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!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mo Maurice

Last Wednesday I got to see the newest movie of the recent Apes trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes.  I got to see it as part of a promotion where you got to see all the movies back to back to back.  It was a lot of fun because movie theaters are very well air-conditioned and these are very good movies.  In fact, I may have written a positive review about at least one of them.  As you may or may not know, (you probably should know) this trilogy is a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movies that came out in the 60's and 70's.  The new trilogy essentially tells us how the aforementioned apes became superior to the humans, a question I didn't know I wanted answered until I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  As far as prequel trilogies go, this is top tier stuff.  The movies are compelling, the motion capture apes are astounding, and the characters captivating.  War for the Planet of the Apes was no different.  It built on what made the first two movies so successful while also adding fresh blood, most notably Woody Harrelson's appearance as the Colonel.  As advertised this is a film in which there is a war for the planet that is going to be occupied by super intelligent apes, but I wouldn't really call this a war movie.  It's definitely an ape movie, and I'd argue it's a snow movie.  For a while there it's a buddy travel movie and it's, to an extent, a revenge movie.  It's everything you could ever want in a movie called War for the Planet of the Apes.  It's earned an El Guapo stamp of approval.

Part of the reason I like to watch movies chronologically is because it serves as a refresher for the movies that came before.  In this case there was a bunch of things from Rise and Dawn that I didn't remember that came up in War.  But I also like doing it this way because it's easier for me compare the movies to each other.  I like seeing how the motion capture technology got better from movie to movie.  (As good as it is in Rise, there's a very noticeable jump in the technology when you get to Dawn.)  But the real reason I wanted to watch the trilogy in succession is so that I could get triple the dosage of my favorite ape.  No, not Caesar, though he is an impressive chimp.  Nope, not you either Rocket.  You wish, Koba! Bingo! It is Maurice, the sign language fluent orangutan.  This bad boy right below.

Some fun facts about orangutans: Orangutans are classified as the genus Pongo and are divided into two species, Borneo and Sumatran orangutans.  Orangutans are exclusively native to Asia and can live to over 30 years in captivity and the wild.  (That's wild!)  Their diet is mainly composed of fruit and they are some of the most intelligent apes on the planet, having the ability to use sophisticated tools to build nests.  There were studies in the 60's and 70's that proved these orange angels could learn signs.  They are also the first non-humans to exhibit the use of "calculated reciprocity".  This means they are willing to help out other orangutans so long as the payment is equal to the favor they are doing.  Orangutans are easily in the Mt. Rushmore of primates.  (The other three are the chimpanzee, the gorilla and the lemur.)  Unfortunately they are also critically endangered, due mostly to poaching and the destruction of their habitat.  (Humans suck.)

Now some fun facts about Maurice:  He's an orangutan.  (Duh.)  He is played by Karin Konoval, who also plays "court clerk" in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  (That's called range.)  He knows how to sign prior to Caesar giving his fellow apes the retrovirus that made them smarter.  He used to be a circus animal.  He is also the first ape at the ape shelter that is nice to Caesar, starting a friendship that will last three films.  While Caesar was the fearless, thoughtful and intelligent leader, Maurice was the compassionate and wise voice of of reason.  Just look at his face: his eyes are so warm and filled with wonder and curiosity.  It's no wonder Caesar made him such an integral part of his colony.  He third in command of the ape army, though things got shuffled when Koba committed treason in the second film.  He was also a member of the ape council and an educator of the youth.  His role is further extended in the latest movie.  Maurice is probably one of the few members of the colony that can call Caesar out on his shit.  But for as much Maurice there was in the three movies, I couldn't help but feeling like it wasn't enough.  I wanted mo'.  Mo' Maurice.

But why limit Maurice to just to these Ape films.  Looking back at this year in film, there's been a lot of good movies.  But good isn't great and there's always room for improvement.  The following movies could have benefited from having an orangutan that knew sign language.

Wonder Woman
I thought Wonder Woman was fantastic.  The action scenes were just superb and Gal Gadot and Chris Pine really nailed their roles.  It was funny and light when it needed to be, and dark and gloomy when necessary.  It was almost perfect... almost.  For my money, I wasn't a fan of the third act.  Some people like the fight against Ares, I like my fights more grounded.  Enter Maurice.  The big reveal now is that Ares is no man, but in fact an orangutan that knows how to sign.  This works because Diana knows virtually every language there is to know and I'm going to assume sign is one of them.

Logan might actually have been a perfect movie.  Thinking back on it there is nothing I would want to change or replace.  I just want to add a very beautiful animal that makes me want to be a better person.  That being said a lot of people died in that movie and it seems logical that Mo would face the same fight.  I film where Maurice dies a violent death is not a movie I want to pay for.  So nope.

Fate of the Furious
I'm going to ask you a question and you have to answer very honestly.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice to play the role of Dom Toretto in any of the Fast movies would you have noticed the difference?  Honestly?  I think it's the same.  If anything Dom might be easier to understand since you won't have to strain yourself trying to figure out what he's mumbling.  Mo would have definitely gotten along better with the Rock.  Let me ask you another question.  If we replaced Vin Diesel with Maurice would the plot still not make sense? Make more sense?

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming is easily the best Spidey movie since Spider-Man 2.  I had so much fun watching it.  Tom Holland is a perfect Perfect Peter and for the most part I thought casting nailed it.  My biggest problems with the movie?  Too much Iron Man, not enough Maurice the Orangutan.  Maybe it's just a little Tony Stark fatigue but I just preferred the scenes when Spider-Man was his own thing, like David Pumpkins.  Speaking of things that are orange, Maurice would have been the perfect father figure role.  Wise, funny and intelligent, he would have been a useful primate for Peter to lean on.

Kong: Skull Island
Fun fact about Kong: Skull Island: the actor who plays King Kong, Toby Kebbel, also plays Koba in the Apes movies.  Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, played King Kong is Peter Jackson's King Kong.  Skull Island is a fine movie.  I liked it more than most critics did.  But it did lack in number of orangutans.  Look, I'm not necessarily saying that Maurice should have been an animal on Skull Island.  But him as a pilot or maybe even an employee of Monarch.  I buy it.

Transformers: The Last Knight
Here's my quick fix for the latest Transformers movie.  Get rid of Mark Wahlberg.  He's got better things to do.  Get rid of Anthony Hopkins.  He definitely has better things to do.  Get rid of the whole knights and prophecy stuff that made up the plot.  Now get rid of Michael Bay.  Lastly, get rid of the transformers because this series has gone on way too long.  Now make this a Netflix comedy special starring Maurice.  He's got some good stuff on parenting.

Baby Driver
There's nothing I would change about Baby Driver.  It might be perfect.  It's easily my favorite driving movie since Drive, which is also a perfect movie.  ( A good indicator that a driving movie is going to be good is if it has the word "drive" in the title.)  So there's nothing major I would change about this movie.  It's perfectly casted so I'm not replacing anyone.  I don't want to add any scenes just because I'm afraid of throwing off the film's dynamic pace.  So how about this?  Early on there's a scene where Baby, Ansel Elgort's character is getting coffee for his crew.  The barista, or maybe just cashier, is slightly annoyed that Baby is not very attentive because he's listening to his iPod.  What if we replaced that barista with Maurice?  It doesn't change anything about the plot or the run time.  Chances are you probably wouldn't notice.  And if the odd chance you do notice your reaction will most likely be, "Is that Mo?... It is!  How delightful.".

All Eyez On Me
All Eyez On Me is a movie that's supposed to take a deep dive on the man and icon who is Tupac Shakur.  It doesn't do a great job of that and it mostly plays out like if somebody took Pac's Wikipedia page and made that a movie.  The movie has a lot of problems and no amount of orangutans can fix it.  Not even six.  But let's pretend Maurice is signed on to be in this movie.  Is he Jimmy Iovine?  No, Mo is no music nerd.  Is he Suge Knight?  I couldn't take Maurice seriously as the menacing and irredeemable Suge.  The obvious answer is to have him play one of the Outlawz during Tupac's House of Blues show.  But which one?  Easy: Yaki Kadafi.

There are countless other movies that came out this year and years prior that could have used some mo Mo.  Unfortunately Hollywood doesn't take my calls.  The best we can do is pay AMC to let us watch this unbelievable creature steal the show for 6+ hours.

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!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Can You Believe It's Been Three Years

Hey people!  I'm back with another post, a special edition post.  Why?  Because today is a special day!  Today is me and my girlfriend's three year anniversary!  (I know, right?)  Three years!  Tres anos! So what better way to celebrate than me sharing a blog on the amazing things my girl brings to the table.  I first wrote this blog two years ago for our one year anniversary.  In that post I highlighted 12 reasons why I loved my guh.  Well keeping in line with my tradition to update old blog posts, I've kept the original 12 reasons and added three more to celebrate each year.  Here we go again!

1. She's Beautiful
Let's get this one of out the way.  I'm not a cheese ball so I'm not going to say something ridiculous like I only care what's on the inside.  Don't get me wrong, personality goes a long, long way (we'll get to that), but I wouldn't insult anyone by failing to mention that I am very attracted to her.  She has one of the most endearing smiles.  Her eyes are hypnotic and her complexion is perfect.  She's got amazing legs and she's thick, a key component.  I also enjoy **** **** ** *** ********* **** ** *****.  (This part was edited out at the end when I realized my mom will probably end up reading this too.)

2. She Makes Me Laugh
She's probably one of the goofiest people I know.  The inside jokes we have are more than abundant and she can never fail to make me at least chuckle.  There are lot's of people who think they are funny, but my girl actually is.  Not in a stand up comedy kind of way, nor in a clown-like way.  Just in a I-know-you-and-I-know-how-to-make-you-smile kind of way.

3. She's My Opposite
In many ways she is my opposite, the perfect foil.  In what might seem like just two totally different people actually has made a lot of sense in this relationship.  We both have what the other one lacks.  In that sense we are able to get new perspectives and get out of our shell.  I really like me.  But I would hate to date someone like me and my girl is not like me.  Someone once said opposites attract.  I thought that guy was an idiot.  Turns out he may have been right.

4. She's Sociable
I guess she's the opposite of K. Dot according to his "Control" verse.  ( I never had the chance to make a "Control" reference at the height of its popularity.  Sue me!)  But this is a quality I really admire.  She's not shy which means I can throw her into any mix of people and she would be fine.  She tries to get to know people and make a good connection.  This quality actually made it possible to meet.  Some people don't like meeting new friends (a la Drake) but sometimes doing so can lead to great things.

5. She's From the Bay Area
Well, she's from Richmond, which is part of the Bay Area.  It's just not a part I am particularly fond of.  All jokes aside it's always great to meet people from my home and even better to have someone who I'm intimate with have that connection with me.  Let me just jot this down on paper (internet paper), people from the Bay Area are awesome, and in general better people from LA.  (Stings doesn't it.)  Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends from LA who are dear to me.  My point is, like the Beach Boys said they wished "they could be California Girls", I wish they could all be Bay Area girls.

6.  She's the Right Amount of Crazy
Let's settle this now: all girls are loco.  Psychos.  Crazy.  Insane in the membrane.  That's fact that I'm not gonna bother debating.  But that's not all bad.  And there is such a thing as the "right kind of crazy".  Too much crazy and a girl will fly off the handle and you might not live to see tomorrow.  Not crazy enough and you spend your weekends looking forward to sitting around and reading newspapers for fun.  A little crazy adds some excitement to your life.  It leads to new adventures.  Honestly, everyone should have a little crazy in them.  I think my girl is just crazy enough for me.  Not so much that I fear for my life.  I could always be wrong, in which case look out for my name in the obituaries.

7. She Has Good Values
I grew up with parents who taught me the right way to do things.  ( I may not have always listened.)  But the values that were instilled in me by my family, the Church and all those who shaped my life are very much important to me.  It's always good to find someone with a good heart for helping others, a good spirit for keeping the faith in God and a good mind for keeping the values of love, care and support.  She is a good person with all those great qualities.

8. She Is Willing to Learn & Teach
Like I mentioned earlier the great thing about me and my girlfriend being opposites is than our flaws and strengths are able to cancel each other out in a way.  There are certain things that I'm particularly good at that my girl struggles with and vice versa.  The great thing is that she is willing to learn and grow from what I'm able to teach her.  At the same time she is able to teach me things I wouldn't be able to learn on my own.  What good is a relationship if there is no learning and growing involved.

9. She Is a Great Singer
My girl has a voice.  A very lovely one at that.  She can sing and it's not a talent everyone has, and yes that includes me.  Sometimes it's just good to sit back and enjoy the talents of my girlfriend.  Especially on a long road trip, when the road seems like it goes on forever, the sound of a beautiful voice breaking the silence can make a big difference.

10. She Somehow Likes Me
I'm not the greatest man to walk on Earth and I'm nowhere near perfect.  (I'm just really handsome with a cool blog.)  But it feels great to have someone who truly likes for who you are.  And not just the good parts, but the flaws too.  Someone who appreciate all the wrinkles and support you abundantly with any dream or endeavor you may have.  I'm lucky to have that and I appreciate it very much.

11. She's a Great Cook
When she cooks it's pretty much a done deal that the meal will be amazing.  Yeah sure, the food will not be very healthy (she hates veggies) but it will be damn delicious.  My mouth is watering at the thought of her cooking.  Not a lot of people's cooking can do that.  So it's safe to say she's part of an exclusive group.

12. She Makes a Bad Day Good, and a Good Day Better
This is really an understatement.  Everybody has bad days and most of the time people have to pick themselves on their own.  Sometimes it's just good to have someone there to lend a hand.  At the end of a rough day she can make me smile.  And sometimes at the end of a great day she  can be the icing on the cake.  I said I wasn't ranking this list, but if I was this probably takes the cake.  It's for all these reasons, and then some, that I love her as much as I do.

13.  She Makes the Effort to Enjoy the things I Like
Here are things about me that most people in my inner circle know.  I love sports, in particular basketball.  I'm a huge Warriors fan.  I love Dinosaurs.  My hobbies include going to the movies and generally doing nothing.  I like binge watching shows on Netflix and Hulu.  These are simple things that I like.  My girl isn't a die hard Warriors fan like me, nor does she think that going to the movies should be an every week kind of thing.  That's fine, but what I appreciate is that she tries for me.  She learned the names of my favorite players, she has gone to see movies that I begged to go see (shout out to Zootopia!), and she too likes to binge watch shows.  (She actually does that better than me.  I can stay up until maybe 2 in the morning before I call it a night.  She's pulled multiple all-nighters.)

14.  She Calls Me on My Bullshit
Believe it or not, the Guaps has a couple of flaws.  Some might say I have a big ego and that affects much of my decision making.  Here's the thing about life I've come to learn.  If you never face criticism then you'll never grow as a person.  Criticism is at its best form when it is constructive and that's what I tend to get from my girl.

15. She Is Trustworthy
Trust is really important for a relationship to work.  That's a pretty obvious statement.  It's almost as obvious as saying smoking cigarettes may cause lung cancer.  But trust is a very vague concept.  There's trust in the sense that you can trust somebody's word or their actions.  I trust my girl in that way.  That seems like a really good thing.  But there's also trust in the sense that you can allow yourself to be open to another person.  That is also very important and I'm glad I also have that.  In general I'm not a very open person.  People not in my inner circle don't know much about my personal life and I like things like that.  But it's so amazing for me to have someone I can share my deepest thoughts with.  Someone I know will not judge me for being me.  That's amazing.

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!