Friday, March 26, 2021

Barbecue's Bonfire 3/26/2021: Defeating Voldemort, Tak, and Lubdan Edition


 Hey everyone!

   Wow, what a week! We've had a mixture of gorgeous weather and crazy storms, I did a little plumbing, and I'm starting to make plans to see friends in the next month or so since my wife and I get our Covid vaccines today. We're also still making out way through Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but, first up, we gotta talk about the premiere episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier...

   The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is off to a good start although the two heroes have yet to meet up in this show so far. Still, it's nice to spend more time with Sam and Bucky. Their appearances in the films have usually been during crisis and this show gives us a chance to get to know them as people, seeing the unique struggles each of them faces. Sam's dealing with family struggles, celebrity, the fallout of having disappeared during The Snap, and the weight of Cap's shield and legacy, while Bucky is dealing with guilt, forgiveness, probably some form of PTSD, and the struggle of being a man out of time with seemingly no purpose. At first I really thought that Bucky's friend was a now very elderly Jim Morita (one of the Howling Commandos) but it turns out that he is Mr. Nakasima, the father of a man killed by the Winter Soldier who is still grieving for his son. While the opening battle scene between the Falcon and some enemy forces is quite excellent the episode excels in smaller, uncomfortable scenes like Sam and his sister, Sarah, trying to get a loan from a local bank while all the bank officer can do is want selfies with the Falcon. The scenes of Bucky reluctantly meeting with his therapist and going on a date are just as engaging as the scenes of Torres infiltrating the eerily too familiar riots of the Flag Smashers. TFATWS is a more straight forward show than WandaVision but there are still plenty of questions to be answered going forward like who will ultimately become the new Captain America, who are the Flag Smashers and what is their end goal, what will the Avengers look like when the next major crisis hits, and who is that smug looking fake Captain America? Obviously they're going with a US Agent storyline here but it'll be interesting to see how this show tackles it. So far so good and I'm excited to watch episode 2 tonight!

More of Barbecue's Bonfire after the break...

  The journey started back in early August but now, after over 7 months, my and my daughter have finished the Harry Potter series! I hadn't read The Deathly Hallows since the book was released in 2007 and it was a real treat to read it aloud at a slower pace to my daughter, enjoying the experience with her. I think she was really concerned that things weren't going to turn out so well for Harry, especially given the number of tragic deaths in this volume, but by the end she was cheering the triumph of Harry and his many brave friends over Voldemort. The tragedy of the Covid pandemic can never be erased but I hope that as she looks back on the past year as she gets older she remembers it as the year she discovered the magical Wizarding World and spent many, many hours with her dad wrapped up in world of adventure and fantasy where the powers of goodness and love triumph over evil. Funny note: She did not want to read the epilogue! As soon as I told her that the last part took place 19 years later, putting Harry and his friends around my age (37) she said she didn't want to hear it. I think, for now, she wants to keep Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna young and imagine what other adventures they'll have together together. personally, I don't blame her one bit. Harry may have had enough trouble for a lifetime but I'm sure in her imagination those beloved characters will manage to find something to get into that's exciting!

   I finished a book of my own, too: The Regulators by Stephen King Richard Bachman. Released in 1996 alongside of Desperation (which I read near the end of February), The Regulators is a "mirror" novel of that book as it features many of the same characters, locales, themes, and the same evil entity, Tak, but tells a completely different story. Set in a quiet Ohio suburban street on a warm summer day, The Regulators devolves into a massacre as mysterious vans from a popular cartoon and action figure line, accompanied by characters from westerns, wage war against the locals. The book jumps back and forth between regular third person narrative chapters and primary source documents to tell a story of the evil entity Tak escaping from the mining town of Desperation by latching himself onto a young autistic boy who is trying to fight back against the ancient evil that has possessed him. Both The Regulators and Desperation are set in a single location and involve a group fighting for survival against a power entity who seeks to destroy them. I think I enjoyed The Regulators a bit more as the pacing is rapid and tense and the epistolary sections are all quite gripping. 

   Last Thursday night I watched the Academy Award winning 1993 classic film Leprechaun. A well shot and thought provoking rumination on how Irish myth and folklore have influenced the nation's sense of self and the reception of Irish migrants in the US during the Industrial Revolution, the film recently entered the National Film Registry during the first year it was eligible. 

   OK, enough shenanigans! This is a ridiculous 1993 comedy horror film that stars Warwick Davis as a killer leprechaun trying to reclaim his gold that was brought back to the good old U.S. of A. Seriously, they really missed out not calling this movie an Irish Leprechaun in North Dakota. This movie is really, really silly with the weirdest tone. If it weren't for a couple brutal scenes that come out of nowhere this could almost be a kids film like Ernest Scared Stupid or something. Despite the movie being goofy, Warwick Davis is awesome in it! It also has a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston. I'm not a fan of Friends, so this is my second favorite Jennifer Aniston role of all time (after Office Space). 

   Our journey through Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, one of my personal favorites. By Phase III Marvel Studios was definitely allowing their directors more freedom to let their hair down and Guardians continues James Gunn's story of a lovable, though sometimes morally dubious, band of misfits. Focusing on character relations rather than the overarching plots of the MCU (which by this point was building towards Infinity War), GOTG2 really gives the characters time to grow and relate to each other in unique and often humorous ways. It's funny, it's action packed, and it has some of the most emotional moments in any MCU film. The scenes of Drax talking about his family, Yondu sacrificing himself for Peter, Nebula and Gamora coming to terms with their relationship and parentage, and Peter's ReAction when he learns that Ego gave his mother the brain tumor that killed her. It's amazing how much emotion, sentiment, pain, and joy can be elicited in a film involving a sentient tree and a talking racoon. Plus it has both Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone it in. 

   2017 saw three huge MCU releases and the next up is Spider-Man: Homecoming. I am, admittedly, not a huge Spider-Man fan, but I was definitely excited by the prospect of Spidey entering the MCU and I think Tom Holland does a fantastic job with the character. Homecoming excels in "introducing" us to Spider-Man (yeah, he appeared in Civil War, but this film really lets us get to know him) without being an Origin story. Tom Holland's Peter Parker is quite lovable and he manages to do a great job as both Peter and as Spider-Man, something not every other actor to don the red and blue underoos has been able to pull off. While the appearance of Tony Stark/ Iron Man certainly captures your attention he never really overshadows Spidey. His mentorship, or lack thereof, is a crucial part of Peter's growth. Michael Keaton is excellent as the Vulture (not that they call him that) and is an incredibly intimidating presence. The action scenes are excellent in this one, delivering much smaller scale battles than we are accustomed to in the MCU while feeling significant. 

   Last up in the 2017 trifecta is Taika Waititi's excellent Thor: Ragnarok. Thor was a solid movie and Thor: The Dark World was ambitious but dull but Thor: Ragnarok is a true spectacle that is action packed, atmospheric, and hilarious. Chris Hemsworth has always been quite funny in his appearances as Thor but Ragnarok goes out of it's way to really show off his comedic timing. The film has a great squad in "The Revengers" with Hulk/ Bruce Banner (who gets one of the best intros in any MCU film, especially because my daughter didn't know he was going to show up) and Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie. Loki is back to being his Lokiest, living legend Jeff Goldblum is being his Jeff Goldblumiest as the Grandmaster, and Cate Blanchett is one of the most memorable MCU villains. She is absolutely chilling and stunning in every seen she is in in this movie! The design work is incredible and the way the film leads into Infinity War makes it a must watch. Ranking Phase III is going to be incredibly difficult!

Wow! What a week! Let's wrap things up by checking out the most popular reviews of the week. There are quite a few surprises this time...

Mother Boxes from DC Comics Multiverse: Justice League is a review from 2017 that has shot up in popularity no doubt due to how well received the Snyder cut of Justice League has been. These were a build an accessory that came with a few of the Walmart exclusive figures back when Mattel still had the DC license. 

Barbecue's Bonfire 3/5/2021: Moving Through the MCU Phase 1 and 2 at Light (of the Jedi) Speed Edition is on it's second week on this list. It's always funny to me when Barbecue's Bonfire makes it onto the most popular list. Is it all of the Marvel mini reviews or the Light of the Jedi that is getting the attention? Having a Barbecue's Bonfire installment appear on this list is almost Inception-like, isn't it?

Zodac from Masters of the Universe Origins is on his third week and seems to be another sign of the popularity of Masters of the Universe Origins. How long will this neutral man stay on the list?

The Scientist from Fortnite: Legendary Series is the only of Jazwares' deluxe Brawlers I've found so far. His bulkiness hurts his articulation and he has a hard time holding his weapons but he has some cool accessories and a great design. On a related note, Hasbro showed off their first Fortnite preorder today and it's not very impressive. $40 bucks and it comes with just an umbrella? What in the world?

Frozen Raven from Fortnite: Legendary Series is on his second week. The Fortnite figures usually make a hit for a week or two when I review them and Frozen Raven is here to cool things down for us. How many people expected him to be a Fortnite Version of Elsa or something I wonder?

Prototype Armaments from Action Force is a pre-release set of unpainted accessories that are getting me pumped up for the release of the Action Force figures this summer. These weapons go great with G.I. Joe: Classified Series and Marvel Legends figures, too, so they're well worth picking up. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

That's it for this week! I get my 2nd Covid-19 vaccine today so wish me luck! 


  1. I didn't read your post yet, but you reminded me I haven't watched any of this series yet. Don't want to spoil it.

    1. Definitely give it a watch. I'm really enjoying it, especially this past Friday's episode.


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