I knew it was Disney as a child, but I could never figure out why they spelled it with a “G” on the old VHS tapes. A few years later somebody drew the D over a picture of the logo and it finally clicked. My brother and I certainly saw the logo enough.
My parents got at least 50 tapes. They came in the massive and unnecessary plastic cases covered in pictures and our tv stand was stacked full of them. Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Fantasia and many more. My brother and I watched them over and over, some so much that the tapes were ruined. The classics were great and all, but I really started to enjoy some of the more obscure titles like Rescuers: Down Under and Black Cauldron, but that didn’t stop me from watching Lion King 100 times.
Disney was, and still is, a molding tool for youth around the world. Their movies not only connect us and captivate us, but taught us variations of right and wrong, love, friendship and most importantly how to cope when you lose those things. The art was always something to marvel at, bolstered by charming musical numbers and lots of laughs. We also got to watch them grow with us, as they pushed the limits of the technologies they had, blending in computer generated imagery with their trademark animation. Then there was Pixar. They shook up EVERYTHING! I still remember seeing Toy Story for the first time. The company my father works for was right by a big theater in the area, and the company bought out a couple theaters so employees could see it with their families. Now I see why. I couldn't wrap my head around it at the time, but it was just so revolutionary. It wasn’t just new animation styling, but the storytelling and comedy showed a new maturity in its design. We had no idea back then what kind of amazing stories that Disney and Pixar would tell together. The world famous mouse always found another way to ascend and evolve, bringing with it a roller coaster of emotions.
Lately however, when it comes to evolution, I feel like Disney has their wires crossed. Between their modern classics, Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel Comics and the evolution of their upcoming streaming service, there is almost an oversaturation of material. Their yearly earnings just in movie ticket sales number in the billions, like $7 billion in 2016. Don;t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Bringing Star Wars back from the dead is gift I thought I’d never get and it has been a true privilege to experience it. Don’t even get me started on Marvel. Watching the heroes that inspired me through my entire childhood come to life on the big screen is an indescribable level of bliss. Spider-man’s debut in Civil War had me on the verge of tears as he finally met all of his fellow superheroes. These franchises are not the problem, but they could be part of the reason the problem is there.
The idea of the Disney classic film has fallen to the wayside. Disney Animation Studios has made some solid films including Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Tangled (Frozen is not a classic, it’s just populer...and it’s lame. Fight me.) I don’t see any of them as classic though. They also really haven’t made an animated classic since the Princess and the Frog in 2009. Innovation has instead been replaced by reinvention. Disney is pretty much grabbing their classics out of their vault at random and completely modernizing them. At first we were all about it. Have you seen the new Jungle Book? It is absolutely phenomenal, though I’m biased because I thought the original was kinda weak. Loved the new Beauty and the Beast too, it makes a lot of improvements to the story from the first one. Pete’s Dragon was kinda meh, but then again, so was the original. Haven’t seen Cinderella yet, but I’ve been told that need to, by my brother of all people. The problem is Disney has now gone full-tilt with this concept. Upcoming titles include;
-Mary Poppins Returns
Like Pete’s Dragon, the original was part animation and part live-action. Back then, those movies were groundbreaking. Watching real actors dance and sing alongside animated characters was awesome. This movie will surely be interesting but I can’t see it being dynamic. It’ll be several excellent actors amongst a hodgepodge of CGI and redone songs that will be nowhere near as good as the originals. I’m going to see it, I have to and you do too, because Dick Van Dyke is in it. We owe it to the man to see this moment in his life. He was incredible in the original, and whether I think this should be made or not, he will make it worth our time.
-The Lion King
They are only doing the Lion King because it’s easy and they wanna recreate the success they got with Jungle Book. Don’t get me wrong, the cast is impressive and I wanna see it, but the original is a perfect film. It doesn’t need to be done again. Not only is it a modern film, but it’s hailed by many as their greatest film ever. They even had the audacity to remove Be Prepared from the new version. You know Be Prepared, the greatest Disney song ever, the best villain song at the least. Removed because the man they cast as Scar doesn’t sing. I like the actor they picked for Scar. Chiwetel Ejiofor was awesome in Serenity and Four Brothers, but if he doesn’t sing, you either find a stand in or pick someone else. You don’t cut the best song.
Quite possibly my least favorite Disney movie ever, down there in the bottom of the bucket next to Frozen, so I’m definitely not feeling this one. I can’t make a fair argument here, because of all the bias, so let’s move on.
Nope, no, absolutely freakin not! The moment Robin Williams passed away, this film should’ve been off limits until the end of time itself. Nobody in the world will be able to clear Robin’s Genie from their mind long enough to fully enjoy this film. The replacement isn’t even a bad choice. Will Smith is an electric and sensational actor, but even the limitless talent he brings to everything he does cannot shake the magic and charisma we got from the late Mr. Williams, and that will be a black mark on this film before it even premieres. That, and it also never needed to be made because the original is total perfection.
I’m actually behind this film 100%. Children and adults alike will be able to connect with a timeless character in an all new way. Personally, when I saw the trailer, the moment I heard Pooh speak I began to tear up. One of my earliest recollections in life was watching old Winnie the Pooh cartoons so hearing that voice definitely hit me. I have no doubt we will get to see the whole gang as they interact with a now fully grown Christopher Robin. I don’t even need to know the plot, this film will be good, and carry a lot of emotion with it. Disney is actually perfectly utilizing the remake concept with this film.
-The Sword in the Stone
Another film that a remake couldn’t hurt. I truly love the original, but it is such a broad concept that could be explored in so many different ways with today’s CGI. The final battle alone could be one of the most brilliant spectacles of magic and might that Disney is capable of putting out...if they do it right.
And they say there’s more coming. Seems a little nuts to me. This is just as bad to me as the Pixar sequel problem, which I will save for another blog. I can understand the idea of reinventing a select and very fine amount of their classics, but not all of them. Pick like 5, and only 5. Call it the Legacy Series or something. Now, if remaking them is a method to erase “Song of the South”-esque tropes and ideas from the subject matter, I can totally get behind that, but remaking some of the best movies they have ever made seems like ludacris to me. I also wish they would strive to use traditional animation methods again. I get that times are changing, but I think Disney should use some of the classic methods they’ve streamlined as a way to hold onto the best whilst traveling into the future. Walt Disney was all about imagination and the idea that we could create worlds within worlds with that imagination. Whether you love him or hate him, in some way his work has had some kinda impact in your life and may have been a part of how you became the person you are. However, this new concept is not imganition, its materialism. I get that Disney needs to make money off of their work, but they need to work harder on making something new at the same time.
But what do I know? I’m still mad that Tomorrowland flopped...
WARNING: The following contains obnoxious opinions, language and potential spoilers!
And the Oscar goes to…..none of them! I’m done, I’m doing my own! Yes, I watched the Oscars, even though I said I wouldn’t. Despite the politics and the movies you’ve never heard of being nominated, there’s still a pull to the broadcast, although it is starting to fizzle out. I’m not just talking about me. The ratings are down AGAIN. They go down every year. And it’s obvious why.
-Movies we like get nominated for a bunch of stuff, and inevitably lose every category do to the internal politics of the Academy (Baby Driver).
-Other movies, which deserve to win the big awards, get Screenplay so they can be pushed aside (Get Out).
-Movies with a certain director’s name attached to them win all the technical awards despite the technical work in this current film being lackluster compared to the other nominees (Dunkirk).
-Movie sequels based on classic films that held a lot of ground 35 years ago win awards just for existing despite the new film not performing well at the box office and not being that good overall (Blade Runner 2049)
-The host did a really good job once, so they were brought back, but they used all their A-list material the first time so this time was kinda weak. The whole “Matt Damon, we ran outta time” things has no place at the Oscars man.
-Politics...I’m not gonna weigh in on anything, I’m not gonna take any sides and I’m not gonna call anyone out. I’m just gonna say the politics don’t need to be there and they are responsible for making the current-era Oscars feel less soulful and fun.
-Best Picture is made up of a bunch of last minute end-of-the-year movies that virtually none of us have seen or even wanna see. We just end up rooting for the 1 movie on the list that we have seen just to watch it lose. Thats no fun.
But it wasn’t all bad. I was convinced Daniel Day Lewis was gonna be showered with affections and a shoe-in for Best Actor because he’s “one of the greatest actors of all time” (I disagree), but they didn’t! Gary Oldman finally got the Oscar he has deserved for the last 20 years! Kobe won an oscar for his excellent short film Dear Basketball, Coco took not only Best Animated Feature but Best Original Song, as was deserved. Rita Moreno presented an Oscar and she is absolutely phenomenal no matter what she’s doing. My favorite thing in the world was that a jetski was awarded to the Oscar winner with the shortest acceptance speech. To their credit, that was a hilarious idea and they followed through with it at the end of the show. Finally, despite only winning Screenplay, I was really happy to see Peele have his moment to reflect on the amazing film that is Get Out. It deserved so much more, but I’m glad it wasn’t completely skunked. Which brings me back to the main issue.
The Academy can keep the Oscars. They are bloated, biased braggarts awarded to films that belch boredom. So I’m going to do my own. Obviously I am not a professor of cinema, but I am a professor of pop culture...nerd, I am a nerd, and have a decent understanding of what people like, even if I do not always agree. That being said, I’d like to present the nominees for The Zacks, a series of awards based around movies people ACTUALLY WATCH, with some new awards that should be a part of the Oscars but aren’t. The winners will be announced on the next episode of Post Credit Podcast and then added on here!
Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Best Action Film
John Wick 2
Fate of the Furious
Best Sci-fi Film
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets
Best Comic Book Film
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Best Animated Film
The Lego Batman Movie
Despicable Me 3
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
Best Motion Capture Performance
Andy Serkis - Caesar - War for the Planet of the Apes
Taika Waititi - Korg - Thor: Ragnarok
James Gunn - Baby Groot - Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Sean Gunn - Rocket Raccoon - Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Dan Stevens - Beast - Beauty and the Beast
Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer - Dunkirk
John Williams - Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Alexandre Desplat - The Shape of Water
Michael Giacchino - Coco
Rupert Gregson-Williams - Wonder Woman
Mark Hamill - Luke Skywalker - Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Michael Rooker - Yondu - Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Jon Hamm - Buddy - Baby Driver
Hugh Jackman - Logan - Logan
Bill Skarsgard - Pennywise - It
James Franco - Tommy - The Disaster Artist
Gal Gadot - Diana - Wonder Woman
Katherine Waterson - Daniels - Alien Covenant
Robin Wright - Antiope - Wonder Woman
Sally Hawkins - Eliza - The Shape of Water
Cate Blanchett - Hela - Thor: Ragnarok
Dafne Keen - X-23 - Logan
Best Voice-Acting Performance:
Will Arnett - Batman - The Lego Batman Movie
Jackie Chan - Master Wu - Lego NinjaGo Movie
Bradley Cooper - Rocket Raccoon - Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Ralph Fiennes - Alfred - The Lego Batman Movie
Gael Garcia Bernal - Hector - Coco
Benjamin Bratt - Ernesto de la Cruz - Coco
Best Sound Editing:
Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Best Sound Mixing:
Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner 2049
Biggest Surprise of 2017
Jumanji - A sequel that nobody wanted that turned out to be excellent
Cloverfield Paradox - A movie that dropped 2 hours after the trailer on Netflix
Baby Driver - Edgar Wright comes out of nowhere with an epically edited action movie
Thor: Ragnarok - Marvel took the struggling franchise and turned it on its head
Most Anticipated of 2018:
Ready Player One
Avengers: Infinity War
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Sean L. Holmes Please Don’t Suck Award 2018
Pacific Rim 2
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Zachary R. Patterson Absolute Worst Award
Current Holder: Independence Day: Resurgence
The Emoji Movie
Transformers: The Last Knight
WARNING: The following contains obnoxious opinions, language and potential spoilers!
As we all know, every year amongst several hilarious commercials, a fair amount of short movie previews and teases show up during breaks between the Superbowl. This year however, the whole week has been trailer-tastic. Some trailers appeared out of nowhere, some had little teases on tv that made you run for youtube to see more of and others didn’t show up at all. This week, I’m taking a break from all of my yelling and ranting to go over the pile of trailer goodness (and a bit of badness) that we were gifted with over the last 2 weeks. Links will be included for those of you who haven’t seen all the things.
-The Cloverfield Paradox
This was a HUGE surprise for the few fans (including me) of the bizarre anthology series. This is the third chapter in the Cloverfield series, with a fourth film announced fairly recently. I was drawn in immediately by the use of old footage from the original Cloverfield film, but what was truly astounding about this preview was how it ended. After the title reveal, the Netflix N popped up, as always, but said it would be available to watch IMMEDIATELY after the Superbowl. That is some simply magnificent advertising! An incredible move by the streaming service that had me scampering for my computer the moment the game ended. I hope more streaming services pull surprise stunts like this. It also turned out to be a pretty awesome movie, because I was up until 3am watching it.
Looks like a fun way to kill a few hours of free time, but not much more to this. It borrows a lot of concepts from Die Hard, like A LOT of concepts, but has some concepts that I like as well. I like the idea of a crazy tall building running as its own private city, I like the idea of a fire in the middle of it cutting off a ton of top level floors from getting help, and I really like that the main character is an amputee because it's something different. The main character is also the Rock, which also helps. I’ll see virtually anything he’s in because his comedy is on point and watching him punch people out of existence never gets old. I’m sure a good amount of people will check this out. I’d be inclined to also, mostly because it isn’t a brainless sequel to an otherwise great franchise that they need to stop making movies for, like the next entry on this list...
-Jurassic World: Fallen KIngdom
A better trailer than the first, I must admit, but still feeling no hype whatsoever to see this film. It looks completely disjointed, capturing no shock and awe from its predecessors, despite legitimately stealing every iconic shot ever from the other films. The dinos still look like CG cartoon characters instead of the iconic/terrifying set pieces that they used to be. There’s also a new hybrid looking thing that’s supposed to be awesome and scary, but even in the brief glimpses you get of it, just looks like a slightly bigger raptor. The returning cast are joined by what appears to be the dumbest human dino-fodder ever, and more freakin kids…..what is it with the kids? You could make a Jurassic Park movie that would rival the original if it didn’t have any damn kids in it. This series just keeps trying to be bigger, just like Transformers, and I don’t like that.
-Solo: A Star Wars Story
The moment this was announced, I shot it down, stating that is a story nobody needs and there’s no way it’ll be done in way that makes for a good movie. Now that there is finally a full trailer and I was finally able to sit down and watch it a few times, I can now tell you that I was completely right. Personally, I cannot get into this. I know it’s a 90 second trailer, but in that small span I didn't like the music. I didn’t like the style. I didn’t like the new vehicles that have been pasted in so Disney can sell more stupid toys. I don’t like the lead either. The dude just isn't Han Solo. What I have learned is that what Disney really should have done was make LANDO: A STAR WARS STORY. Old man Billy Dee telling stories about HIS rise in the criminal underworld and where HE got the Falcon and the characters that HE had dealings with. Include a very brief encounter with a young Han Solo taking the Falcon away from him and then go back to HIS story. I promise you this would’ve been the better idea, especially with Donald Glover playing Lando in this movie, which is literally THE ONLY REASON I’m seeing it.
So many people are unhappy with this trailer. I am not one of them. I love Venom and I have been waiting 11 years for another chance to see him not be played by stupid Topher Grace in the worst Spiderman movie of all time. I love that trailer doesn’t show what he looks like, it’s the way trailers used to be! Enough setup to know whats going and no ruining of any major plot points. Also, Tom Hardy looks like Eddie Brock and sounds like Eddie Brock and is a massive Venom fan so I believe he is the right pick for the role. There’s still a lot up the air about it though. A lot of rumors circulating regarding the very bizarre list of rules from the Marvel/Sony deal. Will Spiderman be in it? Will Peter Parker be in it? Can it carry itself without Spiderman’s presence? Will this have even the slightest connection to the MCU? Is it possible for Venom to enter the MCU at some point? Is Sony capable of making this movie without it being a disaster? We will have to wait and see…
-Avengers: Infinity War
What is there to even say here? This movie looks insane and virtually everyone you know is gonna see it. New footage showed Spider-man hanging out with Iron Man and Doctor Strange, Thor hanging out with Rocket Raccoon and there’s a shot of Spider-man IN OUTER SPACE! Marvel has a relatively simple formula at this point for their movies, but even keeping that in mind, this film has around 40 characters in it. Seeing them all meet and interact with one another is going to be extremely rewarding for those of us who have been loyally watching these films for the last 10 years. It’s going to be a dream come true for comic book fans across the globe and the hype is all too real after this new teaser.
-Mission Impossible Fallout
This one is the big winner and it came out of nowhere. Even if you’ve never seen a Mission Impossible trailer in your life, this trailer is totally insane. What also stood out to me was the lack of CGI. Cruise is back with all the idiotic but visually impressive stunts you’ve come to expect from these films. I found myself cheering and shouting through most of it, especially the helicopter chase footage that is 100% practical. I’m seeing this day 1, not just because I love Mission Impossible, but because it looks like it’ll be one of my favorite movies this year. Mission Impossible has become a series that doesn’t make me roll my eyes every time a sequel is announced. The cast has become stupidly impressive the camera work is phenomenal and the charm these movies have will keep you coming back every time. No matter how you look at it, this is the trailer for you, should you choose to accept it…
That was a lame joke.
WARNING: The following contains obnoxious opinions, language and potential spoilers!
The enveloping darkness is suddenly broken by a bright green light that says “The Following Preview has been Approved for All Audiences”. What followed was a loud booming voice that said things like “A man on the edge” or “Their world, destroyed...” and almost always the phrase “Coming this Summer”. Then you saw some familiar actors, a few gunshots or explosions, some quippy lines of dialogue and finally a giant title popped up with an age rating and that was that. Only about 60 seconds of film or less for a 90 minute movie. Not too bad, but that was the 90’s.
Today, trailers are bigger, longer, and come with their own previews. A random screening in theaters has been replaced with YouTube debuts, Late Nite talk show premiers and Superbowl Spots. It’s like studios have a big wheel they spin to decide where you will watch their big reveal. Will it be on Kimmel? Monday Night Football? Hell, lets drop one during Good Morning America, people will get up for it. Then they hype them up with “Something big is coming” Tweets from directors, ominous countdowns and previews of the trailer itself. You read that right, a trailer preview. Like 3 days before a big blockbuster trailer will be revealed to the world, they drop a brief glimpse of that trailer for reasons I still can’t figure out to save my life. A few samples of footage you will watch all over again when the full trailer comes out. And that isn’t the only problem. I fear that the modern movie preview has the potential to ruin the movie it’s telling you about. Let’s say the next big movie you love is dropping a first trailer any minute. Where you choose to watch it does not matter, you will be pestered no matter what.
If you take the YouTube route, you’ve probably noticed that right before the trailer starts, there’s a 3 second clip of that very trailer right in front of it, and then the title pops up and underneath it it says “Trailer Debut” or something like that. That’s because many of these trailers get used as YouTube ads that will interrupt other humans’ favorite How to Cook The Ultimate Pizza videos that they’re so obsessed with. The reason they do this to you is that when you inevitably click that skip button, you’ve already been forced to view some material. They hope that a seed has been planted in your brain and that those brief moments of film will make you go “Man, I gotta see Justice League”, even though you’ve never seen a comic book film in your life and could care less. It works on them maybe 2% of the time, and for the fans, it is possibly the most tedious and unnecessary thing you could do.
Let’s say you’re the mega-fan. YouTube is still not fast enough. You gotta see this shit the exact millisecond that it drops so you can tell everyone how you got to see it first and that you are in the elite nerd ranks of Bat-Super-Spider-Man-Wars (Me. I do this. I am a loser). So you tune into a talk show that you never watch ever because its too boring or the host is annoying or it’s too political (Also a thing I do). There’s no getting around it, you will have to watch the whole episode, commercials and all. Satellite can’t help you either. Only way to skip commercials is to fall behind on the live broadcast, at that is unacceptable to the mega nerd that you have become. They won’t put it right at the end, because people will expect that and tune in 10 minutes before the end of the show, which gains them no ratings. They won’t put it at the beginning either, because you’ll watch it and immediately run to YouTube and watch it 8 more times. That leaves a good 40 minutes of air space for them to stick it. So there you are, stuck watching Jimmy Conan O’Kimmel whine about Senator What's-His-Face for 10 minutes before watching him delve into a series of boring-as-shit diatribes with the cast of Game of Thrones (THE MOST OVERHYPED SHOW ON TELEVISION). TBS or whoever get their beloved ratings for the night, and you’ve wasted an evening.
And then there’s America’s Game. The Patriots Bowl...oops Superbowl, that’s what it’s called. You used to watch it all the time, but you don’t really wanna watch this year because it's the 6th or 7th time that the Patriots have cheated their way into the limelight. Even if they lose, which brings you great joy, you’re bummed because you wanted Minnesota V Jacksonville because it was different and new. You’ll still have that miserable game on though, because half of the commercial spots have been bought up by movie executives hoping to sell you on Transformers 14 or Marvel *Generic Sequel Title Here* or maybe something you actually want like a Netflix preview. Regardless, you gotta sit through a 4 hour event for these because there’s no warning on when they will drop. Most of the time, they debut when you’re in the bathroom and you gotta find them on YouTube later. Even if you do see them, it’s rarely anything dynamic. Just a glorified footage tease to hype you for a movie that’s nowhere near done but the studio demanded to be given something to show during the game.
Every route is bothersome, but you endure because that’s how we have been programmed by these studios, they want us chomping at the bit for any sighting of our favorite actors, themes and stories. They want us so invested that they can show us whatever they want and we will pay for the movie ticket anyway. My parents were with me when I saw the Last Jedi, and they brought up a very interesting point. They said that every trailer they saw was exactly the same. Not subject obviously, but their design and rhythm were identical from film to film. Identical to the point where the movies themselves were disinteresting because they felt as though they would also be identical in design. My mother discussed how previews used to be and now I can’t avoid noticing the issue every time I see one.
There’s a lot of them too. Not trailers of films but trailers of one specific film. For example, Star Wars Episode 7 had a teaser trailer, a trailer 1, a trailer 2, a final trailer, a mini-documentary about making it AND approximately 15 to 20 different tv spots. I know that because I was the tool that watched them all. I know what you’re thinking, I did it to myself, but this isn’t the only movie like this. These days every movie has at least 2 trailers, and the big blockbusters have 3 or 4 trailers and a barrage of tv spots. No matter what you do or don’t see, surprise or plot point will most likely be spoiled for you. However, even that isn’t the biggest problem with these trailers.
Spoilers, spoilers everywhere. So many movies ruined by their lengthy and revealing previews. Some of the most recent victims being Jurassic World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Terminator Genysis (A trailer now infamous for revealing its biggest plot spoiler IN ITS OWN PREVIEW). That plot twist being that John Connor had somehow been turned into a machine. Granted, this was an awful movie, but that is a badass concept. So why the hell would you put that in a preview?! Then there was Jurassic World, whose biggest draw was that they had created a new, super secret dinosaur for the movies that would be epic and amazing. The first trailer showed virtually nothing, which is good. The next trailer showed absolutely everything. It showed what the new dinosaur looked like, awesome set pieces that should’ve been kept secret and most of the plot. There was absolutely no reason to do that, People were gonna see this movie no matter what. It was the return of Jurassic Park and Chris Pratt is in it. That’s all you need right there. Even if it isn’t a major spoiler, trailers these days show too much. You can either piece together plot points yourselves or you just see something you wish they had saved for the film.
So how we fix this? What is the right way to make a trailer in 2018? Ironically, I believe the answer is found in a trailer from 2016 that had a lot of complaints. Rogue One was an excellent movie despite being plagued by required reshoots and last minute changes to the story. However, because of this, a ton of the trailer footage didn’t make it into the film and a lot of it did actually look really cool unfortunately. Star Wars fans were pretty upset about it, especially since some of that lost footage had Darth Vader in it. However that mess of development brings us to a solution. Why not make all trailers like that? Show your favorite characters fighting some character or doing some cool thing that demonstrates who they are and what they are capable of without revealing part of the story to you. Hell, make little shorts like Pixar does, only use them to set up character and story. Sure it’ll cost a little more and ding the film’s budget, but not enough to hurt the final product.
Despite what I say all the time, people aren’t stupid. We don’t need to see a ton of footage in trailers to understand the film. These overstuffed and overabundant trailers are information overload. It’s like ordering an appetizer and then ordering the appetizer again as your entree. Nothing has changed and you already know what you’re getting. Thats no fun at all! We go to movies to escape, whether we know that or not. We want to enter another world, connect with the characters and share in their experiences as we follow them on their journeys. The reason I’m so ranty about this particular problem is because modern trailers completely contaminate this idea. Movies are a place where you don’t ever want a map, how you get there is all the fun. When you walk up to a Roller Coaster and see the big drop or the loops, it’s really cool, but imagine how much cooler it would be if you didn’t see them. Studio Executives need to realize that people will always see movies. People will always want to see Iron Man again. People will always want to visit the stars from their cinema. People will always want to escape.
Previews don’t need to be approved for all audiences, they need to be approved by all audiences...
WARNING: The following review contains obnoxious opinions and strong language
The year was 1999. Star Wars was back in a big way. George Lucas had full creative control, and a cornucopia of new cinematic technology at his disposal. Fans’ minds were blown by the concept of 3 prequel movies setting up the movies they grew up with. Completely uncharted territory, a history and backstory for many of our favorite characters. The stage was set, and it was their game to lose.
And they lost. Lucas was convinced that the film needed a living cartoon character to get kids into Star Wars, despite the fact that for the last 22 years, kids found their way to Star Wars without the limitless stupidity that is Jar-Jar Binks. The mysticism and wonder that the Force brought to us was turned into a biological imperative. “The Living Force”, the prize at the end of a DNA lottery. Cells so powerful they could create life in people randomly (Lucas’s excuse for turning Anakin Skywalker into a Jesus birth).
I could go on and on AND ON about this film and the 2 that follow it, but that’s not why we’re here. Basically they attempted to take the franchise in a new direction and it completely backfired. Fans were almost completely united on this front, with the exception of a delusional few who will try and tell you that these films aren’t so bad. That's where it was left, until Disney brought Star Wars back. Fans were a bit divided with Episode 7, because some felt it was not very original. Disney took that criticism to heart when they made Episode 8, but somehow 8 has left fans EVEN MORE divided, this time for being too original apparently. So let’s break this down.
SPOILERS AHEAD PEOPLE
-The story is their own, and that is good! There are no prophecies, nobody has a destiny and the Force is just the Force. In fact, the line between light and dark is blurred like never before. The Force is back to being mystical and mysterious, but at the same time, any Jpe Nobody on the street could find themselves tapping into it and gaining abilities. Thanks to that, Rey’s parents don't have to be important. She doesn’t have to be a Kenobi or a Skywalker or a Palpatine (That would have been stupid.). Snoke doesn’t require a 30 minute backstory tacked on to this film where you find out he has some bullshit connection to Palpatine or Vader or some shit. They can just take the characters and run with them. It works better that way, because we can now move this story into the unknown and not get anymore Jar-Jars. I don’t know why fans are so buthurt about this.
-Luke Skywalker is back!!! He is completely demoralized and has disconnected himself from the Force because of his failures with Ben Solo. He’s sarcastic and grumpy and extremely powerful and its excellent. A character that lacked any and all depth in the original trilogy returned with more character depth than we ever could’ve hoped for. Some fans complain that the film is not as action-packed as its predecessors because of this. Personally, I I’m fine with it. I don’t need to see a stunutdouble/CG Luke doing backflips across the battlefield, waving a lightsaber and pretending he’s not old.
-John Williams returns and gives us even more of his textbook soundtrack perfection. Not a lot of new themes here, but the return of some old favorites and them being blended into the new and it's perfect and I’ve already bought the soundtrack because John Williams.
-Character depth all around! Not just Luke, but Leia, Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe and Chewbacca all find some great new strides in their stories. There’s tensions surrounding Rey and Kylo as they communicate through the Force. You feel like at any moment, either of them could switch sides or they could try to kill each other. It's absolutely fantastic.
-YODA WAS IN IT AND I CRIED, I HAVE NO SHAME!!! Frank Oz returned to voice the character and instead of using CGI, they used the original and fully restored puppet from Empire Strikes Back. Way to go Disney!!!
-The Millennium Falcon was in it and it flew around and shot a bunch of stuff. I will NEVER get tired of seeing sequences like that. If there’s one thing Disney has done wonderfully, it’s letting that ship be cool.
-THAT HYPERSPACE KAMIKAZE MANEUVER BY THE ADMIRAL IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OUTER SPACE SEQUENCE OF ALL TIME!!!!!
-Rey and her struggle to find her place in this conflict continues to be riveting and awesome. Her character continues to grow more powerful and more interesting with each film, and I cannot wait to see what happens to her in the next film.
-Carrie Fisher brings us one final performance as our princess-turned-general we all love and it is just as wonderful and charming as you would expect. Since her first scenes ever as Leia, she broke down walls and set new standards on how such characters could be portrayed in film, and its kept alive in this film with all the backsass that comes with it. She also demonstrated she has a connection to the Force in this film, which had me completely losing it. It is truly a tragedy that we have to carry on without her now. Her love of these films and her fans matched her performances and made her a one-of-a-kind hollywood personality. She will no doubt remembered as a remarkable and wonderful woman.
-Merchandising will one day be what kills the overall quality of these movies. How the hell do you spend 5 months hyping up an evil BB droid in countless interviews and videos and then put him in the movie for 2 minutes?! TWO MINUTES IN A 152 MINUTE FILM!!! We don’t even get a crazy hilarious BB8 fight (Which any scriptwriter with half a brain should know is exactly what people are going to want), but you can buy his toys! Sadly, it wasn’t just BB-9E...yes he has a name, despite them not saying it in the movie. Captain Phasma was in this film EVEN LESS than Episode 7 and got completely railroaded AGAIN even though Disney has told us on multiple occasions that she is some kind of amazing badass. And how are you supposed to find out more? Two novels and a comic book series apparently! Disney is intentionally half-assing their subplots because they know they can get people to buy all this shit. For once, I am not one of them. Disney needs to chill out, focus on the characters properly, and stop introducing new people at the expense of the people we want to see more of. Nerds will buy the stuff regardless! THAT’S WHAT WE DO!!!
-Canto Bight; A planet that sounds like the name of an STD, and in this film, virtually every scene that took place there felt like one. Basically a wealthy planet designed to introduce wealth and corruption, but was handled in such a way that you felt no emotion towards that corruption. There’s also this whole thing about these racing camel things at a big cansino and they are abused and we have to save them and bla bla bla PETA stuff. What follows is a chase/stampede scene with some of the most awful CGI ever. Every scene on this planet felt forced and empty and boring. I’m 90% sure it was only there so Disney could hire an author to write a random and extremely overpriced novel about the place, featuring characters that are probably in the movie somewhere for a whole 3 seconds. Also pretty sure it’s only there to introduce a kid that sweeps the stables, who you see use the Force for half a second to lift his broom. Shoulda been an epic scene, but it wasn’t, and nothing on Canto Bight was.
-Finn’s character is completely wasted in this film. All of the effort that set him up to be a total game changer in Episode 7 has been pissed away so that he could wander through the story like a lost puppy, traveling across the galaxy with a bizarre woman whose name you will forget 5 minutes after you walk out of the movie. He went from brave and inspiring, to dumb comic relief. His only redeeming moment is his standoff with Phasma, which admittedly was pretty good, albeit a little too short. Even his reunion with Rey felt weak and hammy. The space they could’ve used to keep making him awesome was used to introduced new and fairly uninteresting characters. Hopefully they’ll learn from this and not do it again in Episode 9.
-The BB-8 stuff officially has run its course in this film. He has gone from humorous and lovable to pulling some stunts so stupid, you’d usually see them in Looney Tunes skits. There’s scene where he hijacks a walker, which would be really cool if he just fired the gun a few times or something, but instead the walkers head fall off and we watch this giant thing tap-dance around a shuttle bay blasting people in a completely ludacris spectacle. This right here Disney, is the moment, you guys need to dial it back. Your at like an 11 with BB-8, bring it down to a 6…
-Gonna keep this one short. Luke Skywalker milked a weird whale-cow thing with boobs and it was really fucking weird and awkward. Somebody needs to cut that scene out.
-Porgs. Stupid little penguin things designed to be funny and sell toys. Started out funny but ended up spreading through this movie like an illness. Action sequences, somber moments and drama all interrupted by one of these things making a face or screaming in your face. The movie didn’t even need them.
I’m super biased here because I love Star Wars and despite the ranting and raving above, I absolutely love this movie too. I think they are taking the story in the right direction and I’m already chomping at the bit for the next chapter.
The action sequences are on point, the character development is on point, the music is on point but the plot isn’t. This movie is another victim of Too Much Shit Going On. There’s so many subplots and new characters that the main story really takes a hit for it. The entire struggle that the Rebels face in this film is really badly designed and the bad guys could just end it in 30 seconds if not for the script and its nonsense. There’s a lot that could be cut, and replaced with simpler and more concrete plot lines. A huge chunk of this movie is just there to sell merchandise and that hurts. As a fan, that really hurts. That’s not what the focus should be. It doesn’t need to be, because there will always be a market for Star Wars books and toys and comics, and just like before, the best stuff will have nothing to do with the movies. Besides, this movie has made a billion dollars so far, even with the fan backlash, and that had nothing to do with toy sales. Disney needs to expand this franchise outward not upward.
Despite this, the movie hits all the right nostalgia buttons. There’s moments where you will laugh and others where you’ll cheer and some scenes where you’ll cry and it will be super embarrassing if you are a 31-year-old man named Zack. No matter what kind of fan you are of this franchise, there’s something somewhere in this film for you. That something that makes you remember your childhood and smile, even if you weren’t crazy about Star Wars like that. It's what Disney does best in almost every one of their films; it reconnects you with your youth and it's what keeps you coming back.
4 out of 5
***WARNING: THIS HAS A COUPLE STAR WARS SPOILERS - YOU’VE BEEN WARNED***
Anyone who knows me knows it was only a matter of time before I wrote about The Last Jedi, but I really wanted to think on it a bit and not just charge in yelling “Shut the hell up, you know nothing of Star Wars, you sorry little pisspots”, which was my initial reaction to the divisive audience reaction to this film.
Having seen the film 5 times (This should not surprise you), I finally think I can weigh in properly on all the complaints this film has been facing. But that post will come later. FIRST you need to understand the complicated nature of this issue, and to do that, you need to understand…...the fans…..
This is not a two-sides kinda fight, and it is not the first of its kind. You need to understand that there are several types of Star Wars fans out there, each convinced they are superior and that they are the last word on the Star Wars Saga...including me. We all have loves and hates, and cornucopias of trivial information that make us think we are way smarter and better than you because we read things like “Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels”........yes, I do own that.....and a Star Wars wildlife guide.....for wildlife that doesn’t exist…...where was I.....The following information is biased….because I wrote it…..ok here we go;
*The following information is opinion-based and may offend some of my fellow Star Wars brethren*
-The Lovers - These people are either the best of us or the stupidest. They love every Star Wars film hands down and can enjoy each and every one of them without bias or complaint. They have no criteria that needs met, no characters they need more of, or less. They just sit and watch, and have a damn good time while they do it. Salt of the Earth, these people, even tho I’m not one of them.
-The Lucas Haters - This is my team and we are kinda hypocrites. We love his INITIAL vision which was expressed in A New Hope and his consulting on the creation of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That, however, is where it ends. We loathe and despise every change he has made to the original films and spit on the Prequel films and anybody who likes them (I never said I was right here, this is just how I feel ok). We hate Jar-Jar, we hate baby Anakin who can’t act and we HATE adult Anakin who can't act and whines about EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME! Hell, I hate the concept of midichlorians so much that when people use the term around me, I threaten to kick them out of my home. We also believe his obsession with CG and Green-Screen not only killed his own franchise, but was partially responsible for the Transformers-esque bastardization of cinematic creation. We also bowed down to the almighty DIsney when they resurrected Star Wars from the ashes and breathed new life into the franchise. We love Force Awakens, we love Rogue One and we love Last Jedi...and we irrationally hate the people that dont like them. We blindly defend them even when the other teams find a completely rational argument against us. We are obnoxious as hell, possibly the most annoying type of fan out there, but Disney loves us cause we give them money and buy all the things.
-The Record-Keepers - They stand with the relics of the past like Indiana Jones, shouting “These belong in a MUSEUM!”, as Disney laughs and says “SO DO YOU!”. You could call them true believers, traditionalists, annoying...ok that last one was mean. Basically, they only love the original trilogy. They aren't interested in the Saturday morning cartoons that are the prequels OR the money-hungry, toy-selling Sequel films from the House of Mouse. They yearn for an older time, a simpler time. A time where Han shot first, where midichlorians aren’t even an afterthought and a time where a ball with a face isn’t half of every movie. I get their stance, I can respect their stance, but I am not one of them. How can you not want K2SO in your life?
-The Film Critics - I call them the Pretenders myself. They only truly love Empire Strikes Back. Everything else is inferior, everything else has flaws, everything else doesn’t even deserve to get made because we must all bow down to this one movie because it is the only true demonstration of character development and plot in the entire franchise...in their opinion. They are some of the worst. They left Force Awakens saying “This is just a redo of A New Hope”. They left Rogue One saying “This didn’t even need to be made, and it was so boring”. They left Last Jedi saying things like “What a trainwreck of storytelling, the pacing is all over the place”. At the end of their incessant whining, they always say the same thing…”It’ll never be better than Empire, nothing will”. Now I agree that Empire is by far the best movie, but that doesn’t mean that the other films are bad in comparison. These people are, for the most part, conceited douchebags. Most of em hate Marvel movies too...literally they are no fun to watch anything with…
-The Gungans - Yes...these people exist...I’ve met a few. They were born during the time of the Prequels, they only encountered Star Wars by watching the Prequels AND they love them (I wholeheartedly blame their parents for not introducing them to these movies properly). But then, when the time came to see the next chapter in the Skywalker story, we heard phrases like “These are kinda boring, I really can’t get into them”. Such phrases burn your skin and fill you rage, but hey, it's not our place to tell them otherwise. They think Force Awakens is pretty ok, but found Last Jedi to be very boring (Probably because they’ve never encountered character development before...). Most of them haven’t even seen Rogue One and probably don’t wanna. They believe you can win a duel by standing on a 4 foot hill and that a whole tribe of ball-tossing duck-people can take on 100,000 ROBOTS WITH GUNS and get through it with next to no casualties and they can watch a bunch of weirdos in robes sit and talk through half of their movies. Good for them…to each their own...I hope I never meet another…
-The Church of EU - The Expanded Universe as its called, is a massive addition to Star Wars lore. It’s all the books, games and comics about Star Wars that were designed to follow our heroes after Return of the Jedi. There is also material focused around the Prequel era. It’s a world from which Grand Admiral Thrawn was born, look him up he’s epic. Boba Fett has a story amongst all these books, like a real story where he speaks and does shit! It is a world where Chewbacca died, and we all cried heavy nerd tears. It was all amazing and fun and crazy!…..and Disney decided that none of it counts anymore. They want to go their own way, without having to dodge a pre-existing plot point on page 212 of some random Star Wars book from 1996. I respect that myself, but some others simply cannot. They look down on Disney’s creation, not just the films, but the books and comics Disney has made since then. They say things like “There’s no reason Kylo and Rey couldn’t have been the Solo Twins” and “I can’t believe they never made Shadows of the EMpire a movie, it was so perfect”. They can be rather obnoxious about it, but I can see where they are comin from. I loved all those books and stuff too, and still read them, but I also read the new stuff too. Suck it up guys c’mon now...They gave us back Thrawn, maybe one day they will give us Starkiller from Force Unleashed or even Kyle Katarn! BE OPTIMISTIC! WATCH REBELS! WORK WITH ME HERE!!!
-The Newbies - *Data Missing* I assume there are people out there who only like the brand new Disney stuff, but I haven’t met any yet so I got nothin here.
-Last Jedi Haters - This is also a pretty short entry. Some people love Star Wars but just couldn’t get into this film whatsoever and I get that, for reasons I’ll get into in my Last Jedi review. Their love of Star Wars can be anywhere on the scale, they simply did not like this one film. It happens, we gotta live with it...
The Theorists - These are the ones I can’t stand. They crawl out of their basement caves onto the nearest Reddit and tell you that they’ve had a brainwave and that everyone has to hear about it. Then places like MovieWeb publish articles about it, and you click it...because you’re bored and then you find out that it is some of the dumbest shit imaginable. The biggest one that traveled the interweb for about 3 years, and still does, suggests that Jar-Jar Binks was actually a super secret Sith in super secret stealth mode and that he manipulated the ENTIRE situation in the Prequels so that the Emperor could come to power and create Darth Vader...Jar-Jar fucking Binks….a Sith…I refuse to touch that with a 20 foot pole. These people had a helluva time before Last Jedi too. They said Supreme Leader Snoke was Mace WIndu back from the dead....or Palpatine back from the dead!...or Darth Plagueis the Wise back from the dead! They said Rey was a Kenobi...or a Skywalker...or Kylo Ren’s secret sister…or a reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker! All of these theories are real...you can look them up if you want...and they are all freakin dumb. These people never stop, they chase plot holes like dogs chase cars, thinking they can get it but never do...ever...not even close. So when Last Jedi came out, they bitched about everything. Rey’s parentage was terrible, Snoke was terrible, Leia having the Force was terrible, “Why couldn’t they have done what I wanted???”. I despise fan theories and the attention they get. Just watch the damn movie and shut up...also go outside and meet some other humans without using Reddit…sheesh…
This information really doesn’t tell you how to deal with these people, just that they exist. It’s up to you how you go about handling yourself if you wind up in a conversation with one. Despite how they sound here, we aren't that bad, I promise, but you must not let any of us anywhere influence how to feel about The Last Jedi. Fact of the matter is, its impossible for Disney to please all of us, it simply can't be done. People are gonna hate this movie, others are gonna love it, but all that matters is how they tell you about it. The worst type of fan is the one that tells you that liking something is stupid….unless its the prequels...or Jar-Jar…..or midichlorians….did I mention I’m a hypocrite?
“You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it! You’re gonna sell it!”~~~Ian Malcolm
A phenomenal quote from the very first Jurassic Park film...that has suddenly become fitting for the franchise from which it came.
Universal appears to have lost their damn minds over Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. After the surprisingly awesome Jurassic World, most of us JP fans have been dying for a peek at the upcoming sequel. Universal fed us tidbit after tidbit after tidbit after tidbit of information and a barrage of 3 second clips of the trailer before the eventual trailer debut this past Thursday. At first I thought they were just really over-hyping the film to the fanbase, but after the trailer debut, I’m pretty sure this was all out of caution because they have lost faith in it at this point.
It all started with news stories dropping earlier this year. Stories promising a scarier sequel with higher stakes, new dinosaurs, the return of some classic dinosaurs, practical effects like the originals and the long awaited return of Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum really making a comeback recently, but I reckon that’s a conversation best saved for a podcast)
Then strike one came in the form of the cast announcements. Head on over the IMDB cast page for this movie and checkout a list of some of the roles being cast. Some of my favorites include Indian Gangster, Submarine Pilot, Saudi Royals Auction Consultant, Jungle Mercenary, “Secret Agent at the Corporate Courtroom” and The Intern (You know that guy is gonna die lol). There’s also a kid. Not unlike Dr Grant, in these movies, I’ve grown to hate kids. They put em in every single Jurassic Park movie and, with the exception of the very first one, it’s the same result every time. They get in the way, be whiny/emotional, and prevent the levels of violence most of us want at this point from these movies. Be bold Universal! Give me an R-rated Jurassic Park movie about poachers hosting an illegal hunting competition on the long forgotten islands and getting caught up in a violent cat and mouse game with Raptors or in a fight for their lives against some of the larger predators. That will be 10,000 times better than this Fallen Kingdom volcano bullshitery that you’ve come up with here.
*****Call it “Jurassic Park: Apex”...You’re welcome!*****
Strike two appeared to us in the form of advertising. Never in the history of cinema has a movie trailer been more obnoxiously introduced then this one. Sunday, December 3rd, Universal announced that the trailer would arrive the following Thursday via Thursday Night Football. With the announcement there was a trailer tease (I have an entirely separate rant about those that I will save for later) that showed like 10 seconds of footage to try and amp fans up for the trailer drop. This is not abnormal so I thought nothing of it. Monday December 4th, a second trailer tease dropped featuring 5 seconds of new footage to hype the trailer some more. Tuesday the fifth, we got a 3 minute mini-doc about making the movie, that featured SOME MORE footage from the trailer including show a bit of Goldblum (shouldn’t have been shown at all and saved for the film.). Wednesday there was another tease, again with unseen footage. Thursday, THE DAY THE TRAILER WAS COMING OUT, they showed another tease in the morning with MORE NEW FOOTAGE. You saw like half the trailer before the trailer even came out, what the hell is that?! WHO DOES THAT?!
I know, I know, you can argue “Well you chose to watch all of them” and yes I did, but that doesn’t make this scenario any less idiotic…
At last the trailer arrived…..to a collective “meh” from viewing audiences. You can already tell the story is lacking, you can already tell the new characters aren’t that interesting and you can already tell that they are just recreating famous moments/plots from the older films. It is as if Transformers and Jurassic Park have had a hideous abomination baby. And they totally lied out of their asses to us about adding more practical effects, it was a CGI mess, and not just the dinosaurs. A volcano erupts on the island...InGen rebuilt this entire park on an island that could blow at any minute OR somehow had no idea that there was any danger of this despite having modern technology at their disposal. Regardless, Captain High Heels from the last movie (I forget her name/I don’t care) has decided these dinosaurs must be saved from re-extinction and taken off the island to safety. A federal court delegates over this, we get a testimony from Ian Malcolm, and based on the footage, clearly they voted to save them. Volcano erupts mid-rescue, dinos panic, carnage, destruction, death, CGI, bla-bla-bla...yawn, the end.
FYI; that courtroom testimony is the only Malcolm you’re getting in this movie. It’s a glorified cameo folks...which they only admitted AFTER the trailer dropped. You were promised the return of Malcolm, and you’re gonna get about 45 seconds of him…There’s also rumors of a Dr. Alan Grant appearance. If that’s even the slightest bit true, you better believe he will only be in there for 30 seconds or less because he legitimately hates his Dr Grant role and hates talking about Jurassic Park anything...
In all fairness, Universal claims all of the trailer footage is only from the first half of the film and that there could be shitload of cool stuff coming that we have not seen. They also showed nothing about Dr. Wu or what he’s doing with those stolen embryos so there could be a decent subplot hiding in that mess somewhere. However, to me this is clearly a massive departure from Jurassic films of the past. It feels like it’s lost its soul, like this film is solely for a quick buck and nothing more. Another blink-and-it’s gone summer blockbuster as empty and pointless as a MIchael Bay film. I do truly hope I’m wrong but I, and everyone I know who have seen this trailer, don’t have a lot of faith in this…
At least we can be sure it'll be better than Jurassic Park 3, as it is physically impossible to make a Jurassic Park film that is worse than 3.
Ok, so across social media and my podcast array, I’m very often referred to as the negative person. First to shoot down something just for the sake of shooting down something. In particular my Most Overrated Movies podcast was apparently quite harsh (I respectfully disagree). So to take on a more positive approach, here’s a list of 15 very UNDERRATED movies out there for you guys to check out! These can be movies panned by critics or movies that are just so unheard of that you don’t know about them yet (I’m betting that, like the Overrated list, you’ll disagree with most of these and call me an imbecile but here we go).
15: Need for Speed - STAY WITH ME HERE! Based on the popular (in 2002) video game series, Need for Speed is a foot-on-the-gas car race movie, not unlike Fast and the Furious. UNLIKE the FF franchise (FFF?), you get new characters, a face paced video game-ish story and limited CGI in support of practical effects. The racing sequences are as frequent as they are awesome and the humor in between is actually a bit refreshing compared to any other car movies that have come out after Gone in 60 Seconds. Granted the plot is a bit loose and its shares a Fast and Furious level of impossibleness at times. Even so, Need for Speed is a fun throwback to the video games with more charm than you’d expect from a financial flop movie that was completely panned by critics.
14: Moon - A spectacular piece of science fiction with stellar acting performances by both Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey (I know, touchy subject there, let’s keep this about movies yeah?). While waiting for his return trip home, Rockwell’s character runs a lunar mining outpost in the not too distant future, and Spacey voices the android that oversees the facility. After an accident, some strange occurrences begin to surface in the facility. I dare not say more than that, just know that it’s a solid plot and well worth watching. Grounded sci-fi can be the best sci-fi.
13: Terminator Salvation - I know for sure I’m gonna lose some points here. Look, this movie had a lot of flaws, but it also had a lot of points in its favor. 3 movies in a row warning about the future and finally they decide to trying make a movie in the future, which is what I wanted all along. You get some more crude, grizzled-looking machines from the early stages of Skynet’s rise to power. You also get to meet famed future characters before they’ve even met one another. The main character is a new face and was written well, before everything went to hell. Fact of the matter is, previews are partially responsible, as one of the best potential twists in the film was revealed in the damn trailer. Another factor that hurt it was Christian Bale as John Connor. Aside from the spat he had with a disruptive photographer, he also turned a minor role into a major one, gaining a ton of screentime. As a result of that, they had to change the ending completely to set up more of him in the sequel that never was. Not unlike the DC films, this project was dismantled by studio meddling, but that doesn’t make it unwatchable.
12: The Raid: Redemption - This. Is. The. Best. Action. Movie. I. Have. Ever. Seen. It’s Indonesian and has many many subtitles, but the martial arts sequences are absolutely sick! Some solid camerawork and editing really beef up the scenes too. There’s really not much else I can say on this one. If you’re looking for a “Turn off your brain action flick”, this is the best there is.
11: Cowboys 7 Aliens - A lot of people see this film as mediocre, and I do get that, but the thing I love most in movies is when you can combine genres. This film film chose to combine sci-fi and western themes, but for once, it weighed more on the western side of the equation as you follow a sheriff and criminal that get caught up in an alien abduction story. Having Harrison Ford involved is no doubt a big part of why I like this so much, but a film about lawmen chasing bandits (but replacing bandits with aliens) was too cool for me to pass up.
10: Outlander - An interesting and unique sci-fi story on a noticeably low budget...biblically low budget. A story we are all too familiar with; space police officer harboring fugitive alien beast has spaceship problems and crash lands on earth. The twist on this one is that all of that happens during the viking era, as two viking tribes fight for overall power of their region. I like the idea of an alien best inspiring the viking lore pertaining to dragons and serpents. I also like that they chose to give the movie an R-rating to allow for Alien levels of grotesque violence. Collectively its a fun movie and in my opinion one of a kind.
9: Hardcore Henry - This. Is. The. 2nd. Best. Action. Movie. I. Have. Ever. Seen. Dunno what that says about my taste but whatever. FINALLY, a fully 1st-person action film! Modeled with the same simplicity and chaos you got from a *insert franchise name here* shooter game. No explanation, barely an introduction and then thrown into the mess. Plot was creative, but at some places a tad predictable. The violence is excessive enough to satisfy your bloodlust for this lifetime and it gets bonus points for having Sharlto Copley in it (A better actor than he gets credit for). It’s not the Tarantino type of over-the-top pulp (Part of why I love it so much), but because of that it has its own groove and that groove is executed brilliantly. Again, totally hated by many critics, but because it had a microscopic budget, it technically wasn’t a flop so there’s that.
8: Frequency - Movies about time travel, or time in general really, are so hard to make without being cliche or full of plot holes. This less sophisticated film makes for some truly interesting time fiction. Story goes that a man fiddling with his deceased dad’s old radio in present day somehow ends up chatting with his dad on it 30 years earlier. What follows is a sort of reverse puzzle as their conversations start to alter the timeline and the cost that comes with such things starts to catch up to them. It’s a drama-turned thriller that’s sure to keep you interested.
7: The Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick) - I get why these movies don't have the best reviews. Chronicles of Riddick is kinda all over the place and Riddick is more or less a copy of the plot of Pitch Black, but Riddick himself is a compelling character who deserves a standing place among the best and most unique science fiction personalities. Pitch Black was more of a fluke than anything else. It was an awesome sci-fi horror film that just happened to feature Riddick caught in the fray. Chronicles attempted to expand the background of this world and Riddicks character, which turned out to be tougher than they thought. Finally a third film, ironically just called Riddick, was made. Unfortunately this turned out to be yet another setup film as fans continue to wait for Riddick to ever get an origin story or any kind of closure. Still a fun and well made film though. Overall its another fun franchise with some great moments.
6: My Fellow Americans - A simple mid-90’s comedy. 2 ex presidents (one from each side of the political spectrum) are caught up in a scandal that forces them to go on the run together before being killed as part of the cover up. Along the way, there’s a lot of playful jabs at both sides while also seriously reflecting on issues of the times. Some of those issues are still prevalent today. The reason it’s on here is because it’s fun. This kinda movie would be impossible to make these days, as it would cause more arguments than laughs in the current political climate. The news outlets alone would go for months trying to analyze one side or the other, throwing accusations like ninja stars. This movie is the opposite of divisive, and it’s funny in the process. Well worth a watch.
5: Titan A.E. - Easily the best non-disney animated feature of my youth. Done by the same people that did Land Before TIme, this movie is about humanity having to carry on without Earth, which was destroyed by the usual “kill all the things” type of alien race. The story revolves around a man trying to find his father and than ship he vanished with, as it’s rumored to be the last hope for humanity before we go extinct. Some very good voice acting performances from the likes of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Nathan Lane mixed with a great soundtrack and some solid action sequences makes this one of the best animated films of the last 20 years. Well worth looking into if you haven’t seen it.
4: G.I. Joe 1 and 2 - “Why they’d even bother making these? They are just doing the exact same type of thing as with Transformers...” Yea but G.I. Joe does it SO MUCH BETTER. All of the characters and weapons and vehicles are callbacks to the toys and the comics and the cartoon, and for me that was huge because I had all kinds of Joes stuff. The plot in each film feels like something you’d get from fictions of the 80’s and modernized, as opposed to just taking some CG giant robots and going “Hey look, Transformers!” with some of the most awful camerawork that exists on this planet. The plot is also campy at times, but so was the cartoon, doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. Everybody gets their due screentime (Grimlock was in a 165 minute Transformers movie for 4 minutes...) and Cobra Commander is everything you’d want out of that villain. It just feels like the creative team here actually did their homework and put the effort and the public just doesn’t appreciate it because Transformers got out there first. Well worth a watch on a lazy afternoon.
3: The Adjustment Bureau - Based on the short story “Adjustment Team”, the creative team took that concept and ran with it in a way that makes for cinematic poetry to me. The narrative is so entrancing here that I never get bored and I’m glued to it from beginning to end. You genuinely care about virtually all of the characters while wondering what comes next.. Matt Damon is such an out-of-place casting choice for the lead role, but because of that he ends up being absolutely perfect in that role. It’s my favorite Matt Damon movie by far. This film also introduced me to the talents of Anthony Mackie and now I want him to be in every movie ever (He is also the best choice ever to play the the Falcon in the Marvel films. Fact.). This film actually wasn’t panned by critics, and even got an Oscar nomination, but I bet most of you reading this haven’t seen it...and you totally should.
2: The Fall - This independent film represents the good that comes out letting a movie be art. This movie is a visual masterpiece with an awe-inspiring color scheme and insanely good camerawork. Ironically, the plot is relatively simple. Sometime around the 1920’s, two hospital patients, a man and a little girl, meet and the man tells the little girl a story to pass the time. Doesn’t sound like much on paper, but seeing the story unfold as the man tells it, and the ramifications that come with it lead to a thought provoking and emotional spectacle combined with hard-hitting drama everyone should experience. These types of movies are so rare now that when they come along they cannot be missed. It’s a beautiful movie and I absolutely love it.
1: Sunshine - Amazing damn movie. A claustrophobic, science v faith, science fiction thriller. Again a simple plot. A bunch of scientists on a space station traveling towards sun, to restart it before it goes out. What follows is a visually riveting psychological thriller that is compelling enough to keep you at the edge of your seat. Another great cast, and a stylistic musical score match the beautiful visuals for a well rounded sensory experience (This sounds wicked snobby doesn’t it). The common criticism in modern science fiction is that it lacks tact and originality. I see a good balance of both of those things in this film.
There you have it. 15 great movies to check out that I love dearly. See, I’m not so bad ;)
WARNING: The following review contains obnoxious opinions and strong language
Our favorite heroes have crossed over before, but never like this. The humor was there, the action was there, the character development was better than any previous installment in this universe!…..and the Flash was absolutely incredible, for the first time in a long time. Man I loved Crisis on Earth X…..you know the DC crossover thing on CW last week?
But yeah after I watched all of that, I finally went to see Justice League...which was shit…
Despite hating Zack Snyder movies, and Man of Steel, and Batman V Superman…...and Suicide Squad, I felt it was my responsibility as a comic reader to witness Justice League on the big screen. Regardless of past films, the premiere of such a comic juggernaut deserves at the very least one real cinema viewing. After the very amazing and very kickass Wonder Woman film (Seriously, its fucking fantastic), I was thinking DC may have learned a thing or two from their mistakes and even with Snyder back at the helm, might be ready to move forward. And they did take a step forward……...literally one step……..and it was a tiny one…
SPOILERS AHEAD PEOPLE
- Wonder Woman continues to shine with all the charm and badassery that Gal Gadot brings to the role. Always aces when she is in a movie and Marvel will never match her.
- Superman smiles! He actually smiles! And laughs and tells jokes! You know, like he’s supposed to!
- So Superman returns (See what I did there?) from the dead, and at first kinda can’t remember who he is and proceeds to fight the other members of the team on the spot. This is the best (and in my opinion ONLY) scene in the entire movie and truly reminds the audience that Superman is the greatest there is (Fight me, he’s better than Goku too). There’s a moment where Flash takes a run at him, and Superman looks right at him and matches his speed instantly. I got chills legitimately and cheered. It was great.
- I saw a Green Lantern!...in a flashback...for about 7 seconds…..don’t care, love GL, worth it
- Ben Affleck is a great fuckin Batman....Yes, I remember what I said about him before BvS...I was very very wrong about him...There, you happy now?
- As little Lois Lane in this movie as possible. Good call studio execs, cause she totally sucks.
- Superman raced Flash in a mid-credits scene. I dunno who won. I don’t care. It was great!
- What fucking 1990’s beer/jeans commercial did the writers watch to inspire such a horrible goddamn Aquaman? He sounds like a drunken redneck, uses virtually none of his power, isn't funny and feels completely tacked on. Don’t worry though, he brings with him a giant fork that appears to only grant the power to push some water back for 5 seconds and to stab like 4 things after that. I hated him. Everyone I saw the movie with hated him. Fuck this version of Aquaman, go back to the damn drawing board.
- The CGI in this movie was ABSOLUTE SHIT and the action sequences were chaos with several moments where you have literally cannot see what is happening in a shot.
- Zack Snyder Slow Motion is in the film early and often...very often...hellaciously often. Somebody needs to legit stop him from doing that all the time. It’s worse than JJ Abrams’ lense flair obsession.
- The script appears to have been written on Take Your Child to Work Day. There’s no way this story was drawn up by anybody older than 11. BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN HAD A MORE COMPREHENSIVE PLOT THAN THIS SHIT AND THAT FILM HAD A JAR OF PEE IN IT! No villain development, no balance in the story progression, and the team is formed in the most half-assed way possible and the final action sequence is virtually a ripoff of the Avengers. Everything here just felt lazy, as if they were relying on the action sequences alone to get you through the movie.
- And Batman gets a Mercedes and Wonder Woman gets a Mercedes, MERCEDES FOR EVERYONE...man I hate obnoxious product placement (Yes, I’m nitpicking, that’s kinda my thing)
- I saw a Green Lantern!...in a flashback...for about 7 seconds…..AND THAT WAS ALL LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...no word or setup or even a whisper of the current Green Lantern situation in this universe (despite fans begging for it, despite GL being a founding member of the League, despite his lore being the widest and most interesting AND best fitted for a JL movie. Shall I go on?). DC claims to have a future for GL, but their franchise plans are all written in crayon at this point so we will have to wait and see.
- Batman vehicles went way overboard. We see the return of his admittedly badass bat mobile, but then a giant metal crab thing and a space ship that shot like 500 missiles (Stupidest vehicle I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie). It was ridiculous. It was distracting. It sold toys………..Damn merchandising...
-Lex fucking Luthor weaseled his way into a post credit scene. Eisenberg still sucking righteously in this role, even when you only have to watch it for 60 seconds.
The hardest DC fans will tell you that critics panned this movie due to bias or whatever. Fact of the matter is, critics said it’s a bad movie because it IS a bad movie. Its sloppy and clumsy and feels incomplete. It feels like exactly what most people said, a rushed movie. An unnecessary attempt to catch up to Marvel when they should have been moving at their own pace all along. I’m not gonna lay all of this upon Zack Snyder, for the fault truly belongs to Warner Brothers. Their constant meddling and modifications from start to finish are what damn these movies to the shallow graves in which they find themselves. Justice League itself lost somewhere between 30-60 minutes of footage due to changes. Not saying that would’ve saved the movie, but it’s sure to have poor DC fans shoveling out even more money to buy the inevitable “Unrated Director’s Cut!” of this film when it comes out.
But for once, it's not all bad. There’s one teeny tiny pearl in the pile of mucus and mush. The one thing that does show here is charm. These characters have charisma (however awkward it is at times) and it's the only reason I’m not completely zeroing this movie. There were some genuine moments of joy for me watching this, which tells me that despite WB fucking everything up as usual, they are still moving forward and slowly starting to learn from their errors. One day I’ll be able to go to a DC movie without the dread of wasted time hanging over me, and that movie will probably be Wonder Woman 2...unless the Flash movie resets the whole timeline so they start over….OR they could reveal this world to be the Injustice world and have new good guy versions come and fight them...you laugh but both of those concepts still aren’t as shitty as the script for Justice League.
1 out of 5
Better than a zero
BvS was a zero
This has been one of the most arduous What If's we've ever come up with here at Castwave Studios. This is one that's also very near and dear to my heart, you see the X-Men are my favorite comic book property, hands-down. Every film outing they've ever done, I've been there and consistently disappointed. As I say in the episode recorded live at BoroughCon 2017 that this article accompanies, FOX has a very irritating trait to make a Wolverine film and brand it an X-Men film.
They also attempt to shoehorn in the Phoenix without properly identifying Jean Grey's connection to the cosmic entity. This plays into one of the major issues with starting the X-Men in films, there is too much to establish to fit into a 90 minute film. In most cases, Fox condenses it down to its most basic level (just introducing your main characters essentially) and having it heavily rely on Logan to carry it through to the end. It's a broken formula that has been repeated too many times and it needs to stop.
Enter Kevin Feige, the producer of many of the MCU's films. He has stated in interviews that he would like to see the X-Men introduced as part of the MCU, if possible. With this in mind, Castwave Studios is proud to present...
The season 1 outline would be Professor Xavier attempting to train the original class of X-Men in the MCU timeline (pre-Avengers). The team would consist of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel. Professor Xavier is attempting to create a society in which humans co-exist with mutants. Each member of the team in their own way come around to the concept of the team, but not before handling the own personal problems and the new idea of species-ism. Magneto would be the villain behind the scenes, building his own team after his initial defeat at the hands of the X-Men.
The season 1 timeline falls between just after the events of Iron Man (2008), Incredible Hulk (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010).
This is a list of actors that I feel fit the roles, both physically and in terms of acting ability as well. We also tried our best to make sure that there was no cross over between any existing MCU property.
Professor Charles Xavier
Played by Kevin Spacey
This seems like a no-brainer, the man has the acting range to play any role EVER. We've seen that he can adapt to a role in a comic book universe (being one of the only positives from Superman Returns) and being one in a select cast of actors who can rock the bald look. He also has a good working relationship with Netflix (see House of Cards) which will help come casting time. He would be my first and only pick for the world's greatest telepath.
Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr)
Played by Peter Capaldi
This might seem like a misstep, but hear me out. Peter Calpaldi's run as the Doctor has shown the drastic change from happy, goofy Matt Smith to his grim, stoic-faced realist which coincidentally mirrors Magneto's personality when it comes to the relationship between humanity and mutants. Capaldi's almost haggard-like visage is reminiscent of Magneto eyes in the first issue of Uncanny X-Men #1.
The only question is, could he lose the thick Scottish brogue we've all become accustomed to?
Played by Alex Pettyfer (Cyclops), Chad Michael Jamian (Iceman), Liam Hemsworth (Angel), Nicholas Hoult (Beast) and Rose Leslie (Marvel Girl)
Each of these actors were chosen based on their performances and strengths they would bring to the table to better suit the characters in question. Alex Pettyfer's performance in I Am Number Four proves that he can play Cyclops, the X-Men's tactical leader, Chad Jamian's awkward comedic style is a perfect fit for Bobby Drake's personality, Liam Hemsworth has got the looks and acting chops to pull off the high-flying playboy Warren Worthington the Third. Nicholas Hoult has proven that he is Henry McCoy in the First Class series, except now he'll be able to expand upon the character prior to his blue period. Rose Leslie showed her tough side in Game of Thrones, which will add a much needed dimension to Jean Grey's Marvel Girl.
Played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Mastermind), Jorge Garcia (The Blob) and Jack Gleeson (Toad)
These choices were more based on their looks, but to be fair all of these actors would be able to bring a better performance to these roles than any previous iterations. Meyers has the definite creep factor as portrayed in Dracula and The Tudors. Garcia's portyal of Hurley on Lost may have started as a comic relief, but became more serious as the series drew to a close. Jack Gleeson's time as Joffrey on Game of Thrones made him into a character everyone loved to hate. Even though he's not acting full-time anymore, I feel he'd be the actor to give Toad the depth he's been sorely lacking.
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Logan Paul as Alex Summers Tom Hardy as Cain Marko/Juggernaut, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
By introducing these characters, we need to include other members of the MCU in order to get the X-Men adjusted into the timeline properly. Since the original X-Men series had Xavier liaising with the FBI, swap out organization and have the X-Men as a squad of deputized SHIELD agents directly working with Nick Fury, Agent Coulson can act as their liaison if we can't get Sam Jackson for more than one or two cameos. Tony Stark being the foremost expert on robotics would be our assist character when the Sentinels start to appear. Tom Hardy would a perfect fit for the embodiment of rage known as Cain Marko (see Bronson). Justin Hammer obviously is still looking for some form of tech to get a leg up over Stark, which he thinks he might have found in the Sentinels.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 1:
2008: Jean Grey arrives at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning and is introduced to Professor Charles Xavier and his current class of students, Scott Summers, Robert Drake, Henry McCoy and Warren Worthington III. Xavier explains to Jean that while the school is legitimate private school, it serves a dual purpose. Xavier's goal in life is to create a society in which mutants and humans can live together harmoniously. Xavier tells Jean that as a student of the school, she would not only receive an education, but also combat and survival training, so that she and the others can help society and prove that mutants are not a threat, but a benefit to society.
Jean is shown around the school by Xavier and Scott, who is seemingly interested in her. Xavier has her watch then later, join a training session in the Danger Room and she is impressed by the team's cohesion, and they are impressed by her use of telekinesis. After, she tells Scott that she is unsure if she can make the cut. Scott attempts to advise her that it is an opportunity for them all to do good in whatever way possible and she'll know when the time is right. Xavier beckons them telling them that Magneto has been spotted in the city. Jean asks who Magneto is, they explain that Magneto is a mutant terrorist whose sole purpose is to enslave mankind and make mutants the rulers of the planet. Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman suit up and leave to fight Magneto.
Magneto is attempting to steal munitions from an Army base and the armed forces are finding themselves outmatched due to his magnetic powers. The X-Men arrive and tell the Army leadership to pull their men out and give them a chance to take down Magneto. The army gives them 30 minutes to do it or they will bombard the base to prevent Magneto getting what he wants. The team storms the base and starts fighting the villain. Magneto, due to the availability of metal on base, quickly gains an upper hand against them.
Jean asks the Professor if she can go to help them, he tells her no, as she has had no training whatsoever and would only end up getting hurt. Jean leaves and goes down to the team's quarters and sees a uniform made for her with a note from the others, welcoming her to the team. Jean suits up and steals Scott's motorcycle and drives off, Xavier simply grumbles "Teenagers."
Meanwhile, the team is able to regroup and starts throwing Magneto off by coming up with their strategies of the fly. The Army getting impatient, decides to shell the base prematurely. The shells stop short of Magneto, who gathers them all together to throw back at the Army, when out of nowhere, a motorcycle smashes into Magneto causing the shells to drop and explode. Jean floats down using her telekinesis and asks "Got room for one more?" The X-Men hear the sound of rubble starting to move and turn to face their enemy as a team. <Credits>
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 2:
We open the episode where Episode 1 left off. Magneto emerges from the rubble agitated, but relatively unharmed. He then takes control of the missiles stored within the compound and through sheer will targets them at the team. Slowly, but surely they are able to destroy them one by one. Bobby disables four of them by freezing the nosecones, which deactivate the warheads' computers. The fifth missile locks onto Angel who eludes it with aerial maneuvering until Beast catches it and Marvel Girl deflects it into the ocean.
Angel finds Magneto who waylays him with a steel pylon, the others soon arrive and begin dodging through a hail of metal again. Magneto escapes during this and disable a fuel truck and hurls it at the team. Iceman instinctively throws up a ice wall which is destroyed by the exploding fuel truck. Magneto seeing nothing but the remnants of the ice wall, gloats that he's destroyed them. Cyclops blasts out the ground from underneath them and Magneto is knocked off his feet.
Magneto pulls a bunch of metal together to form a rudimentary shield and levitates away, screaming that he'll find them and make them pay for this. The team celebrates this victory and returns to the commanding officer of the base advising their base has been cleared. The commanding officer orders them arrested for destruction of U.S. Government property, they protest saying that they would've been killed if not for them. The officer orders his men to move in and arrest them. Marvel Girl levitates them all and drops them back onto the base. In the ensuing fracas, they are able to escape.
When they return to the mansion, Xavier berates them for being so careless when it came to Magneto. He tells them they must treat every battle like life and death, as they enemies aren't looking for prisoners. Jean apologizes and tells the Professor that she will leave as she directly disobeyed him. Scott steps forward and says that if Jean leaves than he will as well, to the surprise of everyone. Scott says even though they had all trained and drilled for months, it was Jean's intervention that saved them. Xavier relents and says that his heated comments was due to his concern, he states that Jean was correct in her actions, if a little rash. Xavier asks Jean to stay on at the school to continue with them. She agrees.
We then cut to Magneto, who is in hiding after his defeat. He starts recording a video to send to world governments everywhere, his message is one of fear. He says that he will destroy the world of man and lead a brand new age of mutants to peace. He closes saying the children who defeated him have stopped nothing and that they wont be so lucky next time. <Credits>
Professor Xavier is watching the message that Magneto recorded, looking very seriously at it. Someone clear their throat, they step out from behind the corner. It is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who asks Professor Xavier what he knows about Magneto, Xavier tells him that Magneto is dangerous to every person on the planet, man or mutant. Fury states that he has a proposition for him, Xavier tells him he isn't interested in the Avengers Initiative. He instead offers him an alternative which he calls "The X-Men", a deputized squad of mutants to police mutants, sanctioned by S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 3:
Xavier and Fury tells the group that S.H.I.E.L.D has agreed to their terms and will deputize them as a squad of agents under the government's purview. Fury also tells them that he has smoothed over the issue of their arrest at the army base. He tells them that they must maintain anonymity as S.H.I.E.L.D will disavow all knowledge of their operations, if they are caught or captured. Fury tells them that the existence of mutants must be kept under wraps for the short term as the general population are not ready to learn the humanity is evolving beyond their current status (due to the Hulk incident).
The students ask if they can recruit any mutants they come across who might share their ideals. Fury agrees, but tells them to use their best judgement. Xavier grants them a day off and urges them to enjoy themselves. Scott suggests they go in town check out a movie, the others agree. They arrive in town to see a TV show being filmed, daring people to see if they can beat The Blob. After watching a few of the townsfolk fail, Hank thinks he might have what it takes. Hank does much better than the others, but still fails to beat the Blob. Scott notices a few things about the Blob while he fights and thinks he might be a mutant. The Blob ends his show and is berated for not drawing a larger crowd by the director, claiming that he is becoming a fading novelty.
Later in the evening, Scott has found the hotel where the Blob is staying and tells him that he knows what the Blob is. The Blob gets defensive and attacks him, Scott knocks him back with an optic blast. The Blob realizes he isn't there to out him and asks what he wants. Scott tells him of the school where he would be welcomed as an equal. He goes to the school and Xavier explains their mission, Blob sees Hank and laughs. Saying if that's the caliber of teammate to expect, he's not interested. Xavier beckons the X-Men to stop him. Bobby quickly encases his leg in a block of ice, when the Blob smashes easily. Hank lunges at him, only to be caught and flung at Xavier. Jean catches him with her telekinesis in mid-air and the Blob is able to escape.
Scott seems despondent at the fact that the first mutant they meet is uninterested in joining them. He laments if all future attempts will go this way. Xavier tells Scott that he tried his best, and that no one is perfect. It's how he'll learn from this and move on that's important. Hank runs into the room and tells Scott and Xavier that the Blob has taken his director and crew hostage and threatens to kill them, if his demands are not met. The team mobilizes and enters the building from the roof while Xavier is out front of the building and Blob offers a hostage in exchange to speak with him alone. Xavier telepathically convinces the agent in command to allow this.
The X-Men break into the room where the Blob is, they see Xavier in the room and are unsure why he put himself in harm's way. The Blob informs Xavier that he's decided to tell the world what he is and how he is better than anyone else. Xavier tells him he can't allow that as humanity isn't ready for that revelation yet. Blob says there's nothing Xavier can do to stop him, Xavier then mind-wipes Blob and the film crew of the last 24 hours. Xavier then implants the idea of a gas leak in the building into the minds of the response teams outside, they grab all the camera equipment and dispose any evidence of the kidnapping.
Back at the school, Fury tells them that this is exactly what he was talking about, that they should only reveal the true existence of the school and the team's mission, only if the person in question is deemed trustworthy enough. He also suggests a good way to gauge that is to have more pupils come to the school and test them accordingly. Xavier agrees and says he has just the way to do it. He leads the X-Men to a room and when the lights come up, they see a lit-up console with a helmet (Cerebro). <Credits>
The Blob is unpacking his things in motel, presumably in another town, his director is telling him about his next show when we see the room start to shake. The wall rips out and Magneto glides in with another person, the director starts to yell, but the other figure's eyes glow and he commands him to sleep. Blob demands to know who they are and what they want, Magneto introduces himself and his cohort Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind), as for why they are there, he says "to show you the truth". Wyngarde's eyes light up again as does Blob's, along with brief glimpses of what had just happened in the episode. Blob, visibly angry, asks Magneto what he wants of him. Magneto smiles and says "to take your place at the top of the mountain".
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 4:
Scott is tossing and turning at night, we see he is having a nightmare. He is in a plane with his mother, father and brother, the plane is on fire and Scott's mother is placing the only parachute around him and his brother. We then see their mother kiss them goodbye and push them out of the plane. Scott wakes up screaming, realizing he was dreaming, he goes downstairs for a drink. Jean and Warren are downstairs as well ask if he's OK. He says he is, Warren accepts this, but Jean seems unconvinced.
She goes to the Professor later asking him about Scott, he tells her the story of how he found him. He was an orphan and picked on, until one day his mutant ability manifested. Xavier adopted him and took him in, making him the first student of the institute. Scott overhears this and tries to remember certain things about his past, but is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Bobby, Warren and Hank are in town, when they see a teenage boy getting picked on for being different. They fight the crowd off and berate them for acting in such a way, one of them cheap-shots Hank. Hank picks him up off of the ground and almost punches him. Warren and Bobby have to pry him down and the gang runs away. The kid thanks them and runs off, Bobby and Warren ask if Hank is OK, he grumbles he is and storms off.
Back at the mansion, Jean is asking Scott about his past. Scott says he can only remember so much, mostly from his time at the orphanage onward. He says that he's been having this reoccurring nightmare, but can't figure out why. Jean asks to try something, she puts her hands over either side of his head and tells him to concentrate on the nightmare. Jean is able to find the memory in its entirety, Scott was flying with his family until their plane was fired upon. Scott's mother threw him and his brother out of the plane, so they could survive. She tells Scott to look after his brother and protect him. On their decent, when they were 50-60 feet off of the ground, the parachute, weakened by fire caused them to veer sharply into the trees. Scott's head struck a few limbs and knocked him unconscious. This causes Jean to break her psychic link with Scott, Scott was unaware that Jean also had the ability to read minds. She says that the Professor saw she had that ability and had been teaching her how to develop it. Scott thanks her and goes to the Professor and asks him if he knows where his brother is.
Later, Hank is at a bar and the assailants from earlier arrive and start to harass him. Hank turns and says they aren't worth his time and walks away. He steps outside and is smacked in the head with a beer bottle and is drug into an alley. They tell him that the kid they were chasing was a freak of nature and they were trying to make things right in the world. They tell him that only true friends of humanity have the right to pass judgement. The start to beat on Hank, until Warren and Bobby show up in their uniforms, minus the X-logos. Warren picks two of the thugs up and drops them in a dumpster. Bobby turns to an icy form before the others' eyes and threatens to do the same to them, they run off. Hank catches the leader and tell him that any friend of humanity wouldn't discriminate those who are different. He then throws him up into the air where Warren catches him and drops him in the same dumpster as the others. Bobby then freezes it shut and they all walk off together laughing.
They arrive back at the X-Mansion, and Xavier questions them due to Hank's injuries, they explain and Xavier is not pleased, but understands their actions. He tells Hank that he is proud of not using his powers to fight back, but only to defend himself and others. Hank said it had been close and that if Warren and Bobby hadn't stop he wasn't sure what he might have done. Xavier tells him that if he remembers that going forward, he'll know what to do in future.
Scott is in his bedroom reading the file that Xavier gave him, there are pictures of Alex, as a child and as an adult. He flips through and sees he's currently in college in Virginia. Jean clears her throat, and says that Virginia isn't that far of a drive and jingles a set of keys. Scott smiles and closes the folder. <Credits>
Magneto is sitting in his hideout with Mastermind and taking a look at some CC footage, in the video they see a young man resembling Alex Summers being taken against his will, along with a young girl. He grins and tells Mastermind to prepare their accommodations for their guests. Mastermind flips on the lights to show a table with shackles and various torture implements.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 5:
The team are all driving down to Virginia to accompany Scott to see his brother. Xavier is coming along to explain the situation to Alex's adoptive parents. They arrive to find that Alex and his adoptive sister Haley have both been kidnapped in the night. The parents are watching a tape that was left in Alex's bedroom. It is Magneto, who says he has captured Alex as he will mold him into a savior for the mutant race. He says he has also taken Haley as an insurance policy to ensure Alex's compliance. Xavier mind-wipes the parents and tells the X-Men that they'll have to find them before it's too late. Scott asks how they'll be able to find them without getting the police involved. Xavier says he has a plan.
Meanwhile, Magneto has Alex strapped to a table and tells him that he has taken him to unlock his potential. Alex says he doesn't know what he's talking about. Magneto tells him he is a mutant and he will help lead them to a new future in which their existence doesn't have to remain hidden. Alex asks Magneto to let his sister go, Magneto starts to bend the metal of the table to stretch and pierce Alex's skin. He tells him that if he does not join them, he will kill the girl. Magneto gives him 24 hours to think it over.
Xavier has brought a portable version of Cerebro with him, but advises that it's range is limited to within a few hundred miles. He tells Scott to open his mind and concentrate on Alex. Xavier finds him, but is unable to see who is holding him, due to Magneto's helmet and Mastermind's psionic powers. Xavier leads them to the hideout and attempts to reach into the minds of whose holding Alex.
Mastermind senses Xavier's presence and alerts Magneto. Magneto, relishing another encounter with them, tells Mastermind to continue working Alex until he breaks. Magneto comes up through the building and tells the X-Men to stand down as they cannot stop him from his quest. The X-Men spring into action and hold Magneto at bay. Mastermind decides to go another route in torturing Alex. He lets Alex out of his restraints and then allows him to wander the complex, he then sees his sister in the hallway. Suddenly, Cyclops appears of nowhere and cuts her down with an optic blast. Alex runs to her and cradles her dying body, suddenly his body starts to flair up with energy and he blasts at Cyclops who disintegrates into nothing. He looks up in the floor that Magneto left behind and blasts his way up.
Alex blasts up through the ground and Scott calls out to him by his name, Alex then throws a beam at him, which Scott is able to match with one of his optic blasts. This knocks them both down, Magneto begins to laugh, asking them if they are ready for the end. Alex gets back to his feet and we see him start to radiate pure energy, he sees Scott and the others and Alex starts screaming at them. Magneto, surveying from above, looks on and says "Cry havok and let slip the dogs of war..." <Credits>
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 6:
We open to the battle between Alex Summers and the X-Men, with Alex throwing multiple energy bolts at Scott. Scott picks them as best he can, meanwhile Angel, Beast and Iceman engage Magneto. Marvel Girl is using her telekinesis, deflecting any attacks hurled towards the Professor. Professor Xavier uses his mental powers to locate Haley, he sends Jean after her to rescue her.
Professor Xavier reaches into Alex's mind and attempts to calm him, Alex yells at him to get out of his head and unleashes a energy blast which cause the earth to shake. Professor X is caught off guard and break the link to Alex, sensing an opportunity, Alex unleashes another blast at the Professor. Scott jumps in front of it to protect his mentor. He is knocked back and part of his uniform is burnt away. Xavier then shows Alex that Scott is his brother, Alex stops his rampage, confused at what has happened.
Meanwhile Jean is using her newfound psychic powers to locate Haley in the underground complex. Mastermind sees her and decides to toy with her psyche. He creates an illusion of late 1800's France, where Jean is the Madame de Pompadour and he the King of France. This scenario plays out for a few moments until Jean sees the Professor sitting in the crowd. Mastermind turns to see what she's looking at and Jean drops some debris on him, knocking him unconscious.
Alex attempts to revive Scott realizing he might have seriously hurt him, he asks Xavier why Scott would kill his sister. Xavier tells him that was an illusion created by Magneto's cohorts and that his sister is still alive and well. The other X-Men who have been keeping Magneto at bay are broken through by the villain. Alex begins to power up, but Xavier stops him. Xavier then calls to Magneto telling him to stop this madness. Magneto comes down and tells Charles that this isn't like the old days, that the time for diplomacy has long passed. Xavier tells him he's sorry about the past and its not too late and that together, they can bring about a difference. The X-Men are confused as they were unaware Xavier and Magneto knew each other.
Jean finds Haley in one of the underground cells, scared, but unharmed. She tells Haley that she's her to set her and her brother free. Haley asks her if she knows her brother. She she knows him through his brother, Haley accepts this and decides to go with her.
Magneto says that he appreciates the offer, but he cannot stop the tide he has created and tells Xavier not to get in his way anymore. He then rockets Xavier back into his students. Alex strikes him with an energy beam and berates him for trying to kill an innocent. Magneto said he would kill a thousand humans to save one mutant life. Magneto gathers debris to throw at Alex, saying if he is unwilling to assist Magneto, that he has become expendable. Scott blasts Magneto with a blast from his visor, this knocks Magneto back to the ground. Scott and Alex use their powers to weaken Magneto.
As Magneto's power starts to wane, Jean brings Haley above ground. Alex sees them and is momentarily distracted, Magneto send a girder flying their way and Jean stops it and throws it aside. Alex and Scott turn to renew their combined attack, but Magneto has escaped. As Xavier attempts to locate the others, Mastermind uses his powers to help their escape. Haley and Alex are re-united, Scott walks up and asks Alex if he's OK. Alex hugs him and tells him he's never been better.
They return Alex to his family's home and Xavier tells Alex that he can wipe Haley's mind of the incident same as his foster parents. Haley says she doesn't want to forget that her brother is a hero, Alex says its fine as long as Haley can keep it a secret. Xavier asks Alex if he'd like to join the X-Men, handing him a card. Alex declines, but says if he's changes his mind, its nice knowing he has a place to go. Alex and Scott embrace once again. Scott tells Alex not to be a stranger.
The team is driving back to New York, but are somber. Xavier says he knows they want to ask him something, so they should just ask. Scott asks him what his relationship is to Magneto, Xavier says he was the closest thing he had to a brother. The X-Men ask for more, he says its a long story. <Credits>
Magneto is nursing his wounds after this last encounter, Mastermind is sitting in the corner and whispering to himself, we only faintly hear the words "my Red Queen...". Magneto walks over to a trunk, which he opens and it is filled with personal effects. One item is an ornate picture frame, which he picks up and looks at. It is a picture of him, Xavier and a woman with a child, Magneto takes his finger and strokes the picture where the woman and child are, you see a single tear drip on to the picture. The frame then bends and cracks and Magneto embeds it into the wall.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 7:
The X-Men have returned to the institute late at night, when they enter the building, there are two figures waiting for them. Scott and Hank step forward and the figures advise that they are SHIELD agents and for them to stand down. Xavier asks them if something is wrong and the figures state that Director Fury has asked them to bring them in under protective custody. Xavier attempts to scan their minds, but finds nothing. Xavier states that this is a ruse.
The figures attack and tase Scott and Hank, Bobby throws an iceball at one and the figure appears to short-circuit. The other figure tases Bobby and Jean picks up the disabled figure and throws him into the other. They asks Xavier what they are while Jean looks over them, only to have one pop-up only to have it head blown off by an arriving Nick Fury. Fury tells them that these are failed decoys SHIELD had created to help in situation where assassinations were a possibility. The X-Men ask how these were failures when they looked so lifelike, he said they could perform tasks easily enough, but failed the Voight-Kampff test. It seems someone is re-purposing these droids to a new purpose, searching out and destroying mutants.
Fury tells Xavier that they have found a few mutants and were compiling a list so that Xavier could reach out to them. He gives Xavier the list and tells him to help them and to find the rogue re-purposing these machines. They ask if Magneto could have anything to do with this, Xavier says it's doubtful. They take the short-circuited figure and start to disassemble him, Fury says he has a specialist that can come in and take a look to help out, Tony Stark.
Stark arrives and says while the facial reconstruction tech that SHIELD uses is great, the robots being used are not true AI. They have too simplistic a sub-routine to improvise. The X-Men tell him the story that the droids made up earlier, he says then someone must have been running it on manual at that point. Tony says to give him a few minutes to run diagnostics and he'll be able to find the person responsible.
Stark says that its coming back to Bolivar Trask, former anthropologist and SHIELD robotics engineer. He was on the LMD project, so he would have access to re-purpose them. Stark says he's published a number of articles in the past about how some evolution in the human race could be cause for concern. He also mentions a debate that Xavier and Trask had, Xavier senses that Stark is aware of mutants' existence and is looking to hold this over Fury for leverage at a later time. Stark says he appreciates them coming to them and excuses himself. Xavier mind-wipes Tony of the existence of mutants, the Institute and his team. He tells Fury not to worry as Stark wont remember them, only that he assisted SHIELD in the matter.
Xavier tells the team to prepare for the upcoming battle by looking at the robot's construction and blueprints. He also tells them that this is a far different battle than anything they've faced up to this point. <Credits>
We cut to a factory where two men are walking down a construction line and discussing the future of the Sentinel program. We see Bolivar Trask, thanking Justin Hammer for his assistance in furnishing weaponry to assist with his re-purposed LMD's. Hammer tells him he's more than happy to help as long as Trask continues to come to him for any of his munitions needs. They arrive at a lever which Trask moves, lighting up the rest of the factory. We see hundreds of Sentinels being built and Hammer excitably giggling at this prospect.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 8:
We open to an average home and see Bolivar Trask reading the paper, while his son plays in the background. Trask's wife appears and asks where their daughter is. Trask tells her she is out front grabbing the mail, his wife says she already grabbed it and will call her back in. We see the child in the living room start to say no and attempt to grab his mother's attention. When Trask goes in to see what's wrong, the boy tells him to save his mother quickly. Then, an explosion rips through the living room window and knocks both father and son out. He gets up quickly and sees his wife under rubble, he attempts to revive her and she awakens to say "Tanya..." before dying. He looks out to see no sign of his daughter.
He returns to see his son crying in the living room, he asks him how he knew something was wrong. The son replies he did not know how he knew. Trask gets upset and picks him up and start shaking him and screaming for him to tell him how he knew. We cut to the future and see Trask in his factory creating more of the robots which he has dubbed Sentinels. The only other human we see in the factory is a teenager, checking the machinery for any malfunctions. Trask calls out to him, it is his son, Larry. He tells him to shut down the line for the day. Larry goes up to the mainframe which lists as Mastermold and shuts down the line.
We cut to the X-Men, who have gathered with Xavier as he discusses what information he got from the damaged Sentinel models. Apparently, Trask has set these robots on one course, to seek and destroy mutants. They were able to find their point of origin by breaking down the Sentinel's list of subroutines. They decide the best course of action would be to go to the factory and disable Trask's ability produce the Sentinels, then place him under arrest.
They arrive at the factory and see the amount of Sentinels that have been created already, they attempt to sneak around to find the mainframe, but set off a trip alarm and the Sentinels activate and start an attempt to capture the X-Men. The X-Men are on much more even footing since they have the ability to improvise and make due with destroying most of the created Sentinels. Trask and his son arrive onto the scene to find most of the Sentinels destroyed. Trask runs in to save what he can while his son yells at him to come back as a premonition comes over him, telling him his father will be killed.
Trask makes a run for the control mainframe and is able to make a copy of a Mastermold system before a damaged Sentinel crashes through the window and attempts to kill him, mistaking him for a mutant. Trask is able to escape, but sees that his son is being targeted by another Sentinel. He bashes the Sentinel with a piece of broken equipment only for the Sentinel to punch into some other broken machinery and wound him fatally. The sentinel returns to Larry and is set upon by Beast, who makes quick work of him. Trask weakly calls his son over and tells him he was sorry and that he was wrong. He gives him the flash drive with the Mastermold system and tells him to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands, Trask then dies.
The X-Men are able to dispatch the remaining Sentinels, but are unable to find Larry after they find Trask's body. They contact Nick Fury and tell him that the Sentinels won't be a problem anymore. They leave, with Larry watching on from the bushes, swearing revenge for his father's death. <Credits>
We see Larry sitting in the family home, similar to the beginning of the episode. He is having a vision of the future and sees new Sentinels, though much larger are wreaking havoc all over the planet. He sees mutants are still around and fighting them desperately. He sees a person being cut down by an assassin's bullet, but cannot see who is killed or who is responsible.
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 9:
We start the episode with the X-Men sitting around the X-Mansion, attempting to relax and mulling over everything that's happened thus far. Xavier tells them that they have done a great deal, Bobby retorts that it doesn't seem like it, based on that they feel lousy. Xavier says that they have done the best they could given the circumstances, also things could have ended up quite worse had they not intervened. Scott says the Professor is right and they can hope for the better in the future, the others are buoyed by this a little. Scott asks the Professor if they could have some time off to recharge their batteries. The Professor agrees and suggests a visit to New York City for sightseeing.
The team leaves and Xavier decides to have a relaxing evening at home. A few hours later, he is awoken from a nap by the proximity alerts going off in the mansion, Xavier enables the defenses to protect himself. The defenses go offline, one after the other until all that is left is the steel shield doors. Xavier hits the panic button to tell the X-Men of the issue, this sets off alerts on their watches and they all head back to the mansion from their different locations.
They arrive back to see the front of the mansion smashed in and the upper levels smashed in, Xavier telepathically contacts them and tells them that an intruder is smashing up the mansion in an effort to capture him. He tells them to take the secret passage down to the lower levels, they do and find the Professor holed up in the control room for the Danger Room. He lets them in and explains that the figure broke in and smashed the upper levels in an effort to attack him.
Just then the mysterious figure smashes into the Danger Room and yells for Charles to stop being a coward and face him. Xavier realizes who this figure is and says that it is his half-brother Cain Marko. He gets on the intercom and tells Cain to stop this as he has done nothing to deserve this treatment. Cain yells that he is not Cain Marko, but a Juggernaut, he proceeds to start smashing the Danger Room up, Scott starts a simulation up as a way to keep him off balance and tells the X-Men to head in there to face him. <Credits>
We see that Mastermind and Magneto are seeing this series of events as Mastermind is still in Jean's head. Magneto decides that he will accelerate his plans and tells Mastermind to keep an eye on the situation. Mastermind just continues to mumble "Red Queen... Red Queen."
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 10:
We start this episode at a funeral, we see a young Charles Xavier and his mother mourning the loss of his father. Kurt Marko, his father's co-worker and collaborative partner comforts his mother. Xavier looks unconvinced by Marko's behavior. We skip forward a few years and Xavier's mother is getting Charles ready to meet his new stepbrother, Cain. Charles is nonplussed at the idea of a stepbrother, but his mother asks him to try and accept him for her. Charles hears her thoughts, she believes that Kurt has lost interest in her and has married her strictly for her wealth. Cain arrives and almost instantly treats Charles with disdain, Charles keeps his composure and attempts to be civil. We move ahead again to Charles hearing a stifled argument, he leans in close to the door and hears Cain and Kurt arguing about Cain's behavior.
Kurt tells Cain that he need to be nicer to Charles in the future if he wants to stay around, Cain says he is uninterested in staying and wants his father to pay him a bribe to keep him quiet. Kurt refuses and tells him to earn his keep the old-fashioned way, Cain refutes this by bluntly telling him the only reason he's rich is that he chose not to save Charles' father in order to keep himself safe and in a position to curry his wife's fortune. Kurt flies off the handle and strikes Cain. Cain stumbles back and crashes through the door, showing that Charles was listening in to their conversation. Kurt attempts to calm Charles down, but he runs off and Kurt begins striking Cain again.
We cut back to the present where the X-Men are entering the Danger Room in order to stop Cain Marko. Scott tells the others to stay wary and on their toes for the Danger Room's traps. As he says this, a large pneumatic arm is thrown at them, Beast catches it and sees Marko running at them. He jabs Marko and them clubs him with it, sending Marko back about 40 feet, but still standing. Beast runs at him again with the same arm, Marko catches it and flings him up in the air like a rag-doll, Warren catches him and drops him atop a platform. Marko throws the arm and hit Warren, knocking him unconscious. Jean prevents him from slamming into the ground and puts him out of the way.
Xavier then switches the simulation to one of an jungle undergrowth, in the distance a temple can be seen. Juggernaut yells if Charles feels guilty, Xavier then flashes back to them as twenty-somethings exploring the undergrowth to a similar jungle landscape. They find the temple and start exploring, they find a room with artifacts, one which catches Cain's eye. A large red ruby with some inscriptions on it. Charles tells Cain that they should be careful and not move anything without checking for traps first. Cain says Charles is a coward and to live his life with more flair, Cain picks up the ruby and starts reading the inscription. It begins glowing a bright red and the floor underneath Cain gives way. Charles reaches out and grabs Cain, Cain strains Charles' grip trying to catch the ruby and falls.
We cut back to Marko thrashing the X-Men, Jean tries to use her telepathy to no effect, it seems like the helmet is blocking her ability. She tells the others that maybe if they are able to remove his helmet, they can stop him, Xavier tells them to try this and he will stop Marko. Iceman freezes the floor to put him off balance, Jean and Hank use bits of the Danger Room and knock him off his feet. Scott focuses his concussive blasts on the Juggernaut's eyes which temporarily stop him, he banks another off of a panel and knocks his helmet loose, which Angel swipes. Xavier then takes control of Cain's mind.
Xavier sees how Cain survived the fall, the ruby re-animated him and turned him mad. He blamed Charles for allowing his death to occur and dedicated his life to taking him out. After a few injuries seem to heal instantly, Cain researched the stone and found it to be the Amulet of Cyttorak, granting him strength, speed and invulnerability. The legend also spoke of a suit of armor, which along with the amulet would make the bearer the living embodiment of Cyttorak. Cain stole the armor from a museum and combined them to become the Juggernaut.
Xavier tells the X-Men to stand down and he will take care of Marko, he contacts SHIELD agents to have the armor and amulet placed under lock and key and Marko to be placed in a high-security prison. As the SHIELD team leaves, one of them hands a disk from Director Fury to Xavier and tells him its an urgent situation. They watch the disk and its a video transmission from Magneto. Magneto has taken over the island republic of Santo Marco and plans to cleanse the island to create his own mutant society. He tells them that if the governments of the world attempt to stop him, he will kill millions by changing the magnetic fields of the planet. Xavier tells the team to rest easy for the evening, but tomorrow they will go to stop Magneto. <Credits>
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 11:
The X-Men are preparing for the trip to Santo Marco to stop Magneto's plot. Warren says he's worried if they're going to come back from this one. Jean is confident they will, she adds that it would really suck to die on her birthday. They all wish her a happy birthday and embrace as friends. The Professor tells them that he will allow them to proceed to Santo Marco without him as he is confident that they can handle themselves. They proceed out to Santo Marco in SHIELD-provided hovercraft.
When arrived, Mastermind alerts Magneto to their presence. Magneto knew they were coming and actually wanted it to happen. He created this scenario to rid himself of Xavier's pupils as they would always thwart his plans. He tells his assembled cohorts Blob, Mastermind and Toad that they are stop the X-Men at any cost. Mastermind attempts to trick them with a mental illusion that streets have literally caught fire. Xavier is able to reach Jean and tells her to break the illusion, Jean and Mastermind engage in a telepathic battle which sees Jean emerge as the victor.
They next encounter the Blob, who angered at the loss of his memories at the hands of the X-Men, tells them that he will not rest until they are all dead. Toad then joins the fray and is quite adept at keeping them off guard. Beast and Cyclops then fight the Blob, while Warren, Jean and Bobby attempt to fight Toad. Blob and Beast fight while Cyclops analyzes the Blob's weaknesses and uses his optic blasts to hit The Blob directly in the head which with Beast's blows eventually knock him out.
Toad is giving the others a run for their money and eventually is brought down by Bobby's quick thinking and icing the area where Toad would land and Beast waylaying him. They pick up the villains and bring them to the Palace which Magneto has usurped for his own purposes. They tell Magneto that they want to know where the inhabitants of Santo Marco are, he tells them there were relocated to other islands. He tells them that his only purpose was to draw them out to finish them off once and for all.
Magneto flips a switch, activating a shield and closes off the complex. He raises his arms and which dislodges the palace and part of the island. He raises it into space and brings it into an orbit around Earth. Magneto turns to the X-Men and welcomes them to the new world, his world. <Credits>
The Uncanny X-Men Season 1, Ep. 12:
The episode opens with the X-Men looking out at the planet as the piece of Santo Marco ripped from the Earth now floats in space, guided by Magneto's powers. The X-Men try breaking through the shield, but to no avail. Magneto tells them that they have been a thorn in his side for too long and must be removed from the equation in order to continue his plans. Beast tells him that this asteroid will cause massive damage to Earth's ecosystem due to the change in coastal tides. Magneto tells them that was an added bonus, but his goal is to get rid of them first.
Magneto tells them that his plan is to simply let the oxygen run out for them and have them asphyxiate, then he'll return to Earth and start enacting his plans without any concern of being defeated. Cyclops tells him that if they die, Magneto dies as well. He blasts at the ground underneath the shield and sees a pod of oxygen tanks, which he disables expelling the gas everywhere. Magneto, furious at being foiled again, decides to try killing them in another fashion. Magneto weakens his control on the island and sends it in on a course of re-entry, telling them that he will survive, but they won't.
Jean uses her powers to deflect any major debris and any breaks in the compartment, the rock then flies into the sea. Instead of impacting, Magneto skips it across the ocean for a few miles and has it come to a rest. Thoroughly exhausted, both Jean and Magneto pass out. Scott activates a tracer for SHIELD agents can collect them. They come and grab Magneto, Blob, Toad and Mastermind to incarcerate. The SHIELD agents give them another hovercraft to return home, then leave. The X-Men board the ship and fly towards home, Beast mentions how far off they are from Santo Marco and that the only island around for miles is an uninhabited island called Krakoa. The hovership is then struck by what looks like a fireball, Hank keeps the engines steady and is able to make a crash landing on the island. Scott emerges dazed from the wreckage and pulls the others out, then reactivates his tracer before collapsing. We see plant roots grow and wraparound the others and begin to drag them away. <Credits>
1st After-Credit Sequence:
Fury is at the Xavier mansion, he tells Xavier that they found Cyclops, but no one else. Xavier blames himself for letting them off on their own and not being there. Fury tells him he couldn't have prevented that and tells him he'll help him out however he can. Xavier turns and asks him if he still has that list handy.
2nd After-Credit Sequence:
We cut to the Canadian Rockies, an unspoiled snowy landscape. Suddenly the peace and tranquility is broken by a body impacting into a snow drift. The person stands up and starts dusting themselves off, it is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). He pulls pieces of debris from his body and immediately heals. In the distance, we hear a familiar scream of the Hulk. Logan pulls his ripped-up mask back over his face and pops his claws. As he brings them up, in the reflection you see the Hulk running at him like a freight train. Wolverine yells and then lunges. <Cut to black>.
Imagine this with Hugh Jackman and Mark Ruffalo's Hulk. Tell me you wouldn't come back for Season Two.
Interested in seeing this? Go to the Twitter-scape and bombard the accounts of Marvel, Fox, Netflix and Kevin Feige and tell them you want this scenario to play out. Get some of the actors listed here on board! #XMenInTheMCU
I love Doctor Who.
It’s been almost 13 years since I flicked on the old push-knob Zenith television set and adjusted the antennae to pick Maryland Public Television. It was there in the dim glow of the bedroom I heard that familiar wail signifying the beginning of an episode of Doctor Who. Through many of his iterations I have found both great highs and abysmal lows, but it has always kept me entertained (a rare feat in television these days). I always am up to discuss this topic at any time, but I am so rarely afforded such an opportunity.
Luckily for me, I have found a place to call home. A Doctor Who convention located conveniently in my own backyard (Baltimore, specifically). (Re)Generation Who is a yearly convention hosted by Onezumi Events, run by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Oni Hartstein and James Harkness put on two major shows during the year, Intervention (www.interventioncon.com) is a convention focused around the internet and those who create content for it. (Re)Gen, however is a con for those who love the mad fool in a blue box and his crazy adventures.
This year was a bit different than in previous years, we had the luck of being granted a panel to discuss our theories on what an American version of Doctor Who might look like. We had myself, Brian Massey (my co-host), Harkell (Co-Chair of the Convention) and Ben Taylor of TauRadio, who happened to be on the programming committee and did multiple panels of his own. I thought we’d be speaking to a crowd of maybe 10 max, not the 40+ that showed up. It was an amazing feeling to be getting feedback, discussing the possibilities of this Whoniverse with people I’d never met before.
I’ve been to other conventions prior, but none have so heavily focused of the quality of your con experience as much as an Onezumi convention has. Such warmth from a community has never shown more than here. I commend them as well as their staff for putting on one hell of a show. I’ll be at Intervention in September as well as the next (Re)Gen if only to do the sequel to our panel.
If you're interested in listening to our thoughts on what an American Doctor Who might have been like? You can listen to the panel in full here: https://soundcloud.com/castwave-studios/impromptu-who-episode-11-what-ifdoctor-who-was-american
If you'd like to here more of Ben's opinions, give him a listen on TauRadio at www.tauradio.com/
If you'd like to learn about Onezumi Events and the shows they put on, you can check those out at: www.interventioncon.com OR www.regenerationwho.com
So our Sunday evening winds up and we complete our livestream in our charity livestream dedicated to the memory of Lenny B. Robinson (or the Baltimore Batman). To those people who donated and shared our event, we can't even begin to thank you enough. In the end, this was never about money. Sure, we appreciate those donations, so that organizations like Hope for Henry and Superheroes for Kids can still provide valuable services to those children. In the end, we wanted to pay our respects to a great man taken too soon in our small way.
If you still want to donate you can donate at:
Hope for Henry (a charitable organization for Lenny worked with)
Superheroes for Hire (Lenny's Organization, the family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made here:)
Under “Special purpose for donation”, please mark “In memory of Lenny B. Robinson”
If you didn't get a chance to check out the stream here are two of the videos:
CAUTION: There is some explicit language, you have been warned.
Part 1 - Peggle 2
Part 2 - Shovel Knight
A SPECIAL THANKS TO Nick MArinelli of MAGFest, Wes Johnson and Vernon Shaw of Hot Pepper Gaming in helping us promote this!
Pour a 40 on the grounds, my nerds. We have lost one of the greats.
When one thinks of the pioneers of video games, we remember Nolan Bushnell, Alan Alcorn, Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi. One name that isn’t as spoken as often in that pantheon, which is arguably more important than the rest, is Ralph Heinrich Baer. Those who don’t recognize this name should drop to their knees and give thanks, for without him we wouldn’t have gotten this:
Which inadvertently led to this...
Which led to these becoming popular...
Which led to this...
Which has brought us to these...
Ralph Baer was the man who conceived an idea of games being played your television set back in the late 60’s. His Brown Box design was purchased by Magnavox and re-titled the Magnavox Odyssey, the world’s first commercial home gaming console. The first game released for the Odyssey was a little game called “Table Tennis”. Take a look at the world’s first home video-game:
Seem familiar? That’s because Nolan Bushnell in 1972 attended a Magnavox trade show and had an opportunity to play it hands-on. Seeing this demonstration prompted Bushnell to assign Alan Alcorn to create a coin-operated arcade version. Alcorn soon created the arcade machine “Pong” which sparked the demand for arcade machines in the United States. Another interesting fact: Baer and his team also created the first ever game peripheral, the world’s first-ever light gun.
Baer also assisted Coleco with their consoles and well as assisting Magnavox with the Odyssey 2. He later created the popular Milton-Bradley game Simon. It’s amazing to hear about the work that Baer gave to the people of the 80’s and 90’s and surprising that he isn’t mentioned more for his contributions. He even received the National Medal of Technology in 2006, it’s the highest honor that the US can grant for technological progress, for what you ask? FUCKING VIDEO GAMES, that’s what.
So in honor of this man, Castwave Studios will have this picture up on our website and various social media outlets for the next few weeks.
Film written and directed by: John Meyers
| || |
The story begins in Generic Tolkein-esque Fantasy World #9959 where we find young Finn, who’s bored with his lot in life as a Sorcerer’s Apprentice that presumably consists of animating brooms to bale water and putting up with Nic Cage’s constant mugging. After an average day spent faffing about on ancient elven burial grounds, Finn inadvertently attracts the attention of a sinister demon-possessed fairy queen. This is especially bad news to Erline, Finn’s sassy grimalkin friend, who is actually the queen’s runaway daughter polymorphed into the body of a cat. Note: I originally didn’t intend to spoil that plot point here, but come on, look at the box art again. You could just tell that a fairy princess was bound to show up at some point!
the game was an absolute slog. The controls require the PS3-chuk for movement, and the Move itself served as my magic wand, meaning I fired magic missiles by flicking the Move at my targets, meaning I initially missed nine out of every ten shots because magic wands do not come equipped with iron sights. I also strongly disliked the system of exposition for this far-out fantasy universe, consisting of Finn acting like a completely hapless cretin, obliging Erline to explain everything more complicated than breathing to him. I suddenly miss the days when video game characters would hold up signs saying “Read the Manual for Details”. I also suddenly miss the days when video games had manuals. Next came the part of the game that took my well-worn gamer maxim of “When the game tells you where to go, go everywhere else first” and kneed it hard in the groin when I came to a Y-intersection and Will-o-Wisps appeared out of nowhere and beckoned me down the right path. Naturally I went left, upon which a door slammed shut behind me barring my return and Erline perked up, “Protip: Wisps point you in the direction of vitally important magic items”. Hey, Erline! Protip: Screw You! And then there’s the Professor Snape-approved portion of the game where I had to concoct potions to give Finn permanent character buffs. This involved laboriously adding every ingredient one by one to a cauldron through motion gestures (and I swear, potions that call for sprinkling grave dust made me twist my wrist back and forth for what felt like two minutes at a time), then swirling the Move upside down to stir the potion, then shaking the mixture inside the bottle despite the fact that I just stirred it (Bartender, a Potion of Heroic Might, shaken and stirred), and then I could throw the Move back towards my face to simulate drinking it. Any other video game would handle everything I just described with one or two button presses. Is fostering the illusion of performing every single tactile sensation involved in brewing physics-defying cocktails really important enough to risk carpal tunnel syndrome?
P.S. Do you guys remember how Resident Evil 4 had that creepy Australian merchant guy who kept showing up out of thin air to buy and sell your swag? Sorcery has a similar character, except he’s a Scottish dwarf played by Steve Blum. Sorcery: One, RE4: Zero.
[Note: the opinions here do not necessarily represent those of CastWave Studios.]
It is of no concern to me whether you believe me or agree with me. The fact is, I have a compulsion to share my ideas because doing so liberates me from the burden of my own thoughts; if I do not share them, then they take up space in my head and weigh me down. Respect my opinions as I respect yours.
I set out to write a fantasy novel about rock and roll and have discovered that I am instead writing a novel about faith and religion. In a previous essay, "On Failure and Safety Nets," I explained why I do not believe in God. I have concluded that my religious beliefs can be summarized as such: I am an atheist who has faith.
Faith is believing in something without proof that it exists. Madness is believing in something in spite of proof that it does not exist. Many people seem to struggle with the distinction between proof and the absence of proof, so I will say this: the absence of proof proves nothing.
We can all (hopefully) agree that extremists are dangerous regardless of what side they are on. Extremism is not limited merely to those of the religious persuasion. Believing that there is a rational explanation for everything is, simply, irrational. I believe that there are, and always will be, things we cannot explain: the purpose of existence, the nature of consciousness, and what happens when we die, just to name a few. That is what I have faith in. I have faith in the unknown. Therefore, there is nothing irrational about believing in God because, ultimately, it doesn't even matter.
What matters in this world are actions, not beliefs. Being a (insert religion here) does not automatically make you a good person. That seems fairly obvious, right? I'm not saying anything that everyone does not already know here. If your faith causes you to do good and righteous things, then you are a good and righteous, then you are a good and righteous person. If your faith causes you to do hateful things, then you are a hateful person. Nothing written in any book can make you otherwise.
And to those who would argue for moral relativism, allow me to state tenet number two of my personal faith: every sane person has an inherent ability to distinguish right from wrong. Unless you are a sociopath or suffer from some kind of mental illness, you know, deep down, whether your actions are just or unjust (relative, of course, to the values and mores of the culture in which you live). Social, institutional, and cultural implications inside, what allows us to distinguish right from wrong comes not from any explicit code of ethics but from that innate human phenomenon known as empathy (not that other animals don't possess empathy as well). Empathy allows us to detect when another living thing is experiencing pain, and whether or not we are the cause of that pain. Don't look to God to tell you right from wrong. Look inside. Trust your instincts; you know them to be true.
God is simply an idea, but ideas have incredible power - the power to make and unmake the universe, in fact. So when you say you believe in God, you are really saying you believe in the idea of God - and that is equally valid. Of course, ideas are like assholes; everyone has them and most of them stink. Still, one of the greatest things about being human is having ideas and getting to defend them. Just remember that actions speak louder than words.
[There will most likely be a part two to this, to be posted sometime in the not too distant future.]
Now, I know that movie reviewing is really Colin and Sean's joint, but my little brother Adam dragged me to see this movie (by offering to pay for me) and I find myself compelled to offer some thoughts about a film that, while not the worst thing I've ever seen, does represent everything that's wrong with comedy today. And by that, I'm referring to Seth Macfarlane.
Unless your utterly pretentious claim of not owning a television is actually true, then you already know that Seth Macfarlane is the hugely successful writer, comedian, voice actor, and a number of other words that end in "-er" who is responsible for the show Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. And I assure you that I fully intended to use the singular term, "show."
Ted is a movie about a boy named John Bennett who makes a magical Christmas wish that brings his stuffed bear to life. The two vow to remain best friends forever and 27 years later, John is now a directionless tool and Ted is an obnoxious, racist asshole. John has inexplicably managed to gain the love and devotion of Lori Collins, played by Mila Kunis. However, John's immaturity and Ted's insufferable antics are putting a real strain on John and Lori's relationship. How will John be able to choose between his loudmouthed pothead bear and his incredibly attractive, funny, and intelligent girlfriend who makes more money than him and constantly puts up with his bullshit?
Alright, now that I've deconstructed the incredibly complex plot of this film, allow me to explain why, in spite of its huge box office success and bewilderingly positive public and critical reception, this movie is just plain shitty and quite possibly heralds the decline of comedy in cinema as we know it. Now, I don't actually believe that statement, but I do find it quite troubling that so many people enjoy this movie.
I understand of course that humor is completely subjective. So when I tell you that I only laughed at about five lines in the entire two hours of running time, I realize that's not going to be all that helpful to you as a reader and potential viewer. The thing that's troubling to me is why it fails not only as a comedy, but simply as a film.
Seth Macfarlane's idea of humor is pointing at a cute, anthropomorphic character and saying, "Hey look, guys, this thing that shouldn't be talking is making a bunch of pop culture references and saying inappropriate things. Isn't that outrageous?" Let me ask you, if you had a friend and he suddenly made a racist statement about black people or Jewish people, you'd probably just let it slide, right? He probably just didn't realize that wasn't funny. And he did the same thing two or three more times, well he's probably just very slow at picking up on things. But if he continued to make unfunny racist jokes, you'd probably sit him down and say, "Look, Steve, we think you might have some serious issues that need resolving."
Seth Macfarlane apparently does not have any friends that are willing to do this. Look, I'm a really laid-back guy and I don't get offended when someone makes some crack about Jewish people. But the sheer number of times that Seth Macfarlane continues to "poke fun" at the Jewish people in the entertainment he creates is getting even me concerned. There's a scene in this movie where Ted and John, drunk at a party (and by the way that party scene was about three times longer than it needed to be), are discussing their idea to open an Italian restaurant.
"Why would you even bring it up?" "We don't bring it up, we just let him in." Marc pauses, and says, "Um, ok, right, so Jewish people are allowed in." Ted affirms, "Yes. But no Mexicans."
I realize I've already broken my promise of keeping this review brief, so I'll end on this note. Seth Macfarlane is a funny guy. Really, in spite of all I've said, I do think he's a funny guy. Clearly has some issues to resolve, just like our friend Steve, but a clever and witty comedian nonetheless. However, he's a shitty writer. He can't tell a proper story, so he pads it out with extraneous dialogue and Family Guy-style cutaway gags. And the fact that the American public seems generally okay with this offends me far more than any racial slur that Ted spouts off in this movie. As someone who aspires to a career in writing fiction, let me leave Seth with this message that he will never read: no amount of pop culture references can make up for bad storytelling. If you just want to tell jokes, do stand-up. Film is for telling stories.
[A few notes: This post is of a much more personal nature and the opinions stated here do not necessarily represent those of CastWave Studios. Public Allies is an Americorps program that provides young adults with full-time non-profit apprenticeships and rigorous leadership training. It's a great program and I urge you to learn more about it here.]
I no longer fear failure. We’re old friends, failure and me. I experience it day after day, month after month, year after year. This may come as a surprise to those who assume I have my shit together, that I am deserving of praise for the things I have accomplished: college graduate, straight-A student, Eagle Scout, respected by my friends and peers. But if I get to decide what constitutes success for me, then I should also get to decide what constitutes failure, and in spite of whatever accolades I may have garnered, believe me when I say this – I am, or more accurately, have been a failure. Here’s the thing, though - defeat is permanent, but failure is only temporary. Failure is an action, but defeat is a state of being –and we are only defeated when we admit defeat.
So why am I a failure? Because day after day, month after month, year after year, I have failed to be the thing that I know, deep down, that I am meant to be: a writer. I have wanted to be the next Stephen King since I first learned who Stephen King was, and yet, almost 20 years later, I have yet to finish even a single novel. I’ve started and abandoned many, and dreamed up countless more, but I’ve never finished a single one.
People like my dad and my brothers always ask me, “What happens if you fail?” No one ever asks me, “What happens if you succeed?” This fear of failure, coupled with the idea that I need to be “realistic,” has driven me to do many things that have moved me further away from goal rather than closer to it. It drove me to major in Mechanical Engineering, then it drove me to major in Computer Science, and – sad to say it – it is what drove me to do Public Allies. I think that in spite of whatever reasons I gave about social justice and helping the community I may have initially given, the real reason I joined was because even a nebulous notion of “working for a non-profit” seemed like a more reasonable life plan than being a writer.
Well, I’m done being reasonable and I’m done being realistic. It’s time for me to admit that writing is more than just a hobby, it is my career, and it is the only career that I will ever be happy doing. I’m sure that, phrased like that, that statement becomes immediately obvious and straightforward, but you have no idea how long it’s taken for me, thickheaded as I am, to finally appreciate a fact that millions of people before me have already realized – that your day job and your career are not the same thing, that in fact they may have absolutely nothing to do with one another. And that’s totally okay.
I am not “destined” for anything. I decide my life’s purpose, not society or fate or the intractable whims of an invisible deity who expects me to live in service of him. I have no personal lord and savior, and I have no interest in preserving the status quo. The truth is that there is no status quo. The only constant is change, and you can either embrace it or resist it. Or, you can take the third option – you can cause it.
Ten months in Public Allies have exposed my strengths and failures in a way that four years in college did not. I lack the organizational skills and time management skills, not to mention the selfless devotion to the community, necessary to ever achieve anything more than “adequacy” as a non-profit leader. I might become an above average leader, but I will never excel in this field for the same reason that I will never be a good father – frankly, I’m just too self-centered. That is not to say that I don’t care about others; to the contrary, I have a deep and unshakeable faith that there is good in humanity, that even in the darkest corners of the world, hope takes root and stubbornly fight to break through into the light.
I am an observer, standing at the edges on the outside looking in. I often call myself insightful, as do others. Break apart the word insight and look at it literally: “in” and “sight.” To find truth, we gaze within ourselves. We internalize external stimuli and filter them trough that fleshy supercomputer known as the brain in order to distill meaning. This, to me, is the true magic. This is why I do not believe in God, although I certainly do not begrudge anyone their personal beliefs. But allow me to explain what I mean. To look at a world that was created specifically for us by some all-powerful being and call it beautiful is not to appreciate it but simply to state the obvious. But to see beauty in a universe that is chaotic and random, to find meaning in a world that is inherently meaningless – that is what it means to truly appreciate life. We hear a sequence of pitches and rhythms and our brains call it music; we see a bunch of multihued splotches on a canvas and our brains call it artwork. We don’t just perceive patterns; we create them.
Writing is a lot like an iceberg – even though the written word on the page is all we see, it’s only 10% of the process; the other 90% of the process takes place under the surface. The same thing applies to people. I’m a quiet guy, and I tend only to speak when I feel I have something worth saying, but as you might gues, there’s a lot going on inside my head. Often, there’s far too much, in fact. One benefit of Public Allies is that I have gotten better at sharing my ideas and am more focused about my goals.
So what are my goals? Allow me to lay them out: finish a rough draft of my novel by the end of this year. Have a completed final draft by the end of next year. Hopefully, find someone to publish it by the end of 2014. Headline a show for 100 or more people within the next six months. Record my first album by the end of next year. Make CastWave Studios a legitimate business within the next two years. Move to Seattle and become completely independent within the next five years.
Those are unrealistic goals, perhaps, but not unattainable. And what separates me from all the thousands of other people who also want to be published authors, recording musicians, or podcasters with hundreds of thousands of subscribers? Nothing really. I’m sure they all want it just as hard as me. I’m sure most of them are just as talented. The only thing that will separate me in the end is the outcome; I will either succeed or I will die trying. The third option, giving up and relying on my “safety net,” is no real option at all. I will close with this thought: safety nets are dangerous. If you spend your whole life building a safety net, you never actually do the thing you want to do. I’m shredding the safety net. I’m not afraid to fall.
As most people know by now, I am a huge fan of the progressive rock music from the late 1960s through mid-1970s. If the term "progressive rock" (or "prog rock" as I will refer to it henceforth) seems weird and scary to you, then you need to: 1) calm down, because those are just words and words cannot actually hurt you, and 2) click this link and read about this genre at ProgArchives.com, which contains far more information than any reasonable person could ever possibly use. You'll also find reviews, previews, an extremely active forum, and their Top 100 Prog Albums of All Time (and I'm quite proud to say that Close to the Edge by Yes is the #1 album on that list). This site is a great resource if you're looking to dive into the world of 20-minute songs, overly zealous use of keyboards, and complex lyrics about sci-fi and fantasy.
King Crimson, founded in 1968 by Robert Fripp (who has been described by music writer and critic David Kamp as a "Tiny British guitar god of nutty-professor mien") could arguably be credited with inventing the genre of progressive rock practically overnight with their incredibly influential 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King. However, that's not the album I'm going to review today.
No, the album I want to talk about today is their 1981 album Discipline, released after a seven-year hiatus. It combined 80s the new-age sound with the dark and heavy sounds of the 70s. King Crimson has undergone numerous lineup changes throughout their decades-long career and has constantly redefined their sound, but Discipline represented a far greater paradigm shift than any KC album released before or since. The band's previous album, Red (1974), was a magnificent accomplishment considering the band was down to just three members and Fripp, by his own admission, had completely lost his damn mind and genuinely believed that the world was coming to an end. I highly recommend that album as well, and just as a taste I'll throw in a track from Red entitled "Starless," not only the best song on that album but one of the best songs King Crimson ever recorded.
In 1981, Fripp formed a quartet consisting of himself, Bill Bruford (the longtime drummer for both King Crimson and Yes, as well as many other excellent prog bands), bass player Tony Levin (a session musician who has played on 500 albums, and who Sean would know best as the bass player in Liquid Tension Experiment), and singer and guitarist Adrian Belew. Fun fact: this was Robert Fripp's first time ever being in a band with another guitar player. Fripp called this quartet Discipline. Within six months of forming, the group decided to resurrect the King Crimson name.
Now Adrian Belew is a very interesting guy. He has an incredibly unorthodox approach to guitar playing, and is capable of coaxing sounds out of his six-string that sound more like animals and machinery than a musical instrument. In addition, his singing voice sounds eerily similar to that of David Byrne, frontman for the Talking Heads. What's especially interesting about that is that Adrian Belew actually toured extensively with the Talking Heads. Listen to the first track off Discipline, "Elephant Talk," which demonstrates Belew's Talking Heads vocals and his ability to make a guitar sound like an elephant.
The other star of this show next to Belew is Tony Levin. On this album, Levin introduced the band to an instrument called the Chapman Stick, a ten-stringed bass-like instrument invented in the 1970s that is played purely through two-handed tapping. "Elephant Talk" was led primarily by the Chapman Stick, playing a sort of Go-Go style bass line. Now turn up the volume and listen to track two, "Frame by Frame," which sounds like being in the middle of a factory that's churning out creepy rock and roll. Welcome to the machine.
| || |
Astute observers may notice that I only review albums on Justin's Jukebox that I actually like. As such, I don't consider Justin's Jukebox so much of a "music review" podcast as I do a "music recommendation" podcast. After all, you wouldn't put songs on a jukebox that you did not actually want to hear!
There are albums that I really like, there are albums that I love, and then there are albums that I could not possibly imagine living without. Plastic Beach, the third studio album by the virtual band that made virtual bands popular, Gorillaz, falls into all three of those categories. It was released in 2010, and I am fully aware that the fourth Gorillaz album, The Fall, was released last year, but neither that album nor the group's first two albums latched onto my soul with such tenacity in the way that Plastic Beach did. Two years after its release, I still listen to this album constantly.
I received a promotional copy of this album about a month before it was released when I was an intern at 98 Rock. It's ironic that an album I now treasure so dearly, an album that has claimed a slot in my illustrious Top 5 Favorite Albums list, was one that I did not have to pay for and in fact was not even on my radar. Up until that point, I considered myself only a casual Gorillaz fan at best. Because I did not watch their music videos nor go to any of their shows, I was (and still am) missing out on a good 50% of the intended Gorillaz experience.
I was not immediately hooked upon first listen, but after repeated listens this album will sink its hooks deeper and deeper into your subconscious, reeling you in. There is so much variety here, so many ideas jammed into one package, that you will continue to discover new elements that previously escaped your attention. The number of cameo appearances here is staggering: Snoop Dogg, Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals, Mos Def, Lou Reed (the principle songwriter of The Velvet Underground best known for the gender-bending "Walk on the Wild Side"), veteran R&B singer Bobby Womack, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from The Clash, Mark E. Smith, Bashy, Kano, Little Dragon, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and my personal favorite, hippy-dippy hip hop trio De La Soul. You may remember that De La Soul won a Grammy for their collaboration with Gorillaz on the song "Feel Good Inc." I've loved De La Soul ever since my buddy Tim introduced me to their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising and particularly the track "Tread Water," a song which my girlfriend Lena finds terrifying (this will be a common theme during this review).
| || |
This is a truly post-modern album (and God help me for the shit-storm the use of that term is going to unleash); it is a pastiche of styles, references, and even artists. Compare the mash-up of Arabic rhythms and odd Reggae-style rapping of "White Flag" with deceptively simple keyboards and Lou Reed's deadpan vocals on "Some Kind of Nature."
| || |
| || |
by Colin Caccamise
This movie is awesome, I could spout nothing but praise for this film for years, but let's get to the point. We saw this film in low-fi old fashioned 2-D, but after seeing this film, I'd be willing to break a cardinal rule and pay money to enjoy this film in 3-D. From start to finish, Joss Whedon was able to weave the last 5 years worth of comic book films into one great piece of cinematic glory. That is truly the genius of this film, it proves that comic book films can be done, but also done well.
Let's start with acting, Robert Downey Jr. returns as everyone's favorite sardonic billionaire playboy turned superhero, Tony Stark/Iron Man. His cutting wit and sarcasm blends in with the cynicism his character is showing to the world and the team in which he's asked to take part in. Stark, throughout the film continuously proves that he is hero they need him to be, willing to sacrifice himself for the people, thus furthering his character development from the Iron Man.
Next, we have Chris Evans continuing on from the last Marvel film, Captain America: The First Avenger. His portrayal of Steve Rogers is interesting as he finds himself as a soldier out of his own time, becoming more and more conflicted with his superiors and their directions. He and Stark comes to conflict as Stark feels that S.H.I.E.L.D shouldn't be trusted at face value whereas Evans feels they can trust them as their goals are the same. Their confliction is one of the underlying points of the films, a tension that exists through three-quarters of the film.
Mark Ruffalo was the true shock of the film, his portrayal of a tormented Dr. Bruce Banner in hiding, was phenomenal. It was great as physically, Ruffalo was lanky and scrawny and nerdy, all the things that we feel Bruce Banner should be. This film also for the first time goes into the torment that Banner feels and how he tries to deal with it, admitting that he once attempted suicide but became the Hulk as a byproduct, saying the monster inside him wouldn't let him die. It should be said that the Hulk tears shit up in this film. Ruffalo has supposedly has been signed on as Banner for six more films. Solid performances by Jeremy Renner as Haweye (a villain for almost two thirds of the film) and Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow, whose performance is leagues ahead of the lackluster performance she dropped in Iron Man 2.
The unsung hero of this film is writer/director Joss Whedon of Buffy/Firefly/Serenity/Dollhouse fame, to nerds there is so little this man can do wrong. Going into this film, I was really skeptical of this film as the usual combination of high profile actors and writer-director with such a large fan following (examples of such films are Ocean's Twelve and New Year's Eve) fall flat or spread themselves too thin and implode as a result. This blend of humor and action are trademark of Whedon's work, this in my opinion is a capstone to Marvel's effort to create this new film continuity.
I am reminded of the 1980 victory of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team in Lake Placid, what's the comparision you may ask? The comparison I can make is that this film is the "Miracle" of this generation of nerds, the inextricable marriage of acting, writing and directing that only comes around once in a decade or two to make something beautiful. This film proves that comic book films can work.
SEE THIS FILM.
5 out of 5 stars