Monday, October 25, 2021

Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #4

Three more black and white tales of Red Sonja are collected in Red Sonja: Black, White, Red #4. The bandit hordes of Turan invade in "The Iron Queen" only to be turned back by an old queen who takes up the sword for the first time in years remembering the warrior she once was. Sonja travels through a cold wasteland in "Cold Monger" where a king's magic steals the warmth and fire from his subjects.

The Blacklist - The Skinner

The Blacklist returns for its first season without central character Elizabeth Keen who was killed off in last season's finale. While Raymond Reddington (James Spader) has always been the show's star, Keen was the character at the center of the story. How well the show can move forward without her looms large over the show's Ninth Season. Set two years after her death, "The Skinner" focuses on Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) putting the band back together after after Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), now working for the FBI, is injured while attempting to stop the theft with global repercussions.

Jean Watts' Pamela Anderson Makeup Tutorial

Foundation - The Emperor's Peace

Originally written as short stories for Astounding Magazine more than 70 years ago, Isaac Asimov's idea of examining something akin to the fall of the Roman Empire on a galactic scale would result in a series of stories and novels, some written decades apart, spanning thousands of years, where the fate of humanity weighed in the balance. Using the concept of predictive models taken to the nth degree, Asimov offered the mathematics of psychohistory which was capable of predicting the future of large populations, even if those populations don't like what those predictions might be.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Catwoman: Lonely City #1

Released as part of DC's mature Black Series line, Catwoman: Lonley City #1 opens with the release of an older Selina Kyle from prison ten years after the deaths of Batman, the Joker, Commissioner Gordon, and Nightwing. Gotham has changed in her absence, with Harvey Dent as mayor of a more militarized city full of Bat-style soldier cops roaming the streets.

Friday, October 22, 2021

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally

Feeling like a Made-for-TV movie that Al Pacino got suckered into, American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally offers a half-hearted attempt to examine the post World War II trial of Mildred Gillars (Meadow Williams), an American actress who worked for the Germans during the war broadcasting Nazi propaganda under different names including Axis Sally.

It's easy to pick out the two scenes which peaked Pacino's interest in his character, the lawyer assigned to defend Gillars in an American courtroom on eight counts of treason. It's harder to find a reason for anyone else getting involved.

Williams plays a character who things happen to and we're left with no better picture of who Gillars was than when the story began. The film is weak in terms of courtroom drama, doesn't have the time or interest for character study, and doesn't take a stance of Gillars, leaving the film by writer/director Michael Polish dead on arrival.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Lost Symbol - Melencolia I

The moral of "Melencolia I" seems to be to never trust the CIA. After receiving a video from Peter (Eddie Izzard), Robert (Ashley Zukerman) reaches out to Katharine (Valorie Curry) who is now working with Sato (Sumalee Montano) and the CIA. Despite all of Langdon's discoveries, he's still far from discovering the location of the portal. However, Sato suggests lying to Mal'akh (Beau Knapp) in order to lay a trap for the cult leader. Things don't go exactly as planned as Mal'akh escapes with both Robert, who he needs to finish his work, and Peter, who apparently is instrumental in the final stage of whatever Mal'akh has planned.

Transformers: King Grimlock #3

The fight for Menonia begins Grimlock leads the Anglorians against the Red Wizard who unleashes more Wood-Bots and also an army of zombies against them. With Grimlock on their side, the Red Wizard (who turns out to be a Quintesson) and his armies fall. The third issue of the five-issue mini-series offers plenty of action while also leading Grimlock to an important revelation that he cannot ignore the Golden One, and agrees to help the locals against yet another adversary who grows strong on the planet's source of Energon.

The History of of Choose Your Own Adventure

Wonder Woman #780

Acting as a celebration, the oversized Wonder Woman #780 returns Wonder Woman home after the events of "Death Metal." The issue is mainly a welcome home story for Diana, first at the Hall of Justice where friends are surprised and overjoyed to see her return. There's even a nice fan moment involving J'onn J'onzz that Justice League International readers should enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Only Murders in the Building - To Protect and Serve

"To Protect and Serve" brings back Da'Vine Joy Randolph as the grumpy Detective Williams. While I'm not wild about the character, her discovery that the police department didn't look further into the evidence of Tim Kono's apparent suicide, and the needling from her fiancé (Alysha Deslorieux), pushes her to helping out the podcast she despises by sending them a big clue. Speaking of the podcasters, still wrapping their heads around Tim's investigation into black market jewelry, Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) stumble across unexpected boost to their podcast and a new suspect.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows #1

Set during the High Republic, in the years prior to the Star Wars prequels, opens with the death of Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm and the unexplained disintegration of his body. Jedi Investigator Emerick Caphtor is assigned to the case which will lead him to Vrant Tarnum and a mystery that will somehow tie into a children's nursery rhyme and the actions of Coruscant private detective Sian Holt looking out for a friend who has gotten in over his head.

Stargirl - Summer School: Chapter Eleven

Trapped in the Shadowlands, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) runs into nightmarish versions of people and places from her past making up the hellish purgatory where Eclipso was born and where his victims are tortured for his amusement. The setting allows the show to bring back a few departed former cast members as well as have Courtney run into a couple of other souls trapped in the Shadowlands in both her old frenemy Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) and the not-so-dead Charles McNider (Alex Collins) who are both haunted by their own demons. Cindy's visions allow the strongly-hinted at past to be explored a bit more confirming the tragedy of her mother and monstrous nature of her father.

Robins #1

Robins #1 kicks off a six-issue mini-series bringing the current and former Robins together. We get a team-up in Blüdhaven with the heroes taking down some Anarky followers before a group huddle for the heroes to discuss the mantle of being Robin. And then the craziness starts with the introduction of a new villain obsessed with the group and out to prove she is the one true Robin.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Steel Dawn

Set in a post-apocalyptic future where water is the most precious resource, 1987's Steel Dawn stars Patrick Swayze as a former soldier turned nameless traveler, credited only as "Nomad," whose search for the killer (Christopher Neame) of his mentor (John Fujioka) leads him to a farm run by a widow (Lisa Niemi) under attack by a ruthless nearby landowner (Anthony Zerbe).

Steel Dawn offers your basic western plot (borrowing more than a little from Shane, complete with a young boy taking a shine to our hero) with a modest amount of sci-fi trappings featuring weird mutants in the desert wasteland and struggle over scant resources. Re-released on Blu-ray, the film is at most a curiosity for Swayze fans and holds little other actual value other than the extended fight between our hero and the assassin.

James Bond: Himeros #1

The latest Bond tale opens with the murder of an inmate at Belmarsh Prison by an elite assassin hired by arms dealer Anton Barnes to keep the secrets of the villain, and his Dutch Ethno-Nationalists organization, safe from the world. Enter James Bond, assigned to protect the last remaining target that could tie Barnes back to the human trafficking ring of the dead inmate.

NCIS: Hawai'i - Paniolo

The shooting of an uncooperative Navy Sergeant turned Hawaiian cowboy uncovers a drug ring on the island using local high schools as distribution centers and students as mules. In ongoing storylines the estranged relationship between Kai (Alex Tarrant) and his father continues, although some progress is made thanks in part to insight offered by Lucy (Yasmine Al-Bustami). The unusual setup turns out to have a pretty straightforward conclusion, although the side trip it takes into the former love life of Ernie Malik (Jason Antoon) through the introduction of his ex (Lauren Cook) is certainly notable, although not necessarily in the best ways.

The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #7

While Batman, Robin, and Mystery, Inc. deal with a giant cat attacking the top of Wayne Tower (which turns out to be a distraction for Catwoman's latest break-in and jewel theft), Alfred, Daphne, and her butler Jenkins search for the missing Scooby-Doo and Ace who were dognapped from Wayne Manor.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Leverage: Redemption - The Unwellness Job

The Leverage team takes on a former actress (Brianna Brown) selling ineffective, and sometimes dangerous, supplements under the guise of a wellness guru and her money laundering money man (David Clayton Rogers) greedy to further exploit her customer data. As far as cons go, the initial bee-themed moisturizer isn't one of the show's best but things do pick-up with the secondary story involving the unscrupulous partner which forces the team to change tactics in the middle of the con, pitting the pair against each other, and even revealing the truth about the con to secure another victory.

Halloween Kills

2018's Halloween offered a final confrontation between a haunted Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Meyers. Better than most of the Halloween sequels, it seemed a fitting end to the franchise offering closure to both Michael and Laruie's stories. However, with big sequel money waiting to be made, unfortunately the story didn't end there.

The Big Leap - Nothing but Money Shots

"Nothing but Money Shots" is notable for introducing Blaire Brown as Nick's (Scott Foley) daughter, who seems far more positive about moving to England with her mother than Nick is, and pushing Mike (Jon Rudnitsky) and Paula (Piper Perabo) together romantically (albeit through a regrettable fake date with Mike's ex which I'll only forgive for my love of Perabo). Brown is a nice addition here, but with her character heading overseas it's likely we won't see that much of her going forward. The show has been teasing putting Mike and Paula together, and now that they are, is it time for Nick to let the other shoe drop concerning a connection which the blissfully happy Mike (capped off with a sequence dancing through the streets) is completely oblivious to? 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Dune: Part One

More coherent, but less complete, than David Lynch's bizarre 1984 film, director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the first half of Frank Herbert's Dune is rich and elaborate storytelling. Don't get me wrong, it's still Dune, meaning the story is still complex and bizarre, but, despite only giving us half the story, offers a more satisfying movie experience.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Lost Symbol - L'Enfant Orientation

Separating after Mal’akh (Beau Knapp) murdered her assistant, Katharine Solomon (Valorie Curry) enlists the help of Inoue Sato (Sumalee Montano) and the CIA to find her father as the show taps into the idea of defunded CIA programs involving remote viewing as the show seems to be moving more and more of its chips into the supernatural realm. Robert (Ashley Zukerman) continues the search on his own, following the ridiculous clues and finding the the capstone hidden in a cave.

Thursday with LeeAnna Vamp

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Stargirl - Summer School: Chapter Ten

It's answers, revelations, and callbacks in the latest episode of Stargirl. While Courtney (Brec Bassinger) struggles to come to terms with the truth of the JSA killing Eclipso's former host years ago, and Pat (Luke Wilson) keeping the secret from her, "Summer School: Chapter Ten" provides a callback to earlier in the season with the return of Jennie (Ysa Penarejo) whose powers might just be what they need to put to Black Diamond back together (which they believe can be used to trap Eclipso). While struggling to control the instability of her powers, Jennie has been searching for her lost brother in a thread foreshadowing the introduction of at least two more DC characters in Mr. Bones and Obsidian. I'll be curious to see just what version of Bones we get, and which secret organization he's working for on this Earth.

The History of Tron

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Only Murders in the Building - Twist

While struggling with the revelation that Mabel (Selena Gomez) has hidden her connection to Tim Kono, Charles (Steve Martin) and Oliver (Martin Short) trail their friend and Tie Dye Guy (Aaron Dominguez) to Long Island. The set-up of the episode allows Charles and Oliver to stew and argue while in pursuit (in Oliver's ridiculous car that overheats and then steal a ride from a Brazos fan). It's a fun episode that gives us interaction between Mabel and Oscar while teasing us what will happen when the ride stops. The setup forces the confrontation to the end of the episode along with a twist explaining the jewelry that Mabel found in Tim's apartment and introducing a new suspect.

San Japan Anime Convention 2021 Director's Cut

Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two #5

>Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two #5 picks up the thread of the man killed on a yacht in Gotham Harbor from the previous issue and explores the history of Batman with former Gotham City Mayor Emerson Mayfield and his former private army of corrupt cops. After chasing out the crooked politician years before, Mayfield has returned (and taken to removing anyone that might stand in his way to reclaim his former public office).

Bulldog Drummond Escapes

Adapted from the the novels of H. C. McNeile, and part of Paramount's series following the First World War veteran turned gentleman adventurer, Bulldog Drummond Escapes was released in 1937 starring Ray Milland as the title character, Guy Standing as the disapproving local police inspector, and Heather Angel as a damsel in distress.

Re-released as part of The Film Detective's Restored Classics, Bulldog Drummond Escapes feels a bit dated in places no more so than the opening sequence involving Drummond's plane landing back in England. Getting into trouble his first night back, he stumbles on a murder, has his car stolen by a young woman who is later recaptured by those holding her against her will, gets on the wrong side of the local police with the help of his old friend (Reginald Denny) and butler (E.E. Clive), and eventually uncovers a counterfeit plot and, of course, saves the girl.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Red Sonja #2

In Part 2 of "Mother," a bruised and battered Sonja awakes on a farm in Brythunia and tended to by a lumberjack and carpenter named Samosh, who took the unconscious Sonja and the young Sitha in. There's more humor than action in Red Sonja #2 which feels very much like a middle issue of a larger story. Much of the issue takes place around the recovering Sonja and her respite before completing her duty to deliver her charge.

NCIS: Hawai'i - Recruiter

The murder of a Navy recruiter turn the attention of NCIS to a local kid (Martin Martinez) recently rejected by the Navy and mixed up with a surf gang. While the evidence initially calls into question both the recent actions of the recruiter and the rejected recruit, Kai (Alex Tarrant) is able to help the team uncover the true reason for the murder (and he even gets to sucker punch one of his new colleagues as a bonus to help sell his short undercover assignment). The twist and reveal of the real killer isn't bad, although it wasn't surprising given the set-up of the story didn't really allow for any other serious possibilities. The episode is also notable for squeezing in some family drama in the Tennant home which I'm hoping isn't going to become a staple of the series.

Deadpool: Black, White & Blood #3

Deadpool: Black, White & Blood #3 offers three more tales of the Merc with a Mouth with this month's tales bringing the crazy and absurd. "The Worst Convent in the World" is the wackiest of the three tales in which Deadpool takes a job to deal with some cartel gunmen causing trouble for a local hotel leading him to a convent of Nazi skinhead nun drug dealers with assault rifles who are holding the penguin he accepted as payment.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Leverage: Redemption - The Bucket Job

The second-half of the season kicks off with an unusual job for the Leverage crew who are hired not to take down a mark but use their skills to give give a small town librarian (LeVar Burton) with stage-four cancer a day as a spy and a hero. Burton's character is named Robert Blanche for the longtime Leverage cast member who made multiple appearances on the show as Lt. Patrick Bonnano before passing away in 2020. The twist for the episode comes from pulling the thread from earlier in the season as Bligh (Lucy Taylor) and her goons are following the team and discover that the librarian is actually a missing spy with incredibly valuable information.

This is Dragon Con 2021 Best Cosplay Music Video

Usagi Yojimbo: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy #4

Miyamoto Usagi's attempt to save Tomoe has failed and has left him half-dead on the road only to be found and rescued by Shingen, who thankfully is less murderous than the last time our ronin's path crossed the ninja. Usagi's successful escape, and Tomoe being loose somewhere in his compound, forces Lord Tamakuro to push up his plans to move against the shogun. Can Usagi work with the Neko Ninja to stop him?

Monday Morning Mashup - The Fisher King

The Big Leap - The White Swan Lives!

The third episode of The Big Leap brings a road trip to Chicago to watch a professional ballet company perform the ballet our reality-TV stars have been working on. They then, in turn, do a performance for the professionals (which goes as bad as you would expect). The fact that the company is the one Monica (Mallory Jansen) used to headline offers a chance to explore her character a little while also twisting the knife into an old wound. Hoping for a big moment caught on film, Nick (Scott Foley) also arranges for the reunion of Justin (Raymond Cham Jr.) and his estranged father which, despite being a total dick move, may have actually helped both characters in the long run.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Lost Symbol - Murmuration

The search continues as Professor Robert Langdon (Ashley Zukerman) and Katharine Solomon (Valorie Curry) reach back out to Nunez (Rick Gonzalez) for help and Robert reveals Mal’akh's (Beau Knapp) threat to Katharine. Ignoring the threat has dire consequences for Katharine's assistant. While we also get more of the CIA searching for answers, the episode is most notable for Langdon allowing Katharine to use her expertise to help him solve the cypher and an old film that our intrepid treasure hunters are able to find which seems to show an example of the power the portal may offer. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #121

Old Hob and the Mutanimals have been defeated... now what? Hob gets a taste of Mutant Town's anger towards him and the Mutanimals, as his beatdown is only stopped by a tearful plea from Zanna which nearly allows him to escape leading to a chase, some stabby-stabby action from Raphael, and Hob's eventual recapture. Whatever happens to Hob at this point, it's clear that not everyone will be pleased with the outcome.

Only Murders in the Building - The Sting

Needing help on how to deal with a celebrity suspect, Charles (Steve Martin) uses a personal collection to get the three podcasters in from of murder podcast legend Cinda Canning (Tina Fey). Although the Sting lead turns out to be another humous dead end, the episode closes with another appearance by Canning suggesting events in the Arconia are going to take an even darker turn. The episode is also notable for Charles' disastrous date with Jan (Amy Ryan), forcing him to reveal more about his past than he planned, and someone in the building dropping a bombshell on Charles and Oliver (Martin Short) revealing Mabel's (Selena Gomez) connection to Tim Kono.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Stargirl - Summer School: Chapter Nine

After crushing Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Rick (Cameron Gellman), but failing with Beth (Anjelika Washington), Eclipso turns his attention on Courtney's (Brec Bassinger) family by targeting Barbara (Amy Smart) and Mike (Trae Romano) for their guilt over Icicle's (Neil Jackson) death while Pat (Luke Wilson) gets lost in memories of the old days involving Eclipso's previous appearance decades before and the dark days following the death of Charles McNider's daughter. Set against a raging storm in the background, Barbara is able to find some light from an unlikely source while Courtney arrives just in time to save both Mike and Pat from their nightmares.

Black Cat #10

Although Black Cat does manage to negotiate the assistance of another of the Infinity Stones hosts in the silent Quantum, the issue is more about what happens afterwards due to run-ins with Nighthawk, Nick Fury, Jr.,  and Odessa Drake who is less than keen on Felicia's current plans.

NCIS: Hawai'i - Pilot / Boom

In an obvious attempt to fill the void left by the conclusion of the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, CBS launches a new spin-off the NCIS franchise set in the Hawaiian islands. Vanessa Lachey stars as Jane Tennant, the first female Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS: Pearl. Alex Tarrant is Kai Holman, the youngest member of the team, an island native returning home after working for the Navy abroad, whose estranged relationship with is ailing father appears to be an ongoing storyline.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Checkmate #4

The chess game between Checkmate and Leviathan continues in issue #4 as Green Arrow and Manhunter are able to fight off Leviathan agents Guardian and Merlyn who infiltrate the abandoned JLA Watchtower for unknown nefarious purposes. Not only are the heroes successful in driving out the invaders, but they are able to obtain a sample of Guardian's blood which offers a clue to Mister Bones recognizing a rejected DEO program of splicing alien DNA into agents which may help explain how Mark Shaw has created his own little army.

SummerSlam (2021)

One of cornerstone PPV events of WWE, 2021's SummerSlam had some memorable moments, but not much in terms of memorable matches. Both main events showcased champions battling over-the-hill wrestlers coming out of retirement as Roman Reigns beat down the 44 year-old John Cena (who hasn't wrestled full-time for five years) for the Universal Championship and Bobby Lashley defeated the 54 year-old Goldberg to retain the WWE Championship.

The biggest moment of the night, and only real surprise, came in the shake-up for the SmackDown Women's Championship as Becky Lynch made an unexpected return and defeated Bianca Belair in under a minute in what can't really be referred to as a match. A contender for match of the night, in the Raw Women's Championship triple-threat match Charlotte Flair (as expected) defeated Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley to win another title and continue her run as the most decorated women's champion in WWE history.

Y: The Last Man - The Day Before

When you sit down to watch a post-apocalyptic series the one thing you expect to see is a post-apocalyptic world. Other than a short tease at the beginning of the episode and the beginning of the strange events that cause the death of all but a single man on the planet at the end of the episode, nearly all of "The Last Day Before" offers a look at the last normal day before the end of the world. While the idea here is to introduce who the characters were before the world went to shit, the reality is that the episode meant to sell audiences on the concept of the series is nearly completely about events and troubles that are irrelevant by the end.

BMO (Adventure Time) Cosplay by Hendo Art

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Monday, October 4, 2021

Leverage: Redemption - The Mastermind Job

The mid-season finale for Leverage: Redemption hits close to home for the team when they discover the existence of a tell-all book that would reveal secrets about the team and their clients to the world. Worst of all, the writer of the book is pretending to be Nate Ford. While I was expecting some nefarious purpose here, possibly an old enemy bringing the team into the light to spring a trap, that's not what writer Kate Rorick has in mind for us. Instead of finding a con man or villain, the team comes across an accountant (Joey Slotnick) and former friend to Nate.

The Failed History of The Transformers: The Movie

Alyson Tabbitha Harley Quinn (The Suicide Squad) Makeup Transformation

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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I wasn't the biggest fan of 2018's Venom which often didn't even attempt to make its plot coherent. The new sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage isn't a big improvement over the first film, but when it embraces its craziness it does offer more fun. Sadly, as with the first film, one of the big failings of the sequel is the writing which takes forever to get the plot moving and, for some inexplicable reason, even abandons its most successful aspect of the series by separating Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and the symbiote for an extended period this time around.

Venom and Eddie work together because they're both losers. Seriously lame losers. Their problems stem from the fact they are able to each see the other's failings but not always their own allowing for a one-man odd couple relationship to provide some uniquely weird sequences.