There was a time when I watched all of the DC animated films, and liked them, but eventually I grew tired of watching them and just stopped — the one exception was the recent, and terrific, Batman Ninja movie. I did find myself suddenly in the mood to watch one the other night, and picked this one out of the bunch (there are quite a few available on Netflix). As I find with all of these, the quality of the animation is always disappointing (it’s barely above TV cartoon quality), but I did enjoy the movie despite that, especially the dynamic between Constantine and Zatanna. I’ll probably watch a few more, since I’m in the mood for animated super-hero stuff of late (I’m also slowly watching the Young Justice series).
Yet another Netflix Original film that I watched recently — mostly because my wife suggested we watch it — and like Little Evil, I was surprised at how much fun I ended up having while watching it. Sure, it’s dumb and raunchy — think American Pie — but maybe I was just really in the mood for something like that, and I ended up laughing quite a bit. Again, nothing amazing here, just a dumb, fun film to watch if you’re in the mood.
This was more fun that I was expecting. Sure, it’s nothing to write home about — as seems to be par for the course for most Netflix Original films — but I did have a pretty good time watching it. Part of it is because of the cast, featuring actors I like, but I think it also does a decent job of playing with the Omen tropes — and it probably didn’t hurt that I had re-watched Omen II just a week prior. Don’t go in expecting a classic, but if you’re fan of those Omen movies, you should have fun with it.
As I wrote after watching Train to Busan, I wanted to watch some more Korean films, and so quickly followed it up with this one, that I’d also been meaning to watch for a while. Terrific film, with incredibly moody and creepy sequences, and very well shot throughout. Highly recommended.
My wife likes watching horror movies, and so when we watch movies together, it’s often horror, and so we watched this one. I didn’t even realize it was a remake of an earlier film (initially directed by Eli Roth, and this time produced by him), and although I’m not going to try and say it’s anything special, it was fine for what it is, and I was actually surprised at how well it’s shot — better than you’d expect from something like this. But hey, it’s a silly “young people getting slaughtered in the wilderness” movie, that’s it.
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Jack Ryan movies — I like action thrillers in general, and military ones as well — and so I’ve been pretty hyped for the upcoming Jack Ryan TV series (starting on Prime Video next week). In preparation for that, just like I did for the Mission: Impossible movies ahead of watching the latest one, I decided to re-watch all of the movies this past week, which I did over 3 nights. Unlike M:I, where there’s one stinker, I like all of the Ryan films, although I can easily say that Harrison Ford’s Ryan is my favorite portrayal, but that The Hunt for Red October is my favorite film — if I were to put the films in order of faves, I’d say it goes The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Sum of all Fears, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Red October is just such a great thriller, and it was still exciting to see all of the intense sub maneuvering towards the end — and you gotta love that Connery Russian accent. Of the two Ford films, I prefer the second one (with the drug cartels), mostly because I like a bit less that things are so personal in the first film (Sean Bean targeting his family specifically) — I prefer when the stakes are on a global scale. I really wish Ford had made more of these, and have no idea why they stopped after two — I’m assuming they were fairly successful at the box office. Affleck’s Sum of all Fears is fine, and I love that it actually goes through the detonation of a nuclear device, with the aftermath. I even like the more recent Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine, and wouldn’t have minded seeing it become a franchise, but I guess it didn’t do well enough — and what I do like the least about it is that it doesn’t involve high-ranking government officials and the President of the United States, which is usually a big part of all these movies. So I guess that in this day and age of prestige TV, it does make sense to re-explore the character in serial form, and I do quite like John Krasinski, so I’m pretty excited to watch the new series when it debuts on Friday.
Since the newsletter is going on a summer break, I wanted to highlight a series that gives off a bit of a summer vacation vibe (at least at the start). Le Monde de Milo is a fantasy series – but think along the lines of a Ghibli film – written by Richard Marazano with art by Christophe Ferreira. The latter has worked for years in the animation industry in Japan (working on the fantastic film Napping Princess — read an interview with him here), and so it’s no surprise that his style feels very animated/anime, with a setting and world that ends up looking like a beautiful melding of European and Japanese styles.
The story follows the adventures of a young boy who finds himself teleported to another dimension, discovering the truth of his lineage, presented in 2-volume arcs. Five books have been released so far, so we’re halfway through the third story arc, with the latest book having come out a couple of months ago. I like it especially for the art style, but the vibe is fun too, with the kind of characters you’d expect to see in a Ghibli film.
Today I highlight a series that I just started reading last week, and I’m already incredibly addicted and on the way to binging everything in the series. The overarching series by Leo (the pen name used by Brazilian Luis Eduardo de Oliveira) is called Les mondes d’Aldébaran (The Worlds of Aldebaran), and it’s made up of a series of “cycles” that follow the colonization efforts of Earth on other planets. The first series, Aldébaran, released in the 90s and made up of five books, tells the intriguing story of colonists on the planet Aldebaran who have lost contact with Earth for over 100 years. An authoritarian government has taken hold, and so we follow the story of a group of resistants – not a group at first – who over the series deal with the fantastic dangers of the planet they inhabit, while trying to uncover a mystery that will eventually lead to some major societal changes. It’s fantastic stuff, with characters that age (there are occasional jumps between albums of a few years), and that you end up caring for quite a bit. I binged that first series over a weekend (you can read it in a collected tome), and I can’t wait to read the follow-up series: Bételgeuse, Antarès, Survivants – Anomalies quantiques, and Retour sur Aldébaran.
When it comes to reading stories set in Roman times, my touchstone growing up was the wacky adventures of Astérix the Gaul, but a series I’ve quite enjoyed reading in recent months is Murena, written by Jean Dufaux with art by Philippe Delaby. Set during the reign of Nero, we’re presented with a highly detailed – and heavily researched, as the addendums suggest – look at life in the Roman capital, but with a healthy dose of intrigue, violence, and political maneuvering. There are ten books in the series so far (I’ve read the first nine so far), divided in cycles of four books. It’s great stuff, and if you want even more Roman reading, I can also recommend Alix Senator, which is a modern series (seven books out so far) that takes the young hero of Jacque Martin’s classic Alix series (that started back in the 50s), and revisits him at an older age, now a senator in Rome.
When I recommended Thorgal a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m not a big fan of fantasy when it comes to BD, but I did discover another great fantasy series this year, called Servitude. Written by Fabrice David and Éric Bourgier, with gorgeous art by the latter, it’s basically Game of Thrones in feel and atmosphere, with the same kind of political manoeuvering between the various factions – and same goes for the violence as well.
Each book does a great job of not only telling the story we’re following, but also devotes extra pages to give a lot of background on the world and its history, and to explain what makes the world tick – think of a resource book for a traditional tabletop RPG. The series was supposed to span five books, but following the release of the 5th book last year, the creators announced that they will need one more book to finish their story. I look forward to reading how it all ends.