[A Review] How to Recover After Avengers: Endgame

The following review is spoiler-free, but my comments may get you thinking about possibilities, I suppose. Read at your own risk.

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Patiently sitting through the end credits, being handed over tissues, sobbing a little more, waiting for the post-credit scene that I know is, definitely, not happening.  I wish I hadn’t seen the movie for a while longer.

Avengers: Endgame is Russo Brothers’ best work yet. A majority of the viewers would agree that we were heartbroken, but not disappointed. Marvel Studios have given us what we asked for: The end of a hero’s journey. So gracefully representing what it means to be a hero: Selfless and brave, as mythic as it can be, but also vulnerable and honest about their fears.  There is also a touch of Disney’s magic as the movie drove the overall notion, “I will die trying if it means I am serving the ones I love”.

Endgame completes the Infinity War, yet, is a distinct, special, emotionally-charged experience. In a way, it puts more sense into the rollercoaster ride of the Infinity War. The three hours are absolutely made use of, well-transitioned, and necessary to unravel the narrative.

The film does a good job of digging deeper into character development which is so different from what we are used to within the origin stories and follow-ups. Our superheroes change, they are broken, and finding their way back doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll showcase their punches and kicks, but rather it is a journey that almost fixes their brokenness, and gives us, the viewers, some relief at the same time.

There’s so much more I would like to address in terms of cinematography and representation, however, I’ll let this experience sink in a little more until I get to it. And the question of how to recover after the Endgame? –I suggest appreciating what the franchise had given us for the past 10 years and the Endgame experience as a whole. Keep in mind, the MCU has a history of great resurrection and we could only hope for one last one.

This may be my love letter (back) to Lee, Feige, The Russo’s, Favreau and Downey. Thank you for gracefully fixing our broken parts. I cannot see the Endgame projected onto the screens any other way.

The Streaming Wars: Disney+ to dominate all

 

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Photo credits: Techcrunch.com

 

From Snow White to Iron Man, Star Wars to the Monster’s Inc., there is something for everyone in Disney’s World. The small yet iconic Mickey Mouse has been taking over the well-established characters of the film industry for a while now. Not many of us know the end goal but let me walk you through Walt’s direction that brought back an old trick: Disney+

Prior to his great success—Walt Disney was interested in TV due to its ability to increase the visual appeal of Disney products, and this was the most-influential post-war decision in the American culture, that encompassed the consumer through “total merchandising”. Later, Disney signed an agreement with ABC. The Disneyland tv show elaborated to the economic transformation of the company. In the time span of a year, Disney attracted half of ABC’s ad bills, and ABC had to operate at loss. Disney’s contract with ABC was an opportunity to capitalize on the studio’s library of films.

Disney’s textuality outset was indifferent from the traditional approach it fragmented, propelled and guided the viewer away from the TV episodes, but guided them to a more persuasive text that encouraged further consumption.

Flash forward to 2019— Disney officially owns the following studios (entirely or more than %49 ownership) ESPN, Touchstone Pictures, Marvel, Lucasfilm, A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime. The studio ownerships, film productions, and finally… the transformed TV era plans come back with the birth of online streaming. Disney+ is ready to dominate your screens.

Disney + is set to launch on November 12, 2019. The cost will be $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a whole year. Can’t we all expect chaos in the Netflix office already? With their monthly price at a double rate, there will be competitive changes to be made. Or not? We shall see. Other streaming services owned by Disney, Hulu and ESPN Plus – will run on the same platform, will likely require separate subscriptions.

What shows are on the agenda? (Hat tip to CNN Business).

Live Action Series
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (available at launch)
The Mandalorian (available at launch)
Diary of a Female President (launching in year one)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (launching in year one)
Loki (launching in year two)
Untitled Cassian Andor Series (launching in year two)
WandaVision (launching in year two)

Animated Series & Shorts
Forky Asks a Question (available at launch)
SparkShorts (available at launch)
Lamp Life (launching in year one)
Monsters at Work (launching in year one)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (launching in year one)
Marvel’s What If…? (launching in year one)

A Bonus: The Simpsons announced their partnership with Disney+ by saluting their corporate overlords just yesterday.

New deals, new franchises, new streaming outlet… where does it all lead?
Luckily, the end goal remains the same. Walt Disney Corporations is not taking over the world (yet). But they continue to build on the plan to make the theme parks more profitable through TV… ehem, I mean streaming services!

Disney recently made $2 billion investment to its theme parks. The Secret Life of Pets is getting a theme park ride at Universal Hollywood (expected 2020), “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge” theme park is set to open in 2019, “Guardians of the Galaxy Blast In” comes in 2021.

Disney Corporate must be expecting new profits through its streaming service that will continuously drive fans to the theme parks. It worked in the ’50s, why not now? After all, don’t we all want to live a little magic?

Works Cited/Further Reading
Disneyland (1993) by Christopher Anderson

Lee’s Legacy and Feige’s Vision Hits the Box Offices: Captain Marvel

The following article was first published on Mars’ Hill Newspaper (Vol. 23, Issue 10) under the title of “Captain Marvel”.

Captain Marvel just dropped into the theatres of the earth from the Kree Empire. Mind you, she is from the 90s—so get ready for the nostalgia-packed soundtrack while you watch Brie Larson kick ass!

Since its opening night March 7th, Marvel’s newest release, Captain Marvel, has received a variety of criticism. Some say she is the embodiment of a male prototype in a desirable female body, others claim Carol is the superhero they never knew they needed more of on the silver screen, especially after the debut of Wonder Woman.

The mastermind Kevin Feige, whose vision built the Marvel Studios from ground up (thanks to Iron Man!), spent a budget of $152 million on Captain Marvel’s production and doubled the studio’s profit with a record-breaking $455 million worldwide in its first weekend. This is a grossing more than the totals of any three-day opening of a motion picture this year.

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There is a question worth answering: To what does Captain Marvel owe its success?

Unlike Stan Lee’s legacy of comic book inspired continuity, Captain Marvel welcomes newcomers with Carol’s origin story and doubles that with cues about Fury’s past as well. On top of the complexity of his character, the young Samuel L. Jackson is a delight to watch on screen (thanks to the blockbuster’s make-up artists!). Even though Fury is not the tough authority figure we are used to seeing as the leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D., he still plays a crucial role in stirring the storyline, and he is a living reminder that the actor has a huge role in creating a legendary character.

A common criticism and a generalization was that Carol Danvers, and the rest of the female superheroes, were created on the basis of “girl power” and while doing so, the character was still masculinized. Masculinization might be a way to empower female superheroes, but it is definitely not the only way. I see Marvel’s Carol Danvers as a success because as powerful as she is, she is also emotional. She is a woman who is confused about her past, where she stands in a fight, and what she believes is right. Through her journey of self-connection, she navigates her confusion about what she stands for, and she regains her faith in her own strength. She is a powerful embodiment of what women go through today. Brie Larson’s character certainly does not deserve the harsh criticism she received upon the opening weekend.

Captain Marvel is also the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s response to the demands of the public. We are more concerned about diversity than ever in an era that grounds itself on acceptance. Whatever the reason may be, be it for publicity or expanding their audience, the women in Captain Marvel are fully-clothed, colorful, and beautiful yet vulnerable. These are the stepping stones for a long-awaited perception change for Marvel’s cinematic audience, and we are excited and in it for the long haul.

 

Captain Marvel Doodle: Thanks to Sierra Ellis.

Storytelling: On the flowing stream

What does it mean to be a storyteller? My lecturers discussed this a million times over the four years of my undergrad career. I call it a ‘career’ because I have been creating stories ever since I was eight, if not even earlier. Do you mind taking a walk with me through the memory lane? Even though I look like I’d prefer being alone while I do this, I still think I need company today.

I love bedtime stories, and I would use all of my little power to stay awake through those. Luckily, my dad had a million stories to tell. Every time he started a new story, he would reassure me saying that it is a really old tale and he is not making it up, because why would he? I would get mad at him because, after two or three years of hearing a new story every night, I think I was somehow too smart for a six-year-old, and I realized that they all told me the same thing over and over again: “You can explore, but listen to your parents when they warn you, or else you’ll get in trouble”. Oh, and no love interests, mom and dad will save you, there is no prince charming here!

But my dad was a professional. “Dad you are not making this up, right?”, “No, this was absolutely real”. The little black sheepdog always wondered what happened outside the farm. One day he decides to take a long walk, jumps across the fences and explores the endless fields. It suddenly starts getting darker, he is scared, and he hears a pack of big bad wolves howling. They get closer and form a circle around him, the little sheepdog is scared. His parents come and save him, later, getting mad at him a little bit but hugging him tight still. Dad, I miss your stories. I know you didn’t make any of them up.

If you thought my dad was an okay storyteller. Let me tell you about his mom, my grandma. Whatever she tells you, you are ought to believe her. She always had something in her voice that would make you feel like she is pulling you deep into this thought bubble that is inside her two hands. She was a magician playing with her words, and a bit of a witch, I am never sure if her hands are telling the story or casting a spell.

Oddly enough, her story never changed because she only had one. Her mother was adopted, had a very tough childhood but grew older to be a loving mother to my grandma. But this loving mother died too soon. I have seen my grandma pulling out a small photo of her mother from the very last drawer full of tablecloths, that is a part of an 80 some year-old dark brown wooden cabinet. Every time she pulled out the picture, she would blame herself for forgetting what her mother’s face looked like. She says she needs the picture to remember. I bet it hurts.

You remember the stream, dear? —  In the old town, it’s by our old home. – How can you not remember? – Well, I’ll take you there when we go. Oh, dear! – It was night time, very late. Maybe after 11 or 12. We had to sail through the river, so mom put me and my sister in a small wooden boat. And she was rowing and rowing. Oh! All of a sudden! – We saw a light from deep down. Oh, it was beautiful. It was shining and so bright that it hurt our eyes. My sister was younger, you know. And mom said to put our heads down. We put our heads down, but I peeked out on the side, mom didn’t see. Oh, it was so beautiful. A woman, she had ginger hair. It was so long. Her hair was like Leipzig silk! She was shining. She swam next to our small boat. Was it ever beautiful? – No, no. She didn’t hurt us or anything.

Then, what happened? We got off the boat and went home, but it was beautiful. I never told mom that I saw it!

But you are not lying? Right? How can you see it in the old town? Like here? Is it true?Maybe, I was dreaming, I don’t know. I was young. (She would shrug off her shoulders and move on with her life at this point, after charming me with the story. It was so cruel because I would think about it all night until I finally fell asleep).

There are things I wish I could remember better lately, and my mind won’t let me. But, can’t we all tell stories? All of the stories I heard, had a bit of those people that touched the narrator. And, no, my great grandma is not made up, but loving and gentle, just like in grandma’s story.

Dogs can talk, and mermaids are real – if only you believe.

 

Photo Credits: http://kopriyet.blogspot.com/2016/05/kirmasti-koprusu.html

December 2017 on the Silver Screen

Without further adieu, let’s dig down to the productions of December.

Thor: Ragnarok

Score: 3/5

I’ll be completely honest, I walked into the theatre with very low expectations for this movie, but it surprised me. I have had the same behavior for every Marvel production since the remake of Spider Man (Homecoming), which was a huge disappointment for me by the way. I do not know what is it that keeps us coming with the Marvel movies. Although I have borderline hated the last few, and they failed to keep me engaged through the whole thing, I keep supporting these productions by simply purchasing tickets to see them (e.g. Wonder Woman, I actually felt bored by the end of it).

Thor had been in my top three for the Marvel superheroes, so I did not dare ignore Ragnarok. The storyline somewhat made me wonder why the developers could not come up with something better than an evil sister, however, the way they placed it into context was clever (Spoiler: Odin has many successes with the evil sister but decides killing is not the right way to achieve power. As a result, Odin erases the past. Crucial Scene: The ceiling breaks apart, revealing the history of these events).

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I did not necessarily follow the change in development and production of Marvel series, however, I assume some significant changes of the stories are influenced by the Disney take over of the studios. The first Thor movie was much heavier on drama, religious references, and especially romance. Referencing Thor: Ragnarok, there are no aspects of romance (Jane is completely out of the storyline nonetheless they only mention her name once), much more inclusive racial characters as implanted in every Disney production, and most importantly, humor. There is much more humor than the amount needed in an action movie. Yes, all Marvel heroes are charismatic and at times too confident or cocky, but their humorous character is not their ‘most important’ trait. Iron Man was known with his sarcasm through the movies, thank you Robert Downey Jr. Deadpool’s previous lifetime experiences simply reflect on his personality as a hero, and we are used to him being the way he is. In my opinion, simply implementing more humour into Thor or any other character all of a sudden, sheds light on their powerfulness. The viewer needs just the right amount. In my opinion, it has been overdone in the last few movies.

As a side note, the soundtrack was delightful and produced a different reality for the action scenes. It almost felt like the power to demolish the enemy came from the song, and it was much like playing the last round of a strategy video game. I have been jamming to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song after seeing the movie.

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok had a lot less emphasis on the drama aspect that may not be compelling to all audience members, and put forth the humor aspect to reach more. That does not bother me if the storyline meets my expectations of quality and I do not expect that from the latest Marvel productions. Marvel needs to do a lot more than ‘the appearance of evil sister’ to get there, however, Thor: Ragnarok kept me engaged the whole time compared to the numerous poorly constructed scenes of Spider Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman and sequal to the Avengers. Disney needs to forget about the mere goal of producing as many movies as possible in a year, and aim for better storyline production. Well, I say let’s give Disney a couple more years to familiarize themselves with the super hero world.

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Coco

Score: 5/5

Although Disney fails in the super hero world, I need to give the team their credit on how successful they have been with producing diversity in animation and cartoon. The Princess and the frog, Moana and Elena, all introduced the children of all ages about the skin colors and somewhat took a step beyond breaking the image of white superiority. In essence, this approach seems to work for Disney’s profit, however, it is fairly risky too. It might offend cultures if representation has twitches, and mostly, all are westernized. In Coco, too, the western idea of ‘being yourself’ is highly emphasized, and this may not dare be presented in a collectivist culture like those who are Mexicans.

I loved everything about this production, so first of all, hats off! The main theme was being yourself with sprinkles of appreciating roots, importance of family, and remembering loved ones as the theme song “Remember Me” suggests. The storyline is excellent, and the plot twist at the end shakes the audience all over. I bet all the children in the theatre were as compelled as I was, and I was hysterically sobbing before I left the theatre. Coco gives the audience the hope that we all will meet those whom we lost one day, it reminds us the idea of ‘the waiting room’ that many religions adopt, and the waiting room provides space to watch the loved ones from above as dead relatives wait to get to heaven or hell.

As the story highlights, it is very easy to resonate with ‘the day of the dead’ celebrated yearly. It is based on the same idea that if one’s on earth forget the one’s whom are gone, they fade away. Prayers or the day of the dead are important to implement in our lives, reminiscing memories are equivalent to keeping these people alive in memories. Finally, although it may not always be true, family are bound to support each other.

There was so much to love about Coco. Extraordinary visuals. I will say this that Coco is by far the best visual work that Pixar produced. As I watched Miguel enter the world of the dead, I was astonished by millions of lights that are on literally every single inch-pixel of the screen. Amazing. You can just go and watch this movie for its visuals, but the story line is a bonus! Sit back and enjoy as the beautiful Mexican music sings to your heart.

 

Daddy’s Home 2

Score: 1/5

Will Ferrell in a Christmas movie sounds like a good idea at first but all of us that went to the movie, we, have all been fooled. Newer Christmas movies barely make it in the film market and that is because they focus on the slapstick comedy of it where we watch the main person get his ass kicked or hurt himself. There are some slapstick comedies with clever jokes however, here’s the truth: Dear Mr. Ferrell, Elf was your climax, why not end it there gracefully?

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I do understand this movie is a sequal to the story of two-daddies trying to balance the family relationship out. Four-daddies with no stories, was pushing it. Although I appreciated Mel Gibson’s appearance as a tough-guy who dominates the screen through the movie, it is a mystery why he would even consider playing in Daddy’s Home 2.

I am not sorry for being harsh; This movie deserves way worse. It was a waste of my time, and there are far better comedies on Netflix to get a good laugh.

The Greatest Showman

Score 4/5

Compelling. Musical production on the silver screen is hard work. It is much harder than a production on stage. Stage allows the artists to establish extraordinary connection. The trembling in the artists voice, every breath they take, the dream of the ovation that helps them hit the highest notes. Despite everything that could make me hate this movie, I adored it. There was a standing ovation in my local theatre, as it ended with the graceful quote of P.T. Barnum:

“The noblest art is that of making others happy”.

DF-07341_R.JPGLet me set out my criteria: I am not a huge fan of circus-themed musicals. I expect some dialogue to understand each character, and I do not like it when the producers force a boring musical on my face. The Greatest Showman was both dark and bright, and one reason it is not getting a full point from me is because I could not get enough of it.

There is not a movie that I did not appreciate when Hugh Jackman is in it. He might not have an astonishing musical career; however, he sure does an amazing job delivering the character’s voice. Michelle Williams gracefully accompanies him where the audience witnesses their love story from day one. Again, romance was not overdone. Conflict was not overdone. I could say everything was right about this musical for me. However, it is important to note that many critiques claim the storyline lacked accuracy when portraying Barnum’s life. This will happen either way they portray Barnum because there is much conflict in his own autobiography.

The visuals, performers and the script didn’t have much to complain about for me. I would’ve liked songs that appealed more to the style of 1870s. The attempt to modernize the theme, and musical choices only worked for the sake of Hugh Jackman, and his compelling performance. Give the developers one more year of research and song-writing, this movie would have gotten a 5/5.

I’ll say this; It was an original production and it did a hell of a good job delivering as if I were in Broadway. The Greatest Showman is a must-see.