Tonight's the night. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally out after almost three years of production, promotion, and a plethora of "Battfleck" think pieces.
Are you excited? Because truthfully, I'm not really that excited about it. Are you planning on going? I'd be fine without seeing it in theaters, but I'll probably end up buying a ticket. Why? At this point, it's all about transparency.
As a fan of both movies and comic books in general, it seems unfair to get hype about every Marvel movie that has and will be released to the masses, but to shrug off DC's obvious efforts to compete. That being said, I don't dislike DC comic books or any of the company's iconic characters that will inevitably get movies of their own. It's just that based on writing strength, cinematic quality and all-around replay value, Marvel movies are generally ... better.
Aside from The Dark Knight trilogy, recent movies based on DC comics aren't in the same ballpark as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not even same league, or the same sport, really. Green Lantern was like watching the T-800 lower himself into that vat of molten steel for almost two hours: A slow-burning, heartbreaking death of a beloved character that was more painful for us than it probably was for anyone involved in its production.
Same thing goes for Watchmen. The attention to detail was commendable, but really, three hours of slow motion fight scenes was not as entertaining as one would think. (Does anybody think that sounds entertaining? I'm genuinely curious.)
As for Superman, there hasn't been a good movie about him since Superman II – and I'm talking about the Richard Donner Cut. The theatrical version is pure comedy, and by comedy, I mean tragedy. This is a movie with a screenplay that featured some variation of the phrase "Superman tears the "S" logo off of his chest and throws it at a dude." That sounds hilarious, but watching it actually brings about more sadness and disdain if anything.
Superman Returns had a skilled director, great cast, and the the look and feel of what a Superman movie should be. It's Achilles heel (or Kryptonite, if you will) was that it was just boring. All the scenes with Clark, Lois, and James Marsden, who once again was cast as "the other guy" in a comic book love triangle, were not interesting in any way, shape, or form.
Even when they tried to remake the "Can You Read My Mind?" flying scene from the original, it felt like Lois and Clark were weighed down by cinder blocks as opposed to romantically soaring above Metropolis.
(Yes, I know that cinder blocks wouldn't really weigh Superman down, but let's not get technical with any of this.)
And then there was Man of Steel. My friend and I checked out MoS during it's opening week three years ago, and we both walked out of the theater shrouded in a cloud of confusion. He was mainly confused because he fell asleep around the middle of it – which I don't blame him for one bit – and woke up around the climax. I was confused because, well, the movie flat out stopped making sense after a while.
After Clark spends the first hour-and-a-half brooding about his existence and working as a Deadliest Catch extra, the tone and direction of the movie took a complete 180. It was like they ran out of ideas during filming and decided to use deleted footage from Battle: Los Angeles or Skyline, or some other crappy alien invasion movie to fill the void.
Seriously, if you haven't seen it, the remainder of the movie is a long, loud, and destructive fight sequence between Superman and General Zod. We could go into how causing massive amounts of collateral damage, as well as taking the life of another, is far outside of Superman's MO, but that's already been said about a thousand times. My main issue is with it is that Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Chris Nolan tried so hard to make a psuedo–Avengers-esque, billion dollar blockbuster, that they forgot their number one goal: to actually make a GOOD movie.
I could just be salty. I could be sippin' a lil' bit of that haterade. Both are entirely possible, but not the true catalysts. Ultimately, I just didn't buy into what DC was trying to sell me with MoS, which is "anything Marvel can do, we can do better." Obviously, that hasn't been the case so far, and their recent artistic shortcomings could be an unfortunate sign of what's to come.
Maybe Dawn of Justice will be different. (NOTE: I started writing this post at the beginning of the week, intending to have it done before reviews were released and the movie actually came out. That didn't happen, as I was sidelined with sickness. Currently, this movie sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's worse than Man of Steel. Dang it.)
I HOPE that it'll be different, if not better (NOTE: THIRTY PERCENT) but until tonight (or last night, for some of you eager fans), we won't know for sure. However, I do have a few predictions on what things might, and most likely will, happen throughout the movie's two hour and 33 minute run-time (Lord, give me strength). If I get all five correct, don't say I didn't try to warn you.
1. Batman and Superman will fight, but probably not for long: It's a given that they'll square up at some point, since it's in the title. (At the same time, Batman v Superman could be the name of a hotly contested legal battle that begins somewhere near the second act. Unlikely, but an interesting angle nonetheless.)
By the looks of it, Dawn of Justice is probably going to be hurt by the same thing that used to hamper Marvel movies before the Cinematic Universe was just beginning to be mapped out: A lot of buildup, but very little payoff in the end. Take the 2005 Fantastic Four movie as an example. You knew that fight between the Four and Doctor Doom was coming ever since Doom started spittin' some game Sue's way in front of Reed. Now, I know that's probably the least evil thing that he did all movie, but there's no doubt that was one of the many reasons Reed was ready to lay hands on him near the end.
When Doom and the Four finally threw down for the good of humanity (and Reed's love life), it only lasted about seven or so minutes. Not very epic or exciting for the audience, especially since we had to sit through over an hour of clunky exposition, non-existent romantic chemistry, and a cavalcade bad special effects. In the case of Batman and Superman, they'll probably beat each other up for at least a good ten minutes after scowling at each other since the beginning. Then, as spoiled by the second trailer, Doomsday will show up turn the "fight of the year" into a ham-fisted preview for the future Justice League movie. Speaking of which ...
2. The movie will go out of its way to promote the future Justice League movie: In order for DC to keep up with the non-stop Marvel hype train, it'll have to create a great amount of anticipation for later releases. Marvel did that by adding post-credit scenes, cameos, Easter Eggs, and other methods. DC will likely try to emulate. How will this be done? No idea, but let's all hope that no cues are taken from the Dark Knight Rises School of Subtlety.
3. Lois Lane and Wonder Woman will be grossly underused: Many early reviews have praised Gal Gadot's performance as the Amazonian Warrior Princess, which is fantastic for both fans of the character and the status of female superheroes on film in general. However, I've got a deep, gut feeling that she won't have a whole lot to do during either the Batman/Superman fight or the one with Doomsday.
As for Lois, one of the most headstrong, determined women in comics, let's just say that I have already forgotten that Amy Adams is even in this movie. Not because I don't like Amy Adams, but because she's barely visible in any of the trailers or movie stills.
Hopefully I'm wrong about both of those scenarios, but knowing that the screenplay was co-written by the aforementioned David Goyer – who once said that She-Hulk, a brilliant lawyer by day, is a "giant green porn star" who was solely created to be eye-candy for pre-pubescent boys – doesn't leave me with much faith.
But from the looks of it, Jeremy Irons' version might as well be on the cover of GQ Magazine or something. Seriously, the hair, the glasses, and that vest? I see you, Mr. Pennysworth. I. SEE. YOU.
5. Not a single ounce of fun will be had: Every scene takes place in either the dark, the rain, or in the midst of some sequence of mass destruction. The only character that I've actually seen smile in any of the promotional media is Lex Luthor, who is the villain, and he's not known for being a man who smiles very much at all.
From the looks of it, the movie's color palate ranges from muted gray, to sepia, to straight-up black. Superman's trademark blue-and-red suit even looks kind of gray because of all of the dim lighting and color correction.
Again, you won't know unless you see it, but it appears safe to say that Dawn of Justice will be intense and action-packed. But will it leave you in a good place when you leave the theater? I'm willing to make it a true Daily Double and say no, it won't.
JoWhenever I turn on March Madness coverage on TV and hear that beautiful music play over and over again, it's almost as if I died and arrived at the pearly gates of Heaven. Repeatedly.
I filled out my bracket in about 15 minutes before I wrote this post (9:46 or so on Monday, to be specific), and while doing so, quickly realized that I didn't watch as much college hoops as I normally do this year. In fact, the last game I watched was on Saturday before I went to work. It was Ben Simmons and LSU getting Globetrottered by Texas A&M. To be dramatic about it, the entire experience was about as fun as watching someone get a colonic.
Here's the thing about March Madness that's euphoric and vexing, depending on circumstance: the tournament is so unpredictable, that high college basketball acumen isn't necessary for filling out a bracket, or at least guessing on what teams will come out on top. For example: one year, a friend of mine made her picks based entirely on what mascots she liked more, or colors of the school.
"That's not a good strategy," I said, self-confidently and braggadociously. She went on to have the second best bracket in our pool. I finished fourth or so. So, it was a bad year for me.
This year, I kept the picking process simple. I know that the big ballers are going to ball, the shot-callers are gonna call ... shots, and that Duke will most likely get wiped out by a lesser team. Yes, I know that they won the title last year, but I always keep a slight sliver of hope that someone will do the Lord's work and put them out of their misery early. Or rather put me out of my misery of having to watch them play.
Seriously, remember when Lehigh beat Duke in '12? The best part of that year's One Shining Moment montage was hearing the announcers shout "LEHIGH BEATS DUKE." Watching the ending to that was like drinking a glass of the tears of Coach K, Christian Laettner, and Dick Vitale, and it was delicious, baby!
As a way to conceptualize my hatred of them, I like to think of Duke as the House Lannister of college basketball. Grayson Allen is like a dark-haired King Joffrey. I guess that would make Coach K Joffrey's dad Robert? Or maybe Tywin? I actually kind of liked Robert, so we'll say Tywin. They're both equally reprehensible. Marshall Plumlee can be Jaime, except not good-looking Jaime from the first season. He's crusty, one-handed Jaime from season three. I haven't really thought this all the way through, so just bear with it for now.
Either way, I've been rather nice to Duke this year, though. I could've been savage and had UNC-Wilmington take 'em to the cleaners but from what I've seen of Duke this year, they've got a relatively solid team. They'll find a way to advance at least to the second round, where they'll probably become the DiCaprios to Baylor's Bears. Only this time, they won't survive the mauling.
Another take: I can see Kansas making it to the championship game and dropping the ball. I've never been a big believer of Bill Self's Kansas teams. A lot of it has to do with the unrealized potential of some of their players, like Cliff Alexander last year. Dude would have definitely changed the game for them if he was eligible to play come March. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that I'm still reeling from Bill's whole "Taking my talents to Lawrence" moment when he and the greatest Illinois team ever assembled were poised to win it all.
(Note: I've come to realize that a lot of my bracket decisions are based on my salt against some other teams. It hasn't gotten me far in the past.)
Michigan State has a good chance to win it all this year, in my eyes. Denzel Valentine is a big reason, but we all know that Tom Izzo is a magician. He had the most forgettable team of all time last year, and they made it to the Final Four. For real, who was on the team last year besides Gary Harris?
I wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA gods activated the Chaos Emerald and flipped everything upside down as soon as the First Four gets underway. If this were a perfectly mad world, a Missouri Valley team would come out on top.
Even madder, Bradley University would snag a seed. Maybe someday.
I don't really remember the day that I decided that I was a Laker fan very well, but I do remember what lead to that decision with enough clarity to provide substance to this anecdote.
It was 1998: Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played Stockton, Malone and the rest of the Utah Jazz in the finals. This was a time when being a fan of any other team besides the Bulls was a crime punishable by exile in Illinois.
That wasn't a problem for me. "Space Jam" had come out a couple years before, and it was my absolute obsession. So much so that for my fourth* birthday party (*maybe, I don't remember), the cake had Jordan and Bugs Bunny's faces printed on it. Naturally, as the birthday boy, I got to eat the largest chunk of Jordan's championship-caliber dome piece. It tasted like success and competitive spirit, but mostly cake, cause that's what it was.
Jordan "retired" after game six of the finals and that legendary Bulls team was swiftly dismantled, so I was all of a sudden out of a team to root for. Naturally, any true fan would stick with their team through better or worse, sickness and health, curse or no curse, etc. However, I was a child, so loyalty meant nothing to me.
Anyway, long story short, the Lakers signed the Big Aristotle himself, Shaq, in 1996. They also drafted high school phenom Kobe Bryant that same year. Kobe was on the cover of an N64 game I owned – fun game, but the players looked like stick figures that ran like they were constantly about to poop on the court – and Shaq starred in the overlooked gem in the mud "Kazaam" around the time he signed with the Lakers. Both of those were things that I loved back then, so it didn't take long for me to decide that the Los Angeles Lakers would be my new favorite team. Plus, they starting winning championships around the time I hopped on the wagon, so it was all cosmic.
Fast-forward to now: The Lakers (as of the time this post was written) are 11-48 for the season. We've got talented young players, but a coach who doesn't know what to do with him. The most useless dude playing the most useless position in the league right now, Roy Hibbert, is taking up space on the floor and cap space. Nick Young is STILL in the NBA and still in a Laker jersey, which flabbergasts and frustrates me to no abound.
And Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players to ever step on hardwood, is retiring at the end of the season.
I mean, I get it. He's pushing 40, and doesn't have the same venom running through his veins these days. His stats prove it (he's averaging 17 points a game on 35 percent shooting), so I'm not trying to make the argument that he should stay another year or anything. Quite the opposite, actually. It quickly became apparent during the beginning of the season that this was going to be one of those seasons where Kobe's going to take all the shots because no one else is worthy of doing so.
Normally, I'd be okay with that. That used to be primetime television during my formative years, because no matter how ridiculous of a shot it was, Kobe always found a way to make it count. But not anymore. Today, we're so past his prime, watching him shoot a lot doesn't have the same effect that it used to. Primarily because he's missing 65 percent of those shots, and if this were another NBA player of a similar age to Kobe, I guarantee he wouldn't be in the Association right now.
He'd probably be kicking it with Stephon Marbury in Beijing, which is a decent paycheck, but not the same level of competition. That's another story for another day.
The point here is that ultimately, as much as it hurts me to say this, Kobe needs to either speed this whole retirement thing up or I just need to stop following the Lakers until the season ends, because this is becoming unbearable.
The Lakers are bad this year. Like, REALLY bad. Washington Generals level wackness. Instead of putting all of their attention on improving the team, or at least making it easier to enjoy the games this season, they're giving Kobe a farewell tour until his last game.
Don't get it twisted, I'm not against giving Kobe his due. I mean, this is someone who took mediocre squads with Smush Parker at the helm to the playoffs TWICE. And I'm well aware that Smush, as bad as he was, wasn't the only reason those seasons were rough. Chris Mihm, Kwame Brown, and Luke Walton were just as reprehensible. It's just that if you call yourself "Smush," you're basically are putting yourself on the front line to be hated on.
Hypothetical: Imagine you and your friends are hanging out, and someone spills soda on your parents' new carpet. Who's the first person you're going to look at? Smush. Why? Cause he actually introduces himself as "SMUSH." He went up to your parents and said to them, "Hi, I'm Smush," and expected to be taken seriously. That's the only argument anyone will ever need.
Anyway, Kobe has had a phenomenal career, and he deserves to bask in all of that at some point, but not right now. There's still a whole second half of the NBA season to play through, and while the Lakers are obviously not going to the playoffs, we should at least try to focus in finishing the season strong. If winning isn't in the cards, which happens, management at least needs to show that they're TRYING to do something.
But, because everyone's so wrapped up in Kobe-mania, that ain't happening, and that frustrates me. Not only because I hate to watch my team lose games that we probably should win, but also because Kobe does not deserve to go out this way.
If we're just going to pretend that Jordan's tenure with the Wizards never existed, which I'm okay with, he retired on the high note of winning his sixth NBA championship. David Robinson, the Admiral, ended his career with an NBA championship. Adam Morris-- ADAM MORRISON ENDED HIS CAREER WITH AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT KOBE'S GOTTA END HIS PLAYING BUSH LEAGUE BALL WITH THE HOMIES?
Seriously, Calvin Cambridge couldn't help this team get to the playoffs. Jesus Shuttlesworth would look like a false prophet trying to keep this squad near .500.
Lakers management has failed the Mamba so badly. Trading Andrew Bynum was the first straw, bringing in Dwight "Charmin" Howard was the second, and then hiring Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson was the one that broke the camel's back, legs, and humps. Everything revolving this team is so broken right now that Humpty Dumpty could take a look at one game and think that his life wasn't so bad.
Why would you bring in Lou Williams when you already have Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson? Why would you trade Jordan Hill, an energetic, skilled center (when healthy), for Roy Hibbert, the man with the skinniest legs of all time? WHY WOULD TAKE D'ANGELO RUSSELL OUT OF THE GAME BECAUSE HE WAS SCORING TOO MUCH?
Most importantly, why would you give Kobe all that money and power during his last contract negotiation when you knew that he was nowhere near the player he used to be? I know he's a little intimidating, but do people really expect me to believe that no one in management had the audacity to suggest that he take a smaller paycheck to ensure that he'll win games?
That he really just went up to the office and was just like, "Give me all this money so we can't sign anybody but Earl Clark and Chris Duhon"? That's an exaggeration, but that's basically what happened after he re-signed. You trying to say nobody suggested taking a cut to bring in some help? I'm sure that's what happened, but it's just unbelievable that the Lakers brass is that stupid and spineless.
They're just wasting money, and assets, and potential free agent signings. AND MY PATIENCE. They're also throwing away the final season of one of the greatest Laker's of all time.
It absolutely pains me that Kobe has to walk away from the game with the Lakers in so much disarray.
It almost makes me wish that he just waited until the season ended to say that he was retiring. That way, watching this whole experience unfold would be less detrimental to my health.
But he didn't, so every Laker game will be spent showering Kobe with goodbyes and reminiscing on the past instead of focusing on the present. A present in which the Lakers are 11-48, and not improving any time soon.
I love Kobe, but I love basketball more, and watching the Lakers play ball this year has made me hate the game for the time being. There's no fun in it, and it's not because they're losing. I can handle losing. It's because right now, they're not even trying to set the team up for success. This is not a rebuilding effort. This is a "let's wait until Kobe's done and then we can try do new stuff" effort.
So, instead of toughing it out until the end of the season, Kobe should just retire now. That way he'll get the final ovation he deserves, and the Lakers can start looking toward the future, which looks bright with the young guys they've got on the roster.
But, alas, that will not happen. So, here's to the rest of the Lakers' season. Hopefully they don't push me to break a television screen any time soon.
Let's be real, compared to the Oscars and Emmys, the Globes are basically the "Attack of the Clones" of the three – crappy dialogue and all. But ultimately, I'm a festive guy. so in the spirit of awards season, here are my predictions for winners on the film half of the 2016 Golden Globes. There's really no clear cut frontrunners, which will make for an entertaining ceremony.
BEST MOTION PICTURE (Drama): "Spotlight" – To me, "Spotlight" appeals on two levels: as a journalism guy and as a fan of movies. Well acted, well written, and it provides a great argument for why we need journalism in a world full of lies.
BEST MOTION PICTURE (Musical or Comedy): "The Martian" – I haven't gotten a chance to see it yet, but if all the hype behind it is real, snagging the Globe should be a lot easier than creating water and food on Mars.
BEST ACTOR (Drama): Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Revenant" – From what I hear that dude went through to film this, he should have it in the bag. Like, having to go out in public with that beard and haircut? I couldn't do it.
BEST ACTRESS (Drama): Cate Blanchett for "Carol" – Because Cate Blanchett.
BEST ACTOR (Comedy): Matt Damon for "The Martian" – This man willingly went to Mars, and stayed there for months with no nourishment or other humans, all for our entertainment. He deserves to be recognized for that dedication.
BEST ACTRESS (Comedy): Amy Schumer for "Trainwreck" – This is a long shot, but I wouldn't be surprised if she won based on her current popularity (i.e. Jennifer Lawrence). It would do a lot for the HFPA publicity wise, and Amy will probably act a fool during her speech, which is all good for ratings. That's not to say that she wouldn't deserve the win. "Trainwreck" was hilarious, and she was great in it. I'm just thinking politically.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Shannon for "99 Homes" – Personally, I think that he should have won for this, but this nod is a good way to make up for the HFPA's past mistake.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Alicia Vikander for "Ex Machina" – Again, another long shot. "Ex Machina" is a fantastic movie, and one of my favorites of the year. Her performance was so chilling and convincing, she very well may be a robot.
BEST DIRECTOR: Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight" – This is a safe choice, since "Spotlight" is going probably going to be the main frontrunner for the Oscars this year, but there's really no sure guess on how this one will go. "Mad Max" is an impressive feat of filmmaking, and so is "Revenant." "Martian" is a welcome, and long-needed return to form for Ridley Scott, and I don't know much about "Carol," but they say it's really good. We'll have to see where it goes.
BEST SCREENPLAY: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for "Spotlight" – Normally, I always bet my chips on Tarantino whenever he's nominated, but "Hateful Eight" isn't his best work. It's good, but not "Django" or "Inglourious Basterds" quality writing. "Spotlight" did a stellar job in retelling this very real, very emotional story without making complete heroes out of the main characters. They may have done a great public service, but they weren't perfect. It's a step above the standard Oscar-bait biopic.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Alexandre Desplat for "The Danish Girl" – These are all really good scores, but you can never really go wrong with Desplat, mainly because he typically invokes all of the emotions and senses in his work. The snippets I heard from "The Revenant" were amazingly atmospheric, and it would be sweet to see Ennio Morricone win for "The Hateful Eight," mainly since it's the first movie he's worked on in years, but Desplat just feels like the right choice.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "See You Again" from "Furious 7" – Can you imagine saying the phrase "Wiz Khalifa has a Golden Globe"? I can, and I can't, but ultimately, I think he's got this one wrapped up.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: "Inside Out" – THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: "The Brand New Testament" from Belgium, France, and Luxembourg – I don't know what this is, but my usual criteria for choosing foreign film is picking the one with the coolest name. This has yet to work out.
I recently checked out Let's Be Cops on TV, and I don't know how to feel about it. Basically, the plot is about two dudes from Ohio who aren't cutting it in Los Angeles, so in an effort to redefine themselves, they pretend to be police officers because … reasons.
Ultimately, it wasn't that good, but it also wasn't that bad either. The funniest scene in the movie came in the first 30 minutes. Everything that followed was a visual representation of the word “Meh.”
Most of the humor stems from the chemistry between Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr, and if you've seen New Girl, you can probably guess that it comes easy for them. But how can the dynamic between two funny guys anchor an hour-and-a-half long movie?
Spoiler alert: it can't. However, it doesn't really hurt that the main characters are immensely likable. That was basically the only thing that kept me from switching to a Family Feud rerun after the first 10 minutes. Everything else about it could (and probably should) have been better.
This seems to be the ongoing trend with most comedy films these days; Filmmakers put all of the effort in casting the right people for the roles, but little-to-no work is put into the script, visuals, or direction.
Y'all ever hear the phrase "Dying is easy, comedy is hard"? That's a fairly accurate statement, as anyone can die on screen and make it look convincing and compelling. Well, maybe not Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises, but most actors can.
Getting people to laugh, on the other hand, takes a lot more than just telling jokes or making silly faces. It involves timing, delivery, body language, inflection, etc. The same goes for movies as a whole: It doesn't require much to bring someone to the verge of tears during one, but to make people cry tears of joy is a borderline science.
My problem with most comedy films today is that very few directors, writers, and actors seem unwilling to study that science and allow themselves to experiment and work towards creating a successful comedic formula. It's all about the money to them; not about the art.
That doesn't go for every major comedy director, of course. You ever watch an Edgar Wright movie? Like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or my personal favorite Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? If you want a crash course in what a great comedic flick should be, check out all of his work.
Wright's fantastically frenetic usage of camerawork, physical humor and witty dialogue at mach five speed is engaging and entertaining, but most importantly, it's actually funny. Plus, his dedication to getting each scene just right is a testament to how serious he is about comedy (Is that an oxymoron? I can't tell).
For example, check out this outtake from Scott Pilgrim: In the movie, Scott immediately throws a package he ordered from Amazon in the garbage (He only ordered it so Ramona would come to his house). The thing is, the wastebasket is behind him, so he throws it over his shoulder without turning around.
It's hilarious, but also impressive because the toss wasn't achieved with CGI or other forms of cinematic fakery. Michael Cera actually threw the package from over his shoulder and into the garbage can.
Unless you're the Stephen Curry of tossing things into wastebaskets, this is not an easy feat. The 25-plus tries it took Cera to complete the shot is also plenty of evidence to demonstrate Wright's determination to sell the joke.
I don't want to sound like I'm completely jockin' for Edgar Wright, (even though I gladly will whenever necessary) but my point is that more comedy filmmakers should try to approach their work with the same energy, inventiveness, and artistry that he does.
Poop jokes and pratfalling are great in moderation, but if that's what' people expect to keep their movie buoyed above the surface, I'm sorry, but it's probably going to be sub-par – Or in some cases, just flat out suck.
I don't expect my opinion to make any impact on the landscape of comedy films down the road, but as a fan of both movies and laughter, I hope that something changes soon.
After all, I don't know how many more Pixels or Drillbit Taylor's my cheerful disposition can handle.
I'm just going to come right out and say it: post-grad life is kind of weird.
The amount of freedom and down time that I've had this past week has been necessary and much needed, so I'm not complaining about that. Quite frankly, I'm just not used to having so little to do. No matter how hard I try to bum out, I always have this urge to get up and do something productive. It's basically like I'm living some weird form of purgatory, but I've got family and friends around, so it's really not that bad. It's ultimately an adjustment that I need to get used to for the time being.
Aside from the stagnancy and a minor injury (I recently found out that I pulled my groin, which is probably the randomest diagnosis I've ever received), I really can't complain that much. Life is good, y'all. I don't know if you read my senior column for The Scout, – which I will once again shamelessly plug again here – but I was fairly nervous about walking across the stage last Saturday.
Uncertainty dominated my thoughts for most of the time leading up to the ceremony, but I'm now happy to say that a lot of those nerves and butterflies have disappeared for the time being. Don't get me wrong, I'm still broke and swimming in debt, but I've got an internship lined up for the next few months, which will give me a piece of piece concerning the job search.
It's an exciting time; Not only for myself, but for many others who have recently graduated, will graduate soon, and are about to take big, life altering steps in their lives. What'll the future hold from this point on? Only time will tell, and I don't know about you, but I'm excited to find out.
On a somewhat related note, one of the best things about having a lot of free time is that I can now chill out and watch movies I've wanted to see, or catch up on TV, or read, etc. Here's some stuff that I've been watching/reading/listening to that I'd highly recommend (or steer you away from) for your own media consumption at some point.
"Jurassic World" - Obviously, it's nowhere near as magical, suspenseful, and intriguing as the OG, but it's still an enjoyable sequel. It's exciting to see the park finally come to fruition, even if everyone involved with it is still stupid enough to believe that a theme park with live dinosaurs is still a good idea. The tears of their failure will never stop being delicious.
"Jessica Jones" - Krysten Ritter and David Tennant should receive every award possible for their work. This is hands down the best Marvel adaptation I've seen so far for reasons that you should just check out yourself when you get the time. Plus, LUKE FREAKIN CAGE. Bruh.
"Seconds" - If you've never read a graphic novel, this is a good one to start with. The artwork is cute, colorful, and dynamic and the story is effortlessly intriguing. Plus, it's funny, but in a subtle way. Is it funny enough to make you LOL? I think so, but I can't gauge your humor through a computer screen.
That's all he wrote for now. Until next time, y'all.
It's hard to believe, but in less than 24 hours, I'll be turning 22 years old.
Naturally, I'm excited, as birthdays usually bring fun times and memories with family, friends, and a flurry of Facebook posts to read through. However, I'm also a bit contemplative and self-reflective this time around, as turning 22 also brings a lot of important life junctures with it.
My college career is almost over; I've got one more semester at Bradley before I graduate and become an adult in the real world. From then on, I'll have to get a job, move out on my own, and start doing all of the other things that are part of the experience of being an independent citizen.
With all of the responsibility that comes with growing older, it frequently prompts me to think diagnostically and ask myself this question: What lessons have I learned throughout my life that have helped shape who I am today?
It's a (fairly) simple question, but the task of coming up with a few solid answers is far from simple, as all kinds of experiences and influences have helped mold the clay of my being since birth.
For example, I've learned to say always say "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" whenever necessary during my interactions with others. I've learned that it's not polite to point, despite the fact that sometimes I still
manage to do it anyway for dramatic effect. Also, after a variety of painfully awkward experiences as a pubescent teenager, I've learned that a lot of girls don't really like it when you ask them out over text messages or MySpace. (My bad, ladies. I didn't know any better back then.)
But if we're going to look at things through an IMAX-width lens, I'd say there are three lessons that have had the most impact on me up to this point:
1. Trust God - When I attended Sunday School as a little one, I fondly remember ending each session with those in attendance, from children to adults, gathering in the large, white-walled fellowship hall of the church and reciting Proverbs 3:5, which reads "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lead not into thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path."
I didn't really embrace the meaning of this verse as a kid, as back then it was just something I memorized due to saying it so much. As I got older, and really started to understand what it means to have an intimate relationship with God, it started to click for me that this was more than just a series of words stringed together because they sounded nice. Instead, it's an instruction for me to stop putting my faith in myself so much and to start putting it in the Lord instead. This isn't an easy thing for me to do, as I like to be in control of pretty much everything in my life, but it's proven to be more beneficial to me than harmful, which is why each day I learn a little bit more on how to step back and let God to do his thing.
2. Kindness is key - From a young age, I've realized that not every interaction that I have with other people in our society is going to be a positive one. It makes me sad to think about, but unfortunately, that's just how it goes. In order to come to terms with this realization, I've become a major proponent of the "Golden Rule", which is to treat others in the manner that I'd like to be treated.
I prefer to be treated with kindness and respect, so I make it my duty to do the same for everybody I come into contact with on a daily basis. It's draining sometimes, as some make it more difficult to be kind to them than others, but in the end, one act of kindness a day can positively impact someone for years if they allow it to, so I won't be stopping anytime soon.
3. Express yourself - I used to be a real "wear your heart on your sleeve" kinda kid growing up. I was quick to emotion and reaction and slow to a logical thought process; a combination which frequently got me in trouble and put in embarrassing situations. As the years went by, I purposely started to change that about myself. I began putting on stoic poker faces and became more quiet and introverted as a way to protect myself from people calling me "soft" or "sensitive." I wanted people to take me seriously, so in order to do so, I became somebody that I'm not.
I didn't notice it back then, but doing this was more hurtful than helpful, as I started to disconnect myself from my emotions, which ultimately took away from my ability to fully enjoy life's experiences. Life is a beautiful thing, so why should it be treated any differently? I'm re-learning how to embrace who I am and express how I feel every day that goes by, and quite frankly, I don't understand why gave any of that up in the first place. Life is too fragile to close yourself off from it, so I'm going to continue to be as open with myself and you guys as much as I can from here on out.
I could write a novel about the things that life has taught me, but I currently don't have the time or the attention span to do that. Instead, I'm just going to let my actions do the talking while I continue to take note of life's little lessons as I look forward to year 23.
9. The Aviator (2004) - Dir. Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Not to be confused with the 90 minutes of hot garbage starring Christopher Reeve who, despite being Superman, couldn't save it from sucking, this Aviator is about Howard Hughes, his rise to fame, and turbulent struggle with OCD.
It would be pretty standard, award season fodder if someone else were in the cockpit, but Scorsese's striking direction and the myriad of fantastic performances from the cast (Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for portraying Katharine Hepburn; poor Leo, as usual, went home empty handed) are what really makes the whole thing pop. My favorite moment is when Hughes crashes his XF-11 prototype while on a test flight in Beverly Hills. It's terrifying, it's claustrophobic, and painful to watch at times, but it doesn't fail to exhilarate.
8. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - Dir. Frank Darabont, starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
I'm just gonna come out and say it: Shawshank was robbed during awards season. It was nominated for seven Oscars, but didn't win a single one, as Forrest Gump cleaned house.
I like Forrest just as much as anyone else, but to say it was a better movie than Shawshank is pure, unadulterated blasphemy. Even Pulp Fiction, which was also nominated for best picture that year, was a more deserving option. Alas, the past is the past and it can't be changed, but that doesn't alter the fact that this will forever remain a masterpiece of modern cinema, and will constantly serve as a reminder of what a beautiful thing hope can be during our most hopeless moments.
7. The Rocketeer (1991) - Dir. Joe Johnston, starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton
Due to its box office failure, this wannabe Disney blockbuster never took off is many had hoped, which is a shame, because it's wonderful.
It follows daring test pilot Cliff, who unwittingly gets his hands on a prototype jetpack designed by Howard Hughes (I'm starting to see recurring themes within some of these movies), and becomes caught in the middle of a conflict between the FBI, the Mob, and the burgeoning Nazi party.
Rocketeer has a real "gee-whiz" quality to it; everything from the visuals to the dialogue are as innocent and adventurous as the movie serials of old, and the film remains a great adaptation of the comic books that inspired it.
It's been rumored that Disney is working on producing a reboot for new audiences to become acquainted with the high-flying hero. The initial plans for a sequel were scrapped after the original under-performed, but these recent developments only give me hope that the Rocketeer will one day take flight again.
6. Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003) - Dir. Quentin Tarantino, starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox
This one definitely falls under the category of "I shouldn't have been watching it when I was 10", but I ain't mad that I did.
While Tarantino is normally lauded for his rich, engrossing dialogue, the first movie in this duology pushed that aspect of his repertoire to the back seat in favor of his other, more polarizing strong suit: violence. The Bride's quest to get revenge on her former comrades in blood is, well, a bloody affair - and as easy as it can be for blood to turn some away, Kill Bill 1 makes it difficult to stop watching (or, at least that's how it was in my case).
Tarantino's always been the kind of guy to make movies that will entertain audiences, but most importantly, they would entertain himself. And while Kill Bill is far from his best movie, it's also his most fun, which leads me to believe that he had a great amount of fun bringing the whole bloody thing to life. It's fast, it's furious, and it's filled with a flurry of references to the kung-fu flicks of old, making its almost two hour run-time seem far shorter than it really is. It's all good though; that makes it easier digest when it comes to multiple viewings.
Note: There are some movie spoilers within this post (kind of). Skip over them if you're not about that life. Also, a couple of the links are to film clips that feature classic Tarantino violence and dialogue (which means there's a lot LOT of foul language), so click them at your own discretion.
There's a scene from Pulp Fiction, an all-time favorite movie of mine, that I've replayed frequently in the cinema of my mind for the past few days.
It's during the final act, when Vincent (Travolta) and Jules (Sam Jackson) are causally eating breakfast, discussing the hilarity that ensued after Vincent accidentally shot poor Marvin in the face earlier that morning. Slowly but surely, the conversation manages to return to an even earlier topic, the one of divine intervention and miracles, to which Jules says prevented them from being gunned down during a hit. Vincent, ever the skeptic, doesn't buy it.
The banter between the two goes back and forth until Jules boldly proclaims that he no longer wants to live the life of crime that has defined most of his adult life. He wants to give it up, go off the grid, and "walk the earth, like Caine in Kung Fu". He wants to go wherever God directs him to go, and won't stop until His will has been done.
Let me tell y'all something: I loooovee this scene! Not only because it's a fine piece of cinema, but also because of how well it resonates with me concerning my own walk with the Lord. I've believed for a long time that no matter what higher power or force you subscribe to - whether it be God, fate, karma, luck, cosmic alignment, etc. - there are always some things in life that are just simply out of our control. And when those things happen, we have the choice to either accept them as signs or to continue treading down our own self-made paths.
Looking back on these past couple years, It's become obvious to me that following God's plan was the last thing on my mind. I found myself frequently worried, angry, confused, lonely, and aimless after several circumstances like break-ups and financial situations and uncertainty about my future plagued my thoughts and kept me suppressed in an internal prison of my own creation.
I was trapped, and it wasn't until the eve of New Year's Eve when I was reminded that the key I was searching so hard for had been looking down at me throughout my entire period of self-struggle.
During IndyCC, a conference I attended with my friends and 2,000 students from other Midwest universities, I was able to confess my fears, doubts, and insecurities to another individual (whom I had never met before). Instead of judging me or chastising my weakness, he took a moment, put a hand on my shoulder and prayed for me. He then prayed with me, and afterwards, he embraced me... and it was at that moment when everything became as clear as Larry Bird.
The rough period I had been going through created a lot of pain and frustration in my life, but maybe it was something that I needed to experience. It humbled me, educated me, made me a little wiser, but most importantly it refocused me, reminding me that I need God's love and guidance now more than ever. There's only so much that I can do on my own; the rest is in His hands, and it's up to me to answer when He calls.
So as we get 2015 - the 22nd year of my existence on earth - underway, I've made it my resolution to be more like Jules. Not the whole "contract killer" aspect of his personality, but I want to be more receptive and observant of what God is leading me to do with my life. It may not be easy, and I may not want to do it all the time, but what else can I do? The Lord has been with me all the way to this point, so the least I can do is quiet down, listen up, and see where he takes me from here.
I'm just going to keep walking. And if it takes forever for God to tell me where to go next, then I'll walk forever.
The second act of the 11/7/14 edition of "This American Life" focused on a concept that I've found fascinating for a long while: time-travel, and listening to it only ignited the flames of my passion (or obsession, if you will) to peak levels.
As a kid, the moment I laid my myopic eyes on the quintessential time-travel movie Back to the Future, I knew that I was forever hooked. I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to take the DeLorean for a spin and speed along the rocky road that we call the space-time continuum, taking in the various sights and sounds of past periods of history and sneaking peeks at what's yet to come.
However, now that I'm older and (slightly) more grounded on the subject, I realize that while time-travel remains an exciting prospect, it also can be very dangerous and restricting when it comes to what you can and cannot do when visiting another time period.
For example, any form of interaction with my past self/other people or altering events would be out of the question, as the even slightest changes made to the past could lead to a drastically different present and future for more than just myself (As seen when Biff stole the 2015 Sports Almanac in BTTF, Part 2).
Altering the future, on the other hand, wouldn't be as catastrophic due to the fact that, well, the future hasn't been written. So if I were to travel to the year 2025 to see what I'm up to around then, and in true Jaylyn fashion I knock over a glass of soda or something, I wouldn't have to worry about returning to 2014 and noticing that the world is being overtaken by mutant frogs or anything in that vein. (Although it could cause some sort of weird paradox... thing, and that wouldn't be very good either.)
With all of that being said, maybe my obsession with time-travel is more of a "love-hate relationship" kind of thing. There are various possibilities that could come with it, but at the same time, the amount of limitations it imposes only allows the traveler to be an observer. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but in the words of Scott Pilgrim, that's kind of "booorrrinnngggg". Despite that fact, it's probably for the best.
As much as I'd love to go back and give myself helpful advice like "Don't cut your own hair with a rusty pair of scissors", or "Start saving money for college at an early age", and even "Don't go see The Last Airbender in theaters", experiencing the consequences (some good, some bad) has been beneficial to forming the kind of person that I am today. I kind of like who I am, and I don't really plan on changing any time soon, so I guess I'll have to live with the realities of my fantasy.
That doesn't mean I won't be the first person in line if society ever figures out a way to make time-travel work. The Hoverboard is slowly making progress into existence, so who knows? A real life flux capacitor could be on it's way as well.