Henry Cavill Leaves The Witcher: Netflix Can’t Seem To Do Anything Right

Written by Luke Barnes

I want to use this piece to talk about the recent news of Henry Cavill stepping away from playing the role of Geralt in the Witcher tv series and the fact that the series is carrying on without him. I believe it is terrible news and that Netflix should and probably will after the fourth series cancel the show.

I want to be up front with you all, I stopped watching this show after the midpoint of season two, it had no resemblance to the books and games and treated the characters with an irreverence that bordered on contempt for the source material. In many scenes I dislike this show, however, one of the few things I could give it was the fact that Henry Cavill was well suited to the role and genuinely seemed to care about the character. However with his departure, which is almost certainly due to the fact that he is back as Superman, and the fact the show is just going to recast and pretend like nothing has happened the show loses one of its key assets. Now I am not saying that Liam Hemsworth will be a bad Geralt, or that he won’t care about the character in the same way Cavill did but I will say I have seen nothing in Hemsworth’s filmography this far that suggests that this is in anyway something he would be well suited for. I don’t think he has the right physicality for it either.

I think if Netflix were smart they would shift focus now that Cavill is out to animation for the Witcher universe wherein shifting voice actors wouldn’t be so noticed and were acting in it would be a lot less of a commitment. They could even hire the voice actor who played Geralt in the games to voice the character here as well, a move that would definitely please many parts of the fandom. However, because Netflix aren’t smart, and have proven this time and again, they will carry on with the show with Hemsworth under the notion that they can just replace one handsome man with another and no one will notice, ignore the fact that the fans are annoyed and angry about it and then be surprised when the fourth series tanks ratings wise. No doubt toxic fandoms will be blamed, but really this is all on Netflix, they should have given Cavill more money or whatever he wanted to stick around at least until the end of season four where they could have rushed to wrap up

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Leakers And Scoopers: The Battle For Expectation

Written by Luke Barnes

I want to use this piece to talk about leakers and scoopers on the internet, especially when it pertains to big franchise films like with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recently Disney had their  latest expo and I went online after the fact to check out what had been announced, whilst there I was met with a sea of disappointed videos from various pundits and scoopers saying how they were disappointed with what Marvel brought to the convention. These people expected full casting for the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and a whole lot more besides, and whilst this piece won’t be saying how bad scoopers are, it will examine their impact on expectations.

Within the modern film coverage landscape whoever has the latest scoop or reveal is king, especially when it comes to video content. This can lead to all sorts of things including people just making stuff up. A lot of the people who cover Marvel claim to have insider sources, but often never have to prove they actually do, and as such say their sources have told them x and people jump at it being true. However, the issue is that the source may not be real, or the source might have bad information, or the film and or project might have been changed since the source saw it meaning what they say is false. As such you can’t trust these insider’s sources.

Now for most people they accept that these leakers and scoopers might get the odd thing right here and there but that they make mistakes just like everyone else and as such don’t take each one of their scoops as gospel. However, there is a loud subset of people who seem to take everything at face value and believe it all, and these are the ones complaining when Marvel doesn’t reveal their X-Men cast 5 years before the actual film is likely to come out. If you think about it, it is not in Disney’s interest to release any of that information any time soon as they need something to keep people tuning in for the various conferences.

Like with other things on the internet people need to practice greater critical thinking. A lot of the time users online are not able to see through fake news or clearly misleading information because they want it to be true, the same thing is happening here and then folks are saying oh Marvel suck now or that their latest showcase was disappointing. Use your brains and think about things from Disney and Marvel’s point of view.

My takeaway point here is that leakers and scoopers are cool but they are rarely completely right on everything and people need to temper their expectations when it comes to things like this otherwise they are in for a bad time.

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When Did Cinema Get So Tame: Quantity Over Quality, A Modern Cinema Issue

Written by Luke Barnes

I write this piece as I look ahead to what is coming out over the next few months and think to myself that there are precious few films that look good on the horizon. When did cinema become so average? Or am I just jaded?

So the idea that there was ever a great period in cinema history where nothing but fantastic films were coming out is a fallacy, a romantic idea that never held any weight. Even in great years for cinema where we would get several films that would later be called classic there would be a titdlewave of garbage as well. However, these days it seems that the ratios are becoming ever more extreme we are getting fewer and fewer modern classics and more and more trash, and the question I am asking today is why is that.

Some say that audiences are dumber and like less the idea of being challenged at the cinema, therefore studios have pushed filmmakers to make easier films, obviously there are still changeling films coming out but these are rarely in the multiplexes. Another argument is that Hollywood has become obsessed with brands and doesn’t want to take a chance on original ideas anymore, this has more than a grain of truth to it, with studios cranking out sequels, prequels and reboots all the time. Within this school of thought there is the idea that if the audience comes out for a certain IP then it doesn’t matter if the film is good, maybe this is why there is so little quality these days. There certainly is a safety in a perceived sure thing.

A final idea to ponder is that making good films is no longer the aim for some studios and filmmakers. Through this idea the notion of making a good film that is held up on its technical merits is less important than completing another objective such as getting across an idea, political point, or an element of social commentary. Certainly a good film can include these ideas they aren’t mutually exclusive, however, if pursued ham-fistedly enough they can take over the film and make it bad. All things in moderation.

I suppose there is no clear cut answer for why there is so few truly excellent films out these days and more trash by the week, perhaps it is a little of all of the above, but one thing is for sure if cinema continues in this odious manner it will destroy itself before our very eyes.

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Time To Worry Darling: How Olivia Wilde Exposed Herself And Doomed Her Film

Written by Luke Barnes

A disclaimer before we begin, a lot of this piece will be based on leaked information, and journalistic pieces commenting on the supposed feud between Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh. I cannot say that all the information that I will be referencing and talking about will be accurate as again a lot of it is based on speculation, but I will endeavour to add to this. What follows is my opinion.

So to provide a brief history of the supposed events before we really get into things, a lot of the bad publicity for Don’t Worry Darling directed by Olivia Wilde, began when she cheated on her fiancé and hooked up with Harry Styles, a poor character move to be sure and one which if done by a man would get far more flack, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Following this there was talks of a rift between Wilde and her leading lady Florence Pugh over disagreements on set, which were no doubt made worse by the fact that Styles was being paid more for his role in the film than Pugh. This falling out can be seen by the fact that Pugh has refused to do press for the film, a red flag for sure. Additionally Wilde has proven herself a liar and a hypocrite by saying that she had a no assholes on set policy, that is paraphrased but it is something like that, yet she cast accused sexual abuser Shia LaBeouf and begged him to stay on after he quit, this can be seen in leaked video footage. In the same footage Wilde implies that by keeping him around it will give, someone implied to be Pugh, a wake up call, it has been said that LaBeouf made Pugh feel uneasy on set.

I think what makes all of this worse is the fact that not only is Wilde refusing to comment on it, but she is also playing the victim. Once upon a time she may have had credibility in this category and been believed but since all the leaked footage has come out we now all know she is a liar. In this post MeToo timeframe many people have seemed to forget that women can be just as dickish as men, and to even suggest it seems to be a capital offense. I just think that if Wilde was a man the narrative forming around her would be far more damning. Toxic femininity exists too.

Moreover, the film itself is now getting bad reviews from critics, which I am not surprised by as it looks like it has taken social horror aspects from well received films such as Get Out and forced them into their own narrative in order to try and get people to think the film is deep or even just well done. I think it was clear from the trailers that this film wasn’t going to be good.

The real losers here are Warner Brothers Discovery who needed this film and Black Adam to make tidy profits and sure things up for the studios finances, however, now it looks like through the bad word of mouth, bad reviews and the controversy that Don’t Worry Darling is doomed.

*Breaking News Update: Harry Styles just spat on Chris Pratt at the film’s first showing, showing he is just as bad as Wilde. It just keeps getting worse folks.

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The Disney Family Market And How Deadpool 3 Is Unlikely

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about the state of Deadpool 3 and how I think there might be a problem with its production in the House Of Mouse. Please do bear in mind as you read this that technically the film is still being made and that supposedly it will also be R rated.

I think the recent release of both Moon Knight and the sequel to Doctor Strange provide valuable lessons about what a future Deadpool film may look like. With regard to the former, Kevin Feige said that they were going to go dark and not shy away from the violence which gave many fans of the character hope, however, what we got was far more family friendly and toned down then many were expecting. Yes, there was some violence and adult themes but for the most part it was fairly tame. This does not make the prospect of a hard R Deadpool film with violence and swearing likely. With the latter certain parent groups had an issue with the horror elements and went on to complain and kick up a fuss. There is this conception that even though the MCU films are not rated universal or to be watched by all that for some reason they have to appeal to families, maybe it is because Disney banks hard on the family market as such the MCU is hamstrung into what it can get away with without upsetting audiences who want to take their kids to see every Marvel movie.

I really do think that under Disney darker and more brutal characters from wider Marvel comics will suffer. The creator of Deadpool Rob Liefled has repeatedly indicated that there are behind the scenes issues on Deadpool 3 and that there is a disagreement within Disney about what the film should be. In my mind the main issue here is that due to the Disney branding everything is seen as being family friendly when that isn’t always the case, but never the less it has led to a certain expectation from audiences and crucially parents.

I think there is some strange parallel world wherein Deadpool could work toned down and for a more family friendly audience but then this would anger fans of the character and lose the comic diehards that make up Marvel’s most loyal audience. Basically Disney and Marvel are caught between a rock and a hard place, they don’t want to lose the diehards but they also don’t want to lose families either, think about the toys and merchandising.

Ultimately I think Disney will tone down these characters and then try and force them into the MCU and I think it won’t go down well.

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Will Required Viewing And Disney + Homework Hurt The MCU’S Hold Over Hollywood?

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about something I noticed within Doctor Strange 2 that I think could be a big problem for the MCU going forward and that is the over use of integrated and interconnected storytelling.

I understand that from a corporate standpoint Disney is pushing Disney + as hard as they can and, part of that push is having the various Marvel shows on the platform feeding into the wider MCU, however, this creates a very real problem for the MCU as a whole. Though there are plenty of diehard Marvel fans who watch every piece of content that comes out, there are also others who are far more fair-weather, you might follow a specific character or who might watch some of the films here or there. The Disney + approach only account for those first lot of people, for the second they won’t be familiar with the Disney + shows or at least not all of them and as such will have a hard go of it keeping up with the films.

In many ways the Doctor Strange sequel is an epilogue to Wandavision, the film makes numerous call-backs and references to the show, though Sam Raimi claims he never even finished it. As such you can see the problem, to fully understand Doctor Strange 2 you have to have firstly seen Wandavision and for those you haven’t seen it well they will miss out on a lot of the context and not really understand why these two Avengers are fighting, and therein lies the problem. Through truly integrating the Disney + shows The MCU is creating homework for viewers, and saying that if you want to understand what is going on you have to firstly pay for this streaming service and secondly watch all these shows, which becomes too much for some people. As the Arrowverse went on people were put off my how interconnected those shows got, to understand the latest crossover event you had to watch all these shows even if you didn’t like them, at that point it no longer becomes entertainment but an obligation and I have a feeling the MCU is heading the same way.

I believe that as these smaller shows become more and more vital to understanding the plots of these big movies then more and more mainstream audiences will check out, not wanting to have to commit 6 + hours of their life to watching a series they may not even care about simply to understand the plot of the latest movie. As such, I think attendance at Marvel films will go down, not becomes of superhero fatigue, not because of the ‘liberal agenda’ that some people say they are trying to push, but because of that fact that they no longer want to commit to watching all these shows and films and may even be coming to the conclusion that there are too many.

I think dear reader that this is what will halt the ever expanding dominance of the MCU, and though it won’t ever kill the franchise all together it will cause it to contract in on itself.

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Alex Kurtzman And The Sorry State Of Modern Star Trek

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about the current state of Star Trek, now I am not claiming to be a major fan or anything of the sort, but I did see the Pine fronted movies as a kid and have tried to get into the series that have come out since, whilst also going back and visiting the older series for a first time. Perhaps comparing the new to the old is not a favourable comparison, perhaps the bar is set too high, however, I really do find that these newer series just can’t hold a candle to the older shows and are noticeably weaker.

Why do I think Discovery and Piccard  are so weak well that is an easy question dear reader, the problems of modern Star Trek can be traced back to one bad writer, Alex Kurtzman, the guy who brought you The Amazing Spider-Man sequel and The Mummy with Tom Cruise. Kurtzman is a hack by all accounts and has milked a relationship with J.J Abrams for all it is worth, hence his current position in the Star Trek universe.

Kurtzman doesn’t seem to understand a lot of the projects he is involved in, hence he thought a Silence Of The Lambs sequel series without Hannibal Lecter was a good idea, but nowhere is that more true than with Star Trek. Kurtzman turned Discovery into a platform to spout his political beliefs to anyone who would listen, and yes though the original series had a strong political centre it was handled far better than what Kurtzman did with Discovery, which seems purposefully divisive.

Piccard was a slightly different beast and at first had some promise, however, as the series continued it became clear that it was only created as a means for Kurtzman and co to milk nostalgia and to remind the fans of better times, only to then promptly screw them up. Piccard was less preachy but the issues of Discovery were there.

Discovery and Piccard have had very well published behind the scenes issues and poor ratings hence why Strange New Worlds is playing it safe and going back to basics, and so far I am only one episode deep into that show but it does seem better.

On the movie side of things, Tarantino was supposed to be involved with a Star Trek film for a while and then that got shot down, and now they are trying to get some more milage out of the Pine cast despite those films coming out a while ago now.

Honestly, if I had to give you a quick snap judgment as to the current state of Star Trek, from my perspective at least it seems as though the franchise is battling to stay relevant in the wider cultural and streaming landscape and possibly failing in that aim.

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The Sonic Shared Universe: The Real Challenge To The MCU

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about The Sonic franchise and how I think it is the only shared universe that might rival Marvel, in time.

So for those of you that haven’t seen the Sonic sequel yet you might want to look away now, as there will be spoilers in this article.

The Dark Universe, The DCEU, The Power Rangers Universe all failed, in several cases horribly. Now why they failed is up for debate, but most agree that they either didn’t need to exist or were trying too hard to compete with the MCU and so rushed things out of the gate. I don’t think Sonic has either of these issues as firstly there is a strong fan base, as has been reflected by the box office for both films, but also the creatives seem to be in good communication with the fans and listen to what they want. Moreover,  the Sonic films have not rushed to have all their characters appear on screen together as such audiences will have to wait a few years before they get their first taste of Shadow. In other climates at different studios this would have already happened, we would have got twelve spin off films and fifty streaming series to set everything up but for the most part Paramount has been fairly sparing, the most we are getting is a Knuckles tv show.

It is for these reasons that I think the Sonic universe can rival the MCU, as they still have a lot of cool and crucially popular characters left to introduce and there are a number of projects and places where this universe could go next, it is quite exciting. I am obviously a big Sonic fan, I have enjoyed the games, the animated series and now the films so I want them to keep coming and maybe that is making me look at this shared universe future with pre-emptive rose tinted glasses, but hey I think the Knuckles show will be cool and I’d love a Shadow prequel so I won’t be complaining when we get them.

We can all just hope that Paramount keeps up the quality, the heart and the fan commitment that  has made the films so far good.

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Notions On Toxic Celebrity

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about what I see to be the main failing of celebrity culture, the belief that somehow celebrities are the best of us. I write this piece as it has just come out that allegedly Vin Diesel was difficult and did not behave on the set of Fast X and as such the director has quit the project, as well as when production of Bill Murray’s next movie has stopped as he has allegedly engaged in some troublesome behaviour.  

In my mind celebrities seem to think that because of their fame and wealth that they don’t have to abide by the same norms and laws that apply to everyone else. Matthew Broderick literally killed someone and still gets to appear in movies, after only paying a small fine, how is that right or fair? I believe that it is because they are put on a pedestal that this sort of behaviour is allowed to flourish. By worshipping celebrities we are creating monsters.

An actor or celebrity with a huge ego is nothing new, they are a dime a dozen, however, this is a result of fan worship. If Vin Diesel didn’t have an army of dude bro fans who will like and share his posts and who will mindlessly flock to see whatever subpar action film he is starring in next in might make him question how he treats those around him, as both the Rock and now his director have pointed out that he is difficult.

Social media has certainly become a tool for celebrity worship and to an extent it has also been used as a means to keep celebrities in check, yet as society we need to see that this hasn’t been enough. Despite #MeToo and the grave threat of cancel culture, a little sarcasm there, celebrities are still behaving badly and escaping consequences. This is a problem I can only imagine solved by people putting their money where their mouth is and not watching these actors projects, letting them fade into obscurity, calling them out, not letting them escape problematic behaviour and encouraging others to do the same.

By giving these people fame and money we are telling them their behaviour is okay when it clearly isn’t. Something needs to change.

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The Marvel Problem: Making Movies For Little Kids

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about a recurring issue/concern I am having with the MCU, though it can apply to other franchises also owned by Disney, and that is being a slave to the family friendly audience, being too afraid to have morally complex heroes or God forbid anti-heroes.

A lot of these feelings were stirred up within me by two things firstly the experience of watching Moon Knight the TV show versus reading Moon Knight in the comics, and also the recent Star Wars debacle that is The Book Of Boba Fett. In both examples the titular leads are toned down and in some areas entirely different from previous portrayals, rather than being the cold, tactical bounty hunter that we have seen in other Star Wars projects including The Mandalorian Boba is all soft and fluffy in his own show, hugging animals and having other people doing his killing. This is also seen in Moon Knight where the character is much less violent and far more incompetent, this is done to fit the tone and the comedy of the MCU.

However, the way Moon Knight has been presented on screen leaves me with a problem, if Moon Knight is not allowed to be gory or more mature then how the hell are characters like Deadpool, Punisher and Ghost Rider going to be done justice; the Ghost Rider of Agents Of Shield was an awful take on the character. Kevin Feige said that Moon Knight as a show wouldn’t pull back it would show us the finishing blow, however in practice this simply isn’t true. We have seen a bit of blood on  the characters hands and have seen some people die, but most of the time this has been cut away from or outrightly ignored, which becomes a turn off after a while.

Though in almost every other way the DCEU is worse than the MCU, the one thing I will give them credit for is that they are not afraid to be more mature and adult with their content, instead of pumping out CGI trash for little kids. Think about Peacemaker earlier this year a series that did well and became beloved whilst also dealing with adult themes and violence, can you ever imagine something like that existing within the MCU? No, no it would not and that is the problem. Disney and Marvel want to have their films appeal to as many different markets and demographics as possible so why not try appealing to adults. I understand that Disney is a family company but that doesn’t mean all their content has to be made for little children. Things like the Mandalorian give me hope that maybe Disney can get away from this bloodless family friendly approach but I am not too optimistic.  

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