Monday, December 31, 2018

The Hidden Beauty Behind Star Wars Planets

Films&Stuff examines The Hidden Beauty Behind Star Wars Planets

Legacies - Mombie Dearest / Death Keeps Knocking on My Door

The undead come calling in both "Mombie Dearest" and "Death Keeps Knocking on My Door" in a pair of episodes that help to explain just where all the mystical creatures are coming from and why they are so driven to find the knife. On Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and Josie Saltzman's (Kaylee Bryant) 16th birthday the school is visited by Jo Laughlin (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), their biological mother and the love of their father's life. In "Death Keeps Knocking on My Door" its Rafael's (Peyton Alex Smith) girlfriend (Erinn Westbrook) who returns from the grave. The arrival of each, and the rise of less lovable zombies in the school's graveyard, can be traced back to the Necromancer (Ben Geurens), the latest forgotten mystical creature who is driven by forces he doesn't understand to acquire the knife. Geurens proves to be a fun guest-star as he toys with Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) and the others for his own pleasure.

2018 - A Year's Worth of Cosplay Awesomeness

Friday, December 28, 2018

Firefly #2

Things are never boring, or simple, for the crew of Serenity. After crashing and taking a job of protecting a wagon train of folks to their holy site, things get more complicated by the arrival of Alliance soldiers looking for two war criminals: Mal and Zoe. With the offer of a massive reward for the pair, the local gang decides to try and take down the two Browncoats instead of the wagon train. Things don't go as well as they hoped.

The Superior Spider-Man #1

Dressed in a variation of Ben Reilly's Spider-Man costume, Doctor Octopus has resumed his role as the "Superior" Spider-Man in San Francisco. The comic opens with Spidey Doc fighting Stilt Man of all people before resuming his day job as a teacher at Horizon University.

Best Cosplay of 2018 (Part 2)

One list just wasn't enough. As with part one, limiting the list to one entry per cosplayer.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #258

Neither Cobra nor the JOEs are safe after Dr. Venom transfers his consciousness into a giant android, and in the process has gone completely insane. With Cobra Commander in the clutches of the deranged robot, Dr. Mindbender has no choice but to help the JOEs in a furious last stand to take down the mech and end the battle.


Writer/director Adam McKay's Vice is a look into the life and political career of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale). There are plenty of amusing moments which are bolstered by terrific performances by both Christian Bale and Amy Adams.

However, McKay takes a relatively safe approach here and the film fails to sink its teeth deep enough into the subject matter to elicit more than a handful of great moments. While not exactly toothless, the film lacks the bite and satirical wit to truly have fun with Dick Cheney's political career. It's too... nice. And it's not like McKay was lacking in material to pull from. Remember, Cheney once shot a man in the face and had the political power to make the victim apologize to him on national television.

By the end of the movie, McKay is able to put Cheney's vice presidency into historical context while cherry-picking diverting sequences to showcase along the way. That said, it's in the performances more so than the subject matter where Vice finds the most success. Along with Bale and Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell add some comic relief as Cheney's mentor Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I never expected to see Spider-Ham show up in a theatrical film as a major supporting character. I also never expected Sony to outdo Marvel in producing the best super-hero movie of the year. These are but two of the wonders of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which give us the origin story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as the new Spider-Man while also offering a few different versions of Peter Parker (Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and her robot, and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) as heroes from other dimensions brought to this Earth to help Miles stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) who threatens to destroy reality while furthering his own selfish desires.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Detective Comics #994

The countdown to Detective Comics #1000 begins here as we join Batman and Commissioner Gordon investigating an unusual double-murder on the anniversary of the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. With the victims' bodies altered and dressed to resemble Bruce Wayne's parents, the obvious question is... why? An attack on Leslie Thompkins shortly after makes it all to obvious that someone is hunting both Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Given the plastic surgery, and the detailed knowledge of Batman's true identity and past, the most obvious choice for the villain behind the complicated charade would be Hush. Although that seems to be the best bet, we'll have to wait and see if that is indeed the case.


Mary Poppins Returns

My initial reaction to the news of Disney's decision to make a sequel to Marry Poppins was something along the lines of "No, no, no, no, no, no. No." Although it may not quite measure up to the original, Mary Poppins Returns does succeed in capturing the spirit of the first film and delivers a magical treat for audiences this Christmas.

Stepping into the shoes of Julie Andrews for the title role is Emily Blunt as the magical nanny returns to help the grown-up Banks children (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer). More successful than something like Hook, Mary Poppins Returns still deals with some of the same themes involving growing up and loosing the childlike wonder that makes life worth living. Blunt is terrific in some inspired casting. Although the songs of the sequel don't measure up to the original (there's only a single number here even approaching the energy of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Chim Chim Cher-ee") the songs we do get help tell the story of the Banks children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and their introduction to Mary Poppins' magical world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

DC's Legends of Tomorrow - Legends of To-Meow-Meow

Legends of Tomorrow may have been left out of this year's big crossover event, but this allows the Fall finale to wrap-up an ongoing story involving an attempt to fix Constantine's (Matt Ryan) ill-advised change to the timeline and bring an extra heaping of wacky antics. With the timeline fractured, Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), Zari (Tala Ashe), and Constantine try to fix issues in the timeline where members of the Waverider were killed of by magical creatures due to John and Charlie not joining the crew. The small fixes allow the characters to return to various episodes from earlier in the season, but each quick fix only creates new troubles for the remaining Legends to solve.


Based on the insane true story of African-American Colorado Springs police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan, Spike Lee delivers one of the most fascinating and entertaining films of the year. Laugh-out-loud funny while also proving timely and relevant to today, Lee crafts an amazing film structured around the performances of John David Washington and Adam Driver as the Black and Jewish cops who performed something so miraculous that, if it hadn't happened, Hollywood would have been forced to invent it. As a cherry on top, Topher Grace gives us his hilarious take on Grand Wizard David Duke whose white supremacist organization becomes the target of Stallworth's investigation.

Lee and company provide a near-perfect film that holds up to multiple viewings. Available on Blu-ray and DVD, extras include a short featurette and an extended trailer for the film featuring Prince's "Mary Don't You Weep."

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Voltron - Launch Date

The first episode of Voltron: Legendary Defender's Eighth Season gives us the final day of the Paladins on Earth. With winks to the earlier Voltron cartoon, shown here as a cartoon within the cartoon which Pidge (Bex Taylor-Klaus) learns to use to her advantage, the bulk of the episode leads up the first date between Lance (Jeremy Shada) and Allura (Kimberly Brooks) on their final night on Earth. There's plenty of humor leading up the big night, and a sweet moment between the pair prior to the Paladins leaving Earth to return to the war with the Galra and Honerva, who it seems has turned the Altaen survivors against Allura and Voltron.


The world's mightiest mortal returns to the comic page in SHAZAM! #1 Despite the character getting his own movie release in the near future, DC Comics has had trouble knowing what to call the character since loosing the rights to the name Captain Marvel. Realizing this, writer Geoff Johns has a little fun here (first by almost having Billy use the name and again having our hero ponder the trouble with calling himself Shazam as he would never be able to introduce himself without loosing his powers).

Monday, December 17, 2018


Written, produced, and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Roma is a semi-autobiographical film centered around the maid (Yalitza Aparicio) of family in Mexico City during the 1970s. With complete control of the film, Cuarón takes his time with the story as it unfolds slowly over the course of more than two-hours. This proves to be Roma's strength and curse.

While beautiful to look at, the glacial pace of the story borders on tedious at times (making one wonder if it is worth sticking around to the end). Then, in its final half-hour, Roma delivers like no other film this year. So, how to judge it becomes the question?

Let's start with the look of the film, the intimacy of the family's dwelling, and the long sweeping shots of the city. The sole credited cinematographer, Cuarón makes sure his vision is captured on film. And without doubt, Roma if a visual feast. On top of this is Aparicio's grounded performance as Cleo who acts as the heart of the film. Available on Netflix, the plodding pace may deter some viewers who can switch the channel, but Roma does provide gifts that are worth waiting for.

Best Cosplay of 2018

Limiting the list to one entry per cosplayer was tough, but here's some of my favorite cosplay from 2018.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Favourite

Set during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), The Favourite is a sly period dramedy focused on the rivalry between two cousins (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) over position and the affection of the Queen. Filled with backstabbing, political maneuvering, and deception, the story begins with the arrival of Abigail (Stone), a former lady now forced into the role of a servant. Abigail is given a position in the palace by Lady Sarah (Weisz) who underestimates just how far her cousin will go to increase her station.

Set between the two women, and also the two political factions fighting over the war in France, at the heart of the film is Anne herself. Presented as a broken woman, who may not have been all that smart to begin with, Coleman infuses her with unexpected depths as we begin to wonder just how much of the manipulation she suspects. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, the look of The Favourite offers sharp contrast to the more vile machinations under the surface (not unlike its lead characters). Although there are men present, mostly in Parliament, the script views them as largely superfluous and spends little effort to hide where the true power in England lies.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Other Side of the Wind

It may have taken an extra 40 years, but the last film from Orson Welles is finally available to be seen. While it is nearly impossible to separate the film from its history (covered in detail in the new documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead), The Other Side of the Wind has the benefit of working despite this potential limitation and delivering a fitting last chapter to Welles' career with a biting satire and visual smorgasbord finally pieced together more than three decades after the director's death.

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

For more than a decade before his death, Orson Welles worked on a film that was never finished. The new documentary by Morgan Neville, featuring plenty of clips from The Other Side of the Wind and interviews with cast and crew, takes audiences back into Welles' struggle with the experimental film about an aging director and his tumultuous relationship with Hollywood. Although Welles repeatedly denied any autobiographical nature to the film, as the documentary points out, it's hard to not see the parallels to his own life.

With The Other Side of the Wind finally finished and released almost five decades after Welles began the project, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead is timely both in explaining the project's history and enticing viewers to seek out the movie itself. The documentary doesn't shy away from the rougher edges of Welles' nature whose bullying hardheadedness led to strained relationships. Like many documentaries in the same vein, the main takeaway from They'll Love Me When I'm Dead is how hard it is to get a film made. Whether a fan of Welles or just movies in general, the documentary is definitely worth your time.


Re-imaging a twelve-hour mini-series into a two-hour film, Steve McQueen delivers an action-drama featuring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki as the widows of an armed robbery team who are forced by the gangster (Brian Tyree Henry) turned political figure their husbands robbed to pay back what they owe.

There's an awful lot of plot and superfluous characters here, most likely because they appeared in the mini-series. A tighter focus on Viola Davis' character and the robbery itself could have helped shore up the script a bit more, which gets lost in the weeds a bit when dealing with the political aspirations of a criminal and the criminality of the son (Colin Farrell) running for his father's (Robert Duvall) office, as it seems to need at least one additional rewrite. The also the trouble with Debicki's arc, while her new-found self-confidence makes sense as part of the robbery I'm not sure how it makes her twice as intelligent by the movie's end (seriously, I was starting to expect a Keyser Söze twist). And the film isn't without twists, although none are particularly necessary to the overall plot or natural conclusion of the story. (And one actually wraps up things a bit too neatly.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Supergirl - Elseworlds (Part 3)

Although apparently it will be the last we see of him for awhile, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) gets quite a bit of screentime in the the "Elseworlds" finale as Hoechlin does double duty as both the Man of Steel and the new form of John Deegan (Jeremy Davies). As with the previous two episodes, Part 3 gives us more nods and winks at both Crisis of Infinite Earths (which apparently will be next year's big crossover) and other famous moments of our heroes climaxing in the Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) circling the globe (Superman: The Movie) so quickly they begin to burn themselves out of existence (Crisis of Infinite Earths). The visuals work quite well, even if the logic of the entire segment seems pretty shaky on multiple levels.

Arrow - Elseworlds (Part 2)

"Elseworlds" continues as Barry (Grant Gustin), Oliver (Stephen Amell), and Kara (Melissa Benoist) head to Gotham City in search of the person responsible for the changes to reality. Who they find is Batwoman (Ruby Rose). As with Part 1, this episode has plenty of Easter Eggs for DC Comics fans including John Wesley Shipp in his classic Flash costume appearing in a vision (not unlike the Flash did in Crisis on Infinite Earths). The episode also cements a couple of points that, up until now, the Arrowverse has been coy about discussing: Batman exists on both Earths, although he's been absent from the Gotham City of Earth-1 for quite some time.

The Flash - Elseworlds (Part 1)

The CW begins its latest crossover event on The Flash with Part 1 of "Elseworlds" as Barry (Grant Gustin) and Oliver (Stephen Amell) awake to a reality where they have each other's powers and skills and everyone treats Barry as Oliver and vice-versa. The goofy Freaky Friday set-up provides some humorous moments such as Oliver struggling to deal with the affections of Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry getting some long-waited payback. There are nagging issues here in how quickly both are able to get up to speed, but the episode's idea that the abilities/skills are inherent to them and just need to be tapped into does the bare minimum to gloss over the plot hole. Also troubling is Team Flash's reaction to the pair. While throwing them into the pipeline allows for a nice escape sequence, and offering a reason to tie-in appearances from both Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), you would think that Barry and Oliver (who still have their own knowledge) should have been able to prove who was who simply by talking things through.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Rudyard Kipling's work has been adapted to film numerous times over the years. While some enjoyed Disney's 2016 live-action version of their earlier animated film, the mix of a realistic look with Disney sensibilities (animals that both sang and danced and then brutally murdered) didn't work for me.

Delayed because of the Disney release, Andy Serkis' version feels a bit more on point (and far more tonally consistent). The actor, who made a name for himself as one of the most famous CGI performers over the years, delivers a vibrant film making the most out of continued advancements of motion capture techniques. The film doesn't run from the dangers of the jungle, or try to make the animals into cute sidekicks to sell toys and merchandise to younger viewers.

The story follows Kipling's basic plot of a human baby raised by wolves. After brief set-up introducing Mowgli (Rohan Chand) to the tribe, the film jumps forward several years catching up with the man-cub when he's old enough to begin questioning his world and his place in it.

At Eternity's Gate

The latest from director Julian Schnabel takes us on a journey with Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) during the painter's final years. Shot in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône and Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where van Gogh lived during his final years, the film offers beautiful shots of the French countryside, countless close-ups of Dafoe's face and paintings, and a somewhat unfocused narrative on the artist's eccentric nature, loneliness, and view of the world.

The strength of Schnabel's film is the look and style and its more silent moments centered around van Gogh where some of the magic of the artistic's work is shown, but when the film moves from this to longer dialogues, often oddly filmed in extreme closeups, in attempts to explain van Gogh, the sequences are more hit-and-miss. Oscar Isaac as Paul Gauguin and Rupert Friend as Vincent's brother lead a supporting cast of those moving in and out of the artist's troubled life. Their scenes with Dafoe, and those involving a schoolteacher and unruly students, turn out to be the best of the sequences featuring Vincent interacting with others. But at its best, At Eternity's Gate focuses on van Gogh's interaction with nature and art, which to him were much the same thing.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018


While Asher doesn't offer much in the way of surprise or suspense, there's something magnetic about Ron Perlman as the career fixer whose age has finally started to catch up to him. Perlman captures Asher's weary professionalism that is only ever disrupted by the chance meeting of a ballet teacher (Famke Janssen) whose life he literally falls into.

The script from first-time feature screenwriter Jay Zaretsky is pretty standard fare about an aging hitman whose life is about to get complicated by a new love and a past come back to haunt him. Perlman and Janssen help elevate the subject manner while director Michael Caton-Jones and cinematographer Denis Crossan combine to provide the film a visual style that highlights its stars and the world where Asher lives.

Filling out the story, the script throws in subplots involving Jacqueline Bisset the ballet teacher's mother suffering from Alzheimer's and troubles involving Richard Dreyfuss and Peter Facinelli as a honored boss and celebrity protege. Neither story offers easy answers, but, when force comes to bear, Asher will deal with all obstacles as best he can.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy stars as writer Lee Israel who resorted to forging documents from deceased authors and playwrights when her own career hit rock bottom. Can You Ever Forgive Me? has a couple of things going for it, the first being McCarthy. The dramatic role is quite a departure from McCarthy's usual loud and obnoxious comedies. Although neither McCarthy nor the script (based on Israel's own autobiography) can ever make the protagonist sympathetic, it is nice to see the actress take on a more serious role.

The second thing the film has going for it is Israel's story. While forgery is quite common, hers was an unique tale showcasing the author's hidden talent in crafting plausible fakes from literary's best. Forgery by typewriter, however, does have a downside in that it isn't very cinematic. Unlike movies about art forgery, Can You Ever Forgive Me? lacks great visuals to help sell the suckers (and the audience) on the con.

A common theme in films like this is the charming forger, who the audience begins to root for to succeed. That's never an option here as McCarthy's ball-busting portrayal is anything but sympathetic.

MCM London Comic Con October 2018 - Cosplay Music Video Part 2

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Justice League Action - Party Animal

The holiday-themed "Party Animals" gives us a look at the Justice League at Green Arrow's (Chris Diamantopoulos) Christmas party. Even Batman (Kevin Conroy) makes an appearance, when the Flash (Charlie Schlatter) learns that the Dark Knight's attendance is all the Emerald Archer wants for the holiday and decides to kidnap Batman at super-speed. The party is interrupted by the appearance of Plastic Man (Dana Snyder) who brings the tranked-out Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore), captured earlier in the episode, as his guest. Grundy's outburst, and the sequence of events which follow offer the true meaning of the holiday. Green Arrow's insistence on letting the events play out even earns him some appreciation from Batman (and what more could Ollie ask for?).

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Green Book

Unlikely friendships are a well-mined trope in feature film. Just such a relationship is at the heart of Green Book starring Viggo Mortensen as an Italian thug and driver hired by a talented African-American pianist (Mahershala Ali) for a musical tour through the South. Getting its name from the book of hotels who will rent rooms to Blacks, Green Book offers the expected lessons in culture clash and gradual respect between its lead characters who learn from each other during their time on the road.

Although based on real events, the story follows the expected Hollywood script as Tony (Mortensen) and Dr. Shirley (Ali) bond on the road over their, mostly cute and/or innocuous, arguments and disagreements. Despite dealing racism, both blatant and subtle, Green Book never dives too deeply into the subject as to upset its crowd-pleasing dynamic. The result is a safe and predictable film that still delivers a solid story blustered by its two lead performances as Mortensen and Ali play well off one another. The film includes a large cast of those met on the road, but Linda Cardellini (as Tony's wife back home) proves to be the only stand-out, and even her inclusion feels plot-driven as a necessary witness to the effect Dr. Shirley has on her husband.

Daredevil - A New Napkin

Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) has won. With the charges against him wiped away, anyone who could do damage to him has been killed or discredited. And with the FBI firmly under his thumb, the Kingpin prepares for his wedding. With Fisk's victory all but complete, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) plans on attacking the Kingpin on his wedding day and putting down the villain for good. To do so means on relying on the help of Poindexter (Wilson Bethel) who Daredevil has just the right leverage to push over the edge and aim straight towards Fisk. Meanwhile, one last chance at taking Fisk down legally falls directly into the laps of Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) with a dying confession by Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali) that can unravel the Kingpin's entire operation.

Monday, December 3, 2018

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power - System Failure

"System Failure" introduces my favorite of all of the princess supporting characters showcased in the First Season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Unlike the other princesses, Princess Entrapta (Christine Woods) exhibits no special powers (unless you count her wild hair acting as an extra pair of hands when needed). Instead, the manic Entrapta offers a character thoroughly invested in technology, experimentation, and robots, which gets her in trouble here when some incompatibility between her robots and First Ones' technology leads to all the robots in her maze-like kingdom going berserk. When the virus infects She-Ra (Aimee Carrero) as well, it falls on her friends to save the day. Entrapta's experiments here, and later in the series, show us that the line between magic and technology is blurry on Etheria which relies on both for its very survival.

Friday, November 30, 2018


Presented from the perspective of a 4 year-old boy named Kun (Moka Kamishiraishi), Mirai examines the emotions of a young boy dealing with the sudden arrival of a baby sister into his family and the unexpected upheaval her arrival causes to his normal routine. Through Kun's fantasies and tantrums he also comes into contact with the teenage version of his baby sister (Haru Kuroki) who requests his help on an important mission.

Interesting without ever becoming compelling, writer/director Mamoru Hosoda's film feels very much like a personal tale centered around the family dynamic. Along with Kun's various fantasies, the story also examines the roles of a working mother, a stay-at-home father, and a helpful grandmother. However, much like Kun's disinterest in his inactive baby sister, the film (even with its more fantastical elements) never journeys far from what is expected. As a result, Mirai (which gets its name from Kun's baby sister) never really blossoms into the magical journey we want from it. Despite this limitation, the anime is still a beautifully-rendered story that hits home on its lead character's raw emotions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Death of Superman

The Death of Superman marks the first time DC's animated division has remade a straight-to-video movie (the events from the Death of Superman storyline were originally covered in Superman Doomsday). Even though it unfortunately takes place in the New 52 version of the DCU, The Death of Superman is an improvement over the previous efforts focusing on the events leading up to Superman's (Jerry O'Connell) battle with Doomsday, his relationship with Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), and the death of the hero. The other Supermen (who will appear in the sequel) are foreshadowed here as well.

The best of the New 52 Justice League movies (likely because the story came decades before this version of the DCU that DC Comics has already decided to distance themselves from), The Death of Superman feels a bit incomplete with only half the story told, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I'm not a fan of either the design nor performance of Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, but he's a marginal player here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Front Runner

30 years later, The Front Runner takes a look back at the fall of Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) who in the space of three weeks went from the presumptive Democratic nominee for the President of the United States to a cautionary tale. After some initial set-up laying the groundwork for the stranglehold Hart had on his party's nomination in 1988, the script by Matt Bai, Jay Carson, and director Jason Reitman dives into Hart's relationship with the media covering his campaign and his extra-marital indiscretion which, when brought to light, would be the end of his political career.

Monday, November 26, 2018

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero - Silent Option #2

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero - Silent Option #2 continues the search for the Helix as the team of Dawn Moreno, Alpine, Throwdown, Topredo, and Bombstrike continue to follow the path of bodies the missing Helix leaves in her wake while targeting human traffickers.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Creed II

Part Rocky III and part Rocky IV, Creed II offers the highs and lows of boxer Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) who wins the title but is then faced with a ghost from the past in the return of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and the introduction of his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu).

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet

2012's Wreck-It Ralph introduced movie viewers to old school video game villain Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his journey to become a hero (leading to quite a bit of chaos for everyone involved). The sequel opens in much the same way with Ralph's attempt to help his best friend leading to disaster and a trip to the Internet for Ralph and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) in search of a steering wheel for her video game which is the only thing that can stop the machine from officially being retired from the arcade.

Screenwriters Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon have fun introducing the two characters to the wider world of the Internet including E-bay, Internet videos and memes, a Grand Theft Auto style video game called Slaughter Race, and a chance for Vanellope to learn about a special talent of princesses from those who know it best. The later provides some of the film's best scenes including a musical number I hope gets Oscar consideration. While the story meanders a bit more than the original, there are plenty of big laughs while still delivering a nice message about friendship for a younger audience (and Ralph).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Firefly #1

Taking place prior to the events of Serenity, BOOM! Studios new comic takes us back to the 'verse where Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew aim to misbehave. Opening with Serenity in bad shape, the first issue offers new troubles for the crew in the form of ghosts from Mal and Zoe's past. Marooned on a moon in the Outer Rim with a bounty on their heads and in need of repairs they can't pay for, it will take some work to get the crew of Serenity flying once again.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians offers your basic going home to meet the parents tale, notable for two things. First, the romantic comedy features a talented all Asian cast. And second, it contains far better writing an acting than most romcoms. Our couple in love is Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding). Despite being nearly ready to propose, Nick hasn't come clean with his girlfriend that his family is crazy rich (and also just plain crazy). Rachel discovers this for herself while accompanying Nick to Singapore for a friend's wedding.

The film features what you'd expect. Nick tries to balance love and family obligations. Rachel struggles to fit in with his family and deal with his disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh) before learning to stand-up for herself and teach the Youngs a few lessons of their own. The supporting cast includes the over-the-top Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Jimmy O. Yang, and Nico Santos, and the more understated Gemma Chan who bonds with Rachel over her own marital troubles.

Supergirl - Call to Action

The Agents of Liberty grow more bold, first by dumping their manifesto on the city and later by organizing groups of thugs in masks to attack the homes of aliens under the guise of protecting human rights. While ordered to leave the non-alien domestic terrorist group to other government agencies, Alex (Chyler Leigh) keeps Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) on the case allowing Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) to swoop in and prevent any bloodshed on Thanksgiving night. Despite earning another victory, the war for the hearts and minds of the city continues. And with Colonel Haley (April Parker Jones) apparently in league with the group, or at least sympathetic to their cause, it appears things will get no easier for life at the DEO (although the woman is at least smart enough not to make an enemy of the most powerful hero on the planet... at least not yet).

This is BLIZZCON 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power - The Sword

Originally introduced as a spin-off to a television series created for the sole purpose of selling Masters of the Universe toys, She-Ra gets a reboot in the new series from DreamWorks Animation and Netflix. With more of an anime feel, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power introduces us to the orphaned Adora (Aimee Carrero) as the most naive solider in history whose eyes are opened to the Horde's evils when she ventures out beyond the Fright Zone and meets her first princess. Although Hordak is present in cameo roles, the main villains for Adora are her former friend Catra (AJ Michalka) who remains with the Horde and the evil sorceress Shadow Weaver (Lorraine Toussaint) who hopes to bring Adora back where she belongs. After discovering the Sword of Protection and seeing the Horde's rampant destruction, Adora is forced to leave behind her best friend and set out on a new path as the protector of Etheria.

Free Solo

The documentary from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi follows climber Alex Honnold and his preparations to become the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite's 3,000-foot El Capitan. While diving into the Honnold's closest relationships and his makeup, the film focuses primarily on the dangers of the climber's quest and the ambition and drive which he cannot ignore. Featuring interviews with fellow climbers and Honnold's mother and girlfriend, we learn a bit of what makes the climber tick as he attempts to accomplish the improbable feat of climbing the sheer granite face of a 3,000-foot mountain without any climbing gear or any kind of safety net.

Because Chin and his cameramen are friends of Honnold, the documentary also adds an unexpected undercurrent to the story of Honnold not wanting to let his friends down while they are equally fearful of the very real possibility they might be enabling the climber to film his death during an outrageously dangerous feat. The result is an engaging documentary ending in Honnold's historic attempt.

James Bond 007 #1

The first issue of Dynamite Entertainment's new series James Bond 007 sends the the British secret agent to Singapore to snatch an important package headed for the terrorist organization ORU. The issue starts out with an extended action sequence involving trouble with the exchange, none of which involves Bond, before finding our hero at the casino ready to jump on the survivor of the altercation.

Legacies - Hope is Not the Goal

When two students from the rival high school go missing, Alaric (Matthew Davis) sends a team of students to investigate. Paired together on their undercover investigation, distrust continues to be an issue between Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) and Landon (Aria Shahghasemi). When initial evidence points to a vampire, MG (Quincy Fouse) is forced to make a difficult choice and comes clean about Kaleb's (Chris De'Sean Lee) nocturnal habits, however the real threat is revealed to be a giant arachnid feeding on the students of the school while searching for the mystical dagger. The arachnid turns out to be a formidable threat, but nothing a trio of witches can't deal with, but another mystical disturbance and the revelation of Kaleb feeding on local girls raises tensions between the school and local law enforcement.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Old Man and the Gun

Based on the life of career criminal Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), who in his 60s (after escaping from prison yet again) put together dozens of bank heists across the country until finally being captured by the FBI, writer/director David Lowery's film offers a look at the criminal's "last hurrah" (although he would commit one more crime spree at the ripe old age of 79) and the Dallas Police Detective (Casey Affleck) instrumental in capturing him.

Redford is put to good use here as the gentlemen robber who never fires a shot (in fact, in every bank robbery sequence he alludes to, but never draws, a gun). The actor easily captures the charm of the man who robbed more for the thrill than the money, always with a smile on his face. Over the course of the film we watch Tucker rob several banks, sometimes by himself and sometimes with the help of two other elderly gentlemen (Danny Glover and Tom Waits) who gain notoriety for the four-year bank robbing spree. The movie also includes a subplot involving Tucker's interest in a widow (Sissy Spacek) who, like the previous loves of Tucker's life, never knew or believed what Tucker did for a living.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them spends most of the first half-hour getting the previous film's major characters together once again. Mixing in a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and introducing, but failing to develop, Johnny Depp as the villain Grindelwald, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald then attempts to steal a bit of the magic from the Harry Potter films.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Flash - All Doll'd Up

Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) work together on a series of crimes committed by a new meta-human Cisco (Carlos Valdes) names Rag Doll (Troy James and voiced by Phil LaMarr). Although he lacks the dark humor and talkative nature from Gail Simone's Secret Six run, Rag Doll definitely succeeds as one creepy ass villain. The episode also offers a couple of humorous scenes involving Ralph's (Hartley Sawyer) help with the threat once Barry is captured by Rag Doll. (Elongated Man, Elongated Man, does whatever a Spider-Man can.) This leaves the rest of Team Flash to work on other mysteries as Ralph, "Sherloque" Wells (Tom Cavanagh), and Cisco all help in Caitlin's (Danielle Panabaker) search for answers about her missing father. The B-story also provides a chance for Caitlin to help Cisco rediscover his use to the team now that his powers have been fried by Cicada (Chris Klein).

Arrow - The Demon

The season's theme of unexpected alliances continues as Oliver (Stephen Amell) finds an old frenemy on Level 2, and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) enlists the help of both Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) to discover what off-the-books experiments Dr. Jarrett Parker (Jason E. Kelley) is doing with inmates on a facility the prison doesn't even admit exists. Although the show has really short-changed the character, the return of Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig) offers some nice prison escape fight sequences and helps give closure to Talia's storyline (and continue to tease a Batman connection to the Arrowverse that The CW has shown no actual interest in ever exploring). The torture Oliver endures also opens a new possible legal recourse to get him out of prison.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Archie Meets Batman '66 #4

The Bat-villains reign of terror in Riverdale continues as the Joker attempts to brainwash Jughead (a process that turns out to be harder than the Clown Prince of Crime expected), and Catwoman, under the guise of Miss Kitka (in a nice nod to 1966's Batman: The Movie), wins the hearts of the high school boys (although she is startled by the sudden appearance of Batgirl and Robin). Now the pair will just to have to fight their way through the rest of the school to get their hands on the felonious feline.