Monday, April 26, 2021

Review: "Mortal Kombat" isn't a flawless victory, but its fun

I have never been a big gamer, but one franchise that I have undeniably been a fan of is the Mortal Kombat franchise. I like unleashing holy (and I guess, sometimes, unholy) Hell on a worthless, pitiful avatar. I love throw ice blasts and fire blasts and shadow kicks. But its more than that. The gaming franchise has a great collection of characters, unique moves, storytelling. It's a fun game, but not something to be taken seriously.

Growing up, I definitely liked the movies. I was pretty young when they came out. I was so excited just to see characters I've grown to love on the screen in live action. As I have grown older, I am not so sure the 90's movies have aged well. I think the first film was 1995 can be dumb fun, I think its sequel in 1997 is just dumb. The production looks cheap in both movies, the performances range from decent to outright awful in both movies. In both movies, it seems actors were definitely hired, but no fight choreographers or stunt doubles and watching the fight scenes in both movies is kind of awkward today. Especially when you can really see how its done by today's standards.

I can have fun with at least the first film in the original franchise because of that fun factor. Sometimes I can turn my brain off and enjoy something that is silly. I don't think you should expect something Oscar worthy from a movie like "Mortal Kombat." In fact, I would find it puzzling if that was what an audience would be hoping for. We all go to the movies and watch them for different reasons. Some people only like the blockbusters and the mindless crazy. Others only like the more sophisticated, abstract films. Some seemingly hate everything they watch and try to look cool by recommending something obscure. Several tend to think that all films should be judged by the exact same standards, and that just baffles me completely. Every type of movie is trying to speak to a certain type of audience, and I feel we forget that sometimes.

"Mortal Kombat" from 2021, the new film hoping to start a new franchise, is a very silly film. It is clearly trying to cater to the fans, but at the same time, its trying to convert new fans. It's a perfectly fine movie. I wouldn't call it horrible and I also wouldn't call it a masterpiece. It is perfectly fine. The Mortal Kombat fan in me enjoyed some of the things he saw, and has some glaring gripes with other things he saw. The ordinary movie fan in me enjoyed some of the things he saw, and has some glaring gripes with other things he saw. If you want to turn your mind off for two hours, I hope you enjoy it. This is mindless fluff, and if you want a movie of people beating each other up with abandon. This film is definitely for you.

The special effects in this film are better than they were in the 90's, which is good, I was expecting those this new movie to look better simply for being made in 2021. The costumes look much better in this film. Still, you can kind of tell there was somewhat of a budget crunch in some places. Some of the arenas where the fighting takes place look a little cheap. But this didn't derail the film for me, it comes off more as a nitpick for me. The thing that should really shine in a "Mortal Kombat" movie is the fights. The fights are pretty cool. They definitely locked in some fatalities from the video games, and those are fun to watch. But compared to recent fighting movies like "The Raid" films from Indonesia, I can't say the fight scenes in "Mortal Kombat" wowed me in any significant way.

Hiroyuki Sanada plays Scorpion, one of the most popular characters in all of video games. Sanada happens to be my favorite Japanese actor so I was looking forward to seeing him here. Sadly, Scorpion doesn't show up very much in this film. He's got a great opening scene and then he shows up to kick some ass at the end. That's...pretty much it. I am also a big fan of Chin Han, an actor you know whether you realize it or not. He had an acting career in China, but in 2008 he seemingly exploded after a supporting credit in "The Dark Knight." He's a guy you've definitely seen somewhere since. He's fine. Most of the actors are fine. It's tough to really judge their performances because the script is so goddamn ordinary. Characters explain things to each other, each scene is one exposition dump after another. Nobody really has any personality. That is excluding Josh Lawson; who plays Kano and Damon Herriman who voices (yes voices) Kabal. Kano and Kabal were the only characters awarded with any personality, and Lawson in particular does what he can to make his time shine. Everyone else just explains things, and explains what happens around them. Nobody really talks like an actual human being in this movie.

Kabal is a hoot. Seriously, they made him surprisingly funny.

The weirdest decisions come from the inclusion of Cole Young and the absence of a fighting tournament. Lewis Tan plays Cole, a completely original character. He's the main character and I found a bit offensive as a Mortal Kombat fan that Lui Kang was sidelined as a character to make room for this new lead that I don't care about. They don't make Cole very interesting and given that the Mortal Kombat franchise is rich with characters already, why include a dull original? The story is kind of the same the games. The evil Outworlders are looking to conquer Earthrealm and they have to win ten fighting tournaments before the Elder Gods will allow them to do so. Shang Tsung, played by Chin Han, decides to cheat after the ninth tournament, and just have his fighters hunt down the Earthrealm fighters (who conveniently have marks indicating they've been "Chosen") and kill them before the tenth tournament. As a fan of the games, it drove me nuts that an explanation for how or why the Elder Gods would allow cheating is never explained. I get the need to do something new or take the story in a new direction. But Mortal Kombat with no tournament is like Bruce Wayne with no Batman. 

It sounds like I have lots of gripes. But that's what I mean when I said "Mortal Kombat" is no masterpiece. But Josh Lawson is quirky, Kabal is funny, the action scenes are cool enough for the film to work. It's silly, but its supposed to be silly. This is supposed to be about some badass fighters, kicking each other asses and spouting one-liners. There is just enough good here for it to work. But for something so simple, they come this close to dropping the ball. I hope if they get sequels, they really improve on what doesn't work. Give these characters some personality, streamline the fights. This potential franchise has just that...potential. Don't squander it!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

I Actually Didn't Know Tonight Was The Oscar Ceremony

I was talking to my dad today and he mentioned the Oscars ceremony tonight and he asked if I was going to watch tonight. I honestly didn't even know that was happening tonight. By April, all of award ceremonies are done by now. I know the pandemic has moved things around a bunch this year, which is why we are having such a late ceremony this year. Its honestly a little shocking how much I don't care this year.

Actually, its really not. I haven't been looking forward to this ceremony at all. I think its really stupid how 2021 movies are intertwined with 2020 movies. 2020, by itself, was an absolutely great year of films. You've got plenty of choose from. As great as "Judas and The Black Messiah" is, it should be competing next year with other 2021 movies's a 2021 film. If they are going to include "Judas and The Black Messiah" in the running this year, can we call it Best Picture of 2020 plus 4 months? This is something MTV started to do with their Movie Awards and it was just as dumb when they started it.

Its more than that though. I feel I've grown more cynical around awards shows the more I get older. I can't keep pretending like any of this matters. In years past on this site, I used to make predictions and it used to be fun. But those predictions, they were never based upon who I think should win. The reason why I used to do fairly well is because my predictions were based upon how well I think I knew the Academy. If you can willfully predict where the Academy is going to go in a particular category, you can do pretty well predicting Oscar wins. If you base your predictions on who you really think should win and still do well, then head to Hollywood, you belong in the Academy. 

I guess it doesn't matter if they are going to shuffle 2021 films in with 2020 films or add movies from other years. Because the Oscars have never really been a measure of greatness of a full year of movies. I don't think. They may tell themselves that. But The Academy likes to present itself a certain way and the Oscars to me always was a time when Hollywood put on a big show and presented itself the way it wants to present itself. This is what they want to look like. And they put on a show every year. If you read enough movie news, you will read that some movies are made precisely to be "Oscar bait." Filmmakers make movies so that they can run for Oscars. How does that not come off freaking stupid to anyone else?

All the movies that are ever in contention for the Oscars seemingly come out between September through December. That is only four months out of the goddamn year. How can you measure an entire year of greatness based solely on four months? Four months out of twelve months. That's not weird to anyone else? It doesn't help that they are mostly uplifting dramas or movies about a certain social or political issue. Look, I am not trying to say that those movies don't matter. They do. Trying to say something with your art is great to me. Especially when it works. There are plenty of Oscar Bait movies that I love. But to not look at an entire year as a whole and ignore entire genres because they aren't "good enough." It doesn't seem like the proper measure of a year to me.

People went pretty crazy in 2008 when "The Dark Knight" didn't get nominated for Best Picture. I can already guess that The Academy wouldn't allow some superhero movie in on such a prestigious award nomination because the Oscars are above superhero movies. If anybody ever took the time to analyze "The Dark Knight," they would see it as a wonderful allegory of 9/11, investigating how we changed as a world from that terrible day. It's a great morality play. It puts its characters through the ringer. If "The Dark Knight" was just a crime movie, it probably would have been nominated. But lots of people were pretty agitated by "The Dark Knight's" absence. So do you know what the Academy did the next year? Bumped up the Best Picture nominees from five to nine!

Because that's the answer...

I'm sure some year, I'll watch the Oscars again. Maybe. If they are going to start mismatching years up like they did this year, I don't know if I will watch them again. I do hope every year though that they will treat each year with more respect. That they will see value in all genres for all movies that come out over the twelve months of a year. That they stop catering to films made by specific directors simply for the Hell of it. The Academy doesn't need to line with my tastes specifically, because that would be impossible. But there are so many movies out there, so many great ones. My top 1000 that I published over the summer gave you a guide to films of all kinds and genres. There is greatness everywhere and if The Academy starts to recognize it, maybe I'll start watching again.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review



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

What a week we've had with Marvel!

 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!

I don't know too much about the character from Marvel, but I think that trailer kicks a whole lot of butt and Marvel has been doing a stellar job bringing their characters to life in the MCU, so it'll be fun to see moving forward. Strong trailer, I am interested.

So the "Shang Chi" trailer was Monday. On Tuesday, it was announced that Emilia "Danaerys Targaryen" is officially joining Disney+ upcoming "Secret Invasion. She will co-star with Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn, who will reprise their roles as Nick Fury and Talos. Academy Award winner Olivia Colman will also star in the series. No word on who Clark and Colman will be playing. But exciting news for Game of Thrones fans.

Today, we got another trailer. Hulu will be launching an adult stop motion series about the villain MODOK. In the comics, MODOK was a supervillain responsible for creating AIM (which you may remember from Iron Man 3) and this series, it looks like they are going in kind of a "Harley Quinn" type route for adult animated humor. I love it. It stars Patton Oswalt as MODOK, which is fitting since he's writing MODOK comics right now. This series will exist OUTSIDE the MCU, but I am still very much looking forward to it.

What will we find out tomorrow? Nobody knows. But its great to be a Marvel fan right now. I will write up an entire review of "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" sometime this weekend. Can't wait to see the conclusion.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Review: "Happily" is a savagely original experience


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

Review: "Thunder Force" can't quite hang with the other superhero films out there.

For the past decade, we have been completely spoiled with superhero stories. Whether they appear on the big screen or the small screen, superhero storytelling has really taken off. Artists have really tapped into what makes this type of storytelling such a treat to audiences and we have had content that is overwhelming good. Remember, I am not saying that we are flooded with masterpieces, because that's not true either. But the majority of what we get is good. There are so many good examples of superhero stories out there now, whether you like more adult storytelling or something that is more loose and broad. The thing is, with all of these examples, it seems weird to think that someone can make a bad superhero story using television or movies.

"Thunder Force" sadly, is probably the worst superhero movie in a decade. The legit last time I remember hating a superhero movie this bad was "Green Lantern."

I like Melissa McCarthy. I LOVE Octavia Spencer. While Melissa McCarthy's husband Ben Falcone is funny in his starring roles, he hasn't particularly wowed me with his directorial credits. It seems his entire career has amounted to throwing his wife in a goofy premise then rely on "Fatty Fall Down" humor. While I am grateful that there really isn't any fat humor in this movie. It stinks that we have a superhero comedy that neither thrilling or humorous.

McCarthy and Spencer play Lydia Berman and Emily Scanton respectively. Lydia and Emily became best friends quick as young teens and remained friends throughout high school. Emily was the smart bookworm and Lydia was the wild child and they had each other and it was a perfect friendship. Lydia wanted to stay in their hometown and take life as it came to her. Emily wanted to leave her hometown and make something out of herself, which left their friendship and parting of ways. As adults, it's their high school reunion and the world has changed drastically. People with superpowers are everywhere seemingly, and they mostly commit crimes. No superhero in sight. Lydia hasn't seen Emily in years and she decides to visit where she works. Emily has become a profound scientist who has found a way to give superpowers to regular people. She is able to give Lydia superpowers and they both decide to become superheroes called The Thunder Force.

Its definitely an interesting premise for a superhero movie. Its ripe for humor, using the conventions of the superhero genre to make jokes and to parody it. But it seems to me that Ben Falcone has never really picked up a comic book before. His comedy here is so ordinary, going for easy jokes, and it almost feels like its come from a novice writer. Not someone who already has a few screenplays under their belt. There is also no real stakes to anything. Emily has a daughter, their relationship improves. Lydia and Emily get into a fight, and they make up only a few scenes later. The big battle at the end of the movie has no stakes. It's hard to have that thrill of superhero movie without any danger.

Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Bobby Cannavale and Melissa Leo all co-star. Each and every one of them a great actor. They have absolutely nothing to do here. Each and every one of them wasted. It's a real bummer. The special effects are something special, if this were the 90's. The costumes look like they are from a television show, not a movie.

All of this tells me that I'm blown away that a movie this bad, with so many good and even great examples out there, even exists. With all the talent involved, and all the potential. We barely got anything in return.

Monday, April 12, 2021

March Madness: Heroes vs Villains VII Results

Its been a long, hard-fought battle. We have a first. For the first time in seven years of doing March Madness Heroes vs. Villains, a villain has taken the top honors. The results are in and...

That's right, Agatha Harkness of "WandaVision" fame has been crowned champion of this year's poll. She is the first villain to ever win this competition. (No Batman this year!) After six years of heroes taking the top spot, this was a nice surprise. 

Hope you guys had fun this year. We will see you next year!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains-THE FINAL FOUR!


And just like that...there were four. The final four got all of their votes in their respected brackets. Wanda Maximoff dethroned The Mandalorian. Agatha Harkness dethroned Harley Quinn. The villains bracket has gone every which way, but I doubt anybody saw The Candyman moving as far as he did. Of course, Batman is still on top.

Please vote for your favorite hero and favorite villain. No more movie vs. movie characters or TV vs TV characters. You have until April 5th.

First trailer for "Ready Player Tw...oops...I mean...."Space Jam: A New Legacy"

 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.

We are living in a time of IP overload, and this might just be the crown jewel of that so far.