Empire Is Canceled: Why you SHOULDN’T be surprised

As I’m sure fans of Fox’s smash hit series Empire are aware, the record breaking family drama has been cancelled.

Yeah, your heart probably skipped a beat and you’re now probably pissed at Fox for the cancellation, however It turns out that this report is false or at the very least unverified and unofficial. The hoax was seemingly started by a Tumblr post stating that contract negotiations fell through resulting in the show being broomed aside.
Even thoigh the rumor appears to be as false as moon cheese and a holly jolly family man in a red suit, I’m wouldn’t have been surprised if it were true. Maybe that’s just the cynic in me fighting to remain unchanged but I do feel like the show is in a constant state of emergency as long as Fox holds the reigns. Here’s why:

1. Fox is notoriously good and killing shows.

If it appears on Fox, is a well written show and has a solid fan base then certainly it’s future is guaranteed, right? Let’s not forget, this is the same network that cancelled Serenity, Velonica Mars, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Futurama just to name a few. With just that list of shows we see a clear pattern; Fox gets good show, Fox lets show go on for 1-3 seasons, Fox gives fans the middle finger and cancels it. In hindsight we see just how profitable these shows would have been as Serenity got a movie continuation called Firefly that was well recieved, Futurama was picked up again by Comedy Central (who gave it a few more seasons before also cancelling), and Veronica Mars got a theatrical conclusion funded by its jaded fans who wanted more of the short lived show. Fox even cancelled and syndicated it’s animated cash cow Family Guy at one point before realizing how business works and reobtaining it.

2. Fox will drag your favorite show through the mud

Speaking of Family Guy, it’s joined The Simpson’s as shows being artificially extended way past their prime because they are still profitable on name alone. After Fox had unceremoniously canceled the show, they had a change of heart after seeing its success on Adult Swim. Since its gained the show back, Family Guy has undergone a metamorphosis into a barely recognizable shell of its former self. However, no matter how shoddy the writting is, as long as people watch it, Fox will continue to beat this deceased nag. Even series creator Seth MacFarlane told Hollywood Reporter “part of me thinks that Family Guy should have already ended. I think seven seasons is about the right lifespan for a TV series.” The show is currently in its 13th season if we’re keeping count by the way.

3. Renegotiation is an eventuality

Let’s face it, Empire is one of Fox’s hottest new shows in years. The producers, cast, and writers all know this. Its only a matter of time before the renegotiation rumor comes to fruition and more money is asked for those involved in this mega hit. Back in 2004, the cast of The Simpsons attempted to renegotiate their wages per episode with the threat of leaving the show if they weren’t satisfied with the outcome. Now, a voice actor is typically less expensive then a traditional one, So if the cast of The Simpsons were aiming for $360,000 per cast member per episode, how much would an A-List actor like Terrance Howard want for a continued role in one TV’s most successful new shows? Hell, the rest of the cast are all now highly recognizable names and have proven they can act well so if it comes down to it, Fox will have several pipers to pay.

I truly hope that Empire has a strong run and I also hope that there is absolutely no truth to the rumors that have been circulated. However, my paranoia is caused mainly by Fox’s past habits with in demand shows. Would they be foolish enough to throw the baby out with the bath water? If past actions dictate future probabilities then the chance is pretty high.
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My Thoughts: Batman V. Superman Trailer

Hello, dear readers! If you haven’t heard, the first official trailer for Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice dropped yesterday following a leaked version that made its way online. If you haven’t watched it yet, here it is for your enjoyment.
So, let’s talk about that trailer. The tone feels a lot darker than Man of Steel’s first trailer was where it gave a sense of hope and destiny. Here you’re given the idea that Superman isn’t as widely accepted as the end of Man of Steel led you to believe.

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Turns out that leveling half a city and part of a small town can have more than its fair share of backlash. We get snippets of dialouge from other characters who don’t know what to think of a godlike alien challenging humanity’s sense of importance in the galaxy. More interesting still is we get to hear from Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who sees Superman as a threat rather than savior, declaring that devils don’t come from . Honestly, I assumed Eisenberg would develop a more powerful voice for a character like Lex Luthor but as we’ve seen from Wilson Fisk in the Daredevil series on Netflix, there’s more than one way to play a powerful villian.
Moving on, we get the moment that many have been waiting for since the film was announced: Batfleck in action!

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Ok, maybe not “in action” since the trailer shows no fight scenes, but we definetly see Ben Affleck in the Batsuit (which bears more than a striking resemblance to this).

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He looks the part, and more importantly he sounds the part as well. If Batman and Robin showed us anything, it’s that Batman needs a certain amount of intimidation in his voice to work and here It’s on full display with the best line in the trailer, “Tell me…do you bleed?…You will.” The suit itself is different from all other movie versions to date and seems to be the most faithful to the comics. Especially the Bat-Battle Armor that we see at the end, which looks like it was ripped straight from a graphic novel.
All in all, I’m looking forward to this movie. It’s nice to see that DC and Warner Bros. are trying their best to bring a universe together, I just hope that they can follow through and deliver the blockbuster we need and deserve.

TV Review: How To Get Away With Murder season 1

Author’s note: This is a spoiler free review. As such I will not go over major plot points or revelations within this review for those interested in watching the show but haven’t yet.

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Admittedly, I’ve never watched more than two episodes of Scandal. Not that I’m not interested in viewing it but rather because it’s several seasons deep in its story and I hate playing catch up. So when I heard about an equally engrossing political/legal drama with a lead that’s been compared to Scandal’s Olivia Pope I decided to start fresh. What I found was solid acting and tight writing that kept me captivated. Add in a classic whodunit plot and I Know What You Did Last Summer dilemma and you have a pretty great first season that keeps you on the edge of your seats even if all the wrinkles aren’t quite ironed out yet.

Main Plot: The plot of this show revolves around Annalise Keating, a criminal defense lawyer and professor of law, and her hand picked group of students. We follow them through their problems in both their personal and professional lives as they try to defend many seemingly guilty clients each week. The show’s main gimmick is it’s use of flashbacks/flashforwards scattered throughout the show. It foreshadows events, gives red herrings, and adds a shock factor to the show, and reveals things to the audience we would otherwise not be aware of.
The plot of this show is great, especially for a first season where a show is usually finding its footing. The plot twists aren’t obvious, the B-story of the various clients the main cast work for are enjoyable on a Law and Order level, and the flashback and flash forward scenes never feel like they are jarring you away from the main plot. There are some unresolved storylines but I never give a show grief for dangling plot threads outside the main conflict since they will most likely tie those up next season.

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Characters: Viola Davis as Annalise Keating conveys a sort of power and professionalism that makes her a force to be reckoned with. She’s the type of person that will do whatever it takes to win both in and out of the courtroom. We see her struggles with her husband Sam (Tom Verica) who’s keeping more than his fair of secrets. It’s in these scenes that we see a weakness in her character the explains why she’s so tough as nails but the writers never make her into an infallible Terminator of the justice system. She is the shows most developed character at this point. The other members of the cast aren’t given too much to do outside of their character archetype. You have the comic relief Asher (Matt McGorry) who’s lines never made me laugh personally, the posh one Michaela (Ana Naomi King), the aggressive one Connor played by Jack Falahee, the one in the taboo relationship Laurel (Karla Souze), and the secretive one Wes (Alfred Enoch). Wes is definitely given the greatest amount of screen time and more meat to dig into when it comes to his relationship with a major murder suspect named Rebecca (played with quirky charm by Katie Findlay) that ties the whole plot together. The other characters don’t get enough time to really delve into who they are besides surface impressions. Not to say that it’s a Scooby-Doo ensemble but I hope we get more focus on the students next season as they deal with the aftermath. My biggest gripe with this show’s cast goes back to Asher. The show attempts to make him endearing through slightly perverted jokes and daddy issues, but as the series goes on he feels unnecessary to the main plot to the point where he is hardly involved in any of the more interesting drama. This character needs a serious rewrite or needs to be a serious wild card in season 2.

Overall: How to Get Away With Murder had an impressively strong first season and I’m hoping that the next will be even better. Although the secondary characters need more work, the groundwork is at least in place for them to be developed further. All in all if you enjoy a good murder mystery, I’d highly recommend this series. Its plot and main lead will drag you in and not let go until the final episode’s credits run.
Score: 4.5/5

The Donts of Dating part 1: Confidence

Note: Names of people mentioned within this article have been changed

Hello reader, at the time of writing this the weather is brick cold with snow falling from the sky like a dandruff carpet bombing. This is normally the kind of weather where you’d take a day off, order some pizza, and stay in with your girlfriend/significant other. Unfortunately I’m unable to do that today since I have no sick days and I’m not in the mood for pizza…also the lack of a girlfriend pumps the brakes on those plans as well.
I usually get asked one question repeatedly by family and friends, “Denzel, why are you always single?” And for the longest time I had no idea. I’ve been told I’m hilarious, handsome, hard working, and a good conversationalist but I’ve only ever had 2 girlfriends in my 22 years of existence. After all these years of failing in the department of love I made a decision. I’m going to chronicle my dating mishaps so that others avoid this fate in the future. Now, maybe you aren’t as bad off as I am. Maybe you just hit a bit of a wall in your dating life. Maybe you’re  just missing that one ingredient that makes you a chick (or guy) magnet. Note to self: one reason I’m probably single is because I use phrases like “chick magnet.” No matter the reason or circumstances I hope this is helpful. I know you’re wondering “why the hell would I take dating advice from this guy?” And the answer is a resounding you should not. Hell, I wouldn’t even take my own advice. But this isn’t advice, more like a “please for the love of God don’t repeat these mistakes” cheat sheet for those needing help. That being said, let’s get started.

Let’s begin with the biggest deal maker or deal breaker when talking to women: confidence. It’s something you can’t fake and is often the difference maker when making a first impression on anyone, let alone a person you’re trying to date.
Let’s rewind the clock back 10 years, when Yu-Gi-Oh was still the best thing in the world, PS2 was the game system of choice, and Degrassi was still a thing. I was that kid in middle school who was shy beyond all belief, sucked at sports, and was socially awkward to the bone. I also just so happened to have the biggest crush on this girl named Kim. I wanted to ask her out but I couldn’t find the strength to for a long time. One day during lunch, after many months of sitting on the sidelines, I decided enough was enough. I stood up and walked across the lunchroom with about as much swagger as a tank and finally opened my mouth to speak to her. And you know what? I said all the right words and we started dating on the spot. I couldn’t believe it actually, it seemed pretty surreal that I could find the boldness and charm that….ok I’ll stop lying to you now. In reality what happened was I froze on the spot, blushed (which, considering my chocolate complexion, was no easy task), turned around, and took that long walk of shame back to my now laughing lunch table.
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Devasted by my failure, I never tried again with any girl until freshman year in high school. I thought to myself “That was a fluke. This time you’ll get the girl.” I soon proved myself horribly wrong. I repeated the same process with another girl we’ll call Sarah. This girl was beautiful, had a great singing voice, and seemed pretty cool. I actually managed to get the words out to this one but was yet again shot down by my lack of confidence. It wasn’t so much a conversation as it was a group of stuttered words strung together by masking tape. Needless to say, I needed some help in that department.
The key lesson to take away from this mishap of missed opportunities is to radiate confidence. If you’re not impressed with yourself and believe you can get the girl, then why the hell would she pick up the slack and believe for you. If you find that you get nervous a lot, the best way to overcome it is to constantly try until you realize you won’t implode if she says no. Let every rejection build you rather than break you down. A trick I found to get your feet wet in the pool of confidence is to find something you know you’re great at. Whatever that may be, carry the feeling you have when doing that over into your other endeavors. People won’t know what you’re confident about but the main thing they will notice is that you ooze pride in yourself. Nowadays I’m a bit more confident in myself but still have some growing to do. At the very least I’m confident enough to write an article about how bad I am at dating, so that’s a step in the right direction for me.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this topic, I plan to have it posted next week. If you have any suggestions for guys or girls reading this (and me too, I could still use some pointers) leave a comment or share this page.
Thanks for reading!
Continued in part 2

Should Spider-Man be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

This past week Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures came to the mother of all agreements: Spider-Man is now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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A long overdue celebration

At this point this isn’t news to most fans, but now that the excitement has worn off I have one question: is this really such a good thing?
Before you pull out the torches and pitchforks let me make it clear that I’m ECSTATIC about this development and find it awesome that two studios could come together for something like this. However, I don’t believe this is a consequence free deal. So I’m going to go over the pros and cons of this decision and let you be the judge of whether or not this is all its cooked up to be.

Pro: Spider-Man/Avengers crossover
The first and most obvious advantage of this deal is actually two fold. Not only does this move ensure that Spidey films will have a more planned out feel to them (Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel’s film division is notoriously strict about mapping out the universe phase by phase), but we also get to see the Web Head interact with and even eventually join the Avengers. It opens up many opportunities for story telling. Was Peter Parker in NYC when The Avengers took place? Is he currently active or will we join him early in his career? Was he targeted by Hydra in Captain America: The Winter Solider? I can’t wait to see the answers and view how he behaves around Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk.

Con: One of Marvel’s greatest competitors is gone.
This one feels weird to explain to anyone not knowledgeable about the behind the scene stuff for Marvel characters on the big screen. Disney-Marvel does not have the rights to all of its characters. They are actually split across Fox (X-Men, Fantastic Four) and Sony (Spider-Man). This could initially be seen as a disadvantage since Marvel’s most popular characters happen to be Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool and other A-List heroes and villains. Marvel turned this into a positive and instead dug through its less popular characters. Ironman and Thor were hardly known outside of those familiar with the comics and the Gaurdians of the Galaxy aren’t even know that well by those who are knowledgeable. The lack of all-star characters meant they had to dig deep and bring us characters that would never see the light of day if they had all the rights. Take a look at DC, who owns all the rights to their characters. For over 20 years they’ve been pumping out Batman and Superman ad nauseam because they are their biggest names. The other members of the JLA are only getting movies now BECAUSE Marvel took that huge risk with the Avengers and showed that characters that aren’t well known can become rivals to even the biggest names in comics. However since Marvel has eliminated Sony as a threat to their superhero film business this only leaves Fox and DC as competition. The tale of the tape shows that both Fox and DC are still finding their footing in superhero movies in terms of quality (two Fantastic 4 movies, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, Batman and Robin, etc.). Spider-Man being part of the MCU eliminates a need to use as many lesser known heroes. I don’t think that Marvel would abandon a business model that’s been working so well, but the option to exchange a lesser known hero like Moon Knight for a Spider-Man flick is now on the table

Pro: Quality of Spider-Man films can increase.
Spidey in the comics and in the film’s have one thing in common: both have had their lives screwed with by the powers that be. In the comics this usually relates to Peter Parker’s life being flipped upside down by tragedy (or making deals with the Devil…yes that was a thing). In the movies it’s more like Sony decided “screw integrity, #Spideyprintsmoney, son!”

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Meanwhile, at Sony Pictures

From shoehorning Venom into Spider-Man 3 to the obvious sequel bait known as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony treated Spidey as a whipping boy, happy to reboot, add characters to, or take dignity away from their Spider-Man films. Marvel, on the other hand, is quite different with its properties. It draws the characters from their comic book counterparts and hasn’t made a truly terrible film to date. The Spidey they use will not be a incarnation previously viewed on the big screen and will start from scratch in high school, a period that’s been glossed over in previous adaptations. Marvel has proven that the only way they know how to represent a character is the right way and Spidey is long overdue for some TLC from a studio. While Sony still retains creative control, Spidey being a part of the MCU means that he’ll still have to adhere to the basic plan Marvel has cooked up.

Con: Establishing a new Wall-crawler.
Peter gets bitten by a radioactive spider, watches his Uncle Ben die due to his inactivity, and dons a blue and red spandex suit.

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This would be a pretty good retelling

We all know the origin story like the back of our hands and I’m sure no one wants to go through it again. Let’s take Batman as an example of reboot logic. Batman has had 8 live action feature length film’s in the last 50 years and has been rebooted 3 times, with a 4th coming with Batman v. Superman. However, we only had to sit through Batman’s origin story once in Batman Begins whereas other films told that story in flashbacks. In comparison, Spider-Man has been rebooted within a few years of the original Sam Raimi trilogy ending. Most moviegoers know his origin and would rather jump into a new Spidey movie where the hero is pre-established. The problem would be in the execution of this kind of move. Marvel wants to start fresh with a new We head, but how long he’s been Spider-Man,  his existing villains and lack of presence until now would be small but important hurdles to bypass.

All in all, I’m looking forward to this collaboration. I just have some worries considering that this is the first kind of crossover to have such a large scale. If Freddy vs Jason and Alien vs Predator have taught us anything, it’s that adding big names to a movie doesn’t always translate to a hit. We’ll only know the result when Spidey makes his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sound off in the comments with your opinion on the matter and let me know what you think

Fifty Shades of Marketing

First and foremost I should make a bit of a disclaimer. I have never read 50 Shades of Grey nor do I intend to. The same applies for the film adaptation.  My information on this topic is from word of mouth, trailers for the new movie, and Wikipedia.
Got that? Good, let’s move on.
To all my readers, Happy Valentine’s Day (and All Star weekend). I truly hope you all enjoy it. Speaking of Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about one of the worst reviewed films this weekend: 50 Shades of Grey. This isn’t a review of the film as I refuse to spend money on a sub par porno thinly disguised as a motion picture in order to offer my critical analysis on what can be best described as fan fiction. Instead I want to talk about this film’s marketing practices as they are, in my opinion, the most deceitful I’ve seen in a long time. What do I mean by this? Well this boils down to 2 things: the tone of the trailers and celebrity endorsement.

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Might as well drag your date to this movie instead

Let’s begin with the trailer (which you can watch here).
The trailer attempts to do two things: the first is make you intrigued by the romance fuled plot. The second is it tries to
entice you with the prospect that this will be a steamy, sex filled ride. So what’s the issue with this? For starters, all reviews that I’ve read or watched for this film have stated that the movie isn’t as kinky as your led to believe nor is the plot anything more complicated than what you’d find on a erotica shelf at a grocery store. The trailer was crafted with the intent to sell a weak plot by using quick edits and highlighting the bizzare relationship of the lead characters to synthesize intrigue. And to the trailer’s credit, it worked. My sister is one of the most intelligent people I know and has never read the book associated with this movie. We both saw the trailer during this year’s Super Bowl, during which I stated that this movie will most likely be terrible. My sister then responded “well the trailer makes it seem like there’s more to this movie. Maybe you just don’t understand it.” This piqued my interest so I researched the book and plot. Turns out that this novel initially started out as Twilight fan fiction. Just to be clear I’ll reiterate; A trailer made me, a thorough bred Twilight hater, curious enough to research somebody’s Twilight BDSM fan fiction. This is bait and switch at its finest and it seeks to con you out of your hard earned money this weekend.
My second point is even more sinister than the trailer’s con artist tactics. Listen closely to the background music. Notice anything? A remixed version of an old Beyonce song called Crazy in Love is playing in the background. This may seem simple, but it speaks volumes.

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This prints its own money

Let’s look back at what passes for the plot of this film. A Caucasian woman is made submissive to a Caucasian male thus creating a romance more forced than anything George Lucus could write in the prequels. Now race in movies is typically a non factor as I believe, if interest is high enough, anyone will watch anything. However, the marketing team behind this film seemed to have little faith that anyone of color would buy into the hype based off of the visuals alone. So what were their options? Turn one of the leads black? The source material and its fans wouldn’t allow that. Cast a popular black actor or actress to put butts in seats? I don’t even think Samuel L Jackson, who was in the abysmal movie The Spirit, would spit on this script. I’m sure at this point they realized a few things. The main audience of this movie is female and Beyonce is like a musical Oprah Winfrey to black women. In order to secure ticket sales from those of black and Spanish decent, somebody slipped Beyonce a mickey and convinced her to put her name and work on this film’s advertisement as an exclusive track. This secures them at least two seat per woman enticed by the trailer this weekend because most viewers will go with their significant others for Valentine’s Day. I’d like to assume that even if the film makers drugged Beyonce, she still retained enough sense of self to not produce any actual new work for the film, opting instead to hand over scraps that are over 5 years old at the time of the movie’s release.
Marketing of all kinds are designed with the goal of selling you something. The advertising for 50 Shades of Grey feels more like it’s trying it’s best to make a block of cheese look like a brick of gold. There are movies that I’ve had no interest in after watching a trailer, mainly because the trailer was honest about what the movie was and left the choice to view it up to me. This doesn’t feel like an advertisement.  It feels like manipulation at its worst. Like it was designed to reach as many people as it could, entice them with shady tactics, and get their money out of their wallets on opening night.
In conclusion, dear reader, I urge you not to see this film. Not only is it a poorly made mess of a movie but it also used blatantly underhanded methods to dupe you into viewing it. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be the one to drag your significant other to this movie.