‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Angel’ Classic Issues 8-17 (2000-01) (Comic book reviews)

Once Tom Sniegoski joined Christopher Golden as a co-writer, and once Wesley joined Angel and Cordelia in the crime-solving trio, the “Angel” comic hit its stride. The back half of the Season 1 comics would turn out to also be the back half of the entire first volume from Dark Horse, as Joss Whedon – working on “Fray” at the time — put a halt to the title in order to reboot it as a superhero-styled comic (which ended up lasting only four issues). While there would be a lot more “Angel” comics through the years, particularly from IDW, Dark Horse’s “vintage” era ended too soon.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (1971) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the third film in the original series.

“Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971) is proof that you can’t stop sequels from being made. According to the “Behind the Planet of the Apes” documentary (1998), Charlton Heston came up with the idea of not only killing off Taylor, but also blowing up the Earth at the end of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), so as not to be dogged by yet another sequel. But a year later, the third film came out, propelled by a solution that was already present in the saga: time travel. Only this time, it’s in reverse, as Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall, back after a one-film absence) – fleeing the gorillas’ world of war — travel from 3955 to 1970s Los Angeles.

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‘A Quiet Place’ is a menacing masterpiece (Movie review)

Nothing in John Krasinski’s past would indicate that he had a film like “A Quiet Place” in him, and yet here we are. The onetime sitcom heartthrob has delivered a film that is not just frightening, but intimate and character driven. Sitting in the theater I was reminded of films like “The Descent” and “The Mist,” which similarly play on audience sympathies to up the scare factor by giving us characters we care about.

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As ‘Westworld’ nears its return to TV, here’s a look back at the Michael Crichton film that launched the franchise (Movie review)

With the second season of HBO’s “Westworld” set to debut on Sunday, I thought it’d be fun to finally watch writer-director Michael Crichton’s 1973 film that launched the franchise. The movie is well-known among sci-fi geeks, one of those classic dystopian visions that were popular in the wake of ’Nam. Yet it seems to be under-viewed and was therefore ripe for the TV re-imagining. While the movie is visually dated – the theme park’s inner sanctum has a starkness similar to the adaptation of Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” from two years prior — it’s remarkable how little updating of the template the HBO series had to do.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row’ (2000) (Book review)

Christopher Golden delivers the first masterpiece of the “Buffy” adult novel line with “Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row” (October 2000), the second hardcover in the series. The best, and least handcuffed parts, of Golden’s previous works (both solo and when writing with Nancy Holder) had been the centuries-spanning backstories of the demons Buffy fights in that particular book. Here, the author is allowed to revel in the past, telling of Spike and Drusilla as they pick off Slayers-in-Waiting in 1940, after stealing a list from Watchers Council headquarters in London.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ (1970) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at the second film in the original series.

Despite common misconception, “Planet of the Apes” (1968) does not reveal that nuclear warfare knocked the humans back a peg; that’s what Taylor (Charlton Heston) guesses, but it’s not confirmed until the second entry, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). The underground mutant bomb worshippers peel back their false faces to reveal their true radiation-scarred visages. They worship The Bomb as if it’s a god (this film could’ve been subtitled “How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”), and indeed, a genetic effect from the bombs has given them telepathic and mind-control abilities.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Angel’ Classic Issues 1-7 and Dark Horse Presents Issues 153-155 (1999-2000) (Comic book reviews)

Christopher Golden is arguably the elite “Buffy”/“Angel” spinoff writer, but the early issues of Dark Horse’s classic “Angel” series prove he’s not infallible. I assume he wasn’t given enough time to get a good feel for the Angel-Cordelia-Doyle dynamic, because Issues 1-7 – which comprise the entire Doyle era of the series – mostly rely on the parent show for us to feel anything for these characters. Maybe Glenn Quinn has one of those faces that doesn’t translate to an artist’s pencil, because he usually doesn’t look right. The best likeness comes in his very last panel, in Issue 6.

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Celebrating 50 years of ‘Apes’: Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) (Movie review)

This series celebrates 50 years of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Here, we look back at director Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the material for his 2001 film.

Screenwriters William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal shake out the puzzle pieces of the 1968 “Planet of the Apes” screenplay and Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel and reassemble them in a fresh fashion for uber-director Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” (2001), which is loved by some and loathed by many, but certainly provides lots of things to talk about.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Ghoul Trouble’ (2000) (Book review)

John Passarella makes a strong Buffyverse debut (he’d go on to write two “Angel” novels) with “Ghoul Trouble” (October 2000). Set in the spring semester of Season 3, this young-adult entry has a lot of elements that feel like a standalone TV episode, notably a band called Vyxn that plays a five-night stand at the Bronze and has all the male concertgoers under its thrall.

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‘The Greatest Showman’ is a beautiful celebration of showbiz that doesn’t pretend to be subtle (Movie review)

“The Greatest Showman” (2017), now available for home viewing, takes us back to a time when anything is possible if you dream big and are persistent. Did such a time ever exist? That’s beside the point, as is what happened behind the scenes at Phineas Barnum’s circuses. (Don’t do an extensive internet search if you don’t want your illusions shattered.) Last year’s most-hyped musical is – within its own confines – a joyous celebration of dreams and achievements, with brief nods to hardships.

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