Archive for January, 2019

2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Movies/TV

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 31, 2019 by Paxton

Movie Report

Okay, so I got my main year end lists, Favorite Movies of 2018 and Best Books I Read in 2018 out there.  My personal favorites have been laid bare for the Internet.  But there were some other movies I saw that I do want to give a mention.  I usually do that in an “Honorable Mention” section at the bottom of the aforementioned lists, but I decided to break it out this year.  And I didn’t really even discuss TV shows in that list, so there’s some stuff to talk about.

Below are some Honorable Mentions in movies/TV shows that I watched for the first time in 2018. These aren’t going to be necessarily the “next best selections” from my lists. These are just entries I want to talk about. Good or bad.

Let’s do a few movies first, then I’ll do some TV shows.


Justice League – I feel like I should address this since I saw it last year. It wasn’t bad. At the time I watched it, I liked it better than every other DC movie except Wonder Woman. Now, it’s third behind Aquaman.  There are things I didn’t love about it, of course. The inclusion of Cyborg is still baffling to me. Steppenwolf as the big blobby CGI villain kind of sucks. But there are many things I really like. Cavill is pretty much fixed as Superman here. Let me be more specific, I think Cavill is GREAT as Superman/Clark, but the writing of Superman has been out of whack.  THAT is what is fixed here.  I also love Supes’ return to the living and his initial fighting against the JL.  I love Wonder Woman.  I thought I’d love Batman more in this, but he was only okay.  I fully expected to hate Ezra Miller’s Flash, but I didn’t. I actually enjoyed it.  Aquaman is great in his debut here (as it’ll carry over to his own movie).  So there’s more to like than dislike for me.  I was surprised by that, especially judging by the online reaction to the movie.


The Polka King – This one is one I want to talk about, but it’s not for everyone.  I’ve really been enjoying Jack Black the last few years.  I’ve *always* found him funny but he’s really picking interesting projects during this latter part of his career. This, Goosebumps, the Jumanji sequel, and The House with a Clock in its Walls, are all things I’ve thoroughly enjoyed him in.  Polka King is different and a bit weird, like I said, not for everyone. But I really enjoyed it.  Black is flanked by a pretty great cast as well with Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman.  If you are so inclined, give this a watch, I think you may like it.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions – On Twitter last year I called out that I had never watched the LOTR Extended Editions.  Honestly, I never really had a desire to watch them.  Then I finally caved and borrowed the extended edition trilogy DVDs from a friend and made the commitment to watch all three extended edition movies.  It took me a month, but I finally got through all three extended editions.  You know what, I actually enjoyed it.  Backing up, my thoughts on the theatrical movies are; love the first one, hate the second one, like the third one.  After the extended editions, I love the first one even more, actually better appreciate the second movie, and still like the third one pretty much the same.  I don’t plan on ever watching the extended editions again, I’ll keep my theatricals because Jackson has gone on record saying *those* are his official versions, but this exercise has made me appreciate the movies as a whole even more.  So I’m glad for that.  And I’m actually looking forward to a rewatch of the theatrical editions soon.


The Hurricane Heist – This entry and the next entry are sort of linked. Last summer I was really wanting to get in a theatrical viewing of GeoStorm because of all the bad buzz it was getting. I couldn’t make that happen but then this movie dropped on Redbox and I thought it had a promising story and could be sort of “fun bad”. Plus it starred Toby Kebbel who I actually like as an actor even though he’s been in some very maligned stuff like the Ben Hur remake and that 2015 Fantastic Four movie.  I was wrong.  This movie is garbage and none of you should waste your time on it.  That is all.


Geostorm – Fast forward a few weeks.  I go to Tallahassee to visit CT for a nerd weekend.  Geostorm just dropped on Redbox so I pick it up and we watch it.  And it’s actually pretty fun.  I don’t know why everyone was blasting this as the worst movie of the year when I literally *just* watched the worst movie of the year and its name was Hurricane Heist.  This movie is ridiculous, Gerard Butler is 100% Gerard Butler-ing it up, but it’s all just so entertaining.  Unlike the previous movie.  And the effects look GREAT.  Maybe that’s the difference, this one had the budget so ultimately it works, but I feel like there’s a perfect storm of things that made me enjoy this.  A perfect Geostorm of things, if you will (and I will).  Is it a *good* movie by any definition?  No, but it’s an endlessly entertaining movie.  Especially if you watch it with a fellow nerd, like I did.

Now, here are a few TV shows I watched last year that I want to mention.


Santa Clarita Diet Season 2 – Steph and I watched the first season of this show back in 2017.  Loved it.  Season 2 dropped in 2018 and we watched it and loved it just as much.  It really gets bonkers in the second season.  The quick premise is that Drew Barrymore is mysteriously turned into a zombie-like creature that only wants to eat people. Not just brains, but all people parts. I’ve said many times that I don’t like zombie stuff, and this is *kind of* a zombie thing, but it does its own thing.  But it sort of makes zombies and their origins into something different, maybe something closer to what zombies used to be in 30s-40s movies like White Zombie.  Drew and Timothy are hilarious in this.  Their daughter played by Liv Hewson and the kid next door played by Skylar Gisondo are also hilarious. They also open up the mythology of this series’ zombies just a little in this season. This is a great show and I really hope they keep it going. Like the show I’ll talk about next, the show runners here end each season on cliff hangers, so if it gets canceled, we are SOL.

Travelers
Travelers Seasons 2 & 3
– Steph and I watched both Season 2 and Season 3 of this show last year. Season 2 in January and Season 3 in December. This is a pretty great little sci-fi show that, like I mentioned above, actually ends its seasons with pretty hardcore cliff hangers. So, hopefully for us, they get renewed and the story can be resolved.  The premise: an oppressed, post-apocalyptic civilization in the future develops a way to send people’s consciousness back into the past.   Unfortunately the process completely erases the consciousness of the “host”.  So they only send people back into persons that historically are about to die.  And these agents that are sent back are following orders to make small changes to the timeline in order to bring about big changes in the future.  But real life in the 20th century constantly gets in the way for all the agents.  It’s a great show that seemingly could’ve ended in Season 3, but could also be a huge reboot for Season 4.  I’m not sure which it is yet.

Black Mirror
Black Mirror Season 4
– This is a great show and I’ve loved every season. Season 4 was a doozy.  The opening episode, USS Callister, was horrifying and great.  As was Arkangel and its look at what’s the line for protecting your children and invading their privacy?  Hang the DJ was a highlight and the final episode, Black Museum was pretty epic on its own.  Such a great modern version of Twilight Zone.  I’m looking forward to trying out the movie, Bandersnatch, at some point, but I really want the show to return with a new season.

So those are my honorable mentions in Movies and TV.  Coming up next, I’ll do the same for books and comics.

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Year End Book Report: The Best Books/Comics I Read in 2018

Posted in books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2019 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Okay, I did my favorite movies of 2018 list. Time for my favorite books/comics of 2018 list.

I’m still keeping my reading log on Google Spreadsheets, however, I sort of re-upped my investment in Good Reads and updated my last two years of reading logs there. I want to test out that site’s functionality a bit more, possibly looking to keep my logs there permanently. You can check out my Good Reads shelves here.

According to Good Reads’ reading stats, I read 85 books/comics last year.  And here are the breakdowns of my starred reviews.

The stats also say I read 18,158 pages last year.  kind of strange to see that giant number written down as the number of pages I’ve read.  Yikes.

So, the same rules apply here as on my movie list.  Only new reads in 2018 count. No re-reads, which I did a few last year. It’s been hit or miss the last few years on getting 5 of both comics and books. However, I was able to get 5 books and 5 comics for this list. Let’s see what they are.

Books

Making of Star Wars
The Making of Star Wars – JW Rinzler
– I didn’t read this one straight through.  If you look at my read dates for this they go from Jun-Dec.  It took me several months because, first, the book is f’n HUGE.  And second, because I would read it in between other books a section at a time.  It’s a big, weighty tome but there’s a metric ton of information, charts, pictures, scripts, artwork.  You name it, it’s in there.  Rinzler combs through the Lucasfilm archives and gives us a micro drilldown on the making of the first movie in the trilogy. So much information and so much to process that I personally couldn’t have read it straight through.  But I’m glad I finished it.  I’m looking forward to Rinzler’s other two books in this series (Empire and Jedi).

Dark Matter
Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
– I got this on a lark during a Kindle sale. The premise was intriguing.  Jason Desson is mugged one night and knocked unconscious.  He wakes up in a place he’s never seen before in a life he never lived.  His wife is not his wife, his son was never born, and he’s not a college professor but a celebrated genius scientist who has achieved something impossible.  Is it this new world or the old one that is the dream?  See?  Great premise.  And the book delivers.  I really enjoyed where this book went.  It’s dark, but a fun read.  It gets pretty bonkers at the end, too.  Very much enjoyed this book, so much so I bought a few more of Crouch’s novels after I read it.

Vicious
Vicious (Villains Book 1) – VE Schwab
– I’d had my eye on this book for a while. The sequel, Vengeful, just came out the end of last year.  During their senior year, two brilliant college students form a theory that under the right conditions, humans could develop extraordinary abilities.  But when their research goes from theoretical to experimental, things go horribly wrong.  I really liked this book.  It’s a much darker take on super heroes and sets up a really cool world.  Several twists happen that I somewhat saw coming, but it didn’t bother me because I was enjoying the ride.  Yes, I *will* read the sequel.

Rap Year Book
The Rap Year Book – Shea Serrano
– Again, sort of bought on impulse at an end of the year Kindle sale.  Features the most important song from every year in hip-hop from like 1979 to 2014.  It’s the author that’s making the determination of “most important”.  I’m glad I got it, because rather than just be a giant list of facts, it’s actually a covert telling of the history of rap through the veneer of the most important singles of each year.  Lots of dropped information and the author is very entertaining in his writing.  And as I suspected, once the book got to about 2003, I hadn’t heard of any of the songs.  I was literally scratching my head the rest of the book.

Billy the Kid an Autobiography
Billy the Kid: An Autobiography – Daniel Edwards
– I thought long and hard about putting this book in.  But the more I thought, the more I realized it needs to go here.  If you’re at all interested in Billy the Kid or even the Wild West like I am, then this is a *very* intriguing read.  I talked about it on episode 49 of Hellbent for Letterbox.  This book does two things, first, it gives you a thorough account of the whole Brushy Bill Roberts saga through the original interviews with him in the late 40s.  Second, it supplements and comments on Brushy Bill’s story with research, facts, photo comparisons and conjecture from a third party, the author, in modern day.  You could almost call it the Brushy Bill Roberts Interviews: The Annotated Edition.  Daniel Edwards really digs in and tries to get to the bottom of the whole Brushy Bill saga.  I’d never really delved into that story, I just assumed it was all a bunch of bull, but there is so much to Brushy Bill’s story that I didn’t know!  Really opened my eyes to a few things.

Time to move on to…

Comics


Jeff Lemire books (Old Man Logan, Hawkeye, Thanos, Green Arrow)
– I sort of went through a tear of Jeff Lemire comics last year.  And I can’t pick one so I’m just going to group them together like I’ve done for the Jason Aaron Thor comics.  I started with Lemire/Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan series which pulls Mark Millar’s creation into the Marvel Universe proper.  Loved it.  Still reading through the series.  Then I tackled the Thanos comic which is an excellent series devoted to the mad Titan.  It’s huge, it’s cosmic, it’s epic.  I was already a fan of the Matt Fraction Hawkeye solo comics, so I was intrigued to see how Lemire would continue that series in All-New Hawkeye.  And it’s pretty awesome.  I love the developing relationship between Clint and Kate Bishop.  Finally, I found out late last year that Lemire took over the New 52 Green Arrow comic.  So I read it and it was a lot of fun as well!  Check out all of these, and while I’ve been a Lemire fan for a while, this latest run of comics has made him a must read for me.


The Mighty Thor: The Death of Thor – Jason Aaron
– And speaking of Jason Aaron’s Thor comics, he makes it on the list *again* this year with the finale to his previous Thor run.  I’ve spoken at length on these year end blogs and a few times on several podcasts about my love of Jason Aaron’s Thor.  It’s great, I love it, and this finale to the Jane Foster Thor saga is epic and heartbreaking and great.

Jughead's Time Police
Jughead’s Time Police
– So, yes, I bought all six issues of this comic off the rack back in 1990. And yes, I do, in fact, still have every one of those issues.  That did not stop me from buying the full collection in digital format last year and reading the entire series.  I’m surprised how much I still really like it.  I almost didn’t add it to this list because I was labeling it a re-read, but honestly, I don’t think I’d ever actually finished the whole series. I think I’d only read that first issue. So the *whole* series was new to me. It’s hokey, and cheesy, but in a very sweet way and the entire premise is wacky and fun.  Elements of this comic’s characters and story line even get a few call outs in the new Jughead reboot by Chip Zdarsky.  And this comic was ground zero for the creation of my 50cent Bin Teen Titans on Nerd Lunch last year.

Weapon X Weapon X 2
Weapon X – Greg Pak
– I’m a huge fan of Greg Pak. His Planet Hulk is phenomenal and I love Totally Awesome Hulk.  So I was intrigued by this team book featuring Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, Sabretooth and Old Man Logan being hunted by deadly, shape shifting assassin robots sent by the reformed Weapon X program which is now looking to eradicate all former members of the program.  Lots of fun with this eclectic and volatile team.

Archie 1 Archie 2
That Archie comics reboot by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples
– I was curious about this because I love Mark Waid, and I’m a mild fan of *some* things Archie (see two entries up).  So I was morbidly curious how this “reboot” was going to be handled.  And it’s pretty great.  It’s much in the same vein as the CW Riverdale series, but this comic reboot came first in 2015, so I guess the 2017 Riverdale took it’s cues from the comic.  I really like how it sort of reinvents Riverdale.  All the characters are great, Betty is adorable, and Veronica is actually not that bad.  In volume 3, we meet Cheryl Blossom and, YIKES, she’s a force to be reckoned with.  Give it a shot, I think you’re gonna like it, unless, of course, you’re horrified they even tried to reboot Archie in any way.

So, those are my favorite books/comics I read in 2018.  There were a lot more I could’ve put on, and normally, right here, I’d put in some honorable mentions.  But I may actually split out the honorable mentions into their own article.  So look for that soon.  And you can see all my ratings/mini reviews for the last two years on my Good Reads account.  Check it out.  Friend me.  I need friends.

Hope you enjoyed this 2018 round up.  Can’t wait to see what this year brings.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2018

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 14, 2019 by Paxton

Movie Report

Here we go. Time for one of my patented year end round up reports. No one else is doing stuff like this guys. You can only find it here (that’s me refusing to look at other blogs in the month of January).

Anyway, let’s take a look at the movies I watched this year.  Like every year since 2009, I keep my movie watching log online at Google Spreadsheets.  I’ve also got an account at Letterboxd, I really need to start using it more, but I haven’t really dug in there yet like I’d really like.

The parameters of this list, only movies that were new to me in 2018 are eligible.  No rewatches.  How I structure the list changes from year to year.  This year I think I’ll list out my 5 favorite movies that were released during 2018 and then I’ll list out 5 movies released any year that I saw for the first time in 2018.  Sound good?  Tough.  It’s my list.  Here we go.

Five movies released in 2018


AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – This should not be a surprise. I’m all in on the MCU and this, being the first part of the culmination of 10 years of these movies, was destined to make it on this list. No further explanation needed.


Peppermint – Some of you may not remember this. It seemed like it was only out for like a week and a half in theaters.  This is a brutal, awesome action revenge movie.  I really enjoyed seeing Garner kick seven different kinds of asses throughout this movie.  Lots of well choreographed action and Garner is just great anyway.  If you haven’t seen this, what are you waiting for?


Mary Poppins Returns – The original Mary Poppins is in my top 2-3 Disney movies of all time. I love that movie. Needless to say, I was a little…reticent…to see this movie considering my history.  Even if I did think that Emily Blunt was a brilliant casting choice.  Well, I needn’t have worried, this movie is bright, fun, charming, sweet and funny.  I loved it and can’t wait to see it again.  I will gladly put this movie on my shelf right next to the original Mary Poppins.


Mission Impossible: FALLOUT – It’s amazing how this series keeps getting better and better.  My personal favorite was/is Ghost Protocol.  But this one, if it’s not at the top yet, could get there pretty soon.  My only problem is that Jeremy Renner’s character was absent without any explanation.  That aside, this is a pretty great sequel.  I just love this franchise and hope it can continue with the same quality it has since the third installment.


INCREDIBLES 2 – This movie was released, talked about, then it seems to have been just forgotten.  I know this past summer/fall was busy, but, this was a really great sequel that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I need to see it again, but I remember liking it as much as the original.  I can’t currently speak to that being true, but I had a lot of fun with the movie and I thought it followed up the first one admirably.

And now, movies from any year that I watched for the first time in 2018


I, Tonya – I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie.  Margot Robbie is a force of nature.  I love Margot Robbie in most anything I’ve seen her in and I think this is my favorite performance of hers to date.  And Allison Janney as her mother is *also* a force to be reckoned with.  And Sebastian Stan as her boyfriend is also great.  Just a great cast all around and so much fun to watch Robbie chew up the scenery as infamous skater bad girl, Tonya Harding.


Train To Busan – I don’t like zombie movies. I think I’ve made that clear on this blog.  There are a few exceptions; Return of the Living Dead, Zombieland…and now, this movie.  Clever premise, clever location, and lots and lots of characters we learn to love, fighting off zombies.  A plague unexpectedly strikes and a group of people on a train to Busan have to fight off zombies that want to kill them and also look out for anyone that is infected suddenly turning into a viscous zombie.  I can’t recommend this one enough.  Thank you Evan Hansen and the Mystery Movie Night podcast for having me watch it.


Den of Thieves – This was also a surprise.  I remember this in theaters, and I wanted to see it but just never got around to it.  When it hit Redbox I snapped it up and, BAM, this movie kicks all kinds of ass.  Dark, complicated crime drama.


Molly’s Game – This movie is great.  It has a great premise, and a great cast.  Chastain plays Molly, a former Olympic skier that gets injured and is forced into a change of profession.  She falls into the underground world of poker.  Jessica Chastain is great in whatever she’s in, but she’s particularly strong in this.  And even Michael Cera came with his A-Game.  Aaron Sorkin is usually a go for me.  Just all around, this is a strongly written and acted movie.


Coco – This is such a great movie.  Sweet, wildly inventive, and full of heart.  So many great characters and the running theme of family is just so sweet.  I love the design of the land of the dead.

Those are my favorite movies I watched for the first time last year.  Pretty strong group if you ask me.

Stay tuned, my favorite book/comic reads of 2018 is coming up next.