Turn Up The Snark For Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark!

Matt the Catania is going on hiatus while its author goes on a research sabbatical for his difficult second novel. We’re not sure when publication will resume, but if you’re following the blog by email or social media (click that heart icon up top), you’ll be the first to know. Also, Jenny “Millennial Falcon” Nicholson noticed me!

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In honor of the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, I shall leave you with an  incredibly timely review of the Broadway classic Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark!

I SURVIVED SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK! Seriously, we had to drive home through a blizzard on Boxing Day 2010. I pushed a Ford Focus out of a snowy parking lot & navigated by sticking my head out the passenger window. So here’s the spoiler free review: On the WTF? scale of 1-10, the musical was a solid 14. SPOILERS for a musical that’s been closed for years!!!

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Gotham’s Third Finale Is Satisfyingly Guano Mad!

This season of Gotham actually ended on a optimistic note? They made an exciting finale that didn’t rely upon toothlessly threatening to blow up the entire supporting cast? Many of its big threats were overshadowed by legitimutantly satisfying character developments? WHAT IS THIS DEVILTRY? I shall attempt to elucidate with SPOILERS.

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How Wondrous Was Wonder Woman?

It used to be a recurring joke that any comic book character would get a movie before Wonder Woman. At a 2013 NYCC afterparty hosted by The Mary Sue, one of the cocktail specials was called Wonder Woman Movie so guests could demand “Give me a Wonder Woman Movie!” This would’ve been effective more promptly if the bartenders were WB executives. (I slightly preferred the Strong Female Protagonist cocktail because it was green like She-Hulk.) A Wonder Woman movie has even been a recurring part of her comics mythos since the 1940’s, so it’s about time Hollywood caught up. Now it’s finally her turn!  I was concerned by all the positive press the movie was receiving because I feared I’d be the lone weirdo that didn’t love it. Fortunately it lived up to the hype, even incorporating some of my ranty demands!  That’ll teach Marvel Studios to cheap out on bribing me! I’m collaboreviewing Wonder Woman with The Wages of Cinema! (They’ve just done a podcast where they responded to my comments!) It’s a wonderful film!

Although she was still as wooden as the surrounding film, Gal Gadot was the best part of Batman v. Superman: Yawn Dawn of Justice because she was a cedar in a forest of larches. Here Ms. Gadot shows she can actually act! Her expressive face conveys childlike wonder at the world outside of Themyscira. She’s a DC protagonist allowed to smile without being a baddie! She’s violent without being dour! They convey her strength through compassion perfectly!

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Americans offended by the lack of white stars on her skirt should take solace in WB nixing the red star on her tiara to alienate her Communist fans too.

Hereafter come the SPOILERS. If you’ve yet to purchase a ticket to see this film, please stop reading here & watch this Nerdist medley featuring Ciara “Hawkgirl” Renee!

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When All Else Fails, Visit Riverdale

If you’re like me & too poor to afford to watch Twin Peaks’ revival on Showtime, Riverdale may tide you over. At first I scoffed at this show because it’s six years too late for a gritty melodramatic adaptation of Archie Comics, the wholesome teenage love triangle sitcom that has inexplicably been in print for seventy-six years. To my surprise, the show that aired after Powerless is actually good! It should not work nearly as well as it does. Curse you for making so much quality television, CW! (If comic book adaptations aren’t your cup of tea, I suggest The 100 & Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.)

It’s probably a lot easier to enjoy  this if you’re not a die-hard Archie fan (I’ve never met one in person, but I’m sure they exist) since it takes giant liberties with such characters as Chuck Clayton, Dilton Doiley, & Ethel Muggs. Jughead isn’t asexual, although the series was well into development when the latest comics reboot made that canon. It would’ve been easy to write Veronica Lodge in her Middle Earth cape as the rich bitch, but they’ve subverted that so well by making her repentantly compassionate. (The ensemble is so wonderful it’s hard to believe this is Camila Mendes’s first TV role.) Instead of fighting with Betty Cooper for Archie’s affections, they’re an awesome friend duo. Prototypical all-American girl next door (which could mean something very different depending on where you go in the US) Betty Cooper gets layers & family drama from having a mom named Alice Cooper who’s not the shock rocker. It’s spider brooch wearing Cheryl Blossom that gets to be the over the top mean girl, but it’s surprising she turned out as well-adjusted given her Gothic upbringing in Thornhill. Josie & the Pussycats give ridiculously awesome concerts, although they can’t top the superlative Josie & the Pussycats movie.  Archie Andrews is ostensibly the star yet he remains its least interesting character. He’s also gauche enough to wear a varsity jacket to a wake.

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Another rejected pitch was Roverdale starring Arfie Andrews, Sheltie Cooper, Furronica Lodge, Pughead Jones, Chien Keller, Dilton Doggy, Reggie Mastiff, & Feral Blossom.

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CW Ends DC Seasons On Bogus Cliffhangers

It was very courteous of ABC to air the latest Agents of SHIELD finale a week before these. You know the drill by now: Full SPOILERS for Supergirl, The Flash, & (Green) Arrow from here on out! (Click here for Legends of Tomorrow finale review.)

Remember how excited I was about the CW Supergirl being an improvement over the CBS version when the season premiered? Those were the good old days, before Mon-El ruined everything. Well the finale almost reached those heights because it brought back Cat Grant! The show got better as soon as Calista Flockhart returned, regardless of how cringey half of her dialogue was. Cat instantly knowing Guardian is Jimmy was priceless. Sadly her CatCo pink panther got destroyed again.

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Agents of SHIELD In The High Castle

Agents of SHIELD has been on fire this fourth season, which I shall SPOIL for you. One of its strengths has been splitting its narrative into discrete yet interlocking thirds to keep the momentum wound tight. I’ve complained that the show feels like the MCU’s redheaded stepchild, but ironically this season may be its strongest for having the least direct interconnectivity with Marvel’s movies. The series has built itself up enough that it can now stand on its own.

Remember when Captain America: The Winter Soldier excitingly set-up HYDRA as a major force of modern day villainy? Then how disappointing, albeit believable, it was that the Avengers flattened them out like tortillas under a steamroller in the prologue to Avengers: Age of Ultron? Then recall how HYDRA’s leftovers were somehow even more pathetic in the third season of Agents of SHIELD? Well the Framework’s VR simulation has HYDRA back to being a formidable foe. Not only is this a clever way to reintroduce HYDRA without rolling back the MCU’s stance that it’s been utterly destroyed for real this time, having them in charge feels eerily topical.  The HYDRA propaganda posters are a nice touch.  I love how the start this arc was named “What If…?” just like the comic series. This is the closest the MCU has come to doing an alternate reality since they’re not ready to dip their toes into an official multiverse like The Flash. It had plenty of callbacks to past seasons including a Bill Paxton tribute. Quit teasing us about Griffin!

Remember when I asked them not to make AIDA evil or seduce Fitz? Well the writers did both! Thankfully it’s executed much more deftly than I’d feared. Then this LMD 3-D prints herself a real human body to acquire free will & unsimulated sensations. She wisely gave herself all the inhuman powers because not only is she Madame HYDRA (unlike AIDA, it’s not actually an acronym), she’s also Super-Adaptoid! After being repressed all season, Mallory Jansen let out all the emotions like a fire hydrant! She honestly deserves an Emmy for doing the most acting!

AIDA as Ophelia as Madame Hydra may be the show’s first costumed supervillain. (That’s kind of sad, albeit less so than giving that honor to Deathlok.) Just like Dr. Strange’s training outfit, her shirt has weird elbow gaps before the cuffs. She even wears a cape in one scene like Veronica Lodge! While far superior to Polaris’s hair in the generic The Gifted, it’s too bad they didn’t dye her hair completely green like Fire Green Fury on Powerless. (Please get Natalie Morales to reprise that role on a CW show!) Sadly the color grading makes her outfit look practically gray most of the time. Of course she’s also not really Viper as Madame Hydra, but she’s closer than The Wolverine’s version. Whatever her name is, she’s one of the most compelling foes in the MCU.

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Remember, droid isn’t really gender neutral because it’s short for android. Male shouldn’t always be the linguistic default.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy 2: Cosmic Boogaloo!

After my off-brand (?) foray into limited edition food, & Zack Snyder’s reclusive axes, I’m back with a much more mainstream collaboreview of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2! The Wages of Cinema had me back to remember names & tell me I’ve been pronouncing esoteric wrong my whole life!

The first Guardians of the Galaxy may be my favorite MCU movie. This may be because it felt like a Farscape relaunch, the clearest parallel being Star-Lord retooled to be more like John Crichton. (Ben Browder has a cameo in this one!) It’s one of the rare adaptations that change almost everything from the source material while managing to be wonderful. (Meanwhile the 2017 Free Comic Book Day issue of GOTG has Marvel rejigger the team to be even closer to the movie.) It even works as a stand alone space opera without needing to worry about the other Marvel movies. Fortunately this sequel maintains the magic of the first installment without falling into the trap of just rehashing it. Even the credits are fun! The trailers did a great job not spoiling the movie so I would have something to do here!

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