Thursday, December 20, 2018

Aquaman: Jason Momoa vs Vince Chase

We’re less than a day away from the release of Aquaman and I am cautiously optimistic.  The trailer looks fun, Jason Momoa is pretty cool and I like superhero movies in general.  There’s a chance this movie could be a dud, especially given the DC Extended Universe’s spotty record, but at the very least I’m sure it will be a good time at the movies.  But this got me thinking: is this the best version of Aquaman we could get?  I’m not sure.  But another version, albeit a fictional one, that could possibly be better than the one we are getting in real life is the Aquaman starring Vincent Chase from Entourage.  Now if you’ve never seen Entourage, the HBO show was about a Hollywood actor in his late 20s and early 30s who lives with his best friends.  (When I was 16 that sounded like the coolest thing ever.  Now that I’m in my mid 20s, it actually sounds like a nightmare.)  Season 2 of Entourage is more or less about Vince trying to get the lead role in Aquaman and coincidentally season 2 is easily the best season of Entourage.  In the show Aquaman becomes this huge success of a movie that turns the young actor from an up-and-comer into a bona fide movie star.  So which Aquaman is better? For other superhero films this is a much easier debate to have because multiple versions of these flicks do exist due to reboots.  This is a hypothetical match because one of these movies hasn’t come out yet and the other one never did.  Still, it gave me an excuse to re-watch season 2 of Entourage while also shooting up Jason Momoa press junket interviews like a junkie.  And it’s all to answer one hypothetical question: if both Aquaman movies existed, and I could only watch one, which one would I pay $14 to see?

Vincent Chase vs. Jason Momoa

This is where this debate has to start, because the star can make or break the film.  With the right actor a bad movie can become passable, and a good movie could be great.  So who is the bigger (hypothetical) star, and, just as important, who is the better fit as Arthur Curry.
We know Momoa from his one season on Game of Thrones and he has already played Aquaman in Justice League.  He’s also got a lesser known action flick called Braven that also came out this year. So he’s a well known actor, though not quite a movie star.  But he has all the makings of one and if this movie does really well maybe he jumps up to that tier.  He’s a pretty buff guy and looks like the hero type.  And he’s charismatic on screen whether he’s playing a vicious Dothraki or an aquatic based superhero.  His interviews are also really fun.  Celebrity persona matters and while we’ve only had Momoa in the public sphere for a short while, he’s definitely developed a reputation as a fun and zany dude. More importantly, Momoa has actually proven he’s a good Aquaman.  He was one of the few bright spots in Justice League and turned a character I previously thought to be lame into a badass.

The thing that’s kept me up at night is trying to figure out how big of a movie star Vincent Chase is, particularly leading up to the release of Aquaman.  If you ask Turtle then Vince is a superstar, but I don’t think that’s actually the case.  Here’s what we know about Vince up to this point in the series:  Vince is a young actor in his mid 20’s who has bankable good looks but might not be a very good actor.  Before Vince does Aquaman he’s really only in two movies.  There’s Head On, his breakout role where he co-stars next to Jessica Alba, and there’s Queens Blvd, an indie film that wins the Grand Jury prize at Sundance.  So he’s really not a movie star at this point in his career.  In fact, it’s pointed out by his agent, Ari Gold that his star has cooled off since the premier of Head On, especially because he turned down a popcorn action flick (Matterhorn) to do Queens Blvd.  And yet, Warner Brothers still offers him $5 million to do Aquaman. 

I was trying to figure out real life actor is the best real life comparison to Vince Chase and obvious answer is Mark Wahlberg.  Entourage is basically about Mark Wahlberg and his career.  But I need someone more current.  I need a contemporary actor who is not very good at the whole acting part, but is good looking enough to keep getting offered roles in big movies.  Sam Worthington came to mind.  Terminator: Salvation is Sam Worthington’s breakout film and Avatar is his version of Aquaman.  It’s kind of perfect because Avatar is directed by James Cameron who just so happens to fake-direct Aquaman. (More on that later.)  But I could do better, and now I’ve settled on Alden Ehrenreich, right before he did Solo: A Star Wars Story.  Both Alden and Vince broke out in their mid 20s, Alden with Hail, Caesar! and Vince with Head On.  Both have questions surrounding their acting abilities.  And both were cast for these huge blockbuster type films.  This whole long tangent is just to get to a place where I can ask myself, would I rather see Aquaman starring Alden Ehrenreich or Jason Momoa?  The answer is clearly Momoa.

James Cameron vs. James Wan

The answer here seems pretty obvious, and it is, but let’s just dive a little deeper.  James Wan is a proven Hollywood director who is more than capable of overseeing a superhero movie.  Most people probably know Wan for directing popular horror movies like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring, as well as masterminding the extended Conjuring universe.  Commercially these movies did really well.  He’s also taken a crack at directing an established action franchise, directing Furious 7. (That’s the one where they jump from one skyscraper to another in a car.)  I have my thoughts on the Fast franchise, mainly that it stopped being good when everyone became un-killable superheroes that worked with the government.  But it’s undeniable that Furious 7 was a fun, dumb movie that people really enjoyed and it made a ton of money.  It also served as a proper sendoff for the late Paul Walker.  I trust Wan directing Aquaman.

But if James freakin’ Cameron is on the table it’s a no brainer.  Fake Aquaman is released in 2006 so at this point in Cameron’s career he had directed the first two Terminator movies, he directed the sequel to Alien, and the last movie he’d made was Titanic in 1997.  In 2006 Titanic is still the highest grossing movie of all time.  Cameron is still 3 years away from directing Avatar, which replaced Titanic as the highest grossing film.  So we’re getting a very relevant Cameron in 2006 and he’s bigger name than Wan is in 2018.  Cameron is also very adept at using the CGI of the time, and no matter what the plot of the movie is, or whoever is starring in it, I’m certain that fake Aquaman would be the coolest looking aquatic based movie.  In the battle of directors, 2006 James Cameron has the edge.  (2018 James Cameron might be more debatable.)

Supporting Cast

This section is neck and neck.  Fake Aquaman stars Mandy Moore as Aquagirl, a character I am assuming is both a super powered sidekick and love interest for Vince’s character.  Mandy has always been a pretty likable actress, though I wouldn’t call her a movie star by any means in 2006. At that point in her career she was really only known for being in rom-coms or in date night movies like A Walk to Remember.  So seeing “Mandy Moore” on a poster for Aquaman maybe wouldn’t have drawn a lot of eyes to the movie.  James Woods plays the bad guy in fake Aquaman and that’s actually kind of perfect.  He already looks and sounds like a bad guy.  What really gets me excited is the fake casting of Arthur Curry’s parents: Ray Liotta and Sharon Stone! I know footage of this movie doesn’t exist, but I would pay the price of admission to see Ray Liotta and Sharon Stone raise a young Aquaman. 

Real Aquaman also has a really strong cast.  Amber Heard co-stars, though the average movie-goer might not know who she is.  I vaguely remember her in Pineapple Express as Seth Rogan’s character’s high school-aged girlfriend and in Never Back Down as the love interest.  Arthur Curry’s mom is played by the ageless Nicole Kidman and if you wanted A-List, you got A-List with Kidman.  Willem Defoe is also is this film, and by the looks of this trailer he seems to be a mentor of sorts to Aquaman.  And Defoe has experience being in a big time superhero movie too.  Don’t forget, he played Green Goblin in Spider-Man and helped make Spider-Man the highest grossing movie of 2002.  But no good superhero movie is complete without a good villain and real Aquaman has two.  First there’s Manta played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.  If you don’t know that name, don’t be ashamed.  He’s somewhat of a newcomer in Hollywood.  If you saw The Greatest Showman he played Zandaya’s brother, and he was also in Baywatch.  You might have also seen him in The Get Down, which is on Netflix and he will be in an HBO Watchmen series.  Speaking of Watchmen, the other bad guy, King Orm, is played by Patrick Wilson.  Wilson is probably at his best when he’s in horror movies like Insidious or The Conjuring (both directed by Wan).  But he has experience being in a comic book movie (Watchmen) and he’s played a bad guy before (The Commuter).  So I’m in on this cast.

Both Aquaman movies have had their share of troubles surrounding their production.  The big thing with fake Aquaman was the on-set romance between co-stars Vince Chase and Mandy Moore.  On Entourage we are told that Moore and Chase shared a fling while on the set of A Walk to Remember.  That love affair ended disastrously when Vince proposed to Mandy and she turned him down.  They rekindled their relationship on the set of Aquaman but that relationship also flamed out and Vince considered dropping out of the movie all together.  Real Aquaman doesn’t have any on set troubles that fake Aquaman had, but if you are considering real Aquaman based on its place within the DC Extended Cinematic Universe then this Aquaman is under a lot of pressure.  The DCEU has been mostly a mess with a few bright spots here and there.  Its best movie so far is Wonder Woman and that’s probably because it’s the only movie that knows what it is.  It’s also not trying to be gritty and dark the way Zack Snyder envisioned the DCEU.  I’m not saying that the DCEU absolutely needs a hit, but I don’t think Warner Brothers would be very pleased if Aquaman *clears throat* sinks at the box office.  So the pressure is there, especially because it needs to keep up with all of the superhero movies that are available to the public.  Just this year the MCU delivered three movies, 20th Century Fox dropped Deadpool 2, and Sony released Venom.  Back in ’06 the only superhero movies released were Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand.  So there’s a lot more pressure on real Aquaman to succeed.  Still, there is no rumored on set romances between Jason Momoa and a cast member that can potentially derail the movie, so that’s a plus.

Movie Success

So far Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has had a mostly positive response from the critics.  Rotten Tomatoes currently has Aquaman sitting at the solid fresh rating of 70%.  Not shabby, but not spectacular either.  It’s hard to tell what the opening weekend box office will look like here in America, but Aquaman is killing it overseas.  After two weekends Aquaman has a total global box office haul of $260 million.  Here’s what we know about Vincent Chase’s Aquaman.  Prior to fake Aquaman’s release, Spider-man had the record for largest opening weekend with $112 million. Fake Aquaman breaks that record and earns $116 million its first weekend.  If you factor in inflation, that would be about $224 million this year.  For reference, this year Avengers: Infinity War brought in $257 million on opening weekend. So fake Aquaman was a fake smash hit.  It was good enough to have a roller coaster built after it, and it was enough to get green lit for a sequel, although Vince dropped out of the sequel.  (Aquaman 2 fake-starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was fake-directed by Michael Bay.)


Honestly, I’d pay money to see both.  They both have a lot going for them.  But if I had to choose one I’d have to go with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.  At the end of the day it came down to the guy in the suit and between I-am-Queens-Blvd himself and the former Khal, I gotta go with my boy Jason.  So yes; permission to come aboard, Aquaman.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Creed II Is a Crowd Pleaser

By now everyone should have seen Creed II and so I won't feel bad if I drop a few minor spoilers in this post.  As you should know Creed II is the sequel to Creed, which is a spin-off of the Rocky franchise.  Which is to say there's a lot of history behind this movie.  And there is a lot to live up to.  Obviously, Creed II is a boxing movie but it's also a movie about fathers and the legacies they leave behind.  Three of the main characters have to face this theme at some point in the movie.  Adonis, who is the son of boxing legend Apollo Creed, has to face off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.  Ivan killed Apollo in an exhibition match in Rocky IV.  Adonis has to confront some of his demons on the road to this match, some of which are related to the demons he faced in the first film, but ultimately different and a little more fleshed out. 

While in Creed Adonis is struggling with finding his own identity while also honoring his father's legacy, in Creed II he is facing his fears about suffering the same fate as his father and history repeating itself.  He is filled with the pain of abandonment and loss, but Adonis also has a newborn and doesn't want his daughter to go through the same thing he did growing up without his father.  Meanwhile Rocky is living with consequence of having an estranged relationship with his son.  A huge portion of the film is him trying to build the courage up to reach out to him.  On top of that Rocky still feels responsible for the death of Apollo Creed, something he has to live with.  The pains that Adonis, who has become a surrogate son to him, goes through is the legacy of his past failure.

 The opposition faces this theme too.  After Ivan's defeat at the hands of Rocky, the elder Drago is ostracized from the Soviet elite, he loses his wife, and he loses the respect of his country.  (You can argue his loss single-handedly dismantled the Soviet Union.)  Decades later Viktor has to correct the failures of his father, and win back the respect of his home country and the oligarchy that his dad desperately wants to impress.  But Viktor clearly only wants to be enough for his father.  There are other themes explored in this movie but the fatherhood theme was the most fleshed out and the best executed one.

Creed II is amazing for a lot of reasons, one of which are these moments in the film where we take a break from the action and dive deep into this themes.  I think that's why Creed and Creed II work, because as good as the fighting scenes are, the character-driven portions of the film carry their weight as well. In order for these films to work as well as they do, they need characters we care about and they need these characters to go through some shit.  But at the end of the day Creed II is still a boxing boxing movie and the boxing scenes need to be good.  And let me tell you, the boxing scenes fucking slap.  Director Steven Caple Jr. is no Ryan Coogler, but he knew what he was doing putting together these boxing scenes.

What I'll remember the most about Creed II besides the acting, the themes, and punches, is the way I felt sitting in that theater and the way the crowd reacted.  During the boxing matches people were cheering and hollering from their seats, as if they were at an actual fight.  I got in on it too, groaning loudly when Creed got hit hard and pumping my fist when he got a good shot in.  I may have even high-fived someone.  The non-boxing scenes evoked some crowd participation.  Especially any time that Rocky spoke to Adonis. I heard some guy behind me say some variation of "You tell em' Rocky" a few times.  It was one the best in-theater experience I had all year, when you take into account movie quality and crowd participation.

That perfect mix doesn't happen very often, but when it does you leave the theater with a huge smile on your face.  Obviously the movie has to be good or enjoyable.  (A movie can be bad and still enjoyable.)  You can more or less predict whether a movie is going to be good before you watch the movie.  You could always tell that Creed II was going to be enjoyable.  The crowd is the real wild card in this scenario.  You can have a dead crowd that reacts to a comedy the way an disappointed parent reacts to their child deciding to major in art.  That sucks.  But the crowd can go the other way.  and be too loud and too distracting.  That might be even worse.  Just this year I went to a theater where some teenage kids brought in a portable speaker to play their music and then argued with anyone who looked at them funny.  But sometimes the stars align just right and you went up with a lively audience who is also respectful of the fact that other people are there to see the movie too.  This is the Goldilocks audience and we found it on the day Creed II was released.  The audience was ready, the matinee showing was full, and the crowd was mixed with a diverse group of people, ranging various ages and ethnic groups.  And there were hardly any kids! 

As the year winds down I can't help but reflect on this past cinematic year.  A lot of memorable movies came out.  And I saw a hell of a lot thanks to MoviePass (RIP).  I thought it was only right to pay tribute to some more films that really got the people going.  Not the best movies, just the best in-theater experiences.  Below are some of the biggest crowd pleasers of 2018.

The Meg
Picture this: a giant prehistoric shark reigns terror somewhere in the South China Sea and Jason Statham has to save the day.  Of course the crowd was going to show up for that one.  Did I have high expectations for the film?  Absolutely not!  But I had MoviePass and I was in the mood for some dumb fun with my girl.  And guess what?  The Meg delivered.  And judging by the gasps and laughs of my theater audience, I think about 400 people agreed with me.  If my memory serves me correct, there may have been a standing O.

Mission Impossible: Fallout
I technically saw this movie twice and so I'm choosing the first screening because the audience was all in.  (My personal viewing of the movie was better the second time because I was prepared for Henry Cavill's arm reload.)  The audience wanted a vintage Mission:Impossible and they rewarded the movie with praise when it turned out to be the best one of the series.  My favorite part of the movie, other than the aforementioned Cavill arm reload, was the bike chase in Paris.  But the helicopter set piece took a hold of the crowd and wouldn't let go.  I heard a collective sigh of relief  when Tom Cruise *spoiler alert* finally saved the day.

So I think I actually hated this movie.  I didn't find it scary.  It was, however, one of the most disturbing movies I had seen in a while.  Maybe disturbing is your definition of scary, but it ain't mine.  Nevertheless, I can't deny the the facts, and the facts are this movie really did a number on the audience. Groans and screams filled the airwaves and a particular scene in the movie (you know which one) made one queasy audience member want to walk out of the theater.  Fine, that audience member was me.  The aftermath of the movie was something else.  I probably heard the phrase "That movie really fucked me up" at least a half dozen times.  And they weren't lying.  I think that movie really fucked me up.

Black Panther
This is the obvious choice.  The perfect combination of movie and audience.  I saw Black Panther about three times I think and they all had great audiences.  But the screening I saw at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland had a distinct feel to it.  Of course, it's a Marvel movie and the theater had definitely had a lot of comic book fans who were fawning over all the Easter eggs.  The crowd nearly erupted when the movie opened with a scene of kids playing basketball in Oakland.  And I'm not sure you can really capture the full scope of the impact that Black Panther had on culture this year without mentioning what the film meant to people of color, and in particular, the black community.  That wasn't lost on me that night. The energy in that theater was different than any I've felt while watching a movie.  It felt bigger.  The cherry on top was that Black Panther was really good, and Ryan Coogler, an Oakland native, put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Most Interesting Voice in Hollywood

An actor has a lot of tools in his box that he or she can play around with.  For starters there's the face which can be used as a canvas to express emotion through subtle gestures or be stretched like Play-Doh like Jim Carrey would.  Many have said that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  Many actors are masters at using them to tell the audience everything they need to know without ever uttering a word.  Actors can use their hands, entire bodies or even props to pull off a scene in a movie.  But to me the most interesting device an actor keeps in the utility belt is their voice.  You might think that's a boring answer.  It is the most straightforward for the aforementioned tools.  (Someone telling me they are sad requires a lot less guess work for me than someone staring off into the distance with glazed eyes.)  But not all actors use it the same way.

As you can imagine, some actors find really creative ways to use their vocal chords and do interesting things with the character they are portraying.  Sometimes the wrinkles added in an actor's voice rounds out the character, and sometimes it can be distracting.  Sometimes it's really cool and sometimes it's weird as fuck.  But it's almost always interesting and that's actually important.  Take Young Thug, for example.  As a performing artist he is dynamic and odd and a million other things.  But for me, what really makes him stand out is how he uses his voice in such unique ways to make strange sounds and yelps and turn his vocal chords into an entire new instrument.  I like this shit with actors too.  But not all actors do this.  If we're excluding using regional accents then most actors speak in their regular voice.  Think of an actor.  Any actor.  Did you think of Tom Hanks?  Well if you didn't, tough shit.  I did.  Excluding the roles where he has to pick up an accent (like Forrest Gump) he doesn't do much with his voice.  It's always the same Tom Hanks voice, which is fine.  I think his voice is cool, he just doesn't play with it that much.

Ryan Gosling dabbled in using a weird voice.  Do you remember the 2013 smash hit Gangster Squad?  It's fine if you don't.  Most people don't.  I wouldn't be surprised if Gosling didn't.  But I remember, because I actually paid money at an AMC to watch it in theaters.  Basically it was kind of like The Untouchables in which a group of lawmen, led by Josh Brolin, in 1920's(?) Los Angeles try to catch this mob boss played by Sean Penn. And they don't play by the rules.  (For such a forgettable movie it had a really good cast.)  The reason I can't forget the movie has nothing to do with any of the action scenes or femme fatale scenes or anything that might have happened in this movie.  I don't remember anything at all, except for Gosling's voice.  My God, what a voice! It was so weird!  It was at least a whole octave higher than his normal speaking voice and at a quarter of the volume.  I never understood why Gosling used that voice for that role.  Nobody else in that movie did.  Nobody!  I don't even think it was a historical thing.  I just think Gosling decided he would do something different and he just went for it.  It didn't work, but I was mesmerized.  I thought this was a start of something new for Gosling: a series of roles where he would play characters with super distinct voices.  Alas, that never came to be.  Ryan uses his regular ass voice in every movie.  It was disappointing for sure.

But out of the ashes of my despair, an unlikely champion arose whose career (and more importantly, voice) I've been tracking for years. I'm talking of course about Tom Hardy, who has given us so many incredible voices to listen to over his illustrious career.  The most recent example is his performance in Venom where he plays Eddie Brock as well as the symbiote Venom.  Ignore the Rotten Tomatoes score for a second and hear me when I say that Venom was one of the most enjoyable movie watching experiences I've had all year.  And you can bet Tom Hardy's voice performance had a whole lot to do with that.  I'm going to get into that performance in greater detail later on, but before I do I just want to take a few moments to just appreciate all the gifts he's given us over the years through his movies.  Because Hardy is no one-trick pony.  In baseball there's a term thrown around sometimes for the ideal player who can do everything right on the field.  If there's a player who can bat for average and power, can run bases, throw the ball and field it as well you got yourself a five-tool player.  If there was an equivalent of a five-tool player, but for actors who use their voice as the ball, bat and glove then Tom Hardy would be that.

Normal Voice
Every actor who is going to make it in Hollywood has to have a solid normal voice.  It has to be a voice you can stand to listen to for up to two hours at a time.  (The lone exception here is probably Seth Rogen.) Tom Hardy has an amazing normal speaking voice.  Have you ever heard him speak in an interview? It's heavenly! To start he's British, so he's naturally got a British accent.  But not an annoying one like Hugh Grant's.  It's powerful, yet it comes off easy going and suave.  It's a voice you respect and and look up to, but will down a few brews with you.  The best example of Hardy using his normal voice in a movie is in Inception.  Hardy runs his voice through the gauntlet and quite possibly elevates the whole movie because of it.  When he's expounding we don't mind because we get to hear Eames speak.  His American voice is still solid.  If you listen to him in something like Warrior you don't think much of his voice.  It's not distracting and you don't even think of it as being an accent.  (I've always been amazed at how British actors pull off American accents.)

Period Piece Voice
I imagine actors get particularly excited when they get to do a period piece.  They get to wear cool costumes, walk on these amazing sets and most of all they get to try out these weird voices that are unique to the period in which their movie is set.  (I liken the feeling to how I feel when I get to wear jeans to work on Friday.)  That's got to be the only reason Gosling signed up for Gangster Squad, right?  Hardy has also dabbled in some period piece movies, and thus tested out some voices from an old era.  The most prominent example I can think of is in  The Revenant.  In The Revenant, Hardy plays Fitzgerald, an American fur trader from the 1820's who kills Leo DiCaprio's son and then leaves Leo for dead.  You could tell from his voice that Fitzgerald is a frontiersman.  I've never met a frontiersman so I actually have no way of telling if that's actually what they sound like.  Leo sounds like Leo.  But not Tom; no, Tom changes the pitch of his voice and brings it down a notch, he slows the tempo, and the accent pulls everything together.  The voice he uses actually makes his character sound more menacing when he's pulling off some of the darker scenes in the movie.  Leo won an Oscar for his role in The Revenant and it was well deserved.  Tom Hardy was also nominated for his role as a supporting actor but he lost to Mark Rylance from Bridge of Spies.  That was ridiculous, mostly because Sly Stallone should have won for Creed but also because Tom Hardy's voice had put together one of the best performances of the year and Tom Hardy was good too.

Off Kilter Voice
One of my favorite things an actor can do to his voice is to make it sound familiar, yet completely off.  And the best actors can do that without making it just a distracting voice.  They make it as much as part of the character as its personality or personal history.  The voice itself has its own idiosyncrasies.  One of my favorite Tom Hardy performances is a fantastic example of it.  In The Drop Hardy plays Bob who is a bartender at a watering hole where the local gangsters sometimes make drops of cash.  It's this whole elaborate scheme where the gangsters have different drop points that rotate. James Gandolfini plays Marv, Bob's cousin, who tries to orchestrate the robbery of a drop off.  The plot isn't important to this post, really, but it's a good movie and it was Gondolfini's last before he passed.  (Gandolfini and Hardy were so fucking good in this movie.)  What is important is Tom Hardy's character and what his voice tells us about him.  There is something seriously off about Bob and you can't put your finger on it.  There's something in the way he speaks, the way his words slightly slur and quiver, the way he broods that tells you this guy has done something irredeemable in his past.  But the whole movie, as he's trying to court Nadia and as he's taking care of the injured pit-bull you put your guard down.  Because even though you know that this guy is bad news, he's really got a good heart.  At least that's the way I saw it.

Masked Voice
Who doesn't like masks?  Tom Hardy loves them.  In fact, the only thing he likes more than playing with his voice is wearing a mask.  Probably because the mask helps distort his voice. (The Ringer wrote an amazing piece about Tom Hardy's propensity for covering his face in films.)  Wearing a mask is the most practical reason for an actor not sounding like himself.  Three films come to mind.  Most recently is Dunkirk where Hardy plays a pilot so his voice is distorted through the jet's radio.  Child's play for Tom.  He also kind of wears a mask in Mad Max: Fury Road.  It's more of a muzzle, really.  I don't think the muzzle actually affects his voice, but Max grunts a lot.  I don't think all those grunts were in the script.  It's definitely an acting choice.  But when Max finally speaks we get to hear his glorious deep voice that would have been Hardy's best masked voice performance if not for the the obvious choice. 

What I'm most interested in here is Hardy's turn as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.  That voice has been mimicked, parodied, and imitated as much as any in the last decade or so.  Is it a weird voice? Kind of.  Is it necessary to the character? Not really.  But it's so iconic in its oddness.  First, the mask filters the voice and we're left with this contorted sound.  But Hardy doesn't stop there.  There's this really unfamiliar accent he's using.  To me, it always sounded like Sean Connery talking through a walkie-talkie, but in immense pain.  I think Hardy's voice here is a bit of a Rorschach; you hear whatever you want to hear.  Apparently Tom was actually going for a few things here: on the Blu-Ray special features for The Dark Knight Rises Hardy talks about his process in getting Bane's voice down and there are two main inspirations.  One is a boxer named Bartley Gorman.  "He's the king of the gypsies, and he's a boxer, a bare-knuckle boxer, an Irish traveler, a gypsy," says Hardy.  The second voice is actor Richard Burton.  "Bane is someone who's in tremendous pain all the time.  So he had an older voice.  Which is sort of Richard Burton, I suppose, you know.  Slightly florid, camp English villain... in many ways, but just off-center." I guess.  I actually had no idea what Gorman and Burton sounded like before this post, but after some research I can hear.  Hardy also claims he was going for a little bit of a Latin sounding accent because of Bane's origins.  Didn't catch that, but who am I to argue with an actor with such prestige.

Going For It Voice
The best thing I can say about Hardy's voice in Venom is that I don't really know what he's going for, but he's really getting after it.  There's no rhyme or reason for why Hardy chooses to speak in such a peculiar way.  It's quite spectacular.  If you haven't seen Venom yet, understand this: Hardy went balls to the walls as Eddie Brock.  While most actors would have phoned in their performance and walked out with the paycheck, Tom commits to the role with the same ferocity that DiCaprio committed to his role in The Revenant.  It's a really physical performance where Hardy eats frozen tater-tots, sweats profusely and jumps inside of a lobster tank.  Again, it's quite spectacular.  The sheer amount of physical effort exerted in this role is clear and it almost makes you forget that Eddie Brock sounds like no human I've ever heard in my life.  Forget the fact that Hardy is also voicing the titular Venom like a monster with strep throat.  I understand the choice there.  (According to Hardy he was going for a mix of Redman, Busta Rhymes and James Brown... okay.)  But nothing makes sense about Eddie's voice.  It sounds like what someone who has never heard a New Yorker speak thinks a New York accent sounds like.  It's almost as if he was going for the same voice he did in The Drop but just forgot how to do it. And instead of the voice adding depth to the character it just made me wonder if Hardy gets paid extra for every movie he uses a silly voice in.  The voice made no sense in the context of the film.  And that's what made his performance in Venom great.  It was quite spectacular, actually.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Cinematic Universe Battle Royale

If you go to the movies as often as I do you might notice something that's happening now that may not have been as prominent back in the day.  Cinematic Universes aren't a new thing, but lately we've had more than a handful to dive into.  There have been shared universes and movie crossovers since the time my grandma was a child.  Universal Studios did it with some of its movie monsters; the Wolfman met Frankenstein's monster in a movie aptly titled Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.  Ridley Scott's xenomorph fought a predator in the disastrous movies Alien vs. Predator.  Freddy vs. Jason was exactly the crossover film your thinking of.  Even the Rugrats got in on the action when they bumped into Eliza Thornberry in Rugrats Go Wild.  So crossovers aren't uncommon in movies and television (or And1 mixtapes).  But movie studios have been getting bolder, creating universes with so many moving parts and histories that affect so many plot lines.  The most notable of which is obviously the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  But now there are more than a handful of cinematic universes and some of them are worth dipping your toes in.  Now some people might be turned off by the idea of a cinematic idea because they don't like how franchises with existing IP hold dominance in movies or maybe they find the task of keeping up with several films to be ready for a film down the line is daunting.  I get that.  But I for one welcome cinematic universes, even the ones that appear doomed to fail.  (Looking at you Dark Universe)

My mission today is to take some of the prominent and/or rising universes and figure out which one is the best or most worthwhile to get into.  First thing's first, we have to define what a cinematic universe is.  My definition here is a series of interconnected story lines in film that share a central plane of existence.  Let's break that down.  First, these are multiple story lines that are connected, so long-running franchises like the Fast & Furious aren't included because there's only one story line.  Having one spin-off movie like Tokyo Drift isn't enough for me to say there's a Fast universe.  Star Wars gets kind of tricky for me because on the one hand, Phantom Menace to The Last Jedi (and beyond) should be considered one franchise.  It's the same story being told all the way through.  But with the inclusion of Rogue One and several other off-shoot movies tied to Star Wars, it's enough for me to deem it a cinematic universe.  The second part in the definition is that it has to be in film.  So right off the bat I'm not going to be talking about Marvel's shows on ABC or Netflix or about any of DC's shows on the CW.  And the last part of the definition is that these movies have to be tied in together by something concrete.  I don't want to have to speculate whether a movie is   They don't necessarily have to meet in a crossover movie, but it helps.

Now that we got that out of the way it's time to look at some current cinematic universes and see who is doing it best.  We'll be going through some criteria and awarding points based on it.  Some of the criteria is objective with some heavy research involved; some is subjective because I know what I'm talking about.  The contending CU's are:

Marvel Cinematic Universe: movies based on the Marvel Comics owned by Disney starting with Iron Man.  It includes the characters featured in the Avengers such as Captain America, Hulk and Thor, as well as characters such as Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.

DC Extended Universe: movies based on the DC Comics starting with the Superman reboot movie, Man of Steel.  Includes Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Suicide Squad.

X-Men Universe: movies based on X-Men characters owned by 20th Century Fox.  Includes all the X-Men movies, Wolverine movies and Deadpool.

Dark Universe: movies based on the original Universal Studios movie monsters starting with Tom Cruise's The Mummy.  Will also include characters like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as the Wolf Man.

Star Wars Saga: movies set in George Lucas' universe starting from A New Hope and including spin-off movies such as Rogue One and the yet-to-be released Han Solo movie.

Alien Universe: movies set in Ridley Scott's universe starting from Alien and including its sequels, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.  Does not include the Alien vs. Predator films.

Kaiju-verse: movies based on the Kaiju monsters currently being developed by Legendary Entertainment.  Includes Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island and is connected by the fictional government agency Monarch.  Is set to include a Godzilla vs. Kong film.

Conjuring Universe: movies based on the universe created by James Wan that includes both Conjuring movies, both Annabelle movies, and an upcoming Nun movie.

Wizarding World: movies based on the books written by Rowling including the Harry Potter franchise and its spin-offs like Fantastic Beasts.

So now that you know who is contending, let's find out who has the best CU.  I will be going over several criteria and awarding points based on it.  9 is the highest a universe can attain per category.  At the end I will add the scores up.  The highest score is the best cinematic universe.

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score
This category is pretty simple if you know rudimentary math and are patient enough to sort through dozens of movie review pages.  Though using Rotten Tomatoes isn't an exact to determine whether a movie is good or not, it does give an idea of how well it was received by critics.  In a surprise upset, the J.K.-verse led this category due to a consistent effort from Sorcerer's Stone to Fantastic Beasts.  Some universes like MCU, Star Wars, and Alien had films with higher scores but ultimately payed for having sub-par movies in their catalog.

Wizarding World: 
Avg. RT Score: 83.3   Highest Rated Film: Deathly Hollows Part 2   Score: 9

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Avg. RT Score: 82.3   Highest Rated Film: Iron Man   Score: 8

Star Wars Saga:
Avg. RT Score: 80.5   Highest Rated Film: The Empire Strikes Back   Score: 7

Avg. RT Score: 75      Highest Rated Film: King Kong: Skull Island   Score: 6   

X-Men Universe: 
Avg. RT Score: 73.4   Highest Rated Film: Logan   Score: 5

Alien Universe: 
Avg. RT Score: 72.8   Highest Rated Film: Aliens    Score: 4

Conjuring Universe:
Avg. RT Score: 65.5   Highest Rated Film: The Conjuring    Score: 3

DC Extended Universe:
Avg. RT Score: 49.8   Highest Rated Film: Wonder Woman   Score: 2

Dark Universe:
Avg. RT Score: 16      Highest Rated Film: The Mummy   Score: 1

Biggest Box Office Success
Movie reviews aren't the only way you can look at success in regards to film.  Show biz is still a business and nothing says success quite like fat revenue numbers.  Because I don't want to look up every films' box office numbers, do some algebra, and give you an average box office pull, I'll instead rank each universe by its biggest box office success.  And yes, I did account for inflation.

Star Wars Saga:
Highest Grossing Film: Star Wars   Adj. Box Office: $1.26  Billion   Score:  Total Score: 16

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: The Avengers Adj. Box Office: $683 Million Score: 8  Total Score: 16

Wizarding World:
Highest Grossing Film: Sorcerer's Stone  Adj. Box Office: $497 Million Score: 7 Total Score: 16

DC Extended Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: Wonder Woman  Adj. Box Office: $409 Million Score: Total Score: 8

X-Men Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: Deadpool  Adj. Box Office: $375 Million  Score: Total Score: 10

Alien Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: Alien   Adj. Box Office: $279 Million Score: 4  Total Score: 8

Highest Grossing Film: Godzilla  Adj. Box Office: $214 Million  Score: Total Score: 9

Conjuring Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: The Conjuring  Adj. Box Office: $155 Million  Score:  Total Score: 5

Dark Universe:
Highest Grossing Film: The Mummy    Adj. Box Office: $80  Score: 1  Total Score: 2

Hit/Bomb Ratio
This category is a bit more subjective but is based on numbers.  I like to reward movie success and punish for failures.  Thus, I have created a hit to bomb ratio.  The higher the ratio the better the score.  A true hit is any film that gets a score of 90 or higher in Rotten Tomatoes.  A bomb is any movie that has a score less than 50 on Rotten Tomatoes.  (I'm looking for the green rotten tomatoes here.)  If a movie is on the edge  then I'll make a judgement call.

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 6/0    Biggest Bomb: None   Score: 9   Total Score: 25

Star Wars Saga:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 3/0    Biggest Bomb: None   Score: 8   Total Score: 24

Wizarding World:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 2/0    Biggest Bomb: None   Score: 7   Total Score: 23

Alien Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 2/1    Biggest Bomb: Alien 3  Score: 6   Total Score: 14

X-Men Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 2/2    Biggest Bomb: X-Men Origins: Wolverine  Score: 5  Total Score: 15

Hit/Bomb Ratio: 0/0    Biggest Bomb: None    Score: 4    Total Score: 13

DC Extended Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 1/2    Biggest Bomb: Suicide Squad  Score: 3  Total Score: 11

Conjuring Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 0/1    Biggest Bomb: Annabelle   Score: 2  Total Score: 7

Dark Universe:
Hit/Bomb Ratio: 0/1    Biggest Bomb: The Mummy  Score: 2  Total Score: 4

John C. Riley Usage Rating
John C. Riley is a delight and universes should be rewarded for utilizing his talent to make their movies better.  A single point was given for the mere presence of Riley.  From there I added points for his usage in the film.  If he was used correctly the universe was rewarded the full 9 points.  After vigorously studying his IMDb paged I found he only had appearances in MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy and Kaiju's Kong: Skull Island. In Guardians, John C. Riley plays Corpsman Dey and he's fine in that.  He has his moments and he conjures up a few chuckles but ultimately you forget about him.  It's like having Rudy Gobert on your team but only using him for jump balls.  Now, in Skull Island John C. really shines.  Despite the film's billing order, he is the true star of the movie, other than Kong.

JCR Usage Rating: 9    Total Score: 22

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 3     Total Score: 28

Star Wars Saga:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 24

Wizarding World:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 23

X-Men Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 15

Alien Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 14

DC Extended Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 11

Conjuring Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 7

Dark Universe:
JCR Usage Rating: 0      Total Score: 4

Universe Clarity
This category looks at how easy it is for the average moviegoer to figure out the film he or she is watching is part of a larger cinematic universe.  If it's very easy to figure out then the universe will get the full 9 points.  The less clear the cinematic universe is, the less points it will receive.  Multiple universes can receive perfect scores in this category.  Characters crossing over, as well as common organizations, themes or events certainly help the case.  Easter eggs also bolster the score.

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
I mean, they basically shove this down your throat.  This universe has it all from characters crossing over to other characters' movies to straight up ensemble flicks.  The main MCU characters are tied through the fictional agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rest are connected to the Avengers in some way or another.  Even films like Guardians of the Galaxy, which to this point haven't had any interaction with the rest of the MCU, are still linked to the rest of the Universe thanks to the infinity stones.  Of course, we can't forget to mention the immortal Stan Lee cameos.

Clarity Points: 9   Total Score: 37

Star Wars Saga:
There's the main saga and then there's Rogue One.  As of right now Rogue One is the only Star Wars film released not part of the main saga.  That's all we really have to go on at this point.  So how clear is it that Rogue One is part of this expanding universe?  Very!  Aside from the various mentions of Jedi and the Force, the main story centers on the mission to get the plans to destroy the Death Star.  You know, the thing they destroy in the first Star Wars.  Darth Vader and other memorable characters also pop in to see what's up.  As expected it's also loaded with Easter eggs such as Jyn's childhood toys.

Clarity Points: 9    Total Score: 33

Wizarding World:
The central thing tying the Harry Potter movies, Fantastic Beasts and movies that will follow is the wizarding world.  Specifically with Fantastic Beasts, it's a film based on a text book that Harry and crew had read at Hogwarts.  Words, themes and places that show up in the Harry's world show up here, like "muggle" and "Ministry of Magic".  Newt, Fantastic Beasts main character and author of the textbook of the same name, is close with Dumbledore.  There's a bunch of Easter eggs like a scarf that reveals Newt was a Hufflepuff.  (I didn't need the scarf to figure that one out.)

Clarity Points: 9    Total Score: 32

X-Men Universe:
Even without Wolverine showing up in every film, minus Deadpool, it's impossible not to know that these films are part of one universe.  The main characters are mostly the same, though sometimes younger in the prequel movies.  There's usually some mention of the X-Men in some capacity.  Hell, Deadpool straight up drops a visit to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.  So this should be a perfect score, but I'm going to dock it a single point.  Here's why: I saw Xavier die in X-Men: The Last Stand.  (A very bad movie.)  But then at the beginning of Days of Future Past he's alive again.  (A very good movie.)  Doesn't sound very clear to me.

Clarity Points: 8    Total Score: 23

Alien Universe:
All the alien movies, minus Prometheus, feature the xenomorphs.  The first four movies featured Sigourney Weaver as Ripley while the latest two, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, don't.  Those two movies take place before the events of Alien and are supposed to explain how the xenomorphs came to be.  Today it's pretty clear that all these movies fall within the same universe, with the android David being in both prequel movies.  But at the time Prometheus was released I remember a lot of people not knowing that the film was set in the same universe as Ridley Scott's masterpiece.  I thought it was clear; the ship they find in Alien is the same one they find in Prometheus.  There were more subtle Easter eggs that didn't pop off the screen.  I appreciated that, but maybe people like being spoon-fed information.  Maybe Ridley Scott should have named this movie Alien: Prometheus.  I don't know.  All I know is people didn't think it was clear enough so I took off some points.

Clarity Points: 7     Total Score: 21

DC Extended Universe:
You might be thinking, "How did this not get a perfect score?  Like it or not, the DC Universe is clearly a universe."  You are not incorrect.  There's no question that DC has created a cinematic universe that crosses over several films.  Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all appeared in Batman v. SupermanJustice League will feature Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman.  Their movies are littered with Easter eggs.  I give them all that.  It's very clear.  Almost too clear.  So clear, they can't remove the stench of Suicide Squad.  I'm no Hollywood exec, but after screening Suicide Squad my first and only priority would be to distance that movie from the rest of the DC Extended Universe.  So yeah, I'm deducting points.

Clarity Points: 7     Total Score: 18

Conjuring Universe:
At this moment they only have four films out but the people behind this universe are building a solid foundation.  Obviously The Conjuring 2 is a sequel to The Conjuring.  And obviously Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to Annabelle.  Annabelle, the doll, is featured in the Warren's showroom in the Conjuring.  There aren't a whole lot of Easter eggs, but the most noticeable one is the picture of the nun in Sister Charlotte's room in Creation.  It's the same nun that attacks the Warrens in The Conjuring 2.  But there's no characters crossing over between the two film series.  I appreciate subtlety but not when it comes to cinematic universes.  I want loud and proud!

Clarity Points: 5     Total Score: 12

Dark Universe:
This is where I point out that 1) the Dark Universe only has one movie released (The Mummy) and 2) I have not seen said movie.  I'm not even sure I plan to.  I mean the movie got such bad reviews.  I saw a headline that asked the question: is The Mummy the worst movie of all time?  Whether it is or not, the fact that the question was even asked speaks volumes about the quality of the movie.  That said I've read a lot about the movie plot itself and how it lays the foundation for a movie universe.  Other than the titular mummy, other characters that appear, most notably Dr. Jekyll who is the founder of Prodigium, a secret organization that studies and defeats evil beings.  I would venture that this organization will play a big part in any future movies.  Apparently there's also a logo in the pre-credits that reads "Dark Universe".  I can't give it full points since there is literally only one movie, but it has a fucking logo.  Clear enough for you?

Clarity Points: 5     Total Score: 9

There's only two movies so far but they feature some pretty memorable characters, King Kong and Godzilla.  Neither of the two movies feature the same characters, but that's partly because Godzilla is set in the present and Skull Island is set in the 1970's.  What the movies do have in common is the agency Monarch.  Monarch is an organization that studies and tracks prehistoric monsters like Godzilla and Kong.  Monarch appears in both movies.  Unless you're a person who obsesses over cinematic universes like I do, you probably didn't connect the dots.  My dad had no idea the two movies were connected until I told him.  Even then he thought it was a stretch.

Clarity Points: 3     Total Points: 25

Future Outlook
This last category looks at upcoming films for each universe.  Points are rewarded for having movies planned or in development.  They are deducted if the franchise is having issues with the development of their universe as you'll see some are having.  I like expanding universes, so the more spin-offs the better.  I'm also factoring intrigue of the future products.  A universe may have multiple projects on the horizon but if people aren't excited to see it then what good does that serve?  This will be a ranked category with the movie with the best outlook receiving the full 9 points and the worst receiving 1.  This is for all the marbles.

Marvel Cinematic Universe:
MCU really likes to plan ahead.  They are set to the next decade with no signs of any major hiccups.  Currently they are in the midst of Phase 3, which started with Captain America: Civil War.  The next movie up is Thor: Ragnarok followed by Black Panther.  Both movies appear to be must-sees.  Hulk appears in the latest Thor movie and Black Panther is directed by Oakland native Ryan Coogler.  Looking further, the execs have Infinity Wars on deck, which should finally have the the infinity stones come into play.  Then after that we're looking at Ant-Man & the Wasp, which I'm pleased about.  Lastly, at least for now, Captain Marvel will finally be released in 2019.  This is a strong lineup that will continue to grow.

Outlook Points: 9   Total Points: 46

X-Men Universe:
It's a pretty exciting time to be an X-Men fan.  In 2018 they'll drop New Mutants, which is exactly what you think it is: a bunch of fresh-faced, gifted youngsters.  Deadpool 2 will hopefully build on its major success; it cast Josh Brolin as Cable.  Then we'll all be treated to Dark Phoenix in late 2018, which, fingers crossed, won't be The Last Stand.  There's also rumors of a stand-alone movie about Gambit, but that's still being worked out.  In addition to all that there's a possibility of an X-Force movie in 2019.

Outlook Points: 8   Total Points: 31

Star Wars Saga:
Here's what they got going for them: The Last Jedi coming up this winter, a young Han Solo movie starring Alden Ehrenreich, and the yet to be titled episode 9 of the main saga.  There's even a rumored Boba Fett film in the works.  Unfortunately the execs are switching directors like Kevin Durant switches burner Twitter accounts.  Directors Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Collin Trevorrow have all at some point been slated to direct a Star Wars film and fired.  Now, that's not going to throw this saga off the rails; the brain trust has enlisted J.J. Abrams to direct episode 9 which is a sturdy choice.  But it's not a great look either.

Outlook Points: 7   Total Points: 40

DC Extended Universe:
There's been a lot of talk of whether Warner Bros. would continue with the DC Universe because of the lack of success its had compared to Marvel.  In my honest opinion, Wonder Woman needed to be great for this universe to have any chance.  It was, and I think that's a good, albeit late, start.  But lately I've read that Warner Bros. is rethinking its strategy.  After Justice League DC will put more emphasis on stand-alone films and less emphasis on ensemble movies.  They're also splitting up DC movies into two categories: movies within the universe and movies independent of the universe.  (The Joker origin story is rumored to be, like David S. Pumpkins, its own thing.)  Still, the movies it has rumored to be released are a solid bunch.  Basically everyone from Justice League will have a stand-alone film, including a sequel to Wonder Woman.  Unfortunately for everyone, that includes a sequel to Suicide Squad.

 Outlook Points: 6   Total Points: 24

So far this monster universe has two movies released and two movies planned.  First, there's Godzilla: King of Monsters.  I'm guessing this movie will feature Godzilla fighting a bunch of monsters and being king of all of them.  The movie after is a big one: Godzilla vs. King Kong.  I don't know about you, but I'll pay top dollar to see those two duke it out in a loser-leaves-town battle.  There isn't anything officially planned beyond that, but depending on which monsters show up for King of Monsters there's ripe opportunities for more monster spin-offs.

Outlook Points: 5   Total Points: 30

Conjuring Universe:
This universe has been set up pretty good for future projects.  First it will expand the universe with The Nun.  That film will be about the evil nun that shows up in The Conjuring 2.  It will be set before the events of Annabelle: Creation.  Then comes The Crooked Man, which will be based on the scary creature that briefly appears in The Conjuring 2.  Lastly, they'll release The Conjuring 3 and keep up with the Warrens.  The Conjuring Universe isn't as big as the comic book universes so it makes sense that they're not rolling out phases, but they do well with what they got.

Outlook Points: 4   Total Points: 16

Wizarding World:
As far as I know, we'll be seeing Newt again in Fantastic Beasts 2.  This series is said to be five movies in total, though so far only the first sequel has been announced.  That's fine, but I need more.  I'll take a movie about another Hogwarts textbook if that's what necessary.  Show me a The Big Short-esque film about Gringotts Bank.  Shit, I'll settle for a Young Sheldon-esque movie about young Snape.  Just give me more.

Outlook Points: 3   Total Points: 35

Dark Universe:
The Dark Universe got off to a terrible start.  I wouldn't blame them if studio heads at Universal gave up on this venture all together.  But to my knowledge they are moving forward.  The next film is rumored to be The Bride of Frankenstein which is supposed to be set decades before The Mummy.  They got other projects in the works like The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  So they got a plan, the only thing is I don't know if they'll ever get to follow through.  Show me one movie with a Rotten Tomatoes score higher than 25 and maybe, just maybe, I'll show this universe some respect.

Outlook Points: 2    Total Points: 11

Alien Universe:
Apparently there's one more Alien movie in the works that might be titled Alien: Awakening.  Cool name aside, I'm not too excited about this film if it's just David being a bitter robot for 2 and a half hours.  (Though I'm all in for another flute scene.)  I like me some Michael Fassbender but so far I haven't liked the "bridge" to the rest of the Alien franchise.  Also, there's only one movie planned, so it looks like the universe might just end there.  Look, I'm not saying I want to keep this thing running, but would you not like to see a movie on the Weyland Corporation?

Outlook Points: 1   Total Points: 22

Alas, there are no upsets today.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the strongest universe we have at this moment.  Maybe other universes will catch up, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  MCU has consistently churned out good to great movies that delight audiences and make money and they have a clear path ahead of them.  They have bankable stars and interesting characters and story lines to explore.  Ultimately the universes fell into four tiers.  There's the two powerhouses that's the MCU and Star Wars Saga.  Then there's the upper class which includes the X-Men, Kaiju, and Wizarding World.  There's the lower class that features the Alien, DC and Conjuring Universes.  And finally, there's just the Dark Universe.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  I know this was a long one, but thanks for reading.

El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates.  Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live.  Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain.  NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA.  Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.  Leave comments in the section below.  Stay Guapo out there!