Series Review: Disappointment Abounds In “Jupiter’s Legacy”

My series review for Jupiter’s Legacy on Film Festival Today.

This one was tough to write. If you’re planning to watch Jupiter’s Legacy, brace yourself. One thing I don’t cover in this review is the cavalier attitudes towards mental illness, addiction, and suicide.

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With the yo-yoing back and forth between centuries, plus an overcrowded cast of characters, plot threads get muddled or abandoned altogether … which causes the symbolism to grow murky and elicits uncomfortable questions… A few moments manage to shine, including an Episode-Seven fight sequence featuring the non-super-powered Hutch (Ian Quinlan). The show really would have benefitted from more of such ingenuity.

The ideas of generational divides, idealism vs. harsh reality and, perhaps the most important and underused of all, action vs. inaction, may be worthwhile in theory, but they just don’t deliver in execution.


Source: Disappointment Abounds In “Jupiter’s Legacy”

Film Review: “The Water Man” Deftly Blends Realism and Fantasy

My latest review for Film Festival Today: The Water Man!

Between the new family in town, the somewhat-haunted forest, a local legend, one dying parent, an estranged relationship with the other, and running away from home, one might expect The Water Man to feel like a bundle of strewn-together clichés. Instead, David Oyelowo’s directorial feature debut is a well-paced and cohesive expedition into that strange and wondrous place where imagination meets reality…


I enjoyed “The Water Man” tremendously – even if it made me a bit misty-eyed.

I am really looking forward to whatever David Oyelowo is planning to do next!



Source: Film Review: “The Water Man” Deftly Blends Realism and Fantasy

“Stranger Things 4 Will Not Be the Show’s Final Season”

ScreenRant Article by Rachel Gibson: 
Matt and Ross Duffer…announce they are not ending the series after season 4 and know how it will conclude.


If you know me at all, you know how much I love this show. Including season two, unlike the rest of the world, apparently. However, I did not love season three (also unlike the rest of the world). The seasons have grown steadily less restrained; from season one’s cool, austere tone and brilliant efficiency in its storytelling, to season three’s broad humor and presentation. Personal preferences may vary, but from what I’ve gathered, the general response from both the fandom and casual viewers alike seems to be that season one continues to reign supreme among the three. I’m left to wonder if the show overall has strayed into “too much of a good thing” territory. That said, when the credits rolled on the final episode of season three (prior to the post-credits scene), I was a bundle of mixed feelings.

*minor spoilers ahead*

The thought of never seeing the characters again – leaving most of them suspended in circumstances that ranged from bittersweet and sad to disheartening and inconclusive – the idea of never returning to wrap up certain arcs? It stings.

At the same time, I also found that the massive reveal in the season four teaser trailer did not generate excitement or relief, but frustration. I’m glad that a certain character will make a return – that he’s not, yanno, dead – but I feel unnecessarily emotionally manipulated. Almost resentful over the emotional turmoil we were put through last season, just to have it get magically undone. Somehow. Because reasons. Meanwhile, I  can also appreciate the difficulty the creators were faced with because it’s been my belief that the show had neither reached a natural conclusion nor has it struck an organic flow to continue.

So, the ScreenRant article’s headline may have induced a heavy sigh from me, but the content therein actually led me to be cautiously optimistic. I still think the sentiment of “know when to walk away,” is called for, but this specific quote jumped out at me:

Ross [Duffer] went on to explain that the Covid-19 pandemic has given them the time to reflect on the direction they want to take the show in. They have been able to fill out more of the story’s plot and have discovered just how long they will need to finish the story while giving the series the best possible ending.

I personally felt that season three felt uncharacteristically rushed, even a bit bloated. There were definitely aspects that I enjoyed – I continue to be impressed with Steve Harrington’s growth as a character, I’m completely on board for more of his friendship with Robin (not to mention Robin as a character overall), and the scenes between Karen and Nancy Wheeler are some of the best scenes in the whole series. I loved getting to see Lucas land some seriously impressive blows with the wrist-rocket, Alexei was a delight, as was Murray speaking Russian and his eventual bonding with Alexei, Dustin calling Erica out for being a nerd was super satisfying, and – separate from the “Neverending Story” sequence – I love Suzie and hope to see her return in the seasons to come. 
 
Still, those positive pieces felt outweighed by the bigger missteps, where it seemed to lose focus, lose the emotional connection with some of the characters (namely with Mike and Hopper). So I’ve got my guard up. Reading the SR article, though, if the Duffers really mean what they say, if they’re sincerely taking advantage of this forced pause in the proceedings and they’re actually building towards a deliberate conclusion rather than just keep barrelling on ahead without any clear finish line, then I’m on board to at least give it a chance.
 

Of Elves, Gamers, and Paintball.

“There’s a little bit of ‘geek’ and ‘hero’ in all of us.”

Even if I hadn’t heard about Rise of the Fellowship through the grapevine of friends and current and future colleagues, its likely that this film still would have crossed my path.  I am a Lord of the Rings fan—both Tolkien’s literary masterwork and Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptation (which I rambled on about just a few posts ago)—as well as a fan of fantasy and sci-fi in general and an independent filmmaker myself.  However, I’m not generally a fan of parodies or spoof-style movies so I had some initial concern that Fellow’s Hip—as it was called then—was going to be something more along those lines; a perfectly pleasant romp that, while clever in its delivery, still just retold the same story with a different setting and vernacular.

I was delighted to find, though, that this was not the case at all. The film is distinct and entirely its own, which, truly, is its biggest strength.

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Taking Shape

It’s been a hundred years since I’ve given a legitimate update.  But here’s the thing: I’ve been fully engulfed in Genre Wars: Resistance Rising.

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I want to start off by saying that it is my delight and privilege to be a part of this project.  From the start it’s been this intangible, but fascinating concept that we’ve been attempting to really grasp and bring into reality.  The process has been amazing for me, personally; the collaboration with Justin and everyone else has been tremendous fun.  The amazing part now is seeing it really start to pick up some traction.  I can see heads turning as the project gains speed and a whole new level of excitement begins as what we’ve been holding onto for so long, we are now really able to start sharing with others.

The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of activity for us.  We put a small featurette together (Genre Wars: Resistance Rising FIRST LOOK), we’ve officially cast over half the characters, the sets are beginning to take shape and the scripts, as Justin has mentioned previously, have nearly reached completion.

But the real highlight was last Saturday.  Picture this:

A calm, quiet morning.
The sun drapes across the green, empty field in soft, golden sheets.
There’s a crunch of tires over gravel as the first car pulls into the driveway.
A Pirate emerges along with a 1920’s Mobster and a Mech warrior.

Here we go.

Even long after the Genre Wars concept had been introduced and developed, the possibilities seemed endless; how many different culture-clashes we could create and the fun we could have with the mismatches.  All great in theory of course, but on June 1st, we really got the chance to see how it would look in reality when we gathered a significant group of willing participants, all in full costume and lined them up next to each other.

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As we had hoped and predicted, what we got was magical and transformative.  There is no feeling greater than the moment when something you’ve been brainstorming about, developing in your head and obsessing over suddenly takes real shape.  No matter how many projects I do, that transition from elusive concept to reality never gets old.  And I don’t think it ever will.

Our group consisted of Steampunks, Fantasarians, Mechs, Nenjin (or Kabathan-style ninjas), Mobsters, Pirates, modern-day Mercenaries and Vampians.

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It was an all-day affair, but, as the saying goes, time certainly flew by as we were having our fun. Everyone who came out to participate was enthusiastic and committed to being there.  The resulting photos and footage are excellent.  Our two photographers, KC White and Jenna Miller (of Jenna M. Miller Photography) really stepped up to the plate and produced some amazing work.  The photos really shine, and especially because of the make-up artistry of Jessica Mungeon and Felicia Douglas.

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This photo/video shoot helped put into perspective what it is we’re trying to do.  Several times during the day, people said to me, “I didn’t realize this was going to be such a big deal,” and, “when is the next shoot going to be?” and, “can I read the scripts?”  This was all rewarding for me, personally, because it meant that what we’ve been working towards is becoming clear to others and the excitement, the interest that Justin and I have had in this story and these characters and this world is starting to rub off onto others.  They can see what we see now.  And it’s awesome.

So what’s next?

There will be more shoots, both conceptual ones like this, and of the full cast once the roles have all been officially filled.  There will be more interviews; second looks, third looks and a teaser trailer.  And a poster.  And a full-scale map of Kabathan.  And, eventually, t-shirts!

What are we doing?  We’re bringing something tangible into the world and we’re at the point now where we can finally start really sharing it with others.

It just doesn’t get better than that.

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HP Challenge – Favorite Film

HP Challenge - Favorite Film

HP Challenge – Favorite Film by unusualsidekick.

A lot of people have issues with Deathly Hallows, but most of those issues, I feel, stem from problems that originate with the prose. Hallows is one of my least favorites of the books themselves (though, let’s be clear, I love them ALL) but from a book-to-screen adaptation standpoint, this one just FEELS the most like the source material. It has SO many little nuances from the prose that I was certain would be cut for screen time…but weren’t.
Long story short, it’s my favorite. And I don’t care that I’m alone in that opinion.