Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 2018 Box Office predictions

I'm not one to predict financial results at the box office. I've never really tried that before.

However, what I am usually good at is predicting what's going to bomb and what's not going to bomb. I sit in the theater and see the trailers and go, 'That's going to be awful!'

That's what happened with Baywatch, Jupiter Ascending, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Ghost in the Shell, the latest version of The Mummy and various others.

I sat there thinking, 'How could anyone think these were good ideas?!'

This is the first time I've voiced my opinions in a published format.

Here goes nothing.

Here are my predictions for some of December's movies:


Aquaman
Prediction: Hit

Like I've already told some of my family members, this is an underwater Thor. This is going to be good for D.C.

While they've has a few issues with some of their other movies, they got this one right the moment they cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

He gave the character a much-needed update. The look isn't cartoonish anymore. He looks like a bad-ass!

That's how he was presented in Justice League. He also displayed comedic ability at the same time. I have a hunch it'll be a great blend of action, comedy, drama and special effects.

All the while it will showcase Momoa as a key player in the DCEU.

If they hold onto Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa, they could have several successful movies in the future --- solo or ensemble.


Mary Poppins Returns
Prediction: Bomb

It's like Solo: A Star Wars Story. Why would you put an actor in the position of playing an iconic role? Even if the story is good, people will inevitably compare Emily Blunt to Julie Andrews. While she's alright in several movies, there is no winning a comparison battle against Julie Andrews ... especially as Mary Poppins!

I'm not sure why they didn't make Blunt a pupil of Mary Poppins or a daughter or granddaughter or maybe the next in line to have the title. While those are tired ways to continue on a franchise (or develop a franchise), they're more acceptable than casting someone entirely new as a beloved and iconic character.

If Disney wanted to do a sequel, then just bring in Julie Andrews for the entire movie. If she didn't want to do it, that's fine. There are other ways to go about it. They apparently got Dick Van Dyke on board for a cameo. That's a starting off point. Mary's umbrella isn't an actual person. They could incorporate that. Maybe explore just who Mary was and where she came from.

Are there dozens of other cloud-riding nannies out there? Did Mary leave her powers for someone else to take charge of?

It'll probably do well enough at the box office because it's a family movie and the Christmas season is when families go to the movies. It's when schools take field trips to the movies. It'll surely generate some sales with the powerhouse that is Disney promoting the movie on so many mediums.

That being said, it won't do what they're expecting and hoping it to do.


The Mortal Engines
Prediction: Bomb

It's like so many other novels turned movies in the past several years. You can't just up and capture the success of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

While this concept is different, it's a little too different. Harry Potter's land of wizards and Katniss Everdeen's teenage death battles are 'out there' concepts too, but they're based in reality more than a movie like this.

It's unique, so I'll give them that, but entire cities doing battle on giant machines like an episode of Robot Wars? I don't see many people clamoring to see it.

As soon as I saw Washington, D.C. rolling around on a giant tank, I knew it wasn't going to be good.


Bumblebee
Prediction: Hit

I'm kind of surprised by my prediction. Originally I thought it'd be the nail in the coffin for the Transformers franchise (which I've enjoyed more than not). After seeing the trailer, however, I think it could be a fresh start. They got away from Mark Wahlberg and the original trilogy and are focusing on the main drawing point: the Transformers themselves.

It won't be a big explosion fest, which most people tired of. I think it'll be interesting to see the origin of Bumblebee and some of the other Transformers and Decepticons.

I don't know that John Cena is going to be that impressive with his acting, but the young actress -- Hailee Steinfeld -- seems authentic enough to draw people in. It's not going to be massive, but it'll surpass expectations.


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Prediction: Bomb

I don't see this movie having much wide appeal.

Number one: it's a somewhat involved Spider-Man storyline. Most people are familiar with Spider-Man, but not multiple Spider-verses.

Number two: it's an animated movie. It's not Lego Batman and it's not a Pixar guaranteed hit. It's not a regular superhero movie. It's got a niche audience and I don't think it'll be able to compete with the busy December schedule.

The storyline may have worked as a live action movie, but I see it having limited potential as an animated movie.

The Spider-Man universe is cool, so I hope it does do well in a way. I just don't have any faith that it'll happen.


Related Content:
• Will Hollywood outplay its hand on female superheroes?
• Tomb Raider - reviewed.
• Venom - reviewed.
• Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
• The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Will Hollywood outplay its hand on female superheroes?

There was a recent article on Deadline that mentioned the wave of female superheroes that aren't only appearing in upcoming movies, but getting lead booking.

It talks about Harley Quinn, Black Widow, Capt. Marvel and, of course, Wonder Woman.

It's an interesting read.

My question, which the article also asked, is: will the supply exceed the demand.

One woman they spoke to said she didn't think so.  She was a biased source because she's currently involved in a female superhero project herself.

My answer is: it depends.  It all depends on how Hollywood handles it.

There's a misconception that the comic book genre is a boys club.  Supergirl, Elektra and Catwoman all got solo movies.  Supergirl came out in the 1980s.

True, the reception to those movies was poor.

The poor reviews and box office for SupergirlElektra and Catwoman were well-deserved.  Those were three of the worst superhero movies of all time.

I think Elektra was a little better than the other two, but not by much.  They should've utilized Ben Affleck for the movie that was essentially a sequel to Daredevil.

That movie, too, earned bad reviews.  Daredevil was leaps and bounds better than Elektra though.  It doesn't have anything to do with women not being a box office draw either.

I think comic book fans are very open to seeing females in a lead role.

We've been asking for a Black Widow movie for years now.  Only after the success of Wonder Woman did Marvel give it real consideration.

That's the mistake Hollywood can't make.  Fans won't accept a female superhero simply because she has female parts.

They need a good story.  They need a good actress.  They need good action sequences (visual and creative).

If Hollywood throws out movie after movie with females directing and leading in the movie just because they are females, it's not going to work.

The product needs to have high quality.

That's what worked with Wonder Woman.  A lot of people are probably eager to cash in on that success, but it'll take more than some rip-offs to make it work.

Supergirl doesn't get better ratings than The Flash because it's not as good of a show.  It's not because she's a female.

Supergirl gets better ratings than Arrow because Arrow has jumped the shark.  It doesn't have anything to do with gender.

I'm excited that we may see a focus on some characters who don't always get a spotlight. 

I'd like to see more of Harley Quinn, some Black Cat and a proper depiction of Rogue, but I'd also be thrilled if Nightcrawler, Beast, Mr. Sinister, Robin and Martian Manhunter had projects centered around them. 
That's because I like those characters.

It's all about the quality of the character and the story.

As long as Hollywood remembers that when making these movies, they'll be fine and the superhero movies will continue to profit.

They've definitely got to be careful on timing.  You don't want Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies coming out in the same month, just as you wouldn't want Thor and Superman movies coming out at the same time.

I just hope they focus on telling good stories.  As soon as they start trying to specifically cater to one audience and focus on that alone, it'll be a very fast downward spiral.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Christmas Chronicles - reviewed.

Thanksgiving is the official start to the Christmas season, right? So why not watch a Christmas movie?

That's exactly what I decided to do this weekend. I've watched a few of Netflix's cheesy Christmas movies, mostly just to have some sound in my house as I go about chores here and there.

Most of them have a facepalm moment or two, but The Christmas Chronicles had multiple facepalm moments.

What a horrible movie! I'm typically fairly lenient on the Christmas movies, but it seemed like the writers didn't even try with this movie.

It wasn't really bad enough to be funny. It certainly wasn't funny enough to be funny. It was like a bowling shoe: just plain ugly.

I was somewhat surprised because with Kurt Russell and Kimberly Williams-Paisley on board, I figured it may be decent.

It started off with a heartwarming video montage that made it easy to predict exactly what was going to happen to one of the characters who was in that montage.

The movie seemed to take a more serious tone as Kate (Darby Camp) spots her older brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) stealing a car in the grocery parking lot.

Some of their acting seemed to be on-point and other times it seemed like even they didn't fully get invested into the characters they played.

Hardworking Claire (Williams-Paisley) wishes that her children would get along with each other. That Christmas wish sets into motion the rest of the movie.

Minor spoiler alert!! (but who cares, really??) --- Teddy and Kate catch the actual Santa Claus (Russell) as he's delivering presents in their neighborhood.

How'd they do this? They did what every kid has done for ages: tried to stay awake all night long.  Not just that -- they come up with the oh-so-clever plan to record Santa Claus on video!

There is never an explanation given as to why they were able to spot Santa and nobody else was, so one has to assume it's all due to their mom's Christmas wish.

Does Santa know about this wish? Is he just a pawn in the wish or does he knowingly grant this wish? Questions that are too deep for this movie.

Santa's sleigh ends up crashing and Teddy and Kate have to work together to overcome a series of obstacles, keep each other safe and save Christmas all in the span of a few hours.

In the meantime, there's a car chase involving Santa and the police, the introduction of some Gremlin-like elves (one of whom wields a chainsaw) and a jailhouse concert that involves Santa performing a suggestive Elvis Christmas song (with three apparent Hoe Hoe Hoes playing backup singers).

The police just don't believe it's actually Santa and want an explanation for all his 'tricks.' This is after they saw reindeer fly away with two children.

It's also after he called each cop by their name. It's after he revealed what they wanted for Christmas when they were kids and what they want this Christmas.

Why would the cops believe him? The people in an earlier restaurant scene didn't believe him either. He knew everyone's name and knew what gifts they got for Christmas years and years ago.

Clearly, just an imposter who found all of this information online, right? He just happens to be able to produce toys out of his coat pocket at will.

Why believe it's the real Santa??

Oh, yeah. at the end of the movie, Mrs. Claus is revealed to be the overly botoxed Goldie Hawn.

It's all too over-the-top. It's too cheesy. There are too many plot holes. This is no instant Christmas classic.

You may find yourself laughing at the movie, but not with it.

If you want to watch a good movie, go watch The Santa Clause instead.

I'm kind of bummed about this negative review because Kurt Russell seemed like he'd make a good Santa, despite the fact that he ended up looking somewhat like a hobo in his Santa Claus gear.

The one good thing I'll say about the movie is that they had some impressive computer-generated imagery. I'm not sure how much they spent on CGI, but at least they got that part right.


Related Content:
Tomb Raider - reviewed.
Venom - reviewed.
Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tomb Raider (2018) - reviewed.

It took me a while to check out this movie, mostly because it was another unneeded reboot of a popular franchise that wasn’t even that old yet.

Angelina Jolie was the face of that character for so long that it felt strange seeing someone else do it (though I think Alicia Vikander may have done a better job).

I kind of avoided it out of protest. But I saw it for free recently (that’s always the best price). It was ok.

It was a nice set-up for a franchise — the ‘how Lara Croft became Lara Croft’ tale. That would’ve worked well had anyone wanted a new franchise or had Tomb Raider been successful enough to warrant a second film.

Unfortunately these days, writers are always planning on trilogies and franchises. They don’t put enough effort into the beginning movie.

That’s kind of how this movie played out.

It wasn’t bad. Alicia Vikander did a great job actually. Her obvious dedication to the role and believability made the movie much better than it otherwise would have been with a different lead actress.

She was in great shape and appeared to have done at least some of her own stunts.

I first saw her in Man from U.N.C.L.E. (a movie I wanted a sequel of!) and was very impressed. Vikander also delivered on Tomb Raider.

She really looked like a daughter who desperately wanted to find her believed-to-be-dead father. She seemed to have that pain in her eyes that says ‘it’s unrealistic to expect that he’s alive’ with just an ounce of hope that he could be. The movie was a little too much.

It was filled with action-packed scenes, no doubt, but sometimes less is more

We saw a MMA training session, a bicycle race through the streets of London, a creative pursuit of thieves on a Chinese oceanside dock, and a scene where a boat gets tossed around in the stormy water.

That was all before we met the villain of the movie — Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) — who runs a slave island because his boss (who he communicates with on a mysterious cell phone) won’t let him leave until he finds a specific fabled tomb.

Then we get a chase through the forest, a fall over a waterfall, a jungle fight to the death, a major discovery for Lara Croft, a rise up and bow-and-arrow fight on the part of Croft and, finally, the scene with the actual tomb.

The scenes were all well-done really. They were definitely action-packed. It was all just a little too much.

The story just didn't resonate.  It was too unbelievable.  It was too much.

Lots of flash but not enough substance to make it worthwhile. There were a couple of head shaking / facepalm moments.

The script was too silly to be taken seriously, even if you want to support the character

The ending foreshadowed a sequel we’ll never get to see, which may be for the best.

Vikander is awesome and the writers delivered on a movie full of action, but if this is the best story they could come up with, then a sequel isn’t really warranted


Related Content:
• Venom - reviewed.
• Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
• The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
• The Black Panther - reviewed.
• My most anticipated movies of 2018



Pet peeve: why do you have to tweet the same thing again ... and again ... and again?

UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2018

As you can see by these two tweets to the right, CNN does the same thing.  This one is an analysis on the Florida race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson.

It's not just one news outlet that does this.  It's not for or against any party.  It's not just on politics.

They (meaning any prominent company with a Twitter account) do this all the time with all kinds of content.

It's so annoying if you're someone who is on Twitter or social media on a regular basis.

These two tweets aren't even 3 hours apart.  Why are we seeing it again?  I'm sure I'll be seeing it for a third time in a couple of more hours.

It'd be nice to see fresh content instead of repeating the same thing, especially when it's about controversial topics in politics.

It may seem trivial to complain about multiple tweets, but I think it furthers the divide between us when it comes to multiple political tweets. 

It triggers the emotions people have (either reinforcing something they agree with or angering them on something they don't agree with) when they see something several times a day.

I could mute these social media channels, but then how do I get the latest news?  You almost need to follow all of these social media platforms to get a clear and well-rounded picture of what's happening.

Hopefully this practice will change, but I doubt it.

---------------


Nov. 13, 2018

I recently blogged about one pet peeve of mine in regards to headlines on Twitter and Facebook: the fact that they overuse the phrase 'you need to know.'

Today, I have another pet peeve: media organizations (or organizations, in general) that tweet the same thing several times a day at different hours of the day.

The example in my blog is NBC News.  They tweeted a fact check regarding President Trump and his claims about fraudulent voting activities in Florida.

Fine.  Great.  Tweet away.  But then several hours later, I noticed another tweet that read the same.  3 hours later?  Another tweet.  No changes or corrections in the headline.  Just the same tweet.  Again.

Take a look at the photos on the right hand side of this blog.  They tweeted the same thing just a few hours apart.  For someone who missed one of the tweets, it doesn't matter.

But for someone who follows NBC News and has already seen the first and the second, the third is definitely overkill.

This example is regarding politics, but I've seen the same thing on a variety of topics.  From box office success or failures to Kardashian news to a bombing in the Middle East.

It seems like news organizations tweet things over the weekend and then, come Monday morning, tweet the same things again.  I assume the thought is that people may have missed it over the weekend, so they'd better catch us up on Monday morning.

That I could almost accept.  I understand that goal.  That being said, it gets annoying if you did see their original tweet(s) over the weekend.  Then it's just regurgitating the same information again.

Now I get tired of seeing a variety of topics in my feed or timeline, but I especially dislike this practice when it comes to politics.

Right now, politics are so divisive.  It doesn't help people trying to escape that constant negativity to see the same tweets posted just a few hours apart.

It's a barrage of of politics.  I don't care if it's pro-Republican or anti-Republican or pro-Democrat or anti-Democrat (or anti-Green Party).  If I see you tweeting or posting the same content 3 times in the same day, hours apart, it gets old.

It makes me want to unfollow your account.  It makes me want to escape into a Mighty Ducks marathon or a Candy Crush coma.

I don't just follow NBC News.  I follow CNN and MSNBC and Fox News and the Washington Post and a dozen other news outlets.  If you're tweeting a fact check, chances are they are too.

So I'm seeing their 12 individual tweets.  Then your tweet 3 times in the same day -- in less than a full work day?

It's excessive.  It's exhausting to see, whether the topic is about Fall leaves changing colors, how Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election or Donald Trump's random (and possibly offensive) tweet of the day.

If you don't have anything to tweet, then maybe don't tweet.  If  there's no news, don't regurgitate it.

I'd prefer that pandas playing on jungle gyms take over my Twitter feed if there's no hard news
happening.  Don't deprive me of that, please.

Venom - reviewed.




I remember everyone groaning when it was announced that Sony was making a Venom movie.

Then they saw the trailer and got excited. I was kind of in the ‘meh’ camp until I heard Tom Hardy was on board to play Eddie Brock.

He did such a great job as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises that I figured he’d be a great hero/anti-hero in Venom. And he did!

His portrayal of Eddie Brock was very interesting. Always likable but definitely a character with flaws.

He was someone you were rooting for even when he was messing up. The symbiote storyline isn’t one that’s been told in this way before.

Sure, Venom was in Spider-Man 3 but it doesn’t even compare to this version, honestly. This one was much better. It was done in a more comedic way.

The only negative I have is that the comedy almost made the movie a little too cartoonish. Just a little.

It felt like Venom could’ve been a little more diabolical. His lines were delivered in a way that seemed like they were supposed to be punchlines instead of being authentically humorous.

It was as if Venom knew, 'There's an audience watching and listening so now I need to say this in a goofy voice and have a goofy interaction with Eddie Brock so they laugh at me.'

That can be forgiven though.

There was seriousness to go along with the humor. The storyline with Brock’s girlfriend (Michelle Williams) felt real enough to make one care about it. It wasn’t one of the great romances of all time but it was relatable.

I cared more about that relationship and dynamic than several other super hero romances.

The action scenes were great. Venom’s unique powers made for some awesome action sequences! Definitely an upgrade from Spider-Man 3.

The movie was released in October in time for Halloween, but the dark character wasn't that grimacing.  It wasn't a horror movie by any means.  Definitely a PG superhero movie. 

I guess it could've been darker and more adult, but Tom Hardy made it work as it was.

After seeing Venom in Venom, I want to see Venom interact with Deadpool and The Avengers and Wolverine.

I know that won’t happen due to the large amount of contract negotiations that would have to happen between Fox and Sony and Disney and Marvel, but in this day and age of superhero team-up movies we are spoiled so I still want it.

The villain in this movie was coming from a good intention — kind of like Thanos. He was trying to solve the issue of overpopulation.

But he lost himself somewhere along the way and traded in his morals for his end goal. He was a good choice for the villain.

He wasn't physically imposing, but sometimes those with misguided plans and no remorse for lives lost along the way make the best villains.

There was even an evil (or more evil?) symbiote. There were just enough different things going on to tell a good story and not too many to get lost in the shuffle.

Overall, this wasn’t a masterpiece. It probably won’t win any awards. But it was fun. A lot of fun.

If you’re a fan of Spider-Man or that universe, you should enjoy this one.

There is a mid-credits scene.  Post-credits scene was about the animated Spider-Man movie, but the mid-credits scene points to a possible sequel.


Related Content:
• Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
• The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
• The Black Panther - reviewed.
• My most anticipated movies of 2018


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Pet peeve: the media's overuse of the phrase 'you need to know'

'You need to know.'  It's a simple phrase, but it's one that irritates me.

So many websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and other kinds of social media use that phrase.

To begin with, it was catchy. '5 things you need to know about (________)'

Now?  The incessant overuse of this phrase has turned me off of it entirely.

It's kind of insulting --- probably because I see it so many times each day.

Don't tell me what I need to know.

Don't treat me like a child.

Don't try to educate me on what you think is important.

Don't try to tell me how to think, period.

Maybe just give me some info?  Let me decide if I 'need to know' it.


I mean, really, what do any of us need to know?  Probably not 5 to 10 things about a movie or about some singer's personal relationship or about the new season of a TV show.

I'm probably overthinking this simple statement but that's what I've ended up at after seeing it dozens of times a day: philosophizing about 4 little words.


It's a headline.  Nothing more.  Nothing less, but I'm asking those who come up with the headlines for social media pages and websites to do better.

Be more creative when brainstorming for the day.

The phrase that was once creative and catchy is now mundane and annoying.

That concludes my pet peeve rant.  I'm climbing down off my soapbox now.



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Friday, October 26, 2018

So ... what should main event WWE Evolution?

I have a bit of an unusual way to end WWE's Evolution event.

I'm still not happy about the Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella match, but it's obviously happening, so may as well make the most of it right?

I also mentioned the fact that Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch may not have been the best route to go, simply because they've faced each other so many times in the past couple of months.

But that match is also happening.

Again, I may as well accept it.

The question becomes: how do you end Evolution?

Many people suggest that Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair is the way to go.

Others point to Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella being the most logical choice to close the show due to their name value.

I agree on both points.

Becky and Charlotte deserve to close the show more so than Rousey and Bella, but they don't have the name value to the casual fans.

I think there's a way to have the best of both worlds, though.

Becky and Charlotte will compete in the first (actually second if you're counting NXT) Last Woman Standing match at Evolution.

It should be a hard-hitting fight.

What if we somewhat combine their match with Rousey and Bella?

Here's my idea:

Give Charlotte and Becky a good 12-15 minutes to fight all the ringside area before they brawl into the crowd and towards the backstage area. 
The cameras are rushing to follow them, but Nikki Bella's music hits.
She grabs the microphone in the ring. 
Being the conceited heel that she is, she tells the crowd that doesn't want to wait for 
Becky and Charlotte to wrap up their little match.  She's tired of waiting.  She wants her opportunity at Ronda Rousey and the Raw Women's Title right now. 
Rousey, having just been called out and certainly not one to back down from a fight, makes her way to the ring. 
She obliges Bella's request.  A confused referee comes to the ring and calls for the bell.
Rousey and Bella isn't likely to be a masterpiece, so they don't need 20 minutes of ring time. 
They fight it out for about 5 minutes with Rousey getting the best of Bella.
Rousey is toying with Bella, but that plan backfires as Nikki Bella capitalizes (maybe due to interference from her sister Brie). 
Then, Becky and Charlotte return to the ringside area, still brawling.
At this point Nikki Bella is getting the best of Rousey. 
Charlotte has a misfire (maybe she rams herself into the electronic board at ringside) and Becky capitalizes, hitting a big move on her opponent. 
Charlotte doesn't make it to her feet before their referee counts to 10.
Becky Lynch's music hits.  She gets in the ring to celebrate. 
Nikki Bella and Ronda Rousey are still wrestling at this point.  Bella confronts Becky about interrupting their match. 
Becky kind of shrugs her off and pushes her out of her way. 
Rousey takes advantage and applies her armbar on Bella.  She taps out.
Rousey's music replaces Lynch's music. 
Charlotte rolls into the ring, still recovering from her loss.
Brie is consoling Nikki on tapping out. 
Becky and Rousey have a little stare down in the middle of the ring with their championships. 
Becky backs out of the ring, with a smug smile on her face.  She raises her title as she backs her way up the ramp. 
Rousey celebrates in the ring. 
WWE goes to their post-show coverage.


I think that'd be a good way to get Becky and Charlotte a spot in the 'main event,' a way to add a little more excitement to the Rousey / Nikki Bella beatdown, do something different with a Last Man/Woman Standing match and a good way to foreshadow a future Champion vs. Champion showdown at the Survivor Series or the Royal Rumble.

Maybe (hopefully) WWE has a grand plan that will be even better  than this, but that's how I'd like to see it play out.

I think now is the time to run with Becky vs. Ronda.

Let Charlotte chase the title and give her a Rumble victory, setting up Charlotte vs. Ronda for Wrestlemania next year.

But they need to interact a little bit before that.  This gets them in the same ring before that.  Survivor Series is another chance for that to happen.

If Becky vs. Ronda does happen, Charlotte would undoubtedly play a role (maybe as a commentator) there too.

We'll see what happens though ....



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Mistakes the media makes in a tense political climate and how they can fix them

As a former journalist, I watched the entire saga of suspicious packages unfold on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Time for a quick sidebar from the superhero and TV blogs I typically post.

It is a scary time to be a journalist, for sure.

I think there's plenty of blame to go around --- both sides of the aisle, both media and non-media.

First of all, President Trump.  He talks about fake news all the time.  I've received viewer phone calls from Democrats who, upset with story coverage they received, told me, 'I don't like Trump, but now I know what he means when he talks about fake news!'

It should be made clear from the top down that violence is NOT the answer and is NOT OK.  Make your memes and throw your critiques out on YouTube comments and on Twitter, but don't incite violence, poke fun at it or accept it as normal behavior.

Unfortunately we've had instances on both sides of the political spectrum where politicians have indicated that it's 'OK' to do that.


  • President Trump --- there are various examples ... take your pick.
  • Hillary Clinton --- she told CNN: "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about ... That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength."
  • Eric Holder --- he said at a campaign rally a week or two ago: "When they go low, we kick 'em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about."

That list could go on and on.


People are passionate.  People are angry.  That's OK.  Passion drives people to the polls and gets them involved in a political process that would otherwise go unchecked.

Michelle Obama was right, though.  Regardless of what party you identify with, "When they go low, we go high."  It's a quote that people remember for years.  It was powerful and it's true.

You can't take things into your own hands and go around screaming in the face of senators, imposing your physical will on anyone or encouraging physical attacks --- on politicians, on voters you disagree with or on the media.

If you resort to that, it takes focus away from whatever point you're trying to prove.


Now, I'm not a politician, but I can speak to the media and some issues that they bring on themselves.

The media has been losing trust for a long while, before President Trump took office.

They consistently rank up there with used car salesmen, politicians and lawyers in terms of the least trustworthy professions.

Take a look at the Gallup poll statistics in the infographic here.

They've gone up and down a bit, but since 2002, it's been (mostly) a consistent downfall.

Gallup began asking the question about media in 1972 and on a yearly basis since 1997.

In 1976, the poll indicated 72% of those who took it widely trusted journalism.  The Gallup poll results break down the age demographic that trusts media the least and the voting party that trusts them the least.

Why the distrust?

After spending 10 years in journalism, I've got a few theories.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

My pitch to you: a better card at WWE Evolution

WWE's Evolution pay-per-view / WWE Network live event is this Sunday.

It's the first ever all-women WWE event, so it's been hyped up for several weeks.

Considering the hype, you'd think that WWE would've done a better job shaping the card.

Take a look at what it is right now:


 -    Last Woman Standing match for the SmackDown women's championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. 
      Charlotte Flair

 -    Raw women's championship match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella

 -    NXT women's championship match: Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler

 -    2018 Mae Young Classic finals: Toni Storm vs. Io Shiari

 -    NXT U.K. women's championship match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Isla Dawn

 -    Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss

 -    Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad

 -    Women's battle royal featuring: Alicia Fox, Alundra Blayze, Asuka, Billie Kay, Carmella, 
      Dana Brooke, Ember Moon, Ivory, Kelly Kelly, Lana, Mandy Rose, Maria Kanellis, 
      Michelle McCool, Molly Holly, Naomi, Nia Jax, Peyton Royce, Sonya Deville, Tamina, 
      Torrie Wilson, Zelina Vega



Not bad, overall, but it kind of feels like a lackluster card when you consider what could be done with it.  The women's battle royal seems like it's gotten the Wrestlemania 25 battle royal treatment rather than something worthwhile.

Nattie, Sasha and Bayley taking on the Riott Squad?  Well, gee.  That's a match that you could see ... on any episode of Raw.

Kairi Sane and Shayna have produced some good matches in their feud, but it certainly lacks the intensity and the interest that Ember Moon vs. Asuka had.

Nikki Cross vs. Shayna would generate more interest in my opinion.  Shayna is fantastic, but Kairi Sane hasn't really had any character development in a year, so she's somewhat stale.

Becky vs. Charlotte happened several times already.  It's a good feud, but multiple matches will wear the feud out quicker than it should be.

And who in the Hell thought Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella was a good idea?  Yeah, I get it.  Nikki is a 'crossover star,' but most people don't actually know who she is.  Most wrestling fans over the age of 15 groan when they see that she's involved in something.

She has worked hard.  I'm not taking that away from her, but she's not competition for Rousey.  Nikki Bella is the Kardashian of the WWE.  She's got her reality shows and she's just a girly girl.  Look at her mannerisms on Raw.

They were feminine.  Nothing wrong with that, but you compare that to someone like Rousey?

She has the stance of a fighter and isn't worried about her skimpy shorts or her hair extensions.  No comparison.

Rousey is the legit fighter here and she's just wasting her time with Nikki BellaThat's the frustrating part about this match.

Alexa Bliss wasn't a match for Ronda either.  She's fun to listen to on the mic and is OK in the ring, but she's tiny and not nearly skilled enough to put up a legit fight against Rousey.  That was a hard feud to sit through as well.

Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey?  That's a match that I can get into.

Rousey vs. Mickie or Nattie?  Absolutely.

Rousey vs. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka?  Please, make it happen!

But Rousey vs. Nikki Bella?  Geesh.


So, today, I'm going to pitch you something different.  I'm going to pitch you a better card for Evolution.  I think it's better anyway.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.


PRE-SHOW MATCH:

NXT gauntlet match: MJ Jenkins vs. Taynara Conti vs. Reina Gonzalez vs. Aliyah vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Vanessa Borne vs. Lacey Lane vs. Mia Yim
   Time: 14 mins

This allows each woman to showcase a bit of her talent without having a full-on 10-woman match or a dreaded tag match.  I'd probably give Mia Yim or Deonna Purrazzo the win here.

I'm sure all of these women would love the idea of being able to compete on this night, despite the fact that it's a pre-show match.  It's still a chance to compete at a level they haven't gotten to compete at before.


MAIN CARD:

4 corner match to crown the new WWE Women's Tag Team Champions: Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. The IIconics vs. The Bella Twins vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya DeVille
   Time: 12 mins

This match just makes sense.  WWE has been teasing the idea of traveling women's tag team titles for several months now.  Every woman on the roster has seemingly been asked about it in a public forum and has said 'Yes, let's do it!'

The first all-women's event seems to be a good place to bring back the women's tag team titles --- especially since, you know, they have tag matches every week anyway.

Missed opportunity here, in my opinion.

WWE didn't even need to hold an entire tournament.

There could've been qualifying matches on the Raw and Smackdown episodes prior to Evolution.  The Bella Twins vs. Bayley and Sasha vs. The Riott Squad in a triple threat tag match. 

The Bellas win and advance to Evolution. 

The next week Bayley and Sasha face The Riott Squad for the remaining Raw spot in the match.  Bayley and Sasha win and move on to Evolution.

Same thing on Smackdown.  The IIconics vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya vs. Asuka and Naomi. 

The IIconics win and move on. 

Next week it's Mandy Rose and Sonya vs. Asuka and Naomi.  Sonya pins Naomi and her team moves on to this match.

2 Raw teams against 2 Smackdown teams for the revived women's tag team titles.

I think it would've worked, but WWE didn't bite the bullet yet.

To keep with the Daniel Bryan / Miz / Maryse / Brie Bella feud, I'd book Maryse for interference in this match.

Maryse appears and takes out Brie ... the two brawl to the back, leaving Nikki alone in the match. Choose your winner from there (I'd probably go with Sasha and Bayley).


NXT UK Women's Title Match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Isla Dawn
   Time: 8 mins

Rhea would retain. Match serves it's purpose of introducing fans to the NXT UK brand and showcasing that brand's champion (Rhea).  Nothing too crazy, but hopefully a solid match.


Exhibition Match: Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler
   Time: 12 mins

The Queen of Harts vs. the Queen of Spades. Both are pals with Ronda Rousey.

 The buildup could've included some teases at Ronda Rousey possibly having to choose sides in the future between her former MMA pal (Shayna) and her new WWE best friend (Nattie).

Could go either way on the victory. I'd give it to Nattie since she's been around longer. Shayna could do a post-match attack and stomp on Nattie's arm, injuring her. Beth Phoenix (Nattie's friend who will be ringside for commentary) can check on Nattie while Shayna smiles deviously in the ring.

Nattie gets a feel-good victory on a historic night, Shayna gets some heat and it sets up possible tension between Shayna and Ronda (a money match in terms of the women).  Or it could lead to the WWE's 4 Horsewomen facing MMA's 4 Horsewomen.  Either way works for me.


Mae Young Classic finals: Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
   Time: 18 mins (including buildup package, entrances)

This should, of course, be a good match.  WWE booked it and I like it.  No changes here.

I hope Toni gets the victory.  Io winning the second year after being signed seems too familiar to Kairi winning the first Mae Young Classic.

Unless Io turns heel on Kairi or Kairi turns heel on Io, I don't think Io should win.  Like I said before, Kairi barely has any character development at this point.  Io would be like Kairi 2.0 (and Kairi is kind of like Asuka 2.0 due to the lack of character development).


6 Pack challenge for the NXT Women's Title: Kairi Sane (c) vs. Bianca Belair vs. Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai vs. Nikki Cross vs. Lacey Evans
   Time: 12 mins

Kairi defends against these talented 5 ladies.  NXT has a lot of talented ladies, despite the fact that they aren't the 4 Horsewomen or Carmella or Alexa Bliss or Asuka or Nia Jax.

A 6 pack challenge is nice because it allows everyone to hit their spots and limits the possibility of mess-ups.  It also allows for someone to win without anyone else losing credibility.

I'd throw a title switch in with this match.  Nikki Cross or Candice LeRae or Bianca Belair winning it could be good.  I'd probably go with cross or Belair so that Kairi could chase the title into Survivor Series weekend with a 1-on-1 rematch.


#1 contender women's Battle Royal

    Time: 17 mins (full entrance for each woman and then the match)

Alicia Fox, Alundra Blayze, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Ember Moon, Ivory, Jessie Elaban (NXT), Jinny (NXT UK), Kacy Catanzaro (NXT), Kavita Devi (NXT), Kelly Kelly, Lana, Liv Morgan, Maria Kanellis, Molly Holly, Naomi, Nia Jax, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Tamina, Torrie Wilson, Zelina Vega

When WWE first announced that there were going to be 50 or 60 women involved, you knew there had to be a battle royal.  It makes sense.  Get them all out there for some TV time and a little participation in the historic night.

I do like that it's not for a cheap trophy (see Wrestlemania earlier this year), but this is the third battle royal the women have had this year.  Annnnnd the second women's Royal Rumble is happening in less than 3 months.

Granted, the Royal Rumble is a little different due to competitors coming out in two-minute (or 90 second) intervals.

I hope WWE gives these women enough time for separate entrances and enough time to attempt to tell a story in the ring.

I'd keep the match but change up a few of the participants, removing Mandy Rose, Sonya DeVille, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay so they can compete in the tag title match I mentioned above.

Ideally booked, I'd get rid of Maria and Kelly and Torrie first, along with most of the NXT ladies.

Highlights from the match could include:

  • Alundra, Ivory and Molly (the legends) facing off against Ruby, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan (the newbies).
  • Zelina mouthing off to a Nia Jax or a legend (fits in with her character very well)
  • a fun spot with the pint-sized and speedy Kacy Catanzaro (maybe with Nia Jax or Kavita Devi)
  • Liv Morgan facing off against Kelly Kelly (or maybe Torrie Wilson?)
  • a near elimination with Naomi

I think I'd give the win to Nia Jax.  She may need it the most out of the bunch.


Wrestlemania rematch: Charlotte vs. Asuka
   Time: 20 mins

Charlotte got the victory on Asuka at Wrestlemania and Asuka has kind of floundered since then.  Her tag team with Naomi wouldn't be bad if there were actual women's tag team titles to compete for, but there aren't.  So, it's just a pointless tag team formation at this point.

I'd let them have a great match, but involve Becky Lynch (to further the feud with Charlotte).

Becky brings out an interviewer and says she should be interviewed before her epic match against Ronda Rousey. Yet who is on TV? Charlotte Flair.

 Of course, Charlotte is distracted by this long enough for Asuka to slap on the Asuka lock and get the victory.  Becky heads to the back, happy with the result of the match.


Tag team match: Mickie James and Alexa Bliss vs. Lita and Trish Stratus
   Time: 15 mins

This is only the 3rd match out of all of them that WWE have booked for Evolution that I actually agree with.

Mickie has a history with Lita and Trish. Alexa is WWE's current version of Trish.

 All 4 involved are big enough names to warrant a tag match without any titles on the line or #1 contenderships to worry about.

I don't even care who wins.  I'm just happy to see this match happening.


Champion vs. Champion match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Becky Lynch (c)
   Time: 15 mins (including buildup, entrances)

It'd be the master of the armbar vs. the master of the armbar.  While Becky is on a role, she hasn't been pushed to the moon and back like Charlotte has.  Therefore she's not as big of a name as Charlotte.  She doesn't have the lineage (or a book about the lineage or a WWE Network special about the lineage).

However, I think Becky is a big enough name to take on Ronda, especially since they have similar finishers.  Especially since they are both champions right now.  Especially since Becky is a heel and Ronda is a face.

Talk about a wasted opportunity!  Ronda is facing Nikki Bella when she could be facing Becky Lynch.  This is definitely a facepalm moment. 

Give Nikki Bella her own shot at Ronda at Survivor Series or the next pay-per-view (after some build-up with Nikki and Ronda at the Survivor Series ... not a random heel turn).

I'd book it so that Becky may be considering cheating at some point during the match.

Maybe looking to hit Ronda with a chair, but the ref takes the chair away before she can?  Becky is using the ropes to choke Ronda.  She's using the television camera cord to choke Ronda.  She throws Ronda into the barricade and the ring post.

Becky is looking to cheat a little more, but Charlotte comes down to the ring to attempt to stop Becky.

Charlotte yells at Becky from the ring apron. Becky never actually cheats so the match is still ongoing.  Becky slaps Charlotte across the face. 

Charlotte gets into the ring and goes for a spear. Becky moves. Charlotte hits Rousey with the spear instead!!  Rousey gets the DQ victory. 

Becky beats down Charlotte and Charlotte tries to fight back until the ref breaks that up. Becky leaves the ring, frustrated, but happy.

Rousey is not happy about a DQ win.  She confronts Charlotte.

The two have a stare down and look to get physical, but refs break up the fight before it could happen. Show closes with Rousey in the ring with her Raw Women's Title and Charlotte leaving.

How's that for progressing storylines?

  • You continue the Becky / Charlotte feud (Smackdown's main feud over the Women's Title).
  • You get a tease of Charlotte vs. Rousey (which can take place at Wrestlemania).  
  • You get Ronda vs. Becky (a match that should happen while Becky is on the roll that she's on), but both women look good because nobody officially got beat.  You could do a rematch at the Royal Rumble if both are still champions.

Instead we get 'Total Diva' Nikki Bella vs. Rowdy Ronda Rousey --- the match that generates the least interest out of all the possibilities.

That's it.  That's how I'd book the WWE Evolution pay per view by using the same women WWE already has booked.

If I were completely fantasy booking I'd bring in Kaitlyn, Victoria, Melina and more (and probably would've had a couple of matches in the finals of a women's tag team tournament), but I'm trying to keep my pitch within the parameters WWE already have set up.




Sunday, October 7, 2018

10 TV shows and Movies that are FINALLY on DVD

I've posted a few blogs over the past 5 years about television shows and movies that somehow aren't readily available on DVD.

     -   Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013:
           10 TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD, but should be

     -   Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014:
           10 more TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD, but should be

     -   Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017:
           10 TV shows and movies that STILL aren't on DVD, but should be


Some people claim that the DVD is dying, but I don't think it ever will fully go away.  People still like tangible things.  They like to be the owner of something.

Digital purchases just aren't the same as having a physical DVD copy of your favorite show --- at least in my opinion.

Well, good news: some of that has changed!  Let's take a look at some of the TV shows and movies that finally came out on DVD:



Batman (1960s)

This show never won any awards that I'm aware of, but it is kind of a cult classic.

It's campy, it's out there, and the action scenes are cleverly edited with graphic elements and tilted camera angles.

Amazingly, despite the unbelievable storylines and unrealistic dialogue and being filmed on a studio set, this show holds up pretty well.

I can say that because this series was finally released on DVD in Nov. of 2014 as Batman fans of all ages rejoiced.

  -  Best Buy: $68.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $63.99
  -  WalMart: $54.99
  -  Amazon (Prime): $54.99



The Secret World of Alex Mack (1994-1998)

This was a favorite of mine from the '90s. 

Any Nickelodeon kid will remember it.  It was a fun show about a teenage girl who had an accident that involved a chemical spill. 

The accident resulted in her getting powers. 

She could turn into a liquid-like puddle, she controlled electricity, she could levitate objects and she turned orange when she was nervous.

The complete series was released on DVD in 2017.  I, of course, bought a copy.

  -  Amazon: $16.62
  -  Best Buy: $17.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $28.07
  -  WalMart: $16.62



The Nanny (seasons 4 through 7)

This show was released a year or so ago -- in complete form and with DVD extras.

It was about time, too.  Seasons 1 - 3 were available for several years, but 4 - 7 never ended up getting released.

Apparently all the issues that were lingering previously were all sorted out because it's now available for fans to purchase and enjoy.

It was released in late 2015.

While The Nanny may not have a spot in pop culture the way Seinfeld or The Office does, it was a damn good show with some great one-liners and physical comedy.

  -  Amazon: $73.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $143.45
  -  WalMart: $71.99
  -  Target: $73.99



The Wonder Years (1988-1993)

This was the show that so many people wanted on DVD.  There are a lot of TV shows that people were hoping to purchase, but this show wasn't released for such a long time.  I think a lot of people assumed it would've been released alongside many other shows in the early 2000's.

It's the same story you'll see with a lot of these DVD's that weren't released: music rights.  There were issues that had to be resolved and contracts that had to be signed and royalties paid.

These days most shows get the rights to the music right away or have a clause in there for distribution rights, but nobody anticipated DVD's back in the 1980's and 1990's, so it took a while to sort all of these things out.

Thankfully, those issues were resolved and the complete series was released in Sept. of 2014.

  -  Amazon (Prime): $53.23
  -  WalMart: $55.49
  -  Target: $78.19
  -  Best Buy: $98.99



Good Morning, Miss Bliss

Oh my gosh!  After years and years of fans asking for this, we finally got it.  Shout Factory! released The Complete Saved By The Bell series (including Honeymoon in Vegas and Hawaiian Vacation ... but excluding The New Class) on DVD this month.

It does include Good Morning, Miss Bliss.  I blogged about this one in Feb. of 2017, but SBTB fans have been waiting for it for a while.

It's available at various retailers now:

  -  Amazon: $49.99
  -  Best Buy: $49.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $59.99



The Beverly Hillbillies (kind of)

It seemed like someone was finally going to take control of The Beverly Hillbillies and distribute every season on DVD properly.  There are 5 'official' season available on Amazon, going for between $10 and $15 a season.

There are still the various black and white versions and 'Best of' packs available, but nothing beyond season 5.

I'm not sure what the problem is again.  It was such a classic show and I don't recall seeing it available on Amazon Prime, Netflix or any other streaming services.

Whoever is sitting on the rights to this show needs to get their act together and do the show justice by doing a full and proper release.

There are so many shows out there already on DVD that don't begin to compare to The Beverly Hillbillies.  Very frustrating as a fan.


Season 1:
  -  Amazon: $12.20
  -  Best Buy: $9.99
  -  Target: $14.29
  -  Barnes and Noble: $14.24
  -  Walmart: $12.20

Season 2:
  -  Amazon: $9.96
  -  Best Buy: $9.99
  -  Target: $12.79
  -  Barnes and Noble: $14.24
  -  Walmart: $9.96

Season 3:
  -  Amazon: $11.99
  -  Best Buy: $11.99
  -  Target: $12.79
  -  Barnes and Noble: $16.99
  -  Walmart: $11.99

Season 4:
  -  Amazon: $11.59
  -  Best Buy: $11.99
  -  Target: $11.59
  -  Barnes and Noble: $16.99
  -  Walmart: $11.59

Season 5:
  -  Amazon: $20.59
  -  Best Buy: $22.99
  -  Walmart: $21.74
  -  Target: $20.59




Cinderella

Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella, starring Lesley Ann Warren, was available way back in the early 2000's, but evidently there weren't a lot of copies made because it became impossible to find at in-store or online retailers. 

Used copies were going for higher than $100 on eBay.

I can take the movie or leave it, but I have relatives who are big, big fans, so when it finally was re-released a couple of years ago, it made for a few good Christmas gifts.

  -  Amazon: $7.99
  -  Best Buy: $7.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $14.29
  -  Books-A-Million: $14.93
  -  Target: $8.99



Murphy Brown (seasons 2 - 10) -- possibly coming soon?

Murphy Brown is back in the latest of what's becoming a long list of TV reboots.

I have to assume that maybe -- just maybe -- the show's revival means that there will be a complete series released at some point down the road.

I read that music rights were an issue in the past, but they've had several years to square that situation away.  Maybe they figure it's just not worth the cost to make the DVDs due to all of the music rights they'd have to pay out in royalties.

If the DVD doesn't sell well, then I see why it wouldn't be worth it.  I guess it may depend on how well the new reboot season does.  If nothing else, you'll likely be able to buy the rebooted season(s) on DVD.

Season 1:
  -  Amazon: $14.97
  -  Or various sellers on Ebay



Step by Step -- seasons 1 & 2

Season 1 is available!  It was released this year.  Season 2 has been announced as well. 

Now, Step-by-Step may run into the same fate as The Nanny, Mad About You and Murphy Brown did for several years: stopping after just a couple of seasons.  But hey -- one or two seasons is better than none. 

There's no complete series availability that I'm aware of, but here's to hoping it'll happen.

In the meantime, enjoy the first two seasons.

Season 1:
  -  Amazon (Prime): $24.99
  -  Barnes and Noble: $29.99
  -  WalMart: $24.99
  -  Best Buy: $24.99

Season 2:
  -  Amazon (Prime): $23.52
  -  WalMart: $23.52



Unfortunately, there are still several TV shows and movies that aren't available yet.  We'll see if that changes ...

STILL NOT ON DVD:


  • Two of a Kind
  • Frozen Assets
  • The Naked Truth
  • Suddenly Susan
  • Yes, Dear
  • Brotherly Love
  • Smart Guy
  • Spin City
  • Still Standing
  • Ready or Not (1993-1997)
  • The Elf Who Saved Christmas (1992)
  • Susie Q (1995)
  • Ocean Girl (1994-1997)
  • Spellbinder (1996)
  • The Torkelsons/Almost Home (1991 - 1993)
  • The Parent Trap III and IV
  • The Golden Palace
  • Flash Forward
  • Empty Nest
  • To Grandmother's House We Go
  • The Boyfriend School / Don't Tell Her It's Me




Related Content:
10 TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD, but should be
10 more TV shows and movies that aren't on DVD, but should be
10 TV shows and movies that STILL aren't on DVD, but should be