Saturday, December 31, 2016


Denial is an intriguing film that, even if it never quite becomes as compelling as it should be, is still highly watchable. Rachel Weisz stars as Holocaust historian and author Deborah Lipstadt who is harassed and sued by Holocaust denier Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) for her comments hurting his reputation. Both the subject matter (and its ramifications) and the venue (Rampton chooses to sue her in a British court where the burden of proof falls on our author rather than the denier), separate it a bit from the pack of recent legal dramas.

Concerned with protecting the truth and exposing a dangerous man whose lies, if allowed to spread, may obscure the ugly truth of history from the future, Lipstadt chooses to fight rather than settle the case realizing by doing so she gives her enemy a pulpit to preach from but also hoping to destroy the man's credibility once and for all. Available in DVD and Blu-ray, extras include a single behind-the-scenes featurette and the film's trailer.

[Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Blu-ray $29.98 / DVD $22.98]

Friday, December 30, 2016

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eleven #2

Teased at the end of the season's first issue, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eleven #2 reveals where the real conflict is going to come this year. Unable to find the source of the dragon which destroyed much of San Fransisco, the Scoobies also spend time putting out small fires of mobs attacking witches and demons, blaming them for the recent troubles. As tensions rise across the country, the United States Government steps in with a solution: a census to register all magic and other-dimensional individuals. However as conflicts keep simmering, the government decides a more drastic "temporary" solution may be in order.

Usagi Yojimbo #160

The single-issue tale tackles the dangerous delicacy of Fugu when a friend of Miyamoto Usagi is accused of poisoning one of his most valued customers. After the shogun's agent turns up dead from eating improperly prepared pufferfish, Usagi steps in to help Inspector Ishida in the investigation which quickly points to other suspects when the pair discover the original Fugu had been replaced before it ever made it to its victim.

RazorFine Podcast Episode 2 – Rogue One

Alex Boyer and I return to talk in length about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Before that, however, we'll chat about recent trailers, this year's Kansas City Film Critics Circle award winners, and my take on some recent releases including Sing, Assassin's Creed, and Jackie.


Taking its name from the 13th Amendment, the documentary from writer/director Ava DuVernay examines the role race plays in the criminal justice system of the United States and how it is used to continue the subjugation of African Americans following the end of slavery. DuVernay makes a compelling case with his film, documenting the racial inequality within the United States with statistics and facts while examining the self-enforcing logistics of the problem.

Connecting Jim Crow laws with higher arrests and convictions of African Americans, DuVernay attacks the system which was designed to continue to view those with a darker skin color as worth only three-fifths of a white man. Along the way he also touches on Southern propaganda and political maneuverings which turned racism into a war on crime.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Longmire - Pure Peckinpah

Ghosts from the past come back to haunt Walt (Robert Taylor) and company in "Pure Peckinpah" just as the show cements a pair of new villains (Dylan Walsh and Dan Donohue) whose drug business will likely keep the County Sheriff's office busy for the remainder of the season. The murder of the local drug dealer recently threatened by Hector makes Walt suspect the vigilante may be responsible. This forces Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) to walk a tightrope not only to get Walt off Hector as a suspect in the murder but to also reconsider his suspicions that Mathias is the one taking justice into his own hands.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1

DC Comics' first big crossover following the Rebirth reboot pits the Justice League against the Suicide Squad when Batman fills in the rest of the League about Amanda Waller's private army of mercenary super-villains. When the Squad's latest mission in Badhnisia goes bad the Justice League shows up (not realizing that the Squad will quite literally have to fight for their lives to prevent Waller from murdering them all by detonating the explosives at the base of each of their skulls).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, Fences is notable more for its impressive performances than plot. Denzel Washington, who does double-duty as both lead actor and director, does all that he can to make the stage play fit the big screen but there's little doubt what venue the story is best suited. As a film the story certainly works, but I wonder how much better it may have appeared on stage.

The talky script, adapted from the stage by playwright August Wilson, offers a slice of Americana in a low income area of Pittsburgh where former Negro League baseball player turned criminal turned garbage man attempts to make the best of the life he's carved out for himself. The small cast focuses on Troy's (Washington) relationships with close friends and family including his wife Rose (Viola Davis), son Cory (Jovan Adepo), troubled brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), and best-friend Bono (Stephen Henderson). The more we learn about the outwardly charming Troy the less we like him. Troy is a bully, alcoholic, adulterer, and an all-around son of a bitch. The film's first hour is a slow boil under the which pressure continues to rise until it boils over when the conflict between Troy and his family comes to a head.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #10

You just can't keep a good man down. Hal Jordan's latest death doesn't stop the Green Lantern for long (even if his return does mean an appearance by my least-favorite Green Lantern). With the help of Kyle Rayner, the pair of remaining Guardians of the Universe help Hal find his way home and out of the Emerald Space where he's greeted by long-lost friends such as Tomar-Re and Katma Tui.

The Librarians and the Trial of the Triangle

Did I miss an episode? When did Flynn (Noah Wyle) become such an ass? And when did he get on the nerves of everyone else to the extent they needed to form an intervention? Once again, Flynn has come and go as he's want to do over the course of a season, but I was surprised for the sudden need of an intervention from his peers to kick off the latest episode of The Librarians when the biggest negative impact he's really had is not being around.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Only two films in 2016 offered a profound emotional reaction that forced me to tears. The first was a sobering documentary of an athlete struggling with the onset of an incurable and debilitating disease. Like Gleason, Lion has its basis in fact as director Garth Davis' film dramatizes the truth story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) and his long journey to find home.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Everafter #4

The Fables spin-off continues as Connor Wolf's slip of the tongue gets the green agent in trouble. Discovered, Connor attempts to fight himself out the predicament, but largely outnumbered The Shadow Players latest agent soon finds himself captured which springs Peter Piper into action and join the fray.

The OA - Homecoming / New Colossus

The first two episodes of the Netflix original series The OA introduce audiences to an unusual young woman named Prairie (Brit Marling). Reappearing after a seven-year absence, the oddest thing about Prairie isn't that she doesn't wish to discuss where she's been with her parents or the FBI but the fact that when she disappeared she was blind and now she can see. "Homecoming" has an awful lot of set-up as Prairie returns home, makes a few new friends in the high school bully Steve (Patrick Gibson), his teacher (Phyllis Smith), and three other lost souls who, along with Steve, come to an abandoned house to hear Prairie's story. The episode makes us wait until the final few minutes before revealing Prairie isn't her real name and the tragic accident which originally robbed her of her sight.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Daredevil #14

Well, it looks like Daredevil is going to have something new to feel guilty about (like he needed something else to brood about). This new volume of Daredevil continues to lead the Man Without Fear down an increasingly hopeless path.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


In a year without a true standout animated feature it seems fitting that Sing, an animated film as average as they come, closes out 2016. With a paper-thin plot to allow various characters multiple opportunities to perform popular songs and dance around, Illumination Entertainment offers up a film version of American Idol by offering one lucky contestant fame and fortune. Of course the fact that the person offering it can't actually deliver does through a wrench into the plans of the would-be stars.

With an impressive cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, and Nick Kroll, directors Christophe Lourdelet and Garth Jennings deliver a film that is neither more nor less than you would expect. When the story allows the characters to burst into song the movie works well enough. However, when there are stretches without musical performances, where the real-life troubles (family issues, boyfriend issues, daddy issues, money issues, and so on) of the individual performers get in the way of training for their big night, the movie stalls.

Assassin's Creed

Stop when this gets too silly for you. For hundreds of years a creed (which is the franchise's term for ill-defined shadowy group) of assassins has been in a secret war with the Knights Templar over control of a divine object know as the Apple that has to power to remove free will from all humankind. The Templars wish to use it to subjugate the human race. To find the lost artifact, the Templars steal a career criminal (Michael Fassbender) from his execution and hook him up to a machine which reads genetic memories from his code so he can relive his ancestor's experiences while jumping around tied to a giant metal arm with those experiences manifested around him as ghostly visages.

Still with me? In charge of the project is a die-hard believer (Jeremy Irons) and his daughter the scientist (Marion Cotillard) who needs a blood descendant of the last person to have the Apple to lead the Templars to it (on the assumption that no one could have possilby found and/or moved it in more than half a millennium). The only way to find the Apple is to have these decedents of various assassins relive the experiences (gaining knowledge, purpose, and murderous skills which, of course, will eventually backfire on the evil corporation).

The Most Overrated Movie of 2016

The goal of a biopic is to offer insight into its subject, to explore the life of an individual and share something new or interesting about its central character. By that definition Jackie is a complete failure. The only takeaway from director Pablo Larraín's film is that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was upset by the assassination of her husband. That's hardly worth the price of admission (let alone the film's $9,000,000 budget). Natalie Portman may shine in the role, but to what purpose?

Oscar-bait, the film is notable only for its recreation of the time period and for Portman's peformance. The problem with the former is the glamour is wasted as window dressing on a film without a reason to exist (other than grab Portman some statuettes). The problem with the later is Portman's performance is undercut by both a questionable accent and Noah Oppenheim's script which is never sure who Jackie was, as it jumps from portraying a vapid creature out of touch with reality (as seen in the flashbacks) to a woman of cunning and guile completely controlling an interview with a journalist (Billy Crudup) looking to find the real Mrs. Kennedy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Red Hood and the Outlaws #5

Continuing the comic's opening arc, Red Hood and the Outlaws #5 mainly centers around the Red Hood fighting for his life against the Black Mask controlled Bizarro. Unwilling to let Jason fend for himself, Artemis returns to help even-up the odds allowing the Red Hood to distract the super-villain while Artemis attempts to control his super pawn (easier said than done).

Moon Knight #9

Face-to-face with all three of his separate personalities, Marc Spector confronts each of them in hopes of regaining his sanity and taking full control of his life once more. While some go quietly, such as the strange futuristic version of himself obsessed with werewolves, others are less willing to simply fade from existence. All the battles in this issue occur internally in the odd Egyptianized landscape of New York (which is still unclear as to how much of this is real and in Marc's imagination).

Scorpion - Wreck the Halls

Scorpion celebrates Christmas with some wilderness misadventures when an attempt to get the team together outside the city for an electronics-free holiday is hijacked by a group of gunrunners and their intended victim who they had planned to bury in the woods not far from Team Scorpion's retreat. Using whatever is at hand, the group works to subdue the criminals Home Alone-style and rescue Ralph (Riley B. Smith) who is taken hostage.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jessica Jones #3

Life gets no less complicated for Jessica Jones. After being abducted by the Spot, Jessica awakes in a dingy basement, shackled to a chair. Following a little verbal sparring with the super-villain, Jessica is allowed to meet the woman in charge who doesn't threaten her. Instead, "Alison" admits to working behind the scenes to procure her release from prison and then offers Jessica a job. For a mysterious figure working for questionable sources, she does make a fairly good argument.

The Librarians and the Tears of a Clown

Jenkins (John Larroquette) gets into the field when all of the Librarians go missing while looking into a strange carnival. What he finds is the disturbing site of each member of the time mesmerized and transformed into new attractions for the traveling carnival. Getting the group back to the Annex, Jenkins gets the Librarians and their Guardian restored to their normal selves and helps them remember what happened to them.

Hawaii Five-0 - Ka'ili aku

After Sara (Londyn Silzer) is kidnapped, Five-0 heads down to Mexico to get the girl back (unaware that they are the ransom). Working to uncover the identity of the kidnappers by the charged corpse of one left behind, the team learns too late that those responsible for Sara's abduction are with the Diego cartel looking for a little payback given Five-0 dispatching a few of their members earlier this season. The episode ends unexpectedly on a cliffhanger not with McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) leading the group on a suicidal mission on an impenetrable compound against overwhelming odds but Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) choosing to exchange himself for Sara's safe return.

Friday, December 16, 2016

La La Land

I enjoyed La La Land; it's fun, light-weight entertainment with likable stars and straightforward (largely predictable) storyline. It doesn't ask much of the audience other than to enjoy the ride. During the award season release of heavy dramas, the film works well as a palate cleanser. However, I object to the growing consensus that it's one of the year's best films.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The first of the standalone Star Wars movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set just prior to the events of the original Star Wars as a struggling Rebellion learns about the newest Imperial weapon capable of destroying an entire planet. Just as memorable for what it keeps from the Star Wars template as what it chooses to change about the formula, Rogue One offers no opening crawl, no screen wipes, and the unnecessary need to name every planet shown on screen in subtitles (something George Lucas' original films allowed the dialogue itself to deal with).

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures - Season One

Set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the animated LEGO Star Wars series follows the misadventures of a family of mechanics whose youngest member discovers a connection to the Force and accepts the responsibility of keeping the fragments of a powerful weapon out of the hands of the Emperor (Trevor Devall).

Most of the series focuses on the trouble young Rowan (Nicolas Cantu) gets his older siblings Zander (Eugene Byrd) and Kordi (Vanessa Lengies) into while helping a Jedi (who is secretly a Sith) find and collect the fragments of the Kyber Saber.

Collected on DVD and Blu-ray, extras include two short featurettes on the Freemakers and their salvage business. Highlights of the season include the Freemakers on Hoth, a trip to the Imperial Museum on Naboo, and getting dragged into a Wookiee rescue mission.

Nova #1

Nova relaunches again (because apparently no one currently working at Marvel Comics comics can count past three dozen or so these days). While the focus is still on Sam Alexander as Nova, he's no longer the only Nova in town. Richard Rider has returned from the dead. Although the details of his resurrection are pretty sketchy at this point, one thing is for certain - Richard isn't the same guy who gave his life to try and stop Thanos once and for all.

Los Angeles Comic Con Best Cosplay 2016 #ThatCosplayShow

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Longmire - The Judas Wolf

There's a hell of a lot happening in "The Judas Wolf" which pushes Walt's (Robert Taylor) impending legal troubles to the back-burner for now, although the sheriff does get a lawyer and decide to fight the civil suit rather than settle. There's the odd disappearance of a drug company CEO (David Burke) whose assistant is duct-taped to tree. While evidence points initially to wildlife conservationists who hated the man's actions to wolves - including a local (Debra Christofferson) who cares more for wolves than people, in truth there is no scarcity of suspects including the his assistant (who is also sleeping with the CEO's wife) and a woman screwed over by his company's drug trials. However, after the CEO shows up in his own bed with his kidney forcibly removed, the case takes another unusual turn.


Originally intended as a video diary for Steve Gleason's unborn son, director Clay Tweel takes audiences along for the ride on the heart-wrenching journey of Gleason's slow decline after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Going from a local football hero who helped rejuvenate the New Orleans Saints football team in the season following Hurricane Katrina to a man fighting to speak, move, and even breathe on his own is often difficult to watch. Refusing to give in, Gleason and his wife Michel continue to fight the incurable degenerative disease every step of the way including forming their own foundation to support others in need.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elementary - It Serves You Right to Suffer

The season's ongoing B-story involving Watson's (Lucy Liu) relationship to Shinwell (Nelsan Ellis) comes to a head when he becomes involved in the shooting of a member from a rival gang. Believing his innocence, Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson have only three days to find the person responsible for the crime, explain Shinwell's involvement, and prevent the man from going back to prison. The investigation leads back to a FBI agent (Dorian Missick) who both Shinwell and the victim were working for as off-the-book informants.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1

Given fan reaction to the character's role as a supporting character in Marvel's recent Darth Vader series, you can't be too surprised to see that rogue scientist Aphra has earned her own ongoing comic. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 is a little more tongue-in-cheek (and less murdery) than I expected for starring a sociopath, a pair of murder droids, and a bloodthirsty Wookiee. Set after the good doctor faked her death, the first comic centers on Aphra's struggles to pay off what appears to be a rather lengthy list of debts. Stealing an archaeological find, Aphra hopes to sell off the item for a tidy profit only to discover that history has finally caught up with her.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Librarians and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Can you change your fate? That's the question behind "And Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" when Eve (Rebecca Romijn) is targeted for death by the unstoppable Reaper. Waking in a cavern with Stone (Christian Kane) and Ezekiel (John Kim) and a group of strangers from a high school, the group struggles to remember the series of events which set them on their current path which began with Eve being given an hourglass and a prophecy cube prophesying her death within the Library. While dealing with various traps and riddles, Eve's time slowly runs out. And when the hourglass is empty the Reaper will attack.

War for the Planet of the Apes trailer

Here's the first trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes which introduces Woody Harrelson as the leader of the humans battling Caesar's (Andy Serkis) genetically-enhanced apes. Judy Greer and Steve Zahn also star. The movie opens in theaters on July 14th.

The Lobster

Taking place is an odd world where being single is apparently the only crime, David (Colin Farrell) checks into a hotel where he is given 45 days to find a partner or face being transformed into an animal for the remainder of his existence. Part metaphor about the pressures society puts on single people to find a mate, and part wacky adventure, The Lobster is an unusual film with a deadpan (and more than a little bleak) sense of humor and a very unconventional view of love.

The first-half of the film, taking place within the hotel, works quite well as David and the other singles (Jessica Barden, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, and Ben Whishaw) fumble at finding enforced couplehood. The second-half of the film involving David's adventures with the equally hard-line single exiles where he finds forbidden love (Rachel Weisz, who also narrates) may not be as strong but still delivers its share of humorous and tragic moments. Available on Blu-ray and DVD, the only extras included are a digital copy of the movie and a single behind-the-scenes featurette.

[Lionsgate, Blu-ray $24.99 / DVD $12.96]

Star Wars Rebels - Visions and Voices

Shared visions and unanswered questions bring Ezra (Taylor Gray) and Maul (Sam Witwer) back together on Atollon. Traveling to Dathomir, Maul uses the Force magic of the Nightsisters to complete the visions that were interrupted once before. It seems the answers to both their questions leads to Tatooine as the show teases the possibility of an appearance by Obi-Wan Kenobi and the first animated appearance of a young farm boy destined to bring down an Empire.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

First Look - Spider-Man: Homecoming

We now have our first trailer for Marvel Studios' first Spider-Man film starring Tom Holland as the Web-Crawler, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Michael Keaton as the Vulture, and Bokeem Woodbine as the Shocker. Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in theaters on July 7th.

Hawaii Five-0 - Ka Luhi

"Ka Luhi" introduces Missy Peregrym as Danny's (Scott Caan) sister Bridget who is on the island for a work conference. With the smallest of needling from McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin), Danny begins to pick up on some vibes between Bridget and her friend and grows concerned that Bridget may do something while on holiday to destroy her marriage. Given that she returns to New Jersey at the end of the episode, I'm not sure how much more we'll be seeing of her but I did enjoy Peregrym's guest-spot here and hope the writers find a way to bring her back to the island again.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Green Arrow #12

With Oliver Queen officially dead and the battle with the Ninth Circle over, Green Arrow and Black Canary set-out to build a new life in Seattle which includes Diggle, a treehouse, and a reluctant promise by the archer to let his alter-ego stay dead (one that it seems he has no intention of keeping). As all this is going on the issue also highlights the city's mixed reaction to Green Arrow through a newswoman's reporting of his various appearances and the crimes laid at his feet.

Swiss Army Man

If you mashed-up Cast Away with Weekend at Bernie's it might look something like Swiss Army Man. Inexplicably, it's also one of the year's best love stories. Stranded in the wilderness, a suicidal man (Paul Dano) is given a reprieve when a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore. Starved and lonely, Hank (Dano) immediately begins a friendship with Manny (Radcliffe) who not only soften's Hank's isolation but also proves quite adept at quite a number of useful skills which help keep Hank alive.

While the uses of Hank's body provide most of the film's humor (that and the best masturbation joke I've heard in some time), the extremes Hank goes to in order to explain the outside world and concepts like love are something right out of a Michel Gondry film. The movie by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert is oddly beautiful, ridiculous in the extreme, and impossible to forget.

[A24, Blu-ray $19.99, DVD $12.96]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Nocturnal Animals

From the unconventional opening credits to the crushing final scene, Nocturnal Animals is a tour-de-force you won't be able to take you eyes off of. Using a story within a story to reveal the truth about his characters, writer/director Tom Ford delivers a taut psychological thriller involving art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) whose blasé hoity-toity life is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Shown in three interlocking tales, we are witness to Susan's current timeline and marriage to husband number two (Armie Hammer), flashbacks of her marriage to Edward (Gyllenhaal), and the fictional tale which unfolds in brighter tones and more visceral glee than anything in her current life, rocking Susan to her core.

Manchester by the Sea

Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea is a simple story that provides surprising depth. Following the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), the less-reliable Lee (Casey Affleck) is given custody of his Joe's teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) forcing him to leave his dreary life in Boston and return to the home he abandoned in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts years before.

Affleck and Lonergan thread a difficult needle here as Lee comes off as immediately unlikable, unreliable, and by all accounts the worst choice to be his nephew's guardian, while still leaving the door open for our opinion to change as we learn more about his troubled past. It's a good role for Affleck who knows just how to play the moody loneliness of the character while foreshadowing that there's something far more complex going on with Lee under the surface. A stark contrast to his mopey uncle, Hedges is is a charismatic lightning bolt everyone seems to gravitate to (such as his multiple girlfriends who include Kara Hayward and Anna Baryshnikov). More together than Lee, most of the time it's a little unclear who is taking care of who following his father's death.

The Eyes of My Mother

Many horror movies attempt to showcase evil, to explain it, rationalize it, or hold it up as something supernatural or inhuman. With The Eyes of My Mother, writer/director Nicolas Pesce has something else in mind. Centering around an odd young girl (Olivia Bond) whose life is changed by the arrival of a stranger which leads her to grow-up into an even stranger, and lonelier, young woman (Kika Magalhaes), The Eyes of My Mother is an undeniably creepy tale presented largely from the point of view of a truly terrifying young woman whose deep loneliness leads down a gruesome road.

Presented in black-and-white with minimal effects and a small cast as if something from the darker limits of The Twilight Zone, the film take places almost entirely at Francisca's isolated farmhouse, far away from prying eyes. Those who are unlucky enough to step foot on the property will learn their mistake far too late. The story is straightforward in Francisca's desires, but far from expected as each dark turn will leave you squirming in your seat. Here's a film that may indeed give you nightmares. Horror fans may be surprised by what they find, but they won't be disappointed.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Arrow - What We Leave Behind

Arrow's mid-season finale moves beyond the Vigilante and Invasion! story arcs to center its attention back on the season's looming big bad, Prometheus. Offering flashbacks to Oliver's (Stephen Amell) early days as Starling City's vigilante (his costume has certainly gotten better), "What We Leave Behind" begins to fill in gaps about who Prometheus is and why he has a vendetta against Green Arrow (although I would have been more impressed if they actually tied it to First Season episode rather than filming new scenes). From their encounters it's obvious the Church didn't tell the villain anything he didn't know, as Prometheus would have had to know Oliver's identity years ago to retrace the man's steps and train with at least one of the same masters (which doesn't quite jibe with the villain's actions since arriving in Star City as he only begin to focus on Oliver after Church's deathbed confession).

First Look - The Circle

The trailer for director James Ponsoldt's adaptation of Dave Eggers's novel offers us the first look at Emma Watson as a new employee at a powerful technology company. Tom Hanks, John Boyega, and Karen Gillan also star. The Circle opens in theaters on April 28th.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Laws of Inferno Dynamics

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hits the halfway point of its season with "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics" which wraps up the extended arc featuring Ghost Rider with a final confrontation between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) and the increasingly powerful Eli Morrow (José Zúñiga). The dire situation does call for S.H.I.E.L.D. to put all its meta-human resources in the field, and while Daisy (Chloe Bennet), Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), and the Director (Jason O'Mara) each have a part to play, in the end it comes down to Coulson (Clark Gregg) buying Robbie enough time to end the situation. The episode also has a odd piece of fan service with a mention of Ghost Rider's previous host, which doesn't seem to track with S.H.I.E.L.D. not knowing (and not believing) the truth about how Robbie's powers work for almost the entire season. While a nice nod to fans, the scene seems completely out of place (as does the team's bitch session about their boss in the middle for prepping to save Los Angeles from nuclear destruction).

Josie and the Pussycats #2

The music stardom of Josie and the Pussycats gets off to an inglorious start as Josie, Val, and Mel hit the road for their first concert outside of Riverdale. Excited to be a traveling band for the first time, the girls get a rude awakening when their first show turns out to be a dive bar full of bikers and criminals who attempt to trick the band into agreeing to stay indefinitely almost ending the Pussycats' journey before it even gets started.

The Flash - The Present

For its Christmasy mid-season finale The Flash pulls out all the stops and delivers the best episode of the season so far. Along with Barry (Grant Gustin) and company discover Julian's (Tom Felton) secret, the episode enlightens the viewers on who Savitar is and why it seems he's targeted Barry. With Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Barry burying the hatchet during the Invasion! crossover, here Barry and Julian are able to make peace as well, and finally all of Team Flash gets on-board with Wally joining the family business. God bless us, everyone! All that plus a guest-appearance from as Jay Garrick, and even a cameo from Mark Hamill, what more could you want for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

Werner Herzog's new documentary takes viewers on a journey through the Internet. With stops as its birthplace and interviews with creators and early users, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World also examines current uses for the tool in robotics and automobiles as well as the voyeuristic and bullying aspects fed by the anonymity of its users (in one of the documentary's most emotional interviews).

The journey also makes a stop in Green Bank, West Virginia where all transmissions are restricted by the law and at a hospital for Internet addiction. Looking further the film also discusses solar flares, hackers and internet security, dreams, missions to Mars, and the possibility of artificial intelligence. While not as cohesive as I'd like at times, nonetheless Herzog delivers a fascinating historical journey on the Internet and how it has affected humanity, for both good and ill, since its creation. Like it or not, it's firmly woven into our daily life, and Herzog pulls up the rug to show both its more troubling aspects as well as where it might lead us in the future.

[Magnolia Home Entertainment, $17.99]

Once Upon a Time - Wish You Were Here

The season's mid-season finale will send Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to the Enchanted Forest, see the end of Jasmine (Karen David) and Aladdin's (Deniz Akdeniz) tale (at least for now), and finally reveal the identity of the villain who kills Emma in her visions. Getting control of the magic lamp, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) sends Emma to a timeline where she never became the Savior, grew up in the Enchanted Forest as a princess, and was never forced to become Storybrooke's hero. Realizing that she too has control of the lamp, Regina (Parrilla) makes a wish to send herself to the reality where she is immediately mistaken for the Evil Queen (a role she is forced to resume in order to force Emma to realize the truth). Despite accomplishing the goals and finding a way home, the pair remain in the alternate reality in the first of two big twists as Regina comes face-to-face with someone she never expected to see again.

Super Powers! #1

Mainly targeting younger readers, Super Powers #1! is a fun (if lightweight) all-ages comic featuring DC's big three heroes. Opening in Gotham City where Batman has disappeared, Superman discovers clues leading him to discover Braniac is responsible. With the help of Wonder Woman who traces Braniac to New Krypton, the Big Blue Boy Scout finds and frees the Dark Knight Detective, leaving the heroes to deal with the villain. Personally, because it's geared to a younger audience, I'm a little disappointed that Baltazar and Aureliani (who tag-team the writing and drawing of the comic) didn't go for more classic Super Powers or Super Friends costumes of the heroes. Still, kids should enjoy this one. For fans. [DC, $2.99]

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Librarians and the Reunion of Evil

What was supposed to be a simple artifact retrieval turns into anything but for Stone (Christian Kane) and Cassandra (Lindy Booth) who, after retrieving the crystal, are forced to take shelter from a storm in a lodge full of Norse Frost Giants whose hatred of humans is only slightly less potent than their desire to feed from the crystal's power. Meanwhile, back in the Library, Ezekiel (John Kim) proves Eve's (Rebecca Romijn) trust in him correct, both by protecting the egg of the Lochness Monster and in providing valuable intelligence for their missing Librarians (all while appearing to be doing nothing but slacking off as usual).

Green Room

Notable mainly for its cast including a pair of Star Trek actors (Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart), Green Room is your basic wrong place, wrong time thriller when a broke band stumbles on a murder in the green room of a remote Neo-Nazi bar in the Northwest. With the help of a witness (Imogen Poots) to the murder, the band (Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) barricade themselves in the green room in an attempt to hold off the inevitable as the club's owner (Stewart) rounds up some of the gang's less-savory types to clean-up the situation.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier delivers a fairly tense thriller featuring a cast of damaged individuals fighting for their lives against some pissed off Neo-Nazis. Other than Yelchin's bassist, I'm not sure there's a good person on-screen which means we're interested to see what happens to the dickish rockers but not necessarily invested in rooting for or against them making it out alive. Stweart's casting is intriguing as brains behind the outfit (although it's fair to say he's slumming it here).

Usagi Yojimbo #159

The single-issue story "The Hatamoto's Daughter" begins with the death of a samurai by a band of ruffians deep in the forest. Hiding his daughter, and proof of illegal matters the gang's leader wants returned, the man is cut down. Finding the young girl hours later, a wandering Miyamoto Usagi takes it upon himself to see her safely delivered to Inspector Ishida in the closest town. Given the dangerous information the young girl has in her possession, however, the mercenaries will not let the ronin's protection be a deterrent to get their hands on the girl. It's a mistake they won't live to regret.

Star Wars Rebels - An Inside Man

After a few weeks of the show getting lost in various sidestories, "An Inside Man" gets back to basics with the Ghost's return to Lothal. Based on the intelligence provided by Morad (Liam O'Brien) about a hush-hush project, Ezra (Taylor Gray) and Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) sneak inside the factory to learn more. Sadly, the rebellious actions of Morad and his co-conspirators bite the Rebels in the ass and the most inconvenient time as Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) arrives in order to investigate the recent sabotage of Imperial weapons and vehicles and punish those responsible.