For as long as stories have been told, we have had the protagonist. In many situations and in the most fabled of tales, the protagonist is known to us, the audience, as “the good guy” – but this is by no means a requirement.
In the most technical of terms, all this person needs to be is “the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text”. That’s it. They have no literary obligations to be kind, moral, just, or “the good guy”. And, in my own personal opinion, it is the stories that revolve around the ones who aren’t quite as morally sound as the ones in fairytales, that happen to be the most interesting.
The rise of streaming services has done a lot to disrupt the formerly strict setup of the entertainment industry and studio system. Gone are the days of being obsessed with ticket sales on opening weekends, massive P&A budgets dedicated to a single film, and the reliance on the typical formulaic blockbuster setup that has been the trend for.. well, forever. The goal now is to keep your eyes on their prize.
That is not to say that things have somehow gotten easier. The stakes are higher than ever for HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and others to experiment, push the limits on traditional storytelling, and keep you far away from the cancellation button in your account settings.
The latest in Netflix’s planned journey of ambitious programming is their show called You, which is already creating quite the buzz with thought pieces and explanations coming from every direction. It is very well done, with a star-studded cast, an 8/10 on IMDB, and a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes (and this somehow all started as a Lifetime show..). Now, I’ll start with the most basic of facts: this show is creepy. But a different kind of creepy from the normal modern day Hitchcockian-thriller that we are seeing more and more of these days. The twist is: the creep is the protagonist of the show. It’s like if Psycho was told completely from the perspective of Norman Bates and we heard almost every messed up thought of his through voice-over; and the plot isn’t too far off either considering Joe Goldberg, You’s star played by Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley, is also a socially awkward and murderous stalker.
The writing in this show is good – a little too good. Like I said, we hear the inner thoughts of Joe throughout the entire show and even have – and it pains me to say this – sympathy for the guy in the beginning. He is very normal at first, kicking off the plot by noticing another main character, Guinevere Beck (played by Elizabeth Lail), in a book store where he is the manager, and falling in love at first sight. Cute, right? No! Not cute! Soon, we begin spiraling along with our protagonist into a deep, dark hole of stalking, breaking & entering, and murder. The whole time, I found myself rooting for Joe to just stop being creepy and be a normal boyfriend and live happily ever after.. like a normal person!
But then I asked myself, “everyone else that’s watching this also thinks it’s messed up, right?”. Are there people who think that his behavior is justified? Because we can hear Joe’s own rationale for his actions and it technically makes sense in the most technical of ways, would someone think that it is okay? You can hope for people to have morals but at the end of the day, some don’t. You can hope that people know the difference between right and wrong, but some don’t. Does the entertainment industry have an obligation to portray the good guy as always winning? Does the “bad guy” always need to be punished? Because in You so far, the bad guy wins, and he wins a lot.
This brings me back to the days of the Hollywood Production Code, which was a set of rules in play from the 1930s to the 1960s dictating what could and could not be in films. Something that was hounded on in these rules was making sure that the audience is sure that evil is wrong and good is right. As a result, “the bad guys” could not win in a film, ever. With so much new content coming out and so many innovative storytelling tactics riling up the masses, maybe they had a point? Didn’t a bunch of people commit murders similar to the ones that were portrayed in the show Dexter?
Sit on the question of what kind of responsibility Hollywood holds in emboldening those that wish to make their art into reality.. All in all, this show is really great and does a fantastic job at playing with irony in its purest form. There is one scene where Beck’s best friend, Peach (who is also pretty obsessed with her), is secretly looking at Beck in the bathtub, while Joe is secretly watching Peach, and we are (secretly?) watching Joe, which was a great and subtle point of humor in such a dark storyline. The events are predictable, but predictable in a way that highlights the realistic traits of these characters, especially Joe. He’s just a dumb, creepy guy who makes some really bad and unnecessary choices, but man, he sure is charming.
Finally, the Cinderella story of the Richmond Greyhounds has come to an end.
We are now in a new season for the team, and they have started off on the wrong
foot. The team is broken up and Ted has his work cut out for him. The team goes
through a slump, and Ted is now doubting his coaching ability. Ted’s personal life
has also gotten out of control, and he discovers his ex-wife Michelle has started a relationship with their therapist. The wonderkid, Nathan Shelley, the former manager of West Ham has had a change of heart and leaves his job to be with his one true love, the waitress from his favorite restaurant.
She convinces him to return to the Richmond team he started out in and it’s quite evident that
everyone wants him back and held no hard feelings. All of Lawrence’s series he has worked on with others have just that right balance of slice-of-life drama with a little bit of ridiculous comedy that reality dishes us, normal folks, every day.
This all comes to a head in the potential series finale where Ted announced to
Rebecca that he will be returning to the States to his family after his mother tells
him that his son misses him. This puts the Richmond owner into quite a state of denial; doing everything from offering Ted the position of being the highest-paid coach in the league to selling the team after he leaves. The team is also affected by this decision as they perform a number from the musical The Sound of Music that is a more than touching farewell to this family.
This bleeds into their playing as in the final title match the first half is met with
bumbling and possible injuries to their star player Jamie.
After an energizing pep talk and a circle back to the first motivator in the
beginning, a sign Ted made up that said “BELIEVE”, the team dominate the second
half and win with a rousing closing scene that is reminiscent of any 80’s party
movie. It’s a fitting end for this pandemic darling that emotionally carried us through. It is
a must-see series even if you don’t like soccer (football).
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm