21st Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/21/15

by Will

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Man, did this week suck! Work is kinda kicking my ass, so this might be a short one this week.

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This seemed like the week of lost heroes. First up, Jared Fogle – Subway’s mascot for over a decade – pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, as well as traveling to have sex with a minor. Apparently, he would call up local escort services, and offer a bounty if they could find him young girls. “The younger the better”, he apparently said. This all started a few weeks back, when his home was raided. It was originally thought that it was in relation to the child pornography charges against the former head of his charity, but it turns out that guy had shared the videos with Jared. So, now everyone’s making jokes about all the “footlongs” he’s gonna get in prison. While it’s laughable, I find the whole thing kinda sad. I always liked Jared, and I hate to know that he was such a creeper.

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Another hero fell, as Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox called it quits after 11 years together. Now, every neckbeard across America is gonna think he’s got a shot with her, but think again! The Summer of Lost Love continues. Better luck next time, David Silver…

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Over at ABC, it appears that Mockingbird spinoff isn’t dead after all. Now called Marvel’s Most Wanted (which sounds like a really bad comic reprint collection or something), the show will follow Bobbi Morse and ex husband Lance Hunter on their “continuing adventures”. They’re now saying, however, that it’s not a “spinoff” per se, so it’s not clear if they’ll be distancing it from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Right now, it’s just at the pilot stage, so nothing may come from it, but only time will tell. I still think this is a bad idea, as those 2 are probably the most interesting members of the team. Unless they use time travel to make Agent Carter travel to the present and join the team, I really don’t see what could make that show interesting if Bobbi and Hunter leave. I wouldn’t say they’re carrying the show, but they would definitely be missed if they left.

Aaron Carter

So, I’ve been doing this Twitter thing for over 6 years, but never had a celebrity follower. There was that brief time I was followed by Ronda Rousey’s mom (or some chick pretending to be her), but I never had a gen-yoo-wine celebrity until Wednesday night. I was busy live-tweeting Catfish when I got an email: “Aaron Carter is now following you”. Aaron Carter?! “That’s How I Beat Shaq” Aaron Carter?! Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s little brother, and former boyfriend of both Lindsay Lohan AND Hilary Duff Aaron Carter?! Surely this had to be a fake fan profile, right? Nope, look at that checkmark. Verified, baby! His career never really took off like his brother’s, but he was kind of a big deal in Europe before he hit puberty. What’s he doing now? Well, apparently he filed for bankruptcy back in 2013, so there’s that. And now he’s following a bunch of nobodies on Twitter. Huzzah! Actually, I really don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, what about me made him follow me? Sure, I talk a lot about boybands, but I don’t think I’ve ever discussed him or his career. How long will this last? Surely he’ll be gone by Labor Day, right? Maybe I should tweet him and see if he replies. So conflicted!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Craig Robinson’s Mr. Robinson ended its 6-episode first season on NBC

-Josh Duggar, of 19 Kids and Oh God, My Vagina! fame, was outed in the Ashley Madison hack, resulting in his confession that he’d not only had an affair, but had also spent almost $1,000 on the site. First he touches his sisters, and then he pays to cheat on his wife. Dude’s got NO game.

-Disney revealed footage from Captain America: Civil War at last weekend’s D23 Expo. Since the footage isn’t online, I’m not gonna waste my time describing someone else’s description of what they saw. I’ll just wait for the trailer.

-Presidential candidate Deez Nuts is gaining on Donald Trump

Links I Loved

Being An Uber Driver Is Great, Until You Pick Up A Crackhead – DewanGibson.com

Actors Who have Played Multiple Marvel Comics Characters – The Robot’s Pajamas

Time To Start the Teenage Angst! – OAFE

Well… August 20, 2015. – Team Hellions

route 29 batman

Now, I don’t get into this too much, but I have a No Death policy for West Week Ever. It’s never happy, there are too many of them to mention every week, and I’m sure I’d end up missing someone who’s important to readers but not to me. So, I just stay away from death announcements. This week, however, I have to make an exception. You see, Leonard B. Robinson, also known as Route 29 Batman, was killed last Sunday while checking his engine on a business stretch of road. If you haven’t heard the story by now, Robinson went viral a few years ago when he was pulled over by Montgomery County police along Route 29. His story, it turns out, was that he had made a fortune in the cleaning business, so he decided to dress up like Batman and visit sick kids in hospitals. He had a souped up Lamborghini that served as his Batmobile, and it was this very car that he was driving when tragedy struck.

I’ve often wondered why no one has actually tried to be Batman. Sure, it’s fiction, but some rich guy could easily decide to become a vigilante and take matters into his own hands. Well, Robinson actually did that. No, he didn’t fight crime, but he was a hero to many, as he brought smiles to the faces of the kids he visited. He would dress up in a 35-pound costume, which took 45 minutes to put on, just to brighten up the lives of area sick kids. He would give anti-bullying speeches at local schools. He would give out Batman merchandise to kids, autographed by “Batman”.

Maryland isn’t Gotham City, but we’ve had quite the cast of characters running around. We’ve got a guy covered in question marks, screaming about how you can get free money from the government. We had a sniper, who was just shooting up random gas stations. And we had a man dressed like a bat, trying to brighten the world in which he lived. I never met Leonard, but I really wish that I had been given the chance. I always wondered why Batman wasn’t real, and it turns out he was here the whole time. This week’s West Week Ever is dedicated to the life of Leonard B. Robinson.

14th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/14/2015

by Will

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Last week, I said that the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever, even though I don’t really agree with how the movie’s being marketed. My friend Glenn, however, believes that everything is as it should be. In my attempt to be fair and balanced, I thought I’d share his thoughts on things. We had a lengthy Facebook conversation about the matter, and he pointed out that Deadpool is the “Merc with a Mouth” and is only censored in the comics because he has to be. This movie, however, will give him a chance to cut loose. He said that while there are always going to be things that are cross-marketed to kids and adults, this isn’t the kind of movie that he’d take his 5 year old daughter to see. Anyway, he made some good points, and then we trailed off into talking about how awesome Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is. Since we’ve had a week to think about it all, thoughts anyone?

It was announced this week that The Lion King would be getting another sequel. At first, I didn’t understand why this was big news. I mean, the thing had 2 straight-to-video sequels in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 1/2 (which was more of an inbetwequel). So, even though James Earl Jones is coming back as Mufassa, why is this big news? Well, it appears that the TV movie sequel, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is actually a pilot for a new television series called The Lion Guard. It’s being described by Disney as “The Lion King meets The Avengers”, and that sound you hear is all of the world’s cash registers ringing at once. The series follows Kion, the youngest son of Simba and Nala, as he assembles a team of animals to help protect the Pride Lands.  Anyway, a sneak peak of the show is expected at this weekend’s Disney D23 Expo.

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The rumor coming out of Warner Bros is that a private viewing of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was held for the high up muckety-mucks, and they loved Affleck’s portrayal so much that he’s being offered his own standalone Batman trilogy. I think a standalone Batfleck film was announced at SDCC (it’s getting harder to tell the rumors from the confirmed news these days), but this is the first mention of an entire trilogy. Seems kinda odd, since this movie adapts parts of The Dark Knight Returns – a story that shows Batman at the end of his career. Still, I’d much rather have more Batman than Aquaman, Cyborg, and all the other DCU movies that have been announced.

In other DC news, it’s been announced that Matt Ryan will guest star on Arrow next season as John Constantine. This is pretty important because he starred as the character on the recently cancelled Constantine, and Stephen Amell had been lobbying to get him on the show. Now, I’ve never seen an episode of Constantine, so I’ll need some of y’all to chime in: does he fit into the world that Greg Berlanti has created in Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow? I mean, tonally and thematically, is that going to work? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Speaking of Berlanti, he mentioned during the Television Critics Association press tour this week that Supergirl wouldn’t be crossing over with any of his other shows for the time being. That sucks, seeing as how CBS owns half of The CW, so it’s not like it would be that hard logistically. I think, however, they want to focus on establishing her as her own hero. Plus, introducing her into that world is a whole different can of worms, because that, then, admits that Superman exists in that universe, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that. Especially if they do something like they’re doing with Constantine, and bring Tom Welling back to play Superman. Meanwhile, it was also announced that True Blood‘s Brit Morgan would be playing the villain Livewire.

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In a surprising move, it was announced that the next 5 seasons of Sesame Street will now debut on HBO. The deal will allow them to create 35 episodes a year instead of the current output of 18 episodes a year. After the initial 9 month window, the episodes will then be available to air on PBS. Meanwhile, PBS will be airing recut versions of classic episodes. First of all, I’m kinda surprised they only produce 18 episodes a year. The show comes on every day, and while it has quite the video library under its belt, I really thought they were producing something like 60 a year. That’s the approximate number of other kids shows that air in strip, 5-day-a-week format. Something feels wrong to me, though, that the rich kids with HBO are getting these episodes first. As some folks on Twitter pointed out, it’s like we’re gentrifying education. Sesame Street used to be an important way that lower income students were able to learn, and now we’re giving them scraps after the kids whose parents can afford HBO have had their way with them. It just seems wrong somehow. Anyway, the deal also calls for a spinoff show starring the Sesame Street Muppets.

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Back in the day, BET had its own version of Skinemax known as BET Uncut. Young Black kids used to tune in hoping to get a glimpse of boob while videos played the hip hop hits of the day. The show ended in 2006, but its legacy was never forgotten. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when BET suddenly announced that the show would be returning on August 11th. When viewers tuned in, however, they were met with a surprise: the whole thing was a ruse to promote the debut of BET’s version of Punk’d. If you remember, Punk’d was conceived by Ashton Kutcher and ran on MTV for a few years back in the mid ’00s. Well, this new version will be hosted by YouTube stars Andrew Bachelor and DeStorm Powers, and it debuts next Tuesday. Never watched the original, and I probably won’t be watching this one, either.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Modern Family‘s Ariel Winter revealed that she’d had a breast reduction as she was tired of the unwanted attention her body was receiving

-Target created a shitstorm when it announced that the toy section would no longer have gender-based signage. These means that Barbie is no longer a “girl’s toy”, while action figures are no longer “boys’ toys”. Folks came out of the woodwork, acting like the sky was falling. It’s not like they’ll change the planogram, however, so you probably won’t see Barbie sitting next to Iron Man on shelves.

-A new Jem trailer was released this week, which made it look like the same bad movie, only now with an Earth to Echo spin, as they’ve added a tiny robot.

-The CW is reportedly developing series based on The Notebook and Friday The 13th

-Adult Swim renewed Rick and Morty for a 3rd season

-Bravo renewed Jill Kargman’s Odd Mom Out for a 2nd season.

Kindergarten Cop 2 is currently filming, starring Dolph Lundgren. It’s slated to be a direct-to-video release.

The Exes was cancelled on TV Land

-Shelly Fabares will not be returning for NBC’s Coach revival, as her character, Christine Armstrong, has been killed off.

-Google’s parent company changed its name to Alphabet.

FF

I LOVE weeks when the thing that had the West Week Ever is controversial. Folks might disagree, but then I just remember, “Hey, Will – it’s your site!” and then I feel OK about it. So, in the immortal words of the bard Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold onto your butts!”

Last week, a friend and I made the impromptu decision to catch a late showing of Fant4stic Four. The reviews had been terrible, the rumors even worse, but I felt that I needed to see the movie for myself. I actually like the other 2 Fantastic Four films (I’ve never seen the Corman version), as I have a mancrush on Ioan Gruffudd who played Reed Richards. So, in my mind, the bar wasn’t set all that high, and I felt like I knew what I was walking into. AND BOY WAS IT HORRIBLE – is what you want me to say. But I can’t do that. As I said on social media, to listen to the online fanboys, Fant4stic Four ascended to the heavens, slapped Jesus, and pissed on your dead grandma. If you read anything about this movie on Twitter, it’s the worst thing since Hitler and New Coke. Fant4stic Four is not a great movie, but it’s also not horrible.

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The most positive thing I’ve read about the movie is that it had a strong first 2/3rds, and then loses its way during the 3rd act, and I would completely agree with that. The early scenes with young Reed are great, and it’s touching to see the dawn of his friendship with Ben Grimm. Once Reed is recruited by the Baxter Foundation, they almost become star-crossed lovers, as Reed is too impressed by his new surroundings to realize what Ben realizes instantly: their bond can’t last. You’d think they would just naturally grow apart, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, Reed invites Ben on the journey that will end the research that they started together. No, it’s not being from 2 different worlds that will tear them apart. It’s that Reed accidentally turns Ben into a rock monster. This is the first time in my dealings with the Fantastic Four that I actually felt like Thing was a sympathetic character, and a lot of that was due to us seeing him before his transformation. I appreciated that. A lot of people have made a big deal about the origins of “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” (though it’s Thing’s signature catch phrase, in the movie it’s uttered by Ben’s abusive older brother before he assaults him), but that didn’t bother me so much. I kinda felt like it added another dimension to his character.

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I also felt the family dynamic between the Storms. No matter what you think of this movie, you can’t deny that Reg S. Cathy as Dr. Franklin Richards was one of the strongest aspects of the film. You really felt that he just wanted his son to do something productive with himself. You could also feel the tension between Johnny and Sue, where it was clear that Johnny felt that Sue was dad’s favorite, which caused him to act out. People always say that the Fantastic Four concept revolves around family, and that was pretty evident in the first 2/3rds of the movie. Their families didn’t understand them, so Reed and Ben had become their own support system. As strained as it might’ve been, the Storms were also trying to hold on to the family that they had. Meanwhile, Victor Von Doom (formerly known as mad blogger Victor Domashev before the Internet had a field day with that news) is probably the character in the film with the most personality. Just as Sinestro was the true hero in Green Lantern, there’s very little here that makes Doom a villain, per se. In the context of family, he’s on the outside looking in, as he doesn’t have what Reed and Ben have, or what the Storms have, but he knows it’s lacking and he resents it.

It felt like they were laying the groundwork for some grand thing that would bring them all together. In the comic, that was the cosmic event that gave them their powers. Well, that’s not what happened here. Instead, the arrival of their powers drives them further apart. And this is where the problems begin.

Once Reed, with his newly-acquired powers, escapes from the secret facility, there’s a title card that says “One Year Later”. Time jumps are rarely good things, as they’re usually an excuse to keep from explaining something. Well, it can be said that everything after that title card is when things go downhill. At this point, it clearly plays like a movie “made by committee” as certain things don’t make sense anymore. And it’s also where you’d expect to see all those action scenes from the trailer. Welp, you’d be disappointed. Better sites than mine have made comprehensive lists, but you can immediately see that a LOT of editing went down on this film. Remember the shot of Thing falling out of the plane onto a tank? It’s in every trailer and TV spot? Well, it ain’t in this movie.

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Let’s talk about Thing for a minute. The government has convinced him to be an operative for them, with the weak promise that they’ll help turn him back to his human form. So, he gets dropped into these countries as this killing machine. In one scene, you see that he has 43 confirmed kills. KILLS! He’s not Wolverine! Now, I know he’s upset by the transformation and all. Anyone would be. I also know that he comes from an abusive past. But I don’t think all of that would make him a killer. And he’s not overly patriotic, so it’s not like he’s doing his duty for Uncle Sam. No, he selfishly decides to kill in order to get things back to the way they were. That doesn’t sit right with me.

Sue is wasted, as she just becomes the Token Girl. If people weren’t spending so much time talking about how terrible the movie is, I’m sure The Mary Sue or someone would’ve written an article about how marginalized she is in the film. Hell, she doesn’t even get to go on the trip that gives them their powers! She got hit by some kind of aftershock, and ended up being able to turn invisible. All the powers, with none of the risk. Were they afraid to send a woman into that dangerous environment? If that’s the case, they certainly don’t discuss it. In fact, Reed goes through the trouble of calling Ben in the middle of the night, to get him to come down to the Baxter building and travel to the other dimension, but at no point does he, or anyone else, say, “Hey, shouldn’t we let Sue in on this?” And it’s not like she had built up this reputation as a hard-to-work-with bitch or anything, so it’s kinda bad that she’s just an afterthought to them. However, they never would’ve made it back alive had it not been for her. I don’t feel like she’s ever appreciated enough in this film.

Johnny’s kinda brash, but not the joking ladies man he appears to be in the comics. Somewhat like Sue, he doesn’t really get to develop much. He seems to hate being in the shadow of his sister and father, so he acts out. Once they get their powers, he’s all about doing the government dirty work because he feels like he might finally have a purpose. He doesn’t care about right or wrong – he’s just a gun waiting for someone to aim him at the bad guys.

And Reed. Where to begin with Reed? I like Miles Teller now. I used to want to punch him in the face, because he just had one of those faces. Then I saw Two Night Stand and Whiplash, and now all is forgiven. As much as I like him now, I don’t think he was right for this role. I can see why he was cast: rising star, he’s quickly becoming a “name”, etc. But he wasn’t Reed Richards. He’s capable enough in the role, but you don’t leave the theater saying “THAT was Reed Richards” the way you did when you first saw RDJ as Tony Stark. My biggest problem with Reed is that he’s not very smart – the thing that he’s primarily known for. Sure, he’s smart enough to want to try to build a matter transporter in middle school, but it seems like he peaked at that age. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Reed’s able to stretch his brain, effectively making him smarter. He doesn’t display the capacity for that in this film. And no, I didn’t expect to see his head stretch or anything to signify that it was happening, but he just doesn’t do anything that would make you say “He’s smart!” I mean, something as simple as rattling off a calculation. He doesn’t really do it. And in the final battle against Doom, he doesn’t outsmart him. No, it’s instead a physical, hand-to-hand battle. Reed Richard is not a fighter, and he would’ve found an intelligent solution other than a simple Hail Mary play.

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Let’s circle back around to Doom. In the first 2/3rds of the movie, he’s just antisocial. Sure, they end up having to leave him in the Negative Zone, but he didn’t HATE them. He just kinda resented them. So, when he pops back up a year later, with his environmental suit fused to his body, you’d think he’d want revenge on them for leaving him over there. I mean, surely he’d find them responsible for ruining his life, right? NO! Instead, he LOVED it over there, as he experienced true power. And all he wants to do is go back. That’s it. He wants to go back to his world and his power, and the Four are all, “No, you can’t go back”, like they actually give a shit about him. If they’d have just let the man have his wish, nothing bad would’ve happened. In what was clearly the result of reshoots, Doom walks through the corridor, making everyone’s head explode – even people who aren’t in his way. It’s like there’s a clearance sale going on for head explosions, and he just can’t get enough. So, in their refusal to let him go back, the Four actually set into motion the thing that makes him a “villain”: the portal back to the Negative Zone created a sort of backdraft that was pulling Earth into a black hole. The reason I say the head explosion scenes were reshoots is because someone at the studio must’ve known that something else was needed in order to make Doom appear evil. Otherwise, without that scene, the Four actually look worse than Doom does.

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And that final battle. It just didn’t add up. Doom supposedly had all this power, but we never saw much of it except in his creation of the portal. The Four defeat him in combat when they never should’ve been able to get close to him. As I said before, Reed should’ve defeated him by out-thinking him and not punching him. And he goes down too easily, but not in the ambiguous “We’re trying to keep him around for a sequel” kind of way. I mean, they could bring him back, but the movie doesn’t really end setting up a sequel. All that happens is the team is officially formed. Yet, the viewer still has no real reason to care about the characters, as none of the relatable stuff from the first 2 acts is even relevant anymore. It’s like these are 4 different characters; it’s not like they’re showing growth, either – they’re just 4 people who look like and have the same names as their counterparts from the first 2/3rds of the movie. And they’re not especially likable, nor are you particularly rooting for them. I mean, the movie’s named after them, so they must be the heroes, but that’s really as far as it goes.

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And one little problem lingering from adapting the comic: the lack of Thing’s pants. This might seem petty, but it’s actually pretty important. I mean, up until this point, we all just assumed he still had a penis, only it was probably rocky now, too. It’s the kind thing 12 year olds sit around and talk about. Instead, he now no longer even has a penis. My God, no wonder he hates Reed so much!

Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s a movie with problems, but it’s hardly the abomination that some are making it out to be. The odd thing, however, is Fox’s involvement in the whole thing. As I wrote about last week, the director, Josh Trank, posted a tweet that alluded to the fact that there was studio interference in his original vision. That tweet was quickly deleted. Over the weekend, the rumors started to fly. It was rumored that Fox was considering giving Fant4stic Four 2‘s 2017 release date to Deadpool 2, assuming that Deadpool will do better than FF did. On Monday, however, Fox announced that they are “still committed to the characters”, but nobody knows if that means they’ll push ahead with the same cast or reboot AGAIN. Good or bad, Fant4stic Four was on everybody’s lips the past week, even if folks didn’t see it. In fact, it only pulled in around $25 million, making it a worse box office than even Daredevil. Still, I think once the dust settles, and folks start seeing the stuff I was talking about in the first 2 acts, we may look back on it more fondly. And if Trank’s ever allowed to release a Director’s Cut, then it may be redeemed just as much as the Director’s Cut has seemingly redeemed Daredevil. In my mind, nothing had a week like Fant4stic Four, and that’s why I’m saying it had the West Week Ever.

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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This week, Joel McHale confirmed what most of us already knew – that Community is over. He explained that Yahoo wanted another season for their Yahoo Screen portal, but they simply couldn’t afford the cast since their asking quotes  have gone up since the show began. Because of that stupid #sixseasonsandamovie thing, they’re still saying they’d like to do a movie. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would entail. How do you translate a sitcom into a theatrical feature? Has that been done before? I mean, it works the other way around. Movies get TV adaptations all the time, but not vice versa. I can’t think of a Community storyline that would even be worth a theatrical release. Keep in mind, I have the same reservations about an Arrested Development movie. Just let these things die, so they can be fondly remembered. Show creator Dan Harmon has said that he’d be interested in writing the script once he’s gotten to a place where he misses the characters. So, we’re at the whim of his sense of nostalgia.

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In other TV news, there were a lot of casting reveals for the DC shows on The CW. First up, Casper Crump has been cast as season one big bad Vandal Savage for Legends of Tomorrow. Also, Falk Henstchel has been cast as Hawkman in the series. Meanwhile, The Flash has cast Wally West, who will be played by Keiynan Lonsdale. I haven’t heard of any of these weird-named dudes. Lonsdale’s Australian, so he’s probably done a stint on Neighbours or something – that’s like a rite of passage down there. Anyway, a lot of people not familiar with DC’s New 52 reboot didn’t realize that the new Wally West is Black, so of course the usual complaints spread across social media: “Why make him Black when he’s always been White?” As my pal Tim would call it, #rabblerabble.

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Even I’ll say that New 52 Wally seems like diversity solely for the sake of diversity. Then again, I guess his race never really had an impact on who he was, so he could be anything. The problem, however, is that Wally had quite the legacy. He’s one of the few heroes who replaced his mentor and it STUCK. Most of my generation grew up with a Wally West Flash and NOT a Barry Allen Flash. Barry was boring and DEAD by the time we started reading comics. So, to just randomly introduce him in the New 52 universe like, “Hey, here’s Wally – only he’s not the dude you remember, and he’s Black now” kinda seems disingenuous. My problem with introducing him on the show, however, is that it just seems too soon. They couldn’t wait for season 3? I mean, we’ve just gotten used to Barry, and we like him, so why dilute that with Kid Flash or whatever Wally’s going to become on the show? My biggest issue with the Greg Berlanti DC shows is that I fear he spreads himself too thin. Arrow was great until The Flash came along, and then it started to suffer creatively. This season, he’s adding Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow to the docket. One can only imagine what that’s going to do to The Flash, and I shudder to wonder how much lower Arrow can go.

photovisi-download(1)You know who almost had the West Week Ever? Hollywood divorce lawyers! This week alone saw the announcement of splits between Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Plus, the week kicked off with the annual, yet erroneous, announcement that Will and Jada were calling it quits. In the words of Carrie Underwood, “There must be something in the water.” The Gavin/Gwen split wasn’t a total surprise, as I recall hearing that things had been rocky ever since the paternity test revealed that he was the father of model Daisy Lowe. The Reba divorce is pretty sad, as they had been married for 26 years! That’s my biggest fear: to get old and divorced. Young divorce is fine, but divorce after you’re all used up? No siree, Bob! And I’m pretty sure that the Kermit and Piggy thing is just publicity for that The Office-inspired Muppets show coming to ABC this Fall. They break up all the time, so who really cares? I mean, they were broken up in Jason Segel’s The Muppets back in 2011. Did everyone just forget that? Anyway, I can’t even think of a celebrity couple I’m rooting for at this point. You’re just courting disappointment with that game.

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This week saw the Television Critics Association’s Summer press tour, where TV critics were introduced to the stars of the upcoming new network shows. Yesterday was Fox’s day, where three things happened. First off, it appears that critics were shown a clip from the X-Files reboot, and the consensus was not good. I’ve heard that it almost played like parody, and it wasn’t clear if that was the intention of the scene. Second, they announced that Prison Break was returning for a 10-episode event, similar to last year’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries. Apparently, the original stars are on board (interesting, since they’re both attached to Legends of Tomorrow, so I guess they’ll film this while they’re on break?), and some of the deaths from the original series seem like they’re being retconned in order to make this work. I watched the first episode of Prison Break, but I just couldn’t get on board for that series. I didn’t feel like it would last long enough for a resolution. I was wrong, but I still don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Finally, Fox also updated the status of bringing back 24. They said that Kiefer Sutherland isn’t interested in returning right now, so a new 24 would probably feature new characters. It’s just not 24 without Jack Bauer! If I wanted to watch an entirely new ensemble, I’d just tune into ABC’s Quantico (Sundays this Fall!).

xmen

Oh yeah, Fox also did something else: they confirmed plans for an television spinoff of the X-Men films. They said that they’re close to a deal, but they’re waiting to see if Marvel will approve it. Since Fox only owns the X-Men rights, don’t look for any crossovers with Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big question, though is what does Marvel get out of the deal? Right now, Fox has already lined up writers and showrunners, so this will happen sooner rather than later. I’m OK with this idea if they’re really allowed to run with it. Maybe focus on some mutants who don’t get any movie screentime. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the Xavier/Magneto dynamic. WE GET IT ALREADY! There are other characters. Hell, some of the X-Men’s best adventures occurred when Xavier wasn’t even around. I don’t see why they have to be in all the movies. I’m scared however, this will be some watered down thing, so as not to step on the toes of the film division. Remember what happened the last time we got a watered down X-Men television show? It was called Mutant X

LEGO_Avengers_Cover

The box art was revealed for this Winter’s LEGO Avengers. I have SO many comic-based LEGO games to get through, but I’m a sucker, so I’ll probably get this one, too. It helps that they’re releasing it on “older” systems like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, as not all of us have graduated to the next generation. I really wish Rocksteady had done this with Batman: Arkham Knight. I mean, it kinda sucks that there’s a trilogy of games that can’t all be played on the same friggin’ system!

FF

*Sigh* So, I guess I’ve gotta talk about Fantastic Four, huh? The movie officially comes out today, but the review embargo was lifted on Wednesday and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve heard everything from that fact that it had a strong 2/3 but tanked the 3rd act to the whole thing was just a disaster. You know comic folk can be a passionate bunch, so I’m not really sure who to believe. I’ll see it, but I’m easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. To date, out of all the ones I’ve seen (no, I still haven’t seen Catwoman), I only hated Elektra and The Dark Knight Rises. I was actually fine with the two Fantastic Four films that we already got. It probably helps that I’ve never really liked the comic version of the team, so I didn’t have high expectations. Anyway, they say that this version borrows heavily from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, which should be a good thing, since I love the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Sadly, I found that book to be so boring that I still have about 20 issues I haven’t read, and the book’s been cancelled since 2009. Then, things took a real bad turn last night when the movie’s director, Josh Trank, tweeted this:

Trank

So, Trank’s basically blaming the studio. Not a great move from the guy who was pushed out of his Star Wars directing gig due to his erratic behavior. So far, the only hit he has under his belt is Chronicle, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to coast on that. Is there any coming back from this? Is the movie so bad that it’ll sink his career?

No links this week, as I’m behind on my blogs, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes: Who had the West Week Ever?

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On Tuesday night, Conan O’Brien probably saw his biggest ratings since his move to cable. No, it wasn’t because of a guest, but rather the fact that the Deadpool trailer was slated to premiere during the episode. In fact, the episode’s rating was TV-MA because they would be showing the red band, not safe for work version of the trailer. Welp, once the trailer debuted, it seemed there was a huge divide between those who loved it and those who just weren’t feeling it. I fell into the latter camp.

deadpool

First, let me explain that I consider myself a Deadpool fan. I haven’t been there since his debut in X-Force, but I’ve been reading his book for the past 8 years or so. I’ve also gone back and read the older stuff, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the character. He’s not a top-tier character, so you might not be familiar with him. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary who underwent an experimental procedure to cure his terminal cancer. As a result, he emerged with a healing factor, and it might’ve done something to his brain – making him think he’s a character in a comic book, and resulting in his breaking the 4th wall to interact with the reader. He’s like a cartoon character, and though violent, it tends to be a cartoony violence. Think Roadrunner cartoons. If you saw him, you’d probably ask “Why does Spider-Man have all those swords and machine guns?” That’s basically his look. He’s not someone to be taken seriously, especially in recent years where he’s been trying to be accepted by the hero community.

ultimate deadpool

So, imagine my surprise when they created a movie not about cartoony wacky Deadpool, but sadistically violent Deadpool. This is a far departure from the way he’s been presented in recent years. The violence and language are so amped up that it’s going to be rated R. So, all that said, I really don’t know who this movie is for. My main issue is the R-rating. While his video game was rated Mature, I think they’re cutting out a big swath of the potential audience by making it 17 and up. Parents like to take their kids to comic book movies. Not this one. Add in the fact that he’s not a hero. He’s a mercenary. He kills for money. He’s not saving the world, or fighting aliens. He kills mobsters for other mobsters. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent Deadpool book by Gerry Duggan, but Deadpool really doesn’t kill all that much anymore. He’s kinda gained a conscience, and even has a daughter. If you’re a fan of that Deadpool – ya know, the one currently making money for Marvel – this movie ain’t for you. My pal Carlin brought up the fact that Deadpool’s recently been featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which his son loved. Unfortunately, this is not a movie that he’ll be able to share with his son.

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I’m not saying that a PG-13 rating would make the movie a success, but an R will certainly keep it from being one. There are only 2 R-rated comic book movies that have been successful: Blade and Kick-Ass. Blade’s success has more to do with folks’ love of vampires (and then-love of Wesley Snipes) than the character of Blade. And Kick-Ass was just a fluke, as seen by the failure of its sequel. Even Spawn, a movie about a soldier for THE DEVIL, managed to get a PG-13 rating when it probably should’ve been an R to be “faithful” to the source material. Marvel really needs to rethink how they want to allow Deadpool to be used. He can’t be their Mickey Mouse AND their Terminator. I think this movie is a thematic misfire, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, everyone was talking about the trailer Wednesday morning, and it sparked some of the best online discussions I’ve had. So, for all of that, the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever.

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

antman

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.

Mr.-Robot-Key-Art

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.

wayward-pines

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.

dustin-diamond

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.

taylor

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…

General-Lee

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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-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

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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.

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