This is ridiculous and I am absolutely watching it

I haven’t seen a Fast & Furious movie since the first one came out when I was 17. That was…**math** 17 years ago.

Now that The Rock has won the cinematic arm wrestling match against Vin Diesel and fully controls the franchise, I hear they are good again. Dunno.

Far as I can tell, these movies are about guys that fight crime by driving cars fast.

Imagine The Dukes of Hazzard with gravitas and a budget.

Then add 400 pounds of testosterone with islander tattoos from The Rock, and 250 pounds of cleanshaven James Bond roleplay from Statham. Cherry on top, Idris Elba gets to play Evil Black Superman.

With the exception of there being no robots or dragons, this movie is already perfect.

I have plenty of time to watch the other…**math** SEVEN movies now, in preparation for this one.

It is just too risky to think about missing important details.

Confession: I’m Excited For The MCU To End

Not much to say beyond that–it’s been a great 11 years, and these characters have made it truly enjoyable. When they all go away, it will mark the end of the story for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I am interested to see it end. To see these heroes ride off into the sunset.

Will Disney keep bilking it? Yes. We’ll get Marvel sequels until they have done to it what they did to Star Wars, and I’m not interested in contributing to something big being brought down low.

So after Avengers: Endgame comes out, I will probably just…check out of Marvel, and see more movies that are new and exciting, if there are any.

Can’t wait to see how it wraps up!

What makes a story truly land for me

Long story short: you need a big question, or a big concept.

Every time I come back to this scene ag the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the strength of the concept is just superb.

Q tells Picard that exploration isn’t a physical thing, limited to the five senses. It’s exploring existence and opening your mind up to the seemingly impossible.

That’s where faith finds its place in the universe. I love this exchange. I hope that when I tackle story ideas of my own, I’m able to succinctly describe big truths and concepts like this.

It’s what makes truly good art.

“Bumblebee” shows us what might have been.

Credit to James Raiz, @boxofficeartist

Today I saw the new Bumblebee movie, after swearing off future Transformers flicks in 2014.

The original cartoon was excellent, tentpole stuff. A true staple of the 80s. When big screen graphics finally got to the point where they could handle a realistic adaptation, we got stuck with whatever Michael Bay felt like shoveling on us.

The first film was…adequate, but flawed. So audiences lined up for the second one, which was…hella flawed. But it gave us great visuals! So we lined up for the third film, which was flawed but better than the second.

Since the franchise was trending upward, audiences lined up for the fourth film…

…and it sucked tailpipe. Hard. 2014 was when I realized I was the problem. Paramount kept heaping money on Bay because people kept seeing his crappy movies, hoping they would get better, that we should just put some makeup on this one and it wouldn’t happen again.

I boycotted the 5th film, which still made a ton of money, but was universally panned as being manure.

Then I heard about Bumblebee.

I wasn’t optimistic, until 2 things happened: first, I heard Michael Bay wasn’t in charge (though he got a producer credit, probably on a technicality). Second, the trailer was awesome.

You could clearly see the original Transformers, with their original voices, looking like their original forms during a fight on Cybertron! No spiky metal turds that were indistinguishable one from another!

I was in. So I went and saw it.

On its own, the film was good. Compared to the last five, it was great. Here is why.

  1. Respect for the source material. Within the first two minutes, you see cameos on the fly from Autobots and Decepticons who look recognizable by their shapes and colors. Arcee was the first one I spotted, followed by Brawn and Ironhide. Then Soundwave, Shockwave, Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker. Cliffjumper even had a speaking line or two. And Ravage! Above all, Optimus Prime was there, looking correct and proper, and of course, killing any bad guy in sight without hesitation.
  2. A human lead who didn’t suck. Hailee Steinfeld (name?) was really good. Convincing, realistic, showed emotion, had heart. Her supporting cast had slightly fewer than one dimension each, which works if you are John Cena, but not if you are her emotionally demanding family.
  3. Just enough to legally bind it to the original film franchise, with enough changes to work as a reboot. No spoilers, but while the movie begins with a fight on Cybertron, and we see Sector 7 at Hoover Dam with a young Agent Simmons (John Tuturro’s character later on), the story wraps up in such a way that it porks the timeline from the 2007 film. Which is fine with me. I know I want decades between reboots of anything, but with Transformers, no. Give me that do-over NOW.
  4. Easter eggs. Won’t list them all here, but when Bumblebee played “You got the touch” on his stereo, I squealed a little.
  5. Maybe we can get a full-on makeover of the Bay cesspool, with someone sane at the helm. I can’t say this enough. Make the rest of the movies over from here. Hell, give us a sequel called Optimus Prime, and round out the trilogy with Megatron, who, by the way, does not appear in this film. Again, in the original timeline he is technically frozen in Hoover Dam…but the story on Earth plays out as if this is not the case…

Guh. I will shut up now. Just go see it, it is a fun romp that is worth the money. There are some poorly acted teen drama tropes that happen for…I dunno, checkbox reasons, I would count those as the major weakness of the film. The action scenes were great, the effects were top notch (you can actually see what is happening when they fight), and DAMN dude, Bumblebee is a scrappy, brawly, dirty fighter. He takes his hits, but he also kills like six Decepticons one-on-one in this film.

That’s all folks. See the movie. Reboot the rest. Get back to work.

MCU Villains, Ranked.

Based on charisma, motivation, impact on the protagonist, and impact on the overall story.

Batroc the Leaper, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Nothing against MMA legend Georges St. Pierre, but he had a throwaway role. His only job was to get his butt kicked by Cap. Never heard from again.


Malekith, Thor: The Dark World. Easily the weakest Marvel film, in part due to its bland and forgettable plot, driven by a bland and forgettable villain. Still, he helped our heroes find the Reality Stone.

Yellow Jacket, Ant-Man. Marvel loves to introduce heroes by having them fight a bad guy who has the exact same powers, and it’s a lousy mechanism. By 2015, seven years into the MCU, even the writers seemed tired of it when they put Darren Cross into the story. He did nothing but die.

Whiplash, Iron Man 2. Cool visuals? Sure. Absolutely nonsensical? Even more so. At least he had history with Iron Man, even if it was one-sided. His motivation centered purely on fighting Tony Stark because their dads disagreed once.

Abomination, The Incredible Hulk. What started out as an intriguing story devolved quickly into a smasher, with the main villain getting dumber as he got stronger. Two-dimensional, but not as bad as some others.


Mandarin, Iron Man 3. As HISHE points out, this movie is basically The Incredibles, and the Mandarin is Syndrome. Plus there was some sleight of hand that was funny, but still sorta meh in the end. Nevertheless, this advanced Tony and Pepper’s relationship, and showed that Tony is more than just his suits.

Queen Alia. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Lost in a pileup of villains, she only really merits a spot because she has extensive wealth, great tech, and will soon give us Adam Warlock.

Captain Taserface, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. He overthrew Yondu and eventually led Queen Alia’s forces to the planet Ego, nearly killing all of the Guardians as they literally were saving the Galaxy again.

Crossbones, Captain America: Civil War. Not unlike Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones was a throwaway villain in Civil War. However, he rates higher because he has a history with Cap, and his actions directly trigger the central conflict of the film, throwing the entire MCU into chaos.


Kaecilius, Doctor Strange. Another case of first-movie-villain, with similar powers. I give Kaecilius points because he had an interesting monologue with Strange, presenting him with information that would test his loyalties and make him question his own priorities.

Ronin, Guardians of the Galaxy. He was ruthless and stone cold, though his motivation was somewhat one-dimensional. Still, he introduced the Power Stone, and gave the Guardians a taste of success in saving an entire world from an Infinity Stone. They wouldn’t be so lucky next time.


Ghost, Ant-Man and The Wasp. She ranks higher because of her unique motivation, and what her condition revealed about Hank Pym’s history.


Red Skull, Captain America: The First Avenger. While Red Skull is another case of First Villain, Hugo Weaving’s performance really enlivened the character, and was a strong counterpart to Cap in his movie. He also gave us the Space Stone.


Killmonger, Black Panther. Another case of First Villain, elevated by Michael B. Jordan, who made this otherwise two-dimensional (and jerkish) bad guy pop off the screen. Didn’t agree with his motivation much, but he showed major tactical prowess.

Hela, Thor: Ragnarok. Okay, so Thor has a sister. She takes over Asgard, and is…grumpy. That’s about it. She’s almost a repeat of Loki from Thor, but with more power. During her time in Asgard, she reveals that the Infinity Gauntley in Odin’s treasure room is a fake, which solves some things.

Ego, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Dude. Kurt Russell. Peter’s dad. A homicidal maniac trying to spawn a child so he could consume the entire universe. Do the math, that is twice as bad as Thanos. Still, he failed.


Alexander Pierce, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dude. The head of S.H.I.E.LD. was the head of Hydra.


Iron Monger, Iron Man. Jeff Bridges is a beast, and his role here solidified just how uniquely smart Tony Stark is, and just how close to home were the people who wanted to kill him. Plus, the first MCU villain! However, sadly, another case of First Villain.


Loki, Thor, Avengers. Speaking of First Villain, here’s another Norse god, with a penchant for mischief. Even though his plan made little to no sense, he managed to pull the Avengers apart while inside a prison, and nearly succeeded at conquering both Asgard and Earth. Bonus points, he introduced the Mind Stone.


Ultron, Avengers: Age of Ultron. The best villains are the ones you accidentally build yourself. From James Spader’s perfect swagger and rage and quippiness, to his willingness to just kill the whole world, to the “there are no strings on me” jingle…yeah. Ultron’s movie may have been a mess, but it was a fun mess, and he was a great villain.


The Winter Soldier, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. For all intents, he was the true antagonist of this film, presenting a completely unique challenge to Cap: you have to beat this man, and you can’t do it by killing him. You have to remind him who he is. Winter Soldier’s very existence has huge repercussions for the MCU.


Helmut Zemo, Captain America: Civil War. He took down the Avengers without superpowers, with limited resources, and with sheer determination and brainpower. Even though he was caught and imprisoned, he still got away with it.

Vulture, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Finally! A blue-collar villain, a working man who had had enough, and Michael Keaton did a heck of a job playing him the whole way through. Especially when that third act reveal popped up. A superb villain.


Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War. Underwhelming, right? I mean, he kind of has to be number one. Strongest, biggest impact, and the first villain to actually pull off his plan. Ego tried to kill everyone. Thanos was more dangerous and only had half the goal.

And since I know you will ask: I am not officially including any of the TV shows, for 3 reasons:

1) They are, unfortunately, not part of the continuity of the movies.

2) Most of the shows suck.

3) These villains have at least 13 hours to establish themselves, which gives them more weight.

Nevertheless, two honorable mentions:

Kingpin, Daredevil. I can’t sum it up, you just have to watch the show. What a magnificently crafted character.


Kilgrave, Jessica Jones. Give someone Jedi mind powers. Remove all their morals. Dial up the evil to 11. Yeah. Kilgrave was the one redeemable factor from one of Netflix-Marvel’s worst shows.

Did I forget anyone?

Marvel have been foreshadowing this for a while…

Of the many predictions for the inbound, unnamed, 4th Avengers film, my personal favorite centers on Captain America trading his life for his friend, Bucky, aka The Winter Soldier.

It happened in the comics, and Marvel have planted the seeds for this all along, hinting at Bucky one day taking up the shield.

It’s time. Probably gonna happen. Guess we’ll see. I can’t wait for that trailer to drop, supposedly soon.

Okay, so…Captain Marvel reax

This is the new Captain Marvel trailer that dropped this week. The last one had some cool bits in it, and left me with some questions, the biggest one being:

Does this script ever call for Brie Larson to emote?

And I’m not the only one to wonder this. She just has one tone of voice, one look on her face the entire time.

The new trailer is more of that, though it appears that we have a clearer sense of why: Carol Danvers flies a subphotonic plane that somehow shoots her out into the galaxy, and while she is out there, she fuses with a Kree and gets…massive, massive overpowers.

Marvel has put out 20 films, most of them good, some of them great, few of them bad. After an average of two films per year over a decade, I trust them.

That said, I am a little worried at how much this looks like Green Lantern. I’m also concerned that they might be making the Marvel version of Rey from the new Star Wars films: emotionally bland, and just stupidly overpowered for no reason.

But if there is a reason why they are only showing this side of the character in the trailers, then the justification should be good.

I do suspect that a great deal of this story will be a setup for Avengers 4, in much the same way that Captain America’s first movie was a setup for Avengers 1.

We shall see. Captain Marvel comes out in a few months.

It’s too bad that “TRON Legacy” wasn’t better.

I’m on mobile so I am not sure if the link embedded the video. It’s from the light cycle fight in TRON Legacy.

It’s already been 8 years since that movie came out. I had always heard of the original from the 80s, and I watched it before seeing this new one, in case I missed the story.

Truth be told, the sequel was kind of a mess. Disney had this old IP lying around and thought hey, we can do a sequel! Or a reboot! Or an updated version of the original, with new graphics!

Worst of all, we could try all three.

Scene for scene, it’s almost exactly the original movie, but with much better graphics. Even dialogue beats are copied. Visually it is stunning, narratively it doesn’t really seem to know what it’s after, other than your cash.

The one unassailable component is the score, by Daft Punk. Perfectly fitting, and always good for a listen. I just bought the CD the other day.

Disney has tried to do a third movie, and even had a cartoon spinoff for a while, but I think the sad truth at this point is that they have a cool concept, a cool world, but not a cool enough story to sell it all.

At least we got Daft Punk, though.

Ichabod Crane was not a sexy dude.

I wrote about this back in 2013 on my old blog, and it’s a good time to revisit this subject.

Washington Irving’s best-known tale is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring lanky Connecticut schoolmaster Ichabod Crane versus the ghost of the Headless Horseman.

Everyone has heard of the story, due to its staying power over the centuries (Irving wrote it in the early 1800s) but Hollywood tends to butcher the important parts.

Paul Joseph Watson Imagine My Shock GIF - PaulJosephWatson ImagineMyShock Shock GIFs

The two most recent adaptations were Sleepy Hollow from 1999, wherein Ichabod Crane is a sexy supernatural detective played by Johnny Depp, in his pre-Jack Sparrow days.

Image result for johnny depp ichabod crane

Later he was played by Tom Mison in the TV show “Sleepy Hollow,” which was a wild, wild departure from just about anything having to do with Irving’s classic (other than Ichabod, Katrina, and the Horseman.)

Image result for tom mison ichabod crane

Apparently Jeff Goldblum portrayed Ichabod in a for-TV version of the movie back in the early 1980s. This version of the character was closer to accurate, even if the story wasn’t.

Image result for jeff goldblum ichabod crane

To date, the most correct portrayal I’ve seen is the animated Disney version from many many decades ago. Both the character and the story are directly adapted from what Irving crafted.

Image result for disney ichabod crane

 

I bring this up because I usually read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in October, and have for the past five or six years. Yesterday I plugged in the audio (I have the version narrated by Tom Mison, funnily enough) and as always, it’s a striking feat of language and emotion and storytelling.

This story always draws me in, and not just because Irving was a fantastic writer; I found out back in 2015 that I actually have a ancestors buried in the Old Dutch Church Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. (Their names were Dirke Storm and Gregoris Storm.)

Naturally this has fueled my imagination for some time, and I’ve poured that fuel into a story idea that I’ve been kicking around since my twenties. I’ve tried tackling it before, only to fail, but this is the year that I can make it happen.

So my NaNoWriMo novel is called SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. It’s a modern-day follow-up to Irving’s original story, one that treats it all as historical fact, and accurately portrays the characters he created.

I won’t get into too many details for now, just know that SLEEPLESS HOLLOW is going to be my big release of 2019. It will be about a year before you guys get to read it, but check back here for updates and snippets as I write and illustrate it.

And if you need something to hold you over in the meantime, head over to http://www.gutenberg.org and grab a free ebook copy of Irving’s Legend. Fall in love with it like I do every time I read it.

There is more to be discovered in that sleepy little villa…

Characters First: Why “Incredibles 2” was a worthy addition to the first one.

It’s always scary when they make a sequel to a really great movie. If the first one was 100% great, the second one would only need to hit 90% for you to feel like it didn’t live up.

Fortunately, Pixar has enough cultural capital for people to give them credit in the sequel department.

DreamWorks, for example, sequeled the hell out of the Shrek franchise, and none of them were all that great. The How To Train Your Dragon series started strong, but the sequel wasn’t able to recapture all the magic, and the 500 spinoff shows have watered down the product. Still, the third looks promising.

Incredibles, though, knows what it’s about. Yes, there are superheroes, and societal issues, and Big Questions, but those are just dressing on the plate. At its core, it’s a family story.

Bob is the husband/father who hates his job and longs for the glory days when he felt more valuable to the world. Now he tries to fill that void by figuring out how to be the dad his kids need him to be.

Helen struggles with the opposite problem–trusting her husband to run a tight ship like she does at home, while also accepting the responsibility of being The Main Superhero who will usher in a new era.

Violet isn’t just the girl with invisibility powers; she wants more adult responsibilities, and a relationship with a boy. The fact that she has powers and has to hide them makes that really hard to manage.

Dash is trying to keep up with a changing curriculum at school, and idolizes his dad, hoping to live up to his standard of heroism someday.

And Jack-Jack…oh man. That baby. Anyone who has had a baby boy in their house knows what’s up. Even without any dialogue, and limited cognition, he imposes his will on the world around him. Jack-Jack steals the show.

I could go on and on about the brilliant angles and aspects of this, but really, you just need to see it and you probably will. The 14-year wait, while unconventional, was worth it, and your patience is rewarded.

I would rather have to wait a decade and a half and have them get it right anyway.