Weekly update: Teen Titans, go! 

Greetings, Gothamites!

Happy February! I saw this tweet late last month and it speaks to me on a deep level.

This week I’ve started watching both season three of True Detective and the limited series I Am the Night. They both seem quite promising at episodes two and one respectively. I’m looking forward to continuing on with them and will update you on them as I finish them.

Here’s what else I’ve been up to this week:

 

TV — Titans: Season One

Alrighty, strap yourselves in, Gothamites, I have a lot to say about this one. 

This is the comic book TV show that I never knew I needed. Titans does a fantastic job of creating a Teen Titans origin story that is gritty and realistic — well, as realistic as a show can be when it features aliens, shape shifters and other super-powered beings. 

As an obviously huge fan of Batman, and DC Comics in general, I love the stories of the Robins. Titans does a fantastic job of creating a believable Dick Grayson. Dick has rebelled against Batman to go out on his own in a new town, but in so many ways he is the spitting image of Bruce. This is especially noticeable in the way he deals with relationships, both romantic and platonic.

The cameos are fantastic. Most of them are in the episode titles, but at the risk of giving away too many spoilers, I will just say that there was not a single cameo that I didn’t feel was given the justice it deserved. … Except Batman/Bruce Wayne. I can understand why the character was made to be separate and distanced, but sometimes it just tries too hard and comes across as ridiculous.

Kory Anders is brought to life in such a great way, both in terms of acting and special effects. I love that Rachel and Gar are shown as slightly younger characters, still trying to find themselves. In fact, their superhero names have both been alluded to but neither have yet taken on their pseudonyms, despite Robin being a known alias and Starfire mentioned at least once.

The action in Titans is non-stop and the team faces a challenge at every turn, which feels perfectly comic book-like. I cannot wait until next season because — be warned, Gothamites — this one ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. 

 

Book — Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (2017)
Trigger warning: suicide.

In Meddling Kids Edgar Cantero answers the question ‘what happens when the monsters are real?’

And he does it with plenty of references to pop culture — in particular, and perhaps most obviously, teen sleuths such as Scooby Doo. I must admit, Meddling Kids first caught my eye because of the title’s Scooby Doo homage. I wasn’t sure if that would carry through to the novel well, but it really did.

The writing is very meta, which further adds to the enjoyment level of the story. The monsters aren’t all physical monsters, though there are plenty of those, but also monsters like mental illness, repressed sexuality, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Meddling Kids is an enjoyable book with a fun plot, plenty of dark humour and a great cast of characters. Highly recommend for fans of Scooby Doo, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Supernatural and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

 

Film — Malevolent (2018)

Malevolent is a tried and true story of frauds who eventually meet their comeuppances, much like Brothers Grimm. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable take on the haunted house story with a good, if somewhat predictable, twist at the end. It’s nothing memorable, but it’s an entertaining 90 minutes of horror nonetheless.


Film — Dracano (2013)

I love watching Corin Nemec in SyFy and other b-grade natural horror movies and Dracano did not disappoint in that regard. While there was a lot of talk about the volcanos erupting and that causing a mass dragon epidemic, I felt there were not enough appearances by the aforementioned dragons.

It’s understandable keeping the monsters under wraps in more refined horror to avoid overexposure. But in a film like Dracano, where it is obviously b-grade cheesiness at its finest, I want to see the monsters and their grisly fake blood-drenched effect on humanity frequently — see the Sharknado series for examples.

Despite stingy use of dragons, Dracano still manages to be a fun b-grade horror flick with hilarious dialogue, cheesy special effects and laughable dialogue. 

 

Film — A Cure for Wellness (2016)
Trigger warning: suicide, attempted rape, and incest.

I remember when A Cure for Wellness was released in cinemas, I wanted to go see it as the trailer looked like it could be an interesting “insidious institution” romp. But I never had the chance as it had a pretty short run. I can see why now. At nearly two and a half hours long, this film is as bloated as it is confused, disgusting and boring. But the film never feels like two and a half hours … oh, no, Gothamites … it feels so. much. longer. 

Visually, A Cure for Wellness is breathtaking in its gothic beauty. That’s about as far as I can get praising it. The acting is dull and unconvincing. The story in convoluted and takes far too long to amount to the most obvious plot points. There are plot points and characters that are brought in and obsessed over, but ultimately don’t result to anything and aren’t explained. They’re not even red herrings. They’re just shoved in there. The characters who do have purpose are uninteresting and unlikeable. And the lead male makes some of the stupidest decisions in horror movie history … pretty much every time he has to make a decision.

If there were tighter editing and superfluous plot points were removed, I’m not saying it would make A Cure for Wellness a good film, but it would certainly make it shorter which couldn’t hurt it at all. 

It has been a long time since I’ve seen a horror film this painfully uninteresting and I truly hope it is a long time before I see another. 


Film — Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Mary Queen of Scots sees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie give magnificent performances despite a plot that fundamentally shows two queens squabbling while groups of men cross one of them at every opportunity. I’m not saying it’s not accurate, but I did find watching the continuous back and forth became tedious.

As a whole, I found Mary Queen of Scots to be interesting, but not particularly entertaining. I don’t see this being a particularly memorable film, but it would be worth a watch for viewers who love period dramas and monarchy dramas. Assuming there’s nothing else on. 


Film — Glass (2019)

Personally, I was disappointed by Glass. As the final instalment to a series that brought us Unbreakable and Split, both of which are thoroughly enjoyable, I expected more. Glass starts off really well, has a doldrum middle, picks up towards the end with a fascinating twist and then ends on an unnecessary note that feels forced.

Props to the actors though who have all done great jobs of portraying their characters. In particular, James McAvoy doubles down on the brilliance he showed in Split and gives a stellar performance. 

It’s worth watching if you’ve seen the first two films in M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy, but it’s by no means the best of the series and goes out with a fizzle instead of a bang. 

 

What did you think of this week’s update? Agree, disagree or have any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

– CJ

 

P.S. One good thing did come out of A Cure for Wellness. This hauntingly beautiful cover of The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated sung by Mirel Wagner. It featured in one of the trailers. It’s a very different take on the original version of the song and I love them both. 

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