In Vancouver, no one can hear you scream

Definitely worse than AVP 1 and for some reason has the same action set piece as Alien Covenant for a finish.

A friend of mine watched the three Predator movies–skipping the vs. Aliens franchise tangent–in preparation for The Predator, then didn’t see the new one because everyone said skip it. Everyone was very, very right; skip it. Shane Black is not some mainstream indie filmmaker who makes great genre pictures. Iron Man 3 was apparently a fluke, because Predator 4 is real bad. Real bad.

The first Predator is an exceptionally sturdy action movie with some sci-fi. The second one is extremely well-made. The third one is well-made too. Plus Fox at least seemed to think they were making a prestige sequel. Nope.

Though it is exactly the kind of movie John Carpenter would’ve been able to make good, against all odds, back in the late nineties or something. The Predator is what happens when Ghosts of Mars isn’t good.

I sort of have my fingers crossed the movie’s co-writer, Fred Dekker, will send me some hate mail. In the fifteen years I’ve been writing movie responses, Dekker is still the biggest name to send me hate mail (for movie responses, comics are a different story). The first time was about me not liking homophobic slurs in Monster Squad. The second one was a profanity-laden rant about me dogging Robocop 3 years after it came out. I wonder if I still have them saved in Gmail. I moderated the Robo one away because it was back when I had tons of teen readers for Speak. Ah, the olden days, when I got so much traffic I didn’t know what to do with it.

Anyway. Predator 4 stinks. Read all about it stinking at The Stop Button. If you’re so inclined.

All Hail the King, Baby, All Hail the King


“From thy wedding with the creature who touches heaven, lady God preserve thee.”

When I first came across the “One That Started It All Blogathon,” I avoided it. If you look at the left sidebar at Stop Button, you can see I don’t avoid many blogathons. I only don’t do a blogathon (these days) if the blogger running it is problematic or if there’s just no way I’m going to write in the format. I post movie responses. Single movie responses. But, very slowly, I’ve been branching out.

And this year I’m apparently going to do a bunch of different things, including look at Star Trek II’s music (just the music) and talk about Josh Hartnett in O. 2019 is the year of not giving a shit when it comes to blog subjects.

I dwelt on doing the “One That Started It All” blogathon because it seems like I should be able to identify the film most influential to me. Even if I’m going to say something like Wild River, which I didn’t see until I was about twenty. Or Play Time. Play Time would be a good one. Grand Illusion. Kane’s not unthinkable.

So I kicked it around in my head, even toying with the idea of doing Ben-Hur because it was a movie I heard about as a kid (from my mom) but have no memory of seeing in its entirety.

Then I got to Kong and it was perfect and so I set about writing the post. After signing up for the blogathon.

I wrote four and a quarter drafts of the Kong post. On incredibly rare occasions, I’ll write two drafts of a movie post. I’ve never pitched a longer essay—well, wait, I rewrote the Superman franchise post, but those changes were about form—and there was some file-saving disaster the first time I tried doing the Carpenter retrospect. But going back and rewriting from scratch for Stop Button. Not my thing. But I found myself working out the post through writing it.

And now I’ve got a bunch of variations on the post, written over a two week period; I’m curious how they’re different, from a statistical standpoint.

Besides the obvious length-related differences—the post is about twice as long as any of the previous drafts, which all clocked in around 1,200 words—apparently my writing is about the same. Thirteen to fifteen words per sentence, eighty-five percent monosyllabic words. The first two drafts were, according to the Automated Readability Index, sixth grade level; the third draft and the posted one are fifth. For students from 1967.

Dale Chall says it’s an 11th to 12th grade level, which is higher than I’d like. Flesh-Kincaid says you could read it at twelve. I was twelve in 1990. I’m not sure I would’ve cared about someone’s summarized King Kong memoir. I think the Dale Chall is comprehension, but all those tests are going on syllables and word length and whatnot.

I used to freak out about not writing at a high enough grade level and then I ran some Hemingway through the readability calculators and stopped worrying.

An almost ten page King Kong ’33 piece. I’m all right with how it turned out, which is good. I really didn’t think I would be so pleased. I hated the second and third drafts. I hoped but didn’t think there’d be some clue as to why in the syllable count or something but no. Can’t readability analyze away writing you’re not happy with.

Shuttered on the Bayou

When I first heard about a “Swamp Thing” show, I wasn’t excited. The New 52 Swamp Thing comic was lousy, the Geoff Johns(?)-fueled reintroduction of the character into DCU proper just before was… lousy? James Wan executive producing it didn’t reassure. While I’m sure it’s possible Wan is a big Alan Moore fan (wouldn’t it be amazing if Alan Moore liked Aquaman), it’s not like the initial casting inspired confidence either.

And then the other DC Universe shows starting coming out and, utter disinterest aside, apparently “Titans” and “Doom Patrol” are actual television shows. They have budgets. Big enough ones Warner is considering shuttering DC Universe streaming, which makes sense because a dedicated DC Universe streaming channel without most of the DC live action content (CW shows) or full comic library doesn’t make much sense. If they’d made new comics available through the streaming service, I’d have signed up. Why the hell not? $10 a month is cheaper than three DC Comics.

But no, because Warner Bros. hasn’t had a good idea in a while. Maybe because their CEO was busy stalking young women.

So I was going to watch “Swamp Thing,” at least once (I don’t really do the three episode trial thing, if I’m in it for a second episode, I’m in for a fourth, three I’m in for the first seven). And now maybe I won’t, which is both a bummer and totally fine. Swamp Thing has limitless potential, we’ve seen it in the work from Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Mark Millar, Josh Dysart. Even Nancy A. Collins and Brian K. Vaughan if you’re so inclined. But I wouldn’t trust James Wan to adapt the Martin Pasko stuff, much less the Len Wein.

But I had gotten curious….

The series was originally set for a 13 episode order at the end of May


The too reverential Ms. Marvel fan movie

I’m not sure I’m going to write about this Ms. Marvel fan movie. I have nice things to say but it’s not… I wouldn’t recommend it to a general audience. A Ms. Marvel fan? Yes.

The production values are good, the camera work is a little too shaky, but the acting is all pretty strong. Arshad Aslam’s really good at directing the cast. Though someone thought the scene with Bruno (Jonathan David) at the convenience store should have a Clerks feel and someone else didn’t. Like, either David did it or Aslam did it. It’s just for a second and doesn’t fit the rest of the scene. Or maybe there’s just something about scenes in convenience stores they have to go that Clerks-y way?

Sanchita Malik is an awesome lead. She makes the movie work. So the ending is really problematic. Aslam does a very literal adaptation of the source material, for better and worse (usually the worse involves the editing), so it’s “comics faithful,” it’s just a good way to do the movie. There’s such a thing as being too reverential of the source material.

Especially when it gets in the way of your movie, which has this great lead performance and the story ends up dissing her.

They’d never do it but Feige ought to at least screen-test Sanchita Malik for a legit production.

My favvorite podcast

Godless Bitches is my favorite podcast. The hosts are all atheist women, with the show’s emphasis on social justice. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite podcast is, when I’m at work anyway, I say something about how the Theranos episode of Rocket is the best podcast episode ever. It’s a deflection, because even though Godless Bitches tried to rebrand as GB 2.0, everything still says Godless Bitches and even if it did say GB 2.0, Geebeetwopointoh doesn’t exactly flow through the mind or off the tongue.


Even though I just thought of someone to whom I could recommend the podcast, when I’m observing professional decorum, I’m not going near Godless or Bitches. Not being a white dude. I’m all for normalizing atheism and whatnot but no.

The show has three good hosts, Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples, and Clare Wuellner. They don’t spotlight steal, they give each other time. With Harris, it’s often these phenomenal monologues. Despite her recommending The Witch a little too gratuitously (wait, sorry, The VVitch), Harris is one of my favorite… not pundits, not personalities, maybe… intellectuals 2.0? Something. In addition to her monologue this episode, she’s got some fantastic observations later on.

The monologue’s all about how the portrayal of something doesn’t mean something is actually like how it’s portrayed. Specifically working women in the sixties and seventies being sex objects who type in the office, encouraging the male attention. I got a little twinge of possible “WKRP” guilt, though—obviously—they were trying to confront the misogyny and sexism in the workplace.

But that portrayal thing also has a lot to do with how marginalized people are shown in… well, any kind of media. For example, non-fiction movies can be edited to be racist or sexist. Harris brings up realities and reach of patriarchal censoring. It’s a lot and it’s great.

The rest of the episode is great too, but that monologue just gets the brain equally engaged and enraged.

This does not seem like very good Damned news

The Damned #11

The Damned #11 is almost a year late. The previous issue, #10, came out in June 2018. The series got off to a great start (collected in the trade, Ill-Gotten) and it seemed like the series, which had a great concept (film noir demons) and good first series back in 2006, followed by an okay sequel series in 2008. Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt (who I first noticed thanks to the never-going-to-be-appreciated Hard Time series) took a break to do Sixth Gun, which I still need to finish reading (well, read over again to where I stopped and finish); Gun ran something like fifty issues and had a TV pilot, which didn’t get picked up, meaning less exposure for the creators, which sucks.


Now there’s news of a new comic from Hurtt and Bunn, which seems like it would be awesome news… but it’s Bunn and Hurtt writing together and Tyler Crook (who drew Harrow County with Bunn writing). It’s from Dark Horse, not Oni (who publishes Damned).

While it’s always nice to see good creators getting work–I need to read Harrow County too–it doesn’t seem to be boding well for Damned, which is a creator-owned series… I sort of assume they don’t get the money upfront from Oni, whereas Dark Horse seems big enough to pay first? No?

Hopefully there will be some more Damned comics if only so I can keep making Damned puns but also because it seemed like Bunn and Hurtt were ready to take the series to at least twenty or thirty issues this time.

Robocop LOL (List of Links)

This list contains links to all the Robocop posts I’ve written over the years, as well as a podcast.

Just to get it out of the way early… the only Robocop movie I’d recommended is the original and the only Robocop comic I’d recommend is Robocop: Last Stand. Everything else is pretty bad.


Original series, Orion Pictures, 1987-93

Remake, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2014

Spoof, Channel 101, 2014

  • Our RoboCop Remake (2014); posted 26 October 2014
  • Comic books

    Marvel Comics, 1987-92

    Robocop, March 1990 – January 1992

    posted January – March 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

    Dark Horse Comics, 1992-94

    Robocop vs. the Terminator, September – December 1992

    posted February 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Robocop: Prime Suspect, October 1992 – January 1993

    posted February 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Robocop 3, July – November 1993

    posted January 2010

    1, 2, 3

    Robocop: Mortal Coils, September – December 1993

    posted February – March 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Robocop: Roulette, December 1993 – March 1994

    posted March 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4

    Avatar Press, 2003-06

    Frank Miller’s Robocop, July 2003 – January 2006

    posted January 2010

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

    Robocop: Killing Machine, August 2004


    Robocop: Wild Child, January 2005


    Dynamite Entertainment, 2010-12

    Robocop, January – August 2006

    posted September 2010


    Boom! Studios, 2013-18

    Robocop: Last Stand, August 2013 – February 2014

    posted August 2013 – February 2014

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

    posted March 2019

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

    Robocop, 2014 remake tie-in one-shots, February 2014

    posted February 2014

    Hominem Ex Machina , To Live and Die in Detroit, Memento Mori, Beta

    Robocop, July 2014 – June 2015

    posted July 2014 – February 2015

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

I can’t believe it’s come to this…

… but I’m on-board for Matt Ryan as Constantine. His whole love story thing on “Legends” finally sold me on the performance, which was occasionally amusing amid the “Legends” chaos but the love story thing… it’s where Ryan finally impressed as Constantine.

So hopefully he gets to be on the new “Swamp Thing” show, which could be godawful, given James Wan is exec-producing it and it’s probably based on the terrible New 52 versions of the character. But one can always hope….

I mean, if it used the Harry Manfredini theme from the 1982 movie I’d have to be on-board to some degree. I’ve been meaning to watch “Doom Patrol” but not with any major enthusiasm. “Titans” I have some morbid curiosity but no interest. “Swamp Thing” is going to be a real challenge since the most successful filmic version was a guy in a painfully obvious rubber suit. Presumably the TV show is going to be a CGI Swamp Thing, which will probably look like shit.

We’ll see. I’ve never seen Crystal Reed (who plays Abby) in anything and Abby’s the most important part of “Swamp Thing.”

Who knows, maybe it’ll work. I’d never have believed Thanos would work and Brolin was phenomenal.

Actor Matt Ryan, who has played paranormal anti-hero John Constantine since 2014, wants to be the one to play the character on DC Universe’s Swamp Thing.

In case you needed a reminder he’s the best Chris

Chris Evans was, in his youth, a Burton/Keaton Batman fan.

Wow, he’d make a terrible Batman.

Evans was always my outside Steve Rogers dream cast. The Matthew Lillard thing wasn’t going to happen, but should’ve, but anyway, Evans was a good job. By that time, he’d shown a rather good range. Johnny Storm, Sunshine, Street Kings as the straight man, Push as a Steve Rogers prototype, Losers. When you look at his post-Marvel filmography and after bump at the start, he’s slowed to stopped on non-Marvel output. Those initial efforts didn’t really do much (see trajectory of Chris Pine), though it looks like Evans has got a Netflix original movie, which will either be good or crap apparently (I still haven’t seen a Netflix original), and Rian Johnson’s upcoming “modern” Agatha Christie.

Evans has already settled in as the George Clooney of the MCU (though Evans is a lot more vocal with his good politics than Clooney is these days). Though he’s still a little young to start doing his “man-in-his-forties” parts. Of course, who knows where media will be in five years. Evans will be Doug Ross on Steven Spielberg’s six movie series “ER 2.0” on TV+ or some such thing.

I really need to do that Debbie Downer history of the MCU post.


Chris Evans may be iconic for playing Captain America — and a little infamous for his stint as the Human Torch — but his favorite childhood superhero might not be either of those guys.

It took Sulu 25 years to make captain

It took George Takei’s Sulu character 25 years to make it from lieutenant to captain. Not in the present actions of all the “Star Trek,” but close to it. I think by *Undiscovered Country* they were basically in sync. And, thanks to me being a teenage “Star Trek” geek, I remember that the novels kept talking about how all Sulu wanted to do was be a captain but he’d always give it up for Kirk.

So, you know, William Shatner being a dick spoils a lot.

It’s taken a long, long time for Asian characters to get to be cool in movies for white people. I’m sorry, not even movies for white people, movies white people might see advertised, not even see.

Rose Tico was the coolest thing about *Last Jedi*. Even if the film weren’t in such desperate need of coolness, Kelly Marie Tran​ would still have been super cool.

Star Wars fans aren’t just toxic, they’re self-defeating in how they’re toxic. They want bad movies, because Star Wars movies have been bad starting in 1983, only you thought they were great at six so you have to justify it all to yourself.

Anyway. It’s like the only exceptional thing about white America is how many different levels we can be racist on.

by Josh Hilgenberg Kicking off the first round of Saturday panels at C2E2, Wesley Sun, Dawn Xiana Moon, Mark Mertell and Michi Trota are here to discuss Asian-American representation in pop culture?