Plex has become a mainstay in our home over the last couple of years, expanding from only housing our movies and TV shows to also include educational programs and songs for the kids, series I’ve enjoyed and wanted to archive off of YouTube, and now … Christmas movies, too!

This is a little project that I’ve wanted to do for a while because previously all of our holiday shows were scattered throughout the regular movie and TV libraries, which are then separated by adult and kid content, whereas I always thought it would be nice around the holidays to have a dedicated library where you could look through only the Christmas stuff when you were sipping hot chocolate and looking to get all jolly and bright and whatnot.

There are a couple of different ways you can do it…

  • Create a separate folder and copy all of your holiday movies and shows into it, then add it to a new library dedicated to holiday shows … but this takes up twice as much space.
  • Create separate TV and movie folders for Christmas movies, then add them to both your existing libraries as well as your new holiday library.
  • (my choice) Create a new folder for Christmas shows and point your new library at it, then create symlinks to all of the media in their original locations.

This last option ended up working out well for me because it saved me from shuffling a bunch of files around, plus it gave me a fix for an unexpected problem that arose from certain Christmas specials that are normally organized under TV shows…

See, with the main Christmas library in Plex defined as a Movie library, it doesn’t find a metadata lookup for Garfield – S00E06 – A Garfield Christmas.mkv. The nice thing about symlinks, though, is that the linked name doesn’t need to equal the source name, and so I’m able to turn the TV-friendly filename into something that the IMDB can actually recognize like this – A Garfield Christmas Special (1987).mkv.

The command I used in Linux to create these links looks like this (executed in my new Christmas movies library folder):

ln -s "/path/to/TV Shows/Garfield & Friends/Specials/Garfield - S00E06 - A 
Garfield Christmas.mkv" "A Garfield Christmas Special (1987).mkv"

I’d say it took me maybe a couple of hours spread out over several sessions of searching through each library for the shows & movies I wanted, then copy & pasting the links into a Terminal window to create each symlink. The result is a nice, clean library with nothing but Christmas, and if I need to hide it away come January 1st until next season, that’s easy enough to do, too. 😉

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

April 8, 2018 10:35pm
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This is a surprisingly difficult list to make!

It’s hard to believe that Marvel has put out eighteen superhero movies since we first got the Iron Man movie that set the stage back in 2008.

It’s equally hard to believe, though I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising, that while some were just fantastic, others were pretty lackluster. I definitely found myself shuffling a few movies back and forth as I worked my way through the list from 2008 to present, and I hope that Infinity War ends up just blowing everything else out of the water, but we’ll see. 😉

I’m not going to say a lot for every one of these, but here’s how my ranking ended up along with a few notes here and there…

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger – My all-time favorite Marvel movie to date – first it was Iron Man, but I just loved the sincerity that Chris Evans brings to this character, and his early chats with Dr. Erskine about being a good man I think really speak to the heart of who Captain America is.
  2. The Avengers – The BIG blockbuster, back when The Avengers were only half a dozen kids trying to save the world! After the other Phase 1 movies all teased up to forming a team of heroes, Joss Whedon did an incredible job of making this movie HUGE, from the reveal of the first heli-carrier to the battle for New York itself!
  3. Iron Man – I honestly really loved the first movie, despite not caring for the character as much as he’s evolved in the MCU, but just watching Iron Man walk out of that cave for the first time or fly into the night sky will always be awesome!
  4. Black Panther – Wonderful.
  5. Iron Man 2 – I don’t really go back and watch this much, but for the most part it really is one of the better Marvel movies. I never cared for how they re-cast War Machine, but the chemistry was good and it was still early enough in the MCU that seeing all of those robots fighting was pretty impressive!
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy – A much different Marvel movie than I had been expecting, but the Guardians are a much different brand of heroes, so that’s why I think it really worked. Curious to see how they mesh together with the Avengers in Infinity War.
  7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – This movie took a while to grow on me because I didn’t care for the Dr. Zola’s head in a computer act, but the rest is actually pretty solid. Plus we get to see more of Black Widow … why hasn’t she gotten her own movie yet???
  8. Thor: Ragnarok – I thought it was decent, but not as groundbreaking as a lot of other people thought it was.
  9. The Avengers: The Age of Ultron – The first Avengers movie was pretty tough to live up to, and adding more heroes to the mix was tricky. Plus, X-Men had already done Quicksilver way better, so that was a bit of a disappointment. 😛
  10. Thor – The rest of the movie really isn’t that bad, but I kind of hated Natalie Portman in it.
  11. Doctor Strange – So basically House gets in a bad car accident and ends up getting rewarded with superpowers for it. Huh.
  12. Ant-Man – No size-pun intended, but this kind of felt like half of a Marvel movie.
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 – I feel like Mantis could’ve made this movie a whole lot shorter if she had really wanted to!
  14. Thor: The Dark World – *yawn*
  15. Captain America: Civil War – Can’t we all just get along?!
  16. Iron Man 3 – Me no like sad Tony Stark.
  17. The Incredible Hulk – I barely even remember this coming out. *shrug*
  18. Spider-Man: Homecoming – Tobey Macguire is my Spider-Man.

What’s your Top 3 look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe???

movie thoughts … Black Panther

April 8, 2018 10:05pm
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I really ended up loving this movie, to the point where I think I would rank it among my all-time favorite Marvel movies, which is honestly a little harder to determine than you’d think!

Still, Top 5 ain’t nothing to be ashamed of in the MCU, as far as I’m concerned… 😉

A few of my own personal highlights:

  • Seeing Randall from This is Us as King T’Chaka’s brother was a bit of a surprise!
  • Having T’Challa’s sister in the Q from James Bond role was a little odd at first, but by the end surprisingly satisfying.
  • …and the Back to the Future reference was wonderful. 😉
  • Having to get stripped of the powers of the Black Panther every time someone challenges you for the throne seems like it would be a big pain in the ass…
  • And lastly, I ended up liking Agent Ross a lot more by the end of this movie … because I don’t know about you, but I really hated him by the end of Civil War.

It was kind of funny because I knew going into this movie that there were somehow multiple Black Panthers because I had seen a photo of the Erik Killmonger Funko Pop where he’s wearing the gold bedazzled panther suit and I was pretty sure that Killmonger wasn’t the name of the good version!

So it was certainly painful to see him reappear and steal the throne away from T’Challa, but of course deep down we knew that one way or another the real Black Panther would one day rise again. 😉

Another thing that I really liked about this movie was just how many inferences could be made to modern day politics if you wanted to look at it in that light, from debates about whether Wakanda’s resources should be used to help the rest of the world versus just keeping them for themselves to later wanting to weaponize those same resources to conquer the world. One quote stood out to me as more relevant than any – “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers…”

…remind you of any wall-loving presidential figure in particular???

I wasn’t sure where this one was going to fall and we ended up going to see it very much on a whim when my visiting sister-in-law offered to stay home after the kids went to bed so we could sneak out – it ended up being a very well done film with plenty of emotion, rich characters who put a new spin on the usual agents and soldiers that we typically see in superhero movies, and I think it did a great job of filling us in on the backstory for Black Panther so we’ve got a little more to go by next month when we see him and the rest of the gang team up against Thanos in Infinity War!

Granted, that’s one thing I would’ve liked to see – even if just in the end credits scene – was another teaser for Infinity War, aside from the quick vignette with Bucky. I was kind of disappointed that the actual trailer didn’t run before this movie because we seemed to get lots of other great superhero and generic action movies in the mix.

Great movie. It’s definitely earned all of its box office recordsincluding more than $1 BILLION in gross worldwide ticket sales?! Wakanda Forever. 😀

movie thoughts … Transformers: The Last Knight

September 18, 2017 2:43pm
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I remember a time when I actually liked the Transformers movies.

The first one (2007) wasn’t bad – a good, solid action flick with plenty of humor thrown into the mix.

And even the second one (2009) was alright, though I never really cared for the name.

From there, though, is where I feel like this franchise started to go downhill – first with Megan Fox’s replacement in #3, and then with Shia LaBeouf being randomly bumped for Mark Wahlberg in #4.

Just to be absolutely, 100% clear without equivocation – Transformers 5 is a raging dumpster fire that should make every last person who appeared in the credits ashamed, as well as everyone who went to see it in the theater, and oh hell, pretty much everyone who spent their 2 hrs 34 min to watch it EVER.

Spoiler #1 – Marky Mark is “The Last Knight.” Because why have some awesome, giant robot fill that roll when … Mark Wahlberg is around?

Spoiler #2 – He’s every bit as awful as he was in Transformers 4.

I don’t even know what to say about these movies anymore. Continuity is garbage, seeing Wahlberg written as a cooler star than Optimus Freaking Prime is just mind blowing, and the plot reads like somebody just throwing darts at a board, and then remembering that they promised a role to XYZ actor every 30 minutes or so and just penciling them in wherever.

Every time the name Cade Yeager is spoken out loud makes me want to punch an Autobot in the face.

The idea that apparently every historical event ever was won only because of the Transformers reads like a Hasbro wet dream.

Megatron negotiating with lawyers is … not what I want to see a 40-foot evil robot doing in a movie, ever.

Oh yeah, and P.S. This plot about bringing Cybertron to Earth already fucking happened once in Transformers 3!!! But I guess while they needed to teleport the planet back in 2011, now it’s cool for them to just drive it across the universe like a planet-sized taxi cab?!

Also also – drones??? 

You have 40-foot tall fighting robots – why do you also need drones?!

*sigh*

So yeah, the movie is garbage … even moreso than the last one was, and yet it will probably be less garbage than Transformers 6 whenever that comes out, because when it comes to Hollywood, dumpster fires are almost impossible to put out.

movie thoughts … Logan

May 18, 2017 1:26pm
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I’ll admit that honestly this movie wasn’t even really on my radar, but I finally got around to watching it and ultimately I was kind of disappointed by it.

Which is really weird for a Wolverine movie, actually!

Ultimately I think my distaste for this final Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman stems from the same reasons that I didn’t care for Iron Man 3 in that simply put – I don’t want to watch weak and feeble superheroes, I want to see them kicking ass…

Right off the bat, my heart kind of sunk during the introductory scenes as we pieced together the current state of affairs and realized that … Wolverine is now an Uber driver??? And it honestly didn’t entirely click with me until I read the Wikipedia plot summary after watching the movie that the reason his mutant healing wasn’t working anymore was simply because he was getting old.

Wait a minute – so the superhero who managed to live for 137 years is just now starting to feel the effects of aging?

Also, while we’re at it – apparently now he lives on an abandoned farm, and Professor X is also getting really old. And there’s an albino mutant who’s basically Professor X’s understudy, except that they hate each other.

How did the studio not take one look at this script and say, “Good grief – that’s a really depressing way for everyone’s favorite superhero to go out?!”

I mean, the general plot makes for a fine story and all, but it’s just not really something that I’d get excited about watching unfold on screen – seeing this incredible super-human who we’ve watched kick amazing quantities of ass now only kicking ass when he goes all berserker, and afterwards he’s really tired, and he’s kind of given up hope on life and just wants to go retire and live on a boat with his live-in father who’s often times more of a hassle than he’s really worth, even though he’s also still got incredible superhero powers though he’s too frail to use them and gets really tired after using them, too.

Was the guy who wrote this script an aging baby boomer who was really into X-Men in his youth and still likes them in theory, but also falls asleep in his lounger a lot with Fox News blathering on in the background?

It’s too bad, really, because it was interesting to see them dabble in the X-23 plot line and they could’ve explored that way further, but instead they just put the kids perpetually on the run … which that point didn’t entirely make sense, either … because ok, your crazy mercenaries followed these mutant kids across the border from Mexico and through the United States – guns a’blazing – but somehow the Canadian border is this magical finish line that will keep the bad people out, if only they can get there?

*sigh*

Frankly, I’ve always been a little disappointed that Fox pounded so hard on Wolverine instead of doing a better job of exploring any of the hundreds of other mutants that they have to choose from. And I get that Wolverine has always been a fan favorite, and Hugh Jackman does a great job of playing him, but why haven’t we seen single hero origin movies for other major players like Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm … or even Magneto?!

Was it only because Marvel had Avengers queued up and they thought they needed X-Men: First Class (a good movie, mind you) to come to the mat? Or was it because the Wolverine standalone movie kind of flopped and they wanted to try a different direction … despite later circling back to do two more Wolverine standalone movies before all was said and done?

It was a sad way to see (SPOILERS) both Wolverine and Professor X go out after all that they’ve been in the previous films over the years – you’d think that if you lived your life being an incredible badass, you’d want to be remembered as such and not the geriatric pill-poppers who are just done with it all and ready for a new class to take the reins, even if there’s no clear path for them to do so and teaching kids how to live with their mutant powers was kind of your thing for a really long time. 🙁

I only stumbled across the cult classic They Live a few years ago, but for some reason I just instantly fell in love with its quirky/creepy take on an alien invasion slowly overtaking mankind.

That said, I almost feel kind of stupid in hindsight because I never really made the connection between alien invasion and class warfare, but after watching this short video featuring interviews with John Carpenter and some of the other folks involved … it’s like seeing for the first time!

Just sleep. Obey. Make America Great Again.

Hits a little too close for home, but it just goes to show you how film can both carry entertainment value and include some pretty deep social commentary at the same time. Almost makes me want to sit down and watch it again just to see how many more GOP warning signs were baked into this movie from 30 years ago… 😉

movie thoughts … Snowden

December 12, 2016 3:10am
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It scares me to think that I distinctly remember when this story broke a few years ago and what a big deal it was, or was supposed to be, and yet here three years later I honestly don’t know how much I trust that anything really happened to change anything.

I mean, I understand that President Obama eventually recanted … to some extent, and then Congress passed some reform bills … to some extent, and for the most part our 24-hour news cycle has long since moved on to other topics as it is wont to do…

…but for a secret spy network whose only accountability is to a group of politicians behind closed doors who don’t have to tell us anything under the guise of national security – how are we supposed to believe that anything actually changed at all after Edward Snowden leaked the security documents that he did???

Cinematically, I think the movie turned out great. Joe Gordon Levitt nailed the role as Snowden, and hopefully it had enough suspense to get the story out to a wider audience, many who may have skipped over the headlines either blindly in the name of fighting terrorism or even merely writing Edward Snowden off as some computer hacker just as disappointingly as Obama did in one of his less admirable points during his presidency.

Because the thing is, I have little doubt that the NSA is technically capable of intercepting telephone and Internet transmissions of normal, everyday American citizens like you and me. And though it admittedly kind of blows my mind how much disk space it would require for a government agency to literally have a record button for THE INTERNET, you can buy a lot of hard drives for the $50 billion a year that’s allegedly our intelligence community’s budget…

…cause we can’t even know that out of fear for national security… 🙁

I think privacy is a very basic concept that most people probably take for granted. If you’re standing inside of your own home and you’re speaking at a reasonable volume, naturally you would assume that nobody outside can hear what you’re saying, and even if what you’re talking about is utter nonsense, you still wouldn’t invite the entire neighborhood into your living room to just sit on your couch and listen to your daily banter with your spouse.

The argument that “people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear” is bullshit because we all have business that we don’t want being shared with random strangers, be it what we call our significant other behind closed doors or the sometimes bizarre Google searches we make out of sheer curiosity at three in the morning or the intimate details of our personal finances.

And one of the cornerstones of our justice system is the idea that each of us is “innocent until proven guilty” which means that spying on Americans just in case one happens to be a terrorist is treason. Yet because the best we can do is trust our politicians that they’re keeping the NSA under control … which has been proven categorically false as of late … not only do we not know if sacrificing our privacy in the name of national security is actually working, we also don’t know if that information is also being used to serve other personal or political motives in the name of perversion or even just good, old-fashioned crooked capitalism!

Because it’s estimated that 50,000 people work for the NSA and if we follow the same contact circles outlined in the movie, it doesn’t take more than a couple of hops to literally have tens of millions of people directly or indirectly connected to the analysts who could have access to anything they ever wanted to know about, well, anyone.

Of course, the whole issue of whistleblowers is a fine line because our government and our military need to keep some things secret in the missions that they’re performing, but when we the people can’t rely on those who we’ve elected to keep everybody honest, that’s when we occasionally need people like Edward Snowden or Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who are willing to literally put their own lives on the line to point out that what these people are doing behind closed doors isn’t right.

Great movie, and I really hope that it helps to re-open the discussion about mass surveillance and what we’re really willing to let our governments do with when they tell us that they’re trying to protect us.

movie thoughts … Independence Day: Resurgence

November 19, 2016 2:47am
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id4_2We knew before even pushing play that this was going to be awful, and for all of its many, many flaws, it certainly fulfilled its legacy.

For starters, it’s kind of shocking how this movie even got made and that someone managed to convince a studio that it was worth spending $165 million to make because as far as I could tell, I’m still not sure how this didn’t end up a straight-to-DVD feature!

You’d think that Will Smith’s absence would’ve been the only clue needed that this was destined for failure…

And yet nearly every other B-character, plus Jeff Goldblum!, managed to take time out of their busy schedules to return. It almost became a game trying to remember who each of them played in the original movie before their character ended up getting killed this second time around! I mean, good on Will Smith’s widow for actually going to school with that stripping money of hers and all, but so many of these characters were just such a stretch with this movie, it was almost hard to remember that in fact the original Independence Day was a bonafide blockbuster. 😛

I think I was earnestly rooting for the aliens by about the 20 minute mark? I don’t know – when did that weird sphere thing show up that they immediately blasted out of the sky? That was when I was more or less done, and this isn’t a short movie!

The action sequences were forgettable, or at least the ones that weren’t carbon copy versions from when they happened in the first movie, anyways. If you took away all of the cribbing and unnecessary callbacks to the 1996 movie, they probably could’ve got this thing done in under an hour and had people moving on with their lives a bit sooner, but instead we had to meet Will Smith’s son, and understand his backstory … which is basically the same as his Dad’s, and then his Mom has to die – literally before his very eyes.

The only way it could’ve been made any more tedious would’ve been if Jaden Smith had actually been cast as Will’s son.

*shudder*

Bill Pullman’s character is made kind of sad and pathetic, which is too bad because he was awesome in the first one, and the whole idea of the alien queen chasing a school bus through the desert just didn’t work at all.

Plus, when she died all of the other ships just packed up and left – even the great big one the size of the continental US?!

I could’ve swore that we shared our tactics around the world and blew everything up in the last one … we didn’t just zap one and the rest fled like this movie seemed to imply.

But I think I’ve gone on long enough – this movie is great if you’re looking for a really bad movie to watch late on a Friday night, and maybe you’ll only be half paying attention or your spouse will fall asleep partway through.

I can’t wait for Independence Day: Part 3 which is apparently coming out in a couple of years FOR REAL! Maybe they’ll make all of the aliens women to change it up a bit, or maybe they’ll just go the straight-to-DVD route…

…because DVD as a format should be completely dead by 2018, wouldn’t you think?

movie thoughts … Ghostbusters (2016)

October 1, 2016 4:00pm
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ghostbustersI have no problem admitting that I was one of the original haters who thought that this movie was going to be terrible … because it is.

However despite the spin that tried to make it out to be merely a sexist objection to the all-female cast, I’ve come to believe that at least for most of us, it didn’t have anything to do with the cast … sort of.

Overall, what failed this year’s Ghostbusters reboot wasn’t the cast, but unequivocally without a doubt the script because frankly it was uncreative and undoubtedly unoriginal, to the point where it felt like it expected the weight of the beloved Ghostbusters franchise to support it no matter what … and it just didn’t.

The thing about reboots is that they still need to bring something fresh and new to the franchise – something more than just girl power, in this case – but the story itself was kind of boring and in many places just seemed to borrow from the original movie when the writers couldn’t be bothered to come up with a new story device. To that point, things that were probably meant to seem like nods to the franchise – like crossing the streams and fighting with the mayor and bringing the old logo to life – just felt like weak writing instead of proper tributes that the original Ghostbusters deserved.

Even the cameos from the original cast were kind of meh with no real acknowledgement of how they served in the original story.

And so I can’t really blame the cast itself for what ultimately seemed to be a case of bad, uninspired writing because I sincerely think that another version of this movie could’ve been just fine, female cast and all. The story isn’t that hard to write…

30 years after the original events in New York, the original cast has long since been retired as heroes when a new threat appears and these women who grew up on their paranormal tales attempt to dust off the old legends to take over the reins. The story contains plenty of nods to the original movies because they’re shared as anecdotes by the original cast, and in the end the new Ghostbusters save the day and the retired Ghostbusters – along with the crabby mayor – are the first in line to applaud their successors.

The whole stink when the original rumors of this all-female reboot came about wasn’t that girls can’t be Ghostbusters, but that’s all we were given and fans of the franchise demanded more than that. I’m sure that some were sexist, but not all, with many folks like myself just wanting to see more effort put forth than, “It’s Ghostbusters, but with women!” because a simple gender swap is no basis for any story, and it shows in the final product because they didn’t put crap into the writing and the movie fell on its face.

If anything, it did a disservice to the women who were cast because to take on a franchise as beloved like the Ghostbusters, they needed a good script to do their legacy justice. Instead they were given throwaway gags and re-used plot devices that didn’t add anything new to the franchise and just left the rest of us saying, “I told you so.”

All this movie needed to be great was someone who cared enough to write a new Ghostbusters story and then weave elements from the past into it. You can’t just swap out the actors and redo the same story and expect fans to rave about a new Ghostbusters story because it really wasn’t, and that’s a shame because if Sony had really been committed to doing a new Ghostbusters movie, they could’ve done it.

But instead we got this and it got overblown into this big gender war when it really was all just a case of bad writing. 🙁

P.S. Also, I get that it was intended to be a summer blockbuster and all because that’s how the first two were presented, but why not hold off and put them out in October to piggyback on the whole promotional season for Halloween instead??? 

tmnt2I can’t believe I’m saying this, but last night we watched the latest Ninja Turtles movie and it … wasn’t actually that bad???

Looking back, I guess I didn’t even bother writing about the first Michael Bay reboot – that’s how little I cared for it, but after watching Out of the Shadows last night with almost ZERO expectations … it’s almost as if somebody cared enough to set out and make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie this time!

I still think that the turtles themselves look kind of weird, and all I hear is Antonio Scarpachi whenever Splinter speaks, but for the rest, they actually did a really good job of tapping the classic turtles mythos by bringing in more of the bad guys and vehicles and even the Technodrome!

When I heard that Krang was trying to transport the Technodrome to Earth, I was just waiting on the edge of my seat for the turtle blimp to make an appearance … maybe in TMNT 3. 😉

I feel like a big difference between this movie and its predecessor was simply that this one was a lot more fun and didn’t nearly try to take itself as serious as the first one seemed to. I mean, let’s be honest – Bebop and Rocksteady looked kind of funny, much in the same way that the turtles themselves do in this version – but they ran with it anyways and didn’t try to make the characters something that they weren’t, and it worked.

We got to see a little Casey Jones, and even a little Baxter Stockman … though casting Tyler Perry did seem a bit odd … on top of a recasting of Shredder that just seemed to work a lot better, with armor that was a bit more relaxed than the band-aid-warranting monstrosity that they had him running around in for the previous movie!

I’m still not crazy on Megan Fox as April because both movies seemed to make her a bit more central to the plot than she really needs to be in a movie about mutant ninja turtles, but all in all it was a fun movie and it was actually enjoyable from beginning to end – something that you couldn’t exactly claim about the first Michael Bay concoction. 🙂

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