Thursday, January 24, 2019

The weight of our words and the consequences that come with them

The conversation about the MAGA hat teens / Nathan Phillips / the Black Hebrew Israelites continues to spark debate in our national dialogue.

I guess that means another blog post on my part.

Now that Phillips has given about a dozen interviews and the teen spoke on TODAY, I think it should die down.  Sure, the memes will still survive, but by the Super Bowl, it will be in the rear view.  Hopefully the government shutdown will be over by then and there will be other things to talk about.

This entire situation morphed into several other debates, however, so the fallout keeps generating talk this week.

The clothing we wear:

I don't own a  MAGA hat, I don't want to own a MAGA hat and I don't want to wear a MAGA hat.  That being said, if someone wants to wear one, it's his or her right to do so.

Trevor Noah weighed in on the hat situation and said, essentially, that they know what MAGA hat has come to symbolize, so they shouldn't be wearing it.

Isn't that the opposite of the argument we use for sexual harassment and rape victims?

'She was wearing skimpy clothing, so she wanted to have a good time.'   That's what people use as an excuse and we don't let that slide.  Why does it get a 'pass' in this instance.

I've also seen people bring up Trayvon Martin and how people said, 'Well, you shouldn't wear a hoodie if you don't want to look suspicious.'  I do remember seeing some people express that viewpoint on social media.

People also call anyone who wears their pants near the ground are 'thugs.'

Number 1)    wearing a skimpy outfit doesn't mean you deserve to be raped
Number 2)    Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie obviously doesn't justify being shot
Number 3)    the MAGA teens shouldn't have been aggressively confronted by adults because of the hats they were wearing

The consequences we reap:

Now that I've said those things, there does come some responsibility and consequences with wearing anything.

That's a reality of life.

Wearing anything that makes you stand out will make you ... stand out.

Skimpy clothing will attract attention.  Wearing a hoodie may make you look suspicious.  Wearing a pro-Trump hat may get you a face-to-face confrontation with an angry anti-Trumper.

The consequence in making a political or cultural statement by wearing a pink pussy hat or a red MAGA hat is that people who disagree with our viewpoint (statement) may be upset with you.

They may (but shouldn't) judge you for wearing that MAGA hat.  They may project every negative feeling they have about Trump onto you, just as those who see a woman in a short skirt assume she's looking to get some.

The responsibilities we have:

The responsibility that we have when seeing someone dressed in a way we don't agree with is not to antagonize that person.

I wouldn't wear an Obama shirt to a Trump rally.  I wouldn't wear a MAGA hat to the Democratic National Convention.  I wouldn't wear a shirt with a middle finger on it into a grade school.

That's just common courtesy, something a lot of people don't exercise while exercising their free speech.

Monday, January 21, 2019

What happened with Covington Catholic / Nathan Phillips / House of Israel D.C.?

I hate to post all these more serious blogs over the past few months (I much prefer comic book talk), but it seems that’s how society is right now.  That’s how I am too, I guess.

It’s a constant political / economical / racial thought process because that’s what is plastered all over Twitter and in the media.

This weekend was different though.  It was really an eye-opener for me.  

I know that the people of the U.S. are divided on many issues.  Most people I know (of all races, genders and backgrounds) tend to continue on with daily life.  Entertainment and sports sometimes take focus and can kind of tuck away the differences we have.  

When everyone is talking about a football game or a UFC fight or which movie will get an Oscar, it’s easy to forget the vast difference of opinions we have and how two people can view the same situation entirely different.

I saw a video on Saturday that went viral.  The headlines read something like this: 'On Friday, during the Indigenous Peoples March, a group of Make America Great Again hat-wearing white Catholic teenagers surrounded a Vietnam war veteran / indigenous man while he was beating his drum and singing a Native prayer.'

So, basically, a MAGA hat-wearing punk confronted the man, stared him down and wouldn’t move out of his way.

I clicked on a Tweeted cell video that included a short interview with the man --- Nathan Phillips --- taken the evening this unfolded.  He heard singing and chants of ‘Build That Wall.’  He went on to talk emotionally (wiping tears from his eyes at times) talk about the state of the country.

I didn’t necessarily think much of it because: A) when isn’t there some kind of confrontation in the news? B) I know to take all news with a grain of salt and C) there’s no direct impact on my life.

That’s not to say that people aren’t impacted by things that don’t directly involve them.  There’s always something you can take away from a situation, especially if you take a few moments to empathize and reflect.

I carried a few thoughts about respect and cultural tension away with me when I clicked away from the tweet that described the situation in 160 characters or less.  

Mostly, I was disheartened that people couldn't converse with each other without confrontation during the various marches that happen.

But I continued on with my day (my laundry wasn’t going to take care of itself).

Later that evening, I was on YouTube and saw a couple of 2 or 3-minute cell phone videos that showed different angles of what happened.

From the video I saw, Nathan Phillips wasn’t surrounded by the students with the goal of impeding his way to the top of the Lincoln Memorial stairs.  He walked towards the group of high school students to begin with.  That didn't match a previous article that I read, but I didn't think much of it.

Then I saw another video. This video was a close-up of what happened (you can watch it here), while also providing a different angle.  From this video, Nathan Phillips approached a teen (at 00:23) while playing his drum and then (at approximately 00:46), he approached the now infamous man in the red hat.
I was confused because I wasn’t seeing the same thing that a bunch of tweets (enough to make it a trending topic on Saturday) indicated.

I read multiple articles about it, watched a CNN interview with Nathan Phillips and saw a tweet from WKRC reporter Adam Clements.  The tweet from Clements included a response from a student who was there at the Lincoln Memorial.

The story that was coming from one side wasn’t adding up with the story coming from the other side. The headlines and tweets weren’t matching the video I saw.  

Finally, I saw a video posted to YouTube that showed 1:46:18 worth of what happened (you can watch it here). The video was shot by House of Israel D.C. member Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan.  He apparently pulled it from social media, but not before someone else grabbed it.

So, I grabbed as much of the available cell phone footage of the incident that I could and put together a YouTube video: What happened with the Covington Catholic / Nathan Phillips situation?

On Sunday, Indian Country Today posted 4 videos to their Vimeo Channel (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), so you can take a look at those to evaluate the situation further.

Here’s my analysis of what happened:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

About that controversial Gillette commercial (public service announcement?)

Everything is controversial these days, right?

Even Gillette commercials aren't without controversy.  Then again, what they released wasn't so much a commercial for their products as it was a public service announcement.

It's even called "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film)"

I watched the entire commercial (you can watch it by clicking HERE) after seeing such an online conversation about it.

I didn't exactly know what to expect.

Overall, I don't have any issue with it.

As someone who grew up in the 90s, I think it would've been a little more positive to have some male role models that didn't fall within the traditional male stereotypes.

You were either:
 - the hero / tough guy (Batman, James Bond, Bruce Willis in Die Hard)
 - a nerd (like Screech, Steve Urkel, the blue Power Ranger, Roger from Sister, Sister)
 - a jock (Slater, etc., etc.)
 - slick and smooth (Will Smith, Jerry Maguire, Zack Morris, Joey Tribbiani)
 - a rebel (Bart Simpson, Luke Perry in 90210, Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World)
 - had questionable gender preferences (Frasier Crane, Niles Crane)
 - or had zero sex appeal (George Costanza, Kramer)

Almost every bad guy in a movie smacked a woman at some point or would try to kidnap her for who knows what.

There wasn't much room for just being a normal guy who didn't want to hurt a woman, who was still attracted to women, who cared about his future, who wanted to do well in school and who wanted to have some fun at the same time.

I think it's nice that there is a little more variety out there now.  The guys on Big Bang Theory aren't just nerds.  There are some dimensions to them.

Anything that promotes just a little more variety is OK in my book.

At the same time, there were a couple of moments that I questioned in the commercial:

1. Don't approach a hot looking woman?

One moment is where a female is walking on a crowded city block and ends up walking by a couple of guys standing nearby.

One guy, obviously interested, appears to move to follow her.  His buddy (or seemingly maybe even a random stranger walking out of the building) stops him and says 'Not cool.'

What's not cool?  Being attracted to a female and having the guts to approach her (not always the easiest thing to do)?

If he's a creepy stalker dude who won't take 'No' or 'Get lost!' for an answer, then that's not cool.

But simply being a man who is attracted to a woman isn't a 'Not cool' situation, so that was a little odd.

I assume they were trying to indicate that it's 'not cool' to objectify women, but it didn't come across that way.  Poor execution on that part of the ad.

2. The line of grills

I'm not sure what the point was in having all those men lined up by grills.

Grilling is a male stereotype I guess.  So, in a way the ad reinforced that.  But why pair that image with a line of men excusing bad behavior by saying 'boys will be boys.'

That didn't seem to really have a purpose.

3. No roughhousing allowed ... even outdoors where you won't break anything

The last part that didn't seem to correlate with the message of "The Best Men Can Be" is when the father stops his two kids from wrestling in the grass.

This wasn't an all-out fight.  It was just two kids having fun --- the same way dogs do in all the videos people post to YouTube.  Why exactly did they need to be broken up?

It's important to have a conversation --- to make sure your child knows the difference between roughhousing and actual fighting (and bullying).

But since when did roughhousing become a bad thing?

I don't know if they legitimately are trying to say boys (and girls, for that matter) can't roughhouse or if that was supposed to be an actual physical fight with ill will involved.  Either way, it didn't work.

I think what people probably disliked about the video is that someone is, once again, telling you how to think and how to act.

It kind of goes along with a previous blog post I made about all of those web articles that overuse the phrase '10 things you NEED to know about (insert topic here).'

Someone told me in one of my journalism classes in college that people don't like to be told how to think. You can't present information to them in a lecturing kind of way.

I agree with that.

Instead of lecturing to people on how to be a better man, maybe just highlight and celebrate positive male role models that are out there?

So while the ad had some good intent and overall I had no issue with it, I can see why others did.  It comes across in a very 'lecturing' kind of way.

While it urged people to be a good father (who can argue with that?) and not film women who don't want to be filmed at pool parties (who does that anyway?), it also seemingly inadvertently indicates that roughhousing is not OK and that it's not acceptable to be attracted to and approach a woman.

Gillette's intentions may have been in the right place, but they missed the mark as many times as they nailed it in this ad.

It got people talking, I guess.  So there's that.

My most anticipated movies of 2019

With 2018 officially behind us and January half over, I figure it's high time I take a look into our cinematic future.

2019 certainly seems like it's going to be a Will Smith kind of year.  He's going to be in:
  • Aladdin (as Genie)
  • Geimini Man
  • Spies In Disguise
Smith's son, Justice, is also going to be in a POKÉMON Detective Pikachu.

What great movies (and which box office bombs) are you most looking forward to seeing?

Here's my list (and a few predictions).

The movies I'm most looking forward to seeing:

Avenger: Endgame

I mean, who can seriously compete with this one?  Avengers: Endgame will be the conclusion to the current phase of Marvel's Cinematic Universe.  It's the first two-parter Marvel movie that has come out so far.

In theaters: April 26


This looks like a fun movie!  Some of my family members are skeptical of it, but I'm excited.  I think it'll be a lighter side of DC.  A little more comedy.  I hope it's not too comedic.  I want to take Shazam seriously.

But I think it's a great decision to put this movie (a different direction than previous DC movies) out at a time when Marvel is putting out their version of Wonder Woman in the form of Capt. Marvel.

It's different enough that it will have its' own identity.  The movie certainly doesn't appear to be taking itself too seriously, but I think it'll still be a respectable superhero movie.  The one I'd say it's probably most comparable to is the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Who would've thought that there'd be such mass appeal to a talking raccoon and a talking tree?  Shazam has the opportunity to live in that same zany superhero movie realm.  I think it will thrive there and will be a surprise hit with critics and fans alike.

In theaters: April 5

Spider-Man: Far From Home
The first Spider-Man was awesome!  One of my favorite Marvel movies, by far. 

I don't want them to change the Mary Jane, Felicia Hardy, Flash (etc.) characters too much, but I liked Ned and the updated take on Spider-Man.

The MJ (who isn't Mary Jane?) character is good too (so long as she isn't actually Mary Jane).

The other Spider-Man movies started with Parker's senior year in high school.  He graduated by the end of their first movies.

I like that these Spider-Man movies are focusing on a teenage Peter Parker trying to be Spider-Man while being in high school.

This franchise is taking it slow.  I like that.  I like it a lot.

I'm definitely going to go see it, I'm going to try to avoid trailers and I'm hoping it won't disappoint.

In theaters: July 5

Dark Phoenix

The X-Men franchise is often credited with kicking off the superhero genre back in 2000.  It's been a messy, zig-zagging franchise.  It certainly wasn't planned out the way Marvel was with Phase I, II, etc.  I'd argue that it wasn't even as organized as DCEU's plan with the Justice League characters.

That being said, I once had little faith that they'd be able to tie it all together.  They've done a remarkable job at attempting to do just that.  My only complaint about the young Jean Grey is that she looks nothing like the adult Jean Grey.

Sophie Turner is apparently a good actress.  I know she's developed a following after her time on Game of Thrones, but I've never seen the show, so I can't attest to that.  She was fine in X-Men: Apocalypse.  All of the X-Men were fine in that movie.  Apocalypse was awful!  Let's forget about him, though.

The Phoenix (and Dark Phoenix) Saga is one that is a staple of the X-Men franchise, but it's never been brought to the big screen before.  Hopefully this movie lives up to the anticipation.

I want to see the X-Men franchise go to space like the saga shows.  I don't want some internal Phoenix the way X-Men 3: The Last Stand tried to present the story.  Let's hope they get it right this time around.

In theaters: June 7


Speaking of Phoenix --- let's talk Joaquin Phoenix.  He's going to follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto as The Joker.  This movie is not going to be intertwined into the DCEU.  It's a standalone movie about The Joker.  It's an odd decision to do this.

Apparently this will be gritty and geared towards adults and set in the 1980s as well.  I'm not sure what to think about this movie.  Venom was a standalone movie that most people weren't looking forward to, but then they saw the trailer and flipped with excitement.

It may be a similar situation here.  I have a feeling it won't leave many people in the middle.  They'll either love it or hate it.  For DC's sake, I'm hoping people love it.

In theaters: October 4

Captain Marvel

I'm not 100% behind this one yet.  I have faith that it will be good because it's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

They rarely get things wrong.  That being said, I like Ms. Marvel and that presentation better than Captain Marvel.

I prefer the old outfit and the old name.  But I guess the Capt. Marvel name and attire is more gender-empowering.

Nonetheless, I like that they're going to do a little backstory movie here and that it will involve the Kree.  I'm hoping it's a good movie (pretty sure it will be) and that it will mesh well with the rest of the MCU movies.

It's a movie I'll definitely go see, but it's not the one I'm most excited to see this year.

In theaters: March 8

Star Wars: Episode IX

Eh.  Anticipated?  Dreaded?  Not sure how I feel about Star Wars.

I am NOT a fan of Rian Johnson and his repeated defenses of his indefensibly bad take on Star Wars.  I'm fine with the idea that regular people could be Jedi.  I'm fine with a diverse cast.

What I'm not fine with is the non-explanation explanation they gave as to why Rey has Jedi powers, what the hell the force even is, why the force lives on a single planet (and the dark side apparently in a little hole), why Princess Leia is all-of-the-sudden not killable and has more powers than Yoda by floating through space and why Rey and Kylo Ren have a connection.  That's a lot of question marks for one Star Wars movie.

They're not the kind of questions that you just gloss over by making the rest of the movie spectacular.  They're questions regarding central plot points.

However, I'm very happy to see JJ Abrams taking the helm again.  That gives me some hope.  You could say a 'new hope' (sorry, I had to).

I hope he can salvage what's left of the Star Wars universe.  Solo (despite being built on the stupid idea of trying to find a young Harrison Ford) was a good movie.  Rogue One and The Force Awakens were two of the best movies of the franchise.

I hope J.J. Abrams can take this messy middle part of the latest trilogy and connect all the dots in Episode IX.  I don't have high hopes, but I'll probably give it a shot on the big screen.

In theaters: December 20

The New Mutants

I can't say this movie intrigued me too much upon seeing the initial trailer.  It looks like a horror movie, but didn't really seem to fit into the X-Men franchise.  It didn't really look like a great horror story either, to be honest.

I'm hoping that the year or so delay will help bring it back into the X-Men franchise without losing the horror movie feel.

If you're talking teenage mutants and whatnot, Stranger Things has done a good job with that market.

I think it's awesome that superhero movies are expanding and branching out.  Wonder Woman was a solo female superhero movie.   The Black Panther featured black actors.  Logan was like an R-rated movie with an old western feel.  Aquaman was an underwater adventure.  Deadpool was an R-rated comedy.

Superhero movies have to branch out and going into the horror genre makes sense.  I just hope it's still a superhero movie.  I've seen Saw, Scream and other horror movies.  They were OK.

But I'm not going to see this movie so I can see a horror movie.  I want to see a superhero horror movie.  Make sense?

In theaters: August 2

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Other movies:

Those are the (mostly superhero) movies that I'm most looking forward to seeing.  However, there are quite a few other movies coming out in 2019.

I don't think I'll see these in the theater, but here are some of the others that could be OK --- at least worth a rental.

What Men Want

I saw a trailer for this movie over Christmas and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

When I heard they were basically updating What Women Want, it sounded like another example of Hollywood going back to the well (maybe too often) and not coming up with anything original.

While I don't think this movie will break any records at the box office, it will probably do OK.

In theaters: Feb. 8

Isn't It Romantic

This seems like it could be a fun movie. It may be kind of a modern mix between Groundhog Day and Enchanted. It’s about a skeptical woman who ends up finding herself in a romantic comedy. 
Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth aren’t box office heavyweights but are well known.  They seemed to have a decent enough chemistry together. I think this will be a good one for both of them. 

I highly doubt I’ll see this in the theater but I’ll check it out as a rental. 

In theaters: Feb. 14

Five Feet Apart

This may be a good movie.  It'll probably be a tearjerker though, so be ready.

Two patients who have cystic fibrosis are not supposed to be near each other --- hence the name 'Five Feet Apart.'  It looks like an OK story, even if the previews kind of give away most of the plot.

I don't know if I'll watch it because it seems very much like a drama that you'd need a Kleenex box for, but maybe I'll pick it up at some point on Redbox.

In theaters: March 22


I never saw the original. I wasn’t too familiar with the character. I did actually just buy the original on DVD from one of those bins filled with $3 DVDs. So I intend to watch it before this movie comes out. 

I assume I won’t see it in the theater unless the 2005 version is amazing. A lot of pressure on that movie!

I’ll get this on Redbox regardless of how the previous version was.

I don’t see Hellboy being a huge hit because he’s not a character people are too familiar with. I wasn’t and I’m a pretty big superhero fan.

The other reason is because it comes out in just a few months and I’ve seen almost zero advertisement for it.  Today was actually the first time I saw a trailer in the theaters for this movie.

The trailer seemed like it tried to utilize a lot of comedy, but I'm not sure if it will land the way they want it to.

In theaters: April 12

MIB: International

Nobody really asked for a Men in Black reboot, but Hollywood recycles ideas, so it's not surprising.  Besides rebooting the franchise, they are getting two people who have already starred together in an action-comedy.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tessa Thompson (The Valkyrie, from Thor: Ragnarok) will co-star in this movie.

Despite not really being something people were yearning for, I think it'll be a good movie.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is a tough duo to beat, but this should have a different, yet similar flavor to the previous MIB movies.

The thing that I like about this movie -- and the only reason I'm giving it a chance -- is that they didn't recast the characters.  They didn't try to replace Smith and Jones with new actors.  They're introducing us to new agents (and tying it into the previous trilogy).

That's OK in my book.  I'm not a fan of recasting different people to portray the same characters, especially so soon after the originals.

MIB: International is in theaters: June 14

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The Disney factor:

It's going to be a Disney 2019.  Not only is Avengers: Endgame coming out.  But they are remaking three of their classic animated movies into live action movies.  Big money coming their way in 2019, regardless of the quality of those movies.


I'm not sure this qualifies as 'live action' but it's probably more 'live action' than the Lion King movie because it stars some human actors, too.  I have a feeling fans may generally like this movie more than The Lion King or maybe even Aladdin because the animated Dumbo, while good, isn't the modern day classic that The Lion King and Aladdin are.

Hollywood has come a long way since the original Dumbo was first released several decades ago.  The way they tell stories has changed.  The live action Dumbo is probably going to make you cry more than the original did.  I think it'll be visually more impressive than the animated version.

The biggest benefit this movie has is that the animated version was done such a long time ago that people won't be comparing it the way they will be comparing the live action Lion King to the animated Lion King.

Plus you've got Tim Burton involved so it should be memorable, whether it's any good or not.

In theaters: March 29


If Dumbo doesn't soar above the box office competition, they can possibly rely on Aladdin.  Though I'm not personally impressed by the casting of Aladdin and Jasmin, I do like the idea of Will Smith being Genie.

The animated film was great, so the live-action version has some big shoes to fill.

So far the costuming doesn't look great.  To be honest, the costuming looks like something you'd find at a cheap Halloween store or maybe a Disney store.  If this is going to be a successful live-action Aladdin, then they need to make it good.

We'll see how it goes.

In theaters: May 24

Toy Story 4

Disney just isn't letting up are they?  Three live-action movies and a Toy Story entry into the 2019 movie mix.

I think I watched Toy Story 2, but I'm not the avid fan that a lot of others are.  I'll have to go back and rewatch the first three.  I don't really remember a lot of them honestly.  I'm sure this will do well at the box office though.

In theaters: June 21

The Lion King

A lot of people who grew up on The Lion King are excited for this movie.  I think it'll be a box office success.  I'm not sure if it will be a critical success or not.  It'll be a financial win for Disney, no doubt.  It's not usual for a Disney movie to at least break even.

Disney has been hit and miss with their live action movies though.

The Jungle Book was an awesome film.  Amazing acting by the child actor, great voiceover work by the rest of the cast, very good visuals and a good telling of the story.  2015's Cinderella wasn't as memorable or anywhere near the best version of that story.

Maleficent was a great retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story and was such a success it's getting a sequel.  2017's Beauty and the Beast was a commercial success and a lot of critics and fans liked it.  Yet, there are several (like me) who felt it wasn't nearly as good as the animated version.

I thought Emma Watson was a great casting choice but my main complaint was the Beast.

Way too much CGI there and, worse than that, it wasn't good CGI.  The Beast's face looked like a sloppy 5th grade drawing.

While The Lion King will do well financially and I have a feeling a lot of fans will like it too, I wonder if it will compare to the animated version.  The animated version was so good that the 'live action' (mostly CGI) version has a lot to live up to.

In theaters: July 19

Frozen 2

I have to wonder if this lives up to the hype of the first movie.  After about 9 months of hearing 'Frozen!  Frozen!  Frozen!' I decided to watch it.  It wasn't bad.

I assume the sequel will be a highlight for all the younger kids who watched the first one.  It comes out over Thanksgiving, too.  Wise choice.

In theaters: Nov. 22

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The Secret Life of Pets 2

Awww man, I loved this movie.  It was such an awesome movie.  Anyone who has a pet should be able to relate to this movie.

I'm not sure where the storylines go for the sequel, but I'll take whatever they throw at me.

In theaters: June 7, 2019

Jumanji 3

Jumanji was a surprise hit and I think the sequel will do well also.  The cast is what will make this movie, even if the story isn't amazing.  This is a great cast that knows how to do comedy, so I have high hopes.

In theaters: Dec. 13

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Here are some movies I don't see doing very well ...

Alita: Battle Angel

This is going to be yet another Hollywood sci-fi bomb.  It may do well overseas as it's a based on Japanese comic Gunnm, but audiences in the U.S. won't connect.  It's too strange, too sci-fi and I'm assuming that the story just won't resonate.

It'll be just like Ghost in the Shell (another manga), Jupiter Ascending, Kin and various other sci-fi movies.  Hollywood just doesn't do that genre well very often.  I don't think this movie will be an exception to that rule.

In theaters: February 14

Fighting with my Family

This movie is based on WWE superstar Paige's life and her journey to WWE.  Outside of hardcore wrestling fans, I don't see many people catching this one.

The Rock has a cameo on it, but the movie just has a strange feel to it based on the previews.

It doesn't look good enough to be a serious drama, but also doesn't look funny enough to be a hilarious comedy.  I think the mixed genre here is going to hurt it.

In theaters: March 1

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu

I'm torn on this one.  On one hand, I could see it being a surprise hit (although I doubt I'll be a fan of it).  On the other hand (the trusty one), I think it's going to be a miss and not a hit.

It stars Will Smith look-a-like: Justice Smith.  The last name is no coincidence.  Justice is Will's son.  Pikachu?  Played by Ryan Reynolds.

It seems like Reynolds will bring his trademark sarcasm to Pikachu.  I don't know if it'll work that well.  Reynolds is becoming a one-trick-pony.  Same thing in every movie.

This may be a turning point for him.  That kind of thing works for Deadpool, but I'm not sure if it'll work for Pikachu.

After seeing this trailer, it seemed like a more friendly version of that awful Ted movie from 2012.  Then again, that was a box office success, so who knows what'll happen.

In theaters: May 10

Charlie's Angels

Elizabeth Banks is going to try her best this go around, but Charlie's Angels is just so overdone.

They tried it with Drew Berrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu in the early 2000's and got two rather crappy movies out of it.  They tried to reboot it as a TV series in the past few years and that didn't work.

Now, it's back to the big screen.  I think a more serious Netflix version could've been good, but I don't know how well this will do.  Even if it is good, there series is generally too campy to be taken the seriously and it's going to have to overcome the odds that the previous versions stacked against it.

The concept is good.  3 female agents doing combat and saving the world.  Seems like it'd work well, but they need to take a more serious tone with the movie.  Not serious as in The Dark Knight trilogy, but they need to take themselves more seriously.

The Men in Black movies are a great example.  It's outrageous and features aliens and all kinds of ridiculous things, but they take themselves seriously so the audience does too.  The first two Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser were the same.

They can't approach this the way the past two movies did: as a campy movie remake of the campy 70's TV show.

I'm not sure if I've done a good job explaining it, but, in my opinion, they have to boost the image by taking a different approach or the results will be the same.

In theaters: November 1

Sonic The Hedgehog

It’s neat to see a classic, beloved video game character coming to the big screen but I’m not sure it’ll turn out too well

Will it be geared towards adults (the fans of the original game) or kids (who probably aren’t too familiar with it)?  Will it be animated or computer animated or live action (with CGI)?

I think those decisions will determine the success factor. They’ve got to appeal to more than just Sonic fans for it to do well. 

You’ve got to try to grab some of the middle-aged and some of the kids too. 

I don’t know if Sonic has that kind of crossover appeal unless they make a fun, interesting trailer and then have a great story to tell. 

I assume this will be like The Smurfs.  Although that spawned three movies, none of them were any good.

In theaters: November 8

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

These movies will probably do well enough, but won't draw like previous movies in the franchises

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

I'm not sure if Hobbs & Shaw will do well or not.  It's not a franchise I've followed.  I watched the first Fast & The Furious way back when, but the horrible Vin Diesel / Paul Walker acting combination turned me off real quick.

Jason Statham and The Rock moved into the franchise and they're action stars.  They're hard to count out.  The last Fast & The Furious movie (they're up to 8 or 9 now, right?) did very well based on the box office numbers and reports, so I assume this one could follow that trend.

It'll be interesting to see if the branching out here hurts the franchise or improves it.

In theaters: August 2

Kingsman: the Great Game

Kingsman 2's box office wasn't what the first one was.  I see the same thing happening here, which is what usually happens in trilogies.  Unless it's a blockbuster trilogy, then the third movie rarely does as well as the first and this is no blockbuster trilogy.

I was never a big fan of the franchise, but I know some are.  I don't think those fans will be able to get a fourth installment green-lit by the studios because the box office for the Great Game won't live up to expectations.  That's my prediction anyway.

In theaters: Nov. 8

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Who could, should, won't and shouldn't show up at WWE's 2019 men's Royal Rumble?

The Royal Rumble is one of my favorite matches of the year.  It's kind of like an Avengers movie.  You see all kinds of interactions (and surprise returns) that you don't see any other time of year in any other match.

I blogged about some potential female returns yesterday, so today let's talk about the guys.

It's interesting that I had a little bit of trouble coming up with this list.  Several former female superstars could easily return for one more match.

A lot of the former male superstars are, sadly, deceased.  Or they are with another company (John Morrison, Cody Rhodes, etc.).

That makes it a little tricky to get a good list of possible surprise Rumble entrants.

I assume we'll see some returns at the Rumble since there are several Superstars who are currently injured (and may be ready to go by January 27).

  • Braun Strowman
  • Kevin Owens
  • Sami Zayn
  • Fandango
  • Roman Reigns
  • Harper
  • Rowan
  • Matt Hardy
  • Sin Cara
  • Tye Dillinger

I'm not sure how likely a Reigns return is.  I guess it has been a few months since he stepped away to battle leukemia.  I'm not familiar enough with his case to have any idea how soon a return could happen.  If he showed up at the Rumble I think he'd get a huge reaction --- very different from his previous Rumble appearances.

WWE has also been using at least one or two NXT talents in the Rumble each year.

I assume they'll be using Adam Cole, Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black or Velventeen Dream this year.

Honestly, I kind of dislike it when WWE uses their NXT talent for the Rumble because they have a very large male roster already.

That means, if NXT talent is used, there are less spots for members of the main roster and less room for surprise returns.

The surprise returns are one of my favorite parts of the match!

Here's who I'd like to see show up (and a few that may show up whether I want them to or not!).


It's been close to a decade since Carlito last performed in WWE.  He's done some independent shows, but he never made his way back to WWE.  His brother and cousin have been employed for several years now, filling up the tag team division.

I don't know what kind of shape Carlito is in, but I know the crowd in Phoenix would give a massive pop if they heard Carlito's signature theme music play out, 'I spit in the face of people who don't want to be cool.'

It's been so long since his character was around that the entire roster has changed.  I could see his character having some fun showdowns with: Lio Rush, Andrade Almas, Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler, a returning Kevin Owens or even Heath Slater.

Better yet, could you imagine Carlito spitting his chewed up apple in the face of Shinsuke Nakamura?

Verdict: won't appear

Scott Hall

Kevin Nash has returned at the Rumble.  DDP did.  It'd be nice to see their buddy, Scott Hall, return in his Outsiders or n.W.o. personal.  No Razor Ramon for me, please.

I know Scott is doing well and is on good terms with WWE as he just recently spent some time helping the young talent down at the WWE Performance Center.

There's an entire generation of current WWE wrestlers who would be honored to step into the ring with him because they watched Razor / Hall on Raw and Nitro in the '90s.

Zack Ryder, Seth Rollins, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler all look up to the guy.  They've said so in previous interviews.

I assume the likes of Kofi Kingston, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton, Xavier Woods, Tony Neese and others have similar feelings.

Verdict: won't (but should!) appear

Brodus Clay

This is a smart, talented big man who couldn't seem to make it in WWE or in Impact Wrestling.  He was misused time and time again.  I thought he should've had more of a 'monster' gimmick than his Funkasaurus schtick, though it was fun.

Brodus Clay (or 'Tyrus' as he was named in TNA) can be seen on Fox News each Saturday evening.  I don't know if he's had any contact with WWE since he left, but he's real-life friends with EC3, right?  It never hurts to have friends in the right places.

I'd love to see Brodus come out and make a couple of eliminations, only to have a confrontation with a returning Braun Strowman (and be eliminated) or Samoa Joe or even Rusev.  Those interactions would all be entertaining to watch.

Verdict: won't appear

Jeff Jarrett

Now would be the right time for this 2018 Hall of Fame inductee to make an appearance.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he hasn't had any kind of in-ring return with WWE.  Jarrett isn't Kurt Angle, so I doubt they'd ever sign him to compete full-time again or even on a part-time basis.

That's why a Rumble appearance is perfect.  It's a one-night appearance.  He's a veteran who works safe.

He can create a little moment with Elias in the ring.  Maybe start a little duet together, only for Elias to eliminate him and shrug it off since it's every man for himself.

For some reason I could see Jarrett and the Singh brothers (outside the ring as they manage Jinder Mahal in the match) having a fun interaction.

Jarrett and Rusev could have a fun little spot too.

Verdict: should (and might) appear

Ken Shamrock

This one is a looooong shot because apparently there's heat between Shamrock and Triple H?  Not sure how true that is, but I'd love to see 'the world's most dangerous man' return to WWE.  He thrived there as Intercontinental Champion.  Had he been around today, I think he'd have been a world champion.

He paved the way for the likes of Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler and other MMA fighters to compete in WWE.  He also paved the way for CM Punk and Brock Lesnar to crossover and try their hand at MMA.

He doesn't get enough appreciation for his time at WWE (his feud with The Rock helped cement The Rock's status).

I'd mark out if Shamrock's music hit.

Verdict: should appear, but probably won't

Santino Marella

Santino was one of those great comedy wrestlers in WWE who was also an underdog.  He was annoying when he first started, but whether he was a heel or a face, he did the job so well that you had to like him at some point.

He wont a lot of people over because of his infectious and over-the-top personality along with his unique in-ring moveset.  I mean, by the time he left WWE, he was a respected competitor.

The pop he got during his Elimination Chamber match proves that.

It's been a few years since we've seen Santino in a WWE ring.  2019 feels like the right time for a follow-up appearance.

Verdict: won't appear

The Blue Meanie

If WWE really wanted to pull out a blast from the past, they'd bring in The Blue Meanie.  He had a memorable run and a unique look (gimmick?) back in the 90s.  He had a good run in ECW and in the WWF.

Granted, he never won any titles or even wrestled on pay-per-view in the WWF, but his debut as part of the J.O.B. Squad and eventual unusual alliance with Goldust was interesting.

He came back for ECW's One Night Stand and had the incident with JBL.  WWE owes him a battle royal spot where he won't get beat up.  Philly would've been a better location for this return, but oh well.  WWE missed the boat on that opportunity.

Verdict: won't appear

Kenny or Mikey

The Spirit Squad made a return a few years ago as Miz's cronies.  They didn't end up sticking around with the company though.  I don't know if they're on good terms with WWE, but one of them showing up (just so we can hear the Spirit Squad music again) would be fun. 

Dolph Ziggler could superkick them right over the top rope.  Given Dolph's past as a member of the Spirit Squad, that would be a fun, nostalgic interaction.

Nothing too long or too serious.  Just a little breather from the constant entries of WWE superstars.

Verdict: won't appear


Did Christian ever get his retirement match with WWE?  He's one wrestler who kind of quietly went away.  He's still as visible as ever with his show on the WWE Network alongside his best friend, Edge.

But Christian never got the send off that Edge got.  Even if he never has a 'retirement match,' it would be nice to see him compete one last time.

He's still in great shape.  I don't know if there are concussion issues or if he'd have an issue passing a WWE physical, but if he's able to compete, I'd like to see it happen.

Verdict: won't appear

D'Lo Brown

Shake your head!  D'Lo Brown was awesome.  Any fan from the 90s can tell you that.  His protective vest that he wore long past the point he needed to wear it, his awesome frog splash and his fun on-camera presence made for a good mid-carder and a great European Champion.

D'Lo went on to compete in TNA and made a return to WWE, only to be wasted after two appearances on Raw.

He used to be in good shape.  I'm not sure if he still is.  Will fans remember him?  Well, Lio Rush saw him in Vegas and remembered him, so I don't think that will be an issue for the hardcore WWE fans that are going to be in attendance at the Rumble.

Bring D'Lo back!

Verdict: won't (but definitely should!) appear

Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Here is another one who survived outside WWE.  That's not a surprise though.  He's part of a wrestling dynasty.

Guerrero Jr. appeared in TNA after his release and, most recently, helped train the actresses who are on Netflix's Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.  He probably got a better pay day for the training gig than he did during any recent wrestling appearances.

Guerrero was never my absolute favorite, but he's still awesome.  I think most fans would agree.  He'd get a great pop in Phoenix.

Verdict: won't appear

There are some Superstars who I don't want to see return in the Rumble


He was in the Rumble not too long ago and while he is memorable, it's not necessarily due to overwhelming fan support.  I've got nothing against the guy, but I did have an issue with how WWE booked him.

The constant jobbing of Chavo Jr. and the ridiculous matches and segments that he was involved with are reasons I say, 'leave him in the past.'

Maybe bring him back a few years down the road, but not this year.  I need a 2019 Hornswoggle break.

Verdict: won't (but could) appear

Wade Barrett

I'd like to see Wade Barrett return to WWE full-time.  I think he'd be much more appreciated this time around.  However, I don't want to see him return in the Royal Rumble match.  He's not going to win, so why start him off with a loss?

If they were going to bring him back, I'd like to see him return in a bigger way.  He needs a feud and a story to work with.  Don't just bring him back and throw him into the Rumble.  He'll get lost in the shuffle that way.

If Wade returns to WWE, it should be in a big way because he's got all the potential in the world to be WWE Champion.

Verdict: won't appear

Big Cass

I doubt WWE would even consider bringing him in for the match since he was just released earlier this year.  If they did consider him, I'd prefer they didn't. 

Nothing against Big Cass, since I actually liked him, but it's too soon for a Rumble appearance.  Maybe in 2020 or 2021 if he's still wrestling and hasn't returned by then.  Not now though.

I'd like to see him return full-time if he can maintain the passion for pro wrestling.  Maybe a run in AEW, ROH or Impact would do him well.

Verdict: won't appear

Related Content:
Who could, should, won't and shouldn't show up at WWE's 2nd women's Royal Rumble?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Who could, should, won't and shouldn't show up at WWE's 2nd women's Royal Rumble?

It's January, which means it's Royal Rumble time.

WWE already announced last October that the 2nd ever women's Royal Rumble will be returning this year.

What can we expect out of this match?  Probably a female version of the men's match.

We saw several returning favorites and NXT surprises at the first ever women's Royal Rumble in January 2018:

  • Beth Phoenix
  • Ember Moon (then NXT Women's Champion)
  • Jacqueline
  • Kairi Sane (2018 Mae Young Classic winner)
  • Kelly Kelly
  • Lita
  • Michelle McCool
  • Molly Holly
  • Torrie Wilson
  • Trish Stratus
  • Vickie Guerrero

That's 11 women who competed in the Rumble who weren't on the main roster at the time.

Granted, some of those women probably returned because WWE didn't have enough women on their rosters to fill up a 30-woman battle royal.

But WWE has stacked it's main roster in 2018.  Billie KayPeyton RoyceZelina Vega and Ember Moon were all called up.  Maria and Maryse both returned from having babies.  

That means those 6 will presumably be in this year's match.

If WWE combined their Raw, Smackdown, NXT and NXT UK brands, they could easily get 30 women.

Here's a list of the women on the active roster who could potentially appear in the match:
  1. Alicia Fox
  2. Bayley
  3. Becky Lynch
  4. Billie Kay
  5. Brie Bella
  6. Carmella
  7. Charlotte
  8. Dana Brooke
  9. Ember Moon
  10. Lacey Evans
  11. Lana
  12. Liv Morgan
  13. Mandy Rose
  14. Maria Kanellis
  15. Maryse
  16. Mickie James
  17. Naomi
  18. Natalya
  19. Nia Jax
  20. Nikki Bella
  21. Nikki Cross
  22. Peyton Royce
  23. Ruby Riott
  24. Sarah Logan
  25. Sasha Banks
  26. Sonya DeVille
  27. Tamina
  28. Zelina Vega
That's almost 30 women right there!

That's not counting NXT or NXT UK ladies:

NXT women:
  1. Shayna Baszler (Champion)
  2. Aliyah
  3. Bianca Belair
  4. Candice LeRae
  5. Dakota Kai
  6. Deonna Purrazzo
  7. Io Shirai
  8. Kairi Sane
  9. Mia Yim
  10. Taynara Conti
  11. Vanessa Borne

Developmental women:
  1. Jessie Elaban
  2. Kacy Catanzaro
  3. Kavita Devi
  4. Lacey Lane
  5. MJ Jenkins
  6. Reina Gonzalez
  7. Xia Li

NXT UK women:
  1. Rhea Ripley (Champion)
  2. Isla Dawn
  3. Jinny
  4. Killer Kelly
  5. Toni Storm
  6. Xia Brookside

Still, my hope is that there's some room left open for some surprise returns.

I think we'll see less NXT women this year (last year both Kairi Sane and Ember Moon competed) and we won't see any of the surprise returns who were in the 2018 match (that means no Lita, Trish, Torrie Wilson, etc.).

Bianca Belair or Io Shirai may show up, but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't either.

It's possible Maryse doesn't compete because she's been spending time being a mom and she's more of a manager than a wrestler.

But she has been in mixed-tags in 2018 and she's a former Diva's Champion.  She missed out on last year's match, so I wouldn't be surprised if she'd want to be in on this match.

We know these women won't be appearing in the match:
  • Ronda Rousey (because she's the Raw Women's Champion)
  • Asuka (because she's the Smackdown Women's Champion)
  • Tegan Knox (NXT) - injured
  • Alexa Bliss (possibly still recovering from some concussion issues)

So, there are still a few spots open for surprise returns.

WWE has a surprisingly long list of women who they could turn to for a one-time appearance.

The focus should be on putting over newer talent, of course, but nostalgia is always nice.

Here are some ladies who could return, who should return, who won't return and who shouldn't return:

Melina - I'm a huge fan of Melina, so she's number one on my list.  She was awesome for several years in WWE.  I felt that her time was cut short.

She could've contributed for several more years.  Just look at Mickie!  She's still at it.  Melina could be doing the same.

Her matches with Mickie James on Heat and Raw could still be put up against most matches in the women's evolution and hold their own.

There's a lot of Melina in Sasha Banks, so I'd mark out for a battle between those two.  Melina and Zelina Vega are good friends in real-life, so that'd be fun for them (plus their names rhyme).  Melina and Alicia Fox were good friends.  Melina and Maryse were pals.  Melina and Mickie are still good friends.

The Bellas mentioned Melina in their RF Video shoot as being one of their favorites.  There's a lot of combinations that either A) the fans would like or B) the women themselves would like.

Melina announced late last summer that she was retiring, so chances may be slim, but we all know how retirements in pro wrestling go.

Verdict: should appear