It’s a new month and once again, I’m excited about new things! And just because TV is in a bit of a holiday hiatus, there are a couple of anticipated season premieres and a whole mess of movies to get geeked about. It’s time once again to get enthusiastic.
Just Cause 4 (December 4) – With no new Saints Row on the horizon, my gaming guilty pleasure is the Just Cause series. They’re open world action games set largely in jungles. There’s a story, but you can pretty much ignore that and just go out and cause chaos. You know how the most fun part of Grand Theft Auto is when you just want to blow off steam and explode things? That’s kind of the whole point of Just Cause, a series that encourages you to wreck stuff in new and exciting ways. The new game brings extreme weather conditions to the mix and I’m sure savvy and misanthropic players will find ways to use that to their advantage. I know I’m in the mood for explosions and dumb fun, so let’s bust out the wingsuit and go nuts!
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (December 5) – One of last year’s most lauded comedies returns for a new season. From Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, it’s about a divorced housewife in the fifties who tries her hand at stand-up. And it’s about more than that. Like suddenly not having the life you expected and being a single mother in an era where that was not done. It’s an excellent series and I just realized that I haven’t finished Season One yet, so there’s going to be some serious catching up. (Amazon)
Martian Manhunter (December 5) – One of my favorite DC characters is J’Onn J’Onzz the Martian Manhunter. J’Onn was one of the founding members of the Justice League (and the only one without a solo series), but he occasionally gets dropped from the book or badly marginalized. He’s had a nice focus in the current Justice League series, but that’s the first time since 2011’s New 52 reboot. And now, he gets the spotlight he deserves in a 12 issue series by Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo. Early word is that this redefines J’Onn the way the recent Mister Miracle did for Scott Free, which sounds like exactly what I want to read. (DC Comics)
Counterpart (December 9) – Season two of the drama hits this December, and man, I can’t wait. Counterpart stars actual best actor J.K. Simmons in this tale of espionage and betrayal between two parallel worlds. One Howard Silk is a milquetoast data analyst, one is a badass agent, and the two have to work together as relations between the worlds start to fray and the big secret of existence is in peril. It’s weird and good and super addictive. (Starz)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14) – Now this looks cool. This animated movie comes from LEGO Movie geniuses Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, and it features Spider heroes from across the dimensions. There’s Peter Parker, Miles Morales, a noir version of Spider-Man (Nicolas Cage), an alternate Gwen Stacy, and a pig named Spider-Ham and voiced by John Mulaney. It looks fantastic – the animation in the trailers is beautiful and quirky with all kinds of comic effects. The jokes in the ads are funny, (and the implication is that this movie’s Peter Parker is an adult version of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, which would be very cool. With Marvel having released three MCU movies by the beginning of July and leaving us hanging for the rest of the year, this should fill that voice nicely.
Battle of the Moribund Franchises! (December 21) – Right before Christmas, we’re getting new entries in franchises that are… struggling. While the Transformers movies continue to be financial successes, they’re less so with each new entry. And on top of that, nobody seems to like them. They’re things that a diminishing number of people feel obligated to see. The new entry may still have Michael Bay as a producer, but it looks like a smaller movie focusing on fan-favorite Bumblebee and his solo mission in 1987. And you know what? It looks charming. Bumblebee making friends with Hailee Steinfeld is so much more appealing than another city-destroying nightmare. And this time, it’s directed by Travis Knight who made the wonderful Kubo and the Two Strings. This might be the first Transformers thing I watch since I walked out of the second movie.
And on the same day, we’re also getting James Wan’s Aquaman. The first DC movie since Justice League failed to set the world on fire, this looks like the last strict adherent to that particular continuity. And here’s the thing. It looks kind of bad. I can’t stand the “water bro” characterization of Aquaman and everything I’ve seen seems, well, dumb. But. It doesn’t look bad in the Zack Snyder way. It seems like they were forcing his style on other directors for visual consistency – you know, a brown color palette and every action scene includes a slo-mo component. That approach ended up hurting even Wonder Woman, which was actually good. But with Snyder out, so is his style. The trailers point to something colorful and fast-moving. So even if it’s bad, it’ll be bad in a different way. I’m case by case on the DC movies right now because I’ve been burned, so the reviews are going to be key here. (Also? I won’t believe your take unless you hated Batman v. Superman because otherwise you’re compromised and I can’t know that you won’t hurt me.)
Vice (December 25) – Adam McKay directed this movie about Dick Cheney, starring an unrecognizable Christian Bale. It looks to be more in the spirit of The Big Short than Anchorman, but I like both versions of McKay. The cast is really interesting with Sam Rockwell as W., Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell, and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld (thus fulfilling the promise at the end of Anchorman that Brick Tamland would go on to work for the Bush Administration). I can’t think of somebody more suited for an Adam McKay biopic than the Vice President who accidentally show somebody in the face and then made the victim apologize. This should be good.
Holmes and Watson (December 25) – Yeah, we’ve had a lot of Sherlock Holmes projects lately. But this one stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly and those two make me laugh every time. Will it be dumb? Probably. Have I laughed my head off every time I’ve seen the trailer where Watson tries to shoot a swarm of bees? You know it. I am probably going to watch this on Christmas Day and I will have no regrets.
That’s it for 2018! See you next month for a new era of enthusiasm!