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Joss Whedon will direct a standalone Batgirl movie for the DCEU

Mar 30 // Hubert Vigilla
This also makes me wonder if this will feature a Dick Grayson/Nightwing appearance to set up the Nightwing movie that was announced a month ago. Is this the start of the DCEU Bat Family sub-universe, aka the DCEUBFSU? Whedon makes sense for Batgirl. The creator and driving force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a solid choice to steer a Batgirl story in a reliable direction. I wonder what iteration of Batgirl it will be, though. Will it be the new hipster Batgirl of Burnside (the Brooklyn of Gotham City) who sports the bossest new costume around, or will this be a more classic iteration of Barbara Gordon? We'll report more detail as they arise. What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments. [via Variety]
Joss Whedon Batgirl photo
BAH GAWD! THAT'S JOSS WHEDON'S MUSIC!

Variety reports that Joss Whedon will direct a standalone Batgirl movie for Warner Bros. and the DCEU. Whedon will also write the film and serve as producer. Variety notes that comics writer and producer Geoff Johns will be one of the people who oversees the project.

This is pretty huge for a variety of reasons.

First of all, Whedon has jumped from Marvel Studios to DC, having helmed the first Avengers movie and its sequel. Whedon seemed burned out physically and creatively by Avengers: Age of Ultron, which may explain why the Russo brothers are handling the next two Avengers entries.

On top of this, this project came together quickly in the last month. In the meantime, the standalone Batman movie from Matt Reeves and Ben Affleck seems to be hitting a snag. It's unclear if this Batgirl movie will beat The Batman film to release.

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Tribeca Film Festival announces two-day Games Festival with Hideo Kojima as keynote guest

Mar 30 // Hubert Vigilla
INAUGURAL TRIBECA GAMES FESTIVAL DEBUTS APRIL 28-29, 2017FEATURING A CONVERSATION WITH LEGENDARY GAME CREATOR HIDEO KOJIMA Tribeca Games® and Kill Screen Partner for Event Examining the Past, Present and Future of Games to Take Place During the 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival® at The Tribeca Festival Hub at Spring Studios in New York City Festival to Open with Mura Masa Concert, Feature Keynote Conversations with Max Payne Creator Sam Lake and BioShock Director/Writer Ken Levine Plus Talks On Overwatch, Firewatch, the Watch Dogs Universe and Much More New York, NY [March 29, 2017] – Tribeca Games and Kill Screen have partnered to launch the Tribeca Games Festival, an event that will bring together New York City’s passionate gaming community to examine where games have been and what comes next in the race to innovate in the world’s most popular medium. Sitting at the intersection of games, entertainment and culture, the festival will include behind-the-scenes looks back at some of the most fascinating games of the past year, and conversations with cultural leaders and game industry insiders, including a conversation with legendary game creator, Hideo Kojima. The inaugural Tribeca Games Festival will take place April 28-29 during the Tribeca Film Festival at The Tribeca Festival Hub at Spring Studios. Tickets are on sale now at www.tribecafilm.com/games. The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, runs April 19-30. Hideo Kojima is widely celebrated as the godfather of the stealth action game genre, having created the Metal Gear franchise 30 years ago this July. He was awarded the Game Developers Choice Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award in March 2009, inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science’s Hall of Fame in February 2016 and, most recently received The Game Awards’ Industry Icon Award this past December. Hideo Kojima leads a robust schedule of conversations to take place at the Festival, including additional keynote conversations given by Quantum Break, Alan Wake and Max Payne creator Sam Lake and BioShock director/writer Ken Levine, a celebration of the 25th anniversary of virtual reality-themed movie The Lawnmower Man with filmmaker Brett Leonard, principal filmmaker for VR at Google Jessica Brillhart and Cy Wise from Job Simulator's Owlchemy Labs, and discussions with developers of recent and upcoming games such as Overwatch, The Banner Saga, Firewatch, The Stanley Parable, Watch Dogs 2, What Remains of Edith Finch and several more. The festival will kick off with the New York premiere of Telltale Games’ first-ever crowd play of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale series, Episode 1 and a concert headlined by British electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Mura Masa. Fresh off a Coachella performance, Mura Masa will light up the Tribeca Festival Hub at Spring Studios with the sounds of the future, bringing his Billboard-topping music to an audience of over 500. “Five years ago, Tribeca was the first film festival to welcome gaming to the official program. Since then, we’ve continued to support the storytellers who have propelled it to become the world’s most popular and growing medium,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and Executive Chair of the Tribeca Film Festival. “Through Tribeca Games, with Kill Screen, we will create a can’t-miss event that will bring together the most creative and innovative creators, thought leaders, and insiders from the gaming world and beyond.” The Tribeca Games Festival program includes “X Post Conversations,” a series of cross-cultural conversations, each pairing a creator from the gaming community with someone of equal stature from an outside field; “Retro Active,” a series of talks that take a look back on some of the greatest titles from 2016, exploring every element from art, design and sound to storytelling; “Sneak Peeks,” previews of new and unreleased work from some of the most dynamic independent game studios from around the world, and an interactive arcade allowing attendees to get hands-on with new and unreleased games. Full details about all confirmed sessions and participants can be found now a www.tribecafilm.com/games. Additional speakers and game titles will be announced soon. “The Tribeca Games Festival in partnership with Kill Screen will bring tech thinkers, fans, and interactive makers together with New York’s massive games and interactive community for a marquee program dedicated to the medium of play,” said Jamin Warren, founder of Kill Screen. Tickets for the Tribeca Games Festival are $40 and will go on sale on today, March 29, 2017 at www.tribecafilm.com/games. Tickets for opening night are sold separately for $30. A limited amount of tickets that include an entry window for Tribeca Immersive, the Tribeca Film Festival’s event for virtual reality and interactive installations, will also be available for $70. In 2011, Tribeca was the first film festival to welcome gaming to the official program with the World Premiere of L.A. Noire, a detective-based Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3) game. It has continued to support artists in the gaming world with the premiere of Beyond: Two Souls, a PS3 fantasy role-playing game led by Oscar® nominee Ellen Page (2013); a panel series on innovation and storytelling in gaming with League of Legends designers, artists, producers, and musicians (2015); a partnership with Games for Change that illustrated how new and innovative platforms can serve the social good with participants including Morgan Spurlock, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn (A Path Appears), Chief Scientist of Oculus VR Michael Abrash, and the developers of Rovio’s blockbuster mobile game Angry Birds (2015, 2016); and more.   The Tribeca Games Festival program follows:   OPENING NIGHT A celebration of games, play and interactivity set to the music of British electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Mura Masa, who inspires game makers and players globally, and an exclusive Telltale crowdplay experience   KEYNOTE CONVERSATIONS Intimate conversations some of the top game creators on the future of games and storytelling.   Hideo Kojima The legendary creator of the Metal Gear franchise, on what’s next for him and the influences of cinema on his work. Ken Levine Director and Writer of the BioShock series, Levine reflects on his two decades in videogames and the legacy his work has created for interactive story-telling. Sam Lake The creator of Max Payne, Alan Wake and Quantum Break, on his unique approach to storytelling in games.   X POST CONVERSATIONS Cross-cultural conversations, pairing a creator of the gaming community with leading artists and filmmakers.   Winslow Porter, Milica Zec and Tracy Fullerton Virtual reality directors Winslow Porter and Milica Zec and Director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab Tracy Fullerton discuss how to create real-world environmental awareness in digital worlds. Ian Dallas Giant Sparrow's creative director Ian Dallas takes the stage to discuss his upcoming game, What Remains of Edith Finch. Combining a family drama with famous supernatural Japanese tales, he will discuss how creators are making mysticism relevant to the modern world. Robin Hunicke with Maureen Fan Robin Hunicke, founder of indie studio Funomena, and Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan show how to create delight and joy in VR.   RETRO ACTIVE By breaking down each title piece by piece – exploring every element from art, design and sound to storytelling – we take a look back on the some of the greatest titles from 2016.   Firewatch / Campo Santo The Firewatch team at Campo Santo dissects their award-winning debut with a focus on narrative design with writer and studio director Sean Vanaman. Overwatch / Michael Chu Overwatch senior game designer Michael Chu discuss how characters come into being in one of the best-selling PC games of all-time. The Stanley Parable / Davey Wreden The Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden on how he designs virtual spaces that are perfectly suited for his unique narratives and how that’s pushed him to explore the everyday. The Banner Saga / John Watson Stoic co-founder John Watson on how classic films like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty inspired the Norse world of The Banner Saga series. Watch Dogs 2 / Jonathan Morin Watch Dogs 2 creative director Jonathan Morin tackled issues like surveillance, the Silicon Valley housing crisis, and diversity in tech in their ground-breaking title. He’ll talk about how the team built a simulation where everything is connected.   SPECIAL CONVERSATIONS 25th Anniversary of The Lawnmower Man + The Past, Present & Future of VR Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Lawnmower Man, a special conversation on how Lawnmower Man influenced a generation of digital creators and to how capture images of the future with the tools of today with Brett Leonard, director of The Lawnmower Man, Jessica Brillhart, Principal Filmmaker for VR at Google, and Cy Wise from Job Simulator's Owlchemy Labs.   SNEAK PEEK AND THE ARCADE A preview of new and unreleased work with some of the most dynamic independent game studios from around the world like Might & Delight, Finji Games, and Giant Sparrow, and additional hands-on play with unreleased and newly-released titles.   The program and panelists are subject to change. For the most updated schedule, please visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/games.
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Ken Levine, Sam Lake, and more

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival runs from Wednesday, April 19th through Sunday, April 30th. The slate is packed this year, and includes special gala screenings of the first two Godfather movies with Francis Ford Coppola and the cast in attendance as well as a screening of Reservoir Dogs with Quentin Tarantino and cast members in attendance.

Yesterday the festival announced the first ever Tribeca Games Festival, running Friday, April 28th and Saturday, 29th. Hideo Kojima is the inaugural keynote conversation guests. Ken Levine (BioShock) and Sam Lake (Quantum Break) are among the many others in attendance. The festival will open with the first group-play of Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy game as well as a Mura Masa concert. Additional programming includes discussions about art and design for games like Overwatch and a discussion about the oft-maligned (but maybe prescient) film adaptation of Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man.

This isn't the first year that Tribeca's done games-related programming. They've done special special showcases of LA Noire and Beyond: Two Souls, and in recent years have built up a solid VR/interactive showcase as part of the film festival. Last year, for instance, I wrote about the VR short Allumette.

Alec Kubas-Meyer and I will be covering the Tribeca Film Festival and the Tribeca Games Festival this year. So expect to hear from us goofy mugs at some point in late April.

For tickets and more information, visit tribecafilm.com/games.

The official press release is included below.

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Tim Curry nods seal of approval

It, the re-clown-boot, which previously underwhelmed, nay, whelmed with first look material has put on its big boy clown pants for this new teaser trailer (clocking in at a full 2:32).

Allow me to say, I'm intrigued again. No more quips. No more gags. This appears to feature real child acting (reminiscent of the oh so popular Stranger Things, cinematography, and a really eerie vibe that promises scares-a-plenty (loving the anamorphic widescreen composition!). I know I've said a Tim Curry-less It just wouldn't feel right, but this latest adaptation seems to offer a lot, and may just prove to be Steven King's first true adaptation as a real hit at the box office.

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Holy smokes. So many cues from the book. So much potential. I'm in: are you?

 

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Keeps him out of theaters

There was a time where I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Sandler's work. His early comedies like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were actually funny, and his dramatic turns seemed to be setting him up to move into legitimate acting roles. Then he just sort of gave up and decided to make millions of dollars making crappy comedies. I can't really blame him, but I can blame Netflix for supporting him. A few years back the streaming service gave him lots of money to make whatever movies he wanted and now they're giving him more to make 4 more

The problem is that all of his Netflix movies were so far pretty bad. I was hoping that with unlimited power he might try to do something interesting again, but instead it was just the Adam Sandler and His Pals show all over again -- and that gets pretty dark. Sandler's first two attempts, The Ridiculous Six and The Do-Over, were none to good either. He does have Sandy Wexler coming out next month, which actually looks like it could be decent given it seems to ditch the goofball comedy for a more emotional story that Sandler is actually good at.

After that, who knows. Hopefully the films continue to improve and by the end of the next five we get an actually good movie. 

[via Variety]

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New Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer has Peter Parker and Tony Stark at odds

Mar 28 // Hubert Vigilla
I wonder if this trailer gives too much away about the story. In particular, Spidey back in the low-fi/DIY suit seems like it should have been saved for the film itself rather than spoiled for the trailer. That would make for a dramatic reveal. What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Spider-Man: Homecoming will be out July 7th.
Spider-Man: Homecoming photo
Is Spider-Man more than just a suit?

The first Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer gave us a taste of the Marvel Studios webslinger, which seems to have a charm and ease that Sony never managed to get right in their Amazing films. The happy-go-lucky/I-love-saving-the-day side of Spidey is part of what makes Spider-Man one of the best heroes in comics.

In this new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, we get the other part of what makes Spidey a great hero: the woe-is-me/I-can't-do-this side. The weight of the world is on Spidey's shoulders, and sometimes he doesn't know if he can make it work, yet he tries as hard as he can anyway.

Enough of my jibber jabber. Here's the new trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Warning, though, this trailer seems to give away a lot of surprises.

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Trailer for David Lowery's A Ghost Story brings the beautiful existential indie feels

Mar 28 // Hubert Vigilla
The song in that trailer is "I Get Overwhelmed" by Dark Rooms, in case you were wondering. As I was telling the other editors here at Flixist, this full-frame, hint-of-Malick, existential trek through time and space is totally up my alley. Here's an official synopsis for A Ghost Story from the A24 website: With A Ghost Story, acclaimed director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) returns with a singular exploration of legacy, loss, and the essential human longing for meaning and connection. Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Academy Award-winner Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Academy Award-nominee Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A Ghost Story emerges ecstatic and surreal—a wholly-unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll. A Ghost Story will be out on July 7th. [embed]221403:43481:0[/embed]
Trailer: A Ghost Story photo
I got a rock, and overwhelmed

Based on the Sundance hype alone, I added David Lowery's A Ghost Story to our list of the most anticipated movies of 2017. There's something about Lowery's work that gets at me right. He even managed to make a pleasing remake of Pete's Dragon (which I assumed would be a crummy cash-in on an IP only familiar to Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers).

A trailer for A Ghost Story has just showed up online, and it looks like we're in a cosmic and supernatural meditation on life and death. It looks like it could be fantastic. Check it out below.

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Every Power Rangers Season, Ranked

Mar 27 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mention: Power Rangers Ninja Steel As of this writing, Ninja Steel is only ten episodes in (so halfway through the first half), so I can't fully rank it among the others yet. I've been enjoying what I've seen so far, however. Far removed from Neo-Saban's (when Saban reacquired the rights to the series' production in 2012) early growing pains, this season resets the age of the team -- they're teens in high school again -- and it's got all of the goofiness of the OG seasons but with better acting. I mean, they just introduced a gold ranger, who's a country western star and his helmet has a hat on it. What's not to like?  20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Summary: Two brothers try to steal a legendary crown (the Corona Aurora), but are imprisoned. Years later, explorer Andrew Hartford uncovers the crown, freeing the two bad bros. Andrew then brings in five folks, including his son, to become Power Rangers and gather the pieces of Corona Aurora before the baddies do.  Operation Overdrive is just a huge mess. I'm not exactly sure who or what to blame for its overall terribleness, but it's a combination of terribly written plots, terrible acting, terrible suits, a rap opening theme, and a bunch of characters who were all awful jerks. Seriously, this is the only season in Power Rangers where each member of the team is a selfish person with little redeeming value. The worst season of the Disney era, and the worst season overall.  19. Power Rangers Samurai/Super Samurai Summary: After otherworldly monsters invade feudal Japan, the Shiba clan trains generations of samurai to fight them and keep the otherworld (the Sanzu River) from flooding into the human one.  After Saban reacquired the production rights to the series from Disney in 2010 (which fans have dubbed the "Neo-Saban Era"), they took one of the shows I never thought would be adapted, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. The original series was unequivocally Japanese, so naturally there would be translation pains. But Samurai was the victim of a lot of factors. The series had moved to Nickelodeon, seasons were cut down to 20 episodes apiece (thus separating each series into two halves), episodes were aired out of order (the premiere was the fourth one produced), acting was all around awful (not to mention the worst child acting of the series), and it directly adapted plots from the original Japanese series even if it didn't make much sense in English. But, regardless of all of these factors, the show became popular enough (again) to keep going, mostly due to how unique of the season's theme was.  18. Power Rangers Mystic Force Summary: After dark forces of magic threaten the world, a great sorceress gathers five destined teens to be become Power Ranger wizards and fight the armies of the undead.  Like Samurai, Mystic Force is another season with a theme unique from the rest. The magical world (along with the admittedly cool look for the rangers themselves) could've been a great thing. However, the season became too focused on world building, introducing new characters every few episodes rather than allowing the season to breathe and/or give its core Ranger team the focus necessary. It became a Red Ranger season, meaning the Red Ranger got the bulk of the character work, but this was also a huge misfire since the Red this season (named Nick, sadly) was bland and uninteresting. The finale also had a random "mystical creatures vs. normies" kind of thing that sort of popped up out of nowhere, but the less said about that the better.  17. Power Rangers Megaforce/Super Megaforce Summary: Five teens are chosen to defend the world from an invading insect army then unlock powers at an alarming rate, eventually resulting in the ability to morph into every generation of Power Rangers before them.  Okay, there's quite a bit to unpack here. Megaforce was technically announced as the 20th Anniversary of the series, but nothing was officially done about it until Super Megaforce. Imagine the combined 100 episodes of two different shows mangled into a 40 episode nonsense machine and that's Megaforce. Rapid pacing combined with random tributes to Power Rangers never seen before (not even editing the Sentai exclusive teams out of the footage), and an overall laziness contributed to this season's downfall. Even more troublesome was what happened behind the scenes during their big anniversary episode. Saban had initially invited a bunch of old cast members but rescinded many of those invites before filming because they had become too expensive. So that's why you get two minutes of Tommy toward the end of the season and not much more there. But the suits and power changes were cool, so whatever.  16. Power Rangers Turbo Summary: The Rangers drive cars really fast.  Turbo was such a bad season it nearly ended the series altogether. After debuting with Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (which is oddly counted in the series' story despite being f**king terrible), it took footage from the Japanese Carranger, which was made as an intentional parody and saved Super Sentai overseas, and gave it gritty overtones. Its constant need to be taken seriously clashed with episodes where they got baked into a giant pizza or that one where Justin was stuck on a bicycle moving on its own. None of it was helped by a major casting change midway through when the OG cast decided to move on from the project after a few of them had stayed on for like a billion episodes. The one thing that saves this particular series is the fact I liked the new cast quite a bit. Patricia Ja Lee was the first Asian American Pink Ranger, and Selwyn Ward was a great Red Ranger. The two injected much of the needed personality this season (and beyond).  15. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Summary: When Demons attack Mariner Bay, the Lightspeed organization recruits five individuals with expertise to become a rescue squad of Rangers to save the day.  For these next few entries, there are seasons which were almost good but not quite there. These seasons often had great ideas but were hindered by other aspects of the production. Lightspeed Rescue was awesome for a number of reasons: The military theme gave the Rangers a more professional vibe than in seasons past; the suits had a nice, clean look to them; it had a good theme song; they created a unique power ranger for the series; and Carter Greyson was an awesome, no-nonsense Red Ranger who shot first and asked questions later. What keeps it from being great, however, is the lack of interesting villains, often befuddling writing (such as focusing the traditional team-up episode between seasons on some random child actor), and  the fact that one of the main villains was just terrible.  14. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S3 Summary: The Rangers get ninja powers before turning into children and then aliens show up.  While fans are nostalgic for Power Rangers' initial run, most seem to forget how bad the third season was. A strong brand with the gradual loss of popularity, the writers had no idea what to really do anymore. With an increased budget leading to less Japanese footage, it adapted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie into the series proper, adding in Ninja Powers, the Tengu Warriors, the Ninja Megazord (even using toy footage when the Ninja Megazord combined with the old Titanus zord), and eventually turning the Rangers into kids for the last half of the season. The brief (and terrible) Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers mini-season debuted here, and those are probably the worst episodes of the initial run. And I'm including Trini's troll doll. Still a lot better than the seasons higher up on the list, however.  13. Power Rangers Wild Force Summary: Five people are gathered on the floating island of Animaria, an island full of ancient animals called upon to protect the earth from pollution and environmental junk like that.  Wild Force suffers many of Lightspeed Rescue's issues,  with uninteresting villains (until the last few episodes anyway), weird decisions (their mentor was the worst), increased focus on Red Ranger, and an overbearing environmental message, but it's a rung above thanks to some standout episodes. Its crossover, "Reinforcements from the Future," is one of the best; the 10th Anniversary "Forever Red" episode remains one of my favorites; the suits were cool, and I actually was a fan of its Red Ranger until he committed an actual murder. I can't look at this season the same anymore, sadly.  12. Power Rangers Dino Charge/Dino Super Charge Summary: Five, then six, then seven, then ten people gather together when each discovers a long hidden dino gem, full of a transformative power that helps them fight the forces of evil.  The reason Megaforce was such a hearty failure is that it no longer had the excuse of Saban re-learning how to produce the series. But apparently they needed two series to figure out exactly how to handle things, because Dino Charge was a major improvement all around. It had better pacing, better filler episodes (meaning they don't contribute to the story but often provide character growth or comedy), a better cast of actors (Brandon Mejia is a great Red Ranger), and goes down in Ranger history for having the most Rangers on a single team at ten. Though not all of the Rangers were worthwhile (it's hard to develop ten different people in 40 episodes) and it fell apart toward the end, Dino Charge was still more enjoyable than most.  11. Power Rangers Zeo  Summary: After the destruction of the Command Center leaves them stranded, Zordon unveils a new set of powers from the Zeo Crystal, and this new level of power is needed more than ever against an invading machine legion.  Although Power Rangers was no stranger to change the first three seasons, the series didn't officially receive its first major overhaul until Zeo. Accompanied by an opening theme touting these new powers (based off of footage of a new season of Super Sentai) as "stronger than before," Zeo was an interesting thing. The Machine Empire had a larger villainous scope than Rita or Zedd, but they never accomplished anything concrete. There may have been a new Command Center, powers that technically grow in strength forever (thus leaving a plot hole for fans to argue about ad infinitum), and a starkly different suit overall, but Zeo also felt like a step down from the original series. It was a strange but much-needed transitional period, resulting in the loss of David Yost (who stepped out of the series due to terrible conditions behind the scenes), the loss of Karen Ashley's Aisha (who was written out of the show as a child), and the loss of quite a few viewers. This is where the nostalgia ends for most folks. But there were some great episodes within, like "King for a Day," which featured one of the best Bulk and Skull plots of the entire series. 10. Power Rangers Jungle Fury Summary: Three students of the kung-fu Order of the Claw are chosen to fight an ancient evil, Dai Shi, and rebalance the chi of the world.  Almost the final season of the series (before Disney decided to give it one last victory lap, RPM), it would've been a fine one to go out on. While it's got some goofy qualities (like talking flies and master karate folks turning into animals at the end for some reason), it was an ambitious season. Featuring only three initial Rangers (with a fourth and fifth debuting much later), this season played out like a kung-fu movie for kids. The suits are pretty cool, the fights were well choreographed in-suit and out, and instead of making a motorcycle to promote toy sales like other seasons, Jungle Fury chose to add three unique Rangers (who were initially evil puppets: another cool layer).  The finale may have been a bit rushed and unfulfilling, but it featured all eight Rangers fighting an undead army of monsters before a giant King Faux-dorah showed up for ten seconds. Also, the villains had a face turn, and that was pretty cool.  9. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Summary: Five strangers pull five mystical swords out of a rock and gain the power to save their floating space colony from an evil scorpion.  While Lost Galaxy isn't one of my favorites, I have to give credit where it's due. It's a season filled with so many of my personal favorite episodes ("The Rescue Mission," "To the Tenth Power/The Power of Pink," just to name a few) and one of my favorite sixth Rangers (Magna Defender, who eventually turned his powers over to Leo's brother Mike), but its shoes were just too big to fill. This was the first season of the series where the cast rotated out every year, and the first of the post-Zordon era, and after In Space's great finale everything felt lacking, naturally.  No matter how good in might've been in retrospect, it's another victim of growing pains. Quite a common problem for the series overall, as you might've noticed.  8. Power Rangers Ninja Storm Summary: After their entire ninja school was kidnapped by the evil ninja Lothor, three less than great ninja students are chosen to become the Wind Ninja Power Rangers and fight to save their fellow ninjas.  Though Disney acquired the production rights to the series mid-Wild Force, its first actual foray into the show was a fantastic debut. Though fans had to get used to a lot of new norms (32 episode series lengths, New Zealand locations and actors, less direct violence), there was an overall newness to the series that felt like a breath of fresh air. This first season focused on three initial Rangers (which had never been done before) before adding two Rival Rangers to the foray and had some pretty great acting from its main cast. The main villain, Lothor, was too hokey for it, and some of the episodes bordered on cartoonish terribleness, but the stark contrast of its style to seasons before and after helped make its mark among the others.  7. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S1 Summary: When evil sorceress Rita Repulsa escapes her prison of 10,000 years, a giant floating head and his robot butler recruit a team of teenagers with attitude. He endows them with dinosaur powers and they learn the value of teamwork and environmental friendliness.  Yes, the season of the series with the most fans isn't the best one. Though it began the Power Rangers legacy and introduced traditions (like the mythical sixth Ranger) and other mythos to the series, it was back before any nuance was added. There were monster-of-the-week episodes --  most of which are unmemorable (save for the "Rapping Pumpkin"), the teens themselves didn't have as much attitude as advertised (they were goodie goodies who recycled and the like), and it was back before good dialogue was a thing in this show. But, credit where it's due and all that.  6. Power Rangers Dino Thunder Summary: When the Mercer Corporation unleashes an army of dinosaurs, three kids stumble on dino powers and Tommy Oliver recruits them to form his very own team of Power Rangers.  When the ratings for the series began to falter, Disney brought the series back to its roots. A dinosaur theme, three Rangers at the start (which honestly might be why some of Disney's seasons worked so well), and the return of Jason David Frank as series mentor. Naturally, this meant Tommy Oliver got such a heavy focus (he became a Ranger again and got one of the best episodes of the series with "Fighting Spirit"), but the the rest of the cast were no slouches either. It takes quite a bit to take attention away from Tommy, but this team managed to do it.  The teens felt like teens for once (they fought among each other, hated school and things like training), the main villain was complicated (which was a welcome change post-Lothor), and it even managed an evil Ranger plot with everything else going on. It's not higher on the list because it has to compete with tighter series, but Dino Thunder is highly recommended.  5. Power Rangers SPD Summary: Space cops in the future.  I'll just say it outright: S.P.D. was slept on. With the best non-MMPR opening theme (which was no coincidence, as it brought back longtime composer Ron Wasserman) and the best suits from the Disney era, it nails a military theme that Lightspeed Rescue attempted years before. It also has a complicated set of Rangers in its core team, and is set years into the future, giving it a different vibe from previous seasons. Plus, there was a major story thread teased throughout which actually got the most focus toward the end of the season. A Power Rangers season with actual good foreshadowing? Yeah, it happened.  You see, this team was officially the "B Squad" or the second best. When the A Squad goes missing mid-season and re-emerges as bad guys toward the end. the final arc became overcoming their "second best" anxiety rather than taking on their generic villain.  4. Power Rangers Time Force Summary: Earth cops from the future.  Time Force is the closest to B-movie quality the series has ever come. With an older cast (some of whom with previous acting experience, which is why so much of the series is well acted), a team of Rangers from the future, some of the best suits the series has ever had, the best non-Tommy sixth Ranger (Eric the Quantum Ranger), and an unconventional villain (Rancic) who eventually gave up his evil ways when he put his daughter in danger. Though it's not a perfect series, as Rancic is the core of many of its problems (he's sort of an unsympathetic jerk despite the series trying to portray him as the opposite), and some of the team isn't as developed as others, the season featured quite a bit of nuance in its storytelling, which hadn't been present in the series before. It'd be years before it got that level of nuance again.  3. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S2 Summary: Zordon's team of teenagers with attitude face even greater challenges than before like how to negotiate proper pay per episode.  The best season of Power Rangers' initial run was after they worked out the kinks. Lord Zedd was introduced, Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers and became the White Ranger, there's an episode where Kimberly impersonates Rita Repulsa, three of the original cast were written out of the show due to contract disputes, Rita and Zedd get married, the Green Ranger and White Ranger fight in colonial Angel Grove, and Kimberly goes back in time and fights a Mexican stereotype cactus monster with the help of Wild West versions of her friends.  Writing this all out highlights how goofy the season was overall, but that's what I love about it. It wasn't overly serious like the first season, didn't have the budget of the third season, and it's the version of the OG series I remember most fondly. Still not great, but great by early Power Rangers standards for sure.  2. Power Rangers RPM Summary: After a computer virus creates an army of machines, the remnants of humanity retreat to the domed city of Corinth, where a team of Power Rangers is the last line of defense for everyone.  Intended to be the final season of the series, showrunners decided to go for broke and throw everything they had into creating a post-apocalyptic film for kids. Lifting creative elements from films like Mad Max and Terminator, then adding a Power Rangers layer helped give this season a vibe no other season had before. It was more creatively cemented than years past, and actually had good cinematography, which had made RPM look much different than its predecessors. It truly had a sense of finality and reverence that the series had only had once before.  What keeps it from the top however, is  that behind-the-scenes events (going over budget, shifting showrunners) led to problems toward the second half. Most problematical, one of its major plots aped a famous villain from many years before. This may not have mattered to most fans, but this one small flaw does keep it from the top spot in my eyes. But not by much.  1. Power Rangers In Space Summary: When an army of villains defeats the Power Rangers, the team escapes into space and gains a new set of powers before returning to Earth and laying the smackdown on errybody.  Like RPM, In Space was originally going to be the final season of the show, but it had such good ratings it basically saved the series. Going for broke, the production team decided to send it off with a space opera. A villainess fondly remembered for her multiplicity (which was huge for a kids show), the return of Adam for a guest-starring role in an episode as the Black Power Ranger, a set of evil Rangers that took multiple episodes to defeat, a Silver Ranger with a cool sword gun, and an actual end to the story started years before in Mighty Morphin episode one.  It featured a finale (which, admittedly, seems weak in retrospect when compared to the better written seasons of the later years) that not only captured Power Rangers at its best but also reflected the series' campy-yet-serious spirit. It had a scope no other kids show had at the time and truly set the series on the path it's on today. There you have it! Those are how every season of Power Rangers ranks among the others. If you're looking for particular episodes to watch, here are my favorites:  1. "Doctor K" -- Power Rangers RPM E11 2. "Countdown to Destruction" -- Power Rangers In Space E42-43  3. "Green With Evil" Mighty Morhpin Power Rangers S1 E17-21
Power Rangers Month photo
After 10,000 years and 831 episodes

It's been a weird twenty something years. Power Rangers has seen good days and bad days, both supreme bouts of popularity and near cancellation. Yet somehow, this series has survived so long that it's managed to get three different adaptations to the big screen. To be honest, when I first started watching Power Rangers all those years ago I never thought I'd be as committed to the series as an adult. 

One of the reasons it's manged to have strong, lasting power is the fact that Power Rangers reboots itself every year. Thanks to the footage garnered from Toei's Super Sentai series reinventing the wheel, Power Rangers is allowed to experiment with crazier ideas every year. 

But how do they compare to one another? 

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It's been a long time and many children later since Angelina Jolie donned the tank top and short shorts of Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider. So, needless to say, we are owed, nay due a remake, or a reboot, or a relaunch, or something.

I forgot one: origin story, as director Roar Uthaug put it in an exclusive interview with GQ.

Uthaug is a Norwegian director, whose films have played predominantly european screens--a virtual unknown to US audiences, while Alicia Vikander, the next Lara Croft, is probably best known for her work in Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Jason Bourne.

The new film will take inspiration not only from the entire Tomb Raider canon, but also from the 2013 reboot of the video game franchise and its sequel, and apparently, that particular reboot decided to cash in on the then huge clout of young brunette heroines with bow and arrow (aka Katniss Everdeen / Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games).

Google image search doesn't lie: Lara Croft will use a bow.

The lead image with this story was actually of Lara holding a piece of driftwood, apparently as either a weapon, or a defensive tool. Driftwood is brittle stuff. Since this piece is supposed to highlight the backstory and extensive capabilities of Lara Croft, I might have gone a bit more grandiose than earning a fire starting badge for the first look image. The follow-up image with bow and arrow is more on point, if not something we haven't seen recently. Hopefully there's no mention of a dystopian anything in the movie.

Building a fire, or about to demonstrate how to have your weapon broken in half?

 

[Via GQ]

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Justice League photo
Oh...alright

Justice League is technically one of Flixist's Most Anticipated of 2017 out of morbid curiosity. After getting a glimpse at this first official trailer, I'm not really sure what to think. It seems it has a less dour tone than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (good), but also seems really busy (bad). 

So, as with all of the DC Comics/WB adaptations I'll expect the worst. That way if it's not a trash fire it'll be a success. At least it looks better off than previous films at first glance. Everyone here (especially Jason Mamoa's Aquaman) looks good, and it could be fine. 

Then again, we've been burned before. 

Justice League comes to theaters this November. 

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YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Spider-Man: Homecoming opens July 7th. 

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Review: Power Rangers

Mar 23 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221258:43472:0[/embed] Power RangersDirector: Dean IsrealiteRelease Date: March 24, 2017Rated: PG-13 Power Rangers follows the well-known roots of the original TV series. Five teenagers -- Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin), and Trini (Becky G) -- stumble on five mysterious coins granting them superpowers. Upon discovering a spaceship deep underground along with a giant face-in-the-wall Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), the teens learn they're the latest team of Power Rangers, colorful suited heroes who need to protect the Zeo Crystal from good-girl-gone-bad Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). The PG-13 rating and big screen budget affords the film some great updates to the original series' ideas, but at times also feels like a two hour fan film when the goofy series terminology (words like "morph" and the "Zeo Crystal," which will mean more to fans) is juxtaposed with the grounded world of the film.  Thankfully when I say "grounded," I actually mean a deeper look at characterization and themes inherent in the series and not "dark and gritty." You're not going to, say, see Zack shoot someone in the face but will definitely hear him make a masturbation joke. The risque' jokes and sultrier villain help carve out a much needed separate identity from the TV series, but these kinds of additions tend to make for a confusing film overall. It's hard to gauge exactly who the film is meant for when some of the jokes and situations may be a bit too complicated for the current intended fanbase (kids) yet it's not afraid to dive into hokey territory at times to make cede kids happy. There's also so much drastically different from the original production it'll alienate nostalgic curiosity. But in that same breath, Power Rangers often bends over backwards to include bits of unnecessary fan service to cater to old fans, undercutting its own footprint. So it ends up perceived as non-committal to either vision. No one is going to be truly happy with the film's tone.  While its tone may be at war with itself, Power Rangers absolutely nails the chemistry of the core five. Aided by the fact they're all relatively unknown (save for RJ Cyler and Becky G, who turn in the best performances of the group), these five carry the film through its rougher patches. Scenes that wouldn't work elsewhere or ebb the flow of plot, such as one where five teens sit around a campfire and share their biggest secrets without prompting, manage to land because the cast is so enjoyable to watch. The great focus on characterization allows each of them to find their groove in the film and give the Rangers a much needed personality. It's why you see their faces during the big Man of Steel/Transformers sequence (where the Megazord fights Goldar through Krispy Kreme Grove), too. As unique as Power Rangers' fights should be, they devolve into CG nonsense you'll find elsewhere. But the chemistry of the team I came to love by the end adds a much needed humanity and fun while teasing much better films (presumably) to come.  Elizabeth Banks' Rita is also truly remarkable. Finding the sweet spot between scenery chewing and serious, each of her scenes is a highlight. Banks helps to balance the sometimes overwrought seriousness of the Power Rangers' tone with her charismatic cheese. Bryan Cranston's Zordon is fine, but I'll give him credit for going full body make-up for the role. I find myself at war with my "fan" reaction to the film since I dig the layered characters (as Billy reveals he's on the Autism spectrum and one character hints at a potential homosexual identity), the original theme gets used once (it's poorly timed, but has a nostalgic angle fans would instantly recognize), and even the suits look nice when standing still (which is something I never thought I'd believe, really), but then there's a masturbation joke not five minutes in after a boring "gritty" title card once again revealing a clash of tones holding the film back. I suppose the project would have landed better had it a director who wasn't prone to much of the generic blockbuster film camera angles and quirks. Power Rangers' flow stutters as development often comes to complete standstills, but then moves to scenes where concepts are introduced pretty rapidly (and several poorly soundtracked montages). I know this is probably weird to say with as loud of a property as this, but I enjoyed the quiet moments of the film rather than when it played out like an expensive music video. The final battle has something, like, six track changes and that's only one example of the film never quite getting comfortable with itself save for a few brief scenes. Even if it's not comfortable with itself, that does not mean it escapes franchise building. There's no saving it from feeling like the first entry of a larger series rather than a single entity. Make no mistake, I have no delusions over the quality of the Power Rangers property. This was tough to adapt, I'm sure, and the end result is much better and worse than I had anticipated.  Much like Power Rangers, I too am confused. Although I didn't like a lot of its editing choices, and feel like it could've been trimmed for brevity, I want to see this cast in another film with all of the kinks ironed out. There's powerful potential here, you just have to sit through this one first. 
Power Rangers Review photo
Oh, I have a headache

More so than any of the reviews I've written, I feel I have to preface this one a bit. Since I (literally in some cases) hold the Power Rangers brand so close to my chest, I've been keeping a close eye on the reboot since the moment it was announced three years ago. I've poured over every detail, every image, every trailer, and I've worried about everything a fan could possibly worry about. 

But I'm going to try my best to keep this fair. As much as I love the series, I also know to handle this property as I would any other reboot or remake and critique it professionally on its own merits or faults. 

That being said, I wish Power Rangers was either a triumph or disaster. At least with either extreme I'd have something concrete to write about here. 

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It's been a while since we reported on the adaptation of the Death Note manga, but apparently director Adam Wingate and crew have been busy for there's a new trailer for the Netflix original film Death Note:

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Death Note isn't due to be released until August 25th, so there's plenty of time to familiarize yourself with existing versions of the content (manga, anime, Japanese films / television) or to stew in anticipation or lack thereof. For my own part, it's enough time re-watch the anime and bask in the Light of how brilliant-come-simple the story is: fantastic concept serialized to the right length, never diluting the impact of decisions or event within the story. This is not your average, bloated, designed to keep running series. It is designed to come to a satisfying conclusion in its own, due course.

The story revolves around high school student Light Yagami, a high school student who finds a notebook with the power to kill whomever's name is written in it, and L, a super detective out to stop him. But it's intense! And this adaptation promises to be as well. Are you familiar with the story? What do you think the odds are that Netflix delivers? I'm curious for your thoughts as their latest adaptation, Iron Fist, has fallen flat with reviewers and audiences alike.

 

 

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Michael Shannon as Cable? photo
Michael Shannon should play everyone

Logan had a lot going for it. In addition to the pathos of an aged Wolverine, the film featured a surprise promo for Deadpool 2. Now, Deadpool 2 isn't in production yet, but Fox likes money and they want to make more of it because people liked Deadpool and want to give Deadpool more money. (Deadpool earned $783 million worldwide.)

Casting is underway for the film, with Zazie Beetz of Atlanta signed to play Domino. Ryan Reynolds and his merry band really want Michael Shannon to play Cable in the film. Shannon is a brooding and brilliant actor, while Cable is everything meatheaded about comics in the 1990s. It's a weird match, but dude played Zod. If being in superhero movies means he can still make really challenging indie movies in between, he's got my vote. Deadpool 2 will probably be better than Man of Steel anyways.

Heat Vision also reports that David Harbour of Stranger Things is also in the running, but since he is not Michael Shannon, he has a severe disadvantage.

Would you want Michael Shannon as Cable? Who would you cast if you could? Let us know in the comments.

[via Heat Vision/THR]

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The first trailer for Netflix's Mystery Science Theater 3000 has arrived... TUSK!

Mar 22 // Hubert Vigilla
Yeah, this looks like what I loved on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel back in the... Whoa, whoa.. WAIT! Guys! Go back to the 10 second mark in that trailer. Those skeleton goons. They look like they're an homage to Princess Dragon Mom's skeleton warriors from The Super Inframan (aka Infra-Man), a 1975 Shaw Brothers sci-fi/kung-fu movie, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Here's a clip from The Super Inframan for comparison: [embed]221391:43477:0[/embed] Any friend of Inframan's is a friend of mine. New MST3K, I knew we'd be friends. You're my Rowsdower. Or maybe you're Gamera and I'm Ichi. You can bingewatch the new MST3K on Netflix starting April 14th. [Entertainment Weekly via Tor.com]
MST3K trailer photo
Is that an Inframan reference?!

After breaking Kickstarter records and making nerds of a certain age feel nostalgic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is officially back with 14 episodes and gearing up for a Netflix premiere in April. Over at Entertainment Weekly, they debuted the first trailer for the rebooted show. The charming, low-rent special effects are back, and so is Mary Jo Pehl, apparently.

For your first look at Jonah Ray, Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, Hampton Yount, and Baron Vaughn in action, check out the trailer below.

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What is this?

I am out of the loop. Or out of whatever loop the Captain Underpants worldwide phenomenon was occurring in. For that I am sorry, for it seems I was missing out on something quite clever and funny. 

The first trailer for the Dreamwork's film is out and it kind of looks hilarious. Evidently the books they're based on are pretty funny too, but if the animation studio's track record is any key then we'll be getting a nice blend of adult and kid humor. That's actually a tall order for a film whose title involves underpants. 

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Honest Trailers: MMPR photo
Is that Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse?

Our own Nick Valdez has been writing numerous features and lists for Power Rangers Month, examining the various iterations of the show in the lead up to the new Power Rangers movie this week. That's a lot of repurposed footage, ay yi-yi yi yi!

In addition to describing how to reboot the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Nick reposted an older piece of his about the abysmal 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. That movie is about as good as you think, meaning it is very bad.

Over at Honest Trailers, they gave their own opinion on the 1995 cash-grab, which you can watch below.

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Keep an eye out for more Power Rangers Month pieces by Nick this week, including his review of the new film.

[via Honest Trailers on YouTube]

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Help crowdfund a documentary on the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games

Mar 21 // Hubert Vigilla
Damn, that song takes me back. D'Amato and Gür are looking to release Pretending I'm a Superman by fall 2018, with the film playing at film festivals in the spring and summer of 2018. Perks for crowdfunding include a digital download of the finished film, a DVD signed by Tony Hawk, t-shirts, signed decks from Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, and much more. Man... I'm going to have that Goldfinger song stuck in my head all day. Dammit. For more information on Pretending I'm a Superman, check out their Indiegogo page. [via AV Club]
Tony Hawk video game doc photo
Chain them grinds w/ kickflips & manuals

I have fond memories of the first couple Tony Hawk games, particularly the first three Tony Hawk's Pro Skater entries for PS1. Sure, the Tony Hawk franchise has seen lots of downs the last couple of years, but the fond feelings for those first games are still there. And yes, I do occasionally sport an onion on my belt. Why do you ask?

Ralph D'Amato, a producer on several Tony Hawk games, is currently working on a documentary called Pretending I'm a Superman. Directed by Ludvig Gür, the film chronicles the development of Tony Hawk going all the way back to the late 1990s. The film is 20% completed, and features interviews with Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Neversoft producer Scott Pease, and many others.

The team has turned to Indiegogo to raise the necessary funds to finish the project. Here's the pitch video (prepare to skank):

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What if Lewis Tan played Danny Rand in Iron Fist instead of Finn Jones?

Mar 21 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221386:43470:0[/embed] We'd Get Far Better Fight Scenes Above is the Iron Fist fight scene that everyone's abuzz about. Lewis Tan is an actual martial artist. He's built like an athlete. He moves well. He looks comfortable throwing punches, kicking, and rolling around on the ground with a sense of purpose. By comparison, not once does Jones move like a martial artist. There's no rhythm or ease or fluidity. Jones moves like a guy fighting, not a fighter--big difference. The directors used a number of techniques to make up for Jones' shortcomings as a martial artist: odd camera angles, shaky cam, obscuring close ups and long shots, excessive cutting, fighting in shadows or bad lighting, fighting in a hoodie. Whenever I couldn't see Jones' face, I just assumed a stunt performer was doing the fighting for him. Watch the fight above again and notice how little you see Jones' face when complicated moves or reactions are required. (Also, who'd want to fight in a hoodie? That would cut off your peripheral vision.) Whenever Jones has to do the fights himself, he looks clumsy. He lacks the instinctual poise and physicality of a trained fighter. He doesn't even have the body awareness, confident footwork, or balance of a dancer. Had Lewis Tan been cast as Danny Rand, you wouldn't need to make up for a lack of martial arts skill. Tan would be able to perform fights and stunts at a high level. He'd collaborate with the fight choreographer and action director since he'd know what he's capable of doing as a martial artist. They might even go beyond drunken boxing and use animal styles, traditional weapons like jians and three-section staffs, or a good old-fashioned horse bench fight. (If there are two things I love, it's three-section staffs and a good old-fashioned horse bench fight.) [embed]221386:43471:0[/embed] Someone like Tan could radically transform the fight scenes in Iron Fist. Fights in the show currently feel like perfunctory spectacle. Instead, with a martial artist in the lead, we'd explore Danny Rand's character through action. He'd have an actual fighting style that's individual and idiosyncratic, something that Jones never develops in 13 episodes. Bruce Lee moves a certain way, Jet Li moves a certain way, Jackie Chan moves a certain way, Donnie Yen moves a certain way. Danny Rand, the world's greatest martial artist, should also have a character-defining physicality. It may also be a way to define K'un-L'un's martial culture and imply what its larger fighting philosophy might be. Tan doing the fights himself would change the way the fight scenes are shot. Camera angles and movements could be used with greater care rather than to obscure faces. Fight scenes could be edited with rhythm, and cuts would be defined by body movement and action. It's nice to have a hero who doesn't have to fight in a hoodie or in the dark so much. The fights may also be able to tell certain kinds of stories, with Danny not just overpowering his opponents but outsmarting them. Overall, I think the action in Iron Fist could potentially be on par with Daredevil. It would have its own flavor as well since the fighting in the show wouldn't be like any of the other Marvel shows. More than anything, Tan could make Iron Fist feel more like an actual martial arts series. Confronting Asian Stereotypes While I'm okay with Danny Rand as a white guy in theory, I'm also aware that he is an artifact of a time and an iteration of a well-worn trope. I'm also okay with Danny Rand as an Asian guy because that's far more interesting than what we got in the show. It's the 21st century, so maybe old versions of characters can be reinvented for their times and for a new medium while retaining the original spirit. By casting an Asian-American as Danny Rand, the show could explore issues of race, identity, Asian stereotypes, and orientalism. Even just optically or subtextually, these topics matter when it comes to the traditions and cultures involved. Finn Jones' constant meditating, doing origami, and spouting off fortune cookie mysticism is some unintentionally awful and unavoidable pseudo-yellowface dreck. It's not even quaintly bizarre appropriation like the Billy Jack movies; it's just uncomfortable. There are so many assumptions about Asian masculinity that can be explored through Danny Rand. Since we'd be dealing with an Asian-American character, that could lead to some exploration of different cultural expectations imposed on Danny by others. There's also the idea of an Asian in-between. Asians assimilate easily into American culture yet are simultaneously regarded as a racial/cultural Other. Or maybe the new version of Danny is half-Asian, which sets up another interesting racial dynamic. Ultimately an Asian-American Danny Rand would wind up playing with the idea of a return to a mother culture and how that affects personal notions of identity. In an interview with Vulture, Tan made a common yet astute observation about how Asian-Americans are viewed and view themselves: I think it would be really interesting to have that feeling of an outsider. There’s no more of an outsider than an Asian-American: We feel like outsiders in Asia and we feel like outsiders at home. That’s been really difficult--especially for me. It’s been hard for me, because in the casting world, it’s very specific. So when they see me and I’m six-two, I’m a 180 pounds, I’m a muscular half-Asian dude. They’re like, “Well, I don’t know what to do with this guy.” They’re like, “He’s not Asian, he’s not white... no.” That’s what I’ve been dealing with my whole life. So I understand those frustrations of being an outsider. (As an aside, I think Jordan Peele's Get Out offered a brief but memorable exploration of this Asian in-between state during the backyard party scene.) In addition to the above, the relationship between Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and Danny Rand would feel much different. Maybe it's just me, but there's something about Jones as Danny that makes me think of guys who fetishize Asian culture (and especially Asian women) to an unhealthy degree. Maybe it's also the quality of Jones' performance--it's awfully patrician and leering instead of being flirty. The issues may be obviated with an Asian lead, or maybe these issues can become part of a more explicit exploration of racial fetishism. Representation in the Media On the note of Colleen Wing, I can't help but think of how cool it would be for a high-profile series to feature two Asians of mixed descent as leads. Admittedly, part of this stems from being an uncle now. I wonder how my niece might see some aspect of her identity reflected in pop culture. I suppose one day there may be a show about a half-white Jewish Filipina that will mirror my niece's own upbringing. When that happens, we'll probably have flying cars and be living in a post-scarcity utopia. Let's hope we get there. In all seriousness, I wonder who my niece's role models might be. I also wonder what people may think of my niece based on appearance alone. And that's why representation matters. More people and more voices and more experiences means more stories that we may not have heard and should hear. These narratives are machines for developing empathy and mutual understanding. In the case of Iron Fist, this machine also happens to hit bad guys in the face. (Woody Guthrie used to write that on his guitar until he thought of a punchier phrase.) There's something to be said about a show starring Asians just affirming the Asian martial arts stereotypes of the past. But that might be a lazy hot-take version of a bigger and more important conversation about old cultural ideas. Casting two Asian leads might be a chance to help deconstruct those antiquated notions about Asians whether they're the product of the 19th century, pulp fiction, or John Hughes movies. One show can't do it alone, so in an ideal scenario it will be one of many steps in the ongoing conversation of actual culture and how it's depicted in pop culture, and how both are these constructs in flux. The yellow menace can be inverted and undone, and ditto the sage-like magical Asian or the nerdy Asian math-god. I mean, come on, it kind of worked in The Last Dragon, all right? The Show Still Would Have Sucked Because of the Writing To paraphrase the bard of the squared circle Stone Cold Steve Austin, it's hard to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. With the current writers and producers, Iron Fist was going to suck no matter what. Even with a solid martial artist in the lead, it's hard to make a compelling character out of Danny Rand as written. He'd still be selfish and entitled. He'd still suck at everything. He'd still be prone to temper tantrums and amateur-hour decisions that wind up hurting people around him. I called him Anakin Skywalker with erectile dysfunction in the review because that's precisely how he comes across--a bratty crybaby whose rage gets in the way of his potential. Who wants to watch a frightened, confused jaboni as a hero? What's more, Iron Fist would still be rife with poor pacing and inert scenes. We'd still have to sit through conversations in corporate boardrooms, waiting for the delightful reprieve of someone philosophically punching bad guys in the face. To be honest, the Iron Fist fiasco makes me feel bad for Finn Jones. Even though he was on Game of Thrones, this was supposed to be his potential big break. It's been roundly panned, and he's taken the brunt of the criticism since he's the lead and has been inartfully defending an indefensible show during his press tour. This role has undermined whatever talents Jones may have. Now, he seems like the latest Blandy McBlanderson: an anodyne, interchangeable white male lead. Showrunner Scott Buck deserves a lot of the blame for the show's critical drubbing, and the same goes for the writers of Iron Fist. There's a fundamentally poor grasp of storytelling that goes beyond issues of representation and the problematic tropes of the past. Iron Fist is a martial arts show that doesn't give a crap about the martial arts. It's a crummy commercial for The Defenders, and it feels like it. Buck--who is credited with ruining the show Dexter in its closing seasons--is also the showrunner of Inhumans. If Iron Fist is any indication of how Scott Buck handles superheroes, I can't wait to watch Medusa and Karnak go over the finer points of purchasing supplemental insurance. Black Bolt will destroy a city with a whine. This is just a bigger indictment of the cynicism behind Iron Fist, a 13-hour set-up show for the next Netflix/Marvel product that fanboys and fangirls will watch anyway even if it's garbage. The writers and producers relied on old tropes and old approaches thinking they're sufficient, assuming people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad. The billionaire playboy who travels to the far east is played out and needs to be put to rest. We need new kinds of stories, and there are plenty of voices out there waiting for a chance to be heard. There are also many unfamiliar faces we should be seeing. Had Lewis Tan been cast as the lead in the current version of Iron Fist, he'd be anchored to Danny Rand the bratty milksop, the least heroic and least interesting character in his own show. What a waste of potential, but man, what a resume builder.
Lewis Tan: Iron Fist? photo
Missed opportunity by Marvel/Netflix?

The first season of Iron Fist was the worst kind of disaster--a boring disaster. At least half of the season was devoted to a corporate takeover plot. Iron Fist features more scenes in corner offices and conference rooms than fights, which isn't what I'd want from a martial arts superhero show. To top it off, the character Danny Rand is a clueless doofus. He's played by Finn Jones, a charisma vacuum without a martial arts background.

Yesterday, Buzzfeed published a piece about Lewis Tan, an Asian-American actor who tried out for the lead role in Iron Fist. The producers picked Jones instead, but they decided to cast Tan as the single-episode bad guy Zhou Cheng. Tan appears in episode 8, and his fight scene steals the show. In fact, Tan's drunken boxing showcase is easily the best fight of the entire season.

Tan made a major impression in just a few minutes on screen, which made people wonder how he would have fared as Danny Rand/Iron Fist. In the mighty Marvel tradition, I am here to provide an answer to the question: "What if Lewis Tan played Danny Rand in Iron Fist?"

Excelsior!

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Review: Iron Fist (Season 1)

Mar 20 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221385:43469:0[/embed] Iron Fist (Season 1)Director: VariousRating: TV-MARelease Date: March 17, 2017 (Netflix) Everyone thought Danny Rand died with his parents in a plane crash 15 years ago, but he really survived and learned martial arts in a magic Himalayan city called K'un-L'un. He shows up barefoot in New York at his family's building, spouting off fortune cookie mysticism like a low-rent Billy Jack. This kicks off a protracted battle for control of the company rooted in childhood bullying and soap opera-style family resentments, which is just what fans of the character wanted to see, obviously. The pilot episode is so dully inert. with Rand trying to assert his identity while former childhood friends Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) find different ways of say, "Nuh-uh, no you're not." Riveting. There's one slow, klutzy, 30-second fight in the episode with security guards. There is also a wise, disposable homeless supporting character who dies of a heroin overdose, seeding another season-long plot point. Iron Fist is a character who got his superpowers by punching a dragon in the chest, yet the show is treated with the aggravating seriousness of a prestige cable drama. The only saving grace of the plodding business drama stuff is Harold Meachum (David Wenham), the father of Ward and Joy who lives in hiding after faking his own death. Wenham is so invested in his character's giddy evil, and he oozes the charisma that's lacking in Jones as a lead. I can't blame Jones entirely for being so unintersting. He's not a good actor, but the writers give him nothing to work with. The second episode of Iron First takes place in a mental hospital, with Danny strapped to a bed most of the time. Beds are what I think about when I think of martial arts. Even a pseudo-tournament episode directed by the RZA feels static: Iron Fist ascends each level of a building fighting characters who have more personality than him. A skirmish in a later episode with a drunken-style fighter made me realize yet again how awful Danny is on so many levels. Iron Fist has feet of clay and a brain of rock. When he's not making the dumbest or wrongest decision, he's pilloried with self-doubt. His scowling facial expressions hint at tears on the verge. He's often so flummoxed with anger that he can't use his magic fist to punch things really hard. Danny Rand is Anakin Skywalker with erectile dysfunction. But yes, the fights. Oh god, the fights. Good fights tell stories. A character's fighting style reveals something about who they are inside, like some external manifestation of the self. They may have a signature move (Ric Fair's figure four leglock) or a unique weapon (Captain America's shield) or a personal fighting style (Ip Man's wing chun) that differentiates them from others. The primary characters in Iron Fist fight the same way--slow, clumsily, like actors in a martial arts show rather than martial artists. Their movements vary only superficially, and there is nothing dynamic or unique about the fights that pepper the series. Danny essentially fights just like fellow martial artist Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) even though she uses a sword and they have entirely different martial arts backgrounds. The fights of Iron Fist all look like glacial, inartful brawls. Seasoned fighters are turned into mere goons. I expected more from a martial arts show, namely decent martial arts. The fights of Daredevil put this show to shame; ditto the action in Arrow and Into the Badlands and even every iteration of Power Rangers. The camera angles obscure movement in the frame, the shots are banal and shaky, and there are so many confusing cuts that interrupt the flow of the action to the point of incoherence. It's amateur hour in the dojo and the editing bay. What's more, the fights all feel so perfunctory, or even like a chore, as if the writers thought, "A fight scene? Aww, do we have to? I really wanted to get into that class action lawsuit subplot." We're told that the Danny Rand is the world's greatest martial artist, but he fights like a guy who took karate at the Y two summers ago. Why does a security guard with a knife give this guy so much trouble? The person Danny dispenses of the fastest in the entire show is a teenager he hits in the ankle with a shinai. He wasn't expecting it either (sucker shinai?) and Danny preceded his assault by verbally berating the dojo for not taking martial arts seriously. Some hero, right? Hell, Danny doesn't even take off his shoes when he's in the dojo. Didn't they teach you anything in K'un-L'un, buddy? I'm pretty sure they at least took off their shoes at the Cobra Kai dojo. A great martial artist and he has the emotional intelligence of a bratty 10 year old and the balance of a newborn fawn. Later episodes of the show seem to break the fourth wall and acknowledge that Danny is a really crummy character. While he's trying to rescue a person being held captive, Danny's scuffle with a goon leads to said captive getting stabbed in the chest. What a hero. After watching him fight, one character even says, "Wow, you really are the worst Iron Fist ever." The final scene of season one even has Danny tacitly acknowledge that yes, he really does suck at everything, doesn't he? Danny Rand's bumbling heroism makes Colleen Wing that much more compelling as the show's secret protagonist. She's a poor martial arts instructor who helps her students make smart, moral choices while she's struggling to make ends meet. She compromises principles, she shows generosity to others, she learns and grows from her mistakes. Henwick does what she can with the script, and she has enough presence to carry the scenes she's in amiably. I found myself grateful for every Colleen Wing scene--finally a character to care about (other than David Wenham's Evil Faramir). There's so much at stake for Colleen, and she has so much potential to carry a show on her own, but she's relegated to supporting status. Danny Rand is Jack Burton to Colleen Wing's Wang Chi, but in a boring version of Big Trouble in Little China that's mostly about the intricacies of the commercial trucking industry. "Have you paid your dues? Well, let me explain the importance of unionization in a field such as ours over a power lunch." By the way, we never see Iron Fist punch the dragon in the chest. We don't even see the dragon and we barely get a look at K'un-L'un. This was probably due to budgetary constraints. Everything about Iron Fist looks laughably cheap. I didn't touch on the issue of cultural appropriation or orientalism in this review, which is oddly the least of the show's problems. I'm actually okay in theory with Danny Rand being white so long as the show was interesting. The show is not interesting. You don't even need to watch it to understand what will happen in Netflix's The Defenders. That sort of completism is for rubes. Just read about the set up online. There'll be more illumination in three or four sentences than there is in 13 hours of dreck with a weaksauce ending. The story in your head will probably be better anyways. There's so much you can do in life with 13 precious, precious hours. Don't make the mistake of watching Iron Fist.
Iron Fist (Season 1) photo
Booooooooooooooring

Iron Fist is such a tremendous failure on so many levels that it's fascinating to dissect. It's not fascinating to watch, however. The latest Marvel series on Netflix is a 13-hour bore that's 15% martial arts show and 85% boardroom drama. There's maybe 5 hours of story (I'm being generous) stretched out like a cheap sweater and just as stylish.

Did you want an unevenly paced superhero show that's mostly about the internal politics of a major corporation? Where every other scene involves two rich siblings discussing the plot in a corner office or a conference room?

Iron Fist is the epitome of inessential television. It's TV as background noise--the sort of thing you play while getting other things done. I was going to say it was TV as radio, but that's not fair to the radio, which can usually be fun, smart, and exciting. Iron Fist is none of these, though its biggest sin is its dispassionate fight choreography. Iron Fist is a martial arts show that sucks at the martial arts, which makes sense since our protagonist Danny Rand (Finn Jones) basically sucks at everything.

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Every Sixth Power Ranger, Ranked

Mar 17 // Nick Valdez
19. Blue Senturion/Phantom Ranger -- Power Rangers Turbo Look at these goobs. Though never officially designated as sixth Rangers, both the Phantom Ranger and Blue Senturion fulfilled the role normally designated for the sixth. While Blue Senturion was introduced with a new set of powers and a zord, the Phantom Ranger was a mysterious guy that never got developed. There was apparently a planned plot to make him Zordon's son, but it fell through. It was probably because no one cared. Turbo was such a bad season overall, and it definitely suffered more with its terrible sixth Rangers.  18. Solaris Knight -- Power Rangers Mystic Force Look at this goob. One of Mystic Force's core issues were the numerous introductions to new characters without much follow through. One victim of this was the sixth addition, Solaris Knight. Debuting alongside some weird cat genie (which got its own special episode, one more than Solaris Knight had gotten), this was a Ranger that could've gone somewhere. Revealed to be the Red Ranger's long lost father, this guy used a lamp blaster gun and was just kind of an overall lamewad. He didn't have any of the majesty a legendary warlock Ranger required and just fell by the wayside after his introduction.  17. Mercury Ranger -- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Look at this goob. Operation Overdrive had an entire team of goobs, but the one who stood out the most was the sixth addition Tyzonn. His story seemed interesting at first since he was a guy from another planet suffering from survivor's guilt after a team of rescue explorers he commanded had died on a mission. This was after he had been wandering around in a monster form for a few episodes too. But much like everything else that season, Tyzonn was an idea that went nowhere. He was latter shunted in favor of making him a weird dad always disciplining the rest of the team.  16. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Samurai What do you do when you cast a Thai actor for a Latinx character? Samurai seemed to think that meant turning him into a fisherman speaking in Tex-Mex. After being introduced by a flashback featuring the worst child acting in the entire series (which is saying a lot), Antonio came onto the scene spouting "fantastico" and using a fish blade. Admittedly he had a cool fighting style and was a shinier version of gold than seen in the past, but I'm sure this is one of those Rangers that made more sense in the Japanese version of the show. His dialogue was always annoying, but it is neat that he created his own zords...uh a squid and a lobster.  15. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Dino Charge  As you'll notice with a lot of these sixth Rangers, they all seem to be from another time or place. In Dino Charge, the Gold Ranger was Sir Ivan, a knight from some made-up country of Zandar. He was trapped in the body of one of the season's villains, Fury, until being freed during a big battle. But once his unique reveal was out of the way (he's the only sixth Ranger literally stuck inside of a monster instead of being one, being evil etc.) he was super boring. With his only quirk being occasional formal speech, his personality was bland. This wasn't helped at all by the eventual addition of four other Rangers to the team.  14. Robo Knight -- Power Rangers Megaforce Like much of Megaforce, Robo Knight didn't make any sense. Just as Turbo's Phantom Ranger and Blue Senturion weren't technically sixth Rangers, Robo Knight was this robot who apparently rested in the Earth for centuries until there was a threat to the environment. I mean, even if monsters had already attacked this guy didn't deem it necessary to intervene until some pollution mutants attacked. Once he was introduced, his whole schtick was being a robot who wanted to learn about human things (thus reading in the library seen above), but what's gotten him here over the others is that he eventually sacrifices himself to save the Rangers. But what knocks him back down is a revival a season later for no reason or explanation.  13. Ranger Operator Series Gold/Ranger Operator Series Silver -- Power Rangers RPM RPM was one of my favorite seasons of the series overall, but it also has some of the worst sixth Rangers ever. Twins Gem and Gemma were kids stuck in a laboratory developing young geniuses until the robot apocalypse destroys the place. Thought lost forever, the twins show up years later as the Gold and Silver Rangers. The had better suits and weapons than the rest of the team, but they finished each other's sentences when they spoke. It was this constant, annoying character trait that never ceased even as the series rolled on. The two didn't have time for character development either as they were introduced so close to RPM's endgame. Because of this, it's yet another idea that didn't quite fit the serious vibe of the season.  12. Lunar Wolf Ranger -- Power Rangers Wild Force Look at this goob. Like Dino Charge's Gold Ranger, Wild Force's sixth Ranger shared a body with a Wolf monster guy without knowing it. Also like most of the sixth additions, he was a warrior from another time who had silver streaks in his hair and really loved to play pool (loved it so much that his big super attack was pool related). On paper he sounds too goofy to work, and in practice this definitely rings true. But there's something about his goofiness that was just right for the series. Wild Force's season, overall, was this goofy message about environmental protection and the Red Ranger eventually went on to commit actual crime so it's a wash.  11. Super Megaforce Silver Ranger -- Power Rangers Super Megaforce In Super Megaforce, the team from Megaforce gained access to the powers of every past Ranger season and the sixth Ranger had all of the sixth powers. As a refugee from a war torn planet, Orion had all the makings of a good sixth Ranger. He had the most character growth out of anyone in the two seasons, but like a common complaint seen here he was just kind of boring after his introduction. Suffering from Super Megaforce's rapid pacing (and random episodes celebrating the anniversary), he rarely had any lines. Honestly, he made it this far up the list because his super mode included the goofily awesome shield seen above.  10. Green Samurai Ranger -- Power Rangers Ninja Storm Ninja Storm had a few problems, including how goofy their sixth Ranger eventually became, but this season absolutely nailed their sixth Ranger. Cam, son of the Ninjas' sensei and basically the Billy of the season (serving as the guy who provides tech and info), became the sixth Ranger after being sent back in time, learning a bit more about the Ninja code, and having a discussion with his deceased mother in order to gain confidence. It was a two-parter that was a highlight of the season overall. It felt like an earned, natural evolution of a character we'd seen since the first episode. The only thing knocking him back is his stupid baseball motif and electric guitar weapon.  9. Silver Ranger -- Power Rangers In Space Oh guess what? It's another guy from another world and time! After sustaining a severe injury, Andros (the Red Ranger of this season) seals Zhane a tube and waits two years for him to heal. Other than taking the boss ass suit from In Space and making it even cooler, this guy had a laser sword. There hadn't been enough laser swords in Power Rangers, oddly enough so this was a delight. Although his actor was bland, they actually gave Zhane a lot of personality. He was in a faux love triangle with Ashley and Andros, he had an on again, off again thing with the season's villain Astronema, he tricked the rest of the team into thinking he was dying, and he even dressed up as one of the Psycho Rangers in a creative way to beat one of them. After Turbo's lackluster sixth additions, it really helped to get a guy who actually did things.  8. White Dino Ranger -- Power Rangers Dino Thunder The first Ranger on this list to not come from another world or time. Trent was the son of the season's villain, Anton Mercer (who himself was a split personality of the actual villain of the season, Mesogog...long story), and gains Ranger powers when he stumbles on the White Dino Gem. Since Mesogog had given the gem evil influence or something, Trent's Ranger form is actually an evil Power Ranger that he can't control. After throwing around the team for a few episodes, he joins them in full (sound familiar?). But what's different about his introduction is the eventual cloning of his power, leading to a White Ranger vs. White Ranger fight (...sound familiar?). Trent was a bit of a lamewad that wanted to pursue art (...terrible art), and his evil self didn't really accomplish much when you boil it down. But at least he's a lot cooler than others on this list!  7. Shadow Ranger -- Power Rangers S.P.D. Doggie was the Chief of Space Patrol Delta who's wife was presumably killed by the season's villain. When he finally confronted the main villain, he was attacked by 100 monsters (eventually reflected by the cool "100" on his suit) and became the Shadow Ranger. He probably had the coolest suit of S.P.D. overall, and Doggie eventually landed the final critical blow during the season finale, but as we reach the higher ranks on the list he's been bumped down by some personal faves of mine.  6. Magna Defender -- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Magna Defender might not be considered a sixth Ranger by fans, but I've always considered him one. With two versions of the character (both badass), there was plenty to work with. The first Defender was a father avenging the death of his son (who was straight up killed on-screen), and the second was Leo (the Red Ranger)'s thought dead brother from the first episode, Mike. Using a sword (that also was a gun) to transform into a Knight looking guy, Defender was even able to grow and become his actual Megazord. He even sacrificed his powers to save the entire space colony toward season end, which was just another example of how selfless Mike was (as he both sacrificed himself to save his brother in the pilot, and refused to take the Red Ranger powers even if he was the rightful owner of them). He was also the first Ranger to have a cape in the series. Capes are cool.  5. Titanium Ranger -- Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue The Titanium Ranger may not be the coolest Ranger on this list (though try arguing an axe-gun isn't cool), but he cracks the top five by being unique. See, the rest of the Rangers on this list were a by-product of their parent Japanese versions. Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive, the series Lightspeed Rescue took its footage from, didn't have a sixth Ranger so the showrunners decided to make one for themselves. It's why his suit's so bulky in comparison to the others, and the only thing that kept him relevant to the story was a snake curse that threatened to kill him everyday in his dreams or something, but I'll give credit where it's due. Being an entirely American invention was a risk, but it's one that paid off. If he didn't show up, fans would have definitely questioned why there wasn't a traditional sixth member.  4. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Zeo Zeo kind of fudged the Gold Ranger's first introduction by laying out this mystery before revealing his identity as a goob who turned into three goobs (who know one knew, so it was a wash). But it definitely made up for it the second time around. After introducing several candidates who could've been a great Gold Ranger (Tommy's brother, Billy), and after keeping his identity hidden, his eventual reveal as Jason (the former Mighty Morphin Red Ranger) was one of the biggest surprises (and bits of fan service) the series had since Tommy's reveal as the White Ranger. Jason fit the series like a glove, and the character's history with Tommy eventually led to the great "King for a Day" two-parter which had the two fighting for the first time since their season one days, and had a cooler look than the rest of the team overall. What keeps him out of the top three, however, is the fact that the goob triplets have to come back and take the powers away because story reasons or something, I don't know.  3. White Ranger -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S2-S3 Well, at least one version of Tommy was going to get the top spot and it's definitely not the White Ranger. While he's cool and all (much cooler than a lot of the list by nature of his very existence), and he's the one thing taken from the Japanese series Gosei Sentai Dairanger from where MMPR season two got most of its footage from, Tommy doesn't really do much after his great introduction. His surprise reveal (coming down from a beam of white light in, uh, "White Light") after the loss of his Green Ranger power was a great moment, but he just became the de-facto leader of the team after the original Red Ranger was written out of the series. Despite his cool new theme and talking sword making him seem different, and fighting Lord Zedd to a standstill once, this was just Tommy all over again. To me it always felt like a downgrade from the Green Ranger power rather than the intended upgrade. I mean, just ask folks who remember the show. Do they say they want to be the White Ranger or the Green Ranger? It's always Green before White.  2. Quantum Ranger -- Power Rangers Time Force What? Tommy isn't both of the top spots? Well, no. Time Force was one of the best seasons of the series for its great villain, great Pink Ranger, great Red Ranger character arc, and notably, its sixth Ranger. In fact, the Quantum Ranger was so effective he was even brought back to a Red Ranger exclusive anniversary team up years later. As a rival to the richly born Wes (the Red Time Force Ranger), Eric was a poor kid who worked hard all of his life in order to prove he was just as good as the rich kids. Eventually growing to resent rich boys like Wes, he forced his way into Ranger powers by finding the Quantum Power first. Taking most things by force, he led a military team to attack the mutants (the baddies in Time Force), eventually gained control of the Q-Rex Megazord, and was more of an anti-hero through the season. Eventually he grew to be friendly with the others, even lending his Quantum Power to Wes toward the end of the season. On top of having a fantastic actor, Daniel Southworth, the Quantum Ranger was the first sixth member to have a full character arc since Tommy's in MMPR. With the added layer of not being mind controlled, or under some evil spell, Eric was just a guy who was so used to fighting for what he wanted he hated when others just seemed to get things handed to them.  1. Green Ranger -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S1 As it could be any other Ranger. The Green Ranger is important for a number of reasons. It started the sixth Ranger tradition (even for the Japanese Super Sentai, as he was the first over there too), the "Green With Evil" story line is one of the most fondly remembered by fans (both hardcore and nostalgic), Jason David Frank's see-ayaaaahs became a hallmark of the series (with JDF starring in five seasons over the course of the series) as he eventually became the face of it, and it was the first time I remember being engrossed by a TV series as a kid. Here was this evil guy with all of the powers of the good guys, only much cooler with a friggin' Dragon and better fighting skills, who went from bad guy to good guy over the course of a week.  I remember school feeling so long that week as I waited to see the next part of the epic story. No other Ranger (sixth or otherwise) has left that big of an impression. So big, in fact, folks are clamoring for his addition to the new movies. While I'm sure the Green Ranger will be added to the films, the new version will never be as cool as the original. 
Power Rangers Month photo
Rangering through the six with my woes

Through its 24 seasons or so of existence, Power Rangers has become a show with its own set of traditions. Each season of the show may change, but a lot of the core elements stay the same: a rocking theme, colored spandex, and there's always a special ranger who comes in partway through the season and is a veritable badass. 

Beginning with Tommy Oliver's Green Ranger changing kids lives in the 90s and going until the less well-known sixth Rangers of today, not all of these Rangers have been great. 

For this ranking, I've factored in how well each sixth Ranger fit into their team, how they were introduced to the story, and overall coolness factor. A lot of nerd science went into this very important list. 

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Avatar 2 delayed photo
Let it go, James

Avatar 2 is delayed. This is not a repeat from 2016. It is also not a repeat from 2015. The theme for the 2018 Avatar 2 delay will be "Under the Sea". With this many delays, I swear James Cameron is secretly making a Don Quixote movie.

Cameron himself said that the film is delayed because of additional Avatar sequels.

"What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases," Cameron said. "So, we’re not making Avatar 2--we're making Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5. It's an epic undertaking. It’s not unlike building the Three Gorges dam."

On the note of dams, I didn't give a damn about the first Avatar, and I don't give a damn about these sequels. It's about damn time Cameron made another boisterous action movie, though. Dammit.

[via The Independent]

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The Matrix photo
Does it really matter?

The Matrix should not be rebooted (even if there is a right way to do it). Hell, with the way the franchise dovetailed I'm not sure if it should come back in any form. But it is, of course, and we heard it was going to be a reboot. However, the probable screenwriter for the new film, Zak Penn,, is saying otherwise in a bit of a Twitter rant. 

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Basically, we're getting a Matrix universe, not a totally new Matrix franchise. Given the current state of Hollywood this makes total sense, and if you've read the Matrix comics or watched Animatrix as Penn suggests then you know there are a lot of other stories out there. 

I guess I can kind of see this working out as long as they're full of great fight scenes, but as I said above the franchise could barely survive three films. Maybe there actually isn't enough there to make an entire universe.

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How To Do It: The Matrix Rebooted

Mar 16 // Hubert Vigilla
1. Treat the new Matrix as part of continuity When Neo meets The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded, we learn a lot about how the system works and how it sustains itself. The current version of the Matrix is just the sixth version in a line of reality-simulating self-regulating programs, each designed to account for the complexities caused by human free will. The choice Neo makes will determine whether or not the human race survives. Certain programs carry over from each version of the Matrix even if each iteration is a new one--Seraph was apparently a former Agent in an earlier version of the Matrix; The Merovingian harbors obsolete programs; The Oracle, as a guide for The One, is sort of like the Clippy of the Matrix. Choice creates a series of forking paths in every iteration of the Matrix, all headed toward the inevitability of The One and the necessity of a reboot to eliminate The One from the system. Then a new version, and a new One, and so on. This offers a diegetic reason for a new Matrix to exist: it's built into the program, it's part of the way the world works. This also provides an interesting exploration of free will and agency viewed from a human perspective (uncertainty regarding outcomes) versus an analytical/machine perspective (contingent branches on a decision tree). There's another story element this in-continuity Matrix reboot offers, though I'll get to it at the end. 2. Pick the Wachowskis' brains The Wachowskis are the parents of this story, and while they may not have to give their blessing for the project, it would be great for someone to pick their brains about the Matrix. Was there anything they wished they could have done? Are there things they would have done differently in hindsight? What lore had they created for their world that they never talked about? There's probably a lot of unexplored material to consider. Come to think of it, there might even be too much to talk about. When the two Matrix sequels came out, a bunch of supplemental material got released between 2003 and 2005. There was The Animatrix (a collection of animated shorts), Enter the Matrix (a video game), The Matrix Comics, and The Matrix Online (an MMORPG). Some of this may have been crass merchandising--let's milk this cyberpunk, anime, Hong Kong action movie cow until it bleeds--but I also sense that there was a much bigger story the Wachowskis wanted to tell but never finished. Once again, I tie this back into the diegetic idea of the Matrix reboot just being the latest version of Matrix. Going to the architects of the original Matrix might improve the newest version of the program. 3. The Matrix > Zion and the real world Some of the weakest material in the Matrix sequels took place in the real world. Zion was a dingy, rusty place with steam, corridors, walkways, Cornel West, vanilla sex, and boring raves. The war against the machines wasn't all that fun either. Shoot them or use an electromagnetic pulse. Behold--boring, expensive naval combat. I remember the sickly green world of the Matrix better than the state college dorm of Zion. For the new Matrix, there may be a way to engage the real world without it seeming so banal. Perhaps it's a matter of increasing the stakes. Extinction level events are big, sure, but what matters in the abstract and what we form an emotional link to are different matters. The latter requires some concrete connection to people and places. What makes Zion worth caring for really? What makes a place a home? A place is not innately meaningful. And to that, did anyone get attached to the new characters fighting in Zion? They were mostly a bunch of Blandy McBlandersons doing action-things without emotional content. That brings me to the next point... 4. Stick with a core group of characters with well-defined supporting players The cast of supporting characters ballooned in The Matrix Reloaded. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but unfortunately most of the new characters were forgettable. Did Niobe, Link, or Commander Lock add much to the story? Ditto that annoying kid in the giant mechanoid robot suit? Their screen time may have expanded the world of the movie, but they often sucked the air out of film's story since their actions were rarely significant to the plot. (The blunt difference between world building and storytelling.) Rather than putting your setpieces on the shoulders of bland supporting characters (e.g., the annoying kid in the defense of Zion in The Matrix Revolutions), keep the focus on a core group of well-defined characters. Why wasn't Morpheus manning a mech alongside Niobe during Zion's last stand? Come to think of it, what defines Niobe as a character other than the fact she's played by Jada Pinkett Smith? If supporting players are involved, give them personality rather than assign them a plot-based function. I still find it telling that the Nebuchadnezzar crew in the original Matrix has more personality than 95% of the supporting players in the two Matrix sequels. 5. Update the aesthetic to avoid the late 90s/early 2000s Let's come back to the diegetic notion of a new Matrix program rebooted for the umpteenth time. If the old Matrix was defined by the aesthetic of the late 90s and early 2000s, we can chock that up to a quirk of programming. (Obviously this is a paradoxical symptom of the era that birthed the first movie. Nearly every attempt to make something look futuristic winds up looking, in retrospect, like a product of its time. Why is it that conscious attempts to fuse the future with the past a la Blade Runner still look futuristic enough?) The new Matrix should depict a contemporary era's vision of the future rather than recapture the look of the millennial cusp. This goes for the manner of dress, the in-story technology, and the score (imagine how quaintly goofy a techno-classical hybrid soundtrack might sound today). And since the original Matrix drew on a hodgepodge of influences that were so 90s, the new Matrix can draw on things that define the 2010s in some way. Maybe the fighting style changes from the kung fu of 80s Hong Kong action movies to the faster, more functional striking and grappling of MMA. Maybe the G-men-like Agents become Slender Men and more menacing as a result. Are the rebels into post-rock or hip-hop? And how will smartphones and tablets figure into all of this? Ditto apps and the cloud. There's a lot to consider here, and I don't want to just list pop culture detritus for the new film. Those things will be carefully picked by the filmmakers, who will hopefully do more than show us shiny, fight-y, special effects-y things. 6. Find writers and directors with something to say A lot of reboots and remakes suck because they don't say anything. Instead they're selling empty nostalgia using a name you may remember. Yet there are solid remakes (David Cronenberg's The Fly) and reboots (Christopher Nolan's Batman movies) and soft sequels (Ryan Coogler's Creed), each of which does something new with familiar material. There's a sensibility behind the name, a human intelligence behind the IP. There are probably some filmmakers or writers out there who were influenced by The Matrix. Maybe The Matrix was their gateway drug into other aspects of geek culture. They might have a personal story they want to tell, and The Matrix may be the right vessel to tell it. It may be political, too--something about resistance and rebellion feels right these days. A recent report said that Warner Bros. is trying to get a writing room together for the Matrix reboot, sort of like how they write TV. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. A guiding hand can steer the writing room into an interesting direction. Multiple ideas from solid writers can bounce off each other and synthesize and create better ideas. (I'm skeptical--and why shouldn't I be?--that Warner Bros. actually wants to make something that says anything. A writer room assembled by a studio reeks of film-by-committee-by-market-research.) 7. Avoid repeating the story beats of the original Matrix films Most reboots and remakes fail because they slavishly repeat the plot of the original film without offering anything original of their own. Even though I sort of liked the Ghostbusters reboot, the weakest material in the movie was anything that reminded me of the original Ghostbusters. Why would I watch a reboot if it's a pale imitation of the original? (That also applies to Ghostbusters 2.) For another example of this, think of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, which is a joyless, beat-by-beat recreation of the plot from Richard Donner's Superman. (Superman Returns is the Ghostbusters 2 of superhero movies.) There'll be a temptation to redo the red pill/blue pill scene. The same goes for Neo's first jump and cartoon fall. And the new filmmakers will probably want to do their own rendition of the lobby scene. The occasional nod to the past is okay, but why do the same thing again? Why not do something new? I suppose blank canvases are more intimidating than tracing paper, and the potential of an incomplete line is more stultifying than connect the dots. To put it another way, if you're going to cover a song, do it like Devo did "Satisfaction" or Johnny Cash did "Hurt". Someone has to make this material their own rather than just repeating the mistakes and successes of the past. There the line from Jose Lezama Lima quoted in Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch: "Let us try to invent new passions, or to reproduce the old ones with a like intensity." Yeah, do that. 8. E pluribus unum (Out of many, one) I mentioned there's another story element about keeping the Matrix reboot in continuity with the original trilogy. Here are preliminary thoughts on that, and the point where simple suggestions in approach veer into the realm of Matrix fan fiction. Say there's a new Neo in a new iteration of the Matrix. Neo is the latest in a line of Ones from previous versions of the Matrix, each of them an anomaly eventually accounted for and zeroed out to restart the system. What if the new Neo could access the old versions of the Matrix and see how they played out? Maybe they're archived even though the system has run its course. What if the new Neo could somehow learn from previous Ones? Maybe the Ones are iterations of a monomythic subprogram that eventually results in a prototypical, archetypal, chosen-one hero who follows the mechanical beats of narrative heroism to ensure the Matrix can eventually reboot. The monomythic subprogram comes from an AI's analysis of heroic legends from past human cultures. What if the way to beat this self-perpetuating system is to break the monomythic structure? To crap on the Hero's Journey? To intentionally subvert the heroic narrative and create a new kind of heroism? This is a larger meta narrative that's simultaneously diegetic. The Matrix Rebooted is about the nature of reboots, and also about the nature of narrative repetition, how it's a valuable part of our history and yet how it's essentially mechanical at this point and may require some sort of reinvention to be relevant rather than just comforting. We can choose to be heroes otherwise--we can invent our own heroism and a new morality. Neo is the hero gone rogue artist, the sort of person who comes away from a class on Nietzsche but isn't a total douchebag about it. Maybe the new Neo recruits an army of Ones from the archives to battle in the system like a bunch of cyberpunk Supermen, or perhaps Neo figures out a way to blow up the system through intentional acts of narrative terrorism. Maybe Neo turns everyone into the One by helping people see patterns in their own lives that tap into the monomythic subprogram. (This all sounds a little like a Grant Morrison comic book, sure, but the Wachowskis borrowed heavily from The Invisibles, so screw it.) Maybe Clippy the Oracle can help in all this. "It looks like you're subverting the Hero's Journey. Would you like help?" Yes, Clippy. Let's kung fu the hell out of traditional storytelling.
Matrix Reboot photo
I know reboot fu

The other night we learned that Warner Bros. is developing a reboot of The Matrix, with an interest in Michael B. Jodan as the lead. Zak Penn has been tapped to write the treatment for the reboot, but nothing else is solid at the moment. The Wachowskis may not be involved in the project at all.

We're drowning in reboots and remakes these days, and the idea of remaking The Matrix seems unnecessary. It's so tied to its period--a groundbreaking work inextricable from the 1990s. I can't believe it's almost 20 years old. Where did the time go?

But what if you had to do a reboot and wanted to make the Matrix reboot matter? I think The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded provided solid story potential for a reboot. I also think The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions offer examples of what might not work in a new series.

This may all be preliminary fan fiction, but here's how I'd do The Matrix Rebooted.

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Akerman in Rampage photo
Is she playing the entire US Army?

The live-action adaptation of Rampage seems to be moving forward without any hitches. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is playing the hero of the film, and director Brad Peyton promises scares and the feels. Today Heat Vision reported that Malin Akerman is in talks to play the villain of the movie.

So, is Akerman playing all of the army guys?

No. Not quite. In addition to this casting news, Heat Vision provided the following synopsis of the Rampage film:

Like the video game, the film will feature three creatures--a monstrously transformed gorilla, crocodile, and wolf--who wreak havoc on North American cities and landmarks. Only one man can stop them: the animal-loving hero played by Johnson.

Akerman will play the movie's villainess, a calculating head of a tech company that is behind the monsters.

Oof. That sounds less fun than a movie in which The Rock plays all three monsters and Akerman plays everyone in the armed forces. Trust me, the version of Rampage in my head I just described is awesome. The octopus was very scary.

[via Heat Vision/The Hollywood Reporter]

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Guardians 3 photo
He may not be involved, though

Making to epic science fiction films back to back must be tiring so I can understand why when James Gunn revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is definitely happening he also was pretty wishy-washy on if he'd be involved in it. Talking to Complex the director shared his thinking, while casually dropping the confirmation bomb. 

“There will be a Guardians 3, that’s for sure. We’re trying to figure it out,” he said like it was no big thing. “I’m trying to figure out what I want to do really, that’s all it is. I got to figure out where I want to be, what I want to spend the next three years of my life doing. You know, I’m going to make another big movie; is it the Guardians or something else? I’m just going to figure it out over the next couple of weeks.”

Gunn's direction is one of the things that set Guardians apart from the rest of the Marvel universe so him leaving could be a big blow. 

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The Batman delayed photo
Hello first draft my old friend

The Batman seemed back on track when Matt Reeves signed on to direct the film. Maybe, just maybe, things would be looking up for the new solo Batman film and the DCEU as a whole.

Scratch that. There's been another setback.

According to a tweet from Justin Kroll of Variety, Reeves is committed to work on War for the Planet of the Apes through June. (The film comes out July 14.) That means Reeves wouldn't come on board The Batman until the second half of 2017, which could push actual production back to 2018.

In addition, there are rumors that the screenplay for The Batman will be rewritten from scratch by Reeves and his team. The first version of the script was co-written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, with additional work by Chris Terrio. It's unclear if any elements from the first screenplay will be retained in the new version.

A while back we noted that the second Justice League film would be delayed until the completion of The Batman. Now I'm not so sure. The DCEU remains in flux. But maybe Reeves and the crew taking time to make a good movie rather than rushing out some product will be for the best.

[via /Film]

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Every Power Rangers Suit, Ranked

Mar 15 // Nick Valdez
21. Power Rangers Megaforce Originally touted as an anniversary season of the series, Megaforce has plenty of problems. Least/Most of which is the costume design. While these suits have some good ideas such as the helmet's mouthpiece reminiscent of Mighty Morphin' (which must've been a happy little coincidence for Saban), and I do like some of the gold highlights, everything else is a mess. The suit's way too busy to actually work. I'm sure the outfits make sense in the Japanese original, but why do their chest emblems have different designs? Why do all of their pants ride so high up as to give them uncomfortable looking front wedgies? It's like a weird military outfit without any of the context. Just goofy and bulky.  20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Like Megaforce, Operation Overdrive's suits are far too busy. There's some simplicity in the helmets (at least they have visors the suit actors can actually see out of), but there's so much to unpack at first glance. The motif this season was world adventuring (hence the compass insignia), but the helmets all reflect their vehicle zords so it gives them headlights like Turbo's ridiculous ones. Then add in the chrome shoulder plates, belts, and cufflinks and it's way too much. Not to mention the Silver Ranger's awful orange stripe and lavender shoulders which makes the entire team look worse each time he's near.  19. Power Rangers Turbo Speaking of Turbo, their helmets are the worst in the series. Replicating their vehicles gives them chrome and headlights coupled with tail lights (?) on their belts. The rest of the suit is fine, but you just can't take those helmets seriously. It was fine in a Japanese series parodying other Sentai shows, but didn't exactly work for a serious Power Rangers drama which included the team getting baked into a giant pizza.  18. Power Rangers RPM RPM was a fantastic send-off for the Disney owned seasons, but showrunners wanted their idea for a show, a post-apocalyptic thriller to somehow mesh with one of the goofier Japanese seasons, Engine Sentai Go-Onger. Fortunately it mostly works as there's a story reason behind the suit designs, but it always rubbed me a wrong way that these didn't reflect the story. They're not the worst suits, but they're by far from the best. Combining animals, cars, and everything else into their helmets, once again there's a lot going on. Doesn't help that the suits look baggy too without a true separation of tops and bottoms. The only thing which kind of works is the animal/number insignia since it does resemble flair soldiers are known to give their uniforms for morale. Otherwise, c'mon it's a mess.  17. Power Rangers Dino Charge I like a lot of the choices made with the Dino Charge suits, especially the slick helmets (which go full-visor when they're in the Megazord), but a major complaint I keep using once again rears its ugly head. There's just so much going on with these suits. It's indicative of the series as a whole (so many Rangers, zords, motifs), but just doesn't come together like the show does. A slick helmet juxtaposed with a bright tooth pattern, monochromatic pants and shoes, and grey-scaled sleeves? It aaaalmost works, but then you've got the random single shoulder pad and lose all sense of symmetry.  16. Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers I may appreciate simplicity in a design, but there's such a thing as too simplistic. There's a reason this entire season of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger was skipped over in favor of using the Mighty Morphin' suits for a third season. The design was used creatively (tweaking the "ninja" motif into an "alien" one), but that's only because of its stark contrast to the original suits. These are neat and uniform (more so than any other season). but they were too bare bones to work on their own. Which is why they're only around for a short time.  15. Power Rangers Zeo Zeo was a transition season for the series in a number of ways. New powers, new villains, new Command Center, colors were shuffled around (Tommy became the Red Ranger, Jason eventually became Gold), and the show started distancing itself from its original motifs. Gone are the spiritual animal and dinosaur powers, and replaced with full-on magic crystal powers. While I like the gold trim, I've never liked the suits overall. They seemed like a downgrade from the originals due to a general lack of white and the Yellow Ranger's loss of vision. But I did appreciate the shift away from the molded mouths. Instead of a grey standout, they're blended into the helmet. I also don't think I liked how everyone looked chunkier? I don't know, old school aesthetic I guess.  14. Power Rangers Jungle Fury Now these suits would crack the top ten if the Red and Blue Rangers had the same skirt as Yellow does. Skirts have always been a major problem for this series, and I don't really have the time or space to go into why they're a problem here, but Yellow's actually works the best. Like Purple and White, her suit most reflects a fighting gi which greatly suited this season's kung-fu movie theme. The White Rhino Ranger has my favorite design overall since he just looks like a kick-ass karate dude. That's never happened in the series before, and it still has yet to happen again. More blatant kick-ass karate folks please.  13. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy I feel like Lost Galaxy's suits were so middle-of-the-road, it deserved to be in the middle-of-the-list. I was always a huge fan of the helmet design, but hated the Charlie Brown stripes on their chest. This was another season in which the Rangers looked especially bulky, and they only looked worse following In Space's slimmed down and sleek design. I wish I had more to say, but honestly, these suits are boring though they don't look like they would be. 12. Power Rangers Dino Thunder Dino Thunder was Disney's attempt to wrangle in old fans of the series. Bringing Tommy in as a dope looking Black Ranger (not pictured here since I couldn't find one with a good enough quality) and an "evil" White Ranger with an also great design, the main trio was almost there. It's a simple aesthetic with the dino theme barely peeking through in the helmet, but from the neck down it's a little much. I'm a huge fan of the footprint insignia in the center, but these suits almost have too much white. The diamonds running down their arms and legs may serve a story and power purpose, but that doesn't mean I don't have to like them. But as we're getting closer to the top ten, I'm splitting hairs.  11. Power Rangers Ninja Steel It's only six episodes in, but I've been impressed by what Ninja Steel has offered thus far. Notably, the suits are fantastic. You've got the ninja sensibilities (done much better seasons before, but you'll see that soon), but since these ninjas don't really care about anything ninja-y the bold design on their sashes gives their insignia a bit of pop. It's simplicity masking outlandishness working especially well with the White Ranger and her pink outline.  10. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Lightspeed Rescue was the first season of the series to have its team be a military force and it's look reflected that pretty damn well. A simple design shared between the entire team with only differentiating factors being visor and color. The white balance here works, unlike Dino Thunder, because it has a clear stopping point. It along with the crosses on their helmets reflect the rescue theme of the season and overall look good in motion too. This was a team where difference in appearance wasn't too necessary, yet felt like it was included to keep up the morale of the force like RPM.  9. Power Rangers Mystic Force Capes are cool, so I can't believe they've only been part of one season. A lot of things I thought would bother me at first glance actually works well in motion. There's a nice white/color balance as it's only relegated to the capes (and the women's white bottoms make them look like they're wearing tunics, which is a plus), the giant black and gold "M" is a great design choice that's totally not overpowering or super noticeable unless you really stare at it, and although the visors seems tough to see through there's an overall "grand" feeling in the design. It's kind of like what Megaforce wanted to accomplish but grandly failed at.  8. Power Rangers Super Megaforce Speaking of Megaforce, the second half of the series had one of the coolest costumes ever. I'm a big fan of this pirate look since it's so unique (with only small difference in visor design among them), and these looked really clean in motion. In fact, they even popped their collars during the Ranger roll-call and it was about as goofy as you'd expect. In a good way. However, since the pirate look was never capitalized on (or explained, really) these awesome suits were wasted. Not to mention that these are only powered-up versions of the Megaforce suits and not a full team of their own. If this look had been handled better, you could be damn sure it would've been in the top five.  7. Power Rangers Ninja Storm Although the Alien Rangers were technically ninjas, the first foray into a ninja ranger season was an impressive one. The first full season of the series to use a teal color for the Blue Ranger, a simple but expressive helmet design, and darker colors for the two Thunder Rangers really left an impression on me. The visors also opened in a cool way; only revealing part of the face when they were speaking to each other. Since we're getting into the nitty gritty of the list, I will say these suits were eeked out by some that did a liiiittle bit more. Especially considering how all of this awesome simplicity was tossed out the window in favor of the Green Samurai Ranger's obnoxious look.  6. Power Rangers Wild Force Wild Force is the only season of the series so far that comes closest to the first season in suit design. The gaudy, but slightly subdued helmets are a natural evolution of the dino helmets, except here more teeth come down over the visors. The shark helmet is a standout, and I'm very fond of the White Ranger's pink stripe highlighting her skirt. The one thing I'm not a fan of, however, is the huge gold strap on their chests. It's a little much coupled with the insignia, and its asymmetrical placement definitely throws off the look. The belt buckle also takes up too much real estate and makes the waist seem unnecessarily heavy.  5. Power Rangers S.P.D. S.P.D. was one of my favorite seasons for a number of reasons, and a great deal of it had to do with the look. While the visors are a bit too stretched across the helmet for my liking, everything from the neck down absolutely works. The asymmetrical design actually makes sense here (with one side reserved for their police badges and labels and whatnot) and their number leading to an all-black arm is so damn cool looking. The series has never made this kind of design choice before, so it really sticks out from the other seasons. It's uniform, yet flashy.  4. Power Rangers Time Force Time Force was another favorite of mine. Combining the simplicity I love, with the gaudy look of the original, the Time Force suits were a great uniform for the team. I'm not sure how any of the suit actors actually saw thing out of the colored visors, but I didn't care. These suits are great and the visors (meant to resemble clock hands) are an inspired choice. The only thing I never really liked was the Quantum Ranger's closely resembling Red, but it made sense story wise (a company developed their own Ranger tech based on Time Force). I think limited the white to the should up is what makes it work overall. It was fluid to see in action.  3. Power Rangers Samurai It's a shame such a great suit design ended on such a trash season. The unique samurai look (as the black straps on their chests resemble robes) is fantastic from head to toe. White is only used as a highlighter, the black bottoms makes a lot of sense as the fighting style is top heavy (there weren't kicks this season so subduing their color was smart), and the kanji visors are inspired. Even looking great during the morphing sequence as the kanji laid on their faces. Since I'm splitting hairs this high up on the list, the only reason it's in the third spot is because the Red Ranger looks like a bug.  2. Power Rangers In Space As the final season of the Zordon-era, In Space had a lot going for it. A space opera with layered villains, evil rangers, and fantastic suits.  Although the Japanese original had nothing to do with space, it helped that the suits all look like space suits. Stripping down the excess, the helmets are absolutely perfect (even adding in a tech holographic during the morphing sequence). There's personality in how different these looked from what came before, and still have yet to be matched sense. It truly signified how different of a story this season was telling. The only thing keeping these out of the top spot are the colored squares across their chests. It's an acquired taste.  1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Like it could be anything else. The suits are one distinct reason the Power Rangers branded visuals have managed to stick around in pop culture for so long. Although the diamonds make them look like clowns, these suits set the tone for everything else to come. These suits help set the mythos of the series (colored spandex, crazy helmet design, a uniform yet differing look) and they still sort-of look good after all of these years. Not great. but good. That's not something you can say about the rest of the suits on this list. 
Power Rangers Month photo
Power stylin'

As I've learned watching through 831 episodes of Power Rangers for two thirds of my life, a Ranger is only as good as their suit. A suit design can make or break a series through first impressions, and bad designs have indeed turned fans away from some seasons of the show in the past. 

I don't know much about fashion, or have any finalized way of judging these suits so you'll probably read a lot of the same complaints, but with my Power Rangers expertise I've been able to parse out which ones were the coolest and which were the least powerful. 

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The first teaser trailer for Pixar's Coco is all about music, magic, and dead people

Mar 15 // Hubert Vigilla
As our own Nick Valdez put it, "Oh cool. Pixar made Book of Life 2." Here's an official synopsis: Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”). Coco comes to theaters on November 22nd. [via Disney/Pixar on YouTube]
Pixar's Coco trailer photo
Seriously, that's a cool looking guitar

Pixar's Coco was one of our most anticipated movies of 2017. Disney and Pixar released the first teaser trailer for the film today, and it looks like a magical blend of music, mariachis, Dia de Muertos, and ghosts. This is the best kind of blend. Honest.

Plus, check out that guitar. It is freakin' cool looking.

Watch the teaser trailer for Coco below.

[embed]221377:43462:0[/embed]

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Warner Bros. wants to reboot and relaunch The Matrix

Mar 14 // Hubert Vigilla
The film might not need to be a full series reboot. As revealed by The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded, there have been multiple iterations of the reality-simulating program of the Matrix, and the one Neo was experiencing was just the latest version in the series. Perhaps this reboot could be loosely tied to the previous film's continuity, sort of like a newer version of the iPhone or Windows. As long as it's not Vista or Windows 10... Is a Matrix reboot something you'd be interested in? Do you know kung fu? Let us know in the comments. [via THR]
The Matrix: Rebooted photo
The Matrix: Rebooted (Whoa...)

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. wants to reboot The Matrix. Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand, story credits on X2 and The Avengers) is in talks to write the reboot treatment. Warner Bros. reportedly wants to model the new Matrix franchise after Disney/Lucasfilm's approach to Star Wars. This is a much better idea than modeling the new Matrix franchise after the company's own fledgling DC Extended Universe.

The landmark 1999 sci-fi action film from the Wachowskis is a distillation of what everyone thought was cool and edgy in the 1990s. It was followed by two sequels in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The less said about Revolutions, the better.

This proposed reboot is in very early stages. The Wachowskis are not currently involved, and it is unclear what their contractual agreements are regarding participation or blessing of this project. It's also unclear if the original cast--Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving--will return in any capacity. There is speculation that Warner Bros. would like Michael B. Jordan to be part of the Matrix reboot, but as THR notes, that's getting ahead of themselves.

[embed]221374:43461:0[/embed]

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Gareth Edwards opens up about Darth Vader and changes to the Rogue One ending

Mar 14 // Hubert Vigilla
In an interview with /Film, Edwards revealed the original rebel transmission plans, and the need to tighten up the finale on the planet of Scarif. They had more running at one point. I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower. In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there. That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression. Still no idea about the TIE fighter shot from the trailer, but it looks good, don't it? Maybe it was to help our heroes get down on the ground a bit faster to make their suicide dash. Of course, there's also the film's conclusion featuring Darth Vader going nuts on rebel mooks. It brings Rogue One right up to A New Hope, but apparently that scene wasn't part of the original plan either. Over at Fandango, Edwards talked about how the big Vader moment--which he refers to as "The Walk of Death"--came about. [Vader] arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then Jabez was like, 'I think we need to get Darth on that ship,' and I thought, yeah, that's a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there's no way they're going to let us do it. It's a big number and we had, what, like 3 or 4 months before release. Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f*ck it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two we were at Pinewood shooting that scene. According to Fandango, Edwards collaborated with the stunt performers to create the various moments of darkside badassery on display. "They came up with a whole shopping list of ideas," Edwards told Fandango. "70% we used, and maybe 30% felt a little too extreme. They were things you hadn't seen him do before, and I wanted to stick to what Darth does in the original trilogy." I assume more will be revealed in the coming weeks, and I'm particularly interested in just how much was there from the start and how much was added or altered later. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 4th. [via /Film, Fandango]
Rogue One ending changes photo
The squad goals changed

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a strong entry in the Star Wars saga. It perfectly captured the feeling of playing Star Wars as a kid, and it all hung together well even with some major reshoots and restructuring. Many credit the film's veteran co-writer Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, the Bourne films) with guiding the film through the reshoots and post to what we have today.

Director Gareth Edwards has been slowly revealing more of the changes made to Rogue One during editing and post-production. While we still don't know just how much Gilroy did, we have some new details about changes to Rogue One below.

Keep in mind that there are MAJOR SPOILERS for Rogue One after the cut.

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