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Out This Week (In The US): The Killing Joke, Supergirl, A Hologram for the King & more

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Batman: The Killing Joke – I know a lot of people were excited when they heard that seminal Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke was being adapted into a DC Animated movie. After all, DC has dobe a terrific job of adapting some great storylines so far. But early reviews have not been kind, and while the film isn’t as bad as you might have heard, it’s not as good as you want it to be, either. The main problem with it is the first half hour to forty minutes is all completely new material – and it isn’t very good. There’s something creepy about father-figure Batman and Jim Gordon’s daughter Batgirl having sex. Ewww. Once the film gets to the graphic novel itself, it does a masterful job of adapting the classic story. I wish they had found a way to flesh out the running time without making the first half of the film so bad.

A Hologram For The King – Tom Hanks stars in this charming dramedy about a divorced salesman trying to pitch a holographic communications device to the king of Saudi Arabia — who may or may not ever show up to see the pitch. It’s not exactly high concept material, but Hanks is in fine form and the ensemble cast is likable. The story doesn’t really accomplish much, but it’s not about plot, it’s about characters. I found this film very enjoyable, even if it’s not the kind of thing that will probably get people excited.

Mother’s Day – Okay, I don’t think anyone was clamouring for another movie in the vein of Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day, but we got one anyway. However, as directed by the late, great Garry Marshall, it’s a perfectly fine ensemble piece. With a heavyweight cast that includes Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Britt Robertson, and one of my favorites, Jason Sudeikis, the film is eminently watchable for what it is. I can’t say it’s going to win over people who have no interest in it, but I enjoyed it just fine.

Supergirl: Season 1 – Yes, Supergirl has its cheesy moments. And no, it’s not as good as The Flash, which for my money is one of the best shows on TV. But it has one secret ingredient that very few shows have: Melissa Benoist. Benoist is so charming, so delightful, so effervescent, and so beautiful that it seems clear that nobody else could have played Supergirl but her. And while the show definitely has some kinks to iron out in Season 2 (hopefully the move to The CW — where it belongs anyway — will facilitate that), I have to admit that I really became a fan throughout the course of the season. If you like superhero TV and don’t mind giving it a few episodes, Supergirl is definitely worth watching.

NCIS: New Orleans: Season 2 – I’ll be honest, I never thought NCIS was going to last a full season, let alone 13 or whatever seasons. To me, it just seemed like such a blatant rip-off of the then-scorching hot CSI franchise that I figured viewers would reject it in favor of the original forensics investigators. Shows what I know; NCIS has been a constant presence on the television landscape for ten years now. Which leads us to NCIS: New Orleans. Much as I like Scott Bakula, you can probably guess my reaction to this show. Yep, it’s more of the same. Just like I could never get into any of the CSI spin-offs beyond the original, I just can’t get into this show. It’s just a retread of the original show (which is a retread of CSI anyway) with a different cast. Oh well.

The Blacklist: Season 3 – Easily one of my favorite shows of the last few seasons, The Blacklist is so much better than it has any right to be. When I first saw the promos for it, I thought it looked intriguing. A master criminal turns himself in to the FBI but will only work with a specific rookie agent, for reasons unknown. Cool. And with James Spader in the lead role, I figured it would be pretty good. But The Blacklist is better than good; it’s fantastic. The show has so many more layers than you’d expect. What seems at first like it will be a villain-of-the-week show quickly revealed itself to have a number of mysteries that would keep you guessing. The third season really takes things in a new direction, with Elizabeth Keane becoming a fugitive. It’s intriguing, fun stuff.

Blindspot: Season 1 – A big hit for NBC, this show that is sort of a spiritual brethren to The Blacklist is an intriguing series. When a woman is dropped in Times Square naked and covered and tattoos (including the name of an FBI agent in ink), she has to try to solve the mystery of her identity and the mysterious tattoos. I really like Sullivan Stapleton in the co-lead role, and Jaime Alexander has finally found a role that suits her. The story keeps you guessing but reveals little pieces as it goes so you don’t get to frustrated. It’s worth a watch and I’m curious to see where Season 2 takes us.

Halt And Catch Fire: Season 2 – I’m a pretty fanatical television watcher. Once I latch on to a show, I’ll stick with it through several seasons of mediocrity before I’ll finally give something up. Which is what makes Halt and Catch Fire such an oddity for me. For the first few episodes I was completely hooked. Lee Pace is absolutely fantastic in the lead role, and Scoot McNairy is equally as terrific in the co-lead role. I was completely engrossed in this story about the dawn of the age of the PC revolution in the early 80s. But by the end of the first season, I was completely bored with it. I don’t know what happened. Part of my change in attitude comes from the ever-increasing role of Mackenzie Davis’s character, Cameron Howe. She’s such a cliched character — the talented but hostile and misunderstood genius — and I really don’t like her at all. It’s a shame, because I was really enjoying this show in the beginning, but it lost me. Sadly, Season 2 didn’t do much to win me back.

Scooby- Doo and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon – This is the latest direct-to-video Scooby animated movie. As somebody who grew up watching the original cartoons and has been a big fan ever since, I’m glad to see that Warner Brothers is committed to keeping the Scooby Doo brand fresh and current. That being said, maybe having WWE wrestlers becoming regular guest stars things a bit too far? Still, the movie does a pretty good job of working in current trappings while also keeping relatively true to the classic Scooby Doo feel and characters. There’s some great talent in the cast, including Matthew Lillard, Mindy Cohn, and Grey Delisle as well as wrestlers like The Undertaker. Despite not being a wrestling fan, I certainly enjoyed the film enough, and I’m sure kids will like it. It’s a classic Scooby Doo feel with a current vibe and setting to it.

Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • Code Black: Season 1 – I generally don’t like Marcia Gay Harden, and I generally don’t like medical dramas, so there was little chance that I was going to like Code Black. And I don’t, but only because it’s not my cup of tea and not because it’s a bad show. I mean, despite the fact that Luis Guzman plays a character named Mama, the show ticks all the boxes of an intense medical drama. It’s well-acted, well-written and should be good viewing for fans of shows like ER and Chicago Hope.
  • The Tunnel: Season 1 – I’m not sure if this show came out before or after FX’s terrible show The Bridge, but it’s certainly an improvement either way. When a dead body is discovered in the English Channel tunnel, a British inspector and a French detective must team up to stop a killer. I can’t say I was overwhelmed by it, but considering how much I hated The Bridge, this was a much more enjoyable watch. Stephen Dillane and Clemence Poesey are very good in the lead roles, and it’s a satisfying enough crime drama.
  • Silk Stockings – Available exclusively from the WB Archive at wbarchive.com, this classic musical stars Fred Astaire and Syd Charisse at their dancing best. Directed by the great Rueben Mamoulian and co-starring Peter Lorre, this is a great throwback to classic Hollywood, and the dance sequences shine in high definition. Astaire and Charisse’s chemistry is magical and whether you like musicals or not, this one is just fun to watch.
  • Line of Duty: Series 3 – Keeley Hawes returns in Line of Duty: Series 3, a critically acclaimed British series about cops under investigation for corruption. Dark, intense, and well-acted, this is one to check out for sure. British police dramas are second to none, and this one will be sure to keep any fans of crime-drama satisfied.
  • The American Side – Camilla Bell, Matthew Broderick, Robert Forster, Janeane Garofalo, and Robert Vaughn star in this intriguing drama/thriller. The film is a bit all over the place, with the pace rapidly changing from fast to slow, and the dialogue and acting occasionally brilliant and occasionally terrible. I can’t say I got sucked into the film the way I needed to, but I can’t say it was truly bad, either. It’s kind of just okay.
  • Last Days in the Desert and Peter: The Redemption – I don’t typically watch faith-based films, and I’m definitely not the target audience for these two movies. In Last Days in the Desert I was intrigued to see Ewan McGregor tackle the role of Jesus (although it’s never explicitly stated that that’s who he is) and he is quite good, even if the film isn’t quite to my tastes. Peter: The Redemption stars John Rhys Davies and Stephen Baldwin, and if the fact that Stephen Baldwin is in it isn’t enough to tell you what you need to know, I don’t know what is. I guess it’s not terrible if you’re looking for a solid Christian story, but I wasn’t impressed.
  • Marguerite – Also the subject of a recent film with Meryl Streep, this French film tells the story of Margeurite Dumont, a rich woman who loves to sing but is quite terrible at it. It’s a very interesting story (based on a true story) and not something I was familiar with before this. I enjoyed this film for the most part, and lead actress Catherine Frot is terrific, but it’s a lot to get through if you’re not interested in foreign movies.
  • The Tiger – I like movies about hunting quests, and this Korean film is exactly that. A lone hunter competes against nature and outside forces to hunt a semi-mythical tiger in this gorgeous film. It’s a bit too long at over two hours, but it’s nice to see an Asian film that isn’t just another period drama epic filled with thousands of warriors and bows and arrows.
  • The Rockford Files: Season 1 and Season 2 – I always thought James Garner’s Jim Rockford was a super cool detective. Laid back, handsome, and always on the case, you don’t get much better television from the 70s than The Rockford Files. While the show has been on DVD before, Mill creek brings us the first two seasons in separate DVD sets, now available for a budget price. Hard to argue with that.
  • A Monster With a Thousand Heads – Kind of an indie version of the Denzel Wahsington drama John Q, this movie tells the story of a woman who is forced to take desperate measures when her husband’s life-saving medical care is denied by his insurance company. There are no recognizable actors (to Americans at least) in this Spanish film, but the performances are very strong nonetheless.
  • Peppa Pig: Sunny Vacation – The popular British pig family returns in the summer-themed Peppa Pig: Sunny Vacation. Not my favorite kids show, but good enough for the younger ones, it’s cute enough to be endearing, I guess. This latest collection includes nine episodes plus an extra 15-minute special episode, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
  • 9 Months That Made You – Fasincating stuff, this. What happens inside your mother’s body as you are formed over the first nine months of your life? This PBS documentary uses incredible footage from inside the body to show you. I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know watching this, and even though I’m a bit squeamish at times, I found this incredibly interesting
  • Frontline: The Secret History of ISIS – This hour-long Frontline documentary aims to explain who ISIS is, how they came to be, and why they’re a threat to the US. I still don’t quite understand everything about ISIS, but I certainly have more of an understanding than I used to. This isn’t exactly pleasure viewing, but its great for educational purposes.
  • The Adventures of Panda Warrior – Want to watch Kung Fu Panda with Rob Schneider instead of Jack Black and minus all of the charm? Then low-budget knock-off The Adventures of Panda Warrior will fit the bill. To be fair, there are some plot differences, but the idea of a Panda Bear warrior is obviously derived from Kung Fu Panda, and it’s hard to get past that. Maybe the only good thing is that it’s geared for a slightly younger audience, so that’s something.
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One Comment

  1. I watched The Tiger last night. Clearly this guy didn’t because what he said isn’t true. The only thing he got right was that it’s a Korean film. It’s not about a lone hunter. It has an army in it hunting the tiger. This guy makes your site look bad. lol

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