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…)
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.
After yesterday’s article where I discussed some of my favourite Amiga games growing up, I mentioned Lemmings. That got me thinking – I should go back to old games and review the classic puzzler. However, when I got looking into it, the first thing I found was an Android version of the hugely adaptive franchise. Over the years, the image has changed a bit, but how about the gameplay? And how would Lemmings work on mobile?
To a chorus of “why though?” we get into the first major reboot of the series. Five years after the critical flop of Spider-Man 3, Sony elected to take a do over than try and save the Raimi series. With Tobey Maguire in his late thirties and a lot of ill feeling around the mishandling of the third film of an acclaimed series, it was a reasonable response, although the staggering box office return and the good favour bought by the first two films made a lot of people a little nervous. Sam Raimi had a proven track record, and there was hope that the studio might have learned the lesson to take their hands off the reigns and let the creativity fly.
A cautious audience went to see Amazing Spider-Man, with new face Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb. name jokes aside, Webb’s previous credentials included 500 Days of Summer and a host of pop-punk music videos, and Tom Holland was already 29 and trying to play a high school student. A cautious audience also left the cinema… (more…)
And so it looks like I am here to finish my reviews of Marvel’s foray onto Netflix. Oh sure, Jessica Jones hasn’t been cancelled, and neither has Punisher, really, but it’s only a matter of time and not a lot of time either the way these things are dropping. So while we wait for the last of the bad news, while Disney pulls in the dragnet, calling the last of its properties back to the mines, we have another series of Punisher to watch. (more…)
Ever feel like no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t Gifted? Well, so did the protagonist Davian as he kept his true identity a closely guarded secret, only telling his best friends in his school for Gifted students. Unbeknownst to them, they are each going to go on a journey to discover the dangers, the politics and the intrigue around being either Gifted, a Shadow or an Augur. If you’re looking for an epic high fantasy tale to keep you highly invested, you really should check this one out. If that sounds like fun to you, then read on for today’s spoiler-free review:
Ever wondered what it feels like to be a crying child? Well, we’ve all been crying children once in our lives, but in today’s review, we’re checking out Edmund McMillan’s The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, which was shipped to Kickstarter backers at the end of 2018. Having received mine, I was itching to give this one a try, as I absolutely love The Binding of Isaac video game. Would this new card game meet such high expectations, or should it be forever locked away in The Chest? Join us as we check out the gameplay, the artwork and more in today’s review.
This month… and a little bit of February, I will be reviewing all of the Spider-Man films of the century in order. I’ll skip Homecoming as I already reviewed it when it released, although expect a lot of cross-commentary and inevitable comparisons.
Spider-Manuary… I have never been so ashamed and proud of myself at the same time. (more…)