Snake Eyes – It’s been a bit of a tough go for the IP of G.I. Joe, known by fans for decades as the greatest American heroes, as the film versions, besides the animated one in the eighties, have all kind of flopped on the world stage in live-action form. There were cool elements in them like Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Cobra Commander who never got fully realized and the inclusion of box office viagra The Rock as Roadblock in the sequel but nothing fully came together to make an awesome franchise. They’re now going back to the origins for this new film that focuses on the fan-favourite of Snake Eyes, a tenacious loner who is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent. After he arrives, the Arashikage teaches Snake Eyes the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for, a place to call home. Unfortunately, when secrets from his past are revealed, Snake Eyes’ honour and allegiance will be tested as he turns to fight against those who had taken him in. Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding takes the title role of this film that, let’s face it, will have him go silent and never reveal his face again by the conclusion of this film. Still, it’s great casting and Samara Weaving as Scarlett honestly has me more excited about this film than anything. I’m really hoping it turns out to be good.
Old – After the fizzling third act of his Unbreakable trilogy with the slightly underwhelming Glass, the trickster and twisty filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan returns with a film that looks like straight-up horror and the film looks so deeply disturbing and equally intriguing. Of course, this movie is all contingent on if Night can keep the story going but the cast is really solid with Gael Garcia Bernal, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee and more so I feel a hit here. The story is about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day. The tone of the trailer is absolutely delicious as a horror fan so I’m hoping that it comes through as a breakout hit as nobody needs that more at this point than Shyamalan as he has an army of haters looking to disparage his work at every turn.
Joe Bell – A lowkey Mark Wahlberg film makes its quiet debut this week and just reading up on the story, if handled correctly, this movie could earn a lot of acclaim and put director Reinaldo Marcus Green on the A-list track with his second well-received film in a row after Monsters And Men. This film is the true story of a small town, working-class father who embarks on a solo walk across the United States to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay. From what I’ve read, the relationship between Wahlberg and the youngster that plays his son, Reid Miller, was really important to the blockbuster star and he invited him to his house for breakfast just to tell him in person he booked the role of Jadin Bell. Stories like this are what makes these dramas so important and must-see in my opinion and it has been a few years since Wahlberg made a straightforward drama. I have good thoughts about this movie.
Jolt – I am a sucker for a slightly ridiculous premise, as I do have a deep love for Neveldine/Taylor’s Crank movies, but this film also has the bonus of being an action-comedy starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Tanya Wexler in her follow up to the insanely fun Zoey Deutch comedy Buffaloed. The film is another tough woman story of a bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal. After the first guy she’s ever fallen for is murdered, she goes on a revenge-fueled rampage to find the killer while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect in a wild ride that has a great supporting cast with Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci, Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox. This is probably a great bet to watch if you don’t want to head to the theatre for Snake Eyes and want to get some action in as it comes at you on Amazon Prime.
How It Ends – Zoe Lister-Jones has had an interesting career as a filmmaker as the Life In Pieces star releases her third feature and the follow-up to her reboot of a beloved nineties favourite that didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, The Craft: Legacy. The bite of this new comedy looks to me like a total redeemer as it follows a woman named Liza, played by Lister-Jones, who scores an invite to one last wild party before the world ends but making it there won’t be easy after her car is stolen and the clock is ticking on her plan to tie up loose ends with friends and family. Accompanied by her younger self, she embarks on a hilarious journey across Los Angeles, running into an eclectic cast of characters played by a great cast including Helen Hunt, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Lamorne Morris and Nick Kroll. The film is co-directed by Lola Versus filmmaker Daryl Wein and almost has a vignette or skit sort of delivery to it, like a Jarmusch film but I kind of have a thing for the end of the world comedies so I’m on board.
Creation Stories – I have a deep love for not just British movies but films from the surrounding areas as well from the ard to understand Welsh films, to the brogue-filled Irish movies and the rough Scottish stories as well. Because of this, I was exposed to Irvine Welsh’s works at a young age, at first from the wildly successful Trainspotting then discovering The Acid House on Showcase so that’s why this new film popping onto my radar intrigued me so much and it has Ewen Bremner who is no stranger to the author’s work, appearing in all of his films. For this film, the Scottish madman is going for the biopic, as this tells the unforgettable tale of infamous Creation Records label head Alan McGee and of how one written-off young Glaswegian upstart rose to irrevocably change the face of British culture. Directed by Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels actor Nick Moran, this film has Bremner giving a hell of a performance and the source work getting that beautiful rebellious kick from Irvine who just delivers with this script. I really adored this.
North Hollywood – As a skater boi myself, I was instantly drawn to this sort of coming-of-age film that involves skateboarding in a big way but it didn’t strike me as closely as Jonah Hill’s debut film Mid90s did but that’s not altogether. a bad thing. The film comes from Mikey Alfred who wrote this debut film as well as plays a supporting role and I really loved his dedication to the characters of it even if it sometimes comes at a detriment. The story follows Michael, played by Ballers actor Ryder McLaughlin, as he tries to answer the question every high school kid faces when they graduate: What’s next? Michael’s best friends already seem to have it figured out; one is going to college, and the other is going to work, but Michael is caught somewhere in between. He’s an aspiring professional skateboarder with the talent to back it up, but his blue-collar father, Oliver, played by an excellent Vince Vaughn, thinks it’s a pipe dream. Oliver wants Michael to either get a college degree and pursue a more conventional career, or join him in the construction business. Over the course of the film, Michael is torn in multiple directions. This film resonates in its ability to relate to everyone who’s had to take the next step in life and I really enjoyed it on that level.
The Last Letter From Your Lover – Now probably predominantly known as Taylor Swift’s fiance, I’ve seen Joe Alwyn’s career start with a great leading performance in Ang Lee’s forgotten 3D film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to his recent villainous work in the Harriet Tubman biopic and I had that in mind when I saw this Netflix romance coming down the line. Featuring a great cast around him including Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley, the story is a pair of interwoven stories set in the present and past that follows Ellie Haworth, an ambitious journalist who discovers a trove of secret love letters from 1965 and becomes determined to solve the mystery of the forbidden affair at their center. As she uncovers the story behind Jennifer Stirling, the wife of a wealthy industrialist, and Anthony O’Hare, the financial journalist assigned to cover him, Ellie’s own love story unfolds with the assistance of an earnest, endearing archivist who helps her track down more letters. The film comes from director Augustine Frizzell who is red hot after directing the pilot of the very popular HBO series Euphoria and it was shot by George Steel who has done great work on the first season of Peaky Blinders. This might become a low-level hit for Netflix.
Alice – A film made on a micro-budget in a totally contained feeling setting, even though it does explore a bit outside, this drama has been garnering buzz at festivals and it definitely comes for the exquisite work that lead star Emilie Piponnier brings as well as the intricate writing and directing from Aussie filmmaker Josephine Mackerras in her debut feature. The story follows the titular character, a happy and perfect wife and mother who has her life turned upside down when she discovers her husband is living a secret life. When her husband steals her money and abandons her and her son, Alice finds herself broke, desperate, and on the verge of losing her house and with time running out, she realizes that the only way to make good money fast is to turn to her husband’s vice and become a prostitute. This movie operates in such a realistic fashion and reminded me of the work of hyperrealistic filmmaker’s The Derdennes, who have been making award-worthy films for decades. With this being just the beginning of Mackerras’ career, the sky is the limit I think.
Beans – One of my regrets at this past year’s online Vancouver International Film Festival was that I didn’t get the chance to check out Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer’s debut film that went on to win Best Canadian Feature Film. Now having gotten the chance to see this stunning film I think it is not just one of the best of 2021 but one of the most important stories I’ve watched this year. The film is a coming-of-age story of an indigenous teen girl at the same time as the 78-day standoff between two Mohawk communities and government forces in 1990 in Quebec. This movie is an engrossing look at the loss of innocence against the backdrop of racial hatred and violence that often left my jaw on the floor. The character development with Beans from the opening scene to a scene in the third act with her mother is mindblowing and I really can’t wait to see what Deer has coming next because she has a fan for life.
Amy Winehouse & Me: Dionne’s Story – I feel like it will be hard to top the documentary we got on this tremendously talented but ultimately tragic singer and songwriter from master filmmaker Asif Kapadia but this one is a little different. Already having debuted in the States on Paramount+, this is a deeply personal, heartfelt film tribute to the late Grammy-Award-winning singer-songwriter and cultural icon, but told through the lens of her goddaughter, singer-songwriter Dionne Bromfield. produced ten years after Amy’s passing, Broomfield opens up for the first time about the impact of Amy’s death on her life but illustrates the woman she remembers in a really well-constructed documentary that is a nice addition to the film that is already on Netflix and is still as important of a music and human template as it was then. That movie moved me to tears and this one did as well, a special piece of filmmaking that was definitely cathartic for those involved.
Stuntman – The unsung heroes of the film world are without a doubt the stunt players who work tirelessly behind the scenes and on camera to handle the carnage. They have dropped off buildings, thrown through glass windows, set on fire, bludgeon for our enjoyment, safely of course, and more things that I can list here. This film celebrates that a bit by showing us the story of legendary stuntman Eddie Braun in documentary form as he attempts one of the most dangerous stunts in history. Contemplating retirement and having survived over three decades of hellacious car crashes, explosions, high falls and death-defying leaps, Eddie decides to complete what his childhood hero never finished, the infamous Snake River Canyon rocket jump, an audacious televised event that almost killed famed daredevil, Evel Knievel. I’d say the biggest bummer of the film’s presentation is being on Disney+ rather than being experienced on the big screen. It really feels like it was intended for that format but just taking it in a story of a remarkable human being is a reward all on its own.
Blu-Ray & DVD:
Spiral: From the Book of Saw – This week in Canada we get to final experience in the proper format of blu-ray the new film in a franchise that was supposed to end after the seventh film, which was a 3D extravaganza. Oh and then a soft reboot with the flick, Jigsaw, but it flopped badly so do we still consider it a cog in the series? Now Chris Rock has stepped up as the executive producer and lead star, director Darren Lynn Bousman is back with writer Josh Stolberg and we get a whole new bag of nightmares to start fresh on. This story focuses on brash detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks who always seems to be working in the shadow of his father, an esteemed police veteran played by Samuel L. Jackson. With his rookie partner in tow, he takes charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past, which we all know now what’s alluded to there. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game as more bodies begin to pile up. These movies all used to operate with a bit of torture porn horror wink but the good news is that this film, not without its rough parts, does enough to reinvigorate the fan base and give us a few new threads to follow as far as the continued legacy goes. I’d be interested in more, personally.
Die In A Gunfight – You know, with a title as brash and audacious as this one you better hope you come with all the genre oomph you can muster or those four words will be the best thing about it and you might as well heed that titular advice. A little harsh, I know, but I would say the same thing for comic books as well. Starring Diego Boneta and the IT girl of the last few years, Alexandra Daddario, the story follows the Rathcarts and the Gibbons, very much the modern-day Montagues and Capulets, two rival families who each control their own media empire in New York City. Their teenage kids ignore the feud and fall in love, despite their parents’ efforts to keep them apart and with a hitman, corporate corruption, love, jealousy, revenge and lust all combining to a huge crescendo, all of the characters and emotions come to a head at the wedding in a culmination that falls short on its production level. This usually wouldn’t be an issue but some of the action sequences feel awkward to the point that they seem like a production afterthought. It honestly hurt the movie a lot in my opinion and kept dragging me out of the story. The filmmakers don’t need to go die in a gunfight though. Too harsh.
Jakob’s Wife – Horror writer and director Travis Stevens has had this story in the chamber for a long time and I had no idea that horror icon and Reanimator star Barbara Crampton had such a hand in getting it made as she had been pushing it for years and not only stars as the title character but also produced the film as well. Co-starring another indie horror icon, Larry Fessenden as Jakob himself, the story follows Anne, a woman married to a small-town Minister who feels her life has been shrinking over the past thirty years. Encountering “The Master” one day during a moment of weakness with an old flame, the experience brings her a new sense of power and an appetite to live bolder along with a couple of worrisome bite marks on her neck However, the change comes with a heavy body count and her husband is forced to come to her rescue if he will be able to save their marriage as well. This movie is so well written with great tongue-in-cheek comedy and, even in a vampire film, it manages to bring new and fresh ideas to a subgenre that has been reinvented countless times. It also features a small role for the former wrestler and mixed martial artist CM Punk which made me smile.
Georgetown – Just having Christoph Waltz leading your film will automatically have me interested in it because he always brings such gravitas to every role even if he’s playing a self-conscious villain in The Green Hornet. In this film, he plays an eccentric and smooth-talking social climber who seems to have everyone in Washington, D.C., wrapped around his finger. His momentum seems to be impeded when he is investigated after his wealthy, well-connected and much older wife turns up dead in their home and questions are raised about his true identity. Co-starring formidable actresses Annette Bening and Vanessa Redgrave, the script and plot are what begin to fail this story before any of the performances do and it all works out to be far less than the sum of its parts. I wouldn’t call it a bad or so-so movie but I was expecting far more from it and the ending just seems to fizzle.
Take Me Out To The Ball Game – This week Warner Archive is going classic Americana with one of their releases as they’ve got both Frank Sinatra and the have the age-old pastime of baseball. The interesting thing with this film is that it came at a time when Frank Sinatra’s career was struggling and the only time he did well at the box office was when paired with Gene Kelly, so, we have this musical romantic comedy. The story has Sinatra and Kelly as two turn-of-the-century baseball players, who work in vaudeville during the off-season, that run into trouble with their team’s new female owner and a gambler who doesn’t want them to win the pennant. The film would have had the triple head billing of Judy Garland’s star power but due to her developing drug problem she was unreliable so Esther Williams was picked for the role which, in turn, created confusion to the audience as to why there weren’t any swimming sequences, the reason Williams rose to fame. Old Hollywood is so weird yet so fascinating and I love behind-the-scenes stories like this. It gives the films a whole new context.
I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes! – For the second of three Warner Archive films this week we head back to 1948 for a film noir mystery that came from a pioneer filmmaker named William Nigh who was in his late sixties making this film with this and Stage Struck, released in the same year, being his final production after a career that started behind the camera in 1914. The story follows a dancer who is pinned for murder after his shoe prints are found at the scene of the crime. After he is convicted to death row and is on the shortlist to execution, his wife follows the trail of clues that don’t quite add up to her husband’s involvement to find the real perpetrator. This film has an ordinary nature to it that is dispelled by the great way in which they tackle the mystery. YOu can really feel Nigh’s veteran capabilities in some parts but also feel that he is a bit tired in others. Still, this was an interesting watch.
Step By Step – I totally geeked out on this blu-ray update of this film noir crime drama as it features Lawrence Tierney in the lead role and my first thought went to his appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s debut film Reservoir Dogs. This is for sure a movie that inspired Tarantino’s own film career and Tierney is so great in this, tough, virile and in his prime as a twenty-five year old man. The story follows him as Johnny, an ex-Marine, who, with Evelyn, a chance acquaintance, find themselves caught up in a plot involving Nazi spies infiltrating sunny California. In a hilarious bit of trivia, retakes were often required as a result of Lawrence Tierney’s showing too much, um, “enthusiasm” for his co-star Anne Jeffreys in his tight-fitting swim trunks. I don’t think I need to explain that one more but I think it’s funny that history discloses that tidbit of information.
Royal Deceit – This was a weird one as MVD Entertainment sent me the blu-ray update of this mid-nineties medieval story with a killer cast including Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Helen Mirren and Gabriel Byrne yet I had never heard of it. The film is a re-telling of Hamlet that goes back to the original Danish source material with the opening scenario remaining the same, Hamlet’s father is murdered by his brother who then weds the widowed mother. Like the original tragedy, Hamlet then must discover his strength and leadership that will allow him to regain his rightful throne but the twist hits in the second and third act as this story chooses to follow a more Viking route of storytelling. This film wasn’t well received at the time as Kate Beckinsale stated that after this movie’s release, she was approached by a man in Paris, praising the movie, saying that he never saw the story of Hamlet work as a comedy. This movie was definitely not meant to be a comedy but it showcases some actors who hadn’t yet hit their star-making stride.
Close Range/Savage Dog – Underrated action star Scott Adkins gets showcased big time in this new blu-ray double feature that features two of favourites of his work according to his fans. Close Range has him as a rogue soldier turned outlaw who is thrust into a relentless fight with a corrupt sheriff, his obedient deputies, and a dangerous drug cartel to protect his sister and her young daughter. The film has a big-budget action quality that really comes through on the fight scenes and the camera just loves Adkins thoroughly. The second film is the late fifties set Savage Dog that has him as a former boxing champion imprisoned in the Den-Dhin-Chan labour camp run by Vietnamese warlords and European war criminals. He makes a name for himself fighting tournaments on which wealthy criminals gamble in high-stakes events in the hopes of earning himself a release but the corrupt forces running the jail will do everything in their power to keep him locked down. This is another consistent action film that delivers on its brutality and is absolutely entertaining throughout. I was surprised by how satisfying this double feature was.
Dead & Buried 4K – One of the minds behind Alien, Ronald Shusett, was the driving force behind this creeper horror film from 1981 that operated a little bit under the radar but gained a huge cult following years later and now, on its fortieth anniversary, is quite revered by horror fans as an original and iconic piece of genre filmmaking. The first film from Raw Meat director Gary Sherman in almost ten years, this film is set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders committed by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life. The sheriff and his wife start to realize that the town’s coroner, played by Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory actor Jack Albertson, which will come into play later in the blog, is responsible for it and is creating an army of rural zombies. This movie is totally awesome and features some amazing gore and creature effects from a young Stan Winston in an incredible establishment of his work. It was also sadly the final film of Albertson who passed away before the film’s release from cancer that he suffered through while making it.
Star Trek Discovery: Season 3 – Look, I’m not fully caught up on everything in this series yet so for my research I just went as spoiler-free and vague just so I wouldn’t spoil everything for myself but I will say that fans of Star Trek aren’t too happy with the series. I’m enjoying it so far as I’m not as invested in it as everyone else but I can totally get people’s issues with it. The show is set ten years before Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise, as the USS Discovery discovers new worlds and lifeforms with one main Starfleet officer learning to understand all things alien both about herself and those around her starting at the disadvantage of being an accused mutineer for her brash actions. Great casting, exciting adventures and inner politics and an infinite ceiling due to being on the CBS All Access streaming service, I really like what they’re doing with this show and the possibilities are really endless to where they can go.
Gangs Of London: Season 1 – As a network that generally has made great decisions for its line up by picking up British programming like Quiz most recently, they have done it again by nabbing this gritty crime series from the UK network Sky. Coming from the man behind The Raid movies, Gareth Evans, this series tells the story of London being torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of its international gangs and the sudden power vacuum that’s created when the head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated. The only recognizable stars in this are Joe Cole who featured in the other British crime saga Peaky Blinders and Colm Meaney who was O’Brien in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine but it’s shot so beautifully and the story is absolutely fascinating for fans of these crime family series. As a guy that usually has my plate full with films most weeks, I was so happy to receive this show on blu-ray, to watch the series at my own pace in hi-def and fell in love with it. The series describes itself as “Game Of Thrones without dragon” and I have to agree that they share the same ruthlessness.
Shameless: Season 11 – A show that I kept feeling was going to abruptly end its run at least four seasons ago is finally drawing to a close and it was without the main star that kicked off the show, Emmy Rossum. The story of the Chicago dirtbag family the Gallaghers are shuffling out the door as there are probably no more stories to tell and the kids are all grown up now. For those who have never seen an episode and can now binge all one hundred and thirty-four episodes, I haven\’t sugar-coated the premise at all. It is an outrageous family drama that is based on the long-running hit UK series and follows a working-class patriarch of an unconventional Chicago brood of six kids headed by the eldest sibling who keeps the home afloat while their dad is out drinking and carousing. I will admit that this final season makes the same mistake as many long-running shows where it really didn’t know where to quit and should have ended with the exit of their major star. Why won’t they ever learn, especially Showtime who already made this mistake with Dexter?
Steve’s Blu-Ray Geekouts:
The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs – Another incredible collection of films from a powerful but under-recognized filmmaker is now available in beautiful blu-ray quality thanks to the great minds at the Criterion Collection. Marlon Riggs was an American filmmaker, educator, poet, and gay rights activist whose main focus was making hard-hitting documentaries that examine past and present representations of race and sexuality in the United States. This set has the films Ethnic Notions, tracing the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice, Tongues Untied, about the experiences of black homosexual men living in the United States, Affirmations, a look at what it’s like to be gay and black in America, Anthem, an exercise in dance, music, words and poetry in defiant celebration of the sensual and sexual pleasure of being black and queer and so many more. This is pivotal and important black filmmaking that is just as indelible as the works and works of James Baldwin. Tragically passing away at age 37, Riggs never got the chance to rise to the head of black filmmakers so hopefully, this set will live on and ideas from it are explored.
Adam Resurrected – I know that week to week it’s not a surprise that I’m a total movie nerd, hence this blog and my weekly spot of The Shift as a “movie expert” but I totally geek out, even more, when I receive a film by a great director that I have either never seen or never heard of. This film falls into the first category as it is a film I never had the chance to check out and it comes from acclaimed writer Paul Schrader who has made some of my favourite movies ever. This film stars Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe and follows the story of Adam Stein, a charismatic patient at a mental institution for Holocaust survivors in Israel, 1961. Before the war, in Berlin, Adam was a circus entertainer who was loved by audiences and Nazis alike until he finds himself in a concentration camp, confronted by Commandant Klein. Adam survives the camp by becoming the Commandant’s “dog”, entertaining him while his wife and daughter are sent off to die and years later we see the trauma of his survival in a brilliantly constructed film. Goldblum and Dafoe are electric in this film, one I dub a must-see.
Feed The Gods – Also another arrival from MVD Visual like my previous geek out, this little horror film has not only the distinction of being a Canadian film but it was right here in my backyard of beautiful British Columbia with a lot of local talent. The film comes from the mind of writer and director Braden Croft who absolutely rocks this story that feels deliciously original and, in ways, is completely untethered in the best ways. The story follows two brothers who return to a small mountain town in search of their long-lost parents only to discover that the place has a monstrous taste for tourists in a result the feels as it leans towards the arthouse side of the genre. The plot engaged me and the familiar faces of Resident Evil’s Shawn Roberts, Letterkenny’s Tyler Johnson and a face that pops up in damn near every Canadian production, Aleks Paunovic kept me in it. This is a hidden Canadian gem, I think.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory 4K – When I was just a kid this movie was a total obsession of mine. Of course, on the surface level, it was for the obvious reasons, a kid winning a contest to go to a fabled chocolate factory. Underneath that was an adaptation of a book I knew, the great Gene Wilder doing what he does best, burn up the screen every moment he was there and odd elements of borderline horror which intrigued me to no end. For those new to this fifty-year-old classic, the story is about candy man Willy Wonka who prompts a worldwide frenzy when he hides five golden tickets inside his infamous candy bars. The lucky ticket holders will become privy to a tour of his eccentric secret world of candy making that involves chocolate rivers and walls that taste like snozzberry. Iconic and a seminal family film, the transition that Warner Bros. made for this to 4K blu-ray is breathtaking and a total treat for anyone who loves movies. This is, pardon the pun, a total treat.
His Dark Materials: Season 2 – I’m going to say something controversial here and reveal that I really like the Chris Weitz made Golden Compass film from 2007 which was the first kick at the Phillip Pullman written series of books and I really wanted to see more. It’s a damn great thing that HBO and BBC joined forces to do a faithful adaptation of these books and cast Dafne Keen, who astounded audiences alongside Hugh Jackman in Logan, as the lead character of Lyra. The potential of this series is unlimited and while being compared to Game Of Thrones is becoming a bit tiresome, the comparison feels a little more real with this one as the book series is popular and perfect for this style of adaptation. The first season set such a great tone for it that separates it from the previous version, immersing it in a great world of realism that is dying to be explored in this new season. I am excited about it.
Behind The Attraction: Season 1 (Disney+) – As a huge ride junkie but one that has never gotten to experience Disneyland or Disney World as an adult, I feel like this new docuseries on Disney+ was made for me. Narrated by former Criminal Minds star Paget Brewster, this show explores the history of how popular Disney attractions and destinations came to be, how they have changed over time and how fans continue to obsess over them. Each episode follows a different attraction like how Imagineers filled the Haunted Mansion with 999 happy haunts, how the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!, with incredible and gravity-defying construction to do so, and why Space Mountain took so long to launch. It even takes a look at the construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge which is the thing I’m most interested in. For a nerd like me, this is the perfect show.
Masters Of The Universe: Revelations (Netflix) – A man I consider my personal Gretzky, Kevin Smith, a driving force to me pursuing podcasting, then radio and movie critiquing, anything he puts his name on becomes very special to me and when it was announced that he would be executive producing this new He-Man series I was automatically intrigued. As a fan of the show and toys himself, Smith has the perfect reverence for the source material and he brings all of that with a great voice cast to this show that feels like it picks up where the original series left off with a tone that suits the time that has passed. The story pits our heroic warriors, He-Man, Orko, Cringer, and Man-At-Arms and guardians of Castle Grayskull against Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast Man and the vile legions of Snake Mountain but after a ferocious final battle forever fractures Eternia, it’s up to Teela to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to prevent the end of the Universe. This show had so many jaw-dropping moments in just five episodes and it has me absolutely salivating for the next batch of episodes that can’t come fast enough. Rejoice, HeMan fans because we got a show by a cast and crew that totally get it!
Ashes To Ashes (BritBox) – One of my favourite British shows of the modern television era, this series is actually a spin-off of one of my other favourite Brit shows and one that actually got a short-lived American remake, Life On Mars. Named after David Bowie songs, these are actually a weird sort of time travelling sort of sci-fi shows but it’s never quite as simple as that. This complete series takes you back to ‘the decade that taste forgot, the 1980s and revels in nostalgia, providing plenty of sight jokes and, of course, a brand new car for DCI Gene Hunt and his crew who return after Life On Mars where he once again acquires a time-travelling sidekick, this time in the sexy and smart DI Alex Drake. Alex’s journey began back in 2008 when she was shot during a botched kidnapping of her daughter Molly and left for dead. Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes lead this show that is reliant on incredible mystery, great music and brilliant chemistry to make a three-season series that I couldn’t stop watching when I discovered it. I’m so happy that it can be rediscovered by binge-watchers!
Ted Lasso: Season 2 (AppleTV+) – The best current comedy on any streaming, cable or network platform is back for a second season and just a week after the first season earned an incredible twenty Emmy nominations that it most certainly deserves. Jason Sudekis leads a series that is without a doubt the most feel-good and serotonin filled comedies that I have come across in my life. For those who aren’t on the Lasso bandwagon yet because, I don’t know, you’re scared or don’t want to join the mainstream, the show follows an American football coach who heads to the U.K. to manage a struggling London football team in the top flight of English football for an owner who is using him as a way to tank the team to get back at her ex-husband. This show is amazing in how it makes you care about every character as the whole cast is absolutely stellar and there aren’t any wasted lines or moments and has recurring jokes and moments that will both endear you to the show and have you rolling on the floor with laughter. I can not stress enough how much this show is needed in everyone’s lives. It’s that special.
Turner & Hooch (Disney+) – I’m doubling down on my Disney coverage this week with a new series that I was sure I was going to hate but in the end, I dug it, probably just based on the charm of Josh Peck as the lead character. I had my hackles up against this one as I love the original Tom Hanks comedy but after the first episode had finished, I noticed that the showrunner is Matt Nix who made the awesome Burn Notice which I still consider must-see procedural entertainment. This series, just like the film it’s based on, follows a detective who solves crimes reluctantly with the help of an oversized dog, plain and simple. Is it corny? Yes. Will you roll your eyes a lot? Yeah, probably. But does it still work as an entertaining story? Yes, it really does and the fact that it’s using Vancouver as Chicago is something I can kind of get behind in a ridiculous way. Just like with Mighty Ducks, Disney got me again.