Agents of SHIELD Season 2 and Agent Carter Season 1 – Agents of SHIELD got off to such a sputtery start that a lot of Marvel fans abandoned it quickly; you can always tell who they are if they call it a “monster of the week” show. It was, but it’s not now – after having SHIELD destroyed towards the end of the first season in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, season 2 got into some much larger building of a new corner of the Marvel Universe, adding Kree, Inhumans, competing SHIELDs, twin Patton Oswalts, Mockingbird, and Skye gaining super earthquake powers, much to the envy of her super-villain dad Mr. Hyde (Kyle MacLachlan, brilliant and tragic).
Julia has had battles in her life with anger management, and the way Skye gains destructive powers that she can’t help sometimes turning back on herself really struck a chord with us, more so than any of the Hulk movies. Yes, it was writ large, but the way she had to learn to focus her rage at the actual obstacles in her life, rather than holding them in and fracturing all her bones, or hurting the ones she loved – well, it was more resonant emotionally than anything I’ve seen in a Marvel movie in a while, because it hit us just right. And the ending of MacLachlan’s arc just slew me.
Agent Carter was much simpler, and often seemed to use “look at the period detail!” as an excuse for not having better stories. Haley Atwell keeps the title character charismatic, and human Jarvis is a fun foil, but they’re not given a lot of plot to work with. Prequels are always harder to get right.
Furious 7: Extended Edition – It’s extended by all of two and a half minutes, in case you were wondering. In the seventh installment, the action series continues to defy all logic as a preposterously dumb, overly edited, completely unbelievable stunt soap opera that somehow critics everywhere seem to have given themselves permission to like, just this once. It is a superhero movie in everything but name, and frankly the Justice League films could learn a thing or two about building a cinematic team over time (maybe Gal Gadot will take that knowledge back to DC). This installment adds Kurt Russell as the new boss and Jason Statham as the new big bad, with Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey for added muscle. There are car jumps between skyscrapers, there’s vehicular skydiving, the Rock flexes his bicep to bust out of a hospital cast…and Paul Walker sadly died during production, so the film ends with a sentimental send-off for his character, who appears via digital effects in several scenes.
If any of this sounds like I’m putting the film down, I’m actually not – it wears teh stoopid with pride, as it should. I don’t know that I can say that about every film in the series – though they all come packed in a big tire today too if you want.
Cinderella – Disney’s live-action remake, directed by Kenneth Branagh, really isn’t as bad as one might fear, and is actually quite bold in teaching the lesson that Cinderella’s niceness and humility is a strength rather than a weakness. Unfortunately, neither Branagh nor Disney seem to trust us to get the message, so there is constant voice-over to explain the obvious. It’s still as charming as its prince, but I reckon the kids are more likely to play the included “Frozen Fever” short over and over.
Lost in Space: The Complete Adventures – I had no idea this show ran long enough to generate an 18-disc box set, but here it is, including an animated special, four original episodes “as broadcast” with era-specific commercials and bumpers, the unaired pilot, a cast reading of Billy Mumy’s “Epilogue” script, and much more. Danger of ass cramping, Will Robinson!
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – Unrated Producer’s Cut – If I remember correctly, this was released as Halloween 666, and featured a Beavis and Butt-head joke. It was a disappointingly incoherent sendoff for an extremely frail Donald Pleasance, and people tell me the producer cut is far better. It certainly couldn’t be much worse – retconning Michael Myers into some sort of spirit summoned by druids is a far worse call than any made by Rob Zombie.
Sleepy Hollow Season 2 – We live in a world where there is too much highly rated genre TV for any one fella like me to consume. But our own contributor Jay Barish wrote a solid piece explaining why you ought to have this on your list.
And speaking of “on your list” – this is mine for today; what’s yours?