Sad to hear that Peter Mayhew, known largely as the actor who portrayed Chewbacca in five Star Wars films, passed away this week at the age of 71. Yet Mayhew’s death occurring two days before “Star Wars Day” (May the 4th be with you) probably resulted in even more attention and appreciation for his career than it otherwise may have received.
But maybe not. Chewbacca was a beloved, iconic character in the most famous movie franchise of all time (well, until Marvel and the Avengers came along). Mayhew’s death was going to be news. But a community came together online and in person, due to social media and Star Wars Day, to express their affection, which made it just that much more special.
Growing up with Star Wars (though I often recap my love of comic books and superheroes more), Han Solo was the coolest character for me. Roguish, charming, a little bit unethical, but ultimately noble. He wore a slick vest and piloted the best starship in the galaxy. Yet as I got older (and old), I developed more affection for Chewbacca. And not just because I often express myself with roars and grunts too.
I don’t do very well with catch-up projects on TV shows and movies. Oh, I’ll binge through a bunch of episodes if I’m behind on a show. I just finished off the last five episodes of Manifest last week, after NBC renewed it. (That reminds me: Renew The Rookie any time now, ABC.) Up next are Doom Patrol, Arrow and The Flash.
But when it comes to catching up for a refresher, I’m not often successful. For instance, I didn’t rewatch the previous seven seasons of Game of Thrones before Season 8 began. And I won’t have watched all of the Marvel movies again — not even the three Avengers films — before seeing Avengers: Endgame this week.
There are too many TV shows and movies that I haven’t watched to devote that time to stuff I’ve already seen. Killing Eve, for instance. Star Trek: Discovery. The second seasons of Westworld, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. There’s that new Ultraman series on Netflix. That reminds me, I also haven’t watched Season 3 of Queer Eye. There are so many more. Oh, and the show I’m probably most embarrassed never to have watched: Breaking Bad. Yeah, that’s right.
I’ve been wound really tight through most of the past week. This probably won’t surprise those who know me well. I tend to be a seether, to swallow irritation and annoyance until the kettle finally boils and shrieks to let that heat out.
It’s not one of my better character traits; I know that. I constantly need to do a better job of addressing things in the moment or shortly thereafter, rather than letting them build up. I feel like I’m better than I used to be, but when I do finally air my grievances, it can come across as a surprise to the recipient. I didn’t let on that I was feeling that way.
I always think I’m letting displeasure be known, but it probably gets lost under my default surly setting. So there I go, like Anger in Inside Out or Yosemite Sam with guns a-blazin’, if you’ll indulge a much older reference.
Ask me to name my favorite TV shows of all time and Deadwood would be one of the three I list. Yet with each passing year, my memories of the series fade. I could go back any time and watch the show on HBO GO, but haven’t done so. There’s too much other TV to watch now, and I can’t keep with it. Adding an old favorite to the mix would just complicate matters.
But now, Deadwood fans are finally getting the ending we were deprived of 13 years ago. Unfortunately, it won’t be the finale we really wanted. It’s not a full fourth season. It won’t even be the two movies that series creator David Milch and HBO once agreed to. This will be whatever Milch (with the help of True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto) could distill into one two-hour movie which takes places years after we last saw Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, and so many other residents of Deadwood, South Dakota.
My movie calendar is probably way off, but it feels like 2019 is finally beginning at the movies. Oscars season ended almost two weeks ago and Captain Marvel represents the first big blockbuster release of the year. (Sorry, Alita: Battle Angel.) So there’s finally reason to be excited.
Plenty of other films have been released since Jan. 1, and I still need to catch up on a few of them. But it’s also time to write some movie reviews again. I’ve really fallen off during the past few months because I didn’t have an outlet — forgetting that I’ll always have this blog.
So I did write up a review for Captain Marvel, which you can read here. If you’d like an audio version, we also recorded some back-and-forth reaction for the Amusement Park Podcast. I’m hoping this helps me scrape off some rust and gets me back into regularly writing about movies again. More on that with some fun news after the first of this week’s links.
On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we respond to the first half (six episodes) of The Punisher and the Oscar nominations, which include a Best Picture nod for Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being nominated for Best Animated Film. (How many Oscar nominees do you get a chance to see where you live?)
We also dig into what Netflix joining the MPAA means, briefly review Glass, and share what we’re enjoying this week.
Thank you for listening! Please give us a like on our Facebook page to help boost our signal. You can also give us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!
If you grew up snickering at Aquaman while watching Super Friends, it might be difficult to imagine that the man talking to fish and riding sea horses would be the one to save the DC cinematic universe. (Personally, I was grateful to Aquaman for his safety tips warning against the hazards of seaweed wrapping around your legs or getting clothing snagged against pan handles. To my frustration, those clips don’t appear to be available on YouTube.)
OK, Aquaman isn’t a pop culture joke anymore. Not when Jason Momoa is cast as the King of the Seven Seas, portraying a charming lunk who could rip your arms off then enjoy a couple of pints afterwards. As Arthur Curry, he’s far more charismatic and compelling than Henry Cavill as Superman or Ben Affleck as Batman. Had Warner Brothers and DC Films tried to properly establish its core characters, rather than impatiently push its Justice League franchise, perhaps that superhero team-up wouldn’t have been such a flop.
Maybe there is no more DC cinematic universe, in terms of an interconnected series of films that all occupy the same storytelling space. But if DC were to call a mulligan and hide Batman v Superman and Justice League in the cupboard, Aquaman (along with last year’s Wonder Woman) is something that the studio could rebuild its superhero franchise around.
Yet Aquaman is perfectly capable of standing on its own, rather than be a piece of a convoluted puzzle. Director James Wan has built an impressive world around his superhero, creating a spectacle that aspires to the heights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar. However, while its influences are clear, this movie isn’t derivative. Arthur Curry’s journey from reluctant hero to champion might be familiar — a modern-day fable — but Aquaman feels new and exciting, providing visuals that we haven’t seen before.