Tag Archives: Fantasy

TV Review – Masters of the Universe: Revelation (2021)

I HAVE THE POWER…to write this review, 3.5 readers.

BQB here to check out Netflix’s sequel series to the popular 1980s cartoon, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

3.5 readers, perhaps you’ve heard there is a bit of controversy behind this show. Rather than do a straight up review, I’m going to organize my thoughts into PRO and CON but beware, SPOILERS abound. Frankly, I wish I had watched it before reading about it online, so if you haven’t read about it, here’s your chance to go watch it first, then come back and praise it or kvetch about it, or both, whatever your preference. Believe it or not, I fall into the “or both” category.

THE CONTROVERSY:

Fans of the series were totes stoked that He-Man was coming back in a Netflix series helmed by Kevin Smith, a comic book auteur known for keeping it real when it comes to comics. If K-Smitty is behind it, it must be good, for he’s an OG comic fan from way back and would never, ever sell out to The Man just to make a quick buck.

Alas, in the first episode (BIG TIME MEGA SPOILER) He-Man and Skeletor (the trash talkiest villain of all time, basically imagine a combination of your mother in law, a sassy drag queen, and Donald Trump in their ability to pinpoint and throw shade on your flaws and put them in a skeleton man costume) have the final duel that has been forever in the making. At first, this seems awesome but then, they kill each other and for the rest of the series, the show is helmed by Teela, the longtime friend, confidante and lady bodyguard of Prince Adam, He-Man’s true identity and alter ego.

To boil it down further, there is very little He-Man in a show where He-Man is the main draw.

PRO:

#1 – Teela is voiced by Sarah Michelle Geller which makes me happy as a Buffy fan.

#2 – Kevin Smith’s argument is that he made a show for adult fans of a kids show – people who loved a show when they were little but are now in their 30s and 40s. Often, adults tend to look back at things they loved as kids with rose colored glasses, only to revisit them as adults and realize it was kind of dumb and silly. For example, I like He-Man as a kid. It wasn’t my favorite show, for that role went to GI Joe, but I generally like the show. As an adult, I went back and looked at old clips of He-Man only to find it is campy and silly AF, lots of bad puns and goofiness and what have you.

Ergo, Smith tried to make something where the stakes are real, in other words, where there are consequences and yes, where characters can actually die, as opposed to the show we got when we were kids, where He-Man and Skeletor would just wail on each other for a half hour each week and then the next week, they were fine and ready to go at it again.

He makes a good point. The show has a great musical score that puts me back in the 80s and it has that 80s feel while not being a campy romp. It has about as much of a plot as a fantasy show about warriors battling over the control of a planet’s magic can have and though I was sad to see He-Man go, I did want to find out what happens next. The five episode run is short and bingeable.

#3 – Lena Headey steals the show as Evil-Lynn, a sorceress who rivals Skeletor in her ability to throw shade. He Game of Thrones co-star, Liam Cunningham, is also pretty great as Man-At-Arms, Eternia’s resident weapons-smith.

#4 – The show isn’t a reboot. It starts where the series left off, just with a flare that is more adult yet can be watched by children. In the 1980s, comic book type shows and movies were considered silly by adults, and presented as silly for the kids with the idea that comic books are silly and should be presented as silly for the kids. Today, see the Marvel movies as an example of how it’s almost as if the studios think about the adults first and the kids second when it comes to comic book movies. This is a show with a plot that will appeal to adults yet kids can watch it. Whether or not today’s kids will enjoy it though, I have no idea. I’ll admit I wasn’t enough of a He-Man fan to keep up with it over the years and I had forgotten its main plot points, though the show quickly reminds who in the beginning who everyone is and what they do, what the world and the war is all about.

#5 – To the show’s credit, it is called Masters of the Universe: Revelation. In other words, it’s not called “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” as it was originally titled. This should suggest up front that a) there was a reason why they didn’t include He-Man in the title and revelation means something you didn’t expect is going to happen.

#6 – The show survives by plugging up past plotholes. Namely, Teela never knew that Prince Adam was He-Man and feels betrayed so many of her friends knew and never told her. King Randor never knew either. An ongoing plotline was Teela and the King thought Prince Adam was a wimp and if only he could be half as brave as He-Man. The King’s rage at being lied to leads to a big shakeup in the kingdom. Teela becomes so jaded that she dons a butch haircut and travels the world as a merc, giving a middle finger to honor and duty and just being in it for the money and herself.

#7 – The show pits magic against technology. With magic in short supply as a result of Skeletor’s chicanery, Eternians turn more to tech, which seems like a commentary on the modern age, i.e. people turn to religion for comfort yet are more reliant than ever on tech.

CON

#1 – MOTU without He-Man is like buying tickets to an Insane Clown Posse concert only to arrive and find that ICP took the day off and have been replaced by Flo from the Progressive commercials strumming a ukulele. It’s like turning on a new Batman movie only to discover Batman has decided to go to a spiritual healing retreat while Robin takes over for 2 hours. It’s like showing up to a Mets vs. Yankees game only to discover both teams have gout, and the only entertainment will be Mr. Met dancing the Macarena for 4 hours. It’s like showing up at the alter, ready to marry your beloved, only to pull back the fall and discover she has been replaced by a chimpanzee in a dress.

In short, when He-Man and Skeletor buy the farm so early in the show, you can almost hear the WOMP WOMP.

#2 – I’m not 100 percent sure this was the case here, but in today’s super woke world of ultra woke wokesterism, it’s hard not to believe that some suit at Netflix HQ didn’t decide that there was no way a show helmed by a character who is a super muscular stud-muffin blonde barbarian man who is so frigging straight and macho that he probably bangs hot chicks two at a time in between sword battles was going to fly unless he gets straight up ganked in the first episode and is replaced by a female character and said female character needs a butch makeover. I mean, for Christ’s sake, He-Man is so freaking macho and manly that his name is literally the combination of HE and MAN (which hey, by 1980s standards, the dude put his pronoun right in his name and in retrospect was hella woke) but no way such a macho sumbitch can be allowed to be in charge in this day and age. I’ll admit, that was my first reaction when I learned He-Man kicked the bucket early but then I admit once I started watching, I was intrigued.

#3 – I’m not sure what to think of K-Smith’s involvement. It feels like he was brought on board to give the series that OG Comic fan street cred. As of late, he’s been ranting online about how the fans are being jerks yet a comic guru like himself should realize you can’t just waste He-Man without there being some blowback.

#4 – Eighties kids have been through this already. Corporate suits loved to straight up murder characters we loved all the time, often just to sell toys. The Transformers movie ganked both Optimus Prime and Megatron and their top cronies, all for them to replaced with all new characters, which little kids of the day openly realized was just a cheap marketing trick (though we demanded our parents buy us those toys anyway.)

The Transformers move was so poorly received that Optimus had to be revived in the show and the GI Joe movie had to scrap storyline where Duke dies and it ultimately went to release straight to video. In short, we didn’t like it when our TV show cartoon pals died as kids and we don’t like it as adults either.

BOTTOMLINE – Whenever I want to criticize a show or a movie, I take stock and admit that hey, at least they made something, which is more than I did. I’m a frigging adult, so it’s not like I’m crying over the demise of He-Man. Though he is the main draw, I did binge the show because I found the storyline interesting and wanted to see where it went, so perhaps ultimately Smith and Netflix found a way to get the show a lot of free press and to draw viewers in. Would a show where He-Man wields his sword and kicked ass while Skeletor mocks his loin cloth been just more of the same? I don’t know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, though I’m not sure where the show goes from here. A MOTU show without He-Man and Skeletor probably can’t last forever and yet, if you bring them back with a magic wand wave, that sort of cheapens the idea that this show has adult level stakes. As much as I have enjoyed watching Teela’s storyline, I wonder if, in the long run, you do need the buff barbarian and the trash talking skeleton to go at it because really, who doesn’t want to see more of that?

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Lingering Game of Thrones Questions

In no particular order:

#1 – If Sam becomes Archmaester, what happens to Gilly and his adopted son and the son on the way?  Are Gilly and the kids always going to be Sam’s taboo secret family, hiding in the shadows?  There should have either been a line like, “Oh good, it was just decided that maesters can get pussy now” or Sam should have left the maesterhood and just become another kind of wise adviser – Master of Laws or what have you.

#2 – If Bran can see the future, then didn’t he know Daeny was going to burn everyone in King’s Landing and let her do it anyway?

#3 – Did Ellaria Sand get crushed in her cell during the dragon attack?

#4 – Is Daeny really dead?  Keep in mind people come back to life on this show all the time.

#5 – Wouldn’t it have been better for Arya to become an assassin for good, using her faceless man skills to strike down the wicked?  Or maybe she has learned the ills of revenge and is now using her family fortune to explore.

That’s all I have for now but feel free to pose your own in the comments, 3.5 readers.

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Who Will End Up On The Iron Throne?

My guesses:

#10 – The Knight King, because screw ’em all, they waited too long to come together.  George RR Martin comes out at the end while munching on a bag of cheese doodles and reminds Republicans and Democrats that the real White Walker is climate change…or possibly Russians.  Or weather controlling Russians.

#9 – Jon Snow and Khaleesi marry.  Both have major claims to the Iron Throne.  They consolidate the claims and the infighting between Khaleesi and Jon over him being King in the North because now they are married so they run it all.  No one cares Jon is an Auntie Fucker because it is olden times.

#8 – Cersei beats everyone.

#7 – Everyone dies, no one is left.

#6 – A few seasons ago, Arya made mention of a land far beyond the sea that is rumored to be there but no one has seen it.  I wonder if this is like the GOT version of America and people who are sick of the Westeros fighting will leave and start a new nation in fantasy America.  I guess this isn’t so much explaining who is king than it is giving a possible ending.

#5 – The Khaleesi, of course.

#4 – Jon Snow, because now he knows it all.  (In 5 or 4 that means only one either lived or lived but the other could not rule for some reason be it death or they didn’t get together.

#3 – Bran is the Knight King seems to be a popular theory so if he controls the Knight King then he rules.

#2 – Hodor.

#1 – OK, this is actually going to be my best guess.  Jon and Khaleesi either don’t make it or decide that the monarchy has had its day.  Either way, wise men like Tyrion and Varys start a democracy.

Also – I could see them giving some sort of flash forward to a steam powered Victorian Age or Modern Age.  That would be cool.

Also – none of these and something we didn’t think of.

What do you think 3.5 readers?

 

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Check out “The Omens of a Crow”

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

Dakota Kemp, a friend to this fine blog, has released his new book, “The Omens of a Crow” on Amazon.  I’m not sure what it is about but there is an ominous looking dude in a cloak on the cover and the description says he is about to bring something scary to a village.

What could he possibly be bringing?  Is it a weapon of some sort?  Dark magic?  A terrible disease?  Wait, I know.  He’s bringing chips with no dip.  That’s it, isn’t it?  Have you ever been to a party and a guy brings chips but he doesn’t bring any dip and everyone is like, “WTF, guy in a cloak, why did you do that for?  You expect us to eat this chips dry?  You couldn’t have sprung for the dip?  You might as well have not brought the chips.”

That’s my guess.  I suppose you’ll have to check the book out to find out what it actually is.

Let me know if it is chips without dip.

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Movie Review – Bright (2017)

Orcs, elves and humans, oh my!

BQB here with a review of the fantasy buddy cop thriller, Bright.

Netflix continues to wage war on conventional cinema, streaming a summer blockbuster type movie, helmed by veteran sci-fi action star Will Smith.

BQB here with a review of the fantasy buddy cop thriller, Bright.

Netflix continues to wage war on conventional cinema, streaming a summer blockbuster type movie, helmed by veteran sci-fi action star Will Smith.

In alternate world of this film, humans, orcs and elves co-exist in the modern world of today.  Despite historic tensions due to past conflicts, the three races try, more or less, to get along, though biases and suspicions continue.

Life is not easy for Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), an orc cop who straddles the lines of two worlds and is hated by the residents of both of them.  Orcs, relegated to being impoverished, inner city dwelling second class citizens, despise him because he’s a cop and orcs feel that cops unfairly target them.  Cue scene of an orc getting wailed on in a savage act of police brutality.

Humans aren’t found of Jakoby either.  Orcs, according to human sensibilities, aren’t pleasant to look at and they took the wrong side in an ancient war.  They basically view him as an untrustworthy animal.

Jakoby is just Jakoby, a normal dude who, despite his orc-ish appearance, is just trying to make it in the world.  He likes burritos and giving his partner health tips and other dorky things.  But depending who you ask, he’s a pussy (according to the orcs) or a beast (according to the humans.)

Ward (Will Smith), has an equally tough time as Jakoby’s partner.  On the one hand, human cops demand that he find a way to trip the orc up and run him off the force.  On the other, he feels that bond of loyalty that any cop feels towards his partner.

Against this backdrop, an elf bright (i.e. a rare user of magic, Lucy Fry as “Tikka”) is on the run and in possession of a magic wand.  In this world, a wand is considered the equivalent of a loose nuclear weapon, something that if it were to fall in the wrong hands, could be used to unleash death and destruction.

The wand is valuable as it can grant whoever wields it untold power, so naturally, the various groups who want it begin stacking up.  Mexican and orcish gangsters, corrupt cops, Federal agents and rogue elves all hunt Jakoby and Ward as they seek to off the dynamic duo and abscond with the wand.

I have to say, the negative reviews of this film are undeserved.  Here’s the deal.  THIS FILM IS <GASP> ORIGINAL!  It’s a new idea.  It’s fresh.  It features a childish concept (i.e. orcs and elves and magic) and infuses it with adult themes (i.e. swears, over the top violence, gunfights and lots and lots of naked titties.)

A Hollywood suit would have been within his rights to put the kibosh on this project for fear that it wouldn’t find an audience.  Kids who like magic can’t come and adults who like violence and titties might be turned off by magic.

But this film is good and it proves that Netflix will persevere as an outlet for films that are original, experimental, on the edge and can’t find a home elsewhere.

The film serves as an interesting vehicle for dialog about racial issues.  Ironically, the main human in the film, Ward, a black man, must fight his own internal biases against orcs (he was once shot by one so now trusts none of them) in order to save the day with his orc parter.

Good writing.  A lot of showing instead of telling.  Good world building.  The rules have been established so sequels are entirely possible.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Writing Choices – Game of Thrones and an Overabundance of Characters

Sigh.  Why must I wait until July for Game of Thrones to come back on the air?

Oh well.  This one will be a short one.

Game of Thrones has so many characters – so, so many characters.  And many of them are key players.  All in all, we’re talking like, hundreds of parts.

I suppose it makes sense in a wide-sweeping epic.  Then again, I’ve found that in my own writing, sometimes it is difficult to just keep track of the names of the bit players.  If you have a secretary named Janet who gives your hero a key piece of info, you want to make a note of it so you don’t name another character Janet.

Sure, in real life, you’ll probably run into multiple people named Janet.  People don’t check to see many Janets there are around you before deciding whether or not to add one more Janet to the mix.  But, to the reader, two characters with the same name will be confusing.

Plus, how do you describe all those characters?  There are only so many ways to describe a person.  At the end of the day, we all aren’t snowflakes.  Sure, we all look different and those differences are readily noticeable to the eye but on paper?  “He’s old, she’s young, he’s tall, she’s short, he’s skinny, she’s fat” I mean, really…how do you come up with unique descriptions for over two hundred people or more?

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:  Can you keep up with all the characters on Game of Thrones?  How do you do it?  I’ve been watching the show since the beginning and I still just refer to many of the characters as, “The guy who did the thing.”  Also, tell me how you keep track of the characters in your stories.

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Zom Fu – Chapter 61

tabletdemo
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Junjie’s teeth chewed through veins and gray matter, then swallowed. The taste was abhorrent, yet the anticipation of the knowledge to come took his mind off it. Something had drawn him to this brain and he had to know what.

Junjie closed his eyes. When he opened them, he felt big, bold, strong…and angry…oh, so very angry. He was in the sanctuary of the Clan of the Sacred Yet Inscrutable Tiger Claw, walking hurriedly toward the courtyard. Honghui stood up ahead, next to the Infallible Master, who was holding a baby.

“Junjie?” the master said as he looked down at the infant. “That means ‘handsome hero,’ you know. An awful lot of pressure to put on one so small.”

“Yes,” Honghui said. “But I have no doubt he will live up to the name, master. Ling felt the same way.”

“And where is Ling?” the master asked.

Honghui looked down, sullenly. “Gone.”

The master frowned. “How?”

“Longwei,” Honghui said. “When he learned that Ling and I were leaving the clan so that we could be married, he went mad. He somehow saw it as offense to him, that he was your greatest student and that we could not leave until he’d bested us in a fight.”

The master sighed. “That sounds like Longwei.”

“I declined,” Honghui said. “As did Ling. But Longwei’s words were so cruel that I lost control and called him a fool. That enraged him so much that he laid in wait and as soon as I left, he…he…”

Honghui’s eyes teared up. “…took the brain of the woman I loved.”

The master gasped. “Took her brain?”

Longwei finally reached the courtyard. “Yes! And it was delicious!”

The master pointed the Staff of Ages at Longwei. “Longwei! What has come over you?”

Longwei chuckled. “Destiny,” Longwei said. “That is what has come over me.”

“Away with you,” the master said. “You’ve gone insane.”

“No, master,” Longwei said. “I assure you, I’ve never had a better understanding of the world.”

“I will hear no more of your drivel,” the master said. “You’ve already taken one member of our clan today. You will not take another. Look at what you have become!”

“You have always resented the fact that I was better than you, old man,” Longwei said. “My feet were faster than cheetahs. My muscles were stronger than those of an ox and my hands?”

“Enough,” the master said.

“My hands are swift and dance through my opponents like a graceful dragon twirling through the air,” Longwei said.

The master pulled the baby close to his chest and held the staff high in the air. Clouds formed in the sky. “Enough.”

“You always favored Hongui and Ling over me,” Longwei said.

“A lie you told yourself over and over until you believed it to be true,” the master replied. “I love all my students equally, even you Longwei…even after the evil you have done.”

Longwei drew closer. He gazed upon the baby.

“Give me that child, so that I might snuff it out and spare it a life of knowing what a pathetic weakling its father was.”

Honghui lost control. He charged at Longwei…only to have his brain ripped out by Longwei’s tiger claw.

The master’s heart sunk, but he wasn’t just a master of kung fu. He was a master of his own emotions and buried them down, refusing to cry as Honghui’s lifeless corpse hit the ground.

Longwei bit into Honghui’s brain as if it were an apple. He swallowed, then tossed the rest over his shoulder. He returned his attention to the master.

“Give that child here.”

A lightning bolt shot out of the sky and into the staff. Thunder rolled as the staff glowed bright.

“Do not make me do this, my son,” the master said.

“No one is making you do anything, old man,” Longwei said. “You do what you wish. I know from hereon out, I will do as I wish. I will never be held back by you ever again.”

“I was never holding you back,” the master said. “I was trying to contain your boundless ego, to get it under control before you did…something like what you have just done.”

Longwei reached for the baby. “And I’m just getting started.”

Thok! The master kicked Longwei with such force that he was launched into the air. The old man then took aim with the staff and sent the lightning bolt into Longwei’s body, killing him instantly, even before he hit the ground.

Darkness. Longwei saw nothing but darkness. Seconds later, he opened his eyes. He looked up at the master, who was standing over him, still holding the baby.

“Longwei?” the master asked.

Longwei looked into the master’s eyes, and caught the reflection of his face in them. In that reflection, Longwei was able to see that his own eyes had gone blank – pure white, devoid of anything else.

“There…there is no Longwei….there is only…Dragonhand.”

The master pointed the staff at Dragonhand’s face. “Leave here at once, creature. Do not darken this sanctuary’s doorstep again, or that will be the end of you.”

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Zom Fu – Chapter 44

tabletdemo
The little boy was four years old and just a bit over two feet tall. His bedroom was filled with vases, statues, paintings and other artistic riches. Golden sheets and pillows sat atop a bed that was large enough for a fully grown adult to get lost in, let alone a child. Further, the boy was dressed in the finest black and gold silks.

Ironically, though his decor was fancy, his personal interests were not.

“Ball!” the little boy said as he rolled a leather ball across the marble floor. When the ball reached the wall, it bounced back. The boy caught it, rolled it up to the wall and repeated the process.

“Hee hee,” the young one giggled. “Ball!”

A fist pounded on the door.

“Ball,” the boy said as he rolled his favorite toy again.

“Oh glorious one?” came the muffled voice of Nianzu from out in the hallway. “I humbly request an audience, please.”

The boy grew tired of rolling and switched his game up to throwing. He tossed the ball against the wall and caught it on the bounce back. “Hee hee! Ball!”

Nianzu tried again. “Unspeakable danger approaches, your majesty. We must get you to safety at once.”

Crash! The boy laughed as his ball smashed a thousand year old vase to smithereens.

“Is everything alright in there,  exalted one?” Nianzu asked.

The boy clapped his hands together, giving a stirring round of applause to the devastation he’d created. “Ball!”

Out in the hallway, the trio consulted one another.

“Should we just smash the door down?” Nianzu asked.

“And be executed for treason?” Tengfei inquired.

Nianzu shrugged. “It’s not like he actually knows what’s going on.”

Weiyuan and Tengfei’s mouthes dropped.

“Blasphemy!” Weiyuan cried.

“Sacrilege!” Tengfei shouted.

The duo dropped to their knees and started kowtowing towards the door.

“He does not speak for us, oh wondrous son of heaven!” Weiyuan cried.

“Kill him, exalted one!” Tengfei shouted. “Please spare us and kill him!”

Nianzu rolled his eyes. “Idiots.”

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BQB’s The Walking Dead Recap – Season 7, Episode 2 – “The Well” – SPOILERS

Hey 3.5 readers.

It’s Sunday so it’s Walking Dead.

SPOILERS!

This show has been on seven years and the key to its success is that it keeps reinventing itself.  You have a large cast with people going off into different directions so there’s always an opportunity to do something new.

And they really did something new tonight.

We get introduced to King Ezekial, a dude with dreads who owns a tiger named Shiva and he speaks in an Old English accent.  His community is called “The Kingdom” and all the people who live there wear hockey pad-esque knight gear and act like their knights and shit.

The people of the Kingdom and the King all play it straight.  Carol and Morgan are weirded out, Carol more so than Morgan.

The viewer ends up assuming that the King and his friends are most like Ren Faire/Dungeons and Dragons nerds who dabbled in fantasy and are now taking advantage of the zombie apocalypse to make their fantasies reality.

You do get to learn the King’s secret though I don’t want to give it away.

Zombies are being fed to pigs. Not sure what that’s about but as much as I love bacon, I’ll pass if it comes from those pigs.

The ongoing worry whenever the regular cast members happen upon a new community is that the community always looks nice and the people are nice but then there’s inevitably some terrible secret that causes all shit to break loose.

Here’s hoping that the King is just a dude who played a little too much World of Warcraft and that’s all.

What say you, 3.5 readers?cropped-cropped-img_1753

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Who would win the following fantasy fights?

Batman vs a Shark

Patrick Swayze in Road House vs Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing

Either version of Patrick Swayze vs a T-Rex

Optimus Prime vs the Entire Nazi Army

Bell Biv Devoe vs Dolph Lundgren

Superman vs an Octopus

James Bond vs a Silverback Gorilla

Pee Wee Herman vs a UFC fighter

Ronda Rousey vs the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Zombie Abe Vigoda vs Zombie Bea Arthur

Sugar Ray Leonard vs a Bengal Tiger

The Joker and Harley Quinn vs Bonnie and Clyde

Al Capone vs Al Bundy

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