Image for post
Image for post
Emily Blunt as the titular angelic nanny.

The phenomenon of Disney remaking, rebooting, or otherwise live-action adapting their classic films has, at this point, evolved from a trend to its own chapter of the company’s playbook in controlling the very concept of intellectual property. Most people seem to be in agreement that they are unnecessary cash-grabs that devalue the beloved originals, but enough people still go to them that Disney doesn’t have any motivation to stop with the already-doomed Dumbo movie or the increasingly poor-looking Aladdin feature. In terms of quality, they range from Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book remake, which turned Rudyard Kipling’s tale about the white man’s burden myth into a fable warning about the dangers of cultural oppression, to 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, which, among its other failings, is probably going to be the worst film Emma Watson will ever be in. …


Image for post
Image for post
Stan Lee 1922–2018

It’s a recognized proverb that superheroes are the modern myths, that the stories played out by super-powered character with outsized personalities are just as reflective of our current society as the exploits of Zeus and the Olympians were to the ancient Greeks. However, this wasn’t always the case. The first superhero comics were appropriately about god-like figures, divine beings who used their abilities and traits to maintain the status quo of a utopic world threatened by outlying imperfections. They were more propaganda pieces for the American dream and an assurance that the depression of the 1930s was finite than realized characters with their own traits and flaws. …


PART 1: The Problem With Idiots

Image for post
Image for post

The modern pop culture landscape is dominated by nerd culture. That’s not a judgement call or a boast on my part, merely an objective observation of fact. Movies based on comic books are the industry standard of the 21st century blockbuster film, the most lucrative entertainment medium in the world right now is video games, and the most popular shows on television are either animated or made by people who understand that appealing to a wider audience means gearing towards the geek aesthetic. …


Image for post
Image for post
The T-Rex’s roar is one of the most iconic sounds in modern film history.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a mediocre film, but so is the Jurassic Park franchise as a whole. I know it may be sacrilege to say so in some film circles, but understand that I was born in 1995, two years after Steven Spielberg redefined the potential of CGI as a story-telling device in the original Jurassic Park. I’m a part of the first generation to take those graphics and that narrative style for granted and, as such, never found much to identify with in the entire series. Sure, the first one was certainly a good enough film and the second one had the magnetic attraction that was a young Jeff Goldblum, but the third one was so bad it put the franchise on ice and Jurassic World was more a nostalgic spectacle than a fully-developed film. And that’s the cinematic landscape where Fallen Kingdom has to plant its flag. …


Image for post
Image for post

If the point of 2016’s gender-flipped Ghostbusters reboot was to prove that an all-female cast can carry the legacy of a franchise, then Ocean’s Eight is determined to take it a step further and demonstrate that, in certain instances, letting woman headline your traditionally masculine movie can actually improve it. And if that is its task, then call up an aircraft carrier and George W. Bush because we finally have an appropriate time to wave that stupid ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.

The story is as cookie cutter as any famous heist movie, but so were the stories of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven-Thirteen and those movies ranged from pretty good to fantastic. Inciting incident: Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), sister to previous series protagonist Danny, is released from prison after being set up by her ex-boyfriend five years ago. She’s spent her time in incarceration planning the most lucrative jewel heist in history. It just so happens to involve teaming up with some of her old con buddies and requires the recruitment of a few new criminals. With the help of her best friend Lou (Cate Blanchett), she assembles her team consisting of skittish jewel appraiser Amita (Mindy Kaling), desperate fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), fence-turned-housewife Tammy (Sarah Paulson), chilled-out hacker Nine-Ball (Rihanna), and street-wise pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina). Their target: a legendary diamond necklace that they plan to steal at the New York Met Gala from around the neck of ditzy starlet Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway). …


Image for post
Image for post
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther

When I tell you that Black Panther might just be the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the most culturally significant film they’ve ever produced, I mean it. It’s been suggested that some critics have been lenient or even preferential towards Black Panther because it’s good to see such racial progression and representation in the superhero film genre. Let me assure you, dear readers, that I hold no such bias. Not because I don’t applaud Marvel’s decision to diversify their cinematic and comic universes, quite the opposite. I just seem to be the only person who remembers that 1998's Blade was actually the first mainstream superhero movie with a black lead. …


Image for post
Image for post
Paddington squares off against Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson)

Confession time: I, a grown man who has studied film and holds a college degree, unironically love the first Paddington movie. It was a deceptively complex film stuffed with more delightful charm than George Clooney and wore its dry British wit on its sleeve. The story of a talking bear cub raised on 20th century British sensibilities who leaves his home in Darkest Peru to live in London with the Browns, a quintessential upper-middle class English family with individual characterizations, was not only an enjoyable family romp in theaters, it was also a subtly delivered pro-immigration and tolerance allegory. Include Nicole Kidman acting so over the top she could have cleared skyscrapers, animation integration on par with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and impressively creative use of British cinematography, and you have yourself a great way to kill a rainy afternoon. Its sequel promised to be more of the same and mostly delivered. …


Image for post
Image for post

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most versatile and visionary auteurs in Hollywood. Full stop. I could elaborate that he seems to specialize in building period-accurate atmosphere, telling what should be considered off-kilter stories, and using such subtly brilliant camerawork that he’s become the heir apparent to Stanley Kubrick, but I don’t really have to. This is the guy who made Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, and Inherent Vice, you know who he is and how good he is. Even if you don’t and haven’t seen any of his films, he’s been referenced enough in pop culture as a desirable director that your ignorance is your own damn fault at this point. But Phantom Thread might be his most interesting product to date, if for no other reason than its marketing made it almost feel like Anderson didn’t want people to see it. Critics treated to early releases and press viewings had to sign NDAs to prevent them from giving away any specific information about the film and none of the film’s trailers give any hint about the film’s narrative or tone. Frankly, I wouldn’t have seen this movie if a certain critic I put great faith in called it the best movie he’d ever seen. …


Image for post
Image for post
If it can give us someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, it can’t be all bad, right?

A few years ago, I had YouTube open on half of my computer screen while I was doing school work on the other half. YouTube’s autoplay function allowed me to go from one video to another without interrupting my focus. It was just a light distraction that counter-intuitively helped me concentrate on my task, I wasn’t paying attention to it in the slightest. That is until my eyes darted over for half a second and I found myself watching a WWE wrestling match.

Up until this point, I had had zero exposure to professional wrestling. All I knew about it was it had something to do with fighting, but was also fake and lowbrow, something to be avoided. And yet, from the first glance, I was enraptured. The video was already halfway through, so I restarted it to watch from the beginning. A cheering crowd surrounded a square ring in the middle of an arena. Excitable and loud announcers told me that the man walking down a ramp while rock music played was named “Mr. Kennedy” and he was from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Before they could finish their introduction, Mr. Kennedy grabbed a mic so he could do it himself. Unlike the commentators, who I initially believed to be unbiased, he had no qualms about over-exaggerating his abilities for the crowd. When they refused to believe his pomp and tried to beat him to the chase in chanting his signature catchphrase, he screamed at them. …

Mason Segall

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store