TV Review: Wednesday

STORY

Wednesday Addams punishes the boys in the school who bullies her brother Pugsley Addams. As a consequence, she is expelled. The concerned parents admit her to the Nevermore Academy, a school for the monstrous outcasts where they studied but were accused of a crime scene. Incidentally, the event recirculates with Wednesday’s admission when a creature begins to take lives and she uses her psychic instincts to solve the mystery.


ORIGINS

The Addams Family was neither a novel nor did it start as an amination show but the gag cartoons that were published in The New Yorker from 1938 until the 1950s. All the characters were unnamed until the 1964 television show ‘The Addams Family‘.


PRODUCTION

Wednesday hampers a toolbox that was decorated for Tim Burton to utilize when his turn comes to work on the project. The Addams Family and Tim Burton crossed paths but never joined hands which was a sad chapter just like Leo Messi was not lifting the World Cup before it finally happened.

Back in 1991, when Tim Burton was focused on directing Batman Returns, he was approached to work on The Addams Family. He passed on the project due to scheduling conflicts and The Addams Family and its sequel were produced establishing cult status with the audience.

20 years later, Tim Burton was planning to write and direct The Addams Family film, perhaps a reboot, but got canceled due to creative differences with the producers. Then Miles Millar and Alfred Gough acquired the rights, wrote the pilot, and forwarded it to Burton. He became interested and joined them.

It took thirty years for Tim Burton to work and complete a project that looks to me to be the most fitting project he ever happened to work on before. It was a love story that was waiting for its romantic moment to bring the two together.

When the strings are pulled rightly, there is every chance of playing the right notes. Producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough are well known for creating ‘Smallville‘. Tim Burton has the reputation for many excellent Gothic fantasies. And then his decades-old collaboration with the musician Danny Elfman, the musical notes that ideally fit in Tim Burton films.


CASTING

Wednesday. (L to R) Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Adams, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Issac Ordonez as Pugsley Addams in Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

With Tim Burton on the director chair, I would have loved to see Morticia and Gomez Addams played by Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia and more particularly Luis Guzmán as Gomez were quite interesting choices. I felt that spark was missing between the two which was quite a thing between Raul Julia and Angelica Huston in those two films. But here, Catherine and Luis looked pretty odd together.

Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester was an imposing choice. Christopher Lloyd‘s Uncle Fester was character-driven and someone on whom the story was centered around. In a quite different setting, this Uncle Fester was more jolly and exciting. I want to see more appearances in the next season. It was a pleasure to watch Christina Ricci in the show who was Wednesday Addams in the films.

My kudos to whoever decided to give the titular role to Jenna Ortega. This has to be the best-ever casting of Wednesday Addams to date. Let me tell you how I think that Jenna did this role better than Christina.

Christina’s Wednesday lacked the body language of a melancholic personality that defines Wednesday. Plus, the writing of her character in the film didn’t guarantee any growth. Wednesday being the center stage of the plot and a tv series of eight episodes at stretch, Jenna had enough time to grow as Wednesday and answer all our questions that were related to her character that was visibly missing in the films.


WHY WEDNESDAY? WHY NOT ADDAMS FAMILY?

I will continue my point about Jenna’s Wednesday because this leads to a whole new level of storytelling. The films heavily focused on couples as well as Uncle Fester but not children. When my generation watched these films back in the 1990s, we had this feeling about the girl that her side of the story didn’t make rounds and that had a lot of potential to grow due to her sadistic personality. I felt the writers of the films missed the chance.

But this chance was smartly grabbed by Millar and Gough with the creme of the plot centralizing the hows and whys of Wednesday’s character. And this is why her parents were almost out of the frame.

The makers installed the character of Enid Sinclair who struggles to befriend Wednesday and there develops a strange bond between a cheerful roommate and a morosely black soul. The makers also built a rigid mother-daughter relationship. The screenwriting of the show also restricted the fan-favorite Uncle Fester’s character to a very brief appearance. Convincing the audience to stick with Wednesday without Fester is a win.


DANCE

Of course, I have to mention that iconic dance in my assessment. A dance that was actually shot with Goo Goo Muck by the gothic rock legends ‘The Cramps‘ playing in the background but the TikTokers perfectly remixed the dance video with Lady Gaga‘s Bloody Mary and is now called a TikTok Remix of Wednesday Dance. Jenna choreographed the dance herself and the most astonishing fact about the dance is that the dance steps pulled the right strings of Wednesday Addam’s cold-blooded personality. The dance visibly reflected her oddness.

In one of her tweets, Jenna confirmed that gothic rock legends Siouxie Sioux and Lene Lovich, actor Denis Lavant, first Wednesday actress Lisa Loring, and the dance number from Sweet Charity called The Rich Man’s Frug by Bob Fosse were the inspirations behind this dance.


CLOSING REMARKS

I felt that the finale lost control of the pace and hurriedly strove to a conclusion. But in any case, there is a lot to happen in the future seasons. I really want to watch Grandmama and Cousin Itt.

I have read that Wednesday and Enid may develop a romance in the next season. This is totally out of a syllabus stunt. A girl like Wednesday who lacks emotions and has zero-match with the completely opposite Enid, goes 360 and they become lovers, is not so Wednesday we know of.

Whatever happened to something called friendship? Why cannot the writers try to bring both of them in a bond where they find common grounds to somehow live through. Befriending has been a struggle so far so better to focus on friendship.

Wednesday is highly recommended to the fans of Goth culture and The Addams Family. The films and this show cannot be compared at all. They have different vibes and aesthetics on which different stories have been presented to us.

Wednesday has a lot of adventures or misadventures to excite us. I hope to see a Stranger Things kind of excellent follow-up of the show.



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Comic Book Review: Black Adam – World War III

In the 52 limited series that occurred between 2006 and 2007, Black Adam lost his closest members of the family when his brother-in-law Osiris and his wife Isis were killed. The tragedy was so devastating that Black Adam put the blame on everyone and began to kill the human race and fight against superheroes. To stop the madness, countless superheroes of the Justice Society of America and the Justice League along with Teen Titans, and Doom Patrol assemble to take on Black Adam.

World War III is a four-issue limited series that gives the readers a clear thought about how powerful the ruler of Kahndaq is and what it means to be an antihero in the storyline. Again, the story inclines towards the emotional side of Black Adam that gives the impression of the superheroes fighting for the wrong cause whereas the case is different.

I am very impressed with the writing of this story. Keith Champagne wrote the first two issues, and John Ostrander wrote the final two. Ostrander is a comic book veteran and is well-known for writing a DC crossover series – Legends, introducing to us a bad-ass woman who heads A.R.G.U.S.Amanda Waller, and creating a very popular identity and alter-ego for Barbara GordonOracle.

A different artist was involved in each issue for penciling and inking. But that didn’t drop the reading enthusiasm or my mood of looking at the graphics at all. The whole story is shaped with a hard-hitting vision that emphasizes the wrath and the fury of Black Adam through those drawings. Especially when all the superheroes are about to attack Black Adam.

Martian Manhunter commentates in most of the segments and gives the readers a fair share of recognizing how powerful his appearance can be. He repeatedly proved in the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) that the Justice League is incomplete without him. And here, where Black Adam knocked most of the superheroes, Martian Manhunter gave him the toughest time.

Black Adam film is not based on World War III events and you do not need to read this book before watching the film if you still haven’t watched it. This book is recommended to those who really want to understand how powerful is Black Adam. 

The storyline of ‘Black Adam – The Dark Age‘ happens immediately after this.


FREE DOWNLOADS 

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SUPPORTING VIDEO

If anyone wishes to go deeper into the pages of this storyline, you can watch this video for a broader explanation.


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Film Review: Black Adam (2022)

STORY

After sleeping for five thousand years, Teth Adam returns as the savior of his nation Kahndaq from the crime syndicate called ‘Intergang‘.

When his wrath on the cruelty results in casualties, Amanda Waller alarms Hawkman to look after the matter before the consequences turn worse. Hawkman assembles the Justice Society (JSA) and therefore begins a clash of antiheroism between the rights and wrongs occurring in Kahndaq.

Black Adam is finally released after years of speculation and theorizing the certainties of how to connect the dots with this film to the entire DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Being one of the most awaited films from Warner Bros. and DC Comics, Dwayne Johnson left no space to hype his most promising project to date.


COMICS

Not off-topic but the Black Adam film tries to stay in touch with comic roots but not accurately. But it is necessary to speak about a few points that I observed in the film.

Isn’t Black Adam a JSA member?

Yes, it is true that Black Adam was not a part of JSA. He became a JSA member pretty late. If I am not wrong, he wasn’t a part of JSA in the golden, silver, and bronze ages. He became JSA in 2001, even after heroes like Black Canary, Stargirl, and Hawkgirl.

Justice Society of America

Justice Society of America is the first-ever team of superheroes that was introduced in the history of comic books. Editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox came up with this idea and introduced it in the third issue of the All-Star Comics back in 1940, during the great war.

The founding members of that JSA were easily the super-strongest force of superheroes ever assembled for decades. They were Hawkman and Doctor Fate (as dramatized in the film) along with Hourman, The Spectre, Alan Scott‘s Green Lantern, Jay Garrick‘s The Flash, The Atom, and The Sandman.

Al Fonzie

It is amusing to see that Atom Smasher was the nephew of the original Atom Smasher played by our beloved Fonzie, Henry Winkler in a cameo. Henry’s character Al Pratt is The Atom and as mentioned before, one of JSA’s founding members. Worth observing is that Doctor Fate and The Atom are old and hence represent the golden generation of JSA.

The Hunkels

While Cyclone requests an entry permit at the gate, a few of you may happen to notice the screen outside the gate showing up her data. Yes, she indeed is the relative, the granddaughter of Abigail Hunkel a.k.a, Red Tornado. This also means that Red Tornado was also part of the golden team of JSA.

The screen also indicates that Cyclone is a very intelligent student. In comics, she is a student of Harvard University and has a slightly different but still mindblowing score of 4.0 GPA and 1300 SAT.

Character Alteration

The freedom fighter in the film Adrianna Tomaz is a disappointing character alteration. In comics, she actually is Black Adam’s wife Isis and she has a major role in Black Adam’s life as she dies and Black Adam in fury begins to kill the entire human race in the World War III storyline.

Intergang

Kahndaq in the present day is oppressed and occupied by the international mercenaries called ‘Intergang‘. Now, what is Intergang?

Intergang in comics is a crime syndicate that was run by the Mannheims (Boss and his son Ugly) and the Edges (Vincent and his son Morgan). The organization was armed with advanced technology supplied by the New Gods of the planet Apokolips. Yes, Darkseid was the benefactor who was using the organization to disinter the anti-life equation.

Possibility

Now understand the scenario; by the end of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Darkseid’s quest for the anti-life equation continues. Superman flies away. Perhaps Amanda Waller approached him after Suicide Squad‘s project Starro, Peacemaker‘s project Butterfly, and meeting Shazam to reach Kahndaq after the Justice Society failed Amanda. Black Adam’s crusade against the Intergang will run until the news reaches one of Darkseid’s elite.

Here, I am really hoping that Darkseid is not the benefactor of the Intergang just like in comics. Because if DCEU shows his planet supplying arms and technologies to them then how come Darkseid is unable to trace down where the planet earth is? That will be the biggest plothole ever.


PLUSES

The CGI and action sequences are impressive. I loved the fighting between Black Adam and Hawkman/Doctor Fate. Aldis Hodge as Hawkman and Pierce Brosnan as Fate were the best performers in the film. They were heavily suited to the roles and did justice.

The costumes in the film were close to perfection. Even if comic books had a little different idea, it was equally exciting observing the heroes in these costumes.

The mid-credit scene of Superman’s arrival to face Black Adam definitely is exhilarating and the audience expects more from here. Honestly, if I was in Amanda’s position, I would rather send Shazam to Black Adam, not Superman.


MINUSES

Black Adam held a lot of importance for an ever-collapsing DCEU to boost financial expectations, and critical acclaim, and make the film acceptable to the audience. But once again, neither critics accepted nor the audience in majority held the film in supreme compliment like they usually do for Marvel releases.

At a budget of over $200 million, the film has done a global business of only $389.2 million until 13th December which is a sheer disappointment, I assume not even break-in. Wakanda Forever, which was released three weeks after Black Adam has grossed $769 million at a budget of $250 million.

So what went wrong with Black Adam? Was the film overhyped? Is Black Adam that bad? YES.

Only 125 Minutes?

Black Adam lacks a standard screen time under which Black Adam and the Justice Society deserved a lot of minutes to develop the screenplay and the characters.

Black Adam was more of a typical science-fiction action-thriller than a superhero film. In the screen capacity of only two hours, the film had a lot to do to settle the audience with the politics of Kahndaq, the origins of Teth Adam, JSA’s own introduction, and the antagonist of the film. Thus, the writing of the film repeatedly faltered and strongly reminded me of Josstice League.

I think Warner Bros. still haven’t learned from their mistakes or maybe Black Adam is the final film of Walter Hamada‘s troubling era as president and we shall witness improvement under the new presidency of David Zaslav since Warner Bros. and Discovery have merged.

With the given plot, Black Adam was no less than a three-hour film. Due to the extremely short length of the film, the makers failed to dramatize a lot about Teth Adam’s backstory and ran most of that part in the narration.

The worst underdevelopment of the story is the Justice Society. Hawkman introduced and narrated their backstories and assembled them within three minutes. Within three minutes! The screenplay has a plane to catch and also to catch the train to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) like that. The same formula Warner Bros. stick with in the past when Justice League and Suicide Squad were introduced and assembled within a few minutes.

Forced Humor

And then the worst of the kind of the writing element in such a dark and tragic chapter of Teth Adam and the entire plot, needless and unnecessary humor stretched to more than a limit.

The application of jokes on such a serious plot clearly looked intentional by the makers. The jokes were fitting nowhere and not making any sense at all. Let me share with you some ‘fUnNy’ moments for your ha-has. When Adrianna successfully establishes communication between Black Adam and the Justice Society, Atom Smasher is eating a bucket of chicken.

Black Adam breaking the walls to enter the other room instead of using the door looks senseless. Were there no doors five thousand years back? If that happened in the comics is the other thing, just like Batman disappearing in a blink. The character of Karim was annoying and close to being unreal.


Plotholes

Speaking of unrealistic, the writing of this film is very incoherent and full of dumb plotholes. Teth Adam exposes himself to the city and besides a few scores of witnesses in shock, people are generally busy in their usual routine.

A bigger dumb plothole is that Intergang guys are still checking cars at the checkpoint. No one in the intergang is alarmed about Black Adam’s return, it is the boy Amon who indicates them to witness him. No social media or news media breaks the news about something supernatural that has shown up in the city. Why didn’t Fate take the crown of Sabbac from Amon’s bag?

JSA not knowing Teth Adam in the first place and believe it to be a myth looks displaced. Many JSA members have been on different planets for thousands and maybe millions of years. How come they do not understand how to put up a fight against Teth Adam?

Why didn’t Hawkman assemble a team of veterans who were more experienced than the rookies, Cyclone and Atom Smasher? Cyclone and Atom Smasher were like some rookie dance extras who were promoted by their managers due to a lack of manpower. This was the best chance to introduce Gardner Fox’s most iconic JSA team to fight against Black Adam. Only Hawkman and Doctor Fate appeared.

Below-par Direction

Black Adam heavily suffers from a below-par direction. There is not a single shot that builds in the audience with some excellent cinematic impact.

There is one shot where Black Adam’s son dies. Instead of investing one solid screen minute in Dwayne as the father of the dead son, the director flew him away with rage.

Amon’s uninspiring speech in such a low voice pitch to unite Kahndaq people to fight, skating to mom and leading the band of Kahndaq people furiously marching the street was so cheesy, so cringy, and so mainstream Bollywood. Another irritation is the unstoppable background score and which is too unimpressive. It kept playing on our ears and torturing us.


CLOSING REMARKS

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam reminds me of Dwayne Johnson but not Black Adam. His acting is very restricted and doesn’t bother to test his limits. There is so much tragedy in his story but Dwayne’s performance is nowhere flexible.

The story had potential but badly lacked direction. Black Adam is like a Bollywood film with a gigantic budget. It is a visual spectacle and popcorn-grabbing entertainer. But for the superhero genre, Black Adam is just another disappointment in the DC Extended Universe.

RATINGS: 4/10


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Film Review: Beast (2022)

STORY

Dr. Nate Daniels is a father of two daughters and is recently widowed. The eldest daughter reasons him for her death as she developed cancer immediately after her parent’s separation.

In order to emotionally reconnect with his daughters, Dr. Nate Daniels takes them on vacation to Africa where their mother grew up. Their family friend and wildlife biologist, Martin Battles, assists them in this wildlife journey.

But one shocking day, an injured lion that survived being the victim of the poachers, attacks them and thus begins their attempt at survival of a lifetime.


REVIEW

Beast is an action-thriller that was shot in South Africa and completed in ten weeks. The film’s biggest attraction is British superstar Idris Elba who plays Dr. Nate Daniels.

For the audience who are interested in watching a film based on wildlife survival, fiction or non-fiction, they basically are cognizant of the expectations from the screenwriting. If any of us watch such a film where the main characters are stuck in a compromised situation, we know that they will survive and overcome the unthinkable.

So where does the film stands in captivating the interest of the audience? I will give my fair share of developing zeal to invest my 90 minutes in a film that had Idris Elba fighting a lion.


PLUSES

The writing of this film in the first half convincingly develops the plot. And when the horror lodges to their heavy shock, the writing becomes exuberant.

The audience will build adrenaline when the family starts believing that something is terribly wrong. The element of intensity in this film is outstanding.

A flash of technical brilliance is a must to give a thrill to the audience. Beast offers to its audience excellent sound, an impactful music score by Steven Price, and an incredible design of dead bodies and injuries, followed by superb physical and especially facial performances by all four main characters, particularly the daughters. All these pluses are blended in some fabulous one-shot scenes, a quality of presentation that I wasn’t really expecting.


MINUSES

I feel the whole aesthetics of Beast from such an astounding first half loses that brink of establishing an equally promising continuity.

The pace of the film drops, the screenwriting of survival yet again enters into that Jurassic Park territory, things become obvious, and no further surprises are left to endure.

And some portions of the writing raise question marks throughout the film. How come the lion does not attack Martin Battles before running toward the family? Where were the alligators at night when Dr. Nate Daniels walks in the pond? Seriously, that is the time when the gators are active or perhaps hyperactive. Dr. Nate Daniels catching a snake looked pretty off, and so was the lion surviving the car explosion.


CLOSING REMARKS

Where the pluses level on minuses, here I am observing a bigger concern throughout the film – the case of an injured lion. The pride is obviously hurt but more than that, the lion escaped being hunted by the poachers.

From that arc, from that angle, the lion was actually trying to survive by killing not even humans but animals too. Because the lion lost faith in everything when it was attacked. The lion senses every single nature installed on earth as its enemy and the only way to survive is by killing the others so that the lion lives without any chance of threat.

It is a tragic case for an animal. Despite being the villain of the story, the lion wasn’t really a villain. The humans started this. Had the film not dramatized that opening sequence, the lion would have always been understood as evil.

RATINGS: 7/10



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