Marvel’s Black Panther

This May marks the ten year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If they continue to release films like Black Panther, they can keep making movies for the next hundred years. I cannot give enough praise to Black Panther.  It is one of Marvel’s strongest offerings and shows why they have been able to succeed in building their universe whereas others like Universal and Warner Bros have struggled. Mightily in the case of Universal. They continue to add breadth and depth to their universe.

blackpanther59e4d0531eba6-180b3a6a-af62-4529-9a0d-7bd863f15cc6

A preview ran before Black Panther for Antman and Wasp. Both of these are MCU movies about superheroes, but Antman is a playful heist franchise. Black Panther is a whole other monster dealing with themes about leadership, blood, racial identity, and tradition.

Black Panther is not a character I’m heavily invested in. He’d pop up in the comics I read like Spider-man or the Avengers. I always enjoyed him because he was cool. He was the king of an African isolationist country with futuristic technology. I never got into his comics because I never made the effort to. I knew his backstory and the origin, going into this movie. I went into this expecting another solid Marvel origin movie, but it took itself off the path.

Very violent. People get cut up by swords, stabbed with spears, shot in the head. It has a little politics in there but it’s never allowed to overpower the movie. You’re not beat over with the head of a message. I loved the sets and costume designs for this movie. It takes from African culture and adds a sci-fi twist to it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of sci-fi and worlds different than ours. I was impressed that they were able to give Wakanda its own identity that set it apart from the Asgard of the Thor movies and the alien world seen in Guardians of the Galaxy.

From a craft standpoint, I liked how willing Ryan Coogler was to put T’Challa through the winger. This guy gets messed up in this movie. He finds out dark secrets and gets the crap kicked out of the him. He’s a good protagonist because of how vulnerable he is throughout the film.  He’s a man made king by the death of his father, unsure if he’s ready for the throne He faces tough questions once he is king and discovers the right answers by the end of the film. I hadn’t seen any of his other films (Creed is on my to watch list but I’ve only seen Rocky 1). I will make an effort to watch the rest of filmography.

As a first generation African immigrant, I was often caught in between two cultures as a kid. The American Black culture and African culture.  This movie was a unique experience as it had those two worlds clash with each other through the conflict between, T’Challa and Erik Killmonger. T’Challa is African-born, raised in tradition, surrounded by family. Killmonger is American and has experienced the prejudices that go on in this country. He’s lost everything and wants to get even. I loved how far Coogler was willing to go with Killmonger to make him sympathetic but also show how destructive his line of thinking was. Michael B Jordan owned the role.

I give this film a strong recommendation. It’s a good movie with a memorable villain. I’m interested to see how this film does in the international box office. Domestically, it’s looking to break records. Superhero movie exhaustion is not here yet and it may never come.

Advertisements

Go Go Power Reboot.

Everything gets a reboot these days. Robocop. Ghost Busters. Spider-man. Batman. Superman. Every year Hollywood spits out a remake of a once successful brand.

Now the time has come for the  hit 90s television show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,  to be rebooted into a movie.

Trailer just dropped for it.

As I expected when the movie was first announced, this is a lot more grounded and realistic. The campy atmosphere of the 90s show is dead and buried. The Power Rangers are in a Breakfast Club type scenario. They ditch and get their powers from an alien rock. Then Rita attacks them.

My first impressions is that this movie is going to be forgettable. It’ll be in line with that Robocop reboot rather than a Dawn of the Dead. They have gone away from the source material. This is what the studio behind the movie must believe will give it broad appeal. Out goes the spandex and bright colors, in comes the dark palette and realistic costumes.

I don’t think this movie will be atrocious. It won’t be like Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie which almost killed the franchise. It will be a safe action film with unimpressive visual effects. I’m confident in believing this will have no lasting legacy.

The costumes for the movie and the tone of the trailer don’t seem appealing to children or the fans who are nostalgic for the original show. It’s in the sweet spot where it’s too serious for kids but not adult enough in concept to get people to go see it. Because it’s not going full camp, the movie will be trapped by the sheer absurdity of the Power Rangers concept.

Powers Rangers was a show where the main villain was trapped in a dumpster for 10,000 years. A giant head in a jar told a gold robot to get five teenagers with attitude to combat her in spandex while powered by dinosaurs. At the end of every episode, the villain made her bad guys grow a thousand feet tall and then the rangers got in their giant robot to fight them.

Trying to make this serious and grounded takes the soul out of it. Power Rangers barely has a soul to begin with as its an Americanization of an old Japanese show, but there is a soul there. There are ways to tell more dark Power Ranger stories. Power Rangers: In Space, Power Rangers: Time Force, and Power Rangers: RPM  all told dark stories but embraced the absurd concept.

This movie will make some money. The budget for the film is 150 million dollars. I wager that at best it can make 200 million world wide. But even that I feel shaky on. The original Power Rangers movie made 66 million dollars on a 15 million dollar budget. That was when Power Rangers was at the height of its popularity. They will need more than 66 million for this to be considered a success.

There’s still a long time until the release of the film. I am keeping an open mind toward it. Trailers can be misleading. They are not created by the director. So the movie could be lighter in tone.

But from what’s been shown so far, it’s not looking morphinominal.

power-rangers-movie-2017-costumes-mighty-morphin

Welcome to The Silver Screen, Deadpool.

20th Century Fox has done the unthinkable. They have opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed the Merc with A Mouth on the masses. Bad parents will  rue the day they let their children watch a masked psychopath cut off his own hand in the theater.

Fox’s Deadpool works. It will not win any Oscars. It was not made to. It was a gift to the fans of the character and an apology for a past wrong-doing.

In 2009, 20th Century Fox plopped a turd in the lap of every Deadpool fan with his portrayal in X-men Origins: Wolverine. A character known for his talking had his mouth sewn shut and turned into the unspeakable.

r6929erowrp4ydntrpsb

The portrayal was universally panned. The movie was highly offensive to not only Deadpool fans but movie fans everywhere. The only enjoyable version of X-men Origins: Wolverine was the leaked workprint version. That may be the greatest comedy film ever created. Certainly in the same league as Some Like It Hot.

A Deadpool movie had been rumored for years after the butchering of the character. A script floated around online. I  got my hands on it while in college.  It was decent. This new movie has scenes from that script. I like this movie a lot more than that old script.

Deadpool is a relatively faithful adaptation of Joe Kelly’s run of Deadpool. Adaptations should focus on bringing the spirit of the story to another medium. Fans want a 1:1 reproduction of the source material and that is not feasible in most cases. What works in one medium does not necessarily work in another.

Deadpool has the spirit of the character down. Deadpool is a tortured psychopath masquerading his insecurities and fears with sardonic wit. The Deadpool character is known for his humor and breaking the fourth wall. It is forgotten by many  that he is a man who has cancer eating away at his insides everyday and he has killed many people. He is a mercenary, not a comedian.

3176102-1388114-22

Joe Kelly’s run focused on Deadpool’s insecurities. Deadpool was not a hero. He’s your prototypical anti-hero on acid. He detested the word, “hero”. He once beat a woman to a bloody pulp for continuing to call him one.

shutyourmouth

The humor in the comic book was strong. It was very much a part of the book and character’s success. Joe Kelly seamlessly added in references to television shows, celebrities, and more. Some of which have stood the test of time.

tumblr_m0u37m86KJ1qzzjy1

 

Deadpool takes the best of Joe Kelly’s run.

All the elements of that Deadpool character are in this movie.His checkered past. His aversion to the word, “hero”. His mangled face. His fourth-wall breaking. His scumbag friend, Weasel. The gratuitous violence. The old blind woman that he keeps locked in his house for company.

Blind Al and Weasel made it to the movie screen. We have come a long way from 1978’s Superman.

Deadpool is at its best when the title character is running around in his red tights and mask. Ryan Reynolds is having a lot of fun with the role. He brings the insanity and tragedy of Deadpool. The way Deadpool fights and acts is straight out of one of his comic books. Reynolds’ timing is impeccable. He gets the character. I appreciate the love he’s shown Deadpool.

I have one gripe with Deadpool in this movie. He’s not ugly enough.

T2yeu30

He should have looked more like an eighties horror movie villain. Closer to Jason Voorhees than Ryan Reynolds with a bad rash. The audience should have had the same reaction as the characters when Deadpool removes his mask. His face should be stomach-churning. I also think we shouldn’t have seen his face until the final scene. It should have been a running joke that we see only the characters’ reaction to it. I know they had a lower budget for this film so I’ll let this slide.

The movie does struggle when Deadpool is not on the screen. The flashback scenes showing his romance with Vanessa were some of the weaker scenes of the movie. They are funny, but not gripping.  The movie starts us off with him in the suit. He’s gunning and slicing mooks. Every flashback scene pulled us away the present to deliver us the past.

The film should have started where the story started. Instead we get a little bit of present Deadpool and then some flashback. More Deadpool, more flashback. Once the flashbacks stopped and the movie could just go, it flowed. The movie had to do the origin story which hurt it. It tried to do A Day in the Life of Deadpool and Deadpool’s Origin all at same time. It should have tried to be one or the other.

If they went down that path,  it would have been thirty minutes without Deadpool in the suit. The audience might have grown restless. So maybe in medias res is the better way to start.

The movie throws a busload of jokes at you. Most of them work. The ones that don’t, you forget about quickly. Every audience will react to this movie differently. The jokes about Blade 2, Green Lantern and X-Men Origins: Wolverine went over the heads of my audience. Everyone will find something funny. I could see people disliking all the dick jokes and over-the-top swearing. It is very sophomoric but the tone fits Deadpool.

The film was more sexually-charged than I was expecting for a comic book film. There were jokes about masturbation and pegging. They were funny, but I hope they don’t turn some people off to the movie.

The film is a fun time in the theater. If you’re looking for  sweet film with decent action, questionable acts around stuffed animals, and a ton of humor, you should check out Deadpool.

I do have one thing about the ending though.  Spoiler Alert.

 

Deadpool gets the girl. He’s a character who’s not supposed to get the Hollywood Ending. The scene prior to it was an attempt to define Deadpool as not a hero. Colossus, an X-man, tells Deadpool to not shoot the main villain in the head. Deadpool can define himself as a hero by sparing a life. Deadpool does not hesitate and blasts him in the head in the middle of Colossus’s speech. This is telling us Deadpool is no hero. However he is given the hero’s ending by having Vanessa accept him despite his ugly looks.

For a movie that prided itself on deviating from the traditional path, it had a traditional ending. To be Deadpool is to suffer. He can’t get the girl. What will they do with her in the sequel? Kill her off? It seems like they have to. Will Deadpool get married?

I have high expectations for the sequel.

cable_and_deadpool_emil_omi_by_prosscomics-d62oohv

 

 

 

 

Big Hero 6 was okay.

Today I’ll be a prick and over-analyze a kid’s movie.

Big Hero 6 came out last year and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. I know the people who vote for the Oscars don’t bother to watch the animated features and just hand it off to whatever Disney/Pixar movie is , but they really should have nominated The Lego Movie. They could have tried to keep the charade going. Now we know they don’t care.

This movie is not bad. Many parts of it are excellent. Some of the action scenes are creative and I love the design of Baymax. He is the most huggable character since Barney the Dinosaur.

Baymax-Poster-e1416440487417

Big Hero 6 is a by-the-numbers movie. I was waiting to learn something from this movie, but it followed the standard movie formula. So I was able to follow every beat and see where each plot thread was going. I saw each of the twists coming other than the villain’s motivation, but that was impossible to discern from the information given. I also felt that Big Hero 6 could have been cut down to Big hero 4 or Big Hero 3. Many characters lacked individual identity and felt they were there to just be another action scene to cut to. Could be an issue of adaptation.

This was okay. The Lego Movie was better.

I am Jack’s Smirking Revenge

Ah. Fight Club.

The movie Roger Ebert didn’t quite get. He gave Fight Club two and a half stars. I know he’s dead and you have to respect the dead, but he was off about this one.

vlcsnap-2015-02-26-21h41m08s136

This was a movie that appealed to the generation that came after rather than the one before. Fight Club intitally struggled to find an audience.The book was lining up warehouses until David Fincher decided he wanted to make a movie out of it. Marketers had trouble advertising this satirical film. They couldn’t figure out how to entice audiences to check it out. Its box office numbers reflected that. Dark comedies are one of the harder genres to make trailers for. But after the home release, it gained its own almost Project Mayhem-esque cult following.

This movie is fucking hilarious and revels in absurdity. It’s about a guy so bored with his life that beats himself up and starts a cult, and then shoots himself in the head. The humor is lost on some audiences that focus on Tyler Durden’s philosophy or get turned off by the violence. If you listen to his words and nothing else, the movie comes off as propaganda for the destruction of capitalism and modern civilization. This movie gets much better with rewatches after the twist is out of the way. You can focus on Tyler as a malevolent force rather than his own person. His nihilistic philosophy is extreme and not to be imitated. Which of course had led to people seeing him as a wise man

The contemporary erosion of the masculine identity is a theme this movie examines. There’s the scenes with the protagonist at the testicular cancer help group. Here we have this man, Bob, with giant bitch tits hugging and crying. By the end of the movie, he’s dead. And his name was Robert Paulsen. In life he had lost everything because of his cancer. In death, he was to be remembered. He was a name repeated by the members of Project Mayhem. Just an interesting arc I noticed this time around.

The men in the film are these lost souls doing mindless work. What are they supposed to be? What are they as men supposed to do? They go back to the basics. They beat the living shit out of each other. And through this violence they bond. The violence is a way to express their rage at the world that’s told them they were special when they were not. It’s almost an after thought to everything else going on in this film. As I think about it, it’s more about how isolation, repetition, and lack of direction can drive a person insane

The writing is so strong in this film. The movies does commit a huge screenwriting no-no. It’s narrated by the protagonist. But like most writing rules, that one is meant to be broken. To take the narration out of this would be akin to ripping out a person’s spinal cord.

Below I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes.

“When people think you’re dying, they really really listen instead of waiting for their turn to speak.”

“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I wonder if another woman is really the answer we need.”

“The condom is the glass slipper of our generation.”

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.”

“Working jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need.

I have not read the book by Chuck Palahniuk. I’ll get to it one of these days.

Palahniuk is writing Fight Club 2 now. It will be a graphic novel. I’ll definitely pick that one up. I want to see where he takes the characters as the story was mostly focus on young men in their 20s and 30s. Palahniuk is now 53. What more does he have to say about masculinity with these characters? Will Tyler Durden return? Will we find out the Narrator’s name?

Good luck to you, Mr. Palahniuk. I look forward to Fight Club 2.

When it’s over, it’s over.

So you have a favorite show, book or movie franchise and it’s about to end.

You’re over the hill! You invested your time and energy into the characters and now sweet payoff is coming. You spent more time thinking about the romantic relationships in the show than you did your own! You read the stupid fan theories that meticulously connected the most mundane events and told you the bald guy rubbing his chin was actually the main character from the future back to save everyone. You can’t wait to see what the genius creator has in store for you. They’ve saved their best for last!

Then after all the years of waiting, the last episode comes out! The concluding book is released. You scream with glee. You flick on the television. You sit down in that movie theater. You crawl into bed with the book and you flip the page. You’re ready to take in that final act of goodness.

But it’s all wrong.

People are acting out of character. Somebody dies for an unexplained reason. A major plot point is forgotten or swept over. They never explain that magical happening from season 3. The bad guy was in their heads all a long. HE GOT WITH HER?!!! Is this even the same writing team? The credits roll. You turn the last page. That was really it. And it sucked.

At the time when you most needed them to hit a homer, they struck out.

A bad beginning isn’t the end of the world. So it takes a while to get going. No need to get outraged. You can forgive a poorly written middle. You can power through onto the good stuff. Skip it if you want. Joke about that bad period in the story. But you can’t do that for a bad ending. It is. There’s no going back. Just like the clap, bad endings are here to stay.

It’s like getting on a first class plane with no idea where it’s going. You plant your buttcheeks on a chair so comfortable, it’s like being in the womb again. There’s a button on it that dispenses cheesy cinnamon bread swirled together by an indigenous tribe off the coast of New Zealand. It tastes like it and you won’t gain a calorie for gorging on. The flight attendant is a one-man band that plays you the song of his people on a harmonica/guitar. The pilot speaks in a smooth soothing slightly British tone assuring you the flight’s going smoothly. The in-flight movie is Coming to America. The flight attendant finishes bathing your feet with water taken from the stomach of an Amazonian as the plane lands. You look out the window and see a giant sign that says “Welcome to Detroit”!

It’s all about the destination. Nobody wants to end up in Detroit. I keep that in mind while I outline stories.