Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

We are still Groot.

In a surprise move that, in hindsight, should not be so surprising, DC snapped up erstwhile Marvel director James Gunn.

The director who helmed the beloved Guardians of the Galaxy films was fired last July from GOTG Vol3 for offensive Twitter jokes posted over a decade ago, stirring up ire and confusion from legions of fans. The entire GOTG cast got involved, tweeting support for Gunn and asking Disney to reconsider their stance. One actor, Dave Bautista (Drax), stated he would quit the MCU if Marvel didn’t use Gunn’s script for Vol3.

It’s been an emotional road for fans since then. I was at the San Diego Comic Con the day Gunn was slated to speak, and it hit the entire convention like a blow. He didn’t appear at all, which made a lot of sense: this knee-jerk move most probably broke his heart. GOTG was his baby, and he made Marvel a lot of money. Gunn took a little-known cosmic corner of the Marvel Comics universe, one with a walking tree and a talking raccoon, and made a joyously exuberant space epic that even non-geeks adore.  He’s so intimately connected to his characters that he was brought in for Avengers: Infinity War to write all the Guardians’ lines, keeping the tone tied to the GOTG flicks.

Word is that Marvel, now owned by Disney, will still use Gunn’s script for the conclusion to his trilogy, but this hasn’t been confirmed. The feature was slated in the MCU roster for 2020, but is now considered on haitus. In other words, no one knows anything. There might not even BE a third Guardians film, after all is said and done.

Which leads us to the DC Extended Universe. Suicide Squad was intended to be DC’s equivalent to the MCU’s Guardians movies, with rollicking tunes and irreverent characters who are “something good, something bad: a little bit of both.” Unfortunately, SS really wasn’t very good, and became another dead end in DC’s bid to catch up with the MCU.

Gunn coming on board will change things. With the Wonderwoman films course correcting the entire franchise, and the anticipation awaiting December’s Aquaman film, this could be just the kick in the pants DC needed to compete for the hearts of fans. They certainly made a smart call to add Gunn to their universe.  He’s expected to bring to Suicide Squad 2 what he lent to the Guardians films: a freshness, good tunes, witty dialog, and a rousing sense of adventurous fun.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – First Man

 

Movie Review - First ManFirst Man is a thoughtfully crafted, well-made film that a lot of reviewers seemed to love. Ryan Gosling definitely dove into the part. The nostalgia of returning to the 1960s was neat, and the scenes in actual space were close to brilliant at times.  It felt like being there, as the Saturn V thundered out of our atmosphere. There was a sense of transcendence, viewing the Earthrise from orbit, and it was a sight that made even the  generally reticent Armstrong crack a big old smile (more on him, later). The space shots looked very real, albeit coupled with a slightly grainy film quality, making it feel more like the 60s.

The space images alone made seeing this in IMAX worth the extra price. I wish there were more scenes in space and on the moon, but you can’t have everything you want in a movie, now can you?

Some thoughts: a lot of the purposefully jiggly hand-held camera work was distracting, especially in the many long, quiet interpersonal scenes. It underscored the “documentary” feel, but I noticed it too much, taking me out of the moment.

I understand the story is supposed to be a deeply personal and intimate story of one man’s journey to overcome his emotional pain, and eventually do something extraordinary.

The “one man” in question is Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) –the first man to walk in the moon. It was an amazing moment for mankind, but make no mistake: this is not an exciting movie. It’s a slow burn of a tale, and takes a long time to get anywhere. We spend relatively little movie-time in space, and barely any on the moon. For a 2 hour and 20 minute film, there’s surprisingly little story to tell.

From the perspective of the film, it seems like the moon landing was incidental to the plot, instead focusing quite narrowly on Armstrong’s inability to move on emotionally from the death of his daughter (and his colleagues in the space program). It seemed to me that 1/3 of the movie was devoted to extreme closeups of Gosling’s face, who did a great job showing almost no emotion behind his cold, blue eyes. I saw these close eye shots of him so many times that I started tracking it in my Peetime notes. It happened so often I eventually gave up. But, as with the hand-held camera jiggling, noticing the trick pulled me out of the story.

So then, with all this attention lavished on Armstrong, why do I feel we never got to know him? It’s a long movie, but Armstrong is still a cipher by the end. I understand he wasn’t a demonstrative or friendly man in real life. That’s got to be hard to base a long movie around. The viewers never get past his eyes and into his head. A few expositional scenes from others were used to describe him, instead of letting us, the viewers, get to empathize with him ourselves.

So, yes, the critics loved this movie. You can see that on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience score, however, seems a lot more evenly divided, with a middling overall grade. Basically, First Man was competently done, but not stirring or thrilling. I don’t know how Apollo 13 was such a fantastic film, and this one (taking place in an overlapping time frame with the same historical figures) fell short.

Here’s my conclusion. This film is, first and foremost, a biographical drama. The space program is merely a framework for telling Armstrong’s private story. In that sense, it’s a success. Nicely done within those parameters.

But if you’re looking for a rousing space epic, this isn’t your film. In my theater, people hopped up all over the place to hit the bathrooms — even during the climax of the moon landing scene. As the credits began, a few people started a halfhearted attempt to clap, but gave up quickly when no one else seemed to care.

The science and history seemed rigorously accurate (although the ‘bracelet’ thing might be a storytelling liberty). It’s just unfortunate  the first man walking on the moon was too distracted by personal demons to enjoy the experience. I mean, it’s THE MOON, MAN! You’re going where no man has gone before! Enjoy it a little.  🙂

Grade: B

One Last Note: There were some good ‘action’ moments here and there —  the flight of the Gemini, the tragedy of the Apollo 1 astronauts trapped by the door, the awe-inspiring Earthrise, the sequence with the Saturn V blasting off, and docking with the LEM. (Dan and I visited a real Saturn V at the Kennedy Space Center, and walking under it was a total highlight. And it was sweet to see the VAB here, which really impressed me in person. It’s bigger than the brain wants to accept.) So, I’d say those were the standout moments. The moon scene was surprisingly underwhelming. I know why they filmed it this way — to focus exclusively on Armstrong’s experience — but I wish it had been an ensemble with the three men instead.

(Learn how closely the movie followed Neil Armstrong’s real life, and enjoy the photos showing the differences between the real historical figures, vs the actors’ faces.)

About The Peetimes: Here are 3 good Peetimes, nicely spaced out. You won’t miss any action, or even much dialog, during any of them. The middle one, at 1 hour and 7 minutes, gives you a whole 5 minutes to run and pee, so try to shoot for that. It’s a long film, so you should definitely use a Peetime to stay comfortable through the lunar landing climax. A lot of people got up and down at bad times during the opening showing. .

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of First Man. (What we mean by Anything Extra)

First Man Opinion — Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Apollo 11 Trivia Quiz

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Funny Harry Potter Fan Film Short – The Mysterious Ticking Noise

If Potters were puppets…

Are you a really big Harry Potter fan? Here’s a somewhat silly, but super fun fan video, called Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise. These guys made a lot of little Harry Potter puppet shorts, but THIS is the best, the most beloved and well known. We Potterhead types have been known to play this video to a room full of fellow fans and sing it out loud together: happy little geeky freaks.

Once you watch this enough times, you can’t get it out of your head. Play it a few times. Catchy. Charming ending, too. There’s also a little subversive bit with Dumbledore to make you go WTF.  What character do you sing along with? (I tend to shout out Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley!  Confused? You’ll see what I mean when you view this.)

So here we go. It’s a little like the classic “Muh Nuh Ma Nuh” earworm from the old days in Sesame Street.

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape…

Related, on RunPee: Enjoy a nicely done and quite amusing parody of the song Uptown Funk, sung by Voldemort and the Death Eaters (that even sounds like a band!), called Dark Lord Funk. Read Voldemort Will Funk You Up.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Mark Ruffalo Spoils Avengers 4 Title – Or Does He?

My name is Mark Ruffalo, and I’m a Spoilaholic.

Mark Ruffalo, as Marvel’s Hulk, talks a lot — unlike the Hulk, actually. Ruffalo’s been known to accidentally drop many a spoiler on talk shows, followed by an “ooops” face, and usually an unsuccessful attempt to pass it off as a joke. It seems he just did it again, live with Jimmy Kimmel. Maybe.

Possible spoiler ahead…

Ruffalo clearly tells the entire audience the movie title for Avengers 4, which has been kept under heavy wraps since the title for Avengers Infinity War was released.  Director Kevin Feige previously announced the title itself was a spoiler, and that speaking it was verboten.

In the video, Ruffalo’s words are bleeped and blocked out, but fans pieced together what’s he’s saying anyway, and it seems to be “The Last Avenger”.  If true, it makes a nice bookend with Captain America: The First Avenger, especially with Chris Evans announcing he will be hanging up Cap’s mantle in Avengers 4.

This may or may not be the name of the movie, as the entertainment world is pretty aware of Ruffalo’s spoilerey reputation: the whole thing could just be a pre-planned joke on the audience, intended only for laughs.

Of course, Ruffalo isn’t the most loose-lipped member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He shares that special spot with young Tom Holland (Spiderman), in a little video moment I wrote about here.

Here’s the Ruffalo segment on Kimmel’s show. Do you think this is a legit spoiler, or a playful set-up? (Clearly the ending is meant as great fun…)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Entering the X-Files – The Pilot Episode

The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half-assed joke in greeting: “Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent to his basement to dubunk him, and he has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps. He looks like a kook, and he kind of is, but the brilliant kind.

(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.)  🙂

In spite of this preliminarily  lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’  story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place.  But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.

The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other while drenched in the road in the middle of the night — where a big red spray painted X marks the spot they experienced lost time. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.

Were they abducted ? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we will actually never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.

If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotted, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in ’til then. This is a great show to take the time to savor: the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television,even though the “mythology episodes” are the ones that keep fans coming back. This was one of the very first shows depicting through-arcs and long-form storytelling.

In spite of the varying quality of the two movies and two revivals, this is still one of the greatest shows on television.

Are you an X-Files fan? Feel free to comment below about your favorite episodes.

Here’s our RunPee movie review of the 2nd feature film: 

Movie Rewatch Review of X-Files – I Want To Believe

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

TROOPS – A Star Wars Parody Does COPS

TROOPS is filmed live, on location. All suspects are guilty. Period.

I adore the Star Wars parody TROOPS,  featuring a cool and funny blend of the 80s television reality show COPS, with Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s got 10 minutes of cinematic-level goodness and is great fun. I’m super impressed with the visual quality of this tiny film. It looks like Star Wars! It even feels like Star Wars.

Storywise, it’s also clever, presenting a  behind the scenes look at how some Extremely Competent Stormtroopers try locate the Empire’s missing droids…and then exactly what went down  at the Lars residence on Tatooine. (Remember Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru? Remember how we saw their charred corpses? Now you’ll know what happened. This version is now cannon to me.)

Owen and Beru play a nice part in the latter half of the video, although it doesn’t show them in the most flattering light. But then, the show COPS pretty much depicted humanity at their nadir, so it fits in perfectly.  And I loved the first Stormtrooper in this short.  He really thinks he’s the good guy here, bringing peace and order to the galaxy (with blasters).

I never watched COPS when it was on the air (I don’t like watching other people’s misery), but I really love COPS parodies, to a fault. There’s a few of them out there. I think TROOPS might not be the single funniest one, but it might be the most spot-on, and does fill in a gap in the Star Wars narrative  —  one you never knew existed. Remember that most of the SW saga plays from a certain point of view…

What do you think of TROOPS? Did you ever see the original show COPS? Are we showing our age here? 🙂

___________________

More, on RunPee.com: 

Undercover Boss – Star Wars Parody on SNL

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Voldemort Will Funk You Up

That’s the Were-Wolf Fenrir Greyback getting his shoes shined. Who knew he could read?

I love the video of the Dark Lord Funk, a parody of Uptown Funk, and how it so cleverly sends up the Harry Potter mythos from the perspective of a hip and urban Voldemort. You have to view this one a few times, once for overall enjoyment, once to catch the rich visual humor, and a last time to listen to the excellent line replacements from the original tune.

There’s a TON of references to elements from all seven Potter novels. It’s a real hoot. (<—- Ha. See what I did there?) The video makers even created a moving copy of the Daily Prophet, complete with headlines seemingly ripped from The Deathly Hallows. View the paper firstly at 1:48, then see (at 2:30) this headline: Harry Potter Defies the Dark Funk. Make sure to look for the band logo  for Tom and The Riddles on the drum-set at 3:25. And at 3:54, catch a moment with Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch.

Enjoy seeing Voldemort get his non-existent hair curled, while dancing with Bellatrix Lestrange, Werewolf Fenrir Greyback, and a small army of Death Eaters. The famous students of Dumbledore’s Army also appear, clearly taken aback by Voldy’s Power of Funk. “Albus sent ya, Hallelujah!”

Watch it through to the end, as there’s a tiny bonus scene with Voldemort wearing the Sorting Hat.

Did you watch the video yet? It’s more fun than a barrel of Dobbys.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Welcome to the Spider-Verse

It doesn’t matter how much they switch up the mask: Spiderman still looks like Deadpool.

Captain Midnight makes some intelligent videos for superhero nerds like us.  In this one,  he talks about how the upcoming animated reboot of the Spiderman universe is both an exciting prospect and a scary one. We’ve had a lot of Spidermen in the modern era, which speaks to the enduring popularity and relatable personality of Peter Parker.

For what it’s worth,  some of those movie installments were pretty good (like SpiderMan 2), and others were stinky turds (like Spiderman 3).

Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit a home-run with Homecoming, Sony (together with the non-MCU Marvel)  is eyeing the rest of their arachnoid stable with greedy eyes. In the trailer for Into the Spiderverse, we’re shown an older Peter Parker, a young new POC Spiderman, and a Gwen Stacey black-and-white version of Spidergirl. And it looks like a whole colony of superpowered spiderfolk check in.

Early perceptions from most comic-book fans are giddily positive. The film’s upcoming narrative seems to hew more closely to the comic book storylines than any of the live-action features did.

I like the idea of a grown man version of Peter Parker counseling a new super spider hero. In theory. We just had this kind of material  covered with Iron Man and the MCU’s Spidey. I assume the writers have something different in mind.

We still don’t know yet how this Peter will be written, but I hope he’s retained an overzealous enthusiasm for his freewheeling, freelancing, webslinging job. I’m tired of seeing beloved superheroes grow grim, moody, and morose with time. Please keep my Spidey fun!

One note: I have to say the animation for the film looks really darned cool.

So, is the Spiderverse more about cashing in on the MCU’s approval ratings, or adding a legit fresh, exciting take on Spiderpeople?

Watch this insightful video to develop your own spidey sense of how the upcoming Into The Spiderverse is shaping up.

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Crimes of Grindelwald Prequel Fan Film – The Greater Good

Wizards Albus Dumbledore and Gellart Grindelwald start their famous duel. Doesn’t young Albus look like the  young Professor X from the X-Men films?

Have you seen The Greater Good, a  17-minute fan film about Dumbledore and Grindelwald? Made before the first Fantastic Beasts movie was even a thing, this little wonder tells the story of how the two powerful  wizards broke off their previously intense, long-running relationship. It also features Albus Dumbledore’s little sister, Ariana, and the sad events at the end of the boys’ world-traveling love affair. Aberforth, the other Dumbledore brother,  also plays a leading role.

The feature’s not bad. I’d even say it was really good, if the wand fight didn’t drag on so long. I’d also have liked to see some more scripted moments between the characters, and some backstory before the duel gets going. But it’s got decent filmatic qualities for a fan piece, a nice (and inexpensive) beach-side setting, good costumes, and acting that works for the story being told. A few of the special effects are cringe-worthy, but we should probably cut these amateur filmmakers some slack.

Albus, Aberforth, and Gellert look great. Ariana is way too old to fit in with the Harry Potter novelizations and her painting in the Deathly Hallows 2 movie, but I guess we can overlook this in honor of the greater good. 😉

Some people are going so far as to call this a Fantastic Beasts prequel. Take a look:

What do you think of this fan film short from the universe of Harry Potter? I for one am impressed that JK Rowling is confident enough in her creation to allow this one-off to stay alive for internet viewing.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

How Marvel’s Spiderman Fixed the Franchise

He’s the only superhero from Queens, far as I know.

How many Spideys have graced (or disgraced) (or Topher Graced) the iconic young superhero on the big screen over the last few decades? This is the THIRD go at it in the modern era — but you probably knew that. How come Tom Holland’s performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is considered superior?

This video (12 minutes in length) details a bit of Spiderman history, some words about Spiderman’s mask vs Peter Parker’s eyes, the importance of not dragging your viewers through the same origin moments over and over (ie – the spider bite, the death of Uncle Ben)…and a lot of cool tidbits you probably didn’t know about our favorite arachnid-themed teen hero:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)