The world is going to hell in a handbasket with all the recent calamities but at least we have some cool movies to look forward to next year (that and picking a new president). After months of anticipation, at last the trailer for CaptainAmerica: CivilWar is out.
Frankly, I was expecting this new entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to come out next month with all that StarWars hoopla, but hey I’m more than happy to be viewing this over and over this Thanksgiving while everyone else is glued to their football games!
First impressions: Love it! It hit all the right notes and got me instantly pumped to see Captain America and Iron Man duking it out. One thing I appreciated is that even though there are many superheroes in the trailer it still felt like a Captain America movie not Avengers2.5. The story is focused on Steve Rogers’ place in the modern world and how he doesn’t quite fit in. Also there are some hints of tragedy and hurt scattered here and there with it centering on the lost friendship between Captain America and Iron Man, with Tony Stark seeming a bit jealous of Steve Rogers’ friendship with Bucky Barnes. It’s interesting they went that route because I saw the two as more at being at odds with each other in the last two Avengers films. But it’s a good angle and sells the point that it’s a House Divided among superheroes.
Speaking of superheroes we got our first quick look at Black Panther and man does he look lethal and rockin’! The only ones that weren’t present and missed were Ant-Man and Spider-Man. I suppose we’ll see them around the time of the Super Bowl. The final shot of Captain America and Winter Soldier taking on Iron Man together is sure to cheer the hearts of anyone who wants to see Tony Stark taken down a peg or two. From the looks of it, Captain America: CivilWar is another winner for the MCU.
Don’t know about the rest of you but I’m going back to watching this trailer for Captain America: CivilWar again. May 2016 can’t come soon enough. 🙂
Like its predecessor Daredevil, Jessica Jones is an excellent, dark, grounded and captivating TV show. Jessica Jones is Marvel Television and Netflix’s second TV show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and follows the story of the title character (well played by Krysten Ritter) as she goes about her life as a super-powered private investigator.
Take note this isn’t a superhero TV show but a psychological crime drama. Don’t let that keep you from watching it because it’s not your typical crime show. There aren’t any boring procedurals in Jessica Jones, just great character studies and mature themes. As the focus of the show, Jessica Jones keeps you glued to her issues. After she received low-level super strength, she kind of wondered what to do with her life and was talked into trying to become a superhero by her best friend Tricia Walker (Rachael Taylor), who comic book fans will recognize as the lady who will become Hell-Cat.
Flashbacks show that Jessica had her free will taken over by Kilgrave (David Tennant), known in the comic books as the Purple Man. His superpower is to control people and what he does in this show is just terrifying and ghastly. What he makes people do as he lives a hedonistic lifestyle was disturbing and demonstrates that Kilgrave is a more effective villain than most MCU villains who rant about destroying the world. Seriously, Kevin Feige and his gang at Marvel Studios should look at these Netflix shows to see how to do a real supervillain!
Jessica was able to break away from Kilgrave, leaving him for dead, but is very haunted by her experiences where he made her do things against her nature including murder. In the present, she’s got a tough but fragile shell and lives a barebones life in the seedier part of Manhattan. Her investigations lead her to discover that Kilgrave is still alive and stalking her. Early in the series, Jessica makes the decision to confront him with her reluctantly accepting the help of an oddball crew. They include Tricia, bar owner Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and former victims of Kilgrave such as recovering addict Malcolm (Eka Darville) and Simpson (Wil Traval), a policeman sent by Kilgrave to kill Tricia.
While I think Daredevil was a better show one thing Jessica Jones is superior with is with the supporting cast. Most of the characters are very likeable and all are well performed. People that viewers would disregard at first sight like Malcolm as just a junkie or Simpson as a thuggish cop have many layers to them and once we get to know them they become sympathetic. This layering also makes us hate Kilgrave even more, never mind what he did to Jessica. The show does an excellent job of illustrating a paranoid mood as Jessica has to look over her shoulder at everyone since any person she passes by in New York could be under Kilgrave’s evil influence. Who would’ve thought that a forgettable Daredevil villain in the comics would be so formidable? It just proves that the showrunners hit the mark by getting Tennant to play him. His acting is so good you forget that he was once the loveable Doctor in DoctorWho.
Aside from its paranoia, the show is very gritty at times with borderline R-rated fare that drips with lots of violence, cursing and sexual innuendo. At times it takes on a pseudo-noir motif as Jessica narrates her observations while she does her work. At times the show feels cliché, especially with all the scenes (it was borderline silly) of her swigging down alcohol, and many panning shots of the gritty city that try to emulate TaxiDriver, but it usually works. This world felt real and grounded and largely removed from the MCU, though the presence of superheroes is there. Many of the MCU Easter eggs run the gamut of being so subtle you miss them to being upfront and moving along the fact that this little corner of the MCU has its own inter-connected world. By the way, the show makes great use of Luke Cage, who is well fleshed out as a character in his own right and perfectly set up to headline his own TV show. Can’t wait to see it.
Once again Marvel hits it out of the park with Jessica Jones and prove that when they put their collective minds to it, they can produce memorable TV fare.
The Empire Strikes Back was the most important Star Wars sequel ever made simply because it was the first sequel. If it stumbled and failed to at least match the hugely successful Star Wars, then who knows how the Star Wars franchise would’ve fared. Maybe creator George Lucas may have been able to complete the trilogy and the films would not have been so revered as they are to this day.
Fortunately for everyone, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back turned out to be much, much better than expected. As it stands, it’s still the gold standard for Star Wars films that hasn’t been matched more than 30 years later.
The Empire Strikes Back’s opening crawl tells of a Galactic Civil War taking place long ago in a distant galaxy. The Rebel Alliance has scored an impressive victory when the farm boy-turned-rebel Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) destroyed the Galactic Empire’s massive Death Star battle station. The celebration was short lived for the Rebels, who were forced to flee their headquarters to the frozen planet Hoth. Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones), commanding the imperial fleet, leads an exhaustive search for Luke and the Rebels with the intent of crushing the rebellion.
An imperial Star Destroyer battle cruiser launches several probe droids throughout space to find the Rebel’s new headquarters. One of them lands on Hoth and begins its mission. A few miles away, Luke Skywalker is out on patrol riding a tauntaun, a bipedal beast of burden. After checking in with his friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke and his tauntaun are attacked by a wampa, a yeti-like predator. The tauntaun is killed while Luke is knocked out. Waking up in the creature’s den, he manages to escape, but is lost in a raging blizzard. Before long he succumbs to the pelting snow and collapses. Before passing out he sees a vision of his old, deceased mentor Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and is tasked by the specter to go to the planet Dagobah and continue his Jedi training.
Han Solo returns to the Rebel base and announces to Rebel leader Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) that he intends to leave the base to pay off his debt to the gangster Jabba the Hutt. He and Leia get into a heated argument, which underscores the smoldering romantic tension between the two. Then they learn that Luke hasn’t returned yet from his patrol. Fearing the worst, Han heads out with a tauntaun into the white maelstrom to look for his friend. He eventually finds Luke unconscious, but they’re forced to spend the night out in the tundra.
The next day, a Rebel patrol rescues them. Back at the base the celebration over their return is cut short with the news that a probe droid transmitted their location to the Empire. The Rebels are forced to evacuate as Darth Vader arrives with his fleet and dispatches a contingent of imperial walkers, ambulatory tank units shaped like quadrupeds, to attack the Rebel base. To delay the imperials, Luke and a group of fighter pilots fly several snowspeeder fighter craft and engage the walkers, but the fight is one sided. The walkers are too armored for the snowspeeders. Still, the fight gives the Rebels enough time to evacuate. However, Leia is blocked off from her route to an assigned ship. This forces her and the protocol droid C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) to leave with Han and his Wookiee first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in his ship the Millennium Falcon.
Once in space, Han finds out that the Millennium Falcon’s engines are damaged and the ship can’t jump into hyperspace. Pursued by imperial ships, Han hides out in an asteroid field to make some repairs. During this time, the feelings between him and Leia grow stronger and the two begin a romantic relationship.
While Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3P0 escaped Hoth, Luke and his astromech droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) managed to flee Hoth as well in his X-Wing fighter craft. Instead of rendezvousing with the Rebels, Luke instead goes to the planet Dagobah, a planet covered in dense vegetations and swampy environments. The X-Wing crashes into a swamp, but Luke and the droid are able to make a camp. Before long, they are visited by a diminutive, goblin-like being (Frank Oz) that claims to know Yoda and takes Luke to meet him.
Luke and R2-D2 accompany the small green person to his muddy hut and Luke becomes irritated by the person’s eccentric behavior and syntax. The being rummages about his dwelling and speaks gibberish to the point that Luke scolds him about wasting time. Seeing the young man’s impatience, his demeanor becomes serious and says to an unseen person that Luke cannot be trained. In response, Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice implores that Luke has potential. Luke realizes that this person that he dismissed moments ago is indeed Yoda. Startled by his error in judgment, Luke joins in the conversation and practically begs to be trained as a Jedi. Finally, Yoda gives in agrees to train him.
Time passes in the bog as Luke learns the ways of the Force, the mystical energy field wielded by the Jedi. He grows in mind and body as he undergoes physical and mental training. He also begins to have explicit visions. One of them is a precognitive one. Luke sees that his friends Han and Leia are in trouble. This convinces Luke that he has to leave to save his friends. This concerns Yoda and Obi-Wan, who now appears as ghostly presence. They believe that Luke hasn’t completed his Jedi training and is vulnerable to Vader and the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid), who want to lure him into embracing the dark side of the Force. Luke is adamant about leaving Dagobah, but promises to return to complete his training. As he leaves with R2-D2 in his salvaged X-Wing, Obi-Wan laments that Luke is their only hope. Yoda replies “No, there is another.”
Back on the asteroid field, Han and his group are forced to leave their hideout because it turned out that he piloted the Millennium Falcon inside of a giant whale-like space creature. Outside the field, they resume their cat-and-mouse game with the imperial ships. During the maneuvers, the Falcon is able to evade the Star Destroyers by piggybacking onto the side of one of their hulls. The Rebels are finally able to shake their pursuers when the Star Destroyer jettisons its garbage and they drift away with the debris. The plan works as the imperial fleet jumps into hyperspace, but they’re unaware that nearby in a small ship, a bounty hunter called Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) is tracking them.
Going through his navigational charts, Han realizes that they’re near the planet Bespin. He knows an old friend there, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who runs a floating mining facility there and can offer them a safe haven. When they arrive in the luxurious floating city, they’re greeted warmly by Lando, but they don’t realize that they have walked into a trap that will lure Luke Skywalker into the hands of Darth Vader.
After being out of the TV landscape for over a decade now,Star Trek will finally return as a TV series on January 2017. Now the bad news, it will only be available via streaming a la Netflix. Actually if it was on Netflix or a cable channel it wouldn’t be so bad but in order to see the entire series you have to purchase the new streaming service called CBS All Access.
CBS Television Studios stated in a press release that aside from the first episode, which will be broadcast on the network, all the other episodes will only be shown on the streaming service for $5.99 per month.
Think about that. Six bucks a month just to see new Star Trek episodes. While the service also provides access to the previous Star Trek series (and don’t be surprised if all the series will become exclusive to CBS All Access–goodbye Netflix), who wants to pay more money from our TV budget just to see Star Trek? It’s bad enough we have to pay for cable and Netflix just to see the better shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Daredevil, but now we’re being forced to cough up more money just to see new Star Trek. Never mind that we’ll be able to see the junk that CBS has because who cares about all the CSI/NCIS clones and stale comedies that clutter that network’s schedule?
This follows the same dumb strategy that Paramount carried out in the ’90s with their so-called TV network UPN. Star Trek: Voyager kicked off the network, which struggled throughout its existence until it finally merged with the other fledgling WB Network and became The CW. Of course, by that time Star Trek was banished and retired. The point is that this strategy didn’t turn out too well, so what makes CBS think it will work this time? The smarter thing would’ve been to shop it to a cable channel or strike a deal with Netflix or Hulu. Broadcasting Star Trek on CBS is a non-starter and won’t be a good fit with their generically bland fare. This also proves the notion that network and even cable TV is dying out and underlines the fact that streaming services will be the standard for watching TV programs.
other downside with this announcement has to do with who is running the show. Alex Kurtzman, the guy who helped dumb down Star Trek in the movies with his cohorts J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci. So it’s a given at this point that despite the press release proclaiming that the show will feature new characters it’s a lock that it will take place in the NuTrek universe that emphasizes cheap and flashy thrills over substance. Many talented showrunners could’ve been given the reins for the new Star Trek show, people like Bryan Singer, J. Michael Straczynski and even Manny Coto have expressed interest in jumpstarting a new Star Trek show. Any of them would’ve been terrific choices to hand the franchise over to and let it grow. But with Kurtzman in charge, it just leaves a sour taste and there isn’t any way that the original and true Star Trek universe will ever return.
Honestly, ask yourself this question: will this new Star Trek be worth the extra expense? Sure, it’s great that Star Trek is finally back on TV where it belongs, but not under these circumstances.