29th Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/29/16

by Will

photovisi-download (22)

oie_922142seDasWF9

We had Winter Storm Jonas come through last weekend, which resulted in over 3 feet of snow. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as I didn’t have to go to work until yesterday – which meant I watched a LOT of stuff. So, let’s talk about some of it, shall we?

THE-MARTIAN-movie-poster2

First up, I watched The Martian, starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who’s presumed dead and left behind during a mission on Mars. But Watney’s not dead, so he has to survive on the uninhabited planet until help can arrive. It’s a great movie about the power of the human spirit and all that. Still, after watching this and Gravity, y’all can have space. I want NO part of it. Lindsay read the book and said that they cut some stuff (probably for time), but said that the movie was a pretty faithful adaptation. Also, like Gravity, I don’t feel like I ever need to see this again. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat as much as I was with Gravity, though, as Sandra Bullock’s whole ordeal was kinda condensed. Watney is on Mars for months so, while still a tale about survival, the whole struggle has peaks and valleys. Don’t get me wrong – stuff still goes horribly wrong for Watney, but after a while you don’t feel like he’s in that much danger. At least I didn’t. Great movie, though.

INSIDE-OUT-18

I also watched Pixar’s hit, Inside Out. I’ve got a complicated relationship with this movie. You see, we rented it from Redbox about a month ago and the disc was so scratched that we could only get about 30 minutes into it before it stopped working. So, while snowed it, we tried watching it again, picking up where we left off, and I fell asleep during parts of it. That’s not to say anything about the quality – I was just really sleepy. Still, I didn’t see in this movie what others saw. Just like Mad Max: Fury Road, I thought it was enjoyable, but it didn’t resonate with me like it did with other folks. I’ve heard people call Inside Out the best Pixar movie ever. Really? REALLY? Then again, these are probably the same people who cried at Toy Story 3 (I still don’t get that). I may be a cold, heartless man, but I feel like the last time I agreed with anyone on a Pixar film was concerning the emotional opening to Up. I loved the characters, especially Anger – which is funny, seeing as how I typically think Lewis Black is just a Baby Boomer Sam Kinison whose shtick gets old fast (I start out calm AND THEN I’M YELLING! ‘CAUSE I WANT YOU TO KNOW I’M MAD!!!!). And it was easy to relate to Riley and the stuff she was going through. Still, I think I just expected MORE. Maybe I need to watch it all the way through from the beginning and stay awake this time.

Sisters-2015-Poster

Next up, we watched Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. In a flip of their last foray together, Baby Mama, this time Tina played the screw-up, while Amy played the straightlaced one. I’ve often said that Tina Fey tends to suck in comedies she doesn’t write (the aforementioned Baby Mama and Date Night), but this one broke that curse. With a screenplay by Saturday Night Live/30 Rock writer Paula Pell, it played to the strengths of everyone involved as Pell was already familiar with all of them. When Tina and Amy find out their parents have sold their childhood home, they decide to throw one final rager before the new owners move in. The movie was hilarious, and even included a great cameo by John Cena. Plus all your favorites are there: Maya Rudolph, Bobby Moynihan, Samantha Bee, and more. I’m still kinda wondering how Ike Barinholtz got cast as the Cute Guy Love Interest. I mean, was EVERYONE else in Hollywood busy? Don’t get me wrong – he’s capable in the role, but he’s probably the last person I would’ve thought to cast in that role.

batman bad blood

Then, I really wanted to watch Trainwreck, but the version I got was in French for some reason. Undeterred, I decided to watch something else instead. I settled on a new animated release called Batman: Bad Blood. I used to buy all of those DC straight-to-DVD movies that came out, but then they just started cranking them out too quickly. Well, it turns out I’ve missed a lot. You see this movie was a sequel to Batman vs. Robin, which itself was a sequel to Son of Batman. So I had just jumped into the third part of a who-knows-how-many-parts series. It wasn’t as jarring as I thought it would be, though, as you could tell that some stuff had occurred before, but it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on. When Batman disappears after an explosion in a factory, Nightwing and Robin team up with Batwoman and new hero Batwing to figure out what happened. At first, I was thrown off by the animation style, as it was a little too “anime” for me. I should’ve been used to it, as Batman: Gotham Knight had the same style going for it, but I guess I’m just a sucker for the traditional Bruce Timm designs. The other thing that struck me was the fact that this is probably the most mature Batman depiction seen onscreen. There’s blood, they deal with Batwoman’s lesbian relationship, they call each other “bitch” a lot, and a second-tier Bat villain straight up dies in a pretty gruesome way. This was a HARD PG-13. The thing I liked about the movie, however, was the fact that it’s not really based on anything. I used to hate the runtime of the DC animated films, as they tend to clock in around 72 minutes, which isn’t enough time to faithfully adapt a storyline. For example, Superman: Doomsday is so short that it’s basically like Superman takes a nap instead of *dying*. Since this didn’t need to be faithful to any source material, the runtime felt organic and was definitely long enough. The ending seemed somewhat open ended, so I’m hesitant to say that it’s the end of a trilogy. If you like your Batman cold and distant, this is the film for you. The thing to remember is that the movie is more about how Batman affects and influences those around him than about Batman himself.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

Since I stumbled into a saga in media res, I decided to go back and check out Son of Batman to see how it all began. Man, if I thought Bad Blood was dark, they clearly toned things down from when this saga first began. SO MUCH BLOOD! And hookers! Batman is referred to as a “sperm donor”! And Nightwing’s about to tell Robin to go fuck himself! Like, ALL of that is in this film. And even though she’s a cartoon character, Talia’s titties are “on fleek”, as the kids would say. If you’re not familiar with the story, Batman discovers that he has a child with Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of his adversary Ra’s Al Ghul (in the comic Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman sexes her with his cowl on!). The child, Damien, is now 10 years old and comes to Gotham to find his grandfather’s murderer. The movie is a loose adaptation of Grant Morrison’s “Batman & Son” storyline, but I found myself enjoying this movie much more than I enjoyed the source material (not much of a Morrison fan). When I was watching Bad Blood, I found Robin’s voice to be pretty annoying, but it grew on me in this installment. I know a lot of folks hate the Damien character, but I think he’s a breath of fresh air. I really enjoy his “arrogance in a small package” routine, and it definitely comes across in this movie.

court

To round out the series, I watched the second movie, Batman vs. Robin. Oh my God, it was SO good! It was definitely my favorite of the three. There are some amazing fight scenes, and it’s REALLY violent. Since Batman is basically fighting what amounts to zombies, he blows them up and cuts their heads off. It’s intense! Loosely based on Scott Snyder’s “The Court of Owls” storyline, it’s about a secret society of rich muckety mucks who have controlled Gotham for years. They decide to recruit Bruce Wayne, but when he refuses, they go after Robin instead. Their army is comprised of reanimated hundred year old corpses, which is why Batman can cut loose on them. My favorite line was probably “Now I’m only gonna say this once, you sons of bitches: Get the HELL OUT OF MY CAVE!” As you can see, that mature tone is still holding steady, but it also gets the players in place for the beginning of Bad Blood. If the movies are viewed as a trilogy, however, this installment hurts the building momentum. After all, the first movie, Son of Batman, is a Talia story and Bad Blood is a Talia story. Having watched them out of order, I assumed that Talia would play some role here, building up to the events of Bad Blood. Instead, the events of Bad Blood kinda come out of nowhere. At the end of Son of Batman, Talia and Batman part ways with an uneasy alliance. In Bad Blood, however, she’s out for Batman’s blood. It almost feels like there’s an installment missing. In any case, I LOVE this Batman continuity. I’d watch a whole season of this if Warner Bros had the balls to produce a series with this tone (they do not). The next DC movie is Justice League vs. Teen Titans, and it appears to be set in this same universe, as Damien is the Robin on the Titans. If that movie is anything like this, I cannot wait!

Last week, everyone was talking about #OscarsSoWhite because no one of color had been nominated in the major categories of the Academy Awards. This week, then, everyone seemed to do a 180 and everything was coming up Black!

Delroy-Lindo

First up, it was announced that Delroy Lindo has been cast as Dominic Fortune in the Mockingbird-centric Marvel’s Most Wanted. This is pretty important because Fortune, created by Howard Chaykin, was originally a White character in the comics. So, it looks like Marvel’s Nick Furying all over again (the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies was also originally a White character in the comics). Dominic Fortune isn’t a huge character, so this colorblind casting won’t affect his characterization, but I’m sure it’ll get someone’s Underoos in a bunch. Most Wanted is still in the pilot stage, however, so there’s no guarantee it’ll be ordered to series at this point.

Corey hawkins

Next up, it was announced that Corey Hawkins from Straight Outta Compton would play the lead, Eric Carter, in the 24 spinoff, 24: Legacy. The series, sadly, will not feature Jack Bauer, but instead will focus on Carter, who’s a military hero who returns home and suddenly needs the help of CTU. I honestly don’t know how CTU hasn’t been absorbed by some other agency, as they’re rife with moles and they tend to be more reactionary than proactive. They never stop the attacks, but they’re always there after they happen. I mean, the poor citizens of Valencia, CA probably wish CTU had been a little more on the ball. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, though. A Jack-less 24? I have my doubts.

whittle

Finally, it was announced that The 100‘s Ricky Whittle had been cast in the lead role of Shadow Moon in the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have no clue what this thing is about because just hearing the name “Neil Gaiman” gives me a headache. From what I’ve gathered, the book was about the fact that gods only exist as long as people believe in them, and the old gods are now being replaced by new gods, like celebrities and social media. That idea doesn’t sound all that original to me, but it’s Gaiman, so I’m sure there are a bajillion Tumblrs out there dying to prove me wrong. Anyway, the character in the book was somewhat racially ambiguous, so it’s being considered a big deal that they went with a Black actor given Hollywood’s tendency to Whitewash.

arrow-season-3-poster

the-suicide-squad-with-diggle-and-lyla

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Black characters this week, though, as Arrow bid farewell to a particular recurring character. Usually, the deaths on that show serve to move the story along, but this one just seemed kinda…nonchalant. This has led folks to believe that it was mandated by corporate interests. Since this character will appear in an upcoming DC film (albeit played by a different actor), they are no longer allowed to appear on the TV shows. After all, this is reportedly the same reason that there are no plans for the Deadshot character (who will be portrayed by Will Smith in Suicide Squad) to return to Arrow. It is believed that corporate feels it might confuse audiences to have the same character in two different mediums, played by different people. I think people are smarter than that, but stranger things have happened. I mean, we live in a world where Marvel is deliberately burying Fantastic Four and mutants because Marvel Studios doesn’t own the TV/film rights to those properties. So, it would make sense for DC to be doing something similar. I just feel like this is going to be to the detriment of the shows. Arrow is pretty much the best Batman adaptation on television (let’s face it – that’s what they’re doing with that character), but he’s gonna be severely neutered if all the best characters are slated for film. And what does this mean for The Flash, seeing as how that movie is just over the horizon? The CW’s DC shows have been so good that I’d hate to think that this is the beginning of the end of their quality.

dark knight oliver queen

Speaking of Arrow, it was announced that Stephen Amell will be portraying a future version of his character in the 6th episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Reminiscent of his depiction in the classic The Dark Knight Returns, this Oliver Queen resides in the year 2046, and is missing his left arm. The episode will also introduce Connor Hawke – Queen’s son and the future Green Arrow.

dc-comics-rebirth

In comics news, DC Comics stayed on folks’ lips this week. Right after last week’s West Week Ever went up, Bleeding Cool posted a rumor that DC plans to relaunch later this summer. Apparently, once the main books (Batman, Superman, Action Comics, etc) reach #52 of their current runs, the series will relaunch at #1, with the publishing line mirroring DC’s TV and film offerings. Shortly after this story went up, DC’s co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee tweeted out a cryptic image that only said “Rebirth”. It’s important to note that this is being reported as a relaunch and not a reboot. What’s the difference? Well, a relaunch really just means that you’re restarting the series with new numbering, but the core of the books stays the same. A reboot, however, means you’re starting everything over from scratch. A relaunch is what Marvel does all the time – cancels Uncanny X-Men only for it to reappear with a new #1 a few months later. This is done because companies believe that #1s bring in new readers, as they serve as fresh “jump on points”. That’s somewhat true, but the audience erodes between issues 1 and 2. And the more you relaunch, the more than audience erodes. A reboot is what DC did a few years ago when they introduced The New 52, which was a new universe where (almost) everything was changed and restarted at square one. This is a riskier move because it eliminates everything that came before it, and it squanders a lot of goodwill and faith from longtime fans. The universe they’d grown to love is no longer. It’s DC basically saying they’re willing to risk their dedicated audience if it means they can attract a new one. Now, “Rebirth” seems to be taking a page from Marvel’s playbook, but DC has done so much timey-wimey garbage lately, with The New 52 and Convergence, that I’m not sure DC’s fanbase is strong enough to handle this.

scooby

And the superheroes aren’t the only things DC is revamping. It was revealed yesterday that they’re updating several Hanna-Barbera properties for modern comic books. Above is the Jim Lee-designed Scooby Doo. And I hate it. I hate the hipster douche vibe I get off the guys. Shaggy’s facial hair? Hate it. Fred’s tat? Hate it. Daphne’s just Caitlin Fairchild from Gen13. And I’m so used to Velma being sexualized through cosplay that I’m broken and don’t even know what to make of her design. The line will also include updated versions of The Flintstones, Wacky Races and Jonny Quest. The beauty of this whole thing is that I don’t really have any connection to the source material, so this initiative doesn’t offend me as much as it might others. At the end of the day, these books clearly aren’t for me, and I don’t have to buy them. That’s, like, the most mature reaction I’ve had to something in a long time.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Reportedly, Paramount and Nickelodeon are planning a film that would feature a crossover of many of their NickToons properties. I never had cable growing up, so this means almost nothing to me.

barbiecurvy_original

  • Mattel just revealed that Barbie will now feature 3 new body types: petite, tall, and curvy. The dolls will also feature new skin tones and hair textures. The one on the right would be referred to by some as Thick’ums Barbie.
  • Joseph Fiennes is in talks to play Michael Jackson in a UK special about a road trip that MJ, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando supposedly took after 9/11. Sadly, there’s no #MJSoWhite hashtag.

NerdLunch2015-websitePodcast

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the guys over at The Nerd Lunch Podcast to discuss shows that we felt deserved the Fuller House/Girl Meets World revival treatment. I think our choices will surprise you! Trust me, you REALLY don’t wanna miss this episode, which you can listen to right here.

xfiles

The X-Files came back to Fox this week for a 6-episode “event” series. What that means is that if the ratings are good and they can hammer out new deals, the show will be back. If not, however, they can pretend that it was always meant to be a One and Done series and save face. I was never the most hardcore X-Files fan, as I didn’t even really start watching until season 5. And while a lot of people love the Monster of the Week episodes, I preferred the ones that dealt with the mythology and conspiracy aspects. So, I was pleased that the first episode back was a straight mythology episode. What I was not pleased about, however, is that they’re basically saying everything we’ve known for the past 20 years has been a lie. Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise for a show like The X-Files to throw out a twist or two, but it’s pretty brazen for them to basically say SPOILER ALERT (highlight for text): “Yeah, there are no aliens”. On the one hand, it sets up a new kind of mythology, but it also makes me feel like I wasted a LOT of hours of my life to get to an answer that doesn’t exist. That “revelation” basically turned the entire audience into Mulder. If that was the plan all along, nice work, Chris Carter. Anyway, it’s also interesting that the episodes are airing out of order. While the first and sixth episodes were always meant to be the mythology episodes, they’ve shuffled the order of the middle episodes. The episode that aired in the place of #2 was actually #5, while #4 will air in the place of #5. Episode 3 is only one airing in its originally scheduled order. Carter said that this was done to tell the best story possible, and was achieved by removing some dialogue here and there. That’s why it seemed so jarring in Monday’s episode that Mulder and Scully were just automatically back in the FBI like nothing happened – that was actually the next to last episode instead of the second. Here’s hoping this shuffle pays off in the end. In any case, it seems off to a pretty strong start, and I feel like the only reason it wouldn’t get renewed for another season would be if they couldn’t come to a contractual agreement. So, for those reasons, The X-Files had the West Week Ever.

5 Responses to “West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/29/16”

  • I’m not quite sure how you got the idea that there are no aliens on X-Files. There’s doubt about the evidence they’ve seen but aliens absolutely exist on the show.

  • Will

    I guess I should clarify. There are definitely aliens, but there’s no alien conspiracy. Rather, there’s a conspiracy using aliens as the scapegoats, but all the bad stuff was the work of men rather than aliens. That’s what I took away from Sunday’s episode, at least.

  • Ugh. DO NOT LIKE Jim Lee Scooby & gang. So much wrong as you noted which just leads to me wanting a ghost to banish the whole gang from existence or something along those lines. Yuck.

  • CT

    As the father of an 11-year-old girl, I felt like they made Inside Out just for me. It hit all the emotional notes in this house but I don’t know if it would have otherwise. Maybe wait 9 or 10 years and try it again.

    X-Files is back and is annoying me just like it did when I originally watched it. Which isn’t a complaint as much as me applauding them for capturing the spirit of the show again. The big twist is a little disappointing but there had to be some explanation for why the world is still around four years after it was to have ended.

  • CT

    Oh, and I don’t dig the Scooby thing, but love that there’ll be Space Ghost comics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.