“Incredibles 2” is a GREAT Superhero Movie; Mediocre “Incredibles” Movie

mv5bmteznzy0otg0ntdeqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdu3otg3mjuz-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_It only took fourteen years, but Disney and Pixar have finally released the sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles! Was it worth the wait? Yes and no. Written and directed by Brad Bird, Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where the first movie ends, with the Parrs suiting up to defeat the latest supervillain to threaten their city: The Underminer.

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2”–but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again–which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

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In Defense of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

cursed child defenseThe Tony Awards aired this past weekend,  and the internet is abuzz about the winner of the Best New Play award: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There’s been a bit of controversy as a result of its win, particularly from the Harry Potter fandom, so, I figured now is as good a time as any to mount a defense for the play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play borne out of a collaboration between Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne, and director John Tiffany. It’s advertised as the official eighth chapter in the Harry Potter series and tells the story of Harry’s middle child, Albus Severus, and his experiences as he attends Hogwarts and fights to escape the shadows of his father’s past glories. The script for the show was initially published in July of 2016, and to say there was some controversy directly afterward would be an understatement. While the majority of critics in London adored the show and praised it for its script, acting, design elements, etc, fans were noticeably more divided, if not downright negative towards it. It’s been criticized as “bad fanfiction with a silly story”, “totally out of character”, “inconsistent with the books and the universe that Rowling wrote”, amongst others. I disagree with most of those points, and I’m gonna explain why. It’s worth noting that there will be total spoilers for the play throughout this. You’ve been warned.  (more…)

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” Would Be a Lot Better Without Han Solo

mv5bmdu1mgjjztktzmezoc00mmi3ltk2mjctythln2yyzddjodnhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzuwndyxmzy-_v1_sy1000_sx700_al_Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a particularly good movie. On the bright side, however, it’s not a total trainwreck either. It’s just…fine. It would be a much better movie if it didn’t have to focus on Han Solo at all. Directed by Ron Howard and written by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest stand-alone anthology film in the Star Wars franchise. Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Solo is a prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy that reveals the backstory of Han Solo.

Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ an adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.

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HBO’s “Fahrenheit 451” is All Smoke, No Flame

mv5bzmm1zgjkzdgtnzblns00yjkyltk3ngetztixmgvkmtk2yjg1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Where there’s smoke, there is often flame. Unfortunately, HBO’s new adaptation of the classic novel, Fahrenheit 451, is all smoke and no flame. Adapted by Amir Nader and Ramin Bahrani, from the original novel by Ray Bradbury, and directed by Ramin Bahrani, Fahrenheit 451 is this weird mixture of being a modern adaptation and an original story featuring a few of the characters from the book.

Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon star in Fahrenheit 451. Directed by Ramin Bahrani and written by Bahrani and Amir Naderi, the film is a modern adaption of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel. It depicts a future where the media is an opiate, history is rewritten and “firemen” burn books. Jordan plays Montag, a young fireman who struggles with his role as law enforcer as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty, played by Shannon. Sofia Boutella also stars as Clarisse, an informant caught between the competing interests of Montag and Beatty. Other cast members include YouTube star Lilly Singh, who plays a tabloid reporter named Raven, tasked with spreading propaganda and broadcasting the firemens’ book-burning raids.

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“The Happytime Murders” Trailer is a Hot Mess

Alongside the release of Deadpool 2, STX Entertainment has released the first trailer for their upcoming adult-oriented puppet-noir film from the Jim Henson Company, The Happytime Murders. Written by Todd Berger and directed by Brian Henson, The Happytime Murders has been advertised as a Muppets version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and had languished in development hell for years before finally being picked up by STX Entertainment. The good news is that there’s finally a trailer and hard proof that this film actually exists. The bad news is that the trailer is a hot mess. Like, it’s a really bad trailer, both in terms of pure entertainment/quality and also being an accurate representation of the film. According to Wikipedia, the plot of the film is as follows:

173811_800x1045In a world where puppets co-exist with humans as second class citizens, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), puppet private eye and disgraced ex-cop, is hot on the trail of the serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting the cast members of the 1980s television series The Happytime Gang. As the killings continue, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), Phil’s former flame, is next on the list. It’s up to Phil and Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), his ex-partner, to find the culprit, but as bad blood and old resentments resurface, the clues start pointing to the only viable suspect: Phil himself. Now he’s on the run with only his wits and hard-headed determination as he and his partner attempt to solve the Happytime Murders.

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Season 2 of “Timeless” Finds its Groove with “The Salem Witch Hunt” (S02E04 – REVIEW)

Timeless - Season 2

TIMELESS — “The Salem Witch Hunt” Episode 204 — Pictured: (l-r) Michael Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn — (Photo by Patrick Wymore/NBC)

It only took four episodes, but season 2 of Timeless finally delivers an episode that lives up to the promise of its premise. Written by Kent Rotherham and directed by Guy Ferland, The Salem Witch Hunt follows the Time Team as they travel back to Salem Massachusetts, 1693. While Wyatt (Matt Lanter) sneaks away from the bunker to face an unbelievable truth, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and their former enemy-turned- teammate, Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic), chase the Mothership to the Salem Witch Trials. There they must prevent the execution of a headstrong young woman – Abiah (guest star Sofia Vassilieva), who, it turns out, is the mother of one of the most consequential Americans of all time – the yet to be born Benjamin Franklin. When Lucy is accused of being a witch, the team rallies together to save Abiah, Lucy, and all the other accused women. (This review features spoilers for this episode.)  (more…)

A Hollywood Caper That’s Not Quite as Exiting as It Should Be (Timeless – S02E03: “Hollywoodland” REVIEW)

Timeless - Season 2

TIMELESS — “Hollywoodland” Episode 203 — Pictured: (l-r) Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan — (Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC)

Timeless continues to be a bit of a mixed bag. On paper, I really like this episode. In execution, it’s better than the previous episode (The Darlington 500) but still not as good as it should be. Much of that is down to the fact that the stakes are never clearly defined and the motivations of key characters are underexplored – but more on that soon. Written by Matt Whitney and directed by John Showalter, Hollywoodland is the third episode of the second season of Timeless. When a Rittenhouse sleeper agent in 1941 Hollywood steals the only copy of Citizen Kane, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) team up with Hedy Lamarr (guest star Alyssa Sutherland) to get it back. Hedy Lamarr turns out to be not only a glamorous movie star but also a scientific wizard whose discoveries led to the invention of Wi-Fi. (This review features spoilers for the episode.)  (more…)

A Tale of Three ‘Shada’s (Doctor Who – “Shada” review)

A Tale of Three ShadasShada. The long lost adventure from famed sci-fi writer Douglas Adams. Over the years since its aborted filming, the adventure has undergone no less than three separate adaptations. The question is: which Shada is the ultimate Shada? With the release of another version of the story, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure that out, so let’s break it down in a Tale of Three ‘Shada’s. Originally written by famed author – and one-time Doctor Who script editor – Douglas Adams, Shada follows the Doctor and Romana, his Time Lady companion, as they investigate a mysterious summons from an old friend of the Doctor, Cambridge Professor Chronotis, and work to thwart the plans of the evil Skagra – a man seeking the Professor, and a book he possesses, for his own evil ends. Their adventure will take them from 1970s Earth to a mysterious Time Lord prison planet that nobody can remember: Shada. Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada. For this review, we’re gonna be looking at three particular adaptations of Shada: the 2003 BBC-i/Big Finish Productions webcast/audio adaptation, the 2012 novelization (by Gareth Roberts), and the 2017 BBC animated reconstruction.  (more…)

“Rise” is flawed, but mostly good.

Rise - Season 1Rise is definitely a mixed bag. In some ways, it’s exactly the kind of show you’d expect from the creator of Parenthood. In other ways, it doesn’t hold a candle to the quality of that show. That being said, Rise is an enjoyable show with a pilot that does a poor job selling the show’s qualities. From Jason Katims, executive producer and showrunner of “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood,” and “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller, comes a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. The cast includes Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Auli’i Cravalho, Damon J. Gillespie, Marley Shelton, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Amy Forsyth, Casey W. Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joe Tippett, and Shirley Rumierk. This review contains very minor and vague spoilers for the show (no major spoilers will be revealed, but general elements from the entire season will be discussed)  (more…)

The New “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Trailer is All Kinds of Awesome

Warner Brothers just released a trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and it’s all kinds of awesome. It’s been nearly five months since the reveal of the title of the film and that promotional image of the cast, so we’ve all been kind of starved for any real footage or news of the film and this trailer fully delivers. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and is written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates. It follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) as they travel to Paris in order to track down Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) under the request of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).

CredenceThis trailer does everything a good teaser trailer should do: it teases us. It shows just enough to whet our appetites but not enough to actually ruin the film too much. I really like that the trailer didn’t rely solely on nostalgia. It opened with a nostalgic shot of Hogwarts and featured a lot of Dumbledore, but that was basically where the nostalgia ended. It was a nice way of reminding people who maybe weren’t totally on board with the previous film that this is still part of the Harry Potter universe (now rebranded as the Wizarding World). I also like how colorful this film looks in comparison to the last one. I loved the last movie, but man did it have a pretty bleak color palette. This one seems to have a much brighter and more colorful one, so that’s nice.

dumbledore 2Speaking of Dumbledore, there’s a lot of him in the trailer and Jude Law is absolutely killing it as Dumbledore. It’s gonna take me a bit of time to fully get used to him in the role, but he’s doing a spectacular job. There’s a line he has towards the beginning of the trailer where he says something along the lines of “If you’ve ever had Newt in a class, you know he doesn’t take orders” and it was such a Dumbledore thing to say and it made me smile so much. Interestingly, there’s very little Grindelwald in the trailer. I wonder if it’s to avoid the controversy around Johnny Depp’s casting for a little bit considering how that blew up after he was so prominently featured in the promotional picture from November. There’s about one shot of him in the trailer and he’s nearly unrecognizable. Which is good. If Johnny Depp can stop being Johnny Depp for about three seconds, he could actually deliver an interesting performance. I’d have still preferred just have Colin Farrel as Grindelwald, but such is life.

DYLpLo-W4AAE1KbUltimately, I loved this trailer. It did its job in getting me super excited for the movie. It was well edited and structured, showed off how beautiful the film looks, teased just enough while withholding enough to still be mysterious, and overall just felt magical. It reminded me why I love the Wizarding World franchise so much. For all its hits and misses, it still brings me joy in the way it did when I was a kid. It’s not perfect and the filmmakers often make mistakes and questionable decisions, but I still love it. This trailer reminded me of the best things about the franchise and has successfully gotten me super excited for the next installment.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald lands in theaters on November 16, 2018.