Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ultimate Spider-Man - Nightmare on Christmas

After stopping the Shocker's (Troy Baker) latest robbery on Christmas Eve, Spider-Man (Drake Bell) has a crisis of faith about whether or not being Spidey is actually helping anyone. Giving a tour through Christmases past, present, and future by the angel and devil on his shoulder Spidey takes a look back over his career and considers, for a brief time, hanging up the tights.

Smallville Season Eleven: Continuity #1

After setting up the event in several of the previous mini-series, Smallville Season Eleven: Continuity brings a new Crisis to the Smallville Universe. Lois and Clark may have been able to make it home from a parallel Earth but not before the Monitors have begun deconstructing time and space in the reality they know as home. With all reality being erased, ripped apart to a molecule level, and rewritten, Superman has very little time to save his home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Continuum - The Complete Third Season

The Third Season of Continuum is a promise fulfilled as the show's central character finally begins to question the role in which she's been assigned to track down terrorists from the future who hope to remake the world into something more than the corporate oligarchy where she comes from. Alliances would change, friendships would be destroyed, two Alec Sadlers (Erik Knudsen) fight for control of futuristic technologies, and Kiera Cameron's (Rachel Nichols) belief in her mission would eventually be shaken to its core.

Highlights of the season include Kiera turning on the Freelancers, an episode set in her past involving Kiera tracking down Kagame (Tony Amendola) and Liber8, the season finale which sets up an entire new set of problems for our heroine, the reveal of the true identity of Kiera's new friend (Ryan Robbins), Dillon (Brian Markinson) choosing to use his daughter to infiltrate Liber8, the death of a major supporting character, and Kiera choosing which Alec to betray.

The Librarians - And the Apple of Discord

The return of magic into the world leads to the awakening of two tribes of dragons, a theft, and the threat of an all-out war which would destroy most of the world. To prevent just such events from occurring Flynn (Noah Wyle) returns to the annex to act as arbiter but due to a slight misunderstanding and specific customs finds his role usurped by Ezekiel (John Kim) who is unprepared to deal with his new duties, especially when they include leading a conclave whose members include Dulaque (Matt Frewer).

The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1

I'm far from Grant Morrison's biggest fan, and the New 52 bastardization of Billy Batson into a teenage punk unworthy of the magic of Shazam still drives me crazy, so my expectations for The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 were pretty damn low. I was wrong.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Super MegaFest 2014 Cosplay

A nice video collection of cosplay from this year's New York Comic-Con including Dr. Doom (:03), Wonder Woman (:18), and Batman Beyond's Dee Dee (1:03).


Shot over the course of 12 years, Boyhood is one of the most ambitious projects any filmmaker has attempted to tackle. It's also easily one of the best films of the year.

Starting the project at age 5 we witness Ellar Coltrane grow-up as Mason over the filming of Richard Linklater's latest film which began production in 2002 and finally arrived in theaters in 2014. Over its 165-minute running time Mason's scripted tale delves into his relationships with both his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke), the complexities of modern-day extended families, and the journey of Mason from grade school to college.

Begun without a finished script, but with an established beginning and ending, Linklater adapted the story by the changes he saw in his cast over the years. Arquette and Hawke carry much of the early scenes of the movie while Coltrane takes over a larger part of the story as he grows as an actor.

All-New X-Men #34

The time-displaced X-Men's (along with X-23) visit to the Marvel Ultimate Universe continues as Jean Grey goes looking for help only to come face-to-face with this world's X-Men including herself. Reading each others minds creates immediate confusion for both telepaths but also forges an unusual friendship between the pair understanding the highs and lows of each other's troubled lives. Attempting to return home to Cyclops' compound, Angel and X-23 also discover that they are indeed in the wrong world and, as far as they know, without a way to get back home.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #41

As Splinter, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo continue training with Old Hob's new army of mutants to go to war against the Shredder and the Foot Clan, Donatello continues his attempt to form a shaky peace with his father's enemy realizing that the imminent threat of the Krang is a far bigger danger than continuing old blood feuds.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Doctor Who - Last Christmas

With more than a passing resemblance to "For the Man Who Has Everything," the latest Doctor Who Christmas special reunites The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) at the North Pole to deal with Dream Crabs which have infested a small arctic science station and have begun to feed on their hosts while offering each of them dreams of better lives while slowly digesting their brains. Oh, and did I mention Santa Claus (Nick Frost) and his Elves are there, too?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hilary Duff is still one 'Elle of a Girl, Eh?

Actress and singer Hilary Duff is the cover girl for the December issue of Elle Canada to help promote her new album. You can find the pics from her photo shoot inside.

Astro City #18

So much of Astro City deals with the fringe, normal people on the periphery of the super-hero world, that when you get a comic centered around a particular hero you are always a bit surprised. Beginning a new four-issue arc, "The Dimming of the Day" gives us a peek at aging crimefighters Crackerjack and Quarrel while offering a contemplative look back at the humble origins of the later who used her natural gifts and tragic family history to carve out a life as a super-hero.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Imitation Game

Code breaking is an art as much as a science and never was it needed, or more artfully accomplished, than by the British during World War II. Set during the middle of Second World War, The Imitation Game follows an unlikely group of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions, and intelligence officers who were thrown together with the singular goal of breaking Germany's unbreakable code known as Enigma. Enter Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who might have been the biggest hero of the war if every advancement he made in cryptology (including the creation of the first computer) hadn't been state secrets until well after his death.


Mash-up The Bridge on the River Kwai and Rescue Dawn, while oversimplifying it for mainstream audiences, and you've got something that looks quite a bit like Angelina Jolie's directorial debut. Unbroken isn't a bad film, but unwilling to color outside the lines Jolie takes a remarkable story and offers us a paint-by-number hero tale that only marginally entertains while struggling to celebrate a man's inspirational journey as a prisoner of war during World War II.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Into the Woods

Based on the stage musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods offers a fairy tale adventure featuring a host of well-known characters whose stories all begin to intertwine over three days in the mysterious woods filling the space between their various homes. The story begins when the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) learn their inability to have children was caused by a curse put on his family by an evil Witch (Meryl Streep). The Witch, however, offers the couple a way to break the curse if they can gather an odd assortment of items before the blue moon in three days time. And that, as you might expect, is where the other characters come in.

Samurai Jack #15

The final issue of "The Quest of the Broken Blade" pits Samurai Jack against Aku without the magical sword which is the only weapon the evil demon fears. Those waiting for a big throwdown between the pair are not going to be disappointed as the entire comic is a single battle between Jack and Aku that ends with the samurai's sword restored and Aku's relentless attacks paused as the evil shape-shifting master of darkness escapes once more.

How the sword reappears is a bit of a surprise but certainly fits into the metaphysical aspects of the comic and the animated show which spawned it as the character not only finds the strength to keep fighting from within but the weapon by which to do so as well.

With the arc complete Jack has earned the sword bequeathed to him by his father all those years ago, but still stuck in Aku's demented future our hero is no closer to finding a path home. His quest, it seems, will continue. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Obvious Child

Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child is the harsh look at modern life and romantic relationships that the more ballyhooed Enough Said never had the balls to be (choosing instead to fall back on basic romcom clichés). Jenny Slate stars as a struggling stand-up comedian whose recent break-up leads to a drunken hook-up with a man (Paul Briganti) she barely knows. Despite having the best night she can remember (even if she can only remember tiny pieces of it) the shamed Donna attempts to move on which becomes more difficult when she discovers she's pregnant weeks later.

Batman '66 #17

Lost in his delusional state as King Tut once again, the history professor turned super-villain unleashes an ancient plague upon Gotham turning the local populace into mindless zombies for their new pharaoh to control. Thankfully for the city's inhabitants, Batman is up on his Egyptology and exploits an obvious flaw in the villain's latest mad scheme.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Librarians - And Santa's Midnight Run

So Santa Claus is real. And he's Bruce Campbell. The latest episode of the The Librarians returns both Lesley-Ann Brandt and Matt Frewer as members of the Serpent Brotherhood still looking for magic to transform the world to their liking. The Librarians-in-Training are called in to stop the villains' latest plan to kidnap Santa on Christmas Eve and steal a year of accumulated good will before it can be released.

Justice League United #7

The Infinitus Saga continues with Stargirl stepping up and talking some sense into both teams about the rather unheroic actions of killing a powerful child because of what he might one day turn into in one possible future timeline. The entire concept of the Legion of Super-Heroes heading backwards in time to commit murder has bothered me since the beginning of the arc rather than having the heroes struggle to find the more heroic thing to do, and I'm happy to see my favorite member of the current Canadian Justice League team be the one to step-up here as the cheap out of snapping someone's neck appears to be off the table.

The Mentalist - Black Market

"Black Market" feels a bit like a story concept that has struggled to make it to air for several seasons as Jane's (Simon Baker) illness forces Lisbon (Robin Tunney) into the role of fake psychic to draw out a killer. I think the idea is more interesting than the final product, but Tunney has fun with the script having Lisbon be the one to unmask a killer through a bit of subterfuge, grandstanding, and keen observation.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday with Dianna

Batgirl #37

Barbara set her sights on someone who has been having a bit too much fun impersonating Batgirl, in a more sparkly costume, enjoying the party life and bruising Batgirl's reputation in the process. While still making amends to Black Canary, Babs drags her friends to an art gallery hoping to uncover a lead to find the impostor but only finds more embarrassment (much to Dinah's devilish glee - although where does Black Canary keep disappearing to when there are villains putting civilians in danger?) at a fetish photography exhibit with Batgirl as its star attraction.

Young Justice: Invasion

Set five years after the show's First Season, the Second Season of Young Justice introduced older versions of the original show's characters while expanding the team with a new set of young heroes as well. Invasion's overall arc involves the behind-the-scenes manipulations of The Light as well as the arrival of The Reach on Earth whose true purposes are far more nefarious than the aliens let on.

With Dick Grayson moving onto the role of Nightwing (Jesse McCartney) the team gets a new Robin (Cameron Bowen) along with Batgirl (Alyson Stoner), Wonder Girl (Mae Whitman), and Impulse (Jason Marsden) all becoming a part of the team. Aqualad (Khary Payton) and Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) will both spend a large portion of the season undercover with The Light, the truth about Red Arrow & Arsenal will be discovered, and another founding member of the team will give his life to save the world from The Reach in the series finale.

Elementary - End of Watch

The murder of a police officer brings all of the department's resources to bear including Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), Watson (Lucy Liu), and Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond) who uncover some unsettling news about the victim's drug habit and the lengths he took to try and pay for it. When a second patrolmen is killed soon after, with no ties to the now disgraced first victim, Holmes and his team work to find a connection and uncover what is really going on.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

Written and directed by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman The Skeleton Twins, is a holiday release staple of a awkward family dramedy starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as estranged twins who both contemplate suicide on the same day.

Brought back together after Milo's unsuccessful suicide attempt, Maggie and Milo get to know each other again after being apart for nearly an entire decade as Milo struggles to fit into Maggie's life with her optimistic go-getter husband (Luke Wilson) while discovering his sister's life is just as fucked-up as his own as she continually cheats on the man she professes to love while hiding the fact that she's still on birth control as they try to get pregnant.

Neither as dramatic nor humorous as you might first assume given the subject matter and its two former Saturday Night Live stars, splitting the difference The Skeleton Twins mixes in some dark humor to balance out the siblings' poor life choices which lead them both to consider taking their own lives.

Covert Affairs - Gold Soundz

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The Fifth Season comes to a close with Annie (Piper Perabo) and McQuaid (Nic Bishop) hunted by an elite Russian hit squad while trying to make it out of Argentina alive with Aleksandre Belenko (Shawn Dowyle). Despite some tense moments, and Belenko not giving up on his plans to kill Auggie (Christopher Gorham), the threesome manage to survive although what the future holds for Miss Walker is very murky as the season (and possibly series?) comes to a close.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

White Collar - Au Revoir

Ever since the end of the Third Season the post-FBI future of con man turned FBI informant Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) has been the show's big looming unanswered question. Once his service was complete would Neal got back to his old ways or stay on the straight and narrow? As with the case of every single mid-season and season finale over the years, the show's final episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with much left unsaid. Wrapping up the final season's Pink Pather storyline, and Neal's overall arc over the show's six seasons, one thing it does reveal is that Neal (while changed by his experiences working for the FBI) still has equal parts angel and devil allowing him to end his tenure with the FBI on his terms.

Rocket Raccoon #6

The latest issue of Rocket Raccoon returns one of my favorite former Guardians of the Galaxy (whose leaving was never properly explained only to be replaced by Marvel characters like Carol Danvers and Venom who don't fit in the oddball team concept nearly as well). While performing a series of jobs to payback all of his princess ex-girlfriends, Rocket receives and email which leads him to Knowhere to pay back a debt to Cosmo.

The Flash: Season Zero #3

Captured by the circus, the Flash learns the tragic origin of Mr. Bliss and discovers the ringmaster's powers firsthand as Bliss feeds Barry his greatest fear and worst nightmare simultaneously stopping the Scarlet Speedster dead in his tracks. With the help of a couple of Bliss' unwilling minions, Caitlin and Cisco are able to rescue their friend from the circus but not before the damage had already been done.

Person of Interest - The Cold War

Person of Interest's three-part Trilogy event ends "The Cold War" between The Machine and Samaritan as Decima's artificial intelligence begins manipulating human lives on a city-wide scale, first by lowering crime and then by escalating it, in an attempt to force Finch's (Michael Emerson) creation to come out of hiding. Since the first discussion of the creation of a second A.I. the show has teased us with the concept of two gods going to war. That time has now begun as Samiritan's emissary, a creepy little grade-school hacker, informs Root (Amy Acker) that Samaritan has decided to take a more pro-active stance in guarding (i.e. controlling) the local populace which includes eliminating The Machine and those who serve it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dark Supergirl by Hekady Cosplay

Hekady is a cosplayer from Spain. You can follow her on Facebook, deviantART, Twitter, Vine, and check out her official site.

Reese Witherspoon takes a cathartic trek through the Wild

Based on Cheryl Strayed's real-life experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as the troubled new divorcee with no real hiking experience who latches onto the unlikely project of a 1,100-mile solo-hike as a means to deal with the mistakes of her past.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scorpion - Dominoes

In the show's first Christmas episode the team races against the clock to save a boy trapped under a rock slide on the beach before he's drowned by the incoming tide. While the convergences of several of Sylvester's (Ari Stidham) phobias make him initially useless, at least until he gets a pep-talk by the right person, Walter (Elyes Gabel) takes charge eventually providing just the kind of Christmas miracle needed to inspire his sister (Camille Guaty) to continue fighting her illness.

Top 10 Comic Series of 2014

Heroes, spies, detectives, samurai and ninja, vampire slayers, talking animals, and galactic adventurers. Looking back at the year in comics, these are the ongoing comic book series which continued to entertain, delight, surprise, and fascinate me over the year. It was a good year for women (and crazy gun-wielding raccoons) in comics with four of my top ten comics all helmed by lead female characters and a number of other female characters dominating issues of nearly every title on this list. Here are the top ten ongoing comic series of the year...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Mentalist - Orange Blossom Ice Cream

The Mentalist's final season continues with its most anticipated guest-star as Morena Baccarin returns in the role of Erica Flynn in an episode that continues to play on her chemistry with Jane (Simon Baker), which is a little awkward for The Mentalist now that he's with Lisbon (Robin Tunney) as Jane and Lisbon head Beirut to recruit Flynn's help with taking down terrorist leader Jan Nemic (Mark Ivanir).

Once Upon a Time - Heroes and Villains

After wrapping up the Frozen arc last week, Once Upon a Time's mid-season finale bids farewell to both Elsa (Georgina Haig) and Anna (Elizabeth Lail) who return home to reclaim their kingdom, throw a wedding, and eat some chocolate. Of all the casting choices the show has made over its four seasons Haig and Lail are arguably the best at creating living versions of their animated counterparts. With that arc wrapped-up, the show turns its attention back to Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) who only moments before achieving everything he's ever desired sees it all slip from his grasp as Belle (Emilie de Ravin) banishes her power-mad husband from Storybrooke forever (or at least until the show returns from mid-season hiatus).

The Hobbit: Thank God It's Finally Over

Peter Jackson returns to give us the third (and thankfully final) installment of his bloated adaptation of a 300-page children's book. As with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the best things about the final entry to the franchise are Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Benedict Cumberbatch providing the voice of Smaug. However, Smaug's story ends fairly quickly (despite what the movie posters would have you believe he's on-screen for all of 20 minutes) and the series by this point is so packed with characters (five separate armies worth) Lilly gets far-less screentime than you'd want from the movie's most interesting character.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Librarians - And the Horns of a Dilemma

The series' first episode without Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) struggles a bit as the Librarians-in-Training go after an evil corporation which has recreated the maze of the Minotaur under its offices. Wyle's abscence leaves the show without a central character to focus the adventure around as Eve (Rebecca Romijn) has her hands full in just keeping her charges alive and the distrust between Jake (Christian Kane) and Cassandra (Lindy Booth) continues to fester.

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #5

Setting up the mini-series finale next month, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #5 brings Buichi Kubo to the land of the Komori Ninja Clan as old enemies will put aside their differences to work together to take on the invading aliens and their tripods of destruction.

Atlantis - The Day of the Dead

Atlantis has zombies! Who knew? Picking up where the "The Marriage of True Minds" left off, the latest episode sees Jason (Jack Donnelly) make an uneasily alliance with Medea (Amy Manson) after their tumble down the pit leaves them surrounded by zombie soldiers raised from the dead by Pasiphae's (Sarah Parish) curse. His decision to trust his queen's enemy, however, may well lead to the biggest regret of the champion's life.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hawaii Five-0 - Ke Koho Mamao Aku

When a rodeo cowboy dies on a Martian training facility Five-0 is called in to investigate in an episode that takes the opportunity to explore some more exotic locales of the Hawaiian Islands including HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) and Kalapana Lava Gardens. Eventually the investigation uncovers a connection to a missing prized race horse whose worth it turns out is more than enough to kill for.

Covert Affairs - Frontforwards

Hoping to beat Aleksandre Belenko (Shawn Dowyle) to the only surviving member of Auggie's (Christopher Gorham) unit he hasn't tortured and/or killed, Annie (Piper Perabo), Auggie, and McQuaid (Nic Bishop) head to Buenos Aires. Finding former CIA Agent James Decker (Kenny Johnson) in prison and discovering Belenko has used them to discover the location of his illusive prey, the three put their heads together to come up with a quick and dirty prison break scenario to get the former CIA agent of out prison before Belenko's men can find him.

48th Loutzenhiser Award Winners

Last night the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, a group which I've been proud to be a member for several years, met to discuss and honor the films of 2014. Handing out awards in 12 different categories the night's big winner was Birdman taking home Best Picture, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), and Best Original Screenplay.

Detective Comics #37

After taking down a delusional Mad Hatter, Batman turns his attention to a crime that Harvey Bullock has been persuing for weeks without any real leads other than graffiti left as a signature for each crime. The death of a Wayne Enterprises' executive brings the detective and Batman both to Wayne Tower just in time to discover what explosive situation Anarky has left for them.

Elementary - The Adventure of the Nutmeg Concoction

While running into an old flame that makes her reconsider her current long-distance relationship, Watson (Lucy Liu) helps Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Kitty (Ophelia Lovibond) on a case of a missing woman which becomes far more interesting than it initially appears. Connecting the disappearance of their client's sister with several other unsolved crimes, all of which share one bizarre common characteristic (an odor of nutmeg found at the crime scene), Holmes deduces they aren't looking for a single killer but an expert cleaner destroying any evidence of a crime scene the police might otherwise find.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

White Collar - Whack-A-Mole

"Whack a Mole" sets up next week's series finale as uncertainty and distrust creep back into Neal (Matt Bomer) and Peter's (Tim DeKay) relationship. Finally realizing the scope of the Pink Panthers' plan, Neal relies on the assistance of both Mozzie (Willie Garson) and Peter to come up with an alternative (i.e. far less violent) plan that will allow the FBI to swoop in and catch the group with $500 million in stolen cash. And then of course there's Keller (Ross McCall) and his his Interpol handler (Isaach De Bankolé) one of whom will turn up dead during the Panthers' hunt for a mole inside their organization.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pretty Little Liars - How the 'A' Stole Christmas

Christmas comes to Rosewood but it's far from festive with Toby (Keegan Allen) nursing a broken leg, Hanna (Ashley Benson) mourning the death of Mona (Janel Parrish), and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) out on bail facing charges of murdering Bethany Young. Alison's (Sasha Pieterse) Ice Ball winter party blowout offers the Liars an opportunity to do something about the later as they use the gala as a smokescreen to try and find information that might keep their friend out of prison. Although successful, breaking into Ali's home gets both Spencer and Hanna attacked by a cloaked figure who (as always) may or may not have been A.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

The tale of Moses is hardly new ground for Hollywood. Director Ridley Scott's version of the story is a mishmash of disaster porn and drama casting a mostly pale-white cast in the role of Egyptians and their Jewish slaves which, when not not off-putting, is occasionally unintentionally hilarious such as Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton (reminding me of crazy Marlon Brando from The Island of Dr. Moreau) as Egyptian royalty.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Arrow - The Climb

Arrow's mid-season premiere means revelations and new danger for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who is ordered by Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) to produce Sara's killer in 48 hours or the League of Assassin will start killing 50 citizens in Starling City to properly motivate him. Turning his attention back to Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Green Arrow will make a heart-breaking discovery about his sister Thea (Willa Holland) in an episode that reasserts Meryln's behind-the-scenes machinations and delivers us Oliver's first confrontation with this season's other main baddie: Ra's al Ghul (Matt Nable).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – What They Become

The show's mid-season finale (it won't return until March of 2015) finally delivers on storylines the season has increasingly dragged its feet on rather than fully explore. Skye (Chloe Bennet) finally meets her father (Kyle MacLachlan), her true name is revealed (suggesting she's the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of a well-known S.H.I.E.L.D. comic character), and the show all but confirms what I've believed since last season: Skye in an Inhuman. Oh, and she also shoots Ward (Brett Dalton) in the back, which is pretty funny (although I think we'd have all been happier if she shot him in the head).