The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Speed Reading! – The Flash #37

“The Savage World of the Speed Force!”

“The Savage World of the Speed Force!”

The parallel stories of the two Flashes continue in this issue.  We first find “present-day” Barry in the Speed Force with his new friend Selkirk.  They approach the latter’s settlement housing several other time-lost people trapped in this world.  After a brief battle between the settlers and a group of pre-historic robot creatures, Flash is determined to get back to Central City, and Selkirk indicates that is possible if they make it to the top of a very large mountain.

If it was possible to escape this version of the Speed Force, how come no one else here tried it before?  Or is Flash the only one who ever wondered about it?  Or, how does Selkirk know that it is a possibility?  Lots of unanswered questions that Flash seems to just accept.  He doesn’t know these people and, so far, things are just too good to be true.  Flash, in this New 52 series, has been through too much to just be this trusting so quickly with a new group of people.  It can be tough to buy into.

In addition to that, I’m not sure I care much for this version of the Speed Force.  The take they have with it is just too mundane.  Instead of the Speed Force being a mysterious place with some sort of hidden magic behind it, it comes off here as some sort of lost island in the Bermuda Triangle.  I liked how the Speed Force had this mystical nature when we were first introduced to it back in issue 8 and am disappointed that it has been dropped.  I bet this was done so each writer/writing team can do their own spin on it without contradicting each other.

Anyway, in Central City, not much happens.  Future Flash acts like a jerk in front of Patty when she has some sympathy for the guy who he killed in the previous issue is brought into the morgue, Patty discovers (based on Barry’s tip), a whole host of bodies from the Forever Evil siege, and a new horse and carriage-themed bad guy appears and kills his jerk of a passenger (who, frankly, probably deserved it in the grand scheme of things).

Much of this is set-up, obviously, but with that last bit, I am assuming this is Overlord, who was teased last month and on this month’s cover.  For a character given a lot of teases to, they really sort of make him an afterthought in this issue.  They don’t even refer to him as Overlord.  I had to re-read it a few times to get that this was him.  Sure, he is going to be showing up some more next month, but still it seemed odd to prop him up and not do much with it.

A very uneven issue.  Booth is back on art duties full-time, and that was good. The writing here could probably have used a bit more ironing out.  The problems are minor, but, I think, could have been fixed at the editorial stage.

Next: Meet Napalm, the World’s Worst Rogue!

Speed Reading! – The Flash #36

Yeah….it has been a while, hasn’t it? The Flash hasn’t been the only one “trapped in the savage Speed Force” since October. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. But, I’m back, and I’m all about getting caught up!

“Castaways”

When we last left The Flash, Future Flash was stuck in the present, Future Wally is dead, and Barry was stuck in the past. Jams abound. Turns out that Barry was thrown into the Speed Force (but a different area of the Speed Force than what we have seen before), and Future Flash de-aged twenty years to pass as his current-day self (how convenient).

Barry meets Selkirk, a man who is part of (leads?) a settlement of other people who have been sucked into the Speed Force from the past and present (time has no meaning here). They battle their way to the settlement, fighting dinosaurs and future robots.

Meanwhile, Future Flash gets creepy with Patty and assumes Barry’s life. This causes various misunderstandings throughout the day as Future Flash misremembers some details from his life 20 years earlier such as thinking he is good buddies with Director Singh when the opposite couldn’t be more true (perhaps one day).

Eventually, Future Flash decides to kill would-be villains before they can become villains.

All this is pure set-up. By the end of last issue, I was kind of done with the Future Flash, but at least the story has been reset and going in a new direction. Though I do feel that there is some repetition here from the previous run. It wasn’t that long ago when Barry was stuck in the Speed Force and disappeared from the public eye. Granted, there is enough happening here to keep things fresh, but there is still a feeling of redundancy.

I still like Brett Booth’s art. Loves how he draws the Flash. For whatever reason, he needed an assist with this issue. I have to give DC a thumbs up for paring Booth with Andre Coelho whose art is style is close to Booth’s. So much so that I didn’t realize that two artists were used until I took a closer look.

So, that’s that. I have really nothing else to say about this issue. Let’s see where this goes.

Next: Overload!

Summer Movie Preview (2015 Edition)

Every summer, we have done a Summer Movie Preview. As many have noticed, we have been a little lax around here over the past few months. Life, you know. Hell of a thing.

We are already in the nuttiness of summer movies. I want to take a look of what is coming up and just my few thoughts on them.

summer2015Already Out:

Furious 7 – Zack already saw this, but I missed it (so far). I was jacked to see it, but it seems like people have already forgotten about it despite the huge marketing push.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Sigh. I want to be excited about these Marvel films, but the vocal minority hardcore fans make it extremely difficult as they are insufferable. I really don’t care. I’m sure I’ll see it eventually, but it isn’t a high priority.

Coming Soon:

Max Max: Fury Road – I have absolutely zero interest in this. The previews, for me, make it seem like they are trying just too hard to be cool. I guess tainting my view is the fact that, suddenly, everyone online is a Mad Max fan and “always have been.” No you haven’t.

Pitch Perfect 2 – Yeah, this is a sequel that probably didn’t need to happen. Still, I’m too much of an Anna Kendrick fan to pass it up.

Tomorrowland – Disney keeps trying to find the next Pirates of the Caribbean. I know that director Brad Bird is something of a fan favorite, but nothing about this film interests me, and the previews haven’t shown enough promise (SFX aside).

Spy – Another Melissa McCarthy/Paul Feig comedy in the vein of their previous film collaborations. I want this to be good given the supporting cast of Jason Stratham and Jude Law, but it might be a Red Box rental if anything.

Jurassic World – It looks like they took everything from the original Jurassic Park, junked the good stuff, and kept the shlock. Nothing inherently bad about that for an action film with dinosaurs, but I can’t help but think it’ll be another Jurassic letdown.

Inside Out – I can’t get a feel for this, but it is Pixar and they have a pretty solid track record (even if there projects from the last 5-10 years haven’t been as golden as they use to be. Plus, a really fun voice cast. I’m down.

Ted 2 – I liked the first one enough, and having seen it endlessly on FX lately, I’d all for a follow-up. Like the original, I’ll just keep my expectations low and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

Magic Mike XXL – The first was a surprise hit both commercially and critically. Even though Steven Soderbergh isn’t directing this time around, he is still involved with the production as editor and cinematographer. I still am perplexed on where they can take the story as the first film had a pretty clear ending.

Terminator Genisys – At one point, this was the movie I was looking the most forward to this summer. Sure, it seemed cheesy, but it looked fun. However, my excitement for the film has dwindled tremendously since the recently released second trailer spoiled some of the major twists in the movie (good twists, but would have been better if kept for the film).

The Fantastic Four – A lot of hate has been leveled at this film for taking a, seemingly, unorthodox take on the Marvel Comics property (and that Michael B. Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm – why is that even an issue?). Not helping matters are reported production problems and problems in general with director Josh Trank. Part of me wants this film to do well as I do like to root for the underdog, but I can’t say I’m too jazzed about the film.

The Man from UNCLE – This movie looks like it could be a lot of fun, but I can’t help but feel it’ll get lost in the shuffle this summer.

That’s this summer.  Usually there are a bunch of films that look interesting to me each summer.  2015 is not shaping up to be anything exciting.  I really feel that if I miss any of these films, I won’t be missing out on anything.  That is disappointing for me.  I like to be excited by the big budget summer flicks.  Maybe 2016 will be better.

~N

Trek Tuesday: Name the Film

I know I said last time that I’d be doing more Trek Tuesday entries in 2015, that didn’t happen. Life has been even more crazy. But, I think, life has been calming down, so I’m going to get back to it! And there is a lot to talk about.

The big news that was released about a month ago is that the new movie is going to be called Star Trek Beyond. I instantly liked it. Sure, it is probably a meaningless title (like Into Darkness was), but it sounds cool and, as strange as this might seem, sounds very Star Trek.

beyondIt also sounds, in an odd way, optimistic. One of the things Star Trek is known for is displaying an optimistic view of the future where people get along and petty differences are put aside for the greater good, and many of the films do deal with these themes. However, many of the subtitles for the films have been the opposite of optimistic. Into Darkness, Wrath of Khan, Insurrection, Nemesis – they are all kind of dark or dark-sounding. And just modern blockbuster films today in genera tend to have darker-sounding titles (which is one of the reasons I didn’t care for the Into Darkness title). It has been a movie title cliché (along with the words of “rise” and “revenge”). Star Trek Beyond is just so refreshing to hear as the title for summer movie.

It also sounds unique and is catchy – which is great marketing.

I really like it, and I am excited about this film. I have high hopes for it. Just little over a year away!

Focus – I Actually Did See This

A million years ago, it feels like, I saw the Will Smith film Focus in theaters. Life has been hectic, and I am honestly surprised that I even remembered that I saw this film. I realize that sounds like of damming, but I don’t mean that to me. Focus is not like the typical film that Will Smith would headline. Smith still plays a very Will Smith-type character – smartass charmer with a heart of gold. Focus is not a big, bombastic film with multiple action sequences. Instead, it is much more character focused, and that is where it really succeeds.

focusSmith plays a big-time con artist who begins to tutor and then fall for an up-and-comer played by Margrot Robbie. During their adventures together, the pull off a few major cons which are amazingly entertaining. I love a good heist film, and Focus doesn’t fail in that regard (especially when is plays with the audience’s expectation/interpretation of events).

Despite my enjoyment, the film does suffer from “two-in-one” syndrome. What that means is that Focus follows our characters on one story, but then completely switches gears to focus on something completely different mid-way through. It almost feels like Focus started out as two scripts that were then merged together. One can argue that the film is really about the Smith and Robbie’s characters and their relationship, but the transition in the film is very jarring and distracting. That said, Smith and Robbie are really great in this. They have an amazing chemistry that allows the film to elevate above some of the narrative issues. Smith is established, but I really look forward to seeing Robbie’s rising star in other things.

This is Smith’s first leading role since the 2012 flop After Earth. I am not surprised he decided to do something completely different. I’m glad he did. Smith is a much better actor than I think the general public currently views him as. With him doing these smaller films, he is really able to shine much more than a big blockbuster. I hope he continues to do more of these smaller films.

The Gorehound Reviews: WolfCop (’14)

Such a terrific entry among the ilk of bad movies, Full Moon Picture features, and cheesy creature features. Wolfcop is completely entertaining and worth every minute. The levels of gore reach maximum capacity in every good way. Horror-haters will still be appalled but this movie isn’t targeted towards all fans of cinema, it’s for those who look far and wide for the monsters that we love to watch. It’s certainly not for everybody, but appeals to the all horror hounds around.wc1

The story follows a drunkard sheriff (Leo Fafard), being tasked to figure out the killer of some recent murders. Until he is actually infected and transforms into the big bad wolfie halfway through the film, we get to know all the other characters, many who contribute to the conclusion of the film. As the story unravels, we discover that shapeshifters (i.e., werewolf enemies) are the killers and the wolfcop is determined to dish out some lycanthropic justice. It’s a simple, perhaps too simple, story that is easy to grasp. This may be one of the few faults of the film. It’s not expected to be much, which isn’t bad, but sets a ceiling that the movie can’t break through.

Leo Fafard, the actor who plays the wolfcop is wonderful. Completely believable as the town drunk and also as a sheriff, he carries this film. His drinking is over the top and there are enough funny moments for this to qualify as a horror comedy, more along the lines of Evil Dead 2, than compared to Shaun of the Dead. It’s not self-aware but embraces the beauty of the genre with a straightforward script and focus on the bloody shots. None of the other characters really stand out.

The Gorehound was cautious about no sight of the wolfcop until halfway through, but once he is presented, the action doesn’t stop until the end. The ability for the wolfcop to speak brings his humanity full circle. It’s not just a monster that remains “the monster”, but his ability to speak and interact with his pre-wolfcop friends similarly, allows his character to grow.

This movie doesn’t appear low-budget. There are actual effects, blood, and gore. The music is certainly entertaining and fits well into the film, especially that ending song. It’s songs like that which stick around after the film and come to mind when thinking of the film. Like that Howard the Duck ending song? Brilliant.

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Wolfcop taking down a brewwwwwwski!

The Gorehound is looking forward to the sequel. This is an excellent entry into the horror genre. It’s disappointing that the movie couldn’t have been drawn out to a full hour and thirty (maybe even two!). Regardless, this is a unique entry in that this werewolf is still a contributing member of society and isn’t cornered into the antiquated view of a wolfman. 4/5

The Gorehound Reviews: Exodus: Gods and Kings (’14)

From the same director as Blade Runner, we have the story of Moses and his leading of the Hebrew people from Egypt. It’s no action film like Gladiator (which is certainly better) nor Noah (which is comparable on different fronts), the former of which was directed by Ridley Scott. Primarily for the reason of a lackluster central character, this film falls quite a bit.

2One of things this movie has going for it is the story is very good. It’s fast-paced for the majority it but there certainly are lulls. Likely a strike against the film when considering general audiences but this film does carry with it a hefty runtime of 150 minutes. Fortunately, the Gorehound loves longer movies as it allows more time of entertainment and story. The Gorehound’s favorite scenes were of the locusts, frogs, etc., bravo!

The actors do not fit their roles. None of the characters are of any middle-eastern descent. The Gorehound is not a fan of Christian Bale for a few reasons including his angry rant and his depiction of Batman, nor does the Gorehound think he is attractive in any way. Sigourney Weaver really does not fit her role. Another aggravation is the characters use of english. This really prevents the Gorehound from delving into the story. It would be one thing if the story had a different take, but it’s nearly taken straight from the bible, without alteration. Noah told the story from the bible and more, taking a different perspective and therefore allowing more liberties to be taken.

Directed by one of the best directors ever (strictly Gorehound’s opinion), Ridley Scott, this flick is very pretty. The visuals and scenes are worthy. The music fits right in. In a category of scenery and sets, this is an 5/5, but unfortunately for this flick, too much goes astray.

The plagues and locusts were so well done because they seemed so natural, as it likely would have happened. The events aren’t magical, but rather natural. With a person serving as a scientist in that time to explain, what they believe to be happening, the audience can see the Egyptians trying to understand and combat the will of God.

Exodus-Gods-And-Kings-e1412220804741

The character’s personalities aren’t truthful. Moses and Ramses don’t act like brothers, Moses and his wife don’t act like spouses. I know this is ancient history but I don’t see the point of bringing so much attention to these relationships when it doesn’t really matter.

Despite the plethora of bad reviews, the Gorehound gave this movie a chance. It’s got the director and story going for it, but lacks fitting characters and fails to intertwine the script, story, and characters. 2/5

I saw Furious 7

Last weekend, Furious 7 opened to massive numbers. Originally planned for a Summer 2014 release, Furious 7 suffered production issues after the death of series co-star Paul Walker. The latest installment of the long-running car-centric franchise, buoyed by a curiosity factor surrounding the aforementioned untimely death of the likeable Paul Walker and the rumor that this may be the final installment (fingers crossed that it isn’t), drew in massive crowds, earned an ‘A’ Cinemascore, and was well-received by critics (81% score on Rotten Tomatoes). I liked it quite a bit as well, though I ultimately have some reservations.

Furious-7

One of the most interesting aspects of Furious 7 is how it is able to organically incorporate so much of the series’ past into this newest installment. Dwayne Johnson is back as is Michelle Rodriguez. Johnson’s role in Furious 7 is smaller than in Fast Five or Fast and Furious 6, and I imagine that, if future installments are produced, he may be written out entirely. But he is always a welcomed presence. Lucas Black, not seen since 2006’s Tokyo Drift, makes a welcomed cameo as well. Of course, the story still revolves around Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, though Diesel gets nearly the full brunt of the action this time around. Diesel has long been the heart and soul of the franchise, and that doesn’t change here.

The action spectacle in Furious 7 is also top-notch. The film’s budget, estimated at about 250 million, is bloated for sure, but at least the bloat can be seen on-screen. This film features some of the most outrageous stunts ever put to celluloid. The Abu Dhabi action sequence is absolutely amazing, for example. This is also the kind of film that will feature a man driving a car down a mountain and I swear you will not blink at its incredulity. It is fascinating just how far this franchise has come in terms of spectacle, and on a pure spectacle level Furious 7 is absolutely amazing. There isn’t a single action sequence in this film that doesn’t work. I am quite frankly amazed by that. The actors completely sell it as well. I am sure Vin Diesel would have an awesome career as a professional wrestler were he not an action star.

Where the film really suffers is in its lack of a clear villain. Jason Statham, who is awesome in everything, is not given enough screen time to be the kind of villain the movie needs him to be. Things start well enough, with Statham assaulting an entire hospital to get to his brother and promise revenge, but Statham really ends up as more a nuisance throughout the film and not much else. Djimon Hounsou plays a secondary villain, but his screen time is even less so than Statham’s, and there’s no real motivation behind the character other than a misguided sense of revenge. The villains serve the plot well enough, but they could have been so much more. Maybe I just wanted more Jason Statham on screen at all times (this is an acceptable request).

As a troubled production, it was entirely possible for Furious 7 to come out a complete mess. No one could have blamed this film for being crappy if it had ended up badly. The death of Paul Walker was obviously hard on the production, and especially hard on the actors, who had real chemistry with Walker. But director James Wan (in his first big budget feature) does an admirable job. The film features the best stunt work seen in the franchise to date, and Vin Diesel is the glue that holds the entire production together. I am surprised it ended up being as good as it is considering the circumstances. It is another day one Blu-Ray purchase for me, and even though the franchise is long in the tooth, to be honest I wouldn’t mind another one. I just wish Paul Walker were still around. He’ll be missed*.

 

***Spoiler Warning***

 

The movie ends with a very touching tribute to Paul Walker, featuring a montage of scenes of him throughout his time with the franchise. Diesel gives him a very heartfelt send-off at the very end of the film. It is incredibly touching, sad, and well done. I teared up a bit at the montage and I am glad it was included in the theatrical version of the film. It was an incredibly classy and respectful way to send off Paul Walker.

Retrospecticus: The Final Two Seasons of The Office

I don’t know why, but I have been compelled as of late to re-watch the final few seasons of The Office. It might be because I recently caught a clip of Steve Carrell and was instantly reminded of the downturn the show took almost immediately after he departed it late in 2011 to start making more movies. Maybe I had been giving the final few seasons a bad rap as well, and I wanted to go back and check them out to see if there were any gems I indeed missed. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I became committed to checking them out.

office

So I did. I immediately began with the Will Ferrell arc, which were Carrell’s last few eps, and just tore through the show from there. I remembered Will Ferrell’s time on the show, where he portrayed incompetent manager D’Angelo Vickers, as being completely horrible. I was not wrong. Ferrell is a gifted comic actor and has made some of the strongest comedies of the last 15 years (Step Brothers and The Other Guys are two of my favorite movies of their respective years). Ferrell just did not fit in with the rest of the cast of the show, and honestly his character was just there as a high-profile placeholder until the writers could figure out what to do with the direction of the program.

After Ferrell’s stint on The Office came to an end, the show toyed with the idea of doing interviews with multiple celebrities to see who might end up as a good fit to replace Carrell. The actors in the race included Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, Catherine Tate, Will Arnett, and James Spader. Obviously someone like Carrey, a bonafide movie star, probably wasn’t going to be a long-term replacement and was really more of a stunt-casting/cameo, but it wouldn’t have been out of place for Arnett or Romano to realistically join the cast of the show. In retrospect, Romano may have been a good replacement, but who knows how that would’ve turned out.

At the time, I remember being completely soured on Catherine Tate, and I had heard rumors she was the front-runner. I enjoyed, however, James Spader’s odd-ball appearance as the intense Robert California, and I hoped he would win the role of Carrell’s replacement. When it was announced that Spader would be joining the cast, I remember being somewhat elated at the news. I had no idea, but that would quickly change. Eventually, Tate did show up on The Office, and was even briefly manager of the Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre branch in Scranton, PA. She would never not be annoying.

When The Office returned to the Fall schedule for the 2011-12 television season without Carrell, it was revealed that Spader’s California character had been hired on, except that he would be replacing Kathy Bates’ character, Jo Bennett, as CEO of Sabre, and that Ed Helms’ character Andy Bernard would become the branch manager in Scranton. This served two purposes: it allowed Bates to gracefully exit the show so she could continue work on her CBS series Harry’s Law, and it also served to placate fans by putting Andy in charge and keeping Spader as a recurring guest star. Again, none of these decisions would really work out in the long term.

Many people would blindly point to the final season of The Office, which aired in the 2012-13 television season, as the worst in the show’s history. I would contend, however, that the penultimate season is actually far worse. It is in this year that Andy Bernard becomes truly repulsive as a character, Pam and Jim’s smug behavior grows completely out of control, and side-characters like Erin the receptionist and Kevin Malone, the “Falstaffian” accountant, become total caricatures and parodies of themselves. Minor characters like BJ Novak’s Ryan and Mindy Kaling’s Kelly also totally grow out of the roles and have very little to say or do, and basically no importance in any of the long-term arcs of the season.

The worst of that penultimate season, however, has to be the show’s ill-considered Florida arc, where a handful of the office staff is sent to Florida under orders of Robert California to help open a Sabre-themed retail space similar to the popular Apple stores. This Florida arc does little but make the characters even more insufferable, as it places long-loved characters like John Krasinski’s Jim into totally implausible scenarios. We know that Jim will never cheat on his wife, and to force Jim into a scenario would that would even be a possibility was almost offensive to me as a viewer. The Florida arc also serves to make Andy and Ryan even less likable, Erin even dumber (which I thought was basically impossible), and it completely turned Dwight Schrute into a monster.

When that arc ended, Andy eventually loses his job to Catherine Tate’s character for reasons too inexplicable and dumb to even list here. Robert California seems to go out of his way to revel in the destruction of the company he was hired to run, to the point where he closes down branches of Dunder Mifflin/Sabre after drunken binges. Nellie becomes somehow even more insufferable and annoying, and Andy is made out to be a completely moron, so much so that when he does find redemption, he isn’t even really given his redemptive moment, and he never really gets the chance to find his comeuppance against Nellie and California. Eventually, a deus ex machina allows former Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace to buy the company after a liquidation by Jo Bennett, for pennies on the dollar.

It is at this point, the final season, that The Office is allowed to somewhat return to a status quo. Andy Bernard is still in charge, but it seems characters like Dwight, Jim, and Pam basically return to who they were before the disastrous eighth season. We finally see the sales team actually going on sales calls and making real sales. Andy leaves the office for a good chunk of episodes as Ed Helms was filming The Hangover Part 3. This allows the show to air a pretty solid number of actually funny and interesting episodes (though there were still a number of stinkers – “Work Bus” anyone?). Unfortunately, two things hinder the final season from being pretty good, if not a complete return-to-form to at least season six or seven (it was never going to be as good as it was in Carrell’s heyday).

The first thing holding that final season back is the intrusion of the documentary crew into the lives of the office workers. Chris Diamantopolous (who has the worst luck of any actor ever apparently, having appeared in the lesser seasons of Community and Arrested Development as well) appears in several episodes of the show as boom mic operator Brian, who grows close enough to Pam that it feels creepy and wrong. Brian is never really developed as a character, and his sudden appearance into the show is intrusive, not particularly well explained, and totally unnecessary. It seems for a time that the show might use him as a romantic foil to get in the way of Jim and Pam, much as the temp, Cathy, from the previous season was used. But like Cathy, Brian is never used appropriately and kind of fades from the show quickly, almost as if the writers ended up feeling much like the viewers – that the character was just downright creepy.

The other thing holding back the final season of The Office is Jim’s ill-fated plan to leave Dunder Mifflin to start his own business, the “sports marketing” company Athlead. Jim’s decision to invest with the Athlead start-up is one he never made with Pam, and this leads to some dark and unwanted places on the show. The Office had spent the bulk of its existence building up Jim and Pam as the ultimate power couple. The two just belonged together. So for the writers to basically spend the final two seasons of the show finding contrived reasons to cause drama between them seemed silly and unnecessary. It is true that Pam and Jim became somewhat smug and unlikable in the later seasons, but there was never any reason to spend this much time trying to make the audience think they would ever split up.

The final few episodes of The Office’s last season, however, are pretty strong. Andy is eventually fired as manager and replaced by Dwight, who, though he became a caricature throughout the series’ run, is the best part of the last season. Dwight really shines throughout, and his oddball family and friends are likewise great when they show up in episodes like “Junior Salesman,” particularly Matt L. Jones as his cousin Zeke and Mark Proksch as the continually put-upon warehouse worker Nate (I wish both these guys would get more work). The less said about Andy the better, as his obnoxiousness and pompous idiocy continues. Andy’s goal revolves around becoming an actor/singer, but because he is totally incompetent, I was never able to buy into this storyline, let alone believe that Andy would ever succeed.

The series finale of The Office works incredibly well, returning the show to a high point. The whole office gathers for a retrospective on the long-running documentary surrounding their time as office workers in Scranton, PA. The finale has just enough nostalgia to work, and it’s great to see everyone together again. Even Carrell came back for a brief cameo as Michael Scott, showing up to Dwight’s wedding to Angela to be the best man. A lot of effort was clearly put into the finale to please long-time fans, and unlike other recent finales, The Office’s does not disappoint. Though the final season isn’t nearly as good as the glory days of the show, it is much better than anything in the Florida-arc and light years better than any of the Nellie or Robert California nonsense of season eight. Despite the late lulls, this show is rightfully considered one of the best sitcoms of all time at this point, and I’m glad the final season, particularly the finale, redeemed it a bit.

-Z-

50 Shades of Hypocritical Controversy

Over the past two and a half weeks, the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has become a monster hit earning nearly 500 million dollars (against a 40 million budget) world-wide.  This should be too much of a surprise as the source material was already pretty popular, and the film falls into that “Mom Fiction” category where films are few and far between, but when they are released, they are huge.  Also not surprising is the amount of controversy surrounding the film and its overly sexual nature.

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And therein lies the problem.  Though the movie is not my kind of movie (and why should it be?), I have no objection to it.  Different movies are made for different audiences.  I am not the target audience for Fifty Shades any more than Taken is the target audiences for high school girls.  So, my critique isn’t on the film itself, but the controversy surrounding it.  And it is completely ridiculous.

With all the controversy (don’t worry – I’ll get to it), there seems to be a lot of hypocritical views at play.  The big thing that I notice is that the film is constantly been criticized as contributing to rape culture.  While I may not necessarily agree with that, I can understand the argument.  However, if so many women are upset about the rape culture aspect, how come women also have been flocking and fawning over it (or at least the idea of it)?

The reason is that the film provides a sexual thrill that really isn’t a mainstream thing.  Despite what social justice warriors otherwise think, people aren’t stupid.  They know what they are seeing is fiction and not close to reality at all.  However, it is still fun to daydream like that and Fifty Shades of Grey provides that outlet.

Plus, if these SJW are worried about young children seeing this and getting confused, then that’s just stupid too.  For one, who is letting their children in to see a movie clearly aimed at adults?  That’s just bad parenting/theater management.  What younger girls are going to see this and think “Yep, that’s the relationship for me”?  And finally, what young boys (who, apparently, will get a misguided idea of what relationships are) are going to even want to see Fifty Shades of Grey?  It is bullshit posturing.  If a movie is going to harm a child that much, then the child has other, bigger issues to deal with.

children

It is also interesting that whenever a film has potentially graphic sex, people flip out and decry it claiming it is smut, trash.  However, if another film comes out that has graphic violence with people being riddled with bullets or blood spilling everywhere, there is a collective “meh” about it.  Wouldn’t that be more damaging to kids than sexual situations.  The even stranger thing about it is that one would assume that these complaints come from people with conservative view points.  It isn’t.  There are an equal amount of liberal idiots out there voicing how “wrong” sex is.

The bigger thing that gets me, however, is that people are quick the shame Fifty Shades for its depiction of sex, but at the same time, will jump down one’s throat if the negative aspects of pornography are brought up.  You criticize porn and you are labeled as being a prude, closed-minded, bible-thumper, and other negative stereotypes and the criticism is dismissed.  Does one not see the hypocrisy?  You cannot have it both ways.  That said, though I do not have any strong opinion on pornography one way or another, one can’t deny that it is much more harmful than anything in Fifty Shades given how degrading, misogynistic, abusive, or just plain weird it can be at times.  Fifty Shades is lightweight when compared with what you can find online and elsewhere.

And, finally, Fifty Shades has been accused of being inaccurate in its depiction of BDSM and that is damaging to people who practice it.  For starters, despite what they might say, people who are into BDSM are not an oppressed group.  They are into a kink.  Nothing more.  Secondly, who cares if it is inaccurate?  The film is meant to be a sexual fantasy; not real life.  If anything, it opens the door of BDSM to people and get them interested in the practice.  People are not going to go see the movie, race straight home, and start whipping their partner.  If anything, they will want to learn more about it before trying it out.spidy

Just like James Bond and espionage, Star Trek and science, or Fast and Furious and racing, it isn’t accurate in the least. However, it piques people’s interest to learn more about the respective subjects.

Plus, the film leans on the idea that BDSM isn’t for everyone and doesn’t promote that the titular Christian Grey in a positive way.  Though it is the movie’s hook, it isn’t really glorifying BDSM.  The fact that people are acting like BDSM is an oppressed group is embarrassing.

There have been hundreds of books and movies made before Fifty Shades of Grey that deal with risqué sexual behavior.  And hundreds are still to be made.  Why SJW are focusing their attacks on this movie and creating controversy is beyond me.  I guess it has to do with it being popular.  You can take a pot-shot at it and get away with it because it is big enough.  I suppose that’s fine, but the ridiculous and hypocritical nature behind the controversy just completely escapes me.

~N

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