Category Archives: Movies

Musings about movies, films, documentaries, and the medium.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 55: The Actual Journey

I have returned to talk about a plethora of topics, or at least that is the intention laid out in front of me. I have to touch on certain things, I want to touch on other things, and I am fairly hungry as I write this… so that will be fun. Why does my appetite matter? Well, I can get distracted easily.

What about just getting going with the column? Ok… 

Coming out of the “summer” TV season, I wanted to talk about a few things that my wife and I have been watching as well as what we’re looking forward to getting into for the fall season.

If you aren’t watching GLOW on Netflix, then you’re just plain missing out. One of the best things I’ve enjoyed is, while I never watched GLOW when the company was actively on in the 80s, watching a few episodes and then watching a YouTube video of one of their actually produced events is an eye opening experience. Terrible, but eye opening. I recommend you give GLOW on Netflix a chance, I think that the building of this company is interesting and a great watch.

Game of Thrones season 7 has ended and there is only one season left. If you haven’t watched the latest season, then you’ll want to skip to the next section of this column (or at least the next paragraph). Where we left our characters in the finale, I don’t understand why a little bit of humility on the part of Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) will go a long way when he learns who he really is, considering he was “giving the sword” to Daenerys as someone who has “bent the knee,” but actually is the heir to the Iron Throne. I don’t know why lineage matters with all we’ve been through because the removal of the Mad King should have removed the line of succession completely.

Defenders (as well as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) series on Netflix continue to rock. I think Defenders ran a little weird as far as pacing but ended fairly decently. The character of Danny Rand just seems completely out of touch with what actually needs to happen and that is a little disappointing.

Things that are coming back on that I’m amped to get back into: Agents of SHIELD (as well as the Inhumans TV show coming out, too), Star Trek Discovery (which isn’t “coming back,” it’s bringing Star Trek back… and I’m hoping it IS a reboot, because the franchise really needs it), Westworld (well, it’s coming back next year, but I’m still waiting anxiously), and those are just some of the “big shows” making a comeback.

I can’t wait!

The Aki Basho starts on Sunday and since I’ve been following as closely as I have, this will be the first Basho that has the potential to really not be as exciting as the past shows.

Hakuho, the best in the world right now, may not be up to full health… Kisenosato and Kakuryu might be out due to health issues. Ura is in a need to sit out early, and for the love of Pete, that is a lot of the talent to be following sitting out if they either don’t show up or bow out early.

I’ve wondered if Hakuho would retire once he set the all time win record (which he did last Basho) but he appears to be continuing on. He is really going to bury that record, I guess. If he’s healthy enough to keep going, I hope he keeps going, but I am interested in seeing how his absence would be filled once he leaves (as with any top tier competitor in a sport).

Kisenosato and Kakuryu need to rest. I really want to see Kisenosato compete fully healthy because I think he’s the next best thing to Hakuho. Harumafuji has made a statement as of late but if Kisenosato is up and running, I think he’s really the next best thing in modern sumo.

Ura, the “biggest thing since sliced bread” rikishi, also needs to heal up. He popped into the top division and made a big splash and I think he’s honestly going to be an Ozeki a lot faster than we’ve seen in the past, but he needs to be healthy in order to perform. Ishiura is almost as good as Ura but we’ve already seen the holes in his technique, so he has a lot to work on.

All in all, Sunday starts the Basho and I’ll be watching. If I had a means of putting money towards watching this in a high quality, I’d PAY FOR IT, but sumo outside of Japan seems to be nearly impossible to accomplish. Really, though, take my money.

A couple of months ago, I made an offer to my wife that has resulted in my trips to the theater descending exponentially. I ordered to not go to every single Marvel Studios movie (like we had been) and we haven’t been to a movie since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. When Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out on iTunes, I’ll buy it (like I did with every other Marvel Studios “Phase” movie). That will be the first time I see it.

I decided a long time ago that I don’t care about spoilers. Movies, when spoiled, become a “I want to see how they got there” rather than a “I want to see what happens” thing.

More to the point, though, not going to the theater has saved me a sum of money already and looks to be giving me a chance to go to a different type of movie from here on out. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 30th Anniversary theater run is coming up (starting next Sunday) and I am going to see it. I love that movie, I can almost quote the whole thing from start to finish, and it’ll be something that is different than superheroes.

My wife has complained in the past that I choose all the movies, and going to more than just superhero movies is too many times at the theater. She’s now got the chance to name her choices and we’ll see what we end up going to, which so far isn’t anything. I’m sure something will pop up but nothing so far.

Jon Jones loses his championship due to drugs. He comes back, almost fights DC for the belt and gets suspended for drugs. He comes back, beats DC to regain his championship, and gets stripped for drugs.

When is Jones going to get the hint to stop doing drugs? When is the UFC going to stop allowing him back in because he’s always on drugs?

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been longing for a few “lady fights.” UFC can have 7 events completely scheduled out and of the potential 77 fights, they’ve only got 3 lady fights. There are a lot of women on the UFC roster, so why aren’t they fighting more often?

I understand that I’m a rare breed, wanting to see the women fighting where most people just want to watch the men, but for the love of Pete, why have women’s divisions if you aren’t going to have at least 30 fights a year? You’ve got 3 divisions, start ramping UP your women fights instead of “treading water.”

The men’s fights are starting to get “watered down,” so if you’re going to tout them as the main attraction, start giving me bigger matchups. When was the last time the UFC Heavyweight Championship was defended? I can’t even tell you.

I’m going to be podcasting a little about BuJoRPG2 but writing about if more often than not. If you only get your information from one source, it’ll be in written form. I can reach a larger audience that way, though the upcoming Specter Show (episode 32) talks all about BuJoRPG2. Check it out.

I’m going to be out in the open about my developing B2, so hopefully the feedback starts coming to me as I start releasing and developing this further.

Listen to that episode, it’ll explain more and what the plan actually is from here on out.

Serial fiction report: I have started a mind map of what needs to happen.

Wait, what?

A mind map is basically a visual representation of what needs to happen, who is involved, where things are going, and helps cohesively put together the story I’m trying to tell. I have three main characters we’re following, I’ve shifted the focus to different parts of the world (as opposed to being stuck in my initial location, which I completely biffed) and help me plan out the future.

Initially, I had all three of my characters stuck on an island. This time, three of the characters start on the island but two of them immediately move to different areas of the world so I can expand the rest of this world for you. I’ve even done a few more things based on what Game of Thrones did, to properly set you up (as the reader) for what is going to happen down the line.

Yeah, I’m referencing one of the best TV series of our time for my serial fiction.

This mind map is almost complete for “season 1,” then I’ll rewrite episode one and start working my way into the next episodes… which I’ll also be developing “season 2” and expanding the character focus from three to five or six (which will have you going in more directions, learning more about the world, and really getting the gist of what is possible in this series).

I just need to write this damn thing, too. Not having a goal in mind really is what has been holding me up.

There is a podcast that will be created in reference to my Masonic research (no, I am not a Freemason) but it isn’t anywhere near ready, yet. It’ll be a longer form than the Specter Show or Greatest Show, but hopefully you’ll be as interested in it as you are in the other two shows. I also think the show will be monthly, no more often than that, because of the research and write up that needs to go into producing it.

I said I want to write the comic book of my dreams and I’m still not ready to do that. I want to try this mind map serial fiction and if that works I’ll see what I can do with a “second project.”

Thank you for reading and see you next week.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 54: Discoveries and Doubling Down

There are things happening, all the time, on this website, and with myself, that are in motion… almost everything I do is subject to my self-diagnosed ADD, which means occasionally I get distracted by things and then have to refocus my efforts to get back on track.

Oddly enough, the BuJoRPG was supposed to get me back on track and keep me focused, though I seem to have fallen off the wagon harder than I thought and I can’t seem to squeeze out the next version as easily as I’d hoped I would have been able to, so there is a talk I need to have with myself in this column and you can listen/read along.

I’ve started writing the “tutorial” of setting up the BuJoRPG 2 “Character Sheet.” I’m changing how I did things in B1, as I’ve stated before, and B2 is looking good… the problem I’ve run into is what to fill the Character Sheet with (that won’t require constant, or frequent, updating… meaning erasing and rewriting). This isn’t the only problem I’ve hit but it is the biggest one.

If you used B1 and you think that B2 is going to be a smooth transition over, just updating some terminology and moving forward with some modifications, you’d be wrong. I’ve changed some things and how they work, fundamentally, expanding the operations of what B2 can do. Just writing these words has emboldened me to finish up the tutorial and write up what needs to be done in order to release this in the Beta form (currently Version 0.1).

See what writing things down can do for me?

I’ve wanted to include a battle mechanic since the inception of this effort… B1 was going to eventually morph into a different version of what it was, but rather than slowly morph things over time, B2 is going to jump in with both feet. A set of “To Do Lists” will be the battles and there will be Skills you use in order to alter the “drops” of goods and loot. Yes, there will be goods and loot. I need to build the barest bones of the “Skills tree” in order to release the Beta, because I want my Beta testers to be able to suggest improvements or branches to that tree.

Just like the BuJoRPG: Wuxia template for B1, I’m building B2 as the Wuxia template (essentially). This is built around the idea of you being a wandering martial artist, acting as a hero, in a Chinese inspired “Wild West” (the term for this is Jianghu). Nothing will be so difficult with the terminology, though, that you can’t just modify the terms for your own “template,” because I’m not designing templates for B2.

I’m going to finalize the Beta before the end of next week and I hope to have something ready to go to develop. I hope you’re as excited to Beta test as I am to build the finalized version of B2.

I came across a genre of literature yesterday that really took me by surprise. The genre is known as LitRPG, literally meaning Literature Role Playing Game. The genre is about people who log into virtual reality games (which is the overwhelming basis for these novels) and are not able to log out. There are a few pieces of fiction that I can point to that will illustrate examples of what LitRPG actually is… those being Tron (both the original 1984 movie and the Tron: Legacy sequel), Total Recall (the Arnold Schwarzenegger version, as I haven’t seen the Colin Farrell version), Ready Player One (the whole book is about LitRPG), and Armada (the Ernest Cline second novel, similar to Ready Player One). The manga/anime Sword Art Online is also completely a LitRPG thing, so if you’re into anime you can watch that.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the “fantasy” genre (elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, D&D, Pathfinder, etc, etc…) because the genre has literally been done to death. I can’t throw a rock without hitting something or someone that deals with fantasy as a genre. Some will claim that all genres are like this, and they may be right, but I do not personally care for fantasy to the level most others do… unfortunately, the LitRPG genre seems to be dominated by fantasy as the backdrop.

I’ve found a couple of LitRPG audiobooks that I want to listen to, one of them is a fantasy based genre. The other sounds to be more like a “futuristic world” genre. I’m going to give them both a try. I’ll also give them both at least 50% of their content before finalizing a judgment on them.

The reason I bring this up is because when I put together that Tron and Tron: Legacy were essentially LitRPG, I was hit by the realization that a way to resurrect the Tron franchise could be through LitRPG.

Why do you care?

Well, I have a plot mapped out of a world similar to Tron that someone gets involved in, and that world has updated terminology, a similar “visual feel,” and is part of a larger world that would have been in development. The plan was to write this thing up, put it out in the world, and see if Disney wouldn’t be interested in letting people write their franchise as LitRPG (and then taking those stories and adapting a few of them into movies).

I’ve looked into the licensing information for Disney properties and rather than try that route right now, I am toying with the idea of moving forward with my LitRPG idea (adapting my digital world idea into more of a “game” rather than just a vague “world” like Tron).

This is the “distraction” part of my column title.

I’d love to hear some feedback, and yes, I know I’ve got serial fiction in the holding pattern right now, but the idea can be discussed without derailing anything else I’m currently doing. I’d LOVE some discussion on this idea.

Still no game to analyze… I thought I’d have been done with the target game by now but it is still raging on. I also got caught by something I wasn’t expecting in Chess.com’s app, and that is overwhelming me at the moment.

I joined too many tournaments.

In order to play more than a couple of games at a time, I joined a couple of tournaments. Read that to be “2” tournaments. I then went along and found a few tournaments not scheduled to start for months… MONTHS. Well, each and every tournament I joined has started (the ones scheduled way out were started early because all the participants signed up) and I’m currently playing somewhere between 40 and 50 games at the moment. That is way too many.

As a result of this, my rating has been trampolining all over the place as I win and lose in grand fashion to people I should and should not be losing to, as well as defeating a few that I have no business beating. As soon as this levels out, I’m going to make sure that no more tournaments start and the time controls for the ones I sign up for a long (because I have a tournament that I’m in where the time control is 48 hours, and I don’t like making moves that fast).

When things slow down, I’ll be a lot happier, but DAMN… there is way too much at once and that shouldn’t be the case, because I made a plan and that plan was trashed when tournaments started early.

My serial fiction, and a few of my other ideas, keep coming back to one important point about all of them: damn these would look good visually. Yeah, I can’t make full on “movies” with these things but I can damn sure make comics out of them.

I’ve wanted to write/produce comics for as long as I can remember. I originally thought I’d be doing the drawing of someone else’s writing, then I thought I’d be writing someone else’s drawing… and now I realize I’m going to be drawing my own writing.

The serial fiction I’ve created requires a few large pieces of visual information. I have already run into a couple of points in the early stages that inform me that I should have chosen the comics medium in order to tell this story. I think visually and I should have been writing this visually.

This makes me mad.

I’m a self proclaimed “starter,” failing to finish lots of things. The BuJoRPG has been seen through to a plateau and I’m developing that, but other than the odd “small job” here and there, I’ve really been a flake in finishing things. I’d like to turn my serial fiction into comics and I’m afraid for my own sanity that if I do that I’ll have that idea “die on the vine” as well, leaving me with yet another unfinished project. I’m also worried that if I don’t convert the information into comics, the idea will suffer the same fate from the other end.

Decisions.

At the moment, I’m trying very hard to leave things as they are so that I can finish something. I am also very anxious to start making comics, because at the age of 41, if I don’t start this soon, I’ll never make a comic book or graphic novel… ever.

How about this: what if I take a “section” of my serial fiction and create the comic page(s) that would tell the same part of that tale for comparison?

I’ve covered a few things above, some of them relate directly to other ones. I try to do everything I can in a timely and determined manner but life gets in the way.

Two weeks ago, work was my issue in getting things done. I’ve been hurt all this past week and now I’ve got too much damn time on my hands. Wouldn’t this be a benefit to everything else?

My mind works in a weird way. I do things best when I’m under pressure. If my wife leaves the house for a few hours and expects me to clean, I do the best job if I save that cleaning for the last 45 to 60 minutes of her absence. I think she’d agree with you on that, too. Now that I’ve got all kinds of time on my hands, I’ve fell into the other problem that I normally run into: distractions.

My mind wanders, a lot. My attention span can easily be taken from what I need to do by things I find slightly interesting. I don’t let people show me YouTube videos because one turns into two and two turns into seven… by myself, I do that to myself. That happens with webpages, videos, ideas, comics, food, etc.

I need to focus and hopefully I get the B2 thing out of the way to move on to the next project.

The Greatest Show 134: He was Also the Danish Girl

DJ (the Emerald Specter), Tricia, Metal Jesus, and guest star Quinny from the Periodic Table of Awesome discuss a hole host of topics. Just scratching the surface, the talk was about Watchmen, Jupiter Ascending, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 & 2, retro gaming, bullet journals, and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

If you want to listen or watch a Greatest Show with some meat and of high quality, this is the place to start!

Quinny can be found at www.theperiodictableofawesome.com!

Emerald Specter 25: Round Up

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I embark on the 25th Emerald Specter column without a specific topic, but I’ll be doing a lot of writing… so strap yourself in, this ride is going to be all over the place.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought, lately, to covering topics on a regular basis on the site. I have seriously toyed with doing a political column/show on the site and it was only this morning that I have decided that would consume an enormous amount of my time to produce, so I’ve decided not to cover that. However, I will be posting a political thing here before Trump’s inauguration… specifically dealing with the promises he made on the campaign trail and we’ll revisit those when his term as President is over. Everyone who supported him supported those things, as well as his misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and racism… we’ll see if the ultimate liar holds up to his promises or buckles under the weight of actually being the President.

Along with that topic, I’ve also been considering covering the sports that I enjoy watching as a reporter… specifically the UFC, One Championship, the NFL, sumo, the Barclays Premier League, MLS, and professional chess. Once again, that would eat up an enormous amount of my time but that is still on the table. I don’t need to report all the injuries, the play by play, or anything like that… covering sports is different than, say, politics, but I’m still not committed to doing that, yet. Starting out small would be the preferred way to do that, obviously.

Dude, you’ve talked a lot about nothing so far and you’re already almost 300 words into this column. 

Yes, I am, but I’m far from done.

My SpecterFit column went into the 40s for numbering and then just suddenly stopped. There are a couple of reasons for that but I’ll concentrate on the real barrier first: free time. SpecterFit requires that I put a little more effort into it than just a regular column and since I’ve gone back to delivering mail rather than supervising, I am finding it hard to squeeze all the things in I want to do in a day. This column, the Emerald Specter column, has been written ahead of time for the past month or so and as I write this I’m only a single column ahead (where I was four ahead when I initially got this thing back up and running). The other thing that stalled out the SpecterFit was my attempt to resurrect WAFFLE in the SpecterFit form… something I just don’t have time to organize and run like I did before. SpecterFit will return with less soul crushing “dictating from on high” and will morph more into a “tips and tricks” type thing. I’m also probably going to go with the “Nerd Fitness” type thing where I relate fitness to something you can geek out about in the process. Time will tell.

In the world of comics, I collect myself some titles. Spider-Man (the Miles Morales one), Moon Knight, Harbinger: Renegades, and I’m looking into a few others. Yes, that’s two Marvel comics and a Valiant. I really, really want to review comics and whatnot but with me only having three titles, and DC not really having anything that interests me at the moment, I don’t think I’d be doing the medium a service. I also don’t believe that many people would follow that, so I’m going to hold that on the back burner… the WAY back burner.

Where does all that “I’m not doing this” leave us? Well, it lets me cover the items I am doing and explain what is probably coming down the pipe in the near future.

Obviously, the Emerald Specter column is living and still breathing, so I’m going to go ahead and say this is safe to stick around for the future. This would be the only column that is currently running regularly and I’ll surpass the SpecterFit column in numbering before I pick that one back up. I think the self titled stuff should all be higher numbered than the other stuff, don’t you?

The three year running Greatest Show is doing just fine, too. We’ve just finished episode 102 as I write this and we’re going to be entering some non-typical shows into the mix so that we aren’t exhausting our discussion topics weekly. Episode 103 will be a Greatest Show Fight Series event (GSFS), which will be all of us in the UFC 2 game simulating a fighting event. I’m talking about this in the “coming soon” tense but you’ll have already seen it because we needed to take a week off for Thanksgiving. We will have more shows like that, some that are different in nature, some that will happen between discussion episodes, and then there is what we discussed on our last episode that will be likely helping us through the next 100-150 episodes (at least).

We are going to start roleplaying on the air.

In episode 102, I ran Bob and Metal Jesus through character creation for a game called Green Team, which is utilizing the White Wolf Storyteller system and is a story of my own design. Metal Jesus and Bob will also be running stories but mine will be the first one. The likely format of this bad boy is probably going to be a three hour show, beginning with a half hour (or solid hour) or witty banter, followed by two hours of roleplaying, then either just ending the show or finishing with another half hour of witty banter as a “wrap up.” While my story will be the one pushing the first few episodes like this, I’m hoping a rotation of games will fall into line so that if I don’t feel like running the game, I can certainly play instead.

Moving right along… the Specter Show.

I’ve been talking about doing this damn show for over a year now. I was going to launch the show in January of 2016 and as I write this in late November of 2016, you can see not one episode has been produced. I am going to launch this show, I am just trying to figure out when would be a good time. The topic will be whatever the hell I want to talk about, some will be longer, some will be shorter, but I’m aiming for a 30-60 minute weekly show to start things off, with the intention of running five episodes a week (Monday through Friday) as if I was on the actual radio. I’d like to be on the actual radio, too, so that is part of why I’m angling the show to be what I’ve just said. Wouldn’t that be fun?

And now for something completely different: the ESPL. I’m going to run the ESPL, expanding the depth of the league, for at least 10 years. That will be 10 seasons of the characters gaining specifically assigned positions, the league growing to be at least the two tiers I’ve already announced, and hopefully attracting others that want to be involved. Ideally, I am interested in knowing if anyone out there wants to jump in and take the reigns at some point in the future. I’m not depending on this, I’ll certainly just close the place down when I’m done running the thing, but I am enjoying the logo design (kits are coming in the future, too, kids) and running the simulations. Running this has also encouraged me to run something else I’ve been interested in running for some time…

An MMA simulated league. Unlike the ESPL, though, which is designed to basically be a simulation of realistic teams in a realistic scenario that is completely plausible… and the ESPL was specifically designed to be a way for me to create logos and practice my graphic design skills, the MMA league would be different. I’m going to change the MMA simulation to be more embracing of the digital nature of what I’m doing. That means instead of Heavyweight, Middleweight, Lightweight, etc for weight classes, I’m going to base them more off of digital denotations like Gigaweight, Megaweight, and Kiloweight. These will be “digital fighters” and I’ve already been setting up the framework for what is about to blast onto the scene here at Emerald Specter.com. As with the ESPL, the digital MMA will be an outlet for my graphic designing in the form of the “fight posters” for the events. The ESPL limits me to logos for specific clubs, where the MMA league will be about drawing attention to a more general design for posters and whatnot. If you saw some of my WAFFLE posters, you saw that I was heading into a beautiful era of graphic design… unfortunately, I’ve not had the outlet that I did before.

I want to simulate sumo, too, though I don’t have a graphically specific reason for doing so. As I write this, I realize that the other two leagues were for a specific reason (as would an American Football league, if I decided to launch one of those). I’ve also toyed with another racing league (NASCAR-esq, I have the groundwork laid but I haven’t been driven to design anything for it yet) but that is on the back burner.

Finally (what, finally?), I’d like to talk about the writing that I’ve been trying to get to forever. I really want to write novels, short stories, comic scripts, movie scripts, television scripts, and whatever else but I’ve stalled out consistently and that has left me in a bit of a scenario where I’m not really sure how to accomplish what I’m after.

NaNoWriMo is almost over and I’ve written a grand total of just under 6,000 words, which is 44,000 short of the 50,000 word goal. I need to set up a time and place to write and I need to write a specific amount of words or pages in that time in order to be allowed to move on. If I took a Sunday, for example, and woke up at 8 AM, wrote until I got 5,000 words done and then shifted into the Specter Show, after which I went into simulating the ESPL and the MMA leagues (or designing that which needs to be designed, as that is mostly the point of why I’m doing them), and then finished the day with whatever else I wanted to do, that would be a nice schedule. It shoots one entire day out of the water for doing much of anything else, but with NFL season running right now I’ve not really got a lot planned on a Sunday other than watching a game or two and staying home. No harm, no foul… I just schedule a bunch of other stuff in there and make it a productive day.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re a trooper or you really wanted to know what the hell I was going to write about. Thanks for sticking with this as long as you have and I’d like to tell you that I’m almost double my normal column word count… I try to write about 1,000 words and this sentence is in the 1,800 range, which is pretty sweet. I won’t keep writing, though, I’ve got more to do and writing isn’t going to help get that done.

Until next time, think on it.

Emerald Specter Movie League

If you’ve clicked over, you’re interested enough in the headline to learn more about what I’m calling the Emerald Specter Movie League. There are movie drafts online, on podcasts, and in work places that allow you to draft movies and compete with friends and co-workers to “earn the most money,” but Movie League is different… yeah, I’m going to make it more complicated. Let’s get the “splash” image going right here:

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The idea behind the Emerald Specter Movie League is to allow people to compete against everyone else by drafting movies and trying to come out at the end as the “big winner.”

DJ, that sounds exactly like every other movie draft… ever.

Yeah, but Emerald Specter Movie League is different.

The Emerald Specter Movie League will take place over the course of two, yes TWO, distinct movie “seasons.” The regular season will run from June to September for 2016, with the top half of the competitors will then be able to participate in the “post season” schedule, running from October to December 2016. The ultimate winner will be the one who not only advances TO the post season, but is the big money winner IN the post season.

The 2017 will hopefully have some mad large participation and we can get the ESML running with lots of folks. The 2017 season will run from April 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 and the post season will run from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018… because movies are awesome.

So… here’s the rub. Here’s what sets the ESML apart.

The movies eligible for the draft will be posted prior to the draft, and you will bid on movies to try to win them from your competitors. You’ll be bidding in the millions of dollars and you don’t have a spending limit. Read that again: there is no limit on how much you can spend.

DJ… DJ… DJ… we can just go on bidding forever? How is that going to work?

I’m glad you asked.

Let’s say the movie in question is Larry Bond: 003.5. So, Joe Q. Public bids 100 million to buy Larry Bond, Sam Body bids for 125 million, with Bill Fold bidding 155 million. Bill wins, he now owns Larry Bond: 003.5 for a whopping $155 million. The movie finally comes out on June 1, 2016 and earns (domestically) $162 million (rounded up)… here’s where the catch comes in and why the bidding stopped when it did. Bill Fold has his $155 million bid SUBTRACTED from the total domestic gross of $162 million, leaving him $7 million towards his ultimate total in the ESML. Bill regrets spending so much, but the movie was rated so highly and he really wanted it… he just wishes he spent a little less on it.

Your bids are subtracted from the domestic (American) gross. If your bid is MORE than the domestic gross, you still subtract it… which means you can potentially earn NEGATIVE totals in all of your bids. This creates a new strategy and will eliminate anyone just putting all their eggs in one basket with a big blockbuster (i.e. Star Wars or Harry Potter) and makes you consider more options.

Boom.

The 2016 season will be invite only, though I will take some enthusiastic potential requesters at emeraldspecter DOT com AT gmail DOT com.

Who’s in?

Emerald Specter 9: The Review of Spectre

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The 24th installment of the James Bond franchise has come out and the results are both encouraging and discouraging at the same time. Do read on.

Going into this movie, I was hopeful for something meaningful in the way of a James Bond story. My Bond is Daniel Craig because he’s played the character better than I’ve seen anyone else do it… yes, I’m saying that Sean Connery isn’t the best (in my book, he’s not even the second best). But, I digress. Craig brings the same level of effort to the character that he has in all his other installments (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) and this one is no exception.

Here’s my problem with the movie: it’s a “Star Trek Into Darkness” reboot of a character that should not have been reboot.

The thing about Khan (from Star Trek) and Blofeld (from James Bond) is that the characters were done correctly exceptionally well the first time and the attempt at improving them has a 1% chance of success. That means that 99% of the time you’re going to screw it up. In both of those cases, that has been made true. Bond should have learned from Star Trek and left well enough alone.

The idea of Spectre was one I was glad to see come back into the franchise. Make the characters behind the organization new and interesting but still have that looming threat. The Fleming books, which I’ve read, all have an organization running through them (SMERSH) that was adapted to the big screen version of James Bond when Connery was in the role. That part was fine. The part where they rebooted Blofeld wasn’t.

In the end, I have to give the movie an “average” as far as James Bond movies go. Casino Royale was epic, Skyfall was epic, and now Spectre would fall just above Quantum of Solace as Craig’s third best film in the role. Whether or not he comes back for another installment is still up in the air but now that Bond has been reestablished with the Craig storyline leading into Spectre, I think I’d like to see someone else tackle the role.

You can see this movie but don’t go in with super high expectations.

Why DC’s Cinematic Universe Will Fail

The Emerald Specter is back in the driver’s seat for you all and I’ve decided to kick things off with a look at the impending DC Cinematic Universe, the one that will supposedly rival Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Without burying what I think in some obscure paragraph down below, I’d like to say that the DC Cinematic Universe will fail… now read why I think that.

EmeraldSpecter300Marvel had no plan, apparently, about starting a Cinematic Universe. They launched Iron Man as (what they would be planning as) a stand alone trilogy. There was just a plan to set another one of their characters towards the big screen and hopefully make themselves a little bit of money in the process. Well, guess what, someone got wise and threw in a stinger (coda?) at the end of the credits to tease out the Avengers. The buzz was so intense that they included a stinger (coda?) at the end of the Incredible Hulk and almost completely designed Iron Man 2 around the idea that Avengers was happening. Thus began the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Marvel’s cadre of super heroes has always been a little, for lack of a better description available to me right now, more realistic. No one NEEDS a cape. Underwear is solidly underneath the clothing. Very few heroes need a logo for marketing purposes. That’s not really fair to DC but if we’re just comparing surface details, that’s basically the way things boil down. Marvel’s heroes are more realistic.

My favorite super hero is Captain Marvel/Shazam. I’ll call him Shazam from this point on. He’s originally a Fawcett Comics creation but that company was purchased by DC, so even though I “grew up” reading mostly Marvel comics, I am solidly a huge fan of Shazam from DC. I love what the New 52 has done with Shazam and I’m really hoping to see more of that because if they’re going to leave Billy Batson perpetually 11, he might as well get a cool revamp like he has.

But what does this have to do with DC failing?

Man of Steel was the grand relaunch of Superman’s origin… again. Just like their other “big name,” Batman, we’ve seen Superman done to death. We didn’t need another origin of DC’s most famous super hero but since we got one, at least the origin was a fairly awesome one. Man of Steel received mixed reviews but I give the movie a solid 4 out of 5. This was DC’s first salvo in an attempt to build a DC Cinematic Universe (DCU), which they have begrudgingly gone ahead with.

I say begrudgingly because Warner Brothers, who owns DC, seems to have a hard time with the concept of doing anything with any character on the big screen that isn’t Superman or Batman. They have openly admitted that Wonder Woman would be too difficult (in the past) and after Green Lantern failed (they went in the wrong direction, cast the wrong lead, and went too CGI for this movie) they seemed to really want to crawl back in their holes and go with another Batman or Superman reboot. Really? That’s when Man of Steel hit.

This is being written after a great success with Guardians of the Galaxy, a second season of Agents of SHIELD (a show that had it’s own problems until Captain America: The Winter Soldier) started off strong, and DC having made a slew of movie release announcements. What have they announced? Well, that is why I am going to tell you… and it’s why I think they’ll fail.

In 2016 we’ll get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (to be read as “Batman Five Superman Colon Dawn of Justice”), which is quite possibly the most ridiculous title for a movie I have yet to hear. Leave off the first three bits and just call the damn thing Dawn of Justice, for the love of all that’s holy. What’s this about? Well, I’m guessing that Batman is going to battle Superman, and we already know about a slew of cameos by other DC heroes to be named later in this list.

Also in 2016 we’ll get Suicide Squad. This will have little to no real success as there is no build up of these “villains,” they’ll be doing heroic things and most people won’t know what the issue about their villainy is, and as far as I understand it from the “buzz,” there isn’t anyone interested in seeing this movie. I’m not.

We move to 2017 for Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One. Only after Marvel released a fun movie including a talking raccoon and talking tree does DC say to themselves “well, maybe a film about a woman would work.” Wonder Woman should have been on the big screen a long time ago and the fact that she hasn’t only shows that old, white men not only run the country, but they also run Warner Brothers. And you split your Justice League into a Part One and Two? Playing this hand like this was a huge mistake and I can say that unless you have a solid single movie premise that gets resolved IN THAT MOVIE, you’ll fail with this one. How do I know it’ll fail? The Matrix, one of my favorite trilogies ever, has been given terrible reviews for leaving a second movie open and having a supposedly flimsy end to the third. If Justice League couldn’t survive as a single movie, you should have played those cards closer to your chest, DC.

We move to 2018 with the Flash and Aquaman. First, let me say that casting Jason Momoa as Aquaman was the single best piece of casting I’ve seen. Better than RDJ as Tony Stark. Better than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. What I don’t like is that you’re all over the map with your “plan.” Either do the build up like Marvel and debut everybody before Justice League or do Justice League first and all the movies can be “prequels.” I’ll actually get to the Flash a little later, so I’m quiet right now.

How about 2019 with Shazam and Justice League Part Two? While I have been super excited for a Shazam movie, I’m really disappointed that I have to wait until 2019 to see it. And that is assuming that the production doesn’t get pushed back. Moving on.

We have 2020 giving us Cyborg and the Green Lantern reboot movies, ending the announcements of DCU. Unless GL is a new Hal Jordan (done much less Ryan Reynolds) or is John Stewart, I’m not interested in this movie. I have never been interested in Cyborg.

The DCU seems poised to fail.

As I made comments above, if you are using Man of Steel as the launching point, simply call the second movie Dawn of Justice to introduce a few of the other Justice Leaguers and conquer a foe just complicated enough to need multiple heroes. After that, jump right into Justice League (a stand alone film), followed by Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Aquaman, and Cyborg movies telling their origins. THEN go for a second Justice League movie. DC/Warner Brothers seem to have no surface plan, even though to do what Marvel did, they need to have a detailed roadmap.

Now let me get to my Flash comments. Arrow on the CW is one of the most awesome shows on TV right now. They recently spun off the Flash as another show and if they would have used Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin as Green Arrow and the Flash in the movies, I’d have been more interested in what the DCU was doing. As it is, though, they are casting a separate Flash for the movies and are leaving Arrow and the Flash TV shows as separate universes. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb…

You have built up a history with Arrow over three seasons. The Flash is starting with a bang. Man of Steel gives you enough punch for a Superman to carry the Justice League movie WITHOUT needing Batman five Superman colon Dawn of Justice. Add in Green Arrow and Gustin’s Flash and you’re ready to obscurely explain where Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and Cyborg came from while fighting someone like Darkseid.

If the DCU doesn’t fail, I’ll be shocked. They aren’t surprising us with anything, they’ve got an erratic looking roadmap and have teased very little to get anyone excited. The Nolan trilogy had two good movies and a “meh” one, yet they toss that one in the trash to reboot for what? Yeah.

Time will tell, but my money is that Marvel will do much better than DC because DC makes some very odd decisions.

A Review of Divergent

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This is about the movie, though for adaptations from the book, this one was one of the more accurate translations.  Over all, I think that this was a pretty decent movie, though the books turned movies that are “dystopian future, girl centric” stories that have been coming out lately are starting to blur together… and weighed against Hunger Games, I’d say that this one is much better.  Hunger Games just got a bigger hype.

This movie suffers from being several movies away from being the first one of its kind.  I also wasn’t completely invested in watching the movie but I will say that I think this is better than Hunger Games was, over all.  Some may disagree but I don’t care.

This one is a solid four out of five, though I’d probably give Hunger Games that, too, at this point.

A Review of Assassin’s Creed IV – Black Flag (The Movie)

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As with before, these all come from YouTube and a wonderful movie maker of video game movies… I will be checking out more of them, too, I think.

This is the latest in the Assassin’s Creed series, this one felt odd without having Desmond around to help tell the other part of the story, but by now, you should be getting used to the idea that there is something else going on that will lead us to an eventual end to this story… I still miss Desmond, though.

Unlike the other installments, this one felt only loosely related to anything from before in the Assassin’s Creed series as it concentrates exclusively on Edward Kenway at real life pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and so on.  There was so much concentration on the pirate activity, in my opinion, any connection to the assassins and the Templars was more of less a sidebar of a tale.  That was a little disappointing, but the visuals were great.

Being a former Naval man, I did enjoy the ship stuff but I can easily see how tedious watching every ounce of the Naval combat would have been if the whole scene would have been shown.

I did enjoy the Edward Kenway story but I would have more so enjoyed a story about an assassin finding something from the first civilization, like in previous installments.

I give this one a four out of five, but that’s more to do with the obscure sideways connection to the rest of the series rather than the direct story tie in.  It WAS good, though.