What if Superman was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger baling hay, trying to till his own farm? That’s part of the appeal of Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, the subject of our latest superheroic Four-Color Flashback–Ross’ painted artwork brings DC’s pantheon to vivid life. Of course, Superman isn’t one of us. He makes this clear when, after a decade in exile, he descends upon Metropolis to mete out cold hard justice to a new, irresponsible generation of heroes and villains. Kingdom Come was intended as a statement on the Xtreme anti-heroes of the ‘90s, and as its human protagonist Norman McKay witnesses the fantastic devastation around him, the book explores issues of faith and fascism. Paul and Arlo discuss how Ross and Waid’s tale holds up more than 20 years later, how it reconciles the heroes’ godlike power with fragile human will, why it may be Ross’ best work, and its nigh definitive portrait of DC’s Trinity. Plus, Arlo finishes his Disney marathon while catching Pokémon, and we tease a future discussion of Spider-Man PS4.
Next: we switch religions from DC to Marvel as our pal Chance Mazzia joins us to talk Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again.
Gobbledygeek episode 346, “Mary Poppins / The Lure: Cartoon Penguins Eat Polish Mermaids, Don’t They?”, is available for listening or download right hereand on iTunes here.
Even with a spoonful of sugar, Paul finds this week’s Geek Challenge hard to stomach. You see, he has invited Arlo to watch Robert Stevenson’s delightful 1964 classic Mary Poppins, in which a magical Julie Andrews and an accented Dick Van Dyke dance their hearts out while unlocking the joy hidden within a stuffy banker. In return, Arlo has forced Paul to endure Agnieszka Smoczynska’s 2015 goth music video The Lure, in which there is little magic but plenty of pain, blood, and desperation as two virginal maneating mermaids come of age. They’re both musicals, they’re both about women, and…that’s about where the similarities end. Some men just like to watch the world burn, and Arlo appears to be one of them. Plus, lots of great trailers; Sense8, Legion, and Westworld broaden sci-fi TV’s horizons; Brian Michael Bendis’ time with Spider-Man comes to an end; and Arlo finally watched Guillermo del Toro’s debut feature Cronos.
With Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino takes us once more back to a terrible moment in our history, and once again asks us to indulge him his little anachronisms and revisionist revenge fantasies. This time, instead of Nazis and baseball-bat-wielding Jews, we get slavers and bounty-hunting dentists. Set in the pre-Civil War Deep South, Unchained is Tarantino’s homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of Leone and Corbucci, which he prefers to call his Spaghetti Southern. I’ll say that the absence of editor Sally Menke is sharply felt here, though. If I, of all people, notice the nearly three-hour runtime, then there could’ve been some tightening. The cast is great across the board, including a list of hidden cameos longer than my arm (among others, original Django Franco Nero makes an appearance). Jamie Foxx is great in the title role, though I imagine what Will Smith could’ve done with the part, as was the original intent. Leo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins all shine in their respective roles. Kerry Washington was reduced to little more than the damsel in distress, however, which is unusual for a Tarantino picture. But the standout here is Christoph Waltz. He is every bit as charmingly heroic and admirable this time as he was charmingly repulsive and hateful in Basterds.
AJ: 10. MOONRISE KINGDOM (dir. Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson’s films often have a childlike quality about them, whether it be his colorful storybook compositions or the petulance of many of his characters. So it’s fitting that he’s finally made a film about children, one in which the kids are on the run from what’s expected of them and their adult guardians are forced to accept the roles they’ve played in their children’s abandonment of them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both in their first screen acting roles, give perfectly awkward performances. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are in their element here, while Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton join the auteur’s troupe with ease. Perhaps most encouragingly, Moonrise Kingdom is the first sign of life in years from Bruce Willis–who, with a movie soon to appear on our lists, proved later in the year that he’s most definitely still kicking–and Edward Norton, two actors who really needed a movie like this.
Gobbledygeek episode 109, “How to Survive Killing Seven Unchained Masters,” is available for listening or download right here.
The leaves will soon start falling from the trees and awards bait will soon start arriving in theaters. That’s right, it’s almost time for the fall/winter movie season, so Paul and AJ give you a little preview of 15 films they’re looking forward to. There’s showy Oscar stuff like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables alongside the animated video-game-a-palooza Wreck-It Ralph and Quentin Tarantino’s Southern Django Unchained, among many others. Plus, Paul talks about a local movie theater that’s going the way of the Alamo Drafthouse and AJ discusses the news that this season of The Office will be its last.
Next: it’s been a year, folks. Time to look back on what went right and what went very wrong with DC’s New 52.