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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

 

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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.”ย  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!ย  Edging against the dark themes is this adorable 50 year old baby that looks like Yoda did 900 years ago.ย  ‘When 50 years old you reach, look as cute you will not.’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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This Movie is no Joke

Minor spoilers ahead: My son, Nolan and I saw Joker today and it is a heavy dramatic film. I expected this to be a movie to be a bit of a dramatic affair as it has been well described as a deep character study and it was all of that. But was it any good?

Well as a “comic book” movie it was a little bit off the reservation, the Arthur Flack version of the Joker has been told in the comics but as is expected with the gang at Warner Brothers, a great many liberties were taken in the film adaptation of this character.

Arthur was a clown, literally a performing clown, and aspiring to be a stand up comic. The movie focuses on his rather creepy relationship with is “mother” and his existing mental issues that are revealed as the movie progresses. This film is rather dark and the character of Arthur Fleck, AKA the Joker is well fleshed out.

A great deal of praise has been heaped upon Joaquin Phoenix for his deep portrayal of a truly disturbed individual. This praise is well placed but this movie was incredibly well directed as well. Todd Phillips uses a series of camera techniques to present this gritty film, but his use of the tight close up evokes Sergio Leone’s style in “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” and it works in Joker to outstanding effect.

From a pure comic book stand point this movie falls a little flat, and if you like a little comic relief with your jet black dark stories you get little such relief here. This one sucks the life force out of the most jovial of souls. But Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix give us a dark and disturbed character that we can actually feel empathy for. As Arthur slips deeper into the darkness and begins his truly delusional ride down the rabbit hole into the persona of the Joker we see senseless and horrific murders. But a few of the murders are almost justified. If you don’t for at least a second or too feel a bit of satisfaction when Arthur takes his first two lives then you may have missed the whole point of this heavy film. No I do not condone the murder of people who are assholes, but this movie, just for a second or too lets you feel Arthur’s pain, and in that brief moment you get it, then you go whoa, too dark… too dark and you pull back on reins… that is enough darkness for me. And that is the difference between sanity and lunacy… I am apparently still sane.

Thomas Wayne is featured in the film and we see a very different version of the Dark Knight’s father here. At first I was taken back, what? That’s not Thomas Wayne, NEVER! But then I realized this entire film is viewed from the perspective of the Joker and the downtrodden of Gotham in the deepest of despair. The noble and benevolent version of Wayne was always shown from the perspective of Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and the Gotham elite. Here we see the other side of the society and their view of the wealthy and powerful of Gotham City during a rough economic cycle. This is a brilliant spin on the classic perception of the Wayne family.

The movie is a bit of a period piece taking place in the early 1980s, there is a great deal of Hollywood period blunders, but I forgive them, 90% of the production crew was likely not born yet in 1981. Overall I really like the setting, the mood, and the style of this movie. Mr. Phoenix delivers a chilling and Oscar worthy performance as our frightening mental case character study and Todd Phillips delivers camera work and pacing to keep this thing in the green for two hours. Be advised, this is a heavy drama, seriously D-R-A-M-A. There is little in the way of comic relief and there is little in the way of action. Mr. Phillips dives into the dark and damaged soul of a truly disturbed man which yields at the end the Clown Prince of Crime AKA the Joker.

Leave the kiddies at home parents, seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you. And yes, it is a very good movie.

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There’s a new Bat in town.

I have been a bit incognito lately but I watched the pilot for CW’s new Batwoman series and it was pretty solid. I will be seeing ‘Joker’ this week as well and will report on that later on.

Batwoman features Ruby Rose in the lead playing a lesbian character struggling with family issues as well as relationship issues partly associated with her sexual ‘status’. The pilot touched on the conflict between her and her dad and the differences in perception regarding their relationship. The character is based off a legit Batman DC comic as she is Kate Kane cousin to Bruce Wayne. This character first appeared in the DC universe just recently in 2006 after the DC Infinite Crisis. In the Batman series, 2006 is VERY recent since Batman first appeared in 1939!

None the less Kate Kane, AKA Batwoman is sort of “filling in” in the absence of Bruce Wayne / Batman who disappeared three years earlier. The pilot gives some backstory on the character, and follows through a discovery of sorts regarding Bruce Wayne and the Bat.

I like what they have done with her abilities. Like Batman, she has no real super powers. She has serious martial arts training and is somewhat fearless. She is not shown to be overpowered and in fact she has notable and believable vulnerabilities that are exploited to some extent by the bad guys. So far she seems well cast in this role and they have set the stage for a major villain to emerge and likely be the season long antagonist should the show get a full set of episodes.

I don’t mind one bit that TV and movies are trying to be inclusive of the LBGTQ community. A small but still significant portion of our population identifies as LBGTQ and for many years were left out of stories and plots or were added in a trivial or even comical fashion. These modern, more serious, and leading characters that are a part of the LBGTQ community can be important to society at large in bringing all of us together rather than creating divisive lines. I say they can be, because done wrong they can be just as divisive as the exclusionary practices of the past.

I think that they have a tendency to overplay the hand a bit. In Supergirl there was the coming out of Kara Danvers stepsister that became a central theme for two seasons overshadowing the story line of the title character: Supergirl. This overplay can become counter-productive and TV and Movies have taken it to counter productive levels at times. I hope that Kate Kane’s sexuality does not become the primary theme but rather an anecdote to her broad personality. She should be much more than just another lesbian. No one should be defined by their sexuality yet in Supergirl, the CW has done just that with Alex Danvers. Alex Danvers is an awesome character that need not be either gay or straight to be awesome. I feel like they overplayed the lesbian part of her character and I hope they don’t repeat the mistake here with Kate Kane.

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Spiderman: Actually I felt Right at Home

Spiderman: Far From Home opened today across America for a long 4th of July Holiday opening weekend. I went into this movie with lower expectations than typical for a film produced by Marvel Studios. Now hold on, before anyone starts writing a Sony / Marvel relationship and movie rights comment, I am aware that Sony / Columbia Pictures still owns the movie rights to Spiderman and associated characters. However beginning way back with Captain America Civil War, Marvel Studios signed a deal to use Spiderman in the MCU for a series of films. Tom Holland’s appearance as Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman, since have all been in films produced by Marvel Studios. The stand alone Spiderman films, Homecoming and Far From Home were produced by Marvel Studios and released by Sony / Columbia. These are Marvel Studios productions and I set the bar pretty high for Marvel produced content. Previous film presentations of Spiderman were Sony / Columbia produced movies under exclusive license with Marvel credited as copyrighted creators.

OK all the legalistic BS aside, I was happy with Homecoming, but not over the moon. There was something about it that was somewhat ho-hum another day at the office in the MCU. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, better than either of Sony’s mediocre “Amazing Spiderman films with Andrew Garfield behind the mask. OK then, what about this new film?

Well, this movie surprised me. I was expecting more of Homecoming and what I got was much, much better. As usual I will avoid spoilers but I will not be able to avoid identifying Marvel characters or the plots of recently run Marvel movies such as Avengers: End Game. If you are one of the 12 people on this planet that has not seen End Game, stop reading now as I do have End Game spoilers and get your ass down to the theater and watch it.

This movie picks up after the events of Avengers : End Game. Peter is having a hard time dealing with the loss of Tony Stark and the whole new world order with half the universe missing five years of their existence an event referred to as “The Blip.” So if you didn’t get the way they dealt with time travel and had no “universe ending paradox” Members of the Avengers go back in time, steal the infinity stones before Thanos gets them, return to the future aftermath post Thanos, re snap the fingers to bring everybody back, then rerun the stones back to pre-Thanos so he can fetch them all over again, thus the mighty loop of time is preserved. That by the way was one of the best time travel plots I have ever witnessed.

The result of this is that everybody returns as they were, but five years later into a post End Game world. The half that remained is five years older than the half that was “blipped” from existence. So this film has a tall order to sort of bring this post-Avenger world into focus all the while creating a new super-hero and villain plot to entertain us for a couple of hours. Damn, they pulled it off my friends, they pulled it off. This is a brilliant movie that will likely find itself pretty high up on the ‘ole Super Hero Movie Chart.

We get a villain that the comic fans will immediately identify but the non-comic folks will likely be caught unaware. I think the plot for this movie is actually better for those only loosely familiar with the Spiderman comics of the 1960s, because being fooled makes the plot twist stick in the second half. This movie is so well done, you never feel like the pace is too slow or too fast and the story weaves and bobs through a series of twists and turns. This is Marvel flexing its muscle and delivering top quality entertainment… again.

As is a bit of a Marvel trademark, we get some side character interaction to entertain us and make us laugh. This time it is Spidey pal Ned and and another spidey ‘girl’ from the past never explored much in previous silver screen Spiderman appearances. They have some hilarious interactions throughout the film with excellent Marvel dialog we have all come to know and love that breaks up the action sequences and keeps us chuckling.

Near the end of the film we get some genuine homage to some past Spidey appearances outside the MCU and they are neatly wrapped up in the conclusion. The end of this film definitely sets up the next web-slinging adventure, and the after credits tell us something about Marvel Phase Four so stick around to the very end.

I think I still like the first Spiderman back in 2002 the best and it was the supporting characters in that movie that made the difference. Willem Dafoe as Goblin was excellent, J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and even Bruce Campbell’s cameo as the ring announcer, love that movie ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am gonna watch that one again and maybe I’ll change my mind, who knows?

Spiderman : Far From Home, hit a home run today.

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