Season Review: The Sandman

The Sandman is the latest graphic novel adaptation from Netflix and is based on the DC/Vertigo comic of the same name by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg. It stars Tom Sturridge as Morpheus, a.k.a. Dream of the Endless, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as his sister Death, Mason Alexander Park and Donna Preston as Desire and Despair. It also features Kyo Ra and Eddie Karanja as Rose and Jed Walker, Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall, Sandra James-Young as Unity Kincaid, Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Boyd Holbrook as the Corinthian, David Thewlis as John Dee, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne the Librarian, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Asim Chaudhry as Cain and Abel, Ferdinand Kingsley as Hob Gadling, Stephen Fry as Gilbert, Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven, Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead and Charles Dance as Sir Roderick Burgess.

Acting as an amalgamation of the first two volumes Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House; after being held captive by a cult for over a century, Morpheus of the Endless finds his domain The Dreaming in complete disarray with dreams and nightmares let loose on the human world. Now he must rebuild his world, reclaim his sacred treasures, bring back his lost subjects to his realm. But the journey is long and difficult as he must contend with the forces of Hell, the machinations of his siblings, the victims and abusers of his lost powers, a phenomenon that threatens the very barrier of the worlds and his own personal demons.

Ever since the graphic novel came out in the late 80’s there has been some attempt to adapt it for live-action. But the dark, moody, and introspective comic isn’t exactly something that transitions well to the big screen as seen in the failed attempt to make it into a traditional superhero movie back in 2013.

So how did Netflix do?

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New In Review: Prey

Prey is the latest movie of the Predator film series, like its predecessors it’s an action/survival horror film. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, it stars Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope, and Dane DiLiegro as the Predator.

Acting as a prequel of sorts, the film is about Naru (Midthunder), a young Comanche trying to prove herself as a hunter to the men of her tribe and especially to her elder brother Taabe

The Predator films have gone through a large case of ups and downs ever since the first Arnold Schwarzenegger movie premiered back in 1987. What ultimately made that movie such a classic was how seamlessly it shifted from a typical 80’s action piece to a sci-fi horror; establishing how badass Arnold and his crew are before throwing them against an unknowable horror that’s bigger, stronger, better equipped, and a better hunter than any of them. The cat-and-mouse game between the alien juggernaut and Arnie made it truly unique and in my opinion helped it endure the test of time. Unfortunately, the sequels that followed never seemed to quite get it; sometimes relying more on action, other times dumping so much exposition that it took out the air of mystery that helped create suspense in the original. And sometimes putting in so many nonsensical story decisions that it became impossible for the movie to be taken seriously, like in 2018’s The Predator.

So how did this one do?

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Season Review: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the latest miniseries for the Star Wars franchise for Disney+ and was written by Joby Harold and directed by Deborah Chow. It features the return of Ewan McGregor as the titular character, Hayden Christiansen and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, and Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse as Owen and Beru Lars. Newcomers include Vivian Lyra Blair as a young Princess Leia, Grant Feely as a young Luke Skywalker. Moses Ingram as Reva the Third Sister, Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitor, Sung Kang as the Fifth Brother, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Simone Kessel and Michael “Flea” Balzary.

Set ten years after Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan continues his life in exile on Tatooine; living a solitary life watching over a young Luke Skywalker and avoiding the watchful eye of the Empire. But when a kidnapping plot forces him off-world, Obi-Wan is forced to battle his own demons and trauma even while being placed in the crosshairs of the Inquisitorious and his former apprentice, Darth Vader.

Warning: the following will contain SPOILERS

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New In Review: Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers

Back in the late 80’s, animation writer and director Tad Stones pitched an animated series on The Rescuers to Disney. Since a sequel to the 70’s movie was already underway, the idea was reworked until it would feature Chip and Dale from the classic Disney shorts. Together with Monterey Jack (a boisterous, Australian mouse), Zipper (his plucky but mostly unintelligible fly sidekick) and Gadget Hackwrench (a sweet though kind of out-there inventor) the team solved mysteries and fought crime in the human world and the animal society that went beneath human notice. The success of the show alongside other shows like Talespin and Darkwing Duck helped create the Disney Afternoon programming, making another staple of the Animation Renaissance that went from the late 80’s to the early 2000’s.

This movie is nothing like that.

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New In Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the sequel to the 2020 live-action adaptation of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchise and was directed by Jeff Fowler. It features Ben Schwartz as Sonic, Idris Elba as Knuckles the Echidna, Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Lee Majdoub, Effina Luk, Melody Nosipho Niemann and Tom Butler round out the cast.

Picking up not long after the end of the first movie, Sonic the Hedgehog has settled in pretty well with his new family of Tom (Marsden) and Maddie (Sumpter) in Green Hills while occasionally moonlighting as a superhero. But when Robotnik returns from his off world exile thanks to a new antagonist Knuckles, Sonic will have to team up with Tails (seen at the end of the first movie) to defeat him and prevent the mad doctor from acquiring a mysterious relic that ties to both Sonic and Knuckles’ past.

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Review and Analysis: Gargoyles Legion

Previously on Gargoyles, Elisa’s brother found himself the victim of another Xanatos scheme as he and several homeless were forcibly mutated into half-cat, half-bat, half-electric eel hybrids. Derek, now calling himself Talon, swears revenge against Goliath and the gargoyles when he thinks they destroyed his only chance at being cured and Eliza swears revenge against Xanatos for what he’s done to Derek. And to no one’s surprise, Tim Curry turns out to be evil.

But enough focusing on a life Xanatos ruined. Instead let’s focus on a life Demona and Xanatos ruined.

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New In Review: Turning Red

Turning Red is the latest animated movie from Pixar, the story was created by Domee Shi (who also directed), Julia Cho and Sarah Streicher. It features the voices of Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Tristan Allerick Chen with Wai Ching Ho and James Hong.

Set in the early 2000’s, the story follows Meilin “Mei” Lee, a Chinese-Canadian dealing with her troop of friends and their shared interests, the pressure of keeping at the top of academics, the pressure of working at her family’s temple and meeting her mother’s approval and the fact that she’s now budding into her teenage years. A fact that’s complicated by the overbearing presence of her mother and that women of her family transform into giant, ferocious red pandas when stressed or excited.

An interesting idea since trying to look ferocious just makes them look even cuter.
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Season Review: The Cuphead Show!

Back in 2014, the first trailer for Cuphead appeared; pioneered by the brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, this run-and-gun styled video game was a love letter to the animation of the 1930’s. The plot was simple, two sentient cup brothers, Cuphead and Mugman are hustled by the Devil himself and the only way to save their souls is to travel across the Inkwell Isles and collect the contracts of other runaway debtors, thus pitting them against a wide bevy of bizarre bosses. Featuring some fantastic hand-drawn animation, toe-tappin’ jazz, wacky bosses and a surprising amount of challenge, Cuphead “Don’t Deal with the Devil” became a surprising success.

So it became an even bigger surprise that Netflix announced an animated series based on the game in 2019.

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Season Review: Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina

Once upon a time, a group of friends and colleagues in L. A.’s voiceover community was approached by the website Geek & Sundry to stream their games over video as a way to expand their entertainment bases and show what professional actors can do with role-playing games. Switching from Pathfinder to the then recent 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the show Critical Role was born. Led by Dungeon Master Matt Mercer, the cast consisted of Orion Acaba (who would unfortunately leave the campaign early on for personal reasons), Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Ashley Johnson, Sam Riegel and Taliesin Jaffe. The show followed the exploits of Vox Machina, a ragtag group of adventurers who fought for the protection of their home Tal’Dorei (and for plenty of money). Consisting of the half-elven twins Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan (Bailey and O’Brien), the lecherous bard gnome Scanlan Shorthalt (Riegel), the pious and compassionate gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot (Johnson), the strong but not-so bright goliath barbarian Grog Strongjaw (Willingham), the sweet but naïve druid Keyleth (Ray) and the troubled and mysterious inventor Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III or Percy for short (Jaffe). Their adventures saw them travel to faraway lands, battle the forces of evil (and their eternal enemies, doors) and transcend from a dysfunctional group of mercenaries into proper legends.

This show went over like gangbusters.

Something just clicked with the audience, maybe it was the niche audience of D&D and the niche fans of the voiceover community pooling together in common ground. Maybe it was because watchers could easily see themselves taking part in their adventures. And maybe it was simply because Matt Mercer created a fantastic world to play in and the cast brought all of their acting talents into their characters while still keeping the same chaotic but fun loving atmosphere that can only be found around the table. But for whatever the reason, the show’s popularity couldn’t be denied, quickly becoming one of the most consistently watched channels on Twitch. And now seven years later, and already into their third campaign, they’ve gotten tie-in novels, graphic novels, gamebooks, their own foundation and finally an animated series that surpassed all expectations when they were just trying to fund it.

Not bad for a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors who got together to play Dungeons & Dragons.

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New In Review: Peacemaker

Peacemaker is an action-comedy series and the spin-off of last year’s The Suicide Squad created by James Gunn, it features John Cena, Jennifer Holland and Steve Agee reprising their roles from the film. It also stars Danielle Brooks, Chukwudi Iwuji, Freddie Stroma, Annie Chang, Lochlyn Munro, Elizabeth Ludlow, Nhut Le, Christopher Heyerdahl with Dee Bradley Baker and Robert Patrick.

Warning: The following review will contain Spoilers for both the series and The Suicide Squad

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