Scary Movie Review: Werewolf By Night (2022)


Title: Werewolf By Night
Release Date: October 7, 2022
Director: Michael Giacchino
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

I felt a pang of nostalgia when Werewolf By Night was preceded by a “TV Special” title card reminiscent of the bygone days of TV movies and miniseries that were a big deal in the era before streaming. The movie itself is filmed in black & white and pays homage to the classic horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, although the black & white also covers up a higher level of gore than would’ve made it onscreen back in the day.  At 55 minutes long, Werewolf By Night is incredible efficient at setting up the premise, the character’s backstories, and the action set pieces so that the lead characters even have time for long conversations.  The creators of the often overlong MCU movies can learn something from this.

The story relates to the powerful weapon known as the Bloodstone.  After the death of its owner, Ulysses Bloodstone, his widow Verussa (Harriet Sansom Harris) invites five monster hunters to compete in a hunt with the winner/survivor inheriting the Bloodstone and all its powers.  Among the hunters are Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal) and Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) who is Ulysses’ estranged daughter and Verussa’s stepdaughter.

Not surprisingly, among the characters at Bloodstone Manor on the night of the hunt is a werewolf!  The hunt leads to some interesting alliances and some clever twists. I really had no idea about Werewolf By Night, so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but it is all very good.  And I just love Ted (Carey Jones).

Rating: ***1/2

 

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TV Review: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)


Title: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Release Date: August 18 – October 13, 2022
Creator/Head Writer/Showrunner: Jessica Gao
Episodes: 9
Production Company:  Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

Up-and-coming Los Angeles lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is traveling with her cousin Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) when a car crash causes her to be exposed to Bruce’s blood and thus acquire Hulk powers.  Turns out that Jennifer is much better at controlling her Hulk powers than Bruce but has no interest in being a superhero.  But her powers are revealed in the most public way possible, and she ends up having to work for a law firm defending super-powered beings while in her She-Hulk form.

This show ends up being something we haven’t seen from Marvel and don’t really see much of at all anymore, an episodic sitcom.  And a very funny one at that.  Following the precedent set by the She-Hulk comics, Maslany to comment on the story.  It ends up kind of being a superhero story crossed with Fleabag and Ally McBeal (but in a good way).  This approach is something that could’ve flopped hard but Maslany’s charm and talent win the day.  I’ve heard a lot about her great work on Orphan Black, a show I’ve sadly not yet watched.

In addition to spoofing legal dramas, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law satirizes the dudebro culture of gatekeeping that all too often manifests itself as misogyny against women in superhero media.  The final episode makes fun of the Marvel formula in a very funny way, although I felt a bit cheated that they didn’t offer an alternate resolution.  Apart from that disappointment this was a very clever and entertaining series. Maslany is boosted by strong supporting cast and guest stars, including:

  • Ginger Gonzaga as Nikki Ramos, Jennifer’s paralegal and best friend.
  • Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky / Abomination, the villain from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (and the first time in a long time Marvel has acknowledged the events of that movie) who has become considerably more chill.
  • Megan Thee Stallion as herself.
  • Benedict Wong as Wong, because everyone loves Wongers!
  • Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock / Daredevil, Jennifer’s fellow lawyer/superhero who comes from New York for a team-up and a hook-up.
  • And the breakout character of the series, Patty Guggenheim as Madisynn King, who turns being a drunk party girl into a superpower.

 

 

 

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TV Review: Moon Knight (2022)


Title: Moon Knight
Release Date: March 30 – May 4, 2022
Creator/Head Writer/Showrunner: Jeremy Slater
Episodes: 6
Production Company:  Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) is a shy and awkward employee of the British Museum gift shop who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Ancient Egypt, but is unable to get a job as a museum guide. (Is nerdy guy who’s too much of a loser to lead museum tours a trope now, because that’s also how Dan Lewis was introduced in Doctor Who last year). Among his many problems is severe sleepwalking, and upon waking up in the Swiss Alps, he begins to discover that his body is sometimes controlled by another identity, and American mercenary named Marc Spector.

Turns out that Mark is also the avatar for the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu.  The show features a terrific bird skeleton creature for Khonshu that is performed by Karim El Hakim with  F. Murray Abraham providing Khonshu’s wonderfully sardonic voice. Marc, Khonshu, and now Steven are being pursued by Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) a creepy cult leader serving the outcast goddess of justice Ammit, who has plans to exterminate a large portion of humanity for sins that they have not yet committed.  If that’s not complicated enough, Marc is also married and they are soon joined by his estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), who turns out to be the real action hero of the series.

Steven/Mark/Khonshu and Layla travel to Egypt for a series of adventures to try to stop Harrow/Ammit and discover the secrets of Steven and Mark’s past.  The series makes a lot of interesting left turns and is a surprisingly good metaphor for trauma and mental illness.  I also love the appearance of the goddess Taweret (Antonia Salib).  Isaac really makes the show work with his dual performance as Steven and Marc.  Hawke is unnerving as the calmly evil Harrow.  And Calamawy may just be the break-out actor of the series.

Hopefully, we’ll see more of these characters in the future but for now this may be my favorite of the Disney+ Marvel series after WandaVision.

 

 

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