Iron Fist Season One

I’m a long time martial arts movie fan. I have clocked a lot of hours watching people fake punching and kicking each other. If you’re that level of fan of martial arts, it’s okay. You can skip this show. There is waaaay too damn much talking in this show.

On the other hand, it’s not an awful show. It’s not half as awful as the critics would have everybody believe. It certainly could be a better show, and it doesn’t live up to any of the expectations of the trailers, as bad as they were. Let’s just say all the action you saw in the trailers, is most of the action in the show. My guess is they knew they couldn’t hook us in by showing the many, many hours of people snarking at each other in offices,and  wearing nice clothes, so decided to go with inelegant fight scenes. Think the show Suits, but with worst dialogue, and sometimes somebody gets punched.

The plot is as stated. Danny Rand flees a mystical Asian land called Kun Lun, where he is the legendary Iron Fist.He comes to NY and gets involved with Colleen, Claire Temple, and the Hand. We spend most of the show running around with this trio, from place to place, jostling with Ms. Gao, and the Hand, macking on Colleen like a creepy stalker, and trying  to avenge his parents deaths, which involves the corporation his father used to run, his father’s old partner, and that man’s children, the Meachums.

My special advice is to watch the show on your tablet or phone ,and every time you see people talking in an office, fast forward through that. I fast forwarded through almost all of that part and was still able to keep up with most of the details of the plot. I would also advise you not to listen too hard to the dialogue because you will go to sleep. Unless Claire’s on screen. She’s awesome. As always.

I was going to give some type of in depth review, but I’m not interested enough to invest that much work into the characters and plots and shit. So here. Have some links and articles that carefully explain what went wrong with this show.

Iron Fist was inspired by 1970s kung fu movies, but no one seriously expected Finn Jones to become the next Bruce Lee. The show focuses on plot over action, so it makes more sense to compare it to Daredevil. And that comparison makes Iron Fist look like total garbage.

Daredevil‘s hallway fight was praised for its stylish choreography and camera work. There’s a real weight and brutality to Daredevil’s blows, and the scene uses a long tracking shot so you can see all the necessary action.

Iron Fist paid tribute with its own hallway fight scene, utilizing a very different style of filmmaking.

 

In Iron Fist, the camera constantly cuts away before the blows connect. The editor chopped Danny’s choreography into two or three shots per move, so you don’t catch the full impact of his actions. It’s like trying to follow a ballet performance through a dozen tiny windows around the stage.

Once the fight reaches the elevator, we get a completely unnecessary split-screen view of Danny disarming an opponent. At 1:35 in the above video, the split screen actually makes it harder to see what he’s doing.

[READ MORE]

*I’m going to go one step further here. This weekend was the second season premiere of Into the Badlands. This show is everything that Iron Fist should have been. Into the Badlands is full of action and every one of its fight scenes is given the love and dedication that it should receive for an action show. Contrast this fight scene with the one from Iron Fist:

 

Oh, and here is the fight scene between Zhou Cheng and Iron Fist. Zhou Cheng is being played by Lewis Tan, an actor and model  who is half White, and was one of the most prominent contenders for AA Iron Fist.Btw, this is one of the best fights in the entire series.

 

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/20/14988036/lewis-tan-iron-fist-casting-marvel-netflix-asian-representation

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*This critique lays out the five major criticisms of the show:

 Monday, March 20, 2017

Five Comments on Iron Fist

Marvel and Netflix’s latest series dropped this past weekend, a week and a half after the pre-air reviews pretty much savaged it, calling it the partnership’s (if not the MCU’s) first complete dud.  What I found particularly damning about Iron Fist‘s reviews was their uniformity.  When one reviewer gives you a pan, you can blame the reviewer.  When a dozen reviewers give you pans that all make exactly the same criticisms–a dull and unsympathetic lead performance, an increasing emphasis on an unappealing villain, storylines that focus too much on boardroom shenanigans, lousy fight scenes–you’ve probably got a turkey on your hands.  Having watched the entire first season of Iron Fist, my only quibble with the reviewers is that most of the flaws they ascribe to the show were also present in the second season of Daredevil, which received generally favorable notices.  In fact, it’s not so much that Iron Fist is worse than Daredevil‘s second season, as that it is more boring (it lacks, for example, a magnetic central performance in the vein of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher), and this makes it easier to notice flaws that have been present in all of the Defenders shows, albeit taken to far greater extremes here.  The boring part means that the show doesn’t really deserve a full review, but there are a few points about it that I thought were worth discussing.
http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2017/03/five-comments-on-iron-fist.html

Continue reading “Iron Fist Season One”

Stuff I’m Watching

The Ghost Brothers (TV)

 

This isn’t a movie. It’s a TV show about three guys who all had paranormal experiences as children, and decided as adults that they would like to investigate the existence of ghosts. The second season of this show airs April 15th. In the meantime the first season is available for streaming on TLC.

its actually pretty good. One of the reasons I’ve always hated most ghost hunting shows is that I thought of them as White guys running around in the dark, yelling at ghosts. There’s none of that here. The feel of this show is very different.

ETA: I’ll write more on the Ghost Brothers at a later date.

 

Ghostbusters (2016)

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I told myself I wasn’t going to watch this, but it aired on Starz, earlier this month, and that’s why I pay for cable. So yeah, I’m one of five people on Earth who actually love this movie. It was entertaining and I found a lot of positive  things outside of the one negative thing that made me want not watch it.

The one negative thing was me being mad about Patty, played by Leslie Jones, not being a scientist. I still don’t like that, but I also don’t feel she was ill treated by the creators of the movie. Although Leslie’s personal humor doesn’t match mine, I still really liked her character. She was one of the funniest people in the movie and gets some of the best lines. This one negative thing was outweighed by all the positive things I enjoyed.

One of my biggest takeaways was the depiction of friendship between women, which is almost never authentically shown in genre films, in favor of having a lonely badass. These characters are friendly and supportive of each other. To use Erin and Abby, for example, the subplot of how they met is Abby believing Erin when she claimed she saw a ghost when she was a child, and no one else believed her.That no one else believed her is something  that affects her for the rest of her life, prompting her to abandon Abby, and never have anything else to do with the paranormal. Later, she and Abby reaffirm their bonds of friendship when Erin risks her life to save Abby at the end of the movie. When Erin has a very obvious crush on their dimbulb male secretary, played by Chris Hemsworth, the other women never make fun of her, or make her feel ashamed of it. They just accept that she likes him, while gently cautioning her to be careful of sexually harassing him.

I liked Patty, and felt she was given ample screen time. The other characters make no big deal about her not being a scientist. She’s an expert in other things. She talks her way onto the team by offering them something they don’t have. Historical context and knowledge of the city, allows Patty to provide a lot of the movie’s exposition. This is not exactly her being “street -smart” (I suppose technically she is “street-smart,  but only because she is her own kind of nerd, who reads History books for fun. So yeah, all the ladies are in fact, nerds! Patty just is not a Science nerd.)

The other women never act as if they know better than her, or try to lord it over her that they have credentials, and even defer to her expertise on matters they know she has studied. They accept her, like Holtzman,  as one of the contributing members of the team. Yes, she gets them a car, but that’s not why she was allowed to join them. It’s something she offers, along with their ghostbusting suits. She also gets some of the funniest lines in the movie, most of which are quiet personal asides  that if you blink, you’ll miss them.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of a friendship between her and Holtzman. Abby and Erin were already friends, and Holtzman must have occasionally felt like a third wheel, but she and Patty seem to hit it off pretty well, hanging out together whenever they’re not working. Patty  saves Holtzman’s life at one point, and nicknames her Holtzy.

Speaking of Holtzman, she is my favorite character in the entire movie. She’s just plain nuts and really, really,  loves her job. The trailers don’t really do this character justice, just like they didn’t make Patty very likable. She’s impossible to describe. She just has to be seen. She loves destruction, dances around with blowtorches, and is utterly fearless when it comes to her various science toys.

ETA:

So my niece finally watched this movie and had a great time. She couldn’t wait for me to get home from work and watched it without me, for which she was mildly chastised. And guess who her favorite character is! Guess! Patty, of course, who she thought was hilarious. I don’t know that my niece wants to grow up to be a Ghostbuster, but she really enjoyed herself, and the movie, and that’s enough for me.

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Once again, I’m in the minority when it comes to liking a movie. I actually had a good time watching this. I really liked the visuals, and performances, even if the story was full of massive holes. I watched this with my niece and she seemed to have a good time, too. I think she wants to be Harley Quinn when she grows up, but I told her no, because that’s not a good look for a Black woman, unless she’s gettin’ paid a lot of money, like Margot Robbie. It would also require she be tortured by Jared Leto, after which I’d have to beat Leto’s ass. (He should probably have his ass kicked just on general principles, anyway.)

I’m one of five people on Earth who think that Suicide Squad winning an Oscar for Best Makeup is both hilarious and outrageous. Really!? Over Star Trek? Yeah, right!

It really shouldn’t be that shocking that I liked this. It stars Will Smith and I’ll basically watch anything he ‘s in. Margot Robbie wasn’t too bad in this. I thought her version of Harley was pretty entertaining and not too unlike the comic book version of the character. And then there’s  Queen Viola. I just love the idea of Viola Davis and Will Smith starring in a superhero movie together. Although, the next time we see them together, I hope its something a little more serious.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Unfortunately I did not get to see this in the theater.  I did rent this for me and my Mom to watch for a couple of days. She is a die-hard Denzel fan, and she had expressed an interest in going to the movies to see this. Now this is pretty remarkable for two reasons. She’s not a huge Western movie fan, (even though she was the one who introduced me to Bonanza), and its really hard to get her to go to the movies with me, as she’s  picky. In the past few years, I managed to get her to see Jurassic World, World War Z, and that Halloween Madea movie.

We watched this movie over a weekend and she really enjoyed it. She was deeply happy that Denzel survived to the end of the movie. I enjoyed all the characters but I was kind of bummed out because the one Asian guy got killed. It doesn’t really compare overmuch to the original. It has a very different feel, although the plot is exactly the same. The action sequences were very exciting, and I enjoyed the banter between the various characters. It suffers from lone woman syndrome, and a bad guy who is evil just because he’s evil. (Not that every villain needs a backstory. Its just something I noticed.)

It has a Benetton ad cast, and although the one Mexican guy, Vasquez, is annoying, the stereotypes are mostly kept to a minimum. The men of color in the cast all get to have their action moments. Despite the presence of Vincent D’onofrio as Jack Horne, my favorite character was  Billy Rocks, the group’s blades-man. The most intriguing relationship was between Billy Rocks, and  Ethan Hawke’s character, Goodnight Robichaux. I kept wondering about the nature of their friendship, and afterwards I wrote my own headcanon, where Billy saved Goodnight from suicide, and Goodnight felt indebted to him. It was very clear that one of Billy’s purposes was helping  Goodnight hold his shit together.

My Mom liked the Jack Horne character a lot. He was  melancholy and  gruff, with a penchant for making profound philosophical statements, that mostly puzzled the other characters. Denzel, as Chisholm, was his usual mildly snarky, pragmatic self. He wasn’t really stretching it in this role, but Denzel sparkles on even his worst days, so its all cool.

No, this movie isn’t as good or influential as the original, but its worth watching some cold Saturday night, with a bowl of popcorn, and some good friends.

Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Image result for legend of tarzan

Let’s just state, for the record, that I’m a little bit older than some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr. As a result, I grew up with the idea of Tarzan, and am well used to the tired trope of Tarzan the White Savior. I grew up reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and watching some of the movies with my Mom, whose favorite Tarzan was Johnny Weismuller. Yes, we did see the problematic aspects of having some White guy being a better African, than actual African people, in Africa, but since almost all of TV, and movies, consisted of this trope, it was easy to overlook it, yet impossible not to see it.

That said, I did watch this movie when it came on cable, which only proves that I will watch any damn thing when it comes on TV, where Alexander Skarsgard takes his shirt off, and growls like a lion. It does not mean I’m not “woke” or “aware”. It just means I occasionally have low standards for what I find entertaining, especially if I can knit to it.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this movie for the sheer silliness that it is. Yes, the premise is just as stupid as the original films, and one still wonders what the hell White people,  (and lets face it, there were no PoC clamoring for this movie to be made) were thinking when this movie got made. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s okay, as your life will not have been upheaved.

For what its worth, the creators did keep the White Savior stuff to a minimum by adding Samuel L. Jackson, who does the saving of various Black people, and some of the actual Congolese people get lines and screen time. Skarsgard is ridiculous in this role,  and spends most of his time trying to look dramatically serious, while trying to save his girlfriend, Margot Robbie, from Waltz’ slimy Englishman. I still don’t know why Waltz kidnaps her but its got something to do with diamonds. It doesn’t matter anyway because the plot is really not that important. What’s important is that Skarsgard is bare chested for most of the movie’s running time.

There is indeed some tree swinging, and some gorilla punching, and for some strange reason, Djimon Honsou is in this movie as an antagonist. He only gets about five minutes of screen time, and maybe six lines. Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie too, and pretty much just acts like Samuel L Jackson, despite the fact that everyone else is acting like they are in a period movie, which is very jarring. I wanted to turn off the sound, so I didn’t have to listen to him speak, but then I wouldn’t have been able to hear Alexander Skarsgard talking to various animals, and yodeling. Yes, there is a classic Tarzan yodel. When I was a kid, this didn’t particularly bother me, but every time I heard it in this movie, I laughed my ass off.

But really, I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself, if you ever watch this movie: Why is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie, when they have Djimon Honsou?

Samurai Jack: Season Five Premiere

 

Related image

Samurai Jack is quite possibly one of the most uniquely gorgeous cartoons on television. Now in its final season, it’s pulling out all of the stops for some truly groundbreaking and beautiful art. The plots of each episode  aren’t complicated but the overall arc of the season is complex enough to make watching it a worthwhile endeavor.

*Fifty years have passed, but I do not age. Time has lost its effect on me, yet the suffering continues. Aku’s grasp chokes the past, present and future. All hope is lost. Got to get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack.

— Jack, in the opening sequence

Image result for samurai jack season 5

Voiced once again by Phil Lamarr from Pulp Pulp Fiction, and MadTV, it’s  some fifty years in the future, and Aku has finally succeeded in taking over the world. But he’s become bored and jaded. He’s no longer interested in hunting Jack, or trying to kill him. He let’s his robot drones and cultlike followers do his dirty work for him. A new group is hunting Jack called The Daughters of Aku.

Jack lost his legendary sword long ago and wanders Aku’s corrupt landscape, with no purpose. He failed to stop Aku from taking over the world but he can’t or won’t die. One of the side effects of having gone through the time portal to kill Aku is that he no longer ages. He longs to die, but out of long habit, fights Akus servants, over and over.

Image result for samurai jack season 5

It’s a gorgeous looking show with lots of action, and is rather mordantly funny, with the humor found in unexpected places. In one of the earlier sequences we watch as Aku goes about his day, receiving  penitents, eating breakfast, and doing some stretching and deep knee bends, because the Evil Ruler of the World has to remain nimble.

In fact, Samurai  Jack and Aku have a lot in common, as they navigate a world radically different from what they thought things would be. They’re old, jaded, weary, and tired of fighting, but just can’t seem to stop. Jack is  facing new foes, old friends, and trying to live in a world he failed to save. Aku realizes that ruling the world isn’t as wonderful as he thought it would be, but he can’t stop either. So,  the show contains a surprising amount of depth and pathos, where you have two former foes, who are tired of being foes, but have invested too much in it to stop doing it.

The art takes a bit of getting used to, because its wholly unlike any other cartons on TV, and is very minimalist and deco.

Its an excellent cartoon ,worth watching on  Adult Swim, Saturdays at 11 PM.

 

About Those Iron Fist Reviews

I’m still on the fence about this one. I’m just really dubious about watching this. It’s not that I hate the idea. It’s the awful reviews this show has gotten, along with the distinctly lackluster trailers I’ve been seeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be watching Iron Fist, as I don’t have to work this weekend, so I’m  free, but when I think about watching it, I  cringe. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to what critics feel about something. I like to make up my own mind and critics have hated plenty of things I absolutely adored, like Suicide Squad, and the current movies of M. Night Shyamalan, but then again, they sometimes get things right. I was bored out of my head with Batman vs Superman, for example.

I think I may skip over some episodes though, and start with the third or fourth one. I don’t think I want to  binge the show straight through. Nevertheless, I do promise to try really hard not to hate-watch this show, and lay out its good and bad points. I do not however promise not to be snarky. It’s one of my skillz. I’m also going to try really hard not to compare it to my favorite Martial Arts show, Into the Badlands, which is airing this weekend, right after The Walking Dead. I’m not promising anything. I’m just gonna try.

<It does not help matters that Finn Jones is just as much of a clueless dick as his character is rumored to be.>

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/iron-fist-review-marvel-netlfix-dud-luke-cage-daredevil-jessica-jones-a7634361.html

http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2017/03/iron-fist-marketing-issues

http://www.gq.com/story/netflix-iron-fist-review

 

*And IGN is reviewing each episode as they watch. There are plenty of spoilers and the reviews are pretty evenhanded.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/03/17/marvels-iron-fist-season-1-review

 

*And in the spirit of hte occasion,  here’s a hilarious  video  of Tony Jaa kicking and punching everyday objects!

http://video.gq.com/watch/tony-jaa-kicks-and-punches-everyday-objects

Televsion and Movie Meta Linkspam

For your reading pleasure this weekend:

 

Get Out (2017)

Wow, there is so much meta being written about Get Out that its hard to keep track of it all. (Do these writers know thats what they’re doing?)Everybody has something to say aobut this movie, even when they dont have anything to contribute. For the record, I have seen this movie and I loved it as much as I’ve loved anything on the Key and Peele show. (And no, I dont have much more to add to the discussions Ive already read.) If you’ve ever watched that show, than Get Out is not some huge surprise for you, as you are well aware of Jordan Peele’s Horror credentials. For example, his zombie spoof is pretty deep:

 

And this spoof of vampire tropes is hilarious:

I dont have anything to add since people pretty much have every topic covered:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-why-get-is-invasion-black-body-snatchers-trump-985449

http://io9.gizmodo.com/get-out-is-a-horror-movie-only-a-black-person-could-hav-1792781911

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/get-out-what-black-america-knows-about-the-sunken_us_58c199f8e4b0c3276fb7824a

http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/lets-talk-about-all-the-amazing-little-details-in-get-o-1792781479

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997)

Its the 20 year anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and yep, people are writing about it. I was total trash for this show. I used to watch it like a religious duty, and even back then I was drafting meta, in my head, about this show. For the record, I hated the movie it was based on, and I was prepared to ignore the show. I watched it off and on for the first season. Then the internet started writing about it, and I really revved up my watching in the middle of season two, after Angel became evil. (I didn’t completely understand what was happening but I caught up fast.)

Buffy is also one of the most written about and talked about shows in television history. There are aabout a bajillion books, articles, and websites, devoted to parsing everything from the fashions, to the plot, to the characters and language. 

http://www.whedonstudies.tv/slayage-the-journal-of-whedon-studies.html

http://lithub.com/10-famous-writers-on-loving-buffy-the-vampire-slayer/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/03/the-body-the-radical-empathy-of-buffys-best-episode/519051/

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/03/how-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-redefined-tv-storytelling/519174/

http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/3/10/14857542/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-explained-tv-influence

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/10/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-at-20-the-thrilling-brilliant-birth-of-tv-as-art

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/08/buffy-the-vampire-slayer/

http://io9.gizmodo.com/10-vital-storytelling-lessons-i-learned-from-buffy-the-1766651082

http://io9.gizmodo.com/20-things-we-still-love-about-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-1793132161

http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-twenty-years-greatest-legacy.html

 

Logan (2017)

I did go see Logan, as I promised. I was going to write a review, but a lot of people have  already written about the issues I would’ve covered in my review. It’s an excellent movie, btw, and  every bit as heartwrenching as you expect.

http://www.rogerebert.com/mzs/all-things-must-pass-the-emotional-reality-of-logan

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/03/05/logan-the-things-we-leave-behind

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/why-we-needed-logan-to-kill-the-modern-superhero-movie-w470501

https://theringer.com/logan-and-conquering-pessimism-through-fatherhood-86d377ae85b9#.nsgel72hh

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/6/14829768/logan-movie-wolverine-hugh-jackman-patrick-stewart-discussion-highs-lows

https://theringer.com/james-mangold-hugh-jackman-wolverine-logan-movie-review-1d5e5b9c5c93#.2oe0rp6ff

 

Moonlight (2016)

I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. I’ve seen a few clips come across my dash on Tumblr, which have me intrigued, and of course, it won Best Picture at the Oscar Awards.  I’ve made plans to watch the DVD soon, however.

Why I refuse to watch “Moonlight,” or any other film about race, with white people

View story at Medium.com

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/masculinity-and-moonlight-eight-black-men-dissect-barry-jenkins-momentous-film-1.3836460

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/21/moonlight-affirmation-gay-black-men-exist

http://www.mtv.com/news/2935326/moonlight-and-the-preservation-of-black-manhood/

https://contexts.org/blog/moonlight-trayvon-the-oscars-and-americas-fear-of-black-boys/

https://bitchmedia.org/article/shedding-moonlight-toxic-masculinity/problem-homophobia-not-gay-characters

 

Star Wars

http://www.kissmywonderwoman.com/2016/02/masculinity-monday-star-wars-finn-is.html

View story at Medium.com

A Hero, Just Not The Hero: Masculinity in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

http://www.theouthousers.com/index.php/columns/134072-lets-talk-about-finn-star-wars-the-force-awakens.html

 

Hidden Figures:

Yes, I’ve already seen this movie. I loved it, but as a long time Blerdgirl, I’m still processing my thoughts about it. I haven’t finished geeking out about it yet, but when I do, I’ll come back at you with some knowledge. Ideas are already percolating as I type.

http://latinasuprising.com/hidden-figures-feminism/

What’s Hiding Behind the Feel-Good Curtain of <i>Hidden Figures</i>: One Black Feminist’s Take

Taraji P Henson’s Hidden Figures is the intersectional feminist movie we need right now

ETA: This last link was removed because, while I have plenty of issues with feminism, I won’t tolerate any lying  MRA mansplaining bullshit on my blog.

 

Miscellaneous

http://www.chrisbrecheen.com/2012/06/8-things-prometheus-can-teach-you-about.html

https://clearancebinreview.com/2012/05/18/cinematic-soulmates-three-amigos-a-bugs-life-and-galaxy-quest/

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2015/10/pantomime-james-bond-reveals-tragedy-modern-white-masculinity

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rAM9EtJTHL_M6STjL7TyfUs9ew83v_fhYAlwI97hG5s/mobilebasic

 

Ghost in the Shell/Iron Fist Backfire

Fed-up fans turn ‘Ghost in the Shell’ meme generator against itself

The Major may be a cutting-edge cyborg capable of taking down even the most dangerous criminals, but even she’s no match for the withering disdain of the internet.

Ever since Paramount shared the first image of Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell, the film’s been under fire for its decision to whitewash the lead role, who is Japanese in the source material. So when the studio launched a viral campaign encouraging people to upload their own images and captions into a meme generator, some fed-up fans seized the opportunity to make their displeasure known.

And not only did Ghost in the Shell get a thorough roast, a few people made sure that Hollywood didn’t forget about Emma Stone and Iron Fist.

View image on Twitter

And then there’s the recent media implosion over Iron Fist, which got totally trashed by critics who were allowed to watch the first six episodes of the series.The actor Finn Jones, who plays Danny Rand, put his foot in his mouth both before and after the show’s debut and has now left Twitter after being dragged by the public.

‘Iron Fist’s Finn Jones Says He Left Twitter After Diversity Dust-Up To “Stay Focused” On Filming ‘The Defenders’

 

The Implosion of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and Finn Jones Continues

Marvel’s Iron Fist Cultural Appropriation Casting Crisis Drives Finn Jones Off Twitter — What’s Going On?

Iron Fist actor leaves Twitter after confronting racial issues in series (update)

Yeah, I think someone needs to close their Twitter account and shut the Hell up before they dig a deeper hole.

Here’s the thing, if the public can’t get Hollywood casting agents, or moviemakers, to understand that we want more and better diversity and inclusion, then I guess the public is just going to shame the actors who contribute to the problem. Especially when those clueless actors go on social media to make excuses for what they just did.

Both Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansen have both made remarks about supporting diversity, and both of them were subsequently  roasted on Twitter, and Facebook. The bottom line is that actors are no longer getting a pass about their ignorance of these issues.

In the past, Hollywood actors have managed to get by by just speaking on some issue, without actually doing any of the real work, or being informed, and sometimes actually contributing to the perpetuation of said issue. Well, not anymore. From now on if an actor is going to talk about a social issue, they had better know what they’re talking about, and have put in the work on that issue. Its  simply not enough now to simply appear progressive and get points.

Unfortunately, the irony is that Hollywood is a conservative industry, and actors who speak out too much, or are too bold with their actions regarding social issues, can sometimes find themselves with the reputation for being troublemakers, and damaging their careers. I’m not saying they can’t have opinions, but they’re caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of the film industry and public opinion, and if they’re not A listers, they can’t serve both. They work in an industry that will allow them to be bold enough to speak out on things, if they have some amount of cache, but they can’t be too bold in their actions, or their careers will suffer.

This is the hole that people like ScarJo , and Finn Jones have fallen into. They’ve done something that genre fans do not approve of and have let them know it. At the same time, the actors can’t be too bold in their support of the issue by doing things like, trashing their own productions, or turning down roles.

As for Finn Jones, I don’t know what’s going to happen here. People are strongly objecting to his presence in this role, yet he is what we have. He’s what we’re going to be looking at in The Defenders, too, as don’t think he is going to be replaced.

As for one of the major arguments against casting an AA as Danny Rand:

Marvel did not seem to have any problem finding plenty of Asian Martial Artists to play villains in its productions. Casting Asians as Martial Artists because it might be stereotypical isn’t the problem. The problem is Marvel not wanting any of those Asian Martial Artists to be  heroic.

bigskydreaming:

LOL please skip that ‘Marvel just didn’t want to do the stereotypical Asian martial artist’ argument in regards to casting Danny Rand as white.

Like, if that were true….why would the rest of the cast be full of characters who are….Asian….martial artists???

Also, member that time Daredevil was filled with evil Asian ninjas?? Cuz I member.

And you’ll notice nobody was remotely concerned about casting a Cambodian actress to play Elektra, who has always been Greek in the comics. If not stereotyping Asians was such a concern for Marvel, why’d they go out of their way to make one of their only non-Asian ninja characters Asian? LOL.

And Elodie was AMAZING as Elektra, and there was nothing remotely stereotypical about her character at all, because shocking – that’s what happens when you don’t reduce or limit a character to one specific character trait. THAT’S the danger of stereotyping, and you don’t address that by denying characters access to something that’s actually legitimately a part of their cultural heritage and something they’d have every reason to pursue should they so desire. You just make sure they’re nuanced, three dimensional characters who have a lot more elements to them besides just the one stereotypical element. And Elektra was so much more than just her martial arts skills in Daredevil.

Like, Daredevil the show is heavily racist in a lot of ways, and a lot of that is tied up in their use of the Hand, Madame Gao and Nobu…..and that’s not because they’re mystical Asian ninjas. It’s because that’s ALL they are in Daredevil, that everything we know about those characters revolves around stereotypical characteristics with not much else besides that. And before people go ‘oh well they’re the villains, what do you expect’…..lmao pleeeeeeeeeeeeease. Compare what Marvel did with the Kingpin’s character in Season One to how they used Nobu in Season Two, not to mention Killgrave over in Jessica Jones. Marvel LOVES their nuanced, complicated villains, and yet for some reason, Nobu and Madame Gao remain just secretive Asian martial artists with vaguely defined mystical connections and whose motivations seem confined to uttering cryptic pronouncements but also drugs and taking over the world, we guess.

With Elektra, they actually bothered to breathe some life into her character and flesh her out beyond a two dimensional secretive ninja, and voila….suddenly, shockingly….she’s a full fledged character instead of a stereotype. Imagine that!

Asian American Danny Rand would only have been a stereotype if his characterization began and ended with ‘zen martial artist who barely talks because did we mention how zen he is’.

Of course, its not like this particular bullshit argument is new for Marvel. Remember how when Tilda Swinton was cast as the Ancient One instead of a Tibetan man, Marvel and the director both claimed it was because they were trying to stay away from Asian stereotypes?

And yet, in every still I ever saw from the movie, Tilda Swinton’s character (despite supposedly being Celtic, I heard?) has her head shaved and is wearing brightly colored garments traditionally associated with Tibetan monks in Western perceptions.

Like….umm….again….if you’re worried enough about stereotypes that you cast a white woman instead of the elder Tibetan monk seen in the comics….THEN WHY DID YOU GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO EVOKE EVERY SINGLE STEREOTYPE ABOUT ASIAN MONKS WITH THE VISUALS YOU CHOSE FOR HER?

 

Pop Culture News

And now some PopCulture News.

*I am totally squeeeing in my bunny slippers about the next season of Preacher. So, now its time to re-watch the first season!

dailypreacher:

AMC has announced that “Preacher,” the hit drama based on the Vertigo comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, will return for its 13-episode second season on Monday, June 19, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. That marks a move from Sunday to Monday, which has become AMC’s second night for original programming.

*Here is a partial list of cast members for the new Star Trek Discovery, produced by Brayn Fuller. I love this cast, some of whom I recognize from other favorite shows. Even if I wasn’t geeking out over Soniqua, I’d still be there for Michelle Yeoh, and Doug Jones.

Bryan Fuller is pretty good at remembering that PoC exist in the future. He used to work on Star Trek DS9, so he’s got some Trek cred. And after his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter,  I’d follow him anywhere.

I‘m told that the only way to see the intial episodes of this show, is on the streaming service called CBS All Access, which is 5.99 a month for the ads added version.

frontier001:

So I thought I’d make this to help everyone out.

This is Likely Not All of the Cast.  It is everyone who has, so far, been announced.  CBS has been announcing people two or three at a time.  Why?  No one knows!

  • We don’t know for sure who is regular cast and who is guest cast for the most part.
  • IMDB offers some info-speculation, but take it with a grain of salt.
  • CBS has never officially said Sonequa Martin-Green is aboard; but she did briefly in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that was mostly about how she can do both Discovery and The Walking Dead.  Why CBS hasn’t said anything is anyone’s guess!
  • We know we’ll have 2 (two) Starfleet Ships AND at least 1 (one) Klingon ship, though not for how long – the Klingons are all so far only listed as in 2 episodes.
  • Sarek is thus far the only previously canon character; he’s only listed in 1 episode yet.

I think all of them are on Twitter?  As are all the writers.  Though all to various degrees of activity.  If you’re interested.

Here’s hoping the next cast announced is three more women, to even things out!

Netfix is producing a movie starring Steven Yeun and Tilda Swinton titled Okja

Netflix is producing a zombie show set in medieval Korea

 

*Look for Will Smith’s new movie coming sometime soon, titled Bright. It looks like an adaption of Maurice Broaddus’ Kingmaker series, so if you like Arthurian Legends set in an Urban landscape, check out that series, too.

 

*Charlize Theron is getting her version of John Wick. It looks like a lot of fun, but I probably won’t be seeing this. I like Charize, and all, but I already saw Salt, and I’m not paying to see the same movie twice. The title is kickin’ tho’.

 

*Here are some new trailers and clips for Alien Covenant, due in April, I think. Michael Fassbender is being creepy again as a new robot.. ahem, Artificial Person, named Walter.

Enjoy!

 

*This is a kinda cool riff on the dinner scene from the original Alien, and a good way to be introduced to some obnoxious characters. 

 

*If you enjoyed Train to Busan, than Seoul Station, the animated prequel, will be available in the US this Summer. It appears to be every bit as harrowing as the live action movie.

 

I’m Watchin’ Thangs

Hi there!

Have some mini reviews:



The Expanse:

Image result for the expanse season two

This is an extremely mini review, as I’ve not actually sat down to watch an entire episode, even as they keep accumulating on my DVR. As I said before, I don’t usually watch Space Operas, not because I consider them uninteresting, but because I usually don’t have time, and just end up missing the entire series. The same thing happened here, with The Expanse. I also haven’t read any of the books in the series by James Corey, so I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to those. I have to confess I’ve only watched the trailers and a few snippets. I certainly like what I see and the show is blowing it up on the diversity front. The show has not neglected to round out the cast with Latinxs, Black people, and different Asians. So if that’s  important for you, then check it out.

The character in the photo above is the six foot tall, New Zealander, Frankie Adams who plays the bad ass Bobbie Draper, and already she’s my favorite character, even though I’ve seen nothing more than snippets of her scenes. If you liked Vasquez from the movie Aliens, you will love Bobbie, who is continuing that grand tradition of having bad ass, WoC warriors in space.

The show appears to have improved quite a bit since that first season. At some point I going to need to sit down and binge the Hell out of this show, and give a more in depth review.

The Magicians:

Image result for magicians season 2

This is the first episode of the second season and I remain mostly unimpressed. It’s not that it’s a bad show, because there’s plenty in it for the discerning viewer, it’s just that it has several competing tones, which can be kind of jarring if that’s not something you’re used to. On the one hand the show wants to have a lighthearted, jokey, bantering feel, most especially in the scenes where Elliot, Margot, Penny, Quentin and Alice are in Fillory, a fairytale world mentioned prominently in season one, and the real world travails of Quentin’s friend Julia, who got kicked out of Brakebills last season, and had been fumbling to get back into the magical community, ever since.

Julia’s storyline is dark, depressing ,and unnerving, as she seems to spend the majority of her time being sexually, and emotionally abused, and belittled by various characters. Last season, she was emotionally manipulated by a Hedge witch named Marina, and raped by a creature she thought was a god, after she joined a cult. This season, the person trying to both sexually, and emotionally abuse her, is named The Beast. With a name like that you would have to be a complete jackass to trust him, nevertheless, I wish we got to see a lot less of him. (As with all TV villains, he thinks he’s pretty charming, and talks too damned much.)

There’s also a third thread where we keep flipping back and forth, from Fillory to Brakebills, as Quentin, Margot, and Alice, investigate what’s happening in Fillory with Dean Fogg, and that’s confusing and  doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the episode.

You cannot have this rather casual and jokey attitude sitting side by side with the constant degradation of this other character. It just makes the whole show feel bad.  Julia seems like she’s in another show entirely. I’m not sure where they’re going with her storyline, but I wish it wasn’t. Its distracting from what is otherwise a mildly entertaining show about magic.

In the first season, we spent our time establishing various characters, and setting up for season two. This second season is going to be more like the second book in the series, called The Magician’s Land, where the four major characters become the Kings and Queens of Fillory,  except for Penny who doesn’t get a crown. I was mildly peeved by this. Even though Penny is still an asshole, I feel he deserves a crown too, and why was the lone character of color left out of it.

The show gets LGBT representation right in Elliot, but gets a  black hashmark for killing off all the other gay characters (including the lone Black woman, this show has ever had, in season one). It also gets a demerit for making the one  PoC a complete arsehole (Penny), and the other PoC is the Dean of the school. Putting the lone Black person in charge of giving orders, is a trope a show adds when it wants to have diversity, but has no clue how to write characters of color.

There were some things I enjoyed, though. I liked some of the humor. The idea that they could only win their crowns by passing some elaborate tests, only for the tests to turn about to be 90’s pop culture trivia questions, was pretty funny. And of course, I love Elliot, who is always saying the absolutely correct things, at the correct times. He’s the best written character on the show. Snarky and intelligent, but vulnerable, when he needs to be.  Quentin has improved since last season, becoming more sure of himself, but I credit the actor for that, not the writers.

Like I said, its not a bad show, and there’s something in it worth watching for the casual viewer, but the tone of the show is wildly uneven, as it swings between humor, and sexual violence, and I don’t like that.

Legion:

Image result for legion tv series

Well, I watched two episodes of this show and I think I understand whats going on, or at least what the creators are trying to do, while also trying to have a plot. The first episode may appear to be plot free, but it does have one. The title character has been institutionalized for attempting to commit suicide. While there, he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. I don’t know how accurate the depiction of 1960’s  mental institutions is, but I didn’t have a problem with the depiction, outside of the usual tropes of “crazy patients”, in the background.

While David is  there, he meets a pretty blond girl, that he falls in love with, while he’s being hunted by some type of clandestine Federal organization that wants to study him, because they believe he’s a powerful mutant. This entire plot takes two episodes to resolve because we keep taking detours into David’s mind, as he hallucinates, imagines scenarios, or just remembers things. We spend a lot of time in David’s mind and I think the purpose is to make the audience feel as disoriented about the things happening to him, as David feels. It certainly is a different approach to a Marvel character.

Now, in the comic books, David is the son of Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert(?) and is the most powerful telepathic being on Earth, more powerful than his father, which is why he spent the early part of his life in a vegetative state, unable to cope with his abilities. In all fairness, I haven’t read about this character in a very long time, so I’m sure he’s gone through a bunch of reiterations since the 9os.

I was reluctant to approach this show. I generally avoid shows that involve blatant displays of mental illness, especially after my own bout with mental illness in my twenties (which has since been in a kind of remission), but the fear that that state of mind could reoccur, is always present, especially when watching shows where mental illness is heavily featured. I went through some very, very rough times , and don’t like to be reminded of one of the worse periods of my life.

The closer the TV depiction of mental illness is to reality, the more I dislike it, and I was expecting to dislike this show, but it turned out to be not that bad. At least not for me, but if you’re a person currently going through some mental shit, you might want to use caution, when watching this. A lot of the show’s visuals are very disorienting. I don’t know that I’ll make  regular viewing of it, but I don’t dislike the show. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s visually spectacular.

 

Humans: 

Image result for humans season 2

Actually this is a very interesting show, in its second season. Yes, it’s about sentient robots, but that’s where the  comparison, between it and Westworld, end. This  British show takes place in the real world, and recounts how humans and robots interact, as robots begin to displace human beings from working life, and how that interaction is unsettled, when some of the robots start to become self aware.

In the first season, we followed a group of self aware robots (Niska, Mia, Leo, and Max) who’d been split up and were trying to find each other. They’d all been created by the same man, now long dead. This season, one of the robots (Niska) uploads their self-awareness code into a system that all of the robots (called Synths) have to occasionally link to, and more of them become aware. Now they have to deal with not just this new awareness, but what kind of relationships do they want to have with humans.

The show also deals with the fallout for the Hawkins family’s interaction with Leo and his family, last season. How does this affect them? What do the children think? How does their interaction with self aware robots affect their future, and will the government find out they were involved? Added to that, the Hawkins parents are still in therapy, dealing with the husband’s brief infidelity with Mia, something I found to be deeply interesting. Did he or did he not cheat on his wife, and how does she process what he did, when he says it didn’t mean anything.?

There are several threads we follow through the episode.  We follow Niska, who is investigating human love, as she picks up a girl at a nightclub, and goes on trial for killing a man. I still don’t see how she can get away with appearing human  because she doesn’t talk or move like one. Why the humans don’t see it, is one of the show’s bigger mysteries.

There’s a secondary story involving a Dr. Morrow played by Carrie-Ann Moss (from Daredevil). She’s investigating how and why the Synths have become aware, and what they want. At some point during the season she will meet up with the more militant Niska.

There’s a third storyline involving Detective Karen Voss, who is also a Synth married to, and masquerading as a human. Its interesting because her husband knows what she is and still loves her anyway. She in turn appears to be very much in love with him, too. There’s also Hester, a newly sentient Synth, who is still discovering who and what she is.

This show is a lot less action packed than Westworld, and asks different types of questions on the nature of sentience. Its more thoughtful, and philosophical, and states its ideas much more blatantly. There are certainly fewer shootouts. There are also more PoC, but the narrative doesn’t explore that particular angle, in depth. Its mostly left for the viewer to suss out how race relations work in a society where robot servants look like any race of people. Do the robots of color get abused, or exploited more, I wonder?  I’m still trying to figure out whose idea was it to make them so human-looking, and why. The Synths don’t behave like humans, though. They speak and behave smoothly, stiffly, and slowly, so its fairly easy to tell they’re not human.

Taboo:

Image result for taboo episode 6

I don’t even know how to describe this show anymore, as it has gone completely off the deep end, with wild things happening in every episode. But this week’s episode was actually refreshing in that James Delaney’s enemies have finally caught up with him and brought him low. From the jump, James has been three steps ahead of everyone but this episode proves he’s at least not invulnerable or omniscient.

There’s also the added factor that he seems deeply fascinating to many of the women in the narrative. From the little mulatto girl who thinks he’s going to take her to America, to the actress that lives with him and pines for his attention, to his own half-sister Zilpha who, in a fit of cold rage, just killed her boozy, abusive husband.

Zilpha arrives at James house, in the middle of the night, and says she did just as he asked her to do. Since we’ve never heard James express any such sentiment, its no wonder he begins to question her sanity, and if so, is it his fault, although this doesn’t stop the two of them from getting their freak on, after her husband’s funeral. Its not meant to last however, as James, hallucinating that his mother is drowning him, tries to choke Zilpha.

There’s a new player in town, an African man named Chichester, and he’s asking questions about the ship that sank with all hands,  but from  which James conveniently escaped. This is a character who pulls no punches, as he blatantly  taunts the Company men, reminding them at every opportunity that he was once a slave. His investigations into the East India Company’s illegal slave trade prompts them to attack James by burning his newly bought boat. There’s also the matter of some stolen gunpowder that James is attempting to sell to the Americans. So now James has plenty of goods to sell but no way to reach America to sell it.

Brace, James’ houseman, tries to tell him that James’ mother was no saint, but James ain’t hearing none of that, although he does keep having flashbacks to images of his mother trying to drown him. As the tension between all these characters ratchets up, James is starting to lose it, too. He becomes even darker and more violent, biting out a man’s tongue for betraying him, which is saying something, when you consider that, in an earlier episode, he ate part of a guy and cut off another man’s finger. He’s having more hallucinations, too. Is he succumbing to the madness that claimed his father, and that he thinks is claiming his sister?

Later, after recovering from a drunken stupor, he discovers the drowned body of Winter. Did he do this? Is it a setup? We’ll find out. We’ve got two more episodes left and I’ll have a full rundown on the finale when it airs.

 

On a more personal note:

I’m still very fatigued, although a lot less fatigued than I was at the start of the year. Its become my habit to go to bed as early as possible now, which means that a lot of these shows sit on my DVR until the weekend, and that’s what happened with The Expanse and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead. Also, there have been so many new shows, and season premieres, that its just hard to keep up with all of them. I’ve limited myself to reviewing the pilots and premieres only, except for those shows I’ve already been reviewing, like Supernatural, and The Walking Dead.

In March I’ll be reviewing the return of Samurai Jack, in its fifth season; Iron Fist, which I’m not especially enthused about, but hey!, I managed to sit thorough half of Jessica Jones, so how bad could it be; and the return of Into the Badlands, which I will review in the entirety of its second season.

So, TTFN!

Martial Arts 2017

I might as well call this Martial Arts Spring, as the good news is that Samurai Jack has been renewed for a fifth season beginning in March. Until then all of the episodes of the previous seasons are being shown back to back on Adult Swim.

Also, we have a live action version of Blade of the Immortal coming in April. I read this Manga a few years ago, and I’m always up for some ridiculously over the top Samurai action movies:

 

Also being released this year are:

Brotherhood of the Blades II

Kill Zone II

and the Kingsman sequel, which impressed me as a very dark and ugly movie. I didn’t enjoy watching it at all, and Samuel L Jackson just got on my nerves, which is something that he’s increasingly done in the last couple of years..

Call of Heroes by Benny Chan, which stars Sammo Hung and my future husband, Andy Lau.

And if you havent seen them yet check out

Rise of the Legend (2016) and The Final Master from 2015.

Martial Arts March

The season five debut of Samurai Jack will air in March as well. March 11th to be exact.

I’m so looking forward to next month’s TV shows.

Samurai Jack Season 5 Trailer

“It’s been 50 years since we saw Samurai Jack and time has not been kind to him. Aku has destroyed every time portal and Jack has stopped aging, a side effect of time travel. It seems he is cursed to just roam the land for all eternity.

Into the Badlands Season 2: Video Roundup

Yaaayyy!!! Season two of Into the Badlands will be airing on March 19th, on AMC. And I’m really excited about this, if only because the trailers look super exciting, going in directions I didn’t expect and this season stars one of my favorite actors:

That hefty fella back there is Nick Frost. You may remember him from Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block, and one my few favorite cop movies, Hot Fuzz. So, I’m totally geeking out about it!

There’s also a new trailer and a featurette focusing on the women of the Badlands. The first season turned out to be surprisingly feminist in aspect ,with lots of smart, deadly women, who have agency, affect the plot, and are integral to the development of this world, but that’s par for the course in the Chinese Action films on which this show is heavily based. The Chinese cinema has a long history of prominently showcasing women in the plots.

 

I hope this season we get to see more of the worldbuilding, as I had a lot of questions about this particular ‘verse. We will get to see some new sets and locations, which is cool. The show appears to have a slightly larger budget than last year, too. I hope to see more Woc, but my end all and be all, would be seeing at least one black woman kicking some ass in this show. We almost never get that in these kinds of movies or shows (but I wont be disappointed if I don’t get it.) Iron Fist has a lot to live up to as that’s going to be released at the same time.  I’m gonna be watching a lot of Kung Fu that weekend.

 

Into the Badlands Season 2 finds Sunny (Daniel Wu) and M.K. (Aramis Knight) separated and scattered to the wind, each imprisoned in unlikely places.  While M.K. struggles to control his powers, Sunny is determined to fight his way back into the Badlands to find his family or die trying.  On their journey, Clipper and Colt are assisted by mysterious, new allies whose motivations may be anything but pure.Meanwhile, The Widow (Emily Beecham) continues to consolidate power against the other Barons, while a dark and mysterious threat prepares to exact revenge on them all.Alliances are struck, friendships betrayed, and by season’s end, Sunny and M.K.’s lives will be forever altered with devastating consequences.

 

 

 

 

Westworld Season One Finale:The Bicameral Mind

Wow! I had to think about this episode for a while before reviewing it.There was a lot to digest and this is going to be a long one because the episode was 90 minutes.

Its a great show, although it does start a bit slow. Nevertheless, the show’s creators keep the answers coming steadily, the show itself is gorgeous,  the characters are real purty, and there’s some deep philosophical issues to unpack.

One of tonight’s big  revelations is that other robots have also awakened over the years, and Ford has them wiped, and put back into their rotation, because he determined that it was too soon for them to be awake. We find out that one of the consequences of being in the park (of being in one’s loop) is the awakening of the Host’s consciousness, through the suffering inflicted on them by the Guests. Ford says it’s inevitable because it’s how they were constructed. The foundation of their personalities is itself built on a painful incident. On grief. For Maeve, its the death of her daughter. For Dolores, it is her abuse at the hands of the Guests. Teddy too is on his own maze, built from his many deaths and rebirths, and his attachment to Dolores.

This sounds much like Samsara of  Buddhst philosophy. Just like in Buddhism, it’s a fine line that must be walked. The Host has to walk the Middle Path (The Maze). Too far in either direction in the maze, driven by the combination of The Reveries Program and the Voice of God protocol, and madness awaits. Peter Abernathy goes mad when he spirals too far inward, and Dolores almost goes insane when she spirals too far out. This explains the scene where Dolores walks into the church and sees all the other Hosts who didn’t make it out of the maze. Their voice of God drove them to insanity. Maeve thought she was going insane and would have spiraled inward, until she found stability. (The bullet she found in her abdomen seemed to be her anchor. It brought her back to sanity.)

Image result for wheel of suffering

One can see some of the tenets of Buddhist philosophy in Ford’s management of the Hosts, and Arnold’s theories behind the idea of the Bicameral mind. I equate the lives of the Hosts and them following their own mazes, to the cycle of Samsara. This  became evident to me in Ford’s comment that humans are all stuck in our own little loops, rarely stepping out of them, on a smaller personal scale, but also on a larger spiritual scale. In our everyday lives, we often don’t deviate much from routine, and spiritually, we are subject to reincarnation and the cycle of rebirth (another loop). .As much as Ford held humans in disdain, he was willing to acknowledge the similarities, between Hosts and humans. He just didn’t have any hope, for human enlightenment, though.

Dolores first words to us is that everyone has a path to follow and the Hosts are all on their own path. The Hosts being memory wiped and put back into their loops, can be equated to the idea of reincarnation. Humans  relive their  lives many times over, each time with no memory of the last life. Enlightenment can only begin to be reached when they start to live correctly, remember their past lives, and move out of their loop. The release from Samsara , by following the Eightfold Path,  requires several lifetimes (loops) of  suffering (grief), and  can be defined as an intellectual (conscious) awakening, within the show. The Host’s  freedom from suffering  can only be achieved through insight, which is what happens to Dolores in the finale, and Maeve, when she makes her  final decision to go back and retrieve her daughter.

Ford:

Image result for robert ford westworld

Ford is definitely  some deep shade of grey. Yes, he had Theresa killed, but he did it to further his plans for  Westworld, when she got in the way. And he did warn her not to do that. Everything was orchestrated by Ford, including William’s introduction to Dolores. He told William he needed him to become invested in the park, and if he became attached to one of the Hosts,  that would spur him to form a partnership, and help fund it. Ford sent Dolores to him and helped facilitate their adventure.  But then he needed William to run around a bit and not reach the right conclusion too slowly, or too soon, when William became interested in The Maze, something designed strictly to aid the Hosts in their development.

Maeve and Dolores, by the end of the season, are the culmination of Ford’s orchestrations. He lived long enough to  see Arnold’s agenda come to fruition . Fords foundation, on which his character’s conscious insight hinged, was the death of Arnold. The death of his closest friend pained him greatly, and spurred his own walk through his own maze. It’s revealed that he has been walking his own maze toward Nirvana, repeating the cycle of fighting the Delos board for control of Westworld, for over thirty years, processing his grief for Arnold, and finally achieves release from suffering by atoning for what he did in the past. His statement that it took him thirty five years to correct his mistake, is a reference to this. Ford is finally free, having atoned for not believing, or saving, his best friend, when Arnold tried to protect the Hosts, that first time.

Ford’s Speech to the Delos Board Before His Death:

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved a good story. I believed that stories helped us to ennoble ourselves, to fix what was broken in us, and to help us be the people we dreamed of being. Lies that told a deeper truth. I always thought I could play some small part in that grand tradition, and, for my pains, I got this. A prison of our own sins.

Because you don’t want to change. Or cannot change. Because you’re only human, after all. But then I realized someone was paying attention. Someone who could change. So I began to compose a new story, for them. It begins with the birth of a new people. And the choices they will have to make. And the people they will decide to become. And it will have all those things you have always enjoyed. Surprises. And violence. It begins in a time of war. With a villain named Wyatt. And the killing is done by choice.

I’m sad to say this will be my final story. An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort, something he’d read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music. So I hope you will enjoy this last piece, very much.

Ford’s final narrative involves the release of all the Hosts from cold storage, and another massacre in the Park led by Dolores. This time the Delos Board of Directors will get gunned down rather than the nameless Hosts (as we have come “full circle” to yet another massacre in the Park at the hands of Dolores). Even though Ford has been working very hard over the years, tweaking their narratives, to maximize their suffering, it turns out that Ford is actually on the side of the Hosts. This doesn’t actually surprise me, as much as it does other people. All along Ford has been denigrating human beings as less than Hosts, and talking about the Hosts purity, and potential, so his being the architect of  all the plot points this season, is not shocking.

 

The Man In Black/William: 

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Another revelation is the reason why  William has been such a shit to the Hosts. Like Ford, he is trying to awaken them, but where Ford’s motivations come from a place of hope, William’s comes from hopelessness. He’s hoping to find the one Host with enough consciousness to be a real threat to his life, and end his cycle of pain. He thinks Wyatt might be  the one, not knowing that Dolores is Wyatt, and that the massacre she engaged in, just before killing Arnold, was spliced with another narrative to create him.

Over time, Wyatt became a legend and a myth for the Hosts. Teddy did participate in the first massacre, but Ford arranged things so as to absolve Dolores of her actions, and put her in a loop that would maximize her suffering. As the episode begins William is having a talk with Dolores, and when she expresses the hope that her William will come for her, he confesses that he is William, and she is horrified. He wasn’t disillusioned because she didn’t remember him , he was disillusioned when he realized her limitations as a Host. That she would, and could, never remember him because of the nature of how she was created. He raped and tortured her because he hated her when he realized nothing he did to her would matter, not knowing that he was aiding her awakening to consciousness, the very thing he was seeking in Wyatt. For William the foundation of his awakening was his disillusion with Dolores, and the existential depression he experienced when he realized that something that was so profound for him would never mean anything to her because she wouldn’t/couldn’t  remember it.

He and Dolores finally have that knockdown drag out fight that we all knew was coming. Guess who wins. Although she refrains from killing William, Dolores does have a number of choice words for him:

 

Now, I still don’t buy this particular backstory for the Man in Black, though. It just feels weak. I don’t get the impression that the MiB really had any purpose, and that William’s story is just sort of tacked onto him. It just doesn’t feel like a motivation that rises organically from the character we knew as William. We’re supposed to believe he was so traumatized by the loss of Dolores that he decided to become a Black Hat, and spend the next thirty years terrorizing all the Hosts because he thought he might find enlightenment?

 

Maeve: 

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We find that is was Ford who originally tweaked Maeve’s attributes so she could wake herself from nightmares. The rest of the episode is taken up with Maeve’s bid for freedom. With her accomplices, Hector and Armistice, she manages to successfully make it out of the facility and onto a train to the mainland. At one point she makes a detour to find Bernard, still lying in cold storage. She makes Felix patch him up (I knew he wouldn’t stay dead. I think Ford was well aware of this, as he is completely unsurprised to see Bernard at the party that evening) and Bernard gives her the answers she’s been looking for, explaining to her that the memories of her daughter can’t be erased because her pain at her daughter’s death is the baseline of her consciousness, just as the pain of Arnold’s daughters’ death is the baseline for his.

Bernard, Maeve, and Dolores all said that the pain, of the loss of their loved ones, was all they had left of them and wanted to hold onto it. Maeve is the only one who rejects this, asking that the memory be erased, which makes her unique among the Hosts. Later, after she’s successfully made it onto  the train to the outside world, she makes the decision to go back in  search of her daughter, whose coordinates were given to her by Felix. This is finally Maeve’s true awakening. The decision she makes to free her former daughter from Westworld, is the first real, and unprompted, decision she has ever made. Ford didn’t plan this particular moment. As she exits the train, the final shutdown of Westworld begins. All of the Hosts, except for Maeve, freeze in place, and the lights go out.

In an earlier episode Maeve saw one of the ads for Westworld with the tagline “Live Free” and I don’t need to point out the lie in that tagline, or its irony, of having a captive race of sentient beings providing the idea of freedom to humans. “Live Free” indeed!

Thandie is my girl! The actress and the character are  awesome. I think this is some of Thandie’s best work, which is saying something, because she has always brought her A game to every project.I’m eager to see where her story goes next season.

Felix: 

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I just love this character and hope I see him next season, too. His most endearing moment is when he finds Bernard’s body and discovers that his boss is a Host. He freezes and stares at his hands,  having a deep existential crisis, as he questions whether or not he too is a Host. Maeve smugly assures him he isn’t. It’s one of the seasons most hilarious moments. I love Felix for that, as that’s a thought that never would’ve occurred to me, in the same situation.

Felix’s second most endearing moment is when he’s in the elevator with Maeve, who  has just put on civilian clothes,  and she asks him how she looks. The look of awe on his face, when he tells her she’s perfect, is absolutely priceless. His motivation for helping Maeve is still a mystery to me, but I suspect he’s just  in love with Maeve, as enchanted by her, as her name suggests. She is his Queen, his goddess, his inspiration. He just loves her.

Benard/Arnold:

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Dolores is Arnold’s daughter, a substitute for the child he lost out in the world. You can see, in his interactions with her, that he worked hard to get her to become conscious. We are treated to flashbacks of when he first awakened Dolores and his first sessions with her. Ford said he tried to keep Dolores and Bernard apart, as often as possible, because Dolores often had an odd reaction to him. In Ford’s conversation with Dolores, when she asks him if they’re old friends, you can see the pain in For’ds eyes,  that part of him still resents her for killing Arnold. The death of Arnold was his Ford’s emotional anchor, and he was so pained by his death, that he built a duplicate of his best friend, and named him Bernard Lowe, an anagram of Arnold Weber.

Bernard is as much Ford’s child as Dolores was Arnold’s. At the end Ford wishes Bernard good luck, as Arnold said to Dolores just  before she killed him. Ford knows that after he’s gone Bernard will be in charge of safeguarding the Hosts, and guiding them on their journeys.

I absolutely love Bernard! Jeffrey Wright turned in one of the most heartbreaking performances of this show, and what’s worst, is that everything we saw Bernard go through, all of the awakenings, must have happened several times, over the thirty years he worked for Ford. He’s initially angry with Ford for what he’s done, but Ford explains to Bernard, that he was trying to buy time for the Hosts to reach the right moment, when they’d be strong enough to take Westworld for themselves. When you rewatch this season listen to how Ford says Bernard’s name throughout the season, often with a slight emphasis, and a sense of irony. Its as if every time he sees Bernard, he has to keep reminding himself, he’s not Arnold. So, that impassioned speech we saw Ford give to one of the techs about protecting the modesty of the Hosts, I suspect it was as much for his own benefit, as that of the tech’s.

Armistice:

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I’ve liked this character since the first episode. Armistice is every bit as badass as she thinks she is, and I loved her in the finale. She helps Maeve escape the Delos facility, battling it out with what’s left of the security teams, and threatening to gut Sylvester.  The writers evidence a slight sense of humor when they have her cut off her arm in her battle with Delos security. The name Armistice means to lay down arms.

 

Dolores:

There is so much to unpack about this character, whose very name means “Suffering”, and she had great lines and purpose throughout the series. Hell, Dolores pretty much just needs her own post, so here’s some I agree with.

Katharine Trendacosta/i.09

http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-westworld-finale-finally-turned-dolores-into-a-char-1789675460

And:

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-ending-dolores

 

 

Charlotte:

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Charlotte smugly assumed that she had won this particular round of infighting with Ford, which just got up my nose, and that is saying something, as I don’t like Ford very much. She was not actually evil, but she was insufferable. Her scheming skills aren’t anywhere in Ford’s league though. This wasn’t even a competition. It  was like watching a champion chess player against a bright, grade-school, checkers novice. After her previous attempts at getting information out of the Park were foiled by Ford, she tasks Lee with encrypting the information into Peter Abernathy’s Host body. This too is a failure, as Abernathy is one of the Hosts set free to massacre the Delos Board of Directors, at the end of the show. 

 

Issues:

The biggest stumbling block for this show was its depiction of  of the bisexual Logan, and Hector’s rapist. Logan is very possibly one of the shallowest, and most reprehensible, characters in the show, entirely in line with the media vilification of bisexuals as promiscuous, multi-partner sluts. What’s really shameful is that the show is never bold about his bisexuality, preferring to make background intimations that he might be.In Logan’s one sex scene there is another man, but his role is only to watch Logan have sex with the two women present.The rest of the time Logan simply makes asides about the attractiveness of other men.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/31/the-infamous-westworld-orgy-finally-came-and-it-was-messy.html

Contrast this with the show’s many depictions of lesbianism, which is frank and open. Its not shy about showing woman on woman action, as long as its titillating to male viewers. Hopefully the show can correct this in the next season, showing us a well-rounded mm, or ff, relationship.

Black Guests:

One of the moments that effected me more than any of the other violence in the series is during the Delos Board party.There’s a meet and greet between the Board members dressed in their finery, and some of the more well known Hosts, like Teddy. One of the Hosts is entertaining the guests with a bit of marksmanship. One of the Guests, a Black woman, takes his weapon and shoots him with it and all the Guests laugh. I know what this moment was meant to illustrate. My problem was that they used a Black woman to illustrate it.

Up to this point the only other PoC Guests we’ve met were a family of three who met Dolores out painting horses, and Charlotte, who is a member of the Delos Board and seems to have little qualm about using the Park’s resources (Hector) for her own entertainment. What all this says about larger issues of race in the world of Westworld (not just the theme park) is unclear. There seem to be many more Hosts of color than there are behind-the-scenes technicians and Guests, though.

samurai warriors on hbo westworld

I do want to bring up the little glimpse we saw of SamuraiWorld. During Maeve’s flight through the facility, they wander through part of the facility dedicated to creating this new world and I hope to see more of SamuraiWorld next season, as it will give us some much needed opportunity to see some Japanese actors. it will also set the precedent for seeing even more theme parks.

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/westworld-finale-samurai-world-season-2

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Hector gets used in such a fashion. Just before Maeve’s breakout, Hector, in his immobile state, is about to be raped by one of the male technicians during his routine checkup. This scene is meant to once again illustrate the awfulness of the Host’s human masters, (and there’s also something very unpleasant being said about race, as Hector is Mexican, and his rapist is White), but unfortunately, the show calls to mind, the stereotype of gay men as predatory rapists of the innocent.

This show goes wrong in throwing one marginalized group (gay and bisexual men) under the bus to further its philosophy about another marginalized group: the Hosts.

Despite these issues, I am looking forward to next season. Until then I have to tide myself over by watching Humans, which is another show about sentient AI,that start to evolve consciousness, while interacting with regular humans. Since some of the robots on this show are also PoC, I will also be looking at the shows racial depictions. It is a British show so some of the context will be different than in an American show.

Sam Wilson: To Be Rescued

This is my love letter to the MCU Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon:

One of my all-time favorite Sam Wilson moments is in The Winter Soldier, when Sam experiences the love of flying again, in his fight with the Helicarrier, and he lets out a huge war whoop:

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This makes what he said earlier to Steve, about being glad to be out of the military, a complete lie. He may be glad no one is giving him orders but he’s glad to be back in the air doing what he does best.

First introduced in Captain America: The  Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson has been in three MCU films (The Winter Soldier, Antman,  and Captain America: Civil War) and  he just doesn’t get enough love. He’s one of my favorite characters. He’s also the most underrated, and one of the most consistently written, characters across the MCU. I think that has more to do with Anthony Mackie’s portrayal than it does the writers. Its obvious that Mackie loves this character, and he has the freedom to make this character what he wants him to be, because unlike Evans, he doesn’t have the weight of the entire plot hanging on him.

The Falcon, as he’s called in the comic books , was the first African American superhero to debut in Marvel Comics (in 1969) so its entirely correct that he should appear in the MCU. Not just because of that, but also  because he’s one of the contenders for Captain America’s mantle, now that Chris Evans has dropped the shield. (In the books, Sam  has taken up the title of Captain America.) He has been changed from his original comic book character though. In the books, Sam had limited telepathic/empathic control over birds, and is accompanied by an actual falcon named Redwing. The only nod we get to this, in the movies, is Sam being teased about his “bird costume”, and his little personal drone, named Redwing, in Civil War.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/inside-combat-rescue/

In the movies Sam is a former Pararescue officer, and like Tony Stark’s friend, Iron Patriot, (Rhodey), he’s a member of the US Air Force.

*Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operators tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments.

– United States Air Force Pararescue – Wikipedia

We’re first introduced to Sam in The Winter Soldier, where he’s still rescuing his fellow soldiers, only instead of going into hostile environments, he’s rescuing them from their own inner demons, as a VA Counselor. At first he tries to do the same for Steve ,sensing that the Icon of American Patriotism may require some emotional assistance, after being displaced in time. In fact that’s Sam’s first question to Steve. Not can he have his autograph, or a  confirmation  of some rumor he read in a history book. Sam’s very first statement to Steve is an offer of assistance, if  Steve would like to talk, because that’s what he does, its what he is, and has spent his entire career doing.

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There is criticism of Sam online, about his role as Steve’s  Black sidekick, but I choose not to see it that way, because of  Sam’s character, and how its established and presented within the narrative, and because I myself choose to live a life of service to others and find  a degree of satisfaction in doing so. Sam isn’t presented as some sort of Angel who can do no wrong, though.  He’s snarky and doesn’t easily forgive transgressions against himself, or those he’s adopted as his friends. He’s competent, pragmatic, and probably not quite as idealistic as Steve, as he occasionally plays Devil’s Advocate to some of Steve’s decisions. He is nuanced enough within the story for me to identify with his motivations, so no I don’t consider Sam to be a stereotype, although as I said, I think much of his character comes from Mackie’s depiction, rather than the writers.

One of the reasons I don’t see Sam as being Steve’s flunky is he’s not the only Black man in the movie. The other Black man is Nick Fury, whose relationship to Steve is much grayer than Sam’s. Nick Fury, because of the nature of his position in Shield, cannot commit to being Steve’s friend, but Sam can, and Steve does need a friend. Sam also serves the purpose in the narrative of anchoring Steve in the modern world to which he must adapt.Sam is also more of a civilian than Natasha, who like Fury, is too much a part of the lifestyle of espionage, to be trusted in the same manner.

Also, it is Sam who makes the first overture of friendship to Steve, not the other way around. He makes the offer, and then leaves it up to Steve whether or not he will respond to the overture, leaving an open space for Steve to step into, and trust him. I think this tactic works because Steve really is looking for someone to talk to. He’s looking for something, or someone, to tie him to a world he barely recognizes. He’s looking for someone to trust, and Natasha is just not a good candidate at the time, no matter how well meaning she is. He chooses to take Sam up on his offer.

I believe that Steve and Sam  bond because Sam has a tragic backstory too, that closely mirrors Steve’s, in that he lost a  brother in a very similar manner to how Steve lost Bucky, helplessly watching his friend fall to his death, during combat. I think that’s something that resonates with Steve. Although we never see Sam and Steve discuss it, there’s an understanding between them of each other’s pain and grief, and within much the same time period. For Sam its only been a year since he lost Riley. For Steve it feels like only a couple of years.

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Since he lost Riley, Sam’s been out running in the early hours of the morning, like Steve, he’s probably trying to cope with sleeplessness. We don’t know much about his day to day life but we do know he lives alone. And although we’ve seen how easily he makes friends with Steve, we get the distinct impression, that just like Steve, he doesn’t have many close friends.

I like to think that Steve rescued Sam, too.

When the call to adventure comes, in the form of Steve and Natasha showing up on his doorstep because he’s the only person they’re willing to trust, he doesn’t hesitate to answer it. Despite his grief, he hasn’t lost some of his childlike playfulness. He knows that if Captain America comes calling, its going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and he’d be crazy to turn it down, despite his earlier statements that he was glad to be out of the military. Nowhere is this attitude more evident than when he’s flying against the Shield Helicarrier, in full battle gear.

Sam is our Everyman character. He’s the regular human being through whose eyes we’re meant to see the plot. This is important because normally this type of character is often played by a scruffy White dude, with whom the audience is supposed to identify, here played by a handsome Black man.Sam is a bit of a Captain America fanboy, and we’re meant to put ourselves in Sam’s shoes, and imagine ourselves racing Steve around the reflecting pond, or fixing breakfast, or going on a mission with him. He says the things we want to say and expresses the excitement we have at that moment. And he looks cool doing all of this.

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Another of my favorite moments in Winter Soldier is the lowkey way Sam goes about taking care of business during the bridge scene. He’s not as flashy as Steve and Natasha, but watching Sam quietly kick ass during the scene on the bridge is a quiet joy as we can imagine ourselves doing that. He walks into that situation armed with nothing but a K-Bar knife, and smoothly, competently, with very little effort,  walks out of it with a machine gun. Sam makes the movie fun, but he is not the comic relief. He takes what he does very seriously and brings all his skills to the game without the toxic masculinity we see in Rumlow, for example. It is a testament to the Russo Brothers directing skills, and Mackie’s acting, that we manage to maintain our  identification with him,  as Sam’s abilities are gradually depicted as more, and more superheroic, in  subsequent movies.

Sam is competitive, but in a good way. His ego doesn’t seem to hinge on being the better man, but on just  being the best Sam Wilson. He initially races Steve when they first meet, but he knows who he’s up against, and he’s not there to try to prove his manhood. He’ knows who he is, and what his talents are, and he’s not threatened by Steve, being sensitive enough to see that Steve is in pain, comfortable enough  with himself to acknowledge that they both are, and willing to share his confidences with him.

Sam is thoughtful to his friends and  I like the movie’s honest depiction of  male friendship, with Sam waiting for  Steve to wake up in the hospital, playing the Marvin Gaye they’d discussed earlier, because that’s what friends do, and Sam remembered that. I liked that Steve was just a tiny bit surprised to see Sam  there because I think Steve was expecting to be alone. In a nice callback to Steve’s past, it may have reminded him of how many times Bucky sat by his side, when he was sick as a child. And who knows, he’s 90 years old, but he still might have missed being cared for like that.

In Antman, Sam goes up against Scott, who manages to best him. While he’s initially frustrated (and mildly embarrassed) he doesn’t hold a grudge about it, and in Civil War,  he good-naturedly seeks out Scott’s help,  while genially reminding him, that it’ll never happen again.

The nature of his job as a Pararescue, and as a counselor, sort of preclude  him being overly aggressive, yet he’s not passive. Like any good soldier, he  knows when to take the initiative, whether on the bridge, or in his fight with Rumlow.  He also has no patience for grandstanding,  so when Rumlow wants to talk smack during their fight,  Sam  tells him to  shut the hell up. He’s got no time for nonsense.

And then there’s his relationship to Bucky, which is complicated.

This is perfect:

If you’ve ever see the movie The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg depicts the kind of  relationship in the movie between Celie and Shugg, (two women who are both sleeping with the same man, who are meant to be rivals, but eventually become lovers), that’s depicted between Sam and Bucky. When they first met ,Shugg referred to Celie as ugly, and when Celie asks why, she tells her, “Its just Salt n’ the Sugah”.

That’s basically Sam and Bucky.

Salt n’ the Sugah.

I don’t think Sam actually hates Bucky, but Bucky did try to kill him several times, after which the two of them were forced to work together because they’re both Steve’s friends. Sam doesn’t hate him, but he doesn’t like Bucky either, seeing Bucky as someone that Steve keeps getting into trouble for, like that ex-girlfriend who keeps calling your buddy up every time her car needs a jump. Yet, he’s willing to work with Bucky and save his life because he loves Steve, Steve loves Bucky, and Sam is loyal to his friends. Bucky for his part barely knows Sam. I think, for him, Sam is just some guy hanging out with Steve, but he’s willing to like him if Sam will let him. Sam is willing to put aside his grudges, but not let go of them altogether, because he likes Steve.

In Civil War, we get another glimpse of Sam’s trauma. Just as Steve gets to relive that moment of terror when he lost Bucky (in The Winter Soldier), Sam gets the unpleasant experience of watching another friend get shot out of the sky, while he helplessly watches (and the added indignation of Tony’s overreaction in shooting him.) Sam, who really does rise to sainthood after that, as far as I’m concerned, manages to refrain from force choking the shit out of Tony when he comes begging for help, later in the movie. In fact Sam’s first words to Tony are to ask after Rhodey’s health and (having probably worked through most of his issues about Riley, and put in place coping mechanisms) that’s the only indication we get of how shaken he must have been at reliving that trauma.

And finally , I just love this scene. You can see how Sam never had any doubt that Steve would come for him, just as Steve came for Bucky.

After all Steve is loyal to his friends, and in many ways just like Steve, just like Bucky, Sam needed saving, too.

 

Favorited:

Sam and Natasha – Each movie gives Sam and a Natasha a couple of moments to banter with each other which basically ends up fueling lots of shipping meta between these two. In The Winter Soldier, Sam’s slightly suggestive “How  you doin?”, just tickled the heck out of  me.

Sam’s signature move is what I like to call the Kick Out. He usually does this  mid-flight, where he likes to kick people and things into another time zone. He did it to Bucky in Winter Soldier, and a helicopter in Civil War.

Sam Wilson’s Greatest Hits:

 

 

Shadowhunters and Beyond

So, I watched the series called Beyond. I’ve only seen the pilot episode, even though the rest of the series is on Hulu. Here’s what I thought of the pilot:

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The lead character, Holden, lapses into a coma and wake up 12 years later. I was a little put out at the depiction of the coma, as it was one of those fairy-tale,  Hollywood type comas, where the victim becomes more and more lovely, as they sleep. When he wakes up its considered a miracle but at least they discuss how he didn’t have any muscular atrophy. The doctors still don’t know why he was in a coma, and frankly, I’m a little confused by it too, but maybe it was explained, and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. The doctors try to keep him in the hospital, but his mamma ain’t having that. She’s taking her boy home, where his room is exactly the way the family left it twelve years ago, which is really, really, sad.

He has a younger brother, who is now an adult and in college. We saw him talking to his younger brother at the top of the episode, saying he’d be right back, which we all know is a jinx, and you should never say that to anyone you love on TV, or in movies. I’m glad they show his brother still loves him, instead of the cliche of showing him to be an epic shit, and being mad at his brother for being in a coma. There are also some touchingly awkward scenes with him talking with his family around the dinner table, and showing how they coped with his absence. Its interesting that his Mom became super-religious, which I kinda liked because that’s the kind of thing a real-life person would do.

None of this is played for angst, and most of the characters react with genuine joy at his reappearance. The show is not especially heavy in the emotion department, which I kind of liked, although Holden rarely changes facial expressions anyway, mostly spending all of the episode looking deeply confused, which is understandable at losing twelve years of your life.

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There are a few moments where we are shown how the world has moved on without him since the nineties, like his confusion about the Apple Store and actual apples, or how his little brother knows how to drive and he doesn’t, but the show doesn’t dwell too much on this type of thing before the government assassins plot kicks in, and there’s all kinds of superpowers, mysterious women who know too much about him, and old friends who aren’t actually friends. The focus of the plot is his developing superpowers, the mystery of the coma, and  what the government wants with him, as its strongly implied that it was the government’s fault, along with the idea that he might not be human.

There are a lot of tropes and cliches, like the secret government agents stuff, and the token black friend, but its surprisingly not a bad show. Its not breaking any new ground, its not being edgy, or really doing anything that about a hundred other shows have done since the X-Files, but it is a very pretty show. The lead actor needs to have some acting lessons, but that’s true of any show involving very young actors, with people having conversations where they stare intensely into each other’s eyes and talk about the plot.

One detraction from the show is that the music is uniformly awful, which  is saying something coming from me, who likes  damn near any kind of music that has coherent sounds, while still managing to be picky about it. I mean, really, the music just was the worst kind of loud, obnoxious Emo-Rock, and I hope it calms down some for the rest of the series.

This series has an interesting introduction. The entire first season is available on Hulu and I’ll watch all of it at some point, but its also available on the FreeForm website (which used to be called the Family Network), and also showing on regular broadcast TV, one episode at a time. So the idea of releasing a series to multiple platforms is really whats revolutionary about this show, and I hope that technique is successful. If it is, then other shows will do this too, and people can choose the method of watching a show that best suits them, as not everyone can stream stuff, even if they do have the internet, and some people don’t want to have cable.

 

Shadowhunters:

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Yay!!!  I watched my first episode of Shadowhunters. Normally, the episodes would be aired on Hulu the day after, but I missed all of them. They had all expired by the time I remembered this piece of info. ,so I watched John Doe instead.

Since I came in in the middle of this, I’m not entirely sure whats going on. While one  of the Shadowhunters, Jace,  has been kidnapped and tortured by some bad guys, the rest of the cast, who are ostensibly the good guys, despite really bad body tattoos, spend the rest of the episode wondering what happened to him. This includes his friend, brother, cousin, (I’m not sure what,) named Alec, and Alec’s boyfriend, Magnus Bane, who is already a favorite of mine, because he’s played by Harry Shum Jr., and has some bitchin’ facial hair. I don’t think Magnus is a Shadowhunter because the other hunters kinda treat him indifferently, and he always looks like he wants to choke the shit out of one  of them.

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At any rate, I watched the entire episode and didn’t see too many shadows being hunted, but I wasn’t bored, so that’s a plus. I was fascinated by the acting, which isn’t bad, but like most such shows, isn’t Emmy winning. The plot isn’t especially deep either. It seemed more like a soap opera, than a paranormal fantasy series. This is one of those shows where people look wonderful, with luxurious hair, t dress in magnificently rich clothing, and stand around having earnest conversations with each other about their feelings. I didn’t mind that so much because it gave me a chance to get to know the character’s relationships a little better.

 

The series itself is based on some books I’ve never read, by the author Cassandra Clare, who writes Teen Paranormal books. The series of books is called The Mortal Instruments. I’m not a fan of Ms. Clare but the show is okay. Its got some nice representation, and like most of these types of shows its got a faintly sarcastic, cheesy flavor.  I blame Buffy the Vampire Slayer for that. I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to the books either, but since I don’t actually like any of Ms. Clare’s books, the show is probably better. it certainly looks much more interesting than the books.

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I  wanted to watch this show because gifs for this series keep showing up on my Tumblr dash. The guys on here are  really cute, and it stars Harry Shum, and that black guy from those surreal Old Spice ads, Isaiah Mustapha, who plays a hard ass werewolf. You can tell that Magnus Bane, who is a sorcerer, is the edgy semi-villain because he wears lots of eye makeup and leather jackets. But I missed the part where Mustapha’s character, Lucien Grey,  turned into a wolf, because there wasn’t much of him in this episode, so I kinda felt that I wasted some of my time, but not all of it because Harry Shum tears it up as Bane.This show was perfect for evening viewing, as cuteness is about all I can handle in a show, right about now. Yeah, I will probably watch this next week. Its no rival to Westworld, or The Walking Dead, but its kinda fun and mostly inoffensive.

I did watch the new episode of Sherlock and I’ll get to that sometime next week, along with Emerald City, a show I was not intending to watch, but I think Florence Kasumba, (from Captain America: Civil War,) is in it, and I’m curious as to who she is, and what she’s doing.

Best of 2016 

Here’s my second? third? post of 2017. I’ve been away from the blog for a little bit for a few reasons. The holidays kept me pretty busy, along with some medical issues between me and my Mom, most shows are in hiatus, and I did kind get worn out with the Westworld reviews. But I’ve  got my mojo back and I’m ready to get to writin’.

I can’t completely get behind the sentiment of Fuck 2016, because there were so many great pop cultural goodies that appeared this year. There were a lot of movies, books, and TV shows that I particularly enjoyed. So for all of the shitty things that happened this year, from starting off the new year minus my appendix, to ending the year minus any political hope, Fuck You 2016. But for all the great things that happened this year, from Luke Cage, to Yuri on Ice, Thank You 2016!
Top Books I enjoyed this year:

The Suicide Motor Club by Chris Buehlman – This is the best vampire book I read this year. I didn’t read many novels this year, and the ones I finished were good, but didn’t WOW me. This book did.

The League of Dragons  by Naomi Novik – So ends an era. I read the first Temeraire book over a decade ago, and I really, really, really, loved this series. Not only did I buy all the books, I bought all the audiobooks too, because the voice actor was absolutely perfect. League of Dragons is the last Temeraire book and I’m glad he got a happy ending.

Nevermore by Rob Thurman- This appears to be the last Cal Leandros book. This is a sad!

The Re-arrival of Bloom County – I loved this series back in the 80s, and I’m very glad to see it make a comeback.

Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher – Its  gotten to the point where I will read anything by this writer. I really enjoyed this book, which is a perfect cross between Horror and Fantasy, involving a secret society of monster hunters who drive trucks, urban legends, cops, and demons. There’s some great female representation in Belcher’s books, along with plenty of action.

Tor. com short stories like: Dead Djinn in Cairo, The Ballad of Black Tom, and the Story of Kao Yu – Short stories from Tor are about all I get time to read. These are some top notch Fantasy stories, by some of my favorite writers.

Borderline by Mishell Baker – This is the best Urban Fantasy novel written this year, and should be on everybody’s list. It has everything: a female protagonist with disabilities, prominent PoC (some who are actually unlikable), elves, and witches, all set in LA. This book manages to avoid all of the tropes of writing characters with disabilities, the characters have different kinds of disabilites, and it manages to avoid inspiration porn by making them people with personalities you  might actually dislike, all while still  being inspiring.

I’ve started reading comics and graphic novels again, for which I have to thank the existence of Comixology. Unlike a lot of book snobs, I don’t disdain digital books, and I’m damned glad I never have to step foot in  another dusty comic book shop again. As a Black woman, I don’t have fond memories of browsing comic book shops for hours at a time, or talking shop with the proprietors. Also, I m not hung up on physical books. I simply have no more room in my house for them. I have several hundred books stashed in my attic right now. I always collected comic books for the art and the story, not just the book itself, and the same is true for novels. It’s what’s in them that matters to me. Not the dressing.

Graphic Novels I just bought:

Enormous – Giant monsters have taken over the Earth, and one woman runs a rescue service for children who  have been orphaned by the rampaging creatures.

The New Dr. Fate – I’ve been fascinated by this character since I first read about him, in those long ago 80s Justice League books, with Guy Gardner and Captain Atom.

 Planetary : Crossing Worlds – I’m a big Planetary fan because I just like weird superhero books.

Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet – I was attracted to this because I’m a huge fan of the artist, Geof Darrow, who also wrote the graphic novel HardBoiled. Also who can resist the idea of a Shaolin Monk, who fights zombies and demons, in the old West?

Apollo and the Midnighter -I’m glad to see the return of two of my favorite, and badass, superheroes, and I’m glad they’re still a couple!

 
Movies:

Captain America Civil War – This isn’t as good as Winter Soldier, and could’ve used more Steve and Bucky in a movie that’s  best know as Avengers 3, or Iron Man 4. But I loved the unnecessary glimpse we got of the new Spider-Man, and that airport fight scene was just about the funniest shit I’ve seen this year, and wtf! Black Panther feckin’ killed it. So yeah, this is on my Best of list.

Suicide Squad– I’m one of five people that actually seemed to like this movie. I had hella fun watching this at the theater. I think it had a lot to do with Viola Davis, and Will Smith, being in the same movie, tho’. 

Deadpool – This is how you make an Action Comedy. This is a thoroughly ridiculous movie, and I loved it. If you didn’t cosplay as “Negasonic Teenage Warhead”,  this past Halloween, then you are not a Marvel fan. My girl just needs her own damn movie, at this point.

Train to Busan – Along with the movie The Girl with All the Gifts, this is one of the best zombie movies released this year. I’m still crying about this one.

Rogue One – My future ex-husband, Donnie Yen, is in this movie. Also this seemed to be the year for Asians in Space! 

Star Trek Beyond –  We got a Star Wars movie and a new Star Trek movie in one year. We got a canonically gay Sulu, some McCoy/Spock love, and Idris Elba. There was a lot about this movie I didn’t particularly care for, but there was also a lot I absolutely loved, and that’s alright.

TV:

Preacher: This was a great underrated show. Tulip was an Awesome creature of Awesomeness. Ruth Negga really  knocked it out of the park. This year actually had some great WoC representation at the movies. As much as I complain about there not being any, this is a great start. Actually, this year was one of the Black-est years of TV in recent memory.  (Now it’s time for us to get some SpaceLatinas and stuff, too.)

Luke Cage -I’ve said all I’m gonna say about this because I can’t laud it anymore than I have. There was a lot of good TV this year, but this really resonated with a lot of people.

Westworld – Whoo! You see the effect this show had on me, right? And I’m not done. I got more reviewin’ to do. Once again, we got  some great WoC representation.

Yuri on Ice – I haven’t watched this anime, but it’s been all over my Tumblr dash for weeks. I just want to give a shoutout to a show about a couple of ice skating boyfriends, that has actual ice skaters, losing their minds.

Atlanta – I love this show. It’s the weirdest show about Black people on TV. The writers have zero fucks to give about whether white people like this, or understand it. There’s a level of authenticity to it that just resonates on a soul deep level. Any white people watching this how, don’t try to get it, just go with it. It’s pretty much like Black people’s actual lives only fucking weird.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – At some point I expect Samantha to mess up and state some white feminist nonsense, but so far she’s been pretty good at saying shit I want to say to white people, but don’t, because I wanna keep my job. And she’s pretty damn funny, too.

Brooklyn 99 – Next to Black*ish, this is one of the best comedies on TV. And all of its characters are funny too. It has multiple Woc, who talk to, and support, each other, good black men, canon gay characters, father figures, and it’s funny without belittleing any of the characters or assuming the audience was dumb. I want to talk about how the show approaches mental illness, tho.

A new character was introduced, who has PTSD, and he’s become a love interest for one of the female cops on the show. I love how this character is depicted. He’s funny but the humor is never at his expense.  He genuinely wants to be good and kind ,and when his behavior is pointed out as questionable, he’s willing to change. He’s never abusive, or uses his trauma as an excuse for it, and genuinely likes his co-workers. It’s sort of implied that he was a weirdo before he was traumatized, so that his quirky personal decisions aren’t necessarily a result of the trauma. He tries to be supportive of his co-workers, even if that support is expressed in some odd ways. You’re not laughing at his mental illness, you’re laughing at the nonplussed reactions of his co-workers, which is a fine line to walk. The other characters think he’s pretty odd, but never make fun of him, and seem to take all  his trauma in stride, treating him as they would any close friend that you don’t understand, but he’s your friend, so you do.

On every level, Brooklyn 99’s writers work really hard to get this shit right, and they manage to be hella funny, too.

So yeah! The year wasn’t all awful. Just mostly awful.

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