I didn’t think I’d like this show. At all. The trailers made it look indistinguishable from the rest of the MCU’s normal fare. But, honestly, I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this show. It’s not as creative and risky as WandaVision, but The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is no less fun. If you told me to imagine a somewhat standard MCU story, I’d probably reply with something that sounded similar to this. To be fair, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen other reviewers describe Falcon and the Winter Soldier as reminiscent of the second Captain America film, and they’re right. This show is a character-driven political thriller. Its plot is kind of weak, but the character moments are fairly strong. This is the most character development Sam and Bucky have ever seen, and fans of them should be pretty pleased by how the characters are handled—Bucky in therapy was something I didn’t know I needed to see until I saw it. The way the show explores Bucky and Sam—their backstories, their trauma, and who they want to be—is a pretty compelling reason to watch the show, and the show mostly gets their characterizations right (though it stumbles a bit in the third episode).Continue reading
On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by WandaVision. Of all the Disney+ MCU shows, WandaVision was the one that seemed most interesting. But I never expected to like it as much as I did. Was it perfect? No, but it took a lot longer for it to devolve into the more typical MCU fare than I’d expected. And, underneath all of that guff, was a compelling and moving story about grief—the kind of character-driven narrative that the MCU films aren’t equipped to deliver. For me, the character work balances out any problems I had with the show’s overarching narrative, but others seem to disagree quite heartily. The question of the week appears to be: was the WandaVision finale disappointing? For me, the answer is both yes and no. Allow me to explain.
NOTE: Full spoilers for the entirety of WandaVision’s first season.Continue reading
I’ve been jaded with the MCU for a long time now. For at least the last half-dozen films, the whole thing has felt a bit creatively stagnant. Visually, it’s hard to separate one film from another; they all have a sense of sameness to them. The same is true tonally, too, with almost every film in the franchise using comedy to undercut its emotional moments and relying too much on spectacle and humor at the expense of meaningful, consistent character development. Avengers: Endgame had pretty much killed my interest in the MCU as a whole, with its terrible plotting and incoherent character arcs, but maybe these movies just aren’t for me. Even when the MCU took risks, like with Infinity War and Endgame, it still felt safe. That is, however, until the first batch of Disney+ MCU shows were announced. Sure, some of them felt like the same old, same old from the MCU (looking at you, Falcon and the Winter Soldier), but some seemed cool, unique, and interesting. Chief among them was WandaVision—a show about two characters I’ve never cared much about that featured an audacious and risky premise. Sounds exactly like my cup of tea. And, honestly, having seen the first two episodes, I’m pretty into it. While being extremely light on any kind of an overarching plot, the first two episodes of WandaVision are a love-letter to classic TV sitcoms that hints at some kind of broader, menacing mystery. If it can stick the landing, it could be something great. (4 out of 5 wands.)
NOTE: There will be spoilers for the first two episodes of WandaVision. Read at your own risk.
WandaVision S01E01 (written by Jac Schaeffer, directed by Matt Shakman)
Wanda and Vision struggle to conceal their powers during dinner with Vision’s boss and his wife.
WandaVision S01E02 (written by Gretchen Enders, directed by Matt Shakman)
In an effort to fit in, Wanda and Vision perform a magic act in their community talent show.
The first season of The Mandalorian left me with a lot of mixed feelings. The show was filled to the brim with interesting and creative ideas but plagued by a lack of focus and an adherence to stand-alone stories at the cost of narrative momentum. Nearly half of the season felt completely disposable, but when the show worked, it worked extremely well. Ultimately, there was enough good in that first season to keep me hooked and eager for the second one despite whatever reservations I had. Now, having finished the second season, I can honestly say that I don’t know what I was expecting. Season two of The Mandalorian is identical to the show’s first season—with all of the pros and cons that come with that. This time, however, those cons begin to outweigh the pros—though the latter half of the season makes up for the sins of the first half. (3.5 out of 5 wands.)
(NOTE: There are spoilers for all eight episodes of The Mandalorian’s second season. Read at your own risk.)
The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire.
Continuing with the Holiday spirit, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special just came out on Disney+ today. I am (unfortunately) familiar with the infamously terrible original Star Wars Holiday Special, and when I heard that this new Lego special would be a quasi/spiritual sequel to that original special, I was both intrigued and terrified. The trailers made it look charming and irreverent, but everything about Life Day (the fictional holiday at the heart of both Star Wars holiday specials) is mired in controversy and questionable choices—seriously, who thought it was a good idea to have the original Holiday Special’s dialogue be comprised of almost entirely unsubtitled Wookie-speech? But still, it looked fun. With all of that in mind, how is The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special? It’s solid. It is a holiday-themed, caffeine-fueled, hyperactive joyride through Star Wars past and future that should satisfy the child audience the special is aimed at while potentially exhausting everyone else. (3 out of 5 wands.)
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (Written by David Shayne, directed by Ken Cunningham)
Directly following the events of “Star Wars :The Rise of Skywalker,” Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on a new adventure with BB-8 to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious Jedi Temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through beloved moments in Star Wars cinematic history, coming into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films. But will she make it back in time for the Life Day feast and learn the true meaning of holiday spirit?