‘Wonder Woman’ trailer reaction exposes intellectual bankruptcy of Paul Feig on ‘Ghostbusters’ critics

The new Wonder Woman trailer came out on Saturday and the reaction has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Facebook feeds, Twitter streams, and YouTube videos exploded with excitement at the product. What has missing over the last 24 hours is someone who points out the obvious: Paul Feig’s “slime Ghostbusters critics as sexist” strategy only demonstrated his intellectually bankruptcy.

There are not armies of men (at least in western nations) who have a problem with seeing strong women on film. That was a lie meant to divide people for Sony’s benefit.

The Wonder Woman trailer wraps a giant “lasso of truth” around Mr. Feig’s desperate attempt to save his shoddy product. You cannot get any more “girl power” than Wonder Woman, and every time a shameless Hollywood producer tries play the sexist card in the future they should be punched in the face with the collective fist of fan-approval for Wonder Woman.

‘Justice League’ trailer arrives: Fool me twice, shame on me…

The new Justice League trailer arrived today, and the good news is that it looks awesome. The bad news is that Batman v Superman looked just as amazing and then turned out to be a sloppy mess.

Zack Snyder is an strong visual artist, but at this point in his career it seems like his Achilles heel is a propensity to sign off on scripts that are half-baked.

Check out the trailer below, watch my YouTube video, and then let me know that you think about the fate of Justice League in the comments below. I really hope Warner Bros. took the fans’ criticism to heart, because overall they know what they’re talking about.

Exit question: Can any movie be bad if the trailer use’s “Icky Thump,” by the White Stripes? If Justice League doesn’t do Jack White proud then your friendly neighborhood blogger we be one angry blogger…

Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter ban exposes selective rules enforcement

Twitter has given conservative “provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos a lifetime ban. The reason: Some of his followers sent Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones racist messages. Given that your friendly neighborhood blogger was once banned from Twitter after calling out the company for not punishing the guy who threatened to kill me, I figured this story might be worth a YouTube video.

Check out the video below and let me know what you think of Milo, Twitter’s selective enforcement of its own code of conduct, online trolls, and Ms. Jones. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Update: Twitter refused to verify my account despite the fact that I’ve worked with a major newspaper in Washington, D.C., for years. Classic!

Twitter verify

Ghostbusters: Why Sony’s ‘Slime the Critics’ strategy is important

Slimer

Ghostbusters as a film is mostly forgettable, but the politics that have surrounded Sony’s project for months are something that should stay at the forefront of fans’ minds for a long time. Paul Feig and those connected with the project determined that a “Slime the Critics” strategy would pay off when it was clear that a $150 million investment was in big trouble — and it paid off. Reviewers were clearly afraid of being labeled sexists, and evidence of that is available on Rotten Tomatoes, YouTube, and across the internet.

Although I reviewed the movie opening weekend, my newest YouTube video discusses Sony’s small victory in terms of securing good reviews from political allies and moving the need in its direction with nice guys who have no desire to wade into gender politics.

Daredevil #9: Charles Soule writes modern classic with Spidey-DD team-up

DD SpiderMan

Charles Soule’s Daredevil #9 should be assigned in every “Superhero Team-up 101” class for the next century. “Blind Man’s Bluff: Part II” brings the Man Without Fear and Spider-Man together in a pitch-perfect issue. It is flawless, and therefore should be mandatory reading for all Marvel employees.

Here is what you need to know for Daredevil #9:

  • Spider-Man meets Daredevil in Macau for a casino heist. Although DD offers scant details, the web-slinger agrees to help him snag a briefcase from heavily armed guards.
  • The heroes’ ambush does not go as planned and a man carrying the suitcase escapes onto a helicopter headed for Hong Kong.
  • Daredevil and Spider-Man hitch a hydrofoil ride to the city after Spider-Man reveals that he tagged the suitcase with a spider-tracer.
  • The two track down the suitcase to an apartment building, a massive fight ensues, and Spider-Man makes off with the prize. He agrees to meet up with DD later.
  • The two men convene at the top of a building looking over the entire city. Spider-Man refuses to give up the suitcase until DD explains why he needs it — in addition to why the memories of their friendship is hazy.
  • Matt Murdock debates lying to his friend, but then comes clean: He did something to wipe everyone’s memory of his secret identity. He also needs the suitcase because it has Black Cat’s files on the entire NYC criminal underworld. He wants to take down all the major players in one fell swoop.
  • Spider-Man hands over the suitcase and warns, “Watch out for those black-costume phases. They can really do a number on you.”

Mystery. Action. Humor. Intelligence. Wit. This issue had it all. There is hope for Marvel, and Daredevil #9 proves it.

How is this for a novel idea: Two characters with a rich history actually act in character while using the superpowers that helped make them famous to keep the other guy safe.

There were no “arachno-rockets” needed, and the moment of truth — when Matt takes a leap of faith on a good man and then his decision is reciprocated — was incredibly poignant. In short, Mr. Soule demonstrated that there is still a place in the world for good storytelling.

DD9 Spidey

Perhaps the best way to describe Blind Man’s Bluff: Part II is “timeless.” The story feels like something I could have read in the 1980s as a kid, but at the same time it feels relevant now. It is a tale that I might reopen ten or twenty years from now and still enjoy. That is the sign of a good writer. That is why I continue to buy comic books, and that is why I pray to God that Mr. Soule does not get weirdly political in the future like so many of his industry peers.

Buy this book. Reward good writing. This is a comic book gem and everything about it is even sweeter because it comes from a writer who does not tell people to “eat a bag of d***s” over partisan politics.

Thank you, Mr. Soule. It has been a long, long time since a book has made me this happy, and for that I am deeply grateful.

DD SpiderMan sunrise

Ghostbusters: Kate McKinnon and crew can’t save Paul Feig’s shoddy screenplay

Erin Gilbert

The new Ghostbusters is finally in theaters, and the good news is that its first trailer (the most hated YouTube video of all time) was not an accurate predictor of the movie’s overall quality. The bad news is that Ghostbusters, like Batman v Superman, is a film that is done in by a shoddy screenplay. The cast does the best it can with writer-director Paul Fieg’s story (co-written by Katie Dippold), but no amount of improvisation can lift the product above “mildly amusing” status.

Ghostbusters Holtzmann

First off, anyone who has seen the original Ghostbusters will know how the story goes:

  • Female versions of Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz,
    Dr. Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddmore form a band of misfit do-gooders who believe the city faces a spiritual threat of gargantuan proportions.
  • City officials treat them like second-class citizens.
  • The Ghostbusters piece together a mystery and stop a paranormal apocalypse by closing a portal to the netherworld.

Bill Murray Ghostbusters

With that being said, I think it is important to review Mr. Fieg’s movie by pretending the original film never existed. If the world were never introduced to Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman, then how would critics rate this movie?

They would say the following:

  • Kate McKinnon is a firecracker. Whether one likes or dislikes her weird tics throughout the movie, there is an energy and “it” factor to “Holtzmann” that a franchise can be built on.
  • The villain, Rowan (played by Neil Casey), is hardly defined — and that is putting it nicely. His motivations are not shown — viewers are told he was “bullied” when he was younger — and his actions during the movie’s climax make no sense. He literally controls a sea of cops and military personnel, but then chooses not to do the same to the four people who clearly pose a threat to his plans.
  • Chris Hemsworth’s character, Kevin, is so stupid that he is borderline retarded. Even if he is a parody of the “bimbo secretary,” I cannot remember a single female in similar roles who came across as Dumb and Dumber-stupid. Even desperate employers would not hire the man, no matter how handsome he may be.
  • There was obviously a Michael Jackson-inspired “Thriller” scene planned for the film that was cut from the finished product and wedged into the end credits. The problem is that aspects of the scene do show up in the film, which makes the audience go, “Huh? Why are the cops and the soldiers frozen in ‘Thriller’ poses? What the heck?”
  • Tension does not exist in this film because at no point does anyone feel as though the Ghostbusters might be in real danger. They become masters of new and experimental technology fairly quickly, and the one time they appear to be in trouble the camera angle shows them with the kind of smashed faces one might see in a Ghostbusters cartoon.

Ghostbusters Abby Patty

Ghostbusters is a movie that is worth checking out on Netflix if there is nothing else to do on a Friday night, but it is not worth full price at the movie theater. It is a movie that fails not because its cast is filled with women, but because its screenplay is sloppy.

Finally, it must be mentioned that Bill Murray’s cameo will be painful to watch for anyone who enjoyed the original films. It is hard to believe the man agreed to the part unless he has serious issues with Ivan Reitman. If Mr. Fieg or anyone else associated with this re-imagining thinks they were giving the 1984 Ghostbusters a respectful tip of the hat with Mr. Murray’s cameo, then the property is in worse hands than previously thought.

If you have a little kid who really wants to see ghosts busted, then you probably should buy a cheap ticket on an early Sunday. If you don’t have kids, then my suggestion is to wait until you can check it out for little to no cost. That isn’t an “I have a thing against women” thing, it’s an “I have a thing against paying full price for muddled writing” thing.

Did you see Ghostbusters this weekend? Did you refuse to see it? Either way, let me know what you think of Sony’s tentpole film in the comments section below.

Update: Here is my latest YouTube video on Ghostbusters and why the “Slime the Critics” strategy is important.

‘Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #2’: Gage explores ‘self-fulfilling prophecy,’ recidivism, and redemption

CWII ASMII cover

Marvel’s Civil War II has been a mixed bag of good ideas and poor execution, but writer Christos Gage’s work on the project has generally been a notch above his peers. Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #2, like the issue before it, highlights just how much potential he has as a writer, even if some elements of the book are rough around the edges.

Here is what you need to know for CWII: ASM 2:

  • Spider-Man, tipped off by Ulysses, defeats a “quintronic man.” (The aftermath features a nice nod to Amazing Fantasy #15.)
  • Clayton Cole (aka, Clash) runs into an old henchman he knows, but rebuffs an offer to talk about working with the Owl.
  • Clayton eats a meal with his parents, who are seemingly rotten people. They tell their son Peter Parker is exploiting his genius, liken Clayton’s beard to a something a homeless man would sport, and say his girlfriend Donna (a single mother who works at Parker Industries as an administrative assistant), is only interested in him for his future earnings.
  • Donna breaks up with Clayton just before he asks her to marry him. She is worried about what will happen when her son learns about his criminal past.
  • Clayton explodes on a coworker and later becomes paranoid (with good reason) when Ulysses and Spider-Man act like gossipy high-school kids around him.
  • Spider-Man catches Clayton using an experimental device that can retroactively track and record sound waves. The two have an argument and Clayton storms off.
  • Mendel Stromm (aka, Robot Master), pitches a heist of Parker Industries to Clayton in a bar for henchmen. The plan is to frame Harry Osborn Lyman.
  • Peter tells Harry in a private meeting that he wants to make amends with Clayton, never realizing that the Tinkerer has been given a request to upgrade Mr. Cole’s “Clash” costume.

I mentioned in my first review that Mr. Gage added more intrigue to ASM in one issue than Dan Slott has in months. The good news is that Mr. Gage continues to creatively cross his ‘t’s’ and dot his ‘i’s’ in ways the head ASM scribe shows no interest in duplicating. The bad news is that as a reader it’s hard to witness Clayton’s behavior and not think, “Is Peter Parker the worst judge of character of all time?”

Consider this: Peter Parker’s ‘very close’ girlfriend tried to kill him, his inner circle lies to him and tries to work with corporate saboteurs, and his biggest investor (and secret santa) was the head of an international terrorist organization. He might want to have Doctor Strange check out that spider-sense one of these days, because it certainly doesn’t work during job interviews…

CWII ASMII

Overall, CWII: ASM #2 does a good job of getting readers to think about how hard it must be for an ex-convict to escape the long shadow of sins past. There is a nuance to Mr. Gage’s message about second chances and redemption that has always been absent from Mr. Slott’s work, and for that he should be commended.

At the end of the day, however, Mr. Cole largely comes across as an unsympathetic character due to his actions and the way artist Travel Foreman depicts his hair-trigger rage (an apology by the character afterwards does little to endear him to readers.)

Mendel Stromm

The best-case scenario for Mr. Cole is that he is using inside knowledge of Mendel Stromm’s attack to his advantage — as a hero. Perhaps he will set-up the villain to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to Spider-Man and Ulysses that he is a good man. There will likely be confusion along the way  — a brief fight with Spider-Man, which technically will prove Ulysses was correct — but in the end Spider-Man and “Clash” will work together to take down Robot Master.

CWII ASMII SpiderMan

What did you think of CWII: ASM #2? Do you think “Clash” will be back to his villainous ways, or will he redeem himself by double-crossing Robot Master? Let me know in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: Check out the YouTube page and subscribe if you’re into video reviews and podcasts. I plan on doing a lot more of that in the years ahead.

Nice terror is just the beginning: Bataclan torture suppression spotlights wretched western leaders

Nice France attack CNN

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 84 people this week in Nice, France, when he used a giant truck to mow down crowds during Bastille Day celebrations. Besides the multiple media outlets that called the attack a “truck crash” well after it was determined to be an act of terror, another story perfectly highlighted how woefully equipped western “thought leaders” are for dealing with the threat.

Heat Street was the first to report Friday morning that government officials in France tried to suppress knowledge of beheadings and torture that took place during the November 13, 2015, Islamic terror attacks in Paris.

The website reported:

“A French government committee has heard testimony, suppressed by the French government at the time and not published online until this week, that the killers in the Bataclan appear to have tortured their victims on the second floor of the club.

The chief police witness in Parliament testified that on the night of the attacks, an investigating officer, tears streaming down his face, rushed out of the Bataclan and vomited in front of him just after seeing the disfigured bodies.

The 14-hour testimony about the November attacks took place March 21st.

According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda. For that reason, medics did not release the bodies of torture victims to the families, investigators said.”

The most stunning exchange came when a French prosecutor implied that the injuries a grieving father was told about during his son’s autopsy (i.e., the man’s testicles where shoved in his mouth) may have been cause by shrapnel.

Prosecutor: I specify, for the sake of clarity: some of the bodies found at the Bataclan were extremely mutilated by the explosions and weapons, to the point that it was sometimes difficult to reconstruct the dismembered bodies. In other words, injuries described this father may also have been caused by automatic weapons, by explosions or projections of nails and bolts that have resulted.

Q. Would those have put a man’s balls in in his own mouth?

Prosecutor: I do not have that information.

The western world can not successfully deal with Islamic terrorism until it stops denying reality:

  • Jan 7, 2015: Charlie Hebdo attack — 12 killed.
  • Jan 9, 2015 Jewish supermarket attack — 4 killed.
  • Nov 13, 2015: Bataclan theater, Paris attacks — 130 killed.
  • March 22, 2016: Brussels, Belgium attack — 22 killed.
  • July 13, 2016: Nice attack — 84 killed.

Terrorists have used boxcutters to hijack planes and ram them into large buildings. They have used handguns and rifles. They use suicide bombers and trucks. The answer by western policymakers should not be to have 85-year-old Catholic women searched at airports, rifles banned, or “kill switches” mandated for all vehicles — and yet that is precisely the mentality that continues to pervade influential circles in academia, media, and politics.

The terror in Nice is just the beginning for Europe because its leaders are failures. The five attacks listed above were all tragic, but one should not forget that the sorrow attached has an added dimension due to the western world’s willful ignorance.

Related:

Frank Cho pushed off Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka’s ‘weird political agenda’

Wonder Woman #2

Anyone who has ever doubted that modern social-justice activists have a lot in common with the Puritans of the 1600s needs to look no further than the career trajectory of artist Frank Cho.

Comic book fans know all too well how Mr. Cho’s work makes feminist heads explode on a regular basis, but his sudden departure from Wonder Woman perfectly spotlights everything that is wrong with the industry.

Mr. Cho confirmed to Bleeding Cool on Thursday that writer Greg Rucka’s “weird political agenda” has forced him to cut short the 24 variant covers he originally planned for the book. There was allegedly friction between the two over the amount of skin shown on the artist’s variant (yes, variant) covers, but anyone who looks at them knows immediately that such a claim is absurd.

“I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible,” Mr. Cho told the website. “Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics,” (emphasis added.)

Translation: Mr. Rucka, like all the other activist-writers in the industry, seeks to punish anyone who does not march lock-step with a thuggish ideology that hides behind the rhetoric of “tolerance.”

Check out the embedded video for the full story:

Civil War II # 3: Bruce Banner goes out like a punk during superhero amateur hour

Marvel’s Civil War II #3 was released today, which means Bruce Banner is officially dead (until he’s alive again). Your friendly neighborhood blogger might do up a write-up in the future, but I figured the occasion offered a good excuse to experiment with uploading my first real YouTube review.