Monday, December 21, 2015

The Force Will Be With You, Always. No, like Literally, Dude.

Today marks the last day that my stream of consciousness will include only six Star Wars films. Tomorrow, I take my first step into a larger world. Or, more accurately, my seventh step. But who's counting? I mean, other than the execs over at Disney? Star Wars: The Force Awakens marks the seventh feature film in the now-legendary franchise, which is simultaneously an inspiring tale of hope and redemption and symbolic of a sort of uber-consumerism with merchandising tendrils worming their way from all manner of action figures to kitchen utensils and appliances to makeup. Fucking makeup!

Ever since George Lucas followed up his beloved original trilogy with the prequel trilogy, which received--to put it mildly--mixed reactions, the future of the saga remained a giant question mark. According to Lucas, his vision of Star Wars included a trilogy of trilogies and presumably orgies of cocaine and hookers dressed as wookies (at least you can always tell whether the walking carpet matches the drapes).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Of Mercs and Men... Riddick Rides Again

In another world, Pitch Black and the iconic character Riddick might have been relegated to the realm of the one-hit wonder, and the truly frightening thing is that world isn't that different from this one. Only through the sheer willpower of director David Twohy, Vin "Riddick" Diesel, and a ragtag group of dedicated fans and social miscreants were further exploits of the infamous "escaped convict and murderer" committed to film (as well as a few video games to boot). If anybody had told me when it first came out that Pitch Black would spawn three sequels (Next one is in development. Can I get a "Fuck yeah!?") I probably would have stabbed you to death with a teacup.

In a move that came as a surprise to exactly no one, Twohy doubled down on the insanity for Chronicles of Riddick, thrusting Riddick into an intergalactic space adventure dealing not only with mercenaries but also alien elementals, a technologically advanced death cult, and Karl Urban's bizarre yet completely entrancing haircut. It's like if Star Wars had been written and directed by an escaped lunatic high on acid and Luke had been written as a homicidal, shiny-eyed rogue with a heart of gold and also violence.

Just like Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick begins with an opening voice over (by Dame Judy fucking Dench no less) so ludicrous and over the top that it can't help but grab your brain by the balls a pull you along for the ride. And with an introduction like this, you're all but guaranteed that the ride is going to be a wild one:

"They are an army unlike any other... crusading across the stars toward a place called UnderVerse, their promised land--a constellation of dark new worlds. Necromongers, they're called. And if they cannot convert you, they will kill you. Leading them, the Lord Marshal. He alone has made a pilgrimage to the gates of the UnderVerse... and returned a different being. Stronger. Stranger. Half alive and half... something else. If we are to survive, a new balance must be found. In normal times, evil would be fought by good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil."

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Batman V Superman V Captain America

For those of us who still haven't tired of watching superpowered (and not so superpowered, though Hawkeye has his uses) individuals boil down complex moral, social, and philosophical issues into basically a  case of who can punch harder, then the past decade or so has been a godsend. The future looks to be equally as fruitful, as heralded by the arrival of two trailers, one apiece for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman.

Ever since Iron Man blasted his way onto the silver screen all the way back in 2008, Marvel has slowly but surely been establishing its onscreen brand with a series of calculated moves like a well-played game of three-dimensional chess. Their path to cinematic superhero dominance is a carefully concocted sort of alchemy brewed by Marvel and Disney that involved slowly cultivating a cast of characters from over 75 years of source material, carefully and strategically translating it to the strange, new medium of motion pictures while developing a shared movie universe unlike anything that's come before. DC hired Christopher Nolan to make some Batman movies.