Comic Review: Daredevil – Epic Collection: Heart of Darkness

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Ann Nocenti, Mike Baron, Gerry Conway, Gregory Wright
Art by: John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, Cam Kennedy, Rick Leonardi

Marvel Comics, 482 Pages

Review:

This covers a big chunk of the Ann Nocenti run, which ends about midway through the Daredevil – Epic Collection volume after this one.

I liked this about the same as I did the previous one, which kicked off the Nocenti era.

This collection of stories is a departure from what’s typical for the Daredevil character but I like that a lot, as it makes this era stand out with the character facing off against fantastical threats and also generally being outside of Hell’s Kitchen and New York City.

The big arc at the end of this stretch brings back Blackheart, in his second story, as well as his father, the more famous and more dangerous, Mephisto. I like the whole Daredevil vs. Mephisto thing, as it is just a cool test for the hero and there’s obvious similarities.

Overall, this was a great read and it reminds me of why I fell in love with this comic, in this era.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: The Green Knight (2021)

Release Date: July 29th, 2021 (Switzerland, Germany, Israel)
Directed by: David Lowery
Written by: David Lowery
Based on: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by anonymous
Music by: Daniel Hart
Cast: Dev Patel, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Erin Kellyman, Patrick Duffy (voice)

Sailor Bear, BRON Studios, A24, 130 Minutes

Review:

“[as the Queen’s voice overlaps with the Green Knight’s while she reads his letter] Oh, greatest of kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game. Let whichever of your knights is boldest of blood and wildest of hearts step forth, take up arms and try with honor to land a blow against me. Whomsoever nicks me shall lay claim to this my arm. Its glory and riches shall be thine. But… thy champ must bind himself to this: should he land a blow, then one year and Yuletide hence, he must seek me out yonder to the Green Chapel six nights to the north. He shall find me there and bend a knee and let me strike him in return, be it a scratch on the cheek or a cut in the throat. I will return what was given me, and then in trust and friendship, we shall part. Who, then, who is willing to engage with me?” – Green Knight; Queen

I went into this without expectation and that’s probably the best way to see this.

This is a live-action adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s a story I always enjoyed, which I first discovered when I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of it. There are other translations but it was the Tolkien one that I first discovered and experienced and it’s probably the only version I’ll ever revisit, unless someone can sell me on another one.

This is also the first adaptation of the poem in decades, at least that I am aware of. I saw the one with Sean Connery, years ago, and thought it was pretty weak. This version, was far superior to that one and what I just experienced is one of the best traditional fantasy motion pictures that I’ve seen in quite some time.

Dev Patel plays Sir Gawain and I thought he was fantastic. He’s also one hell of a strikingly good looking man. With that, he has the sort of regal and manly visage that made him look like he belonged at the table with King Arthur. In the story, he even gets to wield Excalibur for his first confrontation with the mythic Green Knight.

Patel truly carries this film on his back. Granted, he is backed up by a pretty talented cast. I especially liked Sean Harris as Arthur.

The film is very melodic and dreamlike. I wouldn’t say that it moves slow, it just enchants you, puts you in a strange trance and then pulls you along on this adventure. It works well and I liked the somewhat relaxed pacing, as you kind of need to marinate in the different sequences and take in the dialogue, the emotion and also the visually captivating cinematography.

The Green Knight feels otherworldly but it also feels familiar. As for Arthurian legends, it feels truly authentic and frankly, it’s one of the best King Arthur-related movies that I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 9/10

TV Review: Chucky (2021- )

Original Run: October 12th, 2021 – current
Created by: Don Mancini
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Zackary Arthur, Björgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Lexa Doig, Devon Sawa, Barbara Alyn Woods, Michael Therriault

Pheidippides, David Kirschner Productions, Eat the Cat, Universal, Syfy, USA Network, 8 Episodes (so far), 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve been a fan of every Child’s Play/Chucky film that’s ever come out and featured the Brad Dourif version of the character. All the stuff that Don Mancini has done with his franchise has been solid and entertaining. I’ve loved seeing this evolve over almost thirty-five years now.

So I was a lot more enthused about this than I was the Child’s Play remake from a few years ago, despite my love of Aubrey Plaza. But like I said in that review, the doll and the concept were different enough that they shouldn’t have made it a Chucky movie, it should’ve been its own thing. And had it been, they could’ve done a killer doll crossover at some point. Hollywood is out of ideas, though. But at least someone in that town greenlit this series, regardless of the remake and how it sort of came and went then fizzled out. Are they even doing a sequel to that one? I have no idea.

Anyway, this television series picks up after the events of Cult of Chucky. With that, we revisit the interesting concepts and developments that film introduced. Making this a television series, instead of another 90 minute movie, was the best thing they could’ve done, as it gives the story enough time to explore its new creative avenues.

Just about all the characters from the past come back, as well, as that was something that Mancini started two movies ago.

The main characters in this series, however, are a group of middle school aged kids. They have their middle school aged problems and Chucky capitalizes on that in an effort to coach a kid into killing. The reason being, is that this will allow Chucky to use a new sort of voodoo magic that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil too much of the show.

Ultimately, this is really fucking entertaining in the way that you’d expect but it also exceeded my expectations and subverted some, as well.

Obviously, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit but if you’re able to, this is just a fun, ridiculous show with a beloved psycho.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: Private Lessons (1981)

Also known as: Philly (working title)
Release Date: May, 1981 (Japan)
Directed by: Alan Myerson
Written by: Dan Greenburg
Based on: Philly by Dan Greenburg
Music by: Willie Nile, various
Cast: Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman, Eric Brown, Ed Begley Jr.

Barry & Enright Productions, Jensen Farley Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

“Who the hell takes baths with other people, except for the Japanese, I mean. Have you heard of any?” – Sherman, “No. Nobody except the Japanese.” – Philly

Since I recently watched and reviewed Private Resort, I figured that I’d review the last film of the Private trilogy that I hadn’t covered yet. This is actually the first of the three movies, though. Also, they’re just a loose trilogy, as none of the films actually connect with one another.

This is the one I’ve seen the least and I haven’t seen it since the mid-’90s or so, when I was working at a video store and used to take home a dozen movies per week.

Private Lessons is a film that couldn’t be made today, as it actually features pedophilia. A fifteen year-old boy is crushing hard on his new housekeeper. The boy’s driver and the housekeeper devise some confusing plot for the woman to seduce the boy. Whatever, it seems so farfetched, even for being based on a book from the ’60s. But I guess they needed to have a reason to have some twentysomething foreign chick fuck a fifteen year-old, awkward kid. I’d assume that the story was inspired by The Graduate and the author just decided to do something even more extreme.

As a teen, I didn’t think the plot was that big of a deal. As an adult, I’m kind of shocked that this got to theaters but it was a very different world in 1981. While teens having sex in movies wasn’t new and sex comedies were a huge money maker in that era, seeing a minor have sex with an adult was usually just implied or the “teen” actually looked like he was twenty and not twelve.

That being said, it is what it is and it’s a product of its time. I’m fine with the film’s existence because it’s not like they were really fucking and this was made to pack teen boys into theaters, which it did fairly effectively. In fact, it made back nearly ten times its budget.

In the end, it’s not a good movie and it’s a bit of a chore to get through. But it’s also not the worst of the teen sex comedy trend… not by a longshot.

Rating: 5/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the White Witch’ by Martin Caidin

Martin Caidin’s previous Indiana Jones book wasn’t very good and I said as much in my review of it. This one is at least a bit better but it’s still much weaker than the earliest books in the series.

This one deals with Indy teaming up with a female archeologist (nothing new there) and a Wiccan priestess. They’re hunting treasure (no surprise there) and this ties back to some of the Merlin stuff from earlier books.

In this, Merlin’s sword is one of the MacGuffins. But hey, unlike the last book, at least there are MacGuffins and Indy isn’t pretending to be James Bond fighting a cheap knockoff of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

The real problem with this, though, is that it’s dreadfully boring for the most part. These books don’t need to be over 300 pages. Frankly, they should be 150-200 page pulp novels. The reason being, the story is full of unnecessary bloat, as if the author is too in love with his own work.

I’m glad that Caidin only wrote two of these books and that this one is the last of them. He doesn’t understand the Indiana Jones franchise, the character and how the plots of these stories should be structured.

I read these books because I love the character and the movie formula so much. This offers nothing in that regard.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: Ocean Waves (1993)

Also known as: Umi ga kikoeru (original Japanese title)
Release Date: May 5th, 1993 (Japan – television)
Directed by: Tomomi Mochizuki
Written by: Kaori Nakamura
Music by: Shigeru Nagata
Cast: Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Sakamoto

Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, Studio Ghibli, 76 Minutes

Review:

This Studio Ghibli film reminded me a lot of Only Yesterday, which I stated in that review, was my least favorite Ghibli movie I had seen up to that point. I did like this one a hair bit better but it was also shorter and a bit better paced because of that.

This is a coming of age story about two male friends and how, as they get older, they find themselves in a love triangle.

Overall, it’s not really my cup of tea and even though I’m generally okay with slice of life stuff, this one doesn’t connect as well as Ghibli’s other pictures on an emotional level.

This is sort of dry but that doesn’t mean it’s bad and I can see the reasons why a lot of people actually like this one.

The characters are likable and their lives are fleshed out well, developing them into real characters with some depth.

I thought that the animation was good but it’s also less stylized than typical Ghibli pictures. That could also be because this was originally developed for television.

Overall, this was decent but it’s far from the Studio Ghibli movies that I hold in really high regard. Also, unlike those, I don’t know if I’d ever want to watch this one again.

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Era (2014-2017)

Original Run: August 23rd, 2014 – December 25th, 2017
Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Murray Gold
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Alex Kingston, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Maisie Williams

BBC, 40 Episodes, 45-90 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When Peter Capaldi was originally announced as the new Doctor on a television special, I was really optimistic and pretty damned pleased with the casting.

However, despite him being great and also being a pretty perfect Doctor, his material severely lacked when compared to what Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston had to work with, before him.

Initially, I liked Clara a lot. However, she got terribly annoying by the end of her run as the Doctor’s companion. She started being a know-it-all and bossing the Doctor around, teaching him lessons. It got ridiculous and frankly, killed the show and everything that was once great about it. When she left after staying incredibly too long, I thought we’d get a cool, new companion.

In came Bill, a lesbian that you knew was a lesbian from the get go, that had to play up the lesbian thing so much, it’s all you really knew about her one note character. I thought that the actress, Pearl Mackie was okay, she was just given shit for material. I don’t care that she’s a lesbian and really, most people don’t. But when that is all your character is, you’re a shitty, basic character.

In the end, Bill actually got a compelling story but by then, it was too little, too late and she was gone.

There were also only a few really good episodes in this stretch. Most of them were either awful, boring or both. Usually, it was both.

You could tell that the budget was either cut or that the showrunners just didn’t want to put in much effort anymore, as many episodes were just characters trapped on a ship, or in a base or in some other basic facility with lots of hallways and control rooms of some sort.

There were some decent concepts and characters that popped in. I liked how the epic, long-running River Song story wrapped up. I also liked everything associated with Maisie Williams’ recurring character. However, these high spots were too far and few between and most of Capaldi’s run felt like monotonous filler.

However, things would only get exponentially worse once he left and we got the next Doctor.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ runs.