I fell in love, last year, with the BBC’s modern-day reinvention of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock, when I watched the first two seasons on DVD. Starring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, the show is a dynamic, clever spin on the Holmes mythos. (Click here for my review of season 1, and here for my review of season 2.) It’s been a long wait for season 3 (even longer for everyone who watched season 2 when it originally aired), and I was thrilled to have this great show back. (Albeit briefly! The show’s unique structure is that each season consists of only three hour-and-a-half long episodes. I love that the show-runners focus on just telling three great stories each season rather than stretching things out. Still, it’s hard not to wish for more!!)
Here are my thoughts on Sherlock season three:
“The Empty Hearse” – The first episode has the unenviable task, first and foremost, of resolving last season’s cliffhanger satisfactorily. At the end of “The Reichenback Fall” we saw Sherlock apparently fall to his death. In the two years since that show aired, fans have speculated endlessly as to how Sherlock could have possibly survived. I suspect that the show’s ever-growing popularity combined with the unexpectedly long hiatus between seasons (caused primarily by the very busy schedules of stars Cumberbatch and Freeman) caused the fan-focus on that cliffhanger to have grown far more intense than the show-runners intended. After so long, it’s hard to imagine their spinning a suitably satisfactory resolution without it feeling like a cheat, and, indeed, I don’t think they did. I am of a mixed mind concerning the approach they took, that of showing us various possible answers without actually revealing which was the real one. On the one hand, I think it’s a clever way to play with the audience’s expectations, and to deflect too much scrutiny being placed on the one “real” answer to the cliffhanger riddle. On the other hand, it still feels like something of a cop-out to me. I will say that Mr. Cumberbatch’s delivery of the line “You know my methods, John” (in response to Watson’s pushing Sherlock for the true answer as to how he survived) is magnificent and goes a long way towards justifying this approach to resolving the cliffhanger.
I also appreciated the episode’s focus, not so much on the mechanics of Sherlock’s survival, but on the emotional impact his feigning death would have had on his friends and allies, particularly Watson. I was not expecting the show to emulate our real-time two-year wait for more episodes by jumping ahead two years following Sherlock’s apparent death, but I loved that approach and felt it led … [continued]
In my opinion, Star Trek: Voyager was by far the weakest of the Star Trek TV series. I felt that the show never lived up to its premise (of the difficulties one lone starship would face, all on their own eighty thousand light-years from home), and even more disappointingly, I felt there was almost zero character development over the course of the series’ seven years. (You could watch a first season episode and then watch a seventh season episode and see little to no difference in the dynamics of the characters.) I watched Voyager all the way through its seven years, but there are hardly any episodes I have ever re-watched. (Whereas I have seen every episode of the Original Series, Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine many, many times… and I have even watched Enterprise through a few times over the years.)
Pocket Books has published some Voyager novels over the years, but I never bought any of them until Kirsten Beyer’s Full Circle in 2009. (Click here for my original review.) I am not sure what prompted me to buy a Voyager book. Maybe the gorgeous cover image (Voyager has never looked so good!). More likely I was excited to read any book picking up the pieces after David Mack’s incredible trilogy Star Trek: Destiny, a story that chronicled the long-feared Borg invasion of Federation space and all of the catastrophes that followed. I was eager to see what happened to all of the Trek characters following Destiny, and I think I was also very interested in reading about the Voyager crew’s reactions to the death of Janeway (brutally killed off by Peter David in his TNG book Before Dishonor).
To my surprise, I loved Full Circle. Kirsten Beyer’s lengthy book spanned several years of Trek continuity, catching up the Voyager crew with the events of the past few years of TNG novels. I enjoyed the character arcs given to each member of the Voyager ensemble. I felt that I got to know and care about the Voyager crew in this book far more than I ever did in the TV series. Full Circle ended with Voyager leading a fleet of nine starships on a mission back to the Delta Quadrant, hoping to confirm what had happened to the Borg following the events of Destiny. I was excited to see what happend next.
But then, though I bought the next several Voyager novels written by Ms. Beyer, I never read them. I think that as the months went on, though I remembered enjoying Full Circle, my over-all dislike for Star Trek: Voyager reared its head, and I just never found myself interested … [continued]
I’m pleased that an “oldie but goodie” from Motion Pictures has again been included in Badass Digest‘s new feature, Badass Sunday Comics! This is a bi-weekly post that includes comics poking fun at a variety of movie-related topics. It’s a fun feature, and I’m thrilled to be included.
Also, I am very excited to announce that the kickstarter for the Jewish Comix Anthology has been successfully backed!! I am thrilled and honored to be included in this 250-page hardcover anthology, featuring the work of Jewish comics artists such as Art Spiegelman, Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, and an incredible array of other artists. This book will hopefully be published this summer.
There are still 24 hours left to the kickstarter campaign, and we’d love the help of some additional backers as we strive to reach our stretch goals. In addition to owning this sure-to-be-awesome Comix Anthology, there are lots of other great backer rewards including the opportunity to purchase the original art from one of these two Motion Pictures cartoons!!
Well, the academy’s list of Best Picture nominees didn’t look much anything like my list of the Best Movies of 2013, but that’s to be expected! (For comparison’s sake, click here for part one of my Best Movies of 2013 list, here for part two, and here for part three.)
But this year’s Best Picture nominees were a strong list. I’ve missed a few — all of which I hope to see soon — but I’m pleased to have seen most of the nominees.
I finally saw Her just last week, and my review will be coming later this week. (Spoiler alert: I loved it!)
I’m hoping to get to 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Nebraska soon. Rest assured I’ll be back here with my thoughts when I do.
I thought the Oscars show was pretty strong this year. Ellen was a solid host. I liked that she continued as a presence throughout the show, rather than dropping out of sight after the first hour as the hosts often do. She had some good jokes, and the pizza bit was amusing. I could have done without Pink’s serenade to The Wizard of Oz. And Bette Midler. (Why did we have to sit through her whole song AFTER the In Memoriam montage? Was the reason she didn’t just sing over the montage because she had to be on camera the whole time? Ugh.) But otherwise the show was funny and there were some decent speeches.
As for the best picture winner, I was pulling for Gravity or The Wolf of Wall Street but 12 Years a Slave certainly seems like a deserving film. I am pleased that Alfonso Cuaron won for Best Director and that Spike Jonze won for Best Original Screenplay, it was nice to see those two deserving films get honored. And I am pleased that Gravity won so many of the technical awards, that film really was a visual marvel. (Though how The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug wasn’t even nominated in most of those technical and artistic categories is a mystery to me.)
So while these films weren’t necessarily my very favorite films of 2013, there were some well-deserving films represented, and I enjoyed the show. Some years Oscar night leaves me very frustrated, but that wasn’t the case this time. I love movies, … [continued]
Based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith, the film Philomena tells the based-on-a-true-story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), an elderly Irish woman. Fifty years earlier, she became pregnant as a young girl and was sent to an Irish Catholic convent. She delivered the baby, and was forced to work in the convent for several years to pay off her debt, while the nuns gave her son up for adoption without her consent. Philomena has longed her whole life to be reunited with her son, but the nuns in the convent have claimed to be unable to help her locate her boy. Circumstances lead Philomena’s path to cross with that of Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a politician who was recently forced out of his government job. Martin decides to write an article about Philomena and, to further that article, he sets out to help her find her son. The film chronicles their efforts, and the unlikely friendship that develops between the pair.
The film adaptation was written by Mr. Coogan and Jeff Pope, and directed by Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Deal, The Queen). It’s a lovely piece of work that manages to balance an endearing sense of good-humor and light-heartedness with the quite terrible story of Philomena’s past. Stephen Frears’ work has often demonstrated his ability to balance humor with a compelling dramatic story, and his light touch proves to be exactly the right approach to this material.
Of course, the film is anchored by the terrific performance of the two leads: Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Mr. Coogan is an exquisite master of making arrogant self-centeredness extremely amusing and likable. Ms. Dench, meanwhile, is similarly able to mine enormous humor from Philomena’s innocence and boundless optimism, while also able to effortlessly portray Philomena’s powerful heartbreak at the long-ago loss of her son.
Both are able to be extremely funny without ever undercutting the inherent drama and pathos of the story being told. I was also pleased that the film resists the urge to make them two buddy-buddy too quickly, and avoids the usual narrative shorthand of having each character change the other for the better. There’s no “you make me want to be a better man” sort of speech, thank goodness. Martin Sixsmith continues to be his prickly self right up to the end of the movie, and Philomena similarly maintains her optimism and idiosyncrasy. But the two do affect one another, they are each able to help the other, and their relationship does wind up mattering to them both. The film walks this fine line rather effortlessly, investing the audience in the two characters’ relationship without laying on … [continued]
After re-reading Jonathan Hickman’s run on The Fantastic Four, I decided to continue — moving back a step, actually — to re-read Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s 12-issue run on FF that immediately preceded Mr. Hickman’s taking over the series. I didn’t follow Mr. Hickman’s run when it was originally published monthly, but I did buy all 12 issues of Millar/Hitch’s run when it came out. I went into their run with high hopes — the two men had each worked on some of my favorite super-hero comics of the prior few years, and they had collaborated on the incredible first two series of “The Ultimates,” the Ultimate Universe re-boot of The Avengers that wound up proving so influential to the Marvel movie universe. (It was in Millar/Hitch’s Ultimates that they began to use Samuel L. Jackson as the visual model for Nick Fury, which eventually became incredible reality when the real Samuel L. Jackson took on that role at the end of 2008′s Iron Man.) But my recollection is that, in the end, I had wound up being very disappointed with Millar/Hitch’s run on FF. I was eager to re-read their story to see what I thought of it, with a little distance.
Their twelve-issue run was divided into four four-issue story-lines:
World’s Greatest — FF #554-557 – This was a very strong beginning to Millar/Hitch’s run. Their first issue, FF #554, was a bold statement of tone for their run. Mr. Hitch’s jaw-dropping, incredible artwork took center stage, and Mr. Millar gave Mr. Hitch some incredible sequences to illustrate. Mr. Hitch gave each of the FF characters his own individual stamp, making slight tweaks to everyone’s look. I really liked his versions of the FF uniforms, adding some little touches here and there (some ribbing and seams on the costumes; finger-less gloves worn by Reed and Sue) to make their costumes look just a little more realistic and a little less like spandex leotards. Mr. Millar also gave each of the FF characters a slight tweak of characterization. His versions of the classic FF four-some are faithful to their history, but Mr. Millar is able to spin everything just a little bit in order to give the characters a unique feel under his authorship. I was most taken by his version of Reed Richards. Reed is sometimes depicted a a nerdy, awkward almost-recluse. But Mr. Millar writes Reed as, basically, one of the coolest men in the Marvel Universe. He’s got an incredible intellect, amazing tech, a gorgeous wife, and a self-confidence that makes him a leader of men without tipping over into being an arrogant jerk. This is a great version of Reed.
In this first … [continued]
First up, a big thank-you to everyone who has backed the kickstarter for the Jewish Comix Anthology! This 250-page hardcover will feature the work of 47 Jewish artists, including Art Spiegelman, Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert… and me! There’s only a week left to back the project, so please click here to get in on this! There are some great backer rewards, including a just-added opportunity to own some original Motion Pictures cartoons by yours truly! That’s right! Would you like to own the original version of one of these three cartoons…?
Click here to view the kickstarter and purchase those cartoons! Thanks everyone!
OK, moving on… I have watched this trailer a LOT. I have an excited feeling that this movie is going to take the world by storm. (I hope so!!)
Oh man I can’t wait for this:
And this! (It’s always apey-est just before the dawn…)
As if that Guardians of the Galaxy trailer I posted above wasn’t cool enough, they’ve also just released a new poster with a phenomenal tag-line.
Speaking of super-hero film news, Fox made some headlines recently with the announcement of the cast of their new Fantastic Four film. I for one am crossing my fingers. I have always loved the FF and nothing would make me happier than an amazing Fantastic Four movie. But the casting seems to be rather off the mark. I don’t mind Johnny Storm being black. Michael B. Jordan is an awesome actor, I am happy he is in the movie. And he seems like the only one of these four actors who feels like the right “fit” for his character — in this case the young, brash, fun-loving Johnny. I am more worked up by skinny Jamie Bell being cast as Ben Grimm!! And I like Miles Teller, he was phenomenal in The Spectacular Now (click here for my review), but he is WAY too young for Reed Richards. In fact, ALL of these actors are too young, the FF should all be 30-somethings not 20-somethings. I hope they have something good up their sleeves, but this casting doesn’t seem to indicate they plan on being too faithful to the comic book characters. (At least, not the original FF. Marvel comics’ “Ultimate” universe, created a decade-or-so ago, featured a teenaged FF. But while there have been some great Ultimate universe stories, I was never that taken by that interpretation of the FF.) And in a world where Marvel Studios exists, where they have been making amazing Marvel movies that are VERY faithful to the comics, I have little patience for another bad Fox-made FF movie. Well, hope … [continued]