So there were a few more panels this year that I didn’t talk about in my earlier pieces, and the reason why is that they covered topics that I wanted to go into with a bit more depth and nuance than I did with the others. We’ll cover VocAmerica next time, but for now I think it’s time we had a talk about sexism in anime. Now keep in mind that this is all my own recollections and interpretations of what was discussed at these panels, and my opinion should not be taken in isolation. There are PLENTY of people who talk about these subjects with much more authority and eloquence than I could possibly muster. Let’s get started!!
Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW
Episode directed by Lee Toland Krieger
The day has finally arrived for Archie and the gang to get their grim and gritty reboot that I’m SURE at least one person out there was asking for! Alright, the trailers didn’t give me a whole lot of hope for this series considering it looked more like The Vampire Diaries than its source material, but adapting ANYTHING from one medium to another does require there to be some changes, so I’m more than willing to give this a shot even if my expectations have been lowered based on what I’ve seen so far. Does the pilot manage to assuage my fears and deliver on the legacy that these characters have, or is this a subpar teen drama with Archie branding splattered all over it? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with narration by Jughead (Cole Sprouse) that reminds me more of an embittered noir detective rather than the easy going burger chomping bro who inexplicably wears a crown, but at least it’s better than whatever the hell they were doing with him in the LAST live action adaptation. At the very least, he does provide us a bit of backstory as the all the interesting stuff seemed to have already happened before we go here. So what DID happen? Back on The Fourth of July, the Blossom twins, Cheryl and Jason (Madelain Petsch and Trevor Stines) pulled a James Franco and went off to do something dangerous without letting anyone know and apparently without any cellphones. The dangerous act in question turns out to be an early morning boat ride on the Riverdale River (I assume that’s what it’s called) where they don’t even bother to bring safety equipment or even life jackets. Then again, I assume those would be ripped off right away ALONG WITH ALL THEIR CLOTHES.
Archie: Return to Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned by NBC
Directed by Dick Lowry
I was given my first Archie Double Digest by my grandma as reading material for a field trip I was taking in Middle School. Seems apropos considering I had discovered Calvin and Hobbes on her book shelf, and sure enough I was hooked right away. Now this was ALSO a time in my life where I didn’t have disposable income, so I couldn’t get as many books as I had hoped, but those characters are still endearing to me to this day and I’ll try to catch up on them every once in a while. A somewhat foolish endeavor considering how dense the continuity is and the breadth of the content there is out there, but it’s certainly better than trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Marvel or DC at any given time. Now were on the cusp of the CW series Riverdale which I will absolutely be recapping even if the trailers haven’t inspired a whole lot of hope for me. Seriously, WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE IT’S GONNA BE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, AND WHY IS MISS GRUNDY A HOT TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD MUSIC TEACHER!? That’s all for another day however, as I have something else to show you right now! Did you know that the CW series isn’t the first time that Archie has been in Live Action!? In 1990, NBC premiered a Made for TV movie called Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again which was shortened to Archie: Return to Riverdale when it was released on VHS. I just so happened to find this thing in a Goodwill about a month ago, as if by fate. Like this was in my destiny or something! Is it any good? Well let’s find out!!
The movie takes place fifteen years after the events of… let’s say MOST of the books. For the most part, Archie is a high school student , and while there are plenty of books out there about him AFTER high school such as the reboot of Life with Archie also known as Archie: The Married Life, if you go to the grocery store and pick up a Double Digest, the dude is gonna be racing to his math class and drinking milkshakes at Pop’s Diner. We basically get a montage of the three main characters in this, Veronica Lodge (Karen Kopis), Betty Cooper (Lauren Holly), and of course Archie Andrews (Christopher Rich), who are all preparing for their fifteen year high school reunion; the former two by the way are PARTICULARLY excited to see the latter despite Betty already having a boyfriend and Veronica having been recently divorced. Could you blame them? I mean, look at the guy!
Alright look. I KNOW it’s been a while since I did the last one of these and that NekoCon has been over for almost three months now. Things got… complicated after the convention, and that coupled with the Holiday Season means this was put on the back burner for a while. I’m getting to it now though, and hopefully my memory as well as my notes can bring you a proper look at the guest panels I was able to attend! Anyway, let’s start with the big one!
Aniplex Industry Panel
Ah yes! The good ol’ runner up in the anime biz! Sadly there was no Funimation Panel this year which is a shame considering the one they put on last year was very professional and actually got me interested in some shows as well as their streaming service. Compare that to what Aniplex shat out in 2015 and there was no contest. It was just a viewing of one episode a show and then they randomly handled out swag at the end. Now thankfully they seem to have taken a page from Funimation and managed to put together an ACTUAL presentation of their upcoming releases which is preferable to… whatever the hell they did last year. Now that being said, when I name the anime I love it usually comes from Funimation, while Aniplex had… I don’t know, that Fullmetal Alchemist series that I actually still like but everyone seemed to turn on when Brotherhood came out? Well, you never know! Maybe they’ll surprise me and show something that’s an ACTUAL must see! Let’s see what they had to show us!
Right off the bat, there’s this which seems to be all about this one dude who’s talented and sad being cheered on by a girl who’s talented and sad; the former on the piano and the latter on the violin. I don’t know what to tell you, the trailer was one big pep talk to this guy who doesn’t seem all that interesting and there’s nothing in here to elicit the tiniest bit of interest for me. If there’s one genre I’m just so freaking tired off, aside from cruelty gore fests, is the overwrought school drama. Hell, if it was for occasionally awesome comedies like Nichijou, School Rumble, or Lucky Star, I’d be happy to never see another freaking show set in a school ever again. It’s just not an interesting place to set anime at this point because of how overdone it is and I’m just sick to death of everything this show seems to be. If I were to give this many praise, it looks like the animation is done well, particularly in the performance scenes which look really smooth and carefully choreographed. I highly doubt they were rotoscoped, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were modeled after records of someone actually playing those instruments. However, that’s still not enough for me to even bother with this so… I guess check it out if you’re not as jaded as I am.
Split and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by M Night Shyamalan
We all want Shyamalan to have a comeback and to find a way to make up for the last fifteen years of his career; especially when it includes such unmitigated disasters like After Earth, The Last Airbender, or even The Happening which is fun to watch but for none of the reasons he intended it to be. Now he did manage to knock out at least one decent film recently which was The Visit, but it was also a clear sign of how far his status has fallen that he was picking up Blumhouse scraps on a dopey premise with a found footage gimmick. Now it WAS probably the best thing he made since Signs, but even with that it still wasn’t all that great and wasn’t something that I could imagine a dozen other much less accomplished directors directing along with three other direct to video horror films that year. With this movie though, it seems he’s making a much more earnest effort; not just a paycheck to keep his name relevant, but an honest attempt to make the next great M Night movie that we’ve been waiting for since Bush won reelection. Does the latest M Night thriller finally bring him back into the spotlight, or is this the final curtain call for the much maligned filmmaker? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the teenagers, Claire, Marcia, and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Anya Taylor-Joy), being kidnapped by a mysterious dude for clearly nefarious purposes. Once they wake up from this… spray the guy uses (do they actually make Knock Out spray?), they find themselves in some sort of basement with two beds, a small bathroom, and a locked door. Not long after they wake up, they are confronted by their captor Dennis (James McAvoy) who doesn’t give much details but makes it clear that he isn’t about to let them go. Sometime later, they meet Patricia (James McAvoy) who apologizes for Dennis’s rude behavior, and eventually they meet young Hedwig (James McAvoy) who tells them they’re all screwed. Now if you couldn’t pick up on it yet, or you haven’t seen the trailers, these are all the same person as their captor, given name Kevin, has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is said to have 23 distinct personalities, though maybe five or six are relevant to the movie. From there, the movie just builds the tension as more time passes and the women are dreading what their captor has planned for them which, according to Hedwig, are PROBABLY not good things. While that’s going on, Kevin’s therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is getting messages from one of his identities, Barry, claiming that they DESPERATLEY need to see her, but whenever he comes in, he seems perfectly fine and is sorry to be wasting her time. Hm… So just what does Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig have planned for the women in his basement? Will the good doctor find out that everything is certainly NOT fine before it’s too late? What exactly are those other identities we don’t to see really like?
xXx: Return of Xander Cage and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by DJ Caruso
I know I’ve SEEN the first xXx movie, but the only things I can recall are a fake diner, non-lethal bullets with fake blood in them, and a bunch of scientist being killed by the bad guys because reasons. Needless to say that it didn’t leave much of an impression on me considering how poorly I can recall it as well as the fact that I never felt the need to go back and rewatch it. Still, what with The Fast and the Furious becoming the most popular international franchise outside of Marvel, they obviously had to milk this franchise again; something that didn’t seem to go well the last time they did it with Ice Cube, but I guess now that XANDER CAGE is back, we can take one more swing at it! Does the return of Vin Diesel breathe new life into a franchise that’s been comatose for over a decade, or is this just one big Weekend at Bernie’s scheme gone even worse than any of us could imagine? Let’s find out!!
The movie opens up with NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), who I guess was in the first movie, trying to recruit some football player (as in Soccer) to be a member of xXx, though I’m not sure if that’s a title, the name of the organization, or both. It doesn’t really matter though because both he and the football player (Neymar) are killed by a satellite that drops out of the sky. Normally these burn up on reentry LONG before they could really cause THAT kind of damage on the ground, but this is no the movie to be asking those kinds of questions in. The more important question is… WHO’S RESPONSIBLE!? Well, government operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) seems to have an idea of HOW if not exactly WHO as the government JUST SO HAPPENS to have some sort of box that serves NO OTHER PURPOSE than to drop satellites from the sky. Okay… well the box is stolen by a bunch of badasses (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) which means the government has to find an EQUALLY badass person to hunt them down; namely Xander Cage (Vin Diesel). It doesn’t take long for Jane to recruit him for the mission, and he brings along a crew of people with a certain set of skills to help him out. Adele the sniper (Ruby Rose), Tennyson the stunt driver (Rory McCann),a nd of course Nicks the DJ (Kris Wu) because apparently you need one of those for this kind of mission. Can this rag tag crew of Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes save the world before the OTHER Gatorade chugging XTREME athletes destroy it? What was the government planning to do with that ridiculously specific doomsday device anyway? Most importantly, does Vin Diesel look cool in this?
Live by Night and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Ben Affleck
Look, we’ve ALL had a rough year, but let’s a take a moment to remember the less fortunate among us. Ben Affleck somehow managed to be in a WORSE super hero movie than Daredevil; a movie made EVEN WORSE when compared to the brilliantly done Netflix series. Not only that, but he’s roped himself into what SHOULD have been a sure bet franchise (how could they fuck up with characters like BATMAN!?) for the next decade or so which is probably gonna be longer than the current administration, provided he doesn’t change the rules and have to start calling him King or Führer. I kid of course, but for someone who clawed his way back from obscurity the way Ben Affleck did, it’s kinda disheartening to watch him get stuck in the middle of that mess. Oh well, at least he gets to make his own movies while Warner Bros tries to get its shit together. Does this gangster flick that is MUCH more in the Affleck wheelhouse the kind of film we need right now, or is this the huge let down we all deserve? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows affable rogue Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) who’s some bank robbing punk in Boston that plays by his own rules and answers to no one! Not even the two major mobs in the city, the Irish led by Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the Italians led by Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), can seem to tame this wild beast! Well… there is ONE person who’s thumb he’s under, and that’s his lady love Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) who JUST SO HAPPENS to also be one of Albert White’s mistresses. Needless to say that shit goes down with Albert, and Joe is left for dead as is Emma who the movie ASSURES us is dead despite not bothering to show it (hm…) which means this movie is about one thing. REVENGA!! As soon as Joe is out of jail, he goes straight to Maso to work for him (giving up on his play by his own rules principals) to see if he can deliver Robert White on a silver platter. Maso agrees, but in return Joe has to run his operation all the way in Florida for the foreseeable future which is where the majority of this movie takes place as the Boston stuff is pretty much an extended set up for the rest of the movie. While there, he has to wrestle with the Cubans, the Klan, and religious nuts just to name a few in his hopes of keeping Maso happy enough to eventually deliver on his promise of dragging Albert White back out into the open. During his stay in Florida, he’ll come across many friends like Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina) and Graciela Corrales (Zoe Saldana), as well as just as many enemies like scumbag klansman (but I repeat myself) RD Pruitt (Matthew Maher) or the really annoying preacher girl Loretta Figgis (Elle Fanning) who came to Jesus SUPER hard after getting off heroin. Will Joe eventually get the REVENGA he’s so desperate for? Will any of that even matter now that he’s building up this new life for himself? Is this AT LEAST more cohesive than Batman v Superman?
Dragon Ball Super and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Toei Animation and licensed by Funimation
We’re back with another episode of Dragon Ball Z-2: Electric Boogaloo! While the first episode didn’t quite get the ball rolling as much as it should have, there’s still a HUGE amount of potential for where this series can go. Do they pick up the pace with episode two, or is it gonna take a bit longer for this series to find its groove? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a recap of Beerus’s horrible destruction in the last episode (he may have only destroyed half of a planet but that doesn’t bode well for the OTHER half!) and Goku going off to visit King Kai now that he’s free from his familial responsibilities. That doesn’t matter though because it’s VACATION TIME MOTHER FUCKERS!! The Briefs family, which consists of Bulma, Vegeta, and Trunks, are heading out to a tropical resort to spend some quality time together and to hopefully get Vegeta to drop his scowl for maybe five seconds. Too bad they couldn’t convince him to wear his pink shirt, though he probably had that destroyed several years ago.
Monster Trucks and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Chris Wedge
Like alien crop circles and the Loch Ness Monster, this movie about trucks and the monsters that inhabit them remained a legend as the story behind it was ludicrous (some executive’s kid came up with the idea) and the release date kept being pushed back. The day has finally come however for theaters to finally keep this around for maybe a week or two before it disappears forever and everyone forgets that they spent over a hundred million dollars on it. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. A troubled development doesn’t NECESSARILY mean the final product is going to be a mess, and maybe it will work better for the target audience than people give it credit for! Will this be a film that lives up to the legend around it, or is this the last chapter in a long tale of infamy? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with some oil baron with a REALLY bad accent, Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) digging for that sweet bubbling crude right in the heart of Dakota, but they manage to hit something else instead. Three monsters come out of the hole they drilled, and while they aren’t quite the heraldersof Cthulhu that you would expect from monsters that rise up from the Earth’s core, they still are gumming up the works for Reece’s operation. Therefore, he orders all his hired goons which includes the head goon Burke (Holt McCallany) and The ScientistTM Dr. Dowd (Thomas Lennon) to round these creatures up and… do something with them. One manages to escape however and finds its way to a junk yard MANY miles away where supposed high school student Tripp (Lucas Till) works at all the time; even on school nights. He finds the creature and eventually finds that he JUST SO HAPPENS to like hanging out inside of his truck, so he modifies the it for his new monster buddy who he calls Creech to surreptitiously drive it with his Monster Magic. Of course, things can’t quite go the way he wants them to as Burke is out there looking for the monster, his step dad Sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper) is already pissed at him for… reasons, and will probably do… something, and Reece is HELL BENT on killing all these monsters so he can get to the oil beneath… even though discovering monsters would probably net him just as much cash. Can Tripp and Creech, along with the extraneous love interest Meredith (Jane Levy), save these monsters from the evil Rob Lowe? What kind of hi-jinks and mischief, as well as felonies, can this lovable crew get involved with in the process? Did Paramount REALLY have to sink a hundred million into this!?