Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Head-Canons

With nerdiness at a particularly high popularity (seriously, 10-20 years ago, comic book super heros, sci-fi, and such were lame but now everyone loves them), it's not uncommon for people to have their own little ideas about what is going on in the background of their favorite fandoms. These are typically referred to as headcanon and here are a few of the ones I subscribe to.

Remember in “Captain America: The First Avenger” when Bucky set up a double date for himself and Steve? Jenna Coleman played one of the dates, Connie. A dismissal role for a non-Whovian as you barely even see her in the movie. But to a Whovian, you’ll recall that she later played Clara Oswald, companion to the 11th and 12th Doctor. And about that, remember in “The Name of the Doctor” when Clara Oswald enters the Doctor’s time stream and starts being born all over time? Gallifrey, Victorian London, the Dalek Asylum, and many more. What if one of those splinters lived in NYC in 1942 and just happened to meet Captain America?

Another one for you: remember in the musical episode of Once Upon a Time when Zelena broke into song? She was in Oz, so I was surprised she'd be affected by Snow's wish. But what if she wasn't affected by the wish? What if Zelena is just that fabulous? It sounds kind of silly but thing about it. If any character was to break into song of their own accord it would be Zelena right? Plus, she references in her song that she'll sweep into town after Regina is victorious. If she had been under the spell of the wish, she wouldn't have remembered that plan and yet she later found her way into the Enchanted Forest while everyone else was gone. 

What if Time Lords were really wizards? I mean, we’ve seen many magical creatures in Doctor Who… werewolves (multiple times), vampires (also more than once), hags, demons, and ghosts. Of course they turned out to be aliens…. But then wizards could be aliens too right? And the sonic screwdriver? A technological wand that even a squib could use. We know both wizards and Time Lords have longer lifespans than muggles. The only question is regeneration, since wizards don’t have that power. Well, at least not yet. Give them a few thousand years and we’ll see what happens. Oh and the Time Lord academy. Doesn’t it sound a little like Hogwarts? Either that or I’ll settle for JK Rowling being some sort of Time Lady. Why? I dunno, but it sounds cool.

I've seen these on Facebook on and off and I like them. They're similar, so I'll lump them together: James Bond and Mary Poppins are Time Lords. It accounts for the many faces of Bond and it explains Mary Poppins's bigger-on-the-inside bag. Just think about it. That’s all. 

I’ve thought for years that the whole magical ability in Harry Potter is possibly genetic. Maybe it’s a recessive gene and squibs miss that gene? That would explain why after a few generations of squibs/muggles, you get a witch or wizard in the family as a surprise. So while they’re “muggleborn” they actually have some magical ancestry. I’m not a geneticist, but it made sense when I took high school biology.

Anyone who has played the Pokemon games since Platinum would remember a mysterious character called the Looker. He looks awfully like the Tenth Doctor. Same outfit and he happens to study dimensional rifts (particularly in the later games). Could it just happen to be that David Tennant’s Doctor went to the Pokémon world once upon a time before he died to save Wilf? Who knows?


So there are a few headcanons for you. Any cool headcanons you subscribe to? Any fun ways you like to crossover your favorite fandoms in your head? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Welcome Home Spidey!

At last, Spider-man has returned home.


***Spoiler Alert***: The following review may contain spoilers for the 2017 Film Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

I admit that I was almost skeptical of Spider-Man: Homecoming. After 5 Spidey movies with two different actors, how could this one differentiate itself from its predecessors, and how well would it fit into the Marvel Universe at large?

While imperfect, I give the new Spider-Man film a solid 8 out of 10.


What I Loved:

  1. Tom Holland
    • Finally we have an actor that exemplifies Peter Parker. For me, I was never a big fan of either Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield in the role of Peter Parker. I found Tobey too awkward to play the webslinger, and Andrew is too hot....and both of them seemed too old to play the part of a high school superhero whiz-kid. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Tom in the role of Peter in Captain America: Civil War and he impressed me this time around as he starred in his own film.
    • Tom owned the role of Peter instead of trying to copy those who came before him. And even though the rising star is 21 years old, it was easy to believe that he was an awkward junior classman.
    • Tom brought some emotional depth to the role that I didn't really see with either Maguire or Garfield. In a moment of real struggle for Peter Parker, I felt a level of authenticity with Holland's performance that I hadn't seen in the previous five films.
  2. Supporting Characters and Cameos
    • Ned (Jacob Batalon) provided some great comic relief as the awkward side kick and best friend of Spider-Man. The dynamic between Ned and Peter Parker was fun to watch on screen, and Batalon's character was almost reminiscent of Luis (Michael Pena) in Ant-Man.
    • Cameos by other members of the Avengers, particularly Captain America, provided some great comic relief as well, not to mention the legendary Stan Lee's classic cameo
    • Karen was a fun addition to the film...you'll have to watch and see if you agree with me.
    • Michael Keaton plays an excellent villain.
  3. Originality
    • If this had been another origin story, I would have been extremely upset. I don't know how many more times I can go through Uncle Ben's death. Marvel struck a nice balance between introducing a new Spider-Man in his own film, without re-hashing the origin story for the third time in recent memory.
    • Integrating Spider-Man into the world of the Avengers and other Marvel characters was not an easy task, but I feel like Marvel did a nice job with this one.
  4. The very end of the credits
    • So much fun when Marvel trolls the audience.....hope you enjoy it as much as I did 

What I Didn't Love
  1. Tony Stark
    • I'll be honest, I struggled with the dynamic between Peter Parker and Tony Stark. It seemed to me that any time Peter and Tony spoke, suddenly Peter became a whiney little kid and Tony came across as anything but the billionaire genius playboy philanthropist that we have grown to love in the other Marvel films in which he co-stars. While I feel Tony's involvement in the story was necessary to bring Spider-Man home to Marvel Studios, it did feel a little bit forced and awkward at times.
  2. The Villain
    • Maybe it's because I grew up on the 90s animated cartoon, but I always enjoyed Spider-Man's villains from the comic book stories. While I enjoyed Keaton's performance, I felt like we ended up with a quasi-Green-Goblin-wannabe when all was said and done, and I'm sick of anything resembling the Green Goblin showing up in the live action Spidey films.
  3. Aunt May
    • Nothing against the actress Marisa Tomei....but I could never imagine Aunt May as young as she is in this film.


Again, overall I really enjoyed my time seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming and will probably end up seeing it in theaters a couple of more times. It isn't Marvel's best, and not a Grand Slam.....but Tom Holland and director Jon Watts hit a solid home run with this film.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Fourth Doctor (1/2)

It’s been a while since I did a post on one of the Doctors, so here it finally is. Tom Baker’s Doctor is one of the most iconic Doctors, with the long scarf and his long tenure. Even with all the Doctors that have come since, there are no Doctors that have lasted longer. Because of how long he was around, I’m splitting this post into two parts to make it a little easier.


The Doctor struggled with the morality
of stopping the creation of the Daleks
in "Genesis of the Daleks".
Season 12
Top Story: Genesis of the Daleks
Ever since the introduction of the Daleks in the first season of the First Doctor, they have been a consistent and complex enemy (as simple as their design is). In this story we finally get their origin story. In addition, it’s also the first time we get a look at their creator Davros, who starts recurring almost as much as the Daleks themselves. It also left us with the great paradox of the Doctor, trying to do the right thing for the universe while admitting that he doesn’t know how “doing the right thing” will ripple through time.
Flop Story: The Sontaran Experiment
The story was shameless filler. As much as I enjoyed seeing the Sontarans again (Strax had made the Sontarans one of my favorite alien races in the show) this two-part story was a small interlude that was explicitly created to fill the gap, given the lack of six-episode stories.
Harry joined the Doctor and Sarah Jane
on the TARDIS in "Robot".
Honorable Mention: Robot
Because of how the Second Doctor regenerated into the Third Doctor, this is the first time we had a proper regeneration since “The Tenth Planet”/”The Power of the Daleks”. It was also a great interlude from the Third Doctor era into the Fourth Doctor era, as opposed to the soft reboot that the Third Doctor’s first story (“Spearhead From Space”) was. I honestly want to see more of these for regeneration stories, with the companion staying and continuity being solid, as opposed to a similar soft reboots like “The Eleventh Hour”.

Fake humans and fake city appeared in
"The Android Invasion".
Season 13
Top Story: The Android Invasion
An interesting story concept, with the Doctor and Sarah Jane returning to what they think is Earth and UNIT, but instead they are in an oversized diorama of Earth. It gave us the return of some recurring UNIT personnel, like Harry Sullivan and John Benton, who would not be seen again in Classic Doctor Who (I would still love to see Harry return in a modern story).
Flop Story: The Planet of Evil
Another story of the Doctor and his companion arriving somewhere, being suspected for disappearances or strange happenings. This formula, while effective, is repeated a bit much in Classic Doctor Who. The setting and the enemy may differ, but the stories tend to be similar: people die, the Doctor arrives, accuse the Doctor, but then the Doctor proves that he knows how to fix things. Effective, but repetitive.
Zygons didn't appear much, but it was
a great excuse to return to UNIT.
Honorable Mention: The Terror of the Zygons
A wonderful UNIT story, as The Doctor, Harry, and Sarah Jane return to Earth after their one continuous adventure in Season 12. While first introduced in this story, the alien Zygons are better known for their modern appearances, as they didn’t appear again until the 50th Anniversary Special. Great villains and I’m kind of glad they waited to use them again, because we have much better special effects for their transformations now.

The Doctor returns to the planet of
Xoanan in "The Face of Evil".
Season 14
Top Story: The Face of Evil
While never really saw the other side of this story, we get a timey-wimey adventure here, as the Doctor returns to somewhere he’s been before… or somewhere he will go. I forgot. Wibbly wobbly and such. The Doctor’s previously involvement on this planet ends up being the reason for the whole plot of the episode. I’d like to have seen the Doctor’s other adventure on this planet, but besides that it was a delightful story.
Flop Story: The Talons of Weng-Chiang
A decaying Master returns in "The
Deadly Assassin".
While this was a popular story and Jago and Litefoot got their own audio spin-off stories, I honestly just could not get into this story. Granted, it could be as simple a reason as that I was on a grave shift when I watched it and it wasn’t helping me stay awake. However, whatever the reason is, the fact remains that it dragged on and I couldn’t get into it. I’m just not a big fan of 6-part stories.
Honorable Mention: The Deadly Assassin
This was quite the unique story. No companion and just a mystery as to what was going on across Gallifrey. As well as being unique in his own right, it was also the return of the Master. While he was dying and decaying, this was a wonderful way for the writers to revive the character, despite the death of Roger Delgado. It also introduced the Matrix, the central hub of all Time Lord consciousness.

Not everything was as it seemed in
"The Invisible Enemy".
Season 15
Top Story: The Invisible Enemy
An interesting concept of having the Doctor enter his own mind to defeat an enemy. While it’s been a while since I watched this story, the intricacies of the story stick with me. Visiting a seemingly perfect place and discovering a problem is a common theme in Doctor Who, but this one felt unique to me. This one also introduced K9, a recurring companion through the Fourth Doctor’s tenure and later as a companion to Sarah Jane.
Flop Story: Underworld
Honestly, I don’t have much to say on this one. Like “The Invisible Enemy”, I watched this story a while ago and the reason it ended up as the flop story for this season is because I have such a hard time remembering what was even going on during it.
The Sontarans return in "The Invasion
of Time".
Honorable Mention: The Invasion of Time
A return to Gallifrey and surprise: the Sontarans are back. It was a Gallifreyan mystery that I wish we could have more of in Modern Who, especially with Gallifrey back now. It was also the departure of Leela and the first K9 and I was not sad to see Leela go, but we’ll talk more about her later.

Fourth Doctor Companions (Part 1):
Sarah Jane          (3rd Doctor) - The Hand of Fear
Harry                     Robot - Terror of the Zygons
Leela                     The Face of Evil - The Invasion of Time
K-9                         The Invisible Enemy – (4th Doctor, Part 2)

Innovative. Clever. Sassy. And Resilient.
Favorite Companion:
Sarah Jane was my favorite here. Easily that was influenced by first seeing her in the Tenth Doctor era and watching her spin-off show in the modern series. However, Sarah Jane was also simply a strong, complex character. She gained more depth in her spin-off, but it’s not hard to see why she was considered for a spin-off to begin with.

Everything with Leela seemed to come
back to her using her knife.
Least Favorite Companion:
Leela. Just Leela. I found her boring and one-dimensional. Everything with her seemed to be about her primitive warrior instincts. Sometimes it was used for comedic effect and I enjoyed it (like “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”). However, in general it didn’t work well. I probably have some issue with having companions from the past or other primitive civilizations. It seemed to work with Jamie in the Second Doctor era, but there’s something about having to explain basic stuff to her that takes away from the story.

More Fourth Doctor stuff to come. In the meantime, I’ve got some Pokemon stuff planned and of course the new Spider-Man coming out in July. Also probably a rant about Once Upon a Time coming at some point (It. Needs. To. End).

Though she never traveled with a version of K9, Sarah Jane was
gifted a K9 of her own (Mark III) which was later featured in
"The Five Doctors" and "The Sarah Jane Adventures".
More on that with Part 2 of the Fourth Doctor.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

He Likes to Be Asked

(This post was originally posted on my personal blog in October 2013)

This past week I finished up reading "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew".  So spoiler alert to anyone who hasn't read this (though it's been out for quite a few years now).

I mark up my Narnia books at times when I find a certain part particularly spiritually insightful. This time, the part I marked was during Diggory, Polly, and Fledge's quest to get the apple that would grow into a tree to protect Narnia from the Witch.

Polly, Diggory, and Fledge stop for the night and they realize they didn't have anything to eat for dinner. And this is the exchange that happened:

            “Well I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Diggory.
            “I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
            “Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
            “I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

For those familiar with Narnia, you know that Aslan is representative of Christ (and at times of God). Knowing the wisdom and the character of Aslan, I'm sure Fledge was right and Aslan would have known to provide the trio with food. However, I think Fledge was also right in his second comment: Aslan likes to be asked. And I believe God is the same way.

The scriptures say, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matthew 6:8) And in the Bible Dictionary under prayer it says "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them."

Sometimes I think that's what I'm doing wrong. I'm not asking for what I need. And accordingly, maybe I'm being too vague. I'm beginning to believe more and more that the more specifically I ask for blessings the more specifically the Lord can bless me (I wonder if there's a quote on that).

I guess the preliminary part to that is to know specifically what I need. It's something I've been working on in my interpersonal relationships already. What do I need from a friend? When I'm upset and I talk to a friend, do I need to release frustration or do I need advice? If I need a listening ear and my friend starts spouting advice, I just get more frustrated. And sometimes it takes a lot of introspection for me to know what I really need.

The same thing applies with God. What do I need from Him? Maybe that's why prayer and meditation often go together. Meditation helps me know what I need and prayer enables me to ask. It takes practice, getting myself to understand and tune in with myself to know what I need. But I can see how it has helped me, so I keep working on it.

I know that as I focus on my prayers and my relationship with my Heavenly Father I tend to be happier; I have bad days but I feel more firm. The more connected I feel to my Heavenly Father, the less I am "carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). When I have that connection, I feel safe and I feel loved, no matter what happens.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Review

So it’s been about 3-ish years since we last saw our bumbling band of misfits save Xandar from Ronan. When we last left them, they were off to do some grey-area-type stuff out in the galaxy. We also had the reveal from Nova Prime that Peter Quill is not 100% human. As usual, I will avoid spoilers, but if you have a super sensitivity to anything remotely spoiler-ish, feel free to check out of here and see the movie. I will recommend watching the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie beforehand, just to refresh your mind about Star Lord and his friends. Without further ado, I’m jumping in.

I liked how the movie tied up some loose ends from the first movie. We had hints of Peter Quill’s father scattered throughout the first movie, including Yondu mentioning that he was hired to take Peter to his father, Nova Prime calling his father something ancient, and Peter’s mother calling his father an angel. Assuming you’ve watched the trailers, you know that Star Lord Sr. appears in this movie. I haven’t read the comics, so I didn’t know much about this character, but he turned out a lot more complex and interesting than I first had thought.


The theme and tone on relationships throughout the movie were wonderful too. As much as these former/current criminals are crazy and emotionally unstable, I found myself able to relate to them (side note: is that bad that I relate to interplanetary criminals?). While my struggles may not have to do with killing people or stealing things, the deeper stuff going on with their characters makes them wonderfully relatable. I really felt for them as they figured out how they worked together as a crazy, dysfunctional family of sorts.

And of course the movie had wonderful comedic timing. Just like movie #1, this movie couldn’t take itself too seriously; I mean, we have a talking racoon and an angry little tree as main characters. Speaking of an angry little tree, baby Groot was likely my favorite character in the movie (though I did realllllllly like the character development of Star Lord). Everything baby Groot did on screen was adorable and wonderful, even when he was supposed to be scary. Added wonderfully to the comedy.

Even at his angriest, he's adorable.

The character development in this movie was wonderful. These characters have had some of the least attention, since they haven’t had the opportunity to team up with our other Marvel heroes (yet), but even just from some verbal backstory we’ve been able to see them grow and become better characters, over the course of only two movies. In addition, despite having so many characters in this movie, it felt very balanced to me. Everyone seemed to get decent screen time, which I’m sure helped with the character development.


So now that you’ve read this, get off your computer/tablet/phone/whatever and go watch the movie. Or at the very least go watch the first Guardians of the Galaxy to prepare yourself for this movie.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Doctor Who Review: "The Pilot"

A week ago we were blessed with some new Doctor Who after over a year without a new season. To be fair we had two Christmas specials in the meantime, but other than that we haven’t had any new Who since (spoiler alert) Clara and Ashildr flew off in that diner TARDIS. My roommate and I went to see the premiere “The Pilot” in theaters for a Fathom Events thing, so here with go with a little review. Obviously, spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to iTunes ASAP, since it is currently free. Go do it. Now.



Anyway, first off, I like the introduction to the episode. I felt like we got to see the episode from Bill’s perspective (to be clear, Bill is a girl; I’m not sure what it’s short for, with a girl, but Bill is a girl). Of course at this point we know who the Doctor is and we know Nardole. However, since the episode is from Bill’s perspective, this is an appropriate spot to start someone! While it wasn’t a very popular episode, this is kind of like the episode “Rose”, the very first episode of modern Who. In “Rose” we had Rose’s perspective as she got to know the Doctor and we learned about the Doctor along with Rose. Same with Bill in this episode. We learn about the Doctor alongside Bill. It’ll a great place to start a potential Whovian, especially since it would take watching 9 seasons to get caught up on modern Who.

Now specifically Bill. I was skeptical about this character after she was introduced in the season promo after the Christmas special. It just seems like ANOTHER young, peppy girl as a companion, instead of a unique character. After this episode, I’m cautiously optimistic. I was also worried when I heard she was going to be a lesbian, since my last major exposure to an LGBT character was Ruby and Dorothy in Once Upon a Time. That storyline just felt forced. However, Bill’s sexuality felt like a natural part of her character. Instead of being out of left field and unexpected, it felt like any other romantic involvement of a character.



I liked the pace of the episode too. Despite taking place over the course of months, it keeps plugging along. The back and forth between Bill and the Doctor is great. Bill keeps throwing a wrench into the Doctor’s clichés (took her forever to realize it was bigger on the inside). Just so much irony in her comments towards the Doctor about science fiction and everything. I liked it and it helped me warm up to her character. She’s not just a sassy young adult girl, like Amy or Clara.

Finally, there were a number of loose ends in this episode. I’m assuming they’ll be resolved, but you never know. I’m curious how long the Doctor has REALLY been at the university. He and Nardole seem to have been there for a while and they’ve been tutoring Bill for a while as well. Why did the Doctor come to the university? Why have he and Nardole been hanging out there for so long? Of all things though, I will be really disappointed if they don’t delve further into that vault they were guardians. Also, we saw the Doctor in a reflection in the picture of Bill’s mom. It seemed obvious to me that he went back to cause the ripple effect that Bill would have pictures, but at the very least I’d like them to acknowledge it.


What did you think of the Doctor Who Series 10 premiere? Any thoughts on Bill? What about thoughts on Nardole sticking around longer? I kind of like the idea of having TARDIS team again instead of just one companion.

PS: I loved the bouquet of sonic screwdrivers and the pictures of River and Susan.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast 2017: Something There that Wasn't There Before

***Disclaimer: May contain spoilers for the new film**

The story of Beauty and the Beast has always held a special place for me. I remember watching it as a little boy and my imagination ran wild at the idea of an enchanted castle with objects that were alive. It became more special for me 10 years ago when I was lucky enough to play Lumiere as a senior in my last high school musical. Hearing any portion of the music today brings a smile to my face and many happy memories of childhood and high school.

When I heard that Disney would be producing a live-action version of this beloved fairy tale, I was super excited but very hesitant. I couldn't stand the thought of such a beloved story being produced at a level of quality that was less than stellar.

My expectations were high and I kept a close eye on the cast list as roles became official for many beloved actors. And as casting began to be finalized I was excited to see many favorites from other franchises as stars of the show. I was amused at the thought of young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor / Lumiere) and Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan / Cogsworth) working together to help Hermione Granger (Emma Watson / Belle) fall in love with Matthew Crawley from Downtown Abbey (Dan Stevens / Beast).

Even with high expectations and a rock star cast, I was nervous as I walked in to the theater last Friday. And while imperfect as all films are, the live action re-telling directed by Bill Condon delivers a modern masterpiece that preserves this incredible story for another generation.

While the plot largely remains the same, the storytelling itself is where this film stands apart from the animated film and Broadway play. The audience gets more insight into Belle's childhood and more is revealed about Belle's mother, and even the prince's upbringing and the circumstances that led him to turn the old woman away on his last night as a human.

What also stands apart is Emma Watson herself as Belle. Belle is "a beauty but a funny girl," but in addition to the qualities that anyone playing Belle can bring, Watson brings out a strong side of Belle that I haven't seen before and I found fitting and worthy of her character. In addition to her beauty, love of books, and general goodness, Belle is shown as an intelligent, progressive, independent woman ahead of her time. One of my favorite scenes in the new film is when Belle sits down with another girl much younger than her and teaches her how to read. With our increased understanding of Belle's and the Prince's parents, it is easier to see how this spunky farm girl from the heart of France can fall for a creature with two horns growing out of the side of his head.

While most who play Beast are able to portray the angry, brooding character well, I found that Dan Stevens brought a level of depth to the character that I also hadn't seen before. As Stevens sings a new song to the story "Evermore," I couldn't help but feel the longing in his voice and the love he was beginning to feel for Belle.

The show is supported by a strong cast of talented supporting actors and actresses; it tugged at the heartstrings as the last petal fell and these beloved characters one by one turned into objects. The most interesting and compelling addition of supporting actors was that of Agatha, the Enchantress, and her careful placement in key parts of the story.

After having seen this story countless times on stage, I feel that it is easy for Lumiere and Cogsworth to steal the show with their back-and-forth humor, and with the fun that comes with "Be Our Guest." I was pleasantly surprised to see that Belle and Beast stole the show this time around. The strong storytelling, the unforgettable performance by Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, and her character choices help accomplish what I never was quite able to believe in previous tellings of this story -- that these two characters could really and legitimately fall in love.


From a musical perspective, I loved the orchestration of Alan Menken's brilliant score, and the vocals of Emma Watson and Dan Stevens were stunning. New songs are quickly becoming memorable favorites and I've already listened to the album a few times in the car on Apple Music. My only disappointment is that the film did not include two of the more moving selections from the Broadway play -- "If I Can't Love Her" and "Human Again."

At the end of the day, the live action interpretation of this favorite fairy tale stands on its own as a storytelling masterpiece and perhaps the best live-action interpretation that Disney has produced yet.