Why Warner didn’t launch the DC universe before Marvel did?

It’s well known that Warner has mismanaged their DC properties in the past decade. Whereas at Marvel, although having some top properties all over the place, thanks to their own studios, they are the biggest grossing franchise in movie history, having released 14 movies (including Doctor Strange) in 8 years.

Of course, the process got pumped up after Disney acquired them, but why Warner never had faith in doing something similar before, especially considering not having any rights problem?

It’s probably a long answer, that could justify them, at least in part. And we should start this year:

1997 – Where the reason starts

Batman & Robin

First of all, just two character have been properly established on the big screen: Superman and Batman.

Superman movies performed decently back then at box office, but, considering the worldwide popularity of the character, the comparison with Star Wars  was legit, and honestly could have performed more. Not defining them as low-remunerative (especially as the first two were shoot back to back, splitting the production budget in half), but could have been better performing.

Batman, instead, revealed itself to be a box-office sensation for both Burton-directed movies, and be good enough to return the investment for the Joel Shumacher ones, however the infamous Batman & Robin killed the franchise, halting any production of DC-related properties for years. In fact, Tim Burton’s Superman movie never saw the light of the day, due to the high-risk factors of the project (including budget), and decided to produce Wild Wild West instead.

Although that decision seemed stupid, especially considering the very high budget of the steam-punk movie ($170 Million), but, at the same exact time, Will Smith was the hottest rising star in Hollywood, and him and Barry Sonnenfeld just did Men In Black, a Spielberg produced movie (which is always a plus), released that year, with outstanding box office results. When in 1997 that executive at Warner had to make a decision, a Will Smith starred movie was way more bankable than a Superman film.

Plus, there was something else.

Warner at the same time took part in a very risky project, which in 1997 entered pre-production. A project with high investment required… I mean, just take a look at any frame of The Lord Of The Rings to get an idea.

While a cultural phenomenon and iconic piece of literature, like any other high-budget movie the Tolkien adaptation meant high risk. Knowing that most of the resources needed to go towards sets, props, wardrobe, locations and special effects, they didn’t cast any superstar that would have guaranteed a minimum return (none of the cast was as famous as the biggest star at the time, Tom Cruise). As a consequence, although remaining visually faithful to the hardcore audience, they weren’t sure the movie would be as appealing as they probably wished.

On top of that, around the same time Lord Of The Rings was produced, The Matrix was given a chance too, and they decided to acquire the Harry Potter rights to continue the magic trend they would start with middle-earth, which for sure weren’t cheap (the Rowling novels were already big enough to think about a high budget movie) and the first film, which had not many guarantees, would have been also expensive to produce. \

Crazy to think about it, but between Wild Wild WestLord Of The RingsThe Matrix and Harry Potter the most bankable picture was Will Smith’s. The Matrix was the second: slated to have also Smith starring as Neo, he dropped out later and Keanu Reeves would be eventually casted, who, although not as powerful as the prince of Bel-Air, he already starred in action movies like Speed, which were enough to at least keep somewhat of a star power.

Ultimate irony, would, the wester film would be the least successful one.

After all four movie released, Warner would go on to have 3 franchises (two trilogies and one 7, then 8, movie series), which cemented Warner for a lot of years.

Thanks to this movies, the Burbank based studios would remotely considered to do something again with DC related properties. Guess what were the first choices? Batman and Superman.

They would risk it deep. While the supporting characters had some very famous names playing them, Bruce Wayne was played by a yet-to-prove-himself Christian Bale and it was directed by Christopher Nolan, a young independent filmmaker whose movies got some attention.

The movie did good enough at the box-office, and the critics really praised it, so Warner decided to go for a sequel.

On the other hand, Smallville was very big in both US and rest of the world, revaluing the Superman brand once again. This is perhaps the reason they gave the green light to Superman Returns. Even here, they casted a relatively unknown actor, Brendan Routh, to play Clark Kent, and once again they had a relatively known supporting cast; on top of that, it reunited Kevin Spacey with Bryan Singer, who was coming from two X-Men films, both very praised by critics and public. So, on card, was really bankable.

Thing that didn’t come with Returns, which underperformed (didn’t broke even) and the audience didn’t love it, either. So, Superman was dead again. But, at least they had Batman.

Meanwhile, at Marvel…

spiderman2002

Meanwhile, on the other side, Marvel properties were launching the superhero genre. X-Men and Spider-Man were crucial for this kind of movies to take over (although sadly 9/11 has been the psychological push). Fox had the rights for the mutants, while Sony for the wall crawler. The incredible success of those franchises pushed both companies to want more from Marvel, getting Fantastic 4 and Daredevil (Fox), and Ghost Rider (Sony), none of them revealing themselves to be as performing as the ‘original two’. This success made things great for Stan Lee’s company, that, even without having creative control, still got box office percentages.

Which, I guess, made them think to try something on their own: around 2006, Iron Man was announced to hit theaters in May 2008. While announced to be distributed by Paramount, it was actually produced by the newly founded Marvel Studios. The same year, the second Hulk movie, The Incredible Hulk, was hitting theaters one month later. In July, Warner instead would drop the movie that would change movies forever: The Dark Knight.

Anyways, those two Marvel movies would start something that no one would think possible. While Iron Man became a hit way bigger than anyone could predict, Hulk second stint in theaters didn’t go as well. However, in the very last scene of the movie, Tony Stark shows up, revealing for the first time a shared universe (I know, Nick Fury shows up in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, but it wasn’t popular to remain seated once the credits roll).

So, what now?

bvs8

The rest of the story is known: Disney made the Marvel Cinematic Universe the most successful franchise in history, while buying LucasFilm and make Star Wars their own property. For instance, their 2016 releases (ZootopiaJungle Book, and Captain America: Civil Warnot counting Star Wars VII) made already more then $3 billion dollars at box office.

Warner, on the other hand, closed up the Lord Of The Rings/Hobbit and Harry Potter practices, making a couple of Oscar contender (winning the main statue with Argo), now struggling to launch without any drawbacks a new franchise. While George Miller will continue his Mad Max franchise (rightfully so), the Burbank based studio will give a second chance to the very beloved action sci-fi Edge Of Tomorrow, a King Arthur based story directed by Guy Ritchie (with the potential first chapter slated to hit theaters next February), rehashing the Harry Potter franchise with a spin-off which has very little to do with the main story (probably), a King Kong/Godzilla universe, a second go to Pacific Rim and, of course, they are trying to relaunch the DC properties.

Now, clearly Disney created long term franchises. Beyond the MCU, PiratesStar Wars, and the whole live-action adaptations of animated classics are basically endless pits to grab from.

Warner exhausted all the cartridge for their ones, and now find themselves to catch up to Marvel.

Things didn’t started well: Man Of Steel did decent but failed to impress, whereas the year after Jurassic World becomes the third box-office hit of all time with more than $1 billion and a half, Batman v Superman failed to arrive at even $1 billion.

Of course, that underperformance made Warner rethink about a couple of things. As of now, none of the movies that have already released that are part of a franchise reached $1 billion, most of them got to $700 millions really slowly. And that includes Dawn of Justice.

Now, I don’t think they had any idea they would arrive to no active billion dollar franchises at this point. I think that they thought the Wachowskis would greenlit some Matrix sequels/prequels (assuming the sisters have the franchise control in their hands), as I think this, outside the DC universe, is the franchise with the most untouched potential Warner has.

Did they do a mistake to have not focused on the DC universe earlier? Maybe, but a lot of those movies they made (Mad MaxPacific RimEdge of Tomorrow) are awesome, and the movies they did after Batman & Robin… Do we really have to talk about them?

Unfortunately, they didn’t have rights problem with their characters, which would have helped them to establish the universe easier.

My point is, stop bashing on Warner for being late. Sure, I bet annoys them too the fact they arrived to make the universe later (and they could have started it better), but hey, better now than never, and they can solve a lot of problems.

 

NXT to WWE: how they see the process

For some people, one of the most upsetting thing happened in the last months in WWE programming, is how they treated part of NXT talent who jumped into the main roster.

tylerFirst names that come up are Tyler Breeze or Adam Rose, but I would put Bo Dallas in the mix. Although the vast majority has been treated more than decently (Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Enzo and Cass, etc), fans on the various social media are complaining about such thing.

Which, to be honest, is legit ’til a certain point.

We all agree that they way they are treated isn’t 100% the star fault, however, down to NXT, they have a pretty big window of freedom to create their character. If you’ve seen Tough Enough, Breaking Ground or the ESPN:60 documentary on NXT, they kinda seem to show that a big chunk of creative work is left on the talent. Yes, those documentary may be manipulated doing so, but a key to a great superstar in WWE is to arrive to that groundbreaking character almost on your own. So, starting to do so since the developmental territory seems normal and obvious.

One of the key concept of when and how to move talent up or down was to see if it works on NXT. If it works there, promotion to the main roster. If it doesn’t work there, back to Florida to redo the same process. Now, since the arrival of NXT on the network which contributed the brand’s popularity growth, things have slightly changed. Some talents need to stay there longer to keep the legitimacy of the show growing, so perhaps things slowed down a bid.

However, as much as NXT is a WWE show, the whole setting and its still pumped up version of ROH shows. Yes, we have the same scheme regarding camera movement, lighting and creative take that main show use (which is a crucial point in talent developing), but the lack of mainstream viewers, the lack of a bigger setting, makes the entire thing a step behind Raw or SmackDown, independently by the quality of the fights.

That means that not every character/person that works at Full Sails University’s shows would work every Monday. To make a parallelism with the movie industry, actors who are popular in the independent scene or on TV don’t necessarily prove themselves right away in the mainstream movies, it generally takes more time. Of course it ain’t the rule, but if you think that Johnny Depp became mainstream 19 years after he debuted in Nightmare on Elm Street, perhaps a pattern is there. finn

With that, we all knew that characters like Tyler Breeze and Adam Rose would have been nice in the mid-carding for no more then 2-3 months, than they would have disappeared. They are no more than what Fandango is. All this without taking away from their in-ring abilities which they are undeniable, but WWE wants more than that (arguably wants more of other things than that).

And, more in general, characters who made the jump don’t necessarily stay the same. Sami Zayn became more aggressive and the titantron on the main screen shows three dimensional S and Z on a black background, which, rather than the colorful background, it makes it more serious.

Luckily for those characters coming from NJPW, which programming routine is similar to WWE’s, or ROH, they already have an establish character, which could already be popular in NXT audience, which undeniably helps with the more mainstream audience, which helps to get the character over on the internet, which helps to have him get a big pop when the jump will happen.

Yes, it’s a given that when Finn Bàlor will debut he will get that huge pop. Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe will get that reaction too, but those are people who are not really made in WWE. They are independent stars (or more) stars who already have a big name outside Stamford, who literally just need to get used to WWE production.

In the end,

The Jungle Book Review

This was one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Not mainly for the audience (a movie called like a Disney classic hardly will ever fail at box office) but for us filmmakers, who, after skepticism since the announcement of such project, got amazed by the first trailer that we couldn’t wait to watch.

KingLouie.jpgThe Jungle Book is so far the best movie I’ve seen in 2016.

It represents everything a movie should do when it is suppose to take into a totally another world, making you suspending you disbelief and be amazed by what you see, forgetting about your life and making you live the character’s. Which, believe it or not, very few films and filmmakers succeed in doing such thing.

Of course, one of the most important characteristics of the movie is to be groundbreaking. To be more precise, we are talking about something as important as Avatar tech wise, literally opening doors for future productions ’til now consider just impossible. All the animals are expressive and believable, amazingly synched with the voices of the actors. Plus, all the locations look real, and if you think about that the entire thing was shot in downtown LA… Just word comes out: WOW.

That said, the script and story are perfectly made. It’s of course an updated, more complicated and darker version of Disney’s original cartoon, succeeding in making a suitable re-write for live-action for a movie which is almost two hours. Thankfully continuing the trend started last year with Cinderella rather than the one started with Alice In Wonderland and Maleficent. The only things that don’t totally work in the film are King Louis’ song, and, personally, I didn’t find the ending satisfying enough; nevertheless, the amazing craft used for the first one and the very enjoyable writing of the latter probably soften up the problem on such thing. Khan

Another great characteristic of this movie is the re-write, or, better, re-composition of the soundtrack, with the new version of Bare Necessities jumping of the top of every other song. Simply amazing.

We are totally in front of one of the best movies of the year, which, since Avatar and Gravity won such an award, should be nominated for best cinematography, and perhaps a bunch of other categories.

That said, we really saw an amazing story exploding on screen, doing what everyone thought was impossible. It really brought me back to be a kid for those 1 hour and 50 minutes. Pure entertainment, but pure cinema. Jon Favreau takes into a journey that, be certain, you’ll want to take again.

SCORE: 8/10

 

McGregor vs UFC – Why Conor has the upper hand (and WWE is part of the reasons)

It was perhaps the shortest retirement in history of sports.

DanaAs probably most of you who clicked on this post know, Conor McGregor announced his retirement on Twitter, was pulled out of UFC 200 (which is gonna supposedly be the biggest UFC event in history for obvious reasons) hours later, and later he posted a 600+ word Facebook update in which was explaining the reasons behind such attitude — confirming, of course, that he’s not retired.

 

The reasons why he was pulled out of UFC 200 were given by Dana White: Conor didn’t want to partecipate press events in the middle of training. The UFC boss said that refusing to do so means facing immediate consequences.

Now, we all know that Dana White wants to appear like a great business mind, while so obviously suffering inferiority complex because Vince McMahon (we are going to come back to WWE later on). Dana clearly wanted to appear like the boss, the alpha male in this beef. However, we all know that in some case, for business sake, that Alpha Male status must be put a side.

As of now, Conor McGregor is the biggest draw in the UFC, one of the most popular fighters in the world, he literally makes money rain in every event he takes part on, whether they are ratings or PPV buys. Plus, he is a legit fighter who did what very few people in the fighting business, going up in weigh class and be competitive in such.

In few words: Conor is no ordinary fighter, and this kind of personalities must be kept in any way possible, even if means bending some rules. We are talking about a name that con be compared to LeBron James, and I bet the NBA, although there were no reason to do so whatsoever, would bend the rules in case LeBron would do something wrong. And the reason is one and one only: as of now, LeBron is the reason why the NBA is making money, the same way La Liga is making money thanks to Messi; and, obviously, right now the UFC is making money thanks to Conor.

Of course, we are talking about ‘violations’ that are within the decency of moral and athletic limits. Limits which passing on a media conference is within without a doubt, at least for McGregor.

However, like we said, Dana pulled him out from the UFC 200 main event bout against Nate Diaz, which is perhaps the most hyped rematch in the history of UFC. Pull him out has been the most stupid decision White could take. Of course, I bet he will reinstate him, because I don’t think he will be stupid twice in a row.

However, what happen if he won’t? WWE of course, which will probably will be the real reason Dana will put him back in the main event.

As we said before, Dana suffer a severe inferiority complex towards Vince McMahon, for reasons. Given that the model UFC follows is heavily inspired by WWE in terms of programming (they would have a weekly show on TV if they could) as we can see by the trash talking that according to a lot of people is encouraged, the two products are heavily different, yet Dana talked the pro-wrestling business down in multiple occasions. Yes, the media are often forcing the comparison, but that doesn’t justify him talking it down. Of course he re-elaborate whatever he said/wrote with diplomacy. conor

Yet, when he signed CM Punk (which is perhaps the 4th most popular fighter in the UFC roster without having had a single fight yet), he clearly did it to make him spit shit about WWE. This was never officially said, and never will, but come on, we ain’t stupid.

Now, Conor McGregor would be WWE gold. He knows how to talk, he has the look, and would poor money. Him vs Triple H, vs AJ Styler, vs The Rock, vs John Cena, vs The Undertaker, vs Brock Lesnar. All these are sold out shows even if they were one-match only.

Also, differently from the UFC boss, Vince is known to bend the rules for the best of business. Lesnar and Rock have very unique contracts, which, if we want, are not really righteous in regards of the 300+ dates all the other athletes signed on. Rock broke the script in February live on Raw which required a on-spot rewriting of the following segments/matches. Jericho comes and go pretty much when he wants, obviously remaining very professional during that time. The McMahons would not think twice to offer a seven digit contract to McGregor, with perhaps limited appearances a-la-Lesnar, because they know they will make money. All this without considering the major worldwide exposure Conor would gain, which is way superior than the one he gets right now in UFC. If we add up his rather young age (27) compared to the rest of the WWE roster… If you still think Vince and his team are not a threat, you’re just blind.

So, for all this reasons, Conor McGregor has the upper hand, and that’s why Dana is going to reinstate him.

 

Japan, Hollywood & Adapting: how it should happen

It’s this week’s news that a bidding war was happening secretly in Hollywood, and it was suppose to be top secret. The reason why was suppose to stay behind the scene, it’s because we are talking Pokèmon. Right now, three studios are actually active in the bidding: Warner Bros., Sony and Legendary, the latter one said to be very close to win.

Now, this article won’t be about what consequences a Chinese conglomerate (which Legendary is part of) will cause if actually brings home the rights of one of the biggest Japanese properties, which apparently is concerning a lot of outlets (but if business is business no matter what, it shouldn’t be too important). Rather, a personal opinion on how an adaptation of Japanese properties (novel, anime, manga, videogames) should work.

Pokèmon game screenshot

First off, I’ll start saying that I’m not a fan of those adaptations that tend to be super-faithful to the plot and facts that the source material, whatever it is, presents. Because the mentality of being faithful to those things eventually makes you forget the differences between a book/game/cartoon and a movie. What is in it doesn’t necessarily translate properly into the big screen. If you see, the more faithful adaptations are not necessarily the most acclaimed. Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, who basically took the comic book vignettes as story boards, is probably one of the most faithful adaptations ever, with studio driven changes, that, even if we include the ending, are overall minor. What works in the comic book, doesn’t necessarily work in the movie (for example, the funeral of the Comedian is really fast while in the movie is a very long sequence); the biggest problem of this adaptations that the satyrical and social value of the original novel is completely lost, since the influence of Nixon and the cold war mindset by 2007 (year I presume the movies started pre production) were just an old story to tell, ergo we didn’t really care about those. There are rumors that a studio wanted the movie to take place in the George W. Bush era. in this case, although a much more challenging writing, would have gave more chance to the filmmakers to make a version of Alan Moore’s work relevant to our times, giving rather a different take on the material, maintaining it’s core objective of provoking, which is arguably more important than the plot, in this case.

That’s one of the reasons why V For Vendetta worked so much, because, by changing a lot of major things (the protagonist above all) from the original comic book, the Wachowskis-written blockbuster is still relevant nowadays as a thought-provoking film. Anyways, you can check any adaptation (including Lord Of The Rings) and realize that change sometimes is best for the adaptation (flow-wise, and, well, market wise).

Now, after a long digression on how an adaptation should work, let’s go back to the actual point of this article: the arrival of the Japanese properties in Hollywood.

There’s no denial that Japanese anime/manga/games are the next target here in California. Since the superhero scene is held by the triumvirate Warner, Disney and Fox, and the active billion-dollar making franchises are just a few (Marvel, Star Wars, Transformers, Pirates, Fast & Furious), and they are all based on well-known properties, it’s clear that studios are going after anime shows, because they are known, they have a following and their premises are potentially really marketable.

As of now, we have two studios that own major anime properties: Fox owns Dragon Ball (even after the rape-level movie they released in 2009), while Lionsgate owns Naruto. Yes, technically Warner owns both All You Need Is Kill, whose adaptation was released under the name Edge Of Tomorrow (I know, the origin

al name is so much cooler), and Godzilla, but the first is a graphic novel (adapted from a novel) and the latter was a movie already, so it required a minor adaptation. Also, Sony owns Metal Gear Solid, of which since the announcement with Kojima doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

For instance, Dragon Ball is probably the most popular anime property in the world. Nowadays, after 32 years since its manga debut (30 for TV), is probably a half a billion worth franchise, and potentially bringing it up a billion with proper work towards a live action film series. However,

Seriously: this design can't work in live action.
Seriously: as much as we love it, this design can’t work in live action.

adapting Dragon Ball is tricky. Firstly, it visually requires a lot of restyling, which equals of a realistic time of pre-production and pre-visualization of no less than 3 years to do it properly; all the creatures, characters and environments needs to be re-planned an redone by giving a proper amount of time (including hairstyles, especially hairstyles) in order to make them suitable for a worldwide audience to see on a big screen. Secondly, due to the overwhelming popularity of Z over the original series and giving for granted that the studio would want more adult Goku than young Goku right away, the introduction of the world and the character(s) set up needs to be re-written. All of this wasn’t in mind of Fox when they did the horrible movie, I guess it was done to renew the rights (they had them since 2003). That said, all of this work is necessary if the studio wants to make Dragon Ball a saga in to a Star Wars style series (and the potential is there). Funny enough, the fighting sequences are not a problem: the ending fights of both Matrix Revolutions and Man Of Steel state that is possible.

Naruto, on the other hand, could be a easier adaptation to work on, as its original series was quite popular as well. Given that, it still requires a re-visualization as a re-write; not as much as Dragon Ball, but no less important. The best way to approach the Ninja world, personally, would be Harry Potter style: as we stated the original series popularity before, a movie series where we see the character grow up could perfectly work for the franchise. Also, would give longevity, perhaps making the plot adaptation more fluent.

The plot, in both cases, is a really tricky problem. To start with, both manga and anime are long form narrations: 52 episodes year-round for anime in Japan, and 52-chapter year round for manga, in both cases released weekly. To make things clear, the entire Dragon Ball Z anime consist of 291 episodes, 444 episodes if we count the original series too, which would go over if we count the Super and the apparently no-more canonical GT series. And differently from the longest US TV series The Simpsons (technically the longest is WWE Raw, but it has multiple storyline, which anyways end within 2 to 3 months from their start, and it’s live) which has aired more then 500 episodes without a continuous storyline, anime shows have a continuous story of which a great number of episodes (I would say 90%) is necessary to keep understand what’s going on. Naruto, on the other hand, simply eclipsed that number. All this to simply say that us western people consider American TV Series with 24 episode a season a long form narrative. Compared to anime, that’s short.

Another thing to keep in mind is that no Anime is made with the idea of being exported. Japanese culture doesn’t work like this. Dragon Ball became popular probably due to the similarities with Supermanand its violence (Attitude Era wrestling was making huge ratings on TV during that time), Naruto shares some features with the Toriyama series, from characters to fights.

'Edge Of Tomorrow' is arguably one of the most succesful adaptation ever.
‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ is arguably one of the most succesful adaptation ever.

Very few video games are made with the international audience concept in mind. Final FantasyMetal Gear Solid and Pokèmon are probably the only ones that are specifically to be also exported.

That said, the Pokèmon adaptation needs just a visual work, plot wise is basically a free pass. The anime was cool at the time, but the games are what made the property important, and those have no real story. Potentially, Lionsgate could get their hands on a Transformers-style franchise.

Regarding Metal Gear Solid, the story is an hybrid between a western story and a Japanese story. Visual elements from both cultures are present into the plot, the trick here would actually be to decide how to approach the property. Kojima was attached to supervise the project, but since he divorced form Konami and consequently from the video game franchise I don’t know if he still there.

I guess all this interest for Japanese properties came because of two movies.

The first, Pacific Rim: without being an actual adaptation of any property, Del Toro wisely took elements of the kaiju culture and some anime features (Neon Genesis Evangelion was a clear reference for the Jaeger design) to bring his epic to life. What made the big difference was the good amount of time for pre-production.

The second one, obviouslyis Edge Of Tomorrow. After reading All You Need Is Kill, you can see major changes have been made. The setting was completely westernized, and the creature/world design was obviously westernized too. However, the core of the story is there, and it’s one of the most beloved movies in the last 3 years. In fact, despite a not at all exciting box office run (which was barely enough for the movie to break even), it’s getting a sequel thanks to it’s fan following and appreciation. Not something executives in Hollywood won’t notice

That said, Edge Of Tomorrow may bring some complications to the most purists fans, which we can see already in the Ghost In The Shell adaptation. Since the westernization of the movie worked so well, we are gonna see it in every movie based on a Japanese property. And of course will start from the casting. Tom Cruise for All You Need Is Kill, Scarlett Johansson for Ghost In The Shell, Nat Wolfe for Death Note. All of the movies of course will get different settings, meaning most likely the movies won’t take place in Japan, but in the US. Even the long gestated Akira adaptation is rumored to take place in Neo New York, rather then the original’s Neo Tokyo.

'Naruto' is in the hands of Lionsgate. Western casting coming?
‘Naruto’ is in the hands of Lionsgate. Western casting coming?

Now, even if you don’t like the idea, people should need to approach this realistically: this movies, in order to be properly adapted, need a very high budget. We are talking about $150 millions at least, except Death Note, which could get away with $25/30 million budget due to it’s minimalistic concept. All the others need a huge budget, and, in order to go profit, studios and investors will want big names to bank on. Meaning star power, which means american/British actors, which of course means different settings unless you go for a ‘I moved out of my country’ story. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t means it’s not a well done adaptation. And if you think I’m justifying white-washing, I’d rather define it as an explanation for it.

A lot of people, though, would argue that a lot of manga/anime characters don’t look asian, rather western. This is a very interesting point, which is complicated and not at the same time. While the drawings don’t always represent asian physiognomy (at least in those like Dragon Ball or Naruto), it’s not required to do so. One of the important points made by fans online, who most of them have studied, either for hobby, passion or more, the culture, Japanese people assume those drawings represents asian people because for them the asian physical features is the standard. And it’s not a racist thing, is just the truth. For us, those drawings represent caucasian people because for us that’s the standard, those are the features we are exposed since we were born. Same things happened to them. So, yeah, they are technically still representing asian people. At the same time, though, for movies like Dragon Ball, Pokèmon and Naruto, which all take place in fictional worlds, the idea of race can be cheated out easily.

As much as an utopia, especially considering proper pre-production when most studios are eager to make money right away, but if they want a proper adaptation to base on a franchise, they should follow this mindset.

Media Centers – The best alternatives for a personal Netflix and Spotify

So everyone is into Netflix and similar thing nowadays. Pay 7,99$ a month (sooner $1 more expensive), a couple of bucks more for a 4K experience, et voilà, you have a big fat library of movies and TV series ready to be streamed directly on you screen.

Some people though complain about the actual quality of the library compared to the library we already own. Let’s be honest, a lot of us have a huge multimedia library, independently from how we reached to that material.

Plex interface on PS4
Plex interface on PS4

For example, I own a huge amount of Blu-Rays. I’m talking more the 450 titles. I used to have an app to catalogue them, but I stopped in 2013 when i moved to LA, and back then we were talking about 453 titles (thanks to the ridiculously huge deal the BlockBuster shutdown gave us).

One thing that ALWAYS bugged me is the impossibility of having those titles always with me, especialy since the digital copies are either region locked or they are not there at all. Now, I can’t bring my collection here yet due to economical reason, so I looked around for alternatives, and luckily, thanks DLNA/UPnP technology, what I want to do is way more then just possible.

Although there are a lot of ways to achieve these. Some easier, some less, but all of them are right to give it a try.

Before starting what you need to know is this: all of them need a working terminal (Server, NAS, Computer) to make available the media wherever you are in the world (depending on your connection of course), and, if you want to access the media directly from a Computer, you don’t really need any app. However, if you want to use the media on any other device that realistically doesn’t support a full functioning version of VLC (talking to you iPad), you either make sure the file is already compatible with the device (.mp4 and H264 is standardly compatible with most of devices but not necessarily the best quality).

WD MyCloud is probably the most user-friendly NAS out there
WD MyCloud is probably the most user-friendly NAS out there

In case though you don’t want to convert your stuff, you have to look into clients/apps that make your library compatible with any device, since it works real time.

Honestly there are a lot of alternatives, however just two are really user friendly, with a relatively automatic media organizer and metadata, support encoding on-the-fly (to make it compatible with any device you want to access it with) and that actually can be installed on NAS/Servers.

This two apps are Plex and Emby. Both of them do the same exact work, however I’ll talk more about Plex, since it’s the one I’m the most familiar with, and the one that supports the most devices.

Plex has apps for any system except PS3, and it natively works on NAS hard drives, including Western Digital MyCloud series (which is probably the most user friendly NAS out there).

Although I still haven’t run it on a NAS, I ran it on my Mac and my other PC. The fact is that is the library building is dumb proof, if you are minimally organized with your files. It will ask which kind of library you want to build, to organize the files with proper metadata, so each type of media. So, yes, Music, TV, Movie and Photos will need to build a different library, so a different folder two. Secondly, will ask you how to name it. And your work is done. It’s listed and closed to be ready to go (you’ll have to wait some minutes depending on how big your library is).

The metadata will download poster, synopsis (in case of TV series will download a synopsis for every episode), for music will download art cover. In case you file has a weird name but still the name of the movie is there (like Transformers.Revenge.Of.The.Fallen-D1) like some softwares name the movies when they rip-it, you won’t need to rename it. Plex will automatically rename it.

Basically you’ll have your own personal Netflix (with movies you actually watch) and Spotify (with music you actually listen to).

Emby interface on Xbox One
Emby interface on Xbox One

Emby has the same features I suppose, but doesn’t support PS4 (you can access the library through the Media Player app, though won’t take advantage of the on the fly encoding).

Both of them though look exactly like Netflix/Spotify when you look into the libraries. The loading times depend a lot on the quality of you connection, and the speed of the hard drives I think.

Of course there are downsides. The application on the NAS/Computer could crash any moment, making it tricky to restart it from remote, and of course the quality depends on your hard drive speed and Internet connection like said before. If you plan to access the library regularly, you better have a good Internet, with obviously a stable Wi-Fi too in the receiving end (Ethernet connection is always better though).

So, yes, if you are like me who actually loves to get their collection everywhere, this could interest you as much as it did to me.

PS: I have to highlight that copying a Blu-Ray/DVD on your own to make a digital copy out of it equals to hack the copy protection present on the disk, ergo means committing a crime. I’m not encouraging to do this, but, if you want to do it, just don’t share it.

Retro Review – Men, Women & Children

Men, Women and Children – Retro Review

Note: I’m starting this series where I review movies one year or later since they theatrical release. Probably gives me more material to talk about.

This is a movie I was always interested into watching this movie since a very long time. Never found the time. And I honestly forgot about it, but then I entered an argument whether or not Adam Sandler is a good actor, and it reminded me of this being potentially a point in my favor.

Then I noticed that it was on Amazon Prime Instant, and I pressed play almost instantly (see, see the joke?).

***SUNDAY CALENDAR SNEAKS STORY FOR SEPTEMBER 7, 2014. DO NOT USE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION********** Left to right: Rosemarie DeWitt plays Helen Truby and Adam Sandler plays Don Truby in the movie MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, from Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush Productions.

Anyways, Men, Women and Children offers a very interesting, competent and totally believable point of view in the relationships of adults and teenagers during the social media era, proving the similarities and differences between the two groups, and, less explicitly the similarities and differences with the older times (aka no-internet era).

First of all, the performances are all high level. I think Jennifer Garner’s character is the best ‘villain’ I’ve ever seen in any movie (really, you hate her), and Adam Sander proved me right, he still a good actor (when he wants). Also all the teenagers proved themselves very good in their roles.

However, the movie doesn’t completely work, it has a lot of hit or miss moments.

To start, we have way too many storylines, all of which are introduced amazingly. The problems are established right away, the characters too, and in a jiff we care about them. This is great filmmaking and writing.

However, just a few of these storylines come to a proper conclusion. As I must say, the only ones that have a satisfying ending are the Adam Sandler and Ansel Elgort ones, which ends the Jennifer Garner and his daughter story in part. Which is just three out of seven. All the others are left without conclusion. The skinny blonde teenager isn’t quite closed, she still on the verge to be anorexic, and she still hasn’t solved with his father; the Adam Sandler’s son story doesn’t go anywhere; the girl who has a softcore website doesn’t solve the pMEN, WOMEN & CHILDRENroblems with her mother, who doesn’t really do anything with her lover (Ansel Egort’s father).

I know that solving problems doesn’t mean the movie isn’t going anywhere (Prometheus is a proof of that), but it still should go somewhere, have a closure, to give it a meaning. Because this movie not only needs to have a meaning, but it wants to have one because of the premises it has. Yes, the Jennifer Garner’s character provides some, but the others arrive to the point of being just ‘be more understanding’ or ‘be a better mom’. But these are messages in tons of other movies, this movie should have had more.

In the end, is a movie that all parents should watch, since for sure will make them think. But definitely, this movie could have been much more.

SCORE: 6.5/10

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