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One of the cool things about YouTube is that you never know when a video is going to hit a nerve. I recently saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and then posted my review. The post racked up over 50,000 views and roughly 2,000 comments in one week.
Here’s the abridged version for those who are in a hurry: Director Rian Johnson has given generations of fans a giant “middle finger chin scratch.”
If you want to see male characters get emasculated in a $200 million commercial for producer Kathleen “The Force is Female” Kennedy’s political agenda, then see it soon.
If, however, you want to see a product that honor’s George Lucas’ original trilogy, then you should avoid Last Jedi at all costs.
Below are my latest YouTube uploads on the movie, although you can head on over to Conservative Book Club if you want a more traditional review.
NOTE: There are SPOILERS in all of my videos. You have been warned.
Next up is my video titled: “Last Jedi: ‘Milking’ Luke, ‘leaking’ Fozzi Finn not in trailers for a reason.
Finally we have my two-hour live-stream on “sellout critics, spin doctors and more.”
Remember: Star Wars: The Last Jedi apologists say this guy has no agenda…
Question: How much do you want to bet that somewhere in Hollywood there is a producer who is thinking up schemes to make Wonder Woman vs. Alien happen?
The past weekend was rightly dominated Gal Gadot’s solid handing of Diana Prince, but if you’re like me and had to deal with sold-out shows, then you faced the “Do-I-stay-for-the-later-viewing-or-go-home?” predicament. There was a third option — seeing Alien Covenant — but I shirked my writerly duties and got you this review late. I hope you can forgive your humble (I try) blogger and consider the analysis below as similar situations unfold in the weeks ahead.
Here is an except from my latest review for Conservative Book Club, with a link to the full text once I’ve pushed fair-use content to its outer limits:
Director Ridley Scott’s latest foray into the universe he made famous roughly 40 years ago is a bit like a Rorschach test. Is it primarily a Prometheus (2012) sequel or an Alien (1979) prequel? Is it a highbrow science-fiction flick about the origins and meaning of life, or is it just another opportunity to show seemingly smart people make stupid decisions that lead to gruesome deaths? Alien: Covenant, like a quickly scurrying “xenomorph,” is hard to nail down.
One of the big challenges with bringing a film like Alien: Covenant to the big screen is making it fresh. Die-hard fans of any beloved franchise (e.g., Star Wars) understand that on some level they’re paying for the same roller coaster ride, but that doesn’t absolve creators from supplying a few new twists and turns. Luckily for Alien fans they have a 79-year-old Scott, whose lifetime of experience brings forth a gorgeous film that demands respect despite its flaws.
Alien: Covenant’s plot revolves around a crew of would-be planetary colonists who are wakened from hypersleep due to an emergency. Their captain dies, and a pensive man of faith named Oram (Billy Crudup) takes his place. Newly widowed Daniels (Katherine Waterston), an android named Walter (David Fassbender), and a small band of explorers decide to investigate a radio signal from a nearby planet instead of reentering hypersleep and risking another calamity. The chaos that follows serves as the bridge between Prometheus and Alien.
As expected, Oram and much of his crew soon find themselves overwhelmed by a hostile planet filled with xenomorph-producing spores that burrow inside ears and noses. The team is saved by David (Fassbender), the older — but more problematically human — model of Walter from Prometheus. He hopes to hitch a ride on their orbiting spaceship once an electrical storm subsides, but for reasons he has no intention of disclosing to his innocent human visitors.
Without spoiling the movie, the key to understanding David’s motivations lie in Alien: Covenant’s prologue, in which he speaks with his inventor.
“If you created me, who created you?” asks David.
His “father” (Guy Pearce) calls it the “question of the ages.”
“Allow me then a moment to consider — you seek your creator; I am looking at mine,” replies David. “I will serve you, yet you are human. You will die, I will not.”
A further window into David’s digital mind comes later in the movie during a conversation with “brother” Walter. He references fallen angel Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.”
Check out the full review over at CBC here.
Marvel comics made quite a bit of news this week after its Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, gave an interview with ICv2 on sluggish sales. He completely distorted the cold hard reality that fans are tired of politicized comics to say that we really just have a problem with “diversity.”
To see just what a disingenuous liar Mr. Gabriel is, I have provided a review of Marvel’s America by Gabby Rivera. I purchased the first two issues, which appear to be a perfect storm for social justice activism.
Check out my latest YouTube review to learn all about the “privileged” and evil white cyborgs who try to destroy Sotomayor University, or the being of “white energy” that imprisons an entire planet until it is defeated with America’s “brown fist.” I wish I were joking, but I’m not.
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: Our good pal Dave Huber just wrote a piece for The College Fix that touches on Marvel’s partisan politics problem: Don’t be fooled: ‘Get Woke’ campaigns really mean ‘Agree With Me (or else)’. He was also kind enough to reference my review of America.
Imagine a science fiction film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s directed by Morten Tyldum (Intimidation Game) and written by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange). That sounds like a winner, right? Not necessarily, because that’s exactly what moviegoers got with “Passengers” with uninspiring results.
If you’re thinking about seeing Passengers, then here is what you need to know:
- Chris Pratt plays Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer who is on a spaceship called Avalon. Its destination: a colony planet called Homestead II.
- A meteor shows damages the Avalon, which causes Jim to wake from a state of suspended animation roughly 90 years too early.
- Jim desperately tries to figure out a way to reenter a sleeping state while also dealing with extreme isolation. He has an AI robot named Arthur (Michael Sheen) to keep him company.
- Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Aurora Lane, also is awakened midway through the film.
- The Avalon begins to malfunction, which forces the two passengers (along with Laurence Fishburne — very briefly — as Captain Gus Mancuso) to work together to avoid a catastrophe.
This is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t go into many more details other than to say that Passengers is most intriguing for the number of missed opportunities racked up by Jon Spaihts. With a few tweaks of the script, Passengers could have turned into an instant classic. Over and over again the stage is set for a stunning reveal, only to inform theatergoers, “Nope. This is just a by-the-numbers sci-fi flick that will hit embarrassingly predictable beats by the time the end credits roll.”
If you decide to see Passengers, then ask yourself the following questions before the curtains open:
- Will A.I. ever reach the point where it can become lonely and yearn for human interaction?
- Would a company accused of treating customers like cattle ever engineer a disaster to see how the “animals” respond — perhaps as a way of garnering larger profits down the road?
- If a character puts the proverbial “smoking gun” in a place where an individual would obviously find it over the course of a relationship, then that needs to happen — right?
Again, I note that this is a spoiler-free review, which means that asking the above questions only draws attention to the fact that Passengers explored … none of them. There are more, but for the purposes of this blog post we’ll stick to three.
In short, if you’re a science fiction junkie who needs a fix, then see on Sunday matinee of Passengers. It’s passable, but in many ways that is only attributable to Mr. Pratt’s likability and professionalism. He did the most with what he was given, but he wasn’t given much.
Because my daughter is such a fan of “The Voice,” I almost accidentally began watching the new NBC time-travel series “Timeless” since it immediately follows the “American Idol” knock-off.
Scientist Rufus Carlin has invented the world’s first time machine, but unfortunately for us all, unscrupulous former NSA agent Garcia Flynn and some henchmen steal it. Flynn’s goal is to alter history by preventing the United States from becoming a (super)power.
But unfortunately for Flynn, he forgot to take into account Carlin’s prototype time device (see below) which, although it looks much clunkier than the stolen model, works perfectly well. And even worse for Flynn — it can be used to track the stolen, newer machine’s movements through the timestream..
The first adventure takes place at the Hindenburg disaster — which still does occur, just not how we remember it thanks to our protagonists. After Carlin confirms that this point in time indeed is where Flynn has journeyed, he is joined by historian Lucy Preston and Delta Force member Wyatt Logan in an attempt to capture the renegades and the stolen timeship. Flynn’s plan in this case was to destroy the famous dirigible on its way back to Europe — as it was carrying numerous prominent Americans to the coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth.
Carlin and co. believe that since the Hindenburg still burst into flames and fell into ruins (just not the way it was supposed to) that they prevented any serious alteration of the timeline. But this is not the case: Preston discovers, once back in the present, that her mother is no longer on chronically ill, and worse, her sister no longer exists.
The best of the four episodes to air thus far was the second, where the team tracks Flynn back to the date of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. And it’s really here that the show really misses the opportunity to be radically different.
Scientist Carlin, who’s black, asks historian Preston why the team simply can’t save Lincoln from John Wilkes Booth’s bullet … in an attempt to make the future (much) better for African-Americans. It’s a rather compelling argument, but Preston adamantly refuses on the premise that they have no idea what the overall effects of such a drastic altering of events would entail.
Logically, it’s hard not to disagree with that. But wouldn’t saving our 16th president be a lot more interesting than Preston trying to figure out what happened to her sister? Or Logan trying to resurrect his dead wife? Why not examine how black Americans would have fared under a continuing Lincoln administration (and policies)?
Carlin (played by Malcolm Barrett) does a great job conveying the emotional angst over this issue — I was hoping his argument would prevail, or, at least he’d act unilaterally. Let’s face it — the stakes aren’t (weren’t) exactly small.
The problem is that “Timeless” operates under the premise of a “closed loop” time geometry — the actions of changing events in the past will affect that same timeline’s future. If saving Lincoln created an alternate timeline — the other theory dealing with the consequences of altering past events — Carlin and co. might have been more inclined to act.
By not taking big risks like saving Lincoln, sadly, “Timeless” ends up being yet another formulaic, offers-no-surprises assembly line drama.
For yours truly, it has become exceedingly difficult over the last decade or so to find a new network/cable TV offering worth sticking with. “The Walking Dead,” the most recent show I regularly watched, lasted only three and a half seasons for me, and that was stretching it. It essentially became the same thing week after week after week.
Of the three other fairly recent faves of mine — “Nip/Tuck,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Fringe” — only the last remained true enough to its origins to stick with until the end.
“Nip/Tuck” took its adult theme warning to the limit each and every week and was so outrageously different in its first two seasons as to be must-viewing. I liken its fall to that of “Friends” — the character entanglements became so convoluted and silly that the show became an eye-roller and yawn-inducer.
“Battlestar” started out similarly; however, as I chronicled at the time at The Colossus of Rhodey, the political lecturing started seeping in. The posturing initially didn’t make much sense (the few remaining humans refuse to take advantage of a means to wipe out their killers), and later became outrageous as the writers appeared to possess no sense of moral certitude (not to mention, they seemed to wing it, plot-wise, the last season-season and a half).
Stark Trek Beyond is a peculiar movie. A cursory glance of the screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung would seem to have all the makings of a great adventure for the Enterprise crew. The problem, however, is that it is missing a certain level of intellectual gravitas that long-time fans of Gene Roddenberry’s creation have come to expect.
J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise in 2009 and then followed that up with the solid Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. Both movies pushed the creative pendulum more towards an action-oriented audience, but Beyond seems to fully embrace the “mindless summer fun” designation. Director Justin Lin of Fast & Furious 6 fame is happy to oblige, which is either horrible or great news depending on your allegiance to Mr. Roddenberry’s original vision.
Here is what you need to know about Beyond:
- Chris Pine as Captain Kirk; Zachary Quinto as Spock; Karl Urban as Bones; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Zoe Saldana as Lieutenant Uhura; and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov all look comfortable in their roles. Everyone has at least a brief moment to shine, and most of the humor hits the mark. The crew is scattered across a planet far out of reach of the United Federation of Planets, which allows for character development between Bones and Spock that should pay off in future movies.
- Sofia Boutella is convincing and entertaining as Jaylah, a warrior who lives alone on a deserted Starfleet ship. There is one problem: She seems in many ways like a knockoff of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Simon Pegg may deny lifting aspects of Rey from J.J. Abrams while on set filming his role as junk parts dealer Unkar Plutt, but the similarities are a bit too convenient (i.e., young, fiercely independent woman who lost her parents is great with mechanical devices and a staff. She is also intelligent, witty, and quick on her feet.)
- Idris Elba does a fine job with the script he was given as the villain Krall, who is after an ancient artifact in Kirk’s possession for reasons unknown for most of the movie. Elba’s problem, however, is that the character is underdeveloped. For the most of the movie he remains an enigma, and by the time his true nature it is revealed the audience reaction isn’t shock and awe, but, “Sure. I guess. You could have disclosed all this in the first act and then spent the rest of the movie making him a better foil.”
- The Beastie Boys. I say this as someone who grew up in the 90s and has nothing but love for the song Sabotage: “Why, Simon Pegg? Why?” I do not want to spoil anything in the main body of this review, but I will gladly talk about the song’s role in the comments section below.
Is Beyond worth seeing in the theater at full price? The short answer is yes. It is by no means a bad movie, but at the same time it will be a bit frustrating to fans who expect something a tad more cerebral from their Star Trek fare.
This third installment of the rebooted franchise is the weakest in terms of exploring philosophical conundrums, and as a result the movie suffers. It is an enjoyable film, but it is not something that would capture Spock’s interest for longer than five seconds. That seems like a significant failure to this blogger.
Did you see Star Trek Beyond? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below. I’d love the hear what you have to say.
This blog argued on May 21st that modern feminism “is a congeries of contradictory rules and regulations, which allow elites to wallow in self-congratulation for behavior that would earn others condemnation.” Activist and actress Rose McGowan has lent credence to the claim less than two weeks later by accusing 20th Century Fox of encouraging “casual violence against women.” Her reasoning: An X-Men Apocalypse billboard showed the blue mutant villain choking the blue mutant hero tasked with stopping him from destroying civilization. Fox responded within days with an apology.
Here is what Ms. Mcgowan said June 2 to The Hollywood Reporter:
“There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?”
Activists like Rose McGowan demand “strong” women who literally knock out hulking men with a single elbow blow to the face — just like Jennifer Lawrence’s character in X-Men: Apocalypse. When they get exactly what they want, they still complain.
Jennifer Lawrence has punched and kicked her way through a gauntlet of evil men — often with a single well-placed shot — for three X-Men movies in a row.
Now, however, activists like Rose McGowan are upset because a mutant on the verge of a world-wide holocaust had the nerve to choke his adversary. In the mind of Rose McGowan, normal Americans walking down the street are inclined to look at X-Men: Apocalypse ads and think, “Next time my wife gets out of line, I’m going to go full-En Sabah Nur on her because … 20th Century Fox.”
Sadly, the studio gave those fishing for an apology exactly what they wanted:
“In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.”
Reasonable people know that 20th Century Fox is not condoning violence against women, but activists like Rose McGowan are not reasonable. Hence, the apology was unnecessary and unproductive. The swarm of perpetually offended bees will now move on to another target with increased drive and motivation.
Tens-of-millions of people watched the various trailers for X-Men: Apocalypse. They witnessed female characters like Jean Grey, Storm, and Psylocke dish out plenty of punishment, and they watched a man like Charles Xavier get tossed around his own mansion like a rag doll.
Million of people saw the movie in theaters and watched Jean Grey deliver the death blow to Apocalypse. They saw Havok selflessly sacrifice himself for men and (gasp!) women.
The point is this: Activists like Rose McGowan claim to be strong, but their actions prove otherwise. Worse, they think people are so stupid that they will equate blue mutants fighting one another in a superhero movie to surreptitious approval of spousal abuse, etc.
Do not apologize to them. Do not placate them. Activists who find reasons to complain after all their demands are met (e.g., Make more action movies where 90-pound women knock out burly men with a single punch to the face) should not be taken seriously. Tell them to take a hike and they will move on to another target. To do otherwise only fuels their madness.
Captain America: Civil War is downright amazing. It’s scary-good. It’s so good that it makes one wonder if Joe and Anthony Russo cut some sort of weird deal with Mephisto to make it happen. The script is so tight and the direction is so proficient that employers should ask questions about it during job interviews — any candidate who says Civil War is a rotten film should be told to have a nice day and shown the door due to their unfortunate lack of good judgment (I’m kidding … sort of).
For those who have been living in an underground bunker for the last year, Civil War involves the disintegration of the Avengers when the international community demands regulations governing the actions of super-humans. The United Nations has had enough with civilian casualties and diplomatic headaches linked to free-wheeling superheroes, and Tony Stark agrees. Steve Rogers decides the world is safest if he and his allies are only beholden to their own consciouses, and the disagreement puts everyone on a collision course.
Since this is a spoiler-free review, I will concentrate on what the Russo brothers professionally accomplished and only talk in broad brushstrokes about the of the film.
Imagine you’re the Russo brothers.
Now imagine Kevin Feige gives you $250 million and tells you to find a way to utilize Captain America, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man, Spider-Man, Crossbones, and Zemo. You need to make sure the script is tight, juggle all the weirdness that actors bring with them to the set, navigate countless professional mine fields, and then somehow deliver a product that can impress a fanbase that has been spoiled with excellence since 2008’s Iron Man.
The verdict is in: Captain America: Winter Soldier was not a fluke. These guys not only met expectations given an almost impossible task — they exceeded expectations. Civil War is a modern superhero classic and should be used as the gold standard by which future installments are judged. One almost feels bad for the pressure their own greatness has created as production on Avengers: Infinity War – Parts I and II begins.
Regular readers of this blog know I am a stickler for superhero stories that work on multiple levels. If some child (or an adult) just wants to see Spider-Man swing across the screen and come to blows with other superheroes, then he or she will exit the theater with a smile. If intellectually curious individuals want their superhero flicks to be much more than “popcorn fare,” they too will be happy after the end credits roll.
Civil War has gravity, but it also has lighthearted humor. There is plenty of action, but the blows actually mean something because the script took the time to adequately address every character’s motivations. As an added bonus, the world will now get to see cinematic killjoys attempt to nitpick the film into oblivion (e.g., Well, the score wasn’t all that great and it was a bit too long.)
“Compromise where you can, but where you can’t — don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No. You move,'” S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carton (Emily VanCamp) says at one point of advice her aunt once gave her.
After watching Civil War, it is obvious that the Russo brothers had a vision and refused to compromise on all the issues that mattered.
If you are a fan of superhero movies, then you owe it to the creative team that put Civil War together to see it before it leaves theaters. When you are old and grey you will watch it again and say, “Those were the good old days.”
The new Rogue One trailer came out this morning, which means the “social justice” force field to protect lead actor Felicity Jones was immediately deployed. The way the internet works is that as long as two anonymous people say something then a story can be written about “some men” — or just “men” if editors are particularly angry.
Here is the thing about the Rogue One trailer: It looks interesting. Is there any Star Wars fan out there who wouldn’t want to see how the Rebel Alliance managed to steal plans for the Death Star? Of course not.
Added bonuses: Donnie Yen and Forest Whitaker have roles, the movie has a gritty look, and it opens up new possibilities for the Star Wars universe.
With that said, it is also a natural reaction for men to raise an eyebrow when Jones’ character, Jyn Erso, beats up stormtroopers as if drunk octogenarians are wearing the armor.
Are there tough women out there? Sure. Can female leads be convincing action stars? Of course. That is one of the many reasons why I gave Star Wars: The Force Awakens rave reviews.
In general, however, a 120-pound woman is not going to stand a chance against a 200-pound man in a street brawl — let alone a group of 200-pound men.
Sorry. It’s just not happening. To get upset at men who point that out after viewing a movie trailer is absurd.
Regardless, at the end of the day, Rogue One looks intriguing. If the movie does well, then the only thing Disney will have to worry about will be over-saturating the market with Star Wars flicks. That is a good problem to have.
Remember: Even a person who enjoys chocolate cake will turn it down if you give them too much.
Let me know what you think of the Rogue One trailer in the comments section below.
Should Felicity Jones be the main character? Will she nail the role, or will she be choke like Admiral Motti before Lord Vader?