Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 7

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jessica Lowrey

We’re back with another week of Halo, although I wouldn’t exactly fault you if you thought otherwise. Someone must have heard me complain about the lack of closure for the Kwan Ha/Soren storyline in my recap of the last episode, so now that dynamic duo gets a full hour just to themselves! Now I’ve found the character to be an interesting and welcome addition to the Halo lore, but there’s little doubt that the Kwan Ha storyline has been a mixed bag so far. On the one hand, she was fantastic in the first episode and she gives us an excuse to keep Soren around, but on the other, her story feels rather inconsequential to everything else and she herself hasn’t done much to guide her own narrative; mostly being escorted from place to place to give us updates on the goings-on on Madrigal. Still, the heat she’s been getting from some corners of the fan base has been inordinate and I’m more than happy to see them spend a good chunk of time on it if it means we’ll get to a resolution. Is this just the episode we need to make Kwan Ha and Soren feel like important people in this sprawling narrative, or will they have burned through whatever goodwill they had left by the end of it? Let’s find out!!

The story picks up some time after Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) escaped from Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) and is still intent on finding the desert mystics who will hopefully help her reignite the rebellion; the same way they helped her father many years ago. The journey is difficult but she eventually makes her way to them while Soren managed to find a way off -planet and back to The Rubble where he’s trying to continue his life as the coolest pirate ever like nothing had happened. For both of them though, they seem to be getting more pushback than they expected as the desert mystics are skeptical of Kwan Ha’s intent of overthrowing the government of Madrigal while Soren has to deal with people whispering about how he returned empty-handed and if it means he’s no longer fit to be their leader. Time is running short for both of them as they need to step up and prove that they shouldn’t be underestimated, but with Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman) on the hunt for Kwan Ha and a few knives looking to find their way in Soren’s back, is there a way to get through all of this alive even if they do prove themselves as worthwhile leaders? What will Kwan Ha have to do in order for the desert mystics to take her seriously, and what fears from her past will she have to confront in the process? It’s pretty amazing that sci-fi drugs are so good at revealing deep emotional truths about someone; otherwise, it’d seem irresponsible to give this Spice knockoff to a teenager!

“Looks like you’ve got a big green boulder to roll, Sisyphus! Good luck!” “Wait, you’re here too? Seriously, what was in that drink!?”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 6

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

We’re back with another episode of the two best live-action shows based on a video game, and honestly, I don’t even think those who dislike this series can genuinely disagree with that statement. It’s basically this, The Witcher, and a huge drop off to… I don’t know the Super Mario Bros Super Show or one of those Mortal Kombat things? In any case, we’ve just had a big action set piece at the end of the last episode and there’s a lot of fallout to go through for Chief, the UNSC, and everyone else that’s caught in the middle. Is this an engaging and emotionally charged follow-up to the exciting battle we just saw, or do they pump the breaks too hard after giving us everything we wanted? Let’s find out!!

With the Battle of Eridanus II being, at best a “mixed bag” for the UNSC, everyone has low spirits and frazzled nerves as they make their way back to Reach; none more frazzled than Chief (Pablo Schreiber) who’s getting really tired of Halsey’s (Natascha McElhone) secrets and lies. Frankly, he’s not the only one as Admiral Parangosky (Shabana Azmi) is making moves against her and even her own daughter (Olive Gray) is starting to comprehend just how deep the well goes with her mother’s cruelty. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve got a Covenant prisoner (Charlie Murphy) on their hands that may hold the secret to winning the war, but since we know she’s a double agent, it’s unlikely they will get anything useful out of here and that she’s just here to stir the pot. With tensions high and spirits low, can our beloved cast of characters work through this funk and get back on track before the Covenant find them first? Just how far will Chief go to get the answers he’s looking for, and how much of this is still Halsey’s manipulations? Is it just me, or is something missing in this episode?

“Cortana; check my inbox for any communications from Kwan Ha or Soren.” “No new messages to report.” “Oh. Well I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about!”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 5

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

I had my issues with the last episode, but the vitriol that continues to be rained down on this show is getting tiresome. There are legitimate complaints to have with the series, but more and more I see people refusing to engage with the material and are just trying to justify their resentment with Cinema Sins style gotchas, and look, I’ve been there! I’ve had movies I reviewed that I couldn’t articulate exactly why I didn’t like them and so I leaned into nit-picks and literalisms instead of thoughtful analysis. It’s an easy trap to fall into so I don’t want to come down too hard on people for it, but it’s also getting harder for me to take criticisms against the show seriously. So with that being said, does the latest episode manage to pick up the slack of the last one and deliver on what the show has been building towards, or will this be another plot-heavy episode that will only annoy the critics even further? Let’s find out!!

With Chief and Halsey (Pablo Schreiber and Natascha McElhone) finding a new artifact on Eridanus II, the UNSC has sent a detachment of troops and researchers to study it and hopefully find whatever this big weapon is that they seem to be pointing to. It’s an uneasy situation to be sure as Chief is still suspicious of Halsey and the secrets she’s kept from him, but with Cortana inside of his brain and still under Halsey’s thumb, she doesn’t have a lot to be worried about just yet. On top of the tension there, both Miranda and Jacob Keyes (Olive Gray and Danny Sapani) are part of this operation as well as the other members of Spartan Silver Team, and throwing them all back together after so much has happened is bound to bring out some bad blood and questionable actions. Say what you will about The Covenant, they seem to have their act together and are working diligently with Makee (Charlie Murphy) to try and locate the artifacts that the UNSC has uncovered. As soon as they do, the marines and the Spartans are gonna have a heck of a time repelling their attack and keeping the artifact for themselves. Also, let’s not forget about Kwan Ha and Soren (Yerin ha and Bokeem Woodbine) who are still on Madrigal with the latter trying to find a way off the rock while the former is realizing just what kind of uphill battle she’s got ahead of her if she wants to reignite the rebellion. Can Halsey and her team uncover the secrets of the new artifact before The Covenant find them and scorch the earth with plasma? Just how far will Kwan Ha go to save her planet, and who will have to pay the price for that in the process? Seriously, can The Covenant just not right now? Chief is going through a few things and doesn’t have time for this!

“The hell of it is, today was supposed to be my day off.”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 4

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Roel Reiné

Another week, another episode of Halo for a certain segment of the fan base to get testy over! I think I’ve made it quite clear by now that the changes to the lore and the focus on characters have been a huge positive for me even if some of the fans out there are dismaying the lack of action and the shift in tone. Still, while I am enjoying everything they are doing so far, it’s possible that this slow burn will fizzle out at some point and all the buildup will be for naught; especially if we never do get to the thing that this series is named after. Does this episode continue the upward momentum of the series as it soldiers on in bold new directions, or will the cracks start to show as there are fewer and fewer things from the games to pull from to placate fans with? Let’s find out!!

With John the Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) finally remembering his home planet, he and Doctor Halsey (Natascha McElhone) head to the planet to see if they can find more clues as to what this mysterious artifact was that was found on the planet Madrigal and why it reacts so strongly to John. Of course, there’s always the risk that John may discover too much about his past that Halsey has worked hard to keep secret, but that’s what Cortana (Jen Taylor) is for as she is meant to keep Chief placated and in line. While this is going on, the other members of Spartan Silver Team, Kai, Vannak, and Riz (Kate Kennedy, Bentley Kalu, and Natasha Cultzac) are working with Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) back on the planet Reach to conduct unrelated research on the artifact, though with Kai having just removed her own emotion chip, it’s possible that Keyes may learn more than she bargained for from these towering war machines. If that wasn’t enough drama for you, Kwan Ha and Soren (Yerin Ha and Bokeem Woodbine) have made it back to the planet Madrigal where Kwan is hoping to reignite the resistance against the planet’s new leader Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman), though much like everyone else in this episode, the answers to her questions may not be the ones she was hoping to find. Will the Chief be able to go back to being a Spartan warrior and a tool of the UNSC once he uncovers the truth of his own childhood? Can the ideals of liberty and freedom survive on a planet that is now directly controlled by an authoritarian puppet of the UNSC; especially when they offer security from the impending alien threat? Speaking of alien threats, where are The Covenant in this episode!? Did everyone just agree to take a Mental Health Day as they deal with their tragic pasts and uncertain futures!?

“We have you scheduled for art therapy today.”     “Great! I’ll start by turning this head into a Jackson Pollock!”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 3

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Roel Reiné

We’re back with another episode of the show that fans love to hate! Well, certainly not all fans have been down on this new version of the story, but there are certainly those who have had a hard time getting behind these reinterpretations of the characters and the sizable overhaul to the lore. Will this trend continue as we finally get introduced to the TV version of Cortana, or will it finally click for them the same way it clicked to me right off the bat with the very first episode? Let’s find out!!

With Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) returning to the UNSC at the end of the last episode, Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone) has to put her biggest project yet in motion if the Spartans are going to continue to function as a unit. Enter the Cortana Project which Halsey has been working on in secret but may just be the buffer between Chief and the UNSC that she needs to keep the program under her control. Cortana (Jen Taylor) is to be an AI built from the ground up on a copy of Halsey’s brain (where she got that copy is pretty disturbing, but we do what we must for science!), and it will be injected into Master Chief to keep him in line and provide invaluable tactical support. Chief is obviously skeptical of having an AI embedded into his head, but as a good soldier he does what he’s told with the minimum amount of pouting and spends most of his time focusing on those flashbacks he was having and the words from Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) that have stuck with him longer than he expected. While all this is going on, the Covenant’s sole human Makee (Charlie Murphy) starts her journey to recover the Keystone from the UNSC, and Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) is getting antsy about the authoritarian crisis on Madrigal brought about by its comically over the top new leader Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman). Can Chief and Cortana find a way to work together before Makee finds her way to the UNSC headquarters and the mysterious alien tech housed there? What will Kwan Ha do to try and save her planet from Grath, and can Soren ultimately keep his promise to Master Chief? I don’t know about you, but Cortana seems pretty useful to me! She’s like Siri, right?

“Cortana, play Spartan Party Jams volume 4.”     “Again? We just listened to that yesterday.”     “Fine. Play Spartan Party Jams volume 5, but we are NOT skipping volume 4 on leg day!”
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Super Recaps: Halo – Episode 2

Halo the series is owned by Paramount Plus

Directed by Otto Bathurst

We’re back with another episode of Halo; everyone’s favorite show about a quip spouting robot that isn’t Bender! Well I guess that’s a bit hyperbolic as the Chief in this version is somehow even more taciturn than he was in the games, but we’ll talk about changes to the source material soon enough. The first episode was an absolute delight that managed to capture the feel of Halo’s intense action while reworking its dubious source material into something new and exciting! Still, a lot of shows will frontload their first episode with flashy spectacle and surprise twists with the follow-up being a better indicator of what to expect from the series going forward. Can Halo sustain its momentum through its sophomore outing, or was that the peak and it’s all downhill from here? Let’s find out!!

After their daring escape from the UNSC, Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) and Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha) have to find a place that will not only protect them from the wrath of Earth but to also help explain what this mysterious artifact is that they found on her planet. Fortunately, Master Chief does in fact have friends outside of the military and goes to the one person in the galaxy who is equal parts friendly to him and spiteful to the UNSC. They arrive at a hidden space colony known as The Rubble where Chief’s friend Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is a big wig and may have some of the answers they seek, though in a place outside of Earth’s control there is a clear sense of animosity towards the USNC’s biggest propaganda symbol and Chief may not have safe-harbor for very long. Can he keep Kwan Ha safe from the UNSC and any other parties that may have an interest in her disappearing? What does Soren know about this artifact they found, and are its secrets even more dire than anyone could have realized? Can we just get a show about Soren? Or maybe even a buddy show with him and Chief? I mean Cortana hasn’t shown up yet and we need someone to fill the personality vacuum!

“You ever hear of polishing a turd? Well, this guy is what you get when you polish a turd with a suit of power armor!” “Not funny, Soren.” “Oh, like YOU have a great sense of humor?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Ghostbusters: Afterlife and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jason Reitman

I was a pretty big fan of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and am still a bit salty that we never got a sequel to it, so seeing the trailers and just how much the studio was backtracking to safe and familiar nostalgia was pretty demoralizing to see and left me with a bad feeling about this.  A Stranger Things knockoff that revels in the legacy of the first two films while grabbing a mostly indie director who just so happens to be the son of the original films’ director just felt like too many ideas on how to make this a MARKETABLE Ghostbusters movie instead of a GOOD one.  Still, Reitman is a good director and the buzz so far has been good for the movie, so perhaps I’m being a bit overly critical before even seeing the darn thing.  Did my low expectations set me up for a pleasant surprise that finds the balance between mining nostalgia and finding new ideas, or is this a cynical paycheck from a guy whose complicated history with this franchise landed him in the director’s chair long before he ever picked up a camera?  Let’s find out!!

Many years after the events of the first movie (and the second presumably), Egon Spengler has made a new life of sorts in a total nothing town somewhere in the Midwest, and while it’s probably not much of a spoiler considering that the actor is no longer with us, he has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and his estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) has come to settle his affairs as well as start a new life for her and her two kids Phoebe and Trevor (Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard).  While packing up his things though, Phoebe finds the PKE Meter as well as Egon’s ghostbusting Batcave, and Trevor starts to see some strange things around town; especially while hanging out with Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) at the nearby mine, which is… a thing kids do I guess?  In any case, Phoebe starts to investigate the strange occurrences in the town with her paranormal podcasting friend named Podcast (Logan Kim), but more importantly starts to learn more about her grandfather and, by extension, herself.  That, and her Summer School teacher (Paul Rudd) is a total nerd who was obsessed with the Ghostbusters when he was a kid, and so the stage is set for the next generation to take up the mantel once these strange things around town turn into STRANGER things!  What was Egon doing in this Podunk town in the first place, and is there more than just his old eighties crap that he’s left behind for his family?  How will Phoebe and Trevor deal with their newly discovered legacy, and why was their mother hiding it from them all this time?  Do you think in thirty years someone will try to do one of these for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie?  I mean how ELSE are we supposed to get a sequel!?

“Is this thing environmentally friendly?” “I don’t know, maybe we should check with the EPA.” “Yeah, they may not be perfect but it’s not like they’re full petty jerks who just want to disrupt small businesses.” “Hashtag Green New Deal!!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Queen & Slim

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Queen & Slim and all the images you see in this review are owned by

Directed by Melina Matsoukas

Seriously, how weird is it going to be when Daniel Kalula finally sells out?  True he was in that Johnny English sequel that I haven’t actually seen, but his career since 2015 has been an absolutely sterling one with great performances in Sicario, Get Out, Black Panther, and Widows.  Now he’s back with this film which looks to be one of the standout films of awards season, so we can only hope that his star continues to rise or that his inevitable cash in project is one that is utterly hilarious; like when Laura Linney showed up in that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel or how Nic Cage’s first film after Leaving Las Vegas was one-two-three punch of awesome nonsense called The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off.  ANYWAY!  With this movie taking on such a hot button subject matter with a great cast and a stylish looking presentation, does it manage to be one of the best films of the year or were we all fooled into seeing an utter train wreck?  Let’s find out!!

Ernest Hines and Angela Johnson (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) who I don’t recall ACTUALLY being called Slim or Queen in the movie, are out on a rather mediocre first date when the Sword of Damocles that hangs over all people of color in this country comes crashing down on their heads in the form of a traffic stop.  Within minutes of doing absolutely nothing, Ernest has a gun pointed at him and Angela is reaching for her cell phone to get this on film for both their sakes.  The racists cop (Sturgill Simpson) doesn’t take long to shoot the unarmed woman in the leg and Ernest has no choice but to tackle the cop, wrest the gun away, and in the ensuing conflict he shoots the cop dead; leaving the both of them in a dire predicament.  Know what is waiting for them if they get taken alive (which in and of itself seems like a slim possibility) Ernest and Angela get in the car and start driving as fast as they can to Angela’s uncle’s place a few hours away for shelter where they can regroup and come up with a plan.  If they can somehow get to Florida and find a plane to take them to Cuba they should be safe at least for the time being, and so Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) gives them a bit of cash, a decent car, and the address of an old army buddy (Flea) who may just be able to get them that plane.  Along the way however, they must contend with the closing in manhunt, staying under the radar, and making snap decisions on who they can trust, where they can hide, and just how much they can trust those they meet along the way.  Can Queen & Slim manage to survive this journey and avoid the corrupt system that condemned them before they did anything wrong?  What impact will their story have on the country and on those they meet along the way?  Did any of those rich old jerks from Get Out think about these realities of being black in America when they were switching brains?  I DIDN’T THINK SO!!

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“I had to kill four white people for my freedom already, and now I have to deal with THIS!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Overlord

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Overlord and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Julius Avery

I know World War II movies are pretty common during Oscar Season, but I still don’t think the Academy is gonna be looking towards this movie once voting begins.  One of these days there’ll be a zombie movie that takes home the gold, but until then we’ll just have to make do with what we’ve got which in this case actually looks pretty darn good!  I mean sure I’m not the BIGGEST JJ Abrams fan, even when it comes to stuff that he’s only producing and not directing, but he managed to turn Star Wars and Star Trek into sold movies for contemporary audiences, so maybe his outfit can do the same for World War II occult movies of which there’s actually a lot more than you’d think!  Will this be the movie exceed everyone’s expectations despite its seemingly low brow premise, or is this another example of a great idea failing to live up to its absurd potential?  Let’s find out!!

Private Ed Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is not what you’d call a happy camper.  He was just some guy living his life in peace, presumably doing his part for the war effort, and then one day Uncle Sam tells him to stop buying War Bonds because he’s going to stab some Nazi bastards himself!  At least he MIGHT get to do that if the plane he’s on doesn’t get shot down before they even get to where they’re going, but what are the chances of THAT happening?  Actually a lot higher than you think which leads to him and a few other stragglers including Ford, Tibbet, and Chase (Wyatt Russell, John Magaro, and Iain De Caestecker) to complete their mission all on their own.  Said mission is to get to a French church that’s been overtaken by Nazis and destroy the radio tower that’s been constructed there which is causing problems for the Allies, and they need to do it on the double!  Along the way they meet a civilian named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who lives in the occupied village next to the church wants to scalp Nazis as much as most of them do, and so they must work together if they are to not only shut down that tower but free her village from the bastards who just love to kidnap the villagers when they aren’t outright shooting them dead in the streets.  If that wasn’t bad enough however, rumors have been flying about what else the Nazis might be up to in that Church and it’s surely something these soldiers are not the least bit prepared to deal with on top of the neigh impossible mission they’ve been saddled with.  Can our heroes take down that tower and stop whatever is going on in that Church (*cough* zombies *cough*) before it’s too late?  Is Private Boyce prepared to do what’s necessary to complete the mission, or will he buckle under the pressure of what he’s being asked to do for his country?  Is JJ Abrams STILL trying to pull that whole “mystery box” shtick even when the premise is THIS obvious and telegraphed!?

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“Those aren’t zombies!  Those are Killer Klowns from outer space!  Welcome to the Killer Klown Extended Universe!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man: Homecoming and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures

Directed by Jon Watts

So after a decade of crappy reboots and custody battles, Spider-Man is finally gonna start living with BOTH his parents; sticking with Sony but being able to visit Disney on the weekends.  To celebrate these two studios begrudgingly working together to make a lot of money, we have the third reboot of the Spider-Man franchise getting a whole move all its own with a little from column Sony and a little from column MCU.  Considering how bad things had gotten for the character with the two Amazing Spider-Man movies and how reliable the MCU is when it comes to making above average blockbusters, it’s unlikely that this will end up a disappointment for anyone who’s been hoping to see a Spider-Man movie with the official Marvel stamp of approval, but if it can ONLY manage to be better than the previous iteration… well I can hardly think of a more textbook definition of Damning with Faint Praise.  Does this manage to stand on its own as a great film, or has Marvel finally met its match by having to work with another studio for once!?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up right after Civil War where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is spending his day doing his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man thing, but is getting antsy over the fact that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) won’t return his calls.  Neither will Happy (Jon Favreau) who’s supposed to be keeping an eye on him and is clearly doing a poor job of it since even a LITTLE bit of attention might have kept him from doing something stupid!  Said stupid thing is when he starts tracking down a group of alien gun smuggles head up by Adrian Toomes who played by Michael Keaton (Oh hey!  I guess he DID live long enough to become the villain!) and soon finds himself in over his head.  Not only does he have to deal with REAL tough guys instead of street thugs, he also has to deal with the problems of being a teenager such as having a crush on a senior named Liz (Laura Harrier) trying to sneak around Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and having to deal with his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who accidently found out his secret identity.  Can Spider-Man stop the bad guys AND get his math homework done?  Will Tony Stark eventually notice him once he takes down such a dangerous criminal, or will that only make things worse between them?  Oh I’m sure he can handle all this!  He’s a super hero, right!?

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SYMBOLISM!!

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