If there’s a life lesson we can glean from tonight’s very special episode of Supergirl, “Star-Crossed,” it’s a simple one: Whatever you do, don’t lie to your Kryptonian girlfriend. She won’t forgive and she won’t forget. It’s in their/her nature, apparently. Something about how all of that integrity leads to self-righteousness and such. Poor Mon-El (Chris Wood), though. Little did he know that hiding a very minor fact about his background – that he’s the Crown Prince of Daxam, his home planet, presumed lost in the conflagration that destroyed Daxam’s sister planet, Krypton – would lead to the end of his all-too-brief (for him) romance with Kara Zor-El/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). By episode’s end, Mon-El/Kara romance has been broken asunder and no man, woman (Kryptonian or Daxamite) can change it.
Back in the mid-fifties, the American distributor of Godzilla (Gojira) attached “King of the Monsters” as a subtitle. A bold claim, sure, but more importantly, a slap in the face of the giant gorilla, Kong, crowned King two decades earlier. Kong might have been born and bred on fictional Skull Island, but he was for all intents and purposes, an American creation. A potent, if unintentional, riff on American slavery, racism, and lonely, misunderstood outsider, albeit an outsider with a thing for screaming blondes and deadly skyscrapers (they reminded him of home), King Kong hit the zeitgeist mother lode, entering pop culture where he’s remained for the better part of a century. A sequel followed, Son of Kong, a couple of low-rent, embarrassing appearances on the Japanese side of the Pacific Ocean, a lightly regarded remake (1976), a sequel, another remake directed by Peter Jackson 12 years ago and now, finally an all-new origin story, a Kong for the 21st century, but still a part of the late 20th century. (more…)
From the first, ultra-violent, gory confrontation between a drunk, alcoholic Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) and three of the unluckiest gangbangers ever put on film, Logan, Jackman’s second collaboration with writer-director James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma, Night & Day, Cop Land) and reportedly his last time out as the title character, announces itself as a new, different superhero movie and not just because it’s R-rated (we saw plenty of ultra-violence last February with Deadpool) but because Mangold, his screenwriting partner, Scott Frank (The Lookout, The Interpreter, Minority Report, Out of Sight, Get Shorty), and Jackman, every bit a co-equal partner, go where no superhero genre movie has gone before: Into exploring the long-term physical, mental, and emotional consequences of living above and beyond what we otherwise consider normal or natural with depth, nuance, and genuine emotion. All this achieved with stakes – saving a life, saving a handful of lives – would be considered marginal, tangential, or even irrelevant in the typically overblown, bombastic superhero entries from Marvel, DC, or the X-Men universe prior to Logan. (more…)
When we last left Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Woods), they were all but set to seal the deal. As expected, the deal was indeed sealed, albeit off-screen. Mon-El wakes up in post-sex happy mode the morning after, only to find himself alone in Kara’s bed. Before self-doubt starts to take hold, though, Supergirl reappears with some coffee and a big smile on her face. While Mon-El slept, Supergirl did what real superheroes do: She thwarted a few petty crimes and saved a few lives on her way back from the cafe. All seems super-right with Supergirl’s world: She’s keeping National City safe from dangers domestic and foreign (and alien). She has a day job she apparently loves as a reporter for CatGo Media (though we’ve barely seen her at work in recent episodes), and she’s connected on a deep emotional and physical level with Mon-El (maybe not emotionally). It helps that she doesn’t break Mon-El’s nose when they kiss, a problem apparently suffered by Kara’s human suitors.
When we last saw Kara Danvers / Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), she was just about to give in into her Kryptonian hormonal urges and seal the deal with fellow super-powered alien (Daxamite), Mon-El (Chris Wood). Before they could complete lip-lock, a bizarre, inter dimensional being, Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot), crashed their romantic party, claiming he was Supergirl’s No. 1 Super-fan/Ultimate Fanboy and asking for Supergirl’s hand in matrimony. Perplexed, not to mention flummoxed, Supergirl hemmed and stalled until Mr. Mxyzptlk left the building, but his sudden disappearance didn’t mean he was gone for good; it meant the opposite. Mr. Mxyzptlk was nothing more than a stalker, albeit a stalker with near omnipotence (think of a love-obsessed Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation or the Great Kazoo from The Flintstones).
Within two weeks, we will see Hugh Jackman’s final ride as Wolverine in Logan. Jackman has played the titular character since 2000’s X-Men one of the first successful comic book movies that kickstarted our current “superhero cinema” phase. Although Jackman was taller than his comic book counterpart, he has encapsulated the core of the character very well. At the age of 48, he has decided to hang up his claws and Logan will be is final outing. Many critics have already seen the movie at press screenings over the last few weeks. However, they were barred from saying anything due to a press embargo. Well, that embargo was lifted at 4:30 PM yesterday and now the reviews are flooding in. So how did Logan do?
Credit where credit’s due. The late (very late) Russian author Leo Tolstoy was onto something major when he said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” more than a century ago. That axiom applies to the “Luthors,” the first family of corporate crime in the DC universe, on or off the comic-book page. On Supergirl, the Luthors include not just Lex and his father, Lionel, but also his biological mother, Liliane (Brenda Strong), and his adopted sister, Lena (Katie McGrath). As it turns out, though, Lena’s not just a stray orphan the Luthors decided to take in out of the kindness in their hearts, but the product of an illicit affair between Lionel and Lena’s (unnamed) mom, gone at the four to accident or disease. In short, Lena’s biological connection to the Luthors raises the distinct possibility that she’s just as evil, amoral, and sociopathic as her brother, (adopted) mother, and biological father. (more…)
Even the staunchest of Walking Dead fans has to admit that, with the exception of the bloodbath in the season premiere, the first half of season seven was absolutely boring. Fans were lead to believe that Negan was a villain who would make his grand entrance on the show and do things that would make The Governor look like a boy scout. Sadly, this was far from the case and fans were left with a very milquetoast first half of the season. However, it was a necessary evil. We needed to see that Rick had been broken. We needed to see what it was like for Daryl to be Negan’s captive. We needed to see Maggie and Sasha take the lead and protect the people of Hilltop. With Rick and company back in the fighting spirit, hopefully the show will rebound from being such a stick in the mud.
“The Rock in the Road” had a lot of things it needed to get right in order to not lose any more viewers. For the most part, the episode succeeds where several others did not. As always SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD!!!!!! (more…)
The first John Wick movie was a bit of a surprise. Outside of The Matrix Trilogy (and various kung-fu movies he filmed since then), Keanu Reeves has not had a huge action hit. Sure, the actor picks and chooses his parts wisely, but this is what we have been missing from him. The first John Wick had an almost embarrassingly simple plot: retired assassin’s girlfriend dies, she gets him a dog, a moron kills his dog and steals his car, he gets revenge on EVERYONE. That’s pretty much the plot for every B-Action movie.
However, John Wick is magical in its execution. Besides The Raid and its sequels, there hasn’t been a mainstream film that was just perfection when it comes to execution of highly stylized violence. The film was directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, both stunt coordinators by craft, and it really showed. It’s a no-brainer that a sequel would be greenlit. Enter: John Wick: Chapter 2.
NOTE: This review does contain some descriptive spoilers.
Less a sequel than a spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie takes a key, scene-stealing mini-fig from the earlier film, Batman/Bruce Wayne (voiced by Will Arnett), and gives him his own absurdist corner of the teeming LEGO universe. Like its predecessor, The LEGO Batman Movie overflows with meta-humor, self-parody, and subversive satire, not to mention enough imagination to fill three or four LEGO big-screen adventures and, of course, enough commercial branding/advertising to convince toy-averse moviegoers to purchase the entirety of the LEGO catalog. The LEGO Batman Movie may actually suffer from too much imagination crammed into an incident- and twist-heavy plot. It comes at you so fast (like life) that you’ll end exhausted trying to follow the sheer comic brilliance of it all. And unless there’s any doubt, The LEGO Batman Movie is brilliant, from the first moments of Arnett’s egocentric, egotistical Batman taking a sly dig at a recent trend in serious dramas (i.e., they always begin with an ominous black screen) through the final scene of a family laughing hysterically to Jerry Maguire‘s iconic “You had me at hello” scene. (more…)