Sinister Ideas…

And it turns out I was wrong.  The Marvel/Sony deal did not put an end to Sinister Six movie plans.  They are delayed, but Sony apparently plans to proceed without Marvel’s input to boot.

And this is just a terrible idea.  First, the idea that their next Spider-Related film would be a Sinister Six film seemed kind of terrible.  For one, we had only been introduced to Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino.  The Lizard had died, so that meant we had to be introduced to three more villains.  Since the Amazing Spider-Man 3 was scrapped, they would have to be introduced in the Sinister Six film.  That is three origins, even if you go with the Amazing Spider-Man 2’s notion that they were handing out the bad guy gear by the truckload over at Oscorp.

Plus, really, they would have to retrofit the idea to fit it into the MCU that Spidey now inhabits.  The Sinister Six film would either be set in the Andrew Garfield timeline, or it is all new with a completely fresh set of actors as the bad guys.

And the other part that makes it so terrible is this whole notion of Sony doing the film without Marvel input.  Sony really needs to let Marvel handle all things Spider-Man and just reap the cash rewards.  I have zero faith that Sony will produce a good Sinister Six movie without Marvel’s help.

Does Whatever A Spider Can

So, Marvel’s corner of the internet broke last night.  In a big announcement Marvel and Sony noted they have joined forces to re-invigorate the Spider-Franchise.  While confirming my feeling that there was no deal in place when it was “leaked that the deal was done”, they did sort of pull it off.  Not quite as suspected.

Basically, we are looking at Spider-Man appearing one of the upcoming MCU movies occurring before the next Thor film.  This rules out his first appearance being in the Avengers: Infinity War.  And the most likely candidate is Captain America: Civil War.  Then, in 2017, there will be a new Spider-Man film from Sony.  It sounds like the deal put to death the plans for the various proposed spin-offs.  Amy Pascal (who jut stepped down from Sony) along with Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios will produce the new Spider-Man film, with Sony having final say.  Sony retains the rights to all Spider-Stuff.  This is interesting, because it is the first time the MCU is getting to use a character that Marvel Studios does not hold the rights to.  And does this mean we can see, say the Daily Bugle or J. Jonah Jamesom appear in MCU movies and TV?  Will this version of the Spider-Man corner be fully integrated?  Or just a very tightly held case by case basis?

So, what Spider-Man are we getting?  A grown up Spider-Man?  For Civil War, that would make the most sense.  But then there is the issue that Spider-Man’s biggest part of Civil War in the comics was giving up his secret identity and being buddies with Tony Stark.  A teen Spider-Man would make the Stark friendship seem strained…and in the MCU, the concept of secret identities has never taken hold.  So, throwing in the secret identity stuff into the Captain America Civil War film may feel forced.

Will they play off like Spider-Man has been around the entire time, we just were not hearing about him?  Or will the new Spider-Man be yet another origin based reboot?  Will we have a new high school Spider-Man?  Or will the rebooted Spider-Man be older straight out of the gate?

If Sony just trusts Marvel to do their thing with Spider-Man, it may work.  But that could be a big “if”.

Lazy 100

I was sick from Saturday through Tuesday…I was unable to sleep much…so I ended up doing some binge watching Netflix.  I watched the last few seasons of Rules of Engagement a mildly amusing sitcom that lasted seven seasons and had just enough episodes to make it to syndication.

I watched mainly due to longstanding crushes on Megyn Price and Patrick Warburton.  The show detailed the lives of “friends” in different stages of relationship life.  Price and Warburton were Audrey and Jeff, the long married couple.  There was the couple who lived together Adam and Jen (Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich) and their single friend Russell (David Spade-playing his specialty, the sleazy dirtbag).  Adam and Russell worked in the same office, Adam & Jen lived in the same building as Audrey and Jeff.

In the second season, they added Timmy (Adhir Kalyan), who began working for Russell as his ever suffering assistant.  I referred to friends in quotes because frankly, it was not clear that any character liked the other.  Sure, they would st and laugh, trade sexist/homophobic barbs…the ongoing jokes around Adam was how he seemed so gay and was generally stupid.  Jen was the hot girlfriend, routinely embarrassed by the stupid things her boyfriend said or did.  Jeff saw marriage as a battlefield, so much of the jokes around him were about how he was navigating that battlefield-seeing his wife Audrey as his opponent and impediment to peace and stability (but really, he did love her) and Audrey’s frustrations with her husband’s luddite tendencies drove her character.  Then there was Russell.  Russell would lie, cheat or do any underhanded thing to get a woman into bed.  There were repeated implications that he drugged women and-

Holy heck…this show sounds terrible.  And I did not get to Timmy yet…Timmy was South African (something Russell could never get right, he constantly made racist comments about Timmy being middle eastern or from India) and very proper.  He usually blew off Russell’s racism and suffered heavily, doing demeaning work such as lying to women for Russell or being his wingman…

So…homophobia…racism…sexism…rape…instant sit-com!

By the final (100th) episode I was a bit dead inside…but one of the episode’s big plot points stirred a frustration in my soul.

Timmy quit working for Russell after discovering Russell had gotten a tracking chip implanted into him.  Yeah…the show got pretty bizarre when it came to Russell and Timmy.  Adam and Jen were getting married, Audrey and Jeff awaiting the birth of their baby via surrogate Lesbian Brenda (Sara Rue).  Timmy was enjoying a new job, but got wind that there was a problem with his Work Visa.  Jeff was trying to make Brenda laugh so hard she would pee her pants, except the water broke.  This interrupted Adam and Jen’s wedding plans.  Wait, did I mention Timmy’s work Visa?  This is actually very odd if you were a regular viewer.  Because there was an episode in the fifth season where it is revealed that Timmy has been an American Citizen for about ten years.  In other words, he would not need a work visa.  And the staff never caught this?  The show runners?   That is a big thing to forgot when your plot hinges on a situation Timmy would not find himself in.

But here is the thing…the sole reason was so they could have a resolution where Russell proposes to Timmy so they can get married and he can stay in the United States.  The show ended with Sleazy implied rapists of women Russell “heroically” marrying Timmy to keep him from having to leave the country.  Adam and Jen get married, Audrey and Jeff got their baby and find out that Audrey is pregnant (which they were under the impression was never going to happen-that is why they had a surrogate).  It is a series of “feel good endings” that do not feel good…because it all just makes no sense…

Looking back, the show is far worse than I had initially remembered…my love of Price and Warburton had given me rosier memories than deserved.  And it ended on a lousy, lazy note.

It Only Took 20 Years

There has not been a show focused on an Asian family in about 20 years.  Margaret Cho’s All American Girl was a short lived show.  And apparently the biggest lesson that was taken by all of mainstream television was…nobody wants to watch a majority Asian cast.

It is a frustrating part of television and mainstream film that one film or series failing to succeed confirms a “conventional wisdom” about audiences.

ABC has been building it’s comedy block on family themed comedies setting them alongside Modern Family.  ABC (ironically enough the same network that aired All American Girl) has now added Fresh Off  the Boat.  I remember cringing at the title, because I thought it was inferring that this was a family new to America and the jokes would be hung on the notion of “wacky foreigners in a strange land.”

The title is, in a way accurate.  Except this is the story of a Chinese American family whose father (Randall Park) has moved the entire family from DC to Orlando, FL to run a western themed restaurant.  The story is told from the perspective of oldest son Eddie (Hudson Yang).  The opening of the first episode emphasized this with Eddie telling you extensively about himself his Father and Mother (Constance Wu)…then quickly naming off his brothers and grandmother in rapid succession with a who cares tone and no exposition about them.

The first episode was a bit clunky, especially in that I felt like the writers made some references “for the benefit of white expectations.”  Eddie’s mother is tough and pushes her family to succeed…not necessarily bad, but the show makes use of the term Tiger Mom at the start of the first episode.  By the second episode, I felt they were already pushing back against that, as Eddie’s mom becomes more expanded.  Yes, she is domineering and aggressive, but she also wants her family to have a better life.  She wants her husband’s business to succeed…and she also wants to see him rewarded for his kind nature.

Eddie struggles as the Asian kid in a largely white world…trying to fit in through his attachment to rap music.  Made even more frustrating for Eddie, his younger brother seems to find his place and get friends right away.

While the first episode was clunky, the second episode was stronger.  And both had jokes that suggested to me that we could be in for a skewering of traditional fish out of water tales.  The father, Louis, hires a white host (Paul Scheer), very specifically because he presumes a southern white person would not be comfortable walking into the western themed restaurant and being greeted by an Asian man.  There is also a joke in the first episode where the mother is greeted by a crew of the neighborhood mothers and the “leader” expresses mild disappointment that the mothers name is Jessica, rather than something more “exotic”.

Overall, I think this has the potential to be a solid comedy.  It has quirky humor (Jessica and Eddie stand in front of a Costco type of store whose name includes exclamation points at the end…Jessica asks, “What is this store so excited about?”) and has addressed issues of racism in a fairly creative way (Eddie seems to be making friends until they make fun of his “ethnic” lunch food). I am hoping they find their footing and voice quickly (a challenge for most any show) and that ABC is not quick to cut it loose if they take some time building an audience.  I am certainly sticking around.

 

Aiming For the Fantastic

So a trailer has hit for August’s Fantastic Four Reboot.

Doing a complete origin reboot with Doctor Doom as an angry hacker and a young Reed Richards… seemed…I don’t know…pointless.  Hiring Josh Trank was one of the more interesting choices.  None of the acting choices really thrilled me…and there was the talk that they are about to do some reshoots (originally reported as being up to a months worth, now just a few days).  It sounded messy.

The trailer looks nice.  The film is heavily relying on the Ultimate version of the Fantastic Four.  But yet, I am not really ready to feel excited to see the film.

It looks very dark and plodding.  It looks almost like Interstellar with Superpowers.  It does not, however, look fun.  And the Fantastic Four should be fun.  They are explorers of the fantastic, and they are a family.  And the teaser looks like a Dramatic, Dark and Serious Superhero film.

I hope it is the trailer that is missing these elements, not the film as a whole.

That’s Great, It Starts With an Earthquake

So, wait…Battleworld is not actually the new status quo.  It is the lead in to the new status quo.

A status quo that will include, well, whatever the writers want to keep.  Which sounds confusing.  So, are Peter and Mary Jane married with a kid?  Or are they singles?  Are they both?  And what about the population outside the superheroes?

Or is Battleworld going to dissolve?  And the new Marvel Universe will have no memory of it, and all the people who died in the 616 and Ultimate universes will be around?

Will they all have a memory of the Battleworld incident and this is just all part of ongoing continuity?  Will only the heroes remember it happened?

And yet, in spite of all these questions…in spite of what a potential mess this looks like…I kind of feel a little more confident…this seems like the goal is to free up the creative times to continue their own visions, rather than a corporate vision of only a couple writers and the editorial staffs.

Though, I will be sad when Earth WOLVERINE (the Earth where everyone is Wolverine) gets destroyed.

With Warning (Calvary, 2014)

To be honest, I expected Calvary to be a somewhat plodding movie.  I thought it would be “Gee, it was good, but kinda slow.”

Instead, it begins with a bang.  Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is in the confessional, but instead of a confession, he is given an unrepentant threat to his life.  The “confessor” tells of having been molested for several years by a Priest.  Father James asks if he has sought therapy or made an accusation.  But this sick priest is dead, so the confessor feels there is no chance for justice there.  And really, what good would it do to take his life were he still alive?  No, the confessor believes a truly bolder statement would be to kill a good and trusted priest.  He gives Father James one week to get his affairs in order.

As the week proceeds, Father James does little to try and prevent this threat to occur, instead, he tries to go about his life, helping the community around him, trying to help a community that has given up hope heal.  You wonder who might be the person who made the threat…Father James seems to recognize the voice.  And even when they meet on that fateful day, Father James seeks to bring healing.  Knowing what he may be going towards, he still takes the time to connect with the people in his community.  He seeks to help the man who has made it his purpose to end Father James’ life.

There is a great exchange that occurs late in the film…Father James is speaking with his daughter and says, “There is too much talk about sins and not enough about virtues.”  His daughter asks, “What would be your number one?” He responds, “I think forgiveness has been highly underrated.”

There is another bit about how dangerous people are who want to be hated and despised.  I think that is true.  There is a bizarre form of self righteousness that can occur in people who enjoy being hated.  They feel as if being hated justifies their belief.  People hate them because they are right.

Calvary is full of sly, dark humor and emotion.  It is easy to root for Gleeson, for he is a good priest.  This is not a story where we find out that he harbors all sorts of dark secrets.  No, he genuinely seems to care about his community.  He loves his daughter and feels regrets for retreating after her mother died.

It is a very well written film that is worth seeing.  If I had seen it last year?  It (like Locke) would have made my top ten of 2014 list.

I was asked what the title of the film means.  I believe my explanation is correct…but it is a huge spoiler to reveal it.  So read on only if you want to ruin the ending of the film.

 

 

 

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