What’s All the Hoopla About?

hoopla_hightechsociety

So, I’m a little late today as I got up a bit later than normal.  I would normally do the blog either during breakfast or shortly afterwards, but today (in addition to picking up my car–yay!) I needed to reset my password to Hoopla, a service that my home public library, Chattanooga Public Library subscribes to and that I have access to by being a member.

What is Hoopla?

Hoopla is a streaming service that is more than just a traditional streaming service.  It allows you to borrow (for my institution) 10 items per month.  Notice that I said, items, not movies or TV shows.  It does have movies and television, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.  However, it also has comics/graphic novelsebooksaudiobooks, and music (!).  I’ve used it before and really liked it.  What it lacks in terms of terms of hit releases (very few major releases), it makes up with breadth–there are a lot of good genre materials embedded within each of the categories.

Summer Hoopla

So, while I’ve got a ton of work to do over the summer, in terms of getting ready for my summer classes this summer, I’m going to try to catch up on reading some of the comics/graphic novels (& books) that I’ve put off over the school year.  They have quite a few Marvel graphic novels, Star Wars, Star Trek, and other properties (again, books and graphic novels, mostly, not so much with movies/television).  Still, now that I trying to integrate Popular Culture into my scholarship as a Pop. Culture scholar, I actually need some pop. culture to go with my scholarship.

I would encourage you to check out Hoopla if your library has a subscription.  If not, then you might want to see if your library has something similar.  It is a really useful service that I plan to investigate more over this summer.

Sidney




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The Heart of a Champion: Rocky Balboa vs. Jason Bourne (Characterization)

 

Who Would Win?

Okay, so who would win in a fight between Rocky Balboa (RB) and Jason Bourne (JB)?  JB would win easily–why, because he’s an operative with fighting skills par excellence.  He is a “killer” as the villain in the Bourne Supremacy (#2 in the JB series) says to him.  Rocky Balboa wouldn’t stand a chance.

Or would he?

Training Montage in Rocky

Rocky Balboa isn’t a smart man (school-wise) and he knows it.  However, he does have heart.  Now let’s be realistic for a moment–in the fictional fight between RB and JB that I just set up, JB would take it because the fight is between an “Everyman” vs an “Extraordinary-man.”   They are not in the same league as one another (different weight-classes to continue the fighting metaphor.  However, my point is that we see Rocky as he trains and gets better and better.  When he starts out, we see that Rocky has to eat special food, and that he can’t even complete his first run.  He returns, holding his side in pain.  Slowly, as the training unfolds, we see him getting better and better, becoming a danger to Apollo Creed (Rocky’s opponent) that Creed’s manager recognizes, even if Creed himself is too busy with the “business” of boxing to pay attention.  Finally, we see Rocky’s training pay off and he becomes the best that he can and a worthy opponent to Creed, instead of the also-ran Creed assumed he would be.

No Training Montage in Bourne Identity

Now, let’s look at Jason Bourne for a second.  He is a “killer” with immense physical skills and prowess, but where is his “training montage?”  JB doesn’t get one–he wakes up in the park and suddenly “knows” all of the skills that he has.  JB has never had to “earn” his skills.  We don’t see him getting better, we don’t see him starting at “zero,” hurting, and then pushing past the hurt, the pain, and keep going.  He has all of his skills innately. Sure, in the last movie we learn something of his past and see indications of the “training” that moved “broke” him, but we still (outside of a small scene in Jason Bourne with a punching bag) haven’t seen any indication of JB having to suffer to obtain his abilities (although one could argue that JB suffers psychologically based on the trauma that his abilities and who is brings to his personal/social life, but that’s another blog post for another time).

My point is, while JB would totally win in a fight, the fact that we see RB struggling to train and be the best he can be, we tend to throw our sympathies behind RB more.  He had to earn his abilities–they weren’t just given to him as JB’s essentially were.

Implications for my Writing

Remember to show the character’s/characters’ struggles.  Without struggle, it is really hard for the audience to see the character’s/characters’ progression and arc.  JB struggles, but his struggle is more emotional than physical in nature, while RB’s struggles combine both the physical and the emotional and that’s why the movie Rocky is perennially on best films lists, like AFI Top 100 Films (#78) and the 10th Anniversary edition of the List (#57).  The Bourne movies, while popular, don’t make the list.

It’s all about heart. 🙂

Sidney



What’s On My Bookshelf: Star Wars: The Complete Saga

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Star Wars: The Complete Collection (box, slipcase, and discs).  Image Source: Zavvi

This collection is available from Amazon.com, however, it appears to have been rereleased later with the packaging being different than the one I bought.

The Prequels

Star Wars: The Complete Saga is one of those purchases that Lucasfilm marketing and George Lucas counted on fans like myself buying.  Until Lucas sold the SW brand to DisneySW was pretty much my favorite series of all time due to the characters, mythology, and world-building.  Regardless of how you like (or dislike) Disney’s handling of the sequels, SW: TCS represented all 6 of the movies on Bluray up until that point.  The fidelity of the movies (picture quality and sound) are stunning.  While the prequels are of questionable quality based on their story and characterization, they are a masterful technical achievement with the space battle sequence of the 3rd movie integrated computer graphics.

The “Original” Story

It should be noted at the outset that if you are “purist,” you still aren’t getting the “original” release of the original SW movies with this collection–rather the “Special Editions” of those movies that Lucas recut in the late 1990s with the additional CGI material added in.  Just so you’re aware.  I prefer the original cut of the movies, but it isn’t a make or break deal for me.  I’ve gushed over this trilogy before in other blog posts, so I won’t rehash it here, but I think that the audio and the picture fidelity is really good.  Not 4K unfortunately, but still an awesome 1080p master of the movies.

No Sequels (or Digital Editions)

So, that’s right–this came out before Lucas sold the rights to the brand to Disney, so The Force Awakens isn’t included (nor Rogue One, and now, The Last Jedi), so it really is the “Not so Complete Edition,” but at the time it was “complete.”  One thing that really bums me out about this edition is the lack of Digital Editions.  This almost was a deal-breaker for me, and I almost didn’t purchase this edition.  The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Editions did come with Digital Editions (and the Extended Editions to boot–but I don’t think Amazon is selling that “edition” anymore as it wasn’t there when I looked for this post).  Lucasfilm wanted to “double-dip” and get paid twice for the same content.  As much as I would like the convenience of digital as these are my favorites, I refuse to pay again for these movies and I do not own them in digital format, especially when their competition figured it out.   Still, to have the “complete” (at the time) set, I ultimately decided it was worth it.

Well, that’s it for today, and I hope you enjoyed this brief look at another boxed set that is on my Bookshelf.

Sidney



 

 

Mini-Review: Saban’s Power Rangers (2017)

Over the weekend, I was in the mood for some lighter fare, so I streamed Saban’s The Power Rangers (2017)–which is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime.  It had a four star rating and didn’t look terrible so I thought I’d give it a try.  While not a great movie, it still wasn’t the absolute abomination that the last Turtles movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows turned out to be last year when I watched it.

A Typical “Teen” Movie

One of its faults (& strengths, I suppose if you’re a part of that demographic) is that it is like any other “teen” movie you’ve seen a thousand times before.  A group of misfit teens must overcome their differences and band together to become much more than they could be on their own.  While the characters aren’t really new and interesting, the actors portraying them do a fairly good job of showing the characters’ emotions.  The script, however, leaves a lot of things to be desired: chiefly, more time spent on fleshing out the characters, less on silly jokes that are more than a little cringe-worthy.

A Typical “Team” Movie

Also, like any other “team” movie, you’ll find that they don’t fully “gel” as a team until the end of the movie because they’ve got “issues.”  What those issues are, I won’t spoil, but while they are “major” to the characters, I got to say, it didn’t really feel like they were major to the audience.  Similarly, much of the destruction by and against our heroes is largely ignored until the plot calls for it.  Remember the scene in the trailers where Rita attacks one of the Rangers alone in her bedroom?  Well, that was part of a longer five minute scene which the bedroom and surrounding walls were pretty much trashed, yet no parent or sibling ever came to check to see what the heck was going on, let alone cops being called at the sight of a crazy witch-lady assaulting one of your kids in your own home.

Krispy Kreme Much?

Lastly, product placement.  Look, I like Krispy Kreme donuts as much as the next person (we have one in Chattanooga that I frequent at least twice a year), but the “product/brand” placement was over the top in this movie.  So much so, that it took me out of the movie when we found out that’s where the movie’s macguffin is hidden.  It is like the only major product that we see in the movie and it really calls attention to itself in an obnoxiously obvious way.  No donuts for you!

Overall Grade: C (+/- depending on whether you like or dislike these types of movies)

It is a competently made movie that you’ve likely seen a dozen or more times in other genres or places.  It isn’t stellar but it isn’t completely horrible either.  You might like it (or hate it) more than I did depending on your taste for these types of movies (which is why I added the +/-), but for me it is solidly average.  At least, it wasn’t as bad as TMNT: OotS (for me, at least) and I was able to have a fairly good time with Power Rangers once I shut off the analytical part of my brain and enjoyed it for the teen super hero/nostalgia movie that it was trying so hard to be for fans of the original show.

Sidney



What’s on My Bookshelf? Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition (Movie)

Movies and Video Games

I have two main types of Bookshelves–one for books and one for movies and video games.  I have multiple bookcases, but it basically breaks out into these two types.   This week I’m picking from my movie and video game bookshelf and I’ll probably alternate between the two each week.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition is in my Top Ten Movies of all time.  This is very much the fantasy complement to Star Wars and is second only to SW as my favorite movie trilogy of all time.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the first two movies in the theaters, but I saw them on Blu-Ray later.  I actually didn’t see the theatrical release–but waited until the individual releases of the Extended Editions.  I’ve always wondered how I would have liked these movies had I saw them in theaters–the scale would have been epic, but I really like all the additional material that the EE brings to the story.  I think that Tolkien would have approved as he was adamant about history providing additional context and believability to his stories.

The Extra Stuff

While the movies are amazing and are a must see if you haven’t already, it is the extras on the disc that are really the reason why I like it.  These are the same extras as on the individual releases of the Blu-Rays, but I really like the extra information about Tolkien, about the construction of Middle Earth, about the construction of the movies, and about the way the movies came together.  The level of detail about the extras is astounding and has come to form the way I view extras in movie releases.  The nascent creator in me definitely approves–I always appreciate a look behind the “curtain” as it were.

Here’s hoping for a good week for all!

Sidney




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Updated Marvel Ranking Post with Black Panther

 

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So, this is a super short post.  I had to go to the Driver’s License Center this morning to renew my Driver’s License.  For those not in America, your Driver’s License in America is SUPER-IMPORTANT!  We don’t have a “universal ID,” in America, but this is pretty close.  It functions as the ID for employment, for (obviously) driving, for banking, for home ownership, for voting, etc.  There’s very little you can do without it, so that’s where I was this morning.

I noticed that over the weekend, people were interested in the Ranking of Marvel Movies post, so I thought I’d fast track my ranking with Black Panther.  I should also note that I forgot that I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and while I didn’t have time to add it in, I will in fairly short order, so the only Marvel movie I haven’t seen is Thor: Ragnarok which I hope to see in May.  Well, that’s all I have time for today!

Sidney



Super Bowl Trailer: Black Panther (Marvel) & Planning on seeing Black Panther Saturday

Black Panther Movie Poster_IMDB

Black Panther (Marvel Movie) Movie Poster Releasing on 2_16_18, Image Source: IMDB.com

Regular readers of the blog know that I am a fan of both Marvel and DC.  Yes, heresy I know, but unlike many who watch the comic book movies, I’m actually a fan of comics books.  I bought odd issues from Rite Aid stores (they were called Eckerds Drug Stores) back in the late ’70s and early ’80s from their round spinners that they used to keep near the checkout counter–or more accurately, I should my parents would deign to buy them for me when I saw one that really caught my eye (did I mention that my parents were big on reading?).  Later, as I grew up and received an allowance for chores, the bulk of my money went towards books and comics.  I generally had enough money for 2 paperback books (Sci-Fi/Fantasy, of course) and either 1 magazine or 2 comic books.  Sometimes, if the mag. was cheap enough, I could even squeeze in a comic.  So I have a pretty sizable collection (I had more, but traded about a third away).  The point is, I actually read and enjoyed comics, so I really like and enjoy the comic book movies–most of them, anyway.  So I am stoked about the upcoming Black Panther movie.

Going Saturday
I enjoy most Marvel movies and that I’m really invested in the Marvel Universe (however, because of AMC buying out the local Carmike theater, I missed the latest Marvel and DC movies.  While I wasn’t able to find a new theater, I went ahead and bought advance tickets for Black Panther to see on Saturday, so fingers crossed–I hope it will be good.

 

 

Planning on Doing a Non-Spoiler Review and Updating Marvel Ranking Post
If I do go and see it, I will, of course, do a non-spoiler review as I tend to do with the movies that I go see in theaters.  I will probably also rank it on the Ranking of Marvel Movies post as well, but I will probably need to add in the fact somewhere that I’ve missed a Marvel movie (Thor Ragnarok).  The listing won’t actually be complete until I’ve seen that movie and it might be a while based on school, in particular, and life, in general.

Anyway, I hope to be able to talk to you more about it next week and here’s hoping that it has some really strong plotting, characterization, and visuals (& a good dose of humor) as well.

Well, that’s all I have time for today–have a great day, everyone!

Sidney
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