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Friday, December 4, 2015

This Week In Review #TheWiz #BatmanvSuperman #NewYearCountdown

This Week In Review #TheWiz #BatmanvSuperman #NewYearCountdown

All pictures of Batman V. Superman and The Flash/Arrow are courtesy of DC/Warner Bros.


Wow! A lot happened this week that I didn't blog about. Sorry, I was too fatigued from last month's posting marathon where I put out 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo (#NaBloPoMo). Not to mention I was writing my future #1 bestselling novel TMOTR (#TMOTR) for #NaNoWriMo, which took up far more time than I anticipated. After 118,000 words, 68 chapters, a ton of mysteries posed and solved, I finally finished that about three or four hours before the midnight deadline before December 1st. Have I edited any of it? No. I will actually move on to another project before circling back and editing that sometime in the new year. So stay tuned for more posts about it throughout all of next year.

Back to this week. Some of the stuff I already covered at the beginning of the week with Kobe announcing his retirement and, uh... well that's about it. So what happened this week in entertainment? Probably the biggest thing to happen this week came from the realm of comic book movies.

What The Heck Are Those Flying Things?

Monday night introduced a minute long clip from the upcoming Batman v. Superman film (#BatmanvSuperman) due out in March 2016. If you haven't seen it, you either have been living under a rock (high Patrick from Spongebob; OK, lame reference. Sorry) or you really don't care, in which case you won't care about what I have to say about it anyway. But just in case you are a little curious, I'll link to it as well as explain my take on it.

First off, for some reason a lot of journalists and bloggers alike felt the scene came from a dream sequence. In it, we see Batman hanging from a chain with others hanging on either side of him. Suddenly, Superman lands at the end of the hallway in a flourish of dust. Soldiers kneel as Kal-el swags his way down the hall toward Batman. Mean, nearly snarling and a puggish face, he reaches to grab the mask and cowl off Batman's head to reveal the man beneath.

Superman Being Mad

As good as some of the theories on why this is a dream sequence are, I can't bring myself to the same conclusion based on the other footage we saw. For one, we've already seen the beginning of this same scene. We've also seen Batman in the same garb in his costume cloaked in a khaki-colored trench coat in what looks like a desert landscape/base of some sort. Adding all the glimpses of what we've seen of this scenario, it looks like it may take up three to four minutes of runtime in the film, which I can't see being wasted on one dream sequence with a huge battle scene in it, even if it is to show the nightmarish predictions of what Bruce thinks might/could happen when encountering an alien being.

Superman Being Contemplative
To move on, two nights later Warner Bros. released an official full third trailer for BvS on Jimmy Kimmel Live which I actually consider very strange. Why? Because Kimmel works on ABC, owned by Disney who also owns Marvel and just the week before released the Captain America: Civil War trailer. I understand DC/WB don't have one specific station they are highly affiliated with like Marvel, however, it seemed a little strange for them to go to the competition's stomping grounds to ask for help with the release. It seemed like it might have served better for one of their other shows like Supergirl or even going to Colbert on CBS where Supergirl has a home or to Fallon, but I digress.

The trailer came and I was so... whelmed. That's right, I definitely wasn't overwhelmed and I don't want to say I was underwhelmed because it did have some good elements to it, however, I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. In comparison to the Civil War trailer Thanksgiving week, it didn't wow me. Maybe that's because of the music which I felt didn't properly build to anything like the trailer music in Civil War did. I know that seems overly critical, but I only point to that because of the previous WB trailers. For Man of Steel they started to use bits of Hans Zimmer's score in the trailers. If that music is part of the film, I don't know if we're getting the best of Zimmer and Junkie XL (side note: I'm a huge original film soundtrack fan ranging from The Notebook to The Dark Knight Rises so I look forward to good memorable music). The biggest revelation came in the form of Doomsday at the end of the trailer.

Doomsday?

As rumored months ago, Lex uses the dead body of Zod to create the ever-evolving monster for the crew to battle; in fact, it is shown that Wonder Woman steps in the way of Batman and helps block a laser beam from the creation. We also saw a little more of Luthor's personality which still doesn't seem like Luthor but we'll see how it fits into the tone of the film.

Batman's Gun Is Almost As Big As Wonder Woman's Sword

As far as Batman and Superman versus-ing each other? We got a lot of that. They were jumping on each other, shooting at each other (oh yeah, Batman's got guns galore in this thing with guns on his batwing, his batmobile and a big gun at the end; don't worry, I'm sure they shoot something other than bullets) and snarling at each other like crazy. Actually, the biggest controversy has come from the final frame in which Batman holds a gun like a Russian muscle guy mobster.

Superman Being... Mad Again?
And for the way Affleck and Snyder are approaching the character, he looks quite subdued even more than the other movies. I say that because he looks almost as if he's sneaking into the big gala event like a new but humble star not used to the fame. For once, I'd like to see a more confident playboy Bruce who is a strong silent which I don't think we've gotten even in the Nolan movies I enjoyed. The tension between he and Clark is palpable. I'm also fearful we the fans might get yet another dour, mopey Superman as was many fans' chief problem with Man of Steel. In all the trailers I've seen so far, I can't remember him smiling once. He's either pissed, offended or contemplative. Where dat hope at?

All pictures of the Wiz courtesy of NBC 

Speaking of hope, NBC's rendition of The Wiz Live came on this Thursday. Sigh! What can I say about this musical. I'll start by saying that I thought it was far better than the Peter Pan Live that they put out last year, however I thought it tied in quality with the Sound of Music they threw at us the first year they did this about two years back. I'll also say that I thought the casting was quite good, especially Shanice Williams as Dorothy, Ne-yo as the Tin-man and David Alan Grier as the Lion.

Picture courtesy of Universal and Motown Productions

With that said, I'm highly disappointed. Listen, I understand that The Wiz is just the Black (excuse me, African-American) version of The Wizard of Oz but was supposed to be an updated "hipper" version. The once Broadway musical did well for quite a while but people tired of it and it went the way of Cats. Most people, however, remember the film version of the same name from the late 1970s starring such big Black stars of the day as Diana Ross as Dorothy (way too damn old) and Michael Jackson as the scarecrow (best part of the movie) and I believe it was produced by Barry Gordy if I'm not mistaken, though I'd have to fact-check that. However, the movie was probably most memorable for its creative spin on the old classic story.
With Judy Garland and the gang having already done a phenomenal job on the original Wizard of Oz, especially with the walk-through-the-forest and the fantasy realm and the middle-America farmland, The Wiz went a decidedly different direction and placed it smack in the middle of the urban landscape of Brooklyn, NY--where Brooklyn at! Where Brooklyn at! This brought a fresher, more relatable quality to the characters for many people of color and made the use of the slang relevant.


Also, I would have preferred the wicked witch be uglier and the fact that they thought Queen Latifah's Oz was a man when she clearly looked like a woman the whole time really kinda ticked me off. They did that just to fit in a feminism joke? Really?

 Even I Don't Get How They Can't Figure Out I'm A Woman

Again, I know that these are usually meant for the much younger kids and I'm sure my cousins' children may have loved it. I'm also aware that despite how ludicrously bad these live performances sometimes are (Peter Pan was just... gahh!) people still enjoy tuning in for them as The Wiz welcomed 11 million live viewers to ease on down the road with them. But in some ways I felt awkward watching this. You know dese fools had the nerve enough to use the non-word conversate AND the all-too-familiar drug addict phrase "see, what had happened was"--the same phrase addicts use when you let them in your house and suddenly your TV and other electronic equipment goes missing. I know it was supposed to be a comedy but a family comedy.

Tied Carrie Underwood on the left; Wayyy better than Peter Pan on the right!

You know what, I'm being too nit-picky about this. I'll say that it was good for a few laughs, though it finally had me questioning why a good witch would make a young girl wear some magical slippers that everyone in the kingdom knew about and would want to kill her for. Outside of my shock that they weren't Air Jordans circa 1998, did this woman really show no concern about giving this child something so dangerous? In all my years of watching The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz, I never thought of that until now. The whole thing had me yearning for a more urban take on it. If you were going to throw in slang and attitude, go all the way and put her into a strange, urban, yellow bridge road setting that made the movie unique. Otherwise, you could have just down the white version but with Black people because that is precisely how this played to me.
In the end, I do want to still support the Black community and give props for them attempting to do The Wiz, but classic this is not.

Left to Right: Hawkgirl, Picture of Vandal Savage, The Flash, Arrow
Another thing I wanted to talk about had, again, to do with comics. The CW's The Flash/Arrow crossover proved a huge success, albeit more for Arrow than the Flash. With them setting up their newest incarnation/addition to the DC CW-universe, they introduced the characters of Hawkman and Hawkgirl as well as the main villain Vandal Savage who will be bad guy numero uno on DC's Legends of Tomorrow. In the crossover, they included not only the near murder of the new Wells by that cop woman that Barry is dating, but it also included a look at Arrow's long-lost son he never had the chance to know about. He's chosen to keep the child a secret from Felicity while Jay Garrick--earth two's Flash--saved Harrison from dying by removing the bullet. And Flash traveled back in time again to warn his friends of Savage's impending leveling of the city.

Cisco between Hawkgril and Hawkman on the right.
The takeaway was concerning the set-up for the new series, however. We now know the back story of the main villain and two of the heroes to join the already established heroes and villains from Arrow and Flash. What we don't know is how Savage comes back to life after being zapped by the heroes at the end.
There was some other stuff floating about in the ether that was none comic book related but I completely forgot about what it was. Now that I'm going to be going on a brief vacation, the posts will be more sporadic as I work on editing some of my stuff and the holidays take over. Also, I'll probably release a slate sheet of the works I plan to release next year. For now, look for a milk chocolate recipe coming in the next week or so as I unleash a few good holiday recipes for you.

What did you think? Did you obsess over any big entertainment news this week? If so, what was it? Did you watch The Wiz Live!? What did you think? What about Batman v Superman? What are your theories about that Batman hanging scene, those flying monster things in the desert fight scene and Batman's gun? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

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Until next time, "won't you, ease on down, ease on down the rooo-ad!"

P.S. Did anyone else notice some the notes they changed in the songs? I especially noticed on the Scarecrow's "You Can't Win." I did like the new song they added in when they were going to give up on Dorothy. I think Ne-yo said he wrote it. Anyway, I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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