‘Battlestar Galactica’: Season 1 Review

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I’ll never contend to be the biggest sci-fi fan, I tend to like my fiction grounded in reality without the additions of the fantastical like time traveling, clones, aliens, new worlds and so on. I especially don’t like these elements when they’re solely used off their gimmicks alone, while yes in certain context I may like some of these elements, but when they’re just added for a “cool” factor and have no bearing on the “real world” of the piece’s story, it remains just a gimmick for you to watch it and has no real value outside of that. Battlestar Galactica treats its science fiction smartly and allows the show to feel very much like a grounded in reality fiction story that just so happens to feature these elements.

Now I know Battlestar Galactica isn’t the first science fiction show to reflect or highlight real world ideas and concept through the eyes of a sci-fi world, but it certainly does well to exemplify that as a major tenant, but still includes base science fiction tropes because that’s what kind of show it is after all. The plot itself is very straightforward and basic, where the Cylons (a cyborg group of bad guys) destroyed the Colonies (planets where humans lived aka the good guys), and the Battlestar Galactica ship, one of the last remaining ships, takes upon itself to lead the survivors to a new safe haven and fight off whatever Cylon threats get in their way.

The mysteries and unknown of the Cylons is really well done, with the show positioning this creepy element to start the series mentioning how the Cylons had been unheard of for years until the day that they decided to destroy civilization, leading hanging questions of why and why now. The Cylons also have the ability to become fully humanoid where many of them are seen as clones to the actual human version of a person, adding another mysterious element and an easy move in the back-pocket of the show as they could reveal pretty much anyone as a undercover Cylon, so that always lurks in the background.

What truly makes Battlestar Galactica stand out is its very real world happenings and many different layers of a genre show that’s not always just a science fiction show. The battling members in charge between the commander of the Battlestar Galactica William Adama and the president of the Twelve Colonies Laura Roslin posits this struggle for power between the two where they try to play nice as much as possible, but their contention is always bubbling underneath. As such the show plays a lot of the time like a political show like The West Wing where it concerns much finagling and political discourse to enact measures and figure out what to do with these people when they’re not only on the run, but nobody is truly in power under any “legal” means.

Along with both leaders, pretty much everybody in the show is portrayed as being very strong, especially the female characters which you don’t often see, with Starbuck being our defacto underling protagonist as a badass pilot who doesn’t take orders from anyone. Number Six is our view into the head of humanoid Cylons who is as cunningly dangerous as she is beautiful, where they never really cheapen her by using her seduction as anything more than her trying to get her nefarious means any way she can.

Something that I love about this show, too, so far, is that it’s not really about happy endings so much and continues this underlying theme of depression throughout. If something happy happens be sure that within a few moments something will pop up to upend that. It’s refreshing to see a show that doesn’t consistently put their good guys on easy street and for every mission to be a cake walk, where here everything at least seems to be of more of an importance given the true underdog stakes that the Battlestar Galactica always seems to be facing against the Cylons.

The first season does a good job of setting up this world, posing questions, outlining the stakes and positioning characters and ideas to where things might go. It seems like a framework so easily susceptible to tension and upheaval which would exactly seem par for the course about a political show in the midst of an alien-cyborg attack. This world and story is wrought for deepening in not only the science fiction aspect, but also the human and societal aspect where both sides are so intrinsically tied it’s only guaranteed that aren’t going to get any easier in the increasingly changing landscape of Battlestar Galactica.

ROH: 14th Anniversary Review/Recap

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ROH finds themselves in an interesting spot coming into 2016. Things aren’t exactly booming, but things aren’t really heading into the dumps. Perhaps that’s a bit too unkind, the show and promotion is doing well, trending up, but it isn’t filled with a mass of huge angles that draw attention or super big stars that are captivating the world, when rather the wrestling world seems pretty neutral on the product that ROH is coming out with. It’s still really good, and pound for pound better wrestling than a lot of what you’ll be able to see on your TV screen. With the emergence and mainstream wrestling popularity of NXT over the “indie” brand and with others such as Lucha Underground with a fresh perspective on the business along with various indie indie (like, really indie) companies like PWG and EVOLVE, there’s certainly a lot of GOOD wrestling out there than ever before, making ROH fade into the background.

ROH has a ton of good wrestlers, potential stars and people behind the scenes to make not only a great show, but something that sticks out and becomes “must watch” to wrestling fans who already have so much content at their fingertips to watch.

The company runs a risk a lot of the time as still feeling like just a breeding ground for when their stars get super red hot and over that they’ll eventually get signed or poached away by WWE. That doesn’t have to be the case, especially if they make it a premium to push and foster the talent they have now, who have massive potential to build the company as this destination for top-tier wrestling where their characters make up the brand. They definitely took a step in the right direction locking down the Young Bucks last year and then at the end of the year re-upping Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly (who are a fantastic tag team, but seem destined for more singles pushes this year) and Jay Lethal who continues to kill it in the ring and on promos as the ROH World Champion. Adam Cole is another guy who seems to have unlimited potential, and thus is always linked to going to WWE, but with the right handling of him the guy could be a star in ROH and the guy to headline the brand in the coming years.

Tomohiro Ishii Defeated Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish to retain the ROH World Television Championship:

This was the match that came out of nowhere and largely thrown together after Ishii won the ROH TV title. I was very much looking forward to the Roddy/Bobby rematch after them having a pretty great match at Final Battle, and I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get it here since this match wasn’t very great and the story the two men had coming in was pretty good, only to get swept aside now that Ishii was involved.

Granted, it’s kinda cool that Roddy lost the belt at the joint ROH/NJPW show a wee before it was to be defended, since that never really happens and gives that shock value since you always assume once a guy is booked to defend his title at a big event, he won’t lose it between then, but not when you face someone like Ishii.

So, yeah, this match wasn’t bad per se, but definitely underwhelming especially when you have the talents of all three guys, especially ones who can crash and bang. Ishii’s style and first time in an ROH ring might’ve thrown a bit of a kink in it, but either way it wasn’t anything special, and didn’t even get much time to build until it was over pretty fast.

I thought that Ishii would give up the title with Roddy pinning Bobby or something like that where Ishii avoids the pinfall, but I guess they’re sticking it with Ishii and I guess the TV title won’t be a thing going forward on the ROH tapings, since I doubt they’ll do much if at all with it at the TV tapings. I don’t know what this means for Roddy/Bobby and I guess we won’t see Ishii defending the belt until Global Wars in May.

B.J. Whitmer Defeated Adam Page:

This was really the only match on the card I could not have cared less for. I pretty much tune out any and all Whitmer/Page stuff on the weekly TV shows as it doesn’t do anything for me promo-wise or wanting to see these guys go at it in the ring. The only thing I will say is that Whitmer is a pretty good heel and great at actually attracting heat, but even still I find it hard to care about him or what he’s doing. Just that I know and recognize how good he is at doing it.

Also, I’m not really too sure about Adam Page. I haven’t seen enough of him to fully judge whether he has the chops to be a top guy going forward as some see him as. To me now he’s nothing special, but I’d like to see him be put with someone his more equal wrestling-wise and for him to have a feud where he can sink his teeth in a little more with someone more of his ilk.

Hirooki Goto Defeated Dalton Castle:

Since Goto’s original opponent Ishii was thrown into that defending his TV title, Goto had to have a new opponent and it probably worked out just as well with Dalton Castle getting a prime spot against the former IGWP Championship no. 1 contender. They had a really great match with a lot of strength moves being used, especially by Castle who showed no struggle putting his signature suplexes on the hefty Goto. I would’ve liked to have seen Castle win, since everybody loves him, all the other NJPW stars won and the company seems to slowly but surely be moving him up the card, but it’s not the worst to have him lose as he still looked fantastic in defeat and it’s not really going to do anything to his status.

Alex Shelley Defeated Christopher Daniels:

This was a really great match, too, as expected from two fantastic wrestlers who have come all the way from TNA and putting on great X division matches. This was really all to set up the reunited of the Moto City Machine Guns with Chris Sabin coming out and turning face to align with Shelley, and also helping him to get the win. This obviously sets up a feud between the newly reformed MCMG and The Addiction, which should result in some fantastic tag bouts.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin Defeated The Briscoes:

This was definitely the second best match of the night (behind the six-man tag) and it makes sense since it’s hard to find any better veteran journeyman workers like Tanahashi/Elgin and the Briscoe brothers. I absolutely love the Tanahashi/Elgin pairing, they seem so different, yet so perfect for each other and put in some great collaborative work as the best babyface tag team out there for my money right now. I heard some thoughts that they might challenge for the NJPW tag titles, which would be a fun program. Also, I’m no doctor, but Tanahashi’s shoulder looks pretty damn healed and he showed no issues with it or shied away from it at all. If it wasn’t already apparent that dude is the Japanese John Cena, he’s apparently got his freakish fast-healing skills as well.

It’s kinda crazy to me that Jay Briscoe had one of the biggest and longest ROH World title reigns and was the top guy in the company and then as soon as he lost to Lethal he was eventually just down doing random tag matches with his brother. I wonder what the plans are with him, if it’s just a holding pattern for now, as he seems like too good of a guy just to be stuck doing largely nothing matches. Granted, he’s been with the company forever and done it all, so who knows.

Kazuchika Okada Defeated Moose:

I definitely can’t say I was really looking forward to this because I couldn’t believe they booked this match, not only because it was the IWGP champ against Moose, but because Okada and Moose had such different style that I didn’t think anything that good would come out of it. It was actually pretty good, though! It wasn’t amazing or anything, but definitely not as bad or boring as I expected it to be. I mean, Moose is big obviously and also very athletic, which he did well to utilize to keep up pace with Okada and thus never devolved into a “big lug versus small guy” fight, and actually had a pretty nice pace to it. It was probably Moose’s best match he’s had and really you’d assume only good things would come out of this since it was actually pretty good, but I guess if you’re getting booked in a singles match with Okada in the first place you’re doing something right.

The Elite Defeated Kushida, ACH and Matt Sydal to retain the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship:

Everybody had huge expectations of what to expect and what they wanted to see out of this match, and it’s pretty safe to safe that they were all blown out of the water. There literally wasn’t a weak link anywhere in this match between any of the six guys, the spots and staging, everything was perfect and would literally be a blur if I attempted to type out every move these guys did. Kenny Omega and the Bucks were CRAZY over and treated these dudes like gods, especially Omega who now being booked as a top guy in NJPW just overnight seems like this huge star. While The Elite got the enormous reactions, Kushida, ACH and Sydal were more than up to the task of equally them in the ring and looked great all around. My love for ACH grows by the match, it’s no question he’ my favourite guy in the company (outside of maybe Jay Lethal), and he should be star wherever he is in the next couple years.

War Machine Defeated The All Night Express to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship:

These poor guys. Nothing could have followed that six-man tag match and as soon as this thing began it was like all the air was released from the room. The crowd was deflated as they just spent all their energy going crazy for the six guys before that they really couldn’t care less about this match. The match was no DQ which involved weapons into the melee, but that did nothing to help entice the crowd. I mean, it wasn’t the greatest match with the best guys to begin with, but it wasn’t bad, just stuck in an unfortunate spot where the guys got nothing from the crowd and seemed to reflect back the same.

Jay Lethal Defeated Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly to retain the ROH World Championship:

Even the world title main event seemingly was still feeling the hungover effects of the six-man match as while this thing was a bit more lively than the tag title match, the crowd was still very quiet throughout and never really gave the match any of that main event energy, with the match suffering because of it.

It was a good match, though, not an all-time classic or anything, but really good. I didn’t think they’d take the belt off of Lethal this soon, but it does feel like it might be soon and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did take it off him. Granted, I love Lethal and think he still has a ton more run left as the champ and is doing great work, so I think there’s still time with him, but it wouldn’t shock me to have him lose. I was shocked that Adam Cole took the pin and not O’Reilly, so maybe it will indeed be O’Reilly who eventually takes the belt, as he definitely has the wrestling skills, although nowhere near as good as Lethal or Cole on the mic.

O’Reilly is just so fun to watch and if you somehow think technical wrestling is boring, Kyle is never not boring and always has some flair with his chain wrestling. One of the best spots was when O’Reilly had both Lethal and Cole in a submission at the same time.

I’m not really sure how this review came off, but overall I wasn’t really all that enamored with the show. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t really leave me with anything all that positive going forward out of it outside of the six-man tag match. It feel into good, not great, territory, something that as I mentioned above I don’t think ROH really has that liberty to put on something just good and not all that memorable. The year is early, though, and I really don’t see any reason why this year shouldn’t be as good as the last as they got a lot of fundamental pieces to build off. Their TV taping set got a massive upgrade with a new lighting grid and a whole new entrance stage, so they definitely are trying on all ends to make the product as appealing visually as possible (I never had an issue with it before, since I kinda like that gritty, dingy look, but I get how people would be turned off by it). ROH and NJPW are probably my two favourite companies, and not coincidentally the two companies I have the most trust in when it comes to booking matches and creating long-term angles and thus serving their characters. That’s why when they don’t hit it out of the park I’m more forgivable on one hand, but on the other it continually seems like in this day and age with all the competition out there’s becoming less and less of a safety net.

Fastlane: Review/Recap

RESEM50037fastlane2016MEBecky Lynch And Sasha Banks Defeated Team B.A.D.:

Don’t really have much to say about this. It was actually a pretty good match, all things considered, from both teams and did a decent job kicking off the night and managed to avoid any kind of gaffs (unfortunately the latter women’s match wouldn’t be so lucky). This thing is obviously just a way to build up the feud of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks going after Charlotte and the Diva’s title. I’d presume it’ll be a three-way for the belt at WrestleMania, or just a straight up Sasha/Charlotte match. I’d be more keen to the Sasha/Charlotte match because you know that both the company and the women want a star-making match of not only showing off the skills of the women on this huge stage and they can be just as good if not better than the men, but they also want to make huge starts out of these women as the torchbearers for the division for the next decade+. So, it’s easier to make a great singles match with planned ideas, spots and fluidity (the latter part which often plagues divas matches) than to create a great triple threat match which often includes dealing with a lot of timing issues and having to eliminate one person so much that it always seems like a revolving singles match. Anyways, I’m not complaining either way, and I’m sure either match will be great, I just sense that this is a match execution that they’ll want to pull off in spades to further benefit and lend credence to the division as wrestlers.

Kevin Owens Defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental Championship:

This was your prototypical Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler TV match that was really no different than the last 567 times they faced off. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad by any stretch. They’re basically the king of kicking off shows, and if it wasn’t for that extra women’s match that’s what they would’ve been doing, although this was basically the same. Owens was obviously going to win, since he just won the belt and WWE seems like they actually have and want Kevin to do stuff (not that it’s apparent lately) and Ziggler has been doing nothing since that whole Rusev/Lana thing that we’re probably just better off forgetting.

I have no clue what Kevin Owens will be doing for WrestleMania. I’m thinking either a program with AJ Styles for the title, which I’d love, or maybe a program with Chris Jericho for the title, which would be fine, especially since Owens/Jericho worked a bunch on house shows over the past year and their dueling promos would be a lot of fun. I mean, a Sami Zayn feud would be awesome, but I don’t think that’s happening so soon, especially with Zayn dealing with NXT stuff, but I wouldn’t fret since I’m sure we’ll be getting a lot of it over the next decade.

Big Show, Kane and Ryback Defeated The Wyatt Family:

This wasn’t even all that bad! I was surprised! I couldn’t even think of a match I’ve been looking forward to less than this one (although, I feel like I say that on ever PPV review I do). I mean, it makes absolutely no sense why didn’t give the Wyatts the win, as that seemed a foregone conclusion. The booking on the Wyatts is the most schizoprenic, they’ll languish in the background and lose to everybody, then they’ll be pushed like they finally want to build them as legit monsters who win and dominate, but then they’ll just get pushed down again and back to scrape the doldrums. In a perfect world it would be cool to see the Wyatts as legitimate threats and not just glorified jobbers in the skins of people who in theory would be a lot more successful.

Charlotte Defeated Brie Bella to retain the Divas Championship:

Oh, man, this thing was terrible. Not too many other ways to put it. The whole match both Brie and Charlotte seemed to be on a completely different page. This is where that fluidity thing I mentioned in the Sasha, Becky/Team B.A.D. thing comes into place. Often in women’s matches they’ll seem so stiff and so hesitant of the next move and spot that it becomes so blatantly and painfully obvious that this is staged and everything is pre-determined. There’s no seamless back-and-forth, but rather waiting and stumbling around to set up the next move, or wait an unrealistic amount of time to do something or just do something so strained and removed that it looks painfully manipulated. This match was that idea in a nutshell. There was countless times where Charlotte would have to do some many unnatural delays or moves to make sure she and Brie were in the proper position to do a move that it was so blatantly stunted. It wasn’t just Brie, where I think the problem lies in both women being not having much experience with each other and neither really taking charge. The whole thing culminated in a finish apropo of the entire match with Brie having Charlotte in a single leg crab, until she decided to seemingly launch herself into the ropes and give up the move only for Charlotte to magically recover put her in the figure-8 and win. What you were supposed to know is that Brie’s leg was injured and thus the pain of putting pressure on her leg in that move launced her out of the move? I dunno, it was a bad match and a bad finish. Charlotte will redeem herself at Wrestlemania with some more worthy competition, and Brie I’m sure will have a better showing as she winds her career down and remains thankful that this wasn’t her goodbye match.

AJ Styles Defeated Chris Jericho:

Looking back Chris Jericho was pretty much the perfect fit for AJ’s first feud in WWE. They’re both decade+ vets in the business, are of similar sizes and can put on great matches with seemingly anybody. In the end I never got that classic match I expected from the two that I know is in both of them, but instead we just got some really, really good matches, which especially on this show shouldn’t be anything to complain about. I think, funnily enough, that this match was similar to the Brie/Charlotte match (I know.. hold on, let me explain), but on the opposite side of the spectrum. As good as the matches were and this one was, both men just seemed to slightly be on different pages. Whether it was AJ still getting used to the new ring and relative new style (yet he’s still better than 95% of the roster being this new to the company) or if it was Jericho’s age and style not being able to keep up with AJ. Sometimes you’d see them just off on a spot, like that AJ springboard off the ropes to Jericho drop kick, where to anyone less skilled than them it would look blatantly obvious, but instead these guys are so good that slight misses go largely undetected.

I also had a pretty big issue with having Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash, especially when he was just going to give up the submission to Styles, anyways. I would’ve loved to have seen them build up the Styles Clash as this great move, maybe not Japan levels of building it up, but at least have it built up enough to help out another guy that could use the rub rather than wasting it on Jericho a week in. Especially when they have AJ using the calf slicer as his main finisher now and the Styles Clash could’ve been used as a “big match” move that AJ only busted out when absolutely necessary. We’ll see, though, I guess I should just be happy they gave AJ the win over Jericho and actually made him tap out.

The Cutting Edge Peep Show with The New Day:

I rolled my eyes at first because it just seemed like a lame time filler to pimp the new Edge and Christian show, and it was that, but the dreaming side of me actually thought they’d use this to debut Enzo and Cass on the main roster to feud with The New Day into Mania. But, nope, as soon as The New Day started talking about the League of Nations I knew this thing was only destined to get worse. It makes total sense in retrospect that they’d go with this feud since neither has nothing to do, but I could care less. The New Day act is sooo played out with me and always goes on about 5 minutes longer than it should. As if things couldn’t get much worse on this show…

Curtis Axel Defeated R-Truth:

Yep, you read that correctly, the co-main event match on this show was Curtis Axel with the Social Outcasts beating R-Truth in two minutes when a Goldust accidental distraction led to the pin because we absolutely needed that story continued on this show. How this makes it on, even as a dumb time filler when Kalisto/Alberto Del Rio languished on the pre-show is beyond me, because you know full well they could’ve just shifted things slightly and had that match on here to at least bring up the mean.

Roman Reigns Defeated Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar:

The theme of this show really was if you came into it expecting exactly what everybody knew was going to happen (which it did) then it probably didn’t bother you too much. As much as you might’ve wanted Ambrose to win and how fun it would be to throw a wrench in everything, you knew WWE wasn’t doing anything to mess with the story they had of Roman and Triple H with Roman gunning after that belt yet again, he’s already won it twice somehow! The match was good, nothing amazing and pretty serviceable to all. It will never get old watching Brock get built up like the monster he is and just destroying guys left and right.

I’m writing this after RAW, so WrestleMania is becoming a lot more clearer. We got the match that nobody say coming with Shan McMahon coming back to the company to face Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match to win the rights to Monday Night Raw. I’m sure there will be a lot of strings pulled from now until then and the match itself will probably be a cluster in terms of guest spots and smoke and mirrors towards whoever will win. Regardless, I’m excited for the match and at the very least the idea of it because it sounds like the most fantasy booking thing ever, especially in 2016.

Dean Ambrose is facing off against Brock Lesnar in a street fight, which sounds amazing and has the potential to steal the show. The street fight stipulation is a good idea, because it’s the only way that things can sway in Ambrose’s favour towards a fair and believable fight, because realistically Lesnar should mop the floor with the scrawny Ambrose. I’m much more excited about this than I am the before rumoured idea of Lesnar/Bray Wyatt which was seemingly being set up at the Rumble. I was looking forward to the legit Lesnar/Wyatt match, but not the tedious month+ long build up of boring promos and attacks.

I don’t know what’s truly happening with the tag belts outside of New Day/League Of Nations feud, but don’t know how that’ll play into WrestleMania. They’ve been putting together a few tag teams of late like Social Outcasts, R-Truth/Goldust, plus the Dudleyz and Usos feud that seems to be happening and now it seems like Styles/Jericho are going to be a team which I’m not the biggest fan of. So maybe they’ll do a big multi-team match like they did last year?

It seems like the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal will be back, as it’s now just an easy match to throw all your leftover guys into, and especially since a ton of the big guys have nothing to do like Big Show, Kane, Ryback, the Wyatts etc. I have no clue what this means for Bray Wyatt as I can’t see anyone relatively big or decent for him to feud with that he hasn’t faced already. Who knows.

Of course you got John Cena posting cryptic things on Twitter about him pushing hard to make some certain goal. Hmmmm. This is the same dude who posted about him struggling to regain the mobility in his weak arm and then two days later posted him squatting 300 lbs. The dude is a freak, so he’ll probably be back, but I have no clue facing. The fantasy booker in me wants John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the dream match we’ve always wanted over the past decade.

And, oh yeah, that whole Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the title thing. It’s hilarious that WWE thinks that continually putting bigger and bigger things in front of Roman for him to “overcome” to win the title will somehow get people to like him, yet it’s having the opposite effect where it gets comical how much he beats out to get what he deserves. I’m sure there will be a special ref or special enforcer or people in each of their corners or whatever, but I don’t think much will work and the fans are just too far gone on Reigns in this iteration to see him win like this.

I was getting pretty skeptical of Mania with all the injuries, lack of big matches and the mess the world title picture is, but the whole Shane/Undertaker thing has really piqued my interest and the Lesnar/Ambrose thing is bound to be a lot of fun. Plus, I’m sure they still got a few surprises up their sleeves since it’s the “biggest WrestleMania of all time” (haven’t you heard!?!?), and given we’re still more than a month out a lot is bound to change, but I’m back excited for Mania, and hey, we at the very least get an NXT Takeover special to look forward to, no matter the Mania card.

‘Deadpool’: Review

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I am so sick of superhero movies. I’m not against the core concept, as generally engaging and entertaining movies can and have been mined from the concept of a superhero in both the action elements that obviously come with it, as well as the character and emotional aspects of how this person deals with the turmoils of being this different kind of person. Nowadays, though, these movies are so locked in to making money, it seems, that they’ve just become increasingly formulaic with all these characters blending into one where I don’t have any connection to any of them and thus don’t care about them or the movies.

In the Marvel canon, the only recent movies I’ve liked was the first Iron Man, due to it being something completely different from what we’d seen at the time, the depiction of a superhero not named Spiderman, Batman or Superman, the portrayal of the character by Robert Downey, Jr. and the overall fun the movie oozed. I enjoyed the Captain American movies, because although a superhero movie on the outset, at its core was a much more interesting spin on a investigative-type thriller with government-type organizations. The last movie I really enjoyed was Guardians Of The Galaxy again due to its out-of-the-box thinking and its penchant to just go all out and tell with whacky and fun story that at least presented itself as something new. Deadpool falls in line with this list, but to an even bigger degree in that it’s literally a superhero movie made to make fun of how boring and formulaic superhero movies are. Finally.

We all know the story behind Deadpool, with everybody dreaming about the idea of an R-rated superhero movie with swearing and brutal violence that could be built upon the money and resources that the Marvel films seemingly have unlimited of. The first step came in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where Deadpool would have a cameo, until the movie actually happened and Deadpool was this neutered gimp that barred hardly a resemblance to the character. The concept and possibility of the movie zig-zagged for a couple years, only to finally be put into overdrive when some test footage “leaked” and was met with a ton of positive reviews, with the scenes including all the badass Deadpool traits everybody was expecting from such a movie.

Deadpool works on a lot of different levels and mostly in embracing what kind of movie it is. It’s basically like if Marvel did their own version of an “independent” superhero movie. Credit to Marvel for letting the people who made the movie go literally and figuratively balls out. The movie never skimps on any of the violence, sex, language, references and crude humour that you’d expect from the character, not that that content automatically makes this or anything a “good” film, but when you’re dealing with this character and idea that gets so much of its energy and purpose from all that, it certainly allows the film to breathe and be what it needs to be. The film is very small in so-fact as there’s is only about two major fight scenes (which the movie makes fun of, including the scope of these fights being limited where in the movie Deadpool will forget to bring extra ammo and guns), there is only two tertiary side superhero characters, the villain is pretty basic, the plot is a pretty stripped down revenge idea and so on.

Like I said, allowing the movie to go all out in its self-referential and mocking of the genre and Marvel movies with seemingly little restriction was all for the better. One of the best running jokes was Deadpool constantly obsessing and mentioning Hugh Jackman, along with other mentions of real life actors like Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool referencing the literal actor Ryan Reynolds aka himself, mentioning James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart, commenting on how small the film’s budget was when Deadpool arrived at the X-Men school and that you wouldn’t be seeing any cameos because their budget was too small. Or even T.J. Miller as Wade Wilson/Deadpool’s sidekick saying that he wasn’t going to join Deadpool in his final battle against the villain just because “he didn’t want to.” The film has so many ways and mentions of making fun of superhero cliches (and a lot of the time just general movie cliches) and formula that for at least this once and for a character that is bred off this it’s such a breath of fresh air that at least some of your concerns and groans with this genre get reflected back to you from a high stage. It’s not that these references cloud the movie too much or take away from the actual narrative and sense of it being a film, where it still very much feels like it’s own world.

Due to the small nature of things, the narrative itself was very small and contained and it was really all it needed to be. It all just boiled down to Wade Wilson wanting to get revenge on the guy who infused him with these mutant genes that were intended to cure his cancer, but rather disfigured him and kept him from his fiancee. In doing so they wove a simple origin story, which you kind of have to with this being the first film, but it never felt boring or dragged along as they did it partway through the film and it featured almost as more of a framing device/flashback. Ed Skrein as the villain Ajax wasn’t that great or memorable, but he really didn’t need to be since the film is all about Deadpool and it’s not like there was some major plot or set-up to his character or his means. Ryan Reynolds was fantastic, of course, because he finally just gets to play Ryan Reynolds with the sarcasm and rugged movie star looks that featured in every other movie of his that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t coalesced into the perfect role where those are the main two tenants of his character as this anti-hero superhero.

So, man, imagine that, a movie the people have been clamoring for for years, an R-rated big studio superhero movie at that, actually delivered and was everything and more that people expected from it. The movie really does come at a perfect time as superhero fatigue seemingly reaches its all time high and we at least get this break to regroup before another Summer of much of the same. I would never think this would change anything and not that it really should or tries to be, but at least it makes certain that everybody is in on the joke whether it’s intended with Deadpool or just par for the course nowadays with seemingly every other superhero film.

‘The Life Of Pablo’: Review

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After all this time So Help Me God has finally dropped, oh wait, SWISH has finally landed, no, wait, let’s try this again, Waves has finallly been released, damn, alright, one last time, The Life Of Pablo finally graces us with our presence, there we go! Whatever it’s called, the new Kanye West album has arrived in the most Kanye West fashion ever. Literally arriving in Kanye West fashion after being played at his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show/fever dream and then arriving in a modified, expanded version at midnight after his appearance on Saturday Night Live. Through all this hype and media the album should probably suck, but Kanye bucks all tradition and delivers a multi-layered project that is worthy of its delays and rife for picking apart.

Kanye lyrics aren’t very good, that isn’t any big secret, and especially aren’t inventive when he uses lame and simple metaphors to describe whatever sex thing he feels apt in describing. They’ve obviously never been his strong suit, hence why he’s rumoured to have writers contributing ideas for songs, or just full out having stuff written for him. Lyrical quality is something I’ve never cared about with Kanye, though, and why I can see so easily past it. I never expect Kanye to spit full verses about deep social and political issues like Kendrick Lamar, nor am I expecting technical prowess with word and rhyming schemes or anything of that nature. Kanye is supposed to be fun and dumb and silly and I think that’s where a lot of his charm comes from. That this dude thinks it’s funny or entertaining to rap about putting a GoPro on his nether regions or how unabashedly he calls out Taylor Swift and Ray J makes it all quintessential Kanye.

In this project especially it seems that the lyrics are less of a whole than the production and are often just a means and necessity at a bare minimum to serve the beats. Often times it feels like he barely spits a verse, and an abbreviated one at that, whereas the layers of the production, song and additional vocals often seem to supersede his lyrics. As much as Kanye writes lyrics to be remembered and says crazy, outlandish things to help cement this fact, they still pale in comparison to the sounds and overall production he and others layer into each song on the album. Many songs will feature one predominate beat or sound for the first 3/4 of the song, only to transcend into something similar, but just different enough in the last 1/4 to feel as sort of a connective tissue between songs and help the album feel like a flow of songs one into the other, as opposed to a start and stop nature where these songs seem just plugged in. I think the interludes of “Low Lights,” “I Love Kanye” and the “Silver Silver Intermission” are placed much the same and their placement between certain chunks of songs is no accident and seems to introduce a new act of the album, like Kanye had originally pieced together having the album separated into acts.

While lyrics are never really the focal point of Kanye projects (I mean, they probably are in his mind, but hardly in the consumer’s) when he does excel as a lyricist is when he’s writing about raw emotion and feelings he’s going through whether it be with his relationship with women, his family, being a father, how to deal with changing relationships or his general anxiety that comes with his celebrity. Notably “FML” and “Real Friends” deal with a lot of these themes and un-coincidentally are back-to-back in the tracklist. “FML” features Kanye rapping “You ain’t never seen nothing crazier than this nigga when he off his Lexapro,” and later detailing a manic episode he went through, documenting his struggle with his anxiety disorder. The rest of the song seemingly deals with him expressing his love and dedication to his wife, even while people around him (and the media) continue to speak against the idea of the pairing, “Don’t stop your loving, don’t stop for nothing, no, not for nothing, they don’t wanna see me love you, nah, don’t stop it, they always love it, they always wanna” he raps.

“Real Friends” which I contest already is one of the greatest songs Kanye has ever made sees him pondering about how messed up relationships are, how even the people you thought closest to you (ie, your family) could turn on you and how he finds it hard to judge what a true relationship is nowadays in his current life when people seemingly are always using relationships with him to get something out of him. I always find it kind of funny the more and more that I listen to Kanye the more and more I he says things that I can relate to so perfectly. I mean, sure I can’t relate to the having sex with super models and wearing expensive furs made out of mink type lines, but the types of lyrics where he gets into exploring how finicky relationships are and how his general anxiety keeps him from connecting to people, rich or poor he always has several strings that illustrate the truth no matter the background:

“Real friends, how many of us?

How many of us, how many jealous?

Real friends
 It’s not many of us, we smile at each other

But how many honest? Trust issues”

Coming in to the project it felt like the album was going to be a mishmash and amalgamation of sounds and something that maybe wouldn’t feel like a cohesive album or sound, but more of just a collection of songs. After listening to the album countless times, I really don’t think that’s the case at all. Even knowing that this album wasn’t scripted like this from the beginning, with us all being aware of the changing of the tracklist and mixing up of the ordering, it works a lot like this was meant to be. “Ultralight Beam” kicks the album off into this gospel stratosphere reaching at this large orchestral sound, moving into both parts of “Father Stretch My Hands” maintaining an underpinning of this gospel-y sounds with some more upbeat modern trap sounds. With the exceptions of “Feedback” and “Freestyle 4” which maintain that Yeezus sound of dark, staticky production with boisterous raps the songs up to “I Love Kanye” retain that soulful, airy quality that meshes hip-hop, pop and soul that seems reminiscent in some parts to ‘The College Dropout.’ The four song stretch (which I think is the best on the album) from “Waves” to “Wolves” seems like a descent into introspection, examining his self and his worth and relationship to others. The sounds transgress into a darker more moody atmosphere apt for contemplation and highlighting the feelings he’s expressing.

In the original tracklists that Kanye workshopped on his Twitter they were only about 11 or so songs, with many seemingly making the cut only to be swapped out later, and him eventually throwing all the songs on here to make eighteen tracks (minus the interludes) is a misstep as the album seems very tight and formed ending around “Wolves” in length, where the addition of the last three songs of “No More Parties In LA,” “Facts” and “Fade” just seem to unnecessarily extend the album and bring it out of a conclusion that the album had already sought. I don’t think those tracks are necessarily bad per se (I mean, “Facts” was terrible, but the beat change he did at least makes it better here) it’s just that they prolong what didn’t need to be extended. 30 Hours as is on the album seems like the perfect ender, and Kanye even mentions it as much being an outro on the song itself, so in a way it feels like those last three songs are a kind of tacked on, unofficial bonus tracks, which is the best way to deal with it if Kanye absolutely wanted those songs on in this iteration of the album. In fact it almost seems like he was finished with the album and had those leftovers that didn’t make this cut for whatever reason and was just like, “ahhh, hell, just tack ‘em on the end!’

It’s funny hearing immediate reaction to this album, because it seems like people either love it or hate it, which makes sense because that’s pretty par for the course with everything concerning Kanye. You could put 100 people in a room and ask them to rank Kanye’s albums and you’d get 100 different answers. I think a lot of this stems from Kanye going all out with every song and every record and with each subsequent sound and that’s why you can easily love and hate a bunch of songs off the same Kanye album. Or that’s why people who love the auto-tuned Kanye going through a bunch of pain hold 808s & Heartbreak as one of the best Kanye albums while others rank it as one of their least favourites, or why some people love the brash, industrial sounds of Yeezus while others can’t stand it.

I think in the end The Life Of Pablo is at least more palatable to a general audience (and general audience of Kanye fans) as it has a multitude of different sounds and Kanye’s on it, feeding into that idea that it’s just a loose collection of songs, but still maintains several sound signifiers of hip-hop tinged with gospel, soul and later a dark bass that reflects the changing tone of the album. It’s still a prototypical Kanye album through and through, dense and focused production laid under the curated sounds Kanye melds together combined with his recipe of braggadocios and often comical lyrics. The Life Of Pablo ends as maybe one of the most interesting insights into the psyche of Kanye West, not only through the content of the album, but through the rollout on Twitter, the constant changes live changes to the album, to the fashion show that premiered a different album that would be “released” strictly on Tidal a few days later. This is all quintessential Kanye and for better or worse The Life Of Pablo is a living, breathing portrait of the man.

Favourite songs: “Ultralight Beam,” “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” “Feedback,” “Waves,” “FML,” “Real Friends,” “Wolves.”

The New Beginning In Osaka/The New Beginning In Niigata: Review/Recap

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Unlike I previously do I’m not going to go match-by-match on these shows, as I’m combining them together and I really don’t have much to say about these shows outside of the main events and big angles moving forward.

With the departure of two of the four main draws from the company in Shinsuke Nakamura and A.J. Styles to WWE, it was clear immediately that some new blood needed to be injected in the main event picture, especially since the remaining two of those four, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada, had just finished a lengthy program (and years at that if you want to go that far.). Enter Kenny Omega, the loony second string Bullet Club member who has been enjoying the last year contending for and defending the Light Heavyweight championship to excellent measures. With AJ’s departure from NJPW and the Bullet Club Omega was earmarked to not only establish himself as a singles star, but be the one at the top of the company with the likes of Japanese favourites Tanahashi and Okada.

While we were robbed of Omega going after Nakamura and his Intercontinental belt (they just made things easiest with Nakamura’s swift depature and just had him give it up), we got the next best thing with Tanahashi stepping into Nakamura’s place to defend the honour of the belt against the vociferous Omega. Tanahashi himself is in an interesting spot because of this, long the golden child of NJPW and the Japanese fan and while he still is, at the age of 39 he’s not getting any younger and he’s just coming off passing the torch unofficially to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, failing to capture the title and thus taking himself out of that main event spot, that we’ve so used to seeing him compete in. Not only that, but Tanahashi suffered a shoulder injury about a month back, about the worst thing the company would want to see when they’re already hemorrhaging from top star losses, but Tanahashi being Tanahashi he’s worked through the injury and hasn’t missed any time (though, one could argue how foolish that could be in the long run.

So, The New Beginning In Niigata spurned by needing to establish another top singles star without damaging what few they already had did what New Japan seemingly always does when the boot is to their throat, they came through looking better than ever. Of course the talents of Tanahashi and Omega are going to put on a great match no matter what, the real jewel of this match was the storytelling authored by both men, telling a believable and well-rounded story that elevated Omega to a spot worthy of being up there with Tanahashi and Okada. Omega won about as cleanly as you possibly could with the likes of the Young Bucks interfering and doing all they could to weaken Tanahashi. The whole match saw Omega work over the injured shoulder of Tanahashi, targeting it with every move and making sure he suffered as much as possible. Tanahashi would get his own measure of revenge working over the leg of Omega, with boys guys doing terrific job of selling their injuries and showing the worsening of their condition as the match went on. Eventually after all his outside help and hitting Tanahashi with the Bomaye (Nakamura’s move) and the Styles Clash (Styles’ move) Omega hit the Angel Wings and got the win, the Intercontinental championship and NJPW got a top guy to help push the company forward.

What makes Omega so great is that he perfectly fills a role in NJPW that is an easy gimmick to fill, but his skill and dedication take everything so far beyond that. While NJPW is obviously filled with tons of great talent, including Tanahashi and Okada who are your prototypical Japanese wrestlers wrestling under honour, class and dedication to those who came before them, Omega is a perfect yang to their yin (yes, I realize that is Chinese). Omega is the stereotypical boisterous foreigner who often talks a lot more than he backs it up (although, he’s been backing it up lately) and the rude guy who could care less about Japanese customs and culture in the wrestling ring and just wants to perform a mass takeover however he can get it. With the stoic Tanahashi Omega proves a nice foil and one going forward that hopefully can maintain his position that he attained. Sure, Omega is goofy and doesn’t present the immediate qualities of a serious consistent main eventer, but sometimes in dire needs the thing you constantly glaze over may just be the perfect antidote that you’ve had under your nose this whole time.

After finally dispatching of Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom, Okada needed a new opponent, at least one for the time being, and Hirooki Goto proved to be the perfect stop gap. No question Goto had no chance of winning, and of course he didn’t, they had a pretty good match all things considered, but after this defeat in Osaka and pinning him the next night I don’t see this feud lasting much longer. I’d love to see Tetsuya Naito get a run at the belt and at least a decent program against the champ, especially since they’ve been building up Los Ingobernables de Japón.

Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii had another classic match, which you could argue was just as great as their Wrestle Kingdom match. You could literally only show me Shibata/Ishii matches for the rest of my life and I would die happy. I’m so glad Shibata is finally getting a run with a belt and don’t see any reason to take it off him for a long while, and only doing so to build someone up or elevate a blood feud with Shibata. Whoever it may be, the bar has been set and you’d expect nothing less than a war to pry the belt out of Shibata’s hands.

I still have no clue why they introduced the NEVER Openweight 6-Man tag team belts as they flopped around in these two events and seemingly get won each match they’re in. It doesn’t do to well for the status of your belt when it’s constantly being flip-flopped from team to team and has no staying power or relevance, deeming it useless.

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows continued finishng their last few dates in the company, as they, too, are off to WWE leaving the NJPW tag division further damaged as I don’t know who Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma’s next opponents are, especially since they got that dumb 6-man belt floating around, ugh.

So, all in all it was a solid group of shows and one that did a good job reshuffling the deck and starting to put some pieces into play for how the rest of the year is shaping up given all the departures and turmoil put upon the company over the last month and a bit. This is NJPW, though, and any other company I’d be nervous if they were put in this booking position *cough*WWE*cough*, but they have the track record to show that it’s nothing to worry about and these two events that clearly show the ship is headed in the right direction and the stormy conditions don’t look as bad as they previously thought.

‘Hail, Caesar!’: Review

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Due to my avoiding of as much of the trailers and released promotional materials as possible of movies nowadays, my view of Hail, Caesar! was a bit skewed. Ironically, I saw this trailer a ton from going to the theatre a ton over the past few months, probably more than others, and it mainly outlined the story of George Clooney’s top star actor of the 1950s character of Baird Whitlock being abducted by this mysterious group while Josh Brolin’s Eddie Mannix, an influencer in Hollywood, was tasked with getting him back, and then with this being a Coen’s brothers movie we’d be introduced to a cavalcade of wacky characters and such along the way. While this is true, the film is more specifically about filtering the eyes of Hollywood through Mannix’s eyes by going through all these Hollywood specific problems he has to deal with, with Whitlock’s kidnapping just another element of it.

In the end, it’s not much of a spoiler, but the whole Whitlock kidnapping is a non-starter. He gets abducted by some Communists, is a little unsure of everything, but then eventually becomes swayed by their ideals and then he just eventually gets rescued while the Communists are out dropping one of their members off on a Russian sub (yep). There is no big showdown, fist or gun fight or one-on-one battle, nope, Whitlock just gets rescued being left alone in his captor’s house, and that’s that for what you originally would think would be the main thrust of the picture.

Of course there are other stories, including Hobie Doyle an actor specifically skilled to play basic cowboy roles being thrust into a serious dramatic role which includes things he’s not used to like speaking… He thus finds himself more embroiled in stereotypical “Hollywood” in getting set up on dates to make his image look good and just generally trying to get by in the business on his good boy charm. Scarlett Johansson is in briefly as DeeAnna Moran a famous star whose new pregnancy causes the studio to scramble to cover it by hooking her up with a partner or making her adopt her own kid to look good in PR. We see a glimpse of Channing Tatum’s character of Burt Gurney who of course is a skilled dancer and singer and of course ends up being the leader of the Communists who abducted Whitlock and the same guy who gets dropped off at the sub.

Writing out these storylines they seem kinda boring and seemingly having no juice to use as a storyline in a movie where really not much actually happens or even really that much positive or negative and everything really just ends up pretty neutral at the end of things. This being the Coen’s it’s not that straightforward and tedious, where going through the ride of the film it eventually becomes quite evident that it’s very happy to remain so small, and never is a big sweeping epic with large plot or scene set pieces (besides the literal films), but everything works fine enough that way. Everything is very small scale and eventually reverts back to the status quo, something I’m sure that was prevalent in the minds of the Coen’s when they made this a commentary of Hollywood at the time and the business in general.

In other hands this wouldn’t work so well, but the Coen’s are skilled enough to make the small-scale minutiae work so well and the cast is all game and so seemingly of the area that they make everything work where their commitment would cover holes, if any. On first glance it still feels like one of the lesser Coen films, even though there is a lot to like in what they generally do with their lighter films, but is still a worthy addition to their catalogue, especially with the ones where they like to put the fun out forefront with the more serious issues bubbling just underneath.