Remember how I was pretty vocally optimistic about the future of video games and film. Remember how I thought Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed had some major positive points that made me feel like there might be hope? What I didn’t tell you is that I actually quite enjoyed the new Tomb Raider film, thought it was alright. I started to feel like there was hope, a genuine upward swing, and hell, I even said as much in the comments of my Captain Marvel review.
Then my dear friend Mike sends me this: (more…)
The release of Captain Marvel marks the last step to End Game and the first female lead across twenty two MCU films, a milestone that has been long awaited, and there was general consensus that she was a solid choice. Most of the good options from Marvel’s roster of female characters are either X-Men (or memebers of a team), villains, or female iterations of someone else, of those that remain Carole Danvers is easily the best known which, sadly, doesn’t say a great deal. DC at least have always had Wonder Woman to lean on, and they recently found some success with two thirds of a good film, Marvel have never quite had the same fortune.
Nor can we say that origin stories hold up against the big titles that Marvel has become revered for, Doctor Strange was a good enough film, Ant Man was ok, and certainly none of them are as bad as Thor 2, which I maintain still has some redeeming qualities, I’m getting off topic. The Avengers have been the films we have come to respect and love, characters are established and made strong on their own and then brought together to be stronger. A wise man attempts to build his house upon the sand, and tells us that because the house stands so tall that it will stand forever.
There Will Be Spoilers but I’m not going to lie to you here, it won’t make much difference if any at all. (more…)
You may be wondering how much content genuinely has been made by fans that we wanted to make a list about and the truth is – There’s a lot. We could get specific by saying best “fanart”, or best “fanfic”, or even best “fan made game”… But the truth is, there’s a lot of great content out there by crazy talented individuals. This week, we dedicate it to the fans who make their mark on the world, by taking something they enjoy and running wild with it.
Slowly but surely we are seeing those creators who grew up on anime and manga break into the industry and bring some of their favourite pieces to a more receptive audience. Robert Rodriguez has always worn his geeky side with pride, and his directing credits swing wildly between the more mature content and the kid’s action, you’d never believe that Dusk ‘Til Dawn was made by the same guy as Spy Kids. He also brought the Sin City comics to the big screen and made them household names, so to see him turn his action adventure skills to a 1990 manga (and a ’93 OVA) is something to be excited about. (more…)
I have been quite unwell, and with all the time spent glaring at a screen from behind my diseased haze I have consumed quite a lot of the newer releases on Netflix. Rather than draw out reviewing each of the more interesting titles until past the point where anyone is interested, here’s a trio of opinions in quick succession, and relatively spoiler free.
The Umbrella Academy
What do you get when you cross X-Men with Preacher?
It’s an academy of kids with super-powers being trained by an eccentric old lunatic with a monocle, his monkey butler and robot maid! It’s been a while since they all got together, one died, one vanished through time, the others just filtered away to live their own lives until the only one that remained was sent to the moon. This all makes sense, right? We’re keeping up? Based on the 2007 Dark Horse comic series of the same name, the show takes us on a story of loneliness, time-travel, family conflict, and why eccentric billionaires shouldn’t keep secrets from the children they purchase.
Plot beats are fairly predictable once you’ve got a solid grasp of the characters involved, the end of the world is coming, there’s a time-travel plot including a time-cop agency that’s done moderately well, although it’s impossible not to draw comparisons to the agents of heaven from Preacher. Also like Preacher the tone strikes an odd balance between comedy and heavy drama, you have Robert Sheehan playing his own typecast of troubled class-clown with super-powers that he laid down in Misfits* alongside a fifty-something time-traveller in a child’s body, and opposite them you have Ellen Page as “the plain girl”, a mother torn apart by celebrity and relationships, an edgy “Nightwing” dealing with his own ego, and a man who has spent years alone on the moon.
All in all, not a bad watch, nice to see something that is neither Marvel or DC, and the performance from all parties is thoroughly enjoyable. The series does not balance its tone as well as Preacher, which can make it hard to invest in the stakes or characters, and of course the constant reveal of secret after secret does rather have you twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next “grand reveal”. Still, not a bad series, and easily worth watching an episode or two.
*Another Misfits and Preacher bridge, after a dramatic cast-shift in Misfits the character niche occupied by Robert Sheehan was taken up by Joseph Gilgun who plays the vampire Cassidy in Preacher! I hope those two are friends.
The Dragon Prince – Season 2
An improvement on season 1 which was already good, and I’m glad I gave The Dragon Prince chance to develop. We pick up where we left off, a potential war between humans and elves is beginning to reach the boiling point, and the only ones actively trying to put a preemptive stop to it, the newly orphaned prince who has the inexplicable ability to talk to animals, his older half-brother whose determined to learn magic despite the human inability to tap into primal energy, and an elf who is slowly learning to trust humans but whose scrutiny is proving far to useful to ignore.
Again, the real strength of the showrunners shines through in their character and world building that they proved in Avatar: the Last Airbender, although the narrative is still hitting some fairly tame plot-beats. Our main villain is, once again, evil for the sake of being evil, and I can see no reason for him to have gone kill-crazy. His best friend, the deceased king, was nothing but loving to him, heeded his counsel, gave reasons when he turned it down… anyway, let’s kill that rant early.
The show sticks to the D&D party paradigm, each party member fulfilling a role within the group and within the adventure, you can practically see the DM’s screen in the backgrounds of certain scenes. At times it feels a lot more “kids show” than Avatar ever did, but it doesn’t make it less fun, and the fact that you can consume a season in an afternoon makes it worth committing a bit of time to.
End this with one hell of a moodshift, a new horror that has been on Netflix for a couple of weeks now, we have a story of a mad artist whose work causes strange deaths among those who sell it. Told from the perspective of those in the art industry, the world we occupy is quite removed from a classic horror setting, bright, cheerful, full of life and business, no one is isolated, no one is removed from society or cut off from rescue, and that alone makes this an abnormal and interesting approach.
Our cast of characters are cutthroat and volatile, consumed with their own dramas, almost oblivious to the terror unfolding around them, more caught up in their own dramas, undermining and outdoing one another, that by the time it occurs to anyone that anything spooky is going on they’re already screwed. It’s a joyous thing to enjoy watching a cast of characters that you utterly despise, and there’s something a little cathartic about watching a horror film where you are not encouraged to feel bad for anyone except for Zooey Deschanel in the role of “innocent”.
It’s different, but I cannot say that it’s all good. The all star cast is great, sure, but it’s never proof against a failed experiment or a horror film that lacks tension. While I enjoyed what I watched, I found it all too easy to simply not pay attention to the story, skipping great chunks of the inter-personal drama, having to backtrack occasionally for bits of tension I’d inadvertently ignored while working on something else (work’s good, you?) and coming back to enjoy the grizzly moments and Zooey Deschanel finding another body and none of the nearby police thinking to arrest her for always finding the bodies.
Ok, let’s do this one last time.
Into the Spiderverse was Sony’s most recent effort with Spider-Man, having almost completely lost power over the main thread of Peter Parker to the Disney/Marvel steamroller. Sony have been left with the castoffs to play with, and they’re doing the best they can with limited control, including a Venom solo movie that had an underwhelming but not disastrous response from audiences, and now the animated feature that brings together Spider-Mans from across the Marvel Multiverse.
I really enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man, I really did, it was not without its flaws, and it took a spin on the character that split opinions, but was respectably set apart from the Raimi/Maguire rendition, with a villain we’ve wanted on screen for quite some time realised by an actor who could compensate for the… odd choices made in the script. I left the cinema with questions, a handful of doubts, but with hope for what a sequel might bring.
Then the hype train starting rolling, and what we saw was a modernised version of Electro with none of the daft yellow spandex in the hands of a very capable actor, Jamie Foxx, and the Rhino in a questionable but ingenious casting choice in Paul Giamatti, in a rhino-shaped tank which looked cool, and we had a Goblin set-up that looked slick and who was obviously going to kill Gwen Stacey. (more…)
Sometimes, the villain likes to get a laugh in. Infrequently, the villain gets the last laugh, but when they do get their laughs in, you know you’re going to be etched with their echoing laughs for a long time. We wanted to honour those bad people who wanted nothing more than to show us how much they enjoyed messing with our heroes, in this week’s Top 10 Evil Laughs list.