We get an alternate “what if” story of a superteam fighting in World War II.
Barry Allen/The Flash (Matt Bomer) is having a picnic with his fiancee Iris West (Ashleigh LaThrop) when he witnesses Superman (Darren Criss) being attacked by a supervillain. Barry attempts to stop a kryptonite bullet from hitting Superman and accidentally accelerates through time, winding up in the 1940s. There, he finds a team called the Justice Society, which Barry had never heard of, consisting of Black Canary, Hawkman, Hourman, Jay Garrick/The Flash, and Wonder Woman (Elysia Rotaru, Omid Abtahi, Matthew Mercer, Armen Taylor, Stana Katic). Together with soldier and government liaison Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), the team is in Europe trying to stop Adolf Hitler and the Nazis from acquiring magical items that could potentially help the Nazis win the war. Now Barry has to both help the team win the war and also find a way back to his own time.
This movie is pretty much built on the premise of “What if the Justice League fought Nazis?” It doesn’t really go much further than that, aside from trying to remind us that fighting the good fight together is the only way you can ever really win. However, if you wanted to see what it was like for a group of superpeople to go out and beat the hell out of one of the worst threats to ever face the world, then this film is for you. In order to avoid having too many massively overpowered people, the makeup of the Justice Society consists mostly of the heroes from that actual time period, including Wonder Woman. Fortunately, unlike in the actual Justice Society comics, Wonder Woman is allowed to do more than be the secretary for the group. Yes, that really happened. They also reduced Wonder Woman’s powerset considerably, since otherwise she would basically just run straight to Berlin and start decapitating the Nazi High Command without effort. Flash, who normally would be overpowered, is justifiably taken down a notch by having his access to the “speed force” reduced. The fact that Flash hasn’t heard of them means that it’s possible for members of the team to die, something that the film keeps stressing.
The biggest problem for this film is that it shifts the plot heavily about halfway through, because clearly they couldn’t think of a good enough threat for the heroes to fight within the Nazi army. This is kind of ridiculous when you consider how many supervillains from the 1940s were, in fact, just Nazis. There was literally a superman copy called “Captain Nazi,” and a number of “Barons” ranging from Blitzkrieg to Death to Luger. Despite that, the movie basically moves away from Nazis as the central antagonists in the last act and that’s just dumb.
The visuals in the movie are solid and the fight sequences are pretty good. The performances are great and the actual premise works for a movie. It’s just sad that the plot of the film ends up being almost completely inane. Also, one of the subplots is basically just a setup for a deus ex machina which, had it been the central plot, would probably have been more interesting than the film.
Overall, not the best film, despite a good start, but it’s still a decent watch.
Owen Tillerman (Leslie Odom, Jr.) is the manager of Central Park in New York City. He’s married to reporter Paige Hunter (Kathryn “Agatha All Along” Hahn) and the father of young kids Molly and Cole (Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess). The family lives inside of the Edendale Castle in the park and are watched over by the narrating busker Birdie (Josh Gad). Unfortunately, it turns out that local businesswoman Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci), along with her henchwoman/assistant Helen (Daveed Diggs), has decided to start scheming in order to purchase Central Park and turn it into a series of apartment buildings. The Tillermans not only have to deal with their own problems, but now they have to overcome Bitsy’s plans to destroy their lives. Fortunately, they have the power of song… and also a ton of cameos by famous singers.
I was told this show was mediocre and thus didn’t watch it (also, didn’t have Apple+ until recently). The person who told me that clearly had no joy in their soul. This show is everything I wanted and more. Aside from having an absolutely dynamite cast that has multiple Tony and Emmy award winners, the show’s music is absolutely amazing. It includes a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from the big band numbers of old Broadway to the hip-hop influenced music of Hamilton, and it does all of them well. It’s amazing to realize that there are 46 songs in a 10 episode half-hour show, but somehow they managed to pull it off. It helps that people like Cyndi Lauper, Alan Menken, Darren Criss, Aimee Mann, and even Fiona Apple contributed songs to the show.
The characters are pretty varied, although all of them are quirky, much like on Bob’s Burgers. While the Tillermans don’t quite stand out as much as the Belchers, they definitely have a lot of the same weirdness mixed with genuineness to make them eventually become just as lovable. The number of songs does sometimes hinder both the character development and the plot development, but the odds are good you’ll be too hooked on them to care. The guest characters are usually amazing, ranging from people like a tour guide of the deleted scenes of Home Alone 2 to a busker who competes with Birdie for narrating duties. It’s actually a great element that the narrator (who has omniscience over everything that’s happening) also interacts with the characters. It’s like something out of a Greek comedy.
Glamour listed 15 Mother’s Day Films. I disagreed with them.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone (in the U.S.). I was planning on watching and reviewing Mommy Dearest as a joke today, but then my Social Media feed, apparently listening to my brain, decided to feature someone sharing a list of films for Mother’s Day by Glamour Magazine. Here’s the link.
Unfortunately, after reading it, I determined that most of these movies are not great for the occasion. Even the films that are good might not give your mom the right impression as a celebration, so I felt that it would only be right for me to correct them.
Ah, Roman Holiday, the totally relatable story of a princess (Audrey Hepburn) getting too tired of being wealthy and beloved in the 1950s, so she sneaks out and is found, passed out on a bench, by Gregory Peck. Naturally, Peck is a reporter who spends the movie trying to pretend he doesn’t know who she is so that he can get a story about her without her knowledge. Taking an unconscious girl to your house and then lying to her constantly, truly the height of romance.
While I love this movie and a great fan of Youn Yuh-jung’s portrayal of the grandmother, the actual parents in this movie are constantly stressed. By about halfway through the film it’s clear that the mother, Monica (Han Ye-ri) is considering just leaving the family. At the end of the film ***spoilers*** she stays, but it might not be great to spend a movie sitting next to your mother hoping she doesn’t keep saying “leave those kids and live, girl.”
Freaky Friday (2003)
Yes, if there’s one thing that bonds a mother to her child, it’s when the child occupies the mother’s body and, presumably, has to bathe and use the bathroom repeatedly with said body. This movie is a comedy only by virtue of Jamie Lee Curtis being an absolutely amazing actress capable of distracting us from the horrifying implications.
This film’s entire premise is based around the old stereotype that all mothers-in-law are terrible shrews trying to keep their precious little boys safe from all the bad women out there. Not only is that outdated and inaccurate, if your mother had a monster-in-law, you grew up calling her grandma. This movie’s either lying to you or opening a can of worms you really don’t want opened.
Little Women (2019)
I can’t even think of a joke for this one. This movie is actually a pretty perfect Mother’s Day watch. The biggest downside is that you might find out your mom has a crush on Laura Dern, but, then again, who doesn’t?
A story of a couple that break up in the first few minutes of the movie after being miserable for years, then are brought back together by the romantic act of witnessing a murder for which they are framed. Such a traditional family movie. I particularly think you’ll enjoy watching the tribute scene to Eyes Wide Shut, another classic mom movie.
You’ve Got Mail
I actually love this movie and have watched it repeatedly with my mom, but I think it has not aged well. A man using an online persona to seduce a woman is probably the plot of most of the episodes of Catfish (never watched it) and it gets a lot more complicated when he uses that information to emotionally manipulate her. Oh, and he’s destroying her business the entire time. ROMANTIC!
Stranger Than Fiction
This is a good movie, but I don’t even see the connection to Mother’s day. I don’t think anyone in this story even has kids. I’m not saying that your mother hasn’t found out she’s a fictional character occupying the same world as her creator and that she’s slated to die violently, but if she is please contact me because we can make a lot of money.
The Devil Wears Prada
I know everyone loves the story of the scrappy young journalist who manages to become the assistant to a boss who is not just terrible, but absolutely horrifying. Who doesn’t want a reminder that employees are frequently treated as absolute garbage by all of their superiors? Oh, and bonus that, after enough time, the employee’s personality will align with their employer, a thing that’s a literal sign Stockholm Syndrome.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
This isn’t the version with zombies or Colin Firth, so why the hell bother?
If your mom pretended to be a man in order to join the army and ended up meeting your father there, you probably had an absolutely bonkers childhood and you should be set on stuff to talk about for the holiday. Also, the only part of this film that I remember involving a mother is when Mulan’s mom is disappointed at her for not doing well at the matchmaker.
I don’t know exactly what connected a film about a 40-something single woman being a spy with a holiday celebrating moms, but I suppose it does at least end with the image of Jason Statham having had amazing sex with Melissa McCarthy. Your mom would probably bang Jason Statham… or Melissa McCarthy if she’s not into men.
The Joy Luck Club
… Yeah, okay, this one’s perfect. Great stories about mothers and daughters.
This movie is about blowing all of your money at once because you believe that you’re going to die in less than two weeks. I’m not saying that your mom doesn’t want to do that, because she probably considered it many, many times, but you should probably stop reminding her that’s an option. Otherwise, she’s gonna be living on your couch.
I’m not crying, you’re crying. I’m just leaking out of my eyes. Dammit, this movie is great.
Okay, so, yes, I’m aware that the list was clearly just movies that people like watching with their moms, so if you have a film you like to watch with yours, give it a view today.
Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman give us a new take on a parent with dementia.
Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is a retired engineer that is suffering from dementia. His daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman) hires a nurse named Laura (Imogen Poots) to take care of him. Anthony has previously been angry at any attempts to get a nurse to take care of him. Anne’s new husband, Paul (Rufus Sewell), does not like how taking care of Anthony has started to eat away at Anne’s life. As Anthony’s mental health deteriorates, he faces a world that no longer makes sense. Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams also star.
When I saw the description of this movie, I assumed that this film would be told from the daughter’s perspective as a film about dealing with the mental degradation of a parent, something that is often very fertile ground for storytelling. Imagine my surprise to find out that the story is actually told from the perspective of the father, Anthony. As such, the movie makes little to no linear sense, due to Anthony being unable to remember the events that have happened recently or even farther in the past. It can be very confusing to the viewer, but that’s pretty much the point. You’re watching the world through the eyes of someone to whom everything has stopped working right.
This film would not work if it was just anyone performing Anthony, because accurately portraying someone going through Alzheimers or other, similar, mental degradation is tough. It’s so easy to devolve into stupor or even parody without meaning to. Here, Anthony is sympathetic even when he’s being mean or aggressive, because we know his aggression and condescension all come from the fact that he’s lost and scared. It’s all the more tragic because we know that he won’t get better. He won’t even be able to stay the same. Anthony Hopkins plays the character perfectly throughout, showing believable confusion and frustration when confronted with the fact that his world may change at any moment. Olivia Colman, likewise, has to play someone who is dealing with a parent who is no longer able to behave rationally. She loves Anthony and she wants to keep him around, but she also is burdened with the knowledge that he’s not the father who she knew.
Overall, it’s an excellent film with a great cast. It’s worth watching, even though it’s rough to watch (then again, so were many of the nominees this year).
The answer to: “What if you combined Batman and Enter the Dragon?”
Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos) is a super spy who trained previously with Bruce Wayne (David Giuntoli) in his youth under the powerful O-Sensei (James “Lo Pan” Hong). Richard discovers that the leader of the terrorist group Kobra, Jeffrey Burr (Josh Keaton), has acquired a mystical gate which previously belonged to O-Sensei. He recruits Bruce Wayne and their fellow students Lady Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) to help take down Burr and his chief assassin Schlagenfaust (Robin Atkin Downes) by breaking into his island fortress.
Considering that Bruce Lee actually appeared on the 1960s Batman show, I am blown away that no one has thought to combine a Bruce Lee-style Martial Arts movie with a Batman movie. I mean, a lot of Batman films have martial arts and fight scenes, but the style is completely different. It’s even crazier that it hasn’t happened when you realize that all of the characters featured in this film are recurring characters in the comics and even some other media. The biggest change is that Richard Dragon, who is usually white, is very blatantly redesigned to be Bruce Lee, but other than that most of the characters match their traditional designs. It does help that Bronze Tiger is played by Michael Jai White, whose “Black Dynamite” character is at least partially based on Jim Kelly.
The film actually contains a number of references to the film Enter the Dragon, including having a number of flashbacks to explain everyone’s motivations, making O-Sensei more closely resemble Bruce Lee’s mentor from the film, having Richard Dragon avoid a fight by tricking his opponent similar to how he does in the movie, and even having a pretty strong reference to the Bob Wall fight (down to the bottle). Granted, in order to make some of these moments work, Batman is shown to be a lot more tolerant of his compatriots committing murder than in most incarnations. Ultimately, though, the film’s plot has no real resemblance to anything I’ve seen before, which is for the best. It’s nice to have an original story.
Overall, if you are a fan of Batman, old-school martial arts films, or both, this is actually a pretty solid film for you. Check it out.
A story of a family coming to rural Arkansas in the 80s trying to chase a dream.
The Korean immigrant Yi family moves from California to a plot of land in Arkansas in order to let the patriarch, Jacob (Steven Yeun), fulfill his plans to get wealthy growing Korean vegetables. He’s assisted by an eccentric local man named Paul (Will Patton). Jacob’s wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), is not particularly enthusiastic, but the pair take jobs as chicken sexers (people who sort chickens by gender) to make ends meet. In order to have someone to look over their young children David and Anne (Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho), they bring Monica’s mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) from South Korea. She takes the children to plant some Minari (Japanese Parsley), but despite the extra help, Jacob and Monica’s marriage starts to pay the price for his actions.
This movie’s plot is not particularly original, to say the least. It’s a story you’ve seen a thousand times, a family moving for a new opportunity and having to adjust to the surroundings and the stress that it puts on them, but the plot is not the point of the film. The movie is an intimate picture of a family that is going through this time and with the added alienation that comes from being immigrants (particularly Korean immigrants with a number of Korean War veterans still being active in the area). The reason why this one stands out is because it’s so well-performed and well-written that you almost completely lose yourself in their lives. None of these people seem like caricatures or stock characters and almost all of the dialogue feels natural (albeit most of it is in Korean). What’s amazing is that so many of the characters are so outlandish, particularly Soon-ja and Paul, but if you’ve lived in a rural community you will absolutely have met these people at some point.
I suppose there’s always going to be a discussion about what constitutes “the American Dream,” but I think most people agree that it’s generally considered to be moving yourself upwards socioeconomically through your own hard work. This film is a fairly accurate picture of the reality of trying to do something like that. While Jacob has definitely found a niche market that he can take advantage of, it’s not as easy as he envisioned it and it requires sacrifice not only on his part but also on the part of his loved ones, a sacrifice that they did not want to make to begin with. It is also pretty interesting that, in order to pursue his dream of no longer being a chicken sexer, he has to… be a chicken sexer for less money while also farming. That’s why this part often gets skipped over in the success stories.
The actual minari in the story is probably the least subtle metaphor imaginable. Minari is strong, resilient, and prosperous, as long as you plant it in the right place. Fortunately, despite being the title, the film actually mercifully devotes very little time to it. This is an example of how well-crafted the movie is. Every element gets the attention it needs, but isn’t over saturated. It’s like farming: You need to water the crops and at the right time, but too much and everything dies.
Overall, this movie is beautiful, touching, and deserves all of the acclaim it gets. It’s not a movie with a huge agenda other than to tell a story that feels true (because it’s based on the writer’s childhood), but it definitely gets some points across.
This video is a lot more than giving the Devil a lap dance.
… It’s a music video. I’m not summarizing it. It’s right here:
So, if you’re like me, meaning you don’t listen to music much, you probably first heard of Lil Nas X when his song “Old Town Road” got big. I will go ahead and say that the song was a banger, which I’m told is a good thing, as it reminds people of British sausage. I don’t know if he created “country rap,” but he was at least one of the first people to use it to get mainstream success. I particularly liked the fact that he got Billy Ray Cyrus, a musician most famous for producing a much more talented daughter, to do the remix. I also admit that I loved that month on Facebook when the cowboy memes flowed like wine. Then there was the massive uproar when the song, which has apparently been fairly high on the top of the Billboard Country charts, was dropped for “not being country enough.” A song called “Old Town Road” about taking a horse and riding “‘til I can’t no more” which featured Billy Ray Cyrus somehow wasn’t COUNTRY enough. Moreover, it was pulled the week before it would have, by Billboard’s measures, been the number one song. The people making the decisions definitely emphasized that it had nothing to do with the fact that Lil Nas X is a gay black man and country is a genre that, historically, has been less than enthusiastic towards some of those adjectives. In any case, the song was great, the controversy less so.
Montero, on the other hand, has generated the best controversy since The Life of Brian, by which I mean it’s pissing off people that likely didn’t watch it and, if they did, watched it with such a prejudiced eye that they definitely didn’t try to give it any form of critical analysis. For example, condemning the Satanic imagery without recognizing that most of the video is about unfair condemnation and, moreover, that at the end of the video Lil Nas X actually kills the devil, a thing most of those groups should be in favor of. It’s almost as if the Satanic imagery is not the thing that they’re really angry about. But I’m sure nothing bad ever happened because people used Satanic imagery and the claims of its influence on children as a way to suppress things they didn’t like. Definitely not, for example, the single longest and most expensive trial in US history, the McMartin Preschool Trial, which ruined multiple lives despite resulting in no convictions and uncovering essentially no evidence.
But, I’m not really here to go over that as much as to sort through the absolutely brilliant imagery contained in the video. It starts in a valley which is dotted with architecture from a number of different societies, but mostly Greek and Roman. LNX is seen underneath a tree being approached by a snake which ends up turning into a snakeman with a third eye, who proceeds to lay on top of Nas in a sexual nature. Like all of the characters in the video aside from the Devil and one other figure, the snakeman is played by Lil Nas X. This figure, combined with a passage from Plato that’s on the tree that LNX is found under, appear to be references to two different, but intertwining mythologies. The first is the origin of man ascribed to Aristophanes by Plato, which depicts all people being born as two bodies stuck together (some man-man, some man-woman, some woman-woman) that were split, which is why people naturally seek out their “other half.” The other is that of Lilith, the first wife of Adam in Hebrew Mythology. Lilith was made at the same time as Adam and, in some versions, shared the same body as him before they were separated. Lilith was sent away from Adam for having sex on top of him, like the figure in the video. She is often depicted as half-snake and is occasionally depicted as the actual snake that tempted Eve (because Eve eating the apple put women above men, which is what Lilith wants). I believe that the dual reference is because it connects the Greek origin of humanity, which explicitly indicated homosexuality was natural, with the Christian one via Hebrew. The third eye in the snakeman’s head is either a reference to the Ajna Chakra in many Eastern religions or is because LNX likes YuYu Hakusho.
LNX is then sent to a coliseum where, like Christians supposedly were, he is stoned to death for heresy. He begins to ascend to heaven where he sees an angelic figure. I think this is another dual myth reference, as the figure is the only one that doesn’t directly appear to be played by LNX aside from Satan. In fact, you cannot see its gender definitely. I think that the figure, while evoking Angelic imagery, is also a reference to Nike, the Greek goddess who is usually depicted as winged and whose name depicts some shoes that LNX definitely knows about.
After LNX descends to hell while inverting (something that happens in Dante’s Inferno), he views a hell that is definitely inspired by the industrial hell presented by films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There’s even a large demon resembling Chernabog from Fantasia at the top of the central building, which was inspired by the demon furnace from Metropolis. Passing through the gates of Hell, which are made of people (a reference to both the Inferno and to Rodin’s sculpture of the Gates of Hell), LNX walks past the Latin words for “they condemn that which they don’t understand,” which is not subtle, before giving Satan a lapdance and snapping his neck. Multiple people suggested that the Devil presented here is Miltonian, but I disagree as Milton’s devil is depicted almost exclusively as winged and mostly humanoid, even beautiful. What IS Miltonian is that, after taking his horns, Lil Nas X sprouts wings and now, himself, resembles the figure from Paradise Lost. Perhaps it’s a statement that he would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, which some readers and scholars have interpreted as a statement that it’s better to live one’s own true self than to bend your truth to someone else’s image of “right.”
Overall, this is an amazing video. I enjoyed watching it like ten times to write this review. I actually don’t know if the song is that distinct, but this video is a masterpiece and LNX uses controversy perfectly.
Nicolas Cage apparently needed money and I am so glad for that.
A drifter (Nicolas Cage) runs over a spike strip in the middle of the road in a remote Nevada town. He’s picked up by a local mechanic named Jed (Chris Warner), who tells him that he will only fix the car if he is given a large amount of cash up front. No other payment will be accepted. Unable to pay the man, the drifter is given an offer by wealthy local Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz): spend the night shift as a janitor cleaning up the once successful but now abandoned children’s entertainment facility Willy’s Wonderland. It turns out that the animatronics inside the building are evil and will kill anyone inside at night. However, it turns out that this silent drifter may be the only one who is prepared to really clean up Willy’s Wonderland.
Unfortunately, earlier in the day, local girl Liv Hawthorne (Emily Tosta), attempted to burn the building down, but was stopped by her adopted mother Sheriff Eloise Lund (Beth Grant) and deputy Evan Olson (David Sheftell). Her friends, Chris, Kathy, Aaron, Bob, and Dan (Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Christian Del Grosso, Terayle Hill, and Jonathan Mercedes) free her and join her in her attempt to burn down the building. Damned kids will ruin everything if you let them.
I wish that I had been present at the pitch meeting for this film. I can only imagine it went something like “Hey, the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie isn’t out yet. What if we rip that off so hard that it will basically be plagiarism, but add in Nicolas Cage?” Then, after taking another large hit of blow, everyone in the room applauded wildly. And rightfully so, because, while this movie is a terrible adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s, putting Nicolas Cage onscreen against killer animatronics is just a brilliant idea.
I think if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you are aware of my opinion that Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. I wrote that before I realized how terrible of a pun that is, so I will leave it out of penance. In any case, Cage is one of the rare actors who has a tremendous amount of ability, but also a willingness to take absolutely terrible movies on which to squander it. Sometimes, these movies are terrible. Sometimes, these movies are awesome. This movie is somewhere in between, but it is through no fault of Nicolas Cage himself. Every scene in which he is on screen in this film is so much better than it has any right to be, that I can only attribute it to his unnatural screen presence. Even though the movie doesn’t do a particular great job in designing the animatronics, watching Nicolas Cage dispatch them, and brutally at that, is just so enjoyable that you will forgive any of the other flaws. There may be no shot in film I’ve enjoyed more than when an evil possessed ostrich animatronic suddenly realizes that he has absolutely f*cked with the wrong man.
Perhaps the biggest mistake in this film is that it isn’t just Cage versus the characters. Since Cage proves to be the kryptonite to these figures, mostly because he seems to follow some insane self-imposed rules about surviving the night (which are nonetheless apparently effective), there had to be other characters to get the body count up. Enter the teens, who, for the most part, do nothing except be stereotypes and die. While I realize that’s something that a horror movie needs, it’s still kind of a let-down in this film. It also hurts when they try to actually add some backstory to the animatronics. I know that the backstory is a big part of Five Nights at Freddy’s, but it’s all hidden throughout the games and, much like all of the information about the drifter, it would have been better to just leave everything in hints around the building.
Overall, though, if you want to see Nicolas Cage punch an animatronic ostrich to death, and you do, you should watch this. Maybe wait until it’s free, though.
The grandson of the world’s greatest thief returns to thwart some Nazis.
In the 1940s, French Professor Bresson was killed after discovering something that was sought by the Nazi think tank “Ahnenerbe.” His family was killed, aside from his granddaughter, Laetitia (Suzu Hirose/Laurie Hymes), who was adopted by the Nazi professor Lambert (Kōtarō Yoshida/David Brimmer). His famous research diary was lost for twenty years. Now, it’s the swinging 60s and the world’s most charming thief, Arsene Lupin III (Kanichi Kurita/Tony Oliver), is seeking to steal the Bresson Diary, which is the only treasure his grandfather failed to steal. Unfortunately, the Ahnenerbe group has survived the war and are seeking to beat Lupin to the punch. Along for the ride are Lupin’s associates: the sharpshooting Daisuke Jigen (Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Richard Epcar), the swordsman Goemon Ishikawa XIII (Daisuke Namikawa/Lex Lang), and the femme fatale Fujiko Mine (Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff). As usual, they’re pursued by Interpol Inspector Koichi Zenigata (Kōichi Yamadera/Doug Erholtz).
I’m a big fan of Arsene Lupin, as I pointed out when Netflix released their show Lupin last year, but I am also a fan of Lupin III. While Arsene Lupin was the ultimate gentleman thief, Lupin III is a crass womanizer who is nonetheless the greatest thief in the world by virtue of his unmatched intelligence, gadgetry, and physical prowess. The series, created by Monkey Punch (the best pseudonym that doesn’t involve porn) was marked by its visual style, sense of humor, and frequent leaning on the fourth wall.
Having run for over 50 years and through six TV series and more than a dozen films, this film is a prime example of why the formula can still work. While Lupin is a criminal mastermind with skills to rival Batman, he always adopts the appearance of a rakish goofball who, more often than not, has a greater sense of morality than the people from whom he steals. Jigen is the more dour but ever-loyal partner whose ability with a gun borders on superhuman. Goemon can cut a building in half as long as the building has offended his honor. Fujiko, who is the focus of Lupin’s romantic efforts, will always stab them in the back if it benefits her, but will usually do the right thing in the end. Zenigata will chase them to the ends of the Earth, unless he needs their help to stop someone worse. This film gives the group a common enemy that everyone can focus on, because the bad guys are literally Nazis.
The action and theft sequences are among the best in the series and the animation style not only matches the feel of the original but enhances some of the faster-paced scenes. The humor is classic Lupin, which is to say the right balance of irreverent jokes and brilliant slapstick. The soundtrack is an updated version of the original series. The plot is, surprisingly, actually pretty solid and contains a lot of decent twists and even the occasional sincere emotional moment.
Overall, just a great movie and now I want to take a month or three to rewatch the rest of the series.
Alan Tudyk brings us a new show about an alien trying to fit in.
Alien Captain Hah Re (Alan Tudyk) crash lands on Earth during a mission and ends up killing a Colorado doctor named Harry Vanderspeigle. When the doctor in the nearest town is murdered, the alien is forced to take his place, having taken on the doctor’s appearance. He is assisted by the doctor’s former aide, Asta (Sara Tomko), but quickly draws the suspicion of the town’s Sheriff, Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds), and the ire of Max (Judah Prehn), the son of the mayor, Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler), as Max has a genetic anomaly that allows him to see Harry for what he really is. Harry befriends the local bartender D’arcy (Alice Wetterlund) as well as Deputy Liv (Elizabeth Bowen) and Ben’s wife Kate (Meredith Garretson). While Harry mostly finds humans interesting and enjoys interacting with them, he also is trying to fix his ship and save his mission: Killing every human.
The show is significantly darker than I had expected. I mean, I suppose the concept of “alien has to pretend to be human, hilarity ensues” has been played to death, so this is a fun way to try and breathe some life back into that very specific genre. Harry frequently finds things to like and even love about humans, but he also is painfully aware that we are, in all likelihood, a blot on the universe. While this first season is only about halfway done, so far Harry appears to still be committed to the plan.
I’m not going to say the show would not work without Alan Tudyk, but a lot of the humor really only works because the man is so perfect with his delivery. He can make almost any line that he delivers sound funny, which is a thing that you desperately need in a show where the main character is supposed to be a genocidal figure and also humorous. Harry frequently contemplates or even does things that would shock most people, and would likely be too dark if the main character were supposed to be human. For example, he frequently attempts to either kill or otherwise remove Max in order to cover his identity. In most shows, the main character attempting child murder would probably be the end of the series. Here, it’s a fun running gag, and it’s almost entirely because Alan Tudyk makes it seem like harmless tomfoolery, despite being completely serious.
The rest of the cast is also pretty great. This series is supposed to take place in a relatively small mountain town in the middle of Winter, and you do get the feel that all of these people know each other and are deeply involved in each other’s lives, which makes Harry an outsider on two different levels. However, it also creates an environment in which Harry’s eccentricities are able to be overlooked and even accepted, because these people live in a situation where they have to get along with each other. Also, D’arcy is one of my favorite characters because she frequently mistreats people and then reveals that they’re actually the kind of friends where that’s acceptable.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised at how funny this show is, but more so about how the show has made itself feel unique even when using an old premise. Also, some one give a Alan Tudyk a lot of awards. He has earned them all.