Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!


Sense8 soundtrack cover.

Netflix is really doing a good job wooing in new viewers like myself. Sense8 Season 1 (which I still have to finish) has been great, and I have a Christmas episode and Season 2 to look forward to. Captivating characters. An interesting premise. International locations. And a diverse cast.  Good, solid show.

The Defenders
Promotional image of the Netflix/Marvel original series, Defenders, which debuts later this year. Image contains shots of Mike Colter, Charlie Cox, Kristin Ritter, and Finn Jones as Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Culturally Appropriated Iron White Savior Fist.

Then there are the Netflix/Marvel joint original series. Hoo-boy, Daredevil was AMAZEBALLS, and set a standard for the other Netflix/Marvel shows to meet. Jessica Jones, though a completely different tone, and vastly more difficult subject matter, actually surpassed Daredevil’s first season in quality (and Kristin Ritter just works magically as JJ).  Daredevil Season 2 was not as tightly focused as the first, but benefited from the introduction of the Punisher (who’s getting his own series in a few years). I’ve not finished Luke Cage yet, but what I’ve seen has been great. Colter plays him so close to the vest, and I like that. He’s not a stereotypical black character on tv and we desperately need greater diversity in the roles black men play in our entertainment.  I’ve not mustered the wherewithal to watch Captain Cultural Appropriation by way of the White Savior Trope aka Iron Fist, and I’m not completely sure I ever will (they should have cast an Asian actor in the title role, and there are ways to work with the character’s history to avoid the numerous tropes of Asian characters in film and tv). Despite my ambivalence towards Iron Fist, I plan on watching Defenders.

But Netflix hasn’t stopped there. They’re giving me something else to watch and just from the teaser it looks AMAZEBALLS.  With a drop date of July 7, the dark medieval animated series Castlevania (based on the old video game, and written and executive produced by Warren ‘The Authority’ Ellis) has my mouth watering. Take a gander at the teaser:

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Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!

Confronting the racial stereotypes of Cloak & Dagger (plus the trailer)

Tandy Bowen (Dagger) and Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) in a piece by (I think) Jae Lee)

Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson were teen runaways who–individually–left their hometowns for the streets of New York. Encountering one another by chance, Bowen’s purse was stolen by a thief, and was recovered by Johnson. Bonding over this encounter, the two were captured soon after their arrival and subjected to your typical scientific experiment carried out by a morally deficient scientist. The experiment granted the pair “light” and “dark” powers, which I’ll get into in a minute. For much of their young career, the pair specifically fought drug dealers and worked to ensure the safety of other teen runaways.

Now, about those powers…

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Confronting the racial stereotypes of Cloak & Dagger (plus the trailer)

The Speed Force Awakens

This is a cute mashup of Star Wars and the Flash. It was created by a YouTube user and was heavily inspired by the trailer for The Force Awakens. I have to admit, it’s got some emotional weight to it. Impressive work, IMO.



The Speed Force Awakens

Has it really been 19 years?

Time to get a little weepy eyed y’all. One of the best television shows I’ve ever watched has its 19th anniversary today. On March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. Now, I didn’t start watching the show until the sixth season. If I recall correctly, the first I saw of the show was part two of the Season 3 finale (I remember watching the Mayor transform into a giant snake and start eating students). Years later, I happened to watch the final episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’, where the Slayer sacrifices her life to save her sister Dawn and the entire world (the second time she died). I didn’t have any real attachment to the show at that point, but when I discovered FX was running repeats, I started watching it from some point in Season 1. Despite the uneven quality, the cheesiness, the ‘making shit up on the fly’ nature of the show, and other issues, I found myself liking it. By the second season I found I really liked it. By the time ‘Becoming Part 2’ was over, I was in tears and loving the show (in part bc Sarah McLachlan’s song was perfect for that ending). Sarah Michelle Gellar took to Instagram with some touching words about the show:

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Has it really been 19 years?

Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

They say it is best to arrive to a party fashionably late. How late that is can vary from person to person, but I’ve often heard 15-20 minutes is a reasonable time. If that’s the case, then I arrived UNfashionably late to the Marvel Cinematic Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Over the last 5 days, I’ve binge-watched all 26 episodes of each series (in-between catching up on Season 1 of Flash, a few episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the first three episodes of Young Justice Season 2, and a couple of episodes from Season 1 of Arrow), and I’ve got to say those 26 hours were some of the best television I’ve ever seen and definitely in the ranks of “best cinematic adaptations of comic book properties”. From the characters, to the stories, to the atmosphere, Daredevil and Jessica Jones hit near-perfect notes. If you haven’t seen either (and plan to at some point), I’ll be discussing plot points of both shows ahead. So read on only if you don’t mind spoilers:

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Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

Black Lives Matter? Not to NBC

During a recent appearance on NBC’s Today, singer Janelle Monáe performed her songs ‘Yoga’ and ‘Tightrope. Along with several labelmates (including Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and George 2.0)  she also performed a new song, ‘Hell You Talmabout’. ‘Hell You Talmabout’ is an amazingly powerful song. It literally gave me goosebumps. The song is a protest song in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It features a series of chants naming many African-Americans who have had their lives stolen as a result of systemic racism. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. Freddie Gray, Jr. Michael Brown, Jr. Walter Scott. These are some of the names featured in the song. I’ll be honest, while the song affected me powerfully, I was worried for a few minutes that the focus would only be upon African-American men. It is a significant concern because the deaths of African-American women as a result of police brutality are often downplayed in the media. I’m happy to say that several minutes into the song, the names Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Sandra Bland, Miriam Carey, and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton were also featured, which allayed my fears, and allowed me to enjoy the song without regret (because funny me, when I say Black Lives Matter, I’m talking about *all* black lives and last I checked black women are part of that group).  I can’t embed the video of her Today performance, but it can be viewed here. Here is a YouTube video of the song at the kickoff night of the Eephus Tour at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA (it’s fine, but I prefer the Today version).

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Black Lives Matter? Not to NBC

The progressive march of pop culture

Hollywood, aka Tinsel Town, is home to the entertainment industry of the United States. Viewed as the land of the rich and famous, Hollywood has long been the destination for many people seeking to make a name for themselves, whether on the small-screen, the big-screen, or in the music industry. Unfortunately, with so many people looking for fame and fortune, Hollywood is a difficult industry to break into, let alone succeed in. Some groups of people have an advantage in the industry, due to a bias in their favor. This bias-which favors white, heterosexual, cisgender men-has resulted in a Hollywood that is not reflective of our culture at large. Because of this bias, members of marginalized communities-LGBT people, women, and People of Color-have greater difficulty making it in the entertainment industry. Whether in front of the cameras or behind them, on the big screens or the small ones, these groups have long been plagued by unequal treatment in Hollywood. The second annual Hollywood Diversity Report (available for download here) examined more than 1,000 broadcast, cable, and digital tv programs from the 2012-2013 season and its results were not encouraging.
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The progressive march of pop culture

Who needs imaginary creatures and extinct dinosaurs when nature provides this?

When it debuted in the mid-1980’s, the Discovery Channel was home to educational programming. It featured cultural and wildlife documentaries as well as science and history programs. When its sister channel, Animal Planet, debuted in the mid-00’s, it too focused predominately on educational programming. Unfortunately, by the late 00’s, both channels had shifted away from informative, evidence-based programming toward reality television shows and pseudoscientific specials. This descent into mediocrity and disrepute bottomed out with the release in 2012 of the Animal Planet special, Mermaids: The Body Found, it’s 2013 sequel Mermaids: The New Evidence, and Discovery’s 2012 special Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. Each show was a ratings success for the channels, with 1.9 million and 3.6 million viewers watching Mermaids and its sequel and 4.8 million viewers tuning in for the Megalodon nonsense. Despite the fact that the specials were pseudoscientific drivel, they were peddled as “it’s maybe, kinda possible these things are out there”. While the conclusion of both Mermaid specials carried disclaimers explaining their status as pieces of ‘docufiction’, Megalodon had no such admission. Which probably explains why 79% of respondents to a post-show poll believed that megalodon’s still roam the oceans (they don’t, they’ve been extinct for millions of years). Thankfully, in early 2015, new Discovery Channel chief Rich Ross said fake documentaries would no longer be part of the programming for either channel.

Hopefully Ross will be able to turn Discovery Channel and Animal Planet back around and make them credible, educational channels again. It would be cool to watch a special about some of the amazing creatures that do exist in the worlds oceans, like the undersea inhabitants recently found by a National Geographic team in the caldera of an active volcano:

Continue reading “Who needs imaginary creatures and extinct dinosaurs when nature provides this?”

Who needs imaginary creatures and extinct dinosaurs when nature provides this?

Comic book news from the big screen to the small screen

We’re definitely at a point where the public perception of comic book characters has shifted. For years, people looked down on comic books, thinking them for kids, and mocking or ridiculing adults who enjoy them. That’s changed with the success of comic book movies like the Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man, and Avengers (I’d like to point out that even if comic books were “for kids”, that still wouldn’t excuse shaming an adult for enjoying them; social rules that dictate what adults should or shouldn’t enjoy annoy the piss out of me). That cultural shift has resulted in a growing interest in comic book properties on the part of Hollywood executives.  Here’s some juicy news about several of those properties:

Robin. Starfire. Raven. Changeling. Cyborg. Kid Flash. Wonder Girl. Under the pen of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, they were the New Teen Titans, one of DC Comics’ most popular titles in the 80s. This era appears to be the source of inspiration for the in-development Titans series on TNT:

Announced back in September, not much has been officially confirmed about the pilot, which follows a group of young superheroes led by Dick Grayson aka Batman’s sidekick Robin, who is fated to become Nightwing. Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) penned the pilot with Marc Haimes, and has reported that the titular team will also include Barbara Gordon, Hawk/Hank Hall and Dove/Dawn Granger, Raven/Rachel Roth and the alien princess Starfire.

Asked for a status report on the project, Reilly told TVLine at TNT’s Upfronts luncheon, “Akiva’s been very busy doing some other things,” but it’s his hope that “maybe this summer” they will lock casting and ramp up production.

After all, the small screen hardly has been lacking for comic books-based fare. So there is a concerted effort for TNT to take its time and make this series unique.

“I sat down with Akiva and said — and he ultimately agreed — that the [TV] landscape right now is well-serviced on the superhero front. So what space is this going to inhabit?” Reilly related. “And really what he wants to do is be very true” to the source material.

Written by Tom Kapinos (“Californication”) and directed by Len Wiseman (“Underworld”), the pilot stars Tom Ellis (“Once Upon a Time,” “Doctor Who”) as the Lord of Hell who, bored and unhappy, resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for Los Angeles. There, he gets his kicks helping the police punish criminals.

I hope he doesn’t assist the cops in brutalizing racial minorities like many of them do in the real world.

Ellis is joined by Lauren German as Det. Chloe Dancer, Rachael Harris as Kim Martin, DB Woodside as Amenadiel, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dan and Scarlett Estevez as Trixie.

Here’s the trailer:

* * * *

Suicide Squad director David Ayer recently Tweeted an image of the cast of the upcoming movie, minus Jared Leto as the Joker and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller.

For those that aren’t familiar with this DC property, the basic idea is that a government agency (Task Force X) offers freedom to supervillains in exchange for performing dangerous missions for them. Mark your calendars for August 5, 2016 for the release of Suicide Squad.

* * * *

Spinning out of Arrow and the Flash comes Legends of Tomorrow, set to debut on the CW as part of their fall 2015 mid-season lineup. Here’s the synopsis for the 13-episode series:

When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat — one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known? DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW stars Victor Garber (“The Flash,” “Alias”); Brandon Routh (“Arrow,” “Superman Returns”); Arthur Darvill (“Doctor Who”); Caity Lotz (“Arrow”); Ciarra Renee (“Pippin”); Franz Drameh (“Edge of Tomorrow”); with Dominic Purcell (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”); and Wentworth Miller (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”). Based on the characters from DC Comics, DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”), Marc Guggenheim (“Arrow,” “Eli Stone,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”), Andrew Kreisberg (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Eli Stone,” “Warehouse 13”) and Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”).

And here’s a first-look trailer (they haven’t filmed the pilot episode yet):

Oh, and that immortal threat they’ll be battling? This guy:

* * * *

Over at Marvel, or to be more accurate, FOX Studios, we have confirmation of an X-Men spinoff movie, the New Mutants:

20th Century Fox‘s “X-Men” film franchise is expanding — Josh Boone is signed to direct and co-write “The New Mutants,” sharing a title with the Marvel comic that first debuted in 1982.

“We’re so excited to explore this new part of the X-Men universe, and so excited to do it with Josh, who is uniquely suited to tell this story about young characters,” X-Men franchise veteran and “New Mutants” producer Simon Kinberg tells Deadline.

Boone, director of massive 2014 hit “The Fault in Our Stars,” is set to co-write with Knate Gwaltney, who wrote upcoming thriller “Kidnap” (starring X-Men franchise vet Halle Berry) and worked on several “Jackass” productions. Kinberg will produce with Lauren Shuler Donner, who has worked on all of Fox’s X-Men films.

“The New Mutants” looks to be a couple years away, as Boone has been linked to “The Vampire Chronicles” (based on the work of Anne Rice) and “The Stand” (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel). Deadline states he’d been targeted by Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, though he wasn’t on the reported shortlist of choices that surfaced last week.

No details have yet been released as to which New Mutants the film will feature, though Deadline describes the film as starring “a new crop of mutant characters born with special powers.” The original New Mutants team, introduced by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeodin 1982’s “Marvel Graphic Novel” #4, consisted of Cannonball, Karma, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Sunspot and Wolfsbane; new, teenaged students at Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

* * * *

Via Bleeding Cool, here’s an extended trailer for Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man, to be released on July 17:

* * * *

Last up is sad but predictable news. Following the release of the untitled Wolverine 3 in 2017, Hugh Jackman says he’s done playing the iconic character:

Oddly enough, the actor who once starred in “The Boy from Oz” on Broadway dropped the news he won’t be reprising his role as the Marvel superhero in future films after the 2017 movie during an appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show” Friday.

“This will be my last one,” the 46-year-old actor said. “It is my last time, I just felt … It felt like it was the right time to do it. And, let’s be honest, 17 years. I never thought in a million years it would last this long. I’m so grateful to the fans and for the opportunity of playing him, and I love it. I kind of have, in my head, what we’re going to do in this last one, and it just feels like this is the perfect way to go out.”

To date, Jackman has played Wolverine in all films constituting the “X-Men” franchise, including two movies that focused only on the titular character with a metal skeleton, razor-sharp claws and a healing factor. According to Entertainment Weekly, Jackman is expected to reprise his role first in “Apocalypse” and then in the third “Wolverine” flick, giving him a total of nine turns as the gruff Canadian since his 2000 debut.

I wonder how FOX Studios will handle this going forward. Given the popularity of Wolverine and the association of Jackman with the character, finding a replacement might be as difficult as replacing Heath Ledger as the Joker (we’ll see how Jared Leto does).

Comic book news from the big screen to the small screen

Coming soon

To gaming consoles this summer:

(via Bleeding Cool)

To theaters at the end of the year:

(via Spinoff Online)

To theaters in a little over two weeks:

(via CBR)


to the small screen this summer:

Coming soon