Friday, September 25, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Death, Darkness, and Elementary

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous—Is mediocre. Decent enough watch with my boys, but

AND she shoots bow?

even they had issues with some of the silly/dumb choices the characters made. Camp counselors seem more concerned about who is in charge instead of watching out for the children who are more concerned about their various nonsense issues to worry about personal safety. (Netflix)

Anna Karenina (2012)—Is beautiful. It’s also very dark, but then it’s Russian. Two hours really isn’t enough to do justice to Tolstoy’s story, but Tom Stoppard’s adaptation and Joe Wright’s directing make an incredible effort, especially setting much of the story as if it were a play in a theater. If I had one complaint, it’s that Aaron Taylor-Johnson Count Vronsky is far, far too pretty to be likable. (Netflix)

Enola Holmes—Is so fun! Entirely in keeping with the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adding a teenage sister, Enola, to the Holmes family. Although Mycroft is slightly off, everything else is a reasonable facsimile, the acting is a delight, and the mystery is laid out for viewers to decipher on their own without any esoteric knowledge. (Netflix)

Tournament (2018)—Isn’t terrible. A lighter shade of “Clerks.” for the die-hard card-gamers. There’s some really good, witty dialogue, and then there’s some ham-fisted stuff. The camera work is passable, although sometimes wonky. I felt like the plot could have used one more rewrite to really knock out the third act. (AmazonPrime)

The Courier—Nope. I think they were going for a kind of Die Hard in a parking structure. All

I don't have a machine gun yet, but Imma get one!

the right elements are there, and I really wanted to like this. Olga Kurylenko does a worthwhile job with what she’s given, and Gary Oldman and Calli Taylor are respectably evil together. The plot and the bad guys are dumb when they should be smart, or at least smarter. (Hulu)

Quest of the Muscle Nerd—Doesn’t suck. It’s an interesting look into a sub-sub-genre of Dragon Con attendee—the cosplayer who also lifts an outrageous amount of the time. I wish there was a bit more focus on cosplay and the nerds who lift to cosplay, rather than just folks who lift and showed up for this particular event. Still, it was an interesting look. (AmazonPrime)

The Good Place (Season 4)—Rocks. It’s so much goodness I can hardly believe it. I know I’m late on this one, especially a series that I loved (mmmm, Kristen Bell!) but I kept waiting for it to show up on one of my streaming services. I finally had to get the disks, and DVD at that (yech!). I wish I hadn’t waited this long. If you haven’t started this series, do so. It’s hi-freaking-larious. (DVD—because I guess BETA wasn’t an option)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Mystery, Mayhem, and Social Media

I forgot to post last week’s entertainment round-up, so here it is for you.  I’ll try to make sure I

What could possibly go wrong?

get this weeks up on Friday for your weekend enjoyment!

Knives Out—Is good. Very good. Rian Johnson returns to his genre of choice with a classic whodunnit framework but a plot turned on its head. Daniel Craig’s southern accent gets an impressive workout and never falters. Ana de Armas is the real standout, which is impressive given the supporting cast (Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, etc.). Johnson’s script is excellent! (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Season 2)—Isn’t awful. The story doesn’t even miss a beat from Season 1, picking right up and running. I did have to find a recap on YouTube, as some of the details were fuzzy, but after that it was full speed on the A-Train! (Amazon Prime)

The Social Dilemma—Is complicated. It’s also worth watching. 90-minutes isn’t enough time to do anything but paint with a very broad brush. Social networks do a thing, they do it well, and then they get paid. They’re not in it for us. Most of us know this. Like any big corporation, they’re also not all bad. But as a first step to connecting the dots—hopefully toward meaningful change/regulation—it’s 90-minutes well spent. (Netflix)

Dragon’s Dogma—Is tedious. I applaud any show willing to introduce and endear us to a main character and then off him/her in a sudden, realistic, or sudden-AND-realistic manner. I gave this series four episodes and quit. There are some fun fights, the CGI animation could cut sushi, but when they aren’t fighting, it’s a lot of blah-blah and the characters aren’t interesting outside of their tropes to be worthwhile. (Netflix)

Glow Up—Isn’t terrible. The first season of most reality contest shows always have some kinks to work out. This one is no different. With make-up and artists running around, some of the judging does feel arbitrary. Overall, though, this is a fun and enjoyable start to a “Face Off” like show. 

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?

Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Survival, Laughter, and Yawns

Alone (Season 5)—Not bad. Mongolia is simply beautiful! This one was a bit more anti-

She's all business!

climactic. Also, I was VERY annoyed at the contestants who didn’t put a roof on their shelter. Maybe I’m just not that knowledgeable about survival and physics and whatnot. Still, seems like a solid, insulated roof would go some distance to keeping the warmth in your shelter. (Hulu)

Cobra Kai (Season 2)—Is good. A solid follow-up to Season 1 and a good lead in to Season 3. It’s pretty clear where the writers are taking us throughout, and at a few points it’s frustrating how slowly they’re taking us there. There are some REALLY smart moments but a few REALLY dumb ones. That’s people in the real world, too. (Netflix)

Star Trek: Lower Decks—Doesn’t suck. I wasn’t fully sold on this animated sideshow, but some/most of the story arcs would be cost prohibitive. There’s nothing overly serious about this one, which makes for some laugh-out-loud and some aww moments. (CBS All Access)

Away—Is a struggle. With Hilary Swank and Josh Charles along with the supporting cast, there’s some incredible acting going on. I just wish they had a better vehicle. A three-year round trip to Mars should be awesome. Most of the drama is conjured and forced into place with a hydraulic press. The writers ignore the practicalities/realities of pretty much any situational obstacles that come up, and break then shatter then stomp on the shards of willing suspension of disbelief. It makes it hard for me to enjoy something that otherwise checks all the boxes. (Netflix)

Mulan (2020 Live Action)—Doesn’t suck. It doesn’t rule either. As a Disney conversation to live action, this one diverges the most from its animated release, pulling a bit more from “The Ballad of Mulan”. That makes the movie better than a retelling of a Disney story which is a good thing. Really good wuxia, solid acting, and beautiful visuals. (Disney+)

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?

Tell me in the comments below! 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Nostalgia, Loss, and Hope

Alone (Season 4)—Not bad. Partners makes it a bit less “alone” but making one partner hike

It's like they KNOW us!

ten miles through the horrible, horrible scrub that is Vancouver Island was fascinatingly horrible to watch. Like the slowest slow-mo car crash ever. Season 5 is set in Mongolia so you KNOW I’m onboard with that! (Hulu)

Cobra Kai (Season 1)—Strikes first and strikes hard! It’s a nice where-are-they-now update of Daniel “The Karate Kid” LaRusso and Johnny “Sweep the Leg” Lawrence. There are some flashbacks to the movies, but they don’t overdo it. In this longer format we get to see more depth to both Daniel and Johnny, and there’s some real growth in almost all the characters (Netflix)

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe—Is a solid addition. It’s not as great as the 2011 movie, but they were in the middle of the series at that point. A few of the voices sound a bit different, but not enough to ruin the illusion. Candace has had more growth than she's portrayed at this point, but it serves to tell a good story. (Disney+)

Bill & Ted Face the Music—Is, to coin a phrase, EXCELLENT! It’s silly, stupid fun, but it’s a good cap to the series. I may have just been in the right mood for it, but I don’t mind telling you I got a bit misty as the action rose to the conclusion. (Vudu)

Black Panther—Great but mournful and sad. This weekend, we lost a wonderful and relatively young actor in Chadwick Boseman. His was a bright light even from the beginning. Phylicia Rashad mentored him, Denzel Washington helped pay his tuition. He is and will continue to be missed. (Disney+)

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?
Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Loss of Chadwick Boseman


I could stand a bit more Okoye!

Hearing that still gives me chills.  This weekend we paid homage to Chadwick Boseman, by watching Black Panther.  It’s remains an excellent stand-alone film. Even the fight choreography is excellent.  More often than not, even in Marvel films, it’s a series of jerky-cam and confusion. 

It was also sad knowing that the relatively young Mr. Boseman, who is SO full of life and talent in the movie, is no longer with us. I was very much looking forward to seeing him in a follow up Black Panther in 2022. 

While his loss is unfortunate, I’ve seen a lot of “fans” calling for an end to Black Panther. That likely won’t happen for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is that Black Panther is a very marketable commodity. NBA franchises might retire a player’s jersey, but they don’t stop selling them to fans. 

More than just cold, hard cash though is the fact that King T’Challa is more, bigger than, just one actor. Just like the fictional Wakanda, the idea is greater than the sum of its parts. There are precious few characters that can only be embodied by one performance, and for that we should be very grateful. Successive versions of wonderful characters embodied by new actors can entertain and enlighten countless generations. There’s been no end of James Bond, Lara Croft, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, etc. 

That’s a good thing. 

That smile!

The sudden loss of Boseman probably has more to do with the call for Marvel to not re-cast T'Chall/Black Panther than anything else. It is VERY soon to public consider moving on. It almost feels like a betrayal of that bright light that we've just lost. We should absolutely mourn his passing. Boseman was an amazing talent, seen, mentored, and supported by some of the biggest names in the business.

He is now, and forever will be, truly missed.

That smile!

I’m sure there’s a solid case to be made for shelving the propertynot to mention Marvel turning their backs on all that green stuff they’ve been raking in over the last twelve years—but I don’t think that’s the “right thing” to do here. Boseman’s legacy is bigger than just one character and one movie. He played Jackie Robinson, Thoth, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown. 

If the King of Wakanda can also be the Godfather of Soul, there are very good reasons why we should hear and see WAKANDA FOREVER! 

Do you think T’Challa should be recast?
Why or why not?

Friday, August 28, 2020

Entertainment Round Up — Surviving the West the East the Jungle and the Stage

As promised, here are my mini-reviews for the past week. Some really good entertainment as

Yo da lay hee, yo da lay he. He rides alone!

we enter the waning days of summer!

Alone (Season 3)—Is good. Moving from Vancouver Island to Patagonia was smart. I liked the first two installments, but the second season was something of a repeat. It’s a very chill show, sometimes punctuated by short bursts of excitement, but the overall concept really carries the show for me. (Hulu)

Rustler’s Rhapsody—Still rules. This is another one of my “movies from the 80s” that my boys were certain would suck. While I did have to explain a few of the tropes that were being played off, that was only because my boys were so enthralled by the movie. It remains a hilarious send-up of B-movie westerns that deserves more love. (Amazon Prime)

The One and Only Ivan—Wow. The CGI on this film is simply incredible. Disney wants you to believe that this is a Disney-fied version “based on actual events”, but really it’s based on a wholly fictional book which was inspired by the actual events—which are much darker and more troubling. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy about this film if taken for the fiction it is. (Disney+)

The New Legends of Monkey (Season 2)—Is a win. I honestly thought this was never coming back, which would have been a real shame. The characters continue to delight in that very New Zealand/Hercules/Xena way. Sure, it’s Monkey King who ties it all together, but it’s that character played off the co-stars—Pigsy, Tripitaka, and Sandy—that makes it so fun. (Netflix)

Live from the Space Stage: Halyx—Is fascinating. My oldest son has followed Defunctland for several years now, reveling in the “forgotten” history of Disneyland and other theme parks. The story of Halyx, a rock band created to play at Disneyland, who almost crossed over into the mainstream. It’s worth watching, and since it’s free, you might as well. (YouTube)

Do you agree with my picks? What did I get right? What did I get wrong? What would you like me to review next? 

Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Eric Lahti Reviews Beneath a Fearful Moon

If you haven’t read an Eric Lahti novel, you should. His writing is so crisp and clean, it punches

Timberjiggers need love too!
you right in the gut. You get that sense from the review he wrote for BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON, and I couldn’t be more appreciative that he still reads my work, let alone takes time to review it:

I’ve always felt the novella doesn’t get enough love. In this day of digital and on-demand publishing, there’s really no reason to focus exclusively on massive tomes just because they’re easier to run through the printing press. Not every story needs to be four hundred pages long and trying to stretch a shorter tale into a full-length novel just gives you Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A story should be precisely as long as it needs to be and no longer.


Thank you, Mr. Lahti.

Read the Rest Here!