Monday, April 26, 2021
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Friday, April 23, 2021
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU ARE WARNED NOW!!!!!!
Captain America comics are generally more serious toned. They can be a celebration of American ideals or they can be critique of them, depending who is writing the story and what the story is about. Back in 2011, it was tough to tell where the Captain America film franchise would go. I love that they remained comic book accurate and told his story at the beginning of World War II. But I couldn't tell if his movies would be based on real history or a happier, lighter history that Hollywood would make up. When Disney bought Marvel in 2009, one could have guessed where the Captain America movies were headed.
I shouldn't have worried. But I wouldn't have guessed in 2011 that the Captain America movies would be my favorite trilogy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. I think superhero movies, by and large, are fun. There aren't too many I'd call great simply because of the limitations of the genre, everything has come down to those putting their costumes on and fighting each other. I am not trying to say fun is bad. There's plenty of movies I like a lot and watch vigorously simply because they're fun. I plan to write about why fun isn't bad in my next article. The superhero movies I consider great are those that illuminate something, or don't depend so much on the superhero formula. I always felt that the Captain America films did that.
I also happen to be a sucker for political thrillers, which is why the trilogy appealed to me so much. I am glad that the tradition is kept in "The Falcon and The Winter Solider."
The TV show formula for Marvel on Disney+ has been good so far. "WandaVision" was lots of fun, and I loved that it went in a delightfully weird direction. The thing that keeps "WandaVision" as fun and not great in my mind is that dependence on formula though. It was a great story about how we handle grief that a superpowered threat really wasn't needed. But that wouldn't fly apparently in a Marvel show. It didn't derail the show at all. "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" suffers from wanting to tackle too much in only six hours. Systematic racism, survivor's remorse, how the world changes and the political and social repercussions of those changes...those are all interesting ideas to tackle in a superhero show. Now take those ideas and add backstory's to its lead characters, introduce new characters, explain said new characters...before you know it, you've got lots on your plate.
For example, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) befriends an elderly man, and what the elderly man doesn't know is Bucky killed his son as collateral damage during a mission as the Winter Soldier. He wants forgiveness, but he's still in turmoil over his past. This subplot is given lots of attention in the first episode, get ignored for the next four episodes, then is conveniently concluded with the snap of the fingers in the series finale. Simply because there is so much going on in the rest of the show.
The bulk of the story comes from Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) coming to terms with what happened to Steve and if he's really ready to take up his mantle. Also, when The Avengers gathered the Infinity Stones and reversed Thanos' snap, it brought everyone back to life. This has caused some radical economic and societal changes throughout the world (Because of course it did), which has rubbed many the wrong way. This has paved the way for a terrorist group called The Flag Smashers to emerge, who want to create a world without countries and borders and boundaries. This leads to America to create a brand new Captain America in the form of John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the thing is, nobody can really do Steve Rogers like Steve Rogers. Well, Sam certainly can, whether he realizes it or not, which is why Rogers picked him as his replacement. But Falcon and Bucky go on an adventure of their own to reason with The Flag Smashers.
Sam really is a great replacement for Steve Rogers. There is a great line early the show by Zemo of all people. Daniel Bruhl returns to the MCU as Zemo when Bucky decides they will need his expertise in Sokovia looking for the Flag Smashers. Zemo says there was nobody else like Steve Rogers, and its true. Its why he was able to lift Thor's hammer. Rogers' superpowers didn't come from the super soldier serum. He already had superpowers before, he was a perfect moral compass. He always has the right thing to say, always the moral high ground, always knows what's right. All of that simply got amplified with the serum. Sam slowly begins to become that same man in this show, and he doesn't have the serum to amplify his good deeds. He may have a goofy looking suit by the end of the series, but hey every hero in the MCU gets some upgrades sooner or later. So will Sam.
Sam and Bucky's journey's to being better men could have been a lot for one series. But they pack in lots in these six hours. Erin Kellyman plays Karli Morgenthau, the leader of the Flag Smashers, and it seems like her motives are all over the place and change like the wind. John Walker slowly becomes an unhinged version of Captain America, a representation of what we look like at our absolute worst, but his character goes through some radical character changes in a short time. It is also told that Karli has some sort of pact with a shadowy figure known as The Power Broker. The Power Broker in the finale is revealed to be Sharon Carter. Yep, that nice girl who looked out for Steve Rogers in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and stood up against HYDRA and aided Steve in "Captain America: Civil War." Yep, that girl. If you thought the sudden reversal of Daenarys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones" was bad, just wait until you see how they treat Sharon. Sure, some lip service is paid to how she was treated as a traitor in the time after her appearance in "Civil War" but there should have been much more development of her character to make us believe she had suddenly turned heel.
While it feels like "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" bulldozes along, it's still a ton of fun. The action in the whole series is outstanding. Introducing cool characters like Battlestar and Isiah Bradley was great, and how they represent metaphors for American history only added to the enjoyment. Probably the most shocking reveal was Julia Louis-Dreyfus appearing as Contessa Valentina de Fontaine. Valentina is an on-again/off-again hero in the comics, and once dated Nick Fury. Marvel has a knack for digging up obscure characters and breathing great life into them, and that certainly happens here. And man, Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing the character makes it all better. The show is action packed, filled to the brim with kinetic energy. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan make a great team, and how their characters grow through the series is marvelous. There is a discussion in the fifth episode between Bucky and Sam which is one of the highlights of the entire MCU so far. A discussion where Bucky didn't quite understand what it would mean if the world had a black Captain America, and Bucky ends up apologizing to Sam. Anybody who doesn't understand what it means when black Americans accuse White Americans of having privilege should owe it to themselves to watch this series precisely for that episode. There is quite a bit that Marvel is trying to illuminate here, and black American history is not the same as white American history which made this series particularly compelling.
There was lots to like and even love about "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier." I am thinking that this might actually be a series. Marvel has made it clear that "WandaVision" is a miniseries, and it feels like one while watching it. I feel "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier" was designed to be a TV series, which is why maybe not all the knots get tied by the end. There is certainly room to expand upon quite a bit and seemed like Marvel was shamelessly leaving us on the hook by the end here. Or perhaps it will lead into the fourth Captain America movie they just announced today. Could be anything and it will be fun to speculate.
"The Falcon and The Winter Solider" was good. I liked it a lot. I just wished it would have slowed down just a little bit at times.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Day after day this week, we have been getting some exciting news from Marvel. They may have been out of the game for a year (as many studios were) in 2020 due to a pandemic. But they seem to be hitting the ground running in 2021 to make up for lost time. "WandaVision" ended up being a big hit on Disney+ this year, and it seems fans are enjoying "Falcon and The Winter Soldier" as well, which will conclude Friday. We've still got "Black Widow" and "Loki" hitting Disney+ later this year. And hopefully, things will be back to somewhat normalcy and we can really enjoy "Shang Chi" and "The Eternals" in theaters!
Speaking of "Shang Chi," here's a look at that amazing looking trailer!
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Have you ever been in love? Have you been married? Have you been married a long time or a short time? Is it everything our entertainment and our culture promised you? If the answer to the last question I asked is yes, then can you please explain how you got that to happen? Life isn't always rainbows and gumdrops, and relationships are the exact same way. We are constantly pushed in relationships, there is give-and-take and there is compromise. It's really the only way to make it work. All of that with trust.
"Happily" is about a couple you could only find in the movies. It stars Kerry Bishe and Joel McHale playing a couple whom seemingly hit it off at first sight. They have been married for 14 years and they still treat their relationship like they are in the beginning of the honeymoon stage and their a couple of teenagers. They never fight, they are always sweet to each other and their sex life is through the roof constantly. Their couples friends are so jealous to the point that their friends don't feel like they can honestly hang out with them any longer. How can you honestly make it work?
Kerry Bishe and Joel McHale are two actors I love unabashedly. I love just about everything Joel McHale has done so far. Whether in movies or his television performances, I think he really is one of the most unappreciated actors of his generation, he spins gold every time he steps in front of a camera, and his work here is just as good as he's ever been. Kerry Bishe is an actress you definitely recognize. Whether through "Red State" or "Argo," she's got one of those faces. She's also pretty unappreciated and she proves here just how much of a delight she can be in a leading role.
Bishe plays Janet and McHale plays Tom and like I said above, they have the seemingly perfect marriage. Then one day a weird, and I mean weird guy (Stephen Root) comes to visit them. This guy talks about some kind of error in their relationship and how they must take these two injections to make them normal again. He's concerned with their perfect marriage. He won't allow them to leave their home and claims calling the cops won't help anything and he could very well have superpowers. Janet and Tom are spooked to say the least, and Janet ends up killing the guy. They hide the body.
Janet and Tom are then invited by their friends, those who couldn't stand hanging out with them any longer, at a couples trip at a nice AirBnB for the weekend. They decide to do so to look normal, and they get the suspicion that one of their friends is pranking them. They want to find out if this was an elaborate prank or if something weird is truly going on. Each of their friends has a reason to mess with them, but they could be in serious trouble. So they must behave normal.
I wish I could keep explaining this film, but if you are going to enjoy for yourself, the explanation stops there. "Happily" is full of fun twists and turns. It has some real things to say about trust in relationships and how hard they can be. It's about how even the best relationships are tested when you're out in the real world and sometimes it feels like the world is working to test that relationship. The film co-stars Natalie Zea, Natalie Morales, Charlyne Yi, Breckin Meyer, Jon Daly and Paul Scheer, all of whom provide great supporting work.
The movie is left ambiguous. Not everybody is going to enjoy that everything gets tied into a nice bow. The film also kind of devolves into something that involves the who cast, so its weird that there is so much on Janet and Tom's characters and I think the ending would have landed better if the whole cast had some sort of focus. But this is the first film by BenDavid Grabinski, and its a very strong debut. I am looking forward to seeing what he has under his sleeve.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Monday, April 12, 2021
Monday, April 5, 2021
Saturday, April 3, 2021
The first trailer for the new "Space Jam: A New Legacy" is here, and much as I expected, its ridiculous.
Not because we have Lebron James as the lead. It doesn't seem to me that Lebron James has the same national love that Jordan did in the 90's, but I've also heard many basketball fanatics compare James' legacy to Jordan's. I don't watch nearly enough NBA anymore to give a valid opinion. It doesn't matter who they picked. Back in the 90's, Warner Brothers had all sorts of ideas for a sequel that included different sports. They thought about a skating sequel with Tony Hawk, a golf movie with Tiger Woods and a driving movie with Jeff Gordon. Even a movie that didn't have a sports star but featured Jackie Chan. All sorts of ideas were thrown around before landing back on the basketball roots. I don't mind that Lebron is the basketball star they picked.
What makes me laugh about this trailer is, as I watching it, I thought to myself, "This is Ready Player Two." Lebron James gets sucked into this techno sphere thingy, and he starts falling through digital space and we see all these themed planets. That's exactly how Ernest Cline described the OASIS in his book and that's how Steven Speilberg shot his movie back in 2018. The "SeverVerse" looks like the OASIS by design. Since Warner Brothers made "Space Jam" and "Ready Player One" they are using the same intellectual property, that's why you see King Kong and Iron Giant running to get a good seat for the inveitable game.
For some reason, between "Ready Player One" and between their "LEGO Movie" franchise, Warner Brothers makes this movie every couple years. For some reason, Warner Brothers LOVES showing off all the intellectual property they own. It's like they constantly have to say "Hey, look what we own here! Now go buy a subscription to HBOMax!"
Look I get it. They wanted to do something different for their sequel. I like that. I get that. Too many sequels tread water, even today. So a different direction is welcoming. But it still feels like a need to show off what the studio owns and since they've done that a lot lately, is it really original?
But alas, we will see Lebron and the Looney Tunes play basketball in the ServerVerse, and such guests as the Droogs, The War Boys, Space Ghost, Penguin, Iron Giant, King Kong, The Flintstones, Jack Nicholson's Joker and Joaquin Phoenix's Joker will be in attendance for the big game.