11th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/11/15

by Will

photovisi-download (11)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends out there! A pal of mine from the ol’ a cappella days at Cornell put this together with his wife, and I thought I’d share it. I really hope it goes viral.

paul_blart_mall_cop_2_movie_2015-1920x1440

On the movie front, you’re gonna hate me for this one. I mean, it was late, and I was bored, and…well I have no excuse. Yes, I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Let me just say that I like Kevin James. Even though his movie career only exists because Chris Farley died, I still enjoyed him on The King of Queens. And, to be honest, I didn’t hate the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I mean, a hapless mall security guard foils a heist in a local mall. What’s not to like? Well, some movies don’t need sequels, and this is one of them. For 2/3 of the film, it feels like there are 2 different movies going on: one features Paul Blart as a mall security guard whose life just keeps getting worse and the other about Arrow‘s Damien Darhk trying to steal a bunch of priceless art from a casino. Yes, Neal McDonough is in the movie, and I swear he’s playing the same character he currently plays on Arrow. I’d hate to think someone watched this movie and thought to him/herself “This guy would be a perfect villain for Oliver Queen!” The movie actually moves pretty quickly, so it’s basically over before you know it. Both plots eventually overlap, but the resolution is kinda rushed. Plus, it kinda bothers me that Mall Cop is in the title, when there’s NO MALL! They couldn’t call it Paul Blart: Saves Art or Paul Blart: Casino Cop or something like that? Anyway, I watched this movie so that you don’t have to.

here-comes-the-boom-kevin-james-movie-review

And because I love Kevin James, but hate myself, I then watched Here Comes the Boom. Oddly enough, it was on another network at the same time as Paul Blart 2 (yeah, I DVRed it…). For a minute, I thought maybe James had died and that the cable networks were paying tribute to him. I had to Google it just to make sure. Anyway, if you’ve never seen it, it’s your standard “We gotta save the youth center!” movie. Kevin James is a former Teacher of the Year who’s now suffering from burn out. Meanwhile, the music teacher finds out his wife is pregnant just before it’s announced that all special programs – including the music department – will be cut due to budgetary constraints. Feeling bad for his colleague, James decides to raise the money to keep the music department going. And the way he decides to do this? Mixed martial arts. He finds out that he can make a tidy sum just by losing fights, so he gets good enough to qualify, but not really to win. You’ll never watch this movie, so I’ll spoil it for you: he saves the music department. There are a whole bunch of unnecessary twists, like a last minute embezzling subplot, but he saves the day and rekindles his love of teaching in the process.  It has all the staples of a Kevin James movie, including a small part for his brother, Gary Valentine. Surprisingly, he got in decent shape for this movie. I mean, he’s still Kevin James, but you could tell he at least did some training for the role. As formulaic as it was, I didn’t hate this movie, but there’s no need for you to watch it.

unfinished business

Unfinished Business is not a very good movie. The trailer portrayed it as this European drug and sex romp, while the actual thing tried to have more purpose. It didn’t know if it wanted to be EuroTrip or Glengarry Glen Ross. Vince Vaughn plays himself, as he does in all of his movies. Only this time he’s a struggling salesman who strikes out on his own after a disagreement with his boss. So then it becomes a race between him and the former boss to lock up a prized account on a business trip to Germany. Meanwhile, he’s accompanied by an older sales exec and a dimwitted sales applicant played by Dave Franco. Many of the jokes are supposed to come from Franco, but most of his material falls flat. Meanwhile, the movie tries to add heart by focusing on the fact that Vaughn is only trying to get this deal so that he can put his bullied son into private school where he’ll be protected. I love Vaughn, but this wasn’t his best work.

the league

A lot went on in the world of television this week. First up, FXX’s The League aired its series finale, and it was TERRIBLE. To be honest, as much as I love the idea of the show, it should’ve ended about 3 seasons ago. It just hasn’t been funny, and watching it has felt like a chore. If you’ve never seen it, The League centers around a group of friends in Chicago, and the goings on in their fantasy football league. I don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, but the football kinda took a backseat. Sure, there were a lot of player cameos where I was left wondering “Who’s that guy?”, but none of that really hindered my enjoyment of the show. The creators used to work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so it has that loosely improvised thing going for it. The finale, however, didn’t feel like a true finale. This is odd, considering they’ve known this was the final season since before they started filming. It’s not like FX canceled them midway through the episode order. They had time to wrap things up neatly, but instead they gave us an off-the-wall episode that really didn’t accomplish much. It even squandered a Larry David cameo. So, I don’t hate it as much as I hated the Seinfeld or How I Met Your Mother (which I watched again a few weeks ago, and may be coming around on) finales, but it’s up there. What a sad end to what was once a great show.

superstore

On NBC, they showed a sneak preview of the comedy Superstore last week, and I caught the first 3 episodes On Demand. At first, I thought the concept sounded dreadful, even though the commercials made me laugh. I mean, who wants to watch a show set in a Walmart? That’s essentially what it is, as it follows the employees working in a branch of the Cloud 9 superstore. Reviews, however, have been kind and it’s being called one of the greatest workplace comedies. When I saw it was starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), that didn’t really do much for me. Then, I noticed it was also starring friend of a friend Ben Feldman (A to Z), and then I was all about it (he’s a good dude, and he really needs a win). Plus, after talking trash about it on Twitter, I started talking to one of the writers, who also wrote for Happy Endings. SOLD! Anyway, after watching, I can confirm that it’s really funny. I don’t know if it’ll last (the cast is FULL of folks from recently canceled shows, like Super Fun Night, so maybe they’re cursed), but I’ll watch it when it becomes a regular part of the schedule. That’s what scares me, though – it’ll be airing Mondays against Gotham, Supergirl, and whatever ABC’s running at the time. That’s some stiff competition, but it doesn’t take much to succeed on NBC right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Telenovela-Review-Eva-Longo

It’s not all great news, however, as NBC also showed a sneak preview of Telenovela (originally called Hot & Bothered). Starring Eva Longoria as a Spanish soap opera star who doesn’t know Spanish, the show is DREADFUL. I’m sure its existence does wonders for the number of minorities on prime time television, but it would’ve been nice if they’d been given something quality to work with. Starting in January, Telenovela will air after Superstore on Monday night, but don’t be surprised if we’re getting back-to-back chunks of Superstore a few weeks in.

wayward pines

Fox announced that Wayward Pines had been renewed for a second season. This is both good and bad news. It’s good because the first season was excellent. It’s bad, though, because the show worked so much better as a One and Done series. Sure, there’s material there for more story, but sometimes it’s best to leave something to the imagination. If you didn’t watch the first season, it starred Matt Dillon as a special agent who finds himself trapped in the mysterious town of Wayward Pines. And that is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is SO much going on in the show, but I loved every twist and turn. I fear a second season might be like Empire – a Fox show with a great first season, and a second season that feels like an incredible chore.

A few hours ago, the trailer was released for X-Men: Apocalypse. I have no real gripes with it, but I’m not especially excited for it, either. I feel like, at this point, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get with a Bryan Singer X-Men movie. There’s a specific tone to it, and that’s that. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there aren’t really any surprises. I do hate that Mystique is on the team. That’s a big problem with Jennifer Lawrence’s star power: it’s like she refuses to take roles that may portray her in a bad light. I get it – she’s a big star now, and she needs a showcase. I just kinda preferred the “less is more” Mystique that we got from Rebecca Romijn instead of Lawrence’s “front and center” portrayal. This isn’t a Must See In Theaters movie for me right now, but I said the same thing about Days of Future Past, and ended up seeing it opening night. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.

star wars force awakens figures

We’re less than a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it’s not without controversy. Apparently, some toys have hit shelves that weren’t supposed to be out yet. I won’t say what they are, so as not to spoil anything for anyone. Still, folks who’ve bought the figures have been showing them off online, only to be surprised that they’re hit with takedown orders from Hasbro. The toy company is threatening to sue these people for showing off unreleased product, but they really shouldn’t be going after the fans. Instead, they should be going after the stores that are ignoring the street dates. Anyway, some sites are calling for a boycott of Hasbro products for doing this, but that’s a pretty unrealistic request when Hasbro is about to make a kajillion dollars.

 

jeopardy 5

It was quite an interesting week for me in the world of social media. You see, on Monday night, there was an attractive Jeopardy contestant named Liz Fritz. The thing I noticed about her, however, was that she was RACKTACULAR (I coined that term for someone back in college). So, I tweeted about it. Little did I know she’d actually search the #Jeopardy hashtag. I mean, isn’t she supposed to be smart? Smart people are busy, and they know better than to do that. So, anyway, here’s what transpired:

Jeopardy Tweet

Jeopardy Tweet 2

Jeopardy Tweet 3

Jeopardy Tweet 4

jeopardy 5

I checked her timeline, and I was far from the worst offender, so I didn’t feel too bad.

Jeopardy Tweet Strangers

 

She apparently got 4 different marriage proposals, and a ton of dudes trying to chat her up. Oh, and she got about 300 new Twitter followers from the whole thing. She was cool about it, and gave as well as she got. I’m not proud of this. Sometimes I start tweeting, and just kinda lose my filter…

Meanwhile, it seems a bunch of huckleberries found my Storage Wars tweet from a few weeks back:

Storage Wars 2

For some reason, one of the Storage Wars stars, Rene, replied to me right after I tweeted it, but waited a week to retweet it. And then the replies started coming in:

Storage Wars 3

That last tweet, from “Strnbiker”, was even favorited by Casey Nezhoda herself. My favorite part, however, was “WhoreCuddler” calling Mary a “spinner” and then having the audacity to tag her in his tweet. I’m sure she loved that!

Stargate Atlantis Season 6

A friend of mine started a comic publisher, and one of his first books is going to be Stargate: Atlantis Season 6. The company, American Mythology, decided to go the Kickstarter route, which I wasn’t really sure about. Well, boy do I have pie on my face, as they hit their goal with days to spare! If you’re a Stargate fan, and want to get in on the action, you’ve still got 4 days to go. Check it out here.

Power Pinups

If you’ve still got some money left after supporting that Kickstarter, it appears some of the former Pink and Yellow Power Rangers got together to create a pinup calendar. I wish I could say proceeds were going to charity or something, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anyway, I’d post the video, but it autoplays, and I can’t post any pics because they watermarked the shit out of them. So, if you’re interested, just go here.

Links I Loved

The Day My Daughter Realized She Isn’t White – The Washington Post

Marvel Comics’ Secret Weapon Is A Woman Named Sana Amanat – Vox

The Origin Story of SNL’s Edgy Rival, MADtv – scpr.org

BREAKING: Friend Who Just Got Motorcycle Already Dead – The Onion

Opinion: I Don’t Want An Asian-American Iron Fist – Comic Book Resources

Why I Left Mormonism Behind for Judaism—and Couldn’t Be Happier – Fusion

An Oral History of The League – ESPN

2tmnt52

While I considered just giving the West Week Ever to the big boobed smart girl, something came along later in the week that I really enjoyed. You see, the trailer was released for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. And it had something for everyone: Arrow‘s Stephen Amell kicking ass as Casey Jones, Tyler Perry not dressed as an old woman, some Megan Fox fan service, and the best part of all – after nearly 30 years, we’re finally getting live action versions of Shredder’s cronies Rocksteady and Bebop.

2tmnt42

If you remember, I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie. Most people were up in arms because it was a Michael Bay production, and Megan Fox was seen as terrible casting for April and blah blah blah. I used to LOVE the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, while I didn’t warm up to the 2003 interpretation of the property, I still loved most versions of it I’ve seen. So I was looking forward to the movie. Like I said back in January, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I thought there was a lot of workable material there, and it looks like they’re taking advantage of that in this sequel. Chris over at The Robot’s Pajamas had a great breakdown of the trailer, but I’ve got to say that I’m actually excited about this one. So, for finally giving us Rocksteady and Bebop (seriously, that’s all it took to get me to buy in), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

photovisi-download (9)

oie_922142seDasWF9

2015-11-26 23.56.07

Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

Jessica-Jones-1-1200x674

So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

6a0115720d4e87970b01bb083e7bfa970d

In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

vacation_2015_movie-wide

Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

get hard

Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

miss-congeniality-ps

Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

2000px-RATED_PG-13.svg

This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

Men-in-Black

In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

byebyebye

In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

undertakereturn

Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

dk 3

In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

Captain-America-v-Iron-Man-Civil-War-46186

This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

30th Oct2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 10/30/15

by Will

photovisi-download (6)

oie_922142seDasWF9

Inbetweeners_2_Movie_Poster

I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it, shall we? First up, I watched The Inbetweeners 2 – a sequel to both The Inbetweeners Movie and The Inbetweeners television series. In case you’re not familiar, the UK series follows the teenage antics of friends Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay. Will’s the obnoxious one (with a hot mom), Simon’s the lovestruck one, Neil’s the dumb one, and Jay’s the horny one. It’s sort of like a British American Pie, but raunchier. In the last movie, they went on holiday to Crete before all going off to university. Well, this time around, Will, Simon and Neil decide to use their Easter break to go surprise Jay, who’s doing a gap year in Australia. And hilarity ensues. Will chases after a girl, while Simon finds himself accidentally engaged to his shrew of a girlfriend. Neil’s hoping to get a job as a dolphin trainer, while Jay’s true reason for being in Australia comes to light. Oh, and it includes the grossest water slide sequence you’ll ever see. Trust me. Anyway, when it comes to The Inbetweeners, I love the whole franchise (including the lackluster US version that aired on MTV a couple of years ago), so I highly recommend this movie. Both are on Netflix, so check them out!

UK-Map-Quad_AW_28837-Pitch-Perfect-2

Sticking with comedies, I rented Pitch Perfect 2 from Redbox. Why did people hate this movie again? People I respect have said that this was one of the worst sequels to what was an amazing first movie. I actually disagree. Maybe it’s like me and Ghostbusters 2, where I think I liked this one better than the first. Sure, it doesn’t have the whole arc of Becca getting to college, joining the group, and turning it around. Sure, Skylar Astin was sorely underused. And sure, Hailee Steinfeld doesn’t really have a breakout moment to shine. I get all of that. But the core of the movie spoke to me. The Barden Bellas have been a hot commodity since the events of the first movie, and most of those girls are now seniors. As they get ready to go out into the world, a few of them are scared because they don’t know what the future holds. Sure, they were big shit in college, but will that mean anything in the “real world”? This whole thing spoke to me because I lived that life.

For those who’ve been here before, take a bathroom break. For those who are newish, here’s my backstory: in college, I was part of an all-male group at Cornell called Last Call. You know the competition that the Bellas won in the first Pitch Perfect? We came in second at that very competition. We performed on The Today Show, and were kind of a big deal – as far as early ’00s collegiate a cappella goes (i.e. not very far). If I were Al Bundy, that’s my “Four touchdowns in a single game”. I didn’t know what was gonna happen after graduation, and would I still be “Will West: Black Guy Who Sings Lean On Me”? I graduated and survived. I’ve got a wife and kid and the whole nine yards. But I’m not sure I’ve felt as *important* in the years since that all ended. Wow, that’s really sad…

Anyway, Pitch Perfect 2 deals with the Bellas as they get ready to embark on the same path. Will they still matter? What kind of legacy are they leaving behind? What did their time in the group even mean? I can understand that a lot of this is really “inside baseball” for folks who couldn’t give 2 shits about the laughable world of singing nonsense syllables, but I think writer Kay Cannon knows her shit, and did a good job getting all of that in the script. I thought the jokes were hilarious, and I’d pay for a commentary track of nothing by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks judging the whole movie. Surprisingly, as much as I know “laypeople” love the first movie, I’ve actually never discussed the franchise with any a cappella alumni. I’d be curious to know how they felt about everything conveyed by the movies – especially the stuff in this second installment. The folks who raved about the first movie seemed to have been universally let down by this movie, but it still did well enough for Universal to greenlight Pitch Perfect 3, and it was announced this week that Elizabeth Banks would be back to direct. Despite what you may have heard, I’d still really recommend this film.

Kether

Speaking of Pitch Perfect, I got a tweet favorited by Kether Donohue, one of the Bellas from the first film. She’s now a costar on FXX’s You’re The Worst – a great show to check out if you’re not already watching it.

mad-max-main

While at Redbox, I picked up Mad Max: Fury Road. I’d heard nothing but praises about this movie, so I figured it was time for me to check it out. About 5 minutes into it, I started thinking “What the Hell did I just sign up for?” I was really lost with the intro with the Warboys and Valhalla and Immortan Joe. Then I gradually got into it. OK, Furiosa’s gone rogue. Got it. And she’s got Immortan Joe’s brides. Got it. And they’re on the Cannonball Run. Got it. In the end, I really enjoyed the film, but I’m not sure I get ALL the hype. It’s a visually stunning movie, and the plot was strong enough. I wasn’t blown away, though, which is what I’d expected from everything I heard. Plus, I’ve got a question: how many of those old bitches were there? I swear, when Furiosa met them in the desert, there were about 5. When the final battle took place, though, they were coming out of the woodwork. I swear, like, 14 old ladies got killed! Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I’d watch it again, but I don’t see why everyone just fell in love with it. Maybe I needed to see it on the big screen.

arrow-season-3-poster

On the Netflix front, I finally caught up with Arrow. I’d been watching it On Demand, but dropped it with about 9 episodes left in the season. I think it was because I was unhappy with the whole Ra’s Al Ghul arc. I mean, *SPOILER ALERT* if you’re going to kill Oliver, let him stay dead longer than ONE episode. Drag that shit out to get the emotional mileage out of it! *END SPOILER*. It’s too bad I bailed when I did, though, as the series got pretty good after that tomfoolery. When he was Superman, I never thought I’d like Brandon Routh, but he’s so good as Ray Palmer. I still can’t stand Laurel and those hands of hers (seriously, look at her hands sometime). The season finale would’ve made a pretty good series finale had it not only been season 3. You knew that happy ending couldn’t last, and that Oliver would be back. Sadly, though, I don’t like what he has become by the beginning of season 4. Oliver’s happy and living the domesticated life with Felicity in the suburbs. When he gets called back to Star City (it’s been rebranded now), he decides to pretend that The Arrow is dead, and that he’s a new hero taking his place, called Green Arrow. He even has something of a press conference to announce the change.

My problem with Arrow, however, is that Oliver doesn’t seem to know who he is anymore. At the end of the 3rd season, he basically said that he couldn’t be Oliver Queen OR The Arrow anymore. He had to figure how to be the changed person that he’d become. My problem, though, is that he’s happy now, and I think it’s throwing him off his game. I mean, this is the guy who defeated The Demon’s Head so, theoretically, he really shouldn’t be letting common street thugs get the jump on him anymore. Maybe it’s signalling a tonal shift, but I thought Oliver thrived in the darkness. It’s one of the Batman tropes that they’ve applied to the show since the beginning. Oliver can’t be happy, as that would get in the way of his mission. But right now, he seems to be a man without a mission. So, where does that leave him? Apparently that means announcing his candidacy for mayor of Star City. I’m somewhat surprised to see them adapt this storyline so soon (especially since Oliver wins the election in the comics), but if it somehow leads him back to the old Arrow that we know and love, then I’m all for it. We’ve seen Oliver evolve in the past. During the first season, he was a killer. During the second and third, he was a vigilante. Now, he wants to be a hero – one that inspires people. But at what cost?

It seems like they’re gonna have Oliver fighting more metas this season, as they added the McGuffin of a high speed train between Star and Central Cities. So now metas have a quick way to leave Flash territory and land on Green Arrow turf. Like I mentioned before, Oliver shouldn’t be able to be taken down by street toughs anymore, so they really are gonna need to amp up his rogues gallery. Looks like they’re borrowing more from Batman, as Anarky has joined the party. A lot of this just feels like setup for the midseason Legends of Tomorrow, but I hope Arrow becomes a bit more cohesive in upcoming episodes.

truth

We’re almost 2 months into the new television season, yet we still haven’t witnessed that first heralded cancellation. No network seems to want to be first, so they’re “unofficially” canceling their shows by cutting their episode orders. Once those eps are done, that’s it. At that point, there’s no need to really announce a cancellation, as the ep order had already been made known. At the moment, Fox has cut the episode order for Minority Report, ABC has cut the order for Blood & Oil, and NBC has cut the order for The Player and Truth Be Told. TV critic Daniel Feinberg likes to talk about The Mulaney Line, which was the low ratings point at which Fox’s Mulaney hovered until it was cancelled. If a show’s ratings fall below the Mulaney Line, then everyone involved should be worried. For Fox, that would include Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow. For CBS, that’s CSI:Cyber. ABC actually doesn’t have any, but Blood & Oil‘s close. NBC’s are the ones for which they’re already cut the episode orders. Oddly enough, every show on The CW is under the line except for The Flash and Arrow. The other CW shows don’t have to worry, though, ’cause there seem to be different rules for that network. I still think the first official cancellation will come from NBC, especially since Truth Be Told had one of the lowest-rated in-season premieres in history.

rj-cyler

After I posted last week’s West Week Ever, the official Power Rangers Twitter account announced that RJ Cyler had been cast as the Blue Ranger in the upcoming Power Rangers movie. Well, this week, it was revealed why the characters have been referred to by the Ranger colors and not character names. Originally, it had been reported that they would retain the civilian names used in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it now appears that they will have new names. The new names are as follows:

– Callum Oliver – The Red Ranger/Tyrannosaurus
– Priya Patel – The Pink Ranger/Pterodactyl
– Brian Olson – The Blue Ranger/Triceratops
– Oscar Fernandez – The Black Ranger/Mastodon
– Teyana Jones – The Yellow Ranger/Sabretooth Tiger

That’s four, count ’em, FOUR Rangers of color! Plus, I find it interesting that the Red Ranger’s last name is that same one as Tommy, the former Green/White/Red/Black Ranger. Also, the movie will now be called Saban’s Power Rangers. Yeah, that’s terrible. I can hear it now: “What the Hell is a Say-ban?!” I understand wanting to put your brand on something, but that’s just not the time or the place. The budget is reported to be around $35 million. The movie will be released in 2017.

On the music front, Adele released “Hello”, her first single since 2012’s “Skyfall”. The track did not disappoint, and the video broke Taylor Swift’s record for the most views (27.7 million, to be exact) in a 24-hour period. Her third album, 25, will be released next month, and she’ll also be the musical guest on the November 21st episode of Saturday Night Live.

Supergirl-CBS-poster-excerpt

The biggest debut of the week, however, had to be CBS’s Supergirl. As the highest rated superhero premiere since 2000, and tying NBC’s Blindspot as the highest-rated debut of the season, everyone was talking about Kara Zor-El. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the show, and folks are very optimistic about its future. I didn’t see it, however. I already outlined my reasons why last week. Still, I’m glad to see it’s a success, as that can only mean more good things down the pipeline.

Links I Loved

Halloween Web – Kevin Hellions – AEIOU…and Sometimes Why

8 Mysterious Facts About Ghostwriter – Mental Floss

May The Force Friday Toys Be With You – The Nerds of Color

What Happens When Actors Leave High-School-TV Shows? – Vulture

Horror Month 2015, Day 20: Scream – The Robot’s Pajamas

This Swedish DJ Created the Template for Modern Pop. Why Have You Never Heard of Him? – Slate

A Wild Weekend In Florida – Storify

agentsofshield-news

Some folks will probably think this honor should’ve gone to Supergirl, but I just couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t watch it, so I couldn’t really weigh in for myself. The hype was definitely there, but it didn’t quite make the cut for the *best* thing of the week. No, that credit goes to something that sort of came out of left field. Yes, I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think part of my surprise is due to the fact that I used to think nothing could save this show. I figured it would teeter along the line of mediocrity and somehow eke out about 3 or 4 seasons before Disney finally pulled the plug. Then, this season began. I mean, it actually started getting better after the Agent Carter break last winter, but it really got good this season. Focusing on the Inhumans – a race of aliens about whom I’ve never given a shit – I was preparing for the worst. Ugh, I’d be forced to continue watching this show because I’m a Marvel Zombie, and I don’t know how to quit anything. That’s what I was thinking, at least. And then, as I watched the episodes, I started to really get into the show. It’s come so far from what it was during its first season, and I almost can’t believe how good it’s gotten. The final proof, however, came during this week’s episode.

Jemma_liquid

At the end of last season’s finale, Agent Simmons was swallowed up by a Kree monolith and was presumed M.I.A. Well, this season we learned that the monolith was actually a portal to another planet. They spent the first couple of episodes this season trying to figure out how to get her back, and once they succeeded, something was noticeably wrong with her. This week’s episode finally showed us what happened to her during the 6 months that she’d been gone. It was an intimate episode with only 2 actors. Elizabeth Henstridge gave an amazing performance as a castaway trying to survive on an alien world. I won’t spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is, without a doubt, my favorite episode of the entire series. When you see it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So, for blowing me away with how much it has improved, and for delivering one of the best hours of television I’ve seen in a long time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had the West Week Ever.

07th Jun2013

West Week Ever – 6/7/13

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

This week’s gonna be brief, as I’m Westing from the road. This post explains where & why.

I loved this video I came across on Facebook. Any kid who grew up in the 90s knows Jason David Frank, aka The Green Ranger. Well, they’re filming a special anniversary episode of Power Rangers in New Zealand, and several past Rangers have agreed to take part. JDF decided to film a video diary of the affair, and this is the first part:

Is it just me, or does anyone else get the impression that Samurai Green and the redhead (Lightspeed Rescue Pink) smashed that night? Pretty sure she put a hotel key in his backpack…

This was an interesting read on young atheists, looking at how they came to adopt that philosophy. Even if I’m not a great one, I’m still a believer, though I feel there’s some great stuff in this article for everyone.

helicarriers

Hop over to my Instagram, and see my Avengers Helicarrier pic. Funny thing about that. Back in this post you’ll remember that I was having trouble selling my Helicarrier on Craigslist. I guess everything happens for a reason, as I just couldn’t seem to move it. In the meantime, I decided to open e Helicarrier that I’d bought for myself. Turns out 1/3 of the parts were missing. All the missile launchers, stickers, and the instructions. Not there. I didn’t notice at first, as I didn’t really think about the stickers, but I knew I was missing the missiles. Then I noticed the missile launcher was missing from the pod module. I also found it odd there were no instructions, but it was fairly simple to put together, so I didn’t think much of it. When I was done, however, I also noticed there were flaps and storage doors missing. That was the one I had planned to sell! You can see that one on the right. I decided to check the other one, and it was complete, as seen on the left. I ended up keeping it and took the other one back to Walmart.

I had the pleasure of joining the guys over at the MadCastPodcast to discuss this week’s episode of Mad Men. We discussed Sharon Tate, dirty hippies, and cockpunches. Be sure to check it out here!

This Week’s Posts

Monday Musings – The Strange Politics of Hazzard County

Thrift Justice – One For Me, And One For You

 

Cornell_Big_RedPosting from an iPad is a bitch, so I don’t have my regular collage maker. Since it’s Reunions, and it’s where I am as I write this, Cornell University had the West Week Ever.

22nd May2013

Collegiate Conundrum OR Reunited and Feels So Bad?

by Will
Cornell_Big_Red

That bear ain’t fuckin’ around! And, yes, I’m the Real Life Andy Bernard

I can’t follow up a Best of the West just with any old thing! So, I’m not really gonna try. At the moment, I’m trying to figure out if I should go to my 10 year college reunion. It’s in 2 weeks, and I really have no desire to go. Facebook has eliminated the need for these in-person gatherings, and it’s just too much of a hassle to get up there. Now, the problem: since I graduated, my mother’s been donating. Don’t get it twisted – it’s not like we have something named for us up there. She just sends what little she can in order to thank them for my scholarship. So, they’re honoring the donors at a special reception, and she wants to go. So, I may have to not only go to my college reunion, but also go with my mother. This is the kind of thing that could ONLY happen to me! So, as I figure my stuff out, here’s some footage of my a cappella group, Last Call, at our 15th anniversary concert. Watch the whole thing, or just skip to 00:27:28 for the stuff where I can be seen.