M. Night Ranked

Never before have I experience the type of drastic shift from confidence to disdain for a director as I have for M. Night Shyamalan over the last twenty years. It was twenty years ago this week, on August 6th of 1999 that his third feature film, The Sixth Sense, opened in theaters. I haven’t watched his first two films and am saving those for a later date because from all accounts The Sixth Sense was a significant sea change for the creator. It was the movie that made him into the household name he’s become, for better or worse. In honor of this twentieth anniversary, I decided to rank M. Night’s pictures.

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Comic Book Reviews – 52 Volume Four

52 Volume Four
Reprints 52 #40-52
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Chris Batista, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Darick Robertson, Dan Jurgens, Eddy Barrows, Jamal Igle, Patrick Olliffe, Justiniano, Joe Bennett, and Mike McKone

Here it is, the final chapter in 52 and this summer series. Things kick-off without missing a beat as Steel has his showdown with Lex Luthor. The Everyman Project has been revealed as crooked with hundreds of people dead. The Teen Titans and what remains of Infinity Inc work alongside Steel to take down Luthor. Luthor uses Everyman and his suite of powers only to be outsmarted by Steel. Things are pretty clean and to the point which results in a reasonably satisfying conclusion to this arc. It’s a good thing because there are a lot of story beats left in the remaining eleven issues. The creator commentary in these collections lets us know that behind the scenes the writers and editors were panicking to bring all these storylines to a satisfying conclusion before the series ended.

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My Favorite Underrated Disney Movies

With the release of the CG Lion King remake, I got to thinking about which Disney movies I love that don’t get that love in return. Here are my thoughts on my favorite underrated Disney animated flicks.

The Sword in the Stone (1963, dir. Wolfgang Reitherman)
While you might think this Disney version of the legend of King Arthur is just based on general stories it is, in fact, an adaptation of T.H. White which was one volume of four in The Once and Future King series, which was in turn a more modern updating of Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Not only that, Walt Disney was inspired to approve the project as the studio’s next feature after seeing the Broadway musical Camelot in 1960. Instead of a high adventure film, The Sword in the Stone is a light comedy, focusing purely on Arthur’s adolescence and the first few months of training with the wizard Merlin. The primary arc of the film is not about Arthur becoming the king but finding strength and bravery within himself. Along the way, there’s lots of great visual comedy, especially when Merlin and his rival Madam Mim start breaking out the spells.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Volume Three

52 Volume 3
Reprints 52 #27-39
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Joe Bennett, Drew Johnson, Chris Batista, Patrick Olliffe, Tom Derenick, Joe Prado, Phil Jimenez, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Igle, and Andy Smith

The third volume of 52 is all about bringing our characters to those moments of darkness, showing that all hope may be lost to set up the conclusion for the fourth volume. Volume three is probably my favorite of the four collections for that reason, and it does some impressive things, like make the Lost in Space storyline enjoyable. Lobo is still there, but a new enemy is introduced that truly feels dangerous.

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Comic Book Review – 52 Book Two

52 Book Two
Reprints 52 #14-26
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Dale Eaglesham, Shawn Moll, Joe Bennett, Chris Batista, Eddy Barrows, Patrick Oliffe, Drew Johnson, and Phil Jimenez

Book Two of 52 is all about building out the world of the story without really answering any questions. It’s only the halfway point, so there’s plenty of wandering around to stretch out the narrative. That said, there are great moments, and some plots are much better than others. One thing I’ve tried to do through this second readthrough of the series is trying to determine who wrote what and that has led to some deep internet dives to confirm or deny my assumptions. On the surface, it’s relatively easy to determine the authors of individual plots. Based on subsequent comics Greg Rucka is most definitely writing the Montoya/Question/Batwoman story. Geoff Johns is penning the Black Adam story continuing plot threads he started back in JSA. Grant Morrison is mainly writing the Lost in Space story featuring Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man. I’m reasonably sure Mark Waid is over the Steel/Luthor/Everyman plot.

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Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Book Three

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Three
Reprints JSA: All-Stars #1-8, JSA Annual #1, JSA Secret Files and Origins #2, and JSA #26-31
Written by Geoff Johns (with David Goyer)
Art by Sal Velluto, Phil Winslade, Barry Kitson, Mike McKone, Adam DeKraker, Stephen Sadowski, Dave Ross, Wade von Grawbadger, Javier Saltares, Derec Aucoin, Rags Morales, and Peter Snejbjerg

In recent years, Geoff Johns’ writing has taken on a more epic tone with his lengthy runs on Green Lantern & Justice League as well as his place as the main man when it comes to company-wide events (Infinite Crisis, Forever Evil, Rebirth, Doomsday Clock). Twenty years ago he was the man who brought us great character-centered books like Stars and STRIPE & JSA. JSA, in particular, is an excellent example of how good early Johns was. He told stories based on the histories and legacies of his cast but also built new characters from the ground up. The result was something like the best of Claremont’s X-Men run, where personalities were clear and interpersonal conflict was some of the best stuff in the books.

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Spider-Man Films Ranked

Since May 2002 there have been seven Spider-Man films released in theaters, not to mention his appearances in Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame. He’s been the star of dozens of animated television series and the star of multiple comic book titles since 1962. With the latest film hitting theaters, I thought I would give the movies my rankings.

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