The end of Batman v. Superman didn't just hint at the creation of the Justice League -- it showed us which DC characters would be part of it.  Justice League continues the story with a new threat, heroes coming together -- and one returning from the dead.

The movie starts with Batman (Ben Affleck) dealing with the chaos in the wake of the death of Superman (Henry Cavill).  Batman is looking into Parademons, insect-like creatures who feed on fear -- and who have been leaving a symbol of three squares in their wake.  It turns out that those creatures are soldiers for Steppenwolf (Claran Hinds), a giant alien with a powerful ax.  He wants to gather the three Mother Boxes, which together have the power to destroy the world.
Batman is putting together a team to stop Steppenwolf.  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) join immediately, but Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) are less willing to join the fight.  And there's a plan to use one of the Mother Boxes to bring Superman back from the dead...

Justice League was uneven.  The first half was a bit boring, from a general lack of action to the redundancy of having two reluctant heroes being pitched.  Things pick up in the second half, though, and once the League comes together it did have the feel and action of a good comic book.  The actors are good (though Ezra Miller won't replace Grant Gustin as the Flash in anyone's mind), but Steppenwolf was a bit generic as a villain.  So Justice League may not match Wonder Woman or most of the Marvel movies, but it's still a decent movie.

Overall grade: C+
Reviewed by James Lynch



All good things must come to an end, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 vol. XXXIX is likely the last DVD collection of episodes from the original series.  (After this, it seems it'd be too expensive to get the rights to the rest of the movies being riffed.)  This collection wraps things up nicely for the series -- and has an interesting bonus for those of us who ordered it early.

MST3K XXXIX has three episodes, all from the Mike Nelson time of the show.  Girls Town is a black and white borderline-exploitation film with tough gals, teenagers in gangs, reform school nuns, and even a few musical numbers from crooners.  The Amazing Transparent Man is a blend of a crime movie and the invisible man.  And Diabolik is about a groovy criminal mastermind -- and the final episode of the original show.  While these aren't iconic episodes of MST3K, they all provide plenty of laughs.  Each disc also has extra features as well.

For something different, the fourth disc -- Satellite Dishes -- has just the host segments from several episodes, from the third season (when TV's Frank joined the show) up to Quest for the Delta Knights.  While it feels a bit strange watching the bits that would be around the movies without the actual movies, these demonstrate that MST3K had plenty of humor on its own, from musical numbers to Crow's evil dark specter twin (Timmy) to the early invention exchanges.

And folks who ordered this collection early got a bonus DVD: The Complete Poopie!  This has two different sets of bloopers, plus Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy segments trying to sell this collection during the Turkey Day Marathon.  And they're all funny -- especially as the folks on screen would keep going or crack jokes after they knew they flubbed their lines or part of the puppets or set fell apart.

I'll miss seeing new collections of the first Mystery Science Theater 3000 series (while hoping the new series gets released on DVD), but at least Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXXIX is a nice way to wrap up the releases from the series.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch



Who'd have guessed a movie with such strong apocalyptic themes would also have such a large amount of humor?   Thor: Ragnarok is one of the sillier movies in the Marvel cinematic universe, though there's plenty of action as well.

Things begin well enough for Thor (Chris Hemworth).  He slays the demon Surtur, who was foretold to have brought abour Ragnarok, the destruction of Asgard.   He exposes Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who had been pretending to be Odin, and the two brothers find the real Odin (Anthony Hopkins) on Earth.

That's when things start going bad.  Odin passes away, and with his death his previously unknown daughter Hela (Kate Blanchett) is released.  Hela is the Goddess of Death, and she is tremendously powerful: casually flinging weapons from her body, slaying Asgardian soldiers by the dozens, and even shattering Thor's hammer.  Her goal: conquer Asgard, then use the Rainbow Bridge to conquer the Nine Realms with her army of undead soldiers and giant wolf.

As for Thor and Loki, they get lost in transit, winding up on a war-planet, where Thor is captured by the Asgardian warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and forced by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to fight in gladiator-style combat.  Worse, the Grandmaster's champion is the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who liked being there and has no problem fighting his fellow Avenger.

Thor: Ragnarok is one of the lighter Marvel superhero movies, but it's still enjoyable.  There are numerous cameos from Marvel characters from the movies and comic books, plus humor coming from seemingly everywhere.  In addition, the cast is quite good, and Cate Blanchett makes a very menacing villain, fine with slaughtering anyone to get what she wants.  The action sequences are good (if very CGI-filled) and this ties into the overall Marvel cinematic universe without overdoing the connections.  This is far from the best superhero movie of 2017, but I enjoyed it.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch