This Generation’s Obsession with Superheroes

Superheroes have become a major part of modern day pop culture. Every century has their obsession, The Greek era had its obsession with pleasing multiple gods and the 80s went through its obsession with neon colors and insanely poofy hair. So when and how did superhero movies become popular?

It can be said that the beginning of superheroes becoming mainstream in cinema was Spider-Man in 2002. There were plenty of superhero films before Spider-Man, but this was where superheroes began having a big effect on millennials. Now we have the ability to portray them in a realistic way. The more technology progressed, the more realistic super heroes became.

Iron Man is a playboy, and that isn’t exactly the best role model. However, he does defeat terrorists, and considering that is such a prominent topic in our media and politics today, Iron Man is made relevant to us. Iron Man began Marvel’s phase one of the cinematic universe that we see today. There has been a superhero film almost every year since then and is all ultimately leading to Avengers Infinity War, which will be one of the biggest films in history. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad–there has never been a film where so many previous films and characters lead up to it.

We also see the tone of the movies getting darker. In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight we not only see a Batman like we have never seen before–more dark, brooding, and self-aware–but also a Joker that leads the audience to question human nature itself. Heath Ledger’s Joker was a darker and different Joker than we had ever seen before. Normally fans would be outraged by any change to a long beloved character, but Ledger did it right. That sets up a type of superhero film that people wanted to see. It is the reason DC has been able to keep up with Marvel. Both companies have brought their own unique attributes and beloved characters.

Marvel has somewhat taken DC’s darker approach with their release of the Netflix series Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones–all of which leads up to the release of The Defenders. The Defenders are not fond of being called superheroes. They are much more complex, and audiences have shown fondness of such complex characters. In our modern world, complex characters and anti-heroes are becoming more popular. Deadpool for example is an anti-hero. He is a taco loving, fast talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor. The reason for dark, complex characters to become popular is most likely because of today’s politics.

In today’s world it is hard to distinguish good from bad. Even in Captain America: The Winter Solider, Captain America struggles to find a side to trust when Shield, a once trusted institution, turns out to be taken over by Hydra, the all foreboding enemy. The audience is able to understand and accept that everything in life is not a black and white scenario; cinema is able to delve into such topics now.

Whichever way the superhero films go, they are here to stay. They may not be as popular in the future as they are now, but they definitely started something that reflects our views and generation.

Review: “The Jungle Book”

Richardson Rutter-Reese

“The Jungle Book” was a welcome visit from an old friend. Once again written and produced by Disney, the movie was a combination of a live-action and CGI work. For those not familiar with the work, it is a story of an orphan boy, Mowgli, who lives in a forest among his animal companions. The new take draws on elements of Disney’s original animated movie, and Kipling’s original work.

The story revolves around Mowgli trying to find his place in the jungle. From when he was found, Mowgli has been raised by a pack of wolves. During a period of peace, Shere Khan,  a tiger, threatens to kill Mowgli when the truce ends. As Mowgli’s wolf pack debates on if he should remain in the wolf pack, Mowgli voluntarily leaves.

Throughout the rest of the movie Mowgli goes through various trials throughout the jungle. Mowgli has an encounter with Kaa, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, he comes face to face with a swarm of bees, gets washed away in a rushing river, and ultimately, comes face to face with Shere Khan.  

Beyond singing along to “The Bare Necessities”, and “I Wanna Be Like You”, the story is one of accepting others, believing in yourself, and standing together against adversity. Mowgli faces adversity not from Shere Khan, but from those he considers family, and from himself. We not only see Mowgli grow into who he is, but seeing others around him accept Mowgli even though he is different.

“The Jungle Book” is an excellent film. Older viewers will find this not only a welcome return, but a significant movie that can stand on its own. Younger viewers will be enthralled by the cinematics and animation.

“The Jungle Book” is a worthy movie of anyone’s time. 5/5

Kael vs. Kubrick: “A Clockwork Orange”

Allison Hall

“Is there anything sadder — and ultimately more repellent — than a clean-minded pornographer?” In addressing Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Pauline Kael, as quoted above, regards Kubrick and his film as unimpressive and unnecessary eroticism. In rebuttal, I argue that the elegance of violence in the film works toward overall horror,  the sexualization within society does little for dehumanizing the “straight” citizens in opposition to Alex, and, in compliance, Kubrick does employ strategic, questionable methods in pushing the audience to view Alex as the ultimate good guy, or at least victim, within the film.

Kael claims that the movie is classified as “clean-minded pornography” with the intent to arouse audiences because of Kubrick’s “pedantically calculated scenes”, however, this strategy does just the opposite. The rape scenes are riddled with savagery in that Alex doesn’t seem connected to anything he’s doing. He definitely seems to be getting pleasure, as demonstrated in the raping of Mrs. Alexander when Alex is dancing to his cover of Singing in the Rain and laughing all the while. So, yes, the experience is arousing for Alex, but does little for the average audience member. If anything, the unsettling detail accompanied by the fluid and vibrant motions hinting at Alex’s excitement during his intentional violent fits create disgust. Arguing that Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is pornography is debatable because whether or not the intent of these scenes are to arouse is unknown, but on either side of the argument, it seems unjust to claim that whatever it is remains clean-minded.

Kael argues that the innocence and whimsical nature of the violent acts, such as the pairing of classical music with brutality, remains as reasoning for it to be looked at as comical and light-hearted, but Alex is raping someone. This is observed in the first attempted raping of a young woman by another unrelated group. Pornography has the intent to arouse the audience and this scene just shouldn’t. This woman is suffering and very obviously feeling distressed, as seen in her cries for help. The elegant music and fluid choreography emphasize the innocence felt by the teens and therefore creates more of a sickening atmosphere than an arousing one. These children are toying with this innocent girl and exploiting her for their own enjoyment, not hers. No matter what way it’s looked at, it’s a crime and a discomforting one at that. The added classical music or other just furthers the idea that Alex likes this and sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. He likes rape. And the fact that such innocence in Alex’s mind is mimicked in his actions, his “schoolboy” like and accepted behavior, elongates the intended repellents from Alex’s actions and, more so, the society that has created him.

In Kael’s review, she suggests that “the trick of making the attacked less human than their attackers, so you feel no sympathy for them…” is a thing. This doesn’t actually seem to be Kubrick’s goal. As stated previously, Kubrick does well in disconnecting Alex and making the audience feel uncomfortable with the ease urged toward Alex’s endeavors. Each victim acts as a victim might. Nothing seems peculiar or off-putting. In fact, the Alexander home is very welcoming and warm and Mr. Alexander’s mental stability has flown out the window afterwards. Kael claims that “the “straight” people are far more twisted than Alex; they seem inhuman and incapable of suffering” because Kubrick’s over-sexualized community adds even more “deformity” to the plot. The problem remains that it is unclear in the film just how long society has been this way. These elderly citizens could have been born into this. It’s normal for them. Take the scene with the fit cat lady for example. Her house is riddled with sexual vulgarity, but still when answering the door to Alex remains fearful and skeptical. She isn’t violent. One could argue on the contrary using the battle scene between her and Alex as an example, but that’s just self-defense. What attacked person wouldn’t try to save themselves? Alex broke in to a house with locked doors and high windows. She is also older, accounting for her dominant attitude. While it may be a plausible argument to say that the sexual respects add twist to the concept, what isn’t clear is why this makes the adults and other characters less human. It only pushes the concept of a crippled societal structure by pushing the question of why these sexual exploitations are acceptable in such a society. The adults aren’t acting in any way vulgar or crass. As a matter of fact they seem frail and confused, as shown through Alex’s father upon Alex’s return home. Not trusting a flawed society seems to be the ultimate message for the film.

In the end, there is no hiding the fact that Kubrick is pushing Alex to be the abused protagonist. Because of what Kubrick has portrayed society to be, sexual and crime run, the audience is very capable of pinning everything on the man. Kael says that “Kubrick has removed many of the obstacles to our identifying with Alex” in comparison with Burgess’s novel. Apparently, Alex’s habits are cleaned up in the film and throughout he is given opportunities to play the innocent bystander. For example, after leaving the government facility and returning home, he finds himself to be actually homeless and ultimately alone. The audience, at this point, feels bad for poor little Alex and the rest is history. From the start, glimpses at the disorganized and faulty world around Alex and the aggressive nature of what is arguably all teenagers leads the audience to believe that Alex is a product of society to begin with. In the end, after he is “cured all right”, the audience sees that what Alex is now is a product of what the authorities have yet again made him and not only through the conditioning, but also through bribes and hush profits. Kubrick’s argument isn’t that man should accept what man has made, but rather man should blame authorities for what man has made.

In conclusion, while I disagree that detail takes away from the dramatization of the violence and the modern citizen within the film is dehumanized, I believe Kael is right in saying that Kubrick pushes a little too hard in wanting the audience to see eye to eye with Alex and accept what he is.

Work Cited

Kael, Pauline. “Stanley Strangelove.” Visual-Memory. The New Yorker Magazine. January 1972. Web. 4 April 2016

The New Summer Blockbuster

Jamie Williamson

The comic book movie is today’s go-to blockbuster. It seems not a year goes go by without a comic book being turned into a movie and people flocking to see it. Many comic books have been around for years and it seems the movies are going to do the same. Comic book movies have become the new summer action movie. They are the quintessential popcorn movie, and are made to appeal to a wide range of people. The comic book movie is made for every generation.

The comic book movie is created to generate sequels and keep the franchise going for many years. The comic book movie franchise makes so much money on the merchandise it produces and all the revenue it gets from being the top movie at the box office. The merchandising is a big part of how the comic book movies stay relevant. They provide costumes for kids as well as action figures. They also revamp the comic books to embrace the movies to keep everything up to date and incorporate both the newer and older generations. Making movies that build on each other is a way for the audience to stay with the characters they love. These movies prove how much people love to go and watch the characters they have seen on the page come to life.

With the recent trend of making comic book movies is there going to be a downslope in its relevance. Will people get tired of the comic book movie motif and want something original or different to entertain them at the movies? This has been a topic of much debate, but it doesn’t seem like it has phased the big studio companies as they continue to make these movies. Maybe the comic book movies will fade away eventually, but for right now they seem to be unstoppable like many of the heroes in the movies.

Comic book movies have pretty much solidified their place as one if the trends that will keep people coming back to see the characters save the world again and again. These movies while having been around for many years have only really become insanely popular in the last five years. It seems like these movies can do no wrong in the eyes of the public.

Is Frozen More Than What It Is?

Leira Moore

We all love and adore Disney, even when we’re in college. Most of us are now closet fans. As for the ones that don’t hide in the closet they have begun to dissect Disney, and how the characters relate and tie into each other. Some theories have made a lot of sense and make one wonder what Disney is truly up to.

Some may already know about Disney’s hidden Mickey where they subtly put a Mickey somewhere in every movie, or how Disney pays tribute to older movies in the new ones and vice versa. For instance in Beauty and The Beast, Belle said her favorite book had to deal with a man disguising himself as a prince, far off places, and daring sword fights, which alludes to Aladdin having come out a year later. Disney also put Scar from Lion King as a rug in the movie Hercules. When, in fact, Lion king came out a few years before Hercules. Yet, is there something more than Easter eggs or cameos?

I believe so because in the Disney world most of the characters tangle into each other’s lives in some way. The most obvious is family ties. Lets start with Belle and Beast. The ongoing theory is Jane from Tarzan is the granddaughter to them. That explains Jane’s accepting nature of Tarzan and why the tea set from Beauty and the Beast appears. To make it a little more interesting, the director who did Tarzan also did Frozen and he does imply that the parents did not die on the boat and suggest that those were Tarzan’s parents. To recap Tarzan is the brother to Elsa and Anna. There’s more. Frozen ties into the Little Mermaid by implying the first ship that’s sinking into the ocean was Elsa’s parents’ ship. Of course someone created a map that shows it wasn’t improbable for the ship to find its way into the Little Mermaid territory. Another common theory is Elsa’s parents were on their way to Rapunzel’s wedding when the ship sinks. In Frozen, Elsa’s coronation is three years after her parents death, but is it a coincidence that Rapunzel comes out threes years almost to the day before Frozen? Perhaps, but it creates a connection when Rapunzel and Flynn arrive to Elsa’s coronation. It is also hinted that Rapunzel’s mom, is sibling to one of Elsa’s parents, whether it’s the father or mother is up for debate.

To expand the universe a little more, Ariel’s mother in the Little Mermaid supposedly makes a cameo appearance in Peter Pan and gets murdered by Captain Hook. In the second Little Mermaid, it states that Ariel’s mother is killed by pirates. Also, common knowledge puts Ariel and Hercules as cousins considering Ariel is the daughter of Poseidon and Hercules the son of Zeus, while Zeus and Poseidon are brothers. The ties don’t stop there considering at the end of the movie when Ariel is marrying Prince Eric, the King and Grand Duke from Cinderella, are also in attendance. At that time in history it was common for royalty to invite other royals to major events. This also explains why Cinderella makes her cameo appearance in Frozen. Everybody who is anybody attended Queens Elsa’s coronation, even Lumiere and Cogsworth attend which hints that Belle and Prince Adam, also known as beast, are in attendance.

Of course these are just a few fan theories about the family ties of the characters and how their lives tend to mix and mingle often. However, as all theories go, one can always poke holes and find faults. For those like me who grew up on Disney, it reveals that Disney has grown up with us. We have grown up to decode and analyze the movies and continue to look for Easter eggs and cameos. Ultimately, who knows what Disney is truly up to, but it is fun to reminiscent and explore interesting theories other fans have discovered.

Batman vs. Superman: A Fight for Contentment

Allison Hall

 

            When you heard announcements for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, did you think ‘finally! This is the epic battle to the death that I’ve been waiting for!’? You wouldn’t be much different than other superhero movie goers. The problem is that’s not the movie. There is build up including minor squabble between the heroes but ultimately it’s a lot of Superman with a little bit of Batman who seems to be there to satisfy the title. It remains more true to the actual story line of the heroes than what it is built up to be. In the end, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is off putting due to confusing concepts and cinematography; however, it all seems drawn together by extraordinary talent.

The premise of the film is hyped to be a fight between Batman and Superman, however, the movie is more about Metropolis’ problems regarding Superman. This is probably due to the fact that the film is a sequel to Superman: Man of Steel. Regardless of whether it holds true to basic concepts of these characters, the movie should be able to stand alone. I don’t feel that it does. Batman is thrown into the film as a sort of public bystander with a narrow mentality. In hind sight, he seems to be a whiny, hyperactive brat. There’s no probable or obvious reasoning to the uninformed viewer behind the bat’s aggression. The film jumps from story line to story line and it’s hard to keep track of everything. Somewhere among what’s already been listed, the Lex Luthor story is brought in, Metropolis vs. Superman is touched on, and to further that the Justice League is alluded to. Aside from the movie being over packed, it is also very confusing in letting the audience know where they’re at in time. At some point you jump from what you’re seeing, to two months, to over a year and none of this is clear. Everything seems to be happening within a matter of days. It seems like a big mess of a prematurely popularized movie.

Another oddity is the use of the camera and scene jumps. The cuts do little for insinuating where you’ll be taken next. With the scenes so sparse and separated from the main story line it’s hard to understand and process what’s going on and relevant as well as what has actually happened and what remains to be false reality. There’s a lot of camera panning that adds on to length, dragging the movie out. Some of the camera shots seem unnecessary, such as the panning around buildings, and make the movie seem longer than it is or needs to be. It is typical for these shots to appear in superhero films, but so little seems to happen as far as action goes for prolonged periods of time, so these shots are just agonizing. At certain points it’s boring. There’s action, however, it doesn’t make up for the lengthy scenes. When you go to see a superhero movie, especially versus, you want constant head to head battle and a fast paced story line. That’s not what you get here. There is a lot of Superman feeling sorry for himself, creating a droll mood, and glimpses at an angsty Batman.

A big complaint remains to be the films acting and talent. Ben Affleck has received the most ridicule, but in reality he’s done his job. He plays Batman as a darker entity, which is nice, as apposed to the typical socially awkward Bruce Wayne. Affleck made a personal choice in characterization and I loved it. The rest of the movie is out of the ordinary, why shouldn’t the characters be? Another great talent was Jesse Eisenberg who plays Lex Luthor. In my familiarity, he plays comedic roles and here he’s portraying a deeper identity. He’s jumpy and energetic, not unlike his other roles, yet really portrays Luther as a character slowly descending into madness. Out of all things in the film, his characterization is one of the few things actually understood to be escalating.

This movie is less than satisfying when thinking of it in a new comer’s way. People unfamiliar with Superman or Batman wouldn’t have any trouble getting lost in the chaos. For the expert, this movie may be suitable, but for the average movie-only superhero fan, it is less than enjoyable.

 

Black Friday = The Purge?

Alyssa Bertrand

Every year, the country undergoes this big event called black Friday. Black Friday is the day everyone gets out at the crack of dawn to score the best deal. People will be in line waiting for the doors to open. Some people will take part in together as a family and some will go alone. The ones that go alone have one goal in site and they plan on reaching that goal.

If you have never experienced this big event, you might not fully understand the process. I have not gone black Friday shopping, but I have worked in retail for it for the past three years. Each year new things amaze me. Sometimes I wonder what these people are actually after. I watch the people around town and think about what is so necessary for them to fight over. Then I see people come into the store I worked in and see that some people will do anything for that five dollars they will be saving.

Fighting is another problem. All over the country there are many fight that break out on the big Friday of the year. One can look online and see fight after fight. Some of the videos that are put on the Internet have little kids involved. When I see those videos, I get sick in my stomach. How could some act that way and have a good conscience after one will throw someone on the ground to gain the upper hand on a toaster or crock pot. The fighting is beginning to get out of control.

The fighting every year, the very dangerous night, and the injuries that occur lead to the thought that Black Friday could actually be considered as The Purge. The Purge is the event in a recent thriller that is 24 hours each year during which murder is legal. Nothing would be against the law for only those 24 hours. Much like Black Friday, it is a full day event, people get hurt, and one can find that people will steal even when the prices are extremely low. Which leads to the question, is it really Black Friday or could we consider it a mini Purge?

Netflix is the New Black

Stephen Jones

In response to a RBC Capital Markets survey, over 51% of participants said they used Netflix watch television shows and/or movies. Just surpassing YouTube, the streaming service is now the most popular streaming site, beating out Hulu, Amazon, and HBO Go. This rise in consumer usage is possibly due to some of its critically-acclaimed original programming, including: “House of Cards,” “Daredevil,” and “Orange is the New Black.” Thanks to overwhelming reviews from fans and critics alike, Netflix’s original programming has amassed 78 Emmy nominations and 12 wins. Another aspect of Netflix’s appeal is its original comedy specials showcasing some of the world’s most popular comedians such as Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart. Looking at this diverse selection of content, Netflix’s mass appeal should be of no surprise.

qz.com

qz.com

Compared to cable and satellite subscription prices, Netflix’s most popular plan of $9.99/month is music to the consumers’ ears. Also, the ability to watch on multiple mobile devices at one time only adds to the accessibility this generation of instant-gratification desperately craves. Some cable networks, like Showtime, are trying to integrate the convenience Netflix boasts through mobile apps, but these on-the-go apps require an active subscription to its cable counterpart; thus, nullifying the inexpensive allure Netflix possesses. In contrast to other cable networks, HBO introduced a streaming service requiring no previous subscription to its satellite network. This new endeavor, named HBO Now, was launched in April of 2015 and garnering over 1 million subscribers in about three months. Hopefully, HBO’s success in adapting to the “cord-cutting” trend will influence other cable networks to follow suit.

Thanks to the streaming service’s overwhelming content variety, simple accessibility, and 69 million subscribers, Netflix is set to become an even bigger force of change in the media world.

Nightmare Trip to American Dream

Andy Verke and Leslie Arietta

Have you ever wondered about the hardships people endure trying to sneak into America? Thursday night, October 22nd Texas A&M University-Texarkana held a film event in the Eagle Hall in honor of Hispanic Heritage week. Special guest director, Ramon Hamilton, presented his award-winning film SMUGGLED.

As the event began Dr. Rincon welcomed everyone and gave a brief introduction about Ramon Hamilton. Hamilton took over and gave the audience his perspective of his film and a brief bio on himself before the film began. He was inspired to create this film because of the smuggling experiences his mother and friends endured.

10-year-old Miguel and his mother attempt to sneak into America by way of a compartment under a tour bus. With nothing but little water, food, medicine, and a Gameboy to keep them occupied, Miguel and his mother remain hopeful they will be reunited with their husband/father. Their trip gets even more difficult within the last few hours of their bus ride.

Miguel is abruptly awoken by a nightmare and accidentally breaks his mother’s last bottle of insulin. Without her insulin, she will not be able to live much longer. A couple of hours later she gives Miguel a piece of paper with the address to his father’s house and decides to get some rest. When Miguel wakes up from his sleep, he tries to wake his mother and finds that she has passed away. 

To make matters worse, the tour bus breaks down on the highway, forcing the passengers to switch buses. When help arrives, Miguel uses what little English he knows to yell for help. As the guy opens the compartment, he makes a run for it and gets away. Eventually he ends up being caught and interrogated by the cops for shoplifting at a grocery store. After being interrogated and barely speaking a word, Officer Salmon takes Miguel in his car and drops him off in the middle of nowhere forcing Miguel to find his father’s house on his own.

Throughout the struggles Miguel faced on his journey, he finds his father’s house and is reunited with him.

SMUGGLED won 5 awards and was selected for 10 more awards.

Take a Trip to another Planet This Week – A Review of “The Martian”

Garrett Griffin

U.S. Astronaut Mark Wartney stares at the vast openess of the Martian planet working on a plan for survival and eventual rescue. Image Courtesy of Screenrant.com.

U.S. Astronaut Mark Wartney (played by Matt Damon) stares at the vast openness of the Martian planet while working on a plan for survival and eventual rescue.
Image Courtesy of Screenrant.com.

You can travel to Mars for the price of a single movie ticket and see an action movie on the side. It seems like someone would realize that maybe Matt Damon is not the best person to send on an important mission since he always needs to be rescued. This week, though, you can go and see the United States spend millions of dollars saving an American hero: astronaut Mark Watney. Not to diminish the film, the movie The Martian is a great action movie with some of the best, if not the very best, computer-generated-graphics currently available. It has been well received by many critics.

I attended the first 3D viewing of the film on October 10th at Texarkana Cinemark Theater. I don’t know that the 3-D adds too much to the film, so if you are used to seeing the standard 2D presentation of the film, you will still have a great time. I will first say there are a few curse-words both uttered, as silent-lip-readings, and as abbreviated visuals. Because of this the movie was assigned the rating of PG-13.

The biggest thing that struck me was the realistic representation of Mars’ surface. Even without IMAX the film envelopes and places you on the planet. The time period during which this is supposed to occur is not stated but it appears to be the present. This makes the film much more relatable to the point where you would think you could turn on the television or computer and see the status of the rescue mission.

The movie does tend to use more scientific dialogue, which is understandable for a team of NASA astronauts. For the science-minded person this film will be well-received and thoroughly enjoyed. For those who are not, the film has enough action and a nominal amount of emotion to keep the viewer entertained.

The current ratings and reviews of the top three movie critiquing organizations have been rather positive. The movie currently has a score of 8.4 from the IMDB (Internet Movie Database). Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 93% and lastly, Metacritic gives it a score of 81%.

If you are looking for something to do, I would definitely suggest seeing this movie. It is nothing short of a great science-action film. See it before its gone.