Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) ***½
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) ***½
Batkid Begins (2015) ***
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) ***½
Superstore, season 1 (11 24-min. eps., 2016) ***
A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum (1966) **½
For my thoughts on “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, please refer to my full-length review. Before it was released, I joked that when I watched “Batkid Begins”, I had seen the only good Batman movie I would that week. This assessment was based on the negative buzz surrounding BvS. Despite critical derision, I actually enjoyed that movie. It didn’t have the heart of “Batkid Begins”, the documentary following a Make-a-Wish kid’s day as his favorite superhero.
That fourth week of March was also the week that started out with the tragedy in Brussels. I had a difficult time finding a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie that I felt was actually honoring Belgium, so I went for Steven Spielberg’s underrated animated “The Adventures of Tintin”, based on the comic books of Belgium cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the name Hergé and based his title character in Brussels. The comic books were something I treasured as a child and Spielberg’s vision is a near perfect adaptation of Hergé’s work.
I started the week off with the second in the “Samuari” trilogy, telling the story of real life samurai Musashi Miyamoto. “Duel at Ichijoji Temple” documents Musashi’s real turn toward becoming a genuine samurai. His sword skills have become so formidable he is able to take on an entire school of samurai whose master is challenged by Musashi, but his school of followers deems it necessary to ambush Musashi to prevent their master’s demise. Musashi also finally cuts his personal ties with his former friend Matahachi and the woman who loves him Otsu. Once again, this is a samurai flick that makes me believe I could be perfectly happy just watching samurai films for the rest of my life.
One of the television surprises of the year for me is the NBC sitcom “Superstore”. I never would’ve watched this show on my own, but my wife liked the promo spots, so we tried it out. As sitcoms go, it was surprisingly strong right out of the gate. It isn’t brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but it always makes me laugh and does a good job in creating a variety of characters. My favorite parts though are the interstitial shots where they show something weird going on in the background of the department megastore. These don’t have anything to do with the plot, and I suspect they are things people have actually witnessed in a real superstore.
Finally, I was a little disappointed to find that the songs of Stephen Sondheim do a pretty effective job undermining the comedy in the potentially charming slapstick musical “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum”. The actors work their asses off to sell this ridiculous comedy of errors set during the time of Christ, and every time they broke into a song I thought, “Wow, that was funny until that stupid song started.” This is one of those musicals that make me dislike musicals.
Here are the tweets.
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) romance subplot = on again off again Spidey and MJ in Spider-Man 2. #DLMChallenge No. 80
Based on the reviews of #BvS, I decided to watch a good Batman movie this week. #batkidbegins #DLMChallenge No. 82
How I love it when expectations and critical reaction in general are wrong about a movie. #BatmanvSuperman excellent! #DLMChallenge No. 83
NBC's comedy #Superstore was a surprise in how much I enjoyed it, a typical workplace comedy that is somehow atypical.