The Marvels

My wife and I went to see The Marvels yesterday evening at the Columbia mall. Excellent film overall, and it’s not necessary to have seen the Ms Marvel series. (Definitely helpful to have seen Captain Marvel and possibly Avengers: Endgame however.)

We saw a sparsely attended 3-D screening, and although the 3-D was well done, the small number of people in the theater leaves me thinking perhaps this gimmick has outlasted its novelty and is now due to fade away for another generation.

Spoiler-free comments on the movie overall – it was much lighter than the last Marvel film I saw in a theater (Endgame) and it was interesting to see the three titular characters come together as a team. The supporting characters were entertaining as well, with Kamala’s family in particular providing some comic relief. And yes, of course the flerken completely upstaged everyone.

And finally, this is a Marvel film, so stay for the credits. There are two bonus scenes, one right at the start of the credits and another midway through.

Excellent movie, definitely worth seeing.

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1

A couple weeks back, I finished watching the first season of Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s interesting to have a single main character as the focal point instead of the entire bridge crew. I enjoyed the season’s shows, but they crammed so much  fan service into season one (Harry Mudd! Tribbles! Mirrorverse! Klingons war! Spock has a sister!) that I can understand why some were put off by it all. (And, I’m reminded, most of the series which came before needed a couple seasons to find their legs.)

Plus the spore drive…. OK, it’s an innovative way to expand on something that exists in nature (at least, on a terrestrial scale), and the idea of a space-faring tardigrade was also interesting. But man, the “magic mushroom” jokes pretty much write themselves. (Not two episodes in to season two, even Captain Pike can’t help but make a joke about it.)

I’m interested to see what season two has to hold.

Star Trek: Discovery

It’s been three years since the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery; so, probably about time I started watching it.

Binge-watching my way through Star Trek: Picard over Labor Day weekend was my introduction to Star Trek with continuing story arcs. Not the episode here and there that tie together for a big episode (or two) at the end of the season, but rather the idea of each episode advancing the same story. (Granted, I’m only four episodes in on Discovery, but that’s how it’s gone so far.)

The show’s definitely darker than the Star Trek of old, and I have to remind myself this is set a decade or so prior to The Original Series, and the events of “Errand of Mercy“. But the characters!

It’s so-far fascinating to watch the development of Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the introduction to Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman) was, if not “fun”, then perhaps “awkwardly relatable”. Particularly when she meets her new roommate (“The only other female ‘Michael’ I’ve ever heard of is Michael Burnham, the mutineer; but you’re not her, right?” … long silence.) On the other hand… Not really liking Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs), but I assume the writers did that intentionally.

Mixed feelings on yet another way for the Klingons to look, but, I’ll adjust. And it is interesting to see “the Klingon war” before The Original Series. These are definitely a more war-like variety of Klingon than what I’ve seen before.

The “mycelium drive” seems a bit too much like a “magical plot device.” I suppose the same could be said about the warp drive from the previous shows, but it just seems like a huge stretch that this is somehow a source of faster-than-light travel. (Plus, these are apparently “cosmic fungal spores” — that really opens the door for “magic mushroom” jokes.)

So, four episodes in, out of three seasons… I suppose I have some more binge-watching to do.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

My wife and I went to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle this evening. Admittedly, we went in with somewhat low expectations, thinking this would be, at best a sequel, but we came away pleasantly surprised, much more entertained than we’d expected.

Without wandering into spoiler territory, this was indeed a sequel. But, it stood on its own. The only thing you might not understand was a passing reference to Alan Parrish, Robin Williams‘ character from the original movie (and a nice nod).

There were a few parallels to the original, but this was definitely a separate movie. Jack Black’s portrayal of a teenage girl (this makes more sense in context) was absolutely hilarious, but avoided going too far over the top. Likewise, Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan as a pair of nerdy teens worked quite well. My only complaints with the film were a few scenes that seemed a bit too much like “The Breakfast Club” (I haven’t checked, they may have lifted some lines), and one awkward bit right before the end.

All in all, it was a fun movie and one I can recommend.

Battle of the Sexes

My wife and I went out last night to see “Battle of the Sexes.” It’s somewhat of a bio-pic about Billie Jean King and her contributions to the idea that women and men should be considered equals.
Along with the big tennis match against Bobby Riggs, it also covered the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association and highlighted some of the women players’ struggles to be taken as seriously as the men.
I was also taken by how much Emma Stone and Steve Carell resembled their real-life counterparts. Also interesting, both actors are the same age as the people they portrayed were at the time of the real life event.
Not the kind of film I usually think of going to on my own, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.

Amazon's version of The Tick

After watching the first three episodes of Amazon’s version of The Tick, I’m quite hooked.
Instead of being dropped in to a world where Arthur and The Tick are already a team, we instead get to see how that team is first created. There’s actual character development, and even the bad guys have back stories.
So far, there’s been a back story for Arthur, plot lines involving the supporting characters, hints at how the world has adapted to having superheroes as part of life, and even hints that we may get to find out how The Tick became who he is.
Possibly the best part though is Peter Serafinowicz’ portrayal of The Tick. The character speaks in the same flowery, over-the-top style as the original cartoon, and Serafinowicz’ is so earnest in his delivery that I can’t help thinking he’s channeling the late Adam West’s portrayal of Batman.
Highly recommended viewing.


Scrolling through an assortment of funny photos and links, on Claudia Christian’s fan page, I found a post from one of the page admins announcing that Starhyke is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Starhyke was new to me, but ended up an amusing diversion. The show is a Sci-Fi Comedy, shot in the UK. It appears to have been a direct-to-DVD release, with other syndication coming later.
The premise, and honestly, a lot of the first episode, is quite dark: Humanity has given up its emotions in order to expand across the galaxy, and in the process, conquered or destroyed all the other races they encounter. The last race not yet conquered, the Reptids, have devised a plan to go back in time and prevent humanity from losing its emotions.
The comic premise (minor spoiler) is that a side-effect of the Reptids’ attack causes the crew of the ship sent to stop them to be confronted with unfamiliar and comically out-of-control emotions. Most of the gags center around the crew essentially becoming a bunch of adolescents in adult bodies as they try to track down their enemies. There’s also a secondary story of an unknown entity attempting to take over the ship.
Once you get past the grim premise, it’s actually a very silly show, a bit similar to Red Dwarf, but with a larger, dominantly female, cast. The entire series is only six episodes long for a total of about three hours of viewing. If you need a chuckle without a lot of sophistication, it might be worth a chance.
You can stream it on Amazon. I’d skip the DVD option.

A Word of Thanks

On the one hand, I was terribly sad to hear that William Christopher joined the list of celebrities who passed away in 2016. Along with William Christopher, there was Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and quite a few more.
On the other hand, it occurs to me that one of the reasons so many of the stars I grew up watching on television are dying now is that so many of them have lived so long. I’m grateful for the time I had watching them and gifts they’ve shared with us.
(Image via pixabay)

2001: A Space Travesty

My buddy Nick sent an email earlier today, mentioning that the Leslie Nielsen movie 2001: A Space Travesty is available for free on Crackle. Apparently Crackle compares it to Airplane! and The Naked Gun.
After watching the first half-hour or so, I understand the comparison to Airplane! and The Naked Gun, it’s tempting to think of it as “Frank Drummond in Space.” Unfortunately, it’s so far been just another film in that genre, there really hasn’t been anything overly original or clever about it. Good acting by Leslie Nielsen, but I doubt this is the movie he wants to be remembered for.
(Image via flickr user Sweetie187 used under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic)

Gene Wilder

It’s always sad to lose a beloved actor. Gene Wilder is deservedly remembered for his comedic roles in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein among others, but I think Willy Wonka is the one that stands out for me.
As a child, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory terrified me. But as an adult, I love the way Wilder portrayed Willy Wonka and appreciate his delivery of lines such as the immortal, “we have so much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it.”
I’m sorry to see us lose such a gifted actor, but I’m happy he gets to see Gilda again.
(Photo by Wikipedia user Towpilot via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)