Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

It’s a shame we had to wait 25 years for the Queen Biopic Bohemian Rhapsody   Leave a comment

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…The main reason being the band’s lead vocalist Freddie Mercury is Bisexual. The biopic follows the rise of Queen, their falling out and reunion in time to perform at Live Aid in 1985 does not shy away from “The Controversy”. I had heard rumors there was some difficulty casting the role of Freddie Mercury specifically because of that. Rami Malek, who landed the role did the job well. Mercury’s sexuality had been questioned before and during his time apart from the band and the movie doesn’t shy away from it. There are a few moments in the movie some may find uncomfortable to see or have their kids see (The movie is rated PG-13). I won’t say what they are since those moments should not be focused on.

The real focus should be the movie’s namesake song:

 

Originally released in 1975 on the Album A Night at the Opera, the nearly 6 minute track bombed HARD though the band vehemently defended it and stood by it as their greatest song ever. It wasn’t until its appearance in a certain movie 17 years later the genre-crossing song finally got the long overdue respect it deserved.

…What movie? This one:

 

 

The story goes Mike Myers, who was a huge Queen fan insisted on Bohemian Rhapsody over I’m in Love with my Car, which is on the same Album and was considered a better fit for the sequence. Myers was so insistent on Bohemian Rhapsody he threatened to scrap the entire movie if it was not used. He not only starred in the movie but was also the Executive Producer so…yeah. It’s said Freddie Mercury saw the above scene before he died of AIDS-related Pnemonia in 1992, liked it and gave his blessing for the song to be used in Wayne’s World.

…Bohemian Rhapsody dethroned the stanglehold Michael Jackson had on the top charts for almost 10 years running. This despite the song having been originally released back in 1975.

Anywho, the movie ends with the 1985 Live Aid concert. Billions were raised to help with the severe famines in Africa. Michael Jackson’s iconic single We Are the World (featuring a who’s who of legendary artists including Stevie Wonder and Kenny Rogers) was made around the same time as the concert and if you ask me, there should be one every 5 to 10 years. Freddie Mercury, who knew his time was short pushed for Queen to be included in the concert. He passed away 7 years later in 1992. The surviving members of Queen started an AIDS research group in his honor.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share this awesome cover from 6 years ago:

 

 

The video went viral at the time but as you can see, it’s a drunk guy singing Bohemian Rhapsody from the back of a police car.

…Then there is this:

 

 

…I know there were people in that crowd who were at Live Aid in 1985. The story goes, Green Day planned to do an instrumental and ran the pre-recorded track first when the crowd started singing. They were so moved, they fired up the band and recorded over the pre-recording.

Queen’s impact crosses generations. Every time the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Briuns won a title I would fire up The Anthem:

You know the song but might not have known where it came from ^_^

On that note:

…You see where I’m going now? Queen is Timeless.

As a bonus, here is their performance from Live Aid 1985 in full:

From the Video’s Description:

00:36 – Bohemian Rhapsody
02:42 – Radio Ga Ga
06:53 – Ay Oh!
07:34 – Hammer To Fall
12:08 – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
16:03 – We Will Rock You
17:18 – We Are The Champions
21:12 – Is This The World We Created…?

I bolded the ones that made the cut in the movie, in order. They had to cut the other 3 for time presumably. The home release will undoubtedly have the full set plus the original concert as bonus content.

 

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Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) masterfully tells several stories at once   Leave a comment

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The Black Panther (Played by Chadwick Bosewin) was first introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) during the events of Captain America: Civil War. Then crown prince T’Challa accompanied his father the late King T’Chaka on a diplomatic trip, who was killed when the building they were in was bombed. T’Challa sided with Team Iron Man because The Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes was implicated as his father’s killer. In the aftermath of the fight between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America, T’Challa arranged for both Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes to be hidden in Wakanda, the latter man crygenically frozen until the mind control he was under could be safely removed.

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Unlike Thor, The Black Panther is not based on a specific mythological being. This gave the director–who also happens to be African American–a TON of freedom to bring Wakanda and its Superhero King to the big screen for the first time. For those who are unfamiliar with the character, the Black Panther is not only a Superhero but is also an actual King of a sovereign nation. T’Challa is not only the Black Panther but is also the King of Wakanda. Above is the main cast of the film and as you can see, all but two of them are Black American or African. I’ll pause for a moment there and say this: Only in the U.S. is the term “African American” used to describe people of African descent who were born and raised in the U.S. Africans refer to them as Black Americans for reference. They only apply the term “African American” if an African immigrates to the U.S.

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…Getting back to Wakanda. Although it projects itself as a third-world country,  in truth it is the most technologically advanced nation on earth. This is because Wakanda controls 90% of the world’s supply of Vibranium, a rare mineral that is also the hardest in the universe. Concerned they could be targeted by other nations, Wakanda elected to hide in plain sight. They present themselves as a third world country while using cloaking technology to hide their vast technology from the world. They rarely allow outsiders entry into their boarders and the rest of the world is none the wiser. At the same time, Wakanda has spies and operatives in every other country on the planet to keep tabs on the rest of the world.

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By the time of the events of the movie, the newly crowed King T’Challa considers Wakanda’s centuries-old isolationist policy. On the one hand, keeping Vibranium from getting into the hands of those who would misuse it is priority #1. On the other hand, Wakanda’s vast resources could be used to help those in need outside their boarders. T’Challa is forced to deal with the matter head-on with the arrival of his cousin Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan), whose father was killed by T’Chaka 34 years earlier.

Having grown up in the U.S., Killmonger and his father had a viewpoint and a worldview T’Challa and T’Chaka didn’t have. Clearly much was cut for time in the theatrical version but it would be fair to say Killmonger represented the modern Black American: A people whose ancestors were taken from their homelands (Slave Trade), enslaved (American Slavery), Segregated (Jim Crow), Marginalized (Mass Incarceration) and Suppressed (The Present). Too much didn’t need to be said for most who paid attention to understand who and what Killmonger portrayed. The restorative justice he sought wasn’t for himself but for the over 2 billion people of African descent worldwide who as a people had been exploited and victimized for centuries while Wakanda did nothing. That brings to mind this old saying: Evil prevails when good people do nothing.

Even though Killmonger was T’Challa’s main nemesis, you can’t help but feel for him on so many levels. Like many African American youth of the 80s and 90s, he lost his father at a young age. He grew up right when Clinton’s Mass Incarceration Policy would see Blacks imprisoned at a disproportionately higher rate than whites who committed the same or worse crimes. He would see attempts by black community activists undermined and outplayed by the establishment and others. He would see America’s first Black American president deadlocked by a Congress that would rather see him fail than do what they were elected to do. Let’s not also forget it’s stated he fought in the middle east first as a soldier and then around the world as a mercenary. He’s seen more than most so…yeah.

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Killmonger’s story was the deciding factor in T’Challa’s decision to open Wakanda’s boarders to the world for the first time in its history. As he said, one can’t help but wonder how Killmonger would have turned out if T’Chaka had taken him with him back to Wakanda. The sins of the father had been passed on to the son. Killmonger rejected the Wakandan way of life so thoroughly, he hid his face from T’Challa during their first encounter with a mask. He identifies with the masses worldwide who live in an oppressed society. A world T’Challa and Wakanda have never known.

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Moving on, T’Challa being surrounded by and supported by several strong, independent black women in positions of power sends a powerful message not just for black youth but women and girls in general. We live in a time where “Old Values” and “Traditions” feel under threat by the modern Women’s Revolution and the #MeToo Movement. Ideologies and beliefs that see women and girls as good for nothing but sex, having kids and minding the home and that’s how things should always be. They view displays of equality between the sexes as nothing more than “Make Believe” and calls for Women’s Rights worldwide “A good joke”.

…My point is the world is changing. It is all the more important that how things should be is represented in movies and tv. Regardless of one’s race or gender, everyone should decide on their own to be who and what they want to be. Not who or what others think or want them to be. Unlike most who have seen this movie regardless of weather they like it or not, that’s my thought on the matter. You will have those who will just see The Black Panther as nothing more than “The Black Superhero”. No one calls Captain America the White Superhero, no one calls Wonder Woman the female superhero and no one calls Daredevil the Blind Superhero. Captain America is a Superhero who happens to be white. Wonder Woman is a Superhero who happens to be a woman. Daredevil is a Superhero who happens to be blind.

Never mind the overt and subtle politics people see in the Black Panther. The fact of the matter is the premise is no less “offensive” than Superman, Batman, The Hulk/Bruce Banner or Thor. Yet is bothers some people none the less. The question I would ask those persons is why?

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Anyone who knows their history probably noticed this striking similarity and yes, it was intentional. On the left is the founder of The Black Panther Part, Huey P. Newton. He sits with a rifle in his right hand and a spear in his left. The tagline “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is in referenced to this song:

Gill Scott-Heron was an musician and poet who wrote and performed a variety of songs that scared that crap out of The Establishment in the 60s and 70s. Why? Because he spoke truth and encouraged people to think for themselves and be self-empowered. The song was used by The Black Panther Party to promote their movement–not that he minded–and that’s how it became both famous and imfamous.

He explains why he did this song in an interview 30 years later:

…He died in 2011 in case you’re wondering.

Getting back to this movie, the very idea of Black Power terrifies the world. I’ll just put it like that. I don’t mean military power but REAL power. The power to realize your full potential. Equality. Respect. Prosperity. There is a reason The Slave Trade is still referred to as America’s Original Sin and it’s because Reparations haven’t happened. Despite the UN again saying the U.S. owes Black Americans Reparations for the Slave Trade, Jim Crow and everything that’s happened since. Still, nothing.  As the saying goes, the longest rope has an end.

Those who dare to watch this movie may learn something from it. There are no hidden messages calling for Black Americans to arm themselves and kill white people. That’s just some paraoid foolishness White Supremacists are telling people. There are a ton of both suble and obvious references to what’s going on in the world today in the movie. This much is true.

…It’s also true that a Black Panther 2 WILL happen and has been confirmed.

Review: Power Rangers (Movie, 2017)   Leave a comment

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Yours truly got the see the movie the morning of its launch March 24, 2017.

To get the 3 biggest things out the way now:

  1.  Amy Jo Johnson (Played the original Pink Ranger) and Jason David Frank (Played the original Green and White Rangers) make a cameo appearance together after the Power Rangers beat Rita Repulsa and Goldar. They’re standing with the crowd of people gathered to take pictures of the Megazord.
  2. Speaking of cameos: Alpha 5 says the iconic “Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!” a few times in the movie, which was the catchphrase of the original Alpha 5 in the 1992 TV series. Rita also says “Make my monster grow!” and laughs maniacally as Goldar makes his appearance.
  3. The post-credit teaser confirms there WILL be a second movie and Tommy Oliver will presumably play a key role then.

 

Speaking of the Green Ranger, remember this?

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In the movie, it’s comfirmed Rita Repulsa was the first Green Ranger. 65 Million Years Ago, Zordon was the first Red Ranger. He and the other Rangers battled Rita Repulsa, who betrayed the team and killed them all. Everyone including Zordon would fall to Rita, who betrayed the other Rangers because of her lust for more power. Using the last of his strength, Zordon seals away the Power Coins just as a blast of power rips Rita’s body apart and hurls her into the sea. The place where this epic battle took place would later be known as Angel Grove (of course).

A huge nod to the TV series only those familiar with the original franchise would have caught: Rita sought the Zeo Crystals (!), which had been hidden somewhere in present-day Angel Grove. At the end of the Mighty Morphin’ storyline, The Rangers were sent back in time to retreive the five Zeo Crystals. They would harness their power to become the Zeo Rangers. In the reimagined storyline, the Zeo Crystals are connected to the Morphing Grid. Whosoever possesses them will gain unimaginable power.

That aside, Rita says something really interesting just before she’s literally slapped into space by the Megazord: “Others will come after me.” While the movie’s plot was a closely guarded secret (props to Saban and Lionsgate for that), there were rumors Lord Zedd might make a cameo appearance. On that note, apparently the plan is to make the Power Rangers movieverse a 6-movie franchise. The right tone was set in this one if you ask me.

Anywho it’s probably fair to say Tommy Oliver will be a prominent character in the second movie (which Lionsgate has apparently already greenlit to happen) which obviously means Elizabeth Banks will reprise the role of Rita Repulsa. Speaking of, she did one hell of a job. All questions about weather or not Banks could pull it off were answered by her performance. She made Rita a twisted character and gave you plenty of reasons why she’s one bad…well, you know.  Remember the clip released last year of her throwing Trini around her bedroom? One of her lines during that encounter was “I’ve killed Rangers before.” This isn’t just in referral to the opening minutes of the movie. I won’t spoil what happens about 15 minutes later but someone kinda kicks the bucket.

…At the end of the day, if you are a fan of the original series I think you can rest easy. Don’t go by objective reviews. See the movie and judge it for yourself. On that note, I give the film a 9/10. Only reason it didn’t get a 10 is because there was no remixed Power Rangers theme music.

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Teaser Trailer for Power Rangers 2017 released   Leave a comment

 

…You are now free to breathe again.

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Saban is taking an interesting route with this movie, which is rebooting and reimagining the series from the very beginning. It’s presumed there will be a TV series on Nickelodeon but that has not been set in stone. No question Nick wants to see how the movie does before they commit to a series. The only people Saban might have trouble getting for the TV series are Elizabeth Banks, who plays Rita Repulsa and Byran Cranston, who plays Zordon.

The thing I like about the teaser trailer is just enough is shown to generate interest and give you an idea but not too much in terms of the flow of the story or plot. It feels familliar to those familliar with the original 1993 series but is accessible to those who are not. Saban clearly has a mature audience in mind with the reboot, which is very encouraging. With the movie, you’re able to slow down the pacing just enough to give each of the Rangers a decient amount of plot development.

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Jason, Zack, Billy, Trina and Kimberly of the new Power Rangers movie.

One thing I definitely want to comment on now is the racial makeup of the Black (Asian), Blue (Black) and Yellow (Latino/Hispanic) Rangers. Like the original 1993 series, this was done on purpose. I’m pretty disgusted by those who are pissed the race/color assignments from the original series for two of the Rangers–Black Ranger was Black and Yellow Ranger was Asian–is different this time. Saban got away with perpetuating stereotypes 20 years ago but decided not to rehash things in that way for the reboot.

Saban should be applauded for taking the high road, especially given the Social Justice issues in America right now. That aside, everything else including character names is the same. Trini’s name is Trina since the actress is Latino/Hispanic. Billy is still the group’s genius and as shown in the trailer, he rigs an explosive to the cliff and blows out the Power Coins. Jason has some issues with the law enforcement and moves to Angel Grove with his father (who he seems to have issues with) to get his life back on track. Kimberly has social issues at school and Zack is a bit of loner.

I like how real the Rangers are being portrayed. They each have their own issues that they’re dealing with. Stuff that can related to. Then they have to deal with an enemy from another world that has no problem exploiting their human weaknesses. Based on her comment in the teaser, this is clearly not Rita’s first time fighting Rangers. I’d be very interested in learning more about Rita’s backstory. An easy to miss easter egg in the above screenshot: The Green Ranger’s Power Coin. The popular theory is that battle suit is actually Rita channeling the power of the Green Ranger.

Of course, you can’t talk about Power Rangers and NOT talk about Zords. Pictures of the new Zords have been released but zoomed in. Looks like we’ll have to hope they’re featured in the next trailer. It is interesting to note the Rangers gain superhuman abilities as demonstrated in the trailer. The guys are ripped (Jason basically slaps off a chunk of a sink), they can breathe underwater and they can jump Super Mario style over ravines. Zords aside, it’s interesting to note neither Zordon or Alpha are shown in the teaser trailer. Likely intentional but we can probably expect one or both of them to appear in the next trailer.

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…Now that we’ve looked in the future, let’s go over the original Power Rangers cast for the sake of nostalgia ^_^

  • Walter Jones: Played Zack, the original Black Ranger. Storywise, Zack left with Jason and Trini to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Walter, Austin and Thuy were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. In a 2011 interview, Walter revealed his only regret leaving when he did was missing out on being in the movie. The cast apparently found out 20th Century Fox wanted a Power Rangers movie in the fall of 1994 after the contracts were re-negotiated.
  • Amy Jo Johnson: Played Kimberly, the original Pink Ranger. Storywise, Kimberly left after being presented with the opportunity to train with a famous Gymnastics instructor. In truth Amy left because her contract was expiring and she opted out renewing for another season. At the time she was cast, Amy was actually the most experenced cast member with prior acting experience (1991’s Susie Q). She makes a cameo appearance alongside Austin in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1998).
  • David Yost: Played Billy, the original Blue Ranger. Storywise, Billy was pulled out of the role of a Power Ranger in the buildup for Power Rangers Zeo because he wasn’t compatible with any of the Zeo crystals. He falls in love with the Pink Alien Ranger and decides to stay on their homeworld, Aquatar. In truth, David was retired as a Ranger but kept in a supporting role on the show for the final year of his contract. David, who is Gay and came out to his fellow castmates pitched having this incorporated into his character to teach tolerence. Saban reportedly turned down the idea in fear of backlash from the network and angry parents.
  • Thuy Trang: Played Trini, the original Yellow Ranger. Storywise, Trini left with Jason and Zack to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Thuy, Austin and Walter were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. Thuy died in a car accident in 1999. According to a rumor, Thuy was on the short list of people Saban was looking at to have an on-screen mentorship role for the new Ranger team in the second half of Turbo.
  • Austin St. John: Played Jason, the original Red Ranger. Storywise, Jason left with Zack and Trini to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Austin, Walter and Thuy were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. Austin later returned three times. First, he came back as the Gold Ranger in the second half of Power Rangers Zeo. He also makes a cameo appearance alongside Amy in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1998). He returned one more time in the Power Rangers Wildforce Episode Forever Red (considered by most PR fans to be the greatest Episode Ever) where he is the original Red Ranger once again. After his run on Zeo, Austin became a firefighter in his hometown where he works to this day.
  • Jason David Frank: Played Tommy, the original Green and White Rangers. The most famous and most decorated actor in Power Rangers history, you can’t talk Power Rangers and NOT mention JDR. Jason had the longest run of the original team and even stayed involved behind the scenes after his contract expired a shortly after Power Rangers Turbo began. He played the Red Ranger in both Zeo and Turbo and came back as the White Ranger once more almost 10 years later in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Jason also appeared in the Wild Force Special Forever Red as the Red Zeo Ranger and the Megaforce Special as the original White Ranger. JDR left for good after his run on Dino Thunder to pursue a career in MMA full-time.

…There you have it.

The only former Power Ranger more famous than JDR is Johnny Bosch Young, who became a voice actor after his run on the show ended. How they handled the handover in Turbo was pretty classy: They had the veterans recruit their replacements more or less. This showed with the mentorship aspect before the transfer of power happened. The story goes, JDR and Bosch basically told Saban they wanted Austin to play the Gold Ranger in Zeo and threatened to walk out if they didn’t make it happen.

That’s a rumor I heard in 2004. Another rumor was Amy wanted to come back for the Turbo movie so she was brought in with Austin in cameo roles. Fans of Zeo were likely familiar with Austin but may not have remembered Amy. They didn’t hype up the fact two former rangers would be making an appearance and it worked.

Most of the former Rangers do attend conventions throughout the year though it’s much harder for Austin due to work (I believe he’s with the Sacrememto Fire Department). Amy announced last year at a convention she was moving on from her identity as the original Pink Ranger. Now in her early 40s, Amy recently released her first movie as a Producer and Director. David works in the industry offscreen. Everyone still keeps in touch and they often run into each other at conventions.

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