WandaVision Elevates the Game of Marvel

Disney + has the gloves off and they are kicking ass and taking names. It doesn’t hurt that they have two of the biggest movie franchises in the universe under their control. After watching two seasons of the Mandalorian and raving about that, I moved on to the next Disney + special series; Wandavision.

There will be no spoilers here so if you have not seen it yet, worry not, but right after reading this you certainly should light up your TV and start.

This is a take on the superhero genre the likes of which I have never seen before. I believe Disney – Marvel are breaking new ground. That is saying something, since Hollywood has been regurgitating old material for the last few decades and Marvel has had one hell of a great run these last 15 years or so.

Wandavision starts off a little weird, in that you are not sure what the hell is happening, why it is happening, or how it is happening. But it is happening, and it is so well done and well written, that you will likely get hooked on the story arc like many did when ABC launched the series “Lost.”

This series was a HUGE gamble for Disney because it cost $225 million to produce and that equates to the most expensive per episode television series ever made. They deliver the goods and you may feel compelled to tip them. This is great stuff. Wandavision will have your head twisted in a pretzel gnawing at the plot.

The show opens within the setting of a 1950s sitcom and will seemingly progress through the decades with twists and turns in the development of the story. Again I am remaining spoiler free here, but Disney gives us some genuine entertainment value even for those who are not keen on the actual superhero genre. This is not the typical formula as it blends a little conceptuality with movies like ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Pleasantville’. The show is not those plots per se but have some of the theme elements that give this show a real dynamic angle. This show is a good mix of Marvel action, Disney fun, and some cerebral conditioning.

As has been true throughout Marvel’s amazing run that started with Ironman in 2008, this show ends with lead ins to the potential future movies and shows that might spin off the events of these episodes.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are next up.

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The Snyder Cut

Well the so called ‘Snyder Cut’ has been released on HBO Max and Zach Snyder finally deliver’s his private take on the Justice League. Officially the film is called, “Zach Snyder’s Justice League.” This was not your typical directors cut my friends. This was literally twice as long as the theatrical release. So how was it? Take a look at the Super Hero leader board.

This film shows us quite clearly that the Justice League story really needed to be told in two movies, like Marvel did with Infinity War and End Game. Zach Snyder decided to give us a little classic 1930s action with a movie that clearly could use an intermission, especially for those sucking down the 32oz beverage. This movie eclipses the run time of the legendary “Gone With the Wind” by a couple of minutes.

I am surprised at how many comments are out there about the run time, as if it is a big deal. Marvel gave us nearly SIX effing hours of screen time to tell the final tale of the Avengers. Yes it was that long. 160 minutes for Infinity War and 181 minutes for End Game. I’ll help you with the math, That’s 5 hours and 41 minutes for the two.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League is NOT too long and in fact aside from natural breaks for the restroom, the movie never overstayed its welcome. This is what Justice League should have been in 2017, either a two film split or better yet this four hour masterpiece.

Justice League in 2017 gave us a bunch of underdeveloped characters. Wonder Woman at least had her origin film done a few months earlier, but Aquaman’s film had yet to be produced, there was no Flash back story film, and Cyborg in the original Justice league was just dumped in with no development at all. It was a hot mess of cutting room floor mistakes and a lack of post production vision by Joss Whedon who came in after Zach Snyder stepped down to tend to the loss of his daughter Autumn.

This is hands down the best multi-hero character collaboration film DC has ever done. Zach gives us the film in full IMAX format which is not a wide screen format. The film is presented in a form factor that is reminiscent of Pre-HD television. That is fine by me but of course my 65 inch Sony 4k TV had to yield 40% of its screen area to those dreaded letterbox voids.

Zach Snyder tells the whole story here. We get what feels like a rewrite of the Batman that was really poorly written in the original. Of course it is just editing, but it is really good editing, because I felt a difference in Bruce Wayne’s disposition, for the better. In this we get that forceful leader of the Justice League we all know he is. We get a great back story and development of not only Cyborg, but Victor Stone and his father. We don’t get the full development treatment for Barry Allen, but it is much more than we got in 2017. This film takes the time to tie up all the sub plot elements into a cohesive final showdown. 

Like the original, his film doesn’t give us too many light hearted moments. It is still a dark and dreary movie. Barry Allen provides most of the comic relief in this movie just as he did in the first go round, but since we get more of Barry this time, we get a little more funny moments as well. 

I still think Ben Affleck pulls off the older batman really well, can’t seem to get why there are Affleck as the Bat haters out there. Henry Cavil is better as Superman as well. Much of the scenes of course are the same or similar to the original, but clearly Snyder did a better job in post production than did Joss Whedon, because Cavill is definitely better this go round. Wonder Woman well what can I say, It’s no secret, I’m in love with Wonder Woman, so she was perfect… again. I also feel like Jason Momoa as the Aqua-man in this new cut was even better than last time. This movie delivers a whole lot of epic super hero scenes, and takes the time to give us several spectacular entrances with capes and hair blowing in the breeze of badassery. These are the little things that were left on the cutting room floor last time but give you some super hero sizzle in this one. 

Zach Snyder: you sir, delivered the goods, Bravo.

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Tom Brady: He just won’t go away. Kind of like my grudges.

I have not wrote about football in quite awhile, but Tom Brady is about to start in his 14th conference championship game. Only four NFL franchises have been to more Conference Championship games than Tom Brady, please note I wrote “franchises”.  There are only four NFL franchises that have more playoff wins than Tom Brady. The Patriots have 37, The  Cowboys have 35, The Steelers have 35, The Packers which is a 100 year old franchise, have 34, and Tom Brady an individual player has 32. The next best player behind him? Joe Montana with 16 postseason victories.

Anyone who knows me, knows I share no love for Tom Brady. I am and have always been, a sports grudge keeper. I do not believe in holding grudges in general… except in SPORTS 😉 I have been known to hold these grudges for years, even decades. These grudges against players and or teams date back to my middle school days. When I begrudged the Broncos for stealing a conference Championship victory from the Raiders with the help of the officials in 1977. This keeping the Raiders from a repeat trip to the Super Bowl. I had to root for Dallas in that Super Bowl, yech! I didn’t actually hate the Cowboys at that point in my life, that would come a year later. And Brady, a man not even born yet when I first began my NFL grudges, would find himself in my crosshairs one day.

The longest grudge I hold is now well over 40 years. To this very day I hold a grudge against the Dallas Cowboys. This grudge is not due to any one game, any one player, or coach. No I hold a grudge against the Cowboys because in 1978 they produced a highlight film in which they presented themselves as “America’s Team.” That single act of pomposity alone wasn’t really what got under my skin, in fact I don’t think I ever saw the film. It was the fact that the sports media and eventually the mainstream media perpetuated the name giving it a semblance of truth. The Dallas Cowboys were a great team in the 1970s, but they were not America’s team, they were not my team, for nearly every one outside of Texas, they were the other team. Every time I heard them presented as “America’s Team” I wanted to throw my shoe through TV screen. And I still do 42 years later.

What does all of this really have to do with Brady and the Patriots? Well context is important so read on. Back in 1997 John Elway finally found himself on a Broncos team that had some depth to the roster and some weapons on offense. As a life long Raiders fan, the Broncos don’t garner my affection. But in January of 1998 John Elway and the Denver Broncos found themselves in another Super Bowl. This would be John’s 4th trip to the big game following three losing efforts years earlier against the Giants, Redskins, and 49ers. I held onto to that grudge from the conclusion of the AFC Championship game in January of 1978 for a full two decades. I’d like to think my grudge played a role in keeping the Lombardi trophy out of Denver, but I don’t think I’m quite that powerful 😉 That did not stop me from publicly lifting the grudge in an article published right here in the old paper version of this blog. On Monday, January 19th, 1998 I wrote an article titled: “After 2 Decades, I Finally Forgive.” I go on to recount the events of that fateful day in 1978 and discuss why a lifelong Raiders fan would forgive the Broncos. Well in short, the Broncos are still a hated rival, but the sports media seem to feel quarterbacks need to win Super Bowls as a prerequisite for being among the best to play. I think this is a bullshit premise on it’s face. Fran Tarkenton never won a Super Bowl, neither did Dan Marino. Both of those guys are still among the best to ever play the game, frankly both of them were better than four time Super Bowl Champ, Terry Bradshaw. I did not want a QB that had dealt so much devastation to my Raiders to go down as a “pretty good QB” I wanted him to be remembered as a guy that won games, was pretty clutch, and could throw a football through a brick wall. That way I could feel a little better about all of Elway’s wins against my beloved team. Now with Rod Sager’s grudge released, Elway went on to win back to back Super Bowls, punching his ticket to a first ballot entry to Canton in 2004. Gee, maybe I am that powerful 😉

So now we are getting to the Brady part of this tale. There are two reasons I hold a grudge against Tom Brady. First is “The Tuck” one of many legendary plays involving the Raiders over the decades. This time the play went against Oakland and just about everyone in the football universe knows the Raiders were royally screwed by the officials on that play. As it ended up: instead of a game ending fumble it was an opportunity for Brady and company to steal a win in the snow. Those Raiders almost certainly would have won the Super Bowl; that team was stacked! Tom’s solid play in relief of injured Drew Bledsoe, led coach Belichick to replace Bledsoe as the permanent starter. Bledsoe was one of my favorite players. Now that’s two reasons to hate on Brady! As the years went on and Brady continued to pour on victories and championships I started to hate more on Belichick especially with the scandals of spying on the Jets and deflate-gate. The Patriots quickly replaced the Cowboys as my most hated franchise. Well clearly my grudges are not that powerful anymore, because Brady has six Super Bowl rings. That guy is on his way to needing Super Bowl thumb rings.

This weekend Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that went 7-9 last year with solid QB Jameis Winston, to the NFC Championship game against the Packers at Lambeau and Aaron Rodgers at QB. I like Rodgers he is one of my favorite players, but deep down, I am rooting for Tom Brady. How is this even a thing? ‘Tuck’it Tommy B’ can’t get no love from me! It’s a little like what happened with Elway. Now you might be thinking, Brady has the rings, he doesn’t need any more, right? Well, yes… sort of.

Brady is already being crowned by the sports media as the G.O.A.T. which as you probably know in our acronym heavy world, means: greatest of all time. I don’t think so, not yet. If I have to listen to the Brady sycophants chanting: GOAT, GOAT, GOAT, for the rest of my effing life, I’d like to at least believe it… a little.

Look at this 2020 season. The Patriots sans the ‘Tuckster’, went 7-9 this season and missed the playoffs after a 12 win season with Brady last year. It’s not like they had a chump behind the center this year. They had the excellent Cam Newton back there. Jeez, that guy led the Panthers to a Super Bowl recently! In all fairness, I’m not convinced Newton is a good fit for a Belichick team, but he is a damn good player. So maybe Tom is the “real deal” and Belichick is the pretender. Maybe Bill will need to dig into the cheat bag to pull off a winning season without Tuck boy on the roster.

What is up with Brady? How can he still be so good after 20 seasons? I think he made a deal with the devil. Seriously, he still has movie star good looks, a super model wife, and the real possibility of running out of ring fingers. He is on a quest to wipe out every passing record on the books. He threw 40 TDs this year on a team that went 7-9 last year. He was tied for 2nd in the league for TD passes and third for yardage. This man is 43 years old! If Tom Brady can lead this Tampa Bay team to a Super Bowl in his first year on the roster, it becomes nigh impossible to deny him some G.O.A.T. action. So here I am some 19 years after the Tuck play, releasing my grudge against Tom Brady, and refocusing it entirely on Bill Belichick and the Patriots 😉

I am looking forward to Sunday’s matchup because I really can’t lose in this game. If Rodgers wins I’m happy because I like Aaron, If Brady wins I’m OK with all the GOAT talk. Win / Win.

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WW84: Patty Jenkins is for Real.

Wonder Woman 1984 was released on Christmas Day and I saw it last night. I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Patty Jenkins had a thin resume when she took the reins on Wonder Woman. She clearly hit a 9th inning walk-off homerun with that picture. So it is certainly no surprise that Warner Brothers brought her back for another go. But was that first film lucky? Was it all producers along with Gal Gadot beauty and the badassery? Or was Patty working the magic to make that first effort so very delicious. It is safe to say, Ms. Jenkins is for real.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers at all but I will assume you have at least seen the trailers and I am also assuming you saw Wonder Woman back in 2017. If you have not seen Patty Jenkins first take on the Amazon Demi-God then what the ‘F’ is wrong with you? That film is currently ranked #5 on my list of more than 100 super hero genre films.

In the trailers we see the young and dashing Steve Trevor which seemingly is impossible since Steve played the hero to the death in World War I some 67 years earlier at the conclusion of Wonder Woman. This film is set in 1984 nearly seven decades after the events of Wonder Woman (2017) but also about 33 years earlier than the current DC Extended Universe, since that Wonder Woman film was tied into to the Justice League movie. This film could have been a disaster, but Jenkins holds it together and DC has another winner, which they desperately need at this point.

The story here is rather interesting and in fact I quite like it. Our villain is easy to spot early on yet is not what we think; actually he is exactly what we think, but how he becomes strong enough to challenge a Demi-God is rather clever. Actor Pedro Pascal, think Mandalorian, delivers a believable villain character here. We even have a bit of a secondary villain. I will not go into how a Steve Trevor ends up in 1984 but it is a very specific plot element and his very existence in 1984 is a plot mover.

The movie is not without its faults, and some rather sizable plot holes, but all are forgivable and many will go unnoticed as they are more technology based. Air Force and Navy pilots will pull their hair out 😉 For the record a fighter jet cannot make it from Washington DC to Cairo without refueling (multiple times) and the Smithsonian doesn’t keep flight ready fighter jets in the back… just sayin’ Anyhow plot holes aside, this is a good story and in the lore of Wonder Woman some of the seemingly impossible things are not impossible at all. That more mystical-mythos part actually is cohesive and even believable with in the context of the story.

The effects in this movie particularly with Wonder Woman seem less spectacular and in a few scenes even a bit B grade. In general the effects are fine, but this time round Patty J decides against using that awesome dramatic Wonder Woman badass music and perhaps that means I focus a bit more on the technicalities of the effects. I don’t know, this go round just seemed a tad off the mark of the first one.

Wonder Woman 1984 is still a fantastic film that in my opinion after the first screening is not quite as wonderful as the first one, but not too far off the mark either. If the first one was a walk-off homer this one is more akin to a late inning two run double in a tight game. The fans seem to be a bit less enthusiastic about this one than the last one and the press didn’t like it much at all. But the press sucks, they don’t do anything right anyway.

The writers and the director managed to make a two and a half hour movie move along at a well timed but brisk pace and thankfully, they avoided peppering us with politics and woke-ology. My only complaint as a guy who read Ronald Reagan’s Memoirs and biographies was the scene where “The President”, whom we must presume is Reagan, is queried about what he might wish for, he wishes for more nukes, and that is simply NOT something Reagan would have wished for. He absolutely would have wished for all nukes to be gone in that particular context in the film.

When I watch the movie again I will likely find additional ‘isms’ that bug me, but overall it was a rather fun film, that had a good amount of super hero kick ass action, tells a great story, and is rather heartwarming in the method that Diana uses to resolve the potential world ending problem at climax of the plot.

Bravo to Patty Jenkins who now has a pair of Super Hero Movie Super Bowl rings. At this pace, she is well on her way to becoming the Tom Brady of Super Hero Movie Directors.

NOTE: Do watch the credit roll there is a fun cameo scene that could have future implications or could just be a wonderful nod to a legendary pop culture figure.

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Did Jon Favreau Just Save Star Wars?

Yes. Yes he did.

Jon Favreau is not just the guy with some cameos in Marvel films featuring Tony Stark. This is a guy who has a solid resume of screenwriting, directing, and producing films for Disney and pre-Disney Marvel as well as post Disney Marvel. Mr. F directed Marvel’s Ironman in 2008. Yes friends this is the film that really launched the Marvel MCU and some 21 films that grossed tens of BILLIONS of dollars over the span of a dozen years. Ironman remains as one of the best super hero movies of all time. It currently stands at number 7 on my list of more than 100 genre movies. Jon also directed the cult classic Christmas film “Elf”, starring Will Farrell.

So how did this man ‘save’ Star Wars? Simple, Jon Favreau is writing or co-writing episodes of the Mandalorian. He has directed at least one episode and serves as the executive producer for the series. He even acted in one episode. So you might be thinking, how does all of this “save” Star Wars? Seriously, have you seen the Mandalorian? If you haven’t, then why the EF not? Anyway, you certainly felt the global nerdgasms that have erupted over the course of this series 16 episodes. Jon F is clearly a fan of the franchise and knows how to make a captivating and immersive experience. Hey Disney, yeah I’m talking to YOU: The Mandalorian is the best Star Wars product since the dawn of the Disney era of Star Wars. That’s not really saying much, but it is playing in the same league as any Star Wars production ever made. That is saying something now, isn’t it? It seems Favreau ‘gets it’, apparently he understands the fans, and he definitely knows how to tell a great story.

The Mandalorian has single handedly carried the Disney Plus streaming service. I’m not exaggerating, no Mando and the service collapses, how many times does one really need to stream Frozen II? The Mandalorian is the only new content driving any traffic to the service. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and others bury Disney Plus with gobs of excellent original content across a wide variety of genres. But the Mandalorian is about as good as television gets. This isn’t just a bunch of character cameo shark jumps, hell no. The series manages to weave in iconic and cult favorite characters into a serious and well developed plot. This product is as good or better than most of the spectacular Marvel content produced by Netflix. The Mandalorian is better than half of the full length Star Wars FEATURE films! It is among the best television I have ever watched.

Season two was 8 episodes long and each episode went from awesome to holy shit even more awesome. I’ll avoid spoiling for those yet to conclude the season, but I’ll say this, Ming Na Wen is playing in this show and she is someone that can single handedly carry a show, kind has that Samuel L. Jackson badass vibe. She however just adds more gravy to a show already dripping in delicious. There are few people on this earth at age 57 that can look badass and beautiful at the same freaking time. I met her in person a couple of years ago at Wizard World and she is really that gorgeous. This is no Hollywood magic trickery. Anyway lovely ladies aside, the Mandalorian is well written, well directed, and exceptionally well cast.

Disney is launching more series featuring iconic yet underdeveloped characters from the Star Wars franchise as well as from the Marvel MCU; and Favreau is likely to be in the middle of it all. If Disney can avoid getting caught in the social-political bullshit and focus on quality content with excellent people like Jon Favreau at the helm, they will make a KILLING on Star Wars and Marvel the likes of which we have never seen before. But as big and famous as Disney is, one only need to look at the disaster that is the trilogy of Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX as well as the lost potential in Solo to see that they are far from infallible. Yes these films were high grossing affairs but none of them reach the success of Favreau produced, End Game, the fifth highest grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation and the highest grossing film of all time in real dollars. Even the long anticipated first Disney effort, ‘Force Awakens’ a solid film in my opinion, was the peak for Disney as Rogue One was also very good but then the shit went sloppily downhill after that. Until Mando.

Hey Disney, you got a good thing going here, don’t screw this up. I think Disney execs are finally listening to the fans. There is a short list of content forth coming including a recent introduction via a Marvel style credit roll scene for a spin off series. I’ll spare you the spoiler, watch the last episode of The Mandalorian: Season Two. Do it NOW!

Wow!

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Birds of Prey A Predictable But Fun Romp

The Harley Quinn stand alone movie was released back in February but the pandemic kept me from getting a screening in the theater. I managed to watch it on HBO on Halloween. I decided it’s time to expand that chart. You may have noticed all 100 slots are taken on the All Time Super Hero Movie List. Of course Harley Quinn is really not a hero, not even an anti-hero if we really think about it. She’s a villain all the way. Margot Robbie reprises the role of Harley Quinn from the 2016 Warner Brothers movie, Suicide Squad.

This movie plays out like a narrated villain movie, from the perspective of Harley Quinn. She becomes a bit of an anti-hero as she is weaved into a web of storylines of the Huntress, Black Canary, and Gotham Police Detective, Renee Montoya. In the end it shows us the formation of the Birds of Prey between the other three ladies. Honestly this thing is a hot mess. It was fun, and has a great musical sound track, but what a crazy ride through a predictable plot and rather bland screenplay.

Margot Robbie seems to have the character nailed down and her performance as Harley is memorable, but the rest of the characters that make up the Birds of Prey are simply not fleshed out at all. In fact our villain is not really developed either. Like I mentioned above, it is a hot mess of picture, but it is kind of fun and that really is to the credit of Margot Robbie.

One surprise for me was the excellent performance by Obi-Wan-Kenobi, er, uh, I mean Ewan Mac Gregor. I did not recognize him actually and that is either a testament to his acting chops or to my lack of keen observation, maybe a little of both actually 😉

I actually liked the movie, but it isn’t pushing too many movies around on the chart.

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Agents of Shield is Back. Did they Jump the Shark?

Agents of Shield has returned to ABC for a 7th and final season. The season’s tagline is “the final mission” so methinks this is it gang. Well I suppose that question could have been queried in season six with the crazy events there. But Season 7 has our heroes traveling through time not just space and that definitely has the the ramp set up for a shark jump.

This has been one of my favorite TV adaptations of either the Marvel or DC universe. Season 6 and now 7 have definitely gotten a little weird, but not as weird as Arrow got in its last few seasons. I will not spoil anything for those yet to start the 7th season but the show does still seem to work. The characters are excellent and now our core team is extremely well developed. Coulsen continues to be a great character and they have twisted the character to fit into many boxes as the show has progressed. Agent May is still by far my favorite on the show as Ming Na Wen pulls off the badass beauty as well as anyone could. In fact she pulls it off even better then Scarlett Johanssan does as Black Widow. Ming Na Wen is more than two decades her elder.

The show is currently airing on Wednesday evenings at 10pm

As for other comic related shows we have changes coming to Batwoman as the CW announced the lead actress, Ruby Rose will leave the show. Rumors are circulating that Vanessa Morgan of Riverdale will take over the role but not as Kate Kane. Somehow they intend to write her Kate out not kill her off however, and a new character will emerge and somehow end up donning the suit. I have enjoyed watching Batwoman. Like CWs Super-girl they spend a little too much time pushing a sexuality agenda. I don’t mind it so much until it starts to dominate the plot. In both shows the sexuality and struggles facing key characters in both shows has in my opinion become a larger plot element than the actual “heroism” of the ‘superheroes’. This is not to say the issues facing these characters should not be vetted, of course they should, it is part of their development so we learn who they are both in the suit and out. We’ll see how it works next season.

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The Rise of Skywalker

Here is a no spoiler look at the final installment in the original Lucas Star Wars Saga.

It has been a rather tumultuous time in the Star Wars franchise since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012. They started their full feature length films with Episode VII in 2015. that film was a success for Disney but wasn’t without its detractors. Disney followed up with the excellent back story on the mission that got the rebels the Death Star plans in the opening scene of the original episode IV back in 1977. “Rogue One” told that tale in 2016. It looked like Disney was off to the races ready to cash in on the $4 billion dollar investment. But things were about to get real squirrelly. In 2017 they released the much anticipated “Last Jedi.” They had taken a little bit of heat by introducing Luke Skywalker only in the final waning moments of the previous film. But that may have been a moment of genius had they followed up with something better than a trash can script and clunky story in episode VIII. Last Jedi was just awful for a Star Wars movie, easily the worst of the bunch. But the fans showed up on opening weekend eager to see Grandpa Luke. I reviewed that movie with mixed feelings. Some of the scenes were memorable and even ‘LOL’ funny. But there was little cohesion and the story was crap. In 2018 Disney gave us “Solo.” The fans were still pissed off over Last Jedi and many simply didn’t show up. Solo was actually a pretty solid movie, middle of the pack in my opinion but it turned out to be the worst performing Star Wars movie of all time. That all led up to this moment. December 20th, 2019.

Well I am happy to report that this film is much better than the other two in the third batch of the triple trilogy. It does not rise to the levels of the original three movies but is at least as good as most other Star Wars films outside of the first three. One of the big problems with all of these Disney versions of Star Wars is that they tend to be predictable, formulaic to a fault, and they practically cut and paste scenes from the original trilogy. I wrote about this in the “Force Awakens” review.

All of that on the table JJ Abrams took the story and material he was given and did about as much as possible with it. I went into this film with nothing but the trailers in my head and after watching it I read a few professional reviews that are largely negative. This was not a bad film at all and is worthy of your time and money to see it in the theater. The end of the film does reserve some unspoiled reveals about who Rey is and who she is not. They did a nice job wrapping up the arc of Rey and Kylo Ren. There is a sub plot of redemption and some genuine bad ass Jedi / Sith force powers that are almost worth the price of the ticket all by themselves. It seems Disney was able to get back on track and focus on the Star Wars story instead of a social indoctrination. This film is a real beneficiary of that decision.

Here is my totally subjective and likely to change in the future list of the best Star Wars movies.

  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 ★★★★★
  2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977 ★★★★★
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, 1983 ★★★★☆
  4. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, 2016 ★★★★☆
  5. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker, 2019 ★★★★☆
  6. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015 ★★★★☆
  7. Solo: A Star Wars Story, 2018 ★★★★☆
  8. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999 ★★★★☆
  9. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005 ★★★☆☆
  10. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, 2017 ★★★☆☆
  11. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002 ★★★☆☆

 

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The CW has put together its biggest crossover event ever, and it is pretty good so far. This is a five episode event that began on Sunday the 8th with the scheduled Supergirl, followed by Batwoman and Black Lightning on Monday and the Flash today. The finale will come on January 14th.

The “crisis” is based loosely on the comics crossovers and the multiverse theory that there are infinite universes representing all of the possible outcomes of time and space. The CW has done a good job integrating the various DC Comics TV shows into a congruous “Arrow-verse.” The shows are Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and the latest, Batwoman. The idea here is a universe ending apocalypse that will require all the heroes from across multiple universes to fix…. or not. I guess we will find out next year 😉

CW has done these crossover events before and they have always been solid, but this one seems to really take the cake. It is a busy mess with lots of characters… seriously Infinity War levels of super heroes. Somehow through all of the chaos, the thing seems to come together and it is now a daunting cliffhanger through the holidays. Rumor has it this is the very last season of Arrow which is the show that started it all eight seasons ago! It seems like this is a bit of an Arrow-verse finale.

I will avoid any spoilers in case you haven’t seen these episodes yet. I would definitely watch though, this has been good and what is really special are the sheer volume of cameos and special ‘versions’ of various DC universe characters including some from other networks and eras. I’m serious, think Smallville, think all the way back to the 1960s… yes Burt Ward is in this thing, Burt freaking Ward! And just for the ultimate nerdgasm Will Wheaton has a cameo appearance that is hard to miss. You will see all the stops pulled out for an ‘Easter Egg’ hunt for the ages. That alone is well worth the time to watch.

The actual plot and story of Crisis is decent but not the greatest tale ever told, but it is an epic event and offers enough fun, drama, and superhero kick ass mixed in with a twisted villain plot to keep you entertained across what should be five hours of episodes.

Good stuff.

 

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Disney Plus off to a Robust Start

Disney’s new streaming service got a massive boost with the new show called “Baby Yoda.”  No wait, that’s not it, it’s actually called ‘The Mandalorian.” The Mandalorian is the darkest Star Wars so far. This show is not a light-hearted romp with Jango and Bobba. But the star of the show has quickly become a tiny little “Baby Yoda” that has no speaking lines but crushes it with the billion dollar face. Disney will likely make that in Christmas merchandise on this character alone this year!  Edging against the dark themes is this adorable 50 year old baby that looks like Yoda did 900 years ago.  ‘When 50 years old you reach, look as cute you will not.’ 😉

Star Wars fans have been raging against the Disney juggernaut since they bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for a reported four billion dollars. They managed to put out a respectable film in “The Force Awakens” but then went down the rabbit hole and managed to piss off the fan base to the point of those fans ignoring the Han Solo movie out of pure spite. For the record: Solo was a decent movie. It was much better than ‘Last Jedi’ which was by far the worst of the franchise.

The Mandalorian is an excellent show. Even without this adorable, seemingly intoxicating baby Yoda character the show is solid. It is set in the time period after the fall of the Empire (after the events of Return of the Jedi) but before the rise of the New Order leading up to Disney’s concluding trilogy for the franchise. Yoda is dead so this little guy is likely a clone or an heir apparent.

The Mandalorian doesn’t feature any light sabers or teams of force enabled Jedi versus the evil Sith, nor does it have massive armies of white clad storm troopers. It really has none of that. What it does have is a look at the dirty underbelly of the galaxy and remnants of the old Empire lurking about, up to no good we presume. I do not know if this series will make any tie in to the upcoming film “The Rise of Skywalker” but hopefully they will find a tie in somehow despite the gap of some 20 years between the timelines of two.

The Mandalorian is solid TV friends, this is a great show and worthy of the price of admission which is less than $7 a month. There has been 4 episodes thus far and I am not sure how many more are to come, but Disney hit a home run here, and they needed it, they really needed it. The fans that were raging against the machine, calling Disney the murderer of Star Wars and worse suddenly can’t get enough of Baby Yoda. This one character that has been on the screen for large pieces of four episodes but hasn’t spoken a word has captured the hearts of the base and that may just save Disney from losing a ton of money on the next Star Wars movie due out this month on the 20th. It seems baby Yoda has redeemed them, for now. Genius.

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