‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ offers more cool cars, gun-fu and Keanu

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It was three years ago that I saw an ad for a Keanu Reeves movie called John Wick pop up on my Spotify account. It had been awhile since I had seen something of his that I liked (i.e., 2005’s Constantine), but I said to myself, “This looks cool. I’m there opening weekend.”

Fast-forward t0 2017. We now have John Wick 2, thanks to good word-of-mouth that made the original hit. The first film pulled in $89 million globally on a $20 million budget, and John Wick: Chapter 2 has already amassed $90 million in two weeks. That’s because  Reeves, director Chad Stahelski, and writer Derek Kolstad have offered fans a little bit more of everything the liked the first time around — cool cars, cool guns, and cool fights — while still managing to expand the universe in fun ways.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so all I will say is that this film mainly serves as a bridge to what I’m assuming will be a finale of epic proportions. The last film sent a message that we cannot escape the repercussions of our past sins while JW: Chapter 2 emphasizes that attempting to solve violence through violence usually exacerbates the problem. The main character desperately wants to leave the lifestyle of evil behind, but that is next to impossible since he spent years building up a reputation as “Death’s emissary.”

Long story short, if you enjoyed the first movie then you probably should do yourself a favor and check out this one. Laurence Fishburne reunites with Reeves in grand fashion, Common does an excellent job as “Cassian,” and the ending has a well-done homage to Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon.

If you’re an action-movie fan who still needs more convincing, then head on over to Conservative Book Club for a more extensive review that I wrote up last week.

 

Related: 

‘John Wick’: Keanu Reeves delivers solid action, shows us that the price of sin is pain and death

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Dan Slott belly flops in ‘Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy’ finale

The finale to Marvel’s Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy is now in stores — or is it? Yes, the event that began with Before Dead No More has technically ended, but there are so many questions left unanswered that readers will now be forced to buy Clone Conspiracy Omega #1 for some semblance of closure.

Months ago I jokingly predicted that Marvel would come up with After Dead No More and Dead No More — No More, and it looks like readers will essentially get just that because “Omega” sounds edgy and cool…but I digress.

Anyway, the one question that fans of The Amazing Spider-Man should ask themselves right now is this: Was it worth it?

Was DNM: CC worth turning ASM proper into supplementary reading material? Was it worth creatively monopolizing the tie-in books? Was it worth digging up the memories of the original Clone Saga? Was it worth the sheer amount of effort expended by Marvel to try and convince people to care about “reanimates” as much as the original characters?

I would definitively say the answer is “no.”

Check out my latest review, and then make sure to head on over to Whatever A Spider Can to read Mike McNulty’s take. He always does great work, and this time it provided me with a much needed assist for a YouTube review of DNM: CC #5.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments sections below.

Iron Man #4: Bendis turns biohack ninjas into foot clan clowns for Riri

Invincible Iron Man #4 hit the shelves of your local comic shop this week, which means Brian Michael Bendis’ biohack ninjas have returned. There’s only one problem: The professional killers who gave Tony Stark and James Rhodes a run for their money now have turned into foot clan clowns from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This move allows teenager Riri Williams — who isn’t scared of deadly assassins while in her civilian clothes — to prove once again how superawesomefantasticbrilliant she is compared to Tony.

Question: Does anyone believe the reports that Marvel will quick injecting politics into its books in 2018? It’s hard to believe this will actually happen, given the way writers like Mr. Bendis will torture their creations with perfection if wins them plaudits from politically correct Tumblr kids who don’t even buy the books.

Check out my latest YouTube review for the full rundown and, as always, be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Thomas Merton’s ‘The Seven Storey Mountain’ a classic for the well-read man of faith

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Not too long ago I was sitting at the kitchen table with my wife after Mass and she told me that I seemed restless. I agreed, and when we started to dig down into the reasons why, one of them was the kind of “dumbed down” Catholicism that Bishop Robert Barron criticizes so eloquently on his YouTube channel.

I sometimes sit in Church on Sunday and listen to our priest deliver the same New York Jets joke that he has used at least three times in the last 18 months. I’ll hear another priest tell well-prepared homilies that seem to concentrate on feel-goodisms (e.g., “Make someone smile and you’ll bring them closer to God”), instead of anything substantive. It’s maddening to know that there is a wealth of intellectual treasures in the Catholic Church, but for some weird reason priests never seem to challenge people in the pews to pick up a good book and read.

It boggles my mind that I have never — in nearly 38 years — heard a priest on Sunday tell me to read Saint Augustine’s ConfessionsC.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas, or a whole host of intellectual giants who have helped me over the years to understand my faith on a deeper level — and to cogently share it with those in my circle of friends. I searched out the above-mentioned authors because at some point in time I realized that I had to take as much personal responsibility with my spiritual health as I have with my physical and mental development over the years.

And it is here, dear reader, where Trappist monk Thomas Merton enters the equation. Long story short, his autobiography is a must-read for anyone who has drifted away from the Church because they received too many helpings of “dumbed down Catholicism” without realizing how much stimulating content was within reach.

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Saint Augustine’s Confessions and now they know that I fully endorse Merton. But what they don’t know is that one of the reasons these men resonate with me is because the flaws they both acknowledge — their spiritual deficiencies — have been my own.

Merton says:

“Where was my will? ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,’ and I had not laid up any treasures for myself in heaven. They were all on earth. I wanted to be a writer, a poet, a critic, a professor. I wanted to enjoy all kinds of pleasures of the intellect and of the senses and in order to have these pleasures I did not hesitate to place myself in situations which I knew would end in spiritual disaster — although generally I was so blinded by my own appetites that I never even clearly considered this fact until it was too late, and the damage was done.

Of course, as far as my ambitions went, their objects were all right in themselves. There is nothing wrong in being a writer or a poet — at least I hope there is not: but the harm lies in wanting to be one for the gratification of one’s own ambitions, and merely in order to bring oneself up to the level demanded by his own internal self-idolatry. Because I was writing for myself and for the world, the things I wrote were rank with the passions and selfishness and sin from which they sprang. An evil tree brings forth evil fruits, when it brings forth fruit at all,” (Merton, Thomas. 253).

Who knew that a deceased monk could peg me to the wall and make me weep like no man who walks the earth? You exposed me to all the world, Thomas Merton. Touché! But I thank you, because I am better for it.

The point here is not so much to treat this blog as a confessional booth (although in many ways it is), but to point out just how imperative it is to read the best and the brightest that has ever been written. If you really want to see spiritual growth, then you must put in the same type of time and effort that you do with any other endeavor deemed important.

If you are a Catholic or a lapsed Catholic, then I highly recommend Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. If you are not Catholic but you are interested in exploring this kind of subject matter, then I would start out with C.S. Lewis since it’s easier to step into a warm bath than a brisk pool.

Regardless which route you take, the point remains: Get reading!

Related:

Americans need to read more Saint Augustine and listen to less Mike Huckabee

The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics’: Pay a small price for the work of an intellectual giant

G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Everlasting Man’ — perfect Easter reading

‘Letters to a Young Catholic’: George Weigel hits a literary home run

Comics and Politics YouTube chat: ‘Identity Chaos of Marvel’

The upcoming week here at douglasernst.blog is likely to feature reviews of John Wick 2, the conclusion to Marvel’s The Clone Conspiracy, and the fourth issue of Invincible Iron Man. While those are baking in the oven, those of you who are interested in hearing me ruminate on comics and politics can check out Capn. Cummings’ latest YouTube video: “Revolution Comics Podcast: The Identity Chaos of Marvel #3.”

Our old friend Captain Frugal completes the trio, as always.

Renew Your Vows #4: MJ plays feminism card so Peter will endanger child

Gerry Conway’s fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows came out this week, which means that Peter Parker fans are treated once again to a light-hearted and fun read devoid of Slottian baggage. The writer’s “All In The Family” tale wraps up with the Parkers defeating Mole Man, but it doesn’t come without a few creative red flags for the future.

Ask yourself this question: Is it sexist for Peter Parker to want his young daughter as far away from megalomanic super-villains as possible? This version of Mary Jane thinks so, and for some bizarre reason the hero backs down without much of a fight.

Check out my latest YouTube review for a better explanation of why RYV appears to be taking a problematic stance towards the family’s superhero dynamic. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below — and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Marvel flinches on hack writing after backlash, but actions speak louder than words

Iron Man 7

It appears as though sagging sales, fan backlash, The New York Times dropping comics from its “bestseller” list, and a general consensus that Marvel has lost its way has finally pushed the “House of Ideas” to return to its roots. Bleeding Cool reported Feb. 6 that a back-to-basics approach will take place in 2018.

The website said:

“Last week’s Marvel creative summit I am told by well connected sources who have proved themselves in that past there was more of a focus on what DC Comics internally called “meat and potatoes” comics that preceded their doubling down on the popular characters and bringing back old favourite takes with DC Rebirth.

I am told, as Marvel brings back the X-Men line with a bang, to expect a return to more of a status quo for titles such as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and more. A more familiar looking Marvel Universe by the autumn – although, just as with Captain America, as classic-look-characters return, expect new characters to keep a number of their books. …

I am told to expect that Secret Empire will be a bit of a last hurrah for this kind of [politicized] storytelling from Marvel for a while. A little how Marvel writers were told to get the use of the Marvel 616 dimensional nomenclature out of their system before it was done away with for good…”

Twitter, YouTube, and other social media websites were abuzz — in a positive way — with this news, but your friendly neighborhood blogger would like to remind everyone that actions speak louder than words — and Bleeding Cool reporting.

While it is true that Marvel has flinched in the face of a growing number of fans who are sick and tired of political preaching shoved into their books, it is also true that its writers and editors only made the right decision when all other options were essentially taken off the table.

If Marvel had to hemorrhage fans to DC Comics for months on end before its top brass decided to retreat on their social justice crusade, then it stands to reason that they will return to their old ways as soon as possible. Even Bleeding Cool’s report indicates that this is merely a tactical retreat by the New Puritans.

At this point in time Marvel has done nothing tangible — I repeat, nothing — to engender good will among the fans it has alienated for years.

There has not been any admittance that loyal customers were treated like dirt while classic characters were needlessly dumped upon for the sake of diversity.

Now is not the time to let up, but to stay increasingly engaged in terms of holding the publisher accountable for partisan or sloppy writing. Until Marvel and its creative teams consistently deliver the goods and extend an olive branch to those who were told to “eat a bag of d***s,” then they should not be patted on the back.

It is time to be cautiously optimistic, but it most certainly not the time to shake hands with writers and artists who have rarely missed an opportunity to sucker punch long-time readers.

David F Walker Twitter bag

George Perez’s ‘red state’ protest: Principles and wife’s desire to belly dance collide

It was just about three months ago that this blog covered artist Humberto Ramos’ decision to boycott “red states” in response to the 2016 presidential election. What was not discussed was artist George Perez’s identical stance. Luckily, Mr. Perez has added a caveat to his boycott, which has allowed for a new YouTube video on the absurdity of it all.

Remember, folks: George Perez’s principles end where his wife’s desire to belly dance begins.

Daredevil #16 Review: Soule gets ‘subversive’ with Catholic priest

It wasn’t too long that I was informed that Matt Murdock would be returning to the Catholic church. I was thrilled that such a logical move would happen to the Marvel character after years in creative purgatory, but at the same time I couldn’t help wonder what catch the company had in mind. We now know with the introduction of Father Jordan.

Brace yourself, Catholic Daredevil fans. Once again Marvel (like Hollywood) has shown that it cannot simply show a man who honestly lives his Christian faith. There must always be some sort of weird warped take on the faith — or the man must have some underlying fetish or perversion.

Check out my latest YouTube review for the full details. As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Whedon Watch: Political radiation turns Joss into ‘rage’ monster

Question: What happens when a man plays with political gamma radiation for far too long?

Answer: Just like Hollywood director Joss Whedon, he turns into a rage monster who will destroy anyone in his path to achieve ideological ends.

I covered Mr. Whedon’s slow-motion descent into partisan madness on this blog for years, but a new segment on my YouTube channel has officially launched with the name Whedon Watch.

If you’re interested in seeing how talented men often go from artistically inspired to hulking partisan hacks, then check out my latest YouTube video. Given that Mr. Whedon shows no signs of pulling back from a poisonous void, I fully expect there to be many episodes of Whedon Watch in the years to come.