Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Black Cat #5

Two series worth of heists (and Marvel's ridiculous need to reboot and restart numbering comics arbitrarily) has led us here. Over 17 issues, when not distracted by the world being attacked by some weird symbiotic entity, Black Cat has carefully chosen specific targets within the super-hero community to aquire the tools necessary to rob Odessa Drake and the New York branch of the Thieves Guild. However, it seems her mentor the Black Fox hasn't told her everything about his plans.

Suicide Squad #2

Suicide Squad #2 wraps up the opening two-part story "Assault on Arkham" as the Squad struggles to get out of Arkham Asylum with Talon. Although the mission is a success, not all the members make it back as the Squad drops two members to pick up one.

Scarlet Witch Cosplay by Darth Lexii

Darth Lexii is a cosplayer. You can follow her on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

MacGyver - H20 + Orthophosphates + Mission City + Corrosion + Origins

The penultimate episode of the MacGyver reboot introduces Ernie Hudson and Wendy Raquel Robinson as Bowser's parents when Bowser (Justin Hires), MacGyver (Lucas Till) and Desi (Levy Tran) return home to deal with a death in the family. The episode fills in a bit of Mac's past, revealing where he learned to to first apply problem solving to criminal cases, as well as clue-in Bowser's parents on what he really does for a living as the group uncovers the death of a family friend was actually murder to hide local water pollution. The episode's B-story continues the threads of the nanobots as Riley (Tristin Mays) snoops around the company that built them with the help of her hacker collective. With only a single episode remaining, it seems obvious where the focus of the series finale will be.

Far Sector #11

The City Enduring has exploded into chaos and with only 20% of her ring's power remaining Sojourner Mullein is called into action to save the day. Denied their ability to vote, the @ are rebelling. Councilman Marth has staged a coup. And @BlazeofGlory has usurped power from the usurpers and is attempting to gain control of the city. Oh, there are also the bombs placed around the city by the Council to prevent something like this from happening, which have no started to go off, and the fleet of warships that just showed up. It's been kind of a day.

Cleopatra in Space - Surprise!

The second episode of the series, "Surprise!" serves two purposes. The first is to introduce audiences to P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. and the second is to get Cleopatra (Lilimar) more comfortable with her futuristic surroundings ending with a surprise birthday party for Cleo by Akila (Katie Crown) and Brian (Jorge Diaz). The episode introduces several new characters including the rebellious Zaid Antonius (Xolo Maridueña), the rival Callie (Kari Wahlgren), and fellow students Dennis (Dee Bradley Baker) and E'Geke-Ek'Gek (Alex Cazares). Although Cleo feels lost for most of the episode (in part by Akila's surprise party plans), things end well for the time-displaced princess who takes down another assassin at her party, makes some new friends, and gets a new toy in the Sphinx Anti-Gravity Bike.

The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #1

Collecting the first two digital issues of the new The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries, The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #1 brings Mystery, Inc. to Gotham City to help Batman with a mystery of who stole the gloves off his first costume from a museum exhibit. While Fred and Daphne look for clues in the present, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, and Velma travel into the past (something which draws the attention of the younger version of Batman).

Monday, April 19, 2021

Punky Brewster - Pilot

Soleil Moon Frye returns to reprise her childhood role of Punky Brewster. Punky is all grown up, fresh off a divorce to a musician (Freddie Prinze Jr.), with a high school daughter (Lauren Lindsey Donzis) and two adopted sons (Noah Cottrell and Oliver De Los Santos). Her old friend Cherie (Cherie Johnson) works to place foster children in permanent homes which leads to the introduction of the precocious young Izzy (Quinn Copeland) who by the end of the episode becomes the newest member of the Brewster household. The reboot is typical sitcom family humor, relying more than a little on nostalgia, with an emphasis on promoting adoption, foster care, diverse families, and letting kids be themselves. Its heart is certainly in the right place, but this version of Punky Brewster could use a little help to get through its growing pains.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow with Jean Watts

Jean Watts is an American singer, actress, and dancer. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Also check out her official site.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Truth

"Truth" picks up immediately after the previous episode with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) chasing down the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell). For show that has been about moments rather than consistently good storytelling, the episode delivers with a strong action sequence that (along with a scene or two later in the episode) effectively ends John Walker's tenure as Captain America. While some may be wowed by the action scene which opens "Truth," it's the half-hour which follows where the series actually deals various issues it raised in previous episodes (and then promptly ran away to the next action scene). The big turn to end "The Whole World is Watching" no doubt had more people talking about the series, but it's here The Falcon and the Winter Soldier puts in the work on character development and storytelling.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Kung Fu - Silence

"Silence" feels like the show setting up the template for the remainder of its First Season. Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) struggles with trying to fit back in with her family while helping someone in need, with an assist from an old boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse), and relying heavily on Henry (Eddie Liu) to search for Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman). Nicky also struggles with finding the peace to properly deal with the loss of her life in China and the death of her mentor. The client of the week is a mother and daughter with an abusive boyfriend (Link Baker) who has been stealing from them to fuel his gambling habit. A visit from Nicky, first in their home and then later in an underground casino where she takes back the last of the family's savings, help put the matter to rest (and also make others aware of Nicky's talents). As for Zhilan, she makes an appearance in the epilogue as the race for the other mystical weapons has begun.

Batman Adventures: Riddle Me This

The Batman Adventures: Riddle Me This trade paperback collects five Riddler-themed stories from comics inspired by Batman: The Animated Series (which is a bit funny given the character appeared so few times on the show compared to other top-tier Bat-villains). This of course means plenty of riddles and misdirects (some of which work better than others). The best story turns out to be the last of the collection when a reformed Riddler grows bored and attempts to publicly engage the Batman in "Poker Face" from Batman Adventures #11. The reformed villains shenanigans not only tick off the Dark Knight Detective but also Mayor Penguin who frustratingly can't find anything to charge Nygma with as Riddler isn't breaking any laws.

The Flash - Growing Pains

When a murder points to the work of Frost (Danielle Panabaker), and gets Caitlin arrested (hey, someone finally noticed they look exactly alike!), Team Flash works to try and clear their friend's name. While evidence allows for Kristen Kramer (Carmen Moore) to make some questionable calls, the episode certainly suggests she has a personal stake in bringing Frost to justice (or somethng more permanent?). The reveal of Chillblaine (Jon Cor) being behind the frame is a bit of a letdown, although the earlier sequence between the bartender and Frost provides one of the funnier scenes of the episode. Frost, although cleared of the murder, will still have to answer for her crimes and in doing so perhaps we'll learn about Kramer's interest in the frosty metahuman.

Friday with Kimberley Garner

Kimberley Garner is an English swimwear designer and celebrity. You can follow her on Instagram.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Supergirl - Phantom Menaces

Emotion drives most of the stories of "Phantom Menaces" with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) trapped in the Phantom Zone leaving her friends to soldier on and deal with her loss. Not suprisingly, Alex (Chyler Leigh) is hit hardest by the team's inability to rescue Kara while J'onn (David Harewood) attempts to bury his emotions and throw himself into his work finding the phantom that escaped as it looks to breed through humanity creating a new army of phantoms. Meanwhile, Lena's (Katie McGrath) and Brainy (Jesse Rath) help each other work through the frustration of Lex Luthor's (Jon Cryer) win and attempts to get back to business in a plot thread that works to build on the redemption arc of both characters and push Lena into a new role on the series other than her brother's keeper. McGrath continues to be the season's stand-out.

Green Lantern #1

A new volume of Green Lantern opens with Oa hosting a gathering of the United Planets Conclave with representatives from all over the universe. With the fate of the Green Lantern Corps and their role in the universe at stake, most Lanterns have been recalled to Oa under the leadership of John Stewart to keep the peace. Of course, something goes wrong.

Home #1

With all the other awful and incompetent aspects of Donald Trump's presidency some may have forgotten the zero tolerance policy towards immigration that separated parents from children under brutal circumstances with lasting effects (hundreds have still yet to be reunited with their families). This provides the backdrop for the first issue of Home in which writer and Julio Anta and artist Anna Wieszczyk take an unflinching look through the eyes of Mercedes Gomez and her son Juan who attempt to enter the United States legally under refuge status only find the harsh reality of the "Icebox" facility far different than the promise of safety.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Cleopatra in Space - Wednesday

Based off Mike Maihack's comic series, the first episode of Cleopatra in Space introduces us the Egyptian princess Cleopatra (Lilimar) who gets sucked through a time portal and finds herself 30,000 years in the future. "Wednesday" offers a solid opener with the introduction of Cleopatra as the rambunctious and fearless teen heroine. With half the episode taking place in ancient Egypt, we don't get as big a glimpse at her new surroundings other than meeting two friends in the alien Akila (Katie Crown) and the cyborg Brian (Jorge Diaz) as well as the talking cat Khensu (Sendhil Ramamurthy) who always believed Cleo was destined to arrive from the past and help save the Nile Galaxy from the villain Octavian (Jonathan Kite) whose evil robots Cleo encounters for the first time. The exploration of our hero's surroundings, P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. (where Cleopatra will learn how to save the galaxy), and more about Octavian will have to wait for future episodes.

Scarlet Witch Cosplay by Karrigan Taylor

Batman's Most Ridiculous Villains

Monday, April 12, 2021

MacGyver - Barn Find + Engine Oil + La Punzonatura + Lab Rats + Tachometer

"Barn Find + Engine Oil + La Punzonatura + Lab Rats + Tachometer" works on MacGyver (Lucas Till) and Desi's (Levy Tran) relationship when the nanobots within his bloodstream take away the use of his hands while the pair are working to get their hands on a vintage automobile that might lead to the capture of a criminal in hiding for decades. Having Desi work as Mac's hands over the course of the episode helps relieve the building tension between the pair and find some common ground. The sudden issues Mac experiences help explain why the show didn't move on from the nanobots. Although does this mean Phoenix thought there would be issues that could affect both Mac and Riley (Tristin Mays)?

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - The Whole World is Watching

Well, that escalated quickly. One of the oddities about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, given it's shortened six-episode run, is the series is somehow both slow to advance plot while also skipping over and rushing to big moments at the same time. "The Whole World is Watching" certainly gives us the big moment, it also takes the new new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) from frustrated hero with an inferiority complex to psychopath in the space of a single episode (and that's before he chooses to juice himself with the super-solider serum which only enhances his flaws). The result is a memorable final scene that sets stage with brutal murder, a bloody shield, and several questions about where the show goes from here. While a step-up from the previous episode, the structure of the peaks and lulls continues to provide some great moments but also some hit-and-miss plot to move characters from one of these events to the next.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Caturday with WanderlustLuca

WanderlustLuca is a cosplayer from the Netherlands. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, Twitter, and TikTok. You can also support her on Fansly and OnlyFans.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer's Road #5

Reprinting the story from Usagi Yojimbo #11, "The Tea Cup" offers a team-up of Miyamoto Usagi and Murakami Gennosuke who the rabbit ronin runs into on the road. Gen has accepted a job to deliver a valuable tea cup, but there are those who don't wish him make that delivery. With nothing else to do, Usagi decides to accompany his friend as the two fight and bicker along the way.

Kung Fu - Pilot

After three years in an all-female Shaolin monastery Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) returns home following the ransacking of the temple, death of her mentor (Vanessa Kai), and the theft of a (magic?) sword by one of the monastery's former students (Yvonne Chapman). Following the narration-heavy opening in China, the story shifts to San Francisco and Nicky's attempts to reconnect with her demanding family and the boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse) she left behind. While still looking for answers concerning the sword and mystery woman, an attack on her father (Tzi Ma) leads Nicky to put her training to use against the Triad who are terrorizing the community and threatening both the family's restaurant and her father's life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Black Cat #4

With the "King in Black" crossover complete, before moving Black Cat on to her next heist, Black Cat stops to examine the perspective of Queen Cat who has been watching and tracking Felicia for several months. I'm not wild about the art here with Nina Vakueva taking over duties with this issue. While Queen Cat works well enough, a character we don't know as well, Felicia never comes out quite right.

The Flash - The One with the Nineties

The Flash offers up a time travel / time loop storyline when Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Chester (Brandon McKnight) get trapped in 1998 after laying sensors to track movements of other Force manifestations like the Speed Force who has shown up in the form of Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison). "The One with the Nineties" features the most obvious 90s jokes such as a Blockbuster, fax machines, and the outlandish clothing of the decade. The reset also brings Chester into contact with his father (Milton Barnes) giving him insight into the man he never had while growing up prior to the pair running into the Force behind events (Christian Magby) whose anger eventually effects the rest of the team as well.

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #2

The second issue of Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land provides more information about Scarlett Santiago who had become a cult figure and something of a vigilante prior to disappearing over the ocean. Crashing on the hidden island, the Sky Devil was taken in by the island's ape men known as the Ohnar who not only saved the young woman's life but also transferred into her the power of their god-spirit Un-Gaah (allowing her to transform into a giant ape herself which turns out to be a useful skill when saving Hellboy from a T-Rex).

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tuesday with Kaia Gerber

Kaia Gerber is an American model and actress. She is the daughter of model Cindy Crawford and businessman Rande Gerber. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

MacGyver - Royalty + Marriage + Vivaah Sanskar + Zinc + Henna

MacGyver (Lucas Till), Desi (Levy Tran), and Russ (Henry Ian Cusick) go in undercover to protect those who want to prevent a a royal Indian wedding from taking place. The setting offers a chance to explain Desi's reluctance to consider marriage (i.e. a never-before-mentioned dead fiancé whose body was never recovered) while also laying the rather obvious foundation of what will likely happen to derail their relationship (i.e. the inevitable return of the not-so-dead fiancé). The episode is more memorable for the setting than the mystery as the most obvious character is eventually unmasked as the one attempting to prevent the princess (Aneesha Joshi) from going through with the wedding.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2021

Released on DVD, WWE Elimination Chamber 2021 includes all seven of the matches from this year's Elimination Chamber PPV (although it's stretching things to refer to two of them as matches) plus the Fatal 4-Way Match which was part of the kick-off show is included as an extra. Most of the matches are short (under 10 minutes each) and the PPV featured no woman's Elimination Chamber Match for the first time since 2017.

The two Elimination Chamber Matches featured Daniel Bryan defeating Cesaro, Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin, and Sami Zayn to earn a Universal Championship opportunity (and promptly get squashed by Roman Reigns) and Drew McIntyre successfully defended his title by defeating AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, and Sheamus to retain his World Heavyweight Championship before being attacked by Bobby Lashley (who had lost the WWE United States Championship earlier in the evening) and then losing his title when the Miz cashed-in his Money in the Bank contract.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Power Broker

The third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes a bizarre turn as Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) work with an escaped Zemo (Daniel Brühl) whose knowledge of Hydra's former super-solider program they hope may give them their first break in finding the Flag Smashers. Visiting Zemo in person and helping him on the outside are two very different things, Bucky even apparently helps trigger his escape, and working with Zemo certainly stretches the credibility of our heroes (even with Sam's weak initial objections). The episode also weaves in grittier version of Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) who Marvel is apparently going to keep sticking into projects until the character works.

Legacies - Yup, It's a Leprechaun, All Right / Long Time, No See

The two latest episodes of Legacies play on the season's two big themes to this point: attempting to save the Salvatore Boarding School from closing down and the loss of Landon (Aria Shahghasemi). The introduction of the Leprechaun in "Yup, It's a Leprechaun, All Right" offers some zany fun as Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) decides to use the creature's ability to attract wealth (along with greed and madness) to try and make the money necessary to save the school in a day of fundraising that, of course, gets out of hand. The arrival of a Malivore monster also has an affect on Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) who realizes she may have a way to reach Landon after all. Hope's recklessness, and the reveal of MG's (Quincy Fouse) betrayal (which I'm still struggling to understand?) make up most of "Long Time, No See" as Hope risks everything, even her friends, in another dangerous search for Landon.

Supergirl - Rebirth

Supergirl's final season begins with a mess of a first episode that attempts to wrap up several threads from the COVID-shortened Fifth Season all in one episode prior to moving on to new stories. Before the opening credits even roll, Brainy (Jesse Rath) is saved and Leviathan is defeated leaving the rest of the episode to deal with Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) who apparently has become a god, has half the world's population under his sway, and is working to kill off everyone else. Cryer is fun here yet again in what will apparently not be his final appearance which offers him more than one victory over Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). As has been the show's problem recently, too much of the episode is centered around making sure every single member of the ever-growing supporting cast gets their moment. Given Supergirl's current predicament, I'm bit concerned with the short-term direction of the show and if the rest of the cast can keep things afloat prior to the Maid of Might's inevitable return from the Phantom Zone.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong

A year ago, summer was called off, theaters were closed, and studios pulled their largest potential blockbusters from the calendar. Although far from perfect, and with too much of the Godzilla story built on the ashes of the weakest film of the series (Godzilla: King of Monsters), Godzilla vs. Kong delivers the kind of big dumb summer blockbuster audiences have been waiting two years for. The culmination of Legendary's MonsterVerse wastes little time getting both King Kong and Godzilla on-screen. And, clocking in at under two-hours, director Adam Wingard knows not to overstay his welcome.

Monday, March 29, 2021

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Originally envisioned as a stop-motion film featuring King Kong fighting a giant Frankenstein Monster, the struggling project was given to Toho Studios which saw in Kong an adversary worthy of Godzilla. The story involves a submarine which takes absolutely no attempt to avoid hitting a giant iceberg which cracks and releases the slumbering Godzilla once more. The movie is a bit unclear on if people know who Godzilla is (they know at least about his name, but otherwise the film is inconsistent about the creature's history).

MacGyver - C8H7ClO + Nano-Trackers + Resistance + Maldives + Mind Games

With resources stretched thin, MacGyver (Lucas Till) and Riley (Tristin Mays) are sent to Bosnia to look into a local leader attempting to silence protestors. Using updated technology which Russ (Henry Ian Cusick) identifies as belonging to an old adversary (Jeremy Crutchley), Mac and Riley discover police are using tear gas to insert nanobots into the bodies of the protestors making it easier to track, jail, and permanently silence them. Once infected, Mac and Desi (while working through their own issues) have to work fast in able to keep themselves and the protestors out of the hands of the police while Russ attempts to pump the scientist for the information necessary to shut down the program permanently.

King Kong

1976's King Kong holds up fairly well nearly 45 years after its release. The first remake of the 1933 film, producer Dino De Laurentiis and director John Guillermin's film is memorable for its practical effects including the mechanical Kong mask developed by Carlo Rambaldi and Rick Baker giving Kong's face a wide range of emotion. While some of the composite shots merging Kong with the world aren't as effective today, there's still quite a bit of movie magic. Baker also credits cinematographer Richard H. Kline whose work he felt hid the limitations of what could be done with Kong at the time.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - The Star Spangled Man

After The Falcon and the Winter Soldier kept them apart for the entire opening episode, "The Star Spangled Man" throws Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) together so quickly you almost wonder if you missed an episode in-between. Finally playing to the strengths of the odd couple pairing, and offering a more consistent narrative that doesn't ping pong around nearly as much as the show's opener, the second episode gives us a team-up not just between Bucky and Sam but, unexpectedly, working alongside the new Captain America (Wyatt Russell) and his sidekick (Clé Bennett) who discover the gang of Flag Smashers they've all been chasing (well, except for Bucky who just tags along to bug Sam) turn out to be super-soldiers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Superman & Lois - The Best of Smallville

HarvestFest comes to Superman & Lois & Jonathan & Jordan in an episode that offers more moody teenage drama, our first glimpses of a teenage Clark's (Dylan Kingwell ) time in Smallville, and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) stumbling on the bizarre experiments conducted by Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner) thanks to some investigating by Chrissy Beppo (Sofia Hasmik). The out-of-time Captain Luthor (Wolé Parks) introduces himself to Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) who he believes can lead him to Superman. The episode's epilogue offers the sudden reappearance of Tag Harris (Wern Lee) confronting Jordan (Alex Garfin) proving the government is worthless at keeping any super-powered individual, even a teenager not in control of his abilities, under wraps.

The Flash - Central City Strong

In an episode about recovering for both the city and for its characters, Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian) returns with threats of destroying Central City using an anti-matter bomb. The use of a villain from the future allows the show to offer another tease about a new looming threat coming for our hero, which (of course) it can't wait to awkwardly work into casual conversation. While there's much to praise "Central City Strong" in focusing on the aftermath of recent events, for both those trapped in the mirror dimension and those who unknowingly lived their lives with duplicates, several aspects of the episode are poorly written including the clunky dialogue of giving back to the community, the foreshadoing of the Caitlin / Frost (Danielle Panabaker) reveal, and the anti-climactic finale as the show doubles down on Barry's (Grant Gustin) power of love being a better super-power than his speed.

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1

I've always liked Marvel's Black Knight, the mix of super-hero and Arthurian legend (although I must admit my favorite version wears a leather jacket on top of chain mail armed with a lightsaber). Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1 offers some insight into the mental and emotional state of hero and part-time Avenger Dane Whitman who is in possession of the cursed Ebony Blade which offers him the chance at heroic action but only by diving head-first into dark emotions and power he doesn't fully understand.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Debris - Solar Winds

The third episode of Debris continues the ongoing storylines of the shadowy private group looking to add to their own collection of debris (with the help of some members of the government) and the questions concerning Finola Jones' (Riann Steele) not-so-dead father (Tyrone Benskin). The odd occurrence of the week takes place in a field where window mysterious appears and disappears, with other people trapped on the other side, without any apparent nearby debris (which is actually found rather easily once they begin investigating a larger area). The episode plays on the theory of certain places on Earth where the fabric of dimensions can allow someone to walk from one world through the next.

The History of The Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Courier

Based on true events, director Dominic Cooke's The Courier offers a solid period thriller surrounding Soviet scientist Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) and British salesman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) who becomes a vital piece in Cold War espionage by smuggling Soviet secrets out Moscow for Penkovsky and into the waiting arms of MI6 and the CIA in the months leading up the the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Penned by Tom O'Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), The Courier fits easily into its genre. The structure of the film, following events from beginning to end in chronological fashion, does offer a rather large shift in The Courier's final half-hour which may have been avoided by more imaginative editing and structure. Cumberbatch and Ninidze will gather the most interest here. The women of the story don't fare as well. The film has a lesser interest in Wynne's wife (Jessie Buckley) and almost no interest in Penkovsky's family. Even Rachel Brosnahan as the CIA agent who brings the case to MI6's attention and pressures them to make good on their promises, isn't given anything all that interesting to do.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Episode 1

The first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the latest Marvel series to hit Disney+, shows promise. It also shows an inability to focus not unlike that of a ADHD pre-teen on a sugar high without ever giving us time to settle in and get comfortable in any one aspect of the larger story. Jumping around quite a bit, "Episode 1" catches viewers up on both Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). The opening sequence, which feels more than a little reminiscent of the ship rescue in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (complete with the return of Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc), confirms Sam's role with some unnamed part of the United States Armed Forces while introducing a new character (Danny Ramirez) whose relationship to Sam is apparently to find trouble for the Falcon to solve.

Superman & Lois - Haywire

"Haywire" is most notable for Superman & Lois & Jonathan & Jordan adopting one of the pillars of Smallville. It turns out in this reality Smallville, Kansas, was also pelted with loads of Kryptonite which explains Morgan Edge's (Adam Rayner) interest in mining the town and offers the first "freak" as one of the Kent brothers' classmates exhibits odd powers after being be exposed to the rocks. All the major themes from the first three episodes are revisited here. Clark's (Tyler Hoechlin) split focus causes problems with everyone, in bad writing that was easy to see coming General Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh) begins to view Superman as a threat for no reason at all, Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) is stymied in her attempts to keep Edge out of Smallville, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) continues to sulk at his brother's sudden popularity, and Jordan (Alex Garfin) begins to grow into his role as a member of the team.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Boss Level

B-movie actor Frank Grillo, best known for his role of Crossbones in the Marvel Universe films, stars as soldier Roy Pulver stuck in a time loop reliving the same day over and over again. Structured like a video game, although the explanation for the loop turns out having nothing to do with a video game, Ray fights through the army of oddball mercenaries every day but always ends up dying at some point.

The story behind Ray's predicament traces back to his ex-wife (Naomi Watts), her latest scientific breakthrough (which of course is never adequately explained), and her evil boss (Mel Gibson) who apparently has a never-ending rolodex of ridiculous killers on hand and a hard-on to kill Ray. The film is structured by showing us some sequences over and over again, and other times jumping forward to only the new moments. It does make use of ideas in both Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow in Ray using his unique situation to learn more skills to survive. Sadly, writer/director Joe Carnahan's film is nowhere near as good as either of those films, or last year's far more enjoyable entry into the genre Palm Springs (also released on Hulu).

The Flash - Mother

If Huey Lewis' "The Power of Love" had been blaring throughout "Mother," the episode would be no more schmaltzy. In what was originally planned to be last season's finale, Barry (Grant Gustin) gets a new, new artificial Speed Force based on the power of love. No, really. And just in time too, as Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor) has begun replacing the citizens of Central City with her mirror duplicates en masse. Thankfully, she's no match for... the power of love. The episode also offers yet another farewell to Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), as the rebirthed original Wells returns to help Team Flash one last time. The episode leaves the door open for a possible return of the character while also leaving a couple of Easter Eggs in the character's look back at something occurring just prior to Barry's speed being restored and some odd lightning that shoots out of S.T.A.R. Labs (possibly laying the ground for new speedsters?).

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Clone Wars - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Style

Street Fighter Girls Fay Prince & Ririkana

Fay Prince is a cosplayer from Taiwan. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and support her on Pateron.

Ririkana is a Japanese cosplayer. You can follower her on Twitter and Instagram and support her on Patreon.

Monday, March 15, 2021

James Bond: Agent of SPECTRE #1

There's a problematic question at the heart of the first issue of James Bond: Agent of SPECTRE which asks how James Bond might end up working for the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. Of course, the answer is never. However, writer Christos Gage does provide a scenario where Bond might appear to work with the evil organization to further his own ends.