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.
Lauren’s Anime/Manga Pick: Spy x Family – Joke’s on you, Crunchyroll subscription I have repeatedly failed to cancel for way too many months after marathoning all of RWBY (twice), because I kept you around I ended up discovering one of my new favorite shows for 2022: Spy x Family. Adapted from the manga of the same name (which I’ve now read through as I impatiently wait for the show to return from its mid season hiatus), SxF follows the spy known as Twilight on a mission to infiltrate one of the countries top private schools to get close to a student’s recluse father and stop a war between the east and west. To do so, he forms a fake family, unknowingly choosing an assassin to act as his wife, and a little girl with telepathy as his daughter. Seeing as the show is about Twilight’s mission it can sometimes feel like Yor’s assassin side (a side that she is seemingly proud of and enjoys) gets unfairly back burnered for storylines in which she worries about not being the perfect wife and mother, but this is a minor complaint considering I still love her mama bear, sometimes awkward but always terrifying energy as a more than capable protector. An energy which works perfectly with Anya’s little kid big emotions response to everything. She is seriously the cutest, and her reactions to her parents’ thoughts and how she handles her “mission” at school is what puts the show over the top for me, as it takes the content of the manga and elevates it further.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Braveheart – If I had to use just one word to describe Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning 1995 historical epic, Braveheart, that word would be “passionate,” as strange as that may sound to some of you reading this. The romance between William (Gibson) and Murron (Catherine McCormack), the righteous, bloody path the former embarks on after his beloved is taken from him, the shared love he and his fellow countryman have for their home, and the courage they display all give off a sense of intensity and strength. Then James Horner’s sweeping score amplifies it even further, along with multiple harrowing, creative, and often brutal action sequences, and terrific acting across the board. That emotional edge the heroes possess gets you completely invested in their hopes and dreams for freedom, and is contrasted by their enemies who seem cold, clinical, and often lacking in humanity. Braveheart might not be my all-time favorite historical drama, or the most historically accurate, but it’s certainly one of the best out there, as a moving, powerful piece of cinema.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Predator – To prepare for the Hulu-bound prequel, Prey, I decided to rewatch the original Predator film for the first time in… well, way too long. I’ve always loved the 1987 John McTiernan film, and my appreciation for it grew even more this time around, to the point that I gave it a perfect score on Letterboxd. The action, tension, creature design, music, it’s all top-tier stuff. The iconic dialogue is awesome too, aside from a few lines that have aged like milk left out in the sun. Predator also balances camp with genuine badassery better than almost anything released before or after it. You believe in the toughness of Schwarzenegger’s commando squad, their lethality and efficiency, but that makes the terror they feel that much more impactful. Predator is a masterclass example of action-horror cinema, pure and simple. I still love Predators, but I’m not sure what the Hell I was thinking when I put it above the original after my latest viewing.
Lauren’s Streaming Content Pick: Exandria Unlimited: Calamity – Over the years of watching Critical Role, I’d obviously heard mention of this catastrophic event known as the Calamity that brought the Age of Arcanum to an end, but seeing as history was never my strong suit, my brain summarized it as “end of Krypton, ticking clock of doom levels of bad, but with Gods”. And ignorance was bliss. Then the world of Critical Role expanded with the introduction of Exandria Unlimited, a new series of sparsed out shorter campaigns to explore even more of this massive, storied world, this time with GM Brennan Lee Mulligan waltzing in with the sole purpose of wrecking any feeling of comfort and safety over the course of 4 game sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I was expecting sadness and horror, but when the players at the table are exasperatedly saying things like “it’s been 10 minutes” at the immediate plummet into the deep end, you know you’re in for a ride. This brief exploration of the dangers of pride in the hands of extremely powerful magic wielders who looked to fly towards the sun (and the repercussions wrought by said hubris) is full of moments of levity, joy, and badassery so comforting you think maybe these characters stand a chance of rewriting history, even when in the back of your mind you know, you know, there’s another shoe waiting to drop, one that will kick you in the teeth, heart, and soul so violently your body goes into shock as it finally descends, passing some of the most inspired yet horrifying moments I’ve ever seen in any of CR’s content as it goes. I think Aabria Iyengar said it best when she asked Brennan “why are you like this?” as he shepherded the players towards heartbreak and ruin, and though I was left with one hell of a migraine from the emotional damage doled out by everyone at the table, all I have to say is thank you Brennan Lee Mulligan, you gloriously twisted man.
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!