Friday, December 31, 2021

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Joel Coen's take on William Shakespeare's Macbeth is a stylish affair with minimal but visually stunning sets and striking cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel that boils down the five-act play to 105-minute black-and-white cinematic experience. The story is Shakespeare's, but Coen and Delbonnel's presentation sets a standard for Macbeth which will likely lead it into both homes and classrooms for decades to come.

Denzel Washington stars as the Scottish Lord and Frances McDormand his ambitious wife, convinced by a witchy prophecy (Kathryn Hunter) that Macbeth will become the next King of Scotland. What follows is one of the most famous tragedies in literature which Coen takes care to pare down while still keeping to both the text and texture of Shakespeare's work. It's a terrific play presented by a talented group both behind and in front of the camera leading to one of the best films of the year.


House of Gucci

House of Gucci is one of the sillier movies of 2021. Taken from true events of the Gucci family, with some obvious embellishment for effect by screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, it struggles when it needs its more dramatic moments to hit home. With a tone more to parody winking at the camera, and characters who feel ratcheted up to 11, we're left with an amusing, but largely empty, experience.

The film follows the ups and downs of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) after their marriage. We witness how their relationship changes both of them as the reluctant member of the Gucci family is drawn back into the family business. If there's a point to director Ridley Scott's film it might be that despite their troubles and the eventual misery they caused each other, Patrizia and Maurizio appear to have been made for each other.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Human Target #3

I can't say enough about how much I am loving this comic that continues to mix a dying detective's noir search for his own killer with just the right notes of Justice League International nostalgia. The Human Target #3 not only gives us Guy Gardner, who shows up to throw a hissy fit after discovering Ice is spending time with Christopher Chance, but also more of Ice and Chance together, and Chance talking to another former JLI member in full self-promotion mode.

We get Booster Gold in almost all his glory (sadly, no Elvis collar) along with Gardner, and Ice are all put to great use here. The cherry on top here is an unexpected final cameo of the one person who could get Guy to back off which. Aside for being a pitch perfect nod to the comic history Tom King is playing in, it further illustrates how smart and innovative Chance is, even if he remains far from finding his killer.

No Sudden Move

Director Steven Soderbergh brings together an ensemble cast for 50s crime thriller and heist gone wrong. Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro star as two members of a criminal trio, along with Kieran Culkin, hired to hold the family of an accountant (David Harbour) hostage while forcing him to steal propriety information from his company's office. After a number of double-crosses and mistakes, the pair must figure out a way to work together to make something out of a bad situation.

No Sudden Move features a number of characters, from the middle man who hired the thugs (Brendan Fraser) to the accountant's mistress (Julia Fox), to a police detective (Jon Hamm) investigating the crime, to a local gangster (Ray Liotta) neither of our protagonists trust, who will all work themselves into an important moment of the film's overall plot.

The Story of He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Alex Rider - Threats

"Threats" works to set up the final three episodes of the series. Reunited with Kyra (Marli Siu), Alex (Otto Farrant) enlists the help of the hacker to make sense of what is hidden on the advanced copy of the video game he was able to steal from Damian Cray (Toby Stephens). Unfortunately, for any real answers, she'll need to return the game back to where it was created. Confirming that our teen spy is on his own, Blunt (Stephen Dillane) calls Alex in and orders him to stop everything he's doing. Which, we know, isn't something Alex Rider will agree to.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Survivor Series 2021

One of WWE's longest running PPV events, the 2021 edition of the Survivor Series included only a two traditional Survivor Series elimination matches, both won by Team Raw for "brand supremacy." One of the challenges with the concept, is you end up with series of standalone matches that didn't fit into existing storylines on either show for a one-night brand vs. brand event. While the structure of the elimination tag forcing enemies to work together for one night allows for some different stories, if you don't have those kind of matches the night falls mostly flat.

The entire event was overshadowed by a celebration of The Rock, who doesn't even show up despite the glut of video packages and mentions, and a bizarre tie-in to the former Superstar's new movie on Netflix involving the theft of a golden egg backstage. There's also a soul-crushingly long Battle Royale putting over the least athletic Superstar on the roster while honoring The Rock... and was also promoted by Pizza Hut? God help us. 

Leverage: Redemption - The Hurricane Job

Stranded at an island inn during storm, which has been taken over by a group of dirty cops searching for a cell phone, Eliot (Christian Kane) and Parker (Beth Riesgraf) need to work with Maria (Andrea Navedo) to uncover the truth of what the cops are really after, find it first, and save the hotel employees. Cut off from any support, in the middle of a hurricane, it doesn't take the trio long to find a rhythm (and even soften Parker's stance on Eliot's new girlfriend) during scenes of characters getting rained on non-stop whenever one steps outside of the inn. Sophie (Gina Bellman) and Harry (Noah Wyle) provide back-up via a ham radio, with the later also making a save at a local hospital with a few nods to Wyle's previous role on ER.

Wednesday with Tegan Nox

Moon Knight #6

Marc Spector has been betrayed and left beaten and bloody by Zodiac. The Midnight Mission is in shambles. However, back-up arrives from an unexpected source in his "brother," the other Fist of Khonshu, Hunter's Moon. Much of the issue takes place after the rescue of Hunter's Moon allowing Moon Knight time to heal and the new friend to explain a bit about his backstory.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Cleopatra in Space - My Pharaoh Lady

"My Pharaoh Lady" brings back Pharaoh Yosira (Kari Wahlgren) who needs to oversee delicate talks attempting to bring to separate alien races into the fight against Octavian. But when in intelligence suggests someone at the summit is already working for Octavian, Cleopatra (Lilimar) takes her place going in undercover as Yosira in hopes of discovering the traitor before it's too late. There's some fun Cleo in over-her-head moments here, and Yosira rubbing off on the the impulsive time-traveler. The unexpected piece of the episode involves Cleo rubbing off on the Pharaoh as Yosira discovers she quite likes Cleo's more adventures lifestyle. 

Noir Burlesque #1

Enrico Marini's Noir Burlesque #1 begins a noir tale set around a local mob boss, a returning solider turned professional thug with a debt to pay, and the beautiful dancer who will come between them. Marini's first issue gets the tone of the genre with Slick being a bit too rough for his own good getting into trouble with Rex and his former love Caprice who is now married to the mob boss he owes money to.

Cry Macho

Clint Eastwood, who also directs, stars as an old cowboy sent to find the son (Eduardo Minett) of a rancher (Dwight Yoakam) in Mexico and bring him to the United States. Cry Macho is a slow-paced stalled road trip movie with Mike (Eastwood) and Rafo (Minett) getting stuck in a Mexican town for most of the film while hiding from authorities and the boy's mother (Fernanda Urrejola) who doesn't want him to leave Mexico.

Knocking around Hollywood for the better part of 50 years, the script offers some minimal commentary on machismo while the title of the movie comes from Rafo's prize cock-fighting rooster.

The story unfolds as expected with no stand-out scenes or surprises. Of course, Mike keeps a secret from Rafo leading to inevitable conflict in the final act before Cry Macho eventually limps to the finish line. It's not a bad film, but there's little of interest other than some nice cinematography of Mexico.

This is COMiCPALOOZA 2021 Best Cosplay Music Video

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

We get the rise and fall of Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) in this examination of the televangelist couple. While recreating moments of the pair's life, there's no real point or perspective offered to the events. The Eyes of Tammy Faye isn't a character study. It isn't commentary of events. Nor is it a satire.

The film is simply a shallow collection of events that never digs beneath the surface to provide anything of much interest. While we see the odd pair begin their their time as televangelists, the movie isn't concerned with the rise of the PTL Satellite Network nor the good or ills of the The PTL Club, nor really the fall of grace of the Bakker's which makes up only a small percentage of the film.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #124

Christmas comes for the Turtles in the form of a silent issue without narration or dialogue. Playing on recent events, we see various members of the Splinter Clan searching in vain for the missing weasels . The first Christmas without Splinter is also felt by the brothers who still don't know about the new face hiding in the shadows as Oroku Saki finds Old Hob and the weasels, and lets the Turtles know through and anonymous message that they are safe finally allowing for a low-key Christmas.

Legacies - I Can't Be the One to Stop You

Working as the show's mid-season finale, "I Can't Be the One to Stop You" plays on subverting expectations as Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) catches up to not-Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) who is actually Aurora de Martel (Rebecca Breeds) walking around in Hope's body and we're teased with a team-up between the two prior to Lizzie helping Hope get back her body. However, what she earns for her trouble is a broken neck (although not apparently a lasting death). Despite a tease that Hope's humanity had returned, our tribrid remains an emotionless killer who now has an undead friend to deal with (along with a crazy vampire still plotting revenge).

Friday, December 24, 2021

Licorice Pizza

During the 70s in San Fernando Valley a 15-year-old child actor will meet a 25-year-old photographer's assistant on his yearbook picture day and nothing will ever be the same. Licorice Pizza offers the unlikely pairing of the charming hustler Gary (Cooper Hoffman) and the smart but somewhat lost Alana (Alana Haim) who begin as friends, become something more complicated, and then eventually give into their feelings for each other.

Other characters will come and go, including Bradley Cooper offering an insane take on John Peters in one of my favorite performances of the year, but the movie is about our leads' (often dysfunctional) relationship. The film takes several unexpected turns including Cooper's introduction, Gary being momentarily arrested, Alana looking for a more meaningful life working on the mayoral campaign of Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie), and Gary's various enterprises which include a waterbed company and arcade.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

American Underdog

Adapted from Kurt Warner's autobiography, American Underdog follows the unlikely journey of small-time college quarterback Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) from college, to being completely out of football stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee, and ultimately to the NFL. Much of the film focuses on Warner's personal life, his relationship with Brenda Meoni (Anna Paquin) and her children, and his struggles in finding life after football.

The film from directors Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin is attempting to cash-in on a tale similar to Invincible and The Rookie. However, both of those films were produced by Disney who has a better feel for the genre. While it may not measure up to either of those two films, American Underdog is still an interesting look at the lesser-known aspects of Warner's life although it skirts over his professional relationships in the NFL with everyone except his coaches. 

The Matrix (Zombie) Resurrections

What a piece of shit. I'm pretty sure The Matrix Resurrections exists solely to shut-up people who thought it was impossible to make a Matrix film worse than The Matrix Revolutions. Well, there's no argument now. Holy fuck, this movie is awful while constantly preening at the camera (often in bad makeup) smugly thinking it's the shit by repackaging fan fiction takes on The Matrix as original content.

The reimagining/sequel brings back Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, along with a few other familiar faces, while recasting other key roles, relying completely on nostalgia and emotion for the original film (often restaging or simply replaying  scenes), and blending that all together in a mishmash of half-baked ideas that ignores as much about the original films and characters as it uses when it suits the film's purposes.

Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #5

Three more tales of Red Sonja are captured here by various writers and artists. Each story from Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #5 has a common theme of Sonja being either the hunter or the hunted.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Hand of God

Filippo Scotti stars as the aimless Fabietto in 80s Naples in this coming of age story from Paolo Sorrentino. We're introduced to Fabietto's extended dysfunctional family including his womanizing father (Toni Servillo), prankster mother (Teresa Saponangelo), older brother with dreams of becoming an actor (Marlon Joubert), and lascivious aunt (Luisa Ranieri). The film is beautifully shot by Daria D'Antonio framing our stumbling protagonist disconnected from the world long before tragedy strikes upending his life even more.

Sorrentino doesn't seem to have a destination for Fabietto in mind. Although he grows over the course of the film taking interest in more than football, it's hard to tell how much he's actually learned. The untethered protagonist means the film seems aimless as well, even if that's the point as Fabietto finally discovers he can no longer allow life to pass him by and must start making hard choices.

The Amazing Spider-Man #81

Despite what the cover suggests, this isn't a Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man comic although it does feature the first meeting of Ben Reilly and Miles Morales (at least with both of them wearing Spidey costumes) who the Beyond Corporation wants their corporate hero's help in stopping him from using the name Spider-Man.

WWE Wednesday with Alexa Bliss

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The History of Voltron: Defender of the Universe

MacGruber - A Good Day to Die

Originally conceived as a series of sketches for Saturday Night Live, the MacGyver-inspired spoof MacGruber eventually became a feature film in 2010 which was quickly forgotten by all but its most die-hard fans. Now MacGruber is back with a new series on Peacock. Picking up years later, MacGruber (Will Forte) has spent a decade in prison but is released for a suicide mission to exchange for the President's kidnapped daughter which he'll eventually get around to after stopping in to see a few familiar faces.

The Novice

This character study from writer/director Lauren Hadaway introduces us to obsessive-compulsive college freshman Alex Dall (Isabelle Fuhrman) who joins the university's rowing team. With goals to make varsity, despite having no experience in the sport, Alex throws herself fully into the project in much the same way she decided to make her weakest subject her college major and overcome what she sees as a shortcoming.

The Novice examines a side normally not highlighted in sports films. While Alex is consumed with winning, the movie is not about her heroic struggle over the odds. Instead, The Novice examines compulsion, fixation, obsession, and the winning at all costs attitude that can be destructive not just in the sport but throughout a person's life. Alex is often offered help, much of it ignored, as she seems predestined towards proving she will either succeed or fail on her own.

The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #9

The recently salvaged pirate ship of Captain Black Jack Paddywhack which was shipwrecked in 1764 along with a treasure map to the pirate's stash of gold brings out Mystery, Inc., various treasure hunters, and the Riddler. Oh, the ghost of Black Jack Paddywhack shows up as well to scare off all but the most determined of the treasure hunters, forcing Scooby and the gang to team with the villain to try and find the treasure and solve the mystery by deciphering a list of clues and riddles.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Nightmare Alley

Adapting the 1946 novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley is more about con men than monsters (which is usually writer/director Guillermo del Toro's wheelhouse). The film is split into two halves, the first involving a man running from his past joining a carnival and learning secrets to start his own clairvoyance act. The second, takes place a couple of years later with Stanton (Bradley Cooper) and his wife (Rooney Mara) putting his skills to use in higher-class surroundings by taking advantage of more wealthy marks.

Think of Nightmare Alley as Guillermo del Toro's attempt at a David Mamet movie filled with con men and grifters, murderers and thieves, all out for their own interests, with plenty of twists and double-crosses thrown in for good measure. The result, more from the limitations of the source material than his direction, are a bit mixed.

The Flash - Armageddon, Part 4 & Part 5

The final two episodes of "Armageddon" deal with the real villain of the arc which, to no one's surprise, is revealed to be Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh). In "Part 4," Barry (Grant Gustin) finds himself trapped in a timeline where he is the Reverse-Flash and Thawne has stolen his life. "Part 5" involve deciding what to do with the villain after time is rest by the Flash destroying the Earth in one timeline, thus confirming Despero's (Tony Curran) vision of the future.


Found, the documentary from Amanda Lipitz, introduces us to three American teenagers born in China, given up for adoption, and raised in the United States. Finding each other after genetic testing at 23andMe, which links them all as blood-related cousins, the three young woman connect with each other first visually and then in person when they travel to China in hopes of finding answers about their family history.

The documentary plays on themes of connection, discovery, friendship and family as we get to know a little of each of the three girls separately before putting them together on their journey to China. While the three girls aren't the only ones Lipitz followed for the documentary, their combined story allows the director to capture their shared, but still deeply personal, journey as the search for answers (even if the film occasionally plays on the timing of revelations for a more cinematic experience).

Alex Rider - Serpent

In order to follow the lead given him by the mysterious hacker, Alex (Otto Farrant) takes the place of the world's best players of the Feathered Serpent video game, the only one of the world's best players who hasn't RSVP'd for  Damian Cray's (Toby Stephens) release party of the sequel. What Alex doesn't realize is just how crazy Cray is and whose identity he's assuming (which turns out to be that of an old friend). The episode is most notable for Alex playing the game in VR environment with the madman constantly raising the stakes and danger as the cocky teenager continues to out-perform his expectations. While somewhat goofy on-screen, the segment works and allows Alex to get close enough for what he's come for.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Because there's so little plot in Spider-Man: No Way Home it's hard to discuss the film without revealing its many secrets. What writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers tee-up for fans is a loose structure that allows for the film to throw everything but the kitchen sink, with an almost overwhelming amount fan service (admittedly pretty good fan service), into a single film. While it doesn't measure up to the film that obviously inspired it, Spider-Man: No Way Home turns out to be a pretty fun ride. 

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is fucked, and his friends (Zendaya and Jacob Batalon) are paying for his mistakes. In classic Spider-Man fashion, Peter's attempts to rectify that situation caused by Mysterio revealing his identity to the world only make it worse. After finding a wizard and loophole to set things right, Peter's interruption of  Doctor Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) spell to prevent anyone in the world from remembering he is Spider-Man backfires opening up cracks to the Multiverse allowing anyone who knows Peter Parker is Spider-Man from any other reality to bleed through. Let the chaos begin.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Hit-Monkey - The Code

Things get a little crazy in "The Code," and that's say something for a show that was already about a murderous monkey in a suit haunted by the ghost of an assassin. The weakest of the episodes so far, but still a wacky ride (that may or may not require a tetanus shot after you finish), it certainly provides no end of violence as Hit-Monkey and his ghost travel down into the bowels of Sugano prison where even the guards don't go, in search of the Accountant who has been running a bizarre world. The episode is notable for the monkey giving in to violence more and more and taking down Fat Cobra in the Accountant's underground Fight Club. 

The Harder They Fall

Although fictional, writer/director Jeymes Samuel's film is inspired by real outlaws, cowboys, and lawmen of color from the Wild West. The primary character of The Harder They Fall is Nat Love (Jonathan Majors). Tormented as a boy by outlaw Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), Love has grown into an outlaw who hunts and kills other outlaws while still seeking revenge for the massacre of his family.

With Majors and Elba, Samuel has the two pillars he needs to make the film work while surrounding each man with an assortment of strong characters played by the likes of Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, and Delroy Lindo. When circumstances allow the Buck Gang to free their leader, Rufus Buck returns to the western town of Redwood. This puts Nat Love, and his friends, and Rufus Buck, and his gang, on a collision course for an extended shoot-out on the Main Street of Redwood.

Suicide Squad #10

The Suicide Squad's space mission comes to an end after a battle with Thanagarians, getting captured by Sojourner Mullein, and getting locked up in exactly the prison where Waller knew they would be taken. Making their way back to Earth with the package Waller wanted the issue ends setting up the confrontation between Waller's squad and that of Rick Flag. May the best squad win.

AEW Wednesday with Anna Jay

Anna Jay is a professional wrestler for AEW (All Elite Wrestling). You can follow her on Instagram.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Not all that dissimilar to The Croods, the odd The Mitchells vs. the Machines gives us a dysfunctional family with a young son and teenage daughter feeling too controlled by her family. The Mitchells also end up on the run, although the circumstances are, to be fair, far more bizarre.

Just days before Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is about to enter college, her well-meaning but overbearing father (Danny McBride) cancels her flight and plans a cross-country road trip hoping to bring the family closer together before she leaves. What the Mitchells couldn't realize is after starting out on their trip the world's biggest tech company would have their AI go berserk and begin the robot apocalypse. Now, while still dealing with their own drama, the Mitchells will attempt to save the world.

Legacies - You Will Remember Me

Hope's (Danielle Rose Russell) mission to take down the Triad heats up before the episode, and the season, takes an unexpected turn. After eliminating both the witch and werewolf factions, Hope runs into trouble during her confrontation with the re-introduction of The Originals character Aurora de Martel (Rebecca Breeds) who is still holing animosity to Klaus and his entire family. In a season where Hope has become the potential new big bad, Aurora brings back the idea of The Originals body-swap to give her control of Hope's nearly indestructible body.

Devil's Reign #1

Wilson Fisk has declared war on super-heroes. The new mini-series cross-over event gives us a pissed off former Kingpin taking on Daredevil and anyone else he can inflict harm upon as a means of revenge against the guardian of Hell's Kitchen who he knows, but can't prove, has messed with his mind. Using super-villains as agents of the law, the Mayor of New York is targeting heroes including Daredevil, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, other Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and others. 

The idea of villains using politics to attack heroes isn't a new one (most notably with DC's Lex Luthor becoming President). By the end of the issue, Fisk has the heroes on the run as even to help pull New Yorkers out of burning buildings makes them a target for Fisk's goon squad. The team's solution... Tony Stark for Mayor? Um, okay?

Silent Night

At the end of the world, we come together and celebrate with those we love. That's the basic idea behind the dark comedy Silent Night which sees old friends reunite for Christmas as the whole world is slowly being enveloped in a deadly gas cloud. Governments have given up and have provided suicide pills for their citizens, to avoid the more painful death brought on by the gas (which, if the children are to believed, may either be caused by environmental factors or the Russians).

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Big Leap - We Make Our Own Light

The Big Leap closes out the season with the long-awaited performance of Swan Lake, which despite the obstacles and drama (and some of the cast falling through a trap door on stage and getting lost during the live performance) comes off well. The finale plants several seeds to cultivate if the show would be renewed for a second season (cluing us in on which characters would likely come back). The Big Leap worked better than expected telling a self-contained story involves several characters who likely couldn't be brought back including Piper Perabo who turns out to be the beating heart of the second-half of the season. I think anything more would offer only diminishing returns. That said, the season (and perhaps the series) goes out in style.


Agnes is an odd film. Actually, it's two odd films strung together loosely by a single thread, neither of which leaves the audience with any kind of resolution (although one could argue that's the point of the second storyline). In some ways it's the most frustrating film of 2021 as so much is wasted on a bi-polar tale that at times seems as lost as the nuns themselves.

The first-half of the film is a delightful exorcism plot of a priest (Ben Hall) who is facing damning charges of inappropriate behavior with children, but also with experience in the act of exorcism, but who doesn't really believe in the rights or demons, and a neophyte (Jake Horowitz) who has not yet taken his vows, sent to a nunnery where Sister Agnes (Hayley McFarland) has shown signs of possession. We also get a defrocked priest (Chris Browning) turned sleazy celebrity for his work in the field, added to the mix when our overwhelmed priest turns to him for help.

Batman #118

After stopping a few of his foes from crashing a Bat-Villain themed party for the Billionaire's Ball, Batman heads overseas where a number of Batman, Inc. heroes have been arrest for the murder of a super-villain called Abyss, a murder Batman believes they committed. The question is why?

NCIS: Hawai'i - Impostor

Taking place in Hawaii, it only makes since that NCIS: Hawai'i would eventual get around to a Pearl Harbor episode. "Impostor" offers some nice twists as the body of a sailor killed in the 40s is found leading to questions about the true identity of the retired soldier who has been living under his name for more than seven decades. The fact that the war hero has massive local support and is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease makes the cold case even tougher for Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) and her team.  The B-story also showcases Lucy (Yasmine Al-Bustami) attempting to make more of an effort in her relationship with Whistler (Tori Anderson) while also touching lightly on Tennant struggling to talk to her daughter about racism.

Friday, December 10, 2021

West Side Story

It's been 60 years since Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise gave us their award-winning adaptation of Robbins' stage musical West Side Story. That's a long time to wait for a remake. Enter Steven Spielberg to create a new version which may last for the next 60 years in a throwback musical that should delight both old and new fans.

Choosing to keep to the play's original timeline, the opening feels a bit dated, but that is quickly excused for the vibrant spectacle Spielberg offers complete with large-scale song and dance numbers. The director also gives us a talented cast that avoids the whitewashing of Maria from 60s film by casting Rachel Zegler in the role who, along with Ariana DeBose as Anita, are the movie's real stand-outs. The only casting I question is Ansel Elgort in the role of Tony who looks like a lumbering catalog model completely out of place compared to the rougher characters making up the competing gangs of the Sharks and the Jets.

Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos is aptly named as even though a large portion of the movie takes place on the set of I Love Lucy the film is really about the relationship between real-life husband and wife Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) and Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman). While neither of the actors much resemble who they are playing, and Kidman's look for the movie more closely resembles bad BOTOX than Lucille Ball at times, there's an interesting story here which is helped by the witty dialogue and pace of writer/director Aaron Sorkin's script.

The best aspect of the film is it showcasing how Lucille Ball fought for everything (and against everyone) to try and make the best show possible, which is the only place her marriage really worked. As if the show and her husband's womanizing weren't taxing enough. Ball also faces charges of being a Communist during the height of McCarthyism that threaten both her career and the future of the show.


Encanto introduces us to the magical Family Madrigal, living together in a magical house in a small town in a hidden valley from the dangers of the outside world. When reaching the appropriate age, each child of the family is gifted with a special power. That is, each member of the family except our main character Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). 

More notable for its cultural perspective and its eclectic characters than its plot, Encanto struggles a bit early finding its rhythm before picking up momentum, both in story and in the strength of the songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Mirabel attempts to save the family from a threat no one else sees. It's a solid film, whose final act outshines the rest of the movie and (in typical Disney fashion) offers a nice moral for kids who are obviously the target audience for the film.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Supergirl - Kara

After six seasons Supergirl comes to an end. "Kara" is a bit of an odd finale with three separate stories to tell. The first, taking up the first 20 minutes of the episodes, involves Kara and her friends rallying the people of and the world to help fight Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) and Nyxly (Peta Sergeant) and end their destruction in your basic big heroic speeches and action scenes the show has become known for. The middle section involves the wedding of Alex (Olivia Nikkanen) and Kelly (Azie Tesfai). And the last involves looking forward at the future of Kara post-Supergirl.

The Human Target #2

The Human Target continues to surprise as the second issue introduces the dying Christopher Chance to the Justice League International's Ice in something of a femme fatale role who charms Chance into spending the day with her (using up one of his 11 remaining) while offering her help on the case and attempting to convince him that her best friend, despite strong motives, isn't responsible for the attempt on Lex Luthor's life.

Werewolves Within

Through the eyes of its newest resident, demoted but cheery Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson), we're introduced to the odd mountain town of Beaverfield. Part horror, part comedy, and part whodunnit, Werewolves Within throws the likable Finn into the odd setting in which any member of the town might be a werewolf. Now can he find the wolf before it kills them or before the town full of lunatics kills each other?

Adapted from the video game of the same name by screenwriter Mishna Wolff and director Josh Ruben, Werewolves Within offers an enjoyable romp with a number of oddball locals played by the likes of George Basil, Sarah Burns, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall, Rebecca Henderson, Glenn Fleshler, and Milana Vayntrub as the town's only mail carrier.

Alex Rider - Mirror

Alex (Otto Farrant) gets the attention of the hacker Smoking Mirror (Tom Mothersdale) who he unwittingly helped escape from Department of Special Operations. The hacker arranges a meet with the boy, leaving the security of his hacker collective not aware has already been compromised as Gregorvich (Thomas Levin) is hot on his trail. Smoking Mirror mistakenly believes Alex can bring him in, not aware he's on the outs with the Department, but Gregorvich shows up and kills him, and nearly kills Alex as well until he recognizes him.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Once and Future #22

Now the enemies of not one but two resurrected King Arthurs, our intrepid heroes Duncan, Bridgette, and Rose race to the secret armory of William Shakespeare (yeah, you read that right, THAT William Shakespeare) while being chased by Yvain and his giant fire-breathing lion (which turns out to be just as cool as it sounds, even if there's no big payoff to his appearance) while the Grail Castle is attacked by a giant. Thankfully, Bridgette has plans to cover both situations. Unfortunately, neither are necessarily good plans.