Scorsese Doubts Marvel Movies as Cinema? -or- Hating Popular Things to Sound Cool

An old adage of mine is simple and goes something like this: “Are you being critical, or are you just an asshole?” And I recently added the follow-on caveat of: “And if so, are you one of those assholes who hates things just because they’re popular?”

Image from Know Your Meme

Image from Know Your Meme

Recently, acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese came out against the wave of comic movies, citing Marvel in particular, as not being “cinema” (HERE). The legendary filmmaker went so far as to refer to the genre as being “theme parks”, as they (Marvel Movies) are not “the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Wow. Those are some weighted and profound words. And If I were to be a touch catty, I would ask: was it cinema when he directed Jonah Hill to simulate jerking-off a prosthetic penis to (presented as a sex object) Margo Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street? You know, the same movie that opens with DiCaprio snorting cocaine off a hookers ass, enjoys a nice round “dwarf-bowling”, and flaunts Caligula levels of kinky sex.

And yes . . . I own this movie :)

Image from Imgur.com

Image from Imgur.com

Full disclosure, I like the MCU/comic genre of movies and Scorsese’s words rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t like all comic flicks, and I also like/love some of Scorsese’s movies (Gangs of New York being one of my all time favorite movies) . . . but not all of them.

So when (some of) the internet balked at Scorsese’s comments, he doubled down a few days later. (HERE). On the back of that, celebrities like Jennifer Aniston have purportedly claimed that Marvel movies (and I assume the genre) have diminished what is available in terms of acting projects. But hey, that Netflix rom-com murder mystery movie is getting a sequel, so good for her.

But what really struck me as interesting was the wave of vocal supporters for the Goodfellas director. Not because of what he said, the man has a right to his opinion. After all, he’s been been involved with bringing movies to the silver screen since 1959. He’s earned his opinion. (One which is not new) No, what struck me as odd was the vitriol at which some people railed against the Disney-owned Marvel. The venom they spewed was hateful, cruel, and barbaric.

Basically how everyone who is not a New England Patriots fan reacted when The Pat’s won their last Superbowl. … But seriously NE people, y’all are really freaking annoying. You know that right? You are the definition of Sore Winners. There’s a reason people don’t cheer for you.

Image form Golf Digest

Image form Golf Digest

As all this went on, pop-culture websites and YouTube channels did as they do, covered the nothing-burger in order to gain clicks and views. Some called the situation a case of old man yelling at clouds. Some said Scorsese was trolling, or that he was jealous of MCU’s success. And as I ingested these comments and views, I started to believe that this wasn’t just an old school movie maker attacking modern trends. I think there are two issues at play.

The first, and actually least important, is: The Natural Reaction to Popular Things.

I’ve always been interested in the phenomena of why people hate on popular things. What is it that makes us, as humans, balk against whatever is popular? I think we’ve all heard, or said, something akin to:

  • That’s not real music!

  • You call that art?

  • You’re so basic!

  • You eat what? Do you even know what good food is?

  • That show is so overrated!

  • The book was better!

  • Pumpkin spice?!

But why do we do that over something subjective? What is it about things that are beloved by the populace, or at least perceived to be loved, that makes some people so angry? There is a term in psychology called normative social influence (HERE) that basically says that there is an effect due to inherent tribalism that makes people “go with the flow” even if they don’t like something. A communal sense of belonging. In other words, conformity. Another aspect is the mere-exposure effect (or familiarity principle) which as the name suggests, is the more one is exposed to a thing, the more comfortable and accepting they are of it.

Conversely, Rebellion in Group (HERE) is also natural. The thought that rebellion is a strategy of social action to overthrow the group's status quo or to adamantly oppose its revision. Beyond simple rebellion, is the iconoclast. Or, those who feel it is their imperative to tear down idols and to attack cherished beliefs or institutions. 

You know . . . like assholes.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The need to challenge the status quo is a necessity for change, good or bad, to occur. And such actions, leaders, and thinkers are a vital part of society. That being said, lifting something up doesn’t mean you have to push something down.  

Another way of thinking about it is: sometimes you have to burn down the old to make way for the new. Conversely, some people just want to see the world burn.

Image from Know Your Meme

Image from Know Your Meme

When the MCU began with Iron Man, people were skeptical. As the movies grew and became interconnected, people smiled. As they grew further into overlapping properties and team-up movies, they broke bank records and people cheered. But as the juggernaut continued to dominate and grow, that’s when the caution flags started going up. Bitter words were spoken. And then tribalism reared its ugly head.

Looking back on Scorsese’s comments, I honestly don’t think folks are trying to argue that comic movies/MCU are “high art”. I think people were balking at the dismissive, pejorative manner in which Scorsese’s words came across. But, I don’t think his comments fall into the natural rebellion model--while the jabbering squawks of the MCU haters and trolls do. No, I think there is more to it. Something deeper.

This brings me to the second part: Fear of Change.

In 2017, at the MCM London Comic Con, Anthony Mackie, “Falcon” in the MCU, was interviewed on a panel. During the interview (HERE), I think he hit the nail on the head. He said: “People used to go see the Stallone movie. People used to go see the Schwarzenegger the movie. Now they go see “X-Men”. The evolution of the superhero has meant the death of the movie star. And that’s the fear now.” Further in the interview, Mackie admits that the cost of the theater experience has gone up, while home theater technology has gone down. Coupled with other forces, that creates a disinterest to going to the movies. Or, as some think-pieces have said, the death of the cinema. Many of which would like to lay the blame at feet of superhero movies.

Perhaps these factors were what Mr. Scorsese was getting at. The fear of a named franchise destroying the implied artistic standard? A model which has been prevalent since the beginnings of the superstore overtaking “Mom and Pop Shops”. I’ve briefly written about the subject before (HERE). I was warned when I started writing books that stand alone novels were nice, but people came back for the franchises. Recognition and familiarity of characters were what made people come back. And let’s be honest, short of James Bond or Star Wars, no one else has built a franchise in name and scope quite like the MCU.

When it comes to our preferred entertainment, and the perceived value they bring, the result is almost always the same. Some may see the work as less, while others might see it as more. Inspiration comes from many places. Often in the most unique and bizarre ways. Sure, the comic genre might be a CGI nightmare of spandex and punching to some, but others might see the struggle of a hero an be inspired.

So, long story short, are the MCU movies cinema? Well, in the film-studies major, self-professed prestige-piece aficionado, tiny fedora-wearing sense . . . likely not.

Image from MeMe

Image from MeMe

But, do they “convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being”? For some, without a doubt. For others, no, they’re just fun. The level of which comes down to human subjectivity vice a standard metric.

So, I end this rambling pseudo-intellectual think piece with this, as I often do: like what you like, love (who) what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Those who try and shit on what you like, instead of just minding their own business and just liking what they like, are as I said earlier: assholes.

Image from NME.com

Image from NME.com

The Princess Bride IS Due for an Update -or- Remake Everything and Let Capitalism Sort it Out

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force. As if millions of voices cried out in terror…”

~ Ben Kenobi

 “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

~ George Carlin

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

I’m just going to come out and say it: I honestly don’t give a shit if they remake The Princess Bride. In fact . . . I kinda hope they do. Unpopular opinion, I know. And not one born from a desire to troll (even if its a teeny bit fun :) ). Just a personal opinion. Others may disagree, and that’s fair.

When I heard the talk about a possible remake, my honest first thought was: Oh, that would be cool. Then while mindlessly checking social media, I saw that the internet had lost its fucking mind. I sighed. Angry people brandishing digital pitchforks and torches shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point.

I thought of a simpler time, when the internet was for research, chat rooms, free music, and a bountiful cornucopia of porn. Alas, the ubiquity of social media on every device allows for every stray thought and opinion of others to be slammed directly in front of your eyes. What’s worse, is that online “journalism”, and even the traditional news cycle, harvests the overly-opinionated online angst like ripe crops, and shoves it back into the proverbial mouths of whatever like-minded/politically affiliated base they pander to. All in the name of clicks-to-ad revenue. (And you thought they shared your beliefs, didn’t you? Tsk tsk ;-) )

But back to the topic at hand. Once I pushed through the countless memes and legion of venom-spewing Princess Bride purists, I really had to ask myself: why not? Sure, I liked the movie. Hell, at one point in my youth, I had it memorized, word-for-word, down to the sound effects. But, what if they did remake it? Or reimagine it? That could be cool.

What if they turned The Princess Bride as a space opera? Warring interplanetary kingdoms. Westley could become a space pirate? Vizzini could planet-hop with Buttercup and Westley has to track them across various systems. Miracle Max could live on a Dagobah planet? Even the life-sucking torture scene with Count Rugen could happen on a space station that Indigo and Fezzik needed to infiltrate?

Or maybe as a 30’s prohibition era gangster movie? That could be a neat setting. Westley could be a returning war hero turned PI/cop that has to track down BC from an Al Capone-like Humperdinck?

See, I’m one of those weirdos who likes when they remake old(er) things. Movies, songs, TV, etc. I think it can be a fun way to revamp a classic for a modern audience. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Musically, I love “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (originally by Bob Dylan), “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails), “Ring of Fire” by Social Distortion (originally by Johnny Cash), and “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (originally by Judy Garland) just to name a few.

Video games get remade all the time. Bringing classic games to modern consoles for newer generations to appreciate. They fix jenky controls, make it visually appealing, and next thing you know, the old is new again.

In movies, Oceans’ 11 is a good example of a remake. And some folks even liked Ocean’s 8. While Ghostbusters 2016 was divisive, Disney remains rife with remakes (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc). And of course there is Conan with Jason Mamoa . . . which is NOT a good example.

Heh, I bet Aquabro wishes he woulda made that flick (BROnan?) now, while his star power is high as opposed to then. But, it was Apr 2011 when GoT Season 1 came out, and August 2011 for Conan. So, Drogo gonna Drogo.

Image from IMDB

Image from IMDB

She-Ra recently made a return on Netflix, with a Kevin Smith helmed He-Man on its way. Some folks bitched about it. But, my 7yr old son and I watched some of the She-Ra eps and he thought it was kinda cool.

But its always funny, to me, when the overtly vocal folks become SO ENRAGED when a movie/TV studio dares to touch something special to them. You know who I’m talking about.

“They did what???!!!! How dare they! #NOTMY[INSERT THE MEDIA THAT MAKES ME FEEL SPECIAL AND OR UNIQUE HERE]”

And it isn’t because I’m “above it”. I’m not really enlightened, or pretentious. I damn sure don’t use the words “Film” or “Cinema” to describe movies. I can even like a bad/over-hyped movie because it was “fun” (Looking at you Avenger’s Endgame. Great character payoffs with a dumb-as-F plot) And for shit’s sake, I love (and own) the extended cut of Hansel & Gretel Witchhunters. So clearly, I’m no freaking authority on what’s “good”.

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

The reason I don’t care about remakes is simple. Ready for the secret? Shh, I’ll whisper it to you: The originals still exists. No one snuck into the night and destroyed all the copies of the thing you like.  

Crazy, I know.

Maybe it boils down to it purists. People who staunchly say: “The original is the best!” And you know what, a lot of times, they’re right. And sometimes, subjectively, they’re very much wrong. Perhaps their slogan should really be: “The original is what I know best, and I don’t want someone saying the newer version is just as good/better than what I know best because . . . reasons!”

Admittedly, that’s a bit too long for a slogan.

Hell, while we’re at it, I firmly believe that the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies should be remade. Yeah, I said it. Sure, Fellowship is still pretty solid, as the bulk is filmed with minimal green screen, on location, and with tactile props. But there are certain scenes in that flick--especially more so in the other two--that look like a bad video game cut scene. And there is no real fault per se. It’s just that CGI has come a long way from when those movies were filmed. Obviously they did the best they could with what they had at the time, but certain crucial scenes have not aged well. It is really obvious what’s real, what’s a sound stage, and what is really dated CGI. To watch those now, the nostalgia goggles must be thick to ignore some cringy bits.

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Plus, a remake could make Gimli cool and not a buffoon for comedic relief

Obviously the argument can be made that entertainment media doesn’t need remakes or re-imaginations, they need original ideas. And I agree. Everyone has heard the expression “Hollywood is out of ideas.” But sadly, there is an axiom that rings true across most mediums, and one I learned early on in my writing career. And that is: stand-alone or new properties don’t sell well. Franchises are what brings people back for more.

Of course there are exceptions. Recent original, non-franchise, non sequel movies like Get Out and Us, garnered a lot of attention on the back of Jordan Peele’s fame. And Us was in the top 20 box office hits this year, #8 in fact. But here are the others, see if you notice a trend:

  • Avengers: Endgame - Sequel

  • Lion King - Remake

  • Toy Story 4 - Sequel

  • Captain Marvel - Technically new/standalone

  • Spider Man: Far from Home - Sequel

  • Aladdin - Remake

  • It: Chapter 2 - Sequel

  • Us - Stand alone

  • John Wick 3 - Sequel

  • Fast & Furious Hobbs & Shaw - Spin off Sequel

  • How to Train Your Dragon 3 - Sequel

  • Secret Life of Pets 2 - Sequel

  • Detective Pikachu - Stand Alone/loose re-imagination of Game Boy Game

  • Shazam - Technically new/standalone

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Stand Alone

  • Dumbo - Remake

  • Glass - Sequel

  • Godzilla King of Monsters - Sequel

  • The Upside - Stand Alone

  • Lego Movie 2 - Sequel

Point is, creating something “new” is hard. Many writers, story resources, and the like, have their own opinion, but the boiled down story basics and story conflict are as follows (and nearly every story is a mix and match of the following):

 Story Basics:

  • Comedy

  • Journey and Return - A story about transformation

  • Overcoming “A Monster”

  • Quest - From point A to point B.

  • Rags to Riches

  • Rebirth or renewal

  • Tragedy

Story Conflict:

  • Person vs. Fate/God(s) 

  • Person vs. Nature

  • Person vs. Person

  • Person vs. Self

  • Person vs. Society

  • Person vs. Technology

  • Person vs. the Unknown/Extraterrestrial

 As Mark Twain put it:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

So, long story short, I don’t care if a movie, music, show, whatever gets remade. Is it “boring” or “unimaginative”? Maybe. Depends on the finished product.

I’m not trying to convince someone that should/shouldn’t care, or think the way I think; that’s a fool’s errand. Obviously there are far more important things in the world to worry about then a remake of a movie. Entertainment is just that, entertaining. It can distract us from horrors and stress. And, it can even enlighten when done right (or be a heavy handed punch in the metaphorical mouth).

But when done right, a nice remake or re-imagining can be something pretty cool.

  • Westside Story is Romeo and Juliet,

  • 10 Things I hate about you is Taming of the Shrew,

  • Apocalypse Now is Heart of Darkness,

  • Lion King is Hamlet,

  • O Brother Where art Thou is The Odyssey,

  • Clueless is Jane Austin’s Emma,

  • Young Frankenstein is a comedic spoof of Frankenstein,

  • The Force Awakens is clearly a reskin of Star Wars: A New Hope

Heh heh. Oh, and don’t forget that The Princess Bride WAS a book published in 1973, written by William Goldman.

Image from Building a Library

Image from Building a Library

Point is, if you Google best remakes or song covers, you’ll find some really neat stuff you may not have known. So, why sholdn’t The Princess Bride be remade?

 . . . unless you think about it as:

a white girl, with limited agency, who is an object to be won. A prize, if you will, that is battled over by two classic stereotypes of (toxic) masculinity. Coupled with the sheer lack of ethnic diversity, the movie does show its age and biases. Come to think of it, I think Mandy Patinkin is a Chicago-born Jewish man . . . playing a Spaniard?! (ouch!). And Billy Crystal and Carol Kane are doing some kind of mockery of the elderly. Not Cool. And what the fuck is a “Holocaust” cloak? Hmm? If they meant flame-resistant, then say that. And wait . . . didn’t Westly like . . . kill tons of people as a pirate? He’s the hero? Even more, he barely knew Buttercup and left her to find his fortune while she minded the farm? Then got indignant when after 5 years she moved on? Uh-uh! She isn’t property.

You know what. Fuck this movie and any potential remake!

From Giphy

From Giphy

 :) Well, that was a bit of lighthearted fun. So in the end, love what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Besides, we can attack the REAL problem. Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds wanna remake Clue!

My Marvel Movie Rankings . . . Because . . . Why Not?

Yeah, this sure is original. Yup. Because no one else ranks the Marvel movies. (read: sarcasm ;-) ) But, thanks to THIS QUIZ (which I took while bored), it made it fun an easy. So without further ado, here it is, Gib’s Woefully-Behind-The-Times Marvel Movie List.

Note 1 - The app I used asked “Which would you like to watch RIGHT NOW”. So when compiled I agreed that #23 - #16 were tedious to watch. #15 - #11 were “oh, that’s on? I’ll watch it”. And #10 - #1 are the ones I get a excited to watch again.

Note 2 - All my comments are just my opinions. If you take them negatively then . . . they’re a joke? :)

Note 3 - All images from Marvel

hulk.jpg

#23 T

he Incredible Hulk -

No one’s favorite. Well, except maybe that one weird friend likes to be a contrarian a-hole.

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#22 Ant-Man - Sorry, the Baskin Robbins joke/Louis Pena didn’t make me laugh. Maybe I’m dead inside. But to me, Paul Rudd is as exciting as getting a new towel set. He’s fine/funny in the bigger ensemble movies though. Small roles . . . because he’s Ant-Man.

IM 2.jpg

#21 Iron Man 2 - I hated the bird. I hated the plot. Seriously, dying of ARC reactor poisoning is a 3rd movie plot, not a 2nd! RDJ is charismatic, so, that was fun at least.

.

Thor 2.jpg

#20 Thor: The Dark World - Higher than the others? Yeah, I know this flick isn’t good. But Loki/Thor are charming and Thor was my fav growing up.

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#19 Ant-Man & The Wasp - The team-up was more fun this time around. But, again, It’s the Paul Rudd towel set analogy. But now with matching washcloths. But hey, at least Wasp was better than Ant-Man in every way.

Black Panther.jpg

#18 Black Panther - Aside from cultural impact, the movie, to me, was a paint-by-numbers story. And, if I’m honest, it fell short of what it could have been. Especially when considering Coogler/MBJ’s other collaborations.

Cap Marvel.jpg

#17

Captain Marvel - My review (CLICK HERE) sums up my feelings on this movie. I felt that it reached for greatness, but didn’t have a seasoned hand to get it there. But, there a certain charm to Superhero movie: The Movie.

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#16 Spider Man: Far From Home - What? Middle of the pack? Yeah. I was honestly bored through some of it. The teen drama was like a not funny Eurotrip. The movie had its moments, but nothing that made it exceptional. The growing out of (and into?) Tony’s shadow was touching though.

Thor.jpg

#15 Thor - As I mentioned earlier, growing up, Thor was my fav. And I was stoked for this flick. And . . . it was fine. That’s it.

IM 3.jpg

#14 Iron Man 3 - This movie, sigh. It breaks so much established continuity. Ran out of power? What does that thing in his chest do then?! Anyway, I liked the comedy & action. Mandarin twist was fine.

Avengers 2.jpg

#13 Avengers: Age of Ultron - I kinda liked this flick. I liked the banter. I liked the action. I liked the Scarlet Witch a lot. Some folks give it crap, but there is a good chance they’re a-holes. :)

doc strange.jpg

#12 Doctor Strange - Goatee? Arrogant? Yes. Tony? No. Something about this generic-yet-trippy origin story makes me smile. Maybe because he’s a chump through most of it? Sadly, Rachel McAdams was wasted

IM.jpg

#11 Iron Man - Not in the top 10?! Sorry? Blame the app I used. I do love this movie. The entire MCU is the Ballad of Tony Stark. But, come on, it’s a guy in a suit punching a villain in a similar suit. But, it was funny and had great action!

Gotg 2.jpeg

#10 Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - I love me an ensemble, and the Guardians are great. Now, full disclosure, I didn’t care about Ego/Peter’s arc. But, it got me to Rocket/Yondu & Peter/Yondu. And THAT hit me in the feels. Which is why it cracks the top 10.

Avengers 4.jpg

#9 Avengers: Endgame - What is there to say? I HATED the plot. But I LOVED the emotional payoffs. And as the final note of The Ballad of Tony Stark played, I nodded. You can rest now Tony . . . sniff.

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#8 - Thor: Ragnarok - What a remarkable tonal shift. I laughed. I had fun. I threw up the devil horns to Immigrant’s Song . . . both times. There were some dumb things, and it broke continuity. But man, it was pure fun.

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#7 Spider-Man: Homecoming - Hands down, full stop: best (live-action) Spider-Man movie ever. (Spiderverse was awesome!) Keaton’s Vulture might be the best villain in the MCU.

Avengers 1.jpg

#6 Avengers - Still, one of the best MCU flicks with great team chemistry, dialogue, action, humor and heart. And, without a doubt, the WORST Captain America uniform. See there in the poster how they hide him behind Thor?

Avengers 3.jpg

#5 Avengers: Infinity War - The Empire Strikes Back of the MCU. Not only a great job juggling so many characters, but great drama and fun to watch. Sure, Pete dissolving is sad. But RDJ wiping the Spider-dust away was a metaphor for all Stark’s goals and efforts. A man seeing ultimate failure. Bravo.

Cap 1.jpg

#4 Captain America: The First Avenger - No, I’m not crazy. I love this movie. Growing up, I hated Cap. And in no way expected the jock with a banana in his ass from Not Another Teen Movie to impress me. I was wrong. Evan’s earnest portrayal won me over. And, the good guy kinda loses in this one.

Cap 3.jpg

#3 Captain America: Civil War - Some would call this Avengers 2.5. I call it awesome. Zemo and his personal revenge plan was the cornerstone for a personal story. Both Cap and Tony’s. Bonus in that this was the best portrayal of Black Panther.

Gotg.jpeg

#2 Guardians of the Galaxy - As you can see by now, personal stories hit home with me. And when this movie was pitched, folks scoffed. When it opened with a dying mom, they gasped. The comedic flow from broken person to broken person captivated me. And ending in a dance off? Well, it won me, and most of the world, over.

Cap 2.jpg

#1 Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Wow. To think the directors of this movie used to make Community episodes. This flick is an amazing call back to the classic spy thriller. But, amid the cat and mouse games, the human element was always there, keeping things personal, grounded, and in short: the BEST (imo) MCU movie to date.

Game of Throne Final Season Woes -OR- How I Learned Love Jetpacks AND Broadswords

DISCLAIMER: If you love the show or the books, GREAT! Don’t let my ramblings take that from you. This is mostly for comedic purpose. But, some of my true feelings are buried in this nonsensical drivel.

Season-8-countdown.png

At the time of writing this, season 8 of Game of Thrones is only days from airing. Like me, maybe you’ve seen tons of countdown clocks and memes in your social media feeds. People are abuzz with anticipation. The culmination of massive phenomena that began on HBO in 2011 (or those pesky written versions in 1996). 67 episodes, five published main story novels, 2 more pipe dreams of “forthcoming” books, plus comics and prequel content.

BUT, not all is well in the Land of Ice and Fire. While some fans are excited others are angry. Since the show has gone past the published works, some consider the latest season as fan-service fan-fic. Others have commented that the off screen jetpacks and rocket-powered ravens** have made them upset. Or, how the Ironborn people of Pike can make that many ships from islands that look like bleak rock.

sew.jpg

**These terms refer to how quickly the remaining main cast (and message by ravens) have been able to travel across Westeros and Essos with plot-convenient blinding speed. In season 1, it took what, a month of travel from kings landing to Winterell, and another month to the wall? Well, remember when Jon and crew were stuck beyond the wall in season 7, and Gendry ran back to some outpost, sent a raven to Dragonstone? Danny got on her dragon and flew there the next morning. (for perspective, just from Winterfell to Castle Black at The Wall is 600 miles by raven, 650 by road.)

There are defenders of these plot devices, saying that lore supports these things, or TV adaptation is required. Antagonists do as the internet does and just hates. So, nothing new there.

 But, I’m here to say: I don’t give a shit and I embrace the insanity.

I like Game of Thrones, both the show and the books, but the grand epic story was ruined for me, long ago. The moment overt supernatural and prophecy was added to the story, the whole thing became a house of cards to me.

See, the show (and the books) in the beginning masterfully blended political machinations with the ever present, creeping fear of the supernatural darkness. While we gasp at things like the Red Weddings, we are also aware of Jon Snow’s plight, for he’s seen beyond the wall. And that . . . that’s the problem. Sooner or later, all the who fucked who over (or simply who’s fucking who), won’t matter. Not when the Ice Zombies come a knocking. And maybe that’s the point. But it also undermines the core. The human element. Added to this, is the prophecy, you know, The Prince Who Was Promised. See, once we got the Fire God, R’Hollr Lord of Light pitting its avatars against The Great Other, the cold god of ice and death, then the wine sipping snark fests between uppity nobles were . . . well, blah.

image from HBO

image from HBO

Seriously, do you think I give two horse apples about the Iron Bank or the Golden Company when the King of the Ice Zombies killed a dragon with a fucking spear, then raised said dragon as an undead ice dragon? No. No I do not. Looking back, remember in the hot springs when Jamie gave that impassioned speech about why he killed the Mad king? Or Littlefinger’s deft plots? How about Tyron facing his dad in the crapper? Or Theon’s torture at the hand of Ramsey? Powerful human moments right?

Well I also saw and entire dead village of Hardhome stand up at once under the power of the Night King. I saw Jon Snow get resurrected (among others). I saw face-shifting disciples of the God of Death. The human story is drowned out by the fantastic. Fun Fact: in the books, Thoros of Myr, you know, top knot drunken red priest brought back Catelyn Stark? Although, she didn’t come ALL the way back. She was dubbed Lady Stoneheart and she hung Brienne. Yup. Neat stuff right? But please, tell me more about The Vale or the politics of Dorn.

No, please go on. Tell me more of your . . . politics. I’m sure I have another dragon killing ice spear here somewhere. image from HBO

No, please go on. Tell me more of your . . . politics. I’m sure I have another dragon killing ice spear here somewhere. image from HBO

Add to that the Three-Eyed Raven and time travel, then you have a cycle you cannot break. The past/present/future is seen. Maybe you can break the cycle, or perhaps we’re just watching/reading actors playing the parts as fate already decreed. Yes, the Hold The Door/Hodor bit was an AWESOME scene, but you may as well have had Marty & Doc zoom past in the Deloran.

I know, I know, I’m being both overtly narrow in my view while also editorializing for my narrative. I get it, trust me. But this is just my opinion. But once you add prophecy to a story, any story, “the story” is over. Meaning, like any book, show, or movie, once you see the ending coming, it’s a wait and see game. And in GoT there were only two options. You either take the political “medieval” drama to its end while you hand wave the mythical stuff/deal with it off camera (pissing off fans of fantasy). OR, you make a hard turn into the fantastical, and piss on the backbiting and maneuvering (and thus anger your cerebral nerds). Which is where we seem to be heading.

Now MAYBE, the show (or books) can blend the two and do so perfectly. And something tells me that there will be people loudly saying that it did AND didn’t (again, see: the internet). But based on what we saw last season, I think we should settle in for more giant set pieces, giant battles, and giant magic. I’m sure there will be some surprise deaths, some revenge, and a twist or two.

And I’m totally cool with that . . . Because I WANT the fan service.  

Like I said earlier, I like the show a lot. And in many ways, MORE than the books. Sorry literary fans. I know that is heretical of me to say, but I don’t care. Some epics are just too much. Like Dune, the first couple are solid, but then it just . . . goes on far too long, and diminishes the whole.

So after the better part of a decade for the shows, and 23 years of waiting for this goddamn series of books to be over, I say “bring on the fan service!” I was thrilled with last seasons events and I want more.  you know what I hope happens?

  • I hope Jon Snow rides a dragon, wooshing by, and beheads Jamie Lannister for trying to kill Bran.

  • I hope Sam tries to kill the Night King only for Gilly to stab him in the ass with dragon glass.

  • I hope The Hound fights Franken-Mountain in the Clegane Bowl. After which, The Hound cuts off The Mountain’s dick and tosses that Icelandic anaconda to Theon and Gray Worm who then battle for it. The winner takes it to Qyburn for reattachment.

  • I hope Brienne refutes Torman Giantbanes advances so that she and Sansa fall in love and open a goddamn flower shop in Dorn together.

  • I hope Danny finally tells Jorrah The Knight of Friendzone, to get a life.

  • I hope Theon beats his uncle at something, only for his sister to put Theon down after.

  • I hope Arya kills the Hound for his past sins, like killing her friend the Butcher’s Boy.

  • I hope Sansa learns to smile . . . an act (I wonder if Dark Phoenix will be any good?)

  • I hope Ned Stark comes back from the dead . . . only to die again, as Sean Bean does.

  • I hope that when all the heroes are dead and when Cerci sits on the throne, Varys and Gendry stab her. Only for them to then dissolve the monarchy and institute democracy. #MakeWesterosGreatAgain

  • I hope not only that Bran is actually also Bran the Builder and the Night King, but that the story ends with young bran sitting in bed, having been read a bedtime tale and the whole thing was a story (the Rian Johnson cut.)

But above all else, I JUST WANT THIS OVER SO I CAN FINALLY CANCEL HBO!!!!

See y’all in a few days around the internet water cooler!

~Gibby

Review of Captain Marvel: A Midling Movie -or- The Benefits of Being the Butt of the Joke

Right off the bat, let’s address the elephant in the room concerning this movie. While promoting the movie there was a plethora of comments and sound bites from Brie Larson about diversity and white male journalists. And naturally the internet exploded with vitriol. Who knew the internet was an opinionated place? But, I ignored it. I only cared about two things: the movie . . . and why is Brie Larson slowly transforming into Diane Kruger?

Images from Celebmafia and Getty Images

Before moving into spoiler territory, this is my brief, IMO, spoiler-free, TL;DR review: The movie firmly falls into the “It’s Fine” category. Nothing special. Nothing horrible. Nearly every story beat is predictable with minimal twists on the superhero movie formula. It has neat action. It has some jokes. It tries for heart, but misses. Captain Marvel follows in the wake of Wonder Woman, but without a seasoned hand like Patty Jenkins to guide the movie, it falls short of what it could have been. Influenced by other Marvel movies like Guardians and Captain America, but ends up in the mid-tier.

Okay, with that out of the way, the rest of the review will have some spoilers. Cool?

Marvel has always impressed me with casting, seeing something in an actor that could shine. If you look back, they cast the unstable wild card to be Iron Man, the banana in his ass comedian as Captain America, the unknown dead George Kirk to be Thor, and the pudgy schlub from Parks & Rec as Star Lord.

Images from Daily Mail, Not Another Teen Movie, Star Trek, and NBC

So when Brie was announced, I was excited. I loved her in Scott Pilgrim, The United States of Tara, 21 Jump Street and Kong: Skull Island. I was wondering what the Marvel casting team saw in her. But, after watching the flick, I think what they saw was her left shoulder, constantly pointing towards the camera, in a 3/4 square stance. The below pics don’t do justice. She loves to run/storm into frame, put her left shoulder forward, and make fists.

Images from Marvel

The movie is a pretty good action flick. It tries for comedy, and some jokes hit. But, you can also tell that the movie tried to be like Guardians, but with the 90’s instead of the 70’s. But, it never quite hits. (There’s even a scene where we’re in her head and Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” is playing. But since she disappeared from earth in 1989 and returned in 1995 . . . she shouldn’t know that song.) James Gunn brought a pathos to Guardians of the Galaxy and to his characters. A deep, personal pain to each of them which was masked in comedy. Something we the audience can relate to. But, the Captain Marvel movie is devoid of such depth.

The movie also tries to be a buddy cop flick with Marvel and Nick Fury, and that never really gels. And while Mr. Jackson is perfectly fine, the Fury you know from other movies is gone, and is replaced with this younger, dorky version who is the butt of Carol Danvers’ jokes and jibes. This self-described Retired Colonel turned Spy turned SHIELD Agent gets all gooey whenever that stupid cat is on screen “Who’s a widdle widdle good kitty kitty?”. (Yes, he says crap like that. A lot. And it sucks. And I have a cat.) The other sticking point is that Jackson and the rest of SHIELD, accept alien existence really, really quickly. I know the story needed to keep going, but as the directors/writers hand waved that bit away, I knew I was just along for the ride. Stuck in the backseat and forced to suffer bad choices. (see Fury’s missing eye here). This choice also retcon’s Fury’s speech in Avengers when he tells them that SHIELD is developing new weapons and tech because of Thor, and up until he arrived, they thought they were alone in the universe.

The movie is in essence a discovery of personal strength. You know, “the power was in you the whole time, you just had to believe” trope. As Cap Marvel AKA “Vers” discovers her past on earth, she starts to remember her old life, and there are actually very touching moments between her and her old wingman, Lashana Lynch’s “Maria Rambeau” and Maria’s daughter, Monica. When her best friend comes back, after 6 years of presumed death, Lynch’s reaction and performance is amazing

. . . and then, then they had to ruin it.

You see a few scenes later, the dialogue forces Larson to say something like “I don’t even know who I am anymore!!” Ugh. To which Lynch is forced into the other dead horse of bad writing by listing the protagonists superlatives. “You’re Carol Danvers! The bravest, strongest, and most amazing person I’ve ever known!”

I literally had my hand over my face during that scene in abject shock and cringe during this stilted scene. And for some reason, I couldn’t get the scene out of my head from Face/Off when Sean Archer is now wearing Caster Troy’s face and freaks out. His (Sean’s) best friend and partner Tito, has to remind of who he was. “You’re Sean ARCHER!!” You know, another black character reminding the white lead of their inner strength. Blah.

***Special shout out to Ben Mendleson as Talos, leader of the Skrulls. He chews the scenery and has some of the best lines and scenes. His character is given oodles more comedy, pathos, and depth. All this despite being forced to wear a mask that forced him to mumble and slur. Truth be told, if he was a new addition to The Guardians, I would totally be down.***


But since watching the movie, I’ve been trying to figure out what about Captain Marvel didn’t work for me. She was strong, she had some humor, she was snarky, she was committed. So what was it that made me, at best, iffy? And then it hit me. She, or likely the writing/directing team, refused to allow Captain Marvel to have humility.

What do I mean by that? Well, IMO, one of the reasons that the MCU characters have been so accessible, and thus successful, is because of their relatability and their humility. No, we’re not gods, super soldiers, or billionaire tech geniuses. But we are people who seek our father’s approval, feel weak, or mask our inferiority complexes with humor and narcissism. But beyond that, the characters are willing to be the butt of the joke.

Tony Stark blasted himself into the ceiling learning to fly while his robot sprayed him with an extinguisher. Thor was knocked out several times by being hit by a car, and even got a hypodermic needle in the ass mid-tough guy speech. Steve Rodgers was a scrawny, virgin, twerp who never learned to talk to women. Even in later flicks, Peter Quill is perpetually the butt of the joke. Steve Lang is constantly being mocked. Even T’Challa gets laughed at by his sister and his closest allies.

Carol Danvers doesn’t. She’s like a white-girl Vin Diesel who isn’t allowed to look foolish.

Think back on Wonder Woman. In DC’s first female led flick, Diana embodies power, poise, grace, and duty. But, she also has scenes of tenderness and humility. Remember laughing at her when she sees a baby? When she’s trying on dresses? Or when she marches out of the dress shop with a sword and shield? Funny stuff. Because the character was a fish out of water, there are moments when its okay to laugh at your protagonist. Because they kick so much butt later.

Image from Wonder Woman

Now maybe there’s a scene or two I’m forgetting which refutes these thoughts, and I’m willing to give the flick a second shot. But I think that by trying to make her a cinematic icon, they did a disservice by not allowing us to laugh at her, then cheer her later. I mean, even Rey got made fun of.

Image from Lucas Film/Disney

Another perfect example to illustrate my point in recent memory is Spider Man, Into the Spiderverse. The movie follows the standard superhero formula of newbie, incident, learning, falling, then succeeding. And Miles Morales is CONSTANTLY the butt of the joke. But, his story has style, flair, development, action, humor, and it will heart-punch you right in the feels. That’s why it beat Pixar for best animated movie in 2018, and why it will long be remembered when Captain Marvel is in the discount bin.

Image from Sony

I wondered if I was off base with my opinion of Captain Marvel. I am, after all, a white male (wocka wocka?). But once I started sifting through the reviews, I noticed a trend in the “left-leaning”/progressive websites. Some of them were not happy with the movie; seemingly upset that the movie was not what they had wanted it to be. On Metacritic, sites like Slate, Vox, Slant, The Guardian, Time, and the NY Post all had Captain Marvel in the 60% or below category. Some had titles like, “Finally, Women Have Their Own Mediocre Marvel Movie” (Slate), or “Captain Marvel Deserves a Better Movie” (Vox).

 Ouch.

But they aren’t wrong. 60% is about where it falls for me. I think there was a lot of potential in the movie But IMO, the short development cycle to get it out before Avengers: Endgame hurt the movie.

But, these are just my opinions. If you like the movie, GREAT! Don’t let me, or anyone else, tell you otherwise. Like what you like, love what and who you love.

Live long and strong

~Gibby