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News Around the Net

June 17th, 2021

This is a great new trailer for the film adaptation of Tick, Tick…Boom!, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda!

I loved the second season of For All Mankind.  If you’re not yet watching this Apple TV+ show, I encourage you to start immediately!!  Click here for an interview with co-creator Ronald D. Moore.  (Is it possible For All Mankind could run for seven seasons…?  That’d be amazing!!)

Speaking of Mr. Moore… he also co-created the reimagined Battlestar Galactica from the aughts.  Last week I posted this incredible video of a live performance of All Along the Watchtower by Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary, accompanied by Starbuck herself, Katee Sackhoff:

I watched that quite a few times!  Then I fell down something of a rabbit hole online, and I found great stuff like this full Battlestar Galactica concert by Bear McCreary and company:

Then I found and enjoyed this 2016 concert of Star Trek music from across the Trek franchise, from the Film Music Prague Festival:

Back in 2016, I reviewed Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, a magnificent two-CD set in which the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer, performed music from across the fifty year history of Star Trek.  Then, in an extremely geeky move, I decided to create my own vision of a concert capturing the very best Star Trek music from across all the movies and TV series.  Click here to see what my ideal Trek concert would have been!

When I was a kid, I loved watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoons and playing with those toys.  Will this modern continuation of the show, overseen by producer Kevin Smith, be any good?  I must admit that I’m intrigued:

This is a weird story — a few weeks after it was announcing that Clarice was moving from CBS to Paramount+ for its second season, the show has now been cancelled.  I had zero interest in ever watching that show, but I’m interested in the behind-the-scenes showbiz machinations.  I must also admit to been a teensy bit pleased to see Alex Kurtzman stumble (even though I know I shouldn’t indulge in that schadenfreude).  I wish someone would take the reins of the modern Star Trek TV series away from him…

Speaking of Trek, here’s a trailer for the second season of Star Trek: Picard:

I have little hope this new season will be any good, but as always I will try to go in with an open mind and an open heart…

Sad news that actor Ned Beatty has passed away.  He was a great actor with a long career, though to me he will always and indelibly be Otis from 1979’s Superman: [continued]

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Josh Reviews Without Remorse

June 14th, 2021

I was very excited when it was first announced that Michael B. Jordan would be starring in a feature adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel Without Remorse.  I recently watched the film, streaming on Amazon Prime.  It’s a solid mid-level action movie, but I must confess that I had hoped for better.

I’ve never read Mr. Clancy’s novel, but from what I know of the book, this film seems to have completely reinvented the story.  Michael B. Jordan plays John Kelly, a Navy SEAL who, as the film opens, is involved with his team in the dangerous rescue of a captured CIA operative.  Kelly and his team believe they’re rescuing the CIA agent from Syrians, but the group turn out to be Russian military.  In revenge, the Russians hunt down and kill most of Kelly’s team, and also his pregnant wife.  Kelly is grievously injured but survives, and with the help of his friend Karen Greer (whose uncle is Jack Ryan’s friend Jim Greer), he sets out to find the Russians.  Greer wants to stop a potentially violent group, while Kelly is out for revenge…

Michael B. Jordan is, as always, great.  He has a magnetic charisma that commands the screen.  His physical presence is impressive, but more impressive is how he can bring a rich inner life to the characters he portrays.  What works in Without Remorse is mostly a credit to Mr. Jordan.  He’s inspired casting for this character (who will become John Clark, an important character in the Tom Clancy universe).  The force of his personality pulled me, as an audience member, into the film.  He elevates what is otherwise just a so-so action movie.

There’s a lot of plot in this film, but I didn’t feel it came together in a way that made much sense, or that felt natural and smooth.  I found a lot of problems.  We don’t get to know Kelly’s team well enough at the start of the film for their deaths to carry much weight.  On the other hand, I was extremely bummed by the murder of Kelly’s pregnant wife.  In 2021, haven’t we moved beyond the idea of having a woman’s murder be used as the inspiring incident for a male hero?  Enough of that already.  The film eventually builds to the idea that someone is trying to provoke the United States and Russia into war, which is a sort of hokey James Bond villain premise that the movie never really sells.  (Also, the identity of the behind-the-scenes villain is painfully easy to guess.)

The cast is solid but I didn’t feel the characters were developed as deeply as I’d hoped.  I loved Jodie Turner-Smith’s work as Karen Greer, and I … [continued]

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News Around the Net

The COVID-caused drought in new MCU movies is going to end soon!  I can’t wait to see Black Widow, and I’m intrigued by this first look at The Eternals:

And in cause for additional rejoicing, a new Edgar Wright film is on its way to us.  I love this bizarre and beautiful trailer for Last Night in Soho:

Watch Emma Stone perform Steve Martin’s f-bomb-filled monologue from Planes, Trains and Automobiles?  Don’t mind if I do!

Watch Katee Sackhoff and Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary perform All Along the Watchtower live?  DON’T MIND IF I DO!!!

Click here for a fantastic interview with Mr. McCreary, talking all about the music of Battlestar and the very cool sounding new release of So Say We All: Battlestar Galactica Live, an album of live performances of music from the show.

Speaking of cool new albums, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s full soundtrack album is finally being released!  I love that underrated film.

This trailer for Who Are You, Charlie Brown? makes me very happy:

I can’t wait to watch that.

Here’s a nice little new featurette with Ben Burtt and John Roesch on the sound work they did for Raiders of the Lost Ark:

That featurette was released to promote the new 4K release of the four Indy films.

Readers of this site might be interested in this kickstarter to create a documentary film called 1982: Greatest Geek Year Ever, that will look back at all of the incredible movies released in 1982.  Sounds like fun!

Cool news that H.K. Jemesin’s Broken Earth trilogy of novels are being adapted for film.

Thank you for reading and supporting this site!!  Hope to see you back here soon!

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Please support MotionPicturesComics.com by clicking through one of our Amazon links the next time you need to shop!  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  That means I’ll receive a small percentage from any product you purchase from Amazon within 24 hours after clicking through.  Thank you!

[continued]

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Josh Reviews Master of None: Moments in Love

It’s been four years since the second season of Master of None.  I’d assumed the show was finished.  That saddened me, because I absolutely adored the first two seasons of Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang’s series.  (Click here for my review of season one and click here for my review of season two.)  To my great delight, the series has returned with a five-episode installment titled “Moments in Love.”  This new short season focuses on Denise (Lena Waithe), a stand-out supporting character from the first two seasons, and her partner Alicia (Naomie Ackie).

I enjoyed watching “Moments in Love”, but this new mini-season represents a huge departure for the series.  To be honest, I’m of mixed feelings whether this should have been called Master of None at all or if it would have been better for this to have stood on its own as an entirely new thing.  While the first two seasons of Master of None focused on Aziz Ansari’s character Dev, Dev is almost entirely absent from these new episodes.  (He makes two brief appearances.)  Other than Denise, all of the show’s other characters have been jettisoned.  The show looks very different visually, with a 4×3 aspect ratio and a distinctly different style of long, uninterrupted takes and very few close-up coverage shots.   Most importantly, the tone of this new season is completely different.  There are almost no jokes to be found.  This is a very somber, elegiac, melancholy season, telling a story that is emotionally wrenching.

One of my favorite aspects of the first two seasons of Master of None was the soulfulness found among the comedy.  The show never shied away from telling emotional and dramatically real stories.  And yet, I never tuned into Master of None expecting to watch a melancholy drama.  I’m reminded of when Woody Allen shifted from his funny films to the entirely serious, dramatic 1978 film Interiors.  

However, I enjoyed this season of Master of None quite a bit more than I did Interiors!!

It’s a pleasure to see Lena Waithe’s Denise given the spotlight, and Naomie Ackie (Jannah in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) is a dynamite partner for her.  Both women turn in very powerful, moving, and emotionally real performances.  I loved their on-screen chemistry.  They have such a great energy together onscreen right from the start of the first episode (which is part of what makes the roller-coaster journey the two go on, over the course of the season, so painful to watch).  Both women really shine throughout the season.  These are Emmy-worthy performances, without question.

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe co-wrote all five episodes, and Mr. Ansari directed them all.  I’m impressed by what … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Dispatches From Elsewhere

Jason Segel created and stars in Dispatches from Elsewhere, a bizarre, twisty tale of four oddballs who become friends and deeply affect one another while participating in an elaborate social experiment/game that may or may not actually involve the true-life disappearance of a young, innovative artist many years earlier.  This ten-episode series aired on AMC last spring, and it seems to have gone mostly under the radar.  I suspect some people might find its wry, off-kilter tone to be off-putting — but I found it to be a pleasing delight.  I’m glad I took the journey, and I think this series is worth your time if you missed it last year.

The series is engagingly playful with the normal structures of TV dramas.  There’s a meta, self-aware aspect of the series right from the very beginning, in which Richard E. Grant speaks directly into the camera and addresses the viewer.  (The series gets extra-super-duper meta in the final episode, which is the one aspect of the series that didn’t quite work for me.  More on that later.)  I loved Mr. Grant’s monologues, which opened most every episode.  They were just the right balance of intriguingly weird to hook my interest.  But it wasn’t just those opening monologues; throughout the series, I enjoyed when the show took the opportunity to play with the typical structure of a TV show, from the guy literally saying “work stuff, work stuff” to Jason Segel’s character at one point in the premiere (in a scene which called for work-related dialogue that wasn’t actually relevant), to the cartoon introduction to Janice’s background in episode three, and many more examples like that.

The series is packed with mysteries, and the ten episode season takes the viewer on a fun, twisty ride.  (There are definitely shades of Lost to be found in all the twisty-turny mysteries and the men-who-might-not-be-what-they-seem and their bizarre introductory videos…)  I enjoyed the mysteries, but the reason this show worked for me were the characters.  I loved the exploration of these four people — each very different, each damaged in their own way, and each played by a fantastic actor.

Jason Segel plays Peter, a shy, lonely person who feels trapped in his boring data-entry job and his isolated existence.  Mr. Segel is compelling as always, although he’s played this sort of sad-sack, lost soul before.  I always love seeing Mr. Segel on screen (I’ve been a huge fan ever since Freaks and Geeks), but I appreciated how he and the show allowed his co-stars room to shine.  Eve Lindley is a revelation as Simone, a trans woman whose jovial nature belies her deep insecurities.  I was delighted by this character and I loved … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Invincible Season One

May 24th, 2021
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Invincible is a new Amazon animated series, adapting the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley.  The series focuses on Mark Grayson, whose father Nolan is the Superman-like super-hero called Omni-Man.  When Mark turns 17, he discovers that he too has super-powers, and he steps into the world of super-heroes and super-villains.  I’m a big fan of the comic book series, and I was blown away by how great the Amazon adaptation was!

The series is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the first few years’ run of the comic book series.  Watching the show, I was delighted by how accurate the show was to the comic; from the look of the characters down to the recreation of scene after scene from the comics.  The show felt to me like basically a word-for-word adaptation of the comic.  I’d never seen anything like it.

After watching the show, I went back and re-read the first several Invincible trade paperbacks, and at that point I was even more impressed with the skill in this adaptation.  I discovered that actually the show had made a ton of changes to the comic.  They moved sequences around, they expanded scenes here and reordered scenes there.  It’s not a word-for-word adaptation after all.  But it FEELS like a word-for-word adaptation.  And time and again, as I discovered places where the show had changed things from the comics, I felt those changes strengthened the show.  Clearly, the show’s creators understood that comic books and TV/movies are different mediums.  While fans (myself included) often think that what they want is for a TV or movie to adapt a comic book story exactly, that’s not actually the best approach.  Here’s an example: I really liked Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City movie (based on Frank Miller’s comic book series), which was very unusual in that it was basically an exact duplication of the comic book source material.  But as much fun as that movie was, and as cool as it was to see the panels of the comic book duplicated almost exactly on screen, I didn’t think the stories were nearly as effective on screen as they were on the page.  The pacing was off — things moved too fast, the story and characters didn’t feel to me like they had time to breathe.  This is because it took a lot longer to read a 24-page comic book; so what felt carefully paced on the page came off as far too breakneck on the screen.  Characters who felt fully-realized in the comics came off as one-dimensional on screen.  It was cool and fun, but it din’t altogether work.

And so I am incredibly impressed … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

May 19th, 2021

Here’s a trailer for the Apple TV+ adaptation of Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story:

That looks creepy!  Stephen King adaptations can be hit or miss but I like the looks of this and it’s got a great cast.  (I need to find the time to read the original novel before watching this…)

I already own the Indiana Jones moves on DVD and in blu-ray… will I be able to resist a purchase of them in 4K?

That trailer really makes me smile.  (Though weirdly the trailer mentions “four unforgettable adventures”… I’m pretty certain there are only three canonical Indiana Jones movies, right?)

I like this tease for the upcoming Monsters, Inc. sequel series coming to Disney+, Monsters at Work:

I know at least one person for who HBO Max’s (delayed by pandemic) Friends reunion will be Must See TV!  Here’s the trailer:

When I was a kid the idea of a Snake Eyes movie would have blown my mind.  Now, sadly, I’m afraid I really couldn’t care less…

(Does anything better show a failure of imagination than the dumb “G.I. Joe Origins” subtitle?  Hey, it sure worked for X-Men Origins: Wolverine…!!)

Is this truly a real thing?  The band “Mouse Rat” (from Parks and Recreation) is actually releasing an album…?

Here’s the video for “5,000 Candles In The Wind (Bye Bye Li’l Sebastian)”:

This is exciting news: Bruce Timm (mastermind of Batman: The Animated Series, which in my opinion still stands as the best non comic book version of the Batman character ever made) (though Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight comes close…), Matt Reeves (director of the upcoming The Batman film) and J.J. Abrams are collaborating on a new animated Batman series for HBO Max called Batman: Caped Crusader.  Will this be anywhere near as good as Batman: The Animated Series…?  I dunno, but I can’t wait to find out…!

I was sad to read that Paul Mooney has passed away.  Mr. Mooney was a brilliant and trailblazing comedian, writer and performer.

I was also sad to read that Charles Grodin has passed away. I’ve loved Mr. Grodin in so many films, from Albert Brooks’ Real Life to Dave and so many more…

Joe Cornish and John Boyega are making a sequel to Attack the Block...??!!  Wowsers!!  I love Attack the Block — if you’ve never seen it, you should do so immediately!!  (Click here for my review.)  It’s a fantastic sci-fi comedy adventure.  (And it made John Boyega a star, pre-Star Wars.)  I hope this really happens…

Thanks for reading!

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Please support MotionPicturesComics.com by clicking through one of our Amazon links the next [continued]

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Star Trek: Serpents in the Garden

The second season Original Series episode “A Private Little War” is, in my opinion, one of the most compelling and at the same time one of the most disappointing episodes of the Original Series.  The episode sets up a wonderful conundrum for Captain Kirk, as he returns to an eden-like world, Neural, that’d he’d visited as a younger officer, only to discover that the Klingons have secretly begun arming a tribe of the natives.  These “villagers” have used their Klingon-given flintlock rifles (primitive compared to Starfleet’s phasers, but beyond anything else found on this formerly peaceful planet) to war with the pacifist “Hill People.”  Kirk, believing that he has to maintain a balance of power on the planet, makes the controversial choice to arm the Hill People with similar weapons.  It’s a powerful Cold War analogy, a great example of the way that Star Trek would use its sci-fi day to tell stories that were profoundly relevant to the time.

But the episode ends on a shockingly unresolved note.  Kirk seems to, at the end, realize that he himself is the serpent in the garden of Eden, and that an escalation of violence will not solve anything.  But then the Enterprise just leaves and nothing is resolved!  We never learn what happened down on the planet.  Were the Klingons exposed and forced to leave, or did they stay?  Were the Hill People and the Villagers able to make peace, or did they use their newfound weapons to continue to war with one another?  And what of Kirk’s friend, Tyree, the Hill People’s leader?  When last we saw him, his wife had just been murdered by the Villagers, and this formerly peace-loving man had run off with murderous vengeance in mind.  Whatever happened to him??  “A Private Little War” always felt to me like a great episode missing its final ten minutes.

As such, it was ripe for a follow-up, and I quite enjoyed Jeff Mariotte’s “Serpents in the Garden.”  Set a few months prior to the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kirk returns to Neural to see what has happened there and to try to undo some of the mistakes he’d made in his previous visit.  As might have been expected, things have gotten worse on Neural, not better, and the Klingons are more of a threat there than ever.

I enjoyed reading this fun extrapolation of what might have happened on Neural after the credits on “A Private Little War” rolled.  It’s great to see Tyree again, and I enjoyed the way Mr. Mariotte developed several new characters among the Hill People, as well as how he brought back the Villager leader Apella and also the Klingon … [continued]

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