This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deep dive into the past, future, and potential of the DC Cinematic Universe (a.k.a. the DCEU). Now that it’s all but official that the whole endeavor is getting revamped, I explore what the new DCEU needs to do in order to succeed and the potential pitfalls it might face. I’m genuinely rooting for DC and Warner Brothers to succeed. But they will face major challenges to become a full-fledged cinematic universe.
Tag Archives: HBO Max
How The New DC Cinematic Universe Can Succeed (Or Fail)
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube
Jack Quick Reacts: The Last Of Us Season One Finale
This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is my quick reaction to the season one finale of HBO’s The Last of Us. Like my other quick reacts, I didn’t script this or structure it like a video essay. As a result, I stutter and stammer a lot. I also make a few errors here and there. But I still try to get my point across.
Also, I do mention some heavy spoilers from both the show and the games. So do keep that in mind. Enjoy!
Filed under Current Events, HBO Max, Jack's World, technology, video games, YouTube
Jack Quick Reacts: Harley Quinn A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special
This video is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. And it’s another entry in my ongoing Jack Quick Reacts series in which I react to Harley Quinn’s “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special.” Enjoy!
Filed under HBO Max, Jack's World, LGBTQ, romance, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube
It’s Official: Video Game Adaptations No Longer Have To Suck
When it comes to general rules in entertainment and pop culture, the rule always works until it doesn’t. What I mean by that is trends are fickle. What seems certain, logical, and even unavoidable one day for a particular genre might be shrouded with doubt the next.
In decades past, there was a general rule that there would always be a prominent place for western movies. Granted, there’s still a place for them, but it’s not nearly as prominent.
Just a few decades ago, there was a general rule that if you put someone like Nicholas Cage and Arnold Schwarzenegger in any movie, it would easily gross over $100 million. That’s no longer the case, either. It’s been quite a while since either actor achieved that level of success at the box office consistently.
I’m also old enough to remember a time when superhero movies were seen as extremely niche with limited appeal. I even remember the reaction to “Batman and Robin,” which for a time felt like a massive setback for the genre that would last a generation.
These rules were once general assumptions in the entertainment world. And they were assumed to always apply, but then they didn’t. We should never assume a rule or trend will always apply, especially when it comes to pop culture. And I say that as someone who never wants to see superhero movies go out of style.
With that in mind, I think it’s time we finally change our rules and assumptions about video game adaptations.
Now, I’m not just saying that because I’ve been watching “The Last of Us” on HBO and have been repeatedly blown away by how great it has been. One good movie or show is a fluke. That’s why there are so many forgettable “Die Hard” knock-offs from the 1990s. The reason I think the time has come to adjust our attitudes is because “The Last of Us” feels like the last critical part of a new trend that has been unfolding for a while now.
And as someone who loves video games and wants to see more successful adaptations, I welcome this. In fact, I think it was overdue. I’d been hoping for something like this for years and have been burned by one too many “Resident Evil” movies along the way.
Even if it has taken way too long, I think “The Last of Us” has finished what “Sonic: The Hedgehog” and “Castlevania” started. It helped further distance audiences from the old mentality that video game adaptations tend to suck by default. It made the case that a video adaptation can be done and done well. There’s even a proven process to it, which has become more and more refined, going back to the days of the first “Tomb Raider” movies with Angelina Jolie.
A big part of what makes “The Last of Us” work so well is that it stays remarkably true to the source material in terms of ambience and theme. It doesn’t completely retell the story of the game. It nicely supplements it. The game is the foundation and the scaffolding. The show is the meat and the substance.
Even a movie like “Sonic: The Hedgehog,” which doesn’t closely mirror any of the games, still captures the heart and tone of character. The Sonic you see in the movie feels like a natural extension of the one you play in the game.
A show like “Arcane” takes it even further than that. It actually uses that foundation to build new, more compelling lore for every character involved. Even elements not covered in the game can get fleshed out, but in a way that doesn’t involve reinventing or reshaping the characters or world. More importantly, it doesn’t just rely entirely on the built-in audience to fill in the blanks. There’s a real, concerted effort to tell a cohesive story beyond the action.
This all seems obvious now, but it wasn’t that long ago that it was deemed impossible or incompatible with video game adaptations. I think we need to ditch that mentality once and for all. That’s not to say that video adaptations will stop sucking entirely. Even with their current popularity, superhero movies can still be awful. Just look at “Moribus.”
I’m also not convinced the upcoming “Super Mario Bros” movie will be great, but that might just be because I still cringe at the 1990s adaptation that had Dennis Hopper playing Bowser.
But the precedent has already been set.
The standards have already been raised.
A show like “The Last of Us” and a movie like “Sonic: The Hedgehog” is no longer a fluke or a one-off. They are now part of a tangible, verifiable trend that video game adaptations can be great in their own right. And personally, I hope to see more in the future. There’s definitely a place for them in popular culture.
Video games have come a long way since the days of Tetris and Pong. Players today expect more story and depth than ever before. That sort of thing can definitely translate into blockbuster franchises or shows and they should. Because regardless of the medium or source, there will always been an audience for great stories with memorable characters.
Filed under HBO Max, television, video games
Quick Reacts: The Last Of Us Premier
This video is my quick reaction to the series premier of HBO’s The Last of Us. Please note I didn’t script this like I usually do. So it’s a little messy and I do stutter quite a bit. But if you’d like to see more of these kinds of reaction videos, please let me know.
Filed under Jack's World, television, YouTube
Day-And-Date Streaming Movie Releases: Did The Experiment Fail?
Last year, things literally could not have been worse for the movie industry. A once-in-a-generation pandemic had shut down the world. Every industry was affected, but few were hit harder than the movie industry. Suddenly, an industry that relies on people actually getting out of their houses and gathering in enclosed spaces was no longer viable. I personally wondered whether the industry would ever recover.
Then, as the world endured, the industry attempted to adapt. This led to Warner Brother’s landmark decision to release some of their biggest movies on their streaming platform, HBO Max, on the same date as their theatrical release. At the same time, Disney was releasing some of its biggest movies on Disney+, albeit for an extra fee.
I believed, for a time, that this could fundamentally change the industry for good, even after the pandemic was over. I even shared my experience in how this affected my own movie watching habits. I won’t deny that I’ve gotten a lot more out of my HBO Max service, knowing I can watch new movies the day they come out. I did it with both “Space Jam 2” and “The Suicide Squad.”
However, it now seems that this new experience that I’ve been enjoying is about to come to an end. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers is going back to a more traditional model, having its movies come out in theaters first for a 45-day window before going to a streaming service.
THR: Warner Bros., AMC Strike 45-Day Exclusive Theatrical Window Deal for 2022
In a new deal with mega-cinema chain AMC Theatres, Warner Bros. has agreed to return to an exclusive, 45-day theatrical window in 2022.
AMC CEO Adam Aron unveiled the pact Monday during an earnings call. “We’re especially pleased Warner Bros. has decided to move away from day-and-date,” Aron said. “We are in active dialogue with every major studio.”
WarnerMedia enraged cinema operators when deciding to open its 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. The company has since said that the move was in response to the ongoing pandemic, and not permanent. Insiders add that the AMC arrangement was agreed to in March.
For the most part, I’m not too surprised. It’s now abundantly clear that this release method has a significant impact on the box office returns of a movie. The recent release of “The Suicide Squad” is proof enough of that, despite being loved by critics and fans alike. Having seen the movie and enjoyed it immensely, I feel like it definitely deserved a bigger box office than it got.
Given how much these movies cost to produce, it’s unreasonable to expect the studios and the actors involved to be comfortable with this arrangement. Pandemic or not, this is not the same success they’re used to. If movies released simultaneously on streaming make this little at the box office, then that’s just not sustainable. Something has to give.
At the same time, a part of me wonders whether this reversion to a more traditional movie-release schedule will lead to even more change. I get why movie theaters want to go back to the old model where a movie as bad as “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” could still make a billion dollars at the global box office. I just don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like that again.
It doesn’t help that the pandemic isn’t over. In fact, it may never truly be over if things keep going badly. That means things like packed movie theaters just might never come back entirely. We may very well never see another billion-dollar movie again.
In that sense, can we still say that WB’s streaming experiment failed? We don’t yet know how much or how little movies like “Space Jam 2” and “The Suicide Squad” impacted HBO Max subscriptions. We also don’t know how much or how little these types of movies affect the movie-making process or how those involved are compensated. The fact that Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over releasing “Black Widow” on streaming hints the current system is very flawed.
Maybe there’s a sweet spot between day-and-date releases on streaming and theatrical runs. A part of me thinks that a 45-day release window is basically not too different from the old way of doing things. Personally, I think if studios like WB want to maximize both box office and streaming, they’d make that release window a lot more narrow. That would create a scarcity that could prompt more people to go to the movies.
Perhaps that window needs to be longer to allow bigger budget movies to turn a profit. Maybe a two-month window would accomplish that. I honestly don’t know. I think nobody knows at this point. The industry is just changing so much and chances are there will be more changes by the end of this year. Whether or not they’ll be good for the industry and those who work in it remains to be seen.
In the end, maybe this whole experiment will be just a first step in that change. It might not have worked as well as everyone would’ve liked, but few things ever do. It was something new and bold during a time of unprecedented upheaval. Plenty of good and bad can come out of that.
Also, I will miss turning my living room into my own personal movie theater. It was indeed nice while it lasted. However, for the good of the industry and the movies I love, I understand that the experiment was not a solution. Hopefully, more good comes out of this in the long run.
Filed under Current Events, HBO Max, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, movies
How HBO Max May Prompt Me To Get A Bigger TV
In general, I try to budget my money carefully when it comes to big purchases. By big, I don’t mean things you’d splurge on like fancy shoes, custom suits, jewelry, or a lap dance at a strip club. Those are more akin to casual indulgences. There’s nothing wrong with those in moderation.
For me, a single guy who has a mortgage and his own place, major purchases tend to involve large appliances and utility upgrades. Those upgrades can be expensive. One of the biggest purchases I had to make after buying my place was a new HVAC system. That purchase cost thousands. I had to taper some indulgences, as a result.
It was still worth doing. I feel like those purchases have paid for themselves many times over, in terms of quality of life. That’s how I gauge every major purchase. If it has an overall positive effect on quality of life, then it’s worth budgeting for. I learned in college that sometimes you need to endure a few nights of Ramen noodles before you can enjoy a good steak dinner.
This brings me to what could be my next major purchase. Earlier this year, I had a few things in mind that I considered saving for. My plan was to re-evaluate my priorities around the summer before I made a choice. Well, after watching Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” those plans may have changed.
These past few weeks, I’ve documented how watching these movies as they debut on HBO Max has changed the way I’ve consumed new movies. I think it’s safe to say that my approach to viewing new movies has changed in a big way. Now, when a new movie is set to come out, I’ll have to weigh whether I want to see it in a theater or create my own experience at home.
I’ll be facing that choice quite a bit this year. Warner Brothers and HBO Max have a very promising slate of movies. Some of these were movies I planned on seeing in theaters. Now, after “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I’m not so sure. To complicate the choice even more, I’m no considering a major upgrade to my living room in the form of a new TV.
At the moment, I have a 55-inch HDTV that has served me well for about five years. It’s not the highest end TV, but it gets the job done. It has seen me through multiple NFL seasons and plenty superhero movie marathons. However, I know I’ll have to upgrade at some point. With more and more content coming out in 4K, the incentives are there and growing.
However, given my recent efforts to re-create the theater experience in my living room, those incentives increased considerably. After watching “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I really felt the limits of my current TV. It still looks great and thanks to the sound bar I bought a couple years ago, the sound felt very similar to that of a movie theater.
The only thing that didn’t quite match that experience was the screen itself. It was good, but not great. For that reason, a newer, larger TV might very well be the kind of major purchase that pays off big time, in terms of quality of life. It may ultimately change even more how I determine whether I’ll see a new movie in a theater or at home.
Before this year, a new TV was a low priority for me. It’s not that I don’t want a bigger, better TV in general. I just didn’t see much value, given how few shows or events are broadcast in 4K. That may be changing, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough to justify the cost.
For me, the tipping point was whether NFL games would be broadcast in 4K. Thus far, that hasn’t happened. I was waiting until that announcement became official before I got serious about a new TV. Now, I don’t think sports are the tipping point anymore. HBO Max has suddenly changed the whole value structure for a new TV.
It’s exciting. I love the idea of being able to watch new movies on HBO Max or some other streaming service on a bigger, better TV. Whenever the NFL or baseball joins the 4K party, then that’ll only add to the value.
There’s still a real chance that I might find there’s a limit to recreating the movie experience in my living room. Once the novelty wears off, I might find there’s just now re-creating that theater or IMAX experience. No matter what I do to my living room, it just can’t measure up. I’m prepared to accept that outcome, should that be the case.
On the other hand, there’s also a chance I might recreate that experience a bit too well. If I get a good enough TV with a good enough picture, then going to the movies might end up being a last resort instead of an option. If I find that the experience in my living room is more enjoyable than any movie theater, then that will be my first choice for new movies.
That raises the stakes even more for this new TV. For once, it’s not just about seeking a better way to watch football games. It’s about turning my living room into something that can recreate that cinematic experience in the best possible way.
I’ll certainly keep everyone updated on this effort. As of this writing, I haven’t made any purchases, nor have I set a date for making one. For now, I’m just focusing on budgeting my money appropriately so that when the time comes, I’ll be ready to take that plunge. If anyone has any tips or insights into creating that special theatrical experience in their living room, please share it in the comments. Like any major purchase, I value the expertise and experiences of others. If all goes well, then I hope to be watching “The Matrix 4” on an awesome new TV by Christmas this year.
Filed under HBO Max, Jack Fisher's Insights, movies, technology, television
It’s Official: After Watching “Godzilla Vs. Kong” My Movie Watching Experience Has Changed
Sometimes, an experience you think is life-changing just turns out to be a fluke. You have one remarkable experience and you think it’s the start of a trend. However, it just turns out to be one experience and that’s it. Nothing ultimately changes.
I’ve had more than a few of those in my life. I thought playing “Final Fantasy X” would make me a final fantasy for life after the experience that game gave me. That turned out to be a one-time thing. It’s not out of disappointment. That’s just how things played out.
For that same reason, I wasn’t entirely sure if the experience I had watching Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” was one of those one-time experiences. Last week, I wrote about how it may have changed how I watched new movies. I did so knowing that this was a unique movie fraught with unique circumstances. I didn’t know if it was the start of something more.
To find out, I used this past weekend as a secondary test, of sorts. I knew “Godzilla Vs. Kong” was coming out on HBO Max, just like “Justice League.” I made it a point to approach that movie the same way I approached “Justice League.” By that, I mean I turned my living room into a make-shift movie theater to maximize the experience.
I ordered some pizza.
I got a six-pack of beer.
I closed the blinds, dimmed the lights, and prepared my couch accordingly.
Now, I need to disclose that “Godzilla Vs. Kong” was not a movie I was particularly excited about. Compared to Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” it’s the kind of movie I wouldn’t see in theaters on opening night. I’d usually wait a couple weeks until the price of a ticket came down and I could pick my own seat.
It still had all the makings of the kind of movie best enjoyed in theaters. It’s a big-time monster movie full of spectacle and explosions. That’s how it’s billed and, without getting too heavily into spoilers, I can confirm that “Godzilla Vs. Kong” delivers that spectacle in abundance.
As a result, I enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as “Justice League,” but I still enjoyed the experience. Beyond the enjoyment, though, I confirmed something else. That experience I had with “Justice League” was not a fluke.
I can now say with relative confidence that my approach to consuming movies has changed. This experience of me turning my living room into my own personal movie theater is something I really enjoy. It’s something I want to make part of my movie-consuming experience.
By that, I don’t mean I’ll never set foot in a movie theater again. I still have every intention of doing that relatively soon, especially after I get a COVID-19 vaccine. I just don’t think I’ll ever do it as often as I once did.
It helps that “Godzilla Vs. Kong” came out on HBO Max. Last year, the powers that be decided they would release their new movies in both the theaters and on HBO Max. It’s a decision that upset quite a few people and organizations, but in terms of the bigger picture for the industry, it’s a real game changer.
Like Netflix joining the fray when Blockbuster was at its zenith, HBO Max may very well change how movies are consumed. Other studios are starting to buy in as well. Recently, Disney announced it would do a similar release with “Black Widow.” However, their release would be different in that streaming it from home will cost extra.
It’s a different approach, but one that’s following the same trend. Now, consumers have a choice in how hey consume new movies. They can either go to a movie theater or try to create their own experience at home. It’s a choice that probably wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for the pandemic that nearly destroyed the whole industry.
Be that as it may, I welcome that choice. Personally, I think the industry needs this to happen. Movie theaters and movie studios alike can’t keep clinging to a model that began before the creation of streaming media, 4K televisions, and Grubhub. At some point, they have to adapt to changing consumer habits. Now, they can’t avoid it.
I’ve already made some plans for how I’ll consume movies this summer. Even if all restrictions are lifted and everything goes back to normal, relatively speaking, I don’t think I’ll revert to my pre-pandemic approach to movies. I’ll start weighing my options.
For a movie like “Mortal Kombat” or “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” I’ll probably watch them at home on HBO Max. If I happen to get a date, I’ll probably take her to the theater. Since I can’t assume that’ll happen, my default will be using HBO Max.
With “Black Widow,” I’m a bit less certain. For now, I’m leaning towards seeing that in theaters. It’s not because of the experience. It’s more a matter of cost. If I want to watch that movie at home like I did with “Justice League,” I’ll have to pay extra. Now, for a movie I really want to see, I’m willing to do that. However, I have my limits.
I think $30 just to stream the movie from home is a bit excessive. It amounts to more than I would spend on a ticket and snacks at a movie theater. Even if the price was just $20, I’d still probably see it in theaters. Like many Marvel fans, I’ve been anxious to see this movie for over a year and I want to support it. If that means paying extra at a theater, I’ll do that.
Then again, if I could stream it for free on Disney+ the same way I streamed “WandaVision,” then I might have second thoughts. Given that I’m a lifelong Marvel fan, I might still go to the theater, just to show my support for the franchise. Since that’s not an option, I just don’t know.
For now, those are my plans and they’re always subject to change. I just know that, moving forward, my approach to experiencing new movies is very different. I suspect others are going through something similar. Even after this pandemic has passed, I expect certain movie-going habits to change permanently.
What will this mean for the industry, as a whole?
That, I don’t know. All I know now is that what happened last weekend with “Justice League” was not a fluke and “Godzilla Vs. Kong” proved it. Now, I’m contemplating how I’ll continue adapting my movie-watching experience. For that, I may need to invest in a bigger TV. In the meantime, I’d like to know what everyone else thinks. What has been your experience thus far with respect to consuming movies? Has it changed due to the pandemic? Do you expect it to change even more? Let me know in the comments.
Filed under Current Events, Jack Fisher's Insights, movies, television
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Celebrating An (Overdue) Vision
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I never thought I’d get to make. In it, I review Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” a movie that legions of fans, as well as the cast, fought for. I didn’t think it would succeed, but after years of advocacy, it came out on HBO Max. I made it a point to build my Saturday night around watching it and I’m glad I did. Watch this video to see why. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube
How Many Streaming Services Can We (Realistically) Have?
It’s official. The streaming wars are on.
Hell, it’s been official for the past several years and 2020 only accelerated it. The battle to dominate digital media in all forms is raging on multiple fronts and while many have their favorites, none can say they’ve won.
It’s Netflix versus Hulu versus Amazon versus Disney versus CBS/Viacom versus YouTube versus whatever other media companies are fighting for every possible eyeball. The stakes are high for consumers and content creators alike. There are billions in profits to be made and plenty of epic, culture-defining content to be made. It’s going to get intense is what I’m saying.
I don’t think I need to remind everyone just how much the streaming market has changed in the past 10 years. Even if you’re still a teenager, chances are you still vaguely remember the days before Netflix and chill. Media back then was movies, TV, and Blu-Ray/DVD collections. I’m not saying it was ideal, but that’s what we had to work with.
Then, Netflix came along and changed everything.
Then, every company and their deep-pocketed subsidiaries tried to catch up.
It hasn’t always been smooth. Some people are still not over “The Office” leaving Netflix. Chances are there will be more upheavals like that as companies fight over who streams what and who has the streaming rights to a particular show or movie. That’s sure to get messy and I’m not smart enough to make sense of it.
However, as this war rages, I think there’s a relevant question worth asking. It’s a question that I’m sure both consumers like me and big media companies like Netflix and Disney ask as well. The answer could depend on how the war plays out.
How many streaming services can the average customer have?
Most people already pay for some form of streaming media. Most people subscribe to some form of pay TV, although that trend is in flux. The days of having all the entertainment you want with a simple cable subscription alongside Netflix is long gone and it’s not coming back.
Now, you have to be very selective and self-aware of what you want.
Do you want access to Disney’s vast library of content?
Do you want access to the library of shows from NBC or CBS?
Do you want access to the content from Warner Brothers, Universal, Dreamworks, Discovery, Cartoon Network, or 20th Century Fox?
You can have some, but you can’t have them all without paying way more than you ever would for cable. Even if you did, could you even watch all those streaming services enough to justify the cost? There are only so many hours in a day and there’s only so much attention we have to give. Even if we dedicated half our day to binging movies and TV, we couldn’t watch it all.
That’s the big limiting factor on streaming. It’s also the biggest obstacle any company faces with respect to their effort in the streaming wars. People can only watch so much and they only have so much they can reasonably spend on a streaming service. There comes a point where, even if the content is appealing, they just can’t justify the cost.
Personally, I have subscriptions to five streaming services. They are as follows:
Now, it’s worth noting that I got HBO Max through my cable subscription. I’ve subscribed to HBO for years so it’s not something I consciously sought out. With Amazon Prime, I primarily used it for the 2-day shipping instead of streaming media, but I’ve certainly found some quality shows on that platform.
I’m not sure I can justify another subscription beyond this. Once my subscriptions cannot be counted on one hand anymore, I think that’s too much. I just cannot watch enough content to warrant paying extra. I say that knowing companies like Paramount and NBC have just launched their own streaming services.
Even though both networks include shows that I love, I’ve no intention of buying their streaming service. If my cable company offers it for free, like it did with HBO, then that’s great. I’ll certainly watch it, but I’m not paying extra.
I feel like a lot of people are in that boat. If they don’t have a cable subscription, then they’re already trying to save money and paying more for a streaming package just defeats the purpose. If they do have cable, then they’re probably not willing to pay more for something they’re already paying too much for.
It’s a tougher situation and one that I’m sure will get tougher in the coming years. It’s not cheap to run a streaming service. The profit margins can be thin if you don’t have the content. There’s a good chance that some streaming services will either fail or get absorbed into another, like CBS All Access did.
Then, there are the pirates and no, I’m not talking about the ones with eye-patches.
Before Netflix streaming, pirating copyrighted content was already pretty rampant. Since the streaming wars began, there has been an uptick in pirated streaming content. That is also likely to intensify the more fragmented the streaming market becomes. If people are really that unwilling to pay a whole subscription to watch just a single show, they will resort to piracy. It’s still distressingly easy.
That’s why this question matters, both for us and the companies who provide our entertainment. I don’t claim to know how it’ll play out. By the time it settles, there might be another major upheaval in the media to supplant it. Whatever happens, I feel like I’ve reached the limit on the number of streaming subscriptions I have.
That’s just me, though. What about you?
How many streaming services do you have and are you willing to pay for another? Our collective answer could very well change the course of the streaming wars.
Filed under Current Events, human nature, media issues, psychology, technology, television