Thursday, March 31, 2016

We all have fan blindspots

Picture the scene, May, 1998, a young Producer has skipped work to attend an afternoon screening of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  I was excited.  I had been waiting for this movie for the 20 plus years since Jedi had come out.  I had already spent loads of money on toys and merchandise and I had gotten my tickets 2 weeks before this screening.  I was beyond hyped!  It was hard to contain myself in my seat.  Then the theater goes dark and that John Williams theme drops and, if I was someone who cries, I woulda cried like a baby!   And the movie starts and its a spectacle- especially the FX. And you get all the light saber battles, and Maul, and Sidious, and the hints of Vader with young Annakin.  But you also get Jar Jar and awful dialogue and what the fuck are midiclorians anyway?
At the time tho, no one could tell me shit.  It was Star Wars! It was back and I was happy.  Now 1998, everyone did not have cell phones, there was no Twitter, or Facebook. At the time, you lived and died on news and fanboy interaction in chat rooms and message boards.  And most fan reaction to Phantom Menace was not as enthusiastic as mine.  In fact, some people hated it. I mean HATED IT! And as much as I tried to defend it, no one was trying to hear me. I was like, "Fuck them, they stupid!" So I went and saw it again. And Again. And I even copped a bootleg video copy in English( with Turkish subtitles).  No one could tell me that Phantom Menace was bad......Except that it was and is a bad movie.  Possibly the worst of the 3 prequels-which are all flawed.

I tell this story because I see the similarities in my defense of Phantom Menace with people defending Batman V Superman.  Now, Batman V Superman is leagues better than Phantom Menace- that is not my comparison.  My point is blerds/nerds will turn on each other and defend their flawed heroes, comics, movies,  and tv shows to the death when they feel that other people do not like what they like.  They say shit like, " You just don't understand", or " The movie was more complicated than you think" and often times they are flat out wrong.  Look, most of these movies- especially comic book movies are not breaking atoms in their depictions of our beloved characters.  People go to movies to be entertained, not to think.  That is why Transformers can make a billion dollars worldwide- not because its any good.  Its just mindless entertainment!  Yet if you tell the wrong person/persons that Transformers is stupid, @realOptimusPrime will attack you on Twitter and call you a moron because you didn't like that stupid movie.

Stop! I mean really, STOP! Look, I did not like or hate Batman V Superman.  I thought it was ok.  To me the movie was a mess- attempting to serve too many masters.  The movie took 3-5 comic book plots and tried to cram it all in one movie and it made the movie messy in terms of flow, storytelling, and length. I really do think there is a good movie in there at about 2 hours and 10 minutes( instead of 2 hours, 40 minutes). But people are going to town on this movie about how its so great and its the best comic book movie ever.... Sorry, I can't roll with that.  But you do you!  One of my biggest mantras that has come with age is that you should "Like what you Like".  If you like it, fine.  But don't try and convince me that I should like it and don't try and convince other people that they should like it.  If you like it, fine.  Be secure in your opinion why you liked it and move on.

I hate that in society now we have "Embraced the debate".  This culture creates a system where people feel the need to convince you that they are right, and you are wrong( as the other person does the same).  This causes people to take the extreme opinion on anything and everything to attempt prove their point. And blerds and nerds are the worst at this.  They will defend their side to the end of the road( even when its clear they are wrong).  As I've gotten older, I really don't have the time or energy for that shit!  Its fun to read and watch it play out on line, but don't come at me with that bullshit!  It's a sure fire way to get blocked or unfollowed.

So if you liked Phantom Menace, or Fast and the Furious, or Thor 2, or XMen The Last Stand... embrace the shit that you love and stop trying to make me or anyone else love that shit!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Superman V Batman Review

I'm fresh out of the movie about 18 hours now.  I took my kids and the Mrs to see Dawn of Justice last night and I've had time to sleep on it and let the movie marinate in my brain to give this review. I do not like to write reviews in the moment.  Often times, I let the hype or hate wash over me and once I see the movie again, my initial reaction is no where close to my Netflix and chill reaction. This will be spoiler free....

Overall, I do not have any real emotion about this movie. I went in with very low expectations and came out not knowing how I feel.  If it was bad, I was going to rip it.  If it was good, I was gonna praise.  Its really neither.   I have been clear that I felt DC was rushing this Justice League idea from the beginning.  Batman V Superman was not planned to be the next sequel- no matter what they tell you.  If they had, they would've alluded to Bruce Wayne, or Wayne Enterprise, Gotham,  or Batman in Man of Steel.  They did not!  MOS is a polarizing movie for fans and DC got scared that if they needed to reboot Superman AGAIN, it was going to continue to damage the brand.  So they brought in their real MVP, Batman to sure up the Superman franchise.  And going in, you need to know that Batman V Superman is a Batman movie.  Batman/Bruce Wayne is the star and drives the movie with Superman riding in the passenger seat or the sidecar in one of those motorcycles.

The movie plot centers around Superman's place in the world... Is he a savior or is he the devil?  Both Lex Luthor and Batman have concluded that he is the devil and are both working on ways to stop/end Superman before he gets out of control.  There is plot about smugglers and who is playing who and who is manipulating who..... Both Lex and Bruce get to go on about their distrust of Superman... And they go on alot!  The movie is very slow for about an hour!  That first hour is actually kinda boring. Sadly, they rehash Batman history (which everyone knows) without any real point of doing it.  There are congressional hearings and dream sequences, and rescue scenes and much of it really did nothing to advance the narrative of the story.  Oh and  there is much angst among our heroes about what to do, how to do it,  and finding their purpose in the world and that takes alot of time.

The plot point that finally gets us to Batman V Superman is super contrived and could've actually been solved easily with a phone call or a conversation. Like for real!  Communication is key to any relationship, folks!  This leads to our battle between the heroes and its an ok fight, but if you saw any of the trailers, you have seen the overwhelming majority of the fight between Batman v Superman.  Along with much of the action with Wonder Woman.  Spoiling nothing, this leads to our fight against Doomsday which is fine enough, but this has been told better on Justice League Unlimited and on Superman: Doomsday.  Seeing it now on the big screen didn't really move me the way it should have, I guess.  This leads to the ending-which if you have ever read comics in the 90's, you could see coming a mile away.

The Good
Ben Affleck does great work at Bruce Wayne and Batman.
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is by far the best part of the movie. By far! I am more looking forward to her movie than Justice League.
The "cameo" by the Justice league is handled well and the movie did not feel overstuffed at all.

The Bad
The movie is a solid 30 minutes too long.  All the Batman origin stuff could've been cut and there is a C plot with Luthor and a victim from the Battle with Zod that could've been removed totally from the movie.  And enough with the slow mo, Zack Snyder.
I was not a fan of manic Lex Luthor.  Its a bit over the top and it made it hard to view him as a credible threat villain.  Plus, how he was able to resurrect Zod and use the Codex was a stretch beyond imagination.

Overall, the movie was just average for me.  I have no real ill feelings towards it, but I certainly didn't love it.  I really think there is a good movie in there somewhere- kinda like Man of Steel.  There are parts that are really good, parts that are really bad, and parts that are someplace in the middle. Its just that they are all so spaced apart, the movie becomes a jumbled mess of scenes that are strung together, but not connected.

So for me, I will not be seeing it again. I do not think I missed anything or will change my mind after reading other people's review.  In the genre, I think its average- DC specific- if you like MOS, you will probably like this, buts its inferior to Dark Knight to me and maybe slightly better than Dark Knight Rises... slightly.  Overall, just a table setter for their expanded universe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Did Marvel learn its lesson?

By now, you have probably seen the trailer for Captain America:Civil War.  I would imagine most Blerds and Bleeks have seen it since it has over 100 million views on yotube.  I know I have watched it probably 5 times and it made me quite hyped for the movie.  I even recorded a trailer review which you can find here:

Civil War Trailer Review

However, when my hype died down and I went into my quiet place, I began to feel uneasy because of the mess that was Avengers Age of Ultron.  That movie, although cool in certain parts, was an overall disaster.  Too many heroes, with a plot that was all over the place, and seemed to be made with the overall intention of selling toys. The constant trailers and product placement ads for soda, cars,  and merchandise, made the movie seem secondary to making money OFF the movie.  The trouble and friction between Marvel and director, Joss Whedon, are well documented, as it seems Marvel got overly involved in the production and crushed the directors overall Vision( see what I did there) for the franchise.  The movie suffered for this and it eroded much of the goodwill Marvel had with fanboys after the original Avengers.

Now they get a second chance with Civil War, but you can see some troubling similarities.  There are a ton of heroes in this movie!  I mean between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, you have 10 heroes. That does not factor in villains( at least two with Crossbones and Zemo) and other ancillary characters such as SHIELD, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Thunderbolt Ross, etc! Possibly because the movie is still a few months away, we have not seen all the product placement surrounding that  AoU. Are we going to see Captain America plastered on cereal boxes and soda cans and driving an Audi or Chevy? I don't know?  But maybe Marvel learned its lesson. Maybe?  Could it be possible that they saw all the clapback from fans about AoU and kept their grubby little hands off Civil War?  Is it possible that they trust the Russo Brothers and writers of the this movie to allow them to tell their story without getting involved in every single detail?  You see fanboys, although annoying at times, are smart.  We know when we are being given shit to eat- even tho you tell us its Caviar.  AoU was shit!  Marvel tried to dress it up as Caviar and give us "moments" in the movie that would make us excited, but overall the movie was shit.  And the stink of that shit has hung with us for the last year!  Its why there is a bit more trepidation for Civil War!  And you really have to wonder if Marvel feels that, too.

Now don't get me wrong, its not like I am not going to see Civil War. I will be there opening Saturday with my family after Free Comic Book Day just like I was last year.  I will still be hyped and ready to go with popcorn and candy that I snuck into the movie!  But, if I start to see Captain America Dr. Pepper ads,  Black Panther Shampoo, Iron Man Chef Boy Ardee Ravioli, and Civil War Cereal before the movie opens, I will know that Marvel doesn't give a shit anymore and this movie, much like AoU, will just be a vehicle to make more money and the movie is an afterthought.  That's a real shame, too because the Civil War has the potential to be the best comic book movie Marvel has made.  I truly hope they don't fuck it up!

The Producer

Is it worth a Redbox: Get Hard

In our continuing series of looking at movies to see if they are worth your $1.50 at Redbox, we review the movie, Get Hard starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.  Now I am not the biggest fan of either of these comedians.  I think Will Ferrel is essentially a one trick magician who keeps fooling people with the exact same trick over and over and people keep falling for it.  Sometimes it works for me- I am a huge fan of Elf, Talladega Nights, and Step-Brothers.  But most of the other stuff that he stars in, I skip entirely and never quite understand why people are on his jock so hard.

Kevin Hart- I think he is a funny stand up comedian, but he is not worthy of the crown that has been bestowed upon him as Funniest Black Man on the Planet.  That is a crown that has been worn by Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle.... Nothing Kevin Hart has done or will do will ever meet those comedians high expectations.  He is really just the "best" of a bunch of mediocre comedians out there now.  And his movies tend to fall flat to me.  But that's just me!

So putting these two cats together and making a movie was not high on my list of movies to see. BUT I actually enjoyed the hell out of this movie.  Look, its really Will Ferrel doing Will Ferrell things and Kevin Hart being Kevin Hart, but its actually funny and works for the most part.  The premise is simple:  Will Ferrell's character is framed for insider trading by his soon to be father in law and is sentenced to prison.  He hires Kevin Hart to get him "ready" for prison because he assumed that Kevin Hart had been in prison before because he is Black. Many tired racial tropes are presented, but overall, the movie is very funny!  I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would!

So is it worth a Redbox- YES! Definitely a good Redbox rental if you are looking to turn your brain off and get a good laugh!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why is your masculinity so fragile?

Michael B Jordan Photo Controversy

No matter how hard I try, I always find myself in the comments sections even tho I tell myself not to read it because I know people are going to say the dumbest shit; especially if it relates to race or sexuality.  These topics bring out the worst of the worst in people and makes me lose my faith in humanity after I finish reading.

When I woke up this morning to the article referencing the picture above with Michael B Jordan and the director of Fruitvale Station, Creed( and Black Panther), Ryan Coogler, I could not imagine what "controversy" the picture could be raising.  I had seen the picture Sunday and assumed it was in response to #oscarsSOwhite.  So I read the article and sadly the comments section was brought into the full view and became unavoidable because the comments were the story.  Apparently, many Black viewers of the picture, took offense to it and allowed their fragile version masculinity to be shattered into pieces. This is the second time in the past couple of months where fragile, Black masculinity has been enraged.  The first being the Kanye/Amber Finger in the butt controversy.  And now this. These two incidents speak so much to the fragility of masculinity often seen in the Black community.  Often times Black men showing any sign of love towards another man besides some dap, a back slap,  or a bro hug is looked at as "gay" and this freaks out( some) black men, but also( some) black women. Look at some of the comments.

First off, to get it off the table- lets say they were gay!  Why do you fuckin' care?  That is their business, their life, and has nothing to do with you! Why you would be pressed or concerned about their love life is beyond me.  How would them being gay affect your ability to enjoy their art as an actor and director?  So you would enjoy Creed or Fruitvale less if you found out they were lovers? What they put on screen is art! Its  not real and peoples inability to separate the two leads people to say dumb shit!

Secondly, now that is off the table, we can look into the deeper psychological issues associated with Black men and masculinity.   The suggestion that Vanity Fair is looking to effeminate Black men is ludicrous. I mean its really stupid to think this.  Look, its not like Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler just signed up for a photo shoot with no ability to look, check, and approve what pictures make it into Vanity Fair. They pay good money to their publicist and  managers to make sure they are presented in a manner that is satisfactory to them.  And this idea that two Black men hugging is somehow "gay" or a sign of weakness comes from insecurity in ones self. As a much as we preach that all Black people do not think alike, when an image or picture goes against the grain of our version of masculinity, we recoil at the image and expect others to all think the way we do and will buck up to defend their caveman way of thinking.

Lastly, if you see anything sexual in this picture, that says more about you than it does the picture.  If anyone took an undergraduate psychology class, they speak of projecting.... this idea that people will place their own issues and concerns onto other people as a way to not have to deal with the issue. If you see gay sexual issues in this picture, that is on you and speaks loudly as to why this photo bothers you!  You are projecting your own sexuality onto these two men! When I saw that picture, I saw two black men, who have made 2 movies together and who are probably very close, having a moment together. Period.  I am not sure how you can see anything other than that! We all have friends that we allow to do or say things to us that we would not let any rando person do because we are trust that person. That does not make you weak or gay.  That makes us friends!

This really bothered me today.  And as I read through the comments, most people agreed with me.  Its really just those outliers who view anything outside their version of what a "real man" is that pollute the commentary space in times like these.  My mantra everyday is "Have a good day and stay out of the comments sections".  I really wish I had followed my own advice today!

The Producer

Monday, March 7, 2016

Where Oh Where is Our Nina Simone? (The Biopic starring Zoe Saldana)

Nina Simone is an artist with a legacy that is rich with the nuances that existed when she came to fame.  Her distinctive look and sound are very much a part of who she was and what she stood for during those very turbulent times in the 60’s.  She is also very much known for her activism.  I am a fan of her music and her sound is rich with the soulful layering of her life experiences.  You can tell by listening to her music, that there is a lot of substance and context behind her lyrics.  With all this being said, when I saw the trailer for the upcoming biopic, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  First of all, Zoe Saldana is cast as Nina Simone.  Granted, Zoe Saldana is a pretty decent actress, however, she definitely is not the actress that I would immediately have thought of to represent such an iconic artist like Nina Simone. 

Image result for pics of Nina Simone

However, when I saw the recently release trailer, in which it appears that Zoe is wearing darker make-up (black face) in order to match Nina’s complexion, I was dumbfounded.  There are so many things wrong with this representation.  In hindsight, Zoe Saldana, should not have been selected for this role.  Not only does she not look anything like Nina, but having her parade around in what is essentially black face is disrespectful to who Nina was and what she represented.  As I pointed out, Nina’s look was very much a part of her legacy, the beauty of her natural features and hair, during a time when that was frowned upon because they didn’t think she could appeal to a diverse audience.   This caused much anguish in her creative process and also caused her to leave the United States and move to Europe, where she felt they would be more accepting of her look, due to racism that exists in the United States.  

Image result for pics of Nina Simone

There are many actresses that I can think of that could have embodied what Ms. Simone stood for and would not have had to resort to wearing darker make-up to do it.  These actresses, I believe, have a closer physicality to Nina Simone.  So why weren’t any of these actresses chosen?  Some that come to mind are:

Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina SimoneViola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder)
Lupita N’ygo (12 Years A Slave, Star Wars)
Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead)
India Arie (singer)
Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black)
Lorraine Toussaint (Orange is the New Black, Rosewood)
Alfre Woodard
Audre McDonald (singer/actress)
Lauren Hill (singer/actress)
Rutina Wesley (True Blood)
Jill Scott (singer/actress) 

 Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone
Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone

Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone                                                                     
Image result for pics of Nina Simone
Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone
 Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone

I believe that the artist from this list would have been able to knock this role out of the park, if given the opportunity.  The legacy of Nina Simone is important and should be portrayed to the best of one’s ability to accurately embody her essence.  I just don’t feel as if that was represented in the trailer.  When I saw the horrible make-up job, I was already turned off from this project and felt that it was disrespectful to her legacy.  This story is too captivating and important not to be seen because of some cheap, shoddy production. 
The casting to me is all wrong.  Perhaps it was due to name recognition.  This is when artistic integrity comes into play.  Once they approached Zoe about putting on darker make-up and a prosthetic nose, perhaps she should have stepped away from this project and thought that maybe she was not the best actress to portray Nina.  I have to think that she had some trepidation about tackling such an iconic figure and being able to do her justice and do it correctly.  She had to have known this was not going to fly.  This goes against the things that Nina Simone embodied and represented.  I don’t know how Zoe Saldana didn’t see or think about that when signing onto this project.

Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone
Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone 

Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone
  Image result for actresses that should have been cast as Nina Simone

I have already been turned off by how Nina Simone is represented in this piece.  I know others have as well, which tells me that quite a few people will not be viewing it.  This is a shame because her story needs to be told, in the right way, not with this cheap, half-assed attempt.

I do like Zoe Saldana as an actress, however, I do believe that perhaps she should have stepped away from this project because of her artistic integrity.

There is a documentary available on netflix called "What Happened, Miss Simone?", that I will check out instead of this project.

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