John Candy wraps up his trilogy of starring roles in John Hughes movies – following “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “The Great Outdoors” – with the one where he’s asked to do the most heavy lifting. He’s not armed with an A-list co-star or a riotous screenplay in “Uncle Buck” (1989). In the seventh of the eight films where writer Hughes also directs, Candy’s title character finds his sweet bachelor lifestyle (betting at the track, a bowling league, no steady job) is not so cool anymore now that he’s 40.
Philip K. Dick’s “The Unteleported Man” (written in 1964, published in 1966) is usually reviewed today in its expanded form as “Lies, Inc.” (1984). While it’s great that we have both versions available, this is a rare case where Dick’s expansion made the book worse, so I think the original version is deserving of a look on its own. It can be tracked down fairly easily; I found it as part of a 1972 Ace Double with “Dr. Futurity.” (Be careful, as some versions of what we now know as “Lies, Inc.” were initially published as “The Unteleported Man.” It’s unavoidably confusing.)
Who needs “Jurassic World: Dominion”? (Well, actually, I could use a little “Jurassic World: Dominion.” Or any big franchise movie. But that’s not to be in 2020. So the sixth “Jurassic Park” movie is now slated for 2022.) But helping tide us over rather nicely is the animated “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (September, Netflix) (no, not “Camp Crustacean” … dumb autocorrect). This eight-episode season (with a second season already announced) is nominally aimed at children but will also appeal to some of us who got hooked on this franchise 30 years ago with Michael Crichton’s novel.
Reliquary” (1997) is the second Pendergast novel from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and even though he again doesn’t show up until quite a ways into the book, the FBI agent plays a more central role than in “Relic.” It’s also the second New York Museum of Natural History novel, but while it does include some scenes in the grand building and features employees Margo Green and Dr. Frock, this sequel gets out into the city – and beneath it.
Nowadays, lots of things are remade that elicit groans from fans, but “Swamp Thing” is a property that was ripe for a remake – which DC Universe delivered in a 10-episode series in 2019. For those of us too cheap to subscribe to the streamer, it’s now airing Tuesdays on The CW as pandemic-era filler. The two “Swamp Thing” movies of the 1980s would make all lists of Worst Superhero Movies except that they’re relatively old and obscure. Simply by having modern production values and not being embarrassing, TV’s “Swamp Thing” could improve on that cinematic dreck.
From Sept. 18-Oct. 16, we’re looking back at the nine films of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. Next up is the seventh film, “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994):
Next” (Tuesdays, Fox) was originally scheduled for the 2019-20 midseason but was delayed till now because of the pandemic. That’s only a half-year delay, but it already seems so dated. For one thing, the notion of a dangerous artificial intelligence hasn’t been shocking in at least 50 years; even 30-some years ago, “Terminator’s” Skynet was a plot device. For another, a victim of the titular AI’s engineered car accident, a side character played by John Billingsley, uses a flip phone, making me wonder if “Next” wasn’t repurposed from the 2009-10 TV season.
For roughly the first half of the season, “Dark Angel” Season 2 (2001-02, Fox) is in a sophomore slump to match the inevitable ratings slump that goes with Fox’s Friday-night sci-fi dumping ground. Then it remarkably turns things around and closes even more strongly than in Season 1. Logan (Michael Weatherly) regains his Season 1 hairstyle and glasses, and newcomers Alec (Jensen Ackles) and Joshua (Kevin Durand) finally get episodes that make them fully realized members of the hero team.
From Sept. 18-Oct. 16, we’re looking back at the nine films of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. Next up is the sixth film, “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” (1991):
John Hughes’ writing talent and knack for capturing teenagers’ voices were on display pretty early, but his direction is a little clunky at the start of his career. Granted, I gave “The Breakfast Club” a five-banana rating, but I love it despite its flaws and I suspect it was saved in the editing room. For “Pretty in Pink” (1986), Hughes remembers that high school is easier to get through with a friend, so he wisely brings in Howard Deutch to direct.