Friday, October 30, 2020

Once Upon a Snowman

Taking place during Frozen, "Once Upon a Snowman" offers viewers a look at Olaf's (Josh Gad) first few moments of life. Shoehorning the character different spots of existing archival footage taken from the film, the short places the living snowman on a parallel path to Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) searching for Elsa (Idina Menzel). With plenty of callbacks to Frozen, Once Upon a Snowman is fun but doesn't offer much in the way of surprises, other than explain where Olaf's fascination with summer comes from, and is more of an odd curiosity than anything else.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Bad Batch

"The Bad Batch" catches up with Mace Windu (TC Carson) and Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) on the planet Anaxes where Clone forces are slowly being overtaken by the Droid Army. Believing the Droids have learned to counter Republic's battlefield strategies, Commander Cody (Dee Bradley Baker) and Captain Rex (Baker) lead a commando unit of genetic mutated clones known as Clone Force 99 to learn more. Action is fast and furious here, and the mutated clones (each with certain advantages over "Regs") offer a fun twist to the usual proceedings. Hoping to find and destroy an algorithm, what the troopers actually discover seems to point to Rex's fears being true that Echo is alive and prisoner on Skako Minor where his knowledge is being used against the Clone army.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Queen's Gambit - Openings

I was intrigued by the trailer for Netflix's new show The Queen's Gambit. I'm a little less so after the first episode. Don't get me wrong, "Openings" is well made. It is however largely an origin story absent of what I was sold on. Series star Anya Taylor-Joy gets only a cameo here on an opening scene teasing where the series will eventually lead. The rest of the episode takes place years earlier with Isla Johnston playing the 9 year-old version of Beth Harmon who is sent to an orphanage after the death of her mother where she discovers her two great loves: chess and drugs. Based on Walter Tevis's 1983 novel of the same name, the mini-series will follow Beth's rise from the orphanage to unexpected heights in chess while struggling with the addictions which begin here.

Rey by OlchaS

OlchaS is an artist you can follow on deviantART and support on Patreon.

The Amazing Spider-Man #51

Okay, it's been a bit since I've picked up a Spider-Man comic. Looks like Peter's life isn't any less complicated than I remember. His friends have been possessed by the villain known as Kindred. The issue opens with Spidey going to Dr. Strange for help with a possessed Silk. While getting all magical and ominous, Strange's attempts to cure Silk fail leaving him questioning just what is going on as the comic appears to be tying events back to that time Spider-Man literally made a deal with the Devil and reset all of reality. Yeah... Spider-Man fans usually don't like to speak of this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7

In a year which has seen both a rise of public protest and attempts by both state and federal to squelch freedom of assembly comes a timely film from writer/director Aaron Sorkin looking back at the anti–Vietnam War protesters known as the Chicago Seven. While jumping over large parts of the trial, and using flashbacks to reveal events out of order, The Trial of the Chicago 7 certainly takes dramatic license. As a result, it's not a great trial movie, but is still an engaging and moving film.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Super Dinosaur - Multi-Player

Derek's (Valin Shinyei) recklessness gets him into trouble when he rewires the training simulator to allow them to play their favorite video game (which has been referenced several times on the show so far) virtually as the perfect birthday gift for his best friend. Disabling the safety protocols, Derek traps himself, Super Dinosaur (Mac Heywood), and Erica (Shannon Chan-Kent) inside the game. "Multi-Player" has some fun with the video game construct, allowing for the players to fight in the virtual environment while also showing the audience what the game looks like from the outside which we see from Bruce (Brian Dobson) and Sarah's (Kathleen Barr) perspective when they take over the kids' avatars to help them through the dangerous final level. While a bit unintentional, the game works well as a team building exercise and teaches Derek the importance of thinking through possible consequences to his sometimes risky plans.

Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures - Clash on Cloud City

Zatanna Cosplay by Lera Himera

Lera Himera is a Russian cosplayer. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, deviantART, and Facebook. You can also support her on Patreon and Onlyfans.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery - That Hope is You, Part 1

Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) arrives in the year 3188 to find life which proves the gambit to stop Control was successful. The future was saved. While Discovery is nowhere to be found, Burnham is able to complete her mission and sends the suit back through to relay the signal to Spock and self-destruct. Lost in a new time, she makes a frenemy in thief and smuggler Book (David Ajala) who firsts betrays her but later helps her in her search for answers. As for Discovery, the ship is nowhere to be found. By the laws of temporal dynamics it may arrive at any time... perhaps years in the future.

A Moment of Bliss

Monday Morning Montage - Rocky IV "No Easy Way Out"

We're going to kick off a new feature here with famous (and perhaps infamous) movie montages. Where better to start than with Rock IV, a film made up of several montages?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Over the Moon

Pearl Studios' Over the Moon feels very much like its first feature. As in Abominable, we're introduced to a young female Asian protagonist struggling with the loss of a parent who goes off on an adventure and learns an important lesson. While hitting many of the same emotional notes, Over the Moon isn't as successful or magical as Abominable. Our heroine this time is Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), struggling with his father's choice to remarry four years after the death of her mother (Ruthie Ann Miles). Using a child's logic, she decides if she can prove the truth of a the legend of the Chinese goddess of the Moon she can prevent the wedding.

Building her own rocket, because that's the kind of movie this is where a smart girl can build a rocket out of garbage to reach the moon, with her rabbit and stowaway brother-to-be (Robert G Chiu), Fei Fei reaches the moon where she encounters Chang'e (Phillipa Soo) who comes off more moody pop star than legendary figure living in a bright land filled with candied creatures on the moon. In helping to give Chang'e what she needs, Fei Fei discovers a lesson about love, loss, and life. The film features a number of songs, although those about loss and moon pies turn out far better than those about math.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Shaun the Sheep meets E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon when an alien lands outside of Mossingham. While it fails to reach the heights of 2015's Shaun the Sheep Movie, Farmageddon works as a all-ages adventure playing on themes of the series including the give-and-take between the mischievous sheep (Justin Fletcher) and the farm's sheepdog Bitzer (John Sparkes) as well as opening up world of Shaun the Sheep to a much wider and diverse universe.

As you would expect from a Shaun the Sheep feature, the stop-motion animation is top notch, and the story of Shaun getting into trouble with the lost Lu-La (Amalia Vitale) hits all the right emotional beats. Even the inclusion of a subplot involving an obsessed government agent (Kate Harbour) ends in warm feels. The film's title comes from the amusement park the Farmer (Sparkes) has the sheep construct to make money off the alien craze that pops-up around town following the first sighting. There are plenty of nods and Easter eggs to sci-fi fans (my favorites being both the use of the use of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind music and the cameo from The Doctor).

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

It's been 14 years since Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a success in the United States. Unfortunately for the Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), the movie did not do so well at home leading to trouble for the would-be documentarian who was imprisoned for bringing shame on his country. As the sequel opens, Borat is given a second chance to redeem his honor, and that of his country, by presenting a gift to Vice Premier, er... Vice President, Mike Pence.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Once and Future #12

The battle with monsters continue and bring forth an unexpected ally. After killing Beowulf and Grendel, Duncan and Bridgette square off against Grendel's mother who rips through the nursing home with monstrous glee.

Carmen Sandiego - The Haunted Bayou Caper

Carmen (Gina Rodriguez) trades in her fedora for a witch's hat when Team Red enters a charity gala which agents of V.I.L.E. hope to rob. "The Haunted Bayou Caper" recycles villains we've seen before, but it does introduce a new resource for V.I.L.E. in their own computer hacker the Troll (Osric Chau). Devineaux (Rafael Petardi) is also on hand, and, as always, one-step behind. Stealing from a charity is far less glamorous than most of V.I.L.E.'s haunts, but the locale of the spooky old house does offer some twists and secrets hidden in its secret passages.

Terminator: Dark Fate

The latest desperate attempt to breathe new life into the franchise is awkwardly inconsistent while pushing a laudable girl power message through a mine field of a plot that often blows up in the actors' faces. Knocking off John Connor in the pre-credit sequence (which apparently cures his mother's cancer?) creates a new timeline for Terminator: Dark Fate in which Skynet never rose but an almost identical artificial intelligence with time-travelling robots (lamely named Legion) comes to power. Set in the present, a Terminator (Gabriel Luna) and an enhanced soldier (Mackenzie Davis) are sent back in time. The target is a young woman (Natalia Reyes) who will grow to fill the void left by John's death.

Ignoring all events after T2, the new timeline allows for the return of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Skynet's final Terminator now passing for human. Although it earns points for removing Terminator Salvation from continuity, the brain-melting Dark Fate is inferior in every way to Rise of the Machines which remains the only Terminator movie that thought out the lasting ramifications of time travel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Darth Vader #6

With his search into the death of Padme Amidala concluded, and conflicted by the answers (or lack therof) he found, Darth Vader returns to Coruscant to find an the Emperor none too pleased with the self wallowing of his apprentice. Believing Vader has lost his edge, Palpatine instructs his disciple on the ways of the Dark Side of the Force.

DuckTales - Let's Get Dangerous!

With more than a few nods and winks to the original Darkwing Duck cartoon, the rebooted DuckTales brings back Drake Mallard (Chris Diamantopoulos) as Scrooge (David Tennant) and his nephews travel to St. Canard to check out the invention of Taurus Bulba (James Monroe Iglehart). As in "Darkly Dawns the Duck," Bulba wants to use the invention (this version pulls in matter from alternate dimensions) for his own fiendish plans. Standing in his way is the granddauther of Bulba's missing partner, Gosalyn Waddlemeyer (Stephanie Beatriz).

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday with Katharine Isabelle

Katharine Isabelle is a Canadian actress. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Usagi Yojimbo #13

Miyamoto Usagi and Kenichi's attempts to prevent the attack on the shogun's agent on his way to the city runs into complications as after alarm is raised quickly after dispatching a pair of guards and neither samurai have an opportunity to free the hostages. Mariko's journey to find help also runs into obstacles with soldiers blocking her path.

Is Michael Bay's Armageddon A Transformers Prequel?

Super Dinosaur - The Floor Door Shuffle

The night after returning from a mission with Derek (Valin Shinyei), Super Dinosaur (Mac Heywood) disappears. Waking up in one of the locations of their previous missions, SD then finds himself pulled through another floor door and then another, each taking him back to a location in the system's memory. While Derek hits the field to help with the trouble SD finds in each location, Dexter (Alessandro Juliani) and Erica (Shannon Chan-Kent) work on a solution before the stored locations run out and the malfunctioning floor door has nowhere left to send their friend. Although it doesn't offer clips from previous episodes, SD returning to various locations acts not unlike a clip show reminding viewers of previous episodes. The episode is also notable for allowing SD's stuffed animal Mr. Swimington to tag along for the ride and return to the running theme that penguins are jerks.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Double Dragon

Based on the video game series, Double Dragon offers the story of brothers Billy Lee (Scott Wolf) and Jimmy Lee (Mark Dacascos) living in a dystopian 2007 New Angeles who are tasked with preventing one hell of a goofy super-villain (Robert Patrick) from getting his hands on both halves of an ancient Chinese talisman. While neither the best nor worst movie based off a video game, Double Dragon is a fair example of just what kind of mixed results the genre is known for.

With a story by Paul Dini and Neal Shusterman, and a script by Michael Davis and Peter Gould, director James Yukich delivers... a mess. A glorious mess to be sure, that could not be any more 1990s if it tried. Double Dragon is a bad movie in many, many ways. However, it's certainly not boring. The film's go-for-broke attitude, bizarre setting, and offbeat storyline certainly make it a pop culture touchpoint of the time. With tongue firmly in cheek, the game's arcade console is used as a prop in the film and the script even calls attention to co-star Alyssa Milano's television fame. Double Dragon is a memorable, and at times even charming, clusterfuck.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday with Rolyat

Rolyat is a cosplayer. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also support her on Pateron.

Snake Eyes: Deadgame #2

Rob Liefeld's bizarre mini-series continues as Snake Eyes and Scarlett meet some more odd characters in the woods first in another large warrior who Snake Eyes faces off and then in a woman who claims to be his mentor and also works for the god Kirigun. Snake Eyes is apparently a warrior trained to offer sport to Kirigun during the "Deadgame." Um... yeah.

Carmen Sandiego - The Day of the Dead Caper

Carmen's (Gina Rodriguez) search for mother is put on pause when she runs across a promising young thief named Sonia (Jeannie Tirado) in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead who has caught the eye of a V.I.L.E. recruiter (Sylvia Villagran). Although Sonia is at first uninterested in traveling to any sort of school, both Carmen's abilities and her attempts to convince Sonia not to enlist have the opposite effect she intended. The Carmen/Sonia dynamic is fun for an episode, and Sonia is one character who I wouldn't mind seeing more of in the future. Eventually Sonia proves to be as much like Carmen as she hoped, both helping Carmen escape V.I.L.E. capture and choose a path of her own inspired by the woman in the red coat and fedora.

Red Sonja #20

After suffering yet another loss, Red Sonja has abandoned Hyrkania haunted by a lifetime of guilt, loss, and blood which lead her back to Shadizar. The city with ties to her past has a new king as Cyril, son of Dragan the Magnificient, has assumed the throne. However, Cyril isn't on hand to greet Sonja as he's taken the army to the Aquilonian border to conquer through a series of quick attacks that seem insignificant at first but show a wisdom, patience, and deviousness far older than his outward appearance suggests.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Lie

The Lie is a joyless exercise featuring Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos as a pair of divorced parents who decide to to work together to hide the fact that their daughter (Joey King) is responsible for the death of one of her friends (Devery Jacobs) during a contrived set-up in the film's tiresome first act.

The film features the parents making a series of bad decisions, including trying to throw suspicion on the missing girl's father (Cas Anvar) as the reason for her disappearance by painting him as a child abuser while forcing their daughter to echo the lies to the police. Sarsgaard and Enos do what they can, but there's not much here to work with, while King is stuck with a character the script can never properly come to terms with. Melodramatic as a tween with her first phone, events spiral out of control and even an absurd late twist can't save what is best forgotten.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Locke & Key - Crown of Shadows

I hadn't read the comic series Locke & Key was based on, and had no real epectations about the series going in. What I found was one of the most solid seasons of any Netflix original show and a welcome surprise that turned out to be far smarter than I would have guessed. The final episode of Locke & Key's First Season offers a glimpse behind the mysterious Black Door as Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and their friends fight to defeat Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) who has the Crown of Shadows. The episode makes good use of misdirection here before providing even more surprises in its final moments as that attempt to throw Dodge into the portal has unintended consequences none of the Lockes will become aware of until Season Two.

Star Wars Adventures #1

A new volume of the all-ages Star Wars title begins here. As with the previous volume, the first issues is divided into two stories. First up is the introductory chapter of "The Obstacle Course" set between the events of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Poe and Finn take Rey to the Outer Rim moon Noaxson where they have constructed an obstacle course to help with her Jedi training but ends up with her falling into a smugglers' den as her companions get held up by pirates. It's your basic something-goes-wrong tale which only gets started here.

Tuesday with Hendo Art

Hendo Art is a cosplayer from California. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also find more lewd content on Instagram and Twitter, and support her on Patreon and OnlyFans.

90s Femme Fatales Killed Everybody With Their Legs

Monday, October 12, 2020

Super Dinosaur - Out of Our Depth

"Out of Our Depth" brings the return of Squidious (Brian Drummond) who Minimus (Sean Thomas) overthrows by turning the Sharkmen against their leader. After being captured by Earthcore, Squidious agrees to help Derek (Valin Shinyei) and Super Dinosaur (Mac Heywood) to prevent Minimus from doing more harm to the world's oceans by using Dynore to transform the Lair Leviathan and punch through the ocean's crust to get to Inner Earth. That means the former adversary working with the pair and helping them enter the Lair Leviathan.

What are Midichlorians?

Young Justice #19

Young Justice #19 offers a Wonder Girl issue as Cassie's grandfather Zeus returns hoping to prompt her to accept the role required of her within the Pantheon and move away from her Earthly connections. Zeus appeared earlier in the series, laying the foundation for Cassie's conflict trying to balance her responsibilities on Earth as well as Olympus. This time around, she'll need to fight off mythic monsters and gods proving the comic's two action sequences.

How Season One of The Mandalorian Should Have Ended

The Boys - Proper Preparation and Planning

In an episode more notable for its creepy subplots, "Proper Preparation and Planning" does explain why the season premiere didn't fill us in on Butcher's (Karl Urban) discovery at the end of last season. Apparently, there was nothing to tell. He saw Becca (Shantel VanSanten) and her son before being whisked away by Homelander (Antony Starr) who has apparently agreed to let Butcher live if Becca gives the psychotic pseudo-hero access to his son. Becca's flight response is in overdrive, but she is trapped in the Vought compound by a company too scared to piss off Homelander by relocating her again. Becca isn't the only woman pressured by a super-powered dick in the episode as A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) returns to fuck with Starlight (Erin Moriarty), especially once he notices her working on something shady behind the scenes.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Black Widow #2

Something is obvious going on with Black Widow. Although she seems very happy in suburban bliss with a one year-old child and fiancé, Nat doesn't recognize Clint who gives up keeping an eye on her from the bushes with the Winter Soldier and attempts to gauge just what is going on. She doesn't appear to remember him, or her life as a spy or super-hero.

Far Sector #8

Sojourner Mullein has used the power of her ring to send herself into the digital realm of Atville in search of the cyber lifeforms known as @AT responsible for the hijacking biological lifeforms and the murder of Averrup Thorn. The Green Lantern's time in digital space doesn't last as long as I expected. In about half the issue, Mullein captures the @AT responsible but is no closer to who hired them.

Thursday with Keira

Alyson Tabbitha's Harley Quinn (Birds of Prey) Makeup Cosplay Tutorial

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Next - FILE #1

The opening episode of Next brings together FBI Agent Shea Salazar (Fernanda Andrade) and brilliant but disgraced tech billionaire Paul LeBlanc (John Slattery). She'd rather be finishing a case her team has worked on for the past year. He'd rather be doing almost anything else. However, the suspicious death of Salazar's mentor (John Billingsley) makes LeBlanc believe his former company has dusted off an Artificial Intelligence project he destroyed his reputation to keep under wraps. Branded as "Next," LeBlanc believes it took deadly action in attempts to keep its existence a secret.

Carmen Sandiego - The Luchadora Tango Caper

After months of laying low and falling off the radar of both V.I.L.E. and A.C.M.E., Carmen (Gina Rodriguez) reappears looking for clues to her mother's identity by breaking into her father's safety deposit box in Buenos Aires. Her search leads her to Veracruz, Mexico, where she encounters a female luchador with the right name (and fighting spirit) but no familial connection. After the destruction of their facility, V.I.L.E. has relocated to the highlands of Scotland. News of Carmen resurfacing pushes Coach Brunt (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) into the field - despite the objections of the others. Carmen also tangles with some of the academy's latest graduates in Spin Kick (Dante Basco) and Fly Trap (Sarah-Nicole Robles). The luchador angle adds some goofy wrestling fun to the premiere that otherwise isn't all that notable.

Utopia - Life Begins

The first episode of Utopia introduces us to an underground comic book that has become a bit of a cult classic to a small group. While some of comic's champions love the art and character, those aren't who this story is about. This story is about those that believe the comic hold some knowledge of the future, premonitions about the future, and predictions of death. Years after the comic disappeared the original artwork for the never released follow-up surfaces leading to trek to a local comic convention for our oddball group of intense fans Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges), Ian (Dan Byrd), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop), Samantha (Jessica Rothe), and Grant (Javon 'Wanna' Walton) who up until now have only met online. They aren't the only ones after the comic, along with other fans there are a pair of fixers (Christopher Denham and Michael B. Woods) out to retrieve the comic and remove any trace of it, and a woman who may or may not be the comic's main character (Sasha Lane).

Monday, October 5, 2020

First Debate Cold Open (SNL)

The Boys - The Big Ride

The first episode of the show's Second Season gets us caught up on some, although certainly not all, of the fallout from Season One. Vought throws a public funeral for Translucent under the narrative he was killed by super terrorists (helping bolster support for supes within the military). Noticeable by his absence, until the final minute of the episode, is Butcher (Karl Urban) leaving us to wonder about his recent family reunion and where he's been as the rest of the Boys have been hiding underground. Despite some mistrust issues, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) has agreed to help Hughie's (Jack Quaid) expose Vought, although he begins to have second thoughts given the group's recent run-in with the CIA. Hughie's refusal to be completely honest with with Annie doesn't go unremarked.

The first (and last) cat spy

Batman: The Adventures Continue #13

Jason Todd is done watching. First, he's abducted Tim Drake from the Batcave and hidden him away in a death trap. He's also had altercations with both Alfred and Leslie Tompkins before turning his attention on the Joker who he manages to ambush at the Penguin's club. Nearly all the pieces are in place for the Red Hood's end game.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Glorias

Adapted largely from Gloria Steinem's autobiography My Life on the Road, the latest from director Julie Taymor offers a look at the life and travels of Steinem through the performances of four different actresses. Following the film's initial look at Gloria's unorthodox childhood, where she is played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Lulu Wilson, Alicia Vikander then carries the role for the next hour exploring Gloria's travels and development both as a writer and activist before handing over the role to Julianne Moore for the film's final hour.

The structure of the film does allow the actresses to appear on-screen together at times as Gloria talks over decisions and regrets with both older and young versions of herself. This isn't the only unusual technique Traymor uses of the course of the film, but it is by far the most effective. Otherwise, The Glorias plays much like a standard biopic, albeit with several scenes shown out of order.

Given the times, especially following the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the film, and it's subject matter, is certainly timely.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Shang-Chi #1

The first issue of the new five-issue mini-series begins with a flashback featuring Zheng Zu and the Five Weapons Society providing some context to the group and to our title character, Shang-Chi. It also offers a far-too-short cameo by everyone's favorite walking talking dragon in purple underpants.

Hendo Art's How-To: Jean Genshin Impact Cosplay

Hendo Art is a cosplayer from California. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Vero, and Twitter. Check out her official store as well. You can also support her on Patreon.

Super Dinosaur - Storming the Castle

Dexter (Alessandro Juliani) takes in on himself to infiltrate Castle Maximus for clues to his missing wife, but when he runs into to trouble Derek (Valin Shinyei) and Super Dinosaur (Mac Heywood) show up to help out. "Storming the Castle" offers, by far, the most field time we've seen for Dexter's father so far in the series (while also alluding to a past of such adventures). However, Dexter is outsmarted by Max Maximus (Marco Soriano) who spikes the drive Derek and his father make off with an attempt to free his own father from Earthcore. The episode also features a backstory on Erica (Shannon Chan-Kent) attempting to discover more about the secret project her parents have been working on only to be surprised when it turns out to be a gift for her.