Weekly Releases Work for WandaVision

I’m not going to have any spoilers for episode 7, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” in this, but the other episodes should fair game at this point. You’ve been warned.

After the first two episodes of WandaVision aired, I was intrigued and really frustrated that we were getting into the weekly episode format. I talked to Paul at some point before episode 3, and we were both in agreement that we wanted to sit and binge the show, and that it would benefit from that.

I think, we might have been wrong.

You see, Paul and I were both of the mindset that this was a marketing and sales decision, in order to keep people on Disney+ through the run of the show. I still think that is probably the reason it’s being done, but now after watching 7 episodes, I think we’ve benefited from this schedule.

At a certain point a few weeks ago—probably before episode 4’s real world reveals— I thought that maybe the show would benefit, the way that The Mandalorian, so that each big fan service thing or big reveal got its own week to ruminate and be absorbed. I loved that one week we got Bo Katan, the next Ahsoka Tano, the next Boba Fett, and that we weren’t immediately diving into the next thing.

I do think WandaVision has had some of this benefit, especially when we saw Pietro come back, and had a week to wonder, but that’s not the big reason why I think the show is benefitting from weekly releases.

The big reason, is Vision.

From the beginning of the show, we’ve been kind of made to think that Wanda is ‘THE’ main character, with Vision being secondary, but Wanda created the Hex for herself, and also for Vision. And while other Westview characters have been playing the roles that Wanda had cast them in, Vision has been a bit more sentient and self aware earlier on. She didn’t create a puppet of Vision, but really recreated him.

In the fact that Vision, with or without his memory is the real Vision and not just a puppet, the artificial world that Wanda has created has been off to him from fairly early on. It’s been like a cut on the roof of your mouth that you can’t stop tonguing, and seems to not heal because of that. He’s clearly had a sense of analyzing and over analyzing, and trying to figure it all out, trying to make it make sense in his head.

As Vision struggles to make sense of his odd, unreal world, we are trying to do the same. Vision notices something odd, some break or hint in the reality to let him know what’s really going on. And as we wait another week for more information, we do the same.

Easter Eggs

Almost every week, I’ve watched the show first thing when I wake up on Friday morning, before I go on any social media, or do anything. Because I don’t want spoilers. I watch the show, I think about it, and as the day and week progresses, I see videos on YouTube, and posts on Instagram, pointing out the different Easter Eggs, and what they may mean for WandaVisions future.

I’m primed for wanting to know more, and as I see the posts, and watch the videos, people point out “the hand in the mirror” and “QuickSilver said ‘kickass'” and because we know little to none of it is an accident, we’re left wondering what if anything each easter egg is hinting at.

We’re going through the same kind of frustrating search for answers that Vision is going through, and in that way it’s really working.

An Added Benefit

I’m not watching the show with my wife and son, because I didn’t think they’d be interested when I started, but now I plan on rewatching it with them, once it’s over. But after the third episode, I told my wife, “it’s kind of scary, but in a way that I think would be more scary to you, than Logan,” (he’s almost 5).

I think they’ve been slowly causing this psychological dread with in us each week, in a way that they couldn’t really do if we were binging, and I think that dread is also a benefit to the show.

After WandaVision, we know that Wanda is going to be in Dr. Strange 2 which has been described as the MCU’s first horror film, and I think we’re being primed for that a bit. I also think, that the dread we’re getting in some of the episodes is similar to what Vision is experiencing. The vague feeling that something truly awful and heartbreaking may be coming, but not entirely sure what, or from where. And I kind of think that’s the point.

What do you think? I’m sure in our binge culture, you want to binge it, but do you think you’re benefitting from weekly releases instead? Comment below.

I Really Want to Like Batwoman

I’ve been watching Batwoman pretty consistently for the last year and a half. When I wrote the recap at the end of season 1, I was unaware that Ruby Rose had decided to leave the show, and I speculated how the show could improve in season 2 under the assumption she would be returning. Things obviously haven’t gone the way I hoped, but has it been all bad?

We’re currently three episodes in, and while the first two, I think were making some good steps towards digging the show out of the hole they were in, the third feels like a step backward. You see, I love Alice (played by Rachel Skarsten), and Mary Hamilton (played by Nicole Kang), and they’re back, and doing well still. I also, really enjoy Javicia Leslie, as Ryan Wilder the new Batwoman. She’s more charismatic, her character is good, and while it’s probably coming together a bit quickly, there are the growing pains that would come with becoming Batwoman.

Is Kate Kane Dead?

The first problem that arises in the third episode, is that of Kate being still alive. The character of Safiyah (whom I assume will be the season’s big bad) has promised to help Alice find the living Kate in exchange for erasing all evidence of “The Desert Rose.” This seems to be the writer’s having written themselves into this corner, in which the only likely ways it will be fixed are that it’s all a lie, in which case it feels lazy, or that Kate is alive, but her face was mangled, and now after reconstructive surgery she looks like a different person. Both of these possibilities are crappy as far as I’m concerned.

The only other option that I see, one which I will be writing a retraction to this very article if it happens, is that Ruby Rose leaving the show was a fake out, and that the whole plan was to do this the entire time, and have her come back at the end of the season. I don’t know that I would love that result, but if the writing is well done, I would respect the hell out of how fucking bonkers it would be, and how well kept that secret would have been for over a year. I think there is a better chance we’ll see George Clooney come into the show as Bruce Wayne, than that happening.

Too Formulaic

I really enjoy the Arrowverse, but one of my big complaints has been that there was too much repetition in the formula. Every show becomes a ‘team-up’ with a tech person, a black sidekick of equal ability, etc. They started to break from it, Legends of Tomorrow has been a genuine team show, and doesn’t fall nearly as much into this formula. But I’m afraid there’s been a lot of other ways in which the shows have been repetitive, “oh another speedster/archer big bad” being one problem that comes to mind.

In episode 3 of this season, it appears we’re beginning to follow the formula of Arrow in story beats. The big bad from season 1 is actually a lackey to a new big bad who is hidden away from society, with a magical source of healing pretty much everything, and is surrounded by the most highly trained assassins in the world.

Is that what’s going on here? Because episode 3 certainly makes it seem that way.

I don’t want to be dealing with rehashing, and repetition. You can have a bad guy come back in new creative ways, but what I don’t want to see is the female Ra’s Al Ghul. Alice has hints of the Joker, but she’s not a Joker knock-off, and she was my favorite part of season 1. It’s ok to have overlap, but not carbon-copy.

The Other Big Shared Universe

It is not really helping Batwoman, that it’s airing episodes at the same time WandaVision is airing episodes. Both are newer additions into large and successful shared universes, but WandaVision is doing something that I think shines a bit of a light on how Batwoman is failing in that area.

WandaVision, which I think has some issues—mostly in roll out schedule, is another great example of a Marvel property in which we understand that it’s the same continuity with all of the other MCU that has come before, but it seems so fresh and new. It’s something that Marvel has been great about, not falling into a formula, not getting to repetitive; Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, had so little in common with what came before but fit so perfectly, and WandaVision does that too.

Batwoman, like I said above, is repeating a lot of the same things from the Arrowverse, and if I’m being honest about what’s “new or different” it’s hard to come up with much. Even the female empowerment, and LGBTQ inclusion aren’t new (not complaining about either of these, but with Supergirl we get both). There just isn’t much that’s new, and it kind of makes it feel like this is our new Arrow, and it doesn’t hold up to that standard.

Prove Me Wrong, Please

Batwoman — “Prior Criminal History” — Image Number: BWN202fg_0078r — Pictured: Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder — Photo: The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Now, we’re three episodes into the season, and I am open to being wrong. I am hoping I am. I’m watching WandaVision excited to see the next week’s episode every week with no idea what I’m going to get and loving it, and I’m watching Batwoman every week hoping that I’ll get the spark, the thing that’s gonna make me go “ok, this fucking crazy, and this is what makes this show stand out.”

I know nothing about Batwoman and the mythology beyond this show, so as far as I’m concerned that leaves things wide open. Find something to shove us into new exciting territory.

What I Want to See: Cinemas in a Post Pandemic World

I love going to the movies. It’s more than just wanting to see new movies, and wanting to see them as soon as possible, but I genuinely love going into a theater getting snacks and a drink and sitting there. I love the trailers, and the feature. I love it all.

I miss going to the movies, it is the one ‘activity’ that’s not super social that I miss. Before the pandemic, my son was almost four and he had finally learned how to behave at a movie theater, and in the first three months of 2020, we saw six movies together. It was amazing, and I foolishly thought it would continue that way until he went off to college.

I’ve heard a lot of people speculating that the movie theaters are going to die off in this pandemic, and I can’t help but hope that everyone is wrong. So, I have come up with a plan, something that I think will help theaters to remain in business through the pandemic.

Bond-style Gift Cards

You’re about to learn how little I know about bonds, and I realize that this is really only the most surface level similarity, but I think gift cards that grow in value is the fix that could save at least the big chains.

So here’s my exact proposal, and obviously the theaters can adjust these numbers as they see fit. Theater’s like AMC, should sell gift cards, we’ll use $20 as an example to show how it will work. You go to AMC (or whatever chain is your favorite) and buy a $20 gift card, but it cannot be used for a year, at which point it will have a value of $25, or you buy a 2 year gift card, and when you finally use it, it’s worth $30.

The average person who might go “oh you know what, the new Fast and Furious is out tomorrow, let’s go see it” might not buy into these kinds of cards, but movie goers who were seeing 6+ movies a year, might—I know I would, and if I were a gambling man, I know at least half a dozen friends who would too.

Would It Work?

I am not deluded enough to think that this would solve the problem outright. Theaters would still hurt, there’s a good chance that depending on the markets they’re in, some will still close, but it might be a life-support measure that could keep them from going under completely.

If there are less theaters, I think that this helps as well. Say you’re in a rural town, and there’s an AMC theater 10 minutes from your house, and you buy a $20 gift card, and then that theater closes and you’re driving 20-30 minutes to a more populated area with an AMC that stays open, you’re getting $25 (or $30) to offset that drive difference.

Please Don’t Let Movie Theaters Die!

I get that for so many people this isn’t a priority, and that when actual people are dying, it probably seems like a problem that doesn’t need to be addressed, but I really think this is the kind of problem that if movie theater owners, and execs work to solve, doesn’t in anyway take away from the humanitarian, and medical solutions, and relief that are so badly needed.

For me, the movie theater is just such a special experience, when other people have been complaining that they haven’t been able to go to a sports game, or do their thing that they enjoy doing, my thing has been the movies. My entire adult life, I’ve been aware of the fact speculation and pressure that are making movie theaters more and more obsolete, and while the theaters have never really fixed the problem, they’ve at least consistently come up with ways to push it back further, and further. Please do that through this crisis too.

What I Want to See: Grogu the Gray Jedi

There’s going to be some spoilers for the Mandalorian season 2 finale, so you’ve been warned.

With the wrap up of season 2 of the Mandalorian we’ve seen Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) go off with Luke Skywalker. So in season 2 we learned that he was a Jedi youngling when Anakin slaughtered them, and now he’s going off with Luke to be trained, presumably alongside Ben Solo (the future Kyle Ren).

That is a lot of darkness surrounding the cute and cuddly character. He doesn’t have a great start—through no fault of his own— to a life as a Jedi. In addition to all of that there is clearly a conflict in him, one that we have seen before in Star Wars, that of emotional attachment. These elements, personally make me want to see Grogu be a Gray Jedi.

We’ve seen Gray Jedi before, but we’ve also seen people who would probably have been better if they hadn’t fought their nature, like Anakin. Emotional attachment is such a fundamental conflict within Star Wars, and I think letting Grogu handle that in a less binary more healthy manner will be cool.

When 900 Years OldYou Reach, Look This Good You Will Not

In addition to wanting to see Grogu go the way of a Gray Jedi, I also think he gives the storytellers an interesting opportunity to anchor the future Star Wars (both our future but also the stuff happening after the original trilogy) within the canon.

Yoda’s species ages at such a slow rate, that they have an opportunity to oversee or participate in such a wide range of generations. Grogu is years younger than Anakin (maybe fifteen) all the way through The Rise of Skywalker and he’d be the equivalent of a preteen?

Grogu can stand beside the Jedi that Rey trains, and the Jedi they train. It’s not to say that I want him to be a Yoda, where he is the wisest, and know so much about the Jedi order, but I think having a character who can come in and out of the different Jedi stories will help to keep Star Wars feeling connected in the wake of the Skywalker Saga ending.

Should Grogu get his own movie?

I’m not fully opposed to this, but I’m not sure it’s the way to go either, but if we’re going to get Grogu as a main character—and I’m assuming he’ll learn English as he grows older— I have a couple of ideas for who I want in charge of it.

Taika Waititi is one of my personal favorite filmmakers right now. He directed Thor: Ragnarok, taking the Thor franchise to a place I never thought it would be, and I loved it. Next he directed Jojo Rabbit, which you haven’t seen it is one of the best films of 2019, about a boy and his imaginary friend Hitler, in which he tells an endearing story of a young nazi during WWII.

The reason I bring up these two projects, is to say that Taika Waititi can take very weird concepts and make them great, because he understands storytelling, and isn’t afraid to dive into the odd. If we’re ever going to get a Grogu movie, I can’t really imagine it won’t be the weirdest Star Wars film to date.

I know that Patty Jenkin’s Rogue Squadron was the big film takeaway from last week’s Star Wars announcements, but we know that Taika Waititi is also going to be directing a Star Wars film, and while there has been little to know information on it, the one consistent thing people have been saying is that it’s going to be weird and different.

My last point in arguing for Taika’s take on Grogu, and is that he’s directed an episode of The Mandalorian, he’s already in someway connected not only with Star Wars, but with this character.

We’ve Never Had a Real Gray Jedi

This is going to be a controversial point, because there is some speculation that Qui-Gon was a Gray Jedi, or that Kanan was. But the only real confirmed Gray Jedi we’ve seen have come in books and video games. Never a show, never a film. It’s an aspect of the story that is open for expanding the lore for the audience that only watches Star Wars.

Like I said before, Gray Jedi make the most sense in a lot of ways, they’re not good or bad, but rather they’re balanced. It’s something which in a series always so concerned about balance, has been sorely lacking, especially when we have so many balanced non-force wielders. With Lando, and Han, and Hando—just now realizing what they did there with his name— we see good characters with bad sides, and bad characters with good sides. Even within this season of the Mandalorian, we see Boba Fett, who is a bounty hunter help to do the right thing due to his honor code, and then presumably become a crime-boss.

Nuance is lacking in the force, and Grogu the Gray would be a great way of introducing it. That’s what I want to see.

The Mandalorian Just Fulfilled the Promise of Boba Fett

It’s been a few days since season 2 episode 6, “The Tragedy” aired, so you’ve had a chance to watch it, but in case you haven’t seen it, spoiler alert.

I’m one of those people who for a long time hasn’t really understood the hype around Boba Fett. I’m a big fan of the original trilogy, and in it he’s got a cool look, and is a good character as far as plot devices and things go, but there has been something of a cult following around him since his first appearance in 1980.

When the prequels came out, there was backstory explaining Boba, and if I’m being honest, Jango and the clone troopers are much more interesting than Boba. Two trilogies down, and I just didn’t get the appeal.

Surprisingly, J.J. Abrams didn’t bring back Boba for the third trilogy, which was the only piece of nostalgia for the first trilogy that didn’t seem to be dredged back up (unless Phasma is supposed to be the Boba Fett equivalent?)

With it being accepted by almost all fans that Boba survived the Sarlacc pit, it seemed inevitable that most people’s favorite nothing would make it back into the canon Star Wars galaxy, and about a year ago, we started getting casting rumors and speculation about season 2 of The Mandalorian, and the big one was Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett (whom Boba is an unaltered clone of) in the prequels.

Temuera Morrison is Back!

It seemed he was going to be Boba, although I was really hoping that we would see him playing Captain Rex from The Clone Wars and Rebels. Captain Rex was a fan favorite, and while he’s been altered, he would also be identical to Temuera Morrison (although likely much older do to age enhancement in the cloning process).

Well, by the end of episode one, that hope had been dashed. Temuera Morrison was going to be Boba Fett, and there was almost no doubt to that.

When we finally got to this past week’s episode, we hadn’t seen Boba since the last shot of the first episode, and I had somewhat forgot that he was going to be coming back, and so when we saw his ship the Slave I following Mando to Tython, I was thinking “oh cool, we’re going to see these two square off,” with a bit of unexpected enthusiasm, but nothing near my Bo Katan energy from the third episode.

Then we saw Boba and Fennec Shand confront Mando about Boba’s armor which Mando is in possession of, and I realize that we’re not going to get the Boba Fett I was expecting. He was much more diplomatic, and while he didn’t seem hesitant to fight, he certainly wasn’t going to pick one unnecessarily.

Boba Fucks Shit Up

When Moff Gideon’s stormtroopers land and come to take Grogu (AKA Baby Yoda), we see Boba Fett sanz armor begin to tear up the stormtroopers. Now, we’ve had more than a season and a half of watching Mando overcome crazy odds, and prove himself as a fighter, we’ve seen Fennec do a bit of sniper work, but what we see of Boba Fett, is nothing short of amazing. Boba fucking up stormtroopers with a stick with a big ball on the end, is probably the best fight we’ve seen in the entirety of The Mandalorian’s run.

Halfway through the fight, we get to see Boba wrestling with the last stormtrooper (from the first batch) and seeing his armor sitting in the doorway of Mando’s ship the Razor Crest. We get a little bit of Mando and Fennec fucking shit up, but being massively overwhelmed by the numbers, and then what I can only describe as the previous fight scene, plus Iron Man coming out of the cave in the first Iron Man, where you’re like “oh, you are all fucking dead.”

Boba lays waste to the remaining stormtroopers before using the jetpack rocket launcher (which personally I kind of think is a lame weapon) to blow up one of the retreating ships.

This is the Boba Fett Everyone’s Been Talking About

In less than ten minutes, forty years after his first introduction, we got the Boba Fett that everyone seemed to think we had from the very beginning. We’ve been building this guy up with head-canon for decades, and I had absolutely no expectation that I was ever going to see the Boba Fett that everyone else was seeing. Then a tv show, not a film, directed by a man who’s been somewhat waning in his career over the last decade or two (Robert Rodriguez), brought it all together.

Boba Fett is fucking awesome. That’s a statement a significant portion of Star Wars fans would have said a year ago, a decade ago, or forty years ago, but it’s a statement that I didn’t believe until last Friday. Boba Fett is fucking awesome, and I hope the last two episodes of the season keep it up.

Article by Michael Cole

Chaos Walking: The First Trailer

A few years ago, I read a book called “The Knife of Never Letting Go,” by Patrick Ness. It’s not the greatest title, but immediately it was one of my favorite books. It was written in a way that was bizarre and interesting, and I was captivated from the beginning. The book is the first in a trilogy called “The Chaos Walking” trilogy. I read the entire trilogy as quickly as I could, and while the first book is by far my favorite, the entire trilogy is good.

The film adaptation of these books is coming out on January 22, 2021 (that is of course assuming things don’t get changed in the wake of the pandemic). As far as I can tell from the trailer, which was released today, the film will be adapting the trilogy as a whole and not the first book, and I’m not hating that. Here’s what I think about the upcoming adaptation, and the books, along with the trailer.

Before You Watch the Trailer

I don’t want to say much about these books, because I do think this is a situation in which going in with as little info as possible is going to enhance the experience. The trailer does somewhat spoil some of the secrets of the first book. I think that because of the way they are—necessarily—changing the telling of the story, the reveal of the first book would make absolutely no sense, but if you’re planning on reading the books before seeing the film, I strongly recommend reading at least the first book before watching the trailer.

The trailer shows you glimpses of events past the big reveal of the first book, but I don’t think there is much that is going to be ruined if you’ve read only the first book.

What Can I Tell You Without Spoiling?

Here is one of the things that I think if you pick up the book at a book store, and literally flip through it you would learn, so I don’t feel bad spoiling for you. This book doesn’t follow a layout the way pretty much every novel I’ve ever read has. This book, along with House of Leaves, are the only two books I’ve read, where margins and orientation are inconsistent, and messed with as a part of the story telling.

In this book, (minor spoiler here) we meet Todd, a boy who lives on a planet where everyone’s thoughts are projected aloud into the air for all to see and hear. The constant bombardment of these thoughts to the characters is reflected in scrawling text, sometimes looking like a notebook which has been writing has been written over.

This factor of the world is not a minor aspect, but affects seemingly everything that happens in all three books, and so when I read that the book was going to be adapted, I was genuinely curious as to how it was going to work. Based on what I’ve seen in the trailer it looks like they’ve come up with a pretty cool way of selling it.

Three Books—One Movie?

I could be wrong on this, but based on the trailer, I think they’re telling the whole story in one film, I think it’s a smart decision. In a world in which most novels are better translated into shows than films, I think this book series doing the opposite makes a lot of sense.

The three books while running high on page counts, don’t tell long stories. In fact, it’s very much three acts of the same story. A lot of the page count is dedicated to style and world building, and I suspect that on film both will be done much more efficiently than the novels. I’d rather see the whole story told well over the course of one film, than poorly over the course of three or four.

Ready for the Trailer?

If you’ve read the books already, or you’re thinking that you’re not going to, go ahead and watch the trailer. But this is your last warning. Watching this trailer will spoil what was personally one of my favorite aspects of the book. So I won’t tell you what to do, but like any good parent, I will guilt trip you and just say “I think you know the right thing, I just hope you choose to do it.”

It looks pretty awesome, right?

Artemis Fowl: Review

I haven’t read any of the Artemis Fowl books, so I’ll only be talking about the film, and I don’t know how it compares.

Artemis Fowl is a children’s film, in the vein of a Harry Potter, with a very special child protagonist. In this case, Artemis doesn’t have magic, or special powers, but he is a genius, according to him he’s a genius on the level of Albert Einstein. Which brings us to Artemis’s second character trait that we learn, Artemis is a little shit.

In the first minute or two of this film we learn those two things about him, and the rest of the film serves to really add depth to those two characteristics. His genius is bolstered and reiterated, but lack of experience, and fear really show us is humanity, which begins to undercut the ‘little shit’ aspect of his personality. The truth is, just like most cockiness (as opposed to confidence) Artemis is masking his true feelings with an act of superiority.

For a kid who is supposed to be one part criminal mastermind, one part James Bond, he can be forgiven for being a ‘little shit.’

As the film begins, and we learn about the character of Artemis, we also learn about the world of magic and fairies, and the fact that Irish folk lore is mostly true, or at least rooted in truth. Fairies, dwarves, trolls, and centaurs all live deep under the Earth’s surface hidden from humanity to keep the peace. As we see the fairy society, we get to see that they have magic, but that they’re also deeply technological, advanced beyond the humans on the surface.

We’re introduced to Mulch Diggums, played by Josh Gad, who is telling the story of the film to a faceless MI6 agent (I think it’s director Kenneth Branagh’s voice) through a camera in a black ops site. Mulch is a giant dwarf, and the source of most of the humor in the film. If you’re not a Josh Gad fan, this part might be a bit too much like Olaf for you, where he doesn’t 100% fit the rest of the tone of the film, but I really liked the lightness he brought.

Look kids it’s terrifying Olaf!

The thing that I think really stands out about this film, is that it’s fairly different than anything I’ve seen before. The combination of magic and technology mixes in a way that I’m not sure has been done before, and the visual style is very cool. There were some effects and concepts that I would say were Wachowskian in their originality and style, like a sequence in which a ‘time freeze barrier’ stops working, and we see many of the fairies (the L.E.P. Recon squad) getting tossed and turned through the barrier.

I think overall, this is a really fun film, and would strongly recommend it. I have deliberately not gone into too many spoilers, because I really think this film deserves to just kind of take you in one minute at a time. It’s wonderfully paced, not too scary for kids, but enough adventure for adults.

Overall rating: A- (Would have been a solid A if it weren’t for one really cheesy line by Judy Dench, and I think you’ll know what I mean when it happens.)

Percy Jackson and The Unexpected Reboot

*Editor’s Note: Paul is on vacation this week, and fairly disconnected from the world, so hopefully this quench your thirst for World’s Best Articles.

I’m about a month late on this, but largely because I don’t know how many people who weren’t looking for this news would have found it, so my hope is that it’s still fresh or brand new to many of you.

I’m a big Percy Jackson fan, I read the entire “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” series after seeing the first movie. Then I saw the second movie, and I was fuming. Imagine if Voldemort had returned and had his big showdown with Harry in the third book instead of the seventh, basically that was how the second movie was. Fans of the movies, between the undercutting that the second film did and no rumors of a third movie, thought the series was done on film. It sucked, because some of the best stuff was yet to come, and it never came.

Uh Oh Annabeth, I don’t think we’re getting a third film!

Well, as I’ve said on here a few times before, I have a four-year-old, and so I’m always looking for new entertainment, and when the first movie, “Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief” was added to Disney +, I decided to show it to him. It was a little more intense than I remembered, but my son can handle it. After watching it he was obsessed, and asked me all about it, I could remember some of the details on my own, and some I had to look up, and when I looked it up, I found out that Rick Riordan (the author of the books) had announced that they were going to be making a Disney + show, and expressed his own disappointment with the films. He basically said that he hadn’t seen the films but had read the scripts and described the process as seeing his life’s work “put through a meat grinder.”

It sounds like Rick Riordan will have a considerable amount of control in the show, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Rick being the creator of the books implies that there will be a certain level of faithfulness to the books that the films lacked, and I think they do need to follow the structure closer in order to allow the full story to play out properly. My worry, is over faithfulness. Let’s use the Star Wars Prequel trilogy as an example. George Lucas had full control, and that meant that clunky dialogue and bad acting went unchecked, a trilogy that I would argue with better dialogue and acting may have been the best in the series, was somewhat squandered. In addition to the prequels, in between Episodes I and II, we started into the Harry Potter film adaptations, and while I really like the Harry Potter films, they did one thing for the film industry that I’m not sure was a good thing; they made fans want as faithful and literal of a film translation as possible to source material. There was no more ‘spirit’ of the concept in adaptations, and if you got the wrong color cat for a scene, fans would go nuts (looking at you Hunger Games fans).

“…it’s my life’s work going through a meat grinder…”

With something that as specific of a story as the Percy Jackson series has, I want faithfulness in structure, and spirit, but I don’t want them to try to recreate dialogue from the book verbatim, unless it works, or is important (i.e. prophecies and things like that). I hope Riordan realizes that a show isn’t a book, and is able to adapt for that audience. I don’t know if he can or cannot, because his only IMDb credits are Percy Jackson related, and he had minimal control on the films. He could be great, and he could be awful.

Personally, I’m excited that there will be a new Percy Jackson series, and if it’s good, I hope they go through the sequel series “Heroes of Olympus,” which follows some of the characters in the Percy Jackson series, along with some Roman demigods. That’s kind of the cool thing about this series, if it’s adapted well, there are a ton of possibilities to keep going, or for spin-offs.

In the mean time, if you’re not familiar with the series, you have at least a year to read the first book before the show starts in 2021, and I would highly recommend the book series.

TV Review: Amazon’s “Upload”

Written by Michael Cole

When I originally saw the trailer for “Upload,” I thought it looked like a “Good Place” knock off, and I wasn’t terribly interested. Eventually, between having exhausted so many shows in lock-down and my wife saying that she heard it was good, we decided to watch it. “Upload,” is a show about a 2033 world in which several companies have their own VR ‘heavens’ in which people can upload their consciousness into immediately before their death. Unlike what many expect Heaven to be like, these virtual ‘heavens’ are very capitalist, and therefore just like on Earth, those with means live better than those without.

One of the things that the show does really well, is balance tones. The show is part sit-com, part murder mystery, there are silly and whimsical moments, deep emotional moments, and a few gross-out moments, and they’re all weaved pretty together pretty well.

An aspect which I think makes the show unique is how the technology in this series operates. So, we follow the main character, Nathan Brown, as he is introduced to a swankier ‘heaven.’ Nathan has left behind his mother, niece, and girlfriend, all of whom can put on virtual reality suits and visit him. This alone is a cool concept, but one of the big events in the show is Nathan’s funeral, which he is able to attend with the help of a large wall wide screen, and the mourners can come up and talk to him as if they are in the same room together, minus the physical ability to hug or anything. Through out the show, he able to Skype or FaceTime call people in the real world just as he would have pre-death.

As the show progresses, the technology is used as a way to reemphasize the idea of wealth inequality. At one point, trying to think about what he can actually afford, Nathan goes with his mother (in a portable hard drive) to a ‘travel agent’ to tour more affordable ‘heavens.’ At the ‘travel agent’s’ office, we see the difference in connectivity with the real world, when Nathan’s head appears in an oversized lightbulb to discuss the possibilities.

‘Upload’ also shows us how this technology affects newer relationships. Nathan and his girlfriend, Ingrid, have not been dating very long when he is uploaded, and their relationship had very much been based in sex prior to his death, and while sex is still an option, it does force their relationship to deal with more emotional and intellectual compatibility. Nathan also develops a friendship/crush on his customer service representative (they’re called ‘angels’ within the company), Nora. This relationship, while they’re both physically attracted to each other, is based significantly more on intellectual and emotional compatibility.

There is a lot going on in the show, and I want to leave you without any significant spoilers, and I think much of this what I’ve gone over you could get from the trailer. The show very quickly introduces a mystery to propel you forward through the season, as well as figuring out all of the logistics of the character drama. I think it was really well done, and would recommend the show.

Upload-Season 1: A-

Batwoman Season 1: The Good, The Bad, and What to Do in Season 2


Written by Michael Cole

*Note: This article was written before the announcement that Ruby Rose, the actress who plays Batwoman, has left the series and will be replaced in Season 2.

Batwoman Season 1 ended almost two weeks ago, and I had intended to write a review on here when that happened, but I hadn’t realized the season had ended because it was an abrupt, COVID interrupted season. I won’t hold that against Batwoman obviously, and please don’t hold my tardiness on this subject against me.

I’m going to be frank with you, and tell you that while I might be in the minority, I really enjoyed Batwoman. I think there was a ton of things that were done really well. I also recognize that it had several faults, and I’m not blind to those. I think, for the sake of redemption, I will start us off with the parts that I don’t like, and work towards the things that made this show work for me.

What Fails:

I think it was back before the mid-season break, I had a conversation with Paul about the show, and one of the things that he pointed out that made no sense what-so-ever was the idea of The Crows. As I watched the second half of the season with this in mind, I realized he was completely right. The Crows, are Gotham’s premium and private ‘police’ service. They don’t exist in place of The GCPD, but in addition to it. They’re essentially independent contractors acting like Police, but with less restriction, and seemingly less self-restraint. A local law enforcement version of Blackwater.

At best, their existence doesn’t make any sense. With the appearance of Batwoman, a vigilante acting outside of the law, of course The Crows declare her to be a dangerous criminal who must be brought to justice. Complicating matters, The Crows are lead by Commander Jacob Kane (Batwoman’s father, who has no idea that his daughter is the vigilante). In similar situations like Arrow, Batman, or even Spider-Man, if a hero or vigilante is seen as a criminal, they’re usually being accused as such by the police. While there is room for argument on the morality of vigilante justice on either side, the legality of the situation is clear because The Police Dept., The D.A., are all part of law enforcement that governments put in place to protect the public. It all makes some sense. This isn’t the case in Batwoman with The Crows because they’re a private company, not operating with any kind of government oversight. The potentially interesting morality/logic of that dynamic isn’t really touched upon until the last episode or two, and even then only in passing.

Along with The Crows and their non-sensical existence, is Commander Kane. I think he fails on pretty much every front. I think the performance, with him trying to sound grizzly and hardened comes off as two dimensional and uninteresting. As for the characterization, he’s written to have the same black and white moral code that someone like Quentin Lance on Arrow had, but again Lance existed within a real Police Dept which made much more sense. Also, while Lance may have been tough on his children and perhaps a bit too rigid, he never really wrote them off. Whereas Kane’s love is barely existent at best, and far from unconditional. Do I think we need to portray every parent as having unconditional love for their children? No, but in these types of characters and stories it leads to some interesting inner conflict. Trying to justify your unconditional love for your children, when your children test your own moral code, makes for fascinating character drama. Commander Kane doesn’t do that. There are very few, if any, moments when it appears that indicate if he finds out his daughter Kate is Batwoman, that he’ll hesitate to treat her like any other criminal.

My last complaint about the show will probably be more controversial and this is way more a matter of opinion, but Kate sporadically write’s letters to the missing Bruce Wayne. It’s not the idea that she’s writing them that doesn’t work for me, it’s more a matter of delivery. There is something about it that comes across as awkward and unnatural, it interrupts the flow of the show. I think it is possible that it’s Ruby Rose, who is Australian, trying to do an American accent in these long slow, uber-articulated monologues, that doesn’t work.

What Works:

Three characters work perfectly for me on this show, there will be some mild-spoilers.

I think The Big-Bad, Alice, head of the Wonderland Gang, works perfectly. I would make the argument that she may be the best villain in The Arrowverse this season. Alice, as we learn very early on, is Kate’s twin sister, Beth. Beth was believed to be killed in a car accident when they were both 12 or 13. As the season plays out, we get to see how Alice isn’t just a menacing thug, but a deeply troubled (and for good reason) woman, who is trying to get reconcile a sense of normalcy with her sister and revenge with her father, step-mother and sister. Every emotional twist and turn is believable within the circumstances, and the performance by Rachel Skarsten rides those emotions completely and makes you feel genuine empathy for her, while also understanding that she must be stopped. I would argue that her character’s complexity exacerbates how poorly Commander Kane’s character is developed.

Alice’s right-hand man, is Mouse, who we learn is the son of the man who took Beth from the accident, and through neglect and abuse, turned her into Alice. Mouse is himself a very damaged man from his father, in addition to some physical scarring. Mouse has the ability to mimic any voice, and with Beth’s help, to make skin masks. He can turn into nearly any one within the show. It’s not Mouse’s abilities that make him interesting though. It’s his relationship with Alice/Beth. He starts off as her best friend, trying to help her exact her revenge. But as soon as Alices plan shifts from revenge to reconciliation, he begins to fear she’ll abandon him for not being enough. As well as expressing his own desire to eventually get away from Gotham and the chaos and pain he sees as being a symptom of the place.

Lastly, is Mary, Kate’s step-sister. Mary starts the show off appearing to be a vapid socialite, but its quickly revealed that she’s actually running an underground clinic for those who cannot afford emergency medical attention. She helps Batwoman early on, making something of a connection with her. Even as she struggles throughout the season with her relationship with Kate, which is strained by Kate’s distance, and Kate’s inability to let go of Beth. Mary’s feelings of inadequacy and longing to bond with Kate are well developed and expressed, and it comes to a head when she finds out Kate is Batwoman and Kate still refuses to tell Mary her secret.

How to Move Forward

The other three main characters in the show are a bit of a mixed bag for me. I think Ruby Rose as Kate is very good at the aloof part of the character, but in the genuine moments of connection, I think she’s still seems to struggle. It’s likely that they are trying to draw a parallel between her and Bruce Wayne, (but as someone who knows very little of the comic version of Bruce Wayne, take that with a grain of salt). However when you have so many characters who do have an emotional connection with Kate, like her sisters, her father, Luke Fox , or Sophie (her ex-girlfriend who works for her father on The Crows) the performance doesn’t work as well for me.

I think Luke had a pretty good second half of the season, but he didn’t start off great. There was a flatness in the character or the performance and it just didn’t work. What eventually won me over, is two-fold, Luke is very clearly the voice for the absent Bruce. As his relationship to Kate developed, he even shares things that perhaps he never would, about his loneliness, his responsibility. We also see Luke’s own dedication and search for justice by finding his father Lucius’s killer, and how he will risk his own life in order to protect his father’s secrets. As a small side note, Luke is the guy back at HQ role, so I like that he is very different from similar characters in The Arrowverse like Cisco, Felicity, and even Winn.

Sophie probably would have made the first section, except that I’m not sure she’s made enough of an impact on the show yet to say she’s failing. Sophie is kind of a bland character, who’s at her most interesting as we see her and Kate struggle throughout the beginning of the series. With Sophie being closeted and Kate being out, how this tore them apart in military academy, and is married to a man. On top of all that she also works for Kate’s father, it’s impossibly complicated between the two of them. The writers seem to have trouble picking a lane with Sophie, she’s not bold and empowered, nor is she timid and weak. She kind of flip-flops back and forth.

Going forward, into season 2, I think that these three characters can all be improved and really work for the show. I think with Kate, they were starting to work on the aloofness problem in the last couple of episodes, (maybe if they’d been given the whole season run I wouldn’t have this complaint at all). The same can be said with Luke, I think he was a slow start, but they’re getting there, and I hope that they go even further with him. With Sophie, I think she kind of has to embrace herself more in season 2, even if she goes a bit overboard at first, it would make sense, and propel her forward.

I think they should find someway in season 2 (and I kind of think they may have been working toward this at the end of season 1) of getting rid of The Crows. They just don’t work. Getting rid of them wouldn’t be difficult from a writing stand-point, and I would argue that if you just put one character in (a Mayor or something) who realizes how ridiculous they are, dismantling them could take a couple of episodes tops.

As for Commander Kane, there are three options that I see, they could kill him off, try to turn him into a human with emotions (I don’t really think this works without ignoring some of what we already have seen of him), or lastly make him outright a villain. The series could dismantle The Crows and Kane could become a vigilante hell bent on avenging them, it’s the only way I think you can keep him on the show and have him work. I just really think the dude is broken beyond repair.

The letters to Bruce Wayne are maybe the toughest fix. I think the series has been fairly inconsistent in doing them to be completely honest, I think maybe they should just get rid of them altogether. At the end of the finale, Alice has transformed the villain Hush, into a doppelgänger of Bruce Wayne. I think having a few episodes of ‘Bruce Wayne’ around will make the letters redundant. Unless Kate knows right off the bat (I swear that wasn’t intended) that he’s not the real Bruce.

The Verdict:

The show has a lot of potential, and needs a lot of growth, but I think it’s a worthy inclusion to The Arrowverse. If they work out the kinks in Season 2, there could be some really cool opportunities for interesting character work. Don’t go in expecting a finely tuned machine, but a diamond in the rough.

Article by Michael Cole