While video game movies are usually garbage, this Uncarted fan film starring Nathan Fillion and directed by Allan Ungar is pretty amazing. I know that a different official movie is in the works, but honestly, this is the movie I want to see them complete.
My wife has been waiting impatiently for season two of The Handmaid’s Tale since season one ended. Season one was gripping and profound in ways few shows are. Especially when it daftly draws parallels to our past and our always possible future. Warning, this review contains a few minor spoilers for season one and the beginning of season two.
Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale starts off right where season one (and the book it is based on) left off: with Offred/June in a truck on her way to freedom. The writers had to figure out a way around this however, so they waste a few episodes writing out of that hole. Which is to say, season two starts slowly, and not entirely coherently, but once it finds its feet in the second third, it is as gripping as ever. New horrors await June and her fellow Handmaids at every turn.
Which besides the slow start is another criticism I have about season two, it really, really wants us to know how bad Gilead is. I mean trust us Hulu, we get it. It is terrible there, like super bad. Though it makes this season’s payoffs even sweeter when they come. Even if I am still baffled by the ending of the season, the build up was fantastic.
Elisabeth Moss continues to be a tour de force as June, who does such a great job it glosses over any of the faults this show has, and Alexis Bledel is fantastic as well. Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of a desperate man trying to keep all the power he has, and barely holding it together, is immensely watchable.
In the end is season two perfect? No, but it is very good. Had they cut out a few of the opening episodes and tweaked a few things, it probably could have been. The Handmaid’s Tale is Hulu’s only truly must watch show, and it lived up to that in season two. If you have been holding off so you can binge the whole thing during a free trial, you are in for a treat.
Thanks to Nintendo re-releasing the NES Classic mini-console, the Shmees were able to get our hands on one, and we have been having a lot of fun with it. The thirty games on the console contain most of the classics you would want, and the emulation does a great job of upscaling the games for modern TVs, so everything looks the way you remember. Instead of some stretched out blurred nightmare. The menu is simple, and now you can save any game on the console, which is nice.
However, not everything is perfect. The cord for the controller that comes with the NES Classic is waaaay too short, so you will have to get an extension or invest in a wireless controller. Plus it only comes with one of them, but the biggest issue is that there is no way to add games to the system. If you were hoping to play Ninja Turtles or Metal Gear, you are out of luck, unless you hack the little box. The included games are the only thirty games the NES Classic will ever play.
It is baffling in the era of the internet that there isn’t a game store for this machine. Sure, Nintendo is already making a ton of money off of the NES Classic, but think how much more it could make selling branded SD cards for storage and extra games for $10 a pop. They would be rolling in dough. This is even truer for the SNES Classic that only has twenty-one games, and none of them is Chrono Trigger (NOT EVEN ONE!).
For $60 the NES Classic is a good deal, and a ton of fun to play with. Even if the nostalgia for some of the games does tend to wear off. It is just a shame they couldn’t make a controller cable more than four feet long, and have a way for us to add more games to complete our NES era collection.
I have been watching a lot of anime lately, and I just finished two series, so I thought I would let you know how I felt about them. First up is Darling in the FRANXX.
I started Darling in the FRANXX because there was a lot of excitement online about this show, but after the first episode I was confused. It seemed like the standard girl in a skin tight outfit with a crush on a whiny dude who pilots a giant robot mecha-anime. To make matters worse the guys have to get behind the girls in a very compromising position to pilot these mechs, but it was well drawn, and the action was cool, so I stuck with it.
It turns out the looks can be deceiving. While Darling could have very easily turned in to just another cheesecake affair, it morphed in to something deeper. The ‘children’ driving these mechs had real feelings, and the bonds they were creating were fascinating. The mystery of the world around them was intriguing. By the end of its twenty-four episode run I was tearing up on a regular basis. Sure hearing “Darling” and “Zero-Two” over and over got a little annoying, but I will forgive it just this once. I am not sure how they could create another season, but I would watch it if they figure out a way. You can watch all of Darling in the FRANXX on Crunchyroll or Hulu now.
Now for Children of the Whales!
Children of the Whales was another anime that took me by surprise. At first it is a bunch of happy kids on an idyllic island, but then everything goes sideways and there is blood everywhere. The fact it is TV-MA should have tipped me off. While I didn’t like it as much as Darling in the FRANXX, it is still a well done show.
The gist is that there are a bunch of kids on an island, the ‘Mud Whale’, on a sand sea that floats around all over the place. There are two types of people on the island, the ‘Marked’ who can move stuff with magic, and they die around 30. While the ‘Unmarked’ get to live long lives, but they don’t get the cool powers. They believe they are all alone until they come across a new island with a lone girl who also has magic powers. That is of course when all sorts of bad things start to happen.
Netflix only has half of the twenty-four episode arc as of now, but I am dying to find out what happens to the “Mud Whale’ and her passengers. If you can handle a few crazy people and a lot of blood, Children of the Whales is the type of anime that reminds you that Japan can do more than just fanservice-y nonsense. It can also create weird and interesting mysteries to solve.
After the success of 2015’s Ant-Man there was never a question that there would be a sequel, and here it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp. After Avengers: Infinity War and even Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a much smaller movie, with way smaller stakes. Which is a nice change of pace. It is a fun little comedy in the middle of the rest of the MCU’s epic goings on.
It has been two years since Captain America: Civil War, but before Infinity War, and for his part in that little skirmish Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest. Unfortunately he didn’t tell Hope van Dyne-Pym (Evangeline Lilly) or Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) about his little trip to Germany, and since it gets them in trouble with the law as well, they are not supper happy with him, but when Scott has a dream about Hope’s mom Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) they will all be forced back together to try and save her from the Quantum-Zone (don’t ask me why Marvel hyphenated it).
Like I said in the opening, the stakes are very small. At worst a woman that everyone thought was dead, would stay probably dead. Not a great outcome sure, but compared to worlds ending or countries being taken over, it doesn’t rank very high on an average superhero’s emergency list. The plot also uses a lot of coincidences to drive itself forward. Now is the time a black market tech salesmen comes after Hank and Hope, and now is also the time that Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and her issues emerge. Not to mention none of this can wait three days for Scott’s sentence to be over? Sure. Thankfully the ride is enjoyable enough to gloss over all that stuff.
The cast is excellent. We all knew Rudd was good from the last movie, but this time Lilly gets a little more time to shine, which is nice, and I am always on board for more Michelle Pfeiffer, but I think she was too young looking for the age they wanted her to be, so they did some pretty distractingly bad aging makeup. She is Michelle Pfeiffer don’t mess with that!
After Infinity War it was nice to watch something more scaled back. To watch a little story in the MCU before things get crazy again, and if the after credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp is anything to go by, things are going to get nuts. If you have liked the average Marvel superhero movie, you will like Ant-Man and the Wasp. If not, this wasn’t a game changer. Just a fun little mid-summer popcorn flick to pass the time until the MCU comes unglued next year.