“I was very blessed in always knowing what I wanted to do, and by the grace of God, I’ve been able to succeed in my chosen career.”

Thank you for the inspiration, Nichelle Nichols.

Credit: FoundationINTERVIEWS

“The show created for you”

This Saturday, I’ll be in attendance at the 2022 edition of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, best known as C2E2! I’ve been going to this convention since it started in 2010 and every trip to C2E2 has deepened my understanding of different fandoms and given me a chance of interact with both talented enthusiasts from around the world and the luminaries of the comic book industry, including Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-Men), Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and the late, great Neal Adams (Batman). On top of all that, I’ve always had a lot of fun at the con.

If you’re in the Chicagoland area and you have an interest in attending C2E2, take some of my advice if you want to have a good time:

  1. Have a plan for what you want to check out. There’s a lot to do at C2E2, which can be incredibly overwhelming for a newcomer…or even a veteran congoer like me. Make sure there are panels, exhibits and vendors that you know you want to see so you’re not wandering around the show floor waiting for something to happen.
  2. Budget your money wisely. You don’t have to break the bank in order to have a good time at this convention.
  3. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy! Make sure to pack a lunch and water to stay energized and hydrated and keep the C2E2 health and safety policy in mind.

I hope to see you there!

Image source: t.ly/a9sl

“This gets better every time we see it”: For Love of the Film (2005)

The sixth and final part of the latest Disney+ Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi featuring Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the title character and direction by Deborah Chow (The High Cost of Living), streamed last week and was met with a mostly positive reception if you ignore the racist dweebs who are throwing a tantrum just because a black actress, Moses Ingram, was given a prominent role in a Star Wars production. Incidentally, Ingram, who portrays a Force-using Jedi hunter named Reva, gives a very different performance compared to a lot of other villains in the franchise. In a nice change of pace from the icy, understated calculation of Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin and the operatic rage of Emperor Palpatine and Kylo Ren, Ingram approaches Reva as someone who is desperate to achieve a higher status within the Imperial structure even though she doesn’t truly believe in her mission. Reva comes off like someone who’s trying very hard to be threatening solely because her job calls her to be a menace but her heart isn’t in it. Ingram consistently and effectively sells this characterization and it pays off very well in the final part of the series.

Despite the griping from the racist trolls, Ingram’s performance has received a lot of praise from the majority of Star Wars fans, which goes to show you the importance of positive voices in any fan community. The Star Wars fandom has a lot of toxicity problems to address but I’m confident that those issues will always be dealt with in various ways, whether it’s through charity, discussion spaces or creative endeavors. The subject of today’s post is For Love of the Film, a 2005 short film directed by the current head of Marvel Studios security Barry Curtis and the winner of the 2005 George Lucas Selects Award at that year’s Star Wars Celebration. I’ve chosen this short because it reminds me of how diverse the fandom truly is, especially now. People of various races, genders and ages have always loved the series and no amount of gatekeeping can change that. The Star Wars fandom is not perfect but there will always be bright spots that make it all worthwhile.

Credit: Barry Curtis

“Strong, silent type”: World’s Finest by Sandy Collora

Before I go into the main topic of this post, I would like to do something unusual for this blog: a review of a recent movie.

Music by U2’s the Edge not included.

I have just seen The Batman, Matt Reeves’ revamp of the Caped Crusader starring The Lighthouse’s Robert Pattinson as the title character. The most impressive attributes of the film are the visual effects and Greig Fraser’s cinematography. I especially love how the lighting changes over the course of the movie, going from nearly pitch black in the beginning to the more vibrant and naturalistic colors that we see in the end, which represents how Batman’s mission changes from a quest for vengeance to a crusade to help the downtrodden. Pattinson delivers a more humanistic portrayal of Bruce Wayne than we’re used to seeing in live-action. Zoe Kravitz’s energetic performance as Catwoman and chemistry with Pattinson provide a welcome amount of tension, Jeffrey Wright’s stern but warm portrayal of Commissioner Gordon is an effective counterpoint to Batman’s stoicism and Paul Dano’s demented Riddler provides a chilling contrast to the more flamboyant depictions provided by prior Riddler actors like Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey. Wrap it all up in Michael Giacchino’s fantastic score and you have a film that I’d place in the upper echelon of Batman movies alongside Mask of the Phantasm and The Dark Knight.

If you’ve already seen the movie, which is now on HBO Max, check out World’s Finest, a 2004 short film directed by Sandy Collora featuring a then-hypothetical team-up film for the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel and using most of the same cast and crew from his prior short, Batman: Dead End. It’s an interesting time capsule to a simpler time when movies like this were things that fans could only dream of. At the very least, the characters were utilized in a better way than in Batman v Superman (sorry Snyder fans).

Hope you enjoy it!

Credit: 72Christos72

“As you wish”: Mandalorian Dance

A few weeks ago, the latest Disney+ live-action Star Wars series, The Book of Boba Fett, aired its season finale. Although its release lacked the immense hype of the first 2 seasons of The Mandalorian, the involvement of El Mariachi director Robert Rodriguez, Ming-Na Wen and Temuera “Jango Fett” Morrison created some buzz. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the show, even if it felt more like The Mandalorian Season 2.5 at times, complete with a episode where Fett didn’t even appear until the last few minutes. Then again, Boba Fett being a small part of his own show lines up with his portrayal in the 9 mainline Star Wars films. Contrary to his substantial presence in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Boba only has about 8 minutes worth of screen time in the 9 episodes of the Skywalker Saga. Despite his brief appearances, Fett has retained such a very devoted fan following that his iconic armor was the basis for an entire culture within the Star Wars universe, which might have been the main reason he earned his own spinoff.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun at Fett’s expense. For instance, take a look at Canadian animator Patrick Boivin’s short film featuring our favorite intergalactic bounty hunter as the lead in a Flashdance-inspired dance routine.

Hope you enjoy it! I have spoken.

Credit: Patrick Boivin

Reverend Mothers of Paradise Island

Last week marked the occurrence of significant events in the lifespan of two very important pop culture icons. October 21st was the 80th anniversary of the debut of Wonder Woman, the most famous superheroine in history, who made her dazzling debut in All Star Comics #8 back in 1941 before becoming the star of the anthology title Sensation Comics in 1942. Ever since the first appearance of William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter’s creation, the adventures of the Amazing Amazon have thrilled and inspired countless fans around the world, such as Leo Kei Angelos, the director and stunt performer behind the 2014 Wonder Woman fan film First Impressions, an exciting short which features Hailey Bright as Princess Diana and a villain portrayed by the incomparable Doug Jones (The Shape of Water).

The second event was the release of Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction tale Dune. My capsule review: it’s a visually arresting film and a great retelling of a well-known story but it might be too dry for viewers who are more accustomed to the mind-bending insanity of the 1984 David Lynch version. All the buzz around the new film made me think about the first time I learned about Herbert’s saga of the violent battle for control of the desert planet Arrakis. In 2001, Westwood Studios, best known for the Command & Conquer series of real-time strategy games, released Emperor: Battle for Dune, their third and final game based on the Dune franchise. I’ll admit that I haven’t played the game in a very long time but I do remember that my decision to play it was based solely on the fact that Michael Dorn of Star Trek fame was prominently featured in the game’s live-action cutscenes.

Hope you enjoy them and remember that the slow blade penetrates the shield…unless that shield is Wonder Woman’s indestructible bracelets.

Credit: [ActionLeo], hellhouse Oldies LP

“Listen up, blockheads!”: Harley (2016)

Next week, James Gunn’s sequel (or reboot) to David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad adaptation makes its theatrical/streaming debut. I’m looking forward to it not only because of Gunn’s involvement as writer and director but because the first film was such a mess that there’s nowhere to go but up. The early buzz is positive, which is already a step above the mixed-to-negative reception of its predecessor, with a lot of praise going to Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s creation Harley Quinn. Ever since her debut in the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor” (one of my favorites), the former psychiatrist-turned-criminal-turned-antihero has proven to be an indispensable part of the Batman franchise and one of the most popular characters in modern DC Comics history.

Of course, as this blog as documented several times before, that kind of popularity leads to fan creations of various stripes, ranging from artwork to, the subject of today’s post, short films. Directed by stuntman Fernando Jay Huerto (Battle Hero Absolute) and starring actress and writer Jacqui Verdura as the titular character, 2016’s Harley is a breezy but fun entry in the common fan film subgenre of “one long fight scene/stunt showcase” that capitalizes on Harley’s revamped look and characterization from Ayer’s adaptation. At the very least, Huerto’s short is easier to follow than the actual Suicide Squad film.

Hope you enjoy it!

Credit: Jabronie Pictures