This review contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2, episode 9, titled "Vanishing Point." To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our episode 8 review.
These violent delights have violent ends, indeed.
Westworld's main shortcoming (aside from a stubborn insistence on non-linear plotting when sometimes a straightforward narrative - like Akecheta's story in episode 8 - would be equally effective) is that it has a tendency to tell us what we already know. Most episodes are either so vague as to be almost incomprehensible without the context of future episodes, or they spend multiple scenes spelling out plot twists that the audience discovered weeks ago.
This is an advance, non-spoiler review for all 10 episodes of GLOW: Season 2 on Netflix - premiering Friday, June 29th.
Netflix's Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are back for another triumphant team-up, trying to capitalize on their cult following as a local San Fernando Valley '80s TV oddity and transform into something thriving and meaningful.
And while this bodacious band of misfits, hailing from all walks of life, attempts to turn a shoddy and lovable wrestling/variety act into a successful venture, the series itself continues its wonderful winning streak as a totally addictive, utterly consumable, dramedy.
GLOW is one of Netflix's best offerings.
It's not overlong (10 episodes at around 30 mins each), it doesn't feel like one long movie (there are actual memorable, themed episodes), and it makes for a dynamite binge. Though serialized, GLOW isn't cruelly so. It's all one story, but it's framed and presented in polished, palatable package so that you want to keep eating the popcorn, watching the next chapter. And tonally, it's terrific. Sometimes the comedy carries the weight, sometimes the drama, and they're never forced to wrestle for full control. Like an actual well-booked wrestling card, there's something for everyone.
Note: This is a spoiler-free review of the first three episodes of 12 Monkeys: Season 4: “The End,” “Ouroboros,” and “45 RPM” airing Friday, June 15th on Syfy.
12 Monkeys ends its brief but brilliant run this summer, and based on the first of its final four nights, fans are in for a wild ride. “The End” is 42 minutes of action as things pick up pretty much where they ended last season and our heroes must escape the clutches of Olivia, the (for real) Witness. “Ouroboros” is a quieter, more reflective hour that sees Cole, Cassie, and Jones face a sort of “dark night of the soul,” and “45 RPM” is an absolutely bananas backwards-kinda origin story for Olivia that will have you picking your jaw off of the floor before it’s done.
This is an advanced SPOILER-FREE review of Marvel's Luke Cage Season 2. You can stream all 13 episodes on June 22 on Netflix.
Months after Luke (Mike Colter) took down Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) and Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey), the titular hero returns as a Harlem icon, making appearances on ESPN and various social media platforms. He’s a superhero without a mask, which is a nice change from some other heroes that hide in the shadows, like Daredevil and The Punisher.
While the premise of a friendly neighborhood Luke Cage sounds promising, sadly, the story’s execution is uninspired, and sometimes downright boring. Series creator Cheo Hodari Coker is still searching for that villainous magic he found in Ali’s portrayal of Cottonmouth last season.
Every few years there’s a comedy that plays with a convention in a fresh and entertaining way. Buddy movie, bromantic comedy, whatever label you want to slap on it, Tag is very comfortable with what it is and it does what it does well.
There are many things about Tag that remind me of the first time I saw The Hangover and that’s not just because it shares a cast member, Ed Helms. The bonds between friends, the struggle to maintain them and how men deal with changes in their group dynamic and personal circumstances are all themes that are played out in both movies. Additionally, both movies have taken these core elements and presented them in a unique and refreshing way, finding their own voice and just having the courage to go for it.
It's becoming slightly ridiculous just how many times Marvel has relaunched Jason Aaron's ongoing Thor saga. It started as Thor: God of Thunder, then became Thor, then briefly changed to Thors during Secret Wars, then transformed into The Mighty Thor. And now we've circled right back around to Thor again. But no matter how often the title on the cover changes, the quality has remained consistent. If you were reading and enjoying The Mighty Thor before, you'll want to be following Thor now.
Aaron himself has stuck around for the Fresh Start relaunch, but a great deal else has changed with the series. The most obvious being that the Odinson has reclaimed the mantle of Thor and resumed defending Midgard while the victorious Jane Foster finally has a chance to recuperate. But if happier, Thor is still not quite whole. Mjolnir is MIA. Asgardia has been destroyed, and the Bifrost along with it. And even as the gods are at a low ebb, Malekith's War of realms rages on unchecked.
In Gordon Parks, Jr.'s 1972 blaxploitation classic Super Fly, Harlem was portrayed as a dingy and lived-in place cluttered with trash and populated with both gentleman criminals and those of the not-so-savory variety. In it, Ron O'Neal played a cocaine dealer named Youngblood Priest who commanded Harlem's attention with his glowering intensity and, of course, his excellent tweed suits. In 1972, crime was a low-down and dirty activity that involved dirty alleyways, dirty darkened back alley dealings with dirty cops, and brutal karate beatings. It was all punctuated by Curtis Mayfield's funk/soul music, providing one of the best movie soundtracks in history.
The world of crime in Director X's 2018 update – now sporting a title that is, like everything else, more streamlined – is a decidedly more posh, comfortable and opulent place. In the post-millennial crime world of the new Superfly, now set in Atlanta, the dangerous gangs wear matching all-white costumes, criminal hangouts have come to resemble strip clubs by way of Cirque du Soleil, and Youngblood Priest is smoother, cooler, better dressed, and more unflappable than ever; a Zen master in pleather. And although the plot of Superfly is a sneeze of loose ends, and some of the film's basic logic doesn't add up – Priest is depicted as world-weary and experienced, even though actor Trevor Jackson is only 21 – it still was wise to approach a remake of Super Fly as an exercise in cucumber-cool style. It's not the sort of film that will blow...
Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the episode
FLCL: Progressive’s second episode throws us right back into the chaotic lives of Hidomi and Ide, though their adventures are plagued by some uneven pacing. “Freebie Honey” is a bit of a slow starter, but is ultimately saved by a climactic final scene that escalates the relationships between our protagonists and drops more hints about the show’s connection to its past.
Progressive opens with another one of Hidomi’s dreams, though this time around its more like a nightmare. The animation takes on a 60’s horror flick aesthetic while presenting a gruesome battle between an undead Hidomi and her zombified classmates. It's nice to see the series keep with its history of experimental animation styles, though some might find our protagonist’s dismemberment a little hard to stomach. Even as she is ripped to shreds Hidomi cheerfully analyzes the events, and it’s still unclear if these dreams are some kind of premonition or simply a metaphor for Hidomi’s views on the world around her. The following scene where Hidomi imagines herself as a zombie while sitting in class seems to hint at the latter.
After a 14-year hiatus, the heroic Parr family returns in a sequel that, in many ways, surpasses the outstanding original. Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 excels in its ability to balance the important and emotional familial aspects of the story with the exciting superhero antics moviegoers have come to expect in the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But while there are plenty of moments of action-packed spectacle, writer/director Brad Bird doesn’t rely on them to replace the most important movie-making ingredient: heart.
Bird’s skillful balancing act employs a role-reversal within the Parr family, which previously centered on Bob/Mr. Incredible’s (Craig T. Nelson) desire to return to glory after a ban on superheroes forced the family into hiding and suburban blandness. Incredibles 2 cleverly establishes its place in continuity by opening with a thrilling battle against The Underminer (Cheers’ John Ratzenberger), who appeared to terrorize local citizens moments before the credits rolled on the original movie. But even the heroics of defeating Syndrome and The Underminer don’t change the law, and the Parrs are effectively returned to square one, facing a mundane future. With Bob still out of a job, that leaves him and Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), in desperate need of income.
This review contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2, episode 8, titled "Kiksuya." To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out last week's review of episode 7.
After the explosive events of episode 7, "Kiksuya" is a more measured hour - one that surprisingly allows us to see the park from the perspective of Ghost Nation leader Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon). The episode title translates to "remember" in the Siouan language of Lakota, which is fitting, since the episode offers us a useful reminder of how deceptive our memories can be.
While episode 7 dealt with Bernard's unreliable recollections, episode 8 challenges us - as so many of the best Westworld episodes do - to reexamine our own perceptions, just as Maeve is forced to do when it becomes clear that the Ghost Nation tribe is trying to protect her daughter, not harm her - and has apparently been attempting to do so for years.
At first glance, Jupiter Jet may seem like just another superhero book in an industry that has far too much of that already. But with a premise that combines equal parts The Rocketeer and Robin Hood and throws in a healthy dose of steampunk sci-fi to boot, this series has little trouble standing out from the crowd in the end. The fact that it also happens to be very all-ages friendly is just one more point in its favor.
Jupiter Jet is, among other things, a strong showcase for how to world-build without losing sight of the narrative. The first issue introduces a well-realized, retro-futuristic world without beating readers over the head in an attempt to establish that world and its history. Writers Jason Inman and Ashley Victoria-Robinson are content to drop readers into the story and let the rest handle itself over time. The dynamic between teen heroine Jacky and her brother is charming, with their tenuous financial state giving the story plenty of weight and a clear sense of stakes. Jacky isn't just a freedom fighter trying to save her city, she's also an orphan doing her best to care for her family in a world that never quite seemed to escape the Great Depression.
The Logitech Prodigy G203 (See it on Amazon) is a budget mouse for gamers who went out and invested their life savings in a GPU and didn’t have any money left over for a high-end mouse. The chief attraction of the Prodigy G203 is its extremely low price of just $30, and its wide DPI range, which runs from 200 to 8,000 DPI, thanks to a recent firmware update. On the box, Logitech stamps the Prodigy G203 as a 6,000 DPI mouse, but as soon as you connect it to your PC, it’ll ask you to update its firmware, which ups the DPI. Whether you need such a large DPI range, however, depends on the rest of your rig, namely your monitor.
Though he's written 50-ish issues of Batman so far (including annuals and spinoffs), Tom King has yet to deliver a dedicated Joker story. The most we've seen was "The War of Jokes and Riddles," but even that story took place in the past and positioned Joker as one villain among many. As the series nears the long-awaited wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, finally the Clown Prince of Crime is stepping out of the shadows and back into the spotlight. And unsurprisingly, he steals the show in issue #48.
The Hulk franchise is coming off of one of its more drastic status quo upheavals, with Amadeus Cho having taken up the mantle since 2015's Totally Awesome Hulk. One might expect a return to basics for the character now that Bruce Banner is alive and back as the main protagonist. But thankfully, that isn't the case. Immortal Hulk returns the Jade Giant to his horror-flavored roots, and in the process becomes one more promising new addition to Marvel's Fresh Start lineup.
This is an advance review for the first episode of Condor, which premieres Wednesday, June 6th, on AT&T's Audience Network.
Adapting a time-capsule classic is usually always a thankless task. Not only do the new team of creators and writers have to retrofit and remodel the story to make the it politically and socially relevant to the modern era, but they'll most likely fall short, if not way short, of making something truly notable or worthwhile. Because not only will your project get compared to the original, and the zeitgeist-y lightning it captured in a bottle, but it will also get held up to everything the original movie influenced over the years - which now, funnily enough, includes your new project.
DC may have recently dropped the "DC Rebirth" moniker, but the goal remains the same. The company is still working to restore what's been lost and rebuild those crucial character relationships that define the DC Universe. Justice League #1 feels like an important new step in that ongoing process. This issue may be crammed full of crazy plot twists and big ideas, but none of that would matter if readers didn't care about the team writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Cheung have assembled.
It's clear the new Justice League is drawing more inspiration than usual from the animated realm. The new team roster is basically the same as the one seen in the Justice League animated series, while the series is also debuting a Super Friends-worthy take on the Legion of Doom. But while those elements make for obvious selling points, never does it feel like this issue is trying to ride on the coattails of what's come before. Modeling the new League after the animated team merely gives this issue a starting point as it attempts to establish a team with a real sense of history and purpose behind it. Too often in recent years, the Justice League has lacked that personal spark. With the New 52 decimating so much continuity, you have a group of heroes who hang out more because it's expected of them than because they feel like a legitimate family.
This review contains spoilers for Netflix's feature-length Sense8 series finale, "Amor Vincit Omnia."
"Pain binds us together better than anything else," Jonas tells Will early in Sense8’s two and a half hour finale. While true in some regard, it feels like one of the last remaining figures from a failed sensate cluster only makes it halfway to the full truth Sense8 is pushing. As secrets unfold in the finale, we learn the deeper reasons of various betrayals within Jonas’ cluster, which just further illustrates the difference between them and Will’s group of telepathically connected individuals.
Their eight-way relationship has been built on empathy and love since the start, and thus those ideals became the prerogative the show has always put forward. Whether it be Nomi struggling for her family’s acceptance, Kala struggling with the expectations of her culture, or any of the other individual sensates’ woes, their shared pain has always led them to a wider, more encompassing acceptance of each others’ love. One of the many truisms of this show is that it’s love that makes pain worth enduring. After all, it was love from this show’s fans that resurrected Sense8 from the dead so it could conclude.
Acer is well-known for its high-end Predator gaming laptops, but it also has an entry-level lineup dubbed Nitro as well. Since IGN typically only reviews expensive, herculean laptops we figured we'd add a bit of variety to our coverage with a review of the $900 Nitro 5 (See it on Amazon). It's made for gamers on a budget, and features a pretty basic design but with enough gaming-specific features to satisfy most folks. Honestly, it's mostly about setting your expectations correctly, because for a device that’s priced under $1,000, you can’t expect more than what the Nitro 5 has to offer.
This is a spoiler-free advance review for the double-episode premiere of AMC's Dietland - "Pilot" and "Tender Belly" - which airs Monday, June 4th.
Dietland - which is off to a solid start with its two-episode premiere - is a show saddled with a name that's going to make viewers initially think it's something that it isn't. That is, if the name just doesn't steer people away entirely. Like our beloved Terriers (RIP!) of the past, the name Dietland doesn't really give one a sense of story. It certainly doesn't make you think "dark-ish mix of satire and sincerity that skewers the toxic beauty standards that exist to subjugate women while also acting as a timely companion for the #MeToo movement."
There are a lot of so-called “scary movies” that get by on just being kinda creepy, or kinda gross, or kinda full of jump scares. So a movie like Ari Aster’s Hereditary stands out. It’s genuinely creepy, it’s genuinely gross, its jump scares will make you actually jump. It’s a terrifically frightening motion picture on almost every level.
Toni Collette stars as Annie Graham, a woman whose mother has just died and left behind a vast assortment of deep psychological scars. Her family can’t even seem to muster the mental energy necessary to mourn this woman, whose mental illness took such a punishing toll on Annie, so Annie is forced to take her conflicted emotions elsewhere, to support groups, just to admit that she has them.