May 31, 2020

Drake & Wayne Episode One “The Earth-7 Shuffle” Review: A Brilliant Start to an Ambitious Series

I’m going to start off this review by stating a simple fact: it’s totally biased. I created the initial universe that Drake & Wayne is based in, and three of the main characters originally appeared in my web series. I won’t mince words, and this is a full disclosure that I have been wicked excited to watch this series for over a year. But before you read my review, you should watch the episode! What’s stopping you? It’s embedded right there, above this paragraph! There’s nothing stopping you!

Now that you’ve (ahem) watched the episode, I can jump in. Drake & Wayne is nothing short of professional, in more ways than one. From the very beginning it’s clear that you’re in for a wild ride; the cinematography and visuals suck you right in, and tease just exactly what you’re in for.

Gore Crenis -- a major player in future episodes, to be sure...
The first of six Drake & Wayne episodes begins with Drake (Maximus Papsadore), a recent graduate from the Multiversal Police Academy, sent on a contraband bust on his first day in the field. He’s teamed up with detective Richard D. Johnson (Caleb Petty) and narcotics expert Triglav Hattrick (Jack Sullivan), but during the bust Drake recognizes his old MVPD roommate, Wayne (Patrick Morahan) who’s become a purveyor of rare interdimensional items (such as some mysterious toothpaste from Earth-20).

May 27, 2020

“Men in Black II” Review: The Very Picture of an Underrated Sequel

My family’s been marathoning the Men in Black movies in the past few days, and of all four, I felt as if the original sequel was worth reviewing purely for one glaring reason: it’s highly underrated.

With unfortunately negative critical reviews and embarrassingly low ratings on aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Men in Black II got stuck with the short end of the stick when it was given the momentous (and difficult) task of following up the hit 1997 sci-fi comedy Men in Black. The original stars and director returned, but I guess the sequel just had a hard time attempting to live up to its predecessor.

May 24, 2020

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season Two Review: At the Top of Their Game

Season 2 was the first time the Legends participated in the annual crossover.
I find it fascinating which sequels can pull off the “bigger and better” goal, and which ones fall flat while trying. Aliens, The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back are strong examples, with  Terminator: Genisys and Independence Day: Resurgence proving that sometimes it doesn’t always work.

Whether it’s different for television series is an interesting matter of discussion. TV has more time to flesh out its story and its characters, and there’s room for more buildup to the season’s big ideas and climax(es). However, the second season can be the most difficult, largely because once you’ve had a successful first season, it can be hard to maintain the momentum and you risk falling into a bit of a “sophomore slump.” Thank god this has never applied to Legends of Tomorrow, in any of its seasons so far. 

May 23, 2020

“Little Miss Sunshine” Review: The Judgement of a Smile

by Danial Cousins

Little Miss Sunshine is a film containing many heavy moments, and poor methods of coping. The film makes it clear to the audience that we are all judged in our daily lives, and we see this most clearly through the hopeful eyes of the young Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin). At the start of the film, Olive finds out that she has proceeded into the second round of a beauty contest named “the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant.” As the contest is in California, the entire family, including the uncle Frank Ginsburg (Steve Carrell), who is currently staying with the family (because he attempted to kill himself), must travel across states to California for the competition. This film deals with such difficult topics, and approaches to life in a skilled, and yet highly comedic manner that truly makes the story shine.

Dark and “inappropriate” humor is a constant throughout the story. The concept of death is dealt with by true vulnerability, however, comedy is used as a method to release tension and bring humanity to moments where it is otherwise lost. Each dark moment within the film is dealt with to its full extent. The comedy is not used to cheapen the moments of loss, pain, and frustration, rather as an afterthought the audience is able to laugh along with the characters through shared experiences and growth.

May 22, 2020

The Difficulty with Recasting Main Television Roles

Australian actress and model Ruby Rose was cast as the CW’s Batwoman in 2018, and since then has been featured in two of the annual crossovers and a full television season. However, a few days ago, the news broke that Rose would not be returning as the character of Kate Kane in the already-ordered second season of Batwoman, which is the first time the star of a CW series has left after only one season.

Maybe they could cast someone with naturally red hair.
Personally, I enjoyed the first season of Batwoman (I may review it in the near future), and Rose’s performance was one of its strongest points. This is why, admittedly, the news of her departure shocked me. I know this has happened before, but to me, it’s unprecedented. I’ve never watched a full season of a show, only to see its star replaced after one season (except for Doctor Who, but I’m not sure how much that counts).

Not to say that Rose was “replaced.” In fact, barely a day after her departure was announced, word got out of possible reasons why she left. Apparently, it was a “mutual” separation, with Rose being unhappy about the long hours of work that the lead role required. This unhappiness made her unpleasant to work with, so it seems that there was friction between the actress and the studio that led to the split. Rose also suffered at least one major injury while doing stunts, and although the internet has pointed out that that was not the reason for her departure, I have a feeling it may have contributed to it.

May 21, 2020

“DC’s Stargirl” (Episode One) Review: A Welcome Bit of Hope

Brec Bassinger’s enthusiasm is infectious.
“I wonder, how many coming-of-age clichés can one jam into a teen superhero series?” That must’ve been said by someone at least once at a Stargirl production meeting, because there’s no way it didn’t come up at least once.

Granted, Stargirl isn’t consumed by clichés, but the brand-new superhero series certainly doesn’t have a shortage. Single parent? Check. New stepparent? Check. A difficult relationship between the protagonist and their new stepparent that is eventually ameliorated over time as they bond over some sort of discovery? Check and check.

May 19, 2020

“What We Do in the Shadows” Season One Review: Vamps on the Town

In my viewing experience, television series adapted from films have had a high success rate. Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance honor their source material and are all thoroughly enjoyable on their own. However, they’re all adapted from relatively high-profile films and stories; what about the series based on smaller movies? Are they less enjoyable because their parent films aren’t as well-known?

The answer to that is a resounding “No!” One of my favorite shows to come out in recent years has been “What We Do in the Shadows,” a half-hour comedy that follows a group of vampires that live on Staten Island in the modern day. It’s based on a film of the same name, which was co-directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords). The film, set in New Zealand, is hilarious on its own, but the spin-off TV series is clearly having a lot of fun expanding the lore and building upon the world established by the film, being one where vampires live together in homes around the world.

May 14, 2020

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Season Seven Review: A Masterful End of an Era

Having not watched any network television until 2015, I was never a regular viewer of the Star Wars animated TV series. The Clone Wars has ended, Rebels never caught my full attention, and I never bothered to dedicate time to Resistance. But when Clone Wars was acquired by Netflix, I knew this was my chance to explore that area of the Star Wars universe.

I never had enough time to watch the full series, but I saw most of the episodes that mattered to the core story. That’s why, in 2018, when a full seventh season was set to premiere on the then-untitled Disney streaming service, I was filled with a rush of excitement. The only issue is, we had to wait until 2020 to finally see the concluding episodes.

And boy, was it worth the wait.

May 12, 2020

“Upload” Season One Review: Sitcom or Edgy Drama?

Once again, pop culture and streaming television have predicted the future, and while we’ve seen a lot of apocalyptic scenarios on screen, the future depicted in Amazon Prime’s new series Upload is one I wouldn’t mind living in.

As is the case with most future worlds, technology has essentially consumed society. Cars are nearly fully automated (with built-in artificial intelligence), virtual reality is widely used, and watches do everything your phone can (sound familiar?). But if you had the choice, would you “upload” your consciousness to a digital afterlife instead of dying?

May 7, 2020

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season One Review: A Highly Creative Superhero Mashup

Season One of Legends of Tomorrow gets a lot of hate, and I understand why. It’s tonally choppy, overloaded with characters, the villain is boring and cliché, and it has to make everything up as it goes along due to a lack of source material (one of the biggest differences from the other CW superhero series). But I’m willing to forgo those shortcomings, and in this review I’ll explain why.

Conceived as a spinoff of The Flash and Arrow (the prominent two Arrowverse series at the time), Legends of Tomorrow introduces Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a Time Master from the 22nd century. Hunter forms a team of B-list superheroes to take down Vandal Savage (frequent guest star Casper Crump), an immortal tyrant who eventually conquers the world and murders Hunter’s wife and son. He recruits them with the promise that, in the future, they will be remembered as not just heroes, but “legends.” That’s enough for (most of) them.

May 4, 2020

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” Review: An Exciting, Yet Nonsensical, Saga Conclusion

When the first reviews for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived, I was confused, but unsurprised, to find that they were largely negative. Allow me to explain.

The previous film in the franchise, The Last Jedi, was received very well by critics but utterly panned by the average audience. The Rise of Skywalker is the opposite — so far largely beloved by audiences, but disliked by critics. That’s where the confusion came from.