For years, the novels of Philip Pullman have been dazzling readers young and old alike, and the series His Dark Materials was perhaps the most famed of all. Previously, it’s been adapted into both a theater production and a film which was met with mixed reviews. Pullman’s readers have been vying for a way to bring their beloved series and all of its magic to life in a new way, and with the release of HBO’s His Dark Materials television adaptation of 2019, it seems that they may get their way. A brand new fantasy epic saga that feels inspired by the likes of the later Harry Potter films and similar fantasy titles that hold equal intrigue for older children and adults has just awoken and holds definite promise. Our friends over at HBO were able to secure a preview containing the first four episodes for us to review before wide release, and it is so far a very engaging watch. I personally have never read the books that the series is based on and so cannot say much in the area of adaptational accuracy, but that does allow me to approach it with fresh eyes, able to give a less biased look at how the show stands on its own merit. But to be fair, if the rest of the season is this interesting, I may have to pick up the books after all. Continue Reading
Sound is one of five tenets of our sensory experience on this planet, so it makes sense to want to experience it luxuriously at times. This is understood especially when it comes to entertainment that you personally enjoy and wish to upgrade. Whether it be movies, music, sports, or other immersive media, we can find a new level of enjoyment when the presentation is enhanced, such as by improving the auditory experience. If you have any friends that are self-proclaimed audiophiles, it’s highly possible that you’ve heard talk of the newly released AMBEO Soundbar. You may ask, “What’s the deal with this apparently very special speaker? Can it really change my audio that drastically? How did I get so many friends that all share this extremely specific interest again?” Or if you are said audiophile, you may be interested in seeing whether or not this new device is worth the hefty price. Fret not, as whether you have no knowledge of audio tech or consider yourself a passionate fan of such things, together we can all examine what the AMBEO Soundbar does, how it compares to similar devices, and how it can affect your media consumption forever. As I was able to test out the speaker and use it in various different scenarios, I’ll be highlighting my personal experiences with the device and how it stacks up in the grand world of audio tech. Continue Reading
This review will contain mild spoilers for Joker.
The Joker is one of the most famous villains of all time, both in comic circles and entertainment as a whole. Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of distinct portrayals of the character that have all left a significant mark on his general perception. From Heath Ledger’s sinister unpredictable crime lord in 2008 to Mark Hamill’s insane larger-than-life cartoon villain in 1992 to Jared Leto’s unfortunate misstep in 2016, the Joker has become one of the most interesting characters in comics and cinema, and those are just some of the most well-known versions. As society goes on, new takes on this famous character will no doubt continue to be created, some good, some bad. In the case of Joker, the first stand-alone movie centered completely on the killer clown and his backstory, this version by Joaquin Phoenix will no doubt be remembered as exceptionally great. Continue Reading
If the performance at the Emmy’s is anything to go off of, it appears that Succession has enraptured both audiences and critics across the world as of late. While only in its second season, Succession has rapidly gained attention since its June 2018 premiere. Fans of the HBO series can’t seem to get enough of this dramatic look into the lives of a scheming family running a monopolistic media empire. There is a certain morbid fascination with this family that sees each other as little more than a means to an end, with all parties understanding that power will trump familial loyalty every time in this corporate world. The old patriarch of this establishment is Logan Roy (Brian Cox), a formidable tyrant who plays mind games and spins webs of deceit and blackmail to get what he wants and keep his huge company afloat.
With season two, we pick up less than two days after the end of season one, seeing how one of Logan’s sons, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), is getting along after his attempted business betrayal against his father and major drug relapse. From the get-go, Kendall seems much more timid and submissive after being unable to seize his own power and only digging himself into a deeper hole, and his speech and mannerisms clearly reflect his new role. The writing and acting for this season is top notch, absolutely no one is slacking in these respects. Logan, still deciding where to take his shaken company and who of his children and immediate family to trust with corporate power, gives an amazing performance, both in subdued moments and over-the-top blowouts. Continue Reading
This review will contain spoilers.
August 2019 marked the return of (in)famous director Quentin Tarantino to direct a brand new movie in his signature style, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The genuine buzz and curiosity surrounding this movie from the get-go never seemed to truly ebb from the moment that the first trailer dropped. Whether in excitement or dread, everyone was anticipating going to see this movie, with its uniquely tangible 60’s setting and immensely popular cast that seemed to grab the attention of both the film buffs and the average moviegoers. And so, the crowds came in droves to see the film, and a little over two hours later, the world stepped out of the theater feeling extremely conflicted. Immediately and without hesitating to make their passionate opinions known, some jumped to claimed it was a fantastic cinematic masterpiece, others strongly refuted by calling it a dull failure, and still others felt unsure what to even make of the film, including myself initially. It was certainly a very different film, as Tarantino himself is known for, a film where the viewer’s personal perceptions of the more ambiguous events will have a large bearing on how they view the film as a whole. There’s also the notorious final 20-30 minutes that turn the film on its head and was met with even more polarized reactions from viewers. But before this can be discussed, it’s imperative to discuss the buildup and ultimate payoff that made Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a fairy tale worth looking at. Continue Reading
No matter what you think of it, everyone can agree that Veronica Mars is a show that truly cannot be kept down. Following a fan-funded movie in 2014, Veronica Mars has found a revival in 2019 after jumping from the now-defunct UPN to The CW to its current home, Hulu. Marshmallows, as fans call themselves, have followed this show through thick and thin, and not without reason. When it first premiered in 2004, creator Rob Thomas captured audiences with a teen drama/mystery that didn’t rely on easy cliches and pandering character types to draw in watchers. Instead, it made itself stand out from the crowd of assembly-line young adult TV shows with its witty writing, relatable characters, and interesting stories surrounding the young private detective. But this fourth season is premiering in a different world than the one that the series left in 2007, and though it has a cult following, it also must remember that a whole new generation has grown into the target demographic range in these past 12 years. How do Rob Thomas and his beloved cast and crew deal with this? With much of the same style, grace, and intellect that fans have come to love, at least for the most part. Continue Reading
The 1990’s, also known as Disney’s Renaissance Era in regards to their animated features of the time, is a period of great nostalgia for the young adults of today. It began nearly 30 years ago, making it a prime time for bringing beloved pieces of that past to the present. Disney has buckled down on this, bringing a huge number of live action reboots and retellings with a prominent focus on movies from that period (as well as a few of their timeless early classics). From the Renaissance, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and many more either have already been released or are currently in development. But today, we’ll be looking into the latest animation-to-reality release: The Lion King. The 1994 classic was heralded as one of the greatest films of all time, even beyond the genre of animation (whether or not “animation” in of itself should be considered its own genre or not is a question for another time). The star-studded voice cast that caught the attention of the world remains in the top 10 highest-grossing animated movies of all time. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why Disney would create a live action reboot of one of their most successful films. But how does this film fare both standing on its own and when compared to the original? Let’s see if this lion of a film can truly claim to be the king of the jungle.
After Infinity War and Endgame changed both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and our own world forever, it was hard to imagine what comes next. Where do you even go after undoing a catastrophic mass genocide and losing some of the biggest heroes in the game? “Well,” Marvel offers, “you go see how their legacy will carry on and evolve through the people that they left behind.” As usual, they knew just the path to take in the aftermath of one of the most popular movies ever released, and Spider-Man just so happened to be the perfect person to start with. As Tony Stark’s protégé left in mourning after his mentor’s passing, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a great jumping off point to reintroduce fans into this new MCU. In Endgame, Peter was unceremoniously pulled back into the world and now has to come to terms with the years missing from his life where society went on without him and the others that turned to dust during Thanos’ snap. His movie also focuses in on a question that fans have been relentlessly asking: what’s going to happen now that the Avengers are either majorly changed or completely disbanded? The uncertainty of Peter and the world around him reflects how Marvel fans everywhere truly have no idea what will come next, but are eager to find out. And if this film is anything to judge by, we were right to be anticipating these new and different stories from a post-Thanos universe. Let’s take a look at how this film satiates our curiosities about post-snap Earth and answers our many questions after the death of the Mad Titan, no spoilers of course. Continue Reading
The Toy Story saga is a franchise that is often viewed as the gold standard for animated movies, and for good reason. Way back in 1995, Pixar brought us the first ever full-length computer-animated film with Toy Story, which was a critical hit and a technological marvel of its time. Pixar continued to hit it out of the park with Toy Story 2 and 3, making a trilogy of movies that were heralded as near-perfect masterpieces of animation. Even though the first two are now a little bit dated animation-wise by today’s standards, they are not ugly by any means and still completely hold up as films, which is an impressive accomplishment in of itself. Now, almost 10 years after Toy Story 3 gave us a memorable and satisfying conclusion, Pixar has released Toy Story 4, a brand new installment to break the label of trilogy. Although the film was released to a crowd of skeptical and anxious fans, Pixar dazzled us again and most filmgoers ended up leaving the theater with their fears melted away, feeling the same joy that the original movies brought to them years ago. Continue Reading
The summer of 1997 marked the start of a series that would quickly rise to popularity and stick around so effortlessly that it can still be casually referenced in conversation today without causing confusion, Men In Black. The original film starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the iconic duo in a government agency that deals with alien diplomatics and otherworldly threats on a daily basis. These characters worked as foils for each other so well that, despite how opinions changed on the overall series as it progressed, most would agree that Agents Jay and Kay remained entertaining together throughout. Men In Black II (2002) and Men In Black 3 (2012) never quite reached the same success as their predecessor, but were able to keep the name of the franchise alive and well so much that it can still claim to be a household name over 20 years later. A trilogy with that kind of staying power is bound to inspire a few extra sequels and spin-offs (there even used to be an animated Men In Black show for the Warner Brother’s kids program!). The latest hopeful reviver of the franchise is Men In Black: International, this time starring Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in leading roles very similar to the ones occupied by Smith and Jones within the trilogy. But can this charismatic squad hold the sequel together, or is this film destined to become lost to time and space? Continue Reading
As many fans know, the Disney Renaissance was a revolutionary time period for animation that took place from about 1989 to 1999. We have this period to thank for many beloved titles such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, and Aladdin. Nearly every movie released at that time was a smash hit and most became instant classics that any respectable kid would enjoy on VHS for hours on end. Now that it’s 2019, the generation that grew up with these films have grown up into a stressful yet nostalgia-fueled world and are yearning for a taste of their childhood. This was the setup for Disney to begin their campaign of live-action remake, the latest of which being Aladdin. Almost every Renaissance film and many others in the Disney catalogue are being recreated in live-action, so love it or hate it, this trend seems to be sticking around for awhile. With Dumbo behind us and The Lion King just around the corner, let’s take a closer look at Aladdin and see if it really is a diamond in the rough. Continue Reading
In the winter of 1961, a man by the name of Joseph Heller released his newest book, Catch-22, to immediate and overwhelming popularity with the general public. The satirical dark comedy was based on Heller’s own personal experiences as a bomber in World War II, and the anti-war messages throughout proved to be extremely appealing to young people during a time of increasing disillusionment with the Vietnam War. It was a book that critics still claim pulled off a staggering balancing act between the comedic and tragic elements, coming together to craft a story that left a profound impact for generations. Almost 60 years later, people everywhere are intrigued to learn that George Clooney and Grant Heslov have partnered together with various other talent to create a 6-episode mini-series that functions as an adaptation of the long-beloved Catch-22. It seemed an interesting prospect, no doubt, as Clooney and Heslov would be directing, acting, and producing, as well as bringing in a star-studded cast and crew to bring the story to life. Excitement built as the time drew closer and closer until we finally arrived at the anticipated release date on May 17, 2019. Ever since the release, everyone from diehard book fans to casual viewers have been wanting to know: is Hulu’s Catch-22 a series that warrants a watch? The answer: for the most part, yes, as long as you can be forgiving of its flaws. Continue Reading
Director Chad Stahelski’s ongoing saga of John Wick movies have become a household name in a matter of less than 5 years, and for good reason. As it stands now, John Wick as a body of work is an interesting and fresh take on the action genre from a variety of cinematic viewpoints. When the first film came out in 2014, it became an instant classic with the infamous “puppy murder that launched a thousand bullets” setup as well as impressive fight scenes throughout. Throughout all of the movies, John has shown himself to be a protagonist that is in some ways familiar to what we would consider a “cold-blooded action hero,” and yet also makes intriguing decisions and is presented in an unprecedented way. But more on that later as we work our way through John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum and what it has to offer moviegoers. Overall, Parabellum can be described as a satisfying continuation in this series which ties aspects of his characterization and thematic elements from throughout the films together, as well as building foundations for the next upcoming sequel. It does have its fair share of issues (mostly ones carried over from its predecessors), but if you enjoyed the past two films, get ready for more of what you loved, this time bigger and better. Continue Reading