Monday, June 25, 2018

Guest Post: The Incredibles 2 (2018)




The Incredibles 2: The Incredibles family returns to fight for their rights to defend Earth"

By Jonas Schwartz

After 14 years, the sequel to the Pixar/Disney hit The Incredibles bulldozes its way back into theaters with new adventures, new powers, and new adversaries. Though set in a fantasy version of the 1960s, the film meddles in a retro version of the sexual revolution by focusing on patriarchal toxicity and the male's reluctance to accept females as fully equal.  

Like the Avengers at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, superhero-dom has been castigated. A disastrous mission that leaves a city in ruins further alienates the heroes, who become a scapegoat for the government. The Parrs, Bob (Craig T Nelson), Helen (Holly Hunter), and their three children must remain underground because saving the world is an illegal act.

When billionaire siblings (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) finance a mission to recreate good buzz for the superhero mission, they choose the more diplomatic Helen to be the face of heroes to Bob's chagrin. While Helen fights for justice, Bob becomes Mr. Super-Mom, forced to care for the three kids. Leaping 20 story buildings and outracing bullets may be a breeze, but keeping his eldest Violet from depression over a boy, his Peck's bad boy son Dash from being Super-rambunctious, and his unpredictable infant Jack-Jack from demolishing everything in his path is a gargantuan task.



Director Brad Bird, responsible for the original megahit, continues to shape a movie version of the '60s glamour with architecture and visual style of the early James Bond films as well as the constructs of Disneyland's park Tomorrowland (Bird had two years ago made a live action version of said park which was a critical and commercial disappointment). Michael Giacchino's music harks back to John Barry's iconic Bond scores of the '60s. The animation is a cornucopia for the eyes. CGI has become so adept at simulating water, haze, and the flow of hair, that often it's unbelievable the audience is not seeing actual photography. The twilight times when the sky and clouds are translucent has been transferred beautifully to the screen.

Bird's configuration of the final climax on a speeding cruise ship forces your heart into your throat. It is on par with Bird's filming of Tom Cruise hanging off the Dubai high rise hotel in the best Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol. The audience has invested in the Incredible family and their welfare and reputation drive the audience to pray for a successful, and fatality-less ending.

The script itself is functional, but not groundbreaking. Though the switched marriage role scenario fits in with the '60s milieu, it's an old-hat construct. The villain's domination plan is rather lame, and the script doesn't seem to have purposely created an absurd revenge crime to comment on that superhero/superspy cliché like Amazon's brilliant The Tick season two with Jackie Earl Haley's The Terror, therefore it lowers the heft of Incredibles 2's antagonist.

The characters have been voiced by major talents, and they all show the shading and intelligence one would expect from Hunter, Odenkirk, Nelson, Keener, and Samuel L Jackson (who returns as Frozone). As in the first film, the highlight is director Bird as the fussy fashion guru Edna Mode.

A fun summer film, Incredibles 2 will keep the entire family amused. One only wishes that the story had found something new to say to warrant the Parrs' return after so many years.



Check out Jonas's other reviews at www.theatermania.com/author/jonas-schwartz_169 

The Cult-TV Faces of: Medals

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Sigmund and the Sea Monster: "Is There a Doctor in the Cave?"



In “Is There a Doctor in the Cave?” Sigmund has fallen ill with a stomach ache. This isn’t the first time he has had one, and he tells his friends Johnny (Johnny Whitaker) and Scott (Scott Kolden) that he used to take medicine at the cave.  That medicine consists of melted jellyfish and warm squid milk. 

Realizing they must help their tentacled friend, Johnny sneaks into the cave, only to learn that Slurp also has a stomach ache, and is taking the same medicine. Johnny attempts to steal the medicine for Sigmund, but is captured in the process.

Fortunately, the Wolf Man shows up at the cave, and the Sea Monsters think he is Scott, trying to pull a repeat of last week’s “Frankenstein” stunt. The Wolf Man goes mad with rage, giving Johnny the opportunity he needs to escape with the medicine that Sigmund needs. 

Afterwards, Johnny gets stood up on his date with Peggy, and sings a song.


“Is There a Doctor in the Cave?” to its credit, remembers the series history of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1975). By that I mean, last week the Frankenstein Monster visited the sea monster cave, and was proven to be an imposter. This week, when the real Wolf Man appears at the cave (his car broke down near the beach…) he is assumed to be an imposter, instead of the real thing.  

Of course, the real question here isn’t continuity, but why this series has taken a weird turn to feature the Universal Monsters.

This episode features another odd movie reference. The sea monsters’ family physician is named Dr. Cyclops, but acts like Harpo from The Marx Brothers, and has the same type of mop-top.  Another pop culture joke: The sea monsters like the Wolf Man western they watched, titled “High Moon.” Gary Cooper most definitely does not star.

The last act of “Is There a Doctor in the Cave?” comes out of nowhere. Sigmund is nursed back to health, and suddenly we learn that Johnny has a date with Peggy, who was played, two episodes back, by Pamelyn Ferdin.  She stands him for that date, and Johnny sings a sad song, which ends the episode.  This interlude has absolutely nothing whatsoever do with the previous twenty-two minute narrative. It’s just a weird set up for the weekly song.

Next week: “Happy Birthdaze.”