So anybody who saw Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view will be able to tell you that it was bad. It’s made all the worse by the fact that last year’s equivalent was probably the best “B-show” of the year (Meaning it wasn’t WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, or the Royal Rumble). WhatCulture already wrote a lovely article about the obvious stuff so I’m going to stay away from, “Oh, the Punjabi Prison is impossible to see into, and there’s strange racial implications,” and whatever. Other people have said it already and said it better. Instead, I want to talk about Battleground as a signpost of something very simple:The company continues to stay the course.
Also known as “Why fucking awful Fantastic Four movies keep coming out for some reason.”Recently Spider-Man: Homecoming actor Tom Holland revealed in an interview that according to Marvel big-wig Kevin Feige Peter Parker appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2 in a brief cameo. Some people are chuckling to themselves about it but some people are flipping their lids thinking that Marvel’s had this whole Spider-Man thing on the back burner for seven years and they’ve just been waiting to let the hype train loose from the station until now.
As a Marvel fanboy I’d love to be able to tell everyone that Kevin Feige is some kind of secret genius, but as many people already know, given Marvel’s current cinematic landscape, it was impossible for this to have been the plan all along. To explain why, we have to step back about twenty-five years.
(This article contains in-depth spoilers for Wonder Woman. You’ve been fairly warned.)
First of all, to address the title, take any joke in the film and imagine that it was plucked verbatim from a Zooey Deschanel movie. You’ll be surprised how many of them line up.
Wonder Woman was pretty great. It’s by a significant margin the best live action DC film so far. Of course, the bar is pretty low on those. I want you to bear that in mind while you read this, because I’m going to be critical of it. That’s just what I do, it’s easier for me to criticize. So, yes, you should probably go see Wonder Woman if you have a chance. It’s a good time.
So, I’ve always been a Marvel guy. I’m not sure specifically what it was about Marvel, but when I was a kid I was always way more intrigued by their aesthetic than I was DC’s. Spider-Man and Wolverine were my jam, and as I got older I started to appreciate guys like Iron Man and Daredevil. DC, I dunno. Batman is cool, sure, but that’s one shiny light in a sea of I-don’t-care
Full disclosure, in this article I’m going to be talking about something that is, in strictly technical definitions, pornography. The article is not about the sexual aspects, nor does it feature any sexual images. You’ve been warned in advance.You know what I love? Taking something old and tired and making it new and interesting again. I love, for example, that Cabin in the Woods was able to take the played-out formula for an 80’s-style slasher movie and turn the whole thing on its head until it made that style fresh again. I think that sort of thing is brilliant.
Specifically in this case I want to talk about a visual novel called Grisaia no Kajitsu (“The Fruit of Grisaia”). First, to get it out of the way, yes, I read a lot of visual novels, and no, this doesn’t have anything to do with my weird obsession with terrible erotica. This is entirely about enjoying a good story.
Grisaia no Kajitsu stars Yuji Kazami, a high school-aged boy who’s spent the better part of his life either training to be or actually being a child soldier/special operative. Like all proper anime protagonists he’s got a dark and troubled past – his sister, a God-level genius, disappeared years ago and is presumed dead. Because he lived in the shadow of his older sister, he was neglected by his parents and became an introverted, emotionally stunted child. One thing leads to another and he ends up becoming this amazing secret agent.
Okay, I promise that this isn’t supposed to be a series or anything, but I’m going to be touching on subjectivity again here. Less so this time though, so feel free to sit back, relax, and turn your brain off for this one. If you’d like to check out my other articles on the subject click here and here. I just got back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2. I’m not going to spoil it for anybody; no review, no nothing. If you want to form an opinion on it, go and see it for yourself, or else tune in to the Hit Continue podcast next week when I’m sure we’ll talk about it. Yes folks, there’s no spoilers in this one, with one small exception—I’m going to talk about a small detail of the ending in very broad terms.
First of all, hello to all the new people who discovered us at the Calgary Comic Expo! Or, if you’re a regular reader and would like to visit us this weekend, we’re in booth 4540 in the Big Four building. We hope to see you stop by! Okay, article time. So, I just got home from seeing The Fate of the Furious. This isn’t a review of that – if you liked the last seven of them you’ll like the eighth one, that’s all there is to that. What I want to talk about instead is one of the positives of the writing of the, uh, “and Furious” franchise. To a lot of people those are pretty few and far between, so I think it’s only fair to point out when they do something really really correct.
As far as I know there isn’t really a concrete term for what I’m describing, so for the purposes of this article we’re going to talk about this in terms of thematic resonance, or how strongly you relate to the subtext presented in a work. This ties very strongly into my previous article, “On Subjectivity.” (Funnily enough, after writing that article, Greg said it was one of the best articles I’d ever written, while I think that some of my earlier stuff is a little better.) The short definition is this: You’re gonna like stuff that hits you in the feelings more than stuff that doesn’t. This is not surprising. If that’s surprising to you, it’s possible that you’ve never actually seen a movie before. But it does explain a lot of stuff. I have an excellent case study for exactly this topic:
From the opposite side of the equation this is called “knowing your audience.” Knowing your audience doesn’t guarantee a good movie, but it does typically guarantee a profitable movie. The Fast and the Furious movies know their audience perhaps better than everyone except one filmmaker on the planet: Michael Bay.
There are a lot of people, myself included, who shit on Michael Bay pretty relentlessly. For one thing, he wrecked the Transformers franchise for me, and while they were better than that, he also fucked with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which gives him two strikes in my nerd culture book.
Yet the Transformers films have grossed almost $3.8 billion over the course of their lifetime. Despite having an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the oft-forgotten Age of Extinction grossed over a billion dollars on its own. Handily. Why? Because Michael Bay knows his audience.
The man is your go-to summer blockbuster guy. Michael Bay isn’t winning any Oscars because he’s not going for Oscars – he’s going for the kind of popcorn flicks that get butts in seats when kids are off school in July. It doesn’t matter how poorly his films are received for being trite and explosion-y because his target audience is looking for a trite movie that’s full of explosions.
It’s easy to dismiss Michael Bay as someone who doesn’t know how to make movies. It’s an extremely tempting notion because it lets us disregard him without having to think too hard. But the man knows what he’s doing, both as a marketer and as a student of the craft of film. His shots are well crafted, and on the occasional time that he’s delved into something slightly deeper than a rain puddle (The Rock, for instance) he’s shown he has a strong understanding of visual storytelling. That means that he’s making lowest-common-denominator action films on purpose. Why? Say it with me now. Because the man knows his audience.
Fate of the Furious does something similar, both in terms of plot and in terms of what I was alluding to earlier—theme. The series plays on extremely universal and wide-reaching thematic beats: Fraternity, loyalty, self-determination, etc. These things synergize very naturally with the hyper-machismo aesthetic of the films to make them extremely appealing to a large male audience.
Hoo boy. Okay.
So, if you’re one of those people who’s only following wrestling by checking out all of the awesome content that I put out (and really, I assume that’s all of you) then you know nothing about all of the black magic fuckery that’s been going on in the last two weeks. It all began with this wacky thing called the Superstar Shakeup. We talked about it a bit on the last Title Hunt podcast.
So, a couple weeks ago Billy posted an article about why everyone calls Adam “Beast” in Beauty and the Beast. It got a couple people thinking, myself included, but in the end we all kind of just giggled to ourselves and moved on with life.BUT THEN.
After browsing the internet for a while the answer was brought to my attention. I’d like all of our viewers to consider the following scenario:
So, I just got back from seeing Logan (literally, I walked in the door and sat down at the computer) and we’re going to talk about it. Given the title of the article I feel like this shouldn’t have to be said, but if you don’t want the film spoiled you should probably skip this one. Alright, due diligence achieved.
Scott Watmough has many strong opinions about many things that he knows very little about. They're usually about video games.