Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Spider-Man: Homecoming

     I saw this film the night before I saw Infinity War and thought it would be a good idea to review this one (and several others) before I reviewed the third Avengers movie. Now, I'll be the first to say, I have never been a big Spider-Man fan. I just feel like there have been too many (3 can be considered a lot!) and so when I found out there was once again, another Spider-Man. I didn't think much on it. However, this Spider-Man was connected to the MCU/Avenger's and so his storyline was going to be different from prior Spider-Man interpretations.

     Played by the wonderfully charming and handsome English actor, Tom Holland, this Peter Parker is introduced in Captain America: Civil War when he is recruited by Tony Stark to aid him in his fight against Captain America. Peter Parker has already become Spider-Man in image, but is still a 15 year old boy trying to figure out what to do with these new found abilities. Now you may remember that I gave Peter Parker a less than warm welcome in my movie review of Civil War:

     Then after re-watching the movie, I felt I may have been a little too hasty in my judgement and found Peter to be an endearing and lovable character. So, now that finally led me up to watching Spider-Man: Homecoming and really, honestly, actually finding a Spider-Man that I like!

~ ~ ~

Peter Parker/Spider-Man

     Two months after being recruited by Tony Stark, Peter must go back to his mundane life as a teenager in Queens living with his lively aunt, May Parker. While Tony allows Peter to keep his specially made, tech suit, Peter is bored and desperate to get back into the action. His one goal in life now is to become an Avenger and he will do whatever it takes to make it happen...only there is not a lot going on.

     It's difficult for Peter to readjust to life after the Avenger's Civil War. From fighting along side his hero Tony Stark/Iron Man to going back to being the typical bullied loser and geek in school. Now Peter's biggest concerns are trying to keep his identity hidden, surviving the day to day grind of high school and finding the courage to talk to his crush, Liz Allen. However, Peter's identity soon comes to light when his best friend Ned finds out and he unexpectedly becomes a source that Peter begins to rely on.

     Soon, life for Peter becomes anything but boring when he comes across illegal arms dealers with technology that isn't exactly of this world. This leads Peter to Adrian Toomes, a former respectable salvage worker whose company was run out by Tony Stark's Department of Destruction (D.O.D.) after the battle in New York (first Avengers movie). Furious at Tony for almost ruing him, Adrian begins to steal the alien parts from different Avenger battles over the years and create weapons of intense destruction. He then sells them to the highest bidder which overtime lets him provide well for his family. 

     While Peter tries to fight Adrian and his gang, he ends up doing more damage than good which leads him to parent/child confrontation with Tony Stark. Although Peter's heart was in the right place, Tony cannot let him be careless and takes Peter's suit away telling him that his abilities aren't in his suit. It's not long before Peter understands what Tony is talking about, realizing that he has the strength and intelligence to outsmart his enemies without the need of technology to aid him. 

~ ~ ~

     I've always found Spider-Man as more of superhero geared toward boys because Peter Parker is a boy. Not a billionaire, renown scientist, demigod or super soldier. Just a regular kid who got bitten by fate and will spend the rest of his life either at the mercy of fate or creating it himself. So, it's strange that I would actually find myself enjoying this Spider-Man/Peter Parker so much, but I really do.

     Tom Holland managed to create a nerdy hero in training that was relatable and fun. He clearly based his performance off of the former interpretations, but pulled off a Peter that didn't have the angst of Tobey Macguire or the moodiness of Andrew Garfield. Not to mention his classically handsome looks made him easy to watch as well....at least that's my opinion.  

     Adding Tony Stark as a mentor and father figure did great things for the overall story as well as Tony's character development. Tony and Peter have a great father/son dynamic and it's easy to see that Peter wants a male adult figure in his life who will train him, but also challenge him to be better. Seeing Tony as a dad is a little scary, but he slides into the role effortlessly; and the relationship that is created in Homecoming is certainly made manifest in Infinity War.

     So, to wrap things up, not being a Spider-Man fan, I can't speak on the behalf of all Spider-Man fanatics, but as someone who is following the Avengers Universe, this movie is great. You can see the beginnings of Peter's journey to becoming an Avenger and the start of his coming of age, taking the leap from boy to man with guidance from Tony Stark and hopefully other superheros to come.

Note: Reviews for Thor: Ragnarok and Dr. Strange coming soon!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Congratulations Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

May, 19 2018 at Windsor Palace

Now The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My History, My Heritage, My Honor

If this comes off as racist, I'm not sorry. I'm proud of my Norwegian and Irish heritage.

  •   My family came from the Viking ships and would then leave the English oppression of Ireland for a better life in America. 
  • Within my family line is a knight of nobility who fought in the Crusades, settled a city in Europe and still has memorials in his honor.
  • I come from a history of cowboys who helped settle the west and brought immigrants into the US through routes in Canada. Not to mention ties to Al Capone and the Mafia
  • I can claim to be a Daughter of the Revolutionary War as I had a distant uncle who was George Washington's personal bodyguard. 
  • While I may not be a direct descendant of either Lagertha or Boudica, they represent the beauty, the hardship, the trials and victories of my heritage.
  • And no political correct society will ever make me ashamed of who I am based solely on the color of my skin.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stranger Things

     Unless you've been living under a rock, pretty much everyone has at least heard of Stranger Things. The supernatural, sci-fi series that is a complete throwback to all things from the 1980's, especially the movies. The story itself was inspired by such 80's classics such as E.T., The Goonies, Firestarter, Close Encounters and some classic John Hughes teen drama thrown in as well. This little Netflix series has taken the world by storm, however, I wasn't originally interested in it until my family started watching. Eventually, I came around late into the game, but I can certainly consider myself a true Stranger Things fan. 

~ ~ ~

      November 6, 1983
     Hawkins, Indiana

     Four middle school boys, Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson have just finished their all day game of Dungeons and Dragons. As they all ride back to their respective homes, Will Byers hears an odd noise in the forest. Curiosity gets the better of him and he walks into the woods. 

And that's when things get a little strange.

     Will Byers disappears without a trace and his family and friends are at a loss to know what happened and where to search for him. While trying to find their friend, Mike, Lucas and Dustin come across a frightened girl, with a shaved head, who can hardly speak and whose only identification are the numbers 011 on her arm. 

And then things get stranger.

     The boys hide the young girl in Mike's basement and start to call her El. Soon they begin to see that El is no ordinary girl and has certain perceptions that are not natural at all. Meanwhile, there is another disappearance, this time it's a teenage girl and her best friend is just as scared and worried, knowing she may be responsible. 

And the strangest of all...

     People from the government run facility, Hawkin's Laboratory, start roaming around town looking for a  girl with a shaved head, withholding information from its residents and taking out anyone who dares to stand in their way. Eventually, Jim Hopper (or Hop) the grouchy and reclusive police chief of Hawkins, becomes the one person who has the knowledge to be able to find Will; as well as protect the people of Hawkins and keep a little girl safe from 'the bad people' and the world of 'the upside down.'

~ ~ ~


     Found alone and scared in a forest, patient 011 has been a science experiment at Hawkin's Lab her whole life. Gifted with telekinetic and telepathic abilities, Eleven is treated like a lab rat by Martin Brenner who she refers to as Papa. Brenner is a manipulative scientist, bent on using his young subject and her telekinetic to communicate with the supernatural world. While Eleven has no contact with the real world, that doesn't mean she is incapable of feeling. It is her ever growing understanding and use of emotion and feelings that causes Eleven to distinguish between cruelty and kindness, bad and good, freedom and bondage. Finally El, manages to escape Hawkins Laboratory and finds herself among the goodwill of the most unlikely people, but that doesn't stop Brenner from hunting down his prize science project.  

~ ~ ~

Residents of Hawkins, Indiana

     Jim Hopper (Hop): A solitary man who simply wants to do his job and be left alone. Jim Hopper is hardly what one may perceive as a hero and no one knows that better than Jim himself. Still reeling from grief at the loss of his young family, Jim is not one who is easy to get close to and he drowns his anger and sorrow in alcohol. However, Jim is a skilled police officer and when things get difficult in his town, nothing will stop him from protecting those that need him the most.  

     Joyce Byers: While Joyce is a struggling single mother of two boys, she is also a loving and protective mother that will not allow any harm to come to her children. Oftentimes seen as flighty or eccentric, Joyce is a person who has no time to care about what people think about her. Joyce's intense maternal instinct is her most formidable strength and gives her hope that her lost son will return to her. 

~ ~ ~

Top: Mike Wheeler and Lucas Sinclair
Bottom: Dustin Henderson and Will Byers
     Michael (Mike) Wheeler: The undisputed leader of his gang, Mike is stubborn, pragmatic and refuses to back down from a challenge. When Mike and his friends find Eleven in the woods, he out of all of them is immediately taken with the girl and he allots himself as her protector and guide to the world of Hawkins. 

     Lucas Sinclair: Lucas is fiery, fierce and unafraid. Built for adventure and danger, Lucas tends to be a lone wolf when he feels that Mike is being unfair in his judgments as the gang leader. However, Lucas remains loyal to his friends and overtime becomes accepting of Eleven, eventually seeing her as an asset to their group.  

     Dustin Henderson: A brainy and bubbly science geek who completely owns all of who he is. Dustin tends to be the most practical and easy going member of the group and also acts as peacemaker between Mike and Lucas. He has a gift for experimentation and building as well as charming and endearing personality that always puts everyone at ease. 

     Will Byers: The quietest member of the group who finds his voice in his love of drawing and art. Will's disappearance and subsequent search is the crux of the story and he is oftentimes only seen in mostly abstract form. Yet, even before Will was taken there was always something different about him and in Hawkins, different doesn't always mean safe. 

~ ~ ~

Top: Jonathan Byers and Nancy Wheeler
Bottom: Steve Harrington and Barbara Holland
     Jonathan Byers: Like his younger brother, Jonathan is artistic as a gifted photographer, but is introverted and closed off from people. After his dad abandoned the family, Jonathan does whatever he can to help his mother with the finances as well as take care of his brother. Hawkins High School isn't so understanding and Jonathan finds himself the target of constant bullying because of his quiet nature. 

     Nancy Wheeler: A pretty, but very insecure teenager who is desperate to be accepted by the popular crowd at school. Things start looking up for Nancy when Steve Harrington, the most popular guy in school, starts paying attention to her and invites her to his house. One night at Steve's house though puts Nancy through several nightmarish situations and she finds her loyalties divided between what she wants and what she really needs. 

     Steve Harrington: The undisputed King of Hawkins High, Steve is a stereotypical spoiled rich kid who is use to getting what he wants. And when Steve gets something he has no problem fighting people to stay away from it. Especially the annoying Jonathan Byers who seems to be stalking Steve's new girlfriend, Nancy Wheeler. However, Steve eventually gets a hard hit with reality and begins to see that maybe it's not always about him.

     Barbara "Barb" Holland: Nancy's protective best friend, who feels that maybe Steve isn't the right person for Nancy. Barbara believes that Steve is only playing around with Nancy and warns her of this. Only, Nancy's dreams of popularity and acceptance seem to be more important and Barb's warning are put to the wayside. If only there was someone protecting her...

~ ~ ~

     A lively, comical show that has no shortage of drama, mystery and even romance. The casting was brilliantly done with each person seemingly at ease with their character. The homage to the 80's is probably another brilliant factor and remembers a simpler time before the internet and i-phones when people really had to rely on their wits to get out of trouble. It's pretty easy to get wrapped up in the show because just when you have one question answered, three more pop up and you get more intrigued than ever.

     Season 2 is just as good. So, if you want something that is pure nostalgia or in need of some good sci-fi craziness, then Stranger Things is a good pick for your Netflix watch list.