Daily Archives: December 29, 2021

TV Review – Hawkeye (2021)

So many arrows, so little time, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Disney Plus’ Hawkeye.

It’s about time The Avengers’ arrow blasting badass got his own movie…except I guess they didn’t want to give him one so this TV show will have to do. That’s ok, Hawky. The Hulk could never carry a movie by himself either, even with those big green mitts. Hulk smash everything…except box office records.

Here, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is on a holiday vacay to NYC with his kids, the hawklets, in tow. After taking in an Avengers style broadway show (watch the entire thing after the end credits of the last episode), he has a run in with Kate Bishop (Hailey Steinfeld), an archery champ who was inspired to become a champion arrow slinger in her own right after witnessing Hawkeye take out some alien villains during Loki’s attack on New York back in the 2012 film when she was just a child. My, how time flies.

Kate has had her own run in with the aptly named Track Suit Mafia over a misunderstanding when she accidentally dons the Ronin costume, the same garb that Hawkeye wore during the blip phase of the last Avengers’ film, a time when he missed his deleted family and took vengeance out on the evildoers of the world with no remorse.

Assuming Kate is Ronin and wanting revenge, it’s a mad cat arrow infused romp as Clint and Kate shoot their way out of this mess, one flying pointy stick at a time.

At first, I felt there was a bit of a bait and switch here. Vile patriarchist that I am, I’m not a fan of this trend to replace longstanding male characters with females. In some cases, like when a character is more of an idea than a person and anyone can step in and be them, it works. In other cases, where the studio is just like, “OK this dude has a vag now” it makes little sense. It’s like the studios are saying that women can never be fully complete unless they grow ding dongs and become dudes, as if they were born deficient when they were born vaginized.

Moving on, my main complaint was that it looked like we were going to get very little Hawkeye and a lot of Kate Bishop, which seemed deceptive for a show called Hawkeye, but ultimately, we got a lot of the Hawkster. It’s basically like a mismatched buddy cop show about an old veteran arrow slinger taking a fresh, naive, lots to learn rookie arrow slinger under his wing.

I have to give this show kudos because it does show the dangerous side of super-heroing, particularly when the hero is just like, a person with no supernatural and/or scientifically assisted abilities. (Sidenote – isn’t it a gaping plot hole that Tony Stark never just outfitted the entire team with his Iron Man armor?)

Clint is deaf, having had a front row seat to plenty of gunfire and explosions in his day. Movies never tell the viewer this, but explosions and guns are loud. In the movies, people just stand around explosions like nothing’s wrong but in reality, if you’re lucky enough to not be vaporized in the blast radius, you’d still most likely be knocked on your butt and/or left with long-lasting, perhaps life-long hearing loss.

Kate and Clint get knocked around throughout the show and to the show’s credit, the pain shows. They’re constantly hurt, and they are never without band-aids and stitches on their face, so A plus to Disney for giving us a look at how hard it is to be a super-hero when you’re not a God, or haven’t been gifted with amazing strength and/or health regeneration, be it through magic or science. When you’re just Joe or Jane Average, getting your ass kicked hurts, a lot, and afterwards, you’re going to be limping and covered with bandages and you’re probably going to need a drink and a nap. Also, a dog. Bonus points to the show for adding a dog.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, but SPOILER ALERT. Looks like Kate will take over the Hawkeye role, so where does that leave Clint? Where does that leave Jeremy Renner? Is he exiting the franchise? Will he come back as Ronin? Probably not since he burned the costume, then again, a new costume is only a call to the tailor shop away.

Meanwhile, Lady Thor is on the way and I guess, I don’t know, they’ll probably chop off the Hulk’s ding-a-ling eventually just to be fair to out of control green lady rage monsters.

Double bonus points because Vera Farmiga is in it. I have had a crush on her since she appeared scantily clad in The Departed.

Triple bonus points because the show is Christmas themed.

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TV Review – The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter 1 (2021)

Hold on to your helmet, 3.5 readers. Disney Plus is getting a little extra awesome courtesy of the galaxy’s favorite bounty hunter.

Temuera Morrison. It’s a name that has gone unknown except to the truest of Star Wars fans all these years. He’s the actor who played Jango Fett in the prequels and of course, since the Clone Troopers were cloned using Jango’s DNA, he played all of them too. Flash forward to today and he’s playing Boba Fett sans the helmet (Boba being the adopted son/clone of Jango as we saw in the prequels). Finally, TM is getting his due in a series all his own (and we can say the same of Boba.)

When last we saw BF, it was in the court of deceased Tatooine crime boss Jabba the Hutt, who you may recall met an untimely demise when Princess Leia choked him out with a chain whilst clad in a tawdry slave girl costume. We thought Boba ended up as sand monster poop, only to become one of the franchise’s most popular characters, so naturally, he’s back, alive and taking control of the desert planet’s crime scene.

With his trusty right-hand Fennec Shand (Ming Na Wen), Boba is trying to rule the crooked game’s players with respect rather than fear. Whether or not that strategy will win the day, only time will tell.

If you’re a SW fan, you’ll love this. It gives us deeper immersion to the world, staying true to its rules and backstory while giving us new sights to feast our eyes on. In this first episode, we see Boba’s journey from the monster’s belly to freedom, juxtaposed with new threats on his reign in Jabba’s hot hutt seat.

Disney may have stunk up the sequel movies, but it really has hit home runs with the streaming shows – The Mandalorian and now this. It is a little odd seeing the Fettster sans helmet and time will tell if he’s interesting on a personal level or maybe his allure came from him being a baddie of few words, with a cool costume who let his killer gadgets do the talking in the original films.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

This Is Not Arnold Schwarzenegger Clip

Hey 3.5 readers.

I tried to do a podcast once. Alas, The Bookshelf Battlecast was thankfully short lived. Actually, it never really lived. It was dead on arrival.

I enjoyed using the software to cut sound clips together and it’s funny how you never really learn how to do something until you try to do it. It all seemed very confusing at first but before I knew it, I was mixing sound and fading in background music, the whole shebang.

Sadly, I, BQB was the weak link in the BQB cast. I have a face for radio, a voice for print, and a writing style for unpaid blogs that any schmuck with a computer can start. On the mic, I was about as exciting as listening to paint dry and I realized I was better off not on air at all.

The fun byproduct is that I hired various celebrity impersonators to do intros for the podcast. With their talent, they brought scripts I wrote for them to life and a few of them even told me that they had a lot of fun performing what I wrote. I’m like 50 percent sure they weren’t just saying that.

Anyway, here’s a clip of a talented Arnie impersonator doing a bit I wrote:

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Movie Reviews – Being the Ricardos (2021)

3.5 readers! I’m home!

BQB here with a review of Amazon’s Lucille Ball biopic.

Reviews of this film haven’t been great and all I can say is this: whether you like this film or not will depend on what you were hoping for when you turned it on.

If you were looking for laughs, you’ll be sorely disappointed, which is strange, given that it is a film about the life and times of the 1950’s Hollywood power couple that invented the sitcom. All the funny half hour shows you know and love have Mr. and Mrs. Ricardo to thank for convincing the network suits that Americans love to laugh, not just once but over and over again in perpetual re-run syndication.

If you were looking for scandalous backstage power plays and intrigue, you’ve come to the right place. I have to admit, when I first heard about this movie, I wondered if Aaron Sorkin was the right man for the job. He gave us The West Wing and is best known for political drama, his calling card being characters who walk and talk while giving exposition dumps (and sometimes those dumps are so long they end up doing a lot of walking…is it me or have these characters covered enough ground to make a football field?)

Sure enough, the walk and talk happens here and Sorkin fans might chuckle as we see Nicole Kidman’s Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem’s Desi Arnaz walk and talk across studio backlots while they discuss the latest doings with the various cast and crew members who made “I Love Lucy” the powerhouse it was (and in many ways, still is.)

The film allows us to be a fly on the wall during a rough week for the Ricardos (technically, shouldn’t this be called being the Arnazes? Being the Ball-Arnazes?) With all the turmoil and infighting, it is a wonder that any show makes it to the TV screen, and given the number of obstacles in Lucy and Desi’s path, it’s a wonder they had the careers that they did.

Lucy faces false commie charges, having registered for a worker’s political party in her 20s just to please her labor loving grampa who raised her, unaware the act would be used some 20 something years later to lob accusations of being a Bolshevik loving Trotskyite. Desi, who fled Cuba to escape the Castro regime, the violence of which he saw up close and personal, publicly defends his wife though in private, informs her that she did indeed “check the wrong box.”

The accusation threatens to derail the show and put Lucy and Desi on the unemployment line (ahh, the type of political intrigue that Sorkin loves). Meanwhile, Lucy has to deal with Desi’s wandering penis (the press is also lobbying charges of Desi’s infidelity, which he strongly denies but, well, if you’re familiar with the story then you know the score.)

As if that weren’t enough, Lucy has to fight Hollywood suits who don’t want her pregnant on TV because damn it, talking about pregnancy is admission that the pregnant woman had sex and you can’t talk about sex in any way shape or form on 1950s TV. (In retrospect, one wonders how we went from Lucy and Ricky sleeping in separate beds in the 1950s to the Sex and the City girls humping their way through Manhattan with no detail spared in the 1990s.) See that? If Lucy and Desi hadn’t convinced the suits that the world wouldn’t end if a pregnant woman appeared on TV, then you wouldn’t have all these shows where characters bang a new person every week with zero consequences and…well…I’m not sure that’s even what L and D wanted but moving on…

Did I mention Lucy and Desi were the first interracial couple on TV? Somehow, Lucy must navigate the choppy waters of telling off suits who don’t want to see a Hispanic man married to a white woman on television. Meanwhile, Desi comes from a Cuban culture where, as the film tells us, “the man is the man” and thus it can be hard for Desi to play second fiddle to his wife, who goes out of her way to make sure everyone knows that Desi is indeed, a first fiddle, especially when it comes to making all the business decisions of the Desi-Lu empire.

Side intrigue comes from staff writer Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat) trying to make her way in a boys’ club, Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance (Ethel on the Lucy show) fighting storylines/jokes on the show about how Ethel is pretty enough/worthy of being elderly Fred’s wife (J.K. Simmons excels as Fred actor William Frawley who imparts words of wisdom to Lucy during rare moments of sobriety.)

My main criticisms? The show brings a lot of modern wokeness and I’m not sure how much of it actually happened or how much of it is Sorkin wishing it had happened. Lucy and Desi’s fights to keep an interracial couple on TV while one half of the couple is pregnant are well known, whereas, for example, was there a lot of handwringing about whether or not the Lucy character should be stronger and less infantile? (I’m no Lucy historian but there probably was). (In the show’s defense, it did explore the ins and outs of so-called traditional gender roles in an episode where Lucy and Ethel go to work only to freak out on a chocolate candy production line that moves too fast while Desi and Fred nearly drown in a soap sud tsunami created by their incompetent dish washing…this might have been mentioned in the film…and I suppose in some ways, the old “they did the best that the 1950s would allow” comes up again and again.

STATUS: Shelf worthy. Nicole Kidman in prosthetics is virtually unrecognizable. She does a raspy voice, typical of Lucy impersonations though she didn’t really get that smoker’s rasp until she was older and the smoking caught up with her. Then again I could be wrong. As I said, I’m not a Lucy historian. Bardem lays the accent on a little thick and though Desi had a thick accent (jokes about Lucy not understanding what Ricky was saying were a constant show staple) I’m not sure it was as thick as Bardem played it.

A good film but ultimately, if you wanted laughs, you’ll be disappointed. If you want to see the strife that ensues when an interracial power couple fights against a Hollywood machine in a time that didn’t want them and achieve a series of TV firsts, this is your movie.

One final criticism – the movie does these side interviews where older versions of the crew come out and pretend like they are being interviewed. This surprised me as the documentary style interviews struck me as real and genuine, yet in my mind, I kept asking, wouldn’t all these people be dead by now? True enough, I looked it up and the interviews with older versions of crew members were acted out by older actors/actresses. In other words, I spent all of last night thinking that Madelyn Pugh went on to appear in Alice’s Diner in the 1980s and looks fabulous even though she must be like 100 years old only to realize it was Linda Lavin of Alice’s Diner playing an older version of Pugh. I’m just not sure the interviews make sense given that…well I’m not sure if anyone involved in I Love Lucy is still alive today but if they are, they have to be pushing 100 or more. I take that back. Desi and Lucy Arnaz (the kids of the marriage) are still kicking though up their in years in their own right…and maybe if there was a kid backstage selling newspapers or shining shoes or something they’d still be alive but old but that’s about it.