Episode 286: Batgirl cancelled. Bullet Train review

Martyn and Gerrod talk about the recent Batgirl cancellation and pay tributes to David Warner, Bernard Cribbins, Nichelle Nichols and, Pat Caroll. They also review Sony’s new film, Bullet Train.

Bullet Train is a 2022 American action-comedy film starring Brad Pitt, as an assassin who has to deal with enemies while riding a Japanese bullet train. The film is directed by David Leitch and based on a screenplay by Zak Olkewicz that adapts the Japanese novel Maria Beetle (published in English as Bullet Train) by Kōtarō Isaka. In addition to Pitt, the film also stars Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock.

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Episode 282: The unbearable weight of massive talent

Martyn and Gerrod bring you the latest in entertainment news, as well as a review of the new Nicolas Cage film, The unbearable weight of massive talent.

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Artwork by Beeble Pete. Adapted by Penny Smallshire.

Running Down Corridors can be found here.

We sound familiar can be found here, More than just an impression can be found here.

Comedians talking about football can be found here, Cister Act here.

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Episode 281: The Batman

Martyn and Gerrord are joined by Antoni Pearce. The dynamic trio talk about The Batman. Spoilers are contained within, obviously. 

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Artwork by Beeble Pete. Adapted by Penny Smallshire.

We sound familiar can be found here, More than just an impression can be found here.

Comedians talking about football can be found here, Cister Act here.

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Review-Torchwood Sonny

In just a few short years, Lizzie Hopley has cemented herself as one of the most consistent writers on the Big Finish roster. Returning to the Torchwood range for the first time since 2017, she gives us an interesting morality tale about care homes, loneliness, the treatment of elderly people and, the existential crisis of an AI.

Torchwood: Sonny follows fan-favourite Rhys (Kai Owen) as he enlists his mum, Brenda (Nerys Hughes) into helping Torchwood investigate a new fleet of robots, in a care home. At first, Brenda isn’t too pleased about this. But as time goes on, she becomes more and more dependent on her robot, named Sonny.

I had almost expected this to be a tale of robots taking over and attempting to enslave humanity. But Lizzie Hopley is so much smarter than that. She knows we’ve seen that trope a thousand times before. Instead of making us fear what robots could do to us, she makes us fear what robots could reveal about us.

Kai Owen, Nerys Hughes, and Steven Kynman are all terrific, and their relationships are convincing from the start. We all know Hughes is a particularly talented actress, but she absolutely shines in this audio. She portrays Brenda with such a raw vulnerability, that feels like an emotional gut-punch at times. There’s a wonderful complexity to Brenda, that I hope we get more of in the future. The supporting cast is also exceptionally strong, with Amerjit Deu, in particular, doing a fantastic job as Prudeep.

Sonny is not only a brilliantly comedic script, it’s also a deep exploration of what it means to feel isolated. Hopley manages to convey the monotony of being in a care home, without the story being boring. Lisa Bowerman’s direction is flawless and keeps the story going at exactly the right pace, this is all beautifully accompanied by Steve Wright’s soundtrack.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Torchwood on Big Finish is Torchwood at its absolute best.

Torchwood: Sonny is available to buy from the Big Finish website.

Book review-Before The Batman

Synopsis:

We all know that billionaire Bruce Wayne is secretly Gotham City’s vigilante detective and protector, The Batman—but what road led him there? Find out in Before The Batman: An Original Movie Novel, which includes an exciting original story of Bruce Wayne’s early adventures on his way to becoming The Batman!

Written by David Lewman, Before The Batman, is a young adult novel, which essentially acts as a prequel to The Batman. It follows a 17-year-old Bruce Wayne, about a decade and a half before he dons the cape and cowl.

Given the target audience, this isn’t a complex read. I blitzed through it in about 90 minutes. However, I had a lot more fun with this than I anticipated. It’s an intriguing look at Batman’s early years, laying the groundwork for the universe of the film, without rehashing what we’ve previously seen. We learn a bit more about Alfred and his military days, as well as The Riddler and the parallels between him and Bruce Wayne.

The book isn’t a required read before seeing the film, but it does a great job of expanding the mythology that’s established in the film.

The book includes a few behind the scenes images from the film, as well as a small poster.

Review-Studio 666

The Foo Fighters are having issues writing their 10th studio album, trying to think outside the box and spark their creative juices. Leader singer, Dave Grohl suggests they record in an ominous mansion. Once inside supernatural forces threaten to endanger the album and their lives.

Strange occurrences (and celebrity cameos) arise as the band squabbles over how to best utilise its improvised studio’s “creepy death atmosphere” and eerie acoustics.

Studio 666 is a mixed bag, based on a short story by Grohl. It’s part-comedy, part-horror, part-90s slasher throwback. The plot is very formulaic and the acting isn’t Oscar-worthy, some of the band members are better than others, but that all adds to the charm. This is a proper B-movie, the type we haven’t seen for decades. Watching the tight-knit band play off one other as fictional versions of themselves is a lot of fun.

Studio 666

Starring Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, Leslie Grossman and Jenna Ortega. Story by Dave Grohl, written by Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes. Directed by BJ McDonnell. Is out now, in selected cinemas in the UK and Ireland.

 

Review-Ben Reilly issue 1

It’s weird being a Spider-Man fan, I’m old enough to remember the original reaction to ‘The clone saga’. People hated it, they hated there was a Spider-Man that wasn’t Peter Parker. Nowdays, the appeal of the character seems to be that there are thousands of variations.

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1, picks up shortly after Ben Reilly took over the mantle of Spider-Man from Peter Parker (before to the Beyond Saga), and he’s having identity issues.
The resurrection of Carrion, a living virus, as well as other villains from Peter’s past, doesn’t help matters.

DeMatteis transports the reader to the aftermath of the clone saga and tells a compelling story about a conflicted hero attempting to figure out who and what he truly is.

I adored the story’s complexities and Ben’s internal battle. His personality is intriguing, and the darkness within him makes the reader interested in his decisions. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this tale leads, and the conclusion of this issue has piqued my interest even more.

With its amazing attention to detail and unique, engaging style, David Baldeon’s art continues to excite and impress. His work manages to convey character feelings, as well as fantastic action and catches the 90s vibe.

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man #1 is a solid issue. It’s almost as if Ben Reilly has come full circle, since his first appearance so many decades ago, and this is a great example of how successfully the character can be handled.

There’s a lot to be explored, and this series feels like it might be the ultimate piece of proof that his long-ago creation was, in fact, a great idea.

Listen to our review of Spider-Man: No way home here.

Episode 278: Doctor Who-Eve of the Daleks

Martyn, Chris and Sam discuss the latest New Year’s Day special of Doctor Who, Eve of the Daleks. 

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, PodchaserPlayer FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

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Spoiler-Free Review: Cobra Kai series 4

This weekend, fan-favourite Cobra Kai returns to Netflix for its fourth series.

In this series, we see Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) pair up with his long-term enemy, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). The duo has put aside their differences and merged their classes, in order of giving their students a chance at winning the tournament against the Cobra Kai dojo, now managed by John Kreese (Martin Kove).
This was never going to be an easy match, especially now that Kreese’s old war buddy, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) has returned. Everyone is on the edge and unsure of what to expect.

This series returns to a more character-driven narrative, that some fans may have felt was missing from series 3. Thomas Ian Griffith is clearly having the time of his life, playing a complete psychopath and he’s exactly what the show needed. Johnny’s estranged son, Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) has joined Cobra Kai and is teaching them everything he learned from Daniel and Miyagi-Do. Samatha (Mary Mouser) has fully embraced Johnny’s “strike-first” attitude.

There are some twists and turns that I won’t spoil here. We also get to see a lot more of Daniel’s son, Anthony LaRusso (Griffin Santopietro). This is nice, as he’s mostly just been in the background for a lot of the show. We’re also introduced to a new character, Kenny (Dallas Dupree Young).

It’s a fantastic set of episodes that move the story forward and set up the future of the franchise. I came away from this extremely excited for series 5. However, the first eight episodes do sometimes feel like they’re just treading water until the tournament in the last two.

Series 5 has already been greenlit, so I can’t wait to see where they take this franchise next.

Cobra Kai returns to Netflix on New Year’s Eve.

Film review-The King’s Man

The King’s Man is a prequel, to the two previous films in the franchise. It attempts to provide a backstory to please Kingsman fans, but it primarily feels like it’s addressing questions nobody asked.

On the verge of World War One King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas of Russia are three cousins who find themselves as rulers of three European and Eastern mega-powers (all played by Tom Hollander).
Meanwhile, dark forces commanded by Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl) lurk in the shadows, attempting to infiltrate the three leaders’ trust and launch a world war, beginning with Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria’s assassination.
With his intimate relationship with Wilhem, Hanussen shatters the trust between cousins, while manipulative monk Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) rips into the Tsar, all while a secret mole runs rampant in King George’s circle of influence.

The action is directed incredibly well, there’s an absolutely breathtaking skydiving sequence and, Rhys Ifans steals every scene he’s in. However, the screenplay by director, Matthew Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek (The Last Days of American Crime) — adapted from Mark Millar’s comic —leads The King’s Man into being a very disjointed film. It’s a part-historical drama and part-action adventure. It starts with a serious anti-war message but quickly turns into a parody.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where The King’s Man has gone wrong, but, despite a clever early twist, it all feels ploddingly predictable in a join-the-dots-of-history and Kingsman origin-tale kind of way, even the “shock” post-credits set-up for another instalment is rather head-slappingly obvious.

The King’s Man is out in the UK on Boxing Day.