Thunder Force

Melissa McCartney and Octavia Spencer gain super powers to try and stop a group of super powered sociopaths called the Miscreants in the new super hero farce/comedy Thunder Force, arriving on Netflix this weekend.

In the world, an event gave random people super powers, but, unfortunately, only people who were sociopaths. This was, obviously, not good for the people. Now, Emily (Octavia Spencer) is trying to fulfill her lifelong goal to find a process to grant super powers to regular people to fight the Miscreants.

Emily is preparing to undergo the process to give herself super strength and invisibility, but an old friend from high school, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) accidentally winds up getting the initial injections for the super strength. She then has to complete the process or her body might explode.

Emily continues to give herself the invisibility and the pair become a super hero team called Thunder Force. They confront the Mayor who insists on being called “The King” (Bobby Cannavale), who was also a Miscreant. He has Miscreant henchmen Laser (Pom Klementieff) and The Crab (Jason Bateman).

This is really pretty dumb and really fairly thin. It is a super hero comedy that did not have many laughs. It was a typical Melissa McCarthy film with super powers. Characters are two-dimensional with motivations that are simple and not complicated. They spend plenty of time dealing with the normal super hero tropes of an origin film and creates a minor story.

It was harmless though. It gave me a few laughs here and there. Not enough of them to really enjoy the film or to make up for its complete lack of depth, but it was not the worst movie I have seen this year.

The film does not give its talented cast much to do but they do their best anyway. These actors, McCarthy and Spencer especially, are likable and fun to watch. They both have had much better material in the past however.

Not much to this one, but it is not offensive and moves along reasonably. Since it is on Netflix, it may be worth a lazy Saturday/Sunday watch.

2.4 stars

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE FOUR OF THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER

Some people found episode three of the Disney + series to be a bit of a step down (not me though) from the rest of the series. However, I don’t think anyone is saying that about episode four, an amazing thrill ride.

There are two images/moments that are right near the top of the best moments not only of this series, but also the MCU (that may be hyperbolic, but…). One of those were at the very beginning of the show and one as the ending image at the very end of the show.

The episode started off in a flashback from six years ago in Wakanda. Bucky and Ayo are at fireside and she is saying the trigger words that activate the Winter Soldier program that was in Bucky’s head. Shuri had been working to remove the programming and this was an attempt to see what would happen. Sebastian Stan was absolutely brilliant in these few minutes. He worked through such pain and anguish as the words were being said. He had flashbacks to some of his past atrocities as the Winter Soldier and he struggled to maintain his control. Then, when the words were complete and Ayo said that he was free, Bucky’s tears of relief rolled from his eyes. The scene ended with a slight smile from Bucky. Such a powerhouse moment for the character of James Barnes.

The second image that brought tears to my eyes was the very end of the show. John Walker, the new Captain America, who had taken the final vial of Super Soldier Serum that Karli had (Zemo had destroyed the rest and took a shield to the head for his trouble), flipped out and chased the Flagsmashers away. He flipped out after Karli kicked Battlestar into a pillar and he dies (we think). He caught up with one of the Flagsmashers and he brutally killed him with the shield. The show gave a final shot of Walker standing, holding the shield with blood covering the bottom of the shield. It was a gutshot to me. It was so disturbing and painful for me to see the shield tarnished with the blood of the Flagsmasher. It shook me.

By the way, as John Walker is driving his shield into this helpless man, there are tons of people with their cell phones out and recording. It is very much like the current world when police officers are over stepping their boundaries and using excessive force. I certainly think the scene with John Walker plays as an analogy to those real life moments.

Now, the rest of the episode was awesome too. It was just bookended with some amazing awesomeness.

In particular, the Dora Milaje was here. We saw Ayo show up at the end of the third episode to confront Bucky. This week she told him that he had eight hours and then they were coming for Zemo. Then they came for him and wound up in an epic battle with Walker, Battlestar, Bucky and Sam in a hotel room. The expertness of their fighting skills were on full display as they showed why the Dora Milaje is considered the elite fighting force in the world. And, Ayo delivered one of the defining lines for the characters of the Dora Milaje when she said, in response to Walker saying that they did not have jurisdiction, that “The Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be.”

We continue to develop the character of Karli. Last episode, it looked as if she had taken the turn to full fledged villain, but her motivations are walked back a bit this week. There are still some ways to redeem her because they have truly made her shades of grey. She had a philosophy that you could, conceivably, get behind. Her interactions with Sam during this show were so well written that you could see how the two of them could be connected. It is still unclear who might be the “big villain” of this show because there are so many shades here.

Of course, Daniel Brühl is just the best. After Disney released the extra scene of Zemo dancing (looped for an hour), it is obvious that Baron Zemo is a star in this show. He continued here being one of the best characters on the show. He is both hilarious and sinister at the same time. He is the smartest person in the room and he is fully committed to his agenda. As he smashed the super soldier serum, Zemo showed that he could not be corrupted by the power. You could almost respect it if he was not taking things in another different path,

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' Recap: Blood on the Shield - The Ringer

Other highlights:

  • “Looking strong, John!” – Bucky
  • Bucky has his metal arm removed in battle
  • John Walker’s story is great. Plus, he is shown as being uncertain about what to do with the super soldier serum he had found. It is a great character moment as we watch him slip into his head.
  • Bucky shows his knife fighting skills once again.
  • The extra drop of Battlestar’s head is dramatic when he is “killed.” I put it in quotation marks because I am assuming that he is dead, but you can never be sure.
  • Was there a relationship between Bucky and Ayo? There was a look of betrayal from Bucky when she took off his arm. This has easily been Sebastian Stan’s greatest MCU performance so far.
  • Karli is still iffy in my mind. She made a threat against Sarah and her children.
  • Is Sharon Carter the Power Broker? Could be.
  • It is amazing that Zemo’s head is still on his shoulders after taking the shield to his face.
  • Zemo in the bathrobe is just a perfect character trait. Zemo has been such a fantastic character here.
  • Sam stood out here too. It seems clear that Steve Rogers was right when he picked Sam to carry the shield.
  • It was sad how the man Walker murdered with the Shield was the same man who had told Karli that he was a Captain America fan as a child.

The brutality of the final scene is something that we have not seen a lot of in the MCU and it caught me off guard. It served to taint the symbol of Captain America and it was a serious gut punch. I did not know that it meant as much to me as it did until I saw the shot of the shield with the blood on it. The show has two more weeks left and it has stepped up into a new stratosphere with this week’s offering.

Geiger #1

Geiger #1

Story Tellers: Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

Cover Art: Gary Frank

It is a survivalist tale in a post apocalyptic future. It is a story of sacrifice. It is a story of family. It is a story of a super hero.

And it was great.

Images Comics latest comic, Geiger, came out today and it was a fantastic read. The story progresses quickly, jumping around in time, giving us hints about what happened to the world and presenting us with several secrets that create a memorable Mad max type world.

The Glowing Man is a mysterious figure and the heart of the book. How did he become the way he is? We see some pieces, but, as a good narrative does, it leaves us with more questions than answers.

Some of the art in this book are majestic. There are plenty of wonderful panels that tell the story in beautiful imagery and color. There are some full page panels that are pieces of art that would be right at home on the wall of a gallery.

This was quite a winning first issue.

Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

I have a hot take on Ghostbusters 2. I thought it before I rewatched today, and the viewing of said movie did not to replace those thoughts in my head.

Ghostbusters 2 is a good movie.

Moreso, the reason that it received as much disappointment and potential vitriol as it did was that it was following the original Ghostbusters, which is a damn near perfect film.

So, while Ghostbusters 2 did not live up to the level of awesomeness that was the original Ghostbusters, it was never going to be able to do so and we, as an audience, approached it with terribly high and practically unreachable expectations for the sequel.

Yes, there were some repeated beats in the follow up film, but most sequels have bits that are repetitive. It is the nature of continuing a successful franchise. Sure, some of the humor did not hit as well as the first film, but that does not mean that there are not funny lines and humorous lines. Just with the returning cast alone, Ghostbusters 2 has an advantage. Bill Murray is just as charming as he is in the first film and his relationship with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) was completely less stalkery.

I would go as far as to say that had this been the first film and the original became the sequel, people would look upon this with more love in their hearts.

Peter MacNicol is a great addition as the possessed henchman Dr. Janosz Poha of the ultimate bad guy, Vigo (Wilhelm Von Homburg). Yes, Vigo was fairly underwhelming, but MacNicol made up for the lack of Vigo with his own craziness. And the real villain of the piece was the mood slime, which was a cool gimmick.

“Your love keeps lifting me higher….”

Concrete Cowboy

What is supposed to be the final season of Stranger Things should be hitting Netflix later this year, but that talented cast should be fine once it is over. Case in point, Caleb McLaughlin teams up opposite one Idris Elba in a modern Western premiering on Netflix this weekend, entitled Concrete Cowboy.

McLaughlin played Cole, the son to Elba’s Harp, who had been taken away from him as a child by Cole’s mother, was getting into trouble in Detroit. His mother chose to send Cole to Philadelphia for the summer to be with his estranged father. Harp was a member of a community of cowboys in the Philadelphia area, maintaining stables filled with horses. Money is tight, but the group of people are dedicated to the lifestyle.

Cole, however, does not find this situation to be happy, as he immediately hooks up with an old friend Smush (Jharrel Jerome). Smush is involved with street wise trouble and is looking to bring Cole in with him. Harp insists that Cole stay away from Smush, but Cole plays both sides.

Meanwhile, Cole has bonded with a horse named Boo that is a horse no one can handle.

The film is a decent story and has some powerful acting. Caleb McLaughlin really carries his work load with some more established actors. He had to bring plenty of layers of performance here, as the realm of emotion spread across the spectrum. He does a great job and he is the heart of the film.

Idris Elba had some moments, but he stands out the most with his scenes with McLaughlin, as a father who is trying his best to provide his emotional support despite not being there for the majority of his son’s life. He had plenty of problems he faced and came out of it a stronger person.

The secondary cast is fine, but few of them are memorable. Method Man, Byron Bowers and Lorraine Toussaint are here as well.

Based on the novel Ghetto Cowboys by Greg Neri, Concrete Cowboys provides a fascinating look at the urban cowboys that exist in Philadelphia and the way their lives exist. When you add the strong father-son dynamic of the story, this movie has some very strong parts. It might be a tad overlong, but the performances keep it rolling.

3.5 stars

Nobody

The second film I saw at Cinemark today was the good one. This is a revenge thriller starring Bob Odenkirk (of Better Call Saul & Breaking Bad fame). Odenkirk may not seem like an actor who would fit as an action star, but he proves his worth in this movie.

Odenkirk played Hutch Mansell, a seemingly milquetoast man, who cannot even protect his family from a pair of bumbling thieves. His monotonous life has him going through the motions daily. His life is dull.

However, the break-in triggered something that Hutch had been holding inside of him for years and he went out to hunt down the thieves. Along the way, we discover that there is more to Hutch than we had expected.

A conflict with a group of drunken Russians on a bus brought out the vicious side to Hutch and put the Russians into the hospital. This drew the attention of the brother of one of the Russian, Yulian (Aleksey Serebryakov), and set up a wild revenge story.

Bob Odenkirk is great here and brings a realness to a film that desperately needs it. His deadpan reactions really work well in the violent situations that he finds himself in. Odenkirk is an Emmy Award winner and you can see how much of a range he has. How he started as a man who did not have that spark and then as he became more and more alive as the violence increased.

Christopher Lloyd has a wonderful role as Hutch’s father David. It was fun to see Lloyd here and placing him in this situation that we may not have seen him in before, much like Odenkirk, is cool.

Written by Derek Kolstad, who also wrote the first three John Wick movies, you can definitely see the similarities to the Keanu Reeves franchise. However, the use of Bob Odenkirk brings a different level to Nobody that takes the ideas that we have seen multiple times in revenge flicks and made it entertaining.

3.8 stars

The Unholy

I returned to Cinemark today, fully immunized, for a double header. I have not been feeling desperate to go back to the theater though. Watching at home has been pretty convenient and comfortable. However, with a light, yet extended, weekend, I had some time to head out. So I grabbed my heavy-duty mask and headed for the theater.

Of the two film I saw, one was great, one was not.

This is the not.

A hearing-impaired girl named Alice (Cricket Brown) is visited and healed by what she believed was the Holy Virgin Mary. She also gained the ability to heal others through the prayer and belief. Disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is coincidentally in the area investigating a cattle mutilation story and stumbled across an artifact that freed up a demon. Fenn connected with Alice and hoped to use her story to get back his prime job.

There are a couple of familiar faces in the church with Father Hagan (William Sadler) and Bishop Gyles (Cary Elwes). I have to say, there were two moments where I was quoting The Princess Bride because of the familiarity of the scenes. And not in a good way.

Sadly, there is a lot of dumb here. Characters who are dumb doing things that are dumb. Jeffrey Dean Morgan feels as if his character is remarkably inconsistent and has a back story that is touch on, but not developed in any way. Alice is even less of a developed character.

The whole religious line of the story is surface level at best. There might have been an idea here that the film could have said something about, but it does not. The mysterious demon was never scary and the jump scares were nothing new or original. You have seen this all over the place.

There are some seriously laughable scenes. There was one scene where one of the priests ( it was actor Diogo Morgado) was trying to light a match and the spirit/demon kept blowing it out from over his shoulder. It was hilarious. Unfortunately for the movie, it was not supposed to be funny.

There were as many eye rolls for me here as anything else. The Unholy is not a good movie.

Go listen to EYG Hall of Famers Kiss’ song Unholy. It is much more entertaining and has been going through my head since.

1.8 stars

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 3

SPOILERS FOR THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER EPISODE 3

Baron Zemo is here.

Daniel Brühl reprised his role from Captain America: Civil War starting big time in this week’s episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and he dominated the screen.

Bucky helps break out Zemo from his prison cell in Berlin (unbeknownst to Sam) and the scene where Bucky is telling Sam the “hypothetical” situation is awesome. Sam’s reaction, especially the line “I don’t like how casual you are being about this, it’s unnatural” which I absolutely laughed.

Anthony Mackie was great here with his quips throughout the episode.

Back to Daniel Brühl. I lost my mind when he walked onto screen with that jacket. It was perfect costume for Zemo, and that was before he put the purple mask on. We discover that Zemo is wealthy and has a ton of resources, including his own evil Alfred butler, played by Nicholas Pryor, who used to be Kevin Collins’ father on General Hospital/Port Charles. Brühl works as this character amazingly well.

Agent 13, Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) made her return as well, helping Sam, Bucky and Zemo in their search for the new super solider serum. We find out that there had been a limited amount of new serum created, and, when Zemo killed the scientist, the limit may have a shelf life. Sharon Carter showed off her super spy fighting skills as she beat the crap out of a bunch of henchmen.

Speculation: I really have a theory that Sharon Carter is going to be revealed as the Power Broker. When Sharon got into the car with her driver and she said that they were going to have two troubles, I got a feeling she had some nefarious actions in her future.

We got a huge setting for the first time, right out of the X-Men comic books. Madripoor is one of the iconic places in the Marvel Universe and, with the rights now under the Marvel Studio banner, it gets to make its debut in the MCU. The phrase “hive of scum and villainy” springs to mind when thinking about Madripoor (as does Patch, but that will be for another time). This is a setting that we will see again in the MCU without a doubt.

A view of Madripoor from Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Then, the episode came to a close bringing up yet another tie in from Civil War, this time being Ayo (Florence Kasumba), apparently the second in charge of the Dora Milaje from Wakanda. Her arrival made a lot of sense since she was the Dora Milaje that was protecting King T’Chaka, who was killed in an explosion set by Baron Zemo. She might not be to fond of the idea that Bucky, a person they brought into Wakanda, helped “fix” him and dubbed him the White Wolf, helped the Wakandan king’s killer to escape.

Other points:

  • John Walker starting to show some cracks
  • Sam’s sister makes a return with an ill timed phone call
  • The whole snake shot thing was horrible.
  • Sam’s lines were epic: the reference to looking like a pimp and then not being able to run in heels…LOL
  • Flagsmasher Karli Morgenthau continues to be an enigma, showing both sides of her character.
  • I guess Sharon is also an art thief.

Three more episodes to go.

Godzilla vs. Kong

Monster super slugfest. When you get two of the most iconic giant monsters together, monster super slugfest is what you should expect. Thankfully, Godzilla vs. Kong delivers in that department.

When Godzilla unexpectedly attacks an Apex Cybernetics technical site, CEO Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) approached expert/author/scientist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) for ideas on what to do. Nathan traveled to Skull Island to try and convince a former colleague, Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), to use Kong, who she had been studying for years, to lead them to Hollow Earth, the legendary location believed to be the birthplace of the Titans.

Bringing Kong with them, the giant ape’s very presence attracted the attention of Godzilla, kicking off the ultimate battle of the alphas.

I believe that this movie is the best of the recent series of monster movies that include Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. None of these movies were bad, per se. In fact, I liked most of them. However, they all suffered from the same misstep. The film focused way too much on the human characters and limited the amount of time with the monsters.

Admittedly, these movies require some form of human characters to hold the film together between huge monster fights, but some of the previous films may not have known exactly what the intent was of the film.

There are a couple of interesting characters here. The little deaf girl who had formed a connection with Kong, Jia (Kaylee Hottle) was one of the best. Kaylee Hottle makes her film debut in this role and she does a fantastic job. Millie Bobby Brown returns in her role as Madison from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Kyler Chandler returns as her father with very little to do. Brian Tyree Henry plays a paranoid podcaster filled with conspiracy theories the whole way.

Godzilla vs. Kong does a much better job of balancing the humans and the monsters. The film seems to clearly have these human characters as thin plot points. They exist to put the minutes in the film as down periods. This film knows what we want.

The battles with Kong and Godzilla are some of the best of the series. The CGI and effects are beautiful and awe-inspiring. Once the film brings Kong and Godzilla together, it picks up the pace dramatically. While the first 30-45 minutes are fairly slow, the first watery fight is amazing.

The third act of the movie is just fire. Some of the best monster fights you could hope for. These battles are planned out perfectly and the choreography is on point. Yes, the plot is thin and contains plenty of holes, but it is good enough for what it needed to be. It needed to be there for an excuse to bring Kong and Godzilla face to face.

And kudos to the writers in having a clear cut winner between the two Titans while still maintaining the aura and the mystique of both of these icons.

Godzilla vs. Kong is a lot of fun and a full blown spectacle that should be enjoyed as what it is. A monster throwdown.

4 stars

King Kong (1933)

With Godzilla vs. Kong opening worldwide this weekend and stomping into theaters and onto HBO Max this coming Wednesday, it was time to take a look at the past of the creatures. I had recently watched Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla so I thought that it was time to revisit King Kong. It had been decades since I had seen the original 1933 version so I decided to watch that over the 1976 or 2005 versions.

Of course, the fact that this is 1933 has to be taken into consideration with the movie. There is no fair way to compare the special effects, done here with stop motion animation, to anything more recent. I can only imagine what the people of 1933 thought of what they were seeing.

The classic story appears here of a film crew heading to Skull Island in an attempt to catch the images of the mighty myth Kong, only to have the lead actress Ann Darrow(Fay Wray) kidnapped by the island natives and given to Kong for a bride. The massive Kong is taken by Ann and fights off the monsters of Skull Island that want her for dinner. When she is rescued by John Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), Kong chases them back to their ship, where the giant gorilla is felled by bombs. Making an extremely greedy choice, film director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) decides to return to the States with the captured Kong to create a stage show with him. When Kong escapes on opening night, he grabs Ann and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building.

The scene at the end of the movie is as iconic of a scene as you are going to find in a monster movie. In more recent films, in an attempt to make Kong the hero of his films, the Ann role has connected with Kong more, seeing that the giant gorilla is very gentle and kind-hearted when comes to the blonde actress. There is none of that here as Fay Wray spends most of the second half of the movie screaming her lungs out. It is very understandable and males a lot of sense. Again, King Kong is the monster here, where as in more recent films, he plays like the misunderstood hero. The tragedy of the ending is less so here as he falls to his death from the Empire State Building.

I was surprised how violent the film is as we see several crew members being devoured by the dinosaurs on the way to Kong and we see Kong chewing up villagers as well. Kong dropped one woman from out of a building that he had thought was Ann as she fell to her death. Kong dumped a makeshift bridge of people to their deaths as well back on Skull Island. I guess I did not expect a 1933 movie to show as much carnage as this did.

Some of the parts of the film are dated (such as the depiction of the island natives), but the film is timeless and the story is iconic. King Kong is the first of the cavalcade of films for Kong and Godzilla and I am excited to see the pair of them come to blows next week.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Back in 2015, the consensus of thought was that Mad Max: Fury Road was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Everybody loved the movie and claimed it was the most epic of all films. Then, there was me. When I saw the movie, I thought it was fine, had some cool practical stunts and was good enough. However, it was anything but a rave review for me. If memory serves me, it fell into the 20s range on the Best of 2015 movies list. I still liked it, just not as much as everybody else.

The last few months I have wanted to revisit the movie to see if it was better than I remembered. With an open evening and HBO Max, I decided tonight was a perfect opportunity to see how 2021 Doc felt about the fourth Mad Max film of the franchise.

I do believe that I enjoyed this more than I did back then, but I can still see the issues that I had with the film at the time.

One of the issues was not the stunt work. The action and the designs of this is utterly brilliant. Director George Miller created most of the stunts with practical effects and they are breath-taking, better than I remember. I was quite juiced up with these action scenes as the movie continued. Putting this much into action sequences shows the dedication to this project from Miller and everyone involved.

Though Tom Hardy does a fine job in taking over the role of Mad Max from Mel Gibson, the obvious star of this movie was Charlize Theron as Furiosa. She was utterly amazing in this role and set herself up as a huge action star from this point on.

One of the issue I did have back in 2015 that has not changed is that the story is fairly thin. The characters try to escape, head out, get chased, get away, and then goes back and gets chased. That might be too much of a simplification of the plot, but there is a lot of pieces that did not mean as much to me.

The look of the movie is just amazing. These characters are weird and designed beautifully. Some of the other characters are a little under developed, though I did enjoy the use of Nicholas Hoult as Nux.

So I think I liked Mad Max: Fury Road more this time around than I did in 2015, but I would stop short of claiming it as the best movie of that year. Definitely a great movie.

The Father (2020)

One of the movies that has received some Oscar nominations that I had never seen was The Father. Sir Anthony Hopkins was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a film that I was not 100% sure actually had been made. That’s a joke, but it has not been readily available for sure.

However, The Father arrived this weekend on streaming (specifically Vudu) and I decided that the air of mystery on this film needed to end.

Hopkins played Anthony, an elderly man, whose daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) has been taking care of him and he has been becoming confused.

However, this is not simply a movie talking about Alzheimer’s Disease or any sort of decline in mental acumen. It is more than that. The film gives us scenes from the POV of Anthony. By doing this, the film creates a enigmatic jumble of memories and scenes that change per each one and we, the audience, have no idea which one is the actual reality. This is because Anthony was not sure of which of the moments was reality either. It kept the viewers totally off balance and uncertain about what they were seeing.

Anne might be movie to France or she might be looking for someone to move in and help take care of her father or she might be living with a man or they might be living in her father’s flat or her flat or … well, you get the idea.

By choosing this style, director Florian Zeller creates a symbolic reality about what living with this horrendous disease is like and going out of the way to provide an air of confusion to the audience.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is wonderful here, never sure exactly what is going on or why he is unable to straighten the thoughts out in his head. He keeps referring to another daughter, a painter named Lucy. We never are sure what had happened to Lucy, or honestly if she ever really existed in the first place, though it seemed as if she was killed in some kind of accident. Hopkins masterfully brings all kinds of emotional moments to the haze around him in reacting to Anne and the others that come in contact with him.

Olivia Colman is excellent here too, given a difficult assignment. She plays off what Anthony does and shows how important he is to her and yet, we understand the pressures and frustrations that go along with the role. She is shown in each of the POVs with a differing reaction but equal amounts of guilt and pain.

This is a powerful story with a lot of pain and depressing moments. It might be a film that is challenging to watch and may stick with you for awhile.

4 stars

Invincible episodes 1-3 (Amazon Prime)

SPOILERS FOR INVINCIBLE

Robert Kirkman has had a lot of success in comic books. The Walking Dead is one of the best and most successful comic series to come along outside of the Big Two companies. He is currently working on another Image comic called Firepower.

However, one of the most beloved series from Kirkman was known as Invincible and became one of the premier titles in the independent circuit.

Now, Amazon Prime has taken the IP of Invincible and turned it into an animated series aimed at the adult fans of the comic, releasing the first three episodes this week.

I had never read any of the Invincible comics, but the character was always an interesting one. Son of the world’s greatest hero, Omni-man, Invincible has joined his father’s war to help save the earth from evil and dangers. Along with a cavalcade of super heroes, Invincible does a good job of telling its story.

Amazon Prime Video's Invincible Premiere Review

Invincible is Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun) the son of Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons), an alien from the planet of Viltrum, a planet filled with beings with super powers. Mark gets his powers around his 17th birthday and begins training with his father.

Sandra Oh voices Mark’s mother Debbie, who has had a happy marriage to Omni-Man (aka Nolan).

Earth’s heroes, The Guardians of the Globe, are here as well, though their fates are not positive ones for the team. At the end of the first episode, Omni-Man arrives at Guardians HQ and slaughters the entire team, before slipping into a coma himself. That was an unexpected twist to the show and really set up the series as one with stakes and surprises.

After three episodes, we have no idea why Omni-Man did what he did, but I have to say that I am fascinated to find where this is taking us. It was as if Superman turned on the Justice League.

We also meet the Teen Team, featuring a group of heroes closer to Invincible’s age. Among them, Mark connects with Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), who helps Mark through some of the beats of being a super hero.

Invincible' Arrives on Amazon Prime With a Young Hero for Mature Audiences  - The New York Times

There is a huge voice cast here as well including such notable performers such as Mark Hamill, Zazie Beetz, Zachary Quinto, Walton Goggins, Michael Cudlitz, Khary Payton, Seth Rogen, Michael Dorn, Mahershala Ali, Ezra Miller, Jason Mantzoukas, Lauren Cohen, Kevin Michael Richardson and Clancy Brown.

Invincible is notable as well because of the adult manner in which the show is presented. It is certainly rated R, with plenty of swear words and blood splatter. In fact, the first couple of episodes were extremely filled with blood in the violence. I am not sure that I thought it was necessary to show all the animated blood. It felt more distracting than realistic. It might have been effective in a live action setting, but this animated show feels nothing more than exploited using the blood.

TV Review: Invincible, Series Premiere (Episodes 1-3)

Mark is a fantastic protagonist and you find yourself rooting for him easily, though I can say that I worry about when he discovers the truth about his father and his crime.

Invincible is scheduled for a total of 8 episodes, releasing from now on, one a week, on Fridays on Amazon Prime. There is enough here for me to continue to watch, adding it to my weekly viewing of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Superman and Lois.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 2

SPOILERS FOR THE FALCON AND THE WINTERSOLDIER EPISODE TWO

The second episode of the new Disney +/Marvel Studios limited series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, debuted on the steaming service in the wee hours of the night. After the slow burn of last week’s episode, some people were anxiously hoping this episode would be paced quicker. I am not in the same boat. I loved the slower burn character development that was all over last week’s show. However, this week’s show brought both and elevated itself above last week.

This week’s episode, entitled “The Star Spangled Man,” did not waste time in bringing Sam and Bucky back together and we see the real key to the show. Yes, there is great character development that makes us care for these people more, but the real standout of the show is the relationship of James “Bucky” Buchanan and Sam Wilson. Their chemistry is off the charts and the bromance is amazing. The banter between Bucky and Sam was great and the show gives us plenty of examples of it.

Even before we see Sam and Bucky meet up, we get some background for the new Captain America, John Walker. While he is set up to be hatred by the fans last week, we see some info on Walker that humanizes him. Some have claimed that he is the “evil” Captain America, but I think that is way too surface for this show. Walker is not a villain. He may be a character being set up for a fall, but his motivations are understandable and relatable. However, he is certainly not the most likable person in the show.

The scene with Walker arriving at his old high school to a band playing the song “Star Spangled Man” from the movie Captain America: The First Avenger was fire.

My favorite scenes in the episode were the scenes where Bucky took Sam to meet a certain person that Bucky had known in the 1950s. Carl Lumbly, a veteran movie/TV actor, had been rumored to be playing the Marvel character Isaiah Bradley, who was a black Captain America back after Steve Rogers had gone into the ice. Apparently, Isaiah had previously had a battle with The Winter Solder in the 1950s. Lumbly brought the tragic character to life with a few powerful moments that showed that he was still a dangerous super soldier. This is a character I want much more from movie forward.

Then, directly after this scene with Isaiah, Bucky and Sam encountered some local police officers who stopped because they saw Bucky and Sam arguing in the middle of the road and we see that the lives of a black man are not any different because he is an Avenger. There was some subtle racial connotations last week with the bank loan stuff, but this week the police, who only see Sam as an angry black man, is anything but subtle. It is real though. Seeing the race issues in the MCU is both interesting and painful. Watching the police backtrack when Bucky said to them, “Do you know who this is?” was, once again, too real. This theme is layered throughout this show and I am here for it.

We got another scene of therapy, this time with Sam joining in. This scene truly highlighted the connection between Buck and Sam. Bucky kept going back to the issue of why Sam gave back the shield, and it revealed why it was such a blow to him. Bucky said it was Steve’s decision to give Sam the shield and if he was wrong about Sam being able to handle it, he would be wrong about giving Bucky another chance. Depth of character once again.

We got a great fight with the Flagsmashers and Falcon, Bucky, Walker and his sidekick Battlestar atop of two semi trucks driving down the road.

The end shot showed us the next step… Bucky heading to see the still imprisoned Helmut Zemo. Daniel Brühl appeared at the very end, bringing yet one more great piece to the chess board. This episode was tremendous and always feels like it ends too soon.

This has been awesome so far.

Alien #1

Alien #1

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Cover Art: InHYUK Lee

Marvel has been the home for Star Wars comics for several years now. Now, another benefit from the FOX acquisition has come to light. Marvel Comics released the first comic based on the hit movie series, Alien.

Alien #1 is wonderful. The horror comic genre has been very hot lately, and this has such a classic IP to use as a backdrop. The story featured a former mercenary Gabriel Cruz, who had some kind of major event happen to him in space years before. The multinational corporation Weyland-Yutani controls the spaceways. Gabe’s estranged son, Danny, leads a group attempting to stop the corporation. Unfortunately, Danny’s group found something they did not expect.

The Xenomorph looks awesome on the pages of this comic book. The art is beautiful, in particularly the parts in space. I will say that there are some weird looking human faces in the book. It appeared as if the artist was recreating some real life faces, (including actor Lance Henriksen, who played android Bishop in the movie).

It did not take long to be drawn into the story, the father-son tale that has some horrific monsters involved. Interesting to see how the incident from Gabe’s past will play into the current situation with his son.

Off to a great start.