Comics Review

Comic Book Review – The Vision #1

It’s not surprising in the least that the Vision would get a title in Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” lineup.  He made his big-screen debut in this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron after all.  When this sort of thing has happened before, you have often seen changes made to the comic book version of the character or characters involved, for better synergy.  Peter Parker develops organic web-shooters, or the X-Men wear leather costumes, what have you.  What writer Tom King, artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and colorist Jordie Bellaire created here is something VERY different, and it’s got me hooked from the jump.

If you need to know the basics about the comic book version of the Vision, he is a synthezoid, which is basically a synthetic human, who had originally been created by Ultron to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers.  He turned on Ultron and ended up joining them.  Vision’s emotional capabilities have changed numerous times, and currently he has his memories (more or less) but has purged the associated emotions from them.  I don’t think it means he’s purged ALL emotion however.

As you can guess from that history it would take a lot for things to get stranger for the Vision, but Vision #1 certainly does exactly that.  It seems that Viz has created a while family for himself and settled down to a ‘normal’ life in a DC suburb.  He’s doing liaison work for the Avengers to the White House.  His wife Virginia, and children Viv and Vin seem like a perfect simulacrum of a normal family…which is exactly why they are so darn creepy.  Add in the fact that it’s implied that Vision used the Scarlet Witch’s brain patterns to create Virginia – and who’s more stable than Wanda! – and combined his and hers to make the kids, and you fall straight into the Uncanny Valley.  The Visions’ blank eyes and 50’s style politeness are unsettling and as you read deeper it becomes clear that there are some serious problems with Vision’s plan.

Vision Panels 1

Punctuating the story and adding to the creepy tone are the captions, matter-of-factly describing both the mundane and the horrific.  As the story goes along, you begin to get a sense that the Vision family have the same sorts of problems we have – the kids don’t fit in at school, the mom is depressed, and Vision himself seems to be having a nightmare and doubting his ‘love’.

Much like aVision SWny other super hero’s family, the Visions come under attack by a supervillain – who it is and why stems from Vision’s own creation, using the memories of Wonder Man.  The story ends with Virginia telling the children to lie to their father about what happens and yeah, when is issue 2 out?  I love when one of the big companies is willing to go experimental on us, and while I can’t see this being a long-running book, I HAVE to know what happens next.

Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E06 Among Us Hide…

This show, man.  It gets you turned around.  It became clear that Lash wasn’t just some random person – Andrew was a possibility to be the killer Inhuman, but I dismissed him.  But there you are.  And this reveal leaves me with a ton of questions.  Is he one of the recent Inhumans created by the fish oil?  It seems like they want us to think that but he sure does seem to have a handle on it better than the other newbs.  Does he remember everything he does as Lash?  The change appears voluntary so I imagine so.  Why wouldn’t he kill Daisy?  The best thing that came from this is seeing Agent May’s veneer crack – this discovery is devastating to her.

Coulson gets to see the ATCU facility, and it turns out that they are basically freezing Inhumans in carbonite until Rosalind can find a ‘cure’ for them.  It looks bad though, especially to Mack and Daisy who are seeing (but not hearing) what’s going on.  They found there way there thanks to Hunter, who everyone is freaking pissed at over the whole ‘almost got Andrew killed’ thing.  Just wait until he finds out Andrew is Lash!  Hunter is a delight, basically blundering his way through the episode and mucking things up in exactly the right way.  He manages to ice Rosalind’s second in command WHILE Coulson is with her, and may have planted seeds of doubt about Will in Fitz’s head.  Get this guy a costume.

The May/Mockingbird team-up is everything we hoped for from this show, and I can’t wait for next week.  Is Andrew/Lash truly evil?  Agents of SHIELD messes with those expectations a lot (see Hyde) so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.

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Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E05 4,722 Hours

This will be quick as I’m very late getting this out.  AoS wastes little time in showing us just what happened to Agent Simmons on the blue-tinged planet.  It starts out as you expect, with Simmons falling back on her training for survival – at first staying near the portal exit in case it can be reopened, then eventually setting off for food and water.  Jemma shows both her resourcefulness (“You’re dinner, biatch!”) and the stress from being stuck on a planet that seems to have near-permanent night.

The surprising twist comes when Simmons is captured…by another human!  “Will” seems nuts at first, not believing Jemma is even real, but turns out to be a decent sort.  Turns out he was the muscle on a NASA mission sent through the portal with hopes that they’d be able to return in a year…14 years ago.  Oops.  Simmons begins working with Will on a plan to get home, with her relentless positivity becoming infections.  It’s all for naught however, when they miss their window to get through the portal, and their message in a bottle backup plan fails as well.  Though it’s quite possible the near-miss may be what knocked the alien dust back through the portal that Fitz found.

Fast-forward to the 4,722nd hour, and Jemma and Will are living a life together on the planet now, as a couple.  They are awaiting the once a generation sunrise…when Fitz’s flare is spotted.  They make a run for it, but the strange dust storms come and in it, Jemma spots a strange figure – one of the other astronaut suits, covered in strange vines or webbing…the ‘death’ that Will warned her about.  He tells her to go while he fights it off with his one remaining bullet.  You’ve seen the rest from the other side, with Simmons pulled through at the last moment, but now you know why she wants to go back so badly.

Poor Fitz is immediately supportive of the task, despite the heartbreak he must be feeling at the reveal about Will and Simmons and the relationship.  It seems likely that at some point in the season, we will be back on the planet, as the end scene showed Will still alive.  But will he still be sane after losing Jemma?

Random thoughts:

  • So NASA had the monolith and knew it was a portal.  Will said the information about how they knew a planet was on the other side was “classified…above my pay grade” but it’s an interesting question.  Did someone make it back?
  • The prevailing theories about what that planet is are fun.  Ego, the living planet?  I doubt it, but the fact that it is heated internally means I can’t immediately discount the idea.  Still, I think something Kree/Inhuman related makes more sense.
  • What the heck was the ‘Death’ on the planet?  Can’t be a coincidence that the word Death appeared frequently around the monolith in the places it was hidden.  Makes the idea that someone came back twisted by whatever it is on the planet a bit more likely.

Comic Book Review – Airwolf: Airstrikes

Yet another IDW/Lion Forge comic that exists in a strange netherworld between reboot and continuation (much like the previously reviewed Knight Rider), this Airwolf: Airstrikes trade paperback is an anthology of mostly-unrelated stories starring a helicopter that sort of resembles the Airwolf you remember, starring people that at least have the same names as the ones you remember from the show.

In case you are unfamiliar with the TV series, Airwolf is a super-powerful stealthy attack helicopter stolen by it’s creator (a psychopath) until recovered by Stringfellow Hawke (and you thought Star Wars names were nuts!).  Instead of returning the chopper to ‘The Firm’ Hawke and co-pilot Dominic Santini hold the machine hostage.  Hawke demands that The Firm search for his brother, MIA in Vietnam, in return he will fly missions for them.

The comic series seems similar at first glance, but the devil is in the details.  Hawke seems more like the standard action hero than the tortured loner from the earliest episodes of the show.  Dominic Santini isn’t Ernest Borgnine, but a young black man (adopted by Dom).  This change fits fine, as Dom raised Stringfellow and St. John Hawke after they were orphaned, but it does raise questions about the timeline if you are including the show as a reference.  Is it still set in the 80’s?  Was it shifted forward, Marvel style?  The ‘Archangel’ here is also female, though the Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III version makes an appearance at the end.

Much like the Knight Rider series, Airwolf: Airstrikes seems like a simplified Michael Bay version of the show.  Lots of explosions and butt-kicking but light on actual character development.  Your hero is a pilot of the most advanced combat helo in the world, why does he also need to be a crack shot, hand to hand combat expert, and snarky quipster?  I can’t imagine this String sitting on his dock playing a cello.

I wonder if I’m hoping for too much out of these creators on the licensed comics like this.  I don’t think so, though.  The Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls both have similar comics – but they are clear continuations especially in the case of Samurai Jack, and are handled a fair bit more skillfully then here.  Anyway, click here if you want your own copy to see for yourself, and as always, thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.


Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E04 Devils You Know

The action-packed fourth episode of Agents of SHIELD starts with…domestic bliss?  A happy Inhuman couple making dinner gets a knock at the door and it’s Alisha, the Inhuman who can make duplicates of herself.  She’s there to recruit them to Coulson’s team.  A big change from when she was on the side of Jiaying.  Unfortunately it turns into a bloodbath when Lash drops in to wreck them.  Daisy and Mack move in to assist, but they are too late to save the Inhuman couple, and Alisha has some mental trouble when her duplicate gets killed.  Coulson calls the ATCU for backup, leading to more Rosalind/Phil banter.

We get a brief interlude with Ward and his second-hand man Kebo, talking over the guns that Hunter brought as part of his recruitment.  Hunter and May argue as he’s not getting enough information, and she’s worried he’s taking too many risks and not thinking clearly because of what Ward did to Bobbi.  She’s right, or course.

Next up is Simmons, talking over her experiences with Dr. Garner.  Man, he’s a great addition to the cast.  Jemma mentions she gave up hope on the alien world at one point, and when Garner says her ordeal was over, she says it’s not.  More mystery!  Dr. Garner is also taking no shit from Coulson as he sees Alisha who he’s never spoken to, let alone cleared to go on missions.  But Agent May’s return leaves both men speechless.

This leads to Phil and Melinda having a moment, he offers to replace Dr. Garner if it gets her back – but she’s just there to get Hunter some backup.  Some good stuff for Philinda shippers.

Fitz and Bobbi are analyzing some samples from Lash when Fitz finds Simmons’s notes on the monolith.  Simmons freaks out a bit.  We also get a hint as to what happened between May and Garner.  Daisy goes back to her hacker roots and finds a guy that could be tracking the Inhumans.  She also skewers Phil on being sweet on Rosalind.

The ATCU combine forces with Daisy and Mack to find the guy…cowering in a closet.  Apparently proximity to other Inhumans kind of…burns him?  Strange.  The guy tries to run, and Coulson grabs him with the robot hand.  We get Lash named, and we get some backstory.  That Lash doesn’t like what he’s doing, but he WILL do it.  The ATCU takes the Inhuman, and Coulson sends Daisy and Mack along to see what their ‘containment’ facility is like.

Lash has other plans, busting through the roof of the truck carrying them and dragging the poor dude away…”I’m not merciful, I’m necessary.”  Daisy sees a big clue as Lash walks away – HE TRANSFORMS.  But into who?

Hunter is made by Ward immediately, and a huge gun battle breaks out.  May comes in for backup while Hunter and Ward trade barbs.  But…Ward has the trump card – Dr. Garner being taken down by the Strucker kid.  Hunter attacks putting Andrew in danger.  Ward and Kebo get away (but not with the guns Hunter brought) but the last thing we see is SOMEONE bleeding out on the floor of the market where Garner was cornered, little Strucker escaping and the place in flames.  Fake out?  Feels like a fake out.

Fitz confronts Simmons – he saw that she wants to rebuild the portal.  She tells him that she has to go back and needs his help.  Something happened to her there, she says…but what?  We find out next week!

  • “Yes, mum”  Hunter, you are on thin ice man.
  • The robot hand makes it hard to tie a tie.  A great little detail to include.
  • Daisy uses her powers to open the door, but then switches to a gun?  Come on.
  • “Always in the bloody boot”  I love Hunter.
  • The look Bobbi gives when she finds out she’s left behind on the mission to get Ward.  Ice cold.
  • Remember when Ward was some boring dude?  Me neither.

I’m glad we won’t be waiting a year to find out what happened to Jemma.


Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E03 A Wanted (Inhu)man

Agents of SHIELD continues to spin multiple plates each episode, but all of the storylines are still interesting.  This time around, the ATCU outs Lincoln as an alien threat on TV, and Daisy and Mack try to go to the rescue.  Lincoln reaches out to his AA sponsor for help, and it seems to go okay until the guy turns on his TV.  Oops.  Lincoln gives him a little zap to knock him out…but it gives his buddy a heart attack.  He’s unable to save him, and it leaves our blandest Inhuman standing over a dead body when the ATCU and SHIELD arrive.  While this is happening, Coulson meets up with Rosalind, and after a humorous moment where Phil’s caught ogling…her car (get your mind out of the gutter), they get down to brass tacks – Rosalind has pictures of Daisy at the hospital too, but hasn’t released them yet.  This leads to some tense moments where Lincoln almost gets handed over to the ATCU, and when that fails, they nearly take off with Daisy.  In the end, Coulson trades away something potentially more valuable to Rosalind – his knowledge.  This morally gray dealing is a solid build-up to Civil War, and very reminiscent of the SHIELD from the comics.

The next spinning plate is the May and Hunter show.  Hunter’s got a buddy with an in to HYDRA, but Lance has to fight in a no-holds-barred fighting tournament.  All well and good until his opponent is revealed to be that buddy.  Hunter and ‘Spud’ beat each other to a bloody pulp, and Lance is about to lose until he slips on some brass knuckles and unloads on Spud.  In a parallel to Lincoln’s story, Spud ends up dead.  This apparently is enough to get Hunter an audience with Ward’s second in command.  And don’t worry about May, she got to beat the snot out of three guys who tried to corner her to assault her.

The final spinning plate is the Fitz/Simmons saga.  Simmons is back but is still jumpy as hell, every bright light and noise setting her on edge.  Six months on an alien planet being hunted will do that to you.  Fitz tries to get her back to work – after all, that helped him – but comes to realize after a chat with Mockingbird that maybe Simmons needs something different.  They go to a nice dinner, and bond over a good cry.  So it’s a surprise when Bobbi finds Simmons in the lab, poking and prodding the remnants of the monolith.  But Simmons doesn’t want to hear it’s inert – she WANTS to go back!

  • Obviously the big questions is, why does Simmons want to go back to the alien world?  Is someone else there?  Some other discovery?  An important artifact?  BRUCE BANNER?
  • Lincoln still being in the wind is a surprise too – I think most of us assumed he’d be the first ‘Secret Warrior’ recruited.
  • I definitely get an Abigail Brand vibe from Rosalind – I’m not sure if she’s available to the MCU since she was created in an X-comic but that’s who I think of when she’s on screen (or the comic version of Maria Hill).

Next week brings back Lash, and sees at least one more new Inhuman appearing.

Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E02 Purpose in the Machine

Episode 2, Purpose in the Machine kicks off right where the premiere left off, and keeps up the breakneck pace.  After an open that shows old English dudes sending some poor sap into a room…with our monolith.  Mostly so one of them can tell us “no one ever returns!”.  But we know our Simmons is still out there!  Back at SHIELD HQ, there’s some talk to get everyone up to date on the state of the Secret Warriors and team SHIELD itself which is to say numbers are down.  Amazing that these new Inhumans are all pretty freaked out.  Or dead.  That talk stops when they notice Fitz freaking out on the monolith.  They pull him away and slam the case shut just in time for the thing to go liquid again…reacting to Daisy.

We also see Ward rebuilding HYDRA, cutting away the weak and soft heads so stronger ones can take their places.  He hunts down a young man…who turns out to be Werner von Strucker!  I didn’t see that coming, and I’m interested to see what they do with it.  He gets placed in Dr. Garner’s Psych class by Ward.  Garner, for his part, is helping Daisy and Mack evaluate the Inhumans after May went to ground.  Garner gets Daisy to open up just a bit, about how she wants to build a home for her people.

Fitz discovers proof that the monolith is a portal through space, when it leaves behind alien sand after going liquid.  Coulson recruits “Professor Randolph”, the Asgardian the team encountered in Season one to help them open the portal.  Peter MacNicol is hilarious as the unassuming but powerful deserter, who studied portals like this as he’s afraid of getting snatched back through one.  He’s able to give the team a location where the monolith must’ve been, and they find a room designed to vibrate it open.  How convenient that they have a team member who can vibrate stuff when the machinery breaks, eh?  Daisy opens the portal, and Fitz dives through (of COURSE, did no one there see this coming, really??).  Simmons has thankfully headed towards the portal site thanks to a flare they shot through the first time, and Fitz spots her.  It gets intense as Fitz tries to reach her and hold her while they pull him back in.  The monolith shatters, we see Fitz under the shredded remains…and then Simmons!  I was shocked they got her back this early in the season, but it was a great moment.

The remaining plot (boy, they are spinning a lot of plates) involves the missing May joining Hunter on his mission to kill Ward.  Unremarkable except for the interplay between May and her dad, played by the always wonderful James Hong (Po’s dad in the Kung Fu Panda movies, pretty much everywhere else they need an older male Asian actor with humor chops).

The high entertainment value continued this week, but there are still plenty of questions left to answer despite Simmons’ return.

  • What planet was she on?  Hala?  It looked more like a moon to me, and her getting stranded there reminded me a bit of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode where the Avengers get stuck on Hala and are attacked by strange creatures.
  • Werner’s giant H belt buckle is just great.
  • As is the team noting the SHIELD logo being plastered on everything may have not been the best idea.  Heh.
  • In the comics, Strucker had other children, Andrea and Andreas the Fenris twins.  They had powers but I doubt they want to bring them in right now.  This episode seems to be bringing the team slowly back together, but they preview for next week seems to show a ‘betrayal’ as Daisy tries to help Lincoln, on the run after being outed as an ‘alien’ in last week’s episode.
  • With a manhunt episode and the return of the ATCU, I don’t see things slowing down.  On to Civil War!
Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E01 Laws of Nature

I’ve got a bit of free time on my hands, so I am going to try and write more – and I thought I’d start recapping some of my favorite shows.  First up, Agents of SHIELD!

AoS season two dealt with the Inhumans, and the fact that Skye (now known by her real name, Daisy Johnson), was one of them.  It ended with Jemma Simmons sucked into a Kree monolith, Coulson with his arm chopped off, Ward looking to take over HYDRA, and May taking off.  And oh yeah, Terrigen seeping into the oceans, potentially setting off Terrigenesis in every potential Inhuman.

In fact, Season 3 kicks off with a scene of a normal dude fresh from his Terrigenesis – Joey (gotta be a version of The Melter, right?) is turning metal to liquid all over the place, but he doesn’t mean to.  He’s terrified, and it doesn’t help when a black-ops team rolls up.  Daisy, Mack, and Hunter show up to extract Joey however, and we get to see the full power of ‘Quake’.  Though she isn’t yet called that.  This show needs Cisco from the Flash to pop by to give everybody their names.  Coulson is on hand (ha!) to snap a picture of the leader of the opposing team so they can identify her.

This leads to two separate scenes that dovetail together nicely – Mack and Daisy are sent to get Lincoln back to help deal with Joey’s transition (they kind of stink at it), while Coulson and Hunter attempt to capture the shadowy lady in charge of the black ops team.  Coulson and Hunter get the tables turned on them, but it’s okay as Rosalind (as she is calling herself this time around) is talking, not shooting.  As they flirt/banter, both Coulson and Rosalind figure out the the other is NOT, in fact, the one killing Inhumans…and Lincoln, Daisy and Mack meet who is:Lash

This is Lash, a fairly recent addition to the comics.  I chose this panel specifically as I am fairly certain Lash’s motivations in the comics will match up with his AoS version – that all of the new Inhumans popping up are not worthy of Terrigenesis.  The three heroes barely escape Lash after Daisy cleverly uses her powers to drop him through the floor, while Coulson and Hunter engineer their escape when Rosalind is distracted.

There’s also a running story with Fitz, travelling the world looking for clues on getting Jemma back from the monolith.  He’s got little to lose, and risks his life to get a scroll from arms dealers, only for it to turn out to be less than helpful.  When he finally gets back to SHIELD, he breaks down, busting in to the sealed room where the monolith is, and has an epic freakout.  For a lot of other guys, it would come off as corny or over the top, but Iain De Caestecker as Fitz pulls it off.  The show ends with Simmons running from her life on what appears to be an alien moon.  She’s cut, and she smears mud on it quickly which seems to indicate an animal is chasing her?  And is she in orbit of Hala, perhaps?

It was a great start to the season, and I’m dying to get more on what is happening with Simmons.  And May.  And Ward.  And the “ATCU” (HAMMER?  SWORD?).

Random thoughts:

  • A shotgun-axe sounds like the lamest Final Fantasy weapon
  • Lincoln shares a last name with one of the names Coulson and the team found ‘Rosalind’ under – her real name, and her son is Lincoln?  Or a red herring?
  • The laws of nature getting broken came up a lot, and all I could think of was this:

Darren Cross 2

Now, I don’t think Cross survived his trip to the microverse, so it’s mostly just coincidental, but it was fun to ponder.  On to next week!

Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Knight Rider (Lion Forge)

I’m fairly easy-going about adaptations, especially compared to the internet at large.  Still, there’s something that doesn’t sit right with me about Lion Forge’s version of Knight Rider.  If you squint, it sort of resembles the source material.  There’s a talking car, and a guy named Michael Knight is driving it.  Aside from that, this Knight Rider has a lot more in common with the reboot/continuation that was attempted in 2008.  More guns, more government agency stuff (with goofy Chess themed names), and the car – which is not even technically KITT at the beginning – feels way off.  That’s the thing they always change, not one of the attempts to bring Knight Rider back ever gets KITT right.  Look, I get it, things need to be updated if they want to base the series in the modern age.  I mean, talking to your watch isn’t even that strange now with all the smartwatches out there.  But if you screw up the guts of the show, the friendship and banter between Michael and Kitt, you’ve chucked the best part of the show.  There was one way this would’ve worked: as a period piece.  Continue on from the show in the same vein as Batman ’66.  The 80’s setting would be fun, and you know there are artists out there who would kill on that hair and those fashions.  This, this here just had zero appeal to me as a fan of the previous show.

Thanks go to NetGalley for the review copy of Knight Rider Volume 1, by Geoffrey Thorne and Jason Johnson.

Books Review

Book Review – Firefight (Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners #2)

I enjoyed the first book in the Reckoners series (Steelheart) despite some silly YA trappings that felt like they were there just to check a box on a form (let’s have some new slang for the kids!) but I’m a sucker for some good comic book action, and I like the hook here.  In Sanderson’s world, anyone who gets powers (which started after an event called Calamity, a red star appearing in the sky), turns evil.  Firefight is a very good middle novel of a trilogy, as it both delves deeper into the question of WHY that happens, as well as amps up the danger for David and the other Reckoners heading into the final chapter.

In Firefight, David and Prof head to what once was Manhattan to seek out the Epic Regalia, who has been sending Epics to Newcago hunting them.  The intrigue only increases as it becomes clear Prof and Regalia had some history – possibly even before becoming Epics themselves.  David is also looking for Megan/Firefight, who he believes is the key to his understanding the link between Epics, their powers turning them evil, and their weaknesses as well.  Oh, and he loves her.

It’s a quick read, and it manages to both have a solid cliffhanger ending and not feel like it just cut off halfway through a story.  If you don’t mind the YA trappings, it’s worth checking out this series as a palate cleanser between your latest massive high fantasy series or space opera.

Movies Review

Lightning Movie Reviews – Ant-Man, Ultron, Minions

I have some catching up to do, so you get some quick thoughts on some recent flicks.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – The first movie was so successful, so it would’ve been difficult to meet expectations here. Ultron definitely was a half-step down but still had some great action and humor. Ultron himself could’ve used a bit more menace – something Spader would’ve been capable of, and in the end Ultron comes off a bit odd. I loved the Vision though, and for all the worry about Quicksilver and the comparison to the X-Men movie version, he and Wanda were great in their limited role. Special shout-out to Hawkeye who filled the ‘heart of the team’ role admirably, and was probably the funniest of the Avengers.

Ant-Man – Okay, I really enjoyed Ant-Man. Thought of as the riskiest project in the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy, especially with all the turmoil surrounding Edgar Wright’s departure. It didn’t catch fire like Guardians but has performed solidly, tracking to match or exceed Captain America: The First Avenger. The visuals were a ton of fun and seemed to keep some of the Edgar Wright weirdness around. I wish Hope could’ve been Wasp here but I’ll deal as long as they get her in for future MCU movies. I also hope we get to see more Hank Pym – I’d love to see Michael Douglas as Hank going toe to toe with Tony Stark.

Minions – Minions is the classic example of something that is funny in small bursts but drags when expanded out to feature-length. Like how Pinky and the Brain were funny on Animaniacs but significantly less so with their own 30 minute show. There were a few chuckles and it certainly wasn’t so bad as to be painful, but it’s telling that the biggest smile for me came from when (spoiler alert) young Gru appeared at the end. Catch it when it’s on FX or whatever.

Movies Review

Inside Out and When Marnie Was There

I’m late posting this, but I saw both Inside Out and When Marnie Was There with the kids, and boy was THAT an emotional wringer.  But in the best way. Seeing them both that close together makes for an interesting comparison – both movies focus on a girl dealing with the emotions of adolescence.

Riley in Inside Out starts out with a great life – attentive parents, friends, her hockey team, but it all gets turned upside down when her Dad’s new job takes her away. Anna, in When Marnie Was There, starts out in that same dark place. She’s in foster care, sent to the country for the summer to help with her breathing. She feels cut off from everyone, with the final straw being when she find out Yoriko, her foster mother, gets a stipend for taking care of her and Anna believes that means no one would care for her without external benefits.

In both cases, we experience their journeys to maturity though in vastly different ways. For Riley, we see how she’s leaned on “Joy” her whole life, and how “Sadness” helps her by letting those around her know she needs support. Anna, by contrast, makes a surprising family connection from her early childhood, and makes some friends in the process. Both movies can bring the tears though Inside Out counters it with humor (hey, it’s Pixar!) whereas When Marnie Was There will leave you with a melancholy smile, if that make sense.

I highly recommend both movies, as both are gorgeous in their own ways, and emotionally affecting. We watched Marnie in Japanese with subtitles, but the English cast is superb (Hailee Steinfeld, Geena Davis, John C. Reilly, Grey DeLisle) and I can’t wait to hear their dub. Pre-order Inside Out and When Marnie Was There.