It has often been observed how malleable a character Batman is. Over the past several decades he has found himself equally at home busting the heads of petty street criminals and out-witting cosmic menaces with (new) god-like powers. What unities such diverse plots is a common interest in the humanity of the hero. The tone of the narrative might emphasize oppressive bleakness or optimistic redemption, yet what all the best Bat-stories have in common is an interest in who the man is beneath the cowl. This is true of the movies as well; for example, Christopher Nolan’s masterful Bat-trilogy is as, arguably more, concerned with Bruce Wayne than it is with Batman. In many ways, The LEGO Batman Movie liberally skewers the melancholy tone of Nolan’s films, while sharing with them an interest in the hero’s personality. Amidst the bonanza of gags, Chris McKay’s new film has something to say about Batman’s character.
Continue reading Review of The LEGO Batman Movie
“Is this real?”
The newest comic book show produced courtesy of the FX Network and Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley is a triumph. A kaleidoscope of amazing wrapped in translucent tin foil. Dare I say it, it’s the best X-Men thing ever… Continue reading Legion Pilot Review
The CW adds another comic show to its lineup, starring broody teens in an overcast setting doing sexy things, because they’re teenagers. Based on the classic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale represents an audacious attempt at making Archie Andrews and his gang “hip”. But does it work? Continue reading Riverdale Pilot Review
2016 brought an increasing number of comic based programs to television. Josh joins me in discussing a large cross-section of what both worked and did not these past twelve months.
Cosmo: This year, the DC/CW brand continued its bold expansion, launching one new series (Legends of Tomorrow) and annexing a another (Supergirl). Before we get to those, and the Arrowverse’s namesake, let’s begin with what I feel remains the most consistently successful of the CW shows: Flash.
Josh how are you feeling about the series?
Continue reading This Year’s Finest 2016: TV Convo
For a production company that is faulted at times for sticking to a very specific formula, Marvel Studios takes a fair amount of risks. The most obvious of these is a willingness to base big budget movies around B-List characters. However, as Ant-Man demonstrated last year and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, viewers are eager to embrace heroes who previously had little, if any, exposure outside of fan culture. This combined with a mixing of subgenres (science-fiction space opera, heist caper family drama) has helped keep the formula from growing stale. Yes, the standard tropes are still there, but, in the best movies, they blend with more unique elements. This is definitely the case with Doctor Strange, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its mixture of technical prowess and strong ensemble acting crafts a film which is equal parts awe-inspiring and humane. Central to the movie’s success, same as Captain America Civil War earlier this year, is the conviction that the spectacle must be anchored with compelling character work.
Continue reading Review of Doctor Strange
Over the past several years, Dash Shaw has earned widespread acclaim through writing and illustrating of graphic novels such as 2014’s Doctors. This year he unveiled a new type of project: his first feature length film, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. Shaw’s animated movie premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival before appearing this week at the New York Film Festival. My Entire High School is a thrilling, poignant movie, which demonstrates that Shaw’s skills stretches beyond the printed page.
Film by its nature is a collaborative process. When a movie is successful, it is the result of a variety of talented individuals blending their skills into a final product. At the same time, some filmmakers leave behind more prominent fingerprints than others. Most fans would be hard pressed to distinguish the characteristics of an Andrew Stanton directed Pixar film from a Peter Docter one. This is not a slight on the quality of their movies, which is quite high, but an observation about style. Meanwhile, other recent animated films such as Frankenweenie and Anomalisa are instantly recognizable as the products of Tim Burton and Charlie Kaufman’s idiosyncratic imaginations. Shaw’s My Entire High School fits into this second category. As with Frankenweenie or Anomalisa, My Entire High School is a visually striking, emotionally resonant experience. To watch it is to become fully immersed in the distinct vision of its creator.
Continue reading Review of My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
Marvel’s latest series on Netflix’s takes a victory lap as it closes out the thirteen part story and prepares to showcase a new hero next year. For now, there’s plenty to discuss about the events in Harlem and the impact they have on the Streets of the MCU… Continue reading Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #9-13
“And with my unique skills, nah, you can’t compare me”- Guru of Gang Starr from Mass Appeal
In the Netflix series Luke Cage, Marvel introduces their third hero to be given their own series via the streaming service. Much of the show’s structure is similar to the series that have proceeded it but Luke Cage distinguishes itself in it’s voice while stretching out it’s dramatic moments. Like in past Marvel Netflix series, the middle section is where the show really picks up the plot of the series while throwing in a couple curve balls and red herrings to keep viewers on their toes. Luke Cage is another success for Marvel and Netflix, yet it’s greatest strengths come from it’s subtle differences. Continue reading Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #5-8
Marvel Studios keeps raising the bar with their Netflix collaborations. Their debut project Daredevil heralded a new sophistication for television superheroes, while the follow-up Jessica Jones proved itself even richer. The second season of Daredevil might not have quite hit the heights of Jessica Jones, but it was still a thrilling experience full of well-drawn characters. Next on future Defenders rooster is Luke Cage, graduating from his reoccurring role on Jones to series lead. Based on the first four episodes, actor Mike Colter is more than capable of anchoring a show which also possesses the same strong ensemble work and high production values which fans have come to expect from the Marvel Studios/Netflix projects. These initial installments indicate that Marvel/Netflix have another triumph on their hands.
Continue reading Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #1-4
Ah, The Tick. For a character first created thirty years ago by Ben Edlund as a newsletter mascot for a comic book store, he has had a quite a career. Darling of independent comics, star of an animated series which ran for three seasons, followed by a live-action version which was on for, well, a less impressive amount of time. Still both series gained The Tick a devoted a cult audience that included non-comic book fans. Last week, The Tick returned to television screens once again as part of Amazon’s latest pilot season. Debuting alongside acclaimed writer/director Jill Soloway’s new project and whatever the hell that Jean-Claude Van Damme series is, The Tick is one of three new shows that the streaming service is considering for full season orders. In accordance to their usual practice they are letting viewers watch and give feedback on the various pilots. Should Amazon order more of The Tick? Based on the pilot, there is a fair amount of potential for the show going forward.
Continue reading Review of The Tick Pilot