Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Deadpool – 50 Shades of Utter Awesomeness!!!

After my last angry movie rant, involving Star Wars: TheForce Awakens, I thought I would take a second chance and see if Hollywood could redeem itself, so I load up the family in the old SUV and we headed off to see the new Ryan Reynolds movie, Deadpool.

20th Century Fox
Anyone know where Francis is?
For those of you who may not be familiar with the protagonist, Deadpool, he is a fictional anti-hero who first appeared in comic books published by Marvel. Originally, the character was depicted as a super-villain in ‘The New Mutants’ (Issue #98) and later in issues of ‘X-Force’, but he has since evolved into the current role. 

Deadpool is a disfigured, and mentally unstable, mercenary with the super-human ability of accelerated healing and physical prowess. He is known as the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ because of his highly talkative nature.

Before I get into it, I’d like to send out a big Fuck You to the 20th Century Fox execs who thought it was a great idea to slash seven million dollars from the budget, effectively removing nine pages of glorious Deadpool action from the movie.  There’s a special place in Hell awaiting you.

That being said, if you are looking for a completely irreverent, action packed movie starring the anti-hero of all anti-hero’s then brothers and sisters do I have a movie for you. The acerbic wit of Deadpool was enough to make this old grizzled New Yorker feel downright homesick.

I admit that I was a bit apprehensive. Fans of the comic book character know that he frequently breaks the fourth-wall, interacting directly with the audience, and I wasn’t sure how that was going to come off on the big screen.

For the record: Reynolds Nailed It!

I know a lot of you folks might have seen his original appearance in the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Don’t worry, despite the suck factor of that one, this incarnation of Deadpool is brilliant. Don’t believe me? It brought in over $150 million in box office sales over the four day opening weekend, utterly brutalizing the previous records in typical Deadpool fashion.
20th Century Fox
No..... It's not a ROM-COM

Now, just so you know, this is not a family movie……  Don’t be confused by the graphic showing Deadpool with his hands in the shape of a heart. This is a hard ‘R’ movie. A very hard ‘R’ movie. I don’t want anyone coming back leaving comments that they thought this was a Rom-Com.

It’s not……

It is filled with unrelenting sophomoric humor that only seems to further endear the character to the audience. Honestly, sometimes don’t we just need a kick-ass anti-hero?  Apparently the ass-hats in Hollywood didn’t think so. In fact, Deadpool is the box off smash that almost never was.

The fight to get Deadpool on the big screen has been going on for years.  It seemed as if this film had to get pushed all the way up the hill. Back in 2010 an early version of the script had been leaked on-line. For a typical movie that would have been a disaster, but the exact opposite happened. Fans got behind it and added their voice, calling for the film to be made. A couple of years later some test footage of the freeway fight scene was also leaked and fans went nuts. This proved to be the push needed and the project was finally green-lighted.

Now I am sitting, impatiently waiting, and wondering when the sequel will come out…….. Note to movie execs, mention J.J. Abrams name and you’ll end up a character in my books. Trust me when I say that it will not end well for you!

Moving forward the real issue will be how to add Deadpool into the X-Men world. Marvel’s cinematic universe has become a huge juggernaut and one that doesn’t seem quite sure just how to open up for the real Deadpool. To be fair, their universe seems much darker and serious, whereas Deadpool would make a joke out of a massive heart attack.   The movie does take a swipe at the conundrum when Deadpool says to Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead: “Wow, this is such a big house [referring to Xavier’s school], but I only ever see the two of you here. It's like the studio didn't have enough money for any more X-Men....”

20th Century Fox
This is how you do Bad-Ass
The cast is superb. Reynolds was born to play Deadpool and, fortunately for him, he stole the Deadpool suit after production ended so they have to bring him back. Morena Baccarin was incredible as Vanessa. Okay, she is really hot and appears naked and spoke some words. Actually I’m really hoping that the sequel expands her role to include Copy Cat, but time will tell. Ed Skrein as Ajax was intense and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead was perfect. At least we didn’t have to contend with some pretentious, emo, teenage pain-in-the-ass, ala Kylo Ren. The movie also stars MMA fighter, Gina Carano, as Angel Dust. She’ll kick your ass, but what a way to go.

If you’re looking for an action packed movie that will also make you laugh your ass off, then you need to check out Deadpool. You’ll probably end up going back to see it a 2nd time, I know I am, so that you can see and hear all the things you missed the first time, while you were wiping tears from your eyes. For hardcore movie geeks there are a ton of Easter Eggs in this movie. 

Well, I’d like to say more, but you really need to go see it for yourself. So, in the immortal words of Deadpool: It’s time to make the chimi-fucking-changas

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoilers and one pretty pissed off rant)

Ok, I tacked that ‘Spoiler’ thing on top because you might be one of the last few remaining holdouts, like I was, who hadn’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet. If you haven’t, then close the page, because I’m going to discuss it now, and you are going to be REALLY pissed if you keep reading, because it will spoil the experience.

Okay, you have been properly warned.

I held out going, because I’m old and grizzled now, sort of like Luke, but with less hair, and I didn’t want to have to fight with the young kids over good seats. As reality would have it, I should have waited another month. Seats were still limited and I had to watch the movie with my neck craned, staring up at the screen. I’ll probably go again in another month when I can sit back and enjoy the cinematography better, instead of feeling like I am sitting on the nose-cone of an X-wing traveling through space.

So, what did I think of the movie? Let me start by getting this off my chest right away: Fuck you very much, Disney and a slightly less, but still a very much fuck you, J.J. Abrams.  I’m glad you guys trashed the entire Expanded Universe so you could ‘phone in’ what you want us to accept as a good story, but it didn’t work. You suck, strong message follows.

That being said, I liked it….. sort of, kinda, maybe….. Well fuck, it was still better than The Phantom Menace which brought us that loathsome creature, Jar Jar Binks. Damn, now I have to go rinse my mouth out, with whiskey, to make the painful memories go away again.

It’s not that TFA is a bad film; it’s just that it’s an old film pretending to be new.

Here, let me give you a hint:

  • A droid with valuable information finds itself stranded on a desert planet.
  • A darkly clad, masked villain, strong in the force, shows up a short time later looking for the droid.
  • Stormtroopers arrive shortly thereafter and begin blasting the locals on desert planet.
  • The masked villain interrogates (a.k.a. tortures) our hero looking for the information.
  • Our force sensitive hero (or in this case heroine), who is an awesome pilot, lives a lonely existence on this desert planet and dreams of better things.
  • There’s a big, planet destroying, space platform, run by a cruel and high ranking military commander.
  • The really big boss, who controls our masked villain, appears via hologram.
  • Han and Chewie are still being hunted down by crime figures, intent on killing them, for screwing them over.
  • Our hero’s end up in a cantina looking for transport to the rebels.
  • One of our heroes turns his back on the others, only to return to help them.
  • The rebel base is situated in a lush tropical forest.
  • A good guy is cut down by someone previously close to him who turned to the dark side.
  • One of our heroes watches helplessly, from afar, as this person is murdered, and then they flee the planet killer in the Millennium Falcon.
  • The big planet killer is attacked, with only moments to spare, by the rebels and the entire rebel attack is overseen by Princess (now General) Leia in a control room.
  • X-Wings once again rush headlong, through another trench, being fired on by ground based weapons and TIE fighters, toward the awaiting target.
  • Despite the rebels miraculously blowing up the station, our masked villain escapes,…..

Yep, that about sums it up………………… The Force Awakens, A New Hope (Part Deux)

Really, J.J.? That was the best you could fucking come up with?

There are like 70 friggen’ books (not counting comics) that occur AFTER Return of the Jedi and the best you could give us was  ANH 2.0?

A major FUCK YOU, Disney…….. And a minor Fuck You, J.J. Abrams for being that little shit-tard Mouse’s minion…….

Wow, that was actually quite cathartic………

Seriously, do you guys even know how to advance a plot? What happened to meaningful dialogue?

Aside from Obi-Wan Kenobi lying his ass off in ANH, about who Luke’s father was, I came out of the theater knowing who everyone was and what was happening. The same goes with the other movies. TFA seems to want to throw some vague semblance of a ‘story’ into a battle movie.  I get the whole J.J. Action film, but seriously this was an important film and you fucked it up!!

Where was the dialogue about the First Order? Why don’t we know more about the Knights of Ren? Where was the heart-to-heart between Han and Leia discussing in-depth what happened to Ben. Why is the ‘Resistance’ operating away from the Republic and why the hell don’t they have ANY capital ships?  And why the hell doesn’t ‘General’ Hux look old enough to even shave?

I admit that I was willing to suspend all of that, right until THAT scene………….. Yes, you know what I am talking about….. They killed Han Solo !!!

Lucas Arts
Now, I know what some of you might say, Harrison Ford had wanted to kill the character off at the end of Return of the Jedi. Yeah, and you know what? Fuck you too, Ford. You’re an ass. You’re an actor, so just friggen’ act and stop trying to ditch the role that made you who you are.

Reminds me of that pedantic little shit, Daniel Craig, who forces himself to play James Bond and then makes disparaging comments about the character. You’re an ass too. What’s next, you gonna give me political advice as well?

Which leads me to another point, that whole ‘murder’ scene was just painful to watch. If that was your pinnacle moment, like the death of Ben Kenobi in ANH, and you are killing off one of the MAIN characters, you’d better be able to reach down deep into that acting pool and pull off a performance worthy of a MF’ing Academy Award…… 

We fans deserve that much at least.  

Han Solo was an iconic figure, someone who brought a grey into the world of black and white. He was an immoral hero who somehow managed, for the most part, to keep himself on the righteous side of hell. Surely the rough as nails smuggler, with roguish grin and itchy trigger finger would be able to deliver a performance worthy of the moment.

I watched that scene, witnessing the murder of my childhood hero, and after the shock subsided I thought….. Meh

But that seemed to be a reoccurring theme in this movie. Consider the whole Han / Leia romance for a moment. Think of The Empire Strikes Back, that first hot steamy kiss on the Falcon. The whole dramatic “I love you,…” “I know…” moment in Cloud City.

So what do we get in TFA? Nothing ……. No tension, no passion, no fierceness. Han Solo and Leia were the two bad-asses and now we have…….. Meh

No wonder their friggen’ kid became a little whiney-ass, emo bitch.  I’d have tried to off them as well. For the record, I actually do like Adam Driver; I just think they beat the whiney-ass horse to death with Anakin in the prequels. There was no reason to resurrect that shit again. You can pull off torn and emotionally frustrated without sounding like a prissy, spoiled brat.

I grew up on Star Wars and I sat there thinking that something had just gone horribly wrong.

RKO Keiths in a state of disrepair, like TFA
I still recall seeing it for the first time in the summer of 1977 at the RKO Keith’s on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, New York. I walked out of that theater in a state of utter amazement and never looked back.

A lot of us didn’t associate with Luke, some of us needed that anti-hero and I found it in Solo.  
After Return of the Jedi, a lot of us immersed ourselves in the world beyond the films, devouring everything we could find on the continuing saga. It was this media that soon turned into the Expanded Universe, a place Disney decided was not worth the time and investment to consider, along with the storyline that George Lucas’ had envisioned beyond ROTJ, and trashed it. And therein lies the problem.

To the average movie-goer, TFA is an awesome movie, but to those of us who were immersed in the Star Wars’ world, it falls flat for any number of reasons, but there are a few that stand apart for me.

It would have been nice if someone sat down with Abrams and advised him of the relationship between Han and Chewie.

Chewie owed Han a life-debt, that’s a fact. He actually saved Chewie’s life twice. To a wookie, that is a serious matter. When Kylo killed Han there is no way you can tell me that Chewbacca would not have gone bat-shit crazy. We saw this in TESB, when they were putting Han in carbonite. In fact the only reason he stopped was because Han had ordered him to, basically extending the ‘debt’ to Leia. And yes, I will agree that he would have been torn, since Kylo Ren is Ben Solo and Chewie would have been his ad-hoc Uncle, and I think that is the reason Chewie shot him low, instead of putting a blaster bolt through his head. That being said, those stormtroopers would have been toast and that in-itself would have made that scene great.

Consider for a moment a wookie so enraged that he began ripping limbs off stormtroopers as he battled his way forward. That would have been a pinnacle moment. Instead we got a lackluster, I hate you daddy-issues patricide as Han’s body plunged lethargically from the catwalk, just as I hope Ford’s career does now.

Speaking of the enraged wookie, did anyone also tell JJ about a wookie’s strength? Well, apparently not…… again! Consider for a moment something so minute that it almost gets passed over: Chewie’s bowcaster.  You see, bowcaster’s are much more powerful than standard blaster rifles and few humans are capable of toting one around, let alone being able to hold one steady enough to take a shot. A fact apparently lost on the writers, as Han seems to enjoy shooting the shit out of it. 

It is those kinds of things that give Star Wars’ fans migraine headaches.

And why, for the love of Pete, did they have to go and change Han and Leia’s son, Anakin Solo, to Ben (Call me Kylo, damn-it) Solo?.... More on this to come, folks.  And while we are at it, what happened to the twins, Jacen and Jaina?

And can someone please explain to me Captain Phasma? Seriously, does any fan, worth their salt, believe that Captain Phasma would have just tossed her hands up in the air and happily lowered the shields?

Are you fucking kidding me?

This is the commander of ALL First Order stormtroopers. A bad-assed, absolutely loyal, veteran whose position is actually on the same level as Kylo Ren and General Hux, but she figured, fuck-it, they have blasters…….. Really?

Phasma would have taken one to the head before she ever lowered those shields.

Oh wait, they had to wiggle in another tired cliché joke about tossing her into the trash compactor….. Ha, ha…. No, Fuck you, J.J. It was a damn disgrace to demean the character like that.

Okay, enough……. I could go on, but blood is beginning to seep from my eyes like that bat-shit crazy fucker in Casino Royale.

Lucas Arts
So, now to the big question on everyone’s mind: Who is that badass Rey?

Seriously? You don’t know?

Hey, I hear there is a new Star Trek movie coming out, go get ready…….

For the rest of you, let me try and piece this together.

Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter.

Didn’t know he had a kid, yeah, he had a son, BEN, but we already know they fucked that up by naming EMO-boy Ben. So why not really screw things up (keep those fans guessing) and make her a girl…….

Luke hooked up with Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, who was sent to kill him. Romance ensued and she turned from the dark side and joined Luke, becoming a Jedi Master herself. They had one child, Ben.

I think we will find out that Rey was sent away to protect her until……. Sound familiar? Here is why:

  • She is obviously force sensitive, hell it isn’t even sensitive, it is strong. Why not, her parents were both Jedi Knights.
  • She has inherent amazing piloting skills, ala Luke Skywalker.
  • While she is at Maz Kanata’s, she is called by the sound of a baby crying. When she opens the box it is a lightsaber,…. Not any lightsaber, but Luke’s. She was specifically drawn to it. So why did Maz have it?
  • Maz Kanata says to Rey: "I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes... I know your eyes!"
  • Rey has a vision of Luke and R2-D2.
  • R2, who has been powered-down since Luke left, suddenly activates when Rey arrives at the base. Why? BB-8 was already there, so something else caused him to activate. He was Luke’s droid, so something familiar had to have happened to power him back up.
  • Rey even struggles with the dark side, just as Anakin and Luke did.

Also, why would Leia, send a complete ‘unknown’ to find Luke if she didn’t already know who she was?

There is another possibility that Rey is actually Kylo Ren’s sister, but I still question that. There would be WAY too much ‘Solo’ story to be altered for that to be true. In order for this to be true, it would have to be a re-imagining of the Solo twins, Jacen and Jaina.

The death of his younger brother, Anakin Solo, was partially responsible for Jacen Solo turning to the dark side and becoming  Darth Cadeus. He then killed Ben Skywalker’s mother, Mara Jade. Jaina Solo became a Jedi Master and ultimately killed her twin brother.  If Kylo / Ben is the re-imagined Jacen, then it is possible that Rey is the re-imagined Jaina.

But what about Han and Leia? Surely they would ‘know’ their daughter. As evidenced of the pain they have for what has happened to Ben, they surely are concerned parents. Neither shows any particular maternal / paternal connection.

I have also heard one theory that she is Obi-Wan’s granddaughter……. I cannot wrap my head around that. 

However, all that being said, ultimately, Star Wars is a story about the Skywalker’s, so it makes perfect sense that Rey would be the last in the line: Anakin (Ep 1-3), Luke (Ep 4-6) and Rey (Ep 7-9). Otherwise the end becomes the Solo / Skywalker or the Solo / Kenobi finale and I just can’t envision that leap.

Oh, just one final thought.

In the April 2015 TFA 2nd trailer Mark Hamill did a voice over: "The Force is strong in my family. My father has it, I have it, my sister has it. You have that power, too."

I rest my case.

Now I'm going back to writing my books. At least I know how to develop a continuing plot.

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