‘Camila’ Is A Reintroduction Filled With A Personal Touch and Epiphany

“Crying in the Club,” the first solo song from Camila Cabella was the world’s first teaser in what was to come from the 20 year old singer – or was it? It’s a mid-tempo sultry dance track that sampled part of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle” for the chorus. Going from a group to solo act encompasses a whole new set of challenges. The heat of the spotlight is just on you alone and the world has to get acquainted with that person – sans a career that feels like a separate entity.

“Crying In The Club” is also not present on Cabella’s debut album. In fact, the album itself is disposal of what you thought you knew. Initially, Cabella’s album was going to be titled The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. While this concept given it’s due within the 10 song personal narrative of her first album, this is a reintroduction. Like a person who left a long time relationship, Cabella gets to properly acquaint herself with the world. “Camila” is just right.

The album starts with “Never Be The Same,” which may throw you for a loop because the opening organ ushers you into a mid-tempo ballad. Right from the beginning, it sets the tone for a personal, emotional experience and not just a pop album that will start off with quintessential top-40 song. The whole album does a balancing act between energy and rumination. Regrets and optimism.

Songs within “Camila” highlight the singer’s strengths creatively. The music arrangements don’t overtake the narrative, but they add to them. There’s a lot of use of piano and sometimes, modern pop formations that guides you into her vocals.  “All These Years” one of the first songs on the album that uses an acoustic guitar open allows Cabella to interweave harmonies that add fullness to her impressive vocal range. There’s another showcase inside the latter half of “In The Dark.”

Cabella and executive producer Frank Dukes come together to make personal touches all throughout the album. They not only play to her strengths as a singer, but nods to her Cuban-Mexican heritage, as well. For instance, the part that the Spanish guitar plays midway through the dance hall vibe of “Inside Out” or the Pharrell-produced hit “Havana,” that sounds like a testament tot the flavors of her hometown in Cuba.

Two themes that run concurrently and eventually clash into each other are control and love. The Skrillex-produced reggaeton tinged “She Loves Control” is a summary of Camila’s personality.  “don’t you try taming the storm” However, with love, you don’t control every outcome with another person involved. You can only surrender to that feeling and hope to not be broken by someone else’s free will. The piano ballad, “Consquences” within the chorus of how love is this combustible element.

When you’re on your own and in a famous position, there’s this need to separate the real from the fake. We tend to think the existence of celebrity with an overabundance of superficially. Cabella is figuring that out both within an particular individual (“In The Dark”) and the L.A. ecosystem (“Real Friends”). Cabella is very much a confident woman who is still figuring things out on this new journey.

“Camila” is a debut solo album from a person who is actively in the process of molding who they are and what they want to be. This is on the outside of expectations or encased within a collection of people. In 2012, Cabella became a part of Fifth Harmony – a collective. Despite all the success, sometimes you just want more.  At 20 years of age, it’s fascinating to walk through a 33 minute journey with something that she can truly call her own.

Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ Shows That Our Heroes Can Fall, Rise, and Teach From An Epiphany

When we think of talent diminishing over time, we look to the aging sport star. Often, the Michael Jordan/Washington Wizards parallel is used. In retrospect, although he wasn’t suspending our disbelief in gravity in his youth, Jordan was still effective when he ended his career at 40 years old. Every once in a while, there would be a burst of speed. The fadaway jumper was still working. (He still averaged 20 points and was the only Wizard to play all 82 games.) No matter the time period, it’s the consensus that Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game.

Cognitive ability is a whole different animal. Some consider rap music a young man’s game where there’s a clear divide between old and new fans. Despite the wisdom, some fans urge older acts to clear the way for the new wave.  Jay-Z‘s 2013 album, Magna Carta Holy Grail was more so a celebration as a modern day artist with lyrics as his canvas as depicted in the song, “Picasso Baby.”

“Leonardo Da Vinci flows
Riccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes
See me throning at the Met”

While reactions to the album were mixed, an appreciation for both the art and artist increases in value over time. Jay-Z mainly stuck to guest verses such as DJ Khaled‘s “I Got The Keys,” Beyonce’s 2015 opus, Lemonade, got fans wondering what if Jay was working on a full length. Did Jay still have much to say in a forum where he has seen it all and done it all?

“Kill Jay-Z” sets a template for where the entire album build it’s foundation. It’s a moment of introspection that splinters throughout the entire album.  Jay explains to iHeartRadio  that this song was about the dismantling of the ego.  Throughout his accent to the all time great status, Jay-Z is the cape that Shawn Carter dawns.

Batman is known for his callous and cold approach to fighting crime in Gotham. Bruce Wayne, although a bit more personable as the billionaire, still mourns his parents lost and uses his alter ego as a symbol to be greater than himself. There’s a time to be Bruce Wayne and a time to be Batman. Shawn Carter is figuring out how to use ego as a tool other than using it as a constant. The “bright lines can turn you into a monster” as Jay said on Drake‘s 2010’s “Light Up.” There’s a certain viciousness that comes with being determined.

You had no father, you had the armor
But you got a daughter, gotta get softer

The second part of the song addressed Kanye West as a cautionary tale in what how ego goes out of control when it’s unchecked. This isn’t the only time this is addressed – throughout the album there are little tabs that can be depicted as tough love.

Within calls for the music industry to come together, but with transgressions with West, Jay demonstrates his raps as a weapon. There’s a time and a place to use your ego, however. “Bam,” featuring Damian Marley, recalls to the braggadocios raps of the past as a reminder to people that this side of himself can come out if warranted.

A call to ownership, a blueprint if you will, surrounds the album in black capitalism. “The Ballad of OJ,” the chorus is a statement to no matter what the material status or shade of brown black people are, society is going to look at race in singularity.  The American Dream, in some instances, shows a dream world of empty materialism. Jay gives lessons of appreciating art and property ownership. That’s the real instance where the culture will make a difference. Will it be in wealth that can be passed down or for admiration on social media posts?

“Smile,” featuring his mother, Gloria Carter, is a liberation for both of them. This is the first time that it’s shown that his mother was a lesbian. The first verse and poem at the end celebrates her liberation through bad times of his youth. The third verse, which is a absolute display of skill is a celebration of Jay breaking the mold of his drug dealer past and against those who thing he lost a step.

A big motif is musical ownership which shows it’s form in two ways. “Caught Their Eyes” tells of Jay’s conversation with Prince before he died and his wishes. It is known throughout Prince’s life that he was a huge advocate for artists owning their material. He even chose Tidal to exclusively house his music because of what the streaming service represents ownership and royalty wise. Much to his disdain and against the wishes of Prince, his catalog was put on Apple Music and Spotify after his death.

He touches on this again in “Moonlight.” (“And you pawned all your chains
And they run off with your masters.“) In the age of the 360 deal, where labels are grabbing a piece of all they can get due to diminishing sales, Jay not only is challenging artists to break that old mold of standard record deals, but to bring originally to their craft.

The title track is an open confession/apology to his wife Beyonce over a powerful sample of Hannah Williams’ “Late Nights and Heartbreak.”  In “Song Cry,” off of 2001’s The Blueprint, Jay depicts different relationships that end once Jay’s growing fame detaches himself from.  Money cannot buy you pure love or happiness.

“We was so happy poor, but when we got rich
That’s when our signals got crossed and we got flipped” – Song Cry

The famous chorus shows him not be able to be emotional. 4:44 shows a vulnerable side that’s not in a typical rap-cadence. It’s almost broken, like Jay is directly talking to Beyonce or writing a letter as the thoughts come down. After all, this was recorded on Beyonce’s mic.  There’s something interesting in reference to the numbers that he uses both in the title and this song.

Jay stated that he woke up at 4:44 am to write the song. In numerology, the number four in a triplet has a significance.  Angel number terms have 444 representing honesty and inner-wisdom. The foundation of this album hinges on both, so looking in those terms give a definite power to it.

The sequencing in 4:44 is key, as the next song, “Family Feud,” features Beyonce‘s vocals paired with The Clark Sisters‘ “Ha Ya” (Eternal Life). (“I told my wife the spiritual shit really work.“) There’s no doubt that in the reunion of forgiveness, Beyonce helped Jay-Z find Shawn Carter. The spiritual aspects of 4:44 are apparent in Jay’s maturity building a family. Generational curses that was once touched on 2006’s “Beach Chair” and 2016’s “Spirtual” come up again in the story of his grandfather’s molestation of his aunt. This leads Jay to take pieces of spirituality from all different sources and make him well rounded.

The back to back pairing of “Marcy Me” and “Legacy” is a perfect bookend to the album – both recalling to the past and looking toward the future. “Marcy Me” plays like a grainy home video with the reoccurring sampled keys of Gil Vicente‘s “Todo o Mundo e Ninguém.” “Legacy” is a living will to Blue Ivy. Ultimately, all signs go back to building a future for his children long after he’s gone.

In the title track, Jay tells of the hesitance of when the day comes to tell his children about what he did.  4:44 is catching up with an uncle that you idolized since when you were younger. You sit, reminisce, and maybe get a little disappointed at some of the things he did. There will be a disconnect because of our age bracket and where technology is going. However, because of his flaws, you love him more, and the return investment on that love is the wisdom. Heroes age and change as we do. They fall and rise again.

No I.D. produced the entire album, and frankly, the approach he depicts in a interview with Rolling Stone was probably the only way we would have gotten this instance of Jay-Z – the soulful, vintage undercurrent of music served to pull a conduit of truth. 4:44 is a conversation in three acts; one part critique, one part therapy session, and one part classroom.

Featured Image Credit: IBL/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Review: Nine Inch Nails – ‘Not The Actual Events’

There have not been as many bands who have done so much within being in the background as Nine Inch NailsTrent Reznor and, now full-time member, Atticus Ross have flexed their collective, creative muscle with music scores from recent films such as 2014’s Gone Girl and the recent 2016 documentary, Before The Flood. “A Minute To Breathe” is a tranquil track featuring Reznor’s soft voice intertwined with melancholy piano and faint electronics as a last plea from the ever-dire situation with Earth and it’s climate situation. New NIN material was said to be coming for 2016, but with the ever-expanding palate of the duo through their score work – would Reznor and Ross implement their film decor into NIN’s already vast musical palate?

 

In an interview with Apple Music, Reznor expressed his fortay into listening to music on vinyl. With the voracity that music is consumed, especially with streaming services galore, some may find it to be an ancient relic of old days to listen to music in one, continuous journey. Not In The Actual Events, the first release from Nine Inch Nails in three years is meant to be a jarring listen from top to bottom. It doesn’t give you room to catch your breath before thrusting you in, making you want to finish the journey. This very much a NIN record that sounds like home.

The short 21-minute run time, although new, feels like a driving down a familiar tunnel of Nine Inch Nails . Starting with “Branches/Bones,” the EP shoots you into a fast, punk-outfitted song that’s a short statement into a collection of songs that make you feel like you are taking a look through an entire discography. “The Idea of You,” which sees Dave Grohl behind the drum kit sounds like a combination of 2005’s With Teeth‘s bigger guitar sound and the whisper-type vocals from “Zero Sum” before it crashes into an all out jam session.

Given the extensive layers and textures, NTAE, which was released in conjunction with  reissues of previous Nine Inch Nails, sees it’s strength in the familiarity of some of the themes it presents. “She’s Gone Away,” a dirty, drudge akin to The Downward Spiral’s “Reptile,” supplants a groovy baseline with ethereal electronics. The way the song is structured as the chorus is reaching it’s completion, Reznor’s vocals are pushed to the background – fortifying the feelings of a man coming undone. It’s the little nuances that keep the EP fresh with each listen.

“Burning Bright (Field on Fire),” sounds like the the answer for anyone to interpret their sense of discomfort in the previous year. Janes Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro adds to the wall of distorted guitars that make you feel the every bit of decay and regression that the track is trying to convey.

2016 was an emotional personification of being stuck in quicksand for many.  With a seemly never ending cattle car of bad news, As Reznor sings, “I can’t tell if I am dreaming anymore,” under a tow of sonic noise, it’s the way that he uses the tone of his voice that may define the year that it was conceived in. There is a almost defeated, accepting tone with a song that put a stamp of the collective feeling of 2016 and set a new, interesting path for Nine Inch Nails as a whole.

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’: Writing The Wrongs of Prequels’ Past

Back in 1999, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace graced movie screens across the world in an attempt to broaden the horizons of that galaxy far, far away. There were some good moments, but mostly themes like trade deals, the Sith not really being as present as the title indicated, and yes, THAT “Gungan” character that bogged down the movie. Considering that the original trilogy happened about 20+ years prior, there was an entire generation that was enamored of the original space western that George Lucas crafted.

Disney’s grand plan called for a Star Wars Anthology series that would take place in between the year break of the new trilogy. While the Death Star met its untimely demise in 1979, there are treasure troves of interesting stories to tell in that time period. Enter Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where a rag-tag group of mercenaries try to see what’s up with the Empire’s huge weapon. Director Gareth Edwards both had to strike the right tone and keep that tone within the familiarity of the Star Wars universe – a balance that is done in a great way in this movie.

War is hell, and Rogue One conveys that notion within the Star Wars universe. The destruction and plight on the battlefield is felt immensely, especially within the third act. The time period between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope needed to have that dark undertone of the Empire’s rise to power. The movie itself walks the fine line between trying to convey that theme of “hope” (“rebellions are built on hope”) and the eventual dread and power that takes over the galaxy. Some may apply it to current events or even political aspects that have occurred in prior history, but there are multiple viewpoints that you can take. At the heart, you have a totalitarian and ruthless regime, and the good, albeit battered and beaten, emboldened to fight it in anyway possible.

The heart of the movie shifts between the relationship of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) within the building of this ultimate weapon that is said to eradicate planets. Jyn Erso infuses a sense of heroism and doubt at the same time into the film, which is done in a great way. The complex emotions make one of our main protagonists relatable. The force is still a strong theme within the movie – all the Jedi are either in hiding or been killed, but the fact that it can be used with regular characters is an interesting point. Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) both diversify the Star Wars universe and instill the notion that the “Force” is still very much alive. As long as the belief is there, there is still hope. 

There is not only dissent within the Empire where Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and a digitized Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) are both fighting to be the right hand man of the Emperor and Darth Vader. There’s also a disconnect on how the Rebel Alliance wants to do things. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) serves as a good embodiment of doing what’s right vs just accepting orders. The movie actively pushes the viewer to look at things differently, giving a different layer to the cut-and-dry “good vs. evil” narrative that we’ve seen in prior movies.

K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) is the perfect contrarian droid as opposed to C3PO, often dripping with sarcastic quibbles, the reprogrammed imperial droid had some of the best lines in the movie. With a war movie that is riddled with loss, there were instances of humor that seemed natural.

Darth Vader is used sparingly and effectively. One of my worries going into this movie is that it would rely too much on the Sith Lord himself, but it struck a memorable balance. Although, the movie it not perfect (forced love between Diego and Jyn, a last battle scene that may have been a little long) Rogue One is a triumph that Edwards was able to balance between what we love about the franchise and a gritty, rugged tone of a war movie.

Main Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Review: Radiohead – ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’

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The last couple of Radiohead album releases have been unorthodox before our conventional streaming method as of late. In Rainbows introduced the “pay what you want” model, The King of Limbs had a special “newspaper edition” that wanted to reflect the natural decay of living things, and A Moon Shaped Pool saw no interviews conducted with a deletion of all social media beforehand. A video for the lead single, “Burn The Witch” and away we went anticipating another album release. Our newest offering from Radiohead is one of their most personal, vulnerable, and musically inclined to date.

This album has many meanings and interpretations – the most literal would be Thom Yorke‘s recent separation from his partner of 23 years, Rachel Owen (we’ll get to that in a bit). AMSP’s beauty lies that it can be literally dissected to mean a number of things that apply to now. A few of these songs have been played in earlier forms (“Ful Stop,” “Identikit,” “Present Tense”), but find a proper release with this album. Although they may have had a different meaning before, they are totally relevant within the context of this album – that speaks to the timelessness of these songs.  There are overt political tones within this album as well. The first song, “Burn The Witch” can be interpreted as a statement against the mass hysteria that is within our current news casts and campaigns. (“This is a low flying panic attack”). ‘The Channels” heeds the urgent calls regarding climate change and sustainability of the planet itself. Radiohead in some form, continue to be a huge component in observing the social landscape and making a informative comment on it.

There’s also a theme of anxiety stemming from renewal. “The Glass”, finds our character who is terrified being in a crowd full of people (“Their faces are concrete grey/And I’m wondering if I should turn around?”) and finds solstice in getting lost within one’s own nature (“Through the dry bush/ I don’t know where it leads/ I don’t really care“) “Desert Island Disk” tackles the initial feeling of being free from a bad relationship trying to stay rooted in the present as much as possible. The beautiful and brutal honesty that is apparent within AMSP shows the variant ups and downs that come with an ending of a long time union or being in a land that’s foreign to you. With the music landscape that has changed in a dizzying manner, some of these songs can speak for the band itself. Radiohead as an entity may feel foreign in a land that is geared towards streaming and extreme musical consumption.

Two of the most personal and heart wrenching narratives on the album are the two piano ballads, “Daydreaming” and “True Love Waits”. The dreary “Daydreaming,” draws its power from its stripped down premise so that you can focus on the arrangements. Many of the songs elements which includes the lyrics are arranged in reverse. Yorke sings “and it’s too late/the damage is done” against the backdrop of “half of my life” playing alongside it. “True Love Waits” which was first conceived way back in 1995 is even more relevant present-day. The album’s ending is like a silent film, where our protagonist is left in shambles trying to hold on to any semblance of happiness that they were accustomed to.

This album was released within last gasp of spring before summer takes over, but would have been perfect during the cold grips of winter. AMSP commands your complete attention with all the layers and scales that it entails. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of musical work. Johnny Greenwood’s work with the London Contemporary Orchestra makes for an almost like movie score-like listen. Subsequent albums before this relied on electronics with are still present, but the songs with piano, driving bass, and acoustic guitar steal the show.  It’s a eleven song movie that if you miss a block of it, you may miss the overall message entirely. The album is not only a statement concerning the present, whether you tie it to the band or Yorke directly, it’s a great summary of how you can bring the past to propel you into the future.

Single Review: PVRIS “You and I”

If there’s anything I can say about PVRIS’ debut album White Noise, both in a sonic and visual sense it’s that the band has put their own creative stamp on alternative music. Call it electro-pop or even post-hardcore, but there’s something very endearing and natural about the band. The songs and the videos both feel like they are congruent to each other. “You and I,” the single of the deluxe edition of White Noise seems to be the epilogue of the era. It holds true to the themes that we love about PVRIS and introduced some growth as well.

The song itself does not need huge bells as whistles in order for it to be effective. In fact, the minimalism is the highlight. There’s faint guitar chords, electronic feedback, and subtle percussion – our main focus is on the main vocals of Lyndsey Gunnulfsen and the songs lyrics. You feel every emotion when Gunn sings “meet in the middle” and again in the second “you and I” in the bridge. PVRIS are notability road warriors and with that, that may be a caveat to maintain a friendship or a relationship. While it may have a personal meaning for Gunn, anybody can relate to having a roadblock to the thing they love the most while they are chasing the goal or dream they’ve always wanted. It’s on par with the rest of their songs – it’s honest, melodic, and catchy.

If this is truly the swan song of White Noise, then it was an emotional and well-written one. Like many of their songs, I’d love to see it live. I want to hear the crowd sing the harmony part in the chorus. When everybody can feel the depths of what your song is about, that’s when you know it’s great. Let’s see where the next road takes us.

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE WALKING DEAD:S6E9 “NO WAY OUT”

 

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Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

I almost have a love/hate relationship with The Walking Dead as a series. Just when there are some episodes where I scratch my head in bewilderment and about to jettison to another show, they rope me right back in with a great episode. “No Way Out” is no exception to this rule as it was straight up carnage from the word go. Bam! Boo! Slash! The cold open which was our epilogue before we went on break was the best way to introduce us back into their characters. There are a couple themes within this scene that I thought were pretty cool. There was an inconsistency I had a minor gripe with. Did it really turn day and night that fast? Why are you walking through zombies during the night anyway? Well, let’s get into it.  SPOILERS: Heavens, if you haven’t seen it yet, shield your eyes.

The Near Miss: Ok, so our heroes were nearly killed in a couple of ways. Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl all almost bit the collective bullet by Negan’s cronies and Glenn almost literally got eaten by a platoon of zombies saving Maggie. I don’t know how many guardian angels that Glenn has around him, but it’s crazy. You have to think that many people will die in this latter half of the season. Perhaps, there is a little foreshadowing here as to whom we lose down the road.

Togetherness and The Roadblock To Come: The scenes where the Alexandria faithful come together to take on the hords of zombies was touching. However, I looked at it a different way. Throughout these seasons, our group had to take on threats from the human side (The Governor, The Wolves), but there will always be zombies. They are the dominant existential threat. You get bit – see ya! It seems like whatever the group comes up against, they find a way to overcome. With Negan’s presence in the background and the beginning of the episode in tow, you may think that’s the case again. Keep watching because this time, it will be a very different outcome for a long period.

Taking Care of Business The First Time Around: Damn it, Carl! You’ve lost an eye! Ron’s bullet (RIP his family!) was clearly meant for Rick in some essence Rick gets blamed for everything. We can trace this back to Ron and Carl’s fight in the garage in the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, Ron was going to be a lingering problem and Carl did not take him out at that time. Now, he’s going to be Solid Snake for the rest of the series with an eye patch. This could be said for Carol and Morgan’s relationship. Morgan tries to extend the human route to Carol reminding her of what she lost, but she is so solider-like because of the environment around her, this is immediately rebuffed. Thankfully, Denise lives, but it’s because the Wolf helped her. So whose way will survive in the end? I think Carol and Morgan will eventually have to eliminate the other.

This part of the season is going to be the most brutal in a long time. While I’m happy that there is loyalty to the comics, I don’t necessarily want it to go all “Games of Thrones” on us yet. It makes the scene between Glenn and Enid in the church is so important for us to be invested. “People you love…they made you who you are,” Glenn said to Enid. While, I don’t know why you would have an epiphany while you are being overran by zombies, it reminds us of what they lost and why they still have hope. Now, gear up. It’s going to be a bloody and ridiculous last half of the season ahead.

 

Movie Review: Deadpool

Deadpool

 

After I went to see Deadpool, I told a friend of mine that Deadpool is the inappropriate joke that I both wanted to tell and be. For a long time, there was a question of if this movie was ever going to be made. The test footage that was leaked in 2014 had fans like myself in a frenzy to hold on to hope that there was still a chance. When the movie initially got green lit, many people questioned if the movie would hold true to the very gritty and vulgar nature of the comic. Deadpool not only makes good on both of those themes, but it’s a welcome addition in a 2016 superhero movie slate that is going to get darker and less humorous by the looks of it.

The seeds for Ryan Reynolds’s portrayal of Wade Wilson was initially planned in the so-so 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. The reason why Deadpool works so well is because it looks like Reynolds is just playing an extension of himself. A duo of wit and sarcasm worked extremely well even in the most dire moments of the movie. I can understand why Reynolds faught so hard to get this movie made because I cannot see anyone else play this character but him. Weasel (T.J. Miller) serves as the perfect “sidekick” to Wilson often bouncing the risque jokes off each other that you and your friends have in group texts.

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Plot-wise, the movie is a straightforward origin story with a Deadpool-esque twist. What caught me by surprise were the heavy moments of the movie as one would initially think that we would see Wade Wilson carry out his zany and violent executions (those were marvelous). There’s a romantic sub-plot with Wilson’s girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) that helps elevate the dire circumstances of Wilson’s cancer diagnosis. Our main character has to escape the grasp out of death’s hands for the one he loves and deal with the consequences of those choices. From first glance, you would not think that Deadpool has that type of range, but it’s a welcome element to really care about Wade Wilson in addition to being Marvel’s court jester.

There’s a nice little X-Men tie in with the inclusion on Colossus (Stefan Kapičić) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). I’m glad that I saw the X-Men universe was present, but even in that, this is still a Deadpool movie. The movie doesn’t have to change it’s themes to fit into the box that was already made in previous movies within Fox’s realm.  Ed Skrein (Ajax) and  Angel Dust (Gina Carano) as serviceable as the super villain team. The dynamic between Ajax and Deadpool works, but I feel that the personality of Deadpool would overshadow any non well known villain. Perhaps in the sequel or the much talked about X-Force movie, we’ll see a bigger bad guy.

Anybody or any studio that had any hesitation of an “R” rated superhero movie will look at the impending success of Deadpool and reconsider any preconceived notion that they might have. Director Tim Miller stayed very loyal to the source material which included blood, guts, and breaking of the 4th wall. In his first directing job (who knew?). it’s a champion for even the most far fetched comic book movies to be made. Can we get a proper Tank Girl movie? How about an even better Punisher movie? Everything is on the table with all the Chimichangas in the world.

 

 

 

 

The Big Pow-Wow: Marvel vs. DC at the Movies

There have been many trailers, synopses, and spoilers (hopefully not so much), but in a couple of months, the movie blockbuster face off will be set to take all of your money. DC and Marvel are finally going to throw their strongest material in the ring and fight for box office supremacy. We are going to ignore the 2011 Green Lantern movie (that did not exist). Going into this, I’m going to breakdown each entity, tale of the tape style to see where they match up. I’m going to break up Marvel into two parts because Fox owns movie rights to some of the characters (ugh!)  This is perfect time to start of with our returning champion, Marvel (Disney).

Civil War

Marvel (Disney): To say that Marvel has a lead would be a gross understatement. If this was a 200 meter race, they are rounding the last curve to the finish line. We are within phase three of the MC universe to where last year, Marvel made Ant-Man a very enjoyable movie as something that you cared about. That’s a feat within itself. Some people would say Avengers: Age of Ultron was not as good as people would have thought. To be honest, the first Avengers was a tough act to follow and it’s really hard to make a conductive plot with that many characters.

We will bring you to Captain America: Civil War which seems to be Avengers 2.5. The inclusions of Black Panther and Spider-Man will be interesting to say the least. We’ve seen Black Panther and have not yet gotten a glimpse of the new Spider-Man yet, but both are going to be key parts in the assemble plot. The Russo brothers arguably made the most complete Marvel movie on the books with Captain America:The Winter Solder.

I have faith here, especially because they will be hemming the overall accumulation of these phases with the Infinity War movies in 2018 and 2019.  There will be some set up and fallout here. The second half of the year sees Doctor Strange come to the screen and the cosmic/magic essence finally come into the MCU. If you are going to have Thanos eventually come and crush the buildings, this is key.

My worry with Disney’s movie is how to do you keep it fresh after so many movies? Perhaps, I’m wrong to question it because we are still going back like Thanksgiving seconds. If Marvel can keep including different elements and styles of movies into their phases, maybe they can sustain past superhero burnout. We keep waiting for that one dud and it never comes.

Deadpool

Marvel (Fox): Deadpool. Deadpool. Deadpool. Did I mention Deadpool? Ryan Reynolds was tailor-made to play this character and the fact that this movie will be a hard “R” had the comic loyalist in me rejoice. If this movie does well, it could probably open up some more “not for kids” comic book movies. Looking at the trailer, it also looks like there will be some inclusion of some X-Men characters as well which could come to play down the road. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Deadpool side by side or fighting Wolverine in a proper movie? He’s hilarious, breaking the 4th wall. I also find it cool that an “R” rated movie is starting the engines as far as the 2016 movie race is concerned. Opens on Valentine’s Day, if you’re daring, you might try to tie that into a romantic weekend.

X-Men: Apocalypse ( Apocalypse costume aside) is looking to be another solid X-Men story directed by Bryan Singer. Days of Future Past not only wrote the wrongs of The Last Stand (another movie we want to forget and now we can). You have the most powerful mutant in the universe that will give us the concrete formation of the X-Men. As this will be the end of the First Class trilogy, where does the X-Men go from here? You could package it with the crash and burn Fantastic Four franchise. There are also talks of an X-Force movie and two new shows coming to TV next year furthering this universe.

batmanVsuperman

DC: Yes, they have their work cut out for them fighting  a battle of two fronts from Fox and Disney studios. It’s almost not fair – DC would have to put out at least four movies this year, but the shows Arrow and The Flash are fantastic, so it almost levels out.  The one thing that DC has going for it is the ultra-realism that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has set. The DC movie will be the darker and gritty of the two companies which will probably draw a lot of loyal comic fans to the theater. Batman v Superman has a lot of intrigue and hype surrounding it, but it also has questions.

This will be the movie where we finally see the Justice League together on-screen, presumably at the end of the movie. Is it too much, too soon? It’s a lot to load into a movie that is setting up your whole movie universe. You have all of the Justice League, Doomsday and apparently, another huge bad guy that will set up the upcoming Justice League movies. DC is loading all their ammo into one shot. Then again, it’s Batman v. Superman – how can you walk away from that?

Suicide Squad, I feel, is going to be the dark horse of all these movies combined. First off, you have a movie with a basis of villains which is fresh. We’ve been inundated with hero and villain fight, hero wins narratives for years now, so it will be a rather new concept. The mystery here is with a new Joker (Jared Leto), the Batman tie-in, and how this will all fit into the DCU. Will we see these villains again in future movies? Hopefully. Looking into what we have seen thus far, there is healthy optimistic. You can’t go wrong with a Harley Quinn and Joker pairing.

The big question is, are we ever going to get tired of superhero movies? Within all these movies, there are going to be different things to appeal to different audiences which is why we are going to be winners in this. With so many stories to be told (these movies are coming two at a time until 2020!), will we eventually say enough? Most likely not. I think that now that we a have a fair fight, each company will push each other to put their best feet forward. If so, take all my money – despite who wins in the end.