DC Comics and Rebirths Old and New

This June, DC is again shaking up their superhero universe with Rebirth, a “not a reboot” patch job designed to fix their listing ship. DC is stuck in kind of a strange position. Critics hated the New 52, for good reason. But it sold, at least for a while. The DC Universe, without a doubt, lost more than it gained in that “not quite a reboot” but it had just enough life to draw in some new customers. Last year, DC rolled out their DC You line, a critically well received group of comics that has collectively sold like dog crap. I’ve loved them, and I would argue that the sales problems with DC You have as much to do with the comics industry’s ridiculous business model, but that doesn’t change the fact that the sales are what they are. So now DC is going with this new Rebirth initiative.

The complaint about Rebirth has largely been that DC is that it is completely backward looking, that they are appealing entirely to nostalgia instead of forging something new. That same complaint has been levied at the DC previous two comics to bear the Rebirth title, Green Lantern Rebirth and Flash Rebirth, and it has always been missing the point. There is an element of appealing to nostalgia, since both titles did reintroduce Silver Age stalwarts to the DC Universe, but that is not all that those were about. Before Green Lantern Rebirth, GL had been fine, with more than a decade of comics starring Kyle Rayner, the only GL in the universe. But that status quo was limiting. He was the only one. Rebirth, aside from bringing back Hal Jordan, took a step back to look at what Green Lantern was about and refocus on that. It didn’t just bring back Jordan, it brought back the whole Green Lantern Corps. And it did it without losing anything. Hall Jordan was back, but Kyle was there, still starring in his own book. Flash Rebirth was similar. Before it, the Flash book had been in dire straits. DC editorial had consistently screwed the book over, forcing changes that made no sense. By the time Barry Allen was brought back they had fully run the book into the ground. Flash Rebirth, aside from reintroducing Barry Allen to the wider DC Universe, put the focus on the whole Flash family. It made sure to take time to show every character and where they stood, repositioning them for stories going forward.

Out of Green Lantern Rebirth, Green Lantern exploded from one title to a line of titles. Each Earth based GL had a chance to shine. The outcome wasn’t as positive for Flash Rebirth, where the planned Flash family titles never materialized, what with delays and the coming of the New 52. Still, the work was done to set up those characters for further adventures. That seems like what DC Universe Rebirth is going for, refocusing on what makes their characters work to try to set thing up going forward. It does have the unfortunate effect of reducing the line to only the biggest name titles, all the little books are going away. They are not, obviously, going away forever. Yes, Black Canary, Midnighter and Starfire are not going to have solo books going forward, but they are still going to be appearing in titles.

So what does DC have on the slate for Rebirth? I am not going to go over everything, there are tons of places to get that information, but I will point out a few titles that look especially interesting to me. The books getting the biggest, most needed shot in the arm are the Superman books. While Dan Jurgens is far from an exciting pick for Action Comics, he’s done good work on Superman Lois & Clark and is generally fine. The writer of Superman, Peter Tomasi, is very underrated. His runs on Green Lantern Corps and Batman & Robin were both very good. His Superman should be great. Supergirl, New Superman and Super Sons all sound great as well.

The Batman books don’t look bad either. I almost wish Tom King was writing something else, but after Omega Men and Vision I’ll read whatever he writes. Also, Greg Rucka is back on Wonder Woman, which is cause for excitement. And finally there is Blue Beetle, with both Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord.

There are certainly things to be wary about with DC Rebirth. Their titles will mostly star the biggest of DC characters, but there even in that tight focus there seems a lot of space for smaller characters. Like the good sized cast of Batman supporting characters in Detective Comics. There is enough new and different around the edges to be excited about. And I can’t blame DC for being a little gun shy after the failure of DCYou.

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The Huntsman Winter’s War Review

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Watching Snow White and the Huntsman was something of a surprise for me last year. I skipped when it was in the theater and only watched by happenstance. It looked bad. Then I picked it up on a whim out of a bin and was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t exactly good, but it is much closer in tone to the sort of 80’s fantasy movies I loved rather than something more like Lord of the Rings. As someone who grew up on Willow, Legend and Ladyhawk, it was something of a mild delight. The Huntsman: Winter’s War dropped the worst part of the first movie, Snow White, and added in a couple of really entertaining actresses. I wasn’t quite excited to see it, but I was slightly eager. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is not a great movie, but at its best it is completely charming and fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War starts as a prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman with a dull opening half hour or so. It is not the worst thing ever, but it moves without life or energy as they set up Freya, who is essentially Elsa from Frozen. After that, it jumps ahead to after the first movie and gets picks up quite a bit. Instead of the full seven dwarves, this pares it down to two, at least for starters. Two with personality. Eric, the Huntsman, quickly gets a quest and is soon joined by his supposedly dead wife. It never breaks out of being a generic fantasy adventure, but it also never really tries to. It is content to let its largely fun characters play off each other on a series of small adventures that culminate in an epic showdown with two evil queens.

Chris Hemsworth is at his most charming in this movie, being the only well-adjusted protagonist. He smirks and saunters through the movie like a slightly off brand Harrison Ford. Jessica Chastain plays his stoic badass of a love interest. Nick Frost, Rob Brydon and Sheridan Smith are delightful as comic relief dwarves. The only disappointments are Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron, though that disappointment is not fault of the actresses. Theron continues to chew scenery are the unrepentantly evil queen Ravenna, but her role is small and her motivations completely lacking. Emily Blunt, meanwhile, is stuck between being a full villain and just being misunderstood, coming off as weak and flat.

The biggest problem I had with the movie is the ending. It sidelines so many characters for an ultimately unsatisfying fight. Ravenna steals the show at the end, but that mostly shoves all the characters that had been a part of this movie from the start off the screen. Some characters just disappear for the whole climax, essentially forgotten until it is over. The two protagonists, whose love is the central plot line of the movie, barely interact during it. It flails about and gets the job done, but in a wholly disappointing way.

Still, I like The Huntsman. The beginning and ending might be a mess, but that middle is oh so sweet. This is the kind of movie I would have fallen in love with renting the VHS from the grocery store as a child. It isn’t the best thing ever, but it also isn’t stupid or outright bad. It is a mostly okay, wholly generic fantasy movie. Sometimes that is enough.

Trails in the Sky FC

This game came so highly recommended that I’ve kept playing it, waiting it to turn into something good. About two thirds the way through the game, I realized that I am never going to warm up to it. This game is never going to morph into something else and it is not really what I want to play. Trails in the Sky does what it does very well, I am just not particularly interested in playing it.

Most of the things I really love about JRPGs aren’t really part of Trails in the Sky. The sense of world spanning adventure, like the 8 and 16-bit Final Fantasies all the way up to Skies of Arcadia and Xenoblade, is largely absent. Or strong, interesting battle systems. Or any system of character building. Trails in the Sky seems to be largely disinterested either of those things. That isn’t really a complaint. Not all games have to be all things, but I went in expecting one thing and got something entirely different.

Trails in the Sky’s battle system is fine, but the game doesn’t give the player a lot of opportunities to explore it. In the first half of the game there are only a few interesting battles and the game keeps rotating the last party member so you can’t get a feel for any sort of party cohesion. I am sure there are more efficient ways to get through some of the battles, but the game doesn’t really give the player the chance to explore their options.

As for a sense of exploration, the game has almost nothing to offer. Every area is just a largely well-rendered corridor. Exploration isn’t just not encouraged, it is all but impossible. It reminds me a lot of FFXIII, with its forcing the player to go a certain way, with no chance to backtrack or look around. Again, this is clearly not the game’s focus, but it is disappointing in a game sold to me as a classic JRPG adventure.

Then there is the story, in many ways the game’s greatest strength. Even that left me cold. Not that it is not effective in its storytelling, it is. But that it is inefficient. Trails in the Sky seems to be written on the assumption that anything one line of dialogue can do, three lines can do better. Every conversation runs on longer than it has any reason to, until any interest in the game’s forward momentum is lost. Expecting that to change after the halfway mark is a fool’s game. Trails in the Sky is what it is. I don’t begrudge the people who enjoy it their fun, but I don’t have time for it.

The Jungle Book

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There are two things at war in this new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. There are the absolutely stunning visuals, all fake but are still seamlessly integrated with the one real element in the film. Then there is the nearly lifeless way the story has been told. There is no denying that this movie looks good, but it manages to feel much longer than its 105 minute run time. Despite all the stars showing up to give voice to these characters the never manage to give any of them life. The movie just plods along, occasionally buoyed by a bit of humor or a call back to Disney’s classic animated version.

The visuals are the real star here, so that is where I’ll start. This movie is a technical achievement, a movie about nature that convinces the viewer of the reality of its setting despite having no real nature in it. Director Jon Favreau and the effects team have managed to create gorgeous, realistic computerize generated jungle. The animals that populate it are expressive without ever looking like cartoons. Even the one real element, the boy who plays Mowgli, doesn’t stand out, instead his seamless interaction makes the rest of the movie look all the more real. This movie looks great.

How great it looks makes it all the more sad that it tells it’s story with sagging aimlessness. It goes through almost all of the same vignettes that made up Disney’s animated version (or maybe their first animated version, with this one being the second) but nearly all of them feel like they are dragging their feet. The problem is not on the performers, with the easily recognizable cast giving largely pretty good performances, but on just how turgid the whole thing is.

For instance, take the King Louie scene. It starts with Mowgli getting kidnapped by monkeys, with the film showing them taking him through the trees, up a cliff and into a crumbling temple. Then he has a long conversation with Louie, a bright spot thanks to the inclusion of the old song. Afterwards, Baloo and Bagheera arrive to save him. This turns into an interminable scene where a fake bear and a fake panther fight fake monkeys. Except the monkeys can’t do anything to hurt the other two and they seem unwilling to do more than smack the monkeys around a little. It just keeps going on and on, perfect in its pointlessness. Meanwhile, Mowgli hides from Louie in the temple, leading to that scene you’ve seen a dozen times where he hides behind a pillar from his pursuer, who appears beside him after a camera pan. As soon as you see the pillars you know what is coming and movie never does anything more than exactly what you’d expect.

The parts that work the best are the two songs, call backs to that animated version. And that is the big problem with this movie. As amazing as the visuals are, there is no life in this telling. It references that more well-known version often enough that I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t just watch it instead.

**1/2

Mega Man Legacy Collection

The recently released on 3DS Mega Man Legacy Collection is just about a perfect product. Not that the six games in the collection are perfect, though Mega Man 2 and 3 are as close as any game comes, but this package is damn near perfect. The Mega Man Legacy Collection isn’t just the six NES Mega Man games slapped on a 3DS cartridge; it is a crafted collection that does its best to get to the heart of what made these games great in the first place.

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One point constantly brought up about MMLC is the accuracy of the ports. This has not been understated. The games play just like they did on the NES, warts and all. For most players this level of accuracy is not necessary. That is why most compilations don’t bother, instead opting to slap as many games on the disc as possible and call it a day. I don’t necessarily mind that approach. It is a great way to discover lost gems. I first encountered Gain Ground on a PS2 Sega Genesis collection. I don’t know if it is a good or accurate port; I do know that it is an excellent game that I likely never would have encountered elsewhere. Even though the usual compilations give players a cheap, effective way to experience old games, it is rarely the best way to replay favorites.

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A sloppily ported favorite isn’t the game you remember. I’ve purchased just about every version of Mega Man 3 available. Except for the NES game, which I borrowed and rented repeatedly, but never actually owned. Even to my untrained eye the 3DS and WiiU Virtual Console version aren’t quite right. For starters, the colors are way off. That is to say nothing of the even more compromised Anniversary Collection version. They are playable, but if you put the up next to the MMLC version of the game it is night and day. The games here look good and play good.

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What sets this game apart from other such collections is how much care is evident in the extras. Aside from just the games the MMLC includes a wealth of extras. It shows a level of care and thought that isn’t usually present in these collections. The challenge mode is great, as is the ability to practice against bosses whenever you want to. Maybe my favorite part is the extensive Museum mode, filled with art and info about all the bosses and enemies from the various games. It is heaven for a big Mega Man fan.

It all comes down the fact that the Mega Man Legacy Collection has six excellent games presented with the utmost care. There isn’t a better way to play these games.

Zootopia Review

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Disney continued its recent string of animated hits with Zootopia. Since Tangled reignited the somewhat moribund studio, Disney’s animated movies have collectively been great. From the excellent and original Wreck-it-Ralph to the megapopular Frozen, their recent movies have rivaled their Renaissance output in the early 90s. Zootopia does nothing to upset the apple cart despite being very different from what has come before. Zootopia is a mystery built on a strong and digestible message.

Zootopia is about Judy Hopps, a rabbit who all her life has dreamed of movie from her farm home to the big city to become a police officer. This is despite the fact that no rabbit has ever been a cop. After she achieves this dream, she finds herself put on meter duty before forcing herself onto a missing person’s case. As Judy looks for a missing otter, she is helped by Nick Wylde, a fox scam artist who knows his way around the city. Together they get to the bottom of a mystery that could rock Zootopia to its core.

Zootopia‘s prejudice metaphor has gotten the bulk of the attention, and while it is a good message, it doesn’t come through as clearly as it could. It starts with the prejudice against small herbivore like Judy before flipping it to be about prejudice against predators. I can’t tell if it is a well-reasoned, complex message or one that gets muddled somewhere along the way. I need to see the movie again to judge for sure. Either way, its main thrust is easy to determine and perfect for children, coming down to essentially be “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The part of the movie that works best is its mystery. It is a mystery for kids, but it should keep the viewer guessing until late in the game. Still, it follows that addictive formula of each clue leading to another clue as the two leads slowly sort things out.

Those two leads are another triumph. Judy is bubbly and bright. She shoves the plot along with sheer enthusiasm. That contrast nicely with the sarcastic and street-wise Nick. It is not the most original pairing, but the formula is perfectly executed here. There isn’t as much time for the rest of the characters to be explored thanks to how much time is spent with the leads. And thanks to the story being a mystery, they can’t even spend much time with the villain. Still, the remaining characters are enjoyable if briefly sketched.

Not all the bits work, like the naked hippy commune place, which goes on too long and doesn’t really amount to much or the mob boss Mr. Big. While the animation largely looks very good, there is a scene in the rain that looks kind of bad. Still, these are minor complaint in what is otherwise a really good film.

I love that Zootopia is reminiscent of Robin Hood, which despite its apparent cheapness is one of the most charming of Disney’s output. Like that movie, this is one I could see kids throwing one time after time and continually enjoying. Zootopia may not be the best of Disney’s recent output, but it belongs in the conversation.

****

What I Read March 2016

I read the usual four books in March. I haven’t had the time I’d like to stay on my reading lately, but I think I can still keep up this pace.

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Bossypants

Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a very funny woman. I absolutely loved 30 Rock and her movies with Amy Poehler are mostly really good. This book translates that into to prose form. It works. It is a comedic series of anecdotes telling stories from Fey’s life if not her life story. She tells how she got into the comedy and theater, how she became a writer, then sometimes performer on SNL to 30 Rock. It is clearly written in the same voice that permeated her time on Weekend Update and 30 Rock. I don’t know what else to say that doesn’t harm the reading of a comedy book. It is good stuff.

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The Master Magician

Charlie N Holmberg

The third in Charlie Holmberg’s Paper Magician series.  Like the previous two, I liked it, but I do have some problems with it.  Mostly that none of these books have much in the way of a middle.  The Master Magician sets the table with a good beginning, before hurtling past all the story possibilities raised to get to its conclusion. It is still a fun ride, and Ceony is a really great main character. Holmberg does an excellent job setting up an interesting world and magical system, but it just doesn’t feel like there is enough space to explore it satisfactorily.

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The Princess Bride

William Goldman

I have frequently called this my favorite book ever. Somedays it is. It has been overshadowed by the excellent film version, but the book still has plenty to offer. It works an amazing trick of containing the same events, plus or minus a Zoo of Death, with a lot of the same fun adventurous tone that still manages to have the complete opposite outlook. The movie is a sweeping tale of love and adventure, the book is a tale about how love and adventure are futile and end terribly. It is a similar experience but with completely different conclusions. It is also very funny. Read it sometime.

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Royal Chaos

Dan McGirt

Comedy writing is hard and there is nothing quite as painful as bad “funny” writing. Royal Chaos is nothing but that. It tries to be a humorous take on generic fantasy tropes, it ends up being an excruciatingly unfunny march through all the stuff people hate about fantasy novels. Royal Chaos is the second book of what I guess was a trilogy about Jason Cosmo, some dude who ends being or being mistaken for the hero of legend. After his wizard pal’s fiancé is murdered, they team up to get revenge. There is nothing more to it than that. It reads like a novelized version of someone’s D&D game, with all of their funny jokes included. Except you’re not reading it with your gaming buddies while you knock back a few a beers and this stuff isn’t funny on its own. I bought this book because I thought the cover looked funny in a bad way. This is a case where you can judge a book by its cover, because the insides reflect the outsides. It is goofy, but not particularly well-done.

Now Playing in March 2016

I didn’t play much besides Fire Emblem in March. That and Ace Attorney. I just didn’t make time to play much. Honestly, my interest in new games keeps dropping lower. I still feel little desire to pick up a new system, being more content to go down with the WiiU ship and reassess my commitment to this hobby once game for it and the 3DS dry up.

Beaten

Fire Emblem Fate: Conquest – read about it here.

Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations – read about it here.

R-Type III – Read about it here.

Ongoing

Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess –

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I just played through this last year, so while I jumped on the HD remake, I was not quite as eager to play it. Still, arguing on the internet got me to fire it to see just how slow the opening section is. It’s not that slow. It doesn’t rush, but the game builds its world with care and gives the player interesting things to do for about 45 minutes before the action starts in earnest. I’ll get to the rest of the game before too long, but for now that taste was enough to sate me.

Bravely Second Demo – The Bravely Second demo shows what the game is: more Bravely Default. As someone who liked the first game just fine, that sounds great. I hope the end of the game doesn’t fall apart quite as much, but this demo shows that it kept most of the good parts around. I can’t wait for the full game.

Return to Popolocrois

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I’ve only barely cleared the intro, but it is about what I expected. It is really low key and charming. It doesn’t make for a pressing, compelling experience, but it is certainly relaxing. At some point I will write this game up, but it might be some time because I am not going to rush through it.

Trails in the Sky – The more I play this game the more it seems like something I should like, but for some reason I just don’t. I can’t quite put my finger on it, and things aren’t helped by the fact that my PSP always seems to be dead. I will push on through and finish up in April.

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom – read about it here.

Super Mario RPG – I’ve made it about halfway through this and it’s been an amazing experience so far. It is very much a product of 16-bit era Squaresoft and I forgotten how well they had master role playing games on the SNES. I don’t think it captures the Mario experience as well as later Mario RPGs nor is it as good as Square’s best on the system, but it is close enough to both that it is just wonderful.

Upcoming

Bravely Second – I am getting kind of RPGed out, but I am glad we are seeing this game. The first game was great until about the third time through it, so hopefully they change the structure some, but I am up for another romp with these mechanics.

Enslaved Journey to the West – I’ve got this downloaded on my PS3 and I’ve already played the intro, but I will start it in earnest next month some time. I hope it lives up to the praises some friends of mine have sung for it.

Star Fox 0 – I am equally dreading and anticipating this game. I love Star Fox 64, but I don’t really care for any other game in the series. I guess the two Gamecube games weren’t horrible, but I kind of hated the DS game. This series feels in many ways like Nintendo’s Sonic the Hedgehog. It was great once, but they don’t know how to evolve the series to keep it relevant. At least this one seems to actually just be the stuff people want out of Star Fox.

Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse – Another SNES game I’ve never played. The 16-bit Mickey games seem to be rather well-regarded, but I’ve never touched them. I don’t expect it to take me long to get through it. I’ll get on it right after I finish Super Mario RPG.

What I Watched in March 2016

I saw a lot of movies in March, I don’t expect that to be repeated in April. For one thing, I am running out of unwatched DVDs to toss in and finally clear off my list. For another, I’m feeling a little burnt out. There will likely be an uptick in TV entries, though, with new seasons of Trailer Park Boys and Bob’s Burgers hitting Netflix, and my resolve to start clearing out the TV portion of Netflix queue. I will have more to say about some of the stuff here. Once their seasons end I am going to do a round-up of this year’s superhero shows. And once I watch Life Aquatic and Bottle Rocket, the last two Wes Anderson movies I haven’t seen, I’ll want to write up something about his work.

Movies

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – read my review here. ***
  • Blade Runner – This movie is great. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it until last month. I saw, I believe, the theatrical version; whichever one was on Netflix. The voiceover doesn’t quite work sometimes, but the rest is comfortably excellent. It is one of the greatest true science fiction movies. *****
  • The Eagle – A somewhat labored story about a Roman legionnaire’s quest to redeem his family name. It is just another example of movie in which Jamie Bell is the best part of something that is otherwise mediocre. **1/2
  • Justice League War – read my review here. **
  • Man Up – A fun little romantic comedy starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. Bell’s character takes the place of a woman who is supposed to be meeting Pegg’s for a blind date. From there things proceed just about how you’d expect them to. Still, it is well executed and funny, largely thanks to the likeability of both Pegg and Bell. Definitely worth a look on Netflix. ***1/2
  • Moonrise Kingdom – I watched a ton of Wes Anderson movies this month, starting with this one. It is his usual idiosyncratic style focused on a much younger set of protagonists. The intense stylization works well recreating the slight unreality of childhood. Movies about children often rest on the shaky acting performances of children, but the two stars of this one do great. The subject matter here is a great fit for Anderson’s style. *****
  • Grand Budapest Hotel – another Wes Anderson movie that has a setting the perfectly fits his visual style. A Hotel Concierge inherits a valuable painting from a wealthy patron and must fend off a murderous relative of hers to claim what is his, all set against the backdrop of the start of the second world war. It is playfully, yet dark at times. Really, just a stupendously entertaining film. *****
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradoxread my review here. **
  • Kung Fury – A delightful little experiment in how much craziness someone could shove into 30 minutes. It is high weird, but fortunately it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. To those with the right sensibility it is hilarious. ****1/2
  • Turbo Kid – This operates along a similar premise to Kung Fury, but it is actually a good movie on top of being a spot on pastiche of the stuff like Mad Max. It wears its inspiration on its sleeves, but underneath the jokey premise and absurd gore is the core of a very good movie. *****
  • Son of Batmanread my review here. ***
  • Killing them Softly – A brutal takedown of the American spirit, as expressed by our love of Capitalism. This is a movie about bad people doing bad things. But most of them do it with a quiet dispassion that makes it all the more awful. ***
  • Bronson – A pitch black look at the mind of a criminal. I didn’t like it. There is no story here, just the vile acts of a vile man. **
  • In the Name of the King – Dear God this movie is terrible. It is full of people who wanted some of that LotR money (Or who got it, John Rhys Davies) but made by someone with no clue how to tell a story. It is comically terrible throughout, with little or no attempt made to be anything other than complete, unrepentant shit. 1/2
  • American Hustle – Great movie. The all-star cast really plays off each other well. Bale and Adams play small time grifters who get caught up in an FBI sting that keeps getting bigger and bigger until it gets completely out of hand. It moves from catching a Mayor to congressmen to the mob, and the protagonists are just trying to find a way to extricate themselves. It is great. *****
  • Kingdom of Dreams and Madness – This isn’t something that would normally be up my alley, a nearly two hour long foreign language documentary, but I am a big fan of studio Ghibli and it is all but impossible for me to pass up. It is full of insight into how they do their business. Knowing that the studio is currently winding down production makes this all the more touching. This is just a great look into the workings of maybe the best animation studio to ever exist. ****
  • Enemy at the Gates – This is a highly uneven movie. There are some truly great scenes, but there is also some generic crap mixed in. I loved most of the sniper fights. They were tense and riveting. On the other hand, the love triangle and romance were poorly done. It makes for an uneven but not unenjoyable viewing experience. ***
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – read review here. ***
  • Rushmore – Anderson again, this time dealing with the difficulty of growing up. In it a student falls for an elementary school teacher and ends up competing for her affections with a disillusioned businessman. Things end up getting kind of nasty before it ends, but it is ultimately a story about growth. *****
  • The Darjeeling Limited – this is widely considered one of Anderson’s lesser films, and I can see that, but the interplay between the three central brothers in the movie rings very true to me. It is much like how my brother’s and I get along when we haven’t been together for some time. It does kind of meander and not really get anywhere, but it is an enjoyable trip. *****

TV

  • Daredevil S2 – I was initially wowed by the first season of Daredevil, but I cooled on the show considerably before it ended. I still came out with largely positive feelings, but gore and violence got to me. And its utter self-seriousness. This is a TV show about a blind ninja lawyer who fights crime; there is room for levity. These are all problems that the second season could have and looked to fix, but it didn’t. The gore was, if anything, even worse. I tapped out during The Punisher’s prison fight and stopped watching the show for more than a week. Despite adding a host of downright silly elements, like warring ninja factions and reviving ninja magic, the show still treated every element with the utmost seriousness. The parts of the first season that were unimpeachably good, like the strong plotting, were lost. The last few episodes of this were nonsense that barely even attempted to pull the various plotlines this season set up together for a conclusion. Maybe the biggest problem is that Matt became the least interesting, most static character on the show. Everyone around him is growing and changing, but he is stuck where he is. With its second season, the show lost both me and its main character.
  • Poirot S10 – Another month, another series of Poirot finished. This one had an episode with Michael Fassbender, which was a highlight. I don’t really have anything new to say about this show. It is well-made but largely unexciting. I’ll finish up the last few series shortly.
  • Broadchurch S2 – The first season was a gripping murder mystery, this season spent its time tearing everything the first season built up to down. It ends up being largely unsatisfying. The court stuff mostly seems like an excuse to wallow in misery, something even the first season was prone to do but it was especially bad here. The other half of the season had the two stars looking back into the murder that Det. Hardy supposedly messed up before the first series. That portion of the show mostly works, though it does have some ridiculous twists.
  • Flash – Only two episodes this month, and they were fine. Nothing too mind blowing in either of them, but still solidly entertaining hours for the show. The first one had the team coming to the realization that Jay was Zoom all along and the second has another attempt by Barry to learn to go faster with time travel. They do skirt around the rules of time travel, but both episodes work. Now it’s another two week break before the show comes back for its last half dozen episodes.
  • Arrow – Two good episodes of the show this month, despite dealing with a frustrating plot twist in the break-up of Oliver and Felicity. This show has pivoted into being more like the Flash this season and the results have largely been good even if it has been uneven.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – The March episodes of this were strong; it really felt like the show finding somewhat stronger footing. They fought time pirates and the league of assassins. There are still flaws, Vandal Savage has never lived up to his potential and characters keep getting lost in the shuffle, but it is still more entertaining than not.
  • Supergirl – After the series low point in in Solitude, the last three episodes have been really strong. The little too quick fall of Siobhan Smythe was actually a fun bit and the status quo has been shaken up in a good way. The real highlight was Worlds’ Finest, the crossover episode with the Flash, which didn’t do a lot with its villains but was otherwise completely delightful. This show still hasn’t been picked up for another season and it will be a damn crime if its not.