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Entertainment Rex: Stewart’s January 2021 Entertainment Ratings

February 5, 2021 | Posted by Rob Stewart
WandaVision

Welcome to our newest feature: Entertainment Rex! Twice a month, I will look back on what I’ve read, watched, and experienced and let you know if it can be recommended or not (is that… semi-monthly? Bi-monthly is every other month, right? What means “twice a month”? Semi… Bi-sometimesly? Anyone have any help here?).

I’ll be honest with you… mostly I am experiencing a bad back. My wife and I bought our new house back in April, and whole I have always been kind of a yutzy dude, I’ve not often been dangerously uncoordinated. Well since we have moved here, I have fallen down stairs no fewer than FOUR TIMES! Where has my ability to climb steps gone? The most recent fall was in early December, and it involved my heel just slipping out from under me when I started down the stairs from our second floor. I thunked down the stairs on my ass, and ever since then, I’ve just been waiting around for my back to stop hurting.

It hasn’t!

Probably I am seriously, direly injured. If these articles cease without warning, it is safe for you to assume that my back pain has grown in ferocity and power and claimed me as a victim. Perhaps I will be paralyzed. Maybe I’ll have passed on from the anguish. But know that in my last moments, I was thinking of you.

Maybe.

I don’t know, I have a lot on my mind. I’m sure you were all in the periphery.

This is all very dramatic! Mostly my back just hurts when I am sitting upright. Ibuprofen helps.

I’ll probably be okay.

PROBABLY.


MOVIES

This was… a pretty cut-and-dried case of quantity over quality to start 2021, BUT I did sneak in my first ever viewing of The Shawshank Redemption, believe it or not! It’s apparently one of my wife’s favorite movies ever, and she was aghast at finding out I had never watched it. It took her several days of getting on my case to watch it, but we finally did.

She was right. I was really prepared to be underwhelmed by this (as I had been with Alien), but it is just fantastically acted. And while narration in a movie is usually a crutch and a detriment, it worked perfectly here to remind you that this was drawn from a book. It’s weird to me because… what is the STORY of Shawshank? It’s not a plot driven movie by any stretch, and to go almost two-and-a-half full hours with just a minimal story… how does that succeed? It works because everyone involved is putting in an A+ effort into their performances, and the writing makes you care.

And that is my quick review of a twenty-six year old film that is regarded as MAYBE the greatest ever made, and everyone on Earth but me had already seen. MOVING ON…

Yeah, nothing else here was even in the same stadium. Pumpkinhead was probably the second best flick I saw, and that was part of the Connecticut Cult Classics watch parties where we just heckled it. I REALLY THOUGHT I remembered Batman Forever being better than it was.

It isn’t.

SECOND HALF OF JANUARY:

Man, I know Alita Battle Angel has this enormous cult following of rabid fans, but… it’s really not that good. It looks great, sure, and has some standout action sets, but the story is a mess, it feels longer than it is, and even the best actors involved are pretty much sleep-walking through it. The best thing I will say about it is that after about the 40 minute mark, I FINALLY stopped staring in dread at Alita’s god damn eyes.

I’m not kidding, though. It’s a 120 minute movie that I swear to go was actually 400 minutes long.

I finally rewatched Game Night, and I can honestly say I laugh throughout that movie, from beginning to end, non-stop. One of the most underrated comedies of all-time.

The main difference in the 1.5 stars for Never Too Young To Die and Before The Fire are that one was well-made, but tedious and not enjoyable (Before The Fire); the other was woefully constructed, but silly enough to be entertaining (Never Too Young…). Before The Fire just needed to cast John Stamos!


TELEVISION

I am notoriously not much of a TV watcher, so this is likely to be my thinnest category most times, but I did watch a few things!

First up: the first two rounds of the NFL playoffs!

Here’s a secret about me: I believe in almost nothing fantastical. I don’t believe there are aliens to any degree that we can ever encounter or resemble life like anything we know. I don’t have any faith in ghosts or any kind of afterlife. I don’t think people that claim to be psychics or have extraordinary gifts are for real.

BUT!

I am HEAVILY sports superstitious.

So when I wore a Seahawks jersey for the FIRST TIME ALL SEASON in a year in which they went 12-4, AND I had to watch the game at my sister-in-law’s house instead of my own… OF COURSE they lost. How could they not? I double-whammy’d them. Aliens aren’t real, but if I watch a game from a few miles away from where I have watched other games, that affects the Seahawks’ ability. Obviously.

The Seahawks may have lost, breaking my heart, but the Steelers also shit the bed against Cleveland (CLEVELAND!), and that was as good as a salve as possible. I can only tolerate Seattle not winning if the Steelers also fail.

It looks like the championship games are KC/BUF and GB/TB. I am fine with any of those teams winning, I guess. I’ll probably pull for Tampa Bay because seeing Tom Brady get ANOTHER ring would be hilarious. They should just rename the Super Bowl in his honor after he retires.

WandaVision episode 1 review: "Showcases how experimental Marvel can be with these Disney Plus shows" | GamesRadar+

I also caught the first two episodes of WandaVision, as, it seems, did the entire rest of the world. It’s… hard to describe. I am fully engaged in the show and its mysteries (who was calling out to Wanda on the radio? Who is watching her on TV? Who is the Beekeeper?), but I didn’t really love the first two offerings. They were fine. Weird, as they were supposed to be, but all establishment in a way that makes it feel like nothing that has happened yet is “important”. The show has just set up the universe from which Wanda needs to break free (inevitably leading to a “Do I stay here in a false reality with the man I love, or break free and lose him again” scenario), and future episodes will more assuredly focus on who is constructing that universe. Wow, I remember when that was a single episode of Supernatural. For the MCU, it gets a whole season of a show.

Additionally, I watched the first two episodes of Hell’s Kitchen season whatever, the All-Star season. My wife really likes cooking competition shows, and this is apparently as far as she had made it into Hell’s Kitchen, so I watched the first two episodes with her. Gordon Ramsey must live in a pocket dimension where he has time to do HK, MasterChef, MasterChef Jr, the other show where he yells at restaurant owners, and run his several establishments he owns.

Meanwhile, it’s taking me all day to write this article.

As an aside: Gordon and I share a birthday. You’d think we could share motivation and talent.

SECOND HALF OF JANUARY:

Two more episodes of WandaVision have come out. I see that opinion is somewhat split on this show–not a lot of middle ground, though; there is “I love it” and “It’s weird and boring” in equal amounts.

I’m all in on it at this point. I mentioned after the first two episodes that I was invested, but I wasn’t sure if I “liked” it. Episodes three and four brought me all the way in. I love the mystery of it all, and even though the fourth offering seems to have resolved a lot, I bet there’s a lot more we don’t know about yet.

WandaVision is allegedly supposed to beget the sequel to Dr. Strange, which is supposed to beget the MCU’s third Spidey movie, but we aren’t QUITE seeing anything having to do with multiverses yet. So that will likely (hopefully?) tie in with the remaining episodes.

Resident Alien (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb

I swear to god, for the last two-plus months, I couldn’t STOP seeing ads online for Alan Tudyk’s new SyFy vehicle, Resident Alien. And those ads had their desired effect because I was highly anticipating the show by the time it premiered on 1/27. Every time I was on FB and it populated a new ad, I watched it and grew more eager.

Was it worth the wait? I always tend to think pilots are hard to judge a show by, but I did enjoy this one a great deal. Tudyk is his typical genius self, and I’m positive I’ve never NOT enjoyed him. What seems to be the long-term plot feels a bit reheated (our protagonist is not actually a good guy, but he’ll learn to be and ultimately make some kind of sacrifice), but the characters and the writing have me hooked well enough that I’ll stick around. And like I said: pilots, man.

Kudos to SyFy for having another show besides Face-Off for me to watch.

Speaking of reality TV competitions! My wife is STILL powering through Hell’s Kitchen! She is in season 18 now–All-Stars vs Rookies–and we watched the first few of that. The promo for the last episode we saw promised the All-Stars were going to fight dirty and start sabotaging their competitors, but then… that didn’t happen at all? Not even a little bit. It was the falsest advertising ever. This is why I have trust issues, reality TV. “The Blue Team sabotages this dude’s pork chop!”. No they didn’t; he just didn’t take it out of the oven.


READING

Young Justice (1998-) #47 by Peter David, Todd Nauck | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

So I read, for the most part, the entirety of Young Justice, the Peter David and Todd Nauck DC book from around the turn of the century (which is a fun phrase to say to make 20 year old things feel especially old timey). I have always been a huge fan of this series, but I spent a few months in recent history scouring local comic shops for the back issues I still needed. I still don’t have the ENTIRE run–for whatever reason, I haven’t found issues #14-19, 21, 27, 30, or 38–but I will continue poking around until I complete it.

This series mostly holds up because Nauck is an absolute top-tier artist, and David is a very entertaining writer who can so effortlessly blend humor and depth, even if there are far more dated references in this title than I’d like (the first issue makes a joke about the 90’s teen band HANSON, for god’s sake).

I also finished up two Spider-Man comics, the first being Full Circle, an ensemble creative team venture from 2019 where one pair of writer-and-artist would tell part of a story before handing it off to others. It was… fine. I like the talent involved, but I almost wish it had been even weirder than it was (and I say that about a book with a werewolf Aunt May and a future Spider-Man who been turned into a pig). The second Spidey book was a re-read of the “Torment” storyline, Todd McFarlane’s first arc on the Spider-Man title that was created just for him after his rampant popularity from Amazing Spider-Man. The art is still gloriously beautiful because this wasn’t just Todd, but Todd at his BEST because he was working his tuchas off to impress new fans, but the story is so-so. McFarlane’s writing is pretty one-note, but… who cares? Look at the way he draws the Lizard!

SECOND HALF OF JANUARY:

I haven’t read many comics in the last two weeks, but I did finally catch a LITTLE bit up on Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man, having read issues #14-24, which encompasses the “Hunted” storyline.

It’s still good, and I still dramatically approve of Spencer over the years and years of Dan Slott that came before him. Kraven stories all feel a lot like “Kraven Stories” to me, though, and in a few years, I will be completely unable to tell you the difference between “Hunted” and the previous Kraven story from back in… whenever that was. What was it called? The Grim Hunt. And both of those so badly wanted to be Kraven’s Last Hunt all over again.

I will be honest, though… the pairing of Kraven and Acrade is not one I thought I’d ever see. It’s unique! They don’t seem like they have anything in common, but it totally works here based on what Kraven is trying to accomplish. I’ll dig up some more ASM trades to keep going on Spencer’s run.


GAMING

I am one of the worst types of gamers. The kind who just buys games and barely ever plays then, if I play them at all. The immensely popular The Witcher 3? I bought that over a year ago, and I think I’m about a two hours into it. It just never held my interest, and there were too many controls. I played the whole tutorial part of the game, and then when I picked it back up a month later, I’d forgotten how to do anything, and these swamp creatures–essentially the first enemies I have found!–keep murderdeathkilling me. Pfft.

So of course when the PlayStation store had their Holiday sale, I stocked up on games I may to may not actually play because apparently I am just independently wealthy like that.

I grabbed Madden ’21 because I seemingly buy Madden once every three years now (my most previous Madden purchases were ’18, ’15, and ’12). Eventually I will work up the bravery to play online so kids can destroy me, but I’ve been periodically playing a Franchise with Seattle. The nice thing about Madden is that it is MADDEN, and if I stop playing for a few months, I’ll always remember how. It’s just muscle memory.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope review | GodisaGeek.com

Part of my holiday sale purchase also included the second game in the Dark Pictures Anthology series, Little Hope. Having played through both the last game in the series, Man of Medan, and the series’ spiritual predecessor, Until Dawn, I was happy to see a new game had been released!

Little Hope is… not as good as its older brothers.

The game is fine, and it takes a twist on what you need to do to survive that is slightly different than the others, but the ending is an ENORMOUS let down! When my wife and I made it to the end and got the final pieces of everything… it makes the vast majority of the story before it feel pointless. Obviously I’m hedging against spoilers here, but we were disappointed in the conclusion. Hopefully the next game in the series rebounds!

The third game from the sale I purchased was the Final Fantasy 7 remake for 50% off.

Hey, remember the 90’s? When the actual FF7 came out? And the idea was “Wow, this game is HUGE and expansive! We better put in on three separate discs! But it’s one game, so it costs what one game costs!”. Well, it’s the 2020’s now, and the FF remake is just a remake of PART of FF7 that costs full price. The rest of the remake will be released in subsequent portions that will, undoubtedly, ALSO cost full price.

Still, am I complaining? Not that much. Because it’s still Final Fantasy 7! People will tell you FF7 is an overrated game, but those people are awful and I hate them. FF7 is deservedly one of the most beloved video games of all time, and I’m thrilled to get to experience it again, except with, like, voice acting.

So, sure, guys. I’ll buy it 3 or 4 times. Why not? I’m a sucker.

SECOND HALF OF JANUARY:

I’m still playing the Final Fantasy 7 remake whenever I can get the wife to come watch (she generally enjoys spectating on games that have a good story, though I think the frequency of attacking bad guys is a bit boring for her). I’m a little over 3 hours in, and I enjoy taking the time to savor this. It’s a bit frustrating that they threw in a bunch of new side quests (go became a famous merchant by killing rats and finding cats) instead of giving us the whole game…

But then I remember the “whole game” had a terribly dated snowboard mini-game in it. So it’s FINE, I suppose.

Buy The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim® from the Humble Store

And YES. Aside from FF7 and Madden, I’ve started playing Skyrim AGAIN. Skyrim and Pokemon, man. I always come back to those. I’ve beaten Skyrim two or three times, but ever since getting my PS4, I’ve only done a bunch of start/stop plays to fidget around with downloaded mods. I wanted to play a game where I modded up to the point of being high level and high power right away; Skyrim is a deep, enjoyable world, but I distinctly recall how much I hate the Smith/Enchant grind to level up that I always fell into. So screw that! I’ll just read a bunch of books right off the bat and make broken items.

I may have gone too far… I think I accidentally made my character invulnerable, and that isn’t fun. I want to be REALLY STRONG, not literally unstoppable. I just stood still and let a bear maul me for a few seconds, and my health didn’t drop at all. I should recraft my items to fix this.

Also, I’ve never really played the DLC much to know what I think of it. But right now, I’m vampire hunting for the Dawn…guard? Dawnstars? DawnTon? Definitely Dawn something.

And yes, I’m covering Skyrim in my monthly recommendations column, but eh. It’s what I’ve been playing. “Might I interest you in an eleven year old game that literally everyone on Earth has played and knows about?” Real cutting edge stuff here.


And that is it for the first month of 2021! What about you all? What have you been enjoying? Let us know in the comments. Hopefully I have as much to comment on for the rest of the year as I did today.

Until next time… takes care!