This Week In Pop Culture (7/28/17)

7/28/2017: The Emoji Movie Finally Broke Critics

By Lydia Bugg

Congratulations are due to The Emoji Movie today. Not for its plot, its characters, or for being a decent movie in any conceivable way. The Emoji Movie has transcended cinema. It’s not just a movie; it’s become a piece of performance art wherein the audience gets to watch the light slowly die in the eyes of the movie critics who had to see it.

Take, for instance, this review from The Guardian, which reads: “A viewer leaves The Emoji Movie a colder person, not only angry at the film for being unconscionably bad, but resentful of it for making them feel angry.” The man who wrote that sentence is not OK. He is going to need all the support he can get from his loved ones, and perhaps his favorite childhood toy to get him through the night.

Jordan Hoffman of The New York Daily News concluded his review with: “Sadly market saturation will prevent this from being the [bomb emoji] it ought to be — so get ready for “The Fidget Spinner Movie” or some other [poop emoji].” If that doesn’t sound like a man who’s completely lost his faith in the American public, I don’t know what does. His use of emojis throughout the article are as much a sign of Stockholm’s syndrome as they are a sign he wanted to finish the review as quickly as possible and move on with his life.

In fact, I believe that’s how most of the critics felt when reviewing this movie. No one was sitting down to write a scathing, angry rant — they all just sound so, so tired. The AP, Common Sense Media, and The LA Times, all used the word “meh” in their reviews. These people work for some of the largest media companies in the world. They can think of a word other than “meh,” but spending the time to do that means spending 30 more goddamn seconds thinking about The Emoji Movie, and they are not going to let that happen to them.

There are a few critics out there with at least a little bit of fight left in them. Brian Orndorf of Blu-ray.com managed: “A soulless endeavor and a painful viewing experience. Your kids deserve better.” These are the brave soldiers of The Emoji Movie; those who made it out the other end, mostly intact and able to write a full review instead of just an elongated sigh.

I think part of the reason this one was so tough for critics was that the collective groan the world let out when The Emoji Movie was announced turned around at some point to a hopeful feeling. No one was especially hyped for The Lego Movie at first, and it turned out to be great. The casting decisions sounded good. If Patrick Stewart and T.J. Miller signed on to it, it must at least be OK, right? Seeing the actual movie was like a having a cold bucket of water dumped over their birthday cake in lieu of blowing out the candles. Now they can’t unsee what they have seen, and they are mentally scarred. Wherever you are today, pour one out for your local movie critics. If you see one in the street, tell them you appreciate them. Maybe give them a hug if they’ll let you. But as you gaze into their broken, hollow eyes, feel not pity but fear. If you see this movie, a similar fate may await.

7/26/2017: John Wick Is Getting A Spinoff! Sort Of! Maybe!

By Daniel Dockery

In 2014, we encountered John Wick, a movie in which Keanu Reeves shoots at bad guys. And in the event that he can’t shoot at a bad guy, he breaks that bad guy’s body parts. He does this with intense gusto, and audiences around my apartment and the world applauded him. Keanu Reeves had spent years dwelling in the pit of “Well, he’s been in a few good movies, but …” But now we could lift him out of there, throw him onto our shoulders, and parade him around town. All hail Keanu. He will lead us to the promised land.

And then John Wick: Chapter 2 came out, offered to us by angels and Summit Entertainment, and it was also so, so good. To think that the first John Wick had been nothing but a pleasant appetizer would’ve seemed absurd in 2014. “Obviously, this is the peak of humanity,” Barack Obama said just after viewing John Wick. BUT LO, John Wick: Chapter 2 improved on its predecessor. If my home ever catches on fire, I will grab my John Wick Blu-rays and somersault out the window in tribute to John Wick. “Help us put out the fire!” my neighbors will shriek. “Why?” I’ll say. “I already have all that I’ll need.”

And then headlines popped up on my favorite movie news sites. Things like JOHN WICK SPINOFF” and JOHN WICK UNIVERSE.” I popped champagne in my office, which ruined my laptop, but you can’t care about material possessions in times like this (unless those possessions are John Wick 1 and 2, now on Blu-ray.) But then I read further, and as it turns out, this John Wick spinoff was just a script. A script that Lionsgate had won in a bidding war. An action script about an awesome assassin who is not John Wick and, at this time, doesn’t really have any relation to John Wick.

The script is called Ballerina, and trust me, I really wanna see Ballerina come to fruition. Films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde have hopefully started a trend wherein we can see female-led action movies way more frequently than we used to. But please, can we only announce a John Wick spinoff when we know that it’s going to be a John Wick spinoff?

I’m used to the things that I love letting me down. Every day, Marvel and DC announce that they might be making a movie with the characters that I’ve loved for years. Recently, it was announced that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was in “negotiations” with Warner Bros about doing a sequel to Wonder Woman, when the headline should’ve logically read “Patty Jenkins Directs Best DC Film Since The Dark Knight. She Gets Anything She Wants.” These things make me sad, because Hollywood is a place where dreams are made. And it’s also a place where dreams are announced, and then no one does anything with those dreams for a looong time.

John Wick is too young for this. He’s just a little baby franchise, and I don’t want to get cynical about Keanu, sitting in his cinematic crib, snapping every bone within arm’s length. So please, let’s just wait until something is certain. And until then, we can rewatch John Wick: Chapter 2. Have you seen it? It’s pretty damn great.

7/25/2017: Superman’s Mustache Is Getting Digitally Erased

By Lydia Bugg

Justice League has hit a snafu. Warner Bros. is shelling out a staggering $25 million for Justice League reshoots in hopes to “adjust the tone” of the film to be more like Wonder Woman — that is, something people would actually enjoy watching. These reshoots are taking place far after the original shooting, which wrapped nine months ago.

In the time since, Henry Cavill was contractually obligated to grow a rockin’ mustache for his role in Mission: Impossible 6. Warner Bros. absolutely cannot deal with a mustachioed Superman, and Paramount apparently has a fever, and the only cure is a full, healthy, mustache. We at Cracked like to imagine that the two companies had to sit down for what can only be described as mustache negotiations.

“Why can’t you just have him reading a newspaper, or peeping over a fence in every scene? Add a little bit of a sense of mystery to Superman?” Paramount must have said.

“Why can’t you just use a fake mustache?” Warner Bros. replied.

“NEVER!” Paramount screeched, as they slammed their hands on the conference table so hard that it broke in two. “That mustache is the character. That mustache saves the world. That mustache is replacing Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 7 — The Impossiblest Mission!”

Warner Bros., both mystified and terrified by Paramount’s passion for authentic facial hair, decided the only solution was to digitally remove Cavill’s mustache in every single newly shot scene. How much do you think that added to the special effects budget? I feel really sorry of the poor CGI guy who had the job of making awesome monsters and crumbling buildings, but now he’s spending the next three months starring at Henry Cavill’s upper lip.

Or maybe there is a Hollywood “mustache guy” who specializes in this kind of thing. If they can take the mustache off of Henry Cavill, couldn’t they put it on another actor? Oh my god, you guys, does Tom Selleck even have a mustache? What other stars might be rocking a full handlebar and we’re not even aware? I’m looking at you, Helen Mirren.

As usual, Hollywood has found a multi-million-dollar solution to a problem that could easily be solved by a Mach 3 razor. I’m going to be so pissed if Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth gets cut out of Justice League because they went way over their mustache budget.

I for one would be 100 percent on board for Mustache Superman. He’s been dead. Can’t the man let himself go a little bit? Maybe instead of being dead, he’s been in Williamsburg drinking craft beer and restoring antique bicycles. Hipster Superman could be cool. In that case, he might need to grow even more of a mustache. Or they could just keep the same mustache guy they have, but instead of taking it out, he digitally enhances the mustaches in order to get those full, curly tips. Can we digitally put a top hat and steampunk vest on Superman as well? I really think this could work, you guys. Fingers crossed for hipster mustache Superman.

7/24/2017: Comic-Con Wants You To Die In A Flood Of Trailers

By Luis Prada

Comic-Con doesn’t give a shit anymore. It’s done playing nice. It used to be a fun fan fest, but now it’s an unrelenting pop cultural blitzkrieg of trailers that none of us — NONE — are emotionally or psychologically prepared to handle. The annual pummeling we receive is the price we must pay to make all of our childhood nerd dreams come true.

Childhood you wanted to see a Justice League movie? Well gird your puny shriveled loins, you idiot, because here’s four-minute Justice League trailer. And because they want to bury you beneath a mountain of the things you ask for, here’s a Flash movie based on the “Flashpoint” story arc. You know what that means: MASSIVELY CONVOLUTED ALTERNATE TIMELINES AND “WHAT IF?” SCENARIOS ARE COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN, AND YOU BETTER NOT COMPLAIN BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED AND YOU WILL DIE BENEATH IT.

You wanted an Avengers movie? Well, you got two already, and now here’s blurry camera phone footage of the footage of the third one that was filmed from an angle so bad I have to assume the person who shot it incidentally filmed the trailer as he was trying to get upskirt shots. And you’re such a junkie that you’ll suck down that wad of horrendous camera work and ask for more.

They know you’ll take any little morsel you can get, so the keepers of our pop cultural addictions will degrade you, reducing to something less than human. Instead of releasing the footage of Black Panther shown during the panel, they give you the cast of Black Panther reacting to the footage of Black Panther. Oh, and in case you still have one nerve ending left undamaged and still twitching, here’s another trailer for Thor: Ragnarok that is an exhausting and overwhelming assault on your senses by itself.

And you know what, you little shits? Like a typhoon crashing down and laying waste to a city, killing thousands, here’s the trailer for The Defenders. And here’s another trailer for The Defenders, but this time it’s narrated by and starring Stan Lee for reasons that make perfect sense when you consider shutting the fuck up, opening your supple mouth, and taking in the funnel so they can fatten you up like a delicious foie gras goose.

Comic-Con is wise. It knows you have a high tolerance for such an onslaught of trailers. So this year it performed a coup de grace to make sure it knocked your dumb ass into a pop culture coma. You like all this nerdy stuff? Well, here’s the trailer for the second season of Stranger Things, a show that’s one pop culture reference after another, and then here’s the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, a book and now a movie that’s nothing but one pop culture reference after another.

The message of this year’s Comic Con was loud, clear, and violent: Choke on the things you love, you lowly dipshits. Choke.

For more, check out This Week In Pop Culture (7/21/2017) and What Stupid Thing Is Trending Now? (7/23/2017).

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