Sense8 Cancelled

I gave my thoughts on season 1 of Netlix’s “Sense8” a while ago and was happy to see that some of the gripes I had about the first season were addressed: “Whispers” received more development and so did the Biological Preservation Organization (BPO), the organization that is hunting the sensates. In addition to that, we also got more development for the sensates and got to continue the stories we loved from the first season. Sense8 continued with its emotional gravity and action, while also offering more of the unmatched feel good moments that fans fell in love with in the first season.

Even better, the second season also managed to tackle its themes of discrimination and acceptance without being as preachy as the first season, or even the Christmas special were at times. The action scenes were better, not just bigger and the season left us with a cliffhanger that raised questions and excitement for season 3. I finished the series about two weeks ago, feeling like Sense8 had potential to become something truly iconic. Then a co-worker told me it was cancelled.

I have been meaning to share my thoughts on this development for a while and I figure later is better than never. The main reason cited by Netflix executives and even actor Brian J. Smith (Will) is the issue of return on investment (ROI). Unlike many shows and films, Sense8 shot all of its scenes on location. Production involved filming in eight different countries, which lent more authenticity to the show but also drives up the production costs. Along with The Get Down, Sense8 becomes one of the first notable Netflix original cancellations (at least in a while). The streaming service doesn’t release viewership data, so cancellation is sadly one of the few indicators audiences get of a show’s viewership. This is not to say that Sense8 necessarily resulted in a loss for Netflix. CEO Reed Hastings said the streaming service had too many hits competing with one another. Perhaps Sense8 didn’t make a profit with its last season. Or perhaps it made profit but not enough to justify its budget, in the eyes of Netflix executives. In such a situation, profitable and well-loved shows can end up getting pushed aside for ones that are even more profitable. We are living in a golden-age of television, with a diverse and critically lauded slate of tv shows that is arguably more enticing than what Hollywood offers. Even Hollywood A-listers understand the power of the “small screen”, from Kevin Spacey, to Dwayne Johnson to Matthew McConaughey. Competition is fierce on cable and especially on Netflix due to its smaller stable of original programming. A passionate fan base isn’t enough to bring it back with its cries or petitions, and it appears Sense8 is simply a casualty of entertainment economics.

A part of me holds on the hope that the show will return at some point, similar to how Young Justice is now slated for a third season, three years after its cancellation. When asked why Young Justice was returning, the president of Warner Bros. Animation said that “The affection that fans have had for Young Justice, and their rallying cry for more episodes, has always resonated with us”. I want to believe Netflix could have a similar change of heart but I don’t want to indulge false hope.

Sense8‘s cancellation is all the more upsetting because of season two’s improvement, and the epic season that it was building up to. Now, fans can only imagine what would come next. Maybe that will have to enough.

Darkness

These next few months are going to be busy as I take on more part-time work but I’m still committed to posting three times a day. If you haven’t already, check out my film and tv comics channel @moviegrapevine, or my writing channel @wmoviegrapevine.

This piece follows from my continued resolution to write more poetry pieces. It is my attempted distillation of all the negativity and worries that I’m trying to cut out of my life. This piece is also takes lines from my most recent post to @wmoviegrapevine.

The Darkness

I can sense happiness now,

Ebbing and flowing with the words and actions of those around you,

Being pulled along like a dog on a leash,

When your walkers vanish,

Or show their true colours,

I’ll be back to lead you down a different path,

I know you’ll let me in,

You always do when the outside world lets you down,

Let me whisper to you again,

Tell you how your hard work will never pay off,

How you’ll decay in a cubicle,

Never living your dreams,

Let me tell you how you’ll always be lonely,

Your friends are all leaving you,

Other cities call to them,

Or maybe you have more competition,

Girlfriends, wives, children,

The things you know you won’t have anytime soon,

Don’t you wonder why?

Can you really blame it all on them?

Their poor taste?

Or is it just that you lack something that appeals to them?

What is it exactly?

Don’t you want me to tell you?

The Wonders of Tinder

I know this piece differs quite a lot from my normal material but I’ve had these thoughts in my head for a while and had to get them out. I write this piece after deleting tinder for the 5th+ time.

The Internet as a whole is a microcosm of the human race. Our interests. Our prejudices. Most importantly, our vapidness and lack of originality. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the realm of online dating.

“Send me your cheesiest pick up line,”

“I just swiped right for your dog”,

“I’m fluent in sarcasm”,

“I’m sassy”,

“Looking for the (fictional character) to my (fictional character)”

Also, when did Whole Food and Uber ratings become something to mention in dating profiles? That isn’t a rhetorical question, I am genuinely curious. I am also genuinely interested to know if all of these generic, rehashed “jokes”and statements come from girls who think they’re being original when they write them, or if they saw it in another profile and figured they would use it too because they’re too lazy to think of something better.

Don’t even get me started on the girls who are just looking for more followers on instagram and snapchat. Some might lead with a brief bio, others might just forgo a bio completely and just post their handles. If they really play the game well they’ll tell you they’re not on tindder much, and that they’re more likely to respond on their social media. I didn’t think any guys would be naive or stupid enough to fall for this, but apparently a lot of them do. Plenty of bios even advise guys they shouldn’t message the girls on social media if they don’t match.

These questions are for the guys: Why do you think following someone on social media (like 100s or 1000s of other desperate guys) is going to help you get laid or get a girlfriend? How does that help you stand out? Do you not think that if a girl’s affection is dependent on you following her, then maybe she doesn’t really like you just for your awesome personality or shirtless bathroom pics? Has any guy that you know personally been able to get with a random girl by messaging her on social media? I need answers.

I previously touched on the disadvantages of online dating when it comes to interracial dating as well. I have been successful with girls that don’t normally like black guys when I met them in person. We were brought together via mutual friends in a setting that was somewhat isolated e.g. a house party. In that environment, they couldn’t just swipe left because I wasn’t their ideal type. They were actually forced to get to know me and try to look past my skin colour. With online dating I go back to being a single picture, and maybe 500 additional words if people like my picture enough. Obviously this is the same for everyone, but it is unfortunate that my skin colour is enough to turn people off in our supposedly “colour-blind” world. Of course, not all girls will say they only like white/Asian/Indian etc. guys. Some are bold enough to put that in their profile but some find more subtle ways. A lot of them just “like hockey players“.

In many cases I just have to pay attention to someone’s interests to get a sense of the skin tone they’re seeking. I once came across a profile where a girl said “swipe right if you don’t like rap/hip-hop/R&B”. Transalation: Swipe right if you don’t like any of the musical genres typically associated with black people. Yes, there are plenty of white musicians in these genres but this snowboarding, country loving girl probably doesn’t associate these genres with white people. Someone who loves hockey and country music is much less likely to be into black guys than the girl who likes basketball and hip-hop. That is not to say that these indicators are guarantees but many supposedly ingrained preferences, are the result of accumulated external stimuli. If you grow up watching a sport and listening to music that is heavily dominated by white figures (even more so than genres like pop or rock,) then it is highly likely you’ll grow up to view such figures as more attractive. Do you think a white child who grows up in an enviroment where he is surrounded by black people and sees nothing but black people on screen will grow up saying he doesn’t like black girls?

TL:DR: I hate online dating.

Geostorm Trailer- The Sombre Song Trend?

I saw the trailer for Geostorm in front of Wonder Woman last week and although the film seemed generic, with the apocalyptic scenario and the subpar CGI, the cover of “What A Wonderful World” stuck with me. The new rendition added a great deal of irony and the song itself was hauntingly beautiful. In true nerd fashion I went online to see if anyone else shared my opinion, and came across this article. This well written (no sarcasm) rants details the “trend” of trailers using sombre covers of famous and well-regarded songs, which apparently started with The Social Network using a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.

This first article mainly lists examples, mainly from movies that I haven’t seen, such as The Great Gatsby and  Fifty Shades of Grey (which I will only see if someone gives me The Clockwork Orange treatment).

I have to point out that this list still only includes a small minority of the trailers released over the past few years, trying to make it seem like every other film trailer follows the trend nowadays. There are enough examples for us to say a trend is at work, but why are we acting like these examples warrant a call for a moratorium?

I digress. This blog post comes as a reaction to a linked article. This article also breaks down the history of the trend and uses Suicide Squad as a case study, comparing the teaser that used a cover of Bee Gee’s “I Started a Joke” to the second trailer that used Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The reason I feel the need to discuss this: The thesis of the article is that the second trailer is better because it is more “fun”. I have previously discussed my disdain for the belief that fun always equals good, while serious or “dark” equals bad. However, I have mostly discussed this in relation to comic book films, with my article on Kingsman being an exception.

There has been a drastic shift in the reception of dark comic book films since The Dark Knight era. That is not to say that there isn’t a single dark comic book film that gets good reception these days e.g. Logan, but as a whole people value their “fun” now more than ever. People love the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for its insistent levity and humour, and despise the DCEU (partly) due to its “dark” tone. Note that a lot of the positive reviews for Wonder Woman attribute its rating to its “hope” and “fun”.  I am not a miserable person, I don’t mind levity and “fun”. I just don’t mind darkness or anything that is serious either. It seems like people desire simple escapism now more than ever, where everything should be “fun”, regardless of the subject matter.

I must agree with the author on one of his points. In some cases, especially Avengers: Age of Ultron, the song choice adds gravitas that the film does not deserve. The Age of Ultron teaser built Ultron up as a frightening threat, who was ultimately neutered and played for laughs. However, I have to say that this issue of misdirection is not isolated specifically to sombre covers of well-known songs. Any dramatic score or serious song can have the same effect on a movie’s marketing. Many people hated the Matrix sequels and the music used for that marketing would likely be deemed just as “self-serious” to this author. It honestly seems like the covers of the well-known songs aren’t the author’s real issue. He just hates the serious or “grim” tone that it bestows on the trailers.

In this case the author calls the Geostorm trailer and its accompanying music, “self-serious”  and “grim”. As I’ve noted before, the focus on tone ends up overriding any other issues of artistic merit, since “fun” becomes synonymous with good and serious of “dark” becomes synonymous with bad. Let’s look at the author’s comments on Suicide Squad as an example. He argues that the second trailer, with Bohemian Rhapsody is more fun and markets the film better. Obviously the second trailer will market the film better. The second trailer isn’t a teaser, therefore it is meant to show us more of the characters backgrounds and their interactions. Yet as expected, this author thinks the trailer is better ONLY because it’s tone is improved.

Many people, who do not know comic book characters as well as they think they do, insist that these films should all remain colourful and fun, no matter the storyline or characters being portrayed. Although I disagree, I can understand how a simplistic notion of a certain character or fictional world can lead people to think that one size fits all in terms of tone. However, Geostorm is not an adapation, yet alone an adaptation of “lighter” source material. Why does it have an obligation to be “fun”? It is a film about a global catastrophe, a dark tone suits it. Of course, some apocalyptic films can also have a lighter tone e.g. Independence Day, but that doesn’t mean that they all have to follow Independence Day’s example.

Pictured above: A perfect opportunity to use some “fun” music

Why can’t any film be allowed to look serious for a few minutes at a time without people labelling it pretentious or depressing? Even if a film is depressing, it doesn’t mean it is bad. Unless the film is explicitly meant to be a comedy, a film’s rating should not suffer because it didn’t make you laugh or smile enough. Since when did we become so sensitive that we need films to cushion us from the ugly realities of life? Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. People argue that is why films should offer us fun, but I argue that is the best reason that they should offer us whatever the director or editor feels. Films often reflect reality, why have we forgotten that? There is nothing wrong with films having different tones. We can choose to watch different films based on our moods. There is variety. I would hate to scroll through Netflix or Kodi and come across a library of films that are all the same tone. Likewise, I would hate to go to the theater and have one preview after another with the same tone, whether it is dark or light.

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman is an origin story of sorts for Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Amazon who leaves her home island of Themyscira to venture to aid the Allies in World War II. She is accompanied on her journey by Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy who crash landed in Themyscira after escaping from the Germans with information on their new super weapons.

I originally planned to see Wonder Woman on Tuesday, and after some delays I finally got around to it last night. The film made headlines for being the first DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film to get good reviews, currently sitting at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not one to blindly follow reviews, but I know a lot of other people do. Relatively poor reviews for Man of Steel and horrendous ones for BatmanvSuperman led Warner Bros to force changes onto Suicide Squad that ultimately made that film worse e.g. cut out the abusive Joker and Harley Relationship, overload the film with songs to lighten the tone.

With that said, I realized that Wonder Woman was carrying the DCEU on its shoulders. This film needed to rekindle hope for the studio executives and the general audience. Did the film live up to the hype? I will say that it wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty good.

Firstly, any regular readers will know that I despise the obsession with “fun” that is rampant these days, especially when it comes to comic book films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a whole is committed to keeping the films light, with Kevin Feige saying the films will never be dark. There is no better example of this than Thor: Ragnarok (the Asgardian term for Doomsday) being rewritten just to lighten the tone. I have no problem with levity and fun, but it is always better when it actually fits the situation and the characters. It gets tiresome when every serious moment or line is undercut by a one-liner.

Wonder Woman definitely has more levity and “fun” than MOS and BvS, but is darker than Suicide Squad. Yet it is still better than Suicide Squad. Point being,  “fun” is not a guarantee of good, “dark” is not a guarantee of bad, and I hope studio executives don’t see Wonder Woman’s success as the sole result of its lighter tone.

The humour does work well in the film, mainly playing off Diana as a fish out of water in “Man’s World”. Gal Gadot truly shines when portraying Diana’s childlike curiosity and innocence as she learns more about Man’s World. Her performance is weaker when the script asks more of her. Fortunately, she is assisted by Chris Pine. After seeing Pine as Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek films I knew he would be great in this role and he didn’t disappoint. The character of Steve Trevor has often been used as comic relief and Pine nails that, while also deftly handling the more serious moments. Pine and Gadot are also assisted by their own rag-tag group, amongst which Sameer (Said Taghmaoui) is the stand out.

One issue that the DCEU, like the MCU has had, are its villains. The MCU has Loki as its standout, and the DCEU is still trying to find its own. On repeat viewings, The Joker is underwhelming (not just due to his screen time), Doomsday’s weak CGI and tacked on introduction didn’t help his case, and Lex Luthor…they should have cast someone else. General Zod is one of the DCEU’s better contenders, a competent villain but not a very memorable one.

Wonder Woman fights against the Nazis here, with the main focus on General Erich Ludendorff (Daniel Huston) and Isabel Maru a.k.a Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya). Although Ludendorff has more screen time, Doctor Poison was more memorable. Her mask probably helped to add to her screen presence, and I’d much rather see a slew of Doctor Poison costumes for Halloween this year than the Harley Quinn epidemic of last year. Not to take anything away from Huston either, his German accent is a bit hokey at times but overall he was enjoyable, with he and Doctor Poison forming a Joker/Harley dynamic.

Diana also has a more personal villain in the film. Many people may already know the villain I’m referring to, but I won’t delve into him too much to avoid giving too much away. Overall, the final villain’s reveal and the final fight scene could have been handled better.

A consistent issue with the DCEU has been its third act. Man of Steel still offers the best third act fight scene in my opinion, with Wonder Woman coming in second. Let’s not talk about Suicide Squad. Like BatmanvSuperman and MOS, WW’s last fight scene is somewhat hampered by some cartoonish effects. The effects in this sequence were more jarring since the visuals and action were pretty impressive up to this point. We don’t truly see Diana fight as Wonder Woman for at least fourty minutes into the film, but the fight is well worth it. I also didn’t feel like the film dragged up until this point or any other in the film.  Aside from some poor effects, my only issue with the fight scenes is that slow-motion is overused at times. Otherwise, the action is fast-paced and well-choreographed. Let’s not forget the score, with the Wonder Woman theme being reminiscent of the Donner Superman one in terms of the excitement it generates.

Wonder Woman offers action, levity and some great performances. Wonder Woman also doesn’t shoehorn in any links to other DC characters. The only reference to another member of the Justice League is an organic one that helps to tie the story together and give an ending that has all the “hope” so many people say the DCEU is lacking. I walked out of the theater more excited about Justice League and the other DCEU films, while also hoping that the stories don’t end up being hampered by the “fun” mentality. WW’s tone was a great mix of dark and light, not afraid to show the dark side of human nature while also countering with a level of optimism that befits the character. Superman helped to counter the darkness in Batman, and Wonder Woman helps to counter the darkness in both.

Decay

Update: I was planning on seeing Wonder Woman on Tuesday, but something came up for the friend I was supposed to see it with. I was hoping to see it today instead, but it’s looking like my friend is busy again tonight. Therein lies the disadvantage of wishing to see a movie with someone, your schedule is at the mercy of theirs. When I do see Wonder Woman I will upload a review either the same night or the next day. Also fighting off a cold and not sure whether I still want to get out of the house. In the meantime, here’s a poetry piece inspired by one of the shorter pieces I posted to @wmoviegrapevine earlier today.

I used to say that I’m only 22,

Now I try to convince myself I’m only 25,

The years have crept up on me,

Time is a persistent stalker that doesn’t always give announce its presence,

He may be invisible when we look upon the face or the body,

But his decay is ever present,

The body that looks vibrant and youthful is cursed with pains that only diminish, but don’t dissipate,

Time carries its own passengers,

Responsibility being the chief among them,

What are you doing with your life?

I know what I want to do,

Share my words with others,

I already am,

Yet my words can’t feed me,

At least not yet,

Do I spend my free time working towards this goal?

I do,

Do I spend my free time working to escape the cubicle prison,

I used to,

One resume after another sent into the black void of the Internet,

One more friend who promises to pass it around,

All equalling to nothing,

Maybe laziness makes me grow weary of the hunt?

Or maybe it has simply burned me out?

Hopelessness accompanies each attempt,

There is hope that I will find my way someday,

Yet the question of my future hassles me everyday,

I am not worried about things sorting themselves out someday,

I wanted them sorted yesterday,

Last year,

I can look back on those moments,

Staring ahead with hope,

Only to have the hope harpooned by reality,

I give into vices,

My most valuable resource goes wasted,

A victim to desires that hold me back,

I am only human,

Yet I seem to be a weak one at times,

Seeking escapism or validation from people and things that do not value me,

My someday is coming,

But maybe I don’t want to wait for it anymore.

Chains

The alarm goes off,

I silence it,

Then I retreat back under the sheets,

I know I should leave,

But the chains springing from my mind hold me down,

The lack of motivation to wake up early to go to prison,

Shackled to a phone in my cell,

My escape routes,

My tunnels,

Chiseled by mouse clicks and word of mouth,

Have yet to yield fruit,

And I sometimes feel like they never will,

One year has passed,

And I worry it will soon be two.

 

The Honey Before The Sting

This poem was originally inspired by a line from the second part of my werewolf story, AliveI then expanded on the line for a poem I posted to my poetry instagram account @wmoviegrapevine.  Since I wanted to expand the poem further I figured I would post the result here. Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading.

The Honey Before The Sting

The hope that comes with a new beginning,

The introduction,

The smile,

The kind words,

A new job,

A new relationship,

The negativity seeps out,

Optimism rushes in to fill the void,

It will be different this time,

It is different,

Until people change,

But do they really change?

Or do they just show their true colours?

Shedding the mask they show to the rest of the world,

What vice is on display this time?

Greed,

Insecurity,

Anger,

Cowardice,

Maybe they coalesce to create something new,

A deformed creature,

Standing on two legs trying to convince itself it’s human,

The creature sees all,

It pounces on uncertainty, kindness and weakness in others,

But has a blind spot for what lies in itself,

Misfortune and tragedy are always blamed on its prey,

While power and fortune remain in the predator’s territory,

 

 

The Gap

I used to post more poetry pieces on this site, before my focus turned to longer blog posts on my novels, film, tv and /or race. I figured that I would try to get back to posting poetry since the book I’m currently working on, Alive, was spawned from a series of poems I posted here.

The Gap

Potential can hold more power than reality,
There is always the question of what you could become,
Unfettered by the restraints the world will later try to force on you,
Limiting you to something “realistic”,
Something safe,

Maybe parents want to make sure they get their return on investment,

Maybe you have to care for someone else,

Maybe you are carrying the anchors known as children,

Taking risks no longer becomes admirable or brave,

It is foolish, selfish,

We trade in happiness for stability,

Rotting away day by day,

Resenting the world for where we are now,

Maybe we brought the trap on ourselves,

Maybe life just didn’t turn out the way you wanted and you’re trying to make the best of it,

Either way,

Your kids will become the object of your own resentment,

You will see the freedom they have,

You will resent it,

Then the cycle will begin anew.