Stranger Things and Pirates of the Caribbean

Another Super Bowl has come and gone, this time we got to see the Falcons choke and give away a pretty substantial lead so that Tom Brady could get a record- tying 5 Super Bowl Rings.

Anyway, us film geeks were also treated to new footage of this year’s upcoming films and tv shows. There are three main ones I will focus on here. I completely lost interest in the Transformers series after the third film. I should have given up after the second but I’m a glutton for punishment I guess. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favourite MCU films but I am not that excited about the second. The teaser pushed the film near the top of my most anticipated list, but the subsequent trailer, with its focus on Baby Groot, made me lose interest. Yes, he’s cute. Can we move on from selling toys?

I know Logan had some new footage but I don’t want to spoil anymore of the film before I see it. The first two trailers were more than enough for me. With that said, let me begin with my most anticipated.

Stranger Things

I did not realize that season 2 was so far off, with a Halloween release. However, this teaser does the perfect job of building excitement for the second season without giving too much away. Starting off with the old eggo add was genius, and leads to a great reveal of Eleven. Many fans and outlets speculated that she would return, especially since the end of the last season showed Jim Hopper delivering eggoes to a location in the woods. Nevertheless, it is still great to see it confirmed. Not only is Eleven a great character, but Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is one of the best on the show. We also get to see the shot of the kids in their ghostbuster costumes.

Some people see this as anachronistic, but the first season was set in 1983, and Ghostbusters was released one year after. If some time has passed between the first season and this one, then it makes sense for Will and the gang to dress up as the main characters for Halloween or some other occasion.

The teaser also ends on an exciting note, revealing a glimpse of a new creature from another dimension. The teaser makes reference to the upside down, so it appears something else has made its way through. Perhaps it was freed the same way Eleven returned.

This brings up more questions about the plot but I am happy to have that revealed to me gradually, and finally get the answers for myself with the finished product on Halloween. I haven’t truly binge-watched a show in a while so I think this will be an appropriate occasion.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I loved the first two POTC films, but was underwhelmed by 3 and 4. The first trailer didn’t excite me much, and not because Jack Sparrow wasn’t in it. The special effects looked poorly rendered, and they don’t look that much better in this new footage. A great ending to the first trailer was ruined by the need to add “fun”, taking away the new villain’s menace.

However, Bardem’s involvement still made me curious about the film, especially after his performance in Skyfall. His crew looks like they will make interesting villains, and I loved the shot of them running over water as they pursue a woman on the beach.

However, Johnny Cash did help to add to the excitement for this one. The music obviously might not be in the film, but it did help to build excitement as I watched. I’ve already heard people complaining about Johnny Cash being “everywhere” now but two trailers over the past 6 months doesn’t count as everywhere.

We see Barbossa again, and it looks like he may die (again) in this film.

There are brief flashes of new characters but not much is revealed about them so far. I have also avoided looking into the plot more online since I don’t want to spoil too much of it for myself.

We get a brief glimpse of Will, who we can see is starting to become part of the sea. The second film stated that the crew of the Flying Dutchmen only begin to mutate if they fail their duty to ferry lost souls to the underworld, so it appears Will as been slacking on his duties somehow.

We don’t know if we’ll see Kiera Knightley again but I can live without seeing her face again. I was happy to see that this footage didn’t rely on Jack Sparrow too much. The first trailer made it clear he has angered yet another pirate, and this footage makes it clear they are looking for him. We already know the story revolves around Sparrow so there is no need to spread him all over the promotional material. With that being said, it was great to get a brief shot of a mud-covered Sparrow.

Pirate’s Life.

 

David Harbour and Stranger Things

Stranger Things was one of my favourite shows of 2016 and I was happy to hear that it received a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for “Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble Cast”. Of course, the award was overshadowed online by memes targeting Winona Ryder’s facial expressions.

It appears that Ryder actually stole attention away from David Harbour’s speech, which is also one of the most discussed events from the SAG Awards. Firstly, the speech is generally about fighting injustice and accepting “outcasts and freaks”. The speech can refer to the events of Stranger Things but is of course a parallel to Trump and his presidency.

Like any political comment, it has attracted a wave of support and plenty of criticism. I previously discussed how people forget that freedom of speech is a double-edged sword in my Patton Oswalt article.

“I also find that people often forget that freedom of speech is a double-edged sword. For example, President Trump said the Hamilton cast was out of line for criticizing Vice President Pence, but he also supported the unfounded allegations that Obama is a foreign-born Muslim. Trump had no problem using his freedom of speech to assert that a President’s birth certificate isn’t valid, but he was also insulted that the Hamilton cast would have go off-script to address his VP. People invoke freedom of speech as an excuse when people express views they do not agree with.”

I’m not bringing this up again as shameless self-promotion. I bring it up again because I believe that it captures an issue that is central to the criticism directed towards Harbour and Stranger Things as a whole. I first came across the criticism of Harbour’s speech due to an announcement about season 2. While I was just excited to see some new pictures, a few of the users (who use Facebook to comment) were quick to comment on how much Harbour’s speech turned them off the show.

Bill Michael writes: “I love the first season but after the SAG award political rant/meltdown on stage by the cast I doubt my family or I will watch season 2 now”

And Jim Culver follows up with: “I was right in the middle of binge-watching season one when they did that, and it totally soured the experience for me. All I could think about was what a pretentious jerk the guy who played Hopper is, and what a ditz Winona Ryder is.”

So maybe Culver has a point about Ryder, but what bothered me was the animosity generated about Harbour daring to express an opinion.

I have come across some people who believe that celebrities shouldn’t make political statements of any kind, since they have so much influence and can sway people negatively. However, we have to remember that celebrities are human beings. They have a stake in the world just as much as we do.

If an actor or actress I respect makes political statements I disagree with, I don’t chastise them for having an opinion, I criticize them for the views themselves. I like my bigots out in the open, and I want to know what is going on in the minds of people who I am indirectly giving money to. The people criticizing Harbour, for criticizing Trump, come across as Trump supporters who don’t want to hear their hero denigrated by what they view as “libtards,” or “commies” judging by the comments on the Youtube video. I have to wonder if they would be as upset if Harbour made a speech talking about the need to support Trump.

As expected, plenty of the comments criticize the left for being intolerant. After all, Harbour does advise that people should be punched in the face. When Trump said he wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico, and establish a Muslim ban, people said it was only a metaphor. I’ll use the same excuse here, Harbour was just referring to what his character would do, not what he is seriously condoning others to do.

So, the same right-wing that is convinced most Muslims are terrorists, that Obama is a foreign born Muslim etc. are now upset that the left dares to make a speech about accepting outsiders. Does anyone else see the problem with this mindset? While one side continues to defend whatever they say as the politically incorrect truth, or  “telling it like is”, any comment that does not support Trump is viewed as proof that liberals aren’t tolerant. Liberals don’t tolerate bigots, it’s as simple as that.