TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 2

Remote Control Man (Season 1, Episode 10)
Original airdate: December 8, 1985
Written by Douglas Lloyd McIntosh & Steven Spielberg
Directed by Bob Clark

By 1986, Bob Clark had directed films like Black Christmas, Porky’s, and A Christmas Story. Quite an eclectic filmography. He was brought on to helm this comedic entry into Amazing Stories. Walter Poindexter is a paper pusher at the bottom of his corporate ladder, put upon by a shrieking housewife and two rotten sons. All Walter wants to do when he gets home is watch some television, but his wife sells the set while he is at work. Driving through the city, the man comes across a strange store that seems to grant the person’s ultimate wish. In this instance, Walter is given a magical television whose remote control brings the people out of the shows and into his home. 

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TV Review – Wandavision Episodes 1 & 2

Wandavision (Disney+)
Episodes 1 & 2
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Directed by Matt Shakman

Many people genuinely love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am glad they have movies they can rewatch and enjoy like that. I wouldn’t count myself as someone enamored with superhero movies of any kind, though I do always give them a viewing. I am entertained by them, but I don’t think too much about the films when they are over. The most I revisit them is with my niece and nephew, who they honestly are intended for. The people who should get the most excited about superhero movies, Star Wars, and the like are little kids. 

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Movie Review – North by Northwest

North by Northwest (1959)
Written by Ernest Lehman
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

In my opinion, Alfred Hitchcock’s best works are his dark, psychological films. But, he did manage to deliver something outside of the box with North by Northwest. This is a classic Cold War espionage story about a case of mistaken identity and the fallout that ensues. It’s filled to the brim with Hitchcock’s wry humor and livened up by screenwriter Ernest Lehman. The final product is a lavish and certainly expensive film with the production traveling across the United States as its protagonist tries to get to the bottom of how he became entangled in this mess.

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Comic Book Review – Superman: The Man of Steel Volume One (2020)

Superman: The Man of Steel Volume One (2020)
Reprints The Man of Steel #1-6, Superman #1-4, Adventures of Superman #424-428, Action Comics #584-587
Written by John Byrne and Marv Wolfman
Art by John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Terry Austin, and Dick Giordano

Crisis on Infinite Earths was both a special event to celebrate 50 years of DC Comics and a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. One of those characters given a fresh coat of paint was Superman, the company’s flagship star. This wasn’t the first attempt to reboot the superhero; he’d been through several soft reboots since his creation. From a visual perspective, you can see how Superman’s costume has evolved but so too have his powers, supporting cast, villains, and backstory. To make everything more cohesive and move the character out of his Silver Age tropes, DC brought on comics superstar John Byrne who had made a significant name for himself at Marvel with work on X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Alpha Flight. The changes Byrne implemented wouldn’t last forever, but eventually, they would become part of the mishmash of ideas that keeps the character going.

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Movie Review – The Dark and The Wicked

The Dark and The Wicked (2020)
Written & Directed by Bryan Bertino

I don’t think I like Bryan Bertino’s films. This is the third movie by this director I’ve watched, with the others being The Strangers and The Monster. He simply has no depth to his work. It’s all surface level, atmospheric, yes but with no meaningful character development. The Dark and The Wicked may be his absolute worst film to date. I love horror, especially slow-burn horror; however, it must be building to something. I need to understand and sympathize with the characters to feel something for them when they are tormented. We learn almost nothing about these characters, and so we ultimately don’t care.

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Movie Review – The Kid Detective

The Kid Detective (2020)
Written & Directed by Evan Morgan

When I was a kid, I was a fairly regular reader of the Encyclopedia Brown book series. Brown was a middle school student who worked as his neighborhood’s local kid detective. Each book had around ten interlinked stories that end on a cliffhanger. The reader is expected to notice an inconsistency in a suspect’s dialogue that hints at their guilt. I can say only once do I remember solving the mystery before checking the back of the book for the answer. Brown has served as an inspiration for many other kid detectives and many satire pieces on the genre recently. I recall The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno and Donald Glover’s Mystery Team as pieces of media that touch on the concept of child detectives turned adults.

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PopCult on Patreon

2021 is the year I make a big push to grow PopCult into something beyond what it has been. Readership jump tremendously in 2020 with a 29% increase in page views and a 32% jump in visitors. Part of our growth will be centered around Patreon. I don’t expect I will live independently off of Patreon, but I think I could generate enough to pay a couple of bills a month. For more on what’s going on with me at the start of the year, read up on last week’s Weekly Wonderings.

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Weekly Wonderings – January 11th, 2021

Well, that was a rough start to 2021.

One week in, we have already had a Nazi terrorist attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. My mom is a full bore QAnon Nazi, I haven’t spoken to her in over a year now, and I just don’t see much hope for them. I got too much on my own plate to have to try and reason with people who have made plugging their ears and saying “lalalala” a permanent state of mind. And this is about as much time as I’ll be spending on this topic here. I have certainly ranted my fair share in other corners of social media since Thursday. Check out this week’s playlist, and I’ll jump right into my wondering.

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Movie Review – Vertigo

Vertigo (1958)
Written by Samuel A. Taylor, Alec Coppel, Maxwell Anderson, and Thomas Narcejac
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

In my opinion, Vertigo is Hitchcock’s greatest film. It contains all those elements associated with his work but perfectly distilled to their most impactful essence. Hitchcock collaborator Jimmy Stewart gives his best and final performance for the director. Bernard Herrmann composes a gorgeous musical score that haunts the picture. Vertigo is also Hitchcock’s most honest film about himself, revealing many of his own obsessions and the way he tormented his actresses, especially foreshadowing what was to come with poor Tippi Hedren in just a few years.

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TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 1

I am surprised how little I could find about the creation of Amazing Stories on the internet. It wasn’t the most popular television series, running for two years, from 1985 to 1987, and doesn’t often come into conversations about 1980s pop culture. Having rewatched many of the episodes now, it feels like an imperfect but completely perfect encapsulation of how the Spielbergian 1980s felt. I noticed that story credits often go to the filmmaker, who was a co-creator, producer, and sometimes directed episodes. You can feel his influence on American films at the time, with each episode centered on a sense of wonder and often humor. Unlike the later Tales from the Crypt, which had its own stable of 1980s directors in producer roles, the stories here are very in line with E.T. or The Goonies’ tone.

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