about David Xanatos ending the series with everything he wants comes from. Newsflash, sometimes evil does win... and yes, Xanatos has done horrendous things, and yes the guy is charming. But the gargoyles still don't like him, even now that they're being harbored by him. I don't think the show was endorsing his behavior... just telling a story about a world and the people in it.

On one of his blog posts, he discussed how Goliath, like other marginalized people, should be able to "be angry" at those who mistreated him--forgetting that no living human save for the main characters know about him. It's not the same as real-world discrimination! And, quite frankly, I don't recall the show ever saying that Goliath and the gargoyles didn't have the right to be angry.

Political writing has different rules than storytelling, which is why the Tumblr critique fails so often. Because sometimes in stories it's necessary for characters to do the wrong thing, to be flawed, and for them to fail. Tumblr also tends to get upset when a show talks about making peace with enemies, since that's often not how social rights are won in the real world. But if it serves the themes and the story, it's fine. The purpose is not instruction. We make peace with our enemies, that's why it's called making peace; but try telling a bunch of excitable teenagers that. I don't take "reviews" of movies and TV that originate from Tumblr seriously. And, frankly, neither should you.

Ian is looking for absolute perfection and casing down anything that doesn't meet those impossible standards. These people drive me nuts. And you can't argue with them because they think they're doing God's work. It's fine to criticize the politics of a story, but there's a huge self-importance and over-dramaticness that is really ridiculous.

But what bothers me is that he doesn't focus that magnifying glass on his beloved "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" 2003 series. And I'm not going to bash that show. It was a pretty good show. Not the best, and it had some lows, but it did so much right and is pretty much my definitive take on that story. Well, at least the first four seasons and "Turtles Forever" are. But I need to point out that if I reach and do the mental gymnastics that Ian does, I can find as many problems with it as he flat out fabricates about "Gargoyles". Here are just a few:

  • White writers writing about Feudal Japan.
  • Michelangelo's girly screams are obviously making fun of the transgender community.
  • Leonardo holding a sword to Karai's neck was perpetuating rape culture.
  • Karai ultimately giving in to her stalker's advances and dating him... being presented as a happy ending for both characters.
  • All the physical violence leveled at Baxter Stockman, the only African-American in the show.
  • Garbageman being the only physically challenged character in the series... one could say that's ableism.
  • And, the big one, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is about four American teenagers trying to be Japanese ninjas. Cultural appropriation, don't you think?
I'm sure I could find more if I wanted. But I'm not going to. I don't have the time and, quite frankly, I lack the desire. I don't have an ax to grind against this show. I like it. I just hate Ian's hypocrisy.

Maybe Ian believes his own hype. He hasn't examined his motives, and believes it's some kind of social good he's doing by pointing out that a series that thrilled so many people "doesn't have perfect representation". Ian can take what he wants to take away from it, and I would like to be able to respect him; but considering that I understand his true motive, I understand the ax he has to grind, I cannot give him one iota of respect, and if anything regard him and his self-righteousness with contempt.

All our favorites are problematic. Even Jon Stewart had his shortcomings, even a civil rights icon like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had them if you decide to look for them. My favorite is problematic, your favorite is problematic. You live with it, and you move on.

I'll keep doing my part to fight for social justice by continuing to vote, by continuing to make donations to organizations such as the American Civil Liberies Union. To attend marches against the upcoming Trump regime. To volunteer. To make a difference. Ultimately, trying to make the world a better place for everyone and to stand up against bigotry of all stripes was what I learned from "Gargoyles", and I try to apply that to how I live.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A retraction...

I'm not retracting an opinion or even an idea. What I am retracting is a nickname. Chloe Bennet's character on "Agents of SHIELD"... Daisy aka Mary Sue aka Quake aka Skye, etc. As most readers of this blog noted, I would refer to her as Special Snowflake. Right now, I am retracting and apologizing for that.

I am blissfully ignorant of a lot of buzzwords and code-words that MRAs, GamerGaters, the "alt right" or... let's be honest and call them fucking Neo Nazis... use. "Special Snowflakes" is an insult they love to toss around, alongside "cuck" and other hateful language to denigrate their targets.

So, on that note, I am issuing a formal apology for the use of that term. I do not want anyone to think that I hold views that are anywhere near in line with these degenerates. I condemn them; they are animals.

Don't get me wrong, I still think the show and the character are crap. But, in the event that I ever bring it up again (though that's not too likely, I've more than said my piece), I will not be using that hateful slur.

I plead ignorance, but make no excuses. Hold my feet to the fire should I ever espouse any of their hateful terminology whether purposely or accidental.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'd be for it...

That's Mark Waid, Superman's biggest fan.

I'd take this even further:

You know what would have been something? If they were being really ballsy, when DC did the new 52, they would have made the Kents immigrants from Iran or Lebanon, make Kent short for something quite long. I think Clark could pass as a Lebanese immigrant with his black hair so it wouldn't really affect how he looked but in a snap it would affect how people viewed him. Does the world's greatest hero really need to be a WASP? He can still stand for Truth, Justice, and the American Way while being a practicing Muslim. If anything it would represent the best of America, the melting pot, where anyone regardless of your race, background, or creed can be anything.

Plus, it would make the awful supervillain, Captain Combover, take to his twitter while sitting on his golden toilet at 3am. And anything that makes Captain Combover's head expode is a good thing.

On another note. Yes, I saw Dr. Strange. Yes, I liked it. But I've been less compelled to blog as of late. What's going on in our country and the world stage has me a little bit more concerned.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Yes, I know.

I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Clearing Something Up.

I was recently, once again, accused of being mean to people that disagree with me. Well, and maybe I'm proving this idiot's point by saying this, but you will never see his comments on this blog again. Not because he and I disagreed, but because he was a goddamn imbecile. He's entitled to his opinions, but even when others pointed out cold hard facts... he said "Well, it still feels that way". You know, how things "feel". No reason, no logic. Just feel.

Didn't Stephen Colbert dedicate an entire, nine-year, television series to combating that level of stupidity?


But I have no issues with anyone who disagrees with me. As long as you engage me in intelligent conversation, and don't behave like an ass, I'll treat you with respect. A lot of people have commented here over the years whom I have disagreed with. I won't say there weren't occasional moments of head butting, but it's civil.

So yes, the individual in question could not be reasoned with, even after being proven wrong on a factual level. He continued to make comments, comments that I refused to approve... and will never approve. Why? Believe it or not, the argument itself wasn't the last straw. The last straw was when he blamed his behavior on his autism. If you do that, ever... you are dead to me.

I have a lot of friends on the autism spectrum. They do not behave badly, and they never, ever use their autism as a crutch. Being an ignorant asshole is a choice. And don't tell me you're not an idiot because you graduated from college... Donald Trump fucking graduated from college, and he's an asshole, a piece of shit, and an idiot. So fuck you.

And I just can't stand that excuse. I never could.

Okay, it's story time with Uncle Greg.

When the Gathering was still around, we had a gigantic asshole show up to three of the conventions. The first con he attended was run by a different staff than the one I worked on, and they allowed... let's call him Rod... they allowed Rod to run around and harass people, didn't enforce any of the rules, and harass the guests. Nothing was done to reign him in.

The next year, the team I was a part of hosted. Needless to say, we didn't have any of that shit. He showed up and, once again, walked around with entitlement oozing out of his every pore. He tried to harass the guests, he tried to talk all over people during the panels, and I'll never forget when the voice actors were signing autographs and he very publicly, and obviously tried to line jump... I marched over to him and told him that he needed to wait in line like everybody else. He argued with me. I told him again, he argued with me. I had to threaten to pull his badge and have hotel security escort him out before he screeched at me "FINE!!!!!!" (the entire room, and the talent heard him) before storming off.

That's only the tip of the iceberg... we had a list of complaints about him as long as Reed Richards' arms. What was the excuse he used? His autism. He demanded a free pass, and that he be treated like a king... that everything revolve around him... because he was autistic.

It climaxed at the final Gathering when the banquet was sold out and he spent two days walking around the con and demanding that people give him their banquet pass. That he was entitled to it because he was autistic.

Again, I realize this might sound ableist, but I don't mean to come off that way. I have a lot of autistic friends and they don't behave this way. Not only that, but they resent people that do.

I generally like this blog to be a respectful place. Not necessarily when I review bad productions, but when I engage back and forth with people that comment. But be respectful, don't be entitled, and for the love of god... don't make excuses for being an asshole.

In other news, the asshole I'm writing about has slithered over to another blog and is posting the exact same shit. I don't think he's played the autism card there yet, but he will... luckily that blog is run by a far nicer person than I.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Emmys!

Congratulations to "Game of Thrones" on all your big wins. While I don't think you deserved this last year, you definitely earned it this year. Well done.

Of course, GoT won't be eligable for the 2017 Emmys since it will be premiering months later than usual. "Better Call Saul", will it be your turn to shine?

Also congratulations to John Oliver for his big win. But stay on your toes, because Samantha Bee is overtaking you fast.

Oh, and because I am obligated to be mean to this failed show and this failed thespian.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Spectacular Radio Podcast

I suppose I should have mentioned this here. Anyway, I host a podcast dedicated to discussing and analyzing "The Spectacular Spider-Man" animated series. It's hosted on, alongside Clone Saga Chronicles and Mayday Mondays.

We go through the series episode by episode, devoting two podcasts to each episode. The first is an interview with Greg Weisman and various other guests. The second is a fan panel where myself my co-hosts, Zach Joiner, Gerard Delatour, Jesse Garret, and other guest hosts discuss, review, and analyze each episode.

So far we've finished the first season of the show. Alongside Greg Weisman, we've also had Jennifer L. Anderson, Vic Cook, Sean "Cheeks" Galloway, Vanessa Marshall, Andrew Robinson, Josh Keaton, and Ben Diskin. And I hope to have even more people on as we cover the second season.

Check it out:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

... then they came for Kevin Conroy

Batman... the real Batman... broke his silence and commented on Zack Snyder's most recent cinematic excretion. Usually, in cases like this, actors keep their mouths shut. They want to work again, after all. But no actor has imbibed the character of Batman like Conroy has with his nearly three-decade stretch portraying the character. As far as I am concerned, Kevin Conroy is Batman.

But, the cinematic world has been invaded by a serpent named Zack Snyder. Snyder's movies are made to stimulate the nether regions of a certain kind of fan. Mostly angry. Mostly male. Mostly white. These movies have not been well received by most people outside their bubble, especially critics. Naturally, these Snyder-Bros lash out and accuse them of being bribed by Disney and Marvel. Or they make up other conspiracy theories. Bias. SJWs. Etc. Etc. They're at war with an enemy that doesn't exist.

May I ask you, who does this remind you of?

Now, I'm not out and out saying that Zack Snyder is Donald Trump. But Snyder's fans are definitely a lot like Trump's supporters. I'd be interested in seeing a Venn Diagram of the overlap. The parallels are uncanny. Snyder appeals to angry dude-bros in scary ways. He's their patron saint of comic book movies. Plus the conspiracy theories... "Crooked Hillary is rigging the election" and "Marvel is paying critics". I could keep going.

Trump's supporters never liked minorities, as Snyder fans don't care for that "SJW, Pussy, Marvel" crap. But, beyond that, Trump's supporters have turned against veterans. Witness their attacks on POWs and Gold Star families. Snyder's fans have done their own unthinkable, they turned on Kevin Conroy. And viciously. I'll share a few examples.


I think this all speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, petitions are being written and signed to shut down Rotten Tomatoes and Donald Trump is recruiting assholes to show up at the polls, armed, to intimidate the "wrong people" from voting... er, I mean make sure voting is fair.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Reclaiming a missing piece of my childhood.

"Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" was released in theaters on Christmas Day, 1993. It came, and went in less than a week. There were few screenings, and it was a box office flop. I was twelve when it was released, and missed  the very brief window to see it. Of course I bought it on VHS a few months later and then on DVD. I've seen the movie dozens of times since then, but I always wished that I could have seen it on the big screen.

Sometimes wishes come true.

Last night, the Alamo Drafthouse ran a special showing of "Mask of the Phantasm". Despite having seen it dozens of times, despite owning it on DVD and VHS, I went and paid $10 to see it on the big screen. And I was happy to do it. Even happier when I found out that what I was about to watch was one of only two 35mm prints left in existence. I left the theater an hour and a half later feeling like a kid again. I wanted to see it on the big screen back in the day and now... twenty-three years later, it's finally happened.

It's still the best Batman movie ever made and, as far as I'm concerned, there is no competition. None. After the atrocious "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and the offensive "The Killing Joke", I needed to step back in time and remember when Warner Bros. was capable of making great DC movies like this.

Why isn't this movie on Blu-ray, yet?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Sick Joke

Um... it's awful and don't watch it. Mark Hamill is great but, seriously, don't watch it.

Anything I could say has already been said by others. So I'll just link to a few reviews that I recommend.

* Batman the Killing Joke Animated Movie Review by Reaf

* The Killing Joke Movie Is a Disaster, Right Down To Its Comic-Con Panel

* The Killing Joke Movie Is Stuck in the Worst Parts of the Past

I could post more, but you get the idea. It wasn't well done. The only one that gave it any effort was Mark Hamill, who has been wanting to do this for years. Even Kevin Conroy sounded like he was phoning it in.

So yeah, to quote Brad Jones: "It's not the worst Batman movie I've seen this year." But this was still a pile of garbage that included a festering, cracked, molding kitchen sink.

Grade: D-. The only reason it's not a full F is because of Mark Hamill.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Just what the doctor ordered...

This helped me pinpoint one of the reasons 2016 has seemed exceptionally miserable... it's the first year in forever where I don't get to see Jon on TV every week.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Have They Been Seen In Public Together?

I've recently come to a conclusion. Henry Cavill and Megan Fox are the same person. Let's run through a tally.

  • Both of them are terrible actors. No charisma. A complete inability to emote.
  • Both of them are being shoved at us by the two least talented directors in Hollywood. Henry Cavill by Zack Snyder in his horrible Superman movies; and Megan Fox by Michael Bay in those terrible Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.
  • Both of them are, somehow, sex symbols. I personally think both of them look fake... not only like they're made of plastic, but if you look into their eyes... there's nothing there. It's not like let's say Hayley Atwell or Misha Collins who, if you look into their eyes you see substance... life. Cavill and Fox look like corpses.
  • Both of them are complete morons. Read just about any interview with them. It's one stupid thing after another coming out of their mouths. Whether Cavill is being racist or sexist by accident (okay, maybe it's not by accident) or Fox is comparing directors with Adolf Hitler. There's not a cell of gray matter between them.
At the end of the day, who do they remind me of?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Winter is Here

The last several years have been a sublime period for television. When did the "Golden Age of Television" arrive? I'm not sure. In a lot of ways, "Hill Street Blues" in the 1980's was the great grandfather of the golden age. "The Sopranos" really began blowing it up in 1999. But I'd say it finally hit between 2008 and 2010. Shows like "Breaking Bad", "Mad Men", and "Game of Thrones" really define the era of TV we're living in. Two of those shows have since come to an end, and now "Game of Thrones" is beginning to wind down.

How do I personally compare "Game of Thrones" to other TV shows? It's not as good as "Breaking Bad" or "Better Call Saul". It's not as good as "Mad Men". It's not as good as "The Sopranos". But saying that is by no means a put down, those shows are among the best. "Game of Thrones", however is better than "House of Cards" (which I do like), better than "Arrow" (okay first season, great second season, really awful third and fourth seasons), better than "The Flash" (which I can't get into no matter how hard I try), better than "Supergirl" (the episodes I tried to watch put me to sleep), better than "Daredevil" (good show, but has a ton of problems), better than Jessica Jones (which I love... is legitimately great). So yeah, aside from "Better Call Saul", "Game of Thrones" is better than anything else currently in production.

There are a lot of TV shows you can point to and say "yeah, this was it's best season". For example, I'll easily point to season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as that show's best season. For "Breaking Bad" it's a toss up between season four and season five (that show just kept on getting better). Arrow's best season was it's second (although, that's the only season of the show I actually like). But I don't think "Game of Thrones" has a best season (maybe it's first)... while it clearly has a worst season (the fifth, no contest)... there are a lot of exceptional episodes peppered in to most of the seasons amid a lot of episodes that act as building blocks towards those exceptional episodes. Season six is a prime example... most of the episodes built up to the great stuff. "The Door", "Battle of the Bastards" and "The Winds of Winter" truly stood out as among the show's best episodes.

I have read the first book in "A Song of Ice and Fire", and I plan to read the rest once the show winds down. So this isn't going to be one of those entries where I point out what the show did differently to the book to complain about it... spoiler alert, I like the show. I love the show. And believe me, I understand how some people can feel... I get annoyingly nitpicky about Spider-Man adaptations. But sometimes I wonder if we're as annoying as, let's say, a hardcore fan of Peter Benchley's "Jaws" novel and think that Spielberg butchered it by ignoring the Mafia subplot, not depicting Matt Hooper's affair with Ellen Brody, and having Martin Brody kill the shark by blowing it up via bullet to oxygen tank in the shark's mouth... in the book, the shark just tires out and dies. And then there's the Tolkien Fandom who still haven't forgiven Peter Jackson for his critically acclaimed, commercially successful, Academy Award winning "Lord of the Rings" trilogy which, honestly, I prefer to the books... there I said it.

I'm blathering on, I know. But I felt I had to acknowledge all that in the last paragraph. I read. I read a lot. But I speak the language of film. Neither of us are right or wrong, we're all approaching this from our own angles and bringing our own baggage to it. As such I feel like this entry is less about the show itself and more about the conversations I've been having about the show for the last few years. But those conversations have been part of my experience, and while the show is by no means perfect (season five, I'm looking right at you), I still think it's exceptional television.

I feel like season six benefited from listening to feedback they received from season five, because this felt very much like a response to it. Not saying everything was. I think "Battle of the Bastards" was going to play out as it did no matter how Sansa and Ramsay's wedding night was received. But little things like Dorne being downplayed, which was welcome by me. I thought Oberyn Martell was a terrific character in the fourth season, so I was looking forward to exploring Dorne in the fifth season. What did we get instead? Jaime Lannister wandered on to the set of "Hercules the Legendary Journeys" (one of the most abysmally awful TV shows ever made... and I thought that before we found out Kevin Sorbo was a trump). So in "The Winds of Winter" when the Queen of Thorns was visiting Dorne and telling the Sand Snakes to shut the fuck up, I can't help but feel like she was speaking for those of us in the audience who did not enjoy those characters.

If I had to describe season six in one word, it would be triumphant. The threads we've been following are finally beginning to converge. Jon Snow is now the King in the North. Daenerys Targaryen has her dragons, her army, her fleet and is setting sail to Westeros. And Cersei Lannister now sits on the Iron Throne. Our "heroes" triumphed over enemies that have plagued them for a while, and will now come to a head. But not without obstacles. Cersei has alienated all of her allies, so this cannot and will not end well for her. Jon Snow is now in Littlefinger's crosshairs. Daenerys seems to have everything going well for her... but a little bit too well. Plus there's a Night's King beyond the wall getting ready to attack. And will Mad Queen Cersei allow another King in the North... will she allow Sansa Stark to remain alive when she conspired to murder her precious baby Joffrey (or so she believes)?

I can't say for certain where this will all head. Most hope for Jon Snow and Daenerys to wed and rule the seven kingdoms together... but that is a little bit too neat, too tidy. George R.R. Martin promised a bitter sweet ending. Jon and Dany ruling together with Tyrion as their Hand while Sansa governs the north after all unite to defeat the Night's King sounds too good to be true. Because I don't believe the true villain of the tale is the Night's King or even Cersei Lannister. It is Littlefinger and Littlefinger is not your typical fairy tale or high fantasy villain... Cersei is the Mad Queen and everyone knows it. The Night's King is, for all intents and purposes, the Dark Lord and most know it. Littlefinger is the Devil you don't see, he's what rises when you're not paying attention... and nobody is paying attention to him, except for Sansa Stark.

If this tale is three acts, then Act One ended with the Red Wedding (or when Tywin Lannister died on the crapper... it's debatable), and Act Two just ended. We're marching towards Act Three and I look forward to it.

I give season six an A-.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Captain America - Civil War

I apologize for the tardiness of this review. I will admit that I don't have much to say about "Civil War". I mean, it's great. Go see it. Read what I wrote about "Batman v. Superman" aka "BvS" aka "Beavis", and "Civil War" is the exact opposite of that.

But I feel I owe you all something, so I'll be brief.

1. It's much better than Mark Millar's comic book. They say ideas aren't good and bad in and of themselves, it's all about execution. "Civil War" sums it up. I hated the character assassination the comic series engaged in back in 2006. But this was the exact opposite. I flip-flopped between sides throughout it as both had their points, both mad their mistakes. In the end, I was neither on Team Cap or Team Tony.

2. Black Panther was great. I cannot wait for his movie. He was powerful, majestic, and oh so human.

3. I have gone back and forth on Spider-Man a little. But, in the end, I decided that I liked him. This was an awkward place to introduce him, but I felt the spirit of the character there and I think Tom Holland does well. As somebody who doesn't care for Toby Maguire's Spider-Man or Andrew Garfield's, I hope Holland is the one. And for those of you worried it'll be nothing but High School, well, Tom Holland will be aging between "Spider-Man Homecoming" and its sequel in Phase Four.

4. Zemo was great. I know some people didn't care for him, I think this comes from the fact that he didn't have the mask, the sword, and the lineage. But remove all that and I still saw the character there. A cunning, manipulative, evil, vengeful monster. And what's more, he won. And he's still alive, he might get a costume later. I could see him leading a Masters of Evil in a sequel, or starring in a "Thunderbolts" movie. His endgame was just heartbreaking, and in a less movie, things would have gone in another direction.

Also he had an actual, understandable motive. Why did Beavis's Lex Luthor do anything again?

5. In the end, I'm on Team Black Widow. Do what you feel is right, but change your mind when new information comes to light. She's still my favorite Avenger.

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 love the 90's X-Men TAS. The first three seasons are pretty good... I like A LOT of what they did there, but mostly 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, he's awful. 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.