Mark Hamill The Last Jedi

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Mark Hamill is completely wrong about Luke Skywalker and the Jedi.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is easily the most divisive movie the iconic sci-fi saga has ever seen. Hardcore Star Wars fans are having endless debates about whether director Rian Johnson‘s new chapter in the franchise throws everything we love about Star Wars to the wind, or if it merely introduces new elements into the galaxy while still respecting what came before it. This is an argument that will be going on for years to come. Now Mark Hamill is throwing some more fuel onto that fire.

We already know that Mark Hamill fundamentally disagreed with Rian Johnson’s ideas for how to continue the story of Luke Skywalker, but he eventually came around to the filmmaker’s way of thinking. But Some recent remarks from the original trilogy star about the trajectory of Luke Skywalker in the movie indicate that he still hasn’t come to terms with his character arc. In order to properly discuss this concept, we have to dig into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, do not read any further. Read More »

last jedi backlash

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: addressing the toxic, dangerous fan backlash to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.)

It’s okay to dislike Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Your opinion is your own and no one can take that away from you. However, there’s something rotten in the Star Wars fanbase. People on the internet have decided to devote countless hours to tearing down a movie that plenty of others love. And while no movie is perfect — Star Wars: The Last Jedi least of all — what’s the point in taking the fun out of movies? Is it retribution for a ruined childhood or vindication that your opinion is right? Or is all this backlash to The Last Jedi simply another product of the internet’s penchant for knee-jerk reactions and instantaneous gratification?

This past weekend, Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened to critical fanfare and skyrocketing box office numbers. But those accomplishments have been overshadowed by a looming force in the sci-fi franchise’s fandom. Some fans are calling it the worst Star Wars movie yet. A few more are harassing director Rian Johnson on Twitter. Others are petitioning that Last Jedi be removed from the series canon immediately. And the difference between the Rotten Tomatoes user and critical scores are very wide. So let’s examine what caused this rift between the critical community and the die-hard fans, and whether it says something about the movie itself, or a growing toxicity in fandom at large.

Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead.

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Star Trek Beyond Review

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why Quentin Tarantino and Star Trek are a match made in hell.)

I’m calling on all of every Star Trek “purist” who claims to have a problem with Star Trek: Discovery to direct their indignation to a piece of news worthy of such emotion — Quentin Tarantino directing a Star Trek movie.

For whatever reason, Paramount has agreed to let Tarantino direct an R-rated Star Trek film, with The Revenant writer Mark L. Smith becoming a prime scriptwriting candidate. The film would be the first R-rated film in Star Trek franchise history. Not only that, but Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, wants to be on board.

I, for one, am shocked. First, because J.J. Abrams, who has had such a good handle on the Star Trek reboot series up until now, has okayed this unholy union. Second, because Tarantino should have enough self-awareness to know he does not belong anywhere near the Star Trek canon.

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Lady Bird rotten tomatoes

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why we should all step back and take a deep breath before we continue talking about the Lady Bird Rotten Tomatoes score.)

Welcome to another day of Rotten Tomatoes scandal! The recent dethroning of Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird from its vaulted position of “best reviewed movie on Rotten Tomatoes” has caused a bit of an uproar. People are upset that one critic could come along and rate the film Rotten instead of Fresh, bringing the 100% grade down to a still-impressive 99%. Is this outrage warranted? Or might everyone benefit from calming down a little? Let’s talk about the Lady Bird Rotten Tomatoes drama.

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johnny depp grindelwald

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why J.K. Rowling and the crew of the Fantastic Beasts sequel should not try to defend the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald.)

I’m disappointed. I’ve long upheld Harry Potter to be a series that explores the devastating consequences of domestic abuse and encourages tolerance and empathy. I admired J.K. Rowling, the author of those beloved books and now a screenwriter of the prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as a proponent of those same standards.

But the magic threatens to be lost. Director David Yates and others involved in the new films have recently been scrambling to defend the casting of Johnny Depp as the evil wizard Grindelwald in the first Fantastic Beasts and its upcoming sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald amid domestic abuse allegations from Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard. And now Rowling has jumped in to defend Depp. Read More »

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thor eye

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: How Marvel’s episodic treatment of their characters undercuts the larger dramatic arc.)

The events of Thor: Ragnarok had some enormous consequences that should have lasting effects on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But will those events really mean anything if they are just going to get retconned in the next film?

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MoviePass Restrictions

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: MoviePass’s latest terms of service updates are ridiculous.)

It’s been three months since MoviePass announced their new subscription model allowing consumers to pay $10 a month for the ability to see a movie in theaters everyday. The company initially wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of new customers signing up for MoviePass, which caused significant delays in the shipping of the card to subscribers. On top of that, the customer service provided to both longtime and new customers was dismal, and there were glitches abound for users after the new price point was introduced.

Thankfully, MoviePass has mostly fixed these problems, though they have created some concerns with some recent, vaguely threatening changes to their rules and regulations for subscribers. But MoviePass users still have a problem, and unfortunately, it’s the largest movie theater chain in the United States: AMC Theatres. Read More »

Star Trek Discovery Gay Characters

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get personal, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how Star Trek: Discovery, and series star Anthony Rapp, feel more necessary than ever following the allegations against Kevin Spacey.)

Lt. Stamets of the starship Discovery has taken on a bolder meaning in recent weeks.

The actor behind the Star Trek: Discovery character, Anthony Rapp, revealed that Kevin Spacey once tried to sexually coerce him when Rapp was just 14 years old. Learning about the act of sexual misconduct was shocking enough on its own, but what made things even more shocking was Spacey’s initial statement about why he did it. To paraphrase his statement, he acted this way because he was drunk and in the closet.

It’s important to note that Rapp, who is gay, is playing a gay man in a relationship on television at a time when an actor like Spacey has sought to use what is supposed to be a brave moment — coming out — as a way to deflect from his predatory relationships. This poses a threat to strides the LGBT community has made across the board towards inclusion and positive representation, and exposes people once again to the stereotypes that being LGBT is synonymous with being a sexual predator. Thankfully, it’s Rapp’s own presence in Star Trek: Discovery, as well as his relationship with Wilson Cruz’s Dr. Culber that illustrates for viewers that whatever Spacey believes about being gay is absolutely untrue.

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Why TV Revivals Need to Stop

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get personal, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: why TV shows keep coming back from the dead and why this needs to stop.)

TV show reboots and revivals have been around for decades. Just look at Leave it to Beaver, the 1950s black-and-white sitcom that was resurrected in the ‘80s as — wait for it — The New Leave It to Beaver. There’s The Odd Couple and The Twilight Zone; even the cartoon classic Tom and Jerry came back 74 years after its original creation.

So we can’t pretend that younger generations have any kind of monopoly on the concept of a television revival. But over the last couple of years, we have seen an especially high concentration of sometimes long-dead series announcing their return, to the point that sometimes it feels like everything new is just an old story reimagined.

And sure, fans tend to welcome these reunions rabidly. How can we help ourselves? Look at Arrested Development, which according to film critic and podcast host Tom O’Keefe “probably kicked off this recent spate of revivals.” Its return after a short-lived first run was hugely anticipated — but also hugely disappointing. Yet even after that fourth season, Netflix is releasing a fifth in 2018, and fans are already cautiously optimistic.

Are we gluttons for punishment, or do we just not know when to stop?

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lady bird 3

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get personal, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how the new film Lady Bird helped one writer salvage his relationship with his mother.)

Greta Gerwig‘s new movie, Lady Bird, opens in theaters tomorrow. It’s a stunning piece of work, beautifully felt, ambitious both in its scope and intimacy, with striking performances from Saorsie Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Also, the film may have saved my relationship with my own mother. But we’ll get there. In a moment. Because our personal connections with the movies require context. They require as to sort through our baggage. And I have baggage to spare.

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