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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2019) #16!

It’s time for the Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jay Coyle and Grace Duffy to discuss the week in film. There’s a lot to discuss. As one might expect given the big release of the week, there’s a lot of Marvel Cinematic Universe talk; The Incredible Hulk, Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s also time to discuss Tropic Thunder, Catch Me If You Can and The Shallows. In terms of film news, Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium is screening at Cannes and the IFI is hosting a Trish McAdam season in May.

The top ten:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Five Feet Apart
  3. Little
  4. Pet Sematary
  5. Captain Marvel
  6. Wonder Park
  7. Greta
  8. Wild Rose
  9. Shazam!
  10. Dumbo

New releases:

You can listen to the podcast directly here.

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Millennium – Matryoshka (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

It seems like every time that the third season of Millennium takes a step forward, it is simply preparing to take a tumble backwards.

After spending over a third of the season trying to rewrite the events of the second season, it seemed like the show was finally accepting the changes that had been made by Glen Morgan and James Wong over the course of the sophomore year. Omertà, Borrowed Time, Collateral Damage and The Sound of Snow had all seen the show trying to make its peace with the loss of Catherine Black and the changes to the Millennium Group stemming from the second season finalé. It looked like the show was working through its conflicted feelings, and was ready to move on.

Perhaps it must...

Perhaps it must…

However, both Antipas and Matryoshka represent a very clear step backwards. Antipas feels like an attempt to return to the mood and aesthetic of the late first season (and first season characterisation of Lucy Butler) with no regard for what came afterwards. Matryoshka attempts to reintroduce the sort of clumsy revisionist rewriting of Millennium‘s internal continuity in a manner that evokes The Innocents or Exegesis or Skull and Bones. It presents a secret history of the Millennium Group that heavily contradicts The Hand of St. Sebastian.

There is a host of potentially interesting stuff buried under all of this, but – as with a lot of the third season – it is very hard to care about a show more invested in playing ping-pong with its own history than in trying to tell a new and compelling story. It seems like the most striking thing about most third season episodes is how they engage with what came before, more than what they are actually trying to do. Watching the third season, it seems like the Millennium writing staff is just as divided as the Millennium Group was in Owls and Roosters.

Nesting dolls...

Nesting dolls…

This approach is self-defeating on a number of levels. The second season was admittedly divisive among fans, but it seems like the third season simply cannot get past The Fourth Horseman and The Time is Now in any meaningful fashion. Fans who enjoyed the second season will inevitably feel frustrated by the repeated efforts to minimise or over-write it. Fans who disliked the second season will grow increasingly annoyed that the show is still fixated upon it. Any viewers without a working knowledge of the history of the show are likely to just be confused and befuddled.

Matryoshka is not the worst offender for this sort of confused self-contradiction and self-fixation, but there is a sense that Millennium‘s fascination with the continuity (or lack thereof) of the second season has already passed to point of diminishing returns. Much like the script for Matryoshka, it seems like the third season of Millennium is trapped in the past.

Eating its own tale...

Eating its own tale…

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Greg Pak’s Run on The Incredible Hulk (With Jeff Parker) – Fall of the Hulks (Review)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Today, I’m focusing on one in particular, the Incredible Hulk.

I have to confess, it’s quite difficult to find nice hardcover collections featuring The Incredible Hulk that you can recommend to non-comic-book fans. Given the character’s fairly massive impact on popular culture, you’d imagine that Marvel would produce any number of easily accessible collected editions featuring the not-so-jolly green giant. He has, after all, featured in two movies in the space of ten years, an iconic television show and a whole host of other media. Unfortunately, Fall of the Hulks is unlikely to be that collection, and is unlikely to prove accessible to new readers looking to pick up a book featuring The Incredible Hulk. While it undoubtedly has quite a few qualities to recommend it, it is certainly not for those unfamiliar with the character.

Men of action...

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World War Hulk (Review/Retrospective)

This is the sixth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s continuity (and particularly their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

Forget sides. They’re all screwed when the Hulk gets back.

– a popular internet meme which puts Civil War in perspective

I have to admit, World War Hulk reads like something of a guilty pleasure. The fantastic artwork from John Romita Jr. (whose fantastical character designs work much better here than in Kick-Ass or even Enemy of the State) certainly helps, as does the relative brevity of the miniseries. It’s a relatively self-contained five-issue storyline, as opposed to the large House of M or Civil War which directly preceded it and Secret Invasion which would follow – it also helps that the tie-in issues seem a lot less essential (and certainly less omni-present) than they did for any of those series. World War Hulk is pretty far from perfect, but it’s an enjoyable little arc from a writer who is clearly familiar with the Incredible Hulk.

Hulk makes quite an impact...

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Planet Hulk (Review/Retrospective)

This is the second in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. We’re taking a bit of a detour this week, but it’ll feed into Marvel’s event-driven central narrative fairly shortly. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

Finally. Hulk knows who to smash.

– Hulk, less than ten pages into the event

Planet Hulk is perhaps a prime example of the type of event-driven storytelling that has become increasingly common at Marvel in recent years. It isn’t really an event of itself, but there’s a strong smell of editorial mandate behind the plot. The key objective – and one conceded by the powers that be – was to isolate the Hulk character from the greater Marvel Universe during the Civil War event (which he would arguably have considerably complicated) and position him for the follow-up event World War Hulk. As such, exiling the Hulk to a foreign planet and watching him play out his own version of Gladiator isn’t exactly the most fluid storytelling direction. However, it’s to the credit of author Greg Pak that the story works as well as it does.

A smashing good time...

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Hulk: Grey (Review)

So far the final book in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s superhero “colour” series (although there was a planned Captain America: White and a rumoured Iron Man: Gold which never got off the ground), Hulk: Grey is perhaps the most fascinating of the three novels. Loeb would go on to writing the on-going Hulk series (to near universal damnation, it should be conceded), suggesting perhaps a closer tie between the author and the character here than in Daredevil: Yellow or Spider-Man: Blue. As opposed to those two novels which covered a relatively large portion of the central character’s life, the flashbacks which provide the core of this particular tale cover a single night – the first night. Perhaps befitting the nature of the Hulk, the narration isn’t provided in monologue here, as it was in the other two titles, instead offering a dialogue between Bruce Banner and Doctor Leonard Sampson, his psycho-therapist. It’s a lovely little story that perhaps isn’t as strong as Daredevil: Yellow, but is still a fascinating read.

It took the Hulk a while to figure out the whole "door" concept...

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Non-Review Review: Hulk

Ang Lee directing a superhero movie? He’s certainly a strange choice to handle the first big screen adaptation of Marvel’s iconic green monster to the big screen, but arguably a smart one. Hulk is at its best when it hints at the psychological melodrama playing out behind its lead character, but suffers greatly from the fact that it is apparently really uncertain about its source material or what it wants to be. It’s weird to see a movie so wonderfully risky in one sense, but so utterly bland in others. Hulk is an experiment, but sadly isn’t consistent enough to be a successful one.

"Hulk Splash!"

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