Ever since Taken became a surprise hit in January 2008, Liam Neeson has been slowly pigeonholed into the role of revenge-seeking man with a particular set of skills. Since several of the films he made over the next few years, including Unknown, The Grey, and Non-Stop, were also released in January or February and did well at the box office, it makes sense. It almost became an event to see Neeson’s new action-thriller to start the year off right! They’ve tried to replicate this success over the past couple of years but after the dismal attempt to recapture that same magic with Cold Pursuit in 2019, it’s getting harder to get excited for yet another Taken-retread in the early months of the year. That doesn’t bode well for The Marksman, Neeson’s new thriller about a rancher who fights off the cartel to give a young boy a new life.Read Full Review
After a mostly dreadful year in movies, all we can hope is that things change as we creep slowly into 2021. In a normal year, January would be a dumping ground for films that couldn’t hack it during the summer or fit comfortably into the holiday season mold (or Oscar-bait contenders expanding into additional theaters). Because there were no Oscar films released over the last few months that weren’t directly sent to streaming services, and for the most part, a lot of theaters across the country are still closed, it doesn’t bode well for the offerings that will come our way over the next few weeks. This is backed up by the first major offering of 2021, Redemption Day, which can’t seem to find a voice it cares about.Read FuLl Review
Ah 2020. The year that saw movie theaters close for half the year (and in some states, the majority of the year), production studios shut down for months and product being shipped off to On-Demand and streaming services. Because of that, this year marks the first year that a movie premiering on a streaming service has made my list of Best and Worst movies of the year.
Despite everything that happened over this past year, I was still able to see 39 films in theaters (down from the normal 115-130 movies I normally see). I also saw 15 movies on Disney+, Hulu and Netflix to bring my grand total to 54, 20 of which earned a grade of A- or above. Believe me when I say that there were a lot of stinkers out there this year, but there were also a lot of bright spots as well, and some movies that did make my top 10, like the box office itself, probably wouldn’t have made the list had the insanity that was 2020 not come to pass. With that said, here are my picks for the Best and the Worst of 2020.Read Full List
This season’s most noticeable trend: COVID-19 Finale Alterations
Though a lot of shows weren’t impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown (as filming had already been completed on all episodes), many shows had to shorten their seasons anywhere from one to five episodes, depending on their production schedule. While most of these shows, especially sitcoms and procedurals, had the luxury of simply ending their seasons early (without major cliffhangers to satisfy us until next season), some had to change or alter their story arcs to condense the season accordingly, leading to mixed results. The Blacklist had to complete what would end up being their finale with animation that in many ways distracted from what was actually happening (I would like to see them finish this episode once production starts again and then re-air it as it was meant to be seen); New Amsterdam completely removed an episode that introduced a new character due to the nature of the content (which they say will be aired eventually… we’ll see; at least The Resident didn’t shy away from their virus-themed episodes); Prodigal Son condensed a few of their storylines to make sure they could get the finale they wanted and did a fantastic job in delivering the finale they intended without losing any of the show’s integrity; and Supergirl, somehow pulled off a win by throwing some of the footage it filmed for its final episode into episode 19, which then served as its season finale.Read full awards
Read on for Part 2 of this year’s Television Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Cutest Creature: The Child, Star Wars: The Mandalorian
The moment this little creature peeks out of the blanket in his little hover pod, you automatically want one of your own! If that wasn’t enough, during the next episode we get to see him walk, play, eat an entire frog whole like a duck and prove his worth with force power. The puppetry (which we later learn in Disney+’s Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian was performed by five separate puppeteers) was outstanding, giving the little guy the perfect amount of curiosity, emotion and carefree attitude that proved that the Mandalorian had a soft side under the hard exterior of his bounty hunter predilections. From saving his friends from a flamethrower to sipping soup while watching his new father-figure fight, the Child (who was instantly and affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda”) became a favorite among hardcore and non-hardcore Star Wars fans alike.Read Full Awards
Despite COVID-19 stopping nearly all production in Hollywood for months on end, the show must go on. That’s right, the Emmy’s air this Sunday as normal (well, as normal as it can be), which means it’s time again for my annual TV Awards! (See previous Awards – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
Not only was there plenty of shows to choose from on network TV, new streaming platforms, including Disney+, Quibi and Peacock, made their debuts, adding more content then we could possibly view unless we spent 24/7 on our couches… which, come to think of it, isn’t out of the realm of possibility these days. So, as always, over the next two days we’ll grant awards, good and bad, to over twenty series, compiling several actors, scenes and moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the tumultuous season.
Best New Series: The Mandalorian
Is it the hype? Is it my bias for everything Star Wars? Or is it simply because The Mandalorian was just that good? I think it may be a little of everything, but that’s why this show became the cherry on top of the 2019-2020 season. The Mandalorian had a lot riding on its shoulders, being the show that would basically make or break the launch of Disney+, and yet, Jon Favreau (together with animated Star Wars vet Dave Filoni) was up to the task, matching (maybe even exceeded) all the hype with terrific direction, an incredible score, streamlined stories that still had enough meat even if they didn’t completely move the story forward, and the most scene-stealing character this side of Boo. Better yet, it did what no other Star Wars property since Empire Strikes Back has been able to do — unite all Star Wars fans for the good by taking the essence of George Lucas’s vision and creating something entirely new and fresh. By mixing the use of old-school practical effects with new world-building computer-based technology, it gave everyone a visually-stunning piece of artwork that no one wanted to see end. At a scant twenty to thirty minutes per episode, The Mandalorian didn’t feel like it was enough to fulfill our weekly Star Wars fix, yet was exactly the amount we needed. If you haven’t guessed yet, I can’t wait for the next season.Read Full Awards
The following is an excerpt from my novel, Year of the Songbird, written in 2012 that I felt extremely relevant to what is currently happening in the world today. The story takes place several years in the future and follows a young blind girl who is lured away from her home with the promise of sight, only to learn about the horrific history of what lead to World War III. I wrote the novel based on the political climate at the time and where I thought things might go if nothing changed.
CAUTION: The following speech/account is made by a character in the novel who is meant to be a hard-core racist, bigoted SOB (one who only became this way after watching what happened to his family during the war for which he speaks). It includes language that may be inappropriate for younger readers, as well as derogatory terms and generalizations that, taken out of context with the entirety of the novel, may feel insensitive to some.
READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!Read Excerpt
It’s been almost three months since my last movie review due to the coronavirus pandemic shuttering theaters back on March 17. Although there have been a handful of movies (Trolls, Scoob! and The Lovebirds) that skirted their big screen release dates to premiere as streaming service rentals over the last couple of months, the price for entry was a bit too high for my blood for these particular films.
Had Artemis Fowl followed suit, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second look either, despite the fact that I would have gone to see all of them in the theaters. Disney, however, decided the already delayed film about a young boy who learns that the world of fairies and other magical creatures he’s been studying from a young age is actually real when his father is kidnapped, was best suited to help bolster Disney+. Thanks to The Mandalorian and all the upcoming Marvel series, I’m already a subscriber to the fledgling streaming service, so this was a perfect opportunity to get back on the review train.Read Full Review
Vin Diesel’s got the perfect vocal range for supplying voices to animated creatures like an iron giant or a massive tree, but as an on-screen personality, he just isn’t all that captivating to me. I didn’t care for the Riddick or XXX films, nor do I find much of what he does outside of fast cars worth watching. (And let’s face it, the Fast and Furious franchise didn’t get interesting until they added a Rock with a dose of logic melting, physics shattering action sequences.) Bloodshot is yet another attempt for Diesel to appear relevant. And though the film is better than most of his non-Fast adventures, it’s only because the supporting cast makes the whole intriguing premise pass muster.Read Full Review
When John Lasseter started Pixar, he made a commitment to only make movies that had a strong foundation. That meant he would only put films into production that had a great script. Some may say this hasn’t always been the case (see: Cars 2 or The Good Dinosaur), but for the majority of films produced by the animation stalwart over the last twenty-five years, the promise for strong stories and characters has flourished, even after Lasseter was forced out of the company. This tradition continues with Onward, where everything that’s made Pixar the king of animation is on full display.Read Full Review