Like a Cat Out of Hell

Apart from the first season of "Daredevil", "Jessica Jones" feels to me like the tightest of the Netflix Marvel shows. Before I started this season, I wondered about the extent to which I'd miss David Tennant, but the increased development of the supporting cast quickly made that irrelevant. The particular focus on Trish could probably have done that by itself. She's not that much better adjusted than Jess, but her flaws are displayed in a subtler way that allows her to flaunt her joyous side more often, which is essentially an inversion of Jessica's personal makeup. Double-J blazons her face with her issues and makes you work for any glimpse of optimism. The pair of them really go deep on the whole yin-yang dynamic, and they don't forget to include the two little dots.

For a while, I thought that Trish's role could only be improved with a bit of actual Hellcat action, but then things started to veer in that direction too.
ObutalsoJeri. I'm relishing the relentlessness with which she's written, and Carrie-Anne Moss's portrayal is executed with precision. I said that I enjoyed seeing the emphasis on Trish, but Jeryn Hogarth basically got her own independent and viscerally compelling story, and that really grabbed me. I seem to recall hearing some calls for a Night Nurse series about Claire Temple at some point, but I'd honestly prefer it if Jeri gradually just took over all the shows.

Bonus Question!

Purple Man versus Indigo Girls!

Battle for the cool side of the colour wheel!

The Purple Man definitely has significant psionic powers, but the Girls are wily. And they've got the numerical advantage. They get the win. Because why not.


The Latest Aardman

I knew even less about "Early Man" than I often do about a lot of movies I see. I'd barely looked at the poster. Still, an animated comedy about cavemen seemed like the sort of thing I'd see. But that brief glimpse I'd seen made me think that it was the standard digital animation. But no! When I got in, I discovered that it's from the same dudes who made "Wallace and Gromit", that timeless series that filled my childhood eyes at the gleeful direction of my father.

Like that show, the film featured some absurd inventions, though here it was less timely and more practical. A technological competiton between Wallace and the anachronistic antagonists of "Early Man" would probably be this week's bonus question, but I don't have an answer for it that isn't weighted by narrative necessity. I do think that "Early Man" has better fashion, though. It has cavemen with stylish animal prints and overlords with velvet and jewels. And birds in armour! With plumed helmets! That's bonus plumage!

On the other hand, Wallace, like the parent who introduced me to him,  just isn't willing to be properly clad.

Bonus Question!

Worst Wallace?

Shawn. I don't really have anything against the guy, but when I was  kid, I ignored my friend's fervent recommendation of "The Princess Bride" because I thought that he was a much bigger part of it. But then I saw it in the cinema in my 20s and discovered that it's basically just one scene.


Mazes and Mansions

There really didn't seem to be anything I wanted to see in theatres at the end of January. But then I noticed that delayed finale to the Maze Runner trilogy. I hadn't seen the first two, and I decided to catch up in preparation. The element that really stuck out to me was that Bran friend kid from "Game of Thrones". And I was thinking, "Wow, man. That kid's so young. He's doing all kinds of things. Serious momentum." But then I discovered that he's barely younger than I. My birthday's coming in midwinter, and he's a summer child. But like . . . I look pretty young despite the impendence of my 28th birthday. But this cat doesn't look to be in his early twenties. He doesn't even really look like a high school senior. So yeah. "Game of Thrones" got lucky with one of its child characters at least. At least they're not dealing with the Bruce Wayne of "Gotham". That production crew's probably having to pull some hobbit tricks to make that dude look juvenile. People must be standing on boxes all around him.

But as I was buying tickets, I happened to notice a new period horror movie with Helen Mirren, and I knew that I had to see that instead of the Maze thing. It's called "Winchester", but in my heart it's "Helen's Haunted House". I'm also choosing to assume that that was the working title.


Bonus Question!

Arkham Asylum versus Winchester Mansion! War of  sprawling supernatural architecture!


From what I gather, Winchester's ghosts were drawn to its inhabitants, but Arkham was built on a locus of some severely wicked voodoo. Arkham's victorious.


Babbling About Rabbits

Man. That "Peter Rabbit". I walked in to the theatre late, but I was just in time to catch a montage set to Len's "Steal My Sunshine". That song seems to steadily be resurging, and I'm deeply appreciative. I developed a love for it some years ago that far exceeded any regard I had for it when it was current. Which was . . . I don't know. I was probably 10 or something.

But this version turned out to be sung by birds with added details that referenced the plot.

Also. Maybe some people have been following Star Wars and thinking "Well, the Kylo-Rey romance is fine, I guess, but it's just not trashy enough for my tastes. I'm a human piece of garbage who yearns for sweet baby Rey to end up with the impotently irate ginger general Hux." If this is you, "Peter Rabbit" should be a treat. That's right. Gleeson and Ridley! Together at last! He's  not ginger here, though. But the rest is basically still intact.


Bonus Question!

Br'er versus Roger! Battle of the other two dudes with the surname Rabbit!

Roger. His extreme affinity for the magic of cartoon physics gives him a big edge.



I really seem to be getting into this habit of going to see spinoffs of horror franchises with which I'm entirely unfamiliar. I think that the first was that "Ouija" prequel, a lovely period piece. The previous one I saw was something with a doll. And I just watched the new "Insidious" film, which is apparently the midpoint between the first film and the prequel to the main series.

But I'm realising that I'm rather glad for the existence of big, supernatural horror franchises. I don't generally go to see them when anything  I really like is on, but the mere fact of their openly ghostly existence sweetens my soul.

The movie gave me some skewed reminiscence of "Ghostbusters". Those guys were scientists who dressed like exterminators. The equivalents in this dressed like office workers and acted like office workers who've been trying to organise a jam band after work for the last few months.


Bonus Question!

Keaton vs Poindexter! Battle of the Busters!


I'm giving it to Keaton. He seems more acrobatic. Flippy stuff.


I’ve heard some rumours about a new Crocodile Dundee movie. I don’t really know if they’re true, but I can see how they might be. I think that it might have to do with the recent success of the Thor franchise, boosted primarily by “Ragnarok”. Those are basically Dundee movies. You take a handsome, rugged Australian. In the first movie, he’s guided through a land that’s strange to him by a lady who’s lovely to him. In the second, he’s the one who’s doing the guiding in his homeland. In the third, everyone goes to a place that’s entirely foreign to everyone. In “Ragnarok”, it was the alien world of Sakaar. In the Dundee film, it was Los Angeles.

So yeah. I’m thinking that the Dundee people noticed the mad craze Marvel was fermenting with the borrowed Crocodile style, and they decided to jump back on the wave they started in the 80s. And that last Thor movie looked like the 80s. That’s probably relevant too. Or whatever.


Bonus Question! 

Hulk versus a crocodile! Battle of the fierce green costars!


I mean . . . Hulk. Clearly, it's the Hulk. 



Actually Paddington

Colin Firth was the main  name I remembered from the first Paddington movie, but I'd forgotten that he was only the voice of the titular bear instead of a physical presence. When Hugh Grant popped up in the sequel, I thought, "Oh! A 'Love Actually' reunion. But where's Colin?" And that's when the revelation came. And with that I also learned that Firth was replaced by  Ben Whishaw in "Paddington 2". So. No reunion. But it was still a very warm and charming movie. Like "Love Actually".


It also had the best flamboyant prison musical routine since "Goldmember".


Bonus Question!

Phoenix Buchanan versus Count Olaf!

Battle of bad guys who scheme with flimsy disguises because of thwarted acting ambitions!

Well, the first guy's played by Hugh Grant, which would ordinarily make it a close contest against Jim Carrey's Olaf. And Neil Patrick Harris is good too. But his name's Phoenix Buchanan. He takes the win.

Minding the Mines

Delving through this mantled land,

An adept deft with crafty hand

Seeks new fortune by the morn

In riches from earth's bosom torn.

Digging deep into the ground

For any worth that can be found,

His squatty shape displays no wear

As he pursues his single care.

His pointed ear does bear no bead

Of sweat as soil his fingers knead.

His lumpen limbs make moves with grace

That life's denied his wizened face.

His nose is sharp enough to aid

The pick he wields to ply his trade.

But time and toil could never fray

The winsome glint his eyes display.

Droid Sauce

Shortly after going to see "Last Jedi", I decided on another viewing of "Attack of the Clones", my favourite of the saga, and it gave me a new insight into C-3PO's vanity. I think that the fellow has a touch of ugly duckling syndrome. The dude began life in a junkyard as a nearly naked mess of exposed wires with a modicum of scrap plating. After a decade outside of slave life, he's decently covered at least, but he's stuck with a dull, tarnished coal grey. When he gets a makeover after joining up with the Republic, he's got the shiniest golden plating a droid ever had. But he's not going to forget his humble beginnings. That's got to inform his personality even after a memory wipe.

On another note, I recently learned that the sauce on A&W’s Grandpa Burger isn’t called Grandpa Sauce or something. It’s Teen Sauce. I don’t know if that’s also what’s on the Teen Burger, but I’m struck by the implication that it’s in the natural course of things for the elderly to feed on the essence of the young.


Bonus Question!

Robert Plant versus Threepio! Battle of the golden gods!

Plant's got a divine voice, but Threepio convinced a whole tribe of Ewoks to adjust their dietary habits in order to prevent the consumption of his friends, which does seem like a pretty godly deed.

Jedi Camp

Alright. So. I'm just going to say one thing about "The Last Jedi". Then I might say another? I don't know. We're not there yet. Right now, it's this one thing. If you haven't seen it, it might not even make sense, but you can make your own reading choices.


That thing Luke almost did in his flashbacks to Jedi camp counsellor days? He could have played that off. I've been to camp. I've woken up to weird pranks and strategems. He could just say, "Hey, friendo! Impromptu training exercise! Let's go snipe hunting!"

Or whatever the Star Wars equivalent of a snipe is. "Snipe" already sounds like a Star Wars bird.


Bonus Question!

Best Star Wars  bird?


I basically have to go with the porg, don't I?

It's 2018. Be the Jaymes You Want to See in the World.

2017 was  a weird year. This was largely because it was a year, and years are weird.

Nevertheless, "The Last Jedi" felt like a decent cap to it, and one of its central messages made it especially fitting for the purpose. Specifically, the one against reliance on idols.

I liked how this was delivered, for the movie didn't decry them outright. It  showed their potential for disappointment, but it also emphasised the need to move beyond that disappointment.

This year will be remembered in the minds of many as one in which several cultural beacons were irredeemably tarnished by the light shone upon their indiscretions. These luminaries meant much to their fans, and now those fans are left with a mess of feelings they never expected when they gave their hearts to ostensibly infallible heroes.

But heroes are no less fallible than anyone else. Open your heart to them. Sure. Of course. But don't give it away to anything. Own your heart. You're the only one who'll always be there to protect it. And if the people who've touched it turn out to be less than what you thought, the choice to move forward rests solely with you.

Did Joss Whedon speak to your soul? Were your feminist ideals kindled by the fiery panache displayed by Buffy and her ilk? Or even the stated beliefs of her creator? Great. Nothing can take that away. Joss is hardly the first teacher who failed to live up to his lessons. It doesn't diminish those lessons.

I've always been one to celebrate art even if the artist isn't personally deserving of esteem. Now I'll say that what an artist meant to fans who knew him before some dark revelation can survive afterwards. If you were inspired by your love for Joss or anyone else, you can keep that inspiration even when that love is brought down. Joss's philandering doesn't detract from what he taught you. It just gives you a chance to show that you learned it better than he did. As Yoda said, a teacher can  be something for a student to move beyond. Every experience is a lesson, and you get to choose what you learn from it.

Like Hollywood, the Jedi  Order's an institution that means many things to many people, but it's also made up of people, meaning that it's prone to foibles just like its followers. Its mistakes might shake it up, but its strengths persist, and it's up to the individual to do a better job of carrying those strengths forward. That's some of what I got from the movie. Don't worry about tearing stuff down. Take what you need and build something from it for yourself.


Bonus Question!

Grandmaster versus Supreme Leader! Who wore it better?


Giving it up to the G man. Dude can accessorize.

Also colour blocking. Also Jeff Goldblum.


Papa Mia


So. "Father Figures" was basically "Mamma Mia!" with the central role taken by two dudes instead of one woman, which at least maintains the number of starring X chromosomes.


At first, I was glad to see Owen Wilson in one of his classic puckish roles again. There seemed to be a period that focused more on the self-doubt and less on the levity. In fairness, both are key ingredients in the Owen Wilson recipe, but the ratio seemed off for a while. The same thing happens to Spider-Man sometimes.


Then I remembered that I haven't seen him anywhere in a while. Apart from the Ben Stiller Zoolander sequel. And he was definitely spirited in that. But that was a while ago, wasn't it? Whatever. 'Twas a good appetiser to what must surely be a new era of ecstatic Owen Wilson antics. And the legendary finale of the "Shanghai Noon" trilogy may finally be brought to light? Truly, the omens smile.


Bonus Question!


Owen Wilson versus Chris Tucker! Battle of the Chan buddies!


In a gunfight? Tucker. Barely.

In karaoke? Tucker. Barely.

In a race? Wilson. Barely.


They're very evenly matched. They're like different cultures' versions of the same god. It's like a battle between Bacchus and Dionysus.

Darth Agita


December 14th, 2017. A momentous date for two clear reasons. It saw the release of “The Last Jedi” and the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality at the hands of Ajit Pai.

 I cannot be the only one who thinks that “Ajit Pai” sounds like the name of an ancient Sith Lord. 


Bonus Question! 

Jedi versus Sith! What's your philosophy? 

The Jedi way's about stoicism. Not for me.  The Sith fuel their magic with emotion. It's basically Space Romanticism. They just tend to choose the worst emotions and fall into Dark Side nonsense. But their core ethos has merit.



Healthful Hibernal Happenings

Am I the only one who always felt more comfortable with saying "happy holidays" because even the most myopic members of the old monoculture tend to make a big deal about New Year's Eve around the same time? That's how it felt to me at school. At bare minimum, holiday break had to include Christmas and New Year's Eve. Two holidays. And I wasn't even aware of the added American emphasis on Thanksgiving, which gets lumped in with those two in the States. Even if you outlaw all other religious observances for the whole winter, you're still celebrating multiple holidays. It's even in that carol! "And a happy new year!" But no one's going to add a whole extra clause after "merry Christmas" in casual speech to convey that. "Happy holidays" does the job with minimal effort. It's the verbal equivalent of  a turducken. It's just had weaker marketing.

Bonus Question!

Turducken versus chimera! Who wins?

The obvious choice is the chimera. However, its only traditional component animal with significant aquatic capability is a snake, which only forms the tail. And it's usually the head of the snake that does it. In the case of the turducken, that middle element, justly honoured by the inclusion of its full name in the portmanteau, might be enough to bring out a win if its opponent can be lured into the water.


Rocking Rampage

Will the Dwayne Johnson "Rampage" film be able to overcome the video game movie curse?



That's the question people are asking. In fact, they should be asking "Will 'Rampage' be able to overcome the Dwayne Johnson movie curse?" Which is of course the curse whereby his movies can't avoid making unwieldy piles of glowing coin. It's one of those deceptively desirable curses. Like vampirism! You get to live forever without having to learn how to cook. That's the dream, isn't it?


Bonus Question!

Is the video game curse really a thing, though?


It really can't be  a thing. I think that some people believe that it's a thing, which is why bad decisions often get made in production, including the attachment of less adept staff to the projects. But they're just adaptations of concepts. The original medium doesn't actually impart any unique problems. Also, a few have actually been serviceable action movies which seem to be thrown into the stink end of the pool because it's easier to put them among their truly wretched brethren. Like "Tomb Raider" and "Prince of Persia". Those really stand out as examples that should be enjoyable to anyone who just wants a light explosive romp without any glaring issues. And one even has the prestige of a tying in to  a U2 music video, which is probably close to the musical equivalent of featuring Dwayne Johnson.


"Elevation" is still probably my favourite U2 song. Why do you ask? We just did the bonus question.

Lobo League

I saw "Justice League".

I liked how their ship was a whale.

Also, while I don't understand why Flash's costume is the least sleek of all of them, I do like the change to blue lightning. It's my preferred flavour of lightning, and its a refreshing change from his traditional yellow. This guy's not exactly a traditional Flash anyhow.


On that note, Momoa's definitely not a traditional Aquaman. Again, totally fine. I'm all up for divergent interpretations. But this one feels weird mainly because his untradtional Aquaman felt exactly like a very traditional Lobo. To the point where I wonder why they didn't just make him Lobo. Lobo's even a member of one Justice League in the comics right now. Who's really going to care if you find and replace every instance of "Aquaman" in the script with "Lobo"? And maybe there's less swimming. And Lobo probably wouldn't wear those thick wool sweaters? Maybe that would make it a less traditional Justice League. But that ship sailed a long time ago, and Aquaman was never going to call in some whales to save it.

Anyway, I saw it in a fairly empty IMAX theatre, but I still heard at least one person try to clap at the end, which seemed sweet.


Bonus Question!

Superhero most comfortable in thick wool sweaters?

Captain Brian.




Apparently, some Navy pilot got in trouble for drawing a penis in the sky with his plane. Which sounds like the Mad Libs version of a Beatles song when I put it like that. But the picture makes me doubt that intent.



Tell me that that's not the Arby's logo. 



This whole ordeal seems like the setup for an Arby's television advertisement. Then at the end of the commercial, the pilot's commanding officer shouts, "Damn it, cadet, what in Sam's blazes were you thinking with your hot shot dick drawing?"

"Honestly, sir? I'm thinking Arby's."


Bonus Question! 

What are you thinking? 

I'm thinking that Arby's might have had something to do with my erstwhile belief that Harvey's was an American franchise. 


On another note, I just saw the picture of Jude Law's Albus for the new Harry Potter movie, and I've got to say that he makes one winsome wizard. And this is coming from a dude who was first exposed to him when he played a robot gigolo. 





Marvel's comics were my entrance to the entire comic book world, but Brian Michael Bendis was the writer who eventually made me care about writers. When I realised the effect his cadence had on my reading experience, I began to look at the names of the creators on comic covers instead of focusing solely on the titles. Before that, credits were gibberish. His Ultimate Peter Parker was the first version I'd read with a real appeal to me. The period after I picked up that random issue near the start of Bendis's epic run caused a minor vexation in my best friend, who briefly felt that I was attempting to usurp his fixation on Spidey instead of staying in my own little X-Men realm.

I'm actually quite excited to see a DC book by Bendis now, but it'd be even better if it didn't mean the end of his Marvel work. Exclusivity's an emetic, man.


Bonus Question!

What effect has Brian Bendis had on your life outside of comics?

He provoked an interest in David Mamet, which is why I've seen "Glengarry Glen Ross".

Thortal Kombat

I haven't been to a Thursday release in ages, but this one felt etymologically appropriate.

Also, BlizzCon fell on the following day. It made sense to get "Ragnarok" out of the way ahead of that.


I will say this. The absence of Kat Dennings was not thoroughly unnoticeable. There was always a part of me that thought that she and Loki would make a cute couple. Oh, well. If one has to choose between her and Jeff Goldblum, there's really no wrong move. Actually, he and Loki would make a cute couple too. But maybe throw in Kat Dennings too. Because why not?


But yeah. A fine film. It follows in the grand tradition of swaggering gladiatorial adventures featuring jovial thunder gods.


I love that tradition.


Bonus Question!

Thor and Loki versus Raiden and Shao Kahn! Battle of brotherly bonds!


Thor and Loki have had their issues, but there is some love in that mess. I'm not so sure about the other pair. Got to give it to the Asgardians. And one of them is even adopted! Bonus point for bloodless love.

All Horrors

I recall feeling some anxiety about the placement of Halloween in a week during childhood. Whenever it seemed far removed from the weekend, I'd get twinges of despair at the thought of all the Halloweens that could fall on school nights.


But I've come to realise that the adult world just decided to work around that. Halloween's tacitly agreed to be whatever the last Saturday in October happens to be. Friday if you're nasty.


Bonus Question!


The new season of "American Horror Story". In large part because of Evan Peters. He's a fun dude to watch. I first saw him in that X-Men movie wherein he played Quicksilver. In one iteration of the comic universe, that guy had some incestuous subtext with his twin sister Scarlet Witch. It later turned into text right around the time at which that particular universe basically went to hell. Death. Mass destruction. That whole deal. But more than usual.

Scarlet Witch wasn't even a presence in the X-Men movies, but in "Horror Story", Peters does have a sister, and they do have some incestuous subtext that develops into text. Nice bit of symmetry?

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.