Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Nomadland – Nomadland is a touching, soulful film that follows Fern (Frances McDormand), who embraces a nomadic lifestyle after losing her job. Along her journey Fern forges new, meaningful relationships with others who have done the same. At times it’s genuinely joyous, at others it’s absolutely heartbreaking, and the overall feature is just plain wonderful. Shocking literally nobody, McDormand delivers yet another astonishing, Oscar-worthy performance (although not her best), and the people she encounters, a few of whom are portrayed by real-life, modern nomads, are all fantastic as well. It’s also worth noting that Nomadland is beautifully shot too, with a phenomenal score from Ludovico Einaudi, one of the best I’ve experienced in quite a while. It’s pretty easy to see why this has been winning award after award after award. It’s a masterfully made film in virtually every aspect.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Spider-Man: Far From Home – FFH doesn’t have quite the same heart that its predecessor does, but it’s still one heck of a sequel. The returning cast members are awesome, particularly Tom Holland and Zendaya as Peter and MJ, and newcomer Mysterio is super cool. I really hope that Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t done with the MCU just yet; he’s too talented (and Mysterio is too interesting) to be a one-and-done comic book movie character, so fingers crossed that he’ll have a part to play in the threequel. There are a ton of fantastic action sequences too, especially the ones that make the most out of Mysterio’s skill set, aided by the film’s spectacular visual effects and camera work. And while I love the blockbuster action and superheroics, I think FFH’s humor is its strongest element. I remember having fun when I saw it in theaters, but not that it had Thor Ragnarok/Guardians of the Galaxy-level laughs.
Also, the mid-credits scene features one of my all-time favorite MCU cameos.
Ben’s TV and Movie Pick: Firefly and Serenity – Few TV shows have been done as dirty as Firefly was by Fox, but that didn’t stop it from amassing an army of staunchly loyal fans. This outstanding space western was cancelled after just one season (which was aired only partially and out of order) but those 14 episodes contained a crew of great characters portrayed by a stellar cast with rock solid chemistry, a handful of genuinely fantastic stories, and excellent world-building that made “the verse” feel completely unique and lived in. It also provided huge boosts to the careers of some of my favorite actors like Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk. Despite its rough initial broadcast, Firefly was able to create a fanbase that was vocal enough to get the series the ending it deserved. That closure came in the form of the feature-length film Serenity, which Is one of my all-time favorite movies. Even though it had a rough start, Firefly managed to become a beloved sci-fi franchise and gain tons of devoted followers, which is quite fitting considering the underdog status of the Serenity’s (the ship’s) crew.
Lauren’s Video Game Pick: Hades – As someone who has avoided roguelike games due to my strong understanding of my frustration triggers, my love of greek mythology finally got the better of me. Hades is an isometric underworld crawler that follows Zagreus, the son of the king of the underworld himself, as he attempts to fight his way to the surface and escape. The combat is the focus of the game as the player chooses from 6 different weapons of various fighting styles (the spear and shield being my two favorites as I tend to lean towards ranged combat), constantly evolving as Zagreus earns various boons from the prideful Olympian gods aiding him in his escape, such as chain lightning attacks from Uncle Zeus, to swirling blades left in his wake from Ares, to target seeking arrows from Artemis. Each time Zagreus falls in combat he gets sent back to the home that Hades presides over, full of various mythological favorites like Orpheus, Achilles, and the best boy himself, Cerberus. And though I’ve died plenty of times, what keeps my frustration in check is how all the various storylines build on themselves with each brief conversation had with the characters, slowly revealing details that play with classic stories like Eurydice’s failed escape from the underworld, to Sisyphus’ uphill struggle with the boulder, to the role of Charon the ferryman. Between these stories and the way in which the game actually makes the player feel like they’re accomplishing something by allowing some minor retained gameplay/skill improvements, I’m already almost 40 escape attempts in (with 8 successes) and still loving the game just as much as when I first started playing. It may not surpass The Last of Us Part 2 as 2020’s game of the year for me, but in a year full of great games, competing for second is nothing to scoff at.
Ben’s Movie Warning: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation – I haven’t seen Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in over twenty years (because I’m not a masochist) but I decided to write this long-overdue review to save others from it, and to remind myself how insanely terrible the new Mortal Kombat film (which I’m super excited for) has to be in order to claim the title of “worst video game adaptation ever.” I remember one or two parts that lightly creep into so bad it’s good territory, but the majority of Annihilation is so head-scratchingly, mind-numbingly awful that I, a kid who had watched the previous film dozens of times, thought this sequel was hot garbage. It was so bad that it performed a fatality on the franchise that prevented any other live-action films – rebooted or otherwise – from being made for almost a quarter of a century. It also has the “honor” of being the first piece of entertainment that I have recommended avoiding in the Suggestion Box. Seriously, never, ever watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re welcome.
If you have, my sincerest apologies.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- A Middle of the Row: The Podcast bonus episode on the MCU’s TV show WandaVision, as well as a episode flashing back to 2006’s The Fountain.