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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What You Missed-Daredevil Season 1

Matt starts out as the Masked Man
I thought it might be time to start a new series I'll be calling What You Missed, where we'll go into explaining some of the parts of geekdom that doesn't keep to the PG rating. Basically, think of this as Clean Flicks, the blog.

Let's start with Daredevil

The Dark Marvel

The Marvel Universe isn't always family friendly. Some of these characters though have fan followings of their own and the characters are part of the same universe as the family friendly Captain Marvel and Iron Man. Disney has taken to telling the darker stories as episodic series on Netflix and tend to keep them separate from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe-at least for now. Rumor has it that the Netflix heroes will make a cameo in the upcoming Infinity War movies, so its best to get familiar with the characters just in case.

The Man Without Fear


Most of Daredevil's story lines take place in New York's Hell's Kitchen, a small district in New York City. I won't bother explaining what they changed from the comics or not because with all the ret-cons and alternate tellings it's just a waste of time.

Matt and Foggy-BFFs
Once upon a time a young Matt Murdock lived with his dad, a professional boxer because when you're Irish and in New York it's either that or mob boss according to popular fiction. One day while walking down the street Matt pushed an old man out of the way of an out of control truck and accidentally fell into the trucks cargo of toxic chemicals. This resulted in Matt becoming blind, but since it was toxic waste it also gave him super senses because that's how comic books work. Matt's father is killed around a year later because he wouldn't take a fall during a boxing match for the mafia, and Matt is left orphaned.

Matt meets another blind man, named Stick, who teaches him martial arts for about a week before disappearing mysteriously. We find out later that Stick is in some sort of war that comes up more in the second season.

Years later Matt graduates top of his class and becomes a lawyer with his buddy Foggy and starts a law firm called Nelson and Murdock in Hell's Kitchen in order to help their former neighbors, all the while Matt is running around the streets at night wearing black Under Armor and a mask. Foggy is the comic relief of the show, except for an episode where he finds out Matt's secret and he's shown to be one of the emotional cores of the piece, representing the damage Matt's secret life and the lies he has to tell to maintain it causes to the people he loves.

Enter Kingpin


Bad guys are scarier when they're bald. 
The villain of the first season is Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin to comic fans. He's working with the Chinese and Russian mafias as well as the Yakuza to take over Hell's Kitchen (Okay what is in this town that is worth fighting for exactly?). Wilson is a fearsome business man with a cool calm demeanor that hides a massive temper that leads him to eliminate anyone in his way. He's an effective villain not for his vague motivation but for his intimidating presence and the actor's skill with the character. Throughout the season he courts the beautiful art dealer Vanessa, who despite showing trepidation at first to dating a crime lord, eventually warms up to the idea and even becomes his fiance by the end.

Law and Order: Super Heroes

The first season has Matt and Wilson butting heads indirectly through a series of superhero fights and court cases that crosses Matt's desk. The first case gets us Karen Page, a sweet young lady who finds out the company she's working for is secretly corrupt...somehow... and she exposes them to the press which puts her in danger. If this part gets a little vague it's because, to be honest, a lot of the story line in the first season is about Matt and his buddies trying to stop Wilson through the legal system and Matt putting on his mask and beating up his goons. A lot of the lawsuits are about trying to force people out of their homes and trying to trace money back to Wilson, but it's honestly just an annoying complicated mess. Suffice it to say that the series emphasizes the need for both the legal system and vigilante justice.

Claire- The Hero Doctor


Claire-one of the best characters in the Marvel
Cinematic Universe. 
At one point Matt finds himself unconscious in a dumpster and bleeding to death (something Batman has probably had to do early in his career) and is rescued by Claire, a nurse from a local hospital. Claire becomes Matt's on-call doctor whenever a battle has left him particularly injured, and they try to start up a romantic fling for an episode only for Claire to decide that she's better off not becoming someone else's Lois Lane.

Claire is an interesting character to bring up because she appears in all the other Marvel Netflix shows, tying all the shows together. She becomes an audience surrogate character since she is just a normal person in a normal person job.

And The Winner...

Daredevil gets a snazzy new suit-complete with horns. 
After all the fighting and legal maneuvering, by the end of the season Matt gets Wilson arrested, but not before finding Wilson's secret tailor who makes him his snazzy red Daredevil suit. I called him Matt through the piece because it's not till the end that he actually becomes Daredevil by name and outfit, which is a nice touch since few self-respecting human beings would try to go around town calling himself something from an Evil Kanevil ad. In the process Matt also managed to drive the Chinese, Russians and Yakuza out of Hell's Kitchen, keeping it safe for all the crack heads and purse thieves already living there.

While being the first attempt at bringing the cinematic universe into a darker world, the show isn't that bad considering how bad it could've been. The violence is over the top which keeps it out of the kid friendly zone, but despite that and the long courtroom drama stuff, the show is a good start to the Marvel Netflix series.

-JOE






Monday, February 27, 2017

Digimon Adventure Loose Ends

I’ve made it no secret on here that I’m a little bit of a fan of Digimon. Some of my close friends even affectionately call me the Digimon King. This weekend the fourth movie in Digimon Adventure Tri was released in Japan. Now it’s been released with English subtitles. As tempting as it is to watch it now (especially after how heart wrenching it was to rewatch part 3 this last week), but I’ve committed to watch it with a friend this coming weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking of loose ends of plots that never got finished from this Digimon universe (seasons 1 and 2). As much as I’ve talked Digimon up, no show is without its shortcomings. There were many things just left dangling in Seasons 1 and 2. With this movie and two more to go, this would be the perfect time for them to address some of the loose ends that exist (although unlikely for some of them). No spoilers for part four of Tri, but there may be some spoilers for parts one, two, and three.

Dragomon in the Dark Ocean: So in episode 13 of Season 2 (“His Master’s Voice”), we got introduced to a whole new world, parallel to the Digital World and the Real World. After Kari got pulled into this world and TK went in after her, we see a very cryptic Digimon in the ocean as the cliffhanger. This Digimon, Dragomon, is never seen again. We see the Dark Ocean again in Ken’s origin story and when Daemon appears, but Dragomon never appears again. Could we see this again in Tri? Yes. Do I expect us to? No. Not a bit.


Gennai and the Black Sphere: In Season 1 Episode 45 (“The Ultimate Clash”) we get the explanation as to why the Digi-Destined were chosen and how their Digimon, Digivices, and Crests were all put together. In the struggle that ensued when Piedmon tried to steal everything, Piedmon pushes a little black sphere into Gennai’s neck. We are never told what the consequences of this are. Is that why Gennai aged? Or is it why we have a dark Gennai lookalike in part 3 of Tri? In one of the audio dramas, Izzy mentions a black bead, but other than that we know nothing. Since we’ve got some dark Gennai, it’s possible we could learn something about this.


Homeostasis: Twice now Kari has been taken over by a mysterious force. We know that it was Homeostasis in Tri but it would make sense to assume that it was the same in “The Ultimate Clash”. Since we’ve already seen Homeostasis once in Tri, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see her again.


The Original Digi-Destined: As Season 1 came to a close, we were told about some Digi-Destined that existed long before Tai’s group. “Now Apocalymon” shows them as the silhouettes of five of the kids and their Digimon. I had hoped at one point that season 4 or 5 would be about the original Digi-Destined and their adventures. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Now that we’re back in the original continuity, we can learn something about them. I’ve always thought that TK and Matt’s dad was one of them, because of his knowledge of Gabumon in “Flower Power”, but the line in question didn’t exist in the Japanese. However, despite him being out of the running, I have read theories about Himekawa being one of the original Digi-Destined. I guess I’ll find out when I watch part 4.


The Digimon Sovereign: Azulongmon appeared in “Kyoto Dragon” in Season 2 and it was implied that there were three other divine Digimon like him. We see all these Sovereign Digimon in Season 3, but seeing as that’s a different universe, it doesn’t really count. Though I’d consider it unlikely, I’d be interested to see Ebonwumon, Baihumon, or Zhuquiaomon in Tri.


Missing Digi-Destined: Finally, there’s the thing of missing Digi-Destined in Tri. We know at least four of them are missing and no one is really questioning it. That’s weird, right? No one even thought to check on Ken until whoever that was showed up at the school festival. And no one really said anything about Ken’s D-3 appearing. I know Season 2 wasn’t as popular, but I’m hoping they don’t leave that hanging. I mean, all fourteen of the kids appear in the Season 2 epilogue, right?



Well, I guess in a week I’ll know more about all of these loose ends… or not… I guess we’ll see what Digimon Adventure Tri “Loss” has for me.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Video Game Bro Trip

Man I’m talking a lot about my guy friends lately.

I’m not usually one for multiplayer games, truth be told. While I have dabbled in World of Warcraft I’m more of a solo player, like Osaka from Sword Art Online. This habit however quickly drifts away whenever I can get a buddy in the same room to play the same game with me, an occurrence which has been happening more often these days.

A Tour of Sanctuary 
Lately this all started when my friend and I both realized that we were both fans of the Diablo series. He had only got as far as Di
ablo 2 though, but was delighted to find out that Blizzard still had their servers open and sold the game digitally for $20. After a quick download he and I were happily tearing through Sanctuary hot on the heels of Diablo and his brothers. Despite it being purely co-op the competition to collect the most gems quickly blossomed, making the game two parts adventuring and one part Dining Dash as we try to click on the shinies as fast as possible. We eventually moved into Diablo 3 where there’s less competition for the loot and more competition for who gets to kill the monster.

Pre-Disney Avengers Adventures

Before Marvel had its own cinematic universe, a few games came out in the early 2000s that capitalized on the idea of a super hero group beating up the baddies. These came in two flavors: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 and X-Men Legacy 1 and 2. While wrapping up a game of Dungeons and Dragons I started perusing the PS4 store when I came across an Ultimate Alliance bundle pack for $60. My buddy let out a squee and offered to pay for the thing so long as we got to play it together. Before long our team consisted of Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Hulk and Invisible Woman and we were laughing so hard our sides hurt for days.

Heroes of the Storm and Final Fantasy Roadtrip

 Most of my bro games were made when I was a kid, or teenager, but a few like Diablo 3 can easily become bro trips. It seems that recently game developers have acknowledged the fun of having a bunch of guys go on an adventure. Final Fantasy XV was a game I originally wasn’t keen on playing because it looked like Entourage: The Game, but after some coaxing and watching the Honest Trailer I decided to give it a try. While I wish that the traveling companions were actual players and not AI dressed for an Evanescence concert, I am having fun enjoying their friendship and adventure with them.

 Blizzard pops up again with their latest promotion on Heroes of the Storm. If you play 15 games with a friend as a World of Warcraft character, you can unlock a special mount in the game and in WoW, thus encouraging friends to play together. My buddies and I have been having fun smashing AI while my wife practices, and I’ve learned the wonders and delights of being a Fairy Dragon. At the end of the day, video games are fun but like anything else they’re more fun when shared with others, especially if those others are friends who can help you beat the bad guy and laugh with you along the way. If you haven’t had a bro-trip through a video game world I suggest picking up something (Probably from Blizzard), grabbing a friend and having an old-fashioned video game adventure. -JOE

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy 55th Birthday Steve Irwin

Today Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, would have turned 55. That’s a young age (especially for those of us who recently passed 30), but it feels even younger knowing that he passed away over 11 years ago.

The Crocodile Hunter

Steve Irwin (Left) holding crocodile (Right)
For those who didn’t grow up with him, let me fill you in. Steve Irwin was the host of several Animal Planet shows back when they still had shows about animals. As his name earlier suggests he specialized in crocodiles but also dealt with all manner of deadly and exotic animals, mostly in his home in Australia. He was unique in that instead of just filming the animal then doing a commentary over the video he would actually interact with the animals, at time risking life and limb in order to give us, the audience, a unique perspective on the creatures we may’ve never had a chance to see. His wife and daughter became part of the experience as well, though they didn’t showcase as dangerous of animals.

End of an Era

Sadly, though, Irwin passed away before his time due to a freak encounter with a manta ray while filming another episode of his show. For those of us who were fans, this came as an extreme shock to us. While he did flirt with danger (Including one episode where he received a snake bite that made a young Joe cringe into the couch), he was always respectful of animal boundaries and limitations. He was a huge advocate for animal rights, and made sure to let those of us watching what not to do when encountering dangerous animals in our own back yards.

Animal Rights 
It’s interesting to me how much of an impact Irwin had on me both as a child and now as an adult. I find myself when visiting zoos and other animal attractions looking at the conditions the animals are in and wonder if they’re happy there. While I grew up in a family that loved and respected animals, I think it was watching Irwin that helped cement in me the need to steward these precious creatures wherever they are. I think it’s also why I get so outraged when I find out that an animal is abused or neglected.

A Sad Orca

Newborn whale at Sea World seen through murky water.
The one time I visited Sea World I remember how excited I was to finally see the whales. These beautiful orcas I’d seen in movies and read so much about. When we got to the tank between shows though, I noticed one of the males floating vertically and idly bumping his nose against the bottom of the dingy pool. I asked the attendant what he was doing and she said it was a sign of boredom. To me it looked like a sign of extreme depression if anything, but to me the fact that the whale was that bored was a sign that his enclosure was not suited to his needs. I was outraged. I have yet to be back, though I was relieved to hear that they have liquidated their orca program.

When it comes to childhood heroes there’s no telling what shape or size they come in. To me Irwin was a hero because he had a passion fo

r some of the most extraordinary creatures in the world, and he did what should be a goal for everyone: he died doing what he loved.

-JOE

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dear Evan Hansen and Guy Friends


From the Playbill
Recently I was introduced to the musical "Dear Evan Hansen". A brief synopsis of the plot is that a socially introverted high schooler is assigned to write positive letters to himself by his therapist. Another social introvert and drug abuser finds one of his letters that mentions his sister and takes the letter. A day later the stoner kills himself and the letter the introvert wrote is believed to be the kids suicide note. The parents believe that introvert was their son's only friend, and so as not to add to their pain, introvert plays along and fabricates a relationship with the stoner.

The Liar Revealed 
Friends who cosplay together stay together
Its your basic liar revealed story, in the company of Aladdin, the Beautician and the Beast, and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but the thing that I keep thinking about is this one song in the play titled "For Forever". At this point Introvert is trying to explain his secret friendship to the stoner's parents, so he gives an example of the perfect day he had with the stoner. Usually this is the point in the story where the liar has to make up some lies on the spot in order to keep from being caught and is usually played for laughs but here it’s done in a different way. Earlier we found out that before the story started the Introvert broke his arm climbing a tree, and so throughout the play he is seen in a cast. In his story to the stoners parents, he talks about wandering the woods with his best friend and them climbing the tree together and him accidentally falling with his friend immediately finding him and being there. The song paints the picture of a beautiful day between two guy friends. This was the first song I heard from the play, and at the time I just thought it was a beautiful song about two male friends, something rarely heard anywhere in music without the undercurrent of “No Homo”.

An Imagined Friendship
Nothing is better than a summer day with a friend
The idea of this imaginary friendship painted so beautifully intrigued me.  It’s revealed later in the play *SPOILER WARNING* that Introvert didn’t fall out of the tree, but actually jumped in his own attempt to commit suicide. So here we have him telling a story about this perfect day with a friend and in the process changing the narrative of his own real life story from being one of desperation and sadness to one of boyhood adventure. It makes me believe that the lie isn’t just to pacify the parents but is the kind of relationship Introvert actually wants. He wanted a perfect day. He wanted to be found in the woods by someone who loved him.

What Every Man Needs


Former MG writer and I
I wonder what the story would’ve been if the two characters had been friends in real life. If they’d looked past their differences and saw each other as two lonely young men in need of a true friend, a person to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, or even just someone to spend time with. I look at my own life at all the people I met in passing and judged them to be out of my league as far as friendship is concerned, or even worse, below me. I remember the imaginary friendships I made the times I was lonely and wonder if anyone made those imaginary friendships with me. It makes me want to take a good hard look at my world and ask “Who’s missing? Who needs to be found?”
Even Aang gets photobombed
#youwillbefound

-JOE