As most people do, I normally will watch a trailer to a movie or tv show to see if it piques my interest. Sometimes the trailer makes it out to be better then what the show actually is. I also try to remember, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
I try to watch the trailers to TV shows and about 75% of the trailers I watch are a “NOPE, next!”
This got me thinking. Am I missing out on some good content because I base whether or not I like it within the 30-60 seconds? So I put it to the test and did not watch the trailer for this tv show.
So I hopped on Netflix and scrolled and clicked on a random title called Locke & Key.
Does it help to watch trailers? We shall see.
Ok, the opening was good, although it started out kinda slow. My thoughts were, “great this is going to be a long 55 minutes.” Just as that thought left the opening went a little darker. When I say darker I’m not talking about flipping a light switch and the room is dark. I’m talking about it started looking like it might be a horror-related tv show. The once plain, cute little titles are now dark and bold!
I won’t give too much away just in case you choose to watch this show. What happened next grabbed my attention. I now was curious to see how this played out. I’m 3:25 into the 1st episode and I think this just may be interesting enough for me to keep watching. From a kinda boring opening to a quick turnaround within the first 2 minutes of the show, the odds looked good.
After 11 minutes into the show, I’m very intrigued. To be very brief, it seemed like a family of 4 moved maybe from the city to a small town. Slow, but there was a part that gave me a sense that this family may be special. When they got to their destination and went into an ice cream shop, the mom went to pay and handed the young man her card. He paused as he read her name and handed her card back saying, “it’s on the house.”
Now my first thought was, ok it’s maybe it’s a small town and they know everything about everyone and maybe there were rumors about the family or a secret which made the young man act the way he did?
Wow! I just finished watching the 1st episode. So I definitely have questions and I already have some theories about this show. The question is, will I continue to watch it?
The episode ended and I was not ready for it to end. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it.
So what’s Locke and Key about? Basically, 3 siblings who move after the tragic death of their father. They move back to his home town and move into the house where he grew up. This house has much more to it then one would think.
Shout out to Jackson Robert Scott who plays Bode the younger brother. This is the first role I have seen from him after the 2019 remake of IT! I’m not going to lie, there were a few moments that took me back to a scene in the IT movie.
(I also loved the short golden girls reference!)
So back to the original question… if I watched the trailer for this show, would it make me feel the need to want to watch it? Does the trailer give off any kind of clues to what the show is about or does it just grab your attention and make you think you would enjoy this?
I’ve gone back and watched the trailer, and it gives more details than I would have thought. If I watched this trailer before I saw the first episode, I definitely would have watched it. The weird thing is, while I was watching the episode I was not sure if I could get into the show, but then something would happen and pull me back in.
This time, after seeing the trailer, I’m even MORE excited to continue watching.
Turns out this experiment proved that at least the trailer for Locke and Key was right on.
Yes, it’s a couple months into 2020, but better late than never!
10. Marvel Studios: The Eternals (Nov. 6th)
Synopsis: Marvel Studios introduces an exciting new team of SuperHeroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame. An unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, The Deviants.
My Take:The Eternals barely made my list, just knocking off A Quiet Place 2.
I honestly don’t know much about this Marvel property. It made the list simply on MCU merit. Kevin Feige has built a nerds paradise, with only two films I take issue with being Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.
And even those I didn’t hate entirely. Kevin’s 22 film Infinity Saga is something that I don’t ever think will be replicated. So in other words, ‘in Kevin Feige we/ I trust’.
09. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 10th)
Synopsis: After being evicted from their home, two children and their single mother move to a farm in Summerville, Oklahoma that they inherited from their late grandfather.
When the town experiences a series of unexplained earthquakes, the children discover their family’s link to the original Ghostbusters, who have become something of a myth as many have long-since forgotten the events of the Manhattan Crossrip of 1984, and the secret legacy that their grandfather left behind.
My Take: Canon to 1984’s Ghostbusters, need I say more? On the real, when I heard Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman (the director of the original Ghostbusters) was behind this one, I raised an eyebrow.
Let’s get this out of the way, I didn’t mind the 2016 Ghostbusters, I thought it was a lot of fun. Chris Hemsworth himself made me laugh out loud, but… I agree it was a far cry from the original.
With most of the cast returning ‘Afterlife’ seems to hold the essence of Ghostbusters. PLUS: Bill Murray. As I started with, need I say more!?
08. The Invisible Man (Feb. 28th)
Synopsis: Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister, their childhood friend, and his teenage daughter. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex commits suicide and leaves, they find out his death was a hoax.
My Take: This movie jumped on to my radar simply because of Leigh Whannell. After the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe failed right away with the one and done 2017’s The Mummy (starring Tom Cruise), Universal scrapped the whole plan.
Universal then said goodbye to Johnny Depp (who was to play the Invisible Man), got a boost from Blumhouse and tapped Leigh Whannell for writer/ director. Now there seems to be a heartbeat in an otherwise dead franchise.
With the suspense in the first trailer alone, I’m sold. I recommend watching the trailer, as soon as you’re done with this blog!
Lastly, I’ve followed Leigh Whannell and James Wan ever since they came onto the scene with SAW. I love 95% of their work (Dead Silence, Insidious, The Conjuring…). Hopefully, The Invisible Man will be no different.
07. Morbius (July 31st)
Synopsis: Biochemist Dr. Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but when his experiment goes wrong, he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.
Synopsis: A secret agent is tasked with preventing World War 3 by using time travel.
My Take: To say I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work would be an understatement.
I first heard his name with Batman Begins, but I sat up in my seat with The Prestige. The twist and turns in that film had me shocked, surprised and in awe. Since then, I’ve loved all of his films. Watching them is more of an event for me. Most of his films call for a second viewing right away, and then still leave you wanting more.
From The Prestige to The Dark Knight, to Inception and Interstellar. He has solidified himself as one of the best directors of our time.
Synopsis: Wonder Woman squares off against the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.
My Take: I know I’m in the minority on this, but I really liked Zack Snyder’s vision for the DCEU.
I was a fan of Batman Vs. Superman. I liked his picks for Batman, Aquaman, The Flash and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
(Yes, I’m skipping Lex Luthor on purpose…)
I remember seeing Gal Gadot for the first time in the theater as Gisele Yashar in 2009’s Fast and Furious, so seeing her as Wonder Woman on the big screen wasn’t odd for me.
90% of Wonder Woman was great! I bought the Island of Themyscira and the lore. The whole fish out of water storyline was humorous. But what made the movie for me was the No Man’s Land scene.
With Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s score slowly building until she gets into the town with the full score in tow! God, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. I’m curious as to how they’re going to represent Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah and explain Steve Trevor?
I also have a feeling there may be a few ‘surprises’ along the way. Can’t wait!
04. Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (Sept. 11th)
Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren try to uncover the truth behind a murderer’s claim of demonic possession.
My Take:The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made me do it tells the true story of Arne Johnson and his murder trial, at which he insists he was possessed. I’ve followed this story so long as I can remember.
Along with Ed and Lorraine Warren, there was always skepticism in this case.
When the Original Conjuring came out, I was giddy to see it. It was directed by one of my favorites, James Wan.
(Side Note: I always look forward to his one long take, that he does in most of his films.)
I knew what he could do with Horror and with Lorraine Warren’s blessing and guidance he knocked it out of the park. BAM! The Conjuring Universe was born.
We have since gotten a variety of films, some hits, some misses, with Killer Dolls, Possessed Nuns, and Mexican Folklore. But the main Conjuring films have always performed above par.
I hope this continues with 3. My only hesitation is that James Wan isn’t directing. However, he handpicked the director and is still a producer on it. I can’t wait to see what this looks like on the big screen.
03. Halloween Kills (Oct. 16th)
Synopsis: Michael Myers pursues Laurie Strode and her family, need I say more?
My Take: The original Halloween is in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. My mother introduced it to me in the 80s, and I was instantly hooked.
I credit my love of all things horror and true crime to my mom. We’d watch horror on the weekend and never once missed an episode of Unsolved Mysteries (which, for some reason, spooked me as a kid). I, in turn, passed this tradition on to my oldest son. He’d pop in a VHS of Halloween 78′ while the other kids in my family watched Sesame Street and Barney.
He’d watch Michael Myers murder some babysitters. He’d watch it, watch it, rewind, watch it again.
The original has always held up. Perhaps because it’s a simple premise that feels like it could happen to anyone. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride kept that essence with Halloween 18′. I hope they’re able to carry it through to Halloween: Kills.
02. Black Widow (May 1st)
Synopsis: At birth, the Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative.
My Take: Speaking of ‘in Kevin we trust’, here we go!
The MCU opens Phase 4 with one of my favorite characters, Black Widow. I remember first seeing her in Ironman 2 at the theater (which I really like btw!).
When Tony Stark references Natasha Romanoff by saying “I want one”, I was like, ” yeah me too”!
This film takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Which explains how Black Widow is still, well alive. ‘Spoiler’?
I believe we’ll see the passing of the torch to Yelena Belova in this. Also, being a Stranger Things and David Harbour fan. I’m looking forward to his portrayal of the Red Guardian. Also, hopefully we’ll see Hawkeye or any of the other Avengers in this and finally find out, What the heck happened in Budapest!?
01. Spiral: From the Book of SAW (May 15th)
Synopsis: Working in the shadow of an esteemed police veteran, brash detective Ezekiel Banks and his rookie partner take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly trapped in a deepening mystery, Ezekiel finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.
My Take: I know what you’re thinking… a SAW film!? Number 1!? Well, there’s a little more to it than that. My kids grew up watching horror films with me, and Saw was no different. When a sequel was approaching. We’d watch all of the films leading up to the next one. Out of the countless horror sequels we ‘saw’ together. The Saw Franchise is the only series we did this with.
With Saw being one longer continuing storyline. We’d watch and speculate what twist, turns and traps may happen. We had tons of fun with the speculation. That and with the ending ‘twist’ montage with that Saw theme song (Hello Zepp)!!!
I’m glad that I don’t have to wait until Halloween for this, as the first 8 came out on that holiday. This franchise also brought us James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Who’s work continues to keep me an avid film fan. We’re so looking forward to watching all of them again, leading up to Saw 9, er to Spiral: The Book of Saw.
What are your most anticipated movies of 2020? Do they align with mine or are they totally different? Let’s see those lists!
( Honorable Mention: The Way Back March (6th) Quiet Place II (March 20th), The New Mutants (April 3rd). )
There are many different names, for example, San Diego Comic-Con and Wizard World comic con. When you get right to it, they are all the same. The only difference is the company that puts them on.
Comic-cons focus on comic books and comic book culture (although that has changed significantly over the years as it has also become a place to celebrate movies and video games as well).
It’s a place for fans to gather to meet creators, celebrities and to meet each other. It’s also a place where people love to cosplay as their favorite comic book character, game characters, and their favorite movie characters.
At comic-cons, people can experience workshops, costume contests and panels with their favorite actors.
A Comic-con can mean something totally different for each person. I remember my first comic-con. It was Wizard World. I always hesitate to go to comic-cons because I don’t do well in places with a lot of people. I sucked up my anxiety and went with my sister.
When we walked into the con, the sight was overwhelming. There were booths everywhere with so many different collectibles. I felt like a kid in a candy store. My sister and I walked for what seemed like miles. Every time I turned around I would see something new. There were so many cosplay people! It was exciting, the time and effort people put into their costumes is pretty amazing.
I got to meet a celebrity that I watched on TV all the time. Remember Superman from Lois & Clark? That’s right, Dean Cain!
For a moment it didn’t seem real. I can remember as clear as it was yesterday. When it was time for my photo with him I walked in and was standing right in front of him.
I was feeling so many emotions! Then he reached out to shake my hand as he introduced himself. It was about a 1-minute meet, snap, and go, but it felt much longer.
They snapped the photo and I ran out and started crying. My sister followed me out and so did Dean. He asked me if I was ok and that I didn’t need to rush off. I couldn’t get any words out. However, it showed me that this celebrity that I have watched in so many different roles on TV was actually a real person who truly cared for his fans.
When the day was done I was ready to go home. I now could say I went to a comic-con and I didn’t need to anymore.
It’s funny how we make plans but then something will come along and change that plan. I planned on not going to another comic-con. With the emotions and all the excitement that goes on, I was ok with not going again and I believed they would all be the same.
Like I said, plans change.
I was informed that 2 people would be at this comic con in Salt Lake City. This time it would be another Superman, Tom Welling! But not just him, he was going to be with Michael Rosenbaum too! Now, when I met the celebrity at Wizard World I thought that would be enough. Boy oh boy, was I wrong.
This time I knew what to expect. I promised myself I would not cry. When it came time to meet Tom it was like my first comic con all over again!
I could feel the tears coming as I handed about 7 items to him to get signed. I was totally shaking like a tree in a wind storm. But then I remember that these celebrities are just like us. So the tears got turned off. I started talking and laughing with him.
I had my service dog with me who I dressed up as Clark Kent. Even though I was still shaking and probably looked like a weirdo, he took his time with me. This made the experience mean so much more.
Now, I know that not all celebrities are not the same and they treat their fans differently. I had a not so pleasant interaction with one but I was lucky enough to meet 3 that love their fans and treat us equally. Plus, there were plenty of new experiences to have at the new comic-con.
So, what does Comic-Con mean to me?
Comic-cons have shown me that there are other people out there who enjoy the same things as I do. I’ve gained respect for the cosplay people. The passion they have is amazing!
I also love getting to see celebrities that I never imaged I would meet in person. It made my love for comics and art grow.
But most of all, it taught me that nothing is ever set in stone.
Here are a few things you don’t want to forget when you go to a con.
1. A Camera. You will likely want to take pictures to remember that day.
2. A cell phone and charger. The event you are at may have updates for the audience with times that certain events start, etc… if you forgot your camera, you will have your phone to take pictures and videos. If you get lost in the crowd, you can call your friend or partner to find each other.
3. A Big Bag. You will leave with a lot more stuff than you planned!
4. Comfortable shoes. It’s a must to put on your most comfortable pair of shoes! You will be walking and standing in line for a long time. It makes it a little easier, especially when you attend a 3-day con.
5. Cash. Although many venders will accept credit cards, you don’t want to take a chance that if you see something you like and they only accept cash. You don’t want to be searching for an ATM.
6. Sharpie/Paint Pens. If you want a certain item, for example, a Funko pop, most of the celebrities’ booths will have pins, but if you want a certain color don’t take a chance that the booth will have it. Paint pens are the best for them to sign Funko pops.
7. Water! You don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bottle of water on site. That also applies to food.
Trading is a big part of the collector’s community. With today’s technology, it is simpler to trade with someone on the other side of the world than it has ever been.
If we want something that is not easy to obtain, we can search the internet and either buy or trade for that item.
Amazing how day-to-day trading has changed.
Trade originated with human communication in prehistoric times. Trading was the main facility of prehistoric people, who bartered goods and services from each other thousands of years ago.
People would trade with one another to complete each other’s needs. .. it allowed countries, communities, and individuals to specialize in something and become increasingly productive.
With today’s trading, the opportunity and items to get can be endless and much easier to obtain. However, with trading, there is always the risk of getting scammed. Unfortunately, this will always be in the equation.
When I first started trading I was horrible at it. I didn’t fully understand that when trading, you are putting your trust in others while hoping they do the same. Once I finally understood that when you make an agreement you need to follow through with it.
It took me a while to get that into my head but once I did, I have become a trader that people can trust. That alone is an awesome feeling.
I’ve now been trading for over 10 years. In that time I have come across many different kinds of people and many of them were scammers. Because of this, I have learned to spot a few things to help steer you away from a bad trade.
Now I’m not saying this will spot every kind of scammer out there, but it’s a checklist that can definitely help!
If the deal is too good to be true, then most likely it is.
Ask for photos of the item. Make sure it’s multiple photos and have them include a timestamp. (A timestamp is their name and date on a piece of paper next to the item)
If they ask you to send cash in the mail or to use PayPal friends and family…DON’T. Save this for when you know the person and trust them 100%
Watch for if they send you money for more than agreed and then ask that you send them back the difference. This one is a big scam that happens way too often! Mostly to people who are new in the trading game.
Search feedback from other groups/communities to see if the person who you are trading with has a good or bad track record.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, send money that can not be covered through PayPal or whatever means you use to pay. This also goes with #3!
Don’t overdo it, don’t have 20 trades going at once. It can get messy and confusing. Keep it simple with a few at a time.
The thrill of a successful trade is very satisfying so long as it isn’t ruined! You can grow your collection bigger and better than before, and also make great friends in the trading world.
Personally, I have a person I have traded with more time than I can remember. We always end up trading back our stuff to each other down the road… It’s fantastic!
Trading is one of my favorite things, just remember there is always a risk in it. If you keep your mind focused and remember a few tips, you can avoid these as much as possible.
Maybe when you hear the word “collectible” your brain automatically goes to an item on a shelf that doesn’t get touched, sitting there for everyone to look.
Or maybe not.
Everyone has collected something in their lives or had a favorite toy that they just couldn’t live without. The term collectible can have a different meaning for everyone.
Because it’s not just comics books or action figures that people collect but a wide range of different and unique items. It could be cars or postage stamps.
There are also levels of collecting. To me, there’s 5.
Let’s start at level 5. This would be collecting items that are 100% complete. Their condition is 10/10. Then you have this item displayed so nothing can touch it. It is sealed and not even a wisp of air can get to it. I would rate that level 5 collecting.
Level 4 would be similar to level 5 but the item is not as protected. It may not be in mint condition or under lock and key.
Level 3 is the in-between. Your item is in good condition and you don’t mind the occasional look and touch of your item. You’re more calm about displaying your item and not so worried about if something will happen.
Level 2. You do your best to display your item but you’re not worried about something happening to it. Your not so concerned that it’s complete. You would like the condition to be great but being less than 10/10 doesn’t stop you from having that in your collection.
And finally, level 1! You don’t care about the condition, you’re just happy to have it in your collection. You can share your item with others who have the same love for that item. You’re more than happy to let others look and even touch.
I remember when I got my first action figure. It was from one of my favorite shows. At the time I had no clue that the show would last 10 seasons and would be a pain to get all the action figures years later. It was my 1st collector item and I so badly wanted to open it and hold it.
I’m the kind of person who loves not only to look at something but I needed to touch!
I would remember going on school trips to a museum and I would always get yelled at for trying to touch everything. So I would always buy 2 of the same items, one to collect and one to open and touch.
Now, you can only imagine how expensive that can be. I would buy items for $100 and then get another one so I could open. Thankfully, as I got older my collecting habits changed.
If I could give any advice to someone who is new to collecting, it would be this…
Collect what you like! Don’t get swooped in by the hype of a new item that is going to be released or a hard-to-find item that seems impossible to get. Unless, of course, if that impossible item is something you like/love them go for it. Because nothing is impossible to get.
The second thing I recommend is to wait. I totally understand the “I want it now and I will pay anything to get it now” attitude though.
Let’s take Funko as an example. A Funko pop is released and everyone is after it! People will buy huge amounts and then turn around and sell them to people for 4 times the amount. You think that Funko won’t make any more for that one pop so you end up paying way over the standard price.
That Funko is now worth let say $500. But once the hype goes away the price of that Funko pop will drop. Trust me, I have seen and done it.
I once paid $300 for a Funko pop! I needed it and had to have it. I had no patience in waiting. Now it’s worth around $50.
I’m not saying all Funko pops will be like that, however, unless there is a set number for a Funko pop then it’s more than likely to drop in price.
(When I say a set number, I mean a Funko pop that is limited to the number and will not be re-produced like others that are not limited. Like a 320 piece Doctor Who Funko, there is only 320 of that Funko and it will not be made again. So as hard as it is to wait, it will end up saving you a lot of money in the end.)
I remember when I got into Funko pop collecting, I was buying everyone I could get my hands on. It was like the beanie babies all over again! I had all kinds of Funko from every kind of franchise. They were taking over my place. They were stacked up so high a cat could run by and a tower would fall. (You can bet I spend a nice chunk of cash on them.)
Avoid the hype.
Collect what you love.
It saves a lot of money and is a lot more fulfilling.
Now let’s see if I can keep following my own advice…
I was going to write my first blog about the Academy Awards as the nominations were just announced…
but then the Morbius trailer dropped.
(Oh and, not only that, MICHAEL KEATON).
Morbius first crossed my path in the early 90s. My brother, Jimmy, was an avid fan. At one point it was Morbius this and Morbius that all summer long. Meanwhile, I was into Batman (Joker), X-Men, Spiderman and getting into Spawn.
Fast-forward 25 years (I’m really dating myself here). I get a text from my brother Jim saying, “They’re making a Morbius movie!”
Me being up to date on movie news, and being a jerk to my brother (hey brotherly love) says. “Yeah, I’ve known for about a year…”
For those who don’t know who Morbius is (can’t blame you for that!), in comics Dr. Michael Morbius first appeared in The Amazing Spiderman #101 in October 1971. Morbius the Living Vampire was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He was Marvel’s answer to the Dracula craze at that time.
Morbius started off as one of Spiderman’s horror-based villains. Much like Venom, he went on to become a dark, gritty and flawed antihero. He appeared in his own series and had cameos in other titles. The inner struggle of Morbius is that he needs to feed on blood while not wanting to hurt innocent people.
For example, early on Morbius throws himself into the ocean, hoping to die. He is rescued and reluctantly does what he must, feeding uncontrollably. Feeling the incredible guilt, he decides to only drink ‘bad guys’ blood (I mean he’s gotta eat… right?). This compromise allows him to feed while also fighting evil: two birds with one stone.
Now, let’s talk about that movie trailer. The trailer starts with Dr. Michael Morbius as a child moving into adulthood while suffering from some unknown rare blood disease. We see some of his struggles and triumphs, (I.E. winning a Nobel Prize in Physiology Medicine). He experiments using himself as a human guinea pig trying to find a cure.
Cue the unknown location, blood, and bats!
After we see an experiment, Dr. Morbius experiences increased strength, speed and the ability to use echolocation (ability to locate objects with the use of reflected sound). But with his increased abilities, his need to consume blood intensifies.
The trailer also introduces Matt Smith and Tyrese Gibson (Gibson has a multiple film contract with Sony, so we’ll be seeing more of him). When the carnage (no not Woody Harrelson) starts, there’s a scene that reminds me of the Nightcrawler sequence in X2, which is great.
Finally, we get… the… money shot…!
Jared Leto in full on Morbius the Living Vampire mode (which looks awesome!)
But that’s not all, in the after title card scene… “what’s up Doc”?
Michael Fricken Keaton as his Spiderman: Homecoming character Adrian Toomes AKA the Vulture! And this isn’t the first reference we get from the new Spidey films. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot, while Dr. Morbius is escaping from prison, on the wall we see that our favorite web-slinger is branded a “murderer”.
Ties to the after credit scene from Spiderman: Far From Home!
Whether or not Morbius is linked to the MCU or just to the Sony Spider-Verse, remains to be seen. Will Sony go the Agents of Shield route, (is what happens in the MCU relevant to the Sony Spider-Verse, but not vice versa)? Or are we really talking about different timelines or universes?
Could Morbius really be in the MCU? Or, is it all just a huge misdirect?
Whatever the case, I can’t wait to find out, because the Morbius trailer looks sick!
I love this line, “How far are we allowed to go, to fix something that’s broken?”
“Until the remedy is worse than the disease”.
Will Morbius be a hit for Sony? Will we see Tom Holland’s Spidey? How does Morbius coexist with the MCU? What do YOU think?
I know I can’t wait to catch Morbius, starring Jared Leto, on July 31st, 2020.
They finished Star Wars. If we’re to believe the hype, this is the “end” of the Skywalker saga. The continuous story that began 42 years ago, took the world by storm and became the biggest pop culture zeitgeist in modern history has reached an ending. Kind of. Sure.
And if you believed Twitter or the so-called pop culture experts you’d believe it was an epic failure.
Most audiences love it.
And I happen to be on their side.
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since before I had many other memories at all. My father raised me on the original trilogy. I knew Star Wars trivia before I knew basic arithmetic.
And I can’t think of many ways they could have ended this all better.
So let’s talk about the movie. For now, NO SPOILERS. I promise. That’s for another time.
Coming after The Last Jedi, there are two camps most fans found themselves in. Either you loved the originality and openness of infinite possibilities introduced in Rian Johnson’s entry, or you hated it, feeling that it was inherently “not Star Wars.”
I’m personally in the first camp. I felt it was a refreshing and exciting new direction. I loved mostly everything from the Holdo maneuver to a jaded Luke Skywalker. It was the most original the series had felt, for me, since the Return of the Jedi.
You may disagree with me.
Good news: Rise of Skywalker is for both of us.
One of the biggest criticisms currently leveled at Rise is that it directly addresses and undoes the new direction Last Jedi had taken. And since critics adored The Last Jedi, most of them are reviewing Rise as if it was a personal affront to them.
They aren’t wrong. But they’re missing something.
It doesn’t matter.
Rise of Skywalker isn’t perfect. There’s too much movie for 2.5 hours. In this respect, it reminds me of Spiderman 3 back in 2007.
But unlike the end of Sam Raimi’s wall-crawler trilogy, Rise of Skywalker will hold up.
Because what so many of the critics are missing is that Star Wars doesn’t need a fully realized plot in a single film.
We don’t need to know how Palpatine survived (which isn’t explained).
We don’t need to know how the reveal of Rey’s lineage makes sense.
We don’t even need to know how any of it works.
Because in a galaxy far, far away, anything can happen. So long as it’s true to the characters.
And Rise of Skywalker gives every character the honor due them.
Going back to the critics. It’s true that this movie directly confronts the most controversial aspects of The Last Jedi.
But like I said earlier. It doesn’t matter.
Because you can’t undo what mattered most about that film. The fact that it exists and is canon. That it opened up the creative future of Star Wars in a major way.
That’s what I loved about that film. And I’m very excited to see where it goes.
But we didn’t need it here.
Rise of Skywalker is exactly what it was supposed to be. It’s the end of Kylo and Rey’s story. It’s the end of the “bringing balance to the Force” prophecy that went into effect with the discovery of Anakin Skywalker.
Those most disappointed with Rise are upset that it wasn’t a sequel to The Last Jedi. What they’re missing is that it was never supposed to be.
It’s the end of Episodes I-IX.
It’s the end of 42 years of speculation and prognostication, of millions of debates and predictions.
It’s an impossible film to make.
And it works.
This is the ending we are fortunate to receive. It is full of humor, heartwarming moments, tear-jerking events…
But most importantly, it satisfies our goodbye to the characters we love. Which is exactly where Rise of Skywalker excels.
From the opening crawl Rise never stops to take a breath. The mile-a-minute pace of the movie is also full of surprises, fan service, and reveals throughout the running time, so I won’t waste any time speaking about the plot. It’s better to just be seen or spoiled by watching YouTube videos.
Despite the fullness of every scene, however, the movie feels surprisingly relaxed. Unlike the abysmal prequel trilogy– a plot-heavy vehicle with wooden characters, childish humor which rarely landed (and was often just bad), and multiple attempts at profundity that were so forced they live on as hilarious memes (“I don’t like sand…”, “I’ve got the high ground…”, “NOOOOO”)– Rise of Skywalker understands what made the original trilogy excellent. It remains about the characters.
Hanging out with Poe, Finn, and Chewie remains a joy. The relationship between Rey and Kylo remains entrancing.
From the opening scene until the end credits, these are characters you want to be with. We care about them. We like being with them. This is what Lucas had lost sight of while filming the prequels, which actually work better as a story than as films. This is why, no matter how it is spun, Rise of Skywalker is immensely superior to even Revenge of the Sith, which is largely considered to be the best of the prequel trilogy.*
J.J. Abrams understands this well and always has. It’s why, despite the criticisms of his films, they remain successful. He knows how to thrill an audience while connecting us to the characters. This is where Rise of Skywalker shines brightest.
If there is a fair criticism to be made of Rise, it’s this; there is too much going on. In the rush to bring us an ending to everything there isn’t time for the emotional weight of The Empire Strikes Back, or the myth-expanding wonder of The Last Jedi.
But, once again, we don’t need that here.
The reason this movie isn’t perfect because it never could be. Comparisons to Avengers:Endgame, arguably the greatest ending ever to a film saga (Lord of the Rings doesn’t count because of its strict adherence to the original source material, which was perfect), are unfair. The MCU planned things out from the beginning and worked hard to keep the films in concert.
Star Wars, on the other hand, has always been made up as it went along. In that way, it’s like our own lives. A living, breathing, recorded story.
And just like real life, the impromptu nature of Star Wars was unpredictable. It didn’t always make sense. It was full of surprises, good and bad.
In that respect, Rise of Skywalker is not a perfect movie. It’s not a perfect story or ending. But it’s perfectly Star Wars.
And because of that, it’s great.
*It’s my opinion that the Revenge of the Sith is a dumpster fire of bad acting, poor direction, awful dialogue, and the unforgivable cheapening of the greatest villain to ever grace a movie screen. After multiple rewatchings, I’ve come to believe that The Phantom Menace is more defensible and that only Attack of the Clones keeps Revenge from being the worst of all the Star Wars films.
There was a time when it felt wrong to have anyone portray an iconic character more than once in a generation on the screen.
It was 21 years from the time of Cesar Romero’s hysterical, antic portrayal of the Joker until Jack Nicholson took a much darker approach. We then had to wait 19 years until Heath Ledger made the character the great Agent of Chaos (and received a posthumous Oscar for his performance).*
Of course, somewhere in the past 20 years or so, Hollywood gave up any semblance of sanctity it once had toward classics and iconic performances. So within 8 years of Ledger’s mind-blowing turn as Joker, we had Jared Leto’s poor impersonation.
Just like that, the Joker had become a gimmick instead of a meaningful character.
And only 3 years later, we have yet another gimmick.
But this time it works.
There are few actors I trust as much as Joaquin Phoenix. My first memory of him is as Commodus in Gladiator. I didn’t know who he was other than the brother of River, but I was entranced. The depth of cowardice, self-hatred, and need for acceptance bubbling up under Commodus’ attempts to appear honorable and regal is the kind of performance few actors are capable of pulling off.
Yet here was Phoenix, making it look easy while going toe-to-toe with peak Russell Crowe (in Crowe’s Oscar-Winning performance, nonetheless).
So despite my disgust upon hearing the Joker was resurfacing on the big screen again, I quickly dropped my apprehension when hearing he would be played by Phoenix.
He doesn’t disappoint.
The trailers of Joker tease a film that could be the cousin of Taxi Driver. As it turns out, it’s not just a tease.
From the opening scene all feelings of “comic book movie” disappear. The only other time I can remember feeling similarly is during the opening heist of The Dark Knight. This is a good sign.
But where The Dark Knight pulls us into excitement reminiscent of Heat, Joker evokes depression and madness immediately. The descent has begun.
While watching Joker I couldn’t escape feeling the weight of misery and disgust. There is very little about this movie that is entertaining.
And I couldn’t look away.
The comparisons to Taxi Driver are apt so far as the setting, but the transformation of Arthur Fleck is much darker and hopeless than Travis Bickle. With Bickle we are given reminders that there are still some traces of good within. Fleck occasionally reaches the surface for air, only to have his head stepped on.
Joker feels less like a story and more like voyeurism. Most of the damage has been done to Fleck over the years, what we are witnessing is the final breaking. Two hours of emotional, physical, and mental torment that completes the lifelong journey of someone losing their soul.
I’ll repeat: There is nothing entertaining about this movie.
But it is mesmerizing.
In regards to the filmmaking, director Todd Phillips has delivered a sort of masterpiece. There is no break in the immersion. As a director known for reaching the heights of frat-boy comedy (Old School, The Hangover), Phillips delivers a film few have believed he was capable of. Occasionally there were a few laughs in the theater, but it felt more as if someone wanted to believe they were watching something other than what was on screen. I imagine that, despite the commercial appeal, few people are getting what they came for.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth seeing.
The setting of the early 80s, depressed Gotham emulates 1970s New York and will draw memories about the city of French Connection as much as it does Taxi Driver. This is a city where hope is all but gone and the people are just surviving, waiting for someone to give them the excuse to turn on each other.
*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*
Of course, that is exactly what Fleck gives them when he finally embraces the darkness inside him. He becomes a symbol to the oppressed and overlooked, inspiring them to rise up, fight back, and inflict their pain upon others.
By the third act, the murders Fleck has committed have become the tipping point of rage in the city. Riots and looting become standard fare by people in clown masks, and this is all before Fleck even reveals himself.
It’s not because he is biding his time either. He simply doesn’t care.
As we witness Fleck discovering his own sordid history, memories which he had blocked out, we see him letting go of any belief he ever had.
“All I have is dark thoughts” he muses at one point. Indeed. And it’s no wonder why.
Along with Arthur, we discover that he is a man without an identity. Abandoned before he was cognizant, adopted into a house of horrors, and grown into a man whose every waking moment is filled with the blackest pain of loneliness and meaninglessness. The only shred of humanity that keeps him trying is a relationship with his mother, who is a dying psychotic.
The lies his mother has told him formed his only foundation of humanity, which is why, as soon as they are uncovered, Fleck ceases to exist. All that is left is Joker.
The transformation is exquisitely performed by Phoenix (who will easily, and deservedly, get a nomination for this) and handled by Phillips. So much so, that in the third act, which easily could have turned into a cheap “eat the rich” kind of socialist message, we remain transfixed without feeling cheated.
When the Joker finally reveals himself on the Murray Franklin show (Franklin is depicted by an energetic Robert de Niro), we get the best scene of the movie. We also see the madness he inspires break out completely.
After killing Murray on live television, Joker is arrested and brought out into the chaos of the streets. His view is ours as riots swarm every street. Because Joker doesn’t care, we don’t much either. We are simply onlookers, fascinated by the events but struggling to emotionally connect to them. Phillips deftly considers this, knowing that, even though we know why these riots are happening, they don’t matter to us. This isn’t a time to preach or make a point, because Joker cares about none of those things.
His only care is to matter. To be seen. And so we finish the film with the highlight of Fleck’s life. Him, standing on top of a vehicle with the city burning around him, being cheered on by thousands as he begins to dance.
It would look like joy, if only he were capable.
In The Dark Knight Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) remarks about Batman, “he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one we need right now.”
Remaining Batman’s opposite, Joker isn’t the movie we need, or even want. But it is exactly what the origin of a murdering, nihilistic, soulless villain deserves.
*No one here wants to overlook the fantastic voice work of Mark Hamill as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series or the Arkham games, but animation and games are granted an exception in this area as a rule.