Film

  • The Lodge (2019)

    Very few horror movies leave me staring blankly at the screen as the credits roll, but 2019’s The Lodge had my mind scrambling to process what I had just watched. This movie takes you on a journey of true psychological horror with an ending so unexpected that you’re left questioning the entirety of what you just witnessed. I watched it with no information or knowledge of the movie beforehand and I’m glad I did.

    I can’t review this truly without giving spoilers so please only proceed once you’ve seen the movie.

    Not a single character in this movie was redeemable in any way and that my be part of what makes this movie so horrifying. While Grace did not deserve the horror she went through in that lodge, she knowingly broke up a marriage where children were involved and was the catalyst that resulted in their mother’s suicide. Perhaps she was preyed upon by the father, Richard, who met Grace while he was writing a book about a suicide cult where she was the only survivor. We are never told how their relationship came to be, just that it happened during the writing of the book, and was the direct result of Richard leaving Laura, his wife and mother of his children. Though, who knew that those children could turn out to be so fucking vengeful?

    One major red flag for that is probably the fact that their father is so goddamn awful. He seems to give no actual shit about his children’s feelings, especially after his wife’s suicide. The children don’t want anything to do with Grace and their father insists on forcing togetherness even during their first holidays without their mom.

    All this culminated into some truly fucked up children who were capable of some of the most terrifying things I’ve seen in a while. I was left questioning what was happening during the entire movie and the end left me truly unsettled. I’m not sure I could personally stomach watching it again but it was a good horror movie. 4/5

  • Loki, “Glorious Purpose” Series Premiere Review

    You’re that criminal with the blue box!

    Only enjoying a brief escape from the Avengers after the events of Endgame, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds himself a prisoner of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), a powerful agency charged with protecting the timeline from disruptions. While many wish to “reset” Loki for his crimes, Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) has other ideas. Sitting down with the god of mischief, he digs deep to find out Loki’s motivations before offering him a chance at redemption for helping them catch another dangerous time variant: another Loki. 

    Loki’s series premiere continues to fix the character of Loki that was introduced in Thor: Ragnarok; more mischief, less gloom. However, where Ragnorok focused more on the mischief and comedy, “Loki” manages to strike a strong balance of causing mischief and still playing the dramatic role Hiddleston so excels at. 

    The TVA is an interesting addition to the MCU. Created by three all-powerful beings, the TVA seems to be even more powerful than the Infinity Stones, which many employees use as paper weights. But with their power also comes a comedic bureaucracy that you’d find in a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett book. 

    Finally, Wilson’s Mobius is a surprisingly charming and insightful counterpart to Hiddleston’s Loki. It might even be said that Mobius is the Agent Coulson of the TVA, who is also seen briefly in a memory. The majority of this episode focusing on their conversation, it was almost like a therapy session that also caught this post-Battle of New York Loki up to speed to the current events of Infinity War and Endgame, successfully continuing Loki’s overall character development since the first Thor instead of resetting the entire arc.

    Just how powerful is the TVA? What are the other variant Loki’s motives and where does he come from? What are Mobius’ plans for the god of mischief? Hopefully we’ll have answers to these questions in the coming weeks.

  • Weekend Watch: Man of the House (1995)
    Despite having a dangerous criminal with a vendetta after him, attorney Jack Sturges (Chevy Chase) has a tougher adversary to worry about – his girlfriend’s son, Ben (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). As Sturges and Ben’s mom, Sandy (Farrah Fawcett), become more serious, Ben increasingly ups his efforts to sabotage the relationship, since he has no intention of giving up his prime spot in the household dynamic. Sturges is determined to connect with Ben, but Ben is going to make him work for it.

    Before I knew or cared who Chevy chase was or batted an eye at – there was “Man of the House”. While I can’t remember seeing it in theatres, I do remember renting it enough times from our local video store to drive my mother crazy. It could have been the fact that I was going through the divorce of my own parents at the time or my love for “Home Improvement” but I adore this movie.

    Now, I’m not one for spoilers. So if you’re looking for a full analysis – do yourself a favor and click the button below that says “SPOILERS”.

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas & Chevy Chase work surprisingly well together but the true stars of the movie are the father/son duos of the “Minotauk Tribe”. Specifically, George Wendt and his wholesome performance as “Chet Bronski” and Art LaFleur as the stickler for rules “Red Sweeney”. On the flipside, Richard Portnow gives a laughably bad performance as the son of gangster “Frank Renda” in a loosely tied together plot point involving mobsters and an attempt to kill Chevy Chase’s character “Jack Sturges”.

    “Man of the House” doesn’t do anything different, new or exciting. In fact, it follows just about every cliché in book. Arguably devolving into a “Home Alone” knock off by the films finale. Normally I would chalk it up to nostalgia but upon a recent re-watch, it holds up well. Sure, Chevy Chase is wasted in a roll that doesn’t suite his strengths and a lot of the films drama comes from a generic lack of communication but through the eyes of a child – who the fuck cares?

    Still on the fence? Did I not convince you? Feel free to see what others thought…

    Oh wait…people hated this movie.

    I had a dog once who had a terrible case of the squirts. He was my best friend in the whole world.

    – Ben Archer

  • Things Heard & Seen (2021)

    Netflix’s new horror film, Things Heard & Seen, is less of your typical horror movie and more of a thriller meets the spiritual. Starring Amanda Seyfried, this book turned movie shows a charming idealic marriage that isn’t quite what it seems. The themes of the story is its strongest champion, constantly adding to the undercurrent of tension that you can feel right from the first moments, even before the family moves into a new home that seems to have a sinister guest lingering. While not a scary movie, it does leave you feeling heavily unsettled. Unfortunately, I felt the ending fell terribly flat, even feeling a bit unsatisfied at the conclusion. It was still a really good movie despite this, one that kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire film. If not for the ending, I would have given this movie full stars, but its shortcomings were just too many to ignore.

  • Trey Plays Star Wars Day: Star Wars Battlefront 2

    Star Wars Battlefront 2

    Star Wars Battlefront 2 delivers on its promise to transport gamers to a galaxy far, far away and drop them into the middle of some of the biggest battles in Star Wars history. Spanning the timelines of the three trilogies, players can choose maps and characters from the clone wars, the galactic rebellion, and finally the galactic resistance. While multiplayer is the focus, Battlefront 2 also offers single player arcade modes and an intriguing story campaign set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, though this campaign is sadly very short.

  • Support the New Orleans Film Festival on Give NOLA Day

    The Oscar-qualifying* New Orleans Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the Southeast, serving audiences numbering upwards of 30,000, hosting as many as 500 filmmakers, and providing cash awards and prizes valued at over $150,000.

    The festival will celebrate its 32nd edition this year between Nov 5 – 21 with in-person screenings in venues across New Orleans and a Virtual Cinema which will be available globally!

    Support New Orleans Film Festival on Give NOLA Day, May 4!
    Donation scheduling is now open!

    For more information or to donate, visit https://www.givenola.org/nofs

  • NOPD Hunts Dangerous Wookie
    NOPD seeking suspect in Eighth Distrcit Stabbing

    The NOPD is seeking to locate a suspect in the investigation of an aggravated battery by cutting on April 24, 2021 in the 700 block of Toulouse Street.

    At about 8:50 p.m., the pictured subject – a street performer in the Eighth District known to wear a Wookiee costume, one of the races from the popular sci-fi franchise Star Wars – reportedly stabbed the victim with a knife after a verbal disagreement. The subject’s actual identity is unknown.

    Wookiees, natives from the planet Kashyyyk, are a proud warrior race who aided the Grand Army of the Republic during the Republic Clone Wars, but were then enslaved by the Galactic Empire. Seen as savage animals by their captors, wookiees were used as slave labor or hunting targets, until the Empire was destroyed by the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War.

    Anyone with additional information on this incident is asked to contact NOPD Eighth District detectives at 504-658-6080 or call anonymously to Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at 504-822-1111 or toll-free 1-877-903-STOP.

  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier “One World, One People”, Finale Recap Review

    The only power I have is that I believe we can do better.

    The Flag Smashers have made their move to stop the GRC’s vote, which would restore the world’s borders and status quo before the Snap, by attacking their offices in New York City. Bucky tries to make his way up from the ground while Sam, sporting a brand new Captain America uniform and wings, gifts from Shuri in Wakanda, and the shield, makes his way to the top floor. Before getting very far, he encounters an angered Batroc, hired by Sharon to help the Flag Smashers, who is out for revenge, as Bucky and a covert Sharon Carter try to track down the Flag Smashers and their GRC hostages. 

    Making short work of Batroc, Sam takes to the sky as the Flag Smashers escape with the GRC by both air and truck. Following their helicopter, Sam manages to to unseat the Flag Smasher pilot and get the hostages to safety.  Bucky chases Karli through the streets until they’re interrupted by John Walker, equipped with a DIY shield and a thirst for vengeance against Karli. Bucky trades blows between Karli, John, and the rest of the Flag Smashers, until Karli maneuvers a situation where John must choose to go after her or save the hostages. John, surprisingly clearing his head, chooses to save the hostages, with a little more help from Sam. With the hostages safe, Sam, Bucky, John, and Sharon, go after Karli, enraged at her failure. Cornering her alone, Sharon and Karli stand off at gunpoint where it’s revealed that Sharon was the Power Broker all along. Interrupted, Sam confronts Karli one last time, urging her to stand down before she draws a gun on him and Sharon takes her shot, killing Karli, ending the Flag Smashers, and keeping her secret role as the Power Broker safe. 

    Outside, a stunned crowd and GRC thank Sam for his heroics, though he quickly shuts them down and explains the ramifications of their actions trying to return the borders to how things were before the Snap, comparing them to the actions of the Mad Titan, Thanos five years ago. Giving them something to think about, Sam has one more thing to take care of before returning home. Visiting Isaiah Bradley, Sam brings him and his grandson to Washington DC, where he shows them a new addition to the Captain America memorial exhibit in the Smithsonian; a statue of Isaiah and a history of his service as a super soldier, ensuring that America will never forget what he has done for this country. 

    The season/series finale of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, or Captain America and the Winter Soldier as the end credits show us, makes up for the lack of action from the previous episode by getting right into thick of things. Sam has shown some pretty incredible moves as the Falcon throughout the entire season, super soldier or not. But when he adds attacks with the shield AND his wings? That was AWESOME! It would have been even cooler if I wasn’t so distracted by the new uniform. I hate to admit it, but I’m not a fan. I know it looks very similar to the comics, but I’ve never been a fan of that outfit either. It may just be a preference thing, and it’s a trifling matter as Sam’s real moment to shine was not how he looked or his sweet moves, but what he says in his ending monologue to the GRC, and really the whole world. And it’s not just what he said but it’s THAT he said it. So often people shy away for fear of rocking the boat or biting the hand that feeds or poking the bear or any other metaphor, and not take a stand for or against something. Not to say Steve or even Tony Stark ever kept their opinions to themselves, but seeing this character share this view was refreshing, even if it was the view he’s had for the whole season. Something about him standing up for what was right, directly to the politicians and the reporters and the mob, right beside the river of truth, and telling them “No, YOU move.” Of all the moments Sam earned the title of Captain America, that one shined the brightest. 

    John Walker, former Captain America, received his own small redemption arc as he made the right choice to forgo his pursuit of vengeance against Karli and instead helped save hostages. Good for him for doing the bare minimum of saving people over killing someone? If you’re going to give a villain, or even just an asshole, a redemption arc, make it a strong one. This felt too easy. Even Bucky, who had the most to say against John, seemed to quickly accept him as a new team mate, at least in this particular fight, even somewhat teasing him later on like they were old pals. Of course, that could show some of Bucky’s own character development, but for John it didn’t feel earned. Especially given his new role as US Agent by Contessa Valentina and evidence that he’s perhaps learned nothing from this experience. 

    What are Valentina’s true motives, and who does she work for? Remnants of Hydra? Some new government agency we haven’t met yet? What are Sharon’s plans as the Power Broker now that she’s back in the good graces of the US intelligence community? Either seem like a formidable enemy for Captain America and the Winter Soldier to face in an upcoming movie or second season.

  • What Lies Below (2020)

    With Netflix dumping a slew of newer Horror movies onto its platform, I decided to check out the 2020 movie What Lies Below since it raked in enough viewers to pull into Netflix’s top 10. Though the Sci-Fi Horror kicks off a feeling of unease right from the get-go, this is a slow burn in the truest sense. The relationship between the characters, especially the mother and daughter, angered me constantly. The movie is littered with missing scenes and explanations and its confusing ending dragged its potential down to the dirt. That being said, I do have to give credit where credit is due. Writer-director Braden R. Demmler states that he made the movie on a shoestring budget, but you can’t tell. The visuals and effects are simply gorgeous, with none of the typical cheesy compositions that seem to be prevalent in most underfunded Horror movies. I would honestly love to see what he could do with a bigger budget.

  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “Truth” Recap Review

    They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be.

    Confronting John after his brutal and public murder of one of the Flag Smashers, Sam and Bucky take the shield from him, aggressively. With Karli’s disappearance and John being brought up on war crime charges, the US government and Global Repatriation Council (GRC) taking over jurisdiction of the hunt for the Flag Smashers, Sam seeks out Isaiah Bradley to understand his story and experience as one of the first Black superheroes. Hearing his tragic tale, Sam returns home to Louisiana to focus on saving his family and his community rather than saving the world. 

    Bucky easily tracks Zemo down at the Sokovian memorial where the city once stood before it was destroyed by Ultron, one of the big three. Bucky isn’t swayed by Zemo’s warnings against Karli’s radicalism and that the only way to stop her is to kill her, and to Zemo’s surprise, Bucky turns him over to Ayo and the Dora Milaje who promise to bring him to the Raft, the government’s maximum security lock-up for enhanced criminals, like Jessica Jones’ Trish Walker. Bucky also asks one small favor from Ayo and Shuri; a new set of wings for Sam, which he delivers to Sam back in New Orleans, and stays for a time getting to know his family and slowly becomes a part of the community. Before he leaves, Sam and Bucky discuss the ideas and unfortunate repercussions of Steve’s decision to pass the shield to Sam, a Black man. However good intentioned he was, neither Steve nor Bucky could truly understand what experiences Black men like Sam and Isaiah have had, and why their representing the stars and stripes of America is complicated, to say the least. But, knowing Karli and the Flag Smashers are still out there, Sam and Bucky decide to not let the shield’s legacy decide who they are, and build their own identity away from Steve’s shadow. 

    The building intensity and globe trotting of Sam and Bucky’s hunt for the Flag Smashers takes a back seat in “Truth”. That back seat however is actually the trunk of a large van with three rows of seats that are filled with the messages of racial inequality and mistreatment of veterans that this show has put at the forefront of Sam, Bucky, and even John Walker’s story, just in case those messages were too subtle for you. 

    Early in the episode we see John Walker’s hearing for the murder he committed, and as much as we want to rail against him for his actions, the statements he makes about doing what he was trained to do, what he was “built” to do, the same actions that the US government were now discharging him for, weren’t wrong. While there aren’t many super soldier veterans, this same scenario is a familiar one for many who find themselves tossed aside after a military career because they were no longer needed or they were inconvenient. While they give John a pass on the murder due to his service, he’s given no counseling, no accountability, and no military benefits often reserved for veterans. The men who trained John to be the ultimate American star-spangled man are the same exact ones tossing him aside, not because he murdered someone, but because he did it in front of everyone and made them look bad. Does any of this forgive John of his actions? No. But just like many aspects of this series it offers an intriguing perspective into how soldiers and veterans are treated. 

    It’s also interesting, and tragic, to hear Isaiah Bradley’s full story as a Black superhero. What stands out is how similar it is to Steve Rogers story, a man even Zemo had admiration for, though with key differences.  While Steve signed up for the super soldier serum and was hailed as hero, Isaiah was lied to and used as a test subject for the experimental serum. Steve single handedly fought his way into a Hydra base and freed Bucky and the rest of his future Howling Commandos, and in return was heralded as Captain America and given his own authority to lead troops in the war. Isaiah broke into an enemy POW camp to rescue his fellow soldiers before the American army could bomb the compound and kill them to get rid of the evidence of their experimental serum, and in return was locked away from the rest of the world for 30 years. This parallel shows signs of the two (Captain) Americas that are still present today; one for the white majority, and one for the Black community and other minority groups. And Isaiah is right, nothing has changed. 

    Lastly, who is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?! It was a huge surprise to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus take the screen in a very brief meeting with John Walker after his hearing? A woman who clearly has big plans for John, but what are they? Could she be the mysterious Power Broker we’ve been hearing about? Does that take the suspicion from Sharon Carter now that she’s apparently helping the Flag Smashers by connecting them with Batroc? But then Batroc wants revenge on Sam? So many questions. Hopefully they will be answered in next week’s season (series?) finale.

  • Reese Witherspoon Looking for LA Extras

    Reese Witherspoon’s next project, an adaptation of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” is going to be filmed in Southeast Louisiana, and the production is looking for local extras.

    According to HoumaToday.com, filming will take place in and around Houma and New Orleans from mid-April to mid-June. The movie is an adaptation of Delia Owens’ bestselling novel.

    Adult extras will be paid $105 for 12 hours of work. Minors under 18 years old will earn $80 for 8 hours work. No acting experience is required, according to the official casting call.

    To apply, email crawdads@caballerocasting.com with the subject line, “Crawdad’s General Background.” Include your name, age, contact number, height, weight and city and state of residency, as well as two photos, a head shot and a full-body photo.

    Men are asked to include their shirt, pants, shoe and coat size. Women are asked to include their measurements, blouse/dress size, pant size and shoe size. Those with a mycastingfile.com profile can also apply there.

    According to Southern Living, Olivia Newman is directing the production with Witherspoon serving as executive producer. Screenwriter Lucy Aliba, most recently known for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” screenplay, is adapting the project for the screen. The movie will star Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickson.

    Find more info at https://bit.ly/39Uirkj

  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Whole World is Watching”, Review

    Were you ever offered it, the serum? If you had been, hypothetically, would you have taken it?

    Falcon and the Winter Soldier via Facebook

    Following up on their lead from Madripoor, Donya Madani, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo find themselves in Ziga. After learning that Madani has since passed, Bucky discovers another complication; Ayo and the Dora Milaje have followed them and intends to take Zemo back to Wakanda to answer for his murder of King T’chaka in Captain America: Civil War. Uninterested in Bucky’s reasons for working with him, she gives him eight hours to conclude his business and hand him over.

    Pressed for time, they search for the location of Donya Madani’s funeral, hoping to find Karli and her Flag Smashers and stop her before she becomes even more violent in her crusade. But again, they find themselves followed by the new wanna-be Captain America and Battlestar, John Walker and Lamar Hoskins. Hoping calmer heads will prevail, Sam convinces the others to let him speak with Karli alone, referring back to his experiences as a counselor for fellow veterans who struggled with mental health after returning home from war. They’re talk begins to go somewhere as Sam and Karli discover they’re more alike then they thought, before a hot headed John breaks up the conversation, sending Karli on the run. Losing Karli, John focuses on capturing Zemo who had his own plans with Karli as he catches up with her and destroys what little super soldier serum she has left. John knocks him out and discovers one intact vial left. Blaming Sam and Bucky for Karli’s escape (seriously?), John assumes to take command of their mission and Zemo, until Ayo and her sisters arrive to take Zemo on their own. Tearing through John and his shield as if he were wet tissue paper, they discover that Zemo had slipped away during the fight.

    Emasculated by being beaten so badly by warriors he assumed were just girls with “pointy sticks”, John secretly takes the last vial of serum before going after Karli one more time. Unbeknownst to him, Karli was setting a trap to kill the symbol of a bygone era as she lured away Sam and Bucky by calling his sister, subtly threatening her and setting a meeting. Once they discover her plans, Sam and Bucky chase after her before she and the Flag Smashers kill John, but are too late as they instead kill Lamar in the struggle. Enraged, John chases the Flag Smashers through the streets of Ziga until catching one unawares and smashing his skull with the shield in front of everyone.

    While it was only a small part of “The Whole World is Watching”, the inclusion of not just the Dora Milaje, but also a short scene of Ayo and Bucky in Wakanda during his recuperation, was exciting to see. For a moment, I half expected to see the late Chadwick Boseman appear on screen, and was heart broken when I was reminded of his passing. But this scene in Wakanda also came with it a brief moment of celebration for Bucky as we were witness to the first moment he knew he was free of Hydra’s programming as Ayo repeated his trigger words and he remained in control of himself. Knowing Bucky’s history, so many of the things he’s been through, this one true, pure, moment of happiness was such a powerful, if brief scene.

    While this is a buddy-cop-esque series between Sam and Bucky, more and more I feel Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes takes more of the spotlight, or at least pulls a lot of the weight of the show. I LOVE Anthony Mackie as an actor (NOLA represent!), but I’ve always felt his portrayal of Sam Wilson wasn’t that far from his own personality, which isn’t a bad thing. Stan’s performance as Bucky, however, is so layered. He has plenty of humor to offer the show, but it’s a dry kind of humor based off the stark contrast of Mackie’s sarcastic and upbeat attitude. But Stan also has the challenge of presenting a veteran suffering from extreme cases of PTSD from nearly a century of horrifying experiences of war and violence. Not that Sam doesn’t have his own share of turmoil, but his war time experiences are more managed, to the point that he is even able to act as support for his fellow veterans, like Bucky. But Bucky is still healing, still sleeping on the floor and waking up in old sweats, still having nightmares and flashbacks. So that one moment of happiness that Stan shows on Wakanda was performed beautifully and made you feel for this character, if you weren’t already.

    This episode also gave a small glimpse into the war time experiences of Wyatt Russell’s John Walker. There is very little we know about this character before being given the title of Captain America aside from a service record that earned him three Medals of Honor. But in a short discussion, we learn that those medals are apparently reminders of the worst day in his life, a time when he did things that didn’t seem heroic. We now see more of John’s motivations for taking up the mantle of Captain America, and why he puts so much pressure on performing to the best of his abilities, despite seeming to fail time and time again, pushing him further over the edge as we see in this episode.

    One final note…

    STOP HARRAASING WYATT RUSSELL! STOP HARRASING ACTORS AND PEOPLE IN GENERAL BECAUSE OF A ROLE THEY PLAY IN FILM OR TV! IF YOU DON’T LIKE THEIR PORTRAYAL OF A VILLAIN, IT MEANS THEY’RE DOING THEIR JOB AND GIVING A GOOD PERFORMANCE!

    Time and time again we “fans” have shown just how emotionally immature we are because we apparently think it’s a good idea to harass and bully and threaten people because we don’t like the character they play on screen. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. These actors, these PEOPLE, owe us NOTHING. They don’t have to portray a character accurately from the comics. They don’t have to give a good performance for us. Yet they do their best, take the criticism that is bound to come with the job, and still show up to press conferences and conventions to meet fans. And for this, we take things too far and threaten them for performing a character to the best of their ability. If this continues, actors are going to stop taking these roles, and I wouldn’t blame. No one deserves that kind of treatment, and we should be ashamed.

  • Hell Fest (2018)

    As someone who indulges in horror movies, I’m always aware that I may be wasting the next 90 minutes of my life on something terrible. Horror movies always seem to be hit or miss, with more misses than I care to talk about, but I was pleasantly surprised by 2018’s Hell Fest. My worst nightmare comes to life in the form of a serial killer finding his victims disguised as a scare-actor in a Halloween festival that could be a knockoff of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Though not a unique story, the movie sticks to the roots of older horror films where the focus is more on survival than trying to find the identity of the person trying to kill you. It’s not a perfect film, but it is one that was enjoyable and intriguing enough to merit a sequel.

  • The 501st Legion at Wizard World New Orleans: “We all help each other out”
    The 501st Legion via Facebook

    Wizard World New Orleans marks both the end and the beginning of the New Orleans Comic Con circuit. Usually taking place the first weekend of Jan., this year Jan. 3-5, 2020, Wizard World New Orleans is one of, if not the biggest, comic convention taking place in New Orleans. Every year it fills the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center with shop tables, board games, fandom panels, and, one of the biggest draws, celebrities. In the past, Wizard World New Orleans has hosted legends like Stan Lee, Peter Mayhew, Bruce Campbell, and even a number of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast such as “Captain America” Chris Evans and New Orleans’ own “Falcon” Anthony Mackie. This year saw much of the cast from “Smallville,” the Superman prequel series. Visitors had the chance to meet some of their favorite characters like Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane, Michael Rosembaum who portrayed Lex Luther, and even Superman himself, Tom Welling. But what really gets fans excited for this convention is the cosplay.

    Cosplay, a combination of costume and play, sees cosplayers, designing, building, and wearing costumes portraying their favorite characters across pop-culture. While it’s a hobby for many, a number of cosplayers have found enough success and popularity to make a career out of cosplay and convention appearances. All cosplays are different, though. Many cosplayers strive to work toward film accuracy, even using the same materials used by costume designers for the official films. But other cosplayers take more creative freedoms, mixing fantasy and science fiction characters, genres, and even creating pin-up style costumes. 

    While solo cosplayers wander the show floor posing for pictures, other cosplay organizations have their own tables set promoting the group’s cosplays, events they have attended in the past, and even promoting charity organizations. “We are generally a costuming a group but we focus on charity and community programs, so we support charities, cancer walks, any kid groups and organizations, a lot of school events, and conventions. In this case, we’re raising money for The Peter Mayhem Foundation,” says Kevin Bachemin, the Commanding Officer for the Bast Alpha Garrison of the 501st Legion in Louisiana. 

    The 501st Legion has a long history of cosplaying dating back to their founding in Aug. 1997. According to their website, “… The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work…” 

    The 501st’s table held pamphlets with information about upcoming events, 

    “One of the primary drivers of the 501st is the screen and film accuracy,” says Bachemin. “A number of our California members were in “The Mandalorian,” and we’ve had members who have been in some of the films as extras, so they come with that kind of screen accuracy. We look like we can be on the screen because we have been.” Behind Bachemin were other members of the 501st, dressed as different stormtroopers, standing in front of a backdrop simulating a hallway in an imperial star destroyer. They posed for pictures with other “Star Wars” fans, and even let con-goers try to shoot them with nerf-guns.

    “Get to know the community. Get to know the people, a lot of our folks are very friendly, knowledgeable, and have been through costume builds for all the Star Wars groups,” said Bachemin, gesturing to a number of other tables in the area. While the 501st cosplayers were dressed as imperial stormtroopers, other subgroups had cosplayers dressed as characters from Disney+’s recent show “The Mandalorian.” Another was a mix of Rebel and Resistance fighters and Jedi Knights wielding differently colored lightsabers, the iconic weapon for the Jedi Order. “A lot of members will sometimes have groups that will get together to have costume parties. Once you have the materials, we’ll help out. We have a lot of resources. We all work well together. We all help each other out.”

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Toxic Fandom
    Facebook

    “THE DEAD SPEAK!” viewers read with excitement as the traditional opening crawl of “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” premiered on movie screens on Dec. 20, 2019. Decades after Emperor Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith, was defeated by the father-son duo of Anakin Skywalker a.k.a. Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker, the galaxy trembles in fear at his supposed return. Through the power of the Dark Side and the science of the galaxy, Palpatine has managed to stay alive but broken, and promises the new Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo the power of an enormous fleet of star destroyers he can use to conquer the galaxy and squash General Leia Organa’s Resistance. Meanwhile, after struggling with her own training with Gen. Organa, Rey is reunited with her friends Finn and Poe Dameron, and discovers a way to reach the Emperor’s hidden planet and stop the launch of his fleet before it begins. The stakes have never been higher for these heroes as the fate of the galaxy rests in their hands and the allies they make along the way.

    “I liked the movie. I think it had a lot going on. I really liked the battle scenes. I think what they did for Carrie Fisher was amazing,” says longtime “Star Wars” fan Hillary Dupont, speaking of the digital addition of the late Carrie Fisher’s Gen. Leia after her abrupt passing in Dec. 2016. “I think I like this arc better than I liked the prequel arc. I have a soft spot for this trilogy as ‘The Force Awakens’ was the first date I had with my now husband.”

    “Rise of Skywalker” has plenty of features working in its favor. As DuPont said, the action scenes were fantastic, whether it was Finn and Poe blasting through hallways full of First Order stormtroopers aboard a star destroyer, to the clashing of lightsabers during Rey and Kylo Ren’s confrontations. These scenes were exciting to watch and looked fantastic on the big screen. The chemistry of the trio of heroes is also another point in the film’s favor. In “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” Rey, Finn, and Poe were separated as they tackled their own obstacles. Now that they’re together, their friendship really shines as they bicker like old friends and deliver snarky comments that gave even some of the darkest scenes some brief humor. The reintroduction of Billy Dee Williams’ gambler turned freedom fighter Lando Calrissian, whose origin story was revealed in May 2018’s “Solo” and wonderfully played by Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino, manages to bring back some of the classic love of the original trilogy, and even had me choked up when he flies into battle piloting my beloved Millenium Falcon. On the surface, this final installment in the “Skywalker Saga” (for now) is a fun sci-fi adventure through a galaxy we’ve come to love over forty years. However, when looking under the hood of the film is where cracks begin to shine through. 

    The actual pacing of this movie is so fast it’s initially difficult to follow the story. The reemergence of Emperor Palpatine feels like a Hail Mary after the divisive reactions to the previous film, “The Last Jedi.” While Palpatine’s return does link the prequel, original, and new trilogies together with the Emperor’s manipulations, having literally no reference in the previous two films makes this villain feel like they wedged him into the trilogy’s finale in hopes to recapture some of the popularity of the original trilogy. 

    “Rise of Skywalker” also nearly completely removed the character of Rose Tico, the Resistance engineer played by Kelly Marie Tran who transformed from resistance grunt to resistance hero in “The Last Jedi.” The decision to remove this character feels like a response to a number of fans who not only despised her character but literally harassed and bullied her off of social media in 2018. Instead of standing up for Tran and her character, director J.J. Abrams and the “Star Wars” producers seemed to think practically removing her altogether was the right choice. 

    The final slap in the face was the redemption of Ben Solo, the powerful neo-imperialist, neo-sith, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. Don’t get me wrong; I think Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has been a great character, and I even enjoyed the shift in attitude from Kylo to Ben when he rushes to aid Rey in the final battle with Palpatine. However, this character has been offered redemption over and over, to the point of there being a literal line for him to cross, and each time he has chosen the Dark Side, first by killing his father, Han Solo, in cold blood, then by slaughtering the Resistance and billions of people as he destroyed their planets. But, once again, Kylo Ren was offered redemption, despite his actions, and he finally sheds the moniker of Kylo Ren and takes up his name, Ben Solo. With these decisions, Abrams and Disney have set a dangerous precedent of giving in to the demands of a toxic fanbase who have chosen to bully, harass, and slander actors and other fans because they feel “The Last Jedi” was too much in line with the “social justice warrior” agenda of standing up to neo-nazis and giving women and people of color prominent roles. 

    To put it simply, “The Rise of Skywalker” is a fun film, full of exciting battles, emotional moments, and a goodbye to a saga that has lived for over a generation. This new trilogy let us return to the galaxy far, far away to be reunited with our original heroes Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian, and gave them a fond farewell. But, the behind-the-scene decisions to give in to the demands of toxic fans throwing tantrums give cause to worry over any future “Star Wars” movies, or the film making industry in general.

  • Wizardfest: Holding Out Hope that Dragons are Real

    What gets a group of geeks to hang out at a bar late on a school night? Wizardfest! Pop-Up Party Tours and Southport Hall in Jefferson hosted a “Harry Potter” themed “pop up wizarding experience” for fans of the popular book and movie series. 

    Walking towards the bar, Southport Hall looks fairly unassuming; a large, dark, cabin looking building off River Rd. across from the levee. The parking lot wasn’t full, and there wasn’t any activity going on outside or people hanging around the door. I thought I’d gotten the location or the date wrong. Is there another Southport Hall? Walking inside, however, I was met with the sights of people dressed in red, green, blue, and yellow Hogwarts colors, and others dressed up as “Harry Potter” characters and creatures. This was definitely the right place. 

    After receiving a small gift bag full of themed treats like a rubber bracelet, a Wizardfest koozie, and candy (no Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, though), I made my way to the merch table where I got to pick out my own wand, which proudly sported the yellow and black Hufflepuff colors of my Hogwarts house (or black and gold for New Orleans’ Saints? Who Dat LeviOsa!). This wasn’t one of the larger, film-accurate wands that could be bought online or at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but were simply handcrafted with a small wooden stick and sparkling hot glue, which actually makes it all the more unique. 

    The trivia contest was starting soon, so I made my way to the bar to prepare for the questions and got to check out the specialty drinks being made for the event. They had drinks like ButterBeer, Polyjuice Potion, and even Unicorn Blood (I stuck with the ButterBeer). As the trivia began, I racked my brain to come up with answers to some of the harder questions (who was Harry’s first kiss?! Cho Chang? Ginny? Moaning Myrtle?). The winning team were dressed in their own Hogwarts house colors and called themselves the Golden Snitches (though “snitches” was replaced by innuendo).

    After trivia, the wizards and witches headed to the dance floor and I had the chance to speak with fellow fans about what they loved about Harry Potter. “The stories are fun and nostalgic,” says Laine, dressed as a Slytherin student and sitting next to her friend dressed as Volde- uh, You Know Who. “It was the best reading experience of my life!” 

    “I’m holding out hope that dragons are real,” says Kate, fellow Harry Potter fan and zookeeper at the Audubon Institute. “I basically want Hagrid’s job.”

    For me, I grew up with Harry Potter. When Harry was 11, so was I, and I felt a strong connection to the character and the things he dealt with; mean teachers, bullies, making friends and just finding where you belong. Even going back now 10 years after the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released, I’m amazed at how relevant the story remains and how it brings back that connection I felt when I was younger. Though, I do find myself yelling at Harry more and more (go find an adult!).

    Everyone has their reasons for loving “Harry Potter,” from just being good books, to dreaming of taking care of dragons. Wizardfest may have been a small event, but it brought together fans of the books and movies to share and celebrate their fandom. Hopefully, the party didn’t keep the Muggles up too late.

  • The Batman: Hero or Pirate?

    After D.C.’s successful release of Joker, news is coming out for director Matt Reeves’ The Batman, with Twilight star Robert Pattinson playing the Caped Crusader. Two of the films roles have been revealed and cast, with Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle’s Catwoman, and Paul Dano as Edward Nashton’s The Riddler. 

    While the film is still in the early stages of production, this casting news sheds potential light on what we can expect from this new film. While the most recent Batman, played by Ben Affleck,  was older and grizzled, much like the Batman seen in The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Pattinson’s younger Batman could take more inspiration from Batman: Year One, also by Frank Miller, which introduced young Bruce Wayne to the seedy underbelly of Gotham. 

    Speaking to the New York Times about his preparation for the role, Pattinson revealed his thoughts on the character of Batman. “Batman’s not a hero… He’s a complicated character, I don’t think I could ever play a real hero; there’s always got to be something a little bit wrong. His morality is a little bit off. He’s not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character. There is a simplicity to his worldview, but where it sits is strange, which allows you to have more scope with the character.”

    While Batman is a very dark and complicated character, as Pattinson remarks, I have to disagree with the idea that Batman isn’t a real hero. The term hero can be subjective and include a number of different qualities and characteristics. But to consider Batman as “not a real hero” seems like a stretch, considering his crusade against the corruption in Gotham, and working to ensure that no one else suffers the same loss of family that he did. 

     Taylor Oliver, an English graduate student, briefly weighed in on the idea of Batman as a hero. “I think Batman has heroic qualities and exhibits the mystery of being a superhero, while also being human.”

    However, Pattinson had more to say about his upcoming performance as Batman, specifically his voice. “[Willem Dafoe’s] voice in The Lighthouse was quite inspiring for it, to be honest. It is pretty similar, the voice I’m gonna do, to Willem’s. Batman has a sort of pirate-y kind of voice.”

    “Oh no! No!” exclaims biology major Troy James. “It’s messing up our idea of Batman! He’s from Gotham! Not some skinny pirate boy!” 

    While I am doing my best to reserve judgment on Pattinson’s Batman until I see it, I share the same fears as James. As good of an actor as Willem Dafoe is, his high pitched and scratchy voice with a pirate (or privateer) drawl doesn’t seem appropriate for the Caped Crusader. Despite it only being one aspect to the character, previous performances of Batman’s voice have been highly ridiculed before, specifically Christian Bale’s rough, raspy, difficult to understand growl. Is this voice heading down the same path before it’s even premiered?


    We will have to wait until The Batman’s 2021 premiere date to find out. But until then, some of us may share English graduate student Kirsten Quarforth’s thoughts on the film; “No matter what, I’m always going to imagine Robert Pattinson as a sparkly vampire.”

  • Superhero Movies: Cinema War

    Despite Marvel Studio’s Avengers: Endgame, the applauded finale to their twenty-year-long Infinity Saga, the survival of their recent tug-of-war with Sony over whether Spider-Man will remain in the M.C.U. or not (he’s in, for now), and D.C.’s surprisingly successful release of Joker, superhero movies everywhere are once again under attack. 

    In an interview with Empire, critically acclaimed director Martin Scorcese recently shared his views on the popularity of superhero movies. “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

    Standing in solidarity with a friend and fellow filmmaker, famed director Francis Ford Coppola let know his own thoughts. “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

    Despite their words being harsh, Coppola and Scorsese are titans in cinema. Both are recognized as two of the greatest directors of American film, so when they are speaking about what is and isn’t cinema, they might just know what they’re talking about.

    So, that’s it, folks. Time to put away our Captain America t-shirts and Iron Man sunglasses. Superhero movies aren’t cinema and are despicable. 

    Not so fast. It can be argued that in Scorcese and Coppola’s own words, Marvel movies, most superhero movies, in fact, qualify under the umbrella term of cinema. 

    In their latest film, Marvel Studios accepts Scorcese and Coppola’s challenge of delivering a film that gains “some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration,” and presents “human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” In Spider-Man: Far from Home, we see a post Avengers: Endgame Marvel Cinematic Universe where the world is trying to figure out how to move forward, while young Peter Parker grieves the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark. Not only does he work through this grief with friend and former bodyguard of Tony Stark, Happy Hogan, but he also becomes more confident in his abilities as Spider-Man without the safety net of Iron Man. 

    To gain some perspective, I reached out to fellow students at U.N.O. “Yes, [I’m a fan of superhero movies]! Every single last one. Even the dumb ones,” says Biology major Troy James. “They make people who think they may not be able to do something feel like they can impact the world in a big way.” Kirsten Quarforth, an English graduate student, feels differently, that “they are a cinematic experience, but I don’t take away anything else from them, apart from just seeing a lot of violence.”


    This entire discussion is subjective to each person’s own tastes. Someone who loves superhero films may also love The Godfather (1972) and The Departed (2006), but think Apocalypse Now was boring (I’m talking about myself, here). Whatever our different opinions, movies are also meant to entertain. As long as they continue to do that, whether superheroes or cinematic dramas, they’ll still have a place in society.

  • Superhero Movies: Cinema War by Trey Guillotine

    Despite Marvel Studio’s Avengers: Endgame, the applauded finale to their twenty-year-long Infinity Saga, the survival of their recent tug-of-war with Sony over whether Spider-Man will remain in the M.C.U. or not (he’s in, for now), and D.C.’s surprisingly successful release of Joker, superhero movies everywhere are once again under attack.

    In an interview with Empire, critically acclaimed director Martin Scorcese recently shared his views on the popularity of superhero movies. “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

    Standing in solidarity with a friend and fellow filmmaker, famed director Francis Ford Coppola let know his own thoughts. “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

    Despite their words being harsh, Coppola and Scorsese are titans in cinema. Both are recognized as two of the greatest directors of American film, so when they are speaking about what is and isn’t cinema, they might just know what they’re talking about.

    So, that’s it, folks. Time to put away our Captain America t-shirts and Iron Man sunglasses. Superhero movies aren’t cinema and are despicable. 

    Not so fast. It can be argued that in Scorcese and Coppola’s own words, Marvel movies, most superhero movies, in fact, qualify under the umbrella term of cinema. 

    In their latest film, Marvel Studios accepts Scorcese and Coppola’s challenge of delivering a film that gains “some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration,” and presents “human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” In Spider-Man: Far from Home, we see a post Avengers: Endgame Marvel Cinematic Universe where the world is trying to figure out how to move forward, while young Peter Parker grieves the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark. Not only does he work through this grief with friend and former bodyguard of Tony Stark, Happy Hogan, but he also becomes more confident in his abilities as Spider-Man without the safety net of Iron Man. 

    To gain some perspective, I reached out to fellow students at U.N.O. “Yes, [I’m a fan of superhero movies]! Every single last one. Even the dumb ones,” says Biology major Troy James. “They make people who think they may not be able to do something feel like they can impact the world in a big way.” Kirsten Quarforth, an English graduate student, feels differently, that “they are a cinematic experience, but I don’t take away anything else from them, apart from just seeing a lot of violence.”


    This entire discussion is subjective to each person’s own tastes. Someone who loves superhero films may also love The Godfather (1972) and The Departed (2006), but think Apocalypse Now was boring (I’m talking about myself, here). Whatever our different opinions, movies are also meant to entertain. As long as they continue to do that, whether superheroes or cinematic dramas, they’ll still have a place in society.

  • Jay and Silent Bob Reboots in New Orleans

    Whether you were rocking out to Nirvana or being Saved by the Bell, nothing presented the 1990s pop-culture better than Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse. Created by the now cult classic actor and director Kevin Smith, his production company View Askew gave us classic like “Clerks” (1994), “Mallrats” (1995), “Dogma” (1999), and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001). With each new film the View Askewniverse grew, adding actors who were at the beginning of their careers like Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Michael Rooker. “Mallrats” was even one of the earlier Stan Lee cameos (the same cameo Lee can be seen rehearsing in his Captain Marvel cameo).

    It’s been nearly a decade since fans have gone to theatres to see a new Kevin Smith View Askewniverse film, and the lack of immature jokes has taken its toll. But now… THEY’RE BACK! “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” is now in select theatres across the country and Kevin Smith fans can rejoice. 

    Part of Jay and Silent Bob’s epic return to theatres was filmed here in New Orleans, the new “Hollywood of the South.” I recently had the chance to speak with one of the film’s extras. “I would say I am a fan of Kevin Smith’s View Askew films. My favorite is honestly a toss-up between Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. I love them all though and really I can pinpoint where I was on my personal journey when each one came out,” says Kelli Ledet, lifelong New Orleans resident and extra for “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”

    “Originally we were just extras, but while I was waiting in the makeup line, my friend Anne was pulled aside to be “Zombied.” They asked if she was paired with a SIlent Bob and they came and got me. They tore our clothes and then we had to sit through makeup. The fake blood was AWFUL, and throughout the night they would apply it over and over again. 

    “Kevin Smith came in and talked to us as a group at one point, and Jason Mewes played around a lot in between takes and interacted with the extras. For the final scene, Kevin thanked us all, shook our hands, and really seemed nice.

    “Filming reaction shots was weird. We would start at a mark that was usually attached to a crane, and as they would start to roll someone would yell out things and they wanted to film our reactions to it. So, you are looking at a piece of neon orange tape and making facial reactions to things like “nipple twisting!”

    “The movie is very tongue-in-cheek and really does an excellent job of absolutely poking fun at itself. It felt like it was a great send-off that touched every one of his previous View Askew films.  I was surprised at how much was cut too. WE FILMED A TON OF STUFF. It flowed, but it was just amazing as to how much content was cut out. I am hopeful for a director’s cut.” 

    While Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is only open in select theatres, fans can hope to see it when it comes out on Blu-ray or digital release. Thankfully, Smith has plans for more films, namely “Clerks 3,” which has not announced a premiere date yet.