This weekend I took my niece to go see The Little Mermaid. Up to this point, I had avoided seeing any of the live-action versions of the cartoons Disney made in the 90s, and that was fine with me, but I am a doting Auntie who loves her niece (who probably knows kickboxing) and she wanted desperately to go see this movie. I was ambivalent. I am not a fan of Disney’s live-action remakes and this is the only one I’ve ever watched. I have the Disney + app and I still haven’t watched any of them but my attitude towards this one is kind of mixed.
I still do not like any of the live-action versions of Disney’s animated films of the 90s and I wish they would stop doing them, but at the same time, I realize these movies aren’t made with people like me in mind. They’re made for the newest generation of under-ten-year-olds that Disney is hoping to capture well into their adulthood, and I would say they’ve succeeded. The vast majority of people (namely women) aren’t even thinking about the stuff I’m thinking about during this movie. What they care about is that their little girls are mermaid crazy and will raise holy hell if their parents don’t take them to see this movie!
So generally my attitude is: Yay! for the representation of Black girls as princesses, but still Booo! on live-action Disney remakes.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. There are things to like about this movie, namely Hallie Bailey’s performance because she was killing it, but honestly, it doesn’t rival the original experience I had of seeing the animated version in the theater, where I bawled my eyes out like a child. The only Disney movies that still regularly make me cry are the Pixar films. I came close with this one but then my thoughts kept being interrupted by “the first movie did this better” and that quickly put a halt to any incipient waterworks.
I did enjoy Hallie Bailey’s performance which is light-hearted, beautiful, charming, and ethereal. I sang my way through a couple of songs, although I was surprised to find my favorite song in this version was Kiss the Girl, which is not my favorite song from the animated version. My favorite song from the animated version was Poor Unfortunate Souls by Ursula the Sea Witch. The movie was very pretty and colorful, and my favorite scene was the Under the Sea number, where I found myself naming various sea creatures and smiling like an idiot, but that has more to do with me loving ocean documentaries than anything Disney is doing. That scene was a lot of fun and rivals the Be Our Guest scene from the animated Beauty and the Beast, and I’m pretty sure that was on purpose! Ursula the Sea Witch is nasty enough, although I thought McCarthy was overdoing it a bit, and some parts of her very well-known song (at least well-known by me anyway) were excised, and I wished they’d kept those parts because Ursula is not known for her support of other women.
But most importantly it was just lighthearted fun for me and my niece and didn’t provoke a lot of anxiety, which is a problem for me when seeing movies in the theater. I have yet to have an anxiety attack in the theater but there’s always the fear in the back of my head that it will happen, so I actually try to choose movies that aren’t too suspenseful or ones where I already know the outcome. There’s not a lot of suspense in this movie since it’s a remake. There were a couple of new songs added, and some songs were removed, like Le Poisson by Rene Aberjenois, whose voice I really missed. Prince Eric gets a song of his own but it was instantly forgettable. On the other hand, he at least gets a backstory and a personality.
I did enjoy all the beautiful mermaids that were featured and I loved all the diversity in the cast. Eric’s mother is the Queen who adopted him as a child, and she is played by a black actress. its clearly a Caribbean-style island, and there are a lot of black and brown people living there, but this is not this world.
According to the book about the film, this world full of mermaids doesn’t map onto this world’s versions of the oceans, with different land masses and different ocean names. This is an entirely fictional world where humans sort of know about and believe in various ocean gods and goddesses, and Ariel’s sisters reflect different but parallel human cultures. There is a dark-skinned Black mermaid who is especially striking ( and who I immediately named Mami Wata, although I don’t think that mythology exists in this universe), and my other favorite was the Indian mermaid. The two blonde mermaids come from cold ocean waters, so some thought was put into the different looks and cultures of the mermaids themselves. There are some subtle changes to the plot and the ending doesn’t resemble the animated one very much, with a completely different outcome. Ariel’s father, King Triton as played by Javier Bardem and is a lot less mean than the animated version of him though. It’s very weird watching him play a merman.
After seeing this movie, I was on a mermaid roll, so to speak, and watched the Mermaids documentary on Netflix, which was very timely. No, I do not ever want to work as a mermaid. It looks tiring, and to be frank, kinda terrifying! It was fascinating to watch though. Several years ago, I read an article in some culture magazine about a woman who wanted to be a professional mermaid, and I think she’s featured in this series, which interviews and follows different people in their quest to do this as a career, one of whom is a Black man who talks about how his family rejected him for being gay. Apparently, the idea of being a mermaid has totally blown up in the last ten years, and there’s now a lot of competition. contests, an entire community, and even award shows! There is a whole industry (and a specific companies) dedicated to making mermaid tails, which can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars on the cheapest end, to five thousand dollars for the really convincing-looking ones that people can swim in!
After all that, I felt I had to clear my head of all the mermaid stuff so the next day I did a complete 180 and watched John Wick 4, which I’ll discuss later, because damn! That movie was doing a lot with very little!
I have absolutely no plans to go see any more live-action Disney films, but I am greatly looking forward to watching the Barbie movie in July, because I really like Barbie, and I am a huge fan of Margot Robbie. This week, my nephew and I will be heading to the theater to watch the latest Spiderman films and I’m a lot more enthusiastic about that than I was The Little Mermaid.
Once again we have a bit of a mixed bag although there were really no “bad” episodes this season. Some of the episodes were, for lack of a better term, uninteresting as far as story, but at least had interesting characters or interesting animation styles.
This season has gone global and I think this makes it better than last season. The styles of story and animation are very different from the first season, and many of them are reflections of the cultures of their creators. The episodes are large;y aimed at children since children are either the focal points of the stories and many of the animation styles are sort of aimed at kids with either soft colors and/or rounded non-threatening forms. There were similar themes throughout with hopeful (or cynical) adults inspiring children to be their best, or having to let them grow away from them, or children finding the strength to save themselves or their loved ones. The Sith and Jedi don’t feature in all of them, which is sort of what I was expecting, although most of the episodes take place during the Imperial era. Not all of the episodes are Force related as Westerners understand the use of The Force.
My all-around favorite episode was the first one called Sith (1) by a Spanish animation studio, and while the story was kind of lackluster, just a tidbit of a story that echoes other episodes, the animation style was spectacular and reminded me heavily of the Spiderverse film. My second favorite was Screecher’s Reach (2) because it had a bit more story attached to it, and is by the same Studio that did WoldTalkers and Secret of the Kells. My third favorite was the very culturally specific The Bandits of Golak ( 7) which has a distinctive Indian flavor. Plus, there was a lightsaber-wielding grandmother that I absolutely adored. She’s one of the characters I’d love to see more of in the Star Wars universe because I sensed a helluva backstory there.
These were my top three favorites but as I said none of them are truly bad, only less interesting than the others. I mostly checked out of the Korean-inspired, Journey to the Dark Head (5), although it asked some interesting questions and compared the Jedi’s use of The Force with the basic tenets of Buddhism. The story was mildly intriguing but the animation style was mediocre, and then there was the infinitesimal storyline of the 9th episode called Aau’s Song, which I really wanted to like because the characters looked like animated Teddy Bears, but it simply didn’t capture me the way the earlier episodes did, or maybe I was just tired.
Children will probably love the other 3d animated episode called In the Stars (3), or the 2D Spydancer (5) episode, both of which I thought had some lovely animation, but the story in Spydancer was a little too much like the Sith episode. While I found the idea of nightclubs for Stormtroopers kind of ridiculous, I understood the parallel the writers were trying to make between pre-WW2 Germany and the New Republic. In the Stars came very close to being a top favorite but just missed it, coming in as a fourth-place favorite because it had some good action scenes and a rah-rah moment towards the end.
One of the middle episodes titled I Am Your Mother (a play on Darth Vader’s statement to Luke Skywalker) was drolly funny but involved drag racing scenes and my brain automatically checks out when it comes to that subject. I wanted to like it, since it was created by Aardman Studios, the makers of Wallace and Gromit but it just didn’t capture me. My least favorite was titled The Pit. I’m just not ever in the mood to watch slavery-adjacent stories.
I do have to admit that watching this season was a little more frustrating than the first because all these episodes serve to do is show these tiny snippets of what Star Wars could be, the kinds of characters we could be having, and I’m sure there are some really interesting backstories for some of these characters like the woman from Sith, who has left both the Sith and Jedi Orders to become a painter on some backwater world. I liked her, and speaking as a former painter the animation style was inspired.
It would have been hard for any other episode to top that one for me but Screecher’s Reach came the closest, not because of the animation style but because of the story, which is about a little girl discovering her Force abilities by going toe to toe with an old Sith villain in a cave. I do wish some of the episodes hadn’t focused so much on fight scenes but the ones that didn’t do that didn’t offer much else to fully grab the attention though.
Overall, I liked this season marginally better than the first one. There’s still just a bit too much sameness between the stories and I’d like the stories to branch out a bit more and not be so much about fighting but it was a satisfying watch.
Okay, I admit it. I was the one who actually wanted these trailers and I can’t truthfully speak for the rest of America. At the top are a listing of the television shows and a couple of movies I’ll be filling my head with this Summer and Fall, and below that are the movies I definitely have no plans to watch. By “have no plans” to watch I mean I have no intention of spending money to see them. If one of my family members would like to treat me to a movie, I’ll watch just about anything that’s free. I know that sounds like I’m being sarcastic but no, I have no pressing need to see them.
Must Watch TV
American Born Chinese
Well, I see we’re getting the old band back together again. (Speaking of getting the band back together I think it’s time for my annual re-watch of The Blues Brothers!) Coming to Disney this Summer is this series, which I thought seemed rather hastily put together, although maybe it isn’t, starring most of the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Michele Yeoh plays the Goddess Guanyin, and one of my favorite Asian actors Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands is starring as Sun Wukong (The Monkey King). I’m always up for watching Monkey King movies, so why not a TV series? Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan also star, and I’m here for it. This looks like a lot of fun, the fight scenes look dope, and just I like a good Chinese Action series. I watch Chinese Action films at night for the same reason that most people watch reality TV. I don’t have to think too deeply about the plots and there’s always lots of movement and color, which is about all my brain can handle by 8pm on a work night. Sometimes I do some light reading or some knitting while something like this plays in the background.
I’m also gratified to see that Hollywood has stopped the bizarre hatred of Asian actors it was engaging in for several decades, (along with its bizarre erasure of Black women characters) because I absolutely hated that whole Hollywood trend of hiring famous Asian actors like Jet Li and Jackie Chan to star in vehicles with unknown white teenage boys as the stars, because reasons…and this series kinda feels like what Netflix’s Iron Fist should have been.
I’ve been rather enjoying Arnold’s career as a Senior actor. He’s a lot funnier than he was when he was younger and seems a lot more willing to laugh at himself and the ridiculousness of his career. Does anyone else think it’s weird that he was once Governor of California and is now acting in these odd little Action comedies again? I’ did watch the last couple of Movies he’s done like Terminator Dark Fate (where I thought he was hilarious), and Killing Gunther. Anyway, this is only about two hours of my time, so this is going on the list of movies I say I’m going to watch, and then I don’t watch them because I’m asleep!
I am happy and surprised to see how well Arnold does in dramatic roles, as I was one of ten people that seemed to like him in the zombie flick, Maggie. What is it about aging male actors that they all decide to become Action stars in their later years, and seem to be more or less succeeding at it? The man is in his 70s! I’ve never been attracted to Arnold, to be honest, although I think I’ve seen ALL of his movies, but now that he’s gotten older, I find myself drawn to his films for a different reason, and now I think he’s actually handsome/sexy. Maybe it’s the beard! Anyway, he seems to be aging gracefully with a minimum of horrible scandals (compared to some others for example). I can only hope he doesn’t turn into a loudmouth troll like Charlton Heston.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds
It’s almost time for me to sit my butt down in a seat and watch my future ex-husband, Anson Mount smirk and agonize his way through another season of Strange New Worlds. The first season was rather hit or miss for me. The real attraction for me was Mount and a couple of the cast regulars, not the plots, which I found somewhat mediocre. The episodes weren’t bad, but I can think of ways they could have been better, and a couple of them were actually stinkers that I didn’t finish, and I hope the writers have improved on the mistakes of that first season. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this new season! I mean…look at him! The man is gorgeous! I also want to see the new guy they’ve got to play Captain Kirk and check out his interactions, if any, with Spock and Una.
The Muppets Mayhem
I’ve been a long-time Muppets fan since I was a little kid watching the TV series which used to come on in the evenings in the 70s, and I’ve been here for every iteration of The Muppets this franchise has been through. I like that we’re finally getting an Animal-centric show because he’s one of my favorite characters. I’m a little less interested in the band led by the guy I call Dr. Teeth although I don’t know if that is actually his name. I laughed quite a few times during this trailer so I feel confident that this TV series will be fun and funny. I guess this is going to be one of those Disney-centric summers for me. I’m probably going to have to break up all this sweetness with some grit at some point.
Star Wars Visions 2
Here we have yet another Disney series I’m going to be checking out. I talked about this one in one of my previous posts but I didn’t have a full trailer. I think the animation looks awesome.
The Equalizer 3
Okay, here’s that grit I was talking about, but it isn’t released until Fall, and I’m going to need it after all the sweetness and light I consumed all Summer. I watched the previous Equalizer films and more or less enjoyed them, although I think the first one was better because of the novelty. Here we have yet another over-65-year-old man who has decided to become an Action hero, although I think Denzel is still doing dramatic roles from time to time. These Action roles are probably what pays for that other kind.
For some reason, I had the impression I was one of the few people who remember the original television series on which this movie is based. There is also a remake TV series starring, of all people, Queen Latifah! which I still have not watched, but I’ve been told I should check out because it’s really good and I’m a Latifah fan.
I think what we need to do is get all these geriatric men together and make a movie of them blowing up stuff, but maybe we already got that with that Stallone vehicle called The Expendables? I don’t know. I think if we added a few more women like Halle Berry and Helen Mirren, along with Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman, it would make a hilarious little franchise, and they could all crack jokes about being “too old for this shit!” while wielding mobility scooters as weapons.
Young Ip Man
I just finished watching the Donnie Yen franchise of Ip Man, so watching more Ip Man is not out of my wheelhouse. I already watched one version of a young Ip Man earlier this year.
I don’t know about y’all but I’m not getting tired of these Ip Man movies of which there appear to be about fifty a year. I don’t know how many movies they can make about one man’s life. I think at this point Chinese directors are just making up fantastical stories about enemies he defeated at this point, like the Wong Fei Hung movies. If anyone ever decides to get all of these different real-life characters together in one movie (Wong Fei Hung, Wong Kei Ying, Yip Man, Bruce Lee, Huo Yuanjia along with the fictional Chen Zen) we’d have a great movie if it was choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping.
Things I Ain’t Looking At
Not that this isn’t interesting, but I feel no urge to watch this.
White Men Can’t Jump
And its the big Nope-a-dope for me on this one. Quite frankly, I wasn’t all that hot about the original movie, which starred Wesley Snipes, and my brain keeps comparing this movie to that one, and coming up short.
And by America I pretty much just mean me! I want to watch these movies and shows because they look pretty interesting and/or fun. I’m all about sweetness, bright colors, and light, this Summer.
I’m looking for wholesome. I’m looking for people of color to do interesting things. I’m looking for some amount of novelty (but not too much). I’m looking for lovely and loving messages. Some of the darker stuff on this list isn’t released until August, which is when I start looking towards a more solemn Fall viewing list, in preparation for Halloween Month, of course.
But from May until then, “Don’t nobody bring me no bad news!” because Hot Girl Summer is out. Hot Movie Summer (all thirty minutes of it in the Midwest) is in!
Okay, this looks novel and deeply funny. I’ve never watched a Bollywood, martial arts movie, so I’m up for watching this. I will not be seeing this in any theaters though. This one is just for at-home viewing only. I’m here for Hindi Action Girls even though I have issues with watching dance routines breaking out in the middle of Action movies. This seems like the kind of movie where breaking into a dance simply makes sense though.
This actually turns out to be a kind of live-action documentary. It’s funny that this trailer showed up right after I read a mystery book that prominently featured the character, so I was somewhat informed about Cleopatra’s background before watching it. This is not a person that I’ve ever paid a whole lot of attention to really, so I don’t know much about her backstory, but this looks gorgeous, and hopefully, it will be informative and worth the watch.
I like that they cast a Black woman in this role although I kept hearing from historians that she was Greek and Iranian. I mean, that doesn’t rule out her being at least part Black nd here she looks like a woman of mixed ethnicity, but you know it’s just gonna bring out the racists and bigots who are sure to be mad about it, and while I do my best to ignore them (since their rantings have affected nothing in Popular entertainment), I’m still very tired of them.
Star Wars Visions Season 2
I have mixed feelings about the first season of this series. I liked maybe half of the animation in the first one. I hope that the ratio of good to bad cartoons is better this season, although the novelty has worn off. I hope it’s not all one style of animation. I like to see different types. I’m also hoping to see a lot more Old Republic-type stories, too. We got a little bit of that in the first season, but I hope to see more.
I love to see Latinas in Sci-Fi and love seeing them get the full hero treatment. I’ve been a huge fan of Rosario Dawson since she starred in Men in Black twenty years ago. Ahsoka has been a favorite character of mine for a while and I’m always happy to see her whenever she makes a cameo (The Mandolorian) but here she’s got an entire series that’s all about her and I’m here for it. What kind of adventures is she having? Where has she been? I’m looking forward to finding out.
This looks really colorful and fun, and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in the theater with this movie, some popcorn, and an Icee! It definitely looks more appealing than the first movie, which I thought was okay, but not great. The addition of Kamala Khan is going to be great for the movie since I enjoyed the sensibilities of the series. I just liked how bubbly she was and the series felt happy in general.
I liked Kamala’s family a lot. I liked that they are from the Islamic faith and that they’re mostly onboard about Kamala’s superpowers. The Peter Parker days of keeping it all a secret mostly appear to be over. Nowadays the hero’s parents and friends all seem to know about their status as heroes, and that’s kind of refreshing since I was never into the idea of superheroes leading these kinds of double lives. Daredevil I can understand but a lot of others just seemed to be pointlessly having a secret. Also, I haven’t seen Monica since Wandavision and I really like her. I’m glad to see Photon, the original Captain Marvel, is making a comeback, and wonder what she’s been up to. I also like Brie Larson’s cocky little Carol Danvers who is so much like that in the comics. This is a character who has POWER, knows it, and carries herself like it, and I’m good with that.
Also, I love it when my favorite characters team up.
I have mixed feelings about this series. I was never a fan of the Secret Wars and Invasions series in the comic books so I have no particular urge to run to my TV to watch this. But it is novel in that it’s the first time I will get to watch Samuel L Jackson star in his own TV series. The action scenes look really cool and it’s got a lot of cameos, so that looks like fun. It does look like it might be confusing though and my fried-up brain doesn’t want to go near that. I don’t hate it but I’m not loving it either. We’ll see how I feel when we get close to the release date. I mean some shows seem okay but you just don’t know if you want to make that kind of long-term commitment. A two or even three-hour movie is a fling, but a six or eight-hour TV series is a love affair!
I’m really looking forward to at least a couple of these this August and September.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
I was feeling mixed about this when I first heard about it. I was wondering why it was being made, but I like this trailer, hope the movie lives up to it, and by August I’m probably going to be looking forward to some grim and dark movies for Fall anyway. The title sounds appropriately dreadful and it’s been a minute since I’ve watched some good Horror/History.
I will not be taking my niece and nephew to see this unless they specifically ask, because I think it looks too scary for them. On the other hand, my nephew did watch all of the Halloween movies, so we’ll see if I will be watching this in the theater alone.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
This looks like an interesting take on the Frankenstein’s Monster movies of my youth. It’s not every day we get to see Black girl mad scientists. I don’t know that I’m enthusiastic to watch this, but I’m putting it here because it’s just different enough from the other Horror movies that it bears mentioning. You can see that the lead character is reading a copy of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. I read that book when I was somewhere near that character’s age and I was unimpressed, although I did like the Kenneth Branagh version from the 90s.
True Detective Night Country
I’ve been a True Detective fan since the first season, (with season 2 being the weakest of the three) even though I don’t normally make Detective series a regular part of my viewing habits. Most of the time it’s because I don’t care for the sometimes obnoxious personalities involved, although the series Psych is an exception to that. I don’t think you can get any more opposite of the Psych style of TV series than True Detective though. It looks very dark (literally in this case) and gritty, and about as close to Horror as a show can get without actually being classified as Horror. I’m also partial to shows and series set in snowy environments (I blame the excellence of 1982s The Thing remake for my rather odd taste.)
The novelty is this will be my first time watching Jodie Foster star in her own series. The last time she was in a TV series was when she was a child in the 70s. I’ve been a big fan of hers since we were both kids and I wasn’t supposed to be up late watching her movies. I’m not “jazzed” about it, mostly because this doesn’t seem like the type of show one gets jazzed about, but I am looking forward to it. I don’t know who her co-tar is so I had to look her up. She is a boxer who is an Indigenous Rights activist and has won some award nominations for her acting debut in Catch the Fair One, which I have not seen (and not likely to see since I am not in the headspace to watch it right now. But it looks great and yall should check it out). I kinda like her already because of her “fuck around and find out” facial expression.
So far, there’s no release date for this, but I’m expecting it to show up in the middle of high Summer.
This series is not set to be released this year but I’m looking forward to it anyway. Apparently, that is indeed Colin Farrell, who I just don’t see in this character, no matter how many times I’m told that’s him. He is completely unrecognizable! (Although I think they’re doing the most on his makeup.) I did like the last Batman movie but I had a couple of misgivings about the villain. I liked the aesthetics and some of the messaging. I also liked the hyperrealistic gritty Gotham that was presented in the movie. This trailer sort of reminds me of a classic mob movie like The Godfather or The Untouchables, something that should be starring Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci.
This is a series a lot of people are eagerly anticipating. The world of John Wick is just a very intriguing sort of place and I’m interested to find out how it works, how it got that way, and how deep all of this goes. One of my friends pointed out to me that she couldn’t get into it because there is no law enforcement in this world, even though it looks very much like ours. I think I pointed out to her that there are quite a number of things that are NOT in the Wick-verse, (like McDonald’s and Soda) and that I liked it because it had some unique worldbuilding, which, in the best instances, is like getting a glimpse into an alternate universe where the police simply never evolved. These other organizations (the Assassins Guilds and the High Table) are the ones that keep order apparently.
Unfortunately, the addition of the racist and anti-Semitic Mel Gibson greatly reduces my enthusiasm for this series. I’m not boycotting the series or anything. I’m just saying that my enjoyment of it will be severely impacted by his presence, which I find deeply distasteful, and I really wish the creators had chosen another actor. I realize he’s got to work somewhere. I just wish he was starring in something I didn’t particularly care about, so I’m going to wait to see how much of him is in it before I commit to watching it.
Next up: Movies (and TV) I had no intention of watching but will probably end up looking at on some idle Saturday afternoon.
Here is my watchlist for the Summer, yall! Every year, I plan my movie-watching well in advance. Unlike some people, I don’t just pay money to see everything that gets released. I don’t have that kind of throw-away money. I carefully pick and choose the movies I’m going to see and especially the ones my nieces and nephew like. I think this discernment accounts for my complete lack of burnout when it comes to watching Action movies. I make sure to choose the ones which are going to maximize my fun.
At home, I prefer to experiment more. I’ll try thoughtful, slow, and considerate movies like Women Talking or the new sound movie Last and First Men, martial arts movies, documentaries, and Horror and Classic films. In other words, I like some variety and I do discriminate. But when I go to the theater I go for fun, thrills, laughter, and adventure. I’m not spending money to cry and be upset because I can do that at home for free (and I no longer subject myself to Black trauma films).
So here is my Summer Blockbuster movie list. These are movies I’m sure I’ll be watching this Summer and feel very enthusiastic about seeing (more or less).
In The Theater
The Little Mermaid
I’m not especially enthusiastic about seeing this movie, but my niece wants to go see this and I don’t deny her stuff because I think she knows martial arts (I’m not sure about that last part but I don’t want to test it.) This looks like a pretty faithful adaptation of the original cartoon. It’s a beautiful colorful movie, especially the underwater scenes, though I am not a fan of Disney’s live-action remixes. But like I said, I guess I’ll be going to see this one.
After seeing the latest trailer, I’m actually excited to see this. I grew up with all the Barbie dolls, and her accessories, like the apartments, vehicles, and pets, so I love her. I even have a few of the Christmas, Designer, and Specialty Barbies, along with several Black ones, and that one Latina Barbie. My niece has expressed a great interest in seeing this, although my nephew has nixed the idea of going himself. This trailer is absolutely hilarious. I already love Simu Liu’s Ken, and Ryan Gosling is absolutely perfect!
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
This is one my nephew and I will be very excited to see. I remember the Beast Wars from books but I don’t remember watching the anime. I while I like the Transformers, I haven’t always liked the movies. This looks like a lot of fun. I’m noticing a trend here this Summer: Lots of Latino and Hispanic actors and lots of Black men and women are joining the Summer Blockbuster schedule. Well, I’m here for it. It’s very refreshing.
I did read the Blue Beetle comic books when I was a teen. These were the Ted Kord books when he was in the Justice Society and hanging out with Booster Gold. When the character was rebooted with this new kid I read a couple of those books too, so I’m more or less familiar with Jaime’s origin story. This movie looks cool as f***, and I also like the idea that his family already knows he’s a superhero and they encourage it.
Across the Spiderverse
I’m really excited about this, and so are a lot of other people it seems. I enjoyed the first movie immensely. My nephew and I are the biggest Spiderman fans ever. We are gonna have a ball, eat popcorn until we get sick, and then talk about this all the way home!
Guardians of the Galaxy
I’m a huge fan of the movies. I have never read a single comic about these characters. I’m not entirely sure that I wanna go see this because I know it’s gonna make me cry just like the last two. Apparently, this is a Rocket-centric story, as well.
I’m not sure I’m going to see this but I am excited about it. I put it on my schedule.
At Home Movies
This looks hilarious and hilariously accurate! OMG! The tagline! They can’t all die first! This movie is already hitting me in the feels. This is based on a short movie I remember watching on Youtube.
In the Fall I want to talk about the amount of diversity I watched in the movie selections this Summer.
They Cloned Tyrone
This is airing on Netflix. It looks like fun and stars John Boyega and another all-Black cast.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I’m not a huge TMNT fan but I’m familiar enough with the movies, books, and TV shows to find my way around a movie. This looks like fun and I’m told the turtles are being voiced by actual teenagers this time.
Fist of the Condor/Sakra/Once Upon Time in Ukraine
Here’s a trio of martial Arts movies I plan to watch this Spring and Summer. They all look novel and/or fun.
I’m gonna be honest, while I’m “mildly” excited to watch this, I don’t know that I’d shell out the money to go see this movie in a theater. Due to family issues beyond my control, I would have to watch this alone. Some movies are good for watching alone, but this one isn’t. It looks like a lot of weird fun that you share with your buddies.
I’m mostly interested in seeing Jonathan Majors’ giant screen breakthrough because I really really like him, I’ve heard that the character he’s portraying, Kang the Conqueror, is a huge Billy Bad Ass in the Marvel Universe, and because this movie kicks off one of the multiple plot threads of this new phase of the MCU, The MultiversalWar. Each movie after this one will be a piece of that story introducing us to alternate universes and other realms of consciousness and existence, like the Quantum universe in this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5: Christmas Special
This movie looks like so much fun. Unlike the many fanboys who insist on complaining about the direction of the MCU, it seems that I actually do have a sense of humor. I love the MCU comedies, and I do not understand why all the MCU movies must be dark and deadly serious all the time in order to be taken seriously. I love the direction in which Thor was taken. I thought it was great fun and definitely better than the emotional slog that was Thor 2. Sometimes you don’t need or want great cinema, you just want the creators to lean into the craziness of whatever you’re watching.
Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a comedy from the beginning, mostly because of the nature of the characters, and that last movie and this new one just sort of lean into it a little bit more. I’m looking forward to this one more than the Antman sequel because I really like spending time with all these deeply funny goofy people, and I’m glad that the creators and writers are just fearlessly leaning into the sheer batshittery of this part of the universe, because C’mon! Really!
I’m just coming off the finale of the Interview With the Vampire series which I’m going to have to talk about at some point because Wow! so, I’m really in a good place mentally to feel excited about seeing more Black men in wigs and stockings! It’s one thing to see Black and Indian women doing the whole ballgown movie thing, but we don’t often get to see Black men in these roles unless it involves Shakespeare or playing a servant.
I love the look of this film, and there’s the added attraction of it being based on a true story, that of a French Caribbean composer named Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Joseph Bologne. I’m a sucker for beautiful costumes, beautiful music, and sword fighting, and you throw in some Black people and I’m in, I guess!
John Wick 4
I just had the most interesting discussion about this movie with my co-worker, who said she had a real problem suspending her disbelief while watching these movies and kept getting pulled out of the film. I told her I didn’t have that problem because it never even occurred to me what I saw as taking place in a world like this one with the same political and systemic setup. I had always viewed this franchise as taking place in some kind of fantasy alternate universe, where you can just be riding through the streets of downtown New York with swords and guns and not one person would blink an eye at it.
This is what I mean when I say that whatever your mindset is when you start to watch a movie will probably determine how you’ll feel after having seen it. Anyway, this looks great and I’m eager to sit down in a theater with some popcorn and enjoy two hours of sheer Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada mayhem!
This looks like such wild and crazy fun that I just have to see this. This is definitely one of those movies that you can go see by yourself at the theater. I don’t know that I’ll do that but it’s an option. It looks like a Christmas version of a John Wick movie except it’s Santa Claus using magic and probably some guns which I know all of you must be excited about as well.
Still don’t know what to make of this but I will not have to go to the movie theater to see it. I can just watch this, whatever this is, at home on Netflix. I like most of the actors here and quite frankly I was going to watch any movie that starred Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig because these are not actors’ names that one tends to think of as being together. This also looks to be more comedic than the first film, which I didn’t think was especially funny, but apparently, that’s just a me thing.
For some reason, I’ve been watching a lot of comedy mysteries this year. I just came off the Hercule Poirot movies, The Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, and I will probably be watching See How They Run this weekend. I don’t normally gravitate to period mysteries. I’m not opposed to them or dislike them or anything. They’re just not the sort of movies I tend to gravitate to, so when I get the urge to do so, I flow with it.
Maybe I’ll Watch These
Bones and All
I’m not sure I’m in the mood to watch anything dealing with cannibals but I’m willing to watch this if it’s streaming. If it’s in the theater then it’s out of luck. I’m not spending a bunch of money to see this, although it seems intriguing.
Yeah, this is a movie that’s just going to be watched via streaming only. This is not the kind of movie I would ever watch in a theater. I mean, Kung Fu movies are meant to be watched in the house, with popcorn and a remote.
Warriors of the Future
Fortunately, this is a Netflix jam so I don’t have to spend money on my curiosity about it. Okay, it really doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun, in the sense that it’s intentionally funny, but it does look thrilling and action-packed, so I guess that’s a kind of fun.
And Movies I’m Not Watching
I didn’t care too much for the White Saviorism of the first movie. In fact, I found that movie infuriating in a way that I didn’t for movies like The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves. I’m not arguing about how beautiful it is but I think I’m gonna wait to watch this next year on some streaming service. Since my niece and nephew aren’t going to be with me, and this is really the kind of movie one watches with a group of people, I’m unlikely to see it in a theater anyway.
I do not have any particular need or desire to spend money to see this. Plus this looks like one of those movies where there’s going to be a lot of crying. I’m really glad Brendan Frasier has made this return to making movies. I missed him, and this actually looks alright, but I’ll catch this on streaming.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
I’m not going to sully my memories of Whitney Houston with a biopic. I just can’t do it.
This movie is probably going to blow up once it comes out becomes it looks unintentionally hilarious and there are already a bunch of memes about it! I’m not paying money to watch what is essentially a killer-doll movie, but I’ll go see it my sister pays for my ticket because this seems like the kind of thing she’d attach herself to.
I still do not understand after all these killer doll movies why anyone would ever build life-size killer robots that look virtually indistinguishable from an actual person. I don’t understand the plots of movies like Bladerunner and stuff where that kind of thing happens. Why would human beings still be doing that? Have we learned nothing?!!! On the other hand, this could just be an American thing because the Japanese build life-size robots all the time and they don’t ever seem to have this problem with the robots trying to merc people.
In 1998, Samuel R. Delaney, acclaimed Black Science Fiction writer, was asked at an awards convention about racism within the genre. Here he is referring to the writing community but I’ve observed that this can be equally applied to every industry, including movies and television:
As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.
We are still a long way away from such statistics.
But we are certainly moving closer.
We need to be clear that what we’ve been experiencing very strongly for the last six or seven years is a white social media backlash against women and PoC representation in popular media. As marginalized people are seen more often in media projects what we’ve also been seeing is a white, straight, backlash against their slightly more positive/nuanced depictions.
What Delaney means is that more racism will be expressed by those white people who feel most threatened by Black progress in that industry, and I can say this because this has been noted in every industry in which it has occurred.
This is not new! It hasn’t been new in over a hundred years.
What we’re seeing today in the pushback against Black actors in visual media has happened multiple times and in every industry, from music, to literature, to politics, to movies, and television. Every time PoC have made inroads into any field of endeavor there has been a white backlash against it. The only thing that changes are the industries in question, and their arguments against that progress. Now we see it happening in visual entertainment.
In the 1920s, Jazz was seen as barbaric and immoral. It was considered the kind of music that lead white women astray and put them in environments where Black musicians had access to them. All manner of immorality was attributed to Jazz including drug use, violence, and hypersexuality. The exact same criticisms were made against Rock in the 50s, Disco in the 70s, and Rap music in the 90s, when those gained ascendances in popular culture. Rock music was a genre that championed drugs and sex, Disco encouraged homosexuality, and Rap music was considered too violent for white sensibilities.
The same backlash that we’ve been seeing for the last six or seven years against Black actors in the Fantasy genre is the same backlash we experienced when N. K. Jemison won back-to-back Hugo awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018 for her Fantasy trilogy The Obsidian Gate. As Delaney predicted, a select group of white male critics complained that women and PoC were getting too many awards, and so formed a contingent of fans and authors called “The Rabid Puppies” in an attempt to game the Hugo awards rules to win awards for themselves. In other words, they preferred to cheat, rather than accept that Science Fiction fans were a diverse group of men and women who had moved on from the type of Science Fiction they wrote, which centered on white European men as the heroes. Much of the hoopla in the industry has since calmed down, but that does not mean that parity has been reached for authors of color, and we have seen the exact same dynamic play out in other arenas where women and PoC have made any kind of inroads, including politics, where white men have decided that rather than share political power, they would prefer to game the system to keep it all of it for themselves.
In 2014, Candace Patton was cast as the Black love interest of Barry Allen in The Flash television series on the CW network. That same year, Disney released The Force Awakens, the first film in its latest Star Wars trilogy, and the lead character was a Black actor named John Boyega. They both experienced immediate backlash for daring to perform the fictional roles that they had been hired for. Candace Patton has received unending racist vitriol on social media for the last 10 years for playing the Black love interest of the lead white character solely because her character was a white woman in the comic books. And don’t make the mistake of thinking the only toxic fans are white men. White women established themselves firmly in the contingent for bigotry by weaponizing fandom against Candace and harassing and bullying John Boyega on social media.
In 2016, a new version of The Ghostbusters was released with an all-female cast and received immediate pushback from gatekeeping white male fans who believed they owned that franchise and argued that women couldn’t be fictional Ghostbusters. The movie starred three white actresses, but it is very telling that the onus of their hatred landed squarely on the only Black cast member in the group, Leslie Jones, who was driven from social media by the racist backlash against her original characters’ very existence. So we can see that even arguments that PoC and women make their own original characters rather than supplant characters who used to be white are simply a smokescreen for racist abuse. Original characters do exist and receive the same level of acting out and foolery that race and gender-swapped characters do, as we saw with the release of Black Panther.
In 2018, there was a massive backlash against the release of Disney’s tentpole superhero movie, The Black Panther, in which the same gatekeeping white male fans attempted to downvote the movie’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, causing Disney and RT to temporarily shut down the audience portion of the site to prevent the abuse. Thinkpieces were written denigrating the making of the film, and some fans engaged in violence callouts, falsely reporting that they had been harassed and/or beaten by racist Black Panther fans in order to sully the reputation of the film. Black fans had to be vigilant in protecting the actors from harassment on social media and debunking the claims of violence.
Every time Disney releases a film that isn’t centered on the heroic activities of straight white men there is a backlash from white men against those films, against the actors, and even against the fans who talk about them. Women and fans of color aren’t even safe in their own fan spaces as those will, at some point, be invaded by trolls and bigots spewing racist vitriol at them for daring to like a movie they were the audience for. We saw this with Captain Marvel in 2019, and Shang Chi and The Eternals in 2021, with each successive film being criticized as the worst film ever made in a franchise, how the MCU is failing, and the blogs, videos, and websites of fans of color being reported as abuse, and blocked on TikTok and Youtube for daring to discuss entertainment that is aimed at them as the audience.
This also happens with television shows. Since it is Disney that is leading the charge of diversity and inclusion in its many franchises, it is Disney’s fans and employees (the actors) who have borne the brunt of the backlash, during and after series like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ms. Marvel, and the newest series, She-Hulk. Why? Because the stars of these series are women and PoC. It is notable that there was no backlash against series with white male leads like Loki, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight which were also released in the last year.
These shows are not alone in having a racist fan problem. Since John Boyega’s debut as one of the first Black Stormtroopers in Star Wars, there has been a racist and misogynist backlash against every single advance of a PoC, or woman, in that franchise, especially in any film in which a white male wasn’t the star, but even a few that were, as with the last TV release, Obi Wan Kenobi, which prominently starred a woman of color. The lead villain of the series, Reva Sevander, is played by Yale graduate Moses Ingram. She had to endure toxic fans who called her everything but a child of god, questioned her undeniable qualifications for playing her role, and was flatly told by some of them that she could not be a part of Star Wars.
In the past year, we have seen a racist backlash against casting PoC in any SciFi and Fantasy film or television series. The casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV series, the casting of Black Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves in Amazon’s Rings of Power series, the casting of Halle Bailey in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid, and the casting of Black legacy characters in the Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon, has racist/toxic fans pulling out all the stops to troll, harass, and make sure that Black fans, actors, and creators are aware that they don’t belong in genre films and series.
You also have those bad faith actors who try to hide their bigotries behind legitimate concerns, like questioning the credentials of the actors who were chosen, not understanding that when the only time you care about whether or not a character is qualified to perform the role they’ve been hired for is when they are a woman, or gay, or a person of color, that that too is performing a racism.
The Whiteness ofthe Past, the Present, and the Future
White people for the last hundred years of film and TV have crafted entire fictional universes with pasts, presents, and futures that were entirely centered around themselves, with not a single face of color to be seen. When I was a little girl, I was sitting in our kitchen watching some futuristic movie and turned to ask my mother why there were no Black people in the future. Really quick she said, “Maybe we left.” She’d noticed it too and seemed to have that answer ready for me, just in case.
White people who are making the arguments that we don’t belong are speaking from a long history of whitewashing, of never having seen Black and Brown faces in historical epics, present-day dramas, or futuristic landscapes unless we were playing happy slaves, silent victims, or menacing drug dealers. The industry was so whitewashed that when it eventually developed the use of color, Black and Brown people weren’t even a consideration, and color was only attuned to white skin tones. Movies and TV were so white that Black women didn’t have hair and makeup people of their own until a scant few years ago.
According to white people making the loudest noise, we don’t belong anywhere in their all-white fantasylands of the past or the future. Their entire understanding of historical events comes not from study, or reading, or actual knowledge, but from Hollywood movies in which our presence had been, downplayed, erased, or ignored, even in our own stories. Based on these deeply ignorant people’s understanding of history, the only stories in which Black people should be allowed to appear are the ones based on slavery, as if enslavement was our only contribution to the world. We’re not allowed to appear in movies set in the present unless we’re being killed or killing, and apparently, we don’t exist at all in the future, not just physically, but in any cultural or social contributions we made to the making of this country thast sre simply never referenced.
Candace Patton talked about how she didn’t have anyone to do her hair, and Black actresses called out Hollywood in 2020, for its lack of hairstylers for them. Many of them confessed to having to do their own makeup because white makeup professionals never bothered to learn how to do Black skin or hair. White hairstylists didn’t need to know that to have successful careers! There was such a complete lack of Black female stuntwomen that white stuntwomen wore blackface on the rare occasions that Black actresses needed stuntwork done! This was pretty rare indeed because up until about ten years ago we never got to be in Action movies often enough to need stunt doubles!
All of the white backlash against Black women (in particular) participation in genre media we are seeing today is just one part of the side effects of Hollywood’s insistence that there is only one demographic that needs to be pandered to, (therefore all the other demographics can be ignored), and the idea that movies with diverse and inclusive casts don’t make any money, (which results in the erasure of PoC in order for anything to be greenlit). Many films cannot receive funding to get made without a big enough named actor in the cast. Unfortunately, Hollywood not casting PoC in certain films and for certain roles results in actors of color (in particular Asian American actors) finding it nearly impossible to become big enough named actors to ever get projects funded. They can’t get to A-list status if they are never given the opportunity to do so.
Not being considered for roles in certain genres of film limits an actor’s career prospects, and when those roles are obtained (as with Candace Patton’s casting as Iris West in The Flash, Moses Ingram’s casting in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and Leslie Jones casting in Ghostbusters) they receive no protection from their employers from the harassment and pervasive racist vitriol on social media, which is one of the nastier side effects of Hollywood never having hired actors who look like them for these roles in the past. Part of their employment means they are subject to public emotional abuse while working in a role they were paid money to perform. These actors often receive little to no support from their white industry colleagues or white female fans either (something which has only begun to change just this year!) It has continually fallen on the fans, especially Black women, to be their support systems under trying and stressful circumstances.
Until this moment passes, and seeing PoC in these types of roles becomes normalized, and white fans fully begin to understand that this is not a situation that is going to change (because diversity and inclusion is proving to be a very lucrative deal for the corporations engaging in it), we will continue to see this kind of toxic behavior, and we all need to be ready for that. Much of this behavior can be laid at the feet, not just of the kinds of fans who are used to being the only demographic that was pandered to for over a hundred years, but Hollywood’s idea that PoC, neither the actors nor the audiences, were worthy of consideration.
It is long past time Hollywood realized we too are worthy of being pandered to and that representation always mattered, not just to us but to white people who are unused to seeing PoC as anything other than the stereotypes which Hollywood has always given them.
As I stated when I first started this blog:
Black women like to have adventures too.
It is a shame I’ve had to wait nearly my entire life for Hollywood to realize women like me exist.
We all know that sooner or later the X-Men will be joining the MCU, since they’ve been teasing it across several television series and movies for the past year, with the most recent tease occurring in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where Professor X from an alternate universe, shows up as the leader of one of Marvel’s covert Superteams, The Illuminati. It has been recently announced that Hugh Jackman will reprise his role as Logan/Wolverine for the MCU production of the next Deadpool film. It’s unknown if he will continue to play Wolverine for any other films.
I don’t know that Patrick Stewart is going to reprise his role (or even if he will still be acting by the time the studios get around to production, but it would make sense for him to do it and also for the mutants to come from another universe). Fans however are losing it about who they are going to cast as one of the X-Men’s greatest mutants, Storm, the Kenyan – born weather goddess who was married to T’Challa’s Black Panther. There has been a lot of wishing and speculation as to who will obtain one of the hottest roles in the MCU.
I have my own ideas about who I’d love to see in this role, and I wanted to go beyond the handful of Black actresses that white fans only know from social media. Okay, there are two kinds of famous Black actors in the US. There are the A-List famous like Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Will Smith, that a lot of white people know because their repertoire crosses a very broad audience, and then there are the top Black actors known pretty much only in Black households, like CCH Pounder, Harold Perrineau, Bokeem Woodbine, and before she starred in Nope, Keke Palmer.
So yeah, I got thoughts about who should play one of my all-time favorite X-Men, who is also one of the most badass and powerful mutants. I automatically eliminated any actress I thought was too light-skinned for the role. Storm was born in Kenya, and her actress needs to not just be a “reflection” of her birth country, but an opportunity for a dark-skinned actress who might not be considered for other kinds of roles. White fans don’t give a shit about that. All they want is someone they know, and they think is pretty, which is why they keep suggesting people like Zoe Kravitz and, once again, Halle Berry.
I know it’s easy to make suggestions for who to play Storm, but it’s sometimes easier to picture them in the role if you see them moving and speaking, so I’ve also listed a few of their acting credits so you can check them out.
Here are my top choices for who I’d like to see play Storm in an upcoming movie.
Yetide is my top pick for Storm because she already has experience playing a goddess in American Gods on Starz, and she is absolutely gorgeous. In fact when I first saw her my first thought was, “That’s Storm!” I can’t imagine her rocking a mohawk, but I’m certain she can pull that off with the same grace as the character Bilquis.
Keke is definitely what used to be known in the Black community as Black Famous. If you’re a child of the 90s then you should be familiar with her work as an actor and singer on different shows on the Disney channel. I remember her rendition of Reflection from Disneymania. She is now all-around famous as Emerald Haywood in Jordan Peele’s Nope released just this Summer. So she’s funny, she’s got those fierce action hero vibes, and I can imagine her with a mohawk.
Dewanda has the kind of ethereal beauty that befits a goddess. We saw in Jurassic World Dominion that she can carry an action scene, and she seems poised for that breakout role that so many actors dream about, as she has appeared in a lot of big-name productions (The Good Wife, Special Victims Unit, Boardwalk Empire) without really taking off. Storm would be perfect for establishing her as an actress to be reckoned with.
The easiest place to see Yale graduate Moses Ingram’s regal bearing is in Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series. She showed such strong character, command, and gravity, in her role as a kind of reluctant villain, that it took me a minute to get past the character, but I eventually fell in love with this actress a little. Like James Earl Jones, she has a classical acting style, but she is definitely giving off some Angela Bassett vibes, (the Black community had long thought that Angela would at some point be chosen to play Storm, but we got Ramonda instead). But I will accept Moses in the role. The other places she can be seen are in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, and in the Summer Action film, Ambulance.
Ana Diop is currently playing the alien Starfire in the HBO series Titans, which is a very fire goddess-like character, so she’d be perfect to play a weather goddess, too. Diop is a Senegalese actress and model, with classic African features and bearing, and yeah, if the MCU decided to go in that direction, I’m pretty sure she could rock a mohawk, too. She is currently starring in a Netflix horror movie titled Nanny.
Kiki Layne is still a relatively new actress with one of the few credits in which I’ve seen her was 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk by Barry Jenkins, where she showed her softer side, and she showed her action prowess in Netflix’s The Old Guard, alongside Charlize Theron. This is another actress that is bubbling just under the radar, right on the cusp of big time stardom, and playing Storm would make her a household name. She has the beauty and poise to pull it off, and if Disney is in talks to choose a new Storm, I’d be fine with her in the role.
Now stick with me here. I know that casting a transgender actress in the role is risky and daring because a lot of people would totally lose their shit, but if absolutely anyone can pull off playing a goddess it is the tall, imposing, and elegant Dominique Jackson. When I was watching her character Elektra Abundance on the FX series Pose, I thought to myself, she would be incredible as Storm, and I would love to see it. It would also be groundbreaking to have a transgender actress in the MCU.
Michaela Coel – Was one of my top picks to play Storm, but has already taken a role in Wakanda Forever as one of the Dora Milaje.
Aja Naomi King – She is a lot of people’s first choice, but I wasn’t feeling it. She’s alright and nothing to be upset about. I just had other ideas. A lot of people like her though.
Janelle Monet – I like Janelle and she has proven to be a competent actress who brings gravity and elegance to all her roles, but I just can’t imagine her as Storm. She comes across as much too young to me, but she is a fan favorite for the role. I don’t object to her playing Storm, I just can’t see it.
Also, there are other fan favorites like:
For the record:
I liked Halle Berry as Storm just okay, but she was given nothing to do, and she wasn’t shown as being nearly as powerful as we know her to be from the comic books. I don’t object to Halle’s acting abilities but she wasn’t really Storm material. I thought she was simply too light-weight to play her.
I disliked Alexandra Shipp immensely. I thought she was a mistake the moment I saw her and have no idea how she got chosen for a role she was too young and ill-equipped to perform let alone who hired her. She simply wasn’t up to par for this character. We need an actress who can play larger than life, who can play a god. Storm, like Wanda, is one of the top-tier most powerful superheroes in the MCU and I never got that vibe from Shipp.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II was released in 2008, a mere ten years before the release of this new reboot, by Neil Marshall. The reboot bombed horribly, which kind of saddens me because I generally like Neil Marshall’s output. He’s the director of The Descent and Dog Soldiers, both of which are good, solid, action-horror movies, each with a deft emotional touch.
This newest version of Hellboy isn’t’ bad, but lord, it isn’t good. Well, let’s just say it’s worst than it should’ve been. I want to compare Del Toro’s and Marshall’s versions of the films, but in order to do that, I need to also talk about the comic book series the movies are based on, as both movies capture different aspects of the books.
The comic books are written by many different people, but Mike Mignola, as the initial creator, has had an enormous amount of control over his creation. Depending on what mood Mignola is in, you can get humor, or scares, or melancholy, which is something felt across the entire series.
Marshall’s remake is a grim and disjointed affair, that feels like a collection of unrelated action scenes, with too many flashbacks designed to illuminate who the various characters are, and why they’re doing what they’re doing, any one of which could be made into their own film, rather than the hodgepodge we got.
I believe Marshall’s first mistake was starting the film with the villain’s origin story. Nimue is some type of Witch Queen, who gets killed by King Arthur, and Merlin. Using Excalibur, they chop her into pieces, and send the pieces to different parts of the world. We then move to the present day, where the plot becomes unnecessarily convoluted, as a secret organization tries to kill Hellboy. This secret organization has no other role in the film other than getting Hellboy to visit England.
Meanwhile, Baba Yaga (one of the coolest parts of the movie) is collecting the various pieces of the Witch Queen (with the help of a kind of troll, fairy/ pig creature, also cool). Hellboy fights some giants, which has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and feels like filling time until we get to the real plot. He is then kidnapped by Alice, who gets a flashback to when Hellboy saved her from the fairies, specifically the fairy pig thingie that took Alice’s place as a changeling, and who now bears a grudge against Hellboy for having exorcised him from Alice’s house.
Outside of that, Alice’s story is unrelated to the larger Nimue story and Baba Yaga. Hellboy fights with his adoptive father, who gets a flashback to his first meeting with Hellboy, and Hellboy meets Ben Daimio, who also gets a flashback to his origin story as a were-jaguar, a story that is wholly unrelated to anything else in the movie, although I liked seeing him because I have a crush on the actor, Daniel Dae Kim, who is also underused.
Actually, the very beginning of the movie is Hellboy traveling to Mexico to fight a friend who has been turned into a vampire Luchador, which sounds cool as fuck, comes directly from one of the stories in the comic books and could have been a movie in its own right. Hellboy kills his friend, goes into a drunken funk, and has to be taken back to headquarters by the agents of the BPRD. Nothing in this scene is even remotely related to anything else that happens in the movie and we don’t get to see any more Mexican bat-vampires for the duration of the film.
I liked many of the individual scenes in the movie, from the vampires to the giants to the Baba Yaga scene. I just wished all of these things had been tied together with a coherent story, and all the unnecessary stuff jettisoned to tighten up the plot. There’s also no big emotional payoff. The remake is more of a horror movie that’s made up of side quests. There’s a warmth and whimsy in the original films, that’s very palpable, and you get a distinct impression that Del Toro truly loves these characters. It’s not that I didn’t find things to like about this newer version, there were just fewer things to enjoy, and those things weren’t thematically or even emotionally connected to any of the other things. At times, the movie felt very workmanlike. Hellboy needs to meet someone so he gets taken to them. He needs to be somewhere so he’s ordered to go there. I liked the visuals, which were great, especially the scene of Baba Yaga’s house with the chicken legs, which came right out of my childhood nightmares. There’s a lot of gore in this movie, but beyond a few snarky comments by some of the characters, (mostly Alice), I just wasn’t feeling it.
At no point during the film does Hellboy make the decision to fight the apocalypse of his own free will. He spends the majority of the movie being snatched, kidnapped, derailed, or ordered about by the other characters, and seems not particularly interested in being heroic, at one point complaining about having been turned into a weapon by his adoptive father. In the middle of the movie, Hellboy has a very “emotional” fight with his father about this which comes across a bit ham-fisted, and seems to come out of nowhere. There’s no emotional buildup for this outburst nor is the subject ever revisited. This same subject is handled more deftly in Hellboy II, when Prince Nuada challenges Hellboy not to kill the last living Forest God, and accuses him of being nothing more than a weapon against his own kind if he does, and its a question that arises out of Hellboy’s wonderings about his life purpose.
A big part of my dissatisfaction is with the cast though. I wasn’t feeling any group cohesion, although I had no problem with David Harbour’s version of Hellboy, who seems as perfect for the role as Perlman, if somewhat more petulant but he is never given any room to shine since the plot constricts him. All of the relationships in this movie start out adversarial, and for no other reason than they were written that way, but at the end, the characters are suddenly working as a well-oiled team, and getting along with each other, except when they don’t. These were people who were together because the plot required them to be, not because they were friends or genuinely like each other.This is unlike the Del Toro movies, where the characters get on each other’s nerves, and are often exasperated by Hellboy’s behavior, but at least you get the sense that they like each other, and are long-term friends.
This movie tries and fails to create the dynamic seen between Hellboy and Abe in the original film, and fails at that too. Alice has something of the same powers as Abe (she’s a mystic) but never comes across as a fully realized character, with some kind of interior life. Abe, despite all the heavy makeup, is imbued by his actors body language with a deep interiority. Abe and the other characters are treated by the story as if they have a life when Hellboy isn’t around, especially in the second movie, where they are given their own storylines. We don’t know anything about Alice other than that she’s cranky.
As with the original movies, there are some impressive visuals, if not the sheer imagination of the first two films, but these visuals are not connected to anything in the rest of the plot. At the beginning of the movie Hellboy fights some giants. This fight has nothing to do with the overall plot with the Witch Queen, or the preceding plot, which had an organization that existed to kill him, in case he turns evil and destroys the world, according to the prophecy. The Witch Queen releases some demons that wreak havoc on the city of London, but Hellboy doesn’t get to fight those, which would have been fucking awesome to see, but he has no contact with them at all. The demons show up to terrorize the city and that’s what they do because it looks cool. Events in the movie are only connected because someone in the cast says they are, and not because of any actual connections. The movie is just made up of setpieces that look really cool.
There are scenes that vaguely echo scenes from Helboy II, in this remake, but without any of the emotional payoff, because although we’ve been given backstories we still don’t know any of these characters. Everyone remembers the fight scene between Hellboy and the Forest God, in Hellboy 2, and the haunting and beautiful music and images when the creature dies. Here, the music is forgettable, action film noise.
Like I said, its not that the Hellboy reboot is a bad movie. I watched it, and liked the way it looked, but it is a bad movie compared to the excellence of the first two films that came before it, and it’s too soon after those movies that this one was made. And people definitely compared them and found the remake wanting because no one went to see this movie. Hell, I didn’t even go see this movie. In all fairness though, it would have been really hard for any film maker to follow in the footsteps of the mastery of Del Toro, who has a reason for every single thing you will see on the screen, right down to his use of colors, and it feels like Marshall either didn’t understand the assignment, or did not try as hard as he should have to make the movie his own, as he seemed to be aping bits and pieces from the original films, or in some scenes trying really hard not to ape those scenes.
I think this new film suffers from too much plot (We’ve got Merlin, Excalibur, witches, fairies, dragons, demons, were-animals, giants, spiritualists, and knights) and simply not enough character, since it’s the characters in the original films which drew us into the ridiculous idea of a giant red devil-man in a trench coat, running through the streets of New York City, chasing Cthulhu demons on subway trains, a telepathic fishman, and a woman who can control fire, all fighting an ancient Nazi wannabe, an Urban Elf King, or tiny winged creatures that eat teeth! Yes, it’s all utterly ridiculous! But we cared about the characters and believed their relationships, and so were willing to sit with the craziness of these stories.
This reboot was adapted from at least four different Hellboy comics by the actual writer, Mike Mignola, and none of those books are related either, which accounts for the disjointed plot here. It’s like Mignola saw a chance to throw a bunch scenes from his favorite comic books up on the screen, and then tried to flimsily make these plots stick to each other.
I tried. I really did. But I just didn’t care about Alice or even Hellboy because there’s simply nothing there to grasp. Ian McShane is wasted, swanning in from time to time to yell at Hellboy and then he’s gone. Daniel Dae Kim is also completely wasted as a were jaguar who is cranky for no reason, and doesn’t show up until near the end of the movie, and his disappointing special effects made me roll my eyes, which is not, I think, the effect the creators were looking for. These are empty characters who are going through the motions of the plot. I did like, of all the characters, Baba Yaga, who was absotively awesome, and quite frankly, I would’ve preferred the entire plot be just her and Hellboy playing a game of cat and mouse over whatever machinations she was getting up to.
I remember I was excited for this movie because of the trailer, but ultimately I walked away disappointed. Not because it’s so awful, because I’ve watched much worse films than this, but because I kept seeing what could have been, if there had been better editing, character development, and a leaner and meaner plot.
Hey, we got a bunch of exciting new trailers that recently dropped so let’s check them out! Which ones are you looking forward to, and why. Let me know in the comments!
Jurassic World: Dominion
This is such a great trailer for the movie. I would watch an entire season of short snippets of people coping with dinosaurs, so I’m really excited to watch this. I hope it’s a really good movie because this was the kind of stuff I used to imagine when I was a kid and I don’t want to walk out of the theater disappointed.
Wow! I mean just think about it! What if dinosaurs existed at the same time as modern humans? We’d have to take the good (incredible images and photos) with the bad (possibly being eaten). What if you lived in a place with a dinosaur infestation? What would your insurance be like? How would you explain being late for work because there were some triceratopsians blocking the freeway? What if the local pack of herbivores showed up in your backyard and ate your flower garden? And let’s be honest here, there is a part of me that thinks watching human beings be menaced by giant predators is just deeply entertaining.
Incidentally, if you like this video there’s a trilogy of books by James David called Footprints of Thunder that has this same plot, with dinosaurs having made it into the modern world through a time rift! Not sure if it’s still in print but if you can find some copies, check them out.
As I mentioned before, my youngest niece and nephew have already decided we’re going to see this film, and I believe in shamelessly indulging their interests. My Millennial sister likes dinosaurs too, so I hope to turn this into a full family affair, (although my oldest niece may miss out because of work).
Okay, I have no intention of watching this. I watched all 15 years of Supernatural and I have no more taste for their story. I stuck it out to the end, and have moved on. More than likely this is an appeal to a younger generation of supernatural fans who while they may have watched the old episodes, are probably more likely to watch this than those of us who sat through 15 seasons of the original series. The actors are all very pretty but I don’t know any of them and I don’t want to supplant any of my memories of the original with any images from this one, so I’m going to pass on it.
But I know there are some people who are greatly interested in this, so I’m giving y’all a heads up in case you hadn’t heard the news.
The Umbrella Academy
I am very excited about this series and I’m really looking forward to the season three premiere. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I implore you to check it out. There will be at least one character you will fall in love with. I thought the character I would love the most was Klaus, who acts like a free spirit but is mostly traumatized by his ability to speak to the dead, and so self medicates. To my surprise, my favorite character turned out to be Number Five, an old man in a child’s body (due to time mishap) and who is the smartest sibling along with being a complete badass.
But this series is notable for having Eliot Page. Eliot came out as non-binary transgender last year and everyone was wondering how the character he played on screen in seasons one and two would be treated in the story. It appears that the character has also come out as transgender since the writers changed the name of the character from Vanya to Victor. Hopefully, Victor won’t try to destroy the world again as they did in the first two seasons. See how new this is. This is something that so different from what we’re used to that I don’t even know how to talk about a fictional character. How do I talk about Vanya? Is it deadnaming to talk about her since the new character is named Victor? And is it okay because she’s fictional? Somebody help!
I was a huge fan of the Jim Byrne run of the She-Hulk comic series, and I love what they’re doing here with the character. They seem to have perfectly captured the sensibility and mood of the books and now I’m looking forward to this. It looks fun and funny. I love how they made her a sexual being with appetites who makes it clear that she wants what she wants. The comic book version was often sexy and sassy, with a lot of snark and attitude, and yeah, Bruce Banner is indeed her cousin.
All that aside, I do hate the CGI. It looks awful and cheap and simply not up to Disney standards. The face is just wrong, especially in her Hulked-out state, and her body looks too thin, and not very muscular, which is a real problem I have with female characters who are supposed to have super strength but whose arms look like twigs. I hope they correct all this by the time the series airs. (Note: Jane Thor and King Valkyrie have just the right amount of muscle for such characters).
Note: I read that the CGI has been upgraded to look a bit better, so I checked it out, and the trailer was improved a bit. She looks more muscular than before, but her face still looks a little bit off to me. It’s not as bad as in the original trailer though.
I have not read the Neil Gaiman comic books on which this series is based, something I plan to correct before the series airs in August. Since I am only passingly familiar with The Endless, I don’t know enough to be really excited about this, but so far, I like what I see, and I’m looking forward to reading the books, and watching the show.
But, whether or not I watch this also depends greatly on what else will be out at the time. Sometimes I have every intention of watching some show or movie, and then I don’t, or only watch some of it, not because it’s bad or anything, not because I’m bored, but because it’s sometimes hard for me to keep up the momentum, which has been stolen by another series. But even if I don’t watch the series, I intend to refresh myself with the books, which I haven’t even glanced at since I was a young’un.
New Thor 2 Trailer
Well, I already had plans to see this. Yeah, I’m an MCU fan and no shame in that, because I go to the movies to have fun and adventures, and MCU films deliver every single time. If I’m gonna spend that much money to be entertained I want it to be worth it. (Yeah, I’m not going to pay the cost of birthing a child in the US to watch a movie about pain and tragedy, unless it’s by Martin Scorcese.)
One of the primary reasons I love Taika Waititi (the director) is his ability, almost his compulsion, to take famous characters, sometimes famously evil ones, and deconstruct them, making them human and relatable, while never denying they’re not actually good people. He did this with vampires, Hitler, pirates, and superheroes, and he’s done the same thing for Thor, and I find it a really interesting habit. I’m gonna have to talk about that some more in another post.
So, yeah I’m looking forward to his interpretation of Jane Thor, King Valkyrie, and this new villain, Ghorr the Godslayer, who is played by Christian Bale.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning
Okay, these actors are starting to get up there in years, (except for Rebecca Ferguson, who I believe might be a vampire), but I don’t care. The Mission Impossible franchise consistently hits it out of the park in the Action genre, and you have the usual required scenes of Tom Cruise jumping onto something while clenching a woman, and running really fast somewhere. I’m probably not going to see this in the theater because it’s simply not on my list of movies to watch this Summer. My mom used to throw my whole watchlist into disarray every year, but fortunately, I can dictate to my sister’s kids, and they kinda have to go along with my tastes if they wanna eat free popcorn.
I don’t actually have much to say about this trailer except the Action doesn’t look as wild and crazy as it has in previous films, but maybe they’re just holding back on those images, and when you’re sitting in the theater you’ll get that familiar sensation of your stomach dropping down to your knees, and you’ll clench the arms of your seat in terror, and paying five thousand dollars to see it will have been worth it.
I don’t normally engage in a whole lot of nostalgia, but for this movie, I will make an exception! The original movie was released in the 80s, and when it was available for TV, I remember watching it multiple times. It’s been thirty+ years and we have a sequel television series. As soon as I heard there was a trailer for this, my mind started playing the John Williams theme from the original. Yep, I still fondly remember that.
The reason the movie was so special to me was because of Warwick Davis. He was my first exposure to a dwarf actor, and I thought he was very handsome and very charming. In the movie, he is tasked with the care of a tiny baby girl that is the “chosen one”, But the movie isn’t about her, because she’s, like, one year old and has no speaking parts, so much as the hero’s journey of Davis’ character, Willow. It’s a little bit of a remix of Snow White, and surprisingly progressive for its time, with a woman warrior character and an evil Queen.
This sequel happens many years later and the “baby” is an adult, and Willow and some companions have been called to save their world again. The original was also my first real exposure to High Fantasy that I actually liked, as I was mostly indifferent to these types of books and movies, and most of them made no impression on me. But Willow snuck in and got to me, and I’m obviously going to have to do a deep dive before this series release!
I’m looking forward to it because it looks like a lot of fun and the nostalgia factor really kicked my ass while watching this!
Despite that I’ve watched almost none of the movies, I do love a good horror series with lots of monsters, so I’m looking forward to this series. I’m not enthusiastic exactly, but anytime I’m watching a trailer, and I am sitting on the edge of my seat or just nope the fuck out (the giant spider scene), it’s definitely worth checking it out. so zombies, spiders, chainsaws, Black women being included in the story? I’m in!
I am glad to see more Black girls and women being involved in fantasy and horror movies and series. For the longest time, at least since the seventies, the existence of Black women as an audience that could be pandered to was not a thing. There’s nothing wrong with being pandered to in a narrative, despite the fact that straight white male audiences want to turn it into a dirty word, which is really ironic since for the past seventy years they have been the ones being pandered to by every form of entertainment media that existed.
Creators, almost all of whom were white men, literally didn’t think about other groups of people, in fact making it expressly clear that white men, between the ages of 15 and 35, was the ideal audience they were chasing after, and there is a contingent of online assholery that actually wants to go back to a time when we were considered nothing but maids, slaves, and servants to be abused in whatever stories we were in (hence the current online trolling of Black actresses who happen to find work in these genres). I’m glad to see these creators and writers remembering that WoC watch shit too, recognize that we also have money and choices, are willing to chase after PoC for their money, and that we want to see ourselves in these narratives as heroes and villains. Putting that message out into the world is one of the primary reasons I started this blog.
So yeah, I’m excited to see a Black girl in this series who is apparently being a total bad ass.
I am a really huge fan of Lost World type movies, and my personal favorite is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I just love watching movies about goopy aliens, monsters, and weird environments and this looks like hella fun, plus it’s got this retro-vibe that I find aesthetically appealing. I don’t normally watch a lot of the kid’s stuff on Disney, and I don’t go to those type of movies anymore (cuz I don’t have that kind of money), but I would pay money to go see this. I think it’s just going to be on the Disney+ app though which has more than shown it’s worth in the series Wandavision, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and a bunch of movies and documentaries.
I’m not sure how I feel about the characters, because as I said many times, it’s not just a plot or some imagery that pulls me into something. It’s got to have at least one or two characters I’m drawn to, although the characters do look really cute! I didn’t see much of their personalities in this trailer so I don’t know what to think of them yet, (and although the pilot looks appealing, it doesn’t mean I will like her) but the trailer looks like weird goopy fun, which is enough of an attraction for me, I guess. It’ll get a look-see.
And finally there’s this gem, starring Ralph, Fiennes, and one of my favorite new actresses, who I hope will be around for a good long while, Anya Taylor-Joy! I have the feeling this movie is about one of my favorite topics, cannibalism, and I’m always up for a good humans eating humans movie, especially if it’s an “eat the rich” story. I only just heard of this movie, so I don’t have a lot of knowledge beyond the visuals, but I will probably watch this when it streams.
A couple of weeks ago saw the debut of the new HBO series, Lovecraft Country, based on the book of the same name by Matt Ruff. In the book, a young black man named Atticus goes on a road trip through the Jim Crow South, with his uncle, and childhood friend, to find his father, who has mysteriously gone missing up North. They stumble across racist cops, sundown towns, Lovecraftian monsters, and occultism, in their travels.
I watched the first two episodes of this series. Normally I would not have watched any show that’s based in the Jim Crow South because that’s just a particularly triggering time period, but the writers and producers are black, so I was willing to give it a chance. Its still a very nerve-wracking show, but in a kind of good way, because its also surprisingly cathartic, entertaining, and not wholly based on Black pain and suffering. The characters are very likable, and there are other, more personal issues they deal with besides racism.
I can honestly say I enjoyed this episode. I know that sounds weird, considering how I’ve complained about no longer being interested in shows that are based on black pain and suffering, in different eras, but this show, along with the Watchman series, was very entertaining. For one thing, the plot isn’t necessarily based in suffering. the Jim Crow era in which the story takes place is simply the backdrop, and the way the story is written, the racism of the white characters is just one of the primary obstacles that the protagonists have to navigate, occasionally in the form of harrowing car chases.
It doesn’t hurt that the three main characters, Atticus, the very fine looking lead character, his uncle George, played by the incredible Courtney B. Vance, and the gorgeous Leticia, Atticus childhood friend, played by Journee Smollet, who you may remember as Black Canary, from the Harley Quinn/Birds of Prey movie, released earlier this year, are all immensely likable, and reasonably smart.
Outside of the mystery itself, the series presents a lot of ideas about black people that don’t often get seen in popular culture, which are merely glimpses into the lives of regular black people, in the midst of horrific circumstances, because that too is as important to our representation, as seeing ourselves be heroic, hearing our own stories, or seeing ourselves existing as a culture in the future. We get loving black couples, black people who love books, clothes, and superheroes, ordinary disputes between family members and black people snatching little moments of joy, even in the darkest times.
The episode begins with Atticus on his way home from the Korean War. Its 1954, and that particular war (the one depicted in the MASH series) ended around 1953. He’s dreaming of a mashup of all the scifi he’s ever read, Cthulhu, John Carter of Mars, and an ass kicking cameo from #42 himself, Jackie Robinson.
When the bus he’s riding breaks down, he and the only other black passenger, rather than being allowed to hitch a ride with a local farmer, have to walk several miles to the next town. During their walk is when we get Atticus broad opinions on fantasy stories with racist characters, or written by racist writers, like Robert E. Howard, or Lovecraft himself. Genre fiction, whether movies, books, or TV, has always been problematic for black people. Most of it was not written with us in mind, and what was, often had negative connotations.
When Atticus gets home, he finds the neighborhood is preparing to have a block party. This is something that really resonated with me, because I remember attending quite a few of these, during my childhood. My family is/was huge, so most of the block party consisted of me, my little brothers, and a seemingly vast number of cousins, uncles, and aunties! Anyway Atticus finds out from his uncle George that his father has gone missing but left a note saying he could be found in a place called Ardham. That’s right, not Arkham, but Ardham House. He, and George are joined by Leticia, a young woman that Atticus knew when they were children, because Letty was the only girl in his Science fiction book club, but who is now a traveling photographer.
Uncle George offers to come along because he is the publisher of the Chicago based green book. His wife, Hippolyta, offers to come, but George says no, out of a sense of protection. He knows how dangerous it would be for her to do such a thing., considering that he once had both his knees broken, by some racists, while on a previous trip for his travel books.
The travel books, that George writes, (based on the real life Negro Motorist’s Green Book), aided black people in navigating through the Jim Crow South, listing problem areas, like eating and sleeping places that were safe, but most especially, listed all the Sundown Towns, in both the North and South. At that time, these were all white towns, in which black people would be either run out, or murdered, if they were found within the town limits, after sundown.
Welcome to the world’s only registry of sundown towns. A sundown town is not just a place where something racist happened. It is an entire community (or even county) that for decades was “all white” on purpose. “All white” is in quotes because some towns allowed one black family to remain when they drove out the rest. Also, institutionalized persons (in prisons, hospitals, colleges, etc.), live-in servants (in white households), and black or interracial children (in white households) do not violate the taboo.
“On purpose” does not require a formal ordinance. If, for example, if a black family tried to move in, encountered considerable hostility, and left, that would qualify the town as “sundown.” Note that some sundown towns kept out Chinese Americans, Jews, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, even Mormons.
One of the most hair raising, but exhilarating, chase sequences occurs when George mistakenly takes them to a cafe that does not serve black people, and the local firefighters chase them out of town. They are saved by Letty’s well honed survival instincts, her ability to drive like a maniac, and a little bit of hoodoo, from a mysterious benefactor.
This same benefactor comes to their aid at the end of the episode, after they get stopped in a sundown county by the local sheriff, who challenges them to get out of the county 8 minutes before sundown, but without speeding. This is very probably the slowest, most nerve wracking car chase in television history, and does a spectacular job of showing how frustrating, and enraging it was to live during the Jim Crow era, in which those who held authority, (yes, the police, but regular citizens were encouraged to get in on the fun), could terrorize black people on a whim, or simply for their own pleasure.
They do follow the cops rules and manage to barely make it out of town, only to be stopped by the police in the neighboring county, who were lying in wait for them. This is an especially relevant point, because it speaks to the arbitrary nature of the rules. It ultimately doesn’t mean anything that Atticus and the others followed the rules. They’ll be killed anyway, because a group of people determined that they should, and no amount of rule following would’ve saved them. However, the three of them are inadvertently saved by monsters.
*I want to point out some of the images used in the show, which is rich with detail. This particular image here was based off some famous photographs by Gordon Parks.
And here is another, which can also seen in the episode:
*There’s also a famous interview from James Baldwin, which is used in voiceover, before the trio’s second encounter with the police.
*Hippolyta (George’s wife) is also the name of Wonder Woman’s mother, and George has a daughter named Diana.
The cops take the three of them into the woods to execute them. This is an especially chilling scene when you think about how many black people might have been murdered in this fashion, who were never missed, or whose bodies were never discovered. In fact there are a host of activities that black people don’t do today, not just because we were discouraged from participating in everyday American life, but because, even today, we are still recovering from the trauma of the constant terrorizing and policing of our actions, which lasted some sixty to seventy years. Activities like road trips, camping, swimming, walking on the sidewalks, or just out enjoying nature, could (and did) get us murdered.
Until the seventies, many state parks were off limits to black people and earlier this Summer a young black man posted videos where he was threatened with lynching, by a white mob that assaulted him in a park. The bottom line is that many of the nature activities that white people took for granted, were enduring traumas for PoC, but especially black people. So when you hear us joking about not going into the woods, or never going hiking, keep this in mind, as one of the factors.
“When I’m walking to work with park rangers or with other campers and hikers who treat me in some sort of way that make me feel unwelcome, that make me feel unsafe, that is startling,” Tariq said. “And that goes unchecked because there’s, there’s just no channel for us to be able to challenge that in such remote places.”
As much as white people claim to be afraid of black people because…..crime, or something, I don’t think many of them have ever thought about what it must be like to live one’s life in constant fear of stepping on white people’s toes, at work, or the store, in a park, or just out of doors. Always having to watch what you say, how you look, dress, act, and carefully structure one’s facial expressions, lest you set one of them off, as if they were unexploded ordinance.
The police take them into the woods to execute them, but before that can happen, they are all attacked by what viewers are calling Shuggoths, but what the characters in the show are calling vampires. They are covered with eyes, shun the light, and can move extremely fast, so they manage to take out the five or six cops rather easily. Letty and Atticus escape to an abandoned cabin, along with two of the cops, one of whom had their arm bitten off. After George joins them in the cabin, they make a plan to get more light from the cars parked at the edge of the woods. Atticus wants to go, but is prevented from doing so by the cops who 1) don’t trust him, and on top of that 2) aren’t very bright, because why would he leave his friends behind just to spite the police? The cops nominate Letty to run to the vehicles.
Okay, I’m going to have to stop here for another aside. These are the same type of white men who will happily kill a black man for breathing too hard in a white woman’s direction but are perfectly happy to sacrificing a black woman to save their skins. In their minds, black women are not worth protecting. So even though they are armed and can take care of themselves, they insist that this black woman attempt to outrun the monsters, to save their skins. To calm everyone down, Letty does make a case that she is faster than Atticus, having run track as a girl, and off she goes.
And this is the way that people should be running in a Horror movie. Letty is seriously hauling ass! I wonder how many times Journee had to do that scene, because this is not a stunt double, and she is seriously working out! There’s none of that glancing behind, or tripping and falling shit in your typical generic horror movie. This is also probably the reason black people don’t get to star in too many of them, because they would be boringly short films.
Letty makes it to the car, and heads back to the cabin, where the two cops are so busy concentrating on holding those two scary black men in check, that they don’t notice that one of them is turning into a one of the creatures that attacked them, but that’s not what’s interesting . What’s fascinating is even though the cop next to him is turning into a nightmare that’s going to eat him, he is hesitant to shoot him, despite Attticus’ and George’s warnings, instead choosing to keep his weapon aimed at the two unarmed black men in front of him. See ,this is one of the reasons I don’t trust white people, (no, not even my white friends), with my safety. After decades of fear-mongering propaganda, the majority of them simply do not have good judgment when it comes to what’s actually dangerous, and what isn’t.
The cop turns into a monster and eats the other cop, which is a nice conflation of the idea that there are other types of monsters in the world, but the human ones are the scariest. Letty arrives with the car just as the monster turns its attention to Atticus and George, but they still need to hold the monsters off until daylight, or fight them, and that’s when the mysterious benefactor arrives and calls them off using, what else…a dog whistle!
We next see the three travelers arriving at Ardham house, exhausted, and covered in blood, where they are welcomed and expected by their happy blond host, and yes, I’m immediately suspicious.
So that’s my first impression of the show. I have, since the posting of this review, watched a couple more episodes, and the show manages to keep that same energy for each episode, which is more like a connected anthology than a serialistic show. The second episode finishes out the first story arc at Ardham House, and the third focuses on Leticia buying a haunted house. Both episodes continue with the same wealth of detail, racist white men, and historical asides, including references to the Garden of Eden, and a chilling cameo from Emmet Till!
There are so many layers to this show, but its also just entertaining, even if you don’t get, or see, all the socio-historical references. The show is fun to watch, with a lot of exciting moments, because its well written, and the characters and plot are compelling.
Yeah, I’m still on this thing where I look through files about the SCP organization. That place is really a lot weirder than I ever thought it might be. Although there are at least a couple of these that are just joke SCPs, some of these I’m not too sure about.
SCP 8003 – Talking Penny
This one you’ll have to read for yourself as it defies description, and may not, in fact, exist at all.
This umbrella attracts lightning, when held directly above the head of its holder. It only attracts lightning when held directly overhead, and only during inclement weather, otherwise its just a regular umbrella.
SCP 799 – Carnivorous Blanket
This object appears to be a typical woolen blanket, that occasionally transforms into a large predator, that lies in wait for someone to wrap themselves in it, and then consumes them.
SCP 789 – Haunted Toilet
This is a butt ghost, which only consists of a face, that talks to people while they poop into the toilet. It will stop talking if you poop on it, and can only be gotten rid of by wiping your behind!
SCP 1057 – Invisible Shark
I think the above photo is a little misleading, since this is just a tank that holds a shark shaped space in it. The shark cannot be seen by the human eye, or measured by most instrumentation, but is capable of killing and eating anyone who gets inside the tank. As long as you don’t get int the tank with it, then you’re fine.
SCP 2852 – Cousin Johnny
This is definitely one of the creepiest of the cognito-hazards. Cousin Johnny is an alien entity that induces psychotic and cannibalistic behavior in the humans it comes into contact with at parties and weddings. The people it infects have no memory of interaction with the entity, which shows up at their special events masquerading as a previously unknown cousin named John, but after the event is over, the people are induced to brutalize one another in violent rituals.
SCP 1728 – Butter Man
Sadly, there are currently no photographs of Butter Man!
A man without a head, whose body exudes a buttery substance from his skin, making him exceptionally slippery, and difficult to contain in the facility.
SCP 2662 – Worship Him/F*ck Cthulhu!
A man, voluntarily residing in a containment facility, who has strange tentacles growing from his back. People are compelled to form cults and worship him. Sometimes people from outside the containment facility attempt to break in and hold violent, or sexually ritualistic services in his name, which cause the anomaly a great deal of emotional distress.
SCP 123 – I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter
A tub of what appears to be butter, that apparently tastes like butter, but when consumers are informed that it is not, in fact, butter, they react in an incredulous or sometimes disgusted manner.
SCP 919 – Needy Mirror
A mirror that compels a person to keep looking into it, making eye contact with their reflection. Should they break eye contact, their reflection will scream, and then burst into flames, until eye contact is returned.
SCP 1048 – Builder Bear
This seems ot be a harmless sentient bear, that is friendly and affectionate, except it likes to dismember human bodies, craft them together into a replica of itself, that will resurrect, and attempt to kill any humans nearby.
The Old Guard has totally blown up on Tumblr. The movie, which aired on Netflix last month was a real treat for women who love action movies, so much so, that there has been a lot of great meta writing and fanworks on the site.The movie is based on the Graphic Novel, by Greg Rucka, about a team of four immortal warriors, Andromache of Scythia,(Charlize Theron), Nicky, Joe, and Booker, living in the modern world, fighting a pharmecutical CEO ,who wants to use them for medical experiments. In the meantime, they need to find and recruit a brand new immortal, named Nile Freeman, and deal with a betrayal within, and outside of, their group.
Its one of those big idea movies, where the rules are all laid out beforehand, and doesn’t stint on the development of its characters. It has some truly lovely scenes between Nicky and Joe, and Nile and Andy. I thought the movie was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions. I think its really worth a watch if you like action movies, with strong, ass kicking, smart women, who interact realistically with one another, along with a well illustrated, found family dynamic. There’s also a strong philosophical thread that runs through the movie, which asks questions about the purpose of living, and what its like to be alive for hundreds of years.
The Old Guard is a fairly predictable film as far as the plot. What makes it groundbreaking however is its Black female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, the well executed action scenes, its racial diversity, its Black female co-lead, and the presence of a canon gay inter-racial couple, who both survive to the end of the movie.
I read a lot of meta on this movie and was moved by how much fans seemed to really embrace this movie, especially Nile, since fandom hasn’t always been any good about its approach to black female characters. Its true that some fans tend to infantilize her, but that’s somewhat understandable, since the character of Nile is a brand new, baby-immortal, just learning about her powers, and the actress who plays her, Kiki Layne does have a kind of sweet baby face.
The story makes an effort to set up the knowledge that the characters are immortal, but that their survival is not a guarantee, so the tension about who will survive, remains really high, no matter how many fights we see them get into in the film
One of the things I loved about this movie is that the stakes never were less than. You would think, because the characters are unable to die, that there’d be nothing for them to lose in the several firefights, but there are many intangible things they can lose. They can lose their freedom, they can lose their trust, or their friendship, for Nikki and Joe, they could lose each other, or even their sense of purpose, or self, the way Andy did.
Another love of this film was the character arcs. We find out at the beginning of the movie that Andy has been retired from fighting for over a year. She’s given up, she’s cynical, and has no hope that she has done anything useful for the world, and we watch as her character gets back her reason for fighting and Nile is the key to that. Andy doesn’t just go out and save Nile. Nile saves her too.
Even their treatment of Booker’s betrayal comes from a place of compassion. Yes, they’re very angry with him, but they don’t permanently exile him either. They think a hundred years of being separated from his family is punishment enough. They’re not out to physically harm him, or cause him emotional damage, but there have to be consequences for what he did. They know being alone however is horrible for him (it’s the reason he betrayed them in the first place) but it’s the only consequence they have available.
For male directors character development and emotions, may be a 3 or 4 on the scale of priority in a movie, and I normally don’t have a problem with that manner of filmmaking. I’ve watched enough action movies to be able to glean the emotions in them, but usually that’s not a male director’s focus. I’m mostly thinking of movies like Winter Soldier, Inception, and Fury Road, (and quite a large number of Asian action films,) where the focus is on the plot and action, with character development as more of an afterthought.
I think there are a number of male action directors who do bring emotionalism into their work, and manage to be successful at it, but I think the difference is for male directors their priorities are simply different than female directors. For women directors though, the priority on relationships, character interaction, and character development, may be at a one or a two, thereby making the plot much more character driven than in male directed films, where the plot is more situational, but that’s just an observation I’ve made with my limited sample size.
There really aren’t a wealth of action movies out there directed by female directors ,and the ones that do get made, are either always being trashed as the worst movies ever, or lauded as the second coming of Jesus. There seems to be no in between, reasonably thought out, reviews or critiques. Everything is either the best of times or the worst of times.
And yes, I am geeking out over the addition of a Black female character as an action heroine. There really are not enough female action heroes, but there are almost no Black or Asian ones. This is why I’ve become a lot more discerning about the kinds of shows and movies I watch now. I’m thoroughly spoiled for diverse content, that has depth and at least some meaning, and very dubious about sitting through any more all white, all male productions of shows and movies. I’m definitely not willing to sit through any of the lazy, sorry, excuses PoC have gotten in the past for not having diversity both in front of, and behind, the camera.
The Old Guard is a lot of fun, with just a touch of melancholy. Its just deep enough to be satisfying without getting too heavy. The plot isn’t really all that remarkable, and very predictable, but what the characters and director do with the plot is worth watching. It’s got some great action sequences, and although there are a couple of moments of cringey dialogue, and the music is sometimes overwhelmingly blase, its not too bad, and doesn’t stray very far from its comic book origins, as the script was written by Rucka. Theron carries most of the emotional heavy lifting in the story. In fact, she almost overpowers the story, but that gets nicely weighed by the other characterizations, and action scenes.
Fans are clamoring for a second season ,especially since there was a ice set up for it, in the last 30 seconds, but the word isn’t out yet on whether or not there will be one.
As for what Tumblr thinks:
This was a beautifully written examination of the movie’s characters. Please visit their Tumblr site for more insightful observations of their newest obseesion.
the old guard: loneliness, connection and immortality
APPARENTLY I am writing a thing about The Old Guard today.
(Bear in mind that I haven’t read the graphic novel, although I’m eager to now, so this is solely based on the movie and some things I’ve read about the comic in articles about the movie.)
Under the cut for spoilers, although the discussion is fairly general.
One of the things I love the most about The Old Guard, which I haven’t seen discussed much, is that there is no why to their powers. There’s no origin story, either via destiny or accident. There’s no prophecy, no curse, no ancient god, no super-serum, no lab accident, no mutant spider bite. If there is a reason why these people, in particular, are like this, we don’t know it and they don’t either. Where their immortality comes from, and why it fades when it does, is a complete unknown.
In other contexts I could see this coming off as a frustrating lack of clarity in worldbuilding. In The Old Guard I think it works as an essential piece of the philosophical landscape in which the story operates.
A parallel and interlocking component of this landscape is the fact that the immortals exist in a world where there are very few, if any, other superpowered beings. There are no pre-ordained forces of darkness, no aliens to fight, no neatly-arranged supervillains that only they can defeat. There are only humans.
This means they have to create their own framework of meaning for their actions, the way the rest of us mortals do. The mythology of their world doesn’t provide any built-in delineation of good guys and bad guys and What We’re Fighting For. There’s no easy certainty of purpose or moral clarity to be had.
Let’s talk for a minute about how The Old Guard shows Nile as a character who’s worthy of protection and caretaking without infantilizing her or minimizing her agency.
I’m thinking particularly of the scene when Nile wakes up from the nightmare about Quynh, which honestly might be one of my favorite moments in the whole movie. The three guys are all sleeping in the same room as her and they all immediately wake up and reach for their weapons, ready to throw down. Like, at least a couple of them look like they’re sleeping on cots. They could have spread out around the space, but all three of them are sleeping in the same room as her, armed. Only Andy has chosen to separate herself and is not-sleeping in the next room.
And their reaction isn’t just an ingrained response from a very long life of combat. They’re all very clearly focused on Nile and whether she’s safe, and once it’s clear that there’s no physical threat, they want to make sure she’s okay emotionally and help her understand what she saw in the nightmare.
This is one of those moments where context sensitivity matters a lot. Because we can easily imagine a scenario where the exact same scene would play as overprotective, condescending or downright creepy. But when the focus of the scene is a Black woman, a moment that says this character is worthy of both physical, bodily protection and emotional support reads very differently.
We already know Nile is a tough and self-sufficient character. She’s an elite soldier who grew up in the inner city, raised by a single mom who pushed her to succeed. She has excelled in a dangerous, physically demanding, male-dominated career. She is, in many ways, the template of the Strong Black Woman, and a lot of movies would have left it there. But with this scene, and all the other little moments of care and attention she receives, the other characters are saying, hey, we know you are tough and self-sufficient, but you don’t always have to be.
grizvser is writing some very nice meta about this show, especially the two lovers, Joe and Nicky. Please check out their Tumblr site for more astute observations about the show and characters.
Okay, so I’ve seen a lot of people say that Joe and Nicky were way too hard on Booker and that it’s out of character for them to have reacted so harshly to his betrayal, but y’all gotta remember (and I say this as someone who loves Booker): Joe and Nicky paid the heaviest price for Booker’s betrayal.
They were the ones who were kidnapped and tied up. Nicky had to watch Joe get stabbed repeatedly by Merrick. The two of them were the only ones who got experimented on, poked and prodded at and sliced into, and who knows what could have happened to them if they hadn’t been saved so soon. They had to deal with the trauma of possibly being kept there for god knows how long. When Booker and Andy were captured, they were only trapped for a little while before Nile came and rescued everyone. They never had to deal with any of that trauma.
Not only did they suffer the torture themselves, but they had to watch the person they love suffer too. If Booker hadn’t betrayed them, none of the events of the movie would’ve happened. Joe had to watch Nicky not only get tortured, but get shot in the damn head. All of this is because Booker sold them out.
Combine that with the fact that the two of them are clearly very loyal, honourable men, who are undoubtedly devestated that someone they trusted and thought of as their family would sell them out just because HE didn’t want to live anymore? Joe and Nicky are happy to be alive because they have each other, but Booker put that at risk because of his own feelings of grief. Even though I understand Booker wasn’t motivated by any malice and I’m empathetic to his struggles and feelings, it’s understandable why Joe calls him selfish. Joe is willing to live for eternity because he has Nicky (and the whole guard too, of course), and Booker’s actions could have taken that away from him.
Nile forgives him quickly because she’s new and doesn’t fully understand the weight of his actions, meanwhile Andy is more sympathetic because she, too, is a little bit tired of living, yet Joe and Nicky, the ones who want to live, bear the brunt of a lot of the suffering that came along with Booker’s choice.
Now, I do think they will get over it sooner than 100 years, but right now, the betrayal was so raw and the impact of what happened so fresh in their mind, I understand their reasoning.
One of the best things about Joe and Nicky in The Old Guard is their sexuality/relationship is a very important traits of both of their characters, but it’s not their only trait.
So many times when I hear people talk about gay/queer characters in media, I hear, “their sexuality isn’t an important part of their character” or “they just happen to be gay,” and I’ve always thought that was bullshit and a cop-out. Sexuality and romance plays a HUGE part in people’s lives. People spend a lot of their time looking for “the one”, looking for romance, looking for a relationship or sex or both. Think about classical male heroes and how often they bed women (think James Bond, James Kirk in Star Trek, etc.) Wouldn’t you say sexuality is a huge part of their characters? Yet with gay characters it’s said to be “not important.” It’s just a cop-out.
Joe and Nicky’s sexualities are very important because their relationship is so incredibly important to both of them. It’s portrayed to be the reason they’re both still happy to be living while Andy and Booker have grown jaded and suicidal due to loneliness. They are the most important thing in the world to each other. They aren’t “badass but just happen to be gay.” They are badass AND gay.
They’re incredibly competent fighters who can brutalize an entire army but when they go home they flirt, they wink at each other, they snuggle, they kiss, they talk about their love for one another. They’re no less masculine when they’re expressing their love for one another than they are when they’re massacring an army of soldiers.
Yet still, their characters are not reduced to just the token gay guys who are also tough. They have their own distinct personalities. Joe is impassioned, quick to anger, protective, playful, romantic, vengeful, but with a soft heart full of deep love. Nicky is quiet, reserved, compassionate, loving, and sweet, but also calculating and sarcastic and a force to be reckoned with in a fight.
They’re both such distinct, powerful personalities and it’s portrayed through their individual actions as well as through their love for each other. It fills me with so much joy that these characters were allowed to be so unapologetically, textually gay without it being an afterthought and also without it becoming the centerpiece of the story.
And these aren’t all. Visit Tumblr and type in The Old Guard to find whole blogs devoted to the topic, fanart, and various headcanon, and fictions.
I’m feeling a bit of Pop Culture nostalgia this week, so here, have some of the vampire songs that are always on MY playlist!
I was on Tumblr, and I noticed a trend of people recommending vampire songs that 1. I didn’t recognize, and 2. Were all by white people and groups, as if PoC had never had any interest in vampires￼, and never made any songs about them. I really hate lists of music on there anyway. I have pretty wide ranging tastes, but these lists always seem to have the most obscure musical groups these people can find. Why these people can’t ever seem to listen to just regular songs, that maybe more than five people have heard, is a mystery! At any rate, there was one list I found, I listened to a couple of the songs and I think that person just has bad taste in music, because they were fairly bland. I mean if you’re gonna go through the trouble of making music about vampires, the least you can do is be EXTRA, like all the artists on this list.
But I’m often exasperated by the rather “twee” musical tastes of Tumblr patrons, who can be somewhat limited in their musical tastes, and helluva lot younger than me. Vampires are a global mythology, in that nearly every continent has one, so I’m also pretty sure other parts of the world have songs about them, but I’m Black, and American, so this is my focus. Maybe, at some point, I’ll do some research to find songs from other countries.
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus ( The Hunger 1983)
This is the classic Gothic vampire song, used in countless movies, and shows, that feature vampires. The first time I heard it was in the 1988 movie, The Hunger, which starred Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie, as modern day vampires. If you haven’t seen that movie than check it out, as it’s an interesting snapshot of a very specific musical period (Goth) in the early 80s. The music, fashion, cinematography, and acting are all artifacts of that particular time, and the movie was groundbreaking, in that it was a mainstream movie, that featured an openly lesbian relationship, as Deneuve’s character puts the moves on Susan Sarandon.
Remember, that in 1983, this movie was the coolest shit we’d ever seen, because American culture hadn’t yet been saturated with Gothic imagery. In fact, I blame this movie for it!
Love Song For A Vampire – Annie Lennox (Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992)
This is one of my favorite songs, and I believe it was specifically written for the movie, in which it was featured during the end credits. I was a huge Annie Lennox fan in the 80s, otherwise I’d probably have never paid any attention to it. It helps that Annie Lennox always looked suitably vampiric since the beginning of her career, which had been going for ten years strong, by the time she made this song. It fits the film perfectly, in that it has this deep throbbing heartbeat sound, just underneath the listeners perception, the instrumentation, and singing is lushly romantic and overdone, just like the movie, and still gives me chills so many years later.
You really need to hear this with headphones to get the full effect.
Moon Over Bourbon Street – Sting (Interview With The Vampire 1994)
This song was also written in the late 80s by the newly solo lead of the British rock band, The Police. Sting wrote this after reading Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, so I was expecting this song to be in the movie that was made in the 90s, but no luck. It wasn’t in it. But this isn’t my favorite version of this song, I prefer the Wozniak Club version, which I liked to jam to in the car, on my way to work. Of course, this is exactly the type pf song that would be played in the vampire club!
Vampireshavemadeonlyinfrequentappearances in AfricanAmericanfolklore,and,similarly,AfricanAmericanshavebeenlargelyabsentfromvampiremoviesandnovelsthroughthetwentiethcentury.
When people recommend vampire songs, everyone seems to forget that Black artists make songs about vampires, too! I came across quite a few of them when researching this. This was the feature song for the Fright Night remake made a few years ago. The remake was not especially successful, and didn’t feature this song anywhere in it, which may account for why so few people know about it, but this video was, and remains, one of my absolute favorites.
After Dark – Tito and the Tarantulas (From Dusk Til Dawn 1996)
This is the song that plays when Satanica Pandemonium does her dance, for the two brothers, at the Titty Twister bar, featured in the movie. It’s not my favorite, but I like Tito and the Tarantulas other songs, and just want to recognize that Mexican people got vampire songs.
Seduction/Surrender – Grace Jones (Vamp 1987)
For some reason, all vampire movies must have a Club scene. We got vampires walking up in there, vampires owning clubs, dancing in clubs, hunting for a meal in the club, or all of the above. In 1987, Grace Jones owned, danced, and hunted, in the Club featured in this nearly forgotten movie. This song was specifically adapted for her strip scene.
The Hunger opens with a club scene, Interview with a Vampire has a club with actors, From Dusk til Dawn is set in a bar, Near Dark gets a bar scene, so do both Fright Nights, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, most TV shows feature clubs owned by vampires, and yes, the Blade movies have nearly famous club scenes!
Fatal – RZA (Blade 3)
As far as I’m concerned, despite the groundbreaking first film, it’s the second film, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, that’s the best of the Blade movies. This is Blade’s song, from the third, thoroughly awful, film. The song is every bit as badass as he is, and featured in the end credits, and it’s by the f*cking RZA, from Wu Tang! C’mon! How does anybody miss listing this song in any recommendations of vampire songs? On the other hand, the third film sucked, so that might have been the reason people simpy don’t remember that the RZA made a vampire song.
Cry Little Sister – Gerard McMahon (The Lost Boys 1987)
I’m putting this here because this is my favorite song from this movie. If you haven’t heard the soundtrack, it still holds up after some thirty years, and has a lot of great songs, including the title song.
System – Linkin Park (Queen of the Damned 2002)
This is the song from the movie, where Alaska walks up in the club, and literally sets the roof on fire.
Confusion Dance Theme Remix – New Order (Blade 1998)
This is the song from the film’s iconic opening scene, called the Blood Rave, where we’re introduced to the Blade character, and what he does for a living: killing vampires! This is very probably one of the most famous intros in vampire filmdom (is that a word?) The song itself doesn’t actually have anything to do with vampires, but every time I listen to it, this scene is what plays in my head.
Here’s a short list of things I watched on Netflix and other streaming services, mostly at random. I just clicked on or rented stuff that had pretty promo pictures, happened to be a subject I’m interested in, or was recommended to me by some algorithm. Not all of these are TV series, however. A few are movies, but I decided to include them, because watching them on a streaming service was really the only way I was ever going to watch them.
These movies are based on the Samurai X manga. I don’t know if this is like the anime, because I have never watched that, and have only a passing familiarity with the Manga, which I read many years ago, but remember liking. These movies (there are three of them so far, with more to come later this year), heavily remind me of Blade of the Immortal, which was brutal, bloody, fun, only these have a slightly, “relatively”, more positive message, and a sense of humor. Well, I laughed at it, but y’all know I’m weird.
In the first movie, the lead character, named Kenshin, is a former assassin, who decided to give up killing, and wander the countryside helping people. This appears to be a very popular theme, because its basically the same plot of Blade of the Immortal, and a bunch of other samurai movies. A young woman who runs a martial arts school of some kind, stumbles across the protagonist, and he decides to help her with a problem she’s having with a rival school, that wants to take over hers.
A plot by some minor government official to take over the government in some drug related scheme, and a couple of Kenshin’s old enemies coming back to get revenge, give plenty of opportunities for fight scenes ,which are also interesting, because although Kenshin has decided to give up killing, he still carries a sword, but its a a reverse katana, with the killing edge on the wrong side. He can swing it expertly, but it takes a conscious effort to use it to kill, which he has promised his love interest he would never do again, and opens up some interesting dialogues about pacifism, and to what purpose violence is used.
But mostly, its just a lot of really exhilarating sword fights. I loved watching the fight scenes, especially Kenshin’s fighting style, which is fast, and inventive. Because he’s not actually trying to kill many of his opponents, but they have no problem taking his life, the fights never get boring, and if that’s what you’re looking for in a martial arts film, then check out the entire trilogy.
At least two of these movies are available on YouTube, and there wasn’t any English translation for the one I watched. So not having it be dubbed or subbed, made me deeply curious about the conversations the characters are having with each other, during the fight scenes, where they often pause in their sword swinging, to exchange words. When I finally got to see the translated versions, it turned out that those conversations were completely unimportant, and that most of the deeper philosophical discussions, take place during character monologues.
Attack on Titan
Wow! These movies were awesome, emotionally draining, and very energetic. There are few slow moments in them, and not much of either movie’s time is wasted.
Once again, I’ve only read a couple of the books, one of which was an anthology. I’ve never watched any of the anime, and I have only a passing idea what all this is about, from watching some of the most terrifying trailers I’ve ever seen, and people talking about it on Tumblr. I don’t know how close the plot of this movie, and its direct sequel, is to the original manga. The basic plotline is the same though.
Humanity lives in walled cities, to protect themselves from massive, (once human), beings, that have a nasty habit of eating the smaller versions. The movie is pretty graphic about this. There’s a lot of body horror, as people are grabbed, eaten, squeezed, pulled apart, stepped on, and otherwise massacred, by these giant gluttonous monsters. There’s also a certain amount of body horror with the monsters too. They are humanoid creatures with disfigured faces, and bodies, who are always eagerly smiling.
It’s interesting that one of the tropes of Japanese Horror films is the grinning monster, with probably the only American equivalent to this being evil clowns, and Japan does not have that trope. I personally find grinning, (non-human), monsters pretty horrible too, but I don’t see as much of that in American horror, but then Americans tend to be much more emotionally open in public, too. I suppose, in a society where privacy, reserve, (and melancholy), is encouraged, someone walking around with a massive cheerful grin would immediately mark themselves as other than normal, possibly even monstrous, and certainly untrustworthy. Its not that Japanese people can’t be zany, or don’t have emotions, its just that in the interest of personal privacy, they try to keep it themselves, a close circle of friends, or on TV shows.
There’s also a group of soldiers, and volunteers who create a new method for killing the Titans, that requires them to engage in a little too up close and personal manner, as the Titans are nearly impossible to kill, in any normal fashion. There is a lot of dismemberment, and eating, of the brave soldiers. We follow their adventures, and interactions, although I did find myself not caring too deeply about them, because I don’t feel that the focus here was on character development. It’s not that I didn’t feel anything for the characters, so much as their relationships with each other were sort of underwhelmng, next to the horror of what was happening to them. I was also irritated with them, as there are a lot of images of them just standing about and staring, as the Titans do stuff. I kept yelling at my TV because the humans simply were not taking adequate precautions to save their own lives, like dodging, or running away. On the other hand, I do live in Tornado Alley, so I’m guessing that watching giant things move slowly across a landscape, is something that is universally hypnotic.
In the first movie, the humans are living peacefully, the idea of the Titans is long ago and far away, until a brand new Titan shows up, that is significantly larger and stronger than any Titan seen before it. It turns out that the Titans do have some residual intelligence, as they have deployed this new guy to break down the walls, so they can just walk in and feast, and the humans are just not ready for any of it. In the second film, the people rally, and with the help of a half human/half Titan, and even a little bit of martial arts, (because that is a requirement for all Asian action movies), they manage to defeat them, or at least make them go back wherever they came from.
There’s a lot of nudity, because naturally the Titans don’t wear clothes, and lots of bloody and disgusting things happen to the human body, so be warned. You kind of have to be in a certain mood to watch it.
What I was expecting when I saw the trailer for this was a wacky, Japanese romp with superpowers,. To be fair, the trailer I saw didn’t have captions, and I might not have been paying as close attention as I should have been, but the trailer does mostly focus on all the action scenes. This movie is not a comedy. While its message was a bit heavy handed, and there were definitely some tears, I actually did enjoy this. It wasn’t what I expected, but I’ve learned, over the years, not to be angry at getting the unexpected in a story. I only get angry when I get LESS than what I expect, and I got a lovely and moving story of family dynamics, reparation of father /daughter relationships, and loneliness. Keep in mind that I hadn’t even read any of the Manga, if such exists, let alone seen any anime. I walked into this movie completely blind, except for having watched the trailer.
Inuyashiki is the story of an old man, (the title character), who is having a very bad day. He is a deeply lonely, and isolated man, who, one day, finds out that he is in the end stages of cancer, gets bullied at work, and then loses his job. He is emotionally distant from his wife, son, and daughter, and finds it impossible to tell them not just about his impending death, but his real feelings for them. His daughter is especially angry, because he has never shown her how much he cares about them, although this is stated as a lack of protection, since he kept telling them that the reason he worked so hard, and was never home, was to protect their future. I was starting to get really annoyed with how much of an asshole she was, until I realized there was a point to it.
Inuyashiki goes to the park one night, gets kidnapped by aliens, and in their efforts to cure him, (at least that’s what I think they may have been doing, because its never stated in the movie why the aliens did this), they turn him into a machine/cyborg, who is able to manifest machine parts, weapons, and even fly, possibly done through nanites. The very first thing he does with his powers, is heal a little boy, who is dying of cancer, at his hospital. This outlines the type of man he is, that the first thing he does after getting superpowers, is to save another life. These superpowers are yet another thing he cannot tell his family, but he does confide in one of his daughter’s classmates, who coaches him in how to use his new superpowers.
At the same time, another student, the close friend of Inuyashiki’s coach, whose name is Shishigami, is also kidnapped at the park, and turned into a robot of some kind. Both he and Inuyashiki were both in the same place emotionally. They were alone and depressed, and dealing with highly volatile issues. In Shishigami’s case, it is school bullying, and the death of his mother, from cancer. Shishigami does share knowledge of his new abilities with his best friend, but it says a lot about his character that he demonstrates his abilities by killing an innocent creature. Shishigami of course meant to go on as he started. he becomes first a murderer, and then a mass killer, with his superpowers allowing him to kill people through their phones and other video screens.
We have these two men, both of them undergoing uniquely personal tragedies, but their reactions are completely different. Inuyahsiki dedicates himself to saving lives, and Shishigami decides to do the opposite. Inuyahshiki is an old man, at the end of his life, so finds life more precious than Shishigami, who is young and angry at having been mistreated by his classmates, and can only think of revenge. Shishigami is unable to think of life as precious, viewing people as disposable, and this is how he treats most of his victims. The first time he kills people, its just a random family whose home he invaded. He is brutal, without mercy, and unnecessarily cruel. When he finds out his mother has cancer, he saves her life, but in his rage at the unfairness of it, he decides to kill more people. For Inuyashiki, all life is beautiful however, and he works hard not to kill Shishigami, understanding his pain, and viewing even his cruel existence as precious, and salvageable.
Needless to say, the two of them are on a collision course ,as Inuyashiki sets out to stop Shishigami from killing people, and the last third of the movie is taken up with their furious, and energetic, battling through the skies of the city of Tokyo, which is what you see in the trailer. Ultimately. during all this fighting, Inuyahsiki’s daughter’s life ends up in danger, and he gets plenty of opportunities to protect her from his nemesis. This results in her discovering her father’s superpowers, of course, and a reconciliation between them, as they both share this new thing that mom doesn’t know about.
I found the whole thing very touching, even if it was, as I said, a little heavy handed in its messaging. One of the interesting things about a lot of Japanese genre movies is that characters rarely exchange important information with each other. The dialogue between characters is often kept very simple and unremarkable, while most of the important things get said in monologues, with characters appearing to just talk to themselves in the middle of some important event. That’s something that, once you notice it, takes a little getting used to, but over all, I liked the movie, its message, and it was worth the time I spent watching it.
Ever since Barney Miller, I’ve had this thing about cop comedies, and I don’t know what that’s about. I won’t watch dramatic cop shows, and generally spurn mystery thriller cop shows, unless Black actors are the stars. From shows like Barney Miller, Reno 911, Brooklyn 99, and Monk, to movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Hot Fuzz, and Mall Cop, to The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, I’m noticing a trend. I’m attracted to laughing at, and with, cops. So Wellington Paranormal is right up my alley ,as it contains three of my favorite topics, the paranormal, and cops who are deeply funny.
Wellington Paranormal is a loose spinoff of the movie What We Do In The Shadows, about the adventures of four vampires living as flatmates in New Zealand. Its also the second spinoff from the movie, as the first one, a series with the same name, and basic setup, is set in America. In the movie, there’s a scene where the police get called to the vampire’s house, because the neighbors were concerned, when the vampires were engaging in some general domestic violence.
Wackily, this show is about the two cops who get called to the house, Officers Minoghe, and O’Leary (their actual real life names). If you have seen the movie, (and if you haven’t, you need to, even if you never watch either of the spinoffs), then the blithe obviousness of the two cops is the basic attitude of the show, as the two of them get conscripted by their boss, (Sgt. Maaka Pohatu), to deal with paranormal events and situations in the city of Wellington.
In the first season, they deal with such silliness as a body swapping demon (shoutout to The Exorcist), zombies, and werewolves, while giving each one of these issues about the same amount of portentous gravity, which means none at all. O’Leary and Minogue are the anti-Scully and Mulder of the detection world, and that is never not funny to me. The two of them find a way to make even the wildest, most batshit of circumstances, appear utterly mundane, which is where most of the humor comes from, but at least 20% of the humor comes from their interactions with each other, and their boss, who takes things way too seriously.
In the second season, they tackle a town full of alien clones of themselves, in a direct callback to The X-Files, a possessed car, a group of high school witches, in a shoutout to the Midwich Cuckoos, and some possessed cell phones. So yeah, the creator’s reference game is on point, and another nice gesture is that their boss gets a lot more airtime in the series. The closest comparison for some people will probably be Brooklyn 99, but its really not much like that. Its more of an X-Files parody, so if you liked that show, and would like to see it treated it with the level of silliness it deserved, then you will probably have to pirate it, as its not available in the US.