Four Letter Nerd

Author - Jeff Merrick

Game of Thrones Season Six Promo Poster Released by HBO

On its Facebook page yesterday, HBO put out its first promotional poster for Game of Thrones Season 6 and the ramifications of its content are significant.

In fact, there are two major reveals from this poster, one that is obvious to everyone, but another that only those of us who follow GOT news in the offseason would realize.

But before discussing those revelations, let’s take a look at the poster (stop reading if you absolutely positively want zero spoilers for season six):

Now obviously, observation number one is Jon Freakin Snow!!!! Now is it possible that HBO is pulling a bait and switch here and that is really just the dead body of Jon Snow that will be burned in the first episode. Sure, but would they really want to build anticipation like this for five months only to piss off their fans in the first episode? That would be the ultimate dick move and very bad for business.

I think the safer assumption is Jon Snow will be returning despite his demise being insisted upon by everyone involved with it at the end of last season. But so much evidence has leaked since the end of last season that HBO finally decided to come clean and admit that yes, Jon Snow will be coming back to life for season six.

The next, less obvious reveal here is the likely premiere date for Season Six. For those that haven’t been following, seeing April as the month for the Season 6 premiere is not surprising. After all, only one of the previous five seasons has not premiered in April (and that was Season 3, which premiered on March 31st).

But HBO only runs one centerpiece drama at a time. And a new series, Vinyl, will be holding down GOT’s 9 pm/ 8 pm central time slot until April 17th. And since that only leaves one Sunday left in April, you can tentatively mark your calendars for April 24th has the date Game of Thrones Season 6 will premiere.

Now, that is by far the latest premiere date for a Game of Thrones season so far. I hope it gives George R.R. Martin enough time to (finally) get his 6th book out before the new season (and give me enough time to read it before the new season, which will likely include material from the yet to be printed Winds of Winter).

 

 

What if “The Force Awakens” Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype?

The upcoming release of the 7th Star Wars film might be the most anticipated film of the year. So many factors, such as heavy criticism of the prequels, the return of the original cast, and the departure of George Lucas have Star Wars fans everywhere buying merchandise and presale tickets.

With all the positive buzz surrounding it, there is just no way, “The Force Awakens” could possibly  be a bust, is there?

Now before I move on, I want to make clear up front that I personally believe “The Force Awakens” will be incredible. JJ Abrams has consistently produced quality work over the last ten years and I see no reason why he would suddenly forget how to put together a great Sci-Fi movie. And the film is guaranteed to be a financial success before it’s even screened by a public audience for the first time.

But no movie is a guaranteed hit. So what if the unthinkable happens? What if Episode 7 proves itself to be as big or a bigger flop than the Phantom Menace (once again not a flop in financial terms, but in the quality of product on screen)? And all the buzz for “Force” certainly raises a high bar for what fans are expecting from it.

So let’s think hypothetically; what would the consequences be if “The Force Awakens” proves itself to be an on-screen (not financial) flop?

Kermit putting things in perspective

1. The Backlash From Star Wars Fans Would Make the One that Followed Phantom Menace Look Like a Gentlemen’s Disagreement

Now, I can’t say for certain what this would look like. Maybe it’s a tearing down of JJ Abrams and everything he’s ever done on Reddit. Maybe they refuse to go see the next Star Wars movi….wait, I couldn’t even finish that one. Of course, we will still see the movies. But not until we’ve given the franchise three times the hell that George Lucas received before seeing the next two.

Some of the early footage from “Force Awakens” that has everyone excited.

2. A Proud Brand Will Lose Credibility

The place of the originals is well-established. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 will always be in the realm of legendary cinema. But the overall brand that puts out merchandise, comic books, novels, video games and “children’s” programming is sure to take a hit. Will fans of the franchise continue to flock to the shelves and scoop up anything with their Sci-Fi franchises name on it? I suspect, after having been duped twice in the last twenty years, that they will not.

How would the credibility of the franchise hold up to another letdown if “The Force Awakens” cannot live up to the hype?

3. Episodes 4-6 (the original theatrical versions that is) will be released on Blue-Ray

Episodes 7-9 will make money at the box office regardless of how well received “The Force Awakens” is. But I doubt Disney, the current owners of Star Wars, is expecting just a solid box office haul. If DVD sales and merchandise come up short of expectations because of a disappointing Episode 7, then Disney will need to do something drastic, something that would get discouraged fans back behind the franchise after another disappointing experience. I don’t know if they would have to steal the key from Lucas manor to get a hold of them, but just maybe they push to get the original Star Wars movies released as they were presented in the theaters 25-30 years ago (instead of the rereleased versions Lucas has peddled out since the 1990’s). Disney maybe trying to do this anyway regardless of how Episode 7 does (or at least they should be). But any reservations they have about attempting to get these movies out maybe pushed aside should Episode 7 fall short of the hype preceding it.

Could some potential good come from an episode 7 flop?

Conclusion

I remember the hype for Episode 1. The only difference between then and now is that social media wasn’t around like it is today to push upcoming projects. Otherwise, the buzz was at a similar pitch to today and “Phantom” did not live up it.

So before you immediately dismiss the possibility, just remember that hyped movies have failed many times before to entertain their audience. I do hope “The Force Awakens” is everything and more we are all expecting it to be. But like any other movie, there is a chance it will not be.

Why Marvel Is (and Should Be) Delaying Captain Marvel

Marvel has done it again. And they only have themselves to blame for the controversy. For some reason, we expect successful people and industries to right the wrongs of our society. So when they behave like a successful company instead of social trailblazers, we scald them for their insensitivity.

What I am referring to is the recent decision by Marvel to delay “Captain Marvel,” the first female led Marvel movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for the sequel to Ant-Man (“Ant-Man and the Wasp”).

Marvel will release the Ant-Man sequel, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” July 6th, 2018, pushing back “Captain Marvel” to March 18, 2019.

The decision makes perfect financial sense. Ant-Man was another very successful movie for the MCU. And smart movie production companies follow up successful films with more, similarly themed successful films. Captain Marvel, on the other hand, carries with it a financial risk. And it’s not because Captain Marvel is based on a female character that it is a riskier proposition. The risk comes from Captain Marvel being an obscure superhero whose earning potential is unknown.

All the cost of a movie happen upfront. Movies studios pay anywhere from $100-200 million to make and advertise a new film before a single dime in revenue comes in. That is why when a movie is successful, dozens of movies just like it come out. Movies studios must limit the risks they take because losing money multiple pictures will put that studio out of business.

To date, Ant-Man has made $410 million for Marvel.

So the issue here is not Marvel making the smart financial decision to release the likely to be successful Ant-Man sequel before the more risky Captain Marvel. The issue is why is it taking 11 years from the release of the first Iron Man for the MCU to put out its first female driven movie? Are misogynistic men in suits sitting around a table in an office somewhere vowing to delay the presence of a lead female as long as they can? Or do they delay these movies because audiences still won’t flock to a female driven superhero movie?

I cannot answer those last two questions with any certainty. I doubt movie studios would hold back on films with strong female leads if they thought it would bring a strong profit. But how can they know for certain until they try it? Focus group data can only go so far.

And is the superhero audience really that hesitant to pay money to see such a film? As pointed out by fellow 4LNer, Stephen, the previous attempts at superhero films with a female lead (“Elektra,” “Catwoman”) may be making the studios hesitant to try one again.

But those were horribly made films. A female lead was not what made those movies unwatchable. Let’s hope “Captain Marvel,” delay and all, will be done properly and be successful so studios will no longer have any reason to be so hesitant.

Game of Thrones Offseason Report: The Latest on Jon Snow

Emmy award winning (that’s right folks, it finally took the top prize for best drama this year!!!) Game of Thrones is busy shooting the sixth season of the critically acclaimed drama. And no one connected to the show will say anything about it.

http://johnsonking.typepad.co.uk/.a/6a00d8341e442c53ef01bb084807ce970d-pi

(Stop reading now if you are not caught up through Season 5 or want nothing spoiling the upcoming Season 6)

But that hasn’t stopped people from leaking information, particularly when it comes to a certain character who finished last season laying in the snow dead in a pool of his own blood.

Producers and the actor himself insisted after the season 5 finale that Jon Snow was truly dead. But numerous sitings of Kit Harrington in Northern Ireland have continued to stoke rumors that have persisted since the end of last season that Jon Snow would be brought back to life at some point.

But while everything has been speculation up to this point about Jon Snow’s return, the most convincing evidence came with a report yesterday from the website “Watchers On the Wall.” Here’s some of what they reported:

The latest photos from Northern Ireland, courtesy of the Daily Mail, bring with them a huge spoiler and a visual confirmation that fans have been waiting for.

MAJOR SPOILER:

A photo of Kit Harington, at work on a snowy field, confirms what pretty much everyone knew by now: Jon Snow has returned from the dead and will be gracing our screens in season 6.

Here’s the leaked photo in question:

Kit

That sure does appear to be Jon Snow, but not dressed in the black he has worn for most of the last five seasons. I guess getting stabbed 20 times by your “sworn brothers” discourages one from staying aligned to them after returning from the dead.

So it would appear the issue is no longer whether Jon Snow is coming back from the dead, but how (cough, Red Priestess, cough cough).

The full report from Watchers on the Wall can be found here. I encourage you to check out their site frequently for the latest casting and filming developments.

 

Comparing Marvel to the NFL

It’s that time of year folks!!! I am not going to quantify that with a “best time” or “worst time” because that is dependent on who you are. For guys like me, football season is the best time of the sports calendar, bar none. For non football fans, however, the oversaturation and “spirit” of this season can be a bit much (especially the wives and girlfriends who feel they will be sharing their man with another).

With that in mind, I (with the help of the fellas here at 4LN) have put together a list comparing two of our (well some of us, that is) favorite things: the NFL and Marvel superheroes. Here are several popular (and unpopular) NFL personalities and their Marvel hero (or villain) counterpart.

Russell Wilson/Spider-Man

Super Bowl Winner Russell Wilson is young, athletic, and due for a 2nd reboot in the next two years. Well that last part’s not true. But much like Peter Parker, Wilson stayed very busy during his college years: starting at quarterback for two different teams, playing minor league baseball, and earning a degree all at the same time. But considering how much Wilson is getting paid, I’d say he has a better agent than Mr. Parker.

Peyton Manning/Captain America

 

Who else in the NFL embodies downhome American values like Mr. Manning? Both men also share strong leadership qualities with Captain America leading the Avengers while Peyton is the unquestioned leader of the offensive huddle (sometimes more so than his coach). One difference is Peyton has a much better comedic sense about him than Mr. Rogers does, as exhibited by this video from SNL (better quality might be available at Hulu):

Marshawn Lynch/ The Hulk

Both men shy away from social situations. Lynch has set records for the number of fines he’s received for not attending mandatory press conferences (yes, the NFL requires their players to speak to the media), while the Hulk (or more accurately Bruce Banner) skips away to secluded foreign locals every chance he gets. But both men show superhuman strength when they get going: the Hulk when he’s angry and Lynch when he gets momentum beyond the line of scrimmage. Here’s a few examples of Mr. Lynch in action on the field (the first one producded a reaction on the seismograph):

Clay Matthews/Thor

This one is the most obvious of them all. No, Clay Matthews doesn’t walk around with a hammer that only he can wield. But the physical appearance (especially the hair) makes these two a clear match. I also want to dedicate this section, the one with her favorite superhero and football player, to my lovely wife, Megan. My strong resemblance to Thor is the main reason why she is with me ;).

Richard Sherman/Iron Man

Much like Tony Stark, Richard Sherman is a genius. He was Salutatorian in high school with a 4.2 GPA and is currently working towards a master at Stanford (which is, you know, a fairly prestigious university). Both men also share a propensity towards a sarcastic wit. Not everyone is a fan of these two, but no one can question their value to their respective teams.

Seattle Seahawks/Guardians of the Galaxy

The Seattle Seahawks have been a franchise in the NFL since 1974. The Guardians first appeared in a comic book in 1969. Until recently, neither one of these entities drew interest from anyone outside of a few devoted fans. Now, after a couple of Super Bowl Appearances and $774 million dollars made at the theaters, everybody (and I mean everyone!!!) is suddenly a fan. The amount of Seahawk gear I see people strutting around wearing in the Nashville area (a team 2395 miles away) is very strong evidence of this.

New England Patriots/Hydra

The longer a team is successful, the more people get tired of that team. That is why the Patriots take the spot of the hated Hydra from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’ve been a contender since 2002 with four super bowl championships since that time and six appearances total in the big game. They also have a reputation for manipulating the system to get their way, including illegally spying on the opposition and deflating footballs (yes, this is supposed to give you an advantage). And much like Hydra (who reemerged in Winter Soldier), you think they’re defeated, only to have them appear years later and take another championship (it was 10 years between titles for the Pats when they one last year’s title).

Bill Belichuk/Red Skull

And who else could be the equal of Captain America’s archrival other than the fearless leader of the Patriots himself. Belichick is condescending at press conferences, his game attire is atrocious, and he thinks his way is better than your way. And for a bonus, he’s been a thorn in the side of the NFL’s Captain America (Mr. Manning) throughout his career.

Tom Brady/The Punisher

I put Brady here because of the polarizing figure that he is. Much like the Punisher, he’s a tweener. Frank Castle usually fights for good, but not everyone agrees with the methods he uses. Despite the hatred for his coach and team, Brady still keeps a modest amount of popularity. And though many have their opinions of Brady soured by the “deflategate” scandal, the hatred for his opponent in that farce that was that trial garners him some sympathy.

Rob Gronkowski/Juggernaut

Not the most well known character of the marvel universe, but I do not think there is a better comparison to Gronk than the mutant with superhuman strength. You definitely want to get out of the way when both men get a full head of steam. Here’s an example of one of Gronk’s catch and runs and the strength involved as explained by ESPN’s Sports Science:

Aaron Rodgers/Cyclops

As long as he’s wearing his visor, Cyclops has the ability to control the beams of light that come from his eyes. Rogers has a similar ability with his arm as one of the NFL’s most accurate passers. Both men are also leaders of their respective teams.

Eli Manning/Hawkeye

Hawkeye’s reputation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a mixed bag. On one hand, he spent most of the first Avengers movie working for Loki, causing a lot of damage against the good guys. But then in Avengers 2, Hawkeye was one of the heroes, keeping his head the entire movie and having the most balanced personal life of all the Avengers.

Manning as a similar mixed reputation. During the regular season, Manning routinely throws to the men wearing the wrong jersey. But he also has two Super Bowl rings and really nice 8-3 playoff record to go with it.

JJ Watt/Drax the Destroyer

Two insanely strong and athletic specimens, Drax and JJ are like a pair of twins separated at birth. The only difference is one of them (JJ) developed a hilarious personality on his way to stardom while Drax sense of humor is more like Belichick. Here’s a little sample of JJ showing his Draxness at a Zac Brown Band concert:

Tony Romo/Loki

Somehow, one of the most anticipated super hero movies of all time ended up with Loki as the main bad guy. No offense to Thor’s brother (or Tom Hiddleston, who owns the role), but was he really the best choice for a villain that would require all the members of the Avengers  to come together for the first time? I guess they had to start somewhere. And Loki had his moment shining in the spotlight before being relegated back to the list of villains who’ve been defeated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That brings us to Mr. Romo. The man somehow found his way to quarterbacking “America’s team.” And he has his moments (especially in the regular season). But come playoff time, Romo’s teams inevitably step aside to better, more fearsome foes.

Oakland Raiders/Fantastic Four

Both of these franchises have rabid fan bases. Both have a lot of history and prestige that go with their names. But the recent results for both teams have just been awful.

Tim Tebow/Quiksilver

If you haven’t seen Avengers 2, skip over this entry to the next one. I know the man is always trying to make a comeback. But that predictably went nowhere. All we are likely to have from Tebow is his one small run of late season heroics in 2011 (like this playoff win against Pittsburgh):

But Tebow only started in one more game following this dramatic finish (a loss the next week to New England). Much like Tebow, Quiksilver was a flash in the pan for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Appearing in Avengers 2 (after a post credit scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier), Quiksilver joined the battle to defeat Ultron and sacrificed his life to save Hawkeye.

 

Roger Goodell/Thanos

The often criticized commissioner of the NFL may have more power than any CEO/President of any organization in the country. Whether it be his tepid response to domestic violence committed by NFL players or his inconsistent punishments for wrongdoings (Ray Rice initially received 2 games for knocking his then fiancé out on an elevator while other players receive 4 games for taking the wrong “over the counter” supplement), Goodell may be the most disliked pro sports commissioner. But much like Thanos, he is all powerful. When a player appeals his suspension, guess who hears the appeal? The Commish (“hmm…should I stick with my original thoughts on the subject? Yes, I think I will”). And just like defeating Thanos will require all of the MCU, it’s going to take the entire NFL teaming up to end the reign of Roger Goodell.

 

 

Dragon Con 2015 Parade

Dragon Con is the one of the most attended conventions of its kind in the country. Taking place every year on Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, over 60,000 people attend the four day festival, turning the streets of the southern city into a giant costume ball with convention goers walking the streets at all hours dressed up as their favorite characters from various fantasy genres.

I had the privilege of being in Atlanta Saturday morning to witness the parade featuring various groups who get to showcase the hobby they put so much time and dedication into. Here’s some photos:

 

 

Yoda

Luke Skywalker and the cutest Yoda ever

Deadpool

 

An Army of Deadpools

 

Nightcrawler

 

Nightcrawler of the Block Heroes

Pinocchio

Pinocchio with some inspiring words

 

avatar

Avatar

 

pirates

Random Pirates (not to be confused with Pirates of the Caribbean pirates)

Three Hundred

The 300 Contingent (My wife’s personal favorite)

Batmobile

The Classic Batmobile….

Classic B and R

 

….with the classic Batman and Robin.

 

Peter Hamilton

 

Author Peter Hamilton

Sharknado

 

 

Sharknado with Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the Background

Queen Amidala

 

Queen Amidala

Chewbacca

 

Chewbacca

Two Wolverines

 

Two generations of Wolverine

Gandalf

 

Gandalf

 

Star Trek Star

 

Nichel Nichols aka Lieutenant Uhara from Star Trek

Never will you attend an event and see a group more willing to interact with the crowd than the participants of the Dragon Con parade. For anyone into Cosplay or any form of nerd culture, I encourage you to make at least one attempt to see this collection of people putting their full effort into the things they are so passionate about.

 

Box Office Buzz, By the Numbers: Fantastic Four

Today at 4LN, we join the long lines of critics and fans who’ve found time to pummel into submission the monstrosity of a motion picture known as the “Fantastic Four” reboot. I have to admit it feels like piling on as I write this analysis of it’s box office performance. But the numbers don’t lie, and in this inaugural installment of “Box Office Buzz,” I will discuss just how bad the numbers were for Twentieth Century Fox’s attempt at kicking off a super hero franchise.

Critical opinion widely panned “Fantastic Four” to the tune of an 8% aggregate rating based on the reviews of 154 critics on rotten tomatoes. Now critics can often be out of touch with what audiences find entertaining. But that was not the case with FF as out of the 124,000 audience members on the same site who offered their opinions, only 24% liked the movie.

The money further tells the tale of “Fantastic Four”, a movie so bad that even it’s own director distanced himself from it before it’s release. Over the weekend, FF made only $26.2 million in the US and $34.1 million internationally for a grand total of $60.3 million (only half of it’s $120 million dollar budget). Now compare that to the 2005 edition of “Fantastic Four” that this movie was supposed to improve on the quality of. After making $56 million it’s first weekend, the original FF finished with a total of $330 million in box office earnings (after spending $100 million to make it).

For all its flaws, the 2005 Fantastic Four still found a way to make money.

Now to be fair, “Fantastic Four” did have one of the worst release dates in the history of super hero movies, coming just a few months after the release of Avengers 2, Ant-Man (which hit $300 million at the box office this weekend), and the widely acclaimed trailers for the upcoming “Deadpool,” “Batman vs Superman” and “Suicide Squad.” Having already spent money on those two movies and with the expectation of more great super hero fare in the future (not to mention a certain space sequel a few people are excited about in December), movie goers (like myself) were already skeptical of spending more money this summer. Add to that the poor buzz FF received before it’s official release and it never had a chance of succeeding financially.

As for the future, FF looks destined to not bring back its budget at the box office. Most movies have their best financials on opening weekend. And the continued berating of critics and fans is unlikely to encourage other to head to the theater to see what has become a super hero movie disaster.

Two of our members saw the film this weekend. Stephen will share his thoughts in an upcoming review. Bill, who has been pretty desperate to see a Marvel inspired movie struggle, said “I don’t know how to sum up what I feel in one sentence” because it was that bad. He did later heavily criticize the appearance of Dr. Doom, saying he looked more like C3PO or the Deadpool from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” than the actual Dr. Doom.

But as of today, Fox still says they plan on following through with a planned 2017 sequel. We will see how firm those plans remain as time passes.

Game of Thrones to Go 8 Seasons? Prequel series possible?

We have news folks!!! It’s been a whole six weeks since season 5 ended and news about season six for Game of Thrones has been almost non existent. Yes, there are a few leaked photos and casting descriptions for next season out there. But unfortunately for me, the Game of Thrones guy here at 4LN, it appears the creatives behind HBO’s top show plan to keep next season one big secret.

Consider that last year at Comic Con, the producers (Dan Benoif and Dan Weiss) of GoT were there, George R.R. Martin was there, and there was a video introducing new characters and the actors that were cast to play them. This year’s panel? No producers, no author, and a tape of old casting auditions. No new characters, no new locations, nothing of substance whatsoever.

So when someone associated with HBO (the network’s programming president, Michael Lombardo) says something at an official press gathering (the Television Critic’s Association summer press tour), I have to jump all over it.

Lombardo seems to think the show will go about 8 seasons (or has he said it, “two more years after 6”) on Thursday. Now what makes this significant is Benioff and Weiss have insisted on a total of 7 seasons for awhile now. But if what Lombardo is saying and implying is true, that narrative has changed not only on his end, but on their end.

Of course, Lombardo is on record wanting ten seasons, so 8 seasons seems like the perfect compromise between allowing HBO to cash in on the show, but not letting it get away from itself creatively.  And based on all the different storylines at play right now, I don’t see how they can all be resolved in two more seasons.

Also, Lombardo hinted at being open to a prequel series, but seemed to indicate that no discussions have taken place regarding this concept. It also doesn’t sound like any project would move forward without Thrones producers Benoiff and Weiss. But it is something to keep an eye on as GoT moves towards the end of its run.

So three more seasons and the possibility of a prequel series to follow is very welcome news for Thrones fans indeed!!!

Pixels: Spoiler Free Movie Review

Thousands of hours of television and movie viewing over the course of a lifetime will undoubtedly be filled with hits and misses. There are movies that will bring grown macho guys like all of us here at 4LN to tears because of its awesomeness. And others (at least when they come through the mail from Netflix) get that immediate return to the mailbox. And when I say immediate, I mean out of the DVD player, back into the envelope, and I am out the door with it so I can put in the mail the very night I tried to watch it. Some movies have been so bad that I don’t even want them infesting the air of my living room longer than they have to.

But every once in awhile, that rare piece of entertainment comes along that, after it’s over, produces a collective “ehhh” from its audience. “Pixels,” the most recent from Adam Sandler, is such a picture. I mean, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Sandler (poor reviews from critics included), so you can’t complain about it too much. But just because it’s what you’d expect doesn’t make it good. “Pixels” is the very definition of the word average, with equal positive and negative qualities.

Critic whipping boy Adam Sandler takes his next shot in the movie “Pixels.”

“Pixels” is about a crew of former game geniuses who find their skills they possessed as kids unhelpful as adults. That is, until the world needs them to stop a series of attacks by classic arcade video game characters who were sent into outer space by the form of a time capsule. The alien race took the capsule as a challenge, and now the former gamers are needed to save the world.

The premise is genius. The idea of old video game characters coming back to haunt us in the future is a fantastic idea. And with a cast that includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Tyrion Lan…I mean Peter Dinklage, of course there’s going to be some funny one liners.

Michelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage in Pixels.

But for every clever one liner, there’s miles of cheesy clichés that should inspire plenty of frat house drinking games in the future. Kevin James plays the part of the president. I don’t need to say anything more about that. Peter Dinklage is an amazing actor and he still has his moments here. But the role is definitely limiting to someone of Dinklage’s caliber. And what should’ve been the strength of the movie (the classic video game characters) did not, in my opinion, appear near enough (at least not in the first half of the movie).

Pacman and Centipede, a couple of the video games who star in the movie “Pixels.”

But I would still say there is enough decent fun to make “Pixels” worth a one night rental from redbox, a view on Netflix (it’s likely destination with the deal the streaming service has with Adam Sandler), or a cable TV viewing. The numerous eighties references will be enough for some folks. There’s also an incredible lack of thinking required while viewing this film, which can be kind of nice. But for all of “Pixels” flaws, nothing about it is unexpected. If you walk into “Pixels” expecting something different than what Sandler always brings to his movies, that’s a you problem. Sandler is exactly what he’s been most every picture he’s done since “Mr. Deeds.” You either love or hate Adam Sandler. And as a guy who has grown up with and enjoyed his humor since his days on SNL, I found enough to make “Pixels” worth my viewing experience (not as a full price evening theater viewing, but as one of two films at a drive-in double feature). But if you don’t care for Sandler, then pass on “Pixels.”

 

Is Ant-Man Too Much Marvel?

Before I start, I want to clarify that I am not a “true” comic book fan. I love the various depictions of the characters on screens big and small, but there are very few comic books I’ve actually read. So I am not a “fanboy” (I think that’s the right term) who salivated at every obscure lesser known character who’s popped up randomly in the various Marvel Cinematic Universe Films.

So maybe that is why I move forward with trepidation as Marvel continues Friday with its run of lesser known comic book hero films. When you look at the slate of Marvel movies coming out that don’t include Captain America or Thor, I sometimes wonder if the executives of Marvel aren’t throwing darts at pictures of the thousands (at least) of characters in their universe to determine where they will hit their next jackpot. And the lottery winners being rolled out over the next three years (not including the various characters getting Netflix shows) include Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Ant-Man.

I remember awhile back looking up the original lineup of the Avengers and seeing all the principal characters we’ve seen on the big screen. There was IRON MAN, THE HULK, THOR, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: epic superhero names and personalities. But there were also these two random characters, little tiny blips when compared to those previously mentioned: the wasp and ant-man. And I joked about how funny it was that the two miniatures were mixed in with the same group as the epic household names mentioned previously. No way either one of them gets their own picture.

But yet here we are at that point with one of those lesser known original Avengers getting their own picture as Marvel turns on that machine at their office that prints the money while everyone flocks to see another superhero movie. I really think this skit from this past season of Saturday Night Live sums it up perfectly (sorry for the poor quality. Hulu Subscribers can probably find a better version of it).

Now, this does not mean that Ant-Man will be a bad movie. If Marvel maintains the standard they’ve held up over these last 7 years, then it will surely be entertaining. Paul Rudd’s casting as the hero is a definite mark in the plus column for this picture. And “Guardians of the Galaxy” proved last summer that Marvel can make magic even with its most obscure characters.

But the burning question for me is at what point will we tire of these Marvel movies? Is going to see Ant-Man, Civil War, Guardians 2, (another) Spider Man, Thor 3, Infinity War 1, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Infinity War 2 (not to mention Inhumans coming out after Infinity War 2 or the other Marvel pictures not related to the Avengers) going to finally oversaturate us with the top brand name of comics so those concluding movies just don’t matter to us like they should? Will all these obscure Marvel character pictures tire us before the main event of the Infinity War arrives?

I sure hope not. But each Marvel picture is another dance with the unfortunate possibility of overexposure.