The Tick, the third TV adaptation (second live action) of Ben Edlund’s comic, is on Amazon, the pilot for free. Peter Serafinowicz plays the title role, less sizeable than Patrick Warburton, but… he comes off a touch less dumb but a touch more crazy, which makes for a slightly different tone. It’s overall less comedic, almost like the grim and gritty reboot of The Tick, but it’s still The Tick, so it’s not all that grim or that gritty. But I didn’t laugh at all in the pilot, which is a disappointment.
Some guy plays Arthur, he’s fine. Jackie Earle Haley is The Terror, and he’s good. That girl from the Following plays Dot, cuter than in The Following, less cute than when she was in House of Lies, but still quite cute.
One thing I noticed, and I don’t know if all amazon video does this, or only amazon originals, or if this is new to this show, but if you mouse over the player while it’s going, it’ll show you the names of the actors in the scene. Which is pretty awesome.
Normal is a Warren Ellis novel serialized as four $2 e-books, about a new patient at a mental asylum for people who know too much. Specifically, it’s based on the idea that certain people, futurists and strategic thinkers, inevitably go crazy (they “stare at the abyss too long”). It’s a great setting, full of unhinged characters with the kind of technological paranoia Ellis can write really well. And just random interesting asides (the zombie fungus is real and unnerving). Oddly, like Elektrograd, it’s a pretty simple trope for the main plot, which turns out to be locked room mystery. I enjoyed this a lot.
It made me think I should read more books, but when I came back from vacation to a week of unwatched TV and the “1K+” unread count in Feedly, I got the sense that probably isn’t going to happen.
Elektrograd: Rusted Blood is a novella by Warren Ellis, semi-planned as the first of seven (though it’s doubtful it’ll ever progress beyond this), each taking place in a different part of a futuristic city of experimental architecture. This one is basically a murder mystery set in the city of 50s scifi future, but ~60 years on when things are starting to fall apart. It’s really there for a few choice Ellis lines and the atmosphere of the city. If those two things don’t appeal to you, I wouldn’t bother. But they do appeal to me, so I enjoyed it.
All the Way is the HBO movie about LBJ, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent presidential election. It came out in May but I totally missed that it did. Brian Cranston stars as LBJ, Anthony Mackie as MLK, Bradley Whitford as Hubert H. Humphrey, Melissa Leo as Lady Bird, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover, and some other people. It’s an interesting enough story about the conflict between ideals and practicality in politics. If MLK had his way, the President would have overreached and had no ability to accomplish anything. If LBJ had his way, he would have achieved what seemed feasible, and lost the support of Black voters by failing to bring substantial change. Pretty decent movie if you’re interest in the history stuff, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.
Random interesting thing: I didn’t know LBJ named his daughters Lucy Baines and Lynda Bird and his dog Little Beagle, so as to keep the LBJ initials on everyone.
Suicide Squad could be cut down to like a 45 minute movie about Deadshot and Amanda Waller, with some comic relief from Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang, and it would be pretty good. Unfortunately, it is 2 hours and 10 minutes long, and features a lot of Rick Flagg, Joker, Killer Croc, El Diabo, an antagonist, and other stuff ranging from “meh” to “awful.” Some spoilers after this.
Van Helsing is a new Syfy series which doesn’t start regularly until September, but for some reason they aired the pilot now. Its premise is surprisingly similar to Wynona Earp, in that it’s a lady with a feminized-version of her famous ancestor’s name, brought in to continue the legacy or whatever. In this case, it’s after a vampire apocalypse.
Kelly Overton, who I don’t really know but I guess she was on True Blood, plays Vanessa Helsing. Or at least, that’s what it said on imdb, since the pilot doesn’t get into the Helsing stuff. The pilot is mostly concerned with generic white guy, who is a military dude assigned to protect a doctor and a sleeping woman after the Yellowstone supervolcano goes off, and the resulting darkness leads to a vampire uprising. The doctor eventually gets turned, so generic white guy is in a secure base with a vampire doctor and a sleeping woman, then events conspire to bring in other people and wake Vanessa up. But in the end, the pilot doesn’t do a great job of setting things up. Vanessa is special, but we have no clue how her specialness can be implemented to turn back the feral vampire hordes. There is an antagonist of some sort, who I believe is human, or an organization of humans, but he or she or it is unseen and unnamed as far as I can remember.
I didn’t hate it, so I’ll probably check out episode 2. But I don’t have a clue what episode 2 will look like. It’s far more “chapter 1 of a novel” than “tv pilot that tells us what the show will be like.” They did the opening scene and then a cut to 36 hours earlier, but both those take place inside a locked area, and almost the entire episode is in there. The show will most likely venture outside, or at least it better if I’m going to find it interesting.
Jason Bourne returns Matt Damon (and director Paul Greengrass) to the Bourne franchise, and it’s fine, but I feel like the series has had so many imitators in the 14 (!?) years since the first one came out that it doesn’t feel fresh anymore. There are just so many action movies with the same kind of brutal action scenes and the same style of filming them that the connection to the other movies is basically the only thing that makes this stand out from the crowd.
Greengrass (and possibly editor Christopher Rouse, who has worked with Greengrass on his three Bourne movies) does seem more adept at putting the shaking camera/quick cut action scene technique to good use. You still get the intended sense of disorientation, but the shots are still put together in a way where you do know what’s going on. It’s not just a dizzying series of whips and cuts where only the sound effects give you any clue what’s happening. But when the first couple Bourne movies came out, it felt different and exciting, and now it looks just like the action scenes from a bunch of other movies, so even done well, it feels kind of pedestrian.
Damon is joined this time by Tommy Lee Jones as the bad guy in the suit, Alicia Vikander as the girl who helps him out, the French guy from Ocean’s Twelve as the badass guy who chases him (every Bourne movie has to have those three roles), and Julia Stiles reprises her “girl who helps him out” role from the earlier movies.
The Killing Joke is DC’s latest direct-to-video animated movie, this one (partly) an adaptation of the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland classic. It’s derailed by a really pointless addition focusing on Batgirl, and is ultimately pretty dumb, despite bringing back the classic animated series cast.
I’d heard about the addition, and I’d assumed it was to offset the fact that in the original, Barbara’s role is to answer the door and get shot, which is a pretty dumb waste of one of the handful of most important characters in Batman’s corner of the DC universe. But instead of doing it to give her some time in the spotlight and give her a heroic moment, she… screws up a lot, and because Batman treats her like garbage, she fucks him on a rooftop. I have absolutely no idea what the point of any of that was.
Some of the things from the comic were cool to see animated, but that’s about it.
Vice Principals is HBO’s new comedy from Danny McBride. I couldn’t get in to Eastbound and Down and I have the same problem here. Not funny to me at all. I gave it a second episode to be sure. Nothing. Walton Goggins plays an interesting character, but he’s also not funny. They just get really angry at each other, and really angry at other people. And I guess that’s supposed to be funny, but I don’t get it.
Star Trek: Beyond is the latest in the “NuTrek” film series, and it’s more like the first one than the second, but seems to cement the film series as devoid of any attempt at more than an action series. The action is good, though, and the Enterprise crew is much better served here than in the second movie, where it seemed singularly focused on Kirk and Spock. Karl Urban’s Bones didn’t get nearly enough to do in that one, but he’s back to a major role here. But it’s ultimately pointless, which is a little bit of a let down. I think the only meaning you can get out of this is “peace is good.” So… not what I want from Star Trek, exactly, but a perfectly good action movie.
Meanwhile, I have my hopes up for this Trek series headed for CBS’s crappy version of netflix/hulu.
Random aside: know what I miss? Sequels with numbers. I honestly can’t remember the subtitle of the Khanberbatch movie, but I want to call it NuTrek II or something. It has no number in it’s title, nor does this movie, nor does, it seems, any movie franchise other than the infinite series of x Fast x Furuious. I can’t remember some of the original cast movies’ subtitles, but when I say Star Trek IV, you know I mean the one about whales.