The Old Guard is Nothing New

You know how you watch a trailer and its really hyped? You think I got to see that. Then you see it and it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. The movie is not totally bad, but you expected more.

You know how you watch a movie and you think “Wait, I’ve seen this before”? It’s a new movie but the premise and the plot are redundant to other movies you have seen. Not that that’s a bad thing it’s just that along the way the movie became predictable.

This is how I felt watching Netflix’s original movie The Old Guard. I’m going to start out saying that with the above details I’m not saying The Old Guard was a bad movie, but this was like Netflix wanted to do a high action modern fantasy movie on the quick. It’s starting to feel like Netflix is a hit or miss thing where they are throwing movies up a flagpole and seeing if anyone salutes.

The Old Guard falls within the fantasy genre as it is about immortal soldiers. Charlize Theron plays Andy, Andromache of Scythia, who leads a band of immortals who are mercenaries for good. They kill but they take jobs that help people for the greater good. There is no real explanation of why they are immortal or why they do what they do. There is no good explanation of how they all got together as mercenaries for hire. They are just there.

Still not a bad movie.

Kiki Layne played former US Marine, Nile Freeman, who dies to find out that she is immortal. In the beginning, she has no idea how she survived death and is not accepting of the answers she got. Truth be told there was no one to give her any answers because no one knew how this was happening.

The Old Guard took in this new immortal to train her because whether she had fighting experience or not, they thought the best thing for her to do was join their mission. Which they could not explain. Layne does a decent job of playing the stereotypical new recruit to the group with a chip on her shoulder because she doesn’t want that life.

Still not a bad movie.

So, when I hear a story about immortals, I immediately think of Highlander. Between the movies and the tv show, Highlander kind of cornered the market on the whole group of immortals thing. “There can only be one” is a phrase that not only us nerds know. It’s worldwide.

You really shouldn’t compare this movie with a franchise such as Highlander but Connor and Duncan McCloud and their universe had a clear picture of what being an immortal meant. Once you have seen Highlander it’s hard to push a movie about immortals that doesn’t measure up. There was one main similarity between the two that felt like a total rip off but unlike Highlander, there was no explanation for it.

Still not a bad movie.

Plot-wise there were so many times that while watching this movie you can tell how a plot point would develop. There were parts of the movie that were genetic. You’ve seen it so many times before that the writers could not have spent an incredible amount of time putting this together.

When you are watching a movie and within the first 15 minutes you say to yourself out loud “well we know where this is going” that’s not a good sign. From my point of view though, these immortals made certain decisions that should not have been made from people hundreds of years old. This made the script and plot unbelievable.

Still not a bad movie.

The action scenes were a little bit of a saving grace. The immortal mercenary group was a force to be reckoned with because you simply could not kill them. They kept coming back to get you. The realistic fighting scenes were fun to watch however you did realize that the adversaries could not kill the stars, so it was just a matter of how these countless hired thugs were going to get their heads handed to them.

Still not a bad movie.

The hope is that the producers and director of this movie do a better job on the second outing. For a movie that was stolen from other movies with the same type of hackneyed plot, it was seen fit to leave off with a cliffhanger that would set up a sequel. Hopefully, this will give them time to explain all the plot holes that were left empty on the first outing.

Check it out on Netflix if you got time to kill. It’s not a bad movie but don’t go in expecting to be wowed either.

Kenny Walker Jr

What To Watch While Quarantined

So right now, we are all in a situation. A situation that most of us have never seen before.

We are in the middle of a nearly world-wide pandemic and a majority of the population is under quarantine.

While under quarantine we tend to do a lot of things to keep us from going stir crazy. Most of us are locked in with our families that no matter how much we love them we still need a distraction. For some of us, it’s a chance to start that book we always wanted to write. Some of us have that project around the house that you have been holding off on like cleaning the attic, painting a certain room or organizing their home office.

However, the one thing that’s easily accessible, a fund favorite and very popular is finding a new show to stream. What better way to pass the time than sitting on the couch, pressing some buttons and finding nerd things on TV to help you leave the pandemic world for a little while. Well, here at ObsidianNomad we have the perfect suggestions for our fellow nerds. Mind you our list is not all there is to watch out there but just the ones we recommend.

The Netflix & Chill Plan

Let’s start with one of the most popular streaming choices: Netflix. The one thing I like that Netflix has to stream is Power Rangers. From Mighty Morphin to Beast they have just about all of it for your morphing fix. The CW Arrow verse is also represented on Netflix which would come in handy if you missed anything leading up to this season’s big crisis event. Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Black Lightning are all here, however, Batwoman probably won’t appear until after the first season is finished and hopefully, we will be pandemic free by then. For original shows, Netflix still runs all 3 seasons of the ever-popular Stranger Things so you can catch up before season 4 airs later this year.

Straight from comic books, there’s the Netflix originals Umbrella Academy, Locke & Key, and newcomer I Am Not Okay With This. Marvel is still represented with the original series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders along with movies Avengers: Infinity War and Ant Man and the Wasp but catch them now because they might not be there much longer – we’ll get to that later. You can use a whole day to binge the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The real prize here is if you are old school like me Netflix is now showing the original live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 1990 which is hands down the best version of the book ever.

Home With Hulu

Over on Hulu, there are a few nerd things for you to check out. All 4 seasons of AMC’s Preacher can now be seen which is a good watch. Also, catch while you can Marvels two sadly canceled show’s Cloak and Dagger which originally aired on Freeform and the Hulu original Marvel’s Runaways which I suspect are canceled for a reason we will get to later in this article. Anime fans can catch the wildly popular My Hero Academia which comes in two versions: dubbed or subtitled. If you’re really into Anime, then you will be happy to know that there is an Anime Favorites section that has everything from One-Punch-Man to Cowboy Bebop to Death Note to Yu-Gi-Oh.

DC Universe Streaming Survival Kit

On the DC Universe streaming channel there is something for every nerd’s needs but like I mentioned our list is stuff we recommend. DC Universe started some original shows from some of your favorite comic books like Doom Patrol, Titans, and Swamp Thing but my favorite hands down are the Harley Quinn cartoon series. There are some DC themed live-action and animated movies to watch with the gems here being the 1978 classic Superman The Movie and the 1993 animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

If you like to re-watch some of the animated tv shows, then not only do they have the Superfriends from the 70’s and 80’s the Justice League series as well as Justice League Unlimited. How could they not have Batman the Animated Series and Superman the Animated Series? If you’re feeling nostalgia for old live-action series in the DC family then this streaming channel has the Saturday morning Shazam show from the 70’s, the prime time Wonder Woman from the 70’s with leading lady Linda Carter and all six seasons of the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves.

Downtime with Disney+

Now let’s move to the big one: Disney +. Disney+ has two distinct universes that are any nerds wet dream. The Marvel Universe and the Star Wars Universe. Now the Star Wars Universe is represented in full force on Disney+ with every movie from the franchise except for Solo which is currently on Netflix and the last Star Wars installment The Rise of Skywalker which was very recently in theatres.

Also, what is not present and surely missed by true Star Wars fans is the Star Wars Holiday Special that aired on CBS in 1978. Never fear, because Disney+ made amends by giving us The Mandalorian the original series that some fans claim gives us the best of the Star Wars universe. Not to start an argument but my vote for the best Star Wars movie worth watching again is Rogue One.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also represented well on Disney+. You can just about watch all the MCU movies in order ending with Avengers Endgame however you would be missing Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp which for now is on Netflix but I suspect that they will follow the way of Black Panther and as soon as that contract is up then they will come home to Disney+.

The Spiderman movies starring Tom Holland are also absent, but he is present in the crossover movies here. But if you really want to Marvel nerd binge on Disney+ then you have to go to the cartoons. You can watch the entire 90’s X-Men cartoon from the 90’s. You can binge Spiderman and his Amazing Friends. You can binge the 90’s Spiderman cartoon.

Of course, we didn’t hit every streaming channel and every show on the ones we did cover. Amazon Prime has The Boys based on a comic book and CBS All Access has Star Trek: Picard that come highly recommended. But while you are in self-quarantine streaming channels, we at ObsidianNomad want you to stay safe and stay healthy. Don’t spend all the time streaming, cleaning or doing projects. Hug your loved ones.

KennyWalker Jr

Birds of Prey is DC’s Answer to Marvel’s Deadpool

For the third time in a row in the past year, I walked into a DC/Warner Bros. movie with the wrong attitude. I walked in thinking this movie was going to suck. Maybe that’s how I should walk into all of them in the future because this movie far from sucked.

Two things about this review: 1 there are spoilers and 2 there is a hyena.

As a fan of superhero movies, Birds of Prey was DC’s version of a female Deadpool. Yes, it appears that the top execs at Warner Bros. finally realized that their superhero movie making playbook doesn’t work and that they should check out what the competition is doing and maybe cop their style. Harley narrating the story, the fun fight scenes, dark one-liners and the cartoony captions throughout the movie gave the movie that same quirky feel as the Marvel hit.

The full title of the movie is Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. That’s a mouthful. In a nutshell, though, it tells you the premise of the movie. Harley breaks it off with the Jokers or he kicks her out however you want to interpret the situation. Now with the Joker being the craziest mofo in the DC Universe everyone is afraid of him. Because of this, Harley, Joker’s girlfriend, also has the run of Gotham. Disrespecting Harley is like disrespecting Joker and nobody wants that smoke.

The thing is when Gotham finds out that Harley is no longer Joker’s main squeeze things get real for Harley. Now everyone that has a problem with Harley can take it up with her and not have to go through Joker. Suddenly, it became open season on Harley. Now while everyone’s trying to make a name for themselves by killing Harley, Harley is trying to make a name for herself letting the world know that she does not have to have the Joker to be a villain not to mess with. She blows up factories, killed random people and even brought a Hyena to prove her independence.

Margot Robbie once again pulls off the perfect Harley Quinn. The crazy Joker’s girlfriend who did not first appear in comics but was first seen in 90’s TV’s Batman Animated Series then introduced into comic book continuity to rise into the DC sensation she is today. Margot Robbie’s live-action Harley Quinn first appears in 2016’s Suicide Squad and has been a standout character sense. But the results were perfect because there no one else that could have brought this character to life. With Birds of Prey, we get a full backstory on what makes Harley Quinn tick.

And just like when she was first introduced in the Batman Animated Series, she had a pet hyena. You really can’t beat that. This did not only serve as a coming to age movie for Harley Quinn, but Birds of Prey also introduced to the screen some very important characters to this DC Universe. The Huntress was the classic story of an anti-hero whose family was executed by the mob and she needs to get her revenge. Detective Renee Montoya was a woman cop working in a man’s police station not getting the respect she deserved. She had to prove herself.

Black Canary was a legacy hero. Her mom was a hero before she died and Black Canary was a good person trying to survive without following in her mom’s footsteps. To round up the gang was Cassandra Cain, the little pickpocket that everyone in Gotham was after. The thing I liked about these characters is that except for Cassandra Cain all the characters stayed close to DC book continuity. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, and Jurnee Smollett Bell were excellent in their portrayal of the characters from the book.

Every comic book movie follows the same formula that a good villain makes a good movie. Ewan McGregor as Black Mask filled that tall order. The right amount of gangster and crazy made Black Mask an unpredictable villain which is what is needed for an unpredictable lead such as Harley Quinn. As a villain, Black Mask didn’t come alone. Chris Messina played the slice and dice villain Victor Zsasz and the main right-hand man to Black Mask. At some point in this movie, they seem to allude to the two stars having more than just a working relationship.

Had this been explored it may have added a new dynamic to the movie. In Birds of Prey, DC/Warner Bros. kept the characters close to the source material. Mostly all the characters had close ties to their comic book selves. In previous movies, this did not seem to be the concern. That narrative seems to have changed for the better. Making Black Canary a legacy hero and Huntress a long thought dead mobsters’ daughter out for revenge where great nods to the source material.

Since this was not the original Birds of Prey like in the comics that started with Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Black Canary I must admit I walk in nervous about this getting messed up. I wanted Oracle because in my mind you can’t have a Birds of Prey team without her. I was proven wrong. A big relief was not putting the Jared Leto Joker in this movie. They told a story with the Joker in it without using the actual character. Let’s face it, Jared Leto’s Joker was probably the worst part of Suicide Squad but to be honest if this article was not about that movie, we could definitely find other worst things.

Did I mention there was a hyena just like in the DC Injustice video game? How cool is that? What I didn’t like was the handling of the Cassandra Cain character. In the comics she was an assassin who’s fighting prowess was only second to Lady Shiva and Batman. Cassandra Cain was also mute and had to learn how to communicate through speech because her main form of communication was to read the body language of others. This was slightly disappointing not to be able to watch her fight and be reduced to the whiny kid in need of being rescued.

Another big miss was not using the Poison Ivy character. In comics and in the DC Universe cartoon series the two are the best of friends. This is a miss that should be corrected in the next Harley Quinn movie that comes out. Come on, you know there’s got to be another. When I first heard of this movie coming, I was not looking forward to it. I honestly thought it was going to be trash. I never thought I would be writing this review in this way but so far in 2020 Birds of Prey is the movie to see. Don’t read the bad reviews, do what I did and make up your own mind about this movie. But please go see it.

While you’re at it you can see how they put a pet hyena in the movie and made it work. Never seen anything like that.

Kenny Walker Jr

Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker or Was It?

Yup, there are spoilers in this article so if you haven’t seen the movie and plan on doing so and don’t want it spoiled then stop now. Come back after you’ve seen the movie.

Let’s be clear. The main thing I was looking for in this whole final trilogy was the only thing missing in the first two episodes: The return of Lando Calrissian. I got my wish seeing Billy D Williams flying through space in the Millennium Falcon braving the odds in a daring rescue. You would think I would have been satisfied with that but that just wasn’t enough.

Rise of Skywalker has been weighed down with good reviews, bad reviews and so-so reviews. I’ve talked to quite a few people who have seen it and I’ve gotten a lot of mixed response. I’m not going to tell you this was a bad movie or a good movie. That’s for you to decide. I’m going to point out some points of this movie that either I loved, bothered me or left me with more questions. That’s where I am with Rise of Skywalker – mentally I don’t know where to put it.

I must start with the elephant in the room. What the hell was it that Finn was going to tell Rey? We are all left to wonder because that was a plot devise that never saw a resolution. The romantic in me would like to believe he was going to express feeling for her. A fan favorite theory is that he was going to tell her that he too has a little of the force in him. Sadly, we will never know since the director choose to leave that in the movie and not on the cutting room floor where I believe it belonged. Don’t try to finish a trilogy with an unanswered issue.

But let’s talk about Rey’s love life or the non-existence of one. Daisy Ridley’s Rey was never quite given a love interest. From the start I thought that Rey and Finn would make a unique couple in that she was more of the hero than he was, but he started off posing for her it seems to get her attention. From the start they had a connection where they looked out for each other and cared for the others well-being. Her relationship with Kylo Ren was somewhat different in that they shared a unique bond that neither could explain. It was never thought to be a romantic connection.

I honestly thought her secret origin would make her his sister or cousin. Turns out that she is the yin to his yang and that they are destined to join  together to sacrifice themselves as one to aid Palpatine’s rise to power. What looked totally uncomfortable to me was that dying kiss. Where the hell did that come from? I’m waiting for Finn to pledge his love for her then all the sudden she’s lip locking the guy that’s been trying to kill everybody for three movies. But let’s not forget the tension that began with Rey and Po.

This was borderline reminisce of the banter between Han and Leia. It was only borderline because let’s face it you can’t duplicate the chemistry between a Carrie Fisher Princess Leia and a Harrison Ford Han Solo. Can’t be done. Although you didn’t have time for such a thing because it wasn’t set up in the previous two movies, the missed opportunity was the potential love triangle.Speaking of missed opportunities, you already killed Han, Luke and potentially Leia for obvious reasons, but the missed opportunity was to go complete circle with the entire original cast.

At one point everyone thought Chewy was dead and I would have stuck to that idea. Now, you might say, Chewy going out like that would have been lame but not every hero goes down in a blaze of glory. Sometimes it’s the simple unexpected deaths in a battle will make the death that much more real. The simple death means it can happen anytime anywhere and not in some grand finale or fashion. C3PO had a larger part than in the previous two installments seemingly making a grand sacrifice for the Resistance. His memory was wiped, and he was not the same droid that they had come to love.

However, this sacrifice was minimized by R2D2 who had the back up memories of his fellow droid friend. I think the story would have been better with the memory wipe of C2PO and then his destruction and somehow the destruction of R2D2 along with the death of Chewy. The whole premise and feeling of out with the old and in with the new to continue the fight would have been more meaningful if all the old warriors had sacrificed in one final battle. And Lando? Well you must have one old timer to tell the youngsters how things were done.

I’m still looking for clarification on exactly what that kiss was all about.

The whole Palpatine thing I did not see coming. Not sure who’s ass they pulled that one out of, but it would have come off better if it was something built up to in the first two movies of the trilogy. The explanation is relation to Rey is the only thing that made it remotely work if at all. Ultimately, it was probably a better plot twist then making Rey a Skywalker or a Solo as a lot of us suspected. Rey taking the name of Skywalker at the very end in place of Palpatine is what seals the meaning of the title of the film. Originally, before Carrie Fisher’s death, Leia was meant to be the last Skywalker that rises at the end.

I like this ending better because it was unpredictable. Like his grandfather before him, Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo put aside the ways of the dark side and fought on the side of good. The movie starts with Kylo Ren on a path of destruction that would do his grandfather proud. But there is a traitor in his mist feeding information to the Resistance. Unceremoniously, that traitor is revealed to be General Hux who put himself in this role for no other reason than his hatred for Kylo Ren. This revelation catches you by surprise not so much for who is revealed as the traitor but the forced way it was done throwing any thespian studies by the actor out the window.

After letting Finn and his crew escape, Hux is easily revealed as a traitor and executed. That simple. Adam Driver does an awesome Kylo Ren/Ben Solo who is angst at the world and has no idea on who to direct his anger management issues towards. That has been his go to for three movies and it works for him until the very undecisive end. “Am I a bad boy? Am I a good boy? We don’t know but I’m not changing this look on my face regardless. Now kiss me before I die”.

Can anyone explain the reason behind this kiss?

Heartwarming and what I call one of the best scenes in the whole movie is Chewbacca’s reaction to the death of Leia. He drops to his knees and gives a whaling cry at the news of the death of another dear friend. He is comforted with a sincere “I’m sorry Chewy”. This little scene makes up for the way Chewy and Leia walked by each other when Han was killed. You would have thought they would have been all over each other crying, but no. Cool new characters were introduced but there was so much going on and so much to tie up in this movie that you really couldn’t focus and give them too much back story.

Well there was the character of Jannah who was awkwardly confronted by Lando on her origins and when she confessed on not knowing where she was from Lando’s reply was “Well let’s find out”. Because on a final installment of a trilogy you want to leave a cliffhanger. Who knows that could be a Disney + series in the making called Let’s Find Out Where This Mysterious Character That No One Really Cares About Comes From.

Companion book material of the movies reveals her to be the long-lost daughter of Lando. I totally hate that idea and cringe at the possibilities. Meanwhile, as you introduce new characters, Rose is placed in the background. She survives the movie but in Rise of Skywalker she is not part of the close friend group that is Rey, Finn and Po that you would expect her to be.

But that kiss though.

Rise of Skywalker is very entertaining as far as action. At times when the plot was thinner than paper we were rewarded with great action. We were moved to different planet locations and gratuitous action scenes to make up for the lack of plot and forgotten plot points of the previous movies. Except for a few lulls like the reveal of Rey’s past which was almost a sleeper, we were on a fast track to wrap up a saga that started over 40 years ago.

I’m going to go on record as not saying whether Rise of Skywalker was good or bad but perhaps different. The anticipation of waiting over 40 years to get to an end that, honestly, I don’t recall anyone ever asking for can lead to certain expectations. Expectations that can not be lived up to no matter who was writing or directing the project. So, I’m going to remain indifferent and like parts of the movie and cringe at other parts. Ignore the missed opportunities and welcome the new ideas.

I’m going to wait until Rise of Skywalker comes to Disney + and watch it repeatedly until I understand that damn kiss.

Kenny Walker Jr


There was a time when comic book shows in multimedia were far and in between. Comic nerds and superhero fans were starving for entertainment other than what was on the pages at their local comic store. There might be one TV show with a guy in a mask one season and another with a lady with a lasso a few years later but that’s all you got. Then you may get one major motion picture with a guy in a cape and two decades later get another movie about a superhero vampire but that was your limit. Yup the pickings were slim.

When comic book heroes started showing up in serials in the 1930s. Flash Gordon, Shazam, Batman and Superman all came to life for about 15 minutes leaving you with a cliffhanger until the next episode. Another popular medium, radio, where every week you can hear the adventures of Buck Rogers and Dick Tracey. With a TV in the 1950s, your home was visited by The Lone Ranger and Superman. As decades past you had a very campy Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and yes, we had a Hulk. To satisfy our lack of live action we had some of the best classic cartoons. From Marvel superheroes in the 1960s to the Superfriends of the 1970s to G.I. Joe in the 1980s to the X-Men of the 1990s our Saturday mornings and after school schedules was set.

Then something happened. The late 1990s Sony Spiderman movies became a hit. Over in TV land, Smallville, a show about Superman’s beginnings ran for 10 seasons. Then Batman Begins and so starts the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Marvel launches the MCU with Iron Man and from there the industry blew up. Superheroes are everywhere.

There are currently about 16 comic books inspired live-action shows on TV with four more starting next month in June. There are at least 8 comic book inspired movies due out in 2018. These numbers do not include the countless cartoons and kid shows based on comic books and superheroes in general.

The question we now need to ask ourselves is: Has the industry oversaturated the fanboys and girls with the comic book world?

The recent cancellation of Marvel TV’s Inhumans it may signal that this superhero boom may be over. Although Marvel put a decent push for Inhumans by releasing the pilot in IMAX it did not go over well with the fans. It was perceived as too campy compared to the MCU that fans have been used to getting. On top of that, the fate of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D seems to be a little uncertain. Yes, the CW seems to be going strong with their line up of superhero and comic book shows every night which all have basically been renewed for next year but of all the shows Arrow which was the flagship show that started it all is at the bottom of the ratings. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War have topped the box office this year with millions but our payoff for Infinity War is a year away. Will the fans wait that long, or will the attention move elsewhere?

In some respect, you can say that it feels like the industry makers are taking our love for superheroes too far and not giving us the quality that we are used to. Just stick a cape on it and the people will buy it. There’s no need for quality, compelling storyline or character development when you know there will be ticket sales and viewers based on the superhero content. Netflix’s Jessica Jones might have been that show to display this. Overall this Marvel Netflix outing was not up to par with previous shows almost like it was rushed to get the product out to the fans. DC is coming out with its own streaming service called DC Universe in 2018. Set previews of its upcoming show, Titans, has not been sitting well with fans. Already there’s debate about whether this first live action Titans will live up to its comic book predecessor.

The remainder of 2018 promises some awesome things in movie, TV, and streaming. It’s up to us the audience to determine if we are still fans. It’s up to us to determine if we just want to see our favorite characters on the screen regardless of the content. The superhero genre is still booming but whether it’s waning a bit remains to be seen. There are some great plans for comic book superheroes on the big and small screens even past 2020 but the question is will this genre stand the test of time.

Kenny Walker Jr

Joker: The Review

Make no mistake, this is not your daddy’s Joker. If you walk in the theater looking for a Batman based action movie you will be a victim of disappointment. If you think you’re going to see a movie where the bad guy is looking to kill everyone and rule the world, you came to the wrong show. If you expect big CGI scenes, henchmen and a lot of action fight scenes then you wasted your money on a ticket.

This is the movie about the psychological spiral downfall of a single man. The Joker. This is a psychotic thriller.

Let me start by saying that Joaquin Phoenix was awesome as Arthur Fleck who would eventually become The Joker. He should definitely get an Oscar nod for his performance. Just when we all thought no one could play the Joker after Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix proves us wrong. As Arthur Fleck, Phoenix plays a man who works as a clown and lives with his mother.

Arthur also suffers from a disorder that makes him laugh uncontrollably at the most awkward times. Phoenix takes you on a journey as the title character whose life slowly falls apart taking a man who is already on the brink completely over the edge. Phoenix develops this eerie pain-stricken laugh for the character’s condition that will make you sympathize with his plight because he honestly makes it look like it hurts.

And yes, I said sympathize. His downward spiral has you rooting for him and then you realize that you are routing for the killer. That is why Joaquin Phoenix deserves an award for this performance. Going in the first thing you need to do is take past interpretations of the character out of you head. You’re going to get a better Joker than Jared Leto without a doubt but a different Joker than Jack Nicholson.

You’re going to see a hint of Heath Ledger and not a bit of Cesar Romero. My indifference with this movie is in the script. When we meet Arthur Fleck, he is already seeing a therapist and on meds for his condition. We meet a socially inept loser who is down on his luck and gradually getting worse. My problem with that is that when he finally did snap and go full on Joker it wasn’t a big leap. I barely saw the snap.

I think the story would have had more impact if Arthur Fleck had been more of a normal guy. Imagine life taking a man with no pre-existing conditions and turning him into a psychotic killer. Even though Joaquin Phoenix stood out in the title role and dominated the film, his supporting cast did well in holding their own.

Robert De Niro as the talk show host Murray Franklin and Zazie Beetz as the neighbor/imaginary girlfriend Sophie Dumond were outstanding support. However, another stand out was Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur’s mother. Her character is one of the main reasons that snaps Arthur into the Joker because of her own mental illness and the lies that she had her son believe all his life.

But how do you make a movie about a famous fictional villain and his road to villainy without putting worse characters in the film that make him go bad. Brett Cullen’s Thomas Wayne was that character for this movie. Sorry folks but this movie makes Batman’s dad out to be the biggest dick there is. And spoiler alert, the fateful moment that makes Bruce Wayne an orphan you have a hard time feeling sorry for the Wayne’s fate.

Yeah, the Joker was a psychotic killer, but this guy was a genuine everyday ass that you had no problem seeing getting shot at the end. I guess that’s what happens when you tell the story from the other side. As the reviews come in some people loved this movie and others hated it. I’m indifferent because although I didn’t like the script and the way it moved, I thought the acting was superb. So, I guess this is less of a review and more telling you what to expect going in.

This isn’t your typical comic book movie. And I’m curious as to what you think about it.

Kenny Walker Jr

Hobbs and Shaw: A Long Way From Street Racing

At some point since the Fast and Furious franchise began, it went from being about fast cars and racing to a superhero/James Bond theme. In 8 movies, street racers went from the hood to saving the world from terrorist.

And that’s what got us to The Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs and Shaw.

I approached this movie the wrong way. I wasn’t ready to accept it. There was no Dom, Lettie or any of the usual suspects to be seen in any part of this so how did they make this become part of the franchise. This movie starred two late comers to the franchise that weren’t even street racers.

I was annoyed. I wanted the old formula on which the franchise was built on without realizing that formula had long gone out the window. In a conversation with my son, who was 9 when the franchise started and has seen all the movies, I was told the harsh reality. “Dad” he said, “these movies haven’t been about street racing and cars since the 3rd installment.”

I had to pause for a minute then I thought to myself “dam-it he’s right”. See, I was fooling myself. Even thought the movies had a lot of racing up until the 5th installment they were still about a bigger picture. They were righting wrongs and taking down drug lords with there own form of street justice.

Then in the 6th installment they were hired by the government to take down a terrorist group that used fast cars because of course you get racers to catch racers. Which had the team fighting villains in British subways and taking down massive airplanes…… with cars. I missed the farfetched in that I suppose.

In the 7th installment the black ops brother of the previous installment’s villain was after the team for revenge, so they had to take him down before he killed the whole group. This had the team using cars to jump from an airplane, from building to building in Abu Dhabi and fighting a militant assassin group.

A long way from fellow street racers and drug lords. In the 8th installment, the team are using cars on ice to match a submarine and teaming up with the villains from 6 and 7 to help take down a world terrorist. So yeah, the franchise has steered a long way from its roots into a different entity and I was still believing this was about cars and street racing. Fooling myself.

With Hobbs and Shaw focusing on two late comers to the franchise that have nothing to do with street racing, I was unaccepting. When Hobbs and Shaw took on a literally super powered cyborg attached to a world domination organization, I was still looking for street racing instead of what I should have been in the theatre for: having fun.

Once I took my son’s advice and looked at the movie from that perspective, my world changed along with my review of this movie. As per title, this franchise spin off was focused on the characters Hobbs and Shaw. Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was brought to the franchise in Fast and Furious 5 as a law man sent to bring in Vin Diesel’s Dom and Paul Walker’s O’Connor.

By the end of the movie, they team up to fight a common enemy and Hobbs gives Dom and O’Connor’s team a head start before he tries to capture them again. In the 6th installment, Hobbs does come to them but not to arrest them but to ask for help tracking an international terrorist that uses fast cars in their crimes. The payment was pardons.

Of course, they take the deal and win their freedom. This leads to installments 7th bad guy Deckard Shaw, Jason Statham, coming after the team for revenge of his brother’s capture. In the 8th installment the Shaw brothers are both used to help the team defeat a common villain in a sense becoming good guys. This spin off has Hobbs and Deckard Shaw forced to team up by their governments to defeat another common villain.

Hobbs and Shaw is an action adventure comedy that uses the much-used plot device of a buddy movie where the “buddies” don’t get along. Johnson and Statham spend most of the movie arguing and fighting each other before coming together to defeat villain Brixton Lore played by Idris Elba. The undeniable chemistry between these two leading men made the movie work.

Of course, they can pull off the action scenes, but the comedic parts were pulled off just as well. The two were also joined by Vanessa Kirby who played Shaw’s sister, Hattie. The typical corny bravado lines that action stars do worked well in this movie once you consider the source and take the movie for what it is. You’re not coming to this movie for great acting, great mystery or an intricate plot.

You walk in this movie to have fun and see off the wall action stunts and that’s what you get. Rounded off with cameos by Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds, you get a starstudded actionpacked fun movie. Idris Elba’s turn as a villain was worth it. His introducing line was a very cheesy “I’m the bad guy” which set you up from the start at the dialogue you can expect.

Nothing to deep or tense really but for this movie it worked. As I said before, I took this movie too seriously and focused on the let downs which I still must mention. One of them being the full disconnect from the main franchise. I thought that Johnson and Statham could make any action movie that had nothing to do with Fast and Furious.

The only connection besides the characters being the same from the franchise is that they briefly mention they have a past from the franchise at the beginning of the movie. I was expecting a cameo from Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Tyrese, or Michelle Rodriguez. However, with the beef between the stars from working together on the previous movies that was not going to happen. To me it is spoiled rich stars being spoiled rich stars on both sides of the beef.

Other let downs were the chemistry that wasn’t there in the forced romance between Hobbs and Hattie Shaw. Johnson and Kirby had zero scene love chemistry. But for as big a movie draw as he is when have we known Johnson to have good romantic chemistry in any film. Let down and big fail was the time change in the ending battle scene. Without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen it, you time how long dawn turns to day.

It’s actually a good laugh that I’m sure wasn’t meant to be. Yes, the spin off is a long way from Dom and O’Connor solving their problems with fast cars. Yes, this movie is more like an action adventure comedy James Bond film rolled into one. And yes, you should go see it. Don’t think too hard about the plot and go to have fun and you will.

Kenny Walker Jr

Brightburn: Evil Shines

Brightburn made no secret about being Superman plus the Omen, and still managed to throw twists to the audience. Brightburn paid homage to Superman throughout the film. After his ship crashes at a Farmhouse, the alien baby, named Brandon Breyer is raised by loving parents who were battling infertility.

Fitting the theme of evil Superman, Brightburn warps a few recurring Superman themes, while adding the thrills of horror and slasher films. In Brightburn, Brandon Breyer’s lifts a truck like the iconic Action Comics, except he drops the truck on the street as a murderous act. He toys with his Uncle as the uncle flashes the lights, Brandon is on the ground, flashes again, this time he is levitating, then gone.

He picks up the truck and drops it, his jaw breaks off against steering wheel. This gruesome scene was the first instance of Brandon cutting his family ties. Throughout the film the audience learns more about Brandon Breyer’s “gifts.” He proves to be exceptionally smart while discussing the difference between wasps and bees in the classroom.

This class discussion foreshadows much of the film to come. Brandon describes the wasps as aggressive predators, which he soon becomes. The hive mind also hints at the power of the spaceship and it’s ability to control Brandon Breyer. It is also disclosed that Brandon has never been sick, never bruised or bled.

As he reaches puberty, his 12th birthday, the spaceship begins pulsating and communicating causing him a seizure. After the seizure, he wakes up and jumps out his window, hitting the ground. In the next scene, he moves at superspeed, showing no signs of damage as he heads toward the barn. His mother finds him yanking at the trap door storing his spaceship.

Brandon has seemingly blacked out. The next day he throws the lawnmower like a football. As he investigates the mower, he slides his hand between the rotating blade, breaking the blade. By this point it has been revealed that Brandon Breyer is smarter than most, apparently invincible with superhuman speed and strength.

So, it comes as no surprise later in the film when Brandon announces his superiority to the guidance counselor, his aunt. Brandon Breyer’s perversion leads him to become a superhuman stalker and serial killer. After an anticlimactic birds and bees talk, Brandon takes his father’s advice about giving into his urges.

So that night he flies into his crush’s bedroom, starts playing a song on his crush’s laptop, then using his superspeed to appear ghostly as he opens the laptop and starts the music again after she closes it. She saw him in the blinds, but as she called for her mom, he flew out the window. The next day she calls him a pervert in gym class, so he grotesquely breaks her hand and arm.

After this incident, his mom, Tori, admits the truth about his origin to Brandon. He does not handle this well and is now one step closer to becoming Brightburn. He arrives at his crush’s house and delivers a chilling message then proceeds to attack her mother at the restaurant. In true horror fashion, he leaves the Brightburn symbol all over the glass.

Then breaks glass lighting above her head so glass shard gets in her eye. With one eye seeing completely red, the scene has a horror feel as he uses super speed to scare his prey. Finally, she locks herself in fridge, prompting him to use laser vision then super strength to rip open the door. The police declare her missing, as Brightburn has relocated her and performed a dissection.

The beginning of the end of Brandon Breyer occurs in a scene that eerily felt like the pivotal scene in the Walking Dead when Rick Grimes kills his best friend Shane. Kyle, Brandon’s father, accepted their son’s evil ways before his wife, so he decided it was his responsibility to end Brandon’s reign of terror.

As Brandon looks at deer tracks, Kyle cocks back the hunting rifle and fires it directly into the back of Brandon’s head, the impact does no damage. Brightburn is truly born in this moment, he flies around, taunting his dad then knocks him over, and proceeds to shoot eye beams through Kyle’s head and skull.

Brightburn starts with Tori, Brandon’s mom, playing hide and seek by whistling before school, and he pops out in the barn behind a barrel of hay, setting up the ending of the movie. The last time Tori can reach her son, Brandon occurs when he is again drawn to his spaceship, repeating a phrase, “Take the world.”

The birth of Brightburn culminates as Tori calls Kyle to warn him about the pictures she saw, but Brandon answers while levitating above the house. Brightburn starts ramming the house while she calls 911. As they arrive Birghtburn flies through the sheriff, very similar to a scene in the Boys. Then violently flies up and down slamming other cops head into the ceiling then throws her into room where mom is hiding.

Whistling as he looks for Tori, Brandon Breyer has fully transformed to Brightburn, and his mother finally realizes she must try to end his reign of terror. She sneaks outside the window, then runs to the spaceship. She grabs a piece of the ship and starts whistling. She coaxes him into a hug and goes to stab him, but he catches her arm. Flies her through the roof into the stratosphere then drops her.

Killing his connection to humanity, and thus his humanity. Instead of saving a plane about to crash like Superman, Brightburn forces a plane to crash into his childhood home to cover up the deaths at his superhuman hands. Brightburn does a great job of interweaving the horror, slasher, and superhuman genres.

Brightburn was full of amazing visuals, from the ominous scenes of him floating in the window of his aunts house to the talented artwork he drew documenting his crimes, and his future goals; such as him floating about Earth and his eye beams to blow it up, and another with skeletons in a burning Earth underneath him.

This film becomes even more tantalizing at the end. The end credits display a few news reports with Brightburn destroying an office building, floating above a forest fire, then his Brightburn symbol as a crop circle. Then, a conspiracy theorist by the name of Big T screams about the government hiding the truth about Brightburn.

Then drops the bombshell of other super villains. As he mentions a half man, half sea creature destroying ships, a creature with glowing green eyes is shown. The conspiracy theorist also mentions a being that chokes men with ropes and chords, perhaps this universe’s evil versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

On the screen behind Big T, there is a red costume with yellow emblem, presenting a twist to build fans excitement. That suit belongs to the Crimson Avenger, the main character from ‘Super.” Also, the name of the restaurant Brightburn attacked was named, Darbo’s.

The main character from Super’s name, Frank Darbo, a vigilante with the aggression and penchant for violence of Batman, without the brains and fortune. Brightburn’s ending opened the door for the first Super Villain focused cinematic universe, posing the question, “Will evil aliens Take the World?”

Mike Hoff

Hush: Don’t Mention This Movie Exists

The DC universe has done it again. If their goal is to let down their fanbase, they have been on fire. More realistically, they are playing cash grab, trying to catch up to the MCU. Hush is one of the most revered Batman story arcs, just like the Killing Joke, and just as they did with the Killing Joke, they ruined a fan favorite.

If they keep this up, the LEGO comic book universe will be the MCU’s closest competitor. Hush, the animated movie, followed some of the story. Batman tries to catch Batwoman in the opening scene, but his Batarang line is cut, causing him to free fall and resulting in a brain injury. In the opening scene in the comics, Killer Croc is the villain Batman and Catwoman converge upon, whereas the movie chose to use Bane.

The casual DC fans would be more familiar with Bane than Killer Croc, so there is a certain profit-based logic, but it does not add to the story. But at least that only didn’t add to the story, compared to other alterations which ruined this animated adaptation. The animated movie again stuck to the source material in the Batman versus Superman fight.

Poison Ivy was able to put Superman under her spell with Kryptonite lipstick, then used him as a weapon against Batman and Catwoman. This scene was a rare bright spot. Batman using the Kryptonite gloves and running in lead lined tunnels to counteract Superman’s superhuman strength advantage always appeases Batman fans.

The Batman and Catwoman love storylines intrigued readers since its inception, Hush the movie capitalized on this to the “Umph” degree. The audience went “Umph” when this story about the manipulation and betrayal at the hands of childhood best friend became that love story. Fans probably would have been happier if it ended in the wedding of Batman and Catwoman than they were with this movie’s twist(ed) ending.

Introduce Dr. Thomas Elliot, like the comic, the fans are introduced to Thomas Elliot as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend to operate on Bruce Wayne. The scenes between Bruce and Thomas were supposed to set up an emotionally driven reveal, instead, they turned it into another tragedy caused by Bruce Wayne being Batman.

In the comic, Joker looks guilty of killing Thomas Elliot, and Batman almost breaks his code as he brutally beats the Joker then almost stabs him to death. The animated movie closely followed this scene, then turned the entire story on its head. The animated movie decided to kill off Thomas Elliot, it was not another of Hush’s ploys.

In the comics, this scene was staged, as it is finally revealed, Hush was Thomas Elliot. This emotional impact of this personal betrayal is one of the main reasons Hush goes down as one of Batman’s best stories. Another missing emotional piece to this puzzling movie, was the absence of the Clayface as Jason Todd scene.

This scene was absent due to continuity issues, as Jason Todd is not a part of their DC animated universe. But the scene in the comics where Batman confronts Jason Todd was one of the most pivotal scenes of this story arc. Instead of drawing the fans in with this scene, they foreshadow a decision that would make Batman fans squirm and dissociate from this animated film.

Hush, the animated movie decided to put their own twist on the surprise ending, and The Riddler revealed as Hush. Their apparent logic comes from the very end of the comic when Batman visits The Riddler at Arkham Asylum. While their reasoning makes sense, it completely ruins the impact of the reveal, and thus the movie in its entirety.

Hush, the animated movie, another DC movie let down. DC animated movies, such as Under the Red Hood stuck to the source material and was a hit amongst DC fans and blew Marvel animated movies out of the water. DC comic fans want their favorite comics to come to life whether live-action or animated, however, they will stop spending their hard-earned dollars if DC continues to butcher some of its best storylines.

Hush is a movie no Dc fan will recommend to another, diehard or casual. With movies like the Killing Joke and Hush, it is getting harder to be excited for any future DC animated projects. Here’s to hoping there is a major twist in the DC production team so Dc fans will once again be proud to discuss their favorites story arcs come to life on the big or silver screen.

Mike Hoff

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review – The Undiscovered Gem of 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold was a very funny and entertaining family movie and you should definitely go see it whether you have kids or not. Now I could stop there and leave it to you to see this movie, but I want to backup my words here.

I’m not going to lie. When I heard of this movie coming out, I was not impressed and thought that this would be a joke. Then I saw the trailer. This looked like nothing but fun and adventure and I was right. Isabela Moner as teenage Dora was casting gold. She was Dora in every way.

Her perkiness and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is exactly what you would expect from a live action Dora. She even had wide eyed blank stare like she was born for the role. This movie portrayed Dora grown in her teen years coping with learning how to live in the city away from the jungle and interacting with kids her own age instead of jungle animals.

Moving to the city, Dora is reunited with her cousin Diego, played by Jeff Wahlberg, who moved to the city 10 years earlier. Dora’s adjustment is hard and sometimes embarrassing for Diego in school. The characters naïve approach to the outside world is what keeps this movie close to its source material. It keeps the content pure. Moner is perfect in this capacity.

You can’t praise Moner’s Dora without giving recognition to the young version of Dora played by Madelyn Miranda. You would have thought they used this young actress as the prototype for the animation. The other main characters play well off Moner’s Dora. Fan favorite Michael Pena and Eva Longoria play Dora’s father and mother.

Of course, this is a much larger role than we are used to seeing Dora’s parents in the animated show. Pena adds his own style of quirky humor that he is known for that stands up in this feature. Dora’s new school friends Randy, played by Nicholas Coombe, and Sammy, played by Madeleine Madden, are along for the adventure with Dora’s cousin Diego, Wahlberg.

Coombe’s Randy is the nerdy kid in school that gets bullied and does not have a lot of friends while Madden’s Sammy is the bossy smart girl that no one can stand. Yes, all characters we have seen before which is normally hackneyed and annoying but these two are a lot more likeable then your run of the mill. Wahlberg’s Diego is a character that is not like the animated.

This Diego is 10 years older and grew up in the big city. He’s different now. Diego shows a contrast of what Dora would have been like if she had grown up in the city. Diego had to lose some of the childhood innocence to survive. Never fear though, Diego comes around to back his cousins play when it is most needed.

Eugenio Derbez played Alejandro Gutierrez who joins Dora’s adventure under a ruse that he is a friend of her parents when he is actually the lead villain. You kind of see this coming as an adult watching this movie but you really didn’t come to a Dora Explorer movie looking for an intricate plot. Derbez does an excellent job of providing a threat for our heroes but not too threatening as to scare the young audience.

Another character worth mentioning is Boots, Dora’s best friend and monkey. Boots was a CGI creation that added so much to this movie. Boots was voiced by Danny Trejo and this was not only a scene stealer but the funniest moment in the film. One of the best parts of this movie was the tongue in cheek humor. The script and the actors played up to the nuances of the animations.

Dora breaking the fourth wall to talk to her audience, Dora pulling random things out of her backpack and even Dora putting actual red boot on her friend monkey, Boots were all nods to the animation. There were a few scenes where Moner’s Dora would give that wide eyed blank stare and the scene was set up for specific reactions from other characters as if to say this is what would happen in the real world if a girl looks at you the way Dora does throughout her whole episode. And the reactions were hilarious.

If I had one complaint about this movie it would have to be Swiper the Fox. Yes, he is a big part of the Dora universe but had a CGI fox with a mask running around for some added comic relief. Swiper the Fox was in an imaginary sequence in the beginning of the movie when Dora and Diego were kids and you assumed that was all you were getting for nostalgia sake.

However, Swiper was made real as he was part of the bandit of bad guys after Dora whose main job was, you guessed it, to swipe the map. I know this was based on a kid cartoon and not to be taken serious with a bit of the unbelievable but having a talking fox walking around on his hind legs wearing a mask and acting human was a bit much. Funny but much.

As this is the tail end of 2019, I would put Dora and the Lost City of Gold as one of the best movies I have seen this year. So far. Dora did not need a map to find a fan in me. I am eagerly awaiting a follow up and will have to add this to my dvd collection.

Kenny Walker Jr