It’s only Jokerside’s six and a half birthday today! We’ve put on a party hat and brought back Jokershorts’ mix of news and reviews across 10 realms of pop culture for a second series to celebrate!
Captain Marvel reviewed, the Invisible Man disappears, we get Doom Patrol angst, The Arrowverse ends, The Grim Knight arrives (reviewed), Netflix fights Disney+, Harry Potter is all around us, Doctor Who’s Missy returns (reviewed), and Guardians of the galaxy is back on track. Join the conversation on Twitter & Facebook.
This Jokershorts’ Classic theme
1. Trailers of the Now!
Unwanted Doom and tiny Aliens
Doom: Annihilation. Coming to a video streaming site near you, a trailer so ropey Doom publishers Bethesda made it very clear that they had had nothing to do with it.
Turning out to be an 25th birthday for the seminal game.
Batman vs Ninja Turtles. Not so inexplicable when you factor in that 2019 marks the 80th birthday of the Caped Crusader, and the 35th birthday for those Heroes in a Half Shell. Well, slightly less inexplicable…. And the Joker looks great.
Alien shorts. It’s also the 40th anniversary of the Alien franchise this year. Recent films have brought something far worse than a stray xenomorph — huge quality lapses — but there’s always hope that Fox (soon to be Disney) has something up their sleeves. This may be it.
Wizards Unite and Dead Pixels
The big mobile news was the arrival of a Harry Potter game that could expelliarmus your days away. Wizards Unite combines the unstoppable muggle-magnet franchise with Niantic, the developer behind Pokemon Go! (which at its peak had 300m users — this writer included).
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be a real-world smartphone game
The augmented reality game from the makers of Pokémon Go will take budding wizards on a magical quest through their own…www.theguardian.com
It’s almost enough to take our minds off Tiny Rebel’s retirement of Doctor Who Legacy in February. They’ve had a bit of a rough ride as a small operation dodging angry fans — we’re sad to see Legacy go, but “Change my dear…”
Mixing media, Veep, Peep Show (and more) alum Jon Brown is bringing new comedy Dead Pixels to E4 from 28th March — could be one to watch:
Disney+ terrifies, Waititi finds Time
Bandersnatch’s success of old school Choose-Your-Own Adventure over Christmas has caught Netflix’s imagination — expect more interactivity…
Netflix is doubling down on interactive content after Black Mirror: Bandersnatch success
Netflix has revealed that they are planning to produce more interactive content in the wake of Bandersnatch's success…www.flickeringmyth.com
And more Anime too. The networks exploiting the gap in Western markets, planning to not only adapt but pick up more videogame properties, including Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma.
Why all this ‘doubling down’? The intangible threat of Disney+ comes ever closer, and as it does the House of Mouse has been flexing the gamma irradiated cells thinking up ideas of how the juggernaut MCU could propel the service to domination. What if we update a Marvel comic book staple, they asked…
Over on Apple TV — no, don’t forget them — news of a meeting of minds between Taika Waititi and Terry Gilliam. Time Bandits is downsizing…
4. Small Screen
Farewell Star City and Gotham
On the networks, DC couldn’t bask in the domino collapse of Netflix Marvel for long. News that Arrow is to end next year with a shortened Season 8 is the first blip on the burgeoning Arrowverse it set set in motion. Always far bigger and full of potential than you realise (Vixen, and Freedom Fighters: The Ray, but not Black Lightning — yet) — retiring Arrow at a ‘peak’ is likely more a sign of faith in the future of the empire on the CW and beyond. Never think Greg Berlanti isn’t two steps ahead.
Over on Fox, we’re gonna miss Gotham, an intoxicating mix of violence, police procedural and some of its source material’s most ludicrous ideas that should never have worked but somehow always did. Are there rumours of some specials in the works? We doubt it, but a Wayne cannot subsist on Pennyworth alone…
Should be a trailer for that (unrelated) prequel series coming soon. Next Jokershorts we’ll get to grips with Series 4 with an exclusive Joker-review.
5. Big screen
Doom Lives! Spider-man casts a big web, Captain Marvel reviewed!
Sony have plans, big plans reaching to 2027. Here’s hoping the excellent Into the Spider-verse was a sign of how this brave new future will roll out…
If anyone can survive the merger of Disney and Fox, in which the latter’s Marvel properties are the lesser sibling, it’s Noah Hawley’s Dr Doom. Oh we hope so — geopolitical thriller is just what we’d go for (with a dash of Grant Morrison’s 1234)…
This week, the Telegraph asked why all cinema posters look the same? Hang on a minute…
A big week for the MCU, and not just in terms of box office. Under the radar is behind the scenes work on Shang Chi — be ready to hear more about that as the MCU’s Phase 4 comes into sight:
More noticeably, Captain Marvel finally arrived. And forget Dark Elves — the extraordinary proto-trolling against Marvel’s latest finally forced Rotten Tomatoes to take action. There’s more to do:
Rotten Tomatoes Mulls Further Tightening User Guidelines to Combat Trolls
A rep for the website now tells The Hollywood Reporter that additional measures are being considered in terms of…www.hollywoodreporter.com
The film’s radical defeat of the trolls was enough to make headlines as Marvel soared to an incredible opening weekend:
Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Trolled The Trolls With A $455M Global Launch
At this point, the notion of a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie opening with a boffo Friday-Sunday debut is barely…www.forbes.com
Captain Marvel Review:
By Phase Three Marvel films had settled into two camps. There are the epics — not necessarily in terms of scale or threat, but in ambition — where no scene goes wasted (think Black Panther). Then those MCU entries that prefer to take time for some pace-breaking cat jokes. Where a functional story is slyly undermined, or obscured, by a staccato narrative. You may guess where we place Captain Marvel. That’s not to say it’s bad. There is a lot of fun to be had in its admirable attempt to mix up another comic book origin story, but too many strands flail in the vacuum of space. It seems a little underdeveloped and is as likely to leave questions for non-fans as Marvel fanatics, if for totally different reasons. While it more than justifies its strides at the box office, if this was part of anything other than the knitted MCU it could have come a heavy cropper.
That’s a shame, because much of it — from notable and warranted abuse and PTSD storyline through to the slightly clumsy montage of female empowerment (see Wonder Woman for keeping the subtlety going throughout), and Brie Larson herself — inhabiting a difficult role lacking the sturdy history of Captain America or innate comedy of others heroes — is brilliant.
While the move away from the solid genre-twist origins of Ant-Man and Doctor Strange is welcome, Marvel packs a few too many beats in, but not enough explanation. It’s underserved by the ’90s and the references that come with it. Top Gun vibes are played down (I never thought I’d say that’s a lost opportunity) and not even mentioned in reference to the humdinger of bizarre misdirection around Goose the ‘cat’. Otherwise, Clark Gregg’s Coulson plays an insightful newbie in nothing more than a patchy CGI joke, and there seems to be little reason why the Fury we see isn’t fully formed. He’s run through the majority of his career, has Colonel Fury, and Iron Man is only 13 years in the future. How he became the cool dude Morpheus of the MCU is inexplicable. If this is indeed how he lost an eye, I don’t know whether to applaud the chutzpah or blame terrible editing. That’s, ahem, not the only thing willfully left hanging. The misdirection of the Skrulls should be applauded for halting the typecasting of the brilliant Ben Mendelsohn’s in its tracks, but any Marvel fan would expect the arrival of the Kree-Skrull war to bring a great many more twists. I mean, Agents of SHIELD level twists. It’s a bit of a paradox: You expect the Skrull to be tricksy, but the main twist is unintuitive for the broader MCU storyline.
Indeed, it’s business as usual when the Kree revert to being bad guys — a huge simplification of the comic universe — and jumping straight into the war makes for a confusing start (the Kree have never been well explained) and an end summed up by a full-powered Marvel showing off with some whooping mass-Kree-cide.
Perhaps the major issue is that the ’90s reveals itself to be something we always knew: not very interesting. The songs are great, if obvious as a rolling action jukebox, but the jokes about dial-up and Windows 95 are still painfully close to the bone for many of us. The one thing that hits true for the time is the brilliantly devised Stan Lee cameo. Aw. There’s hope in here, and a full zapping for some of the worst of trolldom, but it’s down to Endgame to shape this property into the tentpole for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
BREAKING NEWS TODAY: James Gunn has been quite rightly hired back to helm Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. After the Suicide Squad reboot naturally (well played DC).
Finally, Jedis and Siths come together — it looks like 12 April is the day we’ll finally have a name for the end of the Skywalker Saga:
Universal’s disappearing trick
Leigh Whannel’s upping the ante at Universal, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that he and Jason Blum are set to grab the studio’s enviable horror pedigree by the scruff. If it’s not invisible…
7. Comic Books
The Grim Knight #1 reviewed!
Bryan Hitch, flying to his usual high standards with his current Hawkman run, put some telling truths to Twitter this week.
A shame considering the influence the four-colour versions still have on the wider, better-known universe, but also because… What an age to be a DC fan!
Review: The Grim Knight #1
This one-shot comes halfway through the superb Batman who Laughs (TBWL) limited series, providing a backstory for this uniquely dark Batman. Unlike the origin one-shots that delved into the Dark Multiverse Batmen at the mid-point of last year’s exhilarating Dark Nights: Metal event this isn’t constrained by the spiraling beat-em-up requirements of mirroring supervillain to familiar hero counterpart. This Batman is so pure, and so Punisher, it’s a wonder it hasn’t happened before (Ed: surely that’s why?).
If you’re asking why, it’s because the trick is grounding the brilliantly named Grim Knight, opposite to the central tenet of Batman, in the right context. Scott Snyder and James Tynion struggle to put a foot — or word — wrong. As usual, their triumph comes from taking the familiar and twisting it in a way that seems obvious after the event. For instance, *spoilers*: of course this version of Bruce Wayne would blast the bat that comes crashing through the window to smithereens, taking inspiration as it takes its last gasp. You need to understand your subject to make these beats and tricks roll so well; these two do.
The real success comes in setting up an opponent powerful enough to challenge a Batman who simply didn’t allow Gotham’s war of masks to escalate. It doesn’t go the way you’d expect. If there’s one flaw, it’s the natural imbalance between the two Dark Batmen. TBWL may be the most stunning villain DC have dug from the multiverse for years, duly leading the charge with his own series, but he’s on the back foot for part of this. The seeds of division between the two, although restricted to a few lines, may have scuttled the ship a little too early. That said, f there was one Batman who could hang up on the Batman who Laughs it’s the Grim Knight.
Notably thematically more mature than Metal, it slots into the ongoing series beautifully. Alongside the marvelous art of Eduardo Risso, Snyder and Tynion IV have crafted a purposeful comic event. Pick it up, and catch up on The Batman Who Laughs too.
Review: Missy, Big Finish
Big Finish have grabbed onto New Series Doctor Who with relish. They’ve dug out new facets, run with hints and suggestions, and been helped by the recent change of direction on screen (and some unfortunate gaps between series). Following the standard box set format, Missy holds up four stories, connected with a very light arc, that relishes in Michelle Gomez’s mercurial take on the Doctor’s greatest foe. Yes, he and she is.
The problems with any Who story not featuring the Doctor — or a conventional Doctor — is acknowledging and breaking the need for companions (see the travails of the War Doctor, yeesh). Big Finish pros who know how to mix up the darker and lighter sides of the franchise while artfully tackling that dilemma, helped immeasurably by the gift of this particular incarnation of the MAster. There’s little of the Twelfth Doctor era complications to be found. Instead, these stories dwell in the what ifs, character inspirations, and well-applied knowledge of Who lore.
A Spoonful of Mayhem addresses the nanny in the room, casting a prohibited Missy as a reluctant Mary Poppins. It’s about time, and Roy Gill does much to draw out the dangerous mayhem while sowing the seeds of redemption we found in Series 10.
Missy’s teaming up with the Monk (in the fantastic new Rufus hound incarnation) is playful and unexpected in John Dorney’s Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated — a nice counterpoint to television team-ups like Mark of the Rani, but with a closer guard on the characters. That’s crucial and hearing the two renegades playing off each other, with the promise of more to come, is a treat.
The Broken Clock from Nev Fountain may just sneak ahead of the other tales, providing a fourth-wall breaking tribute to Time War and War Master alike, through a haunting prism, and hilariously observed American crime television.
The Belly of the Beast by Jonathan Morris replays Series 4’s The Doctor’s Daughter with far greater success, including some lovely temporal diversion and malice that sets up Missy’s television reign and lets Gomez off the hook. It presents fresh Missy but also utterly traditional Master at the same time, with a supreme cliffhanger to set up a second series.
A little disconcerting at first, it’s soon refreshing to hear Missy away from the pen of Steven Moffat. The jokes are there, but so much more of the role is left to sit with Michelle Gomez (unbelievably, phoned in from Canada where she was filming The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). Excellent stuff.
Doom Patrol! Doom Patrol!
What are we excited about? Sadly not quite the launch of the second half of Arrested Development today (c’mon Bluths!), but we just can’t bloody wait for the wonderfully sweary Doom Patrol to arrive. We’re even poring each and every ‘next time’ promos as they hit YouTube. Hopefully, Umbrella Academy’s warmed everybody up… “It’s all in your head”
10. On Jokerside
Star Trek: Discovery
We’re not reviewing Discovery this year, just basking in its glory. It’s not quite hitting the twisty heights of the first year (give us klingons and dimensional entanglement! Give us it now!)… But it’s still fantastically watchable. Much as we love seeing Captain Pike, we’re a little — here’s our summary review of Discovery: Year one.
Star Trek Discovery Series 1: Our review of Trek's new Wagon Train to the Stars
Jokerside doesn't often do reviews, but when it does, it's for something big. When Star Trek returned to its natural…jokerside.com
We’ll leave you with the inevitable trailer for Avengers: Endgame. Naturally, we couldn’t avoid it even though it avoids giving much away. A masterclass from a film that really doesn’t need any advertising at all. Who knows what will fill that three-hour run-time…
Keep smirking and see you soon! :) *Snap*