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Callwood at the Cooler #16

We all float down here…

It feels like we’ve been blessed with a greater-than-usual amount of exciting trailers this week. That’s subjective of course; there are probably tons of people out there who can’t wait to see the next Matt-Damon-in-space epic, but for me, the fact that we were able to see trailers for Stephen King’s It, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, and DC’s Justice League, all in the space of a few days, was all quite overwhelming.

Let’s start with King. Critics are pointing to the fact that, in 1990, a TV miniseries based on King’s greatest ever (again, in my opinion) novel was released, starring the brilliant Tim Curry in the title creature’s “Pennywise the Clown” form. It was not very good, despite the fact that Curry was, as ever, wonderful. Curry, plus the warmth of nostalgia, have colored the film in many minds. A general fear of clowns (egged on by last year’s spate of sinister clown sightings), has also firmed up the idea in the public consciousness that 1990’s It is a masterful piece of work, when in fact it was hokey, badly-cast (besides Curry), and just too goofy to be scary, at least by today’s standards. Which is a shame, because the book is disturbing and terrifying.

This new movie looks like it might have nailed it. Bill Skarsgård has the unenviable job of filling Curry’s clown-shoes, but don’t read too much into that. This seems to be a far more faithful adaptation of King’s book, so Pennywise isn’t so much the main villain, the focus of our attention, but rather one terrifying incarnation of a larger evil. The movie is splitting the story in two, this year’s movie focusing on the main characters as children, and a planned second movie set in the present day and adulthood. But look at this thing. Pennywise looks terrifying, and children seem genuinely scared. My hopes are high that this movie will be as dark as the novel.

Bats and spiders…

On to the superhero movie trailers, and the reception that Justice League has been getting a negative reception from many fans, which is kind of to be expected because Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad weren’t particularly well-liked, despite performing relatively well at the box office. I’m a fan of dark comic book TV and film, and as a result I prefer the tone of the DC movies to those made by Marvel. I understand the flaws, particularly with the pacing and editing, but I still enjoy them more. Conversely, I prefer the shows that Marvel makes for Netflix to the DC shows, usually on The CW, which are far too happy for me. It’s weird that the two companies choose to switch the lights on in different places.

This trailer is difficult to read. Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman all look amazing. Cyborg’s CGI looks terrible. The dark tone is perfect, including some HR Giger-esque sets. But how it all comes together is the all-important thing. The early signs are good though.

What I do like a lot about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the way they’ve made the TV shows and movies all part of the same shared universe (with the confusing exception of the properties still owned by Fox and Sony, like the X-Man, Fantastic Four, and, apparently, Venom). The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show, plus all of the Defenders-linked Netflix shows, are in the same universe at the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. We don’t have to actually see Luke Cage share screen time with Rocket Raccoon, Punisher with Groot—that would be weird. But we can appreciate that they both exist, both might bump into Iron Man.

With that in mind, it’s awesome that Marvel was able to get Spiderman back from Sony, and this new movie is the result. The trailer gives away a little too much, but we know that Iron Man gets a lot of screen time, mentoring Peter Parker’s title character as he comes to terms with his heroism. Should be fun.

Saxons, UFOs, and Bombpops…

As an English journalist who has written about music for 18 years, and about metal and punk music for all of that time, it’s weird that I had never seen Brit metal titans Saxon or UFO until this March, when I saw both at the same show. Saxon were masterful and powerful, songs like “Denim and Leather”, “Crusader”, and “The Eagle Has Landed” tearing the roof off a packed Belasco Theater in LA. UFO sounded a little lightweight after Saxon, but the closing “Doctor Doctor” was worth waiting for.

On March 29, the Hi-Hat in the Highland Park region of LA hosted an excellent triple bill of contemporary punk, headlined by San Fran’s Pennywise-esque Nothington. San Diego’s Western Settings provided some anthemic punk to open the show, but the real stars were local band The Bombpops. Brimming with youthful exuberance and a shit-ton of great tunes, the band laughed, joked and riffed their way through the set, all the while taking the music seriously. The hardest cynic couldn’t help but smile watching these guys, and I’ll be keeping my eye on them.

“Callwood at the Cooler” is a new bi-weekly column which will see me waxing lyrical about events in the news, pop culture and the etc. Sometimes it’ll be light, other times not-so when the rant/monolog demands. The subject matter will vary dramatically so expect anything and keep coming back.

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