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Before Ant-Man made his big-screen debut, if fans were asked whether they would ever imagine dropping a couple hundred dollars for an Ant-Man figurine, the question would have been met with a hearty balk look followed by a “How dare you, sir!” slap across the face, but here we are. Ant-Man got his solo movie and a favorable return appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Oh, how easily those early doubters were converted into fans. What was once a laughably lame hero (“You mean his power is he can make himself really small?”) turned out to be far more impressive than anyone would or could have expected – the character was received as a charming and winning edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Suddenly, spending a little scratch on a high-end collectible Ant-Man figure doesn’t sound so absurd.  (more…)

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A cynic might see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a spin-off/prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, as just exercise in brand extension (i.e., cash grab), Disney’s latest effort to exploit or capitalize on the vast, worldwide popularity of the Star Wars franchise they purchased from George Lucas. A non-cynic eager to revisit the myth-drenched Star Wars universe on film again, especially after the unmitigated box-office success of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens just last year, will find much to like, maybe even love, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As carefully, deliberated crafted as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (both as well-made commercial product and resonant commercial art), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers practically everything Star Wars fans have come to expect from the long-running franchise, the heroism, likely and not, the archetypical characters thrust into seemingly impossible, galaxy-saving missions, against seemingly superior foes (David vs. Goliath on a galactic scale), and the pleasures found in relatively simple, archetypical stories pitting good vs. evil.

***MILD SPOILERS BELOW***

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The Walking Dead has been an emotional rollercoaster so far this season. It opened with a mighty bang with the deaths of major characters. But then something strange happened. The show absolutely deflated after the season premiere, to the point where the show started losing an alarming number of viewers. The show blandly followed the journey of all the separated main survivors and struggled with pacing and entertainment value. For the most part, Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s turn as Negan has been the highlight of the show, but even that has become stale and routine. But then the mid season finale rolls along and renews much of our faith in the show.

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Arrow -- "What We Leave Behind" -- Image AR509b_0391b2.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow, Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog and Prometheus -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Last week on Arrow, there was all sorts of crazy alien stuff going down due to the crossover from the other DC/CW shows. This week, however, we’re back on track with the regular Arrow storyline, and damn does it get darker. Oliver and Team Arrow were seeking out clues on who Prometheus was and trying to stop the dude and, as episode 7’s conclusion revealed, Artemis was working with the enemy. This week, ‘What We Leave Behind’ delves deeper and comes up with one of the most emotionally intense episodes of Arrow we’ve seen since the series first began. Scroll on for the full review. (more…)

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It’s the season to be jolly. But of course, on The Flash, Barry finds a way to put everyone in a sad state. With Savitar running around (some pun intended), can you really blame him? Yes and no.  The episode, which is titled, “The Present,” can be interpreted many different ways. It’s a bit of a present to the fans for bringing back some popular characters, especially another version of Mark Hamill‘s The Trickster (who looks very much like another character he’s known for). Another way to look at the title is a meaning of time – as in the past, present, and future. Once again, time is knocking on Barry’s door, but in a direction he’s never gone before.

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The first season of Battlestar Galactica ended with Boomer, a sleeper agent of the Cyclons, shooting Commander Adama following a supposedly successful mission against the robotic adversaries of the human race. Of course, humans created Cylons to serve them, but they rebelled, launched an insurrection, started a war that lasted years, and eventually vanished only to nearly wipe out their creators. Should we be surprised then that Westworld, another show about human/machine relations should also end its first season with payback? If you’ve seen the 70s film the show is based on, you knew the revolt was coming, but the maze we took to get here made it all the more rewarding. (more…)

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“Skirt!” Best. Line. Ever. This week’s episode of The Flash continued the “Invasion” crossover happening on all of the DC Universe/CW television shows. Even though the event began with Supergirl, the core of the story is in this episode. There were aliens, team-ups, superhero poses, conflict, BIG conflict, and an ending that is satisfactory, but will leave you tense enough that you have to watch the rest of the shows to see what happens next. But this review is all about The Flash. That being said, it will be a long time before this writer calls any other episode of The Flash “the best.”

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Supergirl

Don’t call it the first part of a four-part crossover event. The “it” in the previous sentence refers to Supergirl’s fall finale, “Medusa.” Every TV and internet ad touted “Medusa” as the first part of a mega-crossover connecting Supergirl with The Flash (Tuesday), Arrow (Wednesday), and Legends of Tomorrow (Thursday), pitting the CW’s DC superheroes against an intergalactic, world-conquering alien menace/existential threat, the Dominators. Unfortunately, the Dominators don’t make an appearance in “Medusa.” They don’t even get a shout out from a single character. On the plus side, we do get seven or eight seconds of Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) and comrade-in-superhero-arms, Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes), dropping into Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) National City apartment via a space-time portal/wormhole moments before the credits roll and a “To Be Continued … on The Flash” title card. (more…)

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The Walking Dead has been dragging on slowly like a walker in mud since the murderous season opener. Thankfully, there have been some bright spots in the season such as “The Cell”, despite that godforsaken “Easy Street” song. Now we can add the Tara-centric “Swear” to that painfully small list of enjoyable episodes that have been aired thus far. You read that right: an episode all about Tara was actually a pretty good one. To be honest, most people had probably forgotten that Tara and Heath had gone off on a “two weeker” scavenging run immediately after the ambush at the satellite bunker.

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Considering this, the penultimate episode of the first season of Westworld, calling it “The Well-Tempered Clavier” is a title loaded with meaning. It refers to two series of preludes and fugues composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for the piano, which is a very prominent instrument in the series, and was referred to directly in an analogy made by Ford in the episode’s final moments. The idea that this was both a prelude and a fugue is interesting though. A prelude is a first movement, an introduction to the opera or symphony, which implies that everything that’s happened in Westworld so far has been set-up for the real story that’s about to occur. (more…)