24th Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/24/15

by Will

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Welcome back to your favorite place to get pop culture news. Well, at least I hope it is!

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So, over the week, I watched the movie Inside Llewyn Davis. I’d wanted to see it for some time, and I needed to clear off the DVR, so Lindsay and I hunkered down to watch it. At the moment, however, I’m not really sure what I watched. The movie’s set in 1961, and centers around a struggling folk singer named Llewyn Davis. The role is played brilliantly by up and comer Oscar Isaac, and it’s got folks like Adam Driver, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman in supporting roles. My issue, however, is that it takes a non-linear storytelling approach, so the end of the film is actually the beginning. Or is it? I was kinda lost when it was all said and done. Due to the uncertain ending, it’s hard to tell if Llewyn’s story tells a complete arc. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Do I probably need to watch it again? Definitely.

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Next up, I caught 2 Guns, starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. This had been sitting on the DVR forever, and the only reason I even wanted to watch it was because it was based on a comic series from Boom! Studios. Basically, Mark and Denzel are partners, not realizing that they’re both undercover agents for different organizations. They’re trying to take down a drug lord, but then things go awry. I tend to hate heist movies, as sometimes my brain doesn’t process things fast enough for me to follow along. The movie itself was kinda boring, and the best perk was probably seeing Paula Patton’s breasts. I tend to like Wahlberg, but I’m not the biggest Denzel fan; I don’t know how he has this reputation of being such a great actor, when it seems to me like he’s always playing the same character. Anyway, this is a pretty forgettable movie. If you’re bored and catch it on cable, you might as well check it out. Otherwise, don’t go to any trouble to track it down.

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I finally caught Toy Story 3, making me the last American to watch that movie. Everyone knows the Toy Story…story, so do we really have to go through that? We do? OK, fine. Andy’s going off to college, and Woody, Buzz, and the gang wonder what that means for them. They accidentally get donated to a daycare center, which is lorded over by an evil bear – who makes their lives a living Hell. Now, when this movie came out, all I ever heard about was how it would make you cry. They even said it was sadder than the opening scene in Up. Bull and shit! Unlike that Up scene, Toy Story 3 did not make me cry. I’m not even sure what part was supposed to make me cry. Was it the ending? Or the part where they thought they were about to die? Where was it? Or are the rest of you just a bunch of weepy-eyed pansies?

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Like every other geek, I also caught Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! The movie started out in media res, so the action started right out of the gate. The thing was front-loaded with D-list celebrities, from Lou Ferrigno and Mark McGrath to President Mark Cuban and Vice President Ann Coulter (well, it is science fiction!).Everything set up in the first 2 movies had been cranked up to 11, and this was surely going to carry on that tradition, right? Right? Wrong. The thing kinda dragged in the middle. It wasn’t until the appearance of The Hoff that things started to pick up again. And the thing ended with a bang. I mean, pregnant Tara Reid was gobbled by a shark IN SPACE, then managed to survive reentry AND give birth INSIDE the shark before landing on Earth. Yes, everything in that sentence happened. I kinda wanted this to be the end of the trilogy, as I really can’t see where to go from here. However, Reid’s fate was left up in the air, and we were told we’d find out what happens to her in Sharknado 4. Basically, the fans decide whether or not she lives, by tweeting #AprilLives or #AprilDies. Yes, they’re Jason Todd-ing her character. During the middle of the movie, I just kinda wanted it to end, but by the end I, probably foolishly, found myself looking forward to the next installment.

Speaking of Sharknado, I’ve been watching what could probably be considered “too much” Cinemax lately. So, imagine my surprise when I thought I noticed adult star Ryan Driller (Oh God, I even know their names now…) in the White House scene of Sharknado 3. Anyway, I tweeted about it and he responded!

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I don’t quite get the syntax of what he was saying. “Be to I wish”? Maybe he meant “But I wish”? I dunno. He was probably tweeting mid-bang or something. Here’s hoping he makes it into Sharknado 4: Watch The Teeth.

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Speaking of movies, my good friend @jaycspence is a filmmaker, and he just finished his debut feature-length movie, You’re Fuck’n Dead! (also known as You’re !@#$’n Dead!). I was invited to a focus group screening last weekend, as he’s still editing it, and it’s really good. If you like grindhouse stuff, like Death Proof, you’ll love this. Basically, it’s about two sisters who find themselves stuck in a hick town, and their attempts to escape. There’s definitely more to it than that, but I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises. I’ll post more about it when it becomes widely available, but I just wanted to make sure it’s on your radar. You can visit the movie’s website here.

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On the TV front, Wayward Pines ended last night, and it was a doozy! A lot of you haven’t checked out the series yet, so I won’t spoil anything major. I will say that the series has made me want to read the book trilogy. I’m still kinda surprised that it’s a one-and-done series. I was reading an interview with the creator last night, and he insisted that it was never meant to have a second season. Now, money talks, and Fox could use as many hits as they can get, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually got a second season. But for now, all we’ve got are 10 episodes and 3 books. I highly recommend you take a visit to Wayward Pines. Just don’t try to leave!

Links I Loved

Scooper Hero – Grantland

Racist Readers Need Not Apply – Houstonia

The Worst Sci-Fi TV Finales – The Robot’s Pajamas

Jon Stewart Told Wyatt Cenac to ‘F*ck Off’ When He Was Challenged About Race – Vulture

15 Dollar Minimum Rage. – Team Hellions

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Maybe to a lesser extent than past Marvel movies, Ant-Man ruled the week. Its $60 million US opening take was lower than Disney wanted, but they were still happy with the $100 million that it took in worldwide. I saw the movie Monday night, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man‘s got a lot of heart, but was also pretty funny. Despite the fact that he’s been the subject of several thinkpieces on stereotypes, I LOVED Michael Peña’s Luis. That character was friggin’ hilarious! Seriously, that dude is a cinematic treasure, and I feel like the only reason he doesn’t get more credit is because he’s a Scientologist. Anyway, the movie was great, and the post-credit scenes did a good job of closing out Phase 2 and setting the stage for Phase 3. Like every other geek, I was already eagerly awaiting Captain America: Civil War, but now that they’ve dropped hints about Spider-Man’s integration into the universe, as well as the aforementioned bonus scenes, my level of anticipation has risen.

Ant-Man, like Guardians of the Galaxy, was expected to be “Marvel’s first bomb”, but it just goes to support the notion that Marvel Studios can really do no wrong. Even when we’re prepared to count them out, they still come out on top. Now, I don’t know what Edgar Wright’s version of the film would have been, but I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed it any more than I already did. Anyway, for continuing Marvel’s box office success, and for just being a really enjoyable movie, Ant-Man had the West Week Ever.

17th Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/17/15

by Will

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It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these that I’m gonna have to kick the dust off everything. Basically, brace yourself for a whole lot of “This Is What Will’s Been Watching”.

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A few years ago, I read Shopgirl, by Steve Martin (Yep, that Steve Martin). I remember it because we had lost power due to an intense heat wave, and I really had nothing else to do. Plus, as a novella, it was short. I remembered enjoying it, but feeling that it was a bit of a sad story. So, last week, when I saw that the movie was on (also starring Steve Martin), I thought, “Well, I remember liking this. Let’s watch!” I have to say that I don’t remember reading most of what was in that movie. I’m not sure if there was that much of a departure, or if my memory is just that bad. I watched that thing like I had never even encountered the story before, as everything felt new to me.

If you’ve never heard of Shopgirl before, it’s about a girl who works in a department store (Claire Danes), who begins an affair with one of her customers (Martin). He’s not looking for love, but she is. Meanwhile, Jason Schwartzman is there, being Jason Schwartzman – trying to get Danes to notice him. It’s a typical love triangle, and ends like you’d expect. Would I recommend it? Um, sure? I dunno. I seem to say this a lot, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. If you’ve ever wanted to see Claire Danes’s ass, this is the film for you. Other than that, I’m not sure I like Steve Martin in a dramatic role. I know everyone’s doing it, from Robin Williams (RIP) to Bill Murray, and he’s certainly capable at it. I just prefer the Steve Martin who “was born a poor Black child.”

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The next movie I watched was the unnecessary sequel, Horrible Bosses 2. I enjoyed the first movie, as it has a likable cast. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day? Hilarious! Throw in Jamie Foxx as “Motherfucker” Jones, the ex-con who’s gonna help the guys do in their overbearing bosses? Priceless! I can understand the desire to get the band back together, but there was no real reason for a sequel. The plot is really flimsy, and the antagonist isn’t even technically their “boss”, so the title is a misnomer. This time around, the guys have invented a product to revolutionize the way people take showers, when their investor decides to screw them over by forcing them into foreclosure and taking the product for himself. So, to get back at him, they decide to kidnap his son and ransom him to get back the money they need to pay off their loan. Only the son WANTS to be kidnapped, to stick it to his dad. And then I just stopped paying attention. It got way too convoluted for a comedy. This ain’t Oceans 11! Do not watch!

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On the TV front, there are a couple of new shows I’ve been checking out. First up is HUMANS, on AMC. In the near future, people can buy “Synths” – synthetic humans designed to make their owners’ lives easier. The duties performed by the Synths range from cooking and cleaning to more…sensual matters. The show really sort of focuses on how people react to having the Synths in their lives. Meanwhile, there seems to be a group of Synths who have gained autonomy, and they’re being hunted down because of what they might mean for the future of Synths and humanity. It’s a really interesting show, and if you’ve watched any British shows in recent years (it’s a joint venture between England’s Channel 4 and AMC), you’ll recognize some of the actors – like Katherine Parkinson, from The IT Crowd. It’s an 8-episode season, and AMC has only shown the first 3 episodes so far, so it’s not too late to jump in.

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Meanwhile on USA, I’m watching Mr. Robot. It’s a show about a hacker who gets recruited by a hacker collective known as f society, who plan to take down an evil corporation. To be perfectly honest, the whole take down plot is completely lost on me, but I enjoy the show because I like the characters. I haven’t watched a show with such a morally-ambiguous cast since Nip/Tuck. Now, I didn’t end up finishing that show, as boredom eventually kicked in (some cable network should really be showing reruns of that show. Get on that, somebody!). I hope the same thing doesn’t happen here, as I could feel boredom creeping in during this week’s episode. I’ll still watch for now, though, as the lead looks like SNL‘s Pete Davidson, so it’s fun to imagine that the show is just a really long, elaborate sketch.

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Over on Bravo, I fell in love with the scripted comedy Odd Mom Out. Starring Jill Kargman (and based on her 2007 novel Momzillas), the show focuses on a fictionalized version of Kargman as she has to navigate the excess and affluence of New York’s Upper East Side. When I first watched the show, I thought that everyone sucked at life. Then, I realized you had to get into the mindset of the show. The primary Bravo audience is tuning in for Real Housewives shows, so how would they receive the show? Now that I’ve seen the 6 episodes that have aired so far this season, I love the show. Kargman has this cool vibe to her where I’d really love to be best friends with her. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she always favorites my tweets when I write about the show. Abby Elliott costars as Jill’s sister-in-law, while The Office‘s David Wallace (Andy Buckley) plays Jill’s husband. It’s not for everyone – especially not the geek crowd that tends to read this post every week – but I think a few of you out there may really enjoy it.

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Finally, over on Fox, I discovered Wayward Pines. I originally meant to watch this show back when I wrote my Fox Upfronts post last year. Then, it debuted and I just kinda forgot about it. Well, I started watching it Monday night and ended up watching the first 5 episodes in one night. I thought it would just be a Twin Peaks ripoff, but it’s so much more, and it’s SOO GOOOD! Matt Dillon wakes up after a car accident and finds himself in a small Idaho town, called Wayward Pines. The townsfolk seem to be filled with fear, hidden behind forced smiles, and everyone’s under surveillance. Dillon tries to leave the town, but finds that he can’t because it’s walled off from the rest of the world. And that’s when shit REALLY gets weird. In Episode 5, you learn the truth about the town, and it will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The show is executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, so you really shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a twist. Still, Shymalan’s career has taken a beating in recent years, which is probably why they’re trying to downplay his involvement here. It’s a shame, because this could be seen as his comeback vehicle. The series finale is next Thursday, and I’m filled with questions. Also, I’m kinda surprised that Fox is sticking to this being a one-time limited series, since it seems to be a summer hit. I just can’t imagine they wouldn’t try to somehow develop a second season out of it. Anyway, you’ve got a week to catch up On Demand, so you can watch the finale along with me.

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Yesterday on social media, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) made the same Ivan Ooze joke about the depiction of Apocalypse in the next X-Men movie (I didn’t even know that many people had seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!). It does, however, lead back to an apprehension I’ve had since the X-Men movie franchise began. While it’s nowhere near as grounded as something like the Netflix Daredevil series, the X-Men movies have been grounded enough in their own version of reality that it was going to be hard to shift into some of the more “exotic” villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister. Based on the world that Bryan Singer created, there would never be an option to go against something like Mojo or The Brood. Luckily for them, they’ve wasted all their movies telling yet another iteration of the Xavier vs. Magneto sparring match. I just think there’s a wealth of characters that could be mined for an X-Men film, but they painted themselves into a corner. Now, they finally decide to go for one of the more outlandish X-Men villains, and this is how it’s received. Apocalypse just doesn’t fit in the world that they’ve crafted. Let’s hope he looks better when they slather him with effects.

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Speaking of comic book movies, the trailers for 3 anticipated films debuted last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con. These included the latest one for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as Suicide Squad, and Deadpool. Of course, bootleg versions of the latter two leaked online, as these things are wont to do, and Warner Bros were none too happy about it. They decided to officially release the Suicide Squad trailer, but only because their hand had been forced by “piracy”. And they made sure to address this while releasing the clip. Fans contrasted this with Marvel’s reaction to leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, where the company simply tweeted a jocular “Dammit, HYDRA!” Basically, the tone of the Warner Bros message was basically “We had no intention of showing this to you, but thanks to a few bad apples, we decided to show you the trailer as it was originally intended, and not in the low quality version that’s making the rounds.” They seemed to think they were getting in front of the issue, but seemed like such a bunch of crotchety old fogies while doing so.

Anyway, my thoughts on the trailers:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I’m no more excited about this movie than I was before. That’s to say, I’m really not excited about it. At all. I don’t really like the Snyderverse, as I didn’t hate Man of Steel, but I didn’t love it, either. I’m also not sure about Affleck’s Batman. I saw Man of Steel On Demand, and that just might be the case here. The only reason I’d see it in theaters is because Batman’s in it, but I’m not sure this is my Batman.

Suicide Squad – Again, not very excited. I’ve seen people losing their shit, talking about how awesome it looks. I’m happy for them, but I don’t share that sentiment. I can’t get out of my head how someone said that the promotional image of the team made them look like those Homies figures you get out of vending machines. That was SPOT ON! I’m not a big Will Smith fan, I don’t really like this version of Harley, and I don’t even know what to think of Leto’s Joker. Again, the only thing that might get me to see this in theaters is the fact that Batman’s in it.

Deadpool – looks fun, but Ryan Reynolds is box office poison right now. He’s got a string of flops behind him, from Green Lantern to R.I.P.D. to Self/Less. I’ve been a fan since Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place, but times are not great for him lately. Reynolds aside, I think the biggest problem is the R-rating. I’ve said it before, but I don’t see anything about Deadpool that deserves an R-rated movie. His comic isn’t a MAX title, so it’s not Mature Readers. That means there’s no sex and no cursing. While it could be pretty violent, it’s a cartoon violence, and nothing on par with, say, Punisher. I think they’re really cutting out a big chunk of their potential audience by making it rated R, as parents like to take their kids to superhero movies. The only 2 R-rated comic movies that have been successful are Blade and Kick-Ass. I still say that Blade did well because it drew in the vampire fans moreso than the comic people (Comic fans don’t really love Blade, as he’s never had a series to last more than 13 issues). I got nothing for Kick-Ass. Also, people will debate me on this, but I don’t think Deadpool’s a household name. Sure, comic fans know who he is, but if you showed him to the man on the street, he’d ask “How come Spider-Man has swords now?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out. Don’t get me wrong – I WANT it to be a hit, but I’m just skeptical right now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Where’d all that Vitamin Water money go?

– Brandy sang on the New York subway, and was shocked when nobody gave a shit

– I watched the ending to Batman: Arkham Knight on YouTube (way to not release it on the 360, Rocksteady!) THAT’s how you tell a Final Batman Story!

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My pals, Zac and Adam, co-host the No Topic Required podcast, and this week’s episode was very special, as it was the FINAL episode. Luckily, I was invited to take part, and it was a pretty fun time. I’m always sad to see one of my favorite podcasts go (looking at you, Cold Slither Podcast), but I’m sure that Zac will be back with something new once he recharges his batteries. In any case, you should go give the episode a listen!

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You know what didn’t have the West Week Ever? San Diego Comic-Con. Usually an informational mecca for the pop culture set, nothing really came out of there this year, outside the trailers I already mentioned. Marvel and Image had already revealed their big plans, so it was really DC’s con to lose. And lose they did. They announced the Milestone characters would be returning as Earth-M in the Multiverse (meh), Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson would be the artists for Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (meh), and Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns would be teaming up for a standalone Batman film (I’m listening…).

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Since I skipped 2 weeks, and left you all without a true WWE in that post, I didn’t want to come back and say that nobody had the West Week Ever. So, you know what had it? Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.

Have I read it? Nope. Have I heard good things about it? Nope. In fact, it’s probably just a cash grab, resulting from Lee’s manipulating caregivers. Still, its release this week is pretty important to the literary world, as it’s the sequel that no one thought they’d ever see. It’s the Ghostbusters 3, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit?, and Goonies II of literature. And that’s gotta count for something, right? I mean, Lee retreated from the fame generated from the release of To Kill A Mockingbird, and vowed to never release another book. Yet, here it is. It almost doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not. The most important thing is that it exists. And as of this past Tuesday, you can own it and read it for yourself. I definitely plan to read it, so I’ll share my thoughts once I do, but for now, Go Set A Watchman had the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.

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Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.

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Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.

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Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.

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Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

Photographer Dennis Stylist Lin

Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.

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It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.

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In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…

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I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek': The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids': ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas

ctu27

Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

19th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/19/15

by Will

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What a week, what a week. Sigh…

HTTM2

First up, I rented Hot Tub Time Machine 2 from Redbox. This is the type of movie that Redbox was made for – it wasn’t worth paying theater admission, but it’s pretty great entertainment value at $1.59. At first, I thought they were playing fast and loose with time travel, but it’s actually a pretty complex plot – something that its original stoner audience probably didn’t fully comprehend. The thing I like about the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise (at only 2 movies, can I call it a franchise? I’m calling it one) is that they don’t really spend a lot of time trying to fix things. Instead of trying to “make things right”, they royally fuck with the timeline for personal gain. Screw the Butterfly Effect – if it’s exciting or lucrative, they’ll do it. So, what’s this movie about? Well, did you see the first movie? Nope? Well, there’s a hot tub that can be used to travel through time. In the first movie, a group of friends traveled back to a fateful ski weekend in the late 80s. When they returned to the present, they had changed things drastically, and they were all successful. So, this movie picks up that thread, and it seems that they’re actually starting to get bored with their perfect lives. When Rob Corrdry’s character is shot in the crotch, they use the hot tub to travel to the future to find his killer, because the killer actually traveled to the present from the future. Once in the future, they see what they’re going to become, and all of their lives are pretty miserable. Got it? Yeah, don’t try to think about it too hard. Was it funny? Oh, Hell yeah! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m sad that it bombed in theaters, which means we won’t get a third installment.

Duff

Since I had a Redbox code, I could get another movie for free. While I really need to watch Interstellar and Selma, I wasn’t in the mood for anything heavy. So, I went with The DUFF. Starring Mae Whitman, it’s about a high school girl who makes the startling realization that she’s the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or D.U.F.F. in her group of friends. Supposedly, every group has a DUFF whose sole purpose is to make the other people look hotter and more popular. If you’ve ever seen She’s All That/Not Another Teen Movie, then you know that they just frumped up Whitman for the inevitable 3rd act reveal that *gasp* she’s attractive! It’s a really predictable movie, but still quite enjoyable. It’s got a great cast, including Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Allison Janney. I’m getting to the age, though, where I wonder if I should even be watching a high school teen comedy. I first felt that way when watching Superbad. I was like, “Am I supposed to think these girls are hot? Is Chris Hansen around?” Same thing here. While these were the standard twentysomethings-pretending-to-be-high-schoolers, I still felt like this movie wasn’t for me. I still really enjoyed it, though. It opened in fifth place, but went on to make $32 million on a budget of $8 million. I haven’t heard too many people talk about it, but I hope it finds new life on DVD.

Craig David 2015

When I was in college, I loved the Hell out of UK pop star Craig David. As a fellow light-skinned crooner, he was my role model. When Born To Do It came out, it was like he could do no wrong. “Fill Me In”, “7 Days”, Rendezvous”, “Walking Away” – all great early ’00s tracks.  I had just lost about 60 lbs, and was wearing nothing but beanies and H&M stuff. I think I even have a pic of myself doing his headphone pose. Anyway, it seemed like he was poised to be the next big thing. Forget about that curly-haired kid from *NSYNC! No, Craig David was the artist who was gonna be the face of Y2K R&B. And then Slicker Than Your Average came out. While Born To Do It had been influenced by the UK garage movement, Slicker was too…American. It sounded like the other stuff that was coming out, and there was nothing special about what he was bringing to the table. And the sales reflected that, as it didn’t come close to the success of his debut album. In recent years he’s been laying low, but he just resurfaced in a Buzzfeed article (yeah, I hate them, too, but they actually did something that wasn’t a listicle this time). It appears he’s a bodybuilder now and spends most of his time DJing in Miami. No longer the babyfaced artist of 2000, he’s now darker, buffer, and his face looks a lot harder. That’s what LIVING will do to ya. He says in the interview that he’s never done drugs, but he’s done something. Anyway, if you’re like me, and just glad to see that he’s still kicking around (and probably going to release a new album within the year), then check out that link.

Back-to-the-Future-Week

Do you love Back to the Future? Well, my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas have been celebrating the franchise all week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out all the great stuff they’ve been posting.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt is attached to direct that Channing Tatum Gambit movie that nobody wants.

-Demi Lovato has been cast as Smurfette in the 2017 CGI reboot of The Smurfs

-Lester Holt is officially the anchor of NBC Nightly News. Meanwhile, former anchor Brian Williams has been cast off to low-performing MSNBC

-Some long-haired hippie got killed on Game of Thrones this week, causing Winter to come or whatever.

Links I Loved

Asshole Admits To Being Asshole In Supreme Asshole Move – The Onion

‘Batman Forever': The Story Behind the Surprise Hit “Nobody Really Wanted” – The Hollywood Reporter

Race, Transracialization, and Other Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal – Reappropriate

Niagara Falls Comic Con 2015 Report – The Horror Movie BBQ

jurassic world gate

Are we even gonna pretend that Jurassic World didn’t have the West Week Ever? The movie made HALF A BILLION DOLLARS last weekend! Nothing comes close to that. On top of that, it helped me to have my best traffic in years, with this little post. About that post, the reactions to it were interesting. Some folks were disappointed that I didn’t actually do that math to determine how much it would cost to visit the park. No, but some intrepid folks did figure out how much it would cost to build and run a dinosaur theme park. Some people thought I wasted a bunch of time overanalyzing a fictional movie. I didn’t see it that way. It’s how my brain works, and my mind just ran with it. That said, I was surprised that the Black folks were of that mind, while White people seemed to love it. Why? Because White people LOVE dinosaurs! Also, coupon day. Yeah, they mention coupon day in the first movie. That said, one coupon day is not gonna sustain that park for a whole year. They’d have to have some other promotions or discounts. You know how you can take a Coke can to Six Flags to get a discount on admission? They’d need something like that, only it’d have to be the depleted battery from a Prius or something.

Lindsay and I saw the movie last week and really enjoyed it. She even said that the final fight was “badass”. She spends so much time reading books that it’ always amuses me when something from the outside world resonates with her, like a movie or TV show. Anyway, it was a good summer blockbuster. Don’t think too hard and enjoy your popcorn.

Someone on Twitter, I believe it was @gholson, said that Chris Pratt was miscast, and after reading that I watched the movie kinda agreeing with him. Pratt’s clearly Hollywood’s new It Guy, but I feel like they wanna make him Harrison Ford when that’s not who he is. I felt he spent the whole movie kinda posturing. Stand on the elevator, and look like a badass. Ride the motorcycle, and look like a badass. It’s a very one-dimensional character, but this is a movie about a dinosaur resort, not Dickens. He did OK with what he was given, but what he was given wasn’t much.

On a podcast that I listen to, one of the cohosts mentioned that he wanted to see more of the park before everything went to shit. I kinda agree with him, as you don’t get to really take in the majesty of everything going on before disaster strikes. It would’ve been nice to have had more time getting familiar with the attractions, but they only had so much time to work with.

Anyway, I’m just nitpicking. I really did enjoy the film, even though I barely remember the original. I realize to some fans that this was almost like a religious experience, so I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from them. All hail Jurassic World! For breaking every film record, and for giving me a nice night out from the baby, Jurassic World had the West Week Ever.

 

 

16th Jun2015

The Price of Admission: The Socioeconomic & Racial Implications of Jurassic World

by Will

jurassic world gate

Let’s talk about Jurassic World  namely about the socioeconomic status of the people who visit the park. I asked this question when the movie was first announced, and I still wanna know: how much does it really cost to visit Jurassic World?

First off, we have to look at comparable theme parks. The Washington Post recently posted an article about how parks like Walt Disney World have priced middle class families out of the market, as the cost of a daily pass is now $100 per person. In fact, Walt Disney World is currently promoting a 6-night, 7-day package for a family of 4 at $2,370 – which doesn’t include transportation to the park. Disney is an experience, but it’s essentially just a park full of rides. Jurassic World has motherfucking DINOSAURS! Sure, it’s not like they went back in time and retrieved them, but they still managed to genetically engineer dinosaurs in the present day. There’s GOT to be a premium on that, right? I mean, based on the movie, enough time has passed that humans are pretty blasé about the fact that this place even exists. We learn that attendance is steady, but it’s not growing or really going down – which is where the Indominus Rex comes in. A new attraction equals a spike in attendance.

Jurassic World crowd

All this is to say that there weren’t a lot of minorities at Jurassic World. While everyone was captivated by the dinosaurs onscreen, I was focused on the folks in the background. The park attendees don’t seem rich, per se, but the majority of them are White. In fact, most of them appear to be middle- to upper middle-class, which might actually be the most unrealistic part of the movie about a park full of dinosaurs. How does a middle class family afford to fly to Costa Rica AND go to the park full of dinosaurs? There’s also the ferry to Isla Nublar, but according to the park’s website, that’s included in the cost of park admission. So, why aren’t there more Black people at Jurassic World? I think of it this way: you really only have to tell us something once. I forget which comedian said it, but he used to joke that if Black people see folks running, they join in and don’t ask questions. I figure after the tragedy at the original Jurassic Park, the Black community was essentially like, “Well, fuck that shit!”

Kids Playing With Dinosaurs

I’m even gonna go out on a limb here and say that there’s a racial disparity in the love for dinosaurs. I always joke with @sharepointjoe about this, but White people LOVE dinosaurs. It’s almost like a developmental phase. There’s the phase where little boys love trucks, and next they love dinosaurs. “Well, Will – the movie made half a billion dollars, so surely that means a lot of Black people went to see it.” Yup, they sure did. But, you see, Black people love MOVIES. If given the choice to see real dinosaurs, or a movie about people being attacked by dinosaurs, we’ll choose the movie 9 times out of 10. Going to the dinosaur park would be “White People Stuff”, like white water rafting and brie. In fact, if you Google Image search “black people and dinosaurs”, you get NOTHING.

I also think the Black Church plays a role in things, as there’s not really an emphasis on dinosaurs. They, like the unicorn, didn’t get on the Ark. Then, down to simple economics, with the exception of Oprah and Beyonce, Black people just don’t have the disposal income to go to dinosaur island. With the disproportionate love of dinosaurs, I feel like White families are more likely to scrimp and save up for the dino resort than Black families, who’d use that money for something else.

Equally, though, one thing that people don’t realize is that, due to the popularity of the park, one would also have to assume that it would result in an increase in attendance at the Creation Museum. The extreme Christian Right would LOATHE Jurassic World, as everything it’s done is an abomination in the eyes of The Lord. Plus, add in the fact that they’re hard-working, salt of the Earth people, they more than likely can’t afford the trip to Jurassic World. After all, that would require a trip to Costa Rica, and that’s where “all the damn Mexicans come from”. Also, you can see animatronic dinosaurs there, so it’s a lesser experience, but at a much lesser price. Right now, the cost of adult admission to the Creation Museum is only $29.95 for an adult (which is good for admission on TWO consecutive days), and you’ve only gotta get yourself to Kentucky. The mere existence of Jurassic World is probably driving Creation Museum attendance through the roof – which will surely help them finish that life size Ark they’ve been building.

Essence Festival 2015

So, what could the park do to lure more minority guests, which equates to more dollars? Four words: Jurassic World Jazz Festival. The annual Essence Festival is HUGE, drawing thousands to New Orleans every July. Just this year alone, the festival features headliners such as Usher, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Missy Elliott. Move the festival to Isla Nublar, or create a similar festival, and watch the dollars roll in. Also, film a Beyonce video there. She’s the highest profile Black entertainer these days, so she’s got the audience. Plus, it’s an exotic location that everyone would be curious about. Remember when Boyz II Men filmed the “Water Runs Dry” video, and everybody wanted to go to the desert with the white sand? It’d be just like that. But you know what would go a long way to appealing to minority guests? STOP LETTING THE DINOSAURS GET LOOSE AND KILL PEOPLE!!! You take care of that simple matter, and you just might have the Black community on your side. For now, though, the cost (and risk) is just too high.

12th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/12/15

by Will

photovisi-download (17)

 

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I watched a LOT of stuff this week, so let’s get to it!

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First on the docket was a documentary on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted, about the “professional amateurs” or “pro-ams” of the porn industry. You know those sites like Bang Bus, where they pick up random girls off the street? Those aren’t really strangers! No, they’re newcomers to the industry who pretend to be randos. I’m shocked and appalled! Anyway, since California passed laws requiring condoms in pornography, a lot of the industry picked up and moved to Miami. The film follows a handful of girls who simply answered an ad on Craigslist, offering a free trip to Miami for some modeling work. It was really fascinating, as a lot of the girls answer the ad as they see it as the only way to get out of their podunk towns. You also get to meet the family of one of the girls, as she confesses to what she’s been doing in Miami. It’s cringe-inducing when, after her mom asks if she’s worried about getting pregnant, she explains that the guys finish on her and not in her. Yes, to her mother! Since the average career lifespan of a pro-am is about 6 months, most of the girls have left the industry by the time the film ends, and they’re back in those podunk towns, waiting tables or going to school. I learned a lot from this documentary, which was surprisingly produced by Rashida Jones. And for you puritans out there, it’s about porn, but they don’t really show anything, so don’t be afraid to check it out.

Jersey Boys Quad jpg

Next up, I watched Jersey Boys, which was nowhere near as interesting as I thought it’d be. Based on the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name, Jersey Boys follows the rise and fall of ’60s group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Seeing as how I come from the school of The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats, I was expecting something juicy along those lines. The problem, however, is that there’s nothing inherently interesting about Frankie Valli. All of the action happens around him, but doesn’t really concern him. If anything, the real star of the movie is group founder Tommy DeVito, as he’s the one who keeps the action going. Plus, the movie included my least favorite part of the biopic: when they age up the young actors with really bad makeup to make them look like the current old versions of the characters. I swear, Frankie Valli’s old man makeup was so bad that he looked like a zombie. The interesting thing to me is that the Frankie from the Broadway show, John Lloyd Young, reprised his role in the movie, however I didn’t feel like he brought much to the role.

John-Wick-Poster

Then, I watched John Wick or, as I like to call it, Headshots For Everyone! Oh my God, this was an amazing movie. I’ve never been what you might call a Keanu Reeves “fan”, but I never disliked him. Nope, not even The Matrix made me board the Keanu bandwagon. After watching this movie, however, I’m a fan. This movie makes Taken look like an Afterschool Special. When the Russian mob kills his dog – a final gift from his deceased wife – retired hitman John Wick goes on a killing spree to get his revenge. It’s such a beautifully shot film, with an excellent soundtrack. I’d heard people raving over the film when it came out, but I never really thought it’d be my cup of tea. The more I heard, however, the more curious I got. Luckily, Lionsgate sees John Wick as a franchise, and a second movie is on the way. I can’t wait!

whiplash

Finally, I watched Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. I’ve been wanting to watch this since awards season, but I had no idea just what I was getting myself into. This movie is INTENSE, but excellent. I mentioned a few weeks back that Teller was growing on me, and this movie just sealed the deal. He was spectacular in his role as a first-year student at a music conservatory, determined to become one of the great jazz drummers. Simmons was similarly amazing, as the offensive and abusive band conductor who could make or break Teller’s career. The energy between the two actors is electrifying, and I found myself on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. Who knew a film about jazz could do that to a person? You should definitely see this movie.

Invincible-Iron-Man-1-Cover-88069

So, this week, Marvel revealed that Iron Man is essentially going to be their flagship character following the events of Secret Wars. Launching out of the event will be a new Invincible Iron Man series, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Marquez. Taking place 8 months after the end of Secret Wars, this Tony Stark isn’t as rich as he used to be, so he’s no longer funding the Avengers. However, he’s got a new armor that can become all of his other armors, and he’ll have a new supporting cast. While Bendis has written Tony as part of other books, such as New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, this is the first time he’ll be taking a crack at him in his own title. In Kieron Gillen’s run on the character, he revealed that Tony Stark was adopted, so one big mystery during Bendis’s run will be “Who are Tony Stark’s biological parents?” I remember hearing about the adoption storyline, and thought it was kinda contrived, but Bendis seems to think he can do something with it, and I generally trust him. That said, this announcement makes me worry about Miles Morales, as I hope it doesn’t mean that Bendis is moving on from the character. I mean, in order for him to grow, Miles will need to be handled by other creators, with diverse voices, but there’s something to be said for being handled by your creator. I hope Bendis has the bandwidth to handle both characters.

jon-bernthal

Speaking of Marvel, it was announced that Jon Bernthal will be joining the Netflix Daredevil series next season, as Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. Bernthal’s last big role was as Shane on The Walking Dead, but I’ve never watched an episode of that show, so I can’t really say anything about his performance. I do remember him as part of CBS’s The Class, with Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. That show was a comedy, and he was kind of a meathead on there, but I think he’s got the look. The Walking Dead fans seemed to be pumped, so I guess this was great casting on Marvel’s part.

Jessica Jones

Meanwhile in the Marvel Netflixverse, A.K.A. Jessica Jones has dropped the A.K.A. It’s probably for the best, as the original title was kinda stupid. Still, I’m sure a lot of folks are wondering “Who’s Jessica Jones and why should we care about her?”, but they were asking that regardless of what the show was called.

reboot_tv_cartoon

It was announced this week that 90s CGI cartoon Reboot would be returning for 26 episodes, and the fans rejoiced. Seriously, people have been begging for a Reboot…reboot for years, so I guess they can chill for now. I, however, never watched more than one episode of that show. I HATE mid-90s CG, and that show just reeked of it. If anyone watched this season of Community, Reboot looked like the virtual reality machine that Elroy sold Greendale. Anyway, technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and if they’re truly starting back at 0, then I might give this new iteration a chance.

the-simpsons

Speaking of cartoons, there was uproar this week as two tidbits were released regarding the next season of The Simpsons. First of all, Sideshow Bob would finally kill Bart in the next Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode. That’s not really a big deal, since those thing are practically dream episodes and nothing in them matters anyway. Second, it was announced that Homer and Marge would undergo a legal separation next season. Since this is likely just the plot of one episode, it’s not like this is something that’s gonna stick (R.I.P. Maude Flanders). After almost 30 years on the air, it’s hard coming up with “fresh” ideas. A lot of folks are saying that these plots show it’s time for the show to pack it in, but it’s got people talking about an ancient show, so there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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Is this woman White or Black? That, my friends, is the question that fired up social media last night. The woman pictured is Rachel Dolezal, an activist and Africana studies professor from Washington state. According to her White parents, however, she has been passing herself off as Black for years. Turns out she’s just been doing her best George Hamilton/Tom Jones impression, and she’s not really Black – even though she’s the president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. You can read more about it here (I typically hate Buzzfeed, but they have the most comprehensive timeline of the whole thing), but her parents have put her on BLAST for some reason. If you met her, what would you think she is?

Dolezal

I’m just fascinated by the whole thing. If it’s true, wasn’t she scared of being found out eventually? What was it like, day in, and day out, wondering “Is today the day?” I’m always kinda impressed by people who manage to lead double lives, so this kinda goes in that pile. Is the story true? I guess time will tell, but the Twitter Sleuths are on the case.

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I had the pleasure of joining Corey and Howie over on the UnderScoopFire Podcast last week, and the episode is now live. We discussed the up and coming television stars who are on the verge of making The Leap to the big screen. Did your favorite star make the cut? Hint: if they star on The CW, they probably did.

While we’re talking about me, I had an interesting week. First of all, I got my first cease & desist letter, from Lionsgate. If you remember, a few weeks back, I posted some concept art that may or may not be of the zords from the upcoming Power Rangers movie. A lot of sites  had been asked to take the pics down, so I surmised I might be asked to do the same, should I ever end up on their radar. Well, I’m small potatoes, and that didn’t happen. So, the other day, I tweeted this:

Lionsgate

Well, some Lionsgate intern clearly has a filter for their name on Tweetdeck, and caught that conversation. How do I know this? Not 3 hours after this conversation, I received an email from Lionsgate’s legal representation, with a whole bunch of gobbledegook about unauthorized usage of concept art, blah, blah, blah. They “request [my] assistance in the removal of the aforementioned artwork from [my] website.” OK. I’ll get around to it eventually. I’d just like to point out that I did your work for you, Lionsgate. Like I said, I’m small potatoes, but you gave me something to check off the vision board, so I thank you.

Reanimator

Next up, I got to appear in my third comic book this week (the others being Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and Zombie Proof), as my good friend, Keith Davidsen, is currently writing a Reanimator series for Dynamite Entertainment. Going into this, I knew NOTHING about the Reanimator movies and Dr. Herbert West, but the series is accessible enough that none of that matters. Anyway, Keith did me a solid by writing me into issue #3 (which shipped Wednesday) – where I’m brutally murdered. The likeness isn’t all that sharp, but apparently I own a hardware store and I give great customer service. R.I.P., Comic Will. The overall story’s great, and it’s been getting good reviews. You can still pick up issues 1 & 2 at your local comic shop and, like I said, #3 – with my death – came out this week.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Degrassi, just cancelled by TeenNick, has been renewed by Netflix. It will return in 2016 as Degrassi: Next Class

Pitch Perfect 3 is officially happening

According to TVLine, Fuller House will feature Danny Tanner’s younger, BLACK wife! YES, Y’ALL! Apparently, they’re currently casting for an “attractive, vivacious, and youthful” actress to protray Danny’s 40 year old wife.

-Chris Hemsworth has been cast as the receptionist in Paul Feig’s female Ghostbusters film

-Raven-Symone has officially joined The View as a permanent co-host

-Chiwetel Ejiofor, or as I like to call him Chitlin Ejector, has been cast as Baron Mordo in the Doctor Strange film

Links I Loved

Remembering Mary Ellen Trainor – UnderScoopFire

G.I. Joe’s Dumb Policies on Facial Hair – The Robot’s Pajamas

In 1991, I Turned Our Shed Into A Clubhouse. – Dinosaur Dracula

Check out Sales to Astonish. – Team Hellions

All-New, All-Different Marvel Creative Team Fantasy Booking – The Kliqnation

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So, Batman #41 came out this week, with Commissioner James Gordon as the new guy in the Batsuit. I’m still not entirely sold on the idea, but I’m curious to see where it goes. They’re going for a Team Batman approach, as he has a tactical team up in some kind of Bat Blimp that helps him out. Also, in Detective Comics #41, Detective Renee Montoya made her post-New 52 debut. Is she The Question? Is she still a lesbian? We’ll have to wait for answers to all of these questions. Still, as interesting as these books were, none of them knocked my socks off. In fact, nothing really blew me away this week, so I’m sorry to announce that no one had the West Week Ever. Try harder next week, America!

05th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/5/15

by Will

photovisi-download (16)

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This_is_where_i_leave_you

The first thing I watched this week was This Is Where I Leave You, featuring an all-star cast including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and more. When a family’s patriarch dies, he requests that his family sit shiva to mourn him. And hilarity ensues. Kinda. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy, and is more of a dramedy. There are funny moments, but these are all just damaged people, and it’s actually more sad than funny. I mean, all their marriages are falling apart, they’re not happy with their lives, and they really don’t know where to go next. I’m sure a lot of folks probably relate to it, but it was kind of a downer. It does end on a note of optimism, though, so there’s that.

the_watch

Next up, I caught The Watch, starring Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade. Originally called Neighborhood Watch, this movie BOMBED in theaters because it came out right after the Trayvon Martin situation, when neighborhood watch wasn’t a very popular concept. Anyway, when a mysterious murder takes place in the CostCo that he manages, Stiller forms a neighborhood watch to solve the crime. While investigating, they find out that an alien threat is plaguing their town, and that Earth is on the verge of an invasion. This was a curious little film. First of all, I learned that when you watch a movie On Demand, you get the version that originally appeared on its respective network. This version aired on FX, however it was an R-rated comedy, so there were lots of dubs and edits. The interesting thing, however, is that there was really no need for it to have been rated R. I mean, sure, the language is “colorful”, but I think they could’ve made the same movie at a PG-13. After all, the “fucks” and other words just seemed out of place in the script anyway. Apparently, it was originally developed as a PG-13 teen comedy, and it was later rewritten by Seth Rogen to be this R-rated thing. I liked the cast and I liked the movie. If anything, however, I’d say it was too short. It clocks in around 90 minutes, and it sets up a lot of stuff that doesn’t really have a deserving payoff.

big-trouble-in-little-china-517543541f76f

It was reported this week that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, fresh off the successful opening of San Andreas, will star in a remake of 80s cult hit Big Trouble in Little China. And the internet lost its mind! On Facebook, it was interesting to see the racial divide of the reactions. White kids of the 80s thought it was blasphemy, as that movie is considered some kind of holy grail. Black folks were like, “I’d see that.” Meanwhile, Asian folks were hesitant for two reasons: 1) some of them “claim” The Rock, due to his Pacific Islander lineage and 2) Big Trouble In Little China is kinda Orientalist, and not really the kind of move you can pull off in today’s politically correct world. For the folks upset about this news, I want to point out two things: 1) some Asian American group will probably protest the Hell out of this movie and it’ll never be made OR 2) it’ll join The Fall Guy and Spy Hunter as movies The Rock’s been attached to, yet never got off the ground. I remember liking Big Trouble, but I haven’t seen it in a LONG time – odd, seeing as how I think I own it. In any case, I’m not a cinephile, so there aren’t really any movies that are “untouchable” to me. I was always excited to see it when it came on TV, but I also would love to see what The Rock could do with the material, especially since it’s supposedly his favorite movie. So, I’ve got a “Let’s wait and see” attitude about the whole thing.

emma stone aloha

Speaking of race and movies, there was a big hubbub this week, as Cameron Crowe’s Aloha bombed at the box office (beaten by the aforementioned San Andreas). The backlash against the movie, however, is that Emma Stone was cast as a half Asian character named Allison Ng. Many people felt that there were half Asian actresses who should’ve been considered for the role before Stone. Well, we don’t know who tried out for the role and was rejected. All we know is that Stone got the role. Some people have written articles listing those potential actresses, like Chloe Bennett, Olivia Munn, and Kristin Kreuk. Well, I can honestly say that none of those have the acting chops to get my ass in a seat to see a movie. They may have potential, but they’re just not there yet. They’re not marquee stars. In fact, at the moment, you can’t name a marquee Asian female star to fill that role. Then again, if you don’t give them roles, then how are they ever expected to break out? It’s a complicated situation, and clearly even Stone didn’t have the drawing power to make this thing a hit. I just wonder why all of this is falling on Stone. I mean, it really sucks to be her right now, as the movie’s failure seems to be placed on her, but then Crowe even apologized for casting her. To her, it was a job. She was hired and she performed it. All this other stuff was out of her control. In any case, it’s clear that Emma Stone did not have the West Week Ever.

Doctor-Strange-The-Ancient-One

Meanwhile, there’s a similar debate brewing around the Doctor Strange movie, as it’s rumored that Tilda Swinton may be up for the role of The Ancient One. Ya know, the old Tibetan man who mentored Doctor Strange in the mystic arts. Some outlets are saying that this is a win for feminism, but it’s at the cost of ethnic diversity. I mean, why are you casting a middle age White woman as an ancient Asian man? I could waste some more words on this, but I really, really don’t care much for Doctor Strange, so I basically don’t have a horse in this race. My pal Jenn has a much more nuanced take on the whole thing. Call me when they try to cast Taylor Lautner as Luke Cage.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Awesome Con 2015 Cosplay Gallery

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

-After 14 seasons, Degrassi: The Next Generation is ending this summer

-My buddy @ClassickMateria sent me this. I have no idea what’s going on here.

-Stephen Colbert announced Jonathan Baptiste as his bandleader for The Late Show.

-Bruce Jenner will now be known as Caitlyn Jenner

-Henry Simmons has been promoted to series regular on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Furious 7‘s James Wan is slated to direct Jason Momoa in DC’s Aquaman film

-TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland ended its 6-season run this week

full-house-lifetime-movie

-Apparently, Lifetime is making The Unauthorized Full House Story. Have you ever seen a plainer-looking group of people outside of an Old Country Buffet? Seriously, this looks like a frame from Too Many Cooks.

Links I Loved

AWESOMECON 2015: Best of TMNT – The Sewer Den

Official Teaser Image For ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT Marvel Universe – The Kliqnation

ALF Had a German Singing Career – The Robot’s Pajamas

community-season-6-cast

Community was the little show that could. It survived 2 networks, the loss of 3 cast members, and several other behind-the-scenes changes. Well, this week saw what was most likely the series finale. After 6 seasons, the study room is closed.

This hasn’t been the smoothest season for Community, as many folks didn’t keep up with it once it transitioned to Yahoo Screen. I’m one of those people, as I would forget that new episodes were released every Tuesday, so I’d end up binging a bunch of them at once. Still, when I did catch it, I enjoyed it immensely, as this was one of the strongest of the six seasons. On top of that, the new castmembers Paget Brewster and Keith David fit in like they’d been there the whole time. I’d gotten to a point where I missed Shirley, but really didn’t miss Troy or Pierce, so I welcomed the new additions to the Save Greendale Club.

The episodes were some of the strongest in the series’ run, especially this year’s paintball episode. The show has always been pretty meta, and the finale was the most meta it’s ever been. In the finale, the group mulls over how a seventh “season” of their friendship would play out. Series creator Dan Harmon has always been an astute student of television tropes, so that’s fully at play here. Let’s be honest, though -there’s no season 7 coming, and everyone involved knows that. There will be no #sixseasonsandamovie, as this was most likely the last time we’ll see the Greendale bunch. Knowing this actually brought a tear to my eye as I was watching the final scenes of a show that changed the way that I viewed television. I’m gonna miss Jeff Winger, Annie Edison, Britta Perry, Abed Nadir and Dean Pelton. Hell, I’m even gonna miss Frankie Dart and Elroy Patishnik. They usually brought a smile to my face (even during the “gas leak season”), and I thank them for that. It may not have been on a “real” network, but this finale season of Community had more quality than most of what you’ll find on the Big Four these days. And for going out while the quality was still on top, Community had the West Week Ever.

29th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/29/15

by Will

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seeking asian female

I watched a couple of documentaries this week. First up was Seeking Asian Female, part of the Independent Lens series  on PBS. It follows an older White man who suffers from “Yellow Fever”, as in he is obsessed with Asian women. He has tried mail order bride companies, and now he’s discovered the internet. He meets a Chinese woman online, half his age, who agrees to marry him without even meeting him. He goes to China to bring her back to America on a fiancee visa. So, they have 3 months together as they plan whether or not a wedding is even going to happen. She finds out that he’s poor and they have to struggle to make ends meet, however she’s ashamed to go back to China because she knows that everyone will talk about her behind her back. It was interesting to watch because while the guy’s interest began as some sort of fetish, he genuinely cares for his fiancee, and she for him. The question is whether or not their relationship can survive their differences. It was really good, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to kill an hour.

southern rites

Next up was the documentary Southern Rites. This HBO documentary followed filmmaker Gillian Laub as she returned to a southern town that she’d documented in the New York Times Magazine article “A Prom Divided”. Basically, the town of Vidalia, Georgia, up until recently held segregated proms. While the schools were integrated, the proms were not. The White kids would have theirs one night at the community center, and the Black kids would have theirs the next night at the community center. White kids could come to the Black prom, but not the other way around. The 2009 article garnered so much attention that it pressured the county into integrating the prom the following year, but Laub wasn’t allowed to document it. Since she couldn’t get into the prom, she turned her attention to other matters going on in the county. First up, an older White man, Norman Neesmith, was on trial for the murder of a 22 year old Black man, Justin Patterson. Apparently, Patterson had been in Neesmith’s house, smoking and fooling around with Neesmith’s daughter. Neesmith chased Patterson and his brother out of the house, shooting at them. A bullet hit Justin, and he died outside the property. Meanwhile, Laub also follows the campaign trail of the potential first Black sheriff of the county. It’s interesting to see how the racial divide still permeates this small town that’s been resistant to change. I won’t spoil the endings, but there are no real cut and dried answers. It’s definitely the kind of documentary that will start a conversation.

two-night-stand-poster

Finally, I was bored one night and watched Two Night Stand On Demand. Starring Miles Teller and newcomer Analeigh Tipton, it’s about two young adults who have a one night stand that ends rather miserably. Unfortunately, they get snowed in together, so they’re forced to call a truce. Ya know, I’m starting to warm up to Teller. While I used to want to punch him in the face (he just has one of those faces), he’s really starting to grow on me. I’m also impressed by his career arc. He had carved out a niche doing R-rated comedies (21 & Over, Project X), but instead he branched out and did Whiplash and the upcoming Fantastic Four. He may actually have range. Anyway, the real star here is Tipton, surprisingly in her first lead role. Apparently, she was a finalist in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model, but you’d never really know it here. She’s cute, but accessible. It’s a modern-day romcom, but it was still a fun watch.

great-bikini-bowling-bash

This might be sort of “blue” for some of you, but I watched what’s colloquially known as an “adult movie”. I mean, I’m paying for Cinemax, so I might as well watch it, right? Here’s my issue: whatever happened to the Cinemax Code? Back when I was a teen, Cinemax movies starred folks like Shannon Tweed, and you knew that the sex was simulated. Nowadays, however, they’re using REAL PORN STARS! They broke the code! Now I can’t tell if it’s simulated or real. It’s all about the angles, and for all I know, they’re really doing it, and the camera’s just blocking it out. The mystery is killing me! Anyway, the movie I watched was The Great Bikini Bowling Bash. It starred Mary Carey, Sophia Bella, and Krissy Lynn – a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, so there was something for everyone. So, the brunette’s family is about to lose their bowling alley, so they decide to have a bikini bowling exhibition in order to raise money. When that doesn’t make enough, they decide to challenge a local millionaire to a bowl off. If they win, he saves the alley. He wins, and he gets to bang all three of them. Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t go in the direction you figure it’ll go in. I mean, how did the filmmakers pass up a golden opportunity for a 4-way?! Anyway, they win, and the bowling alley is saved. Oh and they all take turns banging each other throughout the movie. I was livetweeting it while watching, and some folks on Twitter wondered what I was watching, so there ya go.

convergence

This week saw the end of the Convergence event from DC Comics. Originally designed as something to hold readers over as the company moved to the West Coast, it somehow evolved into an “event” that was designed to change the status quo. I didn’t read it because I was getting a decidedly “been there, done that” vibe from the whole thing. It also didn’t help that no one involved seemed to be able to explain what it was truly meant to accomplish. Well, in the final issue, we found out why: (SPOILERS) the resolution of the story basically wiped out the original Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985. That was an important storyline where several of DC’s different universes were merged into one. Back then, it was felt that continuity had gotten too complicated, so it was decided that everything should be “streamlined” into one Earth. As you can imagine, this caused more problems than it solved. Every ten years or so, DC has an event to sort of tweak what was done during Crisis, but this is the first time that they’ve basically done away with the original miniseries itself. So, now DC has an infinite number of Earths again, all available to creators who have a good story to tell with them. After 30 years, we’re right back to square one. And I feel this is a TERRIBLE idea. Whether or not the original Crisis “worked”, there was a problem with timelines and continuity that needed to be fixed. Now, not only is that original problem still a concern, but now it has 30 years of baggage on top of it. It might seem great that all of these worlds are now available for creators, but it only matters if they actually use them. Now begins the questions of “Where is ___ ?” and “Which Earth is the real Earth?” Only time will tell, True Believer! Whoops, wrong company…

2995_chris_pine

Meanwhile in DC land, it’s been rumored that Chris Pine is in talks to play Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film. I like Pine and all, but I thought the ship had sailed that was trying to make him a marquee star. Sure, he has the Star Trek films, but he also had This Means War. Plus, this also means that he’s no longer in the running for the role of Green Lantern, which is another rumor that had been floating around.

bebop and rocksteady

In other film news, here’s Bebop and Rocksteady in their human form from TMNT 2. I find it hilarious that Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks is Bebop. And you can’t tell from this angle, but Rocksteady is Sheamus from the WWE. Anyway, I like their look, but I’m sure everyone else hates it, so I’ll just be over here…

Most of you probably know Jenny Lewis as “the girl from The Wizard“, but she’s done so much more than that. Later on, she went on to join the band Rilo Kiley, and now she’s a solo artist. In her latest music video, “She’s Not Me”, she pokes fun at her child star past. If you were ever a fan of The Golden Girls, you’ll remember the episode she was in. The weirdest thing about this video, to me, is that the bearded dude is NOT Chris Parnell. No, that’s Leo Fitpatrick, who played Telly in KIDS. TELLY FROM KIDS HAS A GRAY BEARD! I’m so old…

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My Twitter pal, @TheSewerDen was profiled on NJ.com for his amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection. He’s converted a room in his parents’ house into essentially a museum of all the TMNT ephemera he’s collected over the years. Seeing this makes me wish I’d taken pictures of my Power Rangers collection before it was dismantled. The thing I loved about this profile was how supportive his parents have been in regards to his collecting. I can’t wait to see what my kid gloms onto in the future.

Links I Loved

Do it, Rockapella: A Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Contestant Looks Back – The A.V. Club

The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever – Vulture

Marvel Studios Fails Fans by Fighting Marvel TV (& Not Hiding It Well) – Screenrant

25 Comic Book Movies That Never Got Made – The Robot’s Pajamas

Goodbye F.A.O. Schwarz: Toy Lovers Prepare for Store’s Closing – The New York Times

I’ve written about Kung Fury in the past, but I’m happy to announce that it’s finally here! Premiering last night on El Rey Network (and subsequently on YouTube), the Kickstarter-funded “movie” finally saw the light of day. I put movie in quotes because the whole thing only clocks in at about 31 minutes. The thing has so much potential, but there’s only so much you can do on a budget. Now that it’s here, it’s even more absurd than I thought it would be – and I mean that in a good way. There’s Hitler and Thor and laser raptors and more! An homage to 80s action shows, Kung Fury follows a kung fu cop as he travels to the past to kill Adolph Hitler.

So, what did I think of it? Was it awesome? Yes. Was it as awesome as it could have been? No. Here’s my nitpicky thing: why go to Nazi Germany to kill Hitler when he was apparently already in 1985 Miami? Why not just kill him now/then? Also, I was kinda surprised El Rey showed it with a TV-14 rating, considering they say “fuck” a LOT. And in the middle of the evening, to boot! It’s an impressive venture, as the entire thing was filmed with greenscreen in Sweden, but I felt they could’ve chilled on the effects a bit. Instead of rendering a million Nazis, how about using that money to make the movie longer than an infomercial? I mean, if you saw the trailer, you’ve basically already seen the whole thing. I think I was looking for something like Axe Cop meets Danger 5, but I’m not quiet sure it accomplished that. And that weird cameo by “The Hoff 9000″? I dunno, man. Still, it was an impressive production, and that’s why Kung Fury had the West Week Ever.

15th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/15/15 (Upfronts Edition)

by Will

photovisi-download (14)

 

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This is gonna be a long one, so strap in and get comfortable. Last year, I did daily posts about the network upfronts announcing their new shows and schedules. This year, we’re doing it all here. But first, some movie stuff.

st vincent

I really put Redbox to work over the past few days, catching up on some films I’d missed in theaters. First up was St. Vincent. Starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, it’s basically about the friendship formed between McCarthy’s son and Murray’s curmudgeonly character. It’s one of those films where Murray actually kinda acted instead of just playing himself. It’s a cute film, and I recommend it – even to those folks who tend to hate McCarthy. Don’t worry, as she doesn’t tumble over anything in this movie.

top-5

Next up, I watched Chris Rock’s Top Five. At its core, it’s a Cinderella story. No, really. If you watch the film, you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, Rock plays Andre Allen, a comedic actor who’s at a point in his career where he wants to be taken seriously. He spends the day with reporter Rosario Dawson, as he does press to promote his new drama about a Haitian uprising. Over the course of the day, we find out about his drinking, his sham relationship with a reality star, and his fears about his own abilities. In terms of casting, it’s basically a modern-day Harlem Nights. You have never seen a collection of Black comedians of this caliber since that film. It’s a movie built on cameos, from Ben Vereen playing ANOTHER deadbeat dad to Seinfeld making it rain in a strip club. And there’s an AMAZING DMX cameo. Trust me. Anyway, I really liked this movie, and I’d definitely watch it again to see if there are any cameos that I missed.

birdman

Finally, I watched Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). For almost a year, I’ve been hearing about how great this movie was, and what a great job Michael Keaton did in the role. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to ask: did we watch the same movie? No me gusta! It was a little too artsy for me. Now, I have simple tastes, but I was a theatre kid so I got most of what was going on. It was the whole battle of “celebrity” vs “actor”, and Keaton’s character just wanted to leave behind a legacy outside of the fluff of the popular Birdman franchise. He was already a celebrity (something of a hasbeen), but he wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I get that. But it was still kinda weird to me. Like, why did he have telekinesis? At times, it felt kinda Black Swan-y to me, but maybe that’s what they were going for. Part of my review isn’t even the movie’s fault; the first disc I got from Redbox was warped, so I was only able to watch 2/3 of the movie. I had to get a refund, get another disc, and give the movie another try before I was able to finish it. So, I didn’t feel the movie was good enough to warrant all that I had to go through to watch it. What did you all think of the film?

Now, for the upfront news. Let’s look at Fox’s offerings:

Grandfathered – Tuesdays at 8:00

I really like how this looks. It’s got a Raising Hope element to it, while everyone loves John Stamos. That said, he hasn’t had a ton of luck with his starring vehicles (Thieves, Jake In Progress). It kinda bothers me that it doesn’t have a lead-in, and is expected to kick off the night. More importantly, it’ll be going against The Muppets on ABC. I think those are different audiences, but I’d feel a lot better about it if it were placed after New Girl. The problem with that is that New Girl isn’t coming back until midseason because of Deschanel’s pregnancy. I really want this one to work.

The Grinder – Tuesdays 8:30

Who doesn’t love Rob Lowe? And Fred Savage is acting again! This looks very “Fox”, but I still like it. The potential problem is that it doesn’t have an established lead-in (Grandfathered), and it’ll be going against Fresh Off the Boat on ABC. FOTB experienced a ratings dive last season, so I honestly don’t see it as a threat. I just wonder how the freshman Fox comedies are going to do without help from established shows.

Minority Report – Mondays at 9:00

I never saw the movie, but I know the general gist: in the future, crimes are predicted before they’re committed. This is the kind of show that Fox LOVES to kill. They give it a chance and they kill it. It’s expensive sci fi, and the ratings are never high enough to warrant season 2 (see: Almost Human, Terra Nova). Fox should be given credit for giving these shows a chance, but instead they just have a rep for killing them. It’s got the plum post-Gotham timeslot (to the detriment of Sleepy Hollow, which moves to Thursday), but I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to save it. Speaking of Sleepy Hollow, Fox seems to love that White guy, Black female partner trope.

Rosewood – Wednesdays at 8:00

There’s quite a bit of an obsession with pathologists on TV lately. Pathologist obsessed with death becomes the go-to guy for the Miami police department. This feels a lot like Forever. It stars Morris Chestnut, so it helps the problem if the lack of primetime diversity. I’m just scared this might be 2015-2016’s Backstrom. I don’t think this one survives.

Lucifer – Midseason

I said this about Constantine, and I’ll say it again here: I don’t think the Bible Belt is ready to embrace a show about the Devil as the star. Not on network television. I don’t care how far we’ve come as a society. I don’t care if it’s a “smart” show. The same people who would like this show are the ones who hate The Big Bang Theory. You know who LOVES The Big Bang Theory? Middle America. It’s a midseason show, so I figure Fox is using that time to figure out just how to properly market it. NBC couldn’t call Constantine “Hellblazer”, likely for the same reasons. No matter what it was called, the show is now gone. I don’t think this one has a prayer (heh) either.

The Frankenstein Code – Midseason

Take everything I said about Minority Report, and multiply it times 2. This show will not last.

Bordertown – Midseason

Originally scheduled for the 2014-2015 television season, this show has been bumped to next season. And it STILL doesn’t have an airdate. Fox must have faith in it, since it’s executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, but it just doesn’t seem as good as his other shows. I also hate the animation style. I don’t like animation where you can’t tell if a character is supposed to be attractive or not (see Bob’s Burgers). Anyway, I say it gets one season (since animation has lead time), which will then end up being aired late Sunday night on Adult Swim (see Unsupervised).

Now for ABC’s shows

Dr. Ken – Fridays at 8:30

I like Ken Jeong, but this show isn’t exactly reinventing the sitcom wheel. Considering the edgier comedic films he’s done, I’m surprised that he went for such a cookie-cutter multi-cam family show. That said, it multiplies the Asian American representation in sitcoms by 100%, so it helps to diversify the shows on the air. I hate the Friday timeslot, as this ain’t TGIF. Last Man Standing isn’t that strong of a lead-in, so it won’t be of much help to this show. I just KNOW some executive recommended pairing this show with Fresh Off the Boat before someone shot him down.

The Muppets – Tuesdays at 8:00

I’ve never understood the Muppets, so I’m probably not the best one to cover this one. Sure, the Jason Segel movie did well, but the sequel did not. It seems like the success of the Muppets hinges on the presentation. This show is basically The Office with Muppets. I don’t really like what I see, but again, I’m not the target audience. It’s going against Fox’s Grandfathered, but I think they’ll have different audiences.

The Real O’Neals – Midseason

I really like what I see here. It’s like a better, single-cam almost-prequel to CBS’s cancelled The McCarthys. ABC only seems to really have two nights for comedy (Tuesday and Wednesday; I don’t really count Friday), so I’m not really sure where it would go at this point.

Uncle Buck – Midseason

This actually looks a lot better than I was expecting. We basically got the whole pilot in the trailer, but I would watch this. I could see ABC doing something like swapping it in for Black-ish for a few weeks, which would then result in an outcry that ABC refuses to have 2 Black shows on at once. Heh. Anyway, this might just work.

The Catch – Midseason

This looks good. It’s a Shonda Rhimes show, so I expect nothing less. I said I’d watch How To Get Away With Murder, and then I never got around to it. I’d say the same about this, but maybe I’ll just catch it on Netflix. This one’s a hit. Shonda can’t fail.

Of Kings and Prophets – Sundays at 10:00

STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE BIBLE “COOL”! This was clearly made in response to NBC’s A.D. The Bible Continues, only I’m pretty sure ABC probably thought that series was going to be more successful than it has been. Networks keep trying to make these shows because they want their own Game of Thrones. The problem is that you can’t make that show on a network television budget, with network standards and practices. You just end up with a neuter version, which no one wants. Fox learned this last season while making Hieroglyph, which they canceled before it even aired. This show will not succeed.

The Family – Midseason

I like this. A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have had a lot of faith in it, but ABC had a lot of success with Secrets & Lies, and this is in that vein. I can’t wait to watch this!

Quantico – Tuesdays at 10:00

ABC has had a problem with this timeslot for the past few seasons. Most recently occupied by Forever, it’s the hour where ABC dramas go to die. I like what I see, though. It’s basically 24 with a less experienced agent. It also helps that it’s led by a woman of color. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here.

Oil -Sundays at 9:00

Kinda cared more about this when it was called Dallas. ABC needs a soapy drama to replace Revenge, but that show never really did that well. Neither does Nashville. ABC wants to stay in the sudser game, but the numbers just aren’t there. Who knows, though? It might work.

Wicked City – Midseason

I don’t really even know what’s going on here. I don’t think it fully captures the 80s aesthetic for a “period piece”. I don’t see this one really getting off the ground.

I really only care about one thing on CBS:

Supergirl – Mondays at 8:00

Well, this has certainly gotten folks talking. From Greg Berlanti, who’s given us Arrow and The Flash, we get a show about Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El. First of all, why is it pronounced “CAHR-uh”? Anyway, I have a lot of issues with what I’ve seen in the trailer. Why does everyone know her identity? By the end of the trailer, everyone seems to know except her boss.

Also, I hate that they made her cousin such a big part of her identity. Why couldn’t they live in a world where there’s no Superman? The problem with this is the same problem I had with Birds of Prey: when you mention that someone bigger and more important exists, the audience is just waiting for him to appear. In BoP, we all wanted Batman on TV, and here we’re all going to want Superman. Now, Warner Bros had a show about Superman that ran for 10 years, yet he never really “showed up”. Why would they do anything differently here? Too much is predicated on making her cousin proud or “Your cousin sent you a gift”. Considering this show is supposed to take place in the “Berlantiverse” (has anyone coined that term yet?), I don’t like the idea that there’s a Superman out there in the same world as The Arrow. I liked that Arrow was kinda grounded, and this season sorta threw all of that out the window. I know there’s bigger threats and whatnot, but I wasn’t prepared to jump right to the House of El.

Anyway, I’m still not sure why this just didn’t get put on The CW. I mean, CBS owns half of that network, and it’s where the other Berlanti shows are. It’d make things more convenient for crossing over (which is something they’ve said they would like to eventually do) if they were on the same channel. If you’re not a show about the FBI or some other acronym, CBS doesn’t really know what to do with you. It’s also interesting that for the first time since 1949, CBS has no comedies on Monday night, instead giving a slot to Supergirl. And it’s going up against Gotham! If I had to choose between dark, nonsensical Gotham and bright, optimistic Supergirl, I know what I’ll be watching Monday nights.

As for NBC:

The Player – Thursdays at 10:00
I don’t even know what’s going on here. They bet on crime? Anyway, I don’t see this one making it, which is sad ’cause Wesley could use the money. They say that it’s by the executive producer of The Blacklist, but that’s not entirely a vote of confidence as that show’s been slowly dying since the move to Thursdays.

Blindspot – Mondays at 10:00

This trailer is just exhausting. It’s Memento with a hot chick. Again, this thing seems too steeped in its own mythology to be accessible. I don’t see a second season for it.

People Are Talking – Fridays at 8:30
I really want this to work, as I love Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Just like Fox makes expensive sci fi shows just to cancel them, NBC loves to make multicam sitcoms only to cancel them. It’s a miracle that Undateable is still around, really. And for some reason, they’ve decided to program Friday night with comedies like ABC. Maybe the DVR numbers will be decent? Anyway, it’ll be going against ABC’s Dr. Ken, which also has an uphill battle for that night and timeslot.

And of course, while I was writing this, the trailer dropped for The CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow:

I’m so behind on Arrow and The Flash that I don’t really feel qualified to have an opinion on it. I like what I see, but I need to catch up before I can get really excited, as I know some of the groundwork had been laid over the past few episodes. It’s The CW, which kinda has a low bar for success anyway, so this show will do just fine.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Mondays at 8:00

This is the only other CW show I’m looking forward to. It was originally created for Showtime, but got picked up for network instead. This chick seems insane, and I’m curious to see how they get a whole series out of this premise. That said, it’s got an Asian American love interest – how often do you see that?! And it’s half musical? Yeah, I’m already there. Anyway, it airs the same time as Supergirl, so I’ll be DVRing it. Or maybe I’ll just lose interest, like I did with Jane The Virgin.

MADCAST_LOGO

Another week, another guest spot on The Mad Cast. I love talking Mad Men with Corey, and we discussed a pretty powerful episode this week. Give it a listen!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Fox announced that the next and 15th season of American Idol would be its last. And there was much rejoicing. Not from me, however. It may have slowed in recent years, but Idol gave us Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Scotty McCreary. The Voice, for all of its accolades and ratings, can’t say that about a single contestant. And I didn’t even list only winners. Being on Idol was enough exposure to launch a career. The Voice, however, has yet to create a household name. So, le roi est mort. Vive le roi!

-Contract negotiations broke down, so Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons. Last time that happened, they killed Maude Flanders. I doubt they’d kill Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, and Mr. Burns, though, so I expect them to find replacement voices. The show’s been on for almost 30 years – it’s not like there aren’t other, cheaper folks who can do those voices now.

-Fox has greenlit a New Mutants film spinoff from the X-Men franchise. It’s to be directed by Josh Boone, who also did The Fault In Our Stars, so I expect it to have teen angst and all of that. I wonder if this is taking precedent over the X-Force film that was being discussed a few months back.

Legends of Tomorrow

-Caity Lotz will be playing The White Canary on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the comics, that minor character was originally Asian, so brace yourself for the “whitewashing” thinkpieces…

-The trailer for Jem and The Holograms was released, and the internet went crazy – in a bad way. It doesn’t seem to be about a rocker who uses hologram technology to save the world. Instead, it’s about a shy singer who’s trying to find the motivation to make her voice be heard. Instead of “Jem is truly outrageous”, the tagline should be “Jem, like, can’t even!” Some people have said that the haters aren’t embracing new ideas, but there’s nothing “Jem” about this. Why use the name and the franchise if you’re not going to do anything with it? That’s like if G.I. Joe were about a dude named George Indicott Joe, a former soldier who’s now a plumber in Queens. It’s just a waste.

-In comic news, the identity of “She Thor” was revealed in this week’s Thor #8. I thought it was just gonna be Lady Sif or something. I was wrong. Here’s a hint, though: she was in the movies. My pal Kevin over at Team Hellions has the scoop!

Links I Loved

Ben Savage on Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World, and the Meaning of Life – Vulture

Figures of Empire: On the Impossibility of Superhero Diversity – Snoopy Jenkins

Ranking EVERY Villain of The Avengers Comics – The Robot’s Pajamas

What the Number of Action Figures You Own Says About You – UnderScoopFire

As you can see, there was a LOT of television news this week, and I didn’t even cover all of it. The week belonged to the networks as they rolled out their Fall schedules. There will be some winners and a LOT of losers, but it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. It may seem like a cop-out, but I feel like the major broadcast networks had the West Week Ever.

08th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/8/15

by Will

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avengers-art-final

The only thing I watched of note was Avengers: Age of Ultron for a second time. I’ve got to say that I enjoyed it much more upon the second viewing. I still think Strucker was wasted, but that’s what happens, I guess. On a related note, it was neat how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Theta Protocol tied into the movie, but it was pretty lame how the show just vomited out an explanation before the opening credits. Anyway, the movie made $191 million last weekend, so I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my multiple viewings.

civil war

Now, it appears that the AoU cast is gearing up for Captain America: Civil War. Despite the title, this is clearly Avengers 2.5. In fact, there are so many people in this movie that’s it’s easier to say who isn’t there: Hulk & Thor. Anyway, the official press release from Marvel describes the movie as follows:

Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.

The big question is whether or not Spider-Man is going to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this film. All signs point to yes, but it remains to be seen how he would figure into the story.

suicidesquad

In the DC movie universe, they released this cast photo from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Someone on Twitter put it best when they said that some of the characters look like those Homies figurines you get in vending machines. I HATE this photo. So much. And the fact that there are people out there who like it really grinds my gears. It looks like an updated high school production of West Side Story. If nothing else, this cemented my thoughts that I don’t want DC to “pull a Marvel”. They don’t need a shared universe. In fact, I think I’d prefer they make their movies with very few connections, if any, to each other. I don’t like the tone that DC is setting with these initial movies. I get that some heroes need to be dark, but what are The Flash and Cyborg going to look like in this world? I just don’t like it.

Supergirl

In TV news, CBS officially ordered Supergirl to series, expanding the Greg Berlanti-led DC TV universe to 4 shows (including The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, and the spinoff now officially known as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). As much as I like Berlanti’s shows, nothing about this series excites me. After all, Supergirl has no real rogues gallery. Then again, that could’ve been said about Green Arrow, and they seem to have figured that out. I just don’t know if CBS is the right home for it. CBS owns half of The CW, so why not just put it over there and let it join its “brethren”. They said that the door is open for crossovers, but it seems like there could still be some red tape. In other DC TV news, The CW has officially picked up the afore-mentioned DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will debut in January 2016.

2000px-Star_Wars_Logo.svg

Josh Trank was fired from the standalone Star Wars film he was set to direct. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trank’s erratic behavior on the set of Fantastic Four spooked executives. It also didn’t help when he failed to show up to Star Wars Celebration, although it’s rumored that he was actually asked not to attend as Disney decided their next steps. According to sources, Trank is talented, but still has a lot to learn.

gibbler

Character descriptions were released for the Fuller House kids’ roles. Most interesting to me, Kimmy Gibbler’s daughter, Ramona, is biracial. And immediately I thought, “That makes perfect sense.” Instead of being half Black, she’s half Hispanic, and embraces her Latina heritage. She’s into boys, social media, and selfies. In other FH news, Dave Coulier has officially signed on to reprise his role as Uncle Joey.

It’s been a big TV week, as this is when we find out the shows that didn’t make the cut for a renewal. The information is still coming out, but here’s what we know so far:

Cancellations:

Hart of Dixie (The CW)

The Messengers (The CW)

Cristela (ABC)

Forever (ABC)

Revenge (ABC)

Resurrection (ABC)

The one that hits me the hardest is Forever. If you remember, it had the honor of having the West Week Ever and it was near and dear to my heart. Starring Fantastic Four‘s Ioan Gruffudd as a man who can’t die, I looked more forward to it on Tuedays than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Luckily, the finale didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger. It was definitely a springboard for future stories, but I’m satisfied with how it will be left.

Surprising Renewals

Agent Carter (ABC)

American Crime (ABC)

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)

The Middle (ABC)

Galavant (ABC)

None of the above shows had stellar ratings, so I’m pretty surprised at all of their renewals. Agent Carter is a welcome surprise, but American Crime seemed like a done-in-one limited series, as the case it follows ends next week. Fresh Off the Boat is a surprise because creator Eddie Huang was doing everything in his power to sink the show, and the ratings had taken a dive since the premiere. The Middle is surprising because it showed all the signs of a show winding down, especially since 2 of the kids will be in college next season. It also doesn’t help that the actor who plays Axl (Charlie McDermott) has already been cast in a CBS’s Super Clyde (which hasn’t been officially picked up yet). The most surprising, however, is Galavant. ABC had NO faith in that show, burning it off in one hour chunks over a four week period in January. The ratings weren’t great, but I’m amazed it made enough of an impression to gain a renewal in MAY. Curiously missing from the list of new shows are the rumored Marvel shows, including the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mockingbird spinoff and the John Ridley Ms. Marvel show. There’s still a chance that they weren’t ready, and could debut midseason or next summer, but that remains to be seen.

MADCAST_LOGO

Last night, I had the pleasure of joining Corey again for the MadCast Podcast. This time, we discussed the past TWO Mad Men episodes, so be sure to check it out.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Sony has renewed Powers for a second season. I have no clue why, but it clearly has a budget of about $1,000 so it’s cheap to produce.

-Fox has canceled The Mindy Project, however Hulu is in talks to revive the show with a 2-season order.

-The CW has renewed iZombie for a second season. I’ve got to give that show a shot one of these days…

-Disney announced that Phineas & Ferb would be ending in June. Never seen it.

The Simpsons has been renewed for the next 2 seasons, taking its episode total to 625.

-Hugh Jackman has officially confirmed that he’s walking away from the role of Wolverine following Wolverine 3.

Links I Loved

Trivia and References in Avengers: Age of Ultron – The Robot’s Pajamas

Don Draper, Maverick Ad Man, Dead at 88 – MediaPost.com

WWF Hasbro Happiness! – Horror Movie BBQ

Hamburglar_Pose_3-1.0

Ya know who everyone was talking about this week? The new Hamburglar. Yup, McDonalds’ sales are suffering, so they decided to debut a new, live action Hamburglar. Because that’s what’s gonna make people eat more burgers. Anyway, the chain is debuting a new line of Sirloin Burgers, and they’re banking on nostalgia to help them move that beef. While most folks would probably prefer the return of Grimace of the Fry Guys, Hamburglar is what we got. And he looks odd. Seriously, his whole outfit looks like it was pieced together in a Goodwill. At least we know why he’s stealing the burgers. He simply can’t afford them. Based on the commercial I’ve seen, he’s got a kid now, and had left his burglar days behind him until the appearance of these new Sirloin Burgers. So, will his son follow in his footsteps? Will he abandon his family in the pursuit of hamburgers? SO MANY QUESTIONS. Anyway, it was a pretty slow week, so the new, hipster, pedophile-looking Hamburglar had the West Week Ever.

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