Only a few more weeks…
Check out the new episode of The World’s Best Podcast, where I talk about 2 new, but very different and intriguing shows: The Terror and Krypton. I only reviewed Part 1 Of The Terror, Part 2 airs Monday 3/26 on AMC. Definitely give it a listen if you curious about either series. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes (soon to be on Spotify):
Paul did a podcast a week or so ago that covered the show Star Wars: Rebels, and out of curiosity, I began watching it with my son. We’re hooked. I like the fact that it’s a legitimately great entry into the Star Wars saga, and my son loved that there were half a dozen Wookies (or as he calls them “Bacca!”) and he also loves that there are lots of “Star Wars” which is what he calls the stormtroopers. I’m starting him off young if you can’t tell.
So we’re hooked, but I’ve also been looking into Star Wars animation, since I had also heard that Clone Wars was a good show, and in the process, I found out that there is a lot of speculation that the next series will be Star Wars: Resistance. This hasn’t been confirmed but apparently Lucasfilm and Disney have been getting the trademarks in order.
Now, I haven’t made it through the entirety of Rebels, and I will dive into Clone Wars when I’m done (I know it’s backwards but I don’t care, I saw Return of the Jedi first as a kid, and honestly it didn’t ruin anything for me). I also recently read an article about how Disney with their television programming has a tendency to shut shows down, regardless of success with in about 65 episodes. Rebels runs for 69, but many adhere to the 65 rule. While this might be irritating for some, I think it may actually be good with Star Wars, because if we get multiple series, that might be a great way of doing things. So I’m ok with this idea of 65ish episodes.
If the next show is Star Wars: Resistance, I have some specific things that I want to see. First, I want this to take place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, it could be right in the middle, or leaning toward either one, but I really don’t want there to be much overlap with Force Awakens. There are supposed to be roughly 30 years between the two films, and I don’t want this to just be the lead up to Force Awakens.
I’m interested in seeing the creation of The First Order. There must be a power vacuum created in the wake of Return of the Jedi, and with both those loyal to the Empire, and the Rebels wanting to recreate the Republic, there must be a lot of story that happens within that power struggle, and arguably it could be more interesting than much of what we’ve seen. One of the things that I love about Rebels, is that we’re getting to see a group of 5 rebels take on Ezra, and then become a part of a larger rebellion faction which then begins recruiting and forming the alliance. Meanwhile, we’re seeing the Empire slowly complete their destruction of the Republic and its remnants. Seeing both sides regrouping and seeing the Rebels trying to take more control from the crumbling Empire, while the Empire loyalists try to find their own new structure could provide some great storylines along with the ‘scrappy’ type of action that the originals, and now Rebels provide us.
I don’t really want to see much of Poe, Rey, or Finn in this show. I love those characters, and sure Poe has something of a background in the Resistance, and Finn goes through stormtrooper training, but ultimately, I want any interaction with the younger versions of them to be cameo or Easter Egg level.
I’m somewhat interested in Kylo and the Knights of Ren, but I think perhaps that should be in its own series, something based on Luke training new Jedi or something, but it seems to be somewhat separated from the action of the Resistance.
This show however, could provide some of the answers that people are wanting that haven’t necessarily been necessary answers. We could see who Snoke is, and fill him in more, we could see more about Hux, and I’d be ok with those explorations as long as they’re not the main focus. What I really want to see though, is new characters. These wars span the course of 90ish years so far, and an entire Galaxy, and so I want to see more of the people who are also giving it their all, but aren’t necessarily connected, or not deeply connected to the Skywalkers.
I am sure that now that I have started down the rabbit hole of the Star Wars animated universe, that I will likely be along for the entire ride, so I’m not saying I won’t watch if they don’t do it the way I necessarily want, but that is ultimately what I do want to see.
Written by Michael Cole
I know we don’t usually cover this type of thing at World’s Best Media, but I really felt this was something that needed to be acknowledged. Today it’s important that we mark the passing of the great Stephen Hawking who died today at age 76. Despite being diagnosed with a rare motor nuerone disease he develops in his 20’s that left him wheelchair bound and eventually only able to speak through a voice synthesizer, he was without hyperbole, one of the greatest scientist minds in the history of our species. His groundbreaking work on quantum physics and cosmology were true gifts to mankind. Many of his books are very accessible to the layman and incredibly fascinating. Prof. Hawking’s work will spark the imaginations of scientists, artists, writers, filmmakers, and so many more for centuries to come. Despite having so much stacked against him, he truly changed the world with his gifted mind. We are all poorer for his loss. If you’re curious about him please look into his work. I’ll be putting links to some of his books on my website. He was a true visionary. Rest well, Professor…
Here are two of his most famous and amateur friendly books collected in one editor: “A Brief History of ziti even” and “The Universe In A Nutshell”. You can pick them up on Amazon through the link below:
Annihilation dir. Alex Garland
Review by Paul Wright
Adapting a book to another medium is tricky thing to pull off. The general audience consensus when it comes to filming a good books is: “The book was better.” Or some other iteration of that. People said for years that Lord of the Rings Trilogy was “unfilmable” and those movie ended up becoming Oscar winning classics. Harry Potter is another impressive book to film series. But as good as those movies are, at their best amazing and at their worst still very good, they often gloss over important, subtle, nuanced character moments that make the novels the pieces of legitimately excellent literature that they are. Then there’s HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones, which pulled the Fantasy genre into the mainstream even more than the Lord of the Rings films. I’m also of the opinion that the Game of Thrones TV series is the almost unheard of case where the adaptation is better than the already excellent source material. Then there are the out right failures like The Dark Tower. It’s a difficult balancing act for any filmmaker. Which is why I was so curious to see how Annihilation, the first book in a trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer, would be adapted to the big screen.
After an unknown object fell out of the sky and crashed at remote lighthouse, a series of events begins that could eventually threaten the entire planet. A bizarre event causes a large portion of an national park and a seaside community to be covered in an alien looking energy bubble, dubbed “The Shimmer”. Everything inside “The Shimmer”, referred to as Area X, is being subjected to bizarre and unexplainable changes, including anyone caught inside “The Shimmer” as it spread never coming out again. A government organization called “The Southern Reach” has been charged with overseeing and dealing with this unique problem. Since the initial impact, the phenomena has defied understanding at The Southern Reach. Any attempts to study the phenomena at a distance with electronic equipment simply won’t work. Attempts to send teams in to investigate have ended in failure when no one ever returns. Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist with a military background and one of those missing teams included her husband, Kane (Oscar Issacs). That is until after being thought dead for over a year, he inexplicably shows up at their home with absolutely no answers to where he’s been and what happened to him. He quickly grows extremely ill, which is the impetus for Natalie Portman to go into Area X to try to understand what happened to her husband. Area X is slowly growing outward, which is not good. So when a new team is being sent in, her background and motivation make her a welcome addition to the mission.
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (as all 3 books are collectively referred to) by Jeff Vandermeer is one of the best science fiction stories I had ever read. It’s incredibly unique and thought provoking without providing clear, easy answers to what exactly is happening (in a good way). When a film adaptation in the works was announced, a director had been announced as attached to the project as well, Alex Garland. Had it been another director, I would have been worried that this was a difficult story to turn into a film. But Alex Garland directed Ex Machina, an absolutely fantastic sci-fi film. He also wrote 28 Days Later and Dredd, among other things. It seemed like a match made in heaven, an excellent sci-fi director adapting an excellent sci-fi book. Unfortunately, Annihilation doesn’t nearly reach the heights of it’s source material or Garland’s last film, Ex Machina.
It’s by no means a terrible film. There are some cool and interesting scenes and I enjoyed seeing this world and these characters being brought to life. I think the problem was that some stories just don’t work as well outside of their original medium. The movie is pretty loyal to the book. It doesn’t wildly deviate from the original story. So, I wasn’t sure at first why the movie didn’t really work.
For example, in the book the team of characters that go on the expedition into Area X have an almost anonymous quality to them. They’re cyphers that we learn more about throughout the book and the rest of the trilogy. But that doesn’t really work on film because now you have a group of characters that are difficult to care about and therefore there’s less of a sense of urgency for their survival. You’re just not as invested in them. The actors are all fine, Natalie Portman is ok in the lead role. Jennifer Jason Lee and Tessa Thompson are both perfectly serviceable in their roles. The movie also lacks the surreal sense of dread that constantly permeates the story in the book.
To be fair there is one pretty creepy and interesting scene that’s probably the best sequence in the film. I won’t spoil it here but it’s the closest the movie comes to capturing the spirit of the book.
If you’re a fan of the books and have the time and money to do so, you could do a lot worse than to see this film. The movie does have enough meat on it to be interesting for someone who has read the series. I’d say at the very least, check it out on Blu-ray or digital when it does come out, just to fulfill any curiosity you may have as a fan of the book. To anyone else I can’t say I would recommend this movie. It’s not particularly memorable or interesting, which is a real shame. It’s always good to see great science fiction pop up in films, unfortunately this is not one of them. I definitely recommend reading the trilogy of books if you haven’t because they are quite excellent. Annihilation is ultimately a fascinating failure from a filmmaker that has incredible potential. Despite this hiccup, I still think Alex Garland is definitely a director to keep an eye on.
Annihilation is in theatres now
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Review by Paul Wright
An R-Rated, animated Batman movie, that’s essentially, Batman Vs. Jack The Ripper? To quote the great Kevin Smith “Fuck you. Take my money.”. Batman by Gaslight adopts a storytelling device often seen in comics called ”Elseworlds”. “Elseworlds” are basically one off stories where you take a familiar hero and and put them in a unique setting or story they normally wouldn’t be in. It’s a “What If…” story, essentially. For example, What if baby Superman’s spaceship crashed in Soviet Russia instead of Kansas? Or What if Batman hunted Jack The Ripper in Victorian-Era Gotham City? The original graphic novel of the same name that the movie is based on, with art by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, was too short to be adapted to a feature length film. So, the filmmakers had to add to the story, which is fun if you’ve read the graphic novel because you’re getting something that’s both a strong adaptation and completely new tale at the same time.
It’s a great premise that’s a natural fit for the character. Batman’s often referred to as “The World’s Greatest Detective” in the comics, so I loved seeing Batman in a real mystery where he has to use his skills as a detective as much as his skills as a fighter. Batman’s incredible detective abilities are rarely utilized enough outside of comics. It doesn’t hurt that the whole story takes place in a world that looks very much like the city of fictions other great detective and one of the inspirations for Batman, Sherlock Holmes (there’s a small Sherlock Holmes reference that only true Sherlockians will get). The movie looks like it’s was pulled out of the pages of an Arthur Conan Doyle story, which adds to the movie’s cool, steampunk, murder mystery vibe.
Bruce Greenwood plays Bruce Wayne/Batman in this film and besides Kevin Conroy, I think he’s my favorite Batman voice actor. He’s played Batman before in movies like Batman: Under The Red Hood (one of the best DC Animated Movies) and the excellent Young Justice animated series, returning for it’s third season later this year. Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) does some great work as Selina Kyle, but I don’t think they ever call her Catwoman in the movie. Besides Batman, Selina Kyle has the most to do in this movie. She’s basically Batman’s partner in solving the murders. She’s taking matters into her own hands because she knows if the victims were rich, white men instead of poor women, the police would be doing a lot more. At the very end she has a little damsel in distress moment I wasn’t crazy about, but other wise she’s an ass kicking badass who is more or less Batman’s equal.
Of course, it fun to see Victorian-era versions of the wide array of characters from Batman’s world. I wont spoil all the fun cameos, but you get to see characters from Hugo Strange to Solomon Grundy throughout the story. Unfortunately, a lot of the supporting cast isn’t as fleshed out as Batman and Selina Kyle which is definitely a big weakness in the film.
This movie takes full advantage of it’s R-Rating. This is easily one of the more bloody and gorey DC Animated Movies made so far. The real life Ripper Murders always struck me as particularly brutal and vicious. The movie does a good job of conveying that THIS Jack The Ripper is a terrifying butcher as well.
One of the things that made this version of Jack The Ripper work for me is that he was a physical match for Batman. This isn’t the same Batman that could kick the shit out of Superman. Batman gets pretty fucked up a few times in this movie. We’ve seen Batman fight armies of alien invaders and beings with all kinds of super abilities and come out fine. But the fact that The Ripper is just a man and he comes so close to killing Batman makes him much more frightening. Compared to other Batman animated movies recently, the stakes may seem lower but they feel higher than ever. This story isn’t “canon”, so characters who wouldn’t normally be on the chopping block could be taken out at anytime, which give the movie a nice edge.
Stylistically, this film has stepped away from the more anime inspired look that much of the other DC Animated Movies have adopted. Instead, the animation style is more traditional, without sacrificing quality. Including several great fights and action sequences. There a few showdowns between Batman and The Ripper that are particularly well done.
Having never read the original graphic novel, I didn’t know who The Ripper was while watching the movie (and this being Gotham City it could be almost literally ANYONE). So, it was fun not knowing where the story was going, but I did know The Ripper is NOT the same character from the original graphic novel. I’m definitely going to grade on a curve here, because as I’ve said before the quality of the DC Animated Movies has dipped over the past few years and I feel this is a huge step in the right direction. I have a feeling that the movie seemed a lot better than it actually was because the quality of the DC Animated films hasn’t been as consistent lately
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is fun little Batman mystery, taking place in a interesting setting. Whether you’re a fan of Batman, these animated movies, or you just happened to see the trailer and were intrigued, I would definitely recommend this movie. While not without it’s flaws, It is without a doubt one of the best DC animated movies that we’ve seen in a long time. Let’s hope they keep this momentum going into their next movies…
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is available on iTunes now and the Blu-Ray will be released on 2/6/2018
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – 8.4/10
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I haven’t spoken much about it on any of our podcasts or written about it in any of my articles, but I’m a huge, huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I really believe they’ll go down in history, remembered as some of the best fantasy literature of our time. For the most part, I’m also a big fan of the films as well. There were some things that were fundamentally flawed to them, but to get such a beloved series done that well, over eight films is a huge accomplishment. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two were probably the best of the films.
But my favorite moments in the books were always quiet, character driven moments. Like an emotional and distraught Harry venting to Dumbledore in his office after the death of Sirius Black. Or seeing the real reason Snape hated Harry so much, when Harry gets a glimpse in a pensive that shows him Snape’s worst memory. Which included being humiliated by Harry’s father when they were both students at Hogwarts. Harry had to come to terms with the idea that his Dad wasn’t the perfect, ideal image in his head, but a real, flawed person. For the most part I felt some of the most powerful moments in the Books were passed too quickly, if they were even touched on it all.
Now we have this new series of films that take place in the Harry Potter Universe set in the late 1920’s: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”or as Mr. Sunday Movies calls them “Fantastic Creatures, Have You Seen Them, Where Are They, Are They In The Case? I Bet They’re In The Case. They were In The Case”. EW.com had a bunch of great character photos from the upcoming movie, which I have posted throughout the article. I enjoyed the first film well enough, but what that really hurt the film for me was the reveal that Collin Farrell‘s character was actually Gellert Grindelwald, infamous dark wizard in disguise, played in ridiculous make up by Johnny Depp. Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts film came out it was
announced that the over arcing plot of the series would be the growing threat of Grindelwald and the magical war that takes place in this universe roughly around the time of our WW2 in the muggle world.
I really like this concept from a storytelling standpoint because in the Harry Potter books and films Dumbledore is such a world renowned, respected wizard because he cut his teeth being the man who took down Grindelwald, who was at that time the darkest and most dangerous wizard the world had ever seen (at least until He Who Must Not Be Named came along). Dumbledore has always been one of the more fascinating characters in the Harry Potter universe, so getting to see more of this character in a very different part of his life is really intriguing to me. Another interesting wrinkle in this backstory is the fact that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were romantically involved. They were kind of like Charles Xavier and Magneto, they were two men who were gifted magicians and had a lot of the same ideas, but Grindelwald felt that Muggles should bow down and be subservient to the wizards of the world. Grindenwald felt that magic users were inherently superior to non-magical humans. That’s where he and Dumbledore parted ways and their friendship became increasingly antagonistic until Grindelwald gathered followers and was basically in open war with the rest of the world. You’ll see in the photos that they cast Jude Law as young(ish) Dumbledore, which I think is excellent casting.
Still, I can’t help think it was such a missed opportunity that they swapped out Colin Farrell for Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp hasn’t put in a compelling performance in years. He relies on absurd visual gimmicks, just like you see in these photos. Colin Farrell was genuinely menacing in Fantastic Beasts. He’s a great actor and would’ve made an excellent Grindelwald. I still hope they keep him around and use him in the series in someway (I forget his character’s name). Because the only way a wizard can turn into another person is by creating a potion called pollyjuice but that requires the person they are impersonating to still be alive. So the real Colin Farrell has to be out there somewhere. Anyway I thought these were some interesting photos that I thought you’d find interesting. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters 11/16/2018.
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