Friday, May 20, 2022

The History of The Greatest American Hero

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies is exactly what sounds the like. The 2020 documentary takes a look at nudity in film from its humble beginnings to the ups and downs of regulation to current views. Interviews with actors and film historians examine the give-and-take in Hollywood pushing experimentation and mores of the time versus waves of censorship in a constantly evolving view on the subject which changes with the times.

Of course the film is also notable for the several nude clips of the movies discussed from everything from 1915's Inspiration to Caligula and Showgirls. Through both the clips and interviews, the difference between necessary and exploitative nudity is also discussed, as are the differing opinions of actresses looking back on their experiences.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

NCIS: Hawai'i - Switchback

The first-half of the First Season's season finale finds Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) drafted into helping the returning Captain Milius (Enver Gjokaj) in a prison transfer that is jeopardized by the death of a Naval security officer in Hawaii. Even with the help of the others who stay behind to investigate, and capture the two mercenaries hired for the kill, NCIS remains largely in the dark as to who is going to such lengths to see a Russian spy returned in exchange for an American who supposedly knows very little worthy of keeping him other than as a bargaining chip.

Immortal Red Sonja #2

Set after the time of King Arthur, in the ashes of the land following the fall of Camelot, Immortal Red Sonja continues with Sonja wandering the landscape in search of Merlyn while having to deal with narration and dialogue from her cursed chain mail. After losing her sword in besting a centaur in combat, Sonja comes to a lake and gets a new sword from the Lady of the Lake (but doesn't pay enough attention to the fine print in their agreement which she quickly struggles to live up to).

The Hardy Boys - A Disappearance

The Hardy Boys returns for a Second Season with some leftover questions about the mysterious artifact from the show's First Season, now in possession of a different evil businessman, and the disappearance of one of Frank (Rohan Campbell) and Joe's (Alexander Elliot) classmates that gets the extremely bored younger Hardy back on the case of solving a mystery, despite the fact that no one is all that keen on him look into things (including his brother). The tension between the boys is dealt with fairly quickly, but it does cause Joe to go off with Biff (Riley O’Donnell) and Phil (Cristian Perri), putting them in danger before being rescued by Frank and ultimately leading to finding the missing Dennis (Leonidas Castrounis).

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #292

Dr. Mindbender and the two characters who carry on the legacy of Snake Eyes are highlighted in G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #292. As the completion of the Cobra Casino gets closer, Mindbender turns his attention back to his private experiments including making Cobra their own version of Snake Eyes and rectifying an old mistake by creating a more effective version of Serpentor using new DNA found of some of history's best tacticians and most powerful warriors. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Night Sky - To the Stars

The opening episode of the Amazon series Night Sky introduces us to Irene (Sissy Spacek) and Franklin York (J.K. Simmons), a couple late in life who, many years ago, discovered a strange chamber buried in their backyard which can transport them to an observation station light years away on a deserted planet. Facing the struggles of advanced age, and concern for their well being from both family and doctors, the pair have carefully guarded their secret for decades but now must consider the possibility of leaving the wonders found across the universe behind.

Seven Secrets #17

The series pauses for its penultimate issue, exploring the past of Eva and Caspar on the eve of the resurrection of her son (who is no longer her son), before the next issue's big climax between the two secret organizations over the secrets and the fate of the world. It turns out Caspar is indeed Eva's son, and was born human although the Seventh Secret went into him while still in the hospital and has been waiting for the right time to emerge. No time like the present.

Niconico Chokaigi 2022 Cosplay Video

Kung Fu - The Enclave

Knowing that Russell Tan (Kee Chan) is after a large mallet as the next piece of his plan, Nicky (Olivia Liang) and her friends hatch a plan to (rather easily) sneak into the secret organization's private party and swap out the real hammer for a facsimile that her parents help build. Things go fairly well until the scene Tan causes stealing the fake hammer revealing Nicky and leading to a downward spiral in which Tan leaves with his prize, Nicky's brother gets shot, and Mia (Vanessa Yao) turns to Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman) for a more permanent solution to her Tan problems.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers

More than once while watching Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers I wondered to myself who this movie is for? The short-lived TV-series which ran from 1989-1990 gets a reboot of sorts here in a bizarre set up which mergers two-dimensional animated characters, three-dimensional CGI characters, and real actors. It's kind of like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, in terms of setup and a mystery to be solved, except it never finds a way to blend its various elements into a cohesive whole.

After a bit of backstory explaining the end of the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers TV-show, the now estranged Dale (Andy Samberg) and Chip (John Mulaney) reunite to find their missing friend Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) who they believe has been sold into bootlegging animation. Because you know what kids these days love? Apparently nostalgia and ham-fisted lectures on the evils of piracy and bootlegging. Who knew?

Firestarter

The rather forgettable 80s horror flick about about a young girl able to start fires with her mind isn't a bad choice for a remake. The 1984 movie's limited budget and special effects certainly could be improved upon. However, nearly 40 years later Hollywood has managed to make an even worse adaptation of the Stephen King novel.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Superman & Lois - Truth and Consequences

Picking up from the cliffhanger of the previous episode, "Truth and Consequences" features the Kents fighting off the evil Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) from the parallel Earth hoping to merge with his doppelganger. The merge is prevented thanks to Jonathan's brother and father, making sure that the moody and powerless version of Jonathan doesn't get any more interesting any time soon. In terms of larger plots, the episode is most notable for Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) rescuing Lana (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and later deciding to share his secret with her, giving her some context to the hidden side of Clark Kent she's never been able to understand. Is this a one-off, or are we going to see Clark make any further admissions (despite what he saw happen on the Bizarro world)?

Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #1

Moon Knight is the latest character to get a black-and-white anthology mini-series featuring a collection of separate stories in monotone punctuated by splashes of red. The highlight of Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #1 is "So White. Yet, So Dark" in which an annoyed Moon Knight allows Spider-Man to tag along on some "Egyptian stuff" involving someone attempting to bring Anubis into the world waiting for Spidey's chance to ask for a pretty humorous favor from Mr. Knight.

Naomi - Who Am I?

The finale of Naomi sends the show's title character back to her Earth to deal with the boogeyman Brutus (Ray Porter) whose minions have kidnapped her parents and allies as leverage. With only her high school friends as support, Naomi (Kaci Walfall) manages to free the others and make a stand against against the monster responsible for destroying the world she was born on before returning home to face the reveal of an awful truth that will apparently end not only the season but the series as well (as the show has not been renewed for a second season). Hitting the hero's journey moments over the course of the episode, Naomi ends the episode in far more control of her powers, and a better understanding of what it means to be a hero, than at any point in the series.

Friday, May 13, 2022

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero - Saturday Morning Adventures #3

Cobra Commander's plan is actually working? He's been able to make off with much of the US gold reserves and retreat to Cobra's base in Guam with still one last wish left him. While the Joes organize for an assault, the closest team is Quick Kick, Snake Eyes, Spirit, and Shipwreck sent in first to find and rescue Duke not realizing Storm Shadow, Firefly, and a legion of Cobra troops are waiting for them.

Black Site

Have you ever watched a movie where your primary reaction is feeling sorry for everyone involved in the project? I know actors need to work to pay their bills, but surely everyone here could have found something more dignified. Perhaps porn or selling autographs at a fifth-rate convention? Really anything would have been better than Black Site.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Batman: Killing Time #3

While there's much to like in Batman: Killing Time #3, I'm not overly fond of the way the story continually jumps around the timeline making it harder to get an overall feel of the story (especially for someone who hasn't read the first two issues of the six-issue mini-series). What it does deliver, in somewhat random order, is an experienced fighter with the unfortunate name of the Help who bests a young Batman in combat after being sent to retrieve something stolen from the hospitalized Penguin.

The Blacklist - The Bear Mask

"The Bear Mask" gives us an acid trip fueled time loop as Aram's (Amir Arison) choice to move forward with some experimental hallucinogenic therapy traps him in a loop where the team is continuously under attack by unknown assailants (who turn out to be led by his darker unconscious). At least he seems to have gotten some inner peace from the stressful situation. Reddington's (James Spader) story take place outside the loop and confirms Mr. Kaplan wasn't in the explosion leaving questions looming as to the identity of the adversary is working against him (could it eventually turn out to be Kaplan, or is that just a smokescreen to hide the truth of someone nearly as close who knows as much about Reddington's operation as his former friend?).

Uncharted

Despite its title, Uncharted takes us on a journey of well-trod treasure hunting involving Nate Drake (Tom Holland) being pulled into a search for the legendary lost treasure of Magellan which he and his brother once fantasized about finding as kids. Teamed up with various untrustworthy and unscrupulous hunters, each after the treasure for their own reasons, Uncharted follows the basic path of the genre with various clues needing to be solved to move the characters to the next step on their journey to the treasure.

Holland brings the same boyish charm from the Spider-Man films, often getting himself in over his head despite knowing more than any of the other hunters (including Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Antonio Banderas, and various unamed thugs) seeking the treasure. Nate is no Indiana Jones, or even Benjamin Franklin Gates, but Uncharted was more amusing than expected.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Wheel of Time - The Dark Along the Ways

Setting up the season finale, our cast of would-be Dragons, with the exception of Mat (Barney Harris), follow the exiled Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) through a waygate to the fortress city of Fal Dara in "The Dark Along the Ways." There the group will earn a short respite while one of the group will admit a truth to themselves with the help of the town's seer (Kae Alexander), and the events for the finale will be set in motion.

Once and Future #25

With Duncan, Bridgette, and Rose having joined Robin Hood and his Merry Men (which turns out to have some advantages to our heroes aside from fodder to throw at the various Arthurs battling over which of them will pull the sword from the stone), our heroes continue to fight the good fight while trying to stay alive. As fans have grown to expect there's a mix of fun and craftiness in Once and Future #25 including how Bridgette gets our trio signed up with Robin Hood (and what she's really after in joining his merry little band).

Wolf Like Me - Episode 6

The First Season of Wolf Like Me concludes with a camping trip for Mary (Isla Fisher), Gary (Josh Gad), and Emma (Ariel Donoghue) a little too close to the next full moon than any reasonable person might tempt fate. Of course, something goes wrong (car trouble) and Emma discovers the secret of her father's girlfriend in the most horrifying way possible. Still finding a way end on an upbeat of understanding and acceptance, the finale suggests the family will face its unusual struggles in the future but can survive them (as longas Mary doesn't eat them both). The show has been renewed for another season, so it looks like there will be time to explore where things go from here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Rocketeer: The Great Race #2

The second issue of The Rocketeer: The Great Race introduces us to both of Cliff's main rivals in the race (one of whom he's not aware is also one of the Nazis the Rocketeer recently had a run-in with) before also giving us the first leg of the race in which Cliff's flying gets him to second place but his impulsive nature may land him in deep trouble. And, of course, there's plenty of the regular tension between our hero and Betty.

Legacies - Into the Woods

After getting her butt kicked by a god, Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) spends a little recovery time in Limbo leading to a reunion with Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) whose own path out of Limbo looks to far more complicated than he expected. The calm before the next conflict with the gods is really just an excuse to get these two star-crossed kids back together for a moment before sending them back on their own adventures. Of the various B-stories, the one with immediate consequences involves Ken (Luke Mitchell) striking a partnership with Aurora de Martel (Rebecca Breeds) to kill the tribrid (although, as yet, neither knows how this can be accomplished). It's of note for Ben sharing a bit of his life with her suggesting that in Aurora's twisted mind his choices towards his children did indeed makes sense, or, just perhaps, his offspring aren't the innocent victims they've portrayed themselves to be.

Red Sitha #1

Sitha, the character introduced in the current volume of Red Sonja and adopted by the She-Devil with a Sword, gets her own title. Set a decade after the events in Red Sonja, with no Sonja in sight, Red Sitha a grown into a bounty hunter in her own right with more than a few similarities to Sonja including a knack for taking hard jobs, living and playing too hard, and getting herself into trouble.

Tuesday with Chloe Bennet

Chloe Bennet is an American actress and singer best known for her role as Quake on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Photo by Eric Ray Davidson.

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Flash - Death Falls

"Death Falls" features a big battle between Team Flash and Deathstorm. Team Flash will come out on top, as an enhanced Frost (Danielle Panabaker) proves up to the task to fight off the evil shadow monster that preys on grief and has recently taken on the form of Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell). The episode is structure very much like a Halloween episode (odd for Spring, but whatever) with the evil Deathstorm torturing the various heroes to elicit grief in plans of making Frost's doppelganger his bride (do evil cloud monsters need brides?).

Silk #4

After being aged decades by a resurrected Korean witch, Cindy Moon limps home only to discover even her own brother doesn't recognize her. Unable to complete understand what was done to her, let alone find a way to release it, and facing further disappointment after being unable to even stop a mugger leaves our heroine down in the dumps. Oh, and that witch that took her youth? She's returned to the museum to perform some kind of doomsday ritual.

NCIS: Hawai'i - Nightwatch

In terms of larger storylines, "Nightwatch" continues the post-break-up of Lucy (Yasmine Al-Bustami) and Whistler (Tori Anderson) as Whistler being put in danger forces some of Lucy's buried feelings to the surface, but she isn't able to forgive her former lover. I like these two together but the show is falling into a rut. Either put them back together, which would be my choice, or move on (which finally, maybe, but probably not really, seems to be the choice at the end of the episode).

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Endgame - Happily Ever After

The Endgame concludes its ten-episode season with the culmination of Elena Federova's (Morena Baccarin) plan, Owen Turner (Kamal Angelo Bolden) being returned to his wife, and Val (Ryan Michelle Bathe) being beaten by her new friend. Then things take a late swerve in a desperate attempt for the show to earn a second season teasing the possibility of Elena and Val working together to save Elena's daughter who is kidnapped by the true boogeymen of the series. The structure of this season was all about a battle of wits while hiding what Elena was really after. It worked at times, and failed nearly as often, but, despite my love for Baccarin, I don't know that I have the energy for another go-round.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

A new volume of Amazing Spider-Man begins here falling back on classic Spider-Man tropes. Peter Parker's life is a mess. His friends feel ignored, Aunt May is disappointed, the super-hero community wants nothing to do with him, he's without a single job prospect, and MJ is shacking up with some guy and his kids. If it all feels a bit familiar, it's because it is.

Moon Knight - Gods and Monsters

Given the time Moon Knight has taken meandering its way to a final conflict, perhaps it was inevitable that the finale would be rushed. Still, "Gods and Monsters" succeeds in what's needed by returning Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) and, somewhat surprisingly, Steven Grant back to the land of the living to take on Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) and Ammit (Saba Mubarak). Layla (May Calamawy) gets a power upgrade as well by becoming the (temporary?) avatar of Taweret (Antonia Salib) although the god doesn't show up herself to help Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham), and her help would have been appreciated. While their god isn't done with Marc and Steven, given how much Layla enjoyed being an Egyptian super-hero it's unclear whether or not she could decide to continue on as an avatar.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Detective Comics #1059

When is a criminal not a criminal? That's the question an old nemesis asks all of Gotham City. A new arc and mystery begins in Detective Comics #1059 as the Riddler takes to the airwaves with a series of puzzles for Gotham just as the city is hit by a wave of amateur crime including the attempted bombing of a Gotham City judge during a sentencing hearing. 

Tokyo Vice - The Test

There is no murder in Japan. Based on the real experiences of American journalist Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) working in Tokyo (although earning scrutiny for the liberties it takes with the source material), the first episode of Tokyo Vice introduces us to Jake who earns his way as the first foreign reporter for a conservative Japanese newspaper. Covering the crime beat, Jake struggles with how crime is reported in Japan where the press print the official police statement of a crime which almost never entertains the possibility of murder (even for a man stabbed multiple times and left for dead).

Revenge of the Fifth 2022 Awesome Pack

Also check out Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Pack 4, Pack 5, Pack 6, Pack 7, Pack 8, Pack 9, Pack 10, Pack 11, Pack 12, Pack 13, Pack 14, Pack 15, Pack 16, Pack 17, Pack 18, Pack 19, Pack 20, Pack 21, Pack 22, Star Wars Day 2019 Pack, Revenge of the Fifth Pack, and the Star Wars Disney Princess Pack.

The Blacklist - Laszlo Jankowics

In an episode where the task force looks to take down an insane dealer in psychedelic drugs, The Blacklist continues to tease the possible return of Mr. Kaplan. While the cliffhanger seems to suggest Kaplan is still alive, it seems also quite possible someone is gaslighting Reddington (James Spader) and taking on the identity of his old associate for their own reasons (possibly with inside help?). Whether or not it is Kaplan, or some new threat, it's obvious the threat of this new player is quite real and whoever it might be they seem to have far too much knowledge of Raymond's organization.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Following the likes of WandaVision, Loki, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Moon Knight, and The Eternals, Marvel Studios continues to push Phase Four in new and different ways. While not everything has been as strong as some of the earlier core Marvel titles, it certainly hasn't been boring. In many ways, you could refer to Phase Four of the MCU as Marvel Studios' experimental teenage years. Enter director Sam Raimi.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Starward #1

The first issue of Starward introduces us to pre-med student an part-time lifeguard Stephanie Cohen on her 20th birthday on which she experiences something quite peculiar when she faints, falls to the bottom of the pool, doesn't drown, and wakes up to a whole new reality as an extradimensional warrior with a destiny. Along with six unknown "sisters" whom she must find, Stephanie is tasked with returning the demon Kaos back to his reality prison.

Mystery Incorporated - Welcome to Coolsville

There are several issues when attempting a live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo. When taking the characters out of a half-hour cartoon and placing them in a feature film or ongoing hour-long drama, you have to think about why this unusual collection of meddling kids (none of whom look high-school age) are actually hanging out together. The solution for the Mystery Incorporated series is to kill off a couple of parents and bring together the group to solve the mystery. That means for most of this first episode the characters are left on their own various, not all that interesting, subplots that almost all revolve around some kind of bullying at the school.

The Magic Sword

The goofy 60s fantasy film The Magic Sword stars Gary Lockwood as an orphan raised by a sorceress (Estelle Winwood) who steals a number of magical gifts from his foster mother to save the princess (Anne Helm) he's fallen in love with from afar when she is abducted by an evil sorcerer (Basil Rathbone) who has a habit of kidnapping princesses and feeding them to his dragon. Armed with a magic sword, armor, and steed, along with chivalrous knights, Sir George begins his quest to fight through the seven curses put in place by the sorcerer while also dealing with a traitor in his midst.

The magical effects, as you may guess, are pretty limited for the time and haven't aged that well, likely one of the reasons the movie earned a spot on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (although two of the characters admitted it was better than they expected).

Monday, May 2, 2022

Superman & Lois - Bizarros in a Bizarro World

"Bizarros in a Bizarro World" is a fever dream of an episode as Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) arrives on Bizarro Earth in an attempt to prevent Ally Allston (Rya Kihlstedt) from merging with her other half. Slowly weaking on the cube world with a red sun, Superman's mission fails in part when he is betrayed by family as Ally gets exactly what she wants and sends her disciple back to Earth to follow in her footsteps. We get multiple vignettes here exploring the Bizarro version of these characters including a noble Tal-Rho (Adam Rayner) and a murderous Jonathan (Jordan Elsass). The episode ends a cliffhanger threating to turn the Jonathan of Earth into a far more interesting character.

Usagi Yojimbo: Lone Goat and Kid #4

Part 2 of "Blood Wings," Usagi Yojimbo: Lone Goat and Kid #4 opens with Miyamoto Usagi captured by the Komorai Ninja as the rabbit ronin attempts to dissuade them from attacking the gold shipment. Usagi's bluff that the village knows of their attack gains him the necessary time to escape and Usagi decides to warn the village rather than the caravan carrying the gold who he is already too late to save.

The Wheel of Time - The Dragon Reborn

"The Dragon Reborn" introduces the most interesting character of the show's First Season, who sadly will be dealt with all too soon. Believing himself to be the Dragon reborn into this life, the powerful Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte) has drawn an army of followers to his side. Captured by the Aes Sedai who are using all their power to keep him caged and hidden from his army, eventually Ablar will break free offering exactly the situation Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) giving the more militant member of the group the ability to deliver justice to Ablar in the field rather than return him for trial.