Stranger Things: (Max)imum Style

VincentVanSpock June 2nd, 2022

Stranger Things is one of those ideas that doesn’t sound like it should work. “Lets take a bunch of kids, put them in the 80’s, have them play Dungeons and Dragons, and whatever monster they fight in their DND campaign will show up in the real world and kill people. Also, theres a girl with super powers for some reason.” Yet, in spite of the weird premise, and the fact that its mostly following a bunch of kids, the shows visuals, acting, soundtrack, characters, story, and overall execution truly came together to create a captivating, exciting, and devastating television show. But, the first 7 episodes of season 4, called part 1, has cranked everything up to Eleven (pun definitely intended).

*SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE ON*

The season starts off by showing the audience the after math of a violent bloodbath of children in what looks like a medical facility. This hits particularly hard given that the season released only three days after a terrible school shooting in Texas. Flashes of blood covered children laying limp and motionless immediately fill the viewer with sadness, hatred, and disgust. They show this in order to give the audience the impression that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was the perpetrator of such violence. Then we see Eleven at her new school in California where she is bullied and struggles to fit in. This fuels our fears that Eleven might snap and kill again. Throughout part 1, she struggles adapting to the world, not only without her powers, but without her friends as well.

Next, we get a plot where Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) gets a package in the mail that tells her that Hopper (David Harbour) is alive and being held captive in Russia. She calls on the help of Murry (Brett Gelman) in order to pay the rescue fee and bring Hopper home. Yet, she and Murry are doublecrossed, captured, and brought to Russia to be sold into slavery. They manage to escape, infiltrate the Russian facility, and meet up with Hopper after he fights off a particularly dangerous Demogorgon. We are left with Joyce, Murry, and Hopper behind enemy lines with the Demogorgon still on the loose and the many Russian agents looking for them.

Throughout the first part of season 4, we see several characters being mentally attacked, by a fear inducing new villain called Vecna. Just like the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer from previous seasons, Vecna is introduced in a short segment of the kids playing DND. Vecna is particularly scary, given that it first plays on characters individual fears but only in their mind. Then, after 5 full days of mental attacks, in the real world, Vecna puts the victim in one final trance, lifts them into the air and kills them in the most gruesome and horrifying way. It is reminiscent of Freddie Kruger killing people in their dreams but having something happen to their body in the real world. The producers must have known this considering they cast the original Freddie Kruger actor Robert Englund as the only survivor of Vecnas attacks.

Vecna kills a high school cheerleader named Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) in front of the drug dealing new dungeon master of the DND group, Eddie (Joseph Quinn). Eddie is assumed to be her murderer and is hunted by the Hawkinson police, high school basketball team that Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) has joined, and the citizens of Hawkinson. Chrissy was the girlfriend of the captain of the Basketball team, Mason (Jason Carver). Mason uses the fear that DND was considered satanic at the time, and the fact that Eddie was a drug dealer, to convince the people of Hawkinson to hunt Eddie down.

Then to top all of this off, Max (Sadie Sink), my personal favorite character, is under the attack of Vecna and prepares herself to be killed. She writes notes saying her final goodbyes to each of her friends and one to her brother, Billy, who died heroically at the end of season 3. The group finds out how Robert Englunds character survived Vecna the first time; because his favorite song was playing in the background during Vecnas final attack. They then use this information to attempt to save Maxs life. The scene that follows is one of the most beautiful pieces in television history. The song thats playing is perfect, the way Max fights no matter how bleak it seems, the slow motion, the hole of white freedom in the otherwise red world of her trance state, and the buildup of maxs character from past seasons, makes the climax of Episode 4: Dear Billy, heart pounding, tense, and emotional. It took everything in me not to cry even before knowing whether or not she survives.

The four main stories intersect and intertwine beautifully. The subplots and character development continue perfectly considering past seasons. Season 4 thus far has become one of my favorite seasons of any television show. I cannot recommend this show enough. I am beyond excited for the second part which comes out July 2022.

The Trouble with Thor

VincentVanSpock June 6th 2022

Look at the picture of Thor, now back to me, now back to Thor, now back to me. Sadly, that is not me. But, it sure is nice to look at isn’t it? That being said, the eye candy that is Chris Hemsworth, being completely nude on the big screen, has caused an uproar among some fans. Said fans are upset that Thors clothes are being ripped from his body without his consent. The argument being, that if this was happening to a woman, the audience would be less likely to laugh about it. So, why is it ok for it to happen to a male?

If you are still with me, it probably means you’ve seen the trailer. If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen the trailer 50 or 60 times, often with a glass of wine, candles lit, and your favorite lotion within arms reach (My face really dries out when the tears start running). But the scene in question shows Russel Crowes character, Zeus, “flick” Thors disguise off of him. But, OH NO, it took off all of Thors clothes, leaving him in all his sculpted godly glory. Thor then screams at Zeus “You flicked too hard, dammit!” This implies that Thor does not consent to showing his gentleman sausage and buns to the entire crowd of onlookers. The scene on the whole is played for laughs, all in good fun. Yet, would it be as funny if it happened to Jane Foster or Valkyrie played by Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson respectively?

Now, keep in mind that this is all my personal opinion and maybe my opinion isn’t for you. Yet, I firmly believe that this is perfectly acceptable within the confines of the movie. First of all, the exact same joke has been performed, by women, in other movies, even another Marvel movie. Fantastic Four (2005), in which Jessica Albas character has the bathroom door opened on her after she had stripped naked for a shower. Charlies Angels (2000), Drew Barrymores character falls down a hill nude and uses a pool floaty to cover herself. In TV, Tony sees Angela naked in the shower in Who’s the Boss, Tim sees Jills sister naked in the shower in Home Improvement. There are probably 1000 more examples that my sleep deprived brain cannot recall at this moment. The fact of the matter is, it is a joke that has been used in many mediums, for years, on many characters.

That is something everyone needs to keep in mind when watching movies or TV; these are fictional characters. Fic-tion-al Char-act-ers! Am I getting through to you? Thor is not a real person, Sue Storm is not a real person, Angela is not actually the boss because she isn’t real. “But the actor is a real person.” I KNOW! But the actor does actually consent to whatever is shown on screen. That is what matters. That is the fight we need to fight. If the actor does not consent, and it is still shown, thats when to get triggered and be offended. For example, when Elliot Pages nude body scan was put into the video game Beyond: Two Souls’ files without Elliots permission.

The point is, pick your battles folks. Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Thor, consented to his nude body being filmed for this role. These types of situations are discussed during the contract signing, again when reading the script, and again when filming the actual scene. If at any point Hemsworth didn’t want to be filmed nude he could have used a body double, negotiated the stipulations of the contract, or quit the project all together. Being offended for someone who consented to the scene is pointless, tedious, and pedantic. Whats worse, is being offended for a fictional character, when the point of the scene isn’t to make you feel bad for them. So, my advice, is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

How to add the X-Men into the MCU: An Opinion

By VincentVanSpock 05/22/2022

With the introduction of Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier into Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness the X-Men are…. sorta… in the MCU now. All we know as of the release of Dr. Strange 2 is A version of Charles Xavier from A different universe exists within the MCU. Granted he is now laying in a hole in the ground 6 feet under but he exists none-the-less. This has re-opened the #1 asked question regarding the X-Men; How will Kevin Feige introduce the rest of the X-Men to the MCU?

A few days ago, The MCUs Bleeding Edge Podcast and YouTube show was discussing, with Geek News Network, the idea of an X-Men Vs. Avengers movie and how we would do it. During the discussion we got into a bit of a debate on how to bring in the X-Men in the MCU in the first place. Now, I don’t mean to tell anyone they’re wrong or disrespect anyones ideas. Yet, I truly feel this idea needs to be documented before it happens… Possibly…

With the addition of the Marvel TV shows like Wandavision, Moon Knight, and Loki, A TV show seems like the ideal way to introduce the X-Men, especially if it is done properly. A 6 episode series, where each episode introduces a single X-Men character, with some cameos thrown in, and ending with Professor X meeting the character of that episode, would be the best way to give each character adequate screen time and character development. Furthermore, I would have the original X-Men lineup of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Ice Man, Beast, and Angel with the 6th and final episode being about Professor X himself.

I want each episode to go in depth into each characters back story, their individual struggles, and why they joined the X-Men in the first place. For example, I want to see Scott Summers parents die in a plane crash. The plane is under attack by the Shi-ar empire and being shot down. The parents put Scott and his brother Alex (Havoc) into the only parachute and push them out the plane, sacrificing themselves to save the boys. From there, the boys get separated and thrown into orphanages. At the orphanage Scott is bullied mercilessly until eventually Scotts powers manifest and he runs from the orphanage. He wanders through the city and forests and tries to survive without the use of his eyes. Then Professor X shows up and brings him to the X Mansion. Once each character gets their episode of the TV show, you release an X-Men movie involving each of the characters in the first season coming together to tackle a common threat.

If Feige did this with each of the X-Men it would provide hardcore audiences with the backstory of the character in live action, and casual audiences a movie that doesn’t waste time with origin stories. Then later seasons can introduce more X-Men like Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. You can even have episodes for the origins of the Brotherhood, Marauders, Hellfire club, or other villains. Ultimately, the theme that marvel needs to get 100% right in order for the X-Men to work on the big screen, is the X-Men protecting those people who wish to harm them.

The X-Men has always been an analogy for racism and something not explored enough in previous films. The first MCU X-Men film really needs to delve deep into the idea that the X-Men are hated but they still continue to do what is right. In the beginning, almost everyone who isn’t a mutant hates them. But slowly, they start to gain respect and appreciation from former haters. My idea for the first villain is the government itself.

The government starts to learn of the existence of mutants at the same time we the audience do. Mutants have existed for decades or millennia. But they have been few or far between and hidden themselves well enough that they remain unnoticed by most. Then have a character, like Beast, transform from the passible strong man into the blue haired fur-ball. This makes the world aware of the existence of mutants and scares people into lashing out. The government then decides to create the sentinels who attack mutants regardless of where they are and without restraint. Homosapiens are killed by the sentinels while the sentinels are pursuing mutants. Then the X-Men come in and fight the sentinels while saving human lives. This causes some to start seeing the X-Men as the heroes they are. People start protesting the governments use of sentinels. Then end the film with the X-Men saving someone important like Senator Kelly. You could end the movie with a cameo of the next villain, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Magneto. In fact, I would like to see someone new like Sinister or Mojo. What do you think? Did I miss anything that is absolutely essential to the X-Men?

She-Hulk

You’re gonna like her when she’s angry

By VincentVanSpock

Just a few days ago, Marvel released a full trailer for the She-Hulk TV show coming to Disney+ on August 17th 2022. The show stars Tatiana Maslany as the titular character, Mark Ruffalo reprising his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and Tim Roth making his return as Abomination/Emil Blonsky. But is the Marvel fandom ready for what She-Hulk has traditionally brought to the table?

She-Hulk, in the comics, has represented far more than just “Female Hulk.” While much of Hulk can be summed up in 2 words “Hulk Smash,” She-Hulk is far more complex and provides representation for a new audience. Created in 1980, Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk was designed as a satire of the overly sexualized female superheroes. She-Hulk in the comics leans into that sexualization and embraces it. It appears that the TV series is doing that as well. This is a form of feminism that tells women it is ok to enjoy sex as much as men do without the harassment that often comes with it.

Many people are not ready for this. There are still entire cultures and countries, that Disney+ functions in, who aren’t going to allow this type of Women’s empowerment. But should that stop Disney from showing She-Hulk in all her giant green glory? NO! Sex is a natural part of life. Most people have it. Some people have it only for pleasure and not for reproduction. Women are allowed to have sex with as many people as they want. It is pointless to praise men for sleeping around while berating women for doing the same. You physically cannot have sexually active straight men without sexually active straight women. Get over it!

That being said lets talk about the 500 pound elephant in the room, the Bad CGI. A lot of people are absolutely losing their minds over some shots. Personally, it doesn’t bother me as much and I feel it shouldn’t bother you either, for a few reasons. First, the show hasn’t come out yet. The CGI will absolutely be better when it releases in August. Second, even if it isn’t, Marvel has combined CGI and practical effects in order to help suspend our disbeliefs. Certain shots will keep even the keenest eyes guessing what’s real and how they did it. Finally, if CGI is all you are noticing while watching this show, then there is far more wrong with it than just CGI. In theater, we have a saying, if people are worried about the paint then we didn’t do our job.

I for one am excited for this television show. It has potential to be a funny, sexy, Law show similar to Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, or Single Female Lawyer (For all my Futurama loving friends out there). The Marvel aspect of the show also has potential to open the door for great cameos and build ups for future titles. All I know for sure is, I am green with envy at whoever this Hulk gets to smash.

Dr. Strange 2 Spoiler Review

By VincentVanSpock

My views are my own and do not reflect the views of the rest of the bleeding edge.

Here’s how this is gonna work. In the first few paragraphs I’ll review it without spoilers for those still on the fence about seeing it. Then I will put *SPOILERS* when I start talking about specific information about the movie that could irritate those who haven’t seen it yet. You have been warned.

First, this is easily one of the most beautiful films I personally have seen. The CGI is gorgeous throughout the film. The blend of practical effects and CGI is often indistinguishable as when one is being used over the other. As a filmmaker and long time film goer I believe the use of both CGI and practical effects together to be the best way to make movies. Too much CGI can leave people disoriented or not immersed in the product, while practical effects can only do so much. Dr. Strange combines the two in a way that makes it believable and leaves audiences immersed.

While the effects are great, some characters aren’t balanced as well as the CGI. While the movie is called Dr. Strange I would argue that this movie is about Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) doesn’t go through any real change in the movie. He starts the film as a noble, selfless, and kind and ends the film selfless noble and kind. While Wanda starts the film struggling to accept all of the trauma and loss of Avengers Age of Ultron, Infinity War, and Wandavision, by the end of it she goes through a change, which I won’t spoil yet. Also, America Chavez starts the film struggling with confidence but believes in herself by the end of it. Strange, Wong (Benedict Wong), and the rest of the sorcerers almost seem like an afterthought.

Speaking of afterthought, the sound design is good but not great. The sound effects are believable for what they are. I mean, how do you create the sound for a star portal or a ribbon based monster? But the sound track is forgettable. Danny Elfman has some iconic sound tracks, just look at 1989’s Batman. But, Dr. Strange’s soundtrack leaves something to the imagination. It’s fine for what it is but not mind-blowing.

*SPOILERS* This is your final warning.

What is mind-blowing are the plot, cameos, multiverse itself. You learn pretty early on that Wanda is the one and only villain of this film. She is believable as the villain too. Elizabeth Olsen goes all out in her acting, Sam Raimi kicks the horror up to 11, and Wanda’s destruction of Kamar-Taj in the first act establishes her as a powerful and destructive force. Wanda’s motivation throughout the film is to steal the powers of America Chavez so she can gain access to her alternate universe selves kids. Dr. Strange and America spend the majority of the film running from Wanda because of how strong she is and because America believes she cannot control her powers. This leads them into a universe where they meet the long awaited Illuminati.

This version of the illuminati consists of Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Blackbolt (Anson Mount), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and most shockingly Mr. Fantastic Reed Richards (John Krazinski). This is where the majority of the cameos come into the film. Other than this we get Charlize Theron in a mid-credits scene as Clea, a brief view of the Living Tribunal, and of course a Bruce Campbell cameo because its a Sam Raimi film. Unfortunately, the illuminati are all killed with the exception of Mordo but this does continue to show the strength of Wanda and gives Strange and America more reason to run. These cameos do establish a few marvel aspects formally missing; Terrigen Mist, Mutants, Inhumans, and the Fantastic 4. But it is still unseen what will happen with these characters and actors next.

Speaking of characters the multiverse itself seems like a character in and of itself. Every time they jump the audience is left wondering where they will appear next, who they will come across, and what struggles they will face. Much of America Chavez character comes from her lack of understanding of the multiverse. The entire plot revolves around the multiverse and wouldn’t have worked without it considering several actors have to play multiple versions of themselves.

Final thoughts: Sam Raimi’s horror background really shines in this film as well as Elizabeth Olsen’s acting chops, and the effects team overall. However, the pacing is a bit slow, the soundtrack is forgetable, and cameos, while fun, do feel tacked on seem to be added simply as a way of putting butts in seats. Ultimately, I give Dr. Strange and Multiverse of Madness a B-. Mostly, good but definitely with some problems. Give it a watch on the big screen if you’re a marvel fan, lover of horror, or filmmaking connoisseur. Otherwise, you could probably wait until this shows up on Disney+.

Moon Knight Review *Spoilers*

By VincentVanSpock

Fair warning, this post will contain spoilers for all 6 Season 1 episodes of Marvel’s Moon Knight TV show on Disney+. Right off the bat, I want to say that Moon Knight has quickly become my favorite Marvel Television show. It beat out Loki, Wandavision, and Netflix’s Daredevil with its brilliant acting, clever writing and filmmaking, and accurate depiction of Dissociated Identity Disorder.

I generally consider myself to be an expert on good acting, considering I have 20 years experience as an actor and a Masters degree in Acting from Birmingham City University in England. Using my expertise as an actor, I can confirm that Moon Knight has some of the best acting I have seen on screen. Oscar Isaac does especially well switching between Steven Grant, Marc Spector and to a lesser extent Jake Lockley. I truly feel like Oscar Isaac fully embodied these characters and the disorder they suffer through. He quickly switches between Steven Grant and Marc Spector without cuts or edits multiple times throughout the series. This requires a lot of training, hard work, and knowledge of the characters.

Not only did Oscar Isaac put on a great performance, but, in my opinion, Ethan Hawke portrays one of the greatest villains of all time. A lot of people, myself included, claim that the best villains believe themselves to be the heroes. Ethan Hawke plays a cult leader who he modeled after David Koresh. In the second episode of Moon Knight, he talks with Steven Grant about his motivation and desires for the world. His charismatic idealism almost convinces Steven, and some audience members, to follow his lead. That is until he talks about killing kids in order to achieve his goals.

Along with my Masters of Acting I also have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While at University, I put an emphasis on abnormal psychology. The DSM 5 defines Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously called multiple personality disorder, as a disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession. Moon Knight, and especially Oscar Isaac, does an amazing job showcasing the way DID comes into existence through trauma and stress. They also use DID to create an unreliable narrator and have the audience questioning what is real and what isn’t. The first, fourth, and fifth episodes especially leave the audience wondering if anything Marc Spector or Steven Grant does is real.

I went into moon knight with little to no knowledge of the character. Yet, after watching the show I strive to know more about him. I plan from this point on to read Moon Knight comics, watch the upcoming seasons of the show, and hope that Moon Knight shows up in other MCU titles. I want to see how he interacts with other characters such as Daredevil or Spider-man. I now know why so many Marvel fans see Moon Knight as their favorite Marvel property. I am excited for the future of this character and Marvel as a whole now that he is in live action form.

Dr. Strange 2 pre-viewing thoughts

By VincentVanSpock

Today, Friday, May 6th 2022, Dr. Strange 2 hits theaters in America. The movie has gathered as much hype, if not more than, such titles as Avengers Endgame and Spider-Man No Way Home. Rumors have run rampant regarding what Dr. Strange 2 will mean for the MCU going forward. Does the presence of Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier mean the long awaited emergence of the X-Men and other mutants? Will other mutants show up in this film? Are variants of other MCU characters going to show up in this film; such as Tom Cruise as Tony Stark? What other mind blowing cameos and characters will show up?

Those of you who have seen the film already are probably laughing at us commoners who have had the misfortune of being forced to wait. But soon, the vast majority of MCU fans will have seen the film or accidentally spoiled it for themselves. The changes to the MCU will soon be common knowledge and we will all go back into theory mode; guessing what the introduction of (Insert character here) will mean, or how the death of (insert character 2 here) will affect everything. But for the next few weeks or so, do your best not to spoil it for everyone else.

Maybe, Dr Strange 2 will launch the MCU into a whole new level of big brain, 5 head, mind-blowing intelligence. Perhaps, it will create new and even more interesting characters, and usher in a new group of fans from all over the world. Or, it will leave us unimpressed and wishing we had spent our money on Sonic 2 or Secrets of Dumbledore. Either way, Marvel has hyped up their fans for this movie and their other intellectual properties going forward. They know how to get their fans excited for the future.

Marvel have built a fan base some consider to be too big to fail. Some film making companies even rely on Marvel creating such hype in order to revitalize the movie going industry. If not for Marvel driving the love of the MCU, the movie industry as a whole might have died in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. Many believe that Spiderman No Way Home, which was a precursor and vital to Dr. Strange 2, is what brought the film industry back from the brink of death. Will Dr. Strange add more fuel to the Marvel wild fire? Or will it snuff the flame out and kill the movie industry as a whole? Only time will tell.

We are LIVE tonight( 9/15/21) for a Shang-Chi Review/ What If…? Episode 6 Review

We will be live at 9:05PM Eastern/ 6:05PM Pacific/ 2:05AM in the UK, on The MCU’S Bleeding Edge via Youtube, Twitch, Facebook Live, Trovo, VK Live, and Dailymotion, tonight( Wednesday 9/15/21) doing a review of What If….? Episode 6 along with a full Shang-Chi Review. The squad for this show is comprised of co-hosts Cyberneticshark, Perry Ramsey, and Jeff S( TrueKnowledge) with guest Taylor of the Podcast Of Champions joining us, Jeff will be moderating with Cyber and Perry joining Taylor on the panel. #shangchi, #marvelstudios, #simuliu, #whatifepisode6breakdown, #whatifepisode6review, #thewatcher, #wakanda, #michaelbjordan, #kilmonger, #tonystark, #ironman, #thetenrings, #ironman1, #mcuphase1, #mcuphase4, #marvelcomics