Suicide-Squad-Movie-Cast-CostumesPeople way smarter than me have made great points as to the problems with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. To be fair, all we’ve seen so far are a couple of trailers and some leaked footage and that’s hardly enough information to use in judging an entire film. But the points seem solid. Here are some of the most popular theories, paraphrased by me.

  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too dark. As in, physically too dark. The massive color correction and dulled tone of the movie essentially cast the two heroes in exactly the same light. When both sides of battle look exactly the same, it’s hard to know what each side is bringing to the battle.
  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too dark. Patton Oswalt perfectly summed up the emotional darkness that seems to be all over the movie by saying, “In the Justice League, you have one brooding character – Batman. Everybody is supposed to be colorful and obvious.” So far, all the promotional material seems to show Wonder Woman and Aquaman both just brooding and sullen as the two main characters.
  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too soon. I’m expecting Affleck to do a good job on Batman. I was a doubter at first, but he’s a solid actor and now has a few films under his belt as a director, which I think can only help matters. But I don’t think you can recast a superhero this quickly. It doesn’t matter if we liked Christian Bale or not…what matters is that his Batman is still relatively solidified in our memories. You need time if you’re gonna’ reboot a character.

I’m hoping the BATMAN/SUPERMAN movie is phenomenal, but I’m expecting SUICIDE SQUAD to actually be the better movie.

  • The reboots are in smaller chunks. Yes, there’s a new Joker, but there’s no way Leto’s gonna’ get near the screen time that Heath Ledger did. The number of characters in SUICIDE SQUAD will prevent that. Same with any Batman cameos.
  • Lesser known brand means fewer expectations. We saw this in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – most of us walked in having no clue what to expect. And we were surprised. Same with the squad.
  • Harley Quinn. She’s the sleeper star of the DC Universe and far more nuanced that lots of other heroes and villains. If Margot Robbie nails this portrayal, we’ll have witnessed the first substantial female DC villain since Michele Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. (And that one wasn’t even that good.) Would love to see the filmmaker build the whole movie around Harley, but I think it’s going to be Joker chewing all the scenery. (Jack Nicholson, anyone?)
  • At this point, it looks more colorful. A purple Lamborghini, Batman’s in a lighter gray suit and there’s rumor of the original jester costume for Harley.


Okay, time for the shameless ploy to get comments:
Which one are you looking forward to most?
In a perfect world (box office receipts aside) which movie will be the better viewing experience?


showposterThe pilot episode, “Class of Beverly Hills,” is listed as Episode Zero, which was an initial surprise. Considering however, how much a show changes between its pilot and its actual television run, the zero designation makes sense. Zero through two means that I’m now three episodes in, and still intrigued by the show.

Oh, it’s ridiculous alright, but there’s still something pretty compelling about these characters. I’m still trying to figure out what it is, though.

Episode 0, The Class Of Beverly Hills

  • The episode is 90+ minutes long. It’s like a TV movie. (in more than just length)
  • There’s a lot of story in the pilot episode. Too much, in fact. In addition to the general expositional setup of the Walsh family’s move to California, there are back stories for Steve, Kelly and Andrea.
  • The characters are all over the map – halfway through the episode, we see a chemistry teacher becomes a music lover, the Walsh parents are pretty much non-entities and Brandon’s identity has at least three separate starts and stops.
  • The theme song is there, but it isn’t. The familiar electric guitar riff hasn’t come to life yet. Instead the score is a sappy blend of piano and synthesizer tracks.
  • There are significant tone challenges – West Beverly High is the coolest/richest school as well as the most academically challenging school? That felt way too handy.
  • And yet somehow, it works. For all its weirdness and the unsure footing of its characters, it’s the perfect show for the 90’s. Two highly moral, fish-out-of-water characters have to face down questions of integrity and character is a culture where morality seems relative.

Episode 1, The Green Room

  • I don’t know how much time elapsed between the pilot taping and Episode 1, but it was apparently long enough for Jason Priestly to get a haircut and Brian Austin Green to get his growth spurt. All of the players in this thing look substantially older than they were in Ep. 0.
  • Dylan shows up. He’s a rebel from day one. How do we know? Why, because he wears overalls with one strap unbuttoned, that’s why! They went a little too hard on the whole surfer-guy-who-lives-alone-and-reads-poetry-but-also-parties thing. I like Dylan’s character, but it feels a little overwhelming at first glance.
  • They start an interesting thing with Brandon and Brenda’s mom, who is struggling with the new town and lack of friends. Once again, it feels like they’re trying to do much in the episode – we’ve got enough drama with the kids!
  • The story line is pretty dumb, but we see the beginnings of Brandon as mature-hero-good-guy that was alluded to in Ep. 0. Brenda’s still a one-note player, the focus being on the materialistic aspect of their move.

Episode 2, Every Dream Has Its Price (Tag)

  • A primarily Brenda/Mom tale, with Brenda still whining about money and Mom forced to believe the worst about her daughter in the absence of any friends or Dad as counsel.
  • Interesting addition of “Tiffany” opposite Brenda. Were they still experimenting with leads here? Dylan was sparse, Donna was absent and Andrea had two lines, at best. I read way too much about TV online, but I agree with what most TV writers seem to be saying – this sort struggling, toneless, feel-your-way-through method of television would never succeed now. Guess the 90’s weren’t all bad.
  • We finally get a couple whole-family scenes which, though sappy, seemed to anchor the show in its middle years.


Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_posterI loved Mark Millar’s The Secret Service comic. It was weird and funny and bold for your standard spy-novel comic. I didn’t get to see the film adaptation when it came out, but heard a few people (I trust) say something very similar about the movie.

Film critics who had also read the comic made sure, however, to warn comic fans that the story deviated significantly from the book. I was glad for that warning – it protected me from fanboy shock and allowed me to enjoy the movie on its own merits.


There are two types of spy-movie fans: traditionalists and anarchists. Traditional audiences are why James Bond movies still succeed. Even the most ambitious of Bond films still holds to a few types. A lone, solitary government agent who lives a life of almost perfect discipline and who is adept in every social context foils the plans of a unsuspicious individual whose desire for power and/or revenge has made him/her into a villain. Even spy movies outside the Bond franchise hold to these cliches.

Anarchists want to blow the whole system apart. Give us a messy spy, give us a spy who’s not good at his job, give us a villain we can’t sympathize with…make it weird! This is quite hard, it seems, because so few spy movies with surreal tones have succeeded in the world at large.


In the comic, Millar’s the anarchist. He’s doing things we don’t expect and telling the story he wants to tell. It makes for a colorful, constantly surprising, laughable spy story (which are in short supply!) But no movie could be that odd and still go for a mainstream popcorn movie crowd, right?

This one does.

I loved Kingsman because it found a way to thread the needle. It kept the weird, dark, fantasy-world of the book but pillared them with solid spy-movie expectations. Consider a few examples (no spoilers) of tradition meeting anarchy.

  • The stoic, socially acceptable, impeccably trained spy does amazing things. As done his unprepared, offensive, intuitive counterpart. Neither one of them carry the mission alone.
  • The villain has an odd agenda but also has a comical henchman.
  • The spy agency has been influential in world affairs for years but has done so under weird auspices (even for a spy movie.)

This duality comes up again and again in the movie, which is perfect for the movie fan who likes both types of espionage storytelling. As to whether the world at large likes a movie that works so hard at straddling the serious and the surreal, who knows? But it was just silly enough to get this spy movie fan excited.

*One last thought. I don’t like to be the old man about stuff like this – you don’t often hear me going, “that movie would’ve been perfect without all them CURSE WORDS!” But I gotta’ say the sex joke that bookended the final action sequence was pretty lazy. Crude for sure, but also lazy. In writing, shouldn’t even our jokes propel the narrative? Do we really think Eggsy wouldn’t have gone running into battle without that joke setup?


showposterA few weeks ago, I heard a podcast off-handedly mention that all of the Beverly Hills 90210 episodes are now available on Amazon Prime. In that same conversation, the podcast mentioned a podcast dedicated solely to the watching/recapping of every episode.

Now, I can’t remember what I was doing at that time or where I was, but I can remember thinking I CAN FINALLY WATCH 90210.

Here’s the backstory: up until I was 16 or 17, my family never had cable-TV. We had three channels, and two of them hardly worked because we were using “rabbit ears” to get the broadcast signal. But my grandparents had cable.

I loved my grandparents for lots of reasons, and cable-TV was definitely one of them. I would beg to stay with them so I could watch all these wild shows I heard friends talking about. By the time 90210 became a household name, my grandparents owned a VCR and I decided to tape as many episodes as I could. What resulted was a miscellaneous collection of episodes strung out over numerous season with no narrative connection. But I watched ’em anyway.

When I heard about Amazon, I decided to do a little experiment – I would watch every episode and try to figure out why I was so intrigued by this show. I may not make it – the thing was on the air for 10 years – but I’m gonna’ see if the nostalgia is as strong as I expect.