Shmee Swims With Aquaman!

Thanks to Amazon and Atom Tickets I was able to see Aquaman a week early, so I am able to get a review out before the movie opens for once.  Aquaman is the sixth movie from the DC Extended Universe, and its second best.  Which to be fair isn’t hard, but it is still a good movie.  It is strange to think in this era of superhero films that an ‘A’ list hero created in 1941 is just now getting his own movie, but thanks to the 70’s animated cartoon Super Friends we think of Aquaman like this:

And not like this:

Anyway, the new movie from James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and Warner Brothers seeks to change all that, and for the most part they do.

Aquaman takes place right after Justice League, but in no way do you need to know what happened in that film, just that it happened, and Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reflects on how he came to be.  He has also started being a hero full time.  That is until Princess Exposition  Mera (Amber Heard) shows up and tells Arthur that he needs to come to Atlantis and claim the throne from his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) before Orm can declare war on the surface world.

Aquaman has the pretty standard origin story flow.  He is a misfit kid dealing with some trauma (though not as bad as most superheroes), and he is a reluctant hero until he gains the confidence to fight.  Now that may not have sold you on this film, but what should, is that this thing is non-stop action and spectacle.  It is always showing you something cool or crazy.  I mean there are sharks with lasers fighting giant crabs, Black Manta has his big dumb helmet, and if that is not enough Julie Andrews plays a kraken.  None of this will win an Oscar, but it is all peek ocular cotton candy.

Sadly, it has a few things that bring it down.  This movie is over two hours long and at that it still has barely enough time to tell its story, so a lot of things feel rushed or at least very convenient.  I didn’t like Amber Heard at first.  She was stilted and wooden, but that is because she was given nothing but exposition to say for the first hour.  Once she was done with that she got much better and was clearly having as much fun as Jason.  Willem Dafoe also spouts exposition, but he is much better at it.  It is a gift it seems.

Aquaman revels in being a popcorn movie.  One covered in cheese with some candy on the side, and you can tell the actors were all having a lot of fun with it.  I mean there are dinosaurs in this movie and nobody says anything about it.  They just exist.  Why?  Because they are cool, and that is this movie’s MO.  If you are going in expecting more than that, you may be disappointed, but I had a great time.  It is strange to think that Aquaman is this year’s fourth best superhero movie, but it is still pretty good, and worth your time and money.

Shmee Swings Into The Spider-Verse!

I am not a huge Spider-Man fan.  I think it is because when I was a kid I was supposed to like him, so I disliked him out of spite, but he has grown on me over the years.  To the point now that I was eagerly awaiting this new animated Spider-Man film, and it seems fitting that only a month after Stan Lee’s death that his most famous creation would get its best movie.  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just a little better than the rest of the Spider-Man movies, it is Miles better.

At the beginning of Into the Spider-Verse, New York has gotten used to being saved by the blond-haired blue-eyed Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man (Chris Pine).  Things seem to be going his way.  He recently got married, and he has never failed the city on the big stuff.  Meanwhile Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is just an everyday kid.  Smarter than average, and has a good heart, but not extraordinary.  This changes when he is bit by very familiar spider.  When Peter and Miles meet during a mishap with King Pin (Liev Schreiber)’s particle accelerator their universe will change forever.

Everything is on point with this movie.  The writing is fantastic, the action is insane, it has a great cast, and it looks like a comic book come to life.  I am not sure why everyone thinks live action is the way to go with comic book adaptations because you can do so much more with animation.  I know some people will not like the sort of stop motion look they gave this film to kind of mimic the changing panels of a comic book, but it grows on you, and it gives the movie a unique feel.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gets to the heart of what it means to be Spider-Man.  Living through the everyday failures but choosing to get back up and continuing to do what is right anyway.  Obviously, those failures include loss.  Almost all superheroes have tragic beginnings, and Miles’ is no different, but the movie never feels cheap and it drives Miles forward in believable ways.  Also we get to hear how tragedy as motivated the other Spider-People as well, and those stories help to inform Miles’ path forward.

The vocal cast for Into the Spider-Vese was great.  I already mentioned Pine, Moore and Schreiber who are all great, particularly Moore who really captures Miles’ complex feelings and wide-eyed awe of what is happening, but add to those guys, Hailee Steinfeld, Nicolas Cage, Jake Johnson, and Lily Tomlin and you can’t ask for much more.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse might be the best superhero movie released this year, and yes, I am aware Black Panther, Infinity War and Aquaman (review tomorrow) all came out this year, but it is that good.  I am on board for these high quality animated Spider-Verse movies, and hope Stan got to see it before he died because he would have loved it.  It was an ode to everything he and Ditko created in 1962.

Shmee Listens To Sabrina’s Chilling Tales!

If you haven’t been following Archie Comics lately than you wouldn’t know that they have gotten an update to their grocery store checkout sensibilities, and their reemergence has been so successful it has launched a new TV show on the CW, Riverdale.  Riverdale has been a hit for the CW, so the CW went to Warner Bros. Television for another show to sit alongside it.  What they came up with was a little too dark for network TV, but before Warner could go back and retool it, in swooped Netflix, and Netflix was more than happy to have The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina get as dark as it wanted to get.

The setup for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is very similar to the 90’s sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) on her 16th birthday will have to leave her human life behind and become a full witch, she is only half witch on her father’s side, but like any teenager she doesn’t want to do what she is told.  This is where the changes start to appear.  You see the Dark Lord really wants her on his side for some reason, and he sends in his team to sway her to the dark by any means necessary.

The word ‘Chilling’ from the title is best descriptor for the show.  It isn’t outright scary, but it is darker and much gorier than anything the CW has ever put out.  So much so I am wondering if they punched it up once the show moved to Netflix.  However, most of the show’s storylines fit firmly in the teenage drama genre.  It is still a CW show at its core.  No amount of witchcraft can change that.

If you want a teenage drama with some gore and some spookiness, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is probably what you are looking for.  It has a good cast doing crazy things, and it feels like Riverdale’s cousin, so those are all positives.  Though all the talk about and interaction with the Dark Lord are big negatives for me.  I guess how you feel about the show will depend on if you are looking for a dark gory teenage show where a girl has to rebel against the Devil or not.

Blade And Feather Is Free Today! Through Monday…

Hey you know that book, Blade and Feather, I wrote a long time ago?  Well it is free today (8/16/2018) through Monday (8/20/2016), so if you have been wanting to read my super (not great) book, now is your chance to get the Kindle version without paying me or Amazon anything!  Right HERE.  It also may be your last chance because I am probably going to delist it soon.  Anyway, hope you have a great weekend!

Shmee Meets The American Gods!

The Starz TV show American Gods, based off the Neil Gaiman novel with the same name, asks the question, “What if people brought their gods with them when they immigrated to America? And what if those gods were fighting for scraps of favor from people who were rapidly forgetting them?”  The answer is, sexy, brutal, but most importantly, very strange.  The gods in question don’t behave in their own stories, so why would the act any different in this tale.

Much like the book, American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) as he tries to get a handle on the world Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) has dragged him in to, and what part he has to play in this war everyone is talking about.  If the story was just about Shadow and Wednesday it would be a little dry, so thankfully there is a diverse cast of crazy gods to spice things up.

If you were hoping that American Gods would be a straight adaptation of the book, you will be disappointed.  The series has taken several detours along its route, and while I am not a stickler keeping things the same between mediums, different forms of media require different forms of story telling after all.  In this case the changes are mostly not for the better.  Which is a shame since the source material has so much potential.  However, the parts they get right are really good.

Also bolstering American Gods is the great cast and Bryan Fuller’s incredible visual style.  There is always a good performance or insane set piece waiting in every episode.  Well, almost every episode.  There are a couple of filler episodes in the middle that kind of kill the momentum, but the first season starts and ends well.

Season one covers about a third of the book, and Starz has promised it is coming back.  However, the current producers, Green and Fuller, have been dropped and replaced by one of the show’s writers and Gaiman himself.  Which sounds like good news, but who knows how long it will take them to get things moving again.  Especially since Gaiman is currently producing the TV adaptation of Good Omens.  Regardless, American Gods showed a lot of potential in season one, and I hope it delivers on it in seasons two and three.  Whenever they come out.