Q: Good evening! I’m glad you guys are visiting my blog today. We have another special guest. I’m interviewing Poppy Appleton, aka Ahsoka Giya. She’s a steampunk cosplayer and a member of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe. The SWSU is a cosplay group and charity organization that’s continually growing in members. I interviewed a couple members in the past and everybody in the SWSU seems to be very pleasant company. Thanks for joining us, Poppy.
A: Glad to be here, Stephanie!
Q: Your SWSU persona is Ahsoka Giya. Would you mind telling us about it?
A: Ahsoka Giya is a steampunk imagining of Ahsoka Tano. Giya meaning gear in Japanese. I tried to keep a silhouette of the character from season 3-5 of the Clone Wars but with a steampunk twist.
Q: Why did you join the SWSU?
A: My husband (Cog Bane) and I had recently moved from northern California to San Diego. We have been friends with Nathan Seekerman for a few years after meeting at the different cons. When we moved to San Diego, he asked that we join! After seeing the great charity work the group provides to the community, we were in.
Q: It seems like the SWSU is getting bigger. Are you getting a lot more members?
A: Yes, the group is steadily growing. I love it because it's wonderful to see the great costumes that people come up with.
Q: Aside from yourself, which member of the SWSU has the most interesting costume?
A: I have always loved Rebecca’s take on Boba Fett (Lady Babette Fett). There’s always something new and interesting on her costume. And it’s just lovely!
Q: What’s your favorite Star Wars film?
A: I honestly love then all, even the prequels! But as a kid, I LOVED Empire Strikes Back when they were on Hoth. I love Wampa! I feel the story and character development were nicely paced and there’s lots of fun stuff, such as AT-ATs, Yoda, Boba Fett, and we really get to see Luke dive into his Jedi powers. And of course the, “I am your father!” Ahh! I love it!
Q: Regarding cosplay in general, what do you enjoy most about it?
A: The community! The community is amazing and wonderfully supportive. I also love cosplay because any day can be dress up day! I feel cosplay really gets the side of myself that craves creativity.
Q: I think some people label cosplayers a degenerate subculture of social misfits. Why do you think certain people give cosplay a negative label?
A: Degenerate subculture of social misfits isn’t a negative label at all! I think a lot of us identify with being different and cosplay makes us feel we belong not only to the characters we love and embody but to a group that understands this love for these characters.
Q: Do you have other cosplay personas?
A: I have several and they are all steampunk. I have a steampunk bandit, steampunk princess, steampunk jester, and a steampunk gunslinger.
Q: Let’s move to a few steampunk questions. It seems like most steampunk fans have their own unique view on the genre. How would you define steampunk?
A: I have always looked at steampunk with a very wide lens. It’s the future in the past, or the past in the future. Since there is no definitive movie or book, steampunk is what you make of it. So long as it’s weird, it’s steampunk.
Q: Do you have a favorite steampunk book series?
A: I LOVED the Leviathian series by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a young adult novel series but it was so good. I also enjoyed Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I also dabbled in Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris.
Q: Steampunk enthusiasts seem to be multiplying. Why do you think people are drawn to the genre?
A: Steampunk is a very fluid genre and I think that attracts people who want something weird or different, but still want some individuality to their own personal creations. This is appealing to people like myself who want to make a character their own.
Q: I noticed several whimsical elements in steampunk, like gears, goggles, top hats, parasols, and various knick knacks. What are your favorite steampunk accessories?
A: The jewelry! I love weird jewelry. The weirder, the better! I make all of my own jewelry so I try to put my own twists on things. I also love hats. I have a hat or headpiece for every costume.
Q: My own book series has a combination of steampunk and post-apocalyptic elements. We’re definitely seeing more post-apocalyptic steampunk literature, but some people don’t believe the two genres can blend together. On the flip side, some people don’t understand how steampunk can be anything except post-apocalyptic. What are your thoughts about that dilemma?
A: I think steampunk fits in post-apocalyptic literature and outside of it. Steampunk is very fluid and I think that works for many different “worlds.” I think the only dilemma may be a persons love for a certain type of literature that they can’t imagine sharing a steampunk world outside of that.
Q: Is there anything exciting coming up for you?
A: Just trying to finish some costume updates for Ahsoka for Comic-Con. I’d like to tackle a few bigger projects this year but we’ll see ;)
Q: I’m really glad we talked. You gave a lot of fun and interesting answers. Thanks for letting us know more about yourself and the fabulous Ahsoka Giya. I will probably run into you and other members of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe at future events. Best wishes to you and the entire organization.
A: Thank you! And thank you for the opportunity!
That concludes my interview with Poppy Appleton. I really enjoyed talking to her. She seems really fun and open minded to everything in the realm of steampunk or science fiction in general. In fact, the entire SWSU is a swell group. Hopefully, many of you guys will have the pleasure of meeting her at some of the steampunk festivals or comic cons. I also want to thank Con Woman Photography, Sonny Meas Photography, and The Photobloggin' Fedora/“Kimihiro-kun” for taking a few of the lovely photos in this post. You guys can find Ahsoka Giya on Instagram as Poppy Appleton. I'm also going to leave Facebook links for Poppy and the SWSU. Please leave comments if you want to say anything about this interview. I hope you enjoyed the experience and stay tuned for my next blog post. Have a good week!
Welcome back! Today’s post is going to be a double feature review for Transformers: The Last Knight and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Both of these films have a huge emphasis on science fiction and action, but they're very different from each other. If you only want to read about one of these movies, it's perfectly fine. Just scroll to the section you want to see. Let's dive into The Last Knight and see what it has to offer.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Transformers films. The franchise doesn’t have a great track record. It’s known for having lackluster plots, excessive action scenes, forgettable characters, and total disorganization. Can The Last Knight break the curse? You’ll find out through my discussion of positive and negative material.
Naturally, I’m going to talk about the movie’s better elements first. I wanted to like this film so badly. Transformers are really cool and it’s too bad the movies always fall short. Luckily, I found some positive components. The overall concept is very interesting. In short, humans and Autobots joined forces to fight evil for centuries, starting with King Arthur. The film begins in the modern era with Optimus Prime hurdling through space toward his home planet called Cybertron. Optimus Prime wants to seek vengeance against Quintessa, his maker. Unfortunately, she brainwashes our hero to become her minion known as Nemesis Prime. Cybertron is going to fly through space until it destroys earth. Why does Quintessa want to destroy earth? She needs to suck away the earth’s vital resources, restoring the desolate Cybertron to its former glory. Apparently, a descendant of Merlin can take control of a mystical staff that will depower Quintessa and rescue earth. It sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but the concept actually works. I particularly like the Knights of the Round Table idea. There’s a knightly order and some of our characters have secret identities. I don’t want to give away too many details, but it’s a major part of the storyline that brings a lot of mystery and unique elements to the film. You’ll see a lot of flashbacks that will give clarity to the overall concept. It was a very nice effort to bring something new to Transformers. The King Arthur element also placed a bigger emphasis on storytelling. Previous Transformers movies relied almost entirely on visual effects, but The Last Knight has a much stronger plot.
I really enjoyed the two lead roles. Mark Wahlberg is a great action hero as Cade Yeager. Some of you might feel upset about his performance in Age of Extinction. He does a much better job in this movie. Yeager is very likeable as an individual character and I’m sure some audience members can identify with him. The character is a great modern protagonist with some flaws. It makes sense because nobody is perfect. I also liked Laura Haddock as Vivianne Wembly. She’s a college professor and the female lead. I didn’t expect this to happen, but Wembly falls in line with really strong female characters from the 2017 lineup. She’s intelligent, strong minded, heroic, and a bit snarky. That part really surprised me. By the way, she plays an important role in the story. Wembly makes a good budding love interest for Yaeger, but she’s not in the movie just to be his girlfriend. The two characters have really nice chemistry and it’s the idea of opposites attract. He’s a jock and washed up inventor with a heart made of gold. She’s very intellectual, sophisticated, and stubborn. I really enjoyed the dynamic. Anthony Hopkins deserves a nod too. I thought his role as Sir Edmund Burton was a fun and appropriate supporting character. He plays the quirky mentor character really well.
Some of the Transformers deserve a spotlight in this review too. Bumblebee plays a much bigger part in this film. That’s great for someone like me because I’m a huge Bumblebee fan. The Dinobots are still awesome. They didn’t have a particularly big role in this movie, but I still appreciate their appearance. Plus, there are baby Dinobots nows. How cute! I hope we’ll see them in future movies. One of the new Autobots is Hot Rod. I thought he was pretty cool with a likeable personality. Hot Rod is a Lamborghini, but ironically, he has a French accent. That part is a little perplexing to me. This film has another cool addition. A three headed dragon Autobot crosses over from King Arthur’s time period. Sci-fi movies are always more fun with dragons, in my opinion.
I can’t ignore the actions scenes. They’re fabulous. I saw better CGI in other films this year, but the action is very exciting and fun. It’s not Transformers without huge amounts of action. Part of the film has a tense apocalyptic element and it works really well with the action sequences. Furthermore, the King Arthur subplot has a lot of action too. They also cut down on the run time. The Last Knight is two and half hours, which is much shorter than the other installments. I watched several of the previous movies on cable television. They run for literally four hours, including commercials. It’s completely unnecessary. So, I definitely prefer the shorter duration.
It probably sounds like I loved this film. Well, I also have quite a bit of criticism. The Last Knight is still a mediocre Transformers movie. It’s one of the better films, but that doesn’t say much. Somehow, Michael Bay and his writers can’t create a fun action movie with great characters, humor, tension, and a decent plot. They try to work with this formula, but the different components never come together. For example, this film tries to be funny. Most of the humor is lame. Other movies were quite witty this year. I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Beauty and the Beast, and the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie had plenty of appropriate humor. There’s no reason why this one couldn’t be funnier.
I liked several elements of the plot, but it felt disjointed. Some parts didn’t make a lot of sense and I noticed some plot holes. Again, I don’t want to give away spoilers. If you see the movie, the flaws are quite noticeable. Here’s another recurring problem from the franchise. Some parts of the film are very slow. I don’t know why Transformers has so many boring scenes. That’s not typical of a fast paced sci-fi series, but all of the Transformers films have this problem.
There’s also an issue with some of the Autobots and Decepticons. Firstly, Optimus Prime isn’t a very big character in this movie. Shocking, right? You’ll see him in the beginning and close to the end. Near the end, he becomes the great hero we all know and love. But it’s too late. It seems very strange for Optimus Prime to have such a subdued role. Don’t get excited about the Nemesis Prime element. It’s not a particularly big part of the story. The trailers really bloated that part of the movie. I’m also unenthusiastic about many of the remaining Autobots and Decepticons. Aside from Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Hot Rod, and the Dinobots, the other cool or interesting Transformers are dead. They were killed in previous movies. The newer Transformers are more cartoonish and don’t bring anything exciting to the films. Most of them are supposed to be funny, but it’s not gelling for me. I feel torn about a new robot named Cogman who was voiced by Jim Carter. Cogman is a little bit like C-3PO from Star Wars and he brings a unique, quirky, British element to the franchise. He’s Sir Burton’s butler and probably the most amusing character. But his personality is erratic and mildly sociopathic for some reason. I don’t understand why Cogman is so twitchy.
At this point, I’m ready for the Transformers series to end. I like the idea of a Bumblebee solo movie, but the overall franchise isn’t delivering quality films. Supposedly, there’s going to be a sequel to this movie. I heard that Michael Bay might be leaving the Transformers series. Maybe that’s a good thing. I would like to see if someone else can bring a higher quality to the films. Usually, I’m not overly picky with action movies. I just want to see good entertainment value and a few strong elements. But I feel like we should see more of those components from all of the Transformers films.
Is this movie worth the price for the tickets? That depends. If you’re a big fan of the Transformers films, it’s worth the money. I think it’s a good movie for kids who enjoy action and science fiction. The film is PG-13 and it might be a decent family outing. After all, a lot of kids love Transformers. Most of you guys could probably wait for DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, or Red Box. I didn’t hate the movie at all. It had some really good elements, but the total package was somewhat disappointing. But it's still playing in theaters if you're interested.
Let's move on to Spider-Man. This film surprised me a lot. I was expecting a different type of superhero movie. Does Homecoming give an accurate representation of Spider-Man? Is it one of the better Marvel films? Keep reading to find out.
Actually, I have a lot of positive comments about this movie. The plot ties into some of the other Marvel films. A man named Adrian Toomes runs a salvage yard business and is picking up scraps from the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Unfortunately, a team of suits from Stark Industries are taking over the clean up from post-superhero conflicts. It's a permanent arrangement, forcing Toomes out of work indefinitely. The film jumps ahead to our current time period and focuses on the youthful Spider-Man who's struggling to balance school and his role as a superhero. Peter Parker is Spider-Man's alter ego and a budding intern to Tony Stark. Parker desperately wants to become one of the Avengers, but Stark doesn't think he's ready yet. Much of the film emphasizes common difficulties in high school and adolescence. It also shows the trouble some people have when their careers are thrown out the window. I think many people will identify with the storyline. It's an accurate representation of adolescence. Plus, the real world is experiencing a shift in careers and it's very disruptive for many people. Toomes plays the role of Vulture, Spider-Man's villain in this movie, but I'm sure some viewers will understand his downfall.
This was definitely the most faithful version of Spider-Man in cinema. I can tell the writers did their homework. Their version of Spider-Man seemed very accurate to the comic books in terms of his personality and values. Tom Holland's portrayal of Peter Parker was spot on. He's nerdy, awkward, unpopular in school, but also ambitious and a dreamer with a big heart. Many of the characters admit that Parker is probably the smartest boy in their school. It seemed like a genuine representation of Spider-Man and his alter ego. They changed some elements about Spider-Man's character, but I didn't have a problem with it. The changes didn't take away from his personality or authenticity.
This movie is oddly realistic. I really appreciate that part. Peter Parker undergoes the same problems that any teenager has in a social setting. He feels somewhat confused about his identity and wants to become part of something special. Some of the characters bully him and Parker doesn't always feel motivated to put his best effort in schoolwork. Parker's issues also harm his ability as a superhero. Spider-Man is still learning how to refine his super powers and it's a zany sight to behold. He's very awkward and clumsy, leaving a wake of destruction throughout New York. I'm sure many of his neighbors would be upset because he causes so much property damage. But at least he's not causing damage intentionally.
Homecoming includes many supporting characters from the comics. Most of them were significantly altered. Truthfully, I thought the changes improved the quality of the characters. The teenagers in the film seemed more like real kids. All of their personalities and flaws were totally believable and I'm sure all of us met similar characters in real life at one point. There's a variety of ethnicities in Homecoming. It doesn't accomplish anything special, but I appreciate the effort because many schools have diverse cultures. Aunt May is now young and hot. I th0ught Marisa Tomei gave a really good performance and brought some humor to the film. You might think it's weird to make such a drastic change to Aunt May, but it's actually quite appropriate. Peter Parker is only fifteen in this movie, so it makes sense if Aunt May isn't an old lady. We also catch a glimpse of Aaron Davis from the comics. His role is pretty minimal, but I wonder if we're going to see him play the Prowler in future installments. I guess we'll find out later.
Michael Keaton was really solid as the Vulture. He's a family man who fell on hard times and used old parts from alien technology to create really powerful weapons. Now he's selling them on the streets of New York. It's a good example of two wrong don't make a right. His Vulture costume is very impressive. Toomes can fly effortlessly through the sky and he has mechanical vulture feet that can grab objects or people. Vulture is intimidating and a ruthless antagonist. I think Vulture is visually one of the more impressive Marvel villains. Over time, he becomes more corrupt from his life of crime. With that said, it's still easy to feel sympathetic for him. Toomes believes he's doing the right thing and it's kind of sad. You'll get acquainted with his family in this film. I'm not giving away the details, but that part shows his inner conflicts.
I also appreciate other parts of this movie. There's plenty of humor. It helped move the story's pace. The action scenes are great. They're fun, exciting, and a good way to showcase Spider-Man's abilities. Many of the actions scenes actually serve an important component to the plot. Iron Man gave a high tech suit to Spider-Man and it adds many cool elements to the action scenes. Some of the diehard Spider-Man fans might have a problem with the huge emphasis on technology, but it didn't bother me at all. It works fine for the purposes of the individual film and the overall MCU. There are many references to other Marvel films in Homecoming. I thought it was very funny and a cool way to tie other Marvel elements to this film. Iron Man is a supporting character and I think it's always nice to see a cameo from popular heroes. I thought it was interesting that Spider-Man's villains are using alien technology to create their high tech suits. It was another cool way to connect Spider-Man with other Marvel films.
Naturally, I have a little bit of criticism. At times, the movie feels a bit slow. It's not a huge problem, but Homecoming tries to have a really big emphasis on the story. I wanted to see more actions scenes. They're awesome, but the scenes were spread kind of thin throughout the movie. I didn't like Peter Parker's best friend named Ned. He's another geeky kid and a social misfit. That part doesn't bother me. I just don't think he's a genuine friend. The trailers reveal that Ned knows Peter Parker's identity as a superhero. Ned is more worried about using the Spider-Man image for his own benefit than being a good friend to Peter Parker. He finds some redemption along the way, but I still find the character quite superficial. Toomes needed more screen time too. I thought Vulture was a great villain and we didn't see enough of him. The Shocker is a villain from the comic books and Vulture's right hand man. He had a really cool ability to electrocute people with a high tech gauntlet, but the character wasn't very memorable or fleshed out. The Shocker was pretty much a goon for hire.
Who should see the new Spider-Man movie? Anybody can have fun seeing this film, but it definitely caters to teenagers and kids in general. Homecoming would be a really good family outing. I'm sure many children and teenagers will enjoy this movie a lot. It's totally fine for adults too. If Spider-Man is your favorite superhero, I definitely believe it's a good idea to see Homecoming. Viewers who saw the other Marvel films will also like this movie. I have a feeling some of the most devout Spider-Man fans will resent the changes. It's a matter of preference though. Despite the changes to Spider-Man and his powers, I still believe this is the most accurate version of him in live action films.
That's all for now. Next week's blog post is going to be really juicy. But you'll have to wait and found out next weekend. Did any of you see Transformers or Spider-Man yet? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought. I'm sure some of you will have different feedback than me. Take care of yourselves and try to beat the summer heat. Chow!
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