Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What Does Ben Affleck’s leaving the directing chair for The Batman say about Justice League?

Variety dropped a bombshell on the nerd community yesterday with the news that Ben Affleck will no longer be directing The Batman film. The statement in the article from Variety makes it sound like everything is great with Affleck and the studio. Affleck states in the article that he wants to just focus more acting in the movie. This doesn’t really make sense, since Affleck has turned in two fantastic performances in two great movies which he directed. Argo and The Town are two wonderful movies and he did everything for those films. Affleck can direct and act in the same film with no issues, and him backing out, regardless of what the article in Variety states, sends up warning flairs.

To start off, maybe Affleck really does just want to focus on acting and producing the film, or maybe he has something going on personally which makes him not want to direct. This could be the case, but to this sounds like WB is trying to mettle in what Affleck wants to do with the film. With the news of the The Flash getting a page one rewrite and so many other off shoot films being announced or canceled coming from WB, the studio feels rudderless when it comes to their cinematic universe. This scenario is more than likely the case and Affleck just doesn’t want to direct something which is being meddled with by studio executives.

A more alarming narrative could be that Ben Affleck has seen an early cut of The Justice League and isn’t happy with the result. He is an Executive Producer on Justice League and this gave me hope that he could reign in Snyder on narratives issues. This is highly speculative, but since filming is done he could be worried about how poor the movie has turned out. If he knows the movie is bad and more than likely going to bomb critically he knows there may never even be a Batman film starring him. If Wonder Woman isn’t a hit, and then Justice League isn’t good DC would probably just bite the bullet and start completely over.

This is of course a worst case scenario, but with all of the news about The Flash, and other issues from DC, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. I hope this isn’t the case, but I can’t help but wonder with how things have been handled at the studio. The rocky start for the DC cinematic universe is strange. WB is a great studio and makes great films, just a few years before Christopher Nolan completed a fantastic Batman trilogy. This also left them falling behind Marvel in having a connected universe, which may have been their first mistake. They shouldn’t have felt the need to catch up. Man of Steel isn’t universally loved, but it is still the best of any DC connected film, and after its release WB seems to be chasing and reacting to issues instead of just making good films. They are trying to play catch up instead of just letting their films be good movies first and then connect them.

I hope if The Batman does happen it gets a great director and has a fantastic story. Hopefully Wonder Woman is great along with Justice League and this becomes a non-story as time goes on. I hope for this, but as it stands right now this doesn’t seem realistic with the news coming out of the studio. Let me know what you think about Ben Affleck not being the director of The Batman. Also do you think this might mean there are issues with Justice League? 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Trailer #2 Thoughts: Epic and Magical.

The second trailer for Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans showcased more of the classic Disney story. The trailer showcased some of the magic the film has in store for fans of the original classic. 

I've been on the fence from what has been released up to this point for the movie, but this trailer sold me. The live action version looks to have captured some of the sheer scope and majesty of the original animated film. The movie could still end up not being a hit, but everything points to the film being fantastic with the framing of this trailer. 

The only negative from the trailer is some of the lines coming from Ewan McGregor's character Lumiere. It just seemed a tad forced, but it could just be the way the trailer was cut. Overall the trailer was fantastic, and gets me excited to go see the film on March 17th. 

What did you think of the trailer? 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Founder – Movie Review: Performance over Substance

One thing is certain, Michael Keaton is a fantastic actor.

The Founder starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern and directed by John Lee Hancock. The Founder is based on the true life story of Ray Kroc who built McDonald’s into modern fast food restaurant giant it is today. The movie starts with Kroc as a struggling milkshake mixer salesmen. He travels to town to town, drive-in to drive-in trying to convince each individual owner to buy his new mixer with little to no success. Like a lightning bolt a call comes in requesting five mixers from a small restaurant in California owned by the McDonald brothers. Kroch drives out west to view their operation, becomes inspired and wants to help the brothers franchise the restaurant. The majority of the film then focuses on the relationship between Kroch and the brothers and Kroch’s incessant need to become successful.

The Founder is telling an interesting story, and Michael Keaton is fantastic as Ray Kroc, but the execution of the narrative of the film is lacking. Keaton turns in another masterful performance, but it’s the story they are trying to tell about Kroc which is a little lost. The film doesn’t seem to know how they want to portray Kroch. In the film he is portrayed as an ambitious man, and the person who built the franchise empire of McDonalds couldn’t be anything but ambitious. The desire which drives him also makes him out to be a less than savory person to deal with. The portrayal of Kroch being both an ambitious man with dreams, but also someone with no regard for others around him isn’t executed well in the movie. Hanock could have done a better job of walking the line between the two different portrayals of Kroch’s character.

The best evidence of Kroch’s personality not working in the film is his relationship with the first wife played by Laura Dern. There relationship is supposed to be strained in the film, but it’s always cold, and is never truly explored very well. I’m not sure why Dern’s character is in the film.  As his current wife she tries to support him, but when she does Kroc squashes her efforts. Kroch in the film never sees her as being behind him while she does try to let him chase his dream. Then the film throws in another love interest which again paints Kroch in a negative light. He unceremoniously dumps his current wife for a third, who in real life is women he stays with until he died in 1984. This love triangle muddied up the story and took time away from the narrative of Kroch building the McDonalds empire while stepping on the McDonalds brothers.

If The Founder was focused on telling a true to life story about Kroch, then they should have also included his first wife and daughter which are never brought up in the film. Since this is never mentioned it would have been better for the story if they would have cut out the second wife and to focus just on how Kroc built the business and his interactions with the McDonalds brothers. This is what the movie is about in the end, Kroch’s ambition and drive and his willingness to step on anyone to be successful. The movie is at its best when it is showing him trying to figure out ways to grow the business while still working with the brothers. What gets lost is the duel nature they use in portraying Kroch. He was a complicated man and some movies can do a good job in displaying the complexities, The Founder just missed the mark.

This isn’t to say the film is completely without merit. The story about how the corporation grew and how Kroch managed to steal it away from the McDonald brothers is fascinating. This kept me engaged in watching the movie and minus the scenes with the wife the pacing of the film was well done. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch do great jobs as the brothers and Offerman in particular does a good job. It was strange to see him without a mustache or beard, but it worked for the movie. The story they tell about how they came with the speedy service model was interesting to watch and well done within the movie. The film should have really focused more on the relationship between the brothers and Kroch. It does focus on this for much of the film and when it does is when the movie is most interesting.

The Founder overall is a decent movie. It’s worth watching if and when it comes to Netflix or another streaming service. It’s probably even worth a matinee price or rental, but it’s not something I would rush out to see. Keaton’s performance is worth the effort of a watch. The movie just would have been better if they stuck to a more coherent way to portray the character of Ray Kroc in the film. Some movies can do a good job of showing a character’s duel nature, like Walk the Line, but The Founder just was lacking. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

MASS EFFECT™: ANDROMEDA Trailer #2 - Review/Thoughts

There are very few created universes greater than the one Bioware brought to life with its Mass Effect trilogy. All of the games (yes even the third) brought to life a rich history and story which could be enjoyed multiple times. My personal favorite of all the games was the first and while I loved the second I hope Mass Effect Andromeda gets back to some of the older RPG elements. 

This trailer doesn't give us any actual indication of gameplay. It does show more of the story being told. The second trailer gave us a glimpse of what appears to be the villain and who the crew will be fighting.  If there is a twist in the game, hopefully it is as well done as all of the other twists Bioware has delivered over the years. The game looks like a Mass Effect game, and at the very least has me excited to play the latest installment. 

The only issue I had with the trailer was some of the dialogue. The voice acting and interactions showed in the trailer didn't flow very well. This could very well be because of the way the trailer is cut. Bioware has never disappointed in the story before, and I doubt they will here. There were issues with the story in the early development of the game, which does still give me pause. Hopefully it's nothing and the game will be great. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why Suicide Squad is Deserving of an Oscar Nomination (For Makeup and Costume Design)

Suicide Squad is not a great movie. I didn’t hate the film, but it wasn’t one I enjoyed very much either. I thought Margot Robbie was great as Harley Quinn, and Will Smith turned in a good performance. I would have preferred a Joker and Harley Bonnie and Clyde mayhem movie, but we got the mess with The Enchantress. The film overall does not deserve an Oscar nomination, but for its makeup and costume design it most certainly is deserving.

All one has to do is look at Killer Croc and realize why it is deserving. The individuals making the film could have easily used CG for the character or motion capture. Instead they went with practical effects and had the actor wear prosthetics and makeup to bring the character to life.  At a time when many movie fans are crying for more real effects in big budget films the use of makeup in Suicide Squad should be praised. It is most deserving of the Oscar Nomination because the character was brought to life with what the makeup artists did on the set. This wasn’t the only character in Suicide Squad which had stellar design. El-Diablo was also well done, along with Harley Quinn. The work the people who designed the makeup and costumes for film deserve to be praised. They had no part in how the film was edited or the story being told on the screen. They had the job of making incredible looking characters and they executed this extremely well. Their efforts for the year were above and beyond numerous other movies, and it is why the people who worked on the film deserve the praise.

I understand Suicide Squad now gets to promote it is an Oscar Nominated film, and it is unfortunate that Deadpool didn’t get a writing nomination. Deadpool was worthy for writing, but it still doesn’t devalue the film because it didn’t get nominated. Deadpool was a fantastic success and while it would be nice for it be part of the Oscars it not being nominated doesn’t take anything from it. Suicide Squad is not in Deadpools league as far as quality of film, but it did have better makeup and costume design. This is what it was nominated for, and it is well deserved.

The people who work on the film work hard to bring the productions to life, and while the general public will not remember the names of the people who win the award, people in the industry will. They also get to add this to their resume so they can get more work, and everyone should relate to getting praise for a job well done. If you do great outstanding work on something at your job, but someone else doesn’t pull their weight, that doesn’t invalidate your work, and you should still get credit. This is no different for the people who worked on Suicide Squad. The overall end product is not great, but the job of the makeup department headed by Allan P Apone deserves its kudos. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Luke Skywalker Star Wars Story Movie After the Saga Films?

The title for Star Wars Episode Eight was released today, and as titles go The Last Jedi is nearly perfect. It gives just the right amount of mystery to what the movie is going to be about. My initial reaction is it's going to focus heavy on Luke and why he decided to go into hiding after Ben Solo fell to the dark side. The Last Jedi could very well see the end of Luke (I really hope not), and if so would Lucasfilm tell a Star Wars Story film set after Return of the Jedi focused on Luke? 

The second image above is of meld of Sebastian Kyle, who plays the Winter Soldier, and Mark Hamill. The meld shows how uncanny he looks like Mark and Luke Skywalker. On top of this he is a great actor and could easily handle the role and action needed. If Luke Skywalker does die in Episode Eight I wouldn't be surprised to see an announcement of a Luke Skywalker stand alone film. There is a vast amount of story between the end of Return of Jedi and the The Force Awakens primed to be explored.  There are plenty of actors who could step into the role, but Kyle would be my first choice. 

Lucasfilm may not want to go greenlight another story about one of the big three after making a standalone Han Solo film.  I understand the arguments against making a stand alone Luke film. The universe does need to expand and more stories told about characters outside of the ones already explored. However, there is a ton of story to be  told after Return of Jedi. There could be a trilogy just about training of new young Jedi, and the fall of Ben Solo. I'm sure Lucasfilm will explore these stories in all forms of media, but I hope a film isn't out of the question. 

Luke Skywalker has always been my favorite character in the universe. If he does end up being killed off in The Last Jedi I want to see him in another movie again, even if it isn't with Mark Hamill. I always wanted more stories about Luke after the events of Return of Jedi. This is the main reason I devoured what is now Legends books. I think it would be a lost opportunity not to do another film focused on Luke and explore what eventually forced him the remote planet he is on in The Force Awakens. 

Would you want a standalone Luke film set after Return of the Jedi? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Split - Movie Review: The Ending Ties it Togehter

The reveal at the end had me gasp, and I walked out of the theater with a huge smile on my face. 

Split, starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Split tells the story of one man, Kevin played by McAvoy, who has Dissociative Identity Disorder and with the disorder has twenty-three identities living within himself. A few of the identities decide to abduct three girls and the reason why is slowly revealed throughout the course of the movie. Split is a suspenseful abduction thriller and well made, but it’s not until the very end of the film that the entire movie falls into place. This truly heightens the experience of the story overall. 

The standouts in the film are James McAvoy, playing numerous roles, and Anya Taylor-Joy playing one of the abducted girls, Casey. McAvoy sinks into the role and each identity seen on the screen is unique. Though Kevin is supposed to have twenty-three personalities only four are truly displayed with any prominence in the movie. However, each one is truly different and the ease of which McAvoy conveys their differences showcases how talented of an actor he is.  The most interesting identity he portrays is the young persona of Hedwig who is a nine-year-old boy. Hedwig is at the same time creepy but also innocent. This personality also brings some much needed levity to the movie, and had me laughing. All of the Kevin’s personalities that are displayed in the movie are creepy. They are the ones which have taken over to abduct the girls and are awaiting the arrival of a new identity they name the beast. 

Dennis is the main personality which acted on abducting the girls. He planned to abduct two, and Taylor-Joy’s character Casey just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and get taken as well. She is the character the audience will relate to most and root for to escape the situation. Joy does a great job in the role and with her performance in this and last years The Witch she is very much a rising star to keep an eye on. She portrays Casey’s terror well, and you believe she is frightened. The other two girls in the film are good as well, but don’t really stand out. The other performance which was well done is by Betty Buckley who plays Kevin’s therapist. She has the job of basically explaining to the audience what DID is and what patients with the disease can do. I didn’t think her exposition was too heavy, and with the ending I think it was balanced well for the film overall. Buckley’s character does a good job of trying to parse together exactly what is happening to Kevin, and only makes one unrealistic decision in the film. 

This is another big positive for the movie. The characters don’t make silly decisions in the course of the film. The therapist does something towards the end which is a tad convenient for the story to work, but it’s not necessarily far-fetched. The girls in the film never make the standard dumb horror film decisions. They are terrified, but their actions are ones which are based and grounded in reality. There wasn’t one time in the film which had me wondering why they were taking a certain course of action. There was one instance in the movie where one girl is attempting something which’s chances of succeeding are slim, but when there are no other options she had little choice but to try. The poor choices characters make in horror films are what genially take me out of this genre of films, so it was great not see it in Split. 

The only slight negative for the film is its length. It is a tad too long, and probably could have been shortened by about five or ten minutes. A few of the scenes with the therapist and Kevin were a bit redundant and could have been shortened or cut out. Shyamalan also placed himself in the film, and while it wasn’t a major role, when he came on screen it did take me out of the movie. He probably could have found someone else for the small role, or cut it out altogether. These are the only minor slights to the film which is exceptionally shot and riveting to watch. Shyamalan tells the story in a visually fascinating way and draws the audience into the movie. As the tension starts to ramp up you feel in the moment with Casey and the other characters. 

Split is a very good film, with an ending which puts it over the top. Shyamalan is known for his twist endings, but the ending in this film isn’t a twist. The story you watch is what you get, but something is revealed at the end of movie which should have fans of his early work giddy for the implications of what is next. This reveal makes major sense on multiple levels, and I can’t wait to see what news drops after the film has been out for a while.  I’m not sure how many people in my theater understood the reveal, because I was the only one who audibly gasped when it happened. I almost clapped, but stopped myself because it seemed I was the only one reacting. Needless to say I loved the reveal, and really enjoyed this movie. If you enjoyed Shyamalan’s early movies, namely Sixth Sense and Unbreakable then this is a must watch. If you are just a fan of good suspenseful horror this one is very much worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels S3E14 Trials of the Darksaber Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Well Done Character Development

Trials of the Darksaber, the fourteenth episode for Season three of Star Wars Rebels, is focused on Sabine. The crew want Sabine to learn how to wield the Darksaber to try and unite Mandalore behind her to join the Rebellion. Sabine from the start of the episode has mixed feelings on trying to achieve this. No reason as to why she joined the Rebel crew has ever been given, but there was a falling out with her family when she left the Imperial Academy. The only reason Sabine is entertaining the thought of trying to go back to Mandalore is because Hera and the other members of the crew ask her to do it. This interaction at the start of the episode is highly dramatic and impactful, and set the stage for the entire episode.

Trials of the Darksaber is one of the most dramatic episodes the series has ever attempted, and it succeeds on almost every level. There is an insane amount of content packed into the short twenty-two-minute episode. The story of the first Jedi Mandalorian who made the Darksaber started the episode off with some fantastically integrated exposition. The 2D animation used to explore this brief story was well done and flowed within the show. This brief story setup the conference between Sabine and the rest of the crew, and there is an immediate tension. Sabine does not want anything to do with Mandalore or trying to unite them behind her. She will try because it is needed, but her heart is not in the effort.

The episode doesn’t have much action, but it doesn’t need any due to the content of the story. The entire episode is out in the desert of the planet with Sabine being trained by Kanan and Ezra. The entire dynamic of how her training progresses is built perfectly.  The struggle Kanan goes through about how to effectively train her is told and explored extremely well. Every action he takes with Sabine is explained and explored as to why he wants to proceed a certain way. Kanan is having to walk a delicate line with her training and he doesn’t know if he doing it the best way. He second guesses his actions, and realizes when he makes a mistake by not allowing her to train with the actual Darksaber. Once he does the ensuing bout between them is emotional and powerful. The episode builds to the dramatic reveal of why Sabine left Mandalore and how she feels betrayed by her parents and people. Her reveal is emotional and Tiya Sircar, who voices Sabine, does a masterful job in her performance. The emotion of the last fight can truly be felt, and for an animated series geared for kids this is impressive.

This was an episode more geared for adults who watch the show. It has a few moments for the younger audience, but overall if you are an older viewer the character driven episode had more impact. The only small complaint I had with Trials of the Darksaber where the interactions with Ezra and how whiney he became at a few points during the episode. His teenage angst felt misplaced in this story. Ezra did have one fantastic moment when bringing up his parents, but a few other times he didn’t add anything of value to the episode.  His presence and jokes may have been the only thing tying in the younger audience, so I understand his need to be there, it just didn’t mesh as well with the overall tone.

The episode set up a short series arc. The next episode will follow up this story and can be viewed as a long two-part story the way The Clone Wars show used to do. Trials of the Darksaber was the first act in hopefully a fantastic two or three-part arc which will draw the Mandalorians into the conflict with the Empire. There were also hints of Sabine being force sensitive in the episode. The Bendu made a brief appearance and knowing glance at Sabine. I’m hoping she isn’t force sensitive, but there does seem to be more people in Star Wars who could be “force aware”. For example, Chirrut Imwe from Rogue One, or Jyn Erso’s mom from Catalyst. They are aware of the force and can feel it, but not necessarily control it. Sabine could help confirm this type of individual in the Star Wars Universe.

Comment and let me know what you thought about Sabine and the character arc in this episode. Did you find any major problems with it? 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Will Professor Xavier Die (Again) in Logan?

The final trailer for the upcoming third Wolverine film starring Hugh Jackman, Logan, dropped and it looks simply fantastic. The film looks to change gears from a normal superhero story and give the audience something different. 

The film looks great, but will it give the audience a proper send off for a beloved character, Professor X, and the actor who first portrayed him in Patrick Stewart? I can't think of anyone who was happy with the way he was killed off in X-Men 3, and bringing him back for Days of Future Past opened up the possibility for him to be shown in this film. I think he will most certainly die at some point during this film, and the way different scenes are framed in the the first two trailers lead me to this belief. 

There are a few scenes without Professor X in the woods, and in the first trailer it looks like Logan is burying something after a fight. My guess would be they try to save Charles and are not able to, which leads to Wolverine and X-23 trying to exact revenge for the rest of the movie. 

Logan is loosely based off the Old Man Logan comic, and while Charles is not alive in that series but bringing him back here allows for proper closure. Patrick Stewart deserves this for how fantastically he portrayed the character in the first two X-Men films. He was still good in the third, even though it was horribly done. I think at some point both Charles and Logan will die in the film and  X-23 will take over the mantle of Wolverine. Though the filmmakers could be making it look like both characters will die from what we have seen, and not follow through, but from the tone they are setting I doubt this. 

Logan is one of my most anticipated films for 2017 and each trailer has gotten me more excited for the film, like any good trailer should.  This will probably be the last time Patrick Stewart plays the role, and possibly Hugh Jackman as well (He's going to be in Deadpool 2, come one we all know it). Each character and actor should get a proper death for how they have carried the torch for the characters over the past seventeen years. 

Do you think Professor X will be killed off? What about Jackman's Wolverine? Comment and let me know. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wind River Premieres at Sundance

Taylor Sheridan who is the writer of two of the best films to come out in the past two years, Sicario and Hell or High Water, makes his directorial debut with another neo-Western in Wind River.

The film is going to be playing at the Sundance Film Festival and if I had the ability to go to the festival this would be the one film I would have to see. Sicario and Hell or High Water are both two of my favorite films to come out over the past two years, and seeing a third written and now directed by Sheridan has me intrigued.

The film is set on a remote Indian Reservation, Wind River and an FBI agent played by Elizabeth Olsen is sent to investigate. Jeremy Renner also stars in the murder thriller. After how fantastic the characters and story were for Sheridan's other two films this one sounds fantastic as well. Sheridan seems to know how to write a story, lets hope he can direct as well.

The Weinstein Group had bought distribution rights to the film last year, but they recently backed out of the deal and the film is up for sale at Sundance. This gives me a slight pause because of the Weinstein's eye for good indie movies, and because Sheridan is a first time director. However Harvey Weinstein is rumored to be hard to work with, so a deal may have just fallen through.  If you read between the lines of a report from THR, this may have been the case.

I'm looking forward to finding out what people think of the film at Sundance. I'll be closely watching for reviews of people I trust who go and see the film. If the film is good I want buzz to start early and often to propel Sheridan's film into the forefront.

Let me know if you are excited about Taylor Sheridan's directorial debut, or if there is another film at Sundance you have your eye one.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hidden Figures – Movie Review: More Please

Uplifting, heroic, and historically fascinating.
Hidden Figures, starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, and directed by Theodore Melfi. The film, based on true life events, tells the story of three African American women working at NASA in the midst of space race along with the civil rights movement. The main character played by Henson, Katherine Johnson, is a mathematical genius who struggles to prove herself to all of the male white mathematicians. Her job was working on the trajectories and re-entries for the NASA rockets and ships. The other women are also trail blazers at NASA. Spencer’s character Dorothy Vaughn was the first African American supervisor at NASA, and Monae’s, Mary Jackson was the first African American Engineer. These types of stories should be told. It’s fantastic that a light was shone on how these women helped propel our country towards space and desegregation.

I’m a sucker for stories about NASA and the space race, and after seeing the first trailer for the film I knew it would be a movie to watch. Hidden Figures is very much an uplifting heartfelt story about how these women overcame challenges and persevered. The filmmakers play up some of what Katherine Johnson went through for dramatic effect according to an interview she gave, but even if they did it’s not a stretch to think other women in the country experienced similar or worse things. What they didn’t play up is the job she and the other women did. Katherine Johnson mapped John Glenn’s trajectory and he truly didn’t want to fly until Johnson rechecked the IBM computer’s numbers. Mary Jackson had to petition to attend an all-white school to become an engineer. This is done extremely well in the film, and showcases some great moments. Octavia Spencer is fantastic in everything she does and it’s no different in her role as playing Dorothy Vaughn. She has some truly steal showing scenes with the struggle her character went through for the film and what she accomplished to become the first African American supervisor at NASA.

The overall uplifting tone of the film doesn’t shy away from the issue of segregation at the time. It is really crazy to think just over fifty years ago what many in south had to go through because of Jim Crow laws. The film provides a stark juxtaposition for them to be working on uplifting the county with their work at NASA and then to leave the facility and be treated as second class citizens. I enjoyed Melfi’s approach to the film and the tone he set for the movie. He focused more on these women and what they accomplished. He could have focused more on the struggles for them and those around them during the time for a very different tone. This wouldn’t have been wrong, but I think the tone he set for the film is one which fits this story. People can walk out of the theater thinking they can accomplish anything if they set their mind to it, and this is always a good feeling when leaving a film.

The only slight negative I have for the film is the adding in the home relationships of the women. They should be included and shown, but for the film they seemed shoehorned in and they upset the pace of the movie. Showing Katherine Johnson being courted and getting married to her second husband is a story the film didn’t need. Ali is great as the future husband, but I think they should have already had them married for the overall pace of the movie. Showing the women with their family was a great way to highlight how the characters had to fight a two front battle by being both African American and women. This should be shown. I just wish it didn’t feel so forced into the movie, and I think cutting out some of the dating scenes with Johnson would have helped this aspect.

Hidden Figures overall is a good solid film, and it’s something I could watch again. This film is one which is very much Worth Seeing. If you have any interest in history or the Space Race it will be enjoyable, but even without this the story is still engaging enough to be enjoyable for all. Go out and see this one, so more films like this can be made. These are the type of historical stories which should be told and discovered. There are more out there, they just need to be found.

Let me know what you think of Hidden Figures if you have seen it, if not are you planning on seeing it in the theaters. Comment and let me know.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Star Wars Rebels S3E13 Warhead Recap/Review (Spoilers!) – Connections Matter

The thirteenth episode of Star Wars Rebels, Warhead, for the third season did everything right for an episode stuck in the middle of a season. The connective tissue Warhead setup for the second half of the season is everything missing from the first half. This is exactly the type of episode, with the connection to Grand Admiral Thrawn, which keep the overall narrative for the show moving forward at a good pace. Warhead is a fun light hearted episode with Zeb, Chopper, and AP-5, but one which still advances a major overall story thread.

At the start of the episode Zeb is left in charge of the Rebel base as Hera and the rest of the squad go off for training. The Empire has sent out Infiltrator droids to look for the Rebels, and one lands on the world Phoenix squadron occupies. The start of Warhead is perfect with its usage of the same music at the start of Empire Strikes Back. There are a few similarities to the start of Empire in Warhead. The first is the sending out of the droids along with the music, but then Kallus’s reaction to one not reporting in is almost identical to Admiral Ozzel’s. Kallus says there are so many deployed they shouldn’t worry about one not reporting in until the next day. This is another instance in the episode which should be called back to in the future. Thrawn will be able to puzzle out that Kallus didn’t immediately investigate the disappearance of the droid and wonder why. Even though Zeb in the end was able to keep the base hidden, Thrawn knows he can narrow down where the Rebel base is by looking into the worlds the droids were sent to. This is a great through line to have for the second half of the season. The Empire and Thrawn have a plan to look for the base, which will force the Rebels into an eventual showdown with Thrawn.

The main part of the episode with Zeb, Chopper and AP-5 was fun. The Imperial Infiltrator droid was a fantastic callback to original artwork from Ralph Mcquarrie. The action and chase between the droid and Zeb was well done. Zeb’s plan to do damage to the Empire was great, and it was a good finale to see the droid blow up on the Star Destroyer at the end. The only small issue with the episode were AP-5 being annoying with his constant jabs at Zeb which weren’t funny, and the fact Zeb didn’t alert the entire base about the droid. There was no reason not to tell the entire base an Imperial droid was on the loose. It didn’t make sense for Zeb not get more help since if the droid were to get away it would force the Rebellion to evacuate the base. Even though it was Zeb’s fault for bringing the droid back this mistake should not have prevented him for asking for help. I can overlook this small gripe for the episode since the crew usually doesn’t ask for help from the other people at the base. Overall the main part was enjoyable, and a good half hour of entertainment.

The biggest takeaway from the episode is the show moving towards having more of a connected thread for the second part of the season. Thrawn hopefully will have a bigger presence and we will get to see why is such a master tactician. The Rebels should face some losses during the second half of the season, and the show might end on a darker note. The end of the second season wasn’t sunshine and roses either, but the first loss of the crew is one way to end darker. The next few episodes look to focus more on Mandalore.  Trying to bring them into the Rebellion is something which will tie back to the sixth episode of the season, Imperial Supercommandos. The Mandalore story would have worked better all placed together, but bringing it back around for the second part of the season works overall.

The second half of season three is starting to shape up extremely well, and might be the strongest for the series overall. Let’s hope the strong connective thread of Thrawn, and not hunting for supplies, is the prevailing theme for the rest of the season.

Let me know what you thought of the episode. When do you think Kallus will be discovered and will he survive the season? Comment and let me know. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

CHIPs Trailer Thoughts - Another Television Show Remake

I like the current trend of taking old television shows and turning them into self aware comedies. I thought the Jump Street movies were great, and Baywatch looks fantastic. A CHIPS movie should get me excited because it's the same type of film. The cast in the film is fantastic. Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Michael Pena are all great, but this trailer for the film is simply not good. 

There was no point in the trailer which had me laughing. What made the Jump Street films great is that they made fun of the genre and the old show they are portraying. The trailer for CHIPS did not showcase this at all. This worries me, and the film looks like a silly over the top comedy, and not a smart look funny take at the original source material. CHIPS is rich for this such material, so hopefully it just wasn't showcased in the trailer. 

I remember watching CHIPS with my mom when I was young, and still have fond memories of the show. It's not something which was clamoring to be made into a film, but with the current trend it is one which makes sense. I really hope the film is good for all involved. I like all of the cast, and hope it is a good movie. 

What did you think of the trailer, will you go watch the film? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ABC, Lucasfilm, Television Shows & Bad Headlines

Yesterday Entertainment Weekly ran an interview with the president of ABC entertainment, Channing Dungey, to discuss the new year and what is in store for the network. One of the questions asked was about the possibility of a Star Wars show. Dungey had mentioned last fall there had been talks about one between the two divisions of Disney.

Dungey in the interview with EW cooled off any possibility of a live action show coming to ABC in the near future. She said the comments she made at TCA in the fall of last year got blown out of proportion. While ABC and Lucasfilm have talked and ABC would still like a show (duh), nothing is in the works.

It was with great surprise when I saw today articles from IGN and a few other websites stating a project between Lucasfilm and ABC was still in the works. I clicked on the IGN article and found it linking back to the EW article from yesterday. This was greatly misconstruing the facts from the EW article. There is no show in development and while they have talked, and who wouldn't, nothing is on the horizon.

The article from IGN is clickbait pure and simple, and good on them for getting me to click, but I'm now less likely to click on their articles. I used to frequent IGN on a daily basis, but now rarely visit them due to more and more articles like this.

ABC would of course love to put a live action Star Wars show on their network, but Dungey smartly tried to put any fires out she started last fall with her interview. IGN instead stoked the flames, and in my opinion this is faulty journalism. Yes it's entertainment journalism, but stories like this are misleading  I understand needing to drive people to the site, but in the end this type of article turns people away.

Let me know what you think about a Star Wars live action show and what network it should be on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What Will The Star Wars Episode 8 Crawl Text Say?

Rian Johnson, director and writer of Episode 8, has been talking about the Star Wars film set to release in December of 2017.  He has confirmed information in an interview with USA Today that the film will begin directly after the events of Episode 7 The Force Awakens, and show the next moments between Rey and Luke. This begs the question as to what the crawl text for the film will tell the audience

Every other Star Wars film has jumped several years forward, and the crawl has explained what has been going with the heroes in the universe. This will be the first time a film has started directly after the end of the previous movie. Everyone who has seen The Force Awakens will know what has been happening, and there isn't much need for the crawl.

My first thoughts for what the crawl would say is that it would tell the audience what is happening in the rest of the galaxy other than with Luke and Rey. It would explain the fallout from the destruction of Hosnian Prime and the government and what that meant for the stability in the galaxy.  Also a tidbit about the funeral of Han Solo and what was going on with the First Order.  This is probably what the crawl will end up doing, but I hope it might explain what Luke has been doing for the past thirty years.

The crawl could solely focus on Luke. It could touch on him training and establishing a new Jedi and how Ben turned. It could explain what he went in search for, and why he is on the remote world Rey finds him on. It might also explain why he left a bread trail to his location for some to find.  This probably won't be the case, but it would be a great justification for having the crawl. It would provide needed information for the audience since no new canon media has touched on Luke after the events of Return of Jedi other than the four issue comic Shattered Empire.  The lack of information on Luke makes me hope this could be the case. It probably won't, but I can hope.

Let me know what you think the crawl text will be about for Episode 8.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Early 90's Television Movies - A New Genre of Spoof Comedy?

A new trailer for Baywatch dropped and it showcases how over the top the 2017 summer comedy looks to be. Both Baywatch trailers have highlighted how the film looks to poke fun at the original source material of the early 90's television show. The Jump Street films did the same thing in their movies by taking a silly concept of a show and mining it for comedy gold. Could this be a new genre of spoof comedies?

Rebooting old shows and turning them into films isn't a new concept. Even in the 80's or 90's you had the same type of idea with the Brady Bunch, Beverly Hillbillies or Dragnet, but it seems with the blueprint from 21 and 22 Jump Street Baywatch looks to cement the idea of turning an older campy silly show into a modern comedy. Baywatch could be horrible and not pay off, but if it does there will be a run on older 80's shows optioned for studio production (I want an Alf and Small Wonder Movie).

There should be a genre to fill the void of crappy spoof movies which have come out over the past decade. During the 70's, 80's and 90's spoof movies of genres were well done and actually had smart jokes written within them. Airplane is a standard many live up too, but so are any Mel Brooks movies. The Scary Movie films along with all of the different types they spawned are shameless money grabs. Maybe remakes of televisions shows would be the same eventually, but the Jump Street films had thought behind them, and Baywatch looks to have some as well.

The trend of these films will follow if there is success. The Rock seemed to personally want to get Baywatch off the ground. If it makes money, which I'm sure it will, then there will likely be a sequel and many other studios will follow suit with similar movies. The problem with this is the films would then be cash grabs instead of having thought and passion behind them. It's an endless cycle, but maybe we can get a few more good ones before they all start to become mindless.

Let me know if you have a favorite campy television show which could make a good comedy film.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Monster Calls – Movie Review: Sadly Satisfying

Life it seems, is never as easy as we hope.

A Monster Calls starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, Toby Kebbell, and directed by J. A. Bayona.  Who will also be directing the upcoming sequel to Jurassic World. A Monster Calls is a story about a young man or older boy, Conner, who is trying to cope with his dying mother played by Felicity Jones. This tragedy causes him to call on a fictitious monster who comes to tell him three stories. Conner wants the Monster to save his mother, but in the end that isn’t what the Monster is sent to help Conner with. The film is sad, but shows how the power of story, art, and imagination can help you cope with loss. Anyone who has dealt with death and specifically of someone who was taken too soon will connect with this movie.

The performances are all great. Lewis MacDougall stands out as the child actor who holds the screen the vast majority of the film. His performance is understated, but it has the reactions you would expect out of a twelve-year-old. Having a boy this exact age I very much saw my son in how he reacted to situations. It’s a risk to put so much focus on an unproven talent to carry a film, but MacDougall does a great job and hopefully will get looked at for more roles in the future. I was expecting more screen time from Felicity Jones, and the small amount of screen time isn’t due to what you think. What time she does have on the screen is emotional and impactful, and very well done.  I wonder if this films promotion got pushed down because of her role in Rogue One. It could be why there is minimal buzz on this film coming into awards season. Sigourney Weaver is excellent as the prim and proper Grandma, and has some truly heartfelt moments.

What was strange for me in A Monster Calls is that I connected and related to almost all of the characters. Conner because he was losing his mother and losing her before her time. The Grandma because she was losing a child, and I can only imagine the pain of this loss, and then the Mother because having children and leaving them before they grow is also a fear. The film isn’t a happy look at life, but it is a fantastic take on coping with grief and some deep dark truths loss force us to face. The relatable character’s drive home the main points of the story and through empathy or sympathy you can relate to their loss and what they feeling. The film isn’t one you can watch over and over, but it is a movie I could watch again.

A big reason for possible repeat viewings is Bayona’s direction and the animation of the monster and stories.  Bayona does a great job of shooting from the child’s perspective throughout the course of the movie. We see everything from Conner’s point of view. The camera is always looking up at the adults, and if he isn’t paying attention at school the teacher is muffled and you don’t understand what they are talking about. Bayona does the most to make you feel like you are in Conner’s head, without using any voiceover and he succeeds. The animation of the monster and Liam Neeson’s voice are perfect. I loved the look of the Monster and just how seamlessly he blended into the surroundings of the world. A few times I wondered if they were using CG at all and if it was a practical effect. The stories the monster tells are well animated and I enjoyed the switch to the 2D look during the film to illustrate his tales. The stories are good fables and fit into the narrative of the film and the overall theme of the movie. Watching this film and Bayona’s use of CG and how he told the story have increased my hopes for the sequel to Jurassic World.

The only slight negative I have for the movie is the inclusion of a bully story line and having Conner deal with this along with the loss of his mother. I don’t think this story was needed, and while the Monster played a role in helping him stand up to the bully it just feels tacked. I would have much preferred the story focus more on Conner’s relationship with his father and have the Monster help with this instead of focusing on the bully. Toby Kebbell does a good job as the father, but it seems much of his role might have been cut out for time. Maybe the book the film is based on has more of the Father’s story. This isn’t to say the bully confrontation is poorly done, it just isn’t needed to serve the story overall. 

A Monster Calls is a sad movie, but at the same time it is also deeply satisfying. If you want to handle a movie dealing with loss, then I would say this is Worth Seeing especially if you are a parent. It is at the very least worth watching on rental if you don’t make it out to the theater to see it. The animation of the monster alone is worth checking out, but the story is what holds the movie together. I wish the film would have gotten more of an awards push, because it deserves some more praise. Comment and let me know if you have seen A Monster Calls or if you want to see it, or what your favorite voiceover work down by Liam Neeson is. It’s hard to beat his portrayal as Aslan. Like, share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Star Wars Rebels S3E10 & 11: The Ghosts of Geonosis Parts 1 & 2 (Spoilers!): Good but not Great

The second half of season three for Star Wars Rebels kicked off with episodes ten and eleven, The Ghost of Geonosis Part 1 and Part 2. The two episodes dealt with the crew of the ghost going to the planet of Geonosis to discover what happened to the Rebel Saw Gerrera and his crew. Gerrera’s team was sent to Geonosis to see if they could discover what the Empire did to the Geonosians. When the Alliance lost contact with Saw they sent in the Ghost. This is a story I thought the show would build up to during the first part of the season. I was thinking the crew of the Ghost would help the Rebellion discover the existence of the Death Star or indication the Empire was up to something. These episodes were more of a character study on Saw, his extremities, and how the crew of the Ghost reacted to him.

These were enjoyable episodes, but something just seemed to be missing overall. Saw is an interesting character, and I’m glad we got more time with him in Rebels, but his appearance would have had more effect if these episodes were delivered before Rogue One.  There was nothing in this episode which gave away information to the plot of Rogue One, and it would have been great development for people who watch Rebels to see Saw and his actions before the film. We see how extreme he can be with his interactions with the Geonosian, and how he tries to torture him for information for the good of the Rebellion. The entire crew of the Ghost pushes back and allow the Geonosian to go his own way. This is actually a good easter egg for people who read the Darth Vader comic, because the queen egg the solider saves is probably the one Darth Vader encounters during the comic.  This character development for Saw was great, but it just wasn’t as impactful as I wanted for the episode or series overall.

The episodes were almost trying too hard to connect The Clone Wars and the Prequels to the current era. The emotional resonance just wasn’t there when Saw looked at his sister. Maybe it was the voice acting by Forrest Whitaker that was a turn off, but something didn’t click. The quip about sand was funny and I liked how they are poking fun at themselves. I didn’t hate these episodes, and still found them enjoyable, but maybe I was expecting more powerful moments. The action was still fantastic and it was great to see Sabine take out the Stormtroopers with her own jump pack. The way the Ghost escapes is also well done, but would have preferred more competent Imperials to up the stakes in the episodes. I did like the Geonosian trying to inform the crew about the Death Star and the crew not understanding the drawing. This was handled well, and it fits extremely well within the framework leading to Rogue One.

The second half of the third season is setup to be fantastic with Thrawn closing in on the crew, and the eventual confrontation with Obi-Wan and Maul. The Sabine storyline with the Mandalorians is also exciting. While this was basically an hour long episode it didn’t propel any major storyline for the crew going forward. Ghost of Geonosis just develops a character who we see die in Rogue One. The placement of episodes in the series has really poorly affected the pacing of this show, and having these episodes before Rogue One would have had more impact for both the movie and the show. Having them after the film make the episodes seem like filler instead of connecting to anything overall. These aren’t bad episodes, but maybe the expectations were too high on what they would deliver overall. The emotion wasn’t found in the episode like the season premiere or even the mid-season finale. I’m still excited for the second half of the season, but this was a small misstep to start off. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Year in Star Wars Canon - 2016 (No Spoilers)

The new canon for the Star Wars universe keeps expanding, and it can be a little daunting for any Star Wars fan to keep track of. The last three years have provided some great new additions to the mythology of Star Wars. Everything hasn’t hit the mark, but enough material has been good or great to keep me coming back for more. 2016 saw a plethora of new material in all forms released and I wanted to do a rundown of everything to come out in the year. I’m going to try and touch on any new material released in the year, but will be omitting any retellings of previous canon material. For example, I’m not going to mention the comic for The Force Awakens which was released in 2016. This being said everything else is fair game, even if I haven’t read or watched it. I pulled my information from Wookieepedia and tried to cross-reference the material on other sites, but it had the most extensive list 

Click the video above to see all of the Star Wars Canon which came out in 2016. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Woody Harrelson frontrunner for Mentor Role in Han Solo Star Wars Movie

Variety had the scoop of the day with news that Woody Harrelson is in early talks to star in the Han Solo Star Wars Story film set to be released in May 2018. The story states Harrelson's character would be a mentor to the young Han Solo played by Alden Ehrenreich.  This news leads me to speculate what type of mentor Harrelson character will be, and what role he will play in the story. 

My first gut instinct in hearing Han Solo has a mentor, is why? Wasn't the cool smuggler born with the inherent self confidence and charm we see as he comes onto the screen in Star Wars Episode Four A New Hope? I do think we will still see the brash smooth talker, but contrasted with a mentor who is an old grizzled smuggler who is tries urge caution to a young Han. 

I envision a character who knows how to get by in the universe. A grinder who has a ship and plays it safe. He likes the brash Han and lets him and his Wookie friend work on his crew.  This or Han in a brash attempt frees a Chewbacca while working with the mentor character. Han for his part might resent the safe nature the mentor character always takes, and thinks he should take more chances to make money faster. An example would be Harrelson's character cautions Han on taking jobs with Hutts, but in the end Han doesn't listen. 

Harrelson is a fantastic actor and I can see him playing a smuggler or even just a normal freighter pilot who keeps his head down to get by. He likes the brash kid, but also wants to direct him down a safe path. Maybe this won't be the case, and the mentor will be like Hondo in Guardians of the Galaxy and direct Han down a more dangerous dubious path. Woody has definitely played these types of characters before, but I'm hoping for a more subdued role from him in Star Wars. 

This of course is all very early, and maybe Woody Harrelson won't even get the role. Adding talent to a project is never a bad thing, and the cast for the young Han Solo film is shaping up with some amazing talent. 

Comment and let me know what type of mentor you want Woody to play in the Han Solo movie. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

La La Land – Movie Review: Magically Grounded

A movie which pays tribute to old school Hollywood musicals but still tells a modern story, or maybe the story is timeless as well.

La La Land starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and directed by Damien Chazelle who also directed the fantastic film Whiplash. La La Land is a  musical set in Los Angeles and is centered around a struggling actress, Mia played by Stone, and musician, Sebastian played by Gosling.  It’s a film about going after your dreams and all of the sacrifices and doubt which go along in pursuing them. The film is at the same time extremely magical and lighthearted but also grounded and realistic. La La Land is simply a great film which pays tribute to classic Hollywood while telling a compelling story.

First I’ll start with Damien Chazelle and how he shot the movie. I usually don’t notice shot selection or how scenes are framed in films, but it stands out in La La Land in a good way. Most if not all of the musical numbers seem to be shot in one take and it makes the sequences feel smooth and for lack of a better word, joyful. The colors and costumes Chazelle used also pop off the screen. The dance number with the three girls is just bright. Loving detail was put into every single frame of this film and it shows in how well executed everything comes across. I don’t think any filmmaker does any less while making a movie, but in La La Land the effort paid off to perfection. The entire movie is a joy to watch and this lands squarely at the feet of Chazelle in how he wrote and directed the movie.

Adding to the amazing direction are the performances by Stone and Gosling. Their chemistry is fantastic and they seem to always work extremely well together. Gosling is believable as the struggling Jazz musician who is passionate about the music’s history. I’m going to guess music has played a big role in Chazelle’s life with his films revolving around music in one form or another. The passion Gosling’s character Sebastian has for jazz jumps off the screen. You want to learn more about the music and its history after leaving the movie. Sebastian is so earnest in his passion you want him to realize his dream. Stone’s character Mia is the same, and you feel discouraged for her as she delivers some great lines and isn’t paid attention too in numerous auditions. Her character is relatable with how hard she works, and yet still can’t quite find success. The doubt she goes through about pursuing her dream is something every person faces to some degree and Stone does a remarkable job in portraying this part of the story. I wouldn’t doubt if she wins best actress for her performance in this role. She is simply stunning in every aspect.

I don’t have any big negatives for the movie. The only minor complaint is that the film might, and I stress might, have gone on for about five minutes too long. However I could have stayed and watched both of the characters for another thirty minutes. I would have happily watched another song and dance number between both of them. I can see those who might think the film should have ended at one point instead of going on, but I loved the ending and how the story played out. The film is perfectly paced and there isn’t a misused part of the story. The only reason I say it might have gone on for five minutes too long is the last little bit may have been a tad drawn out.  There really isn’t much wrong with La La Land, and I could watch it multiple times.

Since I’ve gone on and on about La La Land this one is Worth Seeing. I think just about anyone can enjoy this movie, even though it is a musical. If you are a person who doesn’t like musicals I would have you give this one a chance. There is enough story in between the musical numbers to be engaging. The musical numbers are just a big joyous plus. I loved La La Land and will look forward to watching it again. Until then I’ll just listen to its Soundtrack.

Comment and let me know what you thought of La La Land if you have seen it. If you haven’t would you be willing to give a modern musical a chance? Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff.