Farewell To The Expanse

After six seasons, The Expanse ended its television run when its last episode “Babylon’s Ashes” streamed on Amazon Prime Video this week.

The sixth and final season of The Expanse was the culmination of the long-running storyline of the tensions among human societies in the solar system. Based on the novels by James. S.A. Corey (the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), The Expanse takes place in a future where humans have an uneasy existence throughout our solar system. Earth and Mars are locked in a cold war with each other, while at the colonies in the outer planets, people, called “Belters”, live under harsh and meager conditions. They detest the “Inners” for their lush lifestyle and strive to be recognized as a legitimate power. During the TV series an alien substance called the protomolecule was discovered. It was able to alter both organic and inorganic matter and eventually formed a gigantic Ring structure near Uranus that functioned as an intergalactic gateway to other solar systems. The latter seasons dealt with the ramifications of this event as humanity began spreading to other worlds.

In the fifth season, a Belter terrorist named Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) rose to power in the colonies and decimated Earth by bombarding it with multiple asteroids. Meanwhile, he joined forces with rogue Martian factions to form the Free Navy and seized control of the Ring and the gateway to other star systems. By the start of the sixth season, Earth was on the verge of becoming uninhabitable from the fallout of the asteroid impacts. In the final season Earth and Mars allied with each other to hunt down Inaros regain access to the Ring and negotiate a peace with the Belters.

The Expanse

The show centered on the crew of the Rocinante, James Holden (Steven Strait) of Earth, Naomi Nagato (Dominique Tipper), a Belter who bore a son with Inaros, Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), a tough mechanic from Earth, and Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole), a former criminal struggling to find some measure of redemption. Together they joined the fight against Inarus and his followers. Other characters include Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), a battle-hardened Martian marine allied with the Rocinante crew, United Nations Secretary-General Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a caustic and practical leader who wants nothing more than to save Earth and end the war, Naomi and Inaros’ son Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens), who joined his father in the struggle but started questioning his father’s fanatic ideaology, and Camina Drummer (Cara Gee), a Belter pirate who rebeled against Inaros and the Free Navy.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Films & TV Shows Of 2022

After a couple of years of relatively few genre offerings, 2022 looks like it will reverse that trend with plentry of film releases and television shows airing or streaming. These are the most anticipated films and TV shows of 2022 but note their releases are not certain and will change as we just saw with Morbius, which was delayed from January 28 to April 1. Also some of the films and TV shows listed may turn out to be inferior dreck while other unlisted films and TV shows may wind up surprising everyone and become the newest classics. Without further delay here are the top ten most anticapated films and TV shows of 2022, plus some notable mentions.

Films

10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The first Sonic the Hedgehog was a real surprise and proved an entertaining and solid live-action film based on a video game franchise was possible. The sequel will more closely follow the Sonic videos and include more characters from the games, such as Quills and Tails.

9. The Flash

The DC Extended Unverse (DCEU) faces a reboot that replaces Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as Batman and Superman in this live-action solo film for the Flash. This film which is loosely based on the comic book mini-series Flashpoint is bound to be controversial with many DCEU fans

8. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Yeoh stars in this trippy looking film about an ordinary woman recruited to stop an multiversal evil by channeling the skills and memories of alternate versions of herself from different realities. If anything, it should be an acting tour de force for Yeoh.

7. Lightyear

Everyone’s attention was captured the moment it was announced that this Pixar film about Buzz Lightyear would not be based on the Toy Story character but a pulp sci-fi adventure that the toy was based on. An additional bonus is that the title hero is voiced by everyone’s favorite hero, Chris Evans.

6 Thor: Love and Thunder

Director Taiki Waititi reinvigorated the Thor films with his Thor: Ragnarok. That film was so successful and beloved that Marvel Studios greenlit a fourth Thor film helmed by Waititi. This cosmic-based entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) once again stars Chris Hemsworth in his legendary role as Thor and features the Jane Foster Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion

The conclusion of the Jurassic World trilogy finally unleashes the dinosaurs into our modern world with disastrous results! The concept is a throwback to those old dinosaur films with the prehistoric animals running amok in our streets; plus Jurassic World: Dominion is bringing back our favorite characters from the original Jursassic Park.

4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Part One

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse took everyone by surprise over its innovative animation and fantastic storytelling about growing up, legacies and all the wild variations of Spider-Man. It was little wonder it won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. The trailer for the sequel promises more of the same as Miles Morales meets a future version of Spider-Man and more.

3. Avatar 2

The first Avatar is usually looked down upon but it is actually a great sci-fi film by James Cameron. The master director always gave us entertaining and exciting epics and this follow up to Avatar will most likely be as thrilling and present cutting-edge special effects. Just wait until the first trailer drops. By then, the excitement and anticipation for Avatar 2 will be explosive.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Our first glimpse of the sequel to Doctor Strange wowed audiences after the end credits of Spider-Man: No Way Home. The teaser featured the wild visuals and appearances by many characters to whet our appetites, including the Scarlet Witch, fresh from WandaVision. Even more enticing was the teaser’s final stinger that revealed an alternate, darker version of the Sorcerer Supreme, which possibly ties to the What If…? animated show. Then there are the rumors that the film will introduce non-MCU characters like the Fox X-Men and the Fantastic Four. let’s hope those rumors pan out.

1. The Batman

Director Matt Reeves takes his turn with DC’s most popular superhero and the trailers have blown us away which promise an emphasis on a gritty and mature version of the Caped Crusader that seems more like a crime thriller comic book brought to life that evoke the gritty, early Golden Age Batman from the comics books. The moody and dark trailers focused on a raged-fueled Batman and an actual mystery from a fiendish villain have stoked our cravings for the newest live-action Batman. Thankfully we only have to wait a few more weeks to see The Batman.

Other Noteworthy Films:

65; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom; Black Adam; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Distant; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore; Moonfall; Morbius; Nope; Secret Headquarters; Samaritan; Super Mario Brothers; Turning Red

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Spider-Man: No Way Home—Spider-Man’s Endgame

Despite a global pandemic and naysayers, Spider-Man: No Way Home (NWH) defied expectations and is a mammoth box office hit. With the success comes discussion over what lies ahead for future Spider-Man films and the ramifications of the events of NWH. Be aware the following will include spoilers about Spider-Man: No Way Home and related films.

The Complex Film Web

Spider-Man’s film history and its development has always been rocky. Before the first Spider-Man in 2002, it took years and armies of lawyers to develop a Spider-Man film thanks to the Marvel Comics superhero’s complex film rights. As it now stands Sony Pictures holds the film rights to Spider-Man, not The Walt Disney Company or Marvel Studios. While Sony had great success with the early Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films, they struggled with their rebooted film duology, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film studio tried to start their own film universe based on Spider-Man and related property to rival Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But those films were not as successful as the Raimi films nor were they well received. This forced Sony to scuttle further planned films and work with Marvel Studios to integrate the superhero into the MCU. This paid off tremendously as the MCU Spider-Man films were beloved and very profitable.

The partnership between Sony and Disney hit a large hurdle in 2019 shortly after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, a film which ended on a cliffhanger. The two companies could not come to terms and Sony took back the film rights, effectively ending all appearances by Spider-Man in the MCU. After some time, cooler heads prevailed and Spidey was allowed to have at least one more appearance in the MCU, which was Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film that celebrated all the Spider-Man live-action films as the actors who performed Spider-Man in the older films, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprised their iconic roles. Many theorized that based on the film’s plot line dealing with alternate realities that the superhero would transition away from the MCU and into his own reality that was populated by other characters such as Venom and Morbius.

Across a Multiverse

According to executives from both film companies, Spider-Man will remain in the MCU for the time being. Producer Amy Pascal even went as far as to announce that a new MCU Spider-Man was in development and perhaps more. He is also supposed to appear in one other MCU film as a feature character like he did in Captain America: Civil War and the last two Avengers films. It would be terrific if he could show up in the MCU reboot of the Fantastic Four since the two properties have a shared early history and the director of the MCU Spider-Man films, Jon Watts, has been selected to direct the FF reboot.

Spider-Man remaining in the MCU is welcome news for fans who love the MCU version of Spider-Man. No one can say for certain if this actually happens, but given the huge success of the MCU Spider-Man films, it would be in the best interests of both film studios to continue the arrangement. On the other hand, if this does not come to pass, at least the cliffhanger was resolved and the last film in the trilogy brought this Spidey’s story to a conclusion and a new chapter in his life.

Supposing Spider-Man were to remain in the MCU what would he face next? One clue is the alien symbiote that created Venom. At the end of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Venom was transported to the MCU, however he did not play a vital role in NWH. Instead, Venom and his host Eddie Brock hung out in a bar in Mexico and was transported back to his own reality in a mid-credit scene in NWH. The scene was quite funny, but some were disappointed that Venom did not help out the Spider-Men or join the Sinister Six. But a small fragment of the symbiote was left behind in the MCU. So this could be what Peter faces next.

As to how this fragment remained while everyone else not part of the MCU were transported back to their own realities, well, because plot holes. On that note, where were the other characters from other realities that knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man, such as the Raimi version of Venom, or the Harry Osborns in the other films or Peter’s love interests? The real-world answer is that having them show up would have made the film too crowded. It already had the two previous versions of Spider-Man and the main villains from those films, plus the Venom and Matt Murdock appearances. It is possible they arrived much later in NWH and were quickly whisked back before they could do anything. Or maybe they were about to come through in the scene near the end where the dimensional rift threatened to rip open wider. In that moment, audiences could make out the forms of other Spider-Man villains like Kraven the Hunter and Scorpion, so other characters who knew Spider-Man’s secret identity were bound to come through, also.

For now, it seems as if Venom will have his own universe that is populated by at least one other Spider-Man villain, Morbius. There are hints that this universe is part of the film universe of The Amazing Spider-Man films. These include the font for the Daily Bugle newspaper seen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius is similar to that seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Another is the Oscorp Building featured in those films turned up in a recent trailer for Morbius. That film references Venom and the trailers featured Michael Keaton as presumably the Vulture, an MCU Spider-Man villain. How can this be? Simple, this version of the version is similar to the MCU version seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The way that actor J.K. Simmons reprised his role as J. Jonah Jameson in NWH being that he played the same character in the Raimi Spider-Man films also applies in this case with the Vulture. In other words, his appearance in Morbius does not mean the film takes place in the MCU. As to the apprent absence of Spider-Man in the Venom films to date (post-credits scenes aside), well, they could have taken place before The Amazing Spider-Man films.

There are plans to create a film based on Kraven the Hunter with Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing the famous Spidey villain. This film could be interesting, but would feel hollow without Spider-Man’s presence. More than Venom or Morbius, Kraven was driven and defined by Spider-Man. He was obssessed by besting his ultimate prey in the comic books. This culminated in the classic story line “Kraven’s Last Hunt” and it is hard to imagine such a story being filmed without Spider-Man. If the Kraven film takes place in The Amazing Spider-Man films perhaps it can include Andrew Garfield’s version of Spider-Man.

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Top Ten Films & TV Shows Of 2021

After the live-media drought of 2020, genre films and television shows made a roaring comback in 2021 even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our lives. As we have learned to deal with the pandemic so have the TV and film industry, which was great news since there was much more films and TV shows for us to enjoy. Here are the ten best films and TV shows of 2021.

Television

10. Superman & Lois

This Arrowverse version of Superman surprised everyone by capturing the essence of the DC superhero while bringing a modern twist of his world and situation. Tyler Hoechlin delivered a sensitive and strong performance as the newest Man of Steel.

9. The Handmaid’s Tale

The fourth season of the dystopian saga of an America under control of religious zealots. This season’s theme was about post-traumatic stress and dealing with rage as the main character escaped to Canada and dealt with the aftermath of her ordeal.

8. Sweet Tooth

This adaptation of the comic book about a road trip undertaken by a hybrid mutant boy and a tortured hunter in the aftermath of a viral apocalypse was a touching adventure. Many decried its cliffhanger season finale but thankfully a second season is coming.

7. Invincible

At first glance, Invincible seemed like just another animated knock off of the DC Universe. But the animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book quickly asserted it was much more than that due to its ultra-violent tone, adult nature and a fresh take of classic comic book tropes.

6. For All Mankind

The second season of the alternate history TV show further developed a world where the Soviets won the moon race with ramifications in the 1980s. Escalated Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. served as a chilling backdrop for the show’s characters who were forced to deal with alarming events on Earth and on our moon.

5. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The second TV show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) surprised viewers with its exploration of racism, social inequality and hero worship. As well as the burden of living up to the legacy of Captain America and confronting the past. On top of those mertis were all the glorious fight scenes and captivating plot developments, which made The Falcon and the Winter Soldier so winning.

4. Doom Patrol

The quirky bunch of misfit superhumans continued to shock and delight viewers with the third season of the show. While the Doom Patrol members were outrageously funny with their caustic behavior, they touched our hearts with their tragic situations in episodes which were just downright bizarre and existential.

3. What If…?

While not every episode delivered, on the whole, What If…? was an intriguing examination of alternate versions of the MCU in animated form. Some episodes knocked it out of the park with alternate versions of characters and stituations such as a terrifying version of Ultron that put the live-action version to shame and a tragic version of Doctor Strange that might turn up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

2. WandaVision

Marvel Studios first MCU-set television show, which streamed on Disney +, instantly stood out in a crowded streaming market thanks to its innovative style which was partly a send up of American sitcoms throughout the decades. At the same time, WandaVision kept viewers captivated with its perplexing mysteries and further developments of the MCU.

1. The Expanse

Coming in at the end of the year as the best television program is the sixth and final season of The Expanse. The must-see sci-fi epic about life in the settled worlds in our solar system was notable for its grounded and realistic depictions of life in space, as well as intriguingly complex characters and political situations. The Expanse is already lauded for being of the best sci-fi TV shows and its reputation will grow in years to come.

Honorary Mentions:

Foundation; Hawkeye; Into the Night; Lost in Space; Love, Death & Robots; Snowpiercer; Star Trek: Discovery; Star Trek: Prodigy; Star Wars: The Bad Batch; Titans; Tribes of Europa; The Wheel of Time; The Witcher

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Spider-Man: No Way Home Is The Strongest, Most Emotional Spider-Man MCU Film

Usually the third film in a trilogy is considered the weakest entry even it it is a solid effort. The latest Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Spider-Man: No Way Home, proves otherwise and is actually the strongest entry.

Given the content of the film, it will be nearly impossible to discuss it without going into not just spoilers, but heavy spoilers. So, to be fair to anyone who has not seen this instant classic, this review will only cover broad generalities with more in-depth analysis to follow some other time. There will be some spoilers but only in the broad sense and covers what was revealed in the trailers.

Spider-Man: No Way Home picks ups immediately after the end of the previous MCU Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home where Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) secret identity of Peter Parker was revealed to the world. The aftermath of the revelation is devastating to Peter and those closest to him like his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya), his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

The loss of privacy and the intrusive nature of the outside world eventually drives Peter to seek magical help from the sorcerer Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). He asks Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man, and the sorcerer agrees to do it. However, during the casting of the spell, Peter distracts Doctor Strange, which causes the spell to be corrupted.

The result is that Spider-Man villains from alternate film universes are brought to the MCU, in other words, the foes from the earlier, non-MCU Spider-Man films. These include Doctor Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), Electro/Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), the Sandman/Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), and the Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

Spider-Man quickly finds out that tackling with the not-quite Sinister Six and his decisions comes with severe consequences that not only imperil him and those around him, but the fabric of the multiverse itself. These developments force him to recognize that with great power comes great responsibility…and sacrifice.

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