Sunday, December 31, 2023

Maggie Moore(s)

The plot of Maggie Moore(s) makes for an intriguing trailer but a deeply flawed movie. The plot involves the death of two different women named Maggie Moore in the same small town exactly one week apart. There are basically two-halves of the story stuck together with scotch tape and a prayer with a romance subplot thrown in as well creating a film with enjoyable moments here and there but more than a few issues it simply can't overcome.

In one thread, we see Police Chief Jordan Sanders (Jon Hamm) and Deputy Reddy (Nick Mohammed) investigating each of the murders, even after getting a confession to both which could close both cases. In the other, we see our "mastermind" behind both killings in failing restauranter dipshit Andy (Christopher Denham) who gets himself in hot water with his wife, the first Maggie (Mary Holland), among others, and hires our hitter (Happy Anderson) to take care of the situation. And then hires him again. And again.


Leo starts with the same premise of one of my favorite films from one of my favorite years of movies. Joseph Vijay stars as a shop owner who defends his cafe against armed intruders. News of the event, however, brings out even more trouble. First we get the wave of violence from the dead robbers' friends and family which only draws more attention to the reclusive Parthiban. This brings the attention of a criminal empire who believes this local hero to be a mass murderer known as Leo.

Friday, December 29, 2023

The Holdovers

From director Alexander Payne comes this tale of an unlikely group of miserable people spending the holiday break together. In a Summer School-esque setup, we get Paul Giamatti as a frumpy history teacher at a prestigious New England boarding school dragged into filling in as the faculty member necessary to stay around while the rest of faculty and students return home for the winter holiday. Everyone's least favorite teacher, Mr. Hunham (Giamatti) is paired with one of the school's most unruly students (Dominic Sessa), abandoned by his family at the last-minute, and the school's head cook (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) still grieving the loss of her son.

While we get a handful of other students sticking around for the first 40-minutes or so, and a janitor who comes and goes, circumstances leave these three as the main focus of the film, each with reason to be resentful at the world and each other for their present circumstances and each learning a bit about each other over the two weeks.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #302

Although they refer to themselves as mutants, call we all just admit this feels an awful lot like G.I JOE ZOMBIES? Picking up from the previous issue, G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #302 gives us Zombie Serpentor (as I will be referring to him from here on) taking control of the mutanized rabble on Cobra Island from where he plans to lead his troops on a quest to first take over the rest of Cobra and then the world. It's exactly what you would expect a zombie horror comic of G.I. JOE to be.

Reacher - Picture Says a Thousand Words / A Night at the Symphony

The third and fourth episodes of Reacher's Second Season lead the remaining reunited 110th Special Investigators Unit tracing back their clues to New Age where Swan (Shannon Kook) worked prior to his disappearance. The thread of Reacher (Alan Ritchson) beating up a cop gets picked up as he finds himself held by Detective Russo (Domenick Lombardozzi) for a few hours before eventually agreeing to work with Reacher as long as he and his comrades don't do anything crazy... like, for example, break into New Age and steal the documents and computer servers they can get their hands on. 

Darth Vader #41

Picking up the story with Darth Vader having been infected by Scourge as part of the Dark Droids crossover continues. Darth Vader #41 basically features a battle of wills between the Dark Lord of the Sith and the droid virus which attempts to convince Vader to let go of his remaining humanity and embrace what Scourge offers while Vader uses Scourge's own droid virus to turn droids to his control leading to lots of carnage but basically a standstill with an epilogue teasing the storyline which will begin after this arc concludes.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - Will the Real May Please Stand Up?

From the episode's title, you can probably guess that this is the episode the dives into May's (Kiersey Clemons) past and explores what she's been running from. Given the foreshadowing and build-up, the reveal is a bit underwhelming but how events of the episode unfold do have ripples across the MonsterVerse beyond just this series as it relates to Applied Experimental Technologies. Needing help finding the friend they basically already abandoned, Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe) team up with Tim (Joe Tippett) eventually leading to Monarch stepping in and helping procure her release, allowing her to rejoin the halfsiblings in their search.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Redder #6

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Redder #6 provides our final three tales of Harley Quinn's wacky adventures in black and white (and red). We get Harley helping the Bat-Family and also breaking the fourth wall to talk to the reader discussing her various incarnations over the years and present motivations in a very Deadpool-like "Harleys All the Way Down" before stopping the crazy plot by Dr. De-Extinquisher King whose giant robotic Dodo, with Nightwing and dynamite strapped to it, is running wild over Gotham City.

Doctor Who - The Church on Ruby Road

The last of the four holiday specials, "The Church on Ruby Road" marks the first adventure of the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and the introduction of his next companion in Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) and her adopted mother (Michelle Greenidge). Ignoring for now the rather obvious comparisons between Ruby and Rose, Gibson's story also comes with a mysterious heritage whose foreshadowing looms large over the episode. While I think it's possible the identity of her parents won't play a major role in her arc, I don't think it's all that likely. While that provides one mystery, another is raised in the identity of the Sunday's neighbor (Anita Dobson) who knows more than your average person about time travel and the TARDIS.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Color Purple

Taken from the Broadway musical which was itself adapted from Alice Walker's 1982 novel, we meet Celie (Fantasia Barrino) who, like the other African-American women in the story, is treated rather shabbily over the first two-thirds of the film by men before standing up for herself to her abuser (Colman Domingo) and, at least in this version, having her story turn on a dime (which may or may not give you whiplash) where she receives everything she could ever have wished for over the film's final act.

The film's musical numbers are crowd pleasers to be sure, but they mostly undercut the drama of events rather than enforce them with one or two exceptions. Even with this issue, the film still sticks the emotional climax leading into the film's final number of "The Color Purple." Other than Celie and the abusive Mister (Domingo) we don't get to spend that much time with the other characters, many of whom are fairly thinly written, placing hurdles for our actors to properly flesh them out. That said, the performances are solid throughout.

Monday, December 25, 2023

The Boys in the Boat

As director, George Clooney has tackled period pieces before (see Leatherheads, The Monuments Men, and the terrific Good Night, and Good Luck). This time Clooney follows the journey of Joe Rantz (Callum Turner) who joins the University of Washington junior varsity rowing team not out of any love for the sport but as a way to help cover his tuition during the lean years of the Great Depression. Rowing, or crew, isn't the most cinematic of sports, but the screenplay by Mark L. Smith which adapts Daniel James Brown's non-fiction novel, plays on the intense conditioning, hard work, and teamwork of the sport with the JV crew the underdog team at a university of underdogs with much to prove to themselves and others.

The Boys in the Boat is a solid sports film that captures the look and feel of the time period with strong cinematography from Alexandre Desplat. Sadly, it gets a little lost in its final act after the team achieves their big victory only to be thrown into the 1936 Olympics where our period drama is replaced by hokey nationalism.

Sunday, December 24, 2023


The attempt to tell the origin story for Roald Dahl's famous eccentric chocolatier is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand we get Timothée Chalamet as the still naive young man seeking his fortune creating chocolate for the world to enjoy which provides the heart of the film. There's enough here that we can see the possibility of this version of Willy Wonka growing into the far more gruff character we see played by Gene Wilder. On the other hand we're left with a script that turns out to have little to do with chocolate and more to do with crazy antics, involving bumbling bad guys, really only suited for small children.

Friday, December 22, 2023

The Iron Claw

When asked by his girlfriend (Lily James) what he wants out of life, Kevin Von Erich (Zac Efron) states his desire to simply spend time with his brothers. Brought up in wresting by their father Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany), Kevin, David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), and Mike (Stanley Simons) wrestled as part of the Von Erich promotion World Class Championship Wrestling with Fritz pushing his sons to their limits and beyond while ranking and tempering his love for his sons by how each performed in the ring.

The Iron Claw is a modern day tragedy for a family that saw more than its share. What follows would be morbidly humorous if it weren't so desperately sad. Kevin mentions a Von Erich curse which could be easily dismissed but given the events which occurred it's hard to fault his superstitions (and that's with the film removing the tragedy of the youngest Von Erich and briefly mentioning the death of Fritz's oldest son who died before being old enough to step into a ring, for concerns over the screenplay's length).

Poor Things

Welcome back to the weird world of writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos whose latest bizarre tale offers us Emma Stone as the reincarnated corpse of a woman with the brain of a baby brought back to life by mad scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Rechristened Bella, the restless young woman eventually desires to leave the confines of Victorian London heading out in the world with smitten scoundrel Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo) despite the affections of Baxter's assistant (Ramy Youssef) for her.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Percy Jackson and the Olympians - I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher

Much like the 2010 movie that preceded it, and its equally disappointing sequel 3 years later, this new adaptation of Percy Jackson feels every bit the YA novel it sprang from. Where the first movie attempted to cram a novel into a under two-hour movie, Disney+ goes a bit overboard the other direction in choosing to stretch the first book of the young adult fantasy series across 8 hours. As a result, there's not a whole lot of interest in this first episode which boils down to the origin story without yet providing any details or explanation for the magical world which helped sire its main character.

Fallen Leaves

Written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, Fallen Leaves gives us two lonely souls (Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen) wandering  in and out of each others lives, and various jobs they each work to get by in modern day Helsinki. By a series of circumstances, some of which they control, others of which they cannot, and many of which border on comical, they are kept apart for most of the film.

Set in Finland, with radio news constantly reporting of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, and much of the film focused on the drudgery of everyday life undercut by a dry humor that never overwhelms the sad but hopeful drama of our pair of would-be lovers, Fallen Leaves is an unconventional romance. However, there's never a doubt that if Ansa and Holappa can just get their shit together there's enough between them to build a life. At only 81 minutes, there's enough time for us to judge whether or not the pair will work, but not enough to see them either succeed or fail, allowing the film to end with the same wistful hopefulness found in many of its earlier scenes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Moon Knight #30

And so we come to the end. More of an extended epilogue (with a couple additional epilogues thrown in at the end) than a final issue, we get the gloating and reasoning of the Black Spectre and the death of Moon Knight to prevent the former friend turned super-villain's attack on New York City. We also get Zodiac making a deal with the Midnight Mission, a Leverage-style tease for Marc's former comrades continuing on without him, and a final word from writer Jed MacKay who promises the journey isn't over just yet.

Reacher - What Happens in Atlantic City

As Reacher (Alan Ritchson) continues to look into the death of an old friend, he gets the band back together by tracking down those members of the 110th Special Investigators Unit he can find before heading off to Las Vegas in search of two more old friends who have gone missing. "What Happens in Atlantic City" is most notable for the addition of Dixon (Serinda Swann) to Reacher's posse and for Reacher taking strong measures towards the man, and his car, who has been tailing them not realizing it's a cop (a thread which will be picked up in the next episode). Considering what Reacher and Dixon do to the other men they catch following them later in the episode, the cop got off easy.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - Terrifying Miracles

After more of a concentration on current events and flashbacks into the pasts of Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe), "Terrifying Miracles" brings back the 50s storyline with flashbacks that run through several import moments in Monarch history. We get a holiday party flashback to party in the 50s party which teases the romantic undercurrent between Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) and Lee (Wyatt Russell) which plays into a later flashback when Lee chooses Keiko over Monarch pushing control of the organization into the bigoted military officer played by Matthew MacCaull who doubts every aspect of it. The flashbacks also show the return of Godzilla, a secret Lee chooses to keep from the military given the shake-up within the organization.

Space Usagi: Death and Honor #1

Rabbit Ronin in SPAAAAAAAAAAACE! Recollecting the early 90s comic series centered around a descendant of Miyamoto Usagi known as Commander Usagi as a general of the Shirohoshi Clan's space fleet and mentoring young Prince Kiyoshi who has been targeted by assassins of a rival clan about to make their play against Lord Hideaki, Space Usagi: Death and Honor #1 kicks off the three-issue tale for the first time printed in color.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Bob's Burgers - The Nightmare 2 Days Before Christmas

After losing power in both their home and restaurant, Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) reluctantly puts them up in his family's unused hunting lodge. With Louise (Kristen Schaal) concerned how Santa will find her and Linda (John Roberts) resistant to any change from their normal holiday schedule, there are plenty of challenges for the Belcher's especially after loosing their family Christmas tree on the icy mountain roads which Linda refuses to leave alone in the wilderness.

Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat

This one-shot holiday special set in 1990 from writer/artist Matt Smith takes Hellboy to Reykjavik to investigate the appearance of a giant cat which locals believe to be the Jólakötturinn, or Yule Cat, from Icelandic Christmas folklore, which appears around the end of the year to eat naughty children at Christmas time. Sadly, the issue doesn't end with Hellboy getting a new pet cat.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - The Complete Second Season

Returning for its sophomore voyage, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds features more adventures for Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Highlights from the season include the trial of Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) whose career in Starfleet is threatened after the truth about her genetic engineering is revealed. We also get another wacky Spock (Ethan Peck) romance episode when an accident leaves him human without the Vulcan half just as T'Pring (Gia Sandhu) and her disapproving parents arrive. The episode also explores the mutual feelings between the Enterprise's Science Officer and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush).

The season's most notable episode is the tremendously enjoyable "Subspace Rhapsody" which offers characters bursting into song after exposure to a subspace field. Although it garnered a mixed response, it worked better for me than the season finale that nearly throws its back out attempting to create a "Best of Both Worlds" cliffhanger.

White Widow #2

Yelena's new life in the suburbs gives us a trip to the farmer's market, discussions with her neighbors about corporations, assassins at her door, and Armament taking a forceful approach in an attempt to kick Yelena out of Idyllhaven. White Widow #2 is another fun issue starting with a flashback of Yelena dealing with another assassin also sent to kill Wolverine who offers some off-the-cuff advice that has changed the assassin's career path.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Adam Savage Talks Muppets

The Law According to Lidia Poët - Episode 1

Matilda De Angelis stars as Lidia Poët, the first modern female Italian lawyer who saw the laws changed to prevent her practicing on grounds women shouldn't be allowed to practice. While barred from arguing her own cases, Poët continued in the profession working in her brother's offices or relying on other male colleagues to argue her cases in court. The first episode of the series runs through the gamut of Lidia becoming a lawyer, seeing it stripped away on the basis of sex, and working to find a way to continue the profession and help out a sole client charged with the murder of a ballerina.

Spider-Gwen: Smash #1

Having returned to her home dimension, Gwen sets off on a tour when The Mary Janes are hired to be the opening act for Dazzler and the Uncut Gems who it turns out are more interested in having Ghost-Spider around than the other band. After so much multiverse hopping, it's interesting to see Gwen struggle to settle back down while questioning if home is still really home any more.

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 1

Adapted from the manga of the same name, Yu Yu Hakusho introduces us to troubled but honorable teen Yusuke Urameshi (Takumi Kitamura) who dies in the first episode and returns to life as a spirit detective to investigate appearances of Yōkai and demons escaping from the underworld through a giant pit. Given that so much of the episode focuses on Yusuke's life prior to death, we get to know far more about him than the odd circumstances he finds himself in. Originally fine with moving on to heaven or hell and forgoing the offer to return, our protagonist agrees to help save those he left behind.

The Boy and the Heron

The latest from writer/director Hayao Miyazaki follows a familiar formula of a child dragged into an unusual and magical world. Based on experiences Miyazaki had as a child with loss, the film is a personal one for him with a message of striving to overcome grief and loss and the growth from childhood into adulthood by learning to unselfishly care for others.

In the case of The Boy and the Heron, our protagonist is young Mahito (Soma Santoki). After the death of his mother in a hospital fire during the Pacific War, Mahito's father (Takuya Kimura) moves the two out of Tokyo and into the countryside where the widower's sister-in-law (Yoshino Kimura) is waiting to become his new wife, and Mahito's new mother. With his father busy with the war effort, Mahito is left mostly to himself, especially after an incident at school. On the grounds of the estate, Mahito will come across a Grey Heron (Masaki Suda) interested in pushing the young boy toward the mysterious tower where his granduncle (Shōhei Hino) disappeared years ago.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Man, chickens are stupid. Or, depending on the scene in question, they are highly intelligent and skilled. For the plot of this film, both premises will need to be equally true. Feeling very much a straight-to-video sequel, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget features the return of Ginger (Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) and their friends who have carved out a safe community for their daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey). Telling her nothing of the horrors of the outside world, any of which could have prevented all the events which follow, a curious and rebellious Molly sets out to discover a world where chickens seem happy in buckets (did I mention chickens are stupid?).

To the rescue comes Molly's parents and their odd assortment of friends who break into the uber-secure chicken processing plant whose head scientist (Nick Mohammed) has brainwashed its inhabitants to be happy and well fed before being led to the slaughter (did I mention chickens are highly intelligent?).

An Ode to Die Hard

Hulu provides an ode to everyone's favorite Christmas movie.

Batman #428 (Robin Lives!)

In the climax of 1988's A Death in the Family the Joker killed Robin, but what if he didn't? Part of the most unique marketing campaign ever considered for a comic book, DC Comics let fans decide whether or not Jason Todd should live or die. To meet the demands of publishing, and to hide the truth about which story was coming, two versions of the comic were created and printing was held off until the last minute. When the vote was tabulated and fans had chosen to let Robin die, that issue hit the stands and the other was put away... until now.

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Mission

The Mission tackles the preventable killing of missionary John Allen Chau whose death was caused by hubris wrapped in a flag of faith which even his own family saw as troubling. Buying into the Evangelical idea to forcibly spread the word of Christianity across the globe led the 26 year-old missionary fueled in part by propaganda on a hairbrained scheme of invading one of the most isolated islands left on the planet despite the obstacles in his way.

Interviewing Chau's parents, friends, and mentors, while also narrating and animating events from the missionary's recovered journal, directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss attempt to make sense out of the tragedy. Trapped under the misconception he could save savages who would welcome him and accept Jesus Christ, Chau ignored common sense and personal safety. Believing Chau to be at worst a potential martyr, too many enabled his plan. While interviews with experts point out several flaws in Chau's mission, the church itself (and those who aided him) take no responsibility for its deadly outcome.

Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles

Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles takes a look back at the 30 year run of the Australian children's music group with interviews from original members Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page, and Jeff Fatt along with others who stepped in over the years to keep the brand going strong. Having released multiple Platinum albums, the group are combination of The Beatles and Mr. Rogers bringing music and entertainment to preschool audiences over video, television, concerts and even their own movie.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Asteroid City

Writer/director Wes Anderson leans into his quirks and fancies in this 1950s live television production of a play set in the fictional town of Asteroid City. We learn very little about the actors themselves. While most of the events take place in the play itself, characters occasionally break the fourth wall revealing themselves to be the production's actors and occasionally narration will stop to explain information about the play's writer Conrad Earp (Edward Norton).

The characters of the play, most who arrive in the city at the same time for honoring teenagers in science, include Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman), his son Woodrow (Jake Ryan) and daughters, actress Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) and her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards). Both Woodrow and Midge are there to be honored for their scientific knowledge along with others who include Aristou Meehan, Ethan Josh Lee, and Sophia Lillis. We also get Tom Hanks as Augie's father-in-law and Maya Hawke as a teacher corralling a busload of kids.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Obliterated - Born in the U.S.S.R.

So it's like The Hangover, but spies. I would bet that was the pitch for Obliterated which takes the now drunk, high, and hungover special forces crew on the hunt for a missing nuclear weapon. Despite being obvious to everyone, except apparently their superiors (who appear oblivious their drunken behavior), that the group are not up for the challenge the misfits are back on the case with even more infighting, bickering, and getting in each other's way while stumbling, mostly through dumb luck, on a lead. What I can say is that two episodes in, Obliterated knows what it is and doesn't feel the need to be anything more than raunchy fun (with more obligatory nudity to try and save a lagging story) against the backdrop of a terrorist attack and humor that is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is. With writing this lazy, it's heard not to feel a little sorry for everyone involved.

Usagi Yojimbo: Ice and Snow #3

While Usagi Yojimbo: Ice and Snow #3 does include Miyamoto Usagi and Yukichi, their part of the story is largely secondary with Usagi attempting to warm his friend after surviving the attack of the Yuki-Onna. Unable to leave the home of the woman of the snows until Yukichi recovers, the pair will wait for trouble which will likely soon find them.

Reacher - ATM

The unbending justice of former military investigator Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) continues with the show's return for a Second Season. The episode gets its name from the short introductory interlude which reminds returning viewers just who Reacher is and also works as an introduction to new viewers when our good Samaritan helps out with a situation involving a carjacking and an ATM machine. Reacher's time in the military was referenced multiple times in the show's First Season, but the mystery he'll find himself in the middle this time around will allow for flashbacks to those days in with the 110th Special Investigators Unit filling in more of the character's backstory.

Mavka: The Forest Song

After years of being separated, the human world and the magical world of the forest are brought back together in Mavka: The Forest Song. A nymph of Spring, Mavka (Laurie Hymes) and her people are distrustful of humans, their greed, an their destruction, causing the magical creatures to exile them from their realm until the arrival of the goodhearted Lukas (Eddy Lee) searching for a cure for his sick uncle and the not so goodhearted Kylina (Elena Kravets) and her minions looking for the secret of eternal youth and power.

The animation is a bit hit-and-miss, but is at its best with Mavka and the various animals of the forest. Likely to appeal more to kids than adults, the Ukrainian animated film is a perfectly fine, if almost completely forgettable, tale taking its themes and characters from Ukrainian and Slavic folk mythology. While it holds no real surprises, it does provide a nice moral for younger viewers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Birds of Prey #4

The Birds of Prey have managed to infiltrate Themyscira and find Sin. Now all they have to do is escape. Sounds easy enough, but Wonder Woman just arrived. Birds of Prey #4 offers us Wonder Woman versus the Birds of Prey and a lesson for both friend and foe why you shouldn't pick a fight with Diana.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - The Way Out

A bit of a transitionary episode, in which one of our characters will have to face the horrors of their past, "The Way Out" gives us Monarch releasing Cate (Anna Sawai), Kentaro (Ren Watabe), and May (Kiersey Clemons) who will make their way to San Fransisco hoping the illusive answers about Cate and Kentaro's father not found in Japan may be found in the ruins of his other life. Monarch keeps ahold of Lee (Kurt Russell) hoping to find answers about what the former Monarch solider is after and why he chose the arrival of these three kids for his first escape attempt in years.

School Spirits - My So-Called Death / The Fault in Our Scars

School Spirits plays out very much like a lesser version of The Rising with a murdered girl finding herself as a ghost searching for answers about how she died with more of  the goofiness of CBS' Ghosts mixed in. Lacking the same raw emotion, School Spirits feels more like a teen mystery where our Nancy Drew-ish detective just happens to be a ghost. Only once in the first two episodes of the series, in the breakdown of her best friend (Kristian Ventura) does the show really tap into the the loss by Maddie Nears' (Peyton List) disappearance.

The Archies

It's hard to imagine a move loving recreation of classic Archie Comics than what writer/director Zoya Akhtar offers in The Archies. Tackling older comics can often lead to parody or darker and grittier versions, but with The Archies the classic characters and their town are uprooted and planted in 60s India to explore the oldest love triangle in comic books and offer a civics lesson to both our main character and audience about standing up for what is right. While I can't see an American production leaning into the earnestness of classic Archie with such gusto, somehow the Anglo-Indian reincarnation of Riverdale fits perfectly.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Doctor Who - The Giggle

Apparently there are no rules left in the Whoverse worth following. To introduce our next Doctor, Russell T. Davies pulls out all the stops (some of which work, some of which don't). Dusting off a classic Who villain in the Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), a powerful adversary from one of the lost Doctor Who serials, we get David Tennant's final (again... but not really) adventure as The Doctor. Sporting a pretty awful accent, Harris' Toymaker is presented as a being of immeasurable power from somewhere outside the known universe who returns to toy with humanity for fun by driving them mad hijacking the first ever television signal with a creepy puppet. While the character has been referenced over the years in comics and novels, this is the first on-screen interaction with The Doctor the Toymaker has had since "The Celestial Toymaker."

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Merry Little Batman

Featuring the least murderous version of Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab) ever designed, Merry Little Batman is a nice little holiday special unfortunately stretched into a feature film. In a world where Batman (Luke Wilson) is called back into action outside Gotham City, where he eradicated all crime years ago, Daiman gets his chance to play super-hero by dressing up in a Batsuit and taking on a pair of thieves robbing houses at Christmas time.

You can feel the film pulling from other projects as we get Damian's Home Alone sequence before sending him into the world chasing the utility belt his father gave him for Christmas now in the possession of our baddies. The story will eventually work in several more recognizable Bat-villains and, before all is said a done, bring father and son back together for a warm and fuzzy holiday ending.

Friday, December 8, 2023


This study of the relationship between Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper, who also directs) and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan), gives us a peek at the woman behind America's first great conductor, all the while keeping the Maestro firmly in the spotlight. The film's first hour or so, much of it set in black and white, is often delightful with its playful and bawdy tone. Moving into middle age and the later years the film turns a bit mean and messy and eventually contemplative, focused on the hard realities of a complicated and  compromised relationship between the pair that was, nevertheless, built on a foundation of love.

Maestro is a strong movie with some great moments, but also drags in the middle acts. It's more notable for the performances of its two stars, and some nice small performances from the likes of Matt Bomer and Sarah Silverman. Even at its heights, Maestro never reaches the crescendo of last year's TÁR, but filled with great acting, and even better music, it's still an easy recommendation.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Invincible - In About Six Hours, I Lose My Virginity to a Fish

Mark (Steven Yeun) and his mother (Sandra Oh) attempt to prove to themselves and each other that they are fine, Mark continues to throw himself into his super-heroing which nearly causes him to miss his own graduation and cuts into his planned summer fun with Amber (Zazie Beetz). Invincible keeps quite busy here in saving the Washington Monument (mostly) from Doc Seismic (Chris Diamantopoulos), defeating the new Darkwing (Cleveland Berto), and heading to Atlantis which is what gives the episode its name.

Spider-Woman #1

Spinning out of Spider-Woman getting cut out of the Web and Life and Destiny (okay, I'll be honest, I didn't follow this storyline and I'm not really all that clear on the fallout of it other than it seems to have cut Jess out of shared consciousness for a bit) and then being returned to it, and part of the new ongoing crossover Gang War (gangs of villains in New York fighting for control, or something like that?), Jessica Drew gets a new series which begins with Jess tracking down Hydra (and looking for a son who apparently has been removed from mass consciousness and/or existence due to the trouble with the Web). 

Rick and Morty - Rise of the Numbericons: The Movie

Well, that was certainly... a half-hour of television. In a move that can only be compared to South Park's "Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus" episode, Rick and Morty offer a full episode without Rick Sanchez instead focusing on war between Ice-T, now Water-T, and his Alphabetrians verus the Numbericons. To put it kindly, let's just say "Rise of the Numbericons: The Movie" has all the tell-tale signs of something that looks like it was much more fun to make than to watch.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

007: For King and Country #6

The six-issue mini-series 007: For King and Country concludes with James Bond dealing with the betrayal of his former Gwendolyn Gann who has used both Bond and Felix Leiter to stage not a takedown of Myrmidon but a hostile takeover with Gann the new power behind the throne believing she can use the power for good. Foreshadowed throughout the series, it's no surprise it came down to the old friends on opposite sides in the end.

Happy Birthday, Storm Shadow

Storm Shadow debuted 40 years ago today in G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #21 "Slient Interlude."

Obliterated - Real American Heroes

The first episode of Obliterated tells us everything to know about the characters and the series which apparently both have the same stunted level of intelligence. Our main characters are a cobbled together special ops team run by CIA Agent Ava Winters (Shelley Hennig). If your wondering how the show gets around the CIA running domestic ops... well, it basically just ignores the fact that they are a foreign intelligence service and is barred from anything remotely like what Obliterated gives us (or even a halfway rational version of events depicted). Could Obliterated be dumb fun? Possibly, although there's certainly more dumb than fun in this first episode.