Nostalgia, you fickle beast.

I’m 31 years old. I was born in the 80’s but did most of my “growing up” in the 90’s. The 80’s and 90’s were both very interesting decades for pop culture. Music saw some major changes with the rise of Rap and Hip Hop, the resurgence of Punk, and my favorite, the explosion of Thrash and NuMetal.

While music and fashion is what most people remember from the 80’s and 90’s I fondly remember the killer cartoons and the beginning of mainstream video games. I vividly remember watching countless hours of Power Rangers, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Batman TAS and tons more. I was a fiend for these shows and all the toys that came with them. I remember Christmas morning when I was a kid and opening the full sized MegaZord that apparently my mom drove an insane amount trying to find. This made me a very happy kid. (Update: My mom read the article and said she drove 200km to find it in one day :/)

Video games were also pretty big for me as a kid. I owned the original NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and PS1. So many fun nights playing the old classics.

This brings me to the nostalgia. We all have it, and we all glorify it. I tried to watch Power Rangers (the original) on Netflix a few months ago in preparation for the new movie. Don’t. It’s awful. All I could think was “how did I like this?”. Was it just because I was a kid? Were my 8 year old standards really low? I think I just remember having fun as a kid and not the show itself. It was really bad.

So I set out on a challenge for myself. Try and remember my favorite shows and games and try them again. After Power Rangers being a bust I moved on. Batman The Animated Series staring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker is still amazing. That’s a win. If you haven’t seen it, fix that issue now. Mark Hamill’s Joker is the best version of the character ever. Shows like Transformers and GI Joe were fun but the animation and voice acting was really dated. Very hard to watch. The original TMNT was in the same vein as other cartoons from the 80’s and early 90’s. Bad animation. All over the place. Seemed like it was rushed. As most of these shows were made to sell toys it wouldn’t surprise me if they were rushed.

Games were basically the same. Most of the older games I remember were tough to play again. I had use emulators for most of them as I don’t own the old systems anymore. Mario still holds up, and so do other side scrolling platformers. But those games relied on mechanics that don’t change much as the technology gets better. Mario is the same year over year with a fresh coat of paint. 3D games from the mid 90’s on the other hand look so bad. One of the biggest games from the PS1 era is Final Fantasy 7. I played that game to death. Nostalgia has messed up my memory though. I remember that game vividly. This is the main character, Cloud. That’s how I remember him. He actually looked like this. Seriously…

Okay, so maybe I remember things the way I want, not the way they actually were. That’s okay though. It’s like the cartoon version of the fisherman’s story.

On the bright side though. There are a ton of new shows coming out that are worth your time to scratch that itch for a show from your childhood. The Ninja Turtles have a show on right now that is fantastic. For you guys going way back, there is a new VOLTRON series on Netflix that is amazing.

Maybe keep the fond memories of your childhood cartoons as memories. Stick to the modern. Except Power Rangers, that show still sucks. The movie wasn’t bad though.

I have a very long list of cartoons that are worth watching now. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you can’t watch good cartoons. Maybe I will do a “what to watch” list later on.

What were some of your best childhood memories around cartoons? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know. Or maybe ask for a recommendation on what to watch now.

@bikeronthemic

 

 

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It is the best time ever to be a superhero movie fan

I’ve been watching superhero films for a long time. Since I could walk. Once I saw Spider-Man back in 2002, I knew I was hooked for life. There’s something about the message and morals that superhero movies portray that stick with me much more than any other genre of films. In 2017, it’s hard to argue it’s the absolute greatest time in history to be a fan of the genre.

While some people argue that superhero films are becoming too over-saturated, I highly disagree. While the film industry is pumping out more superhero movies than ever, each film is breaking the mould of the genre, and every movie has its own feel to it. For instance, the early Thor and Captain America films did feel a little stereotypical. But with Thor: Ragnarok looking like a brand new feel to the series and Civil War being a triumphant milestone for the entire genre, it appears Marvel Studios (and DC Entertainment) have found a way to keep the genre moving forward. There’s no better example than the Guardians of the Galaxy; a comic series that was relatively not known of by the general public turned into a worldwide sensation overnight with their own standalone film back in 2014. Why? Because the film was amazing, but also because it took many un-contemporary approaches to the genre and made a unique story that hadn’t been told before.

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It’s this formula that has been taking over the superhero movie genre for the past 5 years, even before Guardians of the Galaxy was released. With Logan being released in March, it gave the Wolverine character, who has been on the silver screen for the better part of the last two decades, a unique tale, and a new look to the character. Even with The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the iconic character has changed many times since the original X-Men movie was released in 2000. Let’s forget about that origins movie though.

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Back to 2017, this theory is still in full swing. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, including Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther on way, Marvel Studios in particular, is finding unique ways to tell some fantastic stories through their comic heroes. While DC is still lagging behind a little bit with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman gave the brand a sense of hope moving forward as well.

With the Infinity War set to smash the box office into pieces in 2018, it appears the genre isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. And that, is a great thing.

GLOW’s storytelling is triumphant

Netflix Originals are becoming the standard for TV shows, and with another gem in GLOW, cable television companies like HBO and AMC are falling further behind in terms of quality content on demand. Created by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch, GLOW is based on a wrestling show, but dives deeper, and covers women’s rights, equality and the crazy time that was the 1980’s. If you’re a fan of wrestling, 80’s aerobics fashion and Marc Maron saying “my ex-wife” every ten minutes, GLOW is the show for you.

It’s very clear from the opening episode that there’s a focus on women’s stereotypes back in the 80’s. Alison Brie stars in the series playing Ruth Wilder, a tacky actress who can’t find good work in Hollywood. In the opening scene of the series, Ruth auditions for a role in a film. However, she reads the male lead’s lines in the script, as they get all the air-time and “good roles” in the films, while women simply played arm candy or the house wife. After getting shut down for the role, a producer guides her to an audition for “something different” that’s “not porn.” So, off Ruth goes, and winds up in a gym with Sam Syvia (Marc Maron) and auditions for GLOW; Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

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Ruth’s stint originally does not pan out. That is, until Debbie Eagan (played by Betty Gilpin) storms into the ring after finding out Ruth was sleeping with her husband. The pure emotion between the two sparks a vision in Sam’s head, and the main event for GLOW is set. However, there are many barriers stopping Sam from his master plan. Like wrestling promotions in real life, egos and personal agendas put the show on the brink of even happening.

If you’re a wrestling fan like me, this series does leave something to be desired in terms of the actual wrestling portion of the show. It was odd seeing Brodus Clay randomly turn up in the show, and I didn’t even recognize Carlito without the huge puffy afro, it looks like he put on some serious pounds to do this show.

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Indie performers like Joey Ryan, Kharma (who I didn’t recognize until I looked up the cast list that she was in the show,) Alex Riley, Brooke Hogan (not a wrestler but the daughter of the most famous wrestler of all-time) and Lucha Underground star and former WWE champion John Morrison. The show has the talent, but the show never really focuses solely on the wrestling. So if you’re tuning into GLOW to watch lots of wrestling, sorry.

I did think there was some hilarious parts in this series, the first rehearsal show in particular. There was a little bit left to be desired in the ending of the show, it felt like there was some unanswered questions, specifically with Arthie and Rhonda’s final showdown. It appeared there was going to be some conflict between the crowd and the wrestlers, and then it seemed the show just swept it to the side for the next match on the card. Even backstage, Arthie was devastated by what had just occurred, but forget that, onto the next match!

The ending of the first season leaves no doubt, there will be season two, and if I had to take a shot in the dark, it shouldn’t be too long before we see the second season on Netflix.

In closing, GLOW was a unique series that focused on women’s rights and stereotypes, and successfully depicted a group of misfit actresses who would do anything for work in Hollywood during the mid 1980’s. If you’re in it for the wrestling, it will feel underwhelming for you, but the storytelling and laughs will keep you interested. I don’t think it’s as good as the ratings it’s getting, but it’s good enough to get a second season.

7/10

What to expect at the D23 Expo

In just two days, hordes of mouse-hat fans will flock to Anaheim for the D23 Expo 2017, the bi-annual conference for all things Disney.

For me, the highlights of the conference come on Friday and Saturday morning respectively when feature films will take the main stage. On Friday, they’ll showcase everything in the world of Disney-Pixar animation and then on Saturday, everything in the world of live-action which for most people means Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here is a rundown of what to expect from D23 Expo 2017 this weekend.

ANIMATED

I’ll be the first one to admit that my animated knowledge is not up to snuff, I’m not the most fervent admirer of the craft. However, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the animated panel at D23 for two reasons – Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2.

I’m a child of the nineties; hell I was born six months before the release of the original Toy Story film, it’s the animated franchise that not only I but many have grown up with. I followed along as Buzz was introduced to the gang and became Woody’s partner in crime, was overjoyed when I met Jessie in 1999 and everything felt right in the world for a lowly four year old, and then I like many was moved to tears as eleven years later Toy Story 3 came out and showed us all that we were growing up and there’s nothing we can do about it. And now once again, nearly ten years after the release of Toy Story 3 we will see the fourth instalment in the franchise. Toy Story 4 is likely not going to have the largest presence at the conference given the fact that it’s release date is still 23 months away. However, we will get some details; two years ago at D23 we were told the story will focus on a romance between Woody and Bo Peep, these plot points remain two years later as the only morsels of information we have on the film, I expect that to change on Friday. Don’t expect a trailer, don’t expect a teaser, don’t even expect any footage from the film but I would expect some stills, some production artwork, some more plot details and potentially even Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to appear on stage together. Toy Story 4 is a long ways away so don’t expect to see footage from the film anytime soon but the concept of more plot details and some interesting photographs wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

When we first got confirmation on The Incredibles 2 the film community was stunned we had waited over ten years just for confirmation that the movie was coming. Fans rabid for a sequel had nearly forgotten about Pixar’s lone superhero attempt and yet people were still excited. It took a poster with the unforgettable first Incredibles logo and simply ahead a second ‘I’. Writer and Director Brad Bird returns for the film which is 11 months away from release. This is the film that will run the animated panel for Disney at D23 and I don’t think anything is off the board from a full cast announcement, plot details, a new poster, concept art, and yes, even footage. There is precedent here, in 2015 Moana was given the spotlight at D23, a film that was more a year out and it created positive momentum for the film that lasted all the way to the Academy Awards where Moana lost out to Zootopia (In my opinion, Moana was the better film and deserved the Academy Award.) Overall, while I think the conference will announce a couple of titles for movies on the Disney-Pixar production schedule I believe that The Incredibles 2 will be the highlight of the show with Toy Story 4 making a curtain call appearance and lighting up the fans in attendance.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Don’t get too excited, those of you looking for MCU news will likely have to wait another week until the Marvel conference at Comic-Con. It’s not that Disney doesn’t care about the MCU, it’s in fact there biggest money maker right now (Spider Man: Homecoming pushed the MCU box office to over 12 billion dollars,) but D23 isn’t the ideal place to show all your MCU footage. That being said, I still have a couple ideas to possible snippets that could be seen at D23.

Thor: Ragnarok, the next Marvel film on the slate comes out in November and will be the third MCU film to release in 2017, the first time the studio has released three films in one calendar year. You WILL NOT see any footage from Thor: Ragnarok at D23, you will also not see any images. What you WILL see is a new poster and the main cast assembled together on stage. Those of you waiting to see more footage from Thor’s third solo film will have to wait for Comic-Con where I expect those in attendance will see 5-10 minutes from the film and everyone in the world will be treated to a second trailer for the film.

The MCU film I’m most excited for is Black Panther. This incredible cast and crew have been working on something special for a while and that was never more clear than when they release that teaser trailer in early June. Black Panther is likely to see the biggest push of all the MCU films at D23. A poster seems likely to me, as well as concept art. Following a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in late April, Disney took members of the media back to their LA office and showed off concept art, stills from the movie, and a few brief scenes. Expect to see some of the Black Panther concept art and stills that were shown to the media in that exchange to finally be shown to the public here. In terms of footage, I give it a 35 percent chance that Ryan Coogler debuts new footage for his film at the event. A little over a month from the first teaser, I hesitate to believe that the film has full scenes that they are ready to show the public yet.

Finally, this will be the surprise of the event and it will come at the very end of the live action film panel on Saturday morning. Kevin Fiege, the CEO of Marvel Studios will walk back onto the stage and give us the first plot details from Avengers: Infinity War, he will then throw to a sizzle reel from the film. We will see Cap doing Cap stuff, Tony in a new suit and then end it with a shot of Thanos and the gauntlet. The lights will come back up in the arena, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Tom Holland will be on stage to thank everyone and then Josh Brolin will walk out wearing the same infinity gauntlet he wore at Comic-Con three years ago when it was announced he would be playing Thanos.

LUCASFILM

Lucasfilm’s two major projects right now are Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the untitled Han Solo film, both set to release within the next twelve months. My predictions are all based on my ideas that Lucasfilm will have the heaviest presence at D23’s feature film panel. The MCU will be pushed back to Comic-Con save for a few reveals where Star Wars will not be attending Comic-Con in a feature film capacity.

Let’s start with The Last Jedi, many people are expecting to see a second trailer for the 8th Star Wars film and that’s not crazy, if this was any regular film but it’s not it’s Star Wars. A second trailer for The Last Jedi will NOT be shown at D23 this weekend. The next full length trailer for the film will come around September or even October much like they did with The Force Awakens. That doesn’t mean though that you won’t see anything from The Last Jedi, I believe that we will see a behind the scenes sizzle reel roughly 3-4 minutes in length. This sort of marketing falls directly in line with what Lucasfilm has done with their films already. Release the trailer, then the behind the scenes reel, and then the second trailer.

Roughly two and half months before the film comes out. We don’t need four trailer for The Last Jedi, I would even argue that we don’t need one trailer we are still going to see the movie. Lucasfilm is spectacular at marketing and they know that they don’t need to show any more from the film than they are comfortable with.

As for the Han Solo film, if you asked me six weeks ago I would have said a 100 percent chance of a teaser trailer but then something funny happened, they fired their directors with two weeks left of shooting and all hell broke loose. If you didn’t hear, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired for being unwillingly to follow the script written by Star Wars veteran Lawerence Kasdan and his son. Two days later, veteran director Ron Howard was brought on to finish the picture and at the time of writing this they are currently undergoing re-shoots to ensure the film is closer to what Lucasfilm wants. All that would lead a regular person to believe that nothing from this film would be shown, a rational person may argue that clearly they don’t have a lot of faith about where the project is right now based on the fact that they fired their directors just weeks ago but I’m not a rational human being.

Footage from this film will be shown at D23, at least I really think so. Ron Howard has been using his personal twitter ever since the film came out to tease costumes, images, and details about the film, I would bet that Lucasfilm will use the D23 Expo stage to ensure audiences not to loose their minds about the project. Not a lot of people in the film world have faith that Lucasfilm can turn it around on the Han Solo movie, a film which not a lot of people even wanted to begin with. D23 would be the perfect opportunity for Lucasfilm to show thirty seconds of Alden Ehrenreich in character as Han and Donald Glover in character as Lando and just like that they have turned the negative press into positive press. People are suddenly talking about how good Alden is as Han or how perfect Glover is to portray Lando and for the first time since mid-June, people in the Star Wars community aren’t talking about the behind the scenes problems on this film.

Finally, if Disney doesn’t show anything from the Han Solo movie then they will do something else. Something that fans have been asking for quite a while. Ewan McGregor will step on stage and announce the solo Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Lucasfilm has a third anthology film on their slate right now and no information regarding this film, for months people have been speculating on an Obi-Wan film staring McGregor in the role that made him famous. D23 is the best place to announce this film and it would certainly do wonders to Lucasfilm’s perception in the media right now.

All in all, it’s a great time of year for film fans with D23 and Comic-Con back to back. In the next two weeks you can expect to see footage, stills, and posters from some of the most anticipated movies of the next couple years.