Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Nine Best Films of 2019

Family was a strong theme in many of my favorite films of 2019. My list includes some famous directors, one super-hero, secrets, mystery and deception, strong ensembles, the search for the truth, and the horrors of war and divorce. Tying for an honorable mention (I couldn't decide on which to include as #10 on the list) are the equally good, yet very different, Dolemite is My Name and Motherless Brooklyn. Without further ado, it is time to count down the nine best movies of 2019.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Suicide Squad #1

DC launches a new version of the Suicide Squad pitting a makeshift team against a group of super-powered terrorists known as the Revolutionaries. There are a few familiar faces in Deadshot and Harley Quinn but the rest of the team, chosen not by Amanda Waller but by her replacement Lok, features questionable members like the Cavalier, the Shark, Zebra Man, and Magpie.

Batman & the Outsiders #8

Despite a late betrayal by one of their own, the Outsiders successfully return to Gotham City with Sofia Ramos in Batman & the Outsiders #8. Opening with the betrayal of Kaliber, the latest issue of the series confirms the death of Alfred has been what has kept Batman from being in the field with the Outsiders over the comic's first arc.

It's Holiday Matsuri 2019 Cosplay Christmas Part 1

Friday, December 27, 2019


Based on actual events that occurred during World War I, 1917 follows two British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) sent alone across enemy territory to warn of an impending ambush by the German Army. The script from director Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns strips down to the bare essentials avoiding obvious tropes and cliches from war movies to deliver one of the most memorable entries to the genre in recent years which was based on a story Mendes' grandfather told him as a child. Exceptionally well shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, 1917 is a movie of heroism, sacrifice, and survival that is marvelous to behold.

For a film about war, 1917 is a deceptively quiet film that builds tension between the moments of action (equally as memorable as its quite sequences) as our protagonists race to prevent more than 1,000 troops (including a brother) from walking into the enemy's deadly trap while performing what appears to the British line as a hasty retreat. Along the way, Mendes sprinkles in supporting performances from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Richard Madden, but the film belongs to the two soldiers on their own past the German line on a suicide mission to deliver a message in time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Little Women

Greta Gerwig becomes the latest to adapt Louisa May Alcott's popular novel (over the years it has been adapted more than a dozen times to film and television as well as both a musical and opera). The semi-autobiographical tale follows the lives of the four March sisters (Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen) following the Civil War.

Saoirse Ronan gets the most screentime as the rebellious Jo, a writer with dreams and desires that don't always fit the conventions of her time. Watson is perhaps underused as the elder and more conventional Meg, while Pugh sinks her teeth into the more complex Amy. Scanlen is put to good use as the tragic and talented Beth. And Timothée Chalamet smolders as the boy next door.

The film is divided into later years with Jo in New York and Amy in Paris with flashbacks to the family all living under the same roof. The structure allows Gerwig to highlight themes that repeat and keep coming back to the tight family unit even after tragedy and time have taken their toll on the March family.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Uncut Gems

As in 2017's Good Time, the Safdie brothers offer a tale of a man whose world is crashing down on him. In Uncut Gems that man is jeweler, philanderer, and addicted gambler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) whose life, in his opinion, is always just one-step away from the big score that can change everything. Howard has a dissatisfied wife (Idina Menzel) and kids, is sleeping with one of his employees (Julia Fox), owes markers all over town including to his brother-in-law (Eric Bogosian), bets any money he can get on sports, and has sunk much of his savings into an an uncut opal from Ethiopia. When his hero worship gets the best of him and he allows Kevin Garnett (playing himself) to hold onto the gem for a night, Howard's life begins to unravel strand-by-strand.

Sandler's Howard is the architect of his own failure. While I couldn't find reason to root for or against his need to reach for one long shot after the other, Uncut Gems does offer an intriguing look at a man being crushed by his own bad choices. But, because I could never invest any emotion into the outcome of Howard's various schemes, Uncut Gems effect on me was limited. Without a stake in success or failure, I simply watched events unfold with curiosity.

The Two Popes

Now stop me if you've heard this one, two Popes walk into the Vatican... Director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten offer this amusing tale of the relationship that develops between two men with opposing views of Catholicism in the world. It just so happens that both of those men would become Pope. Opening with Pope Benedict XVI's (Anthony Hopkins) election over a reluctant Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the film moves forward seven years during a tumultous time for the Catholic Church where Benedict will look at his formal rival as the best hope for the church.

With the simple set-up, McCarten sets the stage and allows Hopkins and Pryce to play off of each other offering insights into both men struggling to find common ground. Pryce gets the better deal with the more layered Jorge who, thanks to Benedict's prodding, would go on to become Pope Francis. Hopkins gets stuck with the more straightforward Benedict, but the set-up offers him challenges in attempting to convince a man whose views of the church he disagrees with to take a job he doesn't desire.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

With The Rise of Skywalker J.J. Abrams returns to close-out the sequel trilogy which began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Not content to end just this series, Abrams intends the film to work as the climax to all nine of the Star Wars films featuring mentions, Easter Eggs, and callbacks from every film (and even some of the various animated TV series). The shift also forces a change in the tone of the arc of the series as Rian Johnson's look to the future is replaced with a story tied very much to the past.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Mandalorian - Chapter 1

The first episode of the Disney+ series introduces us to a nameless Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) first through a rather routine bounty and second through a new job off-the-books that raises several red flags for our protagonist but whose payout cannot be ignored. Series creator Jon Favreau, who also wrote the first episode aims for a tone reminiscent of the Mos Eisley Cantina found in the original Star Wars. The early bar fight to open the episode and the later attack on a heavily-armed compound both show off the character's skill-set, while the final scene of the episode offers a glimpse into the character's emotional state.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Superman #18

What's so interesting to me about Superman #18 isn't how it fundamentally changes the character going forward in a major way but how well writer Brian Michael Bendis presents the idea as a natural evolution for Superman. While the issue jumps around a bit here and there, including nice moments of Clark Kent's separate conversations with Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, the main focus in a press conference Superman calls in front of The Daily Planet revealing his dual identity to the world. That isn't to say Clark Kent is going away, he's remaining at The Daily Planet, it's just now his co-workers (and the entire world) know that he's also Superman.


A family of con artists living together a cramped semi-basement apartment set their sights on a wealthy and gullible family in writer/director Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) is the first through the door as a tutor for the teenage daughter Da-hye (Ji-so Jung). Next comes his sister Ki-jeong (So-dam Park), as an art teacher and art therapist for the couple's son (Hyun-jun Jung). Together the pair are able to replace the family's driver with their father Ki-taek (Kang-ho Song) and the housekeeper (Jeong-eun Lee) with their mother (Hye-jin Jang) all while hiding the familial relationship behind the Parks' (Sun-kyun Lee and Yeo-jeong Jo) new employees.

The insidious nature of the clan and their slow takeover of the household is fascinating to watch. What's interesting, despite their lies and deceptions, each proves fairly good at their jobs. I won't get into the film's dark turn or reveal what happens in the film's second-half other than to say the house of cards is threatened by a discovery deep in the heart of the Parks' home in the dead of night leading to a climactic sequence of events playing out in the middle of a family celebration.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


Bombshell offers a matter-of-fact, but ultimately not all that illuminating, look at the sexual harassment at FOX News under Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). The film primarily focuses on three woman (Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie), only one of whom we see Ailes abuse his power to manipulate and harass (Robbie, in the film's best, and most skin-crawling and heartbreaking, scene). Undercutting the film's moral stance more than a little is the fact that the focus of the lawsuit that kicked-off the media storm that eventually led to Ailes departure was less about Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) being harassed and more about seeking revenge for her dismissal from the network due to creative differences.

While Theron gets far more screentime, Robbie steals the film as the naive Kayla Pospisil just starting out in the business who gets a harsh reality check at how things are done. Kate McKinnon has an intriguing role as her friend/lover whose balance of being a lesbian Democrat working at Fox News is actually far more interesting material than most of what is explored over the course of the film surrounding Ailes and the lawsuit. Lithgow is properly slimy as seedy Ailes who is incapable of admitting he's done anything wrong.

The Farewell

Based on a true story, writer/director Lulu Wang's film showcases a major cultural difference between China and America in dealing with life-threatening illness. When the oldest member of the family (Shuzhen Zhao) is diagnosed with cancer in China, the family chooses not to reveal her condition. Instead, the family orchestrates a wedding as an excuse to bring the full family back to China. However, the gathering's true purpose is to say farewell.

There's a philosophical question at the base of the film that Wang refuses to loose herself in. While showcasing a very different view of medicine and death (even the doctors in China help the family to hide the old woman's condition), Wang doesn't attempt to argue one method is better than the other. Instead, the movie focuses on how Nai Nai's (Zhao) condition, and the decision to hide her prognosis from her, effects the entire family - primarily her granddaughter Billi (Awkwafina) from America who isn't brought over with her parents because her family fears her ability to keep the secret (but who comes anyway to spend time with the grandmother she loves).

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

NCIS - The North Pole

In a callback to "Out of Darkness" and "Into the Light" which returned Cote de Pablo as Ziva David, "The North Pole" deals with the remaining mission Ziva wished to accomplish before returning to her family. The set-up of NCIS' involvement is a bit awkward involving Odette Malone (Elayn J. Taylor) lying and tricking Bishop (Emily Wickersham) in order to secure the help of NCIS in the attempt to save a contact and friend of Ziva's who was her lifeline during her years on underground. The twist the episode involves the reveal that the Sahar (Mouzam Makkar) killed was a lieutenant and not the true terrorist leader (Louise Barnes) who has been living under Gibb's nose all this time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100

The long-running "City at War" storyline comes to a close with the over-sized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100 which opens with Kitsune's attempt to bring forth the Dragon into the headless body of the Shredder. There's plenty of action here in an issue that features a giant dragon, small and large battles, the reunion of brothers, and a large number of appearances from various TMNT characters (including Alopex, who makes her stand against Kitsune) before ending on a surprising note with a sacrifice and a return.

Rick and Morty - Rattlestar Ricklactica

"Rattlestar Ricklactica" dials up the crazy when events to fix something go horribly wrong. In the main story, Morty (Justin Roiland) is bitten by a space snake when ignoring his grandfather's orders to stay in the car. Realizing the snake astronaut's death will have repurcussions on a world of snakes (that produces some pretty good Snake Jazz) leads Morty to dress up an Earth snake and return him to the planet starting a series of events leading to time traveling snakes, snake Terminators, and all kinds of carnage. The episode's B-story centers around Jerry getting into trouble when Rick (Roiland) decides to help by decreasing Jerry's (Chris Parnell) mass so he can put up Christmas lights without killing himself. The result? Jerry almost kills himself.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mike Wallace is Here

Including interviews and clips, Mike Wallace is Here examines the career of media personality turned newsman and one of the driving forces behind 60 Minutes. Offering details about Mike Wallace's personal life and his stature in the news community given his previous job as an actor and a pitch man Parliament cigarettes, director Avi Belkin offers several interesting tidbits to keep the viewer's interest. Honestly, I had no idea so much of the old school "real" journalists looked down on Wallace and niche he helped create.

Much of the documentary focuses on Wallace's interview style that began with Night Beat and continued as a staple of 60 Minutes giving him a legendary status for never letting a subject off the hook. Using the large amount of archive footage available including interviews with Wallace and several of his peers, Belkin arguably blends together as complete a picture of the man and his legacy as any documentary who had access to a living subject which both entertains and informs. The film is available on DVD and several streaming platforms.

Hellmouth #3

The third issue of the crossover event between Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer catches up with the two characters who followed Drusilla inside the Hellmouth.

Star Wars Card Trader Awesome Pack 20

Also check out Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Pack 4, Pack 5, Pack 6, Pack 7, Pack 8, Pack 9, Pack 10, Pack 11, Pack 12, Pack 13, Pack 14, Pack 15, Pack 16, Pack 17, Pack 18, Pack 19, Star Wars Day 2019 Pack, and the Star Wars Disney Princess Pack.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Hawaii Five-0 - Ka i ka 'ino, no ka 'ino

Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) continues his role of stand-in for Chin-Ho as the team member to be attacked and framed for various crimes, repeatedly. Following the events of the previous episode, which involved Tamiko (Brittany Ishibashi) being kidnapped and her father murdered, and those responsible looking to frame him, Adam steps away from Five-0 without explanation looking towards his past to set-up a new future for himself and Tamiko. While not involved in the investigation, both McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danny (Scott Caan) attempt to talk to Adam, but it looks like Adam's days on the side of angels has come to an end.

Ghost-Spider #4

Things seem to be looking up for our hero. Gwen has managed to balance life between two separate Earths well, although there are forces in both worlds looking at her with keen interest. Miles Warren's obsession with this new Gwen Stacy leads the professor/super-villain to follow our hero back to her own Earth (where another Jackal and Man-Wolf have their own plans for revenge against Ghost-Spider). Will there be a Jackal team-up? Or will the pair fight each other for Gwen?

Legacies - This Christmas Was Surprisingly Violent

By the end of the show's mid-season finale things will be pretty much back to normal. Before that, Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) will drag Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) back home, Rafael (Peyton 'Alex' Smith) will meet his biological father, and Christmas will come in October for the Salvatore School when Krampus comes knocking turning everyone except Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) into a group of merry fools. To save the day, Hope will have to rely on unexpected help from Clarke (Nick Fink) and Santa Claus (Jeff Pillars). It's a goofy end to a half-season that resets things (mostly) back to normal with both Hope and Alaric back in school, Hope and Landon together, and the pit closed.

This is BlizzCon 2019 Best Cosplay Music Video

Sunday, December 15, 2019

KCFCC 54th James Loutzenhiser Awards

1917 was the big winner taking home three wins in the Kansas City Film Critics Circle's annual award ceremony for Best Film, Best Director (Sam Mendes), and Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins). Check out the list of all winners inside.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Richard Jewell

Director Clint Eastwood's latest film examines Richard Jewell and the rise and fall of the security guard in the media from the hero who discovered a bomb during the 1996 Summer Olympics at Centennial Park to the FBI's prime suspect in the bombing. An indictment on both media and the tendency of local and federal agencies to decide on a narrative and attempt to fit the facts to it rather than the other way around, the film focuses on how the lack of any evidence didn't prevent either the FBI or the media at large from determining Jewell was guilty (despite the fact he was never charged with a crime).

Paul Walter Hauser is the stand-out as the naive Jewell who, even while being accused by the FBI, can't help but try and help due to his hero worship of the police. Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates are strong as the few supporters believing in Jewell's innocence while the other side of the investigation features far more one-note characters with Jon Hamm is stuck in a cliched cop role as the man leading the investigation, and other actors as forgettable nameless support, and Olivia Wilde is a slutty reporter whose need to break the story costs Jewell everything.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Flash - Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three

Since the creation of The Flash the writers have foreshadowed the character's death in a Crisis set in the not-too-distant future. "Part Three" sees those events come to pass. Again, pulling from the original source material, we get the Anti-Monitor's canon and the one hero whose speed can stop it and save the Earth. Knowing that The Flash wasn't looking to kill off Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and permanently leave a hole in the show left the writers looking for an out, and they found one that might even work better than Gustin's Flash giving his life as it plays on well-developed themes of Barry seeing those he loves die and hits just the right nostalgic notes for fans of the original Flash television series. While one Flash does dramatically sacrifice his life to stop the anti-matter wave, it's actually the Flash of Earth-90 played by John Wesley Shipp reprising his role from the 90s television show (complete with a flashback and use of The Flash's opening score).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Batwoman - Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two

Hey, an episode of Batwoman that is actually good!? The Crisis crossover continues with the heroes searching for a very specific Superman before Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) can kill them all. Sorry Smallville fans it isn't that one (although we do get a cameo by Tom Welling on the Kent family farm). The Superman (Brandon Routh) they are looking for turns out to look an awful lot like the Atom (also Routh) living on Earth-96 (based on Kingdom Come and also the various Superman films starring Routh and Christopher Reeve). That Superman is one of seven paragons necessary to fight the Anti-Monitor. That leaves Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Batwoman (Ruby Rose) in search of another paragon in Gotham of Earth-99 where the pair run into that world's Batman (Kevin Conroy). I don't mind the episode making Conroy a red herring, as it was unlikely Crisis would suit him up and throw him into the big battle scenes to come. Instead he offers a cautionary tale for Kate Kane to take another step forward as a hero (now if she could just find a show worthy of her).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Queen & Slim

Writer/director Melina Matsoukas' Queen & Slim examines how one night can change your life. Driving Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) home after their unsuccessful first date, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) is pulled over by a racist cop looking for any excuse to escalate the situation. Two gunshots later, the pair are on the run relatively oblivious to how their story will spread across the country.

The film is built on the backs of Kaluuya and Turner-Smith whose unusual first date leads the to unexpected destinations including a family reunion, a city-wide protest in their honor, and a drive towards freedom. Slim's even demanor is a nice match for Queen's more fiery moments, and it's where the pair come together that Queen & Slim ultimately succeeds.

Matsoukas provides a stylish racially-charged tale of fugitives on the run that does begin to drag on during its final half-hour. While the decisions the pair make after killing a cop in self-defense are questionable at best, the script focuses on their perspectives, and life experience, to make the best choices they can given other equally bad alternatives.

Why Joker is the Most Overrated Movie of the Year

Although it has been phenomenally successful at the box office, writer/director Todd Phillips' film focused on the origins of the most famous Bat-villain has divided critics. Forgetting for a moment that attempting to rationalize and explain one of the most inexplicable characters ever created is a terrible, terrible idea doomed to failure, Phillips' choices over the course of Joker leave much to be desired.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Supergirl - Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One

Supergirl kicks off the crossover The CW has been building towards for years as an anti-matter wave is approaching all Earths, threatening to wipe out all of existence. The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) pulls heroes from various locations, bringing them to Supergirl's Earth-38 to make a stand. While the show's current storyline's are mentioned, most notably Lena (Katie McGrath) villain turn, the focus is on Crisis as all hands are on deck (even Lena) to find a way to evacuate the Earth should Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), White Canary (Caity Lotz), the Atom (Brandon Routh), Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), Mia (Katherine McNamara), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), and the Flash (Grant Gustin) fail.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Marriage Story

Offering as much commentary on divorce at large as its effect on his two main characters in Marriage Story, writer/director Noah Baumbach explores the dissolving marriage of theater director Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and actress Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) who struggle through change in humorous and heartbreaking ways. While their separation is mutually understood from the opening scene, a particularly good use of narration that allows us to get a sense of both characters, Charlie seems less able to deal with the changing realities of the family dynamic while Nicole relocates from New York to Los Angeles with their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) for work on a television pilot and begins to take the lead in the divorce by hiring a ball-busting attorney (Laura Dern).

There is still affection between the pair, but there is also hurt, resentment, and anger which only increases as the divorce becomes more litigious. Providing some of the film's more humorous scenes, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta both appear at times as Charlie's lawyers taking on Dern's character in court (proving the old adage that the only ones who win in divorce proceedings are the lawyers).

The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is equal parts celebration of dreamers, disaster movie, grand adventure, romantic comedy, overcoming fears and past mistakes, and scientific exploration. Not surprisingly, this proves to be a few too many balls for writer/director Tom Harper to keep aloft while attempting to juggle the various aspects of the script (which could have been streamlined quite a bit) and still provide a singular, if historically inaccurate, vision of James Glaisher story.

Based loosely on real events, Eddie Redmayne stars as scientist James Glaisher who was obsessed with proving his meteorological theories. Taking the place of the actual balloon pilots who took the scientist high enough to shatter the world record, Felicity Jones stars as the fictional Amelia Wren on-hand to both fly the hot air balloon and offer some spectacle to the crowd to increase interest. An amalgamation of multiple balloonists, the fictitious Wren allows for the re-teaming of of Redmayne and Jones (who previously starred together in The Theory of Everything) providing some nice moments between the pair high above the clouds (and also some questionable drama stumbling around on Earth).

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Dark Waters

Dark Waters is an interesting story that isn't always told in an interesting way. Based on real events, Mark Ruffalo stars as corporate lawyer Robert Bilott who gets roped into taking on the kind of client his firm usually argues against when a farmer shows up in his offices with a story to tell how his land is being poisoned by the small town's main employer, DuPont. Much like the court case itself, the film drags on as any movement in events happens at a glacial pace over decades (eventually the movie begins to increase the rapidness of its fast-forwards to alleviate some of the on-screen stagnation).

The script by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Mario Correa showcases how a big corporation flaunts its wealth and privilege, while ignoring any responsibility, even when solid proof of their wrongdoing is exposed. The other aspect to the film, not as well explored, is how the case changes Bilott's life, both professionally and at home, when he decides to take on a case that eventually becomes more of a crusade he feels obligated to see through. The film's set-up reminded me of 1998's A Civil Action (among other films) which explores many of the same themes.

Arrow - Purgatory

The final pre-Crisis episode of Arrow takes Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) back to Lian Yu in and episode that attempts (somewhat clumsily) making sense of the various missions and locales Oliver and his friends have returned to over the course of the season. On the island the group will race to complete a weapon for the the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) while literal ghosts from Oliver's past arise to cause complications. The farewell tour brings back a couple of familiar faces in Yao Fei (Byron Mann) and Fyers (Sebastian Dunn), but in an episode (and season) devoted largely to fan service (when not advertising a big crossover), I was disappointed not to see Shado (Celina Jade) earn a final cameo.

Dolemite is My Name

Eddie Murphy stars as entertainer Rudy Ray Moore who reinvents his dated struggling stage show to find new success by assuming the role of a character named Dolemite on stage (inspired by stories told on the streets in the 1970s about a foul-mouthed pimp who wouldn't take shit from anyone). The success of the character would lead to three racy comedy albums, which larger studios feared to touch due to their explicit nature, and even feature films.

The script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski follows Moore from working in a local record store to the rising popularity of his new act and the struggle to self-finance and star in Dolemite (a critically-panned niche film which would go on to become instantly successful in black communities). Rudy Ray Moore is a perfect role for Murphy at this time in his career, and the film works as a heartfelt goofy story of Moore enjoying his sudden popularity after years of anonymity. Given its similar themes, Dolemite is My Name may have felt a bit fresher if it hadn't come out two years after The Disaster Artist, but that's a small complaint for watching Moore, and Murphy, regain a bit of swagger.

The Flash - The Last Temptation of Barry Allen

The two-part mid-season finale of The Flash wraps up the Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) storyline whose infection of the Flash (Grant Gustin) leads Barry down a darker path and puts everyone in Central City at danger. While "Part 1" primarily deals with Barry's inner turmoil fighting against the infection, "Part 2" is more a straightforward monster episode feature the regulars on the run from Bloodwork's zombies. The plot allows for Allegra (Kayla Compton) to step-up and play a crucial role in helping to stop Ramsey, and elsewhere "Nash" Wells (Tom Cavanagh) continues his hunt for the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Supergirl - The Wrath of Rama Khan

In the final episode before the Crisis, Kara (Melissa Benoist) must deal with Lena's (Katie McGrath) betrayal and plans to launch Myriad and also stop Rama Khan (Mitch Pileggi) from igniting a dormant super volcano and destroying the world. Several of this season's themes are put into play here, some of which are wrapped up and others which will continue after the crossover, but it's the series' core belief that anyone can be saved that plays a crucial role in ending Lena's first (although not likely her last) attempt to bend humanity's wills to a less-violent future.


A biopic of Elton John, Rocketman is a serviceable but forgettable film noteworthy only for Taron Egerton performance in the title role. Other than admitting to the fact that Elton John was gay, came from bad parents, and struggled with drugs and alchol, the film doesn't offer much insight to his life. Oddly, the most memorable moments involving John's songwriting seem taken directly out of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. I honestly don't know if writer Lee Hall and director Dexter Fletcher wanted us to laugh with or at the film (I did plenty of both). Although there are certainly comparisons one can make in terms of story and style, Rocketman is less successful than Bohemian Rhapsody whose big musical numbers far outshine even the best moments here.

Once and Future #4

Issue #4 begins to fill in some gaps as both Duncan and Rose begin to understand their role in the story that is slowly unfolding as zombie knights of Camelot show up in the Grail Castle to begin the quest. Rose, it appears, will be the brains of the operation, while Duncan's middle name offers a clue to his role in the story. As the new Galahad begins the search for the Grail our heroes have another contemporary of an even older Grail Knight to lead their search.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Batwoman - A Mad Tea-Party

Alice (Rachel Skarsten) makes us of Mouse's (Sam Littlefield) unique talents and skin-mask fetish, and Batwoman makes use of some questionable writing, in taking revenge against those she blames for her years in captivity. "A Mad Tea-Party" offers the death of one member of the Kane family and looming trouble for another as Alice murders Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis), after first ruining her good name, and frames Jacob (Dougray Scott) for... something? I guess the GCPD understand, as they are quick to arrest Jacob on what I guess are supposed to be serious charges (ignoring all the fake Crows scattered across the gala, the drugs in his system, and any manner of other obvious evidence about peculiarities of the night's activities).

The Report

The Report is one of a number of movies released in 2019, most of them based on true stories, centered around an idealistic protagonist uncovering a dark truth and struggling to bring it to light. Our hero is Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) who is chosen by Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation into the CIA's detention program, and the enhanced interrogation techniques they deployed, following the attacks on September 11, 2001. What he discovers is shocking and disgusting, as is the CIA's work to discredit the report and make sure the truth never sees the light of day.

The events depicted in the film are less shocking today then when they were disclosed, but writer/director Scott Z. Burns does fashion this version of Jones as the vessel for the outrage over what was done in the name of freedom as well as a singular source to document and describe many of the flaws with the CIA's methods that, after all was said and done, produced very little in actionable intelligence. While Jones is obviously Burns' hero, Senator Feinstein is a bit harder for him to nail down (especially given her late waffling against the opposition to the report).

Adam Savage's One Day Builds: Star-Lord Cosplay