PKD flashback: ‘Next’ (2007) (Movie review)


ext” (2007) is one of those Philip K. Dick adaptations that comes off shallower than his source material because it’s stretched into an action movie and the idea is the gimmick rather than the point. In the short story “The Golden Man” (1953), one of the best entries of “The Collected Stories, Volume 3,” a mutant can see into the future, making him indestructible and – since this particular being has no morals — dangerous. “Next” inserts a stage magician with this precognitive power (Nicolas Cage as Cris Johnson) into a “24” plot: There’s a nuclear bomb somewhere in Los Angeles.

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Superhero Saturday: Indie-style ‘Super’ (2010) is as subversively funny as it is shockingly violent (Movie review)


imilar to “Kick-Ass,” which preceded it by a couple months in 2010, “Super” takes on the elephant in the room of superhero movies. In 95 percent of genre films, the violence is stylized so the good guy knows the exact degree of punishment to dole out so the bad guy is subdued, but not dead; and in fact, the bad guy will probably make a full recovery – but he’ll be safely locked away by then. In real life, such expert control is almost impossible. “Super” aims to be more like real life.

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First episode impressions: ‘Nancy Drew’ (TV review)


imilar to what The CW did with “Riverdale” a few years ago, “Nancy Drew” (Wednesdays, CW) has been updated for modern times, and out of the gates, it’s refreshingly less silly than what “Riverdale” turned into. The mix isn’t precisely what I look for: It’s much more contemporary than it is a throwback, and it has a supernatural element that cuts into Nancy’s meat-and-potatoes clue gathering. But it’s not bad, and I can imagine enough people will like this version of Nancy that it could define the sleuth for this generation.

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First episode impressions: ‘Batwoman’ (TV review)


atwoman” (Sundays, CW) is the 17th current show produced by Greg Berlanti – that’s not a joke for the sake of exaggeration, he really does produce 17 shows that are currently on the air – and it’s as straight down the middle as all the others. Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Kate Kane/Batwoman (Ruby Rose), arrives as a slickly packaged superhero, perfectly filling out her suit – tailored by Luke Fox (son of Lucius, I imagine) – and ready to kick butt alongside The CW’s other DC superheroes (This is series No. 6).

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PKD flashback: ‘Radio Free Albemuth’ (1985) (Book review)


ooks about an individual being pestered by an authoritarian government are often difficult to read because of their hopeless nature, and a sense that it’s preaching to the choir (me, the reader). There’s also sometimes the problem wherein the author doesn’t make the government antagonistic enough, allowing paths for the hero to rebel that don’t exist in the real world. But Philip K. Dick’s “Radio Free Albemuth” (1985) avoids those traps because it has so many layers. And of course, it’s a PKD book, so it’s easy and fun to read, although in this case he tries out some uncharacteristic approaches.

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First episode impressions: ‘Almost Family’ (TV review)


 dramedy starring Brittany Snow and produced by Jason Katims should be at the top of my list of must-see fall shows, but the preview for “Almost Family” (Wednesdays, Fox) looked somewhere between weird and bad. The pilot episode of this series based on the Australian show “Sisters” (and probably with less input from Katims than his past shows, like “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood”) turns out to be surprisingly not terrible. But it lacks a great hook or winning formula, which explains why the makers of the trailer had a hard time cutting together something that’s easy to define.

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James Gunn-produced ‘Brightburn’ turns ‘Superman’ into a gory parental nightmare (Movie review)


he New Mutants” has been drawing buzz for a few years for being a superhero/horror mash-up, but as it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that movie will ever be released, “Brightburn” – from James Gunn’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) production team – steps in. In the “Superman” and “Roswell” sagas, the kids from other planets are benevolent and the humans are potential threats, but “Brightburn” asks “What if the roles were reversed?”

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Storytelling with soul: The 20 best ‘Angel’ episodes (TV commentary)


hen “Angel” premiered on Oct. 5, 1999, with “City of,” it was nominally a darker, more adult show than “Buffy,” its parent series and Tuesday night lead-in on The WB. But today, at the tail end of a decade of grim television (“prestige” though it may be), it’s notable how many smiles and laughs are to be found in even the most heart-wrenching hours of “Angel.”

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